On Sunday April 6, 2014 Reverend Tony Ponticello addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that lecture.
(Rev. Tony, at the podium, holds up a square mirror and says this into it:) "Mirror, mirror in my hand, who's the fairest of the land?" (Rev. Tony leans his ear into the mirror, listening.) It's Rev. Dusa Althea Rammessirsingh! (laughter) That's who's the fairest of the land.
I had to do that because Rev. Dusa Althea is the inspiration for my talk today. I have a habit that I developed a long time ago. I put on a big grin every time I look in the mirror. It isn't just with a mirror, I do this with anything that's reflective. I keep this in mind when walking down the street. If there's a large store window, and I happen to see my reflection, I will give a big smile, a big grin. Last week Rev. Dusa Althea was giving me a hard time about this a little bit. She thought it was funny that I was so pleased with my own image. That's how she thinks of this, that I'm just happy to look at myself and think how good I look. I suppose that's one way of looking at it; that is more of an egotistic way of looking at the habit, or how the ego would look at it like, "Oh, aren't you looking good, you sexy devil!"
What's wrong with that anyway? Is there something wrong with that? I believe we all should think we look good when we look in the mirror.
Actually, that's not why I do it. I decided that I would remind her. I know that I had told her this many years ago, but she apparently had forgotten it. Smiling at your image in a mirror is something that I learned a number of years ago when I was a younger, New-Age person, studying different New-Age philosophies. This self-help technique became very popular, probably about 20 or 30 years ago – to do mirror work. You would hold up a mirror, and then you would say wonderful things about yourself into the mirror. And you would smile at yourself in the mirror. This was a very popular metaphysical technique. Louse Hay was very strong with this one. I think that is where I first picked it up. I recommend that any of you, or all of you, try it. It is, actually, a little more difficult than you think. Just practice holding up a mirror and telling yourself, "I love you. You're great. I think you're hot!" Oh no, that's probably the ego. (laughter) Whatever positive thing you want to tell yourself is good. I remember Louise Hay used to sing a song and have everybody sing-a-long. Everybody knows this song, right? You have to have been around a while to know it I suppose. It's the "I Love Myself" song.
(Rev. Tony holds up the mirror again and looks into it, singing to himself.)
"I love myself the way I am. There's nothing I need to change.
I'll always be the perfect me. There's nothing to re-arrange.
I'm beautiful and capable of being the best me I can,
And I love myself just the way I am."
So try it. That's what I did many, many years ago. I don't do that too often anymore. This was an interesting exercise right now, just to do it again. But what I did maintain was smiling at myself every time I saw an image of myself somewhere. I always put on a big grin. Why shouldn't I be smiling at myself? Why shouldn't we all be smiling at ourselves? If we can't give our own selves a smile, then we've got work to do. We should always be able to give ourselves a smile. It's a wonderful little blessing that we can give to ourselves. I think we should always be giving ourselves that blessing, and if people see me do it and think I'm an egotist, just complimenting myself on how wonderful I look, that's fine. That's part of it too, maybe. It takes a lot of time to look this good (laughter) so I'm happy about myself, the way I look. (laughter) Or as Dolly Parton once said, I believe it was in the movie Steel Magnolias, and it's a favorite saying of hers, "It takes a lot of money to look this cheap." (laughter)
Why shouldn't we look good? Why shouldn't we feel good about the way that we look?
Speaking of mirrors and doing mirror work – this gets expanded a lot in A Course In Miracles because using the idea of a mirror, the world itself being a mirror – all of our brothers and sisters being our mirrors – is a very foundational ACIM idea. It's talked about a lot. "Mirror" is mentioned frequently in the Course.
I was always very happy to see these mirror references when I first studied A Course in Miracles because there was a famous Biblical quote about mirrors that I was fond of. Sometimes "a mirror" is referred to as "a glass," in some translations, but in many translations it will say "a mirror." The quotation is in Corinthians. This famous passage is read a lot at weddings. They will read from Corinthians Chapter 13, but the specific line that I'm referring to is this: "For now we see in a mirror, darkly..." in some translations it says "a glass darkly" – "but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known." (1.Cor.13.12)
The idea is that now we see in a mirror, but we see "darkly" in this mirror. We've got a dark covering, shadow, film ... something on the mirror that is the world, and so we see things that aren't really there, or we see distorted things. We see things that are being misrepresented. In fact, anything that speaks of lack, disharmony, or disease is a distorted image that we're seeing in the darkened glass that is the world. A Course in Miracles says, "Perception is a mirror, not a fact. And what I look on is my state of mind reflected outward. I would bless the world by looking on it through the eyes of Christ." (OrEd.WkBk.304.1)
Our perception is a mirror. Every time we look out there, we are looking at a mirror, and A Course In Miracles just said that we need to bless the world. We need to smile on the world. If I can smile in the mirror, then I can look out in the world and smile. See, when I smile, most of you smile. If you want the world to smile at you, smile at the world. It's a mirror; smile at it.
Bless the world. The idea of blessing the world and blessing all of our brothers and sisters is a common spiritual idea. In the more Hindu tradition, when people greet each other, they say, "Namaste." Yogis greet each other. They'll say "Namaste," which usually gets translated as, "the divinity in me greets the divinity in you," which I was very glad to have explained to me because I always thought they we're just saying "I'm nasty." (laughter) That made me smile. I thought, "Oh, a nasty person, that's good. I'm nasty too. Maybe we could get together and do nasty things." (laughter) But that wasn't what they were saying. They were saying, "Namaste" and it means something else, but they both make me smile.
The idea of blessing the world and smiling at the world, just being happy with the reflection that it is showing us, is a very prevalent A Course In Miracles idea. The Course says, "There is nothing that you cannot do. You play the game of death, of being helpless, pitifully tied to dissolution in a world which shows no mercy to you. Yet when you accord it mercy..." smile at it, "will its mercy..." smile "shine on you." (WkBk.191.11) So if you think the world is not being good to you, how good are you being to the world in your thoughts? Are you smiling at the world? Are you blessing it all the time, seeing it as a reflection of yourself, being able to tell it that you love it? Because that's what we all need to do to the mirror if we want the mirror to reflect back to us something that will make us smile. We need to do that.
You know, everybody wants the world to smile on them. Some people pretend that they don't want that, but I never really believed them. Some spiritual people try to be disengaged from the world. It's like they don't care what the world does because they believe that they are not worldly, that they are "spiritual" people, and so whatever the world does seems insignificant. But they're trying to make it insignificant, and I don't really get that this is what A Course in Miracles is teaching us. I think if you have that perspective then you see the world as apart from you. The world is somehow separate from you. I don't think that is what A Course in Miracles is saying. I think A Course in Miracles is saying that the world is our reflection. It isn't real, because a reflection in a mirror is not really a person, but it is a reflection of the current state of mind of that person so there are important ways to relate to it, deal with it. It's actually very useful, just like any mirror is. A mirror is a grooming tool. I look at it to primp up and to make sure my hat is on straight, my glasses are on straight, and my mustache is trimmed evenly – all of those things that we do in a mirror. The world is a mirror in the same way. I look at it to see how am I thinking. Am I forgiving? Are people forgiving and wonderful to me? If that's happening then it's a good reflection showing me that I am a loving presence in the world.
Does the world seem to be ganging up on me and hostile to me? Well, that might only mean that my thoughts are hostile. The world is really just reflecting back to us everything that we are thinking. I believe that if we disengage from the world and do that "spiritual" thing that some people do where they pretend that they are not of the world – whatever the world does, it doesn't really matter – that's not smiling at the world. That's not smiling in the mirror. That's not embracing it. That's saying you don't like it. Instead of saying "I love myself the way I am" that's saying,
"I hate myself the way I am.
There's so much that I would change.
I've always been an awful me.
There's so much to rearrange."
This is really a distortion of the idea that we should smile and show mercy to the world. I don't think it's a distortion that we want. A Course In Miracles says, "Your brother is the mirror in which you will see the image of yourself as long as perception lasts." (OrEd.Tx.7.73) Our brothers and sisters are all just mirror images of ourselves, and it will be that way for as long as we appear to be in this world of perception.
I know so many people who sometimes voice words of needing to get away from people. Certain people are toxic. I need to get away from this person. I hear spiritual teachers say things like this frequently. While what people do behaviorally is always going to be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, what I question is their perception, that there is a toxic person out there that they need to get away from. Is that really the perception that people want to embrace as A Course in Miracles students? Our brother is the mirror in which we see the image of ourselves. If there are toxic people out there, that's you reinforcing the fact that you're toxic. I don't think that's the discipline of A Course in Miracles. The Course says, "In this world you can become a spotless mirror ..." (OrEd.Tx.14.42)
The idea that we have to clean the mirror is a very common spiritual thought, and it's very common in A Course in Miracles. We do have to clean the mirror of our minds so that the world can reflect a better, more Divine image of who we are because our minds are also a mirror of the thoughts of God. We are a reflection of the Divine, of God. We need to clean the mirror of our own mind so that we reflect God better, so we show up as God more, so the world reflects back to us God more. The Course says, "You can reflect Heaven here. Yet no reflections of the images of other gods must dim the mirror that would hold God's reflection in it." (OrEd.Tx.14.42)
So we can reflect Heaven here. We are also a mirror and we are reflecting Heaven. We are reflecting God. We are reflecting the Divine. We need to ask ourselves, are we a dark mirror? Are we a dim mirror? If we are, then there is only one thing to do and that's to give this mirror a cleaning. The way to clean it is to look at the reflections that are coming back at you, look at your thoughts that relate to those things, and what is not a loving, whole, wonderful thought is a grievance that we need to apply forgiveness to. It's the whole basic technique of A Course in Miracles. Monitor your mind. Find your grievances. Offer them up. Ask for a new perception. Use the world as a feedback mechanism to give you those ideas that show you where you need to clean your mind. "Clean but the mirror, and the message which shines forth from what the mirror holds out for everyone to see no one can fail to understand." (OrEd.Tx.14.43)
We don't have to worry about anything else but keeping that mirror of our mind clean. Keeping the grievances clean, out of our mind. If we do that we will automatically reflect God to the world. And if we reflect God to the world, the world will reflect God back to us because the world is also a mirror. The whole mirror analogy is really so wonderful for me.
This relates to many things in my life, particularly things I've given sermons about before. Years ago, I got the guidance that I should not dress casually. It didn't fit my job, and it didn't fit my occupation. I always wear a tie and a sport coat. I dress up a little bit. People associate this with me now, but that wasn't always who I was. I was an old hippie, and I was very, very casually dressed for many, many years. I didn't like the tie. I would rebel against the tie. I didn't want to wear one. I did all that stuff. However, I started dressing up because I got the guidance to dress up. Then I realized that more people smiled at me when I dressed up. People like to see you dressed up. Here's a little personal tip for you to understand – people really like it when you look good and dress up. They'll say things to you. I get people who comment on my ties or my pins, and I always try to wear a tie or a pin that will make people smile. That's how I choose which of these things to wear. That's how people choose what things to give me. Actually a lot of people, Rev. Dusa Althea for one, give me a lot of my ties, pins, and things of that nature. I'm always amazed at the people who will comment on them.
Here's something else I've noticed, maybe somebody can explain this to me. Caucasian men rarely comment on what another man is wearing, but African American men will do it all the time. Why? What is that with this culture? African American men will tell you, "Hey, looking good!" They'll say that all the time. "Like that. That's working." That happened to me in Safeway last night: "That is really working. That is looking good. I like that combination."
This is great. I don't know why Caucasians can't pick up on that. I love to get those compliements. It's just smiles. It's me smiling; it's the world smiling back at me. I love being able to accept those smiles. I want to be a smile. I want God to smile on me. I want to smile back at God. I want the world to smile on me. I want to smile back at the world. I smile in my mirror. I can tell myself that I love myself the way I am.
(Rev. Tony holds up the mirror again. He talks and sings into it.) I can tell myself,
"I'm beautiful and capable.
Of being the best me I can.
And I love myself.
And smile at myself.
Just the way I am."
You're hot Tony. (Rev. Tony blows a kiss to himself into the mirror.)
Thank you. That's it. (applause and laughter) ♥
c/o Community Miracles Center
2269 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
This article appeared in the April 2014 (Vol. 28 No. 2) 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.