On Easter Sunday morning, April 8th, 2007, Rev. Larry Bedini stood before the congregation at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that lecture.
Good morning. My talk today is on personal resurrection. I didn’t want to talk about the Easter story because we’ve heard it every Easter and if we don’t know it by now, good Lord, we never will. It’s a wonderful story and of course we all enjoy hearing it from time to time. However, I’ve been thinking about what I really want to say today and that is the idea of personal resurrection. Jesus had his personal resurrection and we should have our personal resurrection. I certainly want mine.
So, I want to talk about what that means to us – what it might mean to us on an individual, personal level, yours and mine. We think of the resurrection more in connection with Jesus rising from the dead, after being crucified and placed in the tomb. Resurrection means, by Webster’s dictionary: “rising from the dead.” But the A Course In Miracles says there is no death. It says there are many forms of death but there is no actual death. We can lay the body aside when we choose to do so but we don’t literally die. We are immortal; we are eternal. God created us that way. So, we cannot die. What God created cannot literally die. We can only move on. We can go back home when we’re ready to. The Course even teaches us that we never really left home and that we never really left God. So, we lay down the body and we move on or into another dream.
What are the other forms of death, or crucifixion? Hatred, resentment, criticism, jealous, tormenting one another, problems with personal relationships – these are some examples of administering death to one another. Also, the relationship with your work where we feel crucified due to the amount of work we have is another example. The resurrection part is when we accomplish clearing up all of that work. We come out of it saying, “Wow! Thank God, I’m out of that.” “Wow! That was hard! I feel so much better. I feel more amir. I feel as if I can go out there and do things!” In those moments we have a form of resurrection.
I’m sure every one of you has been in that situation. Or, you are now in that situation, feeling crucified by the amount of work you have. Even feeling crucified by certain relationships where you are not getting along with one another or you resent each other, etc. is a form of crucifixion – self-inflicted. The Course teaches us, however, no one crucifies another. We crucify ourselves. Yes, it appears as if another can crucify us, even if we are literally crucified on a cross, we only crucify ourselves because we manifested it. Because we crucify ourselves, we therefore are able to resurrect ourselves, to come out of it, to move on, to go above and beyond. So that’s what crucifixion and resurrection mean to us.
We are not literally crucified the way Jesus was. We don’t literally resurrect the way we’re told he did – at least not yet. However, we do crucify ourselves. We torment ourselves. We find ways to feel beaten down by, oddly enough, ourselves. No one beats us down; we do it to ourselves. No one makes a problem for us. We participate in a problem, willingly, on some conscious level. The Course teaches us there are no victims – only willing participants. So, we are crucified on our own cross and by our own hand, strangely enough, by our own thinking, our own thought system. Hopefully, we want to resurrect. If we make corrections in our own thinking, it means we must be willing to correct our perception. That means we must be willing to come out of the horrors of our own negative thinking and move up to a more positive, or correct, thought system. The Course calls it rising above the battleground. When we do that, we rise above or resurrect.
We have often felt crucified. There isn’t one of us here who hasn’t felt that feeling and doesn’t know what it’s about. We, also, have had the feeling of resurrecting ourselves by shifting our perceptions. So, we have had both experiences. I certainly had the opportunity to feel crucified because of the work load from the conference we just had. I had the opportunity to feel crucified because of the past year of recording the Jesus’ Course In Miracles, which is now called, A Course In Miracles – Original Edition. Yes, a whole years worth of recording (actually nine months). I’ve had the opportunity to feel crucified: because of the work load here in the office as I said, with filing all of the documents for the past four months, in trying to determine which author is actually going to get money for their respective books sold at the conference – going through dozens of receipts and trying to figure out all the finances. I had to do a physical inventory of our books. Fortunately, Chad, our new office assistant was a great help to me. Then, having to enter everything on the computer so we don’t have to do a physical inventory every month – there has been just a constant work load, upon work load, upon work load. Yes, it’s easy to look at that and say, “God! I’m so overwhelmed with this. I can’t do all of this! What is expected of me? It’s so much!” And yet the Course teaches us that we never take on anything that we cannot accomplish. It teaches us that it is within our means to do all of the things we undertake to do. On some level we must believe we can accomplish the tasks we undertake. However, when we play into the negative side of our thinking, which the Course calls the ego, we feel tired all too often and we don’t succeed at the task.
I’ve thought many times, “I’m just too tired!” Yet, the Course teaches us we are not capable of being tired, but we are capable of wearying ourselves. We certainly believe we are tired. We believe we are overwhelmed. We are taught in the Course that we are not capable of getting pulled down into negativity when we understand who we are. And who, exactly, are we? We are a holy child of God, a creation of God with unlimited power and unlimited capabilities.
You see, the Course does not tolerate a victim mentality. It gets right in your face and says, “You’re wonderful! You’re God’s child. Everything about you is good! You have no excuse! Do the job! Move on. You can do it!”
I’m sure you’ve all found the Course, at times, to be very hard and perhaps to be very unrelenting or even not very understanding of your particular situation. Why? Very simply because it won’t allow us to think of ourselves at victims! It absolutely won’t allow it. In effect, it says, “Perhaps you do think of yourself as a victim. But look, here’s a means of resurrecting yourself. Right here! All you have to do is shift your perception and boom! You’re out of it!” And we say, “No, no, no. You don’t understand. I need to be in it because I need to prove that you’re wrong!” And the Course says, “Oh! I see. So you’d rather be right than happy!” And we say, “No, no, no. I am right because I know I’m right. I’m right because I can prove I’m right. You see, I’m exhausted, I’m overwhelmed, and I’m depressed. I’m not in a good space.” Then the Course says, “Oh, so what you’re saying is, you choose to be a victim!” And we say, “No, you don’t understand, I want to show the world how tough my life is. I want to prove to the world that I understand the pain and the torment Jesus went through. That’s what I want to do. I want to prove to the world that I suffer more than anybody else, that God chose me to suffer. Those are the things that I want to show the world.” But we don’t want to admit to that. We just want to show it to the world.
We learn through the Course teachings about resurrection. The Course doesn’t focus on crucifixion. Jesus says in the Course that the crucifixion was the last useless journey. Useless! “The journey to the cross should be the last ‘useless journey’ Do not dwell upon it, but dismiss it as accomplished. If you can accept it as your own last useless journey, you are also free to join my resurrection.” (T-4.in.3.1-3)
Why not? Jesus was a human being just like us. He had an ego just as we all do. “I could not understand [your body and your ego’s] importance to you if I had not once been tempted to believe in them myself.” (T-4.I.13.5) He got angry. We know that, by the events written about it in the Bible. He probably got jealous. Probably lusted after someone. Probably disliked someone at some time. Probably had wicked thoughts at some time. Probably had his little gossipy moments. Maybe he even told an off color joke now and again. He might have had a cold or two, perhaps a little indigestion from time to time. May have said a nasty word or two. Remember, he was human. (Now for heaven’s sake don’t start writing nasty letters and telling me I’m blaspheming.) He tells us in the Course that the reason he can help us is because he went through the same things we are going through. The only difference is that he overcame his ego and went on to transcend the body. I’d be willing to bet money that there isn’t anyone in a body who hasn’t had a nasty or bodily thought now and again — before, during or after the beautiful thoughts. We know Jesus was a leader and must have faced many challenges. He even is attributed as saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.” (John 14:12) Greater works! So, he even allows that we are going to accomplish even more than he did.
Having done the things he did and having risen above them is why he is able to teach us how to make the corrections in our thinking. After all, he made them in his. The Course teaches us to rise above the battleground to a place of peace. That’s a resurrection! It’s teaching us to resurrect from death: the death of anger, the death of despair and the death of battle. Jesus also says in the Course, “All things are lessons God would have me learn.” (W-pI.193) The Course also teaches us, “Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you.” (T-31.VIII.3.1) That’s an invitation to resurrect. Yes, it’s hard for us to do because we will keep making mistakes until we decide not to. Often the same ones, again and again and again, “ad nauseam!” We continue making the same mistake, in some form. The common denominator is we keep making the mistakes and will do so until we decide to make the correction in our thinking. Jesus teaches us that once we make the correction and decide not to make it again, the same mistake never happens again, because we have decided not to allow it to happen.
Then why is it so hard to make the correction sooner? Easy question. Easy answer. There’s an excitement in making mistakes. There’s a thrill in making the same mistakes. It makes life exciting. We like the adventure. We like the intrigue, the gossip, and all the dirty things that can be said about each other. Yes, it’s true folks. Believe it or not some people love saying nasty things about other people. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Not really. Does anyone you know fit that category? You see, it gives some people a thrill. It gives them a purpose for living. Their purpose is to keep making the same mistake. One can choose to follow their example or to rise or resurrect above and beyond.
Once again, we keep making the same mistake until we decide that is not the way we want to mir our mirs. That is not the way we want to think. Not at all! But then in order to do that, we have to become an individual thinker. We have to be willing to not follow the negative crowd. We have to not seek validation for our negative thoughts. We have to be willing to stand alone in the midst of the negative crowd. That’s what we have to do. We have to be willing to do that. And standing alone in the midst of a negative crowd can be, or appear to be, lonely. While everybody else is chitchatting about all the negative stuff and saying negative things about someone else, there you are standing alone and not joining in. You are there realizing who you are and aware that you can make a difference. You are there realizing that you can resurrect yourself from the negativity of their world to a higher level of thinking, the Christ mind thinking The change ultimately enhances the world and resurrects it to a higher place. You can resurrect yourself from the negativity of those people and you can shift your perception to a higher level. By doing that it puts the domino effect into place. Your positive, loving attitude rubs off on someone else and their loving attitude rubs off on another and many others will be helped to shift their perception.
Oh, there will be plenty of people who won’t be affected by it but you don’t have to worry about them. There will be plenty of people who will stay in their negativity, plenty of people who prefer to stay in their vicious little cycles! But, eventually, they’re going to come out of it. The Course guarantees that. The Course also teaches that you can make it happen much sooner. You can resurrect much sooner. Why wait for the next train when you can get on this one and arrive much sooner? That’s what the Course teaches us. We learn that the emphasis of the Course is to take on our chosen responsibilities by deciding not to crucify ourselves but rather to shift our perception. It teaches us to turn all conflicts into opportunities for personal growth. Remember, “All things are lessons God would have me learn.” (W-pI.193) Every opportunity that comes along, even one appearing to be negative, is an opportunity for us to grow, to come out of it, to resurrect – an opportunity for personal resurrection! That’s what they are.
I certainly could have had feelings of being crucified this past year with all the things I was doing, including recording the Original Edition of the Course (that story has yet to be written) and dealing with the problems of putting on the conference. Yes, I could have felt crucified, but I chose instead to look at it as an opportunity for personal growth. Was it easy? Hell no!!! Would it have been easier to feel like a victim? Of course! Would behaving like a victim have given me a greater reward? Absolutely not! I decided to rise above, move beyond, and not play into my feelings of negativity.
Moving beyond means letting go. Moving beyond means not carrying the garbage with you. By not carrying the garbage with you, it makes it much easier to resurrect. You don’t have the scavengers to drag along with you. So, moving above and beyond is what the resurrection is about – going beyond and rising above to a place of peace.
Granted, it’s not uncommon for us to think of ourselves as being overwhelmed. It really isn’t. It’s almost our default mode, especially as we get older. Most people wake up in the morning and the first thought is, “Ughhhh!” What does that mean? It means, “I’m overwhelmed! I have to lift my body from the bed! I have to go to work! I’ve got to clean up, take a shower! Maybe I’ll skip it today! Oh, I’d better take it! What a burden, etc., etc!” Well, if Jesus did, in fact, make the statement on the cross, “Father, why hast thou forsaken me?” then he must have felt overwhelmed! He must have felt he was carrying the weight of the world upon his shoulders! So, if he felt overwhelmed, he certainly chose not to stay in that state of mind. He chose to: let it go, move beyond, rise above. That is what he chose. He chose to resurrect!
The Course says, “A further point must be perfectly clear before any residual fear still associated with miracles can disappear. The crucifixion did not establish the Atonement; the resurrection did.” (T-3.I.1.1-3) But so often we stay in the crucified mode of thinking, believing that as long as we stay in that feeling, we can work our way out of it. And the Course teaches we can’t! In order to stop feeling crucified, you have to be willing to shift your perception! You have to be willing to come out of it! You have to be willing to let it go! How can you ever expect to find a solution to the problem if you go around continually saying, “I’m so overwhelmed. I’m so depressed. I’m so down and the world is no good. I’ve got this friend who is a so and so and this other person who is a so and so. I’ve got all these terrible neighbors and I’ve got the damned barking dogs and the neighborhood cats who are screeching because they’re in heat. The traffic is awful; the bus is terrible. The public transportation in San Francisco sucks! This damned fog! The damned sun! The rain! Are they always having construction going on in this city?”
Well, as long as we think that way and we find fault with everything we see, or the majority of what we see or experience, then we are in a state of self-crucifixion. Now, I want you all to look at your hands. Go ahead, right now. Do you see any nail holes in your hands? No? Then what’s your problem? Jesus had nail holes in his hands and yet he chose to rise above it. We don’t have nail holes in our hands, or in our feet, or a spear slit in our side. So, we need to look at that. We need to rethink this idea about self-crucifixion and shift our perception that it is necessary to be the martyr of the world.
Today is a wonderful day, Easter Sunday. It’s a day for us to be able to look at what Jesus did by resurrecting. Think on it the next time you feel like you need to sit around and moan and groan about life. Perhaps you need to look at your hands and say, “Well, I don’t see any nail holes there, so maybe I’m not as bad off as I thought! Maybe, just maybe I’m OK. I have a Course that tells me I am!”
Jesus chose to rise above the battleground and move on. We need to learn that lesson! He set us a wonderful example. The Course teaches us to rise above and move on. A relationship with anything is an opportunity for us to crucify ourselves or to resurrect ourselves. It’s a wonderful learning experience. We can choose to give up the moment something happens that’s negative or we can choose to say, “You know what? I’m moving on! I’m rising above this and moving on. I don’t need to go down that road! If I go down that road of negativity, the road of turmoil, of frustration, of being overwhelmed, it will be because I have chosen to go down that road!” If that’s the case, perhaps you need to say to everybody, “Hello everybody, I’m choosing to go down the road of negativity. Just wanted you to know.”
Wouldn’t that be interesting! Imagine if we met people on the street and they said, “Get out of my way, I’m choosing to be miserable!” Then we could say, “Oh, OK. Thanks for telling me.” Then, perhaps we would not take offense to it because we would have been forewarned. It wouldn’t catch us off guard. We wouldn’t say, “Look at that miserable person. Look at the face on that one. Geez, they’re so miserable!” Perhaps then, if those people would say to us, “I’m choosing to be miserable. Thank you, this is the face I’m choosing.” Maybe then we would say, “Oh, great! Good to see you. Thanks for telling me!” because then we would understand that it is their choice. Of course, we would have to understand that it is also our choice to either be crucified by our own hand or to rise above and resurrect.
Remember, Jesus was literally nailed to the cross! You are not! We are not! There are no nail holes here! Maybe we should all think about that. Today is Easter Sunday. We pay tribute to Jesus by remembering his resurrection. However, if we truly wish to honor him, and ourselves, we must follow his example and rise above our own personal battleground. There is no better day than this to understand that Jesus was truly the light of the world, no better day than this. We have, today, a great opportunity to add our light to his and resurrect. We have no better example than his, to rise above and beyond our personal battleground. Think about it.
Happy Resurrection. That’s my talk for today. Y
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This article appeared in the March 2007 (Vol. 21 No. 1) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles 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.