Friday, July 31, 2015

Living Peacefully In The Midst Of Chaos

From ACIM’s Workbook for Students, Chapter 21, Reason and Perception: Section II. The Responsibility for Sight
1 “We have repeated how little is asked of you to learn this course. It is the same small willingness you need to have your whole relationship transformed to joy; the little gift you offer to the Holy Spirit for which He gives you everything; the very little on which salvation rests; …. And being true, it is so simple that it cannot fail to be completely understood. Rejected yes, but not ambiguous. And if you choose against it now it will not be because it is obscure, but rather that this little cost seemed, in your judgment, to be too much to pay for peace.
2 “This is the only thing that you need do for vision, happiness, release from pain and the complete escape from sin, all to be given you. Say only this, but mean it with no reservations, for here the power of salvation lies:
“I am responsible for what I see.
I choose the feelings I experience, and
I decide upon the goal I would achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me
I ask for, and receive as I have asked.”

My first reaction when I read a statement like this is to think: “Donnie, when you were in Saint Augustine, you invested with a reputable friend who turned out to be a mini-Madoff and you lost almost $100K.” I want to say, “I didn’t choose to lose this money. I didn’t opt to be ripped off. How dare you insinuate I asked for this and I got it?
When I think in the realm of form, attachment, or outcome I am focused on my material 3-D world as perceived by my physical human body, which is separate from your physical human body. That is the reality my body’s eyes perceive. And, yes, awful things can and do happen in this world of mine. From that perspective of mistaking biological sight for vision and mistaking the lack of upsetting outside forces for personal peace and serenity, these kinds of statements make little sense to me.
What I am learning, however, is that these statements are not focused on the material, 3-D world of my perception. They are not focused on my attachments, my preferred outcomes, or my perceived world of form. They are focused on the inner world of my True Self: the true world of the reality of Spirit, of Love, of Peace.
However, while my True Self is here and connected to my physical human body, I have to function on this planet. I have to drive on the correct side of the road. I have to pay bills. I have to walk my little 10-pound, vicious, man-eating poodle-mix. I have to maintain my lawn equipment, and I have to be an educated voter. Sometimes, doing what I have to do as a human being, I believe things do not go well for me. Sometimes they do.  But that is not peace, joy, happiness, or love.
What I’m learning is that all I need to do is be absolutely willing to allow the Holy Spirit to provide me with another way of looking at people, events or situations. I simply need to be really willing. That’s all that’s asked of me.
What I learn in Alcoholics Anonymous is not how to rid myself from having “bad” things happen to me. It teaches me, instead, that when crap happens, I don’t need to drink over it. A Course in Miracles is not trying to educate me in the “ways of my 3-D world.” It does teach me that to apply spiritual rules to my perceived 3-D world isn’t where I’ll find peace and serenity. I need to apply spiritual rules to my inner world of my True Self. There, I can find peace in the midst of chaos. I can find peace and serenity in the midst of upsets, setbacks, hostility, and fear. Within that state of peace and serenity I can offer love and forgiveness. And when I offer love and forgiveness to you I find it for me.
I don’t need to change the world. I need to change how I perceive the world. I don’t need to change me. I need to be willing to see you differently, which will change me.
In my last message (Msg-3-Jul-2015; I Do Not Like To Be Reminded Of Me) I stated: When I think of the Christ in you or think to myself, as the ancient Mayans did in their greeting to each other “In Lak’ech” or “I am another you,” I am opening the door to being One with you. In that state of mind I cannot hide from myself, because as I see you I am seeing me.  There is where I find peace.
There is also where I experience the Love that passes all understanding.
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 Aug 2015

Copyright 2015

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I Do Not Like To Be Reminded Of Me

I will not be sending a message for a couple of weeks because I’ll be out of pocket. I’ll be talking with you again in August.
However, I was reminded last week at an AA meeting of the truism, “If you spot it, you got it.” I loathed that saying for many, many years because it was so true for me. I would invariably meet someone I instinctively simply didn’t like. Why? What was it about them that so disturbed me? Why did virtually everything they had to say just grate on my nerves? Why did their every mannerism just make me close my eyes and wince?
I would wrestle with that for a couple of weeks and, eventually, discuss it with my sponsor. He always would tell me one of two things: “There is something about that person that reminds you of you – but has been hidden from you by you because you don’t want to deal with whatever that issue is.” OrDonnie, if you spot it, you got it.” I would cringe every time I heard him say either of those things.
But they were always true for me!
The issue wasn’t the person, or what they had to say, or their mannerisms. The issue was … me. A course in Miracles (ACIM) discusses the same thing using a little more sophisticated language. All the meaning I place on things, events or people is simply a function of my perception – and my perception is simply a reflection of my inner egoic mind. So, according to ACIM, if I’m disturbed by what I perceive, I can correct the error simply by changing my mind.
From the Introduction (paragraph one) to Chapter 21 in the ACIM Text:  Projection makes perception. The world you see is what you gave it, nothing more than that. But though it is no more than that, it is not less. Therefore, to you it is important. It is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition. As a man thinketh, so does he perceive. Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world. Perception is a result and not a cause [it is the projection of my inward condition] .”
Believing in our separateness and in our projected perceptions is the error (not “sin”) ACIM states we make. When I decide to make another choice I have another opportunity to truly connect with you, which transforms me.
At issue I think is that my egoic mind (Felix) wants me to believe in my separateness or to believe in myself as my body. ACIM wants me to understand I am an already-loved eternal spirit at one with all humanity; I am not a body nor am I my thoughts.
Tastes of this reality have come to me through my involvement in AA.
In an AA meeting, people begin sharing by saying, “My name is _______. I’m an alcoholic.” It’s a great leveler – a uniter rather than a divider – a unifier rather than a separator. That sense of acceptance and belonging in AA has transformed my life. It has provided me with glimpses of ACIM’s description of a “Holy Instant” – times when a sense of Oneness has transformed my perception of all that matters.
When I think of the Christ in you or think to myself, as the ancient Mayans did in their greeting to each other “In Lak’ech” or “I am another you,” I am opening the door to being One with you. In that state of mind I cannot hide from myself, because as I see you I am seeing me.  There is where 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.

#3 Jul 2015

Copyright 2015

Friday, July 10, 2015

Why Should I Care About Anything?

I was very pleased when the South Carolina Legislature voted to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of their capital and move it to their Museum of Confederate Relics and History. But my “being pleased” raised an issue in my thoughts, which sometimes can be a scary place to go.
If all I “see” or perceive in the world is of my own thinking, then the world I perceive is illusionary. The Course in Miracles (ACIM) makes this very plain. If I’m “seeing” an illusionary world, why should I care about what South Carolina does or doesn’t do?
For that matter, why should I care about anything?
I have spoken here many times about trying to live in this world without being of this world. I think that idea applies here and I want to explain my reasoning.
ACIM tells us that each thought and each action we take is either adding to the Love or adding to the Fear that exists here. It is one or the other. There is no middle ground. I am either contributing to the well of Love or the whirlpool of Fear – both of which coexist on this planet. I contribute, one way or the other, with every thought I take. The Holy Spirit can take thoughts of Love and transform me and others if I’m willing to allow Him.
I do believe these statements. I believe that “my world” is illusionary. I also believe that I contribute to either Love or Fear with every thought I have. How can that be?
While we “live” in this illusionary place, we need to be aware of our thoughts and actions. When I drive in my illusionary world, I drive on my side of the road in the faith that oncoming drivers will also be driving on their side of the road. We will avoid a head-on collision by doing that. I also believe there are rules we all sign-up to follow: red or green lights, stop signs, speed limit restrictions, pulling over for emergency vehicles, etc. These are some of the rules we all adhere to for general safety. As we make these traffic rules, we imbue them with intentions that serve Love – in this case public safety.
We could also make traffic laws without regard for public safety – laws that only respected individual liberty. This would transform our freeways into massive carnival “bumper car” areas and cause general mayhem. Public safety would be relegated to simply having the biggest, baddest car on the road.
I believe it is the same in other areas of life. We can do things (or not) that will help create an environment conducive to either Love or Fear. Granted, we cannot control outcomes, but we can attempt to create a positive or negative environment. A posititve environment – acceptance, care, respect, cooperation, spirit-filled – may help induce spiritual reflection and personal growth. A negative atmosphere – competing for resources, win-loose, success-failure, striving only for wealth – may help keep someone from being more open to another way of looking at the meaning of life.
So, for me, the issue is one of subjugating my self to think and act in ways that are conducive for Love: thinking and acting in terms of respecting people, looking for the Christ in them, providing a welcoming demeanor to strangers, encouraging tolerance for “different” behavior, being open to new ways of viewing issues and situations, etc. It also includes developing my awareness of when I’m contributing to Fear – which usually shows up as anger, guilt, attempts to justify my feelings, being envious, or having resentments, judgments, disappointments, or frustrations. These are the typical reactions of my Fear – of not getting what I want (including an outcome) or fearing something might be taken from me. Once I recognize these feelings I need to give them to the Holy Spirit for Him to handle because I can’t.
But I have to do all this without expectations – without attachments. To expect an outcome is to allow my egoic Felix take control of the situation. This is the issue behind my feeling “pleased” at the actions of South Carolina. I think feeling pleased is okay because I perceive it on the side of an act of Love. But I wonder what I would have felt if the decision had been to keep the flag flying where it was. How understanding or accepting would I have felt then? I don’t really know.
I am a work in progress. I am not perfect nor am I perfectly consistent. So, I freely participate in the public debate over policy. I freely write these messages expressing my progress (or lack of same). I concentrate on making decisions to help create an atmosphere or environment of love, acceptance and respect. I try to recognize, acknowledge, and curb my expressions of fear. I try to do this without expectations and leave the outcome to the Holy Spirit.
I still have a long way to go.
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 Jul 2015
Copyright 2015

Saturday, July 4, 2015

All My Fears Are Between My Ears

With all that’s happened over the past several weeks, I found myself just reeling:
  •         The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) putting the healthcare issue to bed for good;
  •         SCOTUS resolving the same-sex marriage issue;
  •         SCOTUS resolving the gerrymandering issue;
  •         The white supremacy massacre in Charleston, SC
  •         The President’s magnificent eulogy at the funeral of one of the victims;
  •         The South Carolina decision to consider taking the Confederate flag off the capitol grounds and moving it to a museum;
  •         The corresponding decisions by corporate America and other southern states to follow suit.

My mind was in overdrive and it wasn’t all very good.
At first I was overwhelmingly elated... then my egoic thoughts took over:
  •         South Carolina would never vote to remove the flag. Neither will the other states;
  •         Some angry white supremacy group will make an overt attempt to assassinate Mr. Obama;
  •         After all the hubbub nothing real will have been accomplished;
  •         Lawyers will scour and find loopholes in the Supreme Court’s decisions – it’ll all go back into court;
  •         Don’t get too excited, Donnie, soon some ‘other shoe’ will drop.

Secondly, I found a small piece of paper while cleaning my office in preparation for some guests coming over. It contained a small verse that I wrote although I have no recollection of writing it, nor where it came from. It said: “Between the ears lies all your fears.”
Finally, I received a message from the author of Wisdom of the Rooms, Michael Z, whose message was entitled, “I’m glad that what’s happening in my head isn’t happening in my life.”
He opened his message with the following: “I don't know why, but my perception of my life is always different - and worse - than the reality of my life. I can be in line at Starbucks, and that's what's happening, but in the storm in my head I'm thinking the line is so slow I'll be there forever; the coffee won't be hot enough; the traffic will be horrible; I'll be late; I'll miss that big deal, and then I'll lose my job and join the rest of the world of the unemployed in the 2nd Great Depression. And this is all just in line at Starbucks!
I couldn’t help but laugh as I read this. That’s exactly what I had been doing with all the recent news.  Just like Michael Z, my thoughts are not positive. Why don’t I get overwhelmed from inner thoughts that are uplifting? Hopeful? Loving? Peaceful? But they’re not. They’re dire, foreboding, dark, or negative.  
I believe they are that way because they are thoughts from Felix, my egoic self. Felix thrives on fear and all its associated emotions – anger, hate, separation, frustration, anxiety, envy, exasperation, and resentment. Those are the emotions that I have learned to associate with being alive, being alert, being critically knowledgeable, and being mature. That’s what I’ve been taught.
That’s hogwash! – and I know it.
Still, those are the first and very powerful thoughts that I sense. Then I begin to remember the lessons I’ve learned in A Course in Miracles (ACIM). My ego thrives on fear. It hungers for it, but it cannot stand being recognized as the source of my fear. So, it must blame you for it. My anger, hate, separation, frustration, anxiety, envy, exasperation, and resentment are your fault. My problems are out there somewhere. I would be better off and happier if the Supreme Court had kept its big mouth shut. I’d be better off if Obama weren’t the president. I’d be more relaxed and serene if….. I’d be more at ease and able to live more happily, more joyously and more freely if only you would change.  Change what? Well, most everything about yourself.
Why can’t folks seem to get that? Why must they fight, argue and resist my wonderful unsolicited suggestions? “My intentions are honorable,” I say to myself while Felix grins, rubs his hands and chuckles. After all my intentions are to get you to assume you ARE responsible and try – hopelessly – to make me happy.
What does really begin to make me happy is to realize what I’m doing to myself. I realize, release and relax. The 3 R’s: Realization: I understand the game Felix plays (fear) and the images (or perceptions) he creates. I fully begin to realize it when my serenity, calm, and joy are flying out the window. Releasing: I know I cannot will myself to think differently, so I forgive myself for projecting these false perceptions and believing them while, at the same time, forgiving the perception of you I have created. Then I ask the Holy Spirit to provide me with a new way of seeing the situation or person. Relaxing: I still myself and continue my training in learning how to listen for the whispers of God – the small voice I hear behind the raucous cacophony of the boisterous committee that is clamoring in my head. I don’t try to stop those voices. I can’t. I simply continue to learn how to ignore them and listen for the whispers.
I understand, most assuredly, you cannot relate to any of this. However, I thank you for allowing me to crystalize my thoughts for my continued growth.
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.
Have a happy 4th of July.
#1 Jul 2015
Copyright 2015