This issue originally published as A Course for Teachers
The Joy That Is Us
Often, when we ask young people what is it that they want out of life, the response is, "To be happy." It is natural for humans to move toward the sources of joy. A Course in Miracles states, "Everyone seeks for what will bring him joy as he defines it." Humans gravitate to people, places and things they believe will bring them joy. Students are no exception.
It is doubtful that youngsters spend much time analyzing the effects of their thoughts on the world. They do not consider the effects of others' thoughts. Without knowledge and practice they (and we) simply react.
As aware teachers, administrators, supervisors and parents, recognizing that minds are joined, we become the makers of expanding joy. In A Course in Miracles, we read, "Nothing is harmful or beneficent apart from what we wish." The grace we project is the grace we get. No matter what the drama of the present moment, we approach our teaching with the grace of calmness and the joy of possibility. The Course teaches, "From you can rise a world they will rejoice to look upon and where their hearts are glad. In you there is a vision that extends to all of them, and covers them with gentleness and light." When we are graceful to students, colleagues, support staff and adminstrators, the grace is returned. The world becomes graceful. Those who create peace through grace offer an indestructible opportunity for learning to happen.Shambhala Grace Warriors
It takes courage to project grace in time of stress. Relationships by nature offer us opportunities to practice being graceful. Too often, the voice of the ego guides us toward turmoil. Student and teacher, parent and child, employer and employee frequently butt heads.
Shambhala is a mythical Tibetan place where through practice and meditation, all the people developed consistent kindness toward each other. Everyone in Shambhala, from the workers through the rulers, practiced concern for all human beings. The population became graceful.
Chogyam Trungpa defines a Shambhala warrior in the most peaceful terms. A warrior is one who knows who he or she is. Instead of making war on each other, a warrior through bravery and fearlessness practices being graceful in the face of stress and conflict. Shambhala practice projects grace. The projection of grace creates grace. Our relationship is enhanced. The opportunity for learning is improved.
In contrast, we can follow the voice of the ego. We can project and receive conflict. In the end, we may succeed in achieving quiet. However, this quiet is a far cry from peace. Such a relationship is an ego relationship and very little learning takes place.Resistance
"Respond with kindness, with grace? Who does that kid think he is? I'll show him." The voice of the ego, constantly chattering in our head, would have us believe that we can't respond with grace. "Are you kidding?", it says. The resistance to practicing grace is strong. The Course states, "If you respond with anger, you must be equating yourself with the destructible, and are therefore regarding yourself insanely...As you teach so shall you learn. If you react as if you are persecuted, you are teaching persecution." Anger only hurts the one who is angry. If we accept this, we see that using anger is insane as it is self-destructive. We see persecution as a poor choice. We recognize the option of choosing persecution or choosing grace. Every moment, we can choose to behave as a Shambhala Warrior.
Shambhala warriorship is the same as A Course in Miracles' definition of eternity. The Course maintains that it is always eternity, the ever-present now moment in which we choose our projections and perceptions, thus deciding our experience. Shambhala warriorship deals with our personal situation, exactly the way it is, now. The ego would rather we not concentrate on the always now. It enjoys making judgments on the past.
In our teaching, each person we deal with, we interact with in the now moment. We can recognize the unconditional goodness of the human condition in everyone. From here, we can impart our knowledge and share our wisdom as teachers, parents and educators. Happiness becomes our decision to let go of judgments based upon the past. Teaching becomes an exercise in joining minds.Vision versus Philosophy
We are all familiar with philosophy. The world has many wonderful schools of thought. Much of the world's wisdom philosophy is similar. Whether considering the Tao path, emanating love through the Christian heart, training the Buddhist mind, etc., we need to distinguish between philosophy and vision. While A Course in Miracles and Shambhala warriorship may be considered philosophy, they are most successful when consciously chosen and practiced as a way of life.
Consider and examine the daily, moment to moment ruminations of the mind. The ego spends an inordinate amount of time practicing judgment of others. It defends itself constantly from any perceived threat. Its philosophy is, "I'm always right." The ego has no framework other than its own survival. Vision is our conscious choice. It is a commitment to a cause. The cause needs refreshing and constant attention. It needs moment-to-moment practice. A vision of grace is the always celebrating commitment to basic goodness that we all are. It does not necessarily mean that we will be successful all the time or even most of the time. The vision merely extols our personal decision to project dignity regardless of the drama of our lives. While interesting and useful, the philosophy of grace is most effective when transformed into a vision. With a vision we choose to make it so. Fortunately, the opportunity for choice is always there, every moment of our lives.Magnitude vs. Littleness
Choosing grace as vision is a powerful testimony to the goodness of the self (and is expanded outward). Every behavior, every action, every response is a decision to reaffirm who we are. Each of our choices confirms what we want. In turn, what we want is what we get. A Course in Miracles states, "Every decision you make stems from what you think you are, and represents the value that you put on yourself."
One of our functions as teachers is to impart magnitude versus littleness. Littleness is following the voice of the ego, judging, constantly assessing, not letting go. It is the way of upset and distancing ourselves from each other. Magnitude is conscious awareness of making choices each moment. It is making choices in favor of maintaining grace. No matter what the external drama of our classroom, we maintain magnitude. We must practice grace in order to achieve it. Yet, we are by nature of our being, creations of the universe, perpetually in a state of grace. The trick is to stay that way. Choosing to do so is a good first step.
Successful wellness presenters and workshop leaders suggest answering, "Fantastic" to questions such as, "How are you doing?" They know the power of thought. The suggestion of feeling and being fantastic places us in a better position for having a fantastic day. Saying to ourselves, "I will only offer magnitude today to myself and others" becomes a conscious choice to want it so. For the same reason some prayers end by the word, Amen, as an agreement or affirmation, we choose to make it so. Captain Picard of the Starship Enterprise bids his crew, "Make it so." Magnitude requires us to make it so. Imagine our perceptions based upon magnanimous projection! We choose love that is for giving away. It can only expand.Saving the World
The media portray the world as a sad place filled with pain. Its reporting separates and divides. It presents the world in "they" and "we" terminology. Yet, there is so much goodness and love in the world. Is it possible that the media chose to create the world it presents? Through the filter of its editors, it chooses to see atrocities, violence and suffering everywhere. Might not a change in view, an altering of perception, looking for and reporting love's magnitudes bring about a change in the experience of the world? In turn, the media might pass along the goodness as a witness for love instead of fear and prejudice. It might redeem rather than judge.
Our classroom offers us the possibility of saving the world. Even more wonderful is the notion that through our behavior, we can teach our students to save the world as well. World salvation is defined as letting go of all judgments of our brothers and sisters everywhere. It is accepting them without fear or prejudice regardless of their behavior or their actions in the non-existent past. It does not however mean condoning harmful, separating behavior. If we can follow and teach the principles of magnitude through forgiveness, we then take our world and save it. From A Course in Miracles, we begin to see:
Students are quick to blame. With some modeling, they can take responsibility for what they see and for what happens. They can accept their self-worth. They can trust the goodness within. A miracle occurs every time a student recognizes his worth. Teachers foster miracles by acknowledging their students' power to create their own worth. The miracle is shared and open for expansion. If the expansion continues, the planet eventually reaches a collective state of grace.
Is it not then a matter of changing our perception of what will bring us joy? Since we naturally move toward the sources of joy and we now recognize that saving the world through forgiveness is joyful, we have the means through which we can be happy.Happiness as Choice
Could it be that happiness is a choice? Instead of gravitating to people, places and things we believe will bring us joy, we can make joy. We can walk through our fears as Shambhala warriors, ignore the resistance of the ego, choose to save the world through expanding love thought and decide that happiness through acceptance and forgiveness are our goal. As teachers, we can model a behavior that encourages our students to see it as a better way. We can choose a vision of magnitude.
For many people, events dictate how they will feel. One need witness the large swings in the mood of our students to recognize that many of their emotions are hair trigger reactions to external events. It is almost as if their programming is all ego based. We create meaning out of the world we see. By itself, the world is; events just are. The meaning we place on events reflects the condition of our internal state of affairs. Our internal state of affairs can be a place of comfort. When we recognize a desire and willingness to make it so, we open the door for it being so. Why do we not tell our students how simple and powerful the decision for happiness is? We spend so much time dealing with academics and discipline that we forget the spiritual. Not to open a Pandora's box with the word spiritual, it is defined as our moment to moment internal state of affairs. For example, we often say, "He is in poor spirits" or "Her spirits are high." With courage and practice, we can choose the state of our spirit. Given the choice why would we not choose high spirits? We always have the choice. Our students need to know that.Summary
Humans gravitate toward what they perceive will bring them joy. The grace we get is the grace we project. A Shambhala warrior is one who knows who she or he is. Anger only hurts the one who is angry. Happiness is our decision to let go of judgments based upon the past. Vision is a choice...a commitment to a cause. I will offer only magnitude today to myself and others. I am responsible for what I see. We can save the world through expanding love thoughts and forgiveness. We always have a choice. We can choose happiness. Resources
Letters and Notes
With this, the second issue of A Course for Teachers, we wish to invite our readers to share their thoughts and opinions. We are especially interested in accounts of changing perceptions which lead to changes in world experience. Please forward all correspondence to the address found on page two. Correspondence may be in any form including handwritten, typed, word processed (any disk size) plain ASCII, or FAXed at (802) 325-3690 *51.
Presently, an aging Epson RX80 prints the newsletter. This accounts for the somewhat jagged nature of the characters. With an increase in subscribers, A Course for Teachers hopes to replace the printer with a laser device. Subscribers may help by passing along word of the newsletter to family, friends and colleagues.Parting Thoughts
There is one thought in particular that should be remembered throughout the day. It is a thought of pure joy; a thought of peace, a thought of limitless release, limitless because all things are freed within it.
Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.
It is only when people begin to shake loose from their preconceptions, from the ideas that have dominated them, that we begin to receive a sense of opening, a sense of vision.
© 1993 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski