Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 12/07/2005

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #846 How do I use forgiveness to help my marital difficulties?
Q #847 Is the soul a unit of Christ?
Q #848 Is understanding the Course dependent on a certain level of evolution?
Q #849 Is the mind in the body, or vice-versa?

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Q #846: Can you please advise me how to look at the darkness with Jesus or the Holy Spirit? Sometimes my ego wants me to feel inferior or worthless, especially when my wife is telling me that she thinks I am a cheat, a sneak, a thief, a hypocrite etc. A part of me tells me she is right because I love someone who can't love me and uses me for her own needs. I need to forgive both women and myself.

A: A Course in Miracles teaches that the way we look at the darkness with Jesus or the Holy Spirit is through the process of forgiveness. This means recognizing the real source of the problem (the mind) so it can be healed. The attack against the Self originated in the mind when it chose separation and identified with the ego. It was then intensified when the mind chose to forget the choice it made for separation, thus refusing to take responsibility for it and projecting blame onto persons, things and situations external to itself. The result is profound guilt, and feelings of being a cheat, thief and hypocrite, as well as having been cheated, robbed and deceived. These feelings are then projected out and experienced in some form, such as the situation you describe. In this activity of the mind lies the source of every conflict in the world, as well as in our personal lives. Looking at the darkness with Jesus through forgiveness begins with a little willingness to accept that this is true, and that we are wrong about our interpretation of every situation. We need not strive to see innocence, beauty or light in others. Rather, we walk in forgiveness by seeing the layers of judgment we have used to cover the innocence, beauty and light that is theirs and ours. It is our denial of these judgments that keeps them in place and casts a shadow on the light preventing us from seeing the Christ in anyone including ourselves, which accounts for feelings of unworthiness and inferiority.

Although these feelings have their real source in the choice for separation outlined above, they find their justification in the dream in some specific form, such as the extramarital affair you describe. The specific circumstances provide the opportunity to be both victim and victimizer, thus accomplishing the true goal of the special relationship, in which guilt is projected, defended and justified. This is certainly not what the goal seems to be, but it is what the teaching of the Course reveals is the true nature of all of our relationships. Every special relationship also serves as the means for satisfying the seemingly endless needs that arise from the deep sense of lack the separation thought evokes. Practicing forgiveness means seeing these hidden dynamics for what they are: the ego's dance of guilt and specialness underlying all the feelings you describe. This is the first step in bringing the ego's darkness to the light of forgiveness. It has nothing to do with changing behavior. The miracle/forgiveness is seeing differently; in other words, a shift in perception. The shift is from the body/behavior to the mind/thought. The following passage from the manual expresses both the simplicity of the process and its “difficulty” due to our identification with the body: “ What is the single requisite for this shift in perception? It is simply this; the recognition that sickness is of the mind, and has nothing to do with the body… For with this recognition is responsibility placed where it belongs; not with the world, but on him who looks on the world and sees it as it is not. He looks on what he chooses to see. No more and no less. The world does nothing to him. He only thought it did” (M.5.11.3:1,2,5,6,7,8,9). The term “body” refers not only to the physical body but the psychological and emotional body as well. “World” includes everything we believe makes up the world of bodies, such as relationships. A careful reading of the passage tells us that what you are feeling has nothing to do with the women in your life, nor with the nature of your relationships with them. The feelings and judgments come from a choice in the mind to identify with the ego which precedes the experience of the relationships. Willingness to recognize this and accept responsibility for the choice brings the cause back to the mind where Jesus and the Holy Spirit abide as symbols of the part of the mind that does not identify with the ego/body. It is then possible to hear Their voice guiding all relationships in keeping with our oneness rather than specialness. The only thing required at this point is not to interfere with judgments about what or who is right or wrong, or how to see or feel differently. Jesus gives us clear instructions and a beautiful prayer to help us in our process: “Keep but one thought in mind and do not lose sight of it, however tempted you may be to judge any situation, and to determine your response by judging it. Focus your mind only on this:

  I am not alone, and I would not intrude the past upon my Guest.
  I have invited Him, and He is here.
  I need do nothing except not to interfere ” (T.16 . I.3:8,9,10,11,12).

Q #847: Is the soul a unit of Christ?

A: A Course in Miracles does not use the term soul except in reference to the Bible: “The term “soul” is not used except in direct biblical quotations… It would, however, be an equivalent of “spirit,” with the understanding that, being of God, it is eternal and was never born” (C.1.3:2,3). The Course also uses the term mind to refer to the true Identity of God's Son. In this Mind, God and His Son, Who is the Christ, are one: “Christ is the Son of God Who is in no way separate from His Father, Whose every thought is as loving as the Thought of His Father by which He was created (T.11.VIII.9:4).

We are taught in the Course that the dream of separation began when : “Into eternity [the eternal mind] , where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea [separation] , at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh” (T.27.VIII.6:2). When the thought of separation is taken seriously, the Son falls asleep and dreams a dream of separation in which there seem to be individual fragments of the one Son. This split off part of the mind, which seems to have a separate existence, could be considered a “unit of Christ.” In reality Christ is a whole that cannot be split into separate units. By choosing to identify with the thought of separation, however, the wholeness of the Identity of Christ is “forgotten,” but it is not shattered. Thus, while part of the mind sleeps and dreams it is a body, there is a part that does remember the truth.

Meanwhile, each seeming “unit” is responsible for recognizing the choice the mind makes to remain asleep when it chooses to identify with the body in the dream of separation. By teaching us that we pay a heavy price for this choice (losing awareness of our true Identity as Christ), Jesus motivates us to learn to make another choice. This is learned gradually through the practice of forgiveness, whereby we learn to see in every experience in the dream the reflection of the mind's choice to identify with separation (the ego) or with truth (the Holy Spirit).

When a final choice is made to identify only with the Holy Spirit, separation will be forgotten and the wholeness of Christ will be remembered. This will occur when every illusion has been forgiven, and every belief that there is something outside of oneness is relinquished. In this awakening the dream will end, and the wholeness of Christ will be restored to awareness.

Q #848: Our belief in time, within the ego framework of separation, means that we experience an unfolding not just of our own lives, but also of a whole historical process, making us appear to be dependent on the achievements and failures of our forebears. While teaching that time does not exist in the Mind of God (and therefore does not exist at all), the Course nevertheless inserts itself into the historical, i.e., temporal, sequence – illustrated by the fact, which you have pointed out before, that the “psychological approach” of the Course is “heavily based on Freud's insights into the human psyche.” The point is made even more explicitly in one of the Lighthouse articles, which asks, “Why this insane fear of the truth?” And answers: “It is one of A Course in Miracles' important contributions to world spirituality that it supplies the answer in a way that Saint Paul's famous problem, for example, was never really answered – an answer, incidentally, that was incapable of being understood or accepted in a pre-Freudian age." Doesn't this suggest that human consciousness evolves through history, and that the message from eternity that is A Course in Miracles is in some way dependent on that evolution?

A: While believing we are in time, we will necessarily use the symbols of time, both to assist us in understanding relationships that are not truly temporally linear, but from our perspective seem to unfold in some logical sequence across time, and to communicate to others who have no reason yet to even question the reality of time and space (W.pI.184.9) . But it would be a mistake to give explanations based on time any more reality than we give to any other aspect of   the ego thought system. Time is an illusory conceptual filter through which we process shifts in our understanding that happen in the mind outside of time and space, while we still want to believe the world and our individual selves are real.

If we consider that there truly is no linear time and everything that can possibly happen within the world of time and space all exists simultaneously in the mind as potential experience that is already over (T.26.V.3) , then we can begin to grasp that there can be no truly causal relationship between events “in time.” If we consider the mind as holographic, then any moment in time simply represents the totality of thoughts that we are choosing to allow into our awareness at that one moment. And each moment in time as our ego mind has set it up seems to contain memories of what has come before, an experience of what is happening now, and thoughts and musings about what may happen in the future. But these distinctions are simply tricks of the ego mind to make sin, guilt and fear seem to have a multidimensional reality as past, present and future (Kenneth Wapnick's audiotape, From Time to Timelessness , elaborates on this translation from the concepts of the ego mind to the seeming external reality of the world of time and space). For sin rests on a belief in a past that is already over, that cannot be undone, that is having consequences in the present, with the certainty of an even worse hell off in the future (T.15.I.6) . And yet it is only the choice in the present moment in the mind that makes any of this seem real to us, and that is a choice that can just as easily be undone in the present by asking for a different Teacher in our mind (T.15.I8.9) .

To return to the specific issues raised in your question in light of this understanding of the holographic, nontemporal, nonspatial nature of the mind -- there is a moment experienced in time that includes the thought that there was a distant past when Jesus walked the earth, and also the thought of a less distant past when Freud elaborated his understanding of the nature of the mind, including its defenses of denial and projection. But these events do not exist in the past as causal antecedents to the present day Course, but are only thoughts we hold in our mind now to explain in a less fearful way in time how we seem to be coming to an understanding of the principles of forgiveness that are reflected in the Course.

Jesus remains always outside of time and space, offering   the correction for the ego thought system, but we interpose conceptual filters, including time, between ourselves and his message of pure love, to keep him and his love at a safe distance. The hologram of the mind may just as likely contain a thought of a present moment that includes a recent past in which Jesus has explained everything we need to know about our blocks to his love and we have willingly embraced his teaching, forgiving all our brothers and accepting the Atonement for ourselves, without the thought of a distant past with a crucified Jesus, without the thought of a more recent past with the brilliant insights of a Sigmund Freud, and without the thought of a book called A Course in Miracles . Salvation does not depend on anything that happens in time! It only depends on our willingness to look at and let go of the blocks to the awareness of love's presence that we continue to cling to in our minds right now. And the forms in which we may choose to experience that only reflect the symbols that are personally most meaningful for us in our undoing process right now, and nothing more (M.2.3) .

Kenneth Wapnick's book, A Vast Illusion , provides a much more extensive discussion of the nature and uses of time, from the perspective of both of the teachers in our mind.

Q #849: In The Most Commonly Asked Questions about A Course in Miracle , it is said in several different places that the mind is never in the body, and that it is impossible to answer "where it is." This is very confusing to me. Does the mind not temporarily reside in a body while it is animated (alive) and where our lessons are being learned? Is it not the mind that animates a body? Isn't the life force and the mind one and the same? If not, WHAT animates a body for a while until its demise? Is it not the mind which chooses to inhabit a body for learning purposes?

I once had an experience during which my mind (or was it my consciousness?) seemingly left the body and merged with what felt like the All, where I felt whole, and no more questions were needed. I no longer felt like an "I" but an indescribable sense of "neutrality," like nothing and everything at once. What was that? Did this have anything to do with the mind?

A: The body is simply an illusory projection of the mind, but it remains a thought within the mind, animated by the mind's desire for that thought to appear alive, just as in a dream ( e.g., T.27.VIII.1:1,2; W.pII.5.3:1) . In fact, the parallel with our night dreams can be very enlightening. When you dream at night, does your mind inhabit the body of the figure you think you are while you are dreaming? No, the dream figure is simply a thought playing out across the mind's screen, as long as your mind chooses to continue to sleep and dream. The body of the dream figure is not alive, it only seems to be alive and real while you continue to dream (T.27.VIII.4) . Upon awakening, it vanishes, as if it never existed at all, although it may be held in your memory, perhaps for only a fleeting moment. Jesus is telling us that our waking “life” is as much a dream as our sleeping dreams, and the self we think we are as much an imaginary figure as the self in our sleeping dreams, existing only in our mind (T.10.I.2; T.18.II.5) . Granted that may not be our experience, but neither is it our experience while we are dreaming at night, believing we are that figure in our dream.

What is experienced as an out-of-body experience, such as the one you describe, using the dream metaphor again, would be akin to some glimmering recognition while you are still dreaming that you are not a figure in the dream but are the mind (or consciousness - they are the same) that is dreaming the entire dream, that everything within the dream is your projection and thus you are identified with the whole rather than with any of the seeming fragments within the dream that have their own seeming separate interests, in conflict with the other fragments and forces within the dream (T.28.II.7:1,2,3,4) . And so, identified with the dreamer and its total projection rather than any figures within the projection, there can be no questions or needs, replaced instead by a sense of neutrality or peace, for there are no sides to be taken. This whole remains as a symbol within the split mind, but if it is not being used as a defense against the guilt in the mind, it can symbolize the wholeness that is our true reality beyond the split mind.