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The stubborn need to stay there

For some time now, Gerry, Kathy, and I have been meeting as “Mighty Course Companions.” We all live here in different parts of Ontario, and have got together in person, but mostly it’s via bi-weekly Skype calls. Today we worked on an issue that has come up for all of us: finding ourselves going down into the darkness and feeling powerless to stop. 

We were surprised at how easily and quickly we give in to the temptations of the ego, but given that we’re all egoholics to some extent, it’s not surprising that this happens! We can be sailing along on smooth seas, with bright skies above, sure of our direction and joyfully applying ourselves to following it. Nothing else do we see but smooth sailing and clear skies ahead––just like in the old song, “Blue skies, shining on me; nothing but blue skies do I see.” Then wham: all of a sudden our ship is upside down and the darkness of the depths are all that exist for us now. We can be blindsided by something big or it can be the slightest thing that capsizes us and sends us in another direction––down!

Of course, if we had been vigilant, we would have been prepared, but part of the riding-high-on-smooth-seas scenario is that we can become so over-confident and self-reliant, so sure of ourselves, that we’re not vigilant for the danger signs. So, being aware of our personal and particular triggers and vigilant for their signs is important.

But then, there’s another whole aspect to this. We can be aware of what’s happening, we can know Course practices to set us right-side up, we can even use them, but they often don’t seem to work. We talked about our “stubborn need to stay there,” to let the feelings and thoughts swirling around in the depths drive us and keep us spiralling downward. We know what the Course teaches; we know what it says about who we are, but we insist that we are right, that in this case, at this time, we are the exception to the rule! Our resistance can be very strong and come out in all sorts of ways––we each have our own “unique” triggers and forms.

So, then comes the big question: What gets us out? We talked about being willing to choose the light rather than the darkness, to make a conscious choice to go in the other direction, to not believe our feelings and thoughts, to not take things so seriously, to recognize the ridiculousness and insanity of our thoughts, to take a stand for truth, to ask ourselves what we really want and what we choose to believe.  Okay; we knew all that, but often we don’t even choose to go in that direction!

We sat there stumped for a moment, and then we hit on what I think is the key. It ties in with Robert’s recent work on the events of our lives as lessons. We were all aware of how stubbornly we could hold on to the way we see and think and react. We reminded ourselves that, 1) the Holy Spirit can and will use everything for our healing and transform all our wrong thinking into right thinking, and 2) into every event and circumstance, the Holy Spirit has placed the way out––a way that He guarantees is within our reach and is designed to teach us His lesson. So, taking those thoughts, we realized that what we can do is give the Holy Spirit our stubbornness and ask Him to replace it with determination to see things differently and make a different choice, which will lead us to learning only His lessons. Doing the same thing over and over, reacting the same way every time we hit stormy seas, does nothing but reinforce the ego’s lessons, which are the cause of our misery.

This did seem to be the way out for us and we all felt better, but we still wanted to find some way to keep what we had learned alive, so that we could apply it in our daily lives, and especially to keep us from capsizing. Then Kathy came up with the answer: practice the “Rules for Decision.” How obvious! Those rules are designed to keep us right side up and to right us when we do capsize. So, we ended our time together by eagerly committing to practice them every day––at least until we meet again––and to checking in with one another about how they’ve been working for us. Perhaps you’ll join us?