Saturday, October 26, 2013

Metaphysical Indigestion

This past week I took a pill for Raynaud's Syndrome. I take these pills for 5 months between mid-October and mid-March. It helps my extremities during the cold weather.
This time, however, since it was the first pill in 7 months, I began feeling woozy and very tired. I suddenly passed out – the result of an unexpected and extreme drop in blood pressure – scaring my wife and several friends who had dropped by. I was hospitalized for several days while they performed every test imaginable before they concluded it was the pill for Raynaud Syndrome not a heart attack or stroke.
I’m still not totally up to snuff, so this message is short. In fact I want to share a quote from Eric Butterworth [In the Flow of Life, Unity Publishing, 1994.]:
“Knowledge is received by tuition [that is, instruction]. …[W]isdom is unfolded from intuition, which flows into manifestation in your body and affairs. I hope to excite your mind with some helpful insights. An insight, however, is like the food you eat. To become energy, food is transformed by the process of metabolism. We do not become the food we eat; it turns into us.
“My goal is not to transfer the ‘gems of wisdom’ from these printed pages into your mind. The insights shared, which I believe will be helpful, must be transmuted into a consciousness of the flow of the creative process.  One could memorize every word [of this book] and be able to repeat it by rote, paragraph by paragraph, and in the end he would have an overloaded mind and possibly, even as Unity co-founder Charles Fillmore suggested, an uncomfortable experience of ‘metaphysical indigestion.’
“It is a common motivation to look for information by which to set things right. However, people are not in the world to set it right but to see it rightly. Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand,’…but it is right seeing that is the key to experiencing it. In fact, right seeing leads to an actual outforming of it….
“[Seeing implies your eyes.] The word eye comes from a Sanskrit root word, which means ‘fountain.’ This is beautifully significant, for when your mind is remolded from within, you are synchronized with the omnipresent flow of God which streams out in the very act of seeing. You see from the consciousness of God. Thus you actually project this consciousness toward anything your eye beholds.”  [pp. 5-7]
This message from Butterworth is very similar to the reality AA old-timers told me, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”  I’ve personally experienced that Truth many times working AA’s suggested program of recovery. I’ll change my attitude and my universe changes.
ACIM says the same thing: “Being willing to ask the Holy Spirit to help you see things differently will alter your perception of reality – from your tiny egoistic version to one based more on the spiritual reality of Oneness. When there I find peace.
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.
#4 October, 2013
Copyright, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Free Will or Free Choice?

A subscriber wrote asking the following:  “Thank you for this message. [Msg-2-Oct-2013; I Changed My Words and My Life Began To Change] But it seems to me to be God’s will that I can’t seem to say NO. I’m afraid of hurting on someone’s feelings….”
Thank you for your honesty. Sharing myself as honestly (but gently) as I dare is critical for my continued growth. It seems you are talking about God’s Will and your guilt. I’ll do my best to offer some comments.
Erroneously, I have come to believe I am separate from God – and do not deserve His blessing unless I both purify myself and undergo some sacrifice to gain (or re-gain) His good graces. [Note: I cover this essential tenet – purification and sacrifice – of virtually ALL religions in The Patriarchal Narrative section of my book, pp 43-49.]
Throughout A Course in Miracles (ACIM) one of the principle recurring ideas is that I am not separate from God. The separation has never occurred. I just think it has and my thoughts are very powerful. Who I really am, in reality, is an already-loved eternal spirit. I am not a human body that perceives the world though my five senses and has, somewhere inside, a soul. This is fundamental to my understanding what God’s Will for me truly is.
As ACIM’s Glossary of Terms (Circle Publishing, 2005) explains it: God’s Will is “… only unlimited love and happiness without end. God’s Will is limitless, changeless power that can never be opposed. It is not gradual in accomplishment but creates instantaneous and eternal Fact. In Heaven, you were created by God’s Will and are God’s Will – the extension of His mind, Spirit, and Self…. On earth you believe that your will and God’s Will are in opposition. [Because you believe you are truly separate from God] you have identified with [your ego or] alien will, but His Will and your will are one and the same. You are His Will. Fearing His Will thus means fearing your own [real] will and your own [real] reality. Since His Will is not an alien will, it cannot be forced upon you but must be freely welcomed.”
We’ve heard often in Christian circles that we have free will. We’ve used it wrongly once and humanity has been damned ever since. I think that belief is in error. We do not actually have free will. We have free choice and to choose wrongly is only a mistake. My will is God’s Will, for I am his already-loved Child. I am as He created me. I have chosen to believe I am big and powerful enough to separate myself from Him and negate what He has ordained through His Will. What an absurd and egoistic notion of mine!
Last week I discussed how teaching myself to use the words “I regret,” rather than my constant reference to “I’m sorry,” was a critical step I made in my recovery from constant guilt. Hearing myself say the words “I regret” began helping me to change my thinking. Changing my thinking began changing my behavior, which changed my actions and habits.  Over time my values and destiny began to change – I began to emerge as a new person, though I still angst a lot about guilty feelings.
I guess what I’m suggesting here is changing your words from “I have free will” to “I have free choice.” When I do this, it constantly reminds me that I am not who I generally think I am. I’m not a body with an eternal soul somewhere inside me. I am an already-loved eternal spirit that is dreaming I’m having a human experience. This Real Me – as eternal spirit – is part of God, and His Will and mine are One. I can choose to be willing to become more and more aware of His Will for me or I can choose to continue to believe I have the power and strength to live separate from Him. That is my misguided, mistaken egoistic choice – not my will.
If I choose to be open to His (and my real) Will, then I am available for forgiving myself and others, which is my true purpose on Earth. If not, I won’t. I’ll remain trapped in my ego’s vision of life – full of fear, anger, suspicion and belief in lack. It’s not a fun way to live. ACIM also teaches me that, with the Holy Spirit’s help, I can correct my error and simply make another choice.
When you say “No” to someone, examine your thoughts and feelings carefully. If you are like me, what you’ll find is that you feel guilty somehow. Where are these guilt feelings coming from? I have found that behind my guilt is a vague set of feelings of fear: They won’t like me anymore; I’ll hurt their feelings; God won’t like me; My parents would be ashamed of me; This isn’t what I’m used to; This feels very strange and I don’t like it.
Then I remember that the fear behind my guilt is the unconscious fear I feel for having tried to separate myself from God’s Love, which is impossible to do because God made me – the real spirit me. I also recall that my fear is the exact opposite of faith.
Instead of saying “No,” try saying gently, “This is not a good time for me. I regret I cannot help you right now.”
I hope this helps.
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.
#3 October, 2013
Copyright, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I Changed My Words and My Life began To Change

Early in my recovering from alcoholism I was very aware of my generalized guilt over – well, over everything. I had truly messed up my life in a big way and was now very apologetic about my life and about me. I was very apologetic to my children, especially, but also to virtually everyone everywhere. I was constantly apologizing – literally. “I’m sorry you feel that way.” “I’m sorry my sharing brought up bad, disturbing memories for you.” I simply didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I didn’t want to be an agent of pain and hurt.
Several people in the program commented to me – quite often actually during coffee after an AA meeting – as to why I was always saying “I’m sorry….” or “I feel bad….” They’d go on to tell me “Don you’re not really sorry. You may regret some outcome you didn’t intend, but you’re not really sorry. ‘Sorry’ is the wrong word. It’s not your fault that your sharing dredged up someone else’s bad memories. Why don’t’ you start using the word ‘regret?’ It’ll help clarify your real feelings to yourself.”
I did and it did.
I began saying “I regret that my discussion of my early memories brought up bad things for you, too. They’re painful. I know.” And people began responding by saying, “Thank you for sharing. Yes. It’s painful, but if you hadn’t shared, my memory may not have bubbled to the surface.”
Wow! These folks were not hurt or pained because of me. They were grateful. My constant apologizing was keeping the focus on me. Using the term ‘regret’ opened the door to have the focus of the conversation on both of us – sharing the growth (usually accompanied by some pain) that was occurring simultaneously in us.
There is this great quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.”
I didn’t know I wanted to change my habits, my values, and my destiny. All I knew was that my life sucked. I wanted to feel better, act better, and be better.
My constant apologetic words had become a way of life for me – which kept solidifying my feelings about myself. These feelings were not very nice. They were feelings of poor self-esteem or low self-worth. My words were constantly reinforcing this self-image I had: Unworthy. Guilty. Shameful. My words were reinforcing my feelings just the way drying concrete solidifies into hardened cement.
How do I undo that?
Changing my words of ‘sorry’ to ‘regret’ began to affect my thoughts and my actions. It really helped me begin to allow my life to begin changing, my self-esteem to begin growing, and my self-image to begin blossoming.
This is part of what I think AA members mean when folks say “Act as if…” or “Fake it ‘til you make it.” By simply saying different words or doing different little actions I began making significant differences in my thoughts and feelings, which continued to alter the words I used, which changed my actions, my habits, my values, and my destiny. Just like Gandhi predicted.
It’s pretty simple and very effective. I still say “I’m sorry,” if I really need to apologize for my words or actions. But most of the time it’s not truly an apologetic situation and so I’m regretful – not sorry. So I say “I regret…”
But, little by little, it works.
At least it has worked for me. I see no reason why it wouldn’t work for you as well.
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 October, 2013
Copyright, 2013

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I Control What I Can Control – Which Is Not Very Much

This past week I was reminded of a quote I have heard many times. I needed that reminder this week. The quote? When you try to control everything, you enjoy nothing. Relax, breathe, let go, and just live.
Nice. Cute. Pithy. But, how do I do that?
If I’m spending all my time trying to control all the external events that (I believe) are messing up my serenity or my life, then all I’m really doing is keeping the focus off of me.  A good fried and member of the AA Fellowship was named Tommy. He, after about 9 months of sobriety, discovered he had a terminal cancer. He died sober. Most of us in AA begin speaking at a meeting by saying; “I’m <name> and I’m an alcoholic.”  Tommy would always say: “Hi Everyone. My name is Tommy. I am addicted to anything and anyone that will keep me from focusing on me.”
AA’s Fourth/Fifth Steps are “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Step Nine is “Made direct amends to such people [we had harmed] wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” When I do a mini-4th Step now, it’s always to look for my role in the situation. Maybe it’s a large one. Maybe it’s a small one. It doesn’t really matter. I acknowledge my part, make amends if I can, and get on with my life.
That’s the key for me – doing my “inside” work and getting on with the rest of my life.
One of AA’s twelve promises: “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development [working the steps – especially Step Nine]. We will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace….” In other words, having done the suggested “inside” work, we will begin getting on with the rest of our lives.
Here’s another quote (attributed to Lao Tzu): If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.
A course in Miracles (ACIM) teaches me not to let my past experience be my guide for the present. To let my past guide my present is to allow my ego to remain in control of what I do.  That, for me, is not a positive, good thing. That is to continue to make the same kinds of mistakes all over again. Over and over and over.
When single, if I stopped seeing a woman who turned out not to be AS sexually open as I hoped, I’d look (using my past experience) for one who was. I’d find her, only to discover, for example, that she didn’t like to maintain a reasonably neat house. So I’d focus on that aspect and look for another woman who was more in tune with my “house neatening” values. I’d find her, only to discover….  Well, you get the picture.
The repeating issue my ego kept telling me? Just focus on the one or two disappointing aspects of a relationship and find someone that seemed to correct those. But those relationships were also always disappointing.  What my ego never clued me into was that I, Me, Myself was always the common denominator of all my relationships. If I wanted better relationships, I needed to work on making me a better partner.
My ego loathes change – primarily, change within me. My ego interprets change within me as the death of it and my ego will not support me in an effort it perceives as an act of ego-suicide.
How do I change me? I change my attitude. When all is said and done, all I can control is my attitude. I cannot control people, places or things. The only thing that’s left is my attitude. I get quiet and ask the Holy spirit to show me another way of looking t things. That’s where I start and that always works – until the next time.
I love the adage that states: “Whenever you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” My ego simply cannot wrap its little head around that idea. But my visceral experience has taught me to have faith in that reality. I have witnessed it firsthand. With the Holy Spirit’s help and my willingness to ask and listen, my attitude will begin to change and my universe changes. Always.
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.
#1 October, 2013
Copyright, 2013