Undoing the Ego
Tami Simon: You’re listening to “Insights at the Edge.” Today I speak with Gary Renard. Gary has a remarkable story. Over the course of nine years, Gary was visited by two beings named Pursah and Arten in a series of encounters. These ascended beings, as Gary refers to them, claimed to have once been disciples of Jesus. And even more remarkably, one claimed to be Gary himself from a future incarnation. During the encounters, the beings introduced Gary to the book A Course in Miracles, and helped him to better understand that book’s central concept of forgiveness. Gary’s account of these conversations is recorded in his book The Disappearance of the Universe. He is also the author of the Sounds True Audio Learning programs “Secrets of the Immortal: Advanced Teachings from A Course in Miracles” and “The End of Reincarnation: Breaking the Cycle of Birth and Death.”
I spoke with Gary about The Disappearance of the Universe, the practice of putting the Holy Spirit in charge of your life, what forgiveness means to him, and what it means to undo the ego.
Gary, thanks for joining us at “Insights at the Edge.”
Gary Renard: I’m happy to be here.
Tami Simon: Your work is a bit controversial, or at least that’s what I discovered when I did a little web research on you. And it was controversial in the sense of some people saying of course how much benefit they got from your work, and it doesn’t really matter where the information comes from, and that’s not the point. But then other people really questioning how could it be possible that two beings spontaneously came in front of you, and over nine years transmitted the information that was featured in your book, The Disappearance of the Universe. And so I’m wondering if you could just tell our Sounds True listeners a little bit about this aspect of your work, how the information came to you. And then also, can you tell me anything that will convince me that this actually happened?
Gary Renard: Well, sure, Tami. I think that the thing that people do not understand if they question things like that, unless my readers and listeners do not question it, but for those who do, I would say to them that the Holy Spirit will show up for them in a way that they can accept and understand. For example, the Holy Spirit could show up to people in this dream, which is what it really is, as an angel. And they would say, “Oh, that’s an angel.” And you don’t understand that that’s really the Holy Spirit showing up to them in a way that they can accept and understand. The Holy Spirit could show up to them as a religious figure, like the Virgin Mary, and that’s something that other people could respect, understand, and it would be OK with them, because the Holy Spirit has to show up in the dream in a way that everybody can feel comfortable with.
Now for me personally, the Holy Spirit showed up as these two people on my living room couch, and that was a way that I could accept and understand. And that’s something that is a personal thing. So it’s helpful for everybody for the Holy Spirit to show up in a way that they can accept. That was acceptable to me; maybe it’s not acceptable to everybody, but it doesn’t have to be, because the truth is that everybody will be guided one step at a time along the path in a way that they can feel comfortable with. And that’s what’s important.
Tami Simon: So when you say the Holy Spirit, and that the Holy Spirit shows up in the way that we need, or the way that we can accept, what do you mean, the “Holy Spirit?”
Gary Renard: The Holy Spirit is simply your memory of God, your memory of home. Now, the Holy Spirit is very important because the Holy Spirit is your kind of like guiding light. It’s kind of like a lighthouse that guides you home. You can see the light from a distance, even if you’re really not ready for it, you can see it kind of like glimmering in the light, and you kind of like go toward it. And that’s what the Holy Spirit is.
Now, the closer you get to the Holy Spirit, the closer that it feels. And it’s kind of like a thing where you have to kind of like be guided one step at a time, and as you go there, the Holy Spirit will kind of like be speaking to you, almost like an idea in your mind. And as that idea is getting closer and closer, the stronger it gets.
Tami Simon: Now, let’s say someone’s listening, and they’re thinking, you know, “I want to have more of a direct experience of the Holy Spirit the way Gary’s describing it.” What do you suggest?
Gary Renard: Well, what you need to do in order to get that kind of like better experience in the Holy Spirit is to undo this thing that I’m going to call the “ego.” The ego is what you think is you; the ego is this personal identity, this kind of like thing that you think is you. And there have been many, many brilliant people who’ve gone a long ways toward describing the problem, toward describing ego, which is the idea of separation from your source, the idea of individual identity, personal existence. Certainly all the people that we listen to most nowadays, it’s like they’re very good at describing the problem. What they’re not very good at is describing a solution. They’re not very good at describing a way home.
What I believe is beautiful about A Course in Miracles, which is the spiritual teaching that my teachers based their opinions on, is that it does give you a way home. It actually undoes the ego. Like the Course says, “Salvation is undoing.” So it actually gives you a way of undoing the ego as quickly as possible, and leads you home. That’s something that Buddhism is also very good at. It’s like you undo the false you, you undo the ego, and eventually the real you is all that’s left.
And that’s why it’s such a brilliant approach, because you don’t have to struggle to be what you already are; you don’t have to kind of like put a lot of effort in to be what you already are, because you’re already perfect. All you have to do is undo the false you, and then eventually the real you will be all that’s left. And that’s what I think is a brilliant approach of great spiritual teachings like Buddhism and A Course in Miracles, is that it undoes the ego, and then eventually you’re home.
Tami Simon: Now, does your work underscore and highlight principles in A Course in Miracles, or does it take A Course in Miracles further in any way?
Gary Renard: Absolutely, because my work, it kind of like defines the solution. As I said before, people are very good at finding the problem. What I think is brilliant about A Course in Miracles is that it actually defines a solution, and it gets you home as fast as possible. And I’m not putting down anybody else’s work; I’m just saying that what is important is to go home, but you can’t do that without understanding that that’s the goal. There are a lot of people who will spend a lot of time kind of like defining everything that’s going on in the world, but so what? That’s just the world. The ultimate goal is to go home.
And you can’t do that without wanting to do that. It’s like you have to understand. Just like when I bring up people like God and Jesus and all that stuff, it’s like people think I’m religious. Actually I’m not; I’m not a very religious person. It’s just that at some point you have to realize that the problem was that we left home, and the solution is to go home. And when you understand that, which most people don’t, but when you understand that the time is to go home, then you will.
Tami Simon: OK now, just— You mentioned something, and maybe it was a verbal slip, but you said, “When I mention people like God and Jesus.” You don’t think of God as a person, do you?
Gary Renard: No. Actually God is a higher life-form than us. God is actually perfect love. It’s kind of like a butterfly compared to a caterpillar: we are caterpillars, and then we kind of go home to a higher life-form. And God does not think like people, because God is not human. And so God is really perfect love, just like the Bible said, just like A Course in Miracles says, God is actually perfect love.
And what we need to do instead of dragging God down to our level, what we need to do is go up to God’s level and be perfect love. That’s something only great masters like Buddha and Jesus understood, was that instead of dragging God down to their level, they had to go up to his level or her level, because God is not a “he” or a “she,” because there is no such thing as distinctions in perfect spirit.
So it’s kind of like—and I’m glad that you asked that question, because it’s kind of like God is absolutely perfect love, but you can’t compromise on that. If God is actually perfect love, then the only thing that perfect love would know how to do would be to love. And if God knew how to do anything else, then God wouldn’t be perfect love. So it’s very important to understand that distinction.
Tami Simon: You’re mentioned the word “home” several times. Now, I could clearly be home right now, right in this instant, no matter where I am listening to your words. True, yes?
Gary Renard: Well, you could, but it wouldn’t be easy, because it wouldn’t be true in your experience, unless you undo the ego, because the ego is interfering with that experience of being home. I think that a lot of students, no matter what their particular persuasion is—and I don’t say that A Course in Miracles is the only way to get home, there are many ways to get home. What I’m saying is that you have to undo this thing called the ego in order to actually have that in your experience that you are home. And that’s the difference between what most spiritual students are doing ; they’re really just trying to experience being here, and being here now, and being here better. And that’s fine, I’m not putting it down. But once again, it’s not a way home. It doesn’t actually define a way for you to get back to your source. And the undoing of the ego, which is as I said the brilliant approach of Buddhism or A Course in Miracles, is that it actually gives you a way home. So I think that’s the distinction that needs to be made.
Tami Simon: OK, I want to see if I understand what you’re talking about, because I know part of your work has to do with helping people understand the end of reincarnation, that it’s possible not to come back in a physical form, in a body on the earth. And I want to see, are you saying that home isn’t possible here on earth when we’re incarnated?
Gary Renard: Right. What I’m saying is that there’s this deep, ontological thing in the mind that runs people. And people don’t know about it because it’s unconscious. If it was conscious, then they’d be aware of it, but obviously it’s unconscious and they’re not aware of it. And this thing follows us from lifetime to lifetime, from incarnation to incarnation. And when you’re in that in-between period, that place that we would call the afterlife, or the in-between life, or whatever you want to define it as, it’s kind of like there. And just as this universe was made as an escape from that, when you’re in this in-between life, what happens is, is that you start to experience it, and the reason that you incarnate—or seem to incarnate again, because we’re never actually in a body; that’s a whole different subject, but we are apparently in bodies. And the reason that we come here is to escape from this.
Now, if you undid the problem, then you would have the solution. There wouldn’t be any reason for you to incarnate again; there wouldn’t be any reason for you to come to this world, which we think is really probably a beautiful place, in the case of some people, but the only problem is, is that it is a world of duality. It’s a world of life and death, it’s a world of up and down, it’s a world where you have all these different counterparts that go on and on. And what we want to do is get back to a world where there are no counterparts, where instead of kind of having kind of scarcity instead of abundance, and having both of those things, you get to a place where you only have abundance, you get to a place where you only have life instead of death also, where you don’t have these counterparts. That’s what A Course in Miracles means when it’s talking about the opposite of love is fear. But what is all-encompassing, which is obviously God, can have no counterparts.
So it’s kind of like you’re getting back to a place where you don’t have these problems, where you don’t have these really extreme kinds, bizarre things going on in front of our faces, where you only have beauty and wonder in abundance. And that experience is actually possible to have while you even appear to be here as a body. And that’s the experience that a great spiritual teaching like Buddhism or A Course in Miracles is directed toward.
Tami Simon: So to see if I understand you correctly, you, Gary Renard, could be home, right here, right now, with an undone ego, and that’s of course possible. There’s no need to sort of die and not come back in a physical form for that experience of home to be real.
Gary Renard: I think that that’s a beautiful way of putting it, Tami. I think that great masters like Jesus actually experienced their perfect divinity with God while they appeared to be here in a body. So they were walking around—yeah, they appeared to walk around as human beings, but the truth is, once the ego is completely undone, they’re having this experience of their perfect oneness with God. That’s resurrection. Resurrection is not something that occurs after you die; resurrection is something that occurs while you still appear to be here walking around in a body. And that’s the experience that the Course is directed toward.
Tami Simon: And so what is your relationship to your body? How do you experience your body?
Gary Renard: My relationship to my body is that it’s not me. And I used to think that it was very much me. I would hold my hand up here in front of my face, and I would say, “Wow, that’s me!” Or I would look in the mirror and I would say, “Wow, that’s Gary!” And now I understand that that’s not me at all, and it’s like a projection.
You know, the American Indians used to say, “Behold the great mystery.” A Course in Miracles says, “Behold the great projection.” Because that’s all that it is; it’s actually a projection that is coming from you. And it’s very much like a movie theatre. And I normally use this analogy because people who have read my books, The Disappearance of the Universe, or Your Immortal Reality, they understand that I like to go to the movies; that’s my hobby. And I go to the movie theatre, and my kind of like attention is distracted to the screen. It’s like I look at the screen and I get lost in it, and I might even get into it emotionally, and I forget that there’s this thing called a projector. You’re not supposed to look at the projector; you’re supposed to look at the screen. So our attention has been diverted to the screen. And that’s very much what this world is like: our attention has been diverted to the screen, and we forget that there’s not really anything happening on the screen, that what is happening is actually coming from a projector.
Now, if we wanted to change what was on the screen—and I’m not saying that’s the goal of the Course, but it certainly is kind of like something that happens as a side effect—when you kind of like focus on the screen, you’re at the effect. When you focus on the projector, then you’re at cause. That’s why A Course in Miracles says, “This is a course in cause and not effect.” So you know, you have all these Course in Miracles teachers kind of like teaching people how to change the world, and here’s A Course in Miracles saying there is no world. It’s like their focus is on the wrong place. Their focus is on the screen when their focus should be on the projector. The projector is the mind; the mind is hidden. It’s not something that you’re supposed to look at; just like in a movie theatre, you’re not supposed to look at that. But if you look at it, and if you changed what was in the projector, then the screen would take care of itself. You couldn’t help but have an immediate impact on the screen by changing what’s in the projector. That’s why this is a course in cause and not effect.
Tami Simon: OK, so let’s say I want to look at my life in terms of cause. Not how it’s manifesting, now what I may or may not believe, but I want to go directly to the cause. How do I do that according to your work?
Gary Renard: Well, the first thing you have to do is remember. You know, like the Course says, “What is a miracle? That this remembering.” What you have to do is shift from a place of cause to a place of effect. If you remember that everything is coming from you, then you’re at cause. If you forget, then you’re at effect. So remembering is the hardest part. In fact, that’s the hardest part of doing this. But that’s simple, yes. In fact, A Course in Miracles uses the word “simple” something like 158 times.
The only problem is, is that it’s simple, but it’s not easy. Because when you get caught up in the world, when you get caught up in your everyday life, it’s very difficult to remember that this is coming from you. But the more you get used to kind of like looking at it that way, then it becomes more and more impossible for you to ever react to it the same way that you did before. The more you get used to seeing the world like it’s coming from you instead of being done to you, now you’re not a victim. Now you’re actually doing something that’s coming from a place of possibilities that have kind of like power, instead of being kind of like a victim that has no power. There’s no power in being a victim, but there’s a lot of power in being at cause. There’s a lot of power in realizing that everything that you see is coming from you. And that’s the difference between great spiritual masters like Buddha and Jesus. They realized that the world was not being done to them; it’s actually being done by them. And that’s something that they understood, which was the road to enlightenment.
Tami Simon: I don’t understand what you mean, everything’s being done by them. Things aren’t being done to me, but they’re being done by me. Let me just take this a little further, Gary. I mean, I can imagine right now that the room I’m sitting in, that anything I can call it, any label, is an interpretation of my mind. So I could strip all the labels, all the concepts. But there still seems to be something happening; I don’t know what it is, but there’s kind of a happening happening[repetition deliberate] that’s happening—
Gary Renard: Yeah, OK!
Tami Simon: —that I didn’t make up, or whatever. I don’t know what to call it, and I don’t even have to give it “good” or “bad” or anything, but something seems to be happening, yes?
Gary Renard: Well, think of it this way, OK? When you were in bed last night and you had a dream, that dream did appear to be happening. And what we’re looking at right now, me appearing to talk to you on a telephone, you appearing to talk to me, all the things that we think are going on in our lives—and yes, we do appear to have problems, we do appear to have all these things going on. I think that I have bills to pay, I think that I have to pay for my retirement, I think that I have all this stuff going on. But is it really happening?
Events in the dream do appear to happen. I’m not denying that experience; I’m not here to deny anybody’s experience. What I’m hearing myself say is that this is a false experience, that it’s not really happening. So yes, it does appear to be happening, just like events in a dream last night did appear to be happening, but that doesn’t mean that they were real. They’re not real. It’s like Einstein described the human experience; he said, “What we are seeing is an optical delusion of consciousness.” It looks real, yes. I’m not here to deny that. I’m just here to say that it’s a false experience, that it’s not real, that it’s not true. Even a physicist today would say the same thing; he would say or she would say you’re a nonspatial being having a spatial experience. Yes, it does appear like you’re here. But the truth is, you’re not here.
Tami Simon: Right. Well, I’m a nonspatial being having a spatial experience. That I understand. I mean, that makes sense to me intuitively. But that actually nothing’s happening? That’s the part that doesn’t make sense to me. But maybe I don’t understand you.
Gary Renard: That’s OK. Because the answer to that question is not going to come to you or me in the form of an intellectual answer.
Tami Simon: Yeah.
Gary Renard: The answer to that question is going to come to you in the form of an experience, an experience of where you really are, and where you really are. And when you have that experience, which is what the Course is directed toward, when the Course says, “There is no answer, only an experience. Seek only this, and do not let theology delay you,” what the Course is saying there is that the real answer to all of our most difficult questions in life is going to come to us not in the form of intellectual answer, but in the form of an experience. That experience is the answer; that experience is the answer to all of our questions. That experience of being in God, perfectly one with God, which is the great mystical experience that people have described throughout the ages, throughout thousands of years—when you have that experience, that’s the answer, because all the questions that we have disappear in that experience.
That’s why I think that—this is just my personal opinion, but I think that spirituality is something that offers us something that we can experience, rather than intellectual answers. Intellectual answers are not going to do it for us; intellectual answers are not going to make us happy. They’re not going to do anything for us, except fill our heads with spiritual information, which does you absolutely no good whatsoever. But what will satisfy you, and what will make you happy is that personal experience of your oneness with God or your Source or the Tao or whatever you want to call it, that experience is the answer. And that’s what I’m going for.
Tami Simon: So then talk to me, Gary, not from a place of abstraction or theology, but from your experience. I mean, these beings appear, which I think would clearly break open anybody’s sense of solidity and the normal conceptions of time and space, but what has the experience been of the, you know, the title of your book The Disappearance of the Universe, that has left you incontrovertibly changed? Your experience.
Gary Renard: Well, that’s a brilliant question. I think that— The Disappearance of the Universe, the reason it was called that is because when you wake up from a dream, it disappears. It’s like, it’s not there anymore. And the only reason it could possibly disappear would be if it wasn’t real. If it was real, then it couldn’t disappear. So that’s the reason for the title.
And we’ve already described my teachers as the Holy Spirit showing up in a way that I could accept and understand. So I think that the only reason that people have taken my books seriously for the last six years is because—and certainly the book is spreading all throughout the world now, I’m in twenty different languages. And the reason that it’s being taken seriously is because it evokes an experience on the part of the people who are reading it, which means to me, personally, that that’s the Holy Spirit speaking to those people.
So it’s like the Holy Spirit showed up and talked to me in such a way that it would also be valuable in some way to other people. And I feel very grateful to be able to even participate in this, because there’s nothing special about me. I don’t claim to be anything special; I don’t have any degrees or credentials. I’m just a guitar player that went on and on for twenty years, and there’s really nothing spiritual about my background. It’s just that, wow, all the sudden this happened, and I feel very grateful to even be involved in this kind of a thing.
Tami Simon: So when you say “this happened,” you mean the appearance of these two teachers in an astral form?
Gary Renard: Yeah. They weren’t even in an astral form; they were actually appearing to me as bodies. They would even allow me to touch them; they were like human beings. And I think that the reason they appeared to me as human beings was because they wanted the conversations that we would have to be human. They wanted to speak to me right in my face and kind of like challenge me, and that made for a different style of conversation than what you have in most spiritual books. Most spiritual books, they’re kind of like nice, you know, and they’re polite, and they’re kind of like coming from a higher place, they’re kind of like channeled, and stuff like that. The Disappearance of the Universe and Your Immortal Reality, they’re not like that; they’re kind of right in your face. They’re kind of like the kind of conversations that people would naturally have. I have talked to Catholic priests who tell me that they love the books simply because of the fact that that’s the way that people talk to them in confession; you know, that’s the way that people actually talk in real life. And I think that that’s one of the appeals of my books, is the fact that they’re kind of like coming from a place where you can actually understand very bluntly what these guys are talking about.
Tami Simon: OK. So what I still want to understand is pre your experience of waking up from the dream, to use your language, and then post having woken up, what’s the world like to you now, and how is that different? How do you experience moment-by-moment life in a different way? What do you experience?
Gary Renard: Yeah. Well, there are a couple of things, Tami. It’s like, first of all, I don’t worry the way that I used to. I used to worry about everything. I used to worry about— And when this started happening like seventeen years ago, and now I’m working on my fourth book with Arten and Pursah, is that when I first started doing this, I used to worry about everything, and now I don’t. Frankly, I don’t worry about anything in this world.
I would like to say that I’m fearless because there’s nothing here that can threaten me. The Course says right at the beginning, “Nothing real can be threatened.” Well, I’m identifying with that something that is real, instead of something that is not real. And what is not real is our existence as individual human beings; that is not real. What is real is like that whole other level.
It’s the difference between being a caterpillar and being a butterfly. It’s like that whole different life-form that you graduate to. That’s the purpose of our spirituality, that’s the purpose of everybody that you record, that’s the purpose of everything that we’re going for. It’s like you can actually have that experience even while you appear to be your—as a human being. You can have that experience of being this perfect spirit, which is your reality, and once you have that experience, then you know that that’s the truth. There is nothing here that can compare with that. There’s nothing in this world that can compare with being this ultimate reality, which is exactly the same as God; not part of it, but all of it. This perfect oneness, which is all of it. And it’s actually possible for us to have that experience.
Now, you asked me what my experience is. Well, I experience that a lot of the time. I’m not going to say that I experience that all the time. If I experienced that all the time, then I would be like Jesus; I would be exactly the same as Jesus. But Jesus is saying to us, and A Course in Miracles, that we can be like him. He says, “There is nothing about me that you cannot attain. I have nothing that does not come from God. The difference between us now is that I have nothing else.” And what he doesn’t have is this thing called ego, because ego has been completely undone in him. And that’s why he says, “Salvation is undoing.” You undo the ego completely, and then God is all that’s left.
So I think that what I’m going toward—and I can feel it more and more, maybe every day now—it’s like what you’re going toward is this experience of perfect oneness with God, which is our ultimate destiny.
Tami Simon: In the experience of perfect oneness, do you find yourself annoyed, frustrated? You mentioned a freedom from worry and fear, but there are many other ways that the experience of separation comes. Do you know what I mean? “I wish I wasn’t sitting on the plane next to XYZ person.”
Gary Renard: Don’t talk to me about plane rides, I do plenty of that!
Tami Simon: Well, that’s why I brought it up as an example!
Gary Renard: No, the truth is that even while you’re sitting there on the airplane, and even when the captain is talking to you, and you say, “Oh no, not again!” the truth is that you can experience that perfect oneness with God. It denies the ability of anything that is not God to affect you. So it’s kind of like you can’t be affected by the world.
I think that if you’re going to measure yourself, if you’re interested—and most people are interested in how they’re progressing on their spiritual path—if you’re going to measure yourself, all you’ve got to do is ask yourself, “How long do I spend wasting my time being upset?” There’s a big difference between being upset for thirty seconds and being upset for thirty days. The less time that you spend being upset, that’s a great indication of how much spiritual awakening you were going through. Because hey, if you’re not upset, then that means that you’re peaceful. And if you’re peaceful, that’s one of the indications of the fact that you’re making great progress.
Tami Simon: I’m with you, Gary, except this is my concern. When people hear something like that, then they stuff how upset they really are underneath this sort of spiritual persona: “I want to progress, so I don’t want to be upset.” And you know, they bury it somewhere in their small intestine or who knows where. Do you know what I’m saying? You have the sort of phony holy person.
Gary Renard: Well, the truth is, Tami, yes, you do get upset. I get upset; I get upset. The only difference is that it only lasts for thirty seconds. But if you’re in touch with the Holy Spirit—and certainly the word “inspired” means in spirit—if you’re that much in touch with the Holy Spirit, then what you get is these answers that come to you to allow you to kind of deal more effectively with the problem that’s right in front of your face. So this to me is not about denial of the world; this to me is actually about being more effective in the world. You can actually get to a place where you can deal more decently with your problems, and actually be more effective in the world, and it’s not about turning your back on the world. The whole point of it is that it’s a different quality of life; it’s a higher quality of life. I actually feel more inspired, I actually feel better about dealing with the problems that are right in front of my face than I used to. Because I didn’t know what to do before, but now I do because I’m inspired, I’m in spirit.
Tami Simon: So what action do you take that allows you, when being upset erupts in your being, to go through it so quickly? What do you do?
Gary Renard: Well, I certainly don’t do it myself. I listen. People think that Jesus was the ultimate leader. No; Jesus wasn’t the ultimate leader; he was the ultimate follower. He followed the Holy Spirit; he listened to the Holy Spirit. Eventually, the way he puts it in A Course in Miracles is that “Eventually I listened to just one voice.” And it doesn’t matter what religion you are, it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, it’s that way with all the great masters. It’s like they listen to the voice for God, whatever they define that as. It could be the Tao, it could be Plato, it could be whatever, but wherever they’re coming from, they’re listening to that higher place instead of themselves. If they listen to themselves, that leads to disaster, always. But if they listen to the Holy Spirit or that higher place, then it leads to something that is amazing. In fact, the word “disaster” actually comes from dis-astral; it actually means that you’re not listening to that higher place.
Tami Simon: Now, one of the questions that I’ve heard Sounds True listeners ask a lot is, how do I know that I’m really hearing this voice, whether it’s inner guidance or the Holy Spirit or the voice of my higher self, or when I’m listening through the filter of the ego? How do I know the difference?
Gary Renard: Well, I would say this: I would say is the voice—and this involves a question—is the voice talking about love, is it talking about forgiveness? Is it talking about something that kind of like makes you feel good in a positive kind of a way, or is the voice that you’re hearing in your mind—and that voice when you say, “What voice?” I mean, “That voice”—where is it coming from? Is it talking about something that is not peaceful? Is it talking about judgment? Is it talking about something—
And you can see this in the Bible, too. It’s like when you read the voice of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, all that beautiful stuff about love and forgiveness, that is obviously the Holy Spirit. But if you look in the Bible, like in the book of Leviticus where it says that all people who are homosexuals and adulterers should be put to death, that is not the Holy Spirit. It’s like you can start to tell for yourself whether the voice is coming from a place of judgment or whether the voice is coming from a place of beauty and love and forgiveness. And that’s how you can tell.
And eventually as you go along, you start to be able to discern for yourself which voice you’re listening to. It comes from experience, certainly. But it’s like anything else: experience leads to a greater form of expression. It’s like if you want to be a great piano player, you would have to sit down and practice every day. And if you do, you’re going to be a great piano player. If you don’t, then you’re not going to be a great piano player. And it’s the same with spirituality. If you sit down and practice every day and actually focus on that kind of spirituality, then eventually you will be someone who can listen to the Holy Spirit and you will know what that voice is coming from, or where that voice is coming from, where if you don’t practice, it just can’t happen.
Tami Simon: You know, Gary, I know that you created a program with Sounds True, and you mentioned this phrase in our conversation: “fearlessness and fearless love,” the title of the Sounds True program “Fearless Love.” And I know that you recently, relatively recently, in the last few years, both got divorced and then had newly become married. And I’m wondering in your own life process in terms of relationships and the experience of both divorce and now marriage, what you’ve learned about this fearless love in terms of relationships.
Gary Renard: Gee, I don’t know, Tami, do you have any difficult questions?
Tami Simon: Well, you know, I gotta throw a few in there!
Gary Renard: Well, actually, the truth is that my former wife Karen, who— People who have read my books, they know about Karen. Her and I actually have a very good relationship because we’re both into A Course in Miracles, and we’re both into this kind of forgiveness that comes from a place of cause and not effect. My wife Cindy and I are both coming from that place. One of the reasons I love her very dearly is because she’s an expert on spirituality. She has a master’s degree in psychology and she’s smarter than I, but I forgive her! And it’s like, wow, it’s like I’ve been blessed to have these people in my life.
And most of the people in my life have died. My parents, my grandparents, my best friend just died this year. All these people—my uncle who taught me how to play the guitar, it’s like all these people have passed away in my life. So the people that I have are my brother Paul, my former wife Karen, and my wife Cindy, and these are the three people who are the closest to me. And it’s like we’re all coming from this place of forgiveness, we’re all coming from this place of, a place that leads to fearlessness. I’m not saying that we’re totally fearless, but we are coming from the place that leads to fearlessness. And it’s like, wow, we have these beautiful relationships.
And I think that that’s what the Course is directed toward, and the Course says, A Course in Miracles says, “It’s part of the universal curriculum.” So we’re all going to the same place. We’re all going to end up in heaven. That’s one of the things that I love about A Course in Miracles, it’s because it gives us a solution; it doesn’t just give us the problem, which is what most people do. It actually gives us a solution and a way to go home, and it says that we’re all going to the same place.
Tami Simon: Now, slow down a minute, Gary. What do you mean by “heaven”?
Gary Renard: Well, to me, heaven, as it’s defined by A Course in Miracles, is that awareness of perfect oneness, and the knowledge— And I think knowledge in A Course in Miracles would be very similar to the way that the Gnostics use the word “gnosis.” It’s not intellectual knowledge; it’s an actual experience. It’s an experience of your perfect oneness with God. And once you have that experience, that’s the answer. Because it blows away anything that this world has to offer. There’s nothing that this world has to offer that can even come close to that experience of perfect oneness. And it’s actually possible for us to have that experience even while we appear to be here, even while we appear to be walking around as human beings, we can actually have that experience of that higher life-form, which is God, which is that perfect oneness, and that’s the experience that the Course is directed toward.
Tami Simon: So in a way you’re using the word “heaven” in the same way you used the word “home.”
Gary Renard: Yes, absolutely. It’s the same thing. A lot of these words, they become kind of like the same meaning. So yes, absolutely.
Tami Simon: OK, so back to this idea of getting divorced and being fearlessly loving and forgiving at the same time. Were you able to go through your divorce, you and your wife, in a spirit of forgiveness?
Gary Renard: Well, it didn’t look that way at first! My wife had gotten into A Course in Miracles in the 1990s, and then she got away from it. And much to my surprise, when I left and moved from Maine to California—which is not a little move, that’s a pretty big move—when I came out here to California, she actually got back into A Course in Miracles and into this kind of forgiveness that is coming from a place of cause and not effect. And suddenly she was not acting like a victim; she was acting like she was very much at cause. And she actually moved—you know, this is the kind of thing that happens when people do things like A Course in Miracles—she actually moved from Maine to Hawaii. I mean, I never would have expected that for her, because her mother lives in Maine and her mother is like her best friend, and I never would have expected her to leave her mother. And all the sudden she moves to Hawaii, which is where I always wanted to live. And it’s like—in fact, when I go there after Christmas, I’m going to have lunch with her.
And we have a good relationship. And the reason we have a good relationship is because we’re both coming from that place of love and forgiveness that the Course is directed toward. And you can’t put a price tag on something like that; it’s like impossible. It’s like, my God, if you told me when we broke up that Karen and I could be really good friends, I would have said, “Yeah, sure! Maybe in five or ten years.” And it happened in just a couple of months. And the reason that that’s possible is because of the kind of forgiveness that I’m describing that comes from a place of cause and not effect.
Tami Simon: I’m not quite sure I know what you mean “forgiveness that comes from cause and not effect.” I’m imagining, you know, a difficulty I’ve had with a past employee, something like that, something that’s still alive for me. How do I look at that coming at it from cause and not effect?
Gary Renard: Well, I think that part of the whole thing—and I can’t really explain it in just this interview, because I take all day to explain that in my workshops!—but the thing is that what you’re coming from is a place where you understand that you made up the whole thing. It’s not being done to you; it’s being done by you. And when you start to look at it that way, you can’t ever look at it the same way again. So it’s like, OK, I’m not a victim. It’s like—
That’s why the Course says that anger is never justified. It doesn’t say that you’ll never get angry, but it does say that anger is never justified. And the reason it’s never justified is because of something else that the Course says. It says, “The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this to yourself.” So once you realize that you’re the projector, once you realize that you’re not the effect, you’re not the thing on the screen, which would include your own body, you’re not even the body that you picture being on the screen, you’re actually a part of the thing that is projecting the whole thing, well, you can never look at it the same way. You can’t be a victim; you can’t ever experience it the same way again.
But it takes vigilance. That’s why the Course says, “Be vigilant only for God in his kingdom.” Because now you’re recognizing that reality is God; reality is this perfect spirit that you really are, and everything else that you’re seeing is just kind of like bull. So it’s a really a choice that needs to be made.
Tami Simon: I guess what I’m still confused by is, I get how my interpretations of the events are made by me, but aren’t there actual events happening, even if they’re not called events?
Gary Renard: Well, absolutely no. There are no events that are actually happening. None of this is happening. That’s why the Course says there is no world. And that’s the difference between A Course in Miracles and other things. And most of the teachers of A Course in Miracles certainly do not articulate this or understand it, but the Course is saying that no, none of this is true. Absolutely none of this. This is no world, there is no universe of time and space. There is only a projection of the universe of time and space that is coming from you.
So you know, that may be kind of hard to swallow for some people, but that’s what the Course is saying. A Course in Miracles is so radical that most of its teachers do not even understand how radical it is. But it’s saying, look, what you’re seeing is not true. And it does not exist. It never has. The individual “you” that you think is you has never existed, and that’s the fact. And if you’re not ready for that, fine, but that’s the truth.
Tami Simon: Well, I have to say, Gary, that I feel stretched by your work in an interesting way, and I appreciate that about you. And I’m curious—our program’s called “Insights at the Edge,” and I’m curious what the edge is for you in your life right now, if you would relate to that idea that there’s something you’re questioning or enquiring into.
Gary Renard: Well, the edge for me is trying to forgive whatever comes up in front of my face. I mean, I’m being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, the IRS, I’m going through this big audit and they hate me and they’re treating me with great unkindness, and that’s what’s up for me right now. So it’s like whatever is up in front of your face, that’s the lesson that the Holy Spirit wants [you] to forgive, that’s the lesson that the Holy Spirit is holding out to you and saying, “Look, if you can forgive this, then fine.” If I look at it in a knowing and kind of like intelligent form of a way, then I can say, “OK, at least I can handle this, and I can forgive this.”
But it’s a challenge. And we all have challenges; you have your challenges, I have my challenges, but whatever is coming up for us, that’s the lesson that the Holy Spirit wants us to forgive. And if we can forgive it, coming from a place where we understand that nothing is really happening, but we’re the ones who did it, and then look beyond that to see reality, which is the important step that the great masters like Buddha and Jesus saw. They didn’t just say, “OK, this isn’t real.” They went a step beyond that and actually said, “Look, reality is this perfect oneness with our source.” And if you can see everything as being that, then you’re going all the way with this.
Tami Simon: Thank you so much, Gary. Gary’s published three programs with Sounds True: “The End of Reincarnation,” “Fearless Love,” And “Secrets of the Immortal: Advanced Teachings from A Course in Miracles.” And thank you for giving us a little taste of what you’re teaching and the work that you’re doing.
Gary Renard: Well, it’s my pleasure, Tami. And thank you for all of the great things do. I think that you’ve brought spirituality up to a whole new level with your great publications and everything you’re doing. I salute your work.
Tami Simon: Thank you! We’re in the caterpillar-creation business, huh?
Gary Renard: That’s right.
Tami Simon: And good luck with the IRS.
Gary Renard: OK, thanks.
Tami Simon: From soundstrue.com, many voices, one journey. Thanks for listening.