Rev. Tony Articles 2000 to Present

Rev. Tony Articles 2000 to Present

... Goes with Me Wherever I Go

On August 6th, 2017, Rev. Tony Ponticello spoke for the Sunday Gathering of the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, California. Below is a lightly edited transcription of that talk. 

Two Travelers on Giant World MapWelcome and thank you all for being here! For those of you watching the video on YouTube1, thank you for watching our videos. Thank you for subscribing to our YouTube channel. Watch all of our videos and leave us a comment. We love to hear what you think.

The title of my talk today is “dot, dot, dot – or blank – Goes with Me Wherever I Go.” There is significance to the “dot dot dot.”

Last week I had the opportunity to talk about “The Lawns of Heaven”2 for those of you who might remember. I talked about all the park lands that we have. We all have an experience of gorgeous lands and gardens that are somehow public that we all own. 

I had an experience of that over the past week. A friend and I took a couple of days off and we went down to Southern California. We went to the Getty Museum complex which is just lovely. It is a whole, massive complex of buildings, wonderfully designed, beautiful architecture, wonderful sculptured gardens and lawns – just really gorgeous. It is up on top of a hill. You really do feel like you are going to Heaven when you go up there. You take this little train that brings you right up there. And it’s all free! Here is a park, gardens and lawns, and again, free! We can all partake of it.

It was just lovely. It reminded me of being on the Lawns of Heaven. There are so many opportunities for us in this world to have that experience, or at least a symbolic representation of that experience. I felt that when I was at the Getty with all the wonderful works of art that are there to look at and to enjoy and it was all for free! 

I was traveling. Traveling for me can be a little bit anxiety producing. First of all there is flying. I don’t particularly love flying. Then there was getting to a new place, renting a car, and Los Angeles Then there was driving on L.A. freeways, which is anxiety producing for many people. It certainly is for me especially since I’m not used to them and I didn’t really know where I was going. I had my little GPS. I had my iPhone hooked up to the car stereo system so we were getting directed around, but it was anxiety producing. There was very heavy traffic with five-lane and six-lane super highways with a lot of trucks. Then there was the express lane that I wasn’t used to. Can you get into the express lane? Do you qualify to drive in it? When do you get into it? When can you get out of it? All of that! 

Up against that was the idea that vacations are supposed to be healthy things that we all do for ourselves to relax. They are supposed to be to relaxing. Yet, frequently vacations aren’t particularly relaxing. In the middle of all that, I needed to send our Assistant Minister, Rev. Kelly, the title of this talk and a little blurb that stated what I was going to talk about. I sent her what was on my mind. I was thinking it really didn’t matter where I was. It didn’t matter that I was in some place new and different, that was a little anxiety producing. Something goes with me wherever I go. 

How do I define that for myself? How do I define the Divine? What is the Divine? There was that wonderful experience on the museum mountain top that seemed so divine, but then there was this very anxiety producing hour and forty-five minute trip just to get there. Yet, something continues to go with us. What is that something? 

A long time ago, I heard a little saying, “Wherever you go, there you are. Wherever you go, there you are.” That’s a very interesting thing to think about. I remember thinking about that when I was an early A Course in Miracles student. That was just when I was getting indoctrinated with this idea that we are not bodies: that we are all joined, that the body didn’t really define us, that there was something else that defines us. I was trying not to be identified with my body and I was traveling at the time. I remember distinctly, I was going back East to see my family who are on the East coast. That is usually a ten hour trip if you count that trip to the airport, that trip back from the airport and a layover in Chicago – all that. So there is this whole process that you do when you travel. I also remember thinking that phrase, “Wherever you go, there you are.” I was realizing that truth when I did my daily meditation, “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.” (OrEd.WkBk.RvVI) I wasn’t going anywhere. I wasn’t going anywhere. Something was happening in this realm of the vision that was before my eyes, all these different images were changing. But images are always changing in front of your eyes. Right?

When I went within, I was still there just like I always was. Just like I always am. I’m not going anywhere ever. We are not going anywhere ever. And the Divine essence of who we are is not going anywhere either. We are not going anywhere; the divine is not going anywhere. Things seem to be changing in this visual field. Things are always changing in this visual field anyways, so what difference does it make? We are always centered in our perfect reality, in our perfect truth. We are not going anywhere, The Divine isn’t going anywhere. Something goes with us wherever we go. We go with us wherever we go. We actually go nowhere.

I started thinking, “What is this God thing? What is this Divine thing?” A Course in Miracles talks about God a lot but it never defines God. There are all these definitions of A Course in Miracles terms. There are all those “What Is” sections in the Workbook. There are fourteen of them. The Course talks about “What is Creation?” It talks about, “What is the Real World.” It talks about, “What is the Ego?” “What is a Miracle?” “What is the Christ?” It even does a, “What am I?” It never does a, “What is God?” There is no “What is God?” in any of the “What Is” sections. Considering how important God is in A Course in Miracles, you might think “they” would give us some clue as to what God is. 

Then there is also the Clarification of Terms in the back of the book. In the Foundation for Inner Peace book and in the Circle of Atonement book all kinds of terms that are used in A Course in Miracles are clarified, high level terms. They clarify Mind. They clarify Spirit. They clarify Holy Spirit. They clarify Christ. They clarify Jesus. They clarify Knowledge. However, There is no clarity about God, no discussion, no little essay, no little abstract on God – ever! They just leave it up to us. Yet, God goes with us wherever we go – without any very good definition of what God actually is. There are lessons that say to call upon the name of God. Of course the lessons never gives you what name to use – two lessons that talk about the name of God but never tell us what name God has. (See OrEd.WkBk.183-184) The Course leaves it a big open question. Maybe it’s supposed to be? The Course does tell us this, “Healing is but another Name for God.” (OrEd.WkBk.356) Okay “healing” is “another name.” What is the main name?

This is what I realized on this particular trip to Southern California. Something is going with me, but I definitely am not going anywhere. When I go within, I go to that same place, that same constant reality – eternal – that is always there. When I go within, when I meditate, when I pray, that same place, that’s God! The reality that is the truth about me, and about us, is Divine. It is the truth. It is something that I can at least use to feel God and to know God. 

I like in the reading this morning where it said, “... the separated ones have invented many ‘cures’ for what they believe to be the ills of the world.” (OrEd.WkBk.41.1) There are all these things that we do to keep us happy, or to keep us healthy. We think they will. I thought about travel as one of those things. I told everyone I was going on vacation. They all said, “Oh good! It’s going to be good for you to go on vacation.” I thought about that, “Really? Why do we believe that?” I was willing to accept that belief, because I was going on the trip, but is it good, really? What is that belief? I remember giving a whole sermon about that many years ago. 

We think these things, but do we really need any of it? I am happy to do whatever I am guided to go. However, if the Divine is in me, is me, goes with me wherever I go, and is always there whenever I center within – what difference does it actually make where I am or what I do? That said, I am happy to turn it all over to the Holy Spirit. I am happy for my trip to be a healing experience. But that thing, that big open God question, the Divine that is with us wherever we are is with us whether we think we are going somewhere or we think we are just here. It doesn’t really matter. There is a Divine presence; there is a God. There is something that goes with us wherever we go. It is an essence that A Course in Miracles keeps dancing around and I think purposefully and never really defines. 

A Course In Miracles says “Deep within you is everything that is perfect, ready to radiate through you and out into the whole world. It will cure all sorrow and pain and fear and loss because it will heal the mind that thought these things were real and suffered out of its allegiance to them.” (OrEd.WkBk.41.2) So that perfection is within us. It’s going with us wherever we go. We’re not actually going anywhere, because we are always there centered within that exact same reality – and it is us. We are as much God stuff as anything, as everything – as God. A Course in Miracles is clear it doesn’t want us to think that we created ourselves. If we think we created ourselves we get into a thought process that thinks we can define who and what we are. The Course wants us to accept our creation, that we were created with all that Divine essence. That Divine essence that is within us, that is always there, isn’t any less Divine than the Divine force that created us. We are as much God stuff as God is. In essence, we are an extension of God. We are God. Just don’t get caught in that loop that somehow thinks you created yourself.

In this lesson that we read earlier, “God goes with me wherever I go. ... You can never be deprived of your perfect holiness because it’s source goes with you wherever you go. You can never suffer because the source of all joy goes with you wherever you go. You can never be alone because the source of all life goes with you wherever you go. Nothing can destroy your peace of mind because God goes with you wherever you go.” (OrEd.WkBk.41.3) 

I realized over this trip that “Yes,” I was carrying the Divine with me. I was carrying God with me. I was God stuff and that I could always call upon that God stuff. It was always there. It was always accessible. Just go within. There it is. It never leaves. Just like we never go anywhere, it never goes anywhere. 

I got into more of the idea – more of a question. Instead of asking who God was, it was more like I was asking what God was? What is the God stuff? Because that stuff is me. I am that same stuff. I can’t understand, maybe intellectually, how the Divine extended itself to create, to create me. However, I do have access to the reality of what that Divine stuff is, because that stuff goes with us wherever we go. We don’t have to do anything. We don’t have to purify anything. We don’t have to work and meditate in order to access that truth about who and what we are. It is with us all the time. All we have to do is go within and find that peace.

We didn’t make ourselves but we can know ourselves. That was very comforting to me on my trip as I was listening to my GPS, getting re-navigated to other highways, over bridges, and around tractor trailer trucks. It helped with all those tension producing things, just to know that it doesn’t matter. The source of all holiness is within me. That means the Lawns of Heaven go with me too. We can have little external experiences of beautiful lawns, gardens, parks or wonderful, incredible, free museums of art on top of gorgeous hills with amazing views in all directions. That can be the Lawns of Heaven if we choose. We can experience the Lawns of Heaven any time, and anyplace, just by going in and remembering that we are God stuff. It is accessible and there, any time we go within. It never goes away and we don’t have to do anything to prepare ourselves to experience it. We are experiencing it all the time. 

I said there were all those “What is” sections in A Course in Miracles in the Workbook where the Course is defining things. If we are God stuff, then we could actually take the “What am I?” section, the last “What is?” which is actually a, “What am ...” “What am I?” We could take that and realize when the Course is talking about us, in our pure sense, it is talking about God as well. If we want to understand God, then we just need to understand and open to ourselves. That is why “Know thyself”3 is such an important idea. We know ourselves and that’s how we know God – because we are God stuff. We are God. It says, “I am God’s Son, complete and healed and whole, shining in the reflection of His Love. In me is His creation sanctified and guaranteed eternal life. In me is love perfected, fear impossible, and joy established without opposite. I am the holy home of God Himself. I am the Heaven where His Love resides. I am His holy sinlessness itself, for in my purity abides His own.” (OrEd.SpTp351.1)

We are: the totality of love perfected, the totality of fear impossible, the amazing bliss of joy without limit. We live: being the home for the Divine energy, being the Heaven that we think we are seeking, being the sinlessness that when we go within we can feel – that guiltlessness, that innocence, that purity. There is a purity when we go within. It goes with us wherever we go. It is God. God goes with us wherever we go because we are God and we can never be absent from ourselves.

That’s my talk for today. Thank you very much. (applause)

1. YouTube video "... Goes with Me Wherever I Go" go to the following link: http:/
2. YouTube video "The Lawns of Heaven" go to the following link: http:/
3. "Know thyself" is from ancient Greece, inscribed in the entrance of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

Rev. Tony Ponticello is CMC's 20th minister. He currently serves as the CMC's Executive Minister  (09.20.2018). He is also the President of the CMC Board of Directors. He was ordained by the CMC on Oct. 17, 1997.

Two Travelers on Giant World Map

© 2017 Community Miracles Center, San Francisco, CA – All rights reserved.

Rev. Tony Ponticello
c/o Community Miracles Center
POB 470341
San Francisco, CA 94147

This article appeared in the August 2017 (Vol. 31 No. 6) issue of Miracles MonthlyMiracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.

CMC's 30th Birthday Bash

Rev. Kelly Hallock is the Assistant Minister and Rev. Tony Ponticello is the Executive Minister of Community Miracles Center. On March 12, 2017, they addressed the congregation gathered in San Francisco at the Sunday Gathering. What follows is a lightly edited version of their talks.

Rev. Kelly Hallock

30th Birthday CakeGood morning! I am so excited. We have a lot of people here from Modesto. A couple of people were saying that it was hard to get up this morning and I was saying that too. Then I realized those from Modesto got up and drove two hours to get here. We are all in awe of you and that was amazing. We are glad to have you.

I was debating about what I wanted to share today because it's the Community Miracles Center's 30th birthday. It is a little weird for me. Normally, I would think that people would talk about all that the CMC has done. Then I remembered I have only been here for a little over a year. My history here at the CMC is very, very short compared to the history of the organization, the meetings and everything that has happened here. So I decided to talk a little bit about goals. I was unsure initially, but it was one of those things that I just felt Spirit guided me to. I decided to go and look up in the Original Edition, there is a way to search it online, the phrase "the goal." What is "the goal" that we are going for?

I know what goals I have for the CMC and I will talk about that later but what are "the goals" that A Course in Miracles talks about? It was interesting to research the phrase "the goal." The definitive form "the goal" only comes up a couple times in the Original Edition. Yet I really liked it when it did. I am going to share some of those with you and then relate them to us as the CMC goes into our next 30 years.

I was able to find and read all the quotes in the Original Edition and then find the matching quotes in the Circle of Atonement Edition. They were pretty close. Just give or take a word here or there. As an FYI, we just got a new shipment of these in (Rev. Kelly holds up a Circle of Atonement edition of ACIM). If you are looking for one of these let us know. Yes, I am doing my little sales plug. (laughter) If you want to get one I can bring them next week. They are $41.94 if you are not a CMC Supporting Member, and they are $37.75 if you are a member. That means I have done way too many orders when I know the prices from memory. (more laughter)

So about "the goal," A Course in Miracles says, "The goal of the curriculum, regardless of the teacher you choose ..." (OrEd.Tx.8.20) This to me relates to when the Course says this is one version of the curriculum. It is kind of saying no matter what version you are going with or teach, "The goal of the curriculum ... is to know thyself." "Know thyself." (OrEd.Tx.8.20) I thought, "My gosh that is a very trendy psychological phrase that a lot of us have heard – ‘know thyself'." I questioned what does the Course say about "thyself?" What does it say we are?

This is interesting because looking back, that was the first talk I gave at Community Miracles Center on the day I was ordained. I talked about one of my favorite verses in the Course that says "I am not a body. I am free.For I am still as God created me." (OrEd.WkBk.208) In that talk I looked at the Workbook lessons that were associated with that. It is the review for Lessons 201-220. Some of the things that those lessons say are: I am not a body – I already said that – I am free, I am free of time, I am free of limitation, I am free of sin. It gives a lot of different freedoms. I am holy, I am one with Him, and I am the beloved of God. Those are some of the things that I shared when I was ordained here at the CMC, What am I? I am all these things that God has created me as. It says, "God is but Love, and therefore so am I." (OrEd.WkBk.171-180 review) and "Love created me like itself. " (OrEd.WkBk.84.1) 

So what does that mean? How do I take "know thyself" and apply it to those concepts. "I am the Son of God." (OrEd.WkBk.114.2) "You are holy." (OrEd.WkBk.36.1) That is great to say. We all say we believe it, but how do we live it? The Course continues and says "Whenever you are with a brother, you are learning what you are. ... Never forget your responsibility to him because it is your responsibility to yourself. Give him his place in the Kingdom, and you will have yours." (OrEd.Tx.8.21) That is talking about looking at your brother, looking at your sister, and not judging them – not saying that they are bad, not saying they need to change. Looking at them. Looking at Marie. Looking at Shannon. Looking at Richard, Leslie and everybody here and saying "You are a holy son of God." And Rudy back there. Rudy is a holy son of God too. Here is where we start seeing that.

There are a lot of religious traditions out there where they encourage spending a lot of time in solitude. I have been on meditation retreats for 10 days when we were not allowed to speak. We were not allowed to gesture. We were not allowed to wave. We weren't allowed to do anything at all to acknowledge the other person.

The Course is saying "no" to that. How do you come to know yourself? You come to know yourself by seeing it in your brother. You come to knowing yourself by accepting what your brother is. The Course says "Let us not forget the goal that we accepted. It is more than just our happiness alone that we came to gain. What we accept as what we are proclaims what everyone must be along with us. ... Look lovingly on them that they may know that they are a part of you and you of them." (OrEd.WkBk.139.8-9) It continues on with the idea that it is about the relationships. It is about seeing your brother with love and there is also a responsibility to that. Some in the non-dualistic community will say that it is "Just me. I am just it. Everybody is one. I am just it so it doesn't matter." And yet, the Course is saying "yes," that is true. There is no separation. We are one – so look at your brother with love, extend love to your brother. If you say you are just going to enjoy yourself but don't give a rat's patootie who you hurt, you are actually hurting yourself. Then you are not looking at the oneness that is.

The Course encourages us to look at "The new beginning." It says "...these steps lead you from dreams of judgment to forgiving dreams and out of pain and fear ... So now we need to practice them awhile, until they are rules by which you live. We seek to make them habits now ..." (OrEd.Tx.30.1). I think that is the call for us as a community. We need to practice them awhile. How do we practice them? In relationship with each other. We see the beauty in each other. We see the holiness in each other. We encourage each other to forgive one another, we support each other in our spiritual journeys. It says in this passage in the Circle of Atonement Edition, "... adopted consciously each time you wake." I have a meditation I listen to each morning. Part of it is a commitment this day to choose to listen to the Holy Spirit instead of the ego. That is part of the process of coming to know thyself and a part is gathering here together. It was a conscious decision for us to take this hour today and say, "I am choosing to spend some time in community and to be in relationship with others. I am going to spend time listening to what Spirit has to say to me so that I can forgive and I can love." I don't know how that is going to fully look for CMC going forward, but I think that is where we need to go.

Look at developing relationships. Look at how we can support each other in our spiritual path. I have said before I love to meditate. I may be resuming the meditation class pretty soon. Come join in events like that. Come join the Monday class. You will find like-minded peeps in our Monday class, our Wednesday class, or Thursday, or whenever. Join people from this community who want to support you in your journey of learning forgiveness. Maybe you will go on a fellowship event with us. Maybe you hang out for cake afterwards today. I think we are going to do lunch after that. That is where we have to focus as a community to grow. Numerically our community will grow exponentially, once we grow exponentially internally. The healing comes from within ourselves. As we see it in our brothers who are here, then we can extend it outside of here.

I am going to turn the microphone over to our Executive Minister, Rev. Tony, who has been here for the last 30 years. He will share more on the history. (applause)

Rev. Kelly Hallock is CMC's 89th minister. She currently serves as the CMC's Asistant Minister  (10.28.2018). She is also the Treasurer of the CMC Board of Directors. She was ordained by the CMC on Sep. 13, 2015.


Rev. Tony Ponticello

The occasion of the birthday of the Community Miracles Center – thinking about it I found that I was pretty speechless. I didn't really know what to say. The energy was just that of gratitude. I am grateful. I am just so grateful for 30 years, three decades. For three decades I have had the same amazing job. As the reading said, "I seek a future different from the past." (OrEd.Wkbk.314) I don't want to focus too much on the past because that will make the future like the past. I want a future different then the past. I don't know where the CMC is going. What I feel in my heart is for sure that it is not going away. It is here and it is solid.

We seem in the large world of the A Course in Miracles community to have a greater and greater presence and a greater and greater voice. How will that look in the future? I am not really sure, and I don't want to be sure. I want to be open-minded because it will look in a way that I can't conceptualize. It will look grander and more glorious than I can conceptualize. So, I just want to release that. I seek a future different than the past.

I don't think I really could do a 30th without focusing on a few things. We have been producing our journal, Miracles Monthly. It used to be just called the Community Miracles Center Newsletter, for 30 years. Every year we produce a bound volume and those are here. Those are 29 years of Miracles Monthly. (Rev. Tony points to 29 bound volumes piled on the nearby bench. Volume 30 was still at the binders) We have three archival sets of these. This is just for your information. One exists in my home, one exists at the CMC office, one exists at our storage space on Bush Street in San Francisco. I am really, really proud of this accomplishment. We have produced a printed on paper magazine, journal, for over three decades. Actually, I did this for two years in the predecessor organization, and I brought those bound volumes here too. We have been doing this – I have been doing this – for 32 years actually. It is an amazing thing. Monday morning, tomorrow morning I will pick up bound volume 30. It is right now at the little print shop where they are binding it. I got the call that it is ready. I didn't have it for today. However I have enough there for you to look at. We will have another one, and we will send them to our Supporting Members who are our "Angels" and above. The bound volumes are just a wonderful archive.

I thought that 30th birthday would not be complete unless I had some acknowledgement of our co-founder Rev. Larry Bedini. This is the Miracles Monthly from April, 2010. It has a little article and pictures of him when he made his transition. Rev. Larry and I formed Community Miracles Center out of the ashes of another A Course in Miracles organization that I was involved with. We opened our doors to a Sunday Service on March 1, 1987. So, that is why we celebrate our 30th birthday in March. I had already been doing Sunday services with the other organization, but on March 1,1987, with Rev. Larry as a partner, we opened up as Community Miracles Center. So, that is what we are celebrating. I know that Rev. Larry would be really pleased. I know he is really pleased. I know he is here with us. Larry we are still here. We did it! Thanks for all your help from the other side.

I thought that it might be interesting. I am going to have these (the Miracles Monthly bound volumes) up here. We will have the cake up here also. This is the issue from February, 1995. It is when we ordained Rev. Linda. There is a picture of Rev. Linda and Rev. Jan who she was ordained with. I haven't heard from Jan in years – February, 1995. (Rev. Linda is in the audience.) This one cracks me up, you have to come up and take a look at this after. This was from Nov. 1995. That is Rev. Rudy and Rev. Brad when we ordained them in Nov. 1995 – so cute. (Rev. Rudy is in the audience.) One more to look at. This is from October 1997 and here is Rev. Dusa Althea Rammessirsingh when we ordained her in October, 1997. (Rev. Dusa Althea is in the audience.) That is why these Miracles Monthly are so great, because they have a record of all that.

To the people who will be here and carrying this organization forward after whenever – maybe Rev. Kelly and some of you whose years are fewer than mine – the one bit of wisdom I would want to empower you with is just keep showing up. Ninety percent of success is just showing up. No matter how dark and impossible it seems – and it will seem dark and impossible, it will – just keep showing up. Just find a way to keep the doors open and the Sunday Gatherings going. Just keep doing them because it just has a way of transforming and resurrecting itself if you just keep doing that. I have talked to a lot of people who tried to do something like what we are doing. They stop after awhile. What I see at a certain point is that it just got difficult and they got the guidance to stop. All I can say is that I never got that guidance. It really did seem difficult plenty of times, and I just kept going. I found a way. We found a way as an organization. A lot of that way now is with help from many people, certainly our Ministers and our great Board of Directors. Rev Rudy really helped with our last transition. We just rally and find a way to do it. So, you just never, ever give up.

The last thing I want to share is that one of the things that I do now, along with everything that I do. I am an Administrator on a very large Facebook group based on A Course in Miracles. Sharon Casey is here and she is an Administrator there with me. This is a great group but it is also a challenge because people in the group get really feisty. People get really triggered; people get really angry. A lot of things go on that seem like conflict. Then there are a lot of people who are conflict adverse and think we shouldn't be in conflict like that. Then there is conflict over the being in conflict. This spins around and around. People say we should have rules that would prevent this conflict. However I believe conflict in that type of group is inevitable. Actually conflict can be a positive form of communication if you don't judge the conflict as being bad. Conflict comes up because we have conflict in our minds and we are projecting it out there. You can't be so conflict adverse that you never allow conflict to come up. In the 30 years of the CMC, conflict has come up plenty of times. We just had to look at it, deal with it, try to resolve it, and not just brush it over like peanut butter on burnt toast.

I always remember Lesson 333. You know Lesson 333? If you know 666 is the sign of the devil, think of 333 as the sign of the Holy Spirit. "Forgiveness ends the dream of conflict here." (OrEd.WkBk.33) Listen here. This lesson is so important. "Conflict must be resolved. It cannot be evaded, set aside, denied, disguised, seen somewhere else, called by another name, nor hidden by deceit of any kind if it would be escaped. It must be seen exactly as it is, where it is thought to be, in the reality which has been given it, and with the purpose that the mind accorded it. For only then are its defenses lifted and the truth can shine upon it as it disappears." (OrEd.WkBk.333.1) You can't evade the conflict! You can't be so conflict adverse that you don't let the conflict come up. You've got to allow the conflict to come up so that you can resolve it. That is the only way. If I have learned anything with 30 years being the Executive Minister here I have learned this. You can't avoid the conflict. You have to let it come up.

The other thing – and one of the last things I wanted to talk about – I have been guided this year and I have talked about it – to really embrace that second quotation that we read, "Swear not to die, you holy Son of God!" "Swear not to die, you holy Son of God!"(OrEd.Tx.29.39) So hear this – I am not going to die! There, I just swore it. I am not going to die! Swear not to die. I am not going to interpret this passage so that it means something else. I am just going to sit with those amazing challenging words. I am going to do what it says which is state I am not going to die. So think about that and take that on. Don't just go "That means my body will go and my soul will live on." Yada, yada, yada. That is a bunch of crap. If it wanted to say that it would have said that. It just says swear not to die. This is the year that I am going to take those words and let them wash over me before I interpret them away to have them mean something else.

Last thing – we have always been small in number and we are a small gathering here today. We do have more people joining us on ACIM Gather and that is really good. Some people think about why. The whole A Course in Miracles community is moving in a certain direction and it is like a big ocean liner moving along. This is a Buckminster Fuller thing which I have always embraced. Buckminster Fuller was a visionary, motivational author, speaker I believe in the 1950s through the 1970s. He said when an ocean liner is moving through the ocean and it is being steered by a rudder. It is very hard to move the rudder. The rudder is in line with the movement of the ocean liner, and there is a lot of momentum and so it is difficult to change the direction of an ocean liner. But in the rudder there is a gear. The gear is called the trimtab and you can move the trimtab without that much force and without that much energy. Moving the trimtab just takes a certain amount of focus and an understanding of what you are doing.

The CMC has never been the rudder of the A Course in Miracles community but we have been the trimtab. We have been that little gear that helps move the rudder and steers the "ocean liner" which for this metaphor is the A Course in Miracles community. That just takes the few, really dedicated individuals that we have. So for all of you that are gathered here today, for those of you that are listening on ACIM Gather, or who may watch it on YouTube later, join us in spirit and in body in whatever way you can, because for 30 years CMC has been the trimtab, the little gear that is moving the big rudder of the A Course in Miracles community that is healing the world.

Happy Birthday CMC, thank you very much! (applause)

Rev. Tony Ponticello is CMC's 20th minister. He currently serves as the CMC's Executive Minister  (10.28.2018). He is also the President of the CMC Board of Directors. He was ordained by the CMC on Oct. 17, 1997.

30th Birthday Cake

© 2017 Community Miracles Center, San Francisco, CA – All rights reserved.

Rev. Kelly Hallock & Rev. Tony Ponticello
c/o Community Miracles Center
POB 470341
San Francisco, CA 94147

This article appeared in the February 2017 (Vol. 30 No. 12) issue of Miracles MonthlyMiracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.

Why We Gather on Sundays

On January 8, 2017, Rev. Tony Ponticello addressed the assembled people at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. This was the first service at their new San Francisco location at 875 Post Street. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that talk.

A Crack in the Cosmic Egg!Okay! Once again thank you so much for being here. Some acknowledgements are definitely in order. Let's give a nice round of applause to Rev. Rudy Colombini for all that he has done to make this new meeting space available ("Yeah!" and applause). I also want to mention that our wonderful music guest, Eki Shola1 has some CDs that she would love to have you take home – for a little contribution I am sure. (laughter) She also has a sign-up sheet so you can give her your name and email address. She can then notify you when she's playing. That would be terrific. I really encourage you all to go up and talk to Eki at the end of the service. She'll be playing another song for us a little later on. So, thank you very much and just avail yourself of all those things.   

The title of my talk today, "Why We Gather on Sundays." I want to start off with the "gather" part. It is very important for me. That word has really resonated with me in so many ways lately. It began when we started broadcasting our Sunday Gatherings on ACIM Gather2. We've been doing that for many months now and that is going very well. I want to say "Hi" and thank everyone on ACIM Gather. Thank you for listening. It is so great that you are out there listening. It is important just to remember how powerful it actually is to gather, to actually come together with other like-minded people. It's very powerful. For me, it's something I definitely need. A Course in Miracles is the discipline that we focus on at Community Miracles Center, although we are broad and focus on other teachings as well. A Course in Miracles talks about "gathering" in various places. 

In the Manual for Teachers it says this. It's talking about the different stages that we go through in the development of trust. "Now comes a ‘period of settling down.'" So that's one of the stages. "This is a quiet time in which the teacher of God …" That's us! "… rests a while in reasonable peace. Now he consolidates his learning. Now he begins to see the transfer value of what he has learned. Its potential is literally staggering." (OrEd.Mn.4.8) 

When we gather the potential, the power that we have, what we can access is beyond our wildest dreams. It's literally staggering. It makes us almost unsteady to have that much power to tap into. Then it says, "The teacher of God needs this period of respite." (OrEd.Mn.4.8) We need this little time to settle in, just to relax for a few moments. We need that period of time. "Yet when he is ready to go on, he goes with mighty companions beside him." When we gather, we gather with "mighty companions." We are all "mighty companions" with one another. We are strong partners for each other in the work that we have to do and in the maintenance of our own peace. "Now he rests a while and gathers them before going on. He will not go on from here alone." (OrEd.Mn.4.8) So while we are in this period of respite with our "mighty companions," it is important to understand that we are gathering these people and that when we go on to do the work that is here for us to do, we don't go on alone to do it. It's not a lonely journey from this point on, because we have gathered. We have grouped together our mighty companions. We are all that for each other. 

If you look at the picture on your program, you will see that the picture is one of the great historic gatherings of all times. It is Woodstock. And if you look at the picture here on the wall, there is another picture of this great gathering. It's another picture from Woodstock. Rev. Rudy tells me the picture is of Joe Cocker playing, right? (Rev. Rudy nods that this is correct.) This is Joe Cocker when he sang at Woodstock and the huge crowd that was listening3. I thought it was amazing that Rev. Rudy was inspired to put a picture on the wall of one of the greatest gatherings, historically, of all time. Woodstock had such a huge cultural impact on the world. Let's absorb that energy, share it now, and spread it. It's on your program here, and it's on the wall. It is so important to gather. It changes the world when we come together. When those with like minded thoughts, "... can get together and have three days of fun and music ..."4 you literally do change the world. 

A Course in Miracles also says this about the beginning of the year, and this is the beginning of the year, so I think it's important for us to remember this teaching, "So will the year begin in joy and freedom. There is much to do, and we have been long delayed. Accept the holy instant as this year is born and take your place, so long left unfulfilled, in the Great Awakening." (OrEd.Tx.15.112) 

That's what we do with the miraculous energy that we've connected with and with the mighty companions that we connect with when we gather. We take our place in the Great Awakening, not only for ourselves, our friends and family, our community – but for the whole world, really for the universe as a whole. That becomes our transcendent purpose. That becomes what we are here to do, be part of that Great Awakening. 

In another place A Course in Miracles, talks about the same thing, but it uses slightly different words. It says, "As you share my inability to tolerate lack of love in yourself and others, you must join the Great Crusade to correct it." (OrEd.Tx1.31) So this time it is calling the "Great Awakening" the "Great Crusade." It's the great crusade to correct lack of love, lack of love in ourselves – to identify when we don't feel centered in that love – and lack of love in others. We must identify all perceptions of lack of love and then ask Holy Spirit, "What can I do to be a healing influence in this situation that appears to be a lack of love, or fear, anger that someone else is experiencing?" How can I be a healing influence in that? That is the Great Crusade. That is the Great Awakening. That is what we are all taking part in. We are the mighty companions for each other to do that. I think this is very important to understand. It is for me. It's been important in my life. It's been what centered my life. Until we really accept our part in the Great Awakening and the Great Crusade, there's really nothing for us to do here. We are just spinning our wheels, off on little ego things that are going on.

I'm reminded of the teaching of Robert Bly, who was very instrumental for me many years ago. Robert Bly, for those of you who don't know, was a writer and a poet. He was very instrumental in the men's movement that began about twenty-five years ago. Iron John was originally published in 1990. Robert Bly wrote this seminal book that many people believe started the modern men's movement named Iron John. I remember reading Iron John, and I remember listening to the Iron John audio book. It was truly a book written for men and men's consciousness, but it can apply to everybody. One thing that I remember about Iron John is that men, everybody, go through a stage, usually in their adolescence and early lives, when they lack direction. 

Robert Bly equated that time to an American Indian, or a First Nation people cultural time, when the young adolescent boys didn't know what to do. They would roll around in the ashes, in their tents, in their wigwams or wherever. They laid down next to the tribes' fires and they rolled around in the ashes. They didn't know what to do with themselves. They usually were not clean. Robert Bly called this their "ashes time." That is where the expression "ashes time" comes from. We probably all go through our own ashes time. However when the adolescent eventually connects to a higher purpose, to a transcendent purpose, then the adolescents rise from the ashes. Then they arise into their full power and they became adult men with a transcendent purpose. Until you have a transcendent purpose, you are just rolling around in the ashes. I think that is true for me. I want to put that out here, at the beginning of the year. It's time for us, in whatever respect, to say goodbye to our ashes time – rolling around in the dirt the dust, and the ashes. It's time to really connect with our transcendent purpose, with that Great Awakening, with the Great Crusade. 

Another analogy about the ashes that I think is so important is the phoenix. The phoenix is a mythological bird with huge, tremendous powers. The phoenix periodically goes through a transformation which begins with a dissolution, when he/she loses his/her power and crumbles into disintegration or ashes. But then the phoenix, a new phoenix, always "... rises from the ashes." That's the expression. "The phoenix rises from the ashes." When the new phoenix rises from the ashes, the new phoenix has new powers that the old phoenix didn't possess. It has new powers to dedicate to its new transcendent purpose. This is why we're all here. The new powers of the phoenix are here for us to have. 

I would say that the Community Miracles Center is that phoenix. We are the phoenix that continues to rise up from the ashes. There have been many times, in our thirty year history, when we've gone through some difficult things, some things that felt like dissolution and disintegration. I remember specifically around 2009 and 2010, with Rev. Larry's illness and the attendant Board of Directors controversy. It seemed like things were in dissolution and disarray, but enough of the mighty companions – and you know many of you are those same mighty companions – enough of those mighty companions had connected with CMC's transcendent purpose. We arose from those ashes; we became stronger. We became mightier and more connected to the Great Crusade and the Great Awakening. That is what is happening to us now right too. There were the ashes and dissolution of 2269 Market Street5, the tremendous rise in rent and expenses, and it looked like, "What the hell are we going to do?" (laughter) But we held onto our transcendent purpose. We joined together and we saw what resources were here, and our people rose up. Rev. Rudy rose to the occasion to manifest a whole new reality for us, We have a new office now. Come and see our office at the corner of Union and Buchanan. Give us just a couple more days as it's almost set up. Rev. Kelly and I would love to see you, but don't stay too long because we are really busy. (laughter)

This rebirth is a reconceptualization of Community Miracles Center, a new visioning. It's CMC rising from the ashes. It's about a reconceptualization of our Sunday – what we used to be called a "Sunday Service," we are now calling a "Sunday Gathering." We've added live music every Sunday. Thank you Eki for being our first musician. (cheering) We're going classy so we've added Ritual Coffee. I don't know if you've had that coffee. That is considered the best commercial coffee in the world. It costs more than $20 per pound – Ritual Coffee. Go into any Ritual Coffee store and they will give you the rap about why it's the best coffee in the world. They don't over roast it. They say every other coffee in San Francisco is burnt which I agree with. So they don't over roast their coffee, and there's lots of other wonderful things about Ritual Coffee that I won't get into now. 

We have fresh croissants. We have organic fruit. Come! We are serving it early now instead of just after the Gathering, so come early. Chat with us! Be part of the early gathering that happens here on Sunday mornings, early! Really, share some food and fellowship! Then we have our Gathering here on Sunday. We have our new music. We have some inspiration from one of our many ministers and teachers. However all of this is really just the icing on the cake. The truth is the importance of the Sunday Gatherings are the holy relationships that we all have with each other, because we are healed through these relationships. We connect with our transcendent purpose through these relationships. We channel a tremendous amount of love, light, and energy through these relationships that we have. They are holy encounters. Every connection with somebody can be a holy encounter. I believe that is one of the most important quotes from A Course in Miracles. "When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose sight of yourself." (OrEd.Tx.8.19)

When Rev. Rudy first showed Rev. Kelly and I this space, he didn't tell us that he had that actual quotation on the wall. If you turn your heads you will see that huge print on the back wall. On that print Rev. Rudy put the holy encounter quotation. I said to myself, "The writing is on the wall. The writing is on the wall." (laughter). This space, seemed unusual, but it was beautiful. I thought, "This is going to be our space? This was going to be our space." We were going to make this space work. Look at it. It is beautiful. It is working. We've got stained glass! (laughter – The window in the new meeting area is actually a stained glass window). We have really gone cathedral here with stained glass. (more laughter) So that's why we gather. We gather to connect with this energy of Community Miracles Center because Community Miracles Center is dedicated to that Great Crusade and that Great Awakening. 

Now the title of this talk is "Why We Gather on Sundays." I want to get into that a little bit. We gather on Sundays because countless millions of other spiritual people, religious people, gather on Sunday. They are probably not our faith. Maybe their beliefs are very different from ours, but they are aspiring to their highest mind, the highest mind that they can aspire to. Maybe they are of the Jewish faith; maybe they are of the Muslim faith. Maybe they are Christian; maybe they are Buddhist. It doesn't really matter. There are countless people all around the world right now, or maybe a few hours before because of the circling of the globe, but right at this time, millions are connecting to their highest thought. 

All of those people connecting to that high, high thought cracks the cosmic egg that we look at. It cracks, and this allows more light to come in than would normally come in at other times. You cannot deny the power of countless millions of people gathering on Sunday right now. So that crack is wider now than it is at other times. So that's why we gather on Sundays, to experience the light and the love that is coming in through that wide crack. I love that analogy of the crack. 

I first heard about this crack many, many years ago with a book that was written in 1971 by Joseph Chilton Pearce named The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, a very seminal book. I read it. It was very influential in my life. I found out that he just made his transition this year. He was 90 years old. Joseph Chilton Pearce, in that book, talks about how we each are a consciousness that is surrounded by this egg like thing. The interior of the egg shell is a mirror. It's only a mirror. Sound familiar? So we look at it, we look out, and we see only ourselves. We just see ourselves. We don't understand that there is this whole other reality outside of the egg. But there is a part of our mind, at times, that does understand this. That part of our mind puts little cracks here and there in the surrounding egg at different times. You have got to start looking for the cracks. That is what you've got to do. You start looking for the cracks, and then you expand them. You let more light in. That is what I believe. I read this book a long time ago, but I believe that is the major teaching of that book. 

Sunday gatherings – because of that combined thought held by countless millions of people – that's a big crack. That's why we especially gather on Sundays, because of the wide crack that is produced by all of those wonderful, spiritual minds thinking the highest thoughts that they could possibly think.

I also like the crack analogy because there's a famous song by Leonard Cohen which is named "Anthem," which he recorded in 1992. That is twenty-four years ago. I sang that song at the 2007 A Course In Miracles Conference in San Francisco, if you remember. Well actually my "sister" Rev. Antoinette  sang it. (laughter) Leonard Cohen just transitioned a month or so ago. I love Leonard Cohen. He's been a force in my life for decades and decades.

In the song, "Anthem," he says "There's a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." He uses that analogy. It doesn't matter that we are not perfect. It might not matter that this meeting space isn't the perfect space. The imperfection of it is the crack. That's the crack. That's the beauty. That's what is letting the light in. There is no perfection here in this world, but the imperfection itself is the beauty and is the light. "There's a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Thank you, Leonard. I've always loved Leonard. Leonard Cohen, as you may know always wore a fedora when he performed. I wear a fedora too. I want you to know that I started wearing a fedora before Leonard started –  he copied me.

On Sundays, there's a big crack. That is why we gather on Sunday. All those shared thoughts, "Thoughts increase by being given away. The more who believe in them, the stronger they become. Everything is an idea." (OrEd.Tx.5.8) That's what we do here on Sundays. That's what the Community Miracles Center always does. ("Woohoo!") That's what we are going to do every Sunday now at 875 Post Street in San Francisco – every single Sunday. We are going to widen that crack. We are going to let more light in. That's why we gather on Sunday and,  know it or not, that's why all of you gathered here today, this Sunday, January 8, 2017. Thank you very much for being here this first Sunday at our new home. Thank you! I love you! (applause)

1. Eki Shola had played 2 songs earlier in the Gathering. www.ekishola
2. ACIM Gather is a room/channel on PalTalk, an internet based, audio chat/radio service. To join PalTalk go to: < >. After you join search for the ACIM Gather room and listen to our Sunday Gathering LIVE every Sunday at 11 a.m. Pacific.
3. It is estimated that between 400,000 to 5000,000 people attended the Woodstock music festival.
4. This quote is from the farmer Maz Yasgur's famous speech at Woodstock. The festival was "saved" at the last minute because Mr. Yasgur agreed it could happen on his farm land after the rights to have it in Woodstock, NY were revoked. The Woodstock concert was not held in Woodstock, NY.
5. 2269 Market Street, San Francisco CA was the address for the old CMC office and meeting space that was left on December 31, 2016. CMC was at 2269 Market Street for more than 29 years.

Rev. Tony Ponticello is CMC's 20th minister. He currently serves as the CMC's Executive Minister  (09.03.2018). He is also the President of the CMC Board of Diretors. He was ordained by the CMC on Oct. 17, 2097.

A Crack in the Cosmic Egg!

© 2017 Community Miracles Center, San Francisco, CA – All rights reserved.

Rev. Tony Ponticello
c/o Community Miracles Center
POB 470341
San Francisco, CA 94147

This article appeared in the January 2017 (Vol. 30 No. 11) issue of Miracles MonthlyMiracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.

The Way Water Flows

On January 29, 2017, Rev. Tony Ponticello addressed the assembled people at the Community Miracles Center Sunday Gathering in San Francisco, CA. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that talk.

Flowing Water StreamOkay! Once again, thank you so much for joining us. I'm very happy that you are here! Thank you all on ACIM Gather, and thank you all who are watching this on YouTube! It's great that you are doing that. We always love getting your comments that you post after you watch on YouTube. So thank you all.

This is the last week in January, and I feel that I am through the holidays now. I got through the holiday excitement and chaos that existed. One of the things that people like to do, and that I actually like to do, is set resolutions and goals at the beginning of the year. What I have learned is that it works a little better for me to wait to get through the holiday madness, the holiday energy. Then I am a little more centered, maybe peaceful, and can then better tune into the Holy Spirit. I can set my goals and resolutions with the Holy Spirit's guidance. I don't want to set them from my chaotic ego mind.

A Course in Miracles says the first thing to consider very simply is "‘What do I want to come of this? What is it for?' The clarification of the goal belongs at the beginning." (OrEd.Tx.17.58) What do I want to come of this year? What is this year for?

Also going on for the Community Miracles Center, Rev. Kelly, and myself – starting at the end of the last year and going into this new year – the Community Miracles Center was moving. We moved from our office that we had been in for 30 years. We moved out of the space that we had been having meetings in for 30 years. That of course added to the hecticness, or the chaos, of the activity. When we did that, because we were moving into a much smaller office space, I had to go through everything from our big office space, all the files in all the file cabinets, and get rid of things. 

That included a tremendous amount of paper documents that we had been accumulating for 30 plus years. You can imagine the amount of paper work that an organization that is this active would have accumulated. I brought several loads in my car packed full of papers to the recycling place down in the Hunter's Point area of the city. We also packed our recycling cans full, full, full for weeks and weeks and weeks. There was a tremendous amount of paper that we threw away. I went through everything to make sure I wasn't throwing anything important away, but also just to complete the experience of it all. That was wonderful for me. It was very relieving for me. I got to complete certain things and say, "Okay, I am done with that." 

When I think about what this year is going to be about, what I keep getting is to truly challenge myself with some of the more difficult teachings of A Course in Miracles, especially the teaching that says there is no death and that the son of God is free. I want to embrace teachings that really talk about how we are not our aging bodies. The only reason why our body goes through this aging process that seems to end in death is because of thoughts that we are having, but A Course in Miracles implies that a different experience can be had. I don't know if that means physical immortally, but I certainly want to not limit my bodily experience to a life that has this certain course where it gets older, begins to lose vitality, and then eventually it passes. I want to really open myself up to other experiences. 

Maybe you have been listening to some of the recent teachings when I have talked about this. I have challenged the idea of death, and that we have to go through these death experiences, certainly the way they seem to be. Some people have been communicating with me and they challenged me on this. One person in particular said if you looked at all of the perennial wisdoms, all the world's great philosophies and religions, you don't find anything in them that talks about physical immortality. First of all, I didn't think I was talking about physical immortality. I was implying that I am at least open to the possibility. I don't know what there is, and I don't want to limit the bodily experience to what I know. This person said that if you look at the perennial wisdoms, none of them have that idea. A Course in Miracles is one of the profound perennial wisdoms, and he thought that I was misinterpreting it, thinking that I was leaning towards the physical immortality idea. 

That got me thinking about perennial wisdoms and perennial philosophies that I have studied. Does A Course in Miracles fit into them? That is the idea that I am going to challenge us with. I am going to put the idea on the shelf for just a minute while I talk about a perennial philosophy that had been very significant for me. The one that I truly embraced, it was probably my first real spiritual program that I embraced, was the study of the Tao Te Ching. I studied the Tao Te Ching for many years when I was in my late twenties. Now the Tao Te Ching is spelled T-a-o T-e C-h-i-n-g. Some people see name and pronounce this like a "T," and some people pronounce it as a "D." The truth is that Chinese does not differentiate between "T" and "D," so you really have to try to aim in between those two sounds so it is Tao Te Ching. You can think about that and practice that. If you can get that right you can sound like a Chinese person because you will be using the "T-D" sound. 

The story of how Tao Te Ching was written is a myth. It was written about 600 years before the birth of who we think of as Jesus, or the Common Era now, by a man named Lao Tzu. That will give you a little bit of history. The myth is – and there is no way that any of this can be proven – but the myth of Taoism, Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching is this. Lao Tzu was the librarian of the royal court for the king. As the librarian, of course, Lao Tzu was literate. Lao Tzu could read and a lot of the people in that era, 600 years before the Common Era, could not read. Therefore Lao Tzu had access to all the great wisdom that was there to be had. He was said to be a very wise man himself, and people came to him for council. The king came to Lao Tzu for council on how to rule the land. Apparently Lao Tzu gave the king a lot of wise council over the years. The king and others kept asking Lao Tzu, as he became older, to write down his wisdom so that when he made his transition the wisdom of Lao Tzu would be preserved. Lao Tzu always refused this and said he would not do it because it could not be written down. But at a certain point when Lao Tzu was older and received the guidance to go off and make his transition wherever – to live the last part of his life in a different way – Lao Tzu finally acquiesced and wrote down the wisdom that he had. What Lao Tzu finally wrote down were 81 short, almost "poem-like" essays. They were very short, and that is what the Tao Te Ching is. It is the collection of these 81 little poems. 

The thing to remember is that Lao Tzu was also writing these essays specifically for the king. So in them there is a lot of teaching about how to be a wise ruler. There are other teachings in there, but it is definitely geared toward how to be a wise ruler. One of the great quotations from the Tao Te Ching, which a lot of people know, is that great governing of a nation is like cooking a small fish. Too much handling will spoil it. So a lot of the teaching of Taoism is about giving things a light touch. Don't over do it; step back a bit. Give it a light touch. 

 "Tao," the word itself, means "the way" but it also means more than that. It is the way of the totality and the way of the divine, though they probably wouldn't use that word. The word "Tao" actually becomes synonymous with the divine, but also implied with Tao is this flow. This will, this flow, is there always. You always should remember this aspect of Tao when you think about it – this flow. It is like the way a stream flows, or a river flows. "Te" itself means virtue, and "Ching" means great book. So it is the flow, the way of virtue. This is the great book that teaches that, the Tao Te Ching way, the flow. Our own vernacular of the idea of "go with the flow" is actually a very Taoist idea. When you go with the flow you don't fight the current.

So getting back to this idea of perennial philosophies and perennial wisdoms. What exactly does that mean? It refers to this idea which I looked up. "Perennialism, is a perspective in the philosophy of religion which views each of the world's religious traditions as sharing a single, metaphysical truth or origin from which all esoteric and exoteric knowledge and doctrine has grown." (Wikipedia) Perennialism was made popular by a book written by Aldous Huxley in 1945 titled "The Perennial Philosophy" where he popularized this idea. It had been around but he popularized it – that all the world's religions, when you go to their core, have all been inspired by the same revelation. We have accepted this, and it is very spiritually correct to say this. If you say this everyone will nod nicely – that all the world's religions come from this same inspiration. The trouble with this is I don't think it is true. It also leads to some practices that are probably pretty questionable. Maybe it is true in an absolute sense, but that absolute sense is so hard to connect to, that it becomes not a very practical thing and not a very practical idea. It is something to think about.

I did want to read one of the little poems in the Tao Te Ching. This is Chapter 25 and it says.

"There is a thing, a gathering which existed prior to heaven and earth,
Silent, empty, existing by itself, unchanging,
Pervading everywhere, inexhaustible.
It might be called the mother of the world.
Its name is unknown. I simply call it Tao.
If I were to exert myself to define it I would call it great.
Great means extended to the limitless.
Extending to the limitless means reaching to the extreme distance.
Reaching the extreme distance means returning to nearness.
Thus Tao is great, heaven is great, earth is great, and the king is great too."

That is a typical chapter in the Tao Te Ching. For several years, around 35 to 40 years ago, I called myself a Taoist. That was the spiritual discipline I embraced. This was when I moved to San Francisco. When I moved to San Francisco the only book I brought with me was this particular edition of the Tao Te Ching that I had in my backpack on the plane. (Rev. Tony holds up his well-worn, and faded brown, paperback edition of the Tao Te Ching.) I still have this same book. It is the only book I brought with me. I moved here very light, because I was a Taoist. I was living lightly on the land, two suitcases and a backpack. I was a minimalist which Taoist frequently are, and I lived simply or I at least tried to live simply. It served me very well for many many years. 

I probably wouldn't have been able to move to San Francisco with just two suitcases and a backpack had I not been a Taoist. I was practicing with the idea of being a minimalist. I was going with that flow of thought. I came here with very little money. I came here with probably a couple of a hundred dollars in my wallet. I knew no one. I only had a place to stay for a couple nights with friends of friends who I really didn't know. I had two thousand dollars in a bank account that I was going to have wired to me after I had set up a bank account here in San Francisco. I didn't have access to that two thousand dollars for about two weeks. I just lived off the couple hundred dollars. It was a "ballsy" thing to do. Being a Taoist served me at that time, but I don't consider myself a Taoist anymore. I am not going with the flow. I don't consider that I go with the flow. I actually think I go against the flow. I am not going the way the water flows. I think I am doing something else. 

How does the water flow? The way the water flows means we have to look at how we live our lives. Let's do something secular. How do we live our lives in the terms of our relationships, in the terms of love? What do we do when we want more love in our lives? Well, most people would say you have to be vulnerable. In other words, you have to be open to being hurt possibly. You have to open yourself up to pain. People have difficulty doing that so they shut themselves down. They are not vulnerable and so they do not have love in their lives. This a very common thought of the world. This is the way relationships flow in the world. 

A Course in Miracles has a very different thought. A Course in Miracles is teaching us to love without ambivalence. Love without that idea that there is an attendant amount of vulnerability that is needed, that there is an attendant amount of pain or fear that might be around, circulating around the love. Generally, we open ourselves up to be vulnerable and then we find somebody – someone or sometimes some things – that don't appear to cause us too much pain. And they don't, usually in the beginning. Then we embrace those things. We think that these must be the chosen ones, because we are not feeling the pain, and we were vulnerable. However, inevitably because we were defending against the pain, pain comes into our experience at some point. 

A Course in Miracles tells us "No one considers it bizarre to love and hate together, and even those who believe that hate is sin merely feel guilty and do not correct it. – This is the ‘natural' condition of the separation, and those who learn that it is not natural at all seem to be the unnatural ones." (OrEd.Tx.16.44-45) If you love like A Course in Miracles tells you to love, you are going to seem unnatural. That is because you are going against the flow of the way society, the world, generally sees love. It isn't just about how you love and how many you love. It is about the attitude that we hold for love itself – that love is just this joyful, wonderful, happy, simple, natural thing that you don't have to be vulnerable for. You just have to be open to, and indulge in. You jump in the water, and splash around in it. It is like that. You know there is an old song that I love. We will be singing it later on. It was by Foreigner and it's called "I Want to Know What Love Is." Mariah Carey popularized it a few years ago. I think it talks about that idea. It says:

"In my life there's been heartache and pain.
I don't know if I can face it again.
Can't stop now, I've traveled so far,
To change this lonely life.
I want to know what love is
I want you to show me."

I want a different kind of experience of love that doesn't have this attendant fear, anger, and pain that we are always defending ourselves from and that we have to be vulnerable to experience. We think we know we are going to be hurt, and then we are going to shut down at some point as we get older. It is all those attendant ideas that are the flow we need to go against. Yes, we need to go against that flow. That flow is not healthy. My life is not like cooking a small fish. It just really isn't. If I clung to Taoism because it served me well 37 years ago, it would be like clinging to all those papers at the 2269 Market St. office that I went through and threw out. 

I think it has been really good for me to review Taoism. There are certainly a lot of good things in that teaching. However I don't believe that all those perennial philosophies are actually the same, or that this is a practical idea to hold. In many ways these philosophies are very, very different. We have to embrace what A Course in Miracles teaches, not what all the other philosophies teach. It might be good to know what they teach and to see what is useful, but we've got to embrace one. That is part of the problem in putting too much emphasis on the perennial wisdom, perennial philosophies idea, because it makes them all the same so why bother to really devote yourself to one. They are all the same, right? 

I think it fosters a lazy spirituality. I don't have to do the work because they are all going to the same place so it doesn't really matter. It does matter and they are not all going to the same place. A Course in Miracles has a lot of teaching about doing stuff, not going with the flow, being on the Great Crusade, being a part of the Great Awakening. It's about disrupting the flow. A Course in Miracles says "You are not making use of the course if you insist on using means which have served others well, neglecting what was made for you." (OrEd.Tx.18.68) If A Course in Miracles is your path, and was made for you, then you have to engage in it. You have to use those means. Don't use means just becasue they have served others well. Allow those means to serve the others. Don't use means that served you well years ago if they are not right for you now. 

I am not going to devote myself to Taoism. It served me well 38 years ago. It wouldn't serve me well now. It served me well when I didn't know what Holy Spirit wanted for my life. I would set goals with my ego mind, and Taoism served me well in that consciousness. I don't do that anymore. I set goals with the Holy Spirit's guidance. Sometimes you need to think big and sometimes you need to go against the flow. 

Perennial philosophy is a kind of reductionism. You reduce everything to its lowest common denominator and that is the trouble. It is the lowest form of spirituality you can probably get, and it is not going to take you very far. At a certain point you do something else. I talk to people about A Course in Miracles and that there are 365 daily lessons designed to do one a day. Then some people say, "Reduce it down to one lesson for me." They want the one lesson to do, but there isn't one lesson, there are 365 of them. I could sum it up or say something profound. It's just not there. 

Go with the flow, live lightly, rule with a gentle hand. I question that. The flow is flowing you right to disillusion and death. You do not want to go with that flow. The way water flows is right into the sewer! You do not want to necessarily go with that flow. You want to change the flow. You want to be the Tao that is guided by Spirit. This will have the current that you move it into. You want to be the movement. You certainly don't want to be the Tao that is reflected in nature. Nature is trying to kill us. Also the way water flows is not always a gentle stream. Sometimes water in a stream flows right into the rocks, and sometimes that creates a lot of white water and rapids. Sometimes there are huge violent waterfalls. So the way water flows is maybe not as idyllic as we might think. There is an eternal Tao that you want to connect with. You need to connect to that flow. Don't look for it out in the world though. Don't look to the world to teach you what that is. You have to go within, connect with that Tao within.

It is January and it is time to think about what we want this year to be about. Go within and find the Tao that is there within. Don't be the way the water flows. Be the flow; be the water. Go within. Chart your own course. Create your own flow. You are the Tao. (applause)

1. ACIM Gather is a channel on PalTalk, an interative internat based radio system. For more information, go to
2. The CMC You Tube channel an be accessed at

Rev. Tony Ponticello is CMC's 20th minister. He currently serves as the CMC's Executive Minister  (09.20.2018). He is also the President of the CMC Board of Directors. He was ordained by the CMC on Oct. 17, 1997.

Flowing Water Stream

© 2017 Community Miracles Center, San Francisco, CA – All rights reserved.

Rev. Tony Ponticello
c/o Community Miracles Center
POB 470341
San Francisco, CA 94147

This article appeared in the February 2017 (Vol. 30 No. 12) issue of Miracles MonthlyMiracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.

Don't Be Conflict Averse

On August 7, 2016 Rev. Tony Ponticello addressed the assembled people at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that talk.

Woman Avoiding ConflictThank you all for being here! Woohoo! Hat off for mom. (Rev. Tony takes off his fedora and puts it on the piano behind him.) Ok. My talk today is "Don't Be Conflict Averse." Do not be conflict averse. That's not conflict "adverse," that's conflict "averse." Being conflict averse is a term that is used in business and psychology. It means that you shouldn't feel that you need to avoid conflict. You shouldn't feel that you always have to get away from conflict quickly. Don't be averse to it. "Averse" is an adjective that means, "... having a strong dislike of, or opposition to, something." 

This actually seems antithetical to some spiritual people. Some A Course in Miracles people think we should avoid conflict. We shouldn't be in conflict if we're practicing A Course in Miracles. It's about getting out of conflict, isn't it? Well, to get out of conflict, sometimes you have to walk into it. If you don't walk into it, if you are constantly trying to avoid conflict, then it's a problem. It's not actually healthy to continually try to avoid conflict. We have to walk through conflict. We have to resolve it. We're not going to resolve it unless we walk straight into it and not be so strong in our dislike of it. It's actually a very bad thing, in business especially, to be conflict averse. If you have some conflict going on with your employees, your staff, you have to address it. You have to look at it. You have to talk about it. You have to figure out what the problem is. Then you have to do something to correct the problem. If you don't do that, the problem will just fester, build and then cause larger problems later on.

It's also true especially in relationships. If you are in a relationship with a friend or an intimate, and there is some conflict coming up, you can't be averse to that. You have to actually look at that, talk about it, and confront it. It's true here at the Community Miracles Center. It's true here at our church. It's true with our Board of Directors. When we have some conflict going on, we have to talk about it. We have to state the issue; we have to discuss it. We have to look at it. We have to see what's going on there. And that's what is so important about that lesson our Reader read, Lesson 333. This is usually a lesson that most A Course in Miracles people don't really like all that much. They try to ignore, pretend it isn't really there.

"Conflict must be resolved. It cannot be evaded, set aside, denied, disguised, seen somewhere else, called by another name, nor hidden by deceit of any kind if it would be escaped. It must be seen exactly as it is, where it is thought to be, in the reality which has been given it, and with the purpose that the mind accorded it. For only then are its defenses lifted and the truth can shine upon it as it disappears." (OrEd.WkBk.333.1)

So, we have to look at our conflict. We have to confront it. We can't be averse to it, because confronting our conflict is the only way we are going to lift our defenses to it. That's the only way the truth is going to shine on our conflict, and that's the only way our conflict is going to actually be able to disappear. I had a woman, an intimate partner, for about eight years and she was very fond of saying, "Conflict is a positive form of communication." She had learned that in some psychology course or somewhere like that. I didn't really realize how much she actually meant it though, because for the last few years of our relationship we were frequently in conflict. But it was a positive thing. It was something that we had to do.

I currently am an Administrator of a very large Facebook A Course in Miracles discussion group – a Facebook group with more than 11,000 members. I was made an Administrator there by the good graces of the creator of the group, who had been thinking about making me an Administrator for almost a year before she finally did it. She needed some help administrating the group. When you have a large group like that, you have to approve members, and you have to monitor the posts. People do all kinds of things in large groups like that. Once groups get large like that people think they can put ads on it. They, for some reason, want to spam it with pornography, or some very violent images. People do amazing, strange, and weird things. It is almost like a form of digital "vandalism" sometimes, or just simple commercial promotion.

Banner for ACIM Facebook Group

You need to have Administrators who have the control to delete posts and the power to approve members, so she made me an Administrator. Her name is Diana and I really thank her for that. It's a large A Course in Miracles group and as these groups frequently do, we have stated guidelines and rules that we try to make people function with. I really liked the guidelines this group had as it was very open. The group just wanted to make sure the discussions always focused on A Course in Miracles and were not too commercial. Aside from those you could pretty much do anything. Which is great! The group didn't mind if you talked about the different versions of A Course in Miracles. The group didn't mind if you talked about topics that sometimes cause quite a bit of controversy. So, this group can actually be quite contentious at time. Contentious. It's an adjective. "Causing or likely to cause an argument or to be quite argumentative." This group has arguments in it at times. It can actually be quite contentious sometimes.

I encourage all of you who could stand that to join this group. It's great!And I could actually use some support there at times. It's just named A Course in Miracles. If you just go on Facebook and sort for a group called  A Course in Miracles. The masthead has an images that states, "Life has a way of reflecting your views," and then there is a mirror image of that line like it was reflecting on water. If you ask to join that group I will approve you. You can be on that group. Remember, the group is contentious at times and people get in arguments around it, but we allow that. We don't stop that. In many groups they don't allow that, but in this group we do allow that. Therefore, we can talk about very controversial topics. We can talk about sexuality. We had this huge discussion about rape one time. That was contentious. We are currently discussing politics quite a bit, because currently politics are going on in the world. Some people don't like that we talk about these things. They really, really don't like it, because it creates too much conflict – and they are conflict adverse. They don't want that conflict and they think we really shouldn't discuss topics that bring up that kind of energy.

How can you avoid those kinds of topics? That's the world. I think it's really strange that we live in a world where all these things are going on but yet we think our spiritual discipline shouldn't be involved with discussions about them. When we are, when we're talking about these topics, it creates too much conflict. These people believe our spirituality should only bring peace, and it shouldn't bring conflict. So there's inherently something wrong with having these types of discussions in a group like this. But I don't think so. I think these are the types of conversations we have to have. We need to learn to apply our spiritual discipline to every area of our lives: in our relationships, in our intimate lives, in our sexual behavior, in our politics. That's where our minds are a lot of the time. That's where the issues in our lives are. We have to be able to discuss these things. We have to be able to apply our spiritual discipline to these things. I think it's very good to have a place where those discussions can take place. So again, I encourage you to find that group and join me there.

A Course in Miracles tells us that we are on this great crusade. It says, "…you must join the Great Crusade to correct it. The slogan for the Crusade is ‘Listen, learn and do': Listen to my voice, learn to undo error, and do something to correct it. The first two are not enough." Okay. So "listen" and "learn" are not enough. You need the "do" part and then there is something interesting. I quote this a lot. "The real members of my party ..." this is Jesus talking, so the real members of Jesus' party, "... are active workers." (OrEd.Tx.1.31) They are active doers. If you are going to be an active doer out there in the world – if you are going to bring this message to the world in whatever way you get the opportunity to do that – then there is going to be conflict. The world generally does not want to hear the healing message from A Course In Miracles. If the world wanted to hear the Course message, the message would be in the world much more than it is. So, we bring this message to the world. But the world resists it, and that causes conflict. If we are so conflict averse that we can't handle that, then we won't be doing the work that Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, or the Divine, wants us to do. 

A Course in Miracles says "All the separated ones have a basic fear of retaliation and abandonment .… Many thought that I was attacking them, even though it was quite apparent that I was not. An insane learner learns strange lessons." (OrEd.Tx.6.70) If Jesus is calling us to be like him, then many are going to think we are attacking them when we bring this message to the world. Even though in our minds, it is apparent that we are not. So nothing has gone wrong if when being a spokesperson for the Holy Spirit, for Jesus, you encounter conflict. That doesn't mean you made a mistake. It may actually mean that you are doing exactly what the Holy Spirit or Jesus wants you to do. 

Here's another quote. "What you must understand . . ." I always like it when A Course in Miracles uses terms like "must." That means we must understand what it is going to say next. It is English after all. So what it says is, "What you must understand is that when you do not share a thought system, you are weakening it. Those who believe in it therefore perceive this as an attack on them." (OrEd.Tx.6.71) If we don't share the thought system that we are bodies and that the world is real – if we don't share the thought system that we have a limited life – and we are trying to teach a thought system that life is unlimited, that we are spirits and that we are not actually bodies then all those who believe firmly in body and world – which is still a vast majority of people – are going to perceive that we are attaching them. And so, we we'll get into conflict if we are doing what A Course in Miracles is telling us to do. Our message is not necessarily going to be welcome. 

That took me a very long time to understand. I thought our message would be the "good news," because to me it seems like good news, but it is difficult for a lot of people to accept these ideas. They are fully entrenched in the idea of a limited physical reality life. So, we're telling people – or we're telling ourselves since the people we encounter are just a reflection of ourselves – that we are eternal and infinite. But a lot of people just plain don't want to hear that. Even a lot of A Course in Miracles students still don't really want to hear that. A lot of A Course in Miracles students, a lot of spiritual students, I think are just looking for something that will help them feel a little bit better as they walk steadily on to disintegration and death. (laughter) They just do. A lot of people study A Course in Miracles so they can be a little bit happier in the world as they go along, age, and do the things they think that bodies do. Eventually they die, and isn't there a way to feel a little better about that whole process? 

Well I am sure there is. I'm sure A Course in Miracles can be used in that way too, but I think it's really calling us to something much larger than that. It's calling us to really be manifesting a world where eternal life is reflected. I actually think that our ministry with: A Course in Miracles, Community Miracles Center, what we do, our ministers, our staff at the Conferences, we are really a group of people who are bringing a different message. Our message is not only that we can just feel a little bit better while walking steady on towards disintegration and death, but really a message that says we don't have to age and die as it seems to be out there in the world. We can actually bring an entirely new reality into manifestation, a reality that reflects the eternality of our true selves.

I think that's what we have here. We are developing this cadre of miracle workers. I love that word, "cadre." It's a small group of people specially trained for a particular purpose or profession. We are a group of people especially trained for a particular purpose or profession. That purpose or profession is to bring the good news of eternal life, and a newly manifested world that would more closely reflect that, to the current world and we can't really assume that this message is going to be embraced in a positive way. A lot of people are going to fight our message. I encountered this recently with the Conference finale that I did at the Las Vegas Conference in April. I was trying to bring a different message. I think I did it very effectively, but a certain percentage of people attacked me for that. There is still some of this going on. That surprised me a little bit, but I'm not as conflict averse as I used to be. I can walk through this conflict and even embrace it, even though a bit of this reaction was difficult.

A Course in Miracles says that if we follow Holy Spirit's guidance, we have to be willing to do this and walk through seeming terror sometimes. This idea that A Course in Miracles is this great path towards inner peace – yes of course it is, yet it says things like this, "Yet God can bring you there if you are willing to follow the Holy Spirit through seeming terror, trusting Him not to abandon you and leave you there." (OrEd.Tx.18.87) If we are that active, cadre of miracle workers we need to be able to follow the Holy Spirit through the seeming terror as we divest people of their fantasy of bodily life. We are going to get push-back; people are going to push back against us. Now the thing is some people might think, "Well I don't really want to embrace that mission in my life. Maybe that's great for Rev. Tony, and maybe that's even great for the ministers at Community Miracles Center, but I don't really know if that is for me. Feeling a little better going through this life feels like a pretty good goal to me."

What I want to say is that you really don't have a choice. You really don't have a choice about that. You can't decide to accept your mission or not. You can only decide that you will accept it now. If don't accept it now, then you will accept it later. There really isn't a choice about the mission itself. The only choice A Course in Miracles tells us we have is when we are going to accept it. We can delay if we want to, but I would really recommend that we don't delay because we are just going to cause ourselves a lot of heartache. Inevitably, eventually we will all answer this call.

We will all work to bring this message to the world. If we don't do it, it's only going to bring us more discomfort than we already have. A Course in Miracles says, "Discomfort is aroused only to bring the need for correction forcibly into awareness." (OrEd.Tx.2.68) I like that word "forcibly." It is not in the Foundation for Inner Peace version of the book. It's in the Original Edition and the other earlier edits. They took out the word "forcibly." Think about that. If we don't do what Jesus or the Holy Spirit wants us to do, more and more discomfort comes into our lives forcibly. There is a discomfort force that is going to happen if we don't accept our mission. Think about that quote that our Reader read about the strain of not acknowledging the call. It says, "To you who have acknowledged the call of your Redeemer, the strain of not responding to His call seems to be greater than before. This is not so. Before, the strain was there but you attributed it to something else, believing that the ‘something else' produced it. This was never true. For what the ‘something else' produced was sorrow and depression, sickness and pain, darkness and dim imaginings of terror, cold fantasies of fear and fiery dreams of hell." (OrEd.Tx.17.77)

Not responding to the call – that's what is in store for you. Is it really a choice? Do you really think you can't respond to this call to bring the message of eternal life to the world? If you are too conflict averse, you are going to avoid the call. Get over it. (laughter) Just get over it. I've been dealing with this for the thirty plus years that I've had this job, so I've got a lot of experience with it. It's okay. You just walk through it. You just trust that the Holy Spirit is always there and the Holy Spirit is always there. The Holy Spirit was with me after I had to deal with the flack about the Las Vegas Conference. There was a lot of conflict; I just walked through it. It was difficult, but that was okay. There were a lot of valuable discussions that were had and the message continued to go out. So, you who are this wonderful cadre of miracle workers here who are bringing this message of eternal life to the world, join me in not being conflict averse. Be willing to walk through the conflict when it comes.

We will be led through and far beyond and what is far beyond is a reality of eternal life. I would say that's a good reality. Let's go for it! Thank you very much. That's my talk for today. (applause)

Rev. Tony Ponticello is CMC's 20th minister. He currently serves as the CMC's Executive Minister  (05.15.2018). He is also the President of the CMC Board of Diretors. He was ordained by the CMC on Oct. 17, 2097.

Woman Avoiding Conflict

© 2016 Community Miracles Center, San Francisco, CA – All rights reserved.

Rev. Tony Ponticello
c/o Community Miracles Center
POB 470341
San Francisco, CA 94147

This article appeared in the October 2016 (Vol. 30 No. 8) issue of Miracles MonthlyMiracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.