Steve Ford described his awakening experience to Rick Archer in a Buddha at the Gas Pump interview in this way:
“I stood before God—Omnipresent Reality—with the true intention; I handed over my thinking in a prayer position, and there was a point where as I let go there was a slight sense of sadness, a slight sense of disappointment that I had with myself having to give the Creator my thinking back, because it felt like I’d done nothing with it. I felt very sad. I felt, “I’m sorry, but take the thinking back, because I’ve not done much good with this.” I felt I’d disappointed God. …
At that point, the mind began to open. It was a point where I’d let go of the tension of identification. Now, I didn’t know that at the time, but what I did was … I totally didn’t identify with the mind, because I knew mind was not real. … And at the point of knowing it is not real, it was still the scariest thing to let go of. So, letting go of that, I felt where I disidentified with it—where I let go of attachment to it as a reality principle—it started to open. Because the mind, when you are attached with it, becomes contracted. It’s like an energy, a tight contraction. And of course, when I was no longer attached with it, it just began to open up.
As it opened up, it went beyond the coordinate that I’d set on it, which is the egoic mark, the control you have on mind, the idea you have. And so as it began to open, it went beyond the idea of who I was as a mental construct, and so beyond the mental construct of who I thought I was. There was a fear. A fear of, “Oh, what’s going to happen here?” But I was so broken, so completely broken, [Note from Regina: This happened at a point when Steve was feeling complete desperation and failure in his life] that I just stayed with it. I thought, “Let’s just do it.”
It dissipated. I describe it as birds flying out of a tree. It felt like my thoughts just dissipated. All of the thoughts in my mind just flew away like a flock of birds. And just at that point, there was this opening. The thoughts went and the mind just became this blank screen, and there was this perfect observation of blank screen.
I remember, for the first time in my life, coming to know peace of mind. … You know when they say, “The mind is the sky and the thoughts are clouds.” It really is! That is exactly how it was. Suddenly, there was this infinite sky of mind, which became… It’s like a projection screen. But what is observing that is this pure awareness, this pure consciousness.
And at that point, I realized, “Ah! I’m not mad. I’m not dead. I’ve not disappeared. I am observing this. And I’m observing from this undifferentiated awareness. And the mind became the perfect reflection of what was observing, which was nothing. Emptiness, you see?
This happened! [He snaps his finger.] There was no thinking!
At that point, I remember suddenly being pulled into a deeper idea, which was an emotional idea, because we have layers of thought. We have the thought that is very abstract [points at the head], the thought that is emotional, and we have the thought that is very physical, the body. I didn’t know this then, but this is what happened. So suddenly there was a pull to a deeper aspect of contraction within my body. You see, the mind opened up, so suddenly there was nothing to keep me from entering what I call the heart area. Suddenly there was a pull, and I felt myself as formless consciousness coming down into my heart area. And as I was going down, I just stayed with formless consciousness. There was no egoic “I” anymore, no mental construct of doership anymore. … As I was going into the heart, … suddenly the heart begins to open because I wasn’t doing anything with it [Comment from Regina: There was no longer a doer trying to keep the heart from opening.], … and as it begins to open there was a pain, but it was a clean pain. A pain where there was no suffering, because suffering is in the mind, you see. …
As I felt this pain, it was like the pain of the world. … This voice came from nowhere; it was like a voice from within this. It said, “You’ve been running away from this all your life.”
And I understood then, I’d been running away from my heart opening. I had remained in what I knew all my life. Suddenly, I am going beyond what I knew. I’d done that with the mind, but now on this level, the emotional level, this was on a much deeper level. The emotional attachment we have for things is much deeper and is much stronger, you see. [Said with a look of seriousness.]
And then it opened up, and all there was, was a void. Going beyond the emotional contraction of my identity, there was just this void. It was absolutely black.
I don’t want to appear too dramatic. I don’t want to frighten anyone. But for me, I then was facing this very dark void. And then this void was pulling me in.
As I was being pulled into this vortex, this void, there was another voice came in. It said, “You’ll either go mad or you’ll die.” And I consented. I said, “Okay.” Not verbally, but in my innermost. Intentionally, I said okay. And I was pulled into this vortex, this very dark vortex, and as I got pulled in, it just felt like the whole thing opened up, and as I got pulled in there was a point where I truly did not exist; for no time! It was like a [claps his hands together once]!
As soon as I got pulled in, I could then see From. And at that point, there was a point of absolute death, complete death of attachments. There was no attachment anymore to the mental structure or the emotional structure, so much so that everything had opened up and it truly reflected what was directly observing. And the void, in fact, was a reflection of the absolute. [He smiles.] …
I could see. I could see, basically. And I could see from a completely, completely different reality base to what I was before. Totally.”
I shared this description of Steve’s awakening, because today’s workbook lesson asks us to, “Request Him now to give the means by which this world will disappear, and vision first will come, with knowledge but an instant later.” We are told, “This the gift by which God leans to us and lifts us up, taking salvation’s final step Himself. All steps but this we learn instructed by His Voice. But finally He comes Himself, and takes us in His Arms and sweeps away the cobwebs of our sleep.”
We are asked to ask God to awaken us.
Steve says in his interview with Rick Archer, “This is something you can’t just go and do. It has to do with timing, to do with pressure. In that moment, what was going on inside of me, I was falling apart. There was absolutely no sense of authenticity. … I just thought, “Okay. I’ll let go of my thinking.” And for some reason it worked. … I could tell someone else, ‘Go, get on your knees now and hand over your thinking. It will just go away and you’ll be fine,’ and it just doesn’t work that way. Because then the ego says, “Right. I’m going to get it now.” [Note from Regina: The ego’s perspective is getting. Steve’s intention was letting go, even to the point of death.]
As Steve points out, it may not work if we ask today for God’s grace of awakening, because it may be the ego that is asking. If one feels completely ready for the death of the ego, the time is right. If the ego wants awakening for itself, the time is not right.
So, what do we do with today’s lesson? My recommendation is a day of deep contemplation and sincere prayer. Read Steve’s description and contemplate it. If you like, watch his video. I will post it below. Read today’s Course lesson and contemplate it. If you have The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, read Chapter 7 and contemplate that. If you feel drawn to some other video or book, then trust your feeling and contemplate that. Get as deep into your sincere heart as you can today, and pray the prayers that are sincere for you.
Here is the link to the Steve Ford interview. If you do not have time for the entire interview, start at 44 minutes and listen for at least 15 minutes.