Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March Is a New Beginning

An old friend recently remarked that March means new beginnings. This hit me in just the right spot. During March we have the Spring Equinox, during which the warmth of the Sun returns, preventing the Earth from plunging into a perpetually dark and frozen place, and instead there is a rebirth: vegetation turns green again and the flowers bloom and we mysteriously feel better on the inside. Who doesn’t enjoy the return of a new spring?

If you live anywhere near me, you have endured a colder than usual winter and perhaps still have snow on the ground. Our dog Meggie saw the ground a few weeks ago for the first time this year, which seemed to bring back old memories for her. Then the big snow came, and that was followed by the bigger snow, and now there is a frozen white world outside, sprinkled in with the giant evergreens in the back that preside majestically over the whole scene. They have been here longer than we have, and their changeless nature inspires me.

I have said that 2010 will be a much kinder year for all of us than 2009, which was sometimes seemingly merciless. This is based partly on planetary influences, which look to be more beneficent in the coming months after many trials and tests last year.

We can each share in a new beginning, in our own way, however we wish to be new, or however we wish to see our life as new. We have a clean slate in each moment, yet the ordinary tendency is to immediately recreate the past, maintaining the sense of continuity for the sake of the ego.

Yet we have the innate and inherent power to create whatever we like in each moment, as well as to create our perception and experience of the objective world of humanity, which we do subconsciously all the time anyway. The trick is to do it consciously, which isn’t really ‘doing’ it at all. It is simply applying will to focus attention according to our conscious intent.

In our course via email, we focus on being more established in what is eternally changeless, while simultaneously being open for transformation in the areas that can be transformed for a life of greater fulfillment and contentment. We simultaneously learn to enjoy the eternally changeless, while participating in the divine transformation, similar to the bud blooming into the magnificent flower. Our life is very similar to the process of the bud blossoming into the flower.

Only the bud doesn’t try to ‘figure out’ with the mind what it should do next. It simply enjoys the natural blossoming which happens on its own accord, according to divine plan. This is the simplest and easiest way of approaching all of life; as truly everything does happen according to divine plan, regardless of whatever choices or decisions we ever think we make.

It has come to my attention lately that many people are hungry for satsang, for the company of like-minded people who share the path of self-discovery and self-development. Some of us have the karma to have access to such groups physically, and others are invited to join us in satsang right here, a virtual satsang that takes place in the comments of the blog, which can be found following each monthly entry.

New readers are invited to check out the sense of camaraderie in the comments, as we share ideas, ask questions, contemplate answers, and generally experience a feeling of community based on our common interest in self-development and spiritual growth. Our subtle community is all-inclusive, and no one is excluded for any reason whatsoever. There are beginners as well as people who have done sadhana for many years, and often have tried out many paths. It is a good balance.

The ‘comments’ following each entry are truly the best part of the blog, and I’d hate for anyone to miss out on them by being unaware of them. For now, I will share a couple of the exchanges from last month’s comments.

Steve C. asked exactly how do we come into harmony with the conditions and situations of daily life. The response:

How to come into harmony?

Establish a conscious intent to be in harmony with everything as it is.

See everything as equally the play of supreme Consciousness.

Replace anger or annoyance with amusement or compassion.

Have unconditional love and compassion for everyone.

See only God in everything, even your lack of harmony.

Forgive yourself for getting freaked out. Know that it's okay.

Remember that everything is perfect even when it's not ideal.

See the things of this world as things of this world; it isn't intended to be heaven, although it can be if we see God in everything.

Understand that one reason we participate in our course via email is so we can learn more and more how to come into harmony with whatever comes up.

Persistently practice with patience.

I enjoyed the dialogue with Kathy, which was productive for many:

Kathy: I was wondering if you wouldn't mind elaborating on the idea of "there's no such thing as trying" which you mention in the last lesson. From starting to do something...to actually doing it...isn't the time in between the time you are "trying?" I feel this is important and I know that the "I'm trying" idea has been sandblasted into our makeup. Just love to chat about this a second.

DRB: Good question, and the answer has a lot to do with understanding doership. One aspect of sadhana, or spiritual practices, is to gradually transcend the idea of being the doer of actions. The divine universal Power of God (Shakti) performs all actions.

Our part in this is exercising control over what we think and what we create, because our thoughts determine how the Shakti (Universal Power, the Power of God) creates our personal reality. Our personal reality exactly reflects how we think and our predominant mental attitude.

The sense of 'trying' is mostly associated with the ego. The ego is greatly identified with being the doer of action, and is actually a little put off at the idea of there not being a doer.

The way to accomplish anything is to first create in thought exactly what we want, and the next step is to feel as though our creation is already real. All this is explained in detail in the first year of the course.

Once we see the end result and feel that it is already real, there is no further need for 'trying.' We will be intuitively guided regarding what we need to 'do' in each present moment to 'do our part' in allowing our creation to manifest outwardly.

Once we understand the nature of 'trying,' we see that it is not only unproductive but actually distracting. It is much easier and simpler to simply know that our ideal is already real in our feeling, which is our subtle reality, and what is real subtly will in time be reflected outwardly in the physical world.

Kathy: Thanks, I think I got it. Totally enlightening! In a sense "trying" is a type of "doubting" correct? Doubting in action so to speak or doubting in sheep’s clothing.

There is no middle step needed between the idea of what you want to create and getting there except following your intuitive guidance. Ah...that's the trick isn't it?

If that's so, now the question is, how do we stay totally in tune with our intuitive guidance from any point A to point B. Sometimes it seems obvious and sometimes it does seem like you have to try. So maybe when we find ourselves trying we should stop doing that!

DRB: You are absolutely correct. When you notice you are trying, remind yourself that your ego has gotten involved, and you need to let go once again.

Weird thing about this letting go thing; we have to keep letting go over and over again. It takes a while for something to actually be finished to the point that it doesn't come up again. And 'trying' is a deeply ingrained samskara from a very early age.

You (Kathy) said: "There is no middle step needed between the idea of what you want to create and getting there except following your intuitive guidance. Ah...that's the trick isn't it?"

Your words speak the truth. That is the trick. Inner guidance always exists in the present moment. It won't tell us what we will need to do later, which the mind endlessly tries to figure out, but it will always tell us what we need to do right now. It will either be intuitively obvious or not worth thinking about.

Sometimes the most vital thing to do right now is to relax and be completely at ease for a while. If it seems that it is not obvious what to do now, then I would go that route. Most of us are too busy trying to do the next thing, when we actually need to kick back and do something fun for a while. Fun, laugher, and relaxation are very rejuvenating.

Kathy: What about those times when you feel you should be doing something but you're not sure what it is? Is that a sign that's it's still not time to do anything?

DRB: That is the ego. The ego persistently thinks it should be doing something, getting somewhere, making some progress with something, staying busy, getting things done.

Once someone asked my Teacher how to know what to do next. My Teacher replied, "I didn't know life was about doing; I thought life was about being."

It is so easy for us to exhaust ourselves doing, whether we actually accomplish anything worthwhile or not, but for some reason we have such a hard time simply enjoying being. In the grand scheme of things, it is much more important to be than to do.

Practice enjoying simply being without feeling like you have to constantly be busy doing. It goes against our conditioning, but it will bring much joy and contentment to your life.

It is just as important to relax and enjoy ourselves as it is to do our work. There must be a harmonious balance, without going too far in either direction.

Kathy: This has really given me great insight, hope I can remember it daily. Thank you.

DRB: Thank you for hanging in there until your understanding was clear. It is a great example for all of us.

85 comments:

Eileen said...

A few weeks ago, when I first read ‘Remember that everything is perfect even when it's not ideal’, it seemed for a moment like reading an oxymoron. Then, almost just as instantly, it was as though a 10,000-megawatt light bulb turned on inside of me. AHA – here was a fact that had eluded my understanding of why I was reacting to my life circumstances the way I was. Very pleasantly surprising also is how this not-so-little nugget of wisdom, along with (re-)reading Lessons 1 and 2, has somehow opened up a whole new level of comprehension for me of teachings I’ve been acquainted with for sometime. It almost feels like another layer within me got emptied out, providing space into which new capacities for practice and assimilation could be poured and allowed to settle into my being. The confluence of these new understandings and the ‘new beginnings’ heralded by the month of March fill me with renewed enthusiasm and eagerness to work with Grace to create a life for me that I envision as my ideal. I cannot thank you enough, D.R. and Kay, for the big positive change you’ve brought into my world at just the time that I needed it.

Anonymous said...

My best friend died in Hawaii unexpectantly last week. He introduced me to meditation 16 years ago and changed my life profoundly. Like you DR he was my teacher and dear friend. Although I feel some grief and sadness I mostly feel a lot of love and my heart has opened up. I dreamed of him the night I found out he passed. We were on a mountain seemingly above the earth. It appeared that I was visiting him. The mountains were carved out so exquisitely I commented to him that a graphic designer created them. He just smiled. I know he's in a good place and that comforts me. He was an incredible yogi. You may have met him at one of the ashrams we frequented. He devoted his life to meditation and healing people through the transmission of energy. He touched everyone in a special way by his open heart.

How can I maintain a relationship with him despite his passing? I want to continue to honor him in my life. Any comments?

D. R. Butler said...

Eileen, thank you for your sharing. Your comment is very inspiring. It is a huge AHA for many people when they truly see the distinction between being perfect and being ideal.

Perfection exists whether we ever see it or not. What seems ideal to us is determined by how we have been previously conditioned or programmed. Even when things aren't ideal, they are still always perfect.

Anonymous, relationships are primarily of a subtle nature. The physical relationship is, at most, the tip of the iceberg. So the only thing that 'died' was the physical form that Spirit had been dragging around all those years. Even the body does not really 'die,' but only returns to the elements of the earth from which it came. The indwelling Spirit exits during the final exhalation.

I am sure you will have many dreams of him. I still have vivid dreams of my teacher, whom I met through a correspondence course at the age of 15, and never met physically since he had passed at the age of 93 a year before I began his course, yet throughout the years I have had almost exhilerating dreams of being with him and being in dialogue and in relationship with him. I feel his guidance even now throughout the course and blog.

So you maintain a relationship with him through maintaining a relationship with him. When you were not together physically, weren't you still in relationship? The same is true even now. He is no longer in physical form, yet he exists subtly to as great a degree as ever, and possibly moreso. Open up to the reality of it. Do not allow yourself to be fooled into thinking that the relationship only existed while he was in the body.

You can communicate with him here and now, within your own consciousness, which is one with his. There are not two or more consciousnesses. He has gone nowhere. In the subtle realm, we are not limited by space or time as we are in the physical world, so he can be with you at any point, as long as you are with him. He can be your constant companion, as long as you are his.

Relationships are what we make them to be, physically, subtly, or otherwise. They do not begin and end within the realm of human karma, although this is where energies are exchanged and harmonized, and where we truly learn that we are one Spirit sharing various bodies.

We are all together forever. In reality, there never has been any separation anywhere. It has only been the illusion of duality.

Brenda said...

March is my birth month and this is the first time I have experienced this as a time of new beginnings. In focusing on the present moment even briefly, I am beginning to experience the gifts available in this moment. In the past I have understood this, but today I am experiencing the inner expansion of love on a new level. Thank you Ram, I want to remember this.

Eileen said...

The power of repetition - keep reading - and rereading - ah, you are so right about that, Ram! "Come back to the present moment, come back to the heart" -- so easy to do in meditation, but could only do intellectually outside of that time. I can feel it settling in the body - literally trickling down from the moon of the intellect. Do I sound giddy? I am. I am very grateful - very, very grateful. Thank you again and again.
Big hugs to you and Kay!

D. R. Butler said...

Brenda, your birthday month is a perfect time for new beginnings. In fact, since our year is divided into 7 cycles of 52 days, the first cycle, or first 52 days following our birthday, is the very best time of the year to begin something new, as all universal forces are working on our behalf. Conversely, the last 52 days before our birthday might sometimes be difficult on various levels, including emotionally, and is the least effective time of the year to begin something new, as various things will be breaking down during this cycle.

Happy birthday to you.

HNS said...

How did you learn that something is beyond the thinking, conscious mind if you used your thinking, conscious mind to realize this truth?

D. R. Butler said...

At the beginning, you need the mind to get an idea of the general structure of things.

The yogic system is quite complete and has existed for thousands of years. There are different 'limbs' of yoga, depending on one's focus, yet the psychology and philosophy behind them are consistent.

There is the physical body, which we all identify to be who we are. (It is the ego that identifies with the physical body as itself.) Then there is the subtle body, which enters the physical body at the first inhalation and exits at the final exhalation. The subtle body (sometimes called 'astral' body) is composed of chitta (memory) manas (thinking, conscious, waking mind) ahamkara (ego) and buddhi (Intellect--a subtler, more refined level of mind, the source of inspiration and intuition.) These are actually what go with us when we depart from the physical realm, and remain as aspects of our subtle being, which they are even now.

A true yogi, and I don't just mean someone who takes a hatha yoga class and does some stretches, although that in itself is wonderful, understands that the mind and ego are conditioned from an early age, and that we need to break free from that conditioning in order to have greater access to Intellect (discrimination, wisdom, inner vision) which in turn leads to our understanding and experience of that which the Intellect is connected to, our own inner Self, pure Consciousness, an unconditioned Awareness of Being, the eternal and all-pervasive aspect of ourselves (our Self).

So, in the beginning, of course one has to understand all this with the mind. Yet in time, through practice of focus, we experience states beyond the mind. In essence, this is true meditation: experiencing the space between any two thoughts. That space is eternal and boundless.

We must have access to the mind in order to function in the physical world. Otherwise, especially in the West, we are put into an institute and taken care of. Yet it has been well said that the mind makes a great servant but a lousy master. So instead of being controlled by habitual thoughts that are the patterns developed over many years, we learn to master and purify the mind, so that it is there only for our use to function efficiently in the outer world, the objective world of humanity.

Roadkill said...

How profound a role do you think the practice of biofeedback/meditation, and/or yoga, play on middle aged adults, who have an otherwise negative, non-spiritual outlook on life? Can the simple adoption of these techniques initiate dramatic changes, in your humble opinion?

D. R. Butler said...

I've never had any experience with biofeedback or anything like that. I first learned yoga and meditation through courses and books when I was 15, then met a genuine meditation master at the age of 29. So it's kind of a lifetime experience for me, like anyone experiences his or her own religion or way of life.

To get to your question, I don't think a person could practice meditation and even hatha yoga and maintain a negative and non-spiritual outlook. True yoga is about the mastery of mind. As we learn mental discipline we begin to truly see that pleasant thoughts lead to pleasant experiences in life, while unpleasant thoughts invariably lead to unpleasant experiences.

When a person truly begins to see that his mind affects, even determines, his entire personal reality, he naturally and spontaneously becomes more positive, more pleasant in nature, and more good-hearted.

Yoga and meditation lead to an actual change in our perception and experience. It is not a dogma to believe in. It is to be experienced by each individual as his or her own truth. Some things become intuitively obvious that the mind in itself would have never come up with.

So, an actual transformation happens through the practice itself. Therefore, if practiced sincerely and regularly, one could not possibly remain exactly as he was before he began.

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." ~~Buddha

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reposting Steve C's question and answer on harmony. It was a keeper for me and now hangs as a reminder on the fridge. Also loved having the entire dialogue with Kathy together. I had a hard time following it through all the comments, but found it to be really valuable.
The "good drama" contemplation and practice in the current lesson really helps to make things feel lighter. Such a great perspective, and a good mantra to maintain a positive attitude amidst turmoil.

HNS said...

I'm having a hard time fully understanding your idea of God. Can you expand on what you meant when you referred to "My God."

D. R. Butler said...

"My God" is simply a reference to God as I understand Him (She, It). I wasn't claiming Him as my own or anything. Simply referring to my own sense of God.

There are so many ways to talk about God, yet in the end God can't be put into words or comprehended by the conscious mind. We can at most allude to Him. God is not a concept. God is the Living Force of the existing moment.

This is why the blog and course are called "Living in the Truth of the Present Moment." In reality, God can only be experienced right now, for now is the only time He exists. Anything else is simply a mental conjucture.

One of the great Indian Saints of the 19th century was Ramakrishna. Once he said: "There was a time when I would meditate on God with my eyes closed. Then I said to myself: Does God exist only when I think of Him with my eyes closed? Doesn't He exist when I look around with my eyes open? Now, when I look around with my eyes open, I see that God dwells in all beings. He is the indwelling Spirit of all men, animals, and other living beings, trees and plants, sun and moon, land and water."

Ramakrishna's disciple, Swami Vivekananda, gave an outstanding series of talks, still available, in London and Chicago from 1897-1903. In one he said: “The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in Reverence before every human being and see God in him—-that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am Free.”

There is a certain ecstasy and bliss in seeing God in all beings. What we think of as God is the supreme Consciousness in which this entire cosmos vibrates. The same Consciousness exists within each of us as our Awareness of Being. Then, on an individual level, however we describe ourselves and the world is what we perceive and experience as 'reality.'

In truth God can be experienced in the space between any two thoughts. That space is pure Consciousness, pure Awareness -- undefined, unconditioned, undifferentiated.

In the novel "Siddhartha" by Herman Hesse, Siddhartha finally reached the conclusion that there is only one basic difference in all men -- there are those who recognize the unity of all things and those who don't.

Anyway, this is about as concisely as I can write of "my God." I hope it has some meaning to you, or to some other reader. All the best to you, and enjoy your day.

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." ~~Buddha

Michelle Synnestvedt said...

Ram and HNS,
I am loving this commentary on how do you know what is beyond the mind if you are using the mind.
It is the Divine Paradox!
I like to view the mind and all the practices such as mantra repetition, meditation, chanting ect as a boat that carries us along the Infinite stream of Consciousness. The practices hold us and even create momentum in the current. Just like when riding a bike there is a lot of effort at first to get the bike going, there is also a time when we surrender our effort and just coast.
The coasting for me happens as a gift, a doorway opens and I melt into the Ocean of Awareness. Sometimes the practice of asking questions like,

"beyond thought, emotion, perception ect what is "I"? and instead of waiting for an "answer" that has words, I soften to the most subtle vibration that immediately reveals Itself after the question is asked.
Ultimately, the mind, the process and the questions are all the same Shakti, or power and when I remember this then the whole process is so exhilarating and beautiful.

Naganath said...

Re Lesson 38:
Is the source of thought soul?
I am getting the sense that the source of being is numinous. That everything (i.e.--the physical universe, all forms of energy, the body, etc.) spring from Nothing; like the other side of a black hole/antimatter. We/our world manifests out of total Nothingness; the subtlest of the subtlest.

Devorah said...

If we attain living in the truth of the present moment, living with compassion, understanding, joy, etc... does divorce still happen?

D. R. Butler said...

Of course divorce still happens. Everything that happens still happens. Nothing changes when we live in the Truth of the Present Moment except for our perception and experience of each moment. The karma of this body, this lifetime, continues to run off whether we are aware of the Truth of Being or not. The awareness of the Truth gives us an opportunity for contentment and the joy of aliveness.

D. R. Butler said...

Naganath, the source of thought is the Self, or pure Consciousness. From this pure Consciousness each individual thought arises and then dissolves, like waves from the ocean of Chitti, rising and falling.

As for the rest, I conferred with our staff expert in Quantum Physics as well as the enlightened Buddhist Master next door, and they both agreed that you are on the right track.

Scott Marmorstein said...

Every time I think I'm going to say something interesting it turns out the Truth of the Present Moment is more interesting than whatever thought flashes through my mind anyway. I keep forgetting words and ideas to describe my own experience because there simply aren't any that really work out right.

Enlightenment... before enlightenment, getting divorced and paying bills and taxes..

After enlightenment, getting divorced and paying bills and taxes.

Before enlightenment, the choice to suffer with your suffering occurs most naturally.

After enlightenment, everything, everything, everything, I mean EVERYTHING becomes quizzical, amusing, and yet stays exactly the same way, including your outer and inner responses. Only there is Awareness and Bliss mixed in the bag for added flavor.

What more to say? The present moment is more interesting than reading my words.

D. R. Butler said...

Scott is another of those whom I've known most of his life, as he grew up in and around the ashram, and his dad is simply the best chiropractor I have ever seen, although that title doesn't quite do him justice.

Scott is endowed with the ability to read auras and bestow healing energies. He is another of the many "teachers" and sharers of the Truth that take the course.

Another who takes the course who also teaches others once referred to the lessons as "fine tuning," so in a sense this is a good way of viewing how the course works.

Anyway, check out Scott's site. Being posted in the comments, it doesn't come out as a link, but you can cut and paste if you want to give him a visit.

http://www.sparklingaura.com/

D. R. Butler said...

To be fair, Michelle Synnestvedt posted above, and she is an Anusara Yoga teacher with a very successful yoga studio in Southhampton, PA. She was trained by my old friend, John Friend. I still practice the special exercises John taught me in India back in 1994 to keep my back in shape.

Anyway, check out Michelle's site at: http://prasadyoga.com/

Katrina said...

Wow! Just found you through Scott Marmorstein. I love your response to "How to come into harmony?"

This great reminder to the constant play of revealing and concealing is so perfect. I really appreciate your perspective. Here's to enjoying the clean slate in each moment by choosing to keep creating, rather than repeating old patterns that no longer serve.

Thanks very much for this post!

Ekatman said...

I can not state how much I appreciate the course, it is beyond measure.

There is a notion that it is transforming me in ways that I am not even aware of at the moment. I try to read it as much as I can, and I have insights along the day upon the concepts of the lesson at a time.

Sometimes I wonder if I should make a list of principles as they appear on the lessons and keep on collecting them, but then I understand that the message is even more simple: BE PRESENT and let the current lesson address what it has to address, and just keep it simple, BE PRESENT.

I like it! It couldn´t be more simple! and yet profound at the same time.

Currently I am in lesson 6 and as I wake up in the morning, I started to watch a lot of thoughts, it may have always been like this, but I just started to notice how chatty my mind is. You say that all the individual life takes place in the mind, then you tell us to watch our thoughts. to witness them, and I had this insight: it seems that we experience the world though the mind giving tags and descriptions for this and that and that is why the whole individual life takes place through the mind...but when we watch "the" thoughts, then the filter is removed, they become part of the experience of the world even if there is a description that is just another event happening...

There is just the self watching everything!

I will go back to read the lesson again, to see it a new (as much as I possibly can : )

Lots of love!

Ekatman

Naganath said...

Coming to understand that giving anything energy through thought gives that object power. Whether a person, place, legal entity, government or any other concept out there. Supporting someone/something with positive thought and love gives it power in the world. Conversely, thinking negatively or hating something also gives it power. We give It energy by our thought and intention whether "good" or "bad" makes no difference--energy is energy.
When I was a teenager I had scratched into my desk "I hate people!" Although I was very sensitive (but did not realize it at the time) to what others thought and said while remaining rebellious, I was very much affected by others. I hated the control I allowed others to have over me. This morning I see people and weep. I feel love and compassion for the human condition. Such joy and sadness all at once.
Now I realize the only real power is Love. The only way to really effect change in others is through Love for All. And above all, Love for Self. If I am going to bother to give energy to anything (whether positive or negative) it is best if it comes from a place of love beyond my limited self. Thus sadhana, meditation, and this Course. Love to all.

D. R. Butler said...

Due to a couple of letters we received, we asked the students of the course if they preferred one lesson a month instead of two, and if they preferred the lessons to be shorter than they are. We got many responses, too many to share, but the next two comments are among them.

Shirley said...

Dear Ram and Kay,

Years ago, my husband ,Vaman, and I began taking the correspondence course through mail. For a while we were able to "keep up" with the lessons, but in time, we began to "fall behind". The drawer began to fill up with unopened envelopes and, speaking only for myself, I began to fill up with guilt, berating myself for not being dedicated enough, not being good enough, not being smart enough to read each new lesson all the way through every single day (re enforcing the self-doubts and low self-esteem issues I had lived with for years). Finally, we stopped taking the course.

After several months, maybe as long as a couple of years of trying to go cold-turkey, I realized that something actually had been going on at a very deep level, that those self-doubts were some of the very things the Course had been working on, and that if I wanted whatever it was to continue, it was time to do something about it. We signed up for the course again, starting, as I recall, with Lesson One.

From then on I never missed a day reading at least part of the current lesson, even though I'd been pretty anal about reading ALL of the lesson everyday before. Staying connected seemed to be the key for me. "Progress" was so slow as to be almost imperceptible, but when I looked back at where I had perceived myself to be, self-esteem issues and all, I realized that I was in a better, cleaner, lighter place in every way.

When the rug was pulled out from under us. . when the lessons stopped abruptly, I was in panic mode. I felt angry, hurt, betrayed. . .emotions, incidentally, that I'd never acknowledged before as being a part of me. We were able to get about 10 months more of the lessons, but I found that when I tried to read them, the energy was just not there for me any more. I didn't feel connected. Finally, I put all of the lessons in a 3 ring binder and stored it in our garage. Couldn't read them and couldn't get rid of them.

I can't begin to describe the joy I felt when we heard from you last October. We enrolled in the course immediately. I read some of the current lesson every day, and on many days I read all of it. The Consciousness that directs your writing of the Course is fully present in each lesson.

This is a lengthy way of saying, the Course is perfect as it is. Although some may want lessons shorter, some want them once a month, others may want other changes, the Shakti is constantly tailoring it to suit our individual needs. The important thing is to stay connected by reading some part of the current lesson each day, and practice the teachings.

I am so very grateful to you both for the energy you put into creating and distributing the Course and the blog. I think of you many times throughout the day, always with love and gratitude.

With great love,
Shirley

John said...

We are happy to hear that the cold and snow has finally given way to spring in your neck of the woods. We had our first 80 degree day early this week and the place has been awash with flowers for over a month. Ah, California living.

We wanted to comment on length and frequency of the lessons. I am reminded of when a friend called shortly after moving to the ashram. She was appalled that there were no suggestion boxes there. I thought that was the funniest thing that someone would expect to find suggestion boxes in the home of the guru. Yet, a few years later, lo and behold, suggestion boxes became a feature in the ashram. So, I guess I don't find it too surprising that you would ask for our input on this most basic and fundamental aspect of the Course.

So, we don't feel cheated if our lesson is only 8 pages long ("lazy bastard"), nor do we throw up our hands in despair if they should be 12 pages ("why is he doing this to us?"). Two weeks per lesson seems also to be in the sweet spot for us. Maybe we are just being rigid; stuck in what we have always known . . . but there is a popular adage used in the sewers, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Still, we are open to anything new you want to try . . . maybe a graphic novel style with a hero who wields the sword of the Truth of the Present Moment to slash away the limitations of our past and defeat the fears for our future, armored up with a shield of gratitude and appreciation, with super vision of what really is going on in the Now and a lighthearted laugh that illuminates the dark and gloom of the unknown - hey, I'm kind of liking the sound of this. We've gone this far with you, I doubt that there is much you could do to shake us at this point.

Enjoy the spring. You'll always be a hero to us.

All our love, j&t

Anonymous said...

I'm writing to strongly encourage former students of the course by mail of years gone by to take this new course by email, "Living in the Truth of the Present moment". I took the old course for sixteen years and attended a number of workshops and I have to say that while I loved the course I find that this new course has has more meaning for me, helps me to apply the teachings in a beautifully guided and practical way, and takes me out of the mode of just understanding or agreeing with a concept and actually applying it in my life. Just because you took the course before, don't think you already "know" it. Don't think you actually "know" anything because the Truth is constantly changing and unfolding. I highly recommend that you buy your ticket and get on the train to living a more expanded, joyful and easeful life. Take the new course.

Richard said...

After reading the last comment by "Anomynous," I would like to share that I also experienced a shock when the course by mail stopped. I felt that I lost my connection to anything spiritual, and for a few years I was confused and went through a very dark period.

When a friend told me you had started a new course and had a blog, something in me was reawakened. I started reading the blog and those same old good feelings I had felt for so long started returning. I subscribed to the new course by email, and immediately it was like a light turned on again. What a relief it was to have my connection again. I have also experienced that the new course is clearer and more powerful than the old course. I like that it is independent of any particular path, and that it is focused on living in the truth of the present moment. That's the best approach to spirituality that I could hope for. Thank you so much for these precious lessons that mean the world to me.

Jill said...

I want to thank DR Butler for his wonderful blog & also his notes on Facebook. I confess that I resisted asking about this course because my eyes would glaze over when I would see all that writing on the computer screen... Until I found a quote or two or a little visual bite (as opposed to a sound bite) that really rang true. Then I could slow myself down enough to actually read the words and start to appreciate them. Very powerful.

It's helpful to have the comments after the text on Facebook, because I would read them first and then finally get tempted to sit down & read the actual initial writing.

I'm sharing this just so you know that I (and maybe others like me) have resistance to seeing paragraphs on the computer screen ...but can get enticed into reading with the correct carrots...

Anyway, what has the world come to that I am confessing this? This media culture, the sound bites, no body reads. Sometimes I just want to live in a log cabin with a lot of books...and a computer.

But in the end, I'm glad to have re-connected. I hope I can print out the email course so that I can enjoy reading it on paper and carry it with me so I don't need to be on the computer all day.

D. R. Butler said...

Jill, first of all, of course you can print out the lessons. That's what we prefer you to do. Since all that is required is the reading of the lessons, you don't want to do all your rereading on the computer.

I feel exactly the same way about seeing a block of print on the computer. Probably a lot of people resist reading the blog for this reason. Speaking of Facebook, just today someone I don't know that well commented on one of my notes, and it seemed so long--4 long paragraphs--that I just didn't feel like reading it. I glanced over it, but that was it.

Then someone I respect and trust commented on what a great post it was, so I had to, as you said, slow myself down so I could read and appreciate his words. It truly was a great comment, and after giving it my full attention, I appreciated what a great contribution he had made regarding the subject being discussed.

So, I understand the resistance totally. It's just, we have to do something, we have to participate in some form of sadhana in order to break free from ignorance and limitations and to grow and expand within, coming closer and closer to our true nature, our own inner Self.

Of all the things available to do, reading is actually one of the simplest. Simply by referring to our current lesson, we are tuned to an inner space that elevates our understanding and experience simply through the reading. It is challenging to truly describe the process, it just happens to be the peculiar way this particular course works.

Thanks for your contribution to our blog, and for allowing yourself the time and patience to actually read what is available.

Sharon said...

Any reason you prefer the particular photo you have at the top of the blog?

D. R. Butler said...

Yes, it was taken by my one and only sister the last time I visited her at her studio in Florida. Choosing that particular photo is my way of honoring her good work.

Chimene said...

I have been reading this blog for a couple of days and I am going to take a shot at asking something...here goes: when we are fully focused on the task at hand, even if we are wrapped up in our mind and in ideas are we in the present moment? or is being in the moment a kind of thought free awareness of being kind of state? sometimes I am teaching in class and nothing else exits and when class is over it's like I come back to myself, to my story, to what happened before class and what happens after but during class it's like there is nothing else that exists. so is this being in the truth of the present moment?

D. R. Butler said...

Chimene, that's a very interesting question of a very subtle nature.

If we are focused on the task at hand, we are in the present moment. Then we observe thoughts and ideas as they come and go, but are not identified with them or attached to them. In the present moment, we watch mental, emotional, and physical activity as it happens, but do not take any of it personally. We simply observe what comes and goes. The Observer, of course, is eternally changeless and always remains the same. It never goes anywhere.

I can relate to your experience of teaching your class. I used to travel a bit and give talks, as you know from our gatherings in Montreal, and often when I was speaking to a group, I would lose awareness of myself being the speaker. This would especially happen while answering people's questions. I would hear myself talking as though I were listening to someone else, saying things I couldn't possibly 'know' in the ordinary sense. After the talk, or following the answer to a question, my individual awareness would return, and I would understand that I had spoken, even though I had no sense of speaking, or of being the speaker, during the time it was happening.

This is what is known as the Shakti doing the works, or the 'Father within,' or pure Consciousness expressing through and as us, or any number of other ways we might think of or describe the process. During this time, we are absorbed in the Truth of the present moment, even though it's not an intellectual activity in any sense of the word. It is simply observing the experience as it takes place.

Taylor said...

Dear D.R.,
Thank you for the course! I enjoy taking some time out of my work day and reading it. When the newest lesson arrived, I started reading it in my car over my lunch time. It created such great energy in me that my car was rocking a bit. Yes, the course rocks!
My question: You have commented on the state of the planet and how it may be affecting some folks. Some other spiritual teachers, Eckhart Tolle, Adyashanti, and Arjuna Ardagh, have commented on the times as well and the escalation of ego in the world; however, they have also reported that at the same time, there is an escalation of awakening. More and more people are waking up - more than ever. And, this makes it easier for others to wake up.
Are you observing more and more people waking up? I like hearing this news as it balances the other news of "what's going on" in this world right now.
Much love & light,
Taylor

D. R. Butler said...

First of all, in the current blog entry, I have observed that 2010 will be a much more pleasant year for most people than 2009 was. This alone indicates that times are getting better for more people.

Still, we are in Kali Yuga, which is the time on Earth of the greatest spiritual ignorance, when the majority of people are out of touch with the Truth of the existing moment. Paradoxically, this makes it a great time for the rest of us to do sadhana, or spiritual practices. It has been said that even the smallest efforts in Kali Yuga result in great benefits.

The spiritual ignorance of the majority causes a resistance in the world that actually enables us to make greater and faster progress in our own development. When everything is going well in the outer world, it is not so easy to be dedicated to sadhana. But when times are difficult, it is easier to turn within for greater awareness.

So yes, more and more people are 'waking up.' It has been predicted from long ago that this is a time of spiritual awakening for many. For this reason there are more and more people out there today searching for a higher meaning in their lives than ever before.

I wouldn't pay too much attention to the news of the world at this time. The media will have many gruesome stories to report. Don't let them affect you or bring you down or discourage you in any way. In the inner realms, there is more and more light. It is time, for anyone with the awareness to do so, to focus on the light.

Anonymous said...

Thank you D.R. You have been commenting in more detail as to why more people including myself are very connected with the inner world and are becoming more present; however, I had not connected the dots. Thank you for the clarification. Have a sweet day.
love,
Taylor

Christobal said...

You state:
"I wouldn't pay too much attention to the news of the world at this time. The media will have many gruesome stories to report. Don't let them affect you..."

I don't see how you can state this. In the lessons you said if you're walking by a pond and you see a child drowning in the pond, that you don't just say "Tough luck kid." The dharmic thing to do is to jump in and rescue the drowning child.

Right now, when I look around me, read the news, etc., it is perfectly evident that *everyone is drowning*. Now I'm not saying that it's my job to save everyone, but why am I even here if not to help?

One of my teachers states: "To be on this planet and to behold the universe from the divine perspective is a sign of an illumined heart. To put this vision to best use in the best way possible is a human being’s highest duty."

To me, this doesn't sound like not paying attention, it sounds like paying attention but not letting the mind twist its perception into the perversion supported by the media. I know this is a subtle difference, but isn't it critical?

Best~~~
Chris

D. R. Butler said...

Chris, let's understand everything in the right way. My words that you quoted partially said, "The media will have many gruesome stories to report. Don't let them affect you or bring you down or discourage you in any way. In the inner realms, there is more and more light. It is time, for anyone with the awareness to do so, to focus on the light."

I'm not suggesting being oblivious to what's happening in the world or not doing anything to help. I do feel that unless we are centered in our own inner light, there is not much we can do to help. We certainly can't help by focusing on the problems, for that only helps perpetuate the problems.

The example I gave in the lessons that you referred to was if you see a child drowning in the pond, you help save him. It wasn't, if you seem terrible things on TV happening on the other side of the world, freak out and be depressed. As you quoted, "Don't let them (media reports) affect you or bring you down or discourage you in any way."

We do our own dharma by helping to relieve suffering wherever we find it--in our own life, among the people we know. We don't go off looking for suffering to relieve. You are right, we cannot save the whole world. The world is in much larger hands.

We do our part by remaining in our own highest state, no matter what challenges we are presented with, and doing what we can to be helpful to those whom we come across in our karmic sphere.

One of the members of "The Band" recently said, "Back in the old days we thought we could change the world, that we could stop the war, that we could establish a culture of universal brotherhood and love. Now we just do the best we can to help make it a better neighborhood."

Ghayas said...

Something very ironic is happening to me. This course is all about being in the present moment, and as I am starting to read the lessons and getting involved once again in this learning process, some reminiscences of the "good old days" of the old course keep popping up. What I call "good old days" is that period when the course used to be a tool, on a specific path, helping students to understand, among other things, their relationship with the Guru, the sangham; in that time, I would read the lesson, and, in addition to practicing it in my daily activities, I would also attend workshops, intensives, programs at the center and go to the ashram, and test what I have learned in the lessons within the physical environment of the ashram and around the Guru.

The old course used to be the corner stone of my sadhana in the sense that it used to fulfill, among other things, this function of strengthening my understanding of the relationship with the Guru. I'm feeling, now, a pain of separation! It feels like this era of being around the Guru, getting together for the summer in the ashram, has gone away without previous notice and honestly I'm being very nostalgic.

Now, it's ironic because this new course that you are generously offering to the whole world and multi-paths practitioners is all about being in the newness of the present. So I'm feeling somehow off track because this nostalgia of the past period of my sadhana is showing up when in every lesson I'm invited to come back to the present, to come back to the heart. I guess I just have to witness this nostalgic feeling (which has always been a familiar samskara), as well of the feeling of being off track (another familiar companion) and keep coming back to the present.

Any advice, though, would be most welcome to undersand more clearly the evolution of sadhana from one particular form to another.

Thank you, Ghayas

D. R. Butler said...

Ghayas, I feel your letter, and you can know that many other people feel the same way. I have heard or read the same thing in many different ways.

I started the original course in 1975. Among the principles I stated from the beginning was that the outer form of sadhana (spiritual practice, work on self-development) would always change. I also stated that many, many things would change over the years--where we lived, who we lived with, our work, our name, our lifestyle, our outlook, and especially the forms sadhana would take from time to time, but that the one thing that would never change is the Guru Principle.

The teaching has always been: "The Guru is not a particular person or body; the Guru is the grace-bestowing power of God."

It was great fun in the "old days" that you speak. Many of us remember them fondly. I have my own nostalgia. I'd love to go back and see everyone face to face once again. It was a magical time. Yet times have changed. The world has changed. People are more suspicious now. 'Foreigners' are especially viewed more suspiciously.

Are you aware of what is happening in America now over the 'health care bill.' There is lots of anger and division. There is a whole movement of 'How dare they make health care be available to all? Let's get it back in the hands of the few where it belongs.'

Anyway, I digress, but that's just health care. There is an ugly mood about, and it's just the sign of the times. It was all prophesized long ago. People are quick to look for something to be angry about, something to attack, something to see as evil.

The result is that authentic spiritual teachers and groups are more low key now than they were 20 or 30 years ago. Groups are smaller, teachers are less well known. And many of us have had to grow up and develop a strong relationship with the inner Guru.

My Guru said, "Do not think the Guru is a man sitting here with a beard and a cap on his head. The Guru lies within you as your own Self."

My own seva has changed from teaching about the Guru to focusing on the principles of Truth that are immutable, infallible, and applicable to all people in all times and places. As you eloquently put it, the course is now for 'multi-path practitioners,' as we focus on the essence of the Truth of Being and not on any particular path or way of being or thinking except for being true to our own Self.

As the lessons say, come back to the present moment, come back to the heart, come back to your love. From here is a good beginning. Let us do our sadhana from moment to moment, remaining focused in the present, honoring the past and all the old experiences for what they were, for they helped us become what we are today, and have prepared us for all that will come.

What will come tomorrow, we have no idea whatsoever. Everything changes except the One thing that never changes. This changeless One is our true and eternal nature, the inner Self of all. If we recognize and remain aware of our own Self here and now, then everything leading up to now will have served its purpose, everything will be perfect, and even the future will be wonderful.

Ghayas said...

Thank you Ram. This really helps. Love, Ghayas

Chimene said...

Thank you Ram for your answer to Ghayas' question, it also helped me being more at peace with the way things have changed in the last years.
One thing really touched me, when you said "And many of us have had to grow up and develop a strong relationship with the inner Guru." this I find is the hardest and I feel that it sometimes feels like being abandoned by the outer Guru, but as you said, we have to ultimately develop this inner relationship with ourselves. For me the course is a great tool to do this, thank you again for starting this new course.

Christobal said...

I think I'm starting to get it, but I still get trapped in my mind a bit with this subject. I don't know how much of it is getting trapped in my mind and how much is about a fundamental issue of worldview that I'm not willing to let go of. I want to reply to two things in your response to me:

you state:
"We do our own dharma by helping to relieve suffering wherever we find it--in our own life, among the people we know. We don't go off looking for suffering to relieve. You are right, we cannot save the whole world. The world is in much larger hands."

While I agree with this, it is also true that the while we can say that the world is in much larger hands, it is also true that those much larger hands are OUR HANDS. What is the balance between saying "this is all in God's hands" and accepting responsibility that God lives within us, we live within the unfolding reality that we can call the Divine Mother, the Goddess, and that Her hands are our own?

It feels to me that whenever we get into this conversation that there is a perspective of truth but an aspect of disengagement from a full participation in the world. I'll discuss this a little bit below.

You continue:
"We do our part by remaining in our own highest state, no matter what challenges we are presented with, and doing what we can to be helpful to those whom we come across in our karmic sphere."

Once again, completely agreed. However, I must point out that with the emergence of technology and global society, our Karmic Spheres have expanded to intersect and affect each other in ways that they never have before. Just a few hundred years ago, which is not that long in the grand scheme of things, how one lived their life, how one built a shelter and fed one's family had little affect on those within different parts of the world.

However, in this day, we participate in a way of life that has ENORMOUS effect on people all over the planet. Take for example something as seemingly innocuous as shopping at WalMart. We can say that the effects of one person don't do much, but then you look at 100 million Americans all making that same choice, it becomes a huge problem for indigenous and economically exploited people in 3rd world countries all over the planet.

The enormity of the imbalance in the world has led to a feeling of powerlessness that seems to lead to disengagement.

I guess that each of us needs to ask "what is my work to do here". Even as we are walking the path to liberation, we can be actively working to change things on a global scale. Many people I have talked to use the path to enlightenment as a way to "check out" of the craziness of the world rather than an opportunity to find their right place in the craziness of the world.

I'm not sure that I am down with the idea that we don't have a responsibility to act locally AND globally.

Thanks for letting me express my unedited thoughts on these matters.

Love,
Chris

D. R. Butler said...

Christobal, I can tell you really want to debate this subject, and that you have some strong feelings about it. I don't have any problem with your view of the world. You can go out and work to make the world a better place all you want. I support you a 100%.

When I say 'karmic sphere,' of course I'm including cyberspace, which has become part of the karmic sphere of all of us participating here. My perspective of things isn't limited to the 1950's.

I guess I am not certain what you are asking or what you want in the way of an answer from me. I read what you write and I go 'yeah, yeah,' nodding my head in agreement, and then I wonder what's the problem and where's the confusion?

You can go as global as you like. No one is stopping you or imposing any limitations on you. Let me ask you what you think of my work? Do you think I am limited in my outreach? Do you think I have any impact on people on a global scale? Do you think I am limiting how I can serve others or help make this world a better place?

You keep saying that you know people who approach the 'path to enlightment' as a way to 'check out' of this world rather than to become productively engaged. Well, to tell the truth, that's not the path to enlightenment. That's something else altogether.

That approach has nothing to do with the principles presented in the lessons of the course or the blog. So I'm sure you might have known people like that, but it is not relevant to what we do here.

So, seriously, save the world. I'll proudly say, 'Hey, I know him.' There is no limit to what you can accomplish other than how you limit yourself in your own thinking.

Mohan said...

"There is a whole movement of 'How dare they make health care available to all? Let's get it back in the hands of the few where it belongs.'

Anyway, I digress, but that's just health care."

As lesson 38 encourages me to look at all the events and situations of life as "good drama", I must tell you this statement produced within me some REALLY good drama. As I witnessed the thoughts and emotions that came up as a result of it, I began to contemplate the nature of my own political thoughts and passions. I've watched my tendencies change from vivid blue to crimson red and all colors and shades in-between. Now, instead of changing again, I can honestly report that my political understandings as well as every other aspect of my life is genuinely evolving. Due in large part to my commitment to taking this course, I see myself stepping back, reigning in my passions from exploding over things like politics and religion and holding them under the microscope of a more conscious awareness. There is a place for political thought, conversation, and activism but never at the expense of sadhana. I simply can't allow a political or religious idea to so enthrall or enrage me that I lose awareness of the perfection of the present moment.

Take the above quote, for example. I happen to be someone who disagrees with the current legislation for a litany of reasons NONE of which include a desire to deny health care to anyone or to put it (or anything else for that matter) in the hands of a privileged few. I immediately took the statement personally and watched a desire come over me to rifle back a pointed response to you about how what you said made me feel. That disturbance within me is what prompted me along this line of contemplation. I had to remind myself of something I learned pertaining to right speech in a course I took. Before saying anything, ask "Is it true? Is it kind? Is it beneficial?" Because of the grace that has put me on this path, I can be such a light in these times but only if we hold all my thoughts, words, and deeds under the careful eye of the witness and operate from the space of the heart.

I know I have no right to expect them to, but I can't help but wonder what kind of country (and world) this would be if our elected leaders asked themselves those three questions in the course of political debate. Is it true? Is it kind? Is it beneficial?

your friend,
mohan

D. R. Butler said...

Mohan, sometimes I think I make religious or political comments just for your benefit. Your reactions are so cute.

You handled it pretty well this time. You didn't write anything nasty to me at all. In fact, you used your own reaction to do some real sadhana and see where the reaction was coming from, instead of blaming your reaction on what you are reacting to, which is the approach used by most.

I agree: nothing regarding politics or religion is worth giving a greater priority than sadhana, or our own spiritual work on ourselves, which is truly why we are here.

I also agree that all political and religious leaders should ask themselves those 3 questions before they communicate. It would be a much greater world indeed.

Love.

Terry said...

This is such an interesting blog! I relate to Christobel's posts a lot right now. Probably everyone who reads this blog and/or takes the course has enormous compassion for the suffering that we see in the news and face to face in daily life. I recently encountered a situation that I reacted to without thought and quite emotionally, and I can see that it would have been better if I had stepped back and looked at the big picture and used a gentler approach. My point is that I think it's most wise to pick my issues according to what I resonate with and then take constructive action. One thing that can be very positive imho about this time when everyone is so connected electronically, is that all kinds of thoughts, including positive, uplifting ones move faster and more powerfully. Everything is more subtle. It looks like subtle actions, like focused thoughts and imaging, can have more power than ever before. One of the issues that can really send me off is the one about cruelty to animals and after a recent situation and a huge feeling of helplessness I've decided to create a prayer group via email for animals. That will make me feel better, like I'm doing something that I know is helpful and that doesn't feed the ill will that erupts over these issues. It's important for me to trust that there is a divine order and that, yes, it is my dharma to respond to what draws my attention, to take action and to accept, at the same time, that the outcome is not in my hands and to know, too, that we all have enormous personal power and resources to send huge love, healing and light out to the world that is definitely felt.

Christobal said...

I think that the debate is truly within myself, and that it's not serving a constructive purpose to externalize it here. I find that I read some of your statements and it triggers all sorts of partial understandings in my mind, and that what I need to do is really sit with it rather than engage in a "debate" which is really just getting into an entrenched position on something. Any kind of positioning, posturing or so forth seems to be creating a sense of difference and distinction which is not really aligned with living in the Truth, having the Vision of the Self.

On the other hand, in a practical world in which we all have different dharmas, distinctions are important as they help me to answer the question "What is my work here?" vs what is someone else's work. But I can see now that these personal distinctions are important for me and not for everyone else here.

In answer to your questions, with one broad brushstroke, I think that what you are doing with this course and your work with stubborn minds like my own is absolutely phenomenal. I really value the course, have enjoyed and benefited from participating in this blog, and I'm also recommending it to others.

What I'm starting to see is that my own calling does not look like what you're doing, or like anything I've done in the past, and so I'm in a process of working out how the years of yoga practice and the universal perspective it brings will fit in with it.

Good gosh, I think it's time to close my mouth (my fingers?) for a while and just spend some more time contemplating how to apply the lessons and their teachings within my own life. If I get stuck on that you'll hear from me again.

Thanks for your patience!
Blessings,
Chris

Chimene said...

Hello Ram, and everyone, I really love this space to explore the lessons further and as you said not just agree with the principles but actually make them my living experience.
So here is my question: you say that we recreate the past all over again in each moment that we think about it and thus go back to those moments of pain or suffering that "don't exist anymore". We feed melodramas with memories that we could as easily forget. My issue here is in understanding how we function psychologically, because I feel that I don't choose to stay stuck in the past, I feel there is something about the past that has not been resolved and it does actually hurt NOW, like a wound not closed or healed properly. Until it really heals will it become something of the past that can be forgotten. So the psychological pain can be happening now, can't it? Isn't that what a samskara is all about this past impression that is still very present, very real and active? If you could please shed some light on this it would really help me. Thank you.
Chimene

D. R. Butler said...

Chimene, I appreciate your open and heartfelt question.

The key is when you say "I feel there is something about the past that has not been resolved." That whole paragraph is the key, but this particular phrase carries the essence of both question and answer.

We keep these emotional issues from the past alive in the present simply by refusing to resolve them NOW within ourselves. That's all that is needed. Everything happened because it had to, because it was karma; it couldn't have happened differently and you still be the same person you are now. So our work is to be in harmony NOW with all that happened before now. Then the pain naturally dissolves, just as darkness dissolves when light is introduced.

I realize you are relatively new to the course, even though you obviously have very good understanding. We will explore every aspect of your question in the lessons ahead. Thank you for appreciating and contributing to the blog. Our exchange adds to everyone's understanding.

John said...

In lesson 12, you write:

"We owe it to ourselves to think in the highest ways possible. We can make a habit of thinking only what feels good, thinking only what is pleasant and uplifting, while refusing to think anything that makes us feel bad, brings us down, or disconnects us from our heart and our higher feelings. We live in our thoughts, and the quality of our life is determined by our habitual thoughts and predominant mental attitude."

I have known many people who advocated the "power of positive thinking" and everytime they had a negative thought, they would sometimes remember to replace it with a positive thought. They did this to their death...

In the past, I have been of the opinion that "positive thinking" does not and can not change the subconscious impressions that are the root cause of such negative thinking, feeling, etc. I thought you had to have a guru who could initate the seeker and through the power of grace working in partnership with the seeker's own vigilant spritual practices, the subconscious mind in time does become purified. The individual working alone cannot purify his/her own subconscious mind or achieve the same results.

I also assume that because of what you have attained during your own spiritual journey, i.e. the grace that comes through your writings, your students can be transformed by the purification process. But the fact remains, that it takes such a teacher to accomplish it. Doing this work on one's own is virtually impossible to transform one's own self or subconscious impressions, to be more accurate. Is that a fair assessment?

D. R. Butler said...

John, your question is very subtle. It is obvious your understanding is good, yet there is some conditioning in there as well, some ideas you've picked up along the way that could possibly limit you.

You bring up the Guru. The Guru is not a particular personality or body; the Guru is the grace-bestowing power of God. Do you doubt that we already have that grace? Having that grace, we can attain or manifest whatever we are capable of conceiving. We only limit ourselves by limiting how we think.

So we already have grace. You mention working with a teacher, yet you are taking the course via email and participating in this blog. Do you think even more guidance is available?

Most of us, for the most part, if we could simply practice the Truth that we already know, we'd do just great.

JohnRama said...

I prayed to God to have a tangible relationship with Him and the guru came into my life. I believe that relationship allows me to receive a higher dose of grace to support my spiritual growth. Then for several years I had a great longing to contact you and then found your blog through a friend. I believe the course you write is also a tangible form of God’s grace which continues to propel and support my spiritual growth. I know that God will use whatever avenues are necessary to support the growth of true seekers and your course is providing that grace for me. Thanks so much!!!

Naganath said...

Re: Nostalgia, JohnRama, and Recent contemplations regarding the Lessons (past and present incarnations) and Ghayas's post

The "old days" lessons and workshops I experienced as a direct connection to the Guru's Shakti--the Writer channels the Guru's teachings through his purifying filter (personality) and, walla, the Correspondence Course. The dedication, devotion, and surrender the Typist had to the process the Course took over time was wonderful to experience. So much love and grace flowed through the Lessons in those days and I would easily fall into meditation before completing the read. The Lessons were a product of the Guru's Grace and command.

As I was contemplating the difference in the current (revived) Lessons and those in the "old days", I experienced in meditation one morning the feeling of meditation intensives from those days--meditating with hundreds (and thousands) of other devotees, the Guru, completely immersed in the Shakti so dense and thick yet supremely alive was so powerful. The burning (i.e.-literally burning away of karma), supreme joy, bliss, tears, and sometimes heavy dullness--remembering how it "used to be" was great.

And how the past Course workshops were the dessert of sadhana for me, so joyful, no intense burning, blissful. The presence of the Guru's shakti at the workshops with the Course Writer was so tangible and strong I would sometimes open my eyes to confirm She was not sitting in Her seat. And the Course Writer in his tall, bearded body drawling out responses to questions and channeling the Guru's teachings as a pure vessel of surrender and service.

Then, near "the end" of the "old days", coming home after intensives and workshops and feeling such an intense separation that whenever I would think of the Guru I would be reduced to tears and strong longing to experience the physical form of the Guru. I would miss Her so much. Then, the abrupt end of the Course and the Writer leaves the ashram. But strangely, I felt an immediate acceptance knowing that on this path great change and challenge is inevitable. It was time once again to turn within for the source of all those past experiences, to recognize that all I needed from the Guru and the Course was inside. Not having the Course and experiencing the physical presence of the Guru became another aspect of my sadhana and renewed devotion to the practices. I had never lived in the ashram year after year as the Writer had and I deeply respected the devotion and grace of the Course.

Now I am deeply grateful for the revived course as another connection to the Guru and the Writer. Having the Course is a direct application of the principles to know the Self. I am grateful for the reawakening of the "old" feelings of the "old days" and the pain of separation that is such a beautiful teacher; so much love in that pain. This blog and recent posts a heart jumpstart. All we perceive out there comes from within--Guru and disciple are the Changeless One. The Truth is the Truth and will always lead us back to the Self. Thank you. Love, Naganath

Scott Marmorstein said...

You cannot save the world by being angry with the way it is. You have to love the way it can be instead.

If sadhana is about anything, it is about bringing you into the clarity and love of the present moment. From this place only can you really serve the world, and perhaps save some piece of it. As Nisargadatta Maharaj once said, "You can only save the world if you yourself are beyond saving."

What he means is that your own impressions, postures, attitudes, and emotions must be clear, and totally absorbed in the Highest for your contributions to be lasting, loving, and with great impact.

Sadhana, is the practice of accepting the Guru's Grace (the Grace Bestowing Power of God) which we may initially find through the the physical form of a great enlightened teacher. All enlightened beings have the same purpose, the same goal, the same mission. They have a tough go of it because of language, and because people who hear them may distort their lenses through improper perception.

This course is helping us get into the present moment--how can that in any way shape or form be 'checking out'? That to my way of understanding is only CHECKING IN! Hello! The PRESENT moment is checking IN! If you're really checked IN to the present moment you can do some real good wherever you are, whether you're buying groceries, walking your dog, or starting a prayer group for animals.

The present moment is totally filled with light. The mind usually isn't. If you're really present, you're really in the light...or should I say, 'enlight'ened. At such times you may be using your mind without being entangled in its thoughts. If you want to entangle in anything, entangle your mind (absorb) in the principle of supreme Grace, of God's Love. In this way you can save yourself, then you can save your world.

Anonymous said...

Do you believe it is possible to have a "fall from grace"?

Scott Marmorstein said...

Anonymous, what do you mean by 'a fall from Grace'?

A fall from Grace is possible if someone gets stuck in the wanton desires of their ego and forfeits the bliss of the Supreme (for a protracted period).

An enlightened being also has karma, and so this sort of thing is possible. Mahashakti has a Play, and She Plays it all perfectly. It is beyond the limited mind's capacity to understand.

If you stay steady in the present moment, you won't bother thinking about such things as a fall from Grace. Instead you will not fall from Grace yourself. Or you will. Shakti's Play, after all will tell.

You could even say that a fall from Grace happens all day throughout your day as you slip away from the present moment, from the Truth at any time. An enlightened being rarely does this. Then again, so very few enlightened beings on the planet anyway.

Real question: what are you going to do? Worry about a fall from Grace, or pray for Grace in the present moment? Baba Muktananda used to say, "Don't think about what other people go through. Think only about your own spiritual practices, your own sadhana, and don't compare yourself to others."

Worrying about other people falling from Grace is falling into the trap of the ego where "nothing is sacred" and it is DEADLY! Deadly, I tell you!

Contemplate Grace itself. That is after all the fruit of the present moment.

Chimene said...

I like the question about "falling from Grace." My own understanding is not that you don't fall from it but rather that you walk away from Grace, like one would walk away from a deep well, only to look for water more readily available, that necessitates less work to draw. Yet, shallow water will not be as thirst quenching, it will me murky and will only leave you thirstier. In my experience, whenever I have walked away from Grace, from spiritual work and from the relationship with Grace, I have found it again, or should I say it has found me again, answering to a deeper longing I am not always aware of but that somehow keeps me on tract. Like finding this Course again...Grace has once again answered a deep longing that I had lost touch with, but now I realize how thirsty I really was.
Anyway hope this helps shed light on this really amazing question about our relationship with Grace.

D. R. Butler said...

I think Scott and Chimene both had excellent responses to the question about 'falling from grace.'

I have pondered this question since it came up. I can certainly understand where it comes from. I have gone through the 'dark night of the soul' when it truly feels as though we have fallen from grace and are lost and forgotten.

Ultimately the only true fall from grace is if we turn against ourselves in our own thinking. For example, every time we get into negative thoughts or emotions, we experience a loss of grace. If one were to insist on this path for a long period, then it would surely feel as though all grace had been lost forever.

Ultimately there is only the grace of our own Self. There is no external source of grace. Even the true Guru, the grace bestowing power of God, is a manifestation of our own Self. If there were an external source of grace, we would live in a world of duality, and the world of duality is only a temporary illusion.

Don't fall from grace in your own mind. Know that the source of grace is within you, and open yourself up to the grace of God that surges from within your own Self.

In the long run, there is no rising or falling. All that is the play of Consciousness. There is only eternal stillness. The apparent movement and motion is the play, the leela, the dance.

Know your true nature, live in the awareness of your own divine Being, and grace will follow you around and bestow upon you a charmed life.

John said...

As a follow-up to my previous comment:

In your lesson 12, page 10, second paragraph, you say:

"We need to remain vigiliant and to be sure that we are not perpetuating the very things we wish to change simply by persisting in old, worn-out beliefs. We must watch our tendencies and remember to replace them with beliefs and feelings more conducive to a harmounious and enjoyable life."

I think your teaching "We must watch our tendencies..." is a real key component in the system of transforming the nature of our thoughts and feelings. It is a point that merits further examination.

In my early years, I would condem myself for having a negative thought or for feeling depressed or negative. So, it didn't matter too much how positive my affirmation might be that followed the negative thought or emotion, I would feel bad for having had them.

Then I started joking to myself about the negative thought or feeling. I would make it into an entire comedy bit until I started laughing to myself; I would actually change my inner feeling towards it. And most of all, I would take the support of my current lesson or put on a video chant or meditate - anything that actually works to take me back to the love in my heart.

What also really helped me was to learn that even in enlightenment the mind will have negative thoughts and emotions. Only difference is the enlightened one is so detached from his/her own mental activities he/she is not disturbed by them. I had a concept that enlightenment means being "perfect" in thought and action.

What I want to develop the most right now is the detachment I need to remain undisturbed by the nature of any thought or feeling that may arise within my mind. And in time, the mind will quiet down until I have fewer thoughts, and higher quality thoughts, and then no thoughts.... :)

Thanks so much for your service....

Love,
John

D. R. Butler said...

John, you make some excellent points. For one, it is definitely a powerful approach to maintain a humorous approach to our own habitual negativities and agitations. Once we take them seriously, or pass judgment on ourselves, we get really lost in them. It is always best to laugh at ourselves whenever possible, even if we're not being funny. You know what I think the 11th Commandment should be: Thou shalt not take thyself too seriously.

BTW, enlightenment is 'perfect in thought and action.' It is the state of seeing the perfection in everything as it is. It doesn't mean everything is 'ideal' according to our conditioning or our usual standards. Old, unwanted thoughts and emotions might arise, and although they might not be 'ideal,' everything still exists in absolute perfection.

Enlightenment is not only being detached from what we know would bring us down, but it is also seeing the unblemished perfection in everything as it is.

JP said...

You know I lose
You know I win
You know I called for
The shape I'm in
It's just a game
You see me play
- Neil Young, World On a String

D. R. Butler said...

Neil Young has always been among my favorites:)

Along with, perhaps, Pink Floyd and Leonard Cohen. If I had the music of just those 3 on a desert island, I'd be okay for a while.

Amazing all the different levels we can converse in.

JP said...

I thought of that Neil Young tune when I read: "In the long run, there is no rising or falling. All that is the play of Consciousness. There is only eternal stillness. The apparent movement and motion is the play, the leela, the dance"

Afterwards I wished I had posted more of the song. The lyrics resonate with what is taught here.

No the world on a string
Doesn't mean a thing
Only real in the way
That I feel from day to day

Although the answer
Is not unknown
I'm searching searching
And how I've grown...

Sea Goddess Treasures said...

Geez Ram, What about Van Morrison?

D. R. Butler said...

You're right. It's hard to remember everyone all at once:)

Anonymous said...

Recently I’ve been contemplating what it means to come into harmony with whatever crosses my path. A recent sneak attack by the back pain gremlins has focused my mind on the topic. If I accept the proposition that everything is a Divine manifestation then that must include this nagging (sometimes sharp) pain in my back. If I don’t accept this pain as a Divine manifestation ( disharmony) then my attitude turns cranky and irritable. If I can accept my current discomfort as another expression of the Divine then my experience and attitude is entirely different. I found the initial episode absurdly amusing. All I did to bring it on was bend over to put on my shoes!

Maintaining this sort of detached amusement has made what is usually a very unpleasant experience much more enjoyable. Isn’t that the core bhav (attitude) of being in the Moment. A sort of detached amusement at what’s going on. It seems quite possible to focus on that perspective no matter what the mellow drama.

Anonymous said...

A few more musings on harmony, when I am in harmony I am tuned into the the Divine harmonic. That light blissful vibration that is the essence of contentment. Isn’t this what the Sages refer to when they speak of Divine bliss.

Conversely if I think negatively about what’s happening in the Here and Now the vibration, my experience, is heavy and unpleasant. It's not what's happening that's unpleasant. It's my opinion of what the Lord has manifested in my life that is unpleasant. I’m out of sync with the joy of the Present Moment and the ego has the upper hand.

It seems the game of life is a indeed a Divine comedy. The trick is to learn to laugh along with the Divine jokester.

D. R. Butler said...

The 'anonymous' who asked about 'falling from grace' had another follow-up post which I am unable to publish because of his or her use of certain copyrighted terms. The was mostly directed to Scott in response to Scott's post.

If you wish to contact Scott directly, write to him at his site: sparklingaura.com

Contrary to what Kay said in her letter going out with new lessons today, I'd prefer folks not post anonymously, liking to see names instead. However, it is always okay to post as anonymous if this is how you feel most comfortable.

I prefer as many as possible to participate in the blog in whatever way is suitable for you.

Cristóbal said...

I can relate to the back pain as teacher / divine manifestation. The last time I had serious back issues, I could not get out of bed for several days because the pain was so intense. While I would never want to go through that again, I had to accept it (no choice!) and it forced me to *slow down*. It turns out that slowing down was exactly what I needed to be more in the flow of what was happening in my life right then.

Sometimes we don't see until later the great value of the things we find hard to accept.

Ari said...

Since the death of my spiritual friend/mentor of 15 years I've been going through some powerful changes. They seem very much to correlate with what you wrote in lesson 39. I've wondered how things would be without having that friend to talk to regularly about our spiritual journey.

You wrote that seeking the truth is not "an experience to be worked towards". That really made me stop. I've never heard you or anyone put it quite that way. I've always felt it was something I was "striving for".

Right after that paragraph in the lesson you had a quote from Adyashanti. His quote was in order to desire the truth you have to want to know the truth more than you want to feel good. Simply because doing so will result in shedding of your most precious ideas beliefs.

To put it all togeather this is what I have found since the death of my friend. It's removed a big layer of who I kept thinking I was and my attachment to this character I am playing in this liftime. It feels like a weight has been lifted from me and is replaced by a feeling of lightness.

India said...

I have been having very deep experiences with the repetition of reading the lessons. Even if I only spend a few moments reading a few paragraphs, it alters my state in a profound way. I am blown away by how several words strung together in the middle of a paragraph can enter like a sacred arrow and open a gateway to the space between thoughts. In lesson 12, "the only source of power lies within" and "the secret to personal power is the consciousness of power" are two examples. Wow!

I am still learning how to integrate the blog into my participation in the course. So far I don't resonate with it but based on your encouragement I will continue to work at it.

Sending love and gratitude,

Michael said...

I would love some clarification regarding the statement: "the inner light reveals an unexpected perfection." What is this unexpected perfection, and why can't the mind expect it? I always thought I knew what perfection was — but now I'm beginning to understand that I have been confusing "perfection" with "ideal." There has been a great deal of discussion on this subject in the blog.

I am getting more and more frequent glimpses of a very subtle perspective that does not originate within the mind. I flash in and out of it, or it peeks into my consciousness. It's like Jesus saying in Revelations, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." But at that moment I feel that everything the scriptures say about me — the true I AM that we all share — is absolutely and obviously true.

The one thing I can say about this new state is that it is totally unexpected — I always thought enlightenment would happen in or to the mind. How else can a mind think? Imagine my stupefaction when I begin to awaken to this experience in which everything I always heard about is already true. Instituting a new habit of replacing stress with lightheartedness has greatly helped to open myself to that unexpected perfection. I've been thinking about it for thirty years. Now I'm finally beginning to experience it.

D. R. Butler said...

Michael, I use the term 'unexpected perfection' because the perfection we finally experience is unexpected. Like you say, it's not the perfection we idealize about--that is only idealism. Many people have a hard time distinguishing the difference between perfect and ideal.

All the practices we do--referring to our current lesson as often as possible to 'tune in' to the Truth of the present moment, reading the blog and applying the principles in our own daily life, practicing our own personalized forms of devotion and worship, offering our work as service to divinity--gradually lead up to an unexpected perfection.

The perfection already exists. What is unexpected is that it has existed all along. Imagine the balloon floating in the sky searching for air. In the same way we search for some spiritual attainment, yet all we get is an unexpected perfection that has always already existed.

Cloe said...

Since perfection already exists could instead "expecting perfection" be the act of faith which will turn on the inner light?

D. R. Butler said...

Yes, except to 'expect' perfection projects the experience of perfection into the future, whereas in reality perfection exists only now and can only be experienced in the present moment.

For most, this is unexpected.

Jane said...

The lessons are taking me to the place beyond words where we are one. Of course, the journey is not linear and it requires that I apply the principles in daily living but I have increasing faith that I can live in the sacred space of the present moment.

I'm sure in the future that I'll have questions to pose and issues to discuss but for now I just want to express my gratitude for being with a community of seekers who are so clearing imbibing and practising the lessons.

with much love,
jane

Angelle said...

In Lesson 8, you said "Painful experiences are best forgotten. We can do this once we discharge the emotional energy held in the memories corresponding to those experiences." How do we discharge the emotional energy?

D. R. Butler said...

Angelle, that's a great question, but it's a bit too much to go into on the blog. There are ways of releasing stuck emotional energy, and we will explore this subject in detail in the lessons to come.

For now, do your best to not dwell on painful experiences of the past, and to replace memories of them with more uplifting thoughts as soon as you become aware of them arising.

Certain processes take place over time. Releasing all the negative emotional energy we have stored up over a lifetime is one of them. It cannot be done overnight, but with awareness in each present moment, we can make improvements one day at a time.

Refer to your current lesson as often as possible, apply the principles in your daily life, and you will begin to notice surprising and unexpected changes in the ways you think and feel, which in turn transforms the ways you perceive and experience yourself and your life.

Anonymous said...

How can your teachings be applied to some of the problems so many of us face such as debt and unemployment?

What is the relationship between living in the truth and meeting the needs of life. When I first began meditating 19 years ago I heard a quote from the Bhagavad Gita which translated to established in being, perform action. This seemed to me to be the solution to so many human problems. Regretably I am not yet established in this state. I live in an area very hard hit by these times and I need a job and I have significant debt. Do your teachings help with these problems? What is your practical advice? Thank very much.

D. R. Butler said...

Anonymous, I hear you. We have heard this from many people since we began the new course and blog in 2008. And yes, this is one of the primary issues we address in the course, as it has always been one of the most pressing issues for many people.

The first two years of the course, while presenting the highest teachings gleamed from the world's greatest scriptures, are primarily designed to enable the participant to get all aspects of personal life in order. We need to somewhat clean up our personal life before the higher 'spiritual' states can be experienced and appreciated.

Ordinarily, we greatly ignore the enormous power of 'distraction.'

Even though the course is priced moderately, where anyone can afford it, I know that when you are without a job and in debt, you aren't looking for new ways to spend available resources.

The primary answer to your question is that money, almost more than anything else, is pliable according to our consciousness of it. One who is conscious of his needs always being met experiences that in his life, while one who is conscious of lack or limitation experiences conditions corresponding to those feelings.

There is a lot of information and instruction available for free in the blog, throughout all the entries and answers to questions in the comments. I recommend reading the very first entry, posted July 14, 2008, now titled "Introduction." I will quote two paragraphs from it here:

How do we deal with the realities of today's world, including economic hardship and insecurity for many? Hard times have existed in this world ever since it began, yet there have always been those few who knew the Truth of Being and lived in mastery of life to varying degrees. Many great teachers throughout time have taught this same great truth, although it has been interpreted in different ways, and there have been different points of emphasis, leading to the various paths that ultimately bring us back to the same Truth.

This outer challenging world, including the physical realities of economic hardship, deteriorating health, loss, lack, or limitation of any nature, does exists in its own realm. However it is not the only realm in existence, and it is certainly not the highest, nicest, or most pleasant realm. If we have a choice--which we do, whether we consciously realize it or not--why not choose to live in the exalted truth of the present moment, instead of languishing in the pain of external woe? We do have a choice, but we must exercise it.

Anyway, once again, there is much to be understood regarding mastery of this, but the short answer is to know clearly what you actually want and to feel keenly that it is already real. Refuse to consider thoughts of lack, loss, debt, or the such, as they will only nurture and sustain those conditons in your outer world.

The outer always, invariably, reflects the inner. Our work is to get the inner world right. Once we do, the mirror of the outer world will reflect it perfectly.

Taylor said...

I love India's description that some words in the lessons "can enter like a sacred arrow and open a gateway to the space between thoughts."
In lesson 17, the phrase "we simply rest in our own inner contentment" has that effect for me and I am enjoying meditating on the phrase and practicing it.

JohnRama said...

September blog: I read as far as the sharing about "the girl" and how she regreted writing the story about you and it was good to hear. In the past, I had wanted to write her a letter and to give her my love and support. Her letter actually taught me an important lesson and helped me to avoid making the same mistake that I think she had made. Knowing D.R. the way that I do and seeing how she felt about what happened in that situation for her, helped me when I found myself in a similar situation. I found myself feeling the way she did when the person that I was in a relationship left me. But I made an effort to stay in my heart and now I have found the love of my life and I am so filled with love that I have realized that what happend to me in the past only made me a better man, a kinder man, a more gentle person. All of it works for our highest good and I am grateful for such blessings and grace which come so abundantly from the blog and D.R.'s course. Having the courage to share this with us shows me what a truly great man you are. Thank you so much D.R.