Posts categorized "Books"

How can a rational, educated person turn to spirituality?

I was raised Christian. For some time as a teenager, I was a true believer and reading the Bible or going to church brought me great comfort. But in college, I learned to place my faith in rationality and reason. I realized that the stories in the Bible cannot literally be true. I came to find religion silly and declared myself a proud agnostic.

For the next 22 years, my life as a non-believer was normal. There were constant peaks and valleys, good times and bad, but I played the game and accomplished almost everything that is supposed to make us happy.

Still, I lived in a constant state of stress, woke up frequently in the middle of the night with panicked thoughts, and suffered from pain and illness. I practiced deception and was needy in relationships. In business I was dishonest and, in friendship, I was always trying to prove superiority. Somehow nobody ever seemed to agree with me about how special I was—so I tried ever harder to conquer the world.

By age 40, my approach clearly wasn’t working. My life was falling apart, and my suffering was unbearable. Could I turn to the church for comfort? No. Not only did I not believe the stories, I utterly detest institutions and do not believe they offer salvation.

Then I started reading a book called A Course in Miracles. It isn’t a religion, but it does require its students to take a leap of faith. The author, Helen Schuckman, claims that Jesus appeared by her bedside and told her what to write. Obviously, I didn’t believe that to be literally true, but found the text fascinating and kept reading.

The thing is: every word in this book—which is about the same size as The Bible—is dripping with a wisdom and truth that is beyond question. There are no inconsistencies or holes—but you do need to suspend disbelief, to humble yourself, and to accept the use of words like “Jesus”, “God” and “Holy Spirit”. These are words I had strongly rejected for 22 years—and yet slowly I was beginning to embrace them.

If you truly go through it, A Course in Miracles offers assured salvation for anyone like me—someone who was raised Christian but has not been living the faith. It is not for everyone. If it is for you, you know.

I later found that there are also other paths that deliver spiritual awakening outside the structures of religion. For some, religion offers the community, the tradition, and the stories they need which often point to a higher truth. Others, like me, are turned off by conformity and ritual, and are suspicious about the worship of stories which are not exactly true. Yet we can agree, across faiths, that there is a higher truth!

For people like me, our path toward awakening is more of an inner journey, taken in freedom, guided by direct language—but we need the right guides or we will continue to be misled by our ego. 5 years later, I have been re-reading and writing about the book nearly every day. It always offers exactly what I need, and like any spiritually alive text, each time I read it I pick up something new. This is also the case with the works of Eckhart Tolle, the Tao Te Ching, and countless others.

Everything we care about: love, feeling good, health, fun—it is of the spiritual dimension. It cannot be seen or touched—it is formless. There is a spiritual dimension of truth and it is not of this world. It does not contradict rationality, it requires not that you believe in any crazy stories, but it does require a willingness to suspend disbelief and look at reality honestly.

This is what I write about and practice each day, and I wish you the same ongoing joy, freedom, and abundance in life that I have found—which is yours after spiritually awakening to consciousness and aligning with perfect love.

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Faith and vision and belief are meaningful only before the state of certainty is reached. (A Course in Miracles)

“In Heaven they are unknown. Yet Heaven is reached through them.”

These teachings are simple and are ultimately about just one thing: establishing complete certainty about love. This—the entering of heaven now, the awakening from the world’s dream of hell in this life and for eternity—cannot be achieved without first taking a leap of faith and trusting an inspired vision.

It is only through faith, vision, and belief that perfect love can be applied and put to the test in reality. Only when love is practiced completely, in every situation, can the truth about love be proven. This is how certainty is reached, and then there is no sliding back into confusion.

Establish faith, see the vision, and believe that perfect healing, total success, joy and salvation are possible. This is an inner journey that requires no sacrifice at all; rather, that you stop holding back your goodness, your truth, your passion, your freedom, your beauty.

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Erotic love is not love

In The Art of Loving, Erich Fromm writes “One can often find two people “in love” with each other who feel no love for anybody else. Their love is, in fact, an egotism a deux; they are two people who identify themselves with each other, and who solve the problem of separateness by enlarging the single individual into two. They have the experience of overcoming aloneness, yet, since they are separated from the rest of mankind, they remain separated from each other and alienated from themselves; their experience of union is an illusion.”

The word “love” is so badly misunderstood because this, what Erich Fromm calls “erotic love”, is the only meaning most people attach to the word. But, in the truest sense, erotic love isn’t love. It is like a drug, or a wild thrill that can be triggered by any intense feeling between two people who find each other physically attractive.

If this encompasses the full extent of one’s understanding of love, the experience of erotic love will be just as short and fleeting as it is intense. Eventually, the blissful feelings begin to fade, and there arises a desire to move on to the next relationship, as though it will be different the next time.

Erotic love is one of the greatest thrills of life, a celebration of being alive, and is almost surely the most fun an adult can have. But it is not the source of love, it is not salvation, and clearly not the path toward lasting happiness.

To achieve lasting joy and the end of suffering, we need what I call perfect, or unconditional love. Erich Fromm breaks this down into self-love, brotherly love, motherly and fatherly love, and the love of God—which are all forms of real love that are experienced from beyond the ego.

Only a person who first comes to know love can experience erotic love in a way that is entirely different—even opposite from—the way romantic relationships and marriages are typically experienced. To the awakened person (one who fully knows what love is), the erotic relationship is joyful play and just as fun as ever; but there is no pressure to make it more than it is. This is true love, or what A Course in Miracles calls the holy relationship.     

 

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The life review and the near-death experience

In Mark Gober’s extensively researched book, An End to Upside Down Thinking, he examines thousands of personal accounts of near-death experiences (when a person’s body and brain is physically dead for a short time and then brought back to life). One of his fascinating findings is the regular reporting of what is called a “life review.”

As reported by one individual, “Every second from birth until death you will see and feel, and you will experience your emotions and others that you hurt, and feel their pain and emotions. What this is for is so you can see what kind of person you were and how you treated others from another vantage point.”

This is all experienced in an instant—a total picture of the truth of your life and that of everyone who you affected. Others even reported seeing truths that their spouses or loved ones kept hidden. Think about that.

Another individual who experienced this explains, “Not only did I perceive everything from my own viewpoint, but I also knew the thoughts of everyone involved in the event, as if I had their thoughts within me. This meant that I perceived not only what I had done or thought, but even in what way it had influenced others.”

Read this breakthrough book yourself and come to your own conclusions about the nature of consciousness, but ask yourself this: if, at the moment of death, everything true about our lives is revealed to us in an instant—if this is part of the process that determines what happens to us when we die—and if everyone we love will go through the same process when they die—do we want to lie to anyone we love? Do we want to harm anyone and be forced to confront the effects in our dying moment? Do we want anyone we love to have to deal with what we have kept hidden in their dying moment?

The near-death experience and the life review teach us to choose unconditional love now and always, while we are alive. We can always be honest and open about everything. We can always be accepting and forgiving so that others can do the same.

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Posted by Abscondo

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A Course in Miracles echoes the Law of Attraction

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If you are attacked, it must be that you think attack thoughts, see attack as real, and maybe you have even attacked others first.

Attack comes in many forms beyond the obvious: reward and punishment, or making any attempt to control or manipulate others, being among them.

To impose your will upon another is to attack. If you think this is your right, your relationships will be hell. Why? Because your beliefs are mistaken and not aligned with reality. What appears to be happening to you is merely the inevitable consequence of a fundamental error.

Learn to see any attack as a cry for love, and respond accordingly to end all conflict.

If you are lonely, it must be that you are choosing to cut yourself off. Open your heart and mind to love in all forms, while continuing to cherish freedom, openness, and honesty. Loneliness will surely disappear.

If you are depressed or fearful, it must be that you believe the news media is real, that centralized institutions have legitimate power and authority, or that politicians are capable of doing anything to you.

You have complete authority over you, and there is nothing external to fear. But you must know your identity as consciousness, as love, not a body.

You are not helpless. You make happen what is happening to you. You can choose to end all your problems only by changing how you think and see...by placing all your faith in love.

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Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world. (A Course in Miracles)

For post 605, I would like to share a long quote from A Course in Miracles.

“T-2 1.i.4. The blind become accustomed to their world by their adjustments to it. They think they know their way about in it. They learned it, not through joyous lessons, but through the stern necessity of limits they believe they could not overcome. And still believing this, they hold those lessons dear, and cling to them because they cannot see. They do not understand the lessons keep them blind. This they do not believe. And so they keep the world they learned to “see” in their imagination, believing that their choice is that or nothing. They hate the world they learned through pain. And everything they think is in it serves to remind them that they are incomplete and bitterly deprived.

T-2 1.i.5. Thus they define their life and where they live, adjusting to it as they think they must, afraid to lose the little that they have. And so it is with all who see the body as all they have and all their brothers have. They try to reach each other, and they fail, and fail again. And they adjust to loneliness, believing that to keep the body is to save the little that they have. Listen, and try to think if you remember what we will speak of now.”

There is another way—a life of true vision rather than illusion. It is, very simply, a life dedicated to loving thoughts each moment. Love is what gives meaning to everything. Where there is no love, there is no meaning. What is meaningless is chaos. Where we see chaos, suffering, destruction, and injustice, we are looking upon a hell that was made without loving thoughts.

Love is consciousness, itself, and is beyond thought. But the mind’s function is thought. A mind that has forgotten love—that has never learned its complete thought system and has, instead, adopted the thought system of a sick world—is a mind that is ill.

From that root illness flows the infinite varieties of illness. But a mind that has learned the thought system of love has attained complete wisdom and is perfectly healed. This is salvation, enlightenment, redemption, joy, and everything you do want.
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On this planet, normal equals insane. (Eckhart Tolle)

“What is it that lies at the root of this insanity? Complete identification with thought and emotion—that is to say, ego.”

What is insanity? A disease of the mind—the psychological state of someone who has emotional or behavioral problems. An insane mind believes that it is you—and that it, and its’ thought systems, its’ beliefs, and its’ institutional affiliations comprise the highest and only authority.

Never mind that a person in the grip of ego is often depressed, gets mad, acts out, argues, attacks, and brings all kinds of toxic, negative energy into any situation. Never mind that there is always this stress, anxiety, frequent illness, poor health, and ongoing suffering on some level. Never mind that the thought systems, beliefs, and viewpoints frequently change. Never mind that the ego’s strategies always fail and freedom, love and happiness are always illusive.

Success is always just around the corner. Sacrifice more. Work harder. Do whatever it takes to get ahead. If only this would change, that would go away, this person would apologize…if only the entire world would be different from how it is…then I could finally be happy.

Yes, this is insanity. And it is completely normal in this world. There is a different way to live. It is the recognition of unconditional love as supreme (not your thoughts), the embrace of the present moment as all there is, and the acceptance of reality as reality. In other words, awakening.

The awakened mind is aligned with wisdom and truth. It is no longer dysfunctional or, when it occasionally is, then you (the real you, consciousness itself, the observer of the thoughts) can recognize the dysfunction and let it go.

So, the choice is this: you can either be normal or you can have lasting happiness. But you can’t have both. The way isn’t hard, but it is very different.

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What does A Course in Miracles say about present moment awareness?


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Everything shifts, moves around, and changes form...but nothing is ever lost and nothing more can be gained.

To simply recognize this is to live in perfect abundance in all areas of life, in perfect peace, in perfect joy.

Time is an illusion of the ego, as is getting, having, and losing.

Can we not learn to simply recognize reality and accept it, or must we imagine a reality that cannot be and then fear the idea of its non-existence?

Perfect love is the total recognition and acceptance of reality as reality.

Reality is all there is, and it is eternal. Let is join together here, in eternity, with perfect vision.

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Everything the ego tells you that you need will hurt you. (A Course in Miracles)

“Although the ego urges you again and again to get, it leaves you nothing. For what you get it will demand of you.”

You are not at home in time; rather, in eternity. The ego seeks happiness and safety by denying the unavoidable realities of material existence, which is always unstable, always shifting and temporary. It seeks to get more and then to hold onto it—even if that means sacrificing your joy, your freedom, your entire life.

A Course in Miracles teaches us to trust in the energy of love, which it also calls the Holy Spirit, which I might also call the force of life itself or consciousness—which will always provide everything we need in the ongoing present moment without asking for any sacrifice and without stealing any joy.

It knows that the material world is shifting and unstable, that our physical form will grow, change, and then die—but to align with the thought system and energy of love is to know that, in its embrace, you are always safe, you will always have everything you need, and when something is no longer useful you can let it go.

The worldly answers of the psychologists, the educators, and all the so-called authorities combined know nothing other than confusion, but they are great teachers. Take in the lessons of the world, but evaluate everything within the perfect knowledge of love. You will not error, you will not lack, and you will know no fear. Love knows no fear because fear is your mind’s natural reaction to error. “Sin is where love is not,” and sin is nothing other than error that can be corrected in love. Fear can only exist within you to the extent love does not.

“Therefore, ask not of yourself what you need; for you do not know. And your advice to yourself will hurt you. For what you think you need will merely serve to tighten up your world against the light, and render you unwilling to question the value that this world can really hold for you.” (All quotes from A Course in Miracles). We continue tomorrow and each day after that.
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The world you see must be denied, for sight of it is costing you a different kind of vision. (A Course in Miracles)

“You do not really want the world you see, for it has disappointed you since time began.” You cannot see the world and at the same time see the spiritual reality. There is a choice: one must be made real and the other denied. One contains everything you want, the other everything you do not want.

When you allow pollution to come into your awareness—whether it be the fear-mongering of the government, the corporate media, the deception of advertising, or negative ideas and conversations—you are pulled away from joy, which is your natural state of being. What you give your attention to must not pull you away from joy, from an underlying sense of ease, from the state where there is calm and peace within. When it does pull you away, you can stop, change course, do a meditation, take a nap, you can do something that makes you feel good and then start again. This is how real problems are solved and progress is made.

Anything done, said, or created when you don’t feel good is a miscreation. All the ugliness of this world was miscreated by people who were detached from the natural state of joy within. All that ugliness cannot be fought from a place of ugliness, but it can be ignored and left to die.

I do not give any attention or reality to error. I do not debate. I do not get outraged. I am not afraid—for this would make error seem real, to give it power it does not have, and to pull me away from joy. Spiritual vision looks within to recognize and embrace reality, and my reality is identical to yours if you will do the same. It is love.

Our lives are shaped by where we put our attention. Find the source of love within, where you remember perfectly well that you are innocent and complete. Feel your positive energy growing. Stay connected to this place in all your thinking and doing, ignoring all else. The reality of love, the only reality, is the only power, the energy of life itself, which contains everything you want within it. We continue tomorrow and each day after that.

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Posted by Abscondo

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