Saturday, May 11, 2013
My Past Always Becomes My Present
One of the earliest lessons I began to understand in A Course in Miracles (ACIM) was the concept of NOW.
I had come to believe that NOW is always; Now is eternal. I believed that is what Jesus meant when He said, according to the Gospel accounts:
“The constant theme of his message – sometimes in sayings, sometimes in parables, sometimes in works of healing and attending remarks – was to proclaim the ’good news’: The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent. Quit looking ‘out there’ as the source of your problems or the source of your solutions. Look inside you. The Kingdom is already there and has always been there. The Kingdom is now, and now is always eternal. Just as leaven is invisible, yet changes the nature of dough, the Kingdom of God in your heart will change your perception of reality….” [Donald O’Dell, How the Bible became the Bible, Infinity Publishing, 2007, p. 118.]
Because that was my understanding, the essential message of Eckhart Tolle, (The Power of Now) resonated immediately with me. What I learned in AA also reinforced the concept of NOW. Do not take a drink TODAY (not next week or all year long). Take life 24 hours at a time. It’s not an old behavior if I continue doing it.
But, what do I do about my past? I remember things from my past. Events of NOW remind me of the past. Sometimes I try to duplicate past events in order to repeat experiences that have led to very fond memories. But ACIM tells me there is no past. It says: “The one true thing I know about the past is that it is not here.” [WP1-8.2:1]There is only the present. NOW. In my ego-mind of sequential time, there is a past, the present, and the future. But in ACIM-reality there is only NOW.
This troubled me, but I am growing in my understanding.
I have begun to grasp the false illusion my ego continues to bombard me with. “Of course,” it says. “There is a past. Donnie, you can avoid bad results or repeat pleasant ones by looking at your past experiences.” I am learning to understand that bringing tinted filters of the past, then placing them over my current perception, always colors the present I am focusing on. By remembering the past it has become my ego-mind’s present because I’m thinking about it NOW. Quite often I’m not merely remembering it, but I’m reliving it. All over again I feel the joy, satisfaction, pain, fear, dread, or disappointment. Within the 6-inch universe that exists between my ears my past has become my NOW.
It’s always NOW! I’m either living in the present or I’m reliving the past AS my present.
I remember interviewing a candidate for an analyst’s position in my organization at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas. I asked him to describe the kind of work he did during the 9 years at his current company. He explained how the company operated on an annual cycle – monthly and quarterly financial audits and reports with an annual summary, trends and analysis. I then asked him to explain how each year was different from each other. He didn’t understand my question. I clarified by asking him to explain why he thought he had 9 years of experience rather then one year’s experience he had repeated 8 times. He got angry and terminated the interview.
I certainly didn’t understand – then – how profound my comment really was. I certainly didn’t understand how to apply that comment to myself. I didn’t understand how that concept applied to the reality of my financial difficulties, whether I was earning $13,000 per year, or $30,000, or $80,000. It took another 8 years for me to hit my financial and booze bottom and begin my recovery in AA.
This week I had a tiff with my spouse. I had brought up a tinted filter from my past and it colored the perception I had of the actual event. I reacted (not responded) to my tinted perception and it hurt her. So, I correct my error, try to learn from it, and try to move on – forgiving both myself and the perceptions I have projected on her.
AA taught me to use the Tenth Step – “When we were wrong, promptly admitted it….” ACIM tells me in every encounter with another the Holy Spirit will work to correct my perception of events – to help me see things through Christ eyes. [T-8.III.4:1-5] These can be gracious, open, loving encounters or they can be ugly, petty, hurtful encounters. The Holy Spirit will use all my good/bad/ugly encounters to help me grow spiritually by continuing to begin to perceive things differently.
As painful as it may be, what a blessing!
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.
#2 May, 2013