Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 12/28/2005

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #857 Which text chapters relate to which workbook lessons ?
Q #858 Please clarify what are ego thoughts.
Q #859 What is the name of God I am supposed to call upon?
Q #860 What is the fundamental error of quantum physics?

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Q #857: I am currently facilitating an ACIM group and was wondering if there is a guide available which relates chapters in the text to lessons in the student workbook! If there is, could you identify it, and /or let me know how to get one.

A: There really is no one-to-one correspondence between chapters and lessons. The structure of the text is more along the lines of a musical composition with themes, sub-themes, and variations rather than the more traditional text book with subject matter progressing in terms of difficulty and complexity. In that sense, the same ideas are developed in different ways depending on the context of the discussion. Therefore, sections, paragraphs, and even passages could apply to several lessons or parts of lessons.

We are preparing for publication (as of February 2005) an eight-volume commentary on the workbook -- lesson by lesson -- that includes references to the text, the manual for teachers, the two pamphlets (Psychotherapy and The Song of Prayer), and the poetry of Helen Schucman (The Gifts of God). This work is based on the transcript of our tape albums on the lessons in the workbook. This certainly would not be an exhaustive listing of all conceivable cross-references, but we hope it will help students of A Course in Miracles gain a more comprehensive grasp of its thought system and the means of implementing it in their daily lives.

Q: #858: You often refer to projection, that is, getting rid of what we do not want by assigning it to someone or something else. In actual fact there is no one out there so projection is just a term that is used to describe an activity of the mind where a fragment of "creation" is catalogued under a heading -- such as the ego. I assume the ego knows that time does not exist as the ego "creates" continuously and holographically to develop multiple responses which address all sorts of causes. We, in our illusory state as human beings, can then access and "live" any of these responses and we actually believe that what we are experiencing is actually happening for the first time. If, as the Course states, we are all one mind, then are my ego-based thoughts only accessible to me or can other minds also "live" my dream? I know that Heaven is the state where all minds are joined and sharing is natural, but what are ego thoughts?

A: We’ll address your points more or less in the order you present them:

Projection began ontologically with an attempt to place the made-up guilt over the separation outside of the one ego mind (T.7.VIII.4:2,3,4, T.13.II.1:1). Since nothing or no one else existed as a separate entity outside the ego mind, we as the one Son needed to make up something separate to become the repository of that guilt. And so we split the one guilty self we had identified with into a separate guilty self, called "God", and an "innocent" self with which we continued to identify (see Question #853 for further discussion of this split). This basic dynamic involving a made-up self and a made-up other has been the basis for all further projection, which becomes increasingly complex once the shattering of the ego mind into billions of fragments is undertaken as a defense against the made-up angry God in the split mind. But simply stated, projection is nothing more than a defense to avoid taking responsibility for our own ego thoughts (T.6.II.1,2). To make the distinction clear between reality and illusion, the Course refers to anything that seems to result from our activity with the ego as a miscreation (e.g., T.2.II.2:5; T.2.VII.3:13,14,15).

Although for teaching purposes the Course speaks of the ego as if it were a separate entity that knows and does things, it is really nothing more than an illusory thought system or set of beliefs that our split mind activates when we want to believe the separation from God is real (T.4.VI.1). Time and space are among the concepts of this illusory set of beliefs (T.26.VIII.1:3). At some level, we know that none of this is true, but we have deliberately decided to deceive ourselves to maintain our individual existence. Ego thoughts are nothing. Our seeming lives are based on reviewing and identifying with aspects of these ego thoughts, and while we review them, we have a choice of teachers, or thought systems, to guide our interpretation of what we are reviewing. The only real value in examining them is to come to a recognition of their ultimate meaninglessness. But while we believe ego thoughts are real, we can seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit or Jesus rather than the ego, enabling us to use them to undo rather than reinforce our belief in their reality.

In principle, there is no reason any of the seeming bits of separate consciousness that we each identify with could not experience the whole of the ego hologram, except that we have set it up so that we each seem to have our own isolated experiences and perceptions to maintain the reality of separation and individuality. So-called psychic experiences often represent the ability to step beyond these self-imposed barriers within the ego mind. So, for example, some psychics report experiencing what other seemingly separate minds have experienced or are experiencing, as if they were living it themselves. We see this as unusual, but from the perspective of the Course’s metaphysical teachings, there should be nothing surprising about it. The psychic ability in itself is neutral, its helpfulness dependent only on what purpose it serves (M.25) -- guilt and separation or forgiveness and joining, the latter a reflection of the state of Heaven you refer to, where all that is shared is love, for there is nothing else.

Q #859: Lesson 183 asks that we call upon God's Name, and to repeat His Name while sitting silently. I need to have a Name to do this lesson.

A: It is not unintentional that God’s Name does not appear anywhere in this lesson, although we are asked to call upon It repeatedly. This helps us realize something we don’t want to miss about Jesus’ teaching: everything in the world of specifics symbolizes in some way the content we have chosen to identify with in our minds, which is either that of the ego’s thought system or the Holy Spirit’s thought system. Applied to this lesson, this means that to call upon God’s Name or to repeat His Name means to call upon the thought system that reflects His Love. And for us as students of A Course in Miracles, that love is symbolized in Jesus. Speaking in the third person in the manual, Jesus discusses calling on his name: "The name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol. But it stands for love that is not of this world. It is a symbol that is safely used as a replacement for the many names of all the gods to which you pray. It becomes the shining symbol for the Word of God, so close to what it stands for that the little space between the two is lost, the moment that the name is called to mind" (M.23.4:1,2,3,4).

So calling upon God’s Name shifts our perspective from specialness, specifics, and the offerings and demands of the world, to the perception of our shared interests and our oneness as God’s Son -- and that everything other than this is of no worth or meaning.

Jesus does not want us to turn our calling upon God’s Name into a ritual or magical incantation of some kind, or to use it as a mantra or a formula for success. Set in the context of the entire Course, "calling on God’s Name" could have no meaning other than to be a means of helping us bring everything of our egos to the loving presence in our minds, beyond the world and the body, and back to our selfless identity as expressions of that Love.

Q #860: My question comes from two sentences in chapter two of A Course in Miracles.

"There are no idle thoughts. All thinking produces form at some level." (T.2.VI.9.13,14).

And this seems to coincide with what quantum physics is saying. However I have also heard Ken say the following: "Everything that this world teaches is false. And even what the new quantum physicists are teaching. The quantum physicists end up falling into the same trap. Because they say that the material world is an illusion, but the thought that underlies it is real. Well the thought that underlies the material world is separation. So that thought is illusory as well."

Could you explain the above quotation, and how it relates.

A: Once we have made the separation real in our minds, there are certain things that inevitably follow, among them the fact that whatever thoughts we entertain will have consequences. The entire fragmented world we see and the separate, individual selves we believe we are have followed from the tiny, mad idea of separation in a deliberate progression, serving a very specific purpose to maintain the reality of the separation in our mind. However, since the initial premise is unreal, everything that follows from it can not be real either. We may experience it all as real, but according to the Course, only the Oneness of Heaven, the unified Mind of the Father and the Son, in which no division or difference exists, is real. And since Heaven is formlessness (e.g., W.pI.186.14; C.6.5:8), it is apparent that the above lines from the Course can only be referring to the illusory split mind -- all thinking produces form at some level within the split mind.

The Course is helping us understand the laws of mind that we believe we operate under, but only so that we can come to recognize their painful consequences and in the end choose against the basic premise of separation, from which everything else has followed. Jesus knows that once we truly understand the starting point for the thought system of separation, we will no longer want to keep it real in our thinking.

Quantum physics, in contrast, while uncovering some of the operating principles of the split mind, and recognizing that the material world is really a projection of thought, is still entrenched in the thought system of separation. And so, from within that limited and limiting perspective, this approach would have little if any inclination to consider whether the thought that provides the impetus for manifestation in form is any more real than its illusory projections. Impressed with the world -- what the Course would regard as our ingenious and complex illusory miscreation -- these theorists, if they offer any metaphysical speculations, are more likely to believe they are getting glimpses into the mind of the Creator God, with whom we are then co-creators. And so, the likely outcome is that, rather than seeking to awaken from the illusory dream, we will seek to master ways of "co-creating" that can bring about a world which we believe will be more to our liking. And the ego is still safe and protected, for we have not uncovered the thought of attack always implicit in any thought of separation (T.5V.2:8,9,10; T.11.V.13:4,5,6; T.15.V.2:5,6,7; W.pI.56.5:2).