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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Love does not require sacrifice

As human beings we are very confused believing that love requires sacrifice. This may be true of conditional love of the ego but it is not true of the unconditional love of God.

What is not love is fear and the ego relishes fear. It is written in A Course In Miracles, "You believe it is possible to be host to the ego or hostage to God.”

More specifically it is written, “Your confusion of sacrifice and love is so profound that you cannot conceive of love without sacrifice. And it is this you must look upon; sacrifice is attack, not love. If you would accept but this one idea, your fear of love would vanish.” T-15.X.5:8-10

And so we fear the Love of God because we believe that God’s love demands the ultimate sacrifice, the loss of our ego whether through enlightenment or death.As human beings we are very confused believing that love requires sacrifice. This may be true of conditional love of the ego but it is not true of the unconditional love of God.

What is not love is fear and the ego relishes fear. It is written in A Course In Miracles, "You believe it is possible to be host to the ego or hostage to God.”

More specifically it is written, “Your confusion of sacrifice and love is so profound that you cannot conceive of love without sacrifice. And it is this you must look upon; sacrifice is attack, not love. If you would accept but this one idea, your fear of love would vanish.” T-15.X.5:8-10

And so we fear the Love of God because we believe that God’s love demands the ultimate sacrifice, the loss of our ego whether through enlightenment or death. Our willfulness, our belief that we can be the author of our own existence, keeps us from peace and joy.

Heather's mother, Joanne, told Heather repeatedly in so many words, "I'll love you if you get good grades, do your chores, keep your room clean, and stop fighting with your brother." Heather craved her mother's love and so felt guilty when she didn't please her mother. It seemed her mother always wanted something and whatever Heather did was not good enough.

Heather's older brother, Michael, told her, "Mom is a bottomless pit. Nothing you do will ever be good enough for her. Mom reminds me of the joke about the little girl who asked her mother why it was raining and the mother said, 'Because God is crying.' and when the little girl asked her mother why God was crying, the mother said, 'Probably because of something you did.'"

Heather didn't laugh much. She said, "Is God like mom?"

Michael said, "That's what they say. That's why I don't believe in God. What kind of God would want His son to suffer and die on a cross to appease His disappointment with His creations' mistakes? Why did He create them that way to begin with? The whole story seems screwed up to me."

"I don't believe in a God like mom," said Heather. "That would be a hell."

Michael said, "My God loves us unconditionally just the way we are. We having nothing to fear from my God."

Heather said, "I like your God. Can I believe in Him too?"

Michael said, "Yes, of course. It's up to you."

"Is there a church that believes in your God," asked Heather.

"No," said Michael, "but you can read about Him in a book called A Course In Miracles when you get older."

"I love you, Michael," said Heather.

"I love you too, Heather," said Michael, "no matter what."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

We are not our bodies.


People are not bodies. They are so much more. When we are preoccupied with the body we miss the divine spark within each of us. This is the teaching of A Course In Miracles.

And yet, we live in a society very preoccupied with the body. Advertisements bombard us with how to make the body look better, smell better, move better, operate in a healthier way. In this preoccupation with the physical, we overlook the spiritual, the divine spark which is hidden in each of us.

It is written in A Course In Miracles, "Limit your sight of a brother to his body, which you will do as long as you would not release him from it, and you have denied his gift to you." T-15.IX.4:4

John told me that he and his wife Judy rarely had sex anymore because Judy had gained weight after the last child, over 50 lbs. and Judy now weighed over 200 lbs. at 5'6".

"She's a good mom and a good wife, but I find her disgusting to look at and just can't get it up. I've told her she needs to lose weight and all she says to me is, 'I know. I'm trying.' But then no change. This has been going on for 2 years now. We were coasting until she found me looking at pornography and now she says she wants a divorce. Maybe it's for the best, but I don't really want to lose my family."

My heart went out to John but it seemed to me that he has a spiritual problem not a psychological problem. I wondered how I could help him. It seemed that John's values were out of wack. He is more influenced by his physical responses than by his spiritual understandings. I asked, "Do you like Judy as a person? Do you have fun with her doing things? Without friendship, there will be a terrible loneliness in your marriage."

John looked pensive and said, "I might have taken our marriage for granted and we were just going through the motions. Are you saying that I should focus more on enjoying doing things with her and overlooking her physical appearance?"

I replied, "How does that strike you?"

John said, "Like the right thing to do. If I did that I might be happier."

"Focus on the divine spark in Judy and let the rest go and see what happens," I suggested.

John said we would call if he wanted to talk again. When I heard from John a year later he told me that he and Judy were still together, happier than ever, and her weight no longer mattered to him. The funniest thing he said was that now that her weight no longer mattered to him she had lost 30 lbs.

And what is the moral of the story? Leave a comment, will you?

Monday, August 7, 2017

From whence comes joy and peace?

The Dali Lama when asked what the purpose of life is replied "happiness." Good answer but it begs the deeper question, "What will make me happy?"

A Course In Miracles gives the answer over and over again in its text. In section VIII of of chapter 15 in paragraph 2 it is written: "Hear Him gladly, and learn of Him that you have need of no special relationships at all. You seek in them what you have thrown away. And through them you will never learn the value of what you have cast aside, but still desire it with all you heart."

Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37  "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."

What we crave, deep down, is the oneness with God's creation of which we are a part. As is taught in 12 step problems in step one, we recognize and acknowledge that our lives are unmanageable, in step two that there is a power greater than ourselves that can restore us to sanity, and in step three we make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to our Higher Power as we understand it.


In the Christian prayer, the Our Father, we pray, "...Thy will we done on earth as it is in heaven." What do we understand God's will for us to be? This understanding is the benefit of discernment. We live our lives in open hearted ways forgiving our trespasses as we forgive others their trespasses against us. This is the path path to a happiness better named joy and peace.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Our dramas of suffering and sacrifice create our own hell

Andrea was insecure and this is what Greg loved about her. Greg believed that Andrea would love him because he could take care of her and make her feel safe. As Andrea felt more secure and confident, Greg became increasingly anxious and depressed. Greg went to see his doctor who told him he was suffering from depression and gave him antidepressant medication. The medication helped a little bit, but Greg still felt "off" as Andrea seemed to be doing well and didn't need him anymore.

Greg's doctor told him his neurotransmitters were not working properly and were flooded with Serotonin. Whatever the cause, Greg was not feeling much better and decided to see a psychotherapist. The therapist asked Greg after a few meetings if Greg thought that maybe he was suffering from a spiritual problem? Greg responded that he had no idea what the therapist was asking him. What kind of a spiritual problem could it be?

The therapist offered the idea that Greg was dealing with a sense of shame, a sense of innate defectiveness and inadequacy which he tried to overcome by taking care of, what Greg called "love", people so that they would love him back.

Greg acknowledged that this unconscious dynamic may be at play. The therapist then asked Greg where he thought this sense of inadequacy and defectiveness had come from? Greg said he had felt this way since he was a child and his mom and dad divorced when he was three and he missed his father and his mother started drinking and leaving him with a sitter to go out with other men. Greg said that he always wished his mom and dad loved him more and were there for him. He found that by being very good and trying to be helpful seemed to make his mom and dad like him better. Greg said that maybe his whole life was based on a belief that if he was nice to people they would like him so he has striven his whole life to be what his best friend called "being a people pleaser."

The therapist suggested that his whole life has been based on this belief that he is inadequate and defective in some way and that he would be all alone unless he was able to take care of and please other people. The therapist asked if this was the basis of his "love" for Andrea? Now that she was more secure and confident rather than being happy for her, Greg was getting fearful and depressed believing that Andrea wouldn't need him any more and leave him?

Greg started to cry and said, "I'm really messed up, aren't I?"

The therapist said, "Not at all. You are perfect just the way you are, you're just learning that Life wants you to be happy and have a high quality life just because you are alive and part of this wonderful universe."

Greg smiled and said, "Thank you."

The spiritual problem is one of shame which is the innate belief and feeling that we are inadequate and defective in some way. Further we think that it is only a matter or time and circumstances before this supposed fact comes to light and we are found out to be the shameful creatures which we believe we are. As Christians tell us we all our sinners if not for what we have done, at least because of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden for which Jesus died on the cross to assuage the anger of the Father God who is mad about our disobedience.

This belief in our sinful natures which requires sacrifice and suffering for exoneration and redemption is the Great Lie of the ego. The spiritual fact is that God loves us unconditionally and it is we, humans, who create our own guilt and hell because we have separated ourselves from the unconditional love of God by our willfulness and drama.

If we could overcome and rise above our own drama, we could create heaven on earth. Greg has created his own hell believing that he is unworthy and can only be whole if he sacrifices and suffers, what he calls "love.". Nothing could be further from the Truth and it is Greg's false spiritual belief which has placed him in his own hell. Heaven, however, is within his grasp once he realizes that he is okay and will be okay just the way he is. He is loved by his Creator.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

"Special relationships" is the mistaken belief that someone else can make you happy.

Do you think that loving another and being loved by another will make you happy? If so, you are sadly mistaken. The "give to get" dynamic underneath most relationships is the path to anger, resentment and shame. No other person can make you happy. If you believe this and act on this, you give your power away.

Ashley believed that she really loved Joshua and Joshua believed that he really loved Ashley but then Josh became concerned that Ashley might also like, if not love, Bradley. Josh asked Ashley about this, more like he accused her, and she denied it and the more Josh pressured with 20 questions the more angry and resentful Ashley got and started to believe that maybe Josh really didn't love her, he was only possessive and jealous. 

Ashley finally broke up with Josh because she couldn't deal with his jealousy, possessiveness, and accusations which made her doubt herself and her lovability. Ashley's therapist said that Josh seemed insecure and Ashley certainly agreed but it did not make her feel more secure and loving in the relationship with Josh. Both Ashley and Josh broke up bitter, demoralized, and depressed each blaming the other for the failure of their relationship.

What went wrong? The mistake was the romantic belief that the job of the other was to make him/her happy. When the other person seemed to fail in that expectation, there was no further purpose of the relationship other than to learn an important life lesson: that no other person can make you happy. He/she can't make him/herself happy. How could (s)he possibly take on the responsibility to make another person happy?

Jesus tells us that we should love God first in Matthew 22:37-38

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Could it be that Josh was jealous that Ashley loved God first rather than him and he, unconsciously, became enraged. Could it be that Ashley was not willing to alter her priorities in life and put Josh first?

"Special relationships" are the path to hell unless we turn them over to our Higher Power. The disciples ask Jesus about people who have two or more spouses on earth which will be your partner in heaven and Jesus answers in Matthew 22:30 "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven."

And so we are back, once again, to the distinction between conditional and unconditional love. As we grow and develop and mature we are called increasingly to unconditional love which is how our Higher Power, the Spirit of Life loves us.

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Monday, July 31, 2017

What kind of life do you want?

Do you think that our fear of scarcity leads to most human problems? The dynamic created is the win/lose dichotomy. If I win that means you must lose and vice versa. This is the basis for all competition and war. This is the opposite of peace. If we are to ever achieve peace we must operate on an abundance/completion dynamic. Sharing and generosity is the path to peace and joy.

God is a sharer who desires and creates for completion. This is the basis of the spiritual life. Scarcity, competition, and war is the basis of a egotistical life. Which would you have?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fears and conditional love

Why am I so unhappy in my love life? My wife and I have been married 14 years and we have two kids. I don't think I love her any more but if I leave her she will be devastated and I'm worried about how all this would affect the kids. I have grown increasingly depressed. I find myself drinking more and looking at other women in a lustful way which I know is wrong. What should I do?

This is a very common situation and we live in a society which tends to psychologize these situations instead of seeing them as opportunities for spiritual growth.

Most people don't know what love is. They describe it as a feeling of euphoria which often is transient because the infatuation, the honeymoon, can't last forever. The failure to understand love at a deeper level leaves them confused and depressed.

As has been described earlier, at a broad level, there is two kinds of love:conditional and unconditional. On the ego plane, we believe in conditional love, "I'll love you if...." People think they need to earn love, or merit it. This kind of conditional love is not really love because what we deeply crave is unconditional love which is , "The worst about me is known and I am loved any way."

Our society believes in a God who loves His creatures conditionally. The bible is full of such stories of a judgmental God who exercises His wrath at sinful humans and yet Jesus, in the New Testament, presents us with a different God like the story of the prodigal son and the adulterous woman who loves us unconditionally.

Two definitions of love that are best are : to know the worst about someone and love them anyway. It's rare but sometimes we run across it most often between a parent and a child. The second definition is to care as much about a partner's growth and development as you do about your own, and to expend the effort to nurture, encourage, facilitate that growth and development.

Most problems in our human relationships are based on fear. We are terrified of being hurt, disappointed, betrayed, rejected, abandoned, attacked and so we think and behave in ways to defend ourselves and attack what we believe are the signs of that of which we are afraid. If we are aware enough, we recognize that the very things we think we see in the other that engender our fears is present in ourselves. This self recrimination and self loathing then gets projected onto the other with a vengeance.

It is not only important, but essential, for a person to be loving for the person to know that he/she is loved unconditionally by his/her maker, the universe, life. As Jesus tells us repeatedly, God not only loves us but loves us abundantly. When we know this, we can share that love generously with others. If we don't know that, then, yes, we can feel out of love because we have put ourselves there.

If we feel "out of love" it is important to find ways to take better care of ourselves so that we can feel more satisfied and fulfilled in our lives. With that satisfaction and fulfillment comes a generosity that engenders the ability to create unconditional love in our relationships.