Weekly Questions and Answers, 10/20/2004

This week's questions/topics:

Q #598: What can I do about compulsive sexual behavior?
Q #599  Is there any point to scientific investigation if the world is not real?.

Q #600  I am confused about the meaning and importance of being a parent.
Q #601  Is "revelation" possible without being in a state of Christ-consciousness?
Q #602: Was not Jesus "conscious," and did not consciousness place him in  the domain of the ego?

Chronological List of All Questions.
Interactive Index of all topics

Q #598: I feel I have an addiction to masturbation and although I often talk to Jesus about it, it still seems to be a problem. What can I do?

A: It is only our ego that wants us to believe that we have a problem with what we do with our bodies. But that is never the problem. As Jesus repeatedly encourages us to do, the only question we should ask ourselves about anything is, "What is it for? What purpose does it serve?" (e.g., T.4.V.6:6,7,8,9,10,11; T.17.VI.2:1,2,3; T.24.VII.6:1,2,3; W.pI.96:6).

We all also have "addictions" to breathing and eating and drinking and it is our ego that would want to make differences among our various behaviors important. Sex is one of the more powerful symbols of guilt in the dream and very effectively keeps the mind preoccupied with the "sins" of the body so that the mind can remain in conflict and never look at the underlying false belief in sin in the mind -- the sin of separation. Anything that seems to give pleasure, the ego tells us, is simply further proof that we have stolen what we do not really deserve from God. Why do you suppose our language commonly pairs the word pleasures with such descriptors as secret, guilty, stolen and forbidden?

Now if compulsive behavior -- sexual or otherwise -- is interfering with your relationships or with fulfilling basic responsibilities in your life, you may want to look then at the purpose you are giving that particular behavior -- to be a justification for reinforcing your underlying belief in your inadequacy and unworthiness and guilt. But again, it’s not the behavior itself that is the problem but the purpose you are giving it in your mind. So that’s where you always want to begin. Once you get in touch with the purpose and the cost to your peace of mind, you may find yourself motivated to make changes at the behavioral level, but not out of any sense of guilt or fear or coercion -- that kind of motivation is always only ego-based. Jesus does not want to deprive us of any of our special relationships and little pleasures. Through A Course in Miracles, he teaches that he wants us to recognize that the only "real pleasure comes from doing God’s Will" (T.1.VII.1:4), which in this world means practicing forgiveness -- of ourselves and others.

Q #599: I have clearly gotten the idea in reading A Course In Miracles, as well as the many answers in the Question and Answer Service, that this world we seem to experience is not real. I am now studying lesson 166 in the workbook and it does indeed say, "This world is not the Will of God, and so it is not real." The previous lesson also teaches us that what makes this world seem real is our denial of the truth, the truth being that we are already in Heaven with God now. I find these thoughts very comforting, especially when this world seems to disappoint me. But I get the feeling that if this world is not real, then there is no point in scientific investigation, is there? I find myself confused because I'm appreciative of all the scientific discoveries about nature, especially those that have improved our lives. Is A Course in Miracles discouraging us from investigating nature? I'm envisioning a future world where if everyone adopted the teachings of the Course, scientists would give up research to find cures for health problems, we'd stop space exploration, we'd stop trying to save the rain forests, etc., because none of these things are real and therefore unworthy of our belief in them or our attention. As a student of A Course In Miracles, how should I think about scientific investigation of our so called natural world?

A: It would be a mistake for any of us to give up anything we’re drawn to or interested in simply because the Course tells us it is not real. Yes, in the end, that is the realization we will all come to, but along the way we are asked to use the symbols of the world (W.pI.184.9:2) -- and that certainly could include the symbols of scientific investigation -- as important elements of our classroom. Most minds are simply not ready to hear and learn the truths of the Course at the level at which it offers its healing message and so the world’s symbols become an important means for communicating the content of the Course in terms the world can hear and accept.

In Jesus’ own words, "It would indeed be strange if you were asked to go beyond all symbols of the world, forgetting them forever; yet were asked to take a teaching function. You have need to use the symbols of the world a while. But be you not deceived by them as well. They do not stand for anything at all, and in your practicing it is this thought that will release you from them. They become but means by which you can communicate in ways the world can understand, but which you recognize is not the unity where true communication can be found" (W.pI.184.9).

And so the goal is not to deny the world’s symbols but to give them a different purpose. The ego made the world and all its symbols in order to keep us enmeshed in the thought system of scarcity and sickness and victimization. All of our human endeavors are predicated on the assumption that our problems are out there in the world and that we need to direct our talents and efforts and resources to overcoming the challenges that those problems present to us. But Jesus is asking us to recognize that the problems we identify out in the world that seem so critical are only symbols of the one problem in our mind -- the belief in separation and sin (W.pI.79).

Recognizing what the real problem is and where it lies does not mean that we simply abandon all of our activity and efforts to solve problems in the world. But we can now have a different approach to those concerns, one that no longer is motivated by anger or fear or guilt or sadness. With a right-minded identification, we will no longer be invested in all the obstacles that can prevent us from uncovering solutions at the level of form. For the fact is, the seeming problems of the world -- including disease, drought, famine and pollution -- are there only because our ego mind wants them to be there, so that we keep our focus on the world, feeling victimized by it, and never looking to the real problem within.

So, as students of the Course, we may continue to seek after solutions in the world, using, among other things, the tools of scientific investigation -- as Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford, the instruments for bringing the Course into the world, continued to do until their retirements (see Absence from Felicity by Kenneth Wapnick). But that does not mean that we believe that the world is where the real problem lies. There will be others who still believe in the reality of the world and its problems and for them, the kindest approach would be to attempt to reach them at the level at which they believe they need help. Jesus describes this process early in the text: "The value of the Atonement does not lie in the manner in which it is expressed. In fact, if it is used truly, it will inevitably be expressed in whatever way is most helpful to the receiver. This means that a miracle, to attain its full efficacy, must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear. This does not necessarily mean that this is the highest level of communication of which he is capable. It does mean, however, that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable now. The whole aim of the miracle is to raise the level of communication, not to lower it by increasing fear" (T.2.IV.5).

And so our words and our actions may seem to express a belief in the world, but our thoughts and our underlying attitudes will reflect a different level of understanding, which sees no separate world and no separate interests. And this awareness will be communicated effortlessly to all minds, since minds are joined in a reality that transcends all the so-called laws of the world.

Q #600: I am very confused now that my wife is pregnant again after 40. Even knowing that this is not real I think it is wrong to even consider abortion. I feel responsible for this new soul coming to be part of our dream, just like my other two daughters. What is your advice to people raising children of early age? How can we educate them to help them awake like we are trying to do?

A: As is everything in the dream, parenting is a classroom filled with opportunities to see the ego’s separation and specialness in operation in ourselves, so they can be given to the Holy Spirit to be transformed through forgiveness. This is the only meaning A Course in Miracles gives to every relationship, including parenting. We are asked to monitor our minds for all the thoughts of judgment in every relationship. The goal is healing our own mind of the thought of separation. We need not take responsibility for anyone else’s healing or awakening. Since the Course is about changing our minds in this way, there are no guidelines for specific behavior such as abortion or parenting.

What the Course does offer is a different perspective. It always distinguishes between form and content, and asks that we do the same in applying its teachings to our relationships. Though children are not fully developed persons on the level of form, they are minds with the same power to choose as any other part of the Sonship. To the extent that we are willing to learn this about ourselves, it is communicated to others; not in words, but by every application of forgiveness. It is this that furthers the healing of the separation, and is the only truly loving content a parent shares with a child, as well as with every one else: "Every loving thought held in any part of the Sonship belongs to every part. It is shared because it is loving" (T.5.IV.3:1,2).

In parenting this takes the form of all the things parents do in caring for children. Fulfilling this role to the best of your ability, while paying attention to the thoughts in your mind, with willingness to release them to the Holy Spirit, is the way to learn and teach the message of the Course. In this way belief in the Holy Spirit’s perception is strengthened, while belief in the ego’s lies is weakened, thus leading us closer to the Sonship’s awakening.

It is important to remember that parents do need to teach children to make wise decisions in the dream for that is their role. As The Song of Prayer states: "There are decisions to make here, and they must be made whether they be illusions or not" (S.1.I.2:4). However remember that the choice the Course is teaching us to make is in our minds, between the ego and the Holy Spirit. And again, that choice is communicated, thereby taught, by the mere fact of our making it.

Q #601: The Bible culminates in Revelation. A Course in Miracles is designed to further us along the path to our revelation in the holy instant of divine knowing of ourselves as the Christ. Is this what the Course means by revelation? And if so, is this experience possible while still embodied; is it perceived in Christ Consciousness?

A: What the Course means by revelation is not the same as the biblical teaching. The Book of Revelation in the New Testament speaks of a future event associated with the Second Coming of Jesus and the end of the world. It is based on belief in the reality of world, the body, and redemption from sin. In A Course in Miracles revelation is understood to be the experience of God’s Love which is always being communicated to the Son and has never changed.

Revelation can be experienced while still in the body, but it is not of the body. It is communicated from God and is therefore experienced by the mind, rather than perceived: "It proceeds from God to you, but not from you to God" (T.1.II.5:5). Revelation is possible because the separation is not real and we are, in truth, one with the Father. In this sense revelation is our natural condition, which we have blocked from awareness by choosing against it: "You taught yourself the most unnatural habit of not communicating with your Creator" (T.14.III.18:1). The Father, however, is always communicating to His Son (us): "God created every mind by communicating His Mind to it, thus establishing it forever as a channel for the reception of His Mind and Will" (T.4.VII.3:7).

Therefore, since communication with God has never been broken, our function is not to strive for or seek revelation, "…but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it [love, also revelation]. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false" (T.16.IV.6:1,2).

As always we come back to our only task, which is forgiveness. This means being willing to recognize in all our thoughts of judgment and attack, our own fear of love’s revelation. We then have the opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit’s perception to replace ours; what has been blocked is then revealed. The important thing is faithfulness to the process of forgiveness as Jesus teaches in the Course. Only in this way is the thought of separation healed, fear diminished, and we become, as Jesus tells us, "less and less willing to deny" (T.11.VI.3:6) the experience to which he is leading us. "The revelation that the Father and the Son are one will come in time to every mind" (W.p.I.158.2:8).

As discussed in earlier questions, the term Christ Consciousness is not used in the Course. Consciousness is the condition of the separated or split mind, which perceives. Our identity as Christ is our truth which is known, not perceived, and is beyond the realm of consciousness altogether. (See: T.3.IV.2, T.3.III.1:10, T.11.VIII.8:9)

Q #602: A Course in Miracles says that consciousness is "the domain of the ego." I understand that ego-bound human beings, being self-conscious, perceive the world through limited consciousness. What about Jesus who was not ego bound, but who walked among people relating to us while consciously aware of Himself in all with whom He related? Being aware, was He not conscious? And if so, could we term this limitless level of awareness, unbound by ego, Christ Consciousness that we can aspire to? Or am I just confused about the definitions of consciousness?

A: Since, as the Course tells us, "Consciousness, the level of perception, was the first split introduced into the mind after the separation" (T.3.IV.2:1), it is, as you point out, "the domain of the ego" (T.3.IV.2:2), and thus of the separation and the unhealed mind. When the Atonement is accepted the mind is healed, and returns to knowledge rather than consciousness. The important distinction to be mdae, then, is between consciousness and knowledge. Jesus, who is a symbol in the dream of the healed mind, knows he is God’s innocent Son. This state of mind is accomplished when there is no awareness (consciousness) of any other identity. While the mind is split by belief in the separation and is thus unhealed, it perceives; either falsely with the ego, or correctly with the Holy Spirit. It does not know, since knowledge, as it is understood in the Course, refers only to the truth. What is true is known, not perceived: "True perception is the basis for knowledge, but knowing is the affirmation of truth and beyond all perceptions" (T.3.III.1:10).

The term Christ Consciousness is not used in the Course. The Course tells us "Christ is the Son of God Who is in no way separate from His Father, Whose every thought is as loving as the Thought of His Father by which He was created" (T.11.VIII.8:9). Christ simply is, and knows as He is known. This is not the realm of consciousness, which, as we have seen, is the result of the separation and the condition of the unhealed mind. What we are learning through the Course is to forgive ourselves for every thought of judgment that keeps us rooted in the belief in the separation. This process will allow our minds to eventually accept only the truth of who we are as God’s Son, just as Jesus has. We will then join him in the real world and: "Together we will disappear into the Presence beyond the veil, not to be lost but found; not to be seen but known" (T.19.IV.D.19:1).

Other Questions related to consciousness: #27, #32, #65, #127, and #174.