I wrote these three articles for the Miracle Worker magazine:
1) Noticing the Ego
1) Noticing the Ego
A Course in Miracles is essentially a course in looking and noticing our choices for the ego. However, the looking must be gentle. This means looking without judgement. If we notice ourselves choosing the ego and judge ourselves for it, we are not doing what Jesus is asking us to do in the Course. We are still in the ego. Looking gently means looking with the teachings of Jesus from the Course beside us, and with its metaphysics not too far behind.
In the section, "The Dynamics of the Ego" in Chapter 11, Jesus says:
"No one can escape from illusions unless he looks at them, for not looking is the way they are protected. There is no need to shrink from illusions, for they cannot be dangerous. We are ready to look more closely at the ego's thought system because together we have the lamp that will dispel it, and since you realise you do not want it, you must be ready. The "dynamics" of the ego will be our lesson for a while, for we must look first at this to see beyond it, since you have made it real. We will undo this error quietly together, and then look beyond it to truth."
Noticing or looking at the ego gently is actually another way of describing true forgiveness. This is the lamp with which we can dispel illusions. True forgiveness, according the ACIM, could be seen as broken down into 3 simple steps.
In Lesson 23 it states that for all the illusions we perceive:
"First, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. The first two steps in this process require your cooperation. The final one does not. Your images have already been replaced. By taking the first two steps, you will see that this is so."
The cause (step 1), of course, is ourselves. The looking must therefore be with the awareness that whatever reactions we have towards someone or a situation, we are doing to ourselves.
In Lesson 70 it says:
"Salvation seems to come from anywhere except from you. So, too, does the source of guilt. You see neither guilt nor salvation as in your own mind and nowhere else. When you realize that all guilt is solely an invention of your mind, you also realize that guilt and salvation must be in the same place. In understanding this you are saved.
The seeming cost of accepting today's idea is this: It means that nothing outside yourself can save you; nothing outside yourself can give you peace. But it also means that nothing outside yourself can hurt you, or disturb your peace or upset you in any way. Today's idea places you in charge of the universe, where you belong because of what you are."
Also from the section, "The Hero of the Dream" in Chapter 27 it says:
"The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. No matter what the form of the attack, this still is true. Whoever takes the role of enemy and of attacker, still is this the truth. Whatever seems to be the cause of any pain and suffering you feel, this is still true." "This single lesson learned will set you free from suffering, whatever form it takes. I have done this thing, and it is this I would undo."
Part of this first step is also to realise that what we are doing to ourselves does not make us happy. It is only when we realize this will we be motivated to do something about it.
A kindly way of expressing this first step in the mind could be to say to ourselves: "Oops, there I go choosing anger (for example). Anger does not make me happy."
The second step is the letting go, or rather the willingness to let go. Knowing that we, as personalities, do not know what to replace the anger with, we need to hand it over to that part of the mind that does know - the right mind. The right mind is where the Holy Spirit abides and where the love is still shining.
The second step could be worded something like: "I am willing to see this differently", or "I am willing to see peace instead of this", or "Please help me see peace instead of this."
This really is what the term "giving it up" means. We give it up to the love that is shining in our right minds so that the third step (being replaced) can occur spontaneously. This is a shift from darkness to light or what Jesus calls the miracle.
This can be experienced in a number of ways. For example, we can experience a feeling of peace descending on us, or we suddenly see a whole new way of perceiving a person or situation, or we receive an inspired idea and we simply know what to do in the situation.
In the section, "Fear and Conflict" in Chapter 2 of the Text, it states that choosing fear, which really means choosing the ego, "always entails a willingness to be separate. At that level you can help it."
The looking, or forgiveness process, could therefore be generalized by now saying to ourselves: "Oops, there I go choosing separation in the form of anger/defense/attack etc. I am willing to see peace instead of this."
In the early stages of practising this process, it is probably a good idea to use all of these words, or similar, in our minds. Eventually, however, as it becomes more and more of a habit, we can gradually drop the words until it becomes simply a matter of catching ourselves in action. When we have practiced enough, it is like watching everything that arises in the mind neutrally, just like things floating by on a river and having no thoughts or reactions to them.
There are many things that can distract us from this looking and of course the ego loves that, That is its plan, and that is why much practice and vigilance is required.
Here is a list of some of the many ways we choose separation for which we can practise becoming vigilant:
* Projecting - seeing the guilt outside and not in us
* Acting the innocent victim
* Needing to be special, unique or different
* Defending / Attacking
* Inner arguing
* Analysing the self, the other or the situation
* Being busy busy busy
* Judging our blocks
* Feeling guilty for choosing separation in all its forms
* Being angry (including justified anger)
* Righteousness (needing to be right or wrong)
* Feeling unfairly treated / Feeling insulted
* Telling our victim stories
* Getting help from someone who confirms our victim stories
* Being a martyr
* Being jealous
* Feeling pleasure when we win or pain when we lose
* Thinking our blocks are real
* Being cathartic - acting out and not really feeling the feelings
* Trying to change the situation to avoid the feelings
* Leaving - avoiding - procrastinating
* Focusing on the past or future
* Using distractions
* Saving others
* Choosing numbness - shutting down - suppressing - forgetting
* Guru shopping - seeking the light outside
* Reading many books and watching videos but not doing the practice
* Being the good girl/boy
* Using affirmations to cover the darkness
2) Laughing all the way Home
I would like to share with you how I think Jesus in "A Course in Miracles" sees laughter as a vital aspect of the symphony of our journey home, and also some experiences I have had with laughter along the way.
In the introduction to ACIM, Jesus tells us that love is our natural inheritance - our natural state. In the following quote, it is implied that laughter is also part of our natural state, and that we are simply forgetting to laugh !
"Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects. Together, we can laugh them both away, and understand that time cannot intrude upon eternity. It is a joke to think that time can come to circumvent eternity, which means there is no time." (T-27.VIII.6)
The ego script is indeed a joke, not to be taken seriously. The separation from God is truly a joke since it never really happened.
The journey home, the unwinding of the ego mind, can actually be the funniest journey there is. If you look at most humour in the world from stand-up comedians to situation comedies, the jokes are all pointing to some aspect of the ego script. We find these jokes funny, I believe, because unconsciously we all know the ego is a joke and the laughter comes from a sense of relief since now we can look at it from above the battlefield.
For the past 28 years I have been practising and teaching Source Breathwork, which is a form of Rebirthing originally developed by Binnie Dansby. Studying "A Course in Miracles" was actually a part of the original breathwork training that I was on. ACIM and Rebirthing work together very well as the breathwork is a brilliant way of getting in touch with the blocked feelings that we have to release on the journey of awakening.
On many occasions, during a group rebirthing session, someone will start to laugh for no apparent reason. Of course laughter can be very catching and often several others will start laughing uncontrollably with this person. I believe this reveals to us that when we release our emotional blocks, our natural state of laughter comes to the surface. Interestingly, when I ask these people afterwards why they were laughing, they always reply that they have no idea why.
Laughter and tears can seem very similar, and they can even sound almost the same at times. During a rebirthing session people can be crying and then slip quite naturally into laughter when the crying release is complete and it can be difficult to tell the difference.
Jesus tells us in ACIM:
"He would have all tears be wiped away, with none remaining yet unshed, and none but waiting their appointed time to fall. For God has willed that laughter should replace each one, and that His Son be free again." (W-193)
I like to think of laughing at our crazy ego choices as a form of true forgiveness. Its like standing above the battlefield in our minds and finding a fun angle on the drama. Offering an ego situation up to the Holy Spirit and asking to see it differently could well lead to a very funny perception of the situation. Of course some people are more drawn to humour than others, but if humour is important to you, you might well have this kind of inspiration coming to you.
"I would behold the proof that what has been done through me has enabled love to replace fear, laughter to replace tears, and abundance to replace loss." (W-54)
I have noticed many small steps in my own journey. One that I have noticed quite recently is that if someone gets angry with me, instead of going into defence or attack, I notice a giggly feeling arising in my heart centre. This is a wonderful new feeling, and when it happens I feel quite at peace and do not take the anger personally.
Another variation on this theme happened the other day when I snapped angrily at my lady friend, Marianne, because I perceived I was not being heard. Instead of experiencing being the one that was being angry, it felt like I was standing above the body watching my body acting this out. At the same time I witnessed Marianne laughing at me, or rather at this body. It was a totally liberating moment and a few seconds later we were both laughing at the situation. It really felt like we had both taken the next step of our own journey at the same time.
The beauty of being with another on the same path, who also loves to laugh, is that even though we have chosen the ego voice many many times together, we have always been able to laugh about it afterwards. As we practise more and more, we notice that the time it takes to get to the fun gets shorter and shorter. We often milk a situation and tease and play around it until all the charge has been released from it.
Of course laughing at the ego can feel like a huge attack to the personality, and I feel that discernment is very important when using humour with another. If the other person is in too fearful a state, it would not be helpful and could increase their level of fear.
However, when we are ready, it is possible to stop taking the tiny mad idea seriously and laugh at it in all its forms - at all our fears, our guilt, our pain, our loss, our sickness, poverty and even death.
And finally from ACIM:
"The world will end in laughter, because it is a place of tears. Where there is laughter, who can longer weep?" (M-14.5)
I have made many videos of a one year course, entitled "A Journey to Inner Peace", that I am leading in Denmark and there are two very short videos among them that exemplify laughing at the tiny mad idea. Please see the links below.
Video 1 - "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" (1.5 minutes)
Video 2 - "The stories get shorter" (3.5 minutes)
3) The Game of Chess - A Battleground like any other
Chess can be seen as a wonderful example of the battleground of life. I play chess quite a lot and I find it very useful to help me unwind my mind.
Just picture the scene; two armies of chess pieces lined up on a chess board facing each other, ready for battle! Right from the start, it is a question of which army can conquer the other. That is the aim of the game !
As well as the two armies of chess men, there are two even more important pieces, or warriors in the game - the two players! For simplicity here, lets call them "me" and "you". We are now in a special relationship, a relationship of war! Does that remind you of most relationships? The special relationship is indeed the perfect battleground to wage the warsof the ego.
There is no giving and receiving in chess, only taking and quite literally when we take anothers chess piece in order to gain an advantage. The principle of "me or you" is fully played out in chess, as it is in most games. If the underlying principle of the ego is "me or you" (me or God), it is no wonder we love anything to do with winning or losing.
My job in chess is to strategically and cunningly get from you what I want. I will try and manipulate and trap you into positions where I can take your pieces and weaken your attack and defence system.
The most insane thing of all is that I can feel pleasure and satisfaction whenever I succeed in doing this. Then I will plan the next moves to entrap you further so I can get even more satisfaction. I have noticed that the need to win and the fear of losing is often in my mind. I can also feel angry and disappointed if I allow myself to be cornered and taken by you. Maybe if you were a player with less experience than I and you were putting yourself in a position where I could take your queen, for example, then I might be generous and say: "Are you sure you want to make that move?" If this was not truly coming from a loving space, then it would be a form of "people pleasing" in order to get something - maybe to ensure I get a feeling of superiority. I have even noticed when playing with my lady friend a kind of gloating hyena laugh that sometimes comes up for either of us when we finally check-mate the other.
It is interesting to see how we make our games and sports to reflect what we are doing in the world and in our relationships. We enjoy them because we allow ourselves to act out the ego script in a socially acceptable way and hide the ego script behind the facade of a game or sport. Look how we also enjoy watching action movies or thrillers, and even relationship movies where there is a lot of conflict going on. This is only because this is something we feel at home with - a reflection of what is going on in our unconscious minds.
Of course, none of this means we should not play games like chess. If we enjoy it, why not play? We can, however, change the purpose of the game from winning and losing and start to use it as a classroom where we watch and heal our minds.
As the Course says, the ego is itself a battleground which is projected out onto a world. The world then becomes a battleground whether it is in a game, a special relationship, two countries at war or even two plants competing for the nutrients in the soil. "The world was made as an attack on God" (Introduction to Lessons 241 - 250)
The world and the body was made as a huge distraction to keep us mindless of the one real problem - the choice for separation. The whole teaching in ACIM is training us to get back to our minds, or at least that part of the mind that chose separation in the first place - and is still choosing it. This part of the mind we can call the observer or decision maker or dreamer of the dream. Once we have trained ourselves to be the observer of our mind, then we have a real chance for awakening. Being the witness/observer of our minds is being above the battleground. We need to go about our life remembering that we are dreaming a dream, the content of which is untrue. We need to look gently at our insanity, understanding the ego purpose of the world and accepting it exactly the way it is. When we do this, we start to become "in the world but not of the world" which is another way of saying "being above the battleground".
Another interesting aspect of chess is in the hierarchy of differences. Each chess piece is given a different value and a different power to attack the other. This also reflects our vast array of differences we have in the ego world and especially within our class system.
Just talking about the game in this way is a form of raising ourselves above the battleground. What I am doing here, though, is only reflecting on some of the ego dynamics that I have spotted. To truly raise ourselves above the battleground of the game of chess, we need to start catching ourselves choosing the ego while our bodies and brains seem to be actually playing the game. If we can catch ourselves in action while playing a game, maybe we can start to catch ourselves in the game we call life.
It is most important that we observe and look at all our ego thoughts gently and without judgement. Looking gently this way is what the Course calls true forgiveness! Its another way of saying that we are looking with the Holy Spirit or Jesus and his teachings by our side (metaphorically).
As we do this journey of true forgiveness, of course we will get caught in the war, many many times before we awaken. Yet, as soon as we remember, we can step back and observe what we have just done or are still doing. Our job is to look gently at this mistake - not to try and stop it, change it or analyse it, but just to observe it gently. This is our part in allowing the miracle to occur in our minds. It could be called miracle readiness - being constantly vigilant for standing above the battlefield in our minds.
In order to do all this in our game of chess, it is helpful to set the intention that we will use it as a classroom before we start. It is not essential that we both do this as it is a one man practice, although it can add greatly to the fun if we do. The funniest game in town is actually laughing at the insanity of the ego script. Remember that Jesus tells us that the 'Son of God remembered not to laugh' when we chose the separation. Lets play chess and all our other life games with this intention of using them as our classroom!
As we practise true forgiveness, we take a journey that starts with us actually experiencing being in the battlefield, then in time we start catching our minds in action and watching it from above - but still seeing the war, then finally we will not see the war at all but only the love and calls for love from everyone. Now we are indeed overlooking the battleground, seeing that the battle is not real but just a silly game children play !
Have a look in ACIM at the section called 'Above the battleground' (T-23.5.4-5 )
Enjoy and blessings to you,