Weekly Questions and Answers, 12/29/2004

This week's questions/topics:

Q #645  Are any elements of the biblical account of the resurrection consistent with the Course?
Q #646  Is it judgemental to think of someone as a "blissninny"?

Q #647  How can I deal with the way the Course alters my perception of others' behavior?.
Q #648  Why does Jesus say he can "bring the Holy Spirit down"?
Q #649  Should I be concerned about not doing the Workbook in strictly linear fashion?

Chronological List of All Questions.
Interactive Index of all topics

Q #645: Are there any elements of the physical resurrection of Jesus as depicted in the Bible and popular movies that are consistent with A Course in Miracles?

A: The Course does not give any account of the physical resurrection of Jesus. What it refers to in speaking of Jesus’ and our resurrection is awakening from the dream, by making a choice in the mind to identify with the mind of the Sonship as it was created by God. Jesus knew, as we all know in some part of our minds, that he was God’s innocent Son. The difference between him and us is that is all he knew. He did not identify with the body. If he did in fact appear in bodily form to his disciples after his crucifixion, it would have been no different from his manifestation in form prior to the crucifixion. In other words, he was not a body before nor after his death and resurrection. The Course, therefore, clearly differs with biblical teaching. In fact, the fundamental principles of traditional Christianity and A Course in Miracles are mutually exclusive. While belief in the world, the body, and sin are essential to Christian theology, the Course tells us they do not exist. (See: W.pI.132.6:2; W.pI.167.6; T.26.VII.10:5.) These essential differences are the foundation of the Course’s reinterpretation of Christian biblical teaching.

There is no accurate historical evidence of the events of Jesus’ life 2,000 years ago. Scripture scholars agree that the Gospels are unreliable reports, and so we cannot be sure that anything about the crucifixion or resurrection stories is true. We can be certain of the content of Jesus’ message in the Course. Since there is no sin, there are no grounds for the guilt that is the bedrock of belief in victimization through crucifixion. Jesus tells us in the text: "The message the crucifixion was intended to teach was that it is not necessary to perceive any form of assault in persecution, because you cannot be persecuted" (T.6.I.4:6). The innocent cannot perceive persecution, and the Course is teaching us we are innocent, because the separation (for which we feel guilty) never happened. (M.2.2:7,8) Our resurrection is our acceptance of innocence: "That [the resurrection] is the symbol of the release from guilt by guiltlessness" (T.14.V.10:3). This is what is meant by accepting the Atonement (T.2.V.5:1).

Simply put, the crucifixion of God’s Son occurs when a choice is made in the mind to identify with the body by believing that separation from God is real, and the resurrection is a choice in the mind to accept that He is innocent, because the separation never happened. This is the "…tiny change of mind by which the crucifixion is changed to resurrection" (T.21.II.1:2).

Q #646: If I were to perceive someone as a "blissninny," would that be an ego projection/ judgment on my part? Is perceiving someone as a "blissninny" a value judgment on my part as a way to see myself as more spiritually advanced, or is there a healing aspect to this perception?

A: Seeing someone as a blissninny because they see the positive aspect of all things and deny the dark side of the ego, could be a simple observation. However, if a judgment is made that because they are blissninnies they are inferior beings, or "Course sinners" who should be cleansed of their sinful, blissy ways, then certainly this is the ego projecting guilt by standing in condemnation of a brother. The ego’s motive could be to perceive yourself as more spiritually advanced, as you suggest, which only means being as fearful as the blissninny. A blissninny is not a sinner because of blissninniness, any more than anyone is a sinner for projecting and judging. In different form they are the same mistake. The blissninny says: "I fear I am such a miserable sinner that I must deny the darkness within, and cover it over with sugar and spice." The "spiritually advanced" person says: "I am such a miserable sinner, that I must find others who are bigger sinners so they will be punished instead of me." The healing aspect of this perception is that it uncovers the error so it can be healed through forgiveness.

It is important to remember that the practice of forgiveness has nothing to do with changing anyone’s behavior, including one’s own. It means recognizing that the projection and judgment occur as the result of guilt in the mind for having chosen to believe the separation is real. This belief is the sin we accuse ourselves of and feel guilty about. We then become fearful that we will be found out and punished by God. Once we embark on this insane spiral of the ego’s logic, we are compelled to seek and find other "bigger" sinners to take the rap for us. The ego is particularly fond of "spiritual" sinners like blissninnies, whom we accuse of the grievous sin of misinterpreting and misusing the Course. This is an example of the ego’s trick of disguising itself in spiritual specialness to justify attack on "lesser" beings. Many such attacks have been "excused" by students with the claim: "At least I know what I’m doing," or "At least I’m not in denial." The simple solution is a return to the practice of forgiveness. If, in fact, I do know what I’m doing, and am not in denial, then, if I choose to, I can see that I have identified with the ego, and projected the guilt for doing so on this unsuspecting "happy" person. The next step is to ask for help to make another choice. Healing is now possible because the guilt and fear, judgment and attack, have been uncovered, and recognized for what they are. Therefore, they no longer need to be projected outward. Any judgment about ourselves or others can he transformed by the Holy Spirit through this process of forgiveness. Only the willingness to give Him every mistaken perception is required: "The Holy Spirit asks of you but this; bring to Him every secret [judgment] you have locked away from Him. Open every door to Him, and bid Him enter the darkness and lighten it away" (T.14.VII.6:1,2).

Q #647: As I have moved through the material in A Course in Miracles, I feel that I have gained insight into others' behavior more and more, and their specialness motives are more and more transparent to me. It makes me depressed sometimes when I see people whom I used to respect and admire coming from a space of specialness; and what I used to regard as their "kindness" and "thoughtfulness" are seen for what they are: manipulation. Can you comment on this? Is this just me letting idols go and becoming disillusioned?

A: There are two ways of looking at specialness: through the harsh, judgmental eyes of the ego, or the gentle, forgiving eyes of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. If you choose the ego, you would see specialness primarily in others, condemn it there rather than in yourself so you would not have to deal with the guilt, and then justify feeling even more separate from these formerly nice people than you were before. The ego thus would have snared you and achieved its objective of making separation and sinfulness real, binding you to itself through depression and disillusionment.

If you choose to look with forgiving eyes, however, you would be joined with Jesus in realizing, first, that everyone is involved in the same self-deception for the same reason, and that everyone shares the same solution in their right minds and the same ability to choose it. Second, you would also realize that the ego has no power over love, and so there would be no reason to react negatively to the specialness that is the mark of ego identification. It is just part of the tiny, mad idea that it is possible to change the eternal Oneness of God’s Being into separated fragments, and to replace Love that extends Itself eternally without limits with a pseudo-love that involves limitations, competition, sacrifice, and loss. Jesus advises us that we ought only to laugh at such a ridiculous thought. Thus, specialness is spawned by an idea that the impossible is possible. So you would judge and get depressed over specialness only if you think it is real in some way.

Then, too, as you suggest, the special love relationships you have formed with those you have admired for their kindness, thoughtfulness, etc., have been substitutes for the only real relationship, which is with God or with His reflection in your mind, Jesus. When you begin to see the falsity of special love, it comes as a disillusioning shock because you were not aware of the role it played in covering your guilt for having separated from your Source. But if you now perceive it with the forgiving eyes of Jesus, you will see only a silly mistake that has had no effect on truth and reality. By not judging others for indulging in specialness, you will be releasing yourself from a damning self-accusation that has been kept in concealment. And by seeing past the choice for specialness in others to the fear that motivated that choice, and past that to the love the fear is hiding, you will finally reach the place within where you perceive your oneness with everyone else. Judgment then is replaced by compassion and peace.

Q #648: Ken is very diligent about reminding us of A Course in Miracles’ teaching regarding bringing the darkness to the light. That being case, what do you say about: "...I am...alert to the revelation-readiness of my brothers. I can thus bring down to them more than they can draw down to themselves." [T1.II.5:1,2]. Also, "I have said already that I can reach up and bring the Holy Spirit down to you...." [T5.I.3:2].

A: Bringing the darkness to the light means bringing all the thoughts of guilt in our mind to the light of Jesus’ or the Holy Spirit’s true forgiveness, where they can be released back into the nothingness that is their source. In contrast, bringing the light to the darkness means trying to bring Jesus or the Holy Spirit (the light) into the world (the darkness) to solve our problems here, as we have defined them and believe they exist. Since the problems of the world are only ever projections of the guilt in our mind, our approach is doomed to failure because we are never addressing the underlying problem of the guilt, falling instead for the ego’s smokescreen in the world, in our external relationships. But if we can begin to recognize that those external problems are simply symbols of the guilt in our mind, we can reverse the process and return our attention to the underlying problem, the choice for guilt in the mind. However, the temptation will remain very strong to see our problems as outside of ourselves -- hence the need for great diligence on our part.

The lines you quote, which come early in the Course, when the language was a little less precise and the style somewhat affected by Helen’s fear, are not inconsistent with this. The bringing down that Jesus refers to does not mean bringing the Holy Spirit or God into the world, but must be understood in light of the distinction Jesus makes, in the previous paragraph in the first section you cite, between the horizontal axis (in time, which is illusory) and the vertical axis (in the mind). Jesus is making clear here that on our own, we can not bridge the vertical distance in our mind between the limited self we believe we are and our perfect and limitless reality as God’s Son. And so we need a help, symbolized specifically by Jesus in our mind, to cover that otherwise uncrossable gap, who can bring a qualitatively different kind of experience to our mind if we are willing to join with him. These references have nothing to do with anything in the world and are speaking only of an experience of complete and total oneness that can barely be sustained while we cling to an identity rooted in the world of time and space.

Q #649: I am new to A Course in Miracles and totally fascinated with its concepts. I've been trying to do the lessons one per day as the Course instructs. Sometimes it is not possible for me to do the 3 to 4 times daily exercises of each applicable idea and I find myself going back to the previous lessons to make sure "I got them right." Today, for example, I went back to lessons 1 through 8, and I found in them things I did not notice before. It elated me for a while, but now I feel kind of depressed. Am I doing something wrong? Am I overdoing? Can you explain?

A: It is not at all necessary to do the lessons over because you realized you missed important aspects of them the first time. It is quite normal to miss things -- even after the third or fourth reading. There are layers of meaning, and you will comprehend only what you are ready for at any given moment. Your continued study and practice of the Course will prepare you to go more deeply into the teachings; but it is important to remember always that this is a process that will extend over many, many years. So you need not be concerned that missing something now will seriously affect your spiritual progress. We assure you that you will meet up with it again later. The ego would have you view the process as strictly linear, whereas the more you turn away from the ego and toward Jesus or the Holy Spirit to help you, the more gentle and kind you will be with yourself, as you will realize that the process is not restricted by time at all. The whole purpose of the workbook exercises is to reduce your guilt and eventually enable you to let it go entirely, so if you are feeling any sense of guilt or pressure, you know that the ego has sneaked in and is attempting to steer you back in its direction. Just smile gently when you become aware of that ploy and remind yourself that Jesus’ way is the way of gentleness and calmness -- never any pressure.

Other students have had similar concerns and so you might benefit from reading our answers to Questions #64, #92, and #230 in this Question and Answer Service. We refer in these answers to Lesson 95, where Jesus tells his students what to do when they become aware that they have been remiss in their practice of the lessons. His discussion of this concern is quite important and helpful.