Weekly Questions and Answers, 12/01/2004

This week's questions/topics:

Q #628  If the Holy Spirit does not respond to supplication - is not prayer a form of supplication?
Q #629  How can loving thoughts be perceived in this world?

Q #630  What were the "splits" that led to our present condition?.
Q #631  Caring for the sick makes forgiveness hard to grasp.

Chronological List of All Questions.
Interactive Index of all topics

Q #628: I feel kind of confused about prayer. I have understood that forgiveness means to see something that you desire to change as being something that has been made by the ego. You accept and recognize this as true. Then you ask the Holy Spirit for true perception regarding this thing. I understand that prayers of supplication are not answered by the Holy Spirit. Is not the very asking for true perception a type of prayer of supplication?

A: A Course in Miracles teaches that forgiveness is a process, whereby we recognize that any grievance we have against any person, event, or thing is the result of a projection of guilt. Guilt originates in the mind when a choice is made to be separate from God and from others. The mind seeks to free itself from this guilt by projecting it onto something external to itself. It then dissociates itself from responsibility for choosing separation, denies the guilt, and blames something or someone for causing its discomfort. The forgiveness process begins with the willingness to look at our grievances in the light of this teaching. Whenever we find ourselves blaming something or someone for our feelings of anger, victimization, abandonment, etc., we are asked to remember that the source of our feeling is the guilt in our minds for choosing separation, not the situation or person we are accusing. That is what the Course means when it tells us we "…forgive the Son of God [our brother] for what he did not do" (T.17.III.1:5).

Because we have denied our identity as minds and have a strong attachment to our identity as bodies, this is not an easy process to practice. That is where "prayer" comes in. The Course does not tell us that the Holy Spirit does not answer prayers of supplication. All prayer begins with supplication. Because we perceive Jesus and the Holy Spirit as separate from us, our experience is that we ask them to help us. They represent the part of our minds that remembers our true Identity as God’s innocent Son. The prayer is actually a way of reminding ourselves that we do have a mind with the power to choose "another way" of looking at any situation. The very fact of recognizing misperception as a mistaken choice is already another way of looking, and is in itself the answer to a prayer to see differently. It is not the whole story, but it is a good beginning. Once we have come this far in the process, we have the opportunity to accept that the Holy Spirit’s perception is true, and we would be happier if we let it replace all the judgments about ourselves and others that we have used to keep ourselves rooted in the illusion of separation. This, too, is a prayer, in that it expresses our desire to remember this process each time we find ourselves judging, and becoming upset with the people and circumstances of our lives.

Our prayer then, is to remember, and the answer is our remembering. This is how we join with the Holy Spirit in our minds, and allow Him to teach us to eventually remain there with Him. It is the prayer described in The Song of Prayer (supplement to A Course in Miracles), whereby we "Ask…to receive what is already given; to accept what is already there" (S.1.I.1:7).

Q #629: "The loving thoughts his [the Son of God’s] mind perceives in this world are the world's only reality." If all the apparent kindness and thoughtfulness in the world is the result of the mind’s malevolent manipulation, how can loving thoughts be perceived in this world? I can’t see anything in the world to be happy about although others perceive me as happy, kind, loving, etc. – a perception I do not share. I’m sure that if and when I ever learn what A Course in Miracles is teaching I will know what happiness is. But I need to see something that reflects love in the meantime. Help!

A: Within the illusory world of separation from God, the mind of God’s Son is divided between the part that expresses the ego thought system (the "wrong mind") and the part that expresses the Holy Spirit’s thought system (the "right mind"). This split mind is completed by a decision- making aspect that is always choosing between the two. What emanates from the right mind is truly loving in contrast to what emanates from the wrong mind, which has the appearance of love but is always some form of special love and therefore not really loving at all. The world reflects one or the other to us, since the world "is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition" (T.21.in.1:5). The concept of cause and effect, specifically the idea that the inner is the cause of the outer is a major aspect of the mind-training dimension of this Course. Since that is the exact opposite of what the world teaches, it is a most difficult concept for us to grasp, let alone practice. The core message of the Course will be misunderstood if this aspect of its theory is passed by. That is why Jesus places such great emphasis on it throughout his course, but especially in the early part of the workbook, where he says again and again that our inner and outer worlds are the same (e.g., W.pI.32.2:1)

When you look out from your right mind, you are looking with Jesus -- what is known in the Course as vision, or true perception. With Jesus as your "eyes," you would see only what is loving or what is calling for love, both in yourself and others. The process Jesus guides us through in his course is this kind of gradual, gentle transition -- from depending on what our physical senses perceive to tell us who we are and what the world is to turning more and more to him as our inner teacher to help us perceive truly.

Q #630: I remember hearing Ken Wapnick, on a workshop tape, say that as the wrong mind splits the right mind also splits. Would you review these right-minded splits?

A: The right-minded splits are not splits per se but are simply the Holy Spirit’s corrections for the deceptions of the ego’s wrong-minded splits. Since we find ourselves self-identified as bodies in the world, at the end of the series of splits the ego has led us along to take us as far away as it possibly can from the truth of Who we are as spirit, the right-minded answer is simply the undoing of those splits, in reverse order.

Briefly, the ego’s first split is what seems to cast us out of the oneness of Heaven, beginning the dream of separation which seems to establish us as a separate mind that has consciousness and independence from its Source. At this point, our illusory independent existence is very vulnerable, very fragile, since it takes very little to remember our reality as God’s only Son, perfectly joined with Him and perfectly at peace, which is what the Holy Spirit in our mind represents. And so to protect our individuality, the second split involves our choice to identify completely with the ego and split the Holy Spirit off from our awareness, thereby forgetting that the ego is a choice we have made and not our reality.

The third ego split encompasses the ego’s ingenious myth of sin, guilt and fear, in which we view the separation not only as real, but as a sinful attack on God, destroying Him as a consequence of having disrupted the perfect unity of Heaven in which God has His Being. The guilt over this sin is overwhelming and our only defense against it, if it is real, is to split the sin and guilt off, projecting them outside ourselves onto a made-up God, Who becomes the wrathful avenger, intent on vengeance against us for our sin against Him.

But, as with each of the ego’s splits, this leads to its own set of problems, requiring yet another defensive split. For if I exist in the mind with this maniacal God, bent on my destruction, I need to escape. And so the fourth and final split involves projecting my own identity out into a world of form and bodies, escaping my mind and hiding in the world. But what the ego has failed to tell me is that this solution involves the projection of all the contents of my wrong-mind into the world of form, so that I now live in a world of fear. For the sin and guilt are all still around me, but now external to me in the world and in all my relationships. And so the original vulnerability and fragility of the thought of separation in my mind is now the basis of my identity as a body in the world. Of course, the advantage of this final arrangement is that I am still an individual, but it seems that forces beyond my control have brought about my existence. And if I am the innocent victim of the sinful, guilty world, how can I be held accountable for that original attack on God. How could I possibly be that powerful? Just look at this pathetically weak self I am, despite my best efforts to strengthen and protect myself physically, psychologically and emotionally against a hostile world!

And so it is here we find ourselves, as far removed from our true Identity as spirit as the ego could possibly entice us to go. And it is with this fourth split that the right-minded correction must begin. We are not asked to deny our experience of ourselves as bodies in the world -- the result of the fourth split -- but to be open to a different interpretation of that experience. Rather than focusing on differences as the ego has encouraged us to do -- seeing my innocence as dependent on proving your guilt -- A Course in Miracles is inviting us first to begin to recognize that we are all the same, struggling with our feelings of guilt by trying to project them on to everyone else. In other words, we all share the same guilt and the same need to be released from it. As we begin to accept this idea of shared interests, we will become more aware that we are a mind that is making choices to see the world and others in certain ways, rather than simply a victimized body, although we will almost certainly continue to experience ourselves as victims much of the time. And so we gradually begin to undo the final split.

As we begin to see the world and our relationships differently, we will be more willing to look at the sin and guilt buried in our own mind, recognizing its real source in our identification with the ego, thereby beginning to reduce our investment in the third split. And the right-minded correction for this willingness to look honestly will be the recognition that there is an alternative in our mind to the sin, guilt and fear that up until now we have felt the need to split off and project outside of ourselves. And that alternative is the Holy Spirit, the Reminder of the true innocence we share with everyone else, as we let go of the need to make differences real. And so the wall between the right mind and the wrong mind that we have attempted to make impenetrable with the second split begins to become more porous, allowing more of the light of the right mind to shine on the darkness of the wrong mind, revealing increasingly its illusory nature.

The undoing of these three splits is the focus of the Course’s teachings and it involves a process that will require great willingness on our part over time, for the self we are identified with in the world -- the result of the fourth split -- will lose its meaning and appeal to us over time as we practice the forgiveness that healing the splits requires. But along the way, that shift engenders tremendous fear so long as we still have an investment in the separation and in our separate, unique, individual self being real.

At the end of the process, once we have allowed the barrier we have imposed between the right mind and the wrong mind to dissolve completely in the light of total forgiveness, we will be in the real world, still aware of the dream of separation but completely unaffected by it. And it is from this place of complete healing that we are ready for the undoing of the first split, accomplished by what the Course metaphorically refers to as God’s last step (e.g., T.7.I), in which He lifts us up out of the illusion of duality and returns us to the absolute oneness of Heaven, which in reality we have never left.

Although the process of undoing the splits is described here as if it were linear, in reality it is not, as the miracle, or the holy instant, which is involved in undoing the second, third and fourth splits, occurs outside of time and space. And so our experience will be that we will be moving back and forth between the various levels of the splits over and over again, over time. For example, the Holy Spirit may seem to be a part of our healing process almost from the beginning of our work with the Course, yet we will not really understand the nature of His reality until we have come to understand the nature of the split mind more fully. And despite our increasing recognition that our only real choice is made in the mind, we will continue to get caught in our victim scripts in the world and will need to remind ourselves that we are really the same as all our brothers and sisters.

Those interested in a more in-depth exploration of the four splits may find the tape set, Separation and Forgiveness: The Four Splits and Their Undoing, and volume I, "All Are Called," from the two-volume book set, The Message of A Course in Miracles (both publications by Kenneth Wapnick) helpful.

Q #631: I’ve been a student of A Course in Miracles for over 13 years. In the past year, I’ve become the caregiver for my parents. They both have dementia/Alzheimer’s. I see their blurring of time, "reality" and past grievances that seemed to be dealt with that are now as "real" as they were then. The calendar reads 2004, but the anger is 1944. Caring for my parents makes me question is forgiveness possible?

A: One of the big traps of the ego is to judge by form. Jesus pointedly reminds us, "Nothing so blinding as perception of form" (T.22.III.6:7). It is so difficult for us to accept that the mind is not the brain, and that all physical conditions are expressions of thoughts in the mind. Since we continually protect ourselves from recovering our awareness of ourselves as decision-making minds outside time and space, we depend almost entirely on our senses to tell us what is going on. That is the ego’s goal -- to keep our perception and judgments rooted entirely in the body and the world so that we would never return to our minds and discover that we can choose to see things differently.

What would be helpful therefore is to go within and first realize that you are seeing through the ego’s eyes, which blind you to anything other than form, and then ask for help to see through Jesus’ eyes, which would help you get past the form to the content in the mind. Then you would know that forgiveness is not only possible but guaranteed: "When you unite with me you are uniting without the ego, because I have renounced the ego in myself and therefore cannot unite with yours. Our union is therefore the way to renounce the ego in you. The truth in both of us is beyond the ego. Our success in transcending the ego is guaranteed by God, and I share this confidence for both of us and all of us" (T.8.V.4:1,2,3,4).