On Waking Up is back: A New Beginning
By 2010, writing became a new form through which the teachings could reach me. I was applying the teachings of True Forgiveness from ACIM (which were being enhanced by the teachings I was receiving from The Brothers) as well as I could, and I felt compelled to write my day-to-day experiences and understandings down. I felt a deep part of my mind could open to new depths in the writing process, and the honest words and humor that would come somehow illuminated the wisdom for me....it felt like Me teaching me.
I had 3 rules for myself to avoid ego traps - 1) be honest and write only what came from an authentic experience, 2) write only when inspired, or prompted, to do so, so that it stayed authentic, 3) stay "in my own business" as Byron Katie would say -- i.e. my thoughts, feelings, and experiences are not the world's fault. To stay in integrity, it was important that I keep the subject matter clear of other people.
In 2012 I left Washington to attend a music festival in Utah at an ACIM monastery, and I never returned after I felt compelled to join their spiritual community. At that time, I stopped writing for the most part as my lessons came in different forms, such as song-writing and playing music.
I've seen some advice against such groups. I'll say ACIM is a self-study course and, as such, it does not promote spiritual community, churches, gurus, etc. However, it also makes clear that each of us will live a life of lessons that is "highly individualized." Therefore it does not prescribe or prohibit ANYTHING in the world. All forms are equally neutral and can be used for learning. In my case, I did not feel it was a "choice" in the sense of a goal that I moved towards. I simply found, like we sometimes do, that all roads closed except the one that led this way, which in a way seemed the most unlikely thing in the world to be happening. My heart felt a strong "yes" to an invitation received, and the reflections around me also matched this Yes. I love when the next step is made so unambiguous for us.
My time in Utah among fellow ACIM students and teachers in a shared living space was rich, and I'm sure much time was compressed. I healed in deep ways, experienced a lot of joy and love and appreciation, and had more mystic experiences that felt like the veil had been pulled back so I could see a profound Reality underlying the mundane one. I experienced "high" illuminations, and I had days of feeling blissfully transparent and fluid with no position for or against. I felt as though I was The YES to the Flow of Life.
I noticed those were very enticing states, but they would come and go. I began to see one can become addicted to spiritual highs like any other kind. It is not a judgement against them. They are helpful. But they are phenomenal. The ego will seek and grasp for them, and then that leads to the same old pleasure/pain cycle.
I also experienced a lot more of the hidden darkness in my mind. After a time, I saw that I could no longer discern between what was True and what was a very sneaky spiritual ego inflating itself. Once this had been brought to my conscious awareness, I left the community, not because it was their fault, but because the Truth that drew me there drew me away. The lesson felt complete at that level, although there has been more to understand and forgive in my mind relating to spiritual teachers, hierarchy, in-the-world-not-of-the-world confusion and other issues. They were only my very helpful mirrors bringing up painful beliefs.
Perhaps that chapter can be summed up this way: I still had "motives," such as to end pain in my life, to be a good person, to live a happy abundant life (albeit in a new form), to have a fulfilling lifestyle with like-minded people. There is nothing wrong with all that.
But my goal was Truth. Truth is not a form in the world, as we know. And Truth can speak through anything, including a person like a teacher or a teaching like A Course In Miracles. When I sometimes felt I had to choose between the teacher/teaching/book/community"out there" and my inner sense of being aligned with Truth, I felt insane. This pain helped me see the sneaky way the ego can still operate when I take form --people, places, goals, concepts, etc. -- seriously. All desire, except the desire for peace, can do this.
This is where all ego journeys start and end, cycling around and around, trying this and trying that, going to this teacher and that one. We did it in the world with money and careers and family, and then we do it with religion and spirituality. It never ends...until we stop seeking. So this chapter exposed the seeker in a dramatic way like nothing else had done before. And it was just my experience, not everyone's. For many reasons, it was a beautifully efficient lesson and one for which I am very grateful.
Since 2014, the Truth has been pointing me back to the people and structures that I'd left. Thankfully, I still had two sons and life "responsibilities." Grace operated so swiftly and effortlessly in my life to rearrange the world in such beautiful ways once I gave my willingness. It was not overnight, yet it seems that way in retrospect, like flipping the page in a book. We were all the better for it, because no one heals alone.
Today I feel to pick up the proverbial pen here again. Perhaps to set straight these thoughts for myself after several years of learning and deepening and looking at all the thoughts within. Perhaps new teachings are coming for me in this way, and I am clearing the deck, so to speak. Or maybe not!
On my mind today is a special description of Forgiveness or Love that had come through me as a beautiful teaching a few years earlier. It is more pertinent and meaningful to me now:
"Imagine a Mother. Like Sleeping Beauty awakened, she's out of her slumber only to find a great need that she alone can fill. It's the children! She sets the table with her finest china, polishes the silver until it gleams, and lights the candles. With a feast spread out on the table, she goes to the front door, and she calls Home all the Children. Come Home!! She will own and mother and nurture all the little children, who are innocent, though they've lived as dirty orphans left to run the streets and wreak havoc in the world. They have been the only cause of all the chaos and suffering, but they have only needed to be Heard. So she sits down with them, serves them each a heaping plate, and says to each one, "What are you about? Tell me everything. I'm sorry. I'm listening now." They have been acting innocently...they have been acting out a Call for Love ...it has all been no more serious than the toddler who is over-tired and stamps his foot and throws his toys."
I am the Mother. You are the Mother. The ego -- all the images, thoughts, and feelings --they are God, too, innocent and wanting to come Home. We can listen to it, understand it, answer its Call for Love with care. No lofty, non-dual ideas, meditation, or special living arrangements can do what only this Very Present Love can do.
Even A Course in Miracles says "Forget this Course." We do outgrow the concepts if we're progressing. When we arrive at the destination, we don't try to take the bus with us.
So I have made much progress, brought much to conscious awareness, and lived more peace. And there's still a way in which I've sometimes strong-armed my world, trying to keep it at an arm's length away while I frantically sought an escape. When ACIM is most helpful, it is in my mind. Other teachings have also become dear to me such as Advaita via Ramana Maharshi and Robert Adams and The Work by Byron Katie, both of which are not so much teachings as they are tools for Self inquiry.
The only way out is Love. Love is total acceptance to What Is. Love is awareness, understanding, deep listening, Seeing without judgement. And I am always at beginning...it is like an incessant prayer within me: "Help me begin now."
So, Reader, here we are together again. The shoe leather is a little more worn and we have more stories to share with each other... a few more wrinkles and gray hairs, too. But our legs are strong! And our countenance is Calm. And Look---the sun is shining so brightly, happy to Light our Way.....