Weekly Questions and Answers, 05/04/2005

This week's questions/topics:
Q #720  What action should I take when I become aware of my own ego?
Q #721  Is it just another ego-ploy to feel that I am unworthy of the Atonement?
Q #722  Is there a parallel between separation from one's parents and the original separation?
Q #723  Are we already "saved"?

Chronological List of All Questions.
Interactive Index of all topics

Q #720: Over the past several weeks, I have begun to notice how often I am clamoring for attention, trying to make myself superior, trying to put someone else down, trying to be noticed, and on and on. All, it seems, being driven my by the need to feel "special." The fact that I notice this so clearly makes me very happy, and the fact that I do not berate myself when I notice I am doing it makes me feel even happier. My question is: what do I do once I notice it? I feel like I need to do something to "change" it, but I'm guessing this is actually what I shouldn't do. If so, what do I do with this awareness?

A: Stay with it. You are right, it is not necessary to change anything. In fact, we cannot change the illusions the ego puts forth, and trying to do so gives them a power they do not have in truth. The only requirement is willingness to recognize the ego’s antics for what they are (effects of the mind’s choice for separation), see the purpose they serve in keeping us attached to our identity with the body, and ask the Holy Spirit’s help to make another choice. This is simple enough. The problem of our fierce attachment to specialness means we do not always want the Holy Spirit’s help, because we want our specialness more. However, if you keep noticing/looking you will see how this specialness is the cause of feelings ranging from mild uneasiness to intense guilt, in spite of the fact that you are not judging yourself for the specialness. As the pain of these feelings becomes unbearable it awakens in us a deeper desire for healing, which shifts us away from the darkness of our attraction to specialness toward the light of who we truly are as God’s innocent Son.

It is important to remember that your increased awareness does not mean that you cherish your specialness more, now that you notice it. It means that you now know what the ego is up to, and that is very significant. When the mind chooses to identify with the body, it denies its true identity as spirit, thus obliterating it from awareness. That is why we are not aware of the choosing activity of the mind, but can become aware, as you describe, of the effects of the choice the mind makes. This awareness, brought about and fostered by looking at the specific form the choice for separation takes in our relationships, is the only way for us to learn to identify with the mind rather than with the body. Only by learning we are minds can we use the power of the mind to not choose separation. The awareness you speak of is a very important step out of the denial that is the ego’s cornerstone. If "not seeing" keeps us rooted in the problem of separation, "seeing’ is clearly the beginning of the solution. The ego thrives on denial; the Holy Spirit offers us awareness. To ultimately become aware of the memory of God’s Love present in our minds, we must first become aware of all the defenses we have raised against that Love. So, the only thing to do now is keep looking without judgment, but with the vigilance that is required: "…vigilance is essential. … [it] is not necessary for truth, but it is necessary against illusions" (T6.V.C8:6,9).

The important "sequence of events" to remember as you continue to look vigilantly is: 1.what you see (specialness, judgment, projection) is the effect of the mind’s choice for separation, 2. This choice is the true cause of all the pain and anguish in our lives and our world, 3. The mind has the power to choose differently. Awareness is thus the "pearl of great price" in the curriculum A Course in Miracles has set for us leading us to finally make the choice for God.

Q #721: I sometimes think that A Course in Miracles is for everyone but me and I cannot figure out why. It is like I want to tell everyone about it, and think that they are worthy of it but I am not. I know that Jesus says that "excluding yourself from the Atonement is the ego's last ditch effort...." but why do I do this? Can you comment on this?

A: Only resistance keeps us from personally accepting Jesus’ loving message and from applying the Course’s teachings of forgiveness in our relationships. This resistance is experienced in some form by everyone who studies the Course. The reason for the resistance is fear. We are afraid that if we accept Jesus’ love, which is the reflection of God’s Love, we will lose the special individual selves we cherish. They were chosen to replace the Identity God gave us as His innocent Son, which was denied when the separation thought was taken seriously. Believing this was a terrible "sin" makes us feel unworthy of God’s Love, and it is this Love that is reflected in the Course, which is why you feel it is for everyone else, but you are unworthy of it. The fact is, we are unworthy of the false identity as bodies that we tenaciously cling to. Having seemingly lost our true treasure (our Identity as God’s innocent Son), the ego tells us we will be left with nothing if we lose the specialness of our identity as bodies. We believe this and then refuse to listen to the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of who we are, or to practice His lessons of forgiveness. However, "The ego does not know what it is trying to teach. It is trying to teach you what you are without knowing what you are. It is expert only in confusion. It does not understand anything else. As a teacher, then, the ego is totally confused and totally confusing" (T.8.II.1:4,5,6,7,8).

Its confusing message tells us the body/brain has the power to choose and make decisions about everything, including who we are. Once we choose to believe this, it is not easy to reverse our upside-down thinking regarding the body and the mind, because learning we are minds means everything we believe about ourselves and the world is false: "The resistance to recognizing this [that the mind makes decisions] is enormous, because the existence of the world as you perceive it depends on the body being the decision maker" (M.5.11.1:7). Our hope lies in the power of our minds to make another choice. We can choose to believe the Holy Spirit’s teaching by allowing Him to gradually replace our mistaken beliefs about ourselves with His perception. We need not do battle with our resistance to His teaching once we become aware of it. That only makes it real, and gives it more power to keep us defended against hearing His Voice. It is enough to begin by recognizing the sneaky forms resistance takes to confuse us, and then not take it seriously. We are led gently, just as we would gently lead a child to peek into the closet where the "monster" hides. "The Holy Spirit does not seek to throw you into panic. So He merely asks if just a little question might be raised" (T.31.V.11:5,6). Whenever we are overcome with feelings of unworthiness or guilt, we may ask, "And what if I were wrong?" Raising just this little doubt about our "rightness" allows a ray of the Holy Spirit’s healing light to enter the darkness of our confusion and lessens our belief in the ego’s madness.

Q #722: I am certain that I have read and heard Ken say that our lives here (in the dream) are the constant acting out of what we believe happened to cause the separation from God -- that we wanted to be special and because God cannot give special favor, we killed Him and usurped His place. In that moment the mind split. The facilitator in the group I attend often defines the separation as something that happened to us when we were very young – usually by a parent whom we loved and trusted, and that parent did or said something that was not love, and so we gave it an interpretation other than love, and that was our introduction to the "ego". Can you comment on these interpretations -- they seem to be saying the same thing. I see my relationship with my parents as being the acting out of my relationship with God. I chose autonomy from God and continue to do so and I chose autonomy from my parents as all children do in this dream.

A: The separation, as it is spoken of in A Course in Miracles, has nothing to do with the body. The body is simply the projection of a thought of guilt in the mind -- it embodies that thought, if you will. The separation began, as you say, when the Son of God believed he had killed God and gave himself existence as a separate mind (not in reality, of course). The process of fragmenting what once was one continued, culminating in our experience right now of there being multitudes of separate, individualized beings. All that we are doing, however, despite appearances, is reliving "the single instant when the time of terror took the place of love" (T.26.V.13:1). So, yes, our interactions with our parents -- and everyone else as well -- would reflect the ego thoughts in our minds or, in a holy instant, the love in our minds. What is so hard for us to fathom is that the mind (not the brain) of the infant or child is a mature mind containing both the thought system of the ego and the thought system of the Holy Spirit along with the capacity to choose between the two. The separation is already a "reality" for that mind. It projects itself into the form of a body, which appears to begin as an infant and then develops through various stages into adulthood. But since ideas leave not their source, this is all going on only within the mind, which is outside time and space.

Q #723: Is it right that from the viewpoint of A Course in Miracles we are already "saved" and have always been, and isn't that the humorous part in all of the book that we ask so many questions and struggle and struggle and it's all already done for us? If someone from outside were watching us, wouldn't that be good stuff for a comedy? Aren’t love and humor closely linked? How can we express that love in this world without being absorbed by it? By letting ourselves be absorbed?

A: As Jesus tells us in the text: "It is a joke to think that time can come to circumvent eternity …" (T.27.VIII.6:5). This means that when viewed from the Holy Spirit’s perspective we find ourselves in a humorous situation as you indicate. In the end, just before God reaches down to lift us to Himself, we will smile at the foolishness of the entire dream. Meanwhile, that smile can be experienced in the dream in the holy instant and the real world (T.19.III.10; 27.VII.14; W.pI.153.14; T.15.V.11). For one who knows that separation from God is impossible, the belief in separation is preposterous and perhaps comical. For one who believes separation is real, its effects seem real as well, and are experienced as disastrous and painful (T.27.VIII.8:4,5,6,7). You are correct in saying that we are saved and have, in truth, never left our home in God. We certainly would not need to struggle and question if we accepted this truth as true. The problem is that we think we are here and do not believe the truth about ourselves. As Jesus tells us in the text: "This is a very simple course. Perhaps you do not feel you need a course which, in the end, teaches that only reality is true. But do you believe it? When you perceive the real world, you will recognize that you did not believe it" (T.11.VIII.1: 1,2,3,4 italics ours). This means that until we reach the real world, we do not believe reality is true. We have chosen to believe instead the ego’s lie of separation, which is why we take ourselves and the dream of separation seriously, and are not smiling the smile the Course speaks of, nor laughing "… at pain and loss, at sickness and at grief, at poverty, starvation and at death" (W.pI.187.6:4). Our resistance to learning what is true is the source of our struggle with the Course’s teaching, and of our inability to smile peacefully at everything in our lives and our world.

Resistance is undone through the process of forgiveness, whereby we look at all the judgments that issue from the choice to identify with the ego, with a little willingness to offer them to the Holy Spirit to be transformed. The process begins with the recognition that our interpretation of every experience is a projection of guilt for having chosen to believe the separation is real. As forgiveness becomes a way of life, guilt and the fear of punishment diminish and the love that is always there slowly dawns upon the mind. This does not happen abruptly. Slowly, fear lessens and glimpses of love’s reflection take its place. Gradually it becomes easier and more attractive to identify with the love. When we identify with love, we are "absorbed" in it in the sense that it is the only thing we choose. In the text, Jesus tells us: "When you want only love you will see nothing else" (T.12.VII.8:1). Love then extends itself naturally with no interference from the ego. Until then, the many other things we think we want keep us holding on to the ego’s guilt and fear, which block love from our awareness. Very early in the text, Jesus tells us we are the same as he, but allow other interests to obscure our awareness: "There is nothing about me that you cannot attain. I have nothing that does not come from God. The difference between us now is that I have nothing else" (T.1.II.3:10,11,12). Our goal is to seek the Holy Spirit’s help through forgiveness to remove "the blocks to the awareness of love's presence" (T.in.1:7). We will then truly see the humor in the dream, smile gently at our foolishness, and be "absorbed" in love.