Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 8/22/2007
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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1199 Is the Course "not for spiritual giants"?
Q #1200 Can my choice of type of specialness have unexpected results?
Q #1201 Who is "the Father" in the Course?
Q #1202 Is it harmful to hear wrong ideas?
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Q #1199: I have heard Ken say at least a few times that A Course in Miracles is "not for spiritual giants" and that it is for people at the "bottom rung of the ladder." It is probably just my identification with the ego that causes me to be bothered by this, but consciously I feel it is because I want to be using the most effective/ fastest path to get me home. Ken's teachings on the Course have helped me a lot in being sure I am interpreting the Course clearly, but I really thought the Course was the best means. Is it not? Can you comment more on those comments by Ken? If the Course is for people on the bottom rung of the ladder, is it fair to say that most of us are not even on the ladder at all?
A: It is a humbling thought indeed. But, considering the amount of material devoted to helping us with our guilt, hatred, judgment, and specialness, and above all, with remembering that we have a mind, it is not hard to accept that Jesus is not addressing “spiritual giants.” Moreover, he refers to us babies, infants, and children -- in the spiritual sense, of course. Surely, though, if we learn the lessons he is teaching us, we will wind up at the top of the ladder, and perhaps get there “faster” than if we had used other means, but his message and teaching is not directed at those already at the top -- the advanced teachers of God, and certainly not the Teachers of teachers who are no longer on the ladder at all (M.26.2) .
Staying with the metaphor of the ladder, we can say that everyone has at least one foot on the first rung, however precarious the grip might be, because everyone has a right mind, and as Jesus assures us, we are not totally insane (T.16.VI.8:8) . Everyone, in some way, has thoughts of kindness and selflessness, although they may be infrequent and fleeting.
There are countless people who are deeply grateful for the Course, because they feel that they have finally found the path they have long been searching for. But most of us are contending with tremendous resistance coming from our fear of what we sense Jesus is saying and where this course is leading us. We like to think of ourselves as spiritual, and that is not wrong or dishonest. Yet we have a very hard time just shifting the purpose of our relationships and our involvement in the world, let alone accepting our identity as pure spirit. We even wonder sometimes whether Jesus got it right! What do you mean there is no world! How can you say that sickness is of the mind, not the body -- and worst of all, that the body neither lives nor dies! Are you really serious when you say anger is never justified, and that we are never justified in perceiving ourselves unfairly treated? We struggle with all this; so it is no wonder that he tells us in different ways that we are not yet ready to accept his higher teachings about timelessness, spirit, and oneness, and therefore, that we should concentrate on what we can relate to: our seeming bodily life in the world. Some examples:
“To you the miracle cannot seem natural, because what you have done to hurt your mind has made it so unnatural that it does not remember what is natural to it. And when you are told what is natural, you cannot understand it” (T.16.II.3:1,2).
“One brother is all brothers. Every mind contains all minds, for every mind is one. Such is the truth. Yet do these thoughts make clear the meaning of creation? Do these words bring perfect clarity with them to you? What can they seem to be but empty sounds; pretty, perhaps, correct in sentiment, yet fundamentally not understood nor understandable. The mind that taught itself to think specifically can no longer grasp abstraction in the sense that it is all-encompassing. We need to see a little, that we learn a lot” (W.pI.161.4).
“When revelation of your oneness comes, it will be known and fully understood. Now we have work to do, for those in time can speak of things beyond, and listen to words which explain what is to come is past already. Yet what meaning can the words convey to those who count the hours still, and rise and work and go to sleep by them? (W.pI.169.10:2,3,4)
“O my child! If you knew what God wills for you, your joy would be complete! . . . I cannot tell you what this will be like, for your heart is not ready” (T.11.3:1,6).
We should not be discouraged by this, and we should not spend time pondering where we are on the ladder, because the metaphors of the ladder and the journey give us the impression that the healing process is linear, and it is not. Jesus speaks of the holy instant as “a miniature of eternity” (T.17.IV.11:4) , which is a way of saying that the experience of the holy instant is the experience of being beyond our ego. Since we have not generalized our lessons of forgiveness, we will leave the holy instant and become body centered again, and then go back and forth until there no longer is any attraction to the ego thought system at all. The happy dream, the real world is our destination, when our minds will be at peace -- no conflict, no fear, no guilt. We are then advanced teachers of God, as Jesus describes in the manual (M.4) .
Q #1200: I just want to ask a follow-up question to Question #825 to make sure that I understand the effects of choosing specialness. From the way that I understand it, any problem we have in our life can ultimately be traced back to our desire to be special and distinct from our brothers and sisters. Could that mean we have a problem in our life that is rooted back to our desire for specialness in another aspect of our lives? Let us say that I have a desire to be more intelligent than everyone and choose specialness and act on this desire to be more intelligent. Are you saying that this choice will have the painful effects of illusions, but that these may show up in another aspect of my life that has nothing to do with wanting to be more intelligent than others?
A: The painful effects of choosing an illusion of yourself as a substitute for the truth about yourself will show up in many different ways, not just in the context of your efforts to be more intelligent than others -- that is just the specific form of the underlying content. Another way of saying that we are choosing an illusory identity is to say we are living a lie. Terrible consequences flow from that, obviously. All the unconscious defenses that must be maintained to protect the lie require enormous effort -- our defense system must always be on “high alert” for anything that could expose the lie and destroy our special position. These dynamics cannot but have a profound effect on all our relationships.
The ultimate cause, though, is our choice to reject the Holy Spirit's response to the “tiny, mad idea” of separation and accept the ego's instead. This is the level on which the “repair work” must take place. The underlying wish is to be superior to God -- that is where the real anguish and pain are. It is a laughable thought, really, but that is the thought reflected in the desire to be more intelligent than others. We all act that out every time we value specialness. In A Course in Miracles, Jesus asks us: “If you perceived the special relationship as a triumph over God, would you want it?” (T.16.V.10:1) The more we make this connection, the more we will realize that we are hurting ourselves in every attempt to be special, for not only will we be caught in the futility of the ego's “seek and do not find” trap (T.12.IV.1:4) , but we will be robbing ourselves of the peace and joy that are our eternal inheritance and our “sacred right” (T.30.V.9:10) .
Q #1201: Who is the Father in the Course? The same as "Our Father in Heaven" of the Bible? The same as Yahweh or another archon or demiurge? Kether or Sin Soph in the Tree of Life? We know that Jesus of the New Testament and the Course is the same teacher.
A: God in A Course in Miracles is the “Father” of Christ His Son. “Father” is in quotes because the distinction is made for our benefit, for we cannot understand non-duality, or pure undifferentiated Oneness. “. . . while you think that part of you is separate, the concept of a Oneness joined as One is meaningless” (T.25.I.7:1); “Nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him” (W.pI.132.12:4). God can only be experienced directly, but not in human terms, because human experience is thoroughly dualistic, and reality is not: “We say ‘God is,' and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is” (W.pI.169.5).
The theology of A Course in Miracles , while using the language of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, is decidedly and irreconcilably different from that tradition and most other systems as well, as is evident from this sampling of the Course's teachings about God: (1) The finite universe is not God's creation (T.11.I4; M.22.5:5); (2) He knows nothing of this world (T.4.II.8:6,7; T.25.VII.3:3,4); (3) God does not condemn (W.pI.46.1; W.pII.10); (4) He does not demand sacrifice: “Sacrifice is a notion totally unknown to God” (T.3.I.4:1) .
The Course also makes it clear that many of the New Testament accounts of Jesus' life and message are inaccurate or distorted. In fact, the entire Course can be read and studied from that point of view. Thus, for example, he speaks of: Atonement without sacrifice, the real message of the crucifixion, and the meaning of resurrection (T.3.I; T.6.I; M.28) ; the meaning of Christmas (T.15.X,XI) , forgiveness and the miracle (W.pII.1,13) , and many, many more.
Kenneth's book “ A Course in Miracles and Christianity: A Dialogue” covers the main points of difference. Other questions on this Service address the differences as well. Our Index will direct you to these: look under A Course in Miracles / other thought systems / Christianity.
Q #1202: Is hearing ideas that are wrong harmful?
A: It is not clear to us what you mean by “wrong.” Most of us, most of the time, are listening to the ego, and anything the ego advocates will be “harmful” only in the sense that it will reinforce the pain of our separation from God and our true Self. All we need to do is become aware of that and look without judgment at these ideas. To be afraid of them or to fight against them is to make them real and give them a power they do not have. By looking at them without judgment, you are strengthening your identification with your right mind, and then, gradually, you will be less and less influenced by them.
In general, it is always best to be guided by the rule of kindness: kindness to yourself and others, which means if you have thoughts that would hurt you or others if acted on, it is best not to act on them.