Progression of Correction

I’ve been doing a lot of chewing the past couple weeks on this idea of relinquishing control to the divine.

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Chapter 2, section VI. Fear and Conflict, paragraph 1:
“My control can take over everything that does not matter, while my guidance can direct everything that does, if you so choose.”

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As I’ve seen this happen, I’ve been able to experience what a relief this is. How it removes this gigantic burden off my shoulders and lets me get back into the flow of life.

The past couple days I started to realize there is a progression here. When what the course refers to as the Holy Spirit first starts correcting the ego it’s very abrupt. I go for long walks pretty much every night, and a good example of this first stage happened as I was waiting for a car to pass in front of me before crossing the street. I noticed I was trying to do this thing where I would heal the person with my gaze. Like I would look into their soul and cure whatever ailed them.

I realized this is something I’ve been doing for a long time, and the Holy Spirit interrupted this process and was like “Hey, do you see what are you doing here? Healing people is my job, you don’t need to try to shoulder that responsibility. Let me do the hard work. Just relax.” And then I was like “Oh… You’re totally right, I’m beating myself up doing this, and not really accomplishing anything.”

So there was this whole dialogue that started where I saw this habit I was engaged in, had it interrupted, and then analyzed what was going on. Why was this habit there in the first place? What does it mean for my ego? What’s the best way to correct this? And on and on and on…. I do think dialogs like this are helpful to put things into context. Make all this a little more digestible, and easier to share with others. But at the same time they can very easily lead to stagnation. They can be a trap.

Here’s where I started noticing stage 2 of the correction process. When whatever habit was disrupted in stage 1 gets disrupted again in the future, that dialogue happens less and less. At first maybe I just summarize what I had gone through in stage 1. Then maybe it’s a few sentences. Then just 1… or just a few words. The basic idea is that I transition much quicker from a stuck position to getting back into the flow of life.

And what I’m just beginning to see is actually a third stage. I started noticing that it went from a whole analysis, to a couple sentences, to a couple words, to just one word, and then it dropped down to just a feeling. I could tell when this loop was starting before I got any thoughts in my head. So the correction happened RIGHT after the disconnected thought, so fast that I couldn’t even really tell what was happening. Just a slight slowdown, a slight restricted feeling, and then back moving again. Like I had digested pretty much everything I needed to learn from that lesson.

One of the main reasons I like walking at night is it really clears my head. Gives me a different perspective on all this stuff that’s whirring through my head. And I always have a notepad with me to jot down when things start clicking (many a blog post has originated on these walks…). I realized tonight that these walks are a perfect illustration of the stages.

When I first have a correction and am in stage 1, I stop walking, pull out my notepad, and jot down my ideas. This is very restrictive because I’m not moving anymore. I’m static. My ego might be learning, but at the expense of really living. Then in stage 2 I might just stop and jot down a word. And in stage 3 I never stop walking. And I noticed that if I stay in stage 3 for a little bit, it feels like I have a force field around me. A bubble of love. That there is nothing that can distract me or slow me down, because the correction is happening before it even enters my awareness. It’s like I’ve fully released control and the Holy Spirit is holding me in its hands.

 

So the take away here should be to get out and go on walks! Improve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health! Is there an easier, legal way to do all of this? I don’t think so…

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Split mind and “minor” miracles

This is a perfect example of how unique and valuable the course is. I originally read this a month ago, and did get quite a lot out of it, but I reread this passage in a study group this morning and had a completely different understanding. That’s why you can never really be done reading this book. After only a month this little idea has changed so much. And this book is like 1,000 pages long…

The course often talks about a split mind. On one side we have the ego, and on the other side we have our spirit. This naturally produces a lot of friction, as these two sides seem to be in direct opposition to each other.

This is a fundamental concept that is talked about in pretty much every spiritual system, and it seems like everyone has a different solution. Some say to eradicate the ego, that ego death is the ultimate goal. Some say you have to retrain the ego. Force it to produce different, loving thoughts. Others say this split is irreconcilable. That it has to be accepted for what it is and lived with.

I’ve tried all of these, but ultimately they did very little to help. They actually probably did more damage than anything else. I realize now that self attack is never a solution, which was my approach to the ego for some time.

The course lays out why trying to resolve this split on your own is a lost cause.

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Chapter 4, section 1 “Right Teaching and Right Learning”, paragraph 2:
“Nothing can reach spirit from the ego, and nothing can reach the ego from spirit. Spirit can neither strengthen the ego nor reduce the conflict within it. Your self and God’s Self are in opposition. They are fundamentally irreconcilable, because spirit cannot perceive in the ego cannot know. They are therefore not in communication and can never be in communication”

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These two minds live in completely different worlds. There is no frame of reference for either one. You can’t teach the ego anything.

The course poses a different solution.

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“If you are willing to renounce the role of guardian of your thought system and open it to me, I will correct it very gently and lead you back to God.”

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Hmmm, that’s a new one. I don’t fight the ego, I don’t try to change it, I let the divine take care of that. Another burden dropped. And this is actually something I’ve been witnessing within myself for years. Where I will start having a very ego-based thought loop start, then all of a sudden I get this completely different thought dropped in that breaks that loop and brings me out of it. It’s like a friend is reminding me “hey, you don’t have to do this, let me lift you up out of here before you get sunk in too deeply”.

Sometimes I go right back into the loop, but most of the time I smile seeing how silly it was. I’d always kind of thought this was dumb luck, or just a random coincidence. But now I see this was the divine reaching down and helping me out. This intervention has happened to me a couple times today, and afterwards there has been immense gratitude and appreciation that wells up within me. It’s such a validation that the divine is connected to me, helping me out in my day to day existence. On the surface it might not appear to be some huge miracle where I am walking on water, or emerging from an accident unscathed, but to me these gentle reminders are just as special.

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“And gratitude to God becomes the way in which He is remembered, for love cannot be far behind a grateful heart and a thankful mind.”

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This is so cool to me. For the course to explain something that is already happening. So I can consciously direct it. Put more energy towards it and see the results.

It feels like so many solutions that other spiritual systems propose are creating something out of nothing. It’s like you’re almost going against your nature. Fighting upstream. Trying to force these changes. I’d much rather just tap into something that’s already happening. Especially something that allows me to relax. Drop burdens and responsibilities instead of adding more. The more I can offload onto the divine the better… I’m tired of fighting upstream…

All aboard!

Every Tuesday evening I hold a course in miracles study group in my apartment. This past Tuesday as we were having a discussion I had a very acute awareness that I was splitting my mind. One part was present, engaged in the conversation, while the other was trying to figure out what each person was thinking. How they were feeling. Analyzing the dynamics between everyone.

After watching this for a bit I realized it was totally unnecessary, and that I had the power control whether this happened. That I could instead pull this back and be fully present with these people. This really allowed me to see everyone. Not as some mental fabrication that I constructed, but who they actually were. They really started coming to life, and I really started to enjoy myself.

Since then I’ve been constantly playing with this idea of a split. Watching myself as it happens. Seeing how it makes me feel, and then bringing it back home. When I am able to bring that split back and consolidate myself, I feel like a different person. A person I have seen flashes of over the years, but it’s never been consistent. And I realized tonight that this split represents a transition. A passing of the torch. A death and a birth.

Growing up, I built my identity based on isolation and video games. It was rigid, nervous, static, “safe”. It was like wearing a thick hoodie that I was hiding within. Trying to make sure no one could see me.

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I feel this identity is very much represented in that split. Whenever I see the split happening, I feel this identity in my body. How uncomfortable it is. How rigid and compulsive it’s thoughts are. How it’s trying to categorize everyone into little boxes so it can “understand” them. So it knows how to behave to evade any real interaction. So it knows how to avoid being seen.

When I pull this split back, there is a new identity taking hold. Instead of this restrictive, rigid winter jacket, it’s more like a lightweight jacket. Something both casual yet a little dressy. Easy to move in. It makes me feel confident, loose, clearheaded, calm.

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This new identity has been building its strength for a while now, and is ready to take over. It doesn’t need that old structure anymore. It’s still fighting to hold on, but we can all see that it’s over. It’s time has passed. That there is a new life waiting for me now. Joy and happiness to be had right here. Dangling at my fingertips. Things that were completely unknown to me with that old identity, but that I am now ready for. Especially now that I have this slick new jacket that I can really move around in.

It feels now like I’m saying goodbye. Not angrily, or like I’m in a huge rush. The train is slowly pulling out of the station and this old self is still running beside me, waving, trying to catch my attention. I’m smiling and waving back, knowing that the train will soon pull out of the station, pick up speed, and that I’ll never see him again.

I’m not sure where this train is headed, but that doesn’t concern me. It just feels good to be moving again, windows down, wind whipping through my hair, getting to see the countryside and interact with some new people. I’ve made some wonderful friends already, and we’ve barely just left 🙂

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Who’s on your altar?

A lot of the pieces of the puzzle came together tonight and I got a nice image that encapsulates a lot of what I’ve read in the Course In Miracles up to this point.

So God created us in his image. Since we are literally a part of him, it would reason that we have that same need to create. The same need to explore. So when this idea of separation came about, we naturally dove right in because that’s our nature. It’s just a new playground to create in. What would it be like to be a little god? That was the beginning of this path we are all walking down.

And in order to really experience this, we had to usurp the power of God. We had to separate ourselves. Build our own altars and deem ourselves “god”. We look out from this throne and create our world. Without God’s help. I think this was probably fun and exciting at the beginning, but slowly started to twist in on itself and become decrepit due to the immense burden of that responsibility. Think what it means to take over for God. He knows all, is all, forgives all, loves all. There is no way we could even hope to mimic a fraction of this on our own. But that doesn’t stop us from trying. From believing it’s possible. So we plod onward, the weight of the world slowly, relentlessly, unapologetically grinding us down. And regardless of the toll this takes, we refuse to give up… Refuse to lose…

Until we do. Until we turn around from this path and start walking backwards towards where it all began. Towards those open arms welcoming us back home. It’s like we were all floating down a river, and there was an inlet into a swamp that we all swam down. God is sitting back in the river, patiently waiting us to explore this path and make our way back so we can continue on down the river.

There are many obstacles on the way back though. One of the primary ones is guilt. As we wade through all of the decrepit shit we have created we punish ourselves relentlessly. But I realized tonight, what is really happening here? When we punish ourselves for the things we do? We are still enthroned on that altar, pretending to be God. Thinking what we created is real, and punishing ourselves as we believe we have to. As after all, we are god here, that is our responsibility.

But as we start to really step off that altar, we can see that the idea of punishment is silly. We are all just a bunch of kids in God’s sandbox. We’re just moving around sand. Nothing we create is real. Nothing we create is permanent. It’s like a kid that had built a sand castle and crying when someone pushes it over. God is just sitting on the side of the sandbox smiling. Knowing that nothing we do can cause any real trouble. Ready to clean us off after we’re tired of playing, and gently take us back home for a nap.

I started reading the manual for teachers and am loving it. Much different tone than the text. This lesson really struck me.

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Manual for teachers, number 10 “How Is Judgment Relinquished” , paragraph 5:
“Therefore lay judgment down, not with regret but with a sign of gratitude. Now are you free of a burden so great that you could merely stagger and fall down beneath it. And it was all illusion. Nothing more. Now can the teacher of God rise up unburdened, and walk lightly on.”

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So after seeing all this I’ve started asking myself “Who’s on the altar?” If I’m in fear it’s still me up there. But I need not be concerned with what’s happening. I’m just playing in that sandbox. This releases that guilt and I can start shifting the altar from me to God. And as soon as I do this, the sense of responsibility completely drops away and I find peace.

The Obligation of Loneliness

The theme of this past weekend was loneliness and isolation. It started off by watching the movie “Lars and the Real Girl” which really touched me. Afterwards, I felt an intense, acute loneliness for the first time in quite a while. Probably since I established a close group of friends through the Traveling Psychic Supper Club. Next was “Only God Forgives” which is an incredibly isolating movie. Then Saturday night I had a huge perspective shift with my closest friend.

It’s like I had separated a large part of myself and invested it in her. A place it didn’t belong. Whenever we fragment ourselves there will undoubtedly be isolation and loneliness. Even if the hands in which it’s resting are incredibly loving. That they were so loving gave me the illusion that I was whole, but that evening I realized I wasn’t. That part of myself became dislodged and exposed the underlying loneliness.

Initially it was very unpleasant, but I think this shift was absolutely necessary. Not only in consolidating my energy in order to obtain wholeness, but also in the ability to continue to grow in that friendship without this clinging energy getting in the way.

Then to cap off the Ryan Gosling theme I watched “Blue Valentine” which is a very sad movie about what else… isolation and loneliness… What a fun filled weekend!

So it appears like the universe was trying to make a point here. It wanted me to really evaluate the depth of my loneliness. It had been quite a while since I had done this, and I have changed SO MUCH recently that there was probably going to be a different understanding now.

So while I was meditating Sunday night I had this belief pop up that goes something like “In order to understand and empathize with those that are isolated and lonely, I have to be isolated and lonely.” Like I need to be able to show them that we’re in the same boat. Sharing the same story. But this is not true. I can be happy and whole and still empathize with those that aren’t. I can feel for more than those who are exactly like me.

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Chapter 6, section 1 “The Message of the Crucifixion”, paragraph 10:

“We are still equal as learners, although we do not need to have equal experiences. By being able to hear the Holy Spirit in others you can learn from their experiences, and gain from them without experiencing them directly yourself. That is because the Holy Spirit is one, and anyone who listens is inevitably lead to demonstrate His way for all.”

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Relating to someone who is suffering at their current level doesn’t help. This doesn’t heal. True healing happens in helping them bridge the gap from their loneliness to their wholeness. To their divine. I will see the divine in you, which gives you the opportunity to see it as well.

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Chapter 3, section 2 “Miracles As True Perception”, paragraph 6
“Truth overcomes all error, and those who live in error and emptiness can never find lasting solace. If you perceive truly you are canceling out misperceptions in yourself and in others simultaneously. Because you see them as they are, you offer them your acceptance of their truth so they can accept it for themselves. This is the healing that the miracle induces.

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It seems like if two people in a relationship (all kinds – not just romantic) are lonely, there is comfort in sharing this loneliness. It’s like “I’m miserable, but at least I have company!” And it can also seem like there is an obligation for each party to remain lonely. That they owe it to the other person to do this. Like if one person became happy, it would be a sign of abandonment. That if they really cared about them they wouldn’t do this.

I asked myself “Is that what’s happening with me?” and got a very interesting response…
Isolation and loneliness have been major themes my entire life. I’ve been unable to establish genuine bonds with others at school, church, sports, social events… And in those rare instances where something was starting to develop, I would somehow distance myself from them or sabotage the relationship.

I think this goes back to childhood. My mother and father had a relatively good relationship, but I think my mother quietly dealt with severe isolation and loneliness. And as a baby, getting approval from your mother is your highest priority. Your life literally depends on it. So if your mother is isolated and lonely, it’s natural that you would mimic her. Establish the same pattern to garner her approval. And then you could never change from this, as this would be an abandonment. A rejection of the person who gave you life.

I think this is one reason why there has been conflict between us as I got older. I wanted to make genuine connections, grow and evolve, be happy, but unconsciously I believed that I had to stay lonely. That she was essentially forcing me to do this. So naturally I resented her for this without really understanding what was happening.

But now I do understand. Now I am in a place where I do have genuine connections. Where I am happy. Where I have people surrounding me who I love. And now I have the opportunity to invite her into this space. To release her from that loneliness.

Ultimately it’s still her decision, and I can’t force her out. But even if she chooses to stay, this no longer affects me. To truly love someone is not to jump in the pit with them, it’s to patiently sit on the outside with an outstretched arm, waiting for them jump up so you can pull them out.