Talking with Jeffrey Seibert, Summer 2017

Jeffrey Seibert (along with colleague and fellow teacher Rosemarie LoSasso) worked closely with Kenneth and Gloria Wapnick at the Foundation for A Course in Miracles www.facim.org for decades. Jeff and Rosemarie continue to present Ken’s mind-healing message of forgiveness through the lens of their own forgiveness classrooms in their Foundation classes (live and streamed) http://www.facim.org/temecula-schedule.aspx, truly teaching, to paraphrase the Course; that he did not die by demonstrating that he lives in them, and every one of us. Jeff has also worked in various office roles since joining the Foundation for A Course in Miracles staff in November 1992. In addition to teaching, he currently oversees the Foundation’s order department and performs a variety of other duties. You can read more about Jeff’s journey with A Course in Miracles here: https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/a-conversation-with-jeffrey-seibert-foundation-for-a-course-in-miracles.

 

The seminar you and Rosemarie presented recently revisiting the topic you also covered last year called “Life as a Body: A Chronic Illness”—focused on the sickness of identifying ourselves as individual physical, emotional, psychological bodies–really affected me on a profound level. A couple things came up for me afterwards initially related to the special love-hate relationship I have with fiction writing and the publishing world. I had pretty much stopped writing fiction some time ago essentially because I couldn’t handle the rejection, but recently felt compelled to start writing stories again.

 

I sent one out to a couple of literary magazines and received a rejection. I felt that all-too-familiar self-hatred and sense of unworthiness arising but also that I didn’t want to go through this again. I didn’t want to use this to hurt myself anymore, and was somehow able to just kind of stop and realize it had nothing to do with what I really am. I felt so grateful for this inner assurance that that’s not where my self-worth lies, and the awareness that I didn’t have to keep identifying myself with this “writer” persona dependent on external approval; that was just silly.

 

Subsequently I experienced gratitude related to other special relationships and was able to see how I didn’t have to keep using them to hurt myself (or them) either. Anyway, I had a very right-minded couple of days. But then I got out of the shower Sunday morning and my back went out and I found myself in excruciating pain. I’ve been to the chiropractor multiple times since then but the pain continues.

 

It wasn’t surprising that something like this would follow a period of right-mindedness; I’ve experienced that kind of ego backlash many times. But what I noticed was how quickly I wanted to fix it and treat it and how everything just spiraled downward. All of a sudden the special relationships seemed to have become nut cases again and there were all these impossible problems in my life.

 

I guess I’d just like to hear your thoughts on how to handle these kinds of things because I often feel really out of touch with my inner teacher when painful or frightening physical problems occur. How do I deal with it from the Course’s perspective while still taking care of the body but also not overreacting, because I sensed I was overreacting. I could have allowed myself to just be with the pain with Jesus beside me a little more instead of immediately scrambling to get rid of it, which didn’t really work anyway.

 

One of the challenges when we experience ego backlash is to move beyond the judgment that somehow we are failing. That of course is the ego’s judgment. Until we get to the top rung of the ladder, we will continue to identify with the thought of separation and the guilt that follows, along with its projection onto others and/or our own body, especially after these right-minded moments of forgiveness and peace. And that is not failure but simply our classroom, as we climb back up the ladder. If we can recognize and accept that it’s not failure but just more unconscious guilt coming to the surface that I can now make a different choice about, the process can become much gentler.

 

It can seem especially hard after experiences of genuine peace, as you described; when the contrast can seem so stark. Yet it would help to recognize that so long as I still think I’m here as Jeff (or Susan), there will inevitably be such episodes, because I must still be identified with the guilt or I would not need to see myself as Jeff (or Susan). If I can recognize that, I will not be surprised or disappointed or angry when the shift back into the ego happens.  It is of course a choice, but it most likely will have become unconscious before I’ve allowed myself to be fully aware of it, so that it seems as if it’s happening to me as back pain. But I don’t have to experience myself choosing the ego to make a different choice. I just need to acknowledge that I already have chosen it, which is what Jesus is trying to help us see, so we can make a different choice.

 

So even though it seems the pain is happening to Susan in her back, it can at some point be helpful at least to acknowledge that perhaps I’m wrong about the real locus of the pain. Its point of origin is the guilt in my mind and not a back spasm in my body. Pain experienced in the body is magic that hides the real locus and source of the pain in the mind. I’ve already chosen magic, and there’s nothing wrong with using further magic with the chiropractor or whatever. But just thinking I’m a body is magic! So we’re obviously engaging in magic nearly all the time. And there’s no hierarchy of magic. The goal is not to stop the magic, but to recognize that it’s magic.

 

The fact that you were recognizing what you were doing is a very important part of the process. So often when pain is there we don’t even think that there might be another reason. But it sounds like you were very much of a split mind about it. You did know what was going on. You had a sense from what you’re saying that it was a defense against the truth and yet in that moment you weren’t ready to join with Jesus to ask for help.

 

You know always when we’re identified with the guilt—and this is one of the things we were trying to get across in that seminar—we do believe that we deserve to be punished. So any decision that I’m then making from that perspective is going to be something that on some level leads to pain. The problem is that people feel guilty when they do realize that they’re doing it to themselves.

 

For me personally, to the extent that I can remember Jesus in that moment and just realize I’m not alone—because pain can feel very isolating—that can be helpful. You don’t even at that point need to go through any of the steps to walk back the decision, just to realize that you’re not alone. That’s at least opening a door to let the love in. We need our older brother who looks past all the obstacles we place in the way to the truth about ourselves. He’ll take care of our ego and its effects; that’s not something we can do by ourselves.

 

That’s very helpful. This time I guess I was just really angry because I felt like I was in such a good space and I was unaware of my need to punish myself for experiencing joy or peace. But it seems like some kind of punishment always follows. I guess I get angry at the process, which sort of leads into the next question. A student in that same class asked a question that has come up before about the decision maker.

 

She was talking about trying to sort of control or influence the decision maker, essentially how to get in touch with the decision maker so you can have the decision maker do what you want. I hadn’t really thought of it that way before but I really related to it because I think that’s what’s so frustrating. We know the decision maker is outside the body and the dream but all we really relate to is the body and its brain. Yet it seems like the decision maker is constantly throwing all these curve balls into our scripts and then leaving us on our own to deal with them.

 

[Mutual laughter.]

 

Yeah, I remember that question very well from the class. There is this sense that there’s me and the decision maker as two separate entities; that is the great deception. Rosemarie often says and I think she said at that point, too, that we are a decision-making mind that has decided not to remember we are a decision-making mind. So we make all of that unconscious and the part that’s unconscious feels like it’s somehow separate and apart from us. We’re conscious of just this little bit of our experience and sickness is a decision [workbook lesson 136] that we so quickly cover over. It’s not like it’s a linear process, either, that’s made inside time and space, but we experience it here as if it were linear and we get angry because it feels like there’s someone or something else that’s controlling what’s happening.

 

Jesus says (manual for teachers, section 22, paragraph 4) it’s hard to believe sickness is a decision because we don’t understand why we would choose to be sick. Our conscious experience is that it makes absolutely no sense. That’s part of what’s so challenging. We’re not in touch with the specific decision. The process then really is to be aware that Jesus says that what I’m experiencing is telling me I did make a choice. The ego wants us so much to believe that we’re victims of what’s going on in the body or we’re victims of the choice that’s being made in the mind, as if it’s being made by some power separate from us.

 

I think what’s complicated, too, is that ultimately there’s only one decision-making mind that we are all part of. We believe we’re separate fragments of consciousness within this decision-making mind but that’s part of the illusion, too. So in a sense a lot of stuff has been set in motion already on a collective level and then it seems to have fragmented and split out and there seems to be a brother who’s separate from me or a virus or cancer separate from me and yet it’s all really part of this one whole mind. I’m only feeling like a victim of it because I’m not conscious of the whole decision-making mind identifying with the ego and all the choices.

 

Really, Susan, everything that could possibly happen already happened in that first instant, all of the decisions were already made about all that could be experienced. We’re just now dipping into that and pulling something out from what Ken calls the “grab bag of guilt.” But even that dipping in to grab and pulling something out was decided as a possibility at the beginning; we’re just rarely aware of it. At best, as you say, you’re aware after you have some experiences of peace that there’s going to be a backlash and at that point, just be aware of how much you feel victimized and willing to question that idea. Because we’re scared, you know?

 

And it must go really deep.

 

It really does and the terror is really intense.

 

It amazes me how much suffering we’re willing to trade to sort of atone for choosing the right mind.

 

Yeah, we are insane. And it may be helpful to realize the ego’s retaliation is nothing more than vacillation we regularly engage in between wrong-minded and right-minded thinking that’s inevitable until we get near the top of the ladder. We say that the ego doesn’t want us hanging out in the reflection of oneness for long. But it’s really that we can’t stay in the right mind for too long before we need to bolster up our individual identity, which leads to guilt and pain, which must be projected so the source of any pain seems to be coming from outside ourselves and affecting our body. The projection then is interpreted, often unconsciously, with the ego as our guide as some kind of punishment, until we once again turn to Jesus for his interpretation of the same event and what’s behind it.

 

And yet there it is. You know what the Course is saying about why you chose it and you kind of just have to ride it, I guess.

 

Yeah. There’s anger and like you said, it’s hard then to be in touch with your inner teacher when you’re feeling all that. But to whatever extent you can just open the door a little that’s really going to be the way out. Realizing in the midst of it when we’re feeling so isolated and alone that I can at least let in that thought that I’m not alone in all this.

 

It is so isolating and I think that’s what’s so frustrating, too, because you had an experience finally of real connection which was reflected in seeing situations and people guiltless and then all of a sudden it feels like you’re surrounded again by vipers. I think it’s when I most need my inner teacher that I’m most angry with him, too.

 

Of course. And Jesus knows that too. And so he waits patiently for us until we are ready again to turn to him, which he also knows we will eventually do. There’s never any judgment on his part, only on our own.

 

I was out there for the class you and Rosemarie taught last fall about resigning as your own teacher and letting go of your need for control. You asked students to think about what it really means to resign as your own teacher. What that brought up for me was immediate panic, a deeper awareness that I really didn’t want to do it. And again that sort of push-pull with Jesus; feeling that if Jesus can’t help me here with all these increasingly challenging problems then I don’t have time for him because I have to devote all my energy to protecting myself.

 

Yet at the same time the Course tells us to never do anything alone and to invite our teacher in and bring our problems to him but there’s that sense of feeling hypocritical. I know I shouldn’t be asking him for help with form and yet I really want him to help me with the form and so I kind of don’t ask at all because it feels disingenuous. Anyway I felt that isolation again, that I’m in battle here by myself. If he can’t help then I have to stay in control all the time and I don’t always remember how to reconcile that.

 

Yeah, it seems like there’s no way out but one of the things I heard you say was that I shouldn’t be asking him for help with form but part of what I think you’re saying is that you realize that he really doesn’t do anything with form.

 

Right, because there’s nothing happening here.

 

Yeah. But I think there is another way of looking at this. I read a couple of statements Jesus makes early in the text during that program which I personally have really taken to heart since to remind me when I’m getting caught in form. One comes in Chapter 2 (text chapter 2, section VII. paragraph 7, sentence 9), where he’s talking about how readiness is only the beginning of confidence. He says “You may think this implies that an enormous amount of time is necessary between readiness and mastery, but let me remind you that time and space are under my control.”

 

You can interpret the statement that time and space are under my control to mean that he’ll take care of things in time and space for me, but, of course, that’s not really what he means.

 

Right, like he’s the Wizard of Oz or something.

 

Right. But he says later on in the first section of Chapter 4: “I can be entrusted with your body and your ego only because this enables you not to be concerned with them and lets me teach you their unimportance.” (Text chapter 4, section I. paragraph 13, sentence 4)  So putting those two together (since the body is part of time and space) it’s like Jesus is telling us “Time and space are under my control so that I can teach you they’re unimportant.” What I’ve been aware of for myself is when I start to find myself really getting caught in something and feeling like I’ve got to figure everything out, I just have that thought that, “oh, Jesus, time and space are under your control” and the additional thought that “you realize they’re unimportant. I think they’re very important.”

 

What’s really helpful about that is not that Jesus intervenes. But when I’m trying to fix things and I think there’s something serious going on here, I’m identified with my ego which means I’m identified with guilt. Underneath all that is the belief that I deserve to be punished so of course whatever seems to be happening will be fraught with all kinds of contradictions and complications. To the extent that I can just step back in that moment and remind myself that the body is part of time and space, the world is part of time and space, and I don’t need to be in control of it; you’re in control, I’m really stepping back from my ego. That means that I’m not going to be identified with a thought that says I deserve to be punished. So something else can come through me then. And that’s the kind of help that I really seek. It may not be what I think needs to happen in the situation but it opens the door to being a little more peaceful about what seems to be going on.

 

That’s very helpful.

 

So I don’t deny what I’m going through at the moment or what I feel is challenging but it’s just this thought that I don’t need to figure this out. Just a minor example is sometimes with my friend when we’re trying to get to an appointment and he’s moving slowly and I’m aware of the time; I’m anxious and want to push him and make him aware of the time. Suddenly that thought will come: “Time and space are not under my control.” And I can step back and say wait a minute, what’s so important here? Jesus is telling me if I let him be in charge I won’t be caught up in this the same way. And that can work as well with what seems to be more challenging situations such as a problem with my car, a financial concern, or a health issue.

 

So in that moment, whatever it is, I can just be peaceful about it and recognize that, hey, whatever happens is going to be OK.  And sometimes the format just flows really well in the way I wanted it to and sometimes it doesn’t, and I can get caught again but then I just have to remember again. It’s a process. But I have found for myself personally that no matter what I’ve been thinking Jesus is there with me and I can let him take charge because he realizes that it’s not important no matter what I’ve been thinking. Then I don’t have to punish myself.

 

In a way what you’re saying, what the Course is saying, is that he can take the problem away in the sense that he knows there’s not a problem; there’s no weight to it, really. It’s me that perceives the weight of it but it doesn’t really have that weight to punish what I really am.

 

Exactly. It’s my perception of the situation that is the problem and not the situation itself. And it’s with my perception that Jesus is going to help me. And of course we know getting into the metaphysics of the Course why we think we’re upset isn’t really why we’re upset. So that’s why it can work because what we’re really doing is dis-identifying with the ego and the guilt. But it allows me to be where I am with what I’m dealing with and then recognize that maybe I’m making it into a bigger deal than it really is. You know Ken always says it’s not a big deal; it’s the ego that always wants to make it a big deal.

 

And does a really good job of it!

 

[Mutual laughter.]

 

Yeah, and that’s why we have to be vigilant about it all the time, but probably won’t be all the time, but only when we realize we’re caught again.

 

Yup. I actually thought the forgiveness opportunities were limited to things I actually remembered until I got further along and all these buried grievances, these memories I guess I had repressed, came rising up.

 

That’s all the stuff that’s unconscious, all the different symbols representing the guilt. So it really is wonderful when they come up because now I can make a different choice about them when before, I wasn’t even aware they were holding my guilt, they were so buried.

 

I have at times actually been grateful for that, eventually anyway. And thank you, Jeff, for that great quote and reminder that we don’t have to solve things alone.

 

The seminar you did on spending the day with Jesus was another great one and there was an audience comment from somebody who was not raised Christian and had a problem with the symbol of Jesus in the Course. And you said that the difference between the Holy Spirit and Jesus as a symbol is not really important but that—as Ken emphasized—if you have a particular resistance to the symbol you’re going to have to at some point look at that and work with that as you would any other special relationship.

 

I recognize that I have the same kind of block around the term “Holy Spirit.” It used to be referred to as the “Holy Ghost” when I was a child growing up Catholic and all of the references really scared me. No matter what you called it, it didn’t have trustworthy connotations for me. When I came to the Course it seemed like the Holy Spirit was used even more than Jesus by Course students to represent a kind of fairy godmother or personal valet. Or as something really lofty, as though the Holy Spirit was going to swoop down and intervene in some celestial way to help the spiritually advanced out personally or allow them to help others. I just found it very off-putting.

 

But I think it’s the same thing as having trouble with the symbol of Jesus. And besides, if I’m getting annoyed by the way other Course students experience the Holy Spirit, that’s clearly my split mind in need of healing; I’m using it to reinforce my choice for the ego and make differences real and it’s painful.

 

Well, that kind of awareness is very helpful and kind of played in nicely to your original ambivalence about the symbol anyway. But yes, it doesn’t mean that you should try to use the Holy Spirit as the symbol you work with, just to become aware of how you could be projecting your guilt on to that symbol and that He could be your Friend, too.

 

I don’t know about that.

 

[Mutual laughter.]

 

Well, I think there’s still a lot of Catholic baggage in my grab bag around it that will come up as needed to be undone.

 

Yeah. You know, as I mentioned in the spending-your-day-with-Jesus seminar and why I do find Jesus a helpful symbol personally and I use it more than the Holy Spirit is that the Holy Spirit is really just there in the right mind representing the memory of our oneness. He’s an abstract symbol. Jesus we identify with as an individual that seemed to have walked this earth and he is part of the Son and one of our brothers; whereas the Holy Spirit is neither. Jesus presents himself as having had to make a choice and so he’s inviting us to make the same choice that he made. For me personally that feels more relatable whereas the Holy Spirit is just there as an abstract presence that’s not choosing anything.

 

Well, exactly, I think he’s more relatable. Growing up I didn’t have a good sense of Jesus at all but the Jesus of the Course is so kind and accessible and so healing; kind of an antidote to that figure many of us grew up with that seemed so guilt-inducing. And then I just find the Jesus of the Course sort of endlessly entertaining, which helps a lot!

 

[Mutual laughter.]

 

Yes, the Jesus of the Course versus the Jesus of the cross.

 

Exactly. Whereas there was nothing entertaining about the Jesus of the cross.

 

No, not at all. One of the things I always remember thinking was that he had no sense of humor.

 

And Ken said that the biblical Jesus never laughed whereas the Jesus of the Course seems so light-hearted. I’m probably projecting a lot of that but it’s a healing kind of humor.

 

So to the extent that you can develop that awareness it can be helpful when you’re in pain to remember that personal presence. We know at the very end of the process we’re not only all the same; we’re one. We’re not there yet so I think that if we have wanted or needed Ken to be in our lives, it’s not really any different from saying I want to have a relationship with Jesus. I can say I don’t really need Ken; he’s just a part of my mind. That’s true but that’s not how I related to him or experienced him. It has been very helpful to have him as someone specific to relate to while I think I’m someone separate. So I think people sometimes want to jump to saying well, Jesus is just a part of my mind, yet had a different sense of Ken as someone outside who can help me. But even when Ken seemed to be offering help with specifics, he was always subtly redirecting us to the content, and the choice we could make. So I think we have to cut ourselves a little slack. We’re too hard on ourselves. There is help there and we sometimes don’t realize how we can access it.

 

Well I know sometimes I start to ask Jesus for help and get stuck even on the semantics of what I’m asking. I’ll think, no, I shouldn’t say it that way because that’s not what the Course means and then suddenly I’m right back in conflict again having dropped Jesus’ hand and grabbed the ego’s.

 

Yeah, and you’re right. That’s just the ego trying to stop you from getting the help you really want or are ambivalent about. And even if the best you can do is to tell Jesus that you only want help with the specifics, even though you know he’s offering so much more, you’re at least recognizing that you are not alone and he is there at whatever level you are ready to accept him. The ego would rather have you believe Jesus is unavailable and worthless when it comes to dealing with our perceived problems. That’s not how Jesus wants us to see him. He’s willing to meet us where we are, so that he can lead us farther along the path. That’s what Ken has always done.

 

Thank you, Jeff. As you say, making us feel guilty about turning to Jesus for help is a very subtle way in which the ego joins the journey, and one I often forget. It also leads well into another question about how Ken used to ask for specific guidance from Jesus early on when he first came to the Course, when he was with Helen and Bill, because that’s what they were doing. But during most of his career and especially in later years he was telling his students to really kind of stop with the “baby business,” as his grandson used to say when he was in preschool. By that he meant that we needed to try and grow up with the Course.

 

But I also remember in a lot of the classes he taught toward the end of his life how Ken emphasized that the ego-free presence we felt in him as an outside expression of our inner teacher wasn’t in him but within us all. I also remember him telling us that we’d been practicing this Course a long time and we know what it’s saying and how Jesus sees things, so why are we still refusing to do what he asks?

 

I guess I’d just like your thoughts on that. We still need Jesus and I don’t think Ken was saying that we don’t call on him. But what do you think Ken meant by growing up to become like Jesus? I think the danger is that we become dependent on our teacher and never really integrate it when we insist on seeing that ego-free presence in Ken or some outside figure and sort of deny its accessibility within our own mind, as though it’s something unattainable.

 

Yes, and that’s where the symbol of Jesus can be helpful and we can think of him as a personal presence but it’s clear that he is within the mind that we share. Ken talked a number of times about “enough with the baby business,” but he also at times said but “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” I think he was saying look at how we’re using Jesus. If we’re trying to use him primarily only to comfort us and take care of our needs then we’re continuing to infantilize ourselves in relationship to him. But if we start to see him as an older brother who we’re growing up to be like, who is there simply to remind us of what we want to become, that’s helpful.

 

We don’t need to or want to do away with the symbol, we don’t have to stop using Jesus, but we can relate to him in a different way. That’s what I was suggesting earlier in terms of that quote where he says “Time and space are under my control.” I could use that to simply say, you fix it for me, Jesus, and that would be the infantilizing. But if I’m remembering with him that that he knows time and space are unimportant and that’s what I’m trying to learn from him then that’s just a reminder of what’s there in my mind, the choice that I have. I’ve gotten caught in making the specifics of what seems to be happening a big deal and being concerned about outcomes at this level and that’s not where the real joy and peace are.

 

It is helpful, though, while I still believe I’m separate; to have this presence that’s reminding me of what’s true. That’s what Ken meant by saying don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Don’t try to do this on your own. When we say Jesus is just a symbol in my mind and this is something that I can do without having to turn to him all the time, without leaning on him, which keeps us separate, that may just be the ego jumping in so that I don’t let go of control.

Again, a way the ego uses to kind of sneak in the back door and seize control. And it’s also a way we, as students unconsciously try to skip over the process.

 

Yeah, exactly. If we still lean on Ken in any way, I think we still need to lean on Jesus, but we can mature in that relationship. It’s just at the very end, at the very top of the ladder, that we realize not only are we the same but we’re really one and there’s no Jesus and there’s no Jeff and there’s no Susan.

 

Thank you, Jeff. That helps me see I’ve been taking the journey too seriously again and need to remember how light-hearted Ken and Jesus really always, unconditionally, are. And speaking of learning from Ken, he used the metaphor of an orchestra to describe the Foundation and also in his interactions with you and all the staff members. In his teaching he often used the Foundation as an example of what it means to put purpose—in this case learning the Course’s forgiveness and accepting the atonement for myself–at the forefront of its work. He likened it to an orchestra and said it was more than the sum of its parts. It was not about a group of soloists but about everyone’s equal contribution in content to making beautiful music. What was that like for you personally trying to learn to live that?

 

One of the important ideas for me of that metaphor of the orchestra with Ken and Gloria as the conductors, really–because Ken and Gloria worked closely and decided things together—was trusting that they had a vision for the Foundation and a sense of how the various parts fit together in the whole to bring about that music of forgiveness. It really meant trusting the decisions they were making. If you disagreed with something, they were open to your coming to them to talk about it but for the most part they were conducting and we just needed to make sure we were doing whatever our part was.

 

The important thing was trusting that Ken held the baton and he was conducting us in a way that really was going to be the most helpful for all of us. I didn’t really need to be concerned about anyone else’s part. It was not my role to judge how anyone else was doing their part; I just needed to be focused on mine. As the conductor, Ken was responsible for discussing any issues with any of the players in the orchestra with them.

 

It was interesting whenever there were issues between any of the players in the orchestra, Ken would always deal with each one of us, one at a time, because it was an internal process, not something to be worked out between two players. It was always an issue within me. If I was making what was going on with one of the other players a problem, that wasn’t really the problem.

 

That must have really taken a lot of pressure off.

 

It does, if you can trust. I think I mentioned in the first interview we did that I had to trust when Ken and Gloria approached me about teaching near the beginning of my whole process of being there. I thought it would be a number of years down the road before I would be ready to do any teaching and certainly the initial thought was I’m not ready to do this. But they were asking me and if they thought it was something they wanted me to do; I just needed to trust that it would be helpful. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have the fear and resistance to doing it.

 

As Rosemarie has emphasized, none of the parts is more important than any of the others. To make the music all of the parts are important. As you were saying the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. All the parts are necessary, but not really in terms of form. Our Foundation staff has gotten smaller over the years. We have fewer players than were at the Foundation previously, but the music has remained the same. But Ken also talked about the Foundation as being outside of time and space.

 

I know, and it feels like that. I hadn’t even found the Course while you were still at Roscoe but even visiting the Foundation in Temecula provides a sense of being outside time and space.

 

And you don’t have to physically be here to have that experience.

 

No, it feels like that even when you’re watching classes streamed or as recordings.

 

As egos we develop our special relationships with forms and we think that we need the forms to get to the experiences but what Ken and Gloria have always been emphasizing is that these are the forms but it’s the content that you want. So it was trusting that they know that and no matter what seems to be going on in form the focus needs to be on the content that is really that one note of Heaven’s song that’s reflected here as the music of forgiveness. We have our particular responsibilities and tasks that we need to do as best we can but we can do them for the wrong reasons and that was always what Ken wanted us to be aware of. What purpose are we giving our roles?

 

And there are only two purposes: to reinforce the ego thought system of differences and separation or learn to see our shared purpose of awakening through true forgiveness. That’s similar maybe to what you were saying earlier about remembering to trust when you’re going through something difficult that Jesus is outside of time and space, so he can take care of it.

 

Yes, he reminds us that “Time and space are under my control.”

 

So working at the Foundation was a way of applying that trust on an individual and a group level?

 

Yes, trust is the key here. I will not let go of my attempts to control time and space without that trust. Because the Foundation is outside time and space, the fact that Ken’s body is no longer seen doesn’t change anything. As players in the orchestra we still need to trust, not in the specifics but in the forgiveness process in the mind that Ken and Jesus represent for us.

 

Right. It still reflects that “Community of Love” he talked about in that wonderful academy class he did [https://bookstore.facim.org/p-342-the-community-of-love.aspx] which doesn’t involve bodies or groups of bodies anyway; it’s in the mind.

 

And the conducting continues. I still trust that whatever decisions are being made for the Foundation, we are still heading in the direction we need to be heading.

 

That’s wonderful, but certainly not the way the world’s organizations normally operate.

 

No, but this one is not of this world—“in it but not of it,” as Ken often said, quoting from John’s gospel.

 

Right. You recently referred to an experience you had when you first went to Roscoe while listening to Ken speak about the Obstacles to Peace section in the Course text. You suddenly realized that you (Jeff) were an obstacle to your experience of peace. I had a similar experience one of the first times I attended a class in Temecula while Ken was talking about the “hungry dogs of fear” metaphor in the Obstacles to Peace section. I suddenly realized that I was the “hungry dogs of fear.”  I guess I was just curious about what that realization was like for you.

 

Well, actually it was sort of an odd, funny realization at the time that I didn’t think too much more about at the time. It’s interesting that you bring this up though because it’s come up for me on another level recently in the Thursday classes [held at the Foundation]. Rosemarie had been teaching from workbook lesson 185: “I want the peace of God,” that first paragraph about how Heaven would be given back to full awareness if we fully recognized that this was all we really wanted [workbook lesson 185, paragraph 1, sentence 4]. And I got to wondering, what is the primary obstacle to keeping Heaven from being given back to my full awareness and it hit me that thinking I’m Jeff, wanting to think I’m Jeff, is really the obstacle.

 

Jeff is a self I made to protect the separation and to defend against the guilt in my mind over that decision. In a sense this realization allows me then to reinforce the distinction between myself as the dreamer or decision maker and the figure in the dream that is called Jeff.  And when I do anything from the perspective of Jeff, I’m going to be wrong because that self is based on a completely false premise about who I am.

 

And it’s going to be painful at some point, right?

 

Yes. When I make decisions simply from that perspective, everything that follows is going to be painful. But it’s not really because of what’s happening at this level, it’s because it means that I still need to use Jeff to defend against the guilt in the mind which is the source of all pain. And Jeff isn’t just the body but the personality, the identification, the intellect that I identify as Jeff.

 

That’s been helpful to step back and see that when I get myself in trouble, that’s the perspective I’m operating from. From the perspective of Jeff, I’m concerned about personal needs–what does Jeff need in this situation? And so it’s not a matter of denying that I believe I’m Jeff but just realizing that every time I’m drawing conclusions based on that perspective I’m mistaken. And so the solution is remembering that Jesus is telling me that he’s in control of time and space.

 

So really then when I shift out of my perspective it’s like being willing to accept his perspective that these things are not important. And of course my ego doesn’t like that. To the extent that I’m willing to try to step out of the pain that comes with trying to continue to embrace that perspective, there is peace. It can come in just an instant. It’s a simple shift of just recognizing he is in charge of time and space and I don’t need to be. It does involve recognizing the unimportance of Jeff.

 

That awareness kind of comes in through the back door, though. You’re not directly confronting the unimportance of Jeff.

 

Right, that’s what it’s leading to. I don’t have to embrace that yet but I know that as long as that is important to me there will be pain in the mind that will have to be projected. So the choice becomes a little clearer. It’s not simply that I’m identified with Jeff but it’s the purpose behind that identification which is always to try to do something to get rid of the guilt in the mind. We use these selves to try to somehow get away from the burden of guilt but not to undo it, to hold someone or something outside ourselves responsible for our experience of lack and unhappiness and pain. So of course there are all the personal needs that come from the belief that there is something that I’m lacking and all my relationships must be tinged with that sense of lack and belief in need. And it’s not happy-making.

 

No it’s not. I had that thought today that just coming into this world means we’ve already associated with guilt. Just finding ourselves here as babies is a horrifying experience and there must be that moment of absolute terror again, every time we come into this world, that it really happened; the whole guilty story of separation.

 

Yes, it does seem real.

 

Yeah; and boy do I have my work cut out for me to try to make a go of it here.

 

It’s real, I’m here, and Jesus, you don’t understand.

 

It’s not pretty when we believe it, which we do. But at least we can remember we’re wrong about what we think we are and what we think we need and, as you say, Jesus’ perspective sort of dawns on us when we just open the door a little to it.

 

I’ve kept you quite a while, Jeff, but I did want to ask one last question and I know this has been asked many times but somebody recently asked it again in one of your classes. That whole idea of will I have to start all over again with the Course in my next life if my split mind is not healed before I die? Is the process cumulative over lifetimes, can I take my progress with me; which, of course, assumes that it’s a linear process although it’s really not. But you gave a really great explanation although you’d been talking a lot that day about the metaphysics and I think I was already in a state of maximum saturation and didn’t really retain what you said.

 

I don’t remember just what I said at that time but probably something along the lines of what Ken has always been saying that we just ask that question from the perspective of the body as if that’s what and where we really are but it’s all happening in the mind. It’s really simple. Each lifetime is nothing more than another opportunity for the mind that thinks it’s fragmented to learn that guilt is not real and to move closer to remembering its oneness. The learning is happening in the mind; the body in any lifetime is just a symbol the mind uses to learn its lessons and the specifics of what is learned in any lifetime, including the Course itself, are not really important. And the one decision-making mind never goes anywhere; it just makes choices of different scripts and different classrooms, although we experience ourselves as having individual minds.

 

Right. Even in talking about the Course, we talk about the fragmented decision-making mind—my decision maker—as something sort of intact within itself.

 

Just for the sake of convenience to be able to talk in terms of how we experience things, it’s helpful to do that. We each seem to have our own individual decision maker that doesn’t depend on the decisions that others are making so that’s very helpful. I can choose my right mind regardless of your choice, so I can’t be a victim of your choice for the wrong mind. But on the other hand in the Manual in the Clarification of Terms when he’s talking about consciousness, Jesus says he’s not interested in studying the structure of individual consciousness because it’s the same as the original error. (Clarification of terms, introduction, paragraph 1, sentences 4-6) So it’s a helpful heuristic tool but in the end we’re coming back to one mind where everything is all shared and this idea that I have to be concerned about whether I’m going to remember things or not is just the ego trying to reinforce the sense that we really are separate.

 

And also trying to reinforce that it’s happening in time and space, but it’s not happening in time in space. So it’s challenging.

 

Very. I know one of the things that I said in the class while talking about realizing that thinking I’m Jeff is the major obstacle to peace is that that realization is disorienting. I still identify myself as Jeff so it’s disorienting when I have to consider the possibility that what I seek to be learning as Jeff in this lifetime is not really what is happening.

 

Yeah. I’m sort of getting a headache just talking about it now.

 

[Mutual laughter.]

 

So we have to just do the best with what and where we think we are but that’s why we do so much need the help from a presence that isn’t caught in time and space and can remind us of its unimportance. And to your earlier point, I will no longer need Jesus as a symbol of help when I no longer need Jeff as a symbol for who I am to hide from guilt, but until then I need Jesus to remind me of all I’ve forgotten.

 

And to remind us that we’re safe, even after death, even after whatever happens to the body, whether our split mind is healed in this lifetime or not.

 

And moreover, nothing can be lost.

 

Well, that’s a nice upbeat place to end the interview. We’re safe and nothing can be lost no matter what. Thank you so much Jeff for taking the time to share your understanding of the Course and the process of going home with me and other students. I so appreciate your teaching and look forward to more classes [available live or streamed https://www.facim.org/temecula-schedule.aspx] and more interviews with you and Rosemarie soon. 

 

Foundation for A Course in Miracles Announcements

Latest Book

A Symphony of Love is an compilation of selected writings of Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, including autobiographies, poetry, short stories, and articles.

Programs through August 2017

Please view our latest Temecula Schedule page http://www.facim.org/temecula-schedule.aspx   to see the Seminars and Academy classes, including Live Streaming of the classes, currently scheduled through June 2017.
(You can register for upcoming live and streamed classes taught by the amazingly gifted Foundation for A Course in Miracles teaching staff; who continue to communicate Ken’s work with such clarity and grace, here: https://www.facim.org/temecula-schedule.aspx. I really can’t recommend these classes more highly! Rosemarie LoSasso and Jeff Seibert continue to gently encourage us to bring the darkness of all we’ve dreamt up to hurt us (whenever we’re choosing to feel victimized and justified in victimizing others) to the light of the part of every mind that knows only our shared innocence and need to find our way home. Their classes offer us a safe, non-judgmental “space” above the battleground in which to allow the healing of our frightened minds. (And often laugh a lot, too! 🙂 NEW INTERVIEWS with Rosemarie LoSasso and Jeff Seibert coming to my www.foraysinforgiveness.com site in 2017!)

New Audio Release

The Foundation is pleased to offer a previously unreleased audio title by Dr. Kenneth Wapnick. This five-CD set entitled “There is a Light in You the World Can Not Perceive,” which was recorded in 2010, is also available as an MP3 Download.

MP3-CDs To Be Discontinued

The Foundation is discontinuing production of audio titles in MP3 CD format. The seventh grouping of MP3 CD titles, which is available through June 4, 2017 only, can be viewed here. These titles are also available at a 40% discount. Please note that all orders containing MP3-CDS will be shipped the first week of June.

We are continuing to clear out the warehouse of all printed books as we make the transition to electronic books. After the current supply of books is sold, the books will not be reprinted, and will be available only in digital download format.

You may view all of the books currently on sale here. Please note that some orders may take up to two weeks to ship after the order is received.

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The Interviews page on my forays website been revised to make it easier to find and access interviews with Ken Wapnick and others including Gloria Wapnick, and FACIM staff teachers. These interviews provide a wealth of practical information about learning to live a truly forgiving life, as well as some history of the Foundation for A Course in Miracles.

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In this NEW VIDEO, my friend and fellow Course student Danielle Scruton and I discuss how to weather the ego’s “backlash.”  https://youtu.be/7cIV4kSUajU.

 

In this NEW VIDEO, my friend and fellow Course student Danielle Scruton and I discuss changing the purpose of romantic partnerships/marriage from specialness bargains to classrooms for learning to accept the atonement for ourselves https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n8pn760h0U&feature=em-upload_owner.

In this NEW VIDEO, my friend and fellow Course student Danielle Scruton and I discuss how recognizing our neediness in our relationships can help us learn to become needless and discover our only real purpose and need. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5BJ0YqqQKs&feature=youtu.be

In this NEW VIDEO, friend and fellow Course student and teacher Bruce Rawles and I discuss what it means to “accept the atonement for myself,” as talked about in A Course in Miracles Chapter 2 and workbook lesson 139. https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/videos/

In this RECENT VIDEO, Bruce Rawles and I talk about the challenges of trying to practice A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 330: “I will not hurt myself again today.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4RJosel0zA&feature=youtu.be

In this NEW AUDIO, CA Brooks, 12Radio, and I discuss A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 41: “God goes with me wherever I go,” and why this is a good thing! 🙂 http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=D6390D92-26B9-4187-865888BFB8D98D75

In this RECENT AUDIO, CA Brooks, 12Radio, and I talk about A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 186: “Salvation of the world depends on me.” (And thank God it’s not the “me” we think it is! :)) http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=DE52D9FE-26B9-4187-860F309BBB8F9B42

RECENT AUDIO, CA Brooks, 12Radio, and I discuss A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 190: “I choose the joy of God instead of pain.” http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=9F396171-26B9-4187-8664560FBC62D238

In this RECENT AUDIO recording of a show I did with CA Brooks, 12Radio, we review the practice of forgiveness through A Course in Miracles workbook lessons 5 and 34 http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=0C205831-26B9-4187-86FD0B745FCD31FE.

MY LATEST BOOK, FORGIVENESS: THE KEY TO HAPPINESS, http://www.amazon.com/Forgiveness-Happiness-Susan-A-Dugan/dp/0983742022, along with my second book in the forgiveness essay collection series, FORGIVENESS OFFERS EVERYTHING I WANT: http://www.amazon.com/Forgiveness-Offers-Everything-I-Want/dp/0983742014/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=07RKZW8SHE2RNC209A2D  are currently DISCOUNTED on Amazon.

Schedule individual MENTORING sessions with Susan Dugan here: https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/personal-coaching  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. 

Susan’s mentoring sessions provide valuable support in our forgiveness practice from a Course student and teacher deeply committed to awakening through learning and living true forgiveness. While keenly aware of our resistance to Jesus’ loving message from first-hand experience, she remains faithful to opening her heart to the Course’s universal answer for all frightened hearts and to sharing her ongoing learning and growing trust with kindred faithful, but sometimes frightened and confused, fellow students.

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!)

OTHER RECENT AUDIOS:

 

Here’s a recording I did with CA Brooks, 12Radio, in which we talk about the importance of catching our unkind thoughts and judgments and looking at them with the part of our mind that sees no differences and makes no comparisons … even while watching the news! http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=584A85D9-26B9-4187-86B672216F9D08E7

 

A recording on Changing the Purpose of the Body from Prison to Classroom: http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=C936F436-26B9-4187-862BC523BC16D778, and another on what it means to go “above the battleground” (ACIM Text 23, Section IV) http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=13D9C907-26B9-4187-86F1370A394E8755

And a recording in which we talk about ACIM workbook lesson 101: “God’s will for me is perfect happiness” and 102: “I share God’s will for happiness for me.” http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=16BFF184-26B9-4187-86DD07743FBB7355  You’d think we’d like to hear that God’s will for us is perfect happiness, but we can’t possibly believe that and also believe we attacked God and threw his love away.  Following our inner Teacher’s path of true forgiveness begins to dissolve the guilt in our mind, teaching us that it was just silly to believe we could oppose God’s will and create a separate one. Allowing us to gradually accept that we deserve the happiness we share within God’s presence and could never really destroy.

OTHER RECENT VIDEOS:

Here’s a video I did with Bruce Rawles on sharing perception with the Holy Spirit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S45pmt7ntQ4

Here’s a talk I did with Bruce Rawles on Section 16 of The Manual for Teachers: “How Should the Teacher of God Spend His Day.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgHjOcxzrwg&feature=youtu.be

In this VIDEO, Bruce Rawles and I discuss A Course in Miracles lesson 190: “I choose the joy of God instead of pain.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPqUpNmAmG0

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The Denver-based School for A Course in Miracles (formerly the School of Reason), an A Course-in-Miracles teaching organization, has a beautiful new website: http://www.schoolforacourseinmiracles.org/, with information on great new and ongoing classes based on Ken Wapnick’s teachings.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Center for A Course in Miracles http://www.centerforacourseinmiracles.org/index.html, is an educational Center whose focus is to teach what A Course in Miracles says, address common misunderstandings, and help students develop a relationship with their internal Teacher, inspired and guided by the teachings of the late Dr. Kenneth Wapnick.

In this video Bruce Rawles and I discuss themes from my most recent book, Forgiveness: The Key to Happiness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vEbI3jH8Sk 

My good friend and fellow Course student, teacher, and author Bruce Rawles 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. 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.

 

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