Point of No Return

comments 35
Christ / Course Ideas

There are so many amazing things a person could choose to learn about in this world, enough to fill whole lifetimes– like the way photons make decisions when faced with the conundrum of a diffraction grating, or the way high-speed traders manipulate the flow of money on time scales that make the pace of human thought seem like canyon-making, or how the fashion industry unraveled the mystery of the neons.  There was a time when these things or those very much like them seemed important, when I was filled by the desire to understand.  To make sense of it all.

That lasted for a few decades, off and mostly on.  Now I am simply filled by Desire, and I have eyes for only one Moment.  Making sense is an ancillary concern.  When it crops up, making sense means translating every scrap of thought to its proper orientation to Love.  To do this, I take a breath, look inward, and wait for a feeling.  I’ve done this enough to wait without interrupting, that’s the key.  It’s a lot like fishing.  You can’t will the fish to bite.

One day you look up and realize your life took a seeming wrong turn.  The lawn is a weed-infested travesty of modern horticulture.  Your job is milling your goodness into bits.  Your adolescent friends are emoticon remnants of the gang that used to sneak out at midnight, intoxicated by a wordless energy everyone used to exhale into the starry sky as plumes of warm steam.  Your whole reality is out of tune.  Take a breath…  Wait for it…  Six giggling beings from ten thousand years ago crowd into your mind like they just stepped off the light beam, eager to see what the buzz is about.  You expand into eight dimensions.

A month or so ago I was jump-starting my diurnal activities with a pastel purple mug of home-brewed coffee in one hand, and The Essential Rumi in the other, when I chanced upon the line, “Until you’ve kept your eyes and your wanting still for fifty years, you don’t begin to cross over from confusion.”  I made immediately to start the oven timer, but it doesn’t have that kind of depth.  The passage left me with that aching recognition you get when Forever bursts forth from the Now like a puma scratching its way out from behind the wallpaper in the den, an instant when making sense dissolves into a placid warmth that wraps itself around every aspect of your life.  Even though it hasn’t even been one minute, never mind fifty years, I’d been reminded.  The promise of those words had been fulfilled.

Though I’ve given up on making sense, I’ve not given up on the love of connections.  A few weeks later I was reading from the Dialogues of A Course of Love, and walked smack dab into a discourse by Jesus on this very subject.  He said, “You can only fast from want by realizing what it is you desire.”  There it was again, fasting from want…  Moving into clarity…  He and Rumi must be friends, I thought.  I bet they go fishing together.

Later Jesus said, “The condition of want, like all conditions of learning, ended with the end of learning… When you have felt the reality of union, you have felt the place in which no want exists.”  To put this in context, after a lovely build-up in the Course of Love and then a bit of eye-opening discussion in the Treatises, in the Dialogues we are standing on the beach, mending our nets and bad-mouthing the fickle ocean waters, when Christ walks up, looks us straight in the eye and pops the question: “Are you ready?”

If you’re asking yourself ready for what? I think this passage about sums it up, wherein Jesus says, “I do not have to spell out this choice for you, for you know exactly what it means.  It means you will be as I am.  It means you will live from love rather than fear.  It means that you will demonstrate what living from love is.  It means that you will resurrect to eternal life here and now.  It means no turning back, no return to fear or anger, no return to separation, no return to judgment.    It means no longer trying to leave these things behind because they will be gone.  It will mean no longer striving.  It will mean no specialness.  It will mean the individual is gone, and the Self of union all that continues to exist.  It will mean peace, certainty, safety and joy with no price.”

All my life has been a prelude to the final resolution of this question, as has yours.  All lives are a prelude until the choice to return is made.  What I love about the Dialogues is that Jesus isn’t giving us instruction on how to prepare properly for this choice, on how to become perfect enough to be ready, or how to purify ourselves sufficiently to approach the gates.  He is simply asking if we will accept the Truth of who we are, right now, and walk away from a life predicated upon learning.  This is fasting from want forever, by accepting fulfillment.

As I wobble around this Moment, feeling those residual fears and what-if’s and self-judgments make their plays, I am beginning to sense the power of not understanding this at all.  Fasting from want requires that I simply let go of understanding what the present moment contains that I may recognize the response of Love to Love, that I may stumble into the fulfillment of Desire.  Fasting from want means that I give up all reference points about how or what I am doing, that I not turn back, and that I say Yes on that beach without knowing where I will be two days later.  This doesn’t necessarily mean getting in the car and driving without looking back.  This is about jumping off the conceptual cliff, and free-falling into the heart of our own being.

If you are considering acceptance of your inheritance and your rightful place in Timelessness, and feel that desire building to move in NOW, but find you are like me… uncertain of your merits or qualifications at times, questioning the reliability of your willingness, afraid of what will be asked of you, stymied by your emotional response to traffic or blatant human rudeness, sometimes unsure of how to respond in conversation, unable to hold the picture of yourself as you truly are in all moments you encounter, or pained by your inability cure the world of its horrible pains and evils, then I’m going to go out on a limb and say you are ready.  We are ready.  It is so hard to accept, I think, that this is precisely what being ready looks like…  I know it doesn’t make sense, but we gave up on that gambit forty nine years, three-hundred and sixty-four days, twenty-three hours and fifty-nine minutes ago.

There are so many amazing things a person could choose to learn about in this world, but only one real choice: to choose what lies beyond learning…  To redeem your heart-ticket for what comes next…

35 Comments

  1. When you hear the question “Are you ready?”, an oven timer does give enough time to answer. There don’t need to be a lot of conditions just so. You don’t need complete knowledge and all answers to everything. After all, that question isn’t one for the mind to try to answer. It’s about getting the mind out of the way of the heart, which has known the answer the entire time.
    Ding! Time’s up! (for now) andr you answer is…?

    Thanks for the inspiring post.
    Vincent Paz

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    • Thank you, VP. You are exactly right… time is not the issue at all, and our hearts are in on this secret. It is the unity of the heart and mind, so they can dive into this choice together, neither leaving the other behind, that is the key I think. Writing about it gives my delay the flavor of joyous proximity. Thanks for your note!

      Michael

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  2. Hi Michael,

    There’s a lot to think about here. And at the risk of seeming to already be somewhere that resembles the place your describing, I can only attempt, for the sake of the beauty and love of conversation, to put into words a subtle distinction I make for myself.

    The big aha for me comes from differentiating between desire and striving. Striving is an admission that there’s something to get, which implies something is missing and therefore continually misses any mark it aims for and tends to perpetuate its own state or worse, like cancer, makes for more striving.

    Desire is love, attraction, and magnetism that draws me to others, to life and to this conversation, as well as to my own writing projects. Desire is fed through the creation of love, that sense that we get when we’re engaging in a meaningful way. Love satiates desire, so when we’re living in and through love, we don’t feel desire, or we don’t live in want because love is enough.

    Does that make any sense to you?

    “This is about jumping off the conceptual cliff, and free-falling into the heart of our own being.”

    I think that might be what you are saying here, but don’t want to presume. These words and their meanings are so slippery.

    Debra

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    • Debra,

      Never fear to risk expressing who you are! Your descriptions and distinctions echo what I am discovering and encountering. Jesus provides nearly identical thoughts in A Course of Love. He differentiates wanting (striving) from desire, and even says in a quote I didn’t include that desire IS our point of access to unity. I loved your description of desire as that magnetic attraction that draws you into loving relationship and loving expression. I experience it that way as well.

      In a bit of an aside, I dusted off an old dream journal today. Last night after writing this post, I awoke to a dream of basically being hunted and killed by some grisly hombres I didn’t recognize. I went to bed feeling like was sinking into the embrace of angels. Something tells me those parts of me that retain some resistance to this notion of complete surrender must have taken up arms in the night realm… It seems a futile strategy, though, killing the only vehicle you have… 🙂

      Am I crazy to think this gap will narrow as resistance dissolves? What do you think about that?

      Thank you for the beautiful conversation.

      Michael

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      • Hi Michael,

        This whole business of discerning our “state of being,” describing it or even knowing it, remains forever tricky. I appreciate your willingness to engage in the trickiness with me.

        Will the gap narrow? I like to think that we’re working towards a diamond vision, meaning, that we see with a thousand eyes at once.

        I was just listening to Peter Gabriel’s cd, “So,” which includes the song, “In Your Eyes” on it. The lyric reminds me of that gap:

        In your eyes
        The light the heat
        In your eyes
        I am complete
        In your eyes
        I see the doorway to a thousand churches
        In your eyes
        The resolution of all the fruitless searches
        In your eyes
        I see the light and the heat
        In your eyes
        Oh, I want to be that complete
        I want to touch the light
        The heat I see in your eyes

        The image of completeness, or wholeness can more easily be seen outside of us, perhaps than it is felt within us. Maybe we are complete, or completeness includes all that we are right now, at this moment, which really is just a snapshot of eternity, yes? Except eternity can never be captured, such is the illusiveness of the states of being we think we need.

        I think your dream is very telling. Perhaps those bad guys know that you’re ready to give up the fight, give in to the death of some part of yourself that keeps resisting the obvious. What do you think about that?

        Likewise, I do so enjoy the beauty of our conversations!

        Debra

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        • I was thinking the same thing about the dream. Something very similar to what you describe anyway. It is interesting how sometimes the feeling of a dream seems to bleed through into the day. You spend half the day looking for a “psychic mint,” whatever that might be.

          I wonder about the notion that completeness can be seen as an image outside of us more easily than felt within us. I find that when I’m able to see it around me it is the effect of a vital presence or deep connectedness within me. I love the idea of the now being a snapshot of eternity, and also like to append the idea of the hologram, where each picture contains the whole.

          The whole is never an image, so it can live inside of any image, if we let it. These words again! Because I’m trying to see what you mean, and I’m thinking that without that other pair of eyes to look into, there can be no communication of this known wholeness. In a sense, without relationship, it cannot be activated through expression. For me, the wholeness is like this third thing that arises to encapsulate and hold the entire exchange.

          Like right here, you have a feeling you wish to express, and hope that in doing so you will become known. Recognized. Related to. Received. Given. Whatever. I am here, to accept what is offered, and also to respond, to recognize, to relate with, to give back. Something new emerges in that, some thread of wholeness neither of us could have mustered without the other. This is creation perhaps.

          All my experience suggests that this process is amplified by inner knowing. What I really come to know, is my self. What you come to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, is your self. But in recognizing who you are, and discovering it is who I am, it is something I “know”, the very material of your being is something I recognize, I discover myself in a way I’ve never known it.

          So, it is within… it is seen without… Words… It is witnessed, exchanged, passed between us, this holy presence… That is enough…

          Michael

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          • “Something new emerges in that, some thread of wholeness neither of us could have mustered without the other. This is creation perhaps.”

            Lovely and inspiring thoughts Michael!

            Life is then a continual exchange, in so many ways and on so many levels. Every moment bursting with newness, even when we don’t see it.

            There is, perhap, nothing more lovelier than the recognition between two or more souls of knowing and sharing an awareness of something, especially something that lives, moves and breathes quietly under wraps. Our awareness amplifying the beauty and love by attending and acknowledging its existence. Our purpose? Yes, I think so.

            Within/without, as it is above, so below, heaven and earth and a thousand mirrors between them.

            Thank you for your lovely insights!

            Debra

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            • Nothing may be added to that, Debra, that may be put into the eccentric compartments we call words. Thank you as well…

              Michael

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  3. Beyond learning. That’s what I came to too. Love that. And healing beyond healing maybe.
    Love the part about making sense.

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    • Thank you… I think we reach that point in the healing process, like I think you are suggesting, when we realize more healing isn’t going to produce more change. It is time to take off the training wheels, and move on… You do such a lovely job in your poems of holding that space open to others.

      Michael

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      • Thank you. I like how you said that about not producing more change. I call it tossing up the pieces. I do that a lot.
        Yes, and holding space is another thing I like to do. There is a place too, when we see we are whole, really, and not the pieces. I admire the way you can put what is beyond words into words. Take care~
        Laurie

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  4. Beautiful treatise on love. I haven’t really experienced living that way over time, only isolated moments. Apparently, I’m not ready to jump. Maybe I’ll check out this book, A Course on Love. Thanks for pointing the way Michael.

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    • Brad, I think it only seems like we need to jump. Let’s you and I make a pact. No looking back. No matter what arises. No should have’s. No what if’s. What did we used to say when we were little? Slap back no take backs? 🙂 Help me out here… Two brothers jumping off the ledge together cannot fail…

      Michael

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        • Well, having crumbled in the face of this adversity on numerous occasions, I have come to the following conclusion. The response of Love (within you) to Love (around you) will arise naturally within you, as a feeling, and the only role of thought will be to translate the inspiration you feel into some form through which you can express it.

          If that doesn’t happen, and we find ourselves stalled, then I think we have to fall back on the knowledge there are no “wrong” decisions. In fact, most every decision that gives us pause is a meaningless one, in the sense that the seeming choices are probably red herrings, neither one of them being a choice for surrender. So, we just choose, accept that we are moving towards Love, and try to pick up our natural speed once again. I think we want to be in the state of inspired responsiveness, not analytical debate, but if we find ourselves there, we can be at peace with our decision by knowing it can do no harm, and that every such point of indecision is our life moving us closer to the Real decision…

          Last resort… you go right and I’ll go left, and we’ll meet again on the far side… 🙂

          Michael

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  5. footloosedon says

    Another brilliant post Michael: once again I’m awestruck by the clarity of your writing. I love how the words of Jesus ring so true: It IS time and we are ready.

    Thanks as always, Don

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    • One of the comments Mari (the receiver of A Course of Love) shared with me once in a note was that many people comment on the fact that they feel A Course of Love was written specifically for them. As if Jesus was speaking directly to them. I guess since we’re all one, it’s easier than it looks! Ha! I had a similar feeling, and love that experience, too. Thanks for your presence here at the threshold.

      I am reminded of a funny story… I was in Austria a few years ago for a business trip, and a few of us went on this hike up into the hills. We saw on the map there was some kind of guest house up the mountainside somewhere, and after about two hours we found it. But it was Sunday, and there was no obvious activity, and we were kind of uncertain about how to proceed.

      So the three of us are standing on the front porch, staring at this imposing wooden door, and my friend shatters the silence with a swaggery line like, “Why don’t you be a MAN and knock on that thing.” Not exactly a statement. Not quite a question. I could never recapture the delivery, and those are probably not the exact words, but we basically repeated the line to one another for the rest of the trip.

      It was the most joyous laughter, one of those jokes that comes from somewhere else and just fits the moment like a glove. Anyway, we got in, and had a wonderful home-cooked meal… And then we took a short-cut down the mountain and probably took ten years out of our knees. That’s my parable for the night. 🙂

      Michael

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  6. Dear Michael,
    I want to comment on your work, but I feel that you are so intelectual, and I don’t always understand, so excuse me, if my comment seems little silly or child-like.

    I think we are ready, I think we don’t really need to feel ready, we just need to surrender. I talked to a friend of mine once and she said she was too scared even to think about things like, the purpose of life, or who she really was or what comes after this life. I couldn’t quite understand that, I am afraid not to think about these things. Then life for me becomes empty, and almost depressing. She said that if she thought about this it would shake her whole world, and she didn’t know what to do with herself. For me, spirituality and the unknown, is the the safest part of being human, it is the one place I can always feel loved and protected and safe. Out in the world, I feel scared many times, because so many people are so mean, and that frightens me. I have alwyas been like this. If I am by myself, I feel so much Love and Joy, but the outside world does not always, or most of the time, match my inside world, and the way I am, the way I speak and act and think, does not go well in this world, that scares me. So it is only when I return to the divine Love that I feel completely safe and joyful. But I want to share the Love and Light I have inside, I want to be a Light in the world. I feel like that is my purpose, and for me, if I don’t live from my soul I become sick and depressed. I have always been like this. Only when I was little I felt like it was something wrong with me, that I was weak and a cry-baby. I personally believe that Jesus wanted to embrace our spirituality as love, that He wanted us to learn to feel and act as a union, a union with God and each other. That there is a part of us, our essence, that is not of this world, limited by this world or resitricted by this world, that part is our spirituality, our soul, and it is this part we need to embrace and live by. For me, this happens by emotional experinece, it started as meditations which often lead to trance, now it is like this hum inside of me that is always present, that I do not need to tune into, it is just there as a gentle reminder of who I really am.

    I hope this comment is not too long, or to child-like……..I just say whatever is in my heart….hope it is okay.

    Thank you Michael for the inspiration and for your posts! 🙂 Blessings to you!

    Like

    • Line,

      Thank you for the beautiful and heartfelt reply. The comment was not too long… it was not long enough! 🙂 I relate to everything you wrote, and find myself wanting to repeat so much that you said. I think Jesus indeed loves when we share from the heart, and that this is what he desires to help us sustain and give to the world, despite its seeming challenges. This does not take an intellect, by the way, just simplicity and love.

      You know, we all have unique attributes and paths to walk, but at some point they converge. My intellect has been an incredible obstacle, (huge), and an incredible support at other times, but it leaves a unique trace through this field of Love, as does your own path and journey, which is lovely to behold. None of us are lacking anything we require, even though we all have unique “givens”, and in this way we discover who we are through one another.

      Thank you for sharing and giving your heart to the world… We are all enriched for it!

      Michael

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  7. Thank you for this tearful encounter, again, with infinity! All lives are a prelude until the choice to return is made. Sigh. What will it take for the choice to be made here. It’s made and then I pull back, over and over and over. And so I hope that one day grace will simply overwhelm me.

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    • Over and over and over… I know it. I think the key thing is that it’s okay. Perfectly so, in fact. I have this image of us wandering through the threshold, all the time keeping track of exactly where we are, then remembering something we are not quite ready to leave behind, and stepping back. Then I think of a little child who is innocently unaware of where she is, who wanders through, takes a step towards Love, then another, then another, and another… And it just never ends…

      Fasting from want I think is also fasting from tracking progress. To see with the vision of Christ, we have to put on a blindfold… 🙂

      Michael

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      • I’ve kind of stopped tracking progress too, which it not to say I am unaware of it. The reminder arises often that I am already here! Also the body is becoming a big catalyst for presence. I like the idea of stepping towards love. It reminds me of a teacher of many years back. Regarding his own journey his comment was that eventually you fall in love with the love and don’t want to return. And even as I write all this I can feel it descending deeper. Why would I turn away from the love? In this moment is seems patently absurd.
        Alison

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  8. ~meredith says

    Remember that trust thing we talked about the other day? POW! Readiness… always available, 24 hours a day. Great post.

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  9. ~meredith says

    P.S. I have no idea if I was ‘ready’ at the time, but the reply happened, anyway… and so did your response. 🙂

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    • Yes, another strong point. We are proving this to ourselves on a daily basis, aren’t we. Thank you for the witnessing to the Truth that you provide!

      Trust…

      That. Just. Happened…

      Michael

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  10. Perhaps it is my turn to make 100 copies and sprinkle them around my world. These feelings have been brewing within me, yet the words to clarify eluded me. I wondered vaguely if I would be ok, letting go of my brain so recklessly; unplugging the sink of facts and figures and current events and instead having a vast open empty space; a space where fresh water pours in, and then just as quickly, goes down the drain. Empty. Who cares? Me! Finally! I finally have the ability to care, to truly care in the present moment, and not acquire more data to stuff in my brain, to be worthy or special or deserving. As Billy Joel (my very first guru) sings, “I love you just the way you are.”

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    • You touch upon something great here, Andrea, the notion that as we hollow out, and the fresh water flows through us unimpeded, we free up the resources to truly care. I think some might say it was caring that got us bound up in knots to start with, but later we realize how dimly that version of caring represented the fuller form. Emptiness breeds an intimacy with the least of things, and the grandest of things. Reading this, I feel as though I have said my nightly prayers, and been returned to the expanded state of pure presence…

      Michael

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  11. I cut paragraph 7 from this post and tattooed the words behind my eyelids, just before the oven clock went off and I realized I didn’t need it. Jesus somehow rearranged my schedule and had me on the beach tonight, getting wind tousled, searching the horizon for what is next. What’s next is None of my G**D*** business anymore. Wow. That is quite something, surrendering into that. The homework was imaginary and I shall arrive at school empty handed, empty headed, for the first time in memory.
    How could I ever forget? I seem to always come back to this spot and wonder, why and how could I have ever forgotten? This is a most amazing post to greet me as I am washing off the sand before bed. Dumbfounded – thank you!

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    • That’s some commitment, Marga. Tattoos on the back of the eyelids. I think I might be more of a book under the pillow, or books on tape kinda’ person.

      Your beach trip sounds wonderful, searching for what you do not need, then being given the nothing that offers everything. He is very good with his deliveries. The best. Ha!

      How did any of us forget what is? How is it that we find ourselves reluctant to forget what is not? How is it that time persists, even though our hearts are floating in timelessness?

      Michael

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  12. “like a puma scratching its way out from behind the wallpaper in the den”

    The mind that would come up with such a description arrives at a level of creativity that makes my heart sing! Thank you thank you thank you for sharing and letting us on to your dance floor.

    Time in sky prevents grounded engaging at the moment. But, just wanted to acknowledge the enjoyment of the deep peeks in.

    -x.M

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    • Thank you, Maren! I had fun with that line. Someone whispered it into my ear, and I wrote it down… 🙂

      Thank you for joining in the fun! May your connecting-of-the-dots create the image of a beautiful, regal cat, who comes alive as your last leg touches down, and saunters off into the stars in search of a heavenly snack…

      Michael

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  13. thank you michael for this insightful post, it’s interesting to read this now as the issue of ‘readiness’ has surfaced a LOT for me lately. i keep thinking i need more knowledge, wisdom, training, life experience etc. to do my life’s ‘work’. but the preoccupation with ‘preparing’ holds that work at bay, when in fact the work is here, now, showing up precisely because i am ready for it. (we all are, as you say.) thanks again. aleya

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    • Yes, that’s it. The preoccupation with preparing… I know it all too well, Aleya. Thanks for sharing in the recognition of our readiness. One of my favorite parts of A Course of Love is Jesus’ suggestion that these sensations of lack and limitation are symptoms of an entire thought system, not symptoms of what is true about us. We’re so accustomed to responding to those feelings as if they are telling us the truth, “helping” us by pointing out the areas to improve, so we can become better, wholer, happier, healthier and more loving beings. But at some point we must graduate from that entire system of thought, and live what we have learned. Until we do, we occupy the previous model or mode of engaging the world, and so we keep getting those feelings of areas to improve and work on… It’s like being on auto-pilot. They’ve been real and meaningful to us for so long, it is hard to walk away. I love that Jesus is encouraging us to get on with it… Let go of the sofa or table leg, and take a baby step into reality under our own power…

      Michael

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      • wow that’s really powerful – that “these sensations of lack and limitation are symptoms of an entire thought system’. it’s true, it just becomes the norm of behaving/reacting in this world, to the point we don’t question it. i like the idea of getting on with it – using what we’ve learned instead of finding new areas to improve. we know- that search will never end if we are fixated on it!! thank you 🙂 aleya

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        • Observing this “habit” within myself is beginning to show me over time the vastness and the depth of what we have “taught” ourselves. We have been OUTSTANDING learners! Realizing that suggests the viability of turning over a new leaf… We have tremendous momentum accrued in the previous way of knowing and being. Some days changing it feels like putting your heels down on the tracks to slow a train of ten thousand locomotives. But perhaps it is simply a matter of stepping off that track, or being carried off by the wind…

          Michael

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