Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Some Recent Questions and Answers

Over the past couple of months, some wonderful questions have come in. Regular readers of the blog have discovered that an ongoing question and answer session is happening in the "comments" section below each entry of the blog. This new entry will feature some of the best questions and answers, a few of which have already appeared in the "comments," and some of which haven't.

Nathan: I have been watching the news lately on TV and the Internet, and it seems the whole world is going crazy. The financial thing currently happening feels very strange, like it must have felt to people right before the great depression. If we go into a new depression, does it mean that the terrorists won? And how do the principles taught in the course relate to the current craziness of the world? I realize there couldn't be any simple answer to any of this, but I'd love to hear any perspective you might have on anything I have mentioned.

DRB: Regarding what's going on in the news, and "the current craziness of the world" as you put it, it has all been forecast and predicted in many prophecies. All kinds of weird stuff will happen in this decade, and it is something certain people have been aware of for years. Look at the readings of Edgar Cayce for one well-known and well-documented example. We have always known these were going to be some wild and crazy years.

"If we go into a new depression, does it mean that the terrorists won?" What a fascinating concept. The financial state of the world is somewhat of a cleansing more than anything else. We needed to get rid of some bad money, to expel certain accumulated money karmas. Think of it as the system being flushed. Everything in structure is sound because it was set up that way from the beginning. The terrorists don't win, but the war goes on for close to thirty years. Don't hold your breath for that one to be over any time soon, unless you are doing advanced pranayamas and have had a good teacher.

As for where the principles as taught in the course fit into today's world, I can safely say that at no time in history would they be more relevant to anyone who wishes to live with some sanity in today's environment. The lessons of the Course are like a handbook or guidebook for living in today's world. Understanding the principles is more important now than at any point in our lifetimes.

We have to remember more than anything that we see what we think, and we experience what we think, and where our personal perceptions and experiences are concerned, they have their first cause in thought, in our own consciousness. This primary principle must be understood before the first thing can be accomplished. Yet the only way we can possibly understand it, in our present state, is through constant repetition and persistent reminders.

For this reason we take the course, we read the blog, and we do whatever else we do to remain conscious, present, alert, aware, and, well, alive. Otherwise we live in a world of thought-dreams, which is only one step removed from being asleep. Unfortunately, most people have no idea that they go through life in a dream-state. Hardly anyone is willing to be responsible for what they think. Anyway, this is my perspective on the things mentioned in your question.

Mely: Is it the same to live in the truth of the present moment and to forgive myself of the past?

DRB: Yes, Mely, it is the same.

When we live in the truth of the present moment, we are attuned to all the higher feelings that exist in potential in the depths of our being. These higher feelings include love, compassion, joy, cheerfulness, contentment, and forgiveness.

Ultimately, to experience our own purity and perfection, our own oneness with the cosmos, we must forgive everyone of everything, including ourselves.

We need to be free from blame in order to experience our own inner harmony. Blame presumes a 'wrongness' somewhere. Also, 'blame' includes both blaming and accepting blame. There is no reason for us to either blame another or to be the object of blame in someone else's deluded reality.

Live blame-free and be free.

If we are no longer to live in blame, then there is a natural and spontaneous inner shift where we find ourselves forgiving everyone for everything, including ourselves for everything that we feel guilt, shame, or blame about.

Forgive others of everything, and forgive yourself of everything as well, all the stupidity and the insensitity and all the rest of it. It is over now. It is time to move on.

We cannot fully forgive another unless we first forgive ourselves. Only then do we know what true forgiveness is. When full forgiveness has set in, which usually happens after an experience of inner surrender, we finally live free from blame.

Living in the Truth of the present moment is living in attunement to, and at-one-ment with, all the higher feelings potential in us, whether it be love, harmony, joy, peace, compassion, or forgiveness.

This openness, where we are one with all higher feelings simultaneously, is the state of an exalted sense of well-being. In this state we can live out our highest and grandest dreams, and truly live as our own hero.

L.L.: I don't want to be the bummer here, but how does one stay in the moment? I know and do breathing, mantra, meditating, but still, some of the old worries creep up on me. I come back and find that I'm holding my breath, I'm tense as steel cable and my thoughts are running wild.

DRB: Well, L.L. (you're not Bean are you?) the question you ask, "how does one stay in the moment?" is exactly what the course is about. It is a Course of Training focused on living in the Truth of the present moment. So I can't simply answer your question, as such, except to say to just keep on enjoying and practicing the principles present in the lessons and the blog. It is the kind of thing we learn little by little.

Your question is a little like going to the first day of a month-long swimming class and asking right off the bat, "By the way, how do you swim, anyway?"

If we were to suddenly be thrust into full consciousness of the absolute Truth of the present moment, our ego would be totally disoriented, and we'd feel like we had lost touch with "normal reality." So we take it one step at a time and build a strong foundation until we begin to approach the point that we can actually be present in the moment more and more often, and for longer and longer periods of time. It is a matter of practice, and of constant reminders.

Breathing, mantra, meditation, and all the various yogic practices are excellent means of purifying the mind and psychic system so that being present in the moment is possible. Still, the primary principle is that we have to do the work of the present moment. It is not something we do "later," or something we've done "before now."

We either practice the principles of Truth now, in this present moment, or we speak and act (and react) mechanically, according to how we have been conditioned or programmed in the past.

The only way to break through all the entanglements that catch us and hold us down is through consistent repetition and persistent practice. This is why we read the blog, and this is why we take the course.

Anonymous: I am confused by your statement "The Truth does not exist in cynicism." I am not a cynic or lover of cynics. But I thought that Truth (as opposed to truth) existed in everything and everyone and everywhere.
thank you in advance for your clarification.

DRB: This 'Anonymous' has referred to this paragraph in the previous entry:

"A cynical attitude indicates something still lurking to be cleaned out in the purification process. The Truth does not exist in cynicism, and when our mind becomes clearer and our awareness more refined, we are free from all forms of cynicism, sarcasm, and blame."

The Truth does indeed exist "in everything and everyone and everywhere," as you say. The Truth is the pure Consciousness that pervades and permeates the entire cosmos this very moment.

When I say the Truth does not exist in cynicism, it is because some people lose themselves in cynicism. When you visit, for example, one of these sites for people against some spiritual teacher or path -- if you can imagine such a thing -- most of the comments are of a very cynical, sarcastic, or blaming nature, and often all three combined.

When we get lost in cynicism, sarcasm, or blame, we lose touch with the Truth.

It is in this sense, this context, that I say that the Truth does not exist in cynicism.

Ari: I took a psychology class 20 years ago and remember one term that has always stood out for me. That is projecting: attributing one's own thoughts and behaviours onto others. This has always fascinated me. My wife and I had a "discussion" the other day. I had told her that she was more materialistic than I was and if she cut down on her purchases she wouldnt have to work so much. The next day, after some reflection, she told me I was "projecting" myself onto her. (I wondered if she snuck a peek at the second lesson?).

So my question becomes: How do you know whether you're projecting yourself onto someone or if you're pointing out something valuable to someone else based on your seemingly unbiased evalutation?

DRB: What a great question from Ari. Ari, I am very pleased with you that you have come up with this question.

The question is how to tell when we are projecting our own feeling, attitude, or quality onto another person, and when are we only pointing out something to them that they might want to understand about themselves in their own quest for freedom and growth.

If everyone understood the answer to this question, all their relationships would be upgraded at least 7 notches.

This question is actually one I have been questioning, exploring, examining, observing, and contemplating for about 40 years now, when I first became aware of the concept when I lived in Greenwich Village in the late sixties. How do you tell the difference between one and the other? It is a profound and significant question.

Here is as exact as I have gotten it to this point: We do project our own qualities, traits, attitudes, expectations, and anticipations onto others, and see these things in them when it actually has nothing to do with them.

For example, Fred is angry at Suzie, and relating with thinly-disguised passive-aggressive hostility, yet instead of recognizing it in himself, he only sees that Suzie is angry at him. Then he justifies his hostility towards her since she is (unjustifiably of course) angry with him in the first place -- although she actually isn't anything of the sort, and the whole thing is all Fred's own projection. He would be better off recognizing and taking responsibility for his own anger and subtle hostility, instead of projecting it onto Suzie.

On the other hand, Suzie might be in a bad mood, and be making hostile, provoking jabs at Fred, being sarcastic and contrary in response to anything he says or does, subconsciously trying to see how much he can take before he reacts and fires back at her. Finally Fred, who has managed to maintain his own state so far, decides to point out to Suzie what she is doing. Hopefully she will be open to hearing what he has to say, and does not only get more defensive with increased hostility for his bringing it to her attention.

Both of these things happen. How can we tell which is which?

The answer lies in our own feeling.

The trick is being honest with ourselves about what we are actually feeling.

The first way, where Fred projects his own anger and hostility upon Suzie, and blames it on her, he is feeling angry about her anger, hostile about her hostility, and is filled with blame and accusation: This conflict and discord is all her fault. This is a distinct feeling, negative and contracting in nature. If we are honest with ourselves, it is unmistakable. If we are open to seeing the truth of the moment, there should be no doubt about what the feeling is.

The second way, where Fred is only pointing out to Suzie that she is being more angry and hostile than she probably realizes, he himself feels no anger, no hostility, and most importantly, no blame, no accusation. He is only pointing it out to her, without personal attachment, without any feelings about it, in the event that she is open to hearing how she is being in case she wishes to switch to a more pleasant and harmonious feeling herself.

When we are projecting something onto another that has nothing to do with them, we ourselves are caught up in contracted and negative feelings about it. We feel like something is wrong, and that it is the other person's fault. We are filled with blame. There also is a strong sense of self-righteousness -- of being right and making wrong.

When we are objectively pointing out something about another in hopes that they will openly hear it for their own good, and for the good of the relationship, we are not attached to the consequences of our words. If the other hears us, great, if they don't, well, probably later they will see what we were talking about. Either way, we have no feeling about it. We are neutral. There is no negativity, no contraction, and most importantly, no blame. There is only compassion.

Compassion is one of the highest feelings to be developed. One who knows the Self lives in a state of unbroken and unconditional love and compassion.

Once we get that the whole answer lies in our own inner feeling, then our understanding and awareness of many things goes to an entirely new level.

Thanks again, Ari, for your great question.

Linda: Is there any one thing that you would advise us to remain aware of no matter what?

DRB: Yes, recognize the divinity within your own Self. Love and respect yourself as you are, no matter what you have done before this point. Only now is real. Heal yourself by forgiving yourself and others of everything that has come before now. Also, see the same divine Self in all others, and relate to the highest Self in them from your own heart. When you find your ego reacting to their ego, gently drop it, and return to relating to the other's highest Self from the perspective of your own highest Self.

Thank you for your attention. Everyone enjoy a great October.

For information about D. R. Butler's new Course of Training write: drbutler.course@gmail.com

29 comments:

ari said...

I have noticed at times my ego wants to take credit or appropriates itself as the owner of my spiritual work. I have a close spiritual friend that we bounce things off each other and talk about lives. At times, upon reflection, I have noticed we have taken a somewhat superior type attitude towards "others" who dont have our "superior" understanding. I have also noticed many times we also reaffirm our gratitude for discovering our spirtual practise togeather. so my question is how does one become more aware that they are not developing spirtual ego and becoming a spiritual character in this world?

Anonymous said...

I really like lesson 3. Could you explain a little more on the difference between the ego and the mind. I'm pretty sure I know about the Ego, but does it manipulate the mind? Or are they kind of like co-horts, working together? Thanks L.L. (yes, but not THAT Bean!)

John said...

Howdy folks,

We've been sitting back, enjoying the new lessons, the new blogs, and all the comments and figured that we should "check in" in order to fully participate.

It is quite the amazing crowd that is gathering here, from old timers like myself that first encountered DRB over 30 years ago to new readers discovering the magic of this course for the first time. I think we are all in for an exciting and wild ride.

One of the things that we have always found most compelling about the course is the way that the lessons seem to "correspond" to the current events and happening in our lives - it is after all a "correspondence course". It has been fun to recently observe how much the subject of "now" has been popping up for us in conversations, on TV shows and in magazines.

I want to share part of a very interesting article from our most recent AARP magazine (yes, we are old) about this lady who suffered a stroke
that shut down the left hemisphere of her brain. Check out her quote: "When you are really paying attention to the richness of the present moment, that's right-minded awareness. The left hemisphere is preoccupied with the past and the future, projecting fears, contemplating ideas that aren't relevant to the here and now. Once you realize
you have these two different brains, you can learn how to
choose, moment by moment, how you want to live."

Don't you love it when science starts catching up with ancient truth.

All our love, j&t San Diego

chris said...

Two concepts from Lesson 3 are especially speaking to me recently. The first is this quote from page 3,
“Joy naturally and spontaneously exists in the present moment.
When we learn to live in the Truth of the present moment, a natural
joy arises from within without any external stimuli to cause it.” and the passing use of the term “painted reality” on page 6.

What a priceless word picture, painted reality. I understand paintings. I can enjoy them, dislike them, or ignore them altogether. I can appreciate the composition, the colors, or react emotional with them. Still, I am always aware that they are paintings, not directly connected with me or my life. In the same way, I can chose this moment to view everything in the realm of my perception like a painting. Whether it is a person or place or a thought or emotion, it's like a painting, painted reality. It's not me. Nothing I can perceive is me. Like a painting on the wall I can view it all as it is but with the detachment that comes from the knowledge that I am not that. What I am, my true identity is that joy that naturally hides always in the present moment.

I connect with a real sense of freedom when I contemplate this kind of understanding. There is real joy in the detachment of not grasping the “things” of perception while trying to own them or identify with them. Christ said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”. Thank you for allowing me to see and experience this truth from a new, deeper angle.

Thanks with love,
chris

D. R. Butler said...

This is in answer to Ari's new question above. He is asking how to avoid developing spiritual ego. Spiritual ego is when we think, "I'm understanding so much, I am really getting somewhere on the spiritual path, I wish everyone else would learn to understand the same things I understand."

It is indeed a superior attitude. The thing about ego is that it emphasizes our sense of separation and difference, and makes us feel "better off" or "worse off" than others. In "spiritual ego" we invariably feel "better off."

When we truly begin to develop spiritually, the primary thing we begin to notice in the beginning is that we naturally become more humble. There is more a sense of thankfulness and gratitude regarding everything near and dear to us. There is also no sense of there being anyone that we are in any way "superior" to. We recognize that everyone is equally an expression or manifestation of the same eternal Self.

The simple practice of repeating the gratitude prayer at sunset, and again upon awakening and before drifting to sleep, will help develop humility and prevent feelings of superiority from displaying themselves.

Remember, there is never anyone "lower" than us in anyway. Some people do lack understanding, but for a truly spiritual person, that only evokes compassion.

"There but for the grace of a loving God goes Johnson." -- Dr. Samuel Johnson

Anonymous said...

noticing that you may be developing into a spiritual ego is part of overcoming such a thing, be humble, hide your knowledge and be aware of the present moment. living in the now does not include judging anyone, including your self. besides since the ego doesn't really exist, it doesn't matter which kind it is.

uparati

D. R. Butler said...

This is in answer to L.L.'s new question above regarding what is the difference between ego and mind?

L.L., this is a subject that we will explore much more through the lessons. It is a little too involved for the blog. We spend much of the first year of the course developing our understanding of the mind and ego, and how they work together in tandem to cause us all our trouble.

In short, mind (manas in Sanskrit) is our conscious mind that connects us to the world around us as it coordinates the input of the physical senses. The mind thinks and doubts, then thinks and doubts some more.

The ego (ahamkara in Sanskrit) is that in us that identifies with objects and activities, including the physical body we currently inhabit, the mind and emotions, and appropriates them all to itself: "this is me," "I think this," "I feel this way." Its primary relationship to the mind is to identify with it and believes itself to be the thinker. "I think this about that."

The mind and ego are the primary battleground that spiritual work (sadhana) takes place on. Most of the work we do is to purify the mind and ego so that we can eventually experience the Truth of our own inner Self.

As I said, we will discuss this in detail in the lessons so that your understanding will be complete.

D. R. Butler said...

I just have to say that J&T from San Diego are two of my favorite people in the world, and I have stayed at their home on many occasions when I was leading workshops in the area. They are two of the most warm and genuine people anyone could hope to meet.

I want to thank John for his astute sharing from his AARP (lol) magazine. Yes, they're old, but not nearly as old as some of us.
Together they have attained a natural wisdom that serves them well. J&T, I love you guys a lot.

Melissa Abbott said...

Isn't it true that if you are living in the present moment then you are ageless. There is no past, there is no future. You just one in the infinate moment. Aren't concepts about age part of living in "another now" other "this present moment"?

D. R. Butler said...

The soul is ageless; spirit is ageless; only the physical body ages, and even the elements of the body are never older than seven years, as the body completely renews itself every seven years.

"Aging" is indeed a state of mind. One who lives in the present moment knows no age.

There is a way, however, of physically aging gracefully, which usually takes the form of a keenly developed sense of humor.

If your comment springs from John's comment about "being old," I can assure you that he does not take his age seriously, and that he and Trice both have a great storehouse of humor regarding the reality of aging gracefully.

Melissa Abbott said...

Didn't mean to seem like I was picking on anyone...Maybe I was just exhibiting my spiritual ego.... (that was a joke)..lol

Meanwhile, your San Diego friends brought up an interesting point about the right and left sides of the brain.... which leads me to another contemplation...Are there right and left sides of the ego as well? Little ego and Big Ego..little self and Big Self?
Sometimes I think of living in at-one-ment or being in the moment - or zen mind (whatever you call it) as my Bigger Inner Self that seems omnipresent and universal and then there is that little self that worries about petty things like comparisons to others or whether I am getting old so maybe I might joke about it to others. So I think about these 2 parts of myself as the little one and the big one.... I guess that it is just the way it is but I wonder if I should ignore the small stuff or use it as fuel to drive me to bigger realizations...After all they say the devil is in the details and sometimes the energy of those details blasts you out of yourself into another bigger realm of considering things.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned in a recent post to repeat "the gratitude prayer". Did I miss the words to this prayer in an earlier post? It sounds like a delightful way to begin and end the day. Could you please share the words to this prayer?

D. R. Butler said...

The gratitude prayer was first mentioned near the end of the blog entry titled "Entering a New Era."

I thought I had shared the words in the blog. Perhaps it was in a comment somewhere. Anyway, as described in Lesson 3, it is said:

One of the most effective ways to counteract egoistic tendencies is to cultivate gratitude. Being thankful for our life as it is expands and upgrades our current state. Join me and others in our community around the globe at sunset every day in thanking God, the Infinite Omnipresence, for the goodness in our life and for our infinite well-being. Remember, what we are thankful for is what we attract to ourselves.

Every day upon awakening, and again at sunset in communion together, and every night upon going to sleep, affirm something like, for example: "Thank you, Father, for hearing me, and for your care and guidance of me and mine. I know that you always hear, care for, and guide us in all our ways."

Feel this prayer in your heart. Or use whatever prayerful affirmation works for you, in your own way of being thankful. The aim is to evoke heartfelt gratitude.

jimi said...

In lesson 3 you say, "When we learn to live in the Truth of the present moment,a natural joy arises from within without any external stimuli to cause it. Children experience this all the time because they haven't yet created egotistical melodramas to taint it."

The following happened in between readings of the lesson, and as was mentioned earlier, seemed to "correspond" w/the lesson, so I thought I'd share it:

Recently we watched some David Blaine stuff on TV. The guy is beyond incredible. Anyway, something he said really struck me. He said," Magic has a purpose." And went on to explain (and here I have to paraphrase pretty freely) that it was to, at least for a moment, cause us to drop our concepts of what the world is like. Then he said (and this is almost verbatim) that little children don't need magic because they live in a world of continuous amazement.

Ironically the next night we went out to dinner w/the grandkids (ages 3 1/2& 7 months) & they had such a fabulous time. Watching them, the reason was pretty obvious: they live in a world of continuous amazement. That is to say, the present moment. Just seeing how incredibly happy someone is when they do this is truly an inspiration & reminds me that it is possible.

D. R. Butler said...

Jimi, thank you for your beautiful sharing. We have our weekly encounters with 3-year-old energy when our grandson, son of Kay's daughter Tiffany, comes for his weekly sleepover. He is indeed a bundle of joy. The world is certainly a constant source of amazement for him. Too bad we tend to take everything for granted as we grow older.

Keeping it in the family, we lost Kay's mother a year ago on October 1st. She had lived a full life and was in her 90th year in that physical body. Anyway, along the theme brought up in John's comment above, a few years before her transition she had a stroke that, like John said about the other woman, shut down the left side of her brain.

It was very interesting from the point of view of spiritual work, as after her stroke her usual samskaras (tendencies and patterns) more or less disappeared except when they momentarily appeared in the moment, and then she just as quickly forgot them all over again. She had just about lost all short-term memory, and could hardly carry a conversation because she couldn't remember the last thing said. Yet, in the moment, she was completely happy almost all the time. She had no problems anymore, because she couldn't remember them. She was at her very best, and in bright spirits, most of the time over the last few years before the appointed time for the grand transition to subtle existence once again.

I had the honor of speaking at her funeral, and I talked about how she was one of the few people I ever personally knew that actually lived in the present moment all the time. It seemed like a great blessing to spend your last few years delighting in the present moment, through the grace of the stroke.

Thanks again for your sharing.

Rosemary said...

I was very delighted to discover your blog yesterday. I had always wondered what had happened to you! I saw you in person at least four times in Los Angeles where you gave one or two day talks. Once we even smiled and said hello to each other on a coffee break. Those talks were just magical, in addition to the amazing transmission of lots of heart energy!

I even remember a couple of the topics your covered - some of the stuff was very mysterious and dealt with ancient history and very, very cool stuff. I remember stuff you said about ancient Egypt. Way cool.

When I got on my computer this morning and started to read your blog, I almost cried, because I felt those same heart-based energies that I had missed for such a long, long time. It was like having an old friend back.

Anyway, I'll just kindly ask to receive all the info regarding the e-mail course. It will be like having a wonderful old friend back in my life!

Liz said...

I would like to ask you something that is very near and dear to my heart. My spiritual path is very important to me. Throughout the years of my life, I only found one way, one path, that really works for me. Yet, I have some friends and family who are very negative about my spiritual path, and seem to want to make it sound like something terrible and ugly.

What do you do when some of the people you love most turn against the spiritual path that means so very much to you? I just need some guidance, some way of understanding this so that I can deal with it. As it is, I feel like it's a constant negative onslaught when I am around them.

D. R. Butler said...

Well, Liz, as the saying goes, with friends like that, who needs enemies?

Anyone who puts down another's spiritual path is, in my way of thinking, the lowest kind of person. They commit the most adharmic act of all by undermining another's connection to the inner Self of all.

There will always be people who put down the great teachers, spiritual guides, and paths. It is simply the way of the world. I wrote about this in the very early lessons of the original course, back in 1975. There are always those who will be quick to criticize, persecute, and cruxify those who dare to teach the Truth.

Such persecution has been going on for centuries. It's certainly not going to stop now as we enter further into Kali Yuga--the cycle when most people are spiritually ignorant, but which is the very best time to do spiritual work. Something about all the spiritually ignorant people enables the ones who do genuine spiritual work (sadhana) to actually practice the teachings of their path.

It is a strange paradox, yet it is true. Even if you are working on developing and strengthening the physical body, you cannot grow without resistance. In a similar way, when we come across those who resist our path, who criticize and put down the teachings of Truth--which all great spiritual teachers have taught in their own ways--it actually creates greater opportunities for us to practice the teachings of our own path. Strangely the outer resistance makes inner growth possible. Be sure to make use of the opportunity.

When others speak badly of your spiritual path, just remind yourself, "Forgive them, for they know not what they are doing." Have compassion for them. Always have compassion for ignorance. It is amazing to see how ignorant some very intelligent and educated people can be. Yet, their belittling your path is something you can use for your own work and greater growth. Use that energy from them to activate your own heart energy, and simply experience your own unconditional love.

Go beyond the petty opinions of others; don't let their negativity get you down. Most people have no idea whatsoever what they are talking about, and fewer still have the capacity to think for themselves. The older you get, you more you discover just how true this is. It is absolutely amazing.

Above all things, remain true to your own heart. Follow your own path in spite of external opposition from others. If they are truly your friends and family, and you remain steadfastly attuned to your own inner heart, if they have any sense at all, they might eventually learn something great from you.

Hopefully you will be the light in their lives, instead of allowing them to be the darkness in yours.

chris said...

Most of us have read the last page of lesson 3 where it talks about how our inner Awareness, “If we are consciously aware of it, and thankful for its existence in and as our life...will radiate from deep within us, and we will beam as we go throughout the day, spontaneously radiating light and love outward to others through our words and actions. This is the greatest contribution we can offer to the world in which we live.”

I, like so many others have been feeling the crushing weight of the financial crises. I had a recent phone conversation with my daughter in college where I felt it was my parental duty to remind her of her need to get a job and that perhaps she was not looking hard enough. The conversation ended badly and I could tell I really stressed her out. I realized that I had not yet internalized the teachings of the lessons and that I was projecting my own fears and negative thinking on her. I called her up and apologized for laying such a stressful trip on her and told her that I've been taking this course that's teaching me to not put energy into negative thoughts, but to focus on positive ones such as gratitude and that I'm working on it every day. She immediately accepted my apology and I could hear the relief and release in her voice.

This event with my daughter as well as various occurrences at work where I've noticed myself not being as positive as I could be, has made me indeed grateful for the lessons and especially the above quote which reminds me that my spiritual journey is not for me alone, but that I have a responsibility to those around me to pursue Awareness diligently for their sakes as well as mine. If I carry an attitude of gratitude with me throughout the day instead of an attitude of ATTITUDE I can truly make a difference for others.

I see this also in light of Liz's share about her condemning friends. I've been on both sides of religious condemnation myself at points in my life and I'm really seeing now that my true religious responsibility is to do the work of sadhana in each present moment and let the light of Awareness shine as I focus on and reflect gratitude, joy, compassion, and humility. By the way, I've set my cell phone alarm to remind me of when sunset is happening in order to join you all in the gratitude prayer.

Michael said...

I'm always looking for ways to transmute obstacles into opportunities. Thanks for reminding me that "I can use this resistance [whatever it might be in this moment -- inner or outer] for greater growth."

I will often take a phrase a day from the lesson or blog and jot in on a folded index card. Then I place it in my pocket and refer to it throughout the day.

What works best for me is to rephrase the statement as a gentle command to my mind and ego. For example, I "cut" the following from a paragraph in lesson three:

Step back
and refocus
on the Truth
of the present moment.


When I felt anxious at work, I repeated the phrase silently several times until it captured my attention. I became aware of a feeling of compassion for my ego, which had been describing the situation as "overwhelming" and feeling "helpless." At the same time, I felt a deep inner bliss that was not opposed to any manifestation whatsoever. To my amazement I found that I could be "in" this "painted reality" you so beautifully explained in lesson 2 but not be "of" it.

I feel so very fortunate to be part of an expanding community of seekers / finders of the Truth.

With love,

Michael

Tara said...
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D. R. Butler said...

Tara, the main thing you have to learn in this lifetime is to Love Yourself. You will never feel loved until you do.

When you finally unconditionally love yourself, you will live in love all the time.

Don't wait for someone else to love you. Don't demand or expect those who love you to continuously demonstrate it and reassure you that you are loved.

Of course you are loved. Your husband loves you, your children love you, your many friends all love you, and your siblings from your family of origin all love you. God loves you infinitely and unconditionally.

Yet you can never experience the feeling of being loved until you finally, unconditionally, love yourself exactly as you are. Don't demand that you be different or that you improve in some way before you consider yourself worthy of love.

You are a beautiful child of God, and love holds the entire universe together just as the string holds the beads of a necklace together. Everything is connected by love, we live and breathe and have our being in an ocean of love. Yet if we are oblivious to the enormous love that permeates our life, we miss out on it and feel unloved.

You deserve better than this. Love yourself. Put a sign on your fridge or your mirror or wherever you will see it often: Love Yourself. Practice this every day until you gradually develop the capacity to live in love.

Love is our true nature; our true Being is bubbling over with love. We only have to consciously recognize and appreciate the vastness of the love that already holds the entire world together. This love exists right now in your very own heart. Go there and revel in it.

Love Yourself.

Nancy Bobb said...

Dear D.R. Butler,

My husband and I are reading Lesson 3 together now—he sometimes reads aloud to me and we also each refer to our current lesson regularly, if only for a paragraph, or however long it takes to tune in to the greater reality—and we both make a real attempt to keep up with what’s going on in the blog community (of which you told us somewhere recently that the blog and the lessons are both part of a greater whole, and that it is part of the Course to keep up with the blog).

Anyway, here’s my question:
In lesson 2 was it? You said the husband and wife could say to each other…. “Come back to the moment; come back to our love,” and when I extended that invitation, during a moment of some ruffled feathers, the “other” said “That’s an insult! Don’t you get how you have to be seeing me in a limited way to even say that? It’s disrespectful to assume that I am not in the moment…” and stuff to that effect.

It seemed like such a wonderful pact to make with ourselves and with each other—“Let’s not just take the Course this time; let’s really do the Course; let’s really live it”—and I’m having the time of my life with him doing just that—returning again and again to the Truth of the present moment inside myself.

However, and it’s a big however, isn’t it okay to live it on that level too, the level where we’re husband and wife and doing our Course together and this is what it says in the Course so it’s not only acceptable but preferable if we celebrate every attempt to put it into practice on any level, even the “couples” level…?

If you can hear my question in that, I’d appreciate (and I’m sure other couples taking the Course together would appreciate) understanding why my sweet and loving (as sweet and loving as I could possibly make it in that moment when we had been less than sweet and loving) request to come back to the heart, back to our love, did not seem to work for us the way you suggeted it might.

I was making, I felt, a real effort to be together with him in that space again—sweet and loving and sincere request to “come back to the present moment, come back to me, come back to our love” said with as much warmth as I could muster—what’s a girl to do to get her hubby back during those times when he seems to have forgotten the agreement to respond to that request to come back to the Self, share the moment and heal whatever rift is there by forgiving and forgetting everything all the time.

Again, I absolutely love the Course and everything about it and I’m basking in gratitude this moment. Thank you Father, for hearing me…

D. R. Butler said...

I received Nancy's question a few days ago, and I have been contemplating what is truly needed here, what might actually "throw some light on the situation," as they say. She brought up quite a few points, several of which are very subtle in nature, and there are many avenues of approaching an answer to her true question. So I have let it percolate for a few days before responding.

I know Nancy and her husband. They attended several classes I gave back when I was an active traveling teacher. Now I do the work in a more relaxed manner, and am content to exchange comments here on the Internet.

Anyway, a few days after receiving this question from her, when I had not answered, she wrote to confess that the very next time her husband said to her, "Come back to the moment, come back to the heart," she retorted, "That's easy for you to say."

She said, "My husband only smiled, and suddenly I knew I had been caught, and that I had sprung my own trap. I made a big deal of writing you that question, and then the very next time I had an opportunity to respond in the way that I had hoped my husband would respond, I reacted like a jerk."

Her more recent communication, which I just quoted from, explained why I might have been a bit slow in responding to her original question. I felt there was more to the question than was written, and it turned out here was. I even contemplated whether this exchange should be included in the blog or not, and have concluded that it's just too juicy to pass up, and that probably all couples can relate to it in some way or another.

First I want to say that Nancy and her husband are excellent examples of a couple doing sadhana together, doing the work of the present moment together. Nothing is as rich for spiritual work and growth of the soul than a day-to-day real-life relationship. For years both of them have shared from time to time how the ancient principles have such practical applications in their own marriage. I wish more couples would read the course together, and discuss the principles together, and apply them in a real way in the dynamics of their own relationship.

If you are in relationship with someone, I strongly recommend incorporating the study and practice of the principles as a vital aspect of the relationship, to whatever degree is practical in your own situation.

Maintaining the harmony, peace, love, and respect of the relationship is as great a sadhana, as great a spiritual path, as there is. In a relationship, there are never-ending opportunities to come back to the present, come back to the heart, come back to your love.

The egos involved constantly bump against each other, react to each other, blame each other, and on and on. It takes constant work to make a relationship work, to make it alive in the present moment, and it is a great path, a great spiritual discipline, simply to go beyond the ego enough to make the relationship work.

One thing Nancy made a point of mentioning several different times in her original question, was how "sweet" and "nice" and "loving" and "sincere" and filled with "warmth" her request to return to the moment was. In fact, she mentioned how "sweet and loving" she was three different times.

This sent up a red flag for me. If she was so sweet and loving and filled with warmth, why was she making such a point about it? Who was she trying to convince?

It is very easily possible to be sweet and loving and sincere and nice and filled with warmth, and still quite anchored in one's own ego. In fact, it is very common for people to be outwardly "sweet and loving" while inwardly being very manipulative and controlling.

Kay and I were having our own conversation last night, and I mentioned to her--for some reason, I actually can't remember the context--that being hostile and being reactive are two different things. Being one was does not necessarily mean that we will be the other as well.

We can be egotistical and reactive, and yet outwardly maintain a "sweet and loving" front. We can also be hostile while outwardly appearing "sweet and loving." By now I must have mentioned the term even more than Nancy.

We can be reactive and hostile at the same time, and they often do go together; yet we can also be one or the other while outwardly apearing "sweet and loving." We can be subtly manipulative and controlling, while wearing a very pleasant outer facade.

We can also be very loving and compassionate while outwardly appearing grumpy or stern or anything else. Outward appearances cannot be trusted when it comes to what anyone is actually thinking or feeling, and we especially cannot tell what kind of state another person is in simply by how he outwardly appears or acts at any particular moment.

This is why we need to learn to relate through subtle identities instead of egos based on identification with the physical body.

There will be a whole section of the course devoted to exploring the dynamics of relationships.

Anyway, based on the follow-up communication from Nancy after writing her question, you can see what a queasy foundation many of us have. We think we have a firm footing in something significant, and then the next day we are thrown totally off balance. She wrote a whole letter asking why her husband didn't respond positively when she "sweetly and lovingly" asked him to return to the present and the heart, and then the very next time he reminded her of the same exact thing, she replied, "That's easy for you to say."

This story just says it all. It's so rich we could all contemplate it for days and get more and more insights each time we think of it.

Anyway, to conclude answering her "question," her husband responded to her "sweet and loving" suggestion by saying, to quote Nancy, “That’s an insult! Don’t you get how you have to be seeing me in a limited way to even say that? It’s disrespectful to assume that I am not in the moment…”

What if...just for the sake of exploring potential alternate realities...he was being totally truthful and honest in his response? What if, just to consider another possibility, he was the one in the moment and in the heart, and Nancy was in some egotistical melodrama based around making him wrong?

Remember, there are an infinite number of ways to describe any situation, and however we describe the situation to ourselves will determine our perception and experience of it. In this way we create our own life as we move through from one moment to the next. What we think is what we get.

Let's conclude this with the simple reminder to always see the highest in each other, regardless of what might momentarily be happening on a physical, emotional, mental, or melodramatic level. All levels are true simultaneously, and we don't have to concern ourselves with figuring which is more real than another. They are all relatively real.

Our experience is determined by how we focus our attention, not by anything or anyone external to us.

See your partner as you want him to be, see the highest in him, feel your gratitude for being allowed to share life with someone so wonderful, and you might be amazed at how quickly and completely he improves for the better.

Rosemary said...

Hi! I have a question about some of the material in Lesson 1, which I just received. This lesson, at least partly, deals with the concept that "the past and the future exist in the mind only, as ideas or concepts of what was and what might be". But what about past life experiences? There are whole teaching systems that deal with past life experiences, although that doesn't appeal to me as a path of study. I just know that once I actually had a past life experience when I was inside an Indian spiritual center, and that experience enriched my life greatly, and I find that experience continues to give me comfort and inspiration in my present circumstances, and helps me understand why I am in an incarnation right now. Isn't a past life experience a good thing, if it inspires you in your present life in a positive way?

Rosemary said...

Hi Ram: I was just thinking - it might be interesting and very timely if you would consider posting some detailed comments for us regarding the crashing stock market and failing economy in this country. I did see you mentioned it being a karmic situation, but I think a lot of us would love to read in more detail any thoughts you might have (as you always seem to pin things down to the most important cause) about this - such as when you see the financial crisis and stock market problems easing up, etc. This situation is probably impacting a lot of us very very personally. I know I have been having a hard time dealing with it emotionally, as everything I have is in the Market. And I'll bet I'm not the only blogger here thinking this way. Your insights are always so to the point and filled with great wisdom and truth. I'd love to hear your take on this situation.
Love, Rosemary

D. R. Butler said...

This is a response to Rosemary's question about the present state of the economy.

I recommend very strongly that you follow the "news" as covered by the media as an interesting movie, without getting personally involved in the constant fluctuations. The outer world will never appear perfectly balanced and harmonious. We can only find these qualities on the inside. The outer world can never present us with stillness and stability. These qualities have to be found on the inside. The outer world will never give us reasons to feel safe and secure. We can only find these reasons on the inside.

Even if all your funds are in the stock market, simply sit back and relax for the wild ride. It will go up and down forever. Do not allow outer fluctuations to affect your inner state. Remain still and steady on the inside.

Simply know that you are cared for. Thank your infinite Father every day for his (It's) care and guidance of you and yours. Join with all of us as a community every day at sunset wherever you are, and feel gratitude for all God's care and guidance in all our ways. A heartfelt gratitude for all the goodness in life is all that is required to join with the rest of us, and in mass affirmation there is great power.

In the lessons of the course we will discuss fully how to develop and maintain a prosperity consciousness regardless of what is going on outside. We will discover sooner or later that once we are conscious of prosperity, we could not experience any other condition.

First causes lies in consciousness. What we think is what we get.

Be still and know that "I" (the inner "I" with each of us) AM the Light (that guides and cares for us in all our ways.) Become good friends with your own eternal Self, and the jugglings of the media will never disturb your state again.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ram,

I do not know how to keep the environment don't affects me, and I express my contract or openly dependent on how I feel in the atmosphere. For example at work, sometimes I can lose the job because I do not know overlay to it. Or because I do not know how to fit the injustices and favoritism contigunos. I understand that my samskaras and ego are reacting to certain situations.

Thank you

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