On Sunday, February 8, 2009, Rev. Larry Bedini addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that lecture.
First, I want you know that I’m especially thrilled to give this talk today. A few nights ago I went on a very exciting journey and made a truly thrilling discovery. I want to share that adventure with you now, because it has meant a lot to me.
One evening, a couple of weeks ago, I received a phone call from someone who wanted to come over for a brief visit. We sat in my kitchen and started to talk about many things. We talked about general things, and specific things. We talked about the Community Miracles Center, about the upcoming Conference for which we’ve all been waiting two long years and is finally coming up in just a few weeks. The thought of that was quite exciting.
The subject turned to things of the past, as it is inclined to do. We talked a little bit about our relationship and how things had developed between us, over the years. We spoke about the Conference in 2007 and reviewed some of the drama that went on during that time. We spoke about our respective upbringings and about how much in common we had with each other, in that we both had the same Mother, even though we were not related to each other.
We branched off into the usual negative discussion that people are inclined to revert to during these kinds of conversations. We spoke about this thing called life and the living of it. We spoke of its dramas and its excitements which are all focused around the drama of our life and seldom about the happy things in our life. We spoke about how, when we do focus on the happy things of our life, we usually switch the conversation around to some dramatic moment and manage to destroy the happy moment, again.
I began to become concerned about our conversation. My concern had nothing to do with the person with whom I was conversing. Near the end of the visit, I began to wonder why I was not feeling good. I have to admit, it’s the first time, when having conversations like this one, that I ever did not feel good when it was over. Again, it had nothing to do with the person with whom I was conversing. It had only to do with the subject matter and my participation in it. Actually, near the end of the evening, I was very grateful to my visitor for the experience of that evening’s conversation. My unhappy feelings had only to do with why I felt it so necessary to discuss some of the particular negative subjects at all. The burning question in my thoughts was, Why? Why did I feel it necessary to do that?
About thirty minutes after saying “Good night” to my visitor, I began to feel as though I had an emotional hangover. Hangover is the appropriate word. Again, it had nothing to do with the person. It had to do with my talking about certain things, negative things. I had a “hangover” feeling. I’m not a drinker, I never have been so I don’t really know what a hangover feels like, but it was the closest thing that I could image it to be. The kind of thing a heavy drinker might feel, what an alcoholic, or a person who takes excessive drugs, might feel. Looking back, I usually felt satisfied after these types of conversations in that I had always successfully managed to kill and bury another body in my rogues’ gallery of the past. However, I had a very peculiar feeling on this particular evening. I was full of questions about why I did not feel good about our conversation. I was trying hard to find an answer. I appeared to have a good time talking to that person. Yet, I felt ill at ease. What was going on with me? I just didn’t feel good about some of the things I was, once again, willing and eager to talk about.
The past kept coming up, the negative past, not the beauty of the past A Course In Miracles talks about but rather the negativity of the past. I was so willing, and so eager, to talk about it. I went into my bedroom and sat in a chair for quite awhile. I sat there thinking about why I was feeling so badly. Gradually, it began to dawn on me. I had been willing, and even eager, to talk about the past in a way that could be said to get even with certain people for the mischief they had caused in my life. I was beating the same old drum. This time, the revelation for me was — I got no satisfaction out of getting even. No satisfaction at all. Actually, it made me even more miserable, more unhappy, and more disturbed.
I’ve been reading, teaching, and practicing the Course over the past twenty-four years. I would be the first one to tell you, “You’ve got to let go of the past!” I would even give you an example of holding onto a pen, holding it out and dropping it and saying, “That is an example of letting go of the past!” “Don’t go down and pick it up again.” “You let it go and you move on!” I remember giving that example hundreds of times. Yet, I wasn’t doing it. What an embarrassing realization! Gradually, at first, and then rather quickly, I began getting a clear picture in my mind about what it truly meant to let go of the past! It began to dawn on me that I had never let go of the past completely. Big revelation here folks. I have never done it! I have never let go of the negative past! I realized it that night, and I felt terrible about that. I honestly felt terrible that I had never let go of the past. I know I’m repeating myself here but bear with me. This is world shattering news.
I realized that letting go of the past, which I began to see clearly in my mind in that moment; a clear picture of what it truly meant to let go of the past, meant that I can never, again, allow myself to discuss the negative past. I can never allow it! It means that if you come up to me and want to discuss anything negative about past Conferences, past relationships, I cannot discuss it with you. If I do discuss it with you then I have gone back into the past, again, seeking vengeance. If I allow you to discuss your negative past with me, then I am an enabler for you to do the same. I can’t do that! I won’t do that! Realizing this, finally, was a tremendous revelation for me. It meant that I had to be constantly vigilant about never allowing myself to revel in the joy of attacking others. Anyone! No one! I can never do that, again, particularly those who had participated in the dramas of my life. Anyone who listens to my drama is an enabler, and is to be shunned! If I listen to your drama then I’m an enabler and should be shunned. I don’t want you enabling me to discuss the negatives of my past, and I don’t want to be an enabler for you in allowing you to discuss the negatives of your past. We have to work those things out, ourselves, by letting them go. That is what the Course teaches us. I’m not making up something here. I’m not coming up with a new idea that, “Bedini” has thought up. This is what the Course is teaching.
About and hour or so later, I began to smile at my realization. I began to feel relaxed. I began to feel happy. I began feeling at peace with myself. I began thinking, “My God! This is the way to not continually be unhappy about the past.” “This is the way to not continually feel guilty about the past.” “This is the way to not continually be in despair, or despondent, or in agony about the past!” All of our agony, despondence, and despair come from recalling the negativity of the past! That’s all it is! I realized it that night! It was not new information, but it was newly leaned. That’s what mattered. The light bulb went on above my head! I got it! Finally! As I said, I finally learned what I had been teaching! I got it! Finally, I got it! I was very happy about that. I was so excited about it. Can you tell? I knew I had learned that lesson. I had learned a lesson that I would never forget, again. A simple, yet powerful lesson. That lesson being that I can never again engage in conversations with anyone about the past negative events in my life. I can’t! It absolutely stops! I cannot do it! In fact, I can’t even discuss the past negatives of your mirs. I know, I’m driving this point home with a sledge hammer. It needs to be driven that way. It did for me, a least.
You see, If I allow you to talk about the negatives in your life, the danger is that I’m apt to say, “Oh, I know, I know what you mean.” “I had this, and this, and this, in my life.” By that time, we’re both up _____ creek without a paddle. Sorry, can’t do it. Absolutely, cannot do it. I realized and learned, then and there, that evening, that I can never discuss the negative past again. I can’t even discuss the negative present, either. I felt good, as the evening progressed. I felt relieved. I felt that I had been released from the bond of chains like the character of Marley in Charles Dickens’, “A Christmas Carol.” I didn’t have that chain anymore. I didn’t have to do that anymore. I didn’t have to talk, any longer, about my mother or father and the horrors (or, rather, the perceived horrors) of those relationships. They’re gone. They’re over. They’re done with. God bless them. They did the best they could, as we all do! Every one of the people in our mirs do the best they can. As we all do! We make mistakes. We don’t have to keep beating the drum about how terrible our mirs have been. Nor about how terrible the people have been and how terrible things have been in our mirs, unless we want to continually mir negatively in the past. I, for one, do not! No! I’ve had it! It’s over — done!
I feel good to know that I will move forward from this moment. This moment. This moment. Consistently in the present. I feel I now have a bracer behind me. Something that says, “No! You cannot go back!” “You’re not going back. You’re going forward!” “You will resolve your issues in this moment.” “You’re not going to carry them back into the past and use them as weapons in the future. You’re not going to make the negatives of today the ammunition for the past. You aren’t going to do it! You’re going to make the present moments the opportunity to recognize the Holy Instant and mir in joy.” Tomorrow will have its present moments and I will mir happily in every one of them. Will it be easy? Not at all. I have a body therefore I have an ego. There will be times when the temptation will be there for me. So what, say I! I have thoroughly learned this lesson. I’m no longer fearful of it. Doesn’t the Course teach us to mir in the present? That’s what I learned the wonderful evening I spent with my visitor. mir in the present and not in the past. It’s a much more exciting place in which to grow. I will recognize the beautiful flowers of my past and leave the dead weeds to wither away and disappear with the wind.
That’s what I discovered, and I’m so thankful. I got it! I finally got it! The negativity we go back into is a lost world that offers no satisfaction whatsoever. Don’t bleed on me about your past. I don’t care that you had a miserable past. I don’t care that I had a miserable past. Whatever misery there was in my life, I don’t care anymore. I simply don’t care. Get it? We all have that in common. We’re all members of the biggest club in the world, “The Misery Club.” How miserable were you in your life? “Oh, you think that’s bad? Wait ‘till you hear mine.” We can all have a “can you top this session.” “Come one! Come all! Enter the Misery Club! Admission free! Show your membership card by wearing your misery on your sleeve.” I tell you this, it’s an ugly club to belong to! Ugly! There are no happy people there! No one is happy in that club! No one! It’s a club in a dying world of despair, remorse, and regret! Let that club of death be dead. Be among the living and mir. Don’t join the club of death. Get out of it. As Groucho Marx once said, “I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member.” Think about it!
Of course we all go through difficult times. Yes, we feel the pain. Yes, we struggle. The Course doesn’t teach us to deny our feelings. It teaches us not to deny our feelings. However, it also teaches us to move on. Move forward. Find a better way. We are not alone in our struggles. We have a guide. We have an Elder Brother who went before us to guide us along. We have a Creator who created us as an extension of Himself.
However, does it mean that I will no longer be tempted to slip back? Of course not. There will come times when I will want to slip back and renew my membership. I know that. I know it because my dear “teachers” will come to me and invite me to renew my membership. They will come in many forms. They will come as well meaning “friends” who will want to share they problems with me. They will come as “friends” who want validation that they are victims of the world. They will come in numerous disguises, too numerous to list, all coming to tempt me. The only difference, this time, is that I will pass the test. I will expect my teachers, as I turn away from them to go on about my business, to say, “Hey, Larry! Congratulations! You passed the test! You didn’t fall into my trap!” Yes, just as I expect my students, on my off days, to do the same to me. If I feel like testing them, I expect them to say, “No, Larry! I’m not falling into your little trap.” Yes, I, too, will say, “Congratulations!”
It’s the first time in my life I feel certain I will not slip back. I can’t, because I got it. I learned it. I don’t wish to have an emotional hangover brought on because of a negative discussion. I don’t like that part of me. It isn’t worth it. It isn’t worthy of me, a holy child of God. It isn’t worthy of you, a holy child of God! Has it been an easy lesson for me to learn? Absolutely not! It has taken me almost seventy-seven years to learn it! I feel so joyous right now because of having learned this lesson! It brings me great joy to know that one, or more of you, may relate to my discovery. I feel relieved in having made this discovery and I take great joy in sharing it with you, all of you. In closing, I want to read to you a lesson in the Course that says, “You can indeed depart in peace because I have loved you as I loved myself. You go with my blessing and for my blessing. Hold it and share it, that it may always be ours. I place the peace of God in your heart and in your hands, to hold and share. The heart is pure to hold it and the hands are strong to give it. We cannot lose. My judgment is as strong as the wisdom of God, in Whose Heart and Hands we have our being. His quiet Children are His blessed Sons. The Thoughts of God are with you.” (Tx.Or.Ed.5.58)
I went to sleep happier that night than I had before after many negative conversations. I was grateful that my teacher, of that evening, had come to visit with me. I learned a lot.
That’s my talk for today. Y
c/o Community Miracles Center
2269 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
This article appeared in the February 2009 (Vol. 22 No. 12) 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.