Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles:4/18/2007
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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1127 How can one hold two opposite thoughts in the mind at the same time ?
Q #1128 What are my "creations"? How can I have creations if all is illusory?
Q #1129 Must we undergo another collective amnesia to forget the illusion?
Q #1130 What is meant by "an imprisoned will," and who imprisoned it?
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Q #1127: Can you describe the process of looking at the horror and guilt in the ego with love beside you -- without the use of personal symbols or names? How do you hold two completely antithetical thoughts in mind simultaneously in order to allow for the process of forgiveness? It seems that it's always one or the other. The emphasis on developing a "personal relationship" with either Jesus or the Holy Spirit makes me wonder how this process works if those "relationships" don't seem possible? What if the only figure that seems remotely plausible (in terms of having a connection) is Yogananda?
A: To look with love at anything of the ego is simply to look without judgment or guilt or fear. It is only the ego that wants you to believe that this process involves holding two antithetical thoughts in the mind simultaneously, for, to borrow the title of an audiotape set by Kenneth and Gloria Wapnick, “love does not oppose.” This idea is expressed in chapter 23 of the text, “The War Against Yourself:” “Truth does not fight against illusions, nor do illusions fight against the truth. Illusions battle only with themselves (T.23.I.7:3,4) and then again in the workbook, in the context of determining our function: “The ego does constant battle with the Holy Spirit on the fundamental question of what your function is. So does it do constant battle with the Holy Spirit about what your happiness is. It is not a two-way battle. The ego attacks and the Holy Spirit does not respond” (W.pI.66.2:1,2,3,4).
This is the key to the process of undoing the ego in all its horror and guilt -- recognizing that there is nothing that needs to be opposed nor overcome, for to fight the ego gives it a reality that it does not have, like Don Quixote tilting at windmills. Perhaps you meant to say “mutually exclusive” rather than “antithetical thoughts” and therein lies the answer. For love is our reality and the ego, despite all the complicated forms it seems to manifest, is simply the thought that love is absent from our experience. The ego has no power in itself and can be defined only in negative terms. Just as the darkness has no reality in itself and simply vanishes with the coming of the light, so the ego is a substanceless nothingness that disappears in the presence of love and has no power to resist the love that is always there -- unless we want it to .
And that is really the only obstacle to releasing the ego thought system. For while we remain invested in maintaining the false individual identity that we have given birth to in union with the ego, we are making a choice to maintain a belief in the horror and guilt that must accompany this thought system as well. And so the process of looking without judgment is not something we can do easily “on our own,” since “on our own” is another way of describing the ego state of mind.
The value in joining with a personal symbol of love is that it provides a gentle correction for the ego belief that we are really alone and on our own in our experience of the loneliness and pain of separation. And while we believe that our identity is a personal one, it is especially helpful to have a source of support and correction that we experience as personal as well. The mistake would be to assert that that symbol of love is not real, while still believing that we are real. The personal symbol is just as real as the self we believe we are.
Now what name that personal symbol is given in our mind is not nearly so critical as that we allow ourselves to be open to a help that comes from outside our own self-centered thought system. So if Yogananda works better for you than Jesus, by all means seek his loving presence and support in looking at the false beliefs you hold about yourself.
As Jesus says near the end of A Course in Miracles , in reference to himself, “Is he God's only Helper? No, indeed. For Christ takes many forms with different names until their oneness can be recognized. But Jesus is for you the bearer of Christ's single message of the Love of God. You need no other [he was speaking to Helen and Bill in particular here] . It is possible to read his words and benefit from them without accepting him into your life. Yet he would help you yet a little more if you will share your pains and joys with him, and leave them both to find the peace of God. Yet still it is his lesson most of all that he would have you learn, and it is this:
There is no death because the Son of God is like his Father. Nothing you can do can change Eternal Love. Forget your dreams of sin and guilt, and come with me instead to share the resurrection of God's Son. And bring with you all those whom He has sent to you to care for as I care for you (C.5.6). "
Q #1128: If the entire universe is illusory or a dream, as is all form, then what is meant in A Course in Miracles : "As miracles in this world join you to your brothers, so do your creations establish your fatherhood in Heaven." (T13.X.9.1). What are my creations? What are God's creations? What do we create when we are fully realized?
A: God's Son, who is one with Him in Heaven, shares His power of creation, which is the extension of love. The Course teaches that God created His one Son, and nothing else. Since we mistakenly believe we exist as bodies in the world, this use of words is intended to help us understand what cannot truly be explained or understood. “God's creations” refers to the extension of His Love to His Son, and Christ's creations are extensions of His Love (“Glossary Index for A Course in Miracles ,” Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D. p.51). In the dream of separation our creations are reflected in the thoughts we think with God. When the mind chooses the miracle and identifies with the memory of God's Love, thereby accepting Him as Father rather than the ego. That is how the Son acknowledges or establishes that Heaven is his home, and God is his Father. Being a right-minded extension of love, this choice includes everybody and so it joins us to our brothers. None of this has anything to do with form. The mind's decision to take the ego or the Holy Spirit is reflected in the dream, but the thought/creation remains in the mind. “Fear and love make or create, depending on whether the ego or the Holy Spirit begets or inspires them, but they will return to the mind of the thinker and they will affect his total perception” (T.7.VI.1:5). Everything that seems to occur in our lives reflects this choice made in the mind. The mind is either projecting guilt for having chosen the ego, or extending love by choosing the Holy Spirit. The body/brain serves only as the mind's instrument. Thus, until we identify only with the mind, the body serves the Holy Spirit's purpose by interpreting everything it perceives in the light of His teaching. That is how we become aware of the mind where the decision to think with God is made.
One of the most important goals of the Course is to train us to become aware of all the thoughts we do not share with God. The practice of forgiveness begins with the honest recognition of all judgments that are reflections of the mind's choice for the ego as father, rather than God. Willingness to see every judgment as projections of guilt for choosing the ego, without judging oneself for it, is the way to clear the runway for the mind's creations. They follow automatically, with no effort, when judgment is relinquished.
When the mind chooses to identify only with the Truth of God's Love by the acceptance of the Atonement, only love will be perceived. That is what is meant by the beautiful phrase in the text: “When you want only love you will see nothing else”(T.12.VII.8:1). When Identity as God's Son is fully accepted, the Son shares the Father's creative power to extend only love. That is all that can ever be created because that is all that truly exists.
Webmaster note: Also see questions 103 , 769i
Q #1129: A Course in Miracles in so many words says that we forgot to laugh as we entertained the idea of separation from God, took it seriously, left Heaven, etc. This implies that creation pondered the idea of separation, could have laughed and stayed put. Does this then mean that in the created there exists an idea of discontent that can be ignored or acted upon? Collective amnesia has rendered creation not responsible for the separation. Creation made all the specifics; the nuances of pathos of caring humanity when a child is beaten, tortured and raped. A good Course student realizes it never happened and if coached correctly will even offer condolences. Yet what appears to be a spontaneous outpouring of grief was contrived and scripted before time was made. Eventually what never happened will be forgotten, it won't have existed. Must humanity undergo another collective amnesia in order to forget the illusion?
A: Although your interpretation of the thought of separation as having its origin in God's creation is a common one, the Course's core teaching is that God and Christ have nothing to do with the tiny mad idea of separation, its seeming horrific effects, nor even the Correction, despite some passages that would seem to suggest differently. The part of the mind that seemed to fall asleep and dream a dream of separation does not exist in reality. Creation never pondered the idea of separation nor contains an idea of discontent. Even the Correction is outside the one Mind and merely reflects the Oneness of Heaven, being Its memory in the illusory split mind. This is not satisfactory to our ego minds that still insist that something has happened that needs an explanation. But Jesus will never give us one for, from his perspective, there can be no explanation for nothing. Variations on this issue have been addressed in a number of questions, including Question #350, #568 and #624, as well as in The Most Commonly Asked Questions About A Course in Miracles.
It is very difficult to look at the world from within the world and not react to it, for the messages that are brought back to us are exactly the messages we have given to ourselves to confirm our cherished belief in the reality of the separation and our separate selves (T.18.IX.3) . It is at this illusory level that we can speak of a collective amnesia that has rendered us ignorant of our mind's role in our own experience. The world seems so very real because the illusory part of us really wants it to be. Perhaps, when pondering the range of experiences -- both good and bad -- that the world seems to present to us, it can be helpful to recall how vivid and even palpable many of our dream experiences when we are asleep at night seem to be. And we can hold no one outside ourselves responsible for the experiences of those nighttime dreams, no matter how cruel and heartless they may be. And yet they do usually fade into nothingness upon our awakening. Our resistance is tremendous to accepting that this world that seems so real to us is no more real than the worlds of our nighttime dreams.
If someone is truly a “good Course student,” when confronted with a tragedy or a horrible crime against a seeming innocent, such as a young child, there will be an inner acknowledgment of the pain and the guilt that everyone involved in the situation shares -- the perpetrator, the victim, the families, the observers -- as a defense against the love within all their minds that they also share, but are too afraid to embrace. Yes, everything that seems to happen has already been scripted and already happened, but that is not our experience. And so our choice in the present is which teacher shall we invite to look with us at the events our minds still perceive as real in our experience. If love is our guide, then our reactions will not be contrived but will be spontaneous and genuinely kind and loving. A contrived response is the work of an ego attempting to maintain its own control over a situation that it sees as somehow separate from itself.
In the end, what is needed is not another collective amnesia, but an individual remembering of our role as the dreamer of our dream (T.27.VII) . For with that recollection, we no longer will need to take the dream seriously and can smile at our mind's collective insanity, or silliness, to think that we could limit our reality to individual bodies, at the mercy of forces outside ourselves, that we are vulnerable and weak and will all meet our final demise, no matter what form it may take, in death and physical decay and destruction. This is not tragedy but a big joke we are playing on ourselves.
And perhaps, this path with its particular set of symbols and theology is not the one you resonate to and is not the gentle way home that your mind can embrace. If not, then there is another way home that will make more sense to you and that will provide you the comfort you are seeking as you open yourself up to the love that is awaiting there within you.
Q #1130: I am confused by the following sentences in the text of A Course in Miracles : “You can temporize and you are capable of enormous procrastination, but you cannot depart entirely from your Creator, Who set the limits on your ability to miscreate. An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable” (T.2.III.3:3,4). Who has our wills imprisoned? God?
A: We ourselves have imprisoned our wills by denying Who we really are. Our will is one with God's, which means we want only what God wills ( see T.8.IV.7:1,2; T.11.III.3; T.14.III.14 ) . In our present limited state, we cannot know precisely what that means, other than to say that our true function as God's Son is creating with Him in Heaven -- extending love without limit (W.pI.192.1) . Because we have denied Who we really are, we are not free to fulfill our true function, which can only lead to intolerable pain. We believe our wills are separate from God's; for example, we believe He can ask us to do something we do not want to do. The same is true of Jesus -- what he wants for us goes against what we will for ourselves, we sometimes think. We love specialness and don't want to give it up; yet Jesus tells us that our investment in specialness prevents us from knowing the truth (T.24.II.4,5) . We are in a constant state of conflict and frustration as a result. As long as we believe we have our own separate identities, all we can do is mis create, deluding ourselves into thinking we are engaged in something valuable and commendable.
In the passages you cite, Jesus is teaching us that we can continue on in our false identities as separate from him and from God, but that choice will never make the separation and our individual selves reality. The truth of our oneness of will remains forever alive in our minds -- buried, but not extinguished -- and at some point, however long it takes, the deep, internal pain and frustration of knowing we are wrong about everything, especially about our very selves, will cause us to cry out for “a better way,” as Jesus states in the following sentences in the paragraph you cited (T.2.III.3:5,6,7) .
Asking his help is the first step out of our self-imposed imprisonment. Thus he teaches us: “By the belief that your will is separate from mine, you are exempting yourself from the Will of God which is yourself. . . . There is no separation of God and His creation. You will realize this when you understand that there is no separation between your will and mine. Let the Love of God shine upon you by your acceptance of me. My reality is yours and His. By joining your mind with mine you are signifying your awareness that the Will of God is One (T.8.V.2.3,8,9,10,11,12) .