I don’t want to grow up, but …

northern lightsI sat staring at the folder of A Course in Miracles questions I used to keep as they arose in the classroom of my seeming life to ask Ken Wapnick about in my ongoing interviews with him at the Foundation for A Course in Miracles in Temecula, California. I had awoken the night before from an unusually sound sleep, inspired to revisit that folder I had kept closed since Ken’s passing just after Christmas, last year. For reasons I didn’t fully understand, but nonetheless trusted, it was apparently time to take the lid off whatever I had buried there.

Still, I hesitated. Although I had experienced a curious sense of comfort for a couple of months following Ken’s seeming bodily death, a phantom certainty that all was well despite the disappearance of the most convincing evidence of our eternally uninterrupted, undifferentiated union with our loving source I have ever encountered, a period of desolation more acute than I had experienced before or after beginning my journey with this Course ten years ago, and quite frankly had not fully emerged from, followed. A punishing ego backlash for daring to believe and experience the truth that Ken’s ego-free presence could survive the loss of a body that seemed to have once contained it.

I thought about how Ken had been really entreating us over the last couple of years to grow up with this Course. To “stop with the baby business,” as he often told us, quoting his beloved grandson, and just focus on doing what the Course is saying. Challenge every unkind thought. Refuse to justify and rationalize our unkindness and sense of victimization by attributing its cause to imaginary outside forces. However real it seems to the personal self we think we are, however convincing the physical and emotional “evidence” that an “incoming attack” caused the problem, it is still all only happening within the mind, a symptom of the “tiny, mad idea” regurgitating over and over in multiple torturous forms.

No one is guilty here! However real it seems, we can still remind ourselves our perception always lies. In truth, we just became afraid of love again, real, invulnerable Love, unlimited by the insane idea of vulnerable bodies.  All we need to do, as Ken often said, quoting the Course, is to “see the problem as it is and not the way you have set it up,” which simply means seeing it the way our inner forgiveness teacher does, the way Ken saw and taught it,  continues to see and teach.

I fingered the worn manila folder. I was heading to Temecula again in a few weeks to attend the weeklong July academy taught by foundation staff members. The March program had proven so deeply healing, and reassuring. Although Ken’s body had vanished, the profound comfort his presence shed, an experience of merciful completeness and boundless spaciousness, still prevailed, flowing gracefully through his staff members, and infusing us all.

The lighthouse, the foundation’s symbol adopted for many years in its quarterly newsletter, had always seemed to me an apt metaphor for the foundation itself, a beacon of safety steadily illuminating our convoluted, contemporary darkness. Visiting there, interviewing Ken, taking classes these last few years, seemed a kind of pilgrimage in which I brought my wild dark ego imaginings to a light outside the dream capable of instantly shining them away. Transporting me back to the decision-making mind where I forgave myself for believing in it, withdrew my judgments of others and my investment in this personal identity, remembered I was dreaming, and, finally, smiled at the silliness of it all.

The visits offered a kind of forgiveness intensive, mimicking the ongoing process of its practice in our daily lives, but without the constant distractions we blame for tempting us to follow them back into the labyrinth of specialness we secretly covet that roots us more firmly in the dream. And seems to keep our experience of peace and healing always just out of reach. Another item on our to-do lists we never quite get to as time ticks wearily on here in dreamland.

When I first heard about Ken’s passing, after the surge of grief ebbed, I still felt him here so strongly. If I could simply spin my head around quickly enough, I would certainly catch him in my peripheral vision, smiling the smile he smiled between lectures, bear hugging us all. Greeting visitors like me pouring in from around the country and the world to hear him tell us we’re not really here, but that’s a good thing, like long lost friends. Espousing on our “secret sins and hidden hates” Jesus talks about in the Course. Inviting us to look at them, too, so we could see, as he did, that we made them all up! The “tiny, mad idea” that arose in the one Child of God’s mind that we could fragment eternal wholeness had no real effects and was actually smiled at and forgotten at the seeming beginning, our impossible dreams to the contrary notwithstanding.

But a couple months later I regressed. And despite the several-week hiatus seemingly triggered by my experience at the March academy, I have seemed unable to experience an elongated sense of my inner, or what I once believed to be “outer,” teacher’s ego-free, only-loving presence since, leaving me often feeling bereft, and sometimes terrified. Aware that real Love prevails but somehow unable to penetrate the invisible force field fencing me out. Knowing I erected it, but having completely forgotten the code to disarm it.

The bottom line? I don’t want to relate to Ken or Jesus in abstraction. I want to experience that presence in form to keep it from challenging my belief in my form. I don’t want to outgrow that need for “their” form because I believe it requires the “sacrifice” of my form. I mean, if belief is the only thing that sustains this walking, talking, breathing, thinking, lamenting, rationalizing, remembering, planning self, then letting it go means what, exactly, for me?

And yet that thought, too, is but another facet of the ego’s “propaganda for itself.” As Jesus and Ken always emphasize, the Course’s intention is never to heighten our fear (that’s the ego’s domain), but to gently lead us up the ladder “separation led us down” to a point where all fear has dissolved and we are ready to embrace the fullness of our eternally loving reality. Unbounded by the imaginary defense of bodies meant to protect against a fictitious, punishing God, when in fact God knows nothing of our impossible “sinful” dreams.

“… Nothing more fearful than an idle dream has terrified God’s Son, and made him think that he has lost his innocence, denied his Father, and made war upon himself. So fearful is the dream, so seeming real, he could not waken to reality without the sweat of terror and a scream of mortal fear, unless a gentler dream preceded his awaking, and allowed his calmer mind to welcome, not to fear, the Voice that calls with love to waken him; a gentler dream, in which his suffering was healed and where his brother is his friend. God willed he waken gently and with joy, and gave him means to waken without fear.” (Chapter 27, VII. paragraph 13)

This Course’s radical forgiveness is the means. Growing up with it requires only lots of practice and a willingness to stop trying to solve our imaginary problems by our imaginary selves. Growing up with this Course, “living it,” means remembering we have an inner teacher we may think of as Jesus or Ken or the Holy Spirit or Elvis (not!—just testing to see if you were still paying attention :)). Or any other ego-free symbol we choose, as long as we still believe we inhabit a body, to teach us we are wrong about what, where, and why we are. From whom to learn we are all—victims and victimizers–fighting the same hard battle of unconsciously defending the guilty lie of separation from our seamlessly united Source. And all share the same need to heal our mind of that excruciating belief, remember our enduring innocence, and gently find our way home, allowing our nightmares to be replaced with forgiving and forgiven dreams along the way.

I could almost see the happy dream of Ken smiling his playful smile, his reassuring nod, flooding me with the deeply healing reassurance that Ken was—duh!–still here, “so close to you we cannot fail,” as our inner teacher (Jesus/Holy Spirit/right mind) puts it so soothingly in the introduction to the second half of the workbook (Part II, Introduction, paragraph 6). Almost.

I peered down at the folder. How I still longed to have Ken “in person” answer those questions I’d prepared for the September 2013 interview I had scheduled with him that never came to pass. After he died, I knew the time would come to begin interviewing him again, in his new, disembodied form. Although it wasn’t really new, I knew, on some level. And kind of wish I didn’t. I still wasn’t sure I was ready to grow up with this Course. But maybe I could take another step toward awakening. Maybe I could revisit these questions (not to mention the ones that had accumulated since; as if there were different problems and different solutions), join him in that quiet center the Course talks about (and Ken often referenced) beyond form and words, and allow myself to really listen. And even though it felt like jumping into the proverbial void, I drew a deep breath, and opened that folder.

“Yet there will always be this place of rest to which you can return. And you will be more aware of this quiet center of the storm than all its raging activity. This quiet center in which you do nothing, will remain with you, giving you rest in the midst of every busy doing on which you are sent. For from this center will you be directed how to use the body sinlessly. It is this center from which the body is absent that will keep it so in your awareness of it.” (Chapter 18, VII. paragraph 8)

Here’s a link to my 2010 interview with Ken in which he talks about the quiet center within available to us all: https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/the-quiet-center-an-interview-with-ken-wapnick.  and his YouTube on this subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIpxFB3JliY

I am thrilled to soon be heading to Temecula again for the facim July academy next week. There are still spaces, and the foundation is accepting walk-in registrations! http://www.facim.org/temecula-schedule.aspx

The Foundation for A Course in Miracles could use our help as they continue to so gracefully teach and publish the mind-healing, life-altering work of our beloved teacher and mentor Ken Wapnick, who selflessly dedicated his life to helping us change our minds about the world and find our way home. You can express your support and appreciation for this ongoing work with a donation here: https://www.facim.org/bookstore/p-195-donate.aspx .

Now, when you buy on Amazon, you can support The Foundation for A Course in Miracles, too! Details here: http://www.facim.org/announcements.aspx 

The Foundation for A Course in Miracles continues to offer illuminating classes taught by a talented, devoted, inspiring staff! I was so deeply moved and inspired by their presentations at the March academy, and can’t wait to return for more! Check out their offerings here:  http://www.facim.org/temecula-schedule.aspx 

Here’s a new acim hangout with my friend Bruce Rawles, in which we discuss ACIM workbook lesson 133: “I will not value what is valueless,” and other topics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucvrdocN5YI 

Here’s a link to details about a new Tuesday night class I am offering here in Denver https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/classes-events beginning in May 2014. 

HALF-HOUR, FORTY-FIVE MINUTE, OR HOUR-LONG 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. 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 is ever turned away for lack of ability to pay.) 

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 http://www.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 http://uncoursenmiraclesenfrance.com/ including recorded talks available for purchase or free download: http://uncoursenmiraclesenfrance.com/audio/.

 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 website http://www.schoolofreason.org/ to receive information about upcoming classes. 

Here’s another ACIM hangout video I did with my friend Bruce Rawles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yogj9ckTXbc&feature=youtu.be . In this one, we talk about our love for our teacher Ken Wapnick, a demonstration of kindness to one and all, and how we can honor his life and heal our minds by living all he has taught us!

My latest book, Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want is available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle versions. If you read and find the book helpful, I would so appreciate you posting a brief (a sentence or two is fine) review on Amazon. 🙂

Forgiveness Offers Everything I Wantalso available at the Rocky Mountain Miracle Center in Denver, Colorado where I teach weekly on Tuesday nights, 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.  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. One phrased grabbed me above the others in this post: “incoming attack” … How cleverly does ego foster the “propaganda for itself” by promoting the belief in ‘otherness’ … the flawed premise that makes its absurd dream almost plausible; yet with out otherness, there’s nothing incoming, and nothing to attack or be attacked – how simple! … and how deserving of our continued practice of self-forgiveness with our Inner Kindness Teacher guiding us every moment. Thanks for another great post, Susan! 🙂

  2. “What are the characteristics of God’s teachers?” Kenneth was an advanced teacher and so you shall be too. He is there to guide you in the abstract as Jesus guided him. You will receive the same unconditional love from Kenneth that he received from Jesus. There was a day when Kenneth realized that Jesus was talking to him in the Course and also the realization as to who the “him” was. He cried and then he devoted himself to Jesus in the same way Jesus devoted himself to Kenneth. If I were you I would ask Kenneth if he would like to read “What are the Characteristics of God’s Teachers” with you. Just a thought. 🙂

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