On January 31, 2016, Rev. Peter Graham addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA for the Sunday Service. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that talk.
Welcome! It's really nice to be able to be here and be speaking. A couple of firsts today, it's the first time I'll be speaking when it's going to be up on our YouTube channel. So a special shout out to Rev. Kelly! (Rev. Kelly prepares the YouTube videos.) Yay Rev. Kelly! Rev. Kelly is persevering. She has a really severe back issue going on. She still made it in today even though she was in the Emergency Room last night! (applause) That shows her dedication. Also, a special shout out to Rev. Rudy, who is the inspiration and the manifestation of our new set up here at Community Miracles Center (CMC) (The stage, piano, and furniture had been rearranged at the CMC.) (applause) I have to admit I was not in support of the changes … and now I am! Shifts happen! (laughter)
Finally it's a sunny day. I feel like we haven't had a weekend in a long time with a sunny day, so I'm glad I'm able to give my talk today. My talk is titled: "Along the Path of Enlightenment Crucifixion Happens. Then What?"
Now the reason that I came up with this talk – my inspiration for this talk was – first of all I think that many of us in this room have studied A Course in Miracles for quite some time. I know just looking around the room I see students of: 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 years – students of A Course in Miracles. At the same time that we struggle, I think sometimes we just need to acknowledge the progress that we have made. Many times we live in the enlightened state. We are actually living in it, experiencing it, and not just during meditation when we drop all of our worries, and our concerns, and our to do list, or whatever it is. A lot of us are lights of the world. Just like the song "This Little Light of Mine" that we sing says. We're going out there and we are inducing miracles in our relationships with others. When they see that we have a different way of thinking it allows them, it gives them permission, to let go of their thinking. So we are healing our own minds, and we are living in that state as well.
That's my experience, and that's the experience of many of you. It's also in A Course in Miracles as well. The Course says this, "I will go with you, to the Holy One, and through my perception He can bridge the little gap." (FIP:T-4.VI.7.1) It says this in A Course in Miracles. The space in our minds between enlightenment and the ego is small. Now I don't know if that's true for all of our brothers and sisters on the planet at this moment. I know it's true for my community of A Course in Miracles students here and for the larger A Course in Miracles community that we've experienced at conferences, through the internet, in conversations, classes, and all the ways in which we connect with others.
By-the-way, A Course in Miracles mentions "gap" 77 times in the Text, and often it's preceded by the word "little." The Course also says this, "The gap is carefully concealed in fog, and misty pictures rise to cover it with vague uncertain forms and changing shapes, forever unsubstantial and unsure." (FIP:T-28.V.7.3) I think the important part of that line is, yes, the gap is small, but the ego is clever. The quotation says "carefully concealed," and that changing forms rise to cover it. This means we get different problems. We encounter different people. Some people appear to come and to go in our lives, and sometimes we wonder "Why?" Why does this happen? Why did things sometimes seem on unsubstantial and unsure ground? And this leads me to the core part of my talk. In the reading today it says, "In crucifixion is redemption laid." (FIP:T-26.VII.17.1) So that little gap that we often talk about, or that we hear about in the Course, is still the healing that needs to be done.
Sometimes we experience life as really sucking. Sometimes life sucks, because we experience it as so. Sometimes we experience really, really challenging events. I reflect upon that in my own experience, and I think to myself, "When life sucks I get pissed off!" I do. That's my first response. Sometimes I think, "I'm A Course in Miracles student. I'm an entitled A Course in Miracles student. I don't want to suffer any more. I don't want to feel pain on a conscious level." However, the Course tells us that in our crucifixion is where our healing is. That's the remaining healing that we have to do. It's a little gap folks, but that little gap is still painful at times. Besides getting angry, the next thing that I do – and some of my brothers and sisters also do, and it's something I've talked about here before – is play the infamous "blame game." That's what we want to do. We feel bad; somebody else is guilty. Right? Somebody else is guilty. It's my significant other, my husband, my wife, my kids. It's the Republicans. It's the Democrats. It's the conservatives. It's the liberals. It's the terrorists, the Islamic State. It's this. It's that: buh, buh, buh, buh, buh – and on, and on, and on, and on. And as long as you and I buy into that perception we're going to get more of what we have, and that's suffering.
In my own experience, what I've learned as an A Course In Miracles student, is that when I'm in my crucifixion moments I get a little more willingness then. What the Course says is that our miscreations have a limit. I think that's what Jesus tells us in A Course in Miracles – you can miscreate but he and the Holy Spirit are only going to let you go so far. The more you grow as a Course student, the more you experience enlightenment, you experience those good feelings.You come to Sunday Service, and you feel the love here that is vibrating. Well I can have that or I can have my suffering. Which am I going to choose?
Now, another thing that I sometimes want to do is what I call "spiritual bypass surgery." In essence this is the ineffective way in which we try to deal with our suffering using the cover of spirituality. I'm going to share with you some things that I have done. One thing I have done is to try to anticipate my ego. I'm a high school teacher, so in the summertime, because I have time off, I tend to meditate more. I think about all the things in my workplace or in my life that bother me. Whatever, sometimes relationships, but a lot of times my workplace. I have several colleagues I work with who have been challenging. I pray for them, and I forgive them. I visualize this and that. Then I get back the first day at work and it's the same. I have the same kind of challenges. That has taught me that my healing usually needs to take place in the midst of the crucifixion. When the darkness is coming up I need to address it then. I need to pray then. I need to ask for the miracle. I need to use my spiritual tools and technology.
As I was saying before Sunday Service, we live in this wonderful tech world. And I believe that all of us have the highest spiritual technology on the planet, and that is A Course in Miracles. That technology will get us to enlightenment, I believe, faster than any of the world's spiritual thought systems. I think some of them are great, but I think for me, what I see is that the Course is the fastest route there.
Now, another kind of obstacle, I believe, to healing is the denial of the dark feelings. A Course In Miracles doesn't say that we have to deny anything. This is what the Course says in Chapter 4, "When your mood tells you that you have chosen wrongly, and this is so whenever you are not joyous, then this need not be." (FIP:T-4.IV.2.2) It doesn't say don't have a bad mood. It doesn't say don't have a bad feeling. Listen to what it says in the rest of this chapter, "When you are sad, know this need not be. Depression comes from a sense of being deprived of something you want and you do not have .… When you are anxious realize that anxiety comes from the capriciousness of the ego and know this need not be .… When you feel guilty remember that the ego has indeed violated the laws of God but you have not." (FIP:T-4.IV.3.1-2,4.1,5.1) So the Course is giving us permission to have these feeling states. Actually one of the most damaging things to do, and we know this from modern psychology, is to deny or repress the bad feelings. We all do this. We distract ourselves; we have addictions. We do many many things so we don't have to deal with our present state and our current feelings. And the Course tells us we don't have to do this. In fact if we want to use the greatest spiritual technology on the planet the best thing to do, as soon as you start having those feelings, is use your spiritual technology. Go right to the Course. Ask Jesus for the miracle. Ask Jesus or go to the Holy Spirit. Right? That's what we do. Whatever your tools for using A Course in Miracles are – do it. Sometimes I write. Sometimes I have to talk to someone – whatever it may be.
I want to share some recent experiences when I've had the crucifixion experience and explain my process through that. I had planned for this talk last week, but after that I did have a crucifixion experience at work. I was in the position to organize the college application process for the students that I work with. I work with students with disabilities. They have an education plan in my high school, and part of their education plan is that we need to provide the students with a process to get into college. We work with other members of the school, and with the city of San Francisco, mostly City College of San Francisco, to do this. I'm just one among many, and I supervise case managers for these students. I had prepared a procedure to do this, and one of my case managers this year has not been doing some of the paperwork that is part of the job.
I had been planning on having a workshop. I had put a lot of work into setting up a workshop when the students would come out of class, go to the computer lab, and make their applications to San Francisco City College. On the day of the workshop, this particular case manager had five students that needed to come to this workshop, and none of them came. We have class lists, so we pull them out of their classes. But I was pissed because I had really done a lot of work for this, and I feel that it's our responsibility to follow up. For these students we have this plan and these resources, because they need this kind of help, this kind of assistance. (Rev. Peter teaches and administrates in the Special Education department for a large San Francisco public high school.) Those of us with more are supposed to provide for those with less. It's the A Course In Miracles. It's love. It's providing love where it's needed. Anyway that was my perceptions at that moment. I was really annoyed with this person. I thought about talking to the person, but I know enough from Course teaching, thank goodness, that I shouldn't talk to this person while I was angry. So I turned it over to Spirit. I shared my frustration about it with some friends, and my mind began to shift. I began to see things from a different point of view. By Thursday it was healed – this perception – it was healed with this particular person. What I got from this healing is that this guy is doing the best that he can. That's the message I got from Spirit. He had an experience with another colleague earlier in the year that was very disturbing to him. He was called a name in front of students by this crazy colleague of mine, and I think that is impacting his work performance.
I wasn't guided to go talk to him about it, or to say anything about it, but I was guided to look at my own response. I was guided to look at my own part in it. What I got was, I could have been clearer in my directions. Some of my directions were through email. Some of them were at the meeting, but I didn't give directions from A to Z, so that was my part of it. The deeper part of it was to look at my beliefs. Why is it that I am feeling upset because somebody else isn't doing what I want them to do? And that's the breakthrough. Many of you have been here at my talks for years and years and I've talked about the struggle I have with my supervisory position at my school. Wow, that was a breakthrough. Look at your beliefs around what you think should happen. That's what I did, and part of my belief system is around that control, that need to control, and have things go the way I think they should go. If you're a spiritual person you know we can't always control outcomes. We can do what we can do and what we're guided to do. That does not mean that we're going to get the outcome that we want, what we think is right, but we know in spirit that all things work out for good. We have to have that faith, and I have to have that faith as I look at those situations.
The other thing that came to mind is that my ego was involved. I have a lot of people that come to me. Counselors, people in the college, the career center, and the Principal will ask me, "What are you doing for the students?" They don't come to the case managers. They come to me. I'm accountable, and I felt resentful. It relates my status in the school as well. What's that about? Yes, I have a certain amount of responsibility, and I can do what I can do. If somebody wants to attack me – or like it says in the Course, project onto me their feelings of guilt – that's their issue. I don't have to buy into that. I can simply say, "This is what I did. I provided them with the information." I don't have to judge them. I don't have to judge the people who are attacking me. I can just do what I'm guided to do, and that's freeing for me. That feels like freedom. That feels like letting go. A Course In Miracles talks about this. It says that the secret to salvation is that we're doing this unto ourselves. (see FIP: T-27.VIII.10 )My belief system was triggered by that incident with my case manager. I can heal it now, or it's going to come up again. I'm hoping that it's healed now and that I have more enlightenment.
The other example I want to give is Donald Trump. A couple of you know that about six weeks ago, I was convinced that Donald Trump was a fascist. I was in a lot of fear around this guy, and there was some justification for that. Now we're hearing that some of the far right wing, white supremacist groups actually made phone calls on his behalf. He doesn't endorse it, but they do this. Interestingly enough the Al Jazeera Media Network (the Middle Eastern Arabic news organization that gives an alternative to Western views) wrote an article that said Donald Trump is really a populist. He expresses the point of view of the nativists, those people in the country who are the middle class and the dominant ethnic origin "white folk." He gives expression to their concerns, and their fears. That's the source of his power and his base. So I was really forced to look at that. I have to be honest – I hope my mom doesn't watch this on YouTube – but my mom has many of these similar points of view. I was in a big argument with my mom over school break about Donald Trump and about where the Republican Party was going. Then I have to look at that. Why am I in fear about who's running the country? I have to look at that and say, "What's going on?" What I have been able to do is say, "I don't agree with many of Donald Trump's policies, but you know what I do agree with? He says he wants to fix the country's infrastructure. He wants to build roads. He wants to fix the bridges. He wants to fix the dams, and he wants our airports to be world class."
I fly fairly frequently. That would be a really good idea. Because if you fly to another country, folks, and then experience most of our airports they don't stand up to that quality. I have to say the San Francisco airport is different. The San Francisco airport is pretty cool. It's a pretty good airport. Some of the other ones I've been in around the country – not so good. I'm shifting. I'm no longer afraid of Donald Trump. I'm actually kind of amused by him. I don't have to agree with his policies. I'll probably never vote for the guy, but I see him now as a brother. He's on his course, his path – and whatever may happen, may happen. But I can join with him where I have a like mind. I can agree to disagree where I don't have a like mind. That is what is going to keep me on my path to enlightenment, and I won't have to re-experience the crucifixion if he's elected president. (laughter)
What I want to say in summing up my talk for today is, we are all enlightened and we know that. We are all, in this room, very much open to the experience of Love on a daily basis, minute by minute, moment by moment. When those periods of crucifixion come, and some of them are more challenging that others, let us remember that we have the greatest spiritual technology on the planet, A Course in Miracles, and we can turn to it, turn to any page, turn to any Course student, turn to Jesus and ask for the miracle
That's my talk for today. (applause) ♥
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This article appeared in the February 2016 (Vol. 29 No. 12) 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.