Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 03/26/2008

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1315 At the end of a relationship I miss my ex a lot. In what way are our minds "joined" ?
Q #1316 What is the Course position on suicide. Does the form of death really matter?
Q #1317 Does the messenger of God have an active or a passive role?
Q #1318 I am confused: is m script "fixed" or are there infinite possibilities?

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Q #1315 : I recently gave a special relationship to the Holy Spirit after the other person said that it was causing him too much mental anguish. I know the teachings of the Course, and I cannot understand that the relationship isn't becoming increasingly "beneficent and joyous," even if only in my mind. It is still causing me heartache and I think about this person all day and night. I am trying my best not to see him as a body and project my "special love" thoughts onto him, but it just doesn't seem to be getting any easier for me. Am I doing something wrong? There isn't much else I can do but to pray for him and hand over the relationship to the Holy Spirit, is there? When the Course says our minds are joined, does that mean he must be thinking the same thing? I am very confused.

A: To clear up your confusion, you need to understand an important fact about A Course in Miracles . The Course is not addressing you as the individual you think you are within this dream. Instead, Jesus is speaking to the decision making part of your mind -- outside of the illusion of time and space -- which has the ability to choose between the thought system of the ego or the thought system of the Holy Spirit. Thus, when he says that minds are joined, he does not mean that your individual mind is joined with that of another individual within this world. Rather, he means that all our minds are joined in reality because we all come from the same source and share the same thought systems. We all have the capacity to think either the ego's thoughts of sin, guilt, and fear, or the Holy Spirit's thoughts of love and forgiveness, inspired by the memory of God's all-encompassing Love.

The Course would not ask you to struggle not to see another person as a body or to stop projecting your special love thoughts onto him. Instead, it would advise you to ask the Holy Spirit to help you simply watch all your troubling thoughts without judging them. In this way, you could gently learn to accept yourself even when you are obsessing, longing, depressed, and so on. As you do so, your mind will become an increasingly beneficent and joyous place, which will then be reflected in your experience of your relationships. This does not mean that you will always get what you think you want from others on the level of form. But you will start to be happier and more peaceful regardless of what happens externally because you will know that the love you seek is inside of you, not something you need from another.

One final note: The Course offers a path for transforming our mind, which can ultimately lead us to a far greater sense of peace and happiness than we have previously known. However, it is a very gradual process and one that, because of our fear and resistance, can seem at times to make us more afraid, confused, and even depressed. For this reason, it is important not to view applying Course principles to our problems as a quick fix that will instantly take us from despair to joy. As Course students, we need to expect challenging times as we " question every value that [we] hold " (T.24.in.2:2) .

Q #1316: I would appreciate your clarification on the issue of death in the dream, particularly the taking of one's own life. From certain answers on this Service, it seems as if suicide is a particularly unacceptable form of making the dream real. I also seem to have read that the “form” of death really doesn't matter; what matters is looking at anything with one's wrong mind or right mind. Hypothetically, then, a person could, take his/her life “with a smile that says, ‘These thoughts have no effect on who I am.'” In one sense, it would be better than a death caused by a car accident or cardiac failure, for example. I've often thought that the biblical Jesus knew that his death was imminent when he entered Jerusalem for the last time and, in a sense, took his own life, or at least had it taken from him, because he fully knew the implications of his action (assuming, of course, that there is some amount of accuracy in the biblical rendition.)

A: The whole idea of “taking one's life” is ego based, as we discuss in Question #274, as it assumes there is life in the body and that it can be “taken.” From that reference point, we would naturally conclude that some forms of death are less traumatic than others. But that reference point is faulty. In fact, throughout A Course in Miracles , Jesus helps us learn that our reference point as bodies is virtually worthless when it comes to understanding truth and reality. Our preoccupation with suicide and other forms of death is simply a part of the ego's strategy to keep the body, and thus the separation, real in our awareness. This is the point of Jesus telling us that we are not really afraid of death, but are attracted to it (T.19.IV.C) , because that is what enables the ego to achieve its goal of keeping us from ever experiencing ourselves as decision-making minds not bound by time and space.

In Question #274, we talk about the conditions of the “quiet choice for death”: “If the ‘choice' represents the simple recognition of the end of the body's purpose in the world of form, the body would no longer seem to be infused with ‘life,' and a whole variety of so-called natural or accidental causes could be seen in the world's view as the cause of the death.” This is in sharp contrast to the choice to do something with the sole intention of bringing about the death of the body.

About Jesus' awareness of his imminent death in Jerusalem . . . no one knows for sure what happened and how it happened; but he surely would not have been thinking in terms of having his life taken from him, as he knew he was invulnerable and was not his body. He certainly knew the hidden intent of the ego in everyone's mind to destroy guiltlessness wherever it could be found (T.13.II.4,5), but he knew he, as the reflection of Heaven's eternal love, could never be killed, other than in the delusional minds of those identified with the ego's insanity. Thus, he asks of us when we question the meaning of his death, “Teach not that I died in vain. Teach rather that I did not die by demonstrating that I live in you” (T.11.VI.7:3,4). If we hold on to nothing else than that Jesus' all-inclusive love and compassion lives in us and can never be destroyed, we will have fulfilled his purpose for us in studying A Course in Miracles .

Q #1317 : The answer to Question #898 said: "Love is in the director's seat now, not you as an individual." In my view, this seems to be in contradiction to what is said in Lesson 154 concerning the messengers of God and their messages: that they "perform their part by their acceptance of His messages as for themselves, and show they understand the messages by giving them away. They choose no roles that are not given them by His authority. And so they gain by every message that they give away" (W.pI.154.7:2,3,4). As I see it, the messenger has an active role here. How are these two ideas related?

A: Different points are being made in the material you quote, but the content is the same. The point that is stressed in Question #898 is that when you let go of the ego, you are aware that you are not the individual self that you thought you were and that was always defining both the problem and the solution. When you let go of the ego, there is nothing left in your mind but love, and then your perception is identical with the Holy Spirit's. You are aligned with truth, not illusion.

In Lesson 154, Jesus is making a different, though related, point; and that is that our only function is to accept the Atonement through the practice of forgiveness. As “ministers,” we cannot truly bring Jesus' message of forgiveness to the world without first having accepted it ourselves, because in A Course in Miracles giving and receiving are the same. This is in contrast to the world's view, where the role of messengers is just to deliver messages to other people; the delivery of the message is just an external event. Jesus is teaching us that if we want to receive God's Love, we must give It -- meaning we must come to recognize that we all share the same interests, and, ultimately, the same Self. I remember my true Identity as Christ only when I see that same Identity as defining everyone else. This is all about content, not form.

The way we are “active,” thus, is by choosing to be taught by the teacher of forgiveness and oneness, not by the teacher of conflict and separation. We then become the message, just as Jesus tells us that “to teach is to demonstrate” (M.in.2:1) . Again, this is only about what is going on in our minds (content), not behavior (form). I cannot experience the Love of God in myself if I am judging even one other person as not worthy of that Love, because what is inherently all-inclusive cannot be known through exclusion. We are active in our minds, thus; and then that content will be expressed in our interactions. In the end, then, the two statements convey the same content.

Q #1318 : I'm confused. Am I living in a hologram that provides for every possibility, depending upon what choice I make, or am I living a script that is closed to anything other than what has already happened?

A: Time can be viewed as holographic in the sense that it is not linear. But our choices, as minds, are only between two alternatives: the ego's thought system and the Holy Spirit's thought system. That is the only content in our minds, and we are never choosing anything else. Time and form blind us to that, which is why Jesus says: “Nothing so blinding as perception of form. For sight of form means understanding has been obscured” (T.22.III.6:7,8), and time is “a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast illusion . . . .” (W.pI.158.4:1). Time, the world, and our seeming choices in the world are all part of the ego's strategy to keep us split off from the truth that we never truly left God. The instant the separation seemed to happen, the correction of that error occurred as well. That is what Jesus is teaching us in saying, “This world was over long ago. The thoughts that made it are no longer in the mind that thought of them and loved them for a little while” (T.28.I.1:6,7). In this sense, we are “living a script that is closed to anything other than what has already happened,” as the workbook tells us: “ The script is written. . . . we but see the journey from the point at which it ended, look back on it, imagining we make it once again; reviewing mentally what has gone by” (W.pI.158.4:3,5; see also W.pI.169.8:3). Our scripts are important, however, because they provide the curriculum that our Teacher can use to help us realize that we are merely dreaming that we are separate from each other and from God: “The miracle establishes you dream a dream, and that its content is not true” (T.28.II.7:1).

We could continue with this for many pages, but space limitations here do not allow for that. We hope, however, that this brief summary will be of help in unconfusing you. A major impediment to achieving full clarity is that our human conceptual/linguistic framework is itself an ego-derived defense against the truth, as this passage, among many others, acknowledges: “Yet time is but another phase of what does nothing. It works hand in hand with all the other attributes with which you seek to keep concealed the truth about yourself” (T.28.I.6:1,2). We have no other reference point, though, until we regain a sense of ourselves as decision-making minds and then realize we do not need defenses. Fortunately, that is exactly the kind of help Jesus provides in his course. We have listed below some other passages that pertain to your question, and we also refer you to Kenneth's comprehensive study of time in his book, A Vast Illusion: Time According to “A Course in Miracles.”

“Each day, and every minute in each day, and every instant that each minute holds, you but relive the single instant when the time of terror took the place of love” (T.26.V.13:1).

“Each day, each hour and minute, even each second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection; between the ego and the Holy Spirit. The ego is the choice for guilt; the Holy Spirit is the choice for guiltlessness. The power of decision is all that is yours. What you can decide between is fixed, because there are no alternatives except truth and illusion” (T.14.III.4:1,2,3,4).

“. . . while time lasts in your mind there will be choices. Time itself is your choice. If you would remember eternity, you must look only on the eternal. If you allow yourself to become preoccupied with the temporal, you are living in time. As always, your choice is determined by what you value. Time and eternity cannot both be real, because they contradict each other. If you will accept only what is timeless as real, you will begin to understand eternity and make it yours” (T.10.V.14:3,4,5,6,7,8,9).

“Time seems to go in one direction, but when you reach its end it will roll up like a long carpet spread along the past behind you, and will disappear. As long as you believe the Son of God is guilty you will walk along this carpet, believing that it leads to death” (T.13.I.3:5,6).

“Past, present and future are not continuous, unless you force continuity on them. . . . You would destroy time's continuity by breaking it into past, present and future for your own purposes” (T.13.VI.4:2,6).

“Time lasted but an instant in your mind, with no effect upon eternity. And so is all time past, and everything exactly as it was before the way to nothingness was made. The tiny tick of time in which the first mistake was made, and all of them within that one mistake, held also the Correction for that one, and all of them that came within the first” (T.26.V.3:3,4,5).