On April 22, 2007, Rev. Larry Bedini addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA, USA. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that lecture.
This morning, I will talk about honor. I’ve been thinking a lot about honor, particularly over the past few months – actually over the years, from time to time. We hear that word used a lot, i.e., “We must honor God. We must honor our country. We must honor our mother and father. We must honor each other.” Etc. etc.
My particular point this morning, is not about honoring other people or things. The point is about honoring your Self. Yes, it’s about honoring your Self. Now what does that mean, honoring your Self? When I talk about honoring your Self, I’m talking about your higher Self. The capital “S” Self, the way it’s written in the A Course In Miracles book. So, it’s not about honoring the country. It’s not about honoring Holy Spirit. It’s not about honoring God. It’s not about honoring anything else but – Self. By honoring your Self you will, of course, honor all things.
In lesson 186 in the Course Workbook we are taught, “Salvation of the world depends on me.” I particularly like that lesson because it is the one that falls on my birthday. It goes on to say, “Here is the statement that will one day take all arrogance away from every mind. Here is the thought of true humility which holds no function as your own but that which has been given you. It offers your acceptance of a part assigned to you, without insisting on another role. It does not judge your proper role. It but acknowledges the Will of God is done on earth as well as Heaven. It unites all wills on earth in Heaven’s plan to save the world, restoring it to Heaven’s peace.” (Wk.Or.Ed.186.1)
It goes on to say, “Let us not fight our function. We did not establish it. It is not our idea. The means are given us by which it will be perfectly accomplished. All that we are asked to do is to accept our part in genuine humility and not deny with self-deceiving arrogance that we are worthy. What is given us to do we have the strength to do. Our minds are suited perfectly to take the part assigned to us by One Who knows us well.” (Wk.Or.Ed.186.1) So, the only way you can save the world is by, if you will, “saving you.” In other words, by recognizing who you are, in reality.
The Course assures us there is nothing to save because we are already perfect, in reality. Then, there is no need of salvation because there is nothing to save. We are already perfect because we are the holy child of God, so what would there be to save? Nothing! But we do need to honor ourselves by acknowledging who we are.
If I am acknowledging that I am a holy child of God, or a higher power, whatever you choose to call it, then I am honoring my Self. If I honor my Self, I cannot dis-honor anyone else. We’ve all heard the saying by William Shakespeare in Hamlet, “And this above all, unto thine own self be true and it shall follow as the day the night – thou can’t not then be false to any man.” That’s the kind of honor I’m talking about – honoring our Self. If I honor my Self, I cannot be false to you or anyone. I cannot be: mean to you, or brutal to you, or unkind to you, or do terrible things to you, or think terrible things about you. If I do, I would then be dis-honoring my Self.
Now, you can do all of those things I just said you shouldn’t do, but then that would be by your own free-will choice. You would then be dis-honoring your Self and that is not God’s plan for you. If I want to follow God’s plan, which is perfect happiness for me, for you and for you, you, you, you, all of you out there, then I must not dis-honor my Self. If I did dis-honor my Self, I would be dis-honoring God, Holy Spirit and Jesus, as well. That’s why I said earlier, my talk is not focused on honoring God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, or other people and things. You see, if I honor my Self, then it is only natural that I will honor God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, my country, my fellow man and every thing. I cannot “honor” God, Jesus, etc. and meanwhile dis-honor me. My “honor” would be a lie.
So, I don’t have to separate and make distinctions about what I should honor; God, country, other people, etc. How can I honor any of the above, if I don’t honor my Self. I would not be able to do that. However, if I honor my Self, it stands to reason I will honor everyone and everything else. Again, though, if I don’t honor my Self, I won’t be able to do that. What I will be doing is demonstrating myself as a very hypocritical person. Get the point?
I’ve heard people say, “I honor my country. I’m a very patriotic person. Don’t say anything against my country.” However they don’t honor another person’s right to say what they wish to say. But, they “honor their country.” Well, I think the Constitution has in it something that says we have the right to free speech. Or did that mean only you have the right to free speech? There are fundamentalists and even non-fundamentalists who say, “I honor my God. I’m faithful to my God.” But then they go on to condemn others for their spiritual beliefs. Is that honoring Self? Some of the great religious wars have been the cause of hundreds of thousands, even millions, dying because of defending religion and/or God. I hardly think religion needs defending. Certainly God doesn’t need defending, although many have and still do seem to feel the need to do so. That’s their ego agenda. We still have battles going on because of someone’s need to “fight the good fight” – to “manage” someone else’s life while not being able to manage their own.
If I damn you for doing what you do, then I’m not honoring my Self. By all means, I am not saying that if someone comes screaming at you with a knife, gun or fists poised to kill, you shouldn’t protect yourself in some way. By doing so, you would be honoring yourself. However, if you become as vicious as the other person, are you honoring your Self? If you feel the need to defend yourself because you feel attacked, you must look within your own mind and set it straight. The Course says, “Babies scream in rage if you take away a knife or a scissors, even though they may well harm themselves if you do not.” (Tx.Or.Ed.4.28) It’s alright to take the knife or scissors away from the screaming child in order to set things right but we cannot hate the screaming child. It, too, is a holy child of God. We must take the energy of hate out of our thinking and find a better way.
Some people go around saying, “I’m a person of integrity, a person with high self-esteem.” But then they will do something to prove they don’t have integrity or high self-esteem. It is necessary to demonstrate that you do have integrity and self-esteem. It isn’t necessary to say you have “high” self-esteem and “high” integrity because if you have self-esteem you have integrity. It cannot be quantified by “high.” It is the highest in and of itself. Should you “behave” as if you do have it? Is that the key? No! The Course is not about behavior. It is about shifting your perception. It is about making the correction in your thinking. It is at that point the behavior follows. It is about recognizing who you are, a holy child of God. So it is not about behavior.
Years ago, a big company came out with a diet plan. I don’t recall the name of the company right now, but they were a huge company with a novel approach to dieting. Their idea was that if you craved a certain food, you would be allowed, with the help of their consultants, to eat all of that particular food you wished. If you craved chocolate, you could eat all the chocolate you wanted, in one sitting and for so many days. Their theory was that if you did that, you would no longer want chocolate because you would become sick of it from that point on because it would be a bad memory for you. If you wanted french fries you did the same, etc., etc. McDonald’s and all the other quick food places were happy about this program, to say the least. I think it’s safe to say that thousands of people ordered buckets of french fries. See’s Candy stores probably had a few banner years. Well, the diet company didn’t last long and soon went out of business. You see it wasn’t and isn’t about behavior, it’s about changing your perception about who you are. What that diet company forgot to consider was that people have other days ahead of them. Sitting down and eating all you can eat because you will not want it anymore lasts only a short time. If your mind set about who you are doesn’t change, fries and chocolate or whatever, will continue to look good again in just a few days. Imagine telling a bank robber to steal all he can steal at one time for so many days and then he won’t want to steal anymore? Think it would work? There are many analogies I could come up with but pick from your own list.
There is a theory in our world that says if you want to break a habit, don’t do it for 28 days and it will be gone. If you want to cultivate a habit, do it for 28 days and it will be established. Well, if that were true it would be wonderful, but it isn’t true because it is not about the behavior. It is about shifting our thinking. The reason those theories don’t work is because, first they are only theories, second because we have to change our thinking and not our behavior. We have to change our thinking about the food, the alcohol, the cigarettes, by correcting who we “think” we are. We have to change our ideas about who we think we are. The way we present ourselves will follow. Do I present myself as who I think I am or do I present myself as a holy child of God; abundant, beautiful, and loving? I can’t say how wonderful I am and then demonstrate how not so wonderful I am. It doesn’t work.
I can’t say, in one breath, “I love humanity. I want peace for the world. I want peace for my fellow man – except for that S.O.B. over there that I hate and that idiot on the road!” It isn’t going to work! On some conscious level, as the Course teaches, you know that. So why keep doing it? And if the “why” is not important, as the Course teaches us, then it must simply stop. I am talking about the very thing that God created as an extension of himself – you. The very thing that is the center of your universe: you, you, you, me. We are each the center of our universe, in our ego state. We feel that the world really revolves around us. And it does. It absolutely does. It will be whatever we want it to be. We pull the strings; we push the buttons. We project our thinking – out there. We manifest exactly what we want, good, bad or otherwise. So we are the center of our universe, in that sense. But, if we don’t honor our Self, then that universe we manifest is filled: with despair, with misery, with devastation, with depression. That’s what we get because we didn’t honor our Self. Jesus says in the Course, “The Soul has not only been fully created but has also been created perfect. There is no emptiness in it. Because of its likeness to its Creator, it is creative. No Child of God can lose this ability because it is inherent in what he is, but he can use it inappropriately. Whenever projection is used inappropriately, it always implies that some emptiness or lack exists and that it is in man’s ability to put his own ideas there instead of truth.” (Tx.Or.Ed.2.5)
Last night, Tony, Christine and I went to an event that a friend of ours invited us to. We didn’t know what to expect there. The friend, a woman, said it was, “a celebration of life.” I thought, “Oh dear, it’s a ‘happening’ like we used to have back in the sixties and seventies – a celebration of life.” When we got there we were surprised because, really, it was a celebration of life but in today’s terms. There was nothing “strange” going on, nobody was smoking pot, running outside to smoke pot or to snort coke in the back rooms, or whatever. (lots of laughter) They were “average” people, average people who just came in and didn’t even know what to expect, either. They just came in, by invitation, and here was this woman hosting the event. She had decided she was just going to celebrate all of her friends and their friends. She was going to honor herself and honor everyone around her. When we had all arrived, she announced, “This is a birthday party for all of you who had birthdays or will have birthdays this year.” (laughter) Well, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t have a birthday this year. (more laughter) It was wonderful because it was a celebration of life, a celebration of birth-days. It was a wonderful idea and we had a great time. The food was good. There was dancing and there were balloons. Somebody was beating on the drums when we first came in and I thought, “Oh, Lordy. Here we go.” Then that ended, our hearing returned and everything was just fine. It was wonderful. No more drums. Whew! (lots of laughter)
So! In honoring your Self, you naturally honor all things. I don’t have to tell you that I’m going to honor you. I don’t even have to call you my friend. If I honor my Self, I will demonstrate to you, through that honoring of my Self, that I do care about you. I do love you, because I love me. I will honor you as a friend because I honor me as my friend. So I, Larry, honor my Self. That’s what I’m working on and have been working on for years. Yes, at times, I forget, as we all do. But then, over the last few months, I’ve had occasion to remember it, very strongly. The word honor has been uppermost in my thoughts. When I council people, that is one of the first ideas I establish in them.
Is it any wonder that we get into difficult situations when we don’t honor our Self? We’re very quick to cry out how the world’s a bad place. How this person is bad. How that person is bad. But the Course teaches us, we’ve manifested those people and those situations in our life. As difficult as it might be to have to admit, we manifested them. We were part of an agreed upon manifestation of what comes to us. The Course teaches us that. Yes, you had a role in it. Why did we do it? Why did we manifest those things? Because we did not honor our Self. You notice, I can’t say “ourselves” as one word, because “ourselves” is the lower “s” which means the lower self, the baser self. Unfortunately, that is who many people honor, most of the time, or much of the time. The Course wants us to honor our higher Self. Not our lower self – our higher Self.
Is it any wonder we have difficult situations? If you honor your lower self, what would you expect the outcome to be? If we honor our higher Self, all of the misery, the devastation, the stress we feel, will vanish because we get to the place where we are at peace, because we honor our higher Self. That’s the place of peace. That’s when we rise above the battleground. That’s where we understand who we truly are and we feel at peace. That’s where we extend love and feel loved. That’s where we feel happy.
After much reading of the Course, I came to realize more and more that I, obviously, had not been honoring my Self as much as I had thought. And, as most of you think, I really thought I was an honorable person. Oh, I did things at time that were not good. I knew that it wasn’t the right thing to do. It wasn’t the nicest way to talk to someone or to treat someone but if you said to me, “Are you an honorable person?” I would have said, “Yes, I am.” But, the truth of the matter is, I wasn’t. You can’t be honorable nine-tenths of the time and be dishonorable the last tenth and consider yourself an honorable person. You can’t be “slightly” honorable. You’re either honorable – or you’re not! I can’t be slightly pregnant. I’m either pregnant or I’m not, you know that one. Of course, being a man, the likelihood of that happening is nil but you get the point. (lots of laughter)
If I’m honest six days a week and steal on the seventh day, am I a thief or am I an honest person? I may say “I’m an honest person, because most of the time I don’t steal, so c’mon give me a break – I’m honest.” But, I’m not. If I tell the truth to all of you but I lie to one person – Eileen (pointing to a member of the congregation) and tell her a lie, am I honest or am I a liar? So am I honorable? That’s the question we all need to ask ourselves. If you don’t honor your Self, how then is it possible to honor anything? How then is it possible that you would honor a commitment? How then would you honor a contract, either verbal or written? If you can’t honor your Self, which is you in the highest form, how can you be trusted to honor anything or anyone else? Most importantly, how can you ever be trusted again?
Oh, I know, there are those who will say they honor certain agreements, at times and they are trustworthy, at times. But, if I tell you the truth 70 percent of the time and lie to you 30 percent of the time, am I trustworthy? Am I a truthful person, or am I a liar? Can I be a person of honor? If I steal from you, your faith and trust in me, am I trustworthy? Am I a person in whom you can put your faith? If I abuse you, mistreat you some of the time, can you trust me not to treat you badly or not to abuse you? I think not! Even though some people mistreat or abuse others, and that’s tragic enough, the worst of it is they are abusing their most precious gift, their own Self. And, what is even worse – those who are allowing themselves to be abused are equally destructive because they are allowing their Self to be abused – but not by the other person who is also abusing but rather by themselves – and to their Self by their own desire. Wow! Think about it!
Are you honorable? If you are not, because of so many of the dis-honorable things you do that dishonor you, your Self, then you need to work on that. You need to look at that and say, “Okay. I don’t have to consider myself a rotten, no good person. It’s not about guilt. I just need to know that I’ve made some mistakes and as the Course says, correct them.” Correct your perception and be patient with yourself. Jesus says in the Course, “When I said, I am come as a light into the world, I surely came to share the light with you. Remember the symbolic reference we made before to the ego’s dark glass, and remember also that we said, Do not look there. It is still true that where you look to find yourself is up to you. ... Your patience with each other is your patience with yourselves. Is not a Child of God worth patience? I have shown you infinite patience because my will is that of our Father, from Whom I learned of infinite patience. His Voice was in me as it is in you, speaking for patience towards the Sonship in the name of its Creator.” (Tx.Or.Ed.5.79.81) What needs to be remembered is to be patient with yourself. We need to progress. We need to keep working on honoring our Self. Jesus says in the Course, “Miracles honor man because he is lovable. They dispel illusions about him and perceive the light in him. They thus atone for his errors by freeing him from his own nightmares. They release him from a prison in which he has imprisoned himself, and by freeing his mind from illusions, they restore his sanity.” (Tx.Or.Ed.1.46) A shift in perception is what restores our sanity. Notice how many times the Course will refer to insane thinking. It reminds us we are thinking insanely. We have insane actions. If we shift our perception, in that instant in which we shift our perception, we are honoring our Self.
What a wonderful feeling it is. We’ve all experienced that. Everyone has experienced that feeling many times, where we shift our perceptions and we feel so much better. It’s as if we had repainted our house, repainted the rooms, refurnished it and we feel so much better. We’ve put in a new kitchen and we feel so much better – bought a new suit or dress and we feel so much better. We did something wonderful for ourselves or another and we feel so much better. But why is it we don’t spend as much time or give as many thoughts (pointing to his head) to fixing what’s up here? That’s what really needs to be fixed. We need to remodel this! (pointing to head.) We need to remodel, refurbish, the thinking by shifting our perceptions. Now we know that and we do it, many times. But we need to be constantly working on it – constantly! Remember what Jesus says in the Course, “Yet a real sense of being cannot be yours while you are doubtful of what you are. This is why vigilance is essential. Doubts about being must not enter your mind, or you cannot know what you are with certainty. Certainty is of God for you. Vigilance is not necessary for truth, but it is necessary against illusions.” (Tx.Or.Ed.6.93) You must be constantly vigilant against the thought system of the ego. Constantly vigilant against the negative thought system of which we are in control! Not slightly vigilant, or at times, vigilant. We must be constantly vigilant. Does it take a lot or work? Hell yes it does. However, once we get it, it gets easier.
You can’t go on condemning people, dis-honoring your Self by dis-honoring your fellow: man, woman, child, creature and then consider yourself an honorable person. It’s as simple as that. Like it or not. To be honorable is to honor your Self, all the time. The moment you don’t, you are dis-honoring Self, which proves you are not honorable. If you can remember that in the times when you are dis-honoring your Self, then you are on the road to improvement, on the way to correcting your thinking about who you truly are. You are on the road to faster shifting of your perceptions. We all have to do it.
I have been using the word honor in my thinking as much as I can. Here is one of the things I have learned to do, I will pass it on to you, should you choose to use it. On every decision I make I say, “Will this decision honor my Self? Will I be honoring my Self, if I do this or think this, or if I say this? Will I be honoring my Self if I react this way? Will I be honoring my Self? And if the answer is, “No!” I have to re-think. If I’ve already done it and I’ve made a mistake – I think back, after the fact, and ask myself whether I honored my Self by doing that or saying that. I then say to that person, “I apologize. I made a mistake.” But, I have to mean it! I have to be truly sincere. I’m not going to throw myself at their feet for mercy. No need to do that because that wouldn’t be honoring my Self. But I do need to tell them that I made a mistake. Or, I need to acknowledge it in my mind. I need to say, “I didn’t honor my Self by doing or saying that, so that needs to stop! That kind of thinking needs to stop! I need to make the correction in my thinking.” It’s alright if we make mistakes. The Course allows us to make mistakes. It acknowledges that we make mistakes. However, it wants us to acknowledge it in our mind and make the correction. That’s what it wants us to do! It doesn’t want to punish us. It doesn’t say, “Pick up the book and bash yourself over the head twenty times.” It just teaches us to forgive ourselves. Let it go. Make the correction and move on. Forgive yourself by using the Course definition of forgiveness, which is to let it go.
If I have a problem, I’ve done something wrong, I’ve made a mistake – there it is! If I hold onto it and I keep making that same mistake, then just like money in the bank, it is making interest upon interest and compound interest. If I don’t do anything to correct it, it just keeps earning negative interest because I haven’t let it go. It earns negative interest. If I want to stop earning negative interest on that negative investment, I have to let it go. I absolutely must let it go. It’s a bad investment. Now after I let it go, if I pick it up again, then I haven’t really let it go. But, if I can let it go, and when the temptation comes and I think I really want to hit on that again, I really want to get that person again and make that person suffer again, I can say, “Alright, those are the feelings I have but Holy Spirit, help me to shift my perception, because I know I don’t really need to go there.” “Holy Spirit, I understand I don’t need to go there and I won’t!” “I won’t go there. I will to now correct my thinking on that.”
Now look, you can’t cultivate the new habit for twenty-eight days and on the twenty-ninth pick up the old habit again. You have to shift your perception; correct your thinking. Choose again. Why? Because you have to remember who you are as a holy child of God. You have to honor your Self! The Course teaches us it takes time to learn and each will learn in his or her own way and time. It also says, “... you can defend truth as well as error and, in fact, much better. – The means are easier to clarify after the value of the goal itself is firmly established. Everyone defends his own treasure. You do not have to tell him to do so because he will do it automatically. The real questions still remain. What do you treasure, and how much do you treasure it? Once you have learned to consider these two questions and to bring them into all your actions as the true criteria for behavior, I will have little difficulty in clarifying the means. You have not learned to be consistent about this as yet. I have therefore concentrated on showing you that the means are available whenever you ask. You can, however, save a lot of time if you do not extend this step unduly. The correct focus will shorten it immeasurably. (Tx.Or.Ed.2.34-35.) And, “Little children, you are hiding your heads under the covers of the heavy blankets you have laid upon yourselves. You are hiding your nightmares in the darkness of your own certainty and refusing to open your eyes and look at them.” (Tx.Or.Ed.11.17) The light is here, within each of us. Find it by honoring your Self.
And that’s my talk for today. Thank you. (lots of applause) Y
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This article appeared in the October 2007 (Vol. 21 No. 8) 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.