Polishing the Stone

Yesterday I taught a drawing class by drawing a familiar object under dramatic lighting to reveal the curves and ins and outs, and talking about what I was doing and why. My morning meditation was filled with this kind of seeing, to which the name came for this post. I thought of counseling and giving astrology readings, and they follow the same process.

It’s an uncovering process, searching for the gold. My Virgo Moon is adept at gathering and organizing the details, and right now its resonant planet Mercury is transiting Virgo, highlighting these keen abilities. And, my Sagittarius Rising is always searching for meaning; always on the quest.

In Chapter 14 of the Text of A Course in Miracles, which our group ACIMSEPDX is studying now, the same simplifying and revealing process is being discussed. It is uncanny how all of these synchronicities are manifesting at once. The process is unfolding as it should. Now would be a good time to ask for a reading because it is happening all the time.

This photograph is of a landscape rock I saw in the parking lot at Paradise a couple of days ago, as we were preparing to leave Mt. Rainier and come back home.

For the Love

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything here. I left off with being vigilant only for God and His Kingdom, which meant handing my mind over to Jesus. I let go of a lot of things, but I retained a few practices that have been serving me well for some time. I have Scoliosis and have been doing http://www.somaticmovementcenter.com exercises for about three years, and I kept that up, as well as self-massage with Ayurvedic oils, which has solved my dry skin problem. And, in the last month, since moving to http://www.panorama.org, I’ve been lap-swimming every other day. So, I’m now doing the massage and scoliosis exercises on the days I don’t swim. I was encouraged to swim by 1) my own guidance, and 2) the book Deep Fitness by Philip Shepherd and Andrei Yakovenko. The research has proven that physical strength is the greatest determinant of overall well being for elders.

In May, my wife saw that interest rates were about to rise and decided to put our 1903 Portland house on the market a month earlier than we’d planned. Because we’ readied it for sale the previous fall and had lived in the basement BnB since then, there was little work to do before putting it on the market, and it sold in two days. So, we were able to move into our new home June 1st, opening day. We’ve worked hard all our lives, so living at Panorama is an incredible experience. Everything but housekeeping is done for us and the amenities are amazing. It’s a very laid back community of elders! We have a 250-seat auditorium/theatre that is just a 1/2 block from our home, and an aquatic/fitness center just another 1/4 block farther. We’re near the center of pretty much all the community events.

With help from my son and a friend, we packed a 16 x 8 x 8 ft Pod and shipped that off in mid-May, and then rented a 15 ft U-Haul for the rest, filling the middle with Karen’s potted plants. We drove up June 1st and unloaded the truck that afternoon so we could turn it in the next morning. The Pod arrived a week later and we had a week to unload that. So, we did everything ourselves, which is pretty unusual for folks here, but it felt great, just like it had to do so much of the rehab on our Portland house as we got it ready for sale. And, now we can just relax, and we’re letting that sink in.

I’m taking forgiveness to the next level: I’m eliminating contention from my life. Before I moved, I’d cut my ties to partisan groups and was only engaged with neutral/bipartisan not-for-profit organizations. But, since moving here, I’ve cut my ties to everything political and most organizations that are involved in conflict of any kind. The only ones I’m still involved with are doing remarkable, radical projects that are cooperative and non-conflictual, and I’m mostly supporting individuals whose work I admire and am learning from. I guess you could say, I’ve eliminated a lot of the shoulds that still had a bit of guilt at their foundations. And, I’ve become quite vigilant for critical thoughts directed at anyone, including myself. This is giving me a deeper feeling of relaxation in social situations than I’ve ever known before. I’m at peace with the way things are, and I know that matters more than anything else in this world.

I never understood this before. I thought non-partisan people were afraid to take a stand. You know, like they were tacitly supporting the status quo, despite its obvious faults, because they didn’t want to make waves or engage in unnecessary conflict. This is an especially big issue right now, as the world is deeply divided. But, I finally know and feel deeply how important it is to hold to the truth within and not take sides; to support each and every individual, in their spirit, without feeling compelled to support their chosen courses. I am here for the love, which is at the heart of everyone and everything.

Lessons Along the Way

It’s been a long time since I posted anything on my blog, and my last post declared change in the making.   We’re selling our house and that’s a major change, too. So, I thought I’d try and catch up on the last change first.

I began with the idea of making the body a neutral thing in my mind. Once I committed myself to the third step in the Holy Spirit’s curriculum, Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom, seeing the world as a dream, so to speak, became pretty easy. In other words, it became easier to see the ego and its tricks, without judgment, and to just reduce, reuse, and recycle them.

At first, I started asking Jesus should I do this or that, and following his answers. But, after eliminating some activities that had become part of my daily routine for good reasons, I soon found myself wanting to reuse them. So, I asked him if it would be okay if I did them, and he said yes. From this I understood that it might be easier to change my mind if I just let them go, especially if I were to become a vagabond, but I could continue those practices with discrimination and they needn’t be an impediment.

Having already let them go, I now have a lighter hold on them. Where they had become ritual, I no longer feel like I have to do them every day. Instead, I can ask what the day requires and act accordingly.

Another attachment I had to address was the thought I am a Teacher. Jesus advises us to teach what we are learning. But, in the Manual for Teachers, he makes it clear that we are to teach by example. He says that everyone is teaching what they are learning all the time. And, because we are all equal members of the Sonship, no one is better (or worse) than anyone else. Specialness is a ploy of the ego.

I became more involved in Course groups on Facebook. And I soon learned that I had tried to compromise the Course. The biggest stumbling block for most students is the idea that the world is not real. And we will try to revise the Course to keep the world over and over until we see it clearly with “the eyes of the Holy Spirit.” The Course gives us concepts like “true perception,” “the real world,” and “the happy dream” to describe the transformation of our experience in the world as we learn to practice forgiveness, but the ego invariably tempts us to make these concepts real, which is to say eternal. So, getting out there and expressing my views soon made me aware of my mistakes, for which I was grateful. This has only encouraged me to remain active and remember that I am a student.

I have also learned that there are many learning styles and even ones that seem to contradict my own are working for those that use them. Again, with forgiveness I am accepting and acknowledging their value, which enlarges my universe through the extension of love, which is our God-given nature.

All of this comes down to the importance of making a commitment and what my Teacher called “stepping out on faith.” When you find the truth and want to stand for it in the world, you step out on your word; you act in accordance with the truth, as you understand it. You will make mistakes and by them, you will expand your understanding. The only thing at risk is your ego, the self you made, and the truth is it isn’t real in a lasting sense, and you can make a better one, and keep on making better ones until you learn that you can completely forget the self you made and just let the Self we all are run the show completely.

Me and My Body

Sung to the tune of Me And My Shadow, it is interesting that the “me” in the song is obviously the body. But, as A Course in Miracles says,

God did not make the body, because it is destructible, and therefore not of the Kingdom. The body is the symbol of what you think you are. It is clearly a separation device, and therefore does not exist…(The Holy Spirit) always tells you that only the mind is real because only the mind can be shared. The body is separate, and therefore cannot be a part of you. To be of one mind is meaningful, but to be one body is meaningless. By the laws of mind, then, the body is meaningless

ACIM T-6.V.A.2.1-3 & 3.2-5

So, the “me” in this post is what Ken Wapnick calls the Decision-Maker, aka the soul. Like everyone else on Earth, I soon learned the dual nature of physical manifestation, that pain follows pleasure. The first dramatic lesson came when I was ten years old and caught polio in the public swimming pool, a year before the vaccine came out. While I had a mild case, it restricted my athletic ability, which gave me emotional pain, and as the body aged, the resulting Scoliosis has given me physical pain.

Addressing the Law of Karma, my spiritual Teacher taught that personal responsibility begins at age ten. Prior to that, whatever befell us was our parents’ responsibility. So, I figured the polio had been an effect of a prior miscreation of mine and by accepting that limitation I had cleared the way for the spiritual progress I was realizing in this life.

In the section of Chapter 2 in the Course entitled Cause and Effect, Jesus says that fear comes from thoughts, and “The fearful must miscreate, because they misperceive creation (and) When you miscreate you are in pain (ACIM, T-2.VII.3:8-9).” So, our thoughts create and thoughts based on false premises miscreate, which causes pain.

In the Introduction to the Text of ACIM, Jesus says, “The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite,” and sums up the Course with “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.” Thus, fear is a miscreation, is unreal and does not exist. And it follows that pain is also unreal and does not exist. In fact, one could extend a bit further and realize that this body and hence, the world, are also unreal and do not exist.

Be that as it may, my situation is such that I do feel pain, which means I experience myself as a body subject to misperception, fear and miscreation. And, as my life progressed beyond my Teacher’s lifetime, I became embroiled in the confusion of this world like everyone else. I made the world real in my mind, sought my own personal advantage, believed in the dream of separation, and enlisted in magic to solve my “problems.”

All who believe in separation have a basic fear of retaliation and abandonment. They believe in attack and rejection, so that is what they perceive and teach and learn. These insane ideas are clearly the result of dissociation and projection. What you teach you are, but it is quite apparent that you can teach wrongly, and can therefore teach yourself wrong.

ACIM, T-6.V-B.1:1-4

Perceiving myself as having been abandoned, I adopted Mantak Chia’s Taoist Secrets of Love, without abandoning my belief in separation. The resulting sex addiction simply increased the pain from the Scoliosis. Every addiction follows the same pattern of cause and effect. The ego’s mantra of sin, guilt and fear, based on the separation idea, reinforces the addictive behavior, whether the addiction is to substances or processes (like codependence or sex).

Fear is always a sign of strain, arising whenever what you want conflicts with what you do. ²This situation arises in two ways: First, you can choose to do conflicting things, either simultaneously or successively. ³This produces conflicted behavior, which is intolerable to you because the part of the mind that wants to do something else is outraged. ⁴Second, you can behave as you think you should, but without entirely wanting to do so. ⁵This produces consistent behavior, but entails great strain. ⁶In both cases, the mind and the behavior are out of accord, resulting in a situation in which you are doing what you do not wholly want to do. ⁷This arouses a sense of coercion that usually produces rage, and projection is likely to follow. ⁸Whenever there is fear, it is because you have not made up your mind. ⁹Your mind is therefore split, and your behavior inevitably becomes erratic. ¹⁰Correcting at the behavioral level can shift the error from the first to the second type, but will not obliterate the fear.

ACIM, T-2.VI.5:1-10

In seeking to diminish the pain from the Scoliosis, I found the Somatic Movement Center and a series of exercises that increased my subtle awareness, giving me conscious control over the autonomic nervous system and reprogramming the muscles that have distorted the skeletal structure of my body. But, I found that my addictive behavior reinforced the old muscle tensions, interfering with the healing process. Therefore, I have to give up the fear-based addiction. “³No one who learns from experience that one choice brings peace and joy while another brings chaos and disaster needs additional convincing (ACIM, T-4.VI.3:3).” I must “Be vigilant only for God and His Kingdom (ACIM, T-6.V-C.2:8)”.

The Holy Spirit calls you both to remember and to forget. ²You have chosen to be in a state of opposition in which opposites are possible. ³As a result, there are choices you must make. ⁴In the holy state the will is free, so that its creative power is unlimited and choice is meaningless. ⁵Freedom to choose is the same power as freedom to create, but its application is different. ⁶Choosing depends on a split mind. ⁷The Holy Spirit is one way of choosing. ⁸God did not leave His children comfortless, even though they chose to leave Him. ⁹The voice they put in their minds was not the Voice for His Will, for which the Holy Spirit speaks.

ACIM, T-5.II.6:1-9

Stand In the Light of Christ

I was interviewed this week by Wanako Oberhuber of The Holy Spirit’s Curriculum of Joy Podcast. As Wanako describes it, “We hear how Michael started his awakening and the journey through the priesthood to A Course In Miracles. There are so many take aways you will enjoy applying to your own lives.”

I talked about the things I learned from experience in an amazing non-denominational, non-sectarian, religious order that ordained both men and women to the priesthood and allowed priests and brothers and sisters to marry and raise families, and performed many miracles on a daily basis.

I also spoke about the pain of separation I felt when the order gradually disintegrated into religious orthodoxy, and the challenge of reentering the world and dropping that religious identity to pursue a worldly vocation. I talked about my search for spiritual connection and the places I found it: Western Sufism, Tibetan Buddhism, Sanatana Dharma and, finally, A Course in Miracles.

I shared my healing from a painful divorce, my self-therapy, and my second awakening to the Self Within; and, healing the aging body from Scoliosis, the effect of childhood polio. I describe the Power of the Word, Devotion, and the importance of showing up in your life. The video is right here, and the podcast is here. I hope you enjoy it and find some inspiration thereby.

The Healing Power of Playfulness

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I got up at 3:50 AM on purpose this morning to watch a live podcast, hosted by Wanako Oberhuber of The Holy Spirit’s Curriculum of Joy. He was interviewing Vicki Thomas Poppe, whose husband Ted Poppe, Jr. recently went through transition. That lasted an hour and a half, and then I watched the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland.

It was a very unusual morning for me. I’m in the habit of transferring directly from the bed to my meditation chair, and after half an hour or so, giving myself an Ayurvedic oil massage, followed by an hour of somatic movement exercises while the oil soaks in, and then a shower and breakfast. And I don’t usually get up that early. So, today was really different!

I think breaking my routine every now and then is really good for me. It made me more present to what was happening right here and now. With a Virgo Moon, I’m a pattern-maker. But my Moon is square Uranus, the change-agent, and opposite my Mars in Pisces, the empath. And, of course, Vicki is a great speaker and knows A Course in Miracles very well. She’s been involved in a lot of its history. So, while she was speaking, I looked up some of the events she referred to.

Gary Renard and Dr. Ken Wapnick were involved and had things to say about those events, too. There was conflict and sides were taken and noted. Another of my main patterns is my Sun in Aries opposite my Neptune in Libra and square Saturn in Cancer. As they were my teachers of the Course, I’d taken their sides and still do. But, Ted was on the other side. He may have had a personality disorder during that time but, after his second awakening and getting back with Vicki, he made amends to 20,000 people and was a really amicable guy.

So, Vicki’s and Wanako’s conversation transformed into a discussion of playfulness, after she got him to talk about his Master’s thesis in Cultural Anthropology, in which he documented kite-flying and volleyball behaviors as a participant-observer on an Austrian island set aside for playfulness. Vicki noted the ever-present element of playfulness in her husband’s oppositional-defiant behavior, which seems to be a quality of the T-square that I have recognized as a participant-observer in my own life.

Although this behavior is often calculated to upset the symbols of the status quo, it often has the element of fun in it. The Yippies were an excellent example of this exposing the emperor has no clothes phenomenon among the governing elites. As we have seen, they usually fail to see the humor in the situation and often strike out blindly, like Nixon with his War on Drugs or Obama et al v. Julian Assange, etc.

My takeaway is that, whenever there is conflict in the world, the ego is involved–on both sides. To the ego, mistakes are really serious. They’re called sins, which trigger guilt, fear, and punishment. So, the ego leaves a blatantly obvious trail of tears in its wake. But, our split mind has another half, which is the Holy Spirit–the Memory of God. He sees right through the illusion and knows that errors are not real. His response: “Silly dream (gentle laughter),” which is our cue to forgiveness. And, the result is peace.

Let’s Put an End to War

Perception derives its meaning from relationships. Those you accept are the foundations of your beliefs. The separation is merely another term for a split mind. The ego is the symbol of separation, just as the Holy Spirit is the symbol of peace. What you perceive in others you are strengthening in yourself. You may let your mind misperceive, but the Holy Spirit lets your mind reinterpret its own misperceptions.

A Course in Miracles-Text, Chp 5, Sec III, P 9

If you look at world history, you will find war after war, injustice, theft, murder, rape, treachery, etc. This is the ego’s world, written by the victors, and based on separation, individuality, and specialness. It is a battleground–“one or the other” – “kill or be killed.” All of us are the inheritors of this insane world. It is in our genetic makeup and none of us has not been raised on the idea that error is real (serious) with the resulting belief in sin-guilt-fear and scarcity. As long as we perceive such a world we will be complicit in its cause, whether our bodies are in the fray or not, because our bodies are neutral and cause is in the mind.

We may find this idea reprehensible and judge ourselves as only the ego knows how. Most likely, though, we will repress the thought of our own sin, guilt and fear, and project it out onto socially sanctioned perpetrators, victims of our special need to be right, and socially acceptable. And, this is the cycle that perpetuates the ego’s world: choosing sides, victims of our wrath, vilifying and punishing them, sowing the seeds for the next crime until it feels like we are all prisoners in a merciless world that will destroy us all in the end.

The other half our spit mind, however, sees an entirely different relationship in which we are all One. In the Holy Spirit’s vision error is not real and we have never left Our Source. The memory of God is still in our minds, even though “the ego does not recognize it. The Holy Spirit recognizes it perfectly because it is His Own dwelling place; the place in the mind where He is at home. You are at home there, too, because it is a place of peace, and peace is of God. You who are part of God are not at home except in His peace. If peace is eternal, you are at home only in eternity (T-5.III.10.4-8).”

The Holy Spirit is God’s Answer to the separation idea. Although we could never have really left God, when we imagined that we had, God placed His Memory in our split mind so that, when we awakened from the “silly dream” of separation, we could choose Him as our teacher and find our way back to God. The foundation for the “real world” is the Atonement, which is the realization that we have never left our Source. With that foundation, the world is transformed into a “happy dream”.

You might wonder how we can escape the ego’s nightmarish prison for the Holy Spirit’s “real world.” Our belief in space and time is deeply embedded in our psyche, but it is held fast by our addiction to the ego’s thought system of sin, guilt and fear. When we choose the Holy Spirit as our teacher, the world become a classroom in which we replace all of that with the recognition that scarcity is a silly dream in a rea world of abundance.

Instead of all that judgment and condemnation, the Holy Spirit (or Jesus) tells us that our only function is forgiveness. He asks us to be vigilant in our minds for separation thoughts, and to look at each one with Him. Realizing that we are each a part of God’s One Son and have no meaning apart from God, we learn to hold each thought of sin, guilt and fear in the Light of Christ and watch it disappear.

These thoughts have feelings and I hold them in my Heart until they are gone. By doing this I accept responsibility for the fact that they are in my mind, know I am determined to be rid of them, and feel them until they are gone and peace returns to my mind. Sometimes, they return–because I think them again. And, I take them into my Heart and feel them until they’re gone. If it’s a really persistent belief, it will take awhile. I once had anger that was so persistent that it took a month until the bottom dropped out and “I” fell into a deep sadness.

The sadness was completely irrational, but I didn’t have to tie it to a story and strengthen it in my mind. All I had to do was look at it with the Holy Spirit. So, I continued the practice with the sadness, just holding it in my Heart awareness until it went away. Finally, after three weeks of persistent application, the sadness dropped out and I fell into the Heart of Love. I knew instantly that it was the Self, our true Identity.

Forgiveness is the Way Home. But, we first have to recognize that the cause of our pain and suffering is in our own minds. We have to stop judging and condemning others, with the understanding that there really are no others, no separation, and the ego and its world is just an illusion. No one that appears to be outside us is responsible for any thoughts in our minds. As we learned in kindergarten (hopefully) we have to mind our own business (MYOB), and that business is to forgive the thoughts of separation in our minds.

Then, I guarantee you, your mind will be healed, you will have true perception (vision), your relationships will be holy, and your dream will be happy. It’s called the Atonement, and that is how we put an end to war.

I AM the Light of the World

Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid (Matthew 5:14).” He confirmed this in his 20th Century correction, A Course in Miracles

I have assured you that the Mind that decided for me is also in you, and that you can let it change you just as it changed me. ²This Mind is unequivocal, because it hears only one Voice and answers in only one way. ³You are the light of the world with me. ⁴Rest does not come from sleeping but from waking. ⁵The Holy Spirit is the Call to awaken and be glad. ⁶The world is very tired, because it is the idea of weariness. ⁷Our task is the joyous one of waking it to the Call for God. ⁸Everyone will answer the Call of the Holy Spirit, or the Sonship cannot be as One. ⁹What better vocation could there be for any part of the Kingdom than to restore it to the perfect integration that can make it whole? ¹⁰Hear only this through the Holy Spirit within you, and teach your brothers to listen as I am teaching you (ACIM, T-5.II.10:1-10, emph added).

Thus we can say, with him, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world (John 9:5 emph added).” Some things don’t change: we all are the light of the world. And, since our consciousness is individualized, each of us is the light of the world. You can say with me, “I AM the light of the world.” That is a fact.

When we left the “tired” world in the 60’s—“turned on, tuned in, and dropped out”—we brought part of the weary world with us. It wasn’t until we found the Order and got all the drugs—including the Mass Mind—out of our systems, that we really awakened and were glad. We answered the “Call of the Holy Spirit” and taught our brothers to listen as we were being taught so the Sonship could be as one.

Now we are the age of our Teacher when he founded the Order. Before he did, he’d been weary too. He entered an ashram to heal his mind and body because he knew that “rest does not come from sleeping but from waking.” He renewed himself by remembering Who he was. He followed his guidance and founded a little center on Market Street. We’ve all been called to reawaken, as he did, follow our guidance, and be the light of the world.

That doesn’t necessarily mean starting or joining a religious order or making any outward changes at all. The early church taught you should remain in the station you were in when you found the light; that was “the world” in which you were to be the light. When I remembered that I was never happier or more inspired than I was “doing my Father’s business” in the Order, I aspired to recapture that spirit.

For a long time I thought it would be so much easier to be the light when living in a community that was filled with the Holy Spirit, like the Order was. And, I joined a number of them. But, I found that the “Jesus Way” was my way; it had been planted inside me, it is what I AM: the light of the world.

Then, A Course in Miracles filled in the blanks for me: Everyone is the Christ. The world is my community. Everyone is my sister, my brother. The Kingdom of Heaven is within me. Now, however I am led is my service. It is not up to me to decide or define what I do. It is up to me to listen and follow. Even if it appears I am doing nothing, I know whether I am “in the spirit” or not. And, being in the spirit, I am fulfilling my part in God’s plan for salvation. I am one with the Sonship.

We can know we are the light wherever we are.

Launching This Blog

It feels really great to have finally launched my blog! I’ve started a few over the years, but didn’t have enough inspiration to keep it going. And, for being more of a mystic than a technician, that side of things has always seemed pretty daunting. Although I have a quick mind and see things whole and instantaneously, it feels like I’m a slow learner. So, I work until I’m stumped, and then, when I come back, I miraculously know how to move ahead. It’s the perseverance that counts and that’s where the strong, visionary inspiration is really needed.

Last night, my first ACIM study group had its last meeting. My friend Jim, who introduced me to Gary Renard (The Disappearance of the Universe), started the group with me, and took me on my first backpacking trip here in Oregon, read the last paragraph of our fourth and final time through the Text together. We’ve built some strong bonds through this practice, over 15 years.

Before we got started reading the rest of Chapter 31, I showed them the blog and talked about my vision for making it; how I got it from the Course and my time in the order. With Neptune in the house of Community opposing my Sun in the house of creativity, I’ve always been driven to share what I’m learning and build community that way. And, Neptune is really devotional, so I needed someone or ideal to devote myself to. In the order, it was Jesus, through my Teacher. Now, it is you, my brothers and sisters, as manifestations of the Son of God.

And, Chapter 31 The Final Vision is all about that. Here’s just one paragraph from Section VII. The Savior’s Vision: “13. The savior’s vision is as innocent of what your brother is as it is free of any judgment made upon yourself. It sees no past in anyone at all. And thus it serves a wholly open mind, uncluded by old concepts, and prepared to look on only what the present holds. It cannot judge because it does not know. And recognizing this, it merely asks, ‘What is the meaning of what I behold?’ Then the answer is given. And the door held open for the face of Christ to shine upon the one who asks, in innocence, to see beyond the veil of old ideas and ancient concepts held so long and dear against the vision of the Christ in you.”

We were all amazed at the synchronicity between my vision for this blog and The Savior’s Vision. The Course teaches that “I am healed as I let Him teach me to heal.” Or, I am forgiven as I forgive my brother. Because all the apparent differences between us are illusory, superficial and untrue. Separate or together, we are God’s One Son.