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The teachings of A Course in Miracles play a central role in my life. In fact, it’s not in any way an exaggeration to say that I would not be who I am today without the Course. Although I had read small bits of the Course before, my first real introduction to how it could work in my life to transform fear into love, and turmoil and pain into peace and joy, came from Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love.

Last weekend, Oprah had Marianne on her Super Soul Sunday program to talk about A Return to Love and how it helped change her life. You can watch the full episode here. I can’t think of a better way to spend 45 minutes of my life.

Blessings,
Abby

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Beginner’s Mind

A Course in Miracles teaches us how to achieve “beginner’s mind,” that openness to learning what we do not know, to learning something that works to replace all that we thought we knew that has not worked in our lives. It’s simple really, although not always easy, depending on the strength of our attachment to the familiar and our fear of the unknown. Usually, it is only after reaching a point of absolute despair and desperation that we are willing to let go and let Goddess guide us.

Your part is very simple. You need only recognize that everything you learned you do not want. Ask to be taught, and do not use your experiences to confirm what you have learned. When your peace is threatened or disturbed in any way, say to yourself:

I do not know what anything, including this means. And 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 know.

By this refusal to attempt to teach yourself what you do not know, the Guide Whom Goddess has given you will speak to you. She will take Her rightful place in your awareness the instant you abandon it, and offer it to Her.

A Course in Miracles: T:14:XI:6:3-11

I was reminded of this important principle this morning while reading a passage by Pema Chodron on prajna, or unconditional wisdom or bodhichitta, one of the six paramitas or activities in which bodhisattvas train. She said:

The foundation of the prajnaparamita is mindfulness, an open-ended inquiry into our experience. We question without the intention of finding permanent solutions. We cultivate a mind that is ready and inquisitive, not satisfied with limited or biased views. With this unfixated mind of prajna we practice the other paramitas [generosity, discipline, exertion, patience and meditation], moving from narrow-mindedness to flexibility and fearlessness.”

Comfortable With Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion, Section 68.

Readings on Christmas

“It is in your power to make this season holy, for it is in your power to make the time of Christ be now. It is possible to do this all at once because there is but one shift in perception that is necessary, for you made but one mistake. It seems like many, but it is all the same. For though the ego takes many forms, it is always the same idea. What is not love is always fear, and nothing else.” T:15:X:4:1-5

“Sacrifice is so essential to your thought system that salvation apart from sacrifice means nothing to you. Your confusion of sacrifice and love is so profound that you cannot conceive of love without sacrifice. And it is this you must look upon; sacrifice is attack, not love. If you would accept but this one idea, your fear of love would vanish. Guilt cannot last when the idea of sacrifice has been removed. For if there is sacrifice, someone must pay and someone must get. And the only question that remains is how much is the price, and for getting what.” T:15:X:5:7-13 (emphasis added)

“Each form [the ego takes] will be recognized as but a cover for the one idea that hides behind them all; that love demands sacrifice, and is therefore inseparable from attack and fear. And that guilt is the price of love, which must be paid by fear.” T:15:X:6:7-8

“How fearful, then, has Goddess become to you, and how great a sacrifice do you believe Her Love demands! For total love would demand total sacrifice. And so the ego seems to demand less of you than Goddess, and of the two is judged as the lesser of two evils, one to be feared a little, perhaps, but the other to be destroyed.” T:15:X:7: 1-3

“Salvation is simple, being of Goddess, and therefore very easy to understand. Do not try to project it from you and see it outside yourself. In you are both the questions and the answer; the demand for sacrifice and the peace of Goddess.” T:15:X:9:6-8

“The sign of Christmas is a star, a light in darkness. See it not outside yourself, but shining in the Heaven within, and accept it as the sign the time of Christ has come. She comes demanding nothing. No sacrifice of any kind, of anyone, is asked by Her.” T:15:XI:2:1-4

“You who believe that sacrifice is love must learn that sacrifice is separation from love. For sacrifice brings guilt as surely as love brings peace. Guilt is the condition of sacrifice, as peace is the condition of the awareness of your relationship with Goddess.” T:15:XI:4:1-3

“As long as you perceive the body as your reality, so long will you perceive yourself as lonely and deprived. And so long will you also perceive yourself as a victim of sacrifice, justified in sacrificing others…. [W]ho could suffer sacrifice and loss without attempting to restore herself? Yet how could you accomplish this yourself, when the basis of your attempts is the belief in the reality of the deprivation? Deprivation breeds attack, being the belief that attack is justified. And as long as you would retain the deprivation, attack becomes salvation and sacrifice becomes love.” T:15:XI:5:1-2, 4-7

“So it is that, in all your seeking for love, you seek for sacrifice and find it. Yet you find not love. It is impossible to deny what love is and still recognize it.” T:15:XI:6:1-3

“In the holy instant the condition of love is met, for minds are joined without the body’s interference, and where there is communication there is peace. The Prince of Peace was born to re-establish the condition of love by teaching that communication remains unbroken even if the body is destroyed…. And if you understand this lesson, you will realize that to sacrifice the body is to sacrifice nothing, and communication, which must be of the mind, cannot be sacrifice. Where, then, is sacrifice? The lesson I was born to teach, and still would teach to all my sisters, is that sacrifice is nowhere and love is everywhere. For communication embraces everything, and in the peace it re-establishes, love comes of itself.” T:15:XI:7:1-6

“Let no despair darken the joy of Christmas, for the time of Christ is meaningless apart from joy. Let us join in celebrating peace by demanding no sacrifice of anyone, for so you offer me the love I offer you. What can be more joyous than to perceive we are deprived of nothing? Such is the message of the time of Christ…. For in the time of Christ communication is restored, and She joins us in the celebration of His Daughter’s creation.” _Id._:8:5

“This is the time in which a new year will soon be born from the time of Christ. I have perfect faith in you to do all that you would accomplish. Nothing will be lacking, and you will make complete and not destroy…. So will the year begin in joy and freedom. There is much to do, and we have been long delayed. Accept the holy instant as this year is born, and take your place, so long left unfulfilled, in the Great Awakening. Make this year different by making it all the same. And let all your relationships be made holy for you. This is our will. Amen.” T:15:XI:10:1-3, 8-14

Returning

It’s been more than two years, since I posted here. Much has happened in those years, much of it painful, not in the least because I largely abandoned my daily practice of study and meditation. As a result, I nearly forgot the truth of who I am: a loving Child of Goddess in whom She is well pleased. (T:4:I:8:6)

My favorite reminder of that truth comes from the Workbook for Students. Between Lessons 310 and 311, there is a short section titled “What is the Last Judgment?” Like many others, I feared God’s judgment (the use of “God,” instead of “Goddess” here is intentional, since it was a male God that I feared), because I knew, in the deepest, darkest part of my being, that I would be found wanting, that if anyone knew who I really was, they wouldn’t – indeed, couldn’t – love me, and it was love – and acceptance – that I so desperately sought to heal my heart. So, to read that this is “Goddess’ Final Judgment,” and, slowly, over the course of many days, weeks, months, even years, spent meditating on each phrase, begin to believe it, was – and still is – a profound revelation:

I am still Her holy Daughter, forever innocent, forever loving and forever loved, as limitless as my Creator, completely changeless and forever pure.*

I have begun to remember these truths over the last month or so as, out of pure desperation over the pain, fear and depression I have felt for so long, I have returned to daily study of the Course, combined with prayer, meditation and kirtan (singing the names of Goddess – more on that in another post). The peace that the Course brought me in the past began to return when I affirmed, to myself, my friends and the world, that “My goal is peace,” and to remind myself of that goal as I move through each day. Since then, my life has been transformed. After two dysfunctional living situations, I am now living with a dear friend in a beautiful home in the pines in Prescott where I feel safe and loved; indeed, where I feel home after just two short weeks. And, for the first time in years, I feel empowered to work, instead of blocked by procrastination, fear and shame.

So, thank you, Goddess, for guiding me back to the truth of who I am. And thanks to my new, loving friend, Khailitha, whose kind comments about my blogs this morning, brought me back here, inspired to write again about who I am and what I know to be the truth.

* I realize that these words are slightly changed from the original, but this is the way the words have come to me and proven most useful. For me, the Course works best when I personalize – when I internalize – the lessons it teaches.

Musings on the Ego

This morning, my friend Robin Rice posted this story on her Facebook page:

Before his death, the Baal Shem encouraged his students to find a new mentor. “How will we know who the right one is,” they asked him. “Ask the prospective teacher what you should do to deal with your egos. If he gives you tips on how to overcome your egos, leave him immediately. However, if he tells you that the only advice he can give you is to turn yourselves over to God, then you should take him as your teacher.”

This was the comment I left her:

Trying to overcome that which does not exist only reinforces the insanity of the illusion. We make the ego out of our fears; the ego disappears when we remind ourselves that we are the holy Children of Goddess. As Her Children, we already have and are everything because Goddess creates only like Herself. Thus, when the ego starts to rear her ugly head, ask yourself, “Has Goddess Herself changed her mind about me?” Then live your life in the knowledge of who, and what, you really are — Love, unconditional, unlimited Love.

This morning, one of my friends posted this this quote on Facebook:

There must be always remaining in every life some place for the singing of angels, some place for that which in itself is breathless and beautiful. -Howard Thurman

It immediately reminded of this passage from A Course in Miracles, which I want to share with you here:

Listen, –perhaps you catch a hint of an ancient state not quite forgotten; dim, perhaps, and yet not altogether unfamiliar, like a song whose name is long forgotten; and the circumstances in which you heard [it] completely unremembered. Not the whole song has stayed with you, but just a little wisp of melody, attached not to a person or a place or anything particular. But you remember, from just this little part, how lovely was the song, how wonderful the setting where you heard it, and how you loved those who were there and listened with you.

The notes are nothing. Yet you have kept them with you, not for themselves, but as a soft reminder of what would make you weep if you remembered how dear it was to you. You could remember, yet you are afraid, believing you would lose the world you learned since then. And yet you know that nothing in the world you learned is half so dear as this. Listen, and see if you remember an ancient song you knew so long ago and held more dear than any melody you taught yourself to cherish since.

Beyond the body, beyond the sun and stars, past everything you see and yet somehow familiar, is an arc of golden light that stretches as you look into a great and shining circle. And all the circle fills with light before your eyes. The edges of the circle disappear, and what is in it is no longer contained at all. The light expands and covers everything, extending to infinity forever shining and with no break or limit anywhere. Within it everything is joined in perfect continuity. Nor is it possible to imagine that anything could be outside, for there is nowhere that this light is not.

This is the vision of the Daughter of Goddess, whom you know well. Here is the sight of her who knows her Mother. Here is the memory of what you are; a part of this, with all of it within, and joined to all as surely as all is joined in you. Accept the vision that can show you this, and not the body. You know the ancient song, and know it well. Nothing will ever be as dear to you as is this ancient hymn the Daughter of Goddess sings to her Mother still.

And now the blind can see, for that same song they sing in honor of their Creator gives praise to them as well. The blindness that they made will not withstand the memory of this song. And they will look upon the vision of the Daughter of Goddess, remembering who she is they sing of. What is a miracle but this remembering? And who is there in whom this memory lies not? The light in one awakens it in all. And when you see it in your sister, you are remembering for everyone.

(T:21:I:6-10.)  Song and singing have become a vital part of my life and my spiritual practice, whether I am singing only in my thoughts, aloud in the car as I drive along or in gatherings in churches and other places where people go to be reminded of the truth of who they are.

Thank you, Goddess, for the gift of song.

Loving Kindness

Recently, a long time friend and I were talking and he mentioned a book that has helped him cope with the uncertainty of life, to accept – even cherish – that place of not knowing.  A couple days later, much to my surprise and delight, a copy of that book – Comfortable with Uncertainty:  108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion by Pema Chödrön – arrived in the mail as a gift from him.  Since then, I have been reading one of its short sections with my readings from A Course in Miracles and meditation.   This is part of what I read this morning:

When we start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, we often think that somehow we’re going to improve, which is a subtle aggression against who we really are. . . .  But loving-kindness — maitri — toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything.  Maitri means that we can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness.  Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better.  It’s about befriending who we are already.

Comfortable with Uncertainty, p. 11 (emphasis added).  Befriending who we really are!  What a miracle to realize that, as I read in the Course this morning, absolutely nothing about me needs to change for me to be worthy of Goddess’ love, to be worthy of the love of another, to actually deserve a place in this world.  What a miracle to love myself without the burden of my past hanging over me.  I cried when I first read, “Goddess Herself is incomplete without me.”  (T:9:VIII:8:2)  Never before had I believed that I could be so worthy.  What healing has come from those words!  Thank you, Goddess, for your unending Love and all that you have taught me.

Namaste