Over the past couple of months, some wonderful questions have come in. Regular readers of the blog have discovered that an ongoing question and answer session is happening in the "comments" section below each entry of the blog. This new entry will feature some of the best questions and answers, a few of which have already appeared in the "comments," and some of which haven't.
Nathan: I have been watching the news lately on TV and the Internet, and it seems the whole world is going crazy. The financial thing currently happening feels very strange, like it must have felt to people right before the great depression. If we go into a new depression, does it mean that the terrorists won? And how do the principles taught in the course relate to the current craziness of the world? I realize there couldn't be any simple answer to any of this, but I'd love to hear any perspective you might have on anything I have mentioned.
DRB: Regarding what's going on in the news, and "the current craziness of the world" as you put it, it has all been forecast and predicted in many prophecies. All kinds of weird stuff will happen in this decade, and it is something certain people have been aware of for years. Look at the readings of Edgar Cayce for one well-known and well-documented example. We have always known these were going to be some wild and crazy years.
"If we go into a new depression, does it mean that the terrorists won?" What a fascinating concept. The financial state of the world is somewhat of a cleansing more than anything else. We needed to get rid of some bad money, to expel certain accumulated money karmas. Think of it as the system being flushed. Everything in structure is sound because it was set up that way from the beginning. The terrorists don't win, but the war goes on for close to thirty years. Don't hold your breath for that one to be over any time soon, unless you are doing advanced pranayamas and have had a good teacher.
As for where the principles as taught in the course fit into today's world, I can safely say that at no time in history would they be more relevant to anyone who wishes to live with some sanity in today's environment. The lessons of the Course are like a handbook or guidebook for living in today's world. Understanding the principles is more important now than at any point in our lifetimes.
We have to remember more than anything that we see what we think, and we experience what we think, and where our personal perceptions and experiences are concerned, they have their first cause in thought, in our own consciousness. This primary principle must be understood before the first thing can be accomplished. Yet the only way we can possibly understand it, in our present state, is through constant repetition and persistent reminders.
For this reason we take the course, we read the blog, and we do whatever else we do to remain conscious, present, alert, aware, and, well, alive. Otherwise we live in a world of thought-dreams, which is only one step removed from being asleep. Unfortunately, most people have no idea that they go through life in a dream-state. Hardly anyone is willing to be responsible for what they think. Anyway, this is my perspective on the things mentioned in your question.
Mely: Is it the same to live in the truth of the present moment and to forgive myself of the past?
DRB: Yes, Mely, it is the same.
When we live in the truth of the present moment, we are attuned to all the higher feelings that exist in potential in the depths of our being. These higher feelings include love, compassion, joy, cheerfulness, contentment, and forgiveness.
Ultimately, to experience our own purity and perfection, our own oneness with the cosmos, we must forgive everyone of everything, including ourselves.
We need to be free from blame in order to experience our own inner harmony. Blame presumes a 'wrongness' somewhere. Also, 'blame' includes both blaming and accepting blame. There is no reason for us to either blame another or to be the object of blame in someone else's deluded reality.
Live blame-free and be free.
If we are no longer to live in blame, then there is a natural and spontaneous inner shift where we find ourselves forgiving everyone for everything, including ourselves for everything that we feel guilt, shame, or blame about.
Forgive others of everything, and forgive yourself of everything as well, all the stupidity and the insensitity and all the rest of it. It is over now. It is time to move on.
We cannot fully forgive another unless we first forgive ourselves. Only then do we know what true forgiveness is. When full forgiveness has set in, which usually happens after an experience of inner surrender, we finally live free from blame.
Living in the Truth of the present moment is living in attunement to, and at-one-ment with, all the higher feelings potential in us, whether it be love, harmony, joy, peace, compassion, or forgiveness.
This openness, where we are one with all higher feelings simultaneously, is the state of an exalted sense of well-being. In this state we can live out our highest and grandest dreams, and truly live as our own hero.
L.L.: I don't want to be the bummer here, but how does one stay in the moment? I know and do breathing, mantra, meditating, but still, some of the old worries creep up on me. I come back and find that I'm holding my breath, I'm tense as steel cable and my thoughts are running wild.
DRB: Well, L.L. (you're not Bean are you?) the question you ask, "how does one stay in the moment?" is exactly what the course is about. It is a Course of Training focused on living in the Truth of the present moment. So I can't simply answer your question, as such, except to say to just keep on enjoying and practicing the principles present in the lessons and the blog. It is the kind of thing we learn little by little.
Your question is a little like going to the first day of a month-long swimming class and asking right off the bat, "By the way, how do you swim, anyway?"
If we were to suddenly be thrust into full consciousness of the absolute Truth of the present moment, our ego would be totally disoriented, and we'd feel like we had lost touch with "normal reality." So we take it one step at a time and build a strong foundation until we begin to approach the point that we can actually be present in the moment more and more often, and for longer and longer periods of time. It is a matter of practice, and of constant reminders.
Breathing, mantra, meditation, and all the various yogic practices are excellent means of purifying the mind and psychic system so that being present in the moment is possible. Still, the primary principle is that we have to do the work of the present moment. It is not something we do "later," or something we've done "before now."
We either practice the principles of Truth now, in this present moment, or we speak and act (and react) mechanically, according to how we have been conditioned or programmed in the past.
The only way to break through all the entanglements that catch us and hold us down is through consistent repetition and persistent practice. This is why we read the blog, and this is why we take the course.
Anonymous: I am confused by your statement "The Truth does not exist in cynicism." I am not a cynic or lover of cynics. But I thought that Truth (as opposed to truth) existed in everything and everyone and everywhere.
thank you in advance for your clarification.
DRB: This 'Anonymous' has referred to this paragraph in the previous entry:
"A cynical attitude indicates something still lurking to be cleaned out in the purification process. The Truth does not exist in cynicism, and when our mind becomes clearer and our awareness more refined, we are free from all forms of cynicism, sarcasm, and blame."
The Truth does indeed exist "in everything and everyone and everywhere," as you say. The Truth is the pure Consciousness that pervades and permeates the entire cosmos this very moment.
When I say the Truth does not exist in cynicism, it is because some people lose themselves in cynicism. When you visit, for example, one of these sites for people against some spiritual teacher or path -- if you can imagine such a thing -- most of the comments are of a very cynical, sarcastic, or blaming nature, and often all three combined.
When we get lost in cynicism, sarcasm, or blame, we lose touch with the Truth.
It is in this sense, this context, that I say that the Truth does not exist in cynicism.
Ari: I took a psychology class 20 years ago and remember one term that has always stood out for me. That is projecting: attributing one's own thoughts and behaviours onto others. This has always fascinated me. My wife and I had a "discussion" the other day. I had told her that she was more materialistic than I was and if she cut down on her purchases she wouldnt have to work so much. The next day, after some reflection, she told me I was "projecting" myself onto her. (I wondered if she snuck a peek at the second lesson?).
So my question becomes: How do you know whether you're projecting yourself onto someone or if you're pointing out something valuable to someone else based on your seemingly unbiased evalutation?
DRB: What a great question from Ari. Ari, I am very pleased with you that you have come up with this question.
The question is how to tell when we are projecting our own feeling, attitude, or quality onto another person, and when are we only pointing out something to them that they might want to understand about themselves in their own quest for freedom and growth.
If everyone understood the answer to this question, all their relationships would be upgraded at least 7 notches.
This question is actually one I have been questioning, exploring, examining, observing, and contemplating for about 40 years now, when I first became aware of the concept when I lived in Greenwich Village in the late sixties. How do you tell the difference between one and the other? It is a profound and significant question.
Here is as exact as I have gotten it to this point: We do project our own qualities, traits, attitudes, expectations, and anticipations onto others, and see these things in them when it actually has nothing to do with them.
For example, Fred is angry at Suzie, and relating with thinly-disguised passive-aggressive hostility, yet instead of recognizing it in himself, he only sees that Suzie is angry at him. Then he justifies his hostility towards her since she is (unjustifiably of course) angry with him in the first place -- although she actually isn't anything of the sort, and the whole thing is all Fred's own projection. He would be better off recognizing and taking responsibility for his own anger and subtle hostility, instead of projecting it onto Suzie.
On the other hand, Suzie might be in a bad mood, and be making hostile, provoking jabs at Fred, being sarcastic and contrary in response to anything he says or does, subconsciously trying to see how much he can take before he reacts and fires back at her. Finally Fred, who has managed to maintain his own state so far, decides to point out to Suzie what she is doing. Hopefully she will be open to hearing what he has to say, and does not only get more defensive with increased hostility for his bringing it to her attention.
Both of these things happen. How can we tell which is which?
The answer lies in our own feeling.
The trick is being honest with ourselves about what we are actually feeling.
The first way, where Fred projects his own anger and hostility upon Suzie, and blames it on her, he is feeling angry about her anger, hostile about her hostility, and is filled with blame and accusation: This conflict and discord is all her fault. This is a distinct feeling, negative and contracting in nature. If we are honest with ourselves, it is unmistakable. If we are open to seeing the truth of the moment, there should be no doubt about what the feeling is.
The second way, where Fred is only pointing out to Suzie that she is being more angry and hostile than she probably realizes, he himself feels no anger, no hostility, and most importantly, no blame, no accusation. He is only pointing it out to her, without personal attachment, without any feelings about it, in the event that she is open to hearing how she is being in case she wishes to switch to a more pleasant and harmonious feeling herself.
When we are projecting something onto another that has nothing to do with them, we ourselves are caught up in contracted and negative feelings about it. We feel like something is wrong, and that it is the other person's fault. We are filled with blame. There also is a strong sense of self-righteousness -- of being right and making wrong.
When we are objectively pointing out something about another in hopes that they will openly hear it for their own good, and for the good of the relationship, we are not attached to the consequences of our words. If the other hears us, great, if they don't, well, probably later they will see what we were talking about. Either way, we have no feeling about it. We are neutral. There is no negativity, no contraction, and most importantly, no blame. There is only compassion.
Compassion is one of the highest feelings to be developed. One who knows the Self lives in a state of unbroken and unconditional love and compassion.
Once we get that the whole answer lies in our own inner feeling, then our understanding and awareness of many things goes to an entirely new level.
Thanks again, Ari, for your great question.
Linda: Is there any one thing that you would advise us to remain aware of no matter what?
DRB: Yes, recognize the divinity within your own Self. Love and respect yourself as you are, no matter what you have done before this point. Only now is real. Heal yourself by forgiving yourself and others of everything that has come before now. Also, see the same divine Self in all others, and relate to the highest Self in them from your own heart. When you find your ego reacting to their ego, gently drop it, and return to relating to the other's highest Self from the perspective of your own highest Self.
Thank you for your attention. Everyone enjoy a great October.
For information about D. R. Butler's new Course of Training write: firstname.lastname@example.org