Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles:6/27/2007

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1168 Does a holy relationship require the participation of two people, or just one?
Q #1169 Why do I feel so upset and conflicted about other's political views?.
Q #1170 I read the Course and the experience was overwhelming. Do most people find it so?
Q #1171 Why are my feelings of kindliness and friendliness often misunderstood?
Q #1172 Why didn't Jesus' return to the right mind free us all ?

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Q #1168:   As I understand it, A Course in Miracles describes a holy relationship as two people extending the Christ inside, joining with each other.  If I have it correct, does this mean that both people need to be at this level of understanding about the true Self inside of them for the holy relationship to exist?

A: A holy relationship exists whenever anyone makes a decision in the mind to shift the purpose of the relationship from the ego's goal of specialness to the Holy Spirit's goal of healing. Since the problem of specialness/separation exists in the mind, the relationship is healed when the mind chooses the Holy Spirit instead of the ego. Nothing happens between two people because bodies do not join (T.18.VI.3:1). It is sufficient that one person choose to identify with the right mind for every relationship to be transformed; those with whom one is closely associated (family, friends), along with those who are seeming strangers. This all-inclusiveness distinguishes the holy relationship from the special relationship that is exclusive by its very nature. The Sonship shares the memory of God and of the true Self held in the part of the mind (right mind) symbolized by the Holy Spirit. Thus is everyone present when anyone chooses to identify with the right mind. That is why Jesus tells us we were with him when he accepted the Atonement (T.19.IV.B.6:5) . The other person need not be aware of the shift in the relationship from special to holy. Just as everyone will ultimately accept the Atonement that has already been accomplished, everyone will accept the holy relationship.    

We cannot speak of the Christ as two people, even in the best of circumstances. The term refers to the non-dualistic nature of God's one Son. There is not a true Self within separate individuals, but one true Self shared by the seeming fragments of the Sonship. The oneness of God's Son cannot be understood from the perspective of the duality of separation: “On this side of the bridge you see the world of separate bodies, seeking to join each other in separate unions and to become one by losing. When two individuals seek to become one, they are trying to decrease their magnitude. Each would deny his power, for the separate union excludes the universe” (T.126.VI.5:2,3,4). The holy relationship cannot, then, exist between two individuals as a special union. If one brother is perfectly forgiven all brothers are forgiven, because each relationship contains them all.

Until “not one spot of darkness still remains”(T.31.VIII.12:5) to obscure the vision of the face of Christ, we are asked to look at the shadows in every special relationship without judgment, recognizing in them the mind's projected fear of its true Identity. Although it is not the vision of the Christ, every step in forgiveness is enough to make a relationship holy because it returns attention to the mind where the problem of specialness can be healed. Through the practice of forgiveness, guilt is eventually undone, which means the end of projection and the perception of differences. It leads to the moment when a brother is seen as the mirror of one's self; the concept of a separate self is set aside, all judgment is relinquished, and the veil is lifted from the face of Christ (T.31.VII.8:4,5,6,7) . The mind's return to the awareness of this non-dualistic Identity as Christ is the ultimate goal of the Course.

Q #1169: My family -- three generations of them -- holds a political view that includes a lot of hatred toward the leadership of this country. To add spice to my stew, the head of the family studied A Course in Miracles for several years. But now he says things like, "I don't know why I ever studied that." As a Course student myself, I realize that my family's political anger is simply projected self-hatred, and I find myself wanting them to recognize this. They raise political issues for discussion quite often and I suppose from my responses that I appear politically apathetic or extreme in terms of valuing spiritual solutions over "real world" solutions. And so, I often do not say much at all. Quoting from the Course or taking the stance that "there is no one out there" feels egotistical to me. There is no sign that any of my family looks to me for leadership -- no desire for a teacher of God to come into an intractable situation to offer hope. And yet I feel more like I'm repressing myself than that I'm practicing faith and patience with them. I don't feel open minded as much as I feel that there is no use in saying anything. My question is: why am I doing this ?

A: It sounds like what you really want to know is why you are experiencing pain over this situation and conflict about how to handle it. Remember that A Course in Miracles makes it clear that all pain comes from guilt and that the source of all guilt is our belief in separation (T.15.V.2: 5) . Thus, it is not the fact that your family holds a worldview that differs from your own that is causing you pain. Rather, your pain stems from the fact that you judge them for it, thereby reinforcing your belief in separation and triggering your guilt. By starting with the assumption that they would be better off if they came around to your way of seeing the world, you ensure that no matter how you respond to them on the level of form, in your mind the content will be attack. And because this attack thought feels valid and justified, you will sense that by not expressing it to them, you are repressing yourself.

But as you stated, they are not asking you to teach them the Course or a more spiritual way of looking at the world. In fact, it sounds as if that is the last thing they want. Therefore, your wishing that they would look at things differently is to fall into the same futile trap that they are caught in by their political anger. In essence you are all saying, "I would be happy if only someone else would change." Part of you is aware of this dynamic, which is why spouting Course platitudes to them would feel egotistical to you. The fact that you know this, and yet still feel a desire to change them, can help you empathize with how real and justified their political rage must feel to them.

Because the head of your family is a former Course student, part of using this situation as your own classroom might include asking yourself whether his rejection of the Course feels like a rejection of you. You are likely to have this thought if, in fact, your ability to feel love for him is in any way predicated on the choices he makes.

Basically, the key to feeling better about all this is to realize that, as the Course says repeatedly, the peace of God is within you. Your family's choices and attitudes can have no power to take that peace away from you unless you want it to be taken away. They actually are offering you a wonderful opportunity to ask the Holy Spirit to help you look without judgment and learn to come from a truly loving place. When you do that, you will know what your family really wants from you when they express their anger at governmental leaders. And then your response might take many different forms including agreeing with them and allowing them to tell you all about their rage. Ironically, by not telling them that they are wrong, you might actually demonstrate that they are wrong about the one thing that really matters -- teaching simply by your compassionate presence that love does exist and that they are deserving of it.

Q #1170: I have just finished reading the text of A Course in Miracles . Reading and reflecting on this book has been the most arduous and overwhelming experience I have ever had. The Course has so completely affected my ideas about religion, spirituality, and, really, human existence in every dimension. I have been a pretty serious student of philosophy and theology most of my adult life. I'm 63 and everything has changed, most definitely for the better. My question: I know how demanding this process was for me. Is it that way for all students? And is it possible for an average person who isn't accustomed to “deep” thinking to really grasp the content of A Course in Miracles ?

A: Most people have found study of the text a difficult and challenging undertaking, especially, as you say, because it overturns just about everything we have ever believed about anything. But they also share your gratitude for it -- sometimes that turns in to mixed feelings, though, as they move along in the process of looking at their egos! Although the Course is written on a high intellectual level, its students can nonetheless practice its primary content of shared interests without mastering the metaphysical underpinnings of that content. The same is true for the giving up of judgment, also a major part of the Course's content. Jesus tells us that he is leading us to “a new kind of experience” (T.11.VI.3:6) , and everyone can share in that in their own way, regardless of whether they have been able to grasp the profound depth of the Course's spirituality, metaphysics, and psychology. For some further discussion of this topic, you might be interested in looking at Question #40.

Q #1171: I have a problem in my life that I was hoping that you could comment on. I sometimes have feelings of extreme happiness and bliss when I am in my right mind and feel truly joined with others. But it seems that some women mistake my kindness and genuine friendliness for "attraction" and romantic flirtation. I sometimes wonder why the Holy Spirit would let this happen when all that I am doing is trying to be who He would have me be. Should I feel confident that when the person is ready to accept the genuine truth of my actions that their misperception of my behavior will be corrected? I feel paranoid all the time now about being nice and friendly to others because I feel misinterpreted and misunderstood. Or am I possibly just maybe unconsciously setting myself up to be a victim of others' misperceptions and then blaming the Holy Spirit for it?

A: It may be helpful to remember that we are not responsible for how others choose to perceive us. But we are responsible for our own reactions to others' perceptions of us. And we only ever feel the way we do because we want to (T.21.II.2) .

You are correct in your suspicion that perhaps you are unconsciously setting yourself up for conflict and then seeking to pin the blame on the Holy Spirit. For the Holy Spirit does not intervene in the world, and so it would be a misperception of Him to believe that He somehow allows things to happen. He also is not concerned with how we behave in the world, because He is not fooled, as our minds are, into believing we are bodies or that there is an external world. And so we would also be misperceiving Him if we believed that He cares about how we seem to act towards others. His only concern is how we perceive others whom we still see as separate from ourselves

The Holy Spirit, by the way, is not upset by nor does He blame you for your misperceptions of Him. His only function, in every situation and circumstance, is to remind us of another way of perceiving that does not reinforce guilt and pain and conflict. As Jesus points out, “The Voice of the Holy Spirit does not command, because It is incapable of arrogance. It does not demand, because It does not seek control. It does not overcome, because It does not attack. It merely reminds. It is compelling only because of what It reminds you of. It brings to your mind the other way, remaining quiet even in the midst of the turmoil you may make” (T.5.II.7.1,2,3,4,5,6). If you simply allow yourself to be a channel for the Holy Spirit's Love, which in this world would be Love's reflection, expressed as forgiveness (W.pI.60.1:4,5) , or nonjudgmental acceptance, you will find that you are not concerned with how others perceive you. And it is only the guilt in your own mind that is being triggered by how these women perceive you. But that is not a sin and, in fact, your reaction to them offers you a good learning opportunity. For the only real healing any of us needs is to recognize that our own guilt over separation is not real, because the separation could never happen. Whenever that guilt is released, we will not react to how others perceive us, for in that moment our ego has disappeared and there is nothing within us that can react to or judge another.

Q #1172: Since we are all just projections of one mind, why didn't Jesus' return to the 'right' mind free us all? Does this mean that 6 billion or so separate egos must come to the truth separately? Doesn't that mean that each ego is in fact separate in a sense? Connected with that thought.... Considering that the whole point of this 'life' is, essentially, to escape it, would there be any point in having children? It seems that this only adds to the splintered mind and suffering. Does each new life in this world have the responsibility to free itself?

A: Your first question is one that has crossed the mind of just about every person who has taken up A Course in Miracles . It is an issue, though, only because the framework of all our questioning is that of linear time. We are programmed to perceive everything in terms of time and space, and therefore it is almost inevitable that we will misinterpret, or not understand at all, what Jesus teaches us about the mind, which is outside time and space. Jesus' objective in the lessons he gives us in the workbook is to help us become reacquainted with ourselves as decision-making minds so that we will perceive everything from a more helpful perspective. You might find it helpful to read our answer to Question #585, which discusses this problem, and also refers you to earlier answers pertaining to the issue you raise.

With regard to whether there is any point in having children, the answer would revolve around purpose . The decision can be wrong-minded (to reinforce separation and specialness) or right- minded (to learn forgiveness in the parent-child relationship). We have expanded discussions of this important topic in our answers to earlier questions -- #232 and #411.