Friday, February 13, 2015

Who I Am Determines What I Look For

Comments I received over the past several weeks indicate the difficulty many of you have in accepting that the world we see reflects only our perceptions of ourselves – and the fact that to change our perception of ourselves, we must first change our perception of the what we think we are seeing “out there.”
This is not a new idea – but we are not used to hearing it put quite in this way.
Consider this brief quote from the Jewish Talmud: “We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are.” Or this anonymous quote: “To see beauty in the world, look for beauty; to see ugliness, look for ugliness.”
If you feel irritable, for example, you’ll look and you’ll find ugliness in the world; if you feel content and harmonious with yourself, you’ll look and you will see harmony and beauty all around you; if you feel fearful, angry and apprehensive, you’ll look for the results of fear and anger and you’ll find it; if you feel at peace, you’ll look for the results of peace and serenity and you’ll find it.
A Course in Miracles (ACIM) states that we are to bless what we think we see. Old-timers in AA state that I am to pray for happiness and joy for those who vex me. If I am at peace I’ll look for peace and I’ll find others who are at peace or I’ll see those who are trying to control their world to achieve peace – and I will have compassion for them because I see that, as well, in myself.
In short: what I look for determines what I see; who I am determines what I look for.

I think this is the meaning behind Jesus’ statements that said: Those with ears, let them hear; those with eyes, let them see. From Mark 4: 10-12 (see also Matthew 13:10-15): [Jesus] replied [to the Twelve] “…To you the secret of the kingdom of God has been given; but to those who are outside everything comes by way of parables, so that (as Scripture says [Isaiah]) they may look and look, but see nothing; they may hear and hear, but understand nothing….” From Matthew 13: 16-17: “Happy are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear! Many prophets and saints, I tell you, desired to see what you now see, yet never saw it; to hear what you hear, yet never heard it.” From Mark 8:17-18: “Have you [disciples] no inkling yet? Do you still not understand? Are your minds closed? You have eyes: can you not see? You have ears: can you not hear?”
Jesus is not talking about the Twelve physically seeing and hearing Him where prophets and saints haven’t. He is talking about ACIM’s sense of Spiritual Vision as opposed to physical sight: Lesson 39 in ACIM’s Workbook for Students asks us to “… search out your unloving thoughts in whatever form they appear; uneasiness, depression, anger, worry, attack, insecurity and so on. Whatever form they take, they are unloving and therefore fearful. And so it is from them that you need to be saved…. It is imperative for your salvation that you see them differently. And it is your blessing on them that will save you and give you vision.” [W1, 39; 6:2-4; 7:2-3] 
I do not change my sight into vision as an act of my willpower. I begin changing how I think by blessing (and really meaning it!) rather than condemning, judging, or criticizing others – in short, not looking for the ugly. By doing this I will begin (with the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit) to see the world differently, then think differently, and then begin seeing myself differently. All this will “…save me and give me vision.” I’m not blessing folks because I’m doing them some kind of spiritual favor. I’m blessing them because that’s how I get better and – at the same time – how the Holy Spirit makes them better and makes our interactions holy.
Let me give you a few examples of how I have learned that this is true – at least for me. As mentioned earlier, in AA I learned that to eliminate a resentment that I am holding against others all I need to do is to pray for their happiness, joy and contentment. I had a departmental boss that treated all of us as simple resources to use up and throw away. He believed that was the way to get ahead in our corporation. I was number two in our department. It drove me nuts to listen to him rant and rave (and curse!) the staff and me. I was getting sober and beginning to enjoy some serenity in my life. I was told to pray for his happiness. I didn’t want to. “Then enjoy your unhappiness,” my sponsor would say. Finally, I prayed for this boss of mine. I can still remember my first prayer: “God, I hope you make the SOB happy and give him joy.” That’s the best I could do. I continued to pray for him every night for a month. My prayers slowly softened and by the end of the month I was no longer angry. I was saddened by his behavior – but my anger at him no longer controlled me. He, too, seemed to soften during that month. A miracle? Really?
There were some folks in my AA meetings that would drive me up a wall. My sponsor would tell me that there is a truth about him/her that is in me and that I am hiding from myself. “You mean to tell me that that bastard is simply reminding me of me?” “Yep,” he’d reply. God, I hated hearing that! But it always turned out to be the case. Perhaps there was something about them I admired, but was afraid to do or say. Perhaps there were emotions I had worked hard to hide and control, but they simply laid them out there. I was embarrassed to find myself acknowledging those feelings or angry that they seemed to suffer no consequences, as I had expected I would, when they openly exposed their feelings.
What I look for determines what I see, which determines who I am, which determines what I look for.
I hope this helps.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#3 February 2015

Copyright, 2015

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