Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 2/14/2007
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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1096(i) Why does the Course say "God gave to all illusions ... another purpose"?
Q #1096(ii) "Nothing is by accident." What does this mean?
Q #1096(iii) If Jesus is an illusion, who spoke to Helen?
Q #1096(iv) Are "we" really "we" or just one?
Q #1097 What is love?
Q #1098 Is being an "observer" the same as "mindfulness" or "choiceless awareness"?
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Q #1096(i): (The following questions were posed by the same person). If God doesn't know about our illusions, why does the Course say, "God gave to all illusions that were made another purpose . . ." (T.26.VII.15:3)?
A: Whenever Jesus speaks about God being involved in the illusion, his meaning is not to be taken literally. It is the content of Jesus' message that is important, not its form. (See our answer to #4 below.) He goes to great lengths to re-orient the thinking of those who have come to think of God as judgmental and demanding punishment for our sins. In the passage you quote, what Jesus wants us to know is that although we have used the world and our lives for ego purposes, we can undo all that by turning to our inner Teacher (Jesus or the Holy Spirit) and asking for help to use the world and our lives for His purpose of healing our minds of the belief in separation. That choice of the miracle is always available to us -- at every instant in every experience. That is what Jesus is reminding us of in your quoted statement. The emphasis is not on God, but on the shift in purpose that we can make whenever we so choose. Without this alternative purpose, we would be stuck with the ego's version of salvation, which is atonement through sacrifice: our sin of separating from God is real, and now we need to pay Him back for what we did. Jesus is correcting that type of thinking.
Q #1096(ii): Frequently one hears, "you are where you are supposed to be and nothing is by accident." Is this because there is some divine script written by our right mind, or is it that anything that happens even at random can be turned into an opportunity?
A: We have discussed this issue in Questions #266 and #409, which provide the background for this brief answer. A Course in Miracles talks about a script, but it is one we have written; and therefore it is not a divine script. Talking about a script is a metaphorical way of describing what happened after the Son believed he had successfully separated from the Oneness of Heaven. This separation led to further and further fragmentation, so that Oneness became a totally foreign concept to us. Every conceivable form of separation spun out in that original instant, and that is what constitutes the “script.” Our belief that time is real complicates this, which is precisely the ego's intention in adding linear time to its plan to keep us mindless. Jesus needs to teach us therefore that “we but take a journey that is over . . . . we but see the journey from the point at which it ended, looking back on it, imagining we make it once again; reviewing mentally what has gone by” (W.pI.158.3:6; 4:5) . Nothing is by accident, thus.
The Course teaches that another script unfolded at the same time, and that is the Holy Spirit's correction of the ego's script. The Holy Spirit's “script” (another metaphor) is in our right minds, awaiting only our choice to identify with it. Our decision-making minds (not our brains) are always choosing to uphold the separation or to undo it. Should we decide that being separate is no longer worth it, we would be choosing to be guided by the Holy Spirit, which means shifting the purpose of our everyday interactions to blend with the Holy Spirit's goal. What we originally made to hurt ourselves (by attacking our true Self), now becomes the means of healing our minds: “The Son of God can make no choice the Holy Spirit cannot employ on his behalf, and not against himself” (T.25.VI.7:5) . This is what makes the Course so practical -- at any instant, regardless of what we are doing, we can choose to shift from the ego's purpose to the Holy Spirit's purpose. Any experience and any situation, therefore, can be a means of healing our minds .
Q #1096(iii): If Jesus is really an illusion of ours, then who spoke to Helen?
A: This intriguing and important question about Helen and Jesus is discussed in depth in Kenneth's Absence from Felicity, Chapter 17, “Helen and Jesus: The Illusion and the Reality.” The importance of this theme led Kenneth to present two workshops that discuss it from different points of view. (See our publications: “Jesus: Symbol and Reality” and “Jesus: Fantasy or Truth?.”) We mention this only so that you will realize that your question deserves an answer that the limited space of this forum does not allow. Briefly, however. . . As long as you have the illusion that you are an individual, you will experience Jesus as an individual, too. The very fact that you perceive yourself as an individual (as we all perceive ourselves) means that you have made a decision to be apart from perfect Love. So if you decide to undo that separation, you will allow love back into your awareness, but only in a form that you can relate to as an individual, while you still think you are an individual. Jesus, thus, would be that form to you, as he was to Helen when she perceived herself as a separate individual. When you completely identify with your right mind, however, then your mind will not limit love to a specific form. In reality, love is always abstract and formless; it is a perfect Oneness that knows not of separation and individuality. In your right mind, you know that individuality is not real, and that you are not really an individual person. Your experience of love would change accordingly. In other words, as you undo the separation in your mind, you likewise undo your perception (misperception) of love as limited. In the end, which is really the beginning that never changed, there is only the perfect oneness of Love. In reality, thus, both Helen and Jesus were illusory. She had experiences on that level where she transcended both Helen and Jesus, which Kenneth relates in his book.
Q #1096(iv): Are "we" really "we" the Son of God, or just one? Did the Son of God splinter into billions of parts in this illusion? These questions represent a basic problem I am having trying to understand the Course. Metaphysical explanations, metaphors, and plain logic get all mixed up in my mind. I read the course and take something literally, get confused, and then find out that it wasn't what was really meant.
A: According to A Course in Miracles , reality is non-dualistic, which means there can be no legitimate sense of “we.” The Son of God is one, and this Son is not separate in any way from His Father: “What He creates is not apart from Him, and nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him” (W.pI.132.12:4) . All sense of separation -- one being is not another being -- is illusory; words are meaningless on that level of oneness (W.pI.169.5:4) .
Most students experience the same difficulty you do with the Course's language. Many questions similar to yours have been submitted; see our answers to #72 and #566, for example. What will help, as we mentioned in our answer to your first question, is to distinguish between the content of Jesus' message and the form in which it is expressed. If you are clear about the content, the form in which it comes will diminish as a problem. He discusses this in, among other places, his introduction to the clarification of terms at the end of the manual for teachers: “This course remains within the ego framework, where it is needed. It is not concerned with what is beyond all error [non-duality] 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. . . . The course is simple . It has one function and one goal. Only in that does it remain wholly consistent because only that can be consistent” (C.in.3:1,8,9,10) .
It takes time to develop this clarity about the Course's simple content, but that is because of our fear of its implications. That's why, at the beginning of The Song of Prayer , Jesus talks about our spiritual journey as a ladder with many rungs. We will understand his teachings one way on the bottom rungs, and quite differently on the upper rungs. That is our problem not his, because it was our decision to shield ourselves from the truth, having concluded it was a threat to our very existence as individuals. We thus replaced the truth with our own substitute, which made duality reality, and sent us to the bottom of the ladder. Therefore, we will climb back up that ladder slowly and tentatively, until we realize we have been totally wrong about everything we have perceived about ourselves and the world, and are thankful we have been wrong.
Kenneth has devoted some 60 pages to this subject in Chapters 2 and 3 of All Are Called , Volume 2 of The Message of A Course in Miracles. He also presented a workshop on it, which is now one of our audio publications: “Duality As Metaphor in A Course in Miracles . ”
Q #1097: What is love? A Course in Miracles says we can't understand love on this side of the fence and that we must only seek and find all the blocks to love's presence that we have built within us (T.16.IV.6:1). So, what is love?
A: The situation is this: Our experience is that we are individuals living in a finite, physical universe. But we experience that as our reality only to the extent that we are (in the present) choosing to be separate from our true Identity in God, Who is Love. How, then, can we understand what Love is if we are choosing not to be part of it? That, in essence, is why our spiritual journey must be centered on identifying and then undoing the blocks we have constructed and are upholding in the present to keep ourselves apart from Love.
Lesson 67 tells us that love created us like itself and that “if love created you like itself, this Self must be in you. And somewhere in your mind, It is there for you to find” (W.pI.67.3:2,3) . Yet nowhere in that lesson does Jesus define love , but he does talk about our need to undo what we have put in its place. In the very next lesson, Jesus teaches us about the cause of the almost irreparable damage we have done to our minds: grievances. “You who were created by love like itself can hold no grievances and know your Self. . . . For he who holds grievances denies he was created by love, and his Creator has become fearful to him in his dream of hate” (W.pI.67.1:1; 2:4) . So if we deny love, which holding grievances does, how can we know love? Yet, how can we fail to know it when we have totally forgiven everyone? This is similar to Jesus telling us that we can never understand the “concept of a Oneness joined as One” as long as we think we are separate from one another (T.25.I.7:1) .
Again in Lesson 127, Jesus helps us realize the consequences of seeing our identity in the context of bodily existence in the world: “What the world believes was made to hide love's meaning, and to keep it dark and secret. There is not one principle the world upholds but violates the truth of what love is, and what you are as well” (W.pI.127.5:2,3). It is not difficult to discern from this what we have to do to restore our awareness of love's meaning to our minds; and that is what Jesus spells out for us in this lesson, remarking that “there is no better use for time than this” (W.pI.127.7:2) . We ourselves (as decision-making minds) are the authors of all the values we find in the world, and our motivation in producing them was to replace what we disowned (our Self). Now we need but reverse that and allow God's gifts to replace what we made (W.pI.127.8:4) . Love, then, will be our only experience, because love is the only reality in our minds.
In the end, as Jesus states at the beginning, love's meaning cannot be taught or learned because it is what we are. He says he can teach us to remember who we truly are, and adds, “No course whose purpose is to teach you [this] . . . could fail to emphasize that there can never be a difference in what you really are and what love is. Love's meaning is your own, and shared by God Himself. For what you are is what He is” (W.pI.127.4:1,2) . Our lives must therefore be dedicated to uncovering our self-deception and the means we use to sustain that deception. With that undone, love's meaning will blaze in our minds and all questioning simply dissolve into nothingness.
Jesus speaks of love and oneness in the same breath, and obviously they are equated, as expressed in this lesson as well as other places: “As it is one itself, it looks on all as one. Its meaning lies in oneness. And it must elude the mind that thinks of it as partial or in part [that is, as special love] ” (W.pI.127.3:2,3) . Love is all-inclusive and extends itself to infinity without limit. Another indication of what our curriculum must be: the undoing of all forms of separation -- judgment, special love (exclusion), separate interests -- and asking Jesus or the Holy Spirit for help in focusing our lives now on learning to see everyone as sharing the same purpose and the same identity. Of such is the function of forgiveness and the miracle. “Forgiveness is an earthly form of love, which as it is in Heaven has no form. Yet what is needed here is given here as it is needed. In this form you can fulfill your function even here, although what love will mean to you when formlessness has been restored to you is great still” (W.pI.186.14:2,3,4) .
Q #1098: When Krishnamurti talks about choiceless awareness or when Buddhists speak about mindfulness, are they referring to the process of being in the mode of the observer which you talk about in your tapes? I think I heard you say that the decision maker and the observer are the same thing. Is there a difference between the two? A Course in Miracles says that forgiveness merely looks and waits and judges not (W.pI.1.1:3). That sounds like a definition of choiceless awareness and/or mindfulness. So forgiveness, being in the mode of the observer, choiceless awareness, mindfulness are the same? How does the decision maker fit in? It obviously decides which of the two voices to follow, the ego or the Holy Spirit. When one looks with Jesus is that being the observer or the decision maker?
A: In general, you could say that what Krishnamurti and the Buddhists are speaking of is roughly similar to the process the Course talks about. When the decision maker is in its right mind, it is an observer (i.e., looking with Jesus). This is also the state of mindfulness, in that the decision maker is no longer denying its true nature as mind, which it did as part of its plan to preserve its separated state, but not be held responsible for it. Being mind-less (i.e., believing we are bodies) cuts off any possibility of the decision maker reconsidering its original decision to believe it has truly separated from God and now has its own authentic existence. That is why a main objective of the Course is to return us to the state of mindfulness. .