Chapter 21.II

What a difference. Then (1/8/2011):

And now (1/8/2012):

I felt totally alive this morning. I know this because of the sensitivity; the feeling of one drop of sweat run down the side of your face or down your chest under your bra and around the side of your breast.

When I moved to Texas, I knew I would increase my cross training; so cross training is success, not failure to run. I had a wonderful hard weekend of running. Not surprising that cross training was the better choice for today. I had a 2 hour fast run yesterday afternoon.

See, that first picture is from 1/8/2011. I had spent 7+ hours on a frigid January night (until 2 am) running around a 5k loop until I completed a 50k. The second picture is from 1/8/2012, where I ran a half marathon in Texas and got 2nd place in my age group.

The difference is that the first picture was suffering and the second was joy. But I didn\’t know I was suffering and being hard on myself. I thought I was being amazingly tough and admirable. Really? For what? Well, I didn\’t know what joy is. It really wasn\’t all that fun to spend all night in frozen darkness. But, I spun the story so it sounded heroic.

I have faith in ACIM. ACIM is a different teaching than anything in the denominational realm of religion. So, learning new concepts seems to take time. And I often wonder if I really have accepted Christ vision or decided for God. But I must have made the decision and have faith in the decision, or I wouldn\’t persist in studying something on my own for so many years.

The faith must be fed by a real presence of The Voice for God and Self; or it wouldn\’t be sustainable. An ego would never sustain the study by itself.

The following is quoted from A Course in Miracles Text 21.II, with bold added by me.

2 This is the only thing that you need do for vision, happiness, release from pain and the complete escape from sin, all to be given you. Say only this, but mean it with no reservations, for here the power of salvation lies:

I am responsible for what I see.
I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide upon the goal I would achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked.

Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you. Acknowledge but that you have been mistaken, and all effects of your mistakes will disappear.

3 It is impossible the Son of God be merely driven by events outside of him. It is impossible that happenings that come to him were not his choice. His power of decision is the determiner of every situation in which he seems to find himself by chance or accident. No accident nor chance is possible within the universe as God created it, outside of which is nothing. Suffer, and you decided sin was your goal. Be happy, and you gave the power of decision to Him Who must decide for God for you. This is the little gift you offer to the Holy Spirit, and even this He gives to you to give yourself. For by this gift is given you the power to release your saviour, that he may give salvation unto you.

4 Begrudge not then this little offering. Withhold it, and you keep the world as now you see it. Give it away, and everything you see goes with it. Never was so much given for so little. In the holy instant is this exchange effected and maintained. Here is the world you do not want brought to the one you do. And here the one you do is given you because you want it. Yet for this, the power of your wanting must first be recognized. You must accept its strength, and not its weakness. You must perceive that what is strong enough to make a world can let it go, and can accept correction if it is willing to see that it was wrong.

5 The world you see is but the idle witness that you were right. This witness is insane. You trained it in its testimony, and as it gave it back to you, you listened and convinced yourself that what it saw was true. You did this to yourself. See only this, and you will also see how circular the reasoning on which your “seeing” rests. This was not given you. This was your gift to you and to your brother. Be willing, then, to have it taken from him and be replaced with truth. And as you look upon the change in him, it will be given you to see it in yourself.

6 Perhaps you do not see the need for you to give this little offering. Look closer, then, at what it is. And, very simply, see in it the whole exchange of separation for salvation. All that the ego is, is an idea that it is possible that things could happen to the Son of God without his will; and thus without the Will of his Creator, Whose Will cannot be separate from his own. This is the Son of God’s replacement for his will, a mad revolt against what must forever be. This is the statement that he has the power to make God powerless and so to take it for himself, and leave himself without what God has willed for him. This is the mad idea you have enshrined upon your altars, and which you worship. And anything that threatens this seems to attack your faith, for here is it invested. Think not that you are faithless, for your belief and trust in this is strong indeed.

7 The Holy Spirit can give you faith in holiness and vision to see it easily enough. But you have not left open and unoccupied the altar where the gifts belong. Where they should be, you have set up your idols to something else. This other “will,” which seems to tell you what must happen, you give reality. And what would show you otherwise, must therefore seem unreal. All that is asked of you is to make room for truth. You are not asked to make or do what lies beyond your understanding. All you are asked to do is let it in; only to stop your interference with what will happen of itself; simply to recognize again the presence of what you thought you gave away.

8 Be willing, for an instant, to leave your altars free of what you placed upon them, and what is really there you cannot fail to see. The holy instant is not an instant of creation, but of recognition. For recognition comes of vision and suspended judgement. Then only it is possible to look within and see what must be there, plainly in sight, and wholly independent of inference and judgement. Undoing is not your task, but it is up to you to welcome it or not. Faith and desire go hand in hand, for everyone believes in what he wants.

9 We have already said that wishful thinking is how the ego deals with what it wants, to make it so. There is no better demonstration of the power of wanting, and therefore of faith, to make its goals seem real and possible. Faith in the unreal leads to adjustments of reality to make it fit the goal of madness. The goal of sin induces the perception of a fearful world to justify its purpose. What you desire, you will see. And if its reality is false, you will uphold it by not realizing all the adjustments you have introduced to make it so.

10 When vision is denied, confusion of cause and effect becomes inevitable. The purpose now becomes to keep obscure the cause of the effect, and make effect appear to be a cause. This seeming independence of effect enables it to be regarded as standing by itself, and capable of serving as a cause of the events and feelings its maker thinks it causes. Earlier, we spoke of your desire to create your own Creator, and be father and not son to Him. This is the same desire. The Son is the effect, whose Cause he would deny. And so he seems to be the cause, producing real effects. Nothing can have effects without a cause, and to confuse the two is merely to fail to understand them both.

11 It is as needful that you recognize you made the world you see, as that you recognize that you did not create yourself. They are the same mistake. Nothing created not by your Creator has any influence over you. And if you think what you have made can tell you what you see and feel, and place your faith in its ability to do so, you are denying your Creator and believing that you made yourself. For if you think the world you made has power to make you what it wills, you are confusing Son and Father; effect and Source.

12 The Son’s creations are like his Father’s. Yet in creating them the Son does not delude himself that he is independent of his Source. His union with It is the Source of his creating. Apart from this he has no power to create, and what he makes is meaningless. It changes nothing in creation, depends entirely upon the madness of its maker, and cannot serve to justify the madness. Your brother thinks he made the world with you. Thus he denies creation. With you, he thinks the world he made, made him. Thus he denies he made it.

13 Yet the truth is you and your brother were both created by a loving Father, Who created you together and as one. See what “proves” otherwise, and you deny your whole reality. But grant that everything that seems to stand between you and your brother, keeping you from each other and separate from your Father, you made in secret, and the instant of release has come to you. All its effects are gone, because its source has been uncovered. It is its seeming independence of its source that keeps you prisoner. This is the same mistake as thinking you are independent of the Source by Which you were created, and have never left.


Colleen\’s Fat Ass – Reflection on a Cold January Night

The race, Colleen\’s Fat Ass ultra, began in a house owned by a taxidermist. I ran 28.8 miles, 9 laps, in about 6h50 elapsed time.

Here is my reflection:

Ultra running, for me, is not primarily about speed; not like shorter road races are. Ultra running is completely inexplicable; especially to the non-running public. While some non-runners might say, “Wow, you ran 50 miles. That is awesome.” They actually have no idea what that means or what it feels like or why you did it. The purpose of ultra running, for me, isn’t about a sense of accomplishment or honor or award.

I don’t speak for others, and most other ultra runners are far more accomplished than me. I am barely an ultra runner distance-wise. But in so far as most 50k’s (31 miles) are run on courses much more difficult than a road marathon, that additional 2 or 3 hours and additional challenge to legs muscles, is what turns the run into an ultra for me. Plus the resultant and dramatic physical destruction. Plus the seeming nonsense of the endeavor.

Potential ultra runners think ultra running will solve their sense of boredom with road marathons by adding an additional notch in their belt. For me, the idea germinated and has always grown in a desire to go beyond my rational ego mind by taking the body beyond its training envelope and beyond its logical capability. What I find in this beyond place is almost impossible to have a conversation about. Such conversation always seem to de-generate into a worldly discussion of distance and time and placing and schwag. This degeneration frustrates me because the worldly things mean nothing. However, when I meet another ultra runner, its possible to say nothing but connect on the thought level; where we have an entire sharing of meaning without a word having been spoken. The meaning of ultra running cannot be explained, but it can be shared by connections made beyond words

There is nothing to brag about for me; and that is what my ego hates. In fact, I don’t think I have officially “finished” an ultra in several races. So can I cut to the chase: Why would I value the result of a futile effort so much that I put up with the pain of it over and over? I just spent nearly 7 hours of a cold windy January night jogging in a tiny pool of light, having no idea where I was or where I was going or what for. On the trail, where my legs are far more challenged than on a road, it took me several hours to bring my body to the brink of destruction. The first lap found me lost and confused and angry as twice I lost the trail. I fell down once. I peed in a cold outhouse by choice because I didn’t want to go into the warmer restroom. Each lap I put a mark by my name on the chart.

As time wore on and my body wore down, I lived a very simple and elemental existence. Alone in the dark, my thoughts ranged as follows: I hope I don’t trip this time (I tripped 7 times at the exact same spot over something I never could see, but on the last 2 laps, I used an extra hand held light at that place. I never saw what I tripped over, but didn’t trip on the last 2 laps); I hope I don’t get lost (well after 2 laps, while the pink flags were still my security blanket, I was guided by the landmarks of the footing, various rocks and such); Should I eat my Power Bar now? (too late, it is frozen and I hope I don’t break a tooth trying to bite it); Is it time to pee? (I hate stopping, but oh well, it must be done).

I have NOT thought about the ego’s world: work, co-workers, money, retirement plans, health care plans, Boston qualification, age group awards, why I am not rich or famous or a vowed religious.

I did the journey to the ultra runner’s nether world and the secret of the ineffable. The nonsensical infinite timelessness of the intangible formlessness calls me over and over.

I keep answering the call.

50k Fat Ass – Prelude

Tonight, I am going to a park in Kansas where I hope to run 50k. I don\’t know if I will run 50k. That depends.

I am about to enter a long dark cold night. I am about to go against the grain of my comfort zone. I am about to be antithetical to ordinary society\’s penchant for sloth and gluttony.

Friday night: most of society will be having large dinners, maybe a few alcoholic beverages, maybe watching TV, maybe dealing with the kids, maybe snuggling in a warm bed. Most of society will be immersed in comfort and complacency; slowly dieing in their living rooms mesmerized by TV.

I don\’t like being cold. I don\’t like missing sleep. I don\’t like being shaken out of my routine. This is a fat ass race. That means there is no schwag, no results, no awards, no winners. The ego gets nothing. Basically, ultra-running is about stripping the ego of its control and identity so that you can find out who you are really.

In the night, there is a spot of light from my headlamp, a bit of trail, my water bottle and some gel. I am swathed in fleece and gortex; filled with whatever warmth I can generate from my own existence. I become a bubble of life in a cold dark void. As such, I am reduced to mind, to elemental being-ness; thoughts and feelings and the urge to live. It is a void ripe for negative ego attack. The ego always asks why. It is a journey through darkness to light. It is a practice of endurance, commitment and hope. The spirit never doubts. If I become what I am, Life, then the hope is fulfilled.

There are no illusions in the darkness. It is a nebulous world, an existence of raw oneness. It is either peace or fear, love or hate. I\’m going to be 52 in a few days. I\’ve decided that this is not the year when I will lay down and die.

I get to choose. Choose Life.