Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Kingdom is not of this world

Perhaps more than any other word of Jesus in the historical literature, this expression became the frequent victim of level confusion, in one of the ego's favorite defenses against Jesus' teachings, in which it always substitutes the concrete for the abstract, the specific for the concept, the thing for the idea.
Plato already understood that the ideas, the mind, is infinite and forever, and cannot be traded for one or another expression of the idea, as much as you can steal a table, but you can't steal the idea 'table'. And therein lies the rub...
In Margot Krikhaar's Awakening in Love, she deals with this issue extensively, and as always in a thoroughly practical manner, particularly in Chapter 10 of the second part of the book. She covers all the variations of ego-distortions, including one of the ego's favorite games, of rejecting the world, pointing out that all such ego-strategies do nothing but make the error real. As a result they make it harder, not easier to follow Jesus to his Kingdom which is not of this world, as in fact they obfuscate the choice by substituting a specific action for the acceptance of the idea.

What makes the ego so upset are notions like 'I need do nothing' (ACIM:T-18.VII), not to mention the level of insult it feels at passages such as these:
It is this that makes the holy instant so easy and so natural. You make it difficult, because you insist there must be more that you need do. You find it difficult to accept the idea that you need give so little, to receive so much. And it is very hard for you to realize it is not personally insulting that your contribution and the Holy Spirit's are so extremely disproportionate. You are still convinced that your understanding is a powerful contribution to the truth, and makes it what it is. Yet we have emphasized that you need understand nothing. Salvation is easy just because it asks nothing you cannot give right now. (ACIM:T-18.IV.7)
It should finally dawn on us that the reason a camel will sooner go through the eye of a needle than a 'rich man' will enter the Kingdom, is simply because you cannot hang on to the values of the world, and seek first the Kingdom all at once. It is one or the other, so as long as you maintain your investment in two mutually exclusive strategies, you will lose your investment. Ask any trader on Wall Street.

The point is that when we do become aware of our own contradictory investments, we should not consult with our ego, but ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit. There is nothing we can do to flick the switch, except flicking the switch, and that means asking the Holy Spirit and not the ego to look at our resistance a different way. Looking at it with Jesus or the Holy Spirit is what will whittle down the resistance, any actions the ego comes up with will only postpone that one choice by always again substituting something that will never work.

Thus the 'other' choice is not doing the opposite in worldly terms, but it is not getting trapped in the choice that never is a choice, by not making the choice by ourselves, but referring it to One Who can guide us out of the maze, exactly because we are then giving our ego the day off. We can always know we've chosen the ego if we are once again engaged in rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, and caught up in believing that this time it will make a difference. The ego as always is the magician, Maya, who makes it seem as if the choices it offers are real choices, yet either choice always means we chose the ego - that is the ego's 'gotcha'. The choice for 'another way' and a different teacher, simply means not buying into the ego's choice for two sides of the same coin, but stepping back from buying in altogether by referring the matter to the Holy Spirit for guidance, which means we are withdrawing our investment from the conflicts of the world, and putting our faith in the teacher whose Kingdom is NOT of this world. Whatever we then do on the practical level is done without investment, only because of the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and thus comes without the hidden price of sin, guilt and fear.

To come back to Chapter 10 in Margot's book once more, in it she shares a visionary experience she had as part of her process, which makes it very clear again that experiences will come to us, in the exact form that is most helpful, to help us along the way. In the process it becomes equally clear why in the end it is inevitable that we all choose for Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as the experience grows that the options the ego has to offer aren't any real choices at all.
Logion 47 of the Thomas Gospel (Pursah version) says:
A person cannot mount two horses or bend two bows. And a servant cannot serve two masters, or that servant will honor the one and offend the other.
Nobody drinks aged wine and immediately wants to drink young wine. Young wine is not poured into old wineskins, or they might break, and aged wine is not poured into new wineskins, or it might spoil. An old patch is not sewn onto a new garment, since it would create a tear.
The Course puts it this way:
The alternating investment in the two levels of perception is usually experienced as conflict, which can become very acute. But the outcome is as certain as God. (ACIM:T-2.III.3:9-10)

Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Baptism in the River Jordan

In the second book of Jed McKenna's enlightenment trilogy, Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment, the author visits a study group on the Bhagavadgita, and ends up making the point that studying the story is pointless unless and until you realize the story is about you, i.e. the reader. That's the only reason why it's relevant.
The same could be said for the Gospel, as in fact J.W.Kaiser, whose work I hope to translate completely into English, says in his 1950 translation and commentary of the Gospel according to Mark. He fully and completely proceeds from the viewpoint that the story that is being portrayed is nothing else but the pictorial expression accompanying the inner experiences of one who follows Jesus. In other words, the only way to read the story is to realize it is about you.

And the teaching never varies, though the imagery varies according to time and place, be it Krishna and Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Jesus in Galilee, Socrates in the allegory of the cave, or many other 'stories' that tell us of the way through the narrow gate. Today, we have A Course in Miracles, which expresses Jesus' teachings in language for the twenty-first century. It is framed in very psychologically profound language, and deals in the same terms, that the outside world is nothing but the out-picturing of an inner condition. "Projection makes perception" is what the Course says. And in the traditional Jesus literature it is the notion that to everyone 'outside the Kingdom' it all comes in parables.

Projection makes perception. The world you see is what you gave it, nothing more than that. But though it is no more than that, it is not less. Therefore, to you it is important. It is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition. As a man thinketh, so does he perceive. Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world. Perception is a result and not a cause. And that is why order of difficulty in miracles is meaningless. Everything looked upon with vision is healed and holy. Nothing perceived without it means anything. And where there is no meaning, there is chaos. (ACIM:T-21.in.1)

The reversal, the turning point, is born only from surrendering the ego's point of view completely, and the Course is geared to making our path lighter by offering the incremental approach of forgiveness and the miracle, which puts us on the path towards accepting the atonement. The transition never seems that easy in practice, for the ego is heavily defended against allowing us to look at its mechanics, since it knows they can't stand the light of day, and we are fanatically convinced that our life depends on clinging to the ego, and therein lies the 'dark night of the soul.' The guarantee that we'll get through it lies in the fact that we've already made the choice by that time, but what resists is the ego, which cannot go with us on that journey, and keeps trying to convince us it will be the end of us. Therefore the process is not so much the killing of the ego as some traditions would have it; it merely becomes moot, literally, because it just does not make any sense.

In the Course, the first stage is the 'little willingness' which is the beginning of doubting the ego, and realizing it's not what it's cracked up to be - the arbiter of all reality. It is only the arbiter of its 'reality,' and beholden only to its perceived self-interest, which is an inferior substitute for the reality of what we really are. In fact the Course makes clear that as long as we offer our little willingness to the Holy Spirit, we will not go this journey alone:
Never approach the holy instant after you have tried to remove all fear and hatred from your mind. That is its function. Never attempt to overlook your guilt before you ask the Holy Spirit's help. That is His function. Your part is only to offer Him a little willingness to let Him remove all fear and hatred, and to be forgiven. On your little faith, joined with His understanding, He will build your part in the Atonement and make sure that you fulfill it easily. And with Him, you will build a ladder planted in the solid rock of faith, and rising even to Heaven. Nor will you use it to ascend to Heaven alone. (ACIM:T-18.V.3)

In the New Testament there is the story of the baptism in the River Jordan, under John, whose Hebrew name, Yehochanan, means 'God gives blessings', or 'God gives graciously', and he is the symbol of what the Course calls the 'happy learner' and Jed McKenna describes as human adulthood - living in the growing awareness that everything we encounter is in fact a blessed learning opportunity on our way back home, and is always our very best learning opportunity by definition. In the acceptance thereof we've already let the ego go, for it would have us believe that it first has to judge everything that comes on our path in terms of benefits or detriment to our ego individuality. In our darkest hour it is good to remember, that all the mountains of seeming fear are nothing but the projections of the ego's resistance: we certainly can be stubborn.
It is this that makes the holy instant so easy and so natural. You make it difficult, because you insist there must be more that you need do. You find it difficult to accept the idea that you need give so little, to receive so much. And it is very hard for you to realize it is not personally insulting that your contribution and the Holy Spirit's are so extremely disproportionate. You are still convinced that your understanding is a powerful contribution to the truth, and makes it what it is. Yet we have emphasized that you need understand nothing. Salvation is easy just because it asks nothing you cannot give right now. (ACIM:T-18.IV.7)
Eventually the path leads through the deepest pit of the ego, and becomes the full fledged baptism in the events of our life -- the 'River Jordan' -- to the point of suffocation, because the ego cannot go along on that journey in any way shape or form. It means letting go completely, in spite of all the seeming terror of the ego's deepest pit. In Margot Krikhaar's book Awakening in Love, she shares her process with the descent into the ego's pit in very simple and straightforward language in Chapter 7 of the second part of the book, titled "Learning to look at what never was allowed to be seen." She documents also her experience that we do not go through this alone.

What is choked off is the ego identity, and what is reborn is the recognition that 'thou art My Son, in whom I am well pleased'. Or, in the words of the Course, we will finally wake up fully to the knowledge that we are still 'as God created us', and there will no longer be a way back to the ego, for it was nothing but an illusion of separate individuality, and never the truth. In Jed McKenna's analysis of Herman Melville's Moby Dick, it is Ishmael, the observer self, which wakes up from this descent into hell, or in this case the shipwreck, to realize 'nothing happened.' Therefore also the question people have at times: "What guarantees that we won't make the same mistake all over again?" is moot. The answer of the Atonement is: "What mistake?"

Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Keeping It Real

Mundus vult decipi, decipiatur ergo. An old Latin saying that always fascinated me. The world wants to be fooled, and therefore she will be.

How many times already have you changed your vote, and wondered afterwards if it made any difference? Democrat, republican, or whatever may be the case wherever you happen to be in the world... One way or another the ego has us tied up in knots with choices which are no choices, with alternatives which are no alternative. The only meaningful choice is forgiveness.

Again and again the ego still manages to get us all wrapped around the axle, for then it makes forgiveness out to be a special thing, that you reserve for special people, or special days. We forgive on Sundays in church, or on alternate Tuesdays, and we feel very special when we're especially forgiving. But that's not forgiveness, that is always what the Course calls forgiveness to destroy, because it implies condemnation, it entails making the error real first, and then magnanimously 'forgiving' it. So what then is forgiveness? Forgiveness is being honest about the ego's tomfoolery, understanding that the ego, i.e. 'the world' WANTS to be fooled, because that keeps the ego in business. The ego's choices are an implied vote for the ego, cloaked by an apparent choice among illusory alternatives, which always are two sides of the same coin, and that coin always has the ego' bust on it - Caesar, a President, etc. The choices the ego has to offer keep us 'safely' rooted in the world. This is Maya, this is the evil witch of many a fairy tale.

This is also why the news about abuse, frauds and deceit, about copyright violations, theft and so on is so non-stop, because as long as we can see the deceit in others we don't have to face it ourselves. But then... with the ego we will merely judge ourselves. The other choice, the only other choice is to turn to Jesus, and to learn to look at the situation with his forgiving eyes, which means to let go of all of our judgments and asking him to look at the issues for us and with us, and let the judgment go into the hands of the Holy Spirit by joining with Jesus.

We want to be deceived, cheated, abandoned, and so on because it supports and maintains the ego's victim-hood story, and thus keeps the ego in charge. Only once we truly 'get' the fact that we are deceived because WE want to be, do we have the option of making another choice. And so the other choice is to forgive, starting with forgiving ourselves for wanting to be fooled, instead of judging ourselves stupid and unworthy once again. This way we won't fall into the trap of merely switching our vote between alternatives that can never live up to their promises, but we can let love be our guide in picking the best candidate with forgiveness in our hearts, guided by love, and without believing that salvation comes from any choices in the world, ever, for the world merely wants to be fooled, and therefore she will be. That story will never change. Our only meaningful option is following Jesus to his Kingdom that is not of this world, and never will be.

Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, "My brother, choose again." He would not leave one source of pain unhealed, nor any image left to veil the truth. He would remove all misery from you whom God created altar unto joy. He would not leave you comfortless, alone in dreams of hell, but would release your mind from everything that hides His face from you. His Holiness is yours because He is the only power that is real in you. His strength is yours because He is the Self that God created as His only Son. (ACIM:T-31.VIII.3)
The common expression: 'Let's keep it real!' is an interesting study in the ego. More often then not, it is used  with a sigh of irritation, and the gist of it is to 'stick to the facts' and  to thwart any attempt to really look at the issues and get honest, because again what's real to the ego are the choices that the world has to offer, and it would not tolerate anything to question the reality of those choices. Therefore what's real to the ego is exactly the unreality of this world of illusory choices, and what the Course calls the real world is the way we live once we have forgiven ourselves completely for wanting to be fooled in the first place, and that is the only thing that will ensure that we won't be. At that point we've put the ego out of business, we've put Maya out of business, because we chose instead for the judgment of the Holy Spirit.

Resign now as your own teacher. This resignation will not lead to depression. It is merely the result of an honest appraisal of what you have taught yourself, and of the learning outcomes that have resulted. Under the proper learning conditions, which you can neither provide nor understand, you will become an excellent learner and an excellent teacher. But it is not so yet, and will not be so until the whole learning situation as you have set it up is reversed. (ACIM:T-12.V.8:3-7)

Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Level Confusion

In the meantime, I'm working on the translation of Chapter 5 of the 2nd part of Margot Krikhaar's book, Awakening in Love. Among other things this chapter speaks to the idea over level confusion, a concept in the Course that is sometimes hard to understand at first. It is a concept also that goes back through the entire Judaeo-Christian tradition, and is constantly horribly misunderstood. In the hands of the ego, it predictably becomes another tool of sin, guilt and fear. The original intent is very clear however, and the Course points the way to restoring it, though in the end the complete restoration will be experiential.

The fundamental idea of level confusion is based on the Course's teaching of 'Level One'--the level of abstract truth, which speaks of Heaven, God, Oneness, Mind, Love, Reality, etc. as our only reality, and level two as the dualistic experience of the world which only flows from an illusory decision to separate. At level One, there is no world, there is only a oneness which is one and all inclusive and of which we are a part. This is however not our daily experience. So the Course also speaks to us on 'level two' which is the level of our concrete experience in the world, which we mistake for reality to the extent that we are identified with our egoic individuality, where we believe the body and the world are our reality, and we are not in touch that we made them up ourselves--not on the level of the conscious mental processes which are associated with brain activity, and which we mistake for our mind. The Buddhist calls it 'monkey mind.' The projection of the holografic reality happens in the mind, on a level outside of our individual bodily experience in the time/space hologram. Subconsciously, we would say, because we are completely dissociated from the mind, limiting ourselves to the conscious thinking of our 'monkey mind.'

The process of forgiveness as the Course offers it, and which is a restatement anno 2000 of what Jeshua taught in Palestine 2000 years ago, in effect is a way to dissociate our dissociation, the separation thought, the ego. In the Course's terms it helps us to 'deny the denial of truth'. (ACIM:T-12.II.1:5) Our 'stinking thinking' operates always and only at the level of WIIFM (What's In It For Me). It is shortsighted and geared to survival, and places us firmly on the battlefield alongside Arjuna. And the first sign of waking up is to realize the absurdity of the battle, of brother killing brother, and then turning to our Inner Teacher. He may be Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, or Kuan Yin in the Buddhist tradition, or Jesus in the Western tradition as in the Course. He is the Symbol of Heaven, of God's Love.

In an ego conflict, the threefold forgiveness process of the Course points the way out:

  1. To start to question the ego's kill or be killed dynamic, and instead ask ourselves: "Would I accuse myself of doing this?" That opens the door, because it shifts our attention back from the world (effect) where we are unable to change anything, to the mind (cause), the only place where we can change anything...
  2. Is to look at the situation with Jesus, i.e. without guilt--having just made the first step to objectivity by at least questioning our ego's foregone conclusions. We may not know how to stop ourselves, but we can always:
  3. Ask our Inner Teacher to see things his way instead, and by withdrawing our judgment we will have made room for the judgment and guidance from the Holy Spirit. A that point the ego has stepped out of the way. 
What this also means, is that we have backed away from Level 2 and returned to Level 1, by joining with Jesus, and almost literally asking him if we can borrow his glasses, for ours are pretty foggy at times like that. At that level the guidance will always be the most loving solution for all concerned, not the unilateral and conflict-prone pushing of one party's interest. We have shifted out of fear and into Love.

The ego does all it can to prevent this kind of a disastrous outcome. So when we ask for Love, which is always our deepest will, this is a threat to the ego, for at Level 1, Love is all there is, and the ego is out of business. So, much like in the elections, the ego constantly offers us seeming alternatives, which are really all the same, because they implicitly reaffirm our choice for the ego. So when the ego hears us calling for Love, it--like the expert juggler that it is--promptly comes up with a love object of some sort, an idol. That could be anything that tickles our fancy, sex, food, drink, drugs, important functions, fame, fortune, Nobel prizes and whatever it takes to keep us convince of the importance of what we are doing in the world. The ego pulls a rabbit out of a hat, to distract our attention and keep us unaware that we are reaffirming the ego's power over it by whatever choice we make from the ego's menu, which is always at level 2, and which will have more options than the menu of the Holy Spirit, which has just one option: Love. 

In short, the ego is the provider of substitutes, surrogates, idols, something to worship, in lieu of the content, it  is the Wizard of Oz, it is the Emperor without clothes, the Hyacinth Bucket of the soul, insisting it is a Boucquet, and investing all available energy in keeping up appearances, and keeping us focused on problem solving in the world, lest we should ever remember we have a mind, let alone start to wake up. Perhaps the most monumental such substitution is the Pope in the RC Church, whose title is 'Vicar of Christ", according to the operative theology, he holds a spot for Jesus when he returns. By virtue of that title alone, he is the denial of the resurrection, and the theological model goes hand in hand with the notion that the Second Coming should be the return of Jesus in he body in this world, whereas the Course, in line with its overall metaphysical framework, has the opposite notion, that the Second Coming is about us folowing Jesus and joining with him in the resurrection (in the mind). The Course's definition of temptation is convincing the son of God that he is a body. The Course's version of the Lord's Prayer points the way out.

Forgive us our illusions, Father, and help us to accept our true relationship with You, in which there are no illusions, and where none can ever enter. Our holiness is Yours. What can there be in us that needs forgiveness when Yours is perfect? The sleep of forgetfulness is only the unwillingness to remember Your forgiveness and Your Love. Let us not wander into temptation, for the temptation of the Son of God is not Your Will.  And let us receive only what You have given, and accept but this into the minds which You created and which You love. Amen. (ACIM:T-16.VII.12) 
Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A House is not a Home

Salvation is no more than a reminder this world is not your home. Its laws are not imposed on you, its values are not yours. And nothing that you think you see in it is really there at all. This is seen and understood as each one takes his part in its undoing, as he did in making it. He has the means for either, as he always did. The specialness he chose to hurt himself did God appoint to be the means for his salvation, from the very instant that the choice was made. His special sin was made his special grace. His special hate became his special love. (ACIM:T-25.VI.6)
The ego's game is substitution, and always level confusion, it offers us a specific something in lieu of content and meaning, always passing off something inferior (form) for the real thing (content/meaning). And once it conned us the first time, it then helps us focus all our energies into maintaining the substitute in lieu of the real thing, until it kills us, which it inevitably will. Our real home is in Heaven, and the ego is always very focused on providing us with something to call home in this world in its place. And the National Association of Realtors has been happy to lend a helping hand by appealing to human emotions - and murdering the English language in a way that would have done Goebbels proud - by insisting we are buying a home, when the only thing you can buy is a house, really. This type of stuff is just emblematic for the level of effort the ego makes to obfuscate truth and to pass off its substitutes for the real thing, and in the process it always limits us to one concrete manifestation of what it is we are looking for. As one of my favorite con-artists used to say: "Logic and reason are just the horse the emotions ride in on." The realtors have understood that one a long time ago.

In recent US domestic political and economic history the whole thing converged into a toxic brew, when with typical slight of hand, a confusion of cause and effect, home ownership was substituted for financial stability, and predictably created the opposite result, which is also emblematic for the ego - creating the very problem it pretends to solve. As Bill Clinton understood, it was also a way of getting votes; votes from the people he was feeding to the wolves, and campaign contributions from the wolves, and then whahappen...? The big print giveth and the small print taketh away: the ego always gives in order to take, and it is completely inimical to the laws of spirit, which say giving and receiving are the same. We are now blessed with shelves full of books on what caused the economic collapse of 2008, and of course they all miss the point as long as they do not get to this fundamental issue of substitution and level confusion. Once you get that, it is clear that it is the ego which is the disease, and like a cancer - the emperor of all maladies, as a recent book calls it - always ends up growing out of control until it kills us, which is its real purpose.

Thus this financial bubble, like other similar bubbles, and like physical cancers are just wild growths that are parasitical to the organism, and kill it. It is just part of the insanity of the system that self destructive activities like this are counted in the plus column as far as GNP is concerned, and Marx would relish the moment to reaffirm his astute observation that capitalism would gladly sell us the rope to hang ourselves, forgetting only that communism would do the same thing just as happily--just think of the arms race. For all of that, the answers only come once we become ready to admit that this world is not our home, never mind how well we decorate it. All these crises are the same, and the only question is when are we ready to seek where the answers are: always inside, never out. Charles Mackay' Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, is as relevant today as when it was first written, but we won't learn from it until we finally wake up to the fact that all this insanity is merely the logical result of one wrong decision we made - the choice for the tiny, mad idea of the separation - which moreover can be corrected. As long as we keep trying to fix the problem outside, we'll merely create the next crisis.

In short, there is nothing extraordinary about these popular delusions, and there is no wicked witch forcing us to get caught up in them, unless we go looking for the wicked witch, by once again choosing the ego over the Holy Spirit. And it invariably takes us for a ride. Thus the power of Maya, the power of the wicked witch, of the Wizard of Oz, collapses into naught if we choose not to get enchanted by it but rather look at it with forgiveness, and change our mind:
The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. No matter what the form of the attack, this still is true. Whoever takes the role of enemy and of attacker, still is this the truth. Whatever seems to be the cause of any pain and suffering you feel, this is still true. For you would not react at all to figures in a dream you knew that you were dreaming. Let them be as hateful and as vicious as they may, they could have no effect on you unless you failed to recognize it is your dream.
This single lesson learned will set you free from suffering, whatever form it takes. The Holy Spirit will repeat this one inclusive lesson of deliverance until it has been learned, regardless of the form of suffering that brings you pain. Whatever hurt you bring to Him He will make answer with this very simple truth. For this one answer takes away the cause of every form of sorrow and of pain. The form affects His answer not at all, for He would teach you but the single cause of all of them, no matter what their form. And you will understand that miracles reflect the simple statement, " I have done this thing, and it is this I would undo." 

Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Direction to Mount Olympus

How do you get to the top of Mount Olympus? Make sure your every step is directed that way.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!

Or, the way Margot Krikhaar writes in her new book, Awakening in Love,  about doing the workbook lessons of the Course: "And remember that it is not about the tempo. It is about which way you are headed: in the direction of the light.

This all really boils down to the Course's concept of the "little willingness:"
Salvation, perfect and complete, asks but a little wish that what is true be true; a little willingness to overlook what is not there; a little sigh that speaks for Heaven as a preference to this world that death and desolation seem to rule. (ACIM:T-26.VII.10:1)  
So the change is that instead of being so wrongheaded all the time and giving our vote to the ego, we start giving our vote to the Holy Spirit, and on top of that to realize that when we get ourselves all wrong footed, we can start over at any time. The Course is full of examples of Jesus' infinite patience with us - he evidently understands the ego's resistance quite well.

Margot in her book shares with us all her own stumbles and challenges and at times it could be quite tough to imagine that anything good is going to come of all this, just like in our own life we can at times completely lose it in the process. The eventual outcome however makes it very clear that it is exactly right that all we need is a 'little' willingness, just enough to keep being pointed in the right direction. The willingness to leave decisions to the Holy Spirit, instead of arrogating on behalf for an illusory ego-self. What makes Margot's book so powerful is that she shares her process with all of this in a way that is totally disarming, and an invitation to look at ourselves honestly, and to stop covering things up, but instead to start looking at them honestly all the time, with Jesus' love to guide us, till one day we move past the ego. That is what the Course calls accepting the Atonement, and the best guidance on the process is like the old Greek saying that you get to the top of Mount Olympus by simply making sure that your every step is in that direction. All you ever have to worry about is the step you are doing right now. The same again is implied in the notion of Occam's Razor. Do not fall for the ego's complexity.

In the words of Lesson 188:
Why wait for Heaven? 2 Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes. 3 The light is in them now. 4 Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all. 5 Light is not of the world, yet you who bear the light in you are alien here as well. 6 The light came with you from your native home, and stayed with you because it is your own. 7 It is the only thing you bring with you from Him Who is your Source. 8 It shines in you because it lights your home, and leads you back to where it came from and you are at home. (ACIM:W.pI.188.1)
Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Ego's Juggling Act

In the first chapter of part II of her book Awakening in Love, Margot Krikhaar speaks of learning to distinguish the Holy Spirit's Voice from that of the ego, and she devotes some attention to the deceptive similarities the ego can sometimes produce. Like everything she writes, her way of saying things is very incisive, simple and straightforward, and will no doubt be helpful to many of her readers. About our resistance to listening to the Voice of the Holy Spirit she writes: "In learning to listen to guidance, the biggest problem is not how to do it. The biggest problem is if you really want guidance." And that just about sums it all up.

The ego is a juggling act, and like a magician it permanently keeps our attention wrapped up in perceptions which actually veil the problem, and keep us engaged in solving problems of the ego's making, in order to divert us from ever examining the one fundamental premise on which the ego is based:  the thought of separation. It is the Course's path of forgiveness that allows us incrementally to return to the one place where we can make a change, which is in our mind. And the only choice we really can make is the choice to listen to the Holy Spirit more and more as we learn to see through the falsehoods of the ego. Until we accept the Atonement for ourselves, which is our only real job as students of the Course.

As long as our attention is riveted on fixing problems of the ego's making, its reign is unchallenged, so it is always afraid of us listening inside, and paying attention to anything other than the show it is putting on. One of the reasonable guises of the ego is why try anything different - it's always been done this way. That is the logic of the Samaritan woman at the well, Jacob's well - we drank this water forever and a day, including our forefathers as long as anyone can remember. Against that 'impressive' tradition, there is the choice of the water that would not make us thirst again. We have to become like the Samaritan woman, realizing that none of our special relationships that bind us to the world are worth anything. That is what looking at the ego means, daring to recognize that it has nothing to offer. We can only do that with Jesus' help beside us, and by the same token he offers us the water that will not make us thirst again. The choice will become inevitable eventually, as we realize more and more that the emperor has no clothes on.

Ken Wapnick in one of my favorite descriptions calls the ego's operating routine a 'maladaptive solution to a nonexistent problem' and the upshot is that if we let go of the ego, we will merely wake up to our true selves, and it's a lot less tiring than keeping up the high energy charade which is the false self. The end of our identification with the ego, is not the end of us, as the ego would have us believe, but the end of its rule over us and the beginning of freedom.

Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Caterpillar and the Buttefly; Awakening in Love

Wer nicht stirbt eh' er stirbt, der verdirbt wenn er stirbt. It was Angelus Silezius who said that, as I just found out courtesy of Annelies Ekeler. I had thought it was Jakob Boehme who said that, and if not he, that it was Meister Eckhart. Both were German mystics, but it so turned out it was Angelus Silezius, and he was born in 1624, which was also the year that Jakob Boehme died. Lao Tze said: What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.

What the Angelus Silesius saying means is that whoever does not die before he dies, perishes when he dies. The reason is simple enough, if our consciousness is still stuck in identification with the body, we think we perish when the body dies, but if we have woken up to the universal awareness which the Course calls Salvation, or accepting the Atonement, and which tradition calls Enlightenment, or Awakening, we have already overcome the fear of dying, and moreover will be clear we are not our body. Conversely, the process of awakening is often experienced as a death experience at first, because we die as who we (thought we) were, to wake up as who we are in truth. In that transition what dies is our identification with the body. The awakening means that we remember who we are in truth.

The Course addresses this issue of identifying with the body, with the crucifixion, in many ways, including here:
Learn, then, the happy habit of response to all temptation to perceive yourself as weak and miserable with these words:  
2 I am as God created me. 3 His Son can suffer nothing. 4 And I am His Son. (ACIM:T-31.VIII.5)
and  it makes clear the temptation really is the temptation of seeing our brothers, and therefore ourselves, as bodies, as individuals, separate and independent from God, as very perishable bodies, which denies that who we really are in truth is God's Son, one with him. In the New Testament account this is powerfully expressed in the baptism scene in the River Jordan, under John the Baptist, where Jesus sees the Heavens part, and hears the voice for God saying that he is "My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The Course will say that we remember in that moment of accepting the Atonement, that nothing really happened, that there was no separation. It is the moment of remembering of who we are in truth. And anyone who practices the Course has that recognition somewhere along the line, and while we may yet forget it plenty of times, there is no way back any longer, for it is no longer quite as deniable as it seemed to be before we consciously had such experience. And eventually the time comes to accept it once and for all.

Margot Krikhaar delivers a powerful description of this experience in her book, and in fact several times had the sense that it was like dying, but only in looking back could she now be of help to the next person by sharing her experiences. For while nobody can do it for you, as the experiences are completely unique to an individual, still we can be of help to one another once we live the butterfly, testifying to caterpillars of life after the chrysalis stage. So while we live like caterpillars, in our individual consciousness, all that seems ever so far fetched, but then we may be lucky enough to see a few glimpses along the way. Practicing forgiveness steadily is likely conducive to some moments of clarity, which then give us the strength to go on forgiving as we plow through the seemingly endless mess of the ego's Augias stables. In the end, the awakening then is the return to what was and is and always will be the truth of who we are:

1. Why wait for Heaven? 2 Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes. 3 The light is in them now. 4 Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all. 5 Light is not of the world, yet you who bear the light in you are alien here as well. 6 The light came with you from your native home, and stayed with you because it is your own. 7 It is the only thing you bring with you from Him Who is your Source. 8 It shines in you because it lights your home, and leads you back to where it came from and you are at home. (ACIM:W.pI.188.1)
Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Christ of St John of the Cross

Towards the end of the third Chapter of Margot Krikhaar's Awakening in Love -  at what she points out is the end of her story - she describes very vividly what it is like to truly be looking at the ego's foibles with Jesus from above the battlefield, after one has truly accepted the atonement for oneself. She notes how she might still see her own typical ego reactions, but now purely as an observer, as the identification with it is dissolved one and for all. As long as the ego, our individual existence, informs our thinking, every ounce of strength of our thought system remains dedicated to hiding from sight the one insane premise on which that thought system rests, namely the notion that the body (i.e. our individual existence) does exist. The shift in vantage point once we accept the atonement is thus very graphic.

We may be reminded of the early chapters of the Course, where Jesus also points out that the world has misinterpreted the crucifixion, and he puts it down as merely the last useless journey, which we should not take seriously, but merely as the necessary preamble to what comes next - the resurrection. It should be of no more lasting significance than putting out the trash - cleaning up after yourself after you are done with the ego.
3. The journey to the cross should be the last "useless journey." 2 Do not dwell upon it, but dismiss it as accomplished. 3 If you can accept it as your own last useless journey, you are also free to join my resurrection. 4 Until you do so your life is indeed wasted. 5 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. 6 Such repetitions are endless until they are voluntarily given up. 7 Do not make the pathetic error of "clinging to the old rugged cross." 8 The only message of the crucifixion is that you can overcome the cross. 9 Until then you are free to crucify yourself as often as you choose. 10 This is not the gospel I intended to offer you. 11 We have another journey to undertake, and if you will read these lessons carefully they will help prepare you to undertake it. (ACIM:T-4.in.3)
Salvador Dali's painting of The Christ of St. John of the Cross may have some interesting parallels here. The painting is based on an original drawing of St. John of the Cross, where we look down on the crucifixion scene - almost suggestive of seeing it disappear in the rear view mirror - and Dali reports he himself had an inspiration that he should paint it without the nails as that would distract from the painting. In short, both the original drawing by St. John of the Cross, who very clearly had accepted the atonement for himself, and must have had some intimations of what it meant to look on the crucifixion from above the battleground, and Dali's rendering seem to increasingly reflect looking back on the crucifixion, from beyond, where any suffering has become moot. No wonder the painting was assaulted by a religious fanatic for apparently that exact reason, as the suffering on the Cross is a central tenet in the sacrificial theology of Christianity.

This painting maybe strangely reminiscent of Jesus' emphasis in the Course that he did not suffer on the cross, because he knew he was not his body, so that the world may have thought it was attacking him by attacking his body, he did not have the same interpretation, and thus did not share in the attack, did not feel attacked. Readers of Ken Wapnick's biography of Helen Schucman, Absence from Felicity may recall the passage on pages 411-12, where Helen saw Michelangelo's Pietà and heard Mary say in her mind 'this means nothing,' reflecting the same awareness. The intensity of that experience is even more poignant if you realize Helen's very strong relationship to the figure of Mary throughout her life.

It may be helpful to reflect once more on the pertinent passages in Chapter 6 of the Course, in the section The Meaning of the Crucifixion:
2. The crucifixion is nothing more than an extreme example. 2 Its value, like the value of any teaching device, lies solely in the kind of learning it facilitates. 3 It can be, and has been, misunderstood. 4 This is only because the fearful are apt to perceive fearfully. 5 I have already told you that you can always call on me to share my decision, and thus make it stronger. 6 I have also told you that the crucifixion was the last useless journey the Sonship need take, and that it represents release from fear to anyone who understands it. 7 While I emphasized only the resurrection before, the purpose of the crucifixion and how it actually led to the resurrection was not clarified then. 8 Nevertheless, it has a definite contribution to make to your own life, and if you will consider it without fear, it will help you understand your own role as a teacher.
T-6.I.3. You have probably reacted for years as if you were being crucified. 2 This is a marked tendency of the separated, who always refuse to consider what they have done to themselves. 3 Projection means anger, anger fosters assault, and assault promotes fear. 4 The real meaning of the crucifixion lies in the apparent intensity of the assault of some of the Sons of God upon another. 5 This, of course, is impossible, and must be fully understood as impossible. 6 Otherwise, I cannot serve as a model for learning.
T-6.I.4. Assault can ultimately be made only on the body. 2 There is little doubt that one body can assault another, and can even destroy it. 3 Yet if destruction itself is impossible, anything that is destructible cannot be real. 4 Its destruction, therefore, does not justify anger. 5 To the extent to which you believe that it does, you are accepting false premises and teaching them to others. 6 The message the crucifixion was intended to teach was that it is not necessary to perceive any form of assault in persecution, because you cannot be persecuted. 7 If you respond with anger, you must be equating yourself with the destructible, and are therefore regarding yourself insanely. (ACIM:T-6.I.2-4)

Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Awakening in Love, The Dark Night of the Soul

Most of us don't really know what to make of the famous classic The Dark Night of the Soul of St. John of the Cross, and the world got all upset when Mother Theresa's diaries were published, full of material that clearly reflected episodes of her dark night of the soul, and evidently should have never been published. Margot Krikhaar, in her book Awakening in Love, shares much of her inner process with the reader, which is a profound invitation to encourage us to engage in the process, and her sharing of her dark episodes can be helpful exactly because they are written from the standpoint of the eventual inner clarity she arrived at. At that point she could see how everything in her life had been helpful for her to get to the point of what the Course calls accepting the atonement, aka awakening, or enlightenment - when we no longer identify with the ego, but see with Shakespeare in total clarity that all the world's a stage, and join with our brothers in finding the way back home, as forgiveness becomes the single purpose of everything in life.

Jed McKenna in his Enlightenment books (see www.wisefoolpress.com, and www.jedmckenna.com ) discusses the process that he calls autolysis as a way of getting our ego struggles and resistance on paper, noticing how our thought processes are a perfect way of hiding the answers, because we spend most of our lives running around in circles without ever facing the fact how absurdly illogical our thinking really is. One of his funnier comments is that your head is no place to keep your thoughts, and his point is clearly that the illogic only becomes visible when you try to commit the insanity to paper. The process of writing stuff down in a diary, if it is practiced with persistence and perseverance and the determination not to stop before we get to the truth, will eventually bring us to what Jiddu Krishnamurti calls 'the end of thought.'

This writing process, particularly if we practice it in the style the Course would suggest, namely with the love of Jesus beside us, can often also produce the answers we need - they are what remains when the insanity is finally seen for what it is without recrimination. The whole point of the Course's forgiveness process is that looking with our ego would only make us more self-critical and judgmental in the extreme: how could I be so stupid... etc. The presence of Jesus, who represents the love and forgiveness of the Holy Spirit, (and he's not particular, it could be Quan Yin, Lao Tse, Krishna, Theresa of Avila, Rebbetzin Chaya Sara Kramer, or whoever that fills that role for you), means that you can forgive the issues that come up and ask for help in looking at it with the vision of the Holy Spirit, and from that the answers come through. In the OT this is symbolized in the story of Job, who first is listening to his old (=ego) friends, but then becomes quiet and starts listening to the Voice for God.

This inner process of cleaning out the Augias stables, is messy, and it is also very individual. Only at a very high level of abstraction - in the eyes of the Holy Spirit - does it become simple, because ontologically the issues are always the same in one form or another. When you're in these episodes they are never clear, and very threatening at times. In that way St. John of the Cross was helpful in writing about it in retrospect, from the calm that resulted from his process in the end, likewise Margot Krikhaar writes in a way that invites us in and constantly helps us to look at our own process, which may be ever so different in form, but is always the same in the end. And in the end, clarity always results, once we really forgive, instead of yet again muddling through with our own judgment.

1. The real world is the state of mind in which the only purpose of the world is seen to be forgiveness. 2 Fear is not its goal, for the escape from guilt becomes its aim. 3 The value of forgiveness is perceived and takes the place of idols, which are sought no longer, for their "gifts" are not held dear. 4 No rules are idly set, and no demands are made of anyone or anything to twist and fit into the dream of fear. 5 Instead, there is a wish to understand all things created as they really are. 6 And it is recognized that all things must be first forgiven, and then understood. (ACIM:T-30.V.1)

What is so powerful in the process of the Course is that the path of forgiveness leads us through the mess with the growing awareness of Jesus' presence, in part in the words of the Course itself, but then increasingly also in our inner experience. His is a voice that we knew before, and always recognize, but for most of our lives we repress that voice out of awareness, as long as we are in the service of the false rulers, be they Pharao, or uncle Laban, and all of the figures that fill those roles in our lives. Hence the Course says that the ego always speaks first and is always wrong, just like Job's old friends were always wrong.

1. Remember that the Holy Spirit is the Answer, not the question. 2 The ego always speaks first. 3 It is capricious and does not mean its maker well. 4 It believes, and correctly, that its maker may withdraw his support from it at any moment. 5 If it meant you well it would be glad, as the Holy Spirit will be glad when He has brought you home and you no longer need His guidance. 6 The ego does not regard itself as part of you. 7 Herein lies its primary error, the foundation of its whole thought system. (ACIM:T-6.IV.1)
In retrospect we can see how everything in our growing up, even the children's games we played are pure ego training, like hide and seek - it merely models the ego's lessons of hiding from God, modeled in the old testament as Adam hiding from God in the bushes, because he is ashamed. Thus the un-learning of the forgiveness process, which helps us un-doing the ego, is like retracing our steps to the original point of choice. The same thing happens in the autolysis process, as the light of the Holy Spirit simply dissolves the ego, which one way or another cannot stand the light, and only keeps its power over us by our not looking. There is however another way, and Awakening in Love is a powerful demonstration of it, and an inspiration for every Course student to commit to seeing it through. The Course is the invitation to make the other choice, simply because we get sick and tired of being sick and tired with the ego system. Margot Krikhaar's book is a helpful demonstration of what it looks like to make the other choice in very practical day to day terms, she is the girl next door, who picked up the Course and followed it all the way to the end, to end up living the solution, not the problem.
1. Temptation has one lesson it would teach, in all its forms, wherever it occurs. 2 It would persuade the holy Son of God he is a body, born in what must die, unable to escape its frailty, and bound by what it orders him to feel. 3 It sets the limits on what he can do; its power is the only strength he has; his grasp cannot exceed its tiny reach. 4 Would you be this, if Christ appeared to you in all His glory, asking you but this: 
5 Choose once again if you would take your place among the saviors of the world, or would remain in hell, and hold your brothers there.
6 For He has come, and He is asking this. (ACIM:T-31.VIII.1)
In reflecting on the Western tradition I grew up in (though other cultures are not too different), it is worth reflecting on the strange way we've dealt with the matter of spiritual awakening. The process of declaring people saints, and treating them more or less as as a sort of oddities is almost off-putting, alienating. But the Course speaks right from the outset about 'love's presence' as our 'natural inheritance,' moreover throughout the book it makes it clear that 'the outcome is as certain as God.' Jed McKenna also speaks of 'human adulthood' as an inevitable development, and refers to the state society accepts as 'adulthood' as a case of arrested development. Jesus in the Course refers to the what the world calls adulthood as spiritual childhood.
The Course also is clearly pitched at spiritual toddlers, who are only just starting out. It may be worth reflecting that besides the few who were acknowledged as 'official saints,' there have been any number of enlightened people who were never known by anyone, traditionally this is reflected among other things in the Chassidic teaching of the thrity-six zaddikim who no one knows who they are. For all you know, the cleaning lady, or a shoe-shiner may be an enlightened person. For really, what is left to talk about - unless like Margot, you are called to teach in the formal sense. And so, since truth is one, and is the only thing that really is, there is no other option but ending up there. Margot's book as a testimony of one person's journey is a very powerful help for anyone who becomes conscious of the call in their own life.

Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

On Translating Awakening in Love

"Translation however demands more than knowledge and dedication. For translation is at the same time interpretation. Translation demands more than the knowledge of both languages. Translation demands understanding." (J.W.Kaiser as quoted in The Gospel as a Spiritual Path, p. 89)

Those words are always with me. They come from J.W. Kaiser's reflections on the job of translating the Gospel according to Mark, and express his awareness that many gospel translations are so horribly inadequate, because the translators may be good linguists, but in most cases evidently foreigners to the inner process which the gospel story conveys. This makes complete sense once one understands the fundamentalist nature of all religion, and why it consistently mistakes the manifest content for the meaning, and thereby obfuscates the meaning. The Christian tradition is the living proof, starting with the substitution of the worldly institution of the church for the spiritual community of joining with Jesus in the mind.

Our experience in learning the Course is full of the same pitfalls, and Margot Krikhaar pays attention to this in her book Awakening in Love, which I'm currently translating. Being a bit of an intellectual, she sees in herself, and thus helps me as her reader, and in this case translator, to see in myself the tendency of wanting to master A Course in Miracles, and in this way many of us fall for the temptation to mistake intellectual mastery of the material for the practice of it, when in fact it is nothing but an ego-tactic to prevent us from practicing the Course at all costs. After all, if I already understand it, why should I have to practice it? What a wonderful way of keeping Jesus out of the house once again: No need today.

Such are my current adventures in this translation process - constant opportunities to recognize my own struggles with the material of the Course through her account of her own experiences, and at the same time that process of recognition and the subsequent forgiveness naturally helps me again as a translator. I find myself getting completely "in" to the material.

The story of the book is the story of Margot's life, first upto finding the Course, then with the Course, progressively practicing it, up to the point of her experience of awakening. Finally in the second half of the book, there is her own unique summary of the path of the Course in twelve topical recaps that were channeled from Jesus, and which give an amazingly compact rendering of the most important features of A Course in Miracles.

Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 02, 2011

"Awakening in Love" by Margot Krikhaar

I've started some preparatory work on the translation of the book Ontwaken in Liefde, by Margot Krikhaar - the English title of which will be Awakening in Love. It is a remarkable book by Dutch author Margot Krikhaar, about her journey with A Course in Miracle, told in fresh language, evidently born from first hand experience. Her presentation is so personal and completely disarming that it invites us in, and there is much the reader can identify with, but even if not, it invites to self examination about what happened in our own lives at similar stages.

The title is very evocative of the basic message of the Course, that once the obstacles to Love's presence are forgiven all, what the ego imagines will be the destruction of it, ends up being a non event, the loss of what never was and an awakening in Love - enlightenment or resurrection are other words for it - because the only thing left is love, if nothing else because love is an absence, and impossibility, of conflict. After all, in oneness, there is nothing to disagree with, and all our fuss was just a silly mistake.

And, while I was working on translating the beginning of the book, I read a recent entry in her online diary, here: Margot Krikhaar Diary 8/29/2011 (in Dutch). In this entry she relates a probably last visit with her now 14 year old son, last because she is dying of cancer, and saying her goodbyes. In her usual frank style she shares how she still had difficulty dealing with what had clearly been a dysfunctional relationship in her life, because she was never able to really connect with this child, who was more his father's son than hers from very early on. She also shares about her experience of the presence of Jesus as she is looking at all of those issues for the last time, and forgiving them - by literally looking at them with him and then letting them go. And finally she shares how, much later, back home she has an experience of great relief that her mother role was lifted from her, completing yet another forgiveness opportunity in her life.

In parallel, I was reminded again of Prospero's speech in the Tempest:

 Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
 As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
 Are melted into air, into thin air:
 And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
 The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
 The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
 Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
 And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
 Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
 As dreams are made on; and our little life
 Is rounded with a sleep.
The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158
It is another classical reflection of this letting go, and the experience of the disappearance of the universe, as it is called in the title of Gary Renard's book.

Or, to mention yet another parallel from literature, one might think of Herman Melville's Moby Dick,  which is brilliantly interpreted by Jed McKenna, in his book Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment, as being the account of Melville's own spiritual awakening - after all Ishmael, who is the writer of the story in the observer seat, survives the ordeal of the ego's hero of this particular nightmare, Ahab, and merely observes the events, realizing in the end that nothing happened.

It brings to mind the Course's definition of the miracle:
1. A miracle is a correction. 2 It does not create, nor really change at all. 3 It merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false. 4 It undoes error, but does not attempt to go beyond perception, nor exceed the function of forgiveness. 5 Thus it stays within time's limits. 6 Yet it paves the way for the return of timelessness and love's awakening, for fear must slip away under the gentle remedy it brings. (ACIM:W-pII.13.1)

At this point we might remind ourselves that the Course has set out with the observation that the meaning of love is beyond what can be taught, our job is merely to remove the obstacles to the awareness of love's presence (Introduction), after that, the rest will speak for itself. In this context we can see how the mind who dreamt up all the characters in the play, and all of the stage settings and the story, finally let's them go - and the Course's forgiveness process is merely a shortcut that can help some people to speed up this process, of letting go of all the roles of our false self.
To look at it yet another way, here we may understand the often misconstrued Jesus quote, about the poor chances of a rich man entering the Kingdom. Since he always speaks in parables, what he means is that as long as we take the dream roles in the world seriously, by investing them with meaning, we are holding on to nothing, and it is this that makes us rich by investing in this world, which then prevents us from following him to the Kingdom.
It is the Course's forgiveness process which allows us to forgive first the characters in the dream, and increasingly more and more ourselves for our dream roles, until with Prospero we can let it all go. The process culminates in what the Course terms 'accepting the atonement,' being the full realization that nothing ever happened, and that God's reality (and our own, since we are his son) remained utterly unaffected, and with that we re-awaken in love.

5. The cause of pain is separation, not the body, which is only its effect. 2 Yet separation is but empty space, enclosing nothing, doing nothing, and as unsubstantial as the empty place between the ripples that a ship has made in passing by. 3 And covered just as fast, as water rushes in to close the gap, and as the waves in joining cover it. 4 Where is the gap between the waves when they have joined, and covered up the space which seemed to keep them separate for a little while? 5 Where are the grounds for sickness when the minds have joined to close the little gap between them, where the seeds of sickness seemed to grow? (ACIM:T-28.III:5)

Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Jacob's Well

In the Gospel according to John, there is the story of the Samaritan woman who meets Jesus at Jacob's Well. Reading the story fresh with some background of working with A Course in Miracles could be quite revealing. In fact it was my occasional co-author on this blog, Annelies, who one day reflected on the ego's dynamics, noting that it always goes back to the "well" of past memories, and dredges up a pattern, which we then project out into the world and repeat the same old stuff, when all it is, is a defense against the love of God, which could inspire our actions instead, if we would only turn to the Holy Spirit instead of the ego. In response to her spontaneous comments, I pointed out that this was evidently the real meaning of the story of the Samaritan woman at Jacob's Well. She read it and was blown away by our new appreciation of this old parable.

The wheel of Samsara is not some law of the universe that is external to us and of which we are the hapless victim, but it is the deliberate and repeated choice for the ego, and it is this repetition compulsion which represents the ego's defenses against the devastating (to the ego) Love of the Spirit. As always, the only reason we are afraid of it is because we've identified so totally with the ego, what we think we would perish if we confessed ourselves totally to the love of Jesus. Thus the woman at the well symbolizes our soul, our decision maker, as Ken Wapnick likes to call it, literally at the point of decision - do I go back to the same  old, same old, which has nothing else going for it, but that "it was always done this way," or do I want to change my mind (metanoia), and listen to this ever so familiar seeming stranger, who represents Another Way?

Seen in that light, the part of the parable where Jesus points out that the water from "Jacob's Well" makes us thirst over and over again, is in fact the perfect parable to describe the life of the Sonship in exile (Israel), and thus the ego's basic m.o., and the alternative he offers is forgiveness, namely choosing to ask Jesus for the Water of Spirit, instead of dredging up the past and continually reliving it, by going to the ego's well. The Water of Spirit will not make us thirst again, for when we act from the inspiration of Spirit, there is no past and no future, no sin, guilt, nor fear, for we then have joined with Jesus, to become only his hands, and feet, and mouth in the world.

It is clear from this story and others which are found in the Gospel according to John and not in the Synoptics, that John hewed to a different Jesus tradition in part than some of the others, and often times his telling of the story seems to express Jesus' intent more clearly and purely than the synoptic tradition. For that reason John's Gospel has often been and inspiration to more mystically inclined followers of Jesus.
3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. 4 And he must needs go through Samaria. 5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. 7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. 19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.  (KJV, John 4:4-26)
With careful reading we would note that there is a lot in this story that sounds very familiar to us as students of the Course, and reflects the fact that Jesus then taught the same thing, as he does now in the Course, and in our living experience of him, and that the intermezzo where he was mistaken for the founder of Christianity, and made into an ego idol is but small diversion, though illustrative of what our ego will do to him, if we let it dictate the curriculum.

To look at some of the elements of the story more closely, I would like to suggest the following points, which are based mostly on my experience with A Course in Miracles, as well as my life-long study of the work of Johan Willem Kaiser (JWK).
  • Once upon a time - The words are not part of this parable, but they just as well could have been. J.W. Kaiser explains in his book about fairy tales, that the traditional opening "Once upon a time," should be read as an eternal now - in the sense that in the holographic universe, we are not reading or hearing about some distant past, but about an eternal now, the now moment in which to make a decision, for which the specific story provides the model. In Course language it is the invitation into the Holy Instant. This is certainly true here, the decision that is portrayed here is always in the now - that is the whole point of it. Therefore, dear reader - I am saying this to myself, as I write it - the Samaritan woman (our soul), is meeting Jesus at the Well now, and the choice is ours.
  • Woman - The out-picturing of the soul/decisionmaker here, as in many myths and fairy tales.
  • Samaritan - Note how, by her identification with her Samaritan lineage, she excludes herself from the sonship, and by virtue of that same identification, she sees Jesus the same way - as a " Jew," which of course is nominally what he was, but his essence was exactly that this was irrelevant. Think also of Logion 99 in Thomas.
  • Galilee (Etymologically: "revolving" - c.f. Samsara) - is THE symbol of the world of time and space, the sublunar world, in the symbolism of the New Testament literature. It is of the essence throughout that Jesus is present to us here, those are the time, times, and half a time (3-1/2 symbolic years) of his ministry, in this sublunar world, during which he is always calling us to follow him to his Kingdom, not of this world. (mostly JWK)
  • Jacob (Israel) - whose name means approximately "runaway" (JWK etymology), is the archetype for the sonship in exile, always on the run from "fate" and from "God" (i.e. the ego's fearful image of a vengeful God), is representative of us being "much too tolerant of mind wandering," (ACIM:T-2.VI.4), yet it is also he who finds himself sleeping at Bethel (House of God), and realizing in his dream that the ladder to heaven, starts right in the place where he sleeps, for after all wherever we flee to, there is no other place but the House of God, and right where we are is always the best classroom for the Holy Spirit or Jesus to teach us another way, the way home. (JWK, ACIM)
  • husband, five husbands, not thy husband - This conversation deals with what the Course is later to call special relationships, the ego's relationships with people, places and things, which are designed to lock Jesus out of our lives, until we are ready to turn to him and learn to forgive and in the process turn our special relationships into Holy Relationships, very much in the spirit of what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:12: For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
    Our forgiveness is the process of cleaning the mirror so we no longer see our false self, but Jesus, and in the process likewise see our brothers as our saviors who offer us the opportunity to forgive, until we see the face of Christ in them. The place where we are right now is always Beth-El, and is the best classroom for the Holy Spirit. Our relationships right now need not be abandoned to go find God in the Himalayas, but forgiven, so we may turn them into the Holy Relationship.
  • The Alternative, Another Way - Jesus very clearly here represents The Alternative (Art thou grater than our father Jacob?) again this story represents the opportunity to choose once again, in line with the final section of the final chapter of ACIM (T-31.VIII).
  • I that speak unto thee am he - Reminiscent of Helen Schucman's dream in which she found that Jesus in her dream looked like Bill Thetford, and when she asked, Jesus told her "Who else would I look like?" (See Ken Wapnick's Absence from Felicity.

Very clearly the story reflects what the Course teaches repeatedly, namely that the thought systems of the Holy Spirit and the ego are totally mutually exclusive. There is a choice to make, always now, between the ego or the Holy Spirit, between another spin of the wheel of Samsara, of the thought system of sin, guilt and fear, or the thought system of forgiveness, the Holy Instant, and drinking of the water that will not make us thirst again. The story of the runaway Jacob eventually turns into the story of the Prodigal Son, returning into the Love of the Father.

Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Abraham's "Sacrifice" - A New Interpretation

Abraham's "sacrifice" is our "sacrfice," and the word should be in quotes, because, like everything else of the ego, it is not what it seems to be. Of necessity, to the ego sacrifice means giving up something and now lacking it while someone else has it. The concept is based on the Son's original thought of sacrifice, namely the insane belief that, for a separate individual to exist, wholeness, God, must have been destroyed or sacrificed.
Because the horror of that thought of killing off God is so intolerable, the Son denies it, and it inevitably gets projected out into a world of separate individuals, and sacrifice's prototype gets reenacted over and over and over again in all our special relationships. How often does one hear that the "secret to a good relationship" is "give and take."!
For me, Rembrandt's famous engraving depicting the biblical story of Abraham's sacrifice has always been so full of light  and has always given me such immense and profound relief over the idea of letting go of the ego's self will, letting go of the tiny mad idea of separation, letting go of my vision of what tomorrow must be like ("the only son"), which is always another repetition of the past in a different form. For me, that picture represents forgiveness, the light just shines the darkness away, it represents accepting the atonement. But the ego wants us to believe God would now demand sacrifice of us in payment for our sacrifice of Himas a literal interpretation of the story might suggest. It is sacrifice in the ego's view, for the ego also insanely believes it has something of value to offer us, something "more than [the] everything," that we in sheer terror, believe we have destroyed, never to get it back. (ACIM:T-29.VII.2, T-27.III.4:6) So the son does get to live, which is reminiscent of something Ken Wapnick has said, that in human (spiritual) adulthood, your new life is just like your old life, except without the fear, guilt and anxiety.

The sons of the ego are our projections, and physical children are a perfect symbol of the thought, for parents imagine they live on in their children. But our thoughts might be expressed in art works, or our handy work, as they are in every detail of our life. So, the story of Abraham's sacrifice should not be misunderstood by taking it literally, but rather appreciated metaphorically.  It is the story of us all, who refuse to live in the present, and seek our salvation in our projections, which ultimately are always projections of our guilt, with which we populate our lives and the earth, for they are endless forms of individuality, projected out and continuing the ego's dynamic of sin, guilt and fear, played out in all our relationships. The ego is indeed fruitful and multiplies ad infinitum, and populates the earth but many times zero is still zero. Giving up this hell to gain Heaven could hardly be a sacrifice. This theme comes up repeatedly in the Course:
 What would they see instead? The shining radiance of the Son of God, so like his Father that the memory of Him springs instantly to mind. And with this memory, the Son remembers his own creations, as like to him as he is to his Father. And all the world he made, and all his specialness, and all the sins he held in its defense against himself, will vanish as his mind accepts the truth about himself, as it returns to take their place. This is the only "cost" of truth: You will no longer see what never was, nor hear what makes no sound. Is it a sacrifice to give up nothing, and to receive the Love of God forever? (ACIM:T-24.II.6)
Be glad you have escaped the mockery of salvation the ego offered you, and look not back with longing on the travesty it made of your relationships. Now no one need suffer, for you have come too far to yield to the illusion of the beauty and holiness of guilt. Only the wholly insane could look on death and suffering, sickness and despair, and see it thus. What guilt has wrought is ugly, fearful and very dangerous. See no illusion of truth and beauty there. And be you thankful that there is a place where truth and beauty wait for you. Go on to meet them gladly, and learn how much awaits you for the simple willingness to give up nothing because it is nothing.
The new perspective you will gain from crossing over will be the understanding of where Heaven is. From this side, it seems to be outside and across the bridge. Yet as you cross to join it, it will join with you and become one with you. And you will think, in glad astonishment, that for all this you gave up nothing! The joy of Heaven, which has no limit, is increased with each light that returns to take its rightful place within it. Wait no longer, for the Love of God and you.  And may the holy instant speed you on the way, as it will surely do if you but let it come to you. (ACIM:T-16.VI.10-11)
 Why would you not perceive it as release from suffering to learn that you are free? Why would you not acclaim the truth instead of looking on it as an enemy? Why does an easy path, so clearly marked it is impossible to lose the way, seem thorny, rough and far too difficult for you to follow? Is it not because you see it as the road to hell instead of looking on it as a simple way, without a sacrifice or any loss, to find yourself in Heaven and in God? Until you realize you give up nothing, until you understand there is no loss, you will have some regrets about the way that you have chosen. And you will not see the many gains your choice has offered you. Yet though you do not see them, they are there. Their cause has been effected, and they must be present where their cause has entered in. (ACIM:T-29.II.1)
Salvation is no compromise of any kind. To compromise is to accept but part of what you want; to take a little and give up the rest. Salvation gives up nothing. It is complete for everyone. Let the idea of compromise but enter, and the awareness of salvation's purpose is lost because it is not recognized. It is denied where compromise has been accepted, for compromise is the belief salvation is impossible. It would maintain you can attack a little, love a little, and know the difference. Thus it would teach a little of the same can still be different, and yet the same remain intact, as one. Does this make sense? Can it be understood? (ACIM:T-23.III.3) 
 The ego's projections in thought, including in their physical manifestation as "sons," are nothing but the projection of itself into the future, in order to escape the presence of "God is," and instead to perpetuate itself by its attempts make a in defiance of God. The ego's goal is making the future like the past, and never having to show up for life in the present. To give up that illusion of a life, that substitute reality, is neither sacrifice nor murder, but salvation, and what then reveals itself is that we finally let go of the "tiny, mad idea," of the separation - symbolized by the Ram in the story. The stubborn and often foolish Ram is the perfect symbol for the insane idea that God's Son could "go it alone," possible only in illusions and a dream role in which the Son of God denies who he is in truth. In that thought of going it alone lies the essence of diaspora, and the feeling that we can never go home again - the prodigal son leaves home that way, to go and live in foreign lands, and thereby squander his inheritance.

Yet the story of Abraham's "sacrifice," - and of the prodigal son as well - tell it differently. They are the story of giving up the illusion - Abraham thinks he is going to have to sacrifice his only son, his only hope for a future (the ego always makes it seem its plans are our only hope), yet all he does is to let go of his self will, and the prodigal son recognizes that the only hope for Heaven and happiness is to do the will of his father, instead of squandering our inheritance and striving for the ego's treasures and wasting his life swimming against the stream.

Fundamentally, all the steps of forgiveness are in this story, exactly as they are defined in Lesson 23, namely

  • Taking back the projection (would I accuse myself of doing this?)
  • Changing our mind (metanoia) by turning to our Internal Teacher
  • Placing the future in the hands of God (c.q. the Holy Spirit)
or, in the precise words of Lesson 23:
The idea for today [I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts] introduces the thought that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed. This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. The first two steps in this process require your cooperation. The final one does not. Your images have already been replaced. By taking the first two steps, you will see that this is so. (ACIM:W-23.5)
Last but not least, all of this imagery is closely tied to the many Jesus logia which express the notion that the only way to change the ending is to go back to the beginning, such as Thomas Logion 18, which says: "Fortunate is the one who stands at the beginning: That one will know the end and will not taste death." The whole point here is that the problem is not on the screen, the solution is not in moving the deck chairs on the Titanic: rather, the problem is the ego and the solution is undoing the ego, by working our way back to the original decision point in the mind where we made the choice for the ego, and now would make another choice, pursuant to Jesus' invitation to choose again:
Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, "My brother, choose again." He would not leave one source of pain unhealed, nor any image left to veil the truth. He would remove all misery from you whom God created altar unto joy. He would not leave you comfortless, alone in dreams of hell, but would release your mind from everything that hides His face from you. His Holiness is yours because He is the only power that is real in you. His strength is yours because He is the Self that God created as His only Son. (ACIM:T-31.VIII.3)
Thus the story of Abraham's metanoia was truly the story of reconciliation in which we realize once and for all that the only thing that could ever make us happy is not getting what we think we want (God is NOT Santa Claus) -- the "only son" represents the continuation of the ego's dream of wish fulfilment --, but to join Jesus in doing the Will of the Father, which is also the true meaning of "following Jesus," as should be clear from Logion 99 of Thomas:
The disciples said to him, "Your brothers and your mother are standing outside." He said to them, "Those here who do what my Father wants are my brothers and my mother. They are the ones who will enter the Father's Kingdom."
 or, in the words of the Course:
Anger but screeches, "Guilt is real!" Reality is blotted out as this insane belief is taken as replacement for God's Word. The body's eyes now "see"; its ears alone can "hear." Its little space and tiny breath become the measure of reality. And truth becomes diminutive and meaningless. Correction has one answer to all this, and to the world that rests on this: 
You but mistake interpretation for the truth. And you are wrong. But a mistake is not a sin, nor has reality been taken from its throne by your mistakes. God reigns forever, and His laws alone prevail upon you and upon the world. His Love remains the only thing there is. Fear is illusion, for you are like Him.
In order to heal, it thus becomes essential for the teacher of God to let all his own mistakes be corrected. If he senses even the faintest hint of irritation in himself as he responds to anyone, let him instantly realize that he has made an interpretation that is not true. Then let him turn within to his eternal Guide, and let Him judge what the response should be. So is he healed, and in his healing is his pupil healed with him. The sole responsibility of God's teacher is to accept the Atonement for himself. Atonement means correction, or the undoing of errors. When this has been accomplished, the teacher of God becomes a miracle worker by definition. His sins have been forgiven him, and he no longer condemns himself. How can he then condemn anyone? And who is there whom his forgiveness can fail to heal? (ACIM:M-18.3-4, bolding mine)
Abraham set the example, and it should clear up our confusion for all time:
The Holy Spirit will direct you only so as to avoid pain. Surely no one would object to this goal if he recognized it. The problem is not whether what the Holy Spirit says is true, but whether you want to listen to what He says. You no more recognize what is painful than you know what is joyful, and are, in fact, very apt to confuse the two. The Holy Spirit's main function is to teach you to tell them apart. What is joyful to you is painful to the ego, and as long as you are in doubt about what you are, you will be confused about joy and pain. This confusion is the cause of the whole idea of sacrifice. Obey the Holy Spirit, and you will be giving up the ego. But you will be sacrificing nothing. On the contrary, you will be gaining everything. If you believed this, there would be no conflict. (ACIM:T-7.X.3, bolding mine)
Note: This new interpretation is not so new. The Dutch spiritual teacher Johan Willem Kaiser, whose work I'm translating into English, wrote about this meaning in several books of his, most notably in his The Experience of the Gospel, and in his The Mysteries of Jesus in our Lives. His works date from 20 to 30 years before the Course. Rembrandt in my view could never have portrayed the scene of light that he did, if he did not fully understand that for Abraham the reversal he experienced was a true miracle moment, where the light of the Holy Spirit could shine away the dark despair of the ego.

Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Finding and nurturing the relationship with our Inner Teacher is the central issue in the Course, as it is in the New Testament, to the careful reader: To those outside, everything comes in parables, but to his disciples individually, he explained everything. Here is the quote:
With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything. (NIV:Mk 4:33-34)
The meaning of this teaching is plain and obvious, yet we honor it more in the breach than in the observance, since we usually refuse to "follow him," by taking our troubles to our Inner Teacher. The first step towards ego-proofing this teaching is to once again read it literally, as if some guy named Jesus in ca. 30 CE, said this to a couple of guys he used to hang out with, and who were considered his followers, disciples, and later apostles. In that process we have substituted the manifest content for the latent content, and rendered the message safe for Caesar (the ego), thus preparing the path for something called Christianity to become a world religion. Namely, as long as we see this as a historical event, and something we tell each other, of how Jesus (notice the past tense here:) taught his apostles, we implicitly escape the immediacy of our own choice in the present moment to either follow him (our Inner Teacher), and leaving the interpretation of anything we think we see (the parables) to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, or to continue to do our own thing, with the usual disastrous consequences.

The bottom line is that as long as we are withholding anything at all from Jesus, we are voting with the ego. The whole essence of that process is this:
The necessary condition for the holy instant does not require that you have no thoughts that are not pure. But it does require that you have none that you would keep. Innocence is not of your making. It is given you the instant you would have it. Atonement would not be if there were no need for it. You will not be able to accept perfect communication as long as you would hide it from yourself. For what you would hide is hidden from you. In your practice, then, try only to be vigilant against deception, and seek not to protect the thoughts you would keep to yourself. Let the Holy Spirit's purity shine them away, and bring all your awareness to the readiness for purity He offers you. Thus will He make you ready to acknowledge that you are host to God, and hostage to no one and to nothing.
In short, as long as we do not enter into the one-on-one relationship with our Inner Teacher, as he is referred to in the Course, we are withholding thoughts from him which we would keep, and thereby keeping the ego in charge. The whole idea of the separation (i.e. individuality) is that we could have private thoughts that we would keep for ourselves, so we can determine what reality is, in lieu of accepting God's reality, thus rejecting the "Kingdom of Heaven," and continuing the choice to shatter Heaven in in the delusion that we could and would rather have "something more than everything." Choosing the ego, entails choosing all of time and space, Samsara, as our own substitute reality.

The contrast becomes clear when once we experience the alternative choice for the Holy Instant, for the choice for the Holy Spirit places us in that one-on-one teaching relationship with Jesus, and is a totally different reality than some story about some interesting teacher so many years ago.
No one who comes here but must still have hope, some lingering illusion, or some dream that there is something outside of himself that will bring happiness and peace to him. If everything is in him this cannot be so. And therefore by his coming, he denies the truth about himself, and seeks for something more than everything, as if a part of it were separated off and found where all the rest of it is not. This is the purpose he bestows upon the body; that it seek for what he lacks, and give him what would make himself complete. And thus he wanders aimlessly about, in search of something that he cannot find, believing that he is what he is not. (ACIM:T-29.VII.2)
The literal, "form" ( the usual word in the Course), the manifest meaning, is the ego's principal defense against the content, the latent meaning, the upshot, or the spirit of any situation or communication. Any good lawyer knows that the best defense against the spirit of the law, is taking it absolutely literally and following it to the letter, while hiding behind such Pharisaic observance to secretly thwart the content, the meaning, the spirit, and twist it to our own purposes, thereby keeping the ego in charge.

Still we know Jesus' teachings in many areas, at least in a piecemeal fashion. For example:
  • Children follow what their parents do, not what they say they do - to the great annoyance of many parents, who like to pass up these healing opportunities, and instead punish their children for their disobedience, and then be surprised when they become little liars.
  • In organizational development we know that the failsafe way to diagnose any organization is to look at the difference between what we say we do and what we do do. That Delta (difference) is the clear indicator of dysfunction in any organization, and can be put to direct practical use to address the issues that cause organizations to spin out of control.
  • In psychology it's been known for a long time that we need to listen to the latent content of dreams, stories, situations, etc. and that the manifest content only distracts from honestly understanding "What's the upshot?".
In short, at some level we all know how the ego's lies are given power, namely by not examining them, and just like with a magician (aka. illusionist), the manifest story details serve only to make sure we will never understand what is really going on, and thereby we empower the ego (Satan is what the ancients called it) and entrust it with directing the movie which we call our life, in preference to honestly going to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, our Inner Teacher, to ask them to interpret it for us. If we do the latter anything we do will be guided by their love, and will not "accumulate more Karma" but instead will set our feet progressively on the way out of the hamster mill of Samsara. As long as we act on the basis of the manifest content, we continue to add on to the ego's labyrinth, and prolong our suffering, postponing the journey home with yet more convoluted meanderings in the world of form, diversions in the hologram of time and space.

The ego is an absolute master at burying Jesus in the details and ensuring that his teachings are never heard. The point of the resurrection is that we don't bury him, but we certainly do bury ourselves, as long as we continue to reenact the crucifixion, and postpone the resurrection. He did not suffer on the cross, as he had long since chosen the resurrection, but we certainly suffer with the guilt of choosing the crucifixion over and over again.

Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.