Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 01/16/2008

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1276 Is love the opposite of fear, or vice-versa?
Q #1277 How can we perceive God's creations if the world is not of His making?.
Q #1278 What was God's role in the creation of nature, natural selection, the animal kingdom, etc?
Q #1279 If a healthy ego is needed before studying the Course, how can I make mine stronger?

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Q #1276: I find the language at the end of paragraph 1 of the Introduction to A Course in Miracles does not logically follow. It says: “The opposite of love is fear, but what is all- encompassing can have no opposite” (T.in.1:8). Clearly what is all-encompassing must be love and not fear. Therefore, if love can have no opposite, its opposite cannot be fear. It would appear that the sentence should read: “The opposite of fear is love, but what is all- encompassing can have no opposite.”

A: We do not find a problem with the logic. Since love is all-encompassing, it cannot have an opposite. We would tend to think of fear as the opposite of love, but since there can be no opposite to what is all-encompassing, fear is impossible. That is the point -- fear is not real.

Q #1277 : The Course says, "Whenever you are not wholly joyous, it is because you have reacted with a lack of love to one of God's creations" (T.5.VII.5:1). My question is: How can we perceive God's creations if the world is not of His making? It seems impossible to simultaneously look within and without, to see the light and the "darkness," the Christ Mind, and the world as we know it. Am I to meditate constantly like the Indian gurus who sit and "do nothing" all day? How can I live in this world AND react lovingly to one of God's creations? How would I recognize one of God's creations, especially if I live alone?

A: There is probably nothing in A Course in Miracles that causes students more confusion than its use of the term, God's creations . Jesus never fully defines this term because, from our perspective as separate beings within this physical world, there really is no way we could fully understand what he means. However, we can begin to comprehend what he is talking about and asking of us, if we bring together several different statements he makes.

"To create is to love. [Love] creates forever, but not in time. God's creations have always been, because He has always been.… In Christ's sight, the world and God's creation meet, and as they come together all perception disappears…. You are merely asked to return to God the mind as He created it…. to return your thinking to the point at which the error was made, and give it over to the Atonement in peace" (T.7.I.3:5,6,7; W.pII.271.1:3; T.5.VII.2:6; T.5.VII.6:5).

In other words, when the Course speaks of creation , it is not talking about anything physical. Rather, it means the extension of God's all-encompassing Love. Because it is all encompassing, it cannot help but extend. In this way, it creates forever because it goes on and on without end. This is in contrast to the ego's guilt, which, as a thought of difference and separation, can only project and produce illusion, or what the Course calls miscreation .

So, God's creations are simply His extensions of Love. Of course, in reality God does not extend Love, He is the Love of which we are a part. But, as Course students, we should remember that Jesus is not obsessed with accuracy in language. While he speaks to us in dualistic terms because that is what we can understand, he ultimately wants us to move beyond his words to his underlying, non-dualistic message.

With that in mind, we can consider what he means when he asks us to "return to God the mind as He created it." He does not literally mean that God as a dualistic being created the mind. Instead, he means that the natural state of our mind -- the state of being filled with love -- comes from God. And so our job is to return our thinking to the point at which we chose the ego's guilt over the memory of God's Love. We do this by asking the Holy Spirit in our mind to help us correct this error -- a correction that will leave us filled with love and thus wholly joyous.

This is an internal process of correction that happens entirely in the mind. Whether we live alone or meditate is irrelevant. What does matter is that we use our reactions to what we perceive in the world to tell us whether we have chosen the ego or the Holy Spirit as our internal Teacher. Thus, the path the Course lays out is not about overcoming or blocking out the darkness of the world in order to find the light within. Rather, it is about realizing that the darkness without is no barrier to our finding peace within, unless we want it to be .

Q #1278 : I have recently begun studying A Course in Miracles , and I absolutely love it! How­ever, I am also a recent graduate with a degree in evolutionary biology, and I am just won­dering about the Course's view on the evidence for evolution? Did the God in A Course in Miracles also create non-human animals, and does He have a role in natural selection? Did He create the earth over three billion years ago? I know there is no such thing as time in the Course, but how do we account for the numerous studies involving radio carbon dating, all of which show that the elements of the earth's crust have been around for billions of years? If God created us all as perfect beings, why did nature "experiment" with so many other life forms and habitats before man came to inhabit the planet? What are the Course's views on other scientific phenomenon, such as the laws of gravity and motion?

A: The foundation of everything taught in A Course in Miracles is its view of reality as nondual­istic. Nothing finite or quantitative is real, which means that not only is time not real, but neither is the cosmos. Only the realm of God, which is perfect Oneness, and the nonspatial extension of His Being as spirit is real. Therefore, in the Course, there is no connection between God and the world, as there is in the traditional biblical view of God as creator and sustainer of the physical universe. There certainly appears to us to be a world with billions of forms of life and nonliving kinds of things, and so Jesus addresses us as minds believing in what is essentially illusory. On that level of discourse, he talks about the origin of the world as a thought in our minds -- the thought of having an existence apart from totality and wholeness. Jesus refers to this as a “tiny, mad idea at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh” (T.27.VIII.6:2). Because the mad idea was taken seriously, the world, then, originated as attack on God (W.pII.3.2:1). Impor­tantly, however, it is never more than an idea that never leaves the mind that thought it -- despite appearances and our experiences of being bound by physical laws ( see Lesson 76 “I am under no laws but God's” [W.pI.76]) . The practice of A Course in Miracles, therefore, centers on our learning how to interact on a daily basis so as not to deny our experiences, but to use them as a means of restoring our minds to sane perception, and then to their original, unchanged state of oneness within God's Being. This reflects the principle that the world is “the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition” (T.21.in.1:5).

This view obviously presents many challenges for you with your interest in evolutionary biology. But this would be true for anyone, regardless of profession or interests: “To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold” (T.24.in.2:1). The Course is a gen­tle path, however, and focuses primarily on transforming our perception of ourselves, each other, and the world, so that we will gradually be able to let go of the terrible burdens of guilt, fear, and conflict that we carry with us all the time. This is done through the practice of forgiveness, which directs our attention to the content in our minds that motivates us to relate in either helpful or hurt­ful ways.

If you would like to pursue this further, we recommend reading our answers to Questions #111, #121, #157, #316, and #616.

Q #1279: You have said that children must develop strong, healthy egos before learning the principles of A Course in Miracles . But I feel very weak, despite being 22 years old. How can I become stronger?

A: It is tempting to advise you to stay away from the Course for at least another 20 years! But seriously, there is a reason the Course typically attracts people who are middle aged or older. Generally, people spend the first half of their lives developing their skills and abilities and trying to find their way in this world. It is only after they have a firm sense of who they are -- and why being that person does not make them happy -- that individuals are ready to take on a thought system that asks them to question every value that they hold (T.24.in.2:1) . The problem with trying to practice the Course when you are very young is that you can wind up in the conflicted state of attempting to develop yourself and let go of yourself at the same time -- often a recipe for mental and emotional pain.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and only you can decide when and if A Course in Miracles is the right path for you. However, if your primary issue right now is becoming a stronger, more confident, more fully developed person (the issue most people your age grapple with), then it is likely that you should focus more on exploring and discovering this world than on letting it go. In other words, you can become stronger as an ego by letting yourself be you . Find out what you like and do not like, observe yourself in relationships, and see what skills and talents you most enjoy using. Uncover exactly who you are as the individual you appear to be in this lifetime.

Pursue your worldly goals and do not feel guilty for doing so. In the process, know that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are not going anywhere. Remember that God's Love, which is the only true strength any of us has, is present for you to receive "any time and anywhere, wherever you are, and in whatever circumstance you find yourself" (W.pI.42.2:2) .