Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 12/06/2006
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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1053 Who takes "The Last Step"?
Q #1054 Do fear and guilt prevent us experiencing the deeper levels of our mind? .
Q #1055 Did Helen ask Jesus any questions about his life on Earth ? .
Q #1056 What is the "one question" we are supposed to ask God?
Q #1057 How can I heal my habit of judging others?
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Q #1053: If God does not take the "last step" who or what is taking that step that we are supposed to refrain from taking?
A: God cannot not take the last step. There really is only one step and He already took it. It seems that we are on a journey with multiple steps only because our fear of awakening is so great. We therefore proceed gently, “step by step” through the healing process. To accommodate our fear and resistance, Jesus uses an expression such as God taking a step because it makes sense to us. Since we think in terms of linear time, and believe that the separation has been accomplished, we perceive the need for a gradual process of undoing. Our only concern is the steps of forgiveness we are asked to take. We don't even have to refrain from the last step. It is a given, once the blocks of resistance are removed. In the end, we will awaken from the dream of separation and remember the first and only step that God took in creating His Son. That is the meaning of what Jesus tells us in the text: “ For God will take the last step swiftly, when you have reached the real world and have been made ready for Him” (T.17.II.4:5).
Q #1054: Over the years I've had an experience from time to time while sleeping, where my mind wakes up and I feel I'm in an astral plane racing up to higher levels. It feels very real and I feel cool air and my mind feels very electric, like I've left my body. I get a little fearful and try to pull myself back and wake up my body. This has shown me that there are much deeper levels in my mind that I normally wouldn't experience in my everyday life. It seems like I really fear letting go of my body and the world when I have this experience. Now I see why no matter what good intentions I have for letting go of my ego and being at peace, I'm so entrenched in my ego/body identity. For 40 years it's a chipping away process, little by little, because of the deep rooted fear/guilt I don't even notice on the surface. Is this why we rarely experience the deeper levels of our mind because of the massive block of guilt and fear?
A: Yes, the guilt experienced by the mind for choosing against itself, and thereby against God, is very deep. It has been covered over by layers of denial spurned by fear of God's punishment. Experiences that indicate we are not physical bodies, such as the one you describe, often evoke feelings of fear that reflect the mind's fear of recognizing its identity as mind. Your insight into the fear of losing the body's identity is very helpful. It explains why it is so difficult to understand the Course, regardless of Jesus' assurance that it is very simple ( T.11.VIII.1:1). Though it is difficult, practicing it and applying its teachings to our lives is much more so, due to our tremendous resistance to letting go of the ego's thought system. The process begins with the recognition of resistance by an honest admission of how firmly we hold on to the ego. Seeing the blocks of resistance makes the need for setting a gentle pace in the undoing process obvious. It also accomplishes one of the most important steps in learning the Holy Spirit's curriculum: “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).
In the manual, Jesus refers to resistance in a way that applies to your experience. He tells us that resistance to healing is “enormous” because it requires the acceptance that our experience of the world is the result of a choice in the mind (See: M.5.II.1) . This returns responsibility for it to the mind, and in the process undoes all belief in the decision- making power of the body. The ego has taught us (and we have learned the lesson well) that the body makes decisions and “rules” the world. This belief makes both the body and the world real in our experience. Clinging to this belief we resist Jesus' teaching in order to protect the world and the body, and to maintain the thought of separation.
An experience of the astral body, although still within the realm of the ego, may serve as a reminder to the mind that it cannot be contained in a body. Indeed, it does not belong to the body at all, neither astral nor physical. Therein lies the threat to the body's “existence” that evokes fear in the form of resistance calling to mind Jesus' words of caution: “Trust not your good intentions. They are not enough” (T.18.IV.2:1,2). A healthy respect for the intensity of attachment to the body sets a firm foundation for proceeding with patience and gentleness through the learning process. It helps dispel the fantasy of instant success and keeps the mind calmly focused on the path of forgiveness. Your insight into the depths of the searing guilt that permeates the dream of separation is therefore of great value. Neither the guilt nor the resistance will prevail. Acknowledging them can only save time by not wasting it on escapades into deeper forays of denial. We are not asked not to have the blocks of resistance, but countless times we are asked to look in order to find them. In few words Jesus puts the simple task before us: “Be vigilant…” (T.6.V.C) . And when you find the blocks it will not be the ego that has led you.
Q #1055: In all the years that Helen Schucman was "talking" to Jesus, did she ever ask him any questions about historical data that concerned his life on earth?
A: No, Jesus' life on earth seemed to be of no interest to her. At one point when he was speaking to her about the fruitlessness of studying the past, he said to her. “Even My personal history is of no value to you except as it teaches you that I can help you now ” ( Absence from Felicity , p. 287).
Q #1056: A Course in Miracles speaks frequently of the one question that we are to "ask" God instead of the many that make up our "lives" on earth. What exactly would that question be if it cannot be asked with words? A feeling of direct "communication", i.e. "being"? Is the "communion with God" the Course speaks of not also an illusion in that it implies one (separated) aspect of God is talking to another separated aspect?
A: This “question” always pertains to content, not form. Thus, it would always be about our accepting the Atonement, or some variant of that. As an example, Jesus twice pleads with us: “Why wait for Heaven?” (W.pI.131.6:1; W.pI.188.1:1) ; and again in the workbook he tells us that we should ask “a thousand times a day,” “‘Who walks with me?'” (W.pI.156.8:1,2) . Then, in the lovely prose poem “The Gifts of God,” Jesus directs our thoughts to the gifts we can give to God. In one of many beautifully moving pleas to us, he exclaims, “Child of Eternal Love, what gift is there your Father wants of you except yourself? And what is there that you would rather give, for what is there that you would rather have? . . . What trifling gifts made out of sickly fear and evil dreams of suffering and death can be the substitute you really want for the rememberance of Christ in You?” ( The Gifts of God , p. 125)
Since imploring God's help with our world and our lives has been the focal point of prayer in practically all religions, East and West, Jesus uses that form in his process of correcting our thinking about who we are and Who God is. But he obviously does not think real communication with God occurs in the dream; it can't. This becomes clear as you comprehend the thought system of A Course in Miracles in its fullness. We are really praying to ourselves to recognize, first, our unquestioned commitment to the ego, and then to turn to the memory of truth in our right minds -- symbolized by Jesus and the Holy Spirit -- for help in seeing our mistake, so that we may make the choice to end our self- imposed exile from Love, now that we realize that that is what we have done. As our minds are healed of all thoughts of separation from God and from each other, we simply become Love, once again, God's gift to us in our creation
Q #1057: Lately I've become aware that I hold a lot of resentment against white people. I even think it may have past life roots! Every time I think I can be at peace or stop judging what I see as gross insensitivity or outright hostility, things occur that bring me right back to square one. When I ask Jesus about it, all that seems to come to mind is the idea that I shouldn't judge, yet neither should I be blissfully ignorant of these behaviors. Then I get "mad" because it's like watching a persistent re- offender with no judicial recourse! Believe it or not, I'd finally like to heal this. Any ideas?
A: One last piece you can add to the excellent ideas you already have -- don't judge and don't deny -- is to become aware of the cost of judging, a prominent theme in A Course in Miracles . When you are being judgmental, you may have the temporary good feeling of being right and being the innocent one; but you would not be truly peaceful. The ego's peace never lasts, which tells you it is not the peace of God. You therefore can remind yourself when you are tempted to judge, or even after you have engaged in a massacre of judgment, that you are choosing to divest yourself of God's gift of eternal peace by seeing others as sinful. There is no doubt that people do and say very hateful things, but why must that evoke a response of condemnation and anger? That could happen only if you had already made the decision to throw away the peace that is your natural inheritance; and you would do that only if you valued something else more. If you saw this process clearly, you would have to ask yourself what means more to you than being as God created you. The answers could be enlightening -- but they would always have something to do with wanting to preserve your individuality and, through projection, getting rid of the sense of sin and guilt associated with it.
This approach would be more beneficial than just getting mad at yourself for being a repeat offender, because getting mad at yourself is itself a judgment, and as you are aware, you cannot get past judgment by judging. So you need to simply watch yourself succumbing to the same temptation, and then, instead of getting mad at yourself, just acknowledge that this is costing you the peace of God; and that you are willing to pay that price in order to be right and to denounce the “evil ones.” Separating yourself from others that way leads only to guilt and misery, never peace. But that makes you only a mistaken Son of God, not a sinful one. Hate is a call for love -- everyone's call.