Thursday, December 31, 2009
I don’t think it was the Boston qualifying marathon I ran. But I did enjoy telling everyone I had BQ’d.
I don’t think it was the 5:24 50k Frisco 50; or the 1:55 Olathe half marathon.
It could have been one of the mystical runs which took place in the early morning darkness in Atchison. Whether warm or cold, these runs were so magnificent.
It could have been the moment, after 6 hours of the Psycho Psummer, after running 5 hours on a sprained ankle, that I was laying face down in mud on a rock pile realizing that my leg just wasn’t going to hold me up and I’d have to quit at the next aid station.
It could have been the 50k training run I did a week after the Psycho in order to get revenge. I ran 50k on dirt roads in 6 hours. That afternoon, I spent laying on the bed, my legs covered in red splotches of heat rash and ice packs on both knees and ankles.
It could have been the 5 hour run I did in the extreme early morning because it was the day for my long run but I had a telephone interview scheduled at 10 am. I flubbed the interview.
It could have been the 4 hours in the pouring rain and cloudy darkness.
It could have been the 20 mile run where I saw a huge rat snake, a deer, a huge bull frog and a soaring hawk; or the day I faced down a skunk, or watched a sick looking fox, or the bald eagle cruising just above me.
It might have been the exploration run which ended at a dead end in a cow pasture; or the many times I ran down a straight dirt road, between tall corn with five or six deer flies attempting to bite me and cars every now and then dusting me out, with sweat dripping profusely.
It probably was not the 20 mile run I had in Koln, Germany. Except for being in Germany, that run was distinctively boring.
It probably wasn’t the last run I had in the park in Atchison after getting a new job and moving to Kansas City. I had spent 4 or 5 hours a day running in that park all summer while I was laid off; but now, it was the past. My life had moved on.
I don’t think it was the 2 mile run I ran with an extremely bruised toe and a huge pained grimace on my face; which toe had kept me out of the Kansas City marathon.
It could have been the day I had a magnificent open air dump, on top of a levy, surrounded by miles of flat fields and a sun coming up.
Was it the day I counted 20 bunny rabbits?
It could have been the day I ran sixteen 9 minute miles.
It could have been my first exploration run in Riverside; where I discovered a cool patio with a view behind an office building, several fountains, troll gate, the miniature space shuttle to the Northmore Castle, and the Northmore castle itself.
Or really, it was just this morning when I ran 40 minutes on the treadmill. I’m totally grateful for any run, any day, any time. Endorphins are my passion. Give me a stretch of road and I’ll happily run along it for as long as I can.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Some quotes from:
A monk living with another monk is not like a monk living as a solitary. When a monk is alone, he has need of great vigilance and of an unwandering mind. The former is often helped by his brother; but an angel assists the latter. ~ St. John Climacus,
And here are the signs of those who are practicing stillness in the wrong way: dearth of (spiritual) wealth, increase of anger, a hoard of resentment, diminution of love, growth of vanity; and I will be silent about all the rest which follow. ~ St. John Climacus,
He who is sick in soul from some passion and attempts stillness is like a man who has jumped from a ship into the sea and thinks that he will reach the shore safely on a plank. ~ St. John Climacus,
He who wishes to dwell in the solitude of the desert is delivered from three conflicts: hearing, speech, and sight.
He who dwells with brethren must not be square but round, so as to turn himself towards all. ~Poemen
The Lord knows that I love you all, but I cannot speak with God and people at the same time.
~ St. Arsanius the Great
There are many in the mountains who behave as if they were in towns, and they are wasting their time, it is better to have many people around you and to live the solitary life in your will than to be alone and always longing to be with a crowd. ~ Amma Matrona
Thus, when a young brother asked him to recommend whether to live as a solitary or to stay in the monastery, Abba Joseph of Panephysis replied that whichever state brought him peace was to be preferred, and that if he could not decide even then, it should be based on whichever enabled him to make spiritual progress.It is not through virtue that I live in solitude, but through weakness; those who live in the midst of others are the strong ones. ~ Poemen
If you have not first of all lived rightly with others, you will not be able to live rightly in solitude. ~ Abba Lucius
What others think of your life is not as important as what you know about your life in Christ. What you think about your life is not as important as what God knows about your life in Christ. ~ Abiah+
Restrain your desire to mingle with crowds. Crowds of people distract your spirit and disturb your inner peace.
~ Abba Evagrius
Detach yoursel from the enjoyment of crowds or your enemy will challenge your spirit and disturb your peace.
~ Abba Doulas
... the basic motive for choosing the solitary life in a hermitage consists in an existential longing to meet and talk to God. The hermit chooses silence in order to enter fully into a dialogue; (she) chooses solitude in order to meet closely a personal presence. The way of the desert is thus not a stray and arid path, it does not lead to the negation of all the values of the world and of other people. Just the opposite: it is the way of mutual presence, dialogue, and friendship that shines where two freedoms and two hearts, divine and human, meet." C. Wencel
Monday, December 28, 2009
I thought, “I must have learned something from the course or experienced something of a miracle if I believe, or am willing to believe, that the world-as-I-see-it is my dream. Some healing must have occurred.” It may have required reading the ACIM text almost 5 times and the work book twice, but I think I finally took the first step. [Wow! Amazing! Considering ACIM is so far off the religion map, it truly is amazing that I might have learned some of it. Maybe I can gain inner peace after all.]
The ACIM text dryly discusses the dream and the dreamer. I have to get the text into my own heart to know I am learning. My thinking I might have taken the first step framed my thoughts from last night into a context that made sense.
Last night, I thought, “I have held the ‘world-as-I-see-it’ in a strangle hold of hatred and a death grip of fear since ancient times;” all the while attempting to pound it to death with thoughts. Just before thinking this, I realized I was finally able to take my hand off the hot stove of certain social interactions. If I finally let go of the hot stove, I am free. When I realized how I had been trying to strangle the world-as-I-see-it, but that it was not the real world, I somehow did sense the innocence of the real world.
Today I recognized that last night’s thought (the strangle hold of hatred which I could let go and see innocence) was my internalization of ACIM. This morning I realized that “the-world-as-I-see-it” is my own terminology for the dream. Reading a book is interesting but useless if you can’t do what it says. When I work at something long enough to put it in my own words, internalize it, then I know the information did help me progress somehow.
I don’t have to be afraid if I understand that my former hatred has no effects, no payback, no punishments, nothing. It was a dream of hatred. When I sense the innocence of the real world, all around me, I also sense that it is God; and it is God I been trying to choke to death while bashing His head into the ground; and whom I have been afraid of since ancient times. I understand that I hate God because I didn’t know the dream was mine. I feared God because I thought he would know of my hatred and punish me for it.
Really, I admit this! Sit quietly with your thoughts and the Holy Spirit long enough and you’ll admit the same thing. I am not unique, just different in that I do sit quietly with my Teacher and work on my lessons.
“This world is full of miracles. They stand in shining silence next to every dream of pain and suffering, of sin and guilt. They are the dream’s alternative, the choice to be the dreamer, rather than deny the active role in making up the dream. They are the glad effects of taking back the consequence of sickness to its cause. The body is released because the mind acknowledges “this is not done to me, but I am doing this”. And thus the mind is free to make another choice instead. Beginning here, salvation will proceed to change the course of every step. in the descent to separation, until all the steps have been retraced, the ladder gone, and all the dreaming of the world undone.”
I have hope that perhaps I actually am re-tracing my steps to go home.
I apologize that my explanation might not be good enough to strike you with how momentous it is that I might actually understand that I am the dreamer of the dream and that it is just a dream. I realize that what I cut out of ACIM text is out of context and not really understandable without reading the whole book. Also, when I try to explain how bits and pieces have suddenly fallen together for me, it is impossible for me to put it into words in a coherent way without writing a book. So, if my blog confuses you, don’t feel bad.
[Before I started to read the ACIM text the first time, I read a book by Gary Reynard. After reading that book I decided to tackle ACIM. At the outset, I knew I would have to dedicate at least one year to doing the workbook, but that it would take at least 5 years of study to have a good understanding of the material]
I ran 3:25 in bright sunshine, showered and ate a cheese sandwich. Melted cheese sandwiches on sourdough bread qualify as a major food treat for me.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
For something completely different, I spent 3 hours on an indoor endurance event today. I would ride the ex-bike for 5 minutes and then spend 25 minutes on the treadmill (varying speeds between 4 and 6 mph and inclines between 0 and 4%) and then back to the bike. This picture is a view from the treadmill.
I decided to skip the 4 hour drive to Springfield MO to go in a marathon. The roads were messy with snow around Kansas City and for an hour or so further south.
Today is the 4th day of my hermit holiday. My habit was to get up late (7 am or so), study A Course in Miracles for an hour, check the computer, exercise for 3 hours, shower, make fresh juice (apple, carrot, celery and pineapple), eat, play on the computer, read a book, lift weights, read, etc., go to bed at 10.
Yesterday, I blogged about the past decade of my life. Today, I feel ready to let it go and see who I am today.
One of the biggest changes in me is that I feel comfortable without being productive or valuable to society. That is huge! It means I've come a long way in denying my ego power over me.
I did my spiritual study this morning and received a new perception. I learned something from the Holy Spirit. The result is that I can’t remember why I hated. From ACIM 28.I:
- When ancient memories of hate appear, remember that their cause is gone. And so you cannot understand what they are for.
- And see, instead, the new effects of cause accepted now, with consequences here.
- The miracle comes quietly into the mind that stops an instant and is still. It reaches gently from that quiet time, and from the mind it healed in quiet then, to other minds to share its quietness. And they will join in doing nothing to prevent its radiant extension back into the Mind Which caused all minds to be.
- What you remember never was. It came from causelessness which you confused with cause. It can deserve but laughter…
- The miracle reminds you of a Cause forever present, perfectly untouched by time and interference. Never changed from what It is. And you are Its effect, as changeless and as perfect as Itself.
My gift is to have forgotten.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
12/24/99 – I ran away from Kansas City to the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (BSPA). I sought contemplation; but immediately reverted to 4 years of people pleasing in order to get approved to stay. Everyone was worried about Y2K; but I was smug having left the world.
2000 – Lived as a volunteer with the BSPA at Sand Springs until September when I became a postulant and moved to Clyde.
2001 – 2002 – I finished one year of postulancy and began a 2 year novitiate. Somewhere in here, we had 9/11, Enron and the start of the Iraq war. I was smug about the financial disaster because I assumed I was safe in the monastery and guaranteed 3 hots and a cot for life. Reading "A Cave in the Snow" about Tiensin Palmo, I realized that eating meat affects the contemplative life; so I immediately gave up all meat and have not ate a scrap of it since then.
2003 – I completed the two year novitiate and got kicked out of the monastery the day before vows. The day before getting kicked out, I had a spiritual experience of an extraordinary variety whose message was: Love is the predominant mode of existence. The day after getting kicked out, in tears, I asked God, “Why me? Why do I have to leave?” He said, “Because you can deal with the hassles of life while still being contemplative and noticing my Presence. I need someone out here who can do that.” Driving away from the monastery, I realized how deeply I wanted monastic profession to validate me as a worthwhile person. Hence I began a journey of self value not tied to any authority. I moved back to KC and got a job at Panera as a cashier (talk about humility, a professional engineer working at a bagel place). I was active in St Therese parish with RCIA and Befriender’s. Rose was my spiritual guide. I also went to H&R Block tax school and reconnected with Compliance Engineering (part time).
2004 – During the winter, I worked as a tax preparer along with working at Panera and Compliance Engineering. I hated Camden apartment and bought a duplex in Chapel Woods. In October, I started work at MGP. God gave my environmental engineering career back. I cannot argue with this vocation. I have been a licensed Professional Engineer since I was 25, but never recognized it as my "profession."
2005 – Working at MGP. I was struggling with church authority and lust for Fr Mike; who kept putting his hands in places that agitated and confused me. In October, I bought the house in Atchison. I also walked out of church and didn’t go back. I began a solitary struggle with self. I worked through Catholic guilt, practiced fasting, sat on a cushion several hours a day and worked at becoming a solitary Essene.
2006 – Working at MGP. I heard of 3,100 Self Transcendence race and Suprabha Beckjord. I immediately upped my mileage and started running marathons and ultra-marathons. I wanted to find enlightenment in ultra-running.
2007 – Still working at MGP. Running a lot. Discovered A Course in Miracles (ACIM) in July. Fired Rose in September. I credit ACIM with so much emotional progress over the 2 ½ years I have worked with the material. I am not done with my journey but am light years from where I was at as I drove away from the monastery.
2008 – Still working at MGP. Broke my arm in March. Had surgery 3 times. Got a new car. Letting go of Christianity as a religion, it seemed like a massive people pleasing project. I have no problem relating to Jesus my Friend, the Holy Spirit my Teacher and Christ as the mystical divine being, the Son of God of which all humans are.
2009 – Turned 50. Ran a marathon in 3:57 (under 4 hours for the first time in my life). Worked at MGP until June. Laid off for nearly 3 months. Ran an average of 20 miles a day during my layoff. Sorted through my mental and spiritual baggage. Got a new job at Bayer starting in September: Senior Process Safety Engineer. Apartment in KC. Sold the Atchison house. Went to Germany. Bought a new Prius.
- I still get agitated over BSPA. My ego hates that I don’t get to wear the nun credentials on my sleeve.
- I still seek to know God deeper. God has been my quest for all my adult life and I consider myself dedicated to spirituality.
- I run as much as I want. I have the ethos of an athlete, despite never being elite at any sport. The qualities of character which make someone a world class athlete run rampant in me. I have to really watch what I eat.
- I still fear what others think of me and I am a fearful person. Despite magnificent spirituality and emotional growth, I feel like a loser.
- Having spent the past ten years marginalizing myself from ordinary life. I can no longer relate to other people. I still feel under-currents of hate for the unconscious normal people and continuously take my inventory, giving such ill feelings to Jesus.
- I still seek wisdom in solitude. I have an ethos of guilt for my alternative lifestyle (running, contemplative solitude and A Course in Miracles).
- When I remember (and/or decide), I can connect with the Presence of Love; as well as see the Face of Christ in others. I am a person more blessed with the Presence than anyone I have ever met; yet I still hear my ego hammering away at me.
So be it! Life is.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
In my morning meditation today, I read from ACIM 27.III:
- An empty space that is not seen as filled, an unused interval of time not seen as spent and fully occupied, become a silent invitation to the truth to enter, and to make itself at home. No preparation can be made that would enhance the invitation’s real appeal. For what you leave as vacant God will fill, and where He is there must the truth abide.
- Reality is ultimately known without a form, unpictured and unseen.
- In quietness are all things answered, and is every problem quietly resolved.
- ...in your state of mind, solution is impossible. Therefore, God must have given you a way of reaching to another state of mind in which the answer is already there. Such is the holy instant. It is here that all your problems should be brought and left.
- Attempt to solve no problems but within the holy instant’s surety.
Today I ran 1:50 along the levy. It was a driving freezing rain that was painful at first. Going out, one side of my face was frozen. Coming back, the other side was frozen. I peed under the interstate. The Gortex did its job. I did this run because, well whenever I have time, I go running. I'm not particularly tapering for a marathon on Sunday because, well, with snow on the way I'll likely walk on the treadmill tomorrow; and I don't even know if I'll feel like the three hour drive to get to the marathon.
The guy with the book was out there too. This man trudges along reading a book and not looking up at all. Today, he was trudging through the grass on the leeward side, away from the wind, with an umbrella. His blue jeans were sopping up the rain. I don't think he saw me up on the levy, but his dog came and said hi.
I saw a heard of wild turkeys, a couple of cardinals and some other small birds.
I see Christmas all around me but am not angry at it. I have cut ties with the reality of the illusion if I can watch the illusion but not be involved with it. This ambivalence is to be in the world but not of it.
I know some thoughtful people who don't want to do Christmas but do it because of pressure from others; blaming children or parents for their involvement. Peer pressure justifies gang rape too! Others feel like they must give, so they go work at the soup kitchen. Others feel like it is terrible for anyone to be alone and offer loners a place at their table. Others feel the religious necessity of celebrating Jesus' birthday, a holy day of obligation as well. Some loners gather together anyway unable to stand the idea of being alone on Christmas.
I have 5 days in a row off work. Time to be in solitude and silence.
So I have broken free of the ties of peer pressure. It puts me in a vacuum outside the world. I have time and space to listen to the inner Voice. The vacuum is a void where a spiritual reality can flood in to my awareness (even if it is not Christmas this happens). The spiritual reality is quiet. It has no definition related to the material world. It is a place I know, where I exist as an abstraction.
Sitting in my apartment watching the thoughts float through my mind is no different than going out into the world and watching what is going on with other people. Neither the thoughts in my mind nor the world I seem to see around me are real. The spiritual reality, which is real, is eneffable, undefined, abstract, ungrasped, unperceived; yet known. The inner Voice does not speak in words. I invest less of my belief in the material world, thus letting go of judgment, fear, anger, hate and self centeredness. I invest more of my belief in the world of undefined being, existence without limit or terms.
It is somewhat difficult to keep the attention focused on the spiritual world. To be in solitude focused on the spiritual world is the lingering gift of monastic life. Physically divorced from ordinary life while in the cloister, I was never able to return to normal life exactly. I continued my spiritual quest into the Great Beyond, where nothing said in words makes sense.
A muscle twitches, hardens, tightens, holds and lets go.
No one knows.
The count goes to 15; 15….15.
Tighten the laces.
Foot fall after foot fall on the wet pavement.
The swish of nylon plus husky wet breaths.
I can’t see. Slashing arms grip air. I get by.
Another lap, another hill, one more time.
I don’t know why I am out here doing this.
Stamina, endurance, endlessness, driven by madness.
Energy unchanneled, lavishly expended, flung uselessly.
A cocoon of core. A cocoon of distance.
A funeral pyre of objectivity.
Rising, emerging, a chi floating on new fallen snow.
Through the silent woods. Footfall after footfall. I’ve forgotten what was.
I’ve been freed of who was.
Eternal presence, quietly alone.
Identity crucified by the endless distance and north wind.
Mystery strides forth coated in sweat.
Power shrugged at.
Another lap, another hill, one more time.
Solitary, mindful, obstinate unbelief, persevering belief.
Nothing to say, a sneer unsubsumed.
Uncalled for arrogance, prostrate, gasping.
Sacred, holy, an eruption of thought unbridled.
Love unchecked, let go, sprinting.
Phenomenon whispered by the sunlight.
Alone, unlimited, annihilation of identity.
Unqualified existence, being untwisted.
A snowflake soon melted. Silence continues.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
This morning I got up a little early, 3:30. I did my spiritual study which left me empty, no real inspiring thoughts. If I am terriby peaceful and quiet, I recognize emptiness as peace. But this seems to require some spiritual skill and awareness; otherwise we just think God wasn't there and go on with our worldy life. ACIM text 26.II:
- This is your brother, focus of your hate, unworthy to be part of you and thus outside yourself...The Holy Spirit knows your healing is the witness unto his, and cannot be apart from his at all.
- Let yourself be healed that you may be forgiving, offering salvation to your brother and yourself.
- Forgiveness is not real unless it brings a healing to your brother and yourself. You must attest his sins have no effect on you to demonstrate they are not real....that his guilt is but the fabric of a senseless dream.
Then I went for an hour long run on the hills in the rain. I had on my gortex, temps at 34F and no wind. It was a run worth taking. An hour long run doesn't tire the legs at all but does make some endorphins, shuffle the blood around, air out the lungs and freshen the mind.
Then, I zipped up to Mass. They had taken down the Advent colors and put up the Christmas decorations. I wonder why, year after year, the tacky cardboard angels keep showing up on an otherwise very sophisticated layout.
Now, I am at work. The plan is to go to lunch at 11:30 today and not come back until Tuesday. I have no Christmas plans. This year, I won't even claim that I will practice contemplation while the rest of the world eats and opens gifts. If I am contemplative at all, it will be in mindlessness as I practice my zen-like core routine. I'll do some running, reading, writing and sleeping. I'll watch the snow come down and then get out my yak-traks for a snowy run. I'll lay low and not interfere with anyone else's perception of peace on earth.
et en terra, terra pax...
The ACIM story behind fear of God mirrors the creation story but is more about the abstract content. There was a tiny mad idea that asked God for specialness. God doesn't know specialness so didn't give it. The tiny mad idea got mad at God and left heaven; instead trying to make a world where it could be special. Mad at God, the tiny idea feared God and began to hate HIM. The tiny mad idea became afraid of God for its leaving heaven because it thought it took God's power. But in the instant the tiny mad idea thought it left, God undid the thought so the mad idea actually never did anything. This world it thought it made is but a dream. Being a dream made by a guilty fearful mad idea who was filled with hate for itself and the misery it made (no wonder that is how I feel deep down inside).
Really really really, proven by science, thoughts create reality and what I see is what I thought.
But if I accept Atonement for myself, my hate, fear and guilt vanish. I go to live in innocence within God's embrace. I no longer invest this world with reality but ambivalently watch it as a dream, forever seeing the true innocence behind the dream.
The sticking point is continuing to think I see the world and think it is real. The Holy Spirit helps (following from ACIM text 27.I):
- Now in the hands made gentle by His touch, the Holy Spirit lays a picture of a different you. It is a picture of a body still, for what you really are cannot be seen nor pictured. Yet this one has not been used for purpose of attack, and therefore never suffered pain at all. It witnesses to the eternal truth that you cannot be hurt, and points beyond itself to both your innocence and his. Show this unto your brother, who will see that every scar is healed, and every tear is wiped away in laughter and in love. And he will look on his forgiveness there, and with healed eyes will look beyond it to the innocence that he beholds in you.
- The Holy Spirit’s picture changes not the body into something it is not. It only takes away from it all signs of accusation and of blamefulness.
- Into this empty space, from which the goal of sin has been removed, is Heaven free to be remembered. Here its peace can come, and perfect healing take the place of death.
- The Holy Spirit offers you, to give to him, a picture of yourself in which there is no pain and no reproach at all. And what was martyred to his guilt becomes the perfect witness to his innocence.
We all seek a way out of here. And God has given everyone a way out. All the ways involve an end of attack on others, an end of the fear of God and an acceptance of God's unconditional love for us. Having accepted Atonement, we simply step into the embrace and nothing else matters.
If the baby in the manger means anything, it is a symbol of our true innocence; which resides in each one of use. Innocence is our true content and the forms we think we see are delusions made of the fear of God.
Monday, December 21, 2009
This vague sense of intimacy would definitely create a hunger for Mass within my mind. Then it expanded to the guy at the bank, the apartment manager lady, and Georgie (my co-worker's little daughter).
Intimacy with Christ could be seen everywhere; not with the body's eyes but with the intuition. Now if only I could keep the Christ vision permanently.
At this point, if you read this blog often, you might have realized that it is not a fu fu blog about how to be happy and feel good. This blog is not for sissies who only want to hear the good; because the bad and the ugly is what I live with. I have no drama; but a wealth of negativity. It does me no good to read a book on happiness. My best shot is awareness plus surrender.
This is a blog about my daily grasp at spiritual straws in order to keep from killing myself. Any inspiration comes from the fact that I succeed at living each day.
I can't relate when people tell me happiness is a choice; so just chose it. This morning, I could relate to the idea of the Presence of Love. I can pause and call to mind the Presence of Love. I don't ask it for anything or expect anything from it. I just remember it.
Then, I did a core workout and ran 3 miles. I ran 63 miles last week. I'm going to try to take it a little easy this week because I am entered in a marathon next Sunday.
I went to Mass this morning. Sitting there I thought, "I don't have to do anything. I am free." Sweet!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
On the one hand, my ego hammers me un-mercilessly and endlessly with hatred for “them.” On the other hand, the Holy Spirit has given me one “real relationship” with God and is teaching me to live that reality.
This morning, two things happened. A) I realized how full of hatred my lifelong quest for enlightenment has been and how I need to think about what I really do want in the now; which is of myself and not what someone else said. B) I read something in the ACIM text which was beautiful. Yet I knew I was not capable of that thought pattern. But the reading was a tool to unleash a long list of hatreds and grievances which I could give to the Holy Spirit for healing.
“Think but how holy you must be from whom the Voice for God calls lovingly unto your brother, that you may awake in him the Voice that answers to your call! And think how holy he must be when in him sleeps your own salvation, with his freedom joined! However much you wish he be condemned, God is in him. And never will you know He is in you as well while you attack His chosen home, and battle with His host” (26.IX.1).
The brief story of my enlightenment goes like this:
1. Early in my 20s I was reading John of the Cross and his description of the infusion of love and the flight of the soul. I was also reading Thomas Merton and his descriptions of contemplation and what he got out of it. I wanted that personal ecstatic feeling.
2. As I got sober in my mid-20s in AA, I encountered descriptions of the spiritual experience and conscious contact with God. Again, there was the ecstatic release from reality and the ensuing divine wisdom and peace (so I thought). I definitely wanted the escape from reality. I was an emotional basket case.
3. Towards my late 20s, I got involved with some new age spiritual material and followed for a year a man who talked about finding your higher self. I kept going to workshops, doing the meditations and hoping to connect with this higher self. I hoped that I would finally feel loved. I became angry that I never got that feeling and upon discovering my next phase, I quit the meditation.
4. My next phase involved sex and motorcycles. The high point was a hope of love mixed with orgasm. I found a good looking lover and we rode our motorcycles to Madison County Iowa. We commenced to play “The Bridges of Madison County” (a romantic book I had read). The romance was euphoric for a weekend, but we had not the makings of a relationship. In this phase were two other guys I dated for long periods; but I never found that man who would sweep me off my feet, bring me to a castle and I would live safely, in luxury, and in love forever.
5. Then my enlightenment quest got serious because I discovered Zen meditation or Zazen. I began to practice diligently, again hoping for a moment of enlightenment. Zen “sitting” led me to a Christian form of contemplative prayer called Centering Prayer. I found myself back in the same boat as step 1 (above) hoping for the flight of the soul into “contemplation.”
6. Contemplation led to me seeking out a contemplative religious order and attempting to join. I thought that the only way to achieve what I wanted was to live in a monastery and follow a path. I thought that the others ahead of me on the path had found what I was seeking. It turns out not, but I did try to join with every fiber of my being. I practiced “lectio divina,” adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, daily Eucharist, and the Divine Office five times a day. The ecstatic flight of my soul never happened. I became enmeshed in emotional dependency as my daily life began to revolve around the approval of my superiors. I thought mystical union might happen after I made monastic profession, so I practiced people pleasing as much as possible in order to be approved for the mystical marriage. God had other plans for me and I found myself back in the world.
7. As I took up secular life, I felt less than the nuns and was determined to make a spiritual success of myself without the convent and without a guru. I spent hours a day in contemplative sitting. I fasted. I studied spiritual texts from all corners of the globe and prayed with them. I ran ultra long distances because I had read of the spiritual experiences of ultra-marathoners. I wanted to hear an intuitive voice from within who could solve my problems and be the end of the quest.
8. After a few years, I discovered A Course in Miracles and this became my primary spiritual text. I no longer want enlightenment as an ecstatic escape. I no longer want enlightenment in order to be as good as famous authors or vowed religious. I no longer want enlightenment because I am jealous. I no longer want enlightenment so I know God loves me. Enlightenment is not my focus. I want to sort through my hate and have the Holy Spirit heal it; in other words, be free of ego. I want to honestly perceive Christ in my brother; in other words, be free of ego.
God has given me a gift. I want to remember Him and accept His gift in this life. In the mean time, I seem to need to wade through a mountain of negativity. I return several times a day to the contemplative silence and listen to the Voice. IT helps me return to the present where peace is and all my grievances are seen for delusions which can be denied. Realizing my grievances are ego lies, I am able to see glimmers of holiness in my brothers. I can grasp this holy reality for at least awhile. Without going to the silence, I would forget it entirely.
I can’t explain to you why I don’t just instantly accept the Holy Spirit’s healing and never return to my ego hate. I face this insanity in myself and bring it out to the Holy Spirit. Evolved or not, this is where I am at.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
This idea is a light in my darkness as I looked at my negative thinking this morning.
I can't believe I was a nun for 4 years. I cannot really believe I am Roman Catholic and attend Mass frequently. Before I went to the convent, I spent decades trying to find a husband but never connected. It still amazes me because the lack of a husband has in so many ways changed my life's course, freeing me from the misery I would have been as a drunken wife, following in the miserable footsteps of my drunken mother. I can't believe I was an alcoholic 24 years ago. It amazes me I am still a long distance runner and engineer.
My life has been all over the map. The outward images seem disconnected. Running and engineering and my search for God are the common threads. Spirituality is an exercise in ego transcendence. Whatever happens in my life seems tied to ego deflation and the emergence of my spiritual self.
I am attempting to make heads or tails of the “Laws of Healing” (below). I struggle with solitude vs my place in the 12 Step Fellowship and the Church. I think I should go to meetings; yet despite my spiritual work, the meetings upset me and I leave with my ego hysterically hammering me. So I quit going to meetings and I feel much better; but I now feel like I’ve failed ACIM forgiveness. 12 Step meetings for me have taken a place as a spiritual exercise of ACIM forgiveness; they are not for the purpose of recovery or helping others. No wonder they are such a disaster for my ego. I am using them as a mirror and what I see is my own projected hate. I approach them as I would any difficult undertaking: with trepidation and the knowledge that I’m about to have a painful lesson. On the side of Church attendance, I quit going to the big Sunday Masses and attend the quiet weekday Masses because I leave without the ego hammering.
My prayer this morning is for further guidance from my COMPANION. God cannot fail in His purpose so I am assured of healing. I must accept the healing found in the practice of forgiveness. I know my ego is obstinate about this whole issue; but surprisingly, I am getting better. I am far less hateful, fearful and angry than I used to be. I have more inner peace despite the periodic encounters with ego hammering.
The Laws of Healing, excerpted (ACIM text chapter 26.VII):
Forgiveness is the only function here, and serves to bring the joy this world denies to every aspect of God’s Son where sin was thought to rule… Forgiveness takes away what stands between your brother and yourself. It is the wish that you be joined with him, and not apart… What is forgiveness but a willingness that truth be true?... Forgiveness is the answer to attack of any kind. So is attack deprived of its effects, and hate is answered in the name of love.
Salvation, perfect and complete, asks but a little wish that what is true be true; a little willingness to overlook what is not there; a little sigh that speaks for Heaven as a preference to this world that death and desolation seem to rule.
All sickness comes from separation. When the separation is denied, it goes…
Guilt asks for punishment, and its request is granted.
Perception’s laws are opposite to truth, and what is true of knowledge is not true of anything that is apart from it…. What is projected out, and seems to be external to the mind, is not outside at all, but an effect of what is in, and has not left its source…Perception’s laws must be reversed, because they are reversals of the laws of truth.
Cause and effect are one, not separate. God wills you learn what always has been true: That He created you as part of Him, and this must still be true because ideas leave not their source.
The miracle is possible when cause and consequence are brought together, not kept separate…God gave to all illusions that were made another purpose that would justify a miracle whatever form they took. In every miracle all healing lies, for God gave answer to them all as one… The miracle but calls your ancient name, which you will recognize because the truth is in your memory. And to this name your brother calls for his release and yours… Your ancient name belongs to everyone, as theirs to you. Call on your brother’s name and God will answer, for on Him you call.
To use the power God has given you as He would have it used is natural… The gift of God to you is limitless. There is no circumstance it cannot answer, and no problem which is not resolved within its gracious light.
Abide in peace, where God would have you be. And be the means whereby your brother finds the peace in which your wishes are fulfilled…. to bless but one gives blessing to them all as one.
Friday, December 18, 2009
I have not got to the bottom of solitude. I don’t know the answer. I keep trying to write out the answer because my ego wants something to grasp. Yet, solitude is nothing. In solitude, I am nothing. At issue is nothingness. Can God be found in the bleak blank bare? While I am nothing and have nothing, I still hope for God.
This morning in ACIM text, I read something impossibly good; so good my mind snapped up a wall. I had to tell Jesus I don’t believe this could apply to me.
“Where sin once was perceived will rise a world that will become an altar to the truth, and you will join the lights of Heaven there, and sing their song of gratitude and praise. And as they come to you to be complete, so will you go with them. For no one hears the song of Heaven and remains without a voice that adds its power to the song, and makes it sweeter still. And each one joins the singing at the altar that was raised within the tiny spot that sin proclaimed to be its own. And what was tiny then has soared into a magnitude of song in which the universe has joined with but a single voice” (26.IV.5).
I don’t believe I will ever learn enough about Christ vision and seeing Christ in my brother (forgiveness) from my Guide and Teacher, the Holy Spirit. ACIM assures me that God cannot fail and I need not worry about how much I don’t understand. My desire is enough to get me to follow diligently. Following diligently, I will arrive at heaven because God cannot fail.
Then I went to 6:30 am Mass. If no one had told me there is a God, what would I think? I think I would have found my intuitive COMPANION. I go to Mass to watch and listen. I think there must be some intuitive information available which is beyond Catholic belief and the historical evolution. If the Eucharist really is what they say it is, no one would need to go more than once; and no one could go without knowing what it was.
Then I went to Wally World while it was still somewhat uncrowded. Then I went for a 16 mile run. I completed the run at a speed of 9.75 minutes per mile. That is very good considering I weigh about 3 pounds more than I should and I was wearing lots of clothes. It looks like I could do well in the “Run for the Ranch” marathon on 12/27; but I don’t know if I have the energy to drive my butt down to southern Missouri.
Then I went on a shopping spree at Dick’s Sporting Goods. I am a sucker for “Livestrong” clothing.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
+ And all you need to do is but to wish that Heaven be given you (every part of the Son of God whom I am) instead of hell…
+ For what you give to Him (Holy Spirit) is everyone’s, and by your giving it can He ensure that everyone receives it equally.
This comes from a discussion of God’s justice; where no one loses that another may gain, errors are corrected and we all have all. The definition of “error” I will leave for another day. The point I want to make right now is this: I honestly admit that sometimes I hope something bad will happen to another person (or I am glad when it does) because I gain from their misfortune. I appear to have gained innocently because, hey, they just dropped dead, I didn’t kill them. But really, my thoughts did cause the injury. I am the cause, not the effect. I am the projector of the dream of my life and I am the dreamer of my life. This is the brutal situation presented by ACIM. I am responsible for what I project.
But if I am willing to think Heaven for everyone, then we all have it and I find myself in partnership with the Holy Spirit. That is my function.
This wishing of heaven for everyone is a thought I bring into solitude. In solitude, I send heaven to everyone I think of including the general group of humans everywhere. We are one Son of God (Christ has one body). So, if I give to one, I give to all and we all go to heaven. This heaven-giving thought pattern is the condition for remembering God.
+ God cannot be remembered until justice is loved instead of feared.
“Remembering God” has been my quest for decades. Now you know why I love ACIM. It gives me specific tools, teachings and a radically different understanding of this world. All of it works to get me to my goal: God.
This morning, I had a fabulous run of 70 minutes on hills. I felt speedy! Tomorrow, I have a vacation day and it is supposed to snow some. So I get to run in falling snow.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Up at 3:45 for spiritual study, then a 56 minute run which felt fast, then 6:30 am Mass, then to work by 7:15 where I actually worked with intensity and accomplished things today and stayed until 4:45, then a nice drive home with a stop at the store to buy oranges, then a cup of green tea and a game of free cell, then a full free weight and core work out plus 20 minutes on the treadmill doing 1x1s. Now, a salad, a little reading, meditation and sleep.
Work was not seemingly endless. I had no difficult people situations today. I loved my run. I got myself out of lethargy with a tiny mental push to get started on the afternoon workout.
What if this exact thing happened every day, day after day, with very little variation? Monastic life is meant to be just as boring as this, and regular, so the mind goes to God. Sometimes I do really try to moderate optional activities. I do it to get time and mental quiet. Then, I just sit silently in my apartment and await Intuition. As long as I have time to entertain Intuition, I am happy.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I want to live in deep embrace and partnership, one consciousness with the COMPANION. I have wanted this since I was 22. Seeking the oneness is why I’ve done everything else: daily spiritual study (for all those years), learned silent sitting, integrated running into the meditation, used wholistic food and fasting to attune my body to the COMPANION’s vibration pattern, disengaged from society (TV, entertainment, holidays, religion, politics, 12 Step groups, etc.), daily reflection and discussion with the COMPANION.
Ten years ago, I was removed from society totally by going to live in a monastic cloister, for almost 4 years. A Benedictine contemplative community is a group exercise, not solitude; but it does disconnect one from ordinary life.
Five years ago, I became a solitary by default as I lived and worked in the country. I was intentional about solitude and contemplation by this time. Alone for long periods of time, I had to consciously process guilt, hate, anger, shame and fear; or go back to society and avoid these emotions by being busy. Everybody has these but they are usually covered with busyness. We don't recognize that the routine frustrations are evidence of a mountain of hate lying just below the surface of consciousness. Solitude gives you knowledge of that mountain of negative ego emotion.
When you have stayed in solitude and processed the ego emotions for long enough, you become mentally different than the people who never did it; inhabiting a different world as it were. After some time of processing, it becomes impossible to go back. My worst problem with solitude is realizing that I am unable to rejoin society and no one wants for follow me into true embrace with the COMPANION. I’ve had people question why anyone would want to give up their life like this.
So, given the situation, I must find the COMPANION and fully enter His consciousness. To fully embrace and engage a spiritual life and spiritual world, I must fully let go of the ego world and ego emotions and any hope of finding satisfaction in anything other than the COMPANION. The COMPANION is with me always, but I must turn to Him and listen to His Voice; instead of looking back at society and listening to ego.
The COMPANION heals my guilt, hate, anger, shame and fear; if I give it to Him. I begin to live in a world of peace, joy and love, God’s reality. This new world is freedom from ego and reception of God’s gifts. My function becomes a) being an icon of God’s reality, b) projecting God’s reality and c) mirroring God’s reality.
The COMPANION has more to teach me. I am now an urban solitary, beginning a life of acceptance and faith in the COMPANION alone. My journey is still one of emptiness, inactivity and letting go of ego emotions.
Everyone has a path to oneness with the COMPANION. The COMPANION does not belong to me. Everyone walks their path and does their own work, whether they know it or not. The way out of the ego world is much quicker for those who intentionally engage in their process.
This morning, I got up at 6, did spiritual study for an hour (including writing this), cleaned the house, and sat down to type what I wrote. Now, I think it is almost time for running.
Friday, December 11, 2009
I got up at 5 am and had an hour of spiritual study. Then I went to 6:30 am Mass. In Mass, it is very quiet with 30 or so adults scattered throughout a large church. People sit quietly in meditation and are very respectful of the silence. Perhaps we are in awe as we remember the Consciousness of Love which watches over us always. I don't say anything to any one. My body speaks liturgical language too. Today, my mouth spoke only liturgical language until about 11:30, when I spoke to the lady at the license bureau.
I explore silence for silence sake. I don’t choose it out of hate or injury but for the sake of it itself. Maybe I could say that I believe silence is for ego transcendence. The other side of the ego transcendence coin is acceptance of higher truth. Acceptance of higher truth can only happen beyond the ego. Being social bolsters the ego and noises out that which is higher.
There are so many interesting things I find when I consider solitude: the addictiveness of society, the programming undertaken to become social, the peer pressure saying I am wrong, the ego inflation when others praise me, the anger towards others, the judgments of others, the un-productivity of solitude, the worthlessness of the un-engaged solitary. But, I could walk away. I could give the ego and the turmoil up. It is consistent with A Course in Miracles (ACIM) to walk away because it denies the ego illusion and receives inner peace. I can go farther into “losing my life for Christ’s sake.”
ACIM is always reminding me that Christ is within, Christ is very silent. So, am I willing to let go of the world to a greater extent and stand in my truth? I stand naked and alone. Naked because I have no excuses for NOT being social (I am not too busy and I am local); yet, I choose silence. I am not trying to prove anything or be anything (like a monk or contemplative); yet I practice silence. I have a lot to learn.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Why did it take three or four days of prayer and serious awareness practice? I knew on Friday that I had tons of dark anger at the world. I asked Jesus about this even then. I remember even yesterday morning during my spiritual workout, I could not honestly say there was anything good in my mind. I talked to Jesus, asking for help, knowing the darkness was somehow my own decision.
This morning, as I read the text (25.III.6-8) of A Course in Miracles (ACIM), I completely felt open minded and able to look beyond this world to the Christ within (ACIM forgiveness). I realized that if all I do while I am on this planet is correct my negative ego, that is a sufficient life purpose. It isn’t that much fun to carry out this transcendence but the work far exceeds the alternative of going back to unconscious living (which I think would be impossible for me at this point).
Here are some excerpts of what I read. They filled me with hope.
+ The Maker of the world of gentleness (God) has perfect power to offset the world of violence and hate (my ego world) that seems to stand between you and His gentleness.
+ Everyone here has entered darkness, yet no one has entered it alone…. For he has come with Heaven’s Help within him (the Holy Spirit), ready to lead him out of darkness into light at any time.
+ And when he chooses to avail himself of what is given him, then will he see each situation that he thought before was means to justify his anger turned to an event which justifies his love. He will hear plainly that the calls to war he heard before are really calls to peace. He will perceive that where he gave attack is but another altar where he can, with equal ease and far more happiness, bestow forgiveness (see the holiness beyond the body). And he will reinterpret all temptation as just another chance to bring him joy.
Yesterday, it would have been impossible for me to nod my head at all. I knew this was right, but I was completely unable, by myself, to believe I could practice seeing the light. I take responsibility. The decision to see light or darkness is mine. I wanted to choose light, but somehow felt that I wasn’t. I felt insane and out of control of my own mind. I felt an inner insistence that the world was real, that it was full of fat meat-eaters whom I hated, and that nothing would ever change in my own mind. The only solution was to withdraw into my hermitage and interact as little as possible.
Today, my mind is full of light. I feel completely capable of accepting Heaven’s Help and see only holiness. I still can’t say why it took me four days to feel genuine about this; but Jesus would say time is not real and not linear so don’t worry about it.
I accept the job of continuing to correct my thinking, with Heaven’s Help.
Today, I ran 40 minutes on the treadmill. I hope I survive a snowstorm; my first since moving back to the city. I changed my blog template to simplicity.
Monday, December 7, 2009
"When we developed still more, we discovered the best possible source
of emotional stability to be God Himself. We found that dependence
upon His perfect justice, forgiveness, and love was healthy, and that
it would work where nothing else would." TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 116
The meeting turned into a meeting on lonliness because 99% of the 30+ people there do not sit in silence and meditate; hence, they don't use God for emotional stability. They seek out the 12 step fellowship when they are having a tough time.
I've found that only going into my hermitage and sitting silently with God, listening to the Voice for God, will help me when I am in emotional turmoil. Since it is usually other humans that disturb my ego; it makes sense to me that bringing the ego to the silence of God is the only remedy.
But even if not, I cannot really have an indepth conversation with most people because I have intentionally marginalized myself over the past ten years. I don't like to discuss things at the level of the material world. I like to discuss them from the perspective of the realm of the spirit or according to A Course in Miracles. So I am beyond human aid because the responses most people give me to anything I say are not at the level I'm looking for.
Since I am beyond human aid, God is my Source, Teacher, Councilor and Guide. Once God becomes The One, it makes no sense to go read a self help book or a scripture commentary or obey some religious rule. These things are probably not telling you what the Voice for God is telling you. They are always a filter between you and the Voice for God. It doesn't mean that the Holy Spirit cannot use them, but the effectiveness of direct communication is so much more.
Most people don't trust themselves to obtain direct guidance. I wish they would just give it a try for a few years. They would find that the ability will develop into a vital sixth sense which will come through at every instance.
It has been years since I was able to relate to anyone face to face. I am only now coming to accept that this is my choice and to be expected and don't sweat it. I still need to progress in the Course in Miracles teaching that the world is an illusion and that bodies are not required for relationship. (Serious topic I won't try to explain at this time).
So I go to solitude and silence. My ego wants to yell at me about the other people. Unconsciously, I believe my ego's yammering judgments about the other people. When I am conscious, I go to Jesus and say, "Jesus, I believe my ego even though I know better than to judge. I admit that this insanity is in my mind but I cannot get out of my thinking by myself. Please help me." What I immediately heard was, "Stop listening to your ego. Seek the silence." STOP listening to the wrong voice....duh! That was easy, but I had to go into my hermitage and seek silence in order to hear this.
Saturday, I had a nice 20 mile run. Yesterday a nice 11 mile run. This morning, I decided to run on the sidewalk because the road was icy. I tripped over a crack! Fell down anyway! (No serious damage). So, it is supposed to snow tonight and tomorrow. It means that outdoor running for the next two or three months will be chancy depending on footing. Yes, I have all the equipment like screwed shoes, yak trak and spikes. None of these a totally dependable. So, the treadmill gets used alot more. It is because of the weather that I have not signed up for the Run for the Ranch Marathon on 12/27; I just don't know if I'll even feel like making a three hour drive!
Thursday, December 3, 2009
- And where is God Himself but in that part of Him He set forever in your brother’s holiness, that you might see the truth about yourself…
- Your brother’s holiness is sacrament and benediction unto you.
- The Christ in you can see your brother truly.
- Choose then his body or his holiness as what you want to see.
Throughout the ages and in various religious, life and mental contexts, there are people who have discovered Christ consciousness and practiced Christ vision. I say Christ, whereas someone else might say Buddha or Atman or Tao or Self. The word is not important the content is important.
I fervently want to be one of the ones who allows Christ to be my predominant mode of consciousness. It means giving up my selfish thoughts, opinions and attitudes. It means being honest about my self centered fear. Above all, it means seeing my brother as Christ, no matter what his body is doing. There is no chance of me finding the Christ in me if I point my finger at my brother and name his faults. No chance.
It means letting go of my ego consciousness and letting God consciousness be in front. I realize thinking with God is a totally different way of thinking and being than I am right now. I am willing to keep up the spiritual study, personal inventory and meditation in order to achieve Christ consciousness. Jesus waits for me to let go.
It is in the silence of my apartment and my soul where I go to think such lofty thoughts and fervently pray for such a life. It is in the depths of silence where Christ whispers to me and helps me. Christ wants me to succeed at ego deflation more than I could ever know. It is in the surrender of ego that all the powers of Heaven enter my life. What greater thing? Why would I miss the experience of total oneness with God? Only if I valued brotherly hate more than brotherly love. Believe me, if I hate my brother’s driving, I hate him and that is my choice. I fervently work on going the other way: allowing Christ in me to behold holiness in my brother and nothing else.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
When I am at Mass, I sit to the side by the box which holds Jesus.
This morning, a funny thing happened. I was thinking that if I am going to frequent daily Mass, I should get a book which has the Mass readings for this liturgical year because I can't understand the readers very well and one of the priests is ESL, so I can't understand him at all. Then, I saw in the pew in front of me that someone had left a daily Mass book for the first quarter. No telling when that book got left there, but not at this Mass.
Ummmm...yes...I stole it!