Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 10/31/2007

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1234 Could multiple differing accounts of history all be correct?
Q #1235 Can you please explain two Course passages that refer to being in someone else's dream?
Q #1236 Could a "blind" person see like a sighted person?.
Q #1237 How can there be peace unless terrorists are eliminated?

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Q #1234: In my view, the physical world as illusory can be compared to a novel, which, to me means we could speak at least of a relative reality (the content of the novel), the subject studied by scientists, historians, etc. So, for example, there would be a precise sense to any assertion about the “historical Jesus.” I am disturbed by different accounts about the historical Jesus that contradict each other (in the Bible, in the Seth books, in the Cayce readings, in The Disappearance of the Universe , etc.). In my opinion only one of these, if any, can be true (in the illusory world). But a remark in chapter 1 of A Vast Illusion by Kenneth Wapnick, where he speaks about “probable realities” in the sense of the Seth books, seems to indicate that this interpretation is wrong, that a better analogy for the physical world would be a whole library of different novels. Does this mean that the contradictory accounts about the historic Jesus could all be true (in our illusory universe) in some sense?

A: From the perspective of A Course in Miracles perception is always based on whether we are identified in our minds with the Holy Spirit's thought system or the ego's. “You see what you expect, and you expect what you invite. Your perception is the result of your invitation, coming to you as you sent for it. Whose manifestations would you see? Of whose presence would you be convinced? For you will believe in what you manifest, and as you look out so will you see in. Two ways of looking at the world are in your mind, and your perception will reflect the guidance you have chosen” (T.12.VI.5). The ego thought system of separation rests on the reality of sin, guilt, and fear; and at the core of this system are sacrifice, judgment, specialness, and the body. Thus, anyone identified with that thought system would have a need to perceive Jesus or any other symbol of love and enlightenment in those terms in some way -- and many variations and combinations are possible. The Holy Spirit's thought system of the Atonement, on the other hand, rests on the un reality of sin, guilt, and fear; and at the core of this system are forgiveness, all-inclusive love, shared interests, and the means for returning us to our reality as mind and spirit. Jesus thus would be presented, as he is in A Course in Miracles, as a reflection of the pure oneness of Love: as selfless, defenseless, with love and compassion for everyone without exception. But, as he tells us in the manual for teachers, the universal message of love represented by his presence in our dream can come in “many thousands of other forms” (M.1.4:2).

A second major consideration is that a significant number of biblical scholars have concluded that very, very little is known about the historical Jesus -- New Testament accounts of Jesus cannot be relied on for an accurate picture of his life and message. Because of this lack of “objective” evidence, there is no way of evaluating the contradictory accounts of the historical Jesus -- there is nothing to compare them against. In A Course in Miracles , Jesus refers to many biblical sayings and teachings attributed to him and tells us what he really meant, and what he could not possibly have said.

Lastly, also relevant to your interesting query is the Course principle, “All thinking produces form at some level” (T.2.VI.9:14). This is to say that for every thought there is a corresponding reality. Thus, any thought of Jesus in any mind would have some expression in the world of quantum physics. There is nothing in the Course about quantum physics, unfortunately; and so we must leave it at that.

Q #1235: Could you please explain the following passages in the text of A Course in Miracles which refer to being in someone else's dream: T.27.VII.8.2; T.28.II.4:1).

A: It is important to be aware that Jesus is speaking metaphorically when he talks about us dreaming and awakening. We are all very familiar with our experiences of having dreams at night and then waking and realizing, “Oh, it was just a dream! It wasn't real.” Because that is such a common experience that we all can relate to, Jesus describes our spiritual journey as analogous to that type of an experience.

The first passage comes in the section, “The Dreamer of the Dream” (T.27.VII), and the point being made is that the only way we can awaken is to learn that our lives are unfolding only in a dream we ourselves are dreaming. It appears that much of what happens in our lives is done to us, and that is what Jesus is referring to when he says we become part of someone else's dream -- that we perceive ourselves as the victims of what other people do to us or what the world does to us. If when you are dreaming, however, you become aware that you are dreaming (a lucid dreamer), then eventually you would be able to control your dreams and make them anything you want them to be. At the end of this chapter Jesus summarizes this rather forcefully by stating, “The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. No matter what the form of the attack, this still is true. . . . For you would not react at all to figures in a dream you knew that you were dreaming. Let them be as hateful and as vicious as they may, they could have no effect on you unless you failed to recognize it is your dream” (T.27.VII.10:1,2,5,6).

The second passage you refer to comes in “Reversing Effect and Cause” (T.28.II) , and the point is basically the same -- that we have left vacant our role as decision-making minds (the cause), and instead see our experience as the effect of what is done to us: “Nothing at all has happened but that you have put yourself to sleep, and dreamed a dream in which you were an alien to yourself, and but a part of someone else's dream” (T.28.II.4:1). As we know ourselves now, we are alien both to our true Self as Christ (“you have put yourself to sleep”) , and also to the power in our split mind to change our identification from the ego thought system of separation to the Holy Spirit's thought system of forgiveness. If we reverse our thinking that we are victims of what others do to us (i.e., that we are part of someone else's dream), then we begin the process of restoring our role as decision-making minds. Using the metaphor of dreaming again, Jesus thus says, “Yet if you are the dreamer, you perceive this much at least: that you have caused the dream, and can accept another dream as well” (T.28.II.5:2). Jesus then goes on to teach us about the role of the miracle in this process: “The miracle establishes you dream a dream, and that its content is not true” (T.28.II.5:2). This shift frees us to continue our process of removing all that stands in the way of our remembering the Love in which we were created and in which we forever remain.

Q #1236: I've heard it said that we don't see with the body's eyes. Could it be possible, then, for someone who lost his eyes to see like any other?

A: In one sense, yes; in another sense, no. A non-sighted person can “see” like a sighted person on the level of content (mind), but not on the level of form (sensory data). A Course in Miracles teaches that perception is always an interpretation, not a fact; therefore both sighted and non- sighted persons can have similar perceptions. Both can learn to “see” that we all share a common interest and that what separates us is illusory. This would be known as right-minded perception or vision, which is not physical sight. In one passage Jesus tells us: “ The unreal or the real, the false or true is what you see and only what you see. Perception is consistent with your choice, and hell or Heaven comes to you as one” (W.pI.130.10:2,3). This applies to both sighted and non-sighted persons, since Jesus is always speaking about our inner experiences, not what our physical eyes see. Remember, the world (the stimuli that seem to affect our senses) is not what it appears to be: it is “the outside picture of an inward condition” (T.21.in.1:5).

The body does only what the mind tells it to do, as the body is simply a projection of the mind, not an autonomous entity. The body's sensory apparatus is made by the ego to follow certain “laws”; thus, a person who “has lost his eyes” will not have visual data, and in that respect will not “see” what a sighted person sees. The bodily limitations we have are part of our own script, our mind's choice. Our function, then, as students of A Course in Miracles, is to learn that the peace of God within us can in no way be affected by bodily conditions. It is a terribly difficult lesson, but that power of choice is our path to salvation. “I will remain forever as I was, created by the Changeless like Himself. And I am one with Him, and He with me” (W.pI.112.2:2,3).

Q #1237: I know that I must be lost in level confusion, but terrorism has been on my mind. As did Hitler, they target some people but also kill their own. Regardless of whether they are a projection of our collective mind, I do think that they must be purged in the same way that all fascists must. I read about how monks and other devout groups prayed for the peace during the holocaust, but peace (relative though it was) came only with war. Of course, this is causing my already split mind to separate like orange sections.

A: Your perception of terrorists is the critical factor in resolving your dilemma; and as the Course teaches, perception can be either right-minded or wrong-minded -- the same behavior (form) can flow from either the right mind or the wrong mind (the content). From what you say, you apparently perceive terrorists and fascists as victimizers, which means you have chosen the ego as your teacher. The ego never lets us in on this, but perpetual conflict, not enduring peace, is the inevitable outcome of its thought system, because it rests on the divisive principles of one or the other, kill or be killed. There must always be an external enemy of some kind for the ego itself to survive, and we are thus lured into thinking that if we can just get this person or this group out of our lives, everything will be better. But as you have observed, the peace that follows war is partial and never lasts. This will always be the case until we turn inward and see the insanity of this thought system, and then reconsider our choice for the ego as our teacher. This is where A Course in Miracles is most helpful, as its focus is on training us to make the connection between our experience and the thought system we have identified with in our minds. This is why Jesus tells us, “Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T.21.in.1:7).

The insane belief system in our minds that claims peace can be attained through war and that we can stop hostility and hatred by killing people is the problem. The “other way” presented in the Course rests on the premise that we are all one as God's Son, and that there are no exceptions to this. Terrorists and fascists are part of the Sonship the same as everyone else, and therefore to condemn them in our minds is to condemn ourselves, and Jesus as well. If this vision is your point of departure, you are giving yourself a better chance of ending the conflict and pain in your own mind, for you would be proceeding on the basis of truth, not its denial. Then you would approach problems differently. Your response would be motivated by a sincere desire to heal, rather than a desire to eradicate the evildoers in the world, whom you see as the cause of unrest and fear. You would not deny the ego in anyone, but you would see it as the same ego in you (in content, not necessarily in form), and you would realize that violent, hateful behavior is coming from a mind that is itself tortured with pain and conflict that seems unbearable and therefore must be projected.

From this place of compassion in your mind, you would thus be a channel for true justice, which does not see winners and losers, victims and victimizers, but rather, from a larger perspective, what is best for everyone: “Be certain any answer to a problem the Holy Spirit solves will always be one in which no one loses. And this must be true, because He asks no sacrifice of anyone. An answer which demands the slightest loss to anyone has not resolved the problem, but has added to it and made it greater, harder to resolve and more unfair. . . . The principle that justice means no one can lose is crucial to this course” (T.25.IX.3:1,2,3; 5:4). That is what Jesus means by returning justice to love.

The last four sections in Chapter 25 help us understand the basis of the world's notion of vengeful justice, in contrast to Heaven's justice, which is rooted in all-inclusive love and compassion (T.25.VI, VII, VIII, IX). Lesson 200, “There is no peace except the peace of God” (W.pI.200), is also important for understanding the major differences between the peace we seek in the world and the peace we find within our minds -- our natural inheritance as God's Son. “For peace is union, if it be of God” (W.pI.200.11:6). These issues are the subject, as well, of our four tape sets, “The Compassion of the Miracle,” “The Quality of Mercy,” “The Problem of Evil,” and “Justice Returned to Love.” We also direct you to the Interactive index of all topics on this Service, where you will find additional questions and answers under the listing, War.