Monday, March 22, 2021

Sexism, Soul and A Course in Miracles

The rank sexism of A Course in Miracles - and the misogyny reflected in those who enforced it (I'm looking at you Ken Wapnick) still unsettles. It reflects an intellectualized version of "I get it and you don't." There isn't any defense for it, which is really the best way to handle it.

Related to this - and the real reason for this little post - is that "soul" appeared more frequently in early versions of the text and was later replaced by "spirit." Interestingly, in the western tradition, "soul" was often feminized, a last vestige of femininity not relegated to the whore/madonna binary. I wonder if - probably unconsciously - this influenced subsequent edits in favor of masculine language and imagery.

The point is that we have to ask: where is the feminine in A Course in Miracles? It's not an accident that the most culturally popular teacher is a woman (and the one who promoted her most effectively was also a woman).

Monday, February 1, 2021

A Last Point on Mind

Q: It sounds so abstract. What are we supposed to do with this information?

A: Nothing! There is nothing to do, because it is all being done. It is like the Buddha said so many centuries ago: the deed there is but no doer thereof. Simply give attention in a gentle but sustained way and see if this isn't so.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Can You Explain What You Mean by "Mind is so Simple?"

Any thought you appear to hold is but one aspect of the only Thought there is. It is like when we hold a prism to a ray of sunlight, apparently fracturing it into vivid spectral array. The violet band of the spectrum is both separate from, contained in and expressing as the one and only light. Thought cannot be separated from anything else - it is always the One Thought briefly appearing in this or that form. When I reach into the lake for a handful of water what shimmers in my cupped palms is the lake itself. The drop contains the whole and the whole contains the drop.

Give attention to any thought. I say "I am a father." That thought is not separate from my three 

children. It is not separate from "daughter" and "son." It is not separate from my marriage, from which union those children emerged. Nor is it separate from the union of my own parents, nor my wife's parents, nor - collectively - the union of their parents. It is not separate from immigration, Greek history, the Irish famine, colonial notions of empire, sea travel, the idea of 'union,' or the idea of language as a means of symbolizing something. It is like opening a door and the house disappears. The rose is not separate from the rain, the sun, the earth. It is all one.

Any thought naturally and surely touches every other thought - the whole moves through the apparently singular thought, as the apparently singular thought contains the whole from which it emerges. No matter what arises, it is always the Beloved arising, and it is always the Beloved loving in turn the beloved.

Seen this way, gazing at the external world is not unlike gazing at an enormous soap bubble floating in the summer air. The colors elide and shimmer across a gossamer surface, never the same, never still, so beautiful and iridescent and yet also transparent to the point of illusory, here and then gone.

There is no world apart from thought, yet there is no thought apart from the apparent world. What we call thought is merely a subtler appearance of form. Our ideas about love, about desire, about God, about community are in the ultimate and formal sense indistinguishable from birch trees and sunsets and bow saws. They come and go, the One endlessly formulating Herself as this experience.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

How Simple Mind Is

How simple the mind is, reflecting but one thought at a time! Though it is infinitely capable of reflecting any and all aspects of the whole, it is forever proscribed from reflecting the whole at once. Only when it perceives this limitation is the mind able to stop frantically grasping at the images arising in it, including the idea that holding any one firmly might somehow end or amend the endless unchangeable flow of them. When it seen that there is no self either down- or upstream from this that arises presently, then thought subsides, becoming no more or less essential than any other bodily function, and the peace of God appears, somewhat in the way that stars appear when a sudden wind blows the clouds away.

All there is is this present experience knowing itself as experience. To call it an illusion is a misnomer, because that implies a truth other than this. There is only this, and this is all there is.

Friday, January 29, 2021

On Reality and Illusion

If our experience of being separate individuals living in a world of other separate individuals, with resources thin and growing thinner, is an illusion, then we should want to see this.

Why?

Our problems - so-called - arise from the sense of separation: me and you, us and them, this and that. At the personal level, we flounder in what are perceived to be unfair circumstances. At the level of the collective, it leads to war.

Imagine that you and I are at a party. You tell me that you are being stalked by a killer. The killer is at the party. 

If I believe you are correct, and that there really is a killer at the party, and that you are in mortal danger, then I am going to follow a particular strategy to protect and hopefully save you.

If I believe that the killer is an illusion - something you believe deeply but which is not factually true - then a different strategy will emerge and be brought into application.

Does this make sense? In both cases the experience is acknowledged, but the response is changed. 

In this respect, the distinction between reality and illusion matters. Seeing the illusion allows for a subtle but important shift in response, from reaction to response.

When we look at the situation this way, we understand that the helpfulness of our response will shift - subtly perhaps - depending on whether we believe the problem is real or simply an illusion. 

Thus, the question shifts. We don't need to determine whether this or that problem or event is real or illusory. The metaphysics subside. What matters is what is most helpful? What position yields greater peace? Justice? Creativity? Et cetera?

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Peace is the Default State

The suggestion is that peace is the default state for human beings. 

Conflict arises when there is something to defend which is to say, something that can be attacked and/or taken away - an idea, a resource, a body.

It is prudent then to question the reality of that which we perceive as susceptible to attack and thus in need of defense. If it is real - and if we are truly endangered by its absence or compromise - then defense is reasonable. 

If it is not, then we need to rethink our inclination to conflict. 

Indeed, the suggestion is that the closer we look at what what we believe can be attacked and thus merits defense (which is simply attack from the other side), we will see that there is nothing but peace.

Conflict arises from the illusion of separation. In the awareness of Truth, conflict ends. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

ACIM Ego

When A Course in Miracles talks about "ego" it is talking about human conditioning, which occurs at both the collective and individual levels. For example, at the collective level we believe that war and poverty and hunger are inevitable. At the personal level, we believe that we are victims of our genes. The course does not ask us to argue with these assumptions, or work to change them, but rather to lift them into the light of awareness. When we see the inherent falsity of these assumptions - when we perceive them at last as illusions - what remains is the truth. What remains is reality.

Sexism, Soul and A Course in Miracles

The rank sexism of A Course in Miracles - and the misogyny reflected in those who enforced it (I'm looking at you Ken Wapnick) still un...