Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 07/20/2005
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This week's questions/topics:
Q #766  I often awaken with ideas from the Course in my mind. Is this significant?
Q #767  Can I have the peace of God but still live in this world?
Q #768  Am I in my wrong mind if I take legal action against my ex-husband?
Q #769  Has anyone ever "returned" from an awakened condition ?

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Q #766: Lately I have been waking with thoughts, ideas or concepts from A Course in Miracles fresh in my awareness. For example: recently the thought has reoccurred that “He knows what you have made and can transform this from a dream of hate to one of peace.” It's not so much that I “hear” any kind of a voice but more that I have these thoughts with me as I wake up in the morning or during the night. It is probably impossible for you to determine what is going on here, but how do I know that this is not a trick of the ego or the intercession of Course principles in my right mind? There must be some level of the mind that the Course reaches/works with us on that does not require our conscious awareness or involvement, no? Could this be the “little willingness” that Jesus speaks of?

A: Although we are unable to comment on your individual experiences, we can say in general that it would not be unusual for ideas or passages from the Course to stay with people and just be there when they awake in the morning or at night. Other students have spoken of this and have also said that ideas sometimes just pop into their minds -- a kind of “hearing” -- while they are going about their daily activities, not even thinking of the Course. The processing of our study and practice is carried on largely, as you suggest, beneath the level of our conscious awareness; the contents of both the wrong and right minds are for the most part unconscious. Therefore, it would not be surprising that thoughts or words could seem to appear out of nowhere. Our “little willingness” to have Jesus be our teacher has mighty effects in our minds, of which we are mostly unaware.

It may take many, many years of diligent practice before we are able to discern consistently what is coming from our ego and what is from the Holy Spirit or Jesus. If what you hear helps you become more kind, forgiving, and less guilty and judgmental, then just leave it at that. What is most important is not to make it into a big deal, which would happen if you felt a need to run to other people and tell them what happened. This need could well be manifesting the attraction to spiritual specialness. That, of course, is different from asking a question, such as you have done here. This Course is about your relationship with Jesus or the Holy Spirit, and bringing your ego to that light and love in your mind. That is where the focus of every student should be. Your trust in the process will develop gradually.

Q #767:   I want my cake and eat it too! Can I live in this world and still have the peace of God? Can I keep this creation as a form of amusement?

A: Sorry, no. And the reason is simple: this is what got us into trouble in the first place. Having our cake and eating too is another way of saying separation can work, that we can have Heaven and hell, specialness and peace, individuality and God, wholeness and a split mind. What's more, even a fleeting look at the world tells us that is it not very amusing. It was made as an attack on God (W.pII.3.2:1) , and it shows: “Anything in this world that you believe is good and valuable and worth striving for can hurt you, and will do so . Not because it has the power to hurt, but just because you have denied it is but an illusion, and made it real. And it is real to you. It is not nothing. And through its perceived reality has entered all the world of sick illusions. (T.26.VI.1:1,2,3,4,5, italics ours). In a simple and clear statement in the text of A Course in Miracles , Jesus also tells us: “ It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain”(T.19.IV.B.12:1). However, in accord with the insanity of the ego's thought system, we have taught ourselves that there are pleasurable things in the world that are preferable to Heaven. The universally acclaimed favorite is specialness, which, in spite of causing us great misery and tribulation, we find superior to the Identity God gave us as His One Son. We have taken great pains (literally) to contrive ingenious ways of convincing ourselves that there is happiness in the illusion. What we actually find in the “beauty” of some aspects of nature and some personal relationships is the satisfaction of having our needs and expectations met, and living “proof” that the world is real. However beautiful these things and relationships may seem to be, their purpose is a vicious attack on God's Son, in that they have been chosen as a substitute for the Father's Love. By choosing to identify with the ego, and therefore with the body, we have turned away from His Love. This can only lead to deep pain, which is covered over by the endless pursuit of comfort and joy on the world's terms. It is endless because it does not satisfy the longing for our true Identity, which lies buried beneath the guilt for choosing the separation.

So it is a bitter cake we bake when we seek for meaning in the meaninglessness of the illusion. We do have it, we are eating it, and it has made us sick. We have done this, just as children who overdose on sugar, because we are confused about our identity, and therefore confused about pain and joy: “ What is joyful to you is painful to the ego, and as long as you are in doubt about what you are, you will be confused about joy and pain” (T.7.X.3:6). Our real “cake” is learning that we are minds, not bodies, that the world is not our home, and we will never be happy here. “Eating” it means accepting that we are God's innocent Son at home with Him.

Since Jesus knows we are afraid of this truth, he offers us great comfort: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition” (T.16.VI.8:1,2). Nothing in the process of learning is forced upon us, for no one truly learns under duress. Our healing, therefore, keeps pace with our fear. As fear decreases healing increases to whatever extent we are willing and never without our consent. The things we seek in the world, fear of losing them, and fear of accepting our truth all serve the same purpose of keeping us grounded in the belief that the separation is real. It is not a sin to eat and enjoy the ego's cake, but it will not bring us the happiness we seek. When tempted to indulge it may be helpful to remember that to turn to the Holy Spirit is an alternative that will not hurt: “The Holy Spirit will direct you only so as to avoid pain. Surely no one would object to this goal if he recognized it” (T.7.X.3:1,2) . The peace Jesus promises is not found in the world. It is the true peace found in the forgiving mind, that is not contingent upon our cakes.

Q #768: I have been advised by a magistrate and a lawyer to request that a psychological evaluation be done on my ex-husband because his anger over our divorce continues to escalate. We are not able to communicate regarding our daughter and have been through domestic violence court, and through several hearings where my ex-husband continues to try increase his visitation to the point where she would eventually live with him. In studying A Course in Miracles , I have learned to pray for myself, to recognize that we are all children of God, that there is a divine spirit within all of us, and yet I am fearful for myself and my daughter and my ex because of his volatile anger. Is taking legal action against him the right thing to do?

A: The teachings of A Course in Miracles are focused on changing our minds, and therefore do not provide specific guidelines for behavior. Although Jesus invites us to leave behind the ego's perspective and allow it to be replaced by the Holy Spirit's, he does not tell us to deny our experience on the level of form. We therefore take care of our bodies in the normal way, keeping them healthy and safe. This often means taking steps to keep someone from hurting themselves and/or others, which can sometimes be accomplished through legal action. It is certainly possible to practice forgiveness as the Course teaches while initiating legal proceedings, if that is what you think you should do. Since the foundation of the world is the belief in the ego's thought system of attack and counter-attack, everything and everyone in it engage in destructive behavior to some degree. That is the inevitable expression of the separated Son's desperate call for help. What we are asked to do is look at any judgments we may have toward the person, seeing in them the projection of our own desperate call for help. Once we recognize how our fears are mirrored in the other person, we have the opportunity to forgive ourselves, asking the Holy Spirit to replace our judgments against ourselves and our brother with His. This process establishes that whatever we do or don't do with regard to another's behavior will be guided by the Holy Spirit rather than by the ego. Taking legal action is appropriate in certain circumstances; it does not mean, however, that the other party is a guilty sinner, worthy of God's punishment, as the ego would have us believe. The choice is not what course of action to pursue, but whose counsel we seek: the ego's or the Holy Spirit's. In this light we may paraphrase the oft quoted line from the text : “seek not to change your brother, but choose to change your mind about your brother” (T.21.in.1:7).

Recognizing someone's volatile behavior as a call for help does not mean not paying attention to the form the call takes. This is true for everyone involved in your family's crisis. As Jesus tells us in the text: “…frightened people can be vicious” (T.3.I.4:2).    While steps are taken to protect yourself, your child, and your husband on the level of form, you may remember that these steps are the expression of your call to the Holy Spirit for help. It is important not to deny the fear that underlies the perceived need for protection, or any other need. What is not denied can be transformed by the Holy Spirit, so that whatever happens you will experience peace in your mind. It is to this peace, rather than any specific behavior, that the Holy Spirit guides us.

Q #769: A Course in Miracles states that all creations of us are protected by God “and kept for us” until we return (where we never left; i.e., when we wake up). My question is: i. Has anyone ever returned after they did?; ii. If the ego is but a branch of our Soul-tree then is it not protected as well, and all our attempts to counteract / undo it are all in vain? Should we pay attention to it, and thus give it “energy” and “reality”?

A: i. We do not have an answer to your first question, as there is no way of knowing this. Our creations are only in Heaven; they are the eternal extension of the Love shared by the Father and the Son, and are “protected” in the sense that they are eternal and can never be other than they are. This, of course, is not understandable to us in our separated state, as Jesus tells us in one place in the workbook: “Creation cannot even be conceived of in the world. It has no meaning here” (W.pI.192.3:1,2) . In the manual for teachers, however, he refers to “those who have reached God directly, retaining no trace of worldly limits and remembering their own Identity perfectly. These might be called the Teachers of teachers because, although they are no longer visible, their image can yet be called upon” (M.26.2:1,2) . Jesus also speaks of the “real world,” which is the state of mind reached by those with the clear awareness that the world and all bodily states are illusory. They no longer go back and forth between the ego thought system and the Holy Spirit's. These states, perhaps, are what you were referring to in your question.

ii. The Course does not speak of the ego as “a branch of our Soul-tree”; that is from a different spiritual system. The ego, in fact, is not even an entity. It is “nothing more than a part of your belief about yourself. . . . the part of the mind that believes your existence is defined by separation” (T.4.VI.1:6; T.4.VII.1:5) . Therefore “undoing the ego” simply means changing your mind about the ego's reality; you accept the truth that the separation from God is not real; it is totally illusory. When you accept the truth about yourself without any reservations -- namely, that “I am as God created me” -- then the ego just disappears: “This terrible mistake about yourself the miracle corrects as gently as a loving mother sings her child to rest” (C.2.8:2) . A miracle in the Course is this shift in our perception of who we are; it is the light that dispels the darkness of the ego, as Jesus explains in the clarification of terms: “Where there was darkness now we see the light. What is the ego? What the darkness was. Where is the ego? Where the darkness was. What is it now and where can it be found? Nothing and nowhere” (C.2.6:1,2,3,4,5,6,7) . Thus, we give reality to the ego only when we fear it, fight against it, or deny it. We need to pay attention to it only so that we can bring it out of the dark hiding place we provided for it and into the light of Jesus' love in our minds, where it simply is no more. That is why he emphasizes that the miracle “looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false” (W.pII.13.1:3) ; and in the text he also makes the point that the only way to get past the ego is to look at it with him: “No one can escape from illusions unless he looks at them, for not looking is the way they are protected. There is no need to shrink from illusions, for they cannot be dangerous. We are ready to look more closely at the ego's thought system because together we have the lamp that will dispel it . . .” (T.11.V.1:1,2,3) .