To The Zoo Fence: [Recently, TZF’s good friend Elsa Joy Bailey placed on her site a message we wrote about A Course in Miracles. That has generated several responses, this one among them. You may read the original article on Elsa Joy’s site or here at TZF’s Consider This!.] Do you believe that A Course in Miracles was dictated by Jesus? If so, do you think it is Christian, and therefore compatible with the Bible?
Editor’s Comment: Although we are generally familiar with the story of how A Course in Miracles came into being, we do not know the details, and we never met Helen Schucman, the woman who wrote it. So, we cannot speak with any authority about how she did so. However, there are numerous sites on the web associated with A Course in Miracles, where you will be able to find more than we can provide. You might start at http://www.acim.org/. In addition, a search of the title on any of the web’s search engines (like Google) yields a wealth of responses.
That said, we wonder whether it makes any difference. Would A Course in Miracles be any more powerful or any less powerful if it were purported to have come from Abraham, or Ibn El-Arabi, or Zarathushtra, or Lao Tzu, or simply Helen Schucman herself? Here, does it matter that no one knows for sure who actually wrote any of the first four books of the New Testament? Do we know who originally penned the Bhagavad Gita?
We suspect that the power of A Course in Miracles resides more in the seeker who comes to it with determination and aspiration than in the books themselves. We know many who have read A Course in Miracles, and walked away unmoved, while others have had their hair stand on end at first encounter. And we have observed the same as regards other True Teaching Devices.
The mind is naturally and rightly curious, and it likes to pursue these kinds of facts. Thus, this is a valid inquiry. But when it comes to Teaching Devices, we believe the effect they have on any given seeker is a more significant measure of them for that seeker than the route they may have taken to get to him or her.
Finally, you ask, is A Course in Miracles compatible with the Bible? We lack the credentials to address the theology of that, although someone somewhere has undoubtedly written a book about it. Our own personal experience suggests that all True Teachers and all True Teaching Devices are One and the Same One, and therefore inherently compatible.
I enjoy my job, but sometimes the people I work with drive me up a wall. It is then that I sneak away to The Quiet Room.
I bring my lunch to work in a paper bag, and I eat it at The Zoo Fence.
I am so glad to be able to access TZF from my computer at work. Being in such a worldly business, I need a way to get into that Space.
Editor’s Comment: We are delighted the site works. But please do not confuse the peace you enjoy during your visits to TZF with TZF itself. There are many who find nothing here of interest or value. It is your openness to this stuff that makes TZF what it is for you. That openness originates within you, and is yours, and while we enjoy having you direct it toward TZF, don’t forget you can direct it toward any aspect of your life you wish.
For example, try this. When you go to work tomorrow, bring to your job the same mindset you bring to TZF. Instead of the ordinary work-a-day perspective, make a determined effort to perceive your colleagues, your customers, your products, your office space, each individually and all wholly, as God-being-that. Do this quietly and secretly, on the inner, as an exercise between you and God.
Then, if someone speaks rudely or gruffly to you, making you wish you were somewhere else more loving and peaceful, hear them actually saying to you, “Deep within me, I know you and I are one in Truth, and there I love you very much, but at a conscious level, I have completely forgotten that, so I’m stepping on your toe instead. Please forgive me.”
Do you see how differently you feel hearing that instead of “Hey, you!”?
When all we perceive is attack, we are naturally inclined to react with a hiss and a growl. But when we make ourselves see more deeply, we are moved to respond differently, with something like, “Of course, I understand. I feel that way sometimes, too.”
This is about disciplining the mind, and of course it is not easy. But it offers so many advantages, it is worth the effort. Perhaps most importantly for a seeker, it turns the workplace into a meditation place. This way, we don’t have to wait for those fifteen minutes in the morning and evening. We can be in meditation all day wherever we are, whatever we are doing. This is the secret of the lilies, and why they grow so well. Some call it Full-time Zen.
If this practice makes sense to you, we suggest you undertake it cautiously at first. Try a minimum dosage, so to speak, and consider the results. Then, over time, if you like, you can increase the dosage as you become more comfortable and confident in the practice. To be sure, in the beginning, the pressures to react in all the old ways will be intense. But that cannot alter the Truth, which is and always is: There is only One Thing in the Universe, and God is It. Therefore, the love, the beauty, the peace that can be found anywhere can be found everywhere.
Editor’s Comment: During the past weeks, we have received inquiries from regular TZF visitors wanting to know “Where’s Anna?” Anna is one of TZF’s founders who regularly contributes material to this site, most visibly on the feature called “Anna’s Page,” accessible from the Home Page menu. She is a very serious seeker, and as such, she goes into deep retreat from time to time, meaning that she withdraws from her outer activities as completely as possible, and concentrates fully on her inner work. This is a practice common in and recommended by many spiritual traditions. During these periods, Anna asks that we remove her evident presence from the site, and so we do. Now, we are delighted to report, Anna’s back, and so is her page.
Editor’s Comment: What we mean to say is, there is only One, what we call the One, or God. Being All There Is, the One is by definition Infinite, Eternal, and Perfect. There is nothing else it can be because there is nothing else.
What each of us calls “me” or “my life” is a reflection, manifestation, or expression of That. It must be, because there is nothing else it can be because, again, there is nothing else.
We agree with you that what each of us perceives – ourselves and our lives – does not seem to be perfect. That, however, is a factor of our perception, not of our Nature. We see imperfectly, so what we see seems imperfect. Clearly, that does not alter What Is, only what seems.
The question therefore becomes, Why do we see imperfectly? To answer that, we need to know ourselves and our nature, which is the function of the spiritual process. What that seems to mean is that the answers to these kinds of questions vary according to where we are when we ask them. Here, as you have undoubtedly observed from your own inner work, there is something of a revolving door quality to all of this! The more we search, the more apparent it becomes that we are what we are searching for.
Anyway, at TZF, we sometimes make the case that our apparently imperfect perception is actually “Perfect imperfection,” meaning that it is Divinely Inspired and Intended. That is, it serves a Purpose. For more on that, click on “Consider This!” from our Home Page’s Main Menu, and then click on “Self-Consciousness.”
Certainly, the Teachers of every spiritual tradition we are aware of report that from the Position of Self-Realization, all there is, is Perfect. Likewise, seekers who have enjoyed momentary glimpses of that Place say the same.
Be There, they tell us. And they’re right.
Editor’s Comment: We’re glad you found us. If you choose to visit often, consider bookmarking our “frequent visitors” Home Page. For more about that, click here.
Permit us to suggest that whenever you come across a spiritual site (or anything else) you do not agree with, you consider it carefully and in love. Remember, if God is Infinite, then all paths, however absurd they may appear, must eventually lead to the same Place. Thus, while each of us must find and travel the path that suits us best, we do well to recognize the One in them all. Otherwise, we are ultimately refusing relationship with God.
As an exercise, try this when you encounter any kind of opinion or position you do not like:
1. With your mind fully open (that is, free of all preconceptions), examine the offending opinion thoroughly, and make a list of all the things you find that are right about it. Then,
2. Examine your opinion or position just as thoroughly and open-mindedly, and make a list of all the things that are wrong with it.
You may be surprised to discover that the two of you share more areas of agreement than it seemed at first glance. At the least, you will have acquired a better understanding of the adherents of the other position. In the bargain, you may come across a few things they (whoever they are) believe or do that you want to adopt for yourself, and a few things you believe or do that probably ought to be discarded.
P.S. After sending the preceding response to you [and posting it here], we went outside to work in the vegetable garden. There, engaged in the endless task of weeding, we observed that all the difference between weeds, which we hate, and vegetables, which we love, is in our perception. Thus, there are undoubtedly culinary cultures that consider some of our weeds to be vegetables, and some of our vegetables to be weeds. What’s more, we suppose some (most?) of the weeds we work so hard to discourage may be every bit as edible and nutritious as the vegetables we work so hard to encourage. Surely, there is a lesson here.
To The Zoo Fence: [This question arose recently over a pot of tea.] What is the point of all the talk about Self-Realization when much of the world is starving, sick, or homeless, and most of the rest is either fighting each other or thinking about fighting each other? Isn’t that where one’s attention ought to be directed?
Editor’s Comment: This is a question that, sooner or later, in one form or another, haunts every serious seeker. Unfortunately, there is no one right answer. Each of us has to respond to it in our own time in our own way, with God’s Help.
The Teachers of virtually all spiritual traditions tell us that, in the end, the only certain and permanent way to heal the earth of its woes is to “Remember Who I AM.” To us, that means straightening out our lives, setting ourselves firmly, determinedly, and unconditionally onto a spiritual path to Self-Realization, and sticking to it.
Until we have actually made that life choice, we are sometimes naturally and understandably inclined to perceive it as wishful thinking or fanciful avoidism, or worse, and to argue against it. Certainly, before we ourselves made this choice, when we lived “in the world,” as it were, what now appears in TZF would have made little sense to us. But, increasingly, our perception of this issue (and everything else) changes. However unlikely these kinds of considerations seemed then, now they ring true. But this has been a long time coming. In the meantime, each of us has continually to find the balance point between diving within on the one hand and serving without on the other, and honestly strive to live there.
That said, it remains true, as someone somewhere said or wrote, “you cannot give what you do not have.” To offer to others any of the wonderful gifts so many of us feel ourselves in need of, gifts like a true sense of wholeness, peace, and joy, one must have them oneself. To us, that again means turning within, and awakening ourselves to the Self.
In the end, here as always, when in doubt, we are best advised to pray for Guidance, behave as if the Truth were True, and act, as nearly as we are able, in Love. We will surely do the right thing then.
To The Zoo Fence: At the American Holistic Nurses Conference held in Tampa last month [June, 1998], a phrase came up several times that I thought you might like. It is, “My life IS my spiritual path.” And so it is. Also, how about this definition of a soul by a six year-old friend of mine: “Air with an invisible brain”!
Editor’s Comment: Perfect! The beauty of recognizing one’s life as one’s spiritual path is that we need go nowhere or acquire nothing, for each of us already has a life. We have only to stop struggling against it, and embrace it, right now just as it is, precisely as we would a flesh-and-blood Guru or Teacher.
When we do so, every activity and experience, however apparently unpleasant or mundane, fantastic or majestic, becomes a spiritual practice. Consider how radically that transforms a day at the office or in the field or by the crib. Chores become devotions, conversations become prayers, and we are effectively in meditation all day long.
Here, we should include every element and aspect of our lives, real and imaginary, tangible and intangible, every person, every thought, every fear. And exclude nothing. Let the expression “God is my life” be taken literally. In a word, let us perceive everything everywhere always as the very One Itself.
Undertaken in earnest, this is a powerful path.
And it can be done, not only by nurses, but by every one of us, if only we will. All that is necessary is our determination to undertake it. The rest is already in place, simply waiting for us to perceive ourselves and it properly.
Now, of course, this good friend of TZF has got us wondering how we can ensure that, the next time we are in the hospital, the attending nurse will be a member of the American Holistic Nurses!
Finally, what is it about our lives that at sixty we have to relearn (remember) what we knew perfectly well to be true at six!