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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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July 19, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 200 When I tell myself I know what should or should not happen, it’s a sign I’m confused.   I’m pleased when things seem to go well for me, but not so much when they don’t.  My confusion lies in the belief that there is anything that isn’t always in my favor. When I look to the things of this world to make me happy, it’s a sign I’m confused.  It’s not the purpose of this world to make me happy. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t enjoy myself, my friends, or the natural world.  I love that I love my friends. I totally enjoy the smell of clean clothes.  The sight of a night field alit with fireflies fills me with delight.  I can get very upset at the stupidity of greed and war.  But I have to step back with both the good and the bad and remind myself I’m making it all up.  It’s all happening in my own mind.  Literally.   This ‘reality’ is not our home.  We’re just playing in the sandbox.  Our real home is in the Mind of God.  Our real home is not a physical place,...
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July 18, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 199 The day is coming when we will laugh at the thought that the brain creates consciousness.  We will know, because quantum science will create experiments that show consciousness exists beyond the physical body, beyond time and beyond all space.  And yet even this discovery, which will be heralded as “new” and “groundbreaking” will only confirm, in the language of science, what we were told in the language of faith eons ago: we are not humans having a spiritual experience, but we are spirit having an experience of being human.  This is today’s important lesson: “I am not a body. I am free.” Learn this lesson and know one of the most cherished truths about yourself.  Believe this lesson and the level of fear you experience in this life will diminish beyond anything you could have hoped for.  ACIM tells us, “It is essential for your progress in this course that you accept today’s idea, and hold it very dear.  Be not concerned that to the ego it is quite insane.” You are not a body.  You are free. Yet freedom is hidden as long as you perceive your mind to reside...
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July 17, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 198   Between the two of us there is only one of us who is real.  No kidding; only one of us is real.  The reality is we are both real ONLY in our Oneness.  Our Oneness makes us invincible but there are other benefits too.  Recognizing our Oneness is the beginning of the end of the ignorance that causes so much pain.  The lessons this week have consisted of a series of attempts to get us to see our Oneness.  Today’s lesson is no different.  “Only my condemnation injures me.” Injury always begins as a thought.  In fact, the first thought that began this world was the first injury we made upon our Self.  And in reality – this is the ONLY injury there is.  The original injury takes countless forms but beneath each seemingly separate injury lies one thought:  the belief there is a you and a me - the belief that I can do unto you what I would not want done to me - and get away with it. The first and only injury in the entire universe is the thought of separation.  This thought is wrought with...
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July 16, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 197   What does it mean to exist in Oneness while we are here in seemingly separate bodies with separate minds?  Certainly, A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is not alone in its emphasis on Oneness.  Traditional Christianity tells us there is One God. Islam teaches uses the word Tawid for the “oneness of God.”  The Bahai faith teaches that all religions are an aspect of the Oneness, and all individuals and societies are part of a collective of One.  Buddhism teaches the oneness of all things. The Tao is all things, and Hinduism tells us each soul is part of one cosmic soul.  So what do we do with all this Oneness while we are in seemingly separate bodies? ACIM tells us we have to practice living in oneness to understand it.  It is through the experience of being Oneness we begin to know it.  Oneness is a being thing, not an intellectual thing. Yesterday’s lesson, “ It can be but myself I crucify” is a practice of Oneness: I cannot hurt you without hurting myself. It is an illusion to think otherwise.  Today’s lesson follows the same Oneness logic.  “It can...
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July 15, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 196    Have you ever noticed that when you throw away empty bottles of hand lotion there is always about an inch left in the bottom?  You just can’t get to it, and seems like such a waste to throw out.  The other day my daughter was cleaning her room and came down with several different bottles of hand cream.  Thinking I’d be a thrifty and environmentally conscious citizen, I scooped the contents into one little jar and put it by the kitchen sink.  I inwardly congratulated myself for doing this.  When I came down the next morning, the container was gone.  My husband had made us dinner the night before and I immediately knew he had thrown it out.  Bummer!  What right did he have to throw out my hand cream?  In a flash I felt the steam rising.  I considered that it would be perfectly justifiable to march right upstairs and demand he acknowledge what he’d done.  Then he would apologize.    But I was generous.  To myself.   I decided to give myself a moment to consider that if hand cream was supposed to be there, it would be.  It...
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July 14, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 195 The idea of Oneness and the feeling of gratitude are joined together.  But gratitude, as a form of Oneness, is still a tricky thing for many of us.  Perhaps it is because we still don’t see Love and Oneness as the same thing yet. Today’s lesson is: “Love is the way I walk in gratitude.” The cold winters of Maine make me grateful for the delights of summer.  I am grateful for my health because I hold memories of being sick.  I drive by a panhandler on the streets of Portland and feel gratitude that I am in my car, with my family, driving to a nice restaurant to eat a meal together.  I even notice a bit of resentment because the man on the street makes me feel a tad guilty that I can go out to eat and he apparently cannot.   What does any of this gratefulness have to do with Oneness, which sees nothing outside Itself?  The cold winter is no better or worse than summer.  The panhandler on the street is an aspect of myself, even as I experience feelings about his being in ‘my’ world. Today’s...
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July 13, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 194 “I place the future in the hands of God.” This morning my husband and I have a discussion.  He thinks I stole the sheets last night, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t and I have the proof.  He doesn’t care about my proof.  His mind is made up. Come to think of it, so is mine.  Whose mind can I change?  Only mine.   What can I change about my mind?  I can open it - right now.  When I open it now, I realize (yet again) that I can choose not to believe what I think I think. I like this feeling that I don’t have to believe my thoughts.  Not believing my thoughts is helpful to my happiness.  I don’t have to believe anyone else’s thoughts either.  They’re just thoughts.  One thought can never represent the whole truth, so why close my mind and only allow the ones I think are ‘mine’? A mind open now is a gentle mind because it’s relaxed.  Nothing has power over it now because it’s not engaged in resistance to anything.  It doesn’t hold onto the past and it doesn’t fear the future.  It...
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July 12, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 192   “All things are lessons God would have me learn.”   Today’s lesson concerns the nature of One Mind and how your mind, and my mind work together with It.  This is not unimportant information.  It will show you why forgiveness is your function and the key to happiness in this world. The words of this lesson are a primer for a truth so enormous it will challenge everything you think you think.  First of all, the lesson tells us ALL things are a lesson.  Not some things.  Not a few.  ALL.  Why is this?  Because God’s Mind is ONE and there is no duality ever, in any way, in God’s Mind.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing, outside of God’s Mind.  You and I do not get to choose what is in God’s Mind. What then is the lesson God would have me learn about all things?  Simply this: “Forgive ALL things and you will see them differently.”  The lesson here lies IN the forgiveness.  And here is the kicker: we must forgive all things because we have created them.  It is only OURSELVES WE ARE EVER FORGIVING.  You and I...
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July 11, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 191   “I have a function God would have me fill.”   The next few lessons contain enormous metaphysical truths. All of them rest on today’s lesson, which tells us nothing less than our single most important reason for coming to this earth: the learning of forgiveness. Learn this lesson and you have learned all you need to know. Practice this lesson, and your peace will increase immeasurably, because the peace of those around you will increase, and we MUST give to receive. Can you see how forgiveness increases peace exponentially?   Forgiveness is a form of energy. It literally unravels other energetic forms that block the awareness to Love’s presence. Forgiveness is the closest thing we can come to heaven on this earth. It creates an open mind with which we can see Reality. And Reality is never, ever too big for a mind opened in forgiveness. Forgiveness is the means by which the fear of death, in all its forms, is overcome. A forgiving mind fears no retribution. Forgiveness literally disables attack thoughts. Forgiveness allows me to experience the truth that there is nothing to forgive. It shows me through...
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July 9, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 190   “I choose the joy of God instead of pain.”   To say this world is not real is to invite a certain cynical response. If this world isn’t real, then what is? There is no plausible answer for anyone who has not questioned the contents of her own mind.   The lesson for today most certainly invites a cynical response for it goes so far as to say that all pain is in the mind, and only in the mind. For anyone who has suffered, or is suffering now from physical pain, I know this lesson can be an affront. If someone had told me my gallstones were all in my mind, even doubled over I probably would have found the strength to smack them.   And yet the world we see must be known for the illusion it is, for the sight of it is costing us another kind of vision. A Course emphatically says,   “You cannot see two worlds. You do not really want the world you see for it has disappointed you since time began. The homes you built have never sheltered you. The roads you...
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July 8, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 189   “I feel the Love of God within me now.”   Loving ourselves is a tricky business. Most of us are taught early on that love in this world is largely reserved for the deserving, and deserving is always determined by outside interests. Did you do well in school? Did you mind your parents? Were you polite to others? Did you make the right choices about your job, your mate, your kids? Rarely, if ever, are we told the truth: that it is enough to simply feel the love of God within. Today’s lesson asks us to love ourselves unconditionally. For many of us, this is an unknown path. But remember the three components of the Law of Love: First, I can only give that which I already possess. Second, I can only receive through giving away what I have. And third, I can only increase what I have through sharing it. The Law of Love is the Law of Oneness.   Love sees Love in you and in me. And Love, wishing to extend Itself, must give Itself and BE RECEIVED. But the ego does not know the Law of...
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July 7, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 188 “The peace of God is shining in me now.” Yesterday I attended a presentation about “emotional intelligence” in the work place.  There were many words used to describe “EI”, but basically the concept involves the practice of taking action from a place of peace.   At the end of the presentation everyone pretty much agreed “EI” is in short supply.  It isn’t because we aren’t capable of it.  It’s because we don’t demonstrate it in ourselves or require it from others.  We give out and put up with less than we deserve.  We do not recognize the light within and we fail to see it around us. Everyone has the light within.  Not a single one of us would be here without it.  But it isn’t perceived with the body’s eyes, which are confused too often as the only tool of sight.  Light is felt with the heart and known with the inner vision of a quiet mind.  The light is what gives us power to hope, to see the goodness in ourselves and in others.  It extends itself into everything because it is a foundation of all Being.  Light is a...
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July 4, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 185 Happy Fourth everyone.  As we celebrate a successful revolution, it is ironic that today’s lesson is: “I want the peace of God.” Don’t we all want the peace of God?  Of course we do, but this lesson requires truthfulness in the asking.  It is safe to say that all of us might express the desire for peace.  The question is, what are we willing to do for it?  “I want the peace of God.”  A Course in Miracles (ACIM) says no one can mean these words and not be healed.  But to say I want the peace of God requires that I also renounce all dreams, and this world is nothing but a dream.  It is a dream in which I seem to believe that I live in separation from everything and everyone.  It is a world in which I give names to separate things and separate bodies to distinguish them from myself.  To say I want the peace of God requires that I end all forms of separation for myself and accept that nothing, absolutely nothing, happens outside the unity of God’s Mind.  This is a tall order.  A mind...
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July 5, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 186   Today’s lesson may give you pause only because it is a reversal in thinking.  Today we learn that: “Salvation of the world depends on me.” An untrained mind might see this statement as arrogant.  A mind with some training might secretly wish to turn and run the other way.  But a trained mind will accept this role with humility, knowing it requires no more effort than to deny the denial of the true Self.  There is true peace in this. Salvation of the world asks me to remember my function here, and my function is forgiveness.  Forgiveness asks only that I refrain from all judgments that limit love.  Forgiveness asks that I remain neutral in the face of anger and fear.  It asks for openness, that I become the calm watcher of the movie that seemingly unfolds before me day after day, in seemingly linear time.  It is the true arrogance of ego that tells me I cannot learn the lesson of forgiveness.  Ego would have me remain forever undeveloped, with conflicting goals that confuse and even terrify me.  Ego thrives on vagueness, impermanence, and uncertainty, and wholeheartedly supports the...
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July 3, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 184   Today’s lesson is:  “The Name of God is my inheritance.”   Abstract thought, ACIM tells us, is our natural way of “thinking.”  But here, we believe we know only when something has been studied, inventoried, and given a name.  We name everything: species, genus, family, order, and so on.  We divide, then name what we have divided, look for more differences, and rename again – all of which makes us think we understand our world, how it functions, and its purpose.  Each thing we divide becomes a separate entity, carved out of unity.  As we divide we lose sight of the Whole.  You are you, with your special name.  I am me, with my special name. Our separate bodies travel to separate places and live in separate spaces, on separate streets, in separate towns, and cities.  Tomorrow we all celebrate being “one nation, under God” separate, distinct, and presumably better than, all other nations.  As we separate things from each other, we get further from the Truth.   Years, months, hours, minutes, seconds, nanoseconds…all become discrete events.  We believe this separating is essential to learning and communicating what we know.  But...
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July 2, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 183   Today’s lesson is: I call upon God’s Name and on my own.” Today I want to write a little bit about time.  We have passed the halfway mark in the Lesson Book and it is important to understand the concept of time as we go forward.  Simply put, A Course tells us our concept of linear time is an illusion, created by the split mind of ego.  The ego invests itself heavily in the past, for it is the past that the ego uses to ensure its own future. The idea of NOW has no meaning to the ego because it cannot free the present moment from the past.  The ego sees the present only as a continuation of the past, with all its attributes of pain and regret.  Therefore all ego reactions to people, places, things, and events are dictated by a past reference point that the ego views as unchangeable.  For this simple, yet profound reason, we never see things as they are, but we see them only as they are NOT. Consider this: we consider it “natural” to use our past experience as the reference point from...
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July 1, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 182   There is almost nothing I can add to the lesson for today.  Search inside and see if the words ring true for you.  Today’s lesson is: “I will be still an instant and go home.” A Course in Miracles is without doubt on this point:  This world we seem to live in is not our true home. We did not originate here, and somewhere in our minds, we know this is true. “A memory of home keeps haunting you.  It is nothing so definite you could say with certainty you are an exile here.  It is a persistent feeling, a tiny throb, sometimes actively dismissed, but surely to return to mind again.  We try to put aside this feeling.  We occupy our time with games, deny our sadness, or call it illusion.  Yet, who in simple honesty, without defensiveness and self-deception, would deny she understands the words we speak?” There is an inner Child who lives in each of us.  This Child is our defenselessness and it is this Child who knows she is not home.  I’ll tell you a story about this Child.  For years I had recurring dreams...
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June 30, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 181 Leaving last week’s review behind, A Course now takes us in a new direction.  Simply put, we begin a more advanced level of mind training, the point of which is to maintain a focus on the NOW moment.  But before we begin, there are a few things to consider. First, it is important to recognize that what we see is consistent only because our focus is consistent; change my focus and my perception begins to shift accordingly.  Most of us are focused on the physical body, a condition whose only result must be fear and separation.  We are now being asked to focus more intently on conditions beyond the physical.  Second, we are at a point in A Course where we can see its benefits clearly, but we can also be dismayed by the “depressing and restricting thought that, even if you should succeed, you will inevitably lose your way again.”   This is a critical junction and it is why A Course now instructs us to BE CONCERNED ONLY WITH THE PRESENT MOMENT.  It does not matter that you have failed in the past.  The past does not exist and the...
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June 29, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 180   Grace has an ephemeral quality for those of us who live in the shadows and call them real.  It is like a light that appears suddenly and is gone, leaving us to wonder if it was just a trick of the eye.   A Course in Miracles describes grace as a “holy instant” of divine union, often given when least expected.  This is because we’ve usually tried every other avenue to achieve our goals and failed.  Grace can be found quietly waiting for us after we’ve ended struggle.  Grace is our natural state and it is is freely given. This is why the ego so opposes its recognition.  For the ego, nothing is free; nothing comes without a cost, some form of payback, or hidden agenda. Today is our last day of review for this period and it is a day we learn again to receive grace.  It is altogether strange that we need to learn to receive what is rightfully ours.  But humanity has strayed so far from its Source that re-learning is needed.  Practice today for 15 minutes in the morning and evening before bedtime.  Begin by taking...
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June 28, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 179   Here is the thing about forgiveness:  I don’t know what I don’t know.  The decision to consider forgiveness opens a door in my mind - a door to seeing what has been hidden.   How can I know what I don’t know?  I can’t even imagine what I don’t know.  This is where grace comes in.  When I make the choice to forgive, I begin to see more of Reality because Reality includes all viewpoints – not just my version of it.  When I choose not to forgive, I am choosing separation and separation sees only a series of partial truths: mine, yours, ours, theirs.  The more versions of reality I am able to include in my mind, the closer I come to understanding Reality.  So forgiveness is about seeing that I don’t know what I don’t know.  And grace is the little voice that prompts me to say,  “You may not know.  Let’s explore a little.” Reality is Oneness and we share Reality with Mind.  Oneness does not stop because we don’t see it.  The Universe of Love does not need our permission, but It gladly accepts our acceptance.  It...
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