Course Review – Part 1

The course is made up of three distinct parts. The first is about becoming more aware of our self and accepting our self as we are. This is a process of making conscious what has been hidden, but as we become more aware, avoiding any sense of guilt about the way we behave. We recognise that we have different aspects of our being which have always been there but we have not always recognised. Once recognised we can start to integrate these aspects of ourselves into wholeness.
The second part is about becoming more connected and filled by Spirit. By recognising our spiritual nature we are able to discover the world beyond us. As we grow we become more connected and open to Spiritual guidance. Surrender is the process of opening awareness of our spiritual nature and its connection to the wider universe. We surrender to the guidance and support that we need to grow will be given to us.
The final part is about self realisation and gratitude, as we acknowledge all that we have been given. Gratitude is the most powerful tool we have, because it is complete acknowledgement of the universe and the gifts and lessons that have been provided for us. It is the recognition of transformation from the world imposing on us, to the world providing everything that we need. It is a final opening to the nature of life in all its shades and variations.
With this course we are trying to establish three aspects of our being, a vibrant physical body, a still, connected mind and an open heart. All parts of the course contribute towards this goal.

Within everyone is a deep calling to return, yet few hear that call and even fewer follow it. I can only describe that call as a deep longing, a yearning, to return. It is something that is unmistakable. It is often associated with a deep sadness because it comes from a realisation of what we are missing.

Health and Happiness
The first part of the course is about knowing ourselves better. The main lessons here are about learning to deal with life in a different way. It is the foundation of the course. Primarily it is about taking control of our lives and how we feel. We take responsibility for how we feel and we learn to do something about it. These tools are the basis of our practice because life will continue to intrude upon us. Life can be a problem, or it can be a learning tool. With this course we are choosing the latter, and in doing so, we are taking charge of our lives.

The exercises, chi kung and meditation, help us to open the heart and to become more aware of the lower centres, both to ground us and to feel more deeply. We need the heart open because this allows us to change our perception. We can stay in the emotion or come to the heart and transform how we feel. As we come to know ourselves better we learn to forgive ourselves. We need to know that the way we have behaved is the way human beings operate in the world, and let go of guilt and remorse. Now we start to have a choice of how we act in this world.

We are trying to understand our body, emotions mind and ego. We also learn that we have a spiritual side. When we think and act from the heart we are operating from this spiritual side. Now our life becomes more balanced. As we bring more spiritual choices into our life the human and spiritual become more balanced and leads to a happier, healthier life.

The first part of the course gives us a number of tools which help us to live happier healthier lives, but they also form the core tools for going further. The foundation for this are meditation and chi kung which help us to open the energy body, quieten the mind and increase awareness.
– awareness of the body, emotions, mind and ego
– acknowledgement of how you feel
– take responsibility for your feelings, own them
– learn to transform those feelings that no longer serve you
– use the stimulus of life to prompt you to examine feelings and change those which don’t serve you
– start to operate from your heart whenever you feel able
– forgive yourself for everything that you have done, again transform feeling that don’t serve you
– start to acknowledge your spirituality. Recognise that you are not just this body, emotions, mind and ego and that you are connected to something beyond you
– learn to access this connection to assist you when needed through prayer, meditation and mantra. Call upon angels, saints, Bodhisattvas or whatever inspires you for assistance

Unless we do this life will continue to be in control. We will react to life as we have always done. If we choose to go further then this foundation is vital and there is no doubt that we will continue to need these tools. We are not trying to escape life but to enter life more deeply.

Development of Trust 
from A Course in Miracles

Trust is the foundation on which their ability to fulfill their function rests. Perception is the result of learning. In fact perception is learning, because cause and effect are never separated. The teachers of God have trust in the world, because they have learned it is not governed by the laws the world made up. It is governed by the power that is in them but not of them. It is this power that keeps all things safe. It is through this power that the teachers of God look on a forgiven world.
When this power has once been experienced, it is impossible to trust one’s own petty strength again. Who would attempt to fly with the wings of a sparrow when the might power of an eagle has been given him? And who would place his faith in the shabby offerings of the ego when the gifts of God are laid before him? What is it that induces them to make the shift?

First, they must go through what might be called a “period of undoing.” This need not be painful, but it is usually so experienced. It seems as if things are being taken away, and it is rarely understood initially that their lack of value is merely being recognised. How can lack of value be perceived unless the perceiver is in a position where he must see things in a different light? He is not yet at a point at which he can make the shift entirely internally. And so the plan will sometimes call for changes in what seem to be external circumstances. These changes are always helpful. When the teacher of God has learned that much, he goes on to the second stage.

Next, the teacher of God, must go through “ a period of sorting out.” This is always somewhat difficult because, having learned that the changes in his life are always helpful, he must now decide all things on the basis of whether they increase the helpfulness or hamper it. He will find that many, if not most of the things he valued before will merely hinder his ability to transfer what he has learned to new situations as they arise. Because he has valued what is really valueless, he will not generalise the lesson for fear of loss and sacrifice. It takes great learning to understand that all things, events, encounters and circumstances are helpful. It is only to the extent to which they are helpful that any degree of reality be accorded them in this world of illusion. The word “value” can apply to nothing else.

Exercise – The Question
This is a course in spiritual awakening. We have now come a long way to understanding the nature of this course. The primary purpose of the course is to establish a process of change in our life, in which, on a daily basis, we explore our perception of the world, mainly through the way we respond to other people. We identify areas where we choose to respond differently and through use of love we start to change the way we respond. This is a powerful process in its own right because continual change allows us to become in charge of our lives and allows us disassociate ourselves from negative habits, because they are no longer how we are but how we used to be.
The second element of the course is to learn to identify our spiritual nature, that which is perfect and unchanging. This brings us into awareness of the unity of all things. Without this side of the course, that is the opportunity to change towards a more satisfying and fulfilling sense of being, the process of change will ultimately be fruitless. It is the conjunction of continuous change and greater spiritual awareness that brings us to a sense of peacefulness.
In preparation for the final part of the course we need to consider our purpose behind the process of change. Are we seeking greater happiness and health? Are we seeking abundance in all things, material, relationships, and joyfulness? Are we seeking complete self realisation or enlightenment? This course can bring any of these things. We need to be clear what it is we desire. Sit quietly for a while and then ask yourself what it is you seek. Do not answer glibly, seek inside for the true purpose for you. This is an exercise in seeking your true meaning and purpose and should be undertaken sincerely. Do not try to fool yourself or others. Seek deeply for the answer.

Summary
This is the end of the first part of the course, which has been about understanding ourselves better and realising that we have two parts, a human self and a spiritual self, which operate in different ways. We have tried to become more aware of our human self and the way it operates, the image it creates and presents to the world. This image is protected by seeing the rest of the world as separate and apart.
We have tried to accept both these aspects of ourselves, realising that is how we are and not becoming self critical. At the same time we have realised that we can change. By becoming more aware of who we are and the image we present we can change those aspects which do not serve us.
Increasingly the tool for self awareness is other people. We see that the world is a reflection of us. Every perception that we have about other people and the world in general is a reflection of the image we present and choose to preserve. Every negative emotion, like fear, anger and jealousy, is an opportunity to learn and a chance to change. We see that we have a choice in how we react and we can change the way in which we respond to the world.
Yet this is a course in doing nothing. We do not have to strive and struggle to change. Because we are trying to see both sides of our nature, we are allowing our spiritual side to operate. Our spiritual side is part of a universal life force and we allow this power and energy to bring about change in our life. By becoming more aware of ourselves, being prepared to look at, and feel, our negative aspects and taking responsibility for them, we can choose what we want to change. We can transform them by feeling them and then coming back to our heart and being aware of our spiritual nature. Most of all we forgive ourselves.
We forgive ourselves because it is part of human nature to have negative feelings. Because when we feel separate from the universal life force we feel vulnerable and weak and develop a self image in order to deal with the world. It is natural and human to do this. But this is a course in spiritual awakening and as we become more aware of our spiritual nature we do not need to pretend as much.