Sunday, January 30, 2011

Freezing Rain Fear

From the ACIM Text, 8.IX: "Wrong perception is the wish that things be as they are not...All forms of sickness, even unto death, are physical expressions of the fear of awakening...The decision to wake is the reflection of the will to love, since all healing involves replacing fear with love."

I put the title on this blog, because a winter storm is on the way. Driving in bad weather is really stupid. Yet employers expect their show to go on, so off to work I'll go.

My long run yesterday (28 miles) on bumpy rock hard ice tired me out. Today, I got the core and free weights done first, then 2 hours on the ex-machines, then another 2 hour run on hills.

Running 6 hours is definitely hard on the legs, but some days harder than others. However, I learned that nothing replaces the pain of ultra-running. I'll still have to develope a brain which doesn't try to evaluate the pain. I also learned that even when I think I can't, I can if I just take one more step. The problem is, when is the next step too far?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

LSD Saturday in Parkville

Luckily, I got home from my business trip at a reasonable time yesterday evening and even got in a workout. It is January in the mid-west. We are having a mid-winter thaw. Most of the snow is melted. I think I will try a long run today: jogging for hours.

I did my spiritual workout this morning. Yesterday's post included this line from 8.VIII of the text, "You must have noticed an outstanding characteristic of every end that the ego has accepted as its own. When you have achieved it, it has not satisfied you. That is why the ego is forced to shift ceaselessly from one goal to another, so that you will continue to hope it can yet offer you something."

This line is why I don't either set running/racing goals or keep trying to do bigger and bigger challenges. Attaining such a goal is an ego decision and it only feels satisfied for a brief period before it wants more. On the other hand, I do achieve awesome race results when I let the Holy Spirit decide for me. I do the training and let go of the result. Or really, my focus is my desire for love-based thinking; and the Holy Spirit arranges for lessons in that.

I had a moment of love based thinking yesterday. I was sitting next to a young kid on the flight from Atlanta to KC. He seemed not to have been on an air plane before and was dressed in a typical young black stereotype. I helped him put his jacket up. I noticed during the flight he kept looking at his cell phone but I did not tell him to turn it off. As we got near landing he looked out the window and then turned to me with this marvelous look on his face and asked, "Is that snow?"

After landing, he got on his cell phone and talked to someone named "Coach" and gave a description of what he was wearing. I noticed he had on a Tiger sweat jacket. After hanging up, I asked him if he was going to Mizzou. He smiled proudly and said yes. I got all teared up like that was my own son. Even now, I teared up again. I am not separate from that young black kid who had never been out of Florida and was looking at going to college and playing football. I wished him luck.

Inside us, we have God's Majesty. So awesome to feel its power and magnificence. I can live in a world where all I see is this majesty. It manifests in a kid dreaming of football and a mature white lady with her career and running dreams. Its not the dream, but the spirit which is important.

So returning to the ACIM text, this morning I read this, "When you lay the ego aside, it will be gone. The Holy Spirit’s Voice is as loud as your willingness to listen."

I keep learning to listen to the Holy Spirit. He is the Voice for God. He speaks quietly and second, after the ego's shouting and insistent urging.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Charleston Friday to Kansas City Friday

Is there really a problem with sitting in an airport?

I read this in A Course in Miracles 8.VIII this morning: "Attitudes toward the body are attitudes toward attack. The ego's definitions of anything are childish, and are always based on what it believes the thing is for. This is because it is incapable of true generalizations, and equates what it sees with the function it ascribes to it. It does not equate it with what it is. To the ego the body is to attack with. Equating you with the body, it teaches that you are to attack with. The body, then, is not the source of its own health. The body's condition lies solely in your interpretation of its function. Functions are part of being since they arise from it, but the relationship is not reciprocal. The whole does define the part, but the part does not define the whole. Yet to know in part is to know entirely because of the fundamental difference between knowledge and perception. In perception the whole is built up of parts that can separate and reassemble in different constellations. But knowledge never changes, so its constellation is permanent. The idea of part-whole relationships has meaning only at the level of perception, where change is possible. Otherwise, there is no difference between the part and whole.

The body exists in a world that seems to contain two voices fighting for its possession. In this perceived constellation the body is seen as capable of shifting its allegiance from one to the other, making the concepts of both health and sickness meaningful. The ego makes a fundamental confusion between means and end as it always does. Regarding the body as an end, the ego has no real use for it because it is not an end. You must have noticed an outstanding characteristic of every end that the ego has accepted as its own. When you have achieved it, it has not satisfied you. This is why the ego is forced to shift ceaselessly from one goal to another, so that you will continue to hope it can yet offer you something."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Charleston Thursday - Off the Hook

Methylisocyanate. There, I said it. Phosgene. Thats the other bad word. I've been wearing a phosgene badge all week, and arguing with people about what is acceptable for startup of the MIC unit.

I mentioned this morning how I've had a relationship issue on my mind. Since Sunday, I've had this low grade spiritual sickness of fear and guilt. This sort of mental problem is exactly what A Course in Miracles is good at. I'd say that without the Course, I'd be a flaming mess. And I am not a Course failure just because I am not perfect yet. I am a learner, and still dealing with blockages to the learning goal.

This evening, after skipping dinner and going to the hotel gym, I sat down and glanced at the Text 8.VII. My eyes brushed the most astounding paragraph: "Do not allow yourself to suffer from imagined results of what is not true. Free your mind from the belief that this is possible. In its complete impossibility lies your only hope for release. But what other hope would you want? Freedom from illusions lies only in not believing them. There is no attack, but there is unlimited communication and therefore unlimited power and wholeness. The power of wholeness is extension. Do not arrest your thought in this world, and you will open your mind to creation in God."

The bolded part is what touched me. I remembered truth: this world is an illusion and it can't hurt me. It is impossible for me to be guilty because I haven't done anything (and neither have you). And, I get to freedom in God by thinking beyond this world (talk about thinking outside the box, eee gads).

Thursday in Charleston - Spiritual Workout

It helps me to remember my litany:

Father in Jesus' name remind me of
Your love for me and of my love for You.

If I am afraid I am deceived.
I am spirit. Know this need not be.
Fear is lack of love. Atonement heals.
Expanding love is my reality.
I am not alone. Jesus is here.
Jesus is the undoing of the dream.
The Holy Spirit is the choice for God.
I hear Him speak quietly in my mind.

In the holy instant I forgive.
Miracles come forth as love expressed.
Giving and receiving are the same.
Full appreciation is my gift.
The innocent see perfection truly.
Christ vision is their one and only sight.
My mind holds only light and shines is out.
I see God's majesty in all others.

God is not symbolic. He is fact.
His peace cannot be shaken. I am free.
Into His hands I commend my spirit.
And so my mind awakens to His peace.

Truth is my commitment. I am joy.
Love is my intention so I bless.
Love based thinking is my one desire.
Inner peace is what I really want.

Much of this is not understood unless someone has studied A Course in Miracles. But anyone can understand the relief and happiness available to the person who has relinquished all to God and wants only love based thoughts. Truly we have escaped from the ego world if we change our thoughts to the Holy Spirit's thought system.

The mind can be used to think beyond the body. If the mind stops at the body, it is blocked. Removing the blocks is what spiritual practices are for.

From 8.VII: "To communicate is to join and to attack is to separate. How can you do both simultaneously with the same thing and not suffer? Perception of the body can be unified only by one purpose. This releases the mind from the temptation to see the body in many lights, and gives it over entirely to the One Light in Which it can be really understood...Learning must lead beyond the body to the re-establishment of the power of the mind in it."

I did my spiritual workout this morning. I have been taking a break from running and serious training. I've decided it is good to have a mid-winter break for physical rejuvenation.

The Body as a Means of Communication - Charleston Wednesday Eve

It is probably like a TV show: 8 members of the audit team in a meeting room with at least that many auditee representatives. We are discussing audit findings late into the evening. Not everyone keeps their temper.

I appear calm and I am. I am doing my part facilitating discussions and clarifying results.I actually have outside issues which are bothering me. It is because of my emotions that I need this Course.

But so often, Course students are discouraged, wondering when they will be perfect enough to never make any errors in their relationships, never get angry or be afraid. But of course, we wouldn't need the Course if we never made an error. It is the ego that wants perfection.

Jesus says, "Whenever the reaction to learning is depression, it is because the true goal of the curriculum has been lost sight of." Guided by the Holy Spirit, the body can become a means to return to the consciousness of spirit. Devotion to God can replace devotion to the ego. The Voice for God, the Holy Spirit, abides in it and directs the use to which it is put.

I am happy if I don't judge the use to which the Holy Spirit directs me.

The Treasure of God - Charleston Wednesday

When I am out of town, I usually need to sleep more; especially if surrounded by colleagues all day. Our work as an audit team for the startup up of a highly hazardous unit has been productive so far. Yesterday evening, I did have a great workout in the hotel. I think a few days off from running is a good idea also.

Big plug for the TRX exercise system. You can get a great hotel room workout with that.

The treasure of God is His Son. Not just Jesus; but we, all of us, are the one Son. Jesus is devoted, even today, to helping us realize how holy and beloved we, the Son, are. It is me that doesn't understand this. We are God's being; not separate. But we are not bodies. God is thought and we are thought. "The journey to God is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always and what you are forever. It is a journey without distance..."

Now I move to the next section: 8.VII - The Body as a Means of Communication

This part talks about using the body to attack instead of communicate. I wonder if I will ever reach a state of inner peace so calm that I do not attack others (either verbally or in thought). So I need the Holy Spirit and here is the core of his help: "To communicate with part of God Himself is to reach beyond the Kingdom to its Creator, through His Voice (the Holy Spirit) Which He has established as part of you."

I really want God and inner peace, so I keep working on this.

" can perfectly accomplish His holy Will for you when you accept it for yourself."

"Thought cannot be made flesh except by belief, since thought is not physical. Yet thought is for communication, for which the body can be used." And so in my rudimentary way, I control my thoughts and use them for communication/prayer, by repeating my litany.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Treasure of God - Charleston Tuesday

Ultra Monk's Log - On the road in Charleston

The spiritual workout happens. That impresses me. I slept in today and didn't work out before work. This afternoon I had a creative hotel workout in Charleston, WV. But the spiritual workout did happen this morning.

The title of this blog is related to the chapter I am reading in A Course in Miracles text (8.VI).

"Forget not the Kingdom of God for anything the world has to offer." And suddenly I find myself off the hook for a mistake I made relating to another person. Apologies and hopes for pardon from that other person aside, Atonement reminds me that it only happened in my dream of this world. In the Kingdom, I am at peace. So I sit quietly and let Jesus assure me I am free in God. I shift my identification, existence and consciousness towards the Kingdom. Running and endorphins aside, I live in peace by the power of the Kingdom.

"You cannot behold the world and know God. Only one is true."

"No one created by God can find joy in anything except the eternal....because nothing else is worthy of him." I make mistakes here in my illusion. I can think I am guilty; but if I do, I've listened to the ego and not the Holy Spirit. "Case dismissed," is what the Holy Spirit says. No one can be guilty for a dream.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Sick Mind

Today, as usual, I went running. I wanted to run on the levy; thinking I could run where there wasn't much snow and more or less zone out for a few hours. But I found that the wind had blown foot tall drifts every 4 or 5 feet. Crunching through drifts is hard work and tedious running. After 2h15, I abruptly became disinterested and headed for the car, finishing my workout on the ex-machines.

After 40 min on the treadmill and 28 min on the nordic track, I had a startling relevation about the series of thoughts which had been in my mind. I was even astounded to see that this entire years of blogs is intent on one thing: selling you on the idea that I am spiritual, loved by God, and living a very interesting and worthwhile life while your life is stupid, unconscious and worldly.

It feels good to realize how sick my thinking is. and Jesus gives me a way out. If I admit the truth, he shines away the darkness with his light. Truly, I don't want to leave such insidious egotism festering in my sub-conscious.

In chapter 8 of A Course in Miracles text. Jesus makes some astounding offerings. Do I want what he offers? Jesus practically begs us to join him.

  • "I am come as a light into a world that does deny itself everything...
  • I said that I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. That is why I am the light of the world. If I am with you in the loneliness of the world, the loneliness is gone...
  • If my light goes with you everywhere, you shine it away with me...
  • If you will accept the fact that I am with you, you are denying the world and accepting God...
  • My will is His, and your decision to hear me is the decision to hear His Voice and abide in His Will...
  • If you want to be like me I will help you, knowing that we are alike. If you want to be different, I will wait until you change your mind...
  • I can teach you, but only you can choose to listen to my teaching...
  • I will always remember you, and in my remembrance of you lies your remembrance of yourself. In our remembrance of each other lies our remembrance of God...
  • Let the Love of God shine upon you by your acceptance of me...
  • By joining your mind with mine you are signifying your awareness that the Will of God is one...
  • To join with me is to restore His power to you because we are sharing it. I offer you only the recognition of His power in you, but in that lies all truth...
  • When you unite with me you are uniting without the ego, because I have renounced the ego in myself ...
  • Our union is therefore the way to renounce the ego in you. The truth in both of us is beyond the ego...
  • I go before you because I am beyond the ego. Reach, therefore, for my hand because you want to transcend the ego...
  • My strength will never be wanting, and if you choose to share it you will do so. I give it willingly and gladly...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Mystery of Ultra-running

I am always trying to figure out why I want to run 50 miles.

So I say, "If I had no one to tell that I did this, why would I do it?" I mention taking other people out of the equation because that is where my ego becomes involved. In my opinion, running ultras for the purpose of saying you ran an ultra feels good to the ego, but may not be serving spirit.

I think it is spirit which drives the training process.

Last night, Friday night, I worked out in my home gym for 4 hours. This workout had the effect of tiring out my legs. Then today, I jogged for 4h38 min up and down hills. I was tired as I got started; but no running injuries. Mentally, I was thinking I would have to quit. I didn't think I could make myself do those hills for very long. I kept thinking of ways to get away from the hills. But the flatter roads had too much traffic and the sidewalks are snow covered. So I stayed on the hills where I could run on the roads but only face a little residential traffic.

It was a good time to wonder why I want to run ultras. Mentally, I stared at the blankness I got for an answer. But now later, I thought, "I run to the furthest reaches on my physical capability, a fringe world along the edge of a mental and physical cliff, where I gaze into the infinite abyss of non-reality." Then, I come home, re-group and do the same thing in my meditation. There is not much physical challenge to sitting still with eyes closed. There is the mental exercise of staying focused inward, continuing the gaze into infinity.

I don't have to exist in either of these conditions. The world around me disappears; losing its meaning before something greater. I return to the primordial where I have no resentments, fears, desires.

My ultra running is not really about belt buckles. My marathons are not about Boston Qualification or age group awards. Those things are not even icing on the cake. They are distractions from the Real. The spiritual is the Real.

I want to experience the Real. I want to exist in Real consciousness. For this reason, I continue my quest for knowing God in THIS lifetime.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How Do You Know You Know?

Yesterday, I was pondering a bit about the results of my 30 years of seeking God and my commitment to continue.

This morning, during my spiritual workout, I realized that if I have even a glimmer of understanding that I live in an atmosphere of total love, then I know that I know God.

Then I went out for a run in fresh snow, 1h52min in 13F/10mph wind. It was glorious to be out there doing that. It can't be beat. So incredible.

After that, as I was getting ready for my shower, I flashed once again on the consciousness of love in which I live and have my being. My being is one with this love. I said thank you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Maintaining the Spiritual Life

Why do people get involved with spirituality?

I began because I felt called by God. No really. In pretty much one day, I went from a person with no interest to a person who thought there might be something to the observed belief in God which I saw in others, plus a desire to know God myself. But that was 30 years ago.

What about now? I want to know God now because I want a consciousness which is not just hate and anger at other people. You do realize that most of us have no consciousness other than figuring out how to supply our own needs without too much bother from others. So if I am going to spend my time on spirituality, then the value I hope to get is a spiritual consciousness, a spiritual awareness which helps me see things differently.

It is hard to remain loyal to the spiritual life if you have no tangible proof that there even is a spirit. It is easier to remain loyal if you are involved in religion. I am sure that St Benedict knew this and that was why he had monasteries. In fact, as I was getting kicked out of the monastery, I was terribly afraid that I would lose Jesus if I left that protected environment.

In the monastery, and in church, we have religion, but not necessarily God.

So after 30 years, what do I have now? I asked myself this question as I was skiing on my Nordic Track this morning. This topic was on my mind because I realize that it is up to my to put the energy into a spiritual program or I won't have one. I have no proof of the existence of God. I don't even have a great testimonial. All I have is a driving urge which has lasted for 30 years; even without the monastery.

So after 30 years, what do I have now? I really do a great job getting along each day. People like and appreciate me. I feel good most of the time.

I make an effort to plan God time every day. I don't want bright lights. I don't want to be saved. I want God consciousness, which I do seem to have if I want it enough to both choose it and work on whatever-in-me-blocks it.

This blog is a very hum-drum account of my spiritual life. I think hum-drum is the best spiritual path because I know for sure my ego would not choose it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Becoming Ultra

You might call me an ultra runner. I have run ultra marathons. But I consider myself just barely qualified for the designation. I probably never will run 100 miles. But as I have mentioned in the past, I fully intend to figure out how to reel 50 miles closer into my training envelope; so I can do them without total body destruction. I don't know if this is possible.

This weekend, starting with a 3 hour workout on Friday night, I ran 48.25 miles plus 2 hours of cross training. I spent 12.25 hours total. I did do some suspended crunches and planks and v-ups on the TRX also. I'm hoping to increase the time cross training next weekend.

Today's run was on the levy. It was flat and windswept, so I ran on frozen gravel. Out and back 4 times. Just me and the geese. No other people. No turkeys. No deer. No cars.

As I was running I thought: in the entire world, there are very few actual ultra runners. There are very few women ultra runners. I happen to be one of them. Most people think I should stop pretending I'm an athlete, and treat my career as the most important thing in my life. Or, stop running as much and do something more productive for society.

If it is not your thing, I can't really explain why spending most of the day on Saturday and Sunday running is a good or desirable activity. If it was hiking in beautiful mountains, you might understand. But no, my scenery is very boring. I realized today that I am living in a different world: the ultra realm.  Its not just that I have no friends or family or responsibilities. It is inconceivable to most people that running all day is what I LIKE to do. I think my whole attitude about endurance is different because I'm not aiming toward a goal race and I have no schedule. So I don't do speed work. I don't go by proscribed mileage. I just go as long as I can and have time for.

As I approached my 52 birthday, I decided that this year would not be the year I lay down and die. And suddenly I found that I can jog all day every day if I want.

It takes me over 2 hours of running to get to the ultra consciousness. When I get there, my body has no pains. I'm jogging at a low impact pace which I can carry on for hours. Sometimes I am repeating a spiritual phrase. Sometimes I am empty minded. I sense that my thinking about myself an endurance is changing, growing, going deeper.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

ACIM Forgiveness

Yesterday evening, I worked out for 3 hours on my ex-machines. Then today, I jogged for 5 hours. During my jog, I spent substantial time practicing ACIM forgiveness.

Am I ready to discuss ACIM forgiveness? It finally seems clear to me.

First, some Course principles:
a) This world is an illusion of the ego. The ego is a tiny mad idea that thinks it is separate from God. Everything you see with your body’s eyes, including your body, is a projection of the ego.
b) You are innocent. Everything you think you did wrong never happened because it is part of the ego projection. You don’t need to be afraid because you are innocent.
c) You don’t have to use your body’s eyes. You have spiritual sight and you can train yourself to use it.

So, ACIM forgiveness is literally overlooking. This means using spiritual sight to look beyond the illusion and see the Son of God instead. Learning the practice of forgiveness is what removes you from the ego’s illusion. Instead, you begin to experience a reality created totally of love.

I use my litany to practice ACIM forgiveness. When I say “true appreciation” I mean I have seen the Son of God within and loved it. When I say “see perfection” I mean I have seen the perfection God created. When I say “Christ vision” I mean I used spiritual sight, not my body’s eyes. When I say “God’s Majesty” I mean I have recognized God in everyone.

I did not see an annoying person. I did not see anything to fear. I did not believe the ego’s illusion is real. I stuck to my conviction that our minds are light, we are joy, we are spirit; and nothing else.

Here is my litany in total, but divided into movements. The first movement is a defense against the ego. We need this for when we feel fear, hate, annoyance or lack. The second movement is a practice of forgiveness. As I think the thoughts, I also see others in my mind, looking beyond their illusion and seeing Christ within. The third movement is a affirmation of God’s Authorship and my commitment to my identity as a creation of Love.

My ACIM Litany:

Defense against the ego:
Father in Jesus name remind me of,
Your love for me and of my love for you.

If I am afraid I am deceived.
I am spirit. Know this can’t hurt me.
Fear is lack of love Atonement heals.
Expanding Love is my reality.
I am not alone, Jesus is here.
Jesus is the undoing of the dream.
The Holy Spirit is my choice for God.
I hear Him speak quietly in my mind.

Giving and receiving are the same.
True appreciation is my gift.
The innocent see perfection truly.
Christ Vision is their one and only sight.
My mind has only light and shines it out.
I see God’s Majesty in all others.

My Identity:God is not symbolic. He is fact.
His peace cannot be shaken. I am free.
Into Your Hands I commend my spirit.
And so my mind awakens to Your peace.
Truth is my commitment. I am Joy.
Love is my intention. So I bless.
Love based thinking is my one desire.
Inner peace is what I really want. (Amen)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Stand Your Ground...

....on silence and on joy.

Miracle principal 4: "All miracles mean life, and God is the Giver of life. His Voice will direct you very specifically. You will be told all you need to know."

ACIM text 7.IX.1: "The Holy Spirit will always guide you truly, because your joy is His. This is His Will for everyone because He speaks for the Kingdom of God, which is joy."

Have the courage of your convictions.

I believe in silence because that is where I hear the Holy Spirit best. Above all else I want my primary life relationship to be with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is where my guidance and comfort comes from. The Holy Spirit is my connection to God. Above all else, I can't go through life without my connection to God.

If you feel joyful, know that you are living the Kingdom, that Heaven has manifested in your heart. Stand by the joy. Don't let your ego or anyone else's trounce on joy. Gandhi said, "Be the change...." Ultra Monk says, "be the joy..." The change we need is joy. The world needs people who choose joy.

If I don't seem to have joy, know that my ego has trounced on it. But I use spiritual means to return to joy. Joy is my natural state. Joy is my God given life. Joy is what I am in the real world; beyond the dream, beyond the ego illusion we call this world. If I am the joy, I have left the world; but yet I am still available to my brothers in this world to join with me in Heaven.

I have spent most of my life in the doldrums. But now that I have felt joy, I intend to stand my ground there.

Joy is a choice followed up with spiritual action. It doesn't matter which spiritual action as long as it is the one given you by the Holy Spirit. Hence, silence. Go to silence and wait there. Listen to the silence for the answers. Stand on silence. Silence gives you the Voice for God, the Holy Spirit. The Voice for God gives you the path to joy. Insist on joy. Follow the path.

I lifted weights this morning; left me quivering. I went early to work. Walking through the parking lot, I felt gratitude. I said thank you. Walking up the stairs, I felt the presence of the Son of God. I said thank you.

Joy is a thing more awesome than words. I am a 50 something mature woman athlete. I firmly state: I get to be a successful athlete because of my spiritual workouts. Yes, I also do worldly workouts; but it starts with spirit. Without strengthening the presence of spirit, I have no mojo for athletics. Mojo is merely a reflection of spiritual joy; which is a far greater commodity. Spiritual joy means everything. Experiencing spiritual joy in this world is the only thing that matters.

If I feel joy, then feel gratitude to the Son of God, then I am sharing my joy and gratitude with everyone. Shared joy and gratitude is Heaven.

This evening I hope to try something new. My new set of micro-spikes should be delivered today (FedEx indicates they are in KC). I will have them after work. I will then go to an easy trail and do a snow run for an hour or two, return home and finish off the workout until I get to 3 hours. Then tomorrow, I need mental fortitude to do another 5 hours of workout. The purpose of this is to reel in that 50 miles of health and happiness, not destruction.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Purpose of My Life in Particular

This morning, and for the past 3 days, I've had some totally wonderful early morning running. The streets have hard packed snow and it is very cold; but for some reason I've thoroughly enjoyed this time. I've had no pains and I've felt like I could run forever.

My alarm goes off at 3:30 am. I get up and spend the first hour with my spiritual reading of A Course in Miracles (ACIM). I talk to Jesus. I listen intently to the silence. The question always arises in my mind, "Have I heard anything?" This question is the ego's question; and no, the ego hasn't heard a thing. But if I will trust the deeper part of my mind, the something else part of my consciousness, I'll find that I have indeed heard and accepted the inspiration which is always given.

But how do I know? I want to know.

Usually when I get to this point in my reflecting, I stop and go work out. This morning, I bundled up and went running (oh so sweet). I ran for 94 minutes.

After the run, getting ready for my shower, my mind flashed on how I had been a contractor for my current employer more than 10 years ago. Then gone off to the monastery for 4 years. Then got kicked out of the monastery and have lived in the secular world for the past 7 years. How I'm glad I don't live in the monastery because I really didn't like community life and much prefer being an athlete. How, I now work for my current employer and deal with all the daily ups and downs of that.

I grew up in a difficult parental situation; so I couldn't rely on my parents for many of the standard things and had to be self sufficient more than many children. I never got married although I certainly tried when I was younger; my motive was finding someone to take care of me. Then, I picked a stable monastic institution because I wanted 3 hots and a cot for life. But, really, I've been on my own most of my life and that situation promises to continue. But when ever I seem to need a job or another person to help me out, the resources are there.

Then my key thought was this: What if the purpose of my life is to experience God's love for me?

What I mean is that I have never been able to build stability into my life (like by having a husband and family who are always there for you, or living in a huge old brick convent where sisters and care givers are always there for you). I have a good career but the way I have obtained jobs and moved from job to job every 3 to 5 years, is very miraculous. I thought about my situation now. I make a good salary but over half of it never makes it into my checking account. I rent an apartment so I am not gaining worth from a monthly payment. I buy running stuff like crazy and am not really saving any after-tax money. This is anti-middle-class-American-consumer to not buy a house if you are a professional with my salary.

But I realized that God will always love me and care for me and give me what I need. That is the point of my life: trust God. I can't carry out this mission except by living without many of the social structures others rely on.

The point of my life is not to be rich or famous or a brain surgeon or an elite athlete or a holy vowed religious. It is to trust God. ACIM does say what a persons purpose is. It doesn't exactly say "just trust God." So when I say that my purpose is to know God loves me and actually does care for me, I am not parroting something I read or was taught. I am stating a thought which came from the inside. I am stating the bed rock of who I am. The truth of my existence is that I am a well loved creation and as such, I need do nothing. But humans have a very difficult time with the task of letting go and letting God; and believing that it was God's love which provided. One again, my purpose is to EXPERIENCE God's total unequivocal, unending, unchanging eternal Love for me. Period.

My purpose brings me back to my litany. I try to meditate on that twice a day. It takes desire and patience to do this. But it is spiritualizing my brain such that I identify more with God than the dream of this world. My litany is something of an ACIM creed. Some day, I will get around to explaining line-by-line what this means, but for now, here it is again:

Father in Jesus' name remind me of
Your love for me and of my love for You.

If I am afraid, I am deceived.
I am spirit. Know this can't hurt me.
Fear is lack of love. Atonement heals.
Expanding love is my reality.

In the holy instant I forgive.
And miracles come forth as love expressed.
Giving and receiving are the same.
Full appreciation is my gift.
The innocent see perfection truly.
Christ Vision is our one and only sight.

I am not alone. Jesus is here.
Jesus is the undoing of the dream.
The Holy Spirit is my choice for God.
I hear Him speak quietly in my mind.

God is not symbolic. He is fact.
His peace cannot be shaken. I am free.
Into Your Hands I commend my spirit.
And so my mind awakens to His peace.

Truth is my commitment. I am joy.
Love is my intention. So I bless.
Love-based thinking is my one desire.
Inner peace is what I really want.

(I typed this whole thing; not cut and paste)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Yakking in the Early Morning Snow

Today I feel like total Joy!

What's not to love about a run on snowy streets, too early for cars, briskly cold January in the Midwest, yak trax on the shoes. OMG, so wonderful to spend 80 minutes just jogging, being outside, too early for disturbances. Wonderful! A morning like this is part of what I love about running. I had no ambitions, just happy to be out there sucking cold air.

I, Ultra Monk, have signed up for yet another race: Howard Aslinger Endurance Run, in Cape Girardeau Missouri in mid-March: 12 hours of bliss.

Well, when I ran that 3:51 marathon in December, I sort of met my speed goal for the year. So my attention has gone back to ultra distances. My aim is to workout in such a way that 50 miles of running doesn't totally devastate my body. That is, I want to bring about 10 hours of running inside my training envelope.

This means that I will start to have extended workouts on Friday nights (since the Aslinger run starts at 7 pm). And I will continue to use ex-machines to increase endurance time. Slowly, the running time should increase too. Eventually, 8 to 10 hours of jogging should be "no big deal."

The 100 mile ultra runners who are at the top of the sport run far more miles than I do. Somehow, having to go to work interferes with my running these massive miles. Many 100 mile finisher-types just load up on weekends; but they have a skill of ignoring pain. I don't have that skill. In fact, I'm not interested in destroying my body because I ignored the pain for long enough to finish a race.

My interest is in building my body more. That's the difference. I found out that I can run about 7.5 hours without the destructive feeling I got at 9.5 hours. So I plan to train in order to push that destructive point out further. I have ideas for doing this which may be stupid in the minds of some more experienced ultra runners. But I think they will work for me.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Colleen's Fat Ass - Reflection on a Cold January Night

The race, Colleen's Fat Ass ultra, began in a house owned by a taxidermist. I ran 28.8 miles, 9 laps, in about 6h50 elapsed time.

Here is my reflection:

Ultra running, for me, is not primarily about speed; not like shorter road races are. Ultra running is completely inexplicable; especially to the non-running public. While some non-runners might say, “Wow, you ran 50 miles. That is awesome.” They actually have no idea what that means or what it feels like or why you did it. The purpose of ultra running, for me, isn’t about a sense of accomplishment or honor or award.

I don’t speak for others, and most other ultra runners are far more accomplished than me. I am barely an ultra runner distance-wise. But in so far as most 50k’s (31 miles) are run on courses much more difficult than a road marathon, that additional 2 or 3 hours and additional challenge to legs muscles, is what turns the run into an ultra for me. Plus the resultant and dramatic physical destruction. Plus the seeming nonsense of the endeavor.

Potential ultra runners think ultra running will solve their sense of boredom with road marathons by adding an additional notch in their belt. For me, the idea germinated and has always grown in a desire to go beyond my rational ego mind by taking the body beyond its training envelope and beyond its logical capability. What I find in this beyond place is almost impossible to have a conversation about. Such conversation always seem to de-generate into a worldly discussion of distance and time and placing and schwag. This degeneration frustrates me because the worldly things mean nothing. However, when I meet another ultra runner, its possible to say nothing but connect on the thought level; where we have an entire sharing of meaning without a word having been spoken. The meaning of ultra running cannot be explained, but it can be shared by connections made beyond words

There is nothing to brag about for me; and that is what my ego hates. In fact, I don’t think I have officially “finished” an ultra in several races. So can I cut to the chase: Why would I value the result of a futile effort so much that I put up with the pain of it over and over? I just spent nearly 7 hours of a cold windy January night jogging in a tiny pool of light, having no idea where I was or where I was going or what for. On the trail, where my legs are far more challenged than on a road, it took me several hours to bring my body to the brink of destruction. The first lap found me lost and confused and angry as twice I lost the trail. I fell down once. I peed in a cold outhouse by choice because I didn’t want to go into the warmer restroom. Each lap I put a mark by my name on the chart.

As time wore on and my body wore down, I lived a very simple and elemental existence. Alone in the dark, my thoughts ranged as follows: I hope I don’t trip this time (I tripped 7 times at the exact same spot over something I never could see, but on the last 2 laps, I used an extra hand held light at that place. I never saw what I tripped over, but didn’t trip on the last 2 laps); I hope I don’t get lost (well after 2 laps, while the pink flags were still my security blanket, I was guided by the landmarks of the footing, various rocks and such); Should I eat my Power Bar now? (too late, it is frozen and I hope I don’t break a tooth trying to bite it); Is it time to pee? (I hate stopping, but oh well, it must be done).

I have NOT thought about the ego’s world: work, co-workers, money, retirement plans, health care plans, Boston qualification, age group awards, why I am not rich or famous or a vowed religious.

I did the journey to the ultra runner’s nether world and the secret of the ineffable. The nonsensical infinite timelessness of the intangible formlessness calls me over and over.

I keep answering the call.

Friday, January 7, 2011

50k Fat Ass - Prelude

Tonight, I am going to a park in Kansas where I hope to run 50k. I don't know if I will run 50k. That depends.

I am about to enter a long dark cold night. I am about to go against the grain of my comfort zone. I am about to be antithetical to ordinary society's penchant for sloth and gluttony.

Friday night: most of society will be having large dinners, maybe a few alcoholic beverages, maybe watching TV, maybe dealing with the kids, maybe snuggling in a warm bed. Most of society will be immersed in comfort and complacency; slowly dieing in their living rooms mesmerized by TV.

I don't like being cold. I don't like missing sleep. I don't like being shaken out of my routine. This is a fat ass race. That means there is no schwag, no results, no awards, no winners. The ego gets nothing. Basically, ultra-running is about stripping the ego of its control and identity so that you can find out who you are really.

In the night, there is a spot of light from my headlamp, a bit of trail, my water bottle and some gel. I am swathed in fleece and gortex; filled with whatever warmth I can generate from my own existence. I become a bubble of life in a cold dark void. As such, I am reduced to mind, to elemental being-ness; thoughts and feelings and the urge to live. It is a void ripe for negative ego attack. The ego always asks why. It is a journey through darkness to light. It is a practice of endurance, commitment and hope. The spirit never doubts. If I become what I am, Life, then the hope is fulfilled.

There are no illusions in the darkness. It is a nebulous world, an existence of raw oneness. It is either peace or fear, love or hate. I'm going to be 52 in a few days. I've decided that this is not the year when I will lay down and die.

I get to choose. Choose Life.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Resolute Decision

No, I have not made a New Years resolution. Who has ever seen one of those succeed?

Resolute decisions always succeed. Decision making is powerful, the greatest power that I have. Strong decisions made with conviction are impenetrable. I have made a resolute decision.

So what I am I getting at? In about 9 days I'll be 52 years old. I have decided that this is not the year for me to lay down and die; or be comfortable and complacent like most 50 somethings I know.

So what?

OK, I have been on a 5 day endurance holiday. Yesterday I ran 27 miles. Today, I ran on trails for 4 hours. During this week, I have run 94 miles, done a few hours on the ex-machines, a few strength workouts and learned to use my new TRX suspension trainer. 2 weeks ago, on December 19, I ran a 3h51min marathon and qualified for Boston, beating the qualifying time by 15 minutes.

My decision is not to lay down and die now. If I go down, it'll be fighting.

I heard that there is an all night ultra-race in a park south of here next Friday night. Besides running the race on a trail in the dark, it has creek crossings. So my feet would get good and wet on a subzero night. I was thinking about this race and the problem of cold feet as I ran the trails of Parkville today. After about 2 hours, I realized that I was running right by a creek. Why not get your feet wet right now and see what its like?

Ok, so I left the cute little wooden bridge and dunked my feet in the cold water. I was wearing the two pairs of smartwool socks I would wear for the race so this was a good experiment. Well, your feet warm back up almost immediately and I noticed no signs of blisters even 2 hours and more dunkings later.

So, having faced the fear of wet cold feet, I pondered whether to go to the race. I realized that I was facing a series of mental road blocks; fears which are complete projections. And, I was praying my ACIM Creed, hoping to hear the Holy Spirit's guidance.

That was when the conviction struck me. I CANNOT let fear stop me now. It would mean death.

The race I plan to go in on Friday is by comparison with many adventures a very tame affair. Perhaps only a shy and conservative mature lady would think twice about it. But here I am faced with fears. So I am resolved not to die yet. Even if I only do 10k, or even if I walk half the night; I need to get out of my comfort zone. Here is my opportunity.

Say bah! to cold feet. Get them wet and realize it is nothing! Don't die.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Blank New Year

Should I blog if I have nothing really momentous to say?

I woke up this morning thinking, “I do wish I had endless days to be silent and run; having no future and no commitments and no work.” What would I be like? But, I have to work for now. I’ve been silent for 4 days, with tomorrow as my last holiday. I’ve ran 78 miles plus a few other hours on ex-machines and doing strength exercises.

This morning, running, I thought that my fears were more subtle. But I do still live my life in fear. I started my run in the pre-dawn, under a clear sky with 16F temps. Not too long later, a couple of other regulars showed up. I said hi or nodded my head. During the morning, a car fell into the ditch by the railroad track. That provided some entertainment. I ran 10 laps around the park, for 27 miles at an extremely slow pace of 5h23min.

I asked this evening for an intuitive thought. I then thought, “I need to see things differently.” My run this morning was such nonsense because I am not seeing it right.

I formulated my litany, or ACIM Creed as it were (see below), several weeks ago. I use the phrases to remind me of The Course. I love to remember a couple of times a day, "I am not alone. Jesus is here." Or, "Love is my intention as of now." Or, "Into His Hands, I commend my spirit." I need such things when my ego is unhappy with my lack of fame, fortune or posterity.

I’ve been frustrated because it is new years and I have no big plans for 2011. So I talked to Jesus about going deeper into A Course in Miracles. The past 3 days, I’ve been reading one section of text over and over (7.IV and V). I’m absorbing the ideas about healing as well as more deeply turning my life over to the Holy Spirit. Did I tell you I love A Course in Miracles? Its because it has the answers I need.

I don’t read commentaries to find out what the text means. I’m interested in listening for what Jesus is saying to me. And, so I keep reading slowly and pondering. Here is a sample of some of it:

7.IV and V:
“When you heal, you are remembering the laws of God and forgetting the laws of the ego…. By healing you learn of wholeness, and by learning of wholeness you learn to remember God… Healing, then, is a way of approaching knowledge by thinking in accordance with the laws of God, and recognizing their universality. Without this recognition, you have made the laws meaningless to you. Yet the laws are not meaningless, since all meaning is contained by them and in them… Healing is a way of forgetting the sense of danger the ego has induced in you, by not recognizing its existence in your brother… Healing is the Holy Spirit’s form of communication in this world, and the only one He accepts. He recognizes no other, because He does not accept the ego’s confusion of mind and body… When you heal, that is exactly what you are learning. You are recognizing the changeless mind in your brother by realizing that he could not have changed his mind. That is how you perceive the Holy Spirit in him…”

7.V: “11 Come therefore unto me, and learn of the truth in you. The mind we share is shared by all our brothers, and as we see them truly they will be healed. Let your mind shine with mine upon their minds, and by our gratitude to them make them aware of the light in them. This light will shine back upon you and on the whole Sonship, because this is your proper gift to God. He will accept it and give it to the Sonship, because it is acceptable to Him and therefore to His Sons. This is true communion with the Holy Spirit, Who sees the altar of God in everyone, and by bringing it to your appreciation, He calls upon you to love God and His creation. You can appreciate the Sonship only as one. This is part of the law of creation, and therefore governs all thought.”

Litany (ACIM Creed):

Father in Jesus name remind me of,
Your love for me and of my love for you.

If I am afraid I am deceived.
I am spirit. Know this can’t hurt me.
Fear is lack of love Atonement heals.
Expanding Love is my reality.

Giving and receiving are the same.
True appreciation is my gift.
The innocent see perfection truly.
Christ Vision is their one and only sight.

I am not alone, Jesus is here.
Jesus is the undoing of the dream.
The Holy Spirit is my choice for God.
I hear Him speak quietly in my mind.

God is not symbolic. He is fact.
His peace cannot be shaken. I am free.
Into Your Hands I commend my spirit.
And so my mind awakens to Your peace.

Truth is my commitment. I am Joy.
Love is my intention as of now.
Love based thinking is my one desire.
Inner peace is what I really want. (Amen)