Slow Death by Corporate Life: A Journey to Breaking Free
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There is no death and the body is not real. If you think you are your body, then are you the body that you have when you are twenty-five, or are you the body that you have when you are sixty? If you say, "I am a nurse," and you change careers, then who are you? If you get cancer and your body wastes away, who are you then? Who are you after the body dies? If you are married and identify yourself as Mrs. Joe Smith, who are you when Joe Smith dies? My ninety-four-year-old father went into assisted living six years ago.
He was so organized or obsessive-compulsive that he recorded his gas mileage on every single tank for fifty years. Now he cannot figure out the difference between Poligrip and toothpaste, thinks it's ok to wash his hands in the toilet, and has completely reconstructed his past due to dementia. He proudly tells people who comment on his University of Michigan cane, hat and sweater that he played football for the legendary coach Bo Schembechler.
He can make up a story on the spot, even though he never even met Bo. It has been extremely painful to watch my dad decline, and I get frustrated more often than I wish. But when I accept that my dad is not his body and the essence of his love will always remain, I'm at peace. My dad has always demonstrated unconditional love toward me, and I have realized that his love is a symbol of God's love.
Therefore, I cannot possibly lose it, even when his body breaks down and dies. Not only can I not lose my dad's love, but he cannot lose the love inside of himself. My dad is one of those people who radiates inner joy and love. He is everyone's favorite uncle and favorite neighbor.
Love, Guilt & Putting Dogs Down
Thus, when he went into assisted living, even though it was a huge loss of independence, he carried with him his true Self, and he is as happy as ever. The people at the retirement home love him as much as all his friends and neighbors always have. They say, "Here comes Wally," because they hear him singing as he walks down the hall. This internal joy is everyone's true nature, yet few of us express it.
As with my dad, our outer lives, personalities, and bodies are constantly changing.
However, what God created is changeless. It does not decay and die. What we really are is the Self, which is the extension of God's mind, created as pure joy, love, and peace. No external circumstance can change our one Self, the mind, in which there is only light. Everything that we are dreaming comes from this one mind, which is from the creative Source. Any possibility that can be imagined in the mind can become manifest in the material world. However, none of the events in this material world has ever happened in reality, because it's only been a dream in the mind.
When you begin waking up from the dream, you actually start experiencing this truth. In my years of spiritual study I had read this concept many times, and from many spiritual traditions. It only started becoming real in the past few years, however, with my practice of forgiveness through the Course Workbook lessons. The love, joy, and peace inside of us used to be just words to me. I understood them intellectually, but they felt empty. Now I experience them. They do come from inside of me, for I can feel them in circumstances that only made me feel anxious before.
Seeing your life as a dream instead of something to get upset about changes your perspective. Click Here to Order Breaking Free. We all carry within us our ravages, our crimes, our places of exile. During my last marriage, I spent a good deal of my emotional life hating my husband's ex-wife, Sandra. We had a lot of contact with her because my husband had shared custody of their daughter. I obsessed about Sandra and recounted her faults over and over.
I thought she was arrogant, materialistic, controlling, and bitchy. I believed I was so much more loving and better for my husband than she had been, and I therefore felt superior to her. I couldn't stand when she would call our house, and I would close the blinds when she came to pick up her daughter. I knew I was acting immature and jealous, but it felt like I couldn't stop.
It controlled me and I hated being that way. I tried to think of Sandra's good points and felt kindly for moments, but never for very long. One day I was coming home from church and I was singing a chant to try to think positively about her. The verse went, "It's a joy to get to know you, it's a joy to get to know you, and I really am liking to be in your world.
I immediately went "Aaargh!!! That bitch is here! This is one example of what A Course in Miracles calls the "ego. The ego's role is "Edging God Out. It is not real.
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It is similar to the nastiness of the biblical figure of Satan, but with some crucial differences. In the Bible Satan is a real entity with power who is at war with God. In ACIM, the ego is not real, and therefore has no true power. Since God is all there is in ultimate reality, there is no one else to wage war with. When we recognize this, all the power we gave to the ego will vanish.
The part of us that is real and never dies is one with God. The ultimate truth of our Being is that we are love, for that is how God created us. The Christ Self does not judge and sees everyone as innocent. We dreamed up the ego, which comprises every emotion, thought, and behavior that is not love.
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It is angry, depressed, guilty, afraid, lusty, and proud. It lives on fear, misery, and conflict. The ego always seeks to divide and separate. The Holy Spirit always seeks to unify and heal T The ego thinks it is separate and different from everyone else, just as I thought of myself as distinct and unlike Sandra in order to hate her. There is only one mind, and that is the mind of God. The right mind retains its memory of its true Self and its voice is the Holy Spirit.
The wrong mind is the voice of the ego, which always leads us astray. What is commonly called "sin" is really only error, the error of forgetting who we really are. We forget that we are the one Self, and in our forgetting, we make negative decisions from our ego self. The ego is invested in sin, because it wants to judge others and remain separate from them. Seeing someone as sinful rather than innocent is the ego's way of ensuring separation. When we view others from our right mind, we see them as innocent, even when their choices are erroneous.
The goal of A Course in Miracles is twofold: first, to teach us to think with the right mind, which enables us to awaken from the dream and return to God; second, to minimize the effects of the ego while we are still in the dream, because the ego makes us unhappy. God created only one Son; therefore, God did not make the ego, we did. We made the ego to handle the guilt we feel for "leaving" God.
Of course, we did not leave God, but we all have deep subconscious guilt from thinking that we did. This guilt goes far deeper than conscious guilt for things we think we've done wrong. Hence, it explains why we constantly try to hurt ourselves. We all have the ego side that hates ourselves. That sounds like a strong statement, yet when we truly examine our thoughts and behaviors, we begin to see just how often we sabotage our happiness.
Because the guilt is sub-conscious, below the level of our awareness, we usually don't see it. The self-destructive side is right on the surface in drug addicts and criminals, but "normal" people are self destructive, too. The Course states that in addition to our guilt, we fear that God is mad at us for separating from Him.
When I first read the Course, I couldn't relate to this. It wasn't until I sabotaged myself in a ridiculously harmful way that I saw what it was saying. When I looked back, I couldn't believe how hurtful I had been to myself, and I thought God must have thought I was an idiot. I thought all the pain I brought on myself was deserved, and that God was disappointed in me. Most of us don't like to look at this side of ourselves, as we prefer to focus on the healthy, loving side.
Yet if we don't examine the deep guilt and shame, we can't heal it. We usually know what our negative traits are, but often we don't see this very dark side of ourselves until we do something extreme. Most of us eventually sabotage ourselves viciously, and in hindsight are amazed at how blind and self-destructive we were. My client Lyn is a good example of how we avoid deep subconscious ego guilt. Lyn did excellent work in therapy and succeeded in leaving her verbally abusive husband. Once she settled in her new home, I suggested she work on her weight, as she carries an extra one hundred pounds.
Lyn had avoided this issue in therapy every time I'd brought it up. When she began talking about it, I was surprised to hear her say, "I'm despicable! With this deep shame, I saw why she'd pushed it away. Our egos hate ourselves, and hate is not too strong a word. The ego shouts and screams for our death, much as the gladiator fights in ancient Rome.
For Lyn, obesity is the ego's gladiator arena, the one in which she destroys herself violently, though at a slower pace than the gladiators' fight to the death. It is death all the same; and again, though this is a powerful statement, we need to look at how most of us are killing ourselves in one way or another. If it's not acknowledged, it can't be healed. As long as Lyn denies and avoids her self-destructive eating, she cannot heal. The promise, however, is that when we expose the ego for the illusion it is, we become whole.
This chapter explores the ego in many of its ugly forms. As long as we are thinking with the ego mind instead of our right mind, we remain trapped in the illusory dream. We will then discuss how to substitute the Holy Spirit's voice for the ego's, which leads us to remember our true Self and wake up from this dream world. The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
We learned in chapter 3 that we have a choice about which voice we listen to, the ego's or the Holy Spirit's. Likewise, forgiveness is a choice. I never see my brother as he is. Do we choose to see our brother as a total innocent or a total idiot? The choice to forgive is crucial, for we cannot judge our brother and feel God's presence within us at the same time.
It's one or the other. When I was in counseling after I lost custody of my daughter, the therapist asked me, "Are you ready to forgive your ex-husband? He deserves to die in a fiery car crash and burn in hell! He doesn't deserve forgiveness! He's a hateful bastard! He obviously didn't understand what I'd been through or he wouldn't have been so obtuse.
How could he expect me to forgive someone who had done something so awful to me? I was shaken, and the therapist's words bothered me. It had never crossed my mind to forgive Donald. This was be fore I got back into the Course. I prayed and said, "Okay, if I'm supposed to forgive him, You've got to do it for me. I don't want to and I can't, but I'm willing if You'll help. The Holy Spirit took over and I started getting better. My depression began to lift and I stopped feeling suicidal. My unloving thoughts about Donald were truly keeping me in hell.
It took several years, and unforgiveness still crops up once in a while today, but the peace is far greater than before. I still haven't totally forgiven, though, as the Course emphasizes that forgiveness is total or not at all. If even a smidgen of judgment remains, we are still stuck in the dream. It also says, however, that the miracle is that we recognize the dream, and this provides relief even while we're still in it. Thus, on this level forgiveness is a process that takes time, but in ultimate truth, we are either awake and recognize there was never anything to forgive, or we're asleep, trapped in the dream.
Some people seem able to forgive a lot easier than I did, such as the Dalai Lama. He provides us with a precious example of forgiveness, and he exhibits the traits of love, peace, and joy that are hallmarks of enlightened beings. He has frequent bouts of giggling and a twinkle in his eyes. When we awaken from the dream we just naturally laugh at the silliness of it all. The Dalai Lama was exiled from his home when China waged war on Tibet, massacring monks and other citizens. He expresses compassion for the self-hatred the Chinese must have in order to commit such horrific acts. He sees them as wounded and fearful, which is a helpful reminder to aid in forgiveness.
Martin Luther King Jr. When we feel people are attacking us, it's hard not to hate them back. In psychotherapy we speak of the wounded inner child who learned to attack in self-protection. If we focus on someone's wounds, sadness, and fear, our hearts are softened. The Course states that anytime someone attacks us he is in fear, and fear is a call for love T If we want to awaken, we must remember that holding anyone out of our hearts will keep us from our Christ Self.
This goes for political figures we love to hate, as well as anyone we think is a jerk. As the Course says, exempt no one from your love, or you will be hiding a dark place in your mind where the Holy Spirit is not welcome T Sometimes Spirit will arrange opportunities for us to forgive. One of my friends had an affair and years later his wife called a store to order something. The clerk just happened to be the woman her husband had the affair with!
This gave the women a chance to talk things out, apologize, and let it go. Another friend of mine, Gil, has had a feud with his cousin since their grandma died. Gil resents that his cousin is withholding some sentimental trinkets that he'd given his grandma as gifts. The cousin lives out of state and when he came to town he visited his grandma's grave. It just so happened that Gil, who visits his grandma's grave twice a year, was at the grave when his cousin drove up. On a separate visit when his cousin was in town, Gil was visiting his father, and who happened to stop by?
His cousin, who had not visited Gil's father in years! Unfortunately, as of this writing, Gil and his cousin have not availed themselves of their serendipitous opportunities to heal, and the feud continues. When I was a teenager, my next-door neighbor was a man whom all the kids jeered. Joe peered out the tiny window in his door, always afraid that we would step on his perfect lawn. We saw him spying and deliberately touched our toe on the corner of his grass, so he would come out and yell, providing us with cheap entertainment.
As I learned Christian values at church, I realized that Joe was probably hurting and thought people disliked him. I made a decision to befriend him and began to say "Hi, Mr. At first he did not even respond, then he hesitantly said "hello" back. Soon Joe said "hi" to me first, and he was actually smiling! We stayed friends until he moved, but the lesson in love he taught me has stayed with me forever.
When our hearts are softened, we become open to the love and forgiveness that is our true nature. Think of someone in your life that you need to forgive. What are you afraid of? Are you afraid this person will leave you? Are you afraid he won't leave you? Are you afraid he won't like you?
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Are you afraid he will take something from you, such as money, time, possessions, or even your life? Sometimes the person we hold a grievance against has no idea we're upset, while we've stewed long and hard, perhaps for years. The way to get over our fear is by forgiving him. Forgiveness is for us, not him. Those you do not forgive you fear. And no one reaches love with fear beside him T A few years ago Joy's daughter Ann had a baby girl and Joy was thrilled.
Shortly after the birth, however, Ann started being hateful to her husband and to Joy. She got a divorce and cut off contact with Joy. She would not tell Joy what was wrong, just that she couldn't stand her and wanted nothing to do with her. This dumbfounded Joy, but with information from Ann's husband, Joy began to piece together that Ann's father had sexually abused her.
Joy surmised that Ann might be blaming her for not stopping it, so told Ann that she'd never been aware of it. Ann rejected the information that Joy had no knowledge of the abuse and chose to harden her heart and keep the separation. Joy was traumatized, both with the cutoff from Ann and her granddaughter, as well as the discovery of what her daughter had gone through and what her husband had done. I watched Joy cry and express her pain and disbelief over the tragic circumstances.
Joy tried to reach out to Ann by sending gifts to the baby, and Ann responded through her brother with the message, "Tell Joy not 'Mom' that I never want anything to do with her ever again! Joy felt numb and dazed upon receiving this message. She was walking to catch the bus to work and kept hearing the words from the Course, Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God T in. She says she didn't even know what these words really meant, but she had heard that you didn't have to know what they mean to have the Holy Spirit give you their truth. Suddenly she felt an incredible peace come over her, as if she were held in the arms of God. She felt so grateful, being lifted up from her loss and despair, given a gift of love and peace she never knew possible. Even though Joy has not seen her daughter or granddaughter for years, she has blossomed. She does not even feel it necessary to ever see her daughter again, if that's the way Ann wants it, because she knows in her heart that the love between them cannot be lost or threatened.
She also knows that Ann's hateful behavior is not real, and she sees only the love that her daughter is. Joy has lived the Course principles and while external events have not seemingly improved, Joy has experienced the miracle of a change in her thinking. As a result, she is as happy and peaceful as if her daughter had never cut her off. She does not even feel sad about it, which most people would. Instead of clinging to a special relationship with her granddaughter, Joy treats the children in our church as her own grandchildren, knowing that in truth we are all one in love.
Joy and I discussed this at church, and she once again inspired me with her loving attitude. She told me her sister had called her excitedly the day before as she had seen Ann on the local cable TV channel. Ann looked really good and was involved in a community recycling project. Joy said she realized that Ann could do well without her, and perhaps did not choose to have a mother in her life. It was a lesson in letting go of Joy's ego identity as "mother," and accepting that roles imply separation and only oneness exists in truth.
Later that morning I moseyed over to the church bookstore, where new and donated books are sold. I wanted to reread it so I was pleased to find it. The story is in line with ACIM principles that we are all one and the sense of separation is an illusion. As I glanced through One I was dumbstruck. There in the front cover was a dedication from Ann to Joy, dated Christmas, Ann wrote that she was proud of her mother, saw her as a wonderful role model, and admired how Joy was coming into her own as a full, loving person.
I ran over to show Joy, who read it, and we both started crying. What an affirming gift from Spirit, to discover this true message from Ann, right when we had been talking about oneness! Major forgiveness lessons often come from family members. My friend Diane had a difficult relationship with her alcoholic mother, whom Diane felt was narcissistic, critical, and emotionally unavailable.
As her mother aged, Diane took her mother into her home and was worried about properly caring for her, as she saw her mother's health declining. Diane and her mother often exchanged sharp remarks and were generally tense and uncomfortable with each other. One day Diane found her mother slumped on the floor from a stroke.
Diane blurted out, "You Bitch! I just knew you were going to do one more thing to screw things up! In the ensuing months, Diane got her mother nursing home care, and her mother died shortly thereafter. After her mother's death, Diane felt anxious and unsettled, and she beat herself up mentally. One day it occurred to her that she needed to forgive herself.
She needed to let herself off the hook. She had been loving and compassionate most of the time, and it was human to not act perfectly loving all the time. Once Diane began forgiving herself, she felt the peacefulness that forgiveness provides. Forgiveness often starts with ourselves, but we find ourselves the hardest to forgive. Forgiveness often occurs after a loved one has died, as in my client Joan's case. Joan's father sexually abused her from the age of five until he died when she was eleven.
Bedtime was terrifying, as she wondered if he would slip into her room at night and force her to play the "game" of "ride the horsy. Before his arrival they raced to clean up the house, in hopes he wouldn't find a misplaced shoe or toy to scream about. Joan remembers consciously deciding not to eat as a child, for she felt that was the only thing she could control. She developed anorexia, and later bulimia, regurgitating her meals regularly.
She became depressed and had to take medication, was obsessive-compulsive, and chose a job as a strip dancer. As a dancer, Joan felt she regained power over men, tantalizing them with her body while they were forbidden to touch her. Joan married a man whom she met at the strip bar and quit dancing, hoping to get a job in which she could use her master's degree. However, she was still in a retail sales position, overqualified and underpaid. In their couples' counseling sessions her husband said, "Joan will never go anywhere in her career," and wanted her to resume stripping.
By this time Joan was horrified at the thought of dancing again, as she'd gained self-respect and saw why she chose to repeat the pattern of being a sexual object. Joan divorced her husband because he was a compulsive gambler and had an affair. She got an excellent job within her field and has been moving up the ladder. She is now in a loving, healthy relationship, after many attempts to sabotage it. Joan frequently broke up with her new boyfriend at the slightest fight, convinced that it was going to end eventually anyway, so she might as well do it now. That way it wouldn't be him leaving her.
I kept reigning Joan in and pointed out that she was throwing away a good man because love felt unfamiliar. She was trying to make it fit the only thing she ever knew, which was abuse. About a year ago Joan had a dream in which her father apologized for what he did to her. Joan reacted with anger. Recently Joan felt strong enough to end therapy, no longer depressed or bulimic, and no longer on medication. Joan was able to forgive her father through her willingness to forgive, and had another breakthrough dream. In it, her father was driving down the street in a sporty convertible, and invited her for a ride.
He was young, healthy, and friendly. He showed genuine interest in her life and was the loving father she had always wanted. The dream ended when her father said, "Well, I have to go now. I've got a lot of work to do in heaven! I thought for sure he'd be burning in hell! True forgiveness applies not only to people, but also to circumstances within the dream. We have to forgive ourselves for dreaming the dream. Many spiritual ideologies suggest that we judge nothing as good or bad, merely as neutral events.
If we can do this, it helps us step back from the dream more easily. Since it's a dream that's not really happening, it's only our ego judgments of "good" or "bad" that make it "real. My nephew Danny was born with severe disabilities.
He suffered an epileptic seizure right after birth, yet was sent home, as the extent of his disabilities was not recognized. Suspicions about his health began to surface when he didn't develop normally, so my sister Patty and brother-in-law Bruce took Danny to a university medical center for an evaluation. I was with my sister when the neurologist gave her the bad news. The nurses had warned us that the doctor didn't have a very good bedside manner, and that was an understatement.
The doctor started off with, "Well, Mom, your kid's about as bad as they get. In short, Danny would be a vegetable for his entire life. My sister bravely held her composure until the doctor left, then burst out crying. On her drive home she felt like crashing into a telephone pole and killing Danny and herself, and I went home and cried myself to sleep. I was extremely angry at that doctor for his insensitivity. Through the years, every time I thought of him I got mad all over again. As I began writing this chapter I realized I was still angry, as my first thought was, "That asshole!
I don't care if he's a good doctor or not, he stinks in what he did to my sister. The hospital is idiotic for putting a jerk like that in charge of delivering painful news. I didn't know before that I needed to forgive every single attack I made on anyone or anything.
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So, I asked the Holy Spirit for help in seeing the doctor differently. This prayer helped me to see the doctor with compassion instead of judgment. I saw what a painful part of his job it must be to deliver tragic news, and I was able to see that he was not meeting my expectations of a doctor, yet was doing the best he could. This realization calmed my heart so that I could begin the forgiveness process. That process led to even greater peace when the awareness came that this whole episode was not real.
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The doctor is as innocent as I am for projecting his unskillful words into my dream. Receiving the news from the doctor was just the beginning of a long ordeal for Patty and Bruce. Danny's impairment was so severe that it was a huge burden for them to keep him home. However, they did so, and lovingly cared for him for the next eighteen years until he died. They couldn't bear to put him in an institution, as they knew he would die from lack of love and touch. It is extremely difficult to understand why some children are born as Danny was, and I wondered why God would allow this to happen.
When Danny was alive I once heard a sermon in which it was suggested that if you have a question for God, write it down, tuck it away, and wait for God to answer. So, I wrote, "Why is Danny the way he is? About twenty minutes later I was doing the dishes and the word "iconoclast" kept popping into my mind. I was puzzled, but thought perhaps it was related to my question. I knew an icon was a symbol, and I thought of the cross, so figured God might be answering me.
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I looked up the meaning of "iconoclast" and learned that it is one who destroys religious symbols or attacks socially accepted beliefs. I immediately thought of Jesus, who certainly challenged the beliefs of his day. Did this shake-up of ideas mean I needed a new perspective of Danny's condition?
Rather than view his life as a tragedy, was there a positive meaning? Unable to see the good, I carried this puzzling answer in my head for years, always wondering about it. I somewhat understood it intellectually, but I didn't really get it on an emotional level. Sure, there might be some reason for Danny's impairments that we couldn't understand, but it still did not make sense to me.
I struggled with the horrible and unnecessary pain for him and our family. About eight years later, Danny had to undergo surgery to correct a curvature in his body that was eventually going to press on his organs and kill him. Patty and Bruce were torn about what to do, as surgery would also result in severe pain. They decided on the surgery, and indeed, Danny experienced terrible pain. It was gut-wrenching to watch him moan helplessly. During this period I prayed for Danny, and one day I felt a very strong spiritual connection with him. Suddenly I got it! I couldn't put it into words then and it's hard to put it into words now, but somehow I knew that Danny was not his body and that appearances were deceiving.
What appeared to be a deformity really wasn't! There was immeasurable love that flowed from the depths of his twisted body, reaching out and touching the lives of many. A few months later, Danny left his body behind and passed on, and I have been ever grateful for the gift he gave me of seeing beyond appearances, knowing there is a truth behind what meets the eye. Danny apparently strongly affected not only me but many others as well. His memorial service was packed to overflowing and the funeral home had to open up a second room. A few weeks after Danny made his transition, I came across an article in my Angels on Earth magazine that gave me more insight into the fact that our eyes do not catch the entire scene.
The story was about a developmentally disabled boy who had limited communication skills. The boy told his mother that there were angels in the ceiling corner of his bedroom, and they played with him. At Christmas, the family had a nativity scene under the tree. The little boy got excited and pointed to the nativity, then to his bedroom ceiling, then back to the nativity.
The mother interpreted, "Oh, your angels were there? As I read this I exclaimed to myself, "Oh, my God! That's what Danny had! It felt so good to know that on his seemingly tragic and lonely journey, that all along he'd had the best help and joyful moments one could ask for. The nature of Christ's existence is mysterious, I admit; but this mystery meets the wants of man. Reject it and the world is an inexplicable riddle; believe it, and the history of our race is satisfactorily explained. Jesus was undoubtedly one of the most powerful people to ever walk this earth.
His world-reaching influence remains with us today, two thousand years later, and this is testament to his power. The mere mention of Jesus' name continues to evoke healing for those who believe his claims. For these people, Jesus' name stirs something deep within. Likewise, myths inspire and speak to the truth in our being. Somewhere inside of us we resonate with the power and possibility, even though the story sounds impossible for mere mortals.
There are many mythological overtones surrounding the stories about Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection. Cross-culturally, there are multiple myths containing virgin births, sacrificed saviors, and resurrections. Jesus was a man who attained the Christ Consciousness, coming into full awareness of his oneness with God. Because Jesus knew his oneness with the power of God, he could easily perform miracles.
Because Jesus knew His mission was to help humanity and teach the truth about God, he chose to sacrifice his body. Because he knew he was Spirit and not a body, He resurrected from the dead to show us that death is not real. Jesus completed the mythological hero's journey, the journey back to our inner power.
He did what few others had done but what all of us are destined to do. Jesus lived the myth and proved the myth. Myths spring up around powerful figures after their deaths because they are archetypal stories that describe the hero's journey and help explain the meaning of life. Joseph Campbell was an eminent mythologist and historian. While some historians feel Jesus was strictly a mythological figure who never actually lived, Campbell believed that Jesus was an actual historical figure, as do I. However, Campbell explains, "The recurrent mythological event of the death and resurrection of a god, which had been for millenniums the central mystery of all of the great religions of the nuclear Near East, became in Christian thought an event in time, which had occurred but once, and marked the moment of the transfiguration of history.
Today we have worldwide communication and knowledge of other cultures' myths, which they did not have. They were not yet equipped to hear Jesus' message that, yes, he was one with God, but so are the rest of us. Whether Jesus actually lived in a body is not the main point, as the body is unreal anyway.
It is his message that is the truth, regardless of the form. The story of the crucified savior harkens to the wisdom within us that knows we must sacrifice the ego to resurrect our Christ Self. There are several myths of crucified saviors, which include Krishna from India, Mithra from Persia, and Tammuz from Babylon. The Persian and Babylonian religions were pagan and are considered heretical to Christians.
However, when the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of Rome in the fourth century CE, pagan rites were incorporated into Christian celebrations. Christmas trees have lights on them to stave off the winter darkness, and this stems from the pagan winter solstice festival of lights. It could be that early Christians used these existing symbols to share and explain their understanding of Jesus, who is called the "Light of God. The pagans celebrated the rebirth of spring and used eggs to symbolize fertility.
This corresponds with renewed life from the resurrection. There are virgin birth myths in addition to the crucified savior myths. One Christmas I listened to a call-in radio show and the host said, "If you could ask God one question, what would it be? Matthew reads, "Behold, a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Interpreted esoterically, symbolic of internal truths, the Bible reads very differently than when it is interpreted exoterically, literally. Ancient Aztecs had a savior whose mother was called a virgin. He also died and resurrected. Cortes and the Catholic Spaniards who traveled to Mexico were astounded to find their religious themes repeated.
They thought Saint Thomas must have reached America with Jesus' message, or that the devil was using the Mexican myth to play havoc with their Christian faith. Again, without the knowledge of the world's cultures that we have today, their bewilderment is understandable. The Christmas story is my all-time favorite, and I am not concerned with whether the events happened exactly as the story goes. I am filled with awe and reverie as I read about the bright star shining a message of love and hope.
I imagine myself with the shepherds as the angels sing "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men. Charlie Brown bemoans that nobody seems to remember the true spirit of Christmas, and Linus answers him by reading from the Bible. Linus softly says, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
If there is no God, then why has virtually every person on this planet, who's old enough to reason, wondered about it? When you think of God, what do you get? Do you think of Nature? Do you sense a formless void or an energy field? Do you see an image of an old, white-bearded judge sitting on a throne? Do you picture many different gods and goddesses? A Course in Miracles defines God this way: We say "God is," and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless W-p.
Words and symbols on this level cannot even come close to describing All That Is. God, or Love, is all there is; there is nothing else. Everything else we think we experience is just illusion. This is why the Course states, Nothing real can be threatened. Herein lies the peace of God T-in. In our present human state, God is unknowable. However, perceiving ourselves to exist on this level, images and metaphors help us connect.
Yet God is neither male nor female. Use whatever images are most helpful for you, such as angels, gods or goddesses, animals, Jesus, or other masters. Meditate and get an image of your own higher Self, the part of you that is wise, calm, and has all the answers. You can ask this part of you for help at any time. Think of the most unconditionally loving person you know.
Now multiply that person's love by infinity. That is like God. Who is the most joyful, exuberant person you know? That person's joy is but a fraction of God's laughter. Jesus tells us that our illusory separation occurred when into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh T This is why I erupt into laughter so often these days, as I am remembering my true identity. I can now see how silly I was to conjure all sorts of separation scenarios. What brings you joy? What was the happiest moment of your life?
Who are the people you love spending time with? What are the hobbies, sports, or interests you love to do? What excites you? This is where God is! Reading makes me feel God's presence, but for you it may come from baseball, gardening, music, art, yoga, golf, car racing, and so on. One of my clients feels God's presence when he's playing soccer. In that arena he gets in touch with his higher Self, his love, his passion, his ability to soar beyond limitations.
He feels in command, as he allows his intuitive Self to play the game. He's not thinking, he's being. Another client of mine is enchanted with scuba diving. She doesn't really believe in God, yet she feels a powerful presence with the ocean. It awakens and enlivens her, and it makes her feel connected to life. This is what God is. We don't have to call it God or encapsulate it in a religious context to feel it.
God is whatever inspires you, harkens you to greater heights, and speaks to you of something bigger, grander, and more awesome. Spend as much time as you can doing what you love. Notice how you feel about yourself and others when you're immersed in that special activity. Our world is filled with information all seeking our attention. The second common step is the feeling of Helplessness.
We get lost in how to start or where to start we become numb to starting and overwhelmed with helplessness. The third common step into the Trap of Apathy is Comfort. Thankfully, there is a way out of the Trap of Apathy. We have to take action, clear and direct action. As a coach, I work with many people who got out of shape or overweight because of sickness or an injury or are in finical struggles due to a company closing and are stuck in the Trap of Apathy through no direct action of their own. However breaking free looks the same for all of us regardless of how we got there. Step 1 Expose yourself to discomfort.
Consistently expose yourself to the thing that makes you uncomfortable about your current life that you want to change. You need to become intentional about exposing yourself to that which brings you discomfort in your current life. If you are unhappy with your current fitness level — take a naked selfie each morning, if your unhappy with your finical situation then post your bank balance on your dashboard, if you are seeking to end suffering then be exposed to those who are suffering.
Whatever area of your life that is not what you want then you need to be constantly exposed to the discomfort until it changes or you will drift back into apathy. Step 2 Find just one thing. We all have a dozen distractions that call out for our attention and a few more to-dos items on our list demanding change. To break free of Trap of Apathy you have got to focus on just one thing and pour all you have into that one thing. Many things will capture your attention only a few things will capture your passion. Step 3 Embrace the Hurt — Growth does not happen in the warm safe waters.
You need to realize that once you stop hurting, you stop being human. Pain is part of this cruel world, and it is only with pain we can say we have lived. Pain is such a vital part of life because it holds so much power. Pain is the hunger behind our dreams. How you see pain is how you come out of it. If you want the break free you have to be willing to embrace the pain.