Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 12/19/2007

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1259 How can I bring a problem to Jesus in my mind if I'm not aware of him?
Q #1260 Shouldn't the Course warn us about the emotions it might stir up?
Q #1261 Am I afraid of love if I don't want a relationship?
Q #1262 If this world holds nothing for me - should I be seeing God in everything?.

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Q #1259: How can I bring a problem to the love of Jesus in my mind if I'm not even aware of his presence there?

A: Expressed in other terms, bringing a problem to the love of Jesus is to look at your problem from the perspective of your right mind. While we have split off the right mind from our awareness, it is still there. We just need to choose against the ego (the wrong mind) more and more, and then we will gradually regain awareness of our right mind. As the process continues, you would come to experience this as a loving, non-judgment presence, though whether you call it Jesus or not is unimportant. In your right mind you know that separation is not real, and so you do not project, judge, or take anything that goes on in the world seriously. Attracted more to forgiveness and the undoing of thoughts of separation, you would automatically see your problem in a different light now. You would want to see the sameness between yourself and everyone else and minimize the differences, without ignoring them. You would realize that your right mind represents your true Self, and you would eventually feel more at home there than in the ego's home (your wrong mind) of specialness, judgment, conflict, and death. You would therefore approach the problems that arise in your life in a very different way, more in line with your purpose of asking for help to remove all interferences to your awareness of love's presence.

Other related discussions may be found in Questions #319, #934, and #1127.

Q #1260: Given the kinds of emotional problems many people have, shouldn't there be a warning or a caution of some kind at the beginning of the workbook, as doing the lessons will inevitably stir up “stuff” that could be difficult to deal with? Related closely to this: is A Course in Miracles not a pointless journey?

A: As a self-contained curriculum, it is not up to us to second-guess its author's methods. But the spirit of your question raises an important issue. There is no doubt that this is a difficult journey and that there will be periods of discomfort during the process of letting go of our investment in the ego thought system. In fact, in the manual, of the six stages in the development of trust that Jesus describes, he says four are likely to be experienced as uncomfortable (M.4.I) .

Then, too, there is much in the Course about the fear, and even terror, that arises from going within and looking at our ego. The ego thought system is not nice -- it is an expression from beginning to end of hatred, murder, sacrifice, victimization, specialness, and judgment. But we are told on page after page that it all rests on the mistaken belief that we can and have separated from God and crucified His Son. The truth, though, is that we never separated and could never separate from our Source, and that is why our only responsibility is to accept the Atonement for ourselves (T.2.V.5:1) , which we can do only in the context of our ordinary day-to-day experiences that reflect back to us the teacher we have chosen in our minds (T.21.in) . Thus, Jesus tells us, “No one can escape from illusions unless he looks at them, for not looking is the way they are protected. There is no need to shrink from illusions, for they cannot be dangerous. . . . together we have the lamp that will dispel it [the ego thought system] . . . . we must look first at this to see beyond it, since you have made it real. We will undo this error quietly together, and then look beyond it to truth (T.11.V.1:1,2,3,5,6).

An indispensable part of our process as students of A Course in Miracles is remembering that the ego has no power of its own, only what our minds give it. Looking at our ego manifestations with the Holy Spirit will help us remember that, and therefore we will learn not to take it so seriously, which we do whenever we judge ourselves or others for having an ego. If there were a warning at the beginning of the workbook lessons, Jesus would be saying that the ego is real and that getting in touch with it could be dangerous. But that goes directly against everything he says about the ego and how we should approach it. He is teaching us that the ego has no substance and that it is only a mistaken belief about ourselves that we are holding on to. His emphasis throughout is that we trust him to lead us, and to be as gentle, kind, and patient with ourselves as he is with us, and not force ourselves to work through anything that is too fearful. The opportunity to learn a forgiveness lesson will always be there, and since he does not believe that time is real, he never puts pressure on us to learn our lessons within a certain time frame. If we emulate his gentle guidance with ourselves and others, we will make our way through the rough spots and be fine in the long run.

If, however, as is sometimes the case, this process stirs up “stuff” that is experienced as overwhelming, then the kind and gentle thing to do would be to seek help from a kind therapist, and then return to the Course process when you are more stable emotionally and psychologically.

The unsettling experiences of many students is addressed in other questions on this service. You may wish to read some of these listed in the Topics Index under A Course in Miracles/study and practice of/practice is causing fear and discomfort.

Finally, we do not see this as a pointless journey, as it is a means of undoing the mistaken beliefs in our minds that have lead to all of our pain and problems. As long as we continue to react to our bodies and the world as though they were real, then we need help to rid our minds of these illusory thoughts so that we can regain the state of peace in which we were created to live forever.

Q #1261: If someone loves you, desires a special relationship with you, pledges their devotion and undying love, but you are still not attracted to that person in that way, and prefer to live alone, does that mean you are afraid of love? Should you consider a special relationship with that person? Ken says in “Living the Course” (audio album) that we should not abandon our special relationships, for they are opportunities for learning. Is it wrong to turn away love on the level of form? Are we not told to "give them what they want" when they seek love?

A: Frequently, students avoid their feelings of attraction to someone because they think that special relationships are bad and should never be entered into. And, just as frequently, students will leave special relationships for the same reason. Both attitudes seriously misconstrue what A Course in Miracles teaches. The point is that our relationships are the curriculum Jesus uses to help us get in touch with the choices we are making in our minds so that we can then shift the purpose for which we are using them from an unholy one (separation) to a holy one (the Holy Spirit's forgiveness process).

This does not mean that you should start up a relationship with someone to whom you are not attracted, for the sole purpose of learning lessons. You already have many special relationship classrooms, by virtue of your being the child of parents (alive or deceased), a relative of other family members, a friend, a member of certain groups, an employee/employer, a neighbor, a pet owner possibly, a consumer, a citizen, etc. In other words, you are not deprived of classrooms because you prefer to live alone. Special relationships are in the mind, meaning the way we relate to others reflects the choice we have made in our mind to live out the ego's thought system or the Holy Spirit's thought system. The form or expression of this varies greatly, and is not limited to sexual and romantic partners. The holy relationship is simply the correction of our choice to identify with the ego, and the expression of that choice with others.

One of the defining characteristics of special love is that it excludes in some way. On the level of content , in other words, it singles out and separates -- not everyone is included in your love. This is the core of specialness. On the other hand, you can spend most of your time with one person, but in content, be excluding no one -- this is the nature of a holy relationship, which means you are centered in your right mind. Likewise, in form, you may live alone, but your love, compassion, and forgiveness would extend to everyone, without exception.

Since “love is content, and not form of any kind” (T.16.V.12:1) , you may not necessarily be rejecting love if someone “loves you, desires a special relationship with you, [and] pledges their devotion and undying love,” and you do not respond on that level. You need only look within your mind for ego complicity in your decision, some signs being fear, judgment, repulsion, selfishness, anger, vengeance. You can still enfold this person in your love and compassion (content) without being romantically involved with him or her (form). You just want to notice whether there is a “charge” to your preference to live alone -- if so, then it would be a good idea to ask for help to look at the hidden content.

You answer a person's call for love in content , by seeing him or her as one with you, sharing the same interests as God's Son, as both an ego and the Self of Christ. The form of the relationship would then flow from this decision to undo whatever you have used to keep yourself separate from others and from God. That is why Jesus speaks of forgiveness as “an earthly form of love, which as it is in Heaven has no form” (W.pI.186.14:2) .

Q #1262 : In knowing that this world holds nothing for me, nothing that I want, and that beyond this world is the world I want (W.pI.128,129), should I be seeing God in everything, or is that validating what is not real?

A: Seeing God in everything means seeing His purpose in everything. This is not meant literally, of course, because God knows nothing of the world: “There is no world! This is the central thought the course attempts to teach” (W.pI.132.6:2,3). It means choosing to identify with the content in our right mind instead of the content in our wrong mind. The world then is seen as a classroom, and our interactions become the means of undoing our thoughts of separation from everyone else and from God. We learn to use the world for this purpose of correcting our thoughts, which replaces our former purpose of using the world to further our existence as separate, special, bodily selves. Our eyes will continue to see the same things, but our perception of what our eyes see will be vastly different, meaning we will “see” that we all share the same interests and the same split mind. A gradual reduction of tension and conflict and a growing sense of inner peace will flow from this new purpose.

Question #918 also discusses the meaning of these lessons.