Before she was an author and a minister, Reverend Maria Felipe was an actress, a model, and a TV host with a fabulous French boyfriend. She appeared in national commercials, was the first ever Latina boxing announcer, and interviewed World Wrestling Federation competitors in front of audiences of twenty thousand people. People Magazine in Español even referred to her as “Una Campeona Sin rival,” which means a champion without rival. But through it all, she felt insecure, unworthy, and downright miserable.
All that began to change when she discovered A Course in Miracles and eventually went on to get her ministerial training from Pathways of Light.
Now, in her new book, Live Your Happy: Get Out of Your Own Way and Find the Love Within (New World Library, April 22, 2017), Maria shares her more than twenty years of experience studying and living the principles from ACIM. This is not a philosophic explanation of the Course. It is a practical, hands-on guide for actually living it. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.
An excerpt from new book:
Live Your Happy
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.’” (T-12.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.” (W-pI.73.5:1-2)
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.”
To my surprise, a stillness came over me right away. Soon I even began laughing. I realized that what I was thinking was just coming from my ego, the fear-driven part of my mind, and that I did not need to buy into it! I remembered this principle of the Course:
Whatever you accept
into your mind has reality for you.
It is your acceptance of it
that makes it real.
The rest of my day was wonderful!
The Four Tricks of the Ego
Why do we choose the madness that is the ego? It’s simple:
We believe it’s us.
We don’t know how not to.
Our minds are undisciplined.
We forget our innate goodness, leading us to believe what the ego says. The Holy Spirit is the part of the mind that reminds us of the truth, which is that we are created by Love itself (also known as God). The Holy Spirit is our direct line to God. By forgetting that we are created from Love and thus are part of God, we fall asleep to our own reality. The Holy Spirit knows this and can help us wake up if we so choose.
The key to waking up is to understand the ego’s tricks — that is, the tricks we play on ourselves. Let’s look at the four major ones.
Ego Trick 1: The Shoulds
The ego has a favorite theme: shoulda, coulda, woulda. As in:
“I shoulda done this better.”
“I coulda gotten that job.”
“If I’d followed my hunch, things woulda worked out differently.”
Not only does the ego use “should” to punish us inwardly with such judgments, it then projects them outward onto others:
“If you loved me, you would do so-and-so.”
“You should have done things my way, then it all would have worked out.”
“You could be doing more for this relationship.”
Whether we’re punishing ourselves or others, there’s no winning the ego’s game. We will only end up feeling disappointed and frustrated with ourselves and others. When you have these ego-programmed expectations, you can’t be happy because you are too busy worrying about what the other person should be doing, instead of recognizing the real cause of your frustration: yourself.
Also, having expectations is not being loving; it’s actually the opposite. You are not allowing others to be as they are, but instead imposing your ideas of how they should be. This is a trick of the ego that will always take you to hell. It’s best to focus on healing our own mind, letting go of expectations, and trusting — a subject we will address at the end of this book. Trust is vital to living your happy.
Ego Trick 2: Obsession with the Past
The ego likes to keep us in the past, thinking about how we messed everything up and how we could’ve done it better! Our mistakes seem to be the source of our guilt, but in fact guilt always begins with the choice of separateness. We actually feel guilty because we fear love even as we go around looking for it, and so we settle for its opposite.
For instance, after her breakup with her boyfriend, a client once told me that she wished that she had not acted as if she had cared so much while they had been together. By “caring” she meant acting jealous of the attention he had received from an ex. Had she not acted jealous in the past, she kept repeating, then they might still be together. She was stuck in the past, regretting that she had not lied about her real feelings! This is just one example of the ego’s delusional thought system, convincing us that real love is impossible, so we might as well settle for some variety of guilt instead. Whenever we focus on the past in a negative way, this is a choice we are making.
Ego Trick 3: Focus on the Body
Above all, the ego believes in separation, and the body is the ultimate proof that each of us is separate, different from everyone else, and thus special. Serving the body, taking care of the body, and finding distraction and pleasure through the body are the ego’s preoccupations. In fact, we tend to believe that happiness is found through taking the best possible care of the body. Yet the body is more often our “problem center,” especially if we are trying to find fulfillment, purpose, and intimacy through it.
Great sex, for instance, is not a bad thing, but just how often is it reliably great? How many times have you felt terrible after having sex with someone when you knew it was not a good idea — as in so-called makeup sex? In my marriage, physical intimacy was a major issue, so after we divorced, sex was all I wanted. My hurt ego convinced me that I would be happy again if I had enough sex, yet all the “hunt” brought me was sadness. I might feel good for a hot second, driving home from some guy’s place, but soon I just felt empty.
Now my experience of the body is totally different because I use it to extend love, rather than try to find love through someone else’s body. Let me repeat that: I use my body to extend Love. I ask myself, how may I serve with this body? How can I serve through this body? Now I use this body to collaborate with other teachers, giving a talk, workshop, or sermon. My body is an instrument, which means that it’s not who I am. It’s there to serve me and others, not the other way around.
Ego Trick 4: Your Happiness Is “Out There”
When ego is running the show, you need to make things happen, and so you try to manipulate the world even if it kills you! The ego is always whispering in your ear (and it’s pretty loud — what in showbiz we call a “stage whisper”), telling you that you will not be happy or free until you get enough money, or the right person, or the perfect job. If that were true, then we would not hear so many stories of people who “have it made” on a material level but who are also alcoholics, drug addicts, or suicidally depressed. The truth is that nothing “out there” will ever give you freedom or happiness. That’s because you already have it — it’s your divine right to be happy as a perfect child of God.
It’s vital to understand the ego’s tricks, which describe how the ego projects fear. Then we can recognize the ego whenever it becomes active in our minds. We must also build a relationship with our internal teacher, the Holy Spirit, so that we give to it all our false, negative thoughts, which are of no use. This is your job if you want to live your happy! Each day you have the opportunity to remember that you are not your ego thoughts; you are the decision maker who can choose a different way of thinking. As A Course in Miracles puts it: “Each day, each hour and minute, even each second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection; between the ego and Holy Spirit. The ego is the choice for guilt; the Holy Spirit is the choice for guiltlessness.” (T-14.III)
Stop, Look, and Listen
How can you remember who you really are? First, by becoming aware of your thoughts. Know who is running the show! You can learn to recognize the cuckoo voice and all its negative chatter, but it is muy importante to be mindful!
Here is the process I use:
1. Stop: Take a deep breath and pause to notice what you’re thinking and feeling. If your mind is running loose with negative chatter, just stop it!
2. Look: Now, look at your thought patterns. S-l-o-w d-o-w-n the pace of your thoughts so that it is easier to notice when the cuckoo voice is blocking your inner wisdom.
3. Ask and listen: Ask to see difficult situations or people in another way. When your cuckoo voice has quieted, you can begin to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit telling you how to shift your perceptions. Trust that you will receive the insights that will bring you to your happy!
Maria Felipe is the author of Live Your Happy. After experiencing success as a model and actress, including hosting World Wrestling Federation TV shows, she felt called inward and studied to become a reverend at Pathways of Light. She leads monthly services in both Spanish and English at Unity Church in Burbank, CA. Visit her online at www.MariaFelipe.org. Excerpted from the book Live Your Happy: Get Out of Your Own Way and Find the Love Within. Copyright © 2017 by Maria Felipe. Printed with permission from New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com
© 2017, Pathways of Light. http://pathwaysoflight.org
You may freely share copies of this with your friends, provided this copyright notice and website address are included.
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