Weekly Questions and Answers, 09/29/2004

This week's questions/topics:

Q #583: How could God love the world if He is unaware of it?
Q #584  How can I determine responsibility without engaging in judgement?.

Q #585  Since one person (Jesus) accepted the atonement, why aren't we all healed?
Q #586  What is meant by the terms "witness" and "witnessing"?
Q #587: How can an attack be a call for love, if it pushes love away?

Chronological List of All Questions.
Interactive Index of all topics

Q #583: Re: T.2.VII.5:14 -- "The statement ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life’ needs only slight correction to be meaningful in this context; ‘He gave it to His only begotten Son.’" I do not understand how God loved the world and gave it to His only begotten Son if, as A Course in Miracles teaches, God does not know about the world.

A: Taken by itself, this is a puzzling passage. It is important to note, however, that it is being discussed in a specific context: Jesus is talking about the temporary need for corrective procedures in order to restore to our minds the awareness that "fear is nothing and love is everything" and that "God has only one Son"; no compromise in this is possible (T.2.VII.5:3; 6:1). Therefore "world" in this reference is the real world, the state of mind reflecting the transcendence of the ego, the healing of all belief in separation. Jesus refers to this passage again in Chapter 12, where he states explicitly that he means the real world (T.12.III.8). In this larger context, thus, Jesus is saying that the Atonement principle, the correction for our belief in fear and separation, is already in our minds. "He gave it to His only begotten Son" is a metaphorical expression of the Atonement principle. So Jesus is assuring us that we will not perish because of our perceived attack on God. We are already saved from this insane way of thinking about ourselves and God, and need but choose the correction already in our minds -- this is the "world" God gave "to His only begotten Son." That is the content behind the words.

Q #584: In Question #371 you write the following: "You will continue to act in ways that will help determine responsibility and appropriate consequences within the system for the abuse, as well as protect the child from further abuse -- but you will do it all without judgment. And you will have become a reminder for everyone involved that there is another way of looking at what has been happening that does not involve attack and blame."

What exactly is attack and blame? If I determine responsibility and appropriate consequences, is this not judgment and am I not blaming someone and is this not attack. Or am I confusing levels. At one level, the true mind, I judge no one as there is nobody and nothing to judge. In the illusion I act out the part as determined by the situation that I am in but being aware of the nonjudgment in the true mind. Is this correct? If this is so, why can I never do this although I have known this fact for a while.

A: First of all, it may help to clarify that "without judgment," as it is used in the above quote, means without condemnation. Even within the Course itself, judgment is used in two ways, one wrong-minded, which involves attack and blame, and the other right-minded, which involves discerning between what is true and what is false (e.g., T.4.IV.8:7,8). The ego’s judgment reinforces the belief in separation, sin, and guilt, by seeing the accused as different from ourselves. Right-minded judgment always undoes our identification with the ego by helping us recognize how, at the level of content, we are all basically the same, struggling with the same ego thought system, although our specific ego expressions may look different.

Jesus repeatedly tells us in A Course in Miracles that we are responsible for the choices we make and the consequences that follow from them (e.g., T.4.IV; T.21.II.2:3,4,5,6), but he is never condemning us for choosing our egos -- there is no blame or attack involved in that judgment. But only if we can begin to recognize that we are responsible for what we experience can we begin to make a different choice. It is the ego, with its belief in sin, guilt and fear, that equates responsibility with blame, and consequences with punishment and attack. Jesus is trying to help us look at the consequences of our decisions without getting caught in the moral judgments the ego would want us to make about good and bad. He does use words like silly (e.g., W.pI.156.6:4,5) foolish (e.g.,T.21.I.2:1; W.pI.65.7) and insane (e.g.,T.27.VI.6:3) to describe our choices for the ego, but it is our own projection if we believe that he is condemning us.

It is not that you are confusing levels, but that you are confusing form and content. It is not the specific action of evaluating another’s responsibility in a situation and delivering consequences for transgressions that constitutes condemnation and attack. Always, we want to look honestly at our purpose behind our decisions and actions. Perhaps it would be helpful to think of how we might hold a young child responsible for an aggressive act, such as hitting a younger sibling, and then provide a consequence, such as a time out from his regular activities, to reinforce in the child’s mind the importance of considering his actions more carefully. All this can be done without attack or blame. If we are acting from our right mind, our purpose could be to help the child understand and make a different choice in the future about how to deal with frustration and anger.

The situation with the abuser can be viewed in exactly the same way. We can conclude that an adult is indeed an abuser who has hurt a young child, but we can reach that conclusion without anger or blame. Yes, at another level, the mind of the child has invited victimization, as all ego- identified minds do, and at a deeper level still, none of it is real. But Jesus is not asking us to deny our experiences here in the world. He is simply asking us to be willing to let go of our own ego judgments in a situation where we are ready to condemn and ask him for help in seeing everyone involved in a different light.

And so we could also support giving an abuser a sentence to serve without our goal being to punish. To know our purpose requires an honest assessment of the thoughts in our mind about the abuser. To repeat, it is not the form of our decision that is important but the underlying content -- do we see the abuser as sinful and different from us and deserving of punishment or as the same and simply in need of help. If we can not see the aggressive child and the abusing adult as the same, it is only because we are still identified with our ego, which asserts there is a hierarchy among illusions (T.23.II.2).

Now most people in the world would see a difference between the child who has hit his sibling and the adult who has abused a child, but that only demonstrates how most of us are still identified with the ego thought system. And the shift to a different perspective is not something we can do on our own. We must turn to that gentle Presence in our mind that sees us all as children who believe we can deal with our own guilt and anger by hurting others in some way. We are all in need of help and that is what makes us all the same. And in my willingness to release all my brothers and sisters from condemnation, I learn how to release myself as well (T.12.I.4,5,6,7).

See also Question #484 for a related discussion on judgment and form and content.

Q #585: If we are all one: one with Jesus, one with God, one with each other, and we are told if just one accepts the teaching of A Course in Miracles completely, we will all awaken from the dream, why aren't we awake? Isn't that what our one elder brother did? It seems as though each one of us, as so called individuals, are called to come to that point as individuals. I have been told that when we accept all that the Course teaches, we will stand at the end of the "carpet," look back on this illusory world, and wait for all others to meet with us as we take that final step, with God reaching out to help us cross into Heaven (a state of being, not a place). Am I incorrect in my understanding of the process?

A: We have addressed the first part of your question in #430 and #550-i. With regard to the second part, "understanding the process" includes taking into consideration that Jesus does not mean this literally; after all, the separation never really happened and time is illusory. So there really is no waiting, no carpet to be rolled up, and no final step that needs to be taken. Jesus is trying to reassure us that we will all be fine and everything will turn out all right. There is nothing to fear, as we might have been led to believe by the teachings of Judaism and Christianity. No one will be left behind, and no one will wind up in any other place but our eternal home, for we have never truly left it.

Q #586: Growing up I had a minimal exposure to religion and wonder if you'd care to address the terms "witness" and "witnessing"? For example, it seems witnessing in religion is often related to preaching rather than witnessing one's own thoughts. Also, although the primary use of witness is clear in A Course in Miracles (aka, the observer, "you," or decision-maker) there is one paragraph (T.1.IV.4) that uses witness and witnessing in a manner that is not clear to me. Also, what "law" is Jesus referring to in this same paragraph?

A: Webster’s definition of witness applies to the term as used in the passage you refer to: "…to be or give evidence of." This is also the usual meaning given to the term in the Course. In saying "I will witness," Jesus tells us he is himself the evidence, or proof, that there is no death, no "hell- fire." He does this by demonstrating that the crucifixion had no effect; though his body was killed, he did not die. To whatever extent we are willing to listen and learn from him, he will give us more evidence that what he teaches is true: "I will witness for anyone who lets me, and to whatever extent he permits it." Witness in this sense is used in much the same way as teaching. We are told later in the text: "Remember always that what you believe you will teach" (T.6.I.6:10). If we believe the Holy Spirit, we will teach, or "witness to" His message. This is not accomplished through any special form of preaching or direct teaching. By the very fact that we believe it, it will be perceived by others (consciously or unconsciously). In like manner, if we believe the ego’s lies we will witness to the ego, thus reinforcing the separation thought in our minds and in our lives. Witnessing, in this sense, is the recognizable effect of a choice that is made in the mind to believe the ego or the Holy Spirit. Since we are always choosing either the Holy Spirit or the ego, we are always witnessing to one or the other. That is what Jesus means when he says we are always teaching: "…you cannot not teach" (T.6.III.4:1).

According to the Bible, the Messiah was to come in fulfillment of the law and the prophets. His coming was "law" in that it was a promise that a redeemer would come to atone for our sins. Jesus is referring to this scriptural phrase, saying he does indeed fulfill the law, or promise, but by reinterpreting it. He does so by teaching in A Course in Miracles that "there is no sin"(T.26.VII.10:5), and that redemption lies in accepting this truth.

Q #587: I am having trouble understanding attack as a call for love. If an attack is meant to push love away because it was getting too close, how is it calling for it at the same time?

A: Attack ultimately is a reaction to guilt and the fear of destruction by a vengeful God. No one would ever attack if there were no underlying self-accusation of sin (we first attacked God). This sinfulness results in overwhelming guilt that is projected and then seen and attacked (judged) in others. But coupled with this dynamic is a desperate plea to be told that God is not out for blood in retaliation for sin, and further, that the perceived attack on God itself never took place. In that sense, the attack is a call for love, and a call to be told we are wrong. We are all looking for some convincing evidence to prove that we are not "the home of evil, darkness, and sin," as we believe we all are (W.pI.93.1:1). That is why in A Course in Miracles we are being trained to ask for help to perceive "differently": "There is but one interpretation of motivation that makes any sense. And because it is the Holy Spirit’s judgment it requires no effort at all on your part. Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing and help, regardless of the form it takes" (T.12.I.3:1,2,3,4). We rise to this level of perception through our practice of forgiveness.