Friday, March 30, 2012

More Course, 3, An Oldie, But a Goodie

From the Course: “Understand that you do not respond to anything directly but to your interpretation of it. Your interpretation thus becomes the justification for the response. That is why analyzing the motives of others is hazardous to you. If you decide that someone is really trying to attack you, you will respond as if he has actually done so,” overlooking the truth; and the truth is that how you see someone else, is how you see yourself. “There is but one interpretation of motivation that makes any sense…. Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing and help, regardless of the form it takes. Can anyone be justified in responding with anger to a brother’s plea for help? No response can be appropriate except the willingness to give it to him, for this and only this is what he is asking for.”

I get this; it resonates, deeply, I aspire to make it live in my life. Then someone cuts me off in traffic, or my wife asks a dumb question, or I hear the news and the Republicans are filibustering, again; or BP, with one of the worst safety records in the industry, is getting away with it again. I think someone’s got to pay, there have got to be consequences, punishment is good, send the Goldman people to solitary; so much for not responding with anger to a brother’s plea for help.

Yet the Course helps me know that when I become aware of how I’m interpreting events, how I’m feeling afraid and like a victim, I have to pause, not continue to justify my anger and ask Spirit’s help to see things differently, not from an angry place, as crimes needing punishment, but from a peaceful place as errors needing correction. It’s not that I let all these things go, it’s that I deal with it from a different place. I take responsibility for my interpretations, recognizing that they’re only interpretations and go from there. The horrible oil spill does need to be dealt with, but it’s best done in a way that is consistent with the Course’s idea, “Can anyone be justified in responding with anger to a brother’s plea for help? No response can be appropriate except the willingness to give it to
him, for this and only this is what he is asking for.”

Doing this is difficult at first, but the more I do it, the easier it becomes. We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same, Carlos Casteneda said. The great thing is, we don’t have to beg God/Spirit for It’s help, we don’t need to kneel, we don’t need to plead, we simply need to align with the God within and experience our lives transforming, one step at a time. It’s a process, like building muscle - spiritual muscle, it’s cumulative, each time we do it, we do it better.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

More Course, 2

So I read in the Course today: “Would you be hostage to the ego or host to God? You will accept only whom you invite. You are free to determine who shall be your guest, and how long he shall remain with you. Yet this is not real freedom, for it still depends on how you see it. The Holy Spirit [more on this later, but for now, the memory of God we took with us into the dream] although He cannot help you without your invitation. And the ego is nothing, whether you invite it in or not. Real freedom depends on welcoming reality, and of your guests only the Holy Spirit is real. Know, then, Who abides with you merely by recognizing what is there already, and do not be satisfied with imaginary comforters, for the Comforter of God is in you.”

“Would you be hostage to the ego or host to God?” No brainer, right? Except for the fear; the fear that God’s not really there; that even if It really is there, we’re not a part of It; we’re such terrible sinners, that God doesn’t love us and we’re totally unlovable because of all our wicked, nasty thoughts and deeds. That’s the ego talking. There’s only, either the ego or Spirit. If we’re feeling fear and guilt, we’re with the ego. Spirit holds no fear and guilt, so as part of Spirit, neither do we. Stop thinking with the ego and ask for Spirit’s help to shift to It.

“Only you can deprive yourself of anything. Do not oppose this realization, for it is truly the beginning of the dawn of light. Remember also that the denial of this simple fact takes many forms, and these you must learn to recognize and to oppose steadfastly, without exception. This is a crucial step in the reawakening [undoing]. The beginning phases of this reversal are often quite painful.”

Einstein said something similar when he said the most important question we can ask is, “Is the universe a friendly place?” The answer is, it is as we see it; we create our own heaven or hell. “Your life is not a problem to be solved, but a gift to be opened,” Wayne Muller wrote. The idea is not just that what we experience is up to us, but that God is for us, the universe IS a friendly place and our lives ARE a gift to be opened, when we step away from the ego and our habitual way of being and identify with the still small voice within that speaks for our spiritual reality.

“As ordinary people in a difficult world we are asked to take the common place activities that occur to us hour by hour, and to discover the spiritual [power] inherent in them” - Harry Moody.

We are this beautiful gift but must become aware of it in order to use it wisely, not to do so would be to dishonor God. As we open ourselves to our spiritual reality, and take on more of the powers inherent in and around us, we release any ideas of lack and limitation and realize that the only limits are those we set. The clearer we are about our relationship with Spirit, the more confident we will feel about our lives, because our life experiences are a reflection of our consciousness.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

More Course

Another great quote, this one from Ralph Waldo Emerson, says much the same thing as the Course does about the centrality of the undoing process – “Get your bloated nothingness out of the way of the divine circuits.” Don’t you love it? Doesn’t it resonate? Haven’t you experienced how well letting go can work for you? When we get our egos out of the way, not only do we feel much better, but creativity and other great things happen. Without the noise and static of the ego’s illusion, the still small voice - the reality of just plain being, the sense that we’re OK as we are, and don’t have to struggle and strive, can be heard.

This is practical stuff; it works, you can experience it. You don’t have to take someone’s word for it, or quote a ‘holy’ book, it’s not about being dogmatic, having faith in illogical beliefs like virgin birth, or trying to prove something. When you undo your investment in the ego’s illusions, including having to be right about the nature of God, when you stop the chatter and the bull and get centered, you’re open to input from the ‘divine circuits’.” This is so for everyone – Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic, atheist, Jew, fundamentalist, Hindu, whatever, the divinity is within each of us, whether we know it or not, accept it or not; each of us is a child of God, connected to divinity. We need to make space for this reality to emerge, to develop a personal relationship with the God/Reality beyond dogma and rules that is already there, inside, waiting for us, that each of us is a part of.

As Ernest Holmes has said, we don’t have to put this divine energy into ourselves and each other, it’s already there. We simply – and oh boy, it’s not so simple – have to remove the blocks to It’s flowing, blocks which we ourselves, our beliefs and culture, have put there. Undoing the blocks begins by acknowledging this situation – that divine energy is there, within each and every one of us, no exceptions, and that we tend to deny, block and barrier it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Course in Miracles

From time-to-time, I’ll be blogging about A Course in Miracles, which I have been taking for the last 22 years, and every once in awhile understand – no, that’s not fair, I understand a lot of it at an intellectual level and feel a deep resonance with almost all of it on the emotional and physical levels. I guess my ‘difficulty,’ my hesitation in saying I understand it, revolves around operationalizing it - living it on a daily, hourly, moment to moment basis. I’m not operationalizing it, experiencing it, as much as I’d like to, so it feels like I don’t understand it.

But I do understand it and am writing this to better operationalize the Course for myself, and to introduce new people to it by taking things from the Course that will resonate - make sense, seem intrinsically true and worthwhile, even without fully understanding the Course’s metaphysics. For example: “…we no longer tolerate the dishonesty of believing that our problems come from somewhere else [outside us]. Honesty does not apply only to what you say. The term actually means consistency. There is nothing you say that contradicts what you think or do; no thought opposes any other thought; no act belies your word; and no word lacks agreement with another. Such are the truly honest.”

Now to me, not only do those ideas about honesty and self-responsibility resonate, they are inspirational, and among my highest life-long aspirations. I want to share such ideas, hoping they will resonate with you, too. I think they are ideas whose time has come, that we need to operationalize now. To give these ideas more heft, my posts will include explanations of the Course’s metaphysics. Please keep in mind as you read my posts, that I am not an expert on the Course; I’m only sharing a lay person’s interpretations.

The Course says that it’s either God or the ego. God (that amorphous all-encompassing all-inclusive resonance of life, not Zeus nor the Zeus-like ‘Father’ of much Judeo-Christian dogma) or the ego. God is reality, the ego, illusion. Our experience is that either we’re with God or the ego. Our reality and the truth about us is we’re at peace, one with God, a part of God, dreaming that we’re separate from God (an impossibility), here in the world, and that if we think we’re here in the world – which I do and you do, then we’re with the ego in the illusion.

The ‘miracle’ in the Course’s title is our experience of awakening, with spiritual help, from the illusion of the world and experiencing our reality as part of God. When that happens, which it does often, it feels like a miracle. The experience of awakening and the ability to awaken – to perform ‘miracles,’ resides in the mind of every human being; it’s available to everyone; no special rituals, initiations or training required. The miracle occurs each time we’re able to experience, to know at a very deep level, our reality, our oneness with God; to experience and understand that God did not create the world, is not watching us nor keeping score and the duality that we experience here – the good and evil, the love and hate, pain and bliss, are not of God, but of the ego.

The world arose when the ego offered the tiny mad idea that we could separate ourselves from God, that our reality, our true bliss as undifferentiated parts of infinite oneness was too boring and not enough for us, that something more was needed, and we accepted that idea. The world arose from a decision we, not God, made to accept that tiny mad idea. But in truth, nothing could change our reality and oneness, so we are asleep with God, dreaming we are here. Just as when you had a bad dream as a child and your parents were in the next room, knowing you were safe in your bed, so God knows we are safe and with It. It was our choice for the ego, a decision made in our minds to dream, that we, with spiritual help, must undo. That is what the Course teaches, how to get the spiritual help, undo the decision we made and awaken to our reality. Honesty and self-responsibility are part of the undoing process.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Finding the Light by Analyzing the Darkness

Here’s something from an older post that I need to remember now as I get hung-up on the spread of Stand Your Ground laws and the mentality behind that, the inane Republican political campaigns and the failure of the President to live up to his promise.

You can not find the light by analyzing the darkness. What manifests is what we place our intention and focus upon. The pop idea, deep in our psyches, that suffering evokes evolution, is as ineffective and perverse as the idea that violence can bring peace, or lack can manifest plenty. It’s time to stop justifying pain and suffering as a necessary ‘evil;’ neither is necessary, nor evil. Until we come to that realization, it will continue to be easier to witness, experience and condone the unthinkable than it will be for us to enter the kingdom of truth. If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got. Doing the same things and expecting a different result is a good definition of insanity.

Friday, March 23, 2012

More Guns

More on guns from the Christian Science Monitor 3/12/12 issue by John Yemma: Since the last Supreme Court decision, “a slew of state laws have expanded access to firearms and the freedom to carry them in public.” This scares me, very much; makes me think violence and danger are increasing, and the ‘law,’ not only can’t stop it, but is enabling it.

Though he wasn’t speaking of guns, but of Bruce Springsteen’s new album, on Wednesday, Leonard Pitts said something that enhances this scary sense of out of control danger for me: “In a nation where corporations are people and fetuses are people, actual people could not catch a break, nor even much in the way of empathy. It is from the heart of this disconnection, this chasm between America that is and America that ought to be, that Springsteen issues his report.”

“In years to come,” Yemma says, “it appears there will be even more guns in more hands in more places than ever before. No one can say for sure if that will make society more, or less, safe.” Well, to me, given the flowering of anger and rage and extremism, it’s a no brainer – more guns equal less safety. “The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence argues that easy access to firearms is the reason almost 100,000 people are shot or killed in the US each year,” Yemma says.

Then goes on to say, “But do we blame the gun or the person?” Even Yemma does that silly, false moral equivalence that passes for good journalism – the over-simplified, wrong-headed ideal that there are only two sides to a story, both of equal validity, when in reality there are many sides, and stories are more complex than the so-called journalists want to or care to explain.

Hard to believe the same guy that wrote, “Guns have one purpose. They don’t cut rope, drive nails or propels baseballs. They are built to kill or maim,” also wrote,
“do we blame the gun or the person!” Duh!! The so called ‘objectivity’ inherent in the “do we blame the gun or the person,” statement is a huge part of the difficulties Americans are facing as a society.

Things are often very complex and grey and there are often no easy answers, but when there are easy answers and things are not so complex and grey, we need to say so. The easy access to guns is dangerous; just as the lack of civility is dangerous. Period! “With more and more citizens armed, and alienated,” Joy-Ann Reid wrote in yesterday’s Herald about the Trayvon Martin case, “the ordinary prejudices that sadly still afflict our society can become deadly.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


From the Christian Science Monitor 3/12/12 issue by John Yemma: “Guns have one purpose. They don’t cut rope, drive nails or propel baseballs. They are built to kill or maim. Firearms are central to almost every conflict, crime, uprising or peacekeeping mission. Governments use guns to maintain order. Rebels use them,” to create a new order.

“There are more guns per capita in the US than in any other nation. Some people like guns for hunting, target practice, and skeet shooting. If you have a gentle nature, though, you probably abhor firearms. Every time a confused young person opens fire at a school, a worker assaults co-workers, a stray bullet enters an inner-city home…every one of those violent acts is a powerful argument for locking guns away.

“If you believe in the right to self-defense and liberty, however, you probably see gun ownership as natural and just. Every assault, home invasion, robbery or hostage taking is a powerful argument that a lawfully armed citizen might have been able to stop the crime.

“The balance between public safety and individual freedom is not easy. From the Revolution through the settling of the frontier to the 21st century, guns have been embedded in the American experience. The Second Amendment to the Constitution appears to enshrine the right of individuals to own and carry firearms. In 2008 and 2010, the US Supreme Court issued landmark rulings that ensured possession of firearms for lawful purposes.” More tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Civility - More

Fully two-thirds of Americans believe incivility to be a major problem, according to the Christian Science Monitor’s 3/5/12 edition; and half expect it to become the norm. 72% of those questioned say they’ve tuned out politics because of the incivility there. 80% think it’s wrong to be uncivil, even in pursuit of an end they think is right. Studies show that after watching political fighting on cable TV, a person is less likely to talk politics with friends. Cool. So how come we get so much of it in the media? It wouldn’t be there if it weren’t profitable. Somebody must like it.

P.M. Forni, director of the Johns Hopkins University Civility Initiative says that many of the 1.8 million incidents of workplace violence that have been reported, many more go unreported, from a push to a shooting, often originate in incivility and a lack of respect and consideration for others. “When you are on the receiving end of an act of incivility, of a slight, ore when someone treats you rudely, in 40% of cases you will think about changing jobs, and in 13% people will change jobs,” Forni says.

The cover story of the 3/12/12 Monitor headlines, “Inside America’s gun culture.” Could the lack of civility contribute to the perceived need for weapons? The lead says, “For a complex blend of reasons – including concerns about safety and defiance of what’s seen as antigun pushiness – guns appear to be looming in the public consciousness and in the American political spotlight. As Patrik Jonsson reports, a combination of favorable court rulings, grass-roots activism and anxieties about government has led to what may be a tipping point on an issue that just a few years ago was one of America’s most contentious. Gun rights have expanded. Licensing is up. God bless America! Are you wearing your American flag pin?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Civility, Last

Leonard Pitts also touched on civility – tho indirectly – when he wrote about the contemporary Republican Party yesterday, making points similar to mine. “’Severely Conservative,’ Romney said. So ‘severe’ that Ronald Reagan wouldn’t know him. That’s because what now passes for conservatism is less an ideology than an excuse for [incivility] ideological rigidity, extreme language, shameless (indeed, proud) ignorance and situational ethics wherein the only thing that matters is victory and any tactic – fear, misogyny, bigotry, lies – is acceptable so long as it advances the goal.

“Spare me the false moral equivalence of noting that liberals are sometimes guilty of the same crimes. Duh. Of course they are. But the frequency and intensity on the left do not begin to compare with that of the right. The GOP has been so overrun by extremists that ‘moderate’ [and compromise are] now an epithet[s].”

So much for civility. Too bad. Because the term ‘civility’ is about much more than polite courtesies. Derived from Latin and Old French, ‘civility’ and means ‘good citizen.’ Civility enables us to live cooperatively and respectfully in communities – not armed camps, and is the glue that binds a society. Civility is an essential element of our humanity and human sustainability, enabling us to not only survive, but thrive.

Pitts and I agree that the GOP has no interest in civility. If civility is to return to the public square, the commons we share in our institutions, the media and face-to-face, you and I - we - will have to do it. It’s a one person, one transaction at a time thing.

We have to hold the practitioners and supporters of incivility accountable. We have to say no in everyway possible to those who drag our society down and profit from incivility. We also have to support the practitioners and supporters of civility. Means and ends must be compatible. We can not achieve a fair and just society by being unfair, unjust and uncivil.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


The AARP bulletin for March is the latest ‘main stream’ publication to bemoan the loss of civility in contemporary American society. Like most of the other media sources that comment on civility, the AARP bulletin, speaks as if the lack of civility was a general, societal problem with no one in particular at fault. I disagree with this point of view.

First, I agree that the lack of civility is a serious problem. I also agree that it is a widespread, societal problem that needs to be addressed at many levels. Where I disagree is that there is no one, or no group in particular at fault. We must call a spade a spade and identify one of the prime sources of incivility and thus one of the prime ways to address it and begin to eliminate it.

To me one of the prime sources of incivility and therefore one of the prime ways to address it and begin to eliminate it, is the rhetoric of the so-called ‘conservatives,’ t-party and extremist Republicans. Their name calling, personal attacks, lack of respect, especially for the President, gross distortions of fact, and out-and-out lying have rarely been equaled.

Of course the left and so-called ‘liberals’ distort facts and have biases. But who on the left is even close to Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the whole Fox News establishment? Wasn’t it the Republicans under the leadership of Newt (what kind of name is that, anyhow?) Gingrich that shut down the government 15 years ago and almost did it again last year? The Dems don’t do things like that (mostly ‘cause they’re wimps and are afflicted with blue dog-itis).

Which party is attacking women’s rights to contraception, shackling the state to the care of unwanted babies and dealing with their subsequent criminal behavior? Who speaks of honoring the Constitution, then fights against the separation of church and state - a separation that is not only about the freedom to practice one’s religion of choice, but to be free from religion, and not made to submit to unelected, undemocratic, theocratic ministers and traditions?

There’s so much more of this…. One last one: who would rather bomb Iran, in the name of their theocratic, evangelical support for the Second Coming and poorly camouflaged by the rhetoric of support for an ally, than criticize, the non-existent moral authority and hate-filled rhetoric of Rush Limbaugh?

The Republicans are not all bad of course, but lately they’ve been worse than bad. Their leadership in incivility is dangerous for civility which is, as the AARP bulletin said, “more than polite courtesies. Derived from the Old French and Latin term for ‘good citizen,’ civility enables us to live respectfully in communities, and is the glue that binds society. It is an essential component of our human sustainability, enabling us not only to survive, but thrive…. [it is about] treating others with respect, compassion, kindness and generosity.”

Haven’t we had enough incivility? It’s not just about polite courtesies. Can’t we say, ‘no’ to those who sponsor, preach and practice incivility? We can and we must! Vote the incivility out and don’t put it back in. Somehow, the oh so righteous incivility mongers always seem to get back in and when they’re in, they always seem to bring the incivility with them. Think Nixon, think Bush the second, think that Gerald Ford and Bush the first were the exceptions. Enough, already! Stop incivility now, please…!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What's the Economy For?

What is the economy for? A profound question, isn’t it? Is it to create ‘jobs’? What kind of jobs – minimum wage jobs? A single person much less a family can’t survive on that. Is it to create ‘profits’? In what form and for who – for the workers, the managers, the owners; as stock, bonuses, or increases in pay? Does the economy exist for everyone, so that everyone can have at least a minimally decent life, or does it exist for some more than others?

What is the economy for? Does it exist to provide a good, fair or poor quality of life?

How is one to participate in the economy – as a minimum wage laborer, professional, golden parachute manager or silver spoon owner?

Is one’s place in the economy earned or is it a matter of chance? Do the people without education, decent food and housing have the same chance to succeed as those with all the necessities?
Is the economy about opportunity or outcomes?

Do we want the economy to provide people, simply by virtue of their being born, minimum standards of nutrition, health, and employment? Or, as we do now, want the economy to deal with the crime, disease, corruption and lack of productivity that comes from the absence of minimum standards?

These are profound questions. In our current polarized ego dominated society they seem to be either/or choices – that the best we can do is equal opportunity, not equal outcomes, and even minimum standards for outcomes are beyond us. That people by virtue of their birth alone, even here in the greatest country on earth, are guaranteed nothing, not even the kind of true equal opportunity that would come from minimum quality of life standards.

Yet the truth is, with spirit, all things are possible. Instead of being about spirit or ego, either/or, win/lose, equal opportunity or minimum standard outcomes, it can be about both/and, win/win, both equal opportunities and minimum standard outcomes.

It doesn’t have to be about the primitive, competitive, dog-eat-dog, winner take all standards we employ now. There can be competition, but not vicious dog-eat-dog, winner take all standards we employ now. There can be compassion, joy, cooperation and community.

In fact, if you look at most of everyday life, compassion and cooperation are still the norm, tho fading fast. So what’s the economy for – either/or, or both/and? Believe it or not, it’s our choice.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Water and the Extreme Illusion of Abundance, Last

The combination of the illusion of abundant water and the lack of an ethic for water in America create a dangerous situation. By ‘ethic’ I mean the stewardship ideal. For example, if people could see how closely their children’s and grandchildren’s well-being is tied to the health of the land and water, personal ethics would drive them to cooperate not only on behalf of their families and communities but also for the natural world they inhabit.

We use four times the amount of water, per person, today, than we did in 1950. The lack of a water/environmental ethic plus the illusion of abundance, blind us to how our own back yard garden hose connects to the bigger picture. With a shared water ethic, we could live well, with much less water.

Also since 1950, the demand for water globally has more than tripled, the number of major dams worldwide going from 5,00 to 45,000.

Tho, 70% of our Earth’s surface is water, most of it, 97% is salt water. Much of the remaining 3% that is fresh is held in snow and glaciers, leaving about 1% available. Unabated pollution is reducing the purity of the invaluable 1%. While climate change is shrinking the glaciers and snow packs and contributing to long-term droughts, unseasonable floods and rising sea levels.

Human populations are burgeoning, so that by 2020, it is estimated that 35 nations will experience severe water shortages, while there is the same amount of water on our planet now as there was thousands of years ago. Now is the time to act. Lot’s can be done. Villagers in the small Chilean coastal town of Chungungo, working with Canadian engineers, have installed huge mesh nets in the mountain above the village to act like eucalyptus trees and catch coastal fog. The droplets are funneled into pipes that carry the water to the village.

Jerome Priscoli, senior adviser at the US Army Corps of Engineers Institute for Water Resources, adds that “The symbolic content of water as cleansing, healing, rebirth, and reconciliation can provide a powerful tool for cooperation and symbolic acts of reconciliations so necessary to conflict resolution in other areas of society…. Rekindling the sense of sacred water…is one way to facilitate the escalation of debate on water cooperation to higher levels and thus impact the capacity to reach cooperation and manage conflict.”

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Water and the Extreme Illusion of Abundance

Some thoughts on water by Cynthia Barnett in Blue Revolution excerpted in the Utne Reader.

We take water for granted in much of the USA, because we suffer from the extreme illusion of water abundance. But have no doubt, water abundance is an illusion and our profligate use of water today, and we are using it profligately, will endanger, not only ourselves, but future generations and the entire planet. There is simply no substitute for water. Unlike oil for which we can develop substitutes, water is the essential ingredient. When the water’s gone, life as we know it is gone.

To get an idea of the magnitude of the illusion, consider Lake Mead. Lake Mead is the reservoir behind the Hoover Dam that supplies water to millions of Americans, and for millions of acres of farmland. David Pierce and Tim Barnett at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography say there’s a 50-50 chance the lake will go dry – dry – by 2021! I’ve been there. The lake is huge; its more like a small inland sea than a lake. This is an amazing, horrifying prediction. But quite believable when you see the high water marks on the cliffs getting steadily lower.

Florida has so over-pumped its once abundant groundwater that the hundred-thousand-square-mile sponge known as the Floridan Aquifer, one of the most productive aquifers in the world, can no longer supply the state’s drinking-water needs.

Americans have become so profligate in our use of water and so mesmerized by the illusion of its abundance that the swimming pool, which used to be the sought after status symbol, then the diving board, has given way to pools with waterfalls, grottoes and swim-up bars. Americans guzzle about 410 billion gallons of water per day. That’s more than the entire flow of the entire Mississippi River.

But we need not be so profligate. We can do many things to conserve water. First and perhaps both easiest and most difficult is awakening from the illusion of water abundance. It’s not that we don’t have enough water. It’s that we don’t have enough water to waste. More about this in the next post.