Urban Tree House of Solitude

I have been given the gift of an urban tree house (2nd floor apartment). Within the upper level is one spirit (me), silent within the sound of the nearby freeway. It doesn\’t spark the yearning like a cave in the Himalayas or a hut in the dense forest. That rent is near $1000 a month, that the first floor garage contains a new Prius, that the urban solitary goes to work as an engineer, seem wholly normal and not very hermit. Why would that person bother with the ethos of solitary?

Because the life is wholly ermetical. Because the tree house is a transition between the realm of pure spirit and the delusion of the world. The solitary retreats into pure spirit for extended periods of time and then carries the consciousness of spirit into the delusion. The world is an illusion, or as I say delusion. Not even my body is real. How do we approach the truth?

A Course in Miracles 1.III.2 says, \”You are the work of God and His work is wholly lovable and wholly loving.\” Usually we look at ourselves and think there must be something wrong because we are not wholly loving. We usually think God made a flawed person. We never say that it is our perception that must be wrong because God cannot have made something unloving or unlovable. If I allow myself to ask the question about my flawed perception, I am on the way to seeing the world as a delusion and not real.

The miracle is a perception shift which corrects my perception error. When I accept the miracle and believe I am love, I am forgiven.

Miracle principle #36 is, \”Miracles are examples of right thinking, aligning your perceptions with truth as God created it.\”

I am willing to let go of everything and live the truth that God made me wholly lovable and wholly loving and that whenever I think otherwise, I have contradicted God and wanted my delusion more than pure spirit. I think about it, ponder it, reflect on it, pray for more letting go.

The perfect axiom is that you too must have been made by God wholly lovable and wholly loving. Part of my practice is to see this in you. ACIM calls that forgiveness.

The forgiven are forgiving and this is what will end the delusion of the world.

I hope I have made some headway in explaining some terminology from ACIM: forgiveness and miracle. I hope I have made some headway in explaining the basic premise of ACIM that the world I see is my insane delusion; and that I have given an opening into consideration that the premise could possibly be true. God really is love and we would not expect love to make a world of fear and suffering. Therefore, it must be my perception that is wrong. The miracle is healing.

The delusion of my body weighs 129.2 this morning (new diet is working). Now, this illusion of a body is going out running. There is a light dusting of new snow. It is 20F. I \”think\” I will be cold for three or four hours while I do my long run so I better bundle up.

The Book of My Heart – a love gospel

\”I love you,\” is the most obvious thing God ever said to me. That it has taken 51 years to hear is incredible.

We all want something out of life. The most useful name for what we want is \”love.\” But usually we don\’t realize that love is what we want and instead spend gobs of time seeking fame, fortune, success, victory. Inside this exterior seeking work is hidden our issues; needs for approval, self-esteem, self-worth, validation. Deeper inside the relatively superficial self layer is our fear. Oh, God, that fear is terrifying. Fear that I am really nothing; or worse than nothing: a worm, a piece of crap or that I am bad. That I might be truly bad terrifies me to see so I turn back to the world and work on my conquests hoping they\’ll hide my badness.

But if I make another choice and keep pondering the fear and what it could be hiding, I\’ll conclude (after months or decades) that it is not true. During my exploration of why I think I am a piece of crap, I am actually healing the infection and draining the pus by opening myself to whatever it is. As it reduces, I see something else. Slowly, I see goodness; mine and everyone else\’s.

At this point, I am free. I find myself off the hook, and I\’ve let everyone else off the hook too. I no longer need any identifying labels: I am a marathoner; I am a Boston Qualifier; I am an Ironman; I am a parent; I am a millionaire. I no longer need conquests to define me or give me an acceptable sense of self.

The only victory I ever needed was the decision to turn inward away from the world and accept my pre-existant intrinsic good.

As I say this, I hear the gufaws of the audience. I stand alone in the spot light held up to ridicule. \”Silly Spirit Flower,\” they say. \”We are not afraid. We already know we are good people. It is you who are so deprived. Quit telling us that our conquests are meaningless illusions, children\’s play acting. Our victories mean alot.\”

Spirit Flower looks into the crowd and finds the one pair of eyes which admits it\’s pain. \”Oh really?\” she says. \”Then why do you feel like a faker? If a marathon medal really meant anything, all my troubles would be over.\”

But I kept dropping the rocks of worldly validation until I finally spent enough time shining light on the fear. I melted its ice and became undaunted. I believed it less and less. Then, the inner good could be discerned, accepted, joined and loved.

All I ever wanted was to love myself; that inner good who is my true identity. My true identity is not window dressing. Sure I still run marathons, but my self love does not depend on how fast I was or even finishing. What ever I do, I do as that inner good. That inner good is my identity. Good is what I am, what I bring, what I give.

Life lived at the level of age group awards is futile.

Life lived as good is eternal.

The Runner\’s Diet

What a great thing it is to go running. What a great thing it is to dream of the glory of finishing marathons. I have no life other than that of the runner. Yes, very deprived. It has mainly been that way for 30 years.I do not train for a marathon and then go back to less after the race is over. I like to think on any given weekend, I could run 26 miles. I do the weekly long run because I want to, not because of some training schedule. The marathon is not something to train for; but something to be. I don\’t just go in marathons. I am them.

My existence as a marathoner is the most difficult thing to explain to anyone; particularly non-runners.

I used to feel guilty for being a runner because I was in such better shape than everyone else; I thought I had somehow stolen health and fitness from the social system. I used to feel ashamed of being a runner because I really am not beneficial for society. I use up resources, expend energy with no tangible benefits to society or production of good, I consume Chinese manufactured shoes and gortex suits. I take up space on the planet, use it resources, contribute nothing and so on.

But now, I no longer feel the guilt or shame. I am just a runner and I have nothing to prove. Nothing to win. Nothing to achieve. The most exciting thing is the finely chiseled abdomen appearing in my mid section as I work diligently on core exercises and weight loss.

In January, in order to support my running, I launched into a weight loss program. I wanted to lose about 3 pounds in time for marathon season. I gave up my precious peanut butter and a couple of other dainties. My weekly weight fluctuation moderated. It used to peak as high as 137 pounds. Post peanut butter, the peaks were in the 134 pound area, but my average weight stabilized at 133 pounds. The weekly fluctuations continued and were maddening.

Last Friday, I met with the trainer at work. She looked at my diet and made some suggestions about shifting away from simple carbohydrates to complex ones; as well as calculating the calories differently. Already, it looks like my weight has lowered and is not ramping up like it has before. Below is a graph. The blue line is the daily weight; with the weekly low occurring on the day after my long run (usually 20 or so miles). The red line is a 7 day rolling average. The yellow line shows the day the transition happened.

Prayer

I started reading \”The Song of Prayer,\” a supplement to A Course in Miracles. Here are a few excerpts:

  • Prayer is the greatest gift with which God blessed His Son at his creation.
  • The love they share is what all prayer will be throughout eternity…
  • In true prayer you hear only the song.
  • The secret of true prayer is to forget the things you think you need.
  • Prayer is a way offered by the Holy Spirit to reach God. It is not merely a question or an entreaty. It cannot succeed until you realize that it asks for nothing. How else could it serve its purpose? It is impossible to pray for idols and hope to reach God. True prayer must avoid the pitfall of asking to entreat. Ask, rather, to receive what is already given; to accept what is already there.
  • Prayer is an offering; a giving up of yourself to be at one with Love. There is nothing to ask because there is nothing left to want. That nothingness becomes the altar of God. It disappears in Him.
  • Prayer is a stepping aside; a letting go, a quiet time of listening and loving. It should not be confused with supplication of any kind, because it is a way of remembering your holiness.
  • One who has realized the goodness of God prays without fear. And one who prays without fear cannot but reach Him.
  • Prayer has no beginning and no end. It is a part of life. But it does change in form, and grow with learning until it reaches its formless state, and fuses into total communication with God. In its asking form it need not, and often does not, make appeal to God, or even involve belief in Him.
  • And prayer is as continual as life. Everyone prays without ceasing.

Such beautiful phrases. They speak to why I am devoted to silent contemplation. I experience the peace of God and listen to the song, asking only for communion.

I also read \”The God Virus\” last night. The God virus is really about the infection of religion into our psyches and lives and encourages investigating the hidden programming of religion, the logic of it and deciding for yourself how you want to live. It is somewhat amazing to see the many control tactics of religion and how similiar they are between all religions including Christianity, eastern religions and Islamic sects.

I know I want to be just a spirit. To be this, I give up attachment to other labels. I reduce the number of labels my ego seeks pride in. I get up in the morning and walk with God. I stop projecting negativity onto others and seek to see only that others are spirit too.

In this process, I take my inventory. I see what I am thinking and see what I can let go of. Yes, I believe there is more to me than a selfish ego. The something more is accessed intuitively or through listening to thoughts that seem non-ego based.

I am in a time of quiet and contemplation. All books give instructions about how you should be. I tend to judge myself to see if I measure up. Since I last finished the text for ACIM, I\’ve let the written words rest. Now, I choose to listen directly to the Spirit for messages about my own spirit-hood. It is time to rest from judgment and let myself be love. It is time to have no opinions about what happens in my daily life but work with Spirit on becoming solely spirit.

On the other hand, my trainer is helping me work on my diet. My daily investigation of what I eat and the proportion of protein to carbs to fat, plus the proportion of complex carbs to simple carbs, is a whole new world for me. My spread sheet has expanded. It is working however as my weekly low is about half a pound lower than last week. I am trying to lose 3 pounds in preparation for marathon season. Perhaps this is also religion.

I did my long run yesterday. I have already run 50 miles this week. Today will be a weight lifting session and a short run: about 10 miles, or maybe only 8. We\’ll see. Now, I need to switch computers and do some work work.

LSD Day

Another Saturday; another long run. The short story: 3:47, about 20 miles.

I started out about 8:20. Rain was on the radar but I thought I might be able to run about an hour before it rained and then endure the rain for awhile. I want my mind to stop balking at little issues like rain. Turns out it was rainy and extremely windy the first lap of 1:20. Then it quit raining. I got warm and dried out. How on earth did that front pass over me without me drowning? It must have just been the first part of the run.

I\’m a wimp. After two hours, two girls passed me wearing long sleeve shirts. I had on a Gore-Tex suit with 3 long sleeve shirts; and wasn\’t sweating.

There is a man in black with a black felt hat walking a pit bull. When I come near, he stops and makes the dog sit at his side. Very nice, but he is sitting in the \”good\” part of the road, so I still look like a scairdy cat dancing around on muddy ruts.

Tall skinny guy, total running body, wearing a totally swell swag jacket from Fairbanks marathon. Shoot….liked it. I don\’t think my big trip to NCM will yield a cool jacket.

Snow and ice are gone so I could use the whole levy. It takes me 41 minutes to get all the way to the end. I did 2 and 3/4 laps. I wasn\’t sure I\’d do a long run today; but was prepared with enough Gu and water just in case. I started out at Gu every 45 minutes, but at 2:11, I thought I was going to die. I took the hint and went to Gu every 30 minutes, and felt tons better. I used about twice as much water as I did a week ago too; much warmer. Started running faster after the Gu too. Why is it that some body parts can murmur at you for over 2 hours; but when you get to 2:45 and you ask them if they want to stop, they are quiet. And don\’t talk again til after the shower, then they want ice!

Coming back, I spent an hour working on my nutrition spread sheet; trying to get the diet adjusted to what the trainer says I should eat. Can\’t believe I\’m following instructions!

Quiet Friday

I got up with the alarm at 3:35. On Fridays, I often set the alarm a little early to have more time for spiritual reflection.

Today, I felt the need to extend the contemplation so I didn\’t go running. I did my free weight/core workout in the living room. This work out can be very Zen, very Chi, if I do it slowly, and mindfully. The core exercises I do are subtle; but over the past 4 months, they have produced visible changes to my abdomen.

Dropping the rocks is what today is about. Letting go and letting God. Not being in control and not judging what He wants for me. I whup myself unmercifully with my thoughts. Today, I cannot. I must rest. In the quiet, I find strength. I find the Voice of Love. I allow the embrace of Love.

It is peace which sustains me. Nothing found outside of it works. I return and return and return. IT, the peace and the silence and the love, is my life, my hope, my joy.

Miracle Principle 2

I got up with the alarm at 3:46 today. I could hear the coffee maker doing its job. I did my spiritual study. I am finishing \”Clarification of Terms\” (part of ACIM) and starting \”Psychotherapy\” (part of ACIM). I meditated. My mind has been very quiet yesterday and today. Inner peace could be this very silence. I have discovered that it is very difficult to let it be.

I went for an hour run. Nothing too remarkable except for the pure enjoyment. I am an adult athlete. I am starting, at the age of 51, to realize that this is the way I want my life to be. I\’ve spent a good deal of my life abusing myself as a failure because I never got married or had some vital role in society. But I wanted to be a long distance runner when I was 13. My desire has always been endurance and longevity; not racing per se. Only now do I see it as the truth of my being; but also neither less than nor more than anyone else\’s path in life.

I have a little notebook where I have decided to write out one of the 50 miracle principles each day and then talk to Jesus about its meaning. Todays principle caused me to fall on my knees.

From A Course in Miracles, miracle principle number two: \”Miracles as such do not matter. The only thing that matters is their Source, Which is far beyond evaluation.\”

Even while running or lifting weights, my concern is for the Christ consciousness. In my desire for endurance through the long distance is my desire to bring forth the sacredness of the spirit which I am (we are). Each run, each stupid 15 pound dumbell lift, gives birth to a sacred holy silent pulse of life and love and recognition of Source.

Plain Running Spirit

Before I went running today, I thought:

Being an athlete or a runner or a marathoner is part of my self concept. Being an athlete comes from my heart, is a core concept which describes a foundational way of living.

Being a marathoner is an external idea with a meaning attached to how others measure me. My BQ (Boston qualification) was not interesting because it was a BQ, that is an external measure. It was interesting in terms of amazement at myself for finishing under 4 hours at the age of 50. But it wasn\’t elation.

In terms of self concept, it is good for me to ask myself what I expect the marathon to do to myself concept that I want. What do I value about the experience or the label? Personally, I pay attention to who I expect to be impressed, because bragging always feels demeaning to me.

Then, I went running. Perfect day. Foggy, levy was bare dirt, temps around freezing, no wind. I shared my run with the company of wild turkeys, geese and a hawk or two, one runner with a dog wearing saddle bags, two walkers and another runner. Miraculously, someone had plowed the big drift. Wonder whose job that is?

As I got started, my mind wandered back to marathoning and the whys regarding why I run or why I run marathons. I know my first foray into running was at the age of 13 when I already wanted some sort of self transcendence in my life and already regarded long distance running as a method. I have had transcendent moments at the end of races. Most notably I had great moments of elation after a painful marathon I ran at the age of 37; and the trail 50k I did on a hot July day (8.5 hours).

I have had moments of elation in the middle of long training runs where some intuitive idea burst into my mind with such amplitude I raised my arms in triumph. I used to kill for ag(age group) awards. But last year, I went home without even collecting 3 of them; and when I moved, none of my plaques moved with me (they ended up in the garbage).

Still and all, I like marathons for their bench mark value. I like them because I do try to throw my heart over the bar when I\’m in the last 6 or so miles. I keep myself in marathon shape all the time; don\’t see any reason to slack off.

During my run today, I decided on Gu every 45 minutes. At my first Gu gobble (in honor of the turkeys), I realized that with 6 packets and two small water bottles in my fanny pack, and a thermos of hot water stashed along the trail for refills, I could stay out there as long as I wanted. This thought gave me a feeling of smug satisfaction: I can run for as long as I want. And therein lies my heart and soul. I\’m far more interested in just plain running than a marathon per se.

I ran nearly 22 miles in 3:51.

A Leaf in the Snow

My running in the morning is usually an extension of the early morning spiritual time. It is usually possible to see the tiny signs that God is behind it all.

This morning, I happened to notice a leaf. It was a somewhat large leaf and well formed. It was stuck upright, plated by its stem in a snow bank. It was located where no person had been and where several inches of snow had melted between yesterday and today. The slight breeze ruffled it.

Was it the hand of God who had secretly and delightfully placed that leaf there; just so I could see it and be reminded of The Wonderful Lover? I get to choose what I want to believe. God is present everywhere but I get to choose to remember and see and thank Him.

Then I went to Mass. Thankfully, the Christmas decorations are gone, replaced with deep green, gold and white. It is somewhat awesome to believe that day after day, this exact same liturgy marches forward.

The Holy Spirit\’s Annual Address

It is the momentous day of the year, time for me to tune in to the Holy Spirit\’s annual STATE OF THE SPIRIT FLOWER address.

{drum roll please} (flourishes and applause)

My Dearest Spirit Flower,

Your core is stronger and more chiseled than ever.
Your endurance is outstanding.
Your vision is superb.
As a Course student, you managed to unlearn a record number of little ego-lessons this year and knock several centuries off the journey home.
Your profession is soaring.

For this coming year, I am pleased to see you are allowing more of God\’s love and care into your life. You are listening to Me deeper and with more committment than ever. I am becoming your reality and we will continue to grow in oneness.

Peace be with you,
The Holy Spirit

Spirit Flower\’s response to the Holy Spirit comes from The Carpenters:

I\’m on the top of the world lookin\’ down on creation

And the only explanation I can find

Is the love that I\’ve found ever since you\’ve been around

Your love\’s put me at the top of the world