Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 11/01/2006
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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1034 Why would God let us have unhappy dreams?
Q #1035 What is meant by "a dream is a wish fulfilled"? .
Q #1036 Are my feelings of love genuine?
Q #1037 I feel alone and frustrated because others do not share my journey.
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Q #1034: Why would God create a Son that is capable of having "unhappy dreams?" Does this have something to do with God's desire that His Son have a "free will?" “Never approach the holy instant after you have tried to remove all fear and hatred from your mind. That is its function. Never attempt to overlook your guilt before you ask the Holy Spirit's help. That is His function. Your part is only to offer Him a little willingness to let Him remove all fear and hatred, and to be forgiven” (T.18.V.2:1,2,3,4,5) Does this mean that we do not need to forgive ourselves before we approach the holy instant and that we do not need to forgive ourselves before we ask the Holy Spirit's help? Does this mean that all we need to do is open ourselves a little bit with our "little willingness" and the Holy Spirit will take care of the rest. That the Holy Spirit will then teach us how to forgive ourselves and will then teach us how to change our fearful dreams to "happy dreams" on the way to awakening?
A: The first part of your question is asked by just about every student of A Course in Miracles . It is founded on a belief system that tells us dreams are real, that they have an unhappy effect on the dreamer, and that God is to blame for this miserable state of affairs. This belief system is shared by all the Sonship once the thought of separation is taken seriously. It rests on the declaration that the separation did indeed occur and has had disastrous effects. Furthermore, God is not only responsible for this, He won't do anything about it. Herein lies the ego's woeful tale of separation. Once the mind chooses to believe that separation is possible, the creative power that it shares with its Source is expressed in the ability to choose between separation and Oneness. However, choosing between what is real (oneness) and what is not real (separation) is not a real choice. It is the denial of one and acceptance of the other. Denial of truth is what the Course calls a misuse of the mind's creative power, while free will is defined as the choice for truth/denial of error: “Denial of error is a strong defense of truth, but denial of truth results in miscreation, the projections of the ego. In the service of the right mind the denial of error frees the mind, and re-establishes the freedom of the will. When the will is really free it cannot miscreate, because it recognizes only truth” (T.2II.2:5,6,7). Thus, choosing the ego's unhappy dream is the denial of free will.
Since “God does not know of separation” (P.2.VII.1:11), He is unaware of the Son's “choice” or of any will that is not the Will He shares with him. Neither can we speak of God as desiring anything for His Son, for desire implies need or some sense of lack. In the non-dualistic state of perfect oneness that God shares with His Son, there is no need or lack of any kind. He knows only perfect Oneness, perfect Love, one Will shared with His Son. This is a unitive state that is impossible to understand from within the dream of duality. While we still believe the separation is possible, the Course meets us where we think we are by describing our seeming separated condition as a dream the Son has while he remains at home with His Father (T.13.VII.17:7) , Who is unaware of the nightmarish escapades and adventures of the dream.
You are absolutely right, all that is required of us is willingness. In fact, the passage you quote is saying that we should not do anything except be willing . We cannot forgive ourselves, nor remove the guilt, fear, and hatred from our minds. What we can do is become aware of our need for forgiveness by being willing to look at our judgments as projections of guilt for having chosen separation. The choice is forgotten until we see the judgments. The miracle of forgiveness begins with willingness to recognize them as the projections they are, rather than justify them by shifting blame outside the mind and on to external agents. That is enough for us to do because in itself it is not as easy as it may seem. The world is a fertile battleground, bombarding us with “legitimate” external reasons for lack of peace. It is no small thing to learn to accept that nothing external to the mind can take peace away. That is probably why Jesus thought “miracle” was a good word for his teaching on forgiveness. When we do our part, the rest follows without further effort. Trying to do anything more, simply means we have put ourselves in charge of the Atonement, which ensures that we will not accept it. In this regard it is always helpful to remember the one task we have been given: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it” (T.16.IV.6:1) .
Q #1035: Lately I've been observing my "sleeping dreams" versus "waking dreams" from the point of view of A Course in Miracles and my understanding of "dreaming" has deepened a bit. Although not always, it sometimes helps me to put "the problems in this world" in the right perspective. In Kenneth Wapnick's "Cause and Effect" first tape, he mentions this line: "A dream is a wish fulfilled." Could you please elaborate?
A: A significant part of Freud's work is based on his theory that the dreams we have at night are fulfillments of wishes -- that we hold secret wishes in our minds which then manifest in our nocturnal dreams. Jesus is saying the same thing, except that he generalizes this to include our entire lives, as well as the “life” of the entire physical universe. Thus, we “are at home in God, dreaming of exile but perfectly capable of awakening to reality” (T.10.I.2:1) . Our lives in this world are parts of this dream of being separate from God. This is illusory, of course, as separating from Infinity and Perfection is impossible; but since we think we are really alive in this very real world, Jesus uses the analogy of the dream to help us return to our original, unchanged state as one with our Source. He teaches us how to become “lucid dreamers” -- a gradual process of bringing back into our awareness the power of our minds to decide to awaken from this dream of separation or to stay asleep, oblivious to the fact that we are the dreamers of our own dreams.
What keeps us from awakening, however, is our secret wish to keep our individual existence but to project blame for it onto something or someone else. This is the cause of our feeling victimized and unfairly treated in our lives (the effect). It is an absolutely bizarre strategy, but our secret wish is fulfilled within the dream every time we feel we are suffering unjustifiably at the hands of another. Because we keep this wish buried, it appears as if we are innocent victims; but we are anything but innocent. Contrary to our experience, the world is not the cause of our misery and problems. “Perception is a result and not a cause” (T.21.in.1:8) . The world with its potential for inflicting suffering and the bodies within the world that can be so afflicted are both the fulfillment of the mind's secret wish to have an existence of its own but to make it appear that it is not responsible for it. Correcting this delusion is the objective of Jesus' curriculum in his course. But the effectiveness of this correction rests on our willingness to question the validity of our perceptions about ourselves and the world. We must get to the point where we are open to viewing ourselves and everyone else in the world -- and the very world itself -- as figures in a dream.
For further study, we refer you to some sections in the text that discuss these ideas: “The Basis of the Dream” (T.18.II); “The Dreamer of the Dream” (T.27.VII); “The ‘Hero' of the Dream” (T.27.VIII) .
Q #1036: I have only been studying A Course in Miracles for six months but previously have read David Hawkins, Ken Wilbur, and studied some things on quantum physics. Before I came to A Course in Miracles , I was having strong feelings of love for everything from bugs to trees to people. I saw their forms as cute, implying childlike innocence. It wasn't as if I was denying their propensity for attack, but I found people responding to me with kindness and friendliness so I didn't see this side to them. You stated in a tape that, in the ego world, we created children to appear innocent so that the blame can be projected outward. (I hope I'm interpreting you correctly here). Now, I'm confused on how to feel love toward people and animals. Am I loving their form? Am I able to see spirit in form even if form doesn't exist and is just a projection? Where do I direct the intense feelings of love that sometimes wash over me?
A: If these intense feelings of love embrace everything and everyone and exclude nothing and no one, then they are coming from the part of your mind that remembers the oneness of God's Son, which transcends form. Spirit is never in form, as form is inherently illusory. Form issued from the separated Son's mind as a means of obliterating any awareness of oneness, thereby validating his existence as separate from God. Jesus describes this mistake as “the substitution of illusion for truth; of fragmentation for wholeness. It has become so splintered and subdivided and divided again, over and over, that it is now almost impossible to perceive it once was one, and still is what it was” (T.18.I.4:2,3) . Bodies, with their senses, were made to perceive only form, and so we cannot rely on them to put us in touch with the truth. We can turn inward to our minds, however, where we can choose to regard everything of form as symbols that can either reinforce our belief in the reality of separation or help us undo that belief. In other words, our focus shifts from the forms themselves to the purpose they serve -- the purpose of the ego or the purpose of the Holy Spirit. This is the shift from form to the content in our minds, which is the function of the miracle. Even though, on one level, all form represents an attack on the perfect formlessness of reality -- “the body is a limit on love . . . it was made to limit the unlimited” (T.18.VIII.2:2,3) -- on another level, “love does not condemn it and can use it lovingly, respecting what the Son of God has made and using it to save him from illusion” (T.18.VI.4:8) . This is the gentle way of the Course and of Jesus, the teacher in our minds to whom we can turn for help in making this shift.
Lesson 151 in the workbook is especially helpful in contrasting these two ways of perceiving. It helps us see how we have gotten ourselves stuck by using our senses as the chief means of judging what is real and true and lovable, and why we did that. Then Jesus teaches us to turn to the Holy Spirit within, Who will help us perceive truly, a process that will gradually “bridge the gap between illusions and the truth” (W.pI.151.9:7) . Near the end of this journey, as we advance spiritually, our perception will be one with the Holy Spirit's, Who sees everyone as either expressing love or calling for it. In the earlier stages of our spiritual growth, Jesus tells us that we “cannot safely make this division, for . . . [we] are much too bound to form, and not to content” (T.14.X.7:2,3) . Learning to thus distinguish between form and content is an essential step in the process of restoring to our awareness our true Identity as God's one Son. So your intense feelings of love can be directed inward to the content in your right mind, where you go beyond form and differences to the love that reflects the perfect Oneness of God's Love.
Q #1037: Many years ago I experienced what I believe to be a "sampling" of God's Love. It was so overwhelming that it defies description. Since that time, I have been reviewing my life and experiencing and reevaluating every relationship, both painful and joyful. I understand so much, and still I am longing for that "feeling" again. I have a difficult time sharing my journey back to Heaven with those I come in contact with. Some believe me, but doubt my sanity; some ignore me, some want to believe me but are afraid of change; many misunderstand me and my intentions. I feel like Jesus did during his time. Wasn't he alone and frustrated? How do I help heal all our wounds when others don't seem to want any help and resent any implication that they need help?
A: The way you can be most helpful to others in your life is to remain vigilant in your own mind for anything that keeps them separate from you, and then to trust that when they are ready they will let go of their egos and accept back into their awareness their true Identity. It could be that you are reinforcing the differences between you and your friends by focusing on their “wounds,” instead of identifying with the power of their minds to choose their egos, and respecting that choice. Identifying with the power of their minds and respecting their choice to choose their egos is an effective way of joining with them in your mind, as that would reflect your own process, and then the differences between you would fade away. In that instant of joining, love would simply flow through you and take the form that is most helpful right then. It is not necessary to explicitly call attention to other people's wounds. Most people would not take kindly to that. When you are beyond your ego, you would know that they are as well: “When I am healed, I am not healed alone” (W.pI.137) .
Jesus was not frustrated, nor did he ever feel he was alone -- those are effects of believing you are a body, and Jesus knew he was not a body, even though everyone related to him that way. The major lesson he was teaching, and still is, is that nothing happened in reality to separate us from our Father; we only believed something happened. So by focusing on people's wounds and then trying to heal them, we would be doing exactly what he wants us to avoid doing: making the error real . In the Course he uses the term unhealed healers for those who see error as real and then set out to correct it (T.9.V) . Just as he instructed Helen, the scribe of A Course in Miracles , he urges us not to decide on our own who needs healing and how to go about it, but rather to ask him which miracles we are to perform. If our own minds are not healed -- for just an instant of being beyond our egos -- our perception will be distorted, and we will not be clear and clean channels through which his healing love can flow.
Jesus stood for the Alternative (M.5.III.2:6) . He reminded others -- just by his presence -- of their wholeness and innocence. His non-judgmental presence was enough; words were not necessary, and if there were words, as there are in this course, they would simply be the form that love takes for those too fearful of love's direct, formless presence. He asks us to do that with the people in our lives -- just be the loving, non-judgmental presence that stands for the Alternative. Remember Jesus' description of forgiveness : “Forgiveness . . . is still, and quietly does nothing. . . . It merely looks, and waits, and judges not” (W.pII.4:1,3) .