Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 11/28/2007
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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1249 How does the non-dualism of the Course compare with other non-dualistic approaches?
Q #1250 Might my sleeping difficulties be related to practising the "I am spirit" lesson ?
Q #1251 If our thoughts create reality, how can all our conflicting thoughts co-exist?.
Q #1252 Why did God send the Holy Spirit, and is the Holy Spirit the same thing as Jesus?.
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Q #1249: I have been a student of yoga for many years, and have studied numerous east and west perspectives of non-dualism. A Course in Miracles seems to be a different kind of non- dualism. I wonder if you have an idea of how this differs from other non-dualistic philosophies? I also have in my study substituted Guru-Spirit for Holy Spirit. Does the Course allow for such an exchange of terms?
A: A Course in Miracles is a strict non-dualism, which means that God alone is real. Nothing finite, limited, or imperfect is real, which also means that nothing lacking the perfect Love of God is real -- sin, for example, cannot be real. This type of radical monism is also found in the highest teachings of the Vedanta school of Hinduism, where all multiplicity and finitude is regarded as illusory. Brahman, the Ultimate Reality, is the only true reality. This absolute non-dualism differs from the mitigated forms of non-dualism, which loosely fall into the category of pantheism ( pan- theos , meaning all things are God). In pantheistic systems, diversity is real, but only as parts of one Divine Being, not in the form of distinct beings with their own existence. There are examples of this in the West, but it is more prevalent in Eastern philosophies. Generally speaking, in the devotional traditions ( Bhakti ) of the East, the world and persons are real, but not as independent beings. They are real only as modes of the Divine Reality, in whom their ultimate reality is rooted.
The implications of these views of what constitutes reality are profound, and the exploration of that is the subject of Kenneth's book, Love Does Not Condemn: The World, the Flesh, and the Devil According to Platonism, Christianity, Gnosticism, and “A Course in Miracles.”
With regard to substituting Guru-Spirit for Holy Spirit , if that works for you, then continue with it. The form is not what is important, only the content -- of an inner teacher.
Q #1250: I have been applying Lesson 97 “I am spirit” (W.pI.97) for two weeks, and lately have been having trouble sleeping. I think that my application of "I am spirit" and my sleep difficulties are related. Have you ever run across this?
A: It is possible that there is a connection. However, it may not be the lesson itself that is the cause, but the decision your mind has made to take what the lesson says seriously. And that itself could be a result of all the work you have already done in your mind up to this point. Without realizing it consciously, you could have become more fearful of what A Course in Miracles really means, in terms of your identity and your life. This fear could then be expressed physically or psychologically -- sleep difficulties are just one form this fear could take. Most students go through something like this -- it is inevitable. Our whole approach to relationships, as well as everything else about our lives would have to change if we integrate the Course; and therefore we would experience the Course as tremendously threatening, even though we are strongly attracted to it and have chosen it as our spiritual path.
While it is natural to experience some agitation and anxiety when practicing the lessons, it is also important not to get overly serious about your process, and above all, not to force yourself to change in any way. Gentleness and patience should always guide your practice. If you experience anything else, then more than likely your ego has crept in and is trying to take over as your teacher. Simply slow down a little, and reassure yourself that when you are ready, you will take the next step, and it doesn't matter when that is. Time is irrelevant to Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
If behavioral difficulties persist, then sometimes the most loving thing you can do for yourself (which is a way of practicing the Course) is to get some external help.
Q #1251: I am having difficulty understanding how my interactions with other people who are going through the same process of learning that their thoughts are creating reality are able to coexist and not interfere with one another. If I believe and understand that reality is a manifestation of thought, does this not have an effect on other people? What if I have thoughts about another person? -- how can my reality possibly make our two realities come together? If the situation has been decided by all involved beforehand, then I feel as though I am in a grand illusion that is no longer a good space to be in. It would be nice to get some validation that I'm not a puppet on someone's string. I am giving 100% to learning how to relearn that the world, and this email for that matter, is only a thought and nothing more. I got the concept that we are all the same energy, but I don't understand it when it relates to individuality.
A: No, you are not a “puppet on someone's string”; and A Course in Miracles' theory of time does not entail predestination. In fact, one of the major objectives of Jesus' teaching is to have us realize that our decision to choose the ego or him as our teacher determines what our experience will be at every instant. But it would not be entirely accurate to say that we therefore “create our reality.”
If I choose the ego as my teacher, then my thoughts will emanate from the thought system of separation, and whatever is going on externally will be interpreted by me (my decision maker) accordingly. The ego thought system will be a kind of template, in terms of which my internal experience of the external will be “created.” When I interact with you, for instance, my ego needs will determine how I experience you. I do not create your reality; I “create” my perception of you based on my prior choice to listen to the ego rather than Jesus or the Holy Spirit. And my perception of you may not even square with the objective reality, because my ego needs could result in distorted perception -- which is frequently the case.
It is next to impossible for us to jump from our experience of ourselves as physical/psychological individuals to an experience of ourselves as minds not bound by time or space. Even the intellectual understanding of mind is not easy for us, as you have found. One of the reasons for this difficulty is that we are far more invested in the ego thought system than we realize, and since the core of the ego's strategy is to keep us mindless, attempting to perceive a realm beyond the body and specifics (the realm of mindlessness) would seem quite unnatural and frustrating to us, and almost impossible to attain. We would be fighting against ourselves to perceive everything as mind when, at the same time, we are upholding a decision to deny our identity as mind.
Therefore, what might help ease the pressure and confusion you are experiencing is to approach this issue from a different direction: shifting your focus to the purpose or the way you are using the world, your body, and your relationships, rather than trying so hard to relate to the world and everyone as thought. It is true that there is only mind and thoughts in the mind; but your experience of that will come more naturally if you focus first on becoming comfortable with recognizing the purpose in your mind that is motivating the way you relate and interact in the world. The practice of this would lead you eventually to see beyond the appearances of individuality to the decision-making mind that is “in charge.” Then you would see that no one is under anyone else's control, unless that kind of experience is wanted; but then that choice could be changed at any instant.
For example, as long as we identify with the ego's thought system of separation, it is a given that we will relate to each other in the context of specialness, which means we will judge some people as not deserving of our love, compassion, and forgiveness -- even ourselves at times. Specialness and exclusion go hand in hand. We can thus learn to recognize how we use people to keep ourselves in the particular state of specialness we desire -- to get what we want. Even further, the roots of specialness are hidden in the mind's compulsion to see and judge differences; and so we can learn to recognize that dimension in our relationships as well.
As we continue this process of looking and observing, we will be shifting our attention more and more away from form to the content in our minds. And eventually we will relate to ourselves and everyone else primarily on that level, while at the same time we will be functioning normally in our day-to-day activities (form). Thus, when we realize how we make differences important, and then seek to correct that (we change teachers in our mind), our perception will shift to the interests we all share -- that we all are suffering tremendous anguish and guilt over believing we selfishly separated from our Source, and that we all are longing to go back home to Heaven. As that becomes our abiding perception, then our investment in individuality will begin to weaken, without our even working on that directly.
The transition to the experience of everything as mind, thus, would be more natural, and certainly more gentle than trying to pressure ourselves to get beyond the body and form entirely. This is why Jesus reminds us often that we are involved in a process of undoing what we have made in error. We start where we are -- with what we are most familiar with. Near the end of the text, Jesus tells us, “Salvation does not ask that you behold the spirit and perceive the body not. It merely asks that this should be your choice” (T.31.VI.3:1). Thus, our willingness to change from the ego's purpose to the Holy Spirit's purpose for the world and the body is what will facilitate the gentle transition to true perception, and to the vision we share with Jesus.
Q #1252: If God is not aware of our illusion of separation, how did He know to send the Holy Spirit to help us? One thought that comes to me is that the Holy Spirit is a construct of, (or is?) our Christ Mind and so was in our mind, and remains so, even when we imagine that we are separate. Therefore, are Jesus, and the Christ Mind, and the Holy Spirit and the "Son of God" all the same? Is the idea of Trinity really a twosome (God and his Creation meaning all of the above terms?) I would be so grateful for your input.
A: We have already answered your first question, and refer you to Questions #459 and #616 for our response. The Holy Spirit, as presented in A Course in Miracles is not considered a construct of our Christ Mind. He symbolizes for us the memory of our true Self that resides in the sane part of our post-separation mind -- an illusory split mind, of course, as the separation never truly happened. You might say that the Holy Spirit is in the Mind of God, not the Christ Mind, insofar as Jesus tells us that when the separation is completely undone, the Holy Spirit will no longer take form -- as the Voice for God -- but will return to the eternal formlessness of God (C.6.5:8) . Another discussion of this with additional references may be found in Question #1159.
Questions #625 and #626 pertain to your queries about the nature of God and Jesus. What always helps when trying to piece together a theology is to remember that we are dealing with symbols. Reality is pure oneness, which is incomprehensible to us as long as we experience ourselves as individuals consciously thinking about issues. This is the main point of Jesus' discussion in the first section of Chapter 25 (T.25.I.5,6,7). He uses language and concepts that we can understand, but his purpose is to lead us beyond that level to the experience of God's Love, which transcends all form and symbol. Jesus, as we describe in #626 above, reflects or symbolizes God's Love in a form we can relate to, and in this sense he is not the Christ Mind. He is the Son of God, the same as we are in our separated state. In emphasizing our equality with him on this level, he corrects the biblical view that he alone is God's Son, and we the adopted sons of God. The term Son of God is also used in the Course to refer to Christ, our true Self, the Second Person of the Trinity. Thus, the term is used for our true Self, Christ, as part of the Oneness of God's Being, and it is also used for the post-separation self, or the decision maker that can choose to awaken from the dream of separation from God.