Saturday, April 30, 2016

Me, Myself, I and the Holy Spirit

I have titled this message “Me, Myself, and I,” none of which I really am. I am an already-loved eternal spirit that is One with the Holy Spirit.
I have written many times in many ways about how I perceive events, situations and people – all outside of me – as the cause of my discomfort or stress. If “they” would only act better, be more considerate, or be truly aware of what I was telling them, then I would not be so upset. If our political situation were more “grown-up,” I wouldn’t be in such a state of anger or irritation. If that dumb-ass hadn’t tried to cut me off, I wouldn’t have had to swerve which tipped my coffee over, ruined the papers in the passenger seat and “made” me late for my appointment.
Rationally, of course, sitting in my office at my laptop, I intellectually know that events and situations “outside” of me are not what cause my distress. I know that people do not cause me distress.
That intellectual knowledge? Well, lotta good that does me.
I am also intellectually aware that trying to “fix” my external environment will no bring me peace, serenity, and joy. More money won’t. More clothes won’t. A different AA Group won’t. A newer car won’t. More Republicans in office won’t – nor will more Democrats.
That intellectual awareness? Well, lotta good that does me, too.
I have to understand, on a visceral level, who the “Me” or “I” really is when I am speaking or thinking. The “I” that says to myself, “I really need a newer, more reliable car” is a different “I” than the one that says to my Holy Spirit, “I can’t do this anymore. Help “me” perceive things the way You see them.”
I am beginning to be able to discern the subtle difference between my egoic “I,” who I call Felix, and the real, inner Donnie, my True Self, who both asks for guidance and is getting better at tuning in to hear the whispers of the Holy Spirit amidst the din of all Felix’s voices.
That’s a start for me. It DOES do me a lotta good.
I have learned in AA that 99% of my discomfort, irritation, anger and fear comes from trying to control people, places or things. That’s why the Serenity Prayer focuses on asking for the wisdom to know the difference between what I can and cannot change. And when I think about it the only thing I can really change is my attitude and subsequent actions.
I was recently reminded of another AA saying that I had forgotten about. It makes the same point I’m making here, but from the flip side. It’s a thought you may want to ponder this week:
"If I'm not the problem, there is no solution."
As I stated last week: “This means to me that everything is always internal. “I” am always the issue. Trying to control external events, people, or situations is futile, frustrating, exasperating, and disappointing. That is not a picture of peace and serenity.
“It’s always internal!”
Strive for control over your experience of the events/situations/people of your life – not control over the events/situations/people themselves.
#1 May 2016

Copyright 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Issues Of Living In The Now

Two thoughts: 1) We have just listed our house for sale. 2) I know I am to be living in the NOW because each moment may be an opportunity for my Spirit Guide (the Voice for God) to create a Holy Encounter.
A Course in Miracles (ACIM) states [T-8.III.4 (emphasis mine)]: “When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself. Whenever two Sons of God meet, they are given another chance at salvation. Do not leave anyone without giving salvation to him [through forgiveness – remembering you and him are one] and receiving it yourself. For I am always there with you, in remembrance of you.
To be in a position to allow a holy encounter to occur, I need to be Honest, Open and Willing – what old timers in AA called the importance of HOW.
I need to always turn inwards, whether I like the person or not, whether I agree with the person or not, whether I respect the person or not. How I am seeing, treating or thinking of that person (try Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton or a skin head white supremacist on for size) is really how I am seeing, treating, or thinking of myself. In the person I have encountered NOW, I will either find myself or lose myself. As I have said before, this is not a once-and-done proposition. According to Jesus, this is true ALL the time, with everyone, always,
This means to me that everything is always internal. I am always the issue. Trying to control external events, people, or situations is futile, frustrating, exasperating, and disappointing. That is not a picture of peace and serenity. A lovely quote I got from someone somewhere is scribbled on my corkboard: “Strive for control over your experience of the events/people of your life – not control over the events/people themselves.”
It’s always internal!
All this brings me to the act of selling our house. A neighbor told me, “When you put your house up for sale, you no longer own your house. You have become the constant caretakers of your house.” How true that is.
Every day it seems like my to-do list grows. Regardless of how diligent I think I have been, the list just grows all by itself. I find myself wishing my vigilant wife wasn’t so vigilant. Paint the grates. Scour the decks. Move pictures then caulk and paint the walls. Move furniture for the carpet cleaners, Rearrange and clean out my bookshelves. Clean the gutters. Wash down the outside of the house – and don’t forget the windows! Oh! The decks look lovely – now, what about the fence?
The chores are simply constant. So, I think to myself, “Donnie, you are preparing this house for your next home. Someone in North Carolina is going through this exact same process for you. They are wondering where you are.”
“Wonderful, but where are my buyers?” I answer myself. “Where are the seekers? Why isn’t anyone coming? Are we ever going to be able to move? Am I stuck here? Will we get such a low offer that we’ll have to eat dog food on stale crackers I have pilfered from Wendy’s?”
 Oh! Woe is me! I am on my royal pity-pot, whining as I sit in my king baby chair.
Where in this process has my NOW gone? Where is my awareness of my continuing holy encounters? Where is my willingness to engage with the Voice for God to participate in the oneness of all I meet?
My HOW had gotten lost in the anticipations and expectations of a perfect (to me!) sale: my timeframe, my price, my inspections, my closing. In short, my perceptions had become my reality and my perspective and awareness of my Spirit Guide had been shunted into the deep background.
I was becoming a mess. Frustrated. Irritable. Short-tempered.
I didn’t like it at all.
That internal awareness of my discomfort has been – in the end – a wonderful wake-up call for me. Hence this message for you is really a reaffirmation for me. Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening to me and knowing me – warts and all.
As always, feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#4 Apr 2016

Copyright 2016

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Healing My Self While Being Healed

When we think of healing or being healed we usually think of some sort of remedy for an illness. We do the remedy and it works. We are healed. So, sickness and its corresponding healing is of my body. When I am sick I am aware – really aware – of my physical body. According the ACIM, that is the real function of my body – to provide Felix (my Ego) “proof” that my body and my Self are one and the same. But I have learned I am not my body. Nor am I what I think. So, what kind of healing is the Course talking about? What kind of healing do I really need?
In the text of A Course in Miracles (ACIM), it is stated: “The only thing that is required for a healing is a lack of fear. The fearful are not healed, and cannot heal. This does not mean the conflict must be gone forever from your mind to heal. ... But it does mean, if only for an instant, you love without attack. An instant is sufficient. Miracles wait not on time.” [ACIM: T.27.V-2:5-14; emphasis mine]
As an aside: I think a perfect definition of Acceptance would be: Love Without Attack or Conditions.
The Course tells me sickness and healing are entirely of my mind. Felix’s sick mind is the source of all my pain. Healing is the replacement of wrong thinking with right thinking – the release from fear and the acceptance of love. Ultimately, I will find healing through the letting go of my old perceptions – both of myself as well as of others – that I am separate and alone. This will let me see past my sick appearances to the underlying wholeness – both of me and of all others.
I sure found this to be true, as I became a part of Alcoholics Anonymous, although I would not have expressed it in these words. For the first time in my life I felt totally accepted in those dank church basements sitting at tables designed for elementary school children. I was simply me – as honestly as I could be – warts and all. And that was good enough. That was valued. I was valued. That transformed my life. I have never been the same since. In ACIM lingo, I was being healed as I was honestly sharing in those rooms. “What occurred within the instant that love entered in without attack will stay with you forever.” [ACIM: T.27.V-11:4] Amen Brother! Amen!
The reality of healing, no matter how trivial you may think it is – or how profound (as in my case) – will forever change your life. In AA I heard many old-timers say to a newcomer: “If you want what we have (serenity, joy, and the lifting of the compulsion to drink), then do what we do. Don’t drink, get a temporary sponsor, and come to 90 meetings in 90 days. After that, if you want to go back out and resume your previous life, we will gladly refund your misery. However, please remember, having become just a little acquainted AA, your drinking will forever be ruined.”
I stayed after 90 days. I was driven, not so much by the act of not drinking, but by the fear of losing the acceptance I found in those rooms. I was beginning to perceive that a developing spirituality was bringing me peace and joy because life in that context was always a win-win. Either I was presented with an outcome that materially benefitted me or I was presented with an outcome from which I needed to learn – often referred to as “… another frigging growth experience (AFGE).”
So, what is to fear or be angry about? I’m either getting what I need or I’m given an opportunity to grow in a way that will benefit me. Where’s the downside? Win-Win.
That was simply marvelous.
That was simply wonderful.
That was simply a miracle.
And I began a process – that is still in progress – of changing from the inside out.
And here I am on the eve of my 29th AA anniversary. I could never have imagined this was where I would be when I first entered a small house in Reston, Virginia called “The Stepping Stones.” There were 7 or 8 grizzled old men, who could tell I was new, and who gently began accepting me as the most important person in the world, while the Holy Spirit began healing my mind by providing me with a different way of looking at life.
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 Apr 2016

Copyright 2016

Saturday, April 9, 2016

When I Help You – You Are Helping Me

 When I entered the program, I thought I might finally learn how to help myself. Instead, I was given direction that made no sense. "Wash the coffee cups after the meeting," I was told. "Get a commitment to get to a meeting early and set the chairs up." "Become a greeter and ask other people how they are doing." What about me? I thought. How am I going to get better if I'm focused on helping others rather than myself? Even though I didn't understand it, I was desperate, so I followed your direction.
 And that's when the miracle took place. Over time I came to see that alone I couldn't, but together we could recover. I learned that the solution began when I got out of myself and helped you. … Ultimately I learned that when I was helping you, you were helping me and that was the solution I could never find by myself.
When I can actually understand the emotions of fear, anxiety and distress that are behind another’s comments or attitudes, I am able to empathize and relate because I, too, have those same emotions. In those brief moments we are communicating on the same wavelength and all superficial differences between us seem to disappear. I say “seem” because that’s the way I think. In reality the differences actually have disappeared.
That’s the miracle A Course in Miracles explains – the miracle of Oneness.
In AA that same miracle is expressed in the experience of discovering – as Michael Z stated – that when I am helping you, you are helping me.
I know this is a very short message because I am in the middle of trying to maintain my peace, serenity and joy in the midst of trying to get our house and property ready for selling. My, oh my – the stress, worry and expectations become very difficult for me to deal with appropriately. I just need to remember that I am a work in progress. I’m no longer who I was, but I’m not fully who I am going to be.
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.
For those of you who have asked me for guidance on how to change, I hope this helps.
#2 Apr 2016
Copyright 2016

Saturday, April 2, 2016

ACIM’s Guide To Peacefulness

 My digging mind is not only relentless, but it is consistently negative as well. I never find it digging in a positive or hopeful place. I can't recall it dwelling on or digging in the hole of getting that great job, or relationship, or winning the lotto, or of having things work out. No, driven by a hundred forms of self-centered fear, it searches the beaches of disappointment and failure, and digs away.
ACIM addresses this same phenomena throughout – consistently reminding us that the Course, essentially, is a course in mind training. How do I train my mind?  Do I relinquish all my possessions and move to some mountain cave and live like a hermit? The Manual for Teachers (Part III of the Course) addresses this in Chapter 9, Are Changes Required In The Life Situation Of God's Teachers?
1 Changes are required in the minds of God's teachers. This may or may not involve changes in the external situation. Remember that no one is where he is by accident, and chance plays no part in God's plan. It is most unlikely that changes in attitudes would not be the first step in the newly-made teacher of God's training. There is, however, no set pattern, since training is always highly individualized. There are those who are called upon to change their life situation almost immediately, but these are generally special cases. By far the majority are given a slowly-evolving training program, in which as many previous mistakes as possible are corrected. Relationships in particular must be properly perceived, and all dark cornerstones of unforgiveness removed. Otherwise the old thought system still has a basis for return.
2 As the teacher of God advances in his training, he learns one lesson with increasing thoroughness. He does not make his own decisions; he asks his Teacher for His answer, and it is this he follows as his guide for action. This becomes easier and easier, as the teacher of God learns to give up his own judgment. The giving up of judgment, the obvious prerequisite for hearing God's Voice, is usually a fairly slow process, not because it is difficult, but because it is apt to be perceived as personally insulting. The world's training is directed toward achieving a goal in direct opposition to that of our curriculum. The world trains for reliance on one's judgment as the criterion for maturity and strength. Our curriculum trains for the relinquishment of judgment as the necessary condition of salvation.[or peace or joy]“ [M-9:1-2]
Judgment is attack. Innocuous judgment is still attack. Any form of attack is a reiteration of my belief in my separateness. Attack thoughts come from me and at me. They are, however, one and the same. If I can get even, then someone else can get even with me. Anger, Getting Even, Rationalization, Uneasiness, Vulnerability, Apprehension and Worry are all attack thoughts. These are all components of Fear. They are all fear-based ideas grounded in my belief of my separateness and vulnerability. Attacks coming at me are simply my thought of attack bouncing back at me. As an example: I can feel an immediate uneasiness when a highway patrol car cruises by. This is an indication (attack in the form of guilt/fear) that I am speeding or have speeded in the past and "gotten away with it.” Now, I may get caught.
Changing my mind is the only way out of fear that will ever succeed. Nothing else will work; everything else is meaningless. I have to always remember that the world I see has nothing to do with reality. However, if my “mind” is sick with fear-based thoughts, how can I expect to “think” myself into another state of mind? AA old-timers taught me that “I don’t think myself into a new way of living; I live myself into a new way of thinking. In short, I have to do something to counter the fear-based thoughts of Felix (my ego). I cannot think myself into a way to think differently. I can, however, learn to do something differently that will eventually impact my thinking.
So, when I am like Michael Z’s dog digging in the sand for negative thoughts, feelings or fears, I try to do the following:
I say to myself: "I am <angry, worried, disappointed, etc.> at/because <name, situation> but I am only reacting to a world whose meaning I created from a selective memory of my past. I am determined to really see! I am neither the victim nor the victor. I do not know what anything, including this situation, means, so I do not know how to respond to it. And I will not use my own past learning as the light to guide me.” So, I ask – “I really no longer want this; Help me to see another way of looking at this situation." Then I still my mind and listen for the message of my Spirit Guide!
For those of you who have asked me for guidance on how to change, I hope this helps.
#1 Apr 2016

Copyright 2016