Legacy Article: Going back through our archives to make more of the articles that appeared in *Miracles Monthly* many years ago available again. Here's one from 2007.
(On August 12, 2007, Rev. Larry Bedini addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA, USA. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that lecture.)
My talk today is titled, "Will You Let It Shine Even More?!!!" Hmmmm, could that be the reason why we are singing, "This Little Light Of Mine", three times today? Duuuhhhhh! (laughter) I titled it, "Will You Let It Shine Even More?!!!" Exclamation mark, exclamation mark, exclamation mark because I felt it deserved three exclamation marks.
Lately and yes, previously as well, but lately, I've been thinking very profound thoughts about an elusive thing called – happiness. Profound thoughts! (laugher) Now I said elusive because we like to bat it around. We bat it around a lot when we have it. Bat it right out to left field and beyond. Then we search every where to try to find it. So, it seems to be very elusive. Now, I had wonderful and profound ideas this morning about this subject, so I want to share them with you.
Happiness! We have it around for some moments, then we let it go. We get excited about it when we have it. We're bubbling all over with it and then suddenly, it just appears to slip away from us. Then we start to feel the loss of it and we feel unhappy again. We think, "Where, oh where did my little happiness go?" We don't know. Just like the words of that old song, "A tisket, a tasket, I lost my yellow basket."
Well, we lost our little happiness and so we search. Now, all too often we try to find it in someone or from somewhere, as if it were a sort of virus we wish we could catch. We search and search but just like that elusive Pimpernel, we can't find it. Where can we go to find our happiness? Well, we go to the movies. We go to movies and we search for it there and sometimes we find it there, for awhile. Then we get careless with it. We laugh, we're having a good time and then – we forget to hold onto it because we think it's going to stay with us. But, it doesn't. We watch television and look for our happiness in some of those sit-com shows, and we find it. We find it in little thirty minute segments. Hooray! We have those little thirty minutes of happiness. We listen to music. We listen to happy music and we find it in that music. Sadly, we lose it when the melody is over and the memory of it begins to fade. It's gone again and we start thinking how sad we are because we can't seem to continue being happy – and so on.
We watch stand-up comedians, so we can feel the twinges of happiness. We watch Seinfeld, Will & Grace, Everybody Loves Raymond, and yes, even some of my all time favorites, The Munsters, Green Acres (laughter) Mama's Family and even, The Andy Griffith Show. Ah yes, a moment of happiness – except for Aunt Bee, who sometimes can be – an Aunt "B___." But we like, nevertheless, the little story that goes with it and we find that little moment of happiness. And yes, God bless little Opie who grew up to be the multi-million dollar movie director Ron Howard. Well, we raised him, so we're happy about that.
We have feelings of love when we watch those shows; albeit, only for a few moments, and then we forget about it. We treat that love carelessly. The commercial comes on and we don't like that commercial. A news flash comes across the bottom of the television screen and we're disturbed about that because the happiness we had is now interrupted and we can't seem to hang onto it. We choose in that moment to let it go and forget about it. So, now we have to search for it again! We begin to wonder what is wrong with us? What's wrong with us that our happiness is so elusive? Well, absolutely nothing! Nothing is wrong with us. We just have a weird idea that we have to search for happiness outside of ourselves because we can't seem to discover the happiness within ourselves. We have the idea that we have to find happiness "out there."
What does A Course In Miracles teach us about that? It says, "Elusive happiness, or happiness in changing form that shifts with time and place, is an illusion which has no meaning." (Tx.Or.Ed.21.84) It teaches us to not seek for the consistency of happiness in the world because we will never find it. That's a very strong statement. However, it is what the Course teaches us. It teaches us not to look for happiness "out there." Our storeroom of happiness has already been filled and is within us. And yet, we think, always, that our happiness is going to come from "out there." So, the Course teaches us, it isn't going to come from out there, it's already within. Within us – that's where the happiness is rooted. That's where it grows. That's where it comes from and from there, in the mind, it extends. If you want to find happiness, what then is the lesson for you to learn that will help you? The lesson to learn is, you must extend it because it is already within you. We must extend it in order to recognize that it is already within us. We partake of what we share.
Now does that mean to go to movies or watch T.V., listening to beautiful music, watching stand-up comedians, etc. is wrong? No! It isn't wrong, at all. It's just something we, sincerely, feel we need to do in order to get that little boost of happiness going. After all, we still are learning. We have to be patient with ourselves. However, being patient doesn't mean being lazy. Jesus says in the Course, "When I said, I am come as a light into the world, I surely came to share the light with you. Remember the symbolic reference we made before to the ego's dark glass, and remember also that we said, Do not look there. It is still true that where you look to find yourself is up to you." (Tx.Or.Ed.5.79) "Your patience with each other is your patience with yourselves. Is not a Child of God worth patience?" (Tx.Or.Ed.5.81)
It's like going on the occasional diet. We go on the diet to lose a few pounds. We gain the weight back. We lose a few pounds. We gain a few more, perhaps twice as much or three times as much, then, we lose some of that weight. But thank God we do go on the occasional diet because otherwise we'd all weight about five or six hundred pounds. (laughter) So, we have to be grateful that we do go to the places we think will help us. But, the truth of the matter is it's all in here (pointing to head). Isn't it? It's still in here, no matter what. It has to come from correct thinking. Sorry folks, but that's where it comes from.
So, we have this weird idea about finding our happiness on T.V., etc. As I said, there's nothing wrong with it. I'm grateful for it because it certainly has gotten me out of the doldrums of despair many a time. Those late nights, when you're lying there worrying and thinking about what you need to do about some problem or disaster, some impending doom coming up and then you turn on TV Land and you watch these, so called, "silly" sitcoms, and you laugh, you smile – and it helps. Yes, those are the little things we need to look at, but we cannot believe, as we tend to do, that that is the source from which our happiness is going to come. That is not the source. It's just putting a band aid over the problem. We need to learn to recognize that. We need to learn that those things are not the source of our happiness.
The need to straighten out our thinking is what must be looked at. What's going on with my thinking – thinking that I need to go to an external in order to know who I am, or in order to find my happiness, or in order to escape from the world? Now, again, is it a terrible thing? No! It can be an aid, but that's all it is. We have to understand that it's only an aid – just as a crutch or a cane is an aid in helping us to learn to walk after an accident. It is not the root. It is not who we are. It is only an aid to help us get back on track, like a road map. The signs on a map, the signs on the road that keep the roads divided, the yellow, green and red lights that guide us along the way, are all aids. However, that is not where we find our peace, our happiness. They help to guide us but only temporarily.
Now, ironically, the very thing that can make us happy – television, etc, can also make us very sad and angry. When the shows we look for that we think we need to boost us aren't on any longer, we're quite upset. When they're taken off the air, we get upset! I was totally out of sorts when they announced Green Acres wasn't going to be on any more. How dare they take away my happiness! I wanted to see that dysfunctional man at work. I wanted to see all those dysfunctional people doing their thing. I was pretty miffed when they took off The Donna Reed Show. (laughter) I thought Donna Reed, the perfect mother, perfect housewife, never a spot on the apron ... (big laughs) ... was the ideal mother and wife. She obviously bore two children by immaculate conception. They never had sex. I mean, come on! You know, that meant a lot to me. Mom was pure! Mom was perfect. And when Donna got disturbed about something, it was with a little twist of the head and a little smile that said, "I know how to fix this."
My mom never had a clean apron on and when she would twist her head, I ran like hell! I knew what was coming and it wasn't good. Green pea soup came spewing out. (huge laughs) Yes, I was upset when Donna was taken off the air. I wasn't so upset about Father Knows Best, because I always felt Father didn't know best. (more laughs) It was always the wife who knew better. Father just stood there, like a dysfunctional person, kind of nodding at what was going on because – he really didn't know. Yet, the producers wanted you to believe he did. Jane Wyatt, the mother, was the one who always saved the day. Ah yes, it was the women who saved the day. Look at Green Acres. It was the wife, zany though she was, who always knew better than her husband who appeared to be a dysfunctional man living in some sort of alcoholic dream. (big laughs) But we love them all.
So, we go watch these shows and we get angry when they are not there anymore. Of course, what the executives are saying to us, in effect is, "We control you. We have you in our control. We can make you happy or we can make you unhappy because you haven't got sense enough to know that your happiness comes from within you. You're depending on us to run your emotions, so you're in our power." Just like the old Rod Serling shows. And we live our lives as if that were true. So, we don't like it when the shows are taken off because we do feel we are helpless; dependent upon them for our happiness. How many times have you surfed the television desperately trying to find something funny? "What am I going to do now?" you think? "My favorite show isn't on. Please God, let them replace it with some other funny show like ...." Like what? "The Munsters." If they replace it with The Munsters, maybe I'm saved. I can be happy again." Does this sound silly to you? Perhaps! But, think about it! Think about it well, because you all have been there and maybe still are "there." However, as Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, California, "There's no 'there', there." Well, we go through all of this.
Now, are we amused when we watch dysfunctional people in our own lives? No, we are not. We don't think it's funny when our friends, relatives or strangers do what sitcom people do by behaving in a dysfunctional manner. We're not amused at all. Yet, when we see Will & Grace and their two friends, Karen and Jack in action, we laugh. We think it's funny. We're amused. Then why don't we think it's funny when we experience this dysfunctional behavior in our own lives, in our own "reality" or in our own "sitcom?" The answer is simple, because we are emotionally attached. In the sitcom, we are not emotionally attached. It's happening to them! It isn't happening to us. It's happening to them! So, we can laugh at them.
Well, those sitcoms are a wonderful place to visit but I certainly wouldn't want to live there. Would you want to live with Will and Grace and Karen, the drug addict and Jack the outrageous, drama queen friend? Would you really want to live with them? If you say, "Yes." Please run, do not walk, to your nearest friendly psychiatrist. But, we do – we do live around them, everyday. That's the irony. We live around them. They're around us all the time. And worse yet, sometimes we are those dysfunctional people because we do bizarre and dysfunctional things, at times. But, when it's happening in our own circle of friends and family, we don't like it because, again, we are emotionally involved.
We don't really care what happens to Elaine in Seinfeld. We don't care what happens to Kramer, the nutty neighbor. We don't care what happens to George. We think it's funny that a woman sees George coming out of a cold swimming pool naked and sees that he has a little shriveled up "thing" – "shrinkage!" We think that's funny. Would we think it funny if we came out of a swimming pool and someone saw us and started laughing at our shriveled up thing? Or if some man were trying to find out if some woman's breasts were real and someone like Elaine followed you into the steam room to try to feel them to find out if they were real? (laughter) Would you women find that funny? I think not. You would probably slap the hell out of her, unless you're into that sort of thing. (big laughter) Yet, we watch it on television and we laugh our head off. We think that's funny. Jerry's character can't be too well balanced either since he encourages much of it. But, God bless them all, we laugh.
Well here's the question, if it's funny on T.V., – which we grant it is because we do laugh at it – then why can't you laugh at the things that go on in your own lives? After all, that's what the Course teaches us to do. It says, "Let us return the dream he gave away unto the dreamer who perceives the dream as separate from himself and done to him. Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny mad idea at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea and possible of both accomplishment and real effects." (Tx.Or.Ed.27.79) Unfortunately, most Course students don't want to remember that passage.
We forgot to laugh! We forgot that it is all a joke that we are playing on ourself. Did you forget about that? If there's a banana peel on the ground and you slip on it, I laugh because I think it's funny. But, if I accidentally slip on it and you laugh, I don't think that's funny. I could have been hurt! But I have no emotional attachment if you slip on a banana peel and you get hurt. You see, we forget to laugh at ourselves. Consequently, we are not as happy as we could be because we just forget to laugh. Yes, we forget to laugh!
I remember when Tony took me once to the EST training. He paid for the tuition (laughter) and I had no idea what it was all about. I remember, at the time, thinking how I had heard horror stories about EST and the trainers. However, at that time they were doing some new kind of training, so they were more relaxed. I remember the speaker on the stage talking about life and saying to the group, "Don't you realize that it is all a joke?" I remember thinking, "This guy's an idiot!" (laughter) I thought, "It's a joke? With all the misery I have gone through – it's a joke?! How dare he say such a thing – joke!" Well of course, years later, while studying the Course and having learned what I learned through the study of the Course – yes, I got it. It's a joke! And, the joke is on us because we are the ones who have and are still manifesting the joke. Again, we don't think it's funny because we manifest everything in our lives that causes us problems. So how dare anyone not understand the hell we're going through! So, you want to tell me about your story? "Yeah, uh huh. Yeah, sure. Okay, mmmm. Uh huh. Isn't that awful? Well listen – I've got to go." (laughter) I don't think your story is serious. I think your story is kind of – stupid! It shows how irresponsible you are. My story, on the other hand is very serious and should be taken seriously. Don't you just love it when Course students say to you, "Well, of course, you manifested the whole thing, you know." (laughter) But then, they want to tell you their story and they don't want to hear that they manifested the whole thing. So, this is what goes on with us. That's why we, often times, are so silly – so awfully silly. And we don't see the silliness that we have in us, that we put out there. We take ourselves so seriously, so very seriously. But we laugh when we see ourselves on the television because we don't believe it is us.
You see, I told you I've been having profound thoughts about happiness. (laughter) We watch T.V. shows; we listen to music. We watch the comedians. Why? Because we want our spirit to be lifted! "Wow! That really lifted my spirit when I saw that show." Well, in truth, is our spirit ever down? The spirit is always high. The spirit is always elevated. It's never down. You can never "lift" what is already as high as it can go.
Do you really want to go around like Chicken Little? "Dear me, the sky is falling." Is that what you really and truly want to believe? At certain times in your daily routine, do you think you've got to believe this because it validates that you are a victim? I've heard some Course students say, "Yes, I've studied the Course. I've studied the Course for so many years. I'm a real Course student." I've also seen them behave a few minutes later as if they also believe the sky is falling. Is that you? Is that how much you have studied the Course? Is that how much you know about the Course? Do you know so much about that Course that you can still hate throughout the day? Is that how much you've studied the Course? You've studied the Course so much that you can be miserable if your food is under cooked, or overcooked, or if the person next to you is eating Sushi, "Yuk!" As in my case. "The guy is obviously a cannibal." (Laughter) "He's a heathen. Isn't it disgusting that they can eat that stuff?" God forbid that I should eat something raw that came out of the ocean. I'll have a couple of eggs. Something that came out of a chicken's behind and is its offspring. (huge laughter, Rev. Larry laughing a lot) So, it's all a joke, folks. The whole thing is a bloomin' joke that we forget about. We take life so seriously.
Life is a funny comedy, a wonderful comedy. I don't know if any of you remember an old movie with Mickey Rooney called, The Human Comedy. It was a Pulitzer Prize winning play. You go to see it thinking, "It's going to be a comedy." Instead, every moment of it was this tremendous tragedy. A wonderful story, beautiful done, beautifully acted, beautifully written, but it was about the tragedy of human life. We need to understand, we need to learn more than we have that life is a joke. We are the ones writing the scripts, acting them out and casting it with the people we to put in it. Yes, even the tragic and deadly people. We write it, cast it, direct it and we produce it. Fortunately, we can rewrite it and correct it any time we so choose. You need to laugh at the things you do. It's okay to look at the stuff you do in your life and see the humor in it. You need to look at the situations you put yourself through and say, "You know what? I don't have to do the things I do but I do them. The fact that I do, is kind of funny. Sometimes, it's pathetically funny, but it's funny. It's funny that I would do these things and write myself into these situations. That I look for misery in my life – isn't that funny? I act as though I have no control over the scripts I have written. Isn't that funny? Funny as in strange!"
You see, it's not so, "ha ha" funny but rather strange and bizarre that you go around trying to make yourself miserable and trying to make other people miserable. For what purpose? So that you can be, to quote our President, your own "weapon of mass destruction?" (laughter) But it's true. So, rather than become your own weapon of mass destruction, which is search for misery and to manifest problems – and to be the instigator of problems in your own life. Why not take a moment, step back and say, "Do I need to take myself so seriously?"
We've all had that feeling, where we think we're in a movie. We're the only one of importance, we think. After all, the focus is on us because we're the star. We've all had the feeling there's a camera on us. But, rather than get so involved in the "drama" of the story, look at it and say, "But wait – let's rename this. My life isn't a drama. My life is a comedy." Do you realize that if you change the caption on Hamlet from drama to comedy, we would all be laughing at him. Think about it. Jack Benny did it in a movie called, To Be Or Not To Be. It would be a rather bizarre comedy but it would say, "Comedy." You would be thinking, "Gee, I guess I'm supposed to laugh when Hamlet suggests that Ophelia go off to a Nunery. Or, when she comes back and she's crazy. I'm supposed to be laughing at this. Oh, I get it, when he kills the family, that's supposed to be funny. I'm not supposed to take that seriously because it's just one of life's 'dramas' that I don't need to take seriously. After all, Hamlet, himself, is sort of a 'drama queen.' So, I need to look at it as a comedy."
Get the point? Do you find "busy" things to do? Do you make busy work for yourself and desperately seek for happiness in every other place but from within? Are you running away from the very place where the happiness is – within yourself? Will you become destructive rather than turn calmly within and be happy? If so, that's all that's wrong with you, you know? Wow! Phewww! Exhausting, isn't it? Why not stop it now and manifest a new beginning?
The only questions now that needs to be asked are: "How much light are you willing to shed on your 'drama' of life? How much of your light are you willing to let shine? How much more can you let it shine? Because if you are not consistently happy, it isn't shining enough. It isn't shining enough to make you laugh at what you see. We need to have more light on what we see so that we can see that the caption reads – "Comedy."
And that's my talk for today. (applause) Thank you. ♥
Rev. Larry Bedini is CMC's 1st minister. He was ordained by the CMC on Jan. 28, 1989. He made his transition from physical body life on May 10, 2010.
c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the December 2007 (Vol. 21 No. 10) 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.