Questions

Relationships

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Is it ever right to give up on a relationship?

Question: This is a difficult question to ask. Is it ever right to give up on a relationship? Is it always the ego that is seeking for love and not finding it? I seem to see some couples that seem to have "loving" relationships, and yet, this eludes me, although I have been in the same relationship for over 35 years.

I have struggled so often with the feeling that I am flogging a dead horse. Yet, because I have studied the Course for several years, I am deeply aware that the Son of God (my partner), always deserves my love, and honor. When I get depressed about my relationship, I remind myself not to focus on what I want, but to refocus on how much I can give to the relationship—knowing that giving is receiving. Occasionally, there is a glimmer of light, but for the most part, it's cloudy.

I don't want to give up on this person, or relationship–but it sure doesn't feel good.

Answer: Thanks for writing. In ACIM, Christ teaches that the one right use of judgment is "how do you feel?" Yes, it is always the ego that is seeking for love and not finding it. And yes the Son of God always deserves our love and honor, for Christ is our Self. You have written: "When I get depressed about my relationship, I remind myself not to focus on what I want, but to refocus on how much I can give to the relationship - knowing that giving is receiving." Focus on the state of mind that you truly want, peace, and see that your peace of mind is the gift you give. It is true that giving is receiving, for Christ extends peace and experiences the peace that is extended. Just remember that gifts are not made through bodies if they be truly given. Your beatitude of peace is the gift, and if you seem to be depressed it is because you are attempting to deprive yourself of giving/receiving the gift.

As a metaphor for Awakening in ACIM, Christ describes three seeming "levels" of teaching. These are stepping stones to learning that giving and receiving are one, for in Truth there are no levels of Love and this is a Course in Teaching Only Love:

"The teachers of God have no set teaching level. Each teaching-learning situation involves a different relationship at the beginning, although the ultimate goal is always the same: to make of the relationship a holy relationship, in which both can look upon the Son of God as sinless. There is no one from whom a teacher of God cannot learn, so there is no one whom he cannot teach. However, from a practical point of view he cannot meet everyone, nor can everyone find him. Therefore, the plan includes very specific contacts to be made for each teacher of God. There are no accidents in salvation. Those who are to meet will meet, because together they have the potential for a holy relationship. They are ready for each other.

The simplest level of teaching appears to be quite superficial. It consists of what seem to be very casual encounters; a ‘chance’ meeting of two apparent strangers in an elevator, a child who is not looking where he is going running into an adult ‘by chance,’ two students ‘happening' to walk home together. These are not chance encounters. Each of them has the potential for becoming a teaching-learning situation. Perhaps the seeming strangers in the elevator will smile to one another, perhaps the adult will not scold the child for bumping into him; perhaps the students will become friends. Even at the level of the most casual encounter, it is possible for two people to lose sight of separate interests, if only for a moment. That moment will be enough. Salvation has come.

It is difficult to understand that levels of teaching the universal course is a concept as meaningless in reality as is time. The illusion of one permits the illusion of the other. In time, the teacher of God seems to begin to change his mind about the world with a single decision, and then learns more and more about the new direction as he teaches it. We have covered the illusion of time already, but the illusion of levels of teaching seems to be something different. Perhaps the best way to demonstrate that these levels cannot exist is simply to say that any level of the teaching-learning situation is part of God's plan for Atonement, and His plan can have no levels, being a reflection of His Will. Salvation is always ready and always there. God's teachers work at different levels, but the result is always the same.

Each teaching-learning situation is maximal in the sense that each person involved will learn the most that he can from the other person at that time. In this sense, and in this sense only, we can speak of levels of teaching. Using the term in this way, the second level of teaching is a more sustained relationship, in which, for a time, two people enter into a fairly intense teaching-learning situation and then appear to separate. As with the first level, these meetings are not accidental, nor is what appears to be the end of the relationship a real end. Again, each has learned the most he can at the time. Yet all who meet will someday meet again, for it is the destiny of all relationships to become holy. God is not mistaken in His Son.

The third level of teaching occurs in relationships which, once they are formed, are lifelong. These are teaching-learning situations in which each person is given a chosen learning partner who presents him with unlimited opportunities for learning. These relationships are generally few, because their existence implies that those involved have reached a stage simultaneously in which the teaching-learning balance is actually perfect. This does not mean that they necessarily recognize this; in fact, they generally do not. They may even be quite hostile to each other for some time, and perhaps for life. Yet should they decide to learn it, the perfect lesson is before them and can be learned. And if they decide to learn that lesson, they become the saviors of the teachers who falter and may even seem to fail. No teacher of God can fail to find the Help he needs." (A Course In Miracles, Manual, 3.1)

Your relationship with your partner is similar to most interpersonal,”couple" relationships and has been "...a more sustained relationship, in which, for a time, two people enter into a fairly intense teaching-learning situation and then appear to separate. As with the first level, these meetings are not accidental, nor is what appears to be the end of the relationship a real end. Again, each has learned the most he can at the time. Yet all who meet will someday meet again, for it is the destiny of all relationships to become holy. God is not mistaken in His Son." Very few "couple" relationships are third-level teaching-learning situations "...because their existence implies that those involved have reached a stage simultaneously in which the teaching-learning balance is actually perfect." In third "level" teaching-learning situations there is always an inner experience of rapid spiritual growth or ego undoing. If you are experiencing sustained depression or a feeling of sustained stagnation in your relationship this is a Call to go within and listen carefully to the instructions of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit needs happy learners and this requires the willingness to be flexible and trusting and follow the prompts that are given to you. The illusion of depression comes from a sense of being deprived of something that you want and do not have. Remember that you are deprived of nothing except by your own decision, and be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to decide for God for you by aligning with the Holy Spirit.

Let the Holy Spirit Guide you with all seeming decisions, including the "to stay or to go decisions" involving relationships, jobs, locations, etc. You will seem to go through many changes as you Awaken, yet these changes are as temporary as is the forgiveness to which they lead. An experience will come that will end all doubting, and this experience touches the Changelessness of Spirit. Be willing to follow all the prompts of the Holy Spirit, and you will know you have by the light-heartedness, peace, and joy you feel within. This is the one right use of judgment and this discernment will lead you into the forgiven world and on to Waking from the dream of separation entirely.

We are joined in this Awakening, and Joy and Happiness are inevitable for God's Will is for Perfect Happiness. It is impossible that God's Love remain unrecognized.

I love You forever and ever! David

Is it okay to engage in reciprocity with my husband; giving him a backrub in exchange for letting me read him the lessons?

Question: About a month ago I began studying the Course in Miraculous Relationships that you have made available at your website. In exchange for a back rub, my husband listens as I read him the lessons. I know that he is only doing it to humor me. Is it okay to do this?

Answer: I'm happy to hear that those lessons are being used. Anything will work as a backdrop for the lessons, and as long as the back rub sessions feel helpful as a way to express your love and the ideas of your heart, then wonderful! There really is no need to believe that this is an exchange if you feel the love flowing from your heart. Remember everything that you share is a gift to your Self. Let the love flow!

In peace, David

How to discern when it's time to share a private thought, versus dealing with it in yourself?

 

This discussion on private thoughts begins at 12 minutes into the first video below and continues
all the way through and into the second one below.

General description of video: Part 5 & 6 from a 7-part, three-hour gathering held on Feb 13th, 2011 in San
Anselmo, CA with David Hoffmeister and friends. 
This joy-filled and insightful gathering was all about the practical application of A Course in Miracles
to relationships, especially focused on "couple" relationships!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOQg8e2VRNo#t=12m00s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_u3VIUX_cQ

 

Should I share my Joy and all that's unfolding for me spiritually with my old friends who may not understand?

Question: I am writing to share an experience I had. I told a few people about my idea for my trip to see you, including my best friend from childhood. She thought I had lost my mind. I thought back to our phone conversation and remembered that when you do some things that are based in Spirit, of course it seems illogical to the physical world. Her response didn't send me off into fear; I felt very sure and confident in what I said to her. I also expressed to her that the purpose of the trip wasn't the destination but the process by which I get there. I guess that when you fully committed to your path, people thought you were mad too! I shared my enthusiasm with my friends because I think this is a wonderful moment in my life and I feel so happy and blissful about my spiritual freedom. Now I wonder if I should have kept it under wraps. Thanks for listening. Any advice you can give me would be gratefully appreciated.

Answer: As for your best friend from childhood and those that have been close friends, many will not understand the direction the Spirit is leading you in. Remember my metaphor of the deck of cards I shared over the phone. As you let the Spirit "deal," the witnesses that show up in your experience will reflect your new Purpose. You will seem to be a wayshower to those who cling to the thinking of the world.

Your mind is loosening from what it believed about time, including the past and thus everything of the world. In ACIM Lesson 76, Christ teaches "I am under no laws but God's," and friendship is listed as one of the ego's make-believe laws. This undoing of the ego can seem a bit disorienting when it comes to friendships and associations. The mind loosens from loving in a special way, and opens to Loving as God Loves, in a Universal Way.

Question: I understand… I feel that is true. My love has grown in a way I couldn't have imagined and I know it will continue to deepen and expand. As far as friendships I see the truth in what you are saying. I don't try to hold on to the idea that everyone is going to accept or understand the path that I am on. It is solely for the purpose of my internal awakening, and I know that, looking from the outside, people are not going to understand because it is not their personal experience. That is fine. The reactions of the world won't influence my decision because I know I am led by the Spirit within and I have made an eternal commitment.

Answer: Yes, and it all comes back to the clearing and purification of one's own perception. People act out the wishes of the mind, as if they are external to the mind. Those who act out doubt thoughts should be offered love and gratitude for bringing into awareness what is still believed unconsciously. As they come up, all doubt thoughts can be released forever.

Question: Yes. I am grateful for all the experiences I have, and even when people doubt, I know that is just more for me to turn over in my own consciousness to the Holy Spirit within. When you say "people" act out the wishes of the mind as if they are external to the mind, what exactly does that mean?

Answer: The realization of Enlightenment comes first with the realization that there is only one mind instead of private separate "minds" with "private” thoughts. Persons are symbols of what is believed, and that is why to forgive one person completely brings release to the one mind, and thus all are healed as one. ACIM puts it this way: "When I am healed I am not healed alone." One mind is whole and complete, and the doubt—or ego thought—about wholeness and oneness is what made the dualistic world of separation. The belief in separation makes it seem as if there is something outside or external to our one mind.

Question: Everyday I see more and more how the world is a trap for the mind and spirit. I am grateful for the freedom I have awakened to. It is so profound it is beyond words. I really appreciate your love and attention during this time. I know we are all part of the One mind but I still like to say thank you.

Answer: I am with you All the way, for we share the same Self, the same Identity in Christ. It is our Joy to rejoice together.

Love & Blessings, David

Can you speak on the desire for Marriage?

Question: The question on my heart is this: When the truth of love is seen fully, is there such a thing as marriage? A part of me still desires this "union," but doesn't He place that desire within us, and we just see it amiss in separation? And what does this look like in Spirit and in truth? I would appreciate your insight on this.

Answer: Yes, the desire for union is seen amiss in a world based on separation. In Truth marriage has no form, for marriage is Content in Spirit and in Truth. Marriage is a word that symbolizes the desire for union, and as you approach the Kingdom of Heaven within it becomes apparent that Union is fully and truly experienced as Oneness with God. To know Christ is to know that the Father and I are One. This is the Union of Divine Mind. In this world marriage can be a step toward this Union if the relationship is given to the Holy Spirit to direct. Marriage as the union of partners is an initial commitment that is meant to lead toward the commitment to accept Atonement, to accept the Correction to the belief in separation. Purpose is always the key: Who is my Guide, remembering that it is impossible to serve two masters? The Holy Spirit uses relationship to heal and bless. The ego uses relationship to make a false idol and to perpetuate itself.

In Salvation or Enlightenment the experience is Total Oneness. It is not really that two become One, but rather that Union is the Being of Oneness God creates Eternally. God placed the desire to Awaken on your heart, and this is the Call to remember God. The Holy Spirit is this Call and thus the Holy Spirit is your desire for Union. The Union cannot be experienced in duality, and that is why I am Calling you out of the world—for this is a world of duality. The Union of God and Christ is reflected in the forgiven world, and this is the Atonement. One outgrows the concept of partnership with a body or soul as one fully accepts and realizes our Divine Union with God. Until the moment of Self-realization there will seem to be the concept of partnership which can be used for a "time,” under the Guidance of the Holy Spirit, to lead beyond the belief in time.

Happy marriage Beloved Child of God! Follow as the Holy Spirit directs and let every encounter be a holy encounter.

I love You forever and ever! David

Classic article by Hugh Prather about the pit-falls of the "spiritual ego"!

Description of Article: The following text is a letter written by a long time Course student/teacher who intricately describes some of the trappings associated with the concept of being a Course teacher. He takes an honest look at what has happened to himself in the direction of attempting to let go of the ego. The article itself is not written consistently from the divine perspective but it brings out many questions and attests to the importance of watching out for the trappings of the spiritual ego. Enjoy!

What is the Course? Will it exist in the 21st Century? By Hugh Prather (1999)

First, a disclaimer: The information I give here about the early days of the Course is sprinkled with a few direct observations but comes primarily from many conversations my wife Gayle and I had with Bill Thetford over the years. If there are any inaccuracies, please chalk these up to my faulty memory of what Bill told us, because nothing here is taken from books and biographies about the Course.

Bill thought it amusing that many "official" details about how the Course came were not what he recalled, even though he was by that time the only one alive who had been there from the beginning. For instance, once he laughed and said, "Now they're saying the Course came over a period of ___ years. I always thought it was ___ years." For reasons that I hope will become clearer as we go along, my purpose is not to correct historical details and for that reason I am not getting into them. "Getting into details" instead of getting into God is what causes all the trouble.

The lesson for Gayle and me was that although Bill disagreed with some of the "facts" that were being recorded about his and Helen's lives, and some of the actions that were being taken in the name of the Course, he did not feel the need to impose his position on other people. However, please note that he did have a position on these and many other subjects, and, primarily as a form of humor, he often would voice his position.

It simply isn't possible to have an ego and yet have no position, no opinions, no attitudes. In fact, when we look at our minds honestly, we see that we have mixed feelings and multiple opinions about almost everything. It is how we respond to our positions, to our own points of view—not staying unaware of them—that determines our sense of wholeness and peace. Bill's gentle example was: Do not become preoccupied with your position—which you inescapably will do if you try to force it on someone else.

In 1978, Gayle and I met Bill Thetford, Judy and Bob Skutch, Jerry Jampolsky, and several other people associated with the Course, all of whom were living in Tiburon at the time. Even though there was an underlying sense of family and mutual support among these people, several of them seemed to be wrestling with two contrasting attitudes toward the Course. One was that the Course needed protecting and promoting. In those days, this point of view was still quite weak because the original thinking—during the period when the Course was being turned over to The Foundation for Inner Peace—was that "the Course is for everyone" and shouldn't even be copyrighted, which of course would mean that no one organization could control it.

There is an interesting parallel between the early days of the Course and the early days of Christian Science. Mary Baker Eddy, like Helen, felt that she was writing down a teaching that was coming to her from a higher source. I believe it is no coincidence, especially since this same attitude was present in the early days of Unity and many other spiritual teachings, that Mrs. Eddy's original impulse was not to copyright and not to organize.

In the case of ACIM, this attitude was most clearly embodied in Bill Thetford's light-hearted and humorous perspective that the Course could take care of itself, that it merely pointed to a Truth that could never be contained in words, and that no harm could come from doing what it says, which is: forget it and turn to God. For example, I know of two separate times when Bill advised people who were arguing about "what the Course meant" to "tear the page out," because, he said, "nothing should come between you and your brother." If only one manuscript of the Course existed, and if we had all followed Bill's advice, it is safe to say that by now there would be no pages left. And in many ways, that might be a good thing!

Until Bill died, the Course, for the most part, rocked gently on a sea of flexibility and good humor. And despite some very crazy uses that its words were put to by various individuals and groups, no real harm was done. As a consequence, I naively thought that the Course was going to be the first spiritual teaching to escape becoming a tool of separation. But my thinking that the Course was different was part of the mistake many of us were making. Even though separation had overtaken the teachings of Muhammad, the Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tzu, the Prophets, and even "The Big Book" (AA), how could it happen, I said to myself, to the only teaching that contained nothing but oneness and forgiveness? In other words, how could separation overtake a teaching that was so separate?

It could happen and it has happened. In my opinion, it has occurred for the same reason that many devout Hindus practice subjugation and slavery. For the same reason that children are slaughtered in the name of Mohammed. For the same reason that students of the Buddha make statues of gold in the image of his body. And for the same reason that Jesus, who taught that we should give all we have to the poor, practice total forgiveness, and devote ourselves to each other became the symbol of the most prejudiced and privileged segment of our culture.

But the lesson for those of us who have chosen ACIM as our path, the lesson that we must now take—in fact are being forced to take—into the 21st century, is to distinguish between the book and the Reality that the book points to. Only what is separate about the Course, only the part that is in the world—only the part that you and I have been instructed to forget—can be manipulated. A book is mere words, and in Lesson 1 we have already been gently led—perhaps some would say divinely tricked—into looking at it and saying, "This book does not mean anything."

Merely the Course's words can be seen by egos. Merely the words can be taken away from this person, given to that person, used for money, used for litigation and sanctions, used for titles and certificates, and used to leave behind a now long trail of resentment, anger, financial loss, hurt feelings, and bitter righteousness. But what does God have to do with all that insanity? Nothing. Words are just words, and the Course itself assures us that our need for words is almost over.

Make no mistake; the inevitable march toward separation has nothing to do with the particular egos involved. The world is nothing but separation. Regardless of what individuals do or don't do, everything in the world eventually becomes a force for still more separation. This fact should not sadden us but free us to let go of what was never a part of God in the first place. God is not a book.

As I suggested earlier, it is virtually impossible to do the first lesson in the Course without saying, "This book does not mean anything." But if we really believed that, how could we possibly fight about who should control it or what that control should look like? We can try to control the controllers of the book, or we can turn to God. We can be preoccupied with who is and who is not allowed to make money off the book, or we can turn to God. We can argue about which ego can interpret the book best, or we can turn to God.

So what will happen to the book in the 21st century? My guess is that it will continue to decline in popularity and eventually become so associated with the organizations and personalities that war over it that they will become its meaning in the eyes of the public. The words "A Course in Miracles" will end up symbolizing something quite unlike their true meaning, just as has happened on a much larger scale with the words "Christian," "Jesus," and "the Bible."

But none of this will matter to you because the truth will still be true. Love will still be all around you. The holy light of God will still shine within you. And the One who has never left your side will bring you safely home. I suspect that even in the world, the Source of the thousand courses that have already come will send us a thousand more, and a thousand after that, and still more after that, until at last we see that it is not the form that any true teaching takes that has meaning. All that has meaning is the one Reality they point to.

What, then, is our function regarding the Course in the 21st century? It is to be acutely aware of the world's call to separate and love more God's call to come home.

A few years ago, I attended a gathering where I saw many of the people associated with the Course that Gayle and I had gotten to know in the 70's. As I said earlier, I am aware of no teaching that emphasizes innocence and unity in more straightforward terms than ACIM. I know of no teaching that ranks itself more clearly as just one of many, as a temporary aid only, and as helpful to some but not to all. ACIM simply does not present itself as a superior or even a permanent teaching, and, in my opinion, the heart of the teaching is that we must turn from our belief that we are individually "special" to the recognition that we are not only equal but one with each other and one with God.

What effect does the long-term study of such a teaching have on its students? I was surprised that after twenty years it was the opposite of what I expected. With two or three exceptions, everyone I saw at the gathering was far more separate and egocentric than they were when Gayle and I first met them. In fact, their egos were so large that many of them had lost the ability to carry on a simple conversation. They made pronouncements and listened deeply to no one. I was appalled, and when I returned home, I said to Gayle, "If this has happened to most of our Course friends, is there any chance it hasn't happened to us?"

The answer was that indeed it had happened to us. Even though we had long noticed the unhelpful effects of most religions and spiritual teachings on their students, we had thought that as Course students we were immune—because the Course emphasizes reversing this very dynamic. If the dynamic is not the fault of the teaching or religion itself—and in most cases it clearly is not—what mistakes do students make that cause it?

When Gayle and I finally looked at ourselves honestly, we discovered that although we had been ministers and spiritual teachers for many years and had written over a dozen books on spiritual themes, we personally had not become kinder or even more sane through our devotion. We, like most individuals, started a spiritual path with the intention of becoming better people and finding ways to be truly helpful, only to move in the opposite direction. The more time and thought we had put into teaching and writing about our path, the more self-absorbed we had become. We had ended up less flexible, less forgiving, and less generous than we were when we first started our path!

What we had actually learned was how to mask our egos, act spiritual, and make our own thoughts less conscious. In addition, we had accumulated hundreds of new spiritual concepts, which, unfortunately, is the primary standard by which spiritual teachers are judged (as well, of course, as TV pundits, columnists, politicians, non-fiction authors, talking-head experts, and the like).

As happened to us, most devout people seem unaware that these changes are occurring. They think they are making good progress, until one day—if they are lucky—they come face-to-face with the fact that their worst impulses have been growing in power and influence over them. In lieu of a true awakening, they make an unconscious determination that they have arrived, or that they have come close enough to the end of the journey that the remaining distance is of no consequence and requires very little of their attention.

There are clearly many individual exceptions to these generalizations, but not as many as we thought there would be when we began studying the phenomenon. This discovery has led us to place far greater emphasis on exposing the ways that the ego takes over spiritual efforts. Because the fact is, the day you started your spiritual path, your ego started it also, and for every spiritual motive you have, there is an ego motive as well. This is not reason to be afraid, but it is reason to be more aware.

Those individuals we know intimately who we believe are close to being awake, seem to have no interest in contrasting themselves with other people. Generally speaking, they live simple, ordinary lives. They are comfortable if not restful to be around. Their time is usually devoted to unimportant things and their hearts to "unimportant" people. They have no inflexible concepts or rigid patterns and there is nothing particularly unusual about the subjects they choose to talk about or anything outstanding in the personal mannerisms they exhibit. They are easily pleased, and often they are happy for no apparent reason. Because their own egos are no longer destructive, they find other people's egos amusing and endearing. Above all, they are equal and familiar. They would not be good subjects for a magazine profile. And yet, into the mundane, everyday circumstances of their lives, they quietly pour their comfort and their peace.

Bill Thetford was such a person. He didn't talk the Course. He didn't write books about the Course. He very seldom made public statements about the Course, and then only because someone had pleaded with him to do so. What Bill did was quietly and happily live the Course. And even though he saw that this was the best approach, he never said to his Course friends: "You can either teach the Course or live it, but you probably won't succeed in doing both." In this way he was truly a "teacher of God" because he taught in the way the Manual defines teaching.

Does this mean those who lecture or write about the Course have turned down a dark side road? Certainly not. Does it mean that anyone who loves discussing metaphysical ideas has lost his or her way? Certainly not. But it does mean that those who coat themselves in spiritual concepts run the risk of thinking that they are the concepts. It's not hard to notice that the people in our culture who are conspicuously devout and talk continuously about God usually begin to take on an all-knowing, all-seeing attitude. In other words, in their own minds they have become the God they profess.

"Everyone is on a path," many openly devout people say. But what they seem to be thinking is, "I, however, am on a spiritual path." In other words, "Now that I believe in oneness, I see that you and I are not one."

From having fallen into this trap ourselves, we realize that nothing is more selfish or separating than thinking that you, personally, have a higher approach to life than most other people. How could one person's way possibly be superior to another person's way if God is leading us all?

It's ironic that individuals with strong spiritual beliefs often have larger egos, are more rigid, are more unconsciously judgmental, and are more uncomfortable to be around than people who have little interest in pursuing mystical, religious, or metaphysical teachings. Those who value the concept of oneness often lack the desire to feel oneness and equality with anyone.

The ego part of us does not act independently of our wishes, because it is us—at least that is our evident and deeply felt conviction. If we are still judgmental of our teenager; then we still want to be judgmental of our teenager. If we are still confused about what our partner wants from us, then we still want to be confused. Obviously, believing in oneness doesn't automatically decrease the desire for oneness, and many people both believe in it and practice it. Yet it's interesting how often we trumpet what we ourselves fail to do and criticize in others what we ourselves do regularly.

Ironically, those who think they have the smallest egos usually have the largest egos. The self-proclaimed "seekers of truth" often have personal superiority as their unconscious agenda and end up convincing themselves that they have attained it. Those who think of themselves as normal, ordinary, and equal, and who are quite aware of their many limitations, simply are not tempted to believe that they personally can discover a spiritual truth that other people are unaware of. And yet, by definition, that is what a "seeker of truth" believes.

"A Course in Miracles" can survive in the 21st century, in fact it can transform the 21st century, if those who see the Reality it points to choose to extend themselves beyond their ego boundaries and make the interests of another their own. Awakening is not joining with some shining concept in the sky. It is joining with each other. It is lived and expressed in the hundreds of small encounters, errands, and tasks that fill each day. Only instant by instant do we choose to see our sameness, our equality, and our oneness with others. Only by loving do we wake to Love. Only by extending peace do we wake to Peace.

Every day we have hundreds of little encounters with other people in our activities and in our minds. In each of these contacts we leave something behind, and that something determines whether the Course continues to exist. Only by giving the tiny miracles of understanding, support, forbearance, and happiness can we assure that this precious teaching does not fall on dead ears and dead hearts. Let us walk away from the bloody battlefield where egos fight for the rights to ego words. That was never where the Course was in the first place. God is now. God is here. We never left home. So let us be happy that God's arms are still around us. His heart is still our heart. His eyes are still our eyes. He is all there is.

Hugh and Gayle are parents, ministers, and authors of fourteen books including Spiritual Notes to Myself; Spiritual Parenting; and I Will Never Leave You. Hugh's Pre-ACIM book, Notes to Myself, sold over 5,000,000 copies!

Do I have to continue listening to the "negative" people in my life?

Question: As I study the Course I am more and more aware of the negative thoughts and beliefs of people in my life. One friend I have known for years is now too negative for me to even listen to; I have tried to see only the good things in her and ask for healing, but I find myself not wanting to talk to her because of this negativity. Help.

Answer: Thanks for writing and opening your heart to invite a miracle. Bodies are the "acting out" or "witness" of thoughts that God did not create. At no single instant do they exist at all, for they are always remembered or anticipated and have nothing to do with the Eternal Present. The realm of Spirit is beyond the realm of forgiveness, and far beyond the realm of judgment, yet the miracle shows that judgment has had no real effect since it had no real cause. God is a real Cause and Christ a real Effect. It is helpful to be reminded that you are not the "thinker" of negative thoughts—or even positive thoughts which are the seeming "opposite" —nor the believer of erroneous belief. You are and forever remain God's Beloved One.

To join or accept the Purpose of forgiveness is to include everything in the cosmos in one whole mind and simply see that there is nothing to reject. Attack thoughts, given to the Holy Spirit, turn into Angels. What seems like "negativity" is a Call to see Angels, a Call to see what you really are asking for deep within. The block in awareness you are describing involves what I will call "people pleasing." God Wills You Be Happy, and no thought of bodies (positive or negative) has anything to do with our Spirit. To "join" with people is simply the Call to realize that there is nothing separate or excluded from our whole mind. This realization has nothing to do with "talking to" or "not talking to,” yet people pleasing always involves guilt projected onto behaviors. If you will not protect the thoughts which seem to be arising in awareness, you will find that they will vanish without effort. For the "negativity" which seemed to be had no foundation on which to exist in the Present Reality of God's Love. As an airplane rises above the clouds, the sunlight is brilliant and the sky crystal clear. Such is the Clarity of Awakening.

Focus on what you really want to experience and do not believe that "negativity" or judgment is something that our holy mind of wholeness can ever be responsible for. Our sole responsibility is for accepting the Correction of error. Just be willing not to protect error, and you will see that the error has gone and only a blessing remains. Arise and remember the Joy that is our natural Inheritance, and be not concerned with the coming and going and speaking and not speaking of bodies. If the Holy Spirit directs you to be still, rest assured that everyone and everything is included in that stillness. Spiritual Communion with God IS relationship, and bodies were made by the ego to obscure the Oneness of Spirit. Take no thought for bodies as you rejoice in your newfound Purpose, and allow yourself permission to taste the Divine Abstraction of Mind. First will come the experience that there are no parts in wholeness. Oneness cannot BE divided. And as you approach the wholeness of the forgiven world it becomes apparent that "scraps of judgment" have nowhere to hide. Nothing can truly block the Light of God's Love.

Step inward, away from what seemed to be "negativity" with your "friends." Attack thoughts are to be recognized as unreal and laughed at, not taken seriously. Let the Holy Spirit be the Friend on which you rely and depend upon. The Holy Spirit is a Friend that will always remind of the Oneness of God's Love. And in feeling this Vast Love, there is only extension and sharing. Once you see that there is nothing to "get" from any "body,” the "people pleasing" has vanished forever, and only Love remains Present.

Showering You in Love Beloved of God, David

Why would the so called "master teacher" defend a copyright? Does Awakening involve a "physical transformation"? Is it possible for an awakened bein

Question: I have followed a teacher for years who has been called and declared himself an awakened master teacher. He has taught that mind is singular, that this world was over long ago, that he speaks from out of time, and that he and all of us followers are going to flash out of time together. He makes many references to the Bible and "A Course In Miracles," yet in the Bible Jesus teaches to turn the other cheek, resist not evil, and says if someone asks you for your coat to offer them your cloak as well. In ACIM, Jesus even teaches: In my defenselessness my safety lies. My teacher has in recent years, however, advocated and participated in an ongoing campaign and lawsuit against the copyright holders of ACIM and justifies this action as taking a stand for Christ against those who would attempt to distort the teachings and block the spreading of the His Word. This is confusing. I do not understand how it is possible to engage in a lawsuit, have legal representation, prepare a case against a brother, and defend a position—all in the Name of Jesus Christ? In ACIM Jesus says: If I defend myself I am attacked. Could you explain this?

My second question has to do with the teachings from my teacher about physical transformation. If the body is an illusion, how is it possible to transform or change an illusion? My teacher refers to the transfiguration of Jesus, yet I cannot understand how a change in form or in the physical has anything to do with the transformation of mind called Enlightenment? Am I missing something in the teachings of ACIM?

My third question has to do with spiritual specialness. My teacher has referred to himself, and has been referred to, as an insertion of light into the time-space continuum. At the same time, he speaks of being out of time. There is great importance placed on being WITH the master teacher, and staying in the high energy and fast time of the master teacher and the association. Yet in ACIM I read that the holiest spot on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love. Would you speak about the trap of making somebody special and different from everybody else? I have heard this called the “guru trap” and it seems to be yet another ego ploy to set one brother above others, and to maintain a sense of uniqueness, specialness, and separation in a subtle way. If we are One Mind then it seems that no person, place, event, or thing will have MORE importance and that there is nothing to compare in truth. Is this so?

Answer: Hello Beloved one. Christ is Spirit, created by God, and needs no defense. Concepts were made by the ego and thus seem to need constant defense. Truth needs no defense, for Truth has no opposite or opposition. Concepts of self are fragile and no matter how puffed up they may seem to get in this world, they have no foundation in truth and offer no peace of mind, safety, or security. Mastery through Love sees the folly and the impossibility of defense. Mastery through Love sees that a lawsuit is a joke, for defense and authentic spiritual practice have no meeting point. Defense is an ego attempt to teach that vulnerability is real, and that something exists which is in need of protection. Yet the central teaching of "A Course In Miracles" is "Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God." Peace and understanding go together and cannot be found apart. Be glad that you CANNOT understand a lawsuit which has been justified and engaged in under the Name of Jesus Christ. What you have described is a good example of the joke of the world, the foolishness of the ego's antics under the pretense of a "spiritual cause."

In Answer to your second question,”physical transformation" is an oxymoron or contradiction in terms. This is the error of the world of contradictions. It is indeed impossible to transform or change the physical, for the change of illusion is simply the illusion of change. That is why I say: "Seek not to change the world. Rather change your mind about the world." The Serenity Prayer is the same reminder: The world cannot be changed, the mind can change by accepting its changelessness, and the Holy Spirit is the Wisdom to know or discern the difference. The transfiguration of Jesus described in the Bible was a "phenomenon" or window dressing. It is seen—at best—as a symbol or representation of going beyond the veil of images, to the Light of Christ beyond. It is helpful to be reminded, however, that all perceptions are false. Abstract Light is Universal and not specific or particular. Spirit never comes into matter, and Truth cannot be brought to illusions. Eternity never comes into time, and Infinity never comes into the finite. This is why the concept of an "insertion of Light" is impossible, for the Word does not literally become flesh. Reality cannot be translated or transformed into unreality. Instead, bring the darkness of false belief—including the physical world—to the Light of Truth and Know Thy Self as Spirit. Time-space-matter-physical dissolves, and the Spirit remains. Accept Atonement and this realization is obvious.

In Answer to your third question, the ego IS the belief in specialness or uniqueness. The attempt to single out a person, place, thing, situation, or event from the whole tapestry of the cosmos IS the attempt to make and worship an idol or God-substitute. This ego temptation—which is the wish to make illusions real—of "guru worship" is but one example of the death wish of specialness. Whenever a comparison is made, duality has been accepted as real, and Divine Love is seemingly blocked from awareness. Yet Love simply Is. Spirit Love is the Energy of Life in God. This Energy is never high or low, bright or dim, strong or weak. Spirit is Timeless and Changeless. Time is an illusion, and thus there is no "fast” time or "slow” time. It is impossible to be close to or far away from Spirit because Spirit transcends the false concepts of distance and increments of measurement. The ego attempts to use such concepts to maintain its existence, and its existence rests on the belief in differences and uniqueness. Happily Oneness cannot be broken into different, unique pieces or parts. Wholeness means One!

You speak of the master teacher and the association. In an earlier post I addressed the illusion of an "enlightened person,” which is another oxymoron or contradiction in terms. Divine Mind is real. Personhood, a concept of body-mind-soul, is not. It is impossible for a concept to be real, for God did not create concepts. God creates Spirit and Spirit shares in God's Reality. ACIM is but one seeming pathway of releasing past associations, accepting the wholeness of the forgiven world, and remembering Self and God. Where would the association begin? Where would the association end? You see, the false is false and cannot be broken into parts or pieces. There is no we/they split, no in/out split. The association or group is but another self concept. Remember that only self concepts require the illusion of defense, and this will offer you insight to the Answer to your first question about the lawsuit. Salvation is nothing more than the escape from self concepts. Forgiveness, the last illusion, the last self concept is not made by you alone. The Holy Spirit offers Atonement as the Perspective of wholeness that transcends the ego's personal perspective of parts. To the Holy Spirit GURU means Gee You are You. The I Am Presence is Spirit, One Self forever in the Mind of God. Nothing else exists.

Truth is an experience. It cannot be organized. Look not to the flesh for the experience within. Look not to man or woman or "master teacher" in form. Spirit neither leads nor follows. Spirit simply Is. Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all. Atonement is the Point of recognition which transcend the ego traps of "leader" and "follower." There is nothing outside of Oneself. Such is Enlightenment!

Love & Blessings, David

If I'm in a relationship with someone who doesn't study ACIM, should I share my inner process of healing or just demonstrate it silently?

Question: When you establish a holy relationship with someone who doesn't study the Course, does one talk about and share one's inner process of working with the Course or just try to demonstrate it through the changes that are happening within?

Answer: It is always helpful to share what you are going through, but you must let Jesus direct you as to where to do this sharing. You are getting in touch with being a miracle worker, but you must give up control on where you think that miracles must be bestowed. Jesus said in the Bible that those who have ears will hear. You will find it very frustrating if you try to share these inner experiences with those who are not ready to hear them.

As you open to being a miracle worker, the Holy Spirit will guide you to others and will guide others to you. These will be opportunities to share your new purpose. You cannot even assume that you must share this purpose with your partner. This is the meaning of the teaching in the Bible, that father will be turned against son and mother against daughter, for My Name's sake. The Christ energy is like a vibration. As this vibration becomes stronger and stronger, and as you are willing to open your mind, many new witnesses will come to your mind. As I followed the Holy Spirit's direction, I have traveled many, many miles for the last thirty years and met thousands of my brothers and sisters that are hungry to awaken. It is as if the purpose has orchestrated my life for me to experience the joy in my heart. We all start with biological families and partners, but as the love in our heart grows stronger and stronger, our circle of family and friends grows larger. We meet these people based on our desire to give. We are not looking to get something from them. The blessing comes from sharing the joy, not from receiving anything material. It is as if we spread many seeds, not looking where they land or if they seem to germinate and flower. The joy is in just flinging the seeds!

Love, David

Can you explain the meaning of "world" and "earth" as used in ACIM?

Question: Would you have thoughts about the meaning of the terms,”world" and "earth", as used in ACIM? Are our feelings about one term more useful than the other term toward reaching salvation, our destination on the spiritual path? From your perspective, can the terms be used interchangeably when referring to ego world?

Answer: The world/earth can seem to reflect God or the ego, depending on the purpose given it, until the complete impossibility of error is accepted. The world was made in anger, but it now is used to inspire and to bless. The world was made in fear, yet the Holy Spirit has now transformed it into a witness for Love. The world was made in guilt, however it has now been cleansed of all judgment and grievances by the Holy Spirit.

Projection made perception. Forgiveness is its end. The ego world or earth was false perception, the attempt to see the error of separation on the screen. Yet the image maker and image were one error, and the world left not its "source." The world or earth is an unreal effect of an unreal cause. Once it is apparent that the ego was never a real cause, having no real source, the world has been forgiven or seen to be an illusion. Salvation is now. The real world is the awareness that error is past and gone, and within the present moment it has been forgiven.

"I am calling you out of the world" really means I am calling you out of ego thinking. In this sense, the ego and the world are synonymous. Perception is reborn or seen anew as the Holy Spirit's purpose for the world is accepted in place of the ego's purpose of separation. "And God will take the final step" means that once Atonement has been accepted, there is no need for perception at all. Divine Mind is purely abstract (formless) and creation is the light of understanding. God, being eternal, does not take steps. Creation Is, and thus is beyond the concepts of alpha and omega, beginning and end. Christ is the creation of God, and therefore has no beginning or end. The Christ Idea is eternal and never left its eternal source. You have perhaps heard of the phrase "forgive and forget." God and Christ are remembered as the world of illusion is forgotten.

Love & Blessings, David