Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles:4/04/2007

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1120 Why must letting go of guilt be followed by a "retreat into fear"?.
Q #1121 I seem to be able to heal people using Reiki. How can this be reconciled with the thought system of the Course ?
Q #1122 What does the Manual for Teachers mean by "developing psychic abilities"?
Q #1123 What is the connection between the teachings of the Course and many "New Age" teachings?

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Q #1120: Jesus says in Psychotherapy: Purpose and Practice that the process of giving up our guilt cannot be done “without some pain” and that the merciful nature of this letting go may be followed by a “deep retreat into fear, etc.” I have recently gotten over a big mountain on my path and work with the Course and definitely experienced what Jesus describes in those passages. But why do we have to go through this? Is there any way around this painful process? I am motivated to keep going by the holy instants that I achieve, but I get scared of the process even though I intellectually know that it is going to work. Is there any way around this whole process? I don't know how much more I can take. Can I make a deal with my ego to leave me alone?

A: Making a deal with the ego is what got us into trouble in the first place. Furthermore, it didn't work. The ego told us it would leave us alone if we would just stay out of our minds and seek for peace and happiness in its promised land -- the world. According to this plan, the body would meet all our needs. As it turns out, the deal caused the guilt as well as the painful process of giving it up. The only way out is calling off all deals and deciding to stick with the alternative Jesus teaches in A Course in Miracles : forgiveness.    

What makes the process of forgiveness painful is resistance. In fact, we could restate the phrase you quote from the Psychotherapy pamphlet to read: giving up guilt cannot be done “without some resistance ,” which is a mild understatement. Since the body is the home of guilt, the mind that identifies with the body will find it very painful to undo guilt because it thinks it will be undone. The practice of forgiveness rests on the fact that the mind, not the body, is the decision maker, and, as Jesus tells us in the manual: “The resistance to recognizing this is enormous [and therefore painful] , because the existence of the world as you perceive it depends on the body being the decision maker” (M.5II.1:7).

Clearly we cannot avoid pain/resistance since its source is the mind that continues to choose to identify with the package deal of ego, body, and guilt. In case that is not enough, the ego throws another trap into the bargain by telling us that deciding for God is fearful and will somehow cause pain. The mind now finds itself between a rock and a hard place and inevitably becomes dazed by this dilemma, just as with the body-identity dilemma described in the text (T.4.V.4) . The pain and confusion of the ego's trap work splendidly to achieve its goal of making the Atonement seem unattainable. Mission accomplished.

The kind and gentle advice Jesus gives us with regard to resistance in “Rules for Decision” applies to all resistance: “Do not fight yourself” (T.30.I.1:7). Trying to starve out the ego or keep it at bay does not work because it has been invited in and has made itself at home. In fact, it now thinks it is master of the house, and the mind, having forgotten its decision to invite in this stranger in the first place, has subjected itself to its rule. To further exacerbate the insanity of this arrangement, the mind decides that what threatens the ego's rule is painful, while happiness is found in preserving its saga of sin, guilt and fear through specialness. Thus, duped by the world's “painful pleasures and … tragic joys”(W.131.7:1), we no longer know what is good for us and are completely confused about joy and pain. True relief is found only when the mind strikes a “new deal” with itself by accepting its identity as a mind with the power to choose: “It alone decides whether what is seen is real or illusory, desirable or undesirable, pleasurable or painful” (M.8.3:11) . No other deal will work. The ultimate way out is accepting the very simple and direct message at the heart of the Course's teaching: “The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. …Whatever seems to be the cause of any pain and suffering you feel, this is still true” (T.27.VIII.10:1,4). The “secret” lies in recognizing that at every moment we are choosing between the ego and its pain, or the Holy Spirit and His peace. This blows the ego's deal of keeping us out of our minds by returning us to the source that reduces pain, and puts the Atonement that will ultimately end all pain, within reach.

Q #1121: I am a practitioner of Reiki in Brazil. Reiki uses the life force energy that flows through us, and it is administered by “laying on hands.” It's universal energy that comes from God. It's used to heal any kind of problem we have, be it mental or even physical problems. I have read that Jesus used Reiki to heal people. I strongly believe that all of us have this tremendous power inside but we don't know how to use it.

I understand A Course in Miracles to be saying that our focus should not be on what we do in our lives, but on learning to understand our minds. So it doesn't matter what we do. What really is important is how our minds look at the world and the people as a whole. My question concerns the fact that I was channeled with some kind of energy that flows through me and suddenly I am doing things that I couldn't do in the past, even healing people who have physical problems. How would you explain this to me? How do you explain those people who heal others with different beliefs, even different spiritual beliefs? What's the connection between Reiki and the Course?

A: The fact that Reiki involves a technique for channeling energy through the body, no matter what the source of the energy is perceived to be, means, from the Course's perspective, that it is a form of magic. Now magic, as the Course uses it, is not a pejorative term. It simply means that the effort to bring about desired changes is occurring at the level of effect, that is, through energy forces and the body, rather than at the level of cause, that is, the mind. This must be the case because the energy is operating within a spatio-temporal framework, that is, from one body to another at a specific time when those two bodies are in physical proximity, and then through the body of the one being treated.

The Course has a different metaphysical foundation from Reiki, and would not consider anything that can be directed through the body to be divine, or from God. The world of spirit and the world of the body are two mutually exclusive realms, only one of which is real, according to the Course (T.31.VI.1) . The Course's “technique” is forgiveness, which seeks to bring about changes at the level of mind, not at the level of the body. For this reason, while the Course takes no position on this, it would be more consistent with the Course's teachings to see the Jesus of two thousand years ago as healing through the principles of forgiveness, which means through reminding others of the power of their own minds to make a different choice about the ego and its effects, including the body, looking on all of it without judgment and without guilt -- that is the true means of healing, according to the Course.

How then does Reiki produce its effects, including your own personal experience of being changed by your attunement with Reiki energy so that you can apparently produce changes in others? There are mutually and nearly universally agreed upon laws of the illusory physical and energetic universes, operating within the ego system, that all split minds share, whether individual minds are conscious of those laws or not. An obvious one is the law of gravity. These laws receive their power from the collective belief of the Sonship. Although made by the ego mind, they are neutral in themselves and can be used for either ego purposes or purposes of healing, that is, to reinforce our belief in the reality of separation and differences, or to allow us to begin to heal the guilt and thoughts of attack in our mind.

Many other spiritual teachings describe aspects of energetic fields within and surrounding the body that are not visible to the naked eye that can be modified and directed by those who are tuned in to them. Yet all of these subtler energies remain a part of the ego thought system, and manipulations can have no effect unless on some level, in most cases unconscious, the minds in relationship have agreed to be affected by those apparent manipulations. Always, behind any observed effect, there is a belief at the mind level, whether the individual is aware of that belief or not. Much of the ego's belief system remains at an unconscious level so we can remain unaware of our own agreement to seem to be affected by forces outside ourselves. If we allowed ourselves to recognize and acknowledge that inner decision, we could no longer see ourselves as victims of anything outside ourselves again.

Reiki does share some similarity with the Course at the level of content, since it emphasizes that the individual practitioner does not direct the healing process nor decide what problems to address. And so the practitioner is considered to be an instrument of healing, but certainly not its source. In fact, the practitioner as well as the patient is considered in need of healing and benefits through willingness to be a channel. As with all things of this world, Reiki has the power to direct the mind to an awareness of something beyond ourselves, and it does point symbolically to a seemingly invisible power beyond all appearances that intends only good for all.

Q #1122: The manual for teachers of A Course in Miracles talks about developing "psychic abilities" from spiritual practice. What would be "'psychic' powers that are clearly in line with this course," as mentioned in section 25? I thought, ultimately, psychic powers weren't desirable and only a side-effect of "walking the path"?

A: As the section you refer to suggests, anything that demonstrates that “communication is not limited to the small range of channels the world recognizes” (M.25.2:2) can be helpful to the process of remembering Who we are and would be in line with the Course's teachings on the nature of mind and the world. It is in the ego's best interests and one aspect of its grand deception to maintain the belief that bodies and brains are necessary for communication. In contrast, the Course teaches that all minds are joined and communication occurs only at the level of mind/ thought ( e.g., T.15.IV.6:5,6,7;T.15.VI.8; T.15.XI.7; T.18.VI.8:3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11) .

Abilities that suggest there is something beyond the world of the five senses can lead to a questioning of the world's fundamental assumptions -- in particular, that we are bodies at the mercy of forces outside our control ( e.g., W.pI.151.2,3,4,5) . This opens the door to the recognition that there is something that is not limited by the basic “laws” of time and space (T.18.VIII.2:1,2; W.p2.4:2) . The ego resists this recognition, for that begins a process that can lead to the recognition that we have a mind that has the power of choice and is responsible for how we seem to experience our world.

The only reason psychic powers could be considered undesirable has nothing to do with the abilities themselves but only with the purpose they are given -- “the only important consideration is how they are used” (M.25.3:4) . For if abilities are developed that transcend communication limited to the five senses, the ego's defense is to use them for displays of individual specialness, “taking them as ends in themselves” which “ will delay progress,” as the section you refer to emphasizes (M.25.3:5) . But if the powers are given to the Holy Spirit for His purpose of undoing our investment in the ego and its litany of limitations, they “can be very helpful... [and] valuable teaching aids” (M.25.3:1,2) .

You may wish to review several answers already posted that address the issue of psychic abilities, Question #589 in particular, for it explores in depth the issue of the right-minded use of psychic powers ( see also Questions #167, #497, #623, #644, and #682 ) .

Q #1123: I have difficulty seeing any connection between teachings about chakra systems, channeling and many other "truths" in New Age books, and the teachings I find in A Course in Miracles . How come?

A: You're having difficulty seeing any connection because there isn't any!

Although the Course comes within an ego framework (C.in.3:1) , its teachings come from a thought system and a Source completely beyond the ego, with its purpose to help the mind transcend the ego thought system and the resulting false self. Most New Age teachings are geared towards helping one function with greater ease and happiness within the ego thought system of separation and individuality, although at the same time they may reflect certain aspects of right- minded thinking, such as the value of releasing judgments.