The experience of personal hell

Monday, Mar 22, 2021 2276 words 10 mins 6 secs
An A Course in Miracles Blog  © 2021 Paul West

"Some illusions are shared, and some are part of your personal hell."

In this world, there are circumstances, events, happenings, situations, scenarios, some of which seem tolerable, and some of which are a nightmare. And rest assured that the world is set up in such a way that problems are endless and inescapable, all roads lead to death, and it is only a matter of time before things go wrong. It's built into spacetime itself. And according to the world's laws, everything is dead as soon as it is born.

But what makes it hell, isn't so much "what happens" or the current configuration of the external world. It's more to do with how you experience it. Whether you experience it like a happy dream, or like a horrifying nightmare, depends entirely on what's going on in your mind.

Regardless of whether you are in a good place mentally, or a bad place, the world will still keep functioning according to its nature. Animals die. Trees burn. Houses crumble. Cars break. Food rots. And planets are consumed by supernovae. This is built into spacetime. This is the rules of physics by which the world seems to be governed.

"You do not really want the world you see, for it has disappointed you since time began. The homes you built have never sheltered you. The roads you made have led you nowhere, and no city that you built has withstood the crumbling assault of time. Nothing you made but has the mark of death upon it. Hold it not dear, for it is old and tired, and ready to return to dust even as you made it."

The question is, what meaning, purpose, use, attitude and way of perceiving you are going to have, while this stuff is happening. And what you make of it is going to determine whether or not you experience happiness or unhappiness, invulnerability or suffering, health or death. And you do in fact have it within your power to experience this script of the world, in a way that entails NO negative reaction at all.

Reactions to the world are ENTIRELY based on a belief that you are at the effect of the world. That the world is the cause of you. If you believe this in a way, in any situation, your mind will inflict imagined states of suffering upon itself. It will perceive itself as victimized, demoralized, attacked, hurt, threatened, abused and upset. And all of this is ONLY in response to how the mind is perceiving and using the situation. These experiences don't depend on what is "happening" in the world, it only depends on your use of them. Or the meaning you give them.

When you are lost in the ego, in specialness and self interest and attachment and arrogance, confused and blinded and lost and afraid, you likely will feel like you are ONE WITH the world. In this experience, there is no distinction between what the world seems to be doing, and what you seem to be experiencing. There is no "positive separation" between you and events. And when they happen, they seem to happen directly to you, causing you to suffer, upsetting you, threatening you and making you hurt. And you can see no seeming way to stop them.

But when you step back and remember that you have responsibility for your thoughts, your perception, your attitude, your beliefs, etc... you are in fact CONTRIBUTING to how you experience what is happening. If you suffer and are upset when something "bad" seems to happening, it is not really because of what happens, but because of your beliefs about it.

Let's say, you value human bodies and believe bodies are really people. You have some favorite bodies and you want to keep them around. You are attached to them and value them, and use them for self interests. And then one of these bodies is attacked and dies. And now you will experience what seems like real loss and terrible grief, will be sad and in despair. And it will seem cruel and unfair and you will feel victimized by it, angry at the person for leaving and abandoning you. But this is ONLY because of your mind's attitude about the body, about the events that transpired, and what it means to you. And you could just as easily laugh about it.

What happens, is not why you suffer. The world does not cause the suffering. Events don't have any power to do anything to you. No-one can cause you. Nothing in the world can oppress you or make you sick or dead. There is no causal power, no will, no mind in the world, capable of influencing you in any way at all. At least, not if you are in your right mind. Not if you are recognizing that the world is FICTION. And not if your beliefs are fully lined up with the truth. No one who recognizes that the world is a dream could possible take it seriously.

"You would not react at all to figures in a dream that you knew you were dreaming."

So it isn't the state of the world, or what happens, or who does what to whom, that makes you suffer in any way. It's not the reason why you are unhappy or upset or afraid. Any "re-actions" you have are EFFECTS that your mind is inventing to correspond to and are consequences of the CAUSES that your same mind is believing exist, happening against you from the outside in.

Your mind, attacks itself, and believes it is hurt by these attacks. And it believes the cause of these attacks is not itself, but something external to itself. This is because your mind disassociates from itself and is split. Two parts of mind at war with each other. And this split minded state is the only way your mind can experience suffering, at its own hand, and disowned.

I went through hellish experiences a little over a year ago. I managed to try to stay strong through some of it, as much as I could muster, but I was still beaten down, tempted, torn apart by it, terribly upset, stressed, like going through the worst living nightmare possible. But time has passed, and healing has occurred, and forgiveness has been applied. And I now look back and can ask myself, what is it that made it seem like hell at the time?

The answer is always that it only seemed like hell because I took it seriously, I forgot to laugh, I thought it was real, I believed in bodies, I believed in external threats, I saw others as enemies, I decided what things meant, I read into it, I feared for possible futures, and basically MADE the whole thing a nightmare. Internally. I allowed it INTO my mind, by my belief in it being real.

"Whatever you accept INTO your mind has reality for you."

I accepted it into my mind, through belief in external causes, which was really MY mind causing itself against itself, perceptions of hell and nightmarish threatening situations. It wasn't merely that the situations were there to make me stronger at the ego level, but they were there for me to rise above my own self attack. The lesson was not to suffer and become stronger because of it, but to become stronger in rejection of the suffering. Realizing I was doing it to myself, making it worse, inflating it, reading into it, giving it meaning.

At the time, yes, I was not ready or able to stop myself from doing this. I was not far enough along in my clarification of what I was doing to not make it worse for myself. I didn't know the many ways I believed bodies were real and hospitals were threats and all the rest of it. I "did my best at the time", certainly. But I still made it hell for myself, within, in spite of that. And that is where the real lesson is.

It is not what happens, it's what you make of it. And if you believe the world is real, you will suffer. And if you believe that other people are bodies, you will fear for their lives. And if you believe the world can attack someone and make them sick against their will, you will suffer along with them. And in all this false empathy you will feel victimized as much as the person you think has been victimized. And this is all an inside job.

I could-a should-a would-a laughed through the whole thing and not taken it remotely seriously and simply resurrected and healed and brushed it off as nonsense. But I wasn't ready to be able to do that at the time, so I suffered. But I suffered because of my beliefs, my attachments, my valuing of unreal things. And in every way, all of my suffering was really INSIDE myself, not really anything that anyone was actually doing outside of me. It was my inner experience that became hellish. It was my inner feelings and reactions that were my suffering, and it was all ultimately self inflicted. I chose it through believing in it.

Many people would say it's completely understandable that I would feel so upset given what was happening. And many would say that anyone would feel that way. And that when such things happen everyone is stricken with fear. And that this is all completely normal and natural. But it IS NOT. It is mental illness, and it is extremely widespread. Because we're not willing to look deeply and honestly enough at what is really happening in our minds, and what and HOW we are doing it to ourselves. No one is supposed to be unhappy, or suffering, or sick or dead, ever.

For a time I could not see my involvement in it, and just kept having these upsetting flashbacks of how "it was hell" and how upsetting and ridiculous it was. Because I could not "positively separate out" the what from the meaning. And emotional memories of ego experiences are always from a victim vantage point - the "one with the suffering" viewpoint.

I couldn't realize how I DID have a choice and I WAS choosing and the way I suffered was actually my own choice, albeit somewhat unconscious at the time. I didn't realize I could believe otherwise because I believed too heavily in the body and the world being reality. So the suffering was somewhat inevitable. And it was not the world's fault. It was my mistaken mindset. I had to learn that bodies aren't real and the loss of body parts has no effect on the spirit.

I used to also have a fear that it was going to repeat and something just as bad would happen again. But this too is melting because I can't fear that "hell will happen again" if I am realizing that I am the one who caused it to seem like hell. In choosing not to do that to myself again, I can render myself invulnerable. No matter what seems to transpire. A happy dream is an empowered dream, in which I am cause, not effect.

The only benefit perhaps to such trials, such suffering experiences, isn't so much that you learn skills or abilities to get through it and survive, but more that you learn the part you play in making it seem to be what it is. In taking responsibility for sight. In owning your power of decision to choose differently. To use it as an opportunity to forgive, and not as an opportunity to attack yourself. Because at the end of the day we really are just using the world to try to prove that we are weak and vulnerable and must die in guilt, which none of us really deserve or need.

You can set yourself free from hell, but it does require that you learn the beliefs you hold about the world are false. The valuing of bodies and the fear of sickness and death has to go. The indentifying with a body, and others with theirs, has to go. Otherwise you are going to suffer sooner or later, by your own choice. The secret of salvation tells you this. Nothing happens without your own consent. And all the ways that you experience any situation is you doing it to yourself, no matter whether it seems like you are the victim or the victimizer or who seems to play what role, in what is essentially a non-existent illusion of happenings.

You can't get out of hell by talking yourself into it, justifying why the world is real and why it's okay that there is suffering, by telling yourself that it's okay that bodies are dying, or trying to adjust to hell. You cannot find peace through making the world real and then trying to make yourself at peace with its real hell. The only way to escape it is to not believe in it at all, otherwise you do hell to yourself long before the world becomes hell to you.

The Holy Spirit will repeat this ONE inclusive lesson of deliverance, until it has been learned, REGARDLESS of the form of suffering that brings you pain. Whatever hurt you bring to Him, He will make answer with this very simple truth. For this one answer TAKES AWAY the cause of every form of sorrow and of pain. The form affects His answer not at all, for He would teach you but the SINGLE cause of all of them, no matter WHAT their form. And you will understand that miracles reflect the simple statement, "I have done this thing, and it is this I would undo."

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