Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles:5/30/2007
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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1151(i) What is the meaning of "He has not left His Thoughts" ?
Q #1151(ii) How can I see a brother as sinless?.
Q #1152 What is the Course perspective on "The Science of Mind" ?
Q #1153 What is meant by "secret sins" ?
Q #1154 Can helping others be a bad thing?
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Q #1151(i): (The following two questions were posed by the same person.) Could you please explain the meaning of the following passage from A Course in Miracles : “He has not left His Thoughts! But you forgot His Presence and remembered not His Love” (T.31.lV.9:1,2).
A: “His Thoughts” refers to the extension of God, which is Christ, His Son -- the capital T indicates that it refers to Christ. Jesus is using the plural form because of the context of his message in this section. The content of the statement is that Love is perfect Oneness that can never be divided or changed in any way. Contrary to what the ego says of God, Jesus is reminding us that Love never abandons. God leaving His Son is an absolute impossibility. But the Son can believe he has left his Source, even though, in truth, that is an impossibility as well. That is the Atonement principle running throughout the Course: the separation from God never truly happened.
Q #1151(ii): Also, what would be the formula for seeing a brother you disliked in the past, but now with spiritual vision instead of judgment? What thoughts/prayers are best to use while with my brothers/sisters in order to let go of judgment?
A: There is no formula as such in the Course, but in many ways seeing your brother as sinless is what the whole Course is about, for when you see the face of Christ in your brother, you then remember God. There are two important parts to the process that leads to this vision of sinlessness: recognizing the purpose judgment serves and the cost judging. Judgment is the life-blood of the ego; it keeps the belief in differences alive, and the belief in differences keeps separation real. Thus, we judge because we want to remain separate but not be held responsible for that choice. Locating our problems and lack of peace in what others to do us, thereby judging them as sinful and guilty, effectively hides the choice we are upholding in our minds.
Therefore, what we need to do, as Jesus teaches in many different ways, is to look with him at our need to judge, and to learn that the price we are willing to pay to continue to judge is the loss of our own peace. Jesus thus appeals to us: “You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgment. When you recognize what you are and what your brothers are, you will realize that judging them in any way is without meaning. In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely because you are judging them” (T.3.VI.3:1,2,3). Judging costs us dearly! We lose our peace and all sense of the identity we share with each other. In return we get to be right (at least some of the time), and we keep our special individuality. Is it worth it? We need only look at this, and not force ourselves to stop judging when it is still so meaningful to us. Eventually we will let ourselves feel the pain of continued judgment, and then we will be less willing to pay the price, especially when we also realize that it is not a sacrifice to give up judgment, in view of the fact that we are incapable of judging in the first place ( see M.10.2).
Lesson 335, “I choose to see my brother's sinlessness” (W.pII.335), might be helpful in keeping these teachings present in your mind. Remember, though, you never want to fight against your need to judge others (or yourself). That will only force you into denial and then your progress will be halted. It is far more helpful to be honest about not wanting to see your brother sinless, and then not condemn yourself for that, yet remind yourself that there's a price to be paid for such resistance. Gentleness and patience are essential.
In summary: “Your function here on earth is only to forgive him [your brother] , that you may accept him back as your Identity. He is as God created him. And you are what he is. Forgive him now his sins, and you will see that you are one with him” (W.pI.192.10:6,7,8,9).
Q #1152: I have been a reader of The Science of Mind , by Ernest Holmes, and a Religious Scientist for many years. I would be very interested to hear you comment on the ideas contained in that book, and how they do or do not coincide with the Course.
A: Although there are some parallels between the ideas contained in Ernest Holmes' The Science of Mind and A Course in Miracles , such as a recognition of the power of the mind to affect its experience, including the body and its circumstances, there are some fundamental metaphysical differences that have significant implications for how we look at the world and ourselves. For Holmes, the world is God's creation and so there is an expectation that ultimately there is a harmony and abundance in the world beneath all appearances, once we recognize how our own limiting thoughts are binding us to the negative. On the relationship between God and the world, Holmes' observed: “We believe in God, the Living Spirit Almighty; one indestructible, absolute, and self-existent Cause. This One manifests Itself in and through all creation but is not absorbed by Its creation. The manifest universe is the body of God ” (italics added). Contrast this with the statement from the Course's workbook for students: “The world was made as an attack on God. It symbolizes fear. And what is fear except love's absence? Thus the world was meant to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him. Here was perception born, for knowledge could not cause such insane thoughts” (W.pII.3.2:1,2,3,4,5).
As for the self we believe we are, Holmes observed that Science of the Mind believes “in the eternality, the immortality, and the continuity of the individual soul, forever and ever expanding.” In contrast, consider the Course's observations on the individual self: “The structure of ‘individual consciousness' is essentially irrelevant because it is a concept representing the ‘original error' or the ‘original sin.' To study the error itself does not lead to correction, if you are indeed to succeed in overlooking the error. And it is just this process of overlooking at which the course aims. ...In this world, because the mind is split, the Sons of God appear to be separate. Nor do their minds seem to be joined. In this illusory state, the concept of an ‘individual mind' seems to be meaningful” (C.in.1:4,5,6; C.1.2:1,2,3).
The Course's central teaching on forgiveness is predicated on the reality of God as spirit and perfect Oneness, having absolutely nothing to do with the world of separation, form, bodies and individual selves. Forgiveness sees the world as nothing more than a feverish dream of separation, originating in our ego imagination. And we will all awaken as one mind from that dream, when we learn to forgive ourselves for what has never happened.
Ernest Holmes and The Science of Mind , in contrast, could be characterized as providing us with the means to attempt to have a better, happier dream of separation, as we learn to use our split minds to manifest abundance in our lives and in our relationships . However, from the Course's perspective, so long as we remain asleep and dreaming, we can not be truly happy, and the abundance that awaits us has nothing to do with the world of form, being instead an expression of the infinite extension of love in the formless realm of spirit.
Q #1153: What is meant by "secret sins"?
A: The “secret sins and hidden hates” are the separation beliefs the mind holds, but covers over with heavy layers of denial and projection. In fact, the mind builds a defensive fortress around its plot to keep separation real in its awareness. The cement that holds the whole thing together is denial. Almost simultaneously with its choice to be separate, the mind judges the choice as sinful, feels tremendous guilt for the “sin,” projects the guilt out to the body, and then denies it ever did anything. It thereby denies its power to choose and, most importantly, its identity as mind. Key to the success of this plot is keeping it hidden from awareness so the mind can convince itself that it is powerless and has no choice but to accept the ego's dream of separation. Once the mind finds itself embroiled in the illusion of the body, it continues to keep its sin and guilt hidden from awareness by projecting them out and blaming external agents for its predicament. The main target of this scheme is the ego's made-up God. The ego tells a very convincing tale to get the mind off the hook and ensure that its power and, most importantly its choice, are kept hidden: God made the world and the body, tricked his creatures into sinning, and is now tracking them down to punish them with death. This insanity is the foundation of the ego's plan for salvation through sacrifice and death, sustained by guilt and fear, and designed to keep the Son of God out of his mind.
Since hiding the mind's activity through denial is at the core of the ego's insanity, the Holy Spirit's curriculum of healing begins with uncovering what was hidden, and restoring to awareness the mind's power to choose. That is why so much of the teaching of the Course is devoted to describing the ego's dynamics. The key to unraveling the thick layers of denial is to train the mind to recognize the ego's antics in operation in one's life. Recognizing the mind's projections returns the source of the problem to the mind where it belongs. That is the first step in the forgiveness process. We find many passages in A Course in Miracles where Jesus exhorts us to look: “You must look upon your illusions and not keep them hidden, because they do not rest on their own foundation. In concealment they appear to do so, and thus they seem to be self- sustained. This is the fundamental illusion on which the others rest. For beneath them, and concealed as long as they are hidden, is the loving mind that thought it made them in anger. And the pain in this mind is so apparent, when it is uncovered, that its need of healing cannot be denied. Not all the tricks and games you offer it can heal it, for here is the real crucifixion of God's Son” (T.13.III.7:1,2,3,4,5,6). Several layers of the mind's denial network are revealed in this passage: illusions hide behind projections that seem to have a life of their own, hidden behind the illusions is the “loving mind,” as well as the pain that results from the mind's decision. The intense pain of denying God's Love is hidden behind all the ego's frantic attempts (“tricks and games”) to make the illusion of separation real and convince God's Son that happiness is possible outside of Heaven. No matter how hard the ego tries, it cannot undo the anguish of its error, and by confusing itself with the ego, the mind has crucified God's Son. This is the ego's arsenal of “secret sins.”
Hidden beneath all the debris of the guilt-infested secret sins is the mind's best kept “sinless secret”: the memory of God's Love. The Holy Spirit's healing process is aimed at undoing belief in the mind's secret sins so the Love that lies buried beneath them can be revealed. To that end, we are asked to look with the Holy Spirit at what has been hidden: “Do not leave any spot of pain hidden from His light, and search your mind carefully for any thoughts you may fear to uncover [the “sinful” as well as the sinless] . For He will heal every little thought you have kept to hurt you and cleanse it of its littleness, restoring it to the magnitude of God” (T.13.III.7:5,6, italics ours ).
Q #1154 I have heard people say "it makes me happy to help others." I never thought that there was anything “bad” about that statement until I made that comment and my brother said that I was trying to please myself. I started wondering who was doing the talk, the ego or the spirit? I know that God wants us to be happy, but how can you tell if the happiness that comes from helping others comes from the ego? Can you give me your opinion?
A: Yes, God wants us to be happy, but that happiness can be found only through remembering we belong to Him and not to the world in any way ( see Lesson 182 -- W.pI.182). When we forget this (which is usually all the time), we will be unhappy and then seek outside us for something that will make us happy. That could be anything at all, including helping others. But the behavior of helping others (the form) does not, in itself, tell you whether it came from your mind's choice for the ego or the Holy Spirit (the content). If it was a right-minded choice, then you would have no investment in the outcome of what you did; your inner peace and happiness would not be affected by the situation in any way; you would not take anything personally -- praise or criticism; you would not perceive the situation in terms of victims and victimizers; you would not exclude anyone from the love and kindness you extended to that particular person -- the content of love in your mind, not the form of the help).
Jesus is teaching us in A Course in Miracles to focus on the purpose we have chosen in our minds, a choice that precedes behavioral interaction. That is the only relevant aspect of what we do -- our choice of teacher. You have chosen the ego's thought system of separation if your focus is on the body -- what bodies do or don't do and how that affects you. You have chosen the Holy Spirit's thought system of forgiveness if you focus on seeing shared interests, as opposed to separate interests, and you are increasingly attracted to seeing everyone as part of the Sonship, without exception.