Sunday, July 1, 2012

Facing the Truth When it's Staring You Right in the Face


The other day I looked in the mirror and for the first time didn’t recognize myself.  It was as though I saw that it was an older man, and then I had to accept the realization that it was who I manifest as being now, and no longer as one in his physical prime.  After all, the image was staring me right in the face. 

 It reminded me of when we had taken the kids to the science museum in Boston, and there was a ‘mirror’ of sorts that would show you how you might appear as you aged, as you could see yourself 10 years later or 20 years later or whatever. 

My youngest son Shane, currently a member of the musical group, Quilt, was only a child then, and he freaked out when the ‘mirror’ showed him how he would look when he was older.  He ran away from it and wouldn’t come back.  Actually, I don’t think it was designed for children, as it did make them look rather weird, with pouches and wrinkles around their eyes and such.

So I looked in the ‘real’ mirror recently and saw an older version of myself, yet knowing that this is my current appearance, that these are real wrinkles.  Of course, in the mirror we can only see a two-dimensional version of ourselves, totally unlike the three-dimension version of us that everyone else sees.

 I thought, ‘Wow, that’s the truth staring you right in the face.’  Later, I began to glimpse a more expanded version of the same principle.  The world, exactly as it is, is staring us straight in the face, but do we see it as it is?  Or do we only project our fantasy (imagination) outward?

Speaking of my son Shane, we were walking through the field, down the hill, where Kay and I live, and he kept saying, ‘Everything is so beautiful.  Everything is so beautiful.’  And then once he asked, ‘Is it really okay if I keep seeing things as more and more beautiful?’  I have known Shane all his life and this is just how he is.  Recently, when someone asked him what he likes to do, he replied simply, ‘I like to look at things.’

His words on that day in the back field awakened in me the appreciation of the natural beauty around us, which I sometimes take for granted after living here all these years.  The world stares us straight in the face, yet ordinarily we neither recognize nor appreciate its vast beauty.   Nature keeps us alive. 

Imagine, for example, how it might be if the whole world had become a city, with only occasional ‘parks.’  I lived in Greenwich Village of New York City for 8 years from age 22 to 30.  During this time I reached the point where Central Park was nature, and that’s where we would go when we wanted to experience nature.

Then in my mid 20’s I went with some friends to a yoga ashram in upstate NY.  When we arrived I got out of the car and had the strangest sensation.  Something was so different from what I was used to that I could not at first recognize or identify it.  Finally I realized that this was real nature; this was silence; this was stillness.  I had forgotten what true silence and stillness was actually like.  In this place, in the country, the ethers weren’t continuously assaulting us with vibrations of every sort as they do in the city.

It would be great if every one of us who are not yet attuned to nature would make efforts to be so.  Alone, here and now, everything is always fine.  Yet around us the world that mankind built is in a downward cycle.  Can you remember how the world was 50 years ago?  That was 1962.  The world is different in so many ways we could not have imagined then, those of us who were even alive.  In the same way, we cannot imagine how different the world will be 50 years into the future.

 In 50 years that population of the earth has more than doubled.  The world seemed full enough back then; it is hard to imagine that there are actually twice as many of us here.  Imagine how crowded it will be 50 years in the future.

 It will be for your benefit if you will put the external world in the background, and put your inner state as the foreground of your attention.  Our inner state can remain solid and stable even if the world around us collapses.  It is eternal, all-pervasive, indivisible, and indestructible.

 Someone recently discovered the blog and course by googling ‘eternal serenity.’  He wanted to see what there was online about eternal serenity, and he found us.  How perfect.

          The following quote is in one of the lessons of the course, but it seems very appropriate here: 

“When the external world is shut out, the mind is cheerful, and cheerfulness of the mind brings on the vision of the Paramatman.   When It is perfectly realized, the chain of birth and death is broken.  Hence, the shutting out of the external world is the stepping stone to liberation.” ~Viveka Chudamani

Of course, for many that seems like a huge step.  Shut out the outer world?  That isn’t a workable option.  Yet, with proper understanding and guidance, we can learn to shut out the outer world even while fully participating in it, playing our own karmic role the best we can—which is true dharma— while relating easily to others and competently attending to responsibilities. 

It is a fine line, yet we can learn to live this way.  This is one reason that we have a Course of Training.  We don’t just read about a principle and agree and think, ‘how nice,’ and then forget all about it.  Instead, through active participation, the principle becomes a part of how we naturally live.

Someone told me he didn’t participate in the course because he spends more than enough time on the computer as it is.  Every lesson is sent to you in a way that is easily printed out and carried with you anywhere you go.  It is not intended to only be read only on the computer.  I do get feedback, however, that more and more people are reading their current lesson on their new-fangled phones that apparently brings everything into the palm of their hand.  Technology has finally passed me by.  Anyway, we recommend that the lessons be printed and read on paper, and kept for future reference.

Someone else said he was no longer interested in intellectual pursuits.  It’s hard to ‘explain,’ but the course doesn’t happen as an intellectual process; it is more a course of opening the heart and living in unconditional love right now—in a truly thought-free state, or at least in the space between thoughts.  This is the ultimate Truth of the present moment. 

All that is real, all that will last, is the love we experience right now.  Yet this requires vigilance and remembrance, for so many hidden things totally unlike love are bursting to take over and express themselves through us before we even know what is happening.  It is a very peculiar phenomenon.

There were some great interactions in last month’s comments.  Brahma asked if it is true that the world as we know it will soon come to an end as he has read in various places.

Brahma, ever since I was a child, I've seen cartoons with a man on a soapbox proclaiming that the world was about to end.

The only thing that can 'end' is the cessation of individual consciousness.  Each time an individual leaves this plane of existence, the world ends for that individual.

The last number I heard was that around 300,000 people die, worldwide, over the course of one day.  For each of these 300,000 or so people who left their bodies on that day, it was 'the end of the world.'

We only have to be concerned with our own end.  If we discipline mind and purify ego through our own inner work, then we leave this world gracefully and peacefully.  If we can meditate, we simply go to that same space when the final exhalation approaches, and the transition will be effortless and natural.

We only have to consider our own end.  It is the only one that is relevant.  All our development is to attain a state that we can die gracefully and peacefully.  All individual life leads only to death. For this reason, we remain focused in the present moment, which is the only life we have.

We never have to consider the end of the world, the end of humanity, or anything of the like.  Such an ‘end’ exists only conceptually, and is nothing we will ever personally experience.

You see, there is a contradiction in terms between 'we are all One', and the idea of 'mass destruction.'  If there is only One Consciousness, who is the 'mass' being destroyed?  Wasn't that only the dream of the one Dreamer?

The planet Earth is a living being and has its own evolution in Consciousness, vibrating on a more and more subtle level as we hurl through space and time.  As the Earth evolves, 'the world as we know it' constantly changes, and humanity has to change along with it.

Imagine the world as it was 50 years ago.  I would have been utterly amazed then if I could have magically seen what the world would be 50 years later.  In the same way, we cannot possibly grasp the magnitude of how the world will be different 50 years in the future.  It will be like another planet.

It is an interesting topic and something that we explore more deeply in the lessons of the course.

Brahma, your name reminds me of a quote from my early teacher, which is also quoted in a lesson of the course. Notice that the following is all one sentence:

"This is the “waking and the sleeping of The Great Being,” of the “Day and the Night of Brahma,” the prototype of our waking days and sleeping nights as human beings in the finite earth-plane, in the planetary chain and the Rounds, as well as in The Infinite Omnipresence; or, in other words, of the mortal life, of our disappearance from the scene or the cessation of mortal existence in the body, and of our return again, in reincarnation to take up the unfinished work of our individual karma in another Cycle and Round of experiences—or eventual earth-plane life in a new day and form."

Remember that we see what we think, 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.  Otherwise the force of habitual patterns is too strong.

For this reason we participate in the course via email, we read the blog, and we do whatever else we do to remain conscious, present, alert, and aware.  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, yet they are willing to blame anyone and anything for their own experience.

The level of exchanges in the comments of the blog is one of the 'best kept secrets' of what is available online of a 'spiritual growth' nature.  Feel free to let others know about it.  It will be good for everyone concerned if more people know about the blog and the power inherent in the comments, which ultimately become parts of future blog entries or even lessons of the course.

I offer a sincere thank you to those who visit here regularly, as well as to those who bravely offer their comments and questions. The blog 'community' is very special in many ways, and it will continue to grow stronger over time, when we might need it the most.

For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and available by email, as well as a sample lesson, write: drbutler.course@gmail.com

           Spanish: drbutler.cursoesp@gmail.com
           French: drbutler.course@gmail.com

86 comments:

Kaunteya said...

Thank-you!
Happy Birthday 'old man', I am right behind you! Lol

Kristopher Stillwell said...

I've grown less and less interested in "the world" yet, I live in it. Strange. But I'm a strange dude. Thank you for your thoughts and the wisdom imparted, D.R.

Karen B. said...

At my age of 64, what you are writing is on target with my life as it is now. I don't watch or read the news anymore. There's nothing "new" in the news. When I watch TV, it's something I am truly interested in or find amusing. And its via TiVo: Fast Forward is one of my favorite features. So is the ability to delete at any time. I do make mistakes: 'Gee, it sounded good...".

The people and events that truly matter are those I'm personally involved with in the present moment. These are the true context for me to work out my life's challenges and my true responsibilities.

Sometimes I wonder why our society tries to prolong life as long as possible on either end of the spectrum. It's as though death is not a normal part of the life cycle...as though the number of years are the critical factor. Is it because we should; or is it because we can?

So, I'm at the age and station in life when I know that none of us is bullet proof. I'm actually at ease living life from my perspective.
perspective.

Mayuri said...

What a beautiful entry to the blog. Thank you. That this world is as we see it is such a great truth that causes me to be ever diligent about what I am seeing. It is my responsibility what I "see". Looking out the window onto the sun dappled foliage I am in awe at this transcendent beauty of Gaia that enfolds us and sustains us here on this earth walk. May we all be blessed with the ability to attune ourselves to the beauty of nature - the ever giving beauty that has no end. This love that we are is beauty. And this beauty that we are is love. With love, Mayuri

Karen M. said...

In the few short months since I have returned to the Course, I can truly say that my life has been transformed. The prison of chronic disease is not only becoming tolerable. I find that the Shakti inherent in the Course has shifted my thinking process. Instead of battling disease or struggling to heal, I have been graced with the ability to transcend the karma and be in space of peace and contentment in spite of my drama...and in being able to do this, my physical body is responding and I am becoming healthier!

I have come to realize what a treasure the Course was for me 30 years ago. What a joy it is to be able to cozy back into it. My spiritual life has catalpulted into a new level very quickly since
I have had the opportunity to have the darshan of the Truth in this manner again.

Having lived in New York City for over 20 years, I now find myself living in Missouri. It is such a boon to be in nature. Just "being" is so easy to do. Communing with nature is sadhana, it is practice.

The downside has been I have lived the life of a solitary yogini for many years finding very few kindred souls spiritually.

It is wonderful to have the satsang of this community...people who have such immense hearts, great joy and incredible understanding.

As I approach 60, I really look in the mirror and so often think, "Well we all get old and ugly," but I didn't think it would happen to me so soon! Funny, I don't feel any different even though the outside has changed. I really appreciated this sharing on the blog this month as this is something that I am still in the process of learning how to live with poised in the consciousness of the Self.

Salutations to you and birthday Blessings, Ram. As we all celebrate Spiritual Independence on the 4th of July and the Power and Love of Guru Purnima.

FB said...

So grateful for the the teachings of Truth. 'My story' is' in part, that in 2003, at age 55, a genetic degenerative process surfaced in my body, I could no longer work or function in the world, and by 2006 vision, mobility, balance became advanced enough to make me home-bound. At first of course I was devastated, yet I hung on to the teachings with great might...
Although I would still not complain if my body miraculously healed now, this lifetime, I (too) have never been happier, truly! From this situation I am forced out of the world as I knew it, externally....functional, yet so tense, cutting myself off from the joy of/from silence, stillness of the heart, the moment.
Loss of physical ability forced me out of the world as I knew it, to face myself, and therefore find my true Self.
Neat, now I am finding true joy, rather than desperately trying to attain outer imaginings to make me whole and worthy...(the "if only I was------, then I'd be good enough" syndrome).
One of my adult sons told me today that just before he awakened this morning his Guru came to him in a dream. While he told this I experienced such joy and humor rising, as I felt myself saying to close friends and family, "it is fun isn't it, this lifetime, challenges, difficulties and all"!
It felt so liberating to truly laugh and love.
Thank you for helping me and so many reach such healthy, thriving state.

tommeered said...

I am struck by the your question about the world, "do we see it as it is?" I have contemplated this at length and I really feel that it is impossible to "see it as it is" because we only see the "mirror." I cannot see what others or the world see of "me" or even the world because each perspective is so vastly different. The course has given me so many good ways to look at this. Lately, when I see myself or a "person" I try to imagine them at the end of their life. You know the moment when someone passes and all the people who love them get together and feel the love and greatness of their soul and the profoundness of their life, no matter what they have or haven't done? Then, I imagine the living person in the web of all that right now, and I "see" in a bigger dimension. Often, it is simply summed up by a light over their head or even the "blue pearl." Naturally, being human, it's a stretch for me with some people, but brings me greater understanding, compassion, and oneness with "others." Once again I thank you for the course and the community sharing.

Amy said...

YEA! for tuning in to Nature! Thank you for this reminder, Ram. Have I ever regretted tuning in to Nature? I can't think of a single time. The only times I don't return stronger, more centered, from time spent in nature are the times when I was not Living in the Truth of the Present Moment - lost in some melodrama or the other. In fact, I think I hear the woods and the garden calling me now!

Thank you, Ram and Kay, for all that you do. And thanks to all participants in the Course and the Blog. Like time in Nature, time spent reading the Lessons, the Blog, and everyone's comments always takes me to a better place.

Love & Blessings, Amy

kirsty said...

I had to laugh with total understanding at your reaction to your reflection in the mirror. It can be startling, especially as we usually have no expression at this time. So it's not quite as others see us...but that is their problem anyway, right?

Somewhere, you wondered about the 70s.It gets better. Well, the body slows down, but 'life' is better. This is from one who always prints out the lessons since she doesn't cotton to the new-fangled devices,even though, admittedly, the computer is quite an asset.

May your birthday be the best ever, with many more terrific and beautiful ones to follow.

Divya said...

I had a dream not to long ago that I was dead and that all the people I knew were meeting each other. As I was waking up, I heard myself say i should have passed sooner if I knew this would happen! I really don't think about my death or my growing older. I do see the image in my mirror. I was told by an 80 year old man years ago to always say to myself when I look in the mirror that "I am beautiful." I love my life in this present moment.

When I was visiting with family the other day, I noticed the striving. I started to get locked into the conversation and then felt myself just let go. I was able to be with them without expectation or having to share. I know it is from the course. Dear Ram happy birthday to you. You are great!!Thank you for being in my world.

Dave Silverstein said...

Ram, I like what you say, "The only thing that can 'end' is the cessation of individual consciousness". For so long I've been concerned about how the world will survive...all the 'poor' souls that have to 'die' because of this tragedy or that disaster. Yet, presently the Course has transformed for me these limited ideas of what IS really out there and what is MY 'role' in all of this.

What's out there as you so simply put it is what we choose to manifest. My view of the world may 'seem' distorted due to an emotional obstruction that has taken center stage in my awareness and is reflecting all this 'yuck' around me, or my world seems polished as a shining diamond..everything is beautiful, love is everywhere.

I'm becoming aware that in order to experience a beautiful life here right now, I have to constantly come back to the present moment with love.

Colette DeVore said...

You have truly touched my heart again. I am looking for the words to tell you how magnificent my life is. There is such poignancy and richness, such sweetness and joy. I am so happy that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area surrounded and immersed in beauty in spite of the city that surrounds the Bay.

I am 61 years young, and I am also ageless and timeless. Every time I have discussed this with people who are much older than I, they tell me they are always surprised at the person they see in the mirror because they don't feel any different limited emotional level than they did when they were young. For me, this validates what Ram says in the course about the eternal oneness. We are all externally changing and internally the Same.

My ego still has trouble with the concept that life can be about Ease. It seems to me that the need to change things especially about myself is quite dominant. In the course this month my lesson is talking about Priorities and the necessity of letting everything go, while being totally dharmic and responsible of course, and seeing what still remains. What a beautiful month this is while living into the reality that this priority gives me.

Happy Anniversaries and Birthdays To Both of You, Karuna Colette

Anonymous said...

The truth that is staring me in the face is the alarming realization that I am a loser, particularly financially. Fortunately, I am on the right lesson that I can keep my sense of humor about this but I really need to change. Any suggestions?

Asherah said...

Love and blessings.
Always re-reminding myself. am aware of many many automatic patterns that i keep reminding myself are only my thoughts and not what is so. today i was caught for only 30 min. its getting quicker and quicker that i re-remember.
and nature, could not live without her. i love the birds. somehow just watching them feed immediately brings me back to the present, back to the heart, back to my love. jaya, jaya, thank you.

sparkle said...

"Everything is so beautiful." I often experience this so deeply but am at the same time so aware also of how often I "forget." Thank you for the reminder to stay tuned in to the Mystery in which we are imbedded. Everything else then falls into perspective.

Anonymous said...

It is absolutely wonderful to hear people who are thriving. I aspire to reach that place. Today I lived from a loving place. A lot has to do with the support of the course in training and the universe. I too was faced with some challenge that turned into a gift. In the past I would read a lesson and say why didn't you tell me that yesterday. Presently I know how to process my reactions. I read the lessons and participate in yoga. So many of my issues seem to get taken care of as soon as I read the lesson. Nice. Happy happy birthday.

Anne said...

This much anticipated July blog entry feels fresh, green, warm, nourishing to me .... Thank you Ram. And it so 'amazingly' fits in with much of my current lesson ... but then everyone probably says that!

Contemplating mortality, life, Nature, the Oneness of All, the temporariness of forms, the sense I get that everything is fundamentally 'okay', and that I am changing for the better ...Yes : ) Sensing more personally in my life that challenges, sufferings of all kinds are just part of Nature's cycles ... that they are just as much filled with Grace as softer, easeful, gentler experiences, if I make the effort to choose to see them that way. Grace never goes 'away' whether life seems soft or harder. The flavours of Love?

It is so lovely to feel more consciously incontrovertibly part of the Whole 'shebang', the All! ... life, death, Nature, animals, humans .... And to feel more able to not be so readily sucked into familiar limited identifications. I always feel more courage, as well as en-couraged, through the blog, and the Lessons in particular.

The older I am getting physically in this incarnation, the younger I am feeling in some ways, strange to say? The mind and heart are becoming lighter, and the body seems less of an impediment and more like a friend!
Happy and most Blessed Birthday month to you Ram, and Kay, and the Course too : ) Thank you for being 'you', and being here, offering your service so richly and gracefully, and unconditionally, for us to learn, apply, and awaken much more deeply. (Anne-Bindu)

rico said...

Anonymous, whenever thoughts of money problems would arise for me I would repeat the 'mantra', I always have more money than I need. Part of the 'trick' is to believe in the 'magic' of these words. Words have power and it is belief that empowers them. Give it a shot it might just work for you too!

Betsie said...

For the past 4 month I have been taking care of my 2-6month old grandson, what a delight!! And challenging because he lives in Shanghai (China) so I live now in this enormous city with occasional parks and millions of people who also want to enjoy nature in the city!
No FB and no blog available (friends send copies).
But...what a great challenge; I find myself more interested in the "outer world" but in an easeful and lighthearted way. Less judgemental and less wanting to change anything..... What a blessing. Now I am back in Sydney for a vacation and more then ever appreciate nature, the ocean, sun and moon rises and big blue sky's. Right now I experience such peace in my heart with all that is!
The Course has helped me enormously to reach this state! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Kaunteya said...

Thank-you Rico!
I am going to try this!

Karen Jo Shapiro said...

Hello, everyone-

I just got back from a trip and was able to settle into reading this blog and comments, which I treasure.

My last lesson (June 15) didn't arrive in my email until after I had left, and not having a printer I for the first time read my lesson off my lap-top. I can attest that I really missed holding the paper version in my hands! There was something different for me in the way I could absorb its energy.

Now that I am back I have printed off my new lesson (and the one I could only read on computer) and it is my loyal companion once again.

FB, your response to your situation inspired me so. I loved your share ""it is fun isn't it, this lifetime, challenges, difficulties and all"!

Happy Independence Day to All. Love KJ

Lorne said...

First of all I wish to thank you for the Course "Living in the Truth of the Present Moment.” I find this Course a Blessing in Itself, however I do have a few questions I would like to ask.

Here goes: In Lesson 3 it says and I quote: "The Witness observes: 'This is happening; it's something that happens.' It has no description or judgment regarding it, no opinion about it, no like or dislike concerning it. There is the simple observation of what is….The ultimate goal of the soul is to experience the conscious realization that it is one with and the same as the infinite Being or universal Consciousness, which was never born and will never die, which projects the play of the cosmos upon it own screen of space and time."

Because of my past religious upbringing I have difficulty in understanding this first part where God has no judgment just observes, since God is Love how can He just observe all the difficult and cruel things that are going on in the world?

I know that apparently He is projecting a movie on a screen and that we're just actors, but actors only make believe that things are happening, while in reality nothing is being physically done to them; whereas in our real world people are being hurt and are suffering along with many other difficult things happening to them.

How can God be insensitive to this, especially in the religious aspect of it? The Bible showed how God is a Loving God and in the beginning He gave the Ten Commandments to Moses in order to keep Law and Order, there it shows that He does have Judgment. I know that the Bible is one of the books among many that have been written about God, what are we to believe among them and where did creation of the first human start if not according to the Bible? This can be a confusing issue I find.

Also I do believe in Prayer and Giving Thanks to God which you encourage us to do, but if God only observes how can He Bless us?

Beyond these questions I know that the Universal Energy, the Shakti, is doing its work and at times I do have a sense of well-being and Great Love that builds up within and I am grateful for such experiences.

In the last few years or so I have this numbness that happens now and again in between the eyebrows and the forehead and at times tightens between the eyebrows, can you explain what this is?

I want to thank you for taking the time to read my questions and I am
looking forward to continuing the Course. Warm regards, Lorne

JoC said...

Dearest Ram and Kay,

Happy Happy, anniversary, Ram's birthday, and course anniversary! Wow, what a month of celebration for you! It seems quite appropriate for you guys that this is the month of celebrating freedom and the Guru.

The blog post and the lesson I am currently reading are as usually are complete relevant to my life and study right now. For over 30 years this has been the mostly the case with the lessons anyway. They have always been a confirmation and a clarification for me of what I already know to be “Truth”, but may not have been able to verbalize or cognize. Thanks for the clarity and the loving guidance.

My husband and I are camp hosting at a campground at a beautiful, peaceful and very still mountain lake. Our duties are minimal and because the lake is very low and gas prices are very high the occupancy is quite low (we don't always know what is for the best). It's much like being on a meditation retreat in a pristine natural setting. This work situation just fell into our laps (what comes unbidden) and even though we have considered doing camp hosting for years we had not really pursued it. It just came about serendipitously, as the best things often do. We are both soooo grateful for this opportunity to spend so much time in nature. I really relate to leaving behind the constant vibrations in the air when living in a town or city. It's incredible to experience the contrast of continual rajas with predominant sattva in our surroundings.

Let me just say that the lessons are a steady background and context for enriching this time of contemplation, meditation, and samadhi (samyama) “Here and Now”.

Thank you again and again for all you offer

D. R. Butler said...

Thanks to each of you for your birthday wishes, for your love, your gratitude, your support, and your loyalty. It has been a great day to hear from so many that I never anticipated hearing from.
Many wonderful surprises.

I will get to the unanswered questions above very soon. A lot is happening right now. A little patience will go a long way. Love to each of you.

Anonymous said...

It seems if we could attain fearlessness we could offer greater service to the world. How can fearless ness be attained?

Michelle Synnestvedt said...

Hi Ram, thanks for the blog.
I loved what Shane said..he and I are very aligned!
As you know I love Mother Nature!!!!

I am very interested in the world, in fact I pay more and more attention to the world because the world is just the reflection of collective consciousness which is not at all separate from me in any way.
I look carefully , observe things, developments, trends, Nature, Machines, evolution and get a peek into my own SELF, after all it's the ONE'S DREAM.
I think there is a big difference in actively and consciously engaging the world and getting "lost" in it.( although getting lost in it is part of the game too).
Studying language, culture, social structures, ect is the same as self inquiry. I can either go deeper and deeper into quietude, into inward states or expand more and more in the 'outer' world as a way of self discovery. Either way, whether "in" or "out" yoked with an intention for clarity or discovery, I believe we will experience more and more of our infinite Nature. If we choose to move inward that doesn't make the world disappear, because as far as I can see, the further out OR in you go, everything looks more and more the same ( think of 'the power of 10' ..subatomic structures look just like the milky way :)as above so below/ As within so with out ).
So I see this Sameness as beautiful and also the difference as beautiful. I mean if Sameness was the only point...well then why would there be difference. Sameness manifests as difference.
And I get that a point you are making is to stay aware of that which is watching the discovery- whether inward or outward.

Daniel Stern said...

After many years of reading the course, including the two courses preceding this course in its present form, today I have finally gained access to two things: the first is finding where to post, although Ram has told me twice. It is tucked away at the bottom under "comments". I wonder if that was an impediment for anyone but me.

The second realization has been creeping up on me slowly and has finally dawned today on me completely. I have always read the lessons through various mental filters like: "Yeah, yeah." and "I already know this", and " this won't make a difference", even before I have read it, and certainly while I am in the process of reading. I even heard the words spoken with the most boring intonations my mind could muster. However I found that I could CHOOSE to be in the moment while I was reading, to remember a deeper part of myself, and let the words become and be, a form of vital truth. To help with this I slowed my inner "reading voice" down, when I read the lessons, so that it became new and unfamiliar, and that broke up my automatic listening and different projections. Now I can really be in the moment with it, and get the highest from it. I read each sentence individually, like a sutra, which also breaks up the automaticity, and let it sink in as well. For a while I had even tried reading the lessons backwards, sentence by sentence. But reading it normally works much better now.

This was and is, by the way, not so much of a decision at the mental level, although paradoxically it includes that. It is an inner choice, which leaves me relatively thought free even when I am thinking and getting the principles that are being "explained".

Before I embarked on this new way of being with the lessons, I actually had a number of "thoughts" that presaged my current lesson, which then confirmed and impressed these ideas on me in a deep way. I am also clear that all the work I have done up to this point has been leading me to this place and teaching me how to be open to it, and put everything into an ongoing practice.


I recently remembered that thirty five years ago, at a yoga retreat in Canada, I had this same experience listening to an Indian teacher, whom I knew quite well, and therefore did not take as seriously as I might. I asked him if it was OK to listen to his words and have them be the highest truth through the exercise of my will. He said yes, but that I was missing the most important point: that the ability to consciously choose was the source of power, and not necessarily his words in particular, and it could be used all the time, for everything. And then of course I forgot about it, until now.

So I have read Ram's posts back to March, and look forward to the new lessons, as well as reviewing the earlier ones. I am clear that this principle is a central one for all aspects of life. It is very exciting. And I am grateful.



Thank you.

D. R. Butler said...

Lorne, you write a beautiful, open, and candid comment. Yes, most of us have been taught through the orthodox religions that God is judgmental and either rewards or punishes, according to how closely his 'law' has been followed. Of course, this would be conditional love, and we cannot understand God's state if we do not experience unconditional love.

You are early in the course, and soon the things you question will become obvious. The Upanishads, one of the great texts of the East, say that God is the Witness of the mind. God also witnesses everything without judgment, for He knows Himself as pure Consciousness, and knows that this entire universe is a play of Consciousness.

Each individual experiences their just and rightful karma. You might not be able to see in this particular incarnation why something is so, but if you saw their last three incarnations it would be obvious why they are going through whatever they are experiencing.

God, pure Consciousness, sees everything as a part of Itself. There is nothing separate or different to consider. This is our true and eternal state. Everything else is the play of the mind, the experience of all thoughts, cause and effect as the Law of karma.

To think that God couldn't bless us as well as observe us is to greatly limit God's absolute power. He (She, It), being omnipotent, has no limitation.

The numbness between your eyebrows could mean anything you believe about it. My advice is to be the One observing the experience. It doesn't matter what the experience is. The only thing that matters is our conscious at-one-ment with the Witness or Observer. Our true nature is the Knower or all that is known and the Seer of all that is seen. This is how we eventually learn to see and experience ourselves, as our true Identity.

D. R. Butler said...

Anonymous, fearlessness is an attribute of a Master, a Siddha, an enlightened Being. As long as there is fear, we are limited to individual ego. Fear arises when we see another. When we experience the Oneness and Unity of all, there is no fear, there is only contentment.

D. R. Butler said...

Michelle, your comment is beautiful and clear. I love the way you describe things to be. I agree with everything you say, and I love that you see and appreciate the perfect balance between inner and outer. It is hard to expand on anything you said. What you said was all anyone needs.

Thank you for visiting us here in the comments. I love the way your mind works, so I love to hear from you now and then.

D. R. Butler said...

Daniel, I love your absolute honesty. Always have. You offer such a clear and instructive view of things. Thanks for sharing some of your experiences with the course. You never cease to amaze me.

Jessie said...

Hi D.R.
maybe it's just me but I heard some foreboding language in that last blog.
I was confused by the contrast of these two statements
"It would be great if every one of us who are not yet attuned to nature would make efforts to be so. Alone, here and now, everything is always fine. Yet around us the world that mankind built is in a downward cycle."
and
" It will be for your benefit if you will put the external world in the background, and put your inner state as the foreground of your attention. Our inner state can remain solid and stable even if the world around us collapses. It is eternal, all-pervasive, indivisible, and indestructible."
Is attuning to nature the same as attuning to our own inner state? I've lived in a city for my whole life and now experiencing deep yearnings to get out and live in place more surrounded by and in tune with nature.
I also found this conclusion to have a tone of forewarning:
"The blog 'community' is very special in many ways, and it will continue to grow stronger over time, when we might need it the most." Granted my ears may be attuned to foreboding and forewarning having just spent a challenging weekend with a parent who is "coming to terms" with having cancer and by "coming to terms" I mean freefalling in a spiral of despair and negative projections about the future. Good Times...
Thanks, Jessie

D. R. Butler said...

Jessie, it seems like you got a good dose of karma in this lifetime. In a sense being attuned to nature is the same as being attuned to our inner state. I remember when I first began meditating, I would find a place in the park that surrounded our city, and I would hear birds chirping and the soft breeze rustling the leaves, and it would all seem as though it was happening within me, not outside of me. I heard birds chirping within myself. I felt the breeze blowing through the leaves as blowing through myself--there was no difference. Everything had been merged into One, and then I realized it had been One all along.

Yes, the blog community is growing stronger, and the course community is growing stronger as well. And there is a very good chance that we will need this knowledge, this understanding, and this experience before the planet changes any more than it already has.

I don't feel there is any 'foreboding' in my writing, but only an observation of what is actually already happening.

There will be harder days ahead, and there will also be days so glorious you might never have thought you could experience such a thing, or that you were worthy enough, which is where many people have a problem.

We call the course a Course of Training because the process of participation is a 'training' for living in this world, as it is now and as it will become. It is positive to understand that there are others out there much like ourselves who are doing the same work that we are, participating in the same training.

We must be adaptable, we must develop tolerance and endurance. These are each aspects of spiritual evolution, which the individual experiences as an expansion and elevation both within and without.

Everything in the future is much greater than anything we might have guessed could happen. This conviction comes from knowing our higher Power is beneficent and all-loving. We haven't been left to fend for ourselves. We have invisible helpers all around, who are able, eager, and willing to aid us--we simply need to open up to their help, to being as receptive as possible. At this point things become intuitively obvious.

Marga said...

From the blogpost:

"we can learn to shut out the outer world even while fully participating in it, playing our own karmic role the best we can—which is true dharma— while relating easily to others and competently attending to responsibilities."

In my solitary, silent, still moments I have no ambitions and am content simply Being - hearing the birds sing "inside Me" similar to the way you describe, Ram. This is becoming my lived experience more and more.

However, sometimes when I am "in the world" around good friends or family or professional associates who don't share this awareness, I can still get duped into a sense of the "insufficiency" of my life - the thought "I'm not (whatever) enough" - and feel that active, rajasic pull of needing to "be somebody." (Maybe that's all the Capricorn influence in my chart ;)

While I know my current karma to include a certain level of active participation in the world, (which I truly enjoy and am not trying to get rid of,) I would like to favor contentment in my inner experience.

Ram, I would love to hear what you might offer me around the fading of ambition. And it seems to me that the older ones among us here may have some useful things to say about this.

I know I cannot take anything with me on my final exhalation. How to let go of it while still breathing?

Jessie said...

D.R.
You're reply filled me with incalculable gratitude, tears of Joy.
I'm on lesson 12 right now, got behind and am reading that and then 13 until the next one comes.
Yours in the ranks,
Jessie

Karen Jo Shapiro said...

Ram, thank you for your response to Jessie; I love your last paragraph about our opening up to the invisible helpers all around. For the first time ever in my life, during the last year or so in my course participation, I have begun to feel this sense of protection and let old anxieties and fears go.

Your words about Nature in this blog and recent comment are particularly apropos to my recent experiences. Typically I live a suburban life (middle aged working mom who shops at Target....); we have lots of strip malls and also some nice woods.

But in the last month I have traveled to two extremes. A special trip for my 25th wedding anniversary brought my husband, kids and I into big city living for about a week negotiating rush hour on subways etc.. Now we are in a rural Maine cottage by a lake with hardly anyone around.

As much as it was exciting and stimulating to be in the city I do feel attuned to the difference in vibration. The course has helped me appreciate being in nature (without lots of people around) so much more than I used to. As a strong extrovert with a "busy mind" I used to need a lot of stimulation (and thrived on emotional drama far more than was good for me)

The course has helped me prioritize harmony, peace, spending some alone time with my soul BEING, and contentment. I am happy to watch myself now be able to look peacefully at a lake for a long time without feeling "bored".

Thanks for the constant reminders you give us. Love KJ

Sukala C. Boyd said...

What stood out for me is the statement, "It will be for your benefit if you will put the external world in the background, and put your inner state as the foreground of your attention". It feels like a great amount of wealth is contained in those words and is valuable to contemplate. It's a reversal of our ordinary conditioning.
I have come to admire people who are on a path of love and/or masters like my Guru, who demonstrate this state as their priority. It was hard to relate to in the beginning of my spiritual practices. Now in my early 60's, I more often think of the vast number of saints and sages through history, and the numbers of people here and there who are committed to a path of love and truth, and it seems natural and do-able. I feel this shift in me, as I participate in your Course. I love that quote for its validation, inspiration and the subtle command it contains along with its wisdom.

With love,
Sukala

Julian C. said...

Lorne, from what I recall, the Old Testament, or Torah, talks about a first set of tablets which Moses originally brought down from Mount Sinai. When he saw the wretched state his people were in upon his descent, he smashed these tablets against the ground. He later returned with a second set of tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments, also referred to by some as simply the Ten Utterances. There has been speculation about what was written in the first set of tablets, but regardless of what it might have been, Humanity was not ready. The Ten Commandments might seem like judgement, but it simply defines/ed what is/was acceptable and not acceptable, or "right" and "wrong", if you will. In some of the letters attributed to St. Paul, found in the New Testament, he describes "The Law", which includes the Ten Commandments, as a "curse". He teaches that God is Love, that Love is to be our guiding principle, and that freedom from "The Law" is found in Love. This is at least what I recall from when I read the New Testament years ago. One can take teachings such as these literally and use them to prove that one is right and that others are wrong. One can also read between the lines, so to speak, and see the truths that such teachings reveal within one's own heart. I hope my "story" helps you in some manner.

Julian C. said...

Anyway, I enjoyed reading your latest entry in the blog, D.R. Butler. My plate is pretty full right now, but I wanted to check in. Your comments about the ethers constantly assaulting us when we live in cities caught my attention, having lived in cities all of my life up to now. I have always experienced a greater sense of peace when I get out of the city and reconnect with nature. Also, although I am merely 53 years old, I sure don't look as good when I look in the mirror as I once did. Fortunately, the Course is helping me focus more on the beauty to be found in the Truth of the Present Moment, as well as "nature" as it manifests within me despite being a city boy through and through.

Justin said...

Dear Ram,

Thanks for this month's post, which again brings me back to what is real. A great deal of my sadhana these days is dealing with the insistence of the "apparent" world, the one in which the bank account and the post office and the administrators live. I am coming to the end of the first year of the course and have gotten so much out of it so far. And yet, and yet, I keep treating it like a bunch of memorizable sayings, a loose bundle of things and I have to be careful and keep checking to make sure I haven't dropped anything. I don't even notice at first that I'm looking out at the world from a very worried, fearful place. Will I have enough? Will difficult things happen? (Yes, of course, and yes, of course.) I get stuck thinking that if I do some process just right as if it were a spell or a chemistry experiment I'll get the outcome I want.

And my work is remembering to keep things in perspective, and discerning what's real from what's just insistent. And when I get fearful of things going wrong, I have to remember that everything is actually perfect.

And now I see that I'm bringing worry to Lesson 23, where you write "... but for now it is best to establish a strong foundation, which includes getting personal life and relationships in order... if our physical life, our personal karma, is not in order... then they will be much greater distractions than you might suspect."

I don't feel that these things are getting that much more cleaned up a year in. As a friend, husband, and father I continue to make many of the same mistakes I always have. My life has many of the same issues in it, and even some new ones. Can you tell me a little more about how to get these things in order?

Kaunteya said...

Justin
Thank you for sharing ang for your question.
I could sure use suggestions, insight and help getting my karma in order! I am putting the effort in on a practical level and asking for Grace. I have asked others for help as it has become quite detrimental and distracting. At the same time, I realize everything is Perfect and is as it needs to be for my ultimate benefit - including getting my outer stuff in order.

FB said...

Ram, I feel that a significant breakthrough has come....being on Lesson 11, which emphasizes the 'what you see is what you get' truth, an old enormous and lifetime issue (with certain family members I have known and love all my life, and or theirs), of ever-present either in stifling to niggling proportion, came into focus! That of how I can describe their suffering in uplifting, beneficial for all, positive ways, rather than the old negative (for all) ways. For the past several days I just was not fully applying the principle to this specific issue. Then upon today's reading it occurred to me, "OK, try adding the word 'becoming' to your view". My thoughts became, "everything is perfect as it is for the expansion and evolution of our souls..,she or he or we are 'becoming' radiant, independent, mature, confident, joyful, fearless, content, grateful, cheerful, sociable, etc persons". The more positive descriptions I could think of, the more came...and I was able to fully apply this principle of truth!
I guess it is ok to add 'becoming' whenever I couldn't quite feel 'already are', because it allows me to see and feel 'already are'. It is exhilarating!
This also frees me of that lifelong issue of feeling I am responsible for the complete well-being of "others", yet empowers me to be a source of upliftment, empowerment, warmth, kindness, encouragement, safety, love, etc. to/for 'others' (myself included).
Gratefully,
MB

Jessie said...

Hello D.R.
I just got lesson 14. But have only read through lessons 12 and 13 once. Would you recommend I try to keep reading 13 with 14 or just focus on 14?
Also is it alright to quote from lessons after 12 with questions in the blog discussion?
Thanks,
Jessie

Ghayas said...

Hello Ram,
I find it difficult to draw the line between being diplomatic / "appropriate" and staying integrate, true with myself and others. I grew up in a muslim family and recently (for the last few years) I've been experiencing each year -- few days before the beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan -- a dilemma. In my daily life, the practices I'm embracing to nourish my relationship with the Transcendent do not include any of the fundamentals of the orthodox religion and I usually feel totally at peace with myself. Yet when it comes to the fasting month of Ramadan, the "communitarian" aspect of this practice is so strong that I feel a "pressure". I'm not comfortable in committing to the fast only out of respect for a religious tradition and obligation, but in the same time I have not attained yet the degree of courage to tell the whole family gathered around the dining table at night to break the fast : "You know guys, frankly, I'm not into this, I'm just concerned about being content from one moment to another, I just meditate, read the Course, etc." I would dread getting into an ideological conflict or even just an "ideological cold". Now, here is my issue: fear of conflict. Out of this fear, I would find it easier to endure the physical hardship of all the fasts of the world than telling the family directly, "do your stuff, I do mine". But in the same time I'm not at all comfortable in committing to a practice only to honour a cultural custom. Now, back to my initial question: how to draw the line between being diplomatic (not hurting anyone's cultural sensitivity in my close surrounding) and being true to the form my own sadhana took quite organically and naturally in the past years?
Thank You, Ghayas

Julian said...

Hi Ram,
I hope this finds you and yours in the best possible way. I love your message, but have a question. You mention that we are free when we know the unchanging self. In reading this, I initially took it to mean being free from karma. Am I correct? Would this mean that the karma of one's present lifetime simply needs to play itself out and that we can be free from being pulled into it on an emotional level, thus avoiding the creation of more karma? Please help me understand. I thank you in advance for your time. Love,Julian

Julian C. said...

Ghayas, it sounds like you are feeling trapped by the cultural circumstances involving your family of origin. but perhaps some of this is just in your mind. Is there really a need to make any declarations or even say anything about it at all? Depending on how important it is to you to maintain good ties with your relatives, perhaps you could just look at your muslim traditions and practices from a more expanded perspective rather than from a more contracted "either this or that" perspective. I don't know how open-minded your "orthodox" family might be, but I understand that there are some versions of Islam which touch more upon the heart of a universal spirituality, namely the Sufi traditions. I do feel for you since I understand that "muslims" in the west have to struggle with the reality of adjusting to the more pluralistic societies of the West, that old struggle between tradition and change. I wish you the best.

D. R. Butler said...

I will get to the unanswered questions as soon as possible.

Eugenia said...

Ghayas, I see fasting (meditating, praying) as a way to connect to your own source and in doing so you become more productive. It is amazing how long a day is and how strong one is when eating is out of the picture. I also find that a lot of the time "what we are going to eat next" becomes the focal point and the meal is the highlight of the day. Like you say you can feel a lot more connected reading a lesson under a tree than roling around a house full of hungry people. As Julian says do you have to say anything? Grab your favourite chocolate bar and your favourite lesson in your favourite spot and sink in the moment. Or you can fast...don't eat just read. It is only food after all. Love to you

Jean said...

Reading the words of the blog is like a huge gulp of oxygen after being oxygen deprived at a high altitude--I feel rejuvenated and so much more peaceful. Two of ny alcoholic son's children have been visiting with me this summer and went back to Europe just this past Saturday. While they were here I didn't have time to think but once they left, I became depressed thinking about my son's disease and their circumstances. Then I started reading the blog and all this sweet, uplifting loving energy flowed through me. We are so blessed by this. Thanks to each of you for your words--and to you dear D.R. And Kay for your loving service.

Lorne said...

Dear Ram,

What is your opinion on how Creation started for the first human couple?

What does Yoga teachings have to say on such also, besides the understanding
that Consciousness created the Soul?

I also understand that we must work on our Ego and not let what others
say or do affect us, but isn't there a fine line that we must use accordingly because of how others can start to manipulate us if we just let everything
go by and they will then think that they have the upper hand in dealings
and therefore abuse the situation?

Thank you in advance for listening. Always reading the lessons with an Open Heart, Thank you for Them. Love, Lorne

Kay Butler said...

Many of you choose to email us your blog comments and if that is the only way you can post them, we are happy to continue to do that for you. However, if it possible for you to post your own comments, it will be appreciated. Here are some simple instructions that you might want to copy and paste somewhere where you can find it easily:

Blog Instructions
1. open the entry that you wish to read
2. click on the entry title after it is open (this will open the comments, so that they will appear at the end of the entry, in the same typeface as the entry)
3. TO POST A COMMENT:
Scroll to the end of comments
Click on ‘post a comment’
Type your message in ‘leave a comment’
Type what you see in the ‘word verification’ and hit 'enter' (sometimes I find it necessary to type it again and again, as Google seems to have some glitches there)
Click on ‘name/url’ or ‘anonymous’ and choose the name you wish to be posted under

D.R. moderates all comments, so you will not see your comment immediately (usually posted within a day or so)
(The best way to view an entry and its comments is to bring up the entry, click on the title of the entry, then scroll down and you will automatically see the comments in the same typeface.)

Thanks for trying this for yourself. With love, Kay

Kay Butler said...

Hello to everyone who reads this...please note:
when you are reading an older archived article of these writings and you wish to leave a comment to something you've read, please keep in mind that if you go to the end of the older article and post your comment, it will automatically appear at the end of that article and not at the end of the current one.

If you'd like your contribution/question to be seen and read by people reading the current entry, please post it in the 'comments' there.

And a warm THANK YOU for all the sweet birthday blessings and love you poured on me yesterday. With love, Kay

D. R. Butler said...

Marga, your question, as always, is very intriguing. You have a way of articulating questions that make all of us look a little deeper than usual.

It is true that ambition fades as we grow older and more spiritually mature. I have no ambition to do anything, including continuing to write. Yet I get these questions from people, and what else is there for me to do but to respond to them? The Course of Training evolves primarily from the questions most people seem to feel are most important to be answered or clarified. And so in the course we have a handbook for living on the planet Earth, which is the way I see it.

Each of us has a certain dharma, or right action that results in the best interest of all involved, and this dharma is often independent of ambition; it just happens.

Marga, since I have personally experienced you through a Vedic Astrology reading via Skype audio, I can assure you that are you doing your dharma perfectly. Your monthly newsletters are so clear. You offer a true service, which is the greatest blessing.

I know very little about your personal karma, yet I do know that it is all simply stuff running off, another version of the karmic movie, and exists independent of your dharma, which is helping people to understand themselves and their lives in greater and more expanded ways.

Probably, like my writing, this will continue long after you have any real 'ambition' to do it. You don't even have to think of it as something you do. It is more truthful that it simply happens.

D. R. Butler said...

I wish I could tell you what great people post comments here, and have posted in this thread, but it would just take too much time. Of course, I don't personally know all people who post here, yet the ones I have gotten to know are such exceptional people. I wish I had the time to share with you what I have come to know about them, as it would deepen your appreciation of our community.

In case anyone wonders, it is up to you whether you consider yourself part of the 'blog community' or not. You can have it either way you like. Some people don't care to be parts of any group, even a subtle one such as ours, and we certainly don't impose anything on anyone. From my perspective, everyone is included and no one is excluded, but that's just the way I see things.

D. R. Butler said...

Justin wrote, 'I don't feel that things are getting that much more cleaned up a year in (the course). As a friend, husband, and father I continue to make many of the same mistakes I always have. My life has many of the same issues in it, and even some new ones. Can you tell me a little more about how to get these things in order?'

Justin, what you say is true for all of us. We are never going to be ideal, and our lives will certainly never appear to be ideal in all ways. We will continue making the most stupid mistakes and saying embarrassing things that we have no idea what they came from.

This is just human life happening. The secret is to stop identifying with it and caring about it. Our basic reason for being here is to know, feel, and experience our own true Nature, which is the Reality even when we're being totally off the wall on a personal level.

In the course we explore the 'superficial and superfluous realm of thoughts and emotions' that are part of being a human individual, and come with the incarnation as much as the physical body itself.

Our work is not to get rid of it, improve it, or change it in any way. The true inner work is the present moment awareness of the Self, the pure Awareness of Being.

When we are aware of the Truth, and LIVE in the Truth of the Present Moment, it won't matter what is happening in the realm of karma. It is simply the way the movie of this individual life is manifesting right now. Everything passes except the Witness of all that happens. The seen constantly changes, but the Seer remains eternally the same.

D. R. Butler said...

Kaunteya, the same reply applies to your comment.

D. R. Butler said...

Jessie, it is always best to focus on your current lesson. If any previous lessons got only one reading, or not enough attention on your part, go back and read them whenever you have the opportunity to do so. There is too much in every lesson for everything to be understood clearly after only one reading. It's not a matter of merely 'knowing' something. It's a matter of how we actually live our life here and now, and this is what the process of rereading each lesson leads to.

If each lesson is read only once, it is certainly better than never reading it at all, yet this is not a true and complete experience of the transformation available through participation in the course by referring to the current lesson as often as possible. This actually changes something on a subtle level, and the results are also experienced physically.

D. R. Butler said...

Ghayas, you never have to make a point of telling your family and others of the tradition you were raised in that you no longer share their same beliefs and values.

Do they really pay that much attention to what you do? Couldn't you just 'pretend' to do it for their sake without really getting involved? If you have fear around this it feels like you might be too enmeshed with family and/or past tradition.

Someone raised in the Christian traditional, for example, can continue to share holidays such as Christmas or Easter with their family of origin without making a big point of simply wishing to live in the Truth of the Present Moment.

Maybe I don't fully grasp what you are asking. If this is true, please let me know.

Marga said...

Thanks so much, Ram.

It's reassuring to have a gut feeling I've had confirmed by you. What I'm getting from your response to my question about ambition is that, just like it's possible to have thoughts but not identify with them or focus on them or act on them, it's also possible for ambition to flood the system from time to time but not need to do anything about it. Instead, to see it as more "weather" passing through the cloudless, endless sky.

It's taking some getting used to, doing what I do with no ambition motivating it. It can feel very...um... unsexy. What to do.

I love thinking of the Course as a handbook for living on planet earth. That is very much how I experience it. Thank you for all you do.

D. R. Butler said...

Julian said, 'You mention that we are free when we know the unchanging self. In reading this, I initially took it to mean being free from karma. Am I correct?'

Being free certainly includes being free from karma. From a place of freedom we simply watch the karmic movie, unaffected by any of it.

There is a lot more to being free, however. It includes being free from the mind and ego, being free from the past and future and the sense of passing time, being free from the need to improve or make better, being free from identification with this particular person and life, being free from emotional reactions, negative emotions, and so on. There are many aspects to being free. We explore all of them in the lessons of the course via email.

D. R. Butler said...

Marga, being 'unsexy' is not one of the ways I would describe you.

Rima said...

I have not been reading the lessons recently (for at least several months) - some not at all, some only once. And, in fact I've not always read all of them over the last 4 years. That puts me behind in understanding, transmission, etc. and I certainly have not imbibed the lessons at this point. I would like to continue, but don't know if you would advise it at this point.

Please advise. What should I do at this point. I can't "catch up." I can perhaps begin again. But where should I begin? Or should I just move forward from the present moment. Or, does the fact that I've not been reading the lessons mean that they have moved forward, but I have not, and therefore I should discontinue at this time? I await your response and your advice.

D. R. Butler said...

Rima, I appreciate your honesty. Reading the lessons is the thing to 'do' in the process of experiencing the Course. Many people resist reading them, and especially rereading them, imagining that they already understand the contents after they have already read them once.

The Course is not about a lot of reading. Reading is simply our way of tuning in. You can simply begin now and 'move forward from the present moment.' What else can any of us do, really?

Read my response of July 21 to Jessie. The answer is the same for you. It requires some discipline to refer to the current lesson as often as possible, yet this is the transformative element. The rereading of the lessons expands us inwardly and deepens our understanding. It is not about 'learning' something. It is about being exposed to the energy of the Present Moment.

Julian C. said...

Thank you so much for your response, Ram. I am humbled in remembering just how much work I still need to do and I feel a bit overwhelmed at this time. For one thing, my pride gets so much in the way sometimes so it's not always easy for me to be grateful to those around me who challenge it. Blah, blah, blah...oh, poor me (LOL). I am grateful to have you as a guide, Ram, and I'm grateful for the Course.

Michael said...

Is it true that I will forget about this incarnation shortly after the last exhalation? Like a dream that I've just woken from and barely remember? I was singing the other day and had this disconcerting experience of being "outside my body" inside my body.
I felt completely dissociated from the act of singing, which was happening on its own with great passion as I watched with cool indifference. Was there a warm feeling of love behind the indifference? Or was this indifferent coolness my natural state, the state of the Perceiver?

Marga said...

Hahaha! I guess 'sexy' is "in the eye of the beholder" as they say, so maybe I ought to "change the prescription of my glasses" as a great being was known to say...

Also, picking up on what Michael said ~ the "cool indifference" he speaks of ~ I too, am very curious to hear what you have to say about this, Ram. This is related to my feeling of a lack of ambition, and the 'unsexiness' of that.

Indifference is a good word for the feeling I have of being in the present moment, not grabbing on to ambition, or expectation, or any sense of what should happen next. In the past when I've encountered this indifference I've quickly buried it, thinking that something was wrong - there's no juice in it, after all. Aren't I here for juice? (Says the limited identity..) It's taking some getting used to, to stop fighting the indifference.

Jessie said...

Can we quote and reference lessons after lesson 12 in this blog?

D. R. Butler said...

Yes, it is okay to quote and reference any lesson of the Course in the blog comments and even on Facebook. We simply ask that you not share whole lessons with others after Lesson 12 in order to interest them in the Course. If nothing from the first 12 lessons interests them, they are clearly not interested.

D. R. Butler said...

Michael, we can remember very little of this incarnation now while we are still in it. We remember details from here and there, but for the most part we have forgotten all about it. Besides, is there anything in the incarnation itself actually worth remembering? The only thing truly worth remembering is the eternal Self.

Your description of yourself while singing reminds me of how I experience writing. I don't know if it's 'cool indifference' so much as it is detachment and dispassion.

Marga, I think you also are confusing indifference with dispassion.

Katie Lorah said...

Dear Ram,

Why does grieving for a dead loved one feel so good sometimes? Even though I miss my Father's physicality, grieving feels like a connection to something even more pure than what was when we were physically together. In many ways I think I know him better now than I ever did before. When he comes to me in my dreams it feels like our love for one another is so much stronger. Can you elaborate?

Thank you dearly.

Michael said...

Thank you, Ram - after I read your response there was a split second when I forgot all about this incarnation and was simply present, as a point or node of awareness. It felt cool and peaceful, and I noticed that this was same experience I had while singing. I really appreciate your comparison between singing and writing, which validated and clarified a valuable glimpse of the Truth that I might have disregarded.

Marga said...

Ok, yes - detachment and dispassion. Is that what this is. I remember the word "vairagya" from text chants in my guru's ashram. I don't remember ever consciously (successfully) practicing dispassion, or vairagya. Interesting to now identify it.

D. R. Butler said...

Katie Lorah, your question is something near and dear to my heart. I was surprised to see that the day of my father's funeral was one of the most blissful days of my life. There was so much Light present, and a great sense of freedom. I looked at his body in the coffin, and felt his freedom from it, his joy of being back in the subtle realm again.

The physical world is the most difficult realm to feel close in, or to see each other's true nature in. On the subtle realms such things are more immediately obvious. We explore this much more deeply in the course than I can go into here. The topic is vast.

It is very natural to be more attuned to another subtly than was ever possible physically. In the physical body, there are all these karmic restrictions. When the incarnation is over, the restrictions no longer apply.

I also have to work on this one from the other direction. The downside of having a daughter at 50 is that there's no way I can get out of knowing that she'll still be relatively young when I leave this body. And since she was about 6 years old I talked to her about the subtle body and the subtle world, as it is always more substantial and lasting than the physical realm. And I feel that knowing about this subtle connection is very empowering for both of us, as we are prepared to view the eventual transition as a positive happening.

This is turning out to be long. Perhaps I will expand more on this in an upcoming blog entry, or in a new lesson of the Course. There's a lot to go into here for one who sincerely wishes to understand how things work.

D. R. Butler said...

I forgot to address the question, 'Why does grieving for a dead loved one feel so good sometimes?'

The answer is because grief, like any other emotion, can be experienced as blissful.

Bliss has no polarity, no opposite. Therefore it pervades and permeates all emotions, as well as everything else, simultaneously. In this way, even when we are experiencing intense grief, we can also be blissful.

Bliss (in Sanskrit--Ananda) is an eternal aspect of our own Self. It never changes or fluctuates, and it is never absent. It is the tandem of the mind and ego to create endless melodramas to experience negative emotions, and such things serve as distractions from the Bliss that is always already present.

D. R. Butler said...

Marga, yes, that word, "vairagya" is one that the Guru referred to often. The translation is 'dispassion,' yet the English word does not contain the same depth as 'vairagya.' It is a state that has confused many people, because they worry that they are not so worried about things, and even that they are not as interested in certain things. This loss of interest and concern is a great freedom that allows the inner Self, expressing in and as us, to enjoy this life much more fully.

Anyway, this is the word that most accurately describes what you have been experiencing. It is a good thing, not a bad thing.

D. R. Butler said...

Going back over the comments in this thread, I realized I had not responded to one by 'Anonymous,' who wrote:

"The truth that is staring me in the face is the alarming realization that I am a loser, particularly financially. Fortunately, I am on the right lesson that I can keep my sense of humor about this but I really need to change. Any suggestions?"

Yes, two suggestions. One, apply the principles outlined in the lessons, for if they are actually applied, you will not describe yourself in such a limiting way.

Seeing yourself as a financial loser is using the same powerful principle, except you are using it against yourself instead of in a way you might prefer.

We have to realize how powerful our descriptions of ourselves are. They create our image of ourselves and ultimate the reality of our physical life. Therefore it is very important to think only of what we actually want and NEVER of what we don't want. If we think of what we don't want, we use the Creative Power of the Universe to create what we don't want. How out of control is that?

Describe yourself as you want to be. It might take some imagination and discipline, but at least you'd be doing the best you can possibly do.

Katie Lorah said...

Thanks for your response. I do sincerely wish to understand how things work and, as a member of this course, I would truly love for there to be a lesson on this topic, and/or a new blog entry.

I must admit that the grieving was process was not always enjoyable for me. I was only 22 when he passed and it has taken years to get where I am now. His death afforded me a great opportunity for inner growth, even if I didn't always recognize it as such. When it first happened I didn't really allow myself to grieve and consequently developed a fear that I would somehow forget him, the way he looked, the way he laughed. But now when I grieve he feels so close to me, and it only gets stronger.

Thank you.

Vicki said...

I had barely left  my property the other day when I encountered a gov't agent parked dangerously on a blind curve. When I stopped to speak to him he became angry, hostile and belligerent.  He threw his card in my window when I indicated I meant to write down his licence. I drove on, but I was shaken and frustrated at his repeated interruptions when I tried to speak civily.  I put on a chant and watched how quickly my mind left the drama behind, and  returned to a neutral state. As I drove the 30 miles into town I began to plan my phone call to his employer at the assessment office, and that got me thinking about the fellow and where he was coming from. No stranger to anger, I knew his day had probably already started badly before I met him, and I began to recall the teaching to not take it personally. He was an angry man, and I knew exactly how that felt.

I chatted for a half-hour with his employer, who eventually admitted that the fellow was known to get 'quite passionate' in office discussions, but never before with the public.  We actually had an interesting and fairly enjoyable  discussion about to deal with an angry employee. I told him I fully expected the guy to have a totally different perception of  the encounter,  coloured by anger, and that I could relate to that, and accept that he would hear a different story from mine.

Nevertheless, when the employer emailed me the next day to say he'd dealt with it, and to apologise for his employee, I got a little "passionate" myself when he outlined the excuses the man gave, and the blame he had heaped on me.  Again I dropped it, but it resurfaced while I was exercising, and my mind was just starting to recreate the drama when suddenly the word 'BLAME'  leaped up in front of all the other thoughts. It stopped my mind!  A moment later, the teachings about the benefits of receiving  blame flooded my being, and I began to laugh - and laugh - and laugh!  Long, deep laughter, from the belly, from the Heart!  A few minutes later, another bout of laughter would arise, then another, and another. When I told a friend about it later, she said, "That guy did you a favour."  Because nothing is ever as it appears to be.  Later that evening, I came across this in my lesson, " For our exercise these two weeks, let’s work on experiencing empathy. Instead of trying to convince another of the fundamental rightness of our own perspective, let’s focus all our energies on understanding his perspective, seeing life as he sees it. It is a great exercise for opening the heart." 

D. R. Butler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julian C. said...

Lorne, I was reading my earlier comment to you about the Ten Commandments. I would like to expand as follows: My own understanding of Old Testament law is that it sets guidelines for spiritual practice. The same could be said about any other set of "rules", including those set in the Koran or say, any given Christian denomination. Ultimately, what matters is the destination, not the map. You could also have your nose so buried in a map to the point where you don't even notice the journey. You might even pass by other travelers who are using another map, and say that they are using the "wrong" one. One can also be focused on a "destination" whereas perhaps we are already "there". That's why I believe that Love indeed does free us from "the curse". The Kingdom of God lies within.

Bob Sonnenberg said...

Thanks very much for your explanation of explaining in lesson 10. It has tied a lot of things together for me. I often find myself saying, you really don't need to explain that to me. I also find myself literally stopped in my tracks by a why or why do you want that to happen. You are right on about the boundaries that can create in a relationship.

Sukala C. Boyd said...

I love this focus on the subtle level of being. It feels so good. One way I experienced it was when a friend suddenly landed in hospital for a serious injury. Because I'm not family I wasn't allowed access for a few days. I decided that each time I thought of her I would fill that moment with love. As it happened, there were many such moments for the next few days. When I was able to see her yesterday, we were very close and altho I only had 10 minutes, it was perfect. I learned something about the reality of the subtle plane and how powerful and real the love is.

With love,
Sukala

D. R. Butler said...

I will answer everyone's questions here before I post the August entry, which could be soon.

Lorne asked a bundle of decent questions, including one about the origin of the 'first couple.'

For the life of me I cannot remember back that far. How do we even know it was a single couple? Maybe there were several couples, or couples-to-be, instead of one couple in particular starting everything.

Remember that our Course is 'Living in the Truth of the Present Moment.' Asking questions about the original couple is ultimately only curiosity regarding the past. Knowing the answer would not benefit our inner growth.

Lorne asks, 'Here goes: In Lesson 3 it says and I quote: "The Witness observes: 'This is happening; it's something that happens.' It has no description or judgment regarding it, no opinion about it, no like or dislike concerning it. There is the simple observation of what is….The ultimate goal of the soul is to experience the conscious realization that it is one with and the same as the infinite Being or universal Consciousness, which was never born and will never die, which projects the play of the cosmos upon it own screen of space and time."

Because of my past religious upbringing I have difficulty in understanding this first part where God has no judgment just observes, since God is Love how can He just observe all the difficult and cruel things that are going on in the world?'

Notice, Lorne, how you introduce the concepts of 'difficult' and 'cruel.' We know how things appear, in our own lives and in the lives of others we know, as well as a media that constantly describes the world for us, even offering visual images to make it seem really real.

I would think God's point of view would not be to describe the world of the individual in a negative and limiting way. Who wants an incompetent God who can't do the slightest things? He is capable of more than mediocrity.

We want a God that does everything. And this is what we've got. Relax and enjoy the show--there is 'fine drama' coming your way.

We don't have to 'do' anything except remain lighthearted and loving and appreciating the humor in the appearance of this world. You will find this easier and easier as you go along. In the physical realm in particular, such things 'take time.' Maintain a strong conviction regarding the conclusion, if you know that it is in the best interests of everyone involved to do so. This is dharma. Dharma is living for the whole rather than for the part.

phstiago5 said...

it would be nice if the sakti may use my blog-comments to assist any others! i have more questions than answers as i stroll thru life; i am a walking question. but when it comes to ram, i become silent. as the biblical prophet zephaniah 3:17 put it: "eternity, your source of power, is within you. it bonds upon you with merriment. IT SHUT UP IN GAZING LOVE. its shrieks for you, chanting". so, i merely drops hints to pay heed to this or that he has said. also, i have tried my goggle and my open id to communicate.

it was a great participation in the course that you offered to me by making me aware of the blog!

santiago

p.s. one of my favorite christian hymns is "as the deer", whose lyrics remind me of the bengali enraptures siddhas. it goes: "my soul longest after thee...you alone are my heart's desire... to you alone may my spirit yield".

Sukala C. Boyd said...

OK, speaking of the first couple, how's this for synchronicity? I just opened my email to my current course, Vol 2, Lesson 20. It's titled "Inner Growth through..." gulp -- of all things, "Relationships". Well, I'm really stoked by this new section of your course. And I congratulate myself for getting all the way here!!!!! That's commitment! I was just about to look for a best book on the subject. My enthusiasm doesn't mean, I've learned, that some contents in this lesson/section won't bug and annoy. But then course buddies, meditation and other subtle level things like dreams will help clarify. The process sometimes reminds me of boot camps I used to attend where the more you interacted with the team, the better it got.

With love,
Sukala

Michael said...

I'd like to share a few experiences about how the principle of Creative Thought espoused in the Course of Training have brought about a series of highly desirable consequences in my life.

Three years ago I began visualizing the feeling of gratitude and wonder I would have if I had a person who would help me with organizing and planning in my job as Director of Music for a catholic church in Greenville, NC. I steadfastly maintained the feeling and early in 2010, a woman with three degrees in music AND her husband (two degrees in music) appeared and offered their services. Their assistance is monumental and constant.

Two years ago I applied the same principle to getting more people in my choir. This year the choir grew from 20 to 37.

This year I visualized a strong tenor. I felt intense gratitude, knowing that he would arrive at the perfect time, without knowing how. Last Sunday a young couple approached me after Mass with their two young boys. They were both attractive, with bright smiles, and a musical aura. They explained they had just moved from Pennsylvania five days before and were impressed with the music ministry and wanted to join the choir. Jessica has a Masters in Voice Performance, has served as a choir director and accompanist, and Chris put in two years of study in voice. Guess what - he's a tenor.