Thursday, April 30, 2009

Former Dutch Queen Juliana 100 years

Today, April 30th Princess Juliana (Dutch Queen from 1948-1980) would have been 100 years old, and the Dutch press has been full of articles recently. Most however are trivial if not banal, and the essence of her reign to this day cannot seem be discussed openly and fully in the Dutch press.

The reason I want to mention her here is because she assisted Professor Quispel, who was one of the first researchers of the Thomas Gospel from the Nag Hammadi library, and who acquired the first manuscript in 1952 with the backing of an American philanthropist, and the manuscript later was apparently donated to the Jung foundation. In 1955 Quispel wanted to research the rest of the manuscripts that still existed in Egypt, at the Coptic Museum in Cairo. Queen Juliana was fascinated at the time with the potential of original words of Jesus being found, and asked the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs J. W. Beyen, to help facilitate Quispel's access to the Coptic museum in Cairo, and this in turn seems to have led to a publication of further manuscripts in 1956. Quispel apparently remained convinced to his dying day that, but for that mission, the Nag Hammadi library and the Thomas Gospel would have languished in the vaults of the museum and most likely decayed completely by now. If this is true, I'd vote for this to be one of the most important things Queen Juliana did during her reign.

Unfortunately, the reign of Queen Juliana became tainted with a palace crisis of 1956, in which her independent spirit seems to have been effectively suppressed by a deft collusion between her husband Prince Bernhard, and Dutch politicians, who felt clearly threatened by a Queen who had a mind of her own, as did he, since at that point she would not tolerate his extramarital affairs any longer and was asking for a divorce - which would have been the end of the good life for him. By cleverly planting his version of things with the foreign press, passing it off as fact, he managed to turn the whole world against her, including manipulating the Dutch body politic to do his bidding, and basically put the shackles on the Queen while at the same time saving the marriage in name, without having to give up any maneuvering room himself. The episode was shameful enough as it was, but then last year the Dutch Court chartered a friendly historian, by the name of Cees Fasseur, to write a book, which under a thin veneer of critique about some of Bernhards more outrageous behavior, in effect did little else but solidifying his version of events, or at least attempting to do so. Fortunately, the Dutch reading public was slightly smarter, and generally did not accept the fact that Cees Fasseur had access to unverifiable private sources which are not available to anyone else.

By now there are beginning to be some critical voices who do not swallow this pablum, one of them Elsbeth Etty, who is a book reviewer for the major newspaper the NRC/Handelsblad, and who delivered a pretty devastating speech to celebrate the publication of the book, Juliana en Bernhard, by C. Fasseur. The other interesting independent voice is one Wim Duzijn, who writes a blog for the newspaper De Volkskrant, and who thankfully does think independently about these things too, and produced a very worthwhile discussion of the whole episode in context, here: "Bernhard wist niet wat een pooier was." (Bernhard did not know a pimp from a hole in the wall.) On the whole however, it is clear that the dominant coverage in leading Dutch newspapers remains confined even 53 years after the fact to the frame of reference of the German magazine Der Spiegel, which at the time published an article that was clearly inspired by Bernhard. But, thanks to the brilliant intervention by the assorted greengrocers of Dutch politics, appearances were saved by telling the Queen she would have to toe the line. The slight of hand that was used, was to turn the relationship that the Queen had with the "faithhealer" (as she was designated in the press), and channeler, Miss Hofmans, into a putative cause of her marital problems in lieu of recognizing this situation as a symptom of a situation that was clearly out of hand on many levels. This allowed the politicians to slaughther this sacrificial lamb instead of dealing with the issues, and so to save appearances and the bad peace. To this day, this duplicitous and cruel solution has hardly been seen through except by a precious few commentators.

Also, Queen Juliana's farsighted and humane way of conducting herself during her reign, remains under the cloud of these events, even though she remains the most popular Dutch Queen ever, and in many ways was truly a healing influence who helped resolve many crises (including the ending of the Dutch Colonial ambitions by supporting the independence of Indonesia). In other areas she proved likewise to be very farsighted, for just as she understood the colonial era was over, she also understood that the emerging "cold war," was more likely to become a run-up to world war III than a way to prevent it, and as we now know, events nearly proved her right at times, the most dramatic of which was perhaps the prevention of nuclear war by the Soviet Lt. Colonel Stanislav Petrov, which could have been the end of the world as we know it.

Consequently, I suspect that it will once again have to come from the foreign press to shed light on these things, and render it possible in Holland for the events to be discussed the way they actually were, so that former Queen Juliana can finally be recognized as the great and farsighted leader of a people who she really was, and which was recognized in popular opinion, but never by the establishment. A hundred years from now the critical role she played in helping professor Quispel gain access to the sources of the Thomas Gospel may also finally be recognized as something for which the world owes her a debt of gratitude. I just figured I'd make a start with it right here and now, because I feel that this particular contribution was near and dear to her heart, and more reflective of her spirit than much that's talked about in the popular press, and its importance without a doubt is global. As with everything else it's often the seeming little things that count, and that are much bigger in retrospect than they seemed at the time.

Sadly, since I first posted this piece, this day was spoiled by some disturbed person taking a kamikaze trip in their car, trying to spoil the festivities, and in the process killing several people (5 at this writing) and wounding others (12 at this writing), and the hospital reports that his own life may be in danger still.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stevan Davies on Thomas Sayings in Mark, ctd. 1

Stevan Davies' Second article about the Thomas tradition in Mark focuses on 5 sections of Mark, the first one being Mark 2:18-21. I'm quoting it in the NIV:

Mark 2:18-21 (New International Version)

Jesus Questioned About Fasting
 18Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, "How is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?"  19Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.
 21"No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse.

Davies finds traces in this passage of Logia 104, 11, 18, 22, 47,  of which the Pursah version excludes 104, and has substantial edits in 22, 11, while her edition suggests hardly any change in 18, and 47. Just by eyeballing this story, and the Thomas Logia next to it, you would immediately appreciate that Mark is just using familiar sayings associated with Jesus to write a story in a way that suggest authenticity.
While you can see here that the story gets put together from various quotes, it does not seem to exhibit the level of distortion and misconstruction that we've seen in other examples of this kind. Meanwhile in terms of the authenticity, line 20 comes from Logion 104, which Pursah rejects, but it is hardly material to the argument here, though it introduces a theme, which indeed does not fit the teachings of Jesus, namely why the bridegroom would be taken from us, that does not fit the themes we know from the Course, which are clearly that it's always us doing the forgetting. The borrowings from 11 are hardly very explicit either, nor are those from 22, and Davies I think confuses here the theme of making the two into one, with the business of the bridegroom, which is rather about what the Course would call the holy relationship, choosing our True Self, or Jesus, and learning to see the face of Christ in all who we meet. The presence of Logion 18 seems not very overt, but might be there, it is really about the decision point, and 47 has the themes of sowing an new patch onto an old fabric. So again, on the whole, in the context of one of the central references of this site, Pursah's Gospel of Thomas, with the one exception of line 20, the way this story is construed seems not particularly at odds with the way Jesus speaks to us in the Thomas gospel, and it is merely curious to see the process at work of how these segments are put together in one place, and made into something new. Arguably, you would expect that the quote should be extended to line 22, so as to include all of Logion 47, which goes on about the new wine in old wineskins.

In the context of the Course what this whole passage seems to reflect, is the notions of "I need do nothing" (cf. ACIM:T-18.VII), and also "I am under no laws but God's" (cf. ACIM:W76). They are the parallel realizations that I cannot even save myself if I wanted to by any observation of man-made rules and regulations, particularly also my own rules which I impose on myself, because all that achieves is a reconfirmation of mental constructs of reality, which again do not bring us any freedom, but keep us confined in the vicious circles of the ego, and the way out is by placing my trust in God's laws, rather than the idiotic rules and regulations my ego keeps coming up with to protect its world order. Implied also is the notion that the choice of thought systems is all or nothing, and that really is an allusion to the opening lines of Logion 47, about the impossibility of mounting two horses or bending two bows. This is a very profound theme in the Thomas Gospel and in the Course, and evidently completely central to the thought system Jesus proposes.
As to Davies' article, I must admit that it confuses me a bit, because he construes the elements often times in a way that seems alien to me, because I'm coming from a Course standpoint, and just tend to read them differently. In other sections of his articles one sees a clearer transition from the pre-Christian (Thomasine) image to the Christian anecdote. This is not the case here, though evidently you'd read the whole thing a bit different coming from a predominantly Christian point of view, as opposed to from ACIM.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On Outing Shakespeare

Well, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has thrown his hat in the ring on the controversy regarding Shakespeare's identity, and his choice for the role is Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford.
Of course those of us who have read Gary Renard's The Disappearance of the Universe might have been expecting some such developments. The interesting thing is that this opinion comes from outside the circles of the high priests of Stratford upon Avon, not to mention from outside the clerical circles of wider literary scholarship who have traditionally maintained the myth that Shakespeare was Shakespeare. A book on this controversy which I have earlier discussed on this blog, 'Shakespeare' by Another name: The life of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, the man who was Shakespeare, by Mark Anderson, and it already had convinced me pretty much, although I was by that time prepared to be open to that kind of development, exactly because of Arten's comments in Gary's book.
Here's how Arten said it;
 ARTEN: Sure. The gentleman who wrote the Shakespeare material was an Earl whose family's crest bore the image of a lion shaking a spear. To honor his family he was sometimes toasted at Court with the phrase, "Your countenance shakes a spear." But this Earl was forbidden by Queen Elizabeth the First, who was a political genius and very controlling, from putting his name on his work. There was a social stigma attached to the stage at that time. Plays, especially comedies, were not considered to be serious literature and were beneath the dignity of royalty.? (from Gary R. Renard, The Disappearance of  the Universe)
We are now probably not far away from a point that anything written about Shakespeare is fairly much irrelevant unless you appreciate that the writer of the words "all the world's a stage" in fact was in fact very much an actor on that stage who had known success and failure spectacularly, with a rich formal education, as well as plenty of lessons from the school of hard knocks, enough so that indeed it allowed him to gain an entirely different perspective, in what is customarily called enlightenment, allowing him to see through the whole charade from another vantage point, which A Course in Miracles describes as the view from "above the battle ground":
   Those with the strength of God in their awareness could never think of battle. What could they gain but loss of their perfection? For everything fought for on the battleground is of the body; something it seems to offer or to own. No one who knows that he has everything could seek for limitation, nor could he value the body's offerings. The senselessness of conquest is quite apparent from the quiet sphere above the battleground. What can conflict with everything? And what is there that offers less, yet could be wanted more? Who with the Love of God upholding him could find the choice of miracles or murder hard to make? (ACIM:T-23.IV.9)
It is the sure knowledge that nothing is to be gained from anything in this world, which alone grants us the serenity and the sublime humor with which Shakespeare looks at the world. As Gary has recently observed somewhere, it is also the smile of the Mona Lisa. It is the manifestation of the peace of mind of Logion 42, "Be passersby."
It is like the shift of looking at Moby Dick through the eyes of Jed McKenna, to be looking at Shakespeare through the eyes of the Earl of Oxford, who in worldly terms was a nobleman at the Court of England who was decidedly past his prime, but who had acquired the perspective necessary for the task. It is also like realizing that Thomas Jefferson could not be understood and appreciated unless one realized the multiple levels of complexity and inner contradiction in his life as reflected in his relationship with Sally Hemings. Prior biographies do not only need to be corrected on that point, but entirely rewritten, for the man cannot be understood any other way. His fascinating relationship with Jesus, as evident from the Jefferson Bible, is another dimension of his character that has been widely missed, and treated at best as a curious episode, but not understood for being the central key to his character which it is. So, it seems we are having an interesting time of it with a massive reframing of some very interesting accepted truths in our culture, which turn out to be falsehoods.
In learning to step back from our own life, by adopting that view from above the battleground, it becomes easier to spot these things, for as we begin to understand that the classrooms of our life are in fact just that, it begins to make sense how Edward de Vere was able, as he stepped back from the wreckage to understand the whole story on a new level, including seeing it in the holographic framework of his life's experience and learning, in which Shakespeare's endless anachronisms becomes understandable as it is meaning, or content for which he merely finds the form to express it from the repertoire of his life and learning, Part of this learning involves this experience of déjà vu across time and space, for some people that goes with lively "past life" experiences (General Patton is my fave for that) for others it remains more ethereal, as simply deep insights and joining in an experience which we suddenly recognize at a deeper level.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bach on Golgotha...

Once more thanks to Annelies

Here is another Bach fragment, with a lamentation on Golgotha, which reflects the notion that to the ego the guiltless are guilty -- which is why in this world Jesus is crucified, or as the Course puts it:

Much of the ego's strange behavior is directly attributable to its definition of guilt. To the ego, the guiltless are guilty. Those who do not attack are its "enemies" because, by not valuing its interpretation of salvation, they are in an excellent position to let it go. They have approached the darkest and deepest cornerstone in the ego's foundation, and while the ego can withstand your raising all else to question, it guards this one secret with its life, for its existence depends on keeping this secret. So it is this secret that we must look upon, for the ego cannot protect you against truth, and in its presence the ego is dispelled. (ACIM:T-13.II.4)

And of course once we see how idiotic that is, which Jesus demonstrates by the irrelevance of the crucifixion (the last useless journey), we can join with him and laugh away the tiny mad idea of the separation. That is the true meaning of the resurrection. And in small ways all of us know the process, but we have yet to learn to trust it. How many times have we not felt that if we lost this or that, we would die, only to find out that we did lose it and yet we live. Jesus' losing his body was merely an extreme demonstration of the same principle. As we learn from his example, we are bound to eventually join him in the resurrection, and cease to ever put our faith form because we know again that what we are is spirit. Putting our faith in form (limited) is the crucifixion, and we are thereby asking to repeat the suffering as the form perishes, which it always will. What we are learning through the forgiveness process is to let go of the ego boundaries (form), and accept the sight of spirit instead. Here's how the Course reminds us of this:

The journey to the cross should be the last "useless journey." Do not dwell upon it, but dismiss it as accomplished. f you can accept it as your own last useless journey, you are also free to join my resurrection. Until you do so your life is indeed wasted. It merely re-enacts the separation, the loss of power, the futile attempts of the ego at reparation, and finally the crucifixion of the body, or death. Such repetitions are endless until they are voluntarily given up. Do not make the pathetic error of "clinging to the old rugged cross." The only message of the crucifixion is that you can overcome the cross. Until then you are free to crucify yourself as often as you choose. This is not the gospel I intended to offer you. We have another journey to undertake, and if you will read these lessons carefully they will help prepare you to undertake it. (

Bach holding Jesus by the Hand

Thanks to the tireless work of Annelies, some interesting observations about music are appearing in Dutch, and I'll try to comment on them here in English.

This piece in particular inspires me, for it ties in well with the morning and evening meditations which Gary Renard recommends. Gary frames it in the way of visualizing a white light, as a symbol of the love of God, and then leaving all our worries at the altar. This melody could serve as an introduction to that meditation equally well, for it is an invitation for us to take Jesus' outstretched hand and accept his embrace, while letting all our worries and concerns slip from our clammy little hands onto the altar, to simply join with him and rest in the love of God for a while (as long as you can stand it). The Course reminds us of this in a generic way, in the I need do nothing section of Chapter 18:

Yet there will always be this place of rest to which you can return. And you will be more aware of this quiet center of the storm than all its raging activity. This quiet center, in which you do nothing, will remain with you, giving you rest in the midst of every busy doing on which you are sent. For from this center will you be directed how to use the body sinlessly. It is this center, from which the body is absent, that will keep it so in your awareness of it. (ACIM:T-18.VII.8)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Stevan Davies on Thomas Sayings in Mark, ctd. 0

Some time ago I discussed an article of Prof. Stevan Davies here, which provided some unique insight into the editorial process which turned Jesus into a Christian. Presently, I want to discuss Stevan Davies' second article in some detail. I note that, while I tend to favor using the name Jesus at the moment, I do understand and appreciate why Gary Renard was guided by his teachers to speak of J, because so many people have problematic associations with the name Jesus, and thus might pass up the teachings of A Course in Miracles for that reason. I myself referred to what I now call "Jesus" as "God's Help" which would be the etymological meaning of his name in Hebrew. For me the most helpful operating definition of Jesus is given by Kenneth Wapnick, who is the premier teacher of A Course in Miracles: "Jesus is a what, who looks like a who, because you think you're a who," in other words, in truth we are spirit, but as long as we identify with the dreamroles of who we are, as characters in this stage play (All the world's a stage), spirit may demonstrate its presence to us in the figure which we in the West call Jesus. That definition gives very practical expression to the most abstract understanding we seem capable of and still use words--and the essence of Jesus's teaching of course is that it's all in the experience, since evidently his kingdom is of spirit (that is the "what"), and not of this world, and therefore clearly beyond words, as the words and concepts are very much of this world, or, as the Course puts it, "symbols of symbols, and therefore twice removed from reality," i.e. the word is the symbol for the concept, which itself is a symbol for the reality which it refers to. I'll quote the relevant passage here in full:

Strictly speaking, words play no part at all in healing. The motivating factor is prayer, or asking. What you ask for you receive. But this refers to the prayer of the heart, not to the words you use in praying. Sometimes the words and the prayer are contradictory; sometimes they agree. It does not matter. God does not understand words, for they were made by separated minds to keep them in the illusion of separation. Words can be helpful, particularly for the beginner, in helping concentration and facilitating the exclusion, or at least the control, of extraneous thoughts. Let us not forget, however, that words are but symbols of symbols. They are thus twice removed from reality. (ACIM:M21.1)
In short, the process we witness with Jesus is that he speaks to us of a non-dualistic reality, where all is one, but because of our perception of a world in which we live, which is very much a world of duality (light/dark, black/white, war/peace, male/female, etc.), he can ONLY speak to us in parables, though we constantly persist in our bad habit of taking him literally, and thus we see from time to time in the literature how Jesus clarifies this point over and over again, as in Mark, here:

Mark 8:15-18 (New International Version)

15"Be careful," Jesus warned them. "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod."
 16They discussed this with one another and said, "It is because we have no bread."
 17Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember?

In short, we constantly do not get it that everything, but everything he says or does, comes to us in parables, and that he is leading us beyond our mortal intellect which continues to frame what he says in the context of our dualistic world, where we think we live, and we won't share in his (non-dualistic) experience of the Kingdom, unless we let go of our judgment, which otherwise prevents our ability to follow him, in terms of living what he demonstrates. The ego always wants to talk about what it sees and hears, which is a stalling technique. For that reason it becomes soon very clear in the context of learning A Course in Miracles, that all questions are of the ego, and in fact always express only one thing, namely the ego's secret mission to trip Jesus up, and to prove that he is wrong and we are right.
In terms of the historical Gospel tradition then, the process is that first we have a record of some of his sayings in no particular order, as in the Q and the Thomas traditions, and then we get the narrative Gospels, in which a process begins of the writers framing the stories according to their own best understanding, which may or may not have anything to do with what Jesus actually taught. Most importantly, by thirty years after his death, the figure of Paul comes on the scene who begins to reframe Jesus, and becomes really the originator of one particular tradition which just happens to become dominant, and evolve into what we today think is Christianity, which takes final form through such things as the Nicean Creed which dates to 325 CE, and the definition of the Canonical books of the New Testament by bishop Athanasius in 367CE, which was the first time they were defined in the order we now know. The tendency then which we all have with Jesus, and which is the basis of all distortions of his writing, is that we constantly try to frame his teachings in terms of this world, instead of listening to him, and let him teach us to understand it in the way he intended them. The end result is then a tradition about him, and explanation of him (theology), which end up taking the place of his very direct and simple teachings. The very same process we are watching currently unfold around A Course in Miracles which has given rise to an entire industry of would-be teachers and writers about the Course, who all too often add their own stuff to it, and distort what the Course clearly says.
The issues Prof. Stevan Davies discuss are so interesting, because they document such a process as it once took place with Jesus, and in the formative process from which Christianity resulted. Thus once again, his teachings are about healing our relationship with God and therefore with our Self, and they are geared to experience, not theology, or, as he puts it in the Course (and I'm quoting the whole paragraph, as it is relevant to this article):
The ego will demand many answers that this course does not give. It does not recognize as questions the mere form of a question to which an answer is impossible. The ego may ask, "How did the impossible occur?", "To what did the impossible happen?", and may ask this in many forms. Yet there is no answer; only an experience. Seek only this, and do not let theology delay you. (ACIM:C-in-4)
Accordingly also, the way Jesus' teaching comes across in the Course, it comes down in the end to a willingness ("the little willingness") to let ourselves be guided by spirit instead of our ego, and thus to let "Jesus" show us the way home. That is certainly a nice thought to contemplate in this Easter time.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Heart of Mind - Adventures with a Radio Show

Thursday April 9th, 2009, I was on the Heart of Mind Radio Show with Kathy Davis, on WBAI, 99.5 FM in New York - for an interview about my book, Closing the Circle.

Here is the link to the show... Interview on Heart of Mind with Kathy Davis
Kathy has previously interviewed Gary Renard, as well as myself about some earlier activities, but presently she has been reading Gary's books, as well as my own book, and she wants to discuss my book, Closing the Circle, so it could become a very interesting show. She also knows that I'm Gary's Dutch translator, and that I was recently on his Happy Dream Cruise in the Caribbean. Not only is Kathy's show excellent, she is also my favorite Qi Gong teacher in NYC, though I have not been to her classes since 5 years, because my life has moved to the East side of NY, more than the West side, and her classes are at Riverside Church at a completely inconvenient time.

Anyway, I just wanted to report this here.

Meanwhile this is now updated with the recording of the show. There was an interesting situation going on, from the standpoint that the birth place of A Course in Miracles, was in fact Bill Thetford's conversation with Helen Schucman about "There must be another way," because he was fed up with all the interpersonal conflicts they were suffering at work. During the show it was evident that there were in fact also serious conflicts going on at WBAI, including a situation where as we walked into the studio Kathy had to listen to a direct personal attack concerning her role on the board of WBAI. In short it was a repeat of all the same issues Helen and Bill once confronted, and to which the Course provides the answer, by teaching us how to make the inner choices that will lead us to a more peaceful way of being in the world and relating to people, never mind what sort of conflict, attacks, and pain are going on. The quantum forgiveness method of the Course definitely is the way out of pain and conflict.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

On Giving Birth

What danger can assail the wholly innocent? What can attack the guiltless? What fear can enter and disturb the peace of sinlessness? What has been given you, even in its infancy, is in full communication with God and you. In its tiny hands it holds, in perfect safety, every miracle you will perform, held out to you. The miracle of life is ageless, born in time but nourished in eternity. Behold this infant, to whom you gave a resting place by your forgiveness of your brother, and see in it the Will of God. Here is the babe of Bethlehem reborn. And everyone who gives him shelter will follow him, not to the cross, but to the resurrection and the life. (ACIM:T-19.IV.C.10)
Observant people have often realized that dying is a continual process, that is entirely part of this life. Just look back, how many phases of your life have completely died off, and it feels now as if you were a different person then, and yet, when you lost that job, that relationship, or some other situation, it seemed like death, like a huge loss, like a sacrifice, but the facts prove that it was not, if you learn to forgive and let go. Or, if you want to give in to our sado/masochist tendencies, you can spend the rest of your life beating yourself up about the past and making yourself miserable. We certainly have that option, but it's a choice. Plato discusses the fear of death beautifully in pointing out that we're merely on this side of a door, and cannot see the other side until we pass through, but it's not the end, and he also clearly understand that throughout our lives we pass through such doors of transition in the psychological sense, the death of the body is merely another one of those. Reflecting on this more deeply, we might begin to understand why dying is a psychological process. By the same logic giving birth is a psychological process. It all boils down to the choice between the ego or the Holy Spirit as our teachers, and the choice happens continuously in every moment, except we're not usually aware of it. The essence of the choice is between form and content, between the body or spirit, between manifest and latent, between duality and oneness, murder or love, death or life etc. The point being that forms (Saturn) are constructs of time and space, which only exist temporarily, and sooner or later all waste away, and if we dedicate our lives to preserving form we commit ourselves to dying with them, while the choice for life is the choice for spirit, in which we realize that form does not matter and the Holy Spirit will give us whatever forms to work with that are most useful at the time, until they go and we move on.

In mythology the image of "son" is often used to symbolize the effect of our choices, just like in real life (as any good family therapist will tell you) the children mirror their own choices back to the parents, and this is why children can be so maddening if the parents live in denial in any way shape or form. At some point most parents become aware that children have the annoying habit of learning what you do, not what you say, and to that extent clearly the children are helping the parents grow up, more so than the other way around. The Dutch spiritual teacher J. W. Kaiser (JWK) calls children in this sense our "self of tomorrow," quite in the spirit of "by their fruits shall ye know them." In short, what we experience reflects our choices at this level, and our experience in life in that sense is our son, who reflects back to us what we choose to be. Kaiser's brilliant translation, commentary, and explanation of the Gospel according to Mark, (Beleving van het Evangelie, not available in English). Kaiser understood that what mattered about the story is hardly the manifest content, as Paul and eventually Christianity would have it, but the latent, or inner meaning of the story, which of course merely reflects what is going on in the mind, and which can become clear to us through experience if we ourselves make the inner choice to follow Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, as no doubt he did in order to be able to read the book in the way he did.

The rest is very simple in every situation we have a choice of teacher (in the terminlogy of A Course in Miracles), or "father" in terms of the Biblical myths. Our soul (Mary/Miriam - etymologically meaning "in revolt, in uprising" as per JWK) when it rises up to the dictates of time, and begins looking for "another way" (as did Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford in the developments that led to ACIM- See Ken Wapnick's Absence from Felicity), and in this condition we will realize that we may be "betrothed" to a figure in time (Joseph, again as per JWK), but we are not fulfilled by what the Course calls special relationships, our deepest longing and our life's purpose can only be fulfilled by choosing the Holy Spirit, who thus becomes the Father, of what we ourselves are then becoming, as reflected in the quotation from ACIM above. Forgiveness is the process where this birth takes place, again and again and again, when we choose against the ego past as the father of our life of tomorrow (symbolized by Joseph in the story), and for the Holy Spirit as the father of our "child." And so the way of the spirit is a matter of active choice, choice for content over form, in full awareness that forms come and go, and in letting go of our attachment to them, what is eternal in us will be reborn to us - the theme of Gary Renard's book Your Immortal Reality.

In terms of the Thomas Gospel, there are many sayings which reflect this choice possibility, such as Logion 13, and Logion 42, "Be passersby," which puts us in the position of observer of "our life" so that we can start seeing it, rather than being it, and thereby put ourselves in a position to make another choice through forgiveness, and so letting the Holy Spirit run our life, instead of the ego, which merely wants us to play the hero of the story, and to act on the manifest content, and continue to keep us mindlessly and permanently embroiled in the world. So living in the now in this sense means not responding to situations from the past, but truly approaching every day, and every moment like it is the beginning of the rest of your life, and deciding if you want to continue in ego-hell, which is form first, never mind the content (murder), or choose the Holy Spirit instead, which means content (spirit) first, and leaving the form to Him, and assume the way back to Heaven, where all nice childern (all of us, whenever we're ready) go.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Complaints in Triplicate, Press Hard, Three Copies

Watch carefully and see what it is you are really asking for. Be very honest with yourself in this, for we must hide nothing from each other. If you will really try to do this, you have taken the first step toward preparing your mind for the Holy One to enter. We will prepare for this together, for once He has come, you will be ready to help me make other minds ready for Him. How long will you deny Him His Kingdom? (ACIM:T-4.III.8)
Having just spent a week on Gary Renard's Happy Dream Cruise, I had the chance of meeting some very interesting people, and explore new angles to the spiritual path I find myself on. In one conversation with a new friend who like myself feels very inspired by the Thomas Gospel, we came to talk about being angry with God and/or Jesus. And then immediately Helen Schucman the scribe of A Course In Miracles, came to mind and her episode of giving God an ultimatum about a research grant she had applied for (See Ken Wapnick's Absence from Felicity), when she went to a church to light a candle, and in her "prayer" she advised God that her getting the grant was an absolutely non-negotiable item. Of course she promptly proceeded not to get the grant. My new friend and I both shared experiences of getting seriously upset and angry with God, prior to breakthroughs in our spiritual lives, and I found myself suggesting that this relates to the passage I quoted above, for after all Jesus is asking us for complete honesty in our relationship with him. I was advised along those lines myself by a friend/therapist in a Course study group, and that has stayed with me ever since, and I've advised many others since then to do likewise, and even to go on record in the form of a letter or a diary and file our consumer complaints with Jesus, and not hold back, but really let him have it when we feel he's letting us down. The point of it all is that the anger does not matter, it's the being honest that counts, and perhaps more so than anything because letting it out in that way makes the relationship very real to us, and can become the basis for a subsequent shift.

In the long run what matters is that we eventually forgive Jesus fully for not being the idol which our ego wants him to be, as in this Course passage:

Is he the Christ? O yes, along with you. His little life on earth was not enough to teach the mighty lesson that he learned for all of you. He will remain with you to lead you from the hell you made to God. And when you join your will with his, your sight will be his vision, for the eyes of Christ are shared. Walking with him is just as natural as walking with a brother whom you knew since you were born, for such indeed he is. Some bitter idols have been made of him who would be only brother to the world. Forgive him your illusions, and behold how dear a brother he would be to you. For he will set your mind at rest at last and carry it with you unto your God. (ACIM:C-5.5)
In short, we made him different from us, for that's the ego's way of throwing him out the door. By forgiving him our illusions - the ego's differences - we are then re-establishing the relationship, which inevitably leads to a healing in which we learn to see his way, not our ego's way, and it is thereby we learn to follow him, but the basis for that is in accepting the relationship in the first place. Until we do, we continue to freeze him out.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

In and Out of the Hologram, Vivace

As promised, Gary Renard introduced us to his "Arten," aka Cindy on the "Happy Dream" Cruise, and this continues the important story line of his living experience as a demonstration project of the holographic nature of our experiential world which A Course in Miracles proposes. At the end of his first book as Arten and Pursah made it clear who they were in relation to Gary -- having been the apostles Thomas and Thaddeus in the past, while Gary himself had also been Thomas -- they also made it clear that not only would he be Pursah (a woman) in the next life, but he would end up marrying Arten, however Arten in his current lifetime would thus be a woman, who at that time he had not met yet. At some later time Gary reported having met the current-life persona of Arten, and that her identity would be disclosed in the third book, Love Has Forgotten No One, and also that she would participate in this year's Caribbean cruise. And so, having participated in the cruise, I've also met Cindy. Apparently Gary knew she was Arten before she did herself, but she was comfortable with it coming out in this fashion, and she seems to play the part really well. Meanwhile the really nice thing is that they do not make a big deal out of this, for they realize fully that this is all merely part of the dream reality. Needless to say undue hoopla about past life memories can become a major distraction, if it is exploited by the ego to make us somehow special, as is discussed in the Course in the Manual for Teachers, in the chapter 'ARE "PSYCHIC" POWERS DESIRABLE?' here:

The answer to this question is much like the preceding one. There are, of course, no "unnatural" powers, and it is obviously merely an appeal to magic to make up a power that does not exist. It is equally obvious, however, that each individual has many abilities of which he is unaware. As his awareness increases, he may well develop abilities that seem quite startling to him. Yet nothing he can do can compare even in the slightest with the glorious surprise of remembering Who he is. Let all his learning and all his efforts be directed toward this one great final surprise, and he will not be content to be delayed by the little ones that may come to him on the way. (ACIM:M-25.1)
The bottom line here clearly is that since with more and more forgiveness our fear level goes down, and we may well remember some of these abilities including past-life memories, which heretofore in our current living experience had been repressed, but if our ego gets ahold of them and starts exploiting them, we take our eyes off the ball, and forget the one responsibility we have as students of the Course, i.e. accepting the atonement for ourselves. And so, as always, the point is to leave the rest of it to the Holy Spirit, including the use of any such new found talents. Gary gave us a funny description of his own association with the group of Return of the Revolutionaries, which seems to be very prone to inspiring people to take this much too seriously--and again we are reminded of the joke that seriousness causes reincarnation. If nothing else, one thing that should give us pause is the fact that very few people volunteer for past life memories as Hitler, Attila the Hun, or Judas Iscariot, whereas the more popular roles seem to be in high demand. From the point of view of the Course it should be evident that the lifetimes in which we were villains of various sorts are very important lessons indeed, to make us aware of why the ego thought system is really a thought system of murder, which perhaps we would rather give up. For similar reasons, we strongly repress all memories of lifetimes in which we were something that we hate in this lifetime, e.g. men/women, black/white, Jew/Arab, etc. while the very fact that we hate it so much only means one thing, namely exactly that we were it, and do not want to know, so we project it out there in the world as an object of our scorn.

In the discussions in the workshop some interesting points about all this came out, and I would like to summarize them here in my own words. With a look ahead to the new book, Gary pointed out that Arten and Pursah had given him a demonstration of the "in-between" life, the upshot of which clearly was that, just like our own dreaming experience happens in seconds, but within the dream seems to cover vast stretches of time, the in-between life is typically really short, and moreover our "next" lifetime is not necessarily "in the future" in the time scale we tend to conceive of if we focus on our life as bodies in the world. In other words, you could be having a few hours in-between and then continue in a lifetime that is 100 years from now, or 2,000 years ago, the selection of which is predicated on what is the most helpful as classrooms for your progress on the road to salvation. Likewise, within the script we are currently in, we cannot so much change the script as shift to another dimension, based on the forgiveness lessons we have learned. In the end it is really not much different from going to Blockbusters and deciding between a horror movie or a comedy. In that sense the "hologram" is not much more than a large multiplex cinema, where I can see lots of different movies without ever leaving the building, and we only leave the building when our forgiveness lessons are done. And from one lifetime to the next we can change sex, religion, race, etc. so we shift from man to woman, from Muslim to Christian, from Jew to Arab, from black to white an vice versa. All of this makes lots of sense, since the atonement process is really about forgiving our apparent differences in the world and coming to realize experientially that we are the One sonship, that appears as many only because we have embraced the separation thought, the ego, and conceive of our living reality/experience accordingly.

Lastly, there is the important implication of the Course that all of the perceptions within this holographic time/space framework are in the mind, including our own body, therefore it becomes blatantly clear how and why it is possible to experience these shifts, that otherwise seem inconceivable to our conscious awareness which has projected the neat linear appearance of ourselves in time, with a past and a future, and which we call our life. And the shifts within this life to different dimensions with different outcomes are again no different than a DVD with multiple endings to the movie. Thus we do not perse change the script with our actions, as it is already made, and all of our actions are in the pre-recorded script, but by forgiving we can shift to a different experience. Or, as the Course puts it:  "Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world." (