Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 02/20/2008

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1296 In the A=B+C analogy, is the right mind the capital M Mind?
Q #1297 How do we live in an illusory world, if matter doesn't matter ?
Q #1298 Why is guilt about parents always so intense?

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Q #1296: If the split mind (A=B+C) is illusory, is the right mind the capital M Mind?

A: The split mind refers to the separated Son's mind divided into the ego (wrong-minded) part and the Holy Spirit (right-minded) part. The A=B+C diagram refers to the wrong mind, A repre­senting the concept of the sinful self which gets split off into self B (innocent victim) and self C (sinful victimizer), both B and C being experienced on the bodily level. The correction of this ego dynamic of splitting off our sense of sinfulness is what is known as the right mind, which is also diagrammed as A', B', C' (A prime, B prime, C prime). As part of the split mind, therefore, the right mind is still within the illusion. The capital M Mind is only in Heaven. We can say that in our right mind we are reflecting the capital M Mind, but as the correction of the wrong mind, the right mind exists only within the illusory realm of separation. When we awaken in God, there no longer is a right or wrong mind.

An expanded explanation, with charts, of this dynamic is given in All Are Called , Vol. One of Ken's The Message of A Course in Miracles . Also, Question #1189 might be of interest, as it con­siders the right mind from an experiential perspective.

Q #1297 : I was sitting in the library one evening and I noticed a certain book glowing. There was just something about it that made me know I needed to read it. So I took the random book and it turned out to be A Course in Miracles . I've spent much time over the last six years not only studying the Course but also other spiritualities, philosophies, and thought systems. I have reached the conclusion that nothing in this universe actually exists except the minds of the people. I absolutely do not believe in matter! I believe if we had mass con­sciousness believing along the same lines, this entire world as we see it would disappear and the Sonship would become reunited. Don't get me wrong though, I do believe that all works of good that a fellow brother does for another will be remembered for eternity in God's Mind, but everything else will be erased when full Atonement is achieved.

Until the majority of the Sonship has realized this, we are bound to this illusion of matter; so the question remains: How do we convince people in such a materialistic world that matter doesn't matter ? How do we convince people who put so much faith in their bodies that their bodies are illusions? And for those of us who understand these things, how do we live in an illusory world recognizing the absurdness of it all and pay attention to the illusion to some extent; i.e., not getting run over by cars, walking naked down the highway, etc.? Because it sounds as if the more we "play" in the illusion, the more strength we are adding to that illu­sion as well. I firmly believe that this is the next logical evolutionary progression of the Course. What do you think of what I consider to be the "Evolution of A Course in Miracles ."

A: A Course in Miracles clearly teaches that the world and the body are illusory, and that the world will disappear into the nothingness from which it came when we no longer want the pur­pose it serves. “When not one thought of sin remains, the world is over. It will not be destroyed nor attacked nor even touched. It will merely cease to seem to be” (M.14.2:10,11,12; see also T.20.VIII.7,8,9,10,11; W.pII.226). The world, thus, is not the prob­lem, as it is nothing but a projection of the mind, “the outside picture of an inward condition” (T.21.in.1:5). The Course therefore teaches us to look within at what is causing us to project out­ward and identify with the form the projection takes. That is the core of its teaching and mind- training exercises.

Early in the text Jesus talks about the difficulty of getting through to us: “How can you teach someone the value of something he has deliberately thrown away? He must have thrown it away because he did not value it. You can only show him how miserable he is without it, and slowly bring it nearer so he can learn how his misery lessens as he approaches it. This teaches him to associate his misery with its absence, and the opposite of misery with its pres­ence. It gradually becomes desirable as he changes his mind about its worth. I am teaching you to associate misery with the ego and joy with the spirit. You have taught yourself the opposite. You are still free to choose, but can you really want the rewards of the ego in the presence of the rewards of God?” (T.4.VI.5) The pedagogy of this course is well thought out -- it meets us where we are and respects the choices we have made to dissociate ourselves from truth and love, while at the same time it shows us the disastrous consequences of those choices. It is never coercive or threatening, however, just abundantly clear about the mess we have made of everything, including our self-identity, why we have done it, and how to undo it all. Its approach is gentle and encouraging, reassuring us that there is no urgency, as ultimately time is unreal and we are undoing what never happened (the principle of the Atonement). Everything we need to restore to our minds the awareness of love's presence is already in the Course. For those for whom this course resonates, nothing more is needed. Other paths are available to those who are not com­fortable with this one (M.1.4:1,2).

The Course often addresses the concern, to use your words, of how to “live in an illusory world recognizing the absurdness of it all and pay attention to the illusion to some extent; i.e., not get­ting run over by cars, walking naked down the highway, etc.” Lesson 155 teaches us, for example, that “there is a way of living in the world that is not here, although it seems to be. You do not change appearance, though you smile more frequently. Your forehead is serene; your eyes are quiet. And the ones who walk the world as you do recognize their own. Yet those who have not yet perceived the way will recognize you also, and believe that you are like them, as you were before” (W.pI.155.1). There is also a section in the manual for teachers that discusses this aspect of our process: “How Should the Teacher of God Spend His Day?” (M.16).

The main point is that a mind identified would love would appear to others in a form that could be accepted without fear and to which others could relate in a normal way. The mind's purpose or content is the key factor, not the behavior. Many Gnostics deliberately disobeyed the world's laws to prove that the world is not real. Well, by fighting against the world, they proved just the oppo­site. If you are clear about the difference between form (behavior) and content (mind), you would be able to live in the world and abide by its rules without reinforcing the illusion in your mind. “The body was not made by love. Yet love does not condemn it and can use it lovingly, respecting what the Son of God has made and using it to save him from illusions” (T.18.VI.4:7,8). (Kenneth presents a detailed examination of this confusion as found in Gnosti­cism, the ascetic traditions, and other approaches in two of his books: Love Does Not Condemn: The World, the Flesh, and the Devil According to Platonism, Christianity, Gnosticism and “A Course in Miracles” and The Message of “A Course in Miracles” -- Vol. 1: All Are Called; Vol. 2: Few Choose to Listen . He shows how the Course avoids the pitfalls of different moral tradi­tions, leading to a formulation of a non-normative or new morality.)

A Course in Miracles surely is not the final word in spirituality, as it is directed to those on the bottom rungs of the spiritual ladder (i.e., all of us); but for those of us who have accepted it as our path home, it is more than sufficient, which is why Jesus says at the end of the 365 lessons of the workbook, “This course is a beginning, not an end” (W.ep.1:1). We spend the rest of our lives applying its teachings to our personal lives. We needn't try to convince others to change how they go about their lives. Our focus is exclusively on how we choose to perceive others and the world: “Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T.21.in.1:7). Our only responsibility is to accept the Atonement for ourselves (T.2.V.5:1) . If I do that, then I know everyone has done it, because the Sonship is one. As long as I believe that others still have to do it, my mind is not yet healed, because I am still perceiving the Sonship as frag­mented. This is a major difference between the Course's teaching and your belief that “if we had mass consciousness believing along the same lines, this entire world as we see it would disappear and the Sonship would become reunited.” If this were true, there would be actual parts of the Son­ship, and some would be victims of others because these others still choose to remain separate. That is decidedly different from the entire thrust of Jesus' teaching in the Course.

One further thought about A Course in Miracles and its “evolution”: It is impossible for a brain/ mind as limited as ours to fully understand this course, which comes from a mind that transcends time and space entirely and is without limit. That, again, is why the Course teaches that our only responsibility is to accept the Atonement for ourselves.

Finally, there is a lovely passage -- seems more like a song Jesus is singing -- that blends with your belief that “all works of good that a fellow brother does for another will be remembered for eternity in God's Mind”; we quote in part: “How can you who are so holy suffer? All your past except its beauty is gone; and nothing is left but a blessing. I have saved all your kindnesses and every loving thought you ever had. I have purified them of the errors that hid their light, and kept them for you in their own perfect radiance. They are beyond destruction and beyond guilt. They come from the Holy Spirit within you, and we know what God creates is eternal” (T.5.IV.8:1,2,3,4,5,6).

Q #1298: Can you please help shed some light on why the guilt seems to be so intense in dealing with parents? For example, I realize now that I keep the relationship going in form because of the intense guilt I experience if I don't visit them.What could the “sin” be, from a metaphysical perspective, that causes the guilt, and why is it such a sin within the ego system to end the relationship with parents in form?

A: The “sin” leading to the intense guilt in parent-child relationships is rooted in the ego's master plan to replace God with itself. As a result of our mind's choice to identify with the ego, we no longer experience our relationship with our true Source; instead, we substitute for that another self that then becomes totally dependent on human parents or the equivalent. The root of our guilt, thus, is our belief (now concealed from our awareness) that we have thrown God away and made a substitute for our true Identity as His creation, forever one with Him. We have proclaimed that we do not need God and can get all of our needs met through this new relationship of parent and child, the paradigm of all other special relationships in the world. Specialness always entails guilt, and therefore if the relationship never gets beyond specialness (neediness, dependency, expecta­tions, etc.), the guilt will continue to be a major factor. This would be true of any relationship with authority figures: boss, teacher, political figure, hero, etc.

Kenneth's two-part book, Parents and Children: Our Most Difficult Classroom , discusses a wide variety of issues flowing from this most basic relationship, from the perspective of both parent and child. One salient discussion, directly related to your question, pertains to Freud's insight: “The liberation of an individual, as he grows up, from the authority of his parents is one of the most necessary though one of the most painful results brought about by the course of his development.” The key to successfully transcending the specialness aspect is distinguishing between form and content. Liberation from authority is a content issue; i.e., you can be living with your parents (the form) and be liberated from or bound to their authority (the content). Greatly abbreviating what really requires a lengthy explanation, you would gradually come to relate to them not as parents, but as Sons of God sharing with you and everyone else the same journey back to God. They have the same pain and anguish in their wrong minds, the same healing and peace in their right minds, and the same power to decide between the two as do you and everyone else. You would then recognize that the guilt in your relationship with your parents is a reflection of your guilt over having rejected God and accepted a substitute for this one and only real relationship. Then you would automatically know what to do on the level of form: you would remain faithful to the form (parent-child) and be appropriate, kind, and responsible, but you would do it all differ­ently (the content).