Today’s ACIM Lesson

Setting A Trap for God – a unique way to understand prayer

My intuition led me to the renowned Aramaic bible scholar, Dr. Rocco Errico, as I explored the essence of sayings attributed to Jesus.  One thing led to another, and blessedly, below is the first from a series of six videos that arose out of our initial in-person conversation.

Which Version of ACIM Is Legit?

People feel strongly about the different versions* of A Course in Miracles, about what was edited or left out. What amazes me, although I guess it shouldn’t given the divisive nature of the ego, is the lack of empathy in seeing the best in their brothers.

It should be obvious that everyone involved with the original preparation and publication of A Course in Miracles was motivated by Love.  Not human love, but the inner grace that guided them and they chose to follow.  Everyone followed the best they could.  What we see in our brother is what we see in ourself.

Vision reveals everyone is Innocent.  Of what could anyone involved in delivering A Course in Miracles be guilty?  “You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgment.” (T-3.VI.3:1)

Over the years, I’ve bought every version of the Course to see for myself if the differences are significant and concluded that any version of A Course in Miracles can heal the split mind.  How can that be?  Because I’m following the Author, not the editor.

“All fear comes ultimately, and sometimes by way of very devious routes, from the denial of Authorship.  The offense is never to God, but only to those who deny Him.  To deny His Authorship is to deny yourself the reason for your peace, so that you see yourself only in segments.  This strange perception is the authority problem.” (T-3.VI.10:4-7)

Jesus guides us all throughout the Course to ask, “What is the purpose?” of every decision.  He doesn’t leave us hanging.  Over and over, in various ways, he tells us, “The sole responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept the Atonement for himself.”  (T-2.V.5:1)   Atonement is waking up!  Atonement is the end of ego interference and the recognition that separation never occurred.  Forgiveness, complete non-judgment, is another way of describing meaningful purpose.

Both Atonement and forgiveness release the belief in false identity — the ego — and it is recognized that we are not bodies, we are free, for we are still as God created us: Being.  Debates and arguments are for doers.  Doers are people who want to maintain identification with the ego and avoid undifferentiated Being at all costs.

There are those who state that crucial material was left out of ACIM, without explanation. But anyone who is truly interested can read Absence from Felicity by Ken Wapnick, Journey Without Distance by Rob Skutch and Understanding A Course in Miracles by D. Patrick Miller, to name a few books that give background on the subject.  Click here to read what Gary Renard has to say.  And here for Rev Tony Ponticello’s view and his response to Gary.

But don’t get caught up in a “camp” — that’s schismatic, which is exactly what the ego wants, misses the point of ACIM entirely, and is just plain silly.  Anyway, do you want to read about A Course in Miracles, or do you want to follow the guidance of A Course in Miracles?

It seems to me that Helen Schucman became a clearer transmitter for the Voice from God as she became more comfortable with the scribing process. Personally, I have no problem with early distortions of Jesus’ Message and personal material meant for her and Bill Thetford being kept private.  We still have over 1200 pages of wisdom repeating the same idea simply because we are too deaf, dumb and blind to get it the first time!

Read the Introduction to the Text:  “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.”  Read (even better, practice) Lesson 189:  I feel the Love of God within me now.   It says, “Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.”

Isn’t it obvious that wasting time on which version is “right” is an ego ploy? What an ironic distraction! Any Course student worth his or her salt would recognize that in a heartbeat. A Course in Miracles isn’t important! The versions aren’t important!  Read any version you prefer.  They are all part of the illusion.

The worthy thing about the Course is its Message of Generalization — we are all the Same One – and ACIM offers us the method of forgiveness for finding that out. If you have any questions, and you are a true Course student, how about bringing them to the Holy Spirit and getting the Answer you need Directly?

And remember, the Holy Spirit’s Answer is a silent Love, a still Peace, a unified Oneness. There is no specific information. Specifics and information are not of the Abstract Mind of God.

I write this to get it off my chest. I would hope we can have a respectful conversation about this subject — and about any and every subject, for that matter. Anyone who attacks, points a finger or assigns blame is totally missing the point of A Course in Miracles.   Okay, I’ve said it.  Now let’s all choose again and go Home together. Namaste.

*Different versions of ACIM include the originally published books from the Foundation for Inner Peace, the publishing arm founded by Judith Skutch; editing done by Helen Schucman and Ken Wapnick (at first there were three separate books: the Text, Workbook for Students, and Manual for Teachers; eventually they were bound under one cover), the Urtext, the original version, the sparkly edition, and now, A New Edition, compiled by Robert Perry and published by his organization, the Circle of Atonement, among others.

Ask Amy: Forgiveness – Am I Doing It Right?

Guy QuestionQ:  Ever since I began studying the Course, I have been questioning my forgiveness practice. Am I doing it right? It’s hard to tell. Your technique of slowing down, breathing, feeling what I feel, placing my hand on the “troubled area” and giving it to the Holy Spirit has helped me. After the first time I tried this, I felt like a major chunk of guilt was released. But how do I know?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAA:  How do you know if you’re doing the forgiveness practice right? Well, Jesus says you will feel lifted up and carried ahead. He says you will smile on everyone you see and walk with lightened footsteps; your mind will be lit with happiness and love. He says that forgiveness sparkles on your eyes as you awake and soothes your forehead while you sleep.

Notice that all these descriptions reference the body. Even though Jesus is very clear in the Course that the only illness is mental illness, that does not preclude the necessity to work on the level of the body. When you give your body to the Holy Spirit, He uses the body to undo the body. For instance, Lesson 353 instructs:

“My eyes, my tongue, my hands, my feet today
Have but one purpose; to be given Christ
To use to bless the world with miracles.”

Remember, you, the person, cannot assess whether you’re doing it right. In fact, the clue that this is an ego question is the word “doing.” The ego is the do-er. Your true nature is Being. Trust the clicks of recognition that move through you as you practice forgiveness – those clicks are deeper than the individual self and can be relied on.

Those clicks are holy instants, when Grace frees you from grievances and you see everyone as “not guilty,” including yourself. Guilt is the glue that keeps us stuck to the ego thought system. People often tell me, “I feel guilty,” not “I think I’m guilty.” Guilt is felt in the body, and exercises that bring our attention to the body dissolve sticky ego illusions.

Jesus assures us that if you are sincerely practicing the Course, you cannot fail. The ego does its best to have us doubt and deny genuine spiritual experiences. Don’t fall for it. Trust that the major chunk of guilt that you felt was released, actually was.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with my body-oriented approach to the forgiveness practice,
you can watch my video, “The Purpose of the Body” on YouTube and read articles from my blog series, “How to Use the Body While You Think It’s You.”

This Q&A appears in the Ask Amy column from the Nov-Dec 2016 issue of Miracles magazine. Miracles is a well-loved staple in the ACIM community. For a subscription, email Jon@miraclesmagazine.org or call 845-496-9089.  Click here to purchase digital copies.  To ask Amy a question, email miracles (at) amytorresacim (dot) com

Today’s Miracle: I love your hair!

It’s my birthday and I’m entering Stater’s, my local supermarket, pushing my shopping cart and feelin’ good. As I step into the store, a beautiful very pregnant woman dressed all in white, with two angelic small children at her side, beams at me and says with true delight, “I love your hair!”

“Thank you!” I say, open to fully receiving her love and my whole body does a little happy dance as I spin off down Aisle 5 for some toilet paper.  As I look at the delectable array of tempting brands Quilted Northern, Charmin, Scott, and feel so grateful to live in a place with plumbing and great water pressure (I never take this for granted), a very handsome young man comes up to me and says, “I like your look! Your gray and white pants go so well with your hair! You look sharp.”

My Lord, it’s a very shiny bright happy birthday indeed.  Or, as I like to think of it, Unborn Day 🙂

You know, a person easily could have dismissed those comments, or misinterpreted them, or even been offended — if the ego was in charge. But see how wonderful it is to be 62 years of age with silvery white hair when, as A Course in Miracles puts it, “Around you angels hover lovingly” and “What was a place of death has become a living temple in a world of light.” (T-26)

Thank you, everyOne, for your beautiful birthday wishes. May you become aware of miracles rippling through your everyday life, starting right now!

Today’s Miracle: Hummingbird & Bird of Paradise

bird-of-paradiseWorking from home suits me perfectly, as does spontaneity. This morning, more than one student reached out to me, asking if I was available for a session. Yes, my calendar shows there is time in the day 🙂 So out I go, cell phone in hand, to my backyard.

To call it a backyard actually does it a disservice, as it is more of a Zen sanctuary, with a swimming pool that looks like a curvaceous pond, and a small forest of trees on a hill which cloisters the garden, giving it privacy.

I climb into a zero-gravity lounge chair and commune with God, opening as a clear conduit to do my job as a miracle worker (in its formal capacity — being a miracle worker or the recipient of miracles, when needed, is a full time endeavor).

A hummingbird buzzes through the air, the blue sky surrounding it crackles with vitality. As I turn my head to follow the hummingbird’s flight, a huge bird of paradise blossom fills my view. The California sun glitters brightly as my phone rings, and the work of recognizing our True Nature continues with the beautiful soul on the other end.

The Path of No Path by Peter Russell

Spiritual teachers with non-dual leanings often say that there is no path to enlightenment. There is nowhere to get to; you are already enlightened, you just do not know it. There is no need for a technique or practice; they will only keep your mind trapped in the illusion of relative phenomena. Do not meditate; do nothing.

There certainly is a profound truth embedded in such statements. When awakening occurs, there is the realization that there really was nowhere else to get to, no higher state of consciousness to achieve. The world remains as it is, and your experience remains as it is. What shifts is your relationship to experience, or rather your non-relationship to it. The identification with a constructed sense of self is no longer there. “You” are not thinking, seeing, breathing; thinking, seeing, and breathing are just occurring. It is obvious that it always was this way; but all our wanting, striving, clinging, avoiding, and self-identification obscured this simple fact.

In this sense there is nothing to do. The very opposite: it is our doing that is the problem. When we let go of all attachments as to how things should or could be, we wake up to the truth of what is. Even the word enlightenment is misleading; it implies some other, “higher”, state of consciousness. This is what makes the statement “you are already enlightened” so confusing. But to say you are already awake, but not awake to your own wakefullness, or you are already aware, but not fully aware of awareness, makes more sense.

From the awakened perspective, it is true that there is nowhere to get to. This is why many teachers say: Do nothing. Stop. Don’t meditate. Don’t try and get somewhere other than where you already are. There is nowhere to go. Nothing to do. There is no path.

And yet… Many of these teachers did tread a path. Some spent years investigating the true nature of our apparent “I-ness”. Others followed a path of total surrender, or a deep deconstruction of experience. My own glimpses of the truth have come in periods of deep meditation, when the mind is totally relaxed and still. Then I see so clearly that there is nothing to do and nowhere to go. And yet, if had not followed a path that allowed me to drop into a deep stillness and let go of my habitual mode of experience, I would not have fully appreciated this truth.

So from the unawake perspective—which is where I am most the time, and probably most of you are most the time—there are paths to follow. And, until such time as they are no longer needed, the paths that help the most are those that develop the skill of letting go, allowing the mind to relax, releasing all effort, all trying to get somewhere. So, do not meditate with an intent to reach some enlightened state of being. But do take time to let the “doing mind” die away, to sink into your own being. Take time to learn to do nothing.

I recently took Peter Russell’s online meditation class and highly recommend it.  Click here to explore Peter Russell’s teachings.

Ask Amy: Is ACIM Against Meditation?

Guy QuestionQ:  I’ve heard that the Course is against meditation.  Is that true?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAA:  The Course is not against meditation.  Sometimes people misunderstand the passage where Jesus says, “Nor is a lifetime of contemplation and long periods of meditation aimed at detachment from the body necessary.” Taken out of context, that sentence might seem to be against meditation.

But in context, Jesus is telling us that fighting sin and temptation are actually ways of staying engaged with the ego. He explains that ritualistic meditation is counterproductive: “Routines as such are dangerous, because they easily become gods in their own right, threatening the very goals for which they were set up.” (M-16)  In other words, the ego is only too happy to cleverly take over meditation for its own goal of “doing” rather than surrendering to the much happier realization that “I need do nothing” but allow the Holy Spirit to completely take over.*

Throughout the entire Course, Jesus advises that we develop a taste for spending quiet time with God. There are many meditations throughout the 365 lessons in the workbook, but usually they are called exercises or practice periods (see www.facebook.com/acimeditations). The Workbook starts off with meditations that are just a minute or two and builds to a point where we are told that we will eagerly await being able to devote time solely to God. The Text and Manual for Teachers also have meditations, and they are called holy instants, recommendations to be still and listen, wait in silence, spend a quiet moment opening to His Correction and His Love, among other phrases.

Interestingly, forgiveness, the cornerstone of the Holy Spirit’s practice, can be considered an “outward” meditation. ACIM teacher Don Giacobbe, in his book, Christian Meditation Inspired by Yoga and A Course in Miracles, proposes, “Forgiveness is meditation applied outwardly toward others. … Forgiveness and meditation have a reciprocal relationship. Since forgiveness is meditation applied outwardly, the inverse is equally true: Meditation is forgiveness applied inwardly toward yourself.” How beautiful and profound to discover that the Course offers us both internal and external meditations to access direct experience of our Innocence which is our true nature. “For now we seek direct experience of truth alone.” (W-Pt.II.Intro)

It could be said that prayer and meditation are the same thing. Both require a willingness to release belief in the body and personal identity. If we can do this for just one moment, time collapses and “the memory of God shimmers across the wide horizons of our minds.”

The ego would have us form a special relationship with meditation so that the ego can feel expert and masterful. Jesus and the Holy Spirit would have us relinquish all control and discover that meditation is the doorway into our natural Self. When we do this, day and night becomes an ongoing mindful meditation as we find, “How quiet is the time you give to spend time with Him, beyond the world.” (W-164)

* Mooji’s video, “Is It Important to Devote Time to Meditation?” may help you understand.

This Q&A appears in the Ask Amy column from the July-August 2016 issue of Miracles magazine. Miracles is a well-loved staple in the ACIM community. For a subscription, email Jon@miraclesmagazine.org or call 845-496-9089.  Click here to purchase digital copies.  To ask Amy a question, email miracles (at) amytorresacim (dot) com

Ask Amy: The Meaning of Emptiness

Guy QuestionQ:  What is the spiritual meaning of “emptiness” and how do I achieve it?

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAA:  Emptiness, in a spiritual sense, means identity-less freedom. The ego tells us that to be identity-less is to not exist, and that emptiness is to have nothing, physically and emotionally. Actually, Emptiness is the ultimate discovery that you are not the body. A Course in Miracles tells us over and over again, “you are not a body, you are free, for you are still as God created you.”

Emptiness is an Advaita Vedanta/non-duality term. ACIM does not speak of God-Mind as Empty. But this is just a matter of semantics. The Course uses words like God, Mind, Christ, Self, Love, Timelessness, and many more, which point to the same Emptiness. Also, Jesus refers to holy instants and the Atonement.

He explains that holy instants help us step outside of time and glimpse Timelessness (Emptiness), because a glimpse is all we can handle, at first. The Atonement, which is the denial of all that is not Emptiness, undoes us completely so that we rest in God (Emptiness), our natural state. “In timelessness you rest, while time goes by without its touch upon you, for your rest can never change in any way at all.” (W-109)

As far as “achieving” Emptiness, that is unnecessary. Each of us is willfully unaware of ever-present Emptiness until grace or prayer begins the awakening process. Your question indicates the waking process has begun in you. The ego will try to “achieve” Emptiness, but this is just a ruse to maintain control. Emptiness does not need to be achieved, for It is what you already are.

That being said, some ways to discover Emptiness, are:

* Practice the ACIM workbook;

* Pray, in this way: “Help me recognize what I already am,” “Rid me of ego and replace me with You,” etc.;

* Read self-inquiry books, including Who Am I? by Ramana Maharshi, I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj and Wake Up and Roar by Papaji;

* Attend satsang. These days attending satsang is as easy as watching YouTubes of Mooji, Eckhart Tolle, Gangaji and many others. If you are willing to travel, you can experience the energy field of satsang in person.

“The way to correct distortions is to withdraw your faith in them and invest it only in what is true.” (T-3.II.6:1) This undoing process inevitably purges the ego, and all that remains is the real you–Emptiness.

This Q&A appears in the Ask Amy column from the May-June 2016 issue of Miracles magazine. Miracles is a well-loved staple in the ACIM community. For a subscription, email Jon@miraclesmagazine.org or call 845-496-9089.  Click here to purchase digital copies.  To ask Amy a question, email miracles (at) amytorresacim (dot) com

The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

* * *

This poem by Mary Oliver helped save my life many years ago.  It can do the same for you, if you let it.  Thank you, Mary.

The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

This poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer helped me be true to myself many years ago.  It can do the same for you, if you let it.  Thank you, Oriah.