Weekly Questions and Answers, 01/26/2005

This week's questions/topics:

Q #662  How does "all thinking produce(s) form on some level"?
Q #663  What is the nature of the "decision maker" ?

Q #664  Has anyone actually achieved the goal of the Course?
Q #665  What is meant by "form" and "content"?

Chronological List of All Questions.
Interactive Index of all topics

Q #662: Would you comment on the idea "all thinking produces form on some level" (T.2.VI.9:14)? Maybe give a couple of examples and how it may relate to working with A Course in Miracles.

A: The meaning of this important statement is that thinking and its effects are simultaneous, as Jesus repeats in Lesson 19: "Thinking and its results are really simultaneous, for cause and effect are never separate" (W.pI.19.1:4). As the preceding sentences in the paragraph indicate, Jesus was trying to teach Helen, and all of us, that we deal with our fear of our mind’s power by believing that we can have "ineffectual" or "idle" thoughts. So Jesus is correcting that by saying that all our thoughts have effects. He emphasizes this same teaching in Lessons 16 and 17 in the workbook. Most of us are accustomed to thinking that our thoughts have no effect if we do not share them or act on them. That is because we do not believe we are minds, or if we do believe we are minds, we believe the mind is in the body and so if the body does not act on a thought, the thought has had no effect. Jesus is saying that our thoughts always have effects. A thought of hatred, for example, even if kept totally "private," has an effect in the mind of the person who has the thought, because it is a thought of separation and that thought banishes peace because it banishes the truth. This does not mean, however, that if you have thoughts of anger toward someone and that person has a heart attack that your thoughts caused the heart attack. No one can choose for another, as Jesus explains in Lesson 152, "The power of decision is my own" (W.pI.152).

Taken on the metaphysical level, the statement means that every thought is expressed in the dream in terms of a "script," analogous to a video-tape library, where the expression of each thought would be represented by a video tape. Portions of Lessons 158 and 169 refer to this notion of "script" (W.pI.158, 169). Our book A Vast Illusion: Time According to A Course in Miracles also discusses in detail these as well as other aspects of time found in the Course.

Q #663: I would like some clarification on the decision maker. Is there one for each of us or is there just one? Can I contact the decision maker through my thoughts? What will happen to the decision maker once I (we) am (are) healed?

A: Before answering your specific questions, it is important to understand that when we say anything about the split mind, we are talking about illusion And that means we are operating within the symbols of the ego thought system of separation and duality. And while we can not avoid using symbols in our present state of mind, we do have a choice about the purpose they will serve -- they can be used either to maintain and reinforce our belief in separation and guilt or to lead us beyond that belief.

In A Course in Miracles, Jesus tells us that, in the whole Mind in Heaven, our only function as God’s Son, the Christ, is to create, or extend, the Love that we are (T.9.III.8:4). But once we seemed to entertain the thought of differences and separation, we forgot our function or power to create (T.7.IX.3), replacing it instead with the power to choose (T.12.VII.9:1). And the choice is simply whether to continue to listen to the ego, the voice for maintaining the separation, or to the Holy Spirit, the Voice for healing the separation. This basic power of the split mind to choose between these two alternatives is what, for ease of discussion, we have referred to in our teaching at the Foundation as the "decision maker." In other words, there is no separate entity that exists that is the decision maker -- it is the fundamental power or function of our own mind in its seemingly separated state, where differences and alternatives seem real and therefore choice between the alternatives seems real as well. The decision maker, as such, is an illusory symbol, but it can be a helpful one to use in our process of undoing the thought of separation, serving as a powerful, alternative identity to the victimized self the ego holds out to us.

It is not in the best interests of the ego that we remember that basic function of the split mind to choose, for it makes the ego very vulnerable to the power of our mind to make a simple choice against it. And so the ego has concocted a complex list of other imagined powers and functions to distract us with, and a world and a body to become identified with, so that we forget our initial choice for the ego and separation, no longer remembering that it was our mind’s own choice that has brought us to our current condition and circumstances in the world.

The Course’s primary purpose is to help us remember that one basic function of the split mind -- to choose (T.31.VIII). But to understand what this basic choice is all about, we need to learn that all the seemingly different choices we make and functions we have in the world are nothing more than different forms of the same one choice for the ego (T.31.IV). We don’t believe that yet, believing instead that that the choices we make here in the world will make a difference in whether we are happy or not. So we have not really forgotten the power of our mind to choose, but we have forgotten the only real choice in the split mind -- the Holy Spirit and His function of forgiveness.

Now part of the ego’s diversionary tactic to distract us from this single, unitary choice is the seeming fragmentation of the split mind into all the billions of seemingly separate individual minds, each with its own body and identity. But all the fragments remain a part of the one split mind, which never loses its power to choose between the ego and the Holy Spirit.

And so returning now to your questions: Each of us maintains our own capacity to choose while we each continue to think that we exist separate from one another, although we share that same function to choose as part of the one mind. In that sense, we each have our own separate decision maker. The decision maker is not a separate entity to be contacted, but a function each of us needs to remember. And it’s not really that we need to remember that our minds have the power to choose. We need to remember what the only real choice is about, which we recall in any moment when we recognize our ego and know that we are not our ego. When we have released all of our fear over losing our ego identity and have made the choice, once and for all, for the Holy Spirit, we will no longer need the power to choose, for we will know with certainty that only one of the alternatives is real. We will be just one step away from Heaven and return to our one true function as God’s Son -- sharing in creating. And so with nothing to choose between, the power of choice will disappear and the decision maker will no longer seem to exist, its function and purpose completed.

Q #664: I know that the goal of A Course in Miracles is to realize that all the world we see is an illusion and to eventually give up our ego to be in the reality of union with God. My question is has anyone ever reached the goal and actually done it? If so how did they describe the experience. Are there signposts along the way that the illusion is nearly dismissed or have I missed the point and there is another goal?

A: Your question is a version of the "famous question" of how the separation could have ever happened if we were happy and at peace in God. It implies that the separation is real and the question can then only be answered in some form that supports this belief. The truth is that we have all "done it," because we have not "undone it" (See T.6.II.10:7,8). However, we believe we have accomplished the impossibility of separating from God and are in need of help to learn that we are mistaken. We have chosen to believe the dream of separation and have identified with the ego. This mistake includes identifying with the body, and makes the world real in our experience. We then seem to experience a learning process whereby we gradually accept the Holy Spirit’s truth and learn to identify with the part of the mind that holds the memory of God’s Love, rather than with the body. It is the healing process of forgiveness that provides glimpses of the Love that has been forgotten, described in the Course as holy instants. Gradually we learn that the peace of the holy instant is preferable to the pain of clinging to the ego, and begin to choose it more frequently and easily, until it is the only thing we choose. That is how the "goal" is accomplished.

Jesus represents for us one who has chosen to identify only with the Love in his mind, and has thus reached the goal. His "experience" is expressed throughout A Course in Miracles, and is, in fact, its source. The important thing to remember is that it is also our experience. As he tells us in the text: "Believe in the resurrection [the "goal"] because it has been accomplished, and it has been accomplished in you. This is as true now as it will ever be… For we ascend unto the Father together, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, for such is the nature of God's Son as his Father created him" (T.11.VI.4:6,7,9).

The signposts along the way need not be earth shattering experiences. They are simple moments like the sense of relief when we finally let go of a grievance, or realize that we do not have to be right, letting someone else have the final word. A moment of peace, however fleeting, points the way to the lasting peace we seek. It is important to recognize these little signs, rather than to expect lightening bolts to flash into our lives. Being true glimpses of the final goal, they lead us more surely to its realization. We return always to the practice of the forgiveness the Course teaches as the sure guide to our own awakening. The necessary condition for the holy instant does not require that you have no thoughts that are not pure. But it does require that you have none that you would keep" (T.15.IV.9:1,2). So our goal is only to do our part in looking at all our judgments, which are the blocks that prevent our awareness of God’s Love. As the blocks are removed, the truth of our oneness with His Love, which seemed to have been forgotten, will be remembered.

Q #665: What does A Course in Miracles mean by "form" and "content?" How does one know that one is experiencing Christ's Love or the Holy Spirit's Answer? I have been working with the Course for 10 years and am a bit frustrated with the lack of progress. I simply cannot think of anyone or anything to forgive. I truly believe I am holy and I "see "the illusion in which I dwell. Yet, Heaven eludes me. Must one die a physical death in order to dwell in the promised Heaven? I am really curious to hear how others are experiencing Love.

A: The first thing we need to understand about form and content is that they are part of the Son of God’s dream, and do not exist in reality. While the Son sleeps he appears to have a mind separate from God’s. This mind has only two possible "contents" or thoughts: the thought of separation, or the memory of oneness with God. It has only one activity: the power to choose between these two thoughts. Once the mind chooses one of these two thoughts, the thought takes form. The form may be a specific behavior, a "thought" or a judgment that expresses the original thought. As the Course tells us early in the text: "All thinking produces form at some level" (T.2.VI.9:14). When the content of the mind is the choice for the Holy Spirit, Who represents the memory of God’s Love in the mind, whatever is done or not done in form will be a reflection of that Love. The Love/content is communicated in some form because it has been chosen. If the content of the mind is the choice for separation, it is governed by the ego. Therefore, no matter how sweet and loving the form may appear to be, it will be an attack because it expresses the ego’s denial of God.

If Heaven eludes us, we are not at peace, and if we are not at peace there is room for forgiveness. As Jesus tells us in the text: "Whenever you are not wholly joyous, it is because you have reacted with a lack of love to one of God's creations" (T.5.VII.5:1). The initial "lack of love" occurs in the mind when we choose to identify with the ego, rather than with the part of the mind that remembers who we truly are (God’s innocent Son). This is what the Course teaches is unloving toward oneself, as well as all our brothers who are God’s one Son, and it is what needs to be forgiven.

The goal of the Course is to teach us to become aware of the content of our minds so that it can be healed of the thought of separation, and we can make another choice. Meanwhile, because our minds are unhealed, we are not the ones to judge whether we are truly experiencing or expressing the loving content of the Holy Spirit. We also are not qualified to evaluate our progress. When we are discouraged about our progress it is helpful to call to mind the passage at the end of the text: "I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not know what I am doing, where I am, or how to look upon the world or on myself" (T31.V.17:7). Jesus also tells us "Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures, and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success" (T.18.V.1:6). This may not seem like good news on a "good" day when we’re having a "good time," but it does free us of the burden of evaluating ourselves. Ultimately it is very good news because we are not the miserable sinners we thought we were. We need not know anything, we need only to be willing to do our part by paying careful attention to any judgments that are not loving, so they can be healed, then "…What you are will tell you of Itself" (T.31.V.17:9) and that will be our final experience.

Attachment to our ego is what keeps us from the awareness that we are home with God in Heaven. This block to our awareness is not removed by death, it is undone through healing the thought of separation. Since the Course itself is a reflection of the part of the mind that holds the memory of God’s Love, the forgiveness it teaches is also an experience of love: "Forgiveness [choosing the Holy Spirit] is the healing of the perception of separation. Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness [choosing separation]. Yet that is the content underneath the form. It is this sameness which makes learning sure, because the lesson is so simple that it cannot be rejected in the end" (W.pI.193.4:1,2,3). Though not the final experience, the small glimpses of Love’s reflection when we let go of judgments against ourselves and others will lead us to it. As we are promised in the text: "I am leading you to a new kind of experience that you will become less and less willing to deny" (T.11.VI.3:6). We have great resistance to this healing, which is why the study of A Course in Miracles is a lifetime process. Our patient, persistent and gentle practice of forgiveness will lead us home.