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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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June 27, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson178   I have a mind that is in constant chatter.  Left untended it wanders into places that are none of its business.  While it can seem boring or tiresome at times, I have to mind my mind - to be mindful.  I’ve found that being mindful is ultimately much less work.  Before I go too far down a thought path, I remember to stop and ask, “Is this really where you want to go?”  Often the answer is, “Not so much.” The chattering brain thinks it’s doing its job.  Mind training doesn’t mean stopping thought so much as allowing it and calmly shining the light of awareness upon it.  I’ve found that feeling guilty about thoughts is a waste of time.  They want to be heard and will keep coming back if ignored.  Resisting a thought just feeds it.  Unpleasant thoughts feel unpleasant.  Often we don’t even realize we’ve been taken down a thought path until the body begins to squirm. A Course in Miracles is really all about “mind training.”  It recognizes we have created well-worn paths with certain thoughts - thoughts that reflect separation, judgment, and an unforgiving attitude.  A...
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June 26, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 177   Some mornings I go into my Tut quote file for a little inspiration.  The file is arranged by date, nothing more.   Here’s the one I clicked on first today.   Don’t you just love synchronicity?  This just about sums up today’s lesson:   You will live forever. (First name) you will live forever. Okay? Kind of puts everything else into perspective, huh? Tallyho, The Universe   I still remember the first time this truth really sank in.  It changed everything.  Yes, I “knew” about eternal life and all that.  But to really, really, grok my own eternal consciousness was, as today’s lesson says, freeing.  The two review lessons today are, once again, interlocking.  We are free because we are One with our Source.  Source is eternal, and creates only like Itself.  “God is but Love, and therefore so am I.” Can you allow this to sink in?  The evidence is abundant if you choose to look for it.  Practice today’s review lesson for about 15 minutes in the morning and evening.  Take your seat and get comfortable.  Keep your back straight and let the tongue lightly touch the roof of the...
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June 25, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 176   “For all of the reasons you might draw someone into your life, one would never be….to find their faults.”  -Tut   We all have a right to perfect wholeness.  It is only the acceptance of this right that seems difficult.  Once accepted for myself, it is easier to accept in you.  If I cannot accept my own perfection, I will never truly see anyone else as perfect either.  This said, I know people who bestow perfection on others but cannot see it in themselves.  But remember, I cannot give what I do not myself possess.  It’s a cop-out to say others are better than I am.  It’s really a way of denying my own worth and only the ego can be willing to do that.    Today’s two review lessons are once again encapsulated by the idea, “God is but Love, and therefore so am I.”  The lessons are: 1.“Give me your blessing holy Son of God.” 2.“I am as God created me.” Just a reminder about language here.  The Son of God is the true identity of every living thing.  It is not an exclusive term.  The teaching point...
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June 24, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 175   This morning’s New York Times featured an editorial about forgiveness – or the lack thereof.  It was written by someone explaining why she could not forgive Dylann Roof, the young man who killed nine people in a S. Carolina church.  She says, “I do not foresee ever forgiving his crimes, and I am wholly at ease with that choice…I am not filled with hate for this man because he is beneath my contempt.  We should recognize [some acts] as beyond forgiving.”   I feel for this woman but I do not believe her.  She cannot be “whole” or “at ease” with her choice because it requires her to feed her own anger day in and day out.  These are the words of someone who does not know that the miracle of forgiveness is for HER. To say some acts are beyond forgiving is to deny herself and only herself.  She has not accepted the forgiveness she herself has received.   No one can give what she has not received.  To give a thing requires first you have it in your possession. We are healed when we give healing. This is...
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June 23, 2015  Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 174   Last night I dreamt what can only be described as an aspect of original separation.  I was home for the holidays but was told my mother had decided my older sister and I would be sleeping at a neighbor’s house. There wasn’t enough room at the family home.  My response was outrage.  I felt cast aside and accused my mother of not caring enough.  “Why did I even bother to come home!” I yelled.  I threatened to leave entirely.  But secretly, I wanted her to beg me to say.  I awoke with the feeling of isolation; judgment and self-hatred hanging around like the fog. Spiritual leader Jack Kornfield says Western culture has a penchant for self-hatred, and it arises especially in spiritual seekers.  Feelings of unworthiness arise as our spiritual practices are turned against ourselves.  “I’m not doing it right.  I’m not enlightened enough. I’m not good enough to make it.”  When Kornfield asked the Dalai Lama about this in the 1980’s, he didn’t understand.  He’d never heard of self-hatred; the word does not exist in the Tibetan language.  He told Kornfield, “This is a mistake.” Hatred of self is...
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June 22, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 173   The review lessons for today are about equanimity and mindfulness.  We practice equanimity when we notice ourselves resisting the moment or holding onto something long past its due date.  Holding on is often habitual; we don’t notice we’re holding until discomfort arises – which is why mindfulness is so helpful. It allows us the simple awareness of our thoughts and reactions.  Over time, as the intention to be aware is held, an even greater degree of mindfulness unfolds. The ego is always at the center of resistance to what is.  Its idea of perfection is singular and absolute.  Yet it never finds what it is looking for and searches endlessly.  Unfortunately for the ego, it cannot know perfection because its view is so limited.  Perfection can be approached only by a mind that is in alignment with Source, and even then there is trust involved – a willingness to say, “I don’t know yet, but I will wait and see because I trust.”   Only Source knows perfect wholeness.  Only Source knows absolute perfection. Today’s two review lessons are: “I will step back and let God lead the way.” “I walk...
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June 21, 2015 A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 172   Happy Fathers Day and Happy Solstice.  As we review it will be helpful to use this time to go deeper into the lessons.   Remember, the idea behind this review is, “God is but Love, and therefore so am I.”  Each word of each lesson has a resonance, a signature, if you like.  And each lesson, when read with its companion lesson, brings new things to light.  Let’s look at how this works with today’s review lessons, which are: 1.  “In my defenselessness, my safety lies.” 2.  “I am among the ministers of God.”   First:  please do not mistake defenselessness for passivity.  Meekness is not a trait of God.  In fact, the opposite is true; Source knows Its own invulnerability.  Source cannot even conceive of self-hatred or self-doubt, nor should we.   Attack always begins first within the mind of one who doubts her own value.  Perceiving herself weak, she believes she can be attacked.  Perceiving herself vulnerable, she prepares against the inevitable, and this is how war begins.  Second:  one who knows her own safety needs no defense, and she wears this security like an invisible shield of self-love, which she...
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June 20, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 171   Lesson 171 begins another review period.  But this review has a different tone than all the others.   A Course in Miracles recognizes that what it asks of us is not always easy.  “Our footsteps have not been unwavering, and doubts have made us walk uncertainly on the road this course sets forth.”  Yet anyone who practices the daily lessons knows one thing:  they work.  They do not make us mindless, but mindful.  They do not encourage passivity, but active responsibility.  As we cross the halfway mark in this year of lessons, be willing to ask if this is true or not for you. Ask for help as you sit in contemplation.  Most of the time, most of us forget to ask.  We value independence over interconnectedness, or we fear “going to the well” too many times.   But A Course in Miracles now asks us to make asking habitual. Love’s purpose IS to assist.  In assisting us, Love fulfills its function and in asking, we fulfill ours.  Dedicate your meditations to the One whose purpose is to help you find your way to peace.  Make your contemplation a gift to Source. ...
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June 19, 2015 BlogA Course in Miracles: Lesson 170 Today's lesson is: "There is no cruelty in God and none in me." Lesson 170 contains vitally important information about how our minds work. Anyone who thinks she wants happiness in life should understand this lesson. Here is a quote from the first paragraph: "No one attacks without intent to hurt. This can have no exceptions. When you think that you attack in self-defense, you mean that to be cruel is protection; you are safe because of cruelty. You mean that you believe to hurt another brings you freedom. And you mean that to attack is to exchange the state in which you are for something better, safer, more secure from dangerous invasion and from fear." A Course is nothing if not logical. If I am Whole, Eternal, and One, then my attack on another MUST begin first with an attack against my Self. Defense is always the first act of warfare: warfare against my own invulnerability. My perceived need for defense arises out of my own denial of my perfect Self. No one can attack me unless I attack my Self first. This is always the case. There are no exceptions....
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June 18, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 169 Today's lesson is critical to our advancement. It is: "By grace I live. By grace I am released." Why do we need so much reminding that we are Love? Because guilt is so deeply embedded in the idea of who we think we are. Guilt is the belief I can split off from my Creator and be whole within my separate self. Unfortunately, once split, fear becomes the foundation of my perception - first, because I believe my Creator will come after me and punish me for my "independence," and second, because I realize that in my aloneness I am utterly vulnerable. This is a profound understanding. It says, "If I can leave God, then God can leave me.  My leaving God is an attack on Oneness, therefore God is free to attack me." This imagined split is the birth of the ego. Do you see how the ego is created in fear? Guilt must be brought to light because it is so deeply embedded in the idea of our "self" as to be invisible. Guilt is directly tied to the belief in time: what we have done in the past...
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June 17, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 168   Grace.  The word itself conveys physical beauty, fluidity of motion, or inner serenity.  A Course in Miracles defines grace as our natural state; one to which we return when we recognize forgiveness is our function on this earth.  Grace cannot be taught; it is beyond words and can only be known through direct experience.  It is an aspect of God’s love. Our lesson today is: “Your grace is given me.  I claim it now.”   Today’s lesson asks us to begin an earnest conversation with God.  God is not hiding from us.  Why should we hide from God?  God is speaking to us.  Why not speak to God?  God is leaning in to us.  We can lean back simply by consciously setting an intention to do so and then reminding ourselves often.    God’s Voice is heard in stillness, in peace, in the softest of moments. It often comes seemingly out of nowhere in the form of intuition. The more I pay attention to my intuitive ability, the more it astounds me with its accuracy.  Intuition is me, opening to a source beyond my self, saying, “Yes.  I am willing.” ...
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June 16, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 167   Today’s lesson is again meant to be taken literally.  Today’s lesson is: “There is one life, and that I share with God.” This lesson is not a metaphor.  Truth is true and must always be true.  Source IS life and It has no degrees; It either is, or It isn’t.   We associate death with the body, but the idea of death lies wholly in the mind.  Death is nothing but the thought we have separated from our Creator.  Death is an idea that resides in a mind asleep.  Source did not create us with sleeping minds, and all minds must awaken at some point.  It is impossible that my mind will not awaken because a wakened mind is my true nature.   Source created my mind, and Source created yours.  WE CANNOT, EXCEPT IN ILLUSION, CREATE A MIND WITH ATTRIBUTES UNLIKE THE MIND OF SOURCE.  The opposite of life can ONLY be another form of life.  The thought of death is opposite to thoughts of life and Source has NO thoughts of death.   God does not KNOW death for Itself or for you. “Ideas leave not their source.”  The source of...
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June 15, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 166   Yesterday I posted a news piece about plasma tubes, a phenomenon recently discovered in the Earth’s atmosphere by Cleo Loi, a 23 year-old student of astrophysics at the University of Sydney.  Created as the sun interacts with the earth’s magnetic field, these “solar portals” float 373 miles above us, opening and closing about every 8 minutes. I just love it when science approaches the door of spirituality and knocks on it.  How long have we “worshipped” the sun, somehow intuiting an influence on us that goes far beyond simple light, gravity, and warmth?  At first, Loi’s senior colleagues didn’t believe her discovery.  They even tried to convince her something was wrong with her telescope.   Sounds familiar doesn’t it?    Today’s lesson asks us to believe something about ourselves, and we most certainly need convincing.  But like Loi, we must persevere.  There is nothing wrong with our telescope if we use it correctly.   Today’s lesson is:   “I am entrusted with the gifts of God.”   Like Loi’s doubting senior colleagues we don’t see our gifts.  Our gifts are an eternal Being, a true nature based on Love, created out of...
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June 14, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 165   Most of us have heard of the phrase, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” but we aren’t really clear how this is true.  For example, we think of a person as having a heart, brain, blood vessels, etc… but science doesn’t really understand how they function together to form a whole being.  Or consider an ant colony.  It is composed of thousands of separate ants, each doing their own thing, but the colony can also often function as a well-organized unit, acting like an individual entity.    The whole Mind of God is made of all minds.  All minds were created as Mind of God extended itself – which is its inherent joy - to extend and create endlessly.  You and I are seemingly separate minds, but we are part of a whole Mind.  Like the ant colony, we go about our daily business as separate individuals, but there is a hidden force field in which we are joined lovingly and seamlessly.   Today’s lesson is:   “Let not my mind deny the Thought of God.”   I love the way A Course speaks in double negatives. ...
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June 13, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 164   “In a completely integrated universe, on all levels nothing accidental is possible.”  - David Hawkins This is not today’s lesson, but it could be.  What it says is simple, profound, and is actually quite logical.  It only requires humility to accept because it tells us nothing, absolutely nothing, from the worst crime to the most delightful experience, lies outside the Mind of God.  And it is therefore, our job to accept it as it is.  This doesn’t mean we can’t try to help or make things better, but before taking action about anything, the mind must accept reality AS IT IS NOW. Today’s lesson is: “Now we are one with Him Who is our Source.” The operative words here are Now and Source.  Source is timeless Now.  It is the absolute ground of all being.  What kind of Mind could hold all of Now within Itself?  This concept is beyond our limited perception, which is why taking issue with present reality is a form of attack on the Now.  Arguing with Now is like junk food for the ego.  It gets a quick energy boost when it competes with Source...
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June 11, 2015 A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 162   Today’s lesson is: “I am as God created me.” To understand this lesson is to know who I truly am and perhaps more importantly, who I am not.  What I am is not visible to me in the mirror.  What I am can barely be imagined in my own mind.  One thing is certain:  if I believe myself to be my body, or even the brain within my body, I cannot even approach the reality of what I am.   I am nothing without you, for we share a Mind.  We are as God created us.  Our reality is so limited we are unable to see this, and it has been the source of immeasurable pain.  Thinking we could separate from our Source, we created an alternate reality that placed our own creations above all else.  Together we made manifest a world of separation.  How powerful we are to have done this!  Can you imagine that we created this world together?   We made visible what is not true.  And what IS true became invisible to us.  Yet, it is no more up to us to decide what is visible and...
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June 10, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 161   A Course in Miracles is adamant that I must look beyond my body, and your body, to know the truth about what we are.  These are not just words.  This idea is not a metaphor for something that might be fundamentally true, but not understandable.  When A Course tells us, “You are not a body. You are free,” it means every single word in the most literal sense. Consider this:  If you were not body, would you worry about being too fat or too thin?  Would you care whether it is too cold or too hot?  Would you go to a job you didn’t like so you could buy insurance to protect the house that protects your body or the car that drives your body around? Would you worry about your aging body or whether another body might attack yours?  Would you go to war for your body?  You see where I’m going here.  The body is a symbol of fear created from a mind that believed it could separate from One Mind.  This little mind now has partial vision, a vision that is blinded to the natural condition that...
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June 9, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson160   I am chased in my dreams by something that means to destroy me.  Believing it can, I run blindly ahead as fast as I can go.  Terrified, I am barely able to turn my head to see how far back it is, much less stop and confront it.  Who has told me my dream is true?  What put the fear in me?  In some dreams I do manage to turn and confront the thing that chases me, and I always overcome it.  But it’s rare that I remember, and each time I dream of my pursuer it seems I must learn the lesson all over again.  Fear undermines all that I am when it takes over me.  My mind is confused.  I can’t think straight.  I really believe my fear.  Except when I don’t, and then I wonder why I ever believed it at all.  When I trace the source of my fear all the way back to its origins I think at first it is fear of death.  But when I go even deeper I know the terror is of being left totally alone.  It’s the fear of complete and...
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June 8, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 159     Today’s lesson is:        “I give the miracles I have received.” What is your miracle?  Do you believe they even exist? Is a miracle just an anachronism – an ancient and outdated fantasy?  I know for myself, they are real.  I’ve seen many but that’s because I’m training my mind to look for them now. A miracle is a change of mind that shifts my perspective from one of blame, fear, and judgment, to one of forgiveness, allowing, healing, and wholeness.  What other miracle could one ask for really?  How many minds do you know that need a miracle?  If I think I have a problem then I must also have the solution.  They both come as a package deal. A miracle is seeing that one implies the other. Often, a problem raises the question is, do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy?  Do I want the solution or do I want to perpetuate the problem?  My miracle is the instant in which I know my being right is not as important as the relationship.  Who has not had a moment like this, taken...
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June 7, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 158   I cannot say anything less than this: Lesson 158 is radical metaphysics.  It has the potential to shake one’s view of reality in such a way that there is temptation to resist the information it contains.  Very simply, the lesson tells us we are surrounded by a higher dimension of light, a dimension invisible to us because we perceive and believe only in 3 dimensional forms. This higher dimension, which is composed of light, contains our own within it, and is aware of ours.  The only way to reach this higher dimension is through the awareness of Oneness because its language IS Oneness.  The only way to reach awareness of Oneness is through the experience of forgiving.  The lesson for today sounds simple, but hang on for the ride.  Today’s lesson is: “Today I learn to give as I receive.” What we are in receipt of, we can give.  So it is highly important to know what I own so that I can be sure to give it away.  I own this: First:  I am a mind that has never, ever, left its Source and is fully capable of remembering...
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