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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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April 24, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 114   We bought a new washing machine from Sears this week.  (And let me put in a plug for the Brunswick Sears store here.  Their customer service and product knowledge were great!) I was briefly joking around with the sales guy and I casually asked him about the question “Who am I, really?”  He stopped for a minute to consider and answered, “Mostly I just want to know, ‘Where are my pants?’”  Pretty funny answer, but my guess is he’s asked the question. Maybe he just hasn’t seriously considered the answer.  And that’s no surprise either.  Our society functions on the bet you aren’t asking and don’t care.   Things need to change.  Today’s review answers the question and asks us to spend just 5 minutes in the morning and evening considering what the answer means.  It is time well spent. 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...
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April 23, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 113                                                                         Why does A Course in Miracles repeat lessons?  It isn’t to bore you dear reader, or because there’s nothing left to say.  A Course really is about training the mind – And the mind is the only thing that can truly entrap us, just as it is the only door through which freedom can be found.  The mind is a tricky thing.  We rarely question it.  In fact, questioning the mind can be downright uncomfortable.  A very intelligent and insightful woman I spoke with the other day told me she had tried A Course in Miracles, but had to quit.  She just couldn’t take the lessons that said things like “I do not know the meaning of anything I see.” I understand this.  It is hard to loosen our grasp on “reality.”  And yet we must. It was hard to believe the earth was not flat.  People were imprisoned and put to death for saying the earth wasn’t the center of the solar system.  Thankfully we’ve moved beyond those days.  Today’s review asks us to leave behind another deeply held and deeply unconscious belief – that the physical body is...
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April 22, 2015 BlogA Course in Miracles: Lesson 112 Today's lesson continues a period of reviews. This is a chance to see how each lesson weaves with the others, enhancing and supporting the deeper meaning behind each.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. Think about them, letting your mind relate them to your needs, your concerns, and any problems that seem to be present in your life. Know that you are not alone while reading and thinking. Your mind is connected to the One Mind and to all minds.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 a rigid ritual and don't feel guilty if you cannot achieve your goal. The goal is peace, not guilt! Learn to feel the difference between the unavoidable presses of life and your own unwillingness or avoidance of practicing.Here are the lessons for the day. Enjoy them....
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April 21, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles: Lesson 111   This lesson begins another period of reviews.  This is a chance to see how each lesson weaves with the others, enhancing and supporting the deeper meaning behind each.  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.  Think about them, letting your mind relate them to your needs, your concerns, and any problems that seem to be present in your life.  Know that you are not alone while reading and thinking.  Your mind is connected to the One Mind and to all minds.  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 a rigid ritual and don’t feel guilty if you cannot achieve your goal.  The goal is peace, not guilt!  Learn to feel the difference between the unavoidable presses of life and your own unwillingness or avoidance of practicing.  Here are the lessons...
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April 20, 2015 BlogA Course in Miracles: Lesson 110. Have you ever asked yourself, “Who am I?”   No, really, “Who AM I? And, WHAT am I doing here?”  Is this question so big your mind shuts down?  Are you convinced the question is impossible to answer, or even trivial?  Look around yourself.  Is anyone else asking this question?  Probably not.  At least not out loud.  But isn’t it important? Doesn’t it sort of color everything else we do? Call me strange, but I think this question is the only one that matters.  Until I have a sense of who I really am, nothing means anything.  This question is the foundation of all my decisions, all my desires, and of all the choices I make.  The answer determines whether I plan for the long run, or focus on my short-term needs.  It determines how I treat other people and the world around me.  It grounds my feelings about myself and how I see other people, even other life forms.      To me, this IS the only question that matters.  A Course in Miracles answers this question in today’s lesson, which is: “I am as God created me.” Okay.  What does this mean?...
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April 19, 2015 BlogA Course in Miracles: Lesson 109 Today's lesson is absolutely simple, as is its practice. The lesson today is: "I rest in God." The lessons of this entire week are summed up in today's lesson. The peace and joy of Source are ours because it is Will of Source. It is wholly true that the peace and joy we send to others is returned to us and multiplied in the process of giving and receiving. It is in stillness that we hear the inner voice of Source – a voice we recognize as peace, gentleness, and quiet happiness that builds to joy when savored like a fine wine. And so today we are asked only to rest five minutes each hour and sit in stillness to receive what Source offers. We sit and we allow without judgment whatever arises to be as it is. We are asked to do nothing but notice and watch without attachment. If it is easier for you to sit twice today for about 20 minutes in the morning and evening, then this is fine too. Take your seat and relax your body. Feel your feet resting on the floor. Allow your hips to...
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April 18, 2015A Course in Miracles: Lesson 108 I think you will find today's practice to be a joy. You may wish to take two, ten-minute practices today, instead of the recommended 5-minutes each hour. Either way, enjoy. From the Self's viewpoint, failure does not exist. Failure implies lack and we cannot be one with God and leave something out, because God includes everything. So it follows that everything that is must be in harmony with everything else. In other words, it all balances. And we cannot fail to learn today's lesson, which returns us to the truth about giving and receiving. Our lesson today is: "To give and to receive are one in truth." A unified mind experiences giving as receiving. I will risk boring you, dear reader, with two experiences I had the other day that showed me this lesson so clearly! Our washing machine recently broke and I was in an early morning online chat with a guy named Tristan about scheduling repairs. When we ended our chat, Tristan asked if he could help with anything else. I had heard about an online coupon for 10% off the cost of the repair, which was $500, so I asked...
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April 17, 2015 BlogA Course in Miracles: Lesson 107 Today we seek the Truth by recognizing error where it begins and ends – in the mind. Truth is simple. It is not found through deduction or analysis. It is not figured out in the brain. Truth is simple. It is recognized through its Oneness, which creates feelings of harmony and peacefulness. Harmony is a natural outcome of Truth because it freely encompasses everything without limitation at all. Today's lesson is: "Truth will correct all errors in my mind." The greatest struggle we have in this human experience, which is an illusion perpetrated and sustained by the ego mind, is to try to understand what it means to be One Self. The ego mind sincerely believes in the reality of its own littleness. This littleness, born of separation from Self, ensures the ego its need to fight, to mistrust everything, living in a state of chronic, underlying fear. To accept correction the ego mind would have to deny its denial of Oneness. This will never happen because the egoic mind is incapable of it. The acceptance of Oneness, must mean the death of the ego, which is why the willingness to be...
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April 16, 2015 BlogA Course in Miracles: Lesson 106 Today's lesson is so simple, it is considered impossible to learn by the ego, which values complexity and trusts only the impossible. Today's lesson is: "Let me be still and listen to the truth." The truth is we are One in spirit, and it is God's Will that we remember it. This recognition must be attainable because it is God's Will. There really is nothing BUT God's Will because God is Reality.God's Will is also perfect happiness. Is it possible that this is not our will? And is it possible that this is not the will of your sister, your brother, who is here for only a brief time, in human form? The evidence of this world might seem to say otherwise, but in Reality every being on this planet seeks perfect happiness. And it is in this joint will that we are united. We may have other disagreements, but not in our joint desire for happiness. The recognition of this joining is where peace abides. The simplicity of happiness does not sit well with the ego. The ego tells us we must have competing interests. The ego tells us we must...
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April 15, 2015 BlogA Course in Miracles: Lesson105 Happy Tax Day. No, really! Today we are reminded doubly that what is real cannot be taken or threatened, and what is unreal does not exist! Today's lesson is: "God's peace and joy are mine." A major learning goal of A Course in Miracles is a reversal of what we view as giving and receiving. This reversal is simple and yet it goes against every law of this world. In this world of limitation and scarcity giving has become a source of fear. In giving something, I lose it and am therefore lessened in some way. In this world, the law of limitation ensures that I will avoid the ONLY means by which I CAN receive. But the law of Oneness is not limited and it is not linear; it is expansive and multi-dimensional! In the multidimensional law of Oneness, giving and receiving are joined inextricably. To receive, I must give. To give, I must allow myself to receive. And not only are giving and receiving the same, but the gifts INCREASE as we exchange them. A Course says: "True giving is creation. It extends the limitless to the unlimited, eternity to timelessness,...
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April 14, 2015 BlogA Course in Miracles: Lesson 104 Part of the reason this blog is late is because I spent the morning as a guest at local business gathering. The members were wonderful, welcoming, and enthusiastic. The meeting began with people stating who they were and what their business was all about - at which point someone in the back said loudly "Making money!" As I listened to about 50 people get up, say their name, and briefly explain their business, I was forced to confront myself. What would I say? Who am I, and what am I doing in this room? What the heck is my business anyway? It came to me in an instant that what I do is this: I help people ask the fundamental spiritual questions, "Who am I really? And, what is my purpose here?" But in the next instant I realized, these questions have already been answered. They are answered in today's lesson, which is: " I seek but what belongs to me in truth." A Course in Miracles is very clear. What we seek is perfect happiness, and perfect happiness is our right. But the mind must be ready to receive the happiness...
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April 13, 2015 BlogA Course in Miracles: Lesson 103 Today's lesson is: "God, being Love, is also happiness." Happiness and Love are entwined. When Love is present, happiness is always the result. As we experience this earth, this place of limited vision, it is not always easy to perceive Love. We see love as available only in certain times or under certain conditions. Love seems to be a rare commodity. Indeed, we feel so cut off from Love, that we have redefined it as a special thing, a rare thing, limited and having an opposite – which is fear. And it is the fear we focus on most, by seeking to avoid all situations that might create it. In what has become a double bind, we now associate love WITH fear. This association A Course calls a "basic error, which must be brought to truth." The truth is: Love has no opposite. LOVE HAS NO OPPOSITE. Fear is a creation of the ego and it would have you live with this fear forever rather than risk being discovered for the illusion it is. Today we practice going beyond fear to the happiness that lies within. Fear lies on the surface. Beneath...
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April 12, 2015 BlogA Course in Miracles: Lesson 102 Let me stand front and center with an admission that today's lesson is not always easy for me. As I learned yesterday at a wonderful workshop on the Enneagram some people gravitate toward enthusiasm and joyful expectation that the next thing will be even BETTER than the last! I am not one of these people. In fact, I am one of those who prepare for the worst by expecting less, and then when things turn out okay, allow myself some happiness about it.But that's not all. I woke up unhappy this morning. Not only was I unhappy, but my grievances were fully justified. Knowing full well they were justified (My husband agreed with me about this, so it must be true.) I allowed my anger full range. I yelled. I accused. I gave pointed examples. And boy, did it feel good! And by the way, I did all this knowing that today's lesson is: "I share God's Will for happiness for me." Okay...some part of me MUST have shared God's Will for happiness. But it sure wasn't a part I was in touch with at 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning. After...
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April 11, 2015 BlogA Course in Miracles: Lesson 101 Today's lesson is: "God's Will for me is perfect happiness." To me, a key word in this 101st lesson (congratulations!) is "perfect." Does my perfect happiness mean I always get I want? Not so much, for a couple of reasons. First, I don't always know what I think I want. I send mixed signals frequently. Let's use the obvious example of money. I never think I have enough. So I ask for more. But the place from which I'm asking is really saying, "I don't have enough." So what do I get? More of the same. But really, the focus on having more money isn't the issue. What I want is abundance; money is just a symbol. I want an abundance of love, of creativity, of inner freedom, of friendship, of travel, of learning new things, of giving and of receiving among those around me whom I love and cherish. When I put it that way, something inside my gut starts to jiggle like Jell-O, and it's not my aging love handles – it's a feeling of joy at the prospect of all that happiness. But even this isn't really what today's...
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April 10, 2015 BlogA Course in Miracles: Lesson 100 Our Source wishes us perfect happiness, and so it must be. The One whose Will is happiness cannot fail, but we have the right to disagree. We cannot be forced. And so we hold to a vision of separate thought and separate form. We have the right, at least for a while, to experience lack of joy, lack of abundance, lack of respect, lack of surety and safety, and lack of time. We are here, knocking ourselves out with having our right to disagree. And it's all perfectly okay.But for many, it seems time to learn a new game. And while Source knows eternal patience in the eternal Now, it is also true that each of us must wake up to Reality at some point. None of us is left behind because each of us is essential to the Whole. And so today's lesson is: "My part is essential to God's plan for salvation." What is your part? Your part is to relearn how to be happy by ending the dream of separation. Your part is to find the light within yourself. Today we practice again for 5 minutes each hour. But...
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April 9, 2015 BlogA Course in Miracles: Lesson 99. A Course in Miracles tells us that the Mind of God is everything and everything that exists is in the Mind of God. What does this mean? Here are some ideas taken directly from the Text of A Course that might help. The emphasis is mine. First: "Accept your brother in this world. Accept nothing else, for in him you will find your creations because he created them with you. You will never know that you are co-creator with God until you learn that your brother is co-creator with you." Second: "Wholeness is indivisible, but you cannot learn of your wholeness until you see it everywhere." Third: "Eternity is one time, its only dimension being "always." Fourth: "Only if the decision that reality is fearful is wrong can God be right. And I assure you, God is right." The last one is a bit tricky. Its worth reading a couple of times. So, here's the deal in a nutshell. We cannot learn the truth of our own wholeness until we see it everywhere. How do we do that exactly? We learn and practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is simply the decision to receive what...
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April 8, 2015 BlogA Course in Miracles: Lesson 98 Today's lesson is about choice and it is very, very simple. Do I allow things to unfold in the Mind of God, or do I fight against what is? Do I condemn others, and myself, or do I choose to step aside from judgment about what I think SHOULD be and forgive what IS? What is forgiveness but allowing what is to be as it is? When I choose forgiveness I say, "Yes" to today's lesson, which is: "I will accept my part in God's plan for salvation." Here's where I share a little experience about this lesson, which by the way, I am still learning. My husband and I recently decided to take a trip halfway around the world to the island of Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands. We wanted to visit family there. Rarotonga is a beautiful little island with a population of around 11, 000 people – much like our hometown of Harpswell, Maine. To get around Raro (as my step-daughter calls it) she graciously lent us her motorcycle. The first day, while riding on the back of the cycle, my favorite pair of reading glasses fell out of...
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April 7, 2015 BlogA Course in Miracles: Lesson 97 Imagine that for eons you have lived in a tar pit. The tar is sticky and thick. It covers your feet as you walk, bogging you down and making every step a chore. The smell of the tar permeates everything – your clothes, your skin, the hair on your body. Even the faint, cool breezes that find their way to the pit offer only a whisper of the fields and flowers that lie beyond. This metaphorical tar pit has been our existence for so long we have almost forgotten anything else.But all of this is changing. So many of us can feel it. We don't know what it is. We just know things cannot go on as they have been. We are being forced to wake up now, and we cannot go back to sleep. For many, many people this is a deeply uncomfortable time. For many, many people it is a time of enormous growth and transformation.A Course in Miracles is part of our wake-up call, as spirits on this physical "plane." There are other courses. There are many other teachers. But all of them say pretty much the same thing...
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April 6, 2015 BlogA Course in Miracles: Lesson 96 Am I a body? Am I spirit? Am I both? And is it possible to not decide? Can't I just alternate my identification with each idea and call it good? If you have asked your self these questions, you are well on the way to knowing the answer. For in simply knowing enough to ask the question, your mind must have recognized its connection to your one Self.Our lesson for today answers the question about who we are. Our eternal nature is spirit. Our lesson today is: "My salvation comes from my one Self." Salvation does not come from this world and it never will. This world, with all its seeming reality, is a creation of a split mind. One part of the mind believes in separation from Source and from each other. The other part knows it is one with All. We are free to play in this world as deeply and as long as we want to. But today's lesson asks that we also play now with being whole. Imagining I am a separate body seems so easy. I wake up every morning still here, in this aging container, with...
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April 5, 2015 Blog A Course in Miracles:  Lesson 95.   Today we continue to build upon and deepen our understanding of who we are.  Today’s lesson is: “I am one Self, united with my Creator.” The question “Who am I, REALLY?” rarely surfaces in our minds.  When it does, we find the answer vague, amorphous, or superficial.  Most of the time we define ourselves through our relationships, our accomplishments, by what we do for a living, or by what our interests are.  Rarely do we dig deeply into the question “Who AM I?” because rarely do we dig deeply at all.  Why do we not dig more deeply?  It is not because we are lazy.  It is not because we are uninterested. It is not because we don’t care.  Could it be, at least in part, because we look around at the world we have created together and feel fear and guilt about it?  Could it be because we see ourselves as erratic and capricious at best, and as warmongers, liars, and murderers at worst?  Could it be because we blame others for our losses while trying desperately to hide the truth of our own guilty nature?  Indeed, it is...
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