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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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May 17, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 137   The language of A Course in Miracles can be confusing. The logic of its reasoning is often circular. It seems to be specifically designed this way – to make us think as we read. It ensures against mental laziness. On the surface, today’s lesson seems quite simple. It is not.   Today we learn:   “When I am healed I am not healed alone.”   Okay, seems easy enough. But wait a minute. Does this mean a healed mind will heal a body? Or, that a healed mind can heal others? Perhaps it sometimes does. But most of the time it doesn’t. As I said yesterday, every master teacher I have known has faced illness and death in the body. So what gives? It cannot be emphasized enough that we are NOT our body! My illness may reflect a poison within, but my health does not always reflect my goodness. My desire not to be ill only values my body and makes it real. My focus is still on my body rather than what I am – essence, spirit, wholeness of Mind. If I choose a symptom, however minor, and...
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May 16, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 136   Let us remember something about yesterday’s lesson as we review the lesson for today. Yesterday, we learned the ego relies on two things for its existence. First, it never dwells in the present moment but always wants to focus on some past event or future threat. Second, it wants your mind to look for truth only in the body and all things related to the body. And so we have today’s lesson, which may seem a bit “new agey” but which is increasingly evident in the scientific community. The lesson for today tells us that all sickness arises in the unhealed mind. The lesson is:   “Sickness is a defense against the truth.”   Let me say before we begin here that every master teacher I have known has gotten sick. Cancer has taken several of the best, including Ken Wapnick and Sri Nisargardatta Marharaj. Several others are cancer survivors. What I am trying to say here is, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES FEEL GUILTY ABOUT ANY ILLNESS YOU HAVE HAD IN THE PAST OR MAY HAVE IN THE FUTURE. GUILT IS UNNECESSARY AND AN OBSTRUCTION TO TRUTH. Now, may...
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May 15, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 135   We approach the half way mark of lessons from A Course in Miracles.  Today’s lesson, as explained in the book, is one of the longest.  This is because it spares no emphasis on the importance of what it teaches.  But if the lesson could be summed up in one sentence it would be “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow without laboring or spinning.”  Or, as Eckhart Tolle tells us “Live with the power of Now.”   Today’s lesson is: “If I defend myself I am attacked.”   Attack takes two forms:  it is always upon the present moment and for the body.  The world operates on the belief that we must protect ourselves now from a future moment because it WILL contain something threatening.  Defense is therefore imperative.  And what do I defend?  Always my body.  What else is there to defend?  My insane belief that I am only a body makes defense the first act of warfare.   Yet the body is a wholly neutral thing and its defense is seen as necessary only by a mind that is not healed.   A healed mind knows its...
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May 14, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles Lesson 134   Take a moment and imagine that before your birth you got together with all your dearest friends and decided to write a play.  In this play, some of you would take the role of villain, some the poor fool, others the wealthy magnate, the harried mother, the inventor, and so on.  Each role would not only be fun but would offer the actor wonderful information about herself that would enhance the whole group when it got back together again.  Last, to make the whole thing even more fantastic, exciting, and valuable, at birth on Earth, you would all become your roles, forgetting the whole thing was a play. As silly, or merely imaginative as the above may sound, it is a metaphorical representation of our true condition here.  But there is a problem; we HAVE become lost in our play.  We have forgotten the part about it not being real, and this is causing all our pain and suffering.  But there is a way back to remembering our true nature and the true nature of our friends, and it is in today’s lesson:   “Let me perceive forgiveness as it...
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May 13, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 133   I have just returned from a visit with my brother who lives with his wife Jennifer on about 21 acres of just outside Charlottesville, Virginia.  Jennifer is an organic farmer. She has wanted to be a farmer just about since I’ve known her – for over 20 years. After 15 years of closed-in living in suburban Maryland, she has manifested her dream. I’ve been blessed to watch it happen. Jennifer is a dynamo.  She’s no bigger than I am but she built most of her chicken houses by hand.  She bent steel frames to make raised beds in which she grows spinach, kale, chicory, onions, and dozens of other delicious edibles.  The chickens and the ducks roam freely and regularly come up to the back porch to say hello or receive a handout of bread or melon.   They sidestep the cats, one of whom follows Jen around the farm as she spends her day.  Standing on the edge of the porch with my brother it seemed the earth was alive and vibrant, and everything in it was happy. Jennifer, in partnership with John, has made a world.  I am not...
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May 9, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 129   Today’s lesson is: “Beyond this world there is a world I want.” Yesterday we meditated on how little of this world is really of any value at all. What is there to value in a world of separation, where it appears that one is entitled to more than another, where one is entitled to be better, higher, safer, healthier, more knowledgeable, more “special” than another.  Both excess and lack are things of this world.  They are not thoughts in the Mind of God.  Who would value this?  If I have excess, I live in fear of losing it.  If I have lack, I dream only of having more.  This world is valuable only in that it shows us what we do NOT want! But we are not left hanging here.  There is a world beyond this world of three dimensions, linear time, separated minds, and physical death.  It is this world upon which we now place our attention, for where the mind goes, so is reality seen.  Make no mistake, we are not alone in this effort.  Never before have so many people placed their attention on a greater reality...
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May 8, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 128   Prepare for blast off.  Today’s lesson is pretty blunt and some of you may want to challenge it.  But hold off for a moment and read this through.  Today’s lesson is: “The world I see holds nothing that I want.”   It might help to understand this lesson by paying attention to the words “I see.”  What is the world you see? Certainly there is beauty here and love is found as well.  But for the most part, what we see and expect in this world is struggle mixed with despair, punctuated by a few moments of what passes for joy.  It seems to be a place where justice is meted out like a rare commodity, where the underserving are rewarded for their selfishness, and where goodness lies vulnerable to the whims of those whose hearts and minds are closed to light.    This world depends upon laws that require us to see ourselves as entirely limited. Our unquestioned identity is tied to a body that is vulnerable to sickness and all manner of attack.  The belief in the body confirms that tiredness is normal, hopelessness is to be expected,...
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May 7, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 127 What is the goal of A Course in Miracles?  To help us find peace by remembering what we are.   There are many names for what we are, but the truest one is that we are Love.  Today we seek connection with Love, which is what God is, and what we are.  A Course tells us this lesson is “the largest single step this course requests in your advance towards its established goal,” which is peace.  Today’s lesson is: “There is no love but God’s.” What is love?  It is just what we have been saying God is:  Love is One. Love cannot separate or divide because It is a without any opposite.  Love is like a gravitational field that never ends and holds everything within Itself.  Love, in most ways, is not of this world.  That is hard for us to hear and yet we CAN know Love because It is what we are.  Love is our salvation from this world.  Let’s look at what Love is not. Love does not judge.  Love does not punish.  Love does not measure.  Love does not end.  Love does not value one thing over...
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May 6, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 126 Today’s lesson is: “All that I give is given to myself.” Ten years ago, when I first began my spiritual journey in earnest, I was instructed to do a breathing practice.  In this practice I was asked to breathe in light and breathe out all negativity, fear and guilt that did not serve me.  I was to imagine the light coming in from all parts of the universe, into every cell of my body:  light to my feet, my back and sides, the chest and neck area, and the top of my head.  On the exhale, I was to imagine blue smoke leaving every part of my body and being “pushed” to the ends of the universe. This exercise was one of my favorites because I absolutely loved the exhale.  I could feel the guilt and anger leaving me, and it was wonderful!  But there was one difficulty.  I little room in myself for the light.  I felt so full of the negative stuff that I couldn’t breathe in much.  I felt I could breath out forever; I had so much to let go of.  Luckily, for some reason, I did...
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May 5, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 125   Today we are asked only to be quiet and listen.  No one can listen for us, and we cannot hear with a mind full of noise. Today’s lesson is: “In quiet I receive God’s word today.” Today we are asked not to struggle and not to judge.  Minds cannot be changed through force or shame but they can be opened though love.  What you are, what I am, is beyond judgment.  How can essence by judged by a mind that believes it is a body? Be silent today and listen to your Self.  The world will change through you.  Your work today, if it can be called work, is to find peace, to cultivate it in yourself, and quietly share it with the world.  No more is asked, but do not take this task lightly.  What you will find in peace and quiet is the only thing that is real in this world. Three times today, in the morning, mid-day, and evening, take ten minutes and sit in quiet.  Leave behind the world that measures achievement through strain and effort.  Leave behind the voices that judge this and that as...
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May 4, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 124   Today’s lesson can be repeated a thousand times and it will not be too much.  It can be the first thing you think of when you wake up and the last thing you remember before sleep.  It is a gift that never stops giving.  Today’s lesson is: “Let me remember I am one with God.” This world would have us believe in the absolute value of our unique identity.  In fact, it tells us that our uniqueness is ALL we are – that without it, we are nothing.  This special self is the ego’s identity and believing in it leaves us all alone with our preciousness. Each of us is holy and each of us is one with God.  Being one in God we are one with everyone and everything.  Make no mistake; our perception of this world is completely backward.  We are not in this world but this world is in us.  Don’t ask this world to tell you who you are. This world believes it has left heaven.  It will tell you heaven is a separate place, out there somewhere, with limited access only for the very few. ...
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May 3, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 123   Today’s lesson asks us to be thankful.  But what if you don’t really feel so thankful today?  What if you’ve woken up late after a not-so-great sleep, or a dream that has left a vague sense of discomfort?  What if you’ve had an argument with someone yesterday that is left unresolved, or if the morning news makes thankfulness seem like a bad joke? If you feel like this, know you are not alone.  Don’t force the feeling of being thankful, or feel “less than” because it isn’t there.  Be WITH what you feel.  Allow your not-so-great feelings to rise up in your mind, in your heart, and your body, and be recognized.  Say hello to them.  Wallow knowingly in them if you want.  But do yourself a favor, a big favor, and try to know that your feelings are not who you are.  The very fact that you are able to watch them or say to yourself, “I’m wallowing in these feelings” is enough. For if you allow all feelings and just keep watching, eventually you will sense beneath the discomfort something gentle, sustained and connected.  It won’t punish you...
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May 2, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 122   Nothing is asked of us today.  Nothing is required and nothing is expected.  Today, we are asked only to let go of all the blocks to peace.  Today’s lesson is: “Forgiveness offers everything I want.” Do you desire peace?  Do you want happiness?  Do you yearn for a quiet mind?  Do you want gentleness that never goes away?  Stop judging.    Do you want certainty of purpose, a sense of worth that transcends all things?  Do you want a sense of care and safety?  Trust yourself and your Source. Play easily today.  Place no obstacles in your own path.  Let go of your thoughts.  Let go of your feelings.  Let go of expectation about what should or should not be.  None of it means anything at all.  Do not value the valueless. Today is your movie.  Allow yourself to watch it without being in it.  Many things will pass in front of you today.  Make no demands on them or on yourself in relation to them.  Just observe and be willing to align with the flow of each moment as it arises to greet you.  Stay awake as long as...
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May 1, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 121   Today’s lesson is:   “Forgiveness is the key to happiness.”   We leave behind review lessons today and move into new territory.   We experiment today with a forgiveness exercise that takes about ten minutes to do.  What is forgiveness exactly?  Here is a shortcut to comprehending forgiveness.  Forgiving is nothing more than allowing without judgment and what we are allowing is EVERYTHING.  Forgiveness comes from the radical idea that my world is my own creation.  More specifically, I project my own reality from my mind.  Every falling leaf, every word I hear, every breath I take, every moment that appears to pass before me is taking place in my own mind – and it is a mind I share with you.  What I see before me that appears to need forgiveness is nothing less than my own self.  When I forgive, it always my self I am forgiving.  Remember the lesson “Giving and receiving are one in truth?”  This lesson told us that we cannot receive unless we give because giving is always to one’s self.  Holding back is always holding back from one’s self.  A mind that cannot forgive...
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April 30, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 120   What belongs to God belongs to us.  It is ours because it belongs to God, and for God ownership IS sharing.  God’s light must be everywhere because God has shared everything of Itself with everything.  We rest today in this truth. Enjoy this world.  Enjoy this day.  But do not expect to find Reality here.  For in Reality we are Spirit, not form. The reality of Spirit is essence. There is no form that can define or contain essence.  We are free to deny Reality but we are not free to make it go away.  If God created us perfect, then perfect we must be.  Let go your denial and rest in your true nature today.  Source has given us everything.  There is nothing to fear.   Today’s review lessons are:   1.  I rest in God. Commentary:  Know your own safety in this moment.  Let go of trying to control.  You are not your body and whatever happens to the body is, in Reality, of little concern.  Rest your mind in this moment, in certainty about your Self.   2.  I am as God created me. Commentary:  Here is...
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April 29, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 119   What is “truth?”  You might say it depends upon the individual’s perception at the time.  Rational thinking, which produced the scientific method, calls for truth to be logical, and reproducible in controlled conditions.  Truth, as defined by A Course in Miracles, is beyond individual perception.  It is beyond rational thinking, or thinking at all.  Truth is beyond logic or scientific experiment because it is beyond time and space.  Truth is total, indivisible, all-inclusive, constant, and changeless. Truth cannot be destroyed and when attacked, it does not respond.  Truth cannot be perceived, learned, nor believed.  It can only be known.  Knowing comes through direct and total union with Truth.  Truth is known by a mind that is ready to receive it. We are here to know the truth about ourselves.  To know truth, illusions must be recognized and released.  Illusions have power, but they cannot over-power truth because all things rest IN truth.  To discover truth, one must search out all that interferes with it – for that is all illusions can ever really do.  They cannot change truth but they can interfere with our knowing its presence.  Today’s lesson asks...
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April 28, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 118   Today’s New York Times tells us that Pope Francis plans to step up his campaign on climate change, much to the alarm of conservatives.  I don’t want to get too political about this, but it does illustrate a point: the Pope seems to have his own internal dialogue with Spirit and he has found peace and joy in it.  He is not afraid of power, nor does he appear too vested in his own.    Yesterday’s lesson told us we seek what belongs to us in truth.  There is a double message here: what we seek is already ours, and it is in truth that we find it.  This is something Pope Francis seems to know.  He has found his peace and joy in the truth, and because he has found it, he is not afraid to speak truth to power.      There are powerful forces that will tell you God’s peace and joy are NOT yours.  But the truth is All of these forces are illusions and their power comes only from what we give them.  Today, let us take our power back, for peace and joy ARE...
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April 27, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 117   Today’s lesson review is so important.  The news this morning is full of trial and tribulation; earthquakes in Nepal, water wars in California, the senseless murder of a woman in Pakistan who stood up for equality and justice.  How can it be that “God, being Love, is also happiness”?  How can we find happiness in a world that seems so loveless?    But what if we were wrong about all of this?  What if underneath all of the apparent hate and pain is nothing but Love?  What if death is not to be feared?  What if we are not our bodies, but light beings joined in an unseen web of light?  What if all this experience in the body is simply an experience we have chosen to have so that we might know our own connection to Love even more deeply?   What if in helping each other through the experience of being in a body, we are increasing Love exponentially? And what if it was possible to increase Love, simply by finding peace within and then sharing it with everything else?  No words need be spoken.  No actions are...
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April 26, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 116 Here are today’s review lessons and a bit of commentary to help frame them both.  As a general note, I want to say how much I appreciate those who are reading these blogs.  Thank you for being part of the community. As a second note, I also want to say that while these lessons are simple, their application takes effort.  Please be kind to yourself about this business of awakening.  Your kindness to your self is the first step in learning real kindness to others.  We all fall down.  We all drift back into dreamland.  I spent most of the yesterday morning there!  If you are reading these lessons, know you are well on the path.  The simple act of reading the lesson reverberates in ways that you may not know.  Today we review your absolute right to happiness.  The lessons are: God’s Will for me is perfect happiness. Commentary: I think a key here is “perfect.”  Perfection is harmony.  Harmony involves a multiplicity.  So perfect happiness requires me to see my reality from different viewpoints including myself, the physical world, and the unseen world of eternal spirit.  The unseen world...
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April 25, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 115   If we want to be happy, we must be in harmony with our selves and the world. Harmony means a combination of separate notes, or parts that form a pleasing whole.  We are always in harmony, but we cannot see it from the perspective of separation.  Today’s review asks that we open our selves to the experience of harmony by awakening to wholeness, which is also called salvation.    To practice these lessons simply read each one and then sit with its message for five minutes or longer, if you wish.  Do this twice a day, in the morning and before bedtime.  Read over the ideas and comments.  Notice the emotion that arises within as these words form thoughts in your mind.  Make the decision in this moment to allow the words to inform your being.  This is a highly creative act.  Make no mistake, it is among the most creative things you can do.  If you can, every half hour of the day, bring the lesson to mind.  This is a mindfulness practice.  If you can do it, it will help bring peace to you.  But don’t make it...
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