≡ Menu

Food and A Course in Miracles

A lot of people ask about ACIM and diet – are we encouraged, as students of the course, to eat a certain way? Avoid certain foods? Do we fast at this or that time of year and so forth? Does A Course in Miracles forbid eating meat?
Tomatoes_ACIM

Garden tomatoes from this past summer . . .

I think those are natural questions amongst seekers in general. Lots of religions have rules and regulations around food. When I was an aspiring Buddhist most of the men and women with whom I sat and studied were vegetarians. It was an extension of compassion – a way of demonstrating kindness to all life. In part because of that model, I was a vegetarian for many years. I have fond memories of those years, particularly  after I met my wife and my cooking really took off. Chrisoula and I had – and still have from time to time – some incredible veggie dishes. Edward Espe Brown’s Zen-inspired cookbooks (especially The Tassajara Bread Book), Deborah Madison’s work, the various texts spiraling out of the Moosewood Collective . . . I still turn to those recipes. When I was Catholic – especially as a child – we refrained from eating meat on Fridays (a point somewhat lost on the fish we sometimes consumed). As I grew older and more committed to Catholicism I did a fair amount of fasting – avoiding meals, limiting what I ate, and sometimes going for many days with only juice. Nor are Buddhism and Catholicism the only traditions where food is regulated in some ways. Jains, Hindus . . . But when we commit to practicing A Course in Miracles, we leave that behind. Well, we leave it behind in the sense that we no longer associate a formal way of eating – of embracing or rejecting a type of food or food preparation – with salvation. The course has a single goal – to heal the mind that believes it is separated from God. Its references to behavior are scant at best. That is because correcting behavior does not necessarily heal the mind, while healing the mind will always affect behavior – though often in surprising ways.
apple_blossoms_ACIM

Our little orchard was prolific this year . . . these were the blossoms in Spring.

The idea that we can be saved – can end our separation from God, can enter Heaven, et cetera – by changing habits of behavior is an old one. But if it were that easy, we wouldn’t need to have religious and spiritual practices. We’d just adopt certain regulations of behavior, set up some punishment/reward system to reinforce the desired behavior, and police one another. That does not lead to inner peace. In truth, it doesn’t really lead to outer peace either. What is helpful is making contact with the part of our minds that believes if we can only tweak the external – get the right partner, or the right spiritual practice, or the right diet, or the right prayer – then we will be happy and never struggle again. But it doesn’t work that way. The separation is an inside job – a problem of thought, not circumstance – and so it has to be addressed internally. What is going on outside is not unrelated but it exists primarily as an effect, not a cause. We can learn from it, sure, but the fundamental shift is still going to be at the level of mind. Thus, you can be a devout meat eater – taking down a meat lover’s pizza every night and a rasher of bacon at breakfast – and be a student of A Course in Miracles. You can also be a vegetarian. Or a vegan. You can be – as Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes once said – a dessertatarian and be a student of the course. There is no right or wrong way to approach food. As Krishnamurti once said, here paraphrased: eat meat or don’t eat meat but get on with it. In other words, the healing the course contemplates has nothing to do with our bodies. We can’t eat or fast or exercise or dance or walk our way to inner peace. It’s all in the mind.
eggs_ACIM

Prize-winning eggs from our flock of layer hens.

That said, it’s important to not be cavalier about the issues that can come up around food. For many of us, it is an area in which we need considerable healing. Forgiveness is always appropriate. If someone is addicted to food in some way, then their practice of the course is going to involve forgiving – seeing with Jesus or the Holy Spirit – that relationship. And that forgiveness – which, remember, happens in the mind – will probably have some effect on the outside. Our practice of A Course in Miracles is deeply personal. The course never looks the same from one student to the next. We are called to heal in very specific ways. I know course students who are very passionate about not eating meat. I respect that. My own practice with food has been to deepen my relationship with it at the level of production – Chrisoula and I (and the kids) grow a tremendous amount of veggies and fruit, raise pigs for meat, chickens for eggs and meat, buy beef from local farmers. We have even kept bees and a goat for milking. I don’t think anybody’s practice of the course has to mimic that – indeed, it probably shouldn’t. But it is neatly tied into forgiveness for me – a kind of simplicity, a kind of self-reliance, a kind of healthy diet. The question is always: does it work? It is it helpful? It is important that we not be bullied into thinking that we have to practice a certain way. A Course in Miracles meets us where we are and helps us move from that place ever closer to inner peace and coherence. In that light, what is “right” for someone in an external way is not going to be right for somebody else. It’s okay to find our way.
apples_ACIM

Apple harvest! Always one of the great joys of homesteading . . .

Ultimately, the course is about changing our minds, where “change” means “heal.” Sometimes that change shows up in the world. Obviously my home and living arrangements look different than other students who aren’t as devoted to homesteading. Obviously, my relationships are in many ways shaded by my family’s commitment to growing, raising and preserving our own food and nurturing a network of like-minded consumers and farmers. But what really matters is the mind in and through which all of this lovingkindness takes place. I  eat and relate to food in the most loving way that I can. If the goal is love – healing the mind – then whatever follows will be helpful.

Note: As this post has been read and commented upon over the years, I have become increasingly sensitive to the importance of respecting the food and eating choices of my brothers and sisters. The course is silent on the subject of what to eat; beyond that, food is like everything else – a means to forgive (that is, to see in a loving and holistic way) the world and all its contents. It is necessary to give attention to life as it arises; it is not necessary to adopt rigorous diets, undergo intense fasts or otherwise attack our bodies.

To that end, be kind to yourself. Remember the guidance of Lesson 294: the body is “of service for a while and fit to serve, to keep its usefulness while it can serve, and then to be replaced for greater good” (W-pII.294.1:11). Don’t endanger yourself or others in the name of spirituality. Eat well; eat in a way that minimizes guilt; eat in a way that extends love to your brothers and sisters. We gain nothing by depriving ourselves of calories, nutrients, water and the simply joys that attend eating. Wherever we are at with respect to food, our eating – the whole gestalt of it, from growing to preparing to eating to composting – is yet a way to remember that together we are Love.

{ 49 comments… add one }
  • princess willow October 15, 2013, 2:33 pm

    what type of dog?

    • Sean Reagan October 15, 2013, 3:27 pm

      Thai Ridgeback mix . . . named Song which is the Thai word for two . . .

  • Mike January 23, 2015, 12:58 am

    Sorry I totally disagree with you. The course in Mirackes is all about love and rejecting all that us violence . Eating meat and all animal products stems from violence, Veganism is the most loving way to live and totally aligned with the teachings of ACIM. You love all, period.

    • Sean Reagan January 23, 2015, 9:22 am

      Thank you for sharing, Mike. It is true that in these bodies we have to make decisions which reflect our understanding of the unconditional Love inherent in A Course in Miracles. Clearly, for you, veganism is a loving decision by which you bring ACIM into application. To that end, I am both appreciative and admiring.

      However, it is important to keep in mind that A Course in Miracles does not dictate specific or particular behaviors for its students. Read and study are about it; beyond that, the application becomes very personal and intimate and it is really impossible to dictate to another what they should “do.” Indeed, to become invested or attached to one form of love or peace, is to confuse form with love. Essentially, by insisting that the body behave in this specific way – celibacy, veganism, vipassana meditation etc. – we are making the body (ours and others) and the world real. There is no right way to live here that will render what is illusory real.

      It is easy to slip into a space of believing that whatever choices with respect to form that we have made ought to be applied by everyone everywhere. I’m honestly kind of baffled that Emily Dickinson isn’t required reading for all people who are devoted to awakening. That instinct – that everyone should behave like us – is tribal and systemic and human. But is not really loving, in the most inclusive and unconditional sense of the word. It is certainly not consistent with ACIM, which so clearly discerns between form and content, and urges us to go beyond the confines of “this” but not “that.”

      So far as the rationale for Veganism as the most loving choice . . . I have never found the moral argument for veganism/vegetarianism especially persuasive, given the hierarchy it imposes on life (a tomato’s life is worth less than a cow’s – that seems the specific opposite of “loving all”). Emerging scientific consensus re: the life of plants and in particular Michael Marder’s work on this subject of consciousness should really give any vegan pause. There isn’t really a moral high ground in the world, Mike!

      Thank you again for sharing, Mike. I appreciate your thoughts & your passion for the choice you have made. Good luck!

      Sean

      • Kimberlee Thomas October 16, 2017, 9:42 am

        Common sense and teaching about the body comes from the divine. There is absolutely sense involved in what we put into our bodies. Our bodies are finite, and will not tolerate chemicals eaten just to prove a point that they are not harmful. The guys in the fiery pit were a rarity, and had little choice in what happened so a miracle happened Eating drano, msg, bad foods, and depending upon something like a miracle when in fact, we need to be prudent, is ridiculous. Blessing our food, when we are eating the only available resource, is a positive things.

      • denise January 2, 2018, 1:59 am

        Hi Sean,
        It seems like a lot of people who support eating animals like to compare eating apples or carrots to eating an animal, as if it is the same thing. Animals are living breathing, feeling, conscious, sentient beings like us. But an apple? Apples are none of these. Apples do not have a brain or a central nervous system therefor not capable of being aware, feeling pain or suffering.

        Animal bodies are illusion just as ours, but they have mind just like us and too and are part of the Sonship, yet mankind is responsible for inflicting the horrific injustice of pain on suffering on our brothers in animal form just to satisfy our taste buds.

        • Sean January 2, 2018, 9:02 am

          Thanks for sharing, Denise. I haven’t read this post in a long time.

          Focusing on central nervous systems – and thus sentience – as the dividing line between what we can eat and what we can’t (or shouldn’t) is anthropormorphic. Yes, a pig is more “like” a human than a tomato is with respect to sentience. But why is “like” a human the standard? Why should the sentience levels of homo sapiens be more important than a tomato? And – importantly – why should the sentience level of a pig be more important than a tomato?

          Plants are intelligent; plants want to survive and reproduce. They communicate with one another. They feed off of – and back into – their local ecology. They are autonomous living beings – put one in your mouth and you end its autonomy and life as surely as when you shoot a pig and bleed it out. To live is to eat the other; and the other never wants to eaten. It, too, wants to live.

          So deciding that plant life is less valuable than organisms with with brains requires one to make a judgment about life that is not ultimately sustainable.

          I think the focus is better placed on the care we take with our food – to be “worthy of our meat,” to paraphrase Wendell Berry. How is it raised, how is it harvested, how much is given back to the earth, how it shared at the table and in the local economy. For example, we raise our own pigs and chicken for meat, and for eggs, we barter for local beef, we have a large – 6,000 square foot – garden for veggies. We have a small apple orchard & raspberry bushes. Our compost operation is enormous and nurtures many local gardens, including our own. Of course not everyone can do this but care can be taken in many ways, at many levels.

          I have no objection to folks who are vegetarian. But I don’t think it is the moral high ground a lot of folks would like it to be.

          In terms of illusion . . . I would not use that word today. I find it one of many that Helen used that is misleading. “Mind” is not really embodied – it is not contained in a brain – and I think it is inaccurate to suppose plants are not also “Mind.” I wrote a bit in that direction here if you are interested.

          Thank you again, Denise. I appreciate your thoughts.

          Sean

        • Don Horrocks January 9, 2018, 9:07 pm

          If I was new to a course in miracles and many were callous meat eaters then I would believe that taking the Acim as not contributing to a better world I chose it because many are vegetarian. There is a lot more in ACIM than food but compassion should be nearly as important as tolerance. I think as a person spurity ally evolves they should become like a Janist or strit vegan because speciesm
          Is done by relatively unconscious souls however we must forgive carnal minded people as Vegans are only 2 % of the world’s population
          I am a vegan for humanitarian, environmental; health and spiritual and karmic reasons. I pray someday people will have compassion on all life including humans trees animals etc

          • Sean January 10, 2018, 3:19 am

            Thank you for sharing, Don. As you know, outside of its directives for doing the daily lessons, the course is mostly silent on the question of behavior – you have to eat this, your sex life has to be that, et cetera – for a good reason. The healing it contemplates is not of the body but the mind. Trying to reverse that – healing the body, then the mind – leads to a lot of confusion.

            As I pointed out earlier, human beings eat in order to survive. And to eat is to end the autonomy and life of something else that is alive, whether it is a pig or a chicken or a tomato. There is literally no way out of this, save to starve oneself to death.

            There is nothing wrong with choosing this or that mode of being that one feels is most resonant with their spiritual values at a given juncture. If being vegan or vegetarian plays that role for someone, then fine. Go for it. But if you are convinced that you are more “spiritually evolved” than folks who made a different choice, then you are still confused about what it means to be human being learning and growing in love. You are still trying to fix the body at the expense of mind. It’s not a crime against nature, but there is a better way.

            It is helpful always to give attention to the distinctions that we make in our lives and to the values we assign those distinctions. Are they sustainable? Are they loving?

            One thing we often learn in that process of giving attention is that we have a tendency to subtly reinforce our separateness and specialness by emphasizing our behavior as spiritually/morally/ethically superior to the behavior of others. This is a form of lovelessness – “I get it and you don’t.”

            When we reach the level of mind – and as I have said elsewhere, the course is only mildly helpful in this regard – the behavioral stuff, including the behavior of others, tends to take care of itself.

            Thanks again for sharing.

            ~ Sean

        • DONALD HORROCKS March 17, 2018, 10:05 am

          Denise I agree totally with you and I left my own comments denouncing animal holocosts occurring on this earth plane
          Do you take the course of miracles like I do. I have great respect for much of the course but spiritualizing away cruelty and violence really trouble me and I can’t understand why Christians are 95 % cruel meat eaters and won’t budge from their positions.
          Is the ACIM flawed like the youtube teacher Mark Passio discusses at length or is it just human egos perverting ACIM not able to discern true love in all its complexities. Do you have any thoughts as I am deeply concerned about this heresy in all ideologies except Janism and buddism

          • Jean Boggs December 1, 2018, 10:00 am

            Donald, I believe that a big reason why 95% of Christians are cruel meat eaters is because the Bible claims that Jesus told his disciples to eat His flesh and drink His blood as a ritual of “Holy Communion.” I doubt very much that Jesus really ever said this. Cannibalism creates a very strong bondage karma. Cannibalism results in guilt which results in addiction until the guilt can be absolved. I believe this was a trick employed by the political establishment to create bondage of the masses to the church establishment. Do you think that Jesus would want his followers to practice cannibalism, even if it is “just in their imagination”? No, I don’t. But I do believe that people in possession of personal power can be very crafty in their duplicity. Anyone with a lick of sense knows that cannibalism is cruel, not divine, unless some authority figure can manage to squeeze it into the Holy Bible and trick people into believing that this idea came from God. This is complete nonsense. In ACIM, Jesus teaches that Holy Communion is communication and is accomplished with the mind, not the body, and certainly NOT by an act of eating something!!!

        • DONALD HORROCKS October 12, 2018, 12:24 am

          Dear Denise
          This subject of violence to animals is a big stumbling block to me. In some ways I think a very consciencious Buddist or Janist is more to be admired than a ACIM student who hurts himself by drinking, Smoking pot for recreation, and killing sentient beings, gambling, etc etc. Yes the course supposedly
          Doesn’t govern behavior but does that give us licence to act irresponsibility and commit hurtful errors that degrade our health and cause suffering to other persons and beings. Isn’t violence part of the ruthless ego control system?
          I agree completely with your answer. Do you go to a ACIM group and are there some vegetarians or Vegans in your group? Does the destruction of our world bother you like it does me?

  • Sarah Newton February 16, 2018, 8:01 am

    I knew from small that there was something up with eating animals and then on and through adult life went through vegetarian stages. However it was upon finding ACIM, and quite early on, that it was crystal to me that animals are part of the sonship and I couldn’t justify eating meat. The whole point of ACIM is to become conscious- it is hard to believe for me, as it’s not my experience, that you can be both a student of ACIM AND eat meat. That’s how it was for me

    • Sean February 16, 2018, 9:13 am

      Thank you for sharing, Sarah.

      Of course one should follow their internal sense of right and wrong. If becoming “conscious” means you don’t eat living animals – but do eat living plants – then okay. As I have pointed out in previous comments and in the post itself, the distinction is largely arbitrary. However, we are embodied and those bodies survive by ending the autonomy of other bodies. If you find drawing the line at animals a helpful division of the so-called sonship, then go for it. But be aware of the inclination to conflate that division with some objective given truth.

      In other words, the problem isn’t eating meat or not eating meat. The problem is the belief that the distinction matters in some absolute and binary way.

      p.s. Along those lines, you might also want to look into the belief that “the whole point of ACIM is to become conscious.” Thanks again for reading & sharing. 🙂

  • DONALD HORROCKS March 17, 2018, 9:36 am

    I try and protect animals from human abuse particularly found in factory farms. As far as I am concerned no human has the right to steal , imprison , torture and muder other beings. These conditions are rampant in commercial farming. Never the less we generally do not require meat. I am a vegan because of compassion towards animals but I receive many health benefits from it.
    I am taking the course of miracles at lesson 75 in 2 separate house groups but it bothers me that you and some others who claim to understand the course and teach it to others have given up compassion towards other beings simply because the course doesn’t explicitly condemn it. I never read in the course yet any indication that murder , rape, adultery, theft, drugs, drunkeNess are undesirable directed towards humans or animals. In our hearts we know that these things are totally unexceptable for those seeking to reunite with God.
    You cannot be offended by my statements if you follow the course and will practice total forgiveness as the course relentlessly talks about.
    Why would you stop being a vegan when you took ACIM. I hope I am not judging you but I am very concerned that ACIM may have error in it. It makes me doubt any religion or philosophy that embraces Christian termonology. Christians comprise Aproximately 95 % meat eaters and any Christians I talk to refuse to show compassion to any animal other than cats and dogs and a few others
    There are 950 thousand species of sentient beings on earth and many more uncatalogged. Human egos are causing extinction of forests and animals and religious people other than Hindus and Janis and Buddists are destroying our planet and inflicting suffering. Suffering is real and I don’t think we can spirituality it away by saying that nothing is real. I think this is a perversion of the course and an excuse to live in carnal pleasures that hurt humanity and maintain the separation we all so badly wish to end forever.
    God wouldn’t want cruel beings who always excuse their actions by perverting forgiveness and continuing to practice cruelty and other atrocities.
    I want an answer why we can’t follow liberation back to God and be moral at the same time. Forgive me please but I need an answer or I will eventually have to denounce all Christian ideologies as part truths. I was hoping serious ACIM students and teachers would encourage compassion as well as good health practices.

    • Sean March 17, 2018, 11:17 am

      Thank you for reading and sharing, Donald.

      We all make judgments about the world and how to live well in it. It is part of the human experience. For you – and other commenters on this post – it makes sense to be vegan/vegetarian. You also believe that that this stance is moral and more in accord with ACIM than eating meat.

      I am happy for folks who are vegan/vegetarian. I have no objection to those for whom it is morally resonant and helpfully facilitates their ongoing learning.

      In ACIM terms, by choosing to eat plants and not animals, you are dividing the sonship along the lines of animals and plants and suggesting that eating one is moral while the other is immoral. One is right and other wrong. In essence, you are suggesting that a chicken has a greater right to life than a tomato, or that a chicken’s life is more valuable than a tomato’s life.

      As a serious grower and eater of both chickens and tomatoes, I think you are confused about this!

      If you are a careful observer of plants, and a student of growing them, then you know that plants, too, live and that when you harvest them, they die. That which enters your mouth has lost its autonomy so that you might continue to enjoy yours.

      Again, it’s okay to draw a distinction – you have to draw it somewhere, by virtue of being a living human being – but pretending that the distinction you’ve drawn is the only moral one isn’t rational. Plants are also part of the so-called sonship! Your life isn’t more valuable than a sunflower’s life, and a pig’s life is not more valuable than a kale plant’s life.

      It’s important to keep in mind that A Course in Miracles has one goal, and that is to introduce you to your inner teacher, which it calls the Holy Spirit. That’s it! It’s not about making you more compassionate or more Christian or more righteous. It’s certainly not about aligning your behavior with some worldly standard (veganism, celibacy, capitalist, christian et cetera).

      When you and your inner teacher are in 1:1 correspondence, then the course will fall away (really, spirituality will fall away), and the work/play and the experience of it will change.

      The conflict that you – and others – experience when reading this post is not about being a vegetarian vs. eating meat. It’s that you believe you can be right in a way that makes Sean wrong.

      There is another way, my friend! The course is not the way, but it can help you find the way by introducing you to a teacher who knows the way (or at least knows the silliness of ways altogether – but that is a different dialogue 🙂 ).

      Again, eat meat or don’t eat meat. But do look deeply into your capacity for judgment and see if you can discern the fundamental lovelessness that inheres in it. If and when you perceive this lovelessness, your inner teacher will literally bound to your side and guide you to a peace that allows – but is not contingent upon – the appearance of right and wrong.

      Good luck with your continued practice of A Course in Miracles. Please feel free to keep in touch if it is helpful or interesting.

      Sean

  • Liz August 13, 2018, 4:30 am

    I’ve been a vegan up until today for one year. I’ve not been having the greatest experience with the Course, most of it has been about realizing the messed up nature of the world. I have been having dreams where I lol at the earth in outer space and a narrator explains things as close up a of genocide, cannibalism etc sort of flash on the screen. I’ve been thinking about this a lot for years, I’ve become a vegan over it, refused to make money, etc. Refused to continue reading the Course because now I’m convinced it’s completely ruined me for life. Anyway what the narrator said was that all the bloodshed, the weird cannibalism on earth is only subjectively horrific based on the idea that the body is sacred. If it’s not real, if it’s just images eating one another in our imagination then it’s actually ironically a testament to our oneness. It’s a distorted image of what we truly are, one. So based on my judgement that the food chain is evil, I made an arbitrary distinction between life forms and projected all that wicked cannibalism on everyone in the world who makes money on a mark up or eats meat. All the little old ladies happily pulling their roast beef out of their ovens became dark symbols of terror for me. Not kidding. So today I decided to eat steaks in order to diffuse the psychological torture, now I feel like a murderer driving around in the middle of the night propelling myself by literally burning the ancient bodies of so many life forms, for no reason. I feel completely insane, and guilty, and actually also started smoking again also. I don’t think being a better ego is going to help me, but I’m not entirely convinced that’s true either. Maybe I will be vegan again tomorrow. Your brother

    • Sean August 13, 2018, 8:11 am

      Thank you for sharing.

      Your vivid description of your anguish and insight reminded me of this passage from the text:

      The roads this world can offer seem to be quite large in number, but the time must come when everyone begins to see how like they are to one another. Men have died on seeing this, because they saw no way except the pathways offered by the world. And learning they led nowhere, lost their hope. And yet this was the time they could have learned their greatest lesson. All must reach this point, and go beyond it. It is true indeed there is no choice at all within the world. But this is not the lesson in itself (T-31.IV.3:3-9).

      It goes on to point out there is a real alternative to the world’s madness but it can’t be found in the world.

      It’s true that if we look deeply into this question of living-as-a-body-in-the-world then we are eventually brought to horror. In order to survive, we have to eat, and whether it is a tomato or a slab of beef, whatever enters our mouth loses – or has already lost in order to enter our mouth – its autonomy. It died that we might live. Murder, not mercy, is the law.

      When I spade the garden, worms die. When I clear forest for pasture, bird nests are destroyed. When I scythe, the blade does not discriminate between grass, snakes, toads and grasshoppers. It kills indiscriminately; the cleared ground is a graveyard, and every corpse is a witness to injustice, cruelty and loss.

      Death abounds.

      Or, at least, the appearance of death abounds.

      There are other ways to see this appearance, and to be in relationship with the appearing. A Course in Miracles is one way; there are others.

      To the extent ACIM nurtures a view that the world is “messed up” it does so only to motivate the student to seek another way of seeing which in turn nurtures another way of being in relationship (which in turn ends the illusion of separation upon which the whole horror show depends for its apparent existence).

      If one is interested in the course, or feels drawn to it in all this apparent strife and hopelessness, then all that can be done is to give attention to the curriculum. We become with all our effort and intention students. Do the lessons, study the material, take a teacher, if and as one presents herself, and see what happens.

      When we see ourselves as bodies, and take the perspective apparently offered by bodies, then inevitably eating meat vs. not eating meat is going to appear to be a valid conflict to which there is a right or wrong answer.

      But if we – with the help of the teacher the course introduces to us – see ourselves as love, or spirit, then the whole dilemma of vegan/carnivore dissolves because its premise – that bodies are real, and so loss and sacrifice are real – no longer stands.

      We are going to suffer until we understand the nature of what causes our suffering, and we are not suffering because we eat meat or don’t eat meat. It is very important to understand this! Taking that distinction seriously is merely a symptom of the real problem, which is our underlying belief in separation as our true reality.

      A Course in Miracles will help you address the underlying problem of a belief system premised on separation as real and thus causative. As this belief system is addressed, its symptoms naturall abate.

      But if we insist on getting worked up about the symptoms – should I eat a cow or not, should I harvest a tomato or not, should I mow with a scythe or not – then we’re never going to get down to the level of the belief system that gives rise to those symptoms. And it is that level that really needs our attention.

      Good luck! And keep in touch, as time and inclination allow.

      Love,
      Sean

  • Jean Boggs November 30, 2018, 3:29 pm

    I have a deep regard for the compassion many vegans show towards animals and for the open-eyed awareness they embrace with regard to the consequences of our food choices on other life forms and our planet. However, when it comes to ACIM, we are taught very clearly that we are not to trust our own judgment or our own logical analysis as to what to DO when it comes to making decisions, which of course, includes food choices. ACIM is not about figuring out which decision is the most loving and making that choice. We are told always to ask the Holy Spirit to decide for us. The Holy Spirit is not our logical, reasoning mind. It is something different. My difficulty for many years, in being a Course student, was in discerning this Voice for God. Which of the many “voices” in my mind was the Voice for God? Was I able to hear it at all? When I was finally able to discern inner guidance, I held it in doubt for a long time because it seemed completely crazy to me. Many of my deeply held judgements, particularly about food, were being smashed to smithereens. In the end, I agree with you, Sean, that being vegetarian is not necessarily more in line with the teaching of ACIM than being a carnivore. It depends on how the Holy Spirit is specifically directing you at each specific moment in time.

    There is one point I disagree with you on, though. I’ve done a great deal of research on breatharianism and have come to the conclusion that it is possible for humans who are living life in the body to be happy and healthy without consuming any food or water for years at a time. Most people would starve to death if they tried this, but never-the-less it is possible and has been accomplished by more people than you might guess. (If you don’t believe me, try watching a video on the Buddha Boy from Nepal who sat in meditation for 6 years without eating or drinking anything not too long ago.) We, as spiritual beings, are sustained by the Love of God. Literally. The Love of God is found Within. Not outside somewhere in some other life form that we need to procure and consume. This is a basic truth in ACIM.

    In my own life, I am still guided by the Holy Spirit to consume food and water. I see physical food as a form of “magic” that helps ease my way while I work to correct my deeply rooted unconscious beliefs.

    • Jean Boggs December 1, 2018, 10:18 am

      If you would like to do some research, some other well-known breatharians are: Victor Truviano, Nassim Haramein, Olga Podorovskaya and Pralad Jani. I’ve tried several times to post links to youtube videos but my posts did not go through. Are links not allowed in your comments section?

      A Course in Miracles, Lesson 135:5
      “Yet it is not the body that can fear, nor be a thing of fear. It has no needs but those which you assign to it.”

      Please feel free to take this lesson to heart and free your mind from long-established beliefs about bodies needing food to survive.

      • Sean December 1, 2018, 10:29 am

        Hi Jean,

        Thank you for sharing.

        Just as the course does not differentiate between eating meat and eating vegetables, it does not differentiate between eating and not eating. There is nothing wrong with feeding one’s body, and there is nothing right with it. There is nothing wrong with breatharianism, and there is nothing right with it. As the course points out, the body is wholly neutral (T-20.VII.4:4), and is useful to the precise extent it facilitates the bringing forth of love, which is the union of all minds as one.

        In the service of uniting [the body] becomes a beautiful lesson in communion, which has value until communion is . . . Use it for truth and you will see it truly (T-8.VII.3:4, 4:6).

        The error comes in at the level of the mind when we choose to emphasize this or that approach to the body as being “right” or “better” or “more spiritual.” If one thinks that being a vegetarian or breatharian is more spiritual than another choice, or more harmonious with A Course in Miracles than another choice, then one is still confused about the course. And that’s okay, but if we’re going to know inner peace and bring forth love, than it’s better to be unconfused.

        Our practice of ACIM is coherent and consistent when we aren’t concerned with the body but simply allow it to be used as a communication device without regard for what is communicated or how. The shift is not in how we use the body but in how we see it.

        Guided by the Holy Spirit, [the body] becomes a means by which the part of the mind you tried to separate from spirit can reach beyond its distortions and return to spirit . . . In this sense, the body does become a temple to God; His Voice abides in it by directing the use to which it is put (T-8.VII.9:4,7).

        Again, the focus is not on the specific action that body takes (eating this, declining to eat altogether) but rather the way in which one perceives (or sees) the body as a gift to God for God’s use in uniting all minds as one. Given that, we naturally move away from egoic or traditional views of the body and towards a holier and more helpful view.

        God is . . . my Source of life, the life within, the air I breathe, the food by which I am sustained, the water which renews and cleanses me (W-pII.222.1:1-2).

        Notice that the shift in thinking in Lesson 222 is not about denying the body (which the course expressly advises against, eg (T-2.IV.3:8-11)) but rather about seeing the way the body helpfully makes clear our unity with God. Breathing and eating aren’t the focus; God is the focus, which is to say, love is the focus.

        As I mentioned in an earlier comment to this post, the course’s use of the word “illusion” can be confusing. It doesn’t mean hallucination; it means a wrong perception or interpretation by our bodily senses.

        You might think of a stage magician sawing a woman in half. Yes, we see a woman cut in half, but in truth a woman is not cut in half. Or you could think of Macbeth. We see Macbeth meet three witches but we know there is no actual Macbeth meeting actual witches in front of us. Or you could think of the sun – it is not actually moving through the sky (the earth is revolving) but to our bodily senses it looks that way.

        Our senses bring forth a world; all the course teaches us to do is to reinterpret that world and our experience of it according to our healed mind. Miracles are the way that our confused perception is healed; through miracles, we “see” more lovingly (that is, all things are seen as love or a call for love). On this view, the body does not disappear; rather, we see it as it is – a neutral means for experiencing and extending the love that is God. So long as the body is helpful for that experience and extension, then it will be here. When it’s not, it won’t be. No worries either way.

        When that shift in thinking is clear – and when stabilizing and sustaining that shift becomes the focus of our ACIM practice – then the question of what to eat (or even whether to eat) is no longer essential. That is the true freedom the course offers us – not the freedom to be right about the body, but the freedom to no longer be contained or otherwise dependent on it for love.

        Thank you again for sharing, Jean.

        Love,
        Sean

        • Jean Boggs December 1, 2018, 11:57 am

          I am not saying that breatharianism is better or more spiritual than eating physical food. What I am saying–and this is straight from the Course–is that bodies (living, human bodies, and yes, this means yours!)–have no requirements, no needs at all, aside from those YOU have assigned to your own body. YOU make the claim that YOU must kill another life form in order to sustain your body and there is no way out of this self-imposed requirement. It’s an out-and-out lie, completely inconsistent with the Course, but this does not seem to concern you. You go on to say, “Our practice of ACIM is coherent and consistent when we aren’t concerned with the body but simply allow it to be used as a communication device without regard for what is communicated or how.” Wow! That’s quite a statement. You are saying that you have no concern for what is communicated? Did you actually mean to say that? So, according to this idea of yours, you can communicate lies all day long and this makes your practice of the Course cohert and consistent?

          You say, “Notice that the shift in thinking in Lesson 222 is not about denying the body (which the course expressly advises against…” You have obviously neglected to do any real investigation into breatharianism. Breatharians do not “deny the body.” They have changed their BELIEFS about the so-called “needs” of their body. They do not need food and they do not desire food. They do not go hungry!!! They are comfortable and satisfied without food. It is not about denial. It is about FREEDOM!!!

  • Jean Boggs December 1, 2018, 6:42 am

    So, Sean, how does it feel to discover that you have invested considerable energy in establishing yourself deeply in the seeking-outside-yourself-for -your-nourishment business while all along the Course was clearly telling you that it is found Within? How does it feel to discover that your justification for your attack on other life forms is quite simply not as rock solid as you thought it was?

  • Jean Boggs December 1, 2018, 1:20 pm

    A little while ago, I posted a music video link with a quote about discovering “who you are.” This link successfully reached the screen. But now I see that it has vanished. Does this mean that you are editing my posts with links to videos? Do you feel that Identity, or “who you are” is not relevant to this discussion? I am wondering why my posts are being edited.

    • Sean December 1, 2018, 2:11 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Jean. Your posts are not being edited! Posts with links (esp. if there is more than one or if they are youtube videos) are probably being caught by the site’s spam filter and deleted. You can always post the names of folks you’d like to recommend and then if I or others want to search them out, we can.

      In terms of your earlier comment about communication, keep in mind that the communication to which the course refers is not “Sean’s” but God’s. When we see the body truly, we see it not as valuable for its own sake but for God to use for communication purpose of gently healing perceptions of separation, dissociation and fragmentation. Keep in mind, too, that our own communication – Sean’s, say, or Jean’s – is either love or a cry for love, and in both instances can be used for healing. That is to say, even if I was lying all day, it would still serve the purpose of healing 🙂 Assuming otherwise – that lies are bad or wrong or hurtful – misunderstands the course’s nontrivial summation that “nothing real can be threatened” and “nothing unreal exists.”

      Love,
      Sean

      • Jean Boggs December 1, 2018, 3:36 pm

        Well, of course, EVERYTHING serves the purpose of healing always and everyting is ALWAYS exactly as it should be in Reality, but as for myself I want to practice the mental clarity necessary for the experience of a happy dream instead of another spoonful of murder and mayhem. It’s a simple choice and one I am free to make. It’s not a question of judging others. It’s my own decision of whether I want Heaven or Hell for myself. If I chose to see myself as living life in an autonomous body that requires me to seek outside myself for my body’s sustenance, I’ve chosen Hell, and that’s definitely not the decision I chose to make.

        • Sean December 1, 2018, 3:47 pm

          Thanks again for sharing, Jean. I appreciate your passion for and commitment to your ACIM practice and your willingness to share it.

          Love,
          Sean

      • Jean Boggs December 1, 2018, 4:10 pm

        You said that my posts are not being edited, except by the spam filter deleting youtube links, and I believed you…but why was my last post deleted? There was no youtube link, just my written response to your 2:11 PM post above.

        I have scrolled up and have noticed that since my recent posts, you have added some cautionary words with a blue backdrop. You don’t say, “Let the Holy Spirit be your guide in deciding whether or not to eat.” No, that’s not your message. You say, “Eat well, eat in a way that minimizes guilt, eat in a way that extends love…” In other words: Eat, eat, eat. Be sure to eat. Approach not-eating with fear, fear, fear and extreme caution.

        Well, what can I say? I’m sure the medical authorities in this country are pleased with your advice.

        Now, what is your advice regarding doing research on breatharianism? Do you also advise extreme caution in this mental exploration?

        • Sean December 1, 2018, 5:41 pm

          Hi Jean,

          Your reply to my earlier post is showing up for me; I’m not sure why you’re seeing it differently. I apologize for any inconvenience.

          With respect to food and eating, I feel I’ve said what I can say. A Course in Miracles neither encourages nor discourages any particular model of eating or not-eating. Students adopt the model that – for them – best facilitates the bringing forth of God as Love, in order that our experience of separation might end in unity. The post and my previous comments lay out my reasoning and textual support.

          That’s my real focus; I’m not qualified to give advice about particular diets (let alone avoiding food and water altogether). The body is part of our experience in the world; and it needs food and water to survive. This is not a problem for me! On the contrary, it has been a wonderful opportunity to continue to learn about love and sharing and kindness and community and joy and all of that. Breatharianism strikes me as yet another way that humans can’t figure out how to just allow the body to be a body, and probably quite a dangerous one. There really is nothing new under the sun.

          But folks can – and will – do what they will. My freezer is full of pork that just a month or so ago was running around happily. They met a violent end and their carcasses are being eaten; I don’t think folks are wrong who want to talk about the morality and ethics of that. What do I know, right?

          I don’t think my approach to A Course in Miracles – or my approach to food for that matter – is for everyone. I try to be humble in my sharing and as honest as possible. Of course I fall short. And even when I don’t fall short, there are still folks for whom I’m clearly a poor companion for this particular path. This is okay! There are no hard feelings.

          Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, Jean.

          Love,
          Sean

          • Jean Boggs December 3, 2018, 8:27 am

            Yes, I see now that you have allowed all of my posts that made it past the spam filter to be viewed without any editing. Thank you for that. The reason I was confused was because the most recent post would be shown on screen briefly, then disappear for several hours, then finally reappear after you had replied to it.

            Thank you for reading and replying to all of the posts in this comments section.

            Your thinking, in regard to breatharianism and ACIM, still remains inconsistent. ACIM states that the body has no needs other than those YOU assign to it. You avoid this fact and repeatedly make the claim that the body needs food and water to survive. There are people, now alive and well, who prove by their example that the Course states a true fact. The human body can indeed survive for years without food and without water. YOU have assigned needs to YOUR body. YOU clearly do not have a breatharian body. This is by YOUR own design. It is YOUR mind that has determined the requirements of YOUR body. You want to generalize and endorse fear with your belief that it is dangerous for other people to assign fewer needs to their body than you have assigned to yours. I see no indication of an eagerness to leave fear behind in an open-minded exploration of previously unknown information. Your fear and your perception of danger seem to be very dear to you, as is your freezer full of carcasses. It’s sad but true (from an egoic point-of-view).

            Have you read David Hoffmeister’s article on nutrition?

            David Hoffmeister ACIM: It is the diet of ego thoughts that seem to fatten or reinforce the self-concept and block awareness of the Christ. Nothing in form is causative. It is not what goes into a mouth which “defiles.” All laws of nutrition are of the ego (read ACIM Workbook Lesson 76). Food, like all the images of the world, is an unreal effect of an unreal “cause.”

            The ego wants the mind to see the split in the world, and dualistic “thought” seems to project a dualistic world. The ego sponsors divisions and categories (i.e. organic/non-organic, good nutrition/bad nutrition, high calorie/low calorie, high fiber/low fiber, high sodium/low sodium). Nutrition is like all magic in that, to the ego, it seems to work – it can seem to produce changes. Yet what is unreal is not capable of “change.” What is the same cannot be different, and what is One cannot have separate parts. The unreal is one error, and only a change of mind brings healing. Nothing in form ever really changes, for all form is the past (see ACIM Workbook lesson 7).

            Release the belief that the past and future are different, and the concept of diet and all “specifics” are released forever. Such is Atonement. Atonement sees that the “separation” never happened, for God and Christ, Cause and Effect are One and can never be divided. Glory to God for the Oneness of Being! Healing is the acceptance of the Correction to the split in the mind. The true workings of the mind are reflected in the following passage from the beginning of ACIM Chapter 21, Reason and Perception:

            Projection makes perception. The world you see is what you gave it, nothing more than that. But though it is no more than that, it is not less. Therefore, to you it is important. It is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition. As a man thinketh, so does he perceive. Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world. Perception is a result and not a cause. T-21.in.1

            The concept of diet, like all false concepts, reflects a belief that something of the world is causative. Yet the Holy Spirit looks not to effects, having judged their “cause” – ego – as unreal. Bring all thoughts of false causation to the Holy Spirit, and instantly they are gone. For only that which comes from God is real. Happily, Christ comes from God, and the “I Am” Presence is real. Rejoice in the truth of our Being: “I am as God created me.” W-94

          • Sean December 3, 2018, 12:09 pm

            It feels a bit like we’re going in circles here, Jean. But what do I know?

            ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

            A Course in Miracles does not mandate right and wrong ways to be in the world. If vegetarianism works, great. If eating meat works, great. Yoga? Celibacy? Farming? All great. To suggest there are modes of behavior which are more closely aligned with course values than other modes – as you are doing by advocating for breatharianism and criticizing meat-eating – is an error.

            By all means pursue a relationship with your body that feels holy and helpful; indeed, you sort of have to do that. But don’t assume that what is holy and helpful for you will be holy or helpful for other students; that’s not how life and A Course in Miracles work. Hence the diversity in form that ACIM students reflect. This is a feature, not a bug!

            In general I agree with the various textual citations you’ve presented – cause is not external and not formal. However, if you follow this logic to its natural conclusion, then you will see that eating/not-eating are the same thing and thus don’t matter. Taking any other approach reifies the body as a central figure in the separation drama. And while that’s neither a sin nor a crime, it does impede our learning and the student/teacher relationship at the heart of the course. Why do that?

            Thank you as always for sharing, Jean. As I said earlier, I feel like we’re going in circles a bit but if it’s helpful then by all means continue. 🙂

            Love,
            Sean

  • Jean Boggs December 3, 2018, 8:53 am

    One more comment. You say, “I try to be humble in my sharing and as honest as possible. Of course I fall short. And even when I don’t fall short, there are still folks for whom I’m clearly a poor companion for this particular path.” I take this a subtle suggestion that you are a poor companion for me and that I would be wise to notice this and move on.

    Not so fast!!! I don’t see it that way at all. You are precisely the right companion for me at this particular juncture of my journey. I’ve been deeply interested in breatharianism for more than a quarter century. I’ve researched it thoroughly. Likewise, I’ve been a sincere Course student for a similar length of time. Yet, despite my egoic desire for the freedom I perceive in being free from a dependence on physical food, I am still being guided by my inner guidance to consume food. I am not talking about being hungry or my body needing food. I’m talking about being guided by Spirit (despite my wishes) to consume food. I have been told by Spirit that I will one day, in the not-too-distant-future, stop consuming food, but for now I am being directed to continue. Why? Because it’s not about food, nor is it about the convenience of not needing food. It’s about Guilt and Fear and Love and Shame and Trust and Communication. And you are an ideal companion for this particular juncture of my journey.

    • Jean Boggs December 3, 2018, 6:44 pm

      In your post at 12:09 PM above, you say, “To suggest there are modes of behavior which are more closely aligned with course values than other modes – as you are doing by advocating for breatharianism and criticizing meat-eating – is an error.”

      No. This is not what I have been doing. I have not been advocating for a mode of behavior. I have been advocating for a BELIEF. I have been criticizing your BELIEF that the body has a need for food and water in order to maintain its life. I have been discussing this BELIEF. ACIM is very much about mind training and this involves beliefs about the body and the mind. Is your body your Master or is your mind your Master? When you say that your body needs food and water in order to survive, you are claiming that your body is your Master, presenting your mind with the dilemma of finding the most loving way to fill your body’s requirements. I understand that this BELIEF is held as an unquestioned fact of life by the vast majority of people on Earth, but that does not make it true and it does not make it a belief that is consistent with the lessons in ACIM. The reason I discuss breatharianism is because most people like to see the evidence in “real life” before they accept a new belief. There is plenty of evidence that the human body can indeed be alive and well for years with no food and no water. The question is: Are you willing to accept that you are indeed “ONLY affected by your thoughts,” as ACIM claims? Or do you want to persist in believing that your body is your Master, with needs that it imposes on you for your mind to find a way to fulfill if you want to maintain your experience of life-as-perceived-through-the-vantage-point-of-a-body? What I am advocating is an expansion of your mind, an exploration of previously unexamined data (the evidence of breatharianism) and a re-examination of your core BELIEFS.

      The mode of behavior that I advocate is the mode of behavior that I practice: admitting that I don’t know how to find my way out of the insanity I have found myself caught up in and turning constantly to the Holy Spirit for guidance and direction.

  • Jean Boggs December 5, 2018, 7:32 am

    I’m not quite finished with my comments! I’d like to make a comment on the “doing” aspect of ACIM. What you DO follows from your beliefs. If you truly believe that a particular action will bring you happiness and freedom, you will do it. ACIM understands this and focuses on assisting us to change our beliefs. The focus is definitely on working with thoughts and beliefs. However, as living beings, we are energy-in-motion (e-motion), and we inevitably take action of some sort. ACIM does not neglect this aspect of life. The Course does NOT say, “Do whatever you feel like. It doesn’t matter what you do.” YOU say, “However, if you follow this logic to its natural conclusion, then you will see that eating/not-eating are the same thing and thus don’t matter.” In terms of a person’s innocence, or worth, or Identity, that’s true. Everyone is already perfect and nothing they do or don’t do can change that. But, most of us are not fully realized spiritual masters. We’ve come to the Course for help in finding our way. And this means help in deciding what to DO. We study the book. We practice the lessons. And we ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. And yes, it does make a difference to our awakening and our salvation whether or not we eat/don’t eat according to our own unique guidance from the Holy Spirit. What we DO does make a difference to our experience of life, and that matters a lot, even if you want to pretend it doesn’t matter to you.

    I have more to say. I was a vegetarian for many years. As a child, I always felt attracted to the pretty colors of fruits and vegetables. Meat didn’t appeal to me but I was required by my parents to eat it. Once I left home, I was very happy to eat as I pleased.

    It was only after learning to listen to guidance from the Holy Spirit that I began to sometimes eat meat again. I found this discouraging, confusing and heart-breaking. I didn’t eat meat because it “didn’t matter.” I ate meat because I was instructed to by my inner guidance and so, therefore, it did matter, even if I could not understand it at the time.

    Why would the Holy Spirit do this to me? Is the Holy Spirit cruel? No. The Holy Spirit’s intention is healing. I had quite a bit of dissociated trauma from my early childhood that needed to surface and be healed. Somehow, eating meat helped me to re-connect with these dissociated traumatized parts of myself so I could begin the healing process. Was this fun? No.
    It was a painful, disturbing, confusing process. And it was a slow process. But I carried on with it simply because I believed in the inner guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    I believe in healing. I believe in salvation. And I believe in Miracles. And, yes, I believe it does matter what you eat/don’t eat. Listen to your own inner guidance and trust the Holy Spirit.

    • Sean December 5, 2018, 8:04 am

      Thanks for sharing, Jean. I don’t disagree with any of this.

      Love,
      Sean

  • Jean Boggs December 5, 2018, 9:07 am

    I went to the supermarket directly after my last post. Guess what I was instructed to purchase? An Oscar Mayer Ham and Cheese loaf of sliced sandwich meat, a jar of
    Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise, a jar of Vlasic pickles, some organic greens and some whole wheat bread.

    Well, my mom never bought whole wheat bread when I was growing up. We had white bread. The only fresh greens she ever bought was iceburg lettuce, and pickles were a rare luxury (which we kids loved) that we only had on those rare occasions when my father did the shopping. But, Oscar Mayer ham and cheese in a sandwich made with Hellmann’s mayonnaise was a staple.

    Do you think I’ve 100% forgiven my culture and our medical/scientific establishments for being so blind?

    I’m working on it.

    So, what do you think the Holy Spirit will direct me to do with my purchases? Eat the stuff?

  • Jean Boggs December 5, 2018, 9:14 am

    I asked the Holy Spirit and got my answer. I am sharing a house with my elderly parents at present. I gave my bag of food to my father, saying, “A free present for you, Dad. If Mom doesn’t like it, tell her she can put it in the garbage!”

  • Jean Boggs December 5, 2018, 10:33 am

    And back to the supermarket I went. This time for two small bottles of Unbe-leaf-able coco-lixir, a blend of: coconut water, cucumber, celery, spinach, lemon, parsley, kale and ginger; and two larger bottles of cherry juice.

    I’m quite happy to enjoy a magic formula of juice today.

    Did you know that some people think that two coconuts held up to a person’s chest resemble boobs? Hence, there is an association between coconut water and breast milk? And cherries are a metaphysical symbol for rebirth? That’s how magic works–images or words that link to our conscious or unconscious beliefs. Now, take Hell man’s mayonnaise…

  • Jean Boggs December 6, 2018, 4:25 am

    Did you mistreat your children, by claiming you knew what was “good for them” when they sat down to eat? Did you give them the same freedom to eat or not eat that you are now advocating for yourself? Or did you use a little “encouragment” to help them swallow what they did not want to swallow?

    How did you introduce your children to the subject of killing animals? I remember when I first learned that the meat I was served to eat was the dead body of a murdered animal. I was horrified. My mother told me I should not be a coward. People needed to kill animals in order to live. It was a fact of life. I should be brave in facing this truth.

    She was teaching me to “bravely” shut down my sensitivity, my compassion, and my honest assessment of life on this Earth. Un-learning this sort of teaching is what the Course is about.

    It is not about morality or self-righteousness. It is about Love. When you love your brother, you don’t callously kill him.

    It’s an unfortunate fact that the vast majority of humans are addicted to “getting” their nourishment not from God, not from Within, but from some other life form. The Course aims to un-do this “getting” concept. Meanwhile, it does not chastise people for making mistakes. It teaches forgiveness and the letting go of guilt.

    Healing the mind does not come from moralistic admonitions to “behave correctly.” Healing comes from the joining of minds and from letting go of guilt. Minds don’t join in a nightmare because each person’s dream is their own separate, unique manifestation. Minds join in Reality, where we all are equal Sons of God, equally forgiven, equally innocent. And Reality is here, right now, in the holy instant.

    All of us need healing. And all of us are healed already, depending on whether you are looking at the dream or the Reality. Healing is awakening from the dream. If awakening right now is too frightening, we are urged to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit as He helps us exchange nightmares for happy dreams, not because happy dreams are “better” or “more real” than nightmares, but only because it’s easier and not so frightening, to awaken from a happy dream.

    A dream is a dream is a dream. A dream of murder is not more untrue than a dream of warm-hearted affection. But awakening does come more easily with happy dreams. And we do want to awaken to our Reality, don’t we? Or do we?

    Maybe not quite yet. Maybe soon?

  • Jean Boggs January 26, 2019, 1:41 pm

    I am reading the Course this morning and have come across this quote and thought I’d share it. I’ve already said what I could about this, I realize that, but maybe a quote would be okay, too.

    “The ego never gives out of abundance, because it was made as a substitute for it. That is why the concept of “getting” arose in the ego’s thought system. Appetites are ” getting” mechanisms, representing the ego’s need to confirm itself. This is as true of body appetites as it is of the so-called “higher ego needs.” Body appetites are not physical in origin. The ego regards the body as its home, and tries to satisfy itself through the body. But the idea that this is possible is a decision of the mind, which has become completely confused about what is really possible.”
    Text, Chapter 4, II, 7:3-9

  • Jim February 7, 2019, 8:38 pm

    I believe Jesus says in the Course, “There is one thing that you have never done; you have not utterly forgotten the body.”

    • Sean February 8, 2019, 3:57 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Jim. Absent textual context or commentary ACIM quotes can float and end up yoked to any number of vantage points. I’ll share some thoughts and if you’d like to respond or clarify, obviously feel free.

      The body is part of our experience of the world – it and the world arise together, the one mutually specifying the other. From the perspective of the body, the body will always appear real and solid and so forth. Same with the world. They are the same thing. It’s not a big deal.

      The challenge inhering in the line you shared is that folks will find themselves craving chocolate or needing to pee or experiencing back pain or getting cancer or eating meat and then think they have to do something about it – in this case, “forget the body.”

      In other words, they will try to forget the context while actually in the context that makes the concept “try to forget” appear so viable. And so they will feel guilty or sad or scared that it doesn’t work. And then other folks come along and – feeling guilty, sad and scared themselves – will carry on about they actually have forgotten their body as a means of projecting their own experience of not-forgetting unto others.

      This is a big problem in the ACIM community – folks berating themselves for taking aspirin and other folks running around claiming to have gone beyond aspirin and headaches and heads . . .

      Trying to do the impossible is what makes people insane. Hence, just make a choice and get on with the real work. As Krishnamurti said, “be a vegetarian or don’t be a vegetarian but get on with it.” The choice between options in the world doesn’t actually doesn’t matter because *they are the same thing. The world and the body are the same construction.

      But so long as one does not see this, then they will continue to fragment, choose this or that fragment as the right or better or more desirable fragment, and subsequently carry on with suffering that attends such confusion. There is, as Bill Thetford said, another way.

      Thus, the really interesting aspect of the line you quoted – and, for me, a significant pointer in terms of that Thetfordian other way – is less a suggestion one should “forget the body” but rather an invitation to ask: “who or what exactly is the ‘you’ who has not forgotten the body?”

      This, of course, moves us close to the domain of folks like Ramana and Nisargadatta and Douglas Harding and Rupert Spira and so forth. I don’t think A Course in Miracles explicitly and consistently invites that question – i.e., who is the one experiencing miracles? Who is the one forgiving? Who is the one who chooses yet again?

      But those questions do underlay the whole project of atonement contemplated by the course. I think that Helen – or Jesus, if you prefer – simply was not able to reach the simplicity and clarity of that juncture. The course remains in my reading a fairly convoluted expression of traditional Christian imagery and mythology, freshman-level Platonic theory, relatively sophisticated Freudianism and – most essentially – a deeply personal and even poetic exploration of Helen and Bill’s early life experience – which was clearly non-trivial – of Christian Science.

      Which is okay! None of that obviates the potential effectiveness of the course material! I have found it remarkably helpful and clarifying. I am deeply grateful to Helen and to Bill and Ken and the various early adopters for their efforts. My own peace and happiness, meager as they are, are in no small part attributable to my ACIM study and reflection, and the teachers who helped guide it.

      But I do think the line you cited is valuable mostly as outlined above – it invites a critical inquiry into self, albeit one that the course as such is poorly positioned to answer. But that too is okay! Sometimes the work is just to get to the better question and then move on as the question – and its emerging answer(s) – direct us.

      I think Eastern spiritual traditions, broadly speaking, have been more accessible and pragmatic in terms of looking at and thinking through questions of who/what is the self and what that means for the experience of living in a world apparently comprised in part of other selves. Hence the popularity of Buddhism and neo-Advaita and so forth. Since what’s true is what works, I’m glad those traditions are available.

      In the western tradition – where I experience residence – questions of self and world have tended to be examined and processed through philosophy and science, specifically biology and physics (though I think mathematicians like George Spencer-Brown and Louis Kauffman are brilliant and insightful). The course nudged me in the direction of writers and thinkers like Derek Parfit, Edmund Husserl, Francisco Varela, Michel Henry, Humberto Maturana and others. These are not easy reads; yet in their work the self and its world are simplified and clarified to a peaceful – even a joyous – degree. Love is real; love is possible; love is our fundament.

      Of course, one is under no obligation – spiritual or otherwise – to tend to those questions, or to those writers, or even to other writers or thinkers or questions. What works? What’s helpful? Those are personal questions we shouldn’t delegate to others. Which is why I could care less what others are eating or drinking or who they sleep with or don’t sleep with and so forth. Getting worked up about that is like thinking characters on a movie screen are going to come off and chase us. But that is not how projection works!

      The secret – which perhaps you know – is that there is actually no problem and thus nothing to be solved (or found or answered or anything). It’s all good, as the kids say.

      But understanding what that actually means – and then becoming fluent and stabilized in one’s understanding – can be the work of a lifetime. In my experience, it’s best to bring some bread and water – and even some spare sandals – for the road. Emmaus is yet anon 🙂

      • Jim February 21, 2019, 9:33 pm

        Hi Sean,
        Thanks for the great reply.
        I mentioned that quote from the Course in the context of vegan diets, breatherarianism (I’ll let my iPhone pick the best spelling) fasting, etc. I remember belonging to a group years ago that eschewed pork but chewed on beef. Also, clams and shellfish were out, and you could only eat fish that had BOTH fins an scales. BTW, you had to go to Church on Saturday (and, no, it wasn’t Jewish). Interestingly, you could drink alcohol ceaselessly, because the OT Bible advocated “strong drink “. Tithes were off the scale with 30 % of your gross income mandatory some years.
        What did accomplish spiritually?
        Absolutely, nothing.
        I give this chair, this table, this hand, this body, all the meaning it has for me, is correct.
        Many of us have struggled on different paths, before we were drawn to the Course.
        However, each one in his own time. No one could tell me back then, that I wasn’t being saved for turning down a lobster tail.
        And, I couldn’t conceive of challenging a vegan in 2019.
        So, my point was that going thru the stages of denying the body certain chemical structures over another good lead to spiritual wheel spinning for some, but might possibly benefit others. (I’ve heard that monks in the Himalayan regions chow down on yak meat, due the the lack of corn fields up there).
        In conclusion, a few paragraphs down, Jesus says, At no single instant does the body exist.
        Then, a little ways more, “I need do nothing.”
        Take care,
        Jim

        • Sean February 26, 2019, 1:22 pm

          [Note: Jim’s comments both refer to T-18.VII, for those who (like me) like textual correlation, (even if it does make us seem a little snobby)]

          Thank you, Jim. That was a clear and helpful comment.

          These sentences speak volumes to me:

          No one could tell me back then, that I wasn’t being saved for turning down a lobster tail.
          And, I couldn’t conceive of challenging a vegan in 2019.

          And yet, clearly, there is still some value in being in dialogue with brothers and sisters around what bodies are, what purpose they serve and so forth. After all, here we are.

          You point out that some of us struggle on others paths en route to the course. True enough! And, it seems to me, some of us struggle a bit while following the course. We might even wander away from it at some point. Who knows?

          My sense is that folks adopt that posture towards the course that helps them the most. Hence, you’ve got vegans like some folks commenting here and you’ve got politically active homesteaders like myself. I don’t think the range speaks to “right” and “wrong,” but rather to the inherent flexibility of the course as a teaching tool.

          Francisco Varela, a biologist I admire and whose work is resonant with the course, as I understand and practice it, used to point out that “what’s true is what works,” which I sometimes amend to “what’s true is what helps.” My hope is always that my writing moves in that direction; certainly your sharing here has, for me.

          Anyway, if you’re ever in my neck of Massachusetts, give a holler. I’ll buy you an illusory cup of coffee, or we can pick a couple apples off the trees and keep talking. 🙂

          Thanks again, Jim.

          Sean

          • Jim Moyer April 15, 2019, 9:24 pm

            Hi Sean,
            Thanks, again, for such great insight. Copy that, on having a dialogue with our diverse brothers and sisters. I thoroughly, enjoy it, for the most part, but I am careful not to let it upset me anymore.
            I devour the James Stewart narrations of the different Course subjects on youtube, and I am fascinated by the choice of photos. At the end of some, there is music performed The Open Heart, and my favorite is Don’t Wanna Fight Anymore. It is on youtube.
            I am in PA but I love MA. I even had my car stolen in Boston.
            I worked for hp and The Foxboro Co., while up there. If you’re a homesteader, my guess is you’re out West near Springfield-Chickopee.
            Would love to stop in when I’m in the area.
            Take care,
            Jim

  • Don May 5, 2019, 7:30 pm

    I love all of you. I followed all the debates about vegans and vegetarians. I still choose to be a vegetarian not for health reasons but only for compassion and trying to set others an example. I think i will explore breatharism and any possible principles in the course about the body, food, special love towards those we value and those we dont value.
    The debate about special love and hate didn’t seem to be brought into the equation about food and our attachment to it.
    I love meat eaters as well as Hitler , Monsanto, child molesters, liars and prostitutes
    I love homosexuals and Donald Trump. I love the Pope and the inquisition. I love Mother Teressa. I love Satarha Guitamma and Jesus. I love my course of miracle teachers who all eat meat. I live the Dali mamma who sometimes eats meat. I love all prisoners and cops and bullies. I love those who murder humans giving them chemotherapy and dangerous drugs. I love Dean and Jeanne. I love Ken Wapnick who I listen to all the time. I love the foundation for inner peace as well as Robert Perry who wrote the new circle of atonement ACIM. I love the vicious debates going on over the ur text and the third edition of DIP ACIM.
    Most of my friends are meat eaters and believe in scientistism. I am a person who constantly searches for truth. The course says we should always question our beliefs. Let’s question all our beliefs and continue to grow. Let’s question God, the course, and any specialism we still have. I love all people, animals, trees, rodents etc. I even love myself sometimes. I am my own worst enemy so how can I judge any of you . We are all wonderful radiant beings trapped in an experiment God allowed us to experiment with.
    I want all of us to return to unity and I believe all of you like myself will find our way back to God. Keep questioning and searching for a better way and never be content at any level we reach spiritually.
    Once again let’s work towards unity and complete love towards each other admitting none of us knows the ultimate answers. An early lesson says I am determined to see and i dont act in my own best interest. The Holy spirit has the answers not my ego!!
    Love Don Horrocks

    • Sean May 6, 2019, 9:32 am

      Thank you for sharing, Don.

      As I point out over and over and over, “ultimate” or “absolute” – and “conclusions” altogether – are foreclosed to us. Thus, a policy of going slowly and not judging seems most helpful and functional. A policy of epistemic humility and personal responsibility seems most helpful and functional. You mention this in your final paragraph.

      Yet in all the paragraphs preceding that, you engage in precisely the judgment we both agree should not be indulged.

      For example, it is only possible to assert that one loves Hitler as proof of one’s unconditional love if they’ve already judged others as judging Hitler as unlovable. Otherwise, the example loses its effect.

      The same with Monsanto, liars, et cetera.

      Indeed, to assert love in this way is to necessarily bring forth judgment, hate, et cetera. Else how do we know it’s love?

      And that is not the unconditional, impersonal love that A Course in Miracles – and related nondual paths – contemplate. Rather, in those traditions and practices, a radical equality and inclusivness is brought forth, a love that does not distinguish the lovable from the unlovable.

      Indeed, that which distinguishes has already left the domain of unconditional love. We are better than that!

      And, again, the problem is not the distinction itself – which arises naturally as a function of our structure – but rather our investment in this or that distinction (eat meat or don’t) as right or wrong, which is always a way of indulging avoidance of love.

      I note here Ramana Maharshi’s observation related to this subject.

      Like the practice of breath control, meditation on the forms of God, repetition of mantras, restriction on food, etc., are but aids for rendering the mind quiescent . . .

      Note the emphasis on diet as a means rather than an end. And then, in response to a question about eating food at all or observing special diets, Ramana says:

      . . . one must be free from the feeling that one is doing them oneself. The feeling that I am doing it is the bondage. It is therefore necessary to consider and find out the method whereby such a feeling can be overcome, instead of doubting as to whether medicine should be administered if one is sick or whether food should be taken if one is hungry.

      Thus, if it is helpful to avoid meat, great. If not, that’s okay, too. Sri Ramana’s implication is clear: Getting hung up on diet is a way of avoiding responsibility for love.

  • Molly June 9, 2019, 2:39 pm

    Thank you so much, Sean. This is really what I needed right now.

    • Sean June 9, 2019, 3:35 pm

      You’re welcome! Thank you for reading 🙂

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.