Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 4/23/2008

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1329 How do you think the Course views the topic of chakras?.
Q #1330 If the Course does not provide specific guidance re: behavior, why did Jesus offer so much guidance to Helen?
Q #1331 Help! As a Course student I feel I just don't want to be here any more!
Q #1332 If sickness is a sign of unforgiveness, does that mean everyone who dies is holding on to unforgiveness?

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Q #1329: I have been coming across the concept of chakras fairly often recently, and as much as I realize that it is not a Course concept, I wonder how Jesus would see chakras. Would it be somewhat like the way reincarnation is seen -- reasonably benignly, but with warnings? It seems to me that if I tried to incorporate chakra thinking, I would be edging toward making the body real -- not Course-like at all! If I think of the chakra idea as a reminder to be open to the miracle, to see things differently, to accept the Atonement for myself, I think that's not chakra-like at all!

A: One of the primary messages of A Course in Miracles is that everything within this dream of physical existence is the same. It all came from the ego's thought of separation, and it can all now be used either for the ego's purpose of making the error real and remaining asleep, or for the Holy Spirit's purpose of remembering God's Love and gently awakening to our reality in Heaven.

As Course students, we should remember that every time we take a breath we are making the body real, and Jesus certainly would not ask us to stop breathing. In fact, he is not asking us to guard against making the body real nor to give up anything we want. He simply urges us to ask ourselves what purpose we are giving everything -- a loving purpose, or one that exacerbates our guilt.

For this reason, Jesus would not have an opinion about chakras. To him, studying the Course and working with chakras would be no different than, for example, studying the Course and believing it is helpful to have an elbow. In Heaven, there is no need for elbows. But while we think we are here, we can either use elbows to viciously jab others or to facilitate our extension of a helping hand. Similarly, if you use your understanding of chakras to make yourself different from other people and, meanwhile, tell yourself that the key to peace is having open chakras rather than God's Love, then that would be a recipe for conflict with the Course's teachings. However, if you recognize that like everything else here, chakras are illusory, but nevertheless you find the concept helpful, then it would be silly not to work with them or to feel guilty for doing so.

Q #1330: Ken has indicated in both writing and on tapes that Jesus does not provide guidance regarding specifics in the world; yet he writes extensively about very specific guidance given to Helen in Absence from Felicity . There is a line on page 244 that I'm very drawn to and that I frequently say each day: "If You tell me what to do, I will to do it." It is a prayer that Jesus tells Helen is the door that leads out of the desert forever. Yet, I wonder if it's inappropriate for me to ask Jesus this. Is it possible that Jesus was providing specifics to Helen and Bill because of their involvement with the scribing of A Course in Miracles ? Can you help reconcile the seeming inconsistency of Jesus providing highly specific guidance about worldly concerns to Helen (and Bill) and the statements that Ken has made about Jesus not providing this type of guidance?

A: We have addressed the topic in some Questions asked by other students -- see, for example, #437, #477, #538, and #626. It has been a source of confusion for many. In Chapter 17 of Absence from Felicity , Ken actually explains why Helen experienced Jesus as guiding her in specifics. There he shows that it is really not a question of Jesus doing anything different with Helen and Bill than with others, but rather what Helen did with her mind's fear of accepting the fullness of love symbolized by Jesus. This is instructive to all of us. We all have tremendous fear of melting into love's presence, our true Identity, and so we unconsciously determine the form in which we will accept that content of love. Thus, Helen allowed herself to experience his love only in the form of guidance with specifics, as many of us do. But, as Ken makes clear, Helen also knew that Jesus was the reflection of Heaven's love, and so there were times when she transcended all limitation and no longer identified with a limited self, separated from love and fearful of it. This is what the Questions cited above discuss in depth. But none of this means that you should not continue to say the prayer you like so much, or to ask Jesus to help you. Just try to remember that it is the love that Jesus is that you truly want. That way, you won't stay on the level of specifics, which is only the lower level of the ladder that leads us back to eternal, unlimited peace and love in which we were created.

Q #1331 : I've been studying the Course over a long period of time and so it seems strange to me that I'm having this thought. The thought is: I really don't want to be here any longer. It's a thought that I experience so deeply and so frequently each day. It's a thought that haunts me. Now, I do understand that the Course is about changing our mind and not about going to another place. I also understand that suicide is not the answer since the death of the body doesn't solve anything. Maybe the deep longing to be out of this world is really a reflection of wanting to be out of the misery that having an ego entails -- but this process takes so very long. Could you help me with this?

A: Recognizing that you do not want to be here is not only a normal and predictable consequence of studying A Course in Miracles , but, in fact, a crucial one. Again and again, the Course returns to the theme that this world is not our home. Indeed, it beautifully describes the experience of feeling haunted by the thought of not wanting to be here: "…there is a Child in you Who seeks His Father's house, and knows that He is alien here…. It is this Child Who knows His Father. He desires to go home so deeply, so unceasingly, His voice cries unto you to let Him rest a while…. He whispers of His home unceasingly to you." (W.p1.182.4:3; 5:2,3; 7:4).

Because most of us have spent our entire lives keeping this unceasing voice deeply buried, Jesus' efforts in the Course to bring it to our awareness can feel quite shocking. We may simultaneously be comforted that he knows exactly how we feel and frightened that we now have to acknowledge a truth that threatens the very foundation of who we think we are. Fortunately, there is another message in the Course that makes this situation bearable. Jesus teaches us that we are not here. He tells us, "Nothing at all has happened but that you have put yourself to sleep, and dreamed a dream in which you were an alien to yourself" (T.28.II.4:1) . He further teaches us that since this is a dream, we have control over the dream's content: "…there is a choice of dreams while you are still asleep, depending on the purpose of your dreaming. A dream is like a memory in that it pictures what you wanted shown to you" (T.28.II.4:3, 5) .

This, then, provides the key with which we can face the sense of not wanting to be here and ultimately find relief from the pain it causes us. The ego would have us interpret our desire not to be here as a longing to leave the physical world -- an inherently futile endeavor because there is no physical world from which to escape. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, would reinterpret this desire as the perfectly sensible and achievable longing to awaken and leave the state of mind that has brought us nothing but pain. Therefore, by turning over the thought, "I don't want to be here any longer" to the Holy Spirit, we can have it transformed from a hopeless lament about our seemingly external situation into an inspirational wake-up call to change our internal situation. In the process, the world will seem to change from a noxious prison to a wondrous classroom.

When we are tempted to feel like prisoners here, threatened by seemingly cruel external forces and frustrated by a spiritual journey that can feel slow and rocky, we would do well to remember the following words: "…there must be another way of looking at [the world] . I see everything upside down, and my thoughts are the opposite of truth. I see the world as a prison for God's Son. It must be, then, that the world is really a place where he can be set free. I would look upon the world as it is, and see it as a place where the Son of God finds his freedom" (W.p1.57.3).

Q #1332: My question is in regard to sickness. I understand the idea that sickness, according to A Course in Miracles , is of the mind and is a perspective, etc. However, we obviously will all die of something unless we have reached a level of enlightenment in which we can just leave our bodies at will and break with the illusion. Does this mean that everyone who dies, no matter what level they have reached spiritually is still holding "unforgiveness"? I know of some very high beings who still got diseases, had strokes, and other health issues.

A: A Course in Miracles states that “no one dies without his own consent” (W.pI.152.1) ; but this decision can be wrong-minded or right-minded. Our discussion in Question #262 focuses on the important distinction between form and content in the Course's view of death. Helpful references are also provided there as well as in Questions #494 and #604. The key point is that the condition of the body does not automatically tell us which thought system the mind has chosen and whether or not the mind has reached enlightenment. Thus, we should not attempt to judge based upon appearances. A healed mind could take the form of a cancer-consumed dying body if there were a valuable teaching purpose in it, for example. That mind, though, would not be suffering -- a most difficult teaching for us to comprehend and accept, because of our lack of awareness of our mind and our body-oriented way of thinking. Jesus' body certainly seemed to be in terrible condition at the end, but we would not conclude that his mind must therefore have been in terrible condition as well. A seemingly pain-wracked body is not necessarily a regrettable tragedy, in other words. Again, this can only be understood from the perspective of the mind's right-minded position “above the battleground” of the ego's world of bodies.