“There is no order of difficulty in miracles.
One is not “harder” or “bigger” than another. They are all the same.
All expressions of love are maximal.”
I won’t share from A Course in Miracles every day, but although I find many lines and exercises in The Course strange, others resonate immediately, like the quote above. Also:
Miracles as such do not matter. The only thing that matters is their Source, Which is far beyond evaluation
Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle. (snip)
Miracles are a kind of exchange. Like all expressions of love, which are always miraculous in the true sense, the exchange reverses the physical laws. They bring more love both to the giver and the receiver.
[Full list is on Wikipedia]
The miracle is a learning device that lessens the need for time. It establishes an out-of-pattern time interval not under the usual laws of time. In this sense it is timeless.
To this list I will add from my own experience:
Miracles are like dreams. They have no origin as such. They unpack forward and backward, open on all sides. This is why The Course describes them as expressions of timelessness.
On the way to school, bored by the current list of podcasts on my i-Pad, my son opened Kindle to read aloud from whatever happened to appear. In this case, it was Gabrielle Bernstein’s book The Universe Has Your Back. Gabrielle is pretty new to me and at first struck me as overly perky — as though she was me 15 or so years ago, before big challenges to manifestation and faith teachings.
This initial impression reflected underlying cynicism way more my issue than hers. Gabby is indeed energetic and fast-talking in a way that I am when off-kilter, which does not mean she is off-kilter too. 🙂
My son began to read a portion of the book that describes Gabby’s friend Lance’s story of coming to terms with feelings of (in his case intellectual) inadequacy, but it was hard for him to take seriously. The chapter is written in an “On my summer vacation we went to the beach…” style that frustrated him during school years in which he wanted to be more daring but was corrected for things like decorating his titles or going on tangents.
Although his take was funny, I heard myself make an important distinction.
There are differences between teachers and coaches, which doesn’t mean no overlap. The relationship with a teacher is an intimate one. The idea is to be taught something you don’t know, to be shown something you haven’t seen, to take on a new way of seeing, imbibe a new way of being.
With a coach, you may already know what they are telling you, but they stir and push you to bring what is known and needed to the forefront, so that you can enact. They help midwife what is ready to be born. This too can be a very powerful role, but it is far more straight forward, outward, obvious.
“Lance” seems generic and vague because he is meant to be. He is a template, not supposed to take you out of or away from yourself the way that say, a work of ‘literature’ does. In another chapter, Gabby describes a copy-editor that continually neglected to send in an invoice, and I laughed with relief because her copy-editor was figuratively, me. Too many specifics about this woman and I may not have been able to project myself into her story and actually take the bolder initiative I eventually did.
I’m someone reading a few books at a time, almost always a spiritual motivational book, which might sit right next to a historical biography, next to some obscure Buddhist text or book of poetry. Each has its place and benefit.
This turned out to be a productive and therapeutic process, although it took me about 17 days instead of 10 or 11, and although I’m not an Actor by profession. Indeed, I’m always hard pressed to answer when asked what my profession is, since career has always appeared for me embedded within ever-changing contexts of opportunities and interests that arise, often in contrast to whatever it is I am seeking. In the last decade, career has centered around research and writing, but even then, not in a straightforward way.
(me acting, sort of)
I took the Actor’s Challenge as an ‘artistic activity’ challenge and found the format of the program – which includes a central question (this time about ‘power’) every day, meditation, timed and un-timed writings, creative expression, physical activity, and giving – deeply satisfying. I’ve participated in and facilitated online retreat type programs before, and this measured against those very well in terms of inspiring long-term habit formation.
It is some insight of, not getting rid of attachment and aversion, but genuinely accepting both in a light and open way. To see through ‘the game’ could mean to play it deeper, or could mean moving on.
At the bookstore cafe’, moving through the line, when the feeling of someone noticing me presents itself. Not looking, but I see – he is dressed far too well for the bookstore. I am disheveled. He lingers, asks about the book I’d purchased … a children’s book, delightful, titled Goodnight Yoga: A Pose-By-Pose Bedtime Story. I look away, but he draws me back, saying he has a son, 6 years old… wonders whether he might like the same.
(Illustrations in the book are by Sarah Jane Hinder)
A few nights ago, I was struck with energy of a sort that could be called inspiration, yet didn’t feel particularly special. Rather, it hit like a practical nudge, to write a list.
Probably, this was a build up that started with a question posed during a Brahma Kuhmaris meditation workshop last weekend, about a figure in one’s life who displays admired qualities. I had chosen someone, yet in that choosing had also fathomed others who would fall into that category, then teachers in general, and spiritual friends who have graced my life.
As I began to write the list, a flood of other lists and figures began to appear. A teacher category was soon at 50, then over the next few days, grew to an honest 100. I say ‘honest’ because there were some figures who arose that were not quite teachers, but friends and influencers none the less, and then there was also a darker side of those categories… thankfully, much smaller. A separate ‘friends’ list then formed, grew, and branched into other figures who were ‘neutral-positive’ or neutral-negative due to lingering misunderstanding or discomfort. Then came another list – those on the edges with whom I’d like to be closer.
But it was the teacher list that kept growing, because behind each teacher, were other teachers, and those I’d spent deep lifetimes or love affairs with in books, or who had shown up in various guises or dreams along the way. When I reached that territory – the dream and vision territory – another wave came through. Now, it wasn’t just teachers, but lessons and stories. So I began another list, branching even more.
I have tried to intentionally write out insight stories and dreamy moments before, but they have usually waited for some context to float up, if to be shared. This was different.
Dreams and stories that I hadn’t thought about for very long, began to pour out onto the page, big ones next to little ones next to what had felt at the time to be side thoughts, numbering into the hundreds. I thought about how hard it had been at the end of last year, to write out even ‘100 accomplishments’, and how in contrast, this had all seemed to just appear.
So tired, I kept trying to go to sleep. As soon as my eyes would close, more would come up that I didn’t want to risk losing, so I’d write them, releasing a whole ‘nother wave.
Eventually, I remembered Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk about inspiration and muses, and assured myself that whatever was going on could be continued the next day.
And it was, but only sort of. Rather than adding much to the list, this time my hand went to the list of teachers, writing a word or two about what I felt to have learned from each, whatever came forward strongly. From one – spontaneity, from another – confidence, another the question ofsuchness. With some I had first experiences; some imparted or deepened feelings, evoked emotion, or pushed me over edges at crucial times. Some were not people, but ‘events’.
I made no effort not to repeat myself, yet there were no repetitions; each role was entirely unique and yet, when I would stop writing and see the whole, each also easily flowed easily into another, each other. Longsightedness was also there… to see that there might be more, or a different way of seeing time that I might move into… more comfortable clothes.
It was like staring into a living, loving, mirror. Just openness to openness.
I’m not sure who the teacher was, who first exposed me to the concept of Indra’s Net, but to convey the way this practice unfolded, one would benefit from visualizing:
FAR AWAY IN THE HEAVENLY ABODE OF THE GREAT GOD INDRA, THERE IS A WONDERFUL NET WHICH HAS BEEN HUNG BY SOME CUNNING ARTIFICER IN SUCH A MANNER THAT IT STRETCHES OUT INFINITELY IN ALL DIRECTIONS.
IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE EXTRAVAGANT TASTES OF DEITIES, THE ARTIFICER HAS HUNG A SINGLE GLITTERING JEWEL IN EACH “EYE” OF THE NET, AND SINCE THE NET ITSELF IS INFINITE IN DIMENSION, THE JEWELS ARE INFINITE IN NUMBER. THERE HANG THE JEWELS, GLITTERING “LIKE” STARS IN THE FIRST MAGNITUDE, A WONDERFUL SIGHT TO BEHOLD.
IF WE NOW ARBITRARILY SELECT ONE OF THESE JEWELS FOR INSPECTION AND LOOK CLOSELY AT IT, WE WILL DISCOVER THAT IN ITS POLISHED SURFACE THERE ARE REFLECTED ALL THE OTHER JEWELS IN THE NET, INFINITE IN NUMBER.
NOT ONLY THAT, BUT EACH OF THE JEWELS REFLECTED IN THIS ONE JEWEL IS ALSO REFLECTING ALL THE OTHER JEWELS, SO THAT THERE IS AN INFINITE REFLECTING PROCESS OCCURRING. –Wikipedia Indra’s Net
During summer I go inward – not exactly cave dweller inward, but unless traveling, I tend to spend more time indoors, which means museums, malls, and movies. This year it has also meant diving deeper into meditation, progressing a little with writing projects too. Which is great, except that there is this young girl inside of me who wants to be included in everything… all the “fun in the sun.”
Today’s meditation at the library was more chaotic than usual. There was an issue with a generator that began making an upsetting noise as soon as we began.
Due to past training I guess, for me there was a humor about it. It was distracting and I would have liked for it to stop, but it wasn’t upsetting like it was for another meditator. I did let my mind wander though, thinking of stories of teachers like Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche arriving late to a gathering, to annoyance in the air… but in this, a chaotic energy to work with.
So in a sense, as the meditation leader told us today, what we engaged in was an advanced practice.
“The fact and the particular character of a temporal series are entirely due to the view that is taken on Great Time. This does not exactly mean that time is a subjective phenomenon, because the ‘subject’ in a lower space is also a result of a particular ‘knowing’ of ‘Time’.
But certainly, the observer’s ego is conditioned by the restrictive view that is characteristic of lower spaces. Insofar as the ego is self-protective and reluctant to surrender itself to permit the expression of a wider focal setting, ordinary time conforms to the ego’s restrictions.”
– Time Space and Knowledge
This chapter of Time Space Knowledge is titled The Presence of Time — Liberating Potency and Compelling Patterns. I sat a while with the title, and the phrases inside of it… Presence of Time, Liberating Potency, Compelling Patterns.I played with the rhythms, rearranging the words, “Liberating Presence of Time, Compelling Potency, Potent Time.”
It was fun feeling the ideas… the glow and empowerment of them… reminders that floated up about life situations, ingrained patterns in my scope of self, family. I asked myself, “What is like that now?” and remembered seasons in which I didn’t think I was making life small, just doing my best to accept the way things were. Then I thought of all my seeming rescues… how often some stroke of luck or genius came through, and how hard it was to remember later, what life was like before that change.
I considered the feeling of intentionally forgetting… how no thoughts are bad in and of themselves, or people bad, and how sometimes if I can forget… forget myself, a way of seeing that I haven’t considered may appear… a new texture, or taste I hadn’t fathomed. How greatly changed everything ‘out there’ can seem. S. has said many times, that dropping could be holding in a different way, and A Course in Miracles calls miracles shifts in perception.
I have mused with strange ways of describing ordinary mind/ordinary knowing/ordinary time, and have asked from different stances and angles, what is meant by kinds of mind or mind streams. It is likely something I’ll never stop asking, but without aim toward answers, since answers could close down an enormously rich exploration. I’m addicted to comparing different descriptions of reality because when they collide, sometimes a new universe opens. ‘Ordinary mind’ is about perception, and ‘Knowing’ about reality.
It was many years ago now, standing in a DSW shoe store, that I suddenly realized that Iwasn’t thinking. To ‘see’ that ‘I’ wasn’t thinking could be a thought, but it was certainly a different kind of thought than I’d ever experienced before. I felt held by the thought, rather than compelled to follow it along some line. There was revealed a way of mind I didn’t realize I’d been beset by, until relieved.
Before retreating in Nova Scotia, I’d experienced only the purple water lily blooms common to our gardens in Florida, which are indeed glowy and beautiful, but small. This photo (left, below) was my reward for balancing precariously at the edge of a pond in the middle of wild overgrowth at Windhorse Farm.
On the right, is a photo of my first encounter with a giant lotus in Kyoto, which until that point I’d believed to be the stuff of myths and fairy tales. We happened upon this bloom when peeking through a crack in the gateway of a smallish, I think, temple (there are so many that it can be hard to know which structures are still operating as temples).
Although the photo isn’t is insufficient to capture the awe, tales with magical proportions of deities born from lotuses, made much more sense to me upon this encounter.