Banish Fear, Encounter Love! Inspired, lively, and fun, Maria Felipe’s real-world approach to living based on A Course in Miracles will guide you toward a life released from fear and doubt and filled with joy and power. In nine crystal-clear chapters, Maria shows you how to banish the “cuckoo voice of the ego” and connect with your internal teacher, accessing unlimited love and strength. Her stories, shared from her own life and from her students’ experiences, demonstrate that with a willing attitude and an open heart, true happiness isn’t just possible — it’s inevitable!
|Publisher:||New World Library|
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About the Author
Rev. Maria Felipe, a Cuban American born in Miami, found success as a model and actress before following a spiritual path that led her to study A Course in Miracles. She became an ordained minister at Pathways of Light and now leads monthly services in both Spanish and English at Unity Church in Burbank, California.
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Live Your Happy
Get Out Of Your Own Way And Find The Love Within
By Maria Felipe
New World LibraryCopyright © 2017 Maria Felipe
All rights reserved.
You Are Not Bad, and You Are Not Going to Hell
Suffering is not happiness and it is happiness you really want.
— ACIM, workbook lesson 73
People often suffer from trying to live up to expectations that have been imposed on them. These expectations may come from a church, a community, or even one's own family. When I was eighteen, I attended a Catholic retreat where I was expected to confess my sins to a priest. Yikes! I remember thinking that this couldn't be right because:
1. I was not a sinner, and
2. if I was, why would I confess to a total stranger?!
I also attended a lecture where I was told that one shouldn't have sex before marriage and that liking someone of the same sex was wrong. I was laughing inside, thinking, This is just stupid!
My parents are of different religions. My dad is Presbyterian, and my mom is Catholic. When I told them I was not comfortable with what I heard at church, they told me I could choose my religion when I was older. That was a true blessing because they recognized that, even though I was young, I knew the truth. We all know the truth; we just forget it sometimes. What gets in the way of remembering the truth within is usually guilt — a parasite in our minds that feeds on our energy and does not let us live our happy!
Time and time again I find that my students and clients are carrying around heavy guilt because of something they did in the past, leading them to believe that they are basically bad. They say things like:
"I lied and cheated, and then I left my family."
"I 'came out' to my parents and family too early."
"Because I did something really bad in the past, I am no longer like everyone else."
A Course in Miracles suggests instead that we all feel guilty for just one reason: We think we have separated from God. Even if we seem to have many problems, this is really the only problem. This might be hard to understand at first; I didn't get it for a while, either. For now, I just ask you to trust me about this, and I'll help you understand it as we go along.
Who Is God?
First of all, who is God really? The Course sums it up very simply: "God is but love, and therefore so am I." What this means is that our Source is pure love, not some punishing Father who wants us to confess our sins, follow commandments, and believe only certain things and not others. For a lot of us, love can often seem to be very far away. Without really thinking it through, we tend to blame ourselves for our distance from love.
Once we believe we have separated from God, our Source of love, as if that weren't punishment enough, then we begin to fear being punished for turning away. Because we believe we should be punished, we do it to ourselves. We start creating unsolvable problems — what I call our "big deals" — so we can pay for the mistake of separating from God. Then we get obsessed with our big deals instead of the real problem underneath them all. As the Course suggests, we are never upset for the reason we think.
Before you know it, we've created an entire world of illusions where we think we can hide from a cruel God — who never wanted to punish us in the first place. We're followed everywhere by our self-created guilt. That doesn't feel too good, so then we decide all our problems are somebody else's fault.
That means we project our guilt onto the world, and now we are really screwed. The result of our projections is distrust, unhappiness, and betrayal between individuals and even war between cultures and nations. We suspect others of causing our misery, and we get locked into conflicts, big and small, that we just can't seem to resolve. We usually don't see that our conflicts are rooted in the belief that we somehow turned away from God and lost touch with love.
How Did We Lose Touch with Love?
In the beginning, there was perfect happiness. Sometimes this state is referred to metaphorically as the Garden of Eden, but it's really a state of mind that's pure bliss. Ecstasy! No judgments, sadness, anger, or sickness existed ... only love. Then arose a very silly thought: "Is there something else?" That was the beginning of doubt, and as the Course suggests, "No one has been sure of anything since" (ACIM, ch. 3, section V).
Exactly when did this mistaken thought occur? The answer is: just a moment ago.
It's happened countless times before, but the only time that counts is the most recent one because the only time that matters is now. We are constantly thinking that we are separate from God, removing ourselves from the love that is our true nature. That's why we remain in such a painful world. How long we've been there is really beside the point.
If you want to live your happy instead of being trapped in a world of separation, you have to understand that you've created all the big deals that keep you in a separated state. Here are just a few of the typical, familiar big deals:
"I can't afford my taxes."
"Modern politics are ruining the country."
"The system is rigged against me."
"I have to go to court."
"He didn't text me!"
"I didn't get the job."
"I lost my driver's license."
You believe such problems are real, buying into them and giving away your power. It appears that something is happening outside yourself, and you worry about it day in and day out, even lose sleep over it.
You may be thinking: But my problems are really happening! I have to deal with them. They exist! I used to feel that way, too, until I began to look past the form of things and see the bigger picture. Gradually, I became aware that if I kept believing in the form of all my problems, I was going to keep losing my peace and never get it back.
The good news is that even though it seems that we have separated from God, we are still with God and in God. Our Father holds us in such high regard that he would never ever make this sick, sad, depressing world real for us. You might consider it God's will that we must suffer in order to learn and grow, but is this what a truly loving parent would do?
According to the Course, God is not some faraway divine person who sits in judgment of us and doles out punishments or rewards. God is simply the capacity for perfect love that is always within each of us. Forgetting God means forgetting who we really are. Forgetting ourselves means looking at the world through the eyes of fear, when we have the choice of looking through the eyes of love. Looking out with fear is very common, but it's not compulsory!
The Solution to Our Problems
The way to solve problems begins with understanding where they are not. Our problems are not "out there" in the world; they are in our mind. When we believe our problems are out there, they will rapidly grow in number and intensity until it feels like we are living in hell. Hell is not some awful place where God sends people for being bad; hell is unhappiness, right where we are right now. To live our happy, we have to face all our big deals and forgive them. In other words, we let go of all the crap we keep telling ourselves. The simple fact is that we create all of our own experiences, and we can start creating better ones right now.
For instance, in 2009, four years after I got married, I became a divorce statistic. At the beginning, I felt a lot of loss and sadness, and I did not deny those feelings. I let myself cry, vent, and even scream! The same year, I began my studies at Pathways of Light, where I went to heal my pain about my lost marriage. The Pathways material helped me deal more effectively with my feelings by teaching me to give them over to my inner guidance, which we'll look at more closely in the next chapter.
Pathways and the Course eventually got me unhooked from thinking, Oh, this is such a big deal — I am getting a divorce, and my life is over! I began to release the big deal through accepting what I felt, and then giving all of it over to something bigger: God. I couldn't heal all by myself; I needed inside help. That help enabled me to avoid self-destructive thinking, such as: Something is wrong with me because I am about to get divorced.
Shift in Perception
The Course defines a miracle as a "shift in perception," meaning that we choose to see things in a different way. Once I had allowed myself to feel the initial pain of my divorce, I was able to make some choices about how to see it. These "shifts in perception" included the following:
I chose to see how much I grew in the relationship, how it made me both more humble and more confident.
I chose to see how it taught me what true teamwork is.
I chose to see that loving my husband meant being willing to let him go to find his happiness (and then I could, too).
I chose to see that we both became better people because of our marriage.
I chose to appreciate that now we have the ability to extend more love to the world because of our growth together.
Finally, the most beautiful gift of my "big deal" divorce was that it brought me to find my purpose. Seeking healing after my divorce led me to Pathways, where I began studying to become a minister — which was definitely not in my life plan before I married!
This is how I learned one of the great lessons of my spiritual life: Extraordinary gifts can be hidden in events that appear to be hard or ugly. To look for a miracle means facing those dark places in yourself where you still need to heal. Then you can learn to let go of the barriers that keep you from recognizing the love that you are — that is, God within. This means recognizing the "divine order" in even the most difficult challenges of your life. You have to allow for a miraculous shift in perception to see that order, so you can live your happy!
Here's a lesser "big deal" that still taught me something valuable. I once received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service informing me that my corporate taxes were late and that a penalty would be assessed. If I refused or didn't meet the deadline, I was threatened with fines, garnishing of my bank account, even jail. Yikes! I was ready to freak out, but by this time I had some practice in not allowing big deals to upset me.
Instead of buying into all the threats and reacting with fear, I simply sat down and wrote a calm, factual letter to the IRS explaining that I was not aware of the filing deadline, as my accountant had not alerted me that it was earlier than my personal filing. Then I dropped worrying about it. Within a couple of months I received a letter notifying me that the penalty would not be assessed on a first- time offense. Because I didn't fall for my own fears, the IRS suddenly turned nice!
Please note: The key is to be happy no matter the outcome. If I had received opposite news from the IRS, I would have reminded myself that the real problem was within, and then let go of thinking it was such a big deal. Then I could have dealt with whatever I needed to do in joy.
In short, there is a way to keep doing the happy dance no matter what happens. ... Rumbaaa lalala rumbaaa!
Practice: Facing Your "Big Deals"
Now I would like you to write a list of all the nasty feelings of fear, lack, guilt, and insecurity that you may suffer from. To get started, ask yourself these three questions:
1. What major problems are you experiencing right now?
2. What outcomes do you fear?
3. What thoughts make you sad?
As you describe these troubles and challenges, follow these four rules:
1. Be as raw and honest as you can be.
2. Don't try to be too "spiritual" about what you really feel and think.
3. Be gentle with yourself.
4. Trust the process.
Many of my clients have some difficulty with these rules, especially number 2 if they are devoted to being religious or spiritual. People resist looking at difficult feelings by saying:
"I don't want to feel those feelings because they are in the past, and I have been praying and meditating."
"What's the point of feeling those feelings? I don't like them."
"I don't want to look at any ugly thoughts because it is not who I am now."
However, there is nothing spiritual about withholding feelings and brushing things under the rug. Pretending that we're happy is not the same as being happy!
Make your list of "big deals," and don't hold back. We will work with this list in the next chapter!
SUMMARY OF KEY POINTS
We typically suffer from a combination of societal expectations and personal guilt.
The pressures and guilt we feel can make it seem as if we have an overload of problems.
There is really only one problem: the idea that we separated from God, or the Love within that is our true nature.
We stay separated and unhappy by making some of our problems into "big deals" that seem impossible to overcome.
The key to solving all our problems is recognizing that they are not "out there," but within our own mind.
We can choose to see our "big deals" differently; deciding to shift our perception is what A Course in Miracles calls a "miracle."
To start seeing your problems differently, you have to be honest about them, while also being gentle with yourself — and not too "spiritual"!CHAPTER 2
You Are Not Who You Think You Are
There is no statement that the world is more afraid to hear than this: I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not know what I am doing, where I am, or how to look upon the world or on myself.
— ACIM, chapter 31, section V
We can choose to see the world through the eyes of love or through the eyes of fear. This is the fundamental choice of our everyday life. In the terms of A Course in Miracles, this means deciding between the thought systems of the Holy Spirit or the ego. The whole world as we experience it exists because most people choose ego — the way of fear — most of the time. That is, we tend to think that we are separate, alone, unworthy, and guilty. Please excuse my Spanish if I suggest that this is all a bunch of caca!
In fact, I call the ego our "cuckoo" voice: It's the part of the mind that worries, judges, fears, and holds grudges. In short, the ego is out to kill our happy. The good news is that another completely different way of thinking is available to us. The Holy Spirit is right there inside our minds, waiting for the chance to remind us that happiness is our divine right! We have the power to choose freedom, and even though we may forget we have that choice, we always have more opportunities to choose love. The patience and kindness of the Holy Spirit never go away. Whenever we drift away, the Holy Spirit just waits for our return.
We drift because the ego can be very powerful. It convinces us of two simultaneous, contradictory ideas: The first is that we're unworthy, unlovable, and just not good enough; and the second is that we'll somehow find happiness out in the world, even though we don't really deserve it. Thus, our ego convinces us that if we somehow find the perfect job or relationship, we'll be happy. If we put tons of cash in the bank, we'll be happy. If we graduate from college, get a promotion, and so on, we'll be happy. But as the Course puts it so bluntly: "The ego's rule is, 'Seek but do not find' [and] 'Try to learn but do not succeed'" (ACIM, ch. 12, section V). Obviously, there's just no way to win with this thought system.
Your Happy Comes from Within
We have two teachers we can choose from. Depending on which thought system we choose, we are literally deciding whether to live in hell (where ego takes us) or heaven (the Holy Spirit's neighborhood). These are not places in the afterlife; they are the ways we experience existence right now. We will experience our existence exactly as we choose: "Your picture of the world can only mirror what is within. The source of neither light nor darkness can be found without" (ACIM, workbook lesson 73).
For example, when I was going through my divorce, my ex-husband once called to express some anger that left me feeling very sad. My ego reaction came up right away: Who does he think he is? What a jerk! Poor me! I haven't done anything wrong. He should be paying me alimony. ... Blah blah blah. After a while I caught on, looked at where my thoughts were taking me, and began to pray: "Holy Spirit, I am feeling very sad. All my thoughts are hurting me now. I must have chosen wrongly, so now I choose again. Heal my mind, Holy Spirit — I want peace instead of this."
Excerpted from Live Your Happy by Maria Felipe. Copyright © 2017 Maria Felipe. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Foreword Angélica Vale xi
Chapter 1 You Are Not Bad, and You Are Not Going to Hell 9
Chapter 2 You Are Not Who You Think You Are 19
Chapter 3 You Are Not Alone 31
Chapter 4 You Are the Love of Your Life 43
Chapter 5 You Are Now Ready to Practice the F Word 55
Chapter 6 You Are Fearless 67
Chapter 7 You Are Not Stuck 79
Chapter 8 You Are Getting Ready 93
Chapter 9 Living Your Happy 105
About the Author 117