Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Week 1: A Course in Miracles


 
It's hard to tell you about A Course in Miracles when I'm barely on Day 7 of 365, but I feel like I have to write about it to understand it. So first of all, what is this miracle class? It's a brick of a book, a self-study program where you read a single passage everyday and gradually retrain your mind to view the world in a more forgiving light. ACIM (for short) has been covered brilliantly by Marianne Williamson, Gabby Bernstein and also by my former classmate at The College of Psychic Studies, Kenneth Bok. See here for Ken's hugely popular Youtube Channel, called ACIM Explained

A Course in Miracles lasts one year, and I'll be posting a summary each week with my take on the concepts. If you'd like to follow along at home, please read the original text here. Each entry has a headline, a long explanation and homework to go with it. I'll paraphrase the headlines to reflect my understanding of the lessons, please share your thoughts below! 


Introducing A Course in Miracles!
A unique, universal, self-study spiritual thought system that teaches
 that the way to Love and Inner Peace is through Forgiveness*


Day 1: None of the things I see in this room mean anything.  

As I'm typing, I take a moment to look around me. My tea has gone cold on the table. I see a pile of books that I haven't read, homework for my new planetary magic class. My Netflix account is switched onto a daytime drama (background noise for blogging). And all the while, the time stamp on my last blog post tells me it's been a month since I published anything. What a disaster!

A Course in Miracles tells us that none of this means anything. The pile of books does not mean anything. My tea has gone cold, meaningless. Netflix playing in the background is meaningless (and not a distraction or procrastination). On Day 1 we tell ourselves that X,Y or Z doesn't mean anything. The same is true for office politics, mommy wars, or that look your in-laws gave you, etc.

Day 2: I've given these things the meaning that they have for me.

If you've watched The DaVinci Code, the film starts with a scene where Tom Hank's character is lecturing on symbols, and how the same symbol can have a completely different meaning from one culture to the next. The same is true for hand gestures and sometimes even for words. For example, in my native Mexico cajeta is a delicious food item, in Argentina it's an expletive (of sorts). The two countries have given the word completely different meanings. We can take this concept down a notch to think about emotional responses in our personal lives. I might look at the pile of unread books on my desk and think "I'm falling behind!" or look at that cup of tea that's gone cold and say "what a waste." 

Instead, ACIM tells us to look at that everything in our lives (from pencils, to vacations, to Granny's earrings, to relationships) and think: I have given this the meaning it has for me. Your husband showing up (or not) to a family recital can mean everything to you, and not quite so much to the mom next door. Our experiences influence these meanings, but I'm getting ahead of myself ...

Day 3: I don't understand any of the things that I see in this room. 

This concept reminds me of a Buddhist parable where we're taught to eliminate the words good and bad from our vocabulary. It goes something like this: boy breaks his leg (bad), the boy isn't in school to catch swine flu (good), but his friends get sick and are held back, so he's friendless the following year (bad). All of this means he graduates from college on time during and economic boom and get's a good job (good!) at Lehman Brothers in 2006 (oops) and two years later he's unemployed (bad). We can't really say if isolated events are good or bad, there is so much going on in the background. Instead, keep calm and carry on.
  
We can also use this concept to give others the benefit of the doubt. Once upon a time, my spiritual psychology teacher yelled at one of my classmates for asking too many questions in class, telling her to be quiet. I remember being disgusted when I left, but no one else seemed to bat an eye. Why did it mean something to me when the rest of the class appeared to "take it?" Maybe he was just having a horrible day, and I didn't understand what I was witnessing, etc.

Day 4:  My thoughts don't mean anything either. 

Let's go back to that pile of astrology books that I haven't read, from my planetary magic class. My thoughts about that (I'm  a bad student for slacking off, etc) are meaningless. Let's observe and dismiss them as meaningless, especially if the thinking gets you riled up. If this step is especially hard, try reading one of Echkhart Tolle's books, A New Earth is my favorite so far =)


Day 5:  I'm never upset for the reason I think.

Next time you're ticked off, take a moment to ponder on this: you're not upset for the reason you think. This is where we become aware of our triggers. Why do we respond when someone pushes our buttons, is it because they were "out to get us" or because we have a button that other people don't have? It's likely that a certain events triggers an emotion, one that can be linked to the past...
 
Day 6:  I'm upset because I see something that is not there.

In Spanish we have a phrase called mal viajar which translates as a bad (mental) trip. This is when someone says or does something and we start to read between the lines. Then we react to what we think we saw, or what we think is going on behind the scenes. The term is usually used in reference to jealous girlfriends, but the concept is the same. We are upset because we see something that is not there, and we take it "the wrong way"

Day 7:  Wherever I look, I see the past. 

This concept helps us make sense of everything that comes before it. Wherever we look, we see the past, and that is where our personal meanings come from. If I overreact to an event, that trigger reminds me of something that happened in the past and I can move past it by forgiving and releasing the past. The person or event in front of me is just a symbol for the root that needs healing. We can also use this train of thought (Day 1-7) to become self-aware, especially where attachments are concerned. Buddhism teaches that attachment, aversion and ignorance are the root of human suffering. We can still enjoy our personal relationships, our comforts and our lifestyle, without being so attached to it. Anyhooo, I hope this makes sense and come back next week for Part 2! The study group for A Course in Miracles lasts all year, with updates every Tuesday.


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Reiki hugs, Regina


* Quote and Image Source: http://www.acim.org/

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