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.

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I’m kind of an asshole…

Chapter 5, section 5 “The Ego’s Use of Guilt”, paragraph 2, sentence 3:

“What is truly blessed is incapable of giving rise to guilt, and must give rise to joy. This makes it invulnerable to the ego because its peace is unassailable.”

I really liked the idea of a peace that is unassailable. Wouldn’t that be nice? Not to have to worry about being attacked all the time? I’ve written about this earlier in regards to schizophrenia, where I have this feeling that someone can annihilate me. Attack me at the deepest level.

So this kind of set the stage for the following:

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“If the ego is the symbol of the separation, it is also the symbol of guilt. Guilt is more than merely not of God. It is the symbol of attack on God.”

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Oh man…. I had never looked at it this way before. As an attack. But I think it’s totally appropriate.

In high school I was on the golf team, and there was a ladder system to where every week you would challenge the person above you to work your way up the ladder. One week during a challenge I was in charge of the scorecard, and towards the end of the round I erased one of my earlier scores and dropped it down by a stroke. The dude caught me and called me out, but I ended up winning anyway so it kind of got dropped.

But this is something that has left a deep wound in me. Whenever my thoughts drift to golf, they undoubtedly hit on this incident and I ruthlessly tear myself up for it. I’m trying to separate myself from that action. That I am not that person. I am something better apart from them. That I will punish myself harsher than anyone else ever would, so that I might be acceptable in their eyes. It’s like “You don’t have to punish me! I’ve already taken care of that 100 times over! You can approve of me now, right?…… Right?”

This all set the stage for the following, which really hit me:

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“The guiltless mind cannot suffer. Being sane, the mind heals the body because it has been healed. The sane mind cannot conceive of illness because it cannot conceive of attacking anyone or anything.”

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So……. this is huge for me. I’ve been dealing with chronic pain for 5 years now. Every day. It’s totally changed my life. In many ways for the good, but I’m so fucking tired of it. I feel I’ve learned the lessons and am ready to move on. To not have to constantly deal with this.

And in reading these passages, I realize that I have had a very victim mentality with this. It’s like I was at the whim of my body. Unable to control this pain. It was doing it to me. Poor me, right? BUT… I think what was actually happening here is I’m attacking myself. And wow, that is not fun to think about. To go from being this innocent victim worthy of sympathy, to being the kind of person who is so viciously attacking himself that it manifests physically and persists for 5 years…. That’s quite a shift. But I think it’s the absolute truth. It’s like I force myself down into this little ball, and whenever I reached out trying to express myself, I would ruthlessly attack myself until I shrunk back and hid again.

While getting a massage a few months ago I had this image of my inner child trapped in my right forearm (which is the main source of my chronic pain). He had built himself a fort out of Legos and completely walled himself off inside it. He wanted nothing to do with me because all I ever did was attack him. This little innocent kid, and I would just ruthlessly assault him. Now that I think about it it’s like “Well no shit, of course all this is going to lead to illness, emotionally, mentally, physically…” But my ego likes to cleverly disguise this so it can be the “good guy” somehow.

So that’s pretty fucking depressing right? Admitting that I’ve been enthusiastically beating up a little kid all these years? But what often happens with the course, is that it shows you both how twisted you can be and then the moment after it liberates you from it. So right after I had all those dark thoughts I realized “Well… what am I really attacking here?” And the answer is nothing. I’m wrapped up in this ego illusion, and whenever that is the case nothing I do is real. So I’ve been attacking myself for years, but there’s nothing to really atone for. I can drop it in an instant because none of it was real. The ego doesn’t like that because it wants to perpetuate the cycle because it feeds on it, but I think it’s entirely possible to see this for what it is and let it all go.

And I feel much more in charge when I realize that my illness is a result of my own doings. It means I have the power to release it. I’m not a victim here.

I’m seeing a pattern that goes something like this.

Step 1: Admit I’m an asshole who does some pretty twisted stuff.

Step 2: See that I’m not really an asshole, that I’m really free and have done no wrong.

I think a lot of people would rather skip step 1 and just emerge in this space of being innocent and holy, but I don’t think this really works. Or at least it doesn’t for me…

Vulnerability in the eyes of the Divine – thoughts from “A Course in Miracles”

This is from “A Course in Miracles”. Chapter 2, section V. “The function of the miracle worker”.
Paragraph 7 and 8 have some really juicy stuff about feeling vulnerable. About what we try to hide from everyone.

“I said before that the Holy Spirit cannot see error, and is capable only of looking beyond it to the defense of Atonement. There is no doubt that this may cause discomfort, yet the discomfort is not the final outcome of the perception. When the Holy Spirit is permitted to look upon the defilement of the altar, he also looks immediately toward the Atonement… Discomfort is aroused only to bring the need for correction into awareness.”

Atonement here is really just a synonym for healing. So it’s saying that spirit can’t see all these walls you’ve spent so much time building up. It doesn’t exist to it. So when it visits you it immediately cuts through to your core. Which is definitely uncomfortable. That’s not a place that’s touched very often. But it’s ultimately necessary, because this is a very healing process if allowed to continue.

The term “defilement of the altar” really struck me. It does seem like that’s what I’m trying to protect when I think people are looking at me. That part of myself that was once pure, but that I corrupted. Soiled. Did the most vile unspeakable things to, which no one can ever know about. And I’ve constructed oh so elaborate methods to keep this hidden. I’m like 99% sure they will never see the light of day again.

But it seems like that’s the whole point of this Holy Spirit. That’s what it seeks out. It’s its purpose. So I think I had this belief that I needed to be “good” because that’s what would attract divine attention to me. Would lift me up. But what if it’s actually the opposite? That in acknowledging those places in us that are trapped in despair we are raising a flag, saying “Hey divine spirit dudes! Here I am! I’m ready for some lovin’!” And at first the attention we receive here is uncomfortable because it’s digging up all that crap, but the shovel is in the hands of the divine, so if we can trust in that and let go, we will be healed.