MOVING TOWARD A TRANSFORMATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS
This is a transcript of a discussion with students of A Course in Miracles in Oceanside, California, on March 12, 1992. It has been edited only slightly to improve continuity and readability.
Let's begin with a few basic understandings. First of all, I am not a teacher. I hope we can approach this as friends, equals, trying to look at something in more or less the same direction. My situation is much like that which was described by an early Hasidic rabbi called Baal Shem Tov. He is reported to have said that we are all lost in the woods and, if there is a difference between you and me, it is that I have been lost in the woods longer than you have and have explored many roads which lead only deeper into the woods. So, if you like, I can point to those roads and save you the time and energy of exploring those. Then we can begin to explore a new road together that may actually lead out of the woods. It is very important as we go along that you listen attentively. Real listening requires that you neither agree nor disagree with what I say. The reason for this is that the faculty of the mind which agrees or disagrees has already made up its mind - it is the mind and no change is possible. It is that faculty, that mind which needs transformation. Agreement or disagreement, belief or disbelief stop all real inquiry into the matter. Even if you enthusiastically agree, see if you can let go of that and leave the mind open, neither to accept or reject, but merely to consider, openly, freely, what is said. If you are so inclined, if you are interested, then you can check it out for yourself because the ultimate authority is you.
Words are the vehicle that will seemingly be used here. Words, however, can be a problem because they are both the product of and a tool of the mind, which A Course in Miracles calls the ego. This ego, I will variously refer to as the mind, the brain, the self, they are all the same. So, words can be problematical. Therefore, the truth will not be spoken here because the truth cannot be reduced to words. And, yet, you may hear the truth, if you are open, really listening, not only with your ears but with your entire being. Something may happen in between or beyond the words that is true.
Perhaps a place to start is by looking at what A Course in Miracles is not. It is not a book to be learned. It is not a bunch of words and concepts that we memorize and quote, spout back at one another to argue about truth. The Course is not about how to become a better person, a nice person. It is not about learning about transformation, metaphysics, so-called spirituality. The Course is about a fundamental, radical transformation of the mind. It is not about becoming a better caterpillar; it is about being the butterfly. To be the butterfly, we must let go of the caterpillar no matter how much we love it. Learning about is a way of postponing, of avoiding the inevitable. The Course is about surrendering to and participating in that radical, fundamental transformation of consciousness.
We are at a time in the history of the earth and of mankind that is, as far as I know, unprecedented. We are in the middle of the biggest crisis this earth has ever faced. It's not coming, it's here! All of our old ways of approaching this crisis have not worked. I think that is obvious. It seems that any intelligent person can look and see that what we have done has made little, if any difference, to alleviate human misery and suffering. And, the truth is, nothing that we do from the human, separated perspective will make any difference because this earth is an experiment in what duality would look like and we have reached a place where we have learned just about all that we can learn about the effects of duality and the experiment is just about over. So, it is just a question of whether we want to participate in the transformation that is going on as we speak, or to resist it. That is the only choice that we really have. To pretend as if nothing is happening and that we can go on like this forever or to see if there is, in fact, a radically different, better way.
What shall we talk about?
Q: You say that we are coming to the end of the experiment. Would you equate that with the Jehovah's Witnesses belief that in the year 2000 the New Order will take over?
No...and yes. What they are suggesting may be possible, but some words written on a thing we call calendar will not make it happen. Neither will some words written in a book 2000 years ago make it happen. Nor some sort of force or energy outside of us. We are it! It comes by and through us. We are the Second Coming. It is happening. The only question is how long do we drag it out? How ugly and awful must this life on earth become before we are willing to devote our primary energy to finding a better way? We can and do postpone it. How long, how long? The Bible and a lot of other teachings, including A Course in Miracles, make some pretty seemingly fantastic promises about the potential for Man. My question is: "Can we see if that is true?" It has been pointed to as long as there has been written history. The Hindus have pointed to it, the Buddhists, the Sufis, certainly the teachings of Jesus, all of these have pointed in the direction of a really radically different potential for Man. Something so dramatically different from what you and I experience on a daily basis that we cannot even conceive of it. Everything seems to be pointing in that direction. The question then becomes: "Do we stand and look at the road signs or do we get on with the journey?" It is up to us to follow the route. The Course, the Bible, the Vedas, the Koran are merely road maps. We can read road maps all our lives and fantasize about the journey. Or, we can get on with it.
Q: It looks like if we stay behind that we are really stuck.
Ultimately, if oneness is a fact (and I am not prepared to assert that it is, and it wouldn't matter if I did) I go nowhere without you. Jesus said: "The first shall be last and the last shall be first." Until, in a sense, everyone gets it, no one gets it. There may be appearances in time of differences in the degree of awareness of this whatever it is. But that is only temporary; it cannot be permanent if oneness is a fact. No one gets left behind.
Q: Talk about oneness.
What can I say? If I did say anything you would either believe it or not believe it and nothing would change.
Q: Can this rage within us possibly be a remnant of our animal past? Are we still on an evolutionary climb? Is there a further sphere in our evolution that we can attain?
Are you asking if we will eventually evolve into more spiritual beings?
Q: Well, I believe in evolution. I believe that we have evolved.
Perhaps it looks that way, but I wonder. On whose authority, on what basis do we assume or believe in evolution? Do we ourselves actually know the fact of it? Or is it something some external authority has told us? How much different are the Dallas Cowboys from the Roman gladiators?
Evolution is a product of time, is it not? And, if we think that it takes time to be who we are, is it not then that we are using time to postpone this being, which is already true? The belief in process, the belief in progress, the belief in evolution is really, if we look at it very, very closely...Don't believe me, just follow along and check it out...if we look closely we will see that it is our way of saying: "Not yet! I want to put it off a little. I still have something I want to gain here. I am not ready to give this up yet. So, I believe in evolution, that some day in the future, some day..." And what do we know about tomorrow? It never comes. Time then is our way of postponing being who we always already are.
Q: What is the now? How does one describe the now?
Can it be described? We have all read a lot of things. I assume, for everyone here, that the Course is not the first spiritual book that has been read. We have all probably heard for at least twenty years: "Be Here Now!" Right? The self-mind has an idea about everything in the books which attempt to point toward truth. We have an idea of love, but it is not love. We have an idea of happiness, but it is not happiness. We have an idea of peace, but it is not peace. So, all the time this mind is giving us substitutes for reality. What we know as love is either sentimentality, attachment, or passion. What we know as happiness is generally stimulation, gratification; "I want something, I got it. I'm happy." But happiness without cause? Just a natural being happy for no reason at all? All the time? And, listen to this, if oneness is so, then love, happiness, peace, truth, beauty, stillness and now are all the same thing. They are not different.
Q: We may not be able to define or talk about happiness, but we can feel it, can't we?
What is it that we are feeling? Is it absolute? Is it unchangeable? Is there such a thing as absolute, unchangeable, causeless happiness? The Course says there is. The Bible says there is. The Vedas say there is. Obviously, what we know as happiness is not that. The ideas we have attached to these words are not in fact the thing itself. They are substitutes, fakes, shams. They are not it. Idea comes from the same root word as idol, by the way. So, speaking of false idols, false ideas, we have all of these that we have made up which prevent the experience of the thing itself. But they are, at best, very poor imitations, deceptions.
What we can do is to see where and how we have misled ourselves. Where we have settled for a piece of moldy bread in preference to the whole banquet. Are you with me? By looking at how we have done and continue to do this to ourselves moment-to-moment. It is not that it is being done to us. We are the culprits. We are just not willing to let go of this piece, this scrap, this empty idea, even though the whole of reality, which is love, is right in front of us.
Q: We can't climb unless we are willing to let go of the bottom rung.
It seems that we are much too ready to climb. Perhaps, first I must get all the way down to the bottom and find the beginning and then I can start. It seems that we have made a lot of false starts in attempting to find this thing called Truth, or Beauty, or God, whatever you want to call it. It doesn't have a name; it doesn't have a description. We try to say something, so we use these words.
Q: Where is the beginning?
Wonderful question! If I hand you a road map and you are getting ready to take a trip, what's the first place you must know on that map? Where you are now, right? And that's the beginning.
Q: But where I am now is not the beginning. I started a long time ago piling up garbage and accepting erroneous thoughts.
But you can't operate there. That's like saying: "I used to live in Santa Barbara, so I am going to look at the roads out of Santa Barbara." Where I live now is Oceanside, so is there any place else I can begin? We must begin with where we are right now with the whole garbage bag full of stuff and begin to understand minutely, carefully and acutely the nature of our life as it is today. To see that we do operate, most of the time, asleep, on habit, on automatic pilot. We are doing what we have been told, programmed to do. We are conforming to someone else's standards. We are not free at all.
Q: It has been very valuable to me to realize that the past is not here. I can just leave it behind, bury it.
We may bring the past with us. That may be part of where we are right now, and we cannot undo the past except in the present. Is that not obvious? We must, first of all, before we can leave the past behind become deeply aware of all the ways that we bring the past with us. Of seeing that as a fact. That we are constantly being pushed and pulled by things that we were taught, that society more or less forced upon us. We live in a very conditioned world. We have been trained and trained and trained and trained so that we are trained circus animals. For the most part our behavior is imminently predictable. I know you don't like to hear that, but our behavior is so predictable because we don't have the freedom. We like to think we are free because we have our own house, we drive our own car and we can jump on a motorcycle and go to Canada. But there is a tremendous difference between real psychological freedom and mobility within a prison. Most often we mistake mobility within the prison system for real freedom. And we have not yet seen profoundly how imprisoned we are. When one begins to see how imprisoned he is, then arises something wanting to break free. And the energy builds; there becomes a demand for freedom. And then there is no longer this wanting to learn words and concepts about freedom. No longer wanting to learn about transformation. One has then the energy, the interest, without force, but by being really interested, intimately interested in what it means to be fully, completely, unconditionally, psychologically free. To even begin we must first see what slaves we are to conditioning, to our habits. And that is neither bad nor good. It is not to judge them. "I am a bad, unevolved person" or some such. That in itself creates conflict, resistance and what we are trying to do is get out of conflict. Where there is conflict there is no love. Conflict is violence, so to impose more violence upon it by beating ourselves up or imposing a new structure forcefully upon the old is not going to bring love.
Q: Isn't there a point in your life where you say "Hey, this isn't working. I'm 50 some years old, struggling, fighting the system, paying my bills. There's got to be something else." And that's when you say "I'm willing. I want to get out of this rut that I'm in."? Then it seems that there is something within you that starts moving you in that direction."
That's precisely what I am suggesting. Once we recognize what slaves we are and just start asking some questions about it: "Is this the way it has to be? What am I getting out of this?" Those kinds of questions set in motion something within us that already has the idea of freedom. If freedom did not exist, how would we even get the idea of freedom? It can't come from a vacuum. Particularly if we are not willing to settle for the brain's concept of freedom, false freedom, the mobility within the prison system...people look at my life, the exterior aspects of it, and say "Gee, I wish I was that free." It is not necessarily psychological freedom. Real freedom must somewhere exist within our consciousness or else we wouldn't even have an idea of it. Do you see that?
What we want to be careful of, though, once we see our situation, the day-to-day existence, the boredom, the pettiness, the unfulfillment of it all, is that we don't immediately get an idea of how to solve it or escape from it. We begin merely with seeing clearly that we are not free and don't move. Let's look at what our day-to-day existence is as non-judgementally as possible and don't try to create an ideal in order to escape from where we are. If we look at it, that is what we are always doing. All of our personal goals, all of our seeking is trying to move away from the drudgery, the boredom, the emptiness, the unfulfillment of our day-to-day existence without ever taking a look at the fact of it. Can we go inside and really begin to look at what the nature of this thing is that we are calling unfulfillment, emptiness, loneliness? What is it? How did I get in that place? If I look carefully I find that my entire life has been ruled by this...thing, which we call by various names. But the name is not the thing itself. Am I willing then somehow to become fully acquainted with this thing that moves my life, that I am always running away from, always seeking to distract, cover up, temporarily fill, avoid, anything other than face it? Can we go into that thing without naming it? Like all of our so-called emotions, anger, fear, and so on, does it not arise in your mind that labeling these emotions as anger, and so on, brings with it virtually immediately judgement: "Gee, anger's not good. I don't want to be angry. I don't want to lose my temper."? "I don't want to be fearful. greedy, ooh, greed is really bad." Envy, jealousy, the words themselves are so charged with value judgements that it seems impossible to name it without judging it. So, is it possible to take all names away from something that is moving in our being and then say: "Talk to me. I'm not going to name you. I want to look at you brand new. I want to discover what you really are."? And not allow the mind to name it, not let the brain classify it, because that ends the inquiry. We have stopped looking when we name it because we then think we know what it is.
The fact is we do not know what a single thing is. We are so satisfied with intellectual explanations about that we don't know what a single thing is. I don't know what this is (pointing to a shoe), but I say "Shoe" and that ends the inquiry. But it is not a shoe. "Shoe" is a noise. Even our most advanced scientists do not know what a single thing is. They do not know what electricity is. They know a lot about it, what it does, and so on, but no clue what it is. We do not know what a single thing is; we settle for a name and an explanation, an empty abstract concept. We don't know what it is. Doesn't that amaze you? shock you? We have never seen it directly without our words. So we have never enjoyed a direct relationship with anything. We have accepted that somebody else has uttered a noise and written some words on paper and we say: "Oh, yes, that's it." and it isn't it. This, of itself, has no knowledge of the noise, seashell. The noise seashell has no meaning to this thing itself, are you with me? Can we allow the same process with these things we call feelings, moving in our own consciousness? Take the labels away from them because just naming them judges them and judging creates conflict and where there is conflict there is no love.
Q: But without words, it is rather difficult to communicate, isn't it? Like trying to teach a blind person about color.
Yes, or perhaps more accurately trying to teach a blind person to paint by number. Again, we begin to see that what we know is about things; we don't have that way of communicating directly. Or, if we do, we don't recognize it or respond to it in the way that, perhaps, we could. I love a term that Robert Heinlein used in Stranger in a Strange Land. His Martian character used a term, grok, to perceive something directly, to understand totally, instantly. In a sense, it means to be in complete relationship with something. All at the same time. But words get in the way. We live our lives in thought, which is words. We think in words. And words literally are the veil between the perception of this as it is and our experience of it. So that our experience winds up being only what we have been programmed to experience and we are not free to experience it brand new and fresh, to discover this for ourselves. We are always in memory, which is the past.
Q: What do we do about it?
That presupposes that there is anything that can be done. We are looking for the beginning. The beginning is understanding the problem itself first before attempting to find a solution. We are not really looking for a solution, but an escape, a distraction, are we not? To understand the problem requires moment-to-moment observation, great alertness, to our own internal process. To watch what is moving and to see if we can learn what it is without escape, distraction or judgement, which means also without words. Can we feel something and then not label it, because labeling stops the process? It stops it from flowering. It stops it from being what it is.
Q: In an earlier talk you posed the question "Can we live without memory?" Since then I have been preoccupied with this question. At work, wherever, I see that everything is memory. I don't see how we can live without memory.
Can we begin with seeing that the brain, which is memory, which is words, will never comprehend the state of being called true perception? The brain, as it is presently constituted, does not grok. One cannot intellectually understand A Course in Miracles because it is not understandable to the brain.
Q: Do you mean the mind?
The mind, the brain, the ego. I use those interchangeably.
Q: This has bothered me so much that I wrote it down. When I look at someone I interpret them and that comes from memory. Other people are the screen that I project my ideas on. This has to come from memory. It can't come from anywhere else.
This is why it's called illusion. We are always projecting our past on what's in front of us so we never see what is actually there.
Q: Then it came to me that if I really like someone, fine. But if they cross me, they're on my list, right? That comes from memory, too. I've been battling for two days with this memory thing because an idea was stirred up in my head.
Do you see the power of a question that you are willing to just consider? See what awarenesses have come in those two days by means of asking a question that is left open ended and to which the mind is not allowed to come up with a pat answer. There is tremendous power in asking an open ended question to which you don't know the answer and not concluding. You can have an opinion, but you must be willing to openly and honestly explore the possibility. As soon as you say yes, no, or "I know" then it's over; you have concluded. Conclusion means end. So, if we can ask a question that remains open ended, then the transformation begins. Once we have put the energy into the question, the answer must be there, but it may not be in words. In fact I suggest that we be unwilling to accept words as an answer. Words and explanations are conclusions - we get nowhere. Let your life unfold the answer. Ask an open ended question with some real interest and energy and your life will unfold the answer. You may not even be able to tell it to anyone else, but you will know.
Q: Don't we have to accept that we are living in a physical world and that we must use our memory to get through it?
No, we don't have to accept that. That's a conclusion.
Q: But you would continually be getting lost.
That's a conclusion.
Q: But we have to use our memory.
What I am suggesting is that you are concluding, that what you are saying is not necessarily true. It appears to be. It is the most "logical" conclusion, but it is nevertheless a conclusion. It does not leave the question open. You may be right. I'm not saying that you are wrong only that by assuming that you already know the answer you have killed the question. Is there a way of living in this world without memory? The mind will tell us "no." But it is the mind that is the problem. The mind is the memory. We have already discovered that that is what interferes with our seeing. So, what are we to do?
Q: Could we ask the question: "Do we need to serve the memory?" In examining the full ramifications and broadness of what serving the memory means, the questions that come from serving the memory, we would better understand the possibility of living without memory.
The important thing is that each of us find the question in our own heart that is that burning question that intrigues and interests us to the point that we will not let it go. Not that we are forcing anything, we are just so intrigued by that question that we are willing to give it energy and space. I'm certainly not suggesting that any question that I might ask would be your question. What I am suggesting is for you to find that burning question that you just can't put down.
Q: Need we always attempt to reconcile our ego with our small "s" self?
Is there a difference? I only know one self and to fragment it further is just more separation, more evasion and more avoidance, is it not?
Q: But there is some sort of agreement about the meaning of these terms. A cup of coffee is a cup of coffee.
What I am suggesting is that with abstract concepts and, in particular, the terms ego, self, soul, higher self that there is no experiential reality there at all. I have never seen a soul. Have you? We are talking strictly abstract concepts in which I wonder if there is any real agreement at all as to the meaning. The truth is the Course is so simple that we don't need all those concepts. We are either aware of the truth of our Identity or we are not. We are awake or asleep; there is no grey area. There is truth or illusion, no grey area. Very simple, very cut and dried, but we don't want to accept that because our mind does not like absolutes. It is the mind of relativity, of duality. The Course is very unequivocal. Either we are functioning from separation, and to talk about self, lower self, higher self, id, ego, super ego ...what is that but separation, fragmentation? I'm either awake or I'm asleep. You're pregnant or you're not. There's no in between.
Q: I want to get this clear. You're saying then that I'm asleep until I'm awake.
Isn't that obvious?
Q: I think there is an understanding during the sleep that I can be awake.
I see what you are saying. I do experience times where I am aware that I am dreaming which is immediately before I awake.
Q: And if that happens even for a nanosecond it seems to evoke a desire to push it wider and wider.
Yes. We got into that from the discussion of the use of all the various fragmenting terms used to describe this self. We are an IS, whatever that may be and we are either functioning, in this moment, from thought system of separation or we are functioning from wholeness.
Q: At this point is that even a viable question?
It is the only real question. We must begin by seeing profoundly that moment-to-moment we are always functioning from separation. We avoid real joining. We hold back from relating directly, completely, wholly to anyone at any time. We are always setting boundaries, setting limits, things that we don't want to reveal. We are always projecting an image of ourselves. We refuse to be totally honest and vulnerable. We are always seeing things partially and there is always an "I", an image, that I am constantly reinforcing. That I am always strengthening this "I-me-mine." In everything that I do, all of my own personal motives, that I am strengthening the "me." I am making this image, this idea of a self always more important.
Q: But try to explain that to someone who is not even aware of the separation.
Why would you want to?
Q: Aren't there some people who are aware of the truth and some who are not?
Maybe. So what?
Q: Well, there is this fundamentalist at work who thinks I am going to hell for sure and she is going to pray for me. And if I had said there is no such place as hell, she would have blasted me out of the room.
And what use would it have been to say that?
Q: To her, she is right.
We will never convince the ego of truth whether that ego be perceived as external or internal. The ego doesn't need to be convinced of anything. It is not going to be changed. It is a device to maintain separation. So, there is no convincing the ego, but maybe...the question is: "Is there a way to transcend the ego?" in which the ego disappears.
Q: Then is it a thought to her that heaven and hell are real? Or is it a thought to me that they are not?
Q: Which of the two of us is right?
Q: Is it her ego and my ego that are battling?
What do you think? Did you feel some sort of reaction, some defensiveness?
Q: It did bother me.
Then what we need to look at is that bother. Whenever we are defensive about any attack on our beliefs we can be sure that we do not know the truth of our beliefs. Truth needs no defense. Someone who is sure of the truth will never defend it. But, we have been sold on the idea of belief, so we believe! The entire Christian religion is based on: Believe! Belief is but the projected opposite of doubt, the other side of the coin. One who believes is the same as one who doubts, they are both incomplete. We must know the fact of it. When we know the fact of it then belief and doubt both totally disappear.
Q: What about trust?
What about it?
Q: The Course says that it is important.
That's true. You know, I am a student of the Course and a great fan, but I still ask: "Is the Course so?" I don't believe the Course, I will never believe the Course. I want to know if it is true. If it is true, I want to live it. I want to move beyond the theory to the fact. Running around preaching beliefs has no use to me. I want to know the fact of it. The Course does say "trust," do we trust? The first step is to become aware of how much we do not trust. To look every day at how I am twiddling the knobs of my life, trying to control outcomes. I have an idea of letting things go, of being trusting, but if things get a little tough, I jump right back in the driver's seat, turning and twisting the knobs.
We usually begin by seeing the concept, we have been told about the concept, but we cannot imagine the concept. The only beginning is to see that we don't know what it really means. The Course says several ways that your firm beginning is to realize that you do not understand anything.
Q: I know nothing.
Do you see how we can even make a concept of "I know nothing"? Rather than being profoundly aware that I know nothing that it is easier and less fearful to make a concept of "I know nothing". In our inner being we do not feel that total disorientation that comes from the mind actually seeing for itself that it is totally stupid, that it really doesn't know anything, that it is in a locked circle, in computer terminology - an endless loop. When it sees that, somehow, something else happens. Or we can just go on and say: "I don't know anything. Isn't that cute." But it is not a deep, profound realization. There is no energy in it; it is empty. We must have that discernment to see when we are still just superficially dealing with the concept, deceiving ourselves, because we read it in a book.
Q: But the Course is not a concept.
But we can make a concept out of it. By learning the Course instead of living it. By quoting it and chanting it and making a mantra of it and all those things.
Q: Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die.
There's another myth, assumption, conclusion. Heaven is here and now, Heaven is in my mind. It may be what I am. But that, for now, is theory. We begin by seeing that all of our thought patterns are separative, moment-to-moment. "I-me-mine", "you-yours", "I-you-I-you." You say "I love you." That's not even possible. The "I" does not love. The "I" is conflict itself and where there is conflict there is no love.
Q: What "I" are we talking about?
In the Course's terms, the ego, the separated self. It doesn't really matter about the words. There is a place where there are no words, where even "I am" is meaningless. So when I say the "I" cannot love, I mean the ego, the self, the mind, the little self because its very nature is conflict. It is conflict itself and where there is conflict there is no love.
Q: Why do we do this? Why do we put darkness in front of the light?
That's one of those questions that gets us nowhere. It gets us into analysis of the reasons, the causes, etc.
Q: But that is what we do do.
To see that we do it is a fact. To ask why we do it is analysis and keeps us in the intellect.
Q: But if we knew why wouldn't we quit? Isn't it insane to say there is light and love and I am going to block it out? Why would I not want to know why I am insane?
Isn't it enough just to see the complete insanity of it?
Q: I don't think so. We've been doing it for millennia.
Really? I wonder if hardly anyone has ever seen the utter insanity of this world, its fundamental impossibility.
Q: Let me ask it another way: "Do we need do it?"
What is the need to do it? If it is our actual discovery that that is what we are constantly doing and that is the cause of our misery and we are willing to stand and look at that; if there is anything else there has to be a change, because we are willing to see that is the problem. What we do, however, is continue to try to escape from it. We want to hold onto the cause, this separated "me" without encountering the effects. And this "me" wants to be enlightened. And "me" will never be enlightened, it is the darkness.
Q: But I would rather listen to the ego because the light doesn't say anything that I can hear. All I hear is "Listen, be still."
Have you done that? Can we see that the mind is never still? It's constantly chattering. God can't get a word in edgewise. The hard part to come to is to see that "me" is the problem. There is no escaping from "me". "Me" is the problem. Then just watch "me" carefully, observantly and find out how "me" constantly creates problems moment-to-moment and is always trying to run away, to split off, from myself.
Q: I'm caught between the dark and the light. Somebody show me which road to take.
But is there a road? When we stop looking...when we see that all looking is looking away from the light...then what? All looking, even looking for the answer is looking away from the light.
Q: How many of us in this room can say: "Yeah, that's the truth"?
Who knows? Is that important? Can we see that every single movement of the mind is away from the light? Every goal you ever have, even the goal of enlightenment.
Q: Am I back to sitting on a rock and meditating?
Who is it that is meditating? It is the "me", isn't it? This takes a lot of patience. The Course says: "Infinite patience gets immediate effects."
Q: Last summer I said that I just feel like sitting on this rock and not moving and let everything happen and let me be.
And how long did you do that?
Q: About an hour.
Do we see how inconstant we are? How we can't make a commitment?
Q: But I say that it is impossible to get through this physical world without using our minds.
Please understand, you may be right, but you have concluded. You are not willing to inquire; your mind is closed. So it's over. You said that it is impossible to get through this world without using our mind and that is a conclusion. You have not opened up the question and asked: "Is it possible?" You have concluded that it is not.
Q: I conclude that I have things going on, I have to use my memory in order to do the mundane things in order to get through this physical world, but that does not mean that I cannot use part of my mind to also look for truth.
That's separation. Please stay with me, that's separation. To use part of my mind for anything is separation. Wholeness is wholeness is wholeness and there is no way around it. Let me tell you a story, just for you to consider. There was a Zen monk who reached enlightenment. Someone came up to him one day at the monastery and said: "Oh, I hear you have been enlightened." The monk just shrugged his shoulders and said: "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water." But there is a subtle yet profound difference. Just let this stir around in your mind - don't make a concept of it. The appearance does not change, but in truth, before enlightenment I chop wood, I carry water and I effort to do so. After enlightenment, there is only the chopping of wood and the carrying of water, without effort. The "I" is the one who efforts. I want to invite you to open up the question, not to conclude. And, if your mind is closed on the question of memory, find a question you are interested in.
Q: What interests me is the whole idea of salvation.
Then, if I may, I would kindly suggest that you are interested in learning about it, not actually discovering the fact of it. When one comes to that place of being willing to focus a lot of energy...you see, the Course says: "No one can fail who seeks to reach the truth....Single purpose makes it so." Do we know what single purpose is? How long do we stay with any purpose? And we are not talking about force, or "discipline". If our study of the Course becomes forced, throw it away. Find something which draws our interest, our attention, our energy so that we just have to do it. That's the kind of question that I am suggesting that each of us find. If you can find it, it will change your life. If you can find that burning question that you can't and won't accept a mental, conceptual answer for, one to which you do not already know the answer, and you're not willing to conclude; that question will change your life. Your life will become the answer to that question.
Q: God is a drag, isn't he?
To whom is he a drag?
Q: To me.
Find out who the "me" is. Who is it that thinks God is a drag? Who thinks enlightenment is difficult? The Course says: "What is joyful to you is painful to the ego?" Who are you anyway?
Q: What choice do we have?
There is really none. There is the choice of postponing or participating. That's what it really boils down to. This is postponing; time is postponing.
Q: What I'm getting from what you are saying is that there are no answers.
Not as concepts or words. Not that the brain can understand. The answer is incomprehensible, ununderstandable and unspeakable. God is.
Q: I don't think we have the capacity to understand God. I don't think we have evolved far enough.
It has nothing to do with evolution. The thing that does not understand God is precisely the mechanism that we have created to turn us away from God. Evolution is of time and time is of the mind which is the problem. It does not take time to be who you are. Evolution is form and fascination. It is a theory and it appears logical, but that does not necessarily mean that it is true. The Course says to question everything and I certainly, with respect to consciousness, question the concept of evolution. Time is a way of postponing, of separating cause and effect, of attempting to have pleasure without pain. Time is the device with which we fool ourselves so that we can have pleasure and hope that pain will not catch up with us. But, if we are being at all intelligent, we see it always does. So that time is only a device of deception.
Q: But we are in pain even without the pleasure.
Do you mean that your life is devoid of pleasure?
Q: Well, it is, compared to the real world as the Course describes it.
Do you know the real world? Or just the concept, the theory? Do we know that it exists? The Course has got to prove itself to me. The Course says to question everything; I assume that means also to question the Course. In Lesson 189 of the Workbook it says: "...lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is;...Do not bring...one belief you have ever learned from anything. Forget this world, forget this course and come with wholly empty hands unto your God." Have we got empty hands? Or are we too busy carrying around a lot of concepts and ideas? We don't want to admit that we don't know. That is the last thing we really want to do. We are all too willing to settle for a lot of empty abstract concepts rather than the truth. When are we going to be willing to look at this book and say: "I don't have a clue what it is really saying." I can read the words, I can make concepts of it, but when it comes to saying: "The past that you remember never was.", do we know that as a fact? or "The attack you thought your brother made on you never happened." We must see that if we think we understand the Course we are deceiving ourselves. One of my favorite questions is: "Who is the 'you' that the Course is talking to?" Think about that!
There is a way of perceiving where I actually see that what I do to that is done to me because that is not different from me. There is no place that I stop and you start. In fact, there is no "I" and there is no "you." And in that perception, giving and receiving are truly one. It's not a concept, it's not an idea, it's a fact - real, tangible, concrete, experiential reality. And it is that shift of perception that the Course is leading us to. So that we can literally "see" in this moment that there is no place, no boundary, no separation. Not as concept, not as idea, but a concrete experiential fact. That's what the Course means by a shift in perception. That is the radical, fundamental transformation of the mind. This is the only possibility for saving the world. This is salvation.
©1992 daan dehn