Building New Brain Cells

This week we finished watching the lecture by Dr. Ryce ( and the thing that struck me the most as I watched this lecture, yet again, was the level of understanding that I received on several key points, which I had “missed” or only partially understood during the many other times I have watched the lecture.

When I think about the process of counteracting the decades of conditioning I have received through my education, family, and culturally biased experiences, I am reminded of the song by Paul Simon in which the lyrics say, “When I think back on all the crap I learned in High School, it’s a wonder I can think at all.” We are all programmed to think that what we have “learned” is correct, and that challenges to what we “know” are to be seen as an attack upon us. One of the most critical points in this lecture is how we need to be able to bring into question what we already “know”. We must be open to the possibility that what we “know” may be wrong, or at least limited. If we are not willing to accept that we don’t know all there is to know, we will not be able to learn anything new.
We are limited by what we think we know in all of its forms. We are limited by bias and prejudice, as well as limited perception. Take the example of the person who grows up in a culture that has no technology or machinery and does not know anything about electronics and remote controls. This person is likely to think you possess some kind of magic if show them a television, which they will view as a box with people inside. Or they may view you as some kind of god if you change the channel and volume with a remote control. The reason for this is because they don’t know anything about the electronics which are used to make these events happen. In similar ways, we are just discovering new technologies which would have seemed magical just a few decades ago. Many of us can remember when no one had a cell phone, and it was science fiction to wave your hand at a television screen and have the picture on the screen respond.
The same process is in effect in all our systems of thought, philosophy, science, spirituality, and even personal experience. So as we learn from others and our own personal experience, we open ourselves to new possibilities, but we always run the danger of thinking that what we have learned is “right”, or “the truth”, and “all there is to know”. Each time this happens we create prejudice and bias within our thinking. In order to be open to learning something new, we need to first accept that we do not know all there is to know, or that what we know may be inaccurate, or limited.
As we do this we open ourselves to deeper and deeper levels of understanding of “old” knowledge. It is amazing to me how much more I understand about relationships in families than I did when I was twenty-five and considered myself very knowledgeable. What is even scarier is how I realize now that I understand much more today than I did when I was forty and considered myself an expert. I look at family relationships now and wonder what new things I will learn and come to understand in the next ten years. In some ways this is unsettling because I am beginning to realize how much I do not know. In other ways it is exciting because I look forward to learning more.
In similar ways, I think back to how I looked at this lecture from Dr. Ryce the first time I heard it several years ago, and how different it feels to listen to it today. I have a deeper appreciation for the words and concepts today than I ever could have imagined just a year ago. As I build new levels of understanding, I build new levels of appreciation and new levels of possibility. It reminds me of the quote from the book “The Way Of Mastery” where it says, “The difference between a student and a master is that the master knows, one must always be a student.”
I join with you all in questioning everything we think we know, so that we may learn everything we need to learn to continue to grow.
We come from Love, we are made of Love, we are Love. Everything else is false.

Introduction To A Course In Miracles – With Advanced Understanding.

This week the Mindshifters group watched the first part of the lecture by Dr. Michael Ryce titled, An Introduction To A Course In Miracles – With Advanced Understanding. Dr. Ryce uses the analogy of a person who lives in a two dimensional world, trying to experience and understand a three dimensional basketball. He tries to help the audience imagine the difficulty of getting someone from a two dimensional world to understand something they have never experienced before and something that goes against every experience they have ever had, as well as all of the known history of their family and their culture. He makes the point that if one has limited perception, it will dramatically limit their ability to comprehend something or someone.

In a world where there is only length and width it is not possible to describe height, or thickness. In a world where no one has ever experienced a three dimensional object, there are no words for describing a three dimensional object. If I am only able to see things in two dimensions that does not mean that the third dimension does not exist. Just as my limited vision does not mean that ultra violet light and infra red light do not exist. Just because I cannot hear a dog whistle does not mean that it does not make a sound. In the same way that the limitation of my sense organs filter out much of the light and sound around me and limit my ability to perceive the world, my limited ability to perceive the true nature of people does not mean that they are limited to my label or judgment of them.
One of the keys points of the lecture is that when I judge someone, or look at them and see only a body, it does not change their nature. It simply keeps me from seeing them as they truly are.
If I want to have any hope of perceiving my world accurately I have to begin by accepting the possibility that what I have already seen, or judged, may be wrong. If I am not willing to accept that there may be more to a person than what I have previously thought, I will not be open to new information and I will not be able to change my belief. The first step toward learning anything is the acceptance that there is something I do not know or understand. A mind that “knows” is not able to learn. A mind that is questioning is the only mind that is able to learn.
If I look at someone and believe that I see a body, and I believe that I know who that person is, I have, in that moment, judged them and done them and myself a serious injustice. I have chosen to believe they are only a body, and only a person, and that they are not an infinite energy system made of Love. I have, in that moment, chosen to disregard the miracle of life, and the many miracles of growth and healing that the physical part of their energy system carries out on a daily basis.
This lecture challenges us to question our perception of the entire world, but perhaps most importantly to question our perception of people, and open to the possibility that each person we see is an expression of the infinite energy we call Love, and God.
We come from Love, we are made of Love, we are Love. Everything else is false.

Getting The Stress You Need – Part 2

This week the Mindshifters group watched the second half of the lecture, Getting The Stress You Need, by Dr. Michael Ryce. One of the primary messages of this lecture is that once the human mind sets a goal, it remains set and active, even if unconscious, until the goal is reached, or it is actively, consciously cancelled. The ability to cancel a goal is one of the functions of the spiritual faculty of Will. The importance of cancelling unfulfilled goals is that each time I set a goal and do not reach it, I continue to use some of my mental emotional energy to maintain that goal. The energy needed to maintain an unfulfilled goal takes away from the energy I have to focus on and accomplish my goals for today.

The analogy used is that of the logging truck which is capable of pulling two or maybe even three loads of logs at a time. The logging company who uses this truck wisely will be very successful. If the logger only hooks up one or two loads of logs at a time, the truck will easily make the needed deliveries and have plenty of power and resources to spare. But imagine that one morning the logger receives an order for three loads of logs to be delivered next week and immediately hooks those loads up to the truck. Then later in the day he receives an order for another load to be delivered three weeks from now and immediately hooks up that load as well. Later he receives an order for two more loads to be delivered tomorrow and immediately hooks those up to the truck. Finally, he receives an order for two loads of logs to be delivered today. He hooks those up to the truck as well, and then tries to make the delivery, but the truck won’t budge! He has used all the power and resources of the truck with orders for tomorrow and further in the future, and has nothing left for what needs to be done today.

In the same way, when we set goals and they are not met, they keep running actively in our minds, even though we are not conscious of them, until they are achieved, or actively cancelled. The more unfulfilled, uncancelled goals we have running in our minds, the less resources we will have to do the things we need to do each day. There is an exercise in the lecture in which Dr. Ryce guides the audience through the process of reviewing past, unfulfilled goals and cancelling them, thereby freeing up resources in us for accomplishing the goals we consciously choose to set.

This part of the lecture was the most powerful for me this week. Despite the fact that I have listened to this lecture and done this exercise at least ten times in the past, I came face to face with an entirely new set of unfulfilled goals. This exercise was also interesting because I found myself integrating several pieces of other lectures, and the book; The Way of Mastery, while doing this exercise. The exercise consists of relaxing, getting comfortable, closing the eyes, and breathing gently while reviewing a series of people and events from your past, about whom/which you may have unfulfilled goals. When Dr. Ryce instructed us to think about any unfulfilled goals for education, my mind flashed on a series of events which surrounded the oral defense for my dissertation in graduate school. For many years now, those events have stood as some of the most traumatic and distasteful events of my entire adult life. As I flashed on those events and the people involved and told myself to cancel any unfulfilled goals related to those people and events, I found myself thinking about another exercise and the Forgiveness Process which Dr. Ryce teaches. I realized that if I was upset about something those people had done, it was only because I recognized that energy in myself. I realized that if it still upset me it was because I had not forgiven myself for having that energy in my thoughts and behavior, whether currently or in the past.
I chose to cancel any goals for those people and those situations, and I chose to cancel any judgement of myself for the times in my life when I had been dishonest or deceitful. As that happened it seemed like the vision of that situation and those people just disappeared with a puff of smoke. I felt myself smiling slightly as I watched that “horrible” series of events just fade away. I was left in awe of the process.
The group process this week was exceptionally lively as members wrestled with their conscious and unconscious goals related to food, body image, relationships, family of origin and other issues. The group showed its usual reverence and respect for each other as we each explored our individual reactions the questions raised and the beliefs explored. I remain unspeakably grateful for each of the individuals who have chosen to participate in making this group one of the most productive and rewarding group experiences of my life.
We come from Love, we are made of Love, we are Love. Everything else is false!

Getting The Stress You Need

The Mindshifters group on Tuesday watched the lecture titled: Getting The Stress You Need. While this title sounds contradictory because some would say we don’t need stress in our lives, the truth is that without stress, as defined in the lecture, we would not survive long. For the purpose of this lecture, stress is defined as the difference between the way we see things and the way we want them to be. By way of a simple demonstration, if I want my body to be comfortable but I happen to sit on a thumb tack, I will immediately experience a difference between the way I want things to be and the way I perceive them to be. This is a good thing because it will motivate me to move off of the tack.

The lecture also talks about how I select certain intentions and elevate them to the level of goals, which is what organizes my behavior. This is how I accomplish everything in my life. It is suggested that I don’t do any behavior without first having elevated an intention to the level of a goal. If my goals are determined by my intentions, then the quality of my intentions will determine the quality of my goals and therefore the nature of my behavior. This is why it is important to monitor my intentions and choose only loving intentions. If I choose only loving intentions then my goals will be loving and my actions will be loving. If I hold hostile intentions then my goals will be destructive and my behavior will be destructive. If I hold fearful intentions, my goals will be negative and my behavior will be avoiding.

The discussion in the group included the difficulty some people have in giving up their habit of holding fearful and hostile intentions and perceptions of the world. Many of us have become so familiar with feelings of anger and fear, that we feel these intentions and perceptions serve a useful purpose in our lives. The key here is that any tool can only produce a result which is like the tool. So if I use my anger to accomplish a goal, I am creating negative energy in my body’s energy system and sending out angry energy into the atmosphere and relationships around me. Whatever “good” results I believe I have accomplished with the use of anger, I am also creating stress and negativity in my interactions and relationships with others.

I am also creating distorted perceptions for myself whenever I engage in angry or fearful energy. The only way to perceive the world accurately is to hold the energy of Love in my mind. When I am holding the energy of Love, I will be able to identify the highest and the best in another and choose to cooperate only with that part of the other person. When I am feeling fear or hostility, my perceptions are distorted and I will be using inaccurate data to form my “reality”. When I am in a potentially dangerous situation and I am triggered to feeling fear, the most productive thing I can do is calm myself down so that I can see actual events more clearly and think more clearly. One of my favorite quotes for difficult situations is, “This is way too important to panic about!” This is because if I move into the energy of fear or hostility, I am distorting my perceptions and leaving myself with bad data to formulate my “reality”.

The goal of this work is to teach only Love. The process of this work is to be vigilant about anything in my thoughts and beliefs which block me from recognizing that …

We come from Love, we are made of Love, we are Love. Everything else is false!