Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Gary Myth

When The Disappearance of the Universe first appeared -- I can't resist these puns -- many did not realize how serious it was about being funny, and how much fun is a serious part of the journey home, for those of us who chose A Course In Miracles as our guide. If the problem with the separation thought was primarily that the Son of God forgot to laugh at it (cf. T-27.VIII.6:2), and instead took it, and thus his separate (false!) identity seriously, then learning to laugh at ourselves is quite obviously an integral part of the journey home, as in fact the same section reminds us, when Jesus invites us that, "Together, we can laugh them both away,..." in which "both" refers to the "tiny mad" idea (and its effects), which by dint of forgetting to laugh uproariously at its silliness, now becomes "a serious idea, and possbile of both accomplishment and real effects."

Funnily enough at the time of the appearance of the Disappearance, the established notion was that it was imposible to popularize the Course without compromising it, and yet this book proceeded to do just that, bringing the concepts into the vernacular without one iota of compromise to its core tenets. The lack of seriousness and formality, as well as a host of other (apparently) obvious shortcomings was promptly held against the book and its author in some circles, and clearly it is not for everyone, as is the case with the Course itself to begin with. But for those of us who vibrate to Gary's writing, the book is a welcome expansion of Course literature. I find myself at the point where it is, along with the sequel, Your Immortal Reality, an integral part of my work with the Course, and I make no secret of that.

Implicit in the books, Gary has clearly made the commitment of sharing a lot of his learning experiences with us, allowing us to speed up our own learning through the opportunity to empathize with the slapstick comedy of the "Life of Gary," and have yet another opportunity to begin to see the humor of our own presumed lives for what it is, as we start to make our way home by practicing the forgiveness process of the Course.

Along with all of that, these books also represent a pincer movement on Christianity, in the sense that, by establishing the solid core of the Thomas Gospel, as Pursah does in Your Immortal Reality, the continuity between Jesus of the early days and Jesus now in the Course is shown, through inner consistency of the teaching. It becomes clearer than ever that Jesus teaches what he always taught and will always teach, the point being that Jesus is not the character who lived in the dream 2000 years ago, but Jesus is who he always was, the resurrected son of God, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and the symbol of our ability to remember who we are in truth, as we learn to forget the victim script that is the ego's fundamental ploy for establishing its false identity in the dream in which we firmly believe that we are the effect of the world, and the victim of circumstance. Thus Jesus was not the suffering figure of the Christian mythology which was first conceptualized by Paul, and which was preserved for posterity through the editing process of the so-called canonical books of the New Testament, in a temporarily (for some 1500+ years) successful attempt to hijack the story of his life by re-interpretation for the purpose of religion building, and to immunize the world against his appeal to follow him (in spirit), and to do what he taught.

The dream of victimhood is expressed on many levels in the mythology of our lives, starting from being born from our parents, or being delivered by a stork, if you choose to believe that,  our existence literally "caused" by influences seemingly beyond our control. In a more general sense we think we are the product of either evolution or a supposed creation by an external God.  Both of those models are really rationalizations of the same thing, namely that the body is who we are, and the body is not our fault. We are saddled with it, and it is all we have to accomplish our "heroic"  journey in this life, which is doomed to failure, unless we were to remember that there might be "another way," and choose to find our way home.

If we do seek "another way" earnestly, we must of necessity realize slowly but surely that Help on the journey home cannot come from the other inmates in the asylum (our babbling "friends" as they are described in the story of Job), who also believe this world is our home, and the primary symbol in the Western world of how that Help (Yehoshua=God's Help, or God Helps), shows up is Jesus, or as Gary prefers, J, the J guy, etc.

Arten and Purshah, representing Thaddeus and Thomas in Gary's experience merely testify to the reality of Jesus and his teaching, both then and now. The question is not at all if Arten and Pursah are "real," as some of Gary's detractors have made it out to be, the question is only can we follow in the spirit of Gary's example in our own lives, and accept the Guidance in the form it comes to us, and never mind how many times we fall down, just get up, dust ourselves off, and continue to practice forgiveness. So the question also is not why Arten and Pursah don't show up in my life, such is merely another ego ploy not to accept the Help in the form it is available to me, by whining that I want what Gary has. In reality it is not about the form of Gary's experience, that is as unsubstantial as anything - the stuff that dreams are made of - it is about the content of his story. He shares with us the story of that experience, for those of us who want to walk the same path.

The supposed 'controversy' (those who seek it will find it!) around Gary boils down to another exercise in vicarious salvation, which is perennially the kind the ego prefers. It did in Christianity, and it does now. In making a religion out of Jesus' teachings, Paul and those after him, diverted attention from the fact that "the secret of Salvation is but this, that you are doing this unto yourself," (ACIM:T-27.VIII.10:1) and that we need to change our mind, the Greek word for which was metanoia, which does not mean conversion (to Christianity), but it does evidently mean exactly what it says, changing your mind, just like Jesus still teaches in the Course. In stead by believing that Jesus sacrificed himself for our sins, we would escape from the need to do the hard work ourselves, and we can continue to "believe" the lie that is our so-called life. No wonder Paul became more popular than Jesus, for he promised in effect that we could have our cake and eat it too. The choice now became simply one of do you accept Jesus as your savior (Paul's story that Jesus saves us),  or do you not. And so a new dualism arises between those who think that when they come to the pearly gates, all they need to do is say: "I was with Jesus, honest!" or, alternatively: "I always knew he was a fraud, honest!"

Therefore, as is reflected in a recent article by Dr. Michael Mirdad about the "Gary controversy," the underlying dynamic is the wish to make a religion out of the Course. And we now get two parties who are in each other's hair, and the one party believes that when they come to the pearly gates, all they need to say is: "But I was with Gary, honest!" and the other party will tell St. Peter: "I always knew he was a fraud, I even wrote about it!" And so the attention once again has been diverted from our own need to forgive, and to heal our relationship with God, to something going on outside of us, and the ego wins again.

Instead, the only thing that matters is your own practice of the Course, and if Gary's books work for you, use them. If they don't appeal to you, leave them aside. And if you don't like the Course, choose another path.

Copyright, © 2007 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Holy Encounter

As Jan Willem Kaiser wrote at one point "... therefore every encounter between people is holy." (The book in question is not yet avalable in English.)

The Course discusses this concept extensively also in Chapter 8, Section 3, The Holy Encounter, where it says among other things:

When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. 2 As you see him you will see yourself. 3 As you treat him you will treat yourself. 4 As you think of him you will think of yourself. 5 Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself. 6 Whenever two Sons of God meet, they are given another chance at salvation. 7 Do not leave anyone without giving salvation to him and receiving it yourself. 8 For I am always there with you, in remembrance of

Making the other choice will be facilitated by our growing awareness as we practice the Course, that the ego is never an original thought. In order to choose to be part of the whole, you have to have had the whole first, which the ego then splits off from and denies its existence. So in the world we then make up every encounter we have is a reminder of our self which gives us the choice to act out the ego-choice all over again, and engage in another episode of the ego's soap opera, or to choose the Holy Spirit as our guide to lead us home and our brother with us, as the love we now reflect in our actions is extended through us. Hence lesson 342 says:

Brother, forgive me now. 2 I come to you to take you home with me. 3 And as we go, the world goes with us on our way to God.
unquote (ACIM:W-342.2:1-3)

The Course states in the "Hero" of the Dream section:
How willing are you to escape effects of all the dreams the world has ever had? 2 Is it your wish to let no dream appear to be the cause of what it is you do? 3 Then let us merely look upon the dream's beginning, for the part you see is but the second part, whose cause lies in the first. 4 No one asleep and dreaming in the world remembers his attack upon himself.
unquote (ACIM:T-27.VIII.4:1-4)

And so it is in every encounter that we have in the world, we are not in touch with our own choice to see ourselves as an individual first, and thus our brother as a stranger, outside ourselves, whom we accuse of stealing the peace of God from us, and we are intent on getting it back either by seduction (special love) or by attack (special hate). As we act this out, we are seeing only the effect in the dream, and not our choice (for the ego) which caused the dream in the first place.  And so it is we need a reminder that every encounter indeed is a holy encounter, in which we always have the opportunity to "choose once again," and choose to go home with our brother instead of perpetuating the ego's drama.

Should we choose to replace the miracle impulses with physical action, and choose the ego's drama, the Course discusses some of the consequences in the last section of Chapter 1, The Distortion of Miracle Impulses as follows:

Your distorted perceptions produce a dense cover over miracle impulses, making it hard for them to reach your own awareness. 2 The confusion of miracle impulses with physical impulses is a major perceptual distortion. 3 Physical impulses are misdirected miracle impulses. 4 All real pleasure comes from doing God's Will. 5 This is because not doing it is a denial of Self. 6 Denial of Self results in illusions, while correction of the error brings release from it. 7 Do not deceive yourself into believing that you can relate in peace to God or to your brothers with anything external.
unquote (ACIM:T-1.VII.1:1-7)

And so in every encounter we can choose to experience yet once again that we cannot truly relate to our brothers in peace with anything external, however much we try. The important thing about this is that we start to see that there is a continuous opportunity to make the other choice. This realization closely relates to the Course's observation in the section The Ego and False Autonomy:

It is reasonable to ask how the mind could ever have made the ego. 2 In fact, it is the best question you could ask. 3 There is, however, no point in giving an answer in terms of the past because the past does not matter, and history would not exist if the same errors were not being repeated in the present. 4 Abstract thought applies to knowledge because knowledge is completely impersonal, and examples are irrelevant to its understanding. 5 Perception, however, is always specific, and therefore quite concrete.
unquote (ACIM:T-4.II.1)

And it is in our relationships that as children from the ego we always seek to reenact the past, and set ourselves up as a victim all over again, firmly believing we are overcoming the past, when in fact we are setting ourselves up to repeat it, unless and until we make the other choice, which breaks us free of our "predestination," and sets us on the way to freedom with our brother. On this path in one form or another we come to what the Course describes as the holiest spot on earth:

The holiest of all the spots on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love. 2 And They come quickly to the living temple, where a home for Them has been set up. 3 There is no place in Heaven holier. 4 And They have come to dwell within the temple offered Them, to be Their resting place as well as yours. 5 What hatred has released to love becomes the brightest light in Heaven's radiance. 6 And all the lights in Heaven brighter grow, in gratitude for what has been restored.
unquote (ACIM:t-26.IX.6)

And so it is that it is in our very relationships, in what is "in front of our face," as the Thomas Gospel expresses it, that we have the sacred opportunity for healing, whenever we choose the Holy Spirit as our guide. The comment about the Distortion of Miracle Impulses that was cited above reflects how the recognition of our Self, which is inherent in every Encounter is immediately hi-jacked by the ego and translated into a transaction at the bodily level, where communication is by definition impossible, and by nature that is the ego's goal to prevent communication, since that rests on unity, and a denial of the separation.

Copyright, © 2006 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.