POSTCARD #113: New Delhi: Carrying stuff upstairs, laptop under arm with notepad, phone in pocket, pen held in teeth, water bottle neck clasped between first and third fingers. Pause at the top of the stairs to turn the door handle (how much better it would be if we had three hands), it opens by practiced handle-lever push with thumb, and timed shoulder-shove. Out into the bright daylight of the roof terrace, carrying everything to the table, and unload piece by piece.
Bring the chair over and sit… now maybe I can relax for a bit in this warm spring-like weather. But the voices start up again as if they’ve been waiting off-stage for their big entry: What’s with all this control-freakery? Why try to do everything at once? Leaving on Saturday 28th night, red-eye flight to Bangkok, change for the Chiang Mai flight and arrive there early Sunday morning on 1st March. I know it’ll be hot in Chiang Mai and as we get nearer to April, hotter still. Then 1st May to UK because I have to get a new passport (no pages left), and two weeks later, back to Thailand on a tourist visa. One week later, the return to Delhi before my India visa runs out… and I need to have that renewed too. Then, to crown it all, it’ll be impossibly hot by the time I get back here, temperatures reaching their peak, 46°C.
Intrusive thinking about ticketing, schedules, filling in forms; uninvited thoughts gate-crash the party, insist on getting attention and shouting out: What’ll happen if the flight from Delhi doesn’t arrive in Bangkok on time, and I miss the flight to Ch’Mai? Noisy internal dialogues about the whole itinerary – I need to ease out from this clamour of conjured-up scenarios, imponderables and enigmas – searching for something creates the idea that it is lost. Delete the ‘my’ in my-self. They’re not ‘my’ thoughts; they belong to everyone – the generosity of letting go. None of it is ‘mine’, I don’t think these thoughts, these thoughts think me. I don’t breathe the air – the air breathes me. Cognitive functions synchronize things so the world appears the way it does. I don’t see the world; the brain selects what is seen. Sounds are heard, but there’s no listener. The ear is a musical instrument. The body is a sensory-acoustic device that plays an immense chord of vibrating harmonics at 432 Hz, the natural frequency of the universe.
Mind contemplating the experience of ‘me’ seated on the chair; aware of the pressure points where legs touch the seat, bearing the weight, arms on armrests, and everything else is empty space, just this invisibility. I’m not aware of the mass of internal organs… slightly unnerving; get up and walk around. Feet appear down below on floor surface: left, right, left, right. The roof-terrace enters my vision, floor, wall, the plants – objects seem to pass through the body. Meanwhile, far away over endless horizons, another place begins to stir with aliveness; this time on Sunday I’ll be ‘there’ in Ch’Mai – or Ch’Mai will be here in ‘me’….
“And men go abroad to wonder at the heights of the mountains, and the mighty waves of the sea, and the wide sweep of rivers, and the circuit of the ocean, and the revolution of the stars, but themselves they consider not.”
I love the quote from St Augustine. It illustrates perfectly the marvels that await within. Yet as you say, we tend to experience the world only as it plays across the screen of the senses.
Thanks for the photo Sue, is that you and the small dog on the beach? The photo has this strange effect on me… remembering something that happened a long time ago further up that coast…
No.. I was the one with the camera on top of St Rule’s tower… though perhaps we were there in spirit.
It is a rather special place that bit of the coast.
Yes, I remember you saying – a funny coincidence, considering how the image of the lady with the dog is so much part of your blog: Daily Echo
Yes… Ani is, as a friend neatly put it, my inner mischief in corporeal form. 🙂
So nice to travel with you around these mysterious old buildings, stained glass windows, and meanwhile at home, Ani is waiting with her yellow ball 🙂
Ani goes off to stay with my step son and his dogs when I’m away… and has a ball… but the ball is her first gift to me soon as we are home. Or at least, the physical manifestation of that gift.
Reminds me of the dog we’d have come stay when her owners were away, Kiki a black cocker spaniel.
She does look a lot like a long legged spaniel..but she’s all setter at heart 🙂
“Then, to crown it all, it’ll be impossibly hot by the time I get back here, temperatures reaching their peak, 46°C.”
Funny how the mind is already done with the trip before it even started, huh?
This is it… as James Taylor said, ‘I’m going to Carolina in my mind.’ The whole thing is convincingly imagined to a greater/lesser degree before it happens 🙂
Lovely, Tiramit. Yours are called “postcards” and mine, “reminders,” but they are similar in intent, I feel: to reflect on a moment in life from the nondual perspective. Thank you.
Thank you Amrita, yes postcards and reminders, moments of nonduality developed from notes scribbled in the flow of conscious experience…
A further generous gift, for which thanks. 🙂
Generosity of letting go – we’re all on the path
Thoughts without a thinker 🙂
Yes, thanks for the reminder: ‘Thoughts Without A Thinker.’ A book I read a long time ago, by Mark Epstein; psychotherapy from a Buddhist perspective…
Your posts are always sublime in their easy detachment. “The air breathes me.” Like your formatting as well with the diverse quotes at the end. Nicely done.
Thanks Gary, observations noted down in the moment and minimalized to remove all unnecessary words, a bit like text messaging 🙂 Sometimes it’s the quote that inspires the text, or the photo…
Is doing everything at once necessarily control freakery?
Is it not possible to dance without volition?
BTW, Augustine had some great lines didn’t he?
What’s more, he served as his own straight man.
Thanks for your comment about control freakery and dancing without volition – without the ‘self’ that’s driven to be in control. Yeh, good, sometimes I get caught up in trying to hold it all together when I have these complex schedules to sort out… the calm and knowingness goes out the window for a while. Things settle down again of course. Since writing the post I’ve decided the original itinerary is no good, so I’ll do the UK leg after I come back from Thailand then apply for a new PP in Delhi when I get back.
Thanks too for the St Augustine brainyquote link: “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.” Wow, doesn’t sound like the 4th Century theologian I thought he was. Another one I like: “Don’t you believe that there is in man a deep so profound as to be hidden even to him in whom it is?”
Augustine could be light and heavy at the same time.
I think the brainyquote I link to was an expression of his journey from Manichean hedonism to Christian asceticism following the death of his Christian convert mother. I’m not sure he believed he could ever complete the transition.
Interesting, I found the reference to the ‘chastity and continence’ quote in the Wikipedia entry; it was when he was a young man. I’ll look further into Augustine now you’ve got my attention, thanks.
Nah, I’d trust Wikipedia on this.
It’s been over twenty years since I went on my Augustine binge and I probably misremember lots of stuff. Mind you, I revised some of it about two years ago for this post so I guess that excuse is pretty shabby really.
Thanks, yes, just been over to your post: ‘aleister and augustine on morality through love’ (your link above). I’ve got a copy of Confessions on a bookshelf somewhere, here or there… I’m going to have another look at that.
One of your gifts is to bring the reader there with you. I can see it all. Your rooftop sounds like a wonderful oasis. Seems like a lot of traveling. I thought you could get passports renewed at embassies in the country you are in. Love the St. Augustine quote. Not being much of a traveler I see the virtue of considering the awesomeness right under our noses. Good luck with all. Sympathize with dreading the heat and it does not leven get that hot in NYC but with all the concrete, it bakes. Right now a balmy 20 something degrees F. We have been having single digits.
So nice to hear you from Ellen, there’s something about looking at the process of moment by moment of awareness in detail like this that makes it a shared experience. We are all the same… ‘the awesomeness right under our noses.’ I can put it in this context too, and now I’m in Chiang Mai. Cool in the mornings, fresh mountain air, sunny and bright. You’re right about renewing pp in the country you are in. Jiab suggested I change my travel plans and renew at the Delhi embassy. So much easier, but it’ll take 8 weeks and that’s maybe a problem because I’m on the move – need to look at the options. Wow, ‘a balmy 20 something degrees F’ we live in different worlds.
Glad it is lovely in Chiang Mai. Just listened to Mooji on living as the Self means living spontaneously. Over planning, as I do, in response to anxiety, is the “person/ego self.” All the “what ifs” are a form of torture from the mind. He says life will unfold naturally around what one has to do in life to get from here to there when we live as the Self. I can’t get the reference right now on my phone but can get it to you. He is doing open Satsangs 5 days a week in Rijikesh for most of March. But I am sure you know all this anyhow.
Thanks Ellen and yes I’d like to have the reference, when you can. You mean Rijikesh in India? I heard he was there and I would have had an opportunity to go and participate. Anyway, I’m in Chiang Mai and it’s morning here, birds in the treetops outside my apartment window on third floor. Life unfolds naturally around one’s activities as Mooji says, my feeling is it’s often seen in hindsight, not immediately aware of it in the here-and-now. Could be that the benefit from this teaching is accumulative, just noting the insights as they arise…
Yes, Mooji is in Rishikesh, India for almost all of March doing open Satsangs five days a week. Has been there since Feb. The link to the satsang I was referring to is:
It is quite long. A shorter one and one of my favorites is:
Hope you can get the links and enjoy, Ellen
Thanks Ellen for these two video links. I started watching the longer of the two early this morning but had to stop because my niece M arrived – I’m taking care until the weekend. I’ll be in touch then…
Just a note to say thanks Ellen for posting the two Mooji videos, I watched them both. More than two hours … I lost track of time. I’m impressed with his energy and motivation; so much to say and he hardly ever repeats himself. I can understand what this is about but only have glimpses of the actuality. Most of the people asking questions seem to be at that stage of seeking, the place where I’m at. It’s a curious experience, you feel like you’re actually there seated in the audience – in a sense we are…
So glad you were able to watch Mooji. He is very giving and goes to where each questioner is at. Lots of loving energy. I have been watching these almost daily since September last year and just getting a glimmer of experiencing Presence– not a new feeling but seen in a different context. Philip Newell, the minister from Scotland I quoted in a post, actually brought Mooji into better focus for me. Have also done a retreat with Mooji in real time online and it was great. But these satsangs from Rishikesh are all wonderful. I think he likes it there. Going to send you one more link tomorrow– writing from the phone right now and can’t get it. There have been a couple when he has brought people into the Awakening. Love him.
I heard of Mooji but never got into him much. But recently have viewed some of his videos. I really like him! He was actually doing Satsang 10 minutes from my home at a casual friends house last year…and I didn’t go because I didn’t know much about him. Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be I guess. But I hope he comes back again 🙂 This is the link to where he was. http://onecircle.net/onecircle/index.php
I am so lucky to have this so close to me. For years I took it for granted it didn’t go any events. Rupert Spira has been there too!
My bad, the last time Mooji was here was 2008. Man time flies. Either way I missed him. I kind of took a break from the seeking for a few years and that was when Rupert and Mooji were here.
Well, I missed him too, in Rishikesh India and only 150 miles away. There’s something about Presence as Ellen says above. Another opportunity will arise if that’s how it turns out…
Here is the link to the other I liked so much. Three seekers in a row with excellent questions and answers, at least for me, about being overwhelmed with emotions, etc. that take over the Self. Here it is:
And if you look on Mooji.org and click on videos you can get all the ones in Rishikesh and other places as well and can click in to see them in real time if like under “live video” and see other options available.
Yesterday was a Mooji day, the video was there and I was dipping into it between discussions with M about things in the world. The Indian man who could ‘intellectualise’ but couldn’t see it and gently insisted on advice… Mooji was so patient with him, never hesitated for a moment. I think the message came through later on with other discussions. It’s really the same for me, I’m not able to experience it apart from a few glimpses arrived at through intellectual reasoning, maybe triggered by something else. Thanks for the links, we can look into this again as things go on…
Enjoyed this one very much. Reminded me of what it feels like to go into a workweek you know involves a lot of travel, and the necessity of things working as planned in order for everything to be accomplished. It creates a sense of anxiety, this forced reliance on things known to fail. The alternative is to just surrender to letting the chips fall. Letting the air breath us. (Loved that one, too!) Feel the chair, the sunlight, the presence in every footstep from here to there.
Our ability to forecast and envision the future, to understand the probable impacts of our actions and to understand the motivations of others all produce great gains for us. But also great concerns. Your post makes me wonder about giving up the prognostications. Would we lose nearly as much as we think? It seems there’s a way of relinquishing that results in a peaceful, abundantly well-tended journey…
Thanks Michael, it’s like this, letting the chips fall. So many variables, it turned out exactly right though and I arrived ok. Relinquishment – there’s karma and the rest of it is a kind of miracle (and by the way I’m getting more interested in ACIM), on-going mindful awareness, it’s what the software does. My feeling is, given that there’s uncertainty and that’s our fragility, living inside the parameters of sila, samdhi, punya gets you there…
There can’t be the concept of karma AND the concept of miracles. Not both. What may seem to be a miracle is only karma you don’t understand the root cause of. The law of cause and effect does not only work sometimes. We often, though, don’t have the wisdom to understand the ‘why’. If it karma that is affecting you greatly than it is important to work on understanding the truth that lies beneath. Only then do you the ability to change it.
Yes, I understand what you’re saying and you’re right about that: ‘There can’t be the concept of karma AND the concept of miracles.’ I just get blown away by miracles, most people do…
People, though, who, not understanding there are no miracles, because you can’t have a effect without a cause, they attribute those seemingly spontaneous happens as a gift from “God”. It keeps the myth going because they want so much to believe there is something in the universe that loves them and alternately gives them blessing and punishments. Life is so much easier when you think something else is at the controls and you are not responsible for the happenings in your life. There is often much time between the cause and the effect and people, not understanding the cause think the effect – the miracle – just appeared out of nowhere. Most of these people have never been exposed to an other alternative. It is all they know so it’s important to tread lightly and not offend their way of thinking.
That would seem to be untrue. There are several observed singularities in physics and many more theorised ones.
Examples of probable effects without cause include the tunneling of electrons and the atomic decay of radioisotopes.
Examples of probable causes without effects include the loss of mass and data when an object passes the event horizon of a black hole and the general loss of order and information due to entropy.
Sorry to say, you’re way over my head with that one. I have no science backround. I’m just a woman trying to make sense of her life, and make changes in my life that will produce better effects. I have studied human nature on a serious level for 27 years. I’d have to get my husband to translate. He’s the science guy in my family. I just look at the reality in my own life and the people around me. I look at how I respond to things in my life, and how I react to them is determined by the frame of mind I’m in. To make it simple, if I’m in a bad mood or if I’m in a happy mood and something happens, I will react to it differently depending on my life condition. Each reaction produces a different cause which in turn will get a different effect. Our split second reactions to somethings, even when we tell ourselves we won’t react that we again, we always do. We can’t stop ourselves. That part of human nature has the capacity to bring us much unhappiness and changing our nature is a very long and often painful process. Read my post http://watchandwhirl.com/2015/02/16/peeling-the-onion-and-i-dont-mean-food/
Oh, I left out the biggie. The Big Bang. According to contemporary cosmology the very existence of the universe – including time and therefore causality itself – is an effect without a cause.
The notion of cause and effect is predicated on inductive reasoning, which as David Hume and – more recently – Nassim Nicholas Taleb point out is notoriously unreliable.
Alan Watts offers a nice dissection of belief in cause and effect here.
This has the possibility of becoming a long conversation and we can take it in bits and pieces if you want. I read the article. When it comes to cause and effect he and I don’t see it the same way, which is okay. This isn’t about convincing each other about who is right and who is wrong. I want to pull out 2 different references.
“f you insist that your present is the result of your past, you are like a person driving your car looking always in the rearview mirror. You are not, as it were, open to the future, you are always looking back over your shoulder to find out what you ought to do. ”
Because I understand and see the effects of the causes I made in my life previously, it does not mean that I’m looking behind me to see what i should do. That’s absurd to me. The past is done. I look at what is in my present and then determine what to do to have the future I want, instead of letting life slap me around in a haphazard fashion. I can’t go back and change the thing I dids. But I learn from that and take the wisdom of that understanding to guide me into making better choices, causes, so they they have a better effect in my life in the future. If we don’t learn from the causes we made in the past we will continue to make those same mistakes. For example, a woman who has a relationship with a man she picked up in a bar. Turns out he is an alcoholic and he also physically abuses her. She gets away from him and goes on to attract the same kind of man again, repeats the cycle again and again. Until there is fundamental change inside of her an she will keep attracting the same man, even if she tries to move to another place she will carry her karma with her. Life is not something that happens by chance. Everything is laid down by the causes made. Unless, and many people do this, it is their choice, they believe that a supreme has their plan laid out and everything that happens is part of his plan for you. It’s easy that way to get of taking responsibility because you can always say it is the Lord’s will. I know why my life is the way it is. Those experiences, as I fought through them, made me who I am today. Some people fight through them and some people sweep them under the carpet.
second quote –
“And so, in this way, when we write history we find that writing history is really an art. The historian keeps putting a fresh interpretation on past events and in that sense he is changing it. He is changing their meaning. . . .”
This is exactly what has happened to the Bible. After hundreds of years of repeating stories that get changed a bit with every telling, just like what happens today when people tell stories from one person to another, like gossip, it takes on a new meaning and in thend it is nothing like it was in the beginning. One day, as people are learning how to actually write, these stories are written down, using the capacity of their understanding at the time being totally lacking that the world was even wrong, having absolutely idea of science, and timeline of events. Do you think these men passed these stories down exactly as they were first told – each one, each generation, and exact telling? I ‘d hardly think so.
Some people today still believe that every word that was written down by these human beings are the complete truth of God because, I guess, he must have entered the minds Of these men,told them what to write,and told them the story as if it were true. This King James version of the bible people read was written for him to put him on the same footing as the pope so he could divorce his wife.. This changed version is now also considered to be the truth.
Not only that, two beautiful WHITE (of course) human beings were born as full grown humans made out of clay and came magically to life with all the same insides and body parts exactly as we are right now, with full heads of flowing hair, living side by side with dinosaurs in a paradise called Eden, only 10,000 years ago. This what entities want history to be changed to and taught to children in school who will believe it because grown ups told them. Come on.. . . .We have a greater capacity of understanding these days and to continue to believe that is in the realm of idiocy. BUT, if you would take the essence of what is said in the stories that are told, the lessons, it is trying to teach you and you applied them to your life of a daily basis then you would be a better human – you would make better causes for your life – and because of that, would have better effects and probably better future and also be a lot happier. There are way too many Christians to day that don’t apply the lessons to their life and think it gives them the right to hate people who aren’t like them, hold up signs that says ,”God hates fags”. I’m not saying all Christians do this, but many use the Bible in ways that says, “God says this” “God says that” ” God Wants this” and so on, when God never said a darn thing, The concept of cause and effect never enters their mind, and they continue to blame others for their own unhappiness.
I think that maybe you are a Christian? I’m not saying that as a negative. Many of the same teaching in Christianity are also taught in Buddhism, except 1000 years earlier. Cause and effect is the basis in Buddhism. It makes who we are. . . .and from there goes into a much deeper discussion.
Thank you for posting the article.
No, I’ve never been a Christian.
Watts was raised Anglican and was an Episcopal minister for several years in the 1940s but he is best known for his elucidation of Zen for Western audiences in the 50s and 60s. It’s primarily the Zen tradition he is drawing upon for the article I linked to.
However your comment provides a good illustration of what he warns against.
Inductive (as opposed to deductive) logic is what you use whenever you generalise from specific cases. The classic example of its limitations is ‘the black swan effect’.
Up until the 17th Century Europeans had only ever seen swans that were white. So, via induction, it became accepted wisdom that all swans are white. Then European explorers reached Australia and sent back reports of black swans. People had been looking backwards and, seeing only white swans, invalidly extrapolated them into the indefinite future. They were driving with the rear-view mirror.
I assume that you looked back upon people you knew who had made similar arguments to mine and noted they were all Christian. So you extrapolated incorrectly that I would also be a Christian.
Belief in causality is based on the same inductive logic that gives us errors like these (as well as far more serious ones, such as superstition and racism).
People see it rain. Shortly afterwards they see puddles. So they induce that the rain caused the puddles. So far so good, as far as it goes.
People see lorikeets returning from yearly migration. Shortly afterwards the bottle-brush flowers bloom. So they induce the birds caused the flowers to bloom. Maybe not so good this time.
People perform sacrifices to the sun god during winter solstice. Shortly afterwards the days start getting longer. So the sacrifices caused the sun to come back. Not looking good here either.
There have been lots of serious blunders (and several good jokes) based in the tendency of people to attribute causality via inductive reasoning. In fact the whole notion of causality arises from induction. All Watts does in his article is point out the logical fallacy implicit in belief in causality and how such a belief ties people to their past (and their karma).
It may have been then, in the writing you posted that mentioned adam and Eve that made me think it was you who might be a Christian. SO. . . .your assumption ” They were driving with the rear-view mirror.
I assume that you looked back upon people you knew who had made similar arguments to mine and noted they were all Christian. So you extrapolated incorrectly that I would also be a Christian” was about as off-based as it could possibly be.
You really are stuck on that looking in the back mirror theory. I had already told you that it is no what has already happened that counts in your life. that is all ready done – finite – over. It is what you have learned from that experience so you use it to hopefully not make the make the same mistakes again or it will once again happen in the future. You are taking a relatively simple idea here and seem to want to twist it in knots. Here it is – real simple English. Make good causes and get good effects in your life. Bad causes will give you bad effects. In between as life happens to you, you have choices on how to react to it, each way making a different cause. It matters not a hoot if you look backwards into the mirrow – the past is done – it’s over. What did you learn. Are you happy with the way your life is/ Do the beliefs you have teach you how to be happy with your self and with yourself. If you are that’s great. There is more than one path to find happiness. If you aren’t happy and you don’t know why, examine how you treat your life. If you want to be happy and your aren’t. and if you don’t like the way life treats you then you have to look at the core values you have because something is wrong. I brought up Christianity because they are some of the most unhappy people I know, because they don’t know what to do when obstacles hit. All they can do is pray and hope a force out. there somewhere will change it it. That is the nuts and bolts of all I have to say to you because you have been all to arrogant in try to convince me that you are right and I am wrong so that stops any further conversation. You have become too esoteric in your explanations that go off in different directions in your explanations taking a simple idea and trying to make it complex. so we disagree in what we think the law of cause and effect is. you take what works for you – but it does not work for me – at all, so we will part friends and just agree to disagree.
Read a believe what Watts says and follow that. I choose to listen to Nichiren Daishonin, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Josei Toda, and Daisaku Ikeda say about it, because in the long run the proof is in the pudding, what kind of life you personally have, based on one’s own experiences wouldn’t you say? that is not an invitation for you to tell me of your accomplishments, because those “things” are not what I’m talking about. It what has changed about you? How have you changed? If the teachings you follow allow that change to be seen, then it becomes more than something you read in a book. If you change your life, and it is because you changed something in your life because of how you practiced that faith and because of what you learned, then you continue to practice it – it’s that pure and simple. What i have also learned is that you aren’t going to understand it intellectually – and that is what you are trying to do. Do the work, and change the way you respond to life and that will make the cause that will have better effect in your life. I know that 100% with absolutely no doubt. Stop trying to make it so complicated. You live in the world of “learning and realization” How and where have you put your book learning into effect that benefits other people? What kind of legacy are you going to leave behind when you die? Because only the effect we have on other people is the legacy that will make any difference
I find ACIM pretty interesting too, but for rather negative reasons.
ACIM is the culmination of Subproject 130 of the CIA mind control program MKULTRA. It’s part of the attempt to weaponise John Gittinger’s Personality Assessment System (PAS), primarily by the long standing CIA mind control researchers (and proteges of Gittinger) William Thetford and David Saunders. ACIM ‘scribe’ Helen Schucman was also on the CIA payroll (via the Cornell based front organisation The Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology) but probably didn’t know it until the Church Commission exposed MKULTRA and Congress shut it down. Afterwards she cut ties with Thetford and spent the last years of her life condemning ‘that book’ and calling ACIM ‘the worst thing that ever happened’ to her.
ACIM was probably only meant as a relatively short term experiment to test the viability of completely changing the world view of people who fell on the ‘Externaliser’ end of the PAS ‘Internaliser-Externaliser’ spectrum and on the ‘Regulated’ end of the ‘Regulated-Flexible’ scale. However when MKULTRA was exposed Thetford lost his jobs in academia and moved to Tiburon, California to do classified work at nearby Vandenberg Airbase. He brought several of his ACIM subjects with him and set up a kind of religious community which then propagated it through the West Coast New Age movement where it spread quickly (especially after Shirley MacLaine then Oprah Winfrey gave it ringing public endorsements).
But I guess the proof of the pudding isn’t in how it was cooked.
ACIM was supposedly dictated to Helen by Jesus Christ no less (MKULTRA employed covert administration of LSD and holosonic sound projection, so despite being Jewish Helen probably really believed she heard Jesus) but it’s really a combination of lay Christianity, New Age/New Thought positive psychology and neo-Advaita, with a liberal smattering of manipulative hooks designed to hold people who are Regulated Externalisers.
Naturally it’s not very internally consistent and though many of its proponents believe it to be non-dualistic it contains many dualistic elements, including a supreme benevolent creator God who has desires and attributes and ‘Satans’ or ‘Demiurges’ in the form of individual egos which are apparently responsible for everything wrong in the universe. Individual souls aren’t merely aspects of Nirguna Brahman as with Advaita but separately created entities which may purify themselves enough to eventually dwell with God but not realise their identity with Him.
Timothy Conway does a fairly extensive analysis of ACIM’s position vis-a-vis non-dualism here, though I disagree with one or two of his points.
How do I know all this?
My uncle converted to ACIM in a big way in the early 90s and sent me the three books. They’re pretty badly written with large sections in pompous iambic pentameter but I eventually got through them and thought ‘WTF’? I’ve only got BSc level psychology but it was hard not to notice some of the classic manipulation techniques it employed and at that time I found its butchering of non-dualism pretty offensive too (I’m not such a fundo these days). So I’ve spent the past 20 years on and off researching everything I could find out about it. So if you need references for any of the claims in this comment, just ask.
Wow, I’m amazed. Yes thanks, as always. I’ve got no reason to question your sources, knowing how well you research this kind of thing. So really I’m just kinda blown away… I suppose it was wishful thinking; recovering christian from the West, looking for some truths contained in the Advaita texts. One of the first posts I wrote was one titled Jesus and Advaita Vedanta, which you must have seen and were gracious enough not to comment on – naivety, uninformed.
I see what you’re saying with regards to all of the CIA involvement, can’t quite see exactly this thing about the “God” aspect – I’m still thinking it’s the non-dualist thing, same as the Advaita Vedanta’s ‘Brahman’. And okay the prose was a bit the style of the obvious and others might personify it as they do, but I was (still am) sure I’d be able to see it as the Theravadin cessation, same thing, only it requires a name in order to bring it into the equation, you know what I mean?
But I haven’t actually read ACIM or even started it yet. My way in was through ‘The Disappearance of the Universe’ by Gary R. Reynard (possibly foxy?). The title caught my eye, a quick look and yes, was prepared to go with it because they don’t use the Jesus word, just the initial J, with quite a good explanation why, and also I found some real deep sense of relief from heavy imposed christian (church) guilt conditioning through what they describe as (subjective) ‘forgiveness’. It was this that got me interested.
If this is also to be discredited as manipulation along with all the rest of the Churchianity control-freakery, it’s kinda bleak. But I’m not attached, thinking this too is ‘Suffering” caused by wishing things were other than what they are. The magnetic tendency towards clinging and reluctance to accept ‘emptiness’ – the consciousness that’s unknowable as things stand right now. Thus I’m back to honing skills as an aware human being – trying to do the both/and thing, keeping an eye open. So I’m glad to hear from you about this, thanks.
Reynard is certainly one of the most respected teachers of ACIM, but the belief system has fractured somewhat along the lines of the personalities of those who preach it and he and another prominent teacher, Robert Perry, have spent a fair amount of effort dissing each other in the past (true about 10-15 years ago, though they may have made up by now in the ACIM spirit of forgiveness).
A couple of things I must admit about my personal experience of ACIM.
1. It was instrumental in my life-changing experience of October 2012. What I was trying to achieve during my bout of mania phasing into psychosis was to find words to express my own ‘feelings/experiences’ of non-dualism to my uncle as a counter to what I think is its misrepresentation in ACIM. It was actually a pretty shabby attempt to impose my own thinking upon him and suddenly (and traumatically) realising that is what triggered the shattering of my own ego (since repaired, as you may have noticed). I speak of that in my blogpost The two truths.
2. I had dismissed the ACIM emphasis on forgiveness as it seemed to me to be dependent on judgement in the first place. It also seemed to fit a little too conveniently with the “you are no good/you are good” tone of ACIM, which is a powerful manipulation technique beloved of abusive bosses, spouses and parents. Following what happened that October I realised that I’d never really understood what forgiveness is and that ACIM made several valid points regarding its vital role in personal development and escaping from living in the past. I still disagree with some aspects of ACIM’s teachings on forgiveness and I think they’ve done some serious harm to my uncle but I’ve gotta admit they were way ahead of me there. So it’s not inconceivable there are other ACIM teachings I reject due to lack of insight or understanding.
I went over to read your post, it’s a real mind-bender. I’m about a third the way through ‘The Disappearance of the Universe’ and will probably go on with it. My entry point is non-dualism and I’d be interested to see what Reynard does with that, but I’ve already discovered the Buddhist way so that’s where I’ll get back to. Such a lot of reading to do and not much lifetime left… don’t know if I’ll go much further with ACIM, after hearing about the CIA background (acronym anagram). Curiosity, and wishful thinking maybe – I’m aware of that. I hear what you’re saying about the ‘forgiveness’ aspect, yes I think I learned something there too; dealing more effectively with the lie contained in received teachings… that wishful-thinking thing again; power structures, the whole story.
Tiramit, I’m not sure where this will end up in the chain here, but I wanted to just offer a perspective here on miracles, and the Course. Not to change anyone’s mind. Perhaps simply to clarify meanings first and foremost.
A miracle in the Course is what I think a Buddhist might term an insight. By that, I mean that a miracle is a change in perception that reveals a deeper understanding of the way things truly are. My terminology here is slightly different than that used in the Course itself, where a miracle is a change in perception I believe, but it’s a miracle because it is a shift from a false to a true perception. It’s a miracle because from the near side of the shift, it’s all but impossible to see how things could be seen another way. We’re “trapped” in our particular view of things, and the experience that this view generates. The experience is evidence that the view is correct, and it’s hard to see the evidence is only evidence of a perception that “need not be”. We can’t “figure out” how our perception is tainted by deeply held judgment or bias, because we’re somewhat blind to the depth at which our perceptions act. So, it takes a moment of grace– a gentle wind from off the loving sea that produces that old “Aha!” The effect of such insights, or miracles, is peace of mind. Peace arises when one has relinquished (forgiven) false perceptions.
As to the source of the Course, I have nothing to add one way or another. Whether it is true or not is not at this point in my journey all that meaningful. It is a bit like someone telling you the sun whose light you’ve been experiencing all day long was made by darkness. It’s true, of course, winter needs summer, and summer needs winter, and stars need leagues of empty space in which to form. I simply know the Course was extremely helpful to me in a time of need. In reflecting on the CIA origins discussed below, the story came to mind of Saul’s conversion to Christianity, and how Saul was a person actively hunting/prosecuting followers of Jesus before his conversion. He was making their lives pretty miserable, (seeking to destroy them). But something changed within him.
I don’t know what to make of Gary Renard’s books one way or another, but my message would remain constant. To many they are very helpful. Those who seek peace will find it. Those who seek to make a dogma of the Course, or of Gary’s teachings, will also do so. Those who seek to make the Course a point of controversy will also surely succeed. All of these are surely perceptual choices, perhaps with the one alternative of choosing peace no matter what. Eventually we all must stand on our own two spiritual feet, if you will, and move into our hearts, which embrace all beings without distinction or doctrine. With or without path. With or without teachings. With or without words.
Thanks Michael, I found your comment way down the chain here and not sure if this reply will be in sequence or not. What you’re saying about the nature of the Miracle, as an insight, is exactly as I see it. Unfortunate that the word has been associated too much with the ‘story’ about someone else doing it on our behalf – the truth is it’s the subjective experience of the miracle. I’m interested in what you say about the clear perception of a shift from false to true. It was this that got my attention when I started with Renard’s text, then got stuck with my conditioned view of the Jesus teachings being rewritten to suit power structures. Much of that old “trapped” thinking went right out the window when I read about ‘forgiveness’… that, in itself, was the Miracle. So I’ll go on with Renard and related texts… see where it gets me. I try to keep an open mind about what everybody has to say here without attachment to the things I love and hate, and things I love to hate. These days we have to learn to live with deconstructed trust, faith, belief… it’s part of the mystery, words don’t reach that far…
This so resonates with me Tiramit. The struggle to reign in the monkey mind’s chatter on and of the mundane. You capture it beautifully. Your St Augustine’s quote is so reminiscent of Kabir’s sayings. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.
Yes, the monkey mind, you don’t always get it under control, but there’s something about just seeing it for what it is and allowing the moments to pass anicca, nothing lasts. Since finding the St Augustine quote I’ve started looking into the life of this special person and the universality of this kind of vision. I’ll look more closley at Kabir now you’ve mentioned it. Thanks for visiting again…
Yes absolutely Tiramit – the progress is from being totally unaware that we are being led by the random jumping of the mind to the awareness that – that’s what is happening even though we might not yet have the power fully from the jumps. A bit like “being wise to the extent that I know I am foolish!” There is hope yet 🙂
This is what all the great teachers are saying, there’s a feeling that once you know it’s like this, all that’s required is the mindfulness to make corrections when it goes off course sometimes. It’s a starting point, that’s for sure…
It is hard to get in control of the mind that works fast and it can take you all over the place and you end up not completing what you started out to do. it is when I sit and chant – to mediate on what I need to do and why I need to do it keeping my priorities straight. Who I read and have studied for almost 3 decades is Daisaku Ikeda. His guidances every day always seem to be exactly what I need to hear.
Thanks sonniq for your responses here, nice to have you visit. You must see, as I do, that the monkey mind is this fast software that looks at possibilities in a simple way, a useful tool, creativity, links with other stuff that’s available. Yes and I can be subject to it, get convinced about all kinds of things. This is the problem about having to always keep my priorities straight when it’s controlled by mind.
I’m interested to hear you’re a follower of Daisaku Ikeda, I read something a long time ago, not on my bookshelf right now, co-authored by Sulak Sivaraksa and others?
I am not aware of the co-author you mentioned. i will have to look that up.
It was in an anthology of pieces by Buddhist scholars on Engaged Buddhism. Can’t remember the title but there’s a lot of other similar publications I see on google.
Wonderful blog. I will be back. It was nice to read comments that don’t all say, “great blog” “thanks” and so on. The quality of the responses tell how good the writer is. I wish in my life I had taken the time to travel the world, but it wasn’t the path I was following at the time. I had to chuckle when you said you wished you had three hands, because I had recently written that I wished I had 4 hands – so I could type two things at one time, writing, and taking care of the business of writing. If you want to see what I do, come in through the front door, instead of opening a book in the middle and come to http://mynameisjamie.net
I try to engage in a conversation in the space we have… it’s enough. I take time to ‘listen’ to what somebody is saying, no different from what we all do; a question forms in the mind and that action itself generates the answer. Conscious experience is the same for me as it is for you. My feeling is, keep it on a level that’s light and easy and nobody’ll be disincluded. It’s about the discussion…
I agree. And that is a lesson I’ve been learning. No one wants to hear the words, “I am right and you are wrong”. That shuts of any chance of dialogue in a heart beat. Since I have a tendency to get intense it is something I have to always be conscious of. It’s hard at times, when you have a passion about something, to stop and listen instead of always being the one to talk. It’s been a learning process for me. Part of discovering who I am and how I can change the parts of me I want to change so I can be a better human. It is like peeling an onion. The first layers are easy. The deeper you go, the harder, and more painful it can become.
Yes it’s like this, possible to change things after discovering that most of what ‘I’ am is a result of received conditioning, no guidance in childhood, belief in the myth, delusion, etc. Could be the awareness of it is enough and the rest is developmental. Change may be in the long term, an overall reforming, transformation…
I saw some posts I didn’t see before. I try to check thoroughly. I will get back to my reply on this.
I started to watch the first half hour of the video you posted and need to return. But I wanted to say this. I have practiced Nichiren Buddhism for 27 years. There is much what this man is saying that is what I have been learning. This mirror he talks about – is something I understand. When I chant I sit in front of my Gohonzon. It is a scroll in Japanese sanskit . down the middle it says – “devotion to the mystic law of cause and effect through sound and vibration”. It is the mirror. it is where we confront ourselves. When you bow to the buddha in the mirror the buddha bows back. When we meet people through our day, regardless of where they are in their life – if you bow to their buddha nature – it bows back. It is being able to see past the words and actions of people who seem to do things “to” you, and knowing they don’t understand what they do. To have a high life condition, so things that happen “to” you in your day you will be able to react to it with a higher life condition and make a different cause than if you react to them with whatever base emotion is pulled out of you at that time. Peeling back the layers of your life, to get to the core of you are is your own human revolution.
I like what you’re saying about bowing to the buddha in the mirror and the buddha bows back; being able to see past the words and actions of people and come up with the correct response which generates Right causation. There’s an intensity about your description of chanting, this sound and vibration I think I’ve experienced sometimes in the Theravadin monasteries I visit. There are different ways of confronting ourselves, Mooji uses the word ‘enquiry’, and you find the term: sati sampajañña (mindfulness and clear comprehension) in the Pali Canon. This is my entry point and here’s a link to the Gelañña Sutta translated from Pali by Nyanaponika Thera, the monk Cabrogal visited in Sri Lanka, mentioned in one of the comments here. Thanks for contributing please come again, I’d like to hear more about Nichiren Buddhism…
I will read your link, and to be sure I will be back.