(I’m taking some time off for a family vacation following my daughter’s graduation from college and then helping her relocate. In the meantime, hope you enjoy this excerpt from my new book, Forgiveness: The Key to Happiness!)
“… Whenever fear intrudes anywhere along the road to peace, it is because the ego has attempted to join the journey with us and cannot do so. Sensing defeat and angered by it, the ego regards itself as rejected and becomes retaliative. You are invulnerable to its retaliation because I am with you. On this journey you have chosen me as your companion instead of the ego. Do not attempt to hold on to both or you will try to go in different directions and will lose the way.” (A Course in Miracles Chapter 8, V.)
While attending Ken Wapnick’s weeklong August 2012 Academy class at the Foundation for A Course in Miracles in Temecula, California, I experienced a sense of profound and enduring comfort and renewed faith in this journey home to the place in the one mind we never really left. A kind of elongated “holy instant” outside the imaginary realm of time and space, wherein, with rare exceptions, I remained largely right-minded, happily aligned with the inner teacher of love over fear. More certain than ever that learning to see everyone and everything seemingly “out there” innocent through forgiving eyes truly offered everything I could possibly want. Able to easily welcome the awareness of the healing of my one split mind as the only real purpose of my days, the transformation of my life from a prison of individuality and special interests to a classroom of all-inclusive forgiveness as my only goal.
Toward the end of the week I had a dream that continues to haunt me—in a mostly good way—revealing as it does the two inner voices always available for us to check in with, the two hands always available for us to hold. One extended to lead us back to wholeness, the other to escort us more deeply into this dream of exile from our true, undifferentiated, eternally loving nature.
I’d been climbing in mountainous terrain, non-stop, for a long time, navigating seemingly endless switchbacks that grew steeper and rockier with each step. Drawing deeper and deeper breaths as the air and trees began to thin, wildlife and vegetation shrinking in self-defense. Just above tree-line the wind came unhinged, ravaging the granite walls, howling triumphant down the hollow canyon.
Pausing to catch my breath at a jagged outcropping, I shivered and strained to hear a voice over the gale, a warning I knew I must heed, sternly explaining that the journey would grow much more difficult now. I would need additional protection to go on from here, special clothes to shield me from the obviously harsh elements, special boots, and special gear for–you know–a special me. I might not survive without them. Obviously I had neglected to do my homework, had failed to adequately prepare. I had seriously underestimated the difficulty of this journey. I would need to turn back, the voice insisted, descend and re-provision before once more ascending my special path with my special props to my special home, with my special friend, and yet …
In my peripheral vision, my imaginary Jesus leaned back against the sheer wall in his flimsy robes and worn sandals, smiling his perennially amused smile, hand, as always, patiently extended.
“I know what you’re thinking,” I said.
His eyes widened.
“I already have all I need to be safe. All I need to go home.” I knew what he would say, at least, in every circumstance. I just didn’t really believe it.
“I just need to trust is what you’re trying to say.”
He smiled some more; hand outstretched.
I wanted to take it, I really did. But that voice continued its concerned, sober warning. I could even perceive the official presence just behind me from which it apparently emanated–not unlike a ski patrol or rescue party leader–the palpable gravitational pull of another, strong, outstretched hand. The cautionary litany persisted. Jesus just shook his head and continued to smile as gothic clouds swirled and thickened overhead, the hail moved in, and darkness fell hard and sudden around us.
Blinded now, unable to move, I found it increasingly hard to breathe and awoke more conscious than ever of the ego’s noisy conviction that reaching for the hand that would lead me out of this dream we call life would prove certain death. Aware that my recent willingness to make inner peace my life’s only goal (despite ebbing and flowing external “evidence” to the contrary) had once more rallied the ego to make it perfectly clear that my current trajectory spelled curtains for Susan.
But I am learning the ego lies, that the voice I listen to, the hand I hold; is an ongoing choice. Even though (and perhaps especially because) I have experienced more and more the comfort, completion, and certainty of my right mind, the fear continues to beckon. Until all guilt in the mind over taking what the Course rightly refers to as “the tiny, mad idea” of separation seriously is undone through forgiveness of what never was, the fear will return, often in a more compelling, convincing package than ever. But when I am willing to take Jesus’ hand despite the fear, my belief in the ego’s voice weakens a little more while my ability to recognize its many clever impersonations continues to strengthen.
I recalled another recent dream in which I stood atop a cliff beside the draped marvel complaining that I didn’t know what to do about anything in this world. Enumerating and bemoaning the many specific ways in which life had fallen short of my mind on ego’s increasingly meager expectations. Jesus patiently ignored the details of my little hissy fit while continuing to telegraph the silent message that I just needed to jump. I stared down into the perilous pit below and wondered what he might be smoking but he just kept silently encouraging me to take his outstretched hand. The ego’s warnings thundered in my ears. Still, at some point, the terror of continued paralysis exceeded the terror of forward momentum. Suddenly, without thinking, I grabbed his hand and held tight. He returned the pressure and … we jumped!
To my amazement, instead of disappearing into the void, we landed in cool, clear, pure, healing water, laughing our heads off. For weeks afterwards, whenever something seemingly “out there” tempted me to throw away my peace, I pictured me and my imaginary Jesus cannon-balling, swan diving, or somersaulting off that cliff, cracking ourselves up. And eventually went on to deal with problems that no longer seemed pressing, decisions that no longer seemed weighty, blessedly oblivious to my former need to have them work out to my “special” satisfaction.
“… Never accord the ego the power to interfere with the journey. It has none, because the journey is the way to what is true. Leave all illusions behind, and reach beyond all attempts of the ego to hold you back. I go before you because I am beyond the ego. Reach, therefore, for my hand because you want to transcend the ego. My strength will never be wanting, and if you choose to share it you will do so. …” (From paragraph 6)
In this new video Bruce Rawles and I discuss themes from my new book, Forgiveness: The Key to Happiness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vEbI3jH8Sk
Here’s a new audio/interview http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=11062C6A-26B9-4187-86B17C68AD252DCB
I did May 1st with C. A. Brooks, 12Radio, about my newly released book, Forgiveness: the Key to Happiness, http://www.amazon.com/Forgiveness-Happiness-Susan-A-Dugan/dp/0983742022/ref=tmm_pap_title_0 and the journey of learning to live a truly forgiving life and smile.
Here’s the book description:
In Forgiveness: The Key to Happiness, Susan Dugan continues to recount her personal journey in learning to change the purpose of our relationships from rooting ourselves more deeply in a childish dream of separation, to growing up to accept our shared interest in remembering the uninterrupted, eternal love of our true nature. Her deeply poignant, entertaining essays explore how to really live the teachings of A Course in Miracles, learning to view our lives as a classroom in which we encounter a better way of relating to each other through the inner teacher of forgiveness instead of sin, guilt, and fear. By making our relationship with our inner teacher the most important thing, we discover how to honor the power of everyone’s decision-making mind by connecting with our own, recognizing our own mind in need of healing in our desire to fix, change, and control others. Ultimately realizing, through moment-to-moment practice, how to relate to all there is from a healed perspective beyond guilt, blame, and need.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Susan Dugan is going to burn to a crisp in hell for this book!”
– The ego, best-selling author of, well, that would be Everything!
“This book cracks me up!”
– Jesus, author of the Indie sleeper, Seriously?
(Many of these selected and heavily edited (occasionally completely rewritten) essays first appeared temporarily as drafts on my blog at ForaysInForgiveness.com. Read consecutively, they reflect another leg in my seeming journey home through practicing A Course in Miracles’ extraordinary forgiveness of what never was in the ordinary “classroom” of my daily life.)
If you read the book and find it helpful, please consider recommending it to your Course-student friends and posting a brief review on Amazon!
RECENT ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM THE FOUNDATION FOR A COURSE IN MIRACLES:
The Foundation is happy to announce that we are offering a new media type in our Online Bookstore…downloadable MP4 files. We are currently in the process of converting each of our DVDs to the downloadable MP4 format, and this month we are offering eight titles for sale as downloads:
A Course in Miracles as a Work of Art
An Introduction to A Course in Miracles
The Dark Power of Secrecy
The Glory of the Infinite
Guilt versus Remorse
Helen Schucman: A Gift of God
Seek Not to Change the Course
On Becoming the “Touches of Sweet Harmony”: The Holy Relationship in Form
PC and Android users can play MP4 files with a variety of free media players such as VideoLAN (VLC). Apple users will need to download the file to their computer, import it into their iTunes Library, and then sync with their device.
During the month of May, the Foundation will be presenting a two-day Academy class, A Hopeless World – A Hope-filled Spirituality, on Monday and Tuesday, May 25-26, 2015. Staff members Dr. Jeffrey Seibert and Dr. Rosemarie LoSasso will be teaching.
We have expanded our “OLDIES BUT GOODIES” SALE through the month of May. As a reminder, we are offering our CD and MP3 CD sets numbered 1 through 50 at a 40% discount. Please click here to find a listing of titles with links to the products included in this sale.
Thank you for your continued interest in the Foundation.
Here’s a link to my most recent chat with Bruce Rawles about ACIM workbook lesson 132, “I loose the world from all I thought it was,” and a few of the themes emphasized in the March Academy based on Ken Wapnick’s teachings and entitled “The World: ‘A Maladaptive Solution to a Nonexistent Problem’”
HALF-HOUR, FORTY-FIVE MINUTE, OR HOUR-LONG ACIM MENTORING SESSIONS AVAILABLE: Although A Course in Miracles is clearly a self-study program and the one relationship we are truly cultivating is with our eternally sane and loving right mind, mentoring can help remind Course students having trouble applying its unique forgiveness in the classroom of their lives that the problem and the solution never lie in the difficult relationship, situation, behavior, health issue, etc., but in the decision-making mind. In every circumstance, without exception, we can choose to experience inner peace and kindness toward all, unaffected by the seemingly random strife of a world designed to prove otherwise. By choosing to look at our lives as a classroom in which we bring all our painful illusions to the inner teacher of forgiveness who knows only our shared innocence beyond all its deceptive disguises, we learn to identify and transcend the ego’s resistance, hold others and even ourselves harmless, and gently allow our split mind to heal. Sessions are conducted via traditional phone or Skype (your choice). Please contact me to find out if mentoring is right for you before submitting a payment. (No one is ever turned away for lack of ability to pay!)
My good friend and fellow Course student and teacher Bruce Rawles, author of The Geometry Code, frequently invites me to chat with him on YouTube about the Course and Ken Wapnick’s teachings. He continues to compile lots of great ACIM information well worth checking out at ACIMblog.com.
My good friend and gifted A Course in Miracles teacher and writer Bernard Groom has been posting beautifully written, heartfelt essays about living A Course in Miracles for years at ACIMvillage.com. I found his recent, kindly right-minded contemplations there on the death of our beloved teacher Ken Wapnick deeply comforting! Bernard lives and teaches in France with his dear wife Patricia. You’ll find a wealth of information in French on his website including recorded talks available for purchase or free download.
My dear friend and wonderful teacher Lyn Corona continues to offer classes at the Rocky Mountain Miracle Center through her School of Reason for Course students and teachers. You can subscribe to her School of Reason website to receive information about upcoming classes.
My previous ACIM essay collections, Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want and Extraordinary Ordinary Forgiveness are available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle versions. If you read and find any of these books helpful, I would greatly appreciate you posting a brief (a sentence or two is fine) review on Amazon.