Speaking of resistance

This week I’m sharing a radio interview I did February 7th with C.A. Brooks, avid Course student and host of a program about A Course in Miracles at 12Radio. We talked about how the Course is not a path in positive thinking, but rather in learning to look at all we’ve made up to hurt and divide us. Bringing it back to the healing-for-all light of our right mind, and remembering to smile. https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/audio/CA_ACIM_ARCHIVE_2_7_2014.mp3. 

You’ll also find new questions and answers about resistance to practicing forgiveness below. 

120px-Texture_red_stoneIt would be very interesting to hear your story about resistance, when practicing ACIM. How you met it, experienced it, dealt (are dealing) with it? Basically, it would be nice to read the process of your practice, where you thought you were practicing ACIM (forgiving this and that, saying the sacred ACIM lesson words, thinking ACIM would save you, etc.), and when you REALLY began practicing it. Meaning started to understand your resistance and how fearful you are (at least that’s my way) and then started really forgiving your fear?

I began with the Course about 10 years ago after many years of seeking and never finding a spirituality that helped me feel better about this “human condition” and this terribly conflicted world we seem to live in. All the paths I had tried helped, in different ways, but none seemed to touch my yearning for a love not of this world. Or to soothe my secret sense of being forever flawed, unloved and unloving, that had led to so much disappointment, bitterness, and self-blame. I knew I was missing something, and, when I encountered the big, blue book and its emphasis on forgiveness, I thought I had found it!

Unfortunately, like most students, I tried to blend it with the world’s idea of forgiveness I had been taught, what A Course in Miracles refers to in The Song of Prayer pamphlet as “forgiveness to destroy.” The idea that I, in my special, spiritual advancement, forgive you for the horrible things you’ve done to me. 🙂 As you know, this kind of forgiveness does nothing to dissolve the unconscious guilt we carry over the secret belief that we have separated from our source, exist as distinct individuals vying for survival in a world of vicious “others,” and can never be accepted back into the one, loving fold. It only feeds the guilt in the one I’m forgiving, which inevitably nourishes the guilt I feel within, leading to a vicious and exhausting attack-defense cycle.

Suffice it to say, the more I tried to silently forgive my special relationships, begging the Holy Spirit to rescue me from my feelings of victimization, the more unsettled they became. After all, I was really just internally pointing a guilty finger at them, trying to prove (as we all unconsciously are) that I exist apart from God but it’s not my fault— it’s theirs. I knew I was not getting what the Course was saying, but my very unconscious resistance to its teaching and secret need to defend myself was preventing me from looking with our right mind at my wish to foist my guilt onto others.

Finally, as things deteriorated within and without, I began to admit—constantly—that I did not know the answer. I began to pray for help to understand and practice true forgiveness. I didn’t hear any specific advice, but I was suddenly drawn to Ken Wapnick’s videos on each chapter of the text. I began watching and listening to them over and over again while cooking, working out, etc, without any attempt to analyze. Simply immersing myself in Ken’s explanation of the Course’s underlying metaphysics, focus on ego dynamics, and forgiveness practice. I then began to read other books of his and listen to his recorded workshops while continuing to work with the first part of the workbook. We’re told we only need to do the workbook once, but I needed to do it quite a few times to really integrate it into my mind and life.

Gradually, forgiveness took on a new meaning. I began to really remember and recognize that the problem is never in anyone or thing else in an imaginary “out there.” Whether aware of it or not, and mostly I was not, the problem is in my decision-making mind’s choice for the teacher of guilty separation realized (ego). But I could and did begin to experience glimpses of real peace if I merely chose again to look with Jesus at my desire to blame it on something external and forgive my mistake, and then try to patiently wait for my resistance to subside.

It took, and continues to take, a lot of work, a lot of silently recounting all the gory details of my miserable stories to Jesus and explaining how justified my feelings seem, and a lot of waiting! A lot of just riding out my pain, to begin to experience real shifts. Very often I would ask and ask to see from the perspective of the right instead of the wrong mind, and still feel terribly upset. But I began to realize, as Ken often told us, that this was simply my unconscious fear of letting go of a special self I thought I wanted but was learning had really cost me everything I want.

In time, I began to experience the welcome, deeply comforting release of a return to right-mindedness in which I recognized no one is guilty (including me!). In which my needs and judgments and separate interests—my self-ness–just dropped away. And I began to realize I had a teacher within I could turn to 24/7 to help me see differently, and that—however much Susan wanted to spin it—I really was never upset for the reason I think and could always choose peace when I was ready.  Even though I still grow fearful and run away, I am much more aware of the pain of that decision, and tend (most of the time, at least) not to stay stuck as long because I just can’t stand it!

That said; I am still encountering new, ingenious forms of resistance, and still experience periods of profound despair (usually following periods of kind-to-all right-mindedness) in which I seem to suddenly feel so angry and evil again, and truly hate myself for it. Times in which the ego’s critical voice, recounting my many failures with this Course, seems so convincing, that I doubt anew I have made any progress at all, don’t deserve to write about or teach this Course, will never awaken, etc.  Fortunately, after a while, I get sick of it enough to remember the familiar nature of this pattern of flip-flopping from inner teacher-to-teacher and its fearful roots, and find myself back in my imaginary Jesus’ office/classroom. Resuming our conversation right where we left off as one does with an old, dear friend, and laughing at the silliness of it all.

In some of Ken’s workshops, I remember his saying to one of his students, “Resistance blocks you from looking at the resistance.” It’s when the pain is up and going and you just run wildly, afraid to stop and look at it. Or, resisting looking at the fear, you believe is inside. It’s like hiding the resistance or fear within, being afraid to show it to Jesus. Have you experienced that? 

I think that’s true. When I’m in the middle of an ego attack, (having no memory whatsoever of the fear of losing this individual identity that caused me to run away from Jesus/Holy Spirit/right mind), I’m so identified with the emotion I’m experiencing that I’m not immediately aware its cause lies elsewhere. I’m indulging it, but I don’t know it, and I don’t know how to stop doing it.

Sometimes that manifests for me as self-sabotaging behavior—spacing out, over-indulging, wanting to become mindless, unconsciously creating a problem, or provoking an argument with someone, for example. Sometimes it presents as a completely random-seeming, unprovoked attack by someone in my dream. It’s as if I can only spend so many hours a day practicing forgiveness with Jesus before I’ve had enough and need to tune out in some way. The more guilty the method makes me feel; the better. 🙂 It’s good to remind ourselves it’s the guilt we really secretly crave, that’s what keeps the idea of me going, after all.

As soon as I become aware of how I’m beating myself up again, I try to remember that loving presence of our inner Teacher, still right beside me, hand ever-extended, whether I feel it right now, or not. He never judges us. He will never side with our self-judgment.  He never takes our seeming defections personally. He knows we’re afraid, he knows we all made it home, and he has infinite patience. He will wait with us in our fantasy hell until the fear subsides and we’re ready to take another step toward the innocent, all-inclusive Love we are gradually remembering is all we could possibly ever want.

Also, it would be nice if you touched on the twisted resistance strain (if I can say so) about having a “quality time with Jesus,” but at the same time running from your curriculum. I can relate to you, because I was running emotionally from the world almost all my life (found it not to be safe), and find it “safe” to be in ACIM metaphysics or spirituality, where I don’t really practice it, but just run from my life. Taken to the extreme, one can even take ACIM words like “there is no world” and take them to mean that if there is no world, there’s no need for me to deal with the world, which is very unlikely that the Course teaches. 

I have experienced the kind of flight from our inner Jesus you describe in many ways, but will just give you one example. I am a co-founder and one of the original students of something here in Denver called the School of Reason, then targeted toward immersing students like me considering formally teaching A Course in Miracles through selected Course material and Ken Wapnick’s work. It involved a lot of study and presentation, and I would often sequester myself in my home office on weekends, growing annoyed when frequently interrupted by my daughter and husband, and having to practice forgiveness.

At some point, it thankfully dawned on me that here I was barricading myself up in seclusion to learn forgiveness when the real curriculum was those very interruptions–my relationship with my daughter and husband–and really had to laugh. It changed everything. I continued to study, but I also built in more time to spend with my family, and changed my focus once more to our real work: changing the purpose of our relationships to healing our one split mind.

As you point out, as Course students we can unconsciously delay our awakening process by taking the Course’s teaching that there is no world (a reality we can only embrace at the very end of our journey, when all the hidden guilt in our mind is undone through forgiveness) to mean we don’t need to engage in the world. We don’t need to relate to others, contribute, vote, work, take care of our bodies, etc.  But that would be counter to the Course’s teachings and unkind to ourselves and others who still believe we are bodies. It would also deny our inner Teacher his/our learning tools.

A Course in Miracles meets us in the seemingly embodied condition we think we’re in. It asks us to use all our relationships, all our interactions in the world, as a curriculum in which we learn from a new inner Teacher (Jesus/Holy Spirit/right mind) that we are not many bodies vying for survival in this hell of a dream world, but one dreaming mind that can learn to awaken by making practicing true forgiveness our new purpose as we go about doing whatever “normal” things we need to in the world. This will undo the hidden guilt in our mind over believing we separated from our source, and gently lead us to awaken to the “oneness joined as one” of our true, abstract nature, at home in God.

 

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/.

Here’s a recent 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!

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 is ever turned away for lack of ability to pay.) 

I’ve made some exciting new changes to my Tuesday-night forgiveness class, designed to deepen our study and practice and accelerate our learning in 2014! (PLEASE SEE THIS SITE’S CLASSES/EVENTS PAGE FOR DETAILS.) We’ve begun the year by embracing 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 opening to the text, chronologically, from the heart, 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.

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 Want is also 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. I laughed aloud when I saw your choice of image – a brick wall – for our resistance, since – in theory at least – even the most dense physical matter (including bricks) are mostly empty space; yet we have built up such tremendous resistance to the idea of not having opposition in Truth (as Truth HAS no opposites) that we will go to enormous lengths (and any other dimensions we can muster) to maintain the walls of separation, even if they exist only in our mind… How appropriate that we merely need to convert – brick by brick – each experience to one of true forgiveness of the egregious infractions of cosmic law – that we never committed… Each brick becomes part of our classroom of kindness – seen aright – instead of a prison of projection and vile victimhood. Thanks again for your spot-on musings, Susan. 🙂

  2. Gabrielius says:

    Nicely told, Bruce. If seen aright, becomes a nice classroom of recognition of the mistake, which was just the mistake and that we don’t want to do it anymore. And it is really simple, you just look, but the resistance to that is enormous. So what one should do with the resisting part, which is afraid to be looked at? And when everything falls apart (or never was in order in the first place)? Ah, questions…

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