Miracles as Expressions of Timelessness

“There is no order of difficulty in miracles.
One is not “harder” or “bigger” than another. They are all the same.
All expressions of love are maximal.”

I won’t share from A Course in Miracles every day, but I’m simply pulled toward this for now. Although I find many lines and exercises in The Course strange, others resonate immediately, like the quote above, and also:

  • Miracles as such do not matter. The only thing that matters is their Source, Which is far beyond evaluation
  • Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle. (snip)
  • Miracles are a kind of exchange. Like all expressions of love, which are always miraculous in the true sense, the exchange reverses the physical laws. They bring more love both to the giver and the receiver.
    [Full list is on Wikipedia]
  • The miracle is a learning device that lessens the need for time. It establishes an out-of-pattern time interval not under the usual laws of time. In this sense it is timeless.
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High Point, North Carolina

To this list I will add from my own experience:

  • Miracles are like dreams. They have no origin as such. They unpack forward and backward, open on all sides. This is why The Course describes them as expressions of timelessness.
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Holy Triangle

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“Take the work seriously, and your self not seriously at all.”
– Judy Dench as quoted by Alan Rickman

I have decided to study The Course in Miracles for 2017. Actually, I’ve been studying it for a few months already, on the heels of working through The Universe Has Your Back.

To be honest, the all-positive, Law of Attraction ‘motivational coach voice’ of some materials has been a stumbling block for me, as well as ACIM’s overtly solely Christian metaphors. But, it can also be helpful at the right time, perhaps like the one I’m in… when pulled to be more outward and receptive.

The best of The Course reminds me of Abhidharma, which is a Buddhist mind training system for learning to see through the solidity of appearances by way of less personal attachment.  ACIM’s exercises are unusual and koan-like, but more bothersome; the 16 ACIM exercises I’ve tried so far, have been uncomfortable in a different way.

Actually, let’s face it. I’m seriously resistant to them, but also fascinated by the avenues the exploration is opening, rituals that feel comforting and playful — the most recent being a symbol of the Brazilian John of the Cross community. I haven’t learned how to work with this, but did enjoy making it this weekend, decorating with fun but meaningful embellishments.

holy-triangle      My “holy triangle”

Although most I saw in a quick scan of images online were very plain, I invested childlike wonder in the process.

My favorite line of Gabby Bernstein’s The Universe Has Your Back (which came from A Course in Miracles) is, “When you think you’ve surrendered, surrender more.” Which comes down to the heart longing of “Not my way but Yours”, with that ‘Yours’ in the language of ACIM being God, or in Gabby’s book Universe (or God interchangeably). For another it might be Inner Self, or Flying Spaghetti MonsterI like simply, Life, but Holy Spirit is also nice, folding back in the innocent faith of my youth.

All I’ve studied over the course of decades leads me feel that we’ve been moving toward non-dualistic ways of thinking for quite some time, away from stark good vs. evil contrasts, leaving a third way open. However, the phrase middle way is sometimes taken to mean a compromise, which I think is farther away from the mark than the transcendent notion of a play dynamic. In ACIM, it is a dynamic Three as recognized in the three-fold visions of most traditions (Buddha Dharma Sangha, Father Son Holy Spirit, etc).

Peaceful Revolution

Finished a book today, titled Peaceful Revolution.

This is a book I’ve had on my Kindle for well over a year, purchased in a thrill of finding Paul K. Chappell on social media after years of lightly asking around, something like, “Well, he’s a soldier with an interesting multiracial background, had a talk on Book TV after the Iraq War, focusing on peace, but not in a hippy dippy way?” I’d done a few searches and couldn’t remember his full name, instead coming up with someone else. So I’d, once in a while, remember to send out a searchlight again.

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I’ve been surprised that more in my circle aren’t familiar with him, when his voice on matters of peace, in the world and in ourselves, seems so unique and needed.  It was a YouTube shared on Facebook, from a friend from Hungary, living in South Africa, who I met in a virtual world, that finally gave me the missing piece. All I’d needed was the K!

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Is this even true anymore?

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There are matters one whittles away at for such long periods of time that the process moves into the background, taking shape in the form of ongoing light trance.

Our minds are complex and amazing; a million times in a row, relinquishing anxieties to trust for a clearer way to emerge, works just fine, miraculously even. Unless, the looping goes on so long without follow through as to become automatic, unexamined.  Then, like a withdrawal from the bank for a gym one doesn’t go to, one can miss the crucial next step in the process and get trapped on a surface level, failing to ask, “Is this (situation, memory, value, desire) even true anymore?” Energies begin to eek out, to ‘somewhere’.

It is important to tell our stories, and to receive deep validation for doing the best we could at the time. There are few sentences more healing than, “It’s not your fault” or, “That must have been so hard for you all that time, to ___ .”  Even one person witnessing personal, often secret, struggles, can give disproportionately magical permission for them to heal, which is part of what humans are to one another.

And I understand this because of what it was like to separate from a partner of many years… reliving the whys and wherefores, answering to crowds of imaginary people in my mind. I found it hard to give the two of us as characters much tenderness, categorizing our mistakes as short-sighted and preventable, with an underlying subtext of blame that leaned slightly more his way than mine. I would stop the looping by sheer will and until, going along one day would realize, “When did THAT come back?”

We all want to do better going forward, and to find value in situations we’ve come to know well at such high costs; it is irresistible to come up with a script about it all, and to work that script until shines light on all our best angles. So the first step is self-compassion. Even with conviction that changes were for the right reasons, and with little question of our being happier, and in the long term healthier, meeting day to day needs is a great deal more of a challenge than it might have been.

So what to answer, for instance my son, when he asked to know more. One hesitates to teach what they are still going through, therefore I began to just describe our way of thinking at the beginning… the plans and visions behind them…the intricate calculations, but also values at the core of what we know in retrospect was our expanding too fast and freely. With distance I could see how thoughtful and careful we actually tried to be, while banking on the energy of desire and ambition.

I felt… impressed with us, even as I listened to myself describe where we went wrong. And I felt impressed to admit to those areas. A joyful feeling bubbled up as I described the condition of the house when we bought it… how we put every cent and second in…  learning by doing, installing the often complimented kitchen for almost nothing, taking down the horrendous mirrored wall and murals from the 80’s Miami Vice aesthetic.

I found myself smiling, speaking of us with great affection and compassion, laughing a little. It had been a while since I’d been able to do that. Then I realized: I had forgiven us, without knowing that to be the case. Somewhere along the way there had come softening.

The truth was, is, that I love those two people with their ambitious and energetic dreams. I love their ideals… their well-intended hearts… so deeply. What filled my being was a sense of expansion and, “Thank You.”  “Thank You, Thank You… Thank You, Thank You, Thank You”.

Teacher vs. Coach

On the way to school, bored by the current list of podcasts on my i-Pad, my son opened Kindle to read aloud from whatever happened to appear. In this case, it was Gabrielle Bernstein’s book The Universe Has Your Back. Gabrielle is pretty new to me and at first struck me as overly perky — as though she was me 15 or so years ago, before big challenges to manifestation and faith teachings.

This initial impression reflected underlying cynicism way more my issue than hers. Gabby is indeed energetic and fast-talking in a way that I am when off-kilter, which does not mean she is off-kilter too. 🙂

My son began to read a portion of the book that describes Gabby’s friend Lance’s story of coming to terms with feelings of (in his case intellectual) inadequacy, but it was hard for him to take seriously. The chapter is written in an “On my summer vacation we went to the beach…” style that frustrated him during school years in which he wanted to be more daring but was corrected for things like decorating his titles or going on tangents.

Although his take was funny, I heard myself make an important distinction.

There are differences between teachers and coaches, which doesn’t mean no overlap. The relationship with a teacher is an intimate one; the idea is to be taught something you don’t know, to be shown something you haven’t seen, taking on a new way of seeing, imbibing a new way of being, even.

With a coach, you already know what they are telling you, but they stir and push you to bring what is known and needed to the forefront [of your ‘mind palace’ (a la Sherlock)], so that you can enact. They help midwife what is ready to be born. This too can be a very powerful role, but it is far more straight forward, outward, obvious.

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“Lance” seems generic and vague because he is meant to be. He is a template, not supposed to take you out of or away from yourself the way ‘literature’ does.  In another chapter, Gabby describes a copy-editor that continually neglected to send in an invoice, and I laughed with relief because her copy-editor was figuratively, me. Too many specifics about this woman and I may not have been able to project myself into her story and actually take the bolder initiative I eventually did.

I’m someone reading a few books at a time, almost always a spiritual motivational book, which might sit right next to a historical biography (read Stalin Vol 1 recently), next to some obscure Tibetan text or book of poetry. Each has its place and benefit.

10 Day Actors Challenge

This turned out to be a productive and therapeutic process, although it took me about 17 days instead of 10 or 11, and although I’m not an Actor by profession. Indeed, I’m always hard pressed to answer when asked what my profession is, since career has always appeared for me embedded within ever-changing contexts of opportunities and interests that arise, often in contrast to whatever it is I am seeking. In the last decade, career has centered around research and writing, but even then, not in a straightforward way.

36714_409135071747_5399671_n                                                          (me acting, sort of)

I took the Actor’s Challenge as an ‘artistic activity’ challenge and found the format of the program – which includes a central question (this time about ‘power’) every day, meditation, timed and un-timed writings, creative expression, physical activity, and giving – deeply satisfying. I’ve participated in and facilitated online retreat type programs before, and this measured against those very well in terms of inspiring long-term habit formation.

Plus, it came at just the right time.

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Here is What I Know, for today

What has happened in my country is complex. Many are facing the reality that blind spots and complacency are sometimes not just shocking, but dangerous. The truly tender-hearted, who may have voted or not voted, who may have stood on one side or another but not taken seriously the threat of latent bigotry that is coming to the surface in the wake of (this) change, will now either close their eyes and pray or open their eyes and pray, and act.

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(Alicepopkorn )

“There are no enlightened persons, only enlightened activity,” said Suzuki Roshi.

This is my mantra, for today.

elegant rags

The feeling of brush, paint, paper… stirs comfort, ease.

Then Prisma makes the image shareable, muting colors that were too bright or didn’t mix as well, highlighting stroke detail… even imposing a few things I might have added with greater skill, or if I’d be using my preferred medium of oil. Acrylics dry so fast!

I never know what I am thinking until I see it out in the world. My mind is full of trees, dancers, angels, women in elegant rags…

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Retrospect

At the bookstore cafe’, moving through the line, when the feeling of someone noticing me presents itself. Not looking, but I see – he is dressed far too well for the bookstore. I am disheveled. He lingers, asks about the book I’d purchased … a children’s book, delightful, titled Goodnight Yoga: A Pose-By-Pose Bedtime Story. I look away, but he draws me back, saying he has a son, 6 years old… wonders whether he might like the same.

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(Illustrations in the book are by Sarah Jane Hinder)

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