Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles:4/11/2007

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1124 How can I see attacks on me from the Holy Spirit's point of view ?.
Q #1125 How can "mediums" be reconciled with the thought system of the Course ?
Q #1126 To what extent need I explore my ego-based fears?

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Q #1124: I have heard you say that it is important to be true to the classrooms we have chosen for ourselves. I understand this to mean that relationships initially chosen to cause us to be guilty and confused we now can use for the Holy Spirit's purpose of forgiveness. We just need to do our best in these roles. But in Questions #225 and #405 you say that if we can let go of our egos for a instant, anything we do with the Holy Spirit will be the right thing. I have a problem with that. For example, if I let someone attack me, aren't you implying that that would be inappropriate and not responsible to the classroom I have chosen? But at the same time, if I let that person attack me, as long as I am with the Holy Spirit, it would be the right thing to do. In question #3 you say it's important to do the best we can in our classrooms; yet at the end you say that in the end it does not matter what you do. The only thing that matters is whom you do it with. That's like saying something is important and then saying it's not. It is comforting for me to know that no matter what, as long as you choose the Holy Spirit and against guilt that is the right choice. So what is the answer?

A: The confusion you express is common to many students of A Course in Miracles . The meaning of the principle that when you are joined with the Holy Spirit, anything you do would be loving has been badly misunderstood and misapplied, with tragic results in many cases, as mentioned in the earlier questions you referred to. When the Holy Spirit is your Teacher, your perception would be the same as His, meaning you would see only through the eyes of love, and your actions would flow from love. That automatically means that you would never do anything that would harm yourself or anyone else on any level whatsoever. To allow yourself to be attacked is to choose to be attacked. It is hard to imagine that choice flowing from love, as both you and the attacker are being harmed. In extreme cases, the choice could come from love, but it would not be experienced as an attack. This is what Jesus refers to in speaking of the crucifixion: “I was persecuted as the world judges, and did not share this evaluation for myself. And because I did not share it, I did not strengthen it” (T.6.I.5:3,4) . He is trying to raise us to that spiritually advanced level through his teaching and mind-training exercises. But that is an ego-free level at the top of the spiritual ladder, where there is no longer any identification with the body. Until we no longer identify with the body, it is almost impossible to avoid taking attacks personally, as attacks.

You can relate to this perhaps in terms of the common experience of parents dealing with the attack of an angry child. If my child is having a temper tantrum and starts to kick and scratch me, I would stop him, because it would not be loving to him to let him continue attacking, and I would be irresponsible as a parent to permit him to do whatever he wants to me. If I have chosen the Holy Spirit as my Teacher, I will not perceive my child's actions as an attack and therefore not take them personally; my restraining him will thus not be motivated by anger, fear, or vindictiveness. My firmness with him will be the most loving thing to do for both of us, reflecting my choice to join with the Holy Spirit.

Now, I could have chosen to become a parent for ego reasons, but if I shift from the ego to the Holy Spirit as my Teacher, He will use this exact same role to teach me different lessons. Instead of the ego's gifts of specialness that I may have been attracted to originally, I can now accept the Holy Spirit's gifts of oneness; that is, my purpose now is to use my role as a parent to learn that my child and I share the same interests: we both have a right mind, a wrong mind, and a decision- making capacity to choose between them. Both my child and I (as minds) believe we separated from God and are trying to cope with the resulting anguish and pain of sin, guilt, and fear. That is the abiding content. In form, obviously, we are different, and I must respect that and act accordingly. So, even in disciplining him, I can be learning that he and I share the same interests (content). I am being faithful to my classroom -- being a parent -- but I have changed my teacher and am therefore learning different lessons. You can extend these principles to the teacher-student relationship, boss-subordinate relationship, or any other relationship in which authority is involved.

Parenting is not easy. No one would disagree with that, especially parents dealing with rebellious teenagers! But the approach is always the same: seeing your relationship as a classroom with the Holy Spirit as your Teacher, Who is helping you learn how to close the gap of separation that you perceive between you and your teenager. That is the content, and that never changes; and that is the only truly important thing going on in the relationship -- in any relationship. It is not the behavior that is of primary importance; but behavior should not be ignored either. Common sense is a necessary component in this entire process.

The experience of most parents is that the most loving, helpful thing to do with a teenager is not all that clear. That is when you get your ego out of the way -- forgiving yourself for not doing it perfectly (T.18.IV.2:3,4,5) -- and then do what seems right. That may turn out not to be helpful and make the situation worse, or it could turn out to be very helpful. But that is not what matters; what matters is that you chose to listen to the Voice for Love instead of the ego. That is what heals your mind and gradually does away with all the interference and resistance to your unconditional acceptance of love. Your mind is being healed, and that healing extends throughout the Sonship (W.pI.137) . There is no other purpose for our being here (T.24.VI.4) . Having this single-minded purpose will actually help you to function more effectively in your classroom, whatever that may be; for you will become more and more free of internal conflict, and as a result be able to relate to the people in your personal world without the usual ego interferences.

Q #1125: What does A Course in Miracles teach about spiritual verbal communication through mediums? Who talks to us in these communications? In Brazil, people present at Kardec Centers 'receive' messages they say are given by 'spirits' that identify themselves with their real names or a name they give just to have one. There are even many, many books published in Brazil about what they say. I am not a Kardecist and never have been, but Kardec, as well as his books, is well known the world over.

A: Since we are all only split off parts of the one ego self, we are only ever talking to ourselves, no matter who seems to be speaking. And since that self is illusory, all conversations, whether seeming to happen with other physical bodies or with discarnate voices, are simply hallucinations. Now that answer may be the truth, but it is not particularly satisfying from the perspective of where we seem to find ourselves.

While the Course does not address the issue of mediumship specifically, the book's very existence would have to be considered support for the validity and helpfulness of the process, since Helen Schucman viewed Jesus and not herself as the source of the material she wrote down. But she also understood that Jesus did not exist as an entity outside herself, but rather as a presence within her mind that was always available to her, whether or not she was willing to be available to him!

As a point of clarification, the Course uses the word spirit differently from its more common usage, as in the case of spirit mediumship that Kardec researched and explored in the nineteenth century. In the Course, spirit refers to our reality as Christ in the Mind of God, beyond the ego split mind and any sense of individual identity (T.3.V.7:3,4; C.1.1,2,3,4) . Since, as the Course teaches, mind is never inside the body ( e.g., T.28.II.2:8; T.29.I.5;W.pI.72.8; W.pI.96.4:4; W.pI.167.6; W.pI.199.7:2) , spirit as typically used would simply be, from the Course's perspective, any seemingly separate fragment of the ego mind, whether it happens to believe that it is currently incarnated within a body or not. And all communication therefore occurs only between minds, and not between bodies, despite what our experience seems to tell us to the contrary ( see Question #1122 for a more in-depth discussion ) .

If this is understood, it should be apparent that the fact that a message seems to be coming from a discarnate voice in no way assures that the message is reflecting a higher or more healed perspective. Nor does identification with a physical body necessarily preclude more advanced understanding of the true nature of reality and the means for remembering it. It is helpful to recognize that, at the level of content, there are only two possible sources for any message we receive -- the ego or the Holy Spirit -- regardless of where in the world of form it may seem to come from. From the Course's perspective, preoccupation with specifics and differences is a red flag that the ego is the likely source, or is at least a filter that is coloring and distorting the message. Reminders that help us step back from our judgments and recognize what we all share in common are likely to have the Holy Spirit as their Source.

Near the end of the Course, Jesus speaks of the one source behind all messages of healing despite the various forms through which they may seem to be expressed and also explains why we need to experience the medium as specific:

“Why is the illusion of many necessary? Only because reality is not understandable to the deluded. Only very few can hear God's Voice at all, and even they cannot communicate His messages directly through the Spirit which gave them. They need a medium through which communication becomes possible to those who do not realize that they are spirit. A body they can see. A voice they understand and listen to, without the fear that truth would encounter in them. Do not forget that truth can come only where it is welcomed without fear. So do God's teachers need a body, for their unity could not be recognized directly” (M.12.3).

That we are all mediums who are channeling all the time -- channeling either the ego or the Holy Spirit -- is a helpful perspective on the whole issue of mediumship and channeling that minimizes differences and takes away the sense of specialness that our egos would like to attribute to the process. This perspective is developed and elaborated on in the audio set, The Inner Voice, by Kenneth Wapnick.

Q #1126: You say in Question #225, "As long as we experience ourselves as bodies, then we need to respond to and respect our bodily needs, both physical and psychological." And in Question #406, "Lack of attention or concern about those responsibilities at the level of form is almost always an expression of our authority problem ..." Does this mean that we need to follow the ego fears to respect our psychological needs? For example, do we need to travel around the world to be whole, sleep with certain people to be whole, act like a "real man," or repay people's wrongs to get rid of guilt? I believe Jesus frees us from these things, but my ego would like me to believe I am not being appropriate if I don't follow what it tells me I need to be a whole person. I'm trying to get to the point where I can listen to the Holy Spirit on matters like this and not give my power away to someone who will tell me the answer. But I still am not sure what Jesus or the Holy Spirit want from me.

A: What Jesus and the Holy Spirit “want” from you is that you would see that the ego is all made up, and that you therefore should not take it so seriously. You already are whole and complete as God's Son (W.pII.14) ; but you have hidden that from your awareness and replaced it with a self that is plagued with problems and self-doubt. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are guiding you in the process of letting go of your need to keep the truth of your wholeness concealed.

The ego would help you become a whole person only according to its definition of what that is. To follow the ego's guidance in anything would never help you get past guilt and fear. Without guilt and fear, there is no ego! The ego wants us to have physical and psychological needs so that we will always be in conflict and focused on satisfying those needs, which almost always happens at another's expense, thus reinforcing differences and separation. It is obvious, though, that we can never fulfill these needs perfectly and permanently. That is part of the ego's strategy to keep us glued to the world, and therefore to itself. Thus, as long as we think we are real as bodies, we are going to have needs and longings, and the frustration and satisfaction that come with them; we will also find ourselves in roles with responsibilities to fulfill in those roles: as parents, children, citizens, students, employees, supervisors, drivers, etc. This is all very normal.

Spiritual advancement is not attained through defiance or fear with regard to our needs, roles, and responsibilities. But this does not mean that you must explore and experience every conceivable means of satisfying your needs: You needn't follow Don Juan's example with sex, anymore than you need to indulge your appetite for food by eating at every single restaurant in the world. When there is excessive fear or guilt over one's sexual drive, food cravings, or any other drive or inclination -- for whatever reason -- professional counseling is often helpful. We need to get to the point where we are comfortable with all of the normal drives and needs that we have as bodies, physical and psychological, so that we are not obsessed with indulging them, denying them, or running away from them out of fear and shame.

The approach of A Course in Miracles to this -- once one is fairly mature in the sense just described -- is to bring into the picture the idea of purpose , i.e., for what purpose am I using my sexuality, my intellectual attributes, my strong body, my role as parent, my role as husband, etc.? This is the shift from form to content, where the real healing begins. The ego's purpose is to reinforce separation through individuality and conflict; the Holy Spirit's purpose is to help us awaken from the dream that we are separate from one another and from God. This simplifies matters enormously, because focusing on purpose (content) enables one to get past the complexities of the behavior and all of the should I? or shouldn't I? dilemmas that sometimes lead people into long-term psychoanalysis. This is what is behind this instruction of Jesus: “It is not necessary to follow fear through all the circuitous routes by which it burrows underground and hides in darkness, to emerge in forms quite different from what it is. Yet it is necessary to examine each one as long as you would retain the principle that governs all of them. When you are willing to regard them, not as separate, but as different manifestations of the same idea, and one you do not want, they go together” (T.15.X.5:1,2,3) .

As you are able to recognize more and more the same ego thread running through all the complexities of human behavior and attitudes, you will be able to work on getting in touch with your decision to uphold the ego thought system, which is dominated by the principles of one or the other and scarcity . This is the function of the miracle -- to bring your attention from the world and the body back to the mind, where you can then, with Jesus, look calmly at the ego dynamics that are causing the problem, and replace them with the dynamics of forgiveness, thus restoring peace and joy to your mind.