Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 12/26/2007

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1263 If God is not aware of our separation, why do we need Atonement?
Q #1264 What is the definition of forgiveness, and how should I apply it in a legal dispute?
Q #1265 What is the best way to meditate?
Q #1266 Was it just my ego that made me want a special-needs child?
Q #1267 Can I help someone who has died?

Chronological List of All Questions.
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Q #1263 : If God is not aware of the world, or our separation from Him, then why did we have a Jesus for Atonement?

A: The principle of the Atonement states that the separation never happened; there is no separated Son of God, no sin, no world, and no need for redemption or salvation. This is what we refer to as Level One discourse in A Course in Miracles . But since we clearly believe we exist as individuals in a world that is quite real, the Course talks to us on that level, too: Level Two. In that context, the Atonement principle represents the part of our split mind that remembers the truth of Oneness, and corrects all of the misperceptions we have about God, Jesus, ourselves, and the world.

Having listened to the ego's tale of a vengeful God intent on punishing us for attacking Him and making up a world to replace Him, we fear God and seek to make amends in hopes of avoiding the horrible fate we believe we deserve. The Course presents a gentle, though decisive, correction of these terrifying concepts, which have dominated religious traditions for thousands of years. Thus, in place of the biblical Jesus who carries out his Father's Will through sacrificial crucifixion and then bodily resurrection, A Course in Miracles presents a loving, non-judgmental Jesus who is the reflection of God's Love in our mind. He thus symbolizes the love in our own minds that we had split off, and, as would an older and wiser brother, helps us recognize the sinlessness in each other and ourselves, thus easing our fears and gaining our trust. Then, through our practice of forgiveness, we gradually withdraw our belief in the insane idea that we had ever separated from God.

To summarize, Atonement, according to A Course in Miracles , is the happy truth that we were mistaken in believing that we ever did something that put us in need of salvation.

Expanded discussions of these core ideas may be found in Questions #328, #459, and #616, which also provide references to passages in the Course that explain and clarify the issues.

Q #1264: Can you guide me through the process of forgiveness? I have been reading your answers and understand that it is my own projection of guilt that is causing my pain. My current cause of pain is one in which a tenant owes me over $2,000. Although the tenant has now been evicted, I am faced with a decision to file a civil law suit, which may not result in retrieving the back rent, or letting the whole thing go. Since I want to use this experience to get out of this hell of reality on this planet, I do not know which decision to make. Will my ego just become more incensed, or will the Holy Spirit actually lead me out of this insanity called life on earth? Please start with a concrete definition of forgiveness .

A: Forgiveness is the undoing of everything we made to take the place of our reality as Christ in Heaven, accepting the Atonement principle that states we never left our Source. Not a very satisfying definition! The problem is that forgiveness really cannot be understood or deemed useful without setting it in the context of the entire thought system that Jesus presents in this course. But you have already grasped a major chunk of the Course's metaphysics and its process of forgiveness in understanding that the projection of your guilt is the source of your pain. Projection makes perception is the key principle. That means that your view of life on this planet as hell and insanity is reflecting what you think is true about yourself in your mind, but have denied and then projected. In other words, you are interpreting the world through the eyes of your guilt. As Jesus expresses it, the world “is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition” (T.21.in.1:5). The meaning that the world holds for us comes entirely from the choice we make in our minds to accept either the ego or Jesus as our teacher. Our internal experience of the world, therefore, tells us which teacher we have chosen.

Based on this much, your question should not be, Should I proceed with the law suit or not? but rather, Which teacher do I want to have guide me? Guide you in what? -- in making fear and guilt real, or in letting go of your belief in their reality. Nothing else is relevant in the situation. If you choose Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) as your teacher, your purpose will be to learn that you are guiltless, and Jesus can use either option to help you with that. The purpose of what you do is important in releasing you from hell, not what you do. If you can identify with love for just an instant, you will automatically know whether to proceed with the law suit or not; and you will be peaceful. That is the goal. Even if you have no clear sense of what to do, you can still be peaceful, for forgiveness teaches you that your peace and security are within you, completely independent of external circumstances. You would then just do what makes the most sense to you; but the situation would no longer have a charge to it, and you would not have an investment in the way it turns out. Question #953 adds another helpful perspective to this.

Remember, hell and insanity are the outcome of our choice to make sin and guilt real in our minds; they have nothing to do with what appears to be the outside world. And therefore the only way out of hell and insanity is to reverse that choice. That is what forgiveness is. And that is the meaning of the lesson “I loose the world from all I thought it was,” which echoes the text in saying, “The world is nothing in itself. Your mind must give it meaning. And what you behold upon it are your wishes, acted out so you can look on them and think them real” (W.pI.132.4:1,2,3). And so, Jesus teaches us, “To free the world from every kind of pain is but to change your mind about yourself” (W.pI.132.10:2). Look within, then, with Jesus as your gentle, loving eyes, and see the peace and quiet beyond the made-up insanity that has no power to change your reality as God's beloved creation. Thus does Jesus say of forgiveness, that it “is still, and quietly does nothing. . . . It merely looks, and waits, and judges not” (W.pII.1.4:1,3).

Q #1265: I am currently in my third attempt at the workbook in 15 years. I realize my question has to do with form and specifics, but could we get some specifics on how to meditate? I thought I read that Jesus gave some tips to Helen and Bill that were edited out.

A: No, there were no meditation tips for Helen and Bill that were edited out of A Course in Miracles . In terms of your practice, there is no right or wrong way to meditate. There are specific instructions now and then in the workbook about getting quiet and meditating, but the emphasis is not on the form -- this is not a course in meditation, as are some other paths.We have discussed this topic in several other questions on this Service. See, for example, Questions #394, #730, and #830.

Q #1266: After a miscarriage, I spoke to the source, on top of a mountain in North Carolina . I let him know that I had two healthy and whole children, and if there was a special-needs child that needed to come here that he thought I could care for, that I would be his vessel. My gift from the source is now ten years old. But as my studies of A Course in Miracles expand, I feel that maybe my "God's" gift is an ego script. As I look at my beautiful child who will never understand the Course's words but will walk the walk of love, I wonder what was it that I asked for and received.

A: There is no need to go back into the past -- you did what you thought was best at the time. There is no way of knowing whether you were right-minded or wrong-minded in making your request for a special-needs child. It would benefit you more, in terms of your spiritual process, to focus on your relationship with this child in the present. And what that really means is being aware of any ego needs you might have that are being played out in the relationship. Whatever was unhealed in your mind ten years ago is still there, and therefore is still being projected in the present. Looking gently and without judgment at the ego-motivated choices you become aware of right now is how the healing of your mind takes place. Time is irrelevant to this process.

It might also be helpful to realize that, in a sense, we are all special-needs children! We did unimaginable damage to our minds by choosing individual specialness instead of staying with the unity and wholeness in which we were created as extensions of infinite Love. To make matters worse, we then split ourselves off from the Voice within our minds that was reminding us, and still is, that our separation from Love was only a tiny, mad idea, and that we never did what we thought we did. Everyone of us, without exception, and regardless of the form of limitation or handicap, shares the same content in our minds -- both the pain of being separate from our Source, and the Call to deny this denial of the truth, in recognition of our oneness as God's eternally loved Son.

Q #1267: Is there any way within A Course in Miracles to help someone who has died? My niece was very troubled when she passed away two years ago prior to my starting the Course. At that time I prayed as I had always done, believing it would help somehow; but now I'm not sure how to approach it in the context of the Course. Can a holy relationship be established in a case like this?

A: All that is required to establish a holy relationship is to ask for help to change the purpose of the relationship from an ego-motivated one to a Holy Spirit-motivated one. This means shifting from seeing your interests as separate from your niece's to seeing them as shared. That she is no longer physically present is not relevant to this process, as what this is ultimately about is undoing your unholy relationship with your ego, which means undoing your belief in separation. How effective a way to practice this! You shift toward the holy relationship by recognizing that both you and your niece are one on the level of mind, both having a wrong mind, a right mind, and the power to choose between them. Death was made by the ego as one of many strategies to prevent us from ever regaining this realization of our oneness as minds. A holy relationship, thus, corrects our erroneous perceptions of each other, which are all aimed at eradicating any sense that we are one as God's Son. The body simply embodies our mind's insane wish to be other than that.

Try, then, to recognize how you are perceiving your niece as different and separate from you -- by seeing her, for example, as victimized and powerless in the face of her inadequacies and weaknesses, and that you can help her out of that bind. A better approach would be to think of her as sharing with you both the ego self and the Christ Self, and the power to choose between them. Then respect her choice for the ego, just as you are learning to forgive yourself for choosing your ego, in recognition of the truth of the Atonement that you remain as God created you. Your choice for insanity has no power to change that truth, which defines both you and your niece, as well as everyone else. This will center you in your right mind, and from there love will direct you in a form that will remind others of the love in them, and of the power they have to make the same choice for love that you did.

Question #96 also discusses this topic.