Weekly Questions and Answers, 09/15/2004

This week's questions/topics:

Q #573: In what way do biblical terms differ in meaning when used in the Course?
Q #574  How do I overcome "fear of validity" regarding the things I say?.

Q #575  What are the dynamics of child-abuse, as seen by the Course?
Q #576  How could Jesus enter into the illusion if he knew it was not real?
Q #577: What is the role of karma with respect to healing?

Chronological List of All Questions.
Interactive Index of all topics

Q #573: In regard to Question #356, I am curious about what Biblical terms in A Course in Miracles have different meanings from the traditional ones? I am Christian and love the messages of the gospel. I also love the messages in the Course. I don't see the differences or a conflict as I believe they are both from God. I do believe some traditions have corrupted the original message of Christ. Is that what you are referring to? If that is the case, how do YOU discern between the traditions?

A: The short answer to your question is that most the terms in the Course have different meaning from the Bible. That is because they are based on a thought system that is different from the belief system of the Bible.

The foundation of both the Old and New Testaments is the belief that sin is real and requires some form of retribution or atonement through sacrifice to earn salvation (Heaven) and thus avoid punishment (hell). The crucifixion of Jesus is the highest expression of this thought system. Jesus’ death on the cross atoned for the original sin of Adam and Eve and reopened the gates of Heaven for all Christian believers.

In the dualistic belief system of the Bible, God, as Creator, is a being distinct from His creation, which is understood to be the physical universe, including human beings endowed with a spirit or soul. These basic beliefs hold true whatever other interpretations or distortions are introduced by the many sects and churches professing Christianity. A Course in Miracles, on the other hand, is a non-dualistic thought system that teaches "There is no separation of God and His creation" (T.8.V.2:8), "There is no sin"(T.26.VII.10:5), and "There is no world!" (W.pI.132.6:2). These fundamental principles of the Course are what give different meaning to the biblical terms that Jesus uses. In the Course, salvation/Atonement is a process of accepting the truth of these statements, recognizing that it is only the choice to believe in separation that makes it real in our experience and is the cause of the guilt that makes the body and the world seem real. Because there is no sin, there is no need for atonement through sacrifice, but only correction.

The Course teaches that, rather than a means of redemption, the crucifixion is an extreme example of Jesus’ teaching that we are minds not bodies, and cannot be harmed in any way by anything external to the mind. This is what is meant by the section in the text where Jesus speaks of the crucifixion: "The real meaning of the crucifixion lies in the apparent intensity of the assault of some of the Sons of God upon another. This, of course, is impossible, and must be fully understood as impossible" (T.6.I.3:4,5).

Thus, the terms used in the Bible and the Course are not in conflict. They simply represent fundamentally distinct thought systems. That is not to say, however, that the Bible does not have passages that reflect the loving content of the right mind, just as followers of the Bible could recognize right minded passages in the Course. Like everyone else, scripture writers had access to the Holy Spirit, Who is the part of the mind that holds the memory of God. An example of this is the beautiful Gospel story of the Prodigal Son, which Jesus uses in the Course (See:T.8.VI.4). For our learning process, the important thing is to choose a thought system that helps us get in touch with the loving content of the Holy Spirit in our minds. In A Course in Miracles that would be through the process of forgiveness (See: Question #206). The form (words, terms) is not important.

More information regarding the Bible and A Course in Miracles can be found in "A Course in Miracles and Christianity: A Dialogue" and "The Message of A Course in Miracles" by Kenneth Wapnick.

Q #574: I understand Jesus' remarks in his section from A Course in Miracles, "What is the role of words in healing?" (M.21); he says that over time we learn to let our words be chosen for us and that a major hindrance to this aspect of learning is our "fear about the validity" of what we hear. I am training now to be a teacher and I let Jesus speak through me and am learning how to discern more and more and sometimes what I hear is indeed startling and "has nothing to do with the situation" as I perceive it. Sometimes I am embarrassed but I usually calm down. I guess implicit in this question is me "second-guessing" God and thinking that I know better than He does but sometimes I am just startled at what I said and the other person is too. Can you help offer some insight here?

A: To the Holy Spirit (and Jesus as His manifestation), everything is either an expression of love or a call for love. He sees the larger picture of everyone’s Atonement path and is not limited by what we normally see as the boundaries of our lives in the world. Form is completely irrelevant to the Holy Spirit. And therefore His response to calls for love would be in terms of where people are on their Atonement paths, which is not something we ordinarily are in touch with. That is why what we hear may be startlingly different from what we think we should say. In the section you refer to, Jesus explains that our doubts and discomfort when this happens come from a "shabby self-perception," which we would do well to "leave behind" (M.21.5.4,5). So that is what Jesus advises us to do in this aspect of our training. It means that we need to develop our ability to recognize our underlying self-images -- specifically the ones that include a sense of inadequacy, neediness, specialness, and being unfairly treated. The more we hold onto self-images such as these, the less likely we would be to accurately discern the Holy Spirit’s Voice from the ego’s voice, because our holding onto them implies that we know better than Jesus who we really are, even after hearing him say again and again, "you are as God created you." Thus, the trouble we have in humbly accepting Jesus at his word leads to the difficulties in our ability to hear accurately.

See also our answers to Questions #11, #43, and #77.

Q #575: With respect to Question #365 re the child’s role in child abuse, what is the adult role in such a relationship? Clearly, the adult is not telling God "look at how I suffer."

A: As is well known, many abusing adults were once themselves abused, and probably would be sustaining an unspoken accusation against their own abusers: "I can’t help doing what I’m doing; it’s not my fault. After all, look what happened to me!" This is another way of keeping separation real, yet having someone else be responsible for it. Moreover, anyone who attacks another person (whether child or adult) is harboring a self-accusation of unforgiveable sinfulness that is so tormenting that it must be projected from the mind and seen in a body and attacked there.

The ego’s ultimate strategy is to keep us focused on the body -- one of its favorite means being the perception of victimization -- so that we would rarely, if ever, suspect that the mind is the source of both sin and salvation from sin. This ego strategy, thus, is at the root of the need to find fault with what other bodies do and then punish them through habitual abuse, whether physical or psychological. Jesus has described this strategy in the section of A Course in Miracles called "The Self-Accused" (T.31.III). So in some way, the abusing adult is pleading with God, saying, "I know I’m mean, vicious, and cruel, but it’s not my fault!" The ego has achieved one of its major goals in this process insofar as the process validates the reality of the victim/victimizer cycle. The foundation supporting the entire thought system of the ego is sin: that there is a guilty victimizer and an innocent victim. This is the cycle the ego seeks to perpetuate in our relationships in the world, lest we hear another Voice within our minds calling us to remember the truth of our innocence with respect to our relationship with God our Source. If there were no accusation of sin on that ultimate level, the concept of victimization would never have arisen, and obviously there would be no need to project it onto bodies. So an abusing adult is one of the outcomes of the need to do something about the excruciating pain of self-hatred (sinfulness) thought to be the core of our identity (W.pI.93.1). This, in effect, defines the ego’s purpose for life in the body -- it is the chosen route of escape from the pain and fear in the mind. The source of victimization thus is always in bodies (psychological or physical), never in the mind’s acceptance of the ego’s made-up story of ontological sin, guilt, and fear.

Q #576: Let me see if I have this right -- all of this world and everything in it is a thought we are all having -- part of a tiny, mad idea that slipped into the sleeping Son's mind for just one tiny instant. In fact my identity as the person I think I am is just a fragment in the dream of Christ -- and everyone in the dream is also a fragment in the dream and we are all dreaming, or rather One of us is dreaming he is many yet in truth he is not -- just for an instant dreaming but still dreaming. So my big question is -- how did Jesus get into the dream and know that it was just a dream? If it's true that it must have been the "right" part of the Christ-mind that sent him -- which I think means in truth the Oneness of the Sonship sent him -- how did he get here without being affected by the illusion. I mean how did he come with the knowledge that it was not real? I can understand that perhaps one can figure it out but it seems that he came with it figured out -- how is that possible?

A: First of all, a point of clarification. A Course in Miracles does not refer to Christ as having fallen asleep and dreaming. Christ is the extension of the Mind of God that has never forgotten Its true Identity. The Course uses the Son of God to refer both to the Christ and to the illusory part -- the split mind -- that seems to have fallen asleep and had a dream of separation from God. But in reality, the dream has never happened and Christ remains unaffected (W.pII.6:1,2,3).

As for your "big question" -- it is helpful to remember that the story of the Son of God falling asleep and dreaming of a world of separation from his Father is a myth, a set of symbols to correct the story the ego has told us of sin, guilt and fear, and an angry Father bent on destroying His Son for his attack on Him. The Mind outside the dream is not acting on the dream to awaken the sleeping Son and all the fragments that he has seemingly splintered into. And there is no Jesus from outside the dream who could be "sent" into the dream.

There is a memory of oneness that remains in the mind of the Son after he seems to have fallen asleep. And that memory can be symbolically represented either more abstractly by the Holy Spirit or more specifically and concretely by the figure of Jesus (among other figures who represent awakening). But both are symbols for that memory we carried into the dream, which is present in each separate fragment -- all our various individual identities.

Just as when you are sleeping and dreaming at night and some figures in your dream may represent your ego guilt and fears, and others may be symbols of your right-minded sanity, so too the figures in our collective waking dream may serve the same functions. And just as there is no one outside our mind sending figures into our sleeping dreams, it is the split mind itself manifesting symbols in our waking dreams to represent the only two choice that are available to us -- continuing to sleep and dream or moving towards awakening.

You may also find Question #473 on Jesus helpful, as well as Kenneth’s tape set, Jesus: Symbol and Reality.

Q #577: What does A Course in Miracles say about karma, particularly in regard to healing?

A: You may wish to look at Question #514-i, as well as #363 for more indepth discussions of the Course and karma. Karma is the impersonal law of cause and effect, which operates within the world of time and space, where every thought and action has a consequence. It has its origins in the thought of separation, where cause and effect are split off from each other and seem to proceed in a linear fashion over time, so that the past has implications for the present and the future. Since time is an illusion, karma, even separated from any judgmental implications, must remain within an ego framework. And so healing, from a karmic perspective, would involve releasing a past debt through some kind of payment (e.g., sickness or suffering) now or in the future.

The Course view of healing is very different from this linear process. Nothing from the past can be the cause of what I am experiencing in the present, because there is no past. The cause is always a thought that I am holding in the present. Thought alone, according to the Course, is the cause of whatever we experience. If we wish a different experience, all we need do is change our thinking (or the guide we have chosen for our thinking). And this change does not take any time. As Jesus explains in "The Laws of Healing," "All sickness comes from separation. When the separation is denied, it goes. For it is gone as soon as the idea that brought it has been healed, and been replaced by sanity"(T.26.VII.2:1,2,3).

But for this change of mind to occur, we must become aware of what we unconsciously believe about the cause of sickness. The Course uses the word sickness to encompass more than physical symptoms -- seeing the body as sick in the first place means the mind is sick (T.28.II.11:7). And in fact, the Course asserts that it is not the body that is sick (T.29.II.8:1,2).

And so Jesus continues, "Sickness and sin are seen as consequence and cause, in a relationship kept hidden from awareness that it may be carefully preserved from reason's light"(T.26.VII.2:4). This relationship is one we accept and believe, but it operates only because we choose to believe it. This is true whether we are speaking of karmic laws or the ego’s "laws." "Guilt asks for punishment, and its request is granted. Not in truth, but in the world of shadows and illusions built on sin. The Son of God perceived what he would see because perception is a wish fulfilled" (T.26.VII.3:1,2,3).

Now for most of us, our investment in the ego thought system and the individual identity it offers us prevents us from experiencing the immediate release that this shift in thought offers. And this lag is one the ego would interpret as proof that time is necessary to heal. But it is only our own fear that prevents us from accepting the healing now. The reason for our resistance and fear is very clearly spelled out in the section on healing in the manual:

The acceptance of sickness as a decision of the mind, for a purpose for which it would use the body, is the basis of healing....There is no form of sickness that would not be cured at once.

What is the single requisite for this shift in perception? It is simply this; the recognition that sickness is of the mind, and has nothing to do with the body. What does this recognition "cost"? It costs the whole world you see, for the world will never again appear to rule the mind. For with this recognition is responsibility placed where it belongs; not with the world, but on him who looks on the world and sees it as it is not. He looks on what he chooses to see. No more and no less. The world does nothing to him. He only thought it did. Nor does he do anything to the world, because he was mistaken about what it is. Herein is the release from guilt and sickness both, for they are one. Yet to accept this release, the insignificance of the body must be an acceptable idea (M.5.II.2:1,13; 3).

We see in here the Course’s correction to the law of karma -- the world does nothing to us and we have done nothing to the world. There is no world, only a dream of a world, and so there is no debt to be paid, except in dreams.