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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 6, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:   Lesson 157   Last night we went to see a movie at the Frontier Café in Brunswick.  The movie, called Salt of the Earth, followed photographer Sebastiao Salgado in his travels through the continents. His purpose was to document humanity and he has done so brilliantly.  In one particularly gripping photograph, the scene is straight out of Dante’s Inferno.  It is of the Serra Pelada, a vast hole in the earth dug entirely by hand into which thousands of men descend and ascend, often 60 times a day, to seek their fortune in gold. Salgado said of the mine, “Once a man gets the hunger for gold inside him, it can never be satisfied.”  You can see the photos in the link: https://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2009/06/23/the-mines-of-serra-pelada/   Today’s lesson is about peace but what I want to write first about is valuing.   We value what we feel is necessary for us to be who we think we are.  In valuing we look outside ourselves at a thing, whether it is gold, a new car, a trip somewhere special, another person, more time, a better body, to satisfy what is required.  And so often, upon attaining the thing...
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June 5, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 156   The lesson today is quite simple and consistent.  What is true must always be true or it is not the truth.  We are created in Mind of God and thus it follows Mind of God resides in each and every one of us.  As A Course in Miracles tells us, “Ideas leave not their source.”  There is no attribute of God we do not share.  We cannot walk the world apart from Source because we cannot BE without It.  Source IS what our life is.   And so, while we may remain asleep to our Oneness, the truth is still true.  Today’s lesson is: “I walk with God in perfect holiness.” The Universe is waiting for us to step back and walk WITH it.  This is the way salvation works.  When we let go of the need to be right, the light within us shines through.  When we let go of the need to be special, to stand out, to take the lead, to control, to make things the way WE only want them to be always, the light begins to shine through.  When we begin to see that allowing is...
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June 4, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 155   “Resign now as your own teacher.” This is today’s lesson in a single sentence.  Why can I not be my own teacher?  Because I know nothing of love.  I know nothing of love because the ego has been my teacher and the curriculum of the ego is fear.  The ego teaches me my goal is to gain the whole world and lose my soul.   Source teaches me I cannot lose my soul and there is nothing of value to gain in this world. The ego is certain that love is dangerous because it requires giving up its small self to the Whole.  It never puts it this way.  In fact, the ego seems to be intently searching for love – but always on its own terms.  When its terms are not met, it begins yet another search.  The ego’s rule can be summed up as: “Seek and do NOT find.” The Love of Source is the only Love that is real.  Its rule is: “Seek and you WILL find.”  Its rule is:  everything is an expression of Itself.  The Love of Source is strong because it is UNDIVIDED.  Undivided, It...
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June 3, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 154 Today’s lesson rests again on the idea of Oneness, which is what I am and what you are.  It asks also that we remember this: no one can receive, and understand what she has received, until she passes it along.  The law of Oneness requires me to give as my acceptance of what I have been given. To receive from Source, I must give the gift away.   This thought is in direct opposition to what the world believes – which is that only things of this world are of value, and that we must hold tight to them or they will be taken from us and we will be left with nothing.  This is not an easy reversal of thinking. But there is one more aspect of today’s lesson which also runs counter to our social norms and it is this:  we have been given a role in life by a Mind that knows our strengths better than we do.  It isn’t that we don’t have free will; Source does not work without our consent. But Source is also not deceived about what we are.  The role we have been given,...
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June 2, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 153   Today’s lesson is:   “In my defenselessness my safety lies.”   All power lies in the mind and only the mind can know the unlimited freedom that is our birthright.  The body and everything of this world is, by nature, limited in its capacity for freedom because real freedom is FREEDOM FROM FEAR.   This world gives rise to fear because nothing in it is secure.  The body is healthy and then it is not.  Fortunes rise and then fall.  Skies appear clear and then cold descends.  Relationships come and they go.  Peace is secured only temporarily.   All safety in this world seems deceptive, and illusory.    In this world, defensiveness is THE way of life.   The mind is never free because it is always preparing to defend.  But this is not all.  Constant un-named threat breeds a chronic form of unconscious, low-grade fear, and anger.  Anger makes attack seem reasonable, honestly provoked, and necessary in the name of self-defense.   Attack, defense; defense attack, becomes the circle of a mental state that regards peace as a temporary luxury.   Defenselessness now appears foolish indeed.   What would happen if we all...
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June 1, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 152   There are a few absolutes in this lesson, the first of which is that Truth is unequivocal. To call something true, and then acknowledge that is has exceptions is a contradiction. Truth is whole - it is complete in its entirety. What is true is true and must always be true. Truth has no wiggle room: it either is or it isn’t.   It is True that Source created us. It is also True that Source created us with perfect equality. And it is True that our equality cannot be recognized through the dominion of one mind over another. Truth is reflected in today’s lesson, which is:   “The power of decision is my own.”     We have the gift of free will in the most extreme sense: we are free to deny the Truth. We are not free to change it because we did not create it. But we can pretend not to know it.   No one can make us suffer but our self. No one can grieve or be sick unless it is their will to do so. This is Truth. Does it seem extreme to...
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May 31, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 151     Today’s lesson is a new one.  It is: “All things are echoes of the Voice for God.”   I am both of this world, and not of this world.   I am an individual thread that is part of a whole cloth.  I am a perfect note in a symphony of unimaginable proportions.   But my view of this world is totally confused.  It is confused because it is based on partial evidence.  I hear only my own single, plaintive, note while the symphony that surrounds me remains unrecognized. I value only my own sound and so I hear none of the harmony.  I judge the other notes unworthy and so I am lonely in my assumed perfection.  This world is based on single notes that value only their own sound.  And we create a cacophony of disharmony because of it.   Remember lesson 128 that said, “This world holds nothing that I want?”  This lesson becomes clear when it is understood that there is nothing in this world that is, or can ever be, what I am or what you are.   Nothing in this world is worth valuing because...
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May 30, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 150   We work on earth in form. But there is a world of non-form. We build houses with frames, and walls, and roofs that surround us. But it is in the inner space of the house that we do our living. Our minds are full of thoughts, but it is from ocean of One Mind that all thought arises. And it is to the ocean of One Mind that all thought returns.   Accept your self as part of the Great Whole, and your world will change. Look at your sister and brother as your Self, and you will begin to see how alike we all are. See how alike we all are and judgment becomes more difficult. When judgment is recognized as a block to love, the mind begins to know peace.   Ask your self often, “Do I truly want peace or being right more important here?”  Do I want a solution, really? Or am I content to perpetuate the problem? Only you can know and you are free to choose. Keeping choosing for the ego and unhappiness will follow you like a begging dog. Choose for atonement and...
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May 29, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 149   The ideas in A Course in Miracles are for everyone. The language often isn’t. That is why I’m going to take a minute today to write about the Holy Spirit. The term itself is purely metaphorical. In the original Jewish tradition the term means “the spirit of holiness” or “the spirit of the holy place.” Western Christian traditions view the Holy Spirit as the third part of a triune composed of Jesus (the son) and God (the father). (Where the mother went is a whole different discussion.) Islam speaks of the Holy Spirit as “an agent of divine action or communication,” which actually bears more resemblance to the definition of A Course in Miracles.   The Holy Spirit, as used in A Course in Miracles, is more like an energetic bridge agent that spans the gap between the Mind of God and the mind of the ego – a mind that has split itself from its Source and no longer recognizes itself as One. I often think of the Holy Spirit as a chemical catalyst that changes a reaction, or as part of a mathematical set that unifies two sides...
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May 28, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 148   “The secret to always being in the right place, at the right time, is knowing you always are.”  -Tut   “Any response other than love arises from a confusion…” ACIM   The lesson today continues our review.  The main idea, which should ideally be the foundation for all your experiences today is:  “My mind holds only what I think with God.”   As you go about your day, watch your thoughts and know that any unloving thought you have is not real.  It simply is not an energetic match for Source Mind.  Only what is Source Mind is real – the rest is just theater. As you go about your day, be mindful of your thoughts and the two following ideas:  1.   If I defend myself, I am attacked.  Commentary: “You have projected outward what is antagonistic to what is inward…  That is why you must realize that your hatred is in your mind and not outside it before you can get rid of it: and why you must get rid of it before you can perceive the world as it really is.”  The world we perceive is a world of...
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May 27, 2015 blogA Course in Miracles: Lesson 147 Today is a day to pay attention to what I value. I like it when things are peaceful around the house. I like it when I'm getting along with others. I like it when my checking account is full. So I could say I value peace, friendship, and security. But I often feel less peaceful than I'd like, and sometimes I argue with my friends. Often I feel less than secure. So what do I REALLY value? Mostly getting my own way. More than anything, most of us value our small, separate self. And we feel good only when things are going well for the small, separate self – which isn't all that often because the world we perceive to be 'real' is largely populated by individuals who also see themselves as small, separate selfs. What my small, separate self wants is easily in conflict with what the other small, separate self next to me wants. To make life even more challenging, much of what I think I value has a short shelf-life: feelings of security, happiness and love are too often based on things I cannot control, things outside my self...
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May 26, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 146 Yesterday was an almost perfect day.  It began with a Memorial Day parade.  In Harpswell, parades are where people you know and see most every day dress up, get in old cars or new fire trucks, and drive past while you wave at them as if you’ve never seen them before.  Sometimes candy is thrown.  We love our parades and we love Shirley Thompson who organizes most of them.  In appreciation for 15 years of parade making, she was given a lovely cheese cover.  We ended the day with a potluck barbeque.  About 15 of us hung out and did nothing but eat, drink, tell stories, and listen to someone else tell stories.  Isn’t it just ducky how good friends can make you feel? It doesn’t matter much how many times you’ve heard the same joke, it’s the company that makes it funny all over again.  At one point I looked around (as I have so often done with this group) and thought, “These are my people and I’m so glad.” None of this has much to do with today’s lesson except to remind me that sometimes, in rare moments, I...
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May 25, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 145 Today is a day to use your mind for a specific purpose.  Today we try to imagine a world where love abides completely and yet no one values anything.  We can do this because our mind can remember that love is eternal but valuing is not.  We value sunshine.  We value our healthy body.  We value a nice house and a great garden.  We value our high paying job.  The opposite of these we do not value: a cold rainy day, a sick body, a house in disarray, and a low-paying, unfulfilling job.  We value a beautiful spouse, the admiration of friends, the respect of colleagues, and well adjusted kids.  We do not value a spouse that betrays us, friends who do not respect us, the failure to get a job, or kids that do not make us proud.  A mind that ceases valuing leaves a lot of open space.  A mind that knows its Source can entertain any idea; it is not threatened by opposition or conflict.  When you realize you are One with everything, no matter how it looks on the surface, you realize the uselessness of valuing.  Everyone...
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May 24, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 144   Welcome to review this Sunday morning.   Last night I woke up with a profound sense of knowing that all things originate in my mind. Sounds simple doesn’t it?   I’ve heard these words more times than I can count.  I’ve written them more times than I can count.  But last night when I woke up, I KNEW.  I can barely hold onto this knowing now, as I write this blog, but the certainty that I knew is still with me.  The central theme of this review is: “My mind holds only what I think with God.”  My mind is my essence.  It is the energetic form of my individuality, which is not the same as my ego.  My mind is joined in formless union with yours, and ours is joined with all other minds in the Mind of God.  Everything originates in our mind. When I think with my ego mind, which is the mind of fear and separation, which is the mind of competitiveness and struggle, which is the mind of scarcity and time and death, I am not thinking with God.  God’s Mind does not know fear, or scarcity,...
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May 23, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 143    Here is the fundamental question A Course in Miraclesasks: “Do you really believe you can make a voice that can drown out God’s?  Do you really believe you can devise a thought system than can separate you from God?  Do you really believe you can plan for your safety and joy better than God can? “   The ego’s answer to this question is a loud “YES!” and it is the source of all unhappiness because it is in constant fear and resistance to what IS.  Today we continue with the major review lesson, which is: “My mind holds only what I think with God,” and two review ideas.  A key word in this lesson is “holds.”  On the surface, my mind contains many thoughts, most of which are useless because they are ego-based.  The thoughts I think with God are my only real thoughts because they are a match for the Mind in which I exist; a Mind that is Love.     Today’s ideas are: 1.In quiet I receive God’s Word today. Commentary:  Take a break from the circus whose only purpose is to drown out the Voice...
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May 22, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 142   A recent article by Susan S. Phillips in the journal Presence describes the shallowness of our culture as “the circus” – “A frenetic, impersonal environment of surface dazzle, masks and costumes, marked by victory and defeat, in which performers are watched by spectators cloaked in the shadows of the stands.” Anyone reading today’s New York Times about Hillary Clinton’s emails will immediately see this connection!   The circus is relentless. We take rest from it by tuning out, trolling the mall, surfing the Net, gardening occasionally, drinking, watching TV. etc.… Sometimes we sit in the shadow of the sidelines for a while, mesmerized by the spectacle. Then we either volunteer or are forced to jump back into the ring, to play the game, to be an actor in the play that never ends. Or seems to never end. Today we take a rest not by sitting on the sidelines but by getting out of the circus tent altogether.   Today’s lesson invites you to leave the tent by connecting your mind to its Source. The central theme of today's review lesson is: “My mind holds only what I think with...
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May 21, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 141.   A Course in Miracles teaches us that thought is creation.  Our very existence is a thought in the Mind of God.  The truth of What we are is What our Creator Is, and yet we seem unable to perceive this truth.  Why can’t we just know this and be done with all this foolishness? Most people’s perception is built on experience and expectation.  The ego’s perception is created from past regrets and future fears and it is from this foundation that belief arises.  In effect, we are what we believe.  Or more accurately, we are what our mind believes.  A Course is very clear:  if you do not see clearly it is because you are interpreting against Love and therefore do not believe it.  These lessons lead to a new kind of experience that gently teaches us to be less and less willing to deny Love, or to block its presence from our perception. The power of these lessons lies in the fact that they show us what we want to be and give us the means to experience it.  The freedom to leave behind false perceptions of guilt and...
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May 20, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 140   The word “salvation”, which is the cornerstone of today’s lesson, is laden with old meaning.  Personally, the word conjures images of tent revival meetings, but perhaps you have your own associations.  A Course in Miracles often turns traditional meaning on its head, and today’s lesson is no exception, for here ‘salvation’ is defined as the undoing of thought, specifically the belief that separation from Source and from each other is real.    Salvation “saves” the mind that believes it can, and indeed has, split from God and is totally confused about what it is.   So today’s lesson is: “Only salvation can be said to cure.” It is only the mind that needs to be “cured.”  In fact, “cures” that focus only on the body merely add to the illusion of separation.   A Course in Miracles boldly defines medicine as a form of “magic” because it is based on the belief that it is only the body that needs healing.  It does recognize or concern itself with spirit, which is the source of the body.  “There is no remedy the world provides that can effect a change in anything.  The mind...
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May 19, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 139   Eckhart Tolle tells of his experience on the dark night of his awakening.  Full of self- loathing and contemplating suicide, he thought over and over, “I cannot live with myself any longer.”  Suddenly he became aware of what a peculiar thought that was.  “If I cannot live with my self, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with.”  “Maybe,” he thought, “only one of them is real.”  Stunned by this strange realization, Tolle was drawn into a vortex of energy – and the rest is history. Tolle’s question forms the heart of A Course in Miracles.  Who are you? The answer is stunning, for A Course tells us, “Uncertainty about what you must be is self-deception on a scale so vast, its magnitude can hardly be conceived.”  What is this uncertainty? And who are we?  The answer is no less than divine.  We are the divine spark of an eternal flame.  We are an immortal fractal of a divine Whole Whose pattern is so grand as to be unfathomable.  You and I are at One, in At-one-ment with each other and with...
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May 18, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 138   Today’s lesson is: “Heaven is a decision I must make.”   On this earth, heaven is a healed mind.   Apart from this earth, we are told heaven simply IS, but here we seem to have alternatives to choose from.  Here it seems all things have an opposite, so if heaven exists (out there somewhere) hell must exist too. A Course in Miracles asks us to consider truth differently.  Like physic’s law of conservation (which says energy can be neither created nor destroyed) A Course in Miracles says, “Creation knows no opposite.” God IS and there is no opposite to God or to God’s creations.  What is true is true, and nothing else is true. Heaven is a mind that no longer sees opposites to God but finds God in all creation.  This is not what we have learned but it can be recognized - often after many false starts and paths to no-where.  Heaven is chosen consciously but the choice cannot be made until alternatives are accurately seen and understood.  The barrier to conscious choice is fear.  The ego wants to make this world so complicated that the simplicity of...
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