Which teacher are you listening to?

Jesus vs voodoo egoI awoke again horrified to find the ego once more center stage in my puny brain.

“Hey, sunshine,” it boomed, in an all-too-familiar voice, reminiscent of Bill Murray playing Nick the Lounge Singer in the old Saturday Night Live routine. “How’s it rolling?”

What part of vacate the premises did it continue to not understand? “You’re maniacal,” I said.

“Right? Sometimes I actually hate myself. But enough about me. Let’s get on with the day’s lessons. How ‘bout you tell me one more time just how well you’re doing with this Course.”

“I can’t hear you,” I said. Even though he was speaking into that confounding microphone.

“How much more peaceful it’s making you. How compassionate toward everyone and everything. How comforting you find learning there is no world, no body, no pain. Just love, love, love, that’s all we need. Hey, that’s kind of catchy, really. Maybe I should write a song.”

It had been a seemingly harrowing week in this dream lounge of mine. Although I knew who’d really taken a sabbatical, it truly felt like my inner teacher had abandoned me to the smarmy one over the past week or so, instead of the other way around. His apparent defection seemed all the more grievous given a couple-week period in which we seemed joined at the hip.  (Metaphorically, of course–there being, as we’re told, ad nauseam in the big, blue book–no bodies with hips in truth. Nonstop, screaming sensory evidence to the contrary, notwithstanding). I’d enjoyed a tranquil time prior to our falling out. During which, despite continuously surfacing, stupendously shocking situations in my forgiveness classroom, I nonetheless felt completely supported. Somehow able to instantly extend that kind certainty to other troubled dream figures–including the self I still see when I look in the mirror–independent of their behavior.

I had even bragged about it (I am sorry to say) on this very site in an essay called Real intimacy: from me first to we, describing a dream I’d had in which my inner teacher had asked me to make my relationship with him the most important thing (and I’d actually taken his advice for once in my so-called life) with palpably mind-healing, deeply comforting results. And then, shortly after posting about this surprising shift to extended right-mindedness, I experienced an ego smack down of epic proportions in which I found myself once more consumed by my own thoughts, feelings, opinions, and special interests. Suffering from extreme lower back, hip, and leg pain, mindlessly engaged in a quagmire of self-sabotaging behavior, with absolutely no memory of having again chosen to take the inner teacher of fear’s shtick seriously.

Although I tried repeatedly to re-focus on my only real function (forgiveness of the belief in separation from our undifferentiated union with our source), attempting to remind myself I’m never upset for the reason I think and could see peace instead of this as the Course’s workbook sanely advises, I didn’t even remotely buy it. Although I begged for help to see my various predicaments differently with my inner imaginary Jesus, I could not even seem to find the campus let alone my classroom anywhere.

And then, listening to a question-answer segment in a CD set of Ken Wapnick’s called The Unexamined Life Is Not worth Living, something so poignantly raw in one of the exchanges helped me again realize how unconsciously attracted to guilt I still really am. How threatening this inner presence that sees only our guiltlessness still really is. But even as I attempted to make a run for it through the heavy clouds of my projections back to my loving inner teacher’s sanctum, the ego continued in hot pursuit, delivering a full-blown, off-key, mocking performance of that old Albert King tune, Feelings.

“You can run but you cannot hide!” it shouted, at my heels, in between insufferable choruses.

“Jesus!” I cried, now, hurtling into his office and slamming the door behind me, pacing like something caged in an effort to catch my breath, slow my heart.

“Hey stranger,” he said, glancing up from a pile of term papers. The little plastic action figure Jesus I had given him a while back stood similarly at attention on the edge of his desk, beside a tiny plastic, somersaulting monkey and boxing nun. He wound them up, setting them in motion, a move that usually made me smile. Not today.

“He’s after me again,” I said.

His brows shot up and down, the way they do.

“I mean it, he’s been following me! I know he’s still …”

“Out there?”

I nodded. “I am not making this up, well, I mean, he’s been trying to recruit me back.”

“That sounds serious.”

“Told me I was dead meat, if I tried to get away.”


“You have to do something!”

Jesus nodded. Always ready to meet me in the condition I think I’m in, if necessary, he went to the door and opened it, stuck his head out, looked right, left, up and down the hallway, and closed it again. “The coast is clear,” he said, taking his seat.

I sighed, easing my creaky limbs and aching back down into the chair in front of his desk, literally unable to stand anymore under the weight of my delusions.

“The thing is, I don’t think I can go on,” I said.


“With this program, I mean.”


“It’s just too risky,” I added.

“We’ve talked about this,” he said.

“I mean, making my relationship with you my priority has consequences, in case you haven’t noticed.”

“Why are we still whispering?”

“And I mean; big ones, mister. Maybe I could just change my major from true forgiveness to something a little more attainable, less apt to trigger the ego’s retaliation. Something like gratitude, or, I don’t know, positive thinking?”

He threw back his head and laughed.

“I know what you’re thinking,” I said.

“You always do.”

“I flunked out of those classes a long time ago. I’m at the end of my rope here. I’ve exhausted all other possibilities.”  I covered my eyes with my palms. “There’s no going back, even though I’m never going to pass this freaking Course!  Might as well just go ahead and expel me now. Let him have at me.”

He laid a hand on my shoulder.

The fog in my brain burned away. I lifted my head. “Or, I could look at this with you,” I said.

“You think?”

“I mean, so I haven’t awakened yet and my mind is still split. So, just call me Sybil. Of course I’m still going back and forth between you and him. Sure I want to find a better way of living in this psycho world but not so sure I want to give up the idea of me, the only identity I still think I have, confused about the fact that I don’t have to. It’s like you say in A Course in Miracles Chapter 3, paragraph 4, lines 10-11:

“‘You will believe you are an image of your own making. Your mind is split with the Holy Spirit on this point, and there is no resolution while you believe the one thing that is literally inconceivable.’”

“Still, I am not the ego but a decision-making mind that can choose from moment to moment which inner teacher I want to listen to and learn from. And, when I feel stuck again, at the ego’s mercy and unable to find my way back to you, simply recognize that there’s still a deeply unconscious part of me terrified of annihilation because it still believes in its own existence.”

“‘Your Self is still in peace, even though your mind is in conflict. … As you approach the beginning, you feel the fear of destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death. There is no death, but there is the belief in death.’” (Paragraph 5, lines 7, 8, 10, 11)

“On a practical level, I just need to focus on how I’m feeling from moment to moment which will always tell me which inner teacher I’ve chosen. If I’m feeling anything but kind and loving toward everyone and everything (including the body I still think I inhabit), it’s really no big deal. I should just remind myself I’ve been wrong about what I really want, and could see all of this with you. If I can’t seem to do that, I shouldn’t fight myself, just remember that a part of me I’m not in touch with is petrified of learning this Course and giving up an imaginary separate-seeming, sorry self I still think offers me protection. But that’s OK. I always find myself right back here with you when my fear subsides, which it will if I just treat myself gently, without judgment, the way I would a frightened child.”

He raised his palm in the air.

I high-fived him back.

“So, you think you’re ready to go back out there again?” he asked.

“Oh, come on,” I said. “You’re such a kidder.”

We threw back our heads and laughed.

“‘Be glad! The light will shine from the true Foundation of life, and your own thought system will stand corrected. It cannot stand otherwise.’” (Paragraph 6, line 2-4)

(Thank you, Deb Shelly, for sending in the wonderful photo to illustrate this post about which teacher we’re listening to! :))

HALF-HOUR MENTORING SESSIONS NOW AVAILABLE: Although A Course in Miracles is clearly a self-study program and the one relationship we are truly cultivating is with our eternally sane and loving right mind, mentoring can help remind Course students having trouble applying its unique forgiveness that the problem and the solution never lie in the difficult relationship, situation, behavior, health issue, etc., but in the decision-making mind. In every circumstance, without exception, we can experience inner peace and kindness toward all, unaffected by the seemingly random strife of a world designed to prove otherwise. By choosing to look at our lives as a classroom in which we bring all our painful illusions to the inner teacher of forgiveness who knows only our shared innocence beyond all its deceptive disguises, we learn to identify and transcend the ego’s resistance, hold others harmless, and gently allow our split mind to heal. One-on-one, hour or half-hour mentoring sessions are conducted via traditional phone or Skype (your choice). Please contact me to find out if mentoring is right for you before submitting a payment below. (No one ever turned away for lack of ability to pay.)

 Enjoyed talking the other day with fellow Course student and teacher Bruce Rawles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQCB04ccc_Q about using everything in our lives as our forgiveness classroom, shifting our approach from dissociation to association, and bringing our projected dreams back inside where we can forgive them.

I’m making some exciting new changes to my Tuesday-night forgiveness class, designed to deepen our study and practice and accelerate our learning in the New Year! (PLEASE SEE THIS SITE’S CLASSES/EVENTS PAGE FOR DETAILS.) We’ll begin 2014 with an exploration of true prayer, forgiveness, and healing as described in The Song of Prayer pamphlet (pamphlets available for purchase from the RMMC or already included within the most recent edition of A Course in Miracles). The Song of Prayer was scribed by Helen Schucman following the Course’s publication and helps clarify misunderstandings about its non-dualistic metaphysics. Our classes on this topic will conclude each week with an optional 20-minute true-prayer session.

We’ll devote the rest of the year to considering the text, chronologically, from the beginning, through selected readings, occasionally augmented by complementary workbook lessons and/or selections from the Manual, pamphlets, and recordings by premier Course Teacher, Author, and Scholar Kenneth Wapnick. Each week will conclude with an optional, 20-minute question and answer/comment/sharing session.

Honored that Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, is now available at the Rocky Mountain Miracle Center in Denver, Colorado, where I teach regularly on Tuesday nights. Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want takes up roughly where my last ACIM essay collection left off, and conveys my growing faith that no matter how wrenching, wild, or wacky the dream of our lives may appear, we always have a choice about which inner teacher we are looking and listening with: the ego, the part of our mind that believed the “tiny, mad idea” of separation from our source had real effects. Or the “right mind” that remembered to gently smile at the bizarre thought of it. If you’re thinking about buying a book and live in Denver, please consider purchasing a copy from the RMMC to help support their great work. The new book is also available on Amazon. If you read and find the book helpful, please consider posting a brief 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. Gabrielius says:

    I liked that last paragraph about being gentle with yourself (myself) and remember that one part is petrified about learning this course. I am finding myself too in the position, when being kind and gentle seems threatening. Especially being gentle with myself 🙂

    Aren’t we so (at least I am) afraid of that gentle looking at our seeming sins? When we stop listening to the ego and simple look with Jesus, we always find there was nothing there, but until we look, it seems very frightening and filled with gore and guilt, isn’t it? And when you look, it is *poof* and gone. But then the ego rearms and screams and shouts that we cannot look at that something “else”, because it is “different” and the story repeats itself – ego convinced not to look again. And then we ask for Jesus help again comparing the state we are in with those moments, when we listened to his voice and his gentle answer and simply wait 🙂

    Well, at least I do so! 🙂

  2. Thanks Susan for another superb post, and Gabrielius for your astute comments as well… Isn’t it amazing how we attempt to ‘find’ peace, all the while vacillating between our mind’s psychotic, paranoid 100% insane voodoo child … and the eternally 100% sane voice for Kindness that gently laughs at our nightmares (when we’re ready to share in this laughter. 🙂

  3. Gabrielius says:

    Hehe, astute comments, thanks Bruce. I wish I was simpler 😉

  4. Gabrelius, I couldn’t agree more. I find it so difficult to be gentle with myself and am so resistant to that gentle looking with Jesus. But then when I finally can’t stand it anymore and do look, I find, to my astonishment, nothing there. Then the ego comes up with some other convincing external evidence “out there” and I go running away from the mind again, looking for answers where they can never be found. 🙂 But at least I’m learning there is always an alternative, and I can choose again whenever I’m ready.

    Bruce, yes, we’re always trying to find a peace that was never really lost, looking in all the wrong places. The image of the plastic Jesus versus the crazed voodoo doll at least helps us not take our flights from Love so seriously. 🙂

  5. Vigilance is a talent I ha en’t acquired.
    Even in college and Grad school, I wrote a paper the night before, I crammed for a test all night long before the day of execution. I avoid, avoid, avoid.
    I am a split mind. Just accept it, Jim. Part of me says “I do it MY way, and who is this Jesus freak anyway?” And another part has tears of gratitude welling up inside. Part of me is a lie and another part–which isn;t really a part because it is beyond my explaining or understanding–Geez–that’s what I HATE so much. I can;t accept I don;t know anything ! I can;t accept I have to be wrong, I can;t accept I have to follow !
    I am conflicted. That is just where I live until …..I don’t.
    The saving grace is–the part of my split mind that hears Jesus is true, is always there, unchanging, unchangeable, whole and Innocent–like little ole meeeeeee.
    Thanks for being there Susan. Warm hugs J

  6. “Who is this Jesus freak,anyway?” Thank you for that image, Jim! I think it just inspired a whole new little chat with you know who! 🙂

    Yes, my mind is so freaking split, too! And until the pain of my way becomes unbearable, I refuse to choose to listen and look with our imaginary Jesus. I find it so very unacceptable that I have such a stubborn authority problem with this forgiveness business, even though I really, truly, deeply know it offers everything I want. The ability to experience myself as completely loved and loving to and by all all the time!

    Fortunately, Jesus is not at all worried, always there, and always welcoming me back with a smile every time I finally reach the conclusion once more that my way is not working out for me. 🙂

    Thank you, as always, for your presence along this long and winding road back to the home we never really left!

  7. Huh? I thought I was the only one, who throws J constantly away and stubbornly keeps on his own way 🙂 Even one part really knows, and even had experiences, when it was nice to watch stuff with Him, I still do it. What do you do when you are resistant and cannot choose that gentle smile to smile away all that silly business? And just ride the dark waters?Eat a cookie? Watch TV? Read a book? 🙂 What I do, is that I try to remind myself “that’s what I want” and then try to do ordinary/earthly things 🙂

  8. Love that advice about trying to remind yourself “that’s what I want,” that you’ve chosen this, and then going about your day with that in mind.( A cookie or movie’s not a bad idea either, as long as you’re eating and watching with you know who. :))

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