Opening to the Possibility

What Would You Do If You Knew You Couldn't Fail?

Lesson 208 — The Path: It’s All Practice

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OMG! This is the perfect lesson for today, a day when we could be tempted to make ourselves miserable over something that happened that changed the direction we thought we were going to take. Instead of making myself bad or guilty, instead of blaming, we are choosing love and peace. The path is messy, but when you consciously choose to just love what is, even what went wrong becomes a joy. This is the practice and it is perfect. From last year’s writing:

Lesson 188

The Practice

Each day is practice.  Though I improve, it continues to be practice.  Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers proposed that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master at it (90 minutes a day for yearly 20 years).  Many experts disagree with that, and in this day and age of hacks, that’s likely true, but nonetheless, it takes practice to become proficient.  So I must remind myself that today’s review of lesson 188, The peace of God is shining in me now, isn’t necessarily a proclamation of how I feel when I hear the lesson so much as it a reminder of the truth.  I’m pretty good at this stuff but I am definitely still learning and part of practicing is reminding myself that it is okay that I don’t actually feel that way in this moment.

It’s all practice.

Sigh.

Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all. 

Intellectually, I know this.  I even manage to dance with the realization here and there, but darned if the habit of ego isn’t entrenched!  I think the trick is to make the new practice stronger than the old habits.  It’s not easy.  At least, my experience of it isn’t.  I am good at some stuff.  I’ve learned not to fly off the handle.  Not that much triggers me with other people, but the internal stuff, the battle with resistance still continues.  I stop and play one quick game and two hours later, I look up from my trance.  It takes just a taste to suck me back.

I understand why most alcoholics can’t become moderate drinkers.

Patterns, habits, practice: even the “positive” aspect called practice is really just about establishing new patterns.  That’s how entrenched I am in not being present.  Even my “practice” is just a way of learning to default to healthier patterns.

Today’s lesson:

Lesson 208

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

(188) The peace of God is shining in me now.

I will be still, and let the earth be still along with me. And
in that stillness we will find the peace of God. It is within
my heart, which witnesses to God Himself.

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

The trick is gentleness, at least that’s what I tell myself.  When I have been less than I know I could be, when I have defaulted to the bad habits instead of feeling good in the practice, the inclination is to beat myself up, to revert to being punitive, to feeling bad.

It’s a waste of energy.  It’s just a way of staying stuck.  It’s not who I want to be.

“We practice coming nearer to the light in us today. We take our wandering thoughts, and gently bring them back to where they fall in line with all the thoughts we share with God. We will not let them stray. We let the light within our minds direct them to come home. We have betrayed them, ordering that they depart from us. But now we call them back, and wash them clean of strange desires and disordered wishes. We restore to them the holiness of their inheritance.”

It’s like meditation.  I do it badly, but the judgment is irrelevant.  It’s not about the judgment, which is just a lousy ego attempt to keep me from meditating, the importance lies in the practice.

Even this is useful.  Even this is holy.  Even slipping into old habits is the path.  The ego, which wants to make separation real, ties to convince me that this is not the path.  If I buy into that, then I have bought into illusion, made an artificial line in the sand and acted as if it was truth.  Illusion cannot be truth.

It is all part of the practice.

We take our wandering thoughts, and gently bring them back to where they fall in line with all the thoughts we share with God.

Choose again.

The ego is the keeper of conflict: conflict with others and also conflict with ourselves.  But I do not know what anything is for.

1 Prepare you now for the undoing of what never was. If you already understood the difference between truth and illusion, the Atonement would have no meaning. The holy instant, the holy relationship, the Holy Spirit’s teaching, and all the means by which salvation is accomplished, would have no purpose. For they are all but aspects of the plan to change your dreams of fear to happy dreams, from which you waken easily to knowledge. Put yourself not in charge of this, for you cannot distinguish between advance and retreat. Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures, and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success.”

It all comes down to the ego’s persistent attempt to make separation real.  It does this by comparing, by judging.  Duality is the ego’s creation.  God just is and the idea of things being one way or another are based on ego’s assessment, on judgment.  (Lesson 2: I have given everything I see [on this street, from this window, in this place] all the meaning that it has for me.)  So even the idea of being off-track, not where you should be is meaningless.  If everything is God, if reality is Love, how could you be anywhere other than just exactly where you are meant to be?

We said before that the Holy Spirit is evaluative, and must be. He sorts out the true from the false in your mind, and teaches you to judge every thought you allow to enter it in the light of what God put there. Whatever is in accord with this light He retains, to strengthen the Kingdom in you. What is partly in accord with it He accepts and purifies. But what is out of accord entirely He rejects by judging against. This is how He keeps the Kingdom perfectly consistent and perfectly unified. Remember, however, that what the Holy Spirit rejects the ego accepts. This is because they are in fundamental disagreement about everything, being in fundamental disagreement about what you are. The ego’s beliefs on this crucial issue vary, and that is why it promotes different moods. The Holy Spirit never varies on this point, and so the one mood He engenders is joy. He protects it by rejecting everything that does not foster joy, and so He alone can keep you wholly joyous.”

It has become something of a running joke in our Tuesday Night ACIM group that every time there is something we don’t know how to deal with, any sort of conflict, or confusion, we “turn it over to the Holy Spirit.”  Ego wants to step in and criticize this maneuver as if you were a pansy who couldn’t make a decision, but it is really the only sensible choice.  Until we learn to think only as God thinks, we need help for.  “The ego is therefore capable of suspiciousness at best and viciousness at worst.”

A Course in Miracles

The ego does not love you

Yeah, I need help.

Of course, the longer I practice, the clearer it becomes: ego is insane, so why I would listen to anything is says is a mystery.  It tells me I am something I am not.  It tries to persuade me to ignore the Voice of Love in favor of its voice (the voice of fear), and it is constantly whispering lies based on a lame attempt to make illusion real.

Yup.  It’s all just practice.  Studying Buddhist teachings helps me.  In Start Where You Are, Pema Chodron says, “Maybe you’ve heard that the Buddha is not out there; the Buddha is within.  The Buddha within is bad and good coexisting, evil and purity coexisting; the Buddha within is not just all the nice stuff.  The Buddha within is messy as well as clean.  The Buddha within is really sordid as well as wholesome – yucky, smelly, repulsive we well as the opposite: they coexist.

“This view is not easy to grasp, but it’s helpful to hear.  At the everyday kitchen-sink level, it simply means that as you see things in yourself that you think are terrible and not worthy, maybe you could reflect that that’s Buddha.  You’re proud of yourself because you just had a good meditation and because you’re having such saintly thoughts.  That’s Buddha too.”

Ego wants to separate the “good” from the “bad.” (I personally this it’s just an excuse to judge!)

When I get over thinking that enlightenment is “out there.”  When I recognize that “Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all,” then I can accept what is; I can accept myself in all my human messiness.  I practice and no matter how bad my practice is, I am still exactly where I “should” be.  Here.  On the path.

Namaste, my friends, Namaste.

 

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