Many of us find ourselves treading with care around ‘difficult’ or prickly people, those in our lives who seem to take offence easily, and we do this because we feel somehow responsible for their upsets. We try not to do or say things that we know will press their buttons. This dynamic can keep us in thrall for years, and for myself there have been family members in particular who I have danced around, worrying that their upset is something to do with me, whilst trying to appease, to comfort and to ‘help’ them.
I’ve danced this exhausting dance since I was a little girl and I’m sure readers who also suffer from this ‘people pleasing’ trait will empathise. My feeling is that this belief is ingrained in some of us from early childhood, with the first reprimand from an elder such as ‘naughty girl, now you’ve made me angry’. As we’ll read below this is quite impossible, and for me it is time to see what’s at play with this non-sense, and to finally kick off these particular dancing shoes!
Recently I upset someone in my family, albeit unwittingly. I explained my thinking to her yet she was seemingly hurt and agitated. My endeavours to smooth the waters didn’t help much and I understand she remains peeved. What was note-worthy in the unfolding of this situation was that it brought up a great deal of fear for me, as has occurred many times in my life in similar interactions. Yet the level of anxiety was irrational and this told me there was something that needed healing within me – this was my ‘call for love’ – and now was the time for it. So I asked my Higher Self (known as the Holy Spirit) to look at it with me, and what I have learnt lead to this article.
‘Only appreciation is an appropriate response to your brother. Gratitude is due him for both his loving thoughts and his appeals for help, for both are capable of bringing love into your awareness if you perceive them truly.’ T.12.I.6
Everyone in this world is crying out for love, and all attack is a call for love, despite its distressing disguises. Loving thoughts between us certainly make us aware of the love we all share, but an attack can also serve to bring love into our awareness.
Marianne Williamson described it well when she said “The way of the miracle worker is to see all human behaviour as one of two things: either love or a call for love”. I used to think that this meant the call for love was only in the other person – either they were expressing love or they were calling for it (in their angry behaviour, for example). However the ‘call for love’ can also be my own call for love, and this is where it gets interesting.
If I perceive an attack (or objectionable behaviour as I may interpret it) in another person, and I have a REACTION to it, then the call for love (or correction) is first of all within me. Any disturbance I feel within myself indicates that I’ve projected my own guilt onto the person or situation, I am believing in separation, and the healing is required within me. This is my call for love.
Many people when they first encounter A Course in Miracles are surprised by its Christian terminology, and if they have past ‘issues’ with Christianity as a religion, or with the concept of Jesus in particular, they may have resistance to the words and phrases used in the Course. In fact some people will go no further with it because of the resistance they feel. This article addresses those who face this conundrum. Funnily enough Jesus, the Voice of the teachings, makes reference to this a few times, and is very understanding about our feelings.
♥ ‘You have very little trust in me as yet, but it will increase as you turn more and more often to me instead of to your ego for guidance. My trust in you is greater than yours in me at the moment, but it will not always be that way’ (T.4.VI.3:1; 6:1)
‘Some bitter idols have been made of him who would be only brother to the world’. (C.5.5.7)
Here are some of the terms and symbols we encounter in the Course, with descriptions that may provide the new student some understanding, and reassurance if needed.
Jesus or Christ is purely symbolic of God’s Love, and he is not a ‘character’ at all but merely a symbol of Love in our mind. He is a part of and represents the Christ Mind, and constantly describes himself as our brother, our equal, not a body, and in no need of worship or adoration. He asks only that we remember we are as he is, being purely Love, purely Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the Voice for God, our Comforter, our Guide, and the most powerful Presence within our mind. The Holy Spirit is in the ‘right-mind’, and is our eternal reminder that we have never separated from our Creator, from Source, from God. He is our link to Home, our ‘saving grace’. In visualising the Holy Spirit, this is highly individual for each person. The common symbol across many traditions is a dove, the dove of peace, and may also be pictured as pure light. It requires just our little willingness to experience this Light within us.
Jesus and the Holy Spirit are synonymous and are a symbol of Love, the meaning of which ‘is beyond what can be taught’, but which is within us.
The Creator, Source, the Divine, the ‘All That Is’ is referred to in the Course as God, and very often in addressing God, as Father. The God of A Course in Miracles is wholly benevolent. Of course the words are mere symbols of that which can’t be quantified – again, that Love which is beyond our comprehension. The masculine has been used because that is what we are familiar with; making an issue of the ‘gender’ is a distraction from the Truth of the message itself.
Getting around our ‘resistance’ to the Christian terminology or even the word ‘God’ is easy. Simply use whatever works for you as your own personal symbols of God’s Love. That could be Buddha, Krishna, the Divine, or Mother Mary or it may even be an angel. It’s all the same and there is no right or wrong in this. As for the Holy Spirit which has a fairly churchy ring to it, you may be more comfortable with Higher Self, Inner Guide, God Self, Soul, all terms most of us are familiar with. Simply use whatever works for you as a symbol of the wise loving presence within your mind.
The word ‘sin’ appears often in the Course, and it means ‘error’ or ‘separation’. The Course says that sin is an error made through the belief in separation, calling only for Loving correction. In line with other teachings, ‘sin’ is seen as ‘missing the mark’ (an archery term). If you struggle with the word ‘sin’, which for some of us is loaded with ideas of guilt, simply substitute the word ‘separation’ and see how that resonates with you. Here’s an example:
‘This is your brother, crucified by (sin) separation and waiting for release from pain’ and ‘ The goal of (sin) separation induces the perception of a fearful world.. ‘
Throughout the Course are references to the Son of God and this is different to the Christian term for ‘Son of God’. Christianity teaches that Jesus was the Son of God, and the only one. The Course refers to all of us as being the ‘Son of God’. We are the creations of God and if you gathered us all back together into One (which is what we are in truth) you’d have one Son of God.
The Son of God is also collectively referred to as the Sonship, and we are all ‘brothers’ in that Sonship. Brother is anyone in our lives – male or female, husband, wife, child, colleague or friend and extends to include absolutely every single seemingly individuated aspect of the collective. A more familiar term for Sonship could be ‘brotherhood’ yet in the Course’s respect this includes everyone; not an exclusive group as can be the common use of that term.
The word salvation appears many times and if this is uncomfortable initially, a wonderful synonym for this term is ‘awakening’ or ‘freedom’ – our salvation/awakening/freedom lies in our remembrance of who we truly are, which occurs as we work with the Course, seeking out all the barriers to our awareness of our true essence.
The word Atonement as it is used in the Course means the remembrance of our unity with our Source, and of our Divine Nature. To ‘remember the Atonement’ is to remember what is True, and this cancels out our mistaken belief in separation. A helpful way to think of it is to see the word ‘At-one-ment’. In truth we are ‘at-one’.
Lastly, as mentioned above, those new to the Course may be resistant to the male terminology; again this is understandable, yet we can either make an issue of it (which the ego loves to do!) or we can choose to overlook the form and move beyond it to that which can never be expressed in words – which is the Love beyond any word or symbol. It benefits us to focus rather on the inherent message and to simply accept that it has been presented to us in a form that we can understand – and that form is neutral until we give it any meaning of our own.
♥ This course remains within the ego framework, where it is needed..
It uses words, which are symbolic, and cannot express what lies
beyond symbols (Manual, p.73; C-in.3:1,3).
So, if in reading the Course you find yourself going ‘eeuuw!’ at the terminology, just smile and forgive the conditioning and ideas of the world that have influenced your perception. Resistance is to be expected for many of us and we’re invited to see these terms with new eyes. If you are studying the Course and you feel some resistance to its words and phrases, simply proceed whilst being gentle with yourself, and constantly ask the Holy Spirit to help you to see things differently.
My own experience has been that as I’ve worked with the Course, the fearful connotations I initially had with the Christian terms and symbols, based on my own past referencing, have simply dissolved. Blessedly they are not so scary any more! This is all part of the healing of mind and the undoing of the ego – an ongoing process that is beautifully guided by the loving presence of the Spirit within. ♥
There’s a well-known acronym for FEAR which is ‘false evidence appearing real’, but I quite like this one which came to me recently. It goes like this:
A Aspect… of my
Our ‘reality’ or true nature is Spirit and as such we are eternal, changeless, invulnerable beings, created whole and unlimited.. and NOTHING can threaten that. When we have a fearful thought and we believe it – basically when we feel frightened or anxious – in that moment all that’s happened is we’ve forgotten who we are!
Reflections on an Ayahuasca Experience
I am blessed with a husband whose spontaneity and multi-passions have taken us over the years to some interesting places, and on some unusual adventures. However, when he invited me last November to accompany him on a spiritual retreat in the jungles of Peru where we would partake not once, but several times, of a hallucinogenic substance known as ayahuasca, I felt this time he was pushing the envelope just a tad! This was he felt the radical and ‘visceral’ experience he needed at this point in his life and he would like my company, if I was amenable. To be honest I had no desire to go half way across the world to a jungle (think frogs, spiders, creepers, heat), or to experience the effects of any mind-altering substance – half a glass of wine is about as far as it goes for me!
Most of us are familiar with that toe-curling, tummy-twisting feeling of shame over something that we did or said and which we feel is irreparable. Whether it was 5 minutes ago or 50 years ago the memory produces a similar contraction and this can occur whether our error (as we perceive it) was minor or a ‘biggie’.
Recently I found myself talking with a friend about something she felt deep remorse over and which has weighed heavily on her heart for years. Self-forgiveness appeared out of reach and the ‘soul-eating’ emotion of shame (as described by Jung) was impacting on her life, behaviourally and physically. Of myself I found it difficult to find the right words, yet in turning to A Course in Miracles the help simply flowed. Sharing ‘what came’ allowed greater awareness and the warmth of healing light into my friend’s heart, and my hope is that what is written here may be helpful to anyone who may also be carrying a similar burden.
In navigating life’s inevitable and at times startling changeability and flux, over time my go-to mantra has become simply ‘I could see PEACE instead of this’ – from A Course in Miracles Workbook Lesson 34. ‘I could see peace instead of this’ settles me right back into that place of calm and surety, right back into remembering my path and my goal, and that I do not walk it alone. It assists me in getting back to my centre, from where I am best able to handle things.
It’s called A Course in Miracles, so what exactly is a miracle?
A miracle is a shift in perception
A miracle is a shift in perception, from fear to LOVE, from what is ‘false’ to what is True, from illusion to Reality. It’s a shift in perception over to the thinking of the ‘right-mind’, and is not a modification or a change of your thoughts. You literally move from one way of thinking which is the ego’s way of thinking to the thought system of the Holy Spirit, which is also within your mind. The big thing is that we have the CHOICE between the two – that’s our greatest power.
My reflections on walking the Camino de Santiago Compostela, Spain
In June 2012 my dear friend Sue invited me to join her on the Camino, the ancient pilgrimage that traverses northern Spain from St Jean in the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in western Spain. After much deliberation, a few weeks prior to Sue’s planned departure I said ‘yes please, I would love to join you!’ The back-pack was purchased, as well as comfy walking shoes. After packing far too much and with great excitement, Sue and I set off on the 27th June. After a journey via Istanbul and Madrid, we joined the Camino in a small town called Sarria, and in total we walked approximately 110km to Santiago, which qualifies us as ‘pilgrims’. The full distance for the Camino is 780km and takes 6 to 8 weeks to walk. We covered the distance much faster than we expected so we carried on a further 50km to the coast, to the very ‘end of the world’ at Finisterre, the official end of the Camino.
‘Why wait for Heaven? Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes.’ W.188
If you’re despairing of humanity, thinking there are too many of us and the world (or our country) is going to pot, and all of that exhausting stuff that is the content of so much conversation at present, then I would urge you to head into your local Pick n Pay or other supermarket (preferably in a smallish country town) – and definitely make sure you do so on pay day!
One day at ‘month-end’ I had the experience of being hugga-mugga amidst my fellow White Riverines, all busy doing their month end shop. Initially as I bravely forged my way into the fresh veg section my internal ‘preciousness’ told me this was going to be a nightmare. But I kicked that thought into touch and decided no, this was going to be awesome. And it was!