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.
#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.
#4 August 2014

Copyright, 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Dealing With Felix – A Brief Update

This has been a very disjointed week, and I have a lot going on – both inside and outside my head. If I’m honest, it’s mostly between my ears. Something is changing and it feels very unsettling. It felt the same way when I was first getting sober. I thought getting sober was all about stopping my drinking, but it wasn’t. After a time with no alcohol, my issues became less and less about vodka and more and more about “What do I do with me now that I’m not anesthetizing myself? In fact – more basically – who the hell am I”
That’s kind of where I am this week. I cannot say much more than that because I don’t know much more than that. It does have something to do with calling my ego, Felix as well as something to do with a statement I made last week [Msg-2-Aug-2014; Title: Dealing With Felix – My Illusionary Me]: It was a quote some old-timers told me early in AA meetings: “Don, please remember – you don’t think yourself into a new way of living, you live yourself into a new way of thinking.”
So, I’m going to share with you the Introduction to A Course in Miracles and the notes I’ve written in the margins of that page. It is simply something for you to ponder.
“This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean you can establish the curriculum. It means only you can elect what you want to take at a given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks [My perceptions] to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.
“This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.”
This is such a simple, straightforward and very powerful statement. Nothing real can be threatened – and the only thing that is real is the Love of God. Nothing unreal exists – which is everything I think about. All there is is love and everything else is simply the result of my mistaken perceptions. Change my perceptions and the whole world around me changes and God’s love can move freely through me. That’s the peace of God.
 The notes I have written beneath this short introductory page state:
This is a Course in “un-doing” and removing the ego’s thought system of duality: I am me; you are not. It is a course in mind training. Collectively, we are the Son of God. So, I need to deal with myself to eliminate my fears; I am not to become “smart” about ACIM in order to “fix” me. I am not to “fix” everyone else. They, like me, are already “fixed.” They, like me, just don’t know it yet.
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 August 2014
Copyright, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Dealing With Felix – My Illusionary Me

I am currently trying to use some techniques I first learned in AA to help move me along in my overall awareness of the “real” me – my already-loved eternal spirit called Donnie. Last week I discussed a little bit of having a “higher” and “lower” mind. Although that concept has seemed to work for me for quite a while now, it has gotten to become more and more confusing inside my head. That’s not been helpful.
So, I’m trying something different. I’m trying another approach.
In AA I was taught to do certain things to move my sobriety along. Old-timers would tell me: “If you want what we have, do what we do.” “How do I do that?” I’d ask. “You guys do that because you’ve been at this for a long time. I haven’t.” Their response? “Fake it ‘til you make it.” or “Don, please remember – you don’t think yourself into a new way of living, you live yourself into a new way of thinking.”
I’d scratch my head. “Okay – I think.” They’d laugh.
Well, it worked. I practiced saying or doing what they told me to say or do when I was confronted with anger, or resentment, or disappointment, or fear. I didn’t have to believe it – but I did have to do it. In other words, I faked it. I began behaving “as if....” Slowly, over time (shorter for some issues and longer for others), I was changing and so was my thinking. What had started as deliberate, forced/faked actions had become a new normal for me.
My life, words, actions, and thoughts had changed somewhere along the way. There was no specific time I could point to and say, ”Aha! See, my outlook just changed. My perception just shifted. Wow!” That never happened – at least to me. It did happen, of course, but not in a way that I recognized it while it was happening.
Nevertheless, as I looked backed on my journey to sobriety, I realized the changes that had occurred were truly amazing.
So, I’m using that same approach now with my growth in A Course in Miracles (ACIM). At issue for me is a difficulty in distinguishing the difference between my ego thoughts and my higher thoughts. My ego – like alcohol – can be very cunning, baffling and powerful. The net result? I continue to get fooled – but who is the “I” in this sentence?
In order to help myself, I have decided to name my ego. This helps me distinguish or objectify what’s going on inside me. Rather than saying to myself: “My ego is up in arms – ready to attack.” I now say “Felix, you’re acting out again.” Yes – Felix is the name I’ve given to my ego – which doesn’t really exist, whose perceptions also don’t exist, but whose cunning has fooled me for a long time into thinking, believing, saying, and acting as if its perceptions were very, very real.
ACIM, however, tells me Felix is not really real. But I’ve listened to him for so long that to ignore him feels very, very unreal. I believe that’s a good sign.
I (not Felix) am trying to look at everyone I meet with deliberate and conscious attentive listening, with love, with a surrounding white light, with the thought: “Inside you there is another me.” ACIM tells me that when I do this, the Holy Spirit will take over and things will change. However, that’s not my job. The outcome will be whatever He wants – not what Felix expects.
To do this as best I can and as often as I can requires only that I make a choice dozens of times (or more) each day. If I stray and begin mentally criticizing the person, I am not “sinning,” or being weak and bad, or any other negative judgment I can hurl at myself. I have simply started to listen to Felix or the other person’s Felix, instead of allowing my TRUE me to focus on the TRUE person in front of me. I can simply remake the decision and start actively listening again. I do this, however, not by engaging Felix and telling him to go away, but by simply ignoring Felix by stilling my mind – allowing Felix to “play, snort, holler, do jumping jacks, critique the other’s Felix, or whatever” in the background, while I refocus my attention. 
I realize this sounds awkward and tedious. And sometime it feels that way.
However, I do believe that making a conscious effort to see the Christ in others, which the Course tells me is really seeing the Christ in my True Self, can become a new normal for me over time. As I mentioned last week, as I listen to other alcoholics share of themselves, I always can see a little piece of me in each of their stories. After a quarter of a century of experiencing this in AA, I am seeing little bits of me in virtually everyone I meet. Now, I’m trying to build on that positive experience.
But when I use this new-to-me approach now, I will admit it makes me feel strange, or a little phony, or a little shallow. I felt the same way early in my AA Program. So be it. It’s a start. I’ll fake it ‘til I make it. Since my Higher Power helped my desire to drink disappear and has helped me see bits of my True Self in you, I’ll continue to live myself into a new way of thinking – distinguishing Felix from my True Self.
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 August 2014

Copyright, 2014

Friday, August 1, 2014

Spirituality and Voting

I have often been asked – and often ask myself – why get  involved in the struggles/arguments/public policy debates over the economy or human rights/power struggles of this 3-dimensional world we perceive. Sometimes the overwhelming onslaught of fear, greed, lack, hate, possessiveness, ownership, power struggle issues just gets me down. “Why even start?” I say to myself.  “What real good will it do?” “Who really cares?” After all I’m an already-loved eternal spirit only currently having a human experience. I am not just a human body who somewhere houses a spirit or soul. If all I really “see” in the world “out there” is a reflection of my perception, then why should I bother getting involved in the affairs of this 3-D world?
This issue arose – again – in me yesterday. It’s early voting in my county for Republican and Democrat primaries as well as for countywide offices. We went out to vote as our civic duty and this issue came up again inside my head.
I have an egoic mind that perceives everything from the vantage point of fear. According to A Course in Miracles (ACIM), it doesn’t really exist but it sure feels like it. My perceptions are simply my own and they, too, are not reality. But they sure feel like it. I also have a higher mind. It is the small (but growing!) part of me that is (or can be) attuned to hear and listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit. All the fear, greed, lack, hate, possessiveness, ownership, and power struggle issues are figments of my own egoic perception. This perception is firmly grounded in my belief in fear and lack and separation. I am me. You are not. I must get mine while preventing you from taking anything from me. This egoic frame of reference is perfectly summarized in a bumper sticker I saw in Florida several years ago: “If you are not frightened or angry, you are not paying attention.”
My higher mind has become somewhat attuned to a kind of Oneness. This has happened in my quarter century involvement with AA. This is based on a couple of very beloved principles in The Program: “There, but for the Grace of God, go I;” and understanding the reality of “The Yets.”
Folks will share how they got 3-4 DUI’s and it ruined their credit rating and has destroyed their chance to get certain jobs. I want to say to myself – I haven’t gotten a DUI – then I stop and realize I drove quite often under the influence – but simply never got caught. Just by the Grace of God or some fortunate good luck, I didn’t have to face what the sharer faced. Someone will share in a meeting and afterward I might say to someone else, “That’s awful. I haven’t done anything like that.” The person whom I’m talking to will almost automatically add: “Yet!”
This reality of “The Yets” has taught me I’m not that much different from anyone else. If I can forgive myself or overlook my alcoholic mistakes, then I can forgive or overlook yours. As I listen to other alcoholics share I always see a little piece of me in each of their stories. After a quarter of a century of experiencing this in AA, I am seeing little bits of me in virtually everyone I meet.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not (Repeat; NOT) suggesting that my experiences in AA are the same as ACIM’s Holy Instant or Holy Encounter – where, with the orchestration of the Holy Spirit, the Christ-Self in me connects with the Christ-Self in you and all egoic perceptions simply vanish, along with a sense of time and fear. But these AA experiences do leave me with a little more openness and willingness to see myself in you, therefore leaving me in a better position to be willing to see with the Holy Spirit’s “vision” rather than with my egoic fearful “sight.”
While on this physical, egoic, 3-dimensional plane, I have come to believe there are things I can do to encourage the implementation of public policies that will create a better atmosphere for allowing people to be more willing to see a little of themselves in all others. On the other hand there are public policies that are stridently based in fear, lack, and separateness, which encourage the continuation of believing in our fearful egoic “reality.”
So, I vote, work for and support those “higher” policies rather than those reflecting my non-existent and non-real egoic perceptions of fear and separateness.
Perhaps not being frightened, angry, or stressed means that I really am paying attention – to me and my thoughts, which is exactly where I should be looking.
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 August 2014

Copyright, 2014