Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles:5/9/2007
|<< Previous week's questions|
This week's questions/topics:
Q #1139 I have a loving relationship. I'm scared of losing it if it is "transformed"
Q #1140 Is it possible that my dream was a message from Jesus?
Q #1141 I am scared of losing the love of my "special" relationships if I accept the atonement.
Q #1142 What is meant when the Course says we are "reviewing" experiences?
List of All Questions.
Interactive Index of all topics
Q #1139: My wife, whom I love very deeply, is a very nurturing and tender woman. I enjoy her mothering me, and she makes me feel safe and loved. I know that Jesus says he will not take special relationships from us, but will transform them. But are some special relationships worse then others? Are special needs different from special relationships, and are we allowed to have them? It seems to me that everyone has special needs and we all give and take; we all need people to not hurt us -- not that our peace of mind is dependent on our special needs being met. How can I understand and dispel this fear that my relationship with my wife is somehow wrong? What would our relationship look like as it is transformed? It scares me to death to open this issue to you and leave myself vulnerable to any judgments you might have.
A: It is not the purpose of A Course in Miracles , nor ours on this Service, to judge anyone for being involved in a special relationship. It is just about impossible not to be involved in one, for as you say, we all have needs, and we all look to others to fulfill those needs and not hurt us. What Jesus is teaching us is that these relationships are based on a hidden premise that we need to bring into the light and question -- specifically, that we are incomplete and it is not our fault. The ego has pulled the wool over our eyes with this, and therefore we do not see how we are actually hurting, not helping ourselves by seeking for comfort and completion outside us. We don't realize that this is just the ego's way of sustaining its own existence. Jesus thus wants us to see how we are selling ourselves short when we become involved in what he calls “an endless, unrewarding chain of special relationships” (T.15.VII.4:6). Yes, we may experience comfort and security in a relationship -- that is not wrong and we are not asked to stop that -- but the security and comfort are always temporary, limited, and fragile. At any moment everything could change, and we would be back at square one, wondering what to do to have our needs met again. Jesus is teaching us that there is a much better way of relating to others, one that will not disappoint us, because it will restore lasting peace and happiness to our awareness. The better way, of course is changing the purpose of the relationship from the ego's to the Holy Spirit's, with the confident expectation that we will feel much better if we do.
Thus, this is not about showing you that your relationship with your wife is wrong, but rather about changing the purpose of that relationship so you will get back in touch with the love in your mind that is your true identity, as well as your wife's. A transformed relationship is one in which you experience your centeredness in Jesus' love, and therefore have no needs that you look to have filled by another. The holy relationship is entirely a matter of the content you have chosen in your mind; it is not about bodies behaving in a different way. Relationships are only in the mind, and accepting the Holy Spirit's purpose for the relationship does not necessarily mean that anything would change externally. Most often it does not. It is an inner change that takes place, in the sense that you are more kind and loving in your attitude -- less judgmental, less needy, less guilty and fearful. You would realize that the relationship is not about what bodies do together, but about minds sharing the same interests and ultimately the same identity, both within the illusion and in truth as God's innocent, invulnerable Son. The sense of separation between you and your partner would gradually diminish in importance and relevance, and would be replaced by a growing sense of your sameness.
There is bound to be discomfort in looking at the special relationship because of its roots in self- deception, and especially because its purpose to be a substitute for the God's Love (T.17.IV.2:7). We have buried in our minds intense guilt and fear over this, and so it is necessary to retrace our steps to get beyond the ego to the love that it hides. Jesus guarantees our success in this, and never puts pressure on us to get on with it. Only a little willingness to question our beliefs and values is asked of us. Jesus' comforting presence will guide us through each step of the process. “The Atonement is so gentle you need but whisper to it, and all its power will rush to your assistance and support. You are not frail with God beside you” (T.14.IX.3:2,3).
Q #1140: Recently I had a sleeping dream in which a holy presence suggested to me that I need not keep living horizontally and to stop moving laterally -- that there was a better, quicker way to God, and that way is to live vertically. There was even a clear chart presented. Is this my ego being a trickster in my dreams, or could it actually have been a message from Jesus?
A: It could be a message from Jesus. If it is, that basically means you made a decision to be right- minded rather than wrong-minded, and that decision was expressed in symbols that would be meaningful to you, not necessarily to anyone else. If you are being guided by Jesus, not the ego, you would become less judgmental and critical, less angry, less guilty and fearful, and above all, you would be less tolerant of anything that makes you special and therefore separate from others. You would be drawn to what we all have in common as God's sinless Son.
Q #1141: I am very frightened by the thought that going into Heaven means losing my ego and forgetting everything about this world. Especially when I think about forgetting people I know or my parents or my son. I do not want to forget them. I want to be with them in love forever. This is when resistance occurs in me and really scares me. It seems so lonely to be with God and being only one. My whole life I feel separated and alone, and so to be in Heaven does not seem very tempting. Where is my misunderstanding?
A: You have a lot of company. The fear you describe keeps the world population exploding. We find long waiting lines at Disneyland, but certainly not at Heaven's gate. That is because when the mind identifies with the ego it finds the non-dualistic nature of Heaven profoundly threatening; in spite of the fact that it has no knowledge of non-duality. The ego's only reality is the multiplicity of separation. It looks on oneness with terror, because its existence depends on duality. The sum and substance of its cycle of life and death is variety, change, excitement, emotional roller coasters, and diversity. In fact, the ego's theme song proclaims: “The only constant thing is change.” To strengthen its case for separation, the mind conjures up visions of Heaven as a place of boring, lonely, annihilation. This is a perfect example of the principle of projection: when the mind experiences the loneliness of its self-imposed exile caused by its rejection of its Identity as God's Son and abandonment of its home, it denies the loneliness of separation and makes up a substitute “home” (the world), replete with special relationships to fill the empty void. It then projects what has been denied and perceives Heaven as a lonely place of exile. All this is done to protect the mind from realizing the devastating effects of choosing separation, so it can continue to cling to it. The mind turns everything upside down to defend itself against choosing to return home with God, where all sense of loneliness disappears and every fragment of the Sonship (parents, children, friends) is joined in the oneness of God's Love.
In response to our fear of returning to our true home, Jesus has a very comforting message: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition” (T.16.VI.8:1,2). Not only is time kind, but the forgiveness that Jesus teaches is a kind and gentle healing process. It does not take special relationships away, but transforms them to include those whom they were meant to exclude. The pace is set only by our willingness to forget the ego's separation lie and remember what it means to be one. While the mind identifies with the body, it makes eyes that see other bodies that seem real, and emotional attachments that seem more real than the oneness God created. These special relationships with loved ones are the ego's substitutes for the relationship between the Father and His Son; the only true relationship. This can only be understood in the context of the Course's teaching that we are minds, not bodies. A Course in Miracles teaches that nothing exists outside the mind (T.18.VI.8) . The mind that chooses to believe the separation is real splits into two parts.
The right mind remembers the oneness of God's Love, and every fragmented part of the Sonship is included in that memory. No one is excluded, lost, or lonely. The love that flows from this part of the mind embraces family members, along with everyone else. When the mind chooses this all inclusive love as its only identity, it joins with the oneness of God's Love; the Heaven it never left.
The wrong mind, on the other hand, chooses to identify with the body that is exclusive by the very fact that it is bound by limitations. A body not only cannot love everybody, it cannot love at all. “It [the body] was made to limit the unlimited” (T.18.VIII.1:3). In contrast, “Love has no limits, being everywhere” (W.p.I.103.1:4). We may therefore conclude that what is limited is not love. What the world calls “love,” the Course calls specialness; a “love” subject to change, disappointment, and loss. What changes does not last, and so, however pleasurable or noble it may seem to be, the ego's love will inevitably end. What does not last is not real, or eternal, or found in Heaven. The ego's answer to life's pain and anguish is a belief system that teaches that we will find beloved individuals in Heaven. This is a heaven that mirrors the world, only better. It is designed to support belief in the separation and the ego's dualistic God.
Heaven is not only not the lonely place projected by the ego, it is the state of mind in which everyone is included as one. Through the process of forgiveness, what was special love reserved only for certain people is gradually transformed to the all-inclusive love of the right mind. There are many passages in the Course describing the beauty of the real world that precedes the step into the eternity of Heaven. Though we are not asked to understand what has been obliterated from awareness by the “...heavy garments of guilt” (T.18.IX.9:7) , you might imagine the loving feelings you have toward your parents and son expanded to embrace everyone. That is the end result of the mind joining with itself and finally feeling at home. Meanwhile, until the last spot of darkness is removed, and nothing remains to blur the vision of our forgotten home, our only concern is the ongoing practice of forgiveness: small, but certain steps in undoing the belief that the body is all there is.
Q #1142: The Course's metaphysics says we are reviewing experiences. What and who did the initial experiencing? If the answer is still us (or the observer), how do we know we are not doing that initial experiencing right now as that would line up with "traditional" ego perceptions of space and time. Is the answer that the initial creation was made outside space and time by the separated Christ, that in a flash, due to the incredible creative power of Christ, the ego emerged, got so immersed in the thought of separation, splintered itself into almost infinite (recursive) thoughts, that it eventually believed it truly was separate, developed guilt, and then began reviewing everything it had created in human experience terms; i.e., in terms of space and time as separate bodies? In other words the initial experience was not as humans, but just thought, but that the incredible creative ability, and unfortunately ensuing guilt of this creativity, transformed that experience into us as separate bodies.
A: A Course in Miracles states that “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.158.4:5) . Importantly, this statement comes after Jesus explains that time is not what we think it is; he corrects our ego-based understanding that time goes in one direction and contains a future unknown to us (W.pI.158.3:5,7) . He tells us that time is part of the ego's plot to divert us from the truth; and as such, it is “a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast illusion . . .” (W.pI.158.4:1) .This reflects the statement in the text that says, “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. . . . 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.13:1,3,4).
Jesus is addressing us as decision-making minds outside time and space that are tangled up in the dynamics of denial, projection, and defenses. Ultimately, there is only one mind (lowercase), the Son of God who believes he has successfully split off from his reality in the perfect Oneness of God (a separation the Course defines as impossible, and therefore totally illusory). The Son of God in this context is not Christ, Who remains at one with God as His creation in Heaven. Creation , in the Course's view, is completely different from the biblical notion, which has to do with God creating outside Himself. God creates only like Himself (T.8.II.7:6) ; and creation is the eternal, non-spatial extension of love that takes place only in Heaven -- God creating Christ, and Christ continuing the extension of love in His creations.
The separated Son retains the memory of His true Identity as Christ, though it is concealed from his awareness by his own choice. The ego is simply that part of the Son's mind that he now thinks he is, having split off his true Self (Christ); and as such, it represents the thought system of separation.
In the instant the separation from Totality and Wholeness was thought to have occurred, every conceivable form of separation spun out instantaneously. The dynamics of separation involve getting as far away from oneness as possible so that the original state of oneness is longer remembered, and even considered alien and unnatural: “Complete abstraction [formlessness] is the natural condition of the mind. But part of it is now unnatural. It does not look on everything as one. It sees instead but fragments of the whole . . .”(W.pI.161.2:1,2,3,4). “. . . he does not realize he has forgotten where he came from, where he goes, and even who he really is” (W.pI.166.4:4) .
Guilt is bound up with the belief in separation, but only because the choice to separate from God was branded as sinful by the ego. A massive system of defenses evolved to deal with the pain of that guilt in the mind, which characterizes a major aspect of our experience as humans, except that we are not aware of this underground dynamic. That is one of the purposes of the Course -- to help us regain our awareness of ourselves as minds, so that we can deal with the source of all our problems and pain, and learn that sin and guilt are made-up concepts. Ultimately, we will realize that the only problem is that instead of smiling at the silliness of the idea of separating from Totality, we, as the one Son of God, took it seriously (T.27.VIII.6:2,3) , and then began the process of miscreation , as A Course in Miracles refers to the works of the ego. Our only responsibility, our only purpose, is to accept the Atonement for ourselves, which means remembering that we never truly separated from our Source.