It feels good to be back on schedule and doing reviews. I have my app to remind me on the half hour. I’m up at a decent hour with a schedule of normalcy instead of insanity: life is good. Beyond that I am reading a book on creativity and realizing that in many ways, the Course is about tapping into that creative energy. Ego, in its attempt to protect and keep small, constantly eclipses creativity by telling us we already know. More about that in a moment, but for now, this is the lesson for today:
For morning and evening review:
(93) Light and joy and peace abide in me.
I am the home of light and joy and peace.
I welcome them into the home I share with God,
because I am a part of Him.
(94) I am as God created me.
I will remain forever as I was,
created by the Changeless like Himself.
And I am one with Him, and He with me.
On the hour:
Light and joy and peace abide in me.
On the half hour:
I am as God created me.
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Light and joy and peace abide in me. This is a call back to my true self. Light and joy and peace abide in me because that is who I really am. When I am not experiencing these things, it means that I have forgotten who I am. I have listened to my ego and basically invited in the terrorists. That’s great if my purpose in inviting them in is to see past appearances and chat with them over tea so that they might remember the truth of who they are (reinforcing what I am teaching). Otherwise, why bother putting up with the chaos?
From Tuesday night’s class: “5 Whenever you are not wholly joyous, it is because you have reacted with a lack of love to one of God’s creations. Perceiving this as “sin” you become defensive because you expect attack. The decision to react in this way is yours, and can therefore be undone. It cannot be undone by repentance in the usual sense, because this implies guilt. If you allow yourself to feel guilty, you will reinforce the error rather than allow it to be undone for you.”
Happiness is a choice. Letting go of guilt is a choice. Light and joy and peace are our natural states but we must decide to claim them. I know for myself, when I feel guilt, it is my body’s way of indicating to me that I have been listening to my ego and that I need to choose God instead. Since I don’t need to “repent,” (God does not require payment for my “sins”), I only need to recognize the mistake and be willing to let it go.
Again, from Tuesday night’s reading:
I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace.
I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise.
I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.
I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him.
I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me.
Light and joy and peace are mine but I must make the decision to claim them (and accept that God wants me to have them – it is His will).
I am as God created me. This one statement is so important that the lesson is repeated several times throughout the workbook. It is a statement of power and this morning, in the wee morning hours as I lay in bed reading Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work by Michael Michalko, the vastness of that statement struck me. This is a book about creativity and how quickly we discard options that don’t conform to the rules we assume are there. To illustrate this point, Michalko tells of “an interesting experiment, originally conducted by the British psychologist Peter Wason, that demonstrates our tendency not to seek alternatives.
“Wason would present subjects with the following triad of three numbers in sequence.
2 4 6
He would then ask subjects to write other examples of triads that follow the number rule and explain the number rule for the sequence. The subjects could ask as many questions as they wished without penalty.
He found that almost invariably people would initially offer the numbers “4, 6, 8” or “20, 22, 24” or some similar sequence. And Wason would say, yes, that is an example of the number rule. Then they would offer something like “32, 34, 36” or “50, 52, 54” and so on — all numbers increasing by two. After a few tries, and getting affirmative answers each time, they would become confident that the rule involved numbers increasing by two, without exploring alternative possibilities.
Actually, the rule Wason was looking for is much simpler — it entails numbers merely increasing. Examples of valid sequences could be “1, 2, 3” or “10, 20, 40” or “400, 678, 10,944.” And testing such an alternative would be easy. All the subjects would have had to do was offer Wason a sequence like “1, 2, 3” to test it, and it would have been affirmed. Or subjects could have thrown out any series of numbers — for example, “5, 4, 3” — to see if this elicited a positive or negative answer. And that information would have told them a lot about whether their guess about the rule was correct.
The profound discovery Wason made was that most people process the same information over and over until proven wrong, without searching for alternatives, even when there is no penalty for asking questions that give them a negative answer. Incredibly, in his hundreds of experiments, he never had an instance in which someone spontaneously offered an alternative hypothesis to find out if it were true. In short, his subjects didn’t even try to find out if there was a simpler, or even another, rule.”
We make assumptions and then don’t even look outside the box we put ourselves in!
At three o’clock in the morning, this idea was blowing my mind. I was pairing it with “I am as God created me,” and I suddenly got a glimpse of how powerful we are and yet how willingly we toss that power aside.
One of my husband’s and my guilty pleasures is watching Survivor. The producers of the show continuously mix things up to make it unpredictable. Creativity is unpredictable. It is the juxtaposition of two dissimilar elements to create surprise. That is part of what Michalko’s book is about – how to conceptually blend, Michalko says, “The key to creatively generating associations and connections between dissimilar subjects is conceptual blending. This is a creative-thinking process that involves blending two or more concepts in the same mental space to form new ideas.” Why we love Survivor is that it seems skilled at finding contestants who will surprise – who realize that if they want to win the million dollars they better be willing to break the rules. The most boring episode of Survivor to date (in my opinion) was Survivor: Thailand, when Brian Heidik, a used car salesman from California systematically manipulated all the other players to do what he wanted them to do. No one seemed willing to make big moves.
The great moments are when someone decides to defy convention and change the rules. Russell Hanz did that on Survivor:Samoa by finding idols without clues, and the jury did that by deciding they would rather award the goat, Natalie White, the million bucks than give it to Russell who was one of the slyest, most-underhanded players of all time.
My apologies to those of you who don’t watch the show.
Anyway, all of this raises the question: How often in life do we follow rules, conform with expectations simply because it never occurred to us that we could change them?
Our brains are extraordinarily expert at steering us back to conventional wisdom.
For example, Michalko points out how incredibly adept our brains are at categorizing what we come in contact with in terms of the known, and illustrates it with this thought experiment:
“Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosnt mttaer in waht oredr the litteers in a wrod are. The olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a ttoal mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is besauae ocne we laren how to raed we bgien to aargnre the lteerts in our mnid to see waht we epxcet tp see. The huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. We do tihs ucnsolniuscoy.”
Apparently, as long as the first and last letter of a word are in the proper place, our brains are so adept at normalizing, that we are perfectly capable of reading nonsense and understanding what it is supposed to mean. We are hard-wired to search for the known and default to that.
One of the reasons I love the Course so is that it is an iconoclast. I do not know what anything is for is a lesson designed to take us out of what we think we know. I am as God created me is an invitation back to the creative geniuses we were born as before our education corrupted our thinking. As Michalko puts it, “Instead of being taught to look for possibilities, we were taught to look for ways to exclude them. It’s as if we entered school as a question mark and graduated as a period.”
I am as God created me means I am limitless. And that, my friends, scares the ego to death!
Namaste, my friends, Namaste.