On Sunday, October 12, Rev. Larry Bedini addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that lecture.
After the wonderful party that Rev. Peter and Rev. Vincent gave last night, Rev. Tony and Christine and I went to Rev. Rudy’s birthday bash at a nightclub on Broadway. Rev. Tony and Christine drove me home by 11 and I started working on this talk. As it turned out, I finished by 4:30 a.m. this morning. I set the alarm for 8 o’clock and thought, “Oh, dear God. Let me wake up, please.” I was all excited about this talk because it’s a beautiful adventure I was on, and have been on for many years. This is something that is so timely. Well, when isn’t it timely, actually? (laughter) It just appears to be more timely now than any other time. But, I want you to come on this adventure with me because it’s an exciting one. And, it’s an adventure from which we can all learn. Come with me and let’s travel it together.
Now, after rounding up the usual suspects, (you’ve all seen the movie Casablanca) and conducting a very intricate and lengthy investigation, I discovered that there is a scheme going on within the dream; this dream called life. As I closed the files on this case, I arrived at the following conclusion, based upon the following evidence: A Course In Miracles says, “If you cannot hear the Voice for God, it is because you do not choose to listen. That you listen to the voice of your ego is demonstrated by your attitudes, your feelings and your behavior. Yet this is what you want. This is what you are fighting to keep, and what you are vigilant to save. Your mind is filled with schemes to save the face of your ego, and you do not seek the face of Christ. The glass in which the ego seeks to see its face is dark indeed. How can it maintain the trick of its existence except with mirrors? But where you look to find yourself is up to you.” (T.4.IV.1-8) Interesting that the Course uses the word, “schemes,” one time. I thought of the title of this talk before I knew that word was in the book. I thought, “Surely, it would never use a word like that.” I was wrong!
So, conclusion of my investigation:
The scheme is manifested by ... you – the maker of the dream.
End of search!
The perpetrator has been exposed!
Justice has been served!
I leaned back in my chair, thinking the world would now rest content and move on. But, “How to handle this new found knowledge?” I thought. “What to do about it?” I thought. I decided to examine my own thoughts about this illusion of a world in chaos and this illusion of a devastated world in despair?
I, long ago, became aware of the fact that, like Edgar Allan Poe’s story of, “The Tell-Tale Heart” in which the heart of the murdered man, like truth, would be forever beating the awareness of its existence, I knew that the truth would, forever, remain amir within me. Why wouldn’t it?! After all, I choose to see a positive world within the framework of my thinking.
Those who really know me, are aware that I choose to see a happy outcome to all things. After all, doesn’t the A Course In Miracles teach us, “A happy outcome to all things is certain? Jesus says, in the Course: “God’s promises make no exceptions. And He guarantees that only joy can be the final outcome found for everything. Yet it is up to us when this is reached; how long we let an alien will appear to be opposing His. And while we think this will is real, we will not find the end He has appointed as the outcome of all problems we perceive, all trials we see, and every situation that we meet. Yet is the ending certain. For God’s will is done in earth and heaven. We will seek and we will find according to His will, which guarantees that our will is done.” (Wk.Or.Ed.292.1) Because our will is His Will! “Interesting,” I thought. “How very interesting.” So, what is there to worry about?” I thought. “Why need we worry?” I thought.
As most of you know, I’m hardly a Pollyanna-type spirit. I quite simply do believe that everything will work out for the best for all concerned – me! (laughter) But, I am you and you are me! The A Course In Miracles teaches us that we are all one and “that” one is the many children of God.
There is no doubt, of course, that the world is going through difficult times, right now. That is a “reality” within the dream. Portraits of life are being painted for us that show a bleak existence. Portraits of a humanity living in cars, storage rental places. Portraits of people losing their homes. Portraits of people living in cardboard villages being organized, yes, even in California. I saw them on television. Portraits of people struggling for survival. Portraits of hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes. Portraits of skyrocketing gas prices. Severe stock market declines. Portraits of mortgage interest rates rising beyond reason.
But, interestingly, we have always seen these portraits. They are not new to us, no matter how much we think this is a first. They are not new. We have seen them in all the years we have been growing up, no matter how old we are. We have always seen these portraits of life. They are marketed on television, the internet, radio, and in words and music. How many times have you looked on those portraits and brought them to question to the Course only to be read this passage from the Course: “He seems a sorry figure; weary, worn, in threadbare clothing, and with feet that bleed a little from the rocky road he walks. No one but has identified with him, for everyone who comes here has pursued the path he follows, and has felt defeat and hopelessness as he is feeling them. Yet, is he really tragic, when you see that he is following the way he chose, and need but realize who walks with him and open up his treasures to be free?” (W.166.6.1-3) So, no matter how devastating the portrait paints the picture, it’s the path we chose to walk. Even though we will fight to the death to deny it!
I “open up” my treasures, all the time, so I can be free to extend them to others. It’s a choice I made years ago.
The burning questions are: What lessons have we learned from these portraits? And, “When will we learn them?” The Course teaches us, “Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before, you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, ‘My brother, choose again.’ He would not leave one source of pain unhealed, nor any image left to veil the truth. He would remove all misery from you whom God created altar unto joy. He would not leave you comfortless, alone in dreams of hell, but would release your mind from everything that hides his face from you. His Holiness is yours because He is the only power that is real in you. His strength is yours because He is the Self that God created as His only Son.” (T-31.VIII.3) So, if we believe that, why would we worry? If we believed that, why wouldn’t we rest assured?
Through these negative portraits that we look upon, in the world, we are invited to become a part of them. The invitation says it quite clearly at the bottom of each portrait: Let me read it to you, in case you overlooked it: “Gaze upon this portrait and believe in it and all the ecstasy of its agony shall be yours, forever.” (laughter)
I do not accept these invitations. I don’t. People ask me, sometimes, “But Larry, why?” “Larry, don’t you understand?” And I say, “Yes! I do!” “I understand that what you’re offering me is not real.” “I understand that what the world is offering me is not real. So, why would I accept the invitation?” “I’d be accepting an invitation to a party that doesn’t exist!” When you do accept them you are asking to be weakened by them. They use words and phrases like: “Worst ever in the history of the country.” “Worst ever in the history of the world.” “Devastating – frightening – hopeless times – worse than 1929 – unheard of devastation”, and so on. Take your pick; make up your own. But, they’ve all been said before. The point is, there is nothing new about them. Interviews are given where people express their hopelessness and despair. But this has been done for generations, and still, do we learn the lesson?
So, we are invited to join them in their solid belief in a weakened and depressed economy with a potentially bleak outcome for the world your ego would have you see. However, I see people spending money, every day. I see people charging on their credit cards. I see people eating out, all the time in crowded restaurants. I see them laughing, playing, and having a great time. Is it possible they haven’t accepted the negative portraits invitation the world’s doom merchants would have them buy? I see people going to movies. I see people crowding in Peets and Starbucks. I see love blossoming, here and there. Families are still being planned and made. After all, “Hope still springs eternal in the human breast.” As Alexander Pope wrote in the mid 1700’s. By the way, he also wrote, “Fools rush in where angles fear to tread.” That’s something we could all learn to remember in every situation. Perhaps that’s why the Course teaches us: “When you are anxious, realize that anxiety comes from the capriciousness of the ego, and You can be as vigilant against the ego’s dictates as for them.” (T-4.IV.4)
The Course teaches us that we must be constantly vigilant against the thought system of the ego. Constantly vigilant! Constantly vigilant! I’ve thought a lot about the situation of the world lately. After all, shouldn’t it affect me, as well? I don’t know ... does it? Would I want it to? Am I cold and heartless because it doesn’t? Or, am I simply remembering what I have learned from the teachings of the Course? I have a rather different approach to this so-called dream. You see, I sometimes feel as if I hopped on the wrong boat, in a foolish moment; but, at some point I had hopped onto another boat and am working my way back home. However, I am enjoying the work, because I know it will have a happy outcome. The Course says, “A happy outcome to all things is sure.” (W.2.292) In fact, it guarantees it.
I believe in the Course. I believe in what it teaches. You see, I’ve gone beyond the controversies of who is to blame for this or that. I’ve gone straight through to the heart of the Course. That is what we all must do. I see the negative interviews. I hear the doomsayers. I see their so-called “concern” on behalf of humanity. Yet, why am I not buying into it – the world! Why do I look at these pictures in the world’s photo album of negativity and not believe in them, nor value them? I’ll tell you why: I have the strength of a greater portrait painter. I am looking at a greater photo album, given me by a loving Creator and with each page turned by Holy Spirit. The portrait of beautiful fields with billowy green mounds. Of abundant peace and joy where a family of magnificent spirits lies resting in the warmth of a Creator’s gentle love and caring. Keeping them safe from all illusions, for all eternity. That is the portrait I have. That is the portrait I value.
You see, the portraits the world presents to me, and in which it invites me to believe are made up of words and projections that are not mine. That is the portrait I do not believe in. If you agree that the negative pictures you see are beautiful, then you are claiming ownership of them for yourself. You are paying homage to a kingdom that is false and can never be real. Even with the power you give them, they cannot be real. Because you cannot give away your power. Yes, so-called “victims” will fall under the spell of their “exciting” illusions. But the Course teaches us that there are no victims, but merely willing participants. Then, this being the case, is this the time we should neglect the Course and its teachings?
Think about it. If the Course is your book of choice and it has helped pull you through in other difficult times, why would you not practice its principles now, more than ever? This is the time when you and a fellow Spirit should be working the Text or the Workbook lessons together. How long has it been since you opened your book for purposes of study? After all, you eat together. You mir together. You talk together, and sometimes you sleep together and have sex, together. Why would you not practice the Course together? (laughter) This is the time when spirits must unite with one another and be mighty companions for each other. This is the time to cultivate the mantra, “I am not affected by the external because I am a holy child of God.” Is that too much to ask, in order that you may take some steps forward, that you may return back home?
Does this mean you are wrong for having negative thoughts and feelings? Absolutely not! Have all the negative feelings you want. After all, the Course doesn’t teach us to deny our feeling. It teaches us to acknowledge our feelings and to move on.
Thank you! I offer these thoughts to you with love. That’s my talk for today. (applause) Y
c/o Community Miracles Center
2269 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
This article appeared in the September 2008 (Vol. 22 No. 7) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.