Weekly Questions and Answers, 06/01/2005

This week's questions/topics:

Q #736  My weight is making spiritual progress difficult for me.
Q #737  If all love relationships are special, is it wrong to get married?
Q #738  If the is no such thing as cause and effect in this world, why does Jesus seem to say there is?
Q #739  What is the difference between "Knowledge" and eastern "enlightenment"?

Chronological List of All Questions.
Interactive Index of all topics

Q #736: As I've progressed on my spiritual path, my only worry now is that I will fall back into thinking as I used to before. These moments are less and less frequent. But what is the best way to overcome these feelings, to manage the moments of anxiety? When I feel I've passed almost all the ego's tests, my weight becomes an issue, and any perfection I feel I've reached is meaningless because I'm not good looking or thin. How can I deal with that? I feel I have tried everything.

A: A Course in Miracles would say the problem in the end is not what we think of our bodies or our personalities or other aspects of our individual selves, but that we think of ourselves as bodies at all. Our perfection has nothing to do with the body, for perfection is only of the spirit, which is already perfect (T.2V.1:8) and can never be lacking in any way. Now, obviously, most of us still identify with this individual self and Jesus is not asking us to deny our experiences and feelings -- that would serve no helpful purpose. But it is helpful to recognize that his Course ultimately is leading us beyond any bodily identification (e.g., T.1.I.29:3;) , so that we can begin to put our anxieties and concerns in a greater context.

Our anxieties and bodily concerns keep us anchored in the ego's thought system (T29.II.9,10). There is really nothing to be done about them, except to acknowledge the feelings when they arise and recognize that their purpose is to reinforce the belief we all hold that we are separate, vulnerable, and unlovable. Our perception of our body will shift as we change under whose guidance we place our mind -- and this has nothing to do with any physical changes in the body itself but only the purpose we see in it. As Jesus explains, “The body is beautiful or ugly, peaceful or savage, helpful or harmful, according to the use to which it is put.…If the body becomes a means you give to the Holy Spirit to use on behalf of union of the Sonship, you will not see anything physical except as what it is. Use it for truth and you will see it truly. Misuse it and you will misunderstand it, because you have already done so by misusing it. Interpret anything apart from the Holy Spirit and you will mistrust it. This will lead you to hatred and attack and loss of peace (T.8.VII.4:3,5,6,7,8,9).

And by misusing the body, Jesus means that we see our own body as the means of having our individual specialness needs met, while we see our brothers' bodies as the cause of all our suffering and unhappiness, either for their attacks that inflict pain directly, or for what they fail to do that we would have them do for us. In contrast to the ego's use, the Holy Spirit would have us recognize that the body is only the screen onto which we have projected our mind's guilt over our belief in separation and attack. And with that recognition we can then release the guilt in the mind to the Holy Spirit, so that our body can now become an instrument for communicating His Love and forgiveness.

In the paragraphs preceding the lines just quoted, Jesus observes: “Remember that the Holy Spirit interprets the body only as a means of communication. Being the Communication Link between God and His separated Sons, the Holy Spirit interprets everything you have made in the light of what He is. The ego separates through the body. The Holy Spirit reaches through it to others. You do not perceive your brothers as the Holy Spirit does, because you do not regard bodies solely as a means of joining minds and uniting them with yours and mine. This interpretation of the body will change your mind entirely about its value. Of itself it has none.

If you use the body for attack, it is harmful to you. If you use it only to reach the minds of those who believe they are bodies, and teach them through the body that this is not so, you will understand the power of the mind that is in you. If you use the body for this and only for this, you cannot use it for attack. In the service of uniting it becomes a beautiful lesson in communion, which has value until communion is. This is God's way of making unlimited what you have limited. The Holy Spirit does not see the body as you do, because He knows the only reality of anything is the service it renders God on behalf of the function He gives it” (T.8.VII.2,3) .

You may also find either the cassette tape or the small book, both titled Overeating: A Dialogue , by Kenneth Wapnick, helpful with your issues around weight and the body's appearance.

Q #737: If all love relationships are a defense against the pain that comes from rejection of God's Love, then is it bad to get married? Am I wrong in thinking of having a holy family as I always dreamt of?

A: It is not wrong to get married or have a family, just as it is not wrong to do any of the things we do in the world. In fact, it is important that we do all the things we want to do, precisely because we dream of them. Having chosen separation and identification with the body, everything we do is part of the dream of separation. A Course in Miracles does not ask that we deny ourselves any of the things we think we want, nor that we change our behavior in any way. Rather, its goal is to help us understand the purpose the ego has given to everything (to make the separation real), and to teach us to allow the Holy Spirit to use what we have made for a different purpose (to undo the thought of separation). The world we dream about is the classroom in which we learn to awaken from the dream, and family life in particular is a very important part of the process. It is the home of the special relationships we think we need to fill the void left by the separation. The Holy Spirit needs these special relationships so they can be transformed: “In His function as Interpreter of what you made, the Holy Spirit uses special relationships, which you have chosen to support the ego, as learning experiences that point to truth. Under His teaching, every relationship becomes a lesson in love” (T.15.V.4:5,6). To deny that we want them is to deprive ourselves of the very conditions the Holy Spirit needs to teach us forgiveness.   

Everything we seek in the world is a defense in several ways: a defense of the belief that the separation is real, a defense against God's Love that we have rejected and now fear, a defense against the pain of rejecting Love by seeking comfort in our special relationships. Jesus asks that we recognize that this defense strategy of the ego is the result of the mind's choice for separation without justifying it, or judging it as “bad.” It is not bad or sinful, because it has no real effects. This means that however much we believe we are bodies living in the world, the truth of who we are remains unchanged. We begin the forgiveness process by not denying that we believe we are bodies wanting to do all kinds of things in the world. Then our only function is to be willing to look without judgment at our beliefs, seeing in them all our thoughts of specialness, based on the insatiable feeling of need engendered by the separation that we project onto all our relationships. By the very fact of being willing to see the ego thought system in operation in our “dreams” and desires, they become the Holy Spirit's classroom: “However unholy the reason you made them may be, He can translate them into holiness by removing as much fear as you will let Him. You can place any relationship under His care and be sure that it will not result in pain, if you offer Him your willingness to have it serve no need but His” (T.15.V.5:3,4). That is our goal in studying the Course. It is how what we have made to defend the belief in separation can be used to undo it. Thus, it is not only not bad to get married and have the family you have always wanted, it is important that you do so. What will bring healing to these special relationships is inviting the Holy Spirit to be with you as you marry and have children, as well as willingness to apply His lessons of forgiveness in your family life. It is the Holy Spirit Who will make it a holy family: [He] knows no one is special. Yet He also perceives that you have made special relationships, which He would purify and not let you destroy… All the guilt in it arises from your use of it. All the love from His. Do not, then, be afraid to let go your imagined needs, which would destroy the relationship. Your only need is His” (T.15.V.5:1,2,5,6,7). Best wishes for a happy marriage.

Q #738: In your answer to Question #332, you quote two passages from the text of A Course in Miracles to demonstrate that the law of karma does not exist, because in this illusory world of space and time, past thoughts and actions can have no real bearing on the eternal present. How does this square with another oft-quoted passage from near the beginning of the text: “I have already indicated that you cannot ask me to release you from fear. I know it does not exist, but you do not. If I intervened between your thoughts and their results, I would be tampering with a basic law of cause and effect; the most fundamental law there is.” (T.2.VII.1:2,3,4)

A: Since you submitted your question, a couple of answers, Questions #514i and #577, have been posted that respond to the issue you raise (see also Question #363). But we will address your specific question briefly here and you can look at those other answers for further explanation.

The key is the temporal aspect of karma inherent in its law of cause and effect. The Course does not deny the law of cause and effect in the mind, outside of time and space. In fact, its whole teaching on forgiveness, with the contrast between choosing the ego and the Holy Spirit, is based on the premise that each decision has very different consequences (T.8.I.5:1,2) . Where the Course differs from the world's law of karma is in its assertion that cause and effect occur simultaneously (W.p.I.19.1:4) in the mind and do not require time to unfold in the world. The world in fact was made by the ego to interpolate an apparent delay between our thoughts and their effects, merely a deception to convince us that time, space, and the separation are real.

In the passage you cite, Jesus is emphasizing this point, that we are responsible for the effects of our decisions in our mind and he would be going counter to everything the Course is teaching if he were to intervene in our mind and take away the fear that is the immediate result of our choice for the ego. Jesus is not referring to anything that is happening in the world, where the law of karma operates, because from his perspective, the world is not real (W.pI.155.2:1) .

Q #739: Is knowledge in A Course in Miracles the same as, or similar to, “enlightenment” in Eastern mysticism? Is it instant and irreversible? And given that we appear to be bodies as a consequence of our separation from God, wouldn't the attainment of knowledge be incompatible with our continued existence as human beings?

A: The meaning of enlightenment varies in different mystical traditions; but for the most part, Eastern notions would be what the Course defines as “the real world” -- when the mind is totally healed of all sense separation and therefore of sin, guilt, and fear.

In A Course in Miracles knowledge belongs exclusively to the pre-separation world of God and His unified creation in which there are no differences or forms. It therefore has nothing to do with the world of perception. It refers only to the pure experience of non-duality, with no subject- object dichotomy. Strictly speaking, it is not a state we attain. Rather, we gradually come to recognize the means we have been using to deny our natural state of oneness with our Source. We realize the frightful cost of that, and then we choose against that denial. When we make that choice once and for all without reservation, we are simply choosing to be as God created us, One Son, perfectly united with God. Is this state incompatible with existence as a human being? Jesus answers that by stating: “If God were reached directly in sustained awareness, the body would not be long maintained” (M.26.3:8) . Those who have this awareness are the “Teachers of teachers,” so named “because, although they are no longer visible, their image can yet be called upon” (M.26.3:2). Thus, we need reflections of perfect love to appear to us in a form we can understand and relate to; and for most of us that is a human form.