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.
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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:/bit.ly/goes_wherever
2. YouTube video "The Lawns of Heaven" go to the following link: http:/bit.ly/lawns_heaven
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.
c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the August 2017 (Vol. 31 No. 6) 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.