Yours for the asking

autumn mapleI sat on the couch, attention having drifted once again to the inner dilemma du jour (or would that be la nuit?) from another recorded episode of the foodie talk show The Chew, in which the cast had been transported to Orlando’s Epcot Theme Park for some kind of culinary festival involving countless celebrity chefs mingling with the likes of Donald Duck and family. Providing a refreshing oasis from far too many sightings of another Donald; still peppering the airwaves (for reasons that defy even my wildest imagination) with alarming frequency.

I should have headed upstairs to bed long ago, of course, but found myself still unpleasantly wired. Animated in the worst possible way by the thought of a couple of speaking/teaching commitments I’d somehow agreed to (despite my still, at times, debilitating stage fright) approaching on my personal horizon like asteroids on a collision course.

Although I normally zoom through commercials with our remote, my preoccupation with my unwelcome predicament had caused me to lapse, allowing an ad for an insomnia medication to suddenly penetrate my self-pitying reverie. As if to mock me, an actor delivered extravagant promises (really, are there any other kind here in dreamland?) of uninterrupted, all-night repose to those of us plagued with difficulty falling or staying asleep. While blissfully refreshed consumers went about their apparently well-rested days cycling, golfing, and cavorting in meticulously landscaped gardens and athletic fields with their children or grandchildren, even as the dark underbelly of this miracle cure reared its ugly little head.

“In patients where depression may be an underlying cause of insomnia,” the soothing voice over reluctantly cautioned against a New Age score, “suicide has been identified as a risk. Sleepwalking and behaviors that individuals might otherwise not engage in during waking states have also occurred. Loss of memory of what transpired while on this drug has been reported.”

Although I had never resorted to anything stronger than Chinese remedies and vitamin supplements to treat my condition, just hearing about the possible side effects of this prescription medication, entertaining possible behaviors its victims might not otherwise have engaged in and would never recall; left me breathless. “Jesus!” I said, wondering how anyone—insomniac or otherwise—could possibly sleep after listening to this, let alone actually purchase and swallow the stuff. I mean, Jesus—really! There has to be another way!

And so it was that I found myself once more instantly transported to my inner professor’s office, where he sat at his desk, leaning back in his chair, as if expecting me. Outside the open beveled windows behind him, crickets called from the grassy, campus quad below, while the cinnamon-tinged leaves of an ash tree rustled in the soft breeze.

“Cup of Joe,” he asked, gesturing toward a small, chrome brewer in the corner. “Hot cider?”

I took my chair, facing him, and sighed, the sigh for which I remain justly famous in certain circles. “No thanks,” I said.

He smiled. “What can I do for you this evening?”

But where to begin? I thought about my dedication to this Course, to my new inner teacher, to my fellow students, Christ, on a good day, anyway, to every other seeming one of us wandering this illusory world feeling lost, alone, forever banished from their only real self and home, unable to sleep from the stress of it all or mindlessly escaping into sleep—no matter! My growing willingness to make practicing its radical forgiveness of what never was—all that seems to differentiate, threaten, and divide us—however impossible and improbable it still sometimes seemed, the new purpose of my dreaming days.

But I’m not going to lie to you. The more I thought, the madder I got. Why was it that although I had used my fear of public speaking as a classroom for quite a while now, as the Bearded Wonder sitting right across from me constantly advises us to do with everything that seems to upset us, I was still having such a hard time? Although I had repeatedly questioned the cause of my anxiety as it arose, reminded myself I could see peace, and experienced, if not complete release from fear, at least enough diminishment to allow whatever words needed to flow from right mind to do so unimpeded, why exactly was it that every new venue and situation appeared to throw me back to square one with this panic, hell, this Course?

Why did it always come back to bite me? Why did I still have to struggle with it? I mean, why couldn’t it just generalize and allow me to focus more fully on my other problematic classrooms (really, are there any other kind)? Involving the precarious health of my elderly parents, say, celebrating Thanksgiving for the first time ever without my daughter, the most prolonged writer’s block I have ever experienced or the continuing issues arising in my own aging body?

“I could go on,” I said, because he had been eavesdropping on my thoughts again, I could tell.

He nodded.

“With examples of continuing classrooms. I mean.”

His eyes widened.

“Unresolved issues in special relationships.”

He continued to smile.

“Climate change, racial and sexual discrimination, mass shootings, terrorism, Congress, the impending presidential election. God knows, I could go on.”

“You could,” he agreed.

I sighed. “But I don’t really want to, do I?  It’s just that, after all the hours I’ve put in, all the study, all the practice, the equivalent, come on, you must admit, of a couple PhDs?”

His brows shot up the way they do.

“Why can’t I at least be done with just one of these freaking curriculums? I mean, am I going to be a student for, like, ever?”

But, damn it, he just continued to smile, even as he slid the big, blue book across the desk toward me.

Reluctantly, I opened it, certain from experience that he would answer me, hell, had answered me on every page, and read these words:

“You have heard the answer, but you have misunderstood the question. You believe that to ask for guidance of the Holy Spirit is to ask for deprivation. … Little child of God, you do not understand your Father. You believe in a world that takes, because you believe that you can get by taking.  And by that perception you have lost sight of the real world. You are afraid of the world as you see it, but the real world is still yours for the asking.” (Chapter 11 VIII. paragraph 6, line 6, and paragraph 7, lines 1-4)

And I realized that I hadn’t really been asking for his help at all, asking to see the problem as it is, so to speak, instead of the way I set it up. Instead I had once again tried to point to my emotions as evidence that I will never make it home, never be forgiven for what I secretly believe I did to God. Instead, I’d been bemoaning the fact that I still have an ego, fearful of the judgment of other egos, expecting that I should somehow be beyond ego by now. Even though that only happens at the very end of the journey when all the unconscious guilt in our mind over believing we pushed the only love we share and are forever away has dissolved through the very present practice of forgiveness. In which we are asked to question every reaction we have, as it arises, admitting over and over again that we haven’t a clue about our own best interests. And can’t possibly, from our puny, distorted perception, tell the difference between learning progress and failure as long as we believe there is a distinction between them.

In short, I’d been trying to navigate this journey all by myself again, even though we were both all too familiar with the consequences of that excursion. Worse, I’d been auditioning again for his love. Attempting to prove how much I had sacrificed for this Course, my fellow students, my teacher, when, in truth, the experience of the peace we still are was right here, right now, for the asking.

I wasn’t mad any more. “Will you help me with the cause of my fear in these situations?” I asked him, now, because it works when I do that, it really does. I’d just forgotten again.

“Of course.”

“Because the end is sure, right? We all made it home. Even me?”

He nodded.

“Can I get that in writing?”

He glanced down at the big, blue book, still gaping open between us.

I yawned then, in the best possible way. It was getting late, and I was just so tired. “I see what you’re saying,” I said.

“You always do.”

“Eventually, anyway.”

And I found myself back on my couch. On the screen, Mario Batali waxed eloquent about the importance of tomato paste in creating a balanced flavor profile in pasta sauce. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I clicked the TV off and carried my little dog up to bed.

“You do not know the meaning of anything you perceive. Not one thought you hold is wholly true. The recognition of this is your firm beginning. You are not misguided; you have accepted no guide at all. Instruction in perception is your great need, for you understand nothing. Recognize this, but do not accept it, for understanding is your inheritance. Perceptions are learned, and you are not without a Teacher. Yet your willingness to learn of Him depends on your willingness to question everything you learned of yourself, for you who learned amiss should not be your own teacher.” (Paragraph 3)

 

From the LighthouseThe Foundation for A Course in Miracles has just published a new, hardcover, keepsake anthology of the complete Lighthouse newsletter articles, From The Lighthouse: To Look Upon Darkness Through Light Must Dispel It, by Kenneth and Gloria Wapnick. https://bookstore.facim.org/p-383-from-the-lighthouse-to-look-upon-darkness-through-light-must-dispel-it.aspx  I just received my copy and am thrilled to hold it in my hands! I believe all Ken’s students will likewise want to keep this treasure of a book close at hand, to savor often and return to again and again to connect with the peace not of this world embodied in its teachings.

This unique, beautifully bound collection includes Kenneth’s original introductions to each chapter as well as a general introduction he wrote with Gloria several years ago and a chapter added by Gloria containing the Lighthouse’s final issue, filled with deeply moving, inspiring personal tributes of love and remembrance to Kenneth from his many grateful students. The anthology also contains an index of Course references and a chronological index of articles.

The articles cover a wide range of topics, reflecting the Foundation’s view of the world at large as seen through the guiltless lens of the Course’s teachings on forgiveness. They “provide a window into how we at the Foundation have seen A Course in Miracles as a spiritual path, as well as our own development as a center dedicated to preserving and teaching its principles.”

It seems to me that Ken was speaking to all his students in these thematic articles seamlessly melding A Course in Miracles’ fundamental metaphysics and mind-healing practice, but he was also speaking to his family members at the Foundation on a very personal level.  I consider this book a crucial part of the Foundation’s legacy, an invitation to everyone who loves the Course, Ken, Gloria, and the Foundation to join the metaphorical “orchestra” of shared (over separate) interests (Ken often referred to) and intimately connect with the healing symphony of forgiveness we can’t hear often enough!

You can buy it here: https://bookstore.facim.org/p-383-from-the-lighthouse-to-look-upon-darkness-through-light-must-dispel-it.aspx

I’m excited to be traveling to Temecula, California, to attend the next academy class: The Masquerade: The Cost of Masking Guilt and Our True Identity. Rosemarie LoSasso and Jeff Seibert continue to share Ken’s mind-healing teachings on the forgiveness that will lead us home from the heart of their own experience, as well as decades of insight gleaned from teaching under Ken’s guidance. I can’t recommend these classes more highly! You can sign up to enjoy the class through live, online streaming here https://bookstore.facim.org/p-402-the-masquerade-the-cost-of-masking-guilt-and-our-true-identity-live-streamed-classes.aspx . But do it soon, the deadline for streaming registration is November 3rd! And check out other upcoming classes here:  http://www.facim.org/temecula-schedule.aspx

More news from The Foundation for A Course in Miracles:

The Foundation is pleased to announce the availability of two previously unpublished audio titles by Dr. Kenneth Wapnick. “Appearance versus Reality” and Forgiveness: “A Many-Splendored Thing,” are both available in CD, MP3-CD, and MP3 Downloadable formats.

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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 also based on Ken Wapnick’s teachings. (I helped cofound the original organization and am honored to be presenting with them at a weekend Christmas retreat in Colorado Springs, CO, in December!)

I’m also delighted to be teaching in the SACIM’s 2016 Immersion Program: http://www.schoolforacourseinmiracles.org/events/course-immersion-program/.

I was a student of the School for A Course in Miracle’s original Immersion Program several years ago and it helped me immeasurably in my study and practice. This new, six-month version will help participants delve deeply into the Course’s metaphysics and forgiveness practice while exploring what it really means to make living a truly forgiving life our new purpose. Register here http://www.schoolforacourseinmiracles.org/events/course-immersion-program/ by November 15th for a discounted price! 

 

CA Brooks, 12Radio, and I share a few laughs and discuss how heavily supported we are on this sometimes rocky-seeming journey home in this NEW recording (part 2 of 2) on A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 131: “No one can fail who seeks to reach the truth.” http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=911CA54F-26B9-4187-86080B3A0886E8E8 (You can access part 1 of this talk from this link or on my forays video page.)

HALF-HOUR, FORTY-FIVE MINUTE, OR HOUR-LONG ACIM MENTORING SESSIONS 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 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!)

My new book, Forgiveness: The Key to Happiness, is available on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle.

Here’s the book description:

In Forgiveness: The Key to HappinessSusan Dugan continues to recount her personal journey in learning to change the purpose of our relationships from rooting ourselves more deeply in a childish dream of separation, to growing up to accept our shared interest in remembering the uninterrupted, eternal love of our true nature. Her deeply poignant, entertaining essays explore how to really live the teachings of A Course in Miracles, learning to view our lives as a classroom in which we encounter a better way of relating to each other through the inner teacher of forgiveness instead of sin, guilt, and fear. By making our relationship with our inner teacher the most important thing, we discover how to honor the power of everyone’s decision-making mind by connecting with our own, recognizing our own mind in need of healing in our desire to fix, change, and control others. Ultimately realizing, through moment-to-moment practice, how to relate to all there is from a healed perspective beyond guilt, blame, and need.

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 recent video Bruce Rawles and I discuss themes from my new book, Forgiveness: The Key to Happinesshttps://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.

My previous ACIM essay collections, Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want and Extraordinary Ordinary Forgiveness  are available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle versions. If you read and find any of these books helpful, I would greatly appreciate you posting a brief (a sentence or two is fine) review on Amazon.

Comments

  1. Side effect of ego’s favorite drug (Damitol) and it’s cleverly-disguised-but-equally-potent generic equivalent (Condemnafew) include, but are not limited to: persistent temporal or spatial hallucinations, nagging individuality and attendant issues, and cranio-rectal-co-location, exacerbated by the refusal to “question everything you learned of yourself” 🙂 Great post, Susan, as always! 🙂

  2. Love the names of those new drugs of yours, Bruce! Might be worth the side effects? 🙂

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