Reading and comprehension errors

One bonehead mistake I frequently catch myself making when I read the Course is to assume that the same word has the same meaning in different contexts. I know from long experience that nearly all English words have multiple different, and sometimes inconsistent, meanings. I also know that context is everything.

It is a major source of confusion in my life.

-  oOo  -

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

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Going beyond - video

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Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

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An epigram is a brief, clever, and usually memorable statement. Derived from the Greek: "epi-gramma" meaning to write on or inscribe, the literary device has been employed for over two millennia.

Example: — "May the mind that was in Jesus of Nazareth also be in you. Or, do you expect better than that?"

  1. With some, what passes for enlightenment is just being slightly less full of shit.
  2. Whatever it was that caused you pain in the past, it wasn't love.
  3. Totality is everything. No joke.
  4. Some things get hidden so deep, you forget they are there at all.
  5. For those to whom eternal life has been given, death is not an option. Easter Sunday 2010
  6. Test the many voices. But, remember the voices of deceit will not suddenly speak the truth just because you ask nicely.
  7. "The fear of loss is a path to the dark side." Yoda, Star Wars III
  8. Everyone occupies the Bell curve in all positions, somehow or another.
  9. Use of the word 'singularity' in spiritual discourse creeps me out.
  10. It is impossible to cure indoctrination by means of different indoctrination. Indoctrination itself is the problem.
  11. "You are not wrong brother, you are just mistaken." - an ACIM student
  12. Some of my best ideas come from the sublime state of disgruntlement.
  13. It is better to plant one marigold than it is to curse the landscape.
  14. I'm thinking that chocolate pudding with strawberries on top is part of the universe of ideas that God created, and therefore real.
  15. I finally understand. The dark side of detachment is narcissism.
  16. The prayers, "Dear God please rip the darkness from my heart," is a theoretical metaphysical impossibility. God don't know nothing about no darkness.
  17. Tell you about it? Words cannot be transcended by means of more words. You need experiences and insights. The more the better to connect the fracking dots.
  18. Can't talk a way out of projection and perception. Can't even buy your way out.
  19. OK. But if I see that your hair is on fire, I promise not to dump the bucket of water on my head.
  20. How do you learn what you don't know by clinging to what you do know?
  21. So, ya think Helen got all the words exactly right? I doubt it.
  22. King of the world. Then hit an iceberg and drown. So it goes. Only the love remains.
  23. Enlightenment: Once is not enough.
  24. There is no act too small to make a difference.
  25. With many, the ego is smarter and more determined than you. Learning involves change, not rigidity.
  26. To those without eyes and ears, everything is a surprise.
  27. If you don't trust my intentions, you won't trust my words either, so why bother?
  28. You expect me to correct your thinking? Start with that idea. It's a mistake.
  29. It takes a special type of holy fool to pet a growling dog.
  30. The Holy spirit cannot speak English.
  31. A Course in Miracles in not philosophy or metaphysics, it is psychology.
  32. "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." Antoine de Saint Exupery
  33. Simple logic: If complexity is of the ego, then a complex metaphysics must be of the ego.
  34. The state of "normal" (as in "miracles are normal") involves the habitual unconscious expression of love. "By this shall all men know that you are my followers, if you have love one to another" (John 13:35 ), bypasses all professions of faith.
  35. It is impossible to be a friend to Jesus with a knife clenched in your teeth.
  36. Miracles are normal. Don't think about what is on the other side of miracles until you at least reach the state of . . . normal.
  37. What you call miracles are simply laws you do not understand
  38. Everyone goes through infancy, including spiritual infancy. A reasonable goal is to grow out of it.
  39. The only part of me that is uncertain of my own existence is the part of me that does not exist. Being a thought of God is a happy thought.
  40. Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. ~ Carl Jung
  41. The degree of ideological passion may be directly related to the degree of willful ignorance and fear.
  42. "Better late than never" is meaningless to eternity. Now is a good time.
  43. Responsibility without authority equals guilt.
  44. This singularity ain't big enough for the both of us.
  45. Mad cow disease explains everything.
  46. Any day that doesn't involve human sacrifice is a good day.
  47. Before someone can change, they have to learn, and before they learn, they have to cease being scared. - Seth Godin
  48. I'm wondering if boredom is an unloving thought. Have a clue?
  49. Anyone who has had the birth of Christ within knows exactly what the virgin birth is all about. Adyashanti
  50. You know, like a one-eyed man watching a 3-D movie.
  51. One concept notably lacking from ACIM is the idea of a food chain. "Eat me?" is not part of the picture.
  52. Question: When is the best time to plant a tree? Answer: 20 years ago.
  53. Being of "one mind" begins at home.
  54. You long for something different and call it a search for God. Isn't this what got you into trouble in the first place?
  55. The vow, "I won't be fooled again!" is the first step to being fooled again.
  56. Locating God is easy. Shutting up long enough to hear what she has to say is the hard part.
  57. If you focus on spirit long enough, you will see things you've never seen before.
  58. Mayan greeting E'en Lakesh which translates I am another yourself. We are one.
  59. A Course is Miracles is just like Christianity, except without all the b.s.
  60. Sometimes the very young do not do as they are told.
  61. You have the information, now is the time for transformation.
  62. Test everything. Hold on to the good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21
  63. If I drop a rock on my foot and it hurts like hell, is that the result of fear?
  64. Forgiveness alone brings confidence, comfort, and joy, and bids fear and despondency flee away.
  65. Many wish to "get it" for the sole purpose of "being done with it."
  66. If you could just rotate fast enough, you might get a psychic vortex going.
  67. As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. — Carl Jung
  68. They ain't nothin' woofin' but the peas in the pot, and they only woofin' cause the water be hot!
  69. The instructions for getting out of the box are printed on the outside of the box.
  70. The only way to know the truth is to make yourself fit to receive it.
  71. Yet if you do not accept the necessary conditions for knowing Him you have denied Him. — ACIM
  72. "If you follow the Bab around like a dog, do not be surprised that the Bab treats you like a dog." — Sayings of the Bab
  73. Hubris - trying to beat God at her own game.
  74. Shut up and put your money where your mouth is. That's what you get for waking up in Vegas - Kate Perry
  75. Save me from the nothing I've become. - Evanescence
  76. "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?" - Martin Luther King, Jr.
  77. Complex metaphysics my ass.
  78. I say again: Appearing and disappearing relate only to perception.
  79. It's impossible to know for sure something that isn't real.
  80. The English word 'fox' has the same meaning as 'renard,' except it's not as froggy.
  81. Crucifixion is quicker and easier than death by paper cuts.
  82. Perception ends where knowledge begins.
  83. Sure, Jesus promised that awakening is better than sex. But, is it better than fantasy sex?
  84. “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” — Catherine Ponder
  85. Switching from believing to not believing doesn't actually change anything.
  86. Salvation is not theoretical. — ACIM Manual for Teachers
  87. The Course is a fertile source for daydreamers everywhere to imagine about.
  88. My dreams are full of meaning, but not necessarily a lot of understanding.
  89. It is not the function of God's teachers to evaluate the outcome of their gifts. It is merely their function to give them. — ACIM
  90. Don't focus on reducing the pain that you experience yourself, focus on reducing the pain that you cause others.
  91. Love or die. That's a choice, right?
  92. New shorthand notation: CAIRI - meaning the Course as I Read It.
  93. I haven't worn all the tread off my set of egos, but they are losing traction and are starting to slip. Somewhat. Now and then.
  94. Like a snake that sheds its skin, I grow a new one.
  95. All illusions are equally false. They are not, however, equally useless.
  96. Joining with another mind is fearful because it means the end of secrets and lies.
  97. Priest: Someone paid to be kind and forgiving. It hasn't always worked out that way.
  98. Catholicism: Failed attempt to impose a universal theology.
  99. 99 out of 100 voices in your head are lying.
  100. Life is just like lucid dreaming, minus the lucidity.
  101. Blowing smoke can be done figuratively or literally. I prefer to do it literally.
  102. Abandon all blame, ye who enter here.
  103. What if . . . on the other side of that brick wall . . . it's Toontown?
  104. One reason for level confusion is that the Big Lie is different on every level.
  105. Turn the beat around. Rhythm carries all the action. Turn it upside down. Love to hear it.
  106. Mantra: Yes, that too is within me, and I within it.
  107. Is that singular, plural, or both, with the "you"? This is English, not some sensible language.
  108. Is anyone planning to unlearn how to tie a shoelace?
  109. A big problem with 'God the Father' is that many earthly fathers are assholes. 'God the Mother' is not always an improvement.
  110. I am under no obligation to accept your limitations.
  111. It is impossible to be in communication with and through spirit by means of deception.
  112. The way Jesus saw is good enough for me, and I've got the instruction manual.
  113. When they say "Know thyself," which self do they mean?
  114. The way of spirit is to keep the love and forget the rest, if I recall correctly.
  115. A distinction without any difference is not a distinction. It is arbitrary and meaningless.
  116. Truthiness is a "truth" that a person claims to know intuitively without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.
  117. Conversation stopper no. 1: This is obviously true!
  118. There are some problems in this world which either get solved quickly
    or not at all.
Also posted on Miracle Course Journal
-  oOo  -
Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

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The Pace of Learning

Stimulus: My partner thinks I am not learning and changing fast enough and moving fast enough along the path or working hard enough, and has given an ultimatum.


I think your partner has adopted a bad strategy, having made the classic mistake of thinking finite-self-image-called-me understands the fundamental nature of time, what it means, who is driving the bus, and what the bus route ought to look like. There is the improbable tale from the seed-time about a work gang. A bunch started at the crack of dawn and the Bab said she would pay them each $250 bucks US for a full day of hard work.

That was a very good deal, and they took it.

After lunch a new gang of workers showed up on the job and pitched in.

Then about an hour before quitting time, another group of workers arrived.

Then the day was done and the Bab got out her purse to pay the workers. She gave each person there the same amount of cash. $250.

The ones who had been on the job since the crack of dawn looked around and saw what happened and said, "Bugger! This ain't right!" with some emotion. "Them guys that only worked for half a day and those who worked for just an hour get paid the same as us? That's not fair."

The Bab, of course, had been through this before and had her answer quick. "You thought it was a good deal and agreed to it. We're not re-shuffling the deck at this late hour, and I'm the dealer. Take your money with my blessing, and quit your bitching," she said. "Everyone gets what they are entitled to, which is exactly the same as what everyone else gets. Their reward is no greater than yours, and no less."

This is Biblical. Matthew 20:1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard . . . . "

Connect the dots here, please.

My plan is to enjoy all things in moderation and be happy right up to the last minute and then kiss it goodbye.

Who is the smart, albeit extremely lazy, one?

-  oOo  -

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

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Building on the fault line - learning the hard way

My heart goes out to those who suffer pain or fear from the recent earthquake in Haiti. If I had any money, I'd send some to the American Red Cross with a designation for it to go to Haiti disaster relief. My good friend Logan is an advocate for the Louisville chapter of the Red Cross, and I trust Logan.

Donate now You will have the option to direct your donation to "Haiti earthquake relief."

— Giving is much better than receiving. Trust me, it's true.

In this I have been blessed by learning through personal experience and learning from the experiences of others. You can also trust me when I say that learning from the mistakes of others is at least a bazillion times more fun and less painful than is learning from personal experience. Learning from personal experience is known among educators, teachers, and parents as "learning the hard way" or the "school of hard knocks."

Within the scope of all possible human experiences is that of being crucified to death. Crucifixion is not as bad as what Hitler. Stalin, Idi Amin, and Saddam Hussein did to people, apparently. But, crucifixion doesn't look like its's much fun, if there is an order of magnitude among various torture methods.

Jesus of Nazareth was crucified by the Romans some 2000 years ago. I accept that as being a fact of history, and there isn't anything the least remarkable about that fact alone. The Romans crucified lots of people. If you watch the Kirk Douglas movie Sparticus, at the end you get a view of a road leading up to Rome lined on each side for as far as the eye can see with rows of crucified slaves. There was nothing special about being crucified by the Romans, so it's easy to believe that it happened to Jesus.

Both in the Gospels and in A Course in Miracles Jesus tell us that he voluntarily chose to be crucified.

"Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." John 10:17-18

In A Course in Miracles Jesus reiterates that he voluntarily elected to demonstrate that the most outrageous assault, as judged by the ego, "did not matter" as God judges these things.

Sure, as the world knows these things, Jesus was "betrayed, abandoned, beaten, torn, and finally killed." And, he did nothing to deserve it. He was innocent. "I had not harmed anyone and had healed many."

It was intentional!

It was an extreme example — demonstrated for the world to see.

It is nearly impossible to demonstrate clearly that "there is no death" unless you first get yourself killed.

One day your dead and two days later you're alive. Ipso facto, death is not real.

"I did assume a human form with human attributes afterwards, to speak to those who were to prove the body’s worthlessness to the world. This has been much misunderstood. I came to tell them that death is illusion, and the mind that made the body can make another since form itself is an illusion. They did not understand. But now I talk to you and give you the same message. The death of an illusion means nothing. It disappears when you awaken and decide to dream no more. And you still do have the power to make this decision as I did.

ACIM urtext, Special Messages

In A Course in Miracles, Jesus makes the important point that we can learn form his demonstration and not have to learn that lesson the hard way. He is glad when we can learn enough from his experiences "to be re-awakened by them."

It is not necessary to die or be killed to find life eternal. Says who? Says Jesus in A Course in Miracles. "We need not have equal experiences."

From a very cold-hearted point of view a hypothetical ACIM student might conclude that the people on Haiti who were caught in the recent earthquake had not learned the lesson Jesus taught so graphically. After all, the probability of a large earthquake on the island was no secret. The largest recorded earthquake in modern times for Haiti was an 8.1-magnitude temblor that produced a tsunami and killed 1,790 people in 1946. If there is one thing that people know about earthquakes, it is if they have happened once, they are likely to happen again.

Compassion is the only sane response to the recent events in Haiti. People do crazy stupid things like building cheap concrete and masonry structures on earthquake zones, and then pretend that they will not fall on top of them someday. It's just another lesson to learn the hard way.

I hope that this is not a lesson anyone else needs to learn. From what little bit of TV coverage I've seen, it does not look like fun.

According to A Course in Miracles the Haiti earthquake "did not matter" as God judges these things.

But, I don't judge as God judges. To me the Haiti earthquake does matter.

It matters simply because it matter to them. My brothers and sisters are in pain and fear.

If the money doe not matter to you — Donate now You will have the option to direct your donation to "Haiti earthquake relief."

— Giving is much better than receiving. Trust me, it's true. Most people in Haiti would rather be in your shoes right about now, where the big problem of the day is whether to give 5 bucks to the American Red Cross.

-  oOo  -

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

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The blind geometer

Greek geometry describes 3-dimensional space by beginning with a single imaginary dimensionless point.

— With a second imaginary non-existent point, a hypothetical single dimensional line is defined that doesn't exist.

— A third dimensionless point in combination with the first two, which defines a two-dimensional plane that is a total abstraction.

— Suddenly, with the introduction of a fourth imaginary dimensionless point, three-dimensional space as we think of it emerges.

Is that making something out of nothing?

"Man can create an empty shell, but cannot create nothing at all. This emptiness provides the screen for the misuse of projection."A Course in Miracles

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Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

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The droctrine of Gonzo Grace

From the very beginning, A Course in Miracles looks to a time when your psyche has been "restored to [its] original state." Putting all theoretical metaphysical complexities to one side, what this means is when you are healed. It is a stage of relative freedom from guilt and fear. When you are free for a time from guilt and fear, you are relatively more sane.

This stage generally demands involvement with the world. It is the privilege of the forgiven to forgive and it is the job of a miracle worker to bring light into darkness.

Freedom from guilt and fear is what the Course calls the State of Grace.

Commonly, grace is thought of as being a gift dispensed by God.  The Course uses it to mean a state of natural innocence. The original state of innocence or grace is the state of miracle-mindedness.
"Having been restored to your original state, you naturally become part of the atonement yourself. You know share my inability to tolerate the lack of love in yourself and in everyone else, and must join the Great Crusade to correct it. — ACIM urtext

The slogan for this Crusade is “Listen, Learn, and Do.”
This means Listen to my voice, Learn to undo the error,
and DO something to correct it.

"The first two are not enough. The real members of MY party are active workers. The power to work Miracles belongs to you. I will create the right opportunities for you to do them. But you must be ready & willing to do them, since you are already able to. Doing them will bring conviction in the ability. I repeat that you will see Miracles through your hands through MINE. Conviction really comes through accomplishment. Remember that ability is the potential, achievement is its expression, and atonement is the purpose."

This is the state of Gonzo Grace.  This is when the miracle worker's prayer becomes meaningful:

  • I am here only to be truly helpful.
  • I am here to represent Christ, who sent me.
  • I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do because he who sent me will
  • direct me.
  • I am content to be wherever he wishes, knowing he goes there with me.
  • I will be healed as I let him teach me to heal.
The doctrine of Gonzo Graze is the manifesto of miracle workers.
Gonzo Grace is very different from the 'cheap grace' discussed by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book The Cost of Discipleship.  Also, however, in the sense that discipleship has no cost.

-  oOo  -

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

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Wise as serpents

The injunction "Be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove," is frequently interpreted, applied, and justified in the reverse. Wise as a dove and innocent as a serpent.
"The world, in its original connotation, included both the proper creation of man by God, AND the proper creation by man in his Right Mind. The latter required the endowment of man by God with free will, because all loving creation is freely given. Nothing in either of these statements implies any sort of level involvement, or, in fact, anything except one continuous line of creation, in which all aspects are of the same order. When the “lies of the serpent” were introduced, they were specifically called lies because they are not true. When man listened, all he heard was untruth. He does not have to continue to believe what is not true, unless he chooses to do so. All of his miscreations can disappear in the well known “twinkling of an eye”, because it is a visual misperception." — ACIM urtext
What, exactly, does it mean to be "wise as a serpent"?

The saying comes from Matthew 10:16, "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." — New International Version (©1984)

Commentary from The People's New Testament explains it like this:
  • As sheep in the midst of wolves. Defenseless by human means, among the fierce and cruel; among bitter enemies.
  • Wise as serpents. Prudent, discreet. Serpents are very cautious in avoiding danger.
  • Harmless as doves. Guileless and innocent as doves. The dove, peaceful, never preying on other birds, has always been a symbol of innocence.
And, from the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:
Alone, the wisdom of the serpent is mere cunning, and the harmlessness of the dove little better than weakness: but in combination, the wisdom of the serpent would save them from unnecessary exposure to danger; the harmlessness of the dove, from sinful expedients to escape it. In the apostolic age of Christianity, how harmoniously were these qualities displayed! Instead of the fanatical thirst for martyrdom, to which a later age gave birth, there was a manly combination of unflinching zeal and calm discretion, before which nothing was able to stand.
The symbolism of the serpent is dependent upon culture. In the Abrahamic religions, serpents are connected with deceit, and are used to symbolize deceitfulness. An example is the serpent in the Garden of Eden, who tricks Adam and Eve into partaking of the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The symbolic connection between serpents and deceit may depend in part on the observation that snakes have forked tongues. A forked tongue is a tongue which has not one end, but two, pointing in different directions. In humans, the tongue is an essential tool in speech, and the presence of only one tip signifies the unity of truthful speech, and corresponds to the unity of the truth itself. There is only one truth, but there are many lies. The forked tongue represents the disunity of deceitful speech. Wikipedia

But, this is not the only symbolic meaning for serpents. Serpents are represented as potent guardians of temples and other sacred spaces. This connection may be grounded in the observation that when threatened, some snakes, such as rattlesnakes or cobras, frequently hold and defend their ground, first resorting to threatening display and then fighting, rather than retreat.

Serpents are also symbolicaly connected with poison and medicine. The snake's venom is associated with the chemicals of plants and fungi that have the power to either heal, poison or provide expanded consciousness, even the elixir of life and immortality, through divine intoxication. Because of its herbal knowledge and psychoactive religious association the snake was often considered one of the wisest animals, being close to the divine. The snake's divine aspect combined with its habitat in the earth between the roots of plants made it an animal with subterranean properties connected to the afterlife and immortality.

Serpents are connected with rebirth, renewal or regeneration. This trait is connected with the practice of snakes of shedding their old skin and growing a new one.

The Fourth Way teaching of Gurdjieff is sometimes called the way of the "sly man."  A man does not give up anything in his ordinary life to pursue awakening, rather, he uses what life has given him to further his progress.  The sly man is wise in the ways of the world, but not taken in by the world's allure and deceptions.  He stays in life and works with all  sides of himself. This re-aligns and balances him. As being and knowledge increase so does understanding. Seeing himself as he is, he begins to feel his contradictions, conscience is awakened, not the morality of personality, but conscience that is the same for all men. The way of the sly man may be to what "cunning as snakes and as harmless as doves" refers.

-  oOo  -

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

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