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book-reviewsThoughts, ideas, insights and dreams are the foundation of the Harpswell Institute’s blog page. I invite you to contact me if a blog strikes a chord, or if you have something to share.

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August 8, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 220   “When you pause in your moment of silence, Always be aware of the feeling.
When the feeling of peace shall come, cherish it, reinforce it,
And return to it as many times as you can,
That it may become stronger and stronger within your mind.”
 -Brent Haskell, Journey Beyond Words   The feeling of peace is like finding a warm sunny island in the middle of a fast running river. We can stay a while but always have to jump back in. Peace isn’t something we expect to last and the truth is, we do not know how to cultivate it.   The cultivation of inner peace takes effort. How ironic! But the rewards increase over time. As I return to the feeling of peace again and again, my brain’s neural pathways to peace become well worn and easier to access. Peace becomes increasingly achievable as I return to it, cherish it, and reinforce it.   The peace of God is absolutely sure because it is the eternal state of God’s Mind, and it has no opposite in Reality. We are divinely programmed for the feeling of peace, and that is why it...
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August 7, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 219   Today’s lesson concerns the body, or rather our obsession about it – our total identification with it as our self.  The body is nothing more than a 3 dimensional representation of the ego mind. It is an illusion of form that can never fully contain the spirit that is our Self.  It is a limitation and a confinement of the Self because its function is to make separation seem real.  Minds can be joined; bodies never. Most of us live in a state of complete self-identification with the body.  We may love it or we may hate it, but our main goal is to protect it.  The body is a major source of fear- the chronic state in which we live.  Without a body we would not need to work in order to shelter it or feed it.  We would not require a fashion industry to clothe it, a medical establishment to heal it, or a military to protect it from attack by other bodies. Without the body we would be free of so much burden, and yet it seems so real.  Know this: the body was not created by...
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August 6, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 218   Each day, each hour and minute, even each second, we are choosing our reality.  Does this sound overwhelming?  It is to the ego but not so much the one who has given up guilt as a source of protection.  “How can guilt be a source of protection?” one might ask?  It is (drumroll please) a protection against God.  A short explanation is in order here but please keep in mind – it’s all metaphor.   Eons ago (and even in this moment, because there is only Now) we made a decision to experience separation from Source.  We thought it would be fun to become sole creators of our own world.  What an idea!  What a “tiny, mad, idea!”  Mad perhaps, but thoughts become things, as they are wont to do, and so this universe and everything in it came into being.   Now this idea was, of course, unopposed by Source, Which knows only absolute freedom and love.  Source remains as It has always been, constant Knowing and Love without end.  It was unmoved by the tiny mad idea because It knew it could never work.  And so we proceeded...
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August 5, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 217   The greatest gift is one I give myself, for it is the realization that I am ultimately responsible for my own happiness.   There is such freedom and power in this knowledge!  It means in every circumstance I get to choose.  Do I react out of fear, or do I allow things to unfold?  Do I condemn myself with judgment or do I leave a door open through forgiveness?   It is a game changer to claim this gift.  It unlocks latent powers and makes us vehicles for grace.  I’m still working on this gift to myself. If you think about it, the knowledge that we create our reality is truly advanced “technology.”  British astrophysicist John Gribbon famously wrote, “Nothing is real until it is observed.” Gribbon wasn’t theorizing, he was expressing a quantum truth.  My observation then, becomes my reality and each and every one of us observes the world from our own unique viewpoint.  There really is no single point of view!  If I create my own reality, then it only logical that, “It can be but my gratitude I earn.”   Today’s lesson directs us toward the feeling of gratitude...
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August 4, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 216 When I react to circumstances out of fear, I am not a place of knowing.  The place of knowing is the recognition that the situation, whatever it is, is my own co-creation.  The place of knowing says, “This situation, as difficult as it may appear to be, is nothing more than an opportunity for me to light up and dismantle old beliefs and behaviors that no longer serve me as I evolve toward my higher Self.” Choosing from a place of knowing doesn’t mean fear isn’t present in the situation.  But fear isn’t the overwhelming ingredient.  The overwhelming ingredient is trust.  The overwhelming ingredient is the knowledge that I am not a victim, but a participant in something that I have put together as a means for my own growth. When I make the first choice not to be a victim, I begin to see that I have other choices, and therein lies power.  When I act from a place of knowing I am aligned with my Self and my Creator, and whatever happens as a result will also be in alignment.  Then I get to make another choice and another.  ...
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August 3, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 215   “I am one with my Creator and I am journeying to my place of unification with that consciousness.  As I identify with that aspect of the self that is the Creator, I rise in frequency and the journey commences quickly.” –Paul Selig, I Am the Word. “In a word, the Kingdom of God is freedom.  The Kingdom of God is freedom in a sense so free, so unbound, and so unencumbered that those of you walking this earth cannot fully comprehend it.” – Bren Haskell, Journey Beyond Words The ideas for today deal with our journey toward freedom.  Freedom comes with the end of valuing the valueless.  And nothing in this world has value.  We are free to create and we are free to imagine.  Indeed, our freedom is almost unlimited.  But when we begin to value our creations, to think we need them for our happiness, we erode our freedom bit by bit.  God created us like Himself and God has no restrictions.  If we were created fettered and bound, then Source Itself must know of being fettered and bound – and this is NOT so.  “Love is the...
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August 2, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 214   Yesterday’s lesson, “All things are lessons God would have me learn,” rests on the fact that there are only two teachers in this world: the ego and the Self.  The Self is that aspect within each of us that maintains our connection to Source.  It is called the Holy Spirit, or the Universal Communicator- the name is unimportant.  What matters is how you tell the difference between the two teachers, for only one teacher is true and the other is entirely false.  The difference between the two teachers lies in how each makes us feel.  The Self always makes us feel better because it is inclusive.  It is the Voice for forgiveness and guiltlessness.  It produces a “happy learner” through the experience that giving and receiving are the same.  It teaches unity and inner peace. It teaches true freedom because it teaches invulnerability.  It is highly intelligent even as it trusts in a way that seems childish to the outside world.  The ego is the voice for guilt.  It is never satisfied because its only job is to judge and compare. It teaches specialness and separation, and it always teaches...
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August 1, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 213   “All things are lessons God would have me learn.”    All things.  Not some things.  This single lesson learned well is a complete release from the past.   We are a prisoner of our own creation.  This world is ours, not God’s.  But God is found here still, because God is everywhere.  And we are not really prisoners, we just perceive ourselves to be.  We are magnificent creators!  But we ARE lost in our creation, and so we are sent constant reminders by Source to help us remember the path back to Reality.    The power to decide to see is our one remaining decision as “prisoners” of this world.  We can decide to see the truth, which is that we manifest absolutely every single experience, and then perceive it to be outside ourselves.  We put it where it is by wanting it.  When we think we are encountering something or someone we do not want, it is still because we DO want it.  We are like children until we understand this.  When we want only love, we will see nothing else.    We have created a holographic universe.  That is...
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July 31, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 212   This world is like one big bus station, and each of us is waiting to board the bus.  The ticket to board isn’t made of paper.  It’s a vibration or a frequency composed of many things:  loving kindness, gratitude, fearlessness, trust, and peace.  My ticket, combined with your ticket, is the fuel that gets the bus moving, and to reach escape velocity the bus needs every single ticket.   Source wants us on the bus, and so we will all be on it ultimately.  But the timing is up to us because the power to choose is ours.   What is it we are choosing?  Very simply, it is the recognition of our guiltlessness, and guiltlessness is directly tied to the recognition of invulnerability.  If nothing can hurt me, and I can hurt no one, then guilt becomes impossible.  And the truth is, nothing can really hurt you, or me.   Our function in this world is forgiveness. I fulfill my function through the recognition that I am invulnerable.  And, when I accept my own invulnerability, I will no longer teach guilt.  If do not accept my own invulnerability, then I...
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July 30, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 211   “I am the holy Son of God Himself.”   Put another way, we are each of us a part of All That Is, Eternal Mind, One Love.   And we belong to a Truth that is Whole and all encompassing.  Heaven, or Reality if you will, is unambiguous.  There is no darkness there, no contrast, no variation to the peace so deep we can only be dimly aware of its edges.    How do we recognize this is Truth when we do not remember it?  Consider this:  We who do not remember the creation of the universe do not doubt its existence.  And we who do not remember our own creation do not doubt we are here.  We do not have to remember that Heaven is ours to make it so.  It is so because our Creator wills it so.  That we do not remember Heaven is not proof of its unreality.  Indeed, we are called to remember it constantly.    The call to remember Source is universal, for the memory of Heaven is implanted within our very being.  How can we long for something we have never seen?  How can we...
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July 29, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 210   “Laugh, and the world laughs with you.  Weep, and you weep alone.” - Ella Wheeler Wilcox When you’re weeping, these do not feel like kind words.  And hearing that “pain is my own idea” when I am in pain, does not feel kind either.  There are most certainly times when pain feels thrust upon us, and to hear that it is of our own choosing is an affront.  There are two things I try to keep in mind in these situations.   The first is to feel the pain fully but hold just a little part of myself aside to watch.  The second is to allow time to do its thing.  To allow healing is the purpose of time in this world, A Course in Miracles tells us. “I choose the joy of God instead of pain.”  Pain really is my own idea, for it cannot be a thought in the Mind of God.  Pain is separation from my Self, from you, from Source.  Pain is the loneliness and fear that comes up when my mind tells me separation is real.   Pain is loss and grief.  Pain is embarrassment.  Pain is...
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July 28, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 210   Have you ever had this experience?  You see someone you know and she greets you warmly.  A lovely conversation begins.  Suddenly, her phone rings and without a pause she answers it and leaves you standing there.  Or perhaps you meet an old friend in the grocery store.  Another lovely conversation begins.  Suddenly, he sees someone else across the room.  Even as he’s talking to you, his eyes refocus on the person 20 feet away and his mind has gone there.  Now he’s calling out the other person’s name to get their attention.  You might as well be in the next aisle reaching for the rice noodles. It’s not that these people are trying to be rude.  In fact, it has nothing to do with you.  These folks just aren’t present with themselves, even within their own conversations.  There have been times on these occasions when I’ve made the commitment to just stand there and wait patiently for my friend to refocus.  Sometimes it takes a while, but I’m always glad when I do.  I enjoy watching a new person enter the space we now all share.    It’s like a reunion...
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July 27, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 208   Dreams are an important source of information for me. I trust them because I cannot control their content. When asleep, the ego seems to step back, and my mind is free to roam a landscape of its own creation. Dreams are one of the ways I know A Course in Miracles is the real deal. It has altered the way I respond to situations and challenges within my dreaming life. The practice of doing the daily lesson has, quite literally, brought about an inner shift that has penetrated so deeply into my mind that it affects my dream content.   Not all my dreams are happy ones. But even in unhappy dreams I now seem to have tools at my disposal that I didn’t have before. In one dream I am sitting at the mouth of a cave. Within the cavernous darkness lies something frightening and it is about to come out and get me. Suddenly, I remember “I am a Holy Son of God,” and I decide to stand my ground instead of fleeing. What come out of the cave are cloud-like forms of intense feelings of fear, guilt,...
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July 26, 2015 A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 207   “I bless the world because I bless myself.”  This statement of love is a logical thought forward and backward.  First, when I bless my own small self I also bless the whole world, because it is immanent within me.  And when I bless the whole world, I must find myself within my own blessing because I am immanent within the whole world.  Bless the world, and I bless myself.  Bless myself and I bless the world.  The oneness is present either way.   An op-ed piece in the Sunday Times makes the point that we need more optimism.  The response was interesting.  Many people agreed, but many also argued that optimism isn’t realistic.  This is an argument that could easily be used against today’s lesson.  But what is realism?  The notion that we are not all joined is, in the end, unrealistic.  It creates behaviors that are not self-sustaining.   Only boundless love holds everything within itself and says, “Yes!” to all things.  Here is an image for today’s lesson.  We are all gathering at a bus station.  As we look around, we see many people we have not known and yet we...
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July 25, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 206   What is salvation but the unraveling of an old belief system and the creation of a new one?  What is salvation but the ability to know and say out loud, “ I am aligned to the truth of my being as a divine soul, loved and loving, capable of knowing forgiveness, and capable of bearing witness to the divine perfection that is created in every man and woman that I encounter?” What is salvation but the acceptance of the end of limitation for myself and every other being? This world is moving toward salvation now. It is time.  And you are part of it. “Salvation of the world depends on me.”  This statement, which is today’s idea, is an affirmation of your divinity.  Only the ego can see it as a burden.  When repeated it brings about an alchemical process that aligns your frequency with Truth.  When repeated on the half-hour, through out the day, the words will shift your frequency to a higher level, and this is the beginning of a great change.  The words are a broadcast signal to the universe that says, “I am now choosing to...
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July 24, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 205   Peace comes to those who want it.  In crowd, on a busy street; in a contentious office meeting; in a roomful of screaming kids; or standing alone at the end of an empty pier, peace is found in the inside space of a quiet mind that knows it has a choice.  Do I believe this world defines who and what I am?  Or, in this very moment, can I choose another way?    This world thrives on lack of peace.  There is a force here that is sustained only if you never awaken to the fact you have a choice.  It wants you always reacting, always thinking, in a state of chronic, low-grade fear.  Read the news and believe in it.  Listen to the politicians and think we must accept one of their versions of the future.  Hope against hope that you will be among those whose lives are not touched by violence.   This world would have you believe that peace consists of a few stolen moments that come and go and leave you waiting until the next one might appear.  Peace is here, but it lies hidden in the...
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July 23, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 204   I don’t know who first told me that it was a “sin” to take the name of God in vain.  To say, “God damn it!” was to risk severe backlash from heaven.  Even though I knew it wasn’t logical, some part of my mind was pretty sure God would hear my curse and there would literally be hell to pay. Where did this fearful idea come from anyway?  The dictionary describes vanity as the act of having or showing an excessively high opinion of one’s self.  Or, it can be a useless act, one that has no possibility of producing any result.  Both of these apply to “taking the name of God in vain.”  First, it can only be ego that holds itself apart from other minds.  Only the ego knows vanity.   And second, God does not recognize the ego-mind’s existence, so to call on God in this way is an exercise in futility.  So, when I say, “God damn it!” I won’t be punished by Source; I simply won’t be heard.  The part of my mind that is ego-driven does live in fear of God and the fear is...
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July 22, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 203 May you see yourself today as God sees you: complete, whole, unblemished by any imperfection, immensely beautiful, shining light, forever part of Everything. May your self-perception today rest on Source’s vision.  May you forgive all errors you have ever made, or may ever make.  For that is all they are, mistakes born of fear that has no basis in Reality.  Forgiveness is yours to give and to receive.  It is the reason you are here. May you practice today’s lesson in perfect peace.  May the thought behind this lesson raise your frequency of thought and bring you closer to knowing your Self.  The lesson today is: “I call upon God’s Name and on my own.” Practice today by keeping this lesson in your mind.  God’s Name IS your own because God is immanent within your very being.  You and I are creations of the Mind of God and there is no distance between us.  How many spiritual masters have told us to “Know thy self?”  This is what they meant.  The full thought practice for today is:  “I am not a body.  I am free.  For I am still as God...
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July 21, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 202   The coherent thought in today’s idea is the same as yesterday’s:  “I am not a body.  I am free.  For I am still as God created me”.  There is great refuge in this thought. But more importantly, it contains a frequency of truth that will make sense to all but those most vested in this world.  We more easily reach the truth of this first idea by practicing the second, which is, “I will be still an instant and go home.”   What is an “instant” and where is “home”?   The “instant” is a moment of peace and clarity, and “home” is recognized more by a feeling, or a knowing, than it is a physical place.  Have you had the experience of not wanting to awaken from a dream?  Dreams are not physical experiences, but they are feeling experiences, or knowing experiences.  They often feel more like “home” than the world of awake time.  ACIM says this is because “the world you seem to live in is not your home.  And somewhere in your mind you know that this is true.” Today’s practice asks us to “be still an instant and...
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July 20, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 201   Each daily lesson of A Course in Miracles represents a frequency of thought.  When a series of lessons are reviewed it is an invitation to experience the coherence of thought behind the separate ideas.  This coherence can be likened to a harmony of frequencies that ignite the memory of Source. In truth, each daily lesson contains the whole curriculum of ACIM.  But we all learn differently.  Some of us respond to the frequency of one idea more easily than another.  Still, if you could learn and apply just one of the daily lessons to all things that seem to happen during the day, you’d be “good to go.”  But no exceptions to the thought can be made – and that’s the rub.  We make so many little exceptions – until we don’t. The form of practice for this review is very simple.  Take 15 minutes in the morning and evening for quiet contemplation of the central thought and the day’s idea.   During the daytime on the hour, repeat the central thought, and on the half-hour, repeat the day’s idea.  Yes, you are spending the day in contemplation – even as...
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