Saturday, September 20, 2014

My Schizophrenic Spiritual Self

At a recent AA meeting I shared about how I refer to my lower mind as Felix. As I described Felix and his temper tantrums, his dismal outlook on life, his black-or-white or win-or-lose approach to living, the chorus of voices in my head that can comprise his presence, his belief in lack, and his perception that all my problems are “out there,” I received a lot of laughs. People were not laughing at me, however. They were laughing with me because they recognized the same chatter in themselves. I felt accepted, which is always a good feeling for me, given my struggle with toxic shame. I had shared some rather intimate details about who I am and their laughter confirmed that I was not mad or crazy – I was a rather normal alcoholic. I have come to believe that each of us is addicted to something (drugs, gambling, shopping, helping others (whether they need it or not), religion, the “stories” about ourselves we have constructed through our selectively remembered past) that helps insulate us from ourselves and keep our problems “out there.” I believe I am rather normal – period.
Several went on to share about their version of a “lower mind,” including their relationship to their Inner Child. It got me to thinking about my experiences getting to know my Inner Child and my description of Felix and Little Donnie, or my lower and higher mind, or A Course in Miracles’ (ACIM’s) use of the terms ego and higher self. Are these “titles” consistent? At odds? Confusing? Clarifying?
After discussing this with a men’s group I attend I have come to terms with the fact that both my Felix and Little Donnie are of my ego. However, Little Donnie is open to the whispers of the Holy Spirit and is more active in seeking His voice. Often, now, I will find myself in the middle of an argument and will actually pause my mind for a while asking, “I need a little help here.”
In light of Freud’s Id, Ego and Super-Ego, our contemporary language of psychoanalysis, based on the book “I’m Okay, You’re Okay, now uses the terms Child, Adult and Parent. Thinking of my egoic self as two parts, Felix and Little Donnie, Felix consists of Child-Felix and Parent-Felix and Little Donnie consists of Child-Donnie and Parent-Donnie. I see inside myself the part of me that is Child-Ish, as well as the part that is Child-Like. Jesus’ guidance to become as a little child refers to being child-like not childish. Inside me, however, it often doesn’t take much to flip my child-likeness into childishness.
My Child-Felix is a childish, fearful, aggressive, hostile, self-centered, temper-tantrum-prone little boy. For him it’s a “my way or the highway” pattern of behavior. He perceives people and events in terms of self-gratification and of black or white with little shades of gray. He has internalized many of Parent-Felix’s beliefs and principles – but with the perception and implementation of a little child. He is deathly afraid of embarrassing Parent-Felix.
My Parent-Felix is overly strict and unforgiving. He religiously follows adherence to his rules, He operates on the premise that good behavior is equal to being a good person (which means obeying him). He is convinced Child-Felix is an extension of himself. He controls the Child-Felix by withholding love or bestowing gifts/treats, by punishing or rewarding, and by being overly critical while being exceptionally sensitive to criticism. Parent-Felix is not a joy to be around.
These two rigid facets make up my Felix – my lower mind. They are very entrenched in my make-up. They compliment one another. They reinforce one another. Yet, most often, they seem to be at war with one another.
My Child-Donnie is what I came to know in AA as my precious little boy. I wrote about him in my book, though I didn’t have the insight I have now. Child-Donnie is my child-like source of creativity, my memories, curiosity, joy, love, acceptance, delight, and Life-In-The-Now. My Child-Donnie is like a little dog: lovable, impish, easily satisfied, reasonably undemanding, and ever curious.
My Parent-Donnie is honest, open, and willing (AA’s HOW), unbelievably grateful for my sobriety and for the knowledge and acceptance he found in AA and in ACIM. He wants to fully nurture Child-Donnie, although he sometimes doesn’t know how to do that. He is the source of really wanting to see events and people with compassion. He is the portal through which the Holy Spirit can whisper and he is the ear through which he hears Him.
Child-Donnie and Parent-Donnie, make up the part of me I call Little Donnie, or my higher mind. The more I define myself in terms of Little Donnie the more angry and fearful Felix becomes. Felix will charge out of the gate, as does a thoroughbred racehorse at the sound of the bell.
If any of this description of how I see myself resonates with you, find something that meaningfully speaks to your Child-or-Parent-Donnie and learn, follow, and practice nurturing them as the most significant thing you can do. It has been a wonderful (though often humbling and painful) experience to become able to identify what part of myself I am dealing with – Felix or Little Donnie. It has truly opened a big, wide door to recognize who is my egoic “I,” whether it’s Felix or Little Donnie. Having recognized it, I can release my attention to it and relax as I wait for guidance. Enjoy your journey!
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
Don
#3 September 2014

Copyright, 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Inner And Outer Worlds

I am still receiving questions or comments that reflect the perplexity about all the issues raised by the actions of ISIS/ISIL in Iraq and Syria.  These comments come from subscribers as well as those national and international readers who are picking me up from FaceBook or other social media.
I have discussed how we have a horizontal and vertical way of looking at events in this world. [Msg-5-Aug-2014; The Role Of My Higher Mind] The horizontal view has a past, present and future. It is the outer world. The vertical lives only in the eternal Now. It is the inner world. The horizontal reflects a perspective of my egoic thinking – either from my lower or from my higher mind. But both are still of my ego. The vertical reflects a perspective of Now that emanates from a conscious, palpable interaction with the divine.
Nonetheless, we have to live in this physical world of ours. We have to pay our bills and taxes, prepare and eat food, take care of our property, and take care of our young, the elderly and others who are infirmed. Doesn’t that also mean we have to “believe” in the reality of this horizontal outer perspective?
No. It means we have to be in this world but not of it.
But how do we do that? How do we live in the joy, peace, acceptance, and love that we already are – the inner world – and deal (or not!) with the brutal fanaticism that I believe ISIS/ISIL represents in my outer world?
These are tough questions – really tough questions.
The only idea that springs to my mind is to consider my motive. I’m unsure if God, as I understand God, really is consciously aware of the world as I perceive it.  A Course in Miracles (ACIM) states He doesn’t. What he sees is a lovely sleeping child having a nightmare. He doesn’t know what the nightmare is about. Before He can cuddle and comfort me I have to wake up. My perception (or nightmare of a dog-eat-dog world) generally reflects my egoic thinking, which is an illusion and has nothing whatsoever to do with the True Reality of the Now – of Eternal Love and Acceptance. I intellectually agree with this.
So what?
That being the case, the only true response I can make is to examine the inner world between my ears and ensure my motives are genuine. There are many wonderful actions people take that are admirable and acclaimed. However, if they are performed out of a sense of guilt, or fear, or pride, they count for nothing. Paul really nailed it in his first letter to the budding congregation in Corinth (Chapter 13): “I may speak in tongues of men or angels, … I may have the gift of prophecy and know every hidden truth; I may have faith strong enough to move mountains… I may dole out all I possess or even give my body to be burnt, but if I have no love, [I am nothing].”  
That’s what the God of my understanding “sees.” My motive. My energy. My desire. My inner world.
I may react to ISIS/ISIL the way many seem to be doing – bomb the hell out of them; butcher them; we should have stayed in Iraq beating them do death or converting them to be good, middle-class Americans and teaching them to love our version of democracy. I also hear people stating that we should do nothing – what is going on is a continuation of a millennium-long struggle for dominance between the Shia and Sunni factions of Islam. They need to figure this out or kill each other in the process.
Regardless of how I personally come down on this issue, I need to examine my motive(s). Do I deal with ISIS/ISIL based on fear, anger, or hate? Don’t I remember that fear is the opposite of faith? Do I deal with ISIS/ISIL based on my higher mind’s desire for altruism and fairness? After all it makes me feel good and safe to think of “higher” things. Isn’t this a little prideful? Do I fear for my stock in oil companies that are engaged in the Middle East? Isn’t this greed? For everyone who hurts us don’t I want us to beat them into submission because America is – well, just the greatest? Isn’t that arrogance or, even worse, grade-school playground bullying?
Yes, there are things to do in the outer world – and the President and others are talking about them – the political inequity between Shia and Sunni factions of Islam, working for the stability of Middle East governments, creating trust in the political processes, building respect and justice for all citizens – men, women, and all religious beliefs. Surely ISIS/ISIL has to be stopped or contained, but in a manner that will not simply give rise to another ISIS-type insurgency. However, before we Americans get too high on our moral horse, we must remember the “civilized” western nations had horrible wars, terrorism, inequity, injustice and brutality between Roman Catholic and Protestant expressions of Christianity – as late as 35 years ago in Ireland. We Americans perpetrated the most effective genocidal campaign in history against the resident Native Americans who were here for 10,000 years and had left our country much as they had found it. We executed legal, congressional treaties with them and then immediately broke them – over and over and over. We held onto the concept of slavery for many decades after European countries had abandoned it as a brutish, unchristian, immoral act of their societies and governments.
By hating ISIS/ISIL are we simply keeping the focus off our own shameful past? By treating Middle East Arab Muslims as second-class humankind, are we keeping the focus off our own treatment of those we believe remain second-class citizens here in the USA – Hispanics, urban Blacks, Asian Immigrants, the LBGT community?
I must examine my motives. You must examine yours. We, as a country, must examine ours.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
Don
#2 September 2014

Copyright, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Have a Wonderful Week

I was recently asked how to deal with someone who could really use the message of A Course in Miracles (ACIM) but didn’t seem to want to hear it.
My short answer: If someone doesn’t want to hear a message, they won’t hear it.
If someone is so intent on listening to the babble of egoic voices inside their head, they cannot hear the whispers of God. In Alcoholics Anonymous we know that only you can refer to yourself as an alcoholic. Only you can make the decision that you are willing to try a new way of living without alcohol…[or drugs, or sugar, or sex, or ego-centered drama, or religion, or gambling, or shopping, etc.] All we can do is be there whenever they really do “hit bottom,” while praying that they make it back alive.
But, sometimes they don’t make it. Sometimes the pure-hearted prince does not save the princess. Sometimes the frog, after being kissed, remains a frog.
A deeper question is to ask about your motive in trying [perhaps compulsively?] to help “save” someone who doesn’t want to be “saved.” Just maybe, that person who appears not to want your help is there to allow the Holy Spirit to help you… if you ask Him. Just maybe. .….
All your issues and perceived problems do not exist “out there.” They all exist in that small universe that lives between your ears.
I have to be out of town over the weekend, which explains the terseness of this message.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
Don
#1 September 2014

Copyright, 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Role Of My Higher Mind

I have received quite a few messages from subscribers and those that are reading me through the blog-sphere about my recent posts and what is happening in Iraq/Syria from ISIS or ISIL. How does this horror seem to fit? Isn’t ISIS/ISIL the epitome of evil? Shouldn’t we kill them all? Questions/Comments like that.
There are two worlds we live in: A horizontal one and a vertical one. The horizontal world contains a linear past, present, and future. If I imagine this world on my lap, on my left is the past, the middle of my lap contains the present, and on my right lies the future. There also exists the vertical world. It moves straight upward from the middle of my lap. It is the eternal NOW.
A Course in Miracles (ACIM) states that this vertical world is the only real world.  There have been others that have proclaimed this reality, as well. For a couple of examples, Eckert Tolle and his book, The Power of Now or Alcoholics Anonymous and its emphasis on the current 24-hours or One Day At A Time, or Jesus’ teachings, as recorded in the Gospels, that Eternal Life is inside you now if you would but notice it.
The horizontal world is the world we generally think of as “the real world.” It is the world of my perception – and your perception, as well. Our perceived worlds have a lot in common – a lot of shared, taught, and believed images / presuppositions / predispositions. But there are also some significant differences in our perceptions. My wife and I refer to our basic, lower egoic minds as Hortense and Felix, respectively. When we have arguments – and we do – they are always about the perceptions of Hortense versus the perceptions of Felix. They are generally arguments trying to establish who is right, or more right, or mostly right?
So what’s going on? Let me furnish an analogy.
In a dream I am trying to win the lottery in order to become a super-duper benefactor of Progressive causes. I awake in the morning angry at God because, in the dream, He refused to “give” me the current six winning numbers. He appeared not to listen to my entreaties, my pleas, or my wonderfully altruistic intentions. In my dream I was frustrated, resentful, angry, and irritated at God for not “helping” me attain “my” goal. As I awake I am still angry and short-tempered. That’s how I begin my day. It’s probably not going to be a calm, peaceful, joyous one.
That dream is analogous to this horizontal world – this world we all perceive but which exists only with the meanings each of us attributes to it. Hortense has meanings she attributes that are different than those of Felix. That can cause us “problems.” Some perceptions Hortense and Felix share and that produces “harmony.” On some attributes Hortense and Felix have simply agreed to disagree. Nevertheless, this horizontal world is as unreal to God as my dream is to me. It is only a dream.
Our horizontal world is full of pain, anger, resentments, and unfulfilled expectations – all based on fear. It’s a fear that stems from my fundamental belief, assumption, or supposition that I am fully separate – I am me and you are not. What is “mine” is not “yours.” I will protect “mine” from being taken away by “you.” I know you are trying to get “mine” because I am trying to get “yours.” Consequently, my life in my perceived horizontal world is based on this fundamental fear that I will not get what I want or that I will lose what I believe I have.
ISIS/ISIL believes just like this. They want their image of Islam to prevail. You must either agree with them or die. There is no compromise. We do exactly the same thing – only with a little more subtlety. ISIS/ISIL fears that we will take from them and we fear they will take from us. Because ISIS/ISIL believes they are right, they are justified in killing those that disagree. Because we believe we are right, we are justified in bombing the hell out of them.
I know this sounds harsh, but….  There is no degree of evil-ness. There is no degree in love-ness. It’s one or the other. The Old Testament word for sin is “to miss the mark.” If you have one arrow and a lion is charging you and you miss – it doesn’t matter if you miss by a lot or a little. You’re supper that night – which is pretty harsh.
However, ACIM teaches us there is no “sin.” Operating in this dream-world – the horizontal – there is only error, which can be corrected by choosing again and again until we finally experience the true reality of the eternal NOW – the vertical.
In addition to Felix, my lower egoic mind, I have a higher mind. My higher mind will see through some of this conflict. In fact he has composed much of this message. He is able to focus on more “moral” thoughts. But he is still residing on this horizontal plane of existence. However, he is aware of a vertical channel to the “real” world of spirit. He is open and willing to listen for the whispers of the Holy Spirit. I can allow him to become more and more trained to be more and more aware of clues or red flags that indicate Felix is in charge. However, when he consistently begins to say to Felix “Thanks for sharing, but that’s enough,” and asks for help to see the situation differently, the Holy Spirit has the opportunity to work a miracle. My higher mind has the ability to choose whether to relinquish control to the horizontal world or to be open and willing to explore the vertical, real world.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
Don
#5 August 2014

Copyright, 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Power Of The 3 R’s

The problem I have with a problem is not the problem. The problems I have with a problem are the problems I have with my problem. When I have a problem, I am to address and “solve” it. Correct?
But many times I don’t.
Although I’m positive nobody else does this but me, many times when I have a problem I worry about it, I find ways to blame you for it, I obsess about it, I wonder why it is I always have problems like this, I get angry because I’m always having to solve my problems, I’m jealous of you because you never seem to have any problems. Then, finally, I sit down, make some decisions, and solve my problem.
In short, a problem isn’t my problem. My problem is the problems I have with a problem. My worrying, obsessing, delaying, fretting, getting angry, blaming in the face of this problem – all these are my problem. All these are fruits of the perceived reality that exists only between my ears – the perceived reality of Felix, my ego mind.
I am becoming more and more aware of Felix’s voice as opposed to a sense of me that is willing to see events and people through Christ eyes. I cannot, however, get to that Christ eyes point by myself. In fact, I cannot get to that at all. I can only be willing and ask. But to do that I have to train myself to ignore the constant chatter of Felix, still my mind and ask for Christ eyes. I’ve had issues in doing that because I believe I didn’t know how.
Recently, I have learned a couple of things from a friend in A Course in Miracles (ACIM), as well as from someone who is teaching me how to implement the principles of the Course. What I’ve been doing now I learned last week from my good friend, who uses the acronym of the 3 R’s: Recognize, Release and Relax.
As mentioned, I am getting a little better at recognizing the voice of Felix and the attending emotions of fear, frustration, anger, hurt, and resentment. When I feel these feelings or listen to the justification, criticism, logic, defensiveness or blame that is the content of Felix’s chatter – I now (since I recognize it) can say: “That’s enough, Felix. Thank you.” But how do I release these thoughts and feelings and still my mind? From my teacher I picked up a little technique that has been very effective for me. After I thank Felix for his unsolicited opinion I ask myself 3 questions: Who am I? Who is with me? What do I want?
I am answering these questions with something like this: Who am I? I am an integral part of God as is [this person or the people in this event]. I am light and love and gratitude and creative energy. I am exactly as God created me. Who is with me? The Holy Spirit is here with me. I am not alone. I am surrounded by God’s love. What do I want? I want the Peace of God with no shame or guilt. I want to see with Christ’s eyes. I want True Vision and I am willing and wanting to see this situation or person differently. Then I relax and listen – not to the loud voice of Felix, but for the quiet whispers of the Holy Spirit. I don’t have to do anything or say anything. I just think of myself, the situation, or the person with loving thoughts while listening for whispers and guidance.
Practicing these 3 R’s, as imperfectly as I am learning how to do it, seems to be really helping me train my mind to do things differently.  My wife has even commented several times: “Are you all right? Are you angry with me? You’ve been awfully quiet.” She is noticing something as I’m trying to train myself to break the old cycles and patterns that have controlled me for so long.
After all, the Course tells me: “This is a Course in mind training.” It is a Course in learning to undo my egoic thinking – the kind of thinking my Felix enjoys. I did a very similar process while getting sober through the help of Alcoholics Anonymous: Do something different for long enough and your thinking will change. Specifically, what old timers would say was “You don’t think yourself into a new way of living. You live yourself into a new way of thinking.” They taught me to practice new behaviors one day at a time. After a while, I found I had lived in a new way for 90 days, or 180 days, or 365 days. I had several instances where people who had known the old, drinking me finally spoke up and told me how different I was. They wanted to know what had happened. Sometimes I told them, if I trusted them enough. Sometimes, I just smiled and thanked them.
Great feedback!
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
Don
#4 August 2014

Copyright, 2014