Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 12/13/2006

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1058 Did we fall from bliss to a lower state?
Q #1059 How can I control demonic "entities" that seem real to me? .
Q #1060 Is it possible some part of the Sonship never participated in the dream?
Q #1061 What is the significance of the "giant strides"?
Q #1062 Should only one worbook lesson be done each day?

Chronological List of All Questions.
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Q #1058: A book I read said that in the formless realm the inhabitants live in state of bliss for eons; and then after many eons they fall to one of the lower states. Can you expand on this? I think the person who wrote this is talking about a realm of existence, but he is not talking about God's formless Love.

A : This view is different from what A Course in Miracles says of God and Heaven. Heaven is “an awareness of perfect Oneness” according to the Course (T.18.VI.1) . Nothing other than this perfect Oneness exists; anything else is totally illusory. If anything could “fall” from this state to another state, there would be something besides perfect Oneness . This is what is known in the Course as the Atonement principle -- that separating from God is impossible and therefore never happened in reality .

Q #1059: Because of sexual abuse from several men, I have all my life experienced demonic "entities" in dreams, and also as a "presence" now and then as "awake." They have a specific energetic radiation: the absence of love and good. Aware that I have to deal with this and not flee, I have used many ways to "combat" them. When I know they are not real, when I "see" them, they transform or disappear; but there are times when their appearance is so terrifying that the fear is stronger than my clarity of mind, and I just "run." This terror from childhood seems to have become symbiotic with my ego-identity. I would like to know if the Course has any suggestions as to how these beings still are in my consciousness when I already have succeeded in "melting them" in the light of reality?

A: Entities such as the ones you describe are different aspects of the ego, and therefore can be let go of as you would any other aspect of the ego: through forgiveness. Forgiveness, in theory, means that we are forgiving an illusion of separation -- one form of illusion is not harder to let go of than any other. The practice of this principle, however, must be directed to the level of our experience at any given point in our lives. In terms of our experience, in other words, some aspects of the ego dominate our thinking so intensely that it is necessary to turn to external sources of help that could get us to the level where we can then apply the principles of A Course in Miracles more meaningfully and effectively. This is most often the case when there have been years of fear and terror from abuse, whatever the form. We need to be able to accept help at the level at which we need it; otherwise it will not be truly helpful.

Early in the text Jesus teaches us about this important part of our process: “The value of the Atonement does not lie in the manner in which it is expressed. In fact, if it is used truly, it will inevitably expressed in whatever way is most helpful to the receiver. This means that a miracle, to attain its full efficacy, must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear. . . . The whole aim of the miracle is to raise the level of communication, not to lower it by increasing fear” (T.2.IV.5:1,2,3,6) . So just be sure that you are not skipping this crucial step in you work with the Course.

The ultimate lesson is that we can be at peace, regardless of what the world may have done to us. We need only remember that the world has no power over the mind; the dream no power over the dreamer -- as we learn in this passage: “For you would not react at all to figures in a dream you knew that you were dreaming. Let them be as hateful and vicious as they may, they could have no effect on you unless you failed to recognize it is your dream” (T.27.VIII.10:5,6).

Q #1060: Is it possible that once the "tiny, mad idea" of separation from God entered the mind of spirit, it produced an illusory Big Bang that we think led to the formation of the phenomenal universe with time and space as coordinates? In this way, the ego could "explain" the origins of the universe and therefore perpetuate the notion of separation. Is it also possible that a portion of the Sonship never entertained the idea of separation, never participated in the dream, and is able to maintain continuity of oneness with God despite the fact that another part of the Sonship is dreaming?

A: We always need to keep in mind when we engage in speculation that there never was, nor could be, any separation from God. That is the principle of the Atonement -- separation from God is impossible. But in the context of the myth of separation and its undoing presented in A Course in Miracles , the Big Bang could be associated with the decision the Son of God made, once he believed the separation really happened, to heed the ego's advice to deal with the resultant overwhelming guilt and terror in his mind by making up some other realm outside his mind in which he could exist as separate and also elude capture and punishment by what must now be a furious, wrathful God. The instant the Son decided he was not a mind by projecting himself outside it could be thought of as the instant the world came into being -- the Big Bang. This occurred following the earlier stages of the ego's dynamics that convinced the Son of the reality of sin, guilt, and fear. In this approach, the “tiny, mad idea” does not enter the Son's mind at the level of spirit, which would be impossible.

The Course teaches that the Sonship “fell” as one -- not in reality, of course. The continuity between God and His Son is eternal. It can never be ruptured. There is nothing in the Course that says part of the Sonship “never entertained the idea of separation, never participated in the dream.” But the clarification of terms states that Jesus “remains a Savior because he saw the false without accepting it as true. . . . In His complete identification with the Christ -- the perfect Son of God, His one creation and His happiness, forever like Himself and one with Him -- Jesus became what all of you must be” (C.5.2:5; 3:1) . This is a way of saying that Jesus accepted the Atonement for himself; however, there is no indication of when he did this. Perhaps it was in the very instant of the tiny, mad idea; so that in that sense it could be said that Jesus was one of the fragments that never took the idea seriously. There could have been others as well (C.5.6:1,2,3) . For us as students of this course, however, Jesus is the teacher in our minds who, at every instant, reminds us that we can make the same choice he did: to remember to laugh at the tiny, mad idea as it manifests in our lives. He reminds us, too, that we were with him when he arose (C.6.5:5) . Thus, always present in our minds, awaiting our acceptance of it, is the memory of our true Identity as Christ, forever one with His Source.

For further study of this aspect of the Course's theory, we refer you to All Are Called , Volume 1 of The Message of A Course in Miracles , and our audio album, “Separation and Forgiveness: The Four Splits and Their Undoing.”

Q: #1061: What is the significance of the giant strides ? Why are they such a large learning device?

A: This is a very encouraging term that Jesus uses to let us know that we are saving a great deal of time on our journey by taking what seem to us to be small, insignificant steps: “Each time you practice, awareness is brought a little nearer at least; sometimes a thousand years or more are saved” (W.pI.97.3:2) . Every time we make an effort to do what a lesson prescribes, we are taking a “giant stride” toward release from our ego (W.pI.94.5:9) -- “another step toward quick salvation” (W.pI.194.1:1) . It is Jesus' way of telling us that by continuing to choose him as our teacher and doing what he says, we are getting much closer to letting go of our pain, and accepting lasting peace in our lives .

Q #1062: I understand that only one workbook lesson per day is to be done, but is there a correct number of times during the day that the lesson can be read and the exercises done? The beginning lessons are quite short and could be read and the exercises done several times during the day, but is this advisable? Or should each lesson and exercises be done only once during the day?

A: The instructions for doing the workbook state that only one lesson be done and it can be assumed that it means only once. Some of the lessons have further instructions about repeating or recalling the thought for the day. In some lessons Jesus asks that we make specific applications throughout the day. The instructions as given in the workbook are the only guide we need for practicing.

It is very important to do your best to follow the instructions as they are given, but not to judge yourself when you fail. If you could do the workbook perfectly you would not need it. Since it is a mind-training program, it is understood that we are in need of training. And no trainee is expected to perform flawlessly. The temptation to set expectations of perfection is an attempt by the ego to place itself in charge of the Atonement process. If you find it helpful, there is nothing wrong with rereading the lesson to reflect and meditate on its message, as long as you do not feel compelled or obsessed with doing the lessons. Frequently, Jesus reminds us that we should not feel any strain. His advice in lesson 12 can be applied generally to the practice of the workbook: “Terminate the exercises whenever you experience a sense of strain” (W.12.6:4). A sense of urgency, compulsion, or strain is an indication that the ego has snuck in to take command. That is nothing to be upset about. It only means you have become afraid. And since you cannot force yourself through fear, it is best simply to stop. Being willing to tell Jesus you are too afraid to go on, and not judging yourself for it, is more in keeping with the goal of the workbook than straining to practice perfectly. The goal is to go “… from one apparent lesson to the next, in easy steps that lead you gently from one to another, with no strain at all (T.31.2:4) . We can only take one step at a time, and that is all we are asked to do.