Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Talking with Rosemarie LoSasso, Spring 2017

Rosemarie LoSasso worked closely with Kenneth and Gloria Wapnick for decades, editing his books and audios and teaching at the Foundation for A Course in Miracles (www.facim.org) from its earliest days in the 1980s. (You can read more about Rosemarie’s journey here: http://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/a-conversation-with-rosemarie-losasso-foundation-for-a-course-in-miracles.) She continues to share Ken’s mind-healing work and Jesus’ loving message through the regular classes (also streamed online) she teaches at the Foundation http://www.facim.org/temecula-schedule.aspx, drawing on her own forgiveness process. Rosemarie generously agreed to talk with me again recently about practicing the Course in the classroom of our lives, a topic with which she is intimately acquainted. I hope you will find our conversation and her gentle, practical wisdom as helpful in your journey as I have! 

You recently recommended that I revisit A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 70, in which Jesus talks about our need to ask for his help and instructs us to imagine taking his hand as we move through the “clouds of guilt,” within which lie all the special relationships we have tried to use to prove we really exist at God’s expense but it’s not our fault and to substitute for the lack of love we feel within. You said to imagine myself going through the clouds holding Jesus’ hand but also what it would feel like to find myself on the other side of the clouds still holding Jesus’ hand.


I realized I had never really even entertained the possibility of getting to the other side but certainly related to the experience of being “in” the clouds. So I tried again to do the exercise and wasn’t able to imagine myself getting through the clouds but did have a lot of terror coming up and later some sleeping nightmares about mass shootings far too complicated to go into here.


Could you comment on the process implied by the metaphor of going through the clouds of guilt with Jesus which is really everything in the world that we value. And how I want to stay inside the clouds no matter how terrifying because it’s still more terrifying for me to imagine myself outside the clouds, outside the dream, still holding Jesus’ hand. 


Well, do you think that you have ever experienced a holy instant?


Well, I thought I had. I’ve experienced what I think of as the holy instant which is a momentary shift in which I change my mind about feeling victimized by someone.


And how did it feel?


It felt like all the guilt was gone. I felt peaceful, I felt complete. I didn’t need anything to change or be different.


Well there you are.


Yeah. Well, that’s it, huh? But you’re still a body? I guess I think that when I get through the clouds to the other side, I won’t have a body; although I do get a sense when I have those shifts that there’s no “me” involved.


Well, there you are. Your relationship with your body would have changed. There was no preoccupation with your body, just lightness and peacefulness and a sense that everything was OK.


Yes and just a real relief.


There you go, Susan. So you have had it. You don’t even have to imagine what it’s like on the other side of the clouds because you had the experience and you didn’t disappear. And that’s the goal of the Course. It made me think of the section in Chapter 18, Beyond the Body [Text 18 VI.] where Jesus says it’s not a violent escape, just “a quiet melting in.” The purpose of the body has changed from being a place we project our guilt onto which then becomes a problem. When you changed your mind, you changed your purpose. You’re not using Susan the body for the purposes of judgment and attack and specialness.


So your experience was entirely different because there was no guilt. I was going to say could you even imagine what that might be like but you’ve actually had I’m sure more than one experience of being without it. And that felt really good and was such a relief. And the relief is letting go of the investment in believing guilt is real and therefore you deserve to be punished which turns your life and everybody else’s into hell. So that’s all it is, it’s not a big deal. The process is that you begin to regard that experience of the holy instant as your natural self and the other as unnatural.


After a while as that continues you realize it’s just your natural self, within the dream, of course. It’s still a Susan but without the guilt, the specialness, the burden of having to protect yourself and deal with all the attack and nightmares symbolized in your dreams of a mass shooting. So in that holy instant experience, none of that was there. It wasn’t any gigantic, cataclysmic shift, it just happened when you changed your mind even if you weren’t conscious of that decision. So you did have the experience of being beyond the clouds.


I guess I thought of that as the end game, you know? The real world, not the holy instant.


No. That makes time real, it makes the process real. There is a going back and forth from our right mind to wrong mind within the dream, of course. But a foreshadowing of who we are in Heaven—that one Self—you experienced the reflection of that, the Christ self who you truly are. And that’s the goal of the Course that we learn to be like that all the time. On the way there so to speak we have more and more experiences like that as we change the purpose we give to our relationships and the body. So after a while, as I said before, you realize oh, that’s my natural self, that’s what it’s supposed to be. And that’s this whole process of undoing the separation and climbing back up the ladder that the separation led us down. It’s really just regaining our natural self.


I guess the fear that still comes up is just the ego saying if you keep doing this, there’s not going to be a you–you’ll go poof!


Yes. But that’s not what your experience was. So you have to just tell the ego: what do you know? I had this experience and I didn’t go poof. I was just very peaceful, as if a burden had been lifted from me, and I felt very free and light. That’s what Jesus tells us. The ego constantly lies to us. And of course we fall for it. But now that you’ve had the experience when you hear that shrieking of the ego you just have to say wait a minute, I’ve already had the experience and it was lovely and I’d like to have that all the time. The more you realize that’s your natural self, the less you’ll be afraid of it. And as Jesus tries to convince us, what we have made natural—all the pain and the burden of guilt and protecting ourselves and believing we’re going to become ill and die, all the concerns and worries, anxiety and anger—that’s unnatural.


Thank you.


You’re welcome.


A common question that students have that certainly continues to come up for me is can the Course make me feel better? And Ken talked a lot about how practicing the Course will make us feel better, but I think there’s often a misunderstanding about what that means. For me, I have shifts and holy instants as we were just saying where I feel peaceful and free of my neediness and compassionate toward everyone and I don’t mean to downplay that. But so much of the time I still I feel even more unloved and unloving than I felt before I came to the Course. I’m not in that state as much as I used to  be but when I’m in it the ego’s voice still seems so believable telling me that I’m failing and my life has gotten worse, all of the fearful accusations the ego seems to throw at us. I’m becoming more aware of the dynamic but a part of me just wants to feel better and the resistance can still be really hard.


Oh, yeah, there’s no doubt about that, Susan. The intensity of the resistance feels almost like a matter of life and death for us but there are a couple of things I want to say. In general when people ask, will the Course make me feel better, you know, how do you define feeling better? I think for a lot of people who come to the Course it means they believe they won’t have any more problems; their bodies will be OK, the kids will be alright. So what do we mean when we say I want to feel better? As Ken said again and again, we want to use the Course to have a better dream. To still be me, but to have all this anxiety and worry, and all these concerns disappear. And that’s just playing right into the ego’s hands because it keeps the ego thought system alive. I still want to be a body but a happier, healthier body or individual self. But that’s not the purpose of the Course.


So, the problem is ultimately what do you think is wrong if you want to feel better? What’s not right? Can you define what’s wrong? If the answer is always something external, the Course can’t help with that. But the Course can help—and this is what you’re saying, too—with turning us within and looking at the ego thought system which ultimately requires that there be all sorts of calamities going on in our lives and the world that keep us obsessed with individuality, and our attention on the external that needs fixing or healing. And so the Course is telling us no, what needs “fixing or healing” is your belief that there’s something external that’s hurting you and disturbing your peace. That’s where your attention needs to be focused.


Jesus guides us gently toward letting go of that belief by having us first learn that “I am never upset for the reason I think” [Lesson 5] and that “I could see peace instead of this” [Lesson 34]. Practicing these lessons helps us accept that we can be peaceful no matter what’s going on, that nothing external has the power to take away our peace. When we are ready, we will then let go of the belief that there is an external world.


So once the purpose turns inward at looking more closely at the belief system or the thought system we’re holding, then things can feel as if they’re getting worse because it really is an awful thought system in the sense that it requires pain and suffering, and sometimes happiness or times when things are going well. But it requires that we experience devastating loss and defeats and hopelessness to keep that thought system intact. It requires that our attention remain on all sorts of things that are causing us to feel unhappy, distraught, worried, and fearful.


Jesus is saying I want to help you to go inward and realize that you have accepted a thought system into your mind that you’re allowing to govern your life and all your experiences and perceptions. He says the way you do that is to question every value that you hold. What do you treasure, what do you cherish, what do you want more of, and what do you want to go away? To at least call into question everything you value. And then he gives us the criteria to judge them by. If they don’t last, they’re really valueless, and he says you know, there’s another thought system in your mind that you split off from, turned away from, that you can turn back to and find peace. That’s what looking within means.


So things will get worse [in the dream] and we will feel unloving and unloved more in the sense that we’re getting in touch with the thought system we’ve made a big investment in and believed is true. And he tells us the ego means no one well and wants to kill you, so then how could you possibly feel loving or loved when you realize that this is what I’ve allowed to define me and to direct my life? I had no idea it was so brutal, so violent and so negative. So we will go through those periods and not just once because there are layers. You get really deep into that thought system and right in touch with the guilt and what we believe is the unforgivable sin of leaving God and turning away from love. And it doesn’t get much worse than that because the ego has convinced us that there’s no alternative to this or that the alternative is even worse. The ego is saying, yeah, your life is going to be miserable and full of a lot of pain but there’s also something else you could choose that’s even worse because you’re going to be annihilated or spend all of eternity in hell.


That’s the choice the ego leaves us and it’s horrendous when you get to that point. But Jesus is with us tapping us on the shoulder, as Ken said; reminding us I’m here with you and just want you to know that’s a bed of lies. Not one word is true. But you’re convinced it’s true. So Jesus is saying we have to go very slowly with this because we believe it’s true. I know it’s not true, he says, but you don’t know that yet so we’ll take it slowly and we’ll have experiences a little at  a time where you see that maybe it isn’t true because, look, I feel OK. I suspended my judgment for a minute or two and nothing terrible happened—I felt fine. We have those experiences, which is really what the workbook is all about, starting to show us that everything we experience is a lie but there’s something better in its place that is the truth.


And it’s really about not trying to judge where we’re at by how we’re feeling because most of the feelings we identify with—good or bad—are ego feelings, right?


Most of the time, yeah. And that requires tremendous trust (as it says in the Development of Trust section in the Manual for Teachers) that we’ve accepted a different teacher now and are assured that everything is going to turn out fine. In fact it is already fine; we just aren’t experiencing it that way now because something else is interfering with an experience of what’s really true. And so it requires trust that what Jesus and the Holy Spirit are telling us in this Course is really true and we can’t judge where we are. We’ve blinded ourselves so we have to just trust. And there’s nothing in the Course to support what we believe is true, which is that we’re going to lose if we continue on this path. In fact Jesus constantly assures us that we’re going to be indescribably happy and peaceful. Well, that requires a lot of trust because it’s not our experience.


Right. We keep thinking we are somehow in charge or can somehow manage this process when really our only job is to question and admit that we don’t know.


Yes, and Jesus tells us to “resign now as your own teacher” because you have been badly taught.  But that requires a lot of courage and trust.


And practice, practice, practice, as Ken always said.


Yes. To let go of that wanting to control and thinking we do know. So as we go along we do have experiences of looking with Jesus and realizing how painful what we’ve taught ourselves is. And he’s just asking for that little opening, that little willingness to say I’m wrong and I think maybe you’re right.


And even maybe is enough, right?


Sure. I always like the statement that comes in workbook lesson 91 where he’s talking about how very difficult it is for him to convince us to see that it is insanity not to see what is there and to see what is not there instead. And he’s talking about the body and our faith in the body and asks how can this be reversed? He says for you, it is impossible but you are not alone in this. And he goes on to say in that lesson:  “Your efforts, however little they may be, have strong support. If you but realized how great this strength, your doubts would vanish.” [Paragraph 4]


So we just have to begin to let go of our belief that we know what’s going on and our need for control, that’s all he’s asking of us. We don’t have to let go of the whole thing at once, he’s just asking for a little bit of effort now and then. And then as you go along you’re going to get a sense that you’re supported in that more than you could possibly know; possibly experience right now. So that’s where the trust comes in.


Thank you. And that leads perfectly into the next question about the academy class you and Jeff called “Resign as Your Own Teacher: Letting Go of Our Need for Control.” I listen to all of your streamed classes but I was physically present at the Foundation in Temecula for that one and you asked people at the beginning of class as you often do to think about a question. In this case it was what does it really mean to resign as your own teacher, what does that bring up for you?


What it brought up for me was a real sense of panic. The awareness that I still have to manage this increasingly complex list of problems in my life that seem to be accelerating as I get older. And I thought, if Jesus can’t help me in this very challenging illusion of a world that I still have to navigate, then I’m toast. I still have to defend this body and deal with all of this and there was this sense of feeling hypocritical asking him for help when I knew what I really wanted was help in form. It felt like I was in a battle for my life. I felt this war within me over how to reconcile that. Jesus is never going to help me here and I’m supposed to give up my need for control and yet there’s all these problems that don’t have answers–so what do I do?


One thing we can look at in relationship to the thought system that we’ve been following is that it requires that there be a world and a life and an endless list of problems that seem to multiply and get worse as we age and also learn how insoluble some of them are or how complicated the solutions can be; trying to come up with a solution to solve this particular body issue when there’s so much disagreement, for example. So one thing we can do is look at the purpose of this feeling that I have of being inundated and overwhelmed by all the problems that are serious and even life-threatening and that affect my well being physically and financially.


But we can at least call to mind that my anxiety is serving the purpose of keeping me real and the world real and ultimately the ego thought system of sin, guilt, and fear real so that the guilt in the mind gets projected onto the body and results in one problem after another. So you can bring Jesus in on that level to help with the anxiety we feel from all of this because he assures us that no matter what’s going on we could be peaceful and there are no exceptions to that, it includes absolutely everything. No matter what we are going through or suffering, we could be peaceful. I certainly call upon that reminder I don’t know how many times a day when I feel some anxiety from a physical issue or involving somebody in my family who’s in deep trouble and I want to fix them or have the suffering go away. I try to remember that I can do this in a state of peace.


I remember so often Ken saying you could be in Auschwitz and still be peaceful. My situation is not like that, although it can feel like that. It can feel life-threatening and as if I have no control over things. There’s a feeling of oppression that all these things are being done to me and are lined up a hundred deep, one after the other. That’s the feeling that Jesus can help us with. To see how that’s what we signed up for by accepting the ego thought system but he’s here with us now and we can go through all this peacefully.


I was recently working with a financial issue that suddenly came up which was anxiety-provoking for me and I began to think well, I have to figure out what to do about this and all of a sudden I realized that I’m just fixing things up financially, getting my papers in order, for a puppet, a lifeless piece of wood. And that thought jolted me out of the state I was in. But it was a reflection of workbook lesson 34: “I could see peace instead of this.” That’s the form it took for me. That I was like a puppet in a puppet show and this is the act and the scene that we’re doing right now: making financial decisions.


It made it so much easier for me to begin to process all these forms and decisions I had to make. It made it feel more routine, even though on the level of the world and my life situation these were momentous decisions. It gave me that sense that this really has nothing to do with what I really am. I wasn’t doing anything risky but I realized that even in the worst case scenario, I could still be OK. That was a stretch, which it would be for anybody, comparable to a fatal illness. But I could still be peaceful.


And then I also remember Helen Schucman [A Course in Miracles scribe] asking Jesus to help her decide which stores to go to.


Right, and students often bring that up as evidence that Jesus is helping us in the world.


But that wasn’t the point of it, as Ken [who knew her very well for many years] often explained, Helen knew what Jesus was all about but she carried on that way for however many years. I think the decisive point came when she heard Jesus say: “You don’t have to do this anymore.” In other words, the point of asking for that kind of help in the world was that at least she was bringing Jesus into her life. It was superficial but he went along with it as long as that’s all she could accept in her relationship with him. But from Jesus’ perspective, he knew it wouldn’t last and he knew it was her way of keeping him at arm’s length because that’s all she could tolerate at the time. So that was OK. Of course we know that Jesus doesn’t do things in the world; this was Helen’s way of managing his love.


So the point of it wasn’t trying to make her life easier in the world by telling her where to go to buy shoes or green pantyhose, as Ken said; the point was that was all she could tolerate of Jesus’ love in her life, all she could accept at the time. It was all about her defending against his love, not him helping her make her life easier in the world.


It wasn’t giving her the peace that we’re really asking for. It was her frightened mind translating it into some kind of experience that helped her realize Jesus is on my side?


Sure. So the hypocritical feeling I think you’re talking about is the split mind. On the one hand you want to make your life easier and it would be wonderful to have a magical Jesus who will do all these things for us or make decisions or tell us where to go and what doctor to see—all of that. On the one hand we would really like that but on the other as students of this Course we know at least intellectually what we’re all about. That we are trying to protect and defend a self that we made up as a substitute for the self God created and we feel very guilty about that. On the one hand that’s what’s going on and on the other hand we’re attracted to this Course because we know that it’s telling us the truth about us–that we’re protecting ourselves from Love. So the mind is split, with one part wanting to protect the separated self and the other part of the mind containing the reflection of our true self and Love.


It feels hypocritical because we drag Jesus into what we know at least intellectually is a lie and our motivation is not very loving. I want help with my problems so my life gets better. And what does that mean? Part of us knows our lives are a substitute for the life that God created, so we’re trying to defend a lie and pretending we’re doing something else. So it’s painful and a process because our lives here are painful and we’d like help with them. But on the other hand what else is going on in our minds? We’re trying to unlearn that this is our life.


Jesus says in workbook lesson 151 that “your life is not a part of anything you see.” [Paragraph 12] And there are all the times he tells us you’re not a body, you are as God created you. So that’s where the conflict is. A part of us dearly wants to learn and accept that but the other part is competing for our attention and saying no! I’m this individual, I’m significant, I have all these problems, and I want you to help me with them. Then I’ll feel better. And Jesus is saying what’s really going to make you feel better is to let go of the faith you have in the belief that you are a body. [Lesson 91, paragraph 9] That’s going to make you feel really, really good, because it will be lasting.


Thank you, that’s great. And really, at the bottom of that panic is always that we just don’t trust completely and there’s this nagging sense that doing what this Course says is going to make us disappear?


Yes. It’s the belief that loss is real and possible.


And that we did lose by believing the “tiny, mad idea” of separation, and now this individual self, this body, is all we have left?


And Jesus asks us to question that, and asks us why we’re so sure that’s going to happen.


And you’re always asking students in your classes to just sort of question it. And that’s really what this process of undoing guilt is all about?


Right. Asking yourself, why are you so sure that’s going to happen?


And you always also tell people to try to stay with the feelings that come up as you go through this process of questioning a little longer than you’re comfortable with. I’ve been practicing that and finding that the overwhelming feelings of dread and anxiety really don’t have the power I thought they did. They’re not leading me toward devastation; they’re really leading me through it to the other side.


That’s invaluable, to experience those kinds of feelings dissipating after a while so you can see they don’t have the power you thought they had.


It’s counterintuitive and it’s made me realize that all my life I’ve been dodging those kinds of feelings and yet, it works, so it’s been quite revealing.


I know, that’s been my experience, too, my fear that I’ll be consumed by them or something. And that turns out to be a lie. And it’s not that you’re condoning them, it’s not that at all. I think it’s what Jesus means by “looking” within at the ego and not being afraid, as he says in that section in the text “The Fear to Look Within.” [Text 21 IV.] It calls to mind, too, when Jesus tells us: “You are afraid that without the ego, all would be chaos. Yet I assure you that without the ego, all would be love.” [T-15.V.1:6-7]


Right, and we do have these experiences when we’re willing to keep practicing forgiveness. And it is at a deeper level now for me and for a lot of us who’ve been practicing this.


That’s what’s supposed to happen.


And a scarier level, too, sometimes. It’s almost like we can tolerate more fear because we have more trust, even though we don’t know it.


Yeah. And that’s so essential as you go deeper that you also have a deeper sense of trust. There’s that section in the text called the Two Worlds [Chapter 18 IX. paragraph 3] that says that there’s an outside ring of terror. Jesus is calling it terror at that point and that’s just the outside ring. And  as you go deeper he’s still talking about terror and telling Helen you have no idea of the depth of your fear and denial.


Yes, that’s certainly what it often feels like as this process of practicing forgiveness inevitably leads us deeper into, and ultimately through, the underlying fear of ever looking at the ego thought system and our complicity in it, which sort of leads into my next question. In one of the Thursday classes you have at the Foundation that I attended the last time I was out there someone asked about her experience of traumatic childhood memories surfacing more as she practices the Course and I’ve certainly experienced that more and more recently. Memories arising of things that I hadn’t remembered maybe that might have been repressed, or maybe they’re not even real, which on some level they’re really not. But maybe that can be a part of the process of deeper undoing that’s going on as we practice forgiveness?


I think so, mainly as we’re working with forgiveness in the present. Ken used to talk about this grab bag of guilt in which there are things from childhood, traumatic experiences, and how we use those in the present. In the present there’s a need to reassure ourselves as egos that guilt is real, but there’s also the opposite need that we embrace as Course students to accept that guilt is not real, it’s totally made up. So sometimes it’s a right-minded thing that something from way back in childhood comes up. Not so that you can heal the childhood experience but so you can let go of it in the present.


It’s working itself into your experience in the present because of a decision you’re making to look at everything that’s interfering with your awareness of love’s presence and you suddenly flash back to some horrible experience you had as a child and then you realize I can treat this in one of two ways. One of which I can use to limit me with the belief that I am physically or emotionally handicapped in this way because of what happened to me or I have this fear or that fear that greatly limits what I allow myself to do in my life right now. So that would be the ego’s use of it, why it’s coming up now, that there’s a need to reinforce the belief in my limitations, the validity of the ego thought system. So I use that experience to justify it.


But I could also do the opposite and realize that it’s the part of the script I wrote from a wrong-minded perspective to keep making my body real and allowing my body and its experiences to define me. It reinforces my belief in a separate, limited body, but it wasn’t my fault. I was just a kid. But I could still also learn that that’s part of what’s made up, too. When I realize the purpose of it is to keep my individual self real and that I’m willing to pay a painful price, I can then ask from a right-minded point of view what does that have to do with me now?


You don’t deny it happened but you question the commitment you’ve made to the belief that you are limited by bodily experiences in time and space, that linear time is real, and that the cause of your present experiences is rooted in a past that can’t be changed, leaving you a victim. All of that comes to the surface to be questioned. You don’t have to relive the experiences or go through analysis. Although there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not the purpose of bringing those memories to mind. The purpose is to help us realize again which thought system we have accepted into our minds to teach us who we are and how we should act and interact and what our fate is, and then deny responsibility for it.


It can have a very positive side to it and I think it does happen to a lot of people and possibly—probably—because we’re ready to look at it. It was kept repressed because it was too overwhelming to think about it and we were constantly defending against it. So as we work with workbook lessons like 153, “In my defenselessness my safety lies,” we find we don’t need our defenses the way we used to. And one of our defenses against the acceptance of love in the present is our painful past. When that comes up it just seems to cause everything else to stop right then and there. It’s an interference caused by a decision I’m making in the present to halt this process of getting closer to love and undoing the belief in separation. So low and behold, I have an experience which fulfills that purpose.


Thank you, Rosemarie. That has been my experience, too, that it can be a very healing thing, and really no different than someone in my current dream seeming to cause me a problem. The purpose and the practice is the same.


Right. And it can be very liberating and freeing and not a painful experience.


Yes, a relief that you’re letting some guilt go that you didn’t even know was there.


I know, I’ve had that experience. Even things in my past that I thought I had let go of and all of a sudden I wake up and realize that’s still there, I’m not quite done with it. There’s just a little more to let go. But realizing it’s a decision in the present to make guilt real, to make the body real, and I can give it a different purpose.


Yes, thank you so much. I have talked to you a little bit about how stuck I’ve felt in my fiction writing, which I had a very conflicted special relationship with years ago and stopped doing for a long time. But I’ve recently tentatively started writing again because I have some ideas and characters that keep coming up, and yet I keep experiencing this recurring block. I feel embarrassed to ask Jesus for help, much like that previous question about feeling like a hypocrite asking him for help in any particular form in this imaginary world. So then I end up kind of half asking and then apologizing for it and then thinking well, maybe this wanting to write but struggling with it is just part of my script. Maybe I just have to accept that I misused writing in another lifetime or something and my fate is just to fail at this and I should just leave Jesus out of it altogether. I just wonder if there’s any advice you have around working with our inner teacher over this kind of conflict?


I think I understand what you’re saying and I wouldn’t stop bringing those things to him and asking for help. But I think also what happens as we move on with this Course and why this has become such an issue for you is that you have been moving along with the process and there’s still such a conflict of right- or wrong-minded choices. In my experience as I choose against the ego more and more I seem to get ideas or something that solve the problem or make things easier for me. And I know Ken has talked about this, too, that when you’re right-minded, going through your day is really effortless. So that part of the heaviness in our life, what we experience as the burden of all these problems that come up that we want Jesus to fix for us, is the need coming from our guilt to punish ourselves, to hurt ourselves; that we don’t deserve to be happy or free.


And so as we let go of more guilt through letting go of judgment and specialness, that need from the ego thought system to have our lives be burdened, the obsession with believing that it’s all these hard-to-solve problems and the world is our “jailer,” as Jesus says, diminishes drastically. We don’t need to use the world or our bodies that way and we don’t have to have pain in our lives because we feel so guilty and have to have those bargaining chips with God so he won’t be so hard on us because our need to keep our true self from our awareness has changed.


So when we’re in our right mind, without the conflicting need to keep ourselves in prison and to punish ourselves, I have heard Ken say and it certainly has been my experience that ideas will simply pop into my head and I see, oh, that’s what I can do. Things do become easier in that sense. It’s not magical. There’s no angel or anything saying, hey, I’ve got a solution for you—write this down. It just begins to flow a little more. It’s not that you don’t have decisions, sometimes tough decisions to make in your life for your spouse or your family or your writing but something changes in how you get to the solutions and they just come all of a sudden.


It’s so hard for us to really know what’s going on here because we’re not in touch with our minds most of the time and we kind of try to back into it. We realize, oh, I must be a mind. Because by practicing telling ourselves that if I hadn’t chosen this [reaction] I couldn’t experience it, we’re getting more and more in touch with functioning as a mind. So our experience would have to change and I think that’s one way in which it does change. The need to punish ourselves and make our lives overly difficult diminishes and things do get a little easier. Not in terms of the things we still have to do or deal with and the decisions we still have to make but the quality of the experience changes. I don’t know if that answers you.


It does and I have begun to experience more awareness that I could just let the writing process flow and not have to judge myself all the time about whether  it is doing so in the time I set aside this morning to write or not. When I do that it does seem to start to flow again, just not necessarily when I want it to. But I am beginning to realize I don’t have to measure my self-worth by that and I think that’s where the problem has always been. That I’ve use it to sort of bludgeon myself over whether I will be accepted or rejected by the world, when really, what I have always enjoyed most is the process of meeting, experiencing, and writing the stories of these fictional characters that come from some part of me. So thank you.

The final question—and I plan to ask Jeff [fellow FACIM teacher Jeff Seibert) about this also when I interview him–is about how Ken used to talk about making the purpose of all our relationships healing our mind by learning to see the only real need we share: our common interest in finding our way home. And in several of his workshops, notably the wonderful The Community of Love https://bookstore.facim.org/p-342-the-community-of-love.aspx, he uses the Foundation for A Course in Miracles  as an example of an organization that put that purpose at its forefront, and likened it to running and participating in an orchestra. As someone who was working at the Foundation from its earliest days, I wonder if you could explain that analogy to people unfamiliar with it and give us a sense of what that meant for you as someone working within the Foundation as part of that “orchestra”?


Well, I’ll try to be brief because I could go on and on about it. But the essence is that in an orchestra every single instrument and player is essential. Sure there’s a conductor and there are soloists, but they have to blend in with the orchestra. That was what Ken was teaching us—that no one instrument is more important than another. We need every single one of them for the orchestra to make beautiful music. In practice that meant that whether you’re mopping floors or mowing the lawn or changing the sheets on the bed or teaching or writing a book, it doesn’t make any difference. One role is not more important than another.


That was a beautiful lesson but very difficult to live. I know we all had a problem with it because of what comes up when you allow that shift in your perception to occur. This was at Roscoe where we had residential facilities where people came for a week or two or a weekend. There was a kitchen and staff people were involved in preparing and serving meals and cleaning up afterwards; maintaining the grounds and the rooms and the buildings. There were a lot of different roles but Ken was teaching us that one was not more significant or valuable than another. So for creatures of specialness, that’s horrible. There’s such a clash and conflict coming from the world’s perception of roles.


So the specialness of the ego thought system—the comparisons and the rivalries—was deeply challenged. To say that we’re all the same in terms of our value to the Foundation was extremely difficult but so welcome because we didn’t have to compete. But then you still had to deal with the ego within that says, really? That person who is cutting the grass is as valuable as Ken who is teaching the class? Ken was always saying there’s no difference because that’s form. So it was the beginning of learning the difference between form and content, that shift that we all had to make. And Ken stressed so often that there will be no Foundation–it will derail–if we don’t learn this.


From the start we were asked to ask ourselves why am I here at the Foundation. Ken was saying you’re here to accept the Atonement for yourself. We all have the same purpose—that’s what this Foundation is all about. It’s not to do important things in the world or spread the word or get more and more people to come to the Course or Foundation—it has nothing to do with that. Of course we were working and presenting workshops and teaching and helping people, but he always said that’s really not why you’re here. It’s just within that framework that you’re learning how to accept the Atonement for yourself, that’s all you’re really doing.


So, just as there are many instruments in an orchestra there are also many roles and talents people have within the Foundation, but they’re only differences in form. Ken would talk about the Song of Prayer pamphlet where it says the notes are nothing, it’s the song that you want and that’s what makes us all one. That was our real and only role at the Foundation. So my position of editing Ken’s books and audios and getting things ready for publication wasn’t more important than the person changing the sheets in one of the resident’s rooms. And that was a glorious but very, very difficult lesson and a great affront to my ego and all our egos. It required tremendous humility, but the result was extraordinary. When there’s no competition and you’re not trying to maintain your importance, it takes so much pressure off. But on the other hand the ego objects and comes back with well, who are you if you’re no different than anyone else? If there’s no difference between someone with a PhD and someone who dropped out of high school? It takes a huge shift in how you go about relating to others and understanding who you are.


That must have been especially challenging for you since you had come from a long career in academia–you were a professor of philosophy at Molloy College—where that sort of hierarchy is very much emphasized.


Yes, it is. But Ken was such a model for us. You would go over to the office and there he was helping unload a truckload of books, putting the cartons in the warehouse or sometimes helping in the shipping department. It made no difference to him whether he was teaching or unloading a truck. And as you know, and everyone who came to his classes knows, his interaction with the students was on their level, always fooling and kidding around.


He treated everyone like his long-lost friend.


Absolutely. And the demonstration of that was just invaluable. But it was also hard in the sense that I knew (we all knew) that he could see through our attempts to manipulate or maintain my specialness but he never judged. But you knew that he knew. And although that was hard and humbling and I felt ashamed at times, I was so grateful because he was demonstrating how I could be all the time, how Jesus was, and how he wanted us to learn to be. But it wasn’t easy. Everybody knows how it feels when your ego gets exposed. But the lesson is it’s not sinful. Ken didn’t pretend that you weren’t doing it but you knew he wasn’t judging you and he was teaching us that that’s what I want you to learn to be.


It’s such a demonstration for us all, really. We don’t have to be in an organization devoted to teaching A Course in Miracles to experience that. We just need to make learning to make the purpose of all our relationships–all the groups we’re involved with–learning to accept the atonement for ourselves. My marriage, my family of origin, my business, my neighborhood, my country—all of it?


That’s the whole point of being a student of this Course; learning that the form doesn’t matter. You concentrate on the content. It doesn’t matter where you are or who you’re with. It’s learning that the Sonship is one and the differences in form don’t matter.


My primary purpose is always the same: learning to practice forgiveness with everyone and everything, to experience our sameness and accept the atonement for myself. Everything I experience in form is just a classroom for the purpose of healing my mind about what I think I am.


Yes. That’s a perfect way to end.


Thank you so much, Rosemarie for your honesty and generosity in sharing your process. I know other students will find it as helpful as I do.   


(Look for another interview with Rosemarie’s fellow facim teacher, Jeff Seibert, coming up on this site soon. :))


Foundation for A Course in Miracles Announcements

Latest Book

A Symphony of Love is an compilation of selected writings of Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, including autobiographies, poetry, short stories, and articles.


Programs through June 2017

Please view our latest Temecula Schedule page http://www.facim.org/temecula-schedule.aspx   to see the Seminars and Academy classes, including Live Streaming of the classes, currently scheduled through June 2017.
(You can register for upcoming live and streamed classes taught by the amazingly gifted Foundation for A Course in Miracles teaching staff; who continue to communicate Ken’s work with such clarity and grace, here: https://www.facim.org/temecula-schedule.aspx. I really can’t recommend these classes more highly! Rosemarie LoSasso and Jeff Seibert continue to gently encourage us to bring the darkness of all we’ve dreamt up to hurt us (whenever we’re choosing to feel victimized and justified in victimizing others) to the light of the part of every mind that knows only our shared innocence and need to find our way home. Their classes offer us a safe, non-judgmental “space” above the battleground in which to allow the healing of our frightened minds. (And often laugh a lot, too! 🙂 NEW INTERVIEWS with Rosemarie LoSasso and Jeff Seibert coming to my www.foraysinforgiveness.com site in 2017!)

New Audio Release

The Foundation is pleased to offer a previously unreleased audio title by Dr. Kenneth Wapnick. This five-CD set entitled “There is a Light in You the World Can Not Perceive,” which was recorded in 2010, is also available as an MP3 Download.

MP3-CDs To Be Discontinued

The Foundation is discontinuing production of audio titles in MP3 CD format. The seventh grouping of MP3 CD titles, which is available through June 4, 2017 only, can be viewed here. These titles are also available at a 40% discount. Please note that all orders containing MP3-CDS will be shipped the first week of June.

We are continuing to clear out the warehouse of all printed books as we make the transition to electronic books. After the current supply of books is sold, the books will not be reprinted, and will be available only in digital download format.

You may view all of the books currently on sale here. Please note that some orders may take up to two weeks to ship after the order is received.


The Interviews page on my forays website been revised to make it easier to find and access interviews with Ken Wapnick and others including Gloria Wapnick, and FACIM staff teachers. These interviews provide a wealth of practical information about learning to live a truly forgiving life, as well as some history of the Foundation for A Course in Miracles.


In this NEW VIDEO, friend and fellow Course student and teacher Bruce Rawles and I discuss what it means to “accept the atonement for myself,” as talked about in A Course in Miracles Chapter 2 and workbook lesson 139. https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/videos/

In this RECENT VIDEO, Bruce Rawles and I talk about the challenges of trying to practice A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 330: “I will not hurt myself again today.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4RJosel0zA&feature=youtu.be

In this NEW AUDIO, CA Brooks, 12Radio, and I discuss a Course in Miracles workbook lesson 186: “Salvation of the world depends on me.” (And thank God it’s not the “me” we think it is! :)) http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=DE52D9FE-26B9-4187-860F309BBB8F9B42

RECENT AUDIO, CA Brooks, 12Radio, and I discuss A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 190: “I choose the joy of God instead of pain.” http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=9F396171-26B9-4187-8664560FBC62D238

In this RECENT AUDIO recording of a show I did with CA Brooks, 12Radio, we review the practice of forgiveness through A Course in Miracles workbook lessons 5 and 34 http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=0C205831-26B9-4187-86FD0B745FCD31FE.

MY LATEST BOOK, FORGIVENESS: THE KEY TO HAPPINESS, http://www.amazon.com/Forgiveness-Happiness-Susan-A-Dugan/dp/0983742022, along with my second book in the forgiveness essay collection series, FORGIVENESS OFFERS EVERYTHING I WANT: http://www.amazon.com/Forgiveness-Offers-Everything-I-Want/dp/0983742014/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=07RKZW8SHE2RNC209A2D  are currently DISCOUNTED on Amazon.

Schedule individual MENTORING sessions with Susan Dugan here: https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/personal-coaching  Although A Course in Miracles is clearly a self-study program and the one relationship we are truly cultivating is with our eternally sane and loving right mind, mentoring can help remind Course students having trouble applying its unique forgiveness in the classroom of their lives that the problem and the solution never lie in the difficult relationship, situation, behavior, health issue, etc., but in the decision-making mind. In every circumstance, without exception, we can choose to experience inner peace and kindness toward all, unaffected by the seemingly random strife of a world designed to prove otherwise. By choosing to look at our lives as a classroom in which we bring all our painful illusions to the inner teacher of forgiveness who knows only our shared innocence beyond all its deceptive disguises, we learn to identify and transcend the ego’s resistance, hold others and even ourselves harmless, and gently allow our split mind to heal. 

Susan’s mentoring sessions provide valuable support in our forgiveness practice from a Course student and teacher deeply committed to awakening through learning and living true forgiveness. While keenly aware of our resistance to Jesus’ loving message from first-hand experience, she remains faithful to opening her heart to the Course’s universal answer for all frightened hearts and to sharing her ongoing learning and growing trust with kindred faithful, but sometimes frightened and confused, fellow students.

Sessions are conducted via traditional phone or Skype (your choice). Please contact me to find out if mentoring is right for you before submitting a payment. (No one is ever turned away for lack of ability to pay!)



Here’s a recording I did with CA Brooks, 12Radio, in which we talk about the importance of catching our unkind thoughts and judgments and looking at them with the part of our mind that sees no differences and makes no comparisons … even while watching the news! http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=584A85D9-26B9-4187-86B672216F9D08E7


A recording on Changing the Purpose of the Body from Prison to Classroom: http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=C936F436-26B9-4187-862BC523BC16D778, and another on what it means to go “above the battleground” (ACIM Text 23, Section IV) http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=13D9C907-26B9-4187-86F1370A394E8755

And a recording in which we talk about ACIM workbook lesson 101: “God’s will for me is perfect happiness” and 102: “I share God’s will for happiness for me.” http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=16BFF184-26B9-4187-86DD07743FBB7355  You’d think we’d like to hear that God’s will for us is perfect happiness, but we can’t possibly believe that and also believe we attacked God and threw his love away.  Following our inner Teacher’s path of true forgiveness begins to dissolve the guilt in our mind, teaching us that it was just silly to believe we could oppose God’s will and create a separate one. Allowing us to gradually accept that we deserve the happiness we share within God’s presence and could never really destroy.


Here’s a video I did with Bruce Rawles on sharing perception with the Holy Spirit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S45pmt7ntQ4

Here’s a talk I did with Bruce Rawles on Section 16 of The Manual for Teachers: “How Should the Teacher of God Spend His Day.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgHjOcxzrwg&feature=youtu.be

In this VIDEO, Bruce Rawles and I discuss A Course in Miracles lesson 190: “I choose the joy of God instead of pain.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPqUpNmAmG0


The Denver-based School for A Course in Miracles (formerly the School of Reason), an A Course-in-Miracles teaching organization, has a beautiful new website: http://www.schoolforacourseinmiracles.org/, with information on great new and ongoing classes based on Ken Wapnick’s teachings.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Center for A Course in Miracles http://www.centerforacourseinmiracles.org/index.html, is an educational Center whose focus is to teach what A Course in Miracles says, address common misunderstandings, and help students develop a relationship with their internal Teacher, inspired and guided by the teachings of the late Dr. Kenneth Wapnick.

In this video Bruce Rawles and I discuss themes from my most recent book, Forgiveness: The Key to Happiness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vEbI3jH8Sk 

My good friend and fellow Course student, teacher, and author Bruce Rawles frequently invites me to chat with him on YouTube about the Course and Ken Wapnick’s teachings. He continues to compile lots of great ACIM information well worth checking out at ACIMblog.com.

My good friend and gifted A Course in Miracles teacher and writer Bernard Groom has been posting beautifully written, heartfelt essays about living A Course in Miracles for years at ACIMvillage.com. Bernard lives and teaches in France with his dear wife Patricia. You’ll find a wealth of information in French on his website including recorded talks available for purchase or free download.


from Forays In Forgiveness https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/talking-with-rosemarie-losasso-spring-2017/

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