Episode 18, Lesson 10: “My Thoughts Do Not Mean Anything”

Text: “My Thoughts Do Not Mean Anything”

Welcome to Episode 18 of A Course in Miracles for Social Activists. I’m your host, Mike Rivage-Seul. I’m a liberation theologian, social activists, and longtime student of A Course in Miracles. On this podcast (for reasons outlined in Episode 3 we’re understanding ACIM as written specifically for North Americans living in the belly of our imperial beast.

From that viewpoint, A Course in Miracles calls us to quit attacking the world’s poor and to stop believing that they are attacking us. Whether they live in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iran, Cuba, Russia, Syria, Somalia, or China, they are not our enemies. They are our sisters and brothers.  

Towards understanding that message more fully, today’s ACIM lesson can be very powerful. It asks us so-called “Americans” to face the fact that (as the lesson puts it) “My thoughts” (about such people – and everything else for that matter) “do not mean anything.” The lesson asks us to clear our minds of all falsehoods (i.e., of ALL our brainwashed thoughts without exception) and even to make our own the prayer, “Release me, Lord, from all that I now believe.”

Is that radical enough for you? “Release me, Lord, from all that I now believe.”

By inspiring that prayer, Lesson 10 calls attention to the fact that we are all quite thoroughly propagandized – especially, I would say, by religion and white supremacist American history. For instance, we’ve been instructed from childhood in a religious mythology that would have us accept a story like the following:

  • God is an old man in the sky watching our every move.
  • If we disobey his commands, he will judge, condemn, and punish us for all eternity, torturing us in a lake of fire causing the worst pain imaginable.
  • He (sic) is especially concerned about sex.
  • That is, he gave us a sex drive second in power only to the instinct for self-preservation.
  • Yet he will punish any sexual thought, word, or deed outside the marriage context with the hell just described.
  • And this God, who (according to these beliefs) threatens to treat us as only a pathologically cruel parent would, somehow loves us!
  • [George Carlin is especially eloquent on all of this (though rather scatological, I must admit). For a good laugh and a dose of truth, check him out].

As for our political beliefs, we’ve been taught (with equal problematics) that:

  • Our country’s founders were extraordinary even saintly men.
  • Even though they committed genocide against the original inhabitants of the land our so-called Founding Fathers stole.
  • And even though the nation’s fortunes were built directly on the backs of millions of kidnapped and enslaved Africans who worked without pay for nearly 300 years (1619-1865), who were subject to formal segregation for another hundred years after that, and who still describe their condition as second class.
  • We are also taught to believe that our country is a force for good in the world even though it remains (as described by Dr. Martin Luther King) the “greatest purveyor of violence” on earth.
  • And despite all our election riggings at home (through voter suppression laws, gerrymandering, bought elections, etc.) – not to mention routine interference in other countries’ elections – “we” are somehow authorized to pontificate about democracy throughout the world.
  • And even though in the last 20 years we’ve fought seven wars against Muslims (killing well over a million of them in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia, and who knows where else?) we can lecture the Chinese on their alleged “genocide” of Uyghurs “imprisoned” in re-education camps one-sidedly vilified in our mainstream media.
  • (Again, as George Carlin might remind us, all of this is no less B.S. than our unquestioned religious beliefs.)  

In any case, you get the idea. Lesson 10 wants us to clear our minds of all the false ideas that plague our thinking processes – i.e., it asks us to provisionally discard EVERYTHING we’ve been taught to believe – especially religiously, politically, and historically!!

So, following the lesson’s direction, try to spend a minute or so five times today reminding yourself as random thoughts occur to you:

My thought about ____ does not mean anything.

My thought about ____ does not mean anything.

Then add:

“This idea will help to release me from all that I now believe.”

Try it.

We’ll move on to Lesson 11 next time. Till then, this is Mike Rivage-Seul wishing you well and God’s abundant blessings.

Podcast Episode 17 in ACIM for Social Activists: “I See Nothing as It Is Now”

AUDIO

TEXT:I See Nothing as It Is Now

Today, we have reached Lesson Nine in A Course in MiraclesWorkbook for Students. It reads, “I see nothing as it is now.”

The lesson addresses the fact that most of us are living in the past. So, we end up with a world view dictated by ideas and understandings that my wife, Peggy, keeps dismissing as “so 20th century.”

For those committed to social justice, such dated concepts and explanations have to do with patriotism, but also with Jesus whose voice is centralized in A Course in Miracles.

As for outdated patriotism, we continue to live as though the U.S. were not the failed state that it is – as though, for instance, China’s system were not proving much more efficient in providing for its people and responding to emergencies such as COVID-19. China has been spectacular in eliminating grinding poverty.

Meanwhile, the failed nature of the U.S. system is shown by its systemic gridlock. It simply cannot make the decisions that must be taken even to deal with basic health care. For instance, with a population of just over 300 million, America has lost over 800,000 to COVID-19. At the same time, with a population four times larger, China has lost fewer than 5,000 to the pandemic.

Even more basically, the U.S. economy and political system are far less efficient than China’s.

Here in the United States, we’ve become dependent not on producing goods and services, but on the financial sector – on investments, banking, debt, stocks, and bonds. As economist Michael Hudson keeps pointing out, these sectors are unproductive and parasitic. They represent overhead rather than productive income.

By contrast, China has a far healthier economic system that actually provides manufacturing jobs and a rising standard of living for its people. In our globalized economy, that’s possible, because industries are drawn to China by wages that are much lower than in the U.S.

Yet, even with low wages, the Chinese working class is prospering, because of the country’s centralized economy that provides health care gratis and free education for its people along with subsidized housing, food and transportation. Those “social wages” constitute the equivalent of thousands of extra dollars added to each month’s paycheck for Chinese workers.

Besides that, the nationalized Chinese banking system (absent the profit motive) can easily remedy any debt problems by simply erasing debts should any sector develop problems.

As a result of all this, catching up with China will be virtually impossible for the United States as long it continues embracing the neo-liberal capitalist model. For one thing, that arrangement finds it unthinkable to engage in long-term planning; it can’t see beyond projected returns on a quarterly basis. Among other liabilities, that makes it impossible, for example to cope with climate change, that demands anticipating weather events decades from now.

In fact, to actually compete with the centrally planned elements of China’s economy, the U.S. would have to follow systemic suit. However, America’s programs of privatization, deregulation and tax reduction has the country moving in the exact opposite direction.

Course correction would have to include the ideologically “impossible” steps of taming of wage spirals by:

  • Taking de facto central planning away from Wall Street and returning it into the hands of elected government officials
  • Raising taxes on the 1%
  • Nationalizing the banking system
  • Enacting a Green New Deal to provide productive, environment-saving jobs for the unemployed and under-employed
  • Providing free tuition for all post-secondary students
  • Forgiving the $1.5 trillion that students still owe for their educations, thus freeing them to actually buy homes, automobiles and other necessities
  • Nationalizing health care thus relieving both employers and employees from the burden of meeting the costs of medical treatment and pharmaceuticals

The sad truth however is that without some apocalyptic catastrophe and without transcending our hamstrung two-party system, the chances of taking such measures (even if Democrats were to retain control of both houses of Congress) are nil. Consequently, China will continue to outstrip the United States economically and socially. Simply put, its system is more flexible than the neo-liberal model.

In today’s 9th lesson in A Course in Miracles, Jesus’ voice is once again addressed specifically to North Americans. He calls us to depart from the vision promulgated by the propaganda of our cave-prison. His message suggests for instance that China (and other socialist countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela) are not our inveterate enemies. According to A Course in Miracles, no one is our enemy. No one is attacking us. There is really only one of us here. The Chinese are our sisters and brothers. There is no distinction between them and us.

Today’s lesson tells us that understanding this simple idea (as difficult as it might be to accept) “is a prerequisite for undoing your false ideas.” It is necessary to clear the mind of its “debris that darkens it.”

So, today during your practice periods as you watch the news that touches our country’s “official enemies,” say to yourself:

I do not see China as it is now.

I do not see Russia as it is now.

I do not see Venezuela as it is now.

I do not see Nicaragua as it is now.

I do not see North Korea as it is now.

I do not see Cuba as it is now.

See if you can remember to repeat this exercise three or four times during the day.