Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 01/02/2008

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1268 Is the term "special relationships" limited to relationships with people?
Q #1269 How have others reacted to an experience of one-ness ?
Q #1270 Should I risk re-involvement with a previous partner?
Q #1271 What would be the best way to share the Course with my (Catholic) family?

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Q #1268 : Is the term "special relationships" confined to relationships with people, or does it also apply to everything you are in relation to; e.g, objects, place, animals, work and so on?

A: Special relationships may be formed with anything at all, although A Course in Miracles focuses primarily on relationships with people. Whenever there is dependency on something external for any reason at all, there is a special relationship. We thus can have a special relationship with a pet, a car, a plant, clean air, a flavor of ice cream, our own body, a job, and so on. The basis of the special relationship is our experience of incompleteness and lack, the result of our decision to leave our true home and our true Identity in God. We (as the one Son) denied that and then projected ourselves from the mind into a deficient, needy, limited body, dependent on a vast array of things and people just to survive physically and psychologically. This false self- perception, maintained by our ongoing decision to identify with the ego thought system of separation, impels us to form one special relationship after another, until we recognize our mistake and then choose to listen to the Teacher Who reminds us of the eternal innocence and invulnerability of the Self we share with everyone.

For additional study, you might wish to look at Questions #130 and #340, which discuss pets as part of the Sonship, and #725 focuses on the unitary mind at the source of all perception of differences and fragmentation.

Q #1269: I have been a student/teacher of A Course in Miracles since 1977. A few years ago, I was "graced" with an awareness of my Oneness and my Totality with all that is. The experience is, of course, beyond verbal description. My life was forever transformed. The knowing was transcendent. Can you tell me how others who have "been there" and are "in the world but not of it" are responding to such an awareness?

A: We have answered other questions along these lines, and we refer you to them for discussion and references to helpful passages in the Course: #39 and #101. In general, what would characterize the experience of a healed mind is the effortlessness of life, because there would no longer be any interference or opposition to love's presence. Love would just flow through, answering all calls for help in forms that would be accepted without fear. There are no visible signs that distinguish an egoless person from one who is still processing, other than that the egoless person perhaps smiles more frequently (W.pI.155.1) . To truly know and experience that we are all one and that whatever seems to separate us is totally false simplifies one's life immensely, in that it relieves all the intensity and conflict normally associated with life as an individual, vulnerable, competitive, physical/psychological self.

Q #1270: Three years ago I ended a long-term relationship with a man who was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, and who also suffered from psychotic episodes. Eventually, I saw clearly how my ego had kept me miserable and trapped, and in my desperation I was able to find and embrace A Course in Miracles , which ended my nightmares and a potential breakdown. The gentleman recently contacted me, promising to have changed and wanting to be with me again. I heard this from him many times before. It evoked fear in me, as I never again want to be as miserable as I was. Just as importantly, I want to respond differently to him, with so much more love, and without so many imagined needs. I think I can. When I am quiet, I hear "step aside," and let what will happen, happen, without trying to control. There is also, however, a voice -- echoed by many loved ones -- saying, "Don't be stupid, the guy's a psychopath!" I've asked him for six months of silence before I respond. I feel like I need to get ready for what feels like a big and scary test. Do you have any advice on how to prepare for it? On how to overcome these voices of caution?

A: As much as we wish it were otherwise, A Course in Miracles focuses only on the content in our minds, and not on behavior (form). Nevertheless, what it recommends that we do in our minds is extremely helpful, as that is where the root of all our problems and pain lies, and so that is where the solution is as well. Thus, what you might find helpful in approaching your dilemma is to go within and become aware as best you can of all judgment and fear you may have about the relationship, and any investment you have in how it should turn out. Then calmly and quietly try to let go of all that, just for an instant. Recall Jesus' help with this in Lesson 189: “Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world: all images you hold about yourself. Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad   . . . . come with wholly empty hands unto your God” (W.pI.189.7:1,2,5).

You may recall that when Helen (the scribe of the Course) asked Jesus what she should say to someone who was in need of her help, he basically told her that that was not the right question. Instead of asking what she should say to this person, she should ask for help in getting her judgments out of the way. Then love would simply flow through her, and her concern would disappear.

There really is no right or wrong in these kinds of situations. It is a matter of suspending all judgment so that the most loving thing for everyone involved would be done. Just be sure you have no preconceived notion of what the most loving thing is. For example, many students feel that it is never loving to break off a relationship and disappoint the other person. Not so! That could be the most loving thing to do -- for both partners. But it could also be loving not to break it off. Search your mind for these kinds of preconceived notions.

We would also caution you about one other mistake that students of this course frequently make. Many have concluded that just because a lesson is very difficult, they should go ahead and do it; for example, stay in an abusive relationship because that's the best way of learning you are not a body! That is not at all in keeping with the gentleness of our teacher in this course. Jesus would never coerce us in that way, or put that kind of pressure on us. That would be more like the no- pain-no-gain approach, or that of the ascetic traditions that encourage sacrifice and self- abnegation. From the Course's point of view, that breeds further separation, not the undoing of it. But this does not mean that you should not go back to the relationship. Just try to keep your focus turned quietly inward to the content in your mind, and there, enfolded in Jesus' comforting peace and love, let go of whatever judgments you come upon. The love that the judgments and fear have concealed will guide you, and you will be peaceful.

Q #1271: A Course in Miracles has helped me to begin to understand so much of what was a source of confusion to me in the past. Being brought up as a Catholic and then rejecting it, I also rejected some of my family in the process and now realize that this was unnecessary. However, I would like some help in reaching out to them (and others) without getting into conflict about the principles of the Course, because in the past there has always been so much resistance when any idea that didn't agree with theirs was expressed. Yet, in their own lives they appear to be such “good people” and I felt like a “bad person” because I rejected the faith. I now feel so excited about some of the “revelations” I've had and want to share them; but before I even approach my family (who do not live near me) I need to calm this sense that they will strongly resist the Course. Perhaps I should not mention it but just try to demonstrate my feelings by how I behave.

A: Demonstrating what you have learned from A Course in Miracles is probably the best approach, and this really has nothing to do with behavior (form); it is solely a matter of what is going on in your mind, your thinking (content). The main content to focus on is that your interests are not separate from your family's. Although you are on different paths with different theologies, you still share the same split mind and the power to choose between the thought system that each represents. Thus, instead of visiting your family to share the revelations and experiences you've had, you could shift the purpose to seeing the visit as an opportunity to bring all of your perceptions of differences to the love of Jesus in your right mind, which would then allow you to learn how to minimize the differences in form and concentrate more on the content you share in common. With this approach, you may find that you have little need to talk about the Course at all, unless it is brought up, of course -- in which case, your purpose would still be the same: to learn and practice the right-minded perception that you all share equally in the Sonship. The love in you would then be expressed in whatever form is best for everyone in the situation, and you would have no investment in whether your family accepts you or not.

What we are asked to demonstrate is that Jesus lives in us (T.11.VI.7:4), which means that his thought system of forgiveness lives in us. He demonstrated that sin has no effect and so is not a cause, and therefore does not exist, which means nothing can change the love that we are as the one Son of God. He asks that we demonstrate this in our relationships, which we do by our choice to remain identified with that love no matter what is happening externally. The message we thus give to all we meet is the same message Jesus gives to us: you can make the same choice I did, for our minds are joined. All of this, once again, takes place only in our minds. With that as your primary focus, then the expression in form would occur automatically, requiring no deliberation on your part. Always try to keep in the forefront of your thinking that your only responsibility is to accept the Atonement for yourself (T.2.V.5:1), and that the extension of the miracle is not up to us (T.16.II.1,2).