Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 8/8/2007

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1191 Is inner work "enough" in this life ?
Q #1192 Wat is beyond the physical?
Q #1193 Why do I always fail to turn to Jesus for help?
Q #1194 Can I apply ACIM principles to my study of Reiki?

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Q #1191: My inclination has been for years to feel that I have enough work to do in personal encounters and relationships, and that I do not have to look for more issues coming from the media. I am convinced that the world will not become a better place, and so, not in resignation, but happily, I turn to the only place to go in seriousness, which is inside, and do the work there. I am asking about this because I remember thinking that the world will change some day because of our inner work, and then we will see happy headlines instead of catastrophic headlines.

A: It seems as if you are reflecting the important principle of A Course in Miracles : “Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T.21.in.1:7) . It is essential to understand this passage as pertaining only to content, not form. The opening statement of the paragraph in which this quote appears provides its context: “Projection makes perception” (T.21.in.1:1) . This is the thrust of Jesus' teaching and his training of us. He wants us to learn how to perceive correctly, which means learning to make a connection between our perception and the prior choice we made in our minds to identify with the ego thought system or the Holy Spirit's thought system. Our interpretation of what our eyes see follows directly from that choice. If we identify with the thought system of forgiveness, we can look on scenes of overwhelming devastation and know that devastation has nothing to do with reality (W.pII.13.1:3) . We will not be indifferent to the suffering of others; we will be at peace as we deal with the situations in our lives and the world because we will know that pain and suffering do not define our reality. We will be in the world but not of it.

The origin of the world is a thought of attack (W.pII.3.2:1) , and therefore it is not surprising that headlines constantly scream of disaster and catastrophe. That will continue until the mind of God's Son no longer is attracted to separation. When we are unwilling to pay the high price of being separate, we will ask for help to change our minds about our purpose for being here, and then the world will take on a different purpose: “It becomes a home in which forgiveness is born, and where it grows and becomes stronger and more all-embracing. Here is it nourished, for here it is needed” (M.14.2:2,3) . When every seemingly separate mind has at last accepted the Atonement, the world will not become a better place with “happy headlines”; “It will merely cease to seem to be” (M.14.2:12) . There will be no need for a world when there no longer is any guilt in our minds that needs to be projected. But we needn't fear that the world will disappear before we are ready to leave it behind: “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. The urgency is only in dislodging your mind from its fixed position here” (T.16.VI.8:1,2,3) .

In the section “I Need Do Nothing,” Jesus teaches us how to walk his unique path of forgiveness, a path that has us quietly peaceful in our minds while busily active in the world. It is not a path of indifference or escapism. One way of describing this approach is to say that we learn to become passive to the ego but not to the Holy Spirit. Our peace is sustained by our choice to identify with the Holy Spirit's thought system, because then whatever we do will be done through us, with no effort or strain on our part. That is the essence of Jesus' message in this section: “To do nothing is to rest, and make a place within you where the activity of the body ceases to demand attention. . . . This quiet center, in which you do nothing, will remain with you, giving you rest in the midst of every busy doing on which you are sent. For from this center will you be directed how to use the body sinlessly. It is this center, from which the body is absent, that will keep it so in your awareness of it” (T.18.VII.7:7; 8:3,4,5).

Q #1192: What is beyond the physical? Someone defined insanity as doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. I believe the way the majority of us live is possibly a better definition of insanity: we hunt for food, we eat, sleep, and reproduce. The approaches we have developed to maintain this cycle differ, but with some variation, produce the same results regardless of one's status in society. Can this cycle be a valid reason for our existence?

A: To be technically accurate, we would have to say there is nothing beyond the physical because the physical does not exist. To say that there is something beyond it is to say it is real somehow. However, to start with our experience of the physical as real, we can then say that one of the principal purposes of A Course in Miracles is to help us realize that that experience is a defense against the truth. The truth is that only spirit in a state of perfect Oneness is real. Jesus thus is teaching us how we came to believe that the physical world and body are real and how to undo that erroneous belief. “It cannot be too strongly emphasized that this course aims at a complete reversal of thought” (M.24.4:1). Through our study of the text and our practice of the workbook exercises we will gradually make the shifts in our thinking that will lead us beyond the body (T.18.VI) and beyond all the idols (T.30.III) we made as substitutes for our true Identity as spirit, one with God's Love.

Insanity, from the Course's perspective, is thinking that we really exist apart from God as separate individuals. God is totality. There cannot be anything outside totality, and to think there can be is insanity, for we would then wind up seeing what is not there! Jesus thus instructs us: “There is one life. That life you share with Him. Nothing can be apart from Him and live” (W.pI.156.2:7,8,9); “Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere” (T.23.II.19:6). Our work as students of this course, thus, is to ask our inner Teacher to help us learn how to use the world and the body to undo our belief that we are separate from God, our Source. We thus will be able to live more peacefully, with less guilt, anger, and judgment.

Q #1193: When I feel fearful, I don't ask Jesus for his help. He makes it clear that I have chosen to make myself fearful, and that I should not ask him for release from the fear, but for help with the conditions that made me fearful -- the wish to be separate (T.2.VI.4). Sometimes I do remember to do that, but at other times all I can remember is the four letter prayer, "Help!" Yet, I do want to have him remove all fear and hatred, and to be forgiven. What am I missing here?

A: The only way we can be totally and forever free from fear is by allowing ourselves to get back in touch with the power of our minds to choose. Then we will realize that we have been deceiving ourselves about ourselves, and have been looking on illusions the whole time we thought we were seeing reality (W.pII.240). We are choosing to make illusions true, and then concealing that choice from ourselves. Since that is the root of all fear, what good would it do for Jesus to take away our fear when we are holding onto its cause ? It is not that he is refusing to do it, but that he cannot take our fear away because we are holding onto what is producing it.

In A Course in Miracles , Jesus is also teaching us to take responsibility for our thoughts, for as he says, “You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think” (T.2.VI.2:5,6,7) . Fear comes from our choosing the thought system of separation, and that is where Jesus' help is directed -- toward helping us get in touch with the power of our minds so we can change our decision and then be at peace. That is why he says in the next section: “You may still complain about fear, but you nevertheless persist in making yourself fearful. I have already indicated that you cannot ask me to release you from fear. I know it does not exist, but you do not. If I intervened between your thoughts and their results, I would be tampering with a basic law of cause and effect, the most fundamental law there is. I would hardly help you if I depreciated the power of your own thinking. This would be in direct opposition to the purpose of this course” (T.2.VII.1:1,2,3,4,5,6) . This is very difficult for us to accept and work with because we don't want to accept responsibility for our plight. But that is the only way to sure and lasting peace.

Although Jesus does not remove fear from our minds, he promises to go with us into the recesses of our minds that we have kept concealed in darkness: “Fear lives in darkness, and when you are afraid you have stepped back. Let us then join quickly in an instant of light, and it will be enough to remind you that your goal is light” (T.18.III.2:4,5; see also T.11.V.1:3,4) . We simply need to remember that his comforting presence is there with us at every instant: “If you knew Who walks beside you on the way that you have chosen, fear would be impossible” (T.18.III.3:2) . Thus, looking with Jesus at our attraction to separation is the release from fear; and we practice this each time we choose not to see our interests as separate from anyone else's.

Q #1194: Can you address if it is possible to incorporate the principles of A Course in Miracles in my practice of Reiki? Can I perform Reiki and be still following these principles?

A: The purpose you identify with in your mind is the key to applying the principles of A Course in Miracles . “What is it for ?” is the only question Jesus wants us to ask about anything (T.4.V.6:8,9,10,11; T.24.VII.6:1,2,3) . That simplifies things enormously, because there are only two purposes we can choose: the purpose of the ego (to see ourselves as bodies, separate from others), or the purpose of the Holy Spirit (to see ourselves as sharing the same interests with others). Applying this to performing Reiki means that you would see each session as a means of learning that you and this other person share the same split mind and the power to choose either the ego or the Holy Spirit as your teacher. Thus, the form pertains to the body; but the content pertains to the thought system you choose to identify with.

We have been asked this type of question in relation to other kinds of practices; you might find it helpful to read our answer to Question # 1186 .