Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 1/10/2007
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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1074 Does our "learning" accumulate from one life to the next?
Q #1075 What does the Course say about angels?.
Q #1076 Why do I seem less attractive to others as I become less judgemental ?
Q #1077 I feel detached from the stream of my thoughts, but I still feel like a body.
Q #1078 Where do I find the metaphor of the eagle and the sparrow?
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Q #1074: Do we keep our learning into the next life? I am finding judgment to be so pervasive, that it seems almost impossible to find my way home in just this lifetime.
A: A lifetime is but a classroom with a set of lessons on of the Son of God's return to his true home. There will be lifetimes as long as the mind believes the thought of separation is real and that there is a choice to be made between truth and illusion. Each time the mind chooses the illusion of separation it projects its guilt for making that choice in the form of judgments. The single thought that the separation did in fact occur, and therefore the world of illusion is real, stands behind the myriad of seemingly different judgments and lifetimes. From this single thought, all judgment and every lifetime is brought forth. The goal of A Course in Miracles is to teach us to distinguish between what is true and what is false, and to train our minds to recognize the effects of the mind's choice. This process may take lifetimes because of the unwillingness to choose to believe that only truth is true, and what is false will never bring happiness. Every judgment brings misery; every lifetime ends in death. Indeed, every lifetime begins with a death blow to God's Son.
What seems to be learning is actually a process of remembering the truth by unlearning the ego's thought system. The mind that has forgotten uses the body, the world, and many lifetimes to remember its true Identity and to forget everything else. Of itself the body does nothing; in fact, “ At no single instant does the body exist at all” (T.17.VII.31). Clearly, then, the remembering process goes on with or without the body; it precedes birth and outlives death. And since unlearning/remembering occurs only in the mind, it is not happening in any “lifetime”; a term we associate with the lifespan of the body measured by linear time. Ironically, this is now called “real time.” The Course would call it “illusory time” and tells us it takes no time at all to choose against the ego.
Fortunately, we do not need to reverse every judgment that we hold stockpiled in our arsenal of attack thoughts. The only “judgment” that needs to be reversed is the decision to side with the ego in its interpretation of the separation. If every judgment is the projection of guilt for having made that decision, judgments end when the mind decides in favor of the Holy Spirit instead of the ego. When that decision is made unequivocally, all judgment ends, as does all belief in the illusion of the world and the lifetimes spent in it. At that point: “Your foot has reached the lawns that welcome you to Heaven's gate; the quiet place of peace, where you await with certainty the final step of God” (W.pI.194.1:3) . Meanwhile, it is important to continue patiently uncovering the judgments that reveal the mind's mistaken belief that separation is possible and God's Son has been put to death. Each one is an opportunity to consider the insanity of this belief as well as its painful effects, in order to move closer to the final decision against the ego's madness.
Q #1075: What does A Course in Miracles say about angels? Also, what about people who seem to see an evil presence? I was raised in Christian Science and I have not come across anything they do not have in common with the Course. Christian Science believes that evil spirits do not exist, and that there is nothing other than God's power. It says we create in our minds, and anything that is not absolute is not real. Although Christian Science does not use the same terminology as the Course does, it, too, says this is a illusion.
A: As we discussed in Question #413, angels in A Course in Miracles are regarded as extensions of God's Thought. In this sense, they are symbols of the light and protection of God that always surrounds us, since in truth we never left Him (T.18.VI.10:6; W.pII.264.h) . If we are too afraid of that level of our Identity, our minds would translate the experience of formless Love into form, and one form might be angelic beings or entities. But the form is not the reality. The idea would be to relate to what they symbolize, and then go beyond that to the Source, which is always the Love that transcends anything of form.
This same kind of thinking would apply to the perception of an evil presence. We are so heavily bound to form that we immediately translate thoughts into form: “Everything you recognize you identify with externals, something outside itself. You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognize” (T.18.VIII.1:6,7) . The core of the ego is hatred and murder, and sometimes that can be experienced as an evil presence; but the Course helps us by teaching us not to be afraid of it, for it has no reality other than what we give to it -- coming from our guilt and fear over believing we destroyed God in order to have our own existence.
About Christian Science . . . As we discussed in Questions #372 and #512, there are parallels on the metaphysical level of teachings between Christian Science and A Course in Miracles ; but there are significant differences as well. And of course that does not make one system superior to the other -- just different. One difference is that according to the Course's theory, God knows nothing of the world because it does not exist as something real. As an illusion, it will disappear from our awareness when we let go of our belief in separation. At the level of purpose and practice there are differences as well. A major purpose of Christian Science is the healing of illnesses, with these healings then demonstrating the validity of its principles. The primary focus of the Course's process is the healing of our minds of the guilt that is hidden there. Healing the body is never the goal, although that may be an effect of the mind's healing.
The Course's view of forgiveness also distinguishes it from other paths. We are asked to have the willingness to forgive our brothers for what they did not do (T.17.III.1:5) ; and so a central aspect of one's work with the Course is developing a relationship with Jesus or the Holy Spirit, so that we may turn to Them regularly for help in choosing right-minded perceptions of everything in our lives. The questions cited at the beginning fill in the details of this brief answer. Of most importance, again, is that differences not be turned into judgments of one or the other thought system.
Q #1076: As I have moved along on my forgiveness path, I am obviously becoming less judgmental, less critical, and less fearful. This is not to say that I am by any means free of these things but I sense that my non-verbal energy and body language emit a sense of acceptance and non-judgment to others, both in right-minded moments and generally. What I am amazingly finding, though, is that women are less attracted to me this way. I guess what I am asking you is: "Is it possible that some people will not like us when we seem less judgmental?" Can you explain, what seems to me to be a fascinating psychological concept: that some people will be turned off and threatened when we are not judgmental. I thought that a Teacher of God was supposed to teach messages of hope and acceptance.
A: It may be helpful to remember that A Course in Miracles does not ask that we not have judgments. Jesus tells us not to judge because we cannot judge (W.p.I.154.4) . What we call judgment, critical or otherwise, is perception; and we are perceiving all the time: “ Perception is a continual process of accepting and rejecting, organizing and reorganizing, shifting and changing. Evaluation is an essential part of perception, because judgments are necessary in order to select” (T.3.V.7:7,8). That is because the mind's decision to believe in separation results in guilt that is projected out and experienced in the world in the form of separation between one's self and everybody else. Whether the “other” is perceived negatively or positively does not matter. In fact, the ego goes to great lengths to refine its distinctions between those considered to be friend or foe, desirable or undesirable, attractive or unattractive. We comply with the guidelines of the Course's mind training by learning to recognize these “judgments” in every interaction, rather than trying to be without them. It is possible to act quite normal while monitoring the mind in this way. Indeed, it is normal to have judgments.
What makes this Course simple, albeit not easy, is the single function we are given, which is to look honestly at whatever speck of darkness still remains to block the full awareness of love's presence. That is all we are required to do. Whatever else has previously been accomplished in letting go of judgment remains safe in the hands of the Holy Spirit. It is not meant to be used as a means to establish differences between oneself and others. The only thing we are asked to do when we find ourselves with someone who is judgmental and critical, is pay attention to our own thoughts of judgment about the person who is judging.
Fortunately, we are not responsible for others' perception of us. When the mind chooses to listen to the ego it can misperceive even the most beautiful reflection of the right mind; e.g., the figure of Jesus and A Course in Miracles . From the perspective of the right mind it does not matter how anyone perceives us. From the wrong mind we are so busy misperceiving ourselves it also does not matter. Again, all we ever need to do is pay attention to any thought that hints (or glares) of separation and difference. People usually do prefer the company of those who share their judgments. To that end, groups of all kinds are organized; many of which involve judgments against those who do not share their values/judgments. This is not surprising, considering the ingenious separative devices of the ego thought system. So there are probably as many women who find a lack of criticism attractive as there are who don't. While on the level of form you follow the shifting flow of attraction and attractiveness, the goal of practicing the principles of the Course in every relationship remains unaltered. And that is all that matters. In this regard we may slightly paraphrase what Jesus tells us: Forget not that the healing of God's Son is all [a relationship] is for (T.24.VI.4:1) .
Q #1077: I have been watching my thoughts recently and now it seems like they are almost thinking themselves -- almost like they have nothing to do with me. They just run on, and when I remember I try to watch them: i.e., I am not thinking them at all; they are just happening inside me. They just appear, though on the whole they are quite negative and I still often identify with them and get sucked back into them. And I still see myself as a body having these separate thoughts which I witness rather than a mind witnessing them. Though it is obvious that many of these thoughts relate to the body and influence the way the body feels and what it/I want to do. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj said that all the personality is, is a stream of memory. That's what it seems to me from watching the thoughts arising in me, but I still see them as me.
A: Our work with A Course in Miracles is aimed at getting us back to full awareness of ourselves as decision-making minds so that we can see clearly that we are always choosing between one of two thoughts: that of the ego or that of the Holy Spirit. The seeming endless stream of thoughts we experience are really variations of these two fundamental thoughts. That is why Jesus places such emphasis on the content of our thinking, and asks us to learn to place less stress on the forms in our lives. As you watch your thoughts, thus, you can also acknowledge -- being careful not to judge yourself -- that you are choosing to identify with a separate bodily self, a special bodily self, a body that lives in time and space, a fearful bodily self, etc. The you that is making this choice cannot be the body.
Then what should come up very quickly is why you, as a mind, would choose to identify with the body. Your thinking, thus, would shift to purpose : there must be a purpose the body is serving that keeps you so rooted in it. But because we are so heavily defended against seeing ourselves as minds, this process of moving from body to mind can take quite some time. It does not happen overnight. And in his characteristic gentleness, Jesus tells us that we do not have to let go of this identification for more than an instant: “You are not asked to let this happen for more than an instant, yet it is in this instant that the miracle of Atonement happens. Afterwards you will see the body again, but never quite the same” (T.18.VII.2:3,4) .
Concentrating on the purpose the body serves thus will help you move along in the process of disidentifying with it. It was made by our self-serving ego to convince us that we are indeed separate, but are not responsible for that, as evidenced by the “innocent victim” experiences that pervade our lives. As you practice seeing that dynamic in operation in your daily life, you can recall that the body can serve a different purpose by your choosing Jesus instead of the ego as your teacher. You then will use the body to learn more about the interests we all share in common. In your practice of this, you will gradually be shifting your identification from your body to your mind.
Q #1078: I would like to know the specific parts of A Course in Miracles which deals with the metaphor the eagle and the sparrow, because since I read it I have not been able to find it.
A: The following are the two passages where the eagle and sparrow metaphor is used:
Those who choose freedom will experience only its results. Their power is of God, and they will give it only to what God has given, to share with them. Nothing but this can touch them, for they see only this, sharing their power according to the Will of God. And thus their freedom is established and maintained. It is upheld through all temptation to imprison and to be imprisoned. It is of them who learned of freedom that you should ask what freedom is. Ask not the sparrow how the eagle soars, for those with little wings have not accepted for themselves the power to share with you. (T.20.IV.4)
When this power has once been experienced, it is impossible to trust one's own petty strength again. Who would attempt to fly with the tiny wings of a sparrow when the mighty power of an eagle has been given him? And who would place his faith in the shabby offerings of the ego when the gifts of God are laid before him? What is it that induces them to make the shift? (M.4.I.2 )
The “Concordance,” “Glossary Index” and the electronic version of A Course in Miracles are very helpful tools for finding specific passages. You may find these publications listed in our newsletter and catalog. The Concordance and Glossary are also available on our Web site with a 10% discount. The Concordance lists every word found in the Course, while the Glossary defines the important terms used in the Course and references where they are found. The electronic version of the Course has a search feature that allows you to find any word or phrase.