Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 2/21/2007

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1099 How do I go beyond hating God for creating me?
Q #1100 Can physical pain really keep us from peace?
Q #1101 Can God be reached directly?
#1102 Is the "tiny mad idea" always going to be a danger?

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Q #1099: How do I go beyond hating God for creating me? That of course is my ego speaking or my self. Does my Self experience gratitude to God for creation? I have come to the realization that I have been a hypocrite all my life and am now experiencing my self in the pit of Dante's inferno.

A: That could be a positive step, for self-honesty begins to weaken all the barricades we have erected to block the truth. The way out is to realize that “the pit of Dante's inferno” is also part of the hypocrisy of maintaining that you are not as God created you. You have helped yourself by distinguishing between self and Self. Now you must accept that only one is your true reality, the other made up. And it's not hard to guess which is true and which false, especially if you are a student of A Course in Miracles . What you have to emphasize is that only one is real. Jesus talks about this very movingly in Lesson 93: “You are what God created or what you made. One Self is true; the other is not there. Try to experience the unity of your one Self. Try to appreciate Its Holiness and the love from which It was created. Try not to interfere with the Self which God created as you, by hiding its majesty behind the tiny idols of evil and sinfulness you have made to replace It. Let It come into Its Own. Here you are; This is You. And light and joy and peace abide in you because this is so” (W.pI.93.9) .

You perhaps hate yourself as a decision-making mind for choosing to be other than this Self God created in the image of His own Holiness and Love. The projection of self-hatred usually lands on God's doorstep! But when you realize that this mistaken choice had no effect (except in your own deluded mind), and it has not changed your true Self, there is nothing to upset over. To be upset and self-condemning implies that the mistake is not simply a mistake that has already been corrected, but rather is a sin that has had a real effect. But this is what we are constantly advised not to do: make the error real. That it is difficult to get past the horrendous self-image we harbor within has not escaped Jesus' attention: “These are beliefs so firmly fixed that it is difficult to help you see that they are based on nothing” (W.pI.93.2:1) . Suppose Dante had realized that sin has no foundation in reality?

Interestingly, Jesus uses the word arrogance in reference to our negativity toward ourselves. To cite one example, in Lesson 152, which also stresses the unchangeableness of our Identity, he instructs us: “We lay aside the arrogance which says that we are sinners, guilty and afraid, ashamed of what we are; and lift our hearts in true humility instead to Him Who has created us immaculate, like to Himself in power and in love” (W.152.9:4) .

In conclusion, it is helpful to look squarely at whatever self-hatred and resentment may be present, but only so that you can bring into the light of forgiveness what you have denied and kept in darkness. Forgiveness means accepting that what you thought you made to replace God's creation is totally illusory and will fade into meaninglessness when you no longer have a need to see it as real. Father, Your Holiness is mine. Your Love created me, and made my sinlessness forever part of You. I have no guilt or sin in me, for there is none in You” (W.pII.235.2) . These are the happy thoughts of those who have walked the path, not with Virgil into the Inferno aflame with sin, but with Jesus into the light and peace of forgiveness, aflame with love.

Q #1100: Kenneth says in the tape series "Learning from the Holy Spirit" that "as long as you're in physical pain, there is no know way you're going to get quiet in your mind." But isn't the physical or mental pain what we need to bring to the Holy Spirit? Isn't that saying that there is a hierarchy of miracles? If we can only experience peace when there is no pain how are we ever going to rid ourselves of it? That's like saying that someone could keep us away from the peace of God by inflicting physical pain on us. I would think that even if someone is in pain that that would be the doorway to release.

A: From one point of view, you are correct. A Course in Miracles comes on two levels: one of absolute truth, and one of right-mindedness and wrong-mindedness within the illusion. From Level One: “If you have the gift of everything, can loss be real? Can pain be part of peace, or grief of joy? Can fear and sickness enter in a mind where love and perfect holiness abide? Truth must be all-inclusive, if it be the truth at all. Accept no opposites and no exceptions, for to do so is to contradict the truth entirely” (T.152.2) . Echoing this in the workbook, Jesus tells us, “Pain is illusion; joy, reality. Pain is but sleep; joy is awakening. Pain is deception; joy alone is truth” (W.pI.190.10:4,5,6) . On this level, then, pain and peace are mutually exclusive states.

Level Two refers to the teaching in the Course that addresses us who believe the world and bodies are real ( we are real). On this level, we are taught that the Holy Spirit can use anything we (as decision-making minds) made to keep our separation from God intact, to help us reverse our direction and walk the path of forgiveness back to God (T.25.VI.4:1,2) . Since we believe our experiences as individuals are real, Jesus meets us there, but only so that he can teach us that we have chosen the wrong teacher and that the consequences have been horrendous. Once we see that, and realize we can choose differently, then our experiences take on a whole new meaning and purpose. In this sense, on this level, pain can be seen as part of the curriculum in our classroom, and that we can use it to learn the ego's lessons or Jesus' lessons, depending on which one we have chosen as our teacher. If Jesus is our teacher, we can learn that the inner peace that is our inheritance as God's creation is forever unaffected by anything of the world or the body. This corrects the world's thinking that peace of mind is dependent on external circumstances and conditions: I can't be peaceful as long as my child is in danger, or my spouse is ill, or I have nowhere to live because my house was destroyed, etc.

So, yes, you bring your pain to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, but for the purpose of seeing it differently, which means learning that your true Self remains unaffected by bodily states, even when the pain is mental or emotional. This is a very difficult lesson for us, because the ego made pain to banish awareness of our true Identity, as we are taught in “Sickness is a defense against the truth” (W.pI.136.7) . It is true that you can peaceful while you are in pain. This is the approach of the Stoicism, both ancient and modern -- a kind of acceptance or resignation that this is the reality for you right now. But that is not the peace of God spoken of by Jesus in this course. The miracle always entails shifting from body awareness to mind awareness, realizing that all experiences flow from the mind's decision to identify either with the ego thought system or the Holy Spirit's thought system. Identifying with the Holy Spirit's thought system leads ultimately to the undoing of the cause of all pain. Peace alone remains.

Q #1101: Can you describe the experience referred to in A Course in Miracles that is the reason certain people know there is a God and that the Course is true?

A: You perhaps are referring to the experience described in the section in the manual called, “Can God Be Reached Directly?” (M.26) , where Jesus talks about those who have reached the top of the ladder and no longer have any ego. These are the “Teachers of teachers,” or those in the real world. Although there are many ways of reaching that egoless state, the means offered in A Course in Miracles is the practice of forgiveness. Forgiveness is thus the path to certainty: “Do you want happiness, a quiet mind, a certainty of purpose, and a sense of worth and beauty that transcends the world? . . . . All this forgiveness offers you and more” (W.pI.122.1:4; 2:1) . As you generalize forgiveness so that no area or relationship in your life remains untouched by it, your experience of who you are and who everyone else is must change. Forgiveness orients you away from specialness and separation and toward all-inclusiveness and oneness. This sparks the return to your awareness of “your intense and burning love of God, and His for you” (T.13.III.2:8) .

In the section in the text called “The Forgiven World,” Jesus speaks in glowing terms of what we will experience in the real world, “attained simply by the complete forgiveness of the old, the world you see without forgiveness. . . . Forgiveness literally transforms vision, and lets you see the real world reaching quietly and gently across chaos, removing all illusions that had twisted your perception and fixed it on the past. . . . From the forgiven world the Son of God is lifted easily into his home. And there he knows that he has always rested there in peace” (T.17.II.5:1; 6:2; 7:1,2) .

Q #1102: Is the “tiny, mad idea” always there waiting to be taken seriously? It sounds foolish, but if I were ever to return home, I would think I would never make that mistake again, but how can I return to where I never left? God, according to A Course in Miracles , is not aware of our separation in metaphoric terms; but is He aware of our choice to separate in response to the mad idea?

A: If you accept the strict metaphysical non-dualism of the Course, you would have to conclude that God could not be aware of our response to the tiny, mad idea of separation. If He were aware of it, that would mean there are two opposing real states: God and a state apart from Him. That puts you right into dualism, the prevailing view of reality in the world's theologies and philosophies, but not that of A Course in Miracles .

Within the illusion , the tiny, mad idea is always present, and we are always responding to it in one of two ways: either by remembering to smile gently at it (the Holy Spirit's response [T.27.VIII.9] ), or by taking it seriously (the ego's response) and then living out the consequent defenses of denial and projection. That we have done the ego's bidding in this way is behind Jesus' pointed description of our lives: “Each day, and every minute in each day, and every instant that each minute holds, you but relive the single instant when the time of terror took the place of love. And so you die each day to live again, until you cross the gap between the past and the present, which is not a gap at all. Such is each life; a seeming interval from birth to death and on to life again, a repetition of an instant gone by long ago that cannot be relived. And all of time is but the mad belief that what is over is still here and now” (T.26.V.13:1) . This parallels his earlier description: “Each day, each hour and minute, even each second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection; between the ego and the Holy Spirit. The ego is the choice for guilt; the Holy Spirit the choice for guiltlessness. The power of decision is all that is yours. What you can decide between is fixed, because there are no alternatives except truth and illusion” (T.14.III.4:1,2,3,4) .

These passages make it clear that we can correct our mistaken choice at any instant of any day in our lives. To make that choice without reservation is our return home (with a brief stop in the real world, of course). Therefore, our only focus should be the present instant and the choice we are making in that instant. Our release from illusions lies only there. By concentrating your attention there, the questions about what will happen later will eventually fade away entirely in the realization that the tiny, mad idea never happened, and so it can never be chosen again.