Monday, January 8, 2018

Happiness runs in a circular motion

(Hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from my second book, Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, available on Amazon :))

“Welcome home, Jim Dugan,” said the Irishman at the Customs desk in Dublin, appropriately ruddy-cheeked and blarney-tongued, stamping my father’s passport and causing Dad to pinken to his very toes with glee, stepping foot at last onto the sacred soil of the motherland. His moment of perfect bliss expanded generously to engulf us all, until we overheard the same phrase uttered to a gentleman not far behind us and realized it was standard fare for greeting Americans of a certain age with Irish surnames. Still, on the ego’s scale of one-to-ten the trip was a ten, marred only by my then four-year-old daughter’s car-sickness in the back seat of what passed for a van in the Republic of Ireland at the time. Into which we stereotypical Americans had crammed four adults, one child, and an embarrassing abundance of luggage, some of which the owners of our guest house in Dublin had mercifully offered to store as we hit the road for more rural pastures in Killarney and Cork, hot on the trail of leprechauns and dead Dugans; the details of my father’s lineage largely unknown despite fanciful conjecture over a pint or four.

Our first trip to the emerald isle with my parents when our daughter was little looms in my memory as one of the happiest, most present times of my life. Immersed in a seemingly infinite variety of shades of my favorite color, glimpsing faces in doorways that resembled my own, touring ancient Druid stone circles and romantically ruined abbeys; a deep sense of belonging welled up in me. I reveled in stories of long-term victimization at the hands of the English often celebrated in exuberant, irresistible song by day; cooking mussels and root vegetables for my family by night on a stove in our own rental cottage where we burned real peat for warmth, just like our ancestors. Everyone got along. Our daughter learned to skip on that trip, play the tin whistle and a mean game of poker. I bent over backwards and kissed the Blarney Stone, convinced despite the hype that I would find my muse at last.

We have been talking a lot about happiness in the weekly A Course in Miracles class I lead. As Course students, it often seems much easier to identify the denied guilt in our mind over our belief that we separated from our one, loving source with our negative projections, plentiful as they are. The attacks we perceive as coming from outside the seemingly separate body we have chosen to “inhabit,” defend, and justify that are actually coming from within the one ego mind constantly intent on establishing its greater innocence relative to another’s greater guilt.

As we begin to embrace the Course’s forgiveness it often seems easier to learn that all our negative emotions are red flags that we have chosen the ego as our inner teacher and need to choose again for the Holy (Whole) Spirit/right mind if we hope to experience inner peace. It may seem much more difficult to also accept that the pleasurable experiences we cling to in this world and credit with making us happy are likewise defenses against the truth. Both are intentionally (although unconsciously) manufactured by the ego to keep us from returning to our right mind and recognizing that what passes for pleasure and pain in this world is an illusion; a literal projection of a mind made mad by its belief in guilt, hell-bent on proving its existence at God’s expense while denying responsibility for it.

The more we blame someone or thing outside the mind for our problems, the more innocent we seem. Most Course students can grasp that, at least intellectually. More challenging is the notion that the more we hold something external responsible for our happiness, the more real we make this illusory world and the less motivated we are to choose again for the unwavering, all-inclusive, eternal solace that awaits us in our right mind. Immersed in our exclusive, ephemeral pleasure, our split mind once again appears to seamlessly fuse with the ego and we forget all about the decision-making mind that can choose again for something real outside the dream. We even buy the ego’s argument that something exclusive such as the heady identification with our cultural heritage has greater value than something eternally all-inclusive and loving. And that something fleeting–like all pleasures in this mortal world I short supply–is all the more precious in that weepy, poignant way our mind on ego can’t get enough of.

The movement to generate, celebrate, attract, and sustain earthly happiness advanced in self-help books and workshops over the last several decades often invites us to vividly recall a time when we were supremely happy; and focus on our sensory memories to recreate it. Where were you? What did it look like, sound like, smell and taste like? What were you doing? Who were you with?  How did it make you feel? The idea is to both identify the components so you can pursue and invite more of those into your life, and identify the feeling, so you can resurrect it when the less-than-happy developments of day-to-day existence rear their ugly heads in your otherwise essentially idyllic state. This technique can help us accentuate our positive and minimize our negative feelings, but it will do nothing to help us awaken to the truth of our invulnerable, endlessly peaceful nature outside this dream of opposing interests created by a terrified split mind to defend itself against a truth it believes would annihilate it.

The problem with peak experiences here in this dream of exile from perfect, loving oneness is the way in which—like all special relationships—we grant them power to limit love through exclusivity. Our needs temporarily satisfied by others chosen to justify and defend our story and with no memory of the magnificence we believe we have forfeited, we have no desire to choose again for the part of our mind that allows us to experience the real grandeur of our loving wholeness. During that trip to Ireland I did not once muse as Bill Thetford (original Course collaborator) famously did that there must be another (better) way of relating in this world, inviting the scribing of A Course in Miracles. What could be better than this?

The problem with peak experiences is the inevitable valleys. Nothing here lasts. Not the idyllic trip to Ireland. Not the little girl skipping beside me playing a tin whistle, not the way I feel when I’m meditating, not this strong, healthy body or the bodies of people I love. Peak experiences offer at best shabby substitutions for the real loving state that awaits us when we choose to forgive our investment in differences designed to prove the lie of separation with our right mind that has never taken our fantasy seriously.

A Course in Miracles does not implore us to judge or avoid worldly pleasure. But it does invite us to question its purpose and begin to observe with help from our right mind how its pursuit seduces us into mindlessness in the same way our pursuit of proving our innocence at another’s expense does. The Course does not ask us to “sacrifice” our pleasures, only to see their purpose clearly with the part of our mind that can clearly see. We must learn to observe with our loving inner teacher just how addicted we are to attributing our internal state of mind to external factors if we ever hope to find guilt-free happiness that blames no one, excludes no one, lasts forever, and will never fail us.

As workbook lesson 66: “My happiness and my function are one,” reminds us:

… Think also about the many forms the illusion of your function has taken in your mind, and the many ways in which you tried to find salvation under the ego’s guidance. Did you find it? Were you happy? Did they bring you peace? We need great honesty today. Remember the outcomes fairly, and consider also whether it was ever reasonable to expect happiness from anything the ego ever proposed. Yet the ego is the only alternative to the Holy Spirit’s Voice (paragraph 9).

We all know how to find pleasure in this world and there’s nothing wrong with doing so. The problem comes with mistaking fleeting, sensory, emotional pleasure with the eternal, stable happiness we believe we traded for this unique individual, finite, existence. The problem comes with expending our energy on maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain and deluding ourselves that playing in the illusion, fixing up the dream, can ever satisfy the deep longing to return to our awareness of our loving home we all share. I still enjoy travel but more and more recognize it for the escape/distraction from healing my mind it can be if I don’t embrace it mindfully as merely another expression of the illusion offering opportunities to forgive. It is not and will never be a substitute for what I really want.

As we learn to look honestly with the part of our mind that followed us into the dream and remains capable of honesty at all we think can hurt or help us we begin to realize a peace of mind completely independent from the ups and downs of this world and the need to mask our guilt over a crime that never happened. We begin to taste a peace that–as we continue to practice forgiveness–expands to include everyone and everything. Complete, infinite peace that–when we have completed all our forgiveness lessons in the classroom of our lives–invites us to step onto the soil of the one motherland we have in truth never left and welcomes everyone home.

Foundation for A Course in Miracles Announcements



The Attraction of Love, Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.


Two CD Set: $13.00 • MP3 Download: $9.00

This new audio release by Dr. Kenneth Wapnick was recorded in 2005, and discusses the attraction of love as presented in the A Course in Miracles. This audio program is available as a CD set and an MP3 download.


In January, the Foundation will be presenting its final program, a Full-Day Seminar entitled, Our Foundation Is Love, the Way We Walk in Gratitude. The class will be conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Seibert, and Dr. Rosemarie LoSasso, and will be held on Wednesday, January 24, 2018.

If you are unable to attend the Full-Day September Seminar in person, please join us online via Live Streaming. In addition to watching the classes live (or in the event you are unable to watch the classes live), you will have access to recorded videos for approximately ten days following the Seminar.



The Interviews page on my forays website has 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.


Schedule individual MENTORING sessions with Susan Dugan here:  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!)

In this NEW VIDEO, Bruce Rawles and I discuss recommitting to making the purpose of our days a classroom of true forgiveness with help from our inner Teacher:

In this RECENT VIDEO, Bruce Rawles and I discuss what A Course in Miracles means by “the quiet center” of the mind and how to get there.

In this RECENT VIDEO, Bruce Rawles and I discuss workbook lesson 194: “I place the future in the hands of God.”

In this RECENT VIDEO, my friend and fellow Course student Danielle Scruton discuss A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 131: “No one can fail who seeks to reach the truth.”

In this RECENT VIDEO, my friend and fellow Course student Danielle Scruton and I discuss practicing forgiveness within the classroom of the parent-child relationship in the context of the Course quote “And God Thinks Otherwise.”

In this RECENT VIDEO, my friend and fellow Course student Danielle Scruton and I discuss how to weather the ego’s “backlash.”

In this RECENT VIDEO, my friend and fellow Course student Danielle Scruton and I discuss changing the purpose of romantic partnerships/marriage from specialness bargains to classrooms for learning to accept the atonement for ourselves

In this RECENT 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.

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.”

In this NEW AUDIO,  CA Brooks, 12Radio, and I talk about acim workbook lesson 193: “All things are lessons God would have me learn.”

In this RECENT AUDIO CA Brooks, 12Radio, and I talk about how to connect with our inner Teacher/right mind (which can seem quite elusive at times!):

In this RECENT AUDIO CA Brooks, 12Radio, and I discuss A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 41: “God goes with me wherever I go,” and why this is a good thing! 🙂

In this RECENT AUDIO, CA Brooks, 12Radio, and I talk about 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! :))

MY LATEST BOOK, FORGIVENESS: THE KEY TO HAPPINESS,, along with my second book in the forgiveness essay collection series, FORGIVENESS OFFERS EVERYTHING I WANT:  are currently DISCOUNTED on Amazon.


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!

A recording on Changing the Purpose of the Body from Prison to Classroom:, and another on what it means to go “above the battleground” (ACIM Text 23, Section IV)

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.”  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:

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.”

In this VIDEO, Bruce Rawles and I discuss A Course in Miracles lesson 190: “I choose the joy of God instead of pain.”


The Denver-based School for A Course in Miracles (formerly the School of Reason), an A Course-in-Miracles offers great new and ongoing classes based on Ken Wapnick’s teachings.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Center for A Course in Miracles, 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: 

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

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 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

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