Undoing the Ego

Ask Amy: What Is the Mind?

Guy QuestionQ:  According to the Course, the mind is not the brain because the brain is a body part and we are not our bodies.  But how do we think if not with the brain?  What is the mind?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAA:  Your question cuts to the core of the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles.  What is beyond the body that can comprehend the message of ACIM?  And who is reading the Course if not you, the person, encased in a body complete with a brain?

There is no way to actually explain or pinpoint the mind because it is formless and beyond the deliberate limits the ego has set on human comprehension.  “Problems that have no meaning cannot be resolved within the framework they are set.” (W-96.3:1)

Having said that, it is a major turning point in the life of every Course student when she or he realizes that Jesus is always addressing the mind — not each of us as people.

ACIM uses the term “mind” in three ways: ego mind (wrong-mind), God Mind (One Mind), and the decision-making part of the mind that has free will and choose to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance (right-mind).  The ego dreamt up the body and its brain as a symbol of separation to keep us unaware of our Source, God’s Unified Mind.  Ego thinking is dualistic and based on opposites, contradictions, comparisons, judgment, guilt and attack.

But the Holy Spirit can translate what the ego has made and give it a loving purpose.  “Yet God created One Who has the power to translate in form the wholly formless.  … Only forgiveness can relieve the mind of thinking that the body is its home.” (W-192)

Throughout the Course, Jesus is addressing our power of decision as a right-mind, not as a person with an ego-brain, to stop deluding ourselves about our true Identity.  When we “remove the blocks to the awareness of Love’s presence” (ACIM Intro) it is revealed that we are a formless Oneness joined as One.

Whereas the brain is tangible, the mind is abstract, meaning it is not a physical entity.  “Complete abstraction is the natural condition of the mind.” (W-161)  Over and over, Jesus tells us that “Ideas leave not their Source.” and “You are as God created you.”  Somewhere inside we all know, “I am as God created me.”  That knowing is what led you to ACIM.  That knowing is what is reading this column right now.  That knowing is helping you awaken to your true Identity.

“A sleeping mind must waken, as it sees its own perfection mirroring the Lord of life so perfectly it fades into what is reflected there. … the wakened mind is one that knows its Source, its Self, its Holiness.” (W-167)

The answer to your question lies in your willingness to not know anything as a person.  Step back and let the Holy Spirit lead the way.  Lesson 45 teaches, “God is the Mind with which I think” and asks, “Where, then, are your real thoughts?” … We will have to look for them in your mind, because that is where they are.”

God Thoughts are not based on memory or language — they are extensions of love equally shared with all.  You, your One Self, is God’s Thought.

I invite you, right now, into your One Self.  Be willing to trust the Holy Spirit completely in this moment.  Allow your attention to shift from ego-brain to One Mind.  In this holy instant discover your mind is within the Heart of God where it has always been.

For more on this subject, watch Metaphysics of A Course in Miracles on YouTube.

“On this side of the bridge to timelessness you understand nothing.  But as you step lightly across it, upheld by timelessness, you are directed straight to the Heart of God.  That knowing is helping you awaken to your true Identity.” (W-167)

This Q&A appears in the Ask Amy column from the Nov-Dec 2014 issue of Miracles magazine.  Miracles is a well-loved  staple in the ACIM community.  To get a subscription, email Jon@miraclesmagazine.org or call 845-496-9089.  To ask Amy a question, email miracles (at) amytorresacim (dot) com

Ask Amy: Insight Into Prayer: ACIM and Ho’oponopono

Guy QuestionQ:  I pray that we would know the Peace of God, but I have mixed feelings … for those I see as suffering in some way, I take responsibility by saying, “I’m sorry; please forgive me; thank you; I love you.”  Can you offer some insight about prayer practice?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAA:  Let’s begin with what A Course in Miracles means by prayer.  In Chapter 3, we’re told, “… the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness …  The prayer for forgiveness is nothing more than a request that you may be able to recognize what you already have.” (T-3.V.6:1-5)  You can apply this to your brothers simply by requesting that they recognize what they already have — which is timeless, formless, unified Love.

In The Song of Prayer, an essential supplement to ACIM, it says, “Prayer is a stepping aside; a letting go, a quiet time of listening and loving.  It should not be confused with supplication of any kind, because it is a way of remembering your holiness.” (S-I.5:1-2)  Holiness belies suffering.

It may seem harsh or unrealistic to point this out, but suffering is only seen by the ego.  Since ACIM is teaching us to identify the voice of the ego in order to be free of it, it is necessary to clarify your thought process.  You’re not being asked to pretend or lie — if you see human suffering and your heart yearns to help in some way, prayer is a great choice.  However, the way you pray makes all the difference.

Jesus is uncompromising in explaining that seeing suffering is not compassionate, and what we consider worldly problems are not only absurd, but unreal.  Still, we are using the world as a classroom to discover that we are delusional and hallucinating, and prayer uncovers the Answer.

Your mixed feelings indicate you are lacking faith that God can provide the Peace of God.  Your desire to take responsibility is an indication of playing ego god.  As a Course student, look very honestly at your motivation for saying, “I’m sorry; please forgive me; thank you; I love you.” which is the Hawaiian practice of ho’oponopono.

According to www.ancienthuna.com, “Ho’oponopono means to make right.  Essentially, it means to make it right with the ancestors, or to make right with the people with whom you have relationships.  We call this the Hawaiian Code of Forgiveness, and it’s an important thought, because when we forgive others, who are we forgiving?  Ourselves, of course.”  Ho’oponopono is a valid spiritual path.

The Course also teaches that it is only yourself that needs to be forgiven, and that the only  mind that needs healing is your own.  The telltale sign that your choice to use ho’oponopono is ego-driven is that you have mixed feelings.  Inner conflict is always of the ego.

If you were practicing with your Inner Teacher, your prayer would be that everyone recognize what they already have and what they already are.  As a Course student, your prayer method is to step back and let the Holy Spirit lead the way.  Say, “Holy Spirit, help me recognize what I already am, and, in so doing, save the entire world.”

Then you come to realize the world is not real and you have been dreaming!  Prayer is both a process of discovering your true Identity, and a state of Being in which you live as your true Identity.  Forgiveness helps you undo all belief in individuality and discover you are prayer.

Through the prayer process, you come to realize that by imposing a personal sense of responsibility you actually reinforce the very suffering you wish to heal.  Rather, you need do nothing except to allow the Holy Spirit to use you as a conduit for His loving, light-filled miracles.

If you would like to pray together, watch Five Keys to Forgiveness on YouTube.

This Q&A appears in the Ask Amy column from the Sept-Oct 2014 issue of Miracles magazine.  Miracles is a well-loved staple in the ACIM community.  To get a subscription, email Jon@miraclesmagazine.org or call 845-496-9089.  To ask Amy a question, email miracles (at) amytorresacim (dot) com

Gaze on your Self

My Sufi teacher told me I had the penetrating gaze
I turned this gaze on many and it helped them dissolve

One day the Inner Voice imparted,
“Turn this gaze on your Self.”

The Beacon of Light annihilated all that was-not
And what remains simply Is

A Little Nothing Nobody

In 1992, I was working for an advertising industry trade magazine.  One aspect of that job was appearing on a monthly cable TV business show to review commercial campaigns.  This was a glamorous leap for me, who had never been in the public eye before.  After I had been doing this for a few months, a friend called to say he had seen me on TV.  He sounded quite impressed.

I heard myself say to him, “I know, can you imagine?  A little nothing nobody like me?”  We had a big laugh together.

Afterwards, I chastised myself for saying I was “a little nothing nobody.”  It was a time in my life when I was building up my self-esteem and I didn’t want to be self-critical.  Yet, oddly, calling myself “a little nothing nobody” felt very good.  There was a freedom and humility in it that was so relaxing and liberating.

cosmic heart infinityThis recognition is deep within all of us.  The Self knows it is no body and invites us to awaken to this Truth all the time.  “What is the ego?  Nothingness, but in a form that seems like something.” (C-2.2:1-2)

Even though I focused my attention, at that time, on building my self-esteem, for some reason I never forgot this phrase, “a little nothing nobody” and the quiet joy it delivered.  This remembering is the memory of God within.  We all have it; you just need to pay attention to inner messages and subtle cues that remind you of what you already know: You are not a body.  You are free.  For you are still as God created you.

Ask Amy: You Have to Feel to Heal

Guy QuestionQ:  I’ve been told, “You have to feel to heal” and I’m not sure what this means, whether it applies to Course students, and how to do this.  Can you clear this up for me?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAA:  “You have to feel to heal” is a saying used by psychotherapist, members of 12-step groups, and many other recovery venues.  John Bradshaw may be the one who introduced this expression in 1986 in his excellent PBS series, The Family.

Normally, in a healthy organism, e-motion (energy in motion) flows unobstructed through the body from head to toe.  Just watch a baby laugh or cry to see this is true.  “You have to feel to heal” means you allow yourself to become aware of emotion that is held in your body.

You learn to stop denying, avoiding, minimizing or blocking emotional pain (and sometimes joy).  You raise your consciousness about how you tense your muscles and restrict your breath in order to not feel.

Lots of people are “living from the neck up,” in other words, stuck in their head, compulsively thinking, without a healthy, integrated flow of thought and feeling all through the body.

What does this have to do with A Course in Miracles?  Well, in ACIM, Jesus asks us to look with the Holy Spirit at the ego and how it works.  This is not just an intellectual process.  On a physical level, you need to locate your repressed feelings in order to heal what has been hidden.  “When what you have dissociated is accepted, it ceases to be fearful.” (T-10.II.1:6)  As you “feel to heal,” you dissolve the fear that makes the ego seem so real.

In lots of families you’re not allowed to be angry, frightened, sad, or even happy.  As children, we learn to get with the family program and bury or split-off taboo feelings.  Some families repress and numb out, other families overflow with emotion.  The excess of feeling (hysteria) is another way of protecting family members from the genuine deep pain underneath all the commotion.

The ego loves to divide and conquer.  Spiritual healing is about integration, and on a practical level it usually involves a lot of breathing to locate old wounds and soften tough emotional scars.  The way to feel to heal is to pay kind attention to yourself.  Be willing to discover your physical holding patterns and develop an appreciation for your defenses.

These blocks were brilliant creative adjustments you made as a young child to cope psychologically with abuse, neglect or trauma (this is not unusual — the ego sets up families to fail, be it dramatic or subtle).  For those of us who are practiced at stoicism or dissociation, it can seem impossible to loosen control.  A “little by little” approach is recommended.

Try body-oriented psychotherapy — look into the Hakomi Institute, Dr. Margaret Paul’s inner bonding work, the Center for Somatic Studies, and yoga psychology by Anodea Judith and Bo ForbesGary Zukav’s book, The Heart of the Soul: Emotional Awareness, is worth reading, and I’ve been told that Raphael Cushnir’s work is very good.

The body is the symbol of the ego thought system of separation.  Paradoxically, embodying your feelings heals the split mind, eventually revealing your True Self — perfect and whole.  “Would God teach you that you had made a split mind, when He knows your mind only as whole?” (T-6.V.1:4)

If you “feel to heal” the guilt-ridden personal self, ultimately you will uncover the Innocent Formless Self you truly are.  Remember, “You are the work of God, and His work is wholly lovable and wholly loving.” (T-1.II.2:3)

This Q&A appears in the Ask Amy column from the July-Aug 2014 issue of Miracles magazine.  Miracles is a well-loved staple in the ACIM community.  To get a subscription, email Jon@miraclesmagazine.org or call 845-496-9089.  To ask Amy a question, email miracles (at) amytorresacim (dot) com

Is An Obsession with God Healthy?

dancing girl via bettina casimir clarkAbout 15 years ago, I realized that I was “obsessed with God.”  It was a healthy obsession which grew out of my immersion in A Course in Miracles.  God was in my thoughts day and night.  I looked “normal” and behaved “normally” but I was no longer alone in my thought process.  God was constantly with “me.”   Trust grew.  Fear lessened.  Miracles and blessings occurred daily.

I went through several periods of disorientation as my personal identity was uprooted but remained completely functional.  My personality still threw ego thoughts at “me” but interest in them waned as surrender to the Creator prevailed.  In other words, the personality and its demands became less and less riveting as God illuminated my mind.  This undoing process continues to this day.

I highly recommend the God obsession.  Many people are afraid that an obsession with God means they are having a break wivia Akasha Lightth reality or will turn into a monk or nun.  It’s the opposite.  A healthy obsession with God returns you to your right mind which puts you on the path to Reality.  And most people are not called to celibacy or a life of solitude, although if you are, it will be perfect for you.

The key element to a healthy obsession is tuning in to your Internal Teacher.  A Course in Miracles calls the Internal Teacher the Holy Spirit.  It goes by many names and can be found on countless spiritual paths.  Eventually the Internal Teacher makes Itself obsolete, as “you” disappear back into the nothingness from which you came, and Truth Presides.

Read Five Steps to Cultivating Your Relationship with the Holy Spirit to develop your own healthy obsession with God 🙂

Why Attend “A Present Love”?

When I accepted the CMC’s invitation to be a presenter at A Present Love, the ACIM conference being held in New Yorkby pygmy palm5 City in April 2015, I also  agreed to promote the event.  But I really don’t enjoy promoting, so instead I’ll share with you what has motivated me over the years to attend events like this, and what I got out of them.  Just like me, you can:

oval blue dove*  Experience spontaneous miracles*
*  Clarify your understanding of ACIM concepts
*  Immerse yourself in an atmosphere of Truth
*  Find teachers who truly inspire you
*  Just be … just show up and allow Spirit to guide you all weekend
*  Use the event as a catalyst to heal your mind
*  Let A Present Love be a constant reminder to practice forgiveness each day
*  Meet like-minded people who are supportive of  your spiritual life
*  Allow the Holy Spirit to provide, even when money seems scarce

As soon as you sign up, you have begun to reap the benefits of the conference!  This is because you have put your willingness into action.  You have planted the seed of awakening.  Your miracles begin here and multiply endlessly through you (even if it seemsRevised Final for CMC as though nothing is happening).

In my experience, signing up for conferences, workshops, retreats, intensives and other spiritual events has been a big opening for my healing and unlearning.  There is every reason for A Present Love to be that opportunity for you.

Here’s more info about the event: https://amytorresacim.com/wordpress/a-present-love-acim-conference-nyc-2015/ and http://www.miracles-course.org/2015_conference.html.  Also, feel free to email me questions at miracles@amytorresacim.com

HotelPennI look forward to seeing you there!  Please introduce yourself to me and let’s have a hug!  And much appreciated if you check the “Amy Torres” box on the registration form:  https://www.miracles-course.org/2015_register.html

*If you need a free place to stay while in NYC, contact me at miracles@amytorresacim.com … this may be your first miracle 🙂

Gatita Sparkles

gatita sparkles 8-8-14On July 12th, 2014, my darling, beloved cat, Gatita, emerged from the cocoon of the body and dissolved into timeless sparkles.  Many of you have expressed love for Gatita over the years, and I want to share some of the miracles that accompanied her “death.”

Gatita was 17 years old and the decline of her body had been going on for about three years.  During these years, she was the catalyst for many holy instants as I chose over and over again to purge fear and know Love in the present moment.

When the time came, overflowing with love for her, I held Gatita in my lap until her heartbeat ceased.  Then I gently handed her to Scott.  He felt a great relief escape from Gatita as she laid the body aside … and then a burst of joyous sparkles beyond anything words can describe as she effortlessly expanded into Limitlessness.  There was a clear sense she was still with us, not as a cat, but as Pure Being.  Scott and I alternated between tears of sorrow and of joy.  Weeping freely naturally served to release false beliefs and open us to Truth.

3 deerGatita was laid in the ground in a place I felt she had chosen and shown me a few days before.  Within the hour, a family of deer who often graze on the land around our home, walked along the path near where Gatita’s body was buried.  They seemed to know she was there.

After paying homage, they continued into our backyard as if carried by joyous sparkles, prancing and playing with each other.  Next, they rounded the other side of the house, pausing to munch on grass and bushes.  Eventually, the deer arrived on our front lawn, sat down and settled in.  Their presence was full of grace.  They sat in stillness for a long time.

deer sitting

The full circle that the deer completed around our house was unusual.  It symbolized to us that the essence of Gatita was Whole, Holy and fully present–and therefore, so are we.  The stillness and beauty of the deer was profoundly peaceful and undeniably confirming of Timeless Love.

The next morning I learned that Gatita departed this world on Guru Purnima, the most auspicious day of the year for Self-realization.  “Gu” is Sanskrit for “shadows” or “darknesorange full moons” and “ru” means “he who disperses shadows” or “bringer of light.”

For ACIM students, the Guru is the Holy Spirit, your Inner Teacher. “Purnima” means full moon.  The nights before and after Gatita’s passing were brightly illuminated by the fullest of full moons.  Darkness dissolved in this resplendent light.

It is said that the Guru principle is one thousand times more active on this particular full moon than any other in the calendar.  This is symbolic, of course, and that’s what miracles are: symbols of Truth.  The best time to awaken is always now.

“Today the promise of God’s Word is kept.  Hear and be silent.  He would speak to you.  He comes with miracles a thousand times as happy and as wonderful as those you ever dreamed or wished for in your dreams.  His miracles are true. … Hear Him today and listen to the Word which lifts the veil that lies upon the earth, and wakes all those who sleep and cannot see.  God calls to them through you.”  (W-106: Let me be still and listen to the truth.)

God calls to us through Gatita, Who cannot die because she, like you and me, is Life.  “There is no living thing that does not share the universal Will that it be whole, and that you do not leave its call unheard.  Without your answer is it left to die, as it is saved from death when you have heard its calling as the ancient call to life, and understood that it is but your own.” (T-31.I.9:2)

Please watch this YouTube video, called A Happy Conversation About Death with David Hoffmeister.  Hopefully it will ease any grief you may be experiencing, and replace it with Timeless Love instead.

Click here to read the followup article:  Gatita’s Metamorphosis Into The Lady

If you are missing someone, you may find this article comforting: A Better Way to Say “I Miss You”

The “Gatita Sparkles” illustration was lovingly and beautifully drawn by Harper Wood.

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!

You might also enjoy:   How The Homeless Made Me Feel At Home

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

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 (stay with me — I come back to ACIM):

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.