Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 8/31/2005

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #791 Why do I experience such poor outcomes, if I try to make the right decisions?
Q #792 Doesn't the underlying unity revealed by modern physics imply the universe is not completely illusory?
Q #793 Can I, or should I, continue to love someone who does not love me in return?

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Q #791: As we live from day to day, our mind creates events that cover all possible outcomes to a situation that we are presented with. If the events are ego-based then the Holy Spirit “simultaneously” creates events that are diametrically opposed to what the ego has created. From all of these possibilities the decision maker then selects a particular event for us to experience. How is it that the decision maker can pick an event that does not bring us happiness? I have had many situations where I am faced with a decision and I decide that a particular scenario is what I want – yet it does not work out as I had imagined. I know A Course in Miracles says that we do not perceive our own best interest but in some situations it is not difficult to decide on a happy outcome but often, such is not the case.

A: I'm afraid the ego may have you hoodwinked! For the Course's explanation of how events seem to unfold and how choices are made in our lives is not quite as you have described it. And when you hear the Course's explanation, you may have a better understanding of why the outcomes you believe will make you happy do not always turn out as you expect.

First of all, a clarification of terminology. Jesus makes a distinction between creating and making (T.3.V.2) , reserving the term creating for the extending activity of the Father and the Son as spirit in Heaven. Creating in the Course has nothing to do with anything in the world of time and space. Making is used for the activity of the split mind, whether it comes from the ego or the Holy Spirit. The ego mind makes, or miscreates, the world and all the events of our seeming lives, and the Holy Spirit provides their correction (T.25.III.4:1,2,3; 5:1,2,3) .

The Course also teaches that time is not linear and that everything that can possibly happen has already happened all at once in the mind in that single, unholy instant, when the thought of separation was taken seriously (T.26.V.3) . And what we see as a fresh new event is simply a preexisting thought in the mind, waiting to be selected by the decision maker, projected outward, and re-experienced (W.pI.158.4; M.2.2,3) . And for every ego-based thought, predicated on the belief in separation and attack, the Holy Spirit holds the correction, which is not a specific event in response to the ego's error, but rather a different way of looking at the ego's error that basically says, “This is not real. Separation and attack have no reality.”

Now the story becomes interesting, as we uncover the ego's hidden motivation that explains why the events we choose so often result in outcomes that are other than the happy ones we have anticipated. The ego has made up its entire library of possible events as a smokescreen, to hide the underlying content they all share. And that content is the guilt over the thought of separation, which the ego says is ours for wanting to attack love and have something other than the perfect Oneness of Heaven.

The ego does not want us to see that, by choosing separation, we are excluding ourselves from love and have already made a choice for unhappiness and pain. The choice could not have any effect in reality (T.13.VIII.3:3,4,5) , but it seems to as a result of our dedicated belief in separation. Rather than allowing us to accept responsibility for the pain and unhappiness that come from choosing against love, the ego wants us to see the cause of our unhappiness as lying anywhere but in our own decision. And so the thought of separation was splintered into all the possible events of all the possible lives that could possibly be experienced by all the possible fragments of the split mind (T.18.I.4) . But their content is always some representation of limitation and loss and emptiness, because of their source. And so the ego's choices will always end up producing some sense of disappointment (T.13.VII.3) , which we will attribute to the external situation or condition, rather than to the thought of separation in our own mind. And that is exactly the ego's goal for the world, that we will think that the world is disappointing us -- we are its victim -- rather than recognizing that the feelings of unhappiness are coming from our own inner, hidden decision (T.27.VIII.7,8,10,11) .

So whenever we think we are a body with needs, who is unhappy in our present state, we are identifying in our mind with the ego's thought of separation. Then, whenever we think we know what needs to happen in the world outside of ourselves in order to have our needs met and be happy, we have simply reinforced unconsciously the thought in our mind that we are separate, which is by definition an unhappy thought. And so, as long as we leave ourselves in charge of the decision of determining what we need to be happy, we are doomed to failure (T.12.V.8:1,2,3,4,5) . Perhaps not always in the short run, for the ego is no fool, and knows that an intermittent schedule of reinforcement, such as the payoff for gambling, is the surest way to maintain a high level of participation. But the outcome eventually must be recognized as unhappiness, for the ego's “rewards” are always temporary, and down deep we always know that.

That is why Jesus invites us in the Course to give control of our thinking to him or the Holy Spirit ( e.g., T.2.VI.1) . And this does not mean that we are letting them choose the events of our lives. Rather, it means that we are willing to look at our belief in our present state of need through Their eyes, and realize that our sense of lack is not coming from anything that is truly missing either inside or outside of us, but rather is coming from a mistaken belief about ourselves (T.4.IV.3) . And it is this false belief that we need Their help in correcting, rather than the provision of something external to meet our perceived need. Once we make this shift to Their way of perceiving, we may in fact find external events shifting in such a way that we believe our happiness is resulting from getting what we think we want. But this is where we have to be especially vigilant, for this is nothing more than the ego's trick to bring us back into its thought system of lack and loss.

So when our choice for what we think we want in the world seems to disappoint us, it is only because we have surrendered our thinking once again to the ego's agenda. And that is always an unconscious choice for unhappiness, with the responsibility for that unhappiness projected outside our own mind onto external events over which we seem to have little or no control. And the good news, of course, is that our happiness does not depend on anything outside ourselves, but is always available to us simply by our own choice to change teachers in our mind (W.pI.64.1,2,4,5,6) .

The book A Vast Illusion by Kenneth Wapnick addresses many of these issues about the decision maker, choice and time in greater depth.

Q #792: A Course in Miracles ' non-dualistic metaphysics defines the physical universe and everything in it as illusory, a defense against the truth of Heaven's undifferentiated oneness. But if the physical universe is a defense, sharing none of the characteristics of Heaven, how then do we explain what physicists tell us about the interconnectedness of everything on the quantum level? Is this not exactly what the Course defines as Heaven? And does it not indeed exist in this world, even if you really have to squint to see it?

As I understand it, Jesus seems to be saying that he or the Holy Spirit can use the world of illusion for Their holy purpose. Nonetheless, inherently these defenses (the material world) are still illusory -- a big, fat lie -- and share nothing whatsoever in common with the truth as God created it. And yet we have physicists and a number of New Age teachers speaking about the perfect, undiluted oneness just below the surface of consciousness! If the “tiny, mad idea” projected a world of lies to disguise its hideous inward condition, why did it include a spark of truth?

A: There are a couple of things you may want to keep in mind. First of all, the ego is one, single, unitary, illusory thought, and no matter how much deceptive complexity it may try to impose on that one thought through seeming division and fragmentation, it remains one thought. Jesus makes this point in ‘The Substitute Reality:”

You who believe that God is fear made but one substitution. It has taken many forms, because it was the substitution of illusion for truth; of fragmentation for wholeness. It has become so splintered and subdivided and divided again, over and over, that it is now almost impossible to perceive it once was one, and still is what it was. That one error, which brought truth to illusion, infinity to time, and life to death, was all you ever made. Your whole world rests upon it. Everything you see reflects it, and every special relationship that you have ever made is part of it (T.18.I.4 ; italics added ) .

So complexity is an illusion, and everything in the seemingly vast physical universe comes from that single thought of separation and guilt. Despite the ego's frantic and furious efforts at disguise, its simple origins, which are so easily dismissed by the simple solution of the Atonement principle -- the separation never happened -- can never be completely concealed. The difference between the oneness of Heaven and the ego's oneness is that Heaven is truly one, while the ego is truly nothing. However, before we can recognize that the ego is nothing, we first have to look at the thought of sin and guilt that it insists it represents. But of course neither of these propositions for the universe's foundation -- sin and guilt, or nothingness -- is something that most quantum physicists or New Agers are considering. And it is not interconnectedness that defines Heaven, for interconnectedness still implies differentiable parts that may ultimately be connected at a deeper level. In Heaven, there are no differentiable parts.

The other point to remember is that the so-called physical universe exists within the split mind. And it's the split mind that retains the spark of truth, the memory of God's Love, and not the physical universe, since there is no physical universe. And that mind, when joined with the Holy Spirit -- the right mind which holds the memory of true oneness -- can see the ego illusion in a completely different light, and begin to see past the deceptive complexity it has attempted to impose on our perception.

Without a perspective such as the Course offers, which comes from completely outside the ego thought system, it will seem as if the simplicity of consciousness at the core of the universe is itself real. And yet it is only the split mind when it first fell asleep, before any of the diversionary fragmenting, that gave birth to consciousness, a single unitary ego state (T.3.IV.2:1,2) . Most spiritual paths, other than the Course, see consciousness, which necessarily implies the duality of a perceiver and a perceived, as real. We find that only the very highest teachings of such spiritual traditions as Hinduism see that even consciousness remains in the realm of duality and must therefore ultimately be illusory.

Q #793: I am dating someone who lost his wife in an accident twenty years ago. He then re- married and divorced after fifteen (unhappy) years of marriage. He says that since his first wife died, he has not loved another woman. I want him very much, but feel very uncomfortable being with someone who doesn't love me. According to A Course in Miracles , there is either love or fear. Since there is no love, I guess it is fear. I can understand where his fear comes from. My question is: what is the Course's advice for me. How can I feel good in this situation, and not take it personally. Am I supposed to love him unconditionally without expecting anything? How can I do it without being afraid of being left? Emotionally I feel worse now than I did before I met him and was not in any relationship.

A: Is it possible to love someone who does not love us in return and who does not provide the things we think we are looking for in a relationship? From the world's perspective, no, at least not without a feeling of sacrifice and loss, with anger and resentment buried beneath that, rising to the surface from time to time. And while the Course is leading us toward the possibility of that kind of love without conditions, it is not asking that of us now as its students. If we were capable of that kind of love, we would not need the Course, for our minds would already be healed and we would not be looking to anyone outside ourselves to meet our needs, including the need to be loved. We would know with certainty that the love is already there, present within our own mind.

Jesus knows we are not yet capable of that kind of love and so through his Course invites us to learn the lessons of forgiveness that will lead us to this kind of love. The lessons come to us in the context of our special relationships and do not depend, by the way, on whether we physically remain in the relationship or not. The Course's concern is not with what we do but with how we look at what we do. Relationships bring us up against the self-imposed limitations we've accepted to restrict our experience of love. But we seek to put the blame for any lack we feel on our relationship partners -- that's actually the ego's purpose for all of our relationships. Yet others are not the ones who make us feel deprived -- we are (T.4.IV.3:3) !

And so each relationship in which I find myself ready to judge the other for how I feel or for what I believe is lacking in me can be used for a different purpose. With the Holy Spirit's help, it can become the mirror that allows me to look deeply within my own mind to see the accusation I am holding against myself -- that I am the one who has limited love by putting my own needs above everything and everyone else. While I want to see the guilt in the other, there is nothing I can do about it. But once I see it within myself, I have a choice about whether I want to continue to make it real by keeping love away. If I am willing to let the love in by joining with Jesus in looking at my guilt, the self-accusation will disappear, replaced automatically by the experience of love. And from this place of perfect joining, I will recognize in my partner's fear of love that same need for healing that I have just recognized within myself. And from that place of wholeness within, there is nothing to be done but to let the love flow through me and encompass my partner as well as myself in the love that we are all already truly a part of. Whether he is willing to accept that love right now will not be my concern, for I will see the two of us in the same light of forgiveness and know that the outcome is certain, regardless of what our bodies may do.

A beautiful passage in the text describes this process : “Make way for love, which you did not create, but which you can extend. On earth this means forgive your brother, that the darkness may be lifted from your mind . When light has come to him through your forgiveness, he will not forget his savior, leaving him unsaved. For it was in your face he saw the light that he would keep beside him, as he walks through darkness to the everlasting light (T.29.III.4; italics added ).