Fear of redemption

winter berriesI sat cross-legged on a cushioned chair in the darkened, candle-lit room of the little drop-in neighborhood meditation center I’ve begun frequenting, alone again with the vast depth of my resistance to doing what this Course says, the busyness of my robotically wandering mind. The bamboo-sheltered fountain gurgled. The white noise of an overhead fan mimicked the sound of a bottomless sea issuing from a shell once held to the ear of a child I once seemed to be. My senses gradually ground to a halt as I focused on breathing deeply into the space between my chest fellow dreamers claim holds a heart capable of opening to love, synchronizing to a song of sustainable peace.

But all I could find within was the seemingly insatiable need of the personal self I still see when I look in the mirror to fill a gaping hole nothing I had ever tried to feed it had come close to nourishing. I am sorry to report I had fled my kitchen this Sunday morning in an effort to dodge the urge to murder my husband for disrupting my orderly plans to launch preparations for hosting the big, approaching Thanksgiving dinner by cooking a ham and a leg of lamb for his office in a kitchen I considered mine, despite clearly delineated joint legal ownership. Puttering about and dripping (to my taste) cloyingly sweet glazes across stove and counter tops, oven, cabinets, and floors, where they would quickly solidify (awaiting a little grease from the elbow of yours truly to remove). Fueled by endless rounds of booming ESPN commentary on one college or NFL football game after another by talking heads I considered, well, mindless. 🙂

In lotus position now, with nothing external to distract me from choosing right-mindedness, fully aware I was not upset for the reason I think as A Course in Miracles lesson 5 tells us, but still seemingly unable (as lesson 34 reminds us we can) to see peace instead of this. Silently begging for help from our inner teacher to see this angry, selfish, false self who could not even manage to count her ample blessings at Thanksgiving–when so many were hungry, lost and homeless–as he did, I suddenly glimpsed that face again. The face of our one, true Self, eyes brimming with full awareness of loving innocence for all. And the sense of impossible distance between us—the forms we seemed to embody—along with the sense of distance between all the forms of those I believed continued to thwart me–momentarily dissolved. Leaving me happily senseless; complete! Still, boundless yearning to feel truly loved and loving notwithstanding; I couldn’t hold that gaze. Words from Chapter 13 III. The Fear of Redemption, echoed in my head:

“You are not seriously disturbed by your own hostility. You keep it hidden because you are more afraid of what it covers. You could look even upon the ego’s darkest cornerstone without fear if you did not believe that, without the ego, you would find within yourself something you fear even more. You are not really afraid of crucifixion. Your real terror is of redemption.” (Paragraph 1, lines 7-11)

Bingo, I thought! And found myself instantly transported back to my inner, imaginary teacher’s office, seated again at his desk, palms pressed together against the cage of my chest, head bowed in supplication. Jesus, too, ever ready to do his best to humor me, had already assumed the position I’d taught him.

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned,” I began.

“Déjà vu all over again,” he said.

But I was in no mood for levity. “Hey, I’m suffering here, remember?”

“If you say so,” he said, resuming the role of Confessor, always a stretch for him, we both knew.

“I accuse myself of,” I continued, but where on earth to begin?

When, lately, I kept banging my empty little head against the wall of my fear of real love over and over, my wish to defend my culinary territory merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There was my obsession with trying to fix and solve the latest physical dilemmas facing my rapidly aging parents, stave off the effects of time on my own deteriorating body, secure our family finances (as if :)), guide and protect a daughter no longer in need of those services, and, you know, somehow leave this hell of a world a better place before it was too late!

Our loving external teacher Ken Wapnick often says we can tell we are making progress with this Course when we realize that the “you” Jesus addresses throughout is not the individual body we believe we inhabit, the person holding this big, blue book wondering how the hell she got herself on this path in the first place and why she can’t seem to get off, but the one child of God that took the “tiny, mad idea” of separation seriously. The decision-making mind that chose to believe the ego’s lie and forget it can always choose again for the part of our mind that remembered to laugh. But although I thought I wanted peace and real love, and knew I had a choice, I couldn’t seem to forgive the part of myself I was not in touch with that continued to choose otherwise. I wanted punishment, really, when you came right down to it. Penance and absolution from you know who to at least make this dream, this dream figure I call me, real!

“I know what you’re thinking,” I said.

“You usually do.”

“There’s nothing I need to do about all this resistance except look at it with you. It’s like you say in paragraph 6:

‘You must look upon your illusions and not keep them hidden because they do not rest on their own foundation. In concealment they appear to do so, and thus they seem to be self-sustained. This is the fundamental illusion on which the others rest. For beneath them, and concealed as long as they are hidden, is the loving mind that thought it made them in anger. And the pain in this mind is so apparent when it is uncovered, that its need of healing cannot be denied. Not all the tricks and games you offer it can heal it, for here is the real crucifixion of God’s Son.’ (Paragraph 6)

Although God knew (well, not so much) I had done my fair share of looking at my illusions, I had been looking by myself again, through the trick mirror of the part of my mind that believed in their badass nature, my badass nature, instead of looking with you, is what you’re really saying.”

“Seriously?”

“Ha! But when I really look with you, I don’t feel guilty. I see only my fear, and am able to treat myself with the same patience, kindness, and compassion that you do. The way I would treat a frightened child who just got lost again and needs a hand to hold, or, you know, some clueless guy playing around in my kitchen.”

“Imagine that.”

“But the truth is, you’re never going to judge me, are you, no matter what cockamamie dream I cook up?”

He shook his head.

“I see,” I said, rising. “Well, I’m really glad we had this little talk but, Jesus, we’re burning daylight here. I have a kitchen to clean and a couple million vegetables to peel.”

His eyes widened.

“Depending on how you look at it, I suppose.”

He smiled.

“Anyway, you better rest up; you’re going to need it.”

His brows shot up the way they do.

“I mean, with Thanksgiving so late this year, we’re already staring down the freaking gullet of Christmas. And mark my words: we’re going to have a whole lot of looking to do.”

He threw back his head and laughed.

And honest to God, I had to laugh, too.

“Do not hide suffering from His sight, but bring it gladly to Him. Lay before His eternal sanity all your hurt, and let Him heal you. Do not leave any spot of pain hidden from His light, and search your mind carefully for any thoughts you have kept to hurt you and cleanse it of its littleness, restoring it to the magnitude of God.” (Paragraph 7, lines 3-6)

HALF-HOUR MENTORING SESSIONS NOW 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 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 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 harmless, and gently allow our split mind to heal. One-on-one, hour or half-hour mentoring 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 below. (No one ever turned away for lack of ability to pay.)

 

Enjoyed talking with fellow Course student and teacher Bruce Rawles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQCB04ccc_Q about using everything in our lives as our forgiveness classroom, shifting our approach from dissociation to association, and bringing our projected dreams back inside where we can forgive ourselves for them.

 

I’m making some exciting new changes to my Tuesday-night forgiveness class, designed to deepen our study and practice and accelerate our learning in the New Year! (PLEASE SEE THIS SITE’S CLASSES/EVENTS PAGE FOR DETAILS.) We’ll begin 2014 with an exploration of true prayer, forgiveness, and healing as described in The Song of Prayer pamphlet (pamphlets available for purchase from the RMMC or already included within the most recent edition of A Course in Miracles). The Song of Prayer was scribed by Helen Schucman following the Course’s publication and helps clarify misunderstandings about its non-dualistic metaphysics. Our classes on this topic will conclude each week with an optional 20-minute true-prayer session.

 

We’ll devote the rest of the year to considering the text, chronologically, from the beginning, through selected readings, occasionally augmented by complementary workbook lessons and/or selections from the Manual, pamphlets, and recordings by premier Course Teacher, Author, and Scholar Kenneth Wapnick. Each week will conclude with an optional, 20-minute question and answer/comment/sharing session.

Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, is now available at the Rocky Mountain Miracle Center in Denver, Colorado, where I teach regularly on Tuesday nights. Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want takes up roughly where my last ACIM essay collection left off, and conveys my growing faith that no matter how wrenching, wild, or wacky the dream of our lives may appear, we always have a choice about which inner teacher we are looking and listening with: the ego, the part of our mind that believed the “tiny, mad idea” of separation from our source had real effects. Or the “right mind” that remembered to gently smile at the bizarre thought of it. If you’re thinking about buying a book and live in Denver, please consider purchasing a copy from the RMMC to help support their great work. The new book is also available on Amazon. If you read and find the book helpful, please consider posting a brief review on Amazon. 🙂

Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, and my previous book, Extraordinary Ordinary Forgiveness, are now also available from the ACIM Store: http://www.acimstore.com/default.asp.

Comments

  1. Norman Babbitt says:

    Thank you, so much, for this excellent reminder of what our fear really is. Your essay really speaks to me, exactly where I have found myself stuck at this time. It’s like a double whammy of condemning myself for being condemning. It is so good to remember that condemnation of self and of other are both only a cry for the love that I have denied. To condemn myself is to give further validity to the judgment of my ego. Thank you, again for this loving reminder of truth.

  2. Thank you, Norman.

    Yes, “a double whammy of condemning myself for being condemning,” that’s it exactly, and just the way the ego likes it. 🙂 Thank God we know (at least when the pain gets too great) that we have an inner teacher always capable of helping us see things through forgiving eyes for all!

  3. Gabrielius says:

    I don’t know how you guys, but I find it very difficult to give J my resistance. Or just look at it. Why is it so hard to employ that light/gentle look, huh? Even when the pain is so hard? 🙂 And the worst part is that I know I could look, but I don’t, because the fear is too high. Perhaps, then waiting and trusting is the key, even it seems it continues long time. You do the same? 🙂

  4. Hi Gabrielius: My resistance does make it hard. But not looking (insisting on continuing to blame it on something out there) hurts even more. Sometimes all I can manage is just reminding myself I’m not upset for the reason I think and want to want to see peace instead of this. A kind of looking at how much I don’t want to let my tales of unfair treatment go. And then just trusting and waiting (as you say) for the fear to subside. It always does, eventually, and seems to go faster the more I’m able to refrain from beating myself up about it. 🙂

  5. Gabrielius says:

    Ah, nice, Susan. Thanks, for the insight 🙂 I mean about refraining from beating yourself/myself for not looking (I was not aware I was beating myself for it). It’s like looking at the decision for not looking (as you say). I will try to practice it 🙂 “want to want to see peace instead of this” also nice 🙂 Your stories about unfair treatment are actually quite cute 🙂 I also have my own hellish tales as well 🙂

  6. Hi Gabrielius: The thing that helps me most with my own “hellish tales” is remembering that our inner Teacher is right there (“so close to you we cannot fail” as the workbook says). Ever patient, and never judging my craziness. 🙂 It really cuts right through all the ego’s arguments. I really appreciate your comments here!

  7. Gabrielius says:

    Susan, sorry for over-commenting this post, but I just had a thought about one thing. I think it would be nice if you guys shared your experience about the very first resistance you met when learning this Course and how you dealt with it. It would be an interesting thing to read 🙂

    In some of Ken’s workshops I remember his saying to one of the students “resistance blocks you from looking at the resistance”, and I think that’s a very important point and in which I seem to be. Have you been in it too? 🙂

  8. Resistance and the fear of redemption: so many ways (in form) that we can justify our suffering at the hands of the ‘others’ that appear to have betrayed or abandoned ‘us’ across the gulf in our minds that seems to keep the silly dream of separation alive… yet one little willing moment to bring our dark despair to the gently gleaming altar of forgiveness can collapse the gulf, remove the masks and re-unite our family that was never torn asunder. Thanks for another glimpse into your journey to the altar we all share in the office of our equally shared Inner Kindness Teacher. 🙂

  9. Thank God his door is always open and–no matter how we try to spin it–he loves us all the same. 🙂

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