I do not perceive my own best interests

highway canyonsI sat in my office, eyes shut, contemplating the searing possibility–gradually morphing into an inevitable probability–that “I do not perceive my own best interests,” as A Course in Miracles workbook Lesson 24 indisputably asserts. As my imaginary inner professor—that bearded wonder, ventriloquist extraordinaire–has mentioned innumerable times. Without ever moving his holy lips or seeming to exercise his holy voice.

There seemed nothing left to do. My daughter and her boyfriend had just left with my husband to retrieve her boyfriend’s car from the tire store in a community in the Front Range foothills. My husband had picked them up in the wee hours of the morning after the car blew out three tires in a freak accident resulting from chunks of ice and rock falling onto I-70 on otherwise clear roads following a heavy spring snowstorm earlier that day.

After dining with us the previous evening and stocking up on camping gear, the kids had planned to bunk at a friend’s house located just past the accident before making the eight-hour drive through the Rockies to Lake Powell–a gigantic recreational area nestled in a red-rock canyon on the border of Utah and Arizona. They planned to rent a boat there for a night before joining other members of their soon-to-be-graduating college class for a celebratory trip to the enchanting Canyonlands National Park.

I sat watching the trajectory of my relief that the kids had emerged unscathed from the highway debacle involving some 30 vehicles alongside my anxiety’s as we all pulled out our computers, banged away at search engines, and realized the National Weather Service had extended the previous day’s storm warning for the mountainous area they intended to traverse to reach their destination. Even though several cockeyed-optimistic highway “cams” pictured clear roads in, you know, “real time.”

The kids started frantically googling alternative routes, my daughter biting her lips and gnawing at the edges of her thumb as she has since she was little.  My husband rooted around in the cellar and emerged with our dusty Forest Service maps, souvenirs of our own past calamitous and miraculously-survived wilderness adventures. They could go through Durango where the weather looked fine but it would take an additional two-and-a-half hours. They could leave tomorrow, only they had a $400-nonrefundable deposit on the boat they had just pushed back a day and the tires had already cost them $1000—ouch! Besides, they had to return to school Wednesday and it was already Saturday.

I-70 really didn’t look bad, my husband kept saying, mesmerized by the dubious promise of multiple web cams conjuring safe passage. They could just cancel the whole freaking trip, stay here, and binge on pasta and House of Cards episodes with me; I happily did not venture to add. Not that anyone was listening to anyone else anyway, eyes and ears riveted on the screens of our personal devices.

Somewhere during this convoluted seeming conversation (really, are there any other kind here in dreamland?) it again occurred to me, at least at the level I think I am, facing multiple choices in form—none of which guaranteed a passing grade–that the tires blowing might have been a blessing in disguise, forcing the kids to come home and delay their travel that morning. And although none of the alternatives currently circulating in the split mind seemed acceptable to the worried mother I still see when I look in the mirror, I nonetheless sensed the eternal flame of a safety beckoning far beyond any of these meandering roads, emanating from the perpetually open door of my inner teacher’s office in our one mind.

The kids left with my husband, still unsure about which route to take. As they headed out the door and I embraced them, I uttered words that left me entirely gob smacked. “Do what feels best to you,” I said. (I know—what the?) I held my daughter close. She was 22 after all. These were her illusions to choose among. In truth, they always had been. “I love you,” I said.

“What the hell was that?” I thought, afraid again, as I shut the door, aware I had no control whatsoever about the choices to be made, the dream figures making them, or the consequences of those choices. Not in this situation. Not in any. Although we are not asked to deny our experience in form and will always find ourselves choosing among illusions as long as we seem to inhabit a body navigating a treacherous world, ultimately choosing among forms is like trying to rearrange seats on the deck of the Titanic, as our beloved external teacher Ken Wapnick so graphically put it. We will never find protection in a venue imagined to defend against the preposterous idea of endangerment. Only choosing to align with the perspective of the inner teacher of invulnerability will bring us the unwavering comfort and security of our enduring, all-embracing true nature beyond this dualistic mortal dream of individuality realized.

I glanced at my watch. I had to leave for a lunch meeting with alumni of the School of Reason for A Course in Miracles in half an hour. Enough time to come to this chair, heart once more heavy, stomach churning. To simply sit with the alternative to the fear again rising in my throat, born of the same old guilty belief in problematic personal lives purchased at the cost of eternally peaceful, innocent, undifferentiated union. And I entertained the possibility that I did not know my own best interests in this situation seeming to involve the fate of a body I cherished above all others.

After a few moments I realized I just couldn’t have it both ways. I couldn’t keep trying to bargain with Jesus to assume the role of superhero for me (as fetching as he looked in that costume). To somehow swoop down and envelop my daughter and her boyfriend in a magic bubble, and still experience real peace. Because if he joined me on my own terms, like any other body, like the unreliable body I think I am, for example, how could I possibly rely on him? I really would have to let the form of what I desired to happen go and ask only for the content of mind-healing. And so I did, breathing deeply, in and out, through the free-fall of that thought. Reminding myself I know nothing of truth but am willing to learn. Willing to trade my body’s urgent, rollicking instincts for the quiet center of certainty I am beginning to taste and trust above and beyond all other experience.

And you know what, peace came, or rather, I came to peace. I went to my meeting where the topic du jour along with the soup turned out to be, go figure, Chapter 18, VII. “I Need Do Nothing.” My daughter sent me a text later that afternoon. It was indeed sunny in Grand Junction! They forged on to Lake Powell and I assume are on their way to Canyonlands as I type. Of course, they do have to return Wednesday on the same roads and the weather looks, at best, well—as predicted on these pages before— “cloudy with a chance of projection.”

“In no situation that arises do you realize the outcome that would make you happy. Therefore, you have no guide to appropriate action, and no way of judging the result. What you do is determined by your perception of the situation, and that perception is wrong. It is inevitable, then, that you will not serve your own best interests. Yet they are your only goal in any situation which is correctly perceived. Otherwise, you will not recognize what they are.

If you realized that you do not perceive your own best interests, you could be taught what they are. But in the presence of your conviction that you do know what they are, you cannot learn. The idea for today is a step toward opening your mind so that learning can begin.” (A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 24, “I do not perceive my own best interests.” Paragraphs 1 and 2)

I will be speaking this Friday, May 1st, on A Course in Miracles 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. C.A. is generously hosting a celebration giveaway and six lucky listeners will receive a free copy of my book. Please join us at 9 a.m. Mountain, 8 a.m. Pacific, 11 a.m. Eastern on http://12radio.com/  and in the 12Radio Private Group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/12radio during the show.

My new book, Forgiveness: The Key to Happiness, is available on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle.

Here’s the book description:

In Forgiveness: The Key to HappinessSusan 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.

Reviews

“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:

“Oldies but Goodies” Sale

The Foundation is offering our CD and MP3 CD sets numbered 1 through 50 at a 40% discount for the month of April. While these audios were recorded in the 1980s and 1990s, they are ageless in content. Many students will be surprised to find the very same teachings in these sets as are in those recorded in Kenneth’s later years. Please click here to find a listing of titles with links to the products included in this sale.

New ePub Release

From The Lighthouse, Volume Two

Volume Two of the three-volume anthology of articles written by Kenneth and Gloria Wapnick is now available here.

New Programs for June, July, and August 2015

The Foundation has added three new programs for the upcoming summer months. You can view the schedule here. The Academy classes will be followed by the weekly Thursday morning group for those students wishing to extend their studies.

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My Interviews page has been revised to make it easier to find and access interviews with Ken Wapnick and others including Gloria Wapnick, and FACIM staff teachers.

Here’s a NEW AUDIO of my recent radio chat with CA Brooks, 12Radio, on ACIM workbook lesson 79, “Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved” and lesson 80, “Let me recognize my problems have been solved.”

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Thinking of ourselves as separate, mortal, imperiled personas with their pet bodies sure seems to bring on legions of worries about ourselves and special allies, doesn’t it! Thanks for another fine reminder that we are only dreaming of exile from eternally peaceful, innocent, undifferentiated union! Today’s workbook lesson (#121) ends with an appropriately resonant idea – that egos are clueless about our best interests – as it ends with “Forgiveness is the key to happiness. I will awaken from the dream that I am mortal, fallible and full of sin, and know
    I am the perfect Son of God.” … Rumor has it that there’s a great new book with a similar title! 🙂

  2. Yes, egos sure are clueless about our best interests. Entertaining the possibility that I am wrong until I actually believe it with help from our imaginary bearded wonder really does work, when I let it! Thanks, Bruce! 🙂

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