There's an interesting fact about that phrase, though. I believe it is true because I've seen it documented in several places. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence did not write "self-evident." What Thomas Jefferson actually wrote was "sacred and undeniable." Thomas Jefferson wrote, "We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable." However Benjamin Franklin objected to that phrase. Apparently he thought it was too religious sounding, and he wanted something a little more secular. Benjamin Franklin suggested "self-evident." So before we credit "self-evident' to Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence over a period of two weeks, let's remember that "self-evident" actually came from Benjamin Franklin. Just a little fact.
So, how are we doing in this country with these self-evident, unalienable rights? Life? Not particularly good. (laughter) We still have the death penalty legal in the United States. A number of states don't have the death penalty, but the death penalty is still legal in the U.S.A. There hasn't been any successful constitutional challenge. There is something in our Constitution against cruel and unusual punishment. The 8th amendment to the Constitution states, "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." I guess, somehow, the death penalty isn't considered cruel or unusual punishment. At least it hasn't been considered as that yet by the United States Supreme Court. Maybe one of these days it will be.
He continued, "Sometimes suffering occurs for reasons that we just can't understand until it is eventually revealed to us by God. In those times of great sorrow and unspeakable pain we are to remain steadfast in faith." He started rubbing his arms and legs and said, "I am 89 years of age and sometimes I feel my own aches and pains, but like Job, I am joyful and filled with love for God. I know that aches and pains, and even the body itself, are just tricks of the devil to separate me from God. I am joyful in spite of the pain for God is true and just."
He looked up at the ceiling, closed his eyes for a moment, and his whole body suddenly shook as if he experienced a jolt of electricity. He opened his eyes, pointed at me, and said, "Did you feel that?" I didn't answer, but he definitely had my full attention. His eyes opened wide as he declared, "That is confirmation of the truth. I am sometimes told things. Your pain and suffering like Job's, will provide you spiritual strength to follow through with God's will and the mission He has for you. Listen with your ears and your heart, and it will soon be clear. Don't give up, and don't waste this moment, not now. Circumstance didn't bring you here by accident; we have been awaiting your arrival."
For me the Course was a practical way of living through the negative emotions we have: anger, non-forgiveness, sometimes there's hatred, or sometimes there's resentment. Sometimes there is a feeling that we're entitled, and other people are not doing their obligation to meet our sense of entitlement. Things like these would come up when I read the Course. Sometimes I'll spend hours on just one paragraph, because I have to make sense of it. And not only that, what I would do is I would try and sense if I was aligned with what the Course was saying. Many times if we only read the Course quickly, we just gloss over it. We get to the end of a line, and then the next line, and the next paragraph, and the next chapter, and so on, and we give ourselves a pat on the back for having finished the Course. We haven't finished the Course unless we have really gotten at least one paragraph or one sentence completely, entirely. We must look at the one paragraph and say, "Okay, I'm in alignment with it." When we are in alignment with what the Course says, then I think we have really begun our journey.
I think Tony mentioned that we will never be at the end of our journey while here. Once we feel we have come to a sense of peace, there's still work to do. There's an alchemy that has to happen. So if you think that some part of your journey has completed, you are not at the end yet. Peter was saying earlier today that you are in a better place than you were before. I feel that way. I feel I am at a place of greater peace of mind than before.
Another challenging situation I have in my life, as many of you are also aware, is being a football coach at my high school. The script I had written for this was that I was going to become coach and bring back a winning tradition to my high school. So my first year as coach we were three wins and eight losses. In my second year we were one win and ten losses. (laughter)
That's a pretty nasty script if you want to listen to the ego, which I heard a lot. I heard it from my own inner dialogue. I heard a lot of suffering and critical thoughts within, and at times I heard it from the fans in the stands who were not happy for various reasons. I mean this is kind of funny, but I was thinking about it one time we were playing a game against Capuchino High School that is located in San Bruno, not too far away. We literally, for that game, had just eighteen players, which is the minimum legal number. You have to have at least eighteen players to play the game, and that's precisely all that we had. We were playing in their field. I got this total feeling like I was in a war zone, because during the game we were having so many guys hurt and injured that I got to the point where I was afraid to look behind my shoulder and see those injured guys sprawled on the field.