Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 11/29/2006

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1049 Why would we need to forgive our Father's world?
Q #1050 After one year studying the Course, I am seeking some kind of validation of my beliefs.
Q #1051 How could separation have preceded consciousness ? .
Q #1052 How could such a beautiful world not be a creation of God?

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Q #1049: In lesson 359, the first sentence reads, "Father, today we will forgive Your world, and let creation be Your Own" (W.pII.359.1:1). I don't understand why the world was referred to as "Your world".  We made the world which needs forgiveness.  The "world" the Father created is Heaven and doesn't need forgiveness.  So why would we need to forgive "Your world"?  I would have understood it if it had read "our world".  There's just something here that's confusing me.

A: You are correct, the Father's world is Heaven, which of itself does not need forgiveness. We need to forgive Heaven/God's world because we have projected responsibility for the separation onto it, and thereby onto God. In an effort to escape responsibility for the mind's choice to be separate, the ego tells us God banished us from Heaven as punishment for taking the thought of separation seriously. We forgive God's world by accepting that the decision to be separate is a choice in the mind, about which God knows nothing. His changeless world remains unaffected by the choice, as Jesus tells us: “not one note in Heaven's song was missed” (T.27.V.5:4). The need to forgive Heaven arises when the mind that would believe that the separation did indeed occur, and has had devastating effects, takes offence at the changelessness of Heaven, and the immutability of God's Love. In the mind's choice for separation, God, His Love, and His world are perceived as threatening because in Them all specialness vanishes.            

Directed to the mind, rather than to God Who does not hear prayers, the beautiful prayers in the second half of the workbook are poetic, meditative ways of restating the principles taught previously in the workbook. Like the single voice with which the Son sings to the Father, and He to the Son (S.1.in.1) , the prayers are expressions of the mind reflecting back to itself its willingness to live the ideas contained in the prayer. In this case, we remind ourselves that we want to remember Heaven, releasing it of the judgments projected onto it by the guilt-ridden mind. Our desire is to remember that Heaven did not abandon us; we abandoned Heaven by our choice. Just as it was forgotten it can be remembered, and thus it is forgiven.

Q #1050: After reading fully the text of A Course in Miracles and committing myself to the students' program for a year, I find myself in a position of "belief," but want to go to the level of "knowledge." I ask for something to show me that I am on the right path, that I am going in the right direction. I have looked at the various aspects of my life, be it career, creative projects, or relationships, and all things seem at a standstill. I let go and give the future to God to lead me....and nothing happens......I have worked through being anxious about the future and ask that what I feel inside be reflected on the outside somehow, but, there does not seem to be congruency. I want so much to have my beliefs validated because I don't want to believe that God would withhold happiness and fulfillment from one of his Sons who wants so much to be joined with Him.

A: In the simplicity of its message, the Course offers only one path for its students: the practice of forgiveness. This will lead to knowledge, which lies beyond forgiveness and beyond any path. The one-year study program of the workbook is only the beginning of a lifetime of practice: “This course is a beginning, not an end” (W.ep.1:1) . So, although the Course is a “fast track,” the process of applying its teachings to our lives is a slow road that requires patience and practice. The process is slow only because resistance is great, and attachment to the ego's belief system is deeper than we think. That is why Jesus repeats his message in many different ways throughout the Course.

What seems to be a lack of congruency in your process, therefore, is only evidence of the inevitable resistance. This is no cause for distress. Jesus acknowledges our resistance and recommends that we proceed gently and patiently. He assures us that God is not withholding anything from His Son. Nothing is missing in the equation of oneness; rather, something has been added that blocks awareness of the oneness: the decision to be a separate self. The mind's choice to believe in separation is the only thing that keeps knowledge of our oneness with God from awareness. Thus, the way to return to knowledge and love, is to accept the mind's healing of the thought of separation through forgiveness. That is all we are asked to do. Jesus tells us the plan will not fail because its success lies in the power of the mind that chose separation, and can choose differently: God's guarantee will hold against all obstacles, for it rests on certainty and not contingency. It rests on you (T.20.IV.8:10,11).           

To further lighten our burden, we are not asked to evaluate our progress. In fact, Jesus tells us : “Put yourself not in charge of this, for you cannot distinguish between advance and retreat. Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures, and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success (T.18.V.1:5,6) . Clearly, then, we are most gentle with ourselves if we agree to proceed calmly in the simple, though not easy, practice of forgiveness. Diligence in this practice is what will make the inner and outer more congruent, as every relationship and experience in daily life become opportunities to apply the principles of the Course's teaching, thereby unifying their purpose in service of a single goal. Having found the right path and a curriculum that guarantees results, the only thing to do is stay with the program. The pace of the learning process is commensurate with willingness to look at the ego's arsenal of resistance techniques without judging them. Jesus offers encouraging words to every student of his Course: “If the way seems long, let him be content. He has decided on the direction he wants to take. What more was asked of him? And having done what was required, would God withhold the rest?” (M.22.2:6,7,8,9).

Q #1051: I suppose I do not get it, i.e., that consciousness came into being after the separation. Would not consciousness have been born before the separation? Because if there were a fusion of Cause and Effect or Creator and creations there would not have been an awareness of distinction that could precipitate a separation. The conscious Son was tempted by the ego-maniacal idea that it should resent being just a mere creation and not be grateful to the Creator. The ego told the Son that it would always be second best. Thus was born the separation. We now have the real world of God and His only Son. We also have an unreal world, the only world we know and the fact that it is called unreal does not seem to make any difference. Like I said, I guess I just don't get it.

A: Consciousness could not be part of perfect Oneness because consciousness implies duality: subject and object. In a sense you are asking a version of the most commonly asked question -- how could this have happened? -- and there really is no fully satisfying answer. The problem is that your question itself arises from a mind that believes the separation happened, otherwise there would be no question. Jesus thus says in A Course in Miracles : “The ego will demand many answers this course does not give. It does not recognize as questions the mere form of a question to which an answer is impossible. The ego may ask, ‘How did the impossible occur?', ‘To what did the impossible happen?', and may ask this in many forms. Yet there is no answer; only an experience. Seek only this, and do not let theology delay you” (C.in.4; see also T.4.II.1:1) .

In this same place Jesus explains that his course “remains within the ego framework, where it is needed. It is not concerned with what is beyond all error because it is planned only to set the direction towards it. Therefore it uses words, which are symbolic, and cannot express what lies beyond symbols” (C.in.3:1,2,3). Jesus must use language we can understand, otherwise there would be no communication at all; and the language we understand is the language of duality -- real distinctions, separate beings, consciousness of things, etc., as well as the language and concepts of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. But as he says here, as well as in other places ( see especially, T.25.I) , he regards words as symbols that point us to something that cannot be expressed in words or any other kind of symbol. He therefore asks humility of us, and not to rely on our own understanding as a measure of the truth of what he says (T.18.IV.7:4,5,6 ). We cannot rely on our own thinking because of our concealed commitment to uphold the ego thought system rather than the truth held for us in our right minds by the Holy Spirit. Our understanding is prone to distortion because of what we have hidden from the light of truth. That is why Jesus says, “Do not let theology delay you” -- for centuries we have argued and fought over which theological systems are valid and which are not. So he is advising us to seek only the experience that is the outcome of our practice of forgiveness -- that God loves all people without exception, and that we never lost the innocence in which He created us. All questions and doubts will simply vanish then.

Q#1052: If the world we live in is an illusion (and not the real world), created by ourselves through the separation and not by God, then I am confused. I experience such joy, wonder, and appreciation of what I have always perceived to be God's creation!  What now if He didn't create all this -- the beauty of nature, etc., and none of it is "real"?  I will be very disappointed.

A: You have understood the Course's explanation for the physical universe correctly. God did not make the world, it is a miscreation of the mind that brought it into awareness by projecting on to it the guilt for having chosen to believe in the separation. This insight is not only disappointing, but a shock for everyone who has held traditional beliefs in God, and it is usually not the only shock in studying the Course. The ego has done a very good job of teaching its thought system, which includes a God who made the world, put us in it, and takes us out whenever He chooses. One of the important goals of the Course is exposing the secrets and hidden lies of this thought system. One such secret is the mind's wish that there be a world to replace the home that seemed to have been lost when separation was chosen. Although the world has great physical beauty, Jesus explains its origin and purpose as established by the ego: “The world was made as an attack on God. It symbolizes fear. And what is fear except love's absence? Thus the world was meant to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him” (W.pII.3:2,3,4).  

Uncovering the ego's scheme involves questioning long-held values that support belief in the reality of the body and the world. Since the thought of separation is not true, it requires heavy defenses to maintain belief in it. One of the convincing arguments in favor of belief in the world is its physical beauty. However, its beauty does not beautify the mind's decision to use it to defend separation. This information may be experienced as disappointing or worse, but a closer look reveals the ego's thought system at work in a world that offers much suffering and devastation along with its beauty. If God made one, He must have made the other, which makes Him a cruel Creator indeed, and that is precisely what the ego would have us believe. It feeds our fear that what God gave He can snatch away in an instant without warning. This thought covers an even deeper secret; i.e. that what the world offers was not really given to us by God but was stolen from Him, and He will “appear” suddenly and take it all back. The source of this belief is the mind's guilt for having usurped God's creative power by deciding to identify with the ego (and thereby with the body), instead of accepting the Identity God bestowed upon us as His one Son. In this choice for the ego the mind “steals” authorship of itself, believing it is the father, not the son. This is one example of what the Course refers to as the reversal of cause and effect. The ego was made out of the wish of God's Son to father himself: “The ego, then, is nothing more than a delusional system in which you made your own father. Make no mistake about this. It sounds insane when it is stated with perfect honesty, but the ego never looks on what it does with perfect honesty. Yet that is its insane premise, which is carefully hidden in the dark cornerstone of its thought system. And either the ego, which you made, is your father, or its whole thought system will not stand” (T.11.in.2:4,5,6,7,8).   With the ego as father, the Son now identifies with the body and is in need of a home. The mind then brings the world into awareness to serve as the home of the father/ego and his son/body. The problem is, as Jesus tells us in the text, “You do not really want the world you see, for it has disappointed you since time began” (T.13.VII.31).

That is not to say that you cannot enjoy the beauty you find in the world any less than other pleasurable things of the body, such as music or art. Though born to serve the ego, the world can become the means to undo belief in the ego. It can serve the Holy Spirit's purpose, which begins with the recognition that the world came into being with the mind's belief that separation is not only possible, but has been accomplished and has had real effects. Your surprise is an indication that this new perspective has already occurred to you. From here the important thing is to proceed gently in the process of exchanging the ego's thought system for the Holy Spirit's. Learning to see the beauties of nature differently does not mean not enjoying them. When you choose the Holy Spirit as your teacher, the world becomes a classroom that has a beauty all its own by giving us a place wherein to apply the teachings of His curriculum. Then, whether the world shows its beautiful side or the devastation effects of nature (e.g. Katrina), the Holy Spirit's lessons can be applied equally. Thus, for the ego, both the beauty and the devastation of the world serve to make it real. For the Holy Spirit, neither the beauty nor the devastation can serve to detract from the peace of God, nor impede progress on the path to the beauty of our true home.

See Questions #70 and #121.