Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 7/4/2007

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1173 Just by being flesh incarnate, does that constitute an attack upon ourselves?
Q #1174 Why would peacefulness be threatening?.
Q #1175 Why are there no reports of healing through the Course?
Q #1176 Is forgiveness effective because it brings the underlying principle to light?

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Q #1173: Recently I visited several Internet forums on different subjects. People seemed to "hit out" at each other and argue so much, it reminded me very much of the Course's statement that this world is already an attack on the Son of God, made by himself. Since we regard the world we are living in as our "lives," does it mean, in the Course's perception of the world, that the very fact that we are "living" in this world is already an attack on ourselves? In other words, by "incarnating" into flesh and body are we being "auto aggressive"?

A: Yes. The attack on the Son of God is the mind's decision to be separate, and to identify with a body living in the world. The mind defends its choice by projecting out its guilt in countless scenarios for wars of opposition, not least among them, the many battles among students of the Course. Nothing misses the point more blatantly than the compulsion to defend a distinctive position regarding the teachings of A Course in Miracles . It proves that there is nothing the ego cannot use to defend separation. But then, there is nothing the Holy Spirit cannot use to heal the mind of belief in separation. And so, the world that the ego made as an attack (W.p.II.3.2:1) can become a classroom for the Holy Spirit's lessons of forgiveness. The goal of the classroom is to learn that neither the attack, nor the ensuing battles between opposing forces of any kind have any real effect on the mind's ability to choose peace. What takes the punch out of the attack is not judging it as sinful, because it has no effect; an illusory attack has brought forth an illusory world.

The lessons of forgiveness begin with willingness to look at the many forms of attack and judgment that present themselves in the course of living in this world, and seeing in them the reflection of the mind's choice to defend separation. In the case of “warring students,” one might find judgments founded on the perception of these students as sinful wrong-doers. Missing the point is not cause for condemnation and exclusion, however eager the ego may be to make its case. It is a call for love expressed in discord among students and is no different from the call for love of one who judges them. The important thing is to hear the call in oneself along with that of someone else, judging neither. This brings the mind in alignment with the Holy Spirit, transforms the battlefield into a classroom, and the attack into an opportunity. Practicing in this way with every situation that presents itself is how the     mind is healed of the mistaken belief in the seemingly devastating effects of the Son of God's attack upon himself .

Q #1174: In Ken and Gloria's book “The Most Commonly Asked Questions About A Course In Miracles, ” they discuss the possibility that someone can be threatened by our "peace." They were clarifying the line in the Course that says we know we are truly at peace when all or meet or even think of us "share in our perfect peace" with the anger directed toward Jesus. Ken and Gloria said that in order to become threatened by our peace someone else would have to have first "experienced it as real and then become threatened by it." Does this mean that the person who becomes threatened senses that we do not want to compete with them but only want to be friends with them? Do they detect a sense of peace with ourselves? I just do not get why someone would be threatened by someone wanting to be peaceful with them.

A: To understand the dynamics of the ego thought system at work it is essential to look beneath the surface. For this purpose, a phrase used in the training of investigative teams applies aptly to the mind training taught in the Course: “nothing is as it seems.” It is insane to think that peace would be a threat in any way, yet that is the ego's interpretation of anything related to the right mind of the Sonship. The ego is insane. The part of the mind that chooses to identify with the ego thought system is threatened by the part of the mind that knows peace. Its foundation is threatened by the possibility that the decision-making part of the mind may make a definitive choice against it in favor of peace, in which case it will cease to exist.

When peacefulness is perceived in someone else it is a reminder that the same peace is possible for oneself. All is well if the mind decides to choose peace and identify with the peace it perceives in another. However, if it chooses to identify with the insanity of the ego, it will perceive anything sane as a threat; fear then replaces peace. Guilt for choosing fear instead of peace is projected out in the form of a judgment against someone who seems peaceful. The judgment may come in the guise of envy, admiration, or a desire to bask in the comfort of the peacefulness the other possesses. Strange as it may seem, the ego always interprets this to mean: “if you have it and I don't, you stole it form me.” This is the projected version of the mind's judgment against itself for thinking it stole God's power by deciding to reject the Identity given it by God and make up its own delusional separate identity. This hidden insane thought system is not visible on the surface. It is a disguised attack on oneself and the other person, masquerading as admiration or any number of “acceptable” sentiments. The Course teaches that any perception of difference is an attack, and attack engenders fear of counter-attack. Thus begins the ego's endless cycle of perceived threats to be defended against, including someone else's peace. That explains the gnawing, pervasive sense of vulnerability that gives reason to elaborate plans for security. The ego is under constant threat, and therefore in permanent defense mode because it is aware that at any moment the mind that chose for it can abolish it by choosing against it. That is why peace is perceived as a threat. It has nothing to do with the way another person behaves or what they say. It is the mind that chooses the ego that is threatened by the true peace abiding in the right mind, where the memory of God's Love is held. And again, the only reason one would fear God's Love is because the separate self cannot exist in the Oneness of His Love.

To follow the path of the Course's teachings, it is enough to be willing to notice how important it is to perceive difference. One of the goals of the Course is to teach us to see all these differences for what they are: weapons of the ego's defense strategy, and not to be deceived by the “beauty” of the world's kaleidoscope. Hidden behind the glitz is the fear of peace, and behind that fear is the fear of the Oneness of God's Love that we share. The hope of finding the true peace we seek (not to be confused with the bodily feeling of calm relaxation) begins with realizing we are afraid of it, and have buried the fear beneath layers of denial. This realization opens the door to releasing the fear that blocks the peace. The beginning of healing is to cease denying the sickness. That is why much of the Course is devoted to exposing the ego's use of fear as defense against the peace of God. When we are no longer afraid of it, it will no longer be perceived as a threat: “When we have overcome fear–not by hiding it, not by minimizing it, and not by denying its full import in any way–this [peace] is what you will really see” (T.12.II.9:5).

Q #1175: I've noticed that night dreams are often mentioned in the general scope of A Course in Miracles . Could you clarify the role that night dreams play in the Course? Are we to pay attention to them as a source of specialness detection? Are they a sign of progress in the study of the Course?

On the other hand, I've hardly seen any testimony of healing reported -- not in the wonderful workshops on the net nor in the newsletter nor in the Electronic Outreach. If they are not praised in the Course, why not?

A: As we begin to identify ourselves increasingly with the mind and not with the body, we will begin to recognize that everything that we seem to be experiencing, whether we think we are a body awake or asleep, is nothing more than the play of symbols in our mind. When we awaken from a night dream, it is not difficult to recognize this. But the Course is asking us to generalize this awareness to all of our experiences. And so, from the perspective of forgiveness, we are asked to acknowledge that all our judgments, whether occurring while we seem to sleep or while we seem to be awake, are wrong and not justified. For there literally is no one out there doing anything to us, and so there is truly nothing to be judged, except the mistaken choice in the mind to identify with the ego thought system.

While we remain too fearful to accept the notion that “ideas leave not their source,” we can at least recognize the content of our reactions to our experiences, both waking and sleeping, and, when we find ourselves attributing our feelings to anyone or anything that seems to be outside and separate from us, ask ourselves if we are willing to consider the possibility that we are wrong. This at least opens the door to a different Teacher, and thus to a different experience.

Our sleeping dreams, once we seem to awaken from them, give us the opportunity to recognize how the mind operates in creating its own reality. It should become easy enough, with a little practice, to recognize the myriad ways, and forms, in which our ego attempts to disguise itself. And the correction for the mistaken choices of our dreams will be nothing more than the recognition that, whatever feelings I may have seemed to experience while I was asleep and dreaming, and no matter how justified they may have seemed within the dream, they could not have possibly been the result of anything outside my own mind, and so they simply represent a decision I have made for how I want to feel, while attempting to attribute those feelings to events that had seemed in the dream to be external to my own mind.

And so our sleeping dreams represent another opportunity to recognize the contents of our minds, but beyond that they have no special meaning or significance. There have been a number of other related questions on dreams within this service that you may find helpful, including Questions #41, #160 and #961.

As for your wondering about why there are no testimonies to healing through the Course reported anywhere -- the only place that healing occurs is in the mind and the only healing that needs to happen is my own, for there is no one else. So what is there to report?! For when my mind is healed, I will know that we all are one -- in the dream and in reality.

Q #1176: You teach that we don't change the world out there through forgiveness; we only change our perception. In my ego experience, however, when I catch the principle behind the problem the problem is gone, and it doesn't occur anymore to me. If that is what you call change of perception, I'm with you. Nothing needs to be projected once I understand the content behind the “problem.” Is it correct to conclude that everything that I bring from darkness into light -- forgiveness -- won't “hide” anymore in form, and, therefore, the principle/content brought to awareness won't happen again in my illusory world?

A: To use an extreme example of what we mean . . . if you were living under the control of a repressive, cruel dictator with no way of leaving, you could practice forgiveness by realizing that this dictator cannot take away the peace that is within you, regardless of the harsh external restrictions affecting you physically. You can thus be at peace internally, having no ill feelings toward the dictator, while your external living conditions remain wretchedly inadequate. In this case, your perception would have changed in the sense that you no longer are projecting your guilt from your mind onto anything external, including your own body. You have brought the darkness of judgment and hatred to the light of Jesus' love in your mind, and so you now look on everything through the eyes of that love. All grievances have thus dissolved and only love remains. Your problem is gone, because you have let go of the ego in this instance.

Sometimes what happens in a relationship where there are conflicts and grievances is that when one person chooses to shift from the ego's purpose (to keep separation alive) to the Holy Spirit's purpose (to see shared interests, thus undoing separation), the other person also breaks the special-relationship bargain with the ego, and then the relationship changes for the better. But this is not always the case, and one should have no investment in that happening. As Jesus emphasizes in A Course in Miracles , our only responsibility is to accept the Atonement for ourselves (T.2.V.5:1) . When we accept the Atonement (that the separation never happened), there is no more guilt in our minds; and if there is no more guilt, there is no need for the defenses of denial and projection against the pain of that guilt. This is the essence of what Jesus teaches us in Lessons 79 and 80 -- there is only one problem and it has been solved already (W.pI.79,80). Regardless of what is going on externally, our inner peace would never be disturbed once we let go of our identification with the ego thought system.