On Errors, Prayer and the Holy Spirit’s Presence

There are two ways in which the Holy Spirit – the “great correction principle,” the “inherent power of the vision of Christ” – most helpfully functions.

First, it is given to us through the Holy Spirit to intuit right action in a given situation. This always leads to blessing, and what Tara Singh once called “solutions in which nobody loses.”

Second – when we do not heed that guidance and choose against right action – we are gently reminded of the healing power of forgiveness in which we remember that

God knows what His Son needs before he asks. He is not at all concerned with form, but having given the content it is His Will that it be understood. And that suffices. The form adapts itself to need; the content is unchanging, as eternal as its Creator (C-3.3:2-5).

Let me share an example of this works – is working – in my own life.

I’ve made several avoidable mistakes in the past few days. I am tired, unnaturally busy, and navigating two especially thorny family issues. Do you know those days when you think, Have I made no spiritual progress at all?

I am having a few of those in a row.

When those days are the mode, the directives of the Holy Spirit are clear and simple: remember to eat, remember to walk the dog, take naps if necessary, try and remember to write, don’t make any big decisions and don’t stop listening to my voice.

It’s that last one I always forget first . . .

At work, I involved myself in a dispute that didn’t require any attention from me at all. Nobody invited me! It didn’t concern me. I didn’t know much about it even. And I could hear the Holy Spirit saying, “let it pass. You can let this go.”

But I didn’t. I entered into it. And the worse it got, the deeper I went. I kept thinking I was going to fix something or save something but every time I opened my mouth it was like shoveling coal into a fire everybody else just wanted to douse.

In another instance, I hurt someone I love in much the same way. The Holy Spirit couldn’t have been clearer: “ask if you can do this later. You’re not up for this right now.” But I didn’t listen. I entered into it, unfit and loaded for bear. The predictable result wouldn’t let me sleep.

I never like writing those things, because I’d prefer that people think of me as so deeply spiritual and Christ-aligned that mistakes of any kind just don’t enter into it. Part of the whole ACIM schtick is to to adopt a sort of “always peaceful, always happy” energy and never show another side.

But still. I screw up. I find myself standing outside after midnight, shivering and sad, staring at the moon, and wondering why it is that when the going gets tough is when I most forget to ask Jesus to help me.

Simple prayers can be such a blessing! Last night, in all that cold and brightness, I knelt and simply asked Jesus to lend a hand. I spared him the gory details. God knows. I just asked that those I had alienated and hurt be blessed, and that I be humbled enough to hear again the voice of my beautiful teacher.

Instantly – before I had even risen – I was reminded of a passage in one of Tara Singh’s letters where he talks about his travels. He is passing through a remote Indian village en route to meet a train, and the taxi breaks down. And the driver leaves to find tools to fix it. And Taraji is looking at his watch, and thinking of deadlines, and who he has to meet later, and whether his tickets are refundable. People come by and offer to help for a fee and he can’t decide whether and how to let money into it. It is a very human and very beautiful bit of writing, from a man who truly saw the Christ in all his brothers and sisters.

The wisest among us are not spared the challenges of being human. Sometimes we respond gracefully – inspiringly so – and sometimes we stumble and fall.

There is always a hand there to help us to our feet, dust us off, and steer us gently by the shoulder back onto the path.

Forgiveness is not about begging people to overlook our weakness or the idiotic things we do from time to time – though it is a kindness and sweetness when that happens – but rather understanding that the divine plan is in better hands than ours and can withstand – naturally and perfectly – our apparent ineptitude.

We don’t have to fix the past. We don’t have to make arrangements for the future – ours or anybody else’s. We simply have to return to the space where we can ask both for guidance and the willingness to accept it. When we do, we learn the truth of

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

The Course teaches us that reliance on this truth is never misplaced, and is the essence of true forgiveness.

My holy brother, I would enter into all your relationships, and step between you and your fantasies. Let my relationship to you be real to you, and let me bring reality to your perception of your brothers. They were not created to enable you to hurt yourself through them. They were created to create with you (T-17.III.10:1-4).

There is nothing we do that cannot be undone in Love. There is no action we can take that cannot be rendered helpful and meaningful in God. The Holy Spirit is always there to teach us, in whatever form we can most readily manage, that God is love and therefore we are Love as well.

And so as always, I thank you for reading – for creating with me – and for your forgiveness, too. I thank you for reminding me of the necessity of turning always to God, in all things. In each other, we are aligned with Christ, who walks the same road of atonement we do, and whose Presence is never insufficient to overcome our weakness.

Let me enter in the Name of God, and bring you peace, that you may offer peace to me (T-17.III.10:8).

This is the gift of God: to be given the means to avoid error, and to be given too the means of seeing that error is impossible, which enables us finally to turn towards Heaven together, hand in hand, in Love.

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • zrinka April 26, 2013, 8:26 am

    Only those who are self-aware, can see themselves stumble. Be gentle with yourself:)
    I think that occasional crisis is part of the progress. Any progress for that matter, not only spiritual. The Self-content dies, because there is no will to expand (in further awareness of emptiness). In my experience, process of transformation of self is sometimes more like crying at the Moon, that like Julie Andrews with kids singing The Hills are alive. Although after crying, there always comes singing πŸ™‚ Understanding energy is important, not only for quantum images of Love and Light, but also in our daily basis existence. We sometimes can even exhaust ourselves in desire to love, give and see God, in every moment. And the body/mind can’t take it. We are to much for ourselves. So it becomes sad and disappointing.
    Those who do not share – the seemingly ‘good and bad’ of our Life – with others, aren’t really Helpful. Without sharing beauty, but Wounds also, there is no healing. No love, just a fake image of happiness one creates. I think it’s wonderful (for you and for others) that you are honest and devoted to truth, not images. I always loved and was thankful to those writers-teachers-artists, who shared not only their knowledge -pearls of their (universal) wisdom – but also their personal journey through the Vast ocean while trying to bring those pearls to Light. Always bringing it to Light, it’s a process not a done thing. As Buckminster Fuller said, I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process:) I appreciate personal. When being truly personal, one is the closest one can be to Universal. Seeing light shine on a man’s face is sometimes more healing, that seeing Light only in beautiful words- with no face at all. Be a Light to yourself, dear Sean and thank you πŸ™‚
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6U3aZWxMJ9M

    • Sean Reagan April 26, 2013, 9:25 am

      Thank you so much, Zrinka. You always lift me – and whatever I can say – with your writing. I hope many flowers are blooming for you today in Croatia – (I think you said Croatia) – and thank you again for being here. The kindness is deeply appreciated and – as you know – needed.

      Sean

      • zrinka April 26, 2013, 2:05 pm

        Yes, many flowers are blooming here in Croatia πŸ™‚ After a long winter, spring came in all its strength. So quickly it is happening nowadays that, if you sit under a tree of Buds and close your eyes – just for a moment – you could awaken under a Cherry Tree blossomed. A true story.
        We are all here Together, as One , who is ”out of hopeful green stuff woven” πŸ™‚ Sometimes we give each other a flower, sometimes water, sometimes a song. Always kindness πŸ™‚ Have a beautiful walk with flowers! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk8Y-XxaAog

        • Sean Reagan April 26, 2013, 9:16 pm

          “Always kindness . . . .” I like that. And Whitman to boot. What did we know in the nineteenth century that we’ve forgotten? Or else why do we hold those poets so dear?

          • zrinka April 27, 2013, 8:01 am

            Nineteenth century and, also the beginning of the 20tieth century, were always of interest to me. When I was studying Literature, I did a thesis on that period. So many thoughts, feelings and great discoveries in a relatively short Time. Fascinating. Beauty is Eternal and magnificent Poetry is being created in all times — so what makes poets of this period seem so Beautiful and close to us? Wow, there are many reasons I could think of. If I start writing as I think of it, it could end up being another thesis. So in short -er… I think they are appealing because they are Close to us, like a family – we were born – out of Them (in every way, culturally etc), born into the world /sky which they created, born from the Ground to which they surrendered themselves, only to be ‘called back’ – Home We of Today are a bit like archaeologists. And they are – a Secret – unfolding before us. Somewhere along the way, we realized that we are the secret also, and that we all share the same – House – together. Knowing them is like knowing us. They are the first truly modern people, who lived in a World facing monumental changes that shaped our mental passages of – Today. In a way, they are – us – when we were young. They are sweet and familiar, like our childhood memory. Like an old dream we dreamt, innocent and open-hearted yet invincible, larger than Life. They are full of hope. They are full of ‘that thing with feathers’. It is the flag of their Disposition, ‘out of hopeful green stuff woven’. That is why we love them so much. We Love our Hope. Innocent and invincible πŸ™‚ They always remember us to open our souls- and – Love. With every breath. Always be open to Love. ‘Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door’. Whitman, Dickinson and so many others (I love Rilke)…. πŸ™‚ They are true poets, beautiful souls born with beautiful minds. Nature was still very close to them. They were very aware of Nature and God, in their daily life. Perhaps, that is what we’ve forgotten, as a collective. That is the wound. You can almost feel their soul, it is as if – with their Life – they announced the marriage of soul (higher self) and self, such is their presence. But we are not that bad, on the contrary. Afterall we are their kids πŸ™‚ In Gibrans verses, We are the arrow of their Bow. I believe that a great Creative beauty will soon be (is being) witnessed in the world, it is already blooming in the hearts of people. Like the Cherry tree story. Every men will reveal himself as a poet.

          • Sean Reagan April 27, 2013, 7:40 pm

            It is interesting to think on the one hand that they “remind us of when we were young” and yet we are also “their children.” The Child is father of the Man . . . They moved slower, is one thing I often think – though there were trains, of course – they moved mostly by foot or horse, a very different way of seeing and feeling a landscape (and in Dickinson’s case, bounding a landscape, really – such discipline!). So yes, that proximity to nature and God. I have always perceived Dickinson as a sort of lantern. There are poems – most notably “My life had stood – a Loaded Gun” which I follow – barely – only to be left in some mysterious place from which I can only just find my way back. Yes, a secret unfolding before us . . . very much. Though it unfolded in them too. Is it always perhaps? I am not always sure that Dickinson understood any better than we do what was going on in some of the more vital work she did. But they owned a proximity to the divine that now is mediated, heavily mediated and so – my dear Zrinka – my next question is: how we do recover the Dickinsonian (the Rilkean, if you prefer) proximity?

  • Michael April 26, 2013, 4:36 pm

    “The wisest among us are not spared the challenges of being human.” So true.

    Sometimes I wonder about this spirituality- are we trying to escape the beauty of being human, a beauty which encapsulates and embraces all the ups and downs? Or are we getting to the place where those ups and downs fade to gray, and are held, perhaps knowingly so, or perhaps only found to be so afterwards in our discovery of this truth, within an underlying, loving embrace… I’m striving for the latter, I think, because it brings a freedom to just be an open-ended being, knowing the stumbles will come, and its okay, they will pass (or yield into something greater). I really appreciate your sharing.

    Michael

    • Sean Reagan April 26, 2013, 9:05 pm

      Hey Michael!

      Thank you for writing – I was thinking about you the other day, wondering how the miracles are unfolding in your neck of New England.

      I like a lot what Zrinka said earlier: about crisis being part of the progress, or unfolding, of what is. It’s really only a problem because I’ve decided to see it that way. More and more, I am beginning to see the changeless that lies just beyond my insistence on “my way.” It does suck to hurt people, though. I’d take that part back if I could.

      Thanks for writing & reading – and I’m glad you’re still doing your thing as well. All these little lights of ours are going to add up to something!

      Thanks again –

      Sean

  • claudia April 27, 2013, 7:24 am

    HALLELUJAH! That’s all I could think as I read your first paragraphs, Sean. It gives unspeakable joy to know it is not just me who strings days of dullness together at times, only to awaken a few days later on my knees with an ego hangover. Whew. Onward!

    • Sean Reagan April 27, 2013, 7:15 pm

      We are as one in this!

  • Franco April 27, 2013, 9:25 am

    Thank you for this. I have been struggling for the last two weeks after a sudden “falling out” with a close friend of two years. She just up and bailed on a relationship I thought was strong. We were like brother and sister I thought.

    I immediately forgave her (or so I thought) and asked the Holy Spirit to guide me. I watched the situation from outside myself and yet my mind kept coming back to the experience, the feelings of being abandoned by someone I trusted. Then of course I started to blame myself as well as her……until I found myself pointing fingers in every direction.

    This article brought me back to reality and came at just the right time. Thanks so much for it…….

    • Sean Reagan April 27, 2013, 7:18 pm

      You’re welcome Franco . . . it is so hard sometimes to find balance in those situations. As I said in the post, it seems to always be when I most need to be still and prayerful – turning to God in all things – that I forget. But it’s okay! We learn, we pick up and we keep going . . . Thank you so much for reading, Franco.

  • Eric April 28, 2013, 8:09 am

    Hi Sean,
    As I read your story, I feel that in a lot of ways, I am reading my own story. I started laughing reading about the ACIM schtick of appearing “spiritual”, though I don’t think that is limited to ACIM πŸ™‚

    I remember when I first started reading ACIM, I made an out loud promise to myself. In some ways, it seems kind of strange to make the promise I made, but looking back, it makes sense to me now. I told myself that I would be completely honest with myself on this path. Meaning I wouldn’t fake being at peace when I wasn’t or put on the “spiritual mask” to appear that I was more advanced than I was.

    In some ways, I’ve kept that promise and in other ways, I have faltered. I think I have pretty much kept my promise of honesty when it comes to not putting on the “spiritual mask”, but in a lot of ways, I’m still not being honest with myself.

    I’ve read on the internet people speaking about finding ACIM and everything seems to be going great after the fact. This hasn’t happened for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some absolutely extraordinarily, beautiful experiences, but this path has not been all sunshine and rainbows for me.

    In some ways, it feels as if things have gotten worse and this may be where the self honesty faltering part comes in. As long suppressed thoughts, memories come up, what seemed like not such a big deal on my psyche, now has come to the forefront and must be dealt with. Sometimes, instead of looking at these unconscious thoughts that now have become conscious, I try in many ways to push those thoughts back into the dark corners of my mind. But guess what? It doesn’t work so much any more. πŸ™‚

    And many times, instead of asking for help in this, I find myself trying to come up with my own solutions that often cause some kind of cognitive dissonance. Actions that seemed like no big deal before, often cause a lot of strife in the mind now and yet, I continue to do the action. Strange, somewhere in myself I know that it will cause suffering of some sort, and yet, I continue on with the thinking that it won’t.

    I hear the Holy Spirit’s voice all the time and often times, I’ll think, “thanks for the suggestion….” and then go on and do the opposite. I don’t know how many times I have thought, ” I should have listened.” And when I have listened, I experience the effects of this listening. I feel more calm and at peace.

    I guess that’s what fear does. It convinces me at least, that how can a voice/thought that tells you to make a decision (or not) really be of help to all of this stuff “out there” that needs to be done? The egoic part of the mind says, “Hey, if you really want to be of any help, then go run these errands, or help pay my bills, give me some more money! Tell that person to stop doing that! Tell those people to stop doing that! Tell those people to stop thinking that way!” etc., etc.
    Yet, my own suffering comes from my own projections onto the world. My actions come from my decisions, and my decisions come from the thought system I choose. So in all honesty, how can the Holy Spirit’s Voice giving me guidance not help me? It’s funny how suffering can seem so real, and the Voice that is trying to help one “escape” this suffering seems to be the fantasy.

    When I was a teenager, I saw this horror movie called, “Jacob’s Ladder.” I didn’t realize it then, but upon watching it again, I realized that in some ways, this movie had a spiritual metaphoric message.

    The plot goes something like this. The beginning, there is a fire fight in Vietnam. The main guy is stabbed (or something like that). It appears he is dying. The next scene, we see the main guy working in a mail room. It appears that he lived after all. Yet as the movie goes on, he begins to experience severe hallucinations and starts to see demons everywhere. His chiropractor (guardian angel) listens to the main character’s plight patiently and finally quotes/paraphrases Meister Eckhart and says,

    ” The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won’t let go of life, your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away. But they’re not punishing you,” he said. “They’re freeing your soul. So, if you’re frightened of dying and… you’re holding on, you’ll see devils tearing your life away. But if you’ve made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth.”

    In many ways, I see a parallel in this statement to my own spiritual path. Clinging on to my old ways only causes suffering. Holding on to what deep down, I really want to let go of, causes the angels to seem to be demons.

    There is a passage in the course, where in the earlier versions, Jesus is speaking directly to Helen about her ambiguity of the course. It says,

    “This course has explicitly stated that its goal for you is happiness and peace. Yet you are afraid of it. You have been told again and again that it will make you free, yet you react as if it is trying to imprison you. Most of the time you dismiss it, but you do not dismiss the ego’s thought system. You have seen its results and you still lack faith in it. You must, then, believe that by not learning the course, you are protecting yourself. And you do not realize that it is only your guiltlessness which can protect you.”~ACIM

    There’s a story of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche giving a Buddhist lecture. At the beginning of the lecture he asks how many of the audience members are just beginning their spiritual practice? A lot of hands go up. He says, “Fine. My suggestion for you is to get up, go to the door and get your money back and go home. Don’t start this difficult and terrible process. For once you do, it is very difficult to stop. So my suggestion, is to not start at all, but if you do start, it is best to finish.”

    I think this is how we/I must treat ACIM. It is not something to be toyed around with, experimented with at leisure, to be picked up, put down, and maybe picked up again. It is a path, that once it has begun, must be continued on. We will come to the branch in the road, and we can either procrastinate or continue on. In the beginning, the course tells us that we can elect at a given time what we will learn. Yet, later on in the course, it tells us the reality of this procrastination when it says,

    ” Reason will tell you that there is no middle ground where you can pause uncertainly, waiting to choose between the joy of Heaven and the misery of hell. Until you choose Heaven, you are in hell and misery.”~ACIM

    What I have found about ACIM, is there is no going back. I could throw out all my copies of ACIM and all the paraphernalia that goes along with it, and I could never go back to the way things were. As Rinpoche said, if you start, it is best to finish.

    So how do I/we go about doing that? With one step at a time. With one prayer at a time. With one decision at a time. Hopefully a decision to not only ask for help, but listen to the answer given and act upon that answer instead of just trying to plod along with our own answers and decisions. I find when I do this, this is when I can escape from so much unneeded pain and misery. This is the self honesty I need to work on.

    Eric

    • Sean Reagan April 29, 2013, 7:27 am

      Hey there Eric.

      Yes – that sort of attitude is not limited to ACIM. Point well taken!

      I appreciate that emphasis on honesty. In some ways, I think the fruitfulness of this particular path (for me) is the result of trying – not always successfully, and certainly not always gracefully – to be intensely honest. I was ready to put aside the conventions of religion and the false security of theology in an effort to get at the truth, whatever that means. That sounds grandiose, of course, but I think you know what I mean.

      And yes – absolutely – the path of ACIM has been one of shadow and pain and anguish! more and more I am trying to write about this and be clear about it. I am not opposed to happiness, but the Course asks us to dig deep and raise all the baggage into the light. That is hard work and not always – in fact it is never – fun. This is a serious and rigorous spiritual discipline and you are right – it is managed “one prayer at a time,” “one decision at a time.”

      And I share your conviction: we can’t toy around with this. Yes.

      Thanks, as always, Eric. You lift me, brother!

  • zrinka April 28, 2013, 10:48 am

    How could we recover our proximity to God? I wrote 3 pages long answer to your/our *Quest*ion, containing many beautiful thoughts, ideas unfolding, without apparent end. With so much to say, and so much felt, answer was continuosly delayed – in the thrill of searching for the perfect form. I illustrated my ego, being continuosly built to be dissolved (and then again built to be dissolved), for eternity. What a Story to be lost in, without seeing the obvious happening- Here and Now. Answer is always here. What do I see now?
    Here and Now, I see heartfelt, soulful comments/reactions to your text, by Claudia, Michael, Eric, Franco, me… And I realize, that the anwser I am witnessing Here and Now is – courage – to speak Truth and be together – in Truth. What is not to Love here?
    Look, Sean, how your courage to speak Truth inspired (in others) courage to speak the Truth. How much you gave with your honesty (to shed an indiscriminate Light on yourself) and how much you received. How much we all gave and received.With (always, indiscriminately) accepting our changeable self, our Soul is at peace, free (of guilt and shame or perceived unperfection) and able to share what IT really IS – with others. Truth is our anchor in the ‘dark’ hours of the Day. Truth is what we need to DO – to be with God – to be with with each other.
    This is Heaven on Earth. It is our proximity to each other – recovered. For that, I am thankful to all of us:) Love and thank you all*

    • Sean Reagan April 29, 2013, 7:28 am

      Yes . . .

      Thank you, Zrinka.

      And: gassho . . .

  • Fred Wahlstrom April 28, 2013, 3:25 pm

    Ignoring the right is worse then doing wrong.
    TS

    • Sean Reagan April 29, 2013, 7:30 am

      Thank you Fred . . .

  • Joel April 28, 2013, 4:49 pm

    Moving most! Beautiful thread!

    • Sean Reagan April 29, 2013, 7:30 am

      Thank you Joel. . .

  • mary May 3, 2013, 7:06 am

    hi Sean:

    thank you for sharing your life, i understand failure and forgiveness. If it is any consolation, you help my life so much so truly. My marriage, my childrens’ lives, We are one. I am so glad I met a brother who thinks as i do and who eloquently shares it with me everyday. You make the invisible visible. Simple, right. ( HA HA) constant conversion, constant awakening. Even to speak or write these words lessen their meaning.

    peace and love

    • Sean Reagan May 3, 2013, 7:38 pm

      Thank you so much Mary – kind words are always helpful and welcome! I know what you mean about lessening meaning by talking or writing, but still. I think we’re supposed to try. I’m glad what I do is sometimes helpful and more grateful than you know that you and others are here to read it. It is a mutual creation, truly.

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