Friday, March 25, 2016

ACIM, AA and Easter – Part 3

We celebrate Easter this weekend. On Good Friday, this same weekend in 1987, is when I had my last drink of alcohol – April 17, 1987. Not only did my alcoholic self begin to die that weekend, my resurrected Self began its journey to emerge in my life. So I am living proof of the resurrection. I want to share a portion of my spiritual rebirth as I recounted it in my book - How the Bible became the Bible [Infinity Publishing, 2006 ISBN: 978-0-7414-2993-3]:
“I was able to intellectually understand what The [AA] Program was all about, but I didn’t comprehend the magnitude of the changes in store for me. I wanted to get through the Twelve Steps in a month. Why not? The old-timers would nod and smile that little knowing smile and say, “Stick around. Let us love you until you learn how to love yourself.” “Sure,” I’d reply, without having a clue as to what they were saying. But I stayed around and for some strange reason continued doing what I was told.
“For over forty years I had fought against the notion of being “normal,” and instead of swimming upstream with leaden arms, I was now allowing myself to float on my back and be carried along by the current. I had hope again. I had life again. I had a tomorrow again. It was absolutely wonderful!
“I immersed myself in AA for the next nineteen months, going to about five meetings a week. I read the Big Book. I listened. I talked. I made coffee at meetings. I helped with picnics. I stacked chairs. I helped people move. I did whatever it was suggested I do, because I was deathly afraid of NOT changing.
“In the Big Book are words to the effect that the same person will drink again. I didn’t want that happening to me. If I didn’t undergo some fundamental changes in my makeup, if I remained the same person, then my sobriety wouldn’t last. I began to understand how to say, “I’m sorry.” I began to understand that it’s okay to say, “I don’t know” or “How’d you do that?” or “How’d you know that?” I began to understand that it’s really a relief not to feel that I had to either baffle with bullshit or dazzle with brilliance.
“Before I had gotten sober I would get an unmistakable knot in my stomach every afternoon around four o’clock. I know now it was an early withdrawal symptom. By the time I’d get home the knot would’ve turned into a real pain. A shot of vodka would make it disappear—just melt it away. After I stopped drinking the knot continued to appear every afternoon, right on schedule. But I was going to AA after work, not home for a vodka. I began noticing, however, that when I simply touched the doorknob to the church basement where the AA meeting was held, my knot began dissolving. This was a physiological phenomenon that I could not ignore but could not explain. As I talked about it, old-timers just smiled.
“It also was stated in the Big Book that the only thing that could prevent one’s recovery was an inability to be honest—with others and with yourself. I became so honest it was ridiculous. I made Abe Lincoln look like a con artist. If I found a quarter on the sidewalk, I’d give it to a homeless person rather than put it in my pocket, because it wasn’t mine. If a lane was closed one mile ahead (according to the roadwork sign), I’d merge to the appropriate lane as soon as I saw the sign. No more trying to sneak past the honest schmucks who were slowing down. I’d put money in the tollbooth even if no one was on duty.
“AA’s Serenity Prayer (attributed to one of the Niebuhr brothers—theologian Reinhold or church historian Richard) goes like this: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” I learned I couldn’t control people, places, or things. All I could control (sometimes) was my attitude. When I changed my attitude and became truly centered—knowing that my purpose in life was to help another alcoholic—my whole physical world changed. Problems with my car got “better.” Bosses seemed to actually listen. Illnesses began to clear up. Relationship problems seemed to take care of themselves. Financial problems were not the end of the world—they simply came, had to be dealt with, and then went. To me, it’s always been a miracle. Change what I can—my attitude and outlook—and my world changes. I don’t know how to manipulate it. I cannot predict it. All I can do is accept it, thoroughly relish it when it occurs, and thank God (as I understand God) for it.
“This sense of reality and miracle is what I imagine was occurring in these small Jesus Movement groups and Christ Congregations. If I find it difficult and frustrating to communicate to you what happens when I change my attitude, then I can surely imagine the frustration and difficulty that occurred in the decades after Jesus died.
“Yes, I had hope again. I had life again. I had a tomorrow again. It was absolutely wonderful! I became a member of the human race again—an actual fallible, frail, feeling, forgetful, forgiving, fearful, frenzied, frolicking human being. It became clear as well, very quickly, that I didn’t know how to be that. I’m still learning, but that’s another story.” (Pages 183-185)
As I stated at the beginning of this message, I am living proof of the reality of the resurrection.
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 Mar 2016
Copyright 2016

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Hi Everyone -

Oops! I misread my computer calendar and thought today was Easter Sunday - hence the Easter Parts 1 & 2 messages.

To err is human - to really mess up I need a computer.

Have a wonderful week.

Blessings, Don

Friday, March 18, 2016

ACIM, AA and Easter – Part 2

Happy Easter to everyone.
Last week [Msg-2-Mar-2016] I opened the message with: “Over the years of writing these messages, I have received many comments, criticisms and questions about Jesus, the Bible and the role of Christian dogma as the root of a good spiritual path. What does A Course in Miracles (ACIM), old-timers in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), as well as my own resurrection from the death of alcoholism have to say about the formal Christian story? As we approach Palm Sunday, followed by Good Friday/Easter, I think it is time to share some of my thoughts on these topics – based on my experiential faith / knowledge.” This week’s message continues that discussion.
Easter, to Christians, is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus following his crucifixion several days earlier. I want to discuss with you some of ACIM’s understandings of the Resurrection, Jesus, the Christ, and Atonement. Much of the source material for the following is from the “Glossary of Terms from A Course In Miracles,” Robert Perry, Circle Publishing, 2005.
Resurrection:  As opposed to the biblical interpretation that the resurrection was the raising of Jesus body, proving that he was divine, ACIM states that it was not proof of Jesus’ divine status but rather a demonstration of a general truth: that life cannot be destroyed and indeed is the only reality. [T-3,I.7:6-7]. Over and over again the Course mentions there is no death. Consequently, the resurrection of Jesus referred to the reawakening of his own mind to the reality of Love and the vision of the Holy Spirit rather than the revivification of his physical body. The resurrection also refers to “…the rising of the mind and of the entire Sonship (all of humanity) from the ego’s dream of death to the awareness of eternal life, from insanity to perfectly healed perception.
Jesus: All of humanity, including Jesus of Nazareth, is, collectively, the Son of God. However, according to ACIM, Jesus was the first to perfectly complete his part in the plan for salvation, and so become the leader in that plan and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. As part of this function, he authored A Course In Miracles [M-23.7:1]  Since we believe we are still real people in this material, real world, “…he is now the living presence in all minds and works to bring us to the realization of the homecoming that has already occurred.”
Christ:  Christian dogma teaches us that Christ is the risen Jesus, the Son of God. ACIM states, however, that all of created humankind is His One Son – Our true identity and the single Self that is shared by all. Jesus was the first to see with the vision of the Holy Spirit and to remember the truth about our shared identity in Christ. I, as well as many spiritual traditions, have stated: “I am not a body with an eternal soul. I am an already-loved eternal spirit currently having a human experience. I just need to awaken to that reality.”
Atonement:  Biblical texts refer to Atonement as the wiping away of sins by payment for them. Specifically, Jesus paid for all the sins of humanity on the cross. The Course announces that sins are wiped away by the realization that they were not real in the first place, and the rift with God never happened. As a result, ACIM tells us that Atonement is said to undo errors (rather than sins), correct perception (rather than the corruption of one’s soul), and cancel out past errors (rather than pay for them.)… Put simply, “Atonement…enables you to realize that your errors never really occurred.” [T-2.I.4:4] It wipes away what stands between us and God with knowledge that nothing stands between us and God.
Bottomline: The Christ – that is within us all, that unifies us all, that operates only in the reality of Love is the Christ that has made Himself very real to me In AA, and I was resurrected and transformed. That same Christ made Himself real to Jesus’ early followers and they, too, were transformed. Beyond that experiential Truth, all the remaining biblical and theological discourses pale in comparison. I know He is a living presence in my life.
There are questions about whose Gospel version is closer to the truth. There are questions about whether the Gospel accounts are truly historical accounts. Did He really conquer death? Did Thomas really touch Him? All these kinds of questions really don’t matter unless you have not had a life-changing encounter with Him. What He has taught me is that there is no death – except the death of that perceived illusionary world I think is real: the world of duality, lack, gain/loss, win/lose, right/wrong. Those perceptions in me must die but Felix (my ego) will fight to keep those perceptions alive – he will not go quietly into the night.
As I stated last week: The Christ of Faith and the Holy Spirit (called The Voice For God in ACIM) are still alive and well and will transform your life as soon as you willingly ask. This, however, is not a once-and-done kind of thing. It’s a daily process of choosing to see events, people and situations differently and asking the Holy Spirit to make it so. It is just like my recovery from alcoholism. It is a “one-day-at-a-time” kind of process.
To crucify Jesus all over again I only need to cloud the face of Christ in someone I meet by not recognizing that the person in front of me is simply a mirror of my perception. The Hindus convey the same idea with their “NAMASTE” greeting (The God in me recognizes the God in you), as does the ancient Mayan greeting “IN LAKECH” (You are but another me). When I cannot envision the face of Christ in someone, it is always because my faulty perception has interfered and blurred the image. However, I cannot will myself to be Christ-centered. I can only be open and willing to see with the vision of the Holy Spirit rather than with my eyes of sight. The Voice for God will provide me with that vision – that new perception.
As stated in ACIM in Chapter 26, Section IX: “Is it too much to ask a little trust for [that someone in front of you] who carries Christ to you, that you may be forgiven all your sins, and left without a single one you cherish still? Forget not that a shadow held between your brother and yourself obscures the face of Christ and memory of God.” [T: 26, IX, 2:1-2]]

#3 Mar 2016

Copyright 2016

Saturday, March 12, 2016

ACIM, AA and Easter – Part 1

Over the years of writing these messages, I have received many comments, criticisms and questions about Jesus, the Bible and the role of Christian dogma as the root of a good spiritual path. What does A Course in Miracles (ACIM), old-timers in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), as well as my own resurrection from the death of alcoholic poisoning have to say about the formal Christian story? As we approach Palm Sunday, followed by Good Friday/Easter, I think it is time to share some of my thoughts on these topics – based on my experiential faith / knowledge.
I wrote my book, How the Bible became the Bible [Infinity Publishing, 2006 ISBN: 978-0-7414-2993-3] before I knew anything about ACIM. I began chapter 9, “The Difficulty in Finding the Right Words,” with: “Throughout the previous two chapters, the issue of communicating deep spiritual realities has been raised. If we cannot begin to see these biblical persons as we see ourselves, then they truly will be different from us. They will be from another age, another era. For them, God will be more a part of their lives than he will be a part of our lives today. If that is the case, then the Bible truly will be of another age as well, to be enjoyed or worshipped for its mystique and magic. But if the biblical writers are as we, then we can begin seeing ourselves in them and seeing them in us. In this way the spirit of God allows the many centuries and different cultural trappings to dissolve, resulting in the spiritual realities, not biblical literalsim, of biblical times becoming true for us today.
“In order to put a human face on the issue of communicating deep spiritual realities, I want to tell you about my journey to sobriety …. [It] was an exceptionally spiritual experience to me. How do I discuss this spiritual experience without sounding “hokey”? How do I find the words to verbalize things I “knew” but didn’t understand and didn’t know how to verbalize? If I had been in one of these initial [first century Christian] groups or associations (either a Jesus Movement group or a Christ Congregation), would I have driven people out of the group? Been driven out? The issues I talk about below are very real to me and explain a “sense” of connection I feel to these early pioneers ….
My Story
“Good Friday fell on April 17 in 1987, and I saw a doctor about my sickness. I will never forget that day because it was the day my Self died. [It was the last day I consumed alcohol.] Of course my Self didn’t decide to die. It had been beaten to a pulp by my abuse of alcohol and all the things that went with it: borderline malnutrition, every kind of deficiency imaginable, and resolute abstinence of exercise.” [p. 175-6]
That’s how I began my story – My self died…. Yet that is exactly what ACIM tells us has to happen to begin waking up to our true reality: We are not humans who have, somewhere inside, an eternal soul; we are already-loved eternal spirits that are currently having a human experience. To experience the reality of Love is to return to the only reality there is. All else we think of as “the real world” is just a creation of our perception, based on what we have been taught.
If I change my perception, I change my world. To change my perception, all I have to do is be willing to ask the Holy Spirit to allow that to happen. To change my perception is not a “goal” or “task” that I must diligently achieve. That’s what my ego (which I call Felix) wants to believe. He wants to stay in charge. He gets very frightened if I truly want to see things differently – to see things as the Holy Spirit sees them. Felix has a right to be frightened. If I saw people, events, and situations as the Holy Spirit saw them, Felix would vanish.
That’s exactly what Jesus did. Christian dogma has taught us that Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth to die for our sins. We receive salvation through having faith in Him and His sacrificial death. However, we humans are, collectively, the Son of God, of whom Jesus is the loving elder brother. Jesus was the first to completely live and perceive as the Holy Spirit lives and sees. He said we could co this too.
That’s exactly what I experienced in AA. For the first time in my life I experienced the power of Love through the genuine acceptance of grizzled old men in church basements. They told me in very explicit terms, “Let us love you until you have learned to love yourself.” I had no idea what that meant. But – man-oh-man – did I ever experience that love and acceptance! It transformed my life.
Jesus saw and responded to the Christ in everyone He met, and these encounters transformed all who came to know Him.  It also scared the beejeezus out of those Felixes who saw Him as a threat to their existence. In His life he perfectly demonstrated the way “home,” which we have never left – except in our misguided perceptions – by practicing true forgiveness. In His crucifixion he taught that even in the most extreme attacks we cannot be hurt and so we can teach only the power and reality of Love and Acceptance – the power of seeing the Christ in all we meet.
People experienced that acceptance and love and, like me, didn’t understand it. They felt transformed by His actions and words, so they worshipped Him with “Hosannas” and palm fronds. They worshipped the messenger rather than the liberating message. Eventually they tweaked and massaged the message until it made egoic sense and their verbalization of their transformation became literal dogma. The experience of the transformative power of the Christ of Faith had been reduced to academic or cerebral explanations – that had to be believed, literally, in order to be saved.
But the Christ of Faith and the Holy Spirit (called The Voice For God in ACIM) are still alive and well and will transform your life as soon as you willingly ask. This, however, is not a once-and-done kind of thing. It’s a daily process of choosing to see  events, people and situations differently and asking the Holy Spirit to make it so.
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 Mar 2016
Copyright 2016

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Remembering To Remember

I just came back from a trip to western North Carolina where a very good friend recommended a book entitled The Spiritual Awakening of the Great Smoky Mountains, self published by Page Bryant (1994) Waynesville, NC.
As was Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing, by Robert Wolff [Inner Traditions Publishing, 2001], which I wrote about last month (Understanding The Whole Helps Understand The Parts; Msg-3-Feb-2016), Page Bryant was able to verbalize many of the feelings and intuitions I have been experiencing without being able to express them well. Using different words, she is expressing this identical overpowering sense of Oneness, where there is no distinction between subject and object, that I have been experiencing yet have not found the appropriate words.
During a brief morning meditative moment this week, a spot of clarity about these nature-related thoughts of Oneness flooded my mind. I want to share those with you today.
Page Bryant writes about her own sense of Oneness she embraces when visiting the Great Smoky Mountain National Park: “Though the entire area is beautiful and helps to put me in a calm and open state of mind, I am particularly drawn to the beautiful little roadside waterfalls found throughout the area. These wonderful moist, green spots are delightfully fragrant with the smells of the rich soil, the moss-covered fallen trees, and the negative ions that seem to reach inside and caress the soul. The first time I visited such a site I was almost instantly propelled into an altered state of what I call pure ‘nature consciousness’… that precious frame of mind and heart that stirs and opens my deepest senses and emotions in complete safety and compassion for all that lives; the state that brings my ‘connection’ with all that lives into full consciousness….” (p. 34-5)
She writes a lot about Native American rituals and ceremonies – many connected to very specific Smoky Mountain sites of the ancient Cherokee. She wrote: “I believe that ceremony is one of the most valuable tools we have to bring about a change in our consciousness, for healing the earth and ourselves, and for getting into conscious touch with the [spirit and energy of the plant, animal, and mineral kingdoms].” (p.157-8)
As she was describing the role of ceremony and ritual within Cherokee culture, I became very aware that, for me, what she seemed to be saying is that ceremony or ritual has the ability to help me remember to remember the power of intuition or experiential (not cerebral) knowing. I need always to remember to remember the awe inspiring occurrence of this kind of intuitive knowledge – a knowing that simply overpowers my intellect. It is not knowledge I have deduced. It is the knowing that I know to be true because I experienced its truth for me.
She goes on to describe some of this knowing.We must, if we and our planet are to survive, return to a remembrance that the Earth is alive! … We must, once again armed with a knowledge of the sacred dances and songs, lift ourselves out of the mire of apathetic materialism … that we might heal ourselves from the ecological and spiritual tragedies which have resulted from our almost total reliance upon our intellect. I take nothing away from the value of logic and reason and feel it to be a necessary part of our approach to knowledge and understanding. But omitting intuition and by not bringing our intuitive faculties to bear upon whatever knowledge we gain, we run the risk of the precise one-sidedness of materialism so apparent within society today. Science and the lifeless mechanical world it permits to exist is not all there is. [To take a successful journey to explore an intuitive awareness of unseen energies and life forces] we must carry with us the tool of [openness and] willingness; a willingness to have a honest sense of desire and expectation in order to become aware of earth’s living energies and the mind to think of the world as a whole being that is held together by a real living, unifying energy which links us all – every place to every other place, every soul to all other souls, and, ultimately, the Earth and her children…” (p. 69-70)  
This call for remembering to remember reminded me the other morning of the Christian ritual of the Last Supper and Jesus’ words to the disciples: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” But after reading Bryant and Wolff, along with the messages of A Course In Miracles (ACIM) and the wisdom of AA, it helped me put this experiential sense I have been having in a new light. Perhaps Jesus wasn’t saying “Remember me, I’m going to die for you in order to satisfy the judgment of my Father” (a critical tenet of Christian dogma), but saying: “Remember, we are all One. Every person is but a reflection of you. The act of all of us tonight sharing together one cup and one loaf is symbolic of that reality. Please do not forget that.”
Take what you want from this message and leave the rest. Oh! Find and embrace a small waterfall regardless of the weather today. Perhaps it will connect and enrich you.

#1 Mar 2016

Copyright 2016