Being the perfectionist, I am, I was once told by a former manager, “there is the real and the ideal.” I, of course, always strove for the ideal only to have to lower my standards a notch to the real. The real meant what was realistic to achieve.
As we study A Course in Miracles, we are told that the real is the ideal and that what we think is real is a false representation of the truth. Yet as we live our daily lives, it is anything but ideal.
Right now, we are living with a pandemic and our emotions run all over the place from fear to sadness to a sense of acceptance and hopefully moments of piece in our new normal.
As we learn more about the mind and how it operates and makes decisions, we see that when we listen to the Holy Spirit, trusting in the Right Mind, we will experience more of the happy dream closer to that place beyond illusion and touching the peaceful place in our hearts.
When we listen to our wrong mind, the Ego, we will experience the pain of the world in front of us that often seems hopeless and uncertain.
That is why we come together in our groups and our private study to reinforce a more ideal existence that tells us everything is really ok.
We have been looking at all of our feelings and emotions that come up in life. We recognize that we can’t do this life alone and that we need a source of help and guidance. We all need an inner guru. That inner guru helps us to be in touch with an absolute reality, one that is closest to a spiritual truth that offers solace and peace and that helps us in the process of forgiveness and healing. But while we attempt to stay on board with this absolute reality, there is a relative existence happening where our bodies and our individual persons and identities also exist and that existence is relative. So, we have the absolute truth and relative experience that clouds a perfect peace. The inner guru can help us with both, but sometimes we need outside help in the form of therapy, coaching or the benefit of a really good listener.
I have been reflecting lots on listening. Listening is an art. It is a skill and it is very difficult to listen when we listen with the wrong mind. When you tap into the Holy Spirit, you become the best kind of listener. The Holy Spirit can guide you when you are by yourself and also when you are in relationship with another who needs your help. Remember, you are most helpful when you listen with the Right Mind.
We have been reading and finally finished The Function of Reason (Ch. 21, Section V.) In this section we learn that reason is the Holy Spirit’s correction for madness and error. Reason is sanity. The opposite of reason is insanity. This section also deals with the topic of absolute reality, which needs no cooperation from you to be itself. But your awareness of it needs your help, because it is your choice. It is so important to remember that you are the decision maker, the one who chooses how you want to see the world. We do have preferences and attachments and so our faith and trust in an absolute reality can waver. The Holy Spirit is always there for you. Within you Is the absolute truth. You don’t need to know, you just need to ask.
This section ends with Faith and belief, upheld by reason, cannot fail to lead to changed perception. And in this change is room made way for vision. Vision extends beyond itself, as does the purpose that it serves, and all the means for its accomplishment.
You are perfectly sane and your perceptions reflect that when you can see beyond the uncertainty to a trust and belief in the Holy Spirit-your inner guru’s guidance.
This is a tough time and very difficult to ease up on our defenses as we experience that underlying wave of anxiety and fear. We feel a need to pick a side and be right about it, hoping that side may offer safety and security along our way. We think we are right regardless of what side we are on, how we adhere to the rules, and what choices we make. Now we judge accordingly, and this makes our relationships more threatened and separate.
It is essential to realize that all of this comes from the ego. The ego is our teacher for defining our projections. The ego is that part of us so separate from absolute love -the non-dual presence of God’s mind via the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit never sees itself as a separate entity. The Holy Spirit is the only entity within the mind that is closest to reality. It is there in our Right Mind that we can find meaning, yet that definition competes with what seems to feel stronger-that part of us that fits with the world.
The only way we can find peace instead of the inner conflict and turmoil is to go with a fully open mind and open hands to the Holy Spirit and ask for help. Focus on your breath and listen. Ask to feel and then extend a loving presence that is healing. But for us to be open to listening to what we hear from that still, small, most powerful Voice is to let go of everything we know about anything-as if we are an alien appearing here for the first time with a sense of wonder and curiosity, knowing that when we landed, we have a very wise guide to help us to navigate this world.
Love is letting go of fear-such a beautiful lesson. How do we truly experience this? By practicing forgiveness and we do that by surrendering and relaxing in the soft presence of something greater than our small self. For most of us, this takes discipline and a practice of meditation.
The more you meditate, the more you will respond from a place of peace. As you do the daily lessons, you will be guided to sit quietly for a period of time-a form of meditation.
We did a meditative reading of lesson 189-I feel the love of God within me now. It is in this lesson that we hear: Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of everything it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.
This lesson ends with a prayer that begins “ Father, we do not know the way to You. But we have called, and You have answered us. We will not interfere….”
You can meditate, pray and listen anywhere, anytime. Take a moment now…Ask for help.
As I said to this group, “ If I never teach another Course in Miracles group again, I feel what I have to say today is very important for all of us. I am the Queen of Spiritual Bypassing-using spirituality, its words, and meditations to escape my inner fears, feelings, and emotions.”
I then proceeded to speak more on this topic, perhaps awakening some and disappointing others.
The term was coined in the 80s by John Welwood, a prominent psychotherapist and author of works in transpersonal psychology. In his book, Toward a Psychology of Awakening, he defined spiritual bypassing as using “spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep personal, emotional, unfinished business to shore up a shaky sense of self, or to belittle basic needs, feelings, and developmental tasks.” He claimed the goal of such a practice was enlightenment.
Robert Augustus Master, who was once a cult leader and has since written about spiritual bypassing and spiritual materialism, defined spiritual bypassing as the use of spiritual beliefs to avoid dealing with painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs.
When life is full of uncertainty and threats to the world’s health physically, politically, economically, and emotionally, spiritual bypassing is very prominent yet not discussed or blatantly apparent.
Kenneth Wapnick used the term bliss ninny for those who do not want to look at the guilt we feel at the deepest level from our thought that we could separate from God, and at the level of the world, the guilt we have projected on ourselves and others that plays out in all of our relationships. Although we take our ego thoughts to the Holy Spirit where our mind can shift, it is not something that happens with words, or reading, or studying or even meditating. Healing does not occur with affirmations and convincing ourselves that what we see is just a dream or an illusion.
We are not to use spirituality in any form to cover up problems, but yet to see that the problem begins and ends in our mind. This means that we have lots of work to do to change our minds. It is best to admit our sadness, anger, and fear. Once we identify it, we can work on it. The Course offers the Holy Spirit as the ultimate source of healing, yet before we can think we are taking anything to the Holy Spirit, we have to admit that the answer may not be in a form that is satisfactory to us. We have preferences, expectations, and attachments that all come with a set of definitions and judgments to keep them in place.
We have to be willing to look at the ego and all of its judgments. If done correctly and with the goal of awakening, the Course in Miracles is the opposite of spiritual bypassing. The 365 days of lessons put us through daily work to look at the unconscious, remove the veil of forgetfulness, and uncover the ego thought system. Awareness is key before awakening.
We are not asked to avoid feelings but rather let negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions flow freely without judgment. We can look at them without beating ourselves up (or anyone else) and eventually undo these thoughts.
Our reading was – Ch 21, V. The Function of Reason. This section tells us that true reality does not need us to see it, but rather to have faith that there is a vision of reality guided by miracles. If you have faith in the ego and listen to its voice, you will “experience depression, a sense of worthlessness, and feelings of impermanence and unreality.” The other vision and other Voice will guide you to perceive yourself as healed. Faith is belief is something unbelievable, but faith placed in miracles is guaranteed to change your mind.
Now going back to spiritual bypassing, you can’t just read about it. You have to see how the ego operates and watch your mind for the choices it is making. What you see is what you believe and where your faith lies. Perception is a mirror and not a fact. If you perceive yourself as tiny, vulnerable, and afraid, you will see a world that is vulnerable and full of fear.
But this perception can change by admitting your choice and choosing the Holy Spirit to help you perceive differently. The Holy Spirit will guide you in the work and process of healing. Spiritual bypassing is avoiding the Holy Spirit and choosing the ego.
We are going through some tough times. We are all looking for answers to finding peace within a world that seems to be falling apart outside and a world that may be falling apart inside.
There is a sense of hopelessness and helplessness resonating from the voices striving to understand.
And then we turn to spirituality, hoping that a metaphysical explanation can bring us some peace. Yet, if we use spirituality to prevent us from feeling, this is simply a spiritual bypass.
In the world there are bodies, personalities, identities, and pride associated with all of this.
Getting rid of your attachment to your body and attempting to see beyond the physical aspects of other bodies is a lovely thought. But be honest. How possible is it for you to understand that deep and realize that in practical terms?
Be honest with yourself. Who are you, and what do you want? You say you want peace, but what we want is peace, defined by how we define it. Peace where everyone gets along or peace where people act the right way and avoid crime and evil. What is peace? What is a peaceful demonstration? What is everyone searching for?
The metaphysics make perfect sense that if we thought that we could separate from our creator and make up our world, sin would be real along with its guilt and shame. At least if we are going to make up a world, let’s make it a good one. By whose standards? Who tells us what a good world should look like?
So, then we feel stuck. Nothing we do will ever make it feel totally healed. So, what is the answer? The miracle, of course. We have an out. We can take all of our problems and questions and dilemmas and confusion to the Holy Spirit or Jesus or Buddha and get the ultimate answer.
Pray. Pray to see it another way. But whose way? And which way is the right way? Oh my! -Back to the Holy Spirit. “I think I have a preference for how I want the world to look and feel, and it’s not going my way. Back to the Holy Spirit-“ Help! I feel so attached to my loved ones, and I want everyone to be safe. I am afraid of a virus. I am afraid of demonstrations. I am afraid I will lose the world I thought I knew.”
What was I expecting my prayers to reveal? What I expected spirituality to give me has let me down. The world is no better just because I am praying. The world is no better just because I held up a sign of compassion. The world is no better because I made my point. The reason is when we thought we went to the Holy Spirit for help; we asked to help us keep our world the way we want to see it and not the way the Holy Spirit sees it with totally forgiven eyes.
To go beyond helplessness, there is hope in simply admitting all of the above. Admit your sadness, relax your shoulders, and take a deep breath. Accept your pain. Acknowledge your confusion. Relax. And here is where we can join. We are all in this together. You don’t have to be anything other than what you are. Deep down inside, we are all wounded. The guilt is universal, and once we see that, we can accept that we desire to wake up from it all, but that we don’t have to give up everything to get there.
We all start as children, and even though we are guaranteed peace as Children of God, we spend our time striving to have our needs met. First, our basic needs, and then as we mature and grow, if we are lucky enough to live in a thriving environment, we grow to have a broader and deeper need to belong. We have a self that feels its esteem and perhaps is recognized by others, and then when others are not enough or let us down, we think we are going higher into the realm of realization, where I am not a body. I am free. I am still as God created me. All true, but you still have to live here with others and get to know yourself. And then you begin to see that food and shelter come not from plants and animals and sticks, stones, and bricks but the very foundation of your being.
Our reading was Lesson 153. In my defenselessness my safety lies. This powerful lesson begins very dark, with a full description of how the world is a full circle of attack that needs constant defending.
You who feel threatened by its changing world, its twists of fortune and its bitter jests, its brief relationships and all the “gifts” it merely lends to take away again; attend this lesson well. The world provides no safety. It is rooted in attack, and all its “gifts” of seeming safety are illusory deceptions. It attacks, and then attacks again. No peace of mind is possible where danger threatens thus.
Continuing the lesson, we get a picture of why the world is such a mess. But hang in there. There is hope in our strength, and our power is in our defenselessness.
It is important to note that this does not mean you would allow a stranger to break into your home, harm your family, or hurt your business. What you do behaviorally will follow common sense, but what you do with your mind is most important.
You act, however, after you have taken your desire for healing to the Holy Spirit. Our actions will reflect the desire for universal healing. You will be less sad, anxious, and defensive. You will listen more and talk less. When you open your mind to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, you will join with your brother or sister;) instead of separating.
A beautiful section of this lesson brings us to relax:
Be still a moment, and in silence think how holy is your purpose, how secure you rest, untouchable with its light…It is the function of God’s ministers to help their brothers choose as they have done.
I encourage you to stay with your daily lessons even if you don’t get them; even if you don’t like them; even if they challenge your ego. Each lesson is a lesson taking you closer to mindfulness and away from mindlessness. And in mindfulness, you will let go of judgement, guilt and fear of what you see. You will rest in forgiveness of yourself and then others.