Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 8/29/2007
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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1203 I feel, under God's Law, my lie would be disordered and chaotic.
Q #1204 I feel confused about "Nothing I see means anything"
Q #1205 What are some differences between the teachings of the Course, and those of Edgar Cayce?
Q #1206 How can we look on devastation but know that it is false?
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Q #1203: I am currently on Lesson 76 "I am under no laws but God's" (W.pI.76). I must admit, up until now, all of the lessons resonated wonderfully with me and my spirit received them well. However, I am having a very hard time with this, and I feel as if I am positioning myself to accept chaos in my life. It appears to me that God's law would not concern itself with me going to work, or even getting there on time, or whether I dressed appropriately or not, and on and on.
A: Yes, you are correct in your understanding of God's law. Most students find it very unsettling (to put it mildly) to discover this aspect of A Course in Miracles' teachings. But it is only the ego in you that feels the outcome would be chaos, because the sane part of your mind knows that you are taking a major step in the direction of restoring lasting peace to your mind. It is essential for the ego's survival to keep you thinking that God and you are separate, that your life takes place in this world, and that you must sacrifice, pray, and do good things to get into Heaven after you die. That is the ego's thought system, which Jesus teaches us is simply an insane substitute for the truth, which is that separation from God is impossible and that we are forever one with Him.
The fact that God does not know about us and our seeming individual lives does not mean that we have been abandoned and are completely on our own without any comfort or guidance. The purpose of our work with the Course is to develop a relationship with Jesus who is always lovingly present in our minds so that we could allow him then to help us identify and then remove the barriers we have placed between ourselves and love's presence (T.16.IV.6:1). That is the only kind of help that is truly of value, and the only kind we should ever want. Making our lives better in this world is a futile endeavor, for nothing but God's eternal peace and Love could ever satisfy us, and our continuing to believe that we really exist as individuals apart from God is what keeps us from experiencing the peace and Love in which we were created.
Questions #131, #157, and #643 all discuss this important issue.
Q #1204: Even though I studied Lessons 28-29 some years ago, I realize I'm still confused about illusions and the universe. If nothing I see means anything, and this is all an illusion (which I am embracing with time), how can a table, or anything else I see with my eyes, share a purpose with the universe, which is also an illusion. And, how can any of this be shared with the purpose of God? Learning how to look on all things with love, appreciation and open-mindedness seems to make the illusion, and all things in it, a reality instead of a dream. Please explain the holy purpose talked about in the lesson. “Above all else I want to see things differently.”
A: The first 50 lessons of the workbook build on one another, contrasting the fundamental principles of the ego thought system with those of the Holy Spirit. All the metaphysical principles of the Course are contained in these lessons. They are the foundation for achieving the workbook's goal of “... [training our minds] in a systematic way to a different perception of everyone and everything in the world” (W.in.4:1) . It is helpful to keep this in mind when reviewing the workbook. To see anything differently means to first see the meaning that has been given to it by the ego. For example: based on past experience, a table is seen as an object to place things on, although of itself the table has no meaning. In like manner, we think we know what everything in the universe is for. What we are not aware of, however, is the purpose given to everything by the mind, depending on its decision to side with the ego's goal -- separation; or the Holy Spirit's -- healing the separation. Nothing means anything because nothing outside of Heaven exists in reality; however, everything shares the purpose the mind attributes to it. Its meaning supports belief in the ego thought system or the Holy Spirit's, Who has a correction for every meaning given to anything by the ego. Thus, His plan for the illusory world shares the purpose of God, because it leads us back to Him. In the practice of the Course we are asked to recognize that we have given meaning to everything we perceive; justifying and defending this meaning (sometimes adamantly), and perhaps even refusing to question our interpretations. These are the blocks to allowing the Holy Spirit to transform the perception of illusion to the memory of reality so that we may awaken from the dream. All we are asked to do is have a little willingness to question our interpretation and ask for the Holy Spirit's help: “The great Transformer of perception will undertake with you the careful searching of the mind that made this world, and uncover to you the seeming reasons for your making it” (T.17.II.5:2).
Accepting the Holy Spirit's plan of forgiveness for everything does not make the illusion real; it makes it useful: “ Illusion makes illusion. Except one. Forgiveness is illusion that is answer to the rest” (W.pI.198.2:8, 9,10). The love and gratitude that is brought to everything is found in forgiveness. To see everything differently is to see it in its light, the core of which is to recognize that nothing outside of the mind has any effect on it. This shift in perception removes all blame from the universe of relationships, places, and situations for the feelings we experience. Forgiveness, therefore, serves as a bridge between the illusory dream and the reality of Heaven, giving everything in the illusion a holy purpose. The bridge is needed because of the belief that the dream is real, and it indeed seems to be. When every illusion has been forgiven, everything will be perceived through the eyes of the love that was always present in the mind, with no effort on our part.
Q #1205: Ken conducted a workshop at A.R.E. in September 2005. Can you highlight some of the differences and similarities between the Edgar Cayce teachings and the Course?
A: Cayce's work focused, for the most part, on helping individual people with their specific conditions. His readings, therefore, were not intended as a comprehensive philosophical or theological system, although there clearly are philosophical and theological aspects to the readings. He spoke of mind or thought as the builder, for example. In contrast, one of the purposes of A Course in Miracles is to provide us with a universal thought system that can be applied on the individual level of our everyday lives. In addition, reincarnation came up frequently in Cayce's readings, whereas in the Course reincarnation is not central to its teachings.
Q #1206: What I've learned so far in studying A Course in Miracles is that there is no real love in this world, and that forgiveness cannot change anything in the world, only our perception of it. We then can look on devastation and know it is false; but we would still be "seeing" the devastation, correct? How does that work? In the crucifixion, for example, was Jesus, as the observer, watching it all happen, as the apostles later reported "seeing it," while at the same time untouched by it? No fear? No pain?
A: Yes, you are correct about there being no real love in this world. The reason is that this world was made by our minds (and remains in our minds, since ideas leave not their source ) to cover the guilt we felt over having destroyed the Love of God. Of course the Love of God cannot be destroyed, but we believed we did it and now are dealing with the consequences of that belief. But we always retain in our minds the memory of our true Identity as one with God, and by choosing to have Jesus be our teacher and model, we can learn to be reflections of that love by undoing all the barriers we have built to hide it -- barriers made of judgment, specialness, hatred, and the wish to be separate. But the love is in our minds, not the world.
In your second point you appear to be referring to one of the Course's definitions of the miracle, which emphasizes its role as a correction: “It does not create, nor really change at all. It merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false” (W.pII.13.1:1,2). Jesus then speaks of forgiveness as “the home of miracles” (W.pII.13.3:1); therefore, it does not change anything in the world, only the perceptions in our minds. Remember, “There is no world! This is the central thought the course attempts to teach” (W.pI.132.6:2,3) ; so Jesus would not be teaching us how to change things in the world when he knows there is no world. But since we believe there is a world, he helps us see that it is but a projection of our own minds, and that we give it all the meaning it has, and that is what he wants us to focus on: the world “is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition. . . . Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T.21.in.1:5,7). We first accept the ego or Jesus as our teacher; then our perception or interpretation of what our eyes see reflects that choice: “Perception seems to teach you what you see. Yet it but witnesses to what you taught. It is the outward picture of a wish; an image that you wanted to be true” (T.24.VII.8:8,9,10; see also T.21.V.1:7; W.pII.304.1:3).
Your eyes could be looking at the twisted wreckage of cars and bodies on the highway, for example, but your perception/interpretation of this event would depend on whether you have chosen the ego or Jesus as your teacher. If you are perceiving with Jesus, your inner peace would not be affected by the outer events, which does not mean, however, that you might not stop and offer assistance if you could -- we are talking only about the content in your mind, not behavior. The ego's interpretation would always center on victims and victimizers, tragedy, loss, fear, anxiety -- anything that would support the reality of separate bodies vulnerable to outside forces and conditions, making their peace and happiness dependent on these externals. (In this context, you might find it helpful to look at Questions # 1111 and #1187.)
Jesus was the perfect manifestation of love. As a totally healed mind -- no ego with guilt to be projected -- he could not fearfully or angrily experience himself as a crucified body or an unfairly treated victim, as he explains in “The Message of the Crucifixion” (T.6.I.5:3; 9:1,2). His mind could do only one thing: love. We are the ones who give form to that love, as our fear and needs allow. The problem we have in comprehending this is that we usually try to understand it from our reference point as bodies. But it can never be understood on that level because our perception of ourselves as bodies is itself a choice to separate ourselves from our minds and from the truth. So our concentration should be on the process of forgiveness, which will undo the many ways in which we interfere with love's communication in our minds. A clear understanding of these “theories” will then emerge.
Several other questions on this Service provide a comprehensive discussion of the crucifixion and Jesus' life from the point of view of A Course in Miracles : see, for example, Questions #401b, #505, #510, and #563.