10/24/10

The meaning of anger

"If you respond with anger you must be equating yourself with the destructible,
and are therefore regarding yourself insanely."

A Course In Miracles

Anger is easiest to recognize and acknowledge as an emotional experience, but since ego-identified belief systems separate and isolate to the point of worthlessness, anger is impossible to understand or heal as an easily identified symptom out of context. Anger is not only an emotional experience, it is a small component of a larger process. The part of anger that intrudes into awareness is but the tip of a submerged psychological iceberg.
"You have reacted for years as if you were being crucified. This is a marked tendency of the separated ones, who always refuse to consider what they have done to themselves. Projection means anger, anger fosters assault, and assault promotes fear."
A Course In Miracles
There are several variations on a theme, but one common scenario described in the Course progresses as follows:
  • If you perceive yourself as being attacked, you will tend to view the attack as unjustified and unreasonable;
  • If you also perceive yourself as vulnerable, you will view the attack as doing you harm or depriving you of something valuable;
  • Anger results from being harmed without justification, or deprived for no good reason;
  • In its own context, anger is rational;
  • It is logical for those who are attacked for no good reason to defend themselves;
  • One popular method of self-defense is to attack back;
  • Attack breeds fear of retaliation;
  • Attack begets attack, which involves anger, that breeds fear, which invokes improper defenses centered upon threat of retaliation.
Anger is part of a cyclical process of attack and counter-attack, but according to the Course, "Anger is never justified." The Course addresses each of the components of this anger-assault-fear cycle directly and individually with a many-pronged challenge to conventional ego-identified thinking. A major part of the Course's radical message is contained within The Gift of Forgiveness.

-  oOo   -

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

10/23/10

Toward a science of persons

"The purpose of this course is integration."
A Course In Miracles

" .... an individual the totality of whose experience is split in two main ways; in the first place, there is a rent in his relation with his world and, in the second, there is a disruption of his relation with himself. Such a person is not able to experience himself 'together with' others or 'at home' in the world, but on the contrary, he experiences himself in despairing aloneness and isolation; moreover, he does not experience himself as a complete person but rather as 'split' in various ways, perhaps as a mind more or less tenuously linked to a body, as two or more selves, and so on."
This is how Dr. R. D. Laing begins his essay "The existential-phenomenological foundations for a science of persons," in the 1959 book, The Divided Self. Doesn't this description sound very familiar, and similar to the description in A Course In Miracles of ego-identification in the world?
"The separated ones were not interested in peace. They had already split their minds, and were bent on further dividing, rather than reintegrating. The levels they introduced into their minds turned against each other, and they established differences, divisions, cleavages, dispersions, and all the other concepts related to the increasing splits which they produced. Not being in their right minds, they turned their defenses from protection to assault, and acted literally insanely ....

".... No-one turns to fantasy unless he despairs of finding satisfaction in reality. Yet it is certain that he will never find satisfaction in fantasy ... Grandiosity is always a cover for despair. It is without hope because it is not real. It is an attempt to counteract your littleness, based on the belief that the littleness is real ... In sleep you are alone, and your awareness is narrowed to yourself. And that is why the nightmares come. You dream of isolation because your eyes are closed. You do not see your brothers."
And is this not the same as the early Twentieth Century Gnostic teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff and P. D. Ouspensky?
"First of all, what man must know is that he is not one; he is many. He has not one permanent and unchangeable 'I' or Ego. He is always different. One moment he is one, another moment he is another, the third moment he is a third, and so on, almost without an end. The illusion of unity or oneness is created in man first, by the sensation of one physical body, by his name, which in normal cases always remains the same, and third, by a number of mechanical habits which are implanted in him by education or acquired by imitation. Having always the same physical sensations, hearing always the same name and noticing in himself the same habits and inclinations he had before, he believes himself to be always the same. In reality there is no oneness in man and there is no controlling centre, no permanent 'I' or Ego.

"This is the general picture of man: Every thought, every feeling, every sensation, every desire, every like and every dislike is an 'I'. These 'I's are not connected and are not co-ordinated in any way. Each of them depends on the change in external circumstances, and on the change of impressions. Some of them mechanically follow some other, and some appear always accompanied by others. But there is no order and no system in that."
The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution
Is this not also the Gospel teachings of Jesus?
" And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? " Matthew 12:25 - 26
 Jesus "knew their thoughts" and he compared their thinking to a house divided . Jesus was teaching psychology!

These, and many others, describe the same condition. The psychology of the divided self has been recognized and studied since ancient times. For example, according to many Sufi teachers, there are seven levels of the self. They are seven levels of development, ranging from absolutely self-centered and egotistical to purely spiritual. But, whatever level or division an individual may inhabit in the normal course of life, it is only rarely that he or she questions the inevitability of the divided self or the desirability of healing the condition. .

The Sufi, the Gnostic, and the Christian-ACIM traditions hold to the hope and necessity for change and self-integration, but when asked "Why cannot all men develop and become different beings?" Ouspensky responded,"The answer is very simple. Because they do not want it. Because they do not know about it and will not understand without a long preparation what it means, even if they are told."

Or, as the Course states, "You never really wanted peace before, so there was no point in being told how to achieve it. No learning is acquired by anyone unless he wants to learn it, and believes in some way that he needs it."


-  oOo   -

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

10/21/10

Fear is the mind killer

"The need to recognize fear and face it without disguise
is a crucial step in the undoing of the ego."

Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

Fear would destroy you here and bury you here, leaving you no inheritance except the dust out of which it thinks you were made. If you submit to fear, it offers you oblivion. If you resist fear, it offers you hell.

I will not bow down to fear.
I will face my fear.
I will not fight my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

I will remain.

Only perfect love REALLY exists.
If there IS fear,
It creates a state which does not exist.
Believe this, and you WILL be free.

- Adapted from Frank Herbert's Dune cycle, and A Course in Miracles

10/20/10

I need do nothing

Faust (or 'Faustus,' Latin for "auspicious" or "lucky") is the protagonist of a classic German legend. Though a highly successful scholar, Dr. Faust is unsatisfied, and makes a deal with the devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. The best known theatrical version of the legend was written by German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

At the end of Goethe's play, Dr. Faust laments a life spent in pursuit of knowledge, "I now do see that we can nothing know."

This is similar to A Course in Miracles when it states, "When the light comes at last ... or when the goal is finally achieved by anyone, it always comes with just one happy realization; "I need do nothing."

All too often, it seems, there is a temptation to remember and to use the phrase "I need do nothing," out of context, and as an excuse to do nothing. I've heard it a lot over the last decade of meeting and talking with various Course students online.

The marvelously courageous Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote about the Faust quote, "I now do see that we can nothing know," as follows:
"That is the answer to a sum, it is the outcome of a long experience. But as Kierkegaard observed, it is quite a different thing when a freshman comes up to the university and uses the same sentiment to justify his indolence. As the answer to a sum it is perfectly true, but as the initial data it is a piece of self-deception. For acquired knowledge cannot be divorced from the existence in which it is acquired. The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ. Such a man knows that the call to discipleship is a gift of grace, and that the call is inseparable from the grace. But those who try to use this grace as a dispensation from following Christ are simply deceiving themselves."
The Cost of Discipleship [emphasis added]
I emphasized the sentence, "For acquired knowledge cannot be divorced from the existence in which it is acquired," because it applies to the Course statement, "I need do nothing."

To put it as simply as possible, the statement, "I need do nothing," is a genuine realization only after awakening. That is the apparent meaning in context, both expressly and rationally. The circumstance of the realization is the success of a Holy Instant, which is the brief transcendence of time. "I need do nothing," is true outside of time and in eternity. Within time it is simply false.

Reading A Course in Miracles as a whole makes this clear.





-  oOo   -

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

10/18/10

A very practical course of study

"You have begun to realize that this is a very practical course,
because it means exactly what it says.
So does the Bible, if it is properly understood."
A Course in Miracles

Insane laws were made to guarantee that you would make mistakes, and then to give those mistakes power over you by accepting their results as being what you justly deserve. The wages of sin is death.

But, what God has given follows his laws, and his alone. It is not possible for those who follow the laws of God to suffer the results of any other source. To follow spirit is to remove yourself from the laws of death and to place yourself under the laws of love. Different laws produce different results.

Salvation is immediate, and unless you so perceive it, you will be afraid of it.

The information contained within A Course in Miracles has immense practical value. It is critical for you to learn exactly how you can work with these concepts and ideas, how you can apply this knowledge to your own particular situation.

You cannot simply read about what to do. You have to act.
"This is not a course in the play of ideas, but in their practical application. Nothing could be more specific than to be told very clearly, that if you ask you will receive."
You do ask, and you do receive. If you are curious to know what you have asked for in the past, just look at what you have received. That's it.

-  oOo   -

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

10/17/10

In the name of Jesus

"These signs shall accompany them that believe:
In my name will they cast out demons,
and they will speak with new tongues."
Mark 16:17

What does it mean to pray or act in the name of Jesus? Is there special power in speaking the mere word? A Course in Miracles tells us, "A name does not heal, nor does an invocation call forth any special power."

According to Hollywood and popular fiction, demons and evil ones can't even say the word 'Jesus,' but  we know from the Gospels that this cannot be true. "For many shall come in my name saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will lead many astray." Matthew 24:5

False teachers don't have any trouble at all mouthing the name Jesus.
"What does this mean for you? It means that in remembering Jesus you are remembering God. The whole relationship of the Son to the Father lies in him. His part in the Sonship is also yours, and his completed learning guarantees your own success. Is he still available for help? What did he say about this? Remember his promises, and ask yourself honestly whether it is likely that he will fail to keep them." Manual for Teachers, part 23
To understand the meaning of the Gospels, it is useful to know the meaning of the Aramaic words that Jesus actually used. The Aramaic word beshmi, translated into Greek and then into English as "in my name," implies:

According to my way, method, approach, or technique, and with my understanding.

The secret of acting and praying 'in the name of Jesus' lies in knowing and experiencing as he did.
"The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned ... But we have the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:14-16

-  oOo   -

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

10/16/10

Prayer - Tuning to the God channel

Tuning in to the God channel is the essence of prayer as it ought to be. True prayer must avoid the pitfall of asking for specifics or entreaty. Ask to receive what is already given, and to accept what is already here, which is everything.

From the Principles of Miracles in the Course, we learn that "Prayer is the medium of miracles. It is a means of communication of the created with the Creator. Through prayer love is received, and through miracles love is expressed."

For us, prayer is not a means of communicating to God, it is the means to receive communication from God. Such is the present need. In truth, prayer is "the single voice Creator and creation share."

When Jesus walked the earth and spoke of prayer, he used the Aramaic word 'slotha' which literally means to set a trap. In this sense he meant to set your mind like a trap to catch the thoughts of God. Prayer requires us to cultivate a state of mind in which all personal thought are stilled and nothing is projected outward.

The Aramaic word 'slotha' also means to focus or to tune in. A modern analogy would be to tune a radio or television receiver into the right frequency or channel. To pray means to tune your mind to the God frequency, and to focus upon only that. Prayer is the practice of adjusting our minds and hearts to receive God's transmissions. Eliminate the static.


-  oOo   -

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

10/15/10

A theory of mind

"Your state of mind and your recognition of what is in it depend on what you believe about your mind. Whatever those beliefs may be, they are the premise that will determine what you accept into your mind.
A Course In Miracles
Suppose it is a simple as that. Suppose the big problem stems from a fundamentally flawed notion of what your mind is. Perhaps you consider yourself to be a single point of awareness floating in a subjective experience, contained within a body that is a small cog in a much larger world full of countless other minds, bodies and assorted stuff.

That's backwards. It's all mind.

To say "It's all in your mind," runs the risk of trivializing mind as a self-deprecation. That's what they say to crackpots who are imagining things. The other risk is to encourage a solipsism where everything is shrunk down to the size of your personal singular point of view and awareness. This is a trivialization that promotes grandiosity and narcissism. Neither are an improvement, because each maintain the basic structural flaw.

A Course in Miracles states that mind is the creative aspect of soul, and that your soul is your reality.

The singular point of awareness that you think of as "you" is your ego, or separated self. The "you" in your mind, in your body, in the world, is not you. What you think of as your mind is not your mind, your mind is not within your body, and the world is not what you think it is.
"It is surely clear that you can both accept into your mind what is not there, and deny what is."
A Course In Miracles
-  oOo   -

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

10/14/10

The first law of chaos

"The first chaotic law is that the truth is different for everyone."
ACIM Text, Chapter 23

The first law of chaos states that the truth is different for everyone. This is the foundation upon which chaos is established and maintained. To be in a state of chaos is to be in a state of rebellion against God.

The state of God is well ordered and harmonious. The state of God is not chaos.

The first law of chaos is based upon limited selective perception, and it is best illustrated by the story of the three blind men and the elephant. Each of the three had only a limited experience of a much larger creature, and mistook his separate limited perceptions as being exclusively representative of the whole creature.

Each of the three were both partially right and wholly wrong.

The fable accurately describes the problem, but it also contains within it the seed of a solution. As the story ends being a provocation, the three blind men are arguing, insisting that each alone is right and all the others wrong and misguided.

The obvious solution presents itself to combine the three sets of separate perceptions into a greater and more expansive view, and thereby reach a more harmonious understanding of the whole. It would be a closer approximation of the truth.

It would also have the virtue of reducing strife.




-  oOo   -
Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky 

10/13/10

The imperceptible

The imperceptible, by definition, cannot be perceived.

Perception requires difference and contrast. This need not be proved since it is so easy to observe and confirm for yourself. Imagine a white border-less circle on a white piece of paper, or the proverbial black cat in a coal mine at midnight. If everything is all the same, there is nothing to perceive.

Perception requires localization. 'Here' and 'there' are necessary and meaningful concepts with perception. It is related to contrast. If something is everywhere, it is invisible and imperceptible.

A Course in Miracles states that love has no opposite, is all there is, and it is everywhere. These are the conditions for imperceptibility. If love has no opposite, there is no contrast and nothing to compare it to.  If love is all there is and it is everywhere, it is invisible.

Love is imperceptible.

Why, then, do you believe that you can recognize love when you see it?

More importantly, how can you ever perceive its absence?


-  oOo   -
Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky 

10/12/10

The decision maker

There is a lot of chatter in some quarters concerning what A Course in Miracles means by the phrase "decision maker." From what I've seen, the discussion has been theoretical, speculative, and it is not based upon anything contained within or implied by the Course itself.

Decisions are of the mind. This is as far as the Course goes. There is no special structural part of the mind that mediates between right-mindedness and wrong-mindedness. All discussions based upon this erroneous premise are dead-end distractions, and a waste of time.

Who you think you are is the decision-maker, and that fluctuates from day to day and year to year. It is not a fixed division of the psyche. If you think you are a doctor or a derelict, that self image will dictate much of your decision making.

"What would Jesus do?" gets translated into "How does a doctor behave?" The many roles you have decide for you. The most obvious is the one expressly described in the Course.

You think you are a body. Therefore, when that is your belief, for you the body is the decision maker.

Manual for Teacher, Section Five
"First, it is obvious that decisions are of the mind, not of the body. If sickness is but a faulty problem-solving approach, it is a decision. And if it is a decision, it is the mind and not the body that makes it. The resistance to recognizing this is enormous, because the existence of the world as you perceive it depends on the body being the decision maker.Terms like "instincts," "reflexes" and the like represent attempts to endow the body with non-mental motivators. Actually, such terms merely state or describe the problem. They do not answer it."


-  oOo   -
Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

10/11/10

The dispossessed

The dispossessed are those who have been exiled from their own kingdom. As strangers in a strange land they wander lost, forgetting even that they we born to rule. Farce and elaborate pretense takes the place of legitimate sovereignty, and the domain suffers at the hands of tyrants.

A Course In Miracles tell us that we have a kingdom we must rule. This kingdom is our own mind. "Know thyself!" the Course reminds us, again. It is a path to the transcendent thinking which results in transformation of the greater self, that is called the world.

I & thou, which is one, which is everything.

Give up your faith in trinkets and toys, and the stuff of let's pretend. There is no protection there.


-  oOo   -
Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky 

10/8/10

This too shall pass

One thousand monkeys

Sometime this weekend, I guess, Scribd.com will record the one thousandth online read of Gerry Boylan's   Christ in Training, digital edition. Although this number does not accurately reflect the number of people who actually read the book form stem to stern, it does indicate the number of times the book cover and title was flashed before their eyes for at least 3 seconds.

Each of those eye-flashes are called 'impressions' in the advertising-communicating trade, and they all add up.

Even for those who do not read the book, the title itself contains a revolutionary idea: Christ In Training. Many, I suspect, will read that title with revulsion, and as being unacceptably foreign to their conditioned thought patterns. But, that guarantees that the seed will be planted and remembered.

Don't read the book.

Just think about the title Christ In Training today.





-  oOo   -
Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky
Tom Fox on Scribd.com 

10/5/10

Course basics: How real is real?

 When it comes to the phenomenal world, the phrase "This too shall pass" fairly sums it up from the perspective of A Course in Miracles. All is alive, in motion, and changing. Form comes into being, adapts, grows, changes, and passes away. It is a world of the ephemeral in flux. This is the world we know. This is the world where the consequences are gauged in probabilities and not in certainty. It is the world we have created to satisfy a desire for impermanence.

What we experience and perceive with senses is not the world that God created, which is eternal.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning." James 1:17

This, on the other hand, is an adequate description of reality. No variation without any shadows cast by turning. The world of reality moves in one direction only, toward creation and extension of that which is already real, and with no blockages of the light that might cast a shadow.

The world of illusions and deceptive appearances that obscure the reality beyond is the world of maya, the ephemeral. In Hinduism and Sikhism, maya is the principal concept which manifests, perpetuates and governs the illusion and dream of duality in the phenomenal universe. It is not real, as that word is used within A Course in Miracles. What is real is eternal, meaning that it exists outside of space-time, and it is unchanging, which is even more difficult to understand.

But, to dismiss the phenomenal world as "just illusion" is to wholly miss the point, in Course terms. Perhaps in other traditions the world is viewed as a trap to be escaped, in the Course the world is to be forgiven, healed, and transformed into Heaven. A close analogy is provided by the Hebrew word 'Tikkun,' which means to heal, repair, and transform the world.

This is the duty and responsibility of humankind because the creative powers we share is what sustains the world of illusion. We cannot simply turn our back upon it, for it is impossible to escape our own creations. The mind is the cutting edge of creation and until we learn to heal our mis-creations and stop casting shadows across the land, illusions and the deception of separation will persist.

The first law of God can be expressed as "You broke it, you bought it." What the mind has created wrongly shall continue laboriously and painfully through time, until that mind is returned to the service of light.

The world we know is not real in the ultimate sense, but it is real enough in time because it is sustained by the hidden power of the universe, the creative power of God, wrongly applied.

In this, the teachings of A Course in Miracles are fairly unique. I am not aware of any other like it.
"Fantasies and projection ... both attempt to control external reality according to false internal needs... Twist reality in any way, and you are perceiving destructively. Reality was lost through usurpation, which in turn produced tyranny. I told you you were now restored to your former role in the Plan of Atonement. But you must still choose freely to devote your heritage to the greater Restoration. As long as a single slave remains to walk the earth, your release is not complete. Complete restoration of the Sonship is the only true goal of the miracle-minded." A Course In Miracles


-  oOo   -
Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky
eBooks on Scribd.com

10/3/10

Is the Course deterministic, stochastic, or a Markov process?

From the world of mathematics we have these three terms that can be used for inquiring about A Course In Miracles
  1. Deterministic process,
  2. Stochastic process, and
  3. Markov process
For my purpose, we'll use these meanings (with apologizes to mathematicians everywhere):

1. In a deterministic process, the outcome is predetermined. With enough information, the future can be predicted based upon the past. There is only one possible future.

2. A stochastic process is influenced by the past, but unknowable variables also enter into the equation. There are many different possible futures.

3. With a Markov process, the past has no effect on the future. It is said to be without any memory.

It seems to me the Course, and discussions about the Course, involve each of these ideas in various ways.

For example, the phrase "the scrip is written" frequently pops up in discussion, implying that the process is deterministic, as in "the outcome is as certain as God."

A discussion of free will and choice suggests that the process may be stochastic. If choice matters, then different futures are possible depending upon present decisions.

The Course defines perception as being wholly based upon the past, and "as a man perceives, so shall he behave," which is a deterministic idea. For it to be a Markov process, the past must be forgotten. Forgetting the past and deciding with the vision of Christ is the goal. In this sense, the goal of the Course might be described as shifting from a deterministic process to a Markov process.

-  oOo   -
Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

10/2/10

Light one candle

It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. This familiar phrase is not from the Bible, it is the motto of the American Christopher Society, founded in 1945 by Father James Keller. The name of the group is derived from the Greek word "christopher", which means "Christ-bearer"

The reason the phrase is so well known is that "Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness" was also the prominent motto of Christopher Closeup, a weekly half-hour TV show originally broadcast on ABC starting in 1952.

The motto was said by the Christopher Society to come from an ancient Chinese proverb.

Another variation of the phrase is, "It is better to light a candle for someone than to curse them in their darkness."

Reference: Wikipedia

-  oOo   -

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

10/1/10

The difference it would make

Imagine the difference it would make if politicians, policy makers, and the general public understood the world and the way it functions similarly to the way espoused by A Course In Miracles. When faced with homicidal maniacs and ruthless terrorists, one might understand that killing their bodies does nothing to eliminate the fearful murderous thinking that inspired the dreadful acts.

Their unbridled urge to destroy is simply redistributed to manifest elsewhere when what appears to be the source, but isn't, is eliminated.

The so-called "death penalty" does not solve or cure anything.



-  oOo   -
Tom Fox Louisville, Kentucky
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