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