“The world we see merely reflects our own internal frame of reference – – the dominant ideas, wishes and emotions in our minds.” – – all quotes from A Course In Miracles,pg xi/preface
I read somewhere once that 95% of all behavior is unconscious. While I can’t vouch for the percentage, I concur that the sleeping giant underneath my conscious mind dictates the direction any part of my given days can go. I do believe that most of us operate in “default” mode most of the time, that is to say the our ego speaks first before we actually recognize an opportunity to think differently. When an egoic idea looks so appealing, beautiful, wise, or rewarding, it’s very difficult at that time to consider the possibility that as beautiful as that sunset appears, as wonderful it is to be and feel “right,” as liberating as it seems to have the possibility of untold wealth at my feet, all of the above are merely shadows of what’s truly possible. Whatever my ego can conceive, “God,” the “higher self,” “the Is,” can conceive of it, oh, maybe just a little bit better. Maybe.
The long and short of what I’m getting at is that I came down with a pretty nasty fever this weekend and fortunately, fairly quickly, made a link to a conversation I had with an old friend early Saturday. There are many attractive traits to my friend: he’s a nice guy, he’s very bright and well-read, and his sense of humor is almost as twisted as mine is. However, the coffee I’d had yesterday morning began to churn sourly in my stomach about an hour or so into our visit when I realized that we were once again letting our talk degenerate into a rundown of all of the awful things that the people on or combined shit-lists have done over the years and consequently doesn’t allow them to measure up to our greatness. In addition, I let myself take a parting shot at my lateness in keeping our appointment and blew an chance to set a boundary. I had just spent two solid hours ignoring a golden opportunity to repair an internal behavior while being given a perfect reflection of areas in myself, “loveless places,” as Marianne Williamson calls them, that need forgiving. My friend was merely on the receiving end of my projections. The rest of the day held no plans for me to spend time with anyone. Rats. Holding ill will toward someone, like holding a resentment against my friend for his parting shot, usually works so much better when I can get a few people to agree with me what an asshole or bitch the person is. That way I feel “better” than them. For a little while, anyway, and then my mind spits out another projection and I have to start the whole process again. But no other people today,so instead a fever.
“We look inside first, decide the kind of world we want to see and then project that world outside, making it the truth as we see it.”
The idea of forgiveness loses the pious image I sometimes give it when I define it as “looking beyond.” As the Course itself says, “forgiveness is selective remembering.” The only person who gets hurt when I think of someone in a less than flattering way or when I hold a grudge is me. As I’ve heard it said many times, “resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Knowing that these principles are so easy for me to forget, it would behoove me to also cut slack to others on their various paths, as they too likely don’t have the idea of holding everyone in their world in the highest esteem as often as the human ego will let it, which is rarely, if ever. It’s only when choosing with a different Source that the other person begins to look like what they truly are underneath their mask, which incidentally, is the Latin definition for the word persona. I just don’t have it down pat yet. Neither does anyone else that I know of. None of us has wings just yet. Then again, every person in my world bears an angelic presence in that they offer me an opportunity to forgive myself. As I treat others, I treat myself. As I treat myself, I will invariably treat others. This very much includes thoughts as well as actions. It’s so much easier to seek out allies to hate the people I want to hate with me. Strength in numbers, like I said.
“If we are using perception to justify our own mistakes– our anger, our impulses to attack, our lack of love in whatever form it may take – – we will see a world of evil, desruction,malice,envy and despair.”
I in no way am suggesting that if I see someone murder another that it makes me a murderer. What I’m suggesting is that when I see another person who is easily identifiable as an “asshole” or some other creative description, I likely have a similar trait, have acted the same way in the past, am acting the same way currently, or bottom line have a like attribute within me that I’ve not forgiven myself for. It is impossible for me to have unforgiveness of myself within and not project it outward at some point. I can take heart in the fact that reflections can be distorted: maybe I’m not being a jerk or a bastard to the same degree as that person over in the corner, but I’m giving myself a major snowjob if I’m denying any sort of reflection whatsoever. Whether I treat someone with ill will, or if I even think of them repeatedly the same way, each time I’m not only denying myself a healing opportunity, I’m spending more time doing damage to the world I live in rather than making it a better place like I sometimes like to believe that I do.
“All this we must learn to forgive, not because we are being ‘good’ or ‘charitable,’ but because we are seeing what is not true. As we learn to recognize our perceptual errors, we also learn to look past them or ‘forgive’ At the same time we are forgiving ourselves, looking past our distorted self-concepts to the Self That God created in us and as us.”
Last October my car was broken into, and considering what was stolen I made an impromptu assessment of the character of my thief. A) As my group therapy book for school was taken, I had a scholarly person and possibly a budding therapist break into my car. B) My “Sargent Pepper” cd was left behind, so my friendly thief was apparently not a Beatles fan. C) A set of Course In Miracles cds was missing, so possibly my thief pal was also an aspiring holy person. I was really pretty upset for about an hour or so after I discovered the theft when I began to laugh out loud at the irony: the title of the box set of Course cds that was stolen was “Be Kind, For Everyone You Meet Is Doing A Hard Battle.” I began to think of the life my thief was leading and what brought he or she to the point of stealing. Apparently they needed my goods more than I did, or at least their value. Text books can be pretty expensive these days. Maybe the person hadn’t eaten for a few days. Maybe they had circumstances that dictated they turn some cash in a hurry or face dire consequences. I actually learned more from the theft than I allowed myself to learn from the cds themselves. It was a good reminder as was my past weekend. Now, if someone is just plain trodding on me, its in my best interest to set a boundary. Humility is not synonymous with being a doormat. What I still need to remember is that the person I perceive to be the biggest jerk in the room is potentially my greatest teacher. The degree of conflict involved is directly proportionate to the amount of healing I can glean from both the person and the situation. It is also possible to set boundaries with a person and do so kindly. Life in the world is too short for me to pass up so many opportunities. I do not have the power to change myself. I do have the power of free will and consent to have a Power greater than me do so. The world looks so much more beautiful when I know I’ve done my best to allow harmony to establish Itself around me. Each of us has within us the means to change the world, beginning with considering that the person I’m perceiving as wrong, or that I’m having conflict with may have had a terrible upbringing that they haven’t even begun to heal from yet, and they are indeed fighting a hard battle. Or maybe they’re just having a bad day. Or week. Or a bad year. I’ve had them myself. What I perceive is usually not real. True perception comes from a Loving heart, not the projections of an unhealed mind. All of us have been entrusted with helping each other get back Home. Projecting unforgiveness of my own transgressions, the mistakes I make and then blow out of proportion so I can beat myself and inevitably others up with, is not the way out. Healing happens when I remember that it all begins in my own mind. When I allow myself true perception, I forgive both your mask and my own, allow both of us to be human, and simultaneously enable myself to see you for the beautiful, amazing, spiritual being that you truly are.