Undoing the Ego

A True Declaration of Independence

fireworks purple goldLet’s transform Independence Day, the July 4th holiday, into a mystical holy day by looking closely at what Jesus calls “independence” in A Course in Miracles.

In Chapter 4 of the Text, he offers us this prayer:

The Kingdom is perfectly united and perfectly protected, and the ego will not prevail against it.  Amen.

He says that it is a declaration of independence, and that we will find it very helpful if we understand it fully.

Here’s my translation for fuller understanding:  The Kingdom is our true Home. At Home we are all joined in one perfect, formless union.  We are perfectly protected at Home because as the Oneness we really are, there is nobody to attack, threaten or endanger anybody else.  The ego cannot defeat God’s Kingdom because the ego is a figment of our imagination, while our Home shines timelessly with absolute loving light.  And so it is!

Jesus also clarifies that the Bible says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” but it should be, “The Kingdom of Heaven is you.”  In Chapter 5, we learn, “God is not in you in a literal sense; you are part of Him.”  Reminding ourselves that we are the Kingdom of Heaven helps us dis-identify as individual people and reconnect with Spirit.  Effortlessly, we rise above the battleground of the world.  Transcending the human identity doesn’t require a fight–just a change of mind.

This change of mind is affirmed in Lesson 31, “I am not the victim of the world I see” which explains that this idea is “the introduction to your declaration of release.”  As you grasp that you are not the victim of the world you see, you “remind yourself that you are making a declaration of independence in the name of your own freedom.  And in your freedom lies the freedom of the world.”  At first, this seems unrealistic, but with practice, miracles shift your perception from person to Presence.

Paradoxically, we come to realize our true independence relies on our complete and utter dependence on God!  Chapter 11 reveals, “Your whole creative function lies in your complete dependence on God, Whose function He shares with you.  By His willingness to share it, He became as dependent on you as you are on Him. … The belief in ego autonomy is costing you the knowledge of your dependence on God, in which your freedom lies.”

Another way of understanding this is that Jesus was able to lead because he was following the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  As Lesson 169 puts it, “The Son of God has merely disappeared into his Father, as his Father has in him.  The world has never been at all.  Eternity remains a constant state.”  The ego wants to be a self-governing entity, but the truth is, God “has included you in His Autonomy” and that is true freedom.

Happy Independence Day, Mighty Companions!

If you need help practicing the Workbook lessons from A Course in Miracles, sign up for my online class, Workin’ the Workbook.

Copyright © 2014 Amy Torres.  All rights reserved worldwide.

The Course Is Too Wordy

ACIM text verticalMost ACIM students get tangled up with the wordiness of the Text at times.  I have to admit that although the Course can be considered a sacred tome, living prayer, and mythic poetry, that I’m not a big fan of Shakespearean verse (as you may know, one of the miracles of ACIM is much of it is written in iambic pentameter, the meter Shakespeare used when writing plays).

Although many of its passages are beautiful, what really speaks to me through A Course in Miracles is its True Authority–the Voice for God illuminates its pages.  To paraphrase a line from Lesson 12, “Beneath these words is written the Word of God.”

Sometimes I’ve found it helpful to switch to another teaching in order to get the most out of A Course in Miracles.  Usually it is yoga.  Yoga introduced me to mantras, chanting and japa–the repetition of a mantra silently or aloud, by saying it, singing it, and, if you like, using prayer beads.

Here are five ways that mantras help me loosen the hold of the ego mind:

1)    Sanskrit.  Mantras are often chanted in Sanskrit and Sanskrit is primarily a vibrationally based language.  This means that the meaning of the words is not nearly as important as the healing hum that passes through you as you chant.*

2)    Faith.  When you are willing to repeat a mantra without translating it, you let go of control.  The faith that you demonstrate by releasing the ego’s instrument of language and opening your mind to Spirit reinforces your inner conviction that you are, indeed, a conduit for miracles.  In the Manual for Teachers, we are told that, gradually, we learn to use words in a new way–by letting the Holy Spirit choose them for us.  Mantra helps unlock a mental assumption we carry unconsciously–that we need words to communicate–and puts us back in touch with our Presence.

3)    Relief.  The ego is a mechanism of addiction and obsession.  The bottom line addiction we all suffer from is obsessional thinking.  When we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, repetition of a mantra is a huge relief from ruminating endlessly about our worries, resentments, fears, regrets and sorrows.

4)    Simplicity.  All that’s required is to repeat a phrase.  I’m going to offer you the very simple, tried and true mantra: Om Namah Shivaya.  It is pronounced the way it looks–just sound it out.  Don’t be concerned with mispronunciation; there is a saying that God listens to you chant as a parent hears a baby’s first words–full of delight at whatever comes out.

5)    ACIM-Applicable.  If you find that mantra repetition appeals to you, select a phrase from the Course that comforts you, strengthens you, calms you, or inspires you.  Some that I love and depend on are, “God goes with me wherever I go,” “In quiet I receive God’s Word today,” “Into His Presence would I enter now,” “Love created me like itself,” “I am entitled to miracles,” “I am the light of the world,” and “I will step back and let You lead the way.”

You can keep them short but sweet–and often that has the most pure power.  But, you can also combine some of your favorites.  For years I’ve strung together quotes from the Course, “This holy instant would I give to You.  Be You be in charge, God.  For I would follow You, certain that Your direction gives me peace” with “I am not a body.  I am free.  For I am still as God created me” with “I am Spirit” and then added whatever my internal Teacher offers, such as, “I am infinite.  I am eternal.  I am formless.  I am.  Beingness.”  Trust your inner Teacher and let His words pop into your mind and out of your mouth.  You will find that they are Perfect for you.

*  If you must know what it means, Om Namah Shivaya can be translated as, “I honor the divinity within myself.” and “I bow to Lord Shiva.”  In ACIM- speak, “You are one Self with me, united with our Creator in this Self. I honor you because of What I am, and What He is, Who loves us both as One.”  (W-95.15:3)

You may enjoy these related posts from The Unlearning Classroom:   ACIM and Yoga and  Prescription for Inner Peace

If you need help practicing the Workbook lessons from A Course in Miracles, sign up for my online class, Workin’ the Workbook.

Copyright © 2014 Amy Torres.  All rights reserved worldwide.

You Can Learn to Awaken

Did you know that A Course in Miracles is a gentle alarm clock for a part of your mind which has deliberately hypnotized itself into a deep, deep sleep?  This sleeping part of your mind is called the ego.  But you are not the ego.  You are God’s ever-present, never-sleeping Child.

When I began studying A Course in Miracles, I had no idea I was sleeping.  Even though it said over and over that we are dreaming, it took years to filter through my many layers of unconscious denial and blossom into right-minded comprehension.  In the meantime, like most ACIM students, I was approaching the Course as a person, and applying its forgiveness practice to my relationships.

As I willingly chose to give all my relationships and self-concepts to the Holy Spirit, He stripped me down to practically nothing … and I found myself at a crossroads: to continue believing I was a person, or to awaken to the truth that I was not a body, I was free, I was still as God created me.

Ego doubt whispered that this kind of freedom was out of reach, that only saints and avatars  reached Self-realization.  “Sure,” it said, “Dedicated yogis, Indian sadhus and Tibetan monks have a small chance of awakening.  But you?  Ha ha ha ha ha!” Yet Jesus kept explaining that I was already awake, and the only reason I didn’t know this was due to my own active interference with that Knowledge.

The wonderful thing about willingness is that it snowballs into full faith.  The ego could roar menacingly, whisper sweetly, and laugh demonically, but it could no longer convince me that its dream was Reality.  I want you to be this clear and certain, too.

Let’s take a moment together, right now, to absorb this truth.  You are awake.  You are God’s Creation.  You are Beingness Being Itself, right now.  This only seems far-fetched and impossible to “reach” when you actively resist Knowing your True Identity.  Let’s face it.  The real reason we actively resist is not fear.  It is that we want to play God.

There is nothing wrong with this.  But as we all find out sooner or later, playing ego god is a very painful choice. “Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit.  Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be another way.  As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point.” (T-2.III.3:5-7)   Hopefully, this essay activates your turning point.

Once you tire of playing God, awakening occurs naturally.  First there is some tossing and turning.  Then a bit of blinking.  There comes a sleepy insistence on “five more minutes.”  And then an Aliveness, an Awareness, and a simple Joy of Being takes over.  What seemed so real fades away in a holy instant.  What is Real prevails.  “Pain is but sleep; joy is awakening.” (W-190)

What a comfort to have Jesus tell us, “You are not yet awake, but you can learn how to awaken.”  And then he holds your hand every step of the way.  Every lesson in the Workbook gives you a daily instruction.  Chapter 30 guides you with Rules for Decision.  The Manual for Teachers devotes section 16 to how you should spend your day.  And all the pages in between are overflowing with the Holy Spirit’s Direction.  Make no mistake.  You can learn through the ACIM unlearning process if you so choose.

“You have chosen a sleep in which you have had bad dreams, but the sleep is not real and God calls you to awake.  There will be nothing left of your dream when you hear Him, because you will awaken.  Your dreams contain many of the ego’s symbols and they confuse you.  Yet that was only because you were asleep and did not know.  When you wake you will see the truth around you and in you, and you will no longer believe in dreams because they will have no reality for you.  Yet the Kingdom and all that you have created there will have great reality for you, because they are beautiful and true.” (T-6.IV.6:2-7)

You are beautiful and true,
and this Truth can spontaneously arise in you right now!

If you need help practicing the Workbook lessons from A Course in Miracles, sign up for my online class, Workin’ the Workbook.

Copyright © 2014 Amy Torres.  All rights reserved worldwide.

The Atonement Principle

Atonement is an essential topic in A Course in Miracles. Over the years, I’ve compiled a list of references to the Atonement in order to clarify it in my own mind. They are in no particular order, but I did try to keep them short so the point would hit home :) For longer explanations, read Chapter 2 and Chapter 9. Enjoy!

Jesus speaks, “Let me be to you the symbol of the end of guilt [Atonement], and look upon your brother as you would look on me.” (T-19.IV.B.6:1)

“The sole responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept the Atonement for himself.” (T-2.V.5:1)

“The sole responsibility for God’s teacher is to accept the Atonement for himself.” (M-18.4:5)

“When the Holy Spirit is permitted to look upon the defilement of the altar, He also looks immediately toward the Atonement. Nothing He perceives can induce fear. Everything that results from spiritual awareness is merely channelized toward correction. Discomfort is aroused only to bring the need for correction into awareness.” (T-2.V.7:5-7)

“Atonement might be equated with total escape from the past and total lack of interest in the future.” (ACIM, M-24.6:3 … and read the entire paragraph 6)

“The escape is brought about by your acceptance of the Atonement, which enables you to realize that your errors never really occurred.” (T-2.I.4:4)

“[The Atonement is] the acknowledgment that you are not in this world, for the world is unhappy.” T-6.II.5:7

“The full awareness of the Atonement, then, is the recognition that the separation never occurred. The ego cannot prevail against this because it is an explicit statement that the ego never occurred.” T-6.II.10:7-8

“Atonement corrects illusions, not truth. Therefore, it corrects what never was. Further, the plan for this correction was established and completed simultaneously for the Will of God is entirely apart from time. So is all reality, being of Him. The instant the idea of separation entered the mind of God’s Son, in that same instant was God’s Answer given. In time this happened very long ago. In reality it never happened at all.” (M-2. Who Are Their Pupils?)

“Any part of the Sonship can believe in error or incompleteness if he so chooses. However, if he does so, he is believing in the existence of nothingness. The correction of this error is the Atonement.” (T-2.VII.6:7-9)

“If the way seems long, let him be content. He has decided on the direction he wants to take. What more was asked of him? And having done what was required, would God withhold the rest?” ~M-22. How Are Healing and Atonement Related?

“Questioning illusions is the first step in undoing them.” ~T-3.III.2:6
(Atonement is the undoing of illusions)

“The best defense, as always, is not to attack another’s position, but rather to protect the truth.” (This is the Atonement.) ~T-3.I.2:1

“‘The wicked shall perish’ becomes a statement of Atonement, if the word ‘perish’ is understood as ‘be undone’. Every loveless thought must be undone, a wrod the ego cannot even understand. To the ego, to be undone means to be destroyed. The ego will not be destroyed because it is a part of your thought, but because it is uncreative and therefore unsharing, it will be reinterpreted to release you from fear. The part of your mind that you have given to the ego will merely return to the Kingdom, where your whole mind belongs. ” (T-5.VI.9:1-5)

The Atonement protects the truth. The Atonement denies guilt. The Atonement is the Love principle. The Atonement is the final Correction. “Atonement is the Word of God.” ~M-22.1:6
“Healing and Atonement are not related; they are identical.” ~M-22.1:1

“The teacher of God has taken accepting the Atonement for himself as his only function.” ~M-22.1:10

“The Atonement is but the way back to what was never lost.” (T-12.VIII.8:8)

“The Atonement gives you the power of a healed mind, but the power to create is of God.” (T-5.IV.7:1)

“… the Atonement which is the natural profession of the children of God is the purpose [of miracles].” (T-1.III.1:10)

Jesus says, “… I am the Atonement.” (T-1.III.4:1) [when I asked Jesus, I got, “Atonement is the resurrection.”]

“Atonement undoes all errors in this respect and thus uproots the source of fear.” (T-1.III.5:5 emphasis mine)

“But the Atonement restores spirit to its proper place.” (T-1.IV.2:10)

“The purpose of the Atonement is to restore everything to you; or rather, to restore it to your awareness. You were given everything when you were created, just as everyone was.” (T-1.IV.3:6-7)

“Accepting the Atonement for yourself means not to give support to someone’s dream of sickness and of death.” (T-28.IV.1:1)

Jesus teaches us that Atonement denies “the denial of truth” (T-12.II.1:5)

C-Intro: This is not a course in philosophical speculation, nor is it concerned with precise terminology. It is concerned only with Atonement, or the correction of perception. The means of the Atonement is forgiveness.

“The Holy Spirit has the task of undoing what the ego has made.” ~T-5.III.5:5

The sole responsibility for God’s teacher is to accept the Atonement for himself. Atonement means correction, or the undoing of errors. ~Manual for Teachers, 18. How Is Correction Made?

READ Lesson 139: I will accept Atonement for myself. (Lots of clarity and definition of Atonement.)

from Lesson 140: “Atonement does not heal the sick for that is not a cure. It takes away the guilt that makes the sickness possible.”

Miracle Principle #25: Miracles are part of an interlocking chain of forgiveness which, when completed, is the Atonement. Atonement works all the time and in all the dimensions of time. … a bit later in Chapter 1, III.9 it says, “Miracles are selective only in the sense that they are directed towards those who can use them for themselves. Since this makes it inevitable that they will extend them to others, a strong chain of Atonement is welded.”

Miracle Principle #26: Miracles represent freedom from fear. “Atoning” means “undoing.” The undoing of fear is an essential part of the Atonement value of miracles.

“ … the Atonement, which is the natural profession of the children of God, is the purpose [of miracles].” T-1.III.1:10

Jesus says in Chapter 1, “I am in charge of the process of Atonement, which I undertook to begin.” Read III. Atonement and Miracles for complete version.

“I am the only one who can perform miracles indiscriminately, because I am the Atonement. You have a role in the Atonement which I will dictate to you. Ask me which miracles you should perform. This spares you needless effort, because you will be acting under direct communication. The impersonal nature of the miracle is an essential ingredient, because it enables me to direct its application, and under my guidance miracles lead to the highly personal experience of revelation.” T-1.III.4

The Atonement is the only defense that cannot be used destructively because it is not a device you made. The Atonement principle was in effect long before the Atonement began. The principle was love and the Atonement was an act of love. Acts were not necessary before the separation, because belief in space and time did not exist. It was only after the separation that the Atonement and the conditions necessary for its fulfillment were planned. Then a defense so splendid was needed that it could not be misused, although it could be refused. Refusal could not, however, turn it into a weapon of attack, which is the inherent characteristic of other defenses. The Atonement thus becomes the only defense that is not a two-edged sword. It can only heal. ~T-2.II.4 read the rest of II. The Atonement as Defense

Chapter 9: The Acceptance of the Atonement

M-22. How are Healing and Atonement Related? “Accept Atonement and you are healed. Atonement is the word of God.”

People like to break the word “Atonement” into “at one ment,” but Ken Wapnick always protests strongly against this. His reasoning is that when we accept the Atonement for ourselves, we reach a state of at One ment which is the Unity of God’s Mind. In the meantime, Atonement is a tool and a reminder that Christianity distorted this idea and turned Atonement (and salvation) into punitive devices. Under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we use Atonement as a loving Correction, the one “defense” that never harms because it is the Love principle–the reminder that the ego dream of separation has never actually occurred.

“Salvation is recognition that an error has been made. Atonement is acceptance the error has been corrected.” ~Helen Gordon, ACIM teacher, There’s Nothing Going On But Your Thoughts

What Is Easter, Really?

heart waterEaster, according to A Course in Miracles, is a purification of our thoughts.  Not in a sinful, guilty, watch-what-you-think way, but as a way to clear your mind.  In ACIM, Jesus offers us a mind training, which is another way of saying purification.

Lesson 151 mentions Eastertide and explains that purified thoughts lead to resurrection.  In Chapter 6, Jesus tells us, “Your resurrection is your reawakening. … rebirth itself is merely the dawning on your mind of what is already in it.  God placed it there Himself, and so it is true forever.”  As we clear the mind of false beliefs (that is, purify our thoughts), we uncover our true Identity, which is formless, infinite and eternal, without the need for crucifixion or human death. Remember, “The body neither lives nor dies, because it cannot contain you who are life.” (T-6.V.A.1:4)

Miracle principle #7 states, “Miracles are everyone’s right, but purification is necessary first.” Purification, in the Course, is a synonym for forgiveness. When we practice forgiveness, we discover that the Holy Spirit removes “all faith that you have placed in pain, disaster, suffering and loss.  He gives you vision which can look beyond these grim appearances, and can behold the gentle face of Christ in all of them.”  The gentle face of Christ is “the great symbol of forgiveness.” (C-3.4:5)  “Seeing” the face of Christ has to do with insight, not eyesight.  It is spiritual vision–the recognition that within, under and behind every form in the world of form lies formless Truth.

But, you have to give Him your belief in pain, disaster, suffering and loss.  This is both the purification process and the practical application of forgiveness–giving your thoughts to the Holy Spirit.  No rituals are necessary; no fasting, no self-punishing atonement.  All that is necessary is the willingness to follow Guidance, to think differently, to change your mind.  Clear directions as to how to do this are all throughout the Course, especially in the 365 lessons found in its Workbook for Students.  Helen Schucman once complained to Jesus that his course did not work!  He asked her to be honest about whether she was actually applying its principles.  Purification can only occur if we actually use the ACIM practices :)

Last but not least, let’s be clear that ACIM is a mind training–not brainwashing–program.  We chose to dream a dream of bodies and brains.  Mind training undoes the sticky attachment to the dreamer of this dream, to the ego’s hypnosis that you are a person.  Jesus says in the Course, “The message of the crucifixion is perfectly clear: Teach only love, for that is what you are.“  It is not the personal self that is teaching love.  It is opening the mind to God’s Thought and allowing It to move through what seems to be “you” at this point in your undoing that produces miracles by practicing forgiveness and results in recognizing Who you already are.  That is the Joyful outcome of the ACIM purification process.

Happy Easter!

water crown

Previous Easter posts from The Unlearning Classroom are:  From Crucifixion to Resurrection and It’s Easter–Time to Wake Up!

If you need help practicing the Workbook lessons from A Course in Miracles, sign up for my online class, Workin’ the Workbook.

Copyright © 2014 Amy Torres.  All rights reserved worldwide.

Practice Should Not Be Perfect

A Course in Miracles has an entire Workbook for Students which guides us through 365 days of spiritual practice. Let’s look closely at Lesson 95 which takes particular care in describing how to practice. Once we have reached this lesson, we must be almost four months into our Workbook study. We are told that five minutes of every hour has special advantages at this stage of learning due to our human tendency to let the mind wander. Jesus knows we need mind training because we lack mental discipline. We are forgetful and distracted. So short, structured, and frequent practice periods set us up for success.

Working with Lesson 95, we are advised to use the first five minutes of each waking hour to affirm, “I am one Self, united with my Creator.” We are cultivating a state of mind in which there is no doubt that this is true, saying with all the certainty we can give, “I am one Self, united with my Creator, at one with every aspect of creation, and limitless in power and in peace.” Then, with eyes closed, we say, slowly and thoughtfully, letting the meaning of the words sink deeply into our mind, “I am one Self.” Repeat this several times and feel the meaning of the words penetrate and saturate the mind, “I… am… one… Self.”

We are specifically told that if we forget or are unable to do our practice not to let this be a temptation to quit. “This should… merely be recognized as what it is; a refusal to let your mistake be corrected, and an unwillingness to try again…. The Holy Spirit is not delayed in His teaching by your mistakes. He can be held back only by your unwillingness to let them go. Let us be determined… to be willing to forgive ourselves for our lapses in diligence, and our failures to follow the instructions for practicing the day’s idea…. When you fail to comply with the requirements of this course, you have merely made a mistake. This calls for correction, and for nothing else.”

The ability to tolerate our human imperfection and strengthen our allegiance to the Holy Spirit’s correction is what the Workbook practice is really all about. The practice is about choosing again-choosing God’s Guidance. The practice is about loosening our grip on the ego as savior-undoing our attachment to our personal story and treasured wounds. The practice is about developing a positive obsession with God and running eagerly to practice every hour with a sense of joy and expectancy that we will be greeted with our Father’s Love and swept into His arms joyously.

Spiritual practice, whether it’s A Course in Miracles or any other path, is about becoming Mind-full of God’s Presence all day long and through our sleeping dreams as well. It’s not about ritualistically, superstitiously, and mindlessly repeating words–but if this is the best we can do for now, that is better than mindlessly worrying and fixating over the same old problems. If we try to perfectionistically control our spiritual practice, then we’re playing God instead of accepting His Guidance. For practice to make perfect, we have to be willing to connect to God’s Will and experience His Perfection.

If you need help practicing the Workbook lessons from A Course in Miracles, sign up for my online class, Workin’ the Workbook.

Copyright © 2014 Amy Torres.  All rights reserved worldwide.

Coming Apart at the “Seems”

A Course in Miracles tells us that everything we think we see is an illusion.  It says there is no world, there are no bodies, and life as we know it is merely a dream.  Grasping this intellectually is the first gulp. After we swallow, we still need to digest this sublime wisdom.

One simple and effective way of digesting this is what I call coming apart at the “seems,” a play on “coming apart at the seams.”  It’s a spiritual way of falling apart which, paradoxically, reveals that you actually have it Together.

Who we areLet’s look at several instances of “seems” from the Course:

In Lesson 6: I am upset because I see something that is not there, we are told, “Today’s idea is useful for application to anything that seems* to upset you, and can profitably be used throughout the day for that purpose.”

Lesson 8 gives us a practice, “I seem to be thinking about [name of a person], about [name of an object], about [name of an emotion]. But my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.”  Lesson 9 calmly points out, “It is difficult for the untrained mind to believe that what it seems* to picture is not there.”

In Chapter 31 we read, “Whatever form temptation seems* to take, it always but reflects a wish to be a self that you are not.”

Lesson 68: Love holds no grievances, begins with this:  “You who were created by love like itself can hold no grievances and know your Self. To hold a grievance is to forget who you are. To hold a grievance is to see yourself as a body. To hold a grievance is to let the ego rule your mind and to condemn the body to death. Perhaps you do not yet fully realize just what holding grievances does to your mind. It seems* to split you off from your Source and make you unlike Him.”

After practicing Course principles for some time, my language changed to include the word “seems” on a regular basis.  It was the outcome of mind training.  For example, I would tell myself,

“I seem to be upset that my phone bill is outrageously high!”

“I seem to be angry that my yoga practice seems to keep throwing my back out.”

“The hurricane warnings seem to be scaring me because I still haven’t gotten flood insurance.”

“I seem to be a person and my body seems to have a stomach ache.”

“The world seems very real and the atrocities occurring in it seem highly disturbing.”

This one word “seems” had a potent ability to tune me in to my Inner Teacher.  “Seems” changed everything.  “Seems” slowed my thought process down and provided holy instants of illumination.  Light streamed through the reasons I thought I was upset and unveiled that I’m never upset for the reason I think (see Lesson 5).  “Seems” allowed me to see that I was defaulting to the ego as my teacher.  Then it became easy to choose again–choose the memory of God within me (the Holy Spirit) as my Guide.

In Chapter 5, Jesus tells us, “The Holy Spirit has the task of undoing what the ego has made.”  You and I do not have to undo anything. We can leave undoing to the Holy Spirit. But we do have to choose to follow His Guidance.

open head w mechanical parts“Undoing” means uprooting the ego thought system.  This naturally leads to seeing through ego illusions to the Truth.  The ego thought system thrives on holding grievances. We do not have to try not to hold grievances. We simply need to become aware that we have chosen a “grievance” state of mind.  Once we realize that we are the dreamer of the ego dream of separation, and that grievances, guilt, fear, and punishment perpetuate the dream, then we can choose another teacher, the Holy Spirit, to undo our attachment to grievances.

Coming apart at the “seems,” for me, is the Holy Spirit’s undoing of “Amy.” Several years ago it came to me that I was thinning away, like the heel of a threadbare sock. The Course puts it this way:

“By focusing on the good in him, the body grows decreasingly persistent in your sight, and will at length be seen as little more than just a shadow circling round the good.” (T-31.VII.3:3)

This is one of the happy outcomes of coming apart at the seams. As Shawn Colvin sings in her song, Round of Blues, “it’s a new breakthrough, it’s an old breakdown.” If you’re sick and tired of your old breakdown, let’s have a new breakthrough together by coming apart at the “seems” :)    To the ego this is terrifying, but when you allow yourself to move your attention from the ego to the Holy Spirit, you find merciful detachment from this convincing, but false, terror.  Freedom awaits.

A Course in Miracles gives us concrete tools to apply to this seemingly material world while we believe we’re in it.  If you’re ready to join me in coming apart at the “seems,” please feel free to insert “seems” into every situation and emotion in your life that seems to be upsetting you.  And let me know how it goes.  I’d love to hear from you.

*Emphasis mine

If you need help practicing the Workbook lessons from A Course in Miracles, sign up for my online class, Workin’ the Workbook.

Copyright © 2014 Amy Torres. All rights reserved worldwide.

The First Lesson Is Humility

Before I discovered A Course in Miracles, the Sufis came into my life.  Just to name them is to do them a disservice, because there is no “ism” to Sufism. It is the all-embracing religion of Love, encompassing all religions, and all peoples, everywhere.  Even so, there are different lineages of Sufis, and my teachers stemmed from the Chishti master, Hazrat Inayat Khan. Bless his heart, Wahiduddin has been providing the world with a message a day from the master for as long as I can remember.  I love the way they interweave with ACIM.  Here is one of my favorites.

Bowl of Saki, March 13. Commentary by Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan:

Murshid 3Every moment of our life, if we can see wisely, contains some fault or error, and asking pardon is just like purifying the heart and washing it white. Only think of the joy of humbling yourself before God! … humbling yourself before that Spirit, that Ideal, who is the true Father and Mother, on Whose love you can always depend — it is a spark of His love which expresses itself in the earthly father and mother — and in whatever manner you humble yourself before Him, it can never be enough. To humble your limited self before His Perfection, that is to deny yourself. Self denial is not renouncing things, it is denying the self, and its first lesson is humility.

This is self-denial: that a man says, ‘I am not, Thou art;’ or that an artist looking at his picture, says, ‘It is Thy work, not mine;’ or that a musician, hearing his composition, says, ‘It is Thy creation, I do not exist.’ That soul then is in a way crucified, and through that crucifixion resurrection comes. There is not the slightest doubt that when man has had enough pain in his life he rises to this great consciousness. But it is not necessary that only pain should be the means. It is the readiness on the part of man to efface his part of consciousness and to efface his own personality, which lifts the veil that hides the spirit of God from the view of man.

As life unfolds itself to man the first lesson it teaches is humility; the first thing that comes to man’s vision is his own limitedness. The vaster God appears to him, the smaller he finds himself. This goes on and on until the moment comes when he loses himself in the vision of God.

Thank you, Wahiduddin, for Bowl of Saki! 

From the Heart, Radhika aka Amy Torres.

sufi heart 1

“Of your ego you can do nothing to save yourself or others, but of your spirit you can do everything for the salvation of both. Humility is a lesson for the ego, not for the spirit. Spirit is beyond humility, because it recognizes its radiance and gladly sheds its light everywhere. The meek shall inherit the earth because their egos are humble, and this gives them truer perception.” ~ACIM, T-4.I.12:1-4

My Interview with Ken Wapnick

RoscoeIt was leaf-peeping season in Roscoe, New York in October 2000, when I drove up to spend the weekend interviewing Ken Wapnick (in between attending his workshops) at The Foundation for A Course in Miracles on Tennanah Lake. The trees along the winding upstate roads were raining gold and burgundy leaves.

The air was crisp. Plaid woolen jackets and red hunting caps were the local fashion statement.  Along with fishing rods and wading boots.  Known as Trout Town USA, the Roscoe visitor’s guide bragged, “Come cast a line in our waters–you’ll be hooked for a lifetime!!!”  Well, I was already hooked.  Hooked on God and His Message in   A Course in Miracles.  And I felt driven to ask Ken Wapnick, the first human teacher of the Course, some questions face to face.

Today, February 22nd, is Ken’s birthday, so I thought we could celebrate by receiving some timeless insights he shared with me almost 14 years ago.

While re-reading our conversation, it struck me that Ken exhibited a constancy of good cheer, unshakable faith and generosity that are signs of God’s Mind. This quote from a section in Chapter 21 which Ken often referred to, “The Last Unanswered Question,” came to me:

“Happiness must be constant, because it is attained by giving up the wish for the inconstant. Joy cannot be perceived except through constant vision. And constant vision can be given only those who wish for constancy.” (T-21.VII.13:2-4)

Here is an excerpt from the 30-page interview that Ken was gracious enough to have with me over the course of an entire weekend in October 2000.  It was intended to be published in The Sun magazine, as a follow-up piece to Higher Learning by D. Patrick Miller, an interview he did with Ken and Gloria which appeared in Issue 231, March 1995.  For reasons I don’t really understand, my interview stayed between me and Ken … I lost the desire to publish it.  I would apologize to him about this from time to time, and he would always forgive me :D

Now the timing seems right to surface some of the material, so here goes.

Amy:  Early in the Text, we’re told purification is necessary and it is our thoughts that are being purified. And we’re also told that “This is a course in mind training.”  Can you speak about purification and mind training?  It sounds to me like choosing to be brainwashed in the nicest sense of … washing your brain.

Ken:  Washing your mind.  Purification is not a word which is used very often.  What purification really means is to undo the guilt that’s in our minds.  The guilt is the impurified part of our mind.  The impurity.  And forgiveness is what undoes that.  It has nothing to do with purification of the body.

Amy:  It’s all about forgiveness.

Ken:  It’s all about forgiveness.  That’s the great purifier.  And guilt is the impurity.

Amy:  And when we reach the state of forgiveness, what happens to us?  Do we just evaporate in a sense?

Ken:  You remain Amy, just as lovely as you are now, the only difference is that you would be happy all the time, there would be no anxiety, there would be no fear, there would be no guilt, there would be no depression, there would be no concern for anything, and you would be happy and peaceful all the time.

Amy:  But does the dream evaporate?  The dream is an illusion …

Ken:  Yes, it does.  But it doesn’t do it immediately.  The Course has the concept of the happy dream and there’s one passage that says you could not waken from the nightmare into reality because the terror would be so enormous and therefore you have to take small steps and those are the gentle, or happy, dreams of the Holy Spirit.  So, in the very end when you totally accept the Atonement, and you’ve forgiven totally, then you do awaken from the dream.   Which doesn’t mean that your body goes “poof!”  It just means that you know for certain that you are not your body.

Amy:  And then do you stop dreaming?  Do you die?

Ken:  Well, physical death has nothing to do with it.  It’s totally irrelevant.  But before you reach that point you become less anxious, less fearful, less angry, less judgmental, less guilty, etc., etc., and it’s a process.  Within the illusion of time, it’s a process.

Amy:  Does the branching of the road come before the happy dream? [The Branching of the Road is section IV in Chapter 22]

Ken:  The branching of the road, in a sense, would represent your choosing the happy dream.  When you basically make the choice, “I’m not going back this way again, and I may still be afraid of the final awakening because I would lose this individual self but I’m really making a commitment now, not to go back to my old ego’s ways but continue to look forward.”

Amy:  Does the branching of the road correspond to that part in the Course where Jesus talks about how it may seem very painful that you have to let go of relationships or habits in your life?

Ken:  Well, yes, in the sense that when you make that choice, the branching of the road, you’re really making a commitment to really let go of yourself.

Amy:  The small self?

Ken:  Yes, the small self, and that’s where the pain and fear becomes more acute because your ego recognizes that you really mean business.  I’ll be discussing that in the workshop tomorrow. [The workshop was called "The Scissors of Duality"]

Amy:  Speaking of the small self, I’ve noticed in my own life that as I have developed ego strength that I’ve been able to relinquish my ego.

Ken:  Mm hmm, yes, that’s the way it works.

Amy:  Can you talk about that a little, because it’s so paradoxical.

Ken: If the person doesn’t have ego strength it’s because there’s too much fear.  Or anxiety, or guilt, or whatever form it takes.  So how could you let go of your ego which is all about guilt and fear anyway?  Developing what psychologists refer to as ego strength is really a way of letting go of a lot of senses of inadequacy, anxiety, fear of death, etc.  That’s how it works.

Amy:  So there’s a real logic to it.

Ken:  Oh, yeah.  You can’t let go of your ego until you first have one.

Amy:  You can’t let go of your ego until you first have one.

Ken:  Yes.  And not having ego [strength] is basically autism, ultimately.  And that’s really intense fear.  Because that’s what the ego is.  Jung talks about two stages of life and the first stage is developing an ego.  And Jung said that the second stage is that every problem over the age of 35 or 40 is a spiritual problem.  What he meant was that the first part of your life is learning how to adapt to the world and how to get by in the world.  And the second part of your life you spend learning how to let all that go.  I don’t agree with a lot of what Jung said but here I think he was right.  The East says the same thing.  With men, anyway, you spend the first part of your life raising a family and having a wife, and when the children are grown you leave, and you go on your spiritual search.  The form seems a little odd to us in the West, but the idea is that you spend the first part of your life developing your ego, which really means learning how to undo a lot of fear, and that’s the first step.  The second step is, you can now take a step beyond that, and let go of this ego stuff entirely.

There’s more to this interview, but I’ll stop here for now.  Happy Birthday, Ken!  Your personal identity and body was born into the dream on February 22, 1942.  And, hopefully, in the words of the East, you achieved moksha, liberation from the ego, on December 27, 2013.  You are alive and well in my heart and the Universal Heart.  Heart within Heart

Namaste~  Amy

Copyright © 2000 Amy Torres.  All rights reserved worldwide.

 

 

 

 

A Happy Conversation About Death

My friend and mentor, Jon Mundy, took time out from his ACIM tour here in Florida to chat with me about something which is always at the back of everybody’s mind–the Grim Reaper, Angel of Darkness, Father Time, death!

The Course explains, “The death penalty is the ego’s ultimate goal, for it fully believes that you are a criminal, as deserving of death as God knows you are deserving of life. The death penalty never leaves the ego’s mind, for that is what it always reserves for you in the end.” (T-12.VII.13:2-3) 

So we decided to have a happy conversation about death.  Yes, you heard me–a playful, irreverent, happy conversation about death!  Smudges found it entertaining, and you’ll see Gatita’s response in the video.

Jesus tells us, “When you are tempted to yield to the desire for death, remember that I did not die. You will realize that this is true when you look within and see me.  Would I have overcome death for myself alone? And would eternal life have been given me of the Father unless He had also given it to you?  When you learn to make me manifest, you will never see death. For you will have looked upon the deathless in yourself, and you will see only the eternal as you look out upon a world that cannot die.” (T-12.VII.15:1-6)

Jon, who has eluded death several times, speaks from experience in the video below about timelessness, our inner Light, and the true purpose of the body.  Click here to watch A Happy Conversation About Death.

If you need help practicing the Workbook lessons from A Course in Miracles, sign up for my online class, Workin’ the Workbook.

Copyright © 2014 Amy Torres.  All rights reserved worldwide.