Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 05/31/2006
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Q #944 What is the best course of action for me, feeling guilt, anger, and depression?.
Q #945 I seem to experience guidance. Where is it coming from?
Q #946 If we don't exist, how can we collectively do anything?
Q #947 I want peace and joy, but I also want money. How do I reconcile them ?
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Q #944: I am a recent student of A Course of Miracles and I had to end a relationship with a man because I found him always pulling away from me. Since then I have found myself in a deep depression which has been so intense I have had to put away the Course until I am more stable. Unfortunately, my family is currently in crisis. My eldest sister is suicidal and far more entrenched in depression than I am. She is living with my parents, getting a divorce, has no income, and has lost custody of her kids. At the same time, my father recently had a stroke and is being hospitalized.
About a month ago, I was at my parents' house when my sister made another suicide attempt. I was the one who pulled the plastic bag off her head. I realized that this incident with my sister that day only weakened my own mental state -- and I went home virtually unable to leave my bed. Since then I decided it was urgent to stay clear of anxiety-provoking situations in order to build my strength up and pull out of this depression. This means I have not paid a visit to the hospital to see my father or taken calls from my mother regarding issues around my sister or father. Right now -- as I write this, the phone keeps ringing. The first call was my sister asking desperately for my help; the second is my mother. I hear the call for help, but I know it is not in my interest to answer it. I feel guilt, anger, and powerlessness.
My mental clarity is not all that it should be. Can you please help me with how to approach this situation given the principles of the Course.
A: Given all the difficult situations you are presently dealing with, it's not surprising that you're feeling guilty, angry, and powerless. Few people in your situation would be feeling any differently. Good for you for recognizing your feelings and being honest about them. Getting us to look at what's really going on inside ourselves and to be honest about the ego is one of the fundamental goals of A Course in Miracles . Only by being honest about the ego can we get past it to the truth.
Putting the Course away until you feel more stable sounds like a good decision. Right now you need to do whatever you feel will support you through your depression and family crises. Please remember that from Jesus' perspective, it doesn't matter whether you derive comfort from studying his course, talking to a therapist, watching a sunset, or taking a pill. So seek whatever help you need to get through this difficult time.
The main message of the Course is that we are not guilty. We just mistakenly think that we are, and have made up a world that seems to reinforce this belief. One of the ways our made up world does this is by constantly providing us with difficult situations that tempt us to feel guilty and miserable. Ultimately, the Course would have us recognize that our guilt and misery are just defenses that keep us from the Love of God, which is also in our mind.
Many of us studying the Course however, get caught by inadvertently using it to reinforce our guilt. First we learn that we made up this world and scripted all the events in our lives (though we did this on the level of the mind of God's one Son who fell asleep, not as the individual whom we now seem to be). Then we begin to feel guilty about feeling guilty, or having special relationships, or judging family members when we should be "hearing their call for love."
This is a cruel thing to do to ourselves and is the last thing Jesus would want. He knows that if we were able to not judge, have holy relationships, and only perceive love in our brothers, we wouldn't be here. He seeks only to help us remember that all the painful situations we encounter here can serve to teach us that there is another way (and ultimately to remind us that in fact, we are not the individual -- separate, lonely, and scared -- with whom we have become fully identified).
All we really need to do to apply the Course to any situation we're in is to continue doing what we do, but ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit in our mind to help us watch ourselves as we do it. That means letting ourselves be crazy, angry, sad, and so forth and neither judging nor justifying what we feel and do. If we are able to do this, ultimately, we will see our own underlying fear and call for love. And we'll feel the compassion of the loving presence in our mind that isn't judging us. Filled with that love, we'll be able to ask the Holy Spirit what is the loving response to any situation we encounter.
So, as you look upon your own grief and the suffering of your family members, remember that in back of all of it is the shared belief (shared by all of us) that we can be deprived of love. The suffering any of us feels stems from the original thought that we have indeed separated ourselves from God's Love -- depriving him of our love -- and can never get it back.
So again, as you work through the many challenges you face right now, on the behavioral level, do whatever you need to do to help yourself and your loved ones. Remember that the Course is not about behavior but about our thinking (in other words, which teacher we ask for help), and so there is nothing in the Course to use as a guide for behavior. But there is everything in the Course to help us choose the right teacher. Therefore, ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit in your mind to hold your hand as you do what you need to do. Bring your current darkness to their light, which is still in your mind. Let them show you how to look upon yourself and your family with compassion. They will teach you (without making you wrong) a new way to look at the losses and hardships in your life. You will see that neither you nor your family members have to feel like victims of circumstances beyond your control. And in those moments when you do feel that way, a part of you will still know that God's Love hasn't gone anywhere nor have you, and you remain perfectly safe.
Q #945: My question has to do with following the idea from A Course in Miracles of “not asking the Holy Spirit for parking spaces,” as Ken puts it. Although I tend not to ask for help in the physical world for things for myself, I do find myself getting guidance from a source that has clearly morphed from taking Jesus' hand. The guidance is loving and leads to many holy instants where I see my brother as sinless, but it also does advise me in physical matters, such as where to live, where to go, what to say and who to say it to, etc. Is this an interim guidance that understands that I am not quite ready to walk next to Jesus in equality. Or perhaps is it equality manifesting itself in the world that I have not yet let go of? Am I getting the point sufficiently that I am supposed to accept this guidance as it leads me up the ladder? Or am I deluding myself by accepting what has been fairly accurate guidance in the physical world?
A: We cannot say definitively what the source of your guidance is. It could be right-minded, reflecting your choice to switch from the ego to Jesus as your teacher. As a way of “protecting” herself from the full radiance of the love in her mind, Helen Schucman most of the time allowed love into her awareness only in the form of a voice telling her where to shop, where to wait for a cab, etc. (see Absence from Felicity , chapter 17). But when she no longer needed this defense, that phase of her relationship with Jesus ended; she no longer limited his love in an attempt to make it -- and him -- more manageable by her.
If your experiences are originating from a right-minded choice, they will advance you spiritually to the extent to which you do not get caught in the form of the guidance and make it into something special in your life. Try to stay with the content -- the loving source in your mind -- aware that your function is to reverse your choice to be separate from that source. You make progress in fulfilling this function by asking for help to let go of your judgments of yourself and others, and instead to see yourself and others as joined in the journey to our home in Heaven, where only Oneness is true and real.
Q #946: It's my understanding that in A Course in Miracles , Jesus is speaking to our mind not to our brain. It's also my understanding that there is only one mind. So how can we collectively do anything if there is only one mind and we don't exist? For example, how do we collectively dream a tsunami or any other disaster such as war?
A: To answer your questions, let's start by thinking about how nighttime dreams work. In nighttime dreams, there seem to be various people interacting with each other. But when you wake up, you realize that it was all going on inside your head. All the characters in your dream were created, scripted, and directed by your imagination. No matter how many characters appeared, or how real they seemed, in the morning you open your eyes and find that there is still only one of you.
Similarly, A Course in Miracles makes it clear that in reality, outside of this dream of time and space, we remain in Heaven as a "Oneness joined as One" (T.25.I.7). Unfortunately, we have covered this truth over with several layers of illusion, making it virtually impossible for us to understand how this could be so. But the Course helps us understand it by explaining that it all began with one thought of separation. That thought seemed to birth a mind that was separate from its Creator -- a state the mind found both thrilling and terrifying. These feelings pushed the one mind to fall more deeply asleep, seeming to fragment into billions of pieces and wind up in this world of multiplicity. But each fragment, born of a single thought, retained the entire thought system of the one mind from which it came. And so, as fragments, we can have individual (and quite different) experiences of being in this world. Yet, fragmented from the same Source, we share an experience of how this world works, and the events that take place within it.
You are correct that in the Course, Jesus is addressing our mind not our brain. But he is not appealing to the one mind which, being already one, does not need the message of the Course. Instead, Jesus speaks to our individual split minds. As the Course makes clear, each of us has three parts to our mind: the ego, the Holy Spirit, and the decision maker, which chooses between the two. Jesus' purpose in writing his course was to remind us that we can shift from the ego to the Holy Spirit as our internal Teacher. And so he is really speaking to the decision making part of our mind because that is the part that can make the shift. Like the one mind, the decision maker is outside of time and space. But the choices the decision maker makes determine whether we will use this dream world as a prison or as a classroom for awakening to our true home in Heaven.
When the decision maker chooses the Holy Spirit, we automatically begin to reflect the oneness of Heaven in our thoughts, words, and actions. This is because, as the Course says, " It is the Holy Spirit's function to teach you how this oneness is experienced, what you must do that it can be experienced, and where you should go to do it" (T.25.I.6:4). And so the process the Course lays out for us is really one of gradually awakening to our oneness. At the very end of the journey, we will find that even the one mind is an illusion as we at last accept that "nowhere does the Father end [and] the Son begin as something separate from Him" (W.pI.132.12:4).
For a related discussion about the paradox of one mind and separate consciousness, please see Question #127: If there is only one Mind, why do I perceive myself as unique?
Q #947: A Course in Miracles tells me to withdraw from my ego goals, that the ego self is not my real self, and that to disengage from the ego is the only road to peace and joy. I want to do this, but I also want the money. How do I reconcile the two?
A: We will answer your question, but whom should we bill for the service? :-)
Seriously, though, believe it or not, you do not have to reconcile the two. The Course does not ask us to give up anything we are still attached to. In fact, it states, "It would indeed be strange if you were asked to go beyond all symbols of the world…You have need to use the symbols of the world a while" (W.pI.184.9:1,2). Certainly money is one of the most potent symbols in this world. The fact that you have a special relationship with it hardly places you in a unique position. But the fact that you are willing to be honest about it gives you a wonderful opportunity to do what the Course actually advises. That means inviting the Holy Spirit to simply look at it with you. In other words, ask Him to help you watch all your financial transactions without judging or justifying them.
Remember that the Course tells us "the Holy Spirit uses special relationships, which you have chosen to support the ego, as learning experiences that point to truth. Under His teaching, every relationship becomes a lesson in love" (T.15.V.4:5). So you do not want to give up special relationships because they are the very things the Holy Spirit can use to heal your mind. Where there is a special relationship (in other words, a history of the ego running the show), there is always the presence of guilt and fear. And that certainly describes the feelings most of us have - - consciously or unconsciously -- around money. So the first lesson in love the Holy Spirit might give you about money could be to have compassion for your own fear-based attachment to it. And since guilt and fear are the ego's bread and butter, that is the beginning of withdrawing from the ego. As that happens, you will gradually find yourself feeling a greater sense of ease around money, regardless of what is happening externally.
So to summarize: When it comes to switching from the ego to the Holy Spirit, you do not have to make any withdrawals until you lose interest. And when you cannot find your balance, let Jesus reconcile the difference.