I know there's many gay men, and certainly many straight women that I know, that look for men with big muscles, especially biceps. These straight women, and gay men, really want a man with nice, firm, arm muscles. I remember I had a female friend many, many years ago. We were out to dinner, and a male waiter was serving us. After he left the table one time she said in an excited pant, "Oh my God! Did you see his arms?" And I said, "I guess I did. Yes, he had arms. I don't know. Why?" (laughter) "What about his arms?" She replied, "Oh, he had those muscles" I thought, "Really? That's a big thing for you?" I had no idea. Since then I have definitely found that good upper body build – a lot of gay men a lot of straight women really, really like that. And – let's face it, a lot of gay men and many straight women really like men with big penises. They do; it's true. We can pretend that that's not true, but we all know that is true. We don't have to talk about it too much. Anyway, this is what I always have thought about in relation to this body parts quotation from A Course In Miracles. This is what I always thought about when I have read this line, "... special emphasis on certain parts, and used as the standard for comparison for either acceptance or rejection." (OrEd.Tx.18.3)
However, I've now had a shift in perception. I realized that the biggest part of the body, the biggest organ of the body, is actually skin. There is no bigger organ in the body than skin. Skin is the biggest part of the body. Acceptance or rejection on the basis of the look of that skin, the color of that skin, goes right to the heart of the matter in the discussion about race. So we think about darker skin people, or people whose color of skin doesn't appear to be whatever is this color of skin that caucasian people have, flesh colored, doesn't .... wait ... that term. Why is caucasian skin called flesh colored? Why isn't darker skin called flesh colored? You see when something is referred to as "flesh tone", it's always caucasian tone. I guess African Americans don't have flesh? I didn't know. That's very interesting.
It's interesting because it creates this dichotomy between the two words, "spiritual" and "religious" when it wasn't too long ago that those words were used synonymously. We've moved them apart in some way. I decided to do a little investigation into this, and verify my own ideas about it. I went to Wikipedia, which is, as you know, this thing on the internet. It's a huge, open, and free encyclopedia. Of course they had an entry for "Spiritual But Not Religious." Wikipedia says, "Spiritual But Not Religious (SBNR) is a popular phrase and initialism used to self-identify a life stance of spirituality that rejects traditional organized religion as the sole or most valuable means of furthering spiritual growth. The term is used world-wide, but is most prominent in the United States where one study reports that as many as 33% of people identify as spiritual but not religious. Other surveys report lower percentages ranging from 24% to 10%." (Wikipedia)
SBNR is definitely a thing. It's an idea that has cropped up that people feel that they are spiritual, however feel that they are not religious. According to the Wikipedia, saying that you're not religious means you're not affiliated with traditional, organized religion. Some people don't agree with the "tradition, organized" distinction. For those people being not religious means not affiliated with religion at all, any religion, or any church, any time. It's interesting that "religion," now in the vernacular, has come to mean any sort of church or organized thing, because the word in and of itself, if you look up the definition, doesn't really mean that. I looked up a couple of definitions of "religion."
But at the [baseball] game I thought, "Well, I idolize dogs. I have my idols too." So in that moment, I had this joining with all the sports fans because it was like, "We're no different. They're just looking for a distraction from the ego. I'm looking for a distraction from the pain of the ego too. I have my things, and they have their things." So I had this holy instant at the game. That's what A Course In Miracles teaches us. We have these series of holy instants where we join with our brothers, and eventually it just becomes this one long joining when we don't choose separation any longer. My journey, my "journey without distance" as the Course calls it, (see: OrEd.Tx.8.51) wouldn't be nearly as fun if I didn't have these dogs that have loved me along the way.
I want to talk about the current dog in my life. Her name is Rosie, and she's definitely my .... You know my boyfriend asked me, "Are you more attached to Rosie than your other dogs?" I had to think about that. Eventually I said, "You know, I loved them all, but Rosie is the dog that probably got me through the breakup of my marriage. After the breakup, it was just the two of us that lived together. So, probably I do." I am a little more attached to Rosie.
Socrates – the Socratic method – asking questions – this is from Wikipedia, "The Socratic method named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates, is a form of inquiry and discussion between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas. It is a dialectical method, often involving a discussion in which the defense of one point of view is questioned; one participant may lead another to contradict himself in some way, thus strengthening the inquirer's own point." That's what it is. That's what I was trying to do. It's Socratic. You ask questions. You challenge them, and this is done in the spirit of getting to a greater truth. We, the Community Miracles Center, are definitely open to that. That's why we have discussion after the Sunday lecture each week. Rev. Judy said last week that this is one of the reasons she decided to come back to the Community Miracles Center after her first visit over 23 years ago, because she saw that after the lecture there was discussion, and she liked that. We can be questioned. ...
I believe A Course in Miracles is all about asking questions. In the A Course In Miracles reading that Rev. John read this morning, it said, "Questioning illusions is the first step in undoing them. The miracle, or the ‘right answer,' corrects them. .... The questioning mind perceives itself in time and therefore looks for future answers. The unquestioning mind is closed because it believes the future and present will be the same. This establishes an unchanged state or stasis. It is usually an attempt to counteract an underlying fear that the future will be worse than the present, and this fear inhibits the tendency to question at all." (OrEd.Tx.3.32.33) So while we're in the space-time illusion, while we're here in our physical lives, we are supposed to question and be engaged in the process of challenge and response. We question so that the future may be better than the past.
I find it interesting how discrimination and prejudice was attached to these events. I, personally, believe that each and every one of us, including myself, have prejudice in us. We have all discriminated, at some point in our life. My assumption is that for someone who appears to be white, they may feel guilty about their discrimination. Maybe they think, “Oh my God! I can’t have those thoughts in my mind. People might think that I’m racist!” Those people might think something like that, but “No.” The fact is discrimination has been imbedded in our psyche for so long, it’s going to be there. The thing is, to be okay, to own that you have those feelings and those thoughts. It doesn’t mean that you have to act on them, but I think it’s important to keep an awareness of your discrimination thoughts. I think that’s how we continue to move forward. It’s not about us always having to be politically correct. I think sometimes that just becomes way too much, because it’s denying who we actually are, and what we’re actually experiencing.
A Course In Miracles says this. “Be willing, then, to give all you have held outside the truth to Him who knows the truth and in Whom all is brought to truth.” (OrEd.Tx.17.6) This is the moment. This is the time for us to truly pay attention to who we are, and to not deny who we are. The fact is, we are healers. Just because we’re healers does not mean that we don’t have thoughts that may appear to be not so good. That is understandable. As long as we continue to come from a place of good, a place of asking for guidance, regardless of whatever we think, that’s the important thing to keep in mind. That’s the thing I think will continue to help us step out of our beliefs of guilt or shame, and more into a feeling of love, more into a practice of forgiveness. I believe that’s how we start breaking down discrimination and working on it. We have the skill. We have the awareness within us. We just need to trust it and bring it out more.
Rev. Peter Graham: Now in terms of my own application of A Course in Miracles in the work life, it is quite interesting. Some of you know that I work in special education. I'm department head of a big San Francisco public high school, two-thousand students, and there's about two hundred and twenty five students with disabilities ranging from a learning disability to very severely impaired folks. I have sixteen teachers and twenty-two paraprofessionals that are working under my authority, and just thinking about those numbers, you can get a little overwhelmed. Then this year, I took on the responsibility of being the head football coach at the high school. Now I have fifty plus boys, who have lots of testosterone, running around. I'm in charge of them, and all their goings on. In case you hadn't noticed, the adolescence in this era are much more dramatic then when I can remember being an adolescent. So there's a lot of drama involved in all that.
Every day I wake up and I have this reality of a lot of people that I'm responsible for, and so the ego thoughts that I have around this are, "I have to control all of this. I have to be in charge. I'm responsible for everything that happens." I have those thoughts, and I also have thoughts that say, "I'm incompetent. I can't do this. I'm not really qualified for this. I don't have enough time." That's a big one, "I don't have enough time." I struggle with this but what A Course In Miracles, has said to me is delegate. "Delegate, Peter. Delegate." For me this is a trust issue. The truth of the matter is I have a lot of people that work with me in accomplishing these tasks. I have teachers who are really wonderful. Many of them are really wonderful beings who are working with kids in very challenging situations. A lot of times my job is just to keep their spirits up.