Archives for May 2017
Rev. Carrie Christiansen and our ACOL Study Group take turns reading and discussing the book.
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I want to simplify this lesson so it is most helpful. Instead of focusing on sickness, I want to focus on defenses against truth.
We all have our ways of defending against the truth and then denying that we are the one who set up those defenses. Sickness has never been a big defense for me, although I can see that it is for some people. I have used ‘responsibility’ and ‘busyness’ much more than I have used sickness to defend against truth.
Let’s look at what this lesson has to say about the defenses we set up against truth:
~ “Defenses are not unintentional nor are they made without awareness.” — In other words, there is a conscious decision in favor of the defense. If my defense is sickness, there could be a tickle in the throat and then an immediate, even somewhat pleasurable, acceptance of, “I’m getting sick,” before I move into suffering. If my defense is busyness, there could be the joy of complaining about how busy I am to others. Or it might show up as using time on unimportant things first, until once again I create that sense of being too busy. Etc.
~ “They seem to be unconscious but because of the rapidity with which you choose. … It is this quick forgetting of the part you play in making your ‘reality’ that makes defenses seem to be beyond your own control.” — Whatever our defenses are, we create situations that keep us from seeking truth with our whole heart, whole mind and whole soul. Most people, wanting to believe their defenses are genuine, deny that they choose them. However if we watch ourselves carefully, we will find ourselves making the choices that create defense situations. It can be seen, if we want to see it. (Remember not to judge yourself for what you find when you watch to discover your own defenses, but it is helpful to see how you block your own awakening so you can start to make different decisions when a similar choice-opportunity comes around again.)
~ “Yet who believes illusions but the one who made them up? Who else can see them and react to them as if they were the truth?” — And this is what we do. Whether our defense is sickness, family responsibility, busyness or something else, we decide to let it get in the way of seeking truth, and then we believe the situation is a genuine block that renders us helpless, because that is what we want to believe about it.
~ “[Truth] does not command obedience … Truth merely wants to give you happiness, for such its purpose is.” — We have the power to delay our own awakening for as long as we want. Truth will not force itself on us. We are the ones who need to ask ourselves, “What do I really want?” If we decide that we are interested in truth realization, then it is helpful to find how we defend against it.
Hint: If you want to find how you defend against truth, start listening to yourself. What do you complain about? Your defense hides there.
Also, how do you finish this sentence?: “I’m not able to do the Gentle Healing homework (or not able to journal, or contemplate, or meditate, etc) because …”
Your defense shows up at the end of that sentence.
Now remember, you might not at first believe that is your defense. It may seem like a genuine situation that is out of your control, but this lesson teaches us that we set up our defenses to look that way.
Since memory can be faulty, I don’t recommend looking into the past to see if you set up this defense. If the defense is still an obstacle for you, it is because you continue to set it up as an obstacle now. Watch yourself going forward. Watch yourself for those quick decisions that you make that keep this defense in place so you can continue to avoid awakening.
Let’s bring awareness to the tricks that we play on ourselves. Let’s do this together, in love, as mighty companions joined in purpose.
“It is a great gift to realize, that the belief, ‘I can control,’ is actually a burden, not a source of empowerment.” Karl R. Smerecnik
Regina Dawn Akers guides a group of committed students who would like to make consistent, gentle progress toward genuine peace, joy and love. This group meets weekly and all members are committed to specific assignments and practices between group meetings. Everyone who is willing to make a commitment to healing/awakening is invited to join this group.
Homework for the upcoming week:
Homework Assignment A: Workbook lessons 136-140. Stay with Lesson 139 for two days and stay with Lesson 140 for two days. Practice daily awareness-watching-awareness meditation for 15-20 minutes each day. Practice the “Loving All” Method.
Homework Assignment B: Read NTI 2 Peter, Chapters 1-3 (pages 437-441)
Homework Assignment C: Watch “How to direct the attention to yourself” with Alon Geva. It can be found in the Gentle Healing Playlist.
Facilitated by Rev. Jacquelyn Eckert & Connie Poole
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Today’s lesson is about Self-inquiry, ‘Who am I?’ And then it is about taking Self-inquiry one-step further by living from the answer.
Today’s lesson tells us that we use many forms of defense to try to protect who we think we are, and in so doing we hide the truth about ourselves from ourselves. We try to protect the body, because we think we are the body. We try to protect the psyche, because we think we are the psyche. Yet we are neither.
One form of defense that today’s lesson talks about is health. All of us take some steps each day to protect the health of the body, such as eating food, drinking water, possibly taking vitamins, etc. Is this wrong? I think not. We also take care of our homes, our yards, our automobiles, etc. Basic actions that come naturally are not the problem. Obsessive thinking about health & attempts to CONTROL health are the problems.
A question we can ask ourselves is, “Do I think excessively about the health (or safety or appearance) of the body?” If so, attachment to the body is a block to truth for you.
Today’s lesson tells us that the body “need merely be perceived as quite apart from you.” — Practice Self-inquiry. Ask, “Who am I?” and look to discover the truest answer to that question. “This is the body’s only real defense. Yet is this where you look for its defense?”
Another form of defense that today’s lesson talks about is planning. We may plan for the protection of the body or we may plan for the protection of the psyche. Either way, the “mind engaged in planning for itself is occupied in setting up CONTROL of future happenings.”
Does this mean it is wrong to plan a lunch date with a friend or plan to go to a retreat or on vacation? I think not. This is not referring to practical planning that is naturally a part of a human life. Obsessive thinking about the future and attempts to CONTROL future outcomes are the problem.
A question we can ask ourselves is, “Do I think I need some things to go a certain way in order for me to be safe/happy?” If so, you have become attached to the psyche’s idea of itself, and that is a block to truth for you.
Today’s lesson tells us that “self-initiated plans … are the means by which a frightened mind would undertake its own protection, at the cost of truth.” — Practice Self-inquiry. Ask, “Who am I?” and look to discover the truest answer to that question.
Today’s lesson recommends that we live from the answer to our Self-inquiry. Instead of falling back into ways of being that are intended to protect the body or psyche as who I am, the lesson suggests, “Let no defenses but your PRESENT TRUST direct the future, and this life becomes a meaningful encounter with the truth…”
There is a difference between trying to control things and living from present trust. There is a difference in how they feel. This difference in feeling gives us the opportunity to be honest with ourselves, if we pay attention.
Will we accept whatever experiences come in this lifetime, whether they are what we would have preferred or not, and use them to further our awareness of truth?
Whether I am sick or healthy, I can ask, “Who am I?” and see the answer. Whether I am rich or poor, I can ask, “Who am I?” and see the answer. Whether I live in one place or another, am married or single, have this or that, I can ask, “Who am I?” and see the answer.
What if we live our lives in this way?: Although some basic planning and taking care of one’s body will occur, the attitude is one of openness, allowance and trust with only the purpose of truth realization. For example, what if I plan for a vacation, pay for a vacation and then something occurs. I cannot go and I lose the money paid. Can I live with that as happily as I would have lived with the vacation? After all, going or not going can both be a distraction from Self-inquiry, and Self-inquiry can occur whether I go or don’t go, so has anything really changed at all?
Instead of living from our beliefs about who we think we are, let’s begin to live from Self-inquiry with self-honestly.
Pay attention to yourself. What beliefs about yourself are you living from?
“Awakening is not an option or a choice. It’s a call from God to question what it is that seems to separate you. Awakening is a willingness, while still in the belief you are someone, to become no one at the feet of God.” Rita Friedman
Forgiveness is letting go of the mind. Or said another way, it is letting go of believing the chatter in one’s mind.
With that said, there are some helpful pointers in today’s lesson.
1. “Because you think your sins are real, you look on pardon as deception.” – I would word that this way: Because you think your thoughts are true, you think letting go of them is foolish.
It doesn’t matter if the chatter that plagues you now is fear about the future, a grievance against another person, a judgment against yourself or something else. The reason it is not let go and forgotten is because you think it is true. You think your mind is right.
Why do you think your mind is right? When there are so many people on the planet who would have a different perspective than you, what makes you so sure that your mind is right?
As one’s mind rises up to comprehend truth, one is happy. When one’s thinking is in harmony with truth, one is happy. If one is not happy, the current thinking IS NOT TRUE. You really do not need any other measure. If you are happy and at peace, fine; let your thoughts be. But if you are not, trust that your thoughts are wrong, and let them go. That is forgiveness.
2. “Forgiveness is the only thing that stands for truth in the illusions of the world. It sees their nothingness … and merely says to them, ‘… what you think is not truth.'” – Whenever you are not happy, this is what you need to say to yourself: What you think is not truth.
When a situation is upsetting you, don’t try to figure it out. When peace comes, you will know what to do. Instead, realize your thinking is not true. (You know that, because you are upset.) And let your thinking go. The sooner you let it go, the better. You do not have to go deeper into suffering before you decide to let go of thinking that is causing fear or unhappiness.
3. “The strength of pardon is honesty, … it sees illusions as illusions, not truth.” – In this context we need to see ‘pardon’ as ‘letting go.’ Letting go is ceasing to put attention on it.
It was helpful for me to see that I was being honest when I chose to let go of mental chatter. It was also helpful for me to realize I was willingly deceiving myself whenever I kept my attention with mental chatter. I knew I did not want to deceive myself, so this helped me to let it go.
4. “[Forgiveness] opens up the way to truth.” – It was also helpful to realize that if I chose to believe my mind’s chatter, I was blocking truth. If I want truth realization, I must free up space within the mind by letting go of the mental chatter that crowds it.
5. “do not allow your mind to dwell” – Today’s lesson is speaking in specifics when it says this, but I feel this is good to remember as a generalization. Do not allow your mind to dwell on any thought. If dwelling is happening, distortion and deception are happening. Dwelling, distortion and deception go hand-in-hand.
6. “Forgiveness must be practiced.” – In the movie, “Peaceful Warrior,” Socrates said there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. “Wisdom,” he said, “is doing it.” In other words, to know about forgiveness, but not to practice it, is not wisdom. Wisdom is practicing it. In fact, wisdom is practicing it, not occasionally, but with every opportunity that is given. Each time you notice your mind dwells with a line of thinking that is not creating joy in you, be honest with yourself. The current thinking is not truth. And for that reason, let it go
“If my boat has holes, I cannot blame water for drowning me.” Bhupinder Singh