By Jeremy K. Finkeldey
I let go of my television habit one year ago this coming May 1st so I am out of touch with the ‘reality’ of world news. I know there was an earthquake in Japan and the president’s name is Obama and my daughter lives in California and my son in Ottawa and my other son in Holland, PA. I still know basically everything I need to know. And yet it’s strange how different life is without that steady diet of media that is based on fear, guilt, greed, power, partisan political conflict, and human control – and, all the other things ego is attracted to.
I won’t lie and tell you “oh, the lights have really come on for me since I eliminated TV and I feel like such a better, more healthy, person… etc.” Stopping TV addiction does not, in itself, eliminate ego or its attendant misery. The truth is, of course, that other forms of ego have managed to slip in and fill the gaps created by my practice of non-TV. But I have faith in the idea. It’s a simple idea – I am what I consume physically, mentally, and spiritually. If I am willing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in terms of what I consume (and what I do with what I consume), I will eventually get back to awareness of the truth that, as A Course In Miracles states, “I am as God created me.” (A Course In Miracles, W-110) This very important teaching from A Course In Miracles goes on to say:
“… this one thought would be enough to save you and the world, if you believed that it is true. Its truth would mean that you have made no changes in yourself that have reality, nor changed the universe so that what God created was replaced by fear and evil, misery and death. If you remain as God created you fear has no meaning, evil is not real, and misery and death do not exist. 2 Today's idea is therefore all you need to let complete correction heal your mind, and give you perfect vision that will heal all the mistakes that any mind has made at any time or place. It is enough to heal the past and make the future free. It is enough to let the present be accepted as it is. It is enough to let time be the means for all the world to learn escape from time, and every change that time appears to bring in passing by 3 If you remain as God created you, appearances cannot replace the truth, health cannot turn to sickness, nor can death be substitute for life, or fear for love. All this has not occurred, if you remain as God created you. You need no thought but just this one, to let redemption come to light the world and free it from the past.” (A Course In Miracles, Workbook Lesson 110:1-3)
Sorry for the long citation but I just felt that every word of it was SO important and inspirational. Can you imagine a world in which ‘fear has no meaning, evil is not real, and misery and death do not exist’? Such a world DOES EXIST. It is the product of spiritual practice. A Course In Miracles calls it the “real world.” Buddha called it “the Pure Land.” My favorite revelator, Emanuel Swedenborg, called it “the Lord’s kingdom.” In his theological work entitled Secrets of Heaven, Swedenborg explains that if we could all give up our ego-based need to be theologically ‘right’ and could instead “make love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor the principal of faith… the Lord’s kingdom would come upon the earth.” (Emanuel Swedenborg, Secrets of Heaven 1799:4, emphasis added)
We are talking about a change of mind here. In the real world, the Pure Land, the kingdom of God - everything is connected and we are all One. The change of mind is a shift in perception away from awareness of the ego’s world of separation and discord and towards an awareness of Oneness and accord. In a church service the other day (NewChurch LIVE), the teacher of God referred to the biblical book of Mark, in which Jesus Christ is recorded as having said:
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
Now the teacher’s point was, what if Jesus Christ simply meant, “the Kingdom of God is very close. Change your mind and believe in this good news”?
So I did some digging and here’s what I came up with. The Latin root from which the word “repent” is derived (“poenitere”) means to ‘feel regret’. But is that really what Jesus Christ meant when he supposedly said “repent”? The kingdom of God is at hand. Feel regret, and believe in the gospel? I don’t think so. I like the NewChurch LIVE teacher of God’s interpretation.
First of all, He wasn’t speaking Latin at the time. Secondly, what He supposedly said He said in Aramaic which was then recorded in Greek. The Greek that was translated as “repent” was the word “metanoia.” Metanoia means “change your mind.” I’m thinking there is considerable room for meaning to get lost in the translation if it goes from Aramaic to Greek to Latin and finally to English!
According to A Course In Miracles, guilt (or feeling regret) is counter-productive when you are trying to change your mind and shift your perception in the direction of the real world. Guilt reinforces error.
“… "sin" … cannot be undone by repentance in the usual sense, because this implies guilt. If you allow yourself to feel guilty, you will reinforce the error rather than allow it to be undone for you.” (ACIM, T-5, VII, 5:2-5)
This shift in perception from the illusory world of the ego to the real world of Oneness is what A Course In Miracles means in its use of the word “miracle.” A miracle is a shift in perception that reminds you that you are “as God created you.”
Can you look at your experience and see how this works? I have discussed this with many people. Some get it right away but others have a very hard time seeing guilt as being counter-productive. They feel sure that the miracle of guiltlessness and of seeing yourself currently being “as God created you” will turn you into a sociopath without a conscience. This comes from the fairly standard Christian teaching that feeling bad about yourself will inspire you to change. This turns out to be false. At best, guilt might get your attention for a little while but never enough to actually facilitate the change. It’s way more likely that guilt will grow to become shame than that it will help you to change your mind. Here is one Course student’s take on the subject of changing your mind. Here’s Lisa:
But, as Course teacher Marianne Williamson says:
“Some people… would rather die than change their minds….” (Williamson, A Return To Love, p. 237)
Fortunately “conscience” does not equal “guilt.” Conscience equals reality-based change.
Also, 18th century mystic Swedenborg would advise us to work against the perception and belief that we are the ones doing the positive change. The reality, he says in so many words, is that the Lord is the ‘doer.’ We are works in progress and the Lord is supervising and performing the construction project of us.
In regard to each of us as ‘individuals’, Swedenborg writes:
“… a person... is led by the Lord, and he takes no step into which and from which the Lord does not lead...as if by the hand... The Lord does this without the person’s knowing it, because if he knew it he would disturb the continuity of that process by leading himself.” (Emanuel Swedenborg, Apocalypse Explained 1174)
And when it comes to the whole human race, he explains:
“… the human race throughout the whole world is under the guidance of the Lord, and… everyone from infancy even to the end of his life is led by Him in the most individual things and his place foreseen and also provided.  From these things it is clear that the Divine Providence of the Lord is universal because it is in the most individual things; and that this is the infinite and eternal creation which the Lord provided for Himself by means of the creation of the universe. Man does not see anything of this universal providence; and if he did, it could not appear to him otherwise than as passers-by see the scattered heaps and collections of materials from which a house is to be built; while the Lord sees it as a magnificent palace with its work of construction and enlargement continually going on.” (Emanuel Swedenborg, Divine Providence 203:1-2)
We are all construction projects - Divine works in progress.
Schucman, H. and Thetford, W. (2007). A course in miracles: Combined volume. Third edition. Mill Valley, CA: Foundation for Inner Peace.
Swedenborg, E. (1949). Divine providence. Wm. Dick & E. J. Pulsford (Trans.). London: The SwedenborgSociety. (Original work published 1764)
Swedenborg, E. (1960). The apocalypse explained. J. Whitehead (Trans.). New York, NY: Swedenborg Foundation. (Original work written c. 1757-1759 and first published posthumously in Latin in 1870)
Swedenborg, E. (1965). Secrets of Heaven. J. F. Potts (Trans.). New York: Swedenborg Foundation. (Original work published c. 1749-1756)
The Holy Bible (NKJV). (1982).
: Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nashville, TN
Williamson, M. (1993). A return to love: Reflections on the principles of A Course In Miracles.
: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. New York
Copyright @ 2010 Jeremy K. Finkeldey; All rights reserved.