ACIM Lesson 235: God in His mercy wills that I be saved.

God in His mercy wills that I be saved.

I need but look upon all things that seem to hurt me, and with perfect certainty assure myself, “God wills that I be saved from this,” and merely watch them disappear. I need but keep in mind my Father’s Will for me is only happiness, to find that only happiness has come to me. And I need but remember that God’s Love surrounds His Son and keeps his sinlessness forever perfect, to be sure that I am saved and safe forever in His Arms. I am the Son He loves. And I am saved because God in His mercy wills it so.

Father, Your Holiness is mine. Your Love created me, and made my sinlessness forever part of You. I have no guilt nor sin in me, for there is none in You.

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I’ve been substituting God for “Infinite” and that’s really working for me!

What is it the Infinite will save me from?  From the belief that I am nothing more than a finite body.   There is an aspect of me that is infinite and it is this aspect that gives rise to the finite.  The finite is experientce and experiential, but it isn’t the experiencer.   The brain is a finite mass of grey matter that provides us with a means to interpret sensory experience.   We can train it through meditation and meticulous “unlearning” to become much more aware of the sensory world so that it isn’t quite as quick to put frames around the content.   But being finite, it has to put frames around content, even if the frame is very broad.

That’s where trust and faith come in and why trust or faith in some thing or idea is problematic.   Trust in an idea of God is problematic.  Trust in an interpretation of ACIM is problematic.  Trust in any religion is problematic.  That’s like glorifying the finger that points to the moon because you placed the frame around the finger and made the finger the content.   All religions and spiritual teachings are fingers pointing, they aren’t the content.    They are at most, a craft for those who can only see the finger and an art for those who know the moon.

Trust is the way beyond the frame to the content.  Faith, when understood as this sort of trust, takes it rightful place again, too.   (Faith has become incredibly dumbed down of late.)

Yes I experience these things that I perceive to hurt me.  But the “me” I refer to that is hurt is not the experiencer, it is the experience of being hurt.  I am not hurt, I have simply had an experience of hurt.   Pain is finite.  It comes and goes.

I’m not always a huge fan of Chopra but he has a way of breaking these things down.  I have this explanation in my notes on lesson 38 which I borrowed from Chopra:

There is nothing my holiness cannot do because it is not limited to the subject of the experience or the object of the experience or even the process of interaction between the subject and object. My holiness is the potential for the whole thing!!! Infinite potentiality. You are neither the subject, nor the object, nor the process of interaction between subject and object, but the potential for the whole thing.

In a discussion between Robert Thurman and Deepak Chopra on “God”, Chopra says this:

The mechanics of the dream and the mechanics of the waking state of consciousness is exactly the same. One has been given a rationalization and the other has not. It is the karmic software that is appearing in your consciousness that you make stories out of. You get so caught up in the drama of the stories that you forget who you are. The only way to come out of this “tangled hierarchy” (the seer has become lost in the scenery) is to recognize the experiencer. The first step out of the drama is to realize no matter what you are doing, you are not doing it. God does everything. We are the mechanism through which the divine intelligence is working. The second is through devotion/love. The third meditation (silence). And the fourth, using the intellect to go beyond the intellect/rational mind.

That last line I think is what ACIM is about.  We are expanding the frame which allows us to see more of the content.  And the more of the content we become aware of, the more we are able to trust that there is content that is not in our conscious awareness.  We become fully aware of the limits of our awareness which allows us to transcend that which creates the frame.

Nietzsche & ACIM – Kenneth Wapnick

I’ve been listening to bits and pieces of Wapnick’s lecture on Nietzsche & ACIM since the beginning of the year and finally listened to all of it on a road trip to Dallas a few weeks ago.

He compares Nietzsche’s three metamorphosis with ACIM’s stages of the Development of Trust (Manual for Teachers, Chapter 4) and other teachings within ACIM. It’s very interesting. I’m not always sure I agree with how he has interpreted Nietzsche’s stage (especially the Child stage), but for the most part, his understanding works with my own.

Wapnick claims ACIM is an atheism. He says that the Jesus of ACIM is likewise an atheist because any God we could possibly conceive of doesn’t exist. God is beyond any image or idea we could possibly have.

Wapnick says that ACIM primarily discusses Nietzsche’s Lion stage and does not discuss Nietzsche’s Camel stage because it assumes we have already made it through that stage. ACIM assumes we have successfully gone through the dutiful stage so have fully recognized ourselves as an ego. We’ve said “yes” to the world and we now realize the world is a desert. We cannot transcend what it is we haven’t accepted so if we haven’t fully accepted our ego, then any attempt to study ACIM will be disastrous. A certain psychological maturity must be reached before we undertake ACIM teaching, otherwise, we’ll forever be claiming “the world doesn’t exist” as a means to deny the ego rather than to accept it.

I really appreciate this because I remember going to ACIM study groups and being appalled by what several of the members were claiming. There was a standard question that was frequently asked – if you stand in front of an 18 wheeler and believe you won’t get run over, does that mean you won’t get run over? Several said this was true. Others said that it wasn’t. But the bigger question is this: Why ask such questions in the first place? According to Wapnick, that’s psychotic and proof you haven’t yet made it through the Camel stage!

We have a physical body that is subject to physical laws. What ACIM teaches is not a way to make our physical body transcend the physical laws. It teaches us a way to change our thoughts about ourselves. It’s psychologically based, not physically based. There is a mind/body connection so when we change our mind, we very often change our attitudes toward our body, too which can change our physical circumstances. But to want to somehow make our bodies immune to physical laws is based on fear, not acceptance or love. It’s to be stuck in the Camel stage.

We must first say “yes” to the world. The Camel stage is the “yay-saying” stage. It is only once we have been somewhat successful in the world and somewhat pyschologically balanced that we can begin to say “no” to the world. That’s the lion stage. The “nay-saying” stage”. We come to realize that everything that the world told us was true was actually false. But we can’t understand this if we never accepted it in the first place. We have to fully go through the Camel stage first otherwise we will be forever stuck in the Camel stage without realizing it.

The lion lives in the desert. Nothing physical has changed, what has changed is our understanding. Psychologically, the world is now a desert. Everything that once had meaning for us no longer holds that meaning. We must slay the dragon. We think the dragon is a treasure because it has a thousand golden scales that distract us. So we begin to slay those scales one by one and realize, the thousand scales are only one. And when we realize this, there is no need to slay the one scale because we recognize the illusion. When Zorathustra reached this stage, he sang and he danced. That’s the appropriate response. We can’t slay the ego because it doesn’t exist. We have to see it for what it is so that we can transcend it.

Wapnick equates the Child stage with Enlightenment (I guess). He kept saying that Nietzsche never got “there”, but I’m not sure where “there” is supposed to be. I don’t think Nietzsche saw the Child stage as an end destination and this is what I liked so much about Nietzsche’s three metamorphosis. It’s a never ending cycle. We go through the camel stage, we slay the dragon, we return to the innocence of a child, and the cycle continues over again. There is no end destination. No place to arrive. No beginning or end.

To me, that is always the problem with spirituality – that we go through all of this in order to achieve something like enlightenment. In Buddhism, the desire to be enlightened is egoic and is yet another scale that must be slain. To do in order to get misses the point.

There is something kind of tricky about individuality that Nietzsche, ACIM and Buddhism all point to. When you hear Wapnick talk about Nietzsche, it sounds almost as though he is saying give up your individuality. But Nietzsche (as all Existentialism) is pro-individuality. We Americans tend to think of ourselves as individualists and we are, in a sense,  in that we demand and obtain what we want because we think we are entitled. But we are still heavily driven by herd mentality. Our public schools are primarily geared to teaching our children to become active consumers and producers which makes marketing extremely effective in the U.S. Creative individuals are very often outcasts. They exist on the fringe of society unless they can figure out a way to successfully mass produce their creativity to mainstream America. And of course, as soon as it is mass produced, it’s part of the herd mentality and no longer creative in the individualistic sense.

ACIM, Buddhism and Nietzsche all say we need to get to a point where we can see the world for what it is – basically a narcissistic hall of mirrors driven by the ego. But until we are able to fully recognize ourselves as individuals (which requires being able to see the other as truly “other”); until we are able to fully appreciate our “God given” talents and personal creative abilities, we’ll have difficulty even recognizing that we have an ego. So while it seems ACIM and Buddhism suggest that we get rid of our individuality in favor of some sort of universal, that is not what either is saying at all.

It is true that in Buddhism, there is no indivisible thing. We can only ever truly know ourselves through others. As Robert Thurman says, if there was an individual that was the real you, not only would you not be individualistic, you wouldn’t even be there because in order to be there you have to be related. But if there was a part of you that was non-relational, then you couldn’t relate to other individuals. You couldn’t exist. Only because you are infinitely divisible are you nothing more than your infinite connections. We are entirely responsible for our part of the interconnectedness. Therefore, every individual is the supreme purpose of the life of the whole. In that way the whole flourishes individual by individual. This flourishing of the whole individual by individual is what Nietzsche is talking about!

What individual talents do we have to offer the whole? What projects bring us the most joy? The stuff of the world isn’t what brings us joy, it’s our passionate engagement in the world that brings us joy. But passionate engagement is very difficult to come by if we are driven by nothing more than egoic desire.

Thomas Jefferson wrote of future U.S. generations: “Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic. But will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the path of destruction.”

Freedom isn’t the ability to do whatever it is we want to do or buy what it is we want to buy. That’s a belief in entitlement and has nothing to do with freedom at all. As Goethe said, “None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free.”

I’ve been simultaneously listening to Solomon’s lectures on Nietzsche and one thing that really struck me was the idea of “will”. Will to power is not about having power over others, it’s about having the courage to live an authentic life. Really, that is what ACIM is saying when it says we need to let go of the ego so we can accept the will of God’s as our own. The values of the world drive us to be something that we are not because we conform to expectations – our own and others. We aren’t open to possibility or to who it is we truly are because that’s a scary and vulnerable proposition. We’re afraid of being punished through solitude. But Nietzsche says it is important to get over our fear of solitude so that we can live a passionate life. And the way to live a passionate life is to be open to our talents and what moves us as individuals rather than what is expected of us socially.

Just a few other thoughts…

Nietzsche’s idea about romantic love is very similar to that of ACIM. He wants us to look at what motivates us. And if you look at romantic love, it’s all about asserting our power over another. It’s very selfish. It isn’t love. ACIM calls it a special relationship as opposed to a holy relationship.

Nietzsche wanted to get rid of guilt and sin. Guilt and sin are metaphysical. So is the concept of evil which ties them together. It’s not just a function of human projection. Guilt and sin are perceived as essential features of the world. Guilt, in particular, is understood as an acquired property of the soul. It’s a metaphysical blemish. Take this with the idea of Original Sin and what it says is that we all have blemished souls. Nietzsche doesn’t think we are perfect, but he says we should not accept the idea that we are flawed from the outset (St. Augustine?). The idea that we are guilty in some sort of fundamental way is something he totally rejects. He has the same attitude toward sin.

To me, this is likewise very ACIM. Both Nietzsche and ACIM reject the notion of evil as it is attached to metaphysics, theology or as a set of absolute values.

Thoughts on Infinite Potential, Original Sin and Western Idealism

Hubert Dreyfus described Dostoevsky’s use of the term God as infinite potential. This likewise seems to be how the term is used in ACIM and much of Hinduism. It’s also the understanding within Buddhism which doesn’t use the term God, but according to Robert Thurman, it would be accurate to describe Buddhist Nothingness as infinite potentiality.

We are completely responsible for what it is we create/experience within this infinite potential. If you wish to transform yourself into a thing of infinite love and infinite beauty, you can do that because there is no limit to the ways in which we evolve. The danger, of course, is that if you can evolve into a thing of infinite beauty, the negative is also possible. Our fate is in our hands, not because there is a supreme being who will punish us for doing the wrong thing, but because there are no limits beyond the ones we create surrounding our evolutionary ability. Sartre says we are condemned to freedom which is a really negative way of saying that freedom requires responsibility. Perhaps Sartre is in bad faith by thinking of it in this way since the idea of condemnation is a potential obstruction to our recognition of total freedom? What is it that makes us think of freedom as a condemnation? Western Idealism based on Western Christianity.

The idea of Original Sin came about through the story of Adam and Eve. But this is sort of curious because no where in the story is the term “sin” used. In fact, Judaism emphatically rejects Original sin and man as fallen. St. Paul, a Helenized Jew, introduced the idea to Christianity in Romans: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned – sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law.” (Romans 5:12-13, NRSV). It is significant that Paul was Helenized because what he was doing was reinterpreting a Jewish text in Greek terms.

In Greco/Roman thought, the universal is higher than the individual. Being an individual is not important. What is important is obedience to the highest good. But in Judaism, the individual is higher than the universal. Truth is local and historical and is arrived at through individual commitment. The emphasis in Judaism is on individual responsibility, not faith to a higher universal.

Rabbi Kushner says if there was to be an original sin in Judaism, it wouldn’t be that Adam and Eve disobeyed God, it would be the fact that they tried to pass off their individual responsibility – Adam by blaming Eve and Eve by blaming the serpent. (The word “sin” first shows up in Judaism in the story of Cain and Abel and is used in connection with Cain blaming his “fate” on Abel.) The death we experience is based upon self-consciousness. When Adam and Eve ate the apple, they became aware of “good and evil” which signifies the pairing of opposites from which identity as a separate self arises. The punishment is separation which is a result of individual choice and perception. It’s not a universal condemnation as understood by Paul.

But even Paul’s universal condemnation isn’t so bad if seen in terms of the continuation of a pattern – a tendency to sin that has been passed down to us by previous generations. This is how it was understood in early Eastern Christianity. It is simply the first sin like the first car is the first car – it has an influence on the present. The introduction of the first car has brought about a change in the way we experience the world, so did the first sin. The introduction of sin brings with it the tendency to sin and the introduction of a good act brings with it the tendency to do good. Humanity is not condemned to anything it can’t overcome on its own accord. It is not condemned to a prior definition.

But in the late 4th century, St. Augustine, who attempted to Platonize all Christian terms (one of the first major attempts to fully merge the absolutes of Greek thought with the individualism of Judeo-Christian thought), determined that humanity is condemned to sin because all of humanity took part in the sin of Adam. See the universals working here? The individual doesn’t matter. If it happened to Adam, then it happened to humanity. Rather than humanity being understood as having a tendency to sin, humanity is understood as sinful. Augustine thought that even a baby who wasn’t baptised would go to Hell because the baby was born sinful. The church later relaxed it’s stance on this thinking, but you get the idea. Man is born sinful and can only redeem himself through obedience to the church. This thinking (the Fall of Man theory) was widely accepted within Western Christianity (Roman Catholicism) and became extremely popular during the Middle Ages when Greek ideas were being translated into Latin. To overcome Original Sin, humanity was required to offer his faith in God and obedience to the Roman Catholic Church. Eventually he would be saved from his condemned state by getting to go to an other-worldly heaven.

Original Sin was heavily adopted by Protestantism in the 16th century. The Protestant interpretation made man even more guilty than did the Roman Catholic interpretation. Unlike Roman Catholicism, obedience to church was not necessary for salvation. Salvation required an individual response: a profession of belief, often based on John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever shall believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

To understand God as the Infinite Potential in which man freely creates doesn’t register within the understanding of a Fallen Man whose freedom has been compromised by Adam. We can only be saved from our fallen state through faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior who died for our sins or obedience to the church. When I was growing up, the Protestants thought the Catholics were condemned to Hell because they weren’t Protestant and the Catholics thought the Protestants were condemned to Hell because they weren’t Catholic. Since then, Protestantism has become more Catholic and Catholicism has become more Protestant.

But it still seems that Dostoevsky’s Ivan Karamazov was absolutely correct in his story of the Grand Inquisitor to show that these two views are irreconcilable, unattainable ideals. As Charles B. Guignon explains, the Inquisitor is Roman Catholicism and Jesus is Protestanism . Both represent the encroaching idealism of modern society (whether religious or not). Roman Catholics are dedicated to achieving happiness for all while Protestantism stresses the dignity and well-being of the individual. The conundrum Ivan presents is this: Either we follow the Catholic dream of happiness and peace for all in a vast totalitarian state and abandon our desire for freedom and dignity (turning people into slaves), or we accept the Protestant demand of individual freedom and responsibility without worldly supports and condemn the vast majority of humanity to a life of abject misery in a war of all against all. There is no way out of it.

But notice – this conundrum is based specifically on ideals that have come out of the West. The conundrum doesn’t exist within Eastern Christianity or other Eastern traditions. Or, at least it didn’t until the 17th century when Western idealism started creeping in to Eastern thought.

According to Dostoevsky, Eastern Christianity has a completely different understanding of Christ. The image of Christ shows us that we should embrace our concrete being on earth, with all its suffering and joys, without trying to be more than what we are. This, we do, in the spirit of interconnectedness and with the understanding that we exist within Infinite Potential. We are not condemned to our humanity or to our freedom!!! We have creative power within Infinite Potential to influence our evolution.

Guignon points out that Ivan’s dilemma only works if we assume that humans are fundamentally isolated individuals (Fallen). From the standpoint of a primordial sense of the connectedness of life, the Western image of fallen isolated individuals motivated only by self-interest is a deformation of human nature, and not at all a truth about who it is we are.

This follows on my post from yesterday about Gratitude. I’m still trying to imagine Sisyphus grateful: “Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart” could potentially be gratitude.

Sisyphus’s enjoyment was based on taking advantage of others. He was avaricious, murderous, deceitful, power hungry, hubristic, and crafty. Those sorts of characteristics do tend to isolate us from others rather than connect us. And of course all of us are guilty of these sorts of passions to some extent. If we don’t actually commit murder, perhaps we have wished someone dead and if not dead, maybe just out of the way. But what, exactly, does Sisyphus’s punishment represent? I get that it represents the Absurd and I agree that it is representative of the present state of Western idealism. But, from the standpoint of a primordial sense of connectedness of life, does Sisyphus represent the truth of humanity or a deformation of nature?

I don’t have an answer for that right now.

What has bothered me all along is that Camus’ example relies upon the idea of Original Sin. Sisyphus bares the human guilt of passion and therefore must suffer. The greater the passion the greater the suffering so Sisyphus gets a doozie! Because Sisyphus is so passionate, if Sisyphus can overcome his despair, then anyone can. ” You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is,as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing.” Is this not the spitting image of Original Sin?

I can’t help but think that what Camus is saying is that we have the ability to be happy despite being human and that bothers me. But at the same time, what we can’t imagine we can’t achieve and maybe this is what Camus means by saying “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” But then again, I totally agree with Kierkegaard – we can only be an individual through our recognition of “the other”. Robert Thurman says, if there was an individual that was the real you, not only would you not be individualistic, you wouldn’t even be there because in order to be there you have to be related. But if there was a part of you that was non-relational, then you couldn’t relate to other individuals. You couldn’t exist. [Hell may be other people (as Sartre says), but it is also a requirement of existence.] If we are an individualistic society, then the highest purpose of the collective is the individual purpose of all of us. Society’s purpose is to bring each of us to our highest potential.

Has Sisyphus achieved his individual potential? Does Sisyphus care at all about the happiness of others? Or is his only concern his own individual happiness?

I don’t know. This is one of those infinite loops for me. I have a feeling about it, but I can’t intellectually confirm it. I think part of the problem is that while I don’t particularly like Sisyphus, I do like Camus.

Not on Our Watch

I have been referring to Not on Our Watch by Don Cheadle and John Prendergast for the past several weeks. I have finally finished the book and am quite glad to have read it. I must admit after watching all of these films on the complicated matters going on in Africa, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But Not on Our Watch lays out very easy guidelines to start getting involved. We don’t all have to be peace activists to do something.

Even if we just write a letter to the president or our congressman, that helps. This is extremely easy to do. There are links providing pre-written letters ready to be edited, filled in and e-mailed to the President and to Congress at Enough!. SaveDarfur.org has a link that makes it very easy to write the editors of our local newspapers here. BeAWitness.org has a link here that makes it easy to tell TV networks to devote more airtime to genocide. (During June 2005, CNN, FOXNews, NBC/MSNBC, ABC, and CBS ran 50 times as many stories about Michael Jackson and 12 times as many stories about Tom Cruise as they did about the genocide in Darfur.)

Other things we can do are raise awareness which of course means we must be aware ourselves. There is so much information out there. Here are a few Cheadle and Prendergast recommend for getting informed:

Also, watch The Devil Came on Horseback, a fantastic introduction to the issues that are going on in Darfur and the need to make people aware of what is happening.

They also recommend playing Darfur is Dying. I sent this link to both of my kids. I don’t know if my son has even seen it yet, but my daughter has forwarded it to some of her friends and has also posted the link to the game on her dream at Furcadia. Several people have played it and responded that they want to do something. It’s definitely an effective game. My daughter and I are going to take some time to learn more together and to figure out a way she can organize the people who want to help. Raising awareness is not difficult in this day and age! And it seems kids tend to be natural activists. They haven’t yet grown indifferent. (Although my daughter is actually online as I right this arguing with someone who says they can’t do anything about Darfur.)

We can sign a petition to show we care. We can raise funds. We can call for divestment. We can make people aware that China is a big part of the problem in Darfur. China is hosting the Olympic games this year and we can urge China to help bring the crisis to an end. (It made news on Wednesday that Stephen Spielberg has quit as artistic adviser for the Olympic games because of China’s close ties to the killing and displacement of people in Darfur – which is now spilling into Chad.) Almost any of the links I’ve posted here refer to hundreds more. It’s easy to get involved.

There are four obstacles that Prendergast and Cheadle call the Four Horsemen Enabling the Apocalypse: apathy, indifference, ignorance, and inertia. We can’t let apathy, indifference, ignorance and inertia win because there are millions of lives at stake and will likely be millions more in the future.

Besides reading this book, I have been watching several films on the issues going on in Africa. The only thing in the book I potentially disagree with, but I’m not 100% sure yet, is that John Prendergast says we need to get over our resistance to using military force in these situations.

I’ve been wondering a lot about the use of force. Robert Thurman says the Dalai Lama provides an alternative solution. Tibet has been through similar atrocities and the Dalai Lama must live in exile. Yet he maintains that forgiveness is the way and remains peaceful. The decision to be peaceful and not to maintain a military army was made centuries ago in Tibet. He is not without critics, however.

It does seem somewhat illogical to think we can end violence with violence. Can that really work? As Einstein said, you can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it in the first place. And as Prendergast cautions, this violence must be used with prudence because force very often makes things worse. So how can you know if you are being prudent if you are on the outside looking in? There is no way to know which violence is going to make things better and which isn’t. Chances are, if it makes things temporarily better, it will come back with a vengeance later.

But no matter. I think Sartre is right. Doing nothing is still doing something. It has an affect. We all must act from where it is we are at and do what it is we can.

ACIM Lesson 38: There is nothing my holiness cannot do.

Williamson’s written blurb: Through the power of your thinking, you can transcend all limitations of the world. Through the power of your holiness, you can transform all situations. Through the power of your love, you can cast out all fear.

ACIM: Your holiness reverses all the laws of the world. It is beyond every restriction of time, space, distance and limits of any kind. Your holiness is totally unlimited in its power because it establishes you as a Son of God, at one with the Mind of his Creator.

This is making so much more sense to me now! I’ve been a student of ACIM on and off since before my daughter was born in 1995. I was pregnant with her when I joined my first ACIM study group and had her just before we moved to California and away from my nice little group. I’ve done Lessons 1-150 three times and have done the first 50 more than I can count. I’ve understood them differently every time. There is so much depth in them!!

What I keep thinking about recently is from a conversation between Robert Thurman and Deepak Chopra which I took posted about a few days ago.

I wrote this on a previous lesson and it keeps sticking with me. Chopra says that in physics, the subject of experience and the object of experience co-arise simultaneously moment by moment from a transcendent domain which is beyond both space and time. You are neither the subject, nor the object, nor the process of interaction between subject and object, but the potential for the whole thing.

We are the potential for the whole thing!!!! That is just so huge for me right now. It’s bursting my head. There is nothing my holiness cannot do because it is not limited to the subject of the experience or the object of the experience or even the process of interaction between the subject and object. My holiness is the potential for the whole thing!!! Infinite potentiality.

OK – so what does it mean “my holiness reverses the laws of the world”? I immediately think of the Sermon on the Mount – Jesus tells the crowd that the Kingdom of God turns the Kingdom of Rome on it’s head. What is considered powerful in a human kingdom (oppression, power over others, hoarding of material wealth, etc.) are seen for what they are when one realizes that the Kingdom of God (Heaven) is here now. The Kingdom of Rome and the values it represents are effects of fear. It’s a matter of perception – not a matter of dying and going to heaven (although it is, in a sense, a matter of allowing the ego to “die” .) It isn’t about supernaturalism, either. It’s simply a broader perspective of who it is we are. As Chopra says, there is only one witness and the whole universe is an expression of that witness.

There is nothing my holiness cannot do because the power of God lies in it.

ACIM Lesson 37: My holiness blesses the world.

Williamson hasn’t been commenting on the lessons lately – just reading them. But there are little blurbs on the written portion of the lessons. Today’s blurb says:

With Lesson 37, you begin to realize who you truly are and why you are here. You are here to bless the world, experiencing your own holiness and sharing it with the world. As your mind is trained to remember your holiness, you share the gift of this reality with everyone you see or even think of.

I guess I can make this work but I have to do some mental somersaults. After the somersaults, I end up back in the same place. If we created our perceptions of the world we see through our egoic minds, then why would there likewise be a purpose to our being here ? To bless it? That never makes any sense to me because it seems like circular logic. But maybe that is all we are left with when trying to make sense of our being within the constraints of western language.

I’ve been reading Robert Thurman’s Inner Revolution. I’m not sure he would disagree with Williamson’s take on this lesson, but he certainly wouldn’t say it in this way. I’m not sure, but I think what he’d say is that there is no purpose to our being here. We are here. And because we are here, we might as well make the best of our evolutionary process.

He gave an interesting example – I’ve heard it before, but for some reason it didn’t sink in at the time. He was talking about how we take it for granted that radio patterns can sit out there unintelligible until they are unscrambled through some sort of device. Why is it we think that human’s can’t do the same thing? Perhaps our thoughts are transmitted as patterns that are picked up through the neurons of others. If that’s true, then what we think truly does matter and it makes a lot of sense to train our brains to have the best influence on our world we possibly can. This isn’t necessarily our purpose or reason for being, but it is within our capability. It is our potential.

ACIM: This idea contains the first glimmerings of your true function in the world, or why you are here. Your purpose is to see the world through your own holiness. Thus are you and the world blessed together. No one loses; nothing is taken away from anyone; everyone gains through your holy vision. It signifies the end of sacrifice because it offers everyone his full due. And he is entitled to everything because it is his birthright as a Son of God.

So, if we are holy, then what other function could we have than to be holy. There is nothing we can do but bless the world. So our purpose isn’t really the dualistic idea of blessing the world, as Williamson says. It is to see the world through our own holiness because we are whole. Our being is holy because we are one with all that is.

ACIM: Your holiness is the salvation of the world. It lets you teach the world that it is one with you, not by preaching to it, not by telling it anything, but merely by your quiet recognition that in your holiness are all things blessed along with you.

If we were to recognize our holiness (our wholeness), this would have an affect on others. That, I think, is the problem with the progressive Christian focus on the historical Jesus. It focuses on Jesus’ radical justice. But it doesn’t place as much emphasis on what allowed him to have that radical justice. It focuses on the secular reasons why Jesus would have influenced those around him, but pays little attention to the power that the inner revolution of an individual creates in the world.

We are whole, we are one with everything that is, we are holy. How we perceive ourselves and what we perceive ourselves to be affect the perception of others and how they view themselves as well.

Mulholland Dr. (2001)

The current movie for the Analogical Imagination Group is Mulholland Dr. These are just my jumbled thoughts on the film.

This is a SPOILER WARNING!! Only read this if you’ve already seen the movie. If you have any plans at all to watch it, I highly suggest you watch it without any preconceived ideas about it because I seriously think there are probably as many interpretations as there are people which is why I LOVE it so much! If David Lynch were to say – here is what it meant – that would completely destroy the quality of the film for me. I don’t think it is logical, but it does seem to have a sound structure so seems worth puzzling through some of it – especially Lynch’s clues Kristen provided.

SPOILER WARNING!! SPOILER WARNING!! SPOILER WARNING!!

Diane is far too young to have been part of a jitterbug contest. And the opening scene doesn’t seem like a bunch of people in the 1990s doing the jitterbug, it seems like a bunch of people in the 1950s doing the jitterbug. I don’t have an answer to this, I just wonder – Why a jitterbug contest? And how does winning a jitterbug contest lead to acting? Is this a reference to a more naive time?

The first sequence seems to be a movie Diane has constructed and she’s cast all kinds of characters that she has seen elsewhere. I could find most of them in the “awake” sequence. The scene after Betty arrives in LA feels like watching a film from the 1950s where everyone is just way too perky and everything is oh so wonderful. Except – the old couple has the plastic smile that turns into something knowing and sinister once they are in the car alone. So you know it isn’t as perky as it is being made out to be. Strange that Diane would dream that into her dream, though. Maybe her relatives had been abusive? Probably a stretch but you wonder how someone becomes as psychotic as Diane. It could easily be the disappointments of Hollywood dreams, but what makes people dream those sorts of dreams in the first place?

It’s all dreams inside of dreams.

I think I missed what was going on with the man in back of Winkies. I’m not sure what it is we were supposed to notice other than the obvious – that he puts the blue box in a bag and according to the bizarre guy who had had two dreams about that Winkies, he’s supposed to be controlling all of the fear everyone feels. And the other connection is the blue key. Diane asks the hit man what it opens and he just laughs – I guess because it doesn’t open anything? It’s a symbol of the opposite – that someone is dead (something has died). Rita’s blue key opens the box – but there is nothing in it. It’s empty. So maybe the homeless man behind Winkies represents the emptiness of Hollywood dreams?

One of the clues on Kristen’s list (from David Lynch) is who gives keys to whom (or something like that). Rita’s key shows up in her purse and Diane’s key shows up on her table. We assume the hit man has given Diane the key, but he could have someone else deliver it. So really, the only person I noticed giving anybody a key was Cocoa giving Betty a key. Is that significant? Cocoa, in reality, is Adam’s mother. She clearly doesn’t seem to approve of Adam’s marriage to Camilla and gives Diane that sort of knowing pat on the hand which is humiliating to watch so must be humiliating for Diane. There must be a lot of kinky stuff going on with Adam and Camilla because she very seductively kisses the “dream” Camilla in front of both Adam and Diane. And it seems that Adam and Camilla are intentionally taunting Diane. Very confusing and very mean.

Is there any significance to Betty and Rita saying they are going to call the police, just to see if there was an accident on Mulholland Drive? It was very intentionally said. Is this connected to the botched hit scene where they are laughing about an accident? I didn’t get why Diane would dream that into her dream.

There is all of this talk of being in a dreamland and “you can imagine how I feel” and Billy Ray Cyrrus says to Adam when he catches him with his wife in bed, “Just pretend you didn’t see anything – it’s better that way.” As long as you pretend it doesn’t matter, then it doesn’t matter? All pretense, all dreams, illusions which Club Silencio points out. I so LOVE that scene!! That’s the most realistic part of the whole movie in a way. We are dragged into a reality and then shocked with it’s unreality. Which is when the blue box is discovered and the Cowboy comes in to say “wake up” to whoever it is that is sleeping on the bed. Whoever it is, it is Diane that we actually see wake up in her gray gown.

In the beginning of the film when the mafia guys are calling each other and the guy with the yellow phone makes a call to the black phone by the red lampshade – we later learn that is Diane’s apartment. So that’s kind of weird. They are calling to say the girl is still missing. So that’s probably Diane’s secret hope? That Camilla does somehow manage to escape the hitman?

I loved the Cowboy and the corral – especially after just having read Thus Spoke Zarathustra. It’s that whole herd mentality. Go rope Adam in, corral him, and get him to do what it is you want him to do. If you do good, you’ll see him once. If you do bad, you’ll see him twice. Of course, turns out he is Adams friend in reality – at least he is at Adam’s party. But we see him two more times. I loved this: “Man’s attitude goes some ways, the ways his life will be. Is this something with which you agree?” Adam off-handedly answers yes (or sure). The cowboy then asks “Because I wanted to hear that answer? Or because you agree with what I said?” Adam says it is because he agrees with what he said. So the Cowboy says – “what did I say”. Adam says “A man’s attitude determines to a large degree the way his life will be.” The Cowboy replies, “Well, sense you agree you must be a person who does not care about the good life.” Adam says, “How’s that?” And he never really gets an answer except to be told that he has to change his attitude to get on the Cowboy’s buggy if he wants to go along for the ride. Which means, I suppose, that he has to do as he is told if he wants the good life? Adam gives into the Italian brothers and his life becomes “good” again. In the dream world, he ends up casting Camilla even though he apparently wants Betty. In the real world, he ends up getting engaged to Camilla and taunting Diane with it.

I also thought the audition scene was fascinating. The Director is Bob Brooker (I think?) who seems totally incompetent. He gives some crazy advice: Don’t play for real until it gets real. And don’t rush the line, “before what”. Everyone roles their eyes because Bob is clearly crazy. Woody tells him, “Acting is reacting – I just play off them. And turns to Betty and says – you don’t rush it, I won’t rush it.” I think this must have some significance, but I’m not exactly sure what. I caught the fact that Camilla played the lead role in Sylvia North which was directed by Bob Brooker and Diane tried out for the lead, too. So the whole Italian brothers Maffia thing is about Camilla getting a role she doesn’t deserve that Diane believes should have been hers. That was one of the clues in Kristen’s list – does Camilla get her roles because of her talent? That’s hard to say. But the mother clearly seems to think Camilla does not deserve Adam so it probably has more to do with being able to manipulate people than it has to do with talent.

I asked a couple of questions on Kristen’s post. Is there any significance beyond allowing us to understand that Diane has been missing (and later that Betty is Diane) that the woman in Apt. 12 switched apartments with Diane? What was the significance of the botched hit? I think I asked something else but I don’t remember what. Maybe I already included it here.

Anyway, my cryptic thoughts for what they are worth. I’m not even sure the reality is reality. I’m a little thrown off by the person who is actually in the bed because it seems it must be that person who is having the dream and it isn’t clearly Diane.

But the whole movie is like that. You can’t be certain of anything. It’s just like a dream where people take on different persona’s, time periods merge into each other, the time sequences are out of order and jumping all over the place. You see recurring themes that you can easily make out while you are watching the movie but as soon as you try and understand it, they don’t really make sense anymore.

Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic movie. I absolutely loved it.

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I watched Mulholland Dr. one more time before I took it back to Blockbuster, read through Alan Shaw’s analysis of Lynch’s 10 clues that Kristen posted which helped, and learned a little more about David Lynch at his Myspace.

Turns out he’s been into Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s TM for 30 years and has been meditating at least 20 minutes twice a day for that long. He is very involved in bringing TM to various communities like students with ADHD, school violence, etc. (See The David Lynch Foundation). It is during TM that the mind is said to reach it’s most quiet state (transcendental consciousness).

Here is Maharishi’s seven major stages of consciousness:

  • Dreamless sleeping state of consciousness
  • Dreaming state of consciousness (REM)
  • Waking state of consciousness
  • Transcendental Consciousness, said to be a fourth major state of consciousness, distinct from waking, sleeping or dreaming. According to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, thought becomes increasingly subtle, until the finest level of thought is reached. From there the mind can further experience the source of thought, or transcend thought, and is no longer bound by thoughts or perceptions but experiences awareness awake to itself alone.This state is said to be an experience of “am-ness”, or “Being”, the unbounded pure consciousness that is at the source of thoughts and feelings. Maharishi calls this state Transcendental Consciousness, and has said that Transcendental Consciousness is experienced via dhyana, a Sanskrit term which he equates with Transcendental Meditation. While dhyana is often characterized as involving concentration or contemplation, Transcendental Meditation, according to Maharishi, makes use of the “natural, expansive response of the mind.” Maharishi notes that concentration is a mistranslation of dhyana and that meditation that uses concentration can result in a failure to transcend.
  • Cosmic Consciousness, the fifth state, is said to be the state of “enlightenment” which results from alternating the experience of Transcendental Consciousness and activity in our daily lives. Through repeated practice, the non-changing state of Being in TC becomes permanently maintained along with waking, sleeping and dreaming. This all-inclusive state – “cosmic” – is marked by a peaceful, non-changing restful state inside while one is actively engaged in the constant change which occurs in life.
  • God Consciousness is said to be the state where the unbounded awareness of Cosmic Consciousness is accompanied by refined sensory perception during waking, sleeping and dreaming – where the full range and mechanics of creation are appreciated at a sublime, subtle level. This perception leads to a devotion and love for creation and its creator.
  • Unity Consciousness, the seventh state, is said to be the perception that all aspects of life are nothing but expressions of Being, or pure consciousness. All of the diversity in life, from the gross to the subtle, is seen as the self-interacting dynamics of Being. The outer and inner realities of life are bridged in Unity Consciousness. One sees the Self in all aspects of creation.

Deepak Chopra, also a student of Maharishi, explains it this way:

There are actually seven states of awareness. Deep sleep is the first; dreaming is the second; then the third stage is waking; the forth stage is meditation; the fifth is called cosmic consciousness, which is when you have that internal experience of meditation in deep sleep, dreaming, and waking, so you are established in that state even while in action. Then beyond cosmic consciousness is the sixth stage of consciousness which is God consciousness, where you become aware of the spirit in the objects of your perception. So you look at a flower and you can feel the presence of divinity within it. Or you look at a telephone or a table or a shoe and you can feel the presence of the infinite in it. The infinite is everywhere. And the seventh stage is the ever present witnessing awareness in the object of experience. They fuse and become one, and when that happens then you experience enlightenment–you see the whole world as an expression of yourself and you see that the ground of your being is also the ground of all existence.

I watched God and Buddha (a discussion between Robert Thurman and Deepak Chopra) and Chopra said this about the waking and dreaming states:

The mechanics of the dream and the mechanics of the waking state of consciousness is exactly the same. One has been given a rationalization and the other has not. It is the karmic software that is appearing in your consciousness that you make stories out of. You get so caught up in the drama of the stories that you forget who you are. The only way to come out of this “tangled hierarchy” (the seer has become lost in the scenery) is to recognize the experiencer. The first step out of the drama is to realize no matter what you are doing, you are not doing it. God does everything. We are the mechanism through which the divine intelligence is working. The second is through devotion/love. The third meditation (silence). And the fourth, using the intellect to go beyond the intellect/rational mind.

So it would seem that the viewer of Mulholland Drive is the experiencer. We are the seer and we’ve become lost in the scenery. Perhaps Silencio is a call to wake up from our own waking state.

Carl Jung said that all of the characters in our dreams are in actuality, ourselves. In a sense, this is true in our waking state, too. We project our beliefs, experience, etc. onto others rather than seeing them as they are.

When I went back through and watched Mulholland Dr. this last time, the story made a lot more sense thinking in terms of the characters being a projection of Diane’s experience. At first I was kind of skeptical of Alan Shaw saying she had been sexually abused, but it makes a lot of sense when you think about the scenes in her dream.

I figured out the gown dilemma. The corpse in Diane’s dream is wearing a black gown. The “awake” Diane is wearing a gray gown. So when the Cowboy knocks on the door and says “wake up pretty girl”, that’s still a part of the dream and he’s saying it to the Diane in Diane’s dream who is presumably already dead. Maybe what that signifies is that the identity Diane had associated with the Hollywood dream is dead. (In a sense, Camilla in the “awake” scene, represents that Hollywood identity. In the “dream” scene, Camilla is an aspect of Diane.) And in another sense, these characters are all aspects of the viewer (as the experiencer of the film), too.

OK – I know this is already really long, but I want to write this down for the next time I watch the movie (which won’t be anytime soon). These are based on Alan Shaw’s analysis of Lynch’s 10 Clues:

Clue 1) I couldn’t figure out why Alan Shaw would have been so certain the older people are Diane’s grandparents, but apparently this is what David Lynch called them in the screenplay for the pilot.

Clue 3) I’m not sure I agree with Alan Shaw’s analysis of the third clue. I think when Adam is asked “to keep an open mind”, they mean the opposite. An open mind is open to infinite possibilities, not the specific demands of others who use desire against them. I agree with Shaw that Adam is an aspect of Diane. Adam in the dream fits the prostitute archetype perfectly. He’s willing to sell his integrity for the sake of maintaining his lifestyle. It’s not his film anymore so he is left with two possibilities. Comply and maintain “the good” life”. Or be willing to walk away from the film. An open mind in this case means the willingness to be directed/controlled. And of course Adam is willing to be controlled because he doesn’t want to walk away from “the good life”. He can be bought. This mirrors what is going on in Diane’s life. But I suppose it could have dual meaning if Lynch agrees with Chopra’s take on Maharishi’s teaching that ultimately, no matter what we are doing, we are not in control, we are the mechanism through which divine intelligence is operating. When we try to control the events and people in our lives based on what it is we personally desire, we close our mind to infinite possibility. Our reality gets “boxed” in and we become much more easily manipulated by the desires of others. (Our desire plays off their desire and vice versa.)

Clue 4 )I also don’t really agree with Alan Shaw’s take on the fourth clue although the accident theme is interesting. I hadn’t thought of it that way. Mulholland Dr. is sort of like Mount Olympus in a way, but the analogy doesn’t quite work for me because Adam is not in control of his own life (or his film), either. He’s being controlled like a puppet, too. I think it might be a little shallow to say that Diane meeting Camilla is the metaphorical accident that is being referred to in this clue. That is part of it. But I think the accident is more along the lines of illusion crashing into reality. The crash takes place where Camilla meets Diane and leads her up the hill. Camilla is charming Diane as though something good is going to happen and Diane falls for the illusion Camilla is creating. But at the dinner party, Diane is forced to face the reality of her relationship to Camilla.

Clue 5) It’s not Aunt Ruth that gives Betty the key. It’s Cocoa that gives Betty the key. It’s definitely not Ruth giving Diane the key although I suppose this key could hold a double meaning because Alan is right – it’s Ruth’s money that allows Diane to come out to Hollywood. But then why does Cocoa turn out to be Adam’s mother? Aunt Ruth is not connected to Adam’s mother in reality. The other two keys (the blue ones) are not given by anyone. The hitman doesn’t give it to Diane. He just says she’ll find it when the job is done. And Rita isn’t given the blue key, either. For me, both represent the emptiness and illusory nature of a life controlled by desire.

Clue 8) Is this Sylvia North Story about child abuse? Where did that come from? I’m still not sure about that connection although I looked up some info, on Rita Hayworth. (Rita got her name from the Gilda poster which was the film that launched Rita Hayworth’s career.) Rita Hayworth was one of the first Spanish actresses in Hollywood and was known for her red hair. She had an extremely early onset of Alzheimers. She never sang in her films, including Gilda. And she changed her name (which is a common thing for movie stars to do.)

Interesting thought on the Blue Haired Lady: I have spent way too much time with the link Kristen provided for Mulholland Dr. It’s all interesting but here is the coolest thing I’ve stumbled across on it yet: “Just a quick note on the final word in Mulholland Dr., regarding another film ending on the same word, Le Mepris (aka Contempt), in which the call for silence (in Italian rather than Spanish, albeit with the same pronunciation) comes from a director’s assistant (?) as a scene is about to be filmed for a movie. As a second point, why would someone in a theatre ask for silence? Both of these suggest that the show is just about to start. The Blue Haired Lady is breaking the spell of the film and speaking directly to the viewer – she is urging silence before a performance, which is real life, the life we engage in when we leave the theater.” (James Stanley)

OK – that’s it for me and Mulholland Dr. for a while. I’ll have to come back to it after seeing a few more Lynch films.