Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 08/02/2006

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #980 Is "peace" our true identity?
Q #981 I am confused about use of the term "special love".
Q #982 I was unduly harsh to someone. What does this mean?
Q #983 Can knowledge be acquired without reading books?

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Q #980: The answer to Question #689 stated: "We are asked to learn how to identify with the peace that is our true Identity as God's creation." Is peace our true Identity? Since I cannot find this in A Course in Miracles , can you explain it to me? Is not peace "the condition of knowledge?

A: Both are correct. To say that "peace is our true Identity" is a way of emphasizing Jesus' point that nothing at all can change our natural state as God created us. As His creation, we share fully in His eternal peace. In that sense, it is part of our true Identity. On the other hand, within the dream of separation from God, we can believe that peace of mind is conditional on things being a certain way in our lives -- that some conditions and circumstances can give us peace and some can take it away. That is one of the major misperceptions that Jesus is helping us to correct in his teachings and lessons on forgiveness. One way of avoiding the difficulties that language inevitably produces is to try to discern the content or the message -- the point that Jesus is making in any given place in the Course -- and then stay with that. Consistency in form is just about impossible. We are sorry if we caused some confusion.

Q #981: There is a line in A Course in Miracles ( T.25.VI.6:8 ): "His special hate became his special love." This line appears to say that special love is something good or positive. I was under the impression that for the Course "special love" was just as ego driven, and therefore just as "bad," as "special hate."

A: This is a good example of how the Course sometimes gives a term a different meaning. In this case, "special love" is not referring to the specialness of the ego's love. It refers to a relationship transformed by the Holy Spirit. The passage tells us that the mind that chose hate and sin can choose love and grace. It thereby illustrates Jesus' teaching that the Holy Spirit uses what the ego made to condemn as a means of salvation. That is not to say that the ego's use of special love becomes "good." As with everything of the ego, the special relationship is neither good nor bad. It merely reflects the mind's choice to identify with the thought of separation and the belief that illusion is real. When the mind chooses the Holy Spirit instead of the ego, the special love or hate relationship is reinterpreted by Him as a classroom to learn to undo the belief in separation. Thus the relationship becomes the means of salvation.

The passage you refer to is further clarified in the text where we are told: "In His function as Interpreter of what you made, 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.4:5,6 ). When a relationship is transformed by the Holy Spirit and becomes a "lesson in love," it is then "special" in a new sense. What makes it special is that its purpose has been changed. The ego's goal of using it to establish differences and make the separation real is changed to the Holy Spirit's curriculum of undoing separation through forgiveness. Forgiveness uncovers the exclusiveness of the ego's love that is used to defend specialness . While the ego bids us use special love to find one's own completion, the Holy Spirit teaches wholeness expressed in love that is inclusive, not special. Our goal is not to see the special relationship as positive or negative, nor to try not to have them, but to let the Holy Spirit use them to lead us beyond the ego's specialness to the reflection of love for all the Sonship that He represents.

Q #982: I try to listen to the Holy Spirit all the time, and especially to ask Him to speak through me when I'm talking to others. I am often amazed at the gentle, encouraging words that come out of my mouth. I attribute this to just being willing to let Christ talk for me, not to any special abilities of my own. But last week, while I was talking to a new thought minister, something happened that bothered me. I told him that instead of encouraging his flock to listen to God for themselves, he tries to keep them dependent on him and to make them believe that they have to go through him to reach God. I spoke very authoritatively to him. Then, afterwards, I quickly apologized and ran out. This is bothering me because I wasn't teaching love. I barely knew this man! I did open up to spirit before speaking with him, so why would something so harsh come out? I guess I must have been projecting in some way, for some reason. Please give me your insight.

A: First, we need to be clear that we cannot necessarily judge whether or not we are teaching love by the words we say. Jesus tells us in A Course in Miracles that what we hear when we listen to the Holy Spirit "may indeed be quite startling" (M.21.5: 2). Thus, it is possible that our words could sound harsh or even outlandish, but still be motivated by an underlying intention to be loving and helpful. So, with nothing but a description of external events to go on, we could not say whether you were in fact being unkind to that man.

You are correct that whenever we say, feel, or think anything that is not an extension of love, we are projecting. If that is indeed what you were doing in that instant, we could only guess the reasons why. Without knowing more about you, we could only speculate why you might have been triggered at that specific moment, by that particular individual. But it might be helpful to ponder the following statement from the Course: "projection, occurs when you believe that some emptiness or lack exists in you, and that you can fill it with your own ideas instead of truth" ( T.2.I.1:7 ).

In other words, if you were attacking him, the chances are that he reminded you of something of which you accuse yourself. (This does not necessarily mean that you accuse yourself of exactly what you reprimanded him for, though this could be the case.) Then, before that guilt came to consciousness, your ego jumped in and said, "Ah, I know how to get rid of this guilt. I'll focus instead on what he is doing wrong." As the Course says, "Projection makes perception... you attacked your brother, because you saw in him a shadow figure in your private world [your mind] . And thus it is you must attack yourself first, for what you attack is not in others. Its only reality is in your own mind..."( T.13.V.3:5,6,7,8 ).

If guilt led to the incident in the first place, rather than continuing to feel guilty about it, it would be more helpful to instead use it as a valuable source of information. Because "What is not love is always fear, and nothing else" ( T.15.X.4:5 ), you could recognize that, despite your frequently successful attempts to connect with the Holy Spirit's Love, part of your mind is still fearful. In fact, as long as we retain any belief in the reality of this world and our individual existence within it, a part of our mind will remain afraid. It is only at the very end of our spiritual journey that we will be entirely guilt free and consistently filled with love. Until then, it is virtually inevitable that we will have both right-minded moments in which we extend love, and wrong-minded moments in which we project guilt.

The fact that you recognize that you may have projected guilt, and have a sincere desire not to do so, is very helpful. At this point, you could simply stop right there and ask the Holy Spirit to help you look at the incident you described (and any future situations which trigger your guilt) through His compassionate, non-judgmental eyes -- allowing Him to give the same gentle encouragement to you that you have felt Him help you direct toward others.

Q #983: Is there any way we can learn knowledge without reading it from a book or from any other "normal" means? If there is, how can we get in touch with it? The information I want to learn is about the body and diet. The darkness in my mind has almost gone, and I feel that my body needs to be completely refreshed for me to feel the full benefits of it. I know that this isn't in line with the teachings of A Course in Miracles ; however, I am convinced that it should be. So before I embark on a journey of reading a lot of books about nutrition and many other things; is there a shortcut to this knowledge already stored in the mind?

A: Within this world, there are certainly many ways to learn about such things as how to take optimal care of our bodies. However, the Course gives us a shortcut to knowledge that does not come from within this world. Its purpose is to teach us that we made up this world and to return us to the part of our mind that contains the guilt that compelled us to do so in the first place. Jesus seeks to help us remove the fear that we have foolishly attempted to obscure by inventing bodies and sickness. This is why he tells us that "Sickness is a defense against the truth" ( W.pI.136 ). The same could be said of anything else that reinforces our experience of being separate bodies living a physical existence. Jesus also lets us know that "Health is the result of relinquishing all attempts to use the body lovelessly . Health is the beginning of the proper perspective on life under the guidance of the one Teacher Who knows what life is, being the Voice for Life Itself" ( T.8.VII.9:8,9,10 ). In other words, from Jesus' healed perspective, neither sickness nor health is about bodies. The state of our body simply reflects what we have chosen to do with our mind.

It is important to remember that this is a choice we make on a level of the mind of which we are not aware -- as decision makers outside of time and space. Thus, making a different choice requires us to get in touch with a new internal Teacher -- the Holy Spirit. He will gently awaken us to the power of our mind in a way that allows us to access it without becoming afraid. Of course, this is a process, and it is only at the very end of our spiritual journey that we will truly understand that our bodies are nothing more than puppets carrying out the dictates of our mind.

Until then, while we believe that we are here, we should certainly do whatever we think will keep our bodies healthy and safe. Not doing so usually only serves to reinforce guilt and to allow the body to become even more of a distraction than it already is. At the same time, it is helpful to recognize that in a sense, we are fighting a losing battle. We made bodies to break down, feel pain, and die. We may be able to delay these things, but eventually they will happen. So if in fact we needed a "completely refreshed" body in order to feel the full benefits of a healed mind, it would mean that the benefits of a healed mind were fleeting.

Fortunately, this is not the case. The state of our mind is in no way dependent upon the state of our body. Indeed, once our mind is fully healed, the state of our body becomes irrelevant. We could be nailed to a cross, or lying in bed, our bodies riddled with cancer, and still be completely at peace. After all, what could be more peaceful than knowing that that which is being threatened is unreal and has nothing to do with us? Simply trusting that such a state is possible and approaching life as a classroom to help us get there is the shortcut Jesus has given us to achieving true knowledge.