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Dare to Be Happy
By Daniel Tipton*

The Burden of Knowing Better


After reading ACIM for some time, we begin to learn some of its core teachings. A couple concepts are that we are responsible for our experience (or how we see things) and that giving in to fear will lead to more misery. However, in this world, we are presented with a daily barrage of experiences that challenge these teachings. Without ACIM we might simply give in and blame the world for our unhappiness or attack somebody out of fear and think nothing of it. With ACIM, we have no choice but to hold ourselves responsible. Our "burden" is that we know better now. That burden is responsibility but it fosters empowerment, freedom, and change. We may not choose correctly every time, but we will certainly be aware of the fact that it was indeed a choice.

Why do we choose to do things that will make us unhappy? The answer is temptation. Temptation is a feeling that drives us to do things whether or not they make sense or are good for us. Many times, temptation is fed by fear and fear is also fed by lack of trust in God.

I was recently presented with an opportunity to not give in to temptation. I was on a message board where one if its members was attempting to antagonize me by making fun of me and belittling me. Thankfully, I am a student of ACIM so I had an awareness of the situation. I was also aware that I had a choice. One choice was to attack back and inevitably feel guilt, fear, and disconnectedness. The other was to ignore it and remember that in my defenselessness, my safety lies. The second choice would most likely allow me to maintain a state of peace.

The temptation here was strong. The problem with temptation is that it feels real. It is very convincing in its efforts to persuade us to react from fear. I came up with every justification I could, knowing well that ACIM teaches that "attack is not justified in any form." Yet, I decided to give into temptation under the guise that it was "research" or testing a hypothesis that I knew was false but for some reason wanted to "check and see one more time". I made a snide comment back to the gentleman. The result was....

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The result was that I felt fearful, guilty, and disconnected from my brother. Another result was that he became even more vicious in his attacks. I could have easily predicted these results myself and not had to learn the hard way once again.

The conquering of temptation is something that must be handled over time, bit by bit, experience by experience. ACIM is a mental and experiential discipline that teaches us to give up every form of the temptation to think or behave out of fear. Diligent practice will show us more and more that it is never worthwhile to attack. Being conscious of the decision-making process inevitably leads us to make better decisions as we go. I have gotten to the point now that I actually feel it in my heart (I literally feel pain in my chest area) when I attack somebody. I still give in to temptation once in a while, but the consequences are so overwhelming now, that I have a very palpable incentive not to give in.

Existential philosophy teaches that with responsibility comes freedom. However, freedom is scary to some people because that means that they have to be responsible for themselves. Much like ACIM, blaming anything but ourselves for our state is like being in prison because we are at the mercy of something we perceive to be outside of ourselves and have no control over. If we are the choice-makers (which we are of course), then we are free from our illusory bondage. Ignorance of this truth can create sadness, depression, or a sense of helplessness. Embracing it can lead to a life of fulfillment and evolution.

All of this is why a vigilant, disciplined approach to ACIM can only lead to happiness. The conquering of temptation is fundamental to our progress. (I would like to note that in my experience, a regular meditation practice takes a significant edge off of temptation.) The fears that we have on a daily basis are very convincing. I remember a much needed break-up I went through when I actually said to myself "This feeling is so bad, that I certainly must be doing the wrong thing". That feeling was fear, and fear is always misleading. If we can find a way to decipher between a temptation to give in to fear or the opportunity to ask for a different way, things are bound to improve in our lives.

 

Blessings,
Daniel

*Daniel Tipton, a member of Course in Miracles Society, resides in Omaha, NE and is currently working on a masters degree in Counseling at UNO. Daniel is also one of the founding members of the new Miracle Cell Men's Team. He is in his second year of the 2 year ACIM Ministerial Program offered by the Community MiraclDaniel Tiptones Center and will be assisting at the 2013 ACIM Conference which will be held in Chicago. More Conference Information here

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