Saturday, June 25, 2016

Do Rather Than Think

I have known many people in spiritual programs (such as meditation groups or A Course in Miracles (ACIM), e.g.) or in AA that focus their attention on understanding the intellectual concepts of a lesson, but never actually start trying to do anything differently. They understand the Twelve Steps, but never start them. They understand the importance of getting and using a sponsor, but never call them. They understand the importance of sharing honestly in a meeting, but always take a pass when they are called on to share. A corollary to the above AA adage is “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
We have a good friend who wanted to get in the stock market. We told her how we investigated market opportunities. She did that and came back with a list of potential companies and funds to invest in. We suggested she bounce that list off her financial advisor. She did, telling us “He said these were all very solid investments.” We were pleased for her. We ran into her several months later and asked her how the recent up-market was treating her investments. She said, “Well, I never really placed my order.”
This is sort of like the guy who announced: “I’ve belonged to a gym for the past 5 years and haven’t lost a pound. Apparently, I have to go and exercise.”
This message sounds like so much of a no-brainer, but it is amazing to me how often this happens – even to me still after almost 30 years of recovery: I don’t think myself into a new way of living; I live myself into a new way of thinking! I was viscerally reminded of this at our last ACIM meeting. We were reading the Introduction to the Workbook for Students. In that introduction the Course states (emphasis mine):
1 A theoretical foundation such as the text provides is necessary as a framework to make the exercises in this workbook meaningful. Yet it is doing the exercises that will make the goal of the course possible….
4 The purpose of the workbook is to train your mind in a systematic way to a different perception of everyone and everything in the world. The exercises are planned to help you generalize the lessons, so that you will understand that each of them is equally applicable to everyone and everything you see….
6 The only general rules to be observed throughout, then, are: First, that the exercises be practiced with great specificity, as will be indicated…. Second, be sure that you do not decide for yourself that there are some people, situations or things to which the ideas are inapplicable…. The very nature of true perception is that it has no limits. It is the opposite of the way you see now….
8 Some of the ideas the workbook presents you will find hard to believe, and others may seem to be quite startling. This does not matter…. You are not asked to judge them at all. You are asked only to use them….
9 Remember only this; you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. But do not allow yourself to make exceptions in applying the ideas the workbook contains, and whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them. Nothing more than that is required.
Simple. Straightforward. Clear.
“I really don’t want to be that disciplined,” I say. “I’m always inconsistent when doing things like this,” I think to myself. “I always seem to lose interest,” I comment to myself.  So I often conclude: “Oh well! Maybe I’ll start the Lessons next year.”
But the introduction is clear – Don’t think about the lessons. Don’t agree with them. Don’t argue with them. Don’t analyze them, looking for their hidden meanings. Just DO them!
Old-timers in AA told me: “Just refuse a drink today. Just go to a meeting and share honestly. Just get a sponsor and work the steps. Just say a daily prayer for sobriety and guidance in the morning and say a prayer of gratitude at bedtime. Do these simple things and your life will change. Trust us.” I did and it worked.
So, why do I still resist similar suggestions in ACIM? I know it has something to do with my fears. Exactly what it is will come to me when I’m ready and willing.
Thank God I’m still a work in progress.

#4 Jun 2016
Copyright 2016

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