Isn’t it true that there is only one ego, not “your ego” and “my ego”?

Q. I keep hearing students talk about “my ego,” as opposed to “your ego.” But isn’t that a mistake, because isn’t there only one ego?

A. I’ve heard people say that there is only one ego, but the Course itself does not talk that way. Rather, it talks in terms of individual egos. Note these passages, for instance, which all speak of “egos” plural:

He is concerned with the effect of his ego on other egos, and therefore interprets their interaction as a means of ego preservation. (T-4.I.6:5).

Everyone makes an ego or a self for himself, which is subject to enormous variation because of its instability. He also makes an ego for everyone else he perceives, which is equally variable. Their interaction is a process that alters both, because they were not made by or with the Unalterable. (T-4.II.2:1-3)

This is such a fearful state that it can only turn to other egos and try to unite with them in a feeble attempt at identification, or attack them in an equally feeble show of strength. (T-4.II.8:2)

As you can see based on these passages, each person really does have his or her own ego. We each make an ego for ourselves, as our fundamental concept of who we are. And these egos do differ. True, they are all made of the same material; they all share the same basic thought system. But they emphasize different aspects of that thought system and in different ratios. For instance, in the original dictation, Jesus often stressed the different shapes of Helen’s and Bill’s egos. He characterized Helen’s ego as strong but unstable, and Bill’s ego as more consistent but weak. As a result, he would recommend that they work on different things in order to overcome their egos.

You could say there is a smidgeon of truth in the idea of a collective ego, in that, as the Course says, “Egos do join together in temporary allegiance, but always for what each one can get separately” (T-6.V.A.5:9). So there are “ego collectives,” but they are unstable alliances of separate egos who are each seeking their separate gain, and are thus prone to disintegrate, to be “temporary.”

It is appropriate, therefore, to speak of “my ego” as opposed to “your ego.” The ego, after all, is the idea of separate selfhood. You’ve got yours and I’ve got mine. Each has a somewhat different shape, and understanding that special shape can help us choose the particular “medicines” that fit our ego’s particular problems. Another advantage of this idea is that, since we each made our egos individually, we can let them go individually. We don’t need to wait for anybody else.

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What is the relationship between the Course and the Bible?

Q. How do you see the relationship between the Course and the Bible?

A. This is a huge question, on which there can be a number of responsible and intelligent views. The main views I’m aware of are 3:

  1. Total (or near-total) harmony
  2. Total (or near-total) disharmony
  3. The Course as the third testament, the third installment of a progressive revelation

I personally don’t ascribe to any of these three views. As for the first, the Course is constantly engaged in correcting some of the fundamental currents in the Bible. As for the second, the Course constantly expresses too much agreement with and approval of the Bible.

My issue with the third is more complicated, so I’ll say a bit more about it, and in the process lay out my own belief. The third centers on a notion of progressive revelation, in which the New Testament revealed more of God’s true Will than the Old Testament, and in which the Course takes things to an even higher level. I, however, have a difficult time seeing things in terms as simple as that.

I do believe that in some way God was revealing Himself in the Old Testament, but I also believe that revelation was not most of what was going on. Rather, the revelation was like water leaking through the roof—the roof being normal human culture, along with its normal tendencies when it comes to religion.

I believe that Jesus then came along, offering a very different kind of religious impulse. I believe he took the best of Judaism—which really consisted of a loving, caring God who worked through those devoted to Him to make the earth into a reflection of His loving Will—and radicalized these themes, taking them to their logical extension. In his vision, God is only love—pure, unconditional love. And if we place ourselves under the waterfall of that love, so to speak, we can be immune to the assaults of the world and we can do miracles in the lives of others, ultimately bringing His kingdom to earth.

In its extreme nature, I think this vision was so different that even his own followers didn’t grasp it. And so once he left this earth, the roof closed up once again, and his vision became mixed in with more conventional and traditional religious sentiments. This means that the New Testament as written is shot through with themes that really represent distortions of Jesus’ vision, in which it is pulled back down to earth.

I therefore see a lot more alignment, on a very basic level, between Old and New Testaments than the progressive revelation theory would perhaps suggest, with both of them presenting a mix of a loving God and wrathful God, and with Jesus standing out like a diamond in the rough.

And I see the Course carrying forward not the mix of dark and light that we find in the Old and New Testaments, but the diamond that was his actual life and teachings—before they were recorded in the Gospels. The Course takes this diamond and expands it into a full-blown spiritual path, which includes an extensive and detailed spiritual teaching, and a specific and multifaceted spiritual practice.

In other words, rather than being the next logical step after the New Testament, I see the Course as an expansion of the diamond that stands in the blank space between them, and that stands in tremendous tension with both of them.

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Yesterday’s class on level confusion

I have had some requests for Mary Anne’s exercise, so I will include it here, and then below that I will have the summary of the class.

Mary Anne’s exercise

Start by seeing yourself as you usually do as you go about your daily life; that is, as a body in a physical world. See yourself with worries, cares, concerns, and fears about yourself: your body and health, your relationships, your work, your finances. [Pause] See yourself with political, social, and environmental concerns and fears about the world in which you see yourself living. [Pause] Note anything that is a particular concern for you at this time. [Pause]

How do you feel in this place, from the perspective of yourself as this body in this world? Do you not feel fear? [As Robert says in his handout for today’s lesson (274, “Today belongs to Love. Let me not fear”), fear is the human condition. As long as we see ourselves from the perspective of ourselves as bodies, we will live in “a chronic state of fear.”]

Notice how real and important all your concerns seem and what little effect the fact that you are a spiritual being, a holy Son of God, has on your perception of yourself. [Pause]

Recognizing the suffering this picture brings to you, remind yourself that there is an alternative––a real alternative. Tell yourself that, no matter how real all this seems, it is only an illusion. It is not real. Deep in your mind is the remembrance of reality, of the truth about yourself and where you really reside. This truth is what you want. It is your one goal. Be willing to let go of, to release, your current perspective and belief in its reality and be shown a different perspective, the true perspective.

You see yourself as contained in a seemingly big closed circle, fenced in by the body in the world, but you are spirit… a holy Son of God. No body can contain your spirit, nor impose on you a limit God created not (Lesson 114.1(97). You are safe in the big open circle of God and in His mind, in His heart of love. Call upon the Holy Spirit to bring you the miracle that will replace your current perspective with this new perspective. Say,

Holy Spirit, I ask You for the miracle that will shift my perception of myself from this false, physical perspective to the true, spiritual perspective.

 Ask sincerely and with confidence, and trust that He will answer your request.

Now, feel His action in your mind…

Feel yourself, your mind, being gently pulled out of this limiting, painful, fearful perspective of reality and drawn into the freedom and joy of the true perspective of reality. [Pause]

Feel yourself being gently pulled, as by a magnet, out of that seemingly big circle of the world and into the big circle of God, into His mind, into His heart of love.  [Pause]

This is where your true Identity resides; this is where you really belong. This is home.

This is all that is real; all that is important; all that is meaningful. All else is illusion.

Rest now in this place… feel yourself enveloped in God, surrounded by His love.

Rest here in peace, sure of your safety, certain of His care, and happily aware you are His Son. (Lesson 232.1:5) [Pause]

Now take a moment and look back on that picture of yourself as a body in the world, with all those worries and concerns.

See how, from this true perspective, all of that is small and meaningless, having no effect at all on you as you live and move in the big circle of God.

Know that from this perspective, you can live in the awareness of reality. From this place where you really are, where you are God’s Son, at peace and filled with joy in His heart of love, you can deal with the concerns of the world with grace and with ease.

Summary of the class

In yesterday’s class, I taught the first half, in which I presented a basic conceptual understanding of level confusion. This is found, I believe, in various passages in the original dictation of Chapter 1 of the Text, many of which were edited out, and others of which have lost their original context.

What we see in these passages is that the levels are spirit and body, or the spiritual and the physical. And we see that confusion mainly means assigning the attributes of one to the other. Primarily it means assigning the attributes of the spiritual to the physical. These attributes include communion, importance, truth, creation, identity, happiness, centrality, and communication.

In other words, all these attributes belong to the spiritual level. That’s where they are really found. Therefore, it’s on the spiritual level that we can find communion. That level is what is truly important. That level is what is true. That is where real creation takes place. That is where our identity really resides. That is where happiness is found. That is what is truly central. And that is where we can genuinely communicate.

However, we mistakenly apply all these attributes to the physical. So now we assume that the physical is what is true, important, and central. We think the physical is where our identity lies. We think the physical is where creation happens. And we think the physical is where we can find happiness, communication, and communion.

That is level confusion, and that confusion, you could say, is the foundation on which normal life rests. It is no small issue, no minor theoretical point; it is everywhere.

Mary Anne was kind enough to teach the second half of the class, which began with her leading us through an explanation of the diagram:

FINAL DIAG. 5

On the left side we have the physical level, the level of what we see with our senses. On the right, we have the spiritual level. Then on the top half, we have our current perspective on those two levels. And beneath that, on the bottom half, we have the new perspective the Course is guiding us into.

In our current perspective, what looms largest in our daily experience? It’s obviously the physical level. That big circle on the upper left is where we normally emotionally reside. That’s what we experience as our mental home. What we see and what we’re dealing with is that list inside the big circle. We are faced with difficult situations, hurtful events, problems, people mistreating us, as well as our own flaws, mistakes, and “sins.”

While we’re immersed in all that, how large does the spiritual level usually loom for us? Usually it’s either a tiny circle or a microscopic one. The spiritual level seems somewhere between barely relevant and nonexistent. Its effect on our emotional state is typically very small. That’s why the arrow is labeled “little effect.” It’s as if we are in a room full of problems, while the spiritual level is outside, like a fly bouncing off the window.

What the Course is telling us is that we have it exactly backward. The spiritual level is what really looms largest. It is actually endless, infinite, while the physical level is really both tiny and powerless. It can be our mental home. It can be our where we emotionally reside. And while we reside there, all those things that weighed on us in the physical level seem trivial and without effect. That’s why the arrow there is labeled “no effect.”

Finally, the miracle is what shifts us from the top perspective to the bottom perspective.

And to that end, Mary Anne finished by leading us through an exercise in which we first got in touch with our current perspective, which stems from level confusion, to the new perspective, in which we reside in the circle of God’s Love.

I hope you enjoyed the class, and a huge thanks to Mary Anne for leading us through the diagram and the exercise, and for having the idea for the class in the first place.

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Yesterday’s class on the essence of the Course’s practical process

UPDATE: OK, I’ve got the diagram now. I have inserted it here. To open it, click on the link below. If you want me to send it to you as a Word file, just email me (robert@circleofa.org).

Essence of practical process DIAGRAM

Here are the six points from yesterday’s class. I have changed their order slightly, in that what was #5, about choosing reality, has now become #3. It became clear to me that this order more accurately reflects how the Course seems to picture the process. I’m working on a diagram. I’ll let you know when it’s done.

 

  1. Be constantly aware of the two sides—reality and illusion

Nothing real can be threatened.

Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.

This is how A Course in Miracles begins. It makes a fundamental distinction between the real and the unreal; between knowledge and perception. (Preface)

  1. Hold in mind the goal of moving from one side to the other

Meaningful seeking is consciously undertaken, consciously organized and consciously directed. The goal must be formulated clearly and kept in mind. (T-4.V.5:3)

Do not let your mind forget this goal for long. (W-pI.126.11:2)

  1. Choose, remember, dwell on reality

Frequently remember, dwell on, and focus on reality and your desire for it.

This mainly takes the form of repeating meaningful statements, such as “I choose to see my brother’s sinlessness” (Lesson 335).

  1. Watch your mind for illusions

Be vigilant for the intrusion of the ego into your mind

Watch your mind for the temptations of the ego, and do not be deceived by it. (T-4.IV.6:1)

While you believe that two totally contradictory thought systems share truth, your need for vigilance is apparent. (T-7.VI.8:11)

Look on it calmly

 Let us, then, look upon them calmly, that we may look beyond them. (T‑23.II.1:4)

Look at it honestly

Watch carefully and see what it is you are really asking for. Be very honest with yourself in this, for we must hide nothing from each other. (T-4.III.8:1-2)

Look on it from the perspective of reality

For His answer is the reference point beyond illusions, from which you can look back on them and see them as insane. (T-13.III.12:9)

  1. Choose to let them go

Today we let no ego thoughts direct our words or actions. When such thoughts occur, we quietly step back and look at them, and then we let them go. (W-pI.254.2:1-2)

This mainly takes place through repeating statements that negate the illusion. For instance, “God did not create that war, and so it is not real” (W-pI.14.4.5).

  1. Express your new perception in your behavior

Miracles are expressions of love. (T-1.I.35:1)

 

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Thursday’s class on the practical implications of projection

Here are my notes from Thursday’s class. I would really like to keep this discussion going. So please let me know your thoughts.

Evidence for this view

Bias is such a massive factor in perception. We know that bias plays havoc with our view of the world. Projection is just a form of this bias.

Our self-perception is so central to us. It makes sense that my self-perception would color everything. It makes sense that I would use my perception of everyone and everything to burnish my self-perception.

The “evil” will does exist in us. We see it at work in others and in the world. Normal people are capable of both ordinary viciousness and extraordinary brutality.

In rare moments we have windows onto the fact that we have a massive amount of guilt in us. Why don’t we see it all the time? Where does it go?

If such an “evil” will did exist in us, we would of course do everything we could to deny it, see it not in us. Have you ever tried to get someone to take responsibility for something irresponsible or destructive in their actions or personality? This is usually met with ferocious denials—and projection.

The first form of this projection—seeing the “evil” will existing out there—we can catch in the act to some degree. When blamed, the impulse to deflect the blame somewhere else is almost irresistible. We also can feel the pleasure in identifying the bad guys, in condemning those “worthy” of it—we feel more innocent and righteous ourselves.

The second form of this projection—seeing the “evil” will acting on us from out there—is something we can definitely catch in the act. Think about someone who is chronically late. Clearly, they just don’t value being on time, but then they ascribe their actions to outside circumstances. There’s also the scenario in Review III in the Workbook, where we just don’t want to give the time to our practice periods, but then attribute this to “a cloak of situations…that you establish to uphold a camouflage for your unwillingness.”

We fit the profile. Our macro-perception of reality is that we see ourselves as a good self in a bad world, yet this perception—which is already highly suspect—is exactly what we would expect if we were utilizing projection.

What is so valuable about this idea

It is an extremely reasonable explanation; it doesn’t require us to turn off our brains like “you spot it, you got it.”

It gives us a believable explanation for how our perception can be so off. And that gives us room to change our perceptions. Only if our perceptions are off do we have room to change them.

It therefore opens up the realistic possibility that people as they really are, the world as it really is, could be something entirely different.

This gives us motivation to change. If we have enclosed ourselves in a very depressing bubble, closing ourselves off from the real world, which the Course tells us is joyful beyond belief, then who wouldn’t want to get out?

Practical implications

How can we apply this?

1.     Understand the concept.

2.     Seriously consider that it applies to you.

3.     See the potential it has for your release.

4.     Find ways to apply it, practice it.

Here are some thoughts for carrying out 2 and 3:

Consider that all the “bad” you see as existing out there is the projection of the “bad” in you.

Consider that all the “bad” you see as acting on you from out there is also the projection of the “bad” in you, which is really acting on you from the inside.

Consider that everywhere you look, therefore, you just see the grimy film of your own “evil” will.

That means you are not seeing the world as it is.

A global bias is distorting everything you see, blinding you to what’s really there.

You’re trapped in this bubble of your own false perception.

If you could see the world for what it is, it would be indescribably beautiful.

You would just love everyone, without reservation, and would love yourself.

Wouldn’t you want to see it?

Statements to practice

Choose someone to say each statement to. You can at times say them to the world as a whole.

I never hate you for your sins, but only for my own.

I will forgive you for my sins, and I will be forgiven indeed.

Projection always sees my will in you. If I will to separate myself from God, that is what I will think you are doing to me.

The ultimate purpose of projection is always to get rid of guilt.

I lift my projections of guilt from you, and recognize it is not you who is hurting me.

I see in you all that I have not forgiven in myself, and am thus given another chance to look at it, open it to re-evaluation and forgive it.

You are the screen for the projection of my sins, enabling me to let them go.

Only in you can I forgive myself, for I have called you guilty of my sins, and in you must my innocence now be found.

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Quick summary of last two classes

he following is a quick summary of both of our recent classes:

ATTITUDES TOWARD OUR BROTHERS

Appreciation

I give you the appreciation that God accords you always,

because you are His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased

Blessing

When you act insanely, you are offering me an opportunity to bless you

I need the blessing I can offer you.

Faith

I have faith in you as God’s Son

because I recognize that you are wholly worthy of it,

and in my appreciation of your worth I cannot doubt your holiness

Gratitude

I am grateful to God for what He created, and so I am grateful to you.

I am grateful for both your loving thoughts and your appeals for help,

for both bring love into my awareness if I perceive them truly.

Honor

Only honor is a fitting gift for you whom God Himself created worthy of honor, and whom He honors.

Non-judgment

I have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting you totally without judgment.

Open-mindedness

Father, I wait with open mind today, to hear Your Judgment of the Son You love.

Patience

My patience with you is my patience with myself.

Is not a child of God worth patience?

Praise

By affirming your perfection, I praise your Creator.

God offers praise to me, and I must offer it to you.

Trust

Trusting you is essential to my ability to have faith in myself.

BEHAVIORAL DISPOSITIONS TOWARD OUR BROTHERS

Courtesy

As a child of God, you are fully worthy of complete courtesy.

Defenselessness

My defenselessness is strength.

When you seem to attack me, I choose Christ’s strength in me.

In my defenselessness my safety lies.

Devotion

Devotion to you cannot set me back. It can only lead to mutual progress.

The result of genuine devotion to you is inspiration, the opposite of fatigue.

Gentleness

I touch you with the gentle hands of forgiveness.

I gently lead you out of the desert and into my little garden.

Generosity

I give you what is mine in true generosity, and thus protect it forever for myself.

Harmlessness

To be wholly helpful to you, I must also be wholly harmless.

Healing

Healing is my only form of communication to you.

I release you from your past.

Helpfulness

I am here only to be truly helpful.

Nothing in the world is holier than helping you when you ask for help.

Honesty

As your holy brother, what can I tell you except the truth?

Kindness

Without anxiety my mind is wholly kind to you.

* * * * * *

It occurred to me that all of these terms put together are a definition of love.

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Yesterday’s class: behavioral dispositions toward our brothers

Here are the dispositions I discussed in yesterday’s class, along with the Course quotes I read and commented on. I’d love to hear any further reactions, questions, comments about this material, especially the qualities that struck you the most or felt the most relevant for you personally. I’ll start a separate post in the next couple of days that will present this list and the list from the previous class.

Courtesy

You were wrong to be pleased with Bill F’s criticism of Rose, and should not have enjoyed Bill F’s description of Zanvell’s caricaturing of her. You could have laughed with Bill, but not at Rose. Real courtesy never does this. You should know that all God’s children are fully worthy of complete courtesy. You should never join with one at the expense of another.

When you called Bill about joining you, Gene, and Ann at lunch, you should have waited to ask me. In fact, you should not even have told Ann that you would call. Then you could have asked him first if he would want to come, and called Ann back. It is true that it was better that he came, but this has nothing to do with the real issue. There are ways of treating others in which only consistent courtesy, even in very little things, is offered. It is a very healing habit to acquire.

Defenselessness

If I defend myself I am attacked. But in defenselessness I will be strong, and I will learn what my defenses hide. (W-pI.135.22)

Defenselessness is strength. It testifies to recognition of the Christ in you. Perhaps you will recall the text maintains that choice is always made between Christ’s strength and your own weakness, seen apart from Him. Defenselessness can never be attacked, because it recognizes strength so great attack is folly, or a silly game a tired child might play, when he becomes too sleepy to remember what he wants. (W-pI.153.6)

Devotion

You were both wise and devoted (two words which are literally interchangeable in the sense that they truly bring on the exchange of one another) in claiming your scribal functions and working so late. You had committed a serious error against your brother, and one who had asked for your help. A devoted Priestess does not do this.

The Bible says you should go with a brother twice as far as he asks. It certainly does not suggest that you set him back on his journey. Devotion to a brother cannot set you back either. It can only lead to mutual progress. The result of genuine devotion is inspiration, a word which, properly understood, is the opposite of fatigue. (original version of T-4.In.1)

Generosity

To the world, generosity means “giving away” in the sense of “giving up.” To the teachers of God, it means giving away in order to keep. This has been emphasized throughout the text and the workbook, but it is perhaps more alien to the thinking of the world than many other ideas in our curriculum. Its greater strangeness lies merely in the obviousness of its reversal of the world’s thinking. In the clearest way possible, and at the simplest of levels, the word means the exact opposite to the teachers of God and to the world.

The teacher of God is generous out of Self interest. This does not refer, however, to the self of which the world speaks. The teacher of God does not want anything he cannot give away, because he realizes it would be valueless to him by definition. What would he want it for? He could only lose because of it. He could not gain. Therefore he does not seek what only he could keep, because that is a guarantee of loss. (M-4.VII)

Gentleness

Just as the Holy Spirit treats us with gentleness, so we are supposed to treat our brothers with the same gentleness. We are supposed to give them blessing in gentleness (T-14.IV.8:6), to gently correct their mistakes (T 22.IV.5:1), to gently lead them out of the desert and into our little garden (T-18.VIII.10:2), offer them gentleness (W-pI.108.8:8), cover them in gentleness (T-25.IV.3:5), touch them with the gentle hands of forgiveness (T‑19.IV(C). 2:5), and call to them gently to turn away from death and toward life (M-5.III.2:11). Our gentleness, however, must be genuine. It is not enough to put on a show of gentleness as a cover over attack (T-23.II.20:5, III.2:3).

To everyone I offer gentleness. (W‑pI.108. 8:8)

Harmlessness

Yet whether or not you recognize it now, you have agreed to cooperate in the effort to become both harmless and helpful, attributes that must go together. (T-4.II.5)

God is praised whenever any mind learns to be wholly helpful. This is impossible without being wholly harmless, because the two beliefs must coexist. (T‑4.VII. 8)

Healing

Healing is the one ability everyone can develop and must develop if he is to be healed. Healing is the Holy Spirit’s form of communication in this world, and the only one He accepts. (T-7.V.3)

Help and healing are the normal expressions of a mind that is working through the body, but not in it. (T-8.VII.11)

You have learned your need of healing. Would you bring anything else to the Sonship, recognizing your need of healing for yourself? (T-11.I.1)

Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing and help, regardless of the form it takes. (T-12.I.3)

As your function in Heaven is creation, so your function on earth is healing. (T-12.VII.4)

All healing is release from the past. (T-13.VIII.1)

Helpfulness

I am here only to be truly helpful. (T-2.V.A.18)

All therapy should do is try to place everyone involved in the right frame of mind to help one another. It is essentially a process of true courtesy, including courtesy to me. (original dictation)

God is praised whenever any mind learns to be wholly helpful….The truly helpful are invulnerable, because they are not protecting their egos and so nothing can hurt them. Their helpfulness is their praise of God, and He will return their praise of Him because they are like Him, and they can rejoice together….The truly helpful are God’s miracle workers, whom I direct until we are all united in the joy of the Kingdom. (T‑4.VII.8)

How often have I answered “Help him” when you have asked me to help you? (original dictation)

Helpfulness created me helpful. (W-pI.67.2)

Nothing in the world is holier than helping one who asks for help. And two come very close to God in this attempt, however limited, however lacking in sincerity. (P-2.V.4)

Honesty

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. (M-4.II.1)

Kindness

Without anxiety the mind is wholly kind, and because it extends beneficence it is beneficent. (T-6.III.3)

Before the glorious radiance of the Kingdom guilt melts away, and transformed into kindness will never more be what it was. (T-13.X.14)

The kindness of his sight rests on himself with all the tenderness it offers others. (T-25.VI.1)

Kindness created me kind. (W-pI.67.2)

No danger lurks in anything it [the mind at peace within itself] sees, for it is kind, and only kindness does it look upon. (W-pII.8.3)

…the body has been kindly used to help the Son of God along the way he goes to God. (S-3.II.2)

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Yesterday’s class on our attitude toward our brothers

Here is a list of the attitudes that I covered in yesterday’s class, their definitions, and the Course quotes that describe them.

Appreciate

To value or regard highly or admire greatly. To recognize the worth, importance, goodness, or magnitude of.

“Only one equal gift can be offered to the equal Sons of God, and that is full appreciation. Nothing more and nothing less. Without a range, order of difficulty is meaningless, and there must be no range in what you offer to your brother.” (T-6.V.A.4)

“Give them the appreciation God accords them always, because they are His beloved Sons in whom He is well pleased.” (T-7.VII.6)

“Only appreciation is an appropriate response to your brother.” (T-12.I.6)

“How could the Lord of Heaven not be glad if you appreciate His masterpiece [your brother]? What could He do but offer thanks to you who love His Son as He does?” (T-25.II.9)

Honor

To regard with great respect. To hold in honor or high respect; revere.

“It [innocence] can only honor other minds, because honor is the natural greeting of the truly loved to others who are like them.” (T-3.I.6)

“Give only honor to the Sons of the living God, and count yourself among them gladly.

“Only honor is a fitting gift for those whom God Himself created worthy of honor, and whom He honors….You cannot know your own perfection until you have honored all those who were created like you.” (T-7.VII.5-6)

“You are one Self with me, united with our Creator in this Self. I honor you because of What I am, and What He is, Who loves us both as One.” (W-pI.95.15)

“Today let me give honor to Your Son, for thus alone I find the way to You. Father, I lay no limits on the Son You love and You created limitless. The honor that I give to him is Yours, and what is Yours belongs to me as well.” (W-pI.280.2)

Gratitude

“the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”

“Your gratitude to your brother is the only gift I want. I will bring it to God for you, knowing that to know your brother is to know God. If you are grateful to your brother, you are grateful to God for what He created. Through your gratitude you come to know your brother, and one moment of real recognition makes everyone your brother because each of them is of your Father.” (T-4.VI.7)

“Gratitude is due him for both his loving thoughts and his appeals for help, for both are capable of bringing love into your awareness if you perceive them truly.” (T-12.I.6)

“Have you been similarly grateful to your brother? Have you consistently appreciated the good efforts, and overlooked mistakes? Or has your appreciation flickered and grown dim in what seemed to be the light of the mistakes?” (T-17.V.11)

“Heaven is the gift you owe your brother, the debt of gratitude you offer to the Son of God in thanks for what he is, and what his Father created him to be.” (T-19.IV.D.19)

“Thus does each one who seems to tempt you to be angry represent your savior from the prison house of death. And so you owe him thanks instead of pain.” (W-pI.192.9)

“Meanwhile he [the therapist] must learn, and his patients are the means sent to him for his learning. What could he be but grateful for them and to them? They come bearing God.” (P-3.I.4)

Faith

“Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.”

“In the holy instant we share our faith in God’s Son because we recognize, together, that he is wholly worthy of it, and in our appreciation of his worth we cannot doubt his holiness. And so we love him.” (T-15.VI.2)

“Have faith in your brother in what but seems to be a trying time.” (T-17.V.6)

“If you lack faith in anyone to fulfill, and perfectly, his part in any situation dedicated in advance to truth, your dedication is divided. And so you have been faithless to your brother, and used your faithlessness against him.” (T-17.VII.6)

“Yet think on this, and learn the cause of faithlessness: You think you hold against your brother what he has done to you. But what you really blame him for is what you did to him. It is not his past but yours you hold against him. And you lack faith in him because of what you were.” (T-17.VII.8)

Trust

To feel a firm reliance on a person’s essential goodness.

“Trusting your brothers is essential to establishing and holding up your faith in your ability to transcend doubt and lack of sure conviction in yourself.” (W-pI.181.1)

Blessing

“To bestow a wish on someone that they will experience the favor of God.”

“When a brother acts insanely, he is offering you an opportunity to bless him. His need is yours. You need the blessing you can offer him. (T-7.VII.2)

“Do not ask for blessings without blessing them, for only in this way can you learn how blessed you are.” (T-9.II.8)

“In every child of God His blessing lies, and in your blessing of the children of God is His blessing to you.” (T-12.VII.2)

“I bless you, brother, with the Love of God, which I would share with you. For I would learn the joyous lesson that there is no love but God’s and yours and mine and everyone’s.” (W-pI.127.12)

“The peace of God is shining in me now. Let all things shine upon me in that peace, And let me bless them with the light in me.” (W-pI.188.10)

“I would bless the world by looking on it through the eyes of Christ.” (W-pII.304.1)

Praise

To express warm approval or admiration of.

“Rehabilitation is an attitude of praising God as He Himself knows praise. He offers praise to you, and you must offer it to others.” (original dictation)

“Would He not make known to you His Love, if you but share His praise of what He loves? God cherishes creation as the perfect Father that He is. And so His joy is made complete when any part of Him joins in His praise, to share His joy.” (T-25.II.9)

Cherish, Hold dear

To hold or treat as dear; feel love for. To treat with affection and tenderness

“Father, Your Word is mine. And it is this that I would speak to all my brothers, who are given me to cherish as my own, as I am loved and blessed and saved by You.” (W-pII.276.2)

“And in our memory is the recall how dear our brothers are to us in truth.” (W-pI.139.11)

Open-mindedness

“Father, we wait with open mind today, to hear Your Judgment of the Son You love. We do not know him, and we cannot judge. And so we let Your Love decide what he whom You created as Your Son must be.” (W-pII.311.2)

Tribute, Love and Care, Deep Concern, Strong Protection, Identification

“All of the tribute you have given specialness belongs to him, and thus returns to you. All of the love and care, the strong protection, the thought by day and night, the deep concern, the powerful conviction this is you, belong to him. Nothing you gave to specialness but is his due. And nothing due him is not due to you.” (T-24.VII.2)

Exercise

I give you the appreciation that God accords you always,

because you are His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased

Only honor is a fitting gift for you whom God Himself created worthy of honor, and whom He honors

I am grateful to God for what He created, and so I am grateful to you.

I am grateful to you for both your loving thoughts and your appeals for help,

for both are capable of bringing love into my awareness if I perceive them truly.

I have faith in you as God’s Son because I recognize that you are wholly worthy of it,

and in my appreciation of your worth I cannot doubt your holiness.

When you act insanely, you are offering me an opportunity to bless you.

I need the blessing I can offer you.

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Thursday’s class: Is the deck stacked against us on our journey home?

In this class I was trying to capture a very large and multifaceted teaching that runs throughout the Course. The Course is fully aware that we see the spiritual journey as just too difficult. In our view, the Course asks too much of us. It doesn’t deliver on its promises. It wants us to give up our normal human pleasures, deny our natural impulses, sacrifice our best interests on behalf of a higher truth, all in order to seek a distant and uncertain reward. Further, the world seems to be giving us constant proof that the ego is the only reality. It seems to show us that only the ego’s reactions are justified. Therefore, we tend to travel very slowly on its path. It’s so much easier to just go with our natural impulses and pursue more attainable worldly goals.

This view seems to be a case of standing outside the process and simply observing what’s what. It seems to be an objective take on the journey. But according to the Course, it is anything but. Rather, it is a view of the journey that is produced by the very sickness we are trying to overcome.

The truth is that the Course is eminently doable. It asks very little of us,  especially in comparison to what our ego asks of us. The “natural” impulses it asks us to relinquish are a distortion of our truly natural impulses. Our real will wants only the things the Course is offering; only the things of God. And so all we are sacrificing is that which makes us suffer. And the Course’s promises are borne out in our experience when we do what it says. We just discount those results as not being as worthwhile to pursue as the ego’s gifts. Further, only the Course’s goals are achievable; the ego’s goals can never actually be reached.

Moreover, while the world may seem to offer proof that only the ego’s reactions are justified, the law of perception states that we will see as justified in the world whatever we want to cultivate in ourselves. If we want to love and forgive, we will a world in which only those reactions are justified. The world we see will facilitate whatever goal we truly hold.

In the end, the truth about the journey couldn’t be more opposite to what we tell ourselves. The Course asks little of us. It only asks that we give up what makes us suffer. No sacrifice at all is involved. As soon as we desire its goals, we will see only their justification in the world, and we will find that they are actually more, not less, attainable than our worldly goals.

I am just trying to capture some of the gist of a larger picture that I can’t yet see in its entirety. The basic point is that we’ve been seeing the journey all wrong. We all fight the journey. We all drag our heels. (The sooner we can catch ourselves doing that, the better.) But we make such slow progress because we see the journey from an incorrect perspective. If we saw it for what it really is, we would be channeling all our energies in its direction. All we are waiting for is for ourselves to say yes.

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Yesterday’s class on the treasure house

The treasure house in the Course is best understood as a contrast to a conventional treasure house. On the literal level, this is “a building, room, or chamber used as a storage place for valuables.” But more broadly, it is any place in which we store what is treasured by us—all the way from a safety deposit box, to a trophy room, to a photo album of special friends and family members, to the garage that houses our treasured car.

The treasure we store in the treasure house of the world consists of things of the world, things of the ego. They can be tangible, like money, possessions, or even special relationship partners. Or they can be intangible, like specialness. This treasure house is basically private—it is ours alone. We do our best to save, to hoard, to hold back from carelessly giving it all away. And we protect it from others walking off with what is rightfully ours.

This treasure house is absolutely haunted by fear of loss. Anything we value in the world we are going to be afraid of losing. So we lock the doors. We are careful who we trust. If we have the ability, we even station guards. In spite of this, the Course repeatedly pictures our treasure house with open doors, signifying the fact that it is literally impossible to keep them locked. No matter how hard we try, loss is always a possibility.

But the real problem is not loss. It’s that there is nothing there of value in the first place. In spite of all our hoarding, we only “stored a heap of snow that shone like silver.” And so our treasure house is pictured as empty and barren, and we who depend on it for our sustenance are pictured as starving.

The main themes of the world’s treasure house, therefore, are loss and emptiness.

Compare this with our real treasure house, which we will call the treasure house of God. This is not a place in the world, but a place in the mind, a place outside the conscious mind. It is not a place that we ourselves fill with valuables. Rather, God Himself has filled it with treasure. And therefore its store is not the meager quantity found in our earthly treasure houses. Rather, it is filled with an “unlimited supply.” And all of it “can be received but for the asking.” How completely different this is from the treasure house of the world!

The treasure in this house consists of the gifts of God. These are experiential gifts. They include Christ’s vision—seeing our brother’s holiness, experiencing our true Self, and all the peace, joy, and love that come along with right-mindedness.

We lay hold of these gifts through our Workbook practice. Every time you do a practice period, even if you think you felt nothing, “you lay another treasure in your growing store.” The goal of our practice, then, is to make the treasure house conscious, or, to put it another way, to consciously unite with it, to enter into our treasure house and make ourselves at home.

There is one more key component, though. Once we make the treasures conscious, we need to give them to our brothers in the form of miracles—expressions of love. Rather than depleting our treasure house, this will cause our store to grow. The Course pictures the brothers we have healed with our miracles streaming into our treasure house, bearing yet more treasures with which to fill it.

That is the process of the treasure house: receive the gifts from God, give them to our brothers, and thereby receive them even more fully. As the Course puts it, “There is no miracle you cannot give, for all are given you. Receive them now by opening the storehouse of your mind where they are laid, and giving them away.”

In contrast to the treasure house of the world, then, the real treasure house is communal, rather than private. Here, just as with the world’s treasury, the doors are open, but in this case they have been opened on purpose, so that our starving brothers can come in and “enjoy the feast of plenty set before them there.”

The treasure house of God is not haunted by loss. Instead, it’s just the opposite. The Course repeatedly stresses that “not one gift is lost, and only more are added.” “Not one is lost, for they can but increase.” And so it seems that we can give the miracle and it can be lost because the recipient didn’t accept or appreciate it, but the truth is that a treasure has been placed in store, waiting for the inevitable time when he will receive it. It can seem that the love that passes between others can diminish what we have, but in truth the gift is just as much ours as theirs, and so the love between them adds additional treasures to our store. It can seem that when we take a treasure from the store, the store has been depleted, but in fact it has been increased. It can seem that we can try to receive a gift of God and fail, but the truth is that whenever we try we add another gift to our treasury.

Therefore, the loss that pervades the worldly treasure house is unknown here. In the same way, the barrenness and emptiness of the world’s treasury is also not present. For the treasures of God are real, and they are unlimited.

In every way, then, the treasure house of God is the opposite of the treasure house of the world. The latter contains a small amount that we constantly fear losing, and in truth it is already empty. The former contains an unlimited abundance, not one bit of which can ever be lost. The world’s treasury is about hoarding, saving, and in the end, aloneness, while God’s treasury is about giving and about joining. Rather than us being alone in it, counting our gold, we join with our brothers there in a joyous feast, a feast “which has no end.”

This contrast between the two treasure houses places before us a choice: which one will we treasure? Which one will be our focus? Because every second we are seeking some kind of treasure, this choice is before us at all times. The two treasure houses are really two ways to live. Which one will we make our way of life?

This leads to the question I asked at the end of class: If we made our lives totally about the real treasure house, what would that look like? What would we do different? And what do we think the results would be?

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