Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mania or Miracles?

Jim Raleigh lay strapped to a metal table, convinced he was Jesus Christ. As Jesus, he knew his mental powers could break the straps, but when the straps stayed put, he concluded he must be just one of Jesus’ helpers. Jim has manic depression, also called bipolar disorder. He was institutionalized 14 times before he starting gaining control of his erratic moods, which swung between excited mania and desperate depression. On a trip to the mall with the mental ward group, Jim noticed a book called Love is Letting Go of Fear. Having no money, he slipped the book into his pocket, unaware that the principles of A Course in Miracles contained within would heal his life.

Years later, now stable and at peace, Jim Raleigh has written Mania or Miracles? The Gifts of Being a Manic Depressive Personality. Jim is a courageous man, willing to expose his vulnerability simply to help others suffering with mental illness. He has the chutzpah to challenge standard mental health dogma, which states that biochemistry is the primary cause of mental illness, therefore, medication is the primary treatment. Jim purports that the fearful mind is the source and cause of illness, and credits A Course in Miracles for his recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Step groups have always emphasized the centrality of Spirit in the healing of addictions, but the mental health community has been slow to catch on to its relevance in mood disorders.

Jim writes: “The answer to my lack of self-control was the realization that the source of my anger was within my mind, but peace was also there. It was up to me to choose anger or peace. Choosing my thoughts determined my external world. The drugs, the therapy, or my choice of environment were just small parts of acquiring the stillness in my mind; the most important process was the choice of my thoughts. How does the racing mind slow itself to rediscover that the answers are already there? We just need to ask the right questions and train the mind to listen, and not wander off before the answer is provided.”

The answer provided is love, the mind’s release of its fearful sense of separation from Spirit, the recognition that we are totally loved, and that we are love itself. The inner voice of love speaks to all of us, all the time, if we but listen.

Jim’s journey is fascinating, and a must-read for individuals and their families recovering from mental illness and substance abuse. (Jim also became alcoholic because he self-medicated in a frantic attempt to tame his manic mind.) Jim is one of the 20% of manic-depressives who live successfully, as he describes, “beyond the cope.” Sadly, another 20% commit suicide from this devastating disorder.

As a mental health and substance abuse professional, I applaud Jim’s efforts to transform the face of mental health by bringing spiritual truth to the table. Mania or Miracles is available from Jim Raleigh is A Course in Miracles student and group facilitator, who can be reached at

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How Could This Happen? The Penn State Scandal from the Perspective of A Course in Miracles

By the Book. That’s the name of Joe Paterno’s autobiography. How, then, could someone revered as an icon of integrity, honesty and morality turn a blind eye to years of alleged rape happening in his own locker room? Joe reported a sexual abuse incident to his athletic director. He did what he was legally obligated to do. He went by the book.

Jerry Sandusky allegedly sexually abused dozens of young boys, luring them in with the glamour of Penn State football. He is seen as a sick pervert who set up a charity to prey on vulnerable kids. Viewed with compassion, though, he can be seen as someone who cares about children so much that he set up a charity for the underprivileged. However, since he also probably felt unspeakable shame for his actions, perhaps in his mind his charity partially atoned for his guilt. The lives he helped somehow offset the lives he destroyed.

We don’t know how Sandusky and Paterno rationalized their behavior. They likely harbored guilt for years and it finally crashed down on them. The Penn State giant has toppled, and if we’re honest, we have to admit that part of us relishes it. As the giant bleeds we feel secret relief, an expiation of our own personal guilt, the darkness we’ve hidden. To minimize our guilt we compare. “At least I’m not that bad—I would have gone to the police. I’ve only fooled around a bit on the side—I would never rape little kids.” As long as we proclaim others guilty, we don’t have to look at our own guilt. They become our scapegoats, our sacrificial lambs that keep us safe as we hide in our false sense of innocence.

We all make excuses. We know we’re doing it because we feel that twinge inside.
When we do something wrong we feel guilty, and like the criminal who returns to the scene of the crime secretly hoping to get caught, internalized guilt demands punishment. We evade our guilt with addictions such as drinking, overeating and facebooking. Perhaps we feel guilty about something wrong we did, someone we hurt, or, as in Paterno’s case, we failed to act when we should have. Joe Pa is every man. Jerry Sandusky is every man. We are all Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky.

An oft-heard phrase is, “How could this have happened?” But the opposite is closer to the truth. How could this not have happened? In 25 years as a psychotherapist, the most comprehensive thought system I’ve found to explain human behavior is A Course in Miracles. It states that guilt is the prime motivator for virtually all human behavior, even those behaviors that appear loving on the surface. The source of our guilt is that we mistakenly identify ourselves as separate bodies, rather than recognize the oneness of humanity. We are spirit, but when we believe we are separate we must compete, compare and capture our piece of the pie. The world’s resources are scarce, so when one person gets something it’s necessarily stripped from someone else. Everything we do is done to get something from someone else, even when we think we’re doing things from love.

Tribal allegiance is normally seen as a healthy source of pride. Yet A Course in Miracles challenges this assumption and states we form relationships to make us feel special and ward off our inherit sense of unworthiness and guilt. This dynamic is seen in the cheer “We are Penn State!” As Joe Pa comforted his supporters from his living room window he reiterated the pride of the lions’ motto. “We are Penn State!” This means we are Penn State and you’re not. This means we are better than you. This means our share of the goods is bigger than yours.

Joe Pa’s self worth was tied to his image as the venerable icon of a respected empire. Until he testifies, we won’t know what he was thinking, but it could have been along these lines. “I’ve given my blood, sweat and tears to this program, and no one is going to tarnish Penn State’s reputation. If my defensive coordinator quietly retires he won’t stain our image. After all, I’m paid to keep Penn State on top, therefore I’m doing my job.”

No matter how much we rationalize, though, when we don’t face our guilt, make changes, and forgive ourselves, our shame must inevitably return to haunt us. Our world crashes down on us as we are fired, get divorced, file bankruptcy, etc. Joe Pa’s legacy is forever marred by ignominy, and children’s lives have been shattered.

Since the tragedy has already happened, however, A Course in Miracles offers a way out of the mess Penn State’s in—forgiveness. A Course in Miracles reminds us that we are lovable by virtue of being human, not by anything we have achieved. Conversely, we are lovable in spite of anything we’ve done. Sexual abuse is inexcusable but not unforgivable. Forgiveness does not mean that Jerry Sandusky should walk if he’s found guilty. Forgiveness means we look at the love in him, the part that really does care about kids. We help him heal the shame that led him to attack the very kids he cares for. We help him see that the love and power he tried to get from these kids is available by loving himself first. If Jerry had loved himself, he would never have hurt those children. If Joe Pa had fully loved himself he would never have pursued success at any cost.

Everyone in this tragedy needs love and forgiveness—the children as well as Penn State administrators, Joe Paterno, and Jerry Sandusky. No one heals while guilt and hatred find a home in his heart.

A Relationship Miracle

A miracle has happened! The book that came through me six years ago has finally been published. It’s called Breaking Free: How Forgiveness and A Course in Miracles Can Set You Free. It took six years to publish because I had some more forgiveness work to do, which I describe below.

The book poured out of me after I made the decision to forgive what A Course in Miracles calls my “chosen learning partner.” We usually have two or three major learning partners, and they provide us with our greatest forgiveness lessons. This learning partner has been a man I’ve called my “twin flame,” the soul mate of soul mates. I formed a special relationship with him, expecting that our soul mate relationship, the grandest achievement on earth in my mind, would make my life whole.

It went bust. Right after I had a baby, I left my husband for this man, and then he abandoned me. That was not part of my plan, and I spent the next 15 years raging at him. I’ve spent the past six years alternating between trying to forgive him and raging at how I thought he victimized me. Yet I still loved him and felt terribly guilty for loving such a jerk. Further, I have a wonderful relationship with my partner of 11 years, so I’ve felt guilty about continuing to love another man.

The Course tells us that a special relationship is something we think will substitute for the love of God. We all form special relationships and these can be with people or things. Addictions are special relationships—we fall in love with alcohol or something else, and initially we feel we’ve found what we’ve been looking for. Then it goes bad, as things here on earth often do.

Last week I spoke with a new friend, Jane Lee Logan. ( I told her that I can’t stop thinking about my twin flame and how guilty I’ve felt about that, since he’s been so mean to me (that’s another story and the subject of my next book). She echoed the words another friend of mine has been saying, but this time I was able to take them in. “Love him! Love him! How can you possibly stop loving him? Love is what you are! He’s your savior! Don’t even try to stop loving him!”

Something shifted in me, and I’ve had tears of gratitude since. I can finally say that this relationship is healed and that I’ve forgiven what my twin flame never did. A Course in Miracles tells us that we are the dreamers of our own dream, so we’re never victims. The person we think we have to forgive never did what we think they did, because life is a dream. When we awake, we see that nothing ever happened and love is all that’s left. When we finally see this, we are free.

I see it! I used to think I needed my twin flame to apologize before this would be healed, but now I see I just needed to open up to total love, no matter what I dreamed he did.

This open heart is a gift like no other. Whoever has hurt you, s/he is your ticket to freedom. Keep asking the Holy Spirit to help you forgive, and you will break free.

Breaking Free is both the title of my book and what life’s all about. You can read previews or order it at

Blessings, Lorri Coburn

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Film: The Way

I saw an advance screening of the film The Way, starring Martin Sheen and directed by his son Emilio Estevez. It’s the story of a conflicted father/son relationship, in which the father, Tom, a successful ophthalmologist, disapproves of his son’s free-wheeling, world-traveling lifestyle. Daniel, the son, dies in a mountain accident while hiking el camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage to the legendary burial place of St. James. Tom picks up his son’s remains and spontaneously decides to finish the pilgrimage in honor of Daniel, scattering his ashes at sacred markers. Along the way he meets up with three other pilgrims, as different from himself as he and Daniel. The four make a motley crew that trudge the entire way to the Compostela de Santiago, meanwhile calling each other out on their emotional dishonesty and true motives behind the trek.

Someone asks Tom how he feels about Daniel’s death, and his answer is simply, “How do you think I feel? He was my son!” Now that Daniel is out of the body, Tom is able to have a healed relationship with him, and he sees his ghost several times. Egos use the body to fight and separate from each other, but when we’re in spirit form, it is sometimes easier to release the ego. A Course in Miracles tells us, “The special relationship is a device for limiting yourself to a body, and for limiting your perception of others to theirs.” (T-16.VI.4:4)

ACIM “re-minds” us that we join with others through the mind, not the body. “Everyone has experienced what he would call a sense of being transported beyond himself…it is a sudden unawareness of the body, and a joining of yourself and (someone) else…it becomes part of you and both become whole. This can occur regardless of the physical distance (or) respective positions in space.” (T-18.VI.11; 12)

The Way reflects the goal of A Course in Miracles, the healed relationship. The Way is beautiful—visually, emotionally, and spiritually. It is beautiful visually with its views of the Pyrenees mountains, it is beautiful emotionally with its depth of grief, love and laughter, and it is beautiful spiritually with its message of forgiveness and healing. The Way grabs you at the beginning and does not let you go until the final scattering of Daniel’s ashes into the roaring sea.

As The Way and A Course in Miracles show us, it is never too late to forgive and heal a relationship. Several of my clients in psychotherapy had conflicted relationships with parents who had passed on, and they were able to forgive and heal through their dreams. Is there someone in your life who has passed into spirit form, but whom you still need to forgive? Ask the person to come to you in your dreams or in some other way you’ll recognize. Know that as you put out the call for healing, it is indeed being received, even if it’s not quickly apparent.

I wish you healed relationships. Lorri Coburn

Here’s a trailer for The Way.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Anatomy of an Epidemic

Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in AmericaAnatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America by Robert Whitaker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anatomy of an Epidemic gives facts and figures on the astonishing rise in social security disability cases due to mental illness. Whitaker makes a comparison between the advent of Prozac in 1987 and the subsequent 37-fold increase in disability cases. What I found interesting is that his observations, backed by data, paralleled my anecdotal observations in my psychotherapy practice. In fact, prior to reading this book I had planned on writing a book about the limits of psychotherapy, and had actually published an article on it. When I first started practicing, clients would be on one, maybe two medications, if any. By the time I finished, 25 years later, clients were routinely sent for medication, prescribed at least two meds, constantly switched when the initial honeymoon period of those meds wore off, and often ended up on 4-6 meds. One of my clients died from overmedication and I had attempted to get her off the meds to no avail. Further, the attitude that a patient needed to stay on meds for life became increasingly entrenched and promoted. Drug companies bought lunch for the clinical staff and gave inservices on new ways to use existing drugs. When the patent for Prozac was over, it was renamed Serafim and aggressively promoted as a treatment for PMMD, pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder, the old-fashioned PMS. What the drug companies did not tell you, but Whitaker shows and I saw, was that once on drugs it was really hard to get off. The brain got used to relying on the artificial manipulation of neurotransmitters and seemed to lose the ability to do its own work.

Whitaker gives fascinating details of an American Psychiatric Association conference that he attended, in which the presentations questioned the efficacy of medications. More and more reports are coming out about the adverse effects of anti-depressants and other psychotropic medications. He raises an important question: Why, when we have so many new and supposedly wonderful drugs, are there more people permanently disabled by mental illness than ever?

This is not to say there is not a place for medication, but that it is being over-prescribed and given to people who should be using behavioral, emotional, and spiritual interventions. I personally know a number of "normal" people who are on anti-depressants and/or anti-anxiety agents who don't really need to be, in my clinical opinion.

Anatomy of an epidemic is an important book that anyone considering taking psychotropic medication, or is already on those medications, should read.

View all my reviews

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Ego's Need to Punish

If you’re drawn to captivating movies, rent The Painted Veil, starring Ed Norton and Naomi Watts. Based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham and filmed in China with breathtaking scenery, the movie beautifully exemplifies the tangled dynamics of the ego and the miracle of forgiveness.

Ed Norton is Walter, an English doctor specializing in epidemiology and heading to China, while Naomi Watts plays Kitty, a British socialite, eager to escape her stifling family. Walter asks Kitty to marry him, knowing full well she only accepts to get away from home. Walter has the ego expectation of getting her to eventually fall in love with him, epitomizing the ego’s need to “get” love rather than to “be” love.

While in China, Kitty has an affair with a British diplomat, and Walter, enraged, lets loose with the full force of ego vengeance. She asks him to let her quietly divorce him, but he refuses, giving her a choice between two options: he will divorce her on the grounds of adultery (this is 1925 and a woman would be ruined); or she can follow him to a cholera-infested area of China. When Walter’s ego does not get what it wants, he has a compelling need to punish and persecute Kitty, in spite of her apology and appeal for mercy.

Kitty, feeling trapped in the typical ego scenario of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” follows Walter to the cholera-stricken region, where he proceeds to ignore her, refusing to exchange even common pleasantries. Kitty eventually confronts him and says he can’t go on punishing her forever, and asks if he hates her. In a moment of truth, Walter admits that he doesn’t hate her; he hates himself for ever loving her and wishing she’d love him.

Walter’s admission that it’s his own self-hatred begins the process of dismantling his ego and illustrates this line from A Course in Miracles: Any concept of punishment involves the projection of blame, and reinforces the idea that blame is justified (T-6.I.16:5). While Walter blames Kitty, he can justify punishing her, but when he quits projecting his guilt, he starts softening toward her, and she responds in kind. This leads to a profound and inspiring forgiveness lesson as they face the dreaded cholera.

Whom in your life are you projecting blame onto? What would happen if you took that blame back and forgave both that person and yourself? You might just experience a miracle, as Walter and Kitty did.

Love and Light, Lorri Coburn

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Forgive the Poop

When my dad started dipping his hand into the toilet, I finally lost it. “Dad! We don’t put our hands in the toilet!” I threw the towel on the sink in disgust, ran into the other room, and cried. The sobs rose up from deep inside me. I couldn’t bear to see what had become of my dad, the person I had admired most in my life, reduced to a demented old man who thought nothing of having poop on his hands and clothes.

When I came back in the room, my dad sat naked on the toilet and tried to console me. “You seem really upset, Honey. You’re simply too picky. I love you, but your problem is that you criticize and criticize.”

A wave of love for him washed over me. He’s so sweet, and has no clue that it’s his craziness that’s sending me over the edge. His inability to discern poligrip from toothpaste. His willingness to wear clothes with poop smears on them. How he sits on the toilet to urinate, while still wearing his pants.

I ran out of the room to cry again. I tried to use words from A Course in Miracles to pull me back to center. “My only function is forgiveness. This world is not real. I accept Atonement for myself.” But they weren’t working. I couldn’t stop crying; I couldn’t stop making it real. I could see that I was totally in ego, but could not get out.

The rest of the day, I just distracted myself, because trying to get anything productive done was worthless. When I got home, I found blood and cat claw holes on my couch, which flipped me over the edge again. I threw something against the wall, knowing it was soft enough to not do any damage, but still feeling guilty for losing control. I prayed for help again, and got the idea to watch a comedy show. That finally did the trick, and the ego’s grip loosened.

I feel so guilty when I get irritated with my dad, especially when I know he can’t help himself. I also feel terribly guilty about my rage, which resurfaces occasionally. Part of me knows that I’m the One Self, not the personality Lorri, but when I identify with her nasty traits, it’s not pretty.

As I calmed down, the truth of A Course in Miracles started seeping in. The Course teaches us that our one function is to let go of the illusory world, stop making it real. These thoughts came to me: “It’s not my job to be a good daughter, it’s my job to forgive the image of the father with dementia and the daughter who’s frustrated. It’s not my job to be patient with wiping poop off my dad, it’s my job to forgive the poop. My only job is to choose to see a forgiven world, something I cannot do from my ego thoughts, but can do with my Right Mind. Focus on the love between my dad and me, not the appearance of sickness.

Peace was restored as I remembered my only job. The Course is simple: problems appear in myriad forms, but there’s only one problem—the belief that we’re in this painful world, separated from God. There’s only one solution: forgiveness. This tool reminds us of our Right Mind that is still connected to God. It’s the only thing that brings permanent peace, because trying to fix the world eventually brings more poop in some form or other.

Do you have poopy stuff that’s stressing you out? Ask your Right Mind to help you see your function differently. Your peace is right there waiting for you to ask.

Blessings, Lorri Coburn

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

That's Not Who I Really Am!

Who is that monster that emerges out of the blue? Is that me? How can I be so awful? How can I mutter under my breath, “You bas---d” to the person I’m supposed to love most? Are there two people in here, one nice and the other horrible?

Haven’t we all felt like a monster at times? Haven’t we all wondered if people knew what we really thought and felt and how we act in private that they wouldn’t like us?

Well, the good news is that that isn’t who we really are. A Course in Miracles tells us we have a case of mistaken identity. It says we’re the innocent children of God who have never done anything wrong. But how can that be possible when we are nice one minute and vicious the next?

We mistakenly identify ourselves with our ego personalities rather than the Divine Loving Presence within us. We really think we are this person who works at the bank, has three kids, likes hockey, is friendly but has a bad temper, etc.

What would happen if we truly believed we were the holy Son of God (W-p.I.191.h), that we were loved without conditions? If we truly believed we were innocent and therefore deserving of all good things? How many times have we heard “God loves us just as we are,” and our response is “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” We hear these words and for most of us they are just that—words. It’s an intellectual concept for most of us; we don’t really feel it deep down.

The workbook lessons of A Course in Miracles train our minds to change our identity. As long as we think we are bodies with individual personalities, separate from each other, we will always return to guilt and misery. It is only by claiming our Christ Self, our Divine Self, that we will find true happiness. Trying to improve our lives and find things that bring us pleasure only work temporarily.

Here’s to relaxing into the truth of our Being and knowing, as A Course in Miracles tells us, I need do nothing.” (T-18.VII.h)

Blessings, Lorri Coburn

Monday, September 5, 2011

I Surrender

Two summers ago I came a split second from being in what surely would have been a fatal car crash. For two weeks prior, I’d had the premonition that I was going to die. I had told my partner Rod I thought I was done with my lessons on earth, was tired, and wanted to go home to heaven.

The proclamation that I was done set forth a flurry of activity, and I was up past midnight, writing out a memorial service, making sure my financial papers were in order, and setting aside gifts and notes to loved ones. I couldn’t stop myself—things were coming through me on their own, in the same way a book on A Course in Miracles was written through me five years ago.

I traveled to see my daughter at her university, and gave her a valuable gold coin and a card saying how proud I was of her. I thought I’d get in a car accident on the way home from seeing her.

Then the sense of anticipation simply stopped. It was gone. All of a sudden I wasn’t sure where all that had come from.

Five days later, the near-miss accident almost happened. My body jolted as I instinctively slammed on the brakes. I felt my blood run cold. I couldn’t think due to the shock.

After about a half hour of scattered dizziness, I realized what had happened. I thought, “I was supposed to die! What the hell is going on?” I started swearing at God in intense rage. “You had better let me know why I’m still here and what my purpose is, because I sure as hell don’t know!”

That night I opened A Course in Miracles at random to Lesson 191: “I am the holy Son of God Himself.” It reads, “You do not see what you have done by giving to the world the role of jailer to the Son of God. Deny your own identity, and look on evil, sin and death, and watch despair snatch from your fingers every scrap of hope, leaving you nothing but the wish to die.”

That was it! I still had not accepted my true Identity, and that was my purpose. While I still identified myself as a body named “Lorri,” I just wanted to die. What I thought was to be the death of my body turned out to be the death of the ego. At that point I surrendered. I got the message.

Since the near-miss I have consistently reminded myself of my purpose, to remember What I really am. When I know I am Spirit, I have no preference where the body appears to be. I remind myself that I abide in the Mind of God.

What’s occurred since surrendering has been one miracle after another. When the book on A Course in Miracles came through five years ago, I tried to publish and market it, and hit one wall after another. In the past few months, however, serendipitous events keep happening, and the book is being published, and people are asking me to speak and hold classes. I haven’t had to do a thing except act when guided.

Is Spirit (which is your own Higher Self) asking you to surrender? Are you going to kick and buck for five years like I did, or do it the easy way and accept your higher good now? Either way, you’re always in the arms of God, so you’re safe and ok.

I wish you a happy and easy journey. Lorri Coburn

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Forgiveness and the Criminally Insane

In psychiatry, the criminally insane are considered the worst of the worst. Unable to rehabilitate. Insane forever. Yet Dr. Hew Len achieved the impossible when he healed an entire ward of criminally insane patients in a Hawaiian psychiatric hospital. And he did it without ever seeing a patient.

Dr. Len simply received the files of the patients and proceeded to clean his own mind of all judgments that could lead to mental illness. As he wrote down the name of each patient he prayed a simple prayer to the Divine: “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank You.” He asked forgiveness for thinking unloving thoughts.

From that prayer, violent patients calmed down and were actually released. Staff that had notoriously skipped work started showing up again because the atmosphere on the ward improved. Eventually the ward was closed down because there was no longer a need for it.

Dr. Len’s philosophy is that the world we see outside is a function of what’s in our own minds. He takes 100% responsibility for the world, and when he healed the criminals, he saw it as healing his own mind, not theirs. This is the same philosophy found in A Course in Miracles. The Course states, “the world you see is what you gave it. It is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition.” (, 5)

The other day a car passed me on a solid double yellow line, with a slight hill ahead. Lately I’ve seen more and more reckless drivers, some even passing me on steep hills. I go ballistic when this happens. I wanted to go up to that driver and smash his car with a hammer. I also wanted to smash his head with the hammer. After all, he didn’t give a rip if he hit someone head on, so he deserved it.

The other driver was a reflection of my murderous thoughts, and the part of me that hates everyone and doesn’t care if I live or die. Screw everyone and everything. That driver did not do something to me; I asked for it. As the Course says, “I am responsible for what I see. I choose the feelings I experience…And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for.” (T-21.II.2:3-5) It’s not fun to admit that I’m as big an idiot as that other driver, but it’s true.

I called him all kinds of names until I got over my tantrum and decided to forgive. I used Dr. Len’s formula: “I love you. I’m sorry (for thinking that guy’s an a—hole). Thank you for forgiving me.” I alter the statement somewhat, knowing that God has never judged me and in His mind there’s no need for forgiveness.
Immediately I felt better. Dr. Len’s formula, named ho`oponopono, is a practical and quick way to forgive and tap into divine healing. He calls it cleaning our minds. We will see a world of peace and love when our minds are clean, not when all those other idiots get off the road.

Blessings, Lorri Coburn

Friday, March 18, 2011

Does Prayer Work?

When I was in high school, my girlfriend got cancer. My church prayed for her, but she died anyway. I was too frightened to go into the funeral home and sat out in the car sobbing. Around the same time my parents had serious marital problems, and again my church prayed. My mom still left and we didn’t know where she was for seven years.

I concluded that prayer doesn’t work. Even when it seemed to work it was unfair, for why would God heal one person and let the next die? I didn’t trust God at all. I felt that way for the next 30 years, and didn’t waste my time praying for others. I did affirmations for myself, but simply didn’t trust that prayers would help anyone else.

Two years ago I learned a different way to pray. A Course in Miracles says that to see anyone as sick doesn’t help either him or you. The way to pray is to hold the truth about the person, regardless of physical appearances—the truth that each one of us is whole, safe in the arms of God, and completely capable of choosing God’s love and peace in every moment. Our tendency is to feel sorry for someone who is suffering, however, if we feel sorry for him, we are denying his ability to heal himself and recognize his true nature.

To believe that a Son of God can be sick is to believe that part of God can suffer. Love cannot suffer. Do not side with sickness in the presence of a Son of God even if he believes in it, for your acceptance of God in him acknowledges the Love of God he has forgotten. Your recognition of him as part of God reminds him of the truth about himself, which he is denying (T-10.III.3:1-2; 4-5).

Even though I’d been praying this new way for the past two years, I still wasn’t sure it was helpful until a few weeks ago. Last year I gave a talk and a woman signed up for my newsletter. She later emailed me with a request for prayers. Her husband, who had been an emergency room physician and an avid cyclist, bicycling five to six thousand miles a year, had been paralyzed in a bike accident. I sent out a prayer request to a number of friends, the couple was put on my church prayer list, and I continued to hold them in the light.

I gave another workshop at that same place, and they arrived with the husband in a wheelchair, attended by a nurse. The woman introduced herself to me and said she came specifically to thank me for the prayers, as she said that was one of the things that got them through. I was moved to tears, and am tearfully grateful as I write this. The husband touched me profoundly when he said that people think their prayers don’t help because he’s still in a wheelchair. However, they keep his attitude positive, so they are helping. Here is a couple who could easily be bitter and dejected, yet they came to share love with me and tell me that prayer—love—works.

This is one of the most significant gifts I have ever received. It gives me hope. It tells me that the Course is true when it says that minds are joined, and all that I give is given to myself (T-18.VI.3:1; W-p.I.126.h). When we pray that another person knows himself as part of God, knows himself as healed and whole, we are receiving that same gift of truth.

Right now, would you please take a moment to send a prayer to this wonderful couple? He may or may not ever walk again, but he is not his body and he is already whole in the Mind of God. It is the mind that needs to be healed—the body is simply an instrument for communication at this earthly level. We can communicate either love or fear, as we choose. They chose to share their love with me and I am eternally grateful.

Union Busting or Proper Fiscal Management?

I shook for two hours after viewing Rachel Maddow’s commentary on the legislation recently passed in Michigan, which she cites as fascism, union busting, and egregious insensitivity to the most vulnerable populations: seniors and the poor. We are seeing rallies in Michigan similar to those in Wisconsin, an outcry against the erosion of middle class rights, and a perceived power grab to reverse 80 years of middle class gains.

I found myself wanting to scream obscenities at the governor and throw eggs at his office window. I wondered how that bas----- could sleep at night, and cursed him to burn in hell. I couldn’t sleep, hatred burning in my heart. While I forwarded the Maddow video to my friends, I felt guilty. Am I being a bad Course in Miracles student? It’s very clear I’m in massive ego fear, but if a tsunami were heading toward Michigan, I’d sure be calling all my friends. I didn’t want to hide behind the truth that none of this is real as an excuse to avoid taking responsible democratic action.

Thus, as I forwarded the video I did my best to forgive and turn my hatred and fear over to the Holy Spirit. The week prior I had prayed to be released from all judgments, and it occurred to me that I was being given a ripe opportunity. “Holy, Spirit, I choose to forgive this. Help me release judgment. Help me to see this differently.”

The next day I got an email from a republican cousin, who told me she thinks the bill is good. She feels it is holding irresponsible local governments accountable, and I agreed that fiscal responsibility is essential. Her email made me feel better, as it was a reasonable dialogue without judgment. I also got an email from a friend who is a Vietnam vet: “One of the most important messages in The Disappearance of the Universe is ‘if I will envision a U.S. with more compassion, love and kindness it will happen.’ The greatest invention of the 18th century was democracy. If 51% of the U.S. vote to minimize the greed and intolerance it will happen. I believe and envision this, just like I believed Vietnam veterans would be treated respectfully by the American people. I don‘t see the media insulting veterans anymore--they wouldn‘t dare in today‘s U.S. I am watching American soldiers on TV getting on airplanes with supplies to go help the Japanese people. This is the greatest country ever.”

I was grateful for these emails, feeling they were answers to calm me down. Yet I still realized that they were illusory answers in form, rather than the absolute Truth A Course in Miracles teaches. The Course tells us to react to anything in this world means we’ve forgotten our true Identity as the Son of God. To react to anything in form is to make form real. To react to anything from anger or fear is to separate ourselves from our brothers, who are our saviors.

My heart ached as I judged Governor Rick Snyder. Was there a way I could disagree with his policies without hating him? Was there a way I could stand up for what I see as freedom and equality without making the illusion real? Could I see Truth, that I am viewing a world that is already over, a scenario in which there appear to be separate bodies fighting against each other? Could I see a forgiven world through the Holy Spirit’s eyes, see only One Son, and look past the fragmented separation that I dreamed up? Again I prayed, “I will forgive and this will disappear. Love is all I want, therefore, love will be all I see. I am determined to see this differently.”

The answer came. When I made a sincere, committed request to see this differently, peace enveloped me. Part of this request was acknowledging and forgiving the part of me that chooses drama and division. After 36 hours of angst, fear was replaced with peace and I felt my brotherhood with both democrats and republicans, with union workers and corporate executives. This was not something that I could have done without the Holy Spirit’s help, as in my separated, judgmental state I was mired in ego hatred.

I still attended a rally for workers’ rights, but without judgment, without an arrogance that I know what outcome is best. I am taking action in the world, with the awareness that every form is impermanent and meaningless. However, I’m holding fast to the message of A Course in Miracles: Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God. (T-in)

Blessings of Peace, Lorri Coburn

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Most Beautiful Message in the World

“I’ll love you forever. You’re perfect just the way you are. You can’t do anything that could make me stop loving you. You are infinitely safe and I’ll care for you in every way.”

This is the message of A Course in Miracles. It is the most loving message I’ve ever heard, and the most wonderful thing is it’s true. For always. It is the Holy Spirit’s message to us of God’s eternal Love, a Love that will never be taken away for any reason, at any time.

When I had my daughter, like most parents I wanted nothing more for her than she feel loved, love herself, and be happy. Like most parents, I would lay down in front of a train before I’d let something hurt her. Like most parents, I wanted to give her all I had.

Was I able to keep that promise without fail? Like every human parent, not by a long shot. My ego quickly stepped in and I was shocked that I could be angry at a sweet little baby. I was shocked that I wished I hadn’t gotten pregnant. I was shocked that I resented how much energy and time she took from me.

The ego is not pretty to look at, but we have to look at it if we are to stop believing in it. Every parent falls short, be it the “good,” devoted parent, or the “bad,” neglectful parent. The saving grace is that we are not judged regardless of what type of parent we seem to be, except by our own egos.

According to A Course in Miracles, the entire spectrum of beliefs is false. The person who beats his kid is no different than the parent who sings his child to sleep. How can this be? Because the ego is a false illusion. The world of separate people and bodies is a mirage. This world is but a movie and we’re simply players on the stage. We’re only dreaming that we were born into this world as separate people, who then birthed more separate people, who do “good” and “bad” things, who hurt each other. The Course reminds us, “Nothing more fearful than an idle dream has terrified God’s Son.” (T-27.13:3)  

That’s why the statement at the beginning of this article is true. It cannot be true any other way. If I am a parent who is a “good parent” today because I read to my daughter, sing to her, and give her only sweetness, then I feel good about myself. Tomorrow, when I yell at her, I feel like a “bad parent.” Both assessments are based on behavior, both are temporary, and both are false. The only “judgment” of God is “your loveliness is complete and flawless.” (M-23.5:5)

A Course in Miracles tells us that we are worthy solely based on the fact that we are the holy child of God. This has been forever true and cannot change. Nothing we do, either “good” or “bad” can alter this fact. “Nothing real can be threatened, (your perfection as a child of God, your safety and that you are loved forever), nothing unreal exists (the world of destruction and death, separation, pain and loss). Herein lies the peace of God. (T-in.2:2-4)

This is the Truth. It has always been there and but awaits your acceptance. I hope you will receive this gift for yourself. Blessings of Love, Lorri Coburn

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Voice For Love

“Don’t take the train!” Linda told me she heard a distinct voice in her head warn her not to take her usual route home from work. Dismissing it as superstition, Linda took the train anyway, and found herself alone in a car with a sinister-looking man. He approached her menacingly, twirling a pair of numchucks. Fortunately Linda was able to escape without harm, but recalls, “I was warned.”

Such serious incidents don’t happen often, yet how often do we ignore the inner voice that’s trying to guide us? We frequently only remember the gut feeling of either apprehension or inclination in hindsight.

We just knew we shouldn’t take that job, but feared nothing better would come along. We had a sneaky suspicion that person was up to no good, but thought we were being judgmental. We had a strong sense that one house would suit us better, but it wasn’t as practical as the other one.

Our helpful, healing Voice is always with us, but usually there is so much mind chatter that we can’t hear it. A Course in Miracles says we have two voices, the ego’s voice of fear and the Holy Spirit’s Voice of Love. The two voices speak for different interpretations of the same thing simultaneously; or almost simultaneously, for the ego always speaks first (T-5.VI.3:5). Since the ego always speaks first, we have to pause and get silent.

The single most important thing I teach my psychotherapy clients is how to talk to and listen to their inner Voice. I tell them they won’t need me when they have their own internal therapist. A Course in Miracles teachers DavidPaul and Candace Doyle have written a book called The Voice for Love, which poses over 100 questions to the Holy Spirit about how you can clearly hear God's Voice within you as a distinct and conversational voice.

What answers are you seeking? May you find the answers you’re looking for by hearing the Voice for Love. Blessings, Lorraine Coburn

Monday, February 21, 2011

JOE WOLFE: From Prisoner To Prison Ministry

The following is an edited account of Joe Wolfe’s transformation from criminal to prison ministry founder. Joe gave me permission to edit and reprint it, and if you'd like to find out more about Joe and his book The Five Signs, you can go to the website below.

Joe sends books related to A Course in Miracles to prisons, and his ministry has grown beyond his expectations. The requests are overwhelming, so donations for mailings are greatly appreciated. You can donate at

It was 1974 and I was twenty-four years of age at the time. My own history up to that point was one like so many stories of a young street thug, growing up in a working class Chicago neighborhood, discouraged and disillusioned by the mediocrity and grind of what life had to offer.  

That there had to be something better was always a predominating thought. So 'better' for me, was the excitement and the radical comradity of our little clique of thugs, always plotting, always stealing, always looking for that thrill. So when those activities resulted in my first arrests, confinement in juvenile punishment facilities and finally in a ten year prison sentence (the big time), I was brought to a juncture. The underlying conviction that there had to be something better still remained but now (after the experience I'll describe below) that something would take on an entirely new and remarkable definition.  

So at twenty-four and while wallowing in the misery of prison life this is what occurred that would lead to forever changing the way I would perceive the world:
The real Me...The I...The Essence of Who and Where I AM emerged for just a few short minutes one summer afternoon after an entire sleepless night of worry and immense fear over the possibility that I might be killed the following day.  For the first time in many years I turned to the God I perceived and I prayed for deliverance. I begged and prayed for many hours with fever and intensity never before offered. 'He' answered...'He' delivered me. And for a few brief moments 'He' lifted Me from the body and embraced Me as a loving Father does His Son and assured Me once again, that I would be alright.  
While the body lay on the prison cell cot below, the awareness of "I" expanded to include every molecule of air around Me... every feature, the sunlight that streamed through the barred window, the trees and grass outside, the room itself...everything was Me.

Now, many years later, and after much search, many books, and after the message of Forgiveness as gently prescribed in A Course in Miracles, I came to realize that the 'person' who searched would never find the answers. That person, a product of the same thought system that created him, would seek and never find because he was simply in the way. His beliefs, his concepts and ascribed personage blocked the very awareness of that which he sought. He had to get out of his own way first. He had to surrender his own image of who he thought he was before any Real knowledge could enter. The little self had to be first seen for what it really was, then sacrificed (for lack of a better word) to make room for something much bigger.  

Today, almost every day this writer visits the local post office to deliver copies of the original edition of A Course in Miracles [donated by Course in Miracles Society] along with an easy to comprehend introduction to The Course, as made available through the text version of Gary R. Renard’s The End of Reincarnation, to lists of prisoners who have expressed the desire to learn more about the Course. With the text version is a brief essay describing what is referred to as The Five Signs, five mystical experiences during this life which began at the age of three and culminated with the experience described above. This experience led to adopting a practical application of the spiritual discipline taught in A Course in Miracles.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Living in the Bahamas

I wrote the following post two years ago while working in the Bahamas. Today in Michigan it was two degrees when I got up in the morning. But it was sunny all day and as I basked in my sunroom I could not have been happier had I been in a warm clime. From the Bahamas I learned that I'd rather be surrounded by loving friends and family in the cold, than be surrounded by physical beauty and unhappy people.

Have you ever longed to live on the ocean or in the mountains? I always dreamed of living on the ocean, and now am working in the Bahamas, with a house on the water. When I got this job I had a strong feeling that my spiritual growth would be accelerated by meditating on the beach for hours and being awestruck by splendor and beauty.

Well, I’m growing all right, but exactly opposite from what I thought. I’m working at a substance abuse treatment resort, and the staff and client tensions have been enormous. The first week was a honeymoon. I was ecstatic and basked in the phenomenal views. From the second week on, it’s been tough. I can’t stand group dynamics because everyone’s petty egos, including mine, roar with a vengeance. Combine that with addicts just coming off years of being strung out, and it’s not pretty.

And, I’m getting exactly what Spirit knew I needed. Another goal of mine has been to be happy no matter what my circumstances are, and this is the perfect opportunity. I haven’t been able to enjoy the ocean as much as I’d like because I’m so upset with problems.

The other day I decided to be the joy that I AM, no matter what is going on around me. A Course in Miracles says that as the Son of God, we are love, joy and peace itself. Ok, time to step up to the plate. I asked the Holy Spirit for help with a decision, and the Michael Jackson song “Man in the Mirror” popped in my head: “I’m talking ‘bout the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. No message could have been any clearer: if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and make that change.”

Since I decided to be joy, I’m once again enjoying the panoramic vistas of aquamarine water and pink sand beaches. But the ego rears its head daily, and Lorri, small ego self, can’t change. She’s moody, irritable, and a complainer. But my True Self, the Christ Self, is what I AM, and identifying with that is the only thing I need to do. The Course says that “I need do nothing” is a statement of allegiance, a truly undivided loyalty. Believe it for just one instant, and you will accomplish more than is given to a century of contemplation, or of struggle against temptation (T-18.VII.6:7-8). We need do nothing because what we already are is whole, complete and perfect. I AM the joy that I thought I would find outside myself, in my longing to be near the ocean. The ocean cannot give it to me; I have to bring my joy to the ocean.

Being in the Bahamas has taught me this important lesson: that I will only enjoy the “perfect environment” if my heart and mind are at peace. ACIM reads, "A Son of God is happy only when he knows he is with God. That is the only environment in which he will not experience strain, because that is where he belongs." (T-7.XI.2:6-7).

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Personal Growth from

Dear Readers, is the most complete guide to information about Self -Improvement, Personal Growth and Self Help on the Internet. It is designed to be an organized directory, with articles and references to thousands of other Web Sites on the World Wide Web.

I just love the internet! Lorri

Jon Mundy's New Book: Living A Course in Miracles

Jon Mundy was my first Course in Miracles teacher and I've been blessed that he has since become a wonderful personal friend. When I first heard Jon speak about ACIM, I thought, "The Course must really work, because he is one of the most peaceful men I've ever seen." Some time after that, Jon came to our home and sat on our deck. Two bluebirds perched on the railing, within one foot of him. We had St. Francis of Assisi there! Normally the bluebirds, pretty as they were, were always fussing and fighting.

I helped Jon edit his new book, and here is my review for it:

Jon Mundy knows A Course in Miracles backwards and forwards, and was in on its inception, having been friends with scribe Helen Schucman. Jon's writing style is clear and concise and he brings the Course to life with easy-to-relate-to examples. He simplifies tough topics so anyone can comprehend them. Jon is down to earth and you can feel his peaceful, joyous approach to life through his straightforward writing. Newcomers to A Course in Miracles should definitely read Jon's book, as it will save them much time in grasping and applying the Course to their lives. People who have studied the Course for years will also gain many insights and ways to live the Course.

Here is where you can purchase Jon's book:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Book: The Universe is a Dream

I just wrote a review of a most amazing graphic book, The Universe is a Dream, by Alexander Marchand. Alexander uses comics to illustrate the complex thought system of A Course in Miracles in a simple, yet compelling manner. He even makes physics concepts understandable. If you are new to A Course in Miracles, it would be extremely helpful to read this book before you tackle the Course itself.

You can check out Alexander's book and the review here:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Course in Miracles on Health and Nutrition

Here is an article I wrote for CoSozo magazine, Christine Andrew's wonderful publication on alternative wellness. It outlines how A Course in Miracles views health, wellness, and nutritional supplements.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Basic Principles of ACIM: The Wizard of Oz

The following is an excerpt from my book Breaking Free: How Forgiveness and A Course in Miracles Can Set You Free. It is currently being published and will be available soon.

The central teaching of A Course in Miracles is that we are home with God right now, asleep to our true nature and dreaming about life on earth. We are like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, dreaming a horrific nightmare that we are lost and cant find our way home. Like Dorothy, we long for home, also called heaven (or Kansas). Even though Dorothy thinks Oz is a beautiful place, she keeps trying to find her way home. When Dorothy awakens, she finds she is indeed at home with her loved ones. Moment to moment we have the opportunity to click our heels and go home, to choose between love and fear, between the truth that we are still with God or the illusion that we have separated from Him. The Course refers to this as the choice between the egos way of thinking and the Holy Spirits view of the world.
This world, since it is filled with fear, is an illusion, as God creates only love. All problems arise from one error, the mistaken belief that we are separated and alone and that God has abandoned us. This false belief appears to cut us off from our Source, much like a kink in a water hose prevents the source of water from flowing to its destination. We are unable to receive Gods love when there are kinks in our thinking. Forgiveness is the primary tool that opens us to the flow of love and peace. Forgiveness is stressed over and over in ACIM as the main way we find our way back home.
A Course in Miracles states that God is pure Love, and as Love would never create hell or punish his beloved children. Because this earth is a dream, and dream occurrences arent real, no one has ever sinned. However, in the illusion we see ourselves as flawed individuals, guilty of numerous sins. We think ugly thoughts and do ugly things. But that comes from our false self, the ego, and therefore it is not real. The ultimate truth is that only God and Love, which are the same thing, exist. Love is actually another name for God.
We are taught in the Bible that mans sin keeps him from God, so God had to send Jesus to die in atonement. However, ACIM says that Jesus did not die as a sacrificial atonement for mans sins, because God was never angry with us to begin with. Since we have never separated from God, there is no sin to be atoned for. Its all our bad dream. Jesus willingly chose to be crucified to teach us that the body and death are not real. He did not suffer on the cross because He knew He wasnt his body, and his mind was solely identified with God.