What do you ask for in your heart?

(Here’s an excerpt from my upcoming book, Forgiveness: the Key to Happiness.)

750px-Sunburst_over_the_clinch_river“I’m not talking about this now,” I said, barricading myself in the fox hole of my office against incoming verbal shrapnel like any self-respecting ego. Feeling once more misunderstood, manipulated, unfairly treated, and falsely accused in a special relationship; just when I thought things were humming along benignly enough in my dream. The sudden, toxic turn of my projections left me licking my wounds, delicate feelings shredded, boundaries trampled; blah, blah, blah.

Ken Wapnick’s sage advice to simply remember A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 5: “I am never upset for the reason I think” and 34: “I could see peace instead of this,” seemed a lifeline, dangled in mockery, just beyond my reach. “So you became afraid again; just don’t take it seriously,” I could hear my right mind cooing. “Seriously?” I wanted to shriek. Because unlike that cockeyed optimist, I knew only too well that if I left this room I would find myself back in the fray; one or more dream figures in my face again, waxing thunderously eloquent about my many failures.

And so I turned, as I often do, to the big, blue book itself, for solace. Ironically, I had been reading workbook lesson 185: “I want the peace of God” again, and, as usual, had conjured my attraction to its opposite. My reaction to the ensuing drama in a close relationship illuminated just how much I must secretly want to prove the reality of this guilty, unloving self I really hold close, a shield against the punishment we’re all convinced we deserve for coveting individuality in the first place and participating in the ego’s collective cover-up. Still, a part of me really does want the peace of God, really does want to experience itself as worthy of all-inclusive, unwavering love. Only I can’t experience it and still hold on to these trippy, painful dreams of persecution.

See, I want the peace of God, but I want it my way, right here, right now, in my kitchen. I want to gracefully negotiate it, if you know what I mean, to bring these wayward others in line with my elevated reasoning, in a civilized conversation involving wild blueberry muffins and well-brewed cups of dark-roast Joe. I want agreement among my costars, to serve as a silent ambassador for peaceful behavior they will happily and gratefully emulate.

But apparently, it doesn’t work that way. To say I want the peace of God means I relinquish all attachment to private, separate interests and outcomes. And there’s the rub. Because the body I still think I am fears for other bodies unwilling to cooperate with its higher understanding and expanding clarity. The body I still think I am longs to take literally passages in this lesson that seem to allude to a human joining that belies everything A Course in Miracles says about the world and its seeming inhabitants vying for survival:

“Many have said these words. But few indeed have meant them. You have but to look upon the world you see around you to be sure how very few they are. The world would be completely changed, should any two agree these words express the only thing they want.”   (Paragraph 2, line 9)

But the agreement, of course, is never among other dream figures, considering the startling fact that, well, there are no dream figures! The agreement is always and only about my sincere willingness to disagree with the one ego’s dire, hateful interpretation of events, thereby agreeing with the one right mind’s certainty that only truth remains. “Not one note in Heaven’s song was missed” by an insane desire to experience ourselves other than whole and eternal; loved and loving. The agreement is merely my decision to align with the one right mind we share; to join in the only relationship truly available, our relationship with the memory of wholeness within the one mind capable of teaching us to heal our mistaken belief in the sin of separation realized.

“Two minds with one intent become so strong that what they will becomes the Will of God. For minds can only join in truth.” (Paragraph 3, lines 1-2)

And that means it is always only my seemingly separated mind in need of joining with the truth held and protected in our one right mind. Because here in the broken condition I find myself in I cannot ever completely agree with anyone or anything. My very seeming survival depends on protecting the illusion of our differences, the strength of our vying positions, our dependencies and declarations of independence, that shore up the illusion of our very existance.

“In dreams, no two can share the same intent. To each, the hero of the dream is different; the outcome wanted not the same for both. Loser and gainer merely shift about in changing patterns, as the ratio of gain to loss and loss to gain takes on a different aspect or another form.”  (Paragraph 3, lines 3-5)

A Course in Miracles does not mince words about what our minds on ego are really up to here in our relationships within the dream we call our lives.  We compromise and sacrifice, bargain, manipulate, and seduce to get our needs met. When our negotiated agreements are inevitably reneged upon, all hell breaks loose and we self-righteously brandish our betrayal. Or, we learn to stop and recognize there is a better way of relating in this so-called world, that we haven’t a clue about what we really want, but are willing to learn from a new inner teacher that does. We can stop, and sincerely ask that teacher to tell us what we really want to learn.

“What do you ask for in your heart? Forget the words you use in making your requests. Consider but what you believe will comfort you, and bring you happiness. But be you not dismayed by lingering illusions, for their form is not what matters now.” (Paragraph 8, line 2-5)

What do I really ask for in my heart? I ask for peace. I ask for healing. I ask to learn I feel better when I release you from the bondage of my opinions and the conditions of my love. I ask to see you and me as the same, regardless of the gory details of our ego meltdowns. To remember we still love each other, even when our behavior speaks otherwise. To remember we share the same split mind made mad by guilt and the same reassuring inner teacher that knows we are already home, our seemingly broken heart still beating as one.

“Let not some dreams be more acceptable, reserving shame and secrecy for others. They are one. And being one, the question should be asked of all of them. ‘Is this what I would have, in place of Heaven and the peace of God?’” (Paragraph 8, lines 6-8)

Even though these dreams of our deep fissure rattle me to the seeming bone and almost convince me once more that love is gone for good, I know that underneath it all I want the peace of God. And I am learning, from moment to moment, to withdraw my hopes of finding answers in an illusion that has never delivered on its promises, and listen to that inner cockeyed optimist instead. Because it remains certainly grounded in vital information I have forgotten.

“It is this one intent we seek today, uniting our desires with the need of every heart, the call of every mind, the hope that lies beyond despair, the love attack would hide, the brotherhood that hate has sought to sever, but which still remains as God created it. With Help like this beside us, can we fail today as we request the peace of God be given us?” (Paragraph 14)

Not very God-damn likely! 🙂

The Foundation for A Course in Miracles continues to offer illuminating classes taught by a talented, devoted, truly inspiring staff who shine with the light of living this work! I was so deeply moved and inspired by their presentations at the July and March academies I attended, and can’t wait to return for more! Check out all their current offerings including the Winter 2015 schedule here:  http://www.facim.org/temecula-schedule.aspx

You’ll also find new releases from the Foundation’s bookstore here: https://www.facim.org/bookstore/t-latestreleases.aspx, the online bookstore here: https://www.facim.org/bookstore/, online learning aids here: https://www.facim.org/online-learning-aids.aspx, and questions on just about any topic Course students could dream up sanely, lovingly, and eloquently answered here: https://www.facim.org/online-learning-aids/question-answer.aspx

I’m honored to be presenting a workshop at the invitation of Jim Peterson in Portland, Oregon, in March 2015. The subject is close to my heart and A Course in Miracles forgiveness practice: “The Parent-Child Relationship: Transcending Guilt Blame and Need.” To find out more and register, please go to Jim’s site: http://www.alchemical-transformation-guidance.com/SusanDuganWorkshop2014.html  and/or check out my Classes/Events page: https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/classes-events

Enjoyed chatting with Bruce Rawles again in this new video about the ego’s backlash and the importance of not taking ourselves too seriously! https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/videos

CA Brooks, (host of an ACIM show at 12Radio that airs Friday mornings, 9 a.m., Mountain Time) and I discussed “What Is Salvation?” And “What Is the World” from the Course’s workbook in early September. You can listen to the audio recording at the top of my audio page here: https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/audios I am a guest speaker on CA’s 12Radio ACIM program the first Friday of each month, 9 a.m., Mountain Time.

HALF-HOUR, FORTY-FIVE MINUTE, OR HOUR-LONG MENTORING SESSIONS NOW AVAILABLE: Although A Course in Miracles is clearly a self-study program and the one relationship we are truly cultivating is with our eternally sane and loving right mind, mentoring can help remind Course students having trouble applying its unique forgiveness that the problem and the solution never lie in the difficult relationship, situation, behavior, health issue, etc., but in the decision-making mind. In every circumstance, without exception, we can experience inner peace and kindness toward all, unaffected by the seemingly random strife of a world designed to prove otherwise. By choosing to look at our lives as a classroom in which we bring all our painful illusions to the inner teacher of forgiveness who knows only our shared innocence beyond all its deceptive disguises, we learn to identify and transcend the ego’s resistance, hold others 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 below. (No one is ever turned away for lack of ability to pay.)

Here’s a link to details about my ongoing Tuesday night class on the text here in Denver https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/classes-events beginning in May 2014.

My good friend and fellow Course student and teacher Bruce Rawles, author of The Geometry Code http://www.amazon.com/Geometry-Code-Universal-Reminders-Separation/dp/0965640574/ref=la_B003ZZVZVK_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411567229&sr=1-1, 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 http://www.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 http://www.acimvillage.com/. I found his recent, kindly right-minded contemplations there on the death of our beloved teacher Ken Wapnick deeply comforting! Bernard lives and teaches in France with his dear wife Patricia. You’ll find a wealth of information in French on his website http://uncoursenmiraclesenfrance.com/ including recorded talks available for purchase or free download: http://uncoursenmiraclesenfrance.com/audio/.

My dear friend and wonderful teacher Lyn Corona continues to offer classes at the Rocky Mountain Miracle Center through her School of Reason for Course students and teachers. You can subscribe to her website http://www.schoolofreason.org/ to receive information about upcoming classes.

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

Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, and my previous book, Extraordinary Ordinary Forgiveness, are now also available from the ACIM Store: http://www.acimstore.com/default.asp.



  1. Thanks again, dear Susan, getting clearer and clearer with every book …

  2. Thank you so much, Annelies! 🙂

  3. Ditto to Annelies’ comment! This blog post gets right to the heart of our universally shared ambivalence which we all know will inevitably fall back into the nothingness from whence it came after we choose, once and for all, to deny the denial of truth, to remember consistently that we already have complete ‘costar agreement’ where it counts, in our right mind, where we left it to dream of prodigal crimes that never happened. 🙂

  4. Very well put, Bruce–thank you! 🙂

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