Past the ego’s guarded gate: empowering revelations
After my mom’s death in August, I was taken by surprise to realize there were things I was holding against her and myself. Things I had not forgiven. Things that came to me the day after the funeral planning was done, and I was taking my usual morning walk. There, on the street, in the open space of that walk, up they came. I cried my eyes out, stalled between one step and the next. I cried first for myself and things I’d never acknowledged, and then for my mom and that I hadn’t reconciled these feelings while she was alive.
A few weeks later, “the ego’s guarded gate,” a phrase from the third treatise, A Treatise on the Personal Self, sprang into my mind.
What empties space for love for fill?
Each time you have “fallen” in love you have emptied a space for love to fill. Each time you have felt true devotion you have emptied a space for love to fill. You have been emptied of the ego-self as creative moments of inspiration filled you and emptied of the ego-self in moments of connection with God. Conversely, you have been emptied by the lessons of grief as the loss of love has led to a loss of self. You have been emptied by a loss of self due to illness or addiction, depression, or even physical exhaustion. All these things you have brought to yourself for they have been the only way past the ego’s guarded gate. T3:5.2-3
Grief is a space. My morning walk was a space. That I looked up from wiping my tears that day, and looked into the eyes of a young buck deer standing on the edge of our neighborhood park, provided another space. We looked at each other for minutes. Minutes! There was such gentleness in those minutes! I felt so relieved.
What was going through my mind, causing my tears was a short-form of what Jesus asks us to do in Chapter 19 of the Course: to review our lives. And how perfect is it that he responds immediately afterwards, in the book and in life, by offering us the embrace of love:
This is a call to move now into my embrace and let yourself be comforted. C:20.2
It is here that he speaks of the loss of the ego for the first time. “You are no longer the “I” of the ego.” We move and move and move…beyond the ego’s guarded gate.
In Learning in the Time of Christ, there’s another call:
a.32 The entrenched patterns of the past are difficult to dislodge even when they have been recognized. Individuals can be encouraged here to “watch the parade go by” as what has gone unhealed is brought forward for acceptance, forgiveness, and letting-go. With the letting-go of each old pattern or situation that seems fraught with peril, a cloud of despair will lift, a little more of darkness recedes, and a little more light is available to show the way.
After a parent’s death, as after the death of the ego, a space opens in which we can take on a new Self. A new authority. My dad died ten years ago. With the death of my mom, my parental “authority” is gone. It seems kind of strange, but it makes a difference. I feel a difference. And how strange that the tenderest, most heart churning moments of our lives can and do bring us a new authority. I felt this too.
[T]here is no authority to whom you can turn. But in place of that “outside” authority, I give you your own authority, an authority you must claim in order for it to be your own.
Become the author of your own life. Live it as you feel called to live it. (D4.23-24)
With each acceptance, each forgiveness, each step past our barriers to love, you and I claim our authority, and become authors of our own lives.
(I used the above quote in an interview recently. You can listen to the interview here:
The topic was “Connection and Creativity.” You can find a copy of my “Call to Power for Women,” on the blog of my interviewer, Sharon Ann Wikoff: http://www.sharonannwikoff.com/VOICE-4-TRUTH.html
The mind cannot hold open the doors of the heart and yet we turn within, turn to the mind, and show it where its openness lies, where sweetness abides, where love’s knowing is found. All the mind can do is rearrange reality and hold it still and captive and rule bound. The laws of love are not laws such as these. The laws of love are not rules, facts, or right answers. The laws of love bring spiritual freedom, the freedom that lies beyond belief, beyond thought, beyond adherence to any authority other than one’s own heart. I:5
ACOL is a challenge to authority. This challenge may be the most controversial thing about it.
What an appropriate time it is to re-view and remember all Jesus says about accepting our own authority. These excerpts from A Course of Love relate brilliantly to what is going on in the world, but, as always, bring us back to what exists within us and can change as we change—as we cease to look to outside authorities. And so, in an unusual move, I invite you to re-discover the gift of the heart’s authority through these selected passages from The Course, The Treatises, and The Dialogues. In addition to being a comprehensive look at how Jesus presents the authority problem (and solution), they also show the difference in the way we are addressed as we begin the Course, the many invitations that offer us more, and our assurance that we can, will, and finally “have,” in union and relationship, accepted our own authority, the authority by which we can share in truth.
(Maybe it’s one of the things you realize newly with the death of a parent (as I wrote of last week). My dad died ten years ago. And now my mom is gone too. Perhaps upon becoming parent-less, you suddenly feel as if you are of the generation of elders in a new way. This photo of ACOL was taken at Mom’s. It took this new publication before she had it out in the open, on her coffee table. Me being the first receiver of A Course of Love was not particularly comfortable for her. When the combined volume made its way to her coffee table, sitting right on top of her book on Sinatra…I’d made it to the big time!)
The old way of viewing authority:
C:7.21 You have given others, whom you see as having more authority than you, license to provide you with their version of the truth, and for consistency’s sake you choose to believe in the version of the truth most predominate in your society. Thus the truth is different in one place than it is in another and it even appears to be in conflict. You cling to known truths, even though you are aware of their instability in time as well as place, and so you live with constant denial that even what is known to you is not known at all.
C:16.21 While you want those you have given power to protect you, you also fear them, and they in turn fear the powerless who might take away their power or rise up against them. What kind of power is it that needs to be constantly defended? What is it about the powerless that frightens you, except that they might not accept their powerless state? And what does this say but what history has shown you—that who is powerful and who is not is not determined by might or any authority that can be given and taken away. Power is possessed by those who claim it. By those who cry I am. For the beginning of power comes from the rejection of powerlessness. The rejection of powerlessness is but a step toward your identity achieved through the awakening of love of Self.
C16.22 What misery the world has suffered in the name of judgment, power, and justice. What misery can be avoided by finding the true power inherent in your identity. For you are not powerless. Those of you who think you have traditional means of power on your side turn not to your own power, and then you wonder why those most spiritual, both currently and historically, seem to suffer hardship. Yet it is often only those who suffer hardship who will rise up and claim the power that is their own instead of looking for it elsewhere. Your perception but looks at power backward and wonders why God has forsaken a people who seem to be so godly.
C16.23 God forsakes no people, but people forsake God when they give away their power and claim not their birthright. Your birthright is simply the right to be who you are, and there is nothing in the world that has the power to take this right from you. The only way you lose it is by giving it away. And this you do.
C16.24 God wants no sacrifice from you, yet when you give away your power you make of yourself a sacrificial lamb, an offering onto God that God does not want. You look back on stories of sacrifice from the Bible and think what a barbaric time that was, and yet you repeat the same history but in different form. If a talented physician were to give up his power to heal you would surely call it a waste, and yet you give up your power to be who you are and think it is just the way life is. You give away your power and then bow down to those whom you have given it to, for you are afraid of nothing more than your own power.
C:16.25 This fear but stems from what you have used your power for. You know your power created the world of illusion in which you live, and so you think another must be able to do it better. You no longer trust yourself with your own power, and so you have forgotten it and realize not how important it is for it to be reclaimed. As good as you may want to be, you would still go meekly through your life trying to comply with rules of God and man with thought of some greater good in mind. If everyone did what he or she wanted to do, you reason, society would collapse and anarchy would rule. You think you are only fair in deciding that if everyone cannot do what they would want, then you, too, must abdicate your wishes for the common good. You thus behave in “noble” ways that serve no purpose.
C:16.26 If you cannot claim at least a small amount of love for your own Self, then neither can you claim your power, for they go hand-in-hand. There is no “common good” as you perceive of it, and you are not here to assure the continuance of society. The worries that would occupy you can be let go if you but work instead for the return of heaven and the return of your own Self.
C:20.32 Acceptance of your true power is acceptance of your God-given authority via your free will. When I beseeched my Father, saying, “They know not what they do,” I was expressing the nature of my brothers and sisters as caused by fear. To accept your power and your God-given authority is to know what you do. Let the fear be taken from this area of your thought so that you can see the application of cooperative action. As long as you fear your own ability to know what you do, you cannot be fully cooperative.
And so we follow the way of creation, and begin the dance of cooperation.
C:20.33 The rest of the universe, existing in a state of compassionate free will devoid of fear, knows what it does. There are no opposing forces that are not in agreement about their opposing force. No atoms do battle. No molecules compete for dominance. The universe is a dance of cooperation. You are but asked to rejoin the dance.
We begin to read newly, and to move beyond learning to our heart’s wisdom and to co-creation:
T4:11.5 … I bid you to read these words in a new way. You are no longer a learner here and what I reveal to you must be regarded as the equal sharing between brothers and sisters in Christ, the sharing of fellow creators in unity and relationship. This is the beginning of our co-creation. Do not seek for me to impart knowledge to you in these concluding words. Absorb the following pages as a memory returned to your reunited heart and mind. No longer regard me as an authority to whom you turn, but as an equal partner in the creation of the future through the sustainability of Christ-consciousness.
D:2.22 Within is where you look to your own heart, rather than to any other authority, for advice or guidance.
D:4.23 Once again I remind you that there is no authority to whom you can turn. But in place of that “outside” authority, I give you your own authority, an authority you must claim in order for it to be your own. An authority you must claim before your externally structured life can become an internally structured life.
D:4.24 Let this acceptance of your own internal authority be your first “act” of acceptance rather than learning. Turn to this as the new pattern and to the thought system of giving and receiving as one. Let the authority of the new be given and received. Become the author of your own life. Live it as you feel called to live it.
D:4.26 I tell you truthfully, your release is at hand and it will come from your own authority and no place else. It is up to you to accept that your release is possible, to desire it without fear, to call it into being.
D:12.18-19 Some of you will have credited your personal or individual self with the “figuring out” of this truth. Others of you will have recognized the “voice” of authority with which this truth came to you as something other than your usual thoughts, other than your usual “self.” Either way, however, you know that your self was involved, somehow, in this coming to know of the truth, even if this coming to know of the truth wasn’t quite “of” the “you” of the personal self. The thoughts that come to you from unity can thus be seen as both your own thoughts and thoughts that arise from union. Union is not other than you, as I am not other than you. Union includes you, just as the All of Everything, the whole of wholeness, the one of oneness, include you. We are, in unity, one body. We are, in Christ consciousness, one Christ. We are, in wholeheartedness, one heart and one mind.
DDay:3.39 When you have felt the reality of union, you have felt the place in which no want exists. You felt this through the responsiveness of the relationship that is unity. You perhaps desired an answer that “came to you” through no process you had known before. We spoke of this as thoughts you did not think. We spoke of these thoughts you did not think coming with authority and certainty, a certainty you had previously lacked.
We move to what can only be given and received in relationship:
DDay:13.11 [Y]ou may feel unable to share or express all that comes to you from unity, and while you may feel unable to share or express the authority and truth you know it represents, you will, by living according to what you know to be the truth, form the very relationships and union that will allow the truth to be shared. The relationship or union, in other words, precedes the sharing of what can only be given and received in relationship.
DDay:15.13 It is to your own authority only that you must appeal for guidance.
You will, by living according to what you know to be the truth,
form the very relationships and union that will allow the truth to be shared.
Life is the connecting tissue of the web of form with the divine All. Life is consciousness. Christ-consciousness is awareness of what is. It is the awareness of connection and relationship of All to All. It is the merging of the unknowable and the knowable through movement, expression, and being. D.Day:11.8
Three weeks ago, my mom died.
Without even realizing it, I drifted yesterday to “the month after Mom died.” September. It will be a literal month next week. Why do I count these things? I don’t know. I just do. In truth it seems much longer, and I wonder if I am off, even when I know I’m not. I count on my fingers anyway. It was only three weeks ago? Three weeks, a funeral, a burial, reading of the will, the beginning of the dissembling of a life. And yesterday a family outing to the State Fair.
I wrote nothing yesterday to mark the beginning of the new month, a month during which Mom’s birthday will come—the first without her (she would have been 93)…and then a week later my sister Susan’s…her first without her mom…and so on it will go.
The word “lineage” came to me before I awoke today. Its source is the word “line” which is from the Latin linea, literally linen thread, n. use of feminine, of lineus, of flax. Flax itself, of the German word flachs, is to plait, interweave. And flax, the plant, a slender, erect annual with delicate blue flowers and seeds used to make linseed oil, holds the fibers in its stem that are spun into linen thread.
A “line” can mean a boundary, or a course of action, or the path one takes, and lineage itself is as I would have imagined: a direct line of descent from an ancestor. But of course, as a family tree demonstrates, what a lineage does is connect and fan out into a “family tree” or a web of interconnections. None of it speaks to me of particular feelings or why it arose in ways other than the usual, except for with the Course, which speaks of another lineage. And of course, I do not know what I mean, which is where inspiration always starts.
It’s taken three weeks to get here, three weeks of feelings that left me spent, and full of memories and tears and calls for love and forgiveness and the need to dwell…to not move on, to not even move “in” to deeper meanings too soon. No, after a death, all is immediate and raw and tender.
Mom was only in the hospital three days.
After the first day I knew: Mom was going to die. I was going to be a motherless child. All the years of preparation, the knowing it was coming, especially the last—five or so—and then the shock: my mother is going to die. Then the full realization of her fragility, the wondering how she got up and made herself coffee the day before.
The knowing: Nothing will stay the same.
When I got to the hospital the first morning Mom asked, “Can’t they just knock me out so I don’t have to feel like this?” I ask. Am told, “Oh no, that would just depress her system more.”
She is like a child in an adult bed. She keeps sliding down and so can’t use the hospital tray table. I balance a tray on her lap with Jello and it gets all over the bed clothes as she, in her wobbly way, brings spoon to mouth, not wanting, of course, to be fed. Still in her way barking orders: “Margaret, (my birth name) call Michael. Margaret—you eat that.”
Next day: She agrees to a “do not resuscitate” order. She is grey with no makeup, no wig, and no hair. A monosyllabic statement of a person reduced to her barest aliveness.
A eucharistic minister comes in and offers us communion. She tilts her head and there it was, the sweetness so seldom seen, a look that came with accepting communion, with being prayed for, with praying. We say the Our Father.
The following day the kids come to visit. Her youngest great-grandson, my grandson Samuel, sits with her on the bed, and she wears the same sweet look, as if they’re communing from that other zone, he still attached to heaven and her on her way.
Since then, the days continue on, still screwed up. I have to keep thinking, What day is it? It began the next day, the asking and the answering: It is Saturday, August 12. Mom died yesterday, August 11, 2017 at about 11:30 p.m. We were at United Hospital. It is a litany. What day is it? It is two days since Mom died, that makes it, what? A Sunday? It is two weeks and two days. Yesterday it was three weeks.
Not feeling up to writing I do a video I mean to post to thank those who offer condolence. And then the “bringing to completion” escapes me. My technology goes on the fritz as if forcing me to stop.
In the midst of it, during the Eclipse of 2017, the feminine moon covers the masculine sun. Something literally feels different.
Despite my inability to describe it, I know it is a new day. A new era. Mom is gone. No more phone calls that begin, “Hi Margaret, I know you’re busy.” No more seeing her sweet little body shrink.
I heard her last words. My brother had just arrived from California. I was sitting at the head of her bed and took her hand. “Mom, Johnny is here,” I said. “Do you want to talk to him?”
She opened her eyes and closed them again. “No,” she said, “I’m too tired.”
Our many conversations the last years:
“How are you, Mom?”
“Oh, about the same. Tired.”
And so today, three weeks and one day later, the inspiration of lineage—sat with, reveals to me that the Course is present in the way of lineage, the way of a connecting and a passing on, one to another, the line of new life, and the weaving of a new web.
In the early part of A Course of Love Jesus speaks of the web in one way: As a “complex web of use and abuse” (C:9.43), and as “dependencies that … over years and years create a web of intricate design, a snare or trap that seems impossible to dismantle because of its interconnections.” (C:14.20).
In the third Treatise the web is expressed differently:
T3:9.2 While you cannot now see the chain of events that will make these ideas into a new reality, you can trust that they will be there, spreading out like a web, much as the ego’s ideas of separation once did.
In our days on the mountain, there are several expressions of the web:
In Day 18.1 we hear of the way of Mary and are told that many will follow our hearts “to a bypassing of the final stage of the old and to anchoring the new within the web of reality.” …
One way is active. One way is receptive. Yet the ways are not separate any more than Jesus was separate from Mary—or any mother separate from her child. The ways are rather complementary and symbiotic. Together they return wholeness and will bring about the completion of the time of Christ. This symbiotic working together will be essential for the birth of the new and in truth symbolizes it in form and process. As within, so without. Mary represents the relationship that occurs within, Jesus the relationship that occurs with the world. So do each of you. These two ways also represent God and Christ-consciousness, the extension of God. God is everything in heaven and on earth and is in everything on heaven and on earth. Thus, God represents the world without. Christ-consciousness is God within you, your particular manifestation of God and relationship with the God within. D.Day:18.2
There we have it: the mother’s place in a trinity of “ways.” The way of the mother begins within, and mother and child are not separate, even when the child, as the child Jesus once did, moves into maturity in the world, a world in which all that was created was created by God. A trinity of the ways of Mary, Jesus, and God. The trinity of a way of union.
I’ve written of my mom many times in my blogs, mainly about going to church with her. Last Christmas was the first time she did not feel strong enough to attend Christmas Mass, and it was as if in realizing it, she gave in. This year we have not been at Mass on Saturday afternoons. Instead, I have brought her lunch and in the last weeks we would watch a movie. The final movie we watched was “Singing in the Rain,” the movie about voice coming to the movies. We are, it seems, in a similar time of bringing voice, or expression, to all we can within God’s creation.
I was glad “Singing in the Rain,” with its joyful theme song, was the last movie Mom and I saw together. It rained the morning of her funeral and the refrain kept going through my mind. This “refrain,” the refrain of a woman no longer tired, continues to accompany me:
I’m singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feelin’
I’m happy again
I’m laughing at clouds
So dark up above
The sun’s in my heart
And I’m ready for love
There’s an additional refrain:
Why am I smiling
And why do I sing?
Why does September
Seem sunny as spring?
Why do I get up
Each morning and start?
Happy and head up
With joy in my heart
Why is each new task
A trifle to do?
Because I am living
A life full of you.
When you remove yourself from the self-held position of “meaning-giver,” you let things be what they are and, allowed to be what they are, their meaning is naturally revealed. C:22.15
My friend Lee said the other day, after I’d sent him a bit of writing, that he was “taking it in,” and that got me musing on the “entering into” that we do as readers, as people, not just with the written word but with the spoken word, or with music, or within a relationship.
I feel like one of the hallmarks of receptivity—the kind that produced A Course of Love, or the kind that occurs when we write or read from our deepest places, is that we “take in.” Pondering this, I began to wonder if it is that we have “taken in,” or that we have “been” taken in. Then I imagined both occurring at the same time. The giving and receiving happening as one.
Next, I wondered, what happens then? What happens when this “taking in” occurs, when ACOL, for instance, enters without filters? And what I answered was that then, “It is what it is.” It is there as unclassified meaning. It is not “what we think it is” but “what it is.” It is not the meaning we give it, but the meaning that is there.
In our former way of making meaning, we gave “all meaning to everything.” It became a world in which “Nothing is what it is, but only what it is to you.” (C:22.15)
There is an amorphousness, a purposeful amorphousness in this way of A Course of Love, a way that bypasses thinking so that what is there is “just there.” It is a huge reason, in my view, for the end of learning. The “meaning” of a beautiful passage in such a work, is not the same as the beautiful passage. We “make” meaning. We receive beauty and knowing.
The psychologist James Hillman says, “None of the isms,” can save the world from “the catastrophe inherent in our very idea of the world.”
“To pursue this re-vision of psychic reality implies that we shall have to let our present sustaining paradigm break down, a catastrophe of the mind rather than of the world, allowing to emerge a renaissance of soul in the midst of the world.”
The move to the heart can’t be accomplished “without moving … the seat of the soul from brain to heart and the method … from cognitive understanding to aesthetic sensitivity. With the heart we move at once into imagination.”
The collapse of egoic thinking, is a “catastrophe of the mind.”
I was told as ACOL began that it would create a new renaissance. Self-love could do that for us as we come into our power and let go of “the way things are,” for a new way. How amazing. How miraculous that our way begins with ceasing to use the mind as we “take in” Jesus’ words, continues with the union of mind and heart in wholeheartedness, takes us to the end of learning, and calls us to dialogue, Self-expression and creation of the new. What a groundbreaking, world-shattering, revolutionary course we have been set upon.
As we “let our present sustaining paradigm break down,” our former way of knowing, our “catastrophe of the mind,” occurs, and a new way is here. The new way doesn’t arrive in a flash, but “quietly infiltrates in unguarded moments.” (D.12.12) We do not “think” our way through life, but “draw knowing forth from the well of spirit.” (D:11.13)
You realize now that life itself is a channel and that you are constantly receiving. . . . If giving and receiving are one, then giver and receiver are also one. It is only you who can do anything with the wisdom, guidance, or information that you receive in union as a channel of the divine life force that exists in everything and everyone. D:Day21.6
“My refuge, my revelation,” comes to me as words strung together about which I don’t know the meaning. Suddenly a phrase is there, playing in my mind.
I go to look up “refuge” and read: to provide with additional fuel.
Woops. That was “refuel.”
I move my eyes down to the word I was looking for. Refuge: to escape, to flee, more at fugitive. Hmmm. Not what I expected. Next: shelter or protection from danger or distress. Something to which one has recourse in difficulty.
That last one’s a little more like it.
The meaning of words has fascinated me since I read Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul twenty-five years ago. He was the first writer I knew to look to the origins of words for their meaning. For a while, I followed in his way. Then I stopped. Now, I return to the dictionary occasionally. I still keep a real Webster’s—two in fact. One in the house and one in the cabin.
Regardless of its meaning, I love the sound of my attendant phrase. I love the feeling that comes with the tone and idea of “taking” refuge. I take refuge, and when I do, I find revelation. It’s true. It’s as if revelation follows me into the alternate zone that places of refuge offer.
This latest phrase came to me on my evening walk. It was a hot day and I hadn’t really been planning to walk until I realized the garbage cans were still at the curb after the day’s pick-up. When I went to roll them up the driveway I saw that it was no longer too hot, and the breeze was fine and the moon was nearly full. And so I went in for my key and my camera. As I started out I heard, “my refuge is my revelation.”
I’ve written a couple of posts for this blog lately that I didn’t get around to posting. By the time I’d spent the urgency of the writing, they were done, and then…oh well. But there’s another reason, probably, that I didn’t post them. I’d started writing for someone “out there,” not for me. Not that I’m not acknowledging “you” as I’m writing this, but it was different. You know—more like writing an article. Writing in that voice that’s different than the one found in places of refuge. Different than the private voice. The personal voice. The “just musing” voice that you have in those interior places, the hidden ones, the ones “under cover.” The ones where you’re not taking a stand. When you don’t have something to say or to defend or to promote. Just . . . a voice.
That’s my place of refuge, that place of having nothing to say. That’s my revelation. A phrase pops in unannounced like someone sharing with me. I share with you.
That’s what this whole thing is like. This new way that needs no promotion yet needs voices, words, sharing. Words that share in that place of refuge where nothing anyone is asking of you gets in. Where nothing is asked. Nothing is told. Where you are accompanied. Where what comes, comes as revelation.