Thursday, March 22, 2018

Homeless, the ego seeks

“You’ll need to remove everything that might offend someone,” the realtor said.

“You mean lose the Obama,” I said. Referring to the life-sized, standup cardboard cutout of our former POTUS procured during the 2008 election. Headed in 2016 for the dumpster, truth be told, but saved by the unexpected outcome of that election. Consequently retained as a beacon of light in dark-dream times. Dutifully decorated for holidays ever since. Currently still sporting multiple strands of Mardi gras beads.

The young man with a boy’s face nodded, smiling. “Some people might take that the wrong way.”

He had a point, of course. Some people, OK, all people, were always on the lookout for things to take the wrong way. It had been a life-long hobby of mine, actually, one I’d perfected over the years to near art status. But I digress.

We had decided to put our house on the market in an effort to financially downsize as we approached the great slide into the abyss of our inevitable dotage. A possibility my husband and I had discussed periodically for a couple years in our circuitous way as Denver’s housing market grew ever hotter. A communication dynamic that resembled two planets broadcasting through light years of deep space while continuing to circle in their own orbits. Nonetheless somehow simultaneously arriving at and transmitting the identical conclusion that the time was right. Despite the troubling reality that the extreme desirability born of unavailability in residential housing would require holding an open house prepared to receive an offer or multiple offers quickly, perhaps sell immediately, and negotiate a lease back for a month or two to enable us to subsequently procure an equally scarce morsel of real estate hopefully with cash from the sale of our abode. (My finally dormant IBS symptoms flared just thinking about it.)

Meanwhile, we would ready the house for sale. Fixing and painting what long needed both (my husband’s domain). Cleaning and divesting ourselves of belongings long in need of divestiture (my venue), except for the contents of the two “hoarder rooms” downstairs containing my husband’s lifetime accumulations and inheritances and pretty much the entire garage of his alleged “possessions,” appropriate to all meanings of that word. Exceptions that more than out-numbered our joint possessions (absent daughter included) that likewise still required jettisoning. The very mention of which would trigger an argument of epic proportions which is saying quite a lot. But I’ll leave that to another story.

For now, in the spirit of détente, I would focus on locating and hiding or disposing of the possibly offensive, I decided, bidding the realtor adieu and beginning, room, by room, to take inventory. An exercise you, too, might want to try some time at home for your own amusement/horrification. Because, I mean, where to begin? That’s what you realize, as soon as you inch back from your biases into the discomforting territory of objective observer. A preliminary walkthrough of the main floor, for example, revealed:

-one roll of toilet paper prominently displayed in the powder room imprinted with a black-and-white etching of the face of our current POTUS (a recent stocking-stuffer Christmas gift from my daughter);

-a collection of artful Voodoo dolls purchased over the years from a place I adored called “Chicken Man Voodoo” in New Orleans, prominently displayed on a white brick wall of my office;

-a hutch filled with Day-of-the-Dead artwork purchased in Taos, Santa Fe, and Oaxaca, Mexico; skeletons of all shapes and sizes cavorting in a variety of pleasurable antics from feasting, dancing, and music-making to skiing, windsurfing, and motor-bike racing;

-miscellaneous skeleton art objects including a wooden coffin, lid carved with skeletal remains of a supine corpse;

-mosaic, glass, and hand-hewn crosses (as in crucifixes thankfully sans the Christ figure) purchased for their beauty during miscellaneous travels, nonetheless evocative of certain Biblical Christian beliefs I no longer held, but still;

-bookcases penned by the likes of Thomas Keating, Thomas Merton, and Saint Teresa of Avila as well as a variety of ancient and contemporary authors from Taoist, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions and a sprinkling of survivors from my New Age phase;

-additional remains of that latter era in the form of Tarot and other divination cards and,

-the culmination of my spiritual searching and proverbial end of the seeking road and beginning of the actual journey in changing the purpose of my world from ego prison to true forgiveness classroom in the form of  a veritable library of  A Course in Miracles books, CDs, and accompanying materials by my beloved teacher Ken Wapnick.

I shoved the verboten toilet paper in the back of a drawer, piled the Voodoo dolls into a box deposited in the newly cleaned hall closet along with the wooden coffin, and decided that for better or worse, all other skeletons were out of the closet for good, even as I contemplated the walls of my office with growing dread. Recalling the realtor’s additional edict I’d almost but not quite successfully repressed to also remove any personal photos and children’s artwork from walls and surfaces to better enable potential buyers to picture their own family inhabiting “our” space.

Slain by the indelible thought, I collapsed back into my desk chair beside my bulletin board. Filled with snapshots of my daughter as a baby and young child, my husband and I as doting new parents, sandwiched between a photographed portrait of myself in college taken by a friend– blown up, framed, and presented as a gift all those years ago with which I had only recently reunited–and a professional Christmas photo of my daughter taken not long after her first birthday. Momentarily beaming following a classic meltdown and posed like a porcelain baby doll in her red velvet dress my mother had sent amidst a set of perfectly wrapped gifts, the backdrop of an idyllic, decorated evergreen. Suddenly aware that the possessions I held most dear fell into two categories: the deliciously offensive and Kodak-moment relics of a special past lived with special people that not only never really existed as pictured; as it turns out, never really existed at all. Serving only to keep me from experiencing real Love, the Love I kept seeking and never really finding, as impossible to hold onto as this house, these possessions, these grievances, these dreams, all like water rushing through my hands.

“Jesus!” I said, overcome with a sense of loneliness and devastation the current circumstances could not possibly justify, and found myself once more transported to my inner professor’s office in the quiet center of that proverbial academy outside this dream of exile from our real Source and Self. Seated in that same chair at his desk after so many months, apparently finally ready for the consultation that seemed to have eluded me for so long.

“Bad dreams?” he asked.

“I broke a nail,” I said, gnawing at it. “Even though I’ve been taking a keratin supplement claiming to prevent that sort of thing.”

“Nails,” he said, shaking his head. “Can’t live with ‘um, can’t live without ‘um.”

“Oh, that is so not even remotely funny,” I said.

“Oh, come on. Not even a little bit?”

I rolled my eyes. “The problem with you is there is absolutely nothing you take seriously,” I said.

“Isn’t that the truth,” he agreed, smiling that steady, confounding smile of his. “What can I do for you today?”

“Turns out we’re moving,” I said.

He nodded, leaning back in his chair, still wearing that fashionable man scarf I had given him for Christmas that leant his otherwise modest attire a certain je-ne-sais-quoi flair.

“You don’t miss anything, do you?” I said. “No pun intended.”

“You’ve been crying,” he said, pushing the box of tissues toward me.

I sighed. “It’s just that I feel like it’s all been a waste, a sham. I’ve failed so badly at everything I’ve tried to make right, make good on, make work. Make.”

“Make up, you mean?”

“Oh, yeah, there’s that,” I blew my nose, hung my head. At least I was still good at some things.

“The thing is, we’re moving and I don’t know where I’m going,” I said. “I don’t just mean where I’m going to live. I mean I don’t even know where I’ve really come from, what I’ve been doing here all this time, what all these ‘possessions’ even mean. I feel like all these objects I’m supposed to box up are just refuse from the latest movie set. And I’m in charge of deciding what goes on exhibit for fellow future film buffs and what to hurl in the rubbish heap.”

His brows shot up the way they do.

“I’m learning that I’m always wrong about what I thought I possessed and why. But at times feel possessed by this wild woman ego slipping into madness. We’ve been here fifteen years, moved here when my daughter was ten. This house seems full of ghosts. I keep encountering ghosts of her and me at different ages and stages in our relationship, ghosts of my husband and myself, too, ghosts of dreams dreamt and undreamt, you know what I mean?”

He nodded, smiled, ever willing to meet me in the condition I thought I was in.

“And then there’s the deeper issue of not knowing where I’m going since there’s no me going anywhere actually. And ultimately, as you’re constantly reminding us, there are no names on the diplomas we get for graduation from forgiveness-of-what-never-really-was academy, no attachment to me and mine in the real world and I still don’t know where that leaves me, you know? Or all these ghosts? All I know is time and time again I have failed to love hard enough. I have wasted the gifts I came in with and blamed others for it, held them responsible for the impossible task of making me happy. I have failed to consider how my behavior affected them. Even with those I love the most, the ones I believe I can’t live without, I have put, continue to put, my own needs first. I could go on,” I blubbered.

“God knows,” he said.

“So where does that leave me?”

But he only smiled.

Outside the cracked-open, beveled windows behind his desk, a soprano dove sang. Treetops swayed in the minor-chord March winds, shaking off fistfuls of snow.

I can’t say how long we sat together like that. At some point, I became aware of a fire blazing in a fireplace across the room I had never noticed before in all these visits, the gift of a hearth, a home, ever-burning, never in need of fuel, the perpetual music of doves.

Finally, I smiled back, nodded.

“Cup of Joe?” he asked.

“… You can indeed be sure of nothing you see outside you, but of this you can be sure: The Holy Spirit asks that you offer Him a resting place where you will rest in Him. He answered you, and entered your relationship. Would you not now return His graciousness, and enter into a relationship with Him? For it is He who offered your relationship the gift of holiness, without which it would have been forever impossible to appreciate your brother. (From A Course in Miracles Text, Chapter 19, IV. The Obstacles to Peace, paragraph 2)

“The first obstacle that peace must flow across is your desire to get rid of it. For it cannot extend unless you keep it. You are the center from which it radiates outward, to call the others in. You are its home; its tranquil dwelling place from which it gently reaches out, but never leaving you. If you would make it homeless, how can it abide within the Son of God? If it would spread across the whole creation, it must begin with you, and from you reach to everyone who calls and bring him rest by joining you.” (Chapter 19, IV. A. paragraph 1)

NOTE: A Course in Miracles uses the character of an unconditionally loving Jesus as a symbol of the unconditionally loving presence still shining in every fragment of our one mind. A presence that never took the “tiny, mad idea” of separation from our eternally loving Source and Self seriously, and continues to experience and teach only the truth of our invulnerable, shared innocence, despite our seemingly special, guilty dreams of separation, separate interests, and punishment realized.


The Foundation for A Course in Miracles has developed a wonderful new website with all kinds of new, interactive, user-friendly features that make it easier than ever to avail ourselves of our beloved teacher Ken Wapnick’s mind-healing commentary, books, audios, videos, and other materials. Go to this link to explore and find out how to follow the Foundation on social media, signup for notifications of possible upcoming seminars, take advantage of new monthly specials and audio releases, and support facim through your Amazon purchases!

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 explore what A Course in Miracles has to say about “The Illusion and the Reality of Love.” (Text, Chapter 16 – IV.)

In this RECENT 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 NEW VIDEO, my friend and fellow Course student Danielle Scruton and I discuss A Course in Miracles lesson 190: “I choose the joy of God instead of pain.”

In this RECENT VIDEO, my friend and fellow Course student Danielle Scruton and I 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 lesson 134: “Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.”

In this RECENT 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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