A Course In Miracles

Rediscovering Forgiveness

Forgiveness

This year, I have been taking baby steps in exploring forgiveness as a spiritual path. A chance encounter with the intriguing phrase ‘advanced forgiveness’ led me to Gary Renard’s ‘A Disappearance of The Universe’. Encouraged by my mentor GD, I revisited my hardbound ‘A Course In Miracles’ copy. Many epiphanies later, I found my longtime Buddhist practice being steered into unexplored waters. And during a turbulent work-year, the guiding star I tried to steadfastly hold onto was forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness. From it, I learnt two things: one, forgiveness can indeed change your life; and two, most of what we have been taught about it is wrong.

Forgiveness, I was taught in school, is when someone does something awful, but you, taking in a deep breath of pure compassion, decide to forgive him. Because you are good, he is an ass. Plus, doing it makes you a favorite of old man God who smiles in his frosty beard and jots your name on His Special List of Favorite Children.

As I grew up, I occasionally practiced forgiveness, using the same line of thinking, just with complicated multi-syllable words. Then, three decades after my Jesuit education, I was guided to ‘A Course In Miracles’ (ACIM), which makes forgiveness the cornerstone of its entire teaching system. According to ACIM, forgiveness not only heals, it single-handledly undoes the ego’s delusional worldview; forgiveness is not just an occasional step – it is an entire path towards the peace that passeth understanding.

According to ACIM, the commonly practiced form of forgiveness is actually ‘the ego’s forgiveness’. Notice the ego subtly making itself higher than the other by allowing what is considers a perfectly obvious act of evilness to pass. The victim sees himself innocent while the other is guilty. Attempting this kind of forgiveness is valuable because it may be motivated by a noble intention, but seems at best superficial and at worst arrogant.

To appreciate a more advanced vision of forgiveness we need to first understand how the mind projects its own unacceptable emotions on others. A man who furiously blames others at office for incompetence, looking honestly within, realizes it is his secret guilt about his own incompetence in some area, which he is constantly projecting outside. Or a woman who strongly condemns her husband for being unreliable will find it was coming from her secret shame about being unreliable. When this is seen, there is a natural forgiveness that happens, because now the other is not guilty. He was simply the screen on which we were projecting our movie. This is a more genuine forgiveness than the first because there is real freedom in seeing it was all a projection, hence a misunderstanding.

This is not the grudging forgiveness of the ego, this is a laughing forgiveness that wonders how it could believe that the fault was really outside. As American teacher Byron Katie says, “Forgiveness is realizing that what you thought happened, didn’t.”

Perfect forgiveness, ACIM says, occurs when we begin to glimpse the dreamlike nature of the world itself. So not only is the other not guilty because it was your projection onto him, you are not guilty either: the victim and abuser are equally dream characters. The highest level of forgiveness thus rises far beyond the plains of Puritan morality into the high peaks of Non-Duality. As ‘The Course In Miracles’ says:

“Forgiveness is the only thing that stands for truth in the illusions of the world.  It sees their nothingness, and looks straight through the thousand forms in which they may appear.  It looks on lies, but it is not deceived.  It does not heed the self-accusing shrieks of sinners mad with guilt. It looks on them with quiet eyes, and merely says to them, “My brother, what you think is not the truth.”

In its purest form, forgiveness is not a doing, it a seeing: a seeing that the illusion of separate individuals is simply an erroneous mind-construct.

In its purest form, forgiveness is not a thought, it is a meditation: a sinking into the silence beyond form to see that without thought, this never happened.

In its purest form, forgiveness is a gift of love to yourself as much as to the other: because it reaffirms the truth of our oneness once again.

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If it interests you to explore this form of forgiveness further, I highly recommend Gary Renard’s ‘The Disappearance Of The Universe’ before you dive into ‘A Course In Miracles’.
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Picture Courtesy Heather Katsoulis
GD Speaks, Life-Saving Tips

Prayer of Oneness

There are times, when even the most sincere seeker experiences ‘disconnection’. This disconnection can last hours, days or even weeks. Many seekers hence follow a daily ritual. Some follow a particular meditation style, some a breathing technique, because a daily ritual has a very simple purpose – it brings you back home.

This prayer was originally written by my brother GD to help a few friends who said they kept forgetting the core teaching; who kept getting disconnected… and needed a simple, short, crisp reminder of their true nature. So GD created this small reminder – in the form of an ‘advaita’ prayer – to help them stay connected to their essence.

Just one suggestion… please don’t rush through it.

Go slowly… and savor each line to experience the true power and energy of this unique prayer. It will reveal deeper meanings each time you connect with it.

PS: For those of you who would like a printout for daily use, we have included a pdf file which you can download. Enjoy 🙂 Prayer of Oneness PDF

 

GD Daily Advaita Prayer

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Journal, Life-Saving Tips

It’s Not Too Late If You Are Reading This…

One of my dearest friends lost his brother to Dengue this morning. It happened suddenly – he was diagnosed last Sunday and didn’t live to see the next one.

I urge you to take care.

Not just from the disease, but from the regret of not having loved and listened to those people in your lives while they were around. Take care of them while they are alive and well.

I know it feels like there will always be time tomorrow right now. And I know they sometimes ramble and tell you things you’ve heard before. And maybe they phone more often than you would like to talk. And of course, you intend to return their calls, even when you don’t.

They are annoying sometimes in interrupting your plans and life. They may not be in the right place at the right time but put them at ease anyway. Don’t continue to hold against them what they once said because it makes you a winner in some game of moral righteousness. The only way that game ends is with you losing.

You will miss them some day. Not just the sound of their voice which you will hear in your head only then. Not only the secret memories – those polaroid moments of eternity. Not just the smell of them that cannot be replicated – or the touch of their skin pulsing with Life. You will miss their annoyances someday. You will regret those times when a flickering screen was more important than a human being you loved.

Look around right now. You have something beautiful and perfect and irreplaceable – this moment. You may not be as wealthy as you would like but you have something the richest person on the planet can’t purchase a minute more of. Use this moment to say and do what is really important, not merely what seems urgent. Take care to use this moment as if it were priceless.

Use this moment to say your ‘sorrys’ and ‘thank yous’…

Because not all of us get to say our good-byes.

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Life-Saving Tips

A Religion Called Kindness

Kindness

When I was young, I wanted the world to see me as intelligent. When I got older, I wanted to be recognized as successful. As the years pass, I increasingly find that the quality that matters to me is kindness.

All of my spiritual learning, if I were asked to sum up in a word, would be contained within this simple word: kindness. Not ‘love’ – it has been far too glorified and corrupted by songs and movies and clever advertising. Not even ‘compassion’ which stinks of a certain holiness for me. Compassion implies another, less fortunate, being. Kindness needs no other. Perhaps closest to it is the Buddhist term ‘metta’ – translated as ‘loving-kindness’ and described as ‘a boundless, warm-hearted feeling’.

Kindness is a subject that has been gently nudging within, asking to be written for a while now. A few months ago, on my fortieth birthday, I considered writing a blog about forty things I have learned in forty years. Pondering deeper, only this one word resonated as worth sharing. From all the meditations, mastery processes and transcendental travels – the fragrance that flowers, is this simple, sane, human kindness.

Even though my brother and mentor GD rarely speaks about it directly, I see it in action when I stay over with him. From the way he lights an incense before you arrive, to the way he makes you tea. From the way he gives you space to be confused if you choose, to the way he holds himself available as a space for healing whatever distortion is clouding your being. It’s in the way he keeps water for birds in his garden in summer and in the way he feeds a menagerie of cats, squirrels, mongooses, crows, sparrow, pigeons and coucals every day. From him, I see that liberation from the concept of self adds the highest octave of sensitivity and effortlessness to kindness.

Kindness is not sugar-coating. Sometimes kindness lies in being silent when the words would leave longtime scars. For me, sometimes kindness is even in lying when a truth is not asked for. Maybe there are others who would disagree with this – and not without reason. Kindness is also in firmly holding a ‘no’ when my son wants to play a little longer on the iPad. No human is given the power to know all the consequences of his actions, but kindness is in the source, not the outcome. Kindness is not in what you do, but in who you are being; not in what you say, but in what you silently wish within.

Kindness in business is so overlooked. It is the place where it needs to be learned and applied the most. Kindness in dealing with colleagues who struggle to be proficient in areas their body-mind mechanism is not suited for. Kindness in dealing with those who pride themselves on their shrewdness – even as they are constantly proving how they are getting the better of you. And kindness in dealing with fearful opinions masquerading as common sense and ‘reality’. How often do I come to see that the sufferings and faults I blame life for only happened after I had lost my own compass of kindness!

This oft-ignored word may stand quietly in new-age consciousness behind spiritual heavyweights like ‘meditation’, ‘empowerment’ and ‘manifestation’. But without it, no amount of learning, achievement or clarity brings joy. Being kind doesn’t even imply action – it is a state of being that wishes well. It could be a silent prayer for someone having a hard day. A smile to a doorman. A quiet glance to someone used to living invisible. Or just that boundless, warm-hearted feeling that is held like a flame within.

This weekend I finally sat down to write about kindness because I was at the receiving end of such a gracious act of kindness from a friend I met after many years that it moved me to tears. It felt in that moment as if a lifetime of mental learning is tiny compared to a kind heart. (Maybe the function of all wisdom is to hold the heart open when the whole world would advise against it.) Then that person reminded me of a small help I had given her 11 years ago. And I marveled at the power of kindness to resonate across time, even when everything else about that life has been long forgotten.

Do take some time to be kind, please.

Not because it’s going to heal the world. But because, someday, you will see that nothing else was more important for yourself.

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Poems

Remind Me

Heart Water Drops

A timeless overcast rainy Sunday before me. White birds flap across twilight greens making their way home. It seems like this moment contains eternities. I watch as tranquil pools of water are broken by raindrops that ripple across and disappear into tranquility again. The water has no fear of being disturbed, no preference for stillness. I wonder at how afraid I am to be shaken up and agitated – how much of my life is managed to ensure it doesn’t happen. Then I remember that beneath this ever-changing persona, there is something else… It’s a reminder I need every day:

 

The water has no fear of being disturbed,

Remind me that I am water.

 

The air holds all, with no distinction:

Why do I forget I am air?

 

Why do I relinquish the solid earth I am,

For a rootless, trembling mind?

 

How do I crumple all of space,

Into a fearful ball of fight?

 

Remind me again and again

I am that Love unshakeable

 

In the midst of chaos, in the madness of life,

Just remind me I Am… just remind me I Am

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GD Speaks

Are you listening to YOU?

InspirationHeaderPier

Last week, someone asked my mentor GD: “If there was just one thing you could teach me in this session, what would it be?”
“I would connect you to your inner navigation system… your in-built GPS,” GD replied.
The person was perplexed: “Does it even exist?
“Yes. And once you are connected, you never have to struggle with where to go or what to do with your life.”
“Wow! Sounds cool. So do you always know the next step… the larger plan?
“No, I don’t,” GD replied.But I have learned to ‘listen’… to be open and available. At the perfect moment, the next step is effortlessly revealed.

I was intrigued by this conversation.

So often in life we are busy stuffing our minds with information, facts and figures and pre-judgments that we don’t leave any space for something new to land. Especially in my job as a movie studio creative executive, there is a tendency to compulsively fill hours with books, movies and meetings – with the hope that, after all the friction, the spark of knowing will come. What GD was talking about was the opposite: emptying yourself – and allowing the film that wants to be made to reveal itself. He was talking about ‘listening to the person’ before you listen to the words coming out of his mouth. And about being ‘tuned into Life’ to receive the highest possible option in each moment.

“True Listening,” GD explained, “is a simple state of openness and transparency. It creates a space in which you receive constant guidance and insight from the totality of YOU. LISTENING is not to a person– it is tuning in to this alive-emptiness all around us… to this awake -presence that we are. It is being tuned to the Source, to Existence itself. Just like ‘Google’ needs to be connected to the internet to search, you need to be ‘connected’ to Source to receive your answers.”

When I look back at my life, most of the work done in that speedy space of non-listening and desperate panic has proved later to have been useless. The most successful work I have worked done has happened effortlessly in a flow – moving with an energy far more graceful than my efforts at controlling and manipulating outcomes. And yet the old habit recurs. This conversation could not have come at a better time for me, after a self-imposed 28-hour workday.

“When you are ‘connected’, life is an effortless flow,” GD continued. “There is no sense of doership or struggle… or even of choice for that matter. Everything just happens. So our primary task is to be connected… to be one with this amazing Oneness. Once this faculty is tuned, it automatically resolves all the other issues one is struggling with.”

A few days after we spoke, I came across this anecdote from Mother Teresa’s life. Dan Rather, the CBS anchor, asked Mother Theresa: “When you pray, what do you say to God?”
Mother Teresa replied, “I don’t talk, I simply listen.”
“Ah,” Dan Rather countered, “then what is it that God says to you when you pray?”
Mother Teresa replied, “He doesn’t. He also simply listens.”

When GD heard this, he added:
This is such a beautiful way to describe meditation…
You simply listen to God…
God simply listens to you…
then you and God both disappear…
and only pure listening remains.
That is the perfect meditation…
being the alive-awake-listening in which everything happens
.”

Poems

How Kind The Universe

universe

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How kind the Universe
To allow this belief
That ‘I’ am doing this Awareness –
And to even provide the Light to see this!

How kind the Universe
To never point out to me
This ‘Hereness’ so solid could never
come from my flickering mind.

How kind the Universe
To never remind me that its
Reality is brand new every moment –
My eyes daily miss millions of treasures.

How kind the Universe to a fool like me
That if I walk the path diligently
It guides me lovingly to reach Here –
And if I never move an inch
I am already Here.

How could such kindness
Not make me bow down at Its Grace.
How could such kindness
Not make me cry at Its Feet.

How kind the Universe
To allow me to see this.
How kind the Universe
To allow me to be this.

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GD Speaks

Where Does Your Salvation Lie?

butterflies

Sometimes, when we make a life-choice that is not in accord with our highest vision of our life, it appears as if we have succumbed to weakness or temptation. Guilt prompts us to struggle against these ‘lower impulses’ by urging us to change our actions – to quit smoking, to stop overworking, to end an old affair. And yet, when the carousel comes around again, we find ourselves riding the same hobbyhorse in a modified form.

Maybe the root problem is not the temptation itself – it is our belief that salvation lies therein. My mentor GD often refers to this as ‘creating false gods’:

“A false god is anyone or anything external that is seen as the source of completion. Every time we run outside ourselves to seek joy and fulfillment, we need to create false gods. It could be in the form of relationships, power, money, success or even addictions. We often dedicate our lives to these ‘substitute’ gods, in the vain hope that they will bring us happiness and deliver us to salvation. But every false god will eventually fail you – and push you back inside – to your own divinity and oneness with source.

Where do you believe your salvation lies? It’s easy to tell, because this is where your attention flows obsessively. This is what you speak about and value in others. This is where your energy moves,and where your time is spent. It’s the substance and significance of your dreams.

A Course in Miracles is unequivocal on this subject: “All idols of this world were made to keep the truth within from being known to you. And to maintain allegiance to the dream that you must find something outside yourself to be complete and happy. It is vain to worship idols in the hope of peace. God dwells within, and your completion lies in Him.”

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Artwork, GD Speaks, Journal

The Two Types of Creativity

Creativity2

To read the PDF text version to this post, click here.

GD Speaks, Journal

When Life Falls Apart

When Your Life Crashes Down

“Those powerful moments of true knowledge that we paper over with daily life… But every so often something shatters like ice and we are in the river of our own existence. We are Aware.” – Louise Erdrich

Have you ever had that experience in a movie theatre, when you are watching a good movie – flowing with the emotions, leaning forward to know what happens next – and the reel snaps. The screen goes blank. Maybe a collective groan rises. The lights come on and you blink and look around with an awareness of yourself sitting in a row of seats in a movie hall.

Sometimes, my brother and mentor GD reminded everyone in a recent Sunday session talk, Consciousness appears to pulls the plug on our life-movie too. It feels painful and heart-breaking. But is it really so?

When Consciousness wants to awaken to itself, GD said, it often starts dismantling your life. When Consciousness wants to be fully present, fully embodied in your system, it will not let anything work. Work starts failing, relationships start failing, health starts failing. The mind panics and starts putting all kinds of band-aids to fix the cracks. But if you’re lucky, nothing will work…

I remembered the time in GD’s own life when, despite his undeniable creative talent, nothing seemed to work out. Everything he tried ended in failure, and he was literally forced to explore meditation and the deepest aspects of his psyche. Most friends told him he was wasting his youth in spiritual pursuits. And it was truly a difficult period, complete with a sense of depression and lost-ness.

It took many years for the ‘dismantling’ and ‘reassembling’ to settle down completely. But today, as a result of that, he has that quiet glow which attracts people to him for healing and clarity. Had he continued down the career path he so much wanted, he would probably have been a successful advertising executive today. But something even more precious than that would never have emerged.

“This is important to know,” GD says in hindsight, “because we all resist the dismantling of our life. We keep asking and praying for something new – but when the old is being taken away, we fight, scream, therapeutize, we hate ourselves and God, and we judge our spiritual path also. But what if this dismantling is the exact answer to your prayers?”

Disappointments and failures, in these days of DIY abundance & affirmations, are seen as signs of inadequate spiritual practice or faulty manifestation. But I remember that three years ago, it was a slip disc that finally pushed me to make the painful decision to quit the only life I knew, that of a highly paid full-time corporate executive.

When I told GD I was writing a blog on this subject, he showed it to me through a different lens: “Consciousness – your true nature – is inherently Freedom. So when the time comes, it will start breaking down all the situations, relationships and beliefs that limit Itself. It will make the job dissatisfying… it will make the marriage dissatisfying. That is Consciousness wanting to break out, wanting to be fully Itself, completely unfettered by the mind.

“So this simple process of Consciousness coming into its own feels like a breakdown of your life. But actually it’s an expansion of you, it’s the process of becoming more fully You. A time comes when Consciousness wants to break out of every box created by the mind. It will break every self-definition and limitation you have created – so you can be something much bigger and vaster.”

I wanted to put this out for all those who may be going through this phase or feel the pain of a loved one going through it. As a reminder that when the movie-reel stops, heart-wrenching as it feels, it is also the wake-up call you had set for yourself: to remember that you were never the movie.

Image used under creative commons via fiddle oak