Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 03/29/2006
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This week's questions/topics:
Q #905 Should I feel guilty about being assertive ?
Q #906 How do I release a problem if I feel it was of my own making ?
Q #907 Is there a loving way to tell an "ex" that you do not want contact with him/her?
Q #908 How can we avoid being part of another person's negative thoughts?
Q #909 What do you think of other materials claiming to be the "channeled" Jesus?
Q #910 Am I on the right track if I realise I hate everybody?
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Q #905: For years my husband has expressed uneasiness about my assertive personality. As a student of A Course in Miracles , I've asked the Holy Spirit to help me look at my feelings about this issue. This process has made me more accepting of myself and less concerned about other people's opinions. But recently I had to make some difficult business decisions. My decisions seemed to make my business partners uneasy (my husband is one of my business partners). Now I sense that they're all judging me for being overly assertive. I'm having tremendous guilt about this and am not sure how to deal with it.
A: Since all of us who think we are here have chosen to drown out God's Voice and listen to our own instead, you might say that we all have overly assertive personalities. The Course teaches us that the one cause of all our guilt is the decision to see ourselves as separate from God's Love. Further the Course states, “As long as you believe that guilt is justified in any way…you will not look within, where you would always find Atonement. The end of guilt will never come as long as you believe there is a reason for it.” (T.13.X.6:1,2).
In other words, our ego continually makes up reasons for our guilt in order to make sure we never recognize that the guilt itself is made up and that our minds have the power to let it go. So whenever we think that our guilt comes from something we have said or done, we have (once again) been tricked by the ego's smokescreen. Remember too that the ego doesn't care whether we see others or ourselves as guilty. The ego is happy as long as we believe that guilt is real and remain focused on the effect our ego has on other egos.
As a Course student, you probably realize that the judgments of your husband or your business partners would not be causing you guilt if you had not first accused yourself of something. The fact that your recent business decisions triggered your guilt is undoubtedly because, at some point in the process, you saw your interests as separate from others. Thus your decisions (whether you feel you made “the right” decisions or not) have become symbols in your mind for the original decision to see your interests as separate from God's. Therefore in your thinking, your decisions now equal attack.
The Course doesn't give us any guidelines for behavior -- you may or may not, for example, be assertive as the world judges it. But the Course does make clear that we are always listening to either the voice of the ego or the Holy Spirit. So the way to “deal with” guilt is to ask the Holy Spirit for help before we make decisions or take actions (and of course, recognize that our ego- driven actions of the past were merely mistakes calling for correction not punishment). As we learn more and more to join with Jesus or the Holy Spirit in our mind, the choices we make will increasingly reflect God's all-inclusive Love. When our actions become reflections of love rather than symbols of attack, our guilt will automatically disappear.
Q #906: I have been a Course student for many years. I know to turn problems over to the Holy Spirit in my mind and to ask the Holy Spirit to change my mind about the problem rather than change the form of the problem. But I am having a challenge with releasing a perceived problem that I created. How do I let it go if I feel responsible for it? I am truly tired of playing this game.
A: It is very common for Course students who have understood intellectually that guilt is not real and recognized how guilty they feel, to develop guilt about feeling guilty. This is just another clever ploy of the ego to insure it remains intact and in control. As A Course in Miracles says, “The ego seeks to 'resolve' its problems, not at their source, but where they were not made. And thus it seeks to guarantee there will be no solution.” (T.17.III.6:1,2)
You don't want to deny your guilt, let it go, or make it go away. You simply want to observe it. Watching the ego's vicious judgment without judgment is the way to learn that you are not the ego and thus not guilty. Remember, no matter how long you study the Course or how often you ask the Holy Spirit for help, your ego does not change. It is the voice of guilt and will always seek to convince you that your guilt is real and justified. What does change is your ability to take the ego's voice less seriously and to listen to the Holy Spirit instead (which is, after all, the one thing the Son of God needed to do in the original instant when the tiny mad idea occurred).
So again, don't despair about having feelings of guilt; just watch them. Eventually when the ego screams at you (yet again) that you've made an awful mess and should feel good and guilty about it, you'll be able to just gently smile at your ego as you think, “There it goes again.”
When you truly look with the Holy Spirit's Love at whatever problem you feel responsible for, you'll think something like, “Well of course I did that silly thing, that's what egos do.” In that place of love, you'll understand the fear that must have caused your ego to act up and you'll automatically know what words to say or actions to take (if any) to bring a loving resolution to the perceived problem.
Q #907: Recently I ended my relationship with my boyfriend based upon his lying about his drug addiction problem for the third time. Now he says he would like to make contact again. I love him as my brother in this world and I honor the lessons he showed me; I learned some very valuable things; but is it still loving and forgiving to not want any physical, verbal, or electronic contact with him, since I know he still has his drug addiction problem and I know it is his way of calling for love? In my mind I honor him for who he is and still practice seeing him and myself as a holy innocent child of God every time my ego seeks some kind of justification or revenge. What is the best and highest and most loving way to say that I do not want any contact? I just want to do what is best for the both of us; and is it true that sometimes the most loving thing to do is to just end it all and walk away and say no?
A: There is nothing in A Course in Miracles , as you know, that would tell you what you should do behaviorally -- to stay or to leave. Its focus is always on the content: whether your thinking reflects the ego's principles or the Holy Spirit's principles. One principle that is frequently misapplied -- with sometimes tragic results -- is the idea that a person is either expressing love or calling for love. While it is true that destructive behavior is a ultimately a call for love, nothing automatically follows from that in terms of behavior. For instance, just because a pedophile is “calling for love,” does not mean that you allow him to take care of your children if he asks you to. But you can say “no” without separating yourself from him on the level of content -- you can realize that you both are calling for love and are joined in that respect. Don't confuse form with content. From that place of non-judgment you will know what to say. This is essentially how Jesus replied to Helen's questioning him about what she should say to people; he said to her, “ask instead, ‘Help me to see this brother through the eyes of truth and not of judgment'” ( Absence from Felicity , p. 381).
Staying in the relationship thus can be a right-minded decision, just as leaving the relationship can be a right-minded decision. Your seeing this man as a “holy innocent child of God” is independent of the form of the relationship; and, again, from within your quiet center, the Holy Spirit will gently guide you to the most loving response in form.
Q #908: How can we stop ourselves from becoming part of other people's negative thoughts? For example, sometimes I see someone and get flooded with nervousness and an inability to speak in a normal way. I'm sure that some people use their mind to create negativity, like I do to create positive effects. I don't hold it against them, though I try my best to show them that I am not this negativity intentionally, so that, hopefully, they may experience less guilt.
A: The guilt in our minds always leaves us with a feeling that bad things are going to happen to us; and so certain situations will trigger a reaction such as the one you describe. If your mind were healed of its guilt, then no matter how powerful the other person's negativity might be, it could never have any effect on you. Your inner peace -- which guilt conceals -- would not be disturbed in any way. By siding with the ego thought system of sin, guilt, and fear, we make ourselves vulnerable -- we make ourselves mindless, which is the ego's goal. We then think we are at the mercy of people and forces beyond our control, forgetting completely -- and intentionally -- that it was our own decision that led us to that self-concept.
There is a helpful discussion of this mistake in the section in the text of A Course in Miracles called “The Responsibility for Sight” (T.21.II) . There Jesus helps us realize that we are responsible for how we interpret external events and situations, meaning we do not have to see ourselves as victimized. We do not cause others to behave badly, nor do we cause catastrophes; but we are responsible for the way we react to these externals. This is why the early lessons in the workbook focus so heavily on training us to recognize that the outer and the inner are the same. Our reactions always come from a prior decision we have made in our minds to uphold the thought system of guilt or the thought system of guiltlessness. Jesus is asking us to let him help us to look at our guilt and then to let it go. What other people think and do, then, would have no effect on our state of mind. In Lesson 70, “My salvation comes from me,” Jesus summarizes this by saying, “The seeming cost of accepting today's idea is this: It means that nothing outside yourself can save you; nothing outside yourself can give you peace. But it also means that nothing outside yourself can hurt you, or disturb your peace or upset you in any way” (W.pI.70.2:1,2).
Q #909: What do you think of those (many) other sources that claim to have channeled the words of Jesus Christ these days? Some of them seem to be authentic, though very often less complicated in its use of language, albeit less poetic in tone than A Course in Miracles . I found that some material seems to channel an "authentic" Jesus Christ.
A: Since everything here can be thought of as a symbol, the only concern is whether the channeled material symbolizes hatred or love. A Course in Miracles says of itself, as you know, that it is only one among many thousands of forms of the universal course (M.1.4:1,2) . There are any number of ways in which our minds can be healed of the belief that we are separate from God and therefore sinners deserving of punishment. So the question is whether the message coming through is loving and helpful in this regard. We can easily delude ourselves into thinking a system of belief is loving when it really isn't; and so a helpful guideline to follow in evaluating any thought system or course of action is that love, compassion, and forgiveness are always all-inclusive. To exclude anyone (content, not form) from your love, compassion, or forgiveness is never loving.
Q #910: I seem to be at a place where I now recognize that I hate everyone -- that my special love relationships are really special hate. So, now I "see everyone the same." Am I on the right track?
A: A Course in Miracles tells us that relationships are really bargains we make with others to get them to fill a lack we perceive in ourselves. When we think another is meeting our needs, we experience special love. When we feel someone has failed to meet our needs, we experience special hate. But underneath, as long as we perceive others as separate from us, different from us, and in possession of something we want but don't have, we must secretly hate them. Further, because our sense of lack really comes from our believed separation from God (and the guilt that it engenders), no one can actually meet our needs. Thus, eventually everyone must fail to live up to our expectations and, at times even on a conscious level, become the object of our hate (which can look like anger, disappointment, and a number of other emotions).
If your work with the Course has helped you realize that you are playing the same game in every relationship, then in a sense, you are on the right track. However, it is important to make a distinction between recognizing that you are doing the same thing with everyone, versus actually seeing everyone as the same. You may be feeling the same hate for all of them. But again, that hate comes from the belief that they are separate and therefore different from you.
When Jesus speaks in the Course of "seeing them all the same," he really means recognizing that you and all your brothers share the same single need -- the need to awaken and remember that we aren't separate and haven't killed, or left God's Love. He is trying to remind us that we are all the same in the insanity of the ego and in the sanity of the Holy Spirit. We are all guilty within the dream, but innocent in the reality of Heaven. And finally, we are all equally capable of calling upon the Teacher within us who will help us awaken to that reality.
So when we truly see everyone as the same, there will be no hate. The only way to get there is to observe without judgment (by calling upon the Holy Spirit's help) as our ego plays the same awful games again and again. At some point we'll realize that the hate we feel for others isn't about them at all. It's merely a defense our ego invented to keep itself going. When we understand that projecting our hate only keeps us miserable, we'll be several steps closer to reuniting with the Love of God in our mind -- the one and only thing that can truly fill our imagined lack. Filled with that Love, with no sense of lack, we'll know that the differences our bodies perceive mean nothing.
For further discussion about special relationships, see Questions #191 and #377.