Talking with Rosemarie LoSasso

Rosemarie teachingRosemarie LoSasso worked closely with Kenneth and Gloria Wapnick for decades, editing his books and audios and teaching at the Foundation for A Course in Miracles (FACIM.org) from its earliest days in the 1980s. (You can read more about Rosemarie’s journey here.) She continues to share Ken’s mind-healing teachings and Jesus’ loving message through the regular classes (also streamed online) she teaches at the Foundation, drawing on her own forgiveness process. Rosemarie generously agreed to talk with me recently about practicing the Course in the classroom of our lives, a topic with which she is intimately acquainted. I hope you will find our conversation and her gentle, practical wisdom as helpful to your practice as I have! 

(I also plan to interview long-time FACIM teacher Jeff Seibert, and hope to periodically offer additional such interviews with both of these wonderful teachers.)

Well, I might as well start with where I’m at right now, which is continuing to experience such an emotional roller coaster with this Course. I mean, I knew I was a neurotic, anxious person all along but I was pretty good at keeping that split off. But now, even things from my past I thought I was OK with seem to come up and I see I’m not OK with them. Or painful memories I wasn’t even aware of show up seemingly out of nowhere.

I’m just feeling things a lot more deeply than ever in general and it’s pretty overwhelming at times. Right now–maybe partly because it’s been almost a year since she left–it’s been in the form of this sense of loss again around my daughter having moved, feeling this tremendous neediness and dependency. It just feels terrible and I guess I’m ashamed of it. I mean, I’m a grownup, an aging grownup. And I know what the lack is really about from the Course’s viewpoint but I guess it’s still so hard not to judge myself for feeling this way.

Yes, that’s the whole point; the shame is judgment and so that’s really a statement saying you really did something or that these traits, your anxiety, this guilt, that it’s all real. The shame—that’s another word for guilt—is saying it’s real. So that’s why it keeps coming up, because in your case you’re still holding on to the belief that the guilt is justified because of what you did.

When you are ashamed or feel guilt you’re proclaiming whatever you’re accusing yourself of real; that it really happened. So that’s what we haven’t let go of. All of these examples like you missing your daughter or whatever you’re anxious about, are symbols, as you know. They’re symbols of something deep within you, within all of us. You can describe it in different ways but it always goes back to that underlying belief that we really did separate, we really did do something awful that was sinful and we deserve to be punished for it.

If we were finished with that, if we really had let go of that belief, then none of these things would come up. But I think you can note your progress in how quickly you make that connection, that it’s really not about my daughter or the money or the illness or what I heard on the news. It’s really about what is going on in my own mind which I haven’t yet let go of, I’m still holding onto.

The fact that you get there more quickly is a sign of progress, but it also means that you’re ready to look at this deeper accusation, this deeper layer of the belief in separation within you, the guilt and shame over that, and the fear coming from the guilt. You’re ready to look at it, but you can’t. It’s still not a level of mastery yet where you can just let go of it but at least you can make that connection. And I think we have to just trust that that’s all that’s expected of us, you know, because of our fear. It’s the willingness to look at it and acknowledge that the problem is really in our mind.

But we don’t get in touch with it full-blast, you might say, where we can look at it in its full clarity, that that’s what we believe we did. We can say the words: “I believe that I separated from God,” and occasionally that will occur to us as something overwhelmingly awful and so we shut it down again. But I think it’s that process of the more quickly you get from the form to the content, from the symbol to the source in the mind, the more you are allowing the healing to take place. But it’s still incremental—just a little bit at a time—because of the fear. And we’re not in touch with the extent of that fear, except sometimes when we are in a state of stark terror.

So I think there’s encouragement in that, although it feels like regression, you know, where I think, hell, I thought I dealt with this 36 years ago and here it is again. But it’s the symbol—a good specific to awaken that guilt that’s still there. We think it’s the specific thing but it’s just the decision at the present moment to make the guilt real. And the more quickly you get to that when you’re feeling upset about why you are thinking about that again—I dealt with that so long ago—the more quickly you can get to that as a decision to make guilt real in the present moment, that’s where the healing and the progress are.

And kind of just trust that healing is still taking place in the background somewhere, even when you’re not feeling any comfort yet? As you implied, it is sort of out of time, out of sequence.

Yeah, definitely. We try to evaluate it from a human standpoint and we’re so stuck in time and space that it’s impossible for us to see the extent of the healing, the miracle that has just taken place. That’s why Jesus kind of blurts out every once in a while, you could save 10,000 years doing this. And that has quite an impact on us, but it’s a way of saying you have no idea what you just did for yourself—and we don’t. The healing is going on at a level in the mind we’re not in touch with.

So it’s a matter of trust and I think that’s what makes it so hard. We want to see immediate results somehow; we want there to be no more symptoms, no more discomfort. But I think you have to allow yourself to stay with that feeling of right now in this present instant I’m choosing to make guilt real—just stay with that, disconnected from the specifics. And that level is kind of new and uncomfortable, but that’s where we want to get to because in truth nothing else is going on. You’re either choosing your ego or your right mind. It’s going on only in the mind. So it’s like we have to get used to existing that way, get used to the process of becoming a mind and learning to live that way, while still being able to function in the world.

I don’t think it’s an easy process at all but I don’t think it means that we’re not doing it right just because the emotions are still there and we still find ourselves reacting to something that happened years ago. You know, I do that. Something came up with regard to my relationship with my mother recently. (She passed away 10 years ago.) There are a few things that I really cringe about when I was unkind. They come back into my awareness and kind of haunt me. So in that instant I say “this is a choice to make guilt real” because I feel really guilty about the unkindness.

I’m a very visual person and recently when one of these instances of unkindness came up I could see my mother’s face. I was “talking” to her mind-to-mind and she understood. There was a mutual understanding that this is what egos do, that in my fear-weakened state I was just trying to survive, like everyone else. There was an understanding coming from her and then there was no more issue and she was smiling.

Yeah, I understand. I’m a very visual person, too, and I do maybe a somewhat similar form of communicating internally where I can “see” the person past or present that I seem to be upset with or feeling guilty about and try to speak very honestly about my ego fear to their mind. Usually a real sense of understanding that it’s all OK—no one’s guilty–occurs.

And it goes beyond just an apology for being unkind, it goes much deeper into a mind that has chosen the ego and therefore has chosen to reject love and it gets expressed as meanness or unkindness and since we’re the same, she has the same mind I do. There is a mutual acceptance of that. And so the guilt just goes away. But I find in my own experience that when I remember this or that incident, I am really choosing in this moment to make guilt real. Ken defined memory as “a present decision projected onto a non-existent past.”

It’s a process that we’re unfamiliar with because we’re so identified with the body, with personalities, with time, and differences. She’s my mother; I’m her daughter. And so it’s a process of getting past that, too, to the level where we’re minds and we have the same mind and the same thing happens for each of us. Choose the ego and you’re going to be unloving; choose your right mind and you’ll be loving.

So growing more into that is part of the process of readiness that we were talking about in the seminar (April 2016: “Readiness Does Not Mean Mastery”). You know, that you’re ready to take it to a deeper level and to face that choice you’re making in the present to make guilt real. And I guess for most of us it’s not a process of, okay I’m making guilt real so I’m not going to do that anymore. It doesn’t happen like that, although in principle it could. But I think it’s a giant step to be able to take it away from the specific incident and just allow yourself to stay there with the awareness that you’re choosing in this present moment to make guilt real.

I think that opens up and allows the process to unfold more in your mind when you’re choosing to make guilt real. Because there’s an awful lot that goes with that—about what? Why? And why do I continue to do this when it’s so painful? It begins to open us up to that questioning, which is the direction we want to go in, which means you have to detach it from the specific in the world, in the body.

Right. And I know I’ve also heard you say a lot and you’ve said it to me that even though it’s counterintuitive, it’s important to stay with the painful emotion and not try to flee it.

Yes, not try to judge it or fix it or make it go away. I really think that’s what it means to look with Jesus, because when you look with Jesus’ love, you’re not going to judge. You’re going to eventually be able to accept that nothing but that love is real. So if you have a very uncomfortable emotion that is so uncomfortable that you can’t even stay with it, then you’re saying something other than love is real and are reacting to it as if it were real.

When you allow yourself to stay with the discomfort of whatever the emotion is—the fear, the terror—even if you have to force yourself to do that, if you can do that and have just an instant of feeling OK with being there, then I think you’re learning that that can’t be who you are. And that’s what we want to learn, that detachment from, that disassociating of the ego. That’s not who I am. So when you can allow yourself to be present to an emotion, however uncomfortable it is, without trying to fix it or change it or judge it, I think you’re learning that’s not who you are. You’re looking at something that does not represent the truth about you so you can then learn to look at it without fear, without judging, and that strengthens your identification with the right mind. I think that’s really an essential part of what it means to look within with Jesus at whatever you think is there, without judging it as real.

Yeah. And it seems like when I do allow myself to stay with that awareness that I’m choosing to feel that guilt right now, even though—I have to be honest—it often brings up tremendous panic, I can see that it really has nothing to do with the specific person or situation, because that feeling has been around for as long as I can remember. Like with that feeling of lack around my daughter not being here, that neediness, there was a fleeting awareness that I’ve never not felt that. That it’s been there in the background in my life, in every relationship from the time I came in and way before that. So my missing my daughter really has nothing to do with her. It had nothing to do with my mother or father or husband or any other relationship, but all stems from the overwhelming feeling that I don’t deserve God’s love. But coming to even the fleeting awareness of that with my daughter has been really scary because it was almost like I had to feel fully that it was real before I could entertain the possibility that it wasn’t.

Absolutely. If it were the truth that that was who you are and it was permanent, how could you look at it? It would be too devastating. But that’s what the ego wants us to think. Ken explained that when we split off from love we then become what we split off into, which is this despair, this hell. That’s how we get trapped. That’s the strategy of the ego: to keep ever present in our awareness that if you go within this is what you’re going to bump into, and there’s no way you can survive that, it’s so awful, so don’t look! Continue your life projecting your sin and guilt because even if you have to suffer like this, looking within will be so much worse.

Even if you feel that sense of loss with your daughter, that dependency and lack, there’ll still be some good times (the ego says). But don’t even think about looking squarely at that sense of lack and neediness, don’t go anywhere near that (cause), always attribute it to something outside you: your upbringing, the world situation, whatever. Don’t go within and look at it because you won’t survive that. The despair within, if you look at it, is far, far worse than any of the despair you could experience as a body in the world. So the fact that you could do it even a little bit, stay with it and realize, oh, my gosh it’s not coming from any of the things you thought it was coming from, opens the door to the “real” cause. But then you can’t go through the door without Jesus’ help or the assurance that there’s a loving presence within you who knows that who you think you are is false.

Yes. And I think part of the process for me, too, is that Jesus has been a really helpful symbol but as I get deeper along there are more and more times where I feel abandoned by Jesus. Like I’m trying to access that presence and it was somehow easier before and now seems to have gone missing. It’s as if I’m going through the motions and have to constantly remind myself that Jesus is still here, I ran away, he didn’t. But I just try to also remind myself that I really don’t know that this is a bad thing, because, well, I don’t know anything!

Sometimes I just have to say, I can’t judge my own process and almost all of this is out of my awareness anyway. What is in my awareness is just that I want to forgive myself, I want to see everyone here as the same. That I can practice, that I can learn. And I can deny that the cause of my feeling awful is because my daughter moved away or this, this, or this happened. It’s not exactly comfort but it’s sort of learning to be OK with the journey, more accepting of the process and my lack of control, I guess.

That’s good. You’d also want to know that there’s a part of you that doesn’t want to keep going in that direction.

Yeah. And the ego is also the part of us that brings up all of those past memories, right? That’s been happening a lot for me, too. Oh, my God, it’s just this parade of failures and regrets. It’s like the ego constantly popping in and saying, don’t think for one more minute that you’re going to be healed, let’s just look at this little slide show of your life, shall we? But then I also think, well, I could use this for a right-minded purpose, to look at each of these things differently with Jesus and see that no one was really guilty (including me) and that we all did the best we could at the time. So maybe it’s coming up for a duel reason: to strengthen the ego or to strengthen the right mind. That’s what I get to choose?

Right, exactly.

You know in a recent class you said something like the advantage of paying attention to the content of our reactive mind is that we get closer to the decision maker and the awareness that we have a choice. And then you said we will eventually have that awareness all the time immediately. Does that mean that we get to a point where we really are aware all the time what we are the decision-making mind and we don’t project?

Right. When you’re that clear about the purpose, then you get to a point where you know you don’t have to do this anymore. You see right through to the purpose of it and you accept the love of Jesus in your mind as your only reality. That’s all that’s true, and everything else is false. Then there’s no more need for choice. That’s the whole idea, to become that clear about it.

But that’s at the top of the ladder home?

Sure. You just see right through the ego, you know, this is what I’m doing. And you know it’s not the ego, it’s me as a mind; I am choosing to be hateful right now. And you’re well aware that the hate is directed at you because there’s no one out there. In other words, you’ve worked through all of this and it becomes second nature to you; this is the way you think all the time. Then it just becomes silly. You recognize that you’ve been deceiving yourself all along into thinking that the cause of all your problems was outside you.

That’s where the training leads. You eventually just function as a mind that can choose one of two teachers, one of two thought systems. And it’s so clear to you what choosing the ego thought system of separation will bring you that it’s, well, why would I do that? It’s not a sin or anything, it’s just plain futile and silly, so you just don’t do it.

So even before you react you choose your right mind. There’s no negative feeling to any of it?

No.

I feel like the awareness that what I’m feeling is not connected to what’s happening in my dream of a life is there almost all the time now but I still feel the internal pain, the reaction to it, and then I tend to still judge myself for the feeling.

Meaning you react with anger or something?

No, I don’t let it rip at people but I feel it internally and a lot of it is just anger at myself. With other people, for example in my relationship with my husband, it’s very much diminished from how conflicted I used to feel. Where, when he was upset with me, I would just be going crazy internally and feel so defensive and unfairly treated. It’s not really like that anymore. Something just came up yesterday where he was having an ego attack but I didn’t feel nearly as defensive as I’ve felt in the past and the feeling passed quite quickly. Within minutes I had the thought that he’s afraid, too. He has an ego, too, and feels terribly guilty. The guilt has to go somewhere if we’ve chosen the ego.

Yeah. The progress once again is in the lessening of that gap between when that happens and when you recognize within yourself what’s going on.

So there’s progress just in that recognition of what’s really causing my anger, say.

Yes. Because you’re learning what Jesus is teaching us in all the different “lessons” in which it appears—that it’s a choice of thought systems in every instant. And that we need these things to happen in our lives so we can then recognize what we must have chosen in order to react that way. And eventually that becomes so natural to us that we catch ourselves choosing to react and then eventually we get to that point where if you’re undoing the belief in separation then you’re accepting the oneness which is love. So the more we identify with that love, the closer we will get to the point where it will not even be a matter of choice anymore. You regain your awareness of who you truly are. And we would then be like Jesus, which is what he wants us to become. He doesn’t have to think about how to react to something. You become the love and eventually there’s not even a self there to get upset or to forgive.

What’s helpful is to always remember that we’re undoing a process of separation and fragmentation because our natural state is a state of love. You don’t need to have a decision maker at that point. But that just seems so far away from who we think we are right now that it seems impossible to attain. But when you remember that’s your natural state, then it’s easier. Because when you really know that’s what you truly are it’s not something that you have to become. It’s like Michelangelo’s approach to sculpting. He just chipped away at what didn’t belong there.

So it’s like a process of recognizing the masks we wear in all these camouflages and false identities. What’s false is false and what is true has never changed. (A Course in Miracles workbook Part II, Section 10, “What Is the Last Judgment?”) But it’s hard because we have become so thoroughly identified with an image that it seems that’s who we are and it doesn’t even occur to us that it’s totally made up. That’s why in one place Jesus says, “What you think you are is a belief to be undone” (W-pI.91.6:7). So it’s like accepting the teaching and then devoting every minute of your life to that and bringing it back into the forefront of your mind throughout the day. We can only do that in the context of our interactions with each other. We wouldn’t know otherwise what choice we were making (in the mind).

Right. I liked what you or Jeff said at the last class in March that our relationships are giving us “constant feedback” about which teacher we’ve chosen in the mind. I thought that was a great way of putting it.

Yes, that’s our starting point. Otherwise we wouldn’t have a clue. We are so defended against the truth, against love, there are such (unconscious) barriers that we have to start on that level. And then as we go we get feedback—oh, I must have chosen my ego even though I’m not aware of it—but the goal is to become aware of the choice. It’s not just, oh; I must have chosen my ego. The more you practice, the more you’re approaching the experience of choosing your ego right now in this instant. And then beyond that is catching yourself before you choose. And then you become fully identified with the mind and with yourself as a mind.

There are only two things that are ever going on in that mind and one of them makes no sense whatever—it’s a path to insanity. The other is the path to peace and love. One gives you nothing, the other gives you everything. But again, the idea is that’s what’s natural. We journeyed down a path and became something totally unnatural, so we have to learn to make that connection that when I’m hateful, unkind, mean, worried, fearful, it’s unnatural, not natural. But we all think—what? That’s just what people do. So that’s where we have to start—just to question, well, that might not be true. And then we learn what the Course is saying about our defenses. But I think it’s helpful at least once in a while to remember what’s natural to us really is not natural. I always quote that line in Chapter 12, “When you made visible what is not true, what is true became invisible to you.” (A Course in Miracles text, chapter 12, section VIII, paragraph 3)

And it almost seems like that sometimes. I’ll be in a conversation with someone or about to be experiencing one of my little hissy fits and it’s like the action just stops. There’s a sense that it’s just a charade. And you know that brings up a sort of related question I had wanted to ask you. There’s a CD of Ken’s I was listening to again where he said that Helen was at the top of the ladder home but she needed to look otherwise and was wearing a “costume.” He said that more than once and I guess I always wondered but never asked whether Helen was aware that she was at the top of the ladder? He said that she needed to look otherwise and I remember him saying that people would be too afraid of what she represented and would have become too identified with Helen as a guru or an idol or something.

Right. I don’t remember him saying that she was aware she was wearing a costume but I do remember him saying—and I think it might be in Absence from Felicity—that “I knew that she knew and she knew that I knew.” So to me, that’s like saying she was aware.

It was like a little “wink, wink” they shared about that?

That would be my interpretation. In fact what I’m doing in my Thursday group is going through an unpublished class of his called “The Mastery of Fear” and in one part he was saying, and kept saying, that we know exactly what we’re doing. He kept saying that in different ways. And that’s what Jesus is saying at the beginning of workbook lesson 136, that all defenses are consciously made, but part of the defense requires that we (quickly) forget, deny that we chose that. So that’s telling me that on some level we know exactly what we’re doing, but we have to then pull the veil down over that awareness. That’s why the process is all about getting us back to that point where we see that. Because we already know but are choosing to defend ourselves against that, to block that awareness—both the awareness of choosing love and the awareness of rejecting love.

I mean we’re fully aware apparently that that’s what we’re doing but then we have to deny that we know that. That’s why this is a very painful and slow, agonizing process at times. Because we don’t want to look at how we are choosing to be hateful and vicious and to withhold love from others. If you go around with that awareness all the time every time you do it, first of all it would be good because you’d have to say well, why on earth am I doing this because I’m so unhappy. But I’m also right (as an ego); you could come up with that answer. But it’s painful because part of us has sworn never to look because of the fear of what we believe would happen to us if we ever took full responsibility for that choice.

So it has to be slow and gentle. What I was saying at the beginning is that when you look at something that is really, really hard to look at—some hatred or withholding of love or just getting in touch with that (underlying) terror—and then have the willingness to allow yourself to go through it to the other side, you see that you feel okay. But I think that just makes room for more to come up to look at because we’re too fearful to do it all at once. So that’s why going back to your example of things from years ago, from childhood, coming back up because of the association with guilt, it’s because you did let go of some of the guilt which makes room for more of it to come up to look at, until it’s all gone.

And I guess the panic comes up as I get close to becoming aware of what I’m doing. When I face that sense of being unloving and unloved within myself, which really is a symptom of the guilt and lack I feel for believing I pushed God’s love away for good, the self-hatred I feel over it, there’s a real sense of panic. That’s what I was talking about, the feeling of wanting to flee. And I guess that feeling is why we fled in the first place and that’s why we fight so hard to keep the cover-up going?

Yeah. That’s why we have to question it, to take that minute or so and let the feeling be there, which gives you a little time to question its validity. I mean there’s no reason to question its validity in terms of the feeling itself, but as a Course student there is. That’s the conflict within us. It feels so real; how can it not be real? So we go back and forth like that. Intellectually we know the Course says we remain as God created us and there is nothing but love in our true identity, but then I’m feeling this self-hatred that is so intense, so horrific, I can’t even look at it, I don’t want to deal with it. Because we think that’s all we are.

And yet, on the other hand we just read “I am as God created me.” So that’s the conflict between the intensity of what we’re feeling, which seems to be the truth because we don’t feel anything else, and what we know intellectually. So there’s a way of dealing with that which is helpful and a way of dealing with that which is not: the bliss ninny approach, where you just don’t deal with it and say, oh, that’s not true, I’m totally lovable. But, yes, that’s the conflict we have in our process. So often our experience goes against what the Course is saying. For example, we say “I don’t experience myself that way (as God created me).” Jesus is saying to us “no you don’t, and here’s why.” But the feelings are so real.

I think if you really are practicing this you get to see the content of what’s going on in your mind and it’s really not pretty.

Right. But you have to look at it; you have to have that kind of courage to stay with that feeling of total self-hatred. And I mean it’s beyond description. But then having gone through the Course you know Jesus is saying, you’re choosing to make that real. You’re choosing to have that be the truth about you even though you’re not aware of choosing it. But really that’s all that’s going on. That’s why we need a teacher, too. And then it becomes, which one of these should I put my trust in? My teacher or what my feelings are telling me is the truth?

Right. You know, this really isn’t about being a bliss ninny but somewhat related because it’s a question about experiencing pleasure that’s come up for me. When I was a kid I always liked to draw but I never took any formal classes and I’ve started taking art classes and really enjoying it. And I’ve recently started to write fiction again, which I always loved doing, too, but ended up having a very complicated special relationship with the outcome of it and using that basically to crucify myself. So this time I’m trying to just focus on the enjoyment of the play and the process of making art and writing fiction. And what I most enjoy about them both is that I completely lose track of myself and time and it feels so light and easy. But there’s this guilt that comes up and I worry that I’m doing this to just be mindless, or that this will just lead me back into the world and there’s almost a feeling that I shouldn’t be …

Enjoying yourself?

Pretty much.

(MUTUAL LAUGHTER)

Well, what should you be doing instead?

I don’t know; suffering, I guess. I mean, on the world’s level, it’s about guilt over doing something for no productive reason. But I know that’s not the real reason I feel guilty, I know it has to do with feeling that I just don’t deserve to enjoy myself, to be happy.

Well that’s worth looking into more and allowing yourself to be with that feeling, but probably there’s a sense of bargaining with God. If I’m happy, then, I don’t know, it’s kind of risky. It would be better to suffer or do something hard, and then I’ll earn points. God will be more accepting of me. I mean, that’s in so many religions. But, you know, I don’t think you would say that to your daughter—please don’t enjoy yourself because you don’t deserve that. I don’t think you would say that?

No.

So one way of dealing with it is looking at it as a way of being kind to yourself. You think, well, I don’t deserve it, but why are you so sure about that? Is that really the truth? That’s what you have to question. Is it really true that I’m not lovable, that I don’t deserve to be loved and don’t deserve to have pleasure in my life? I mean, are you questioning at all whether that’s true?

No, not really.

Yeah, I would think not; you’ve just been accepting that as a given. But also, there’s nothing wrong with being kind to yourself and doing things that make you feel good or that you just enjoy, as long as you are aware that your salvation does not come from that. And the idea that you have to be doing something productive, that’s the world’s thing. You know I always hear people saying, oh, I’ll have time to rest in heaven, and that’s fine, because that’s what they believe, but I think there’s something more to it than that.

And also, I think, why not take Jesus with you to art classes or when you’re writing? Isn’t that what Ken was talking about in those audio clips we were playing (in the April seminar)? That his goal was that there would be nothing between him and Jesus, nothing separating him from Jesus. And he didn’t stop doing things. He enjoyed playing his clarinet; that could be done with Jesus. So the idea is to keep uppermost in your mind that you want to become one with that love of Jesus that’s in your mind. Why can’t you do that with your drawing and writing?

True. That’s very helpful. In a way I think I sort of do do that when I’m drawing and deep into writing because I don’t feel at all conflicted, just very light and without judgment. And there’s a real sense of joining with whatever I’m drawing or the character I’m writing about. It’s the before and afterwards where I feel so guilty. But I think why I actually like those activities so much is that they happen in a place of complete acceptance and there doesn’t seem to be the burden of me there.

Well, good, I’m glad that this has come out because again you’ve been saying, without realizing it, that guilt is justified, you have to suffer. Well, why would you say something like that if you weren’t making guilt real? If you didn’t think that God was holding something against you that you had to atone for, make up for by doing hard things? You sound like a good Catholic.

Yeah, well, not anymore. But those are very Catholic thoughts I was raised with.

Yeah. And Judaism and the ascetic traditions and Puritanism. So I think first of all you really need to work with questioning that belief. You haven’t questioned enough that you don’t deserve to enjoy yourself, that you don’t deserve to have fun or pleasure. You’re not questioning where that conclusion is really coming from. And that’s one of those things I suspect you’re going to have a hard time allowing in your mind, that you wouldn’t want to look at that. So work with questioning that. Because as a Course student, you know that the idea that there’s no atonement without sacrifice is absolutely false. The only sacrifice is that we sacrificed the truth so we could have what we wanted: separation.

That is really so helpful, Rosemarie, and I hope helpful to us all. Thank you, I will work with that. I have one more question I wanted to ask you about something you shared in a recent class about an experience you had early on in your Course study where you were in the middle of doing ordinary things and suddenly felt this overwhelming sense of being responsible for the entire cosmos? Could you elaborate on that? Was that a really horrific experience?

Yes, it was. In fact it left as quickly as it came. But I recall it as a glimpse of the guilt over wanting to have this kind of a universe just to be separate from God. And realizing that, however old the universe is, all of that is what I wanted; all of the pain, the suffering, all of the catastrophes, and disasters and wars and famine—everything. And I must say it was just a flash but all of that was in it, kind of like your life flashing before you in a moment of terror or something like that. I remember where I was, just doing some routine morning things, and it just flashed into my mind that I was responsible for absolutely everything that had ever occurred and that I wanted it. Even now when I kind of recreate the feeling, I become a little nauseated and horrified. I don’t want to analyze it, but that’s what the feeling was and it went as quickly as it came.

Afterwards I understood why Jesus said that we have no idea of the enormity of that one error, what it did to our mind (T-18.I.5). I thoroughly understood why there was no way I could have held on to that awareness and survived. That if I were aware of it and believed it to be true, I would have destroyed myself. I mean, I think about a neighbor, a friend of mine, who was mowing his lawn with a tractor and he didn’t realize his two-year-old son was there and he ran over him and killed him. How do you deal with that? You can’t take it back. It’s permanent, it’s forever. But what I was feeling was like multiplying that millions of times.

There was no way out of it. I did it, I wanted it.

And so I could see why Jesus said we believed we had to block it, and that the only way to deal with this agony was through denial and projection, to prove it’s not my fault. Whatever way that can work out in your life, however many times you have to do that (project) to prove again and again and again it’s not my fault, even in little things, it doesn’t change the underlying self-accusation. And then the idea of sacrifice that we were just talking about, the sense that I have to make up for what I did. One way to do that is not to be happy, or to be sick or abused or frail—to always be a victim.

All of that I understood just from that flash in my mind—there’s no way you could possibly look at that for more than an instant and survive.

Wow. And that’s what the Course really came to teach, that devastating as it is, it never happened and—good news people—there’s still a way out!

Right. I think now that you mention it, that’s why it came up. Because I was now on a path that would help me look at that and let it go, to see that it’s not true. But to see all the different ways in which I was expressing it in my life. And that’s what I meant by saying that looking without judgment at the day-to-day expressions of our belief in separation makes room for more of them to come up and be forgiven.

Yeah. And ultimately that’s a good thing because you have to look with Jesus at the specific expressions of it you’re unconsciously hiding to finally see they’re nothing, right? But there is that nagging sense within us of the vastness of this error. I guess that’s what I meant when I was talking about seeing the way that emptiness I’m feeling around my daughter, that bottomless lack, is everywhere in my life, everywhere in every life, everywhere in every world we could imagine. Everything I’ve done ever from the beginning is always about trying to make up for this tremendous void I feel I deserve as punishment for what I did, and then trying to get rid of the guilt by portraying other people around me as guiltier than I am.

Yeah. And the cause of the lack, where that came from, that’s what we eventually get in touch with, that accusation, what we’re really accusing ourselves of, that it’s all my fault.

“Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault,” I believe was what we repeated in mass.

(MUTUAL LAUGHTER)

Thank you so much Rosemarie for taking the time to talk about the practice and process of this Course. It’s been incredibly helpful to me and I know it will be incredibly helpful to other students. We are so lucky to have you and the Foundation!

You’re most welcome, Susan. And thank you for inviting me to join you in this discussion. Thank you, too, for your continued devotion to the Foundation and Kenneth’s teachings.

It is truly my pleasure.


Foundation for A Course in Miracles Announcements

New Programs through October 2016

Please view our latest Temecula Schedule page https://www.facim.org/temecula-schedule.aspx   to see the new Seminars and Academy classes, including Live Streaming of the classes, scheduled through October 2016.
You can register for upcoming live and streamed classes (AND GET THE NEW SCHEDULE) taught by the amazingly gifted Foundation for A Course in Miracles teaching staff; who continue to communicate Ken’s teachings with such clarity and grace, here: https://www.facim.org/temecula-schedule.aspx. I really can’t recommend these classes more highly! These teachers 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! :))


Latest Audio Releases

The Foundation is pleased to offer two previously unreleased audio titles by Dr. Kenneth Wapnick. The first of these is a five-CD set entitled ” ‘A Hawk from a Handsaw;: Discerning the Holy Spirit,” recorded in 2010, and the second is a three-CD set entitled ” The Godspot: Spirit or Body,” recorded in 2006. Both titles are also available as MP3 CDs and MP3 Downloads.


Super Inventory Sale

During the month of May we are continuing our “Going Digital Warehouse Sale.” We are clearing 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.

We have added an additional five English titles and five Spanish titles to the sale, which can be viewed here. There are no plans to add any further titles to this sale. Please note that some orders may take up to two weeks to ship after the order is received.


50% Off Audio Title

Duality as Metaphor in A Course in Miracles is now available at a 50% discount and is sold as a CD set, MP3 CD, and MP3 Download. This workshop is a comprehensive study of what is to be taken literally and what is to be taken metaphorically in A Course in Miracles, and the distortions that result from not recognizing this difference between symbol and fact.


Here’s a NEW AUDIO I did with CA Brooks, 12Radio, on ACIM workbook lesson 138: “Heaven is the decision I must make.” Despite the countless decisions that appear to confront us throughout our days there is really only one choice to make right now: Heaven or hell? Do I choose to side with the inner teacher of separate interests and root myself more deeply in this dream of exile from all-inclusive Love or choose the inner teacher that will help me take another step toward awakening to our prevailing innocence? http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=AC6D703F-26B9-4187-86E87DD038247D38

MY LATEST BOOK, FORGIVENESS: THE KEY TO HAPPINESS, remains DISCOUNTED on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Forgiveness-Happiness-Susan-A-Dugan/dp/0983742022 , along with my second book in the forgiveness 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

In this RECENT 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

Here’s a RECENT AUDIO I did with CA Brooks, 12Radio, on 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. Here’s a NEW AUDIO I did with CA Brooks, 12Radio, on

Schedule individual MENTORING sessions 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. 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!)

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.

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.

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.

Comments

  1. Thank you Susan and Rosemarie that was again very helpfull.
    And just at the right time, like it always is 😉

  2. Thank you, Annelies. Rosemarie’s teaching and wisdom is a gift to us all! 🙂

  3. Gabrielius says:

    Very helpful, Susan. Thanks for keeping FACIM interviews alive 🙂 I believe many ACIM students fall into the trap of thinking that they are doing forgiveness wrong because they are not looking at particular situation non-judgmentally. Basically, that they are not “releasing it”. Somehow I missed this part too – looking at the nastiness and still seeing how I hold onto it and feeling the pain of it and simply staying with it.

  4. I’m glad you found the interview helpful, Gabrielius. Rosemarie is so very clear about the process of looking at the ego with Jesus and learning to be gentle and patient with our unconscious fear!

  5. Sally Miller says:

    I read this interview a couple of days ago and meant to enter a comment about how timely and helpful it was, and how grateful I am to you for sharing it. It helps me see so clearly what I need to work on, and not to cover over the guilt when it rears its trouble-making head. Staying with the pain and fear will be difficult work (it seems). Yesterday I had an extraordinary day of peace and well being. Then, today I got hit head-on with an issue involving my ex husband. My blood pressure just about gave me a stroke until I managed to run here and look up Rosemarie’s remarks again. I’m in the midst of the anger as I write this and feeling like I’ve slipped badly and haven’t learned anything. Well…maybe I don’t HAVE to be right….
    I also really empathized with the experience of feeling guilty if I’m enjoying myself. That old time religion is certainly rooted in there, and I’m not even Catholic! Although having been raised in a liberal protestant church where grace and forgiveness were stressed, with kind parents, I still picked up the guilt and sacrifice part.
    Again, Susan, many many thanks for this conversation.

  6. Hi Sally:

    I’m not sure why I didn’t see your comment. I usually get notifications but didn’t this time.

    Anyway, thank you so much for your heartfelt response to my interview with Rosemarie. Her teaching and experience with forgiveness are such a wonderful resource for us all.

    I can really relate to your experience of feeling peaceful and right-minded, then out of the blue having a massive ego attack that seems absolutely triggered by a special relationship and then judging yourself harshly for falling off the forgiveness wagon. 🙂 I do this all the time, and I think most of us do, too. But as Ken, Rosemarie, Jeff, and, well, Jesus are always pointing out, the Course isn’t asking us not to get angry, simply to question the cause and not justify it. And then to ask Jesus for help not to judge ourselves, and to remember we’re just frightened students, still in school. We’ll get there eventually through the growing patience, faith, and willingness that come from practice, practice, practice, and by remembering to take Jesus’ hand whenever we’re upset. We always start out wrong in the condition we think we’re in. As Ken also said (and I still always forget): “No big deal!” 🙂

    Kind regards,
    Susan

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