Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mental Catastrophes

His discussion of the mental equivalent was a good reminder of several things:
1) Truth is Truth. Regardless of whether I am studying Christian theology, Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, literature from Alcoholics Anonymous, New Thought material, or A Course in Miracles (ACIM), the same thoughts appear over and over, e.g., the Golden Rule (Do unto others …), and the power of our thoughts.
2) I can comprehend the common theme of how truly powerful our minds are. According to Fox, he saw this 3-D world as a mental world. The physical follows the mental. I can find this in Christianity, Buddhism, AA and ACIM. As I stated last week: “When I change the way I look at things, the things I look at change.”
This is simply Truth.
This is a rather short message because I have to be out of town for a week or so. There will be no message next week. As a result, I want to leave you with a thought I heard at an AA meeting last week. The speaker believed it was attributed to Mark Twain. The person shared:“These past few months have not been good for me. I’ve been beset by hundreds of catastrophes that were truly horrible – a few actually happened.”
We all belly-laughed. It was funny because we had all been there – done that – do that.  
Our minds create realities that are seemingly real, but Truth tells me love or acceptance is the only reality. My mind rarely creates only love and acceptance. It usually creates chaos, insecurity, anxiety, fear, and anger. What about you?

Don
#3 Aug 2016
Copyright 2016

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Why I Feel My Separateness

This past week I enjoyed breakfast with a member of AA’s Fellowship. We both have amassed a great deal of consecutive 365 days of sobriety. We enjoy speaking / thinking / discussing the more spiritual aspects of life. Somehow, after obligatory pleasantries, we ended up sharing our experiences with being surrounded – or engulfed – by Mother Nature. He was sharing experiences from hunting. I was sharing experiences from working in and around my wet-weather creek that runs through our property.
We both ended up recognizing that when we were awed by our witness of the complete interrelatedness of the natural world, we were also painfully aware that we were the “outsiders.” We were the ones that didn’t seem to “fit” in this interrelated world whose awesomeness we were witnessing.
We both had had these experiences. We both had found ourselves feeling like the “outsider.” Each time we had “felt” that way, it was a little discomforting. It felt good and bad at the same time. It felt peaceful and eerie at the same time. We were IN nature while being OUT of nature. It was a little weird.
After the breakfast I began to realize that what we both experienced was the nub of human existence, according to A Course in Miracles (ACIM), as well as to the theological interpretation of the biblical Genesis stories: We were in a paradise – we were an integral part of that paradise. Then things went very wrong.
  •           The biblical stories indicate we sinned and were cast out of paradise.
  •           ACIM states that we got too big for our britches and left our paradise.
  •           I believe when Jesus told the parable of the Prodigal Son, He was retelling the Genesis story. We left the comfort of Eden. We left the love of our Father. When we came back after squandering our inheritance, our Father didn’t castigate us or discipline us or punish us. There was no “price” to pay (other than what we had already inflicted on ourselves). He just joyously welcomed us Home. We had not “sinned.” We had erred. We had corrected our mistake and we were back. That’s all that mattered. It was time to celebrate.

Either way you choose to read it – we were no longer in a paradise. We were on our own and had separated ourselves from our paradise or Source. We had separated ourselves from each other because we came to believe we, in fact, WERE separate things.
As I said, that’s the nub of human existence – the problem – the struggle – the pain – the fear of being human. It  can all be summed up by acknowledging our feeling of being separate, both from the world as well as from each other. That’s why we cling to ideas and people who help make us feel a part of something that provides a little meaning to our lives.
That’s why AA has been so central to my life. That’s why ACIM has become so important to me. I first experienced true, honest acceptance in AA and it transformed me. The experiences I have had in AA, but could never thoroughly verbalize, showered my life with miracles – the vanishing of my compulsion to drink; the knowledge gained as to how to live my life with skills I had never understood nor experienced; the blessing of serenity from being “one of the herd” (or NOT feeling separate any more). ACIM, however, was putting words of Truth to the experiential faith I had received from experiencing AA’s Fellowship – words I had never been able to speak.
 Having experienced my life change and having understood the words verbalized in ACIM, I now know that I am not a body separate from you that somewhere inside has a “soul” that is eternal. I am an already-loved eternal spirit that is currently having a human experience. Believing I am a body separate from you and from nature has been an error on my part. I can change my mind and, with the Holy Spirit’s help, can change how I envision my world, which includes you.
As my perception of the “world out there” changes as a result of this realization, my world, itself, will change. 
As the adage states: “When I change the way I look at things, the things I look at change.” I have viscerally experienced the truth of that adage.

Don
#2 Aug 2016
Copyright 2016

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Serenity Prayer, My Ego, and Me

I simply didn’t know the difference between the things I could and couldn’t change and I was too embarrassed to ask and reveal my ignorance. I finally did ask, however. And am I glad I did.
I was told that I couldn’t change other people, places, or things. “What, then, does that leave you to focus on, Donnie?” I smiled and didn’t say anything, but I had nodded – in that knowing kind of way you nod, even though you still aren’t sure of the answer. My friend saw through that and continued to ask me, “I’m serious Don.  If you can’t change people, places or things, what does that leave you to focus on?”
“Myself.” I answered.
“Correct. Just remember: ‘If you’re not the problem, then there is no answer.’”
For those of you unfamiliar, I would like to continue with Niebuhr’s complete, but simple, prayer:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will, so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next.”  Amen
I am always my problem. It’s not that I believe I am that important. It’s just that dealing with myself is all I can handle. That is summed up in another of AA’s great little sayings: “Keep the focus on yourself – just for today. The rest of your life is none of your business.”
This is very, very similar to what I learn in A Course in Miracles (ACIM). Why then, oh why, do I find it so easy to understand what it is that you need to do to fix yourself? What you should correct about yourself? How you could improve, if only you would ….??
I think Tommy was absolutely correct when he was still alive. He died after about a year of sobriety. He died of cancer. He died sober. He would always introduce himself in meetings by saying: “Hi everyone. My name is Tommy. I’m addicted to alcohol and to anything and anyone that will enable me to keep my focus off of me.” Invariably, no matter how often we had heard him, we would all laugh. It was so funny, but it was also so true of all of us. And we knew it. But whenever it was said out loud in that straightforward kind of way, it sounded so ridiculous and so it was just plain funny.
Among other things, thinking about and composing these messages is one of the ways I keep my focus on me.

Don
#1 Aug 2016

Copyright 2016

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Political Conventions and Peacefulness

To maintain my sense of inner peace, calm and serenity, I ask the God of my understanding each morning to direct my thinking and then try to meditate. I then pray a gratitude prayer for another day of sobriety each evening.  When I am a little tense, as I was following the conventions, it is difficult for me to calm my mind in meditation.
At a recent Course in Miracles (ACIM) meeting I was reminded of the Course’s guide to meditation, It states in several places, primarily in the Wordbook for Students, step-by-step directions for meditating. One of the more straightforward discussions occurs in Lesson 189: I feel the Love of God within me now. [Italicized emphases are mine]
1 There is a light in you the world cannot perceive. And with its eyes you will not see this light, for you are blinded by the world. Yet you have eyes to see it. It is there for you to look upon. It was not placed in you to be kept hidden from your sight. This light is a reflection of the thought we practice now. To feel the Love of God within you is to see the world anew, shining in innocence, alive with hope, and blessed with perfect charity and love.
2 Who could feel fear in such a world as this? It welcomes you, rejoices that you came, and sings your praises as it keeps you safe from every form of danger and of pain. It offers you a warm and gentle home in which to stay a while. It blesses you throughout the day, and watches through the night as silent guardian of your holy sleep. It sees salvation in you, and protects the light in you, in which it sees its own. It offers you its flowers and its snow, in thankfulness for your benevolence.
3 This is the world the Love of God reveals. It is so different from the world you see through darkened eyes of malice and of fear, that one belies the other. Only one can be perceived at all. The other one is wholly meaningless. A world in which forgiveness shines on everything, and peace offers its gentle light to everyone, is inconceivable to those who see a world of hatred rising from attack, poised to avenge, to murder and destroy.
4 Yet is the world of hatred equally unseen and inconceivable to those who feel God's Love in them. Their world reflects the quietness and peace that shines in them; the gentleness and innocence they see surrounding them; the joy with which they look out from the endless wells of joy within. What they have felt in them they look upon, and see its sure reflection everywhere.
5 What would you see? The choice is given you. But learn and do not let your mind forget this law of seeing: You will look upon that which you feel within. If hatred finds a place within your heart, you will perceive a fearful world, held cruelly in death's sharp-pointed, bony fingers. If you feel the Love of God within you, you will look out on a world of mercy and of love.
6 Today we pass illusions, as we seek to reach to what is true in us, and feel its all-embracing tenderness, its Love which knows us perfect as itself, its sight which is the gift its Love bestows on us. We learn the way today. It is as sure as Love itself, to which it carries us. For its simplicity avoids the snares the foolish convolutions of the world's apparent reasoning but serve to hide.
7 Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. Hold onto nothing. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.
Trust me, I’m not a perfect meditator. But when I do this observing-of-my-human-self well, the time really speeds by. A 30-minute meditation will seem like it lasted only 5 minutes. Otherwise a 30-minute meditation seems to last an hour.
As I’ve stated before, “I have to understand, on a visceral level, who the “Me” or “I” really is when I am speaking or thinking. The “I” that says to myself, “I really need a newer, more reliable car” is a different “I” than the one that says to my Holy Spirit, “I can’t do this anymore; help me perceive things the way You see them.”

Don
#1 Aug 2016

Copyright 2016