Weekly Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 6/25/2008

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This week's questions/topics:
Q #1364 How do I overcome resistance to hearing the Holy Spirit ?.
Q #1365 What is the meaning of "healing".
Q #1366 How much time elapses between thoughts (cause) and effect ?
Q #1367 Is "vigilance" still necessary if we have learned complete forgiveness?
Q #1368 Is it considered "proselytizing" to explain one's Course-based decisions?
Q #1369 Does "unconscious guilt" cause us to continue a "deam reincarnation" process?
Q #1370 How does Advaita Vedanta view the issues of separation, pain, and guilt?

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Q #1364: When I ask the Holy Spirit for help to see my brother through His eyes, or what I should say in a certain situation, if my resistance is too great to receive an answer (or at least I don't recognize the answer), what do I do next?

A: Try to free yourself for the moment of any judgments you may be holding on to and any investments you may have about what you want to have happen. You are perceiving with the Holy Spirit automatically when you look without judgment and have no investment in the outcome. That is why our concern should not be about what to say or do in a given situation or interaction - - our concern should be to let go of our judgments. Then the love and truth in our mind will flow through and be expressed in the form most helpful at the time. This, in fact, is the essence of a message Jesus gave to Helen: “You cannot ask, ‘What shall I say to him?' and hear God's answer. Rather ask instead, ‘Help me to see this brother through the eyes of truth and not of judgment,' and the help of God and all His angels will respond” (Absence from Felicity , p. 381). The “help of God and all His angels” is Jesus' poetic way of referring to the Holy Spirit's Presence in our minds.

Other students of A Course in Miracles have asked similar questions, and you may find it helpful to visit these discussions. See Questions #11, #77, #399, and #498.

Q #1365: According to the teachings of A Course in Miracles , what is the meaning of healing?

A: Adapted from our Glossary-Index : Healing is the correction in the mind of the belief in sickness that makes the separation and the body seem real. It is the effect of joining with another in forgiveness, shifting perception from separate bodies -- the source of all sickness -- to our shared purpose of healing in this world. Since healing is based on the belief that our true Identity is spirit, not the body, sickness of any kind must be illusory, as only a body or ego can suffer. Healing thus reflects the principle that there is no order of difficulty in miracles.

Q #1366: How much time elapses between our thought (the cause) and its effect?

A: The effect happens simultaneously. The cause produces its effect immediately, otherwise it would be causing nothing and so would not be a cause (T.28.II.1:2) . There is an illusion of a time gap, but there really isn't one. The ego wants us to perceive a gap between our thoughts and their effects so that we will not recognize the direct connection between them and then conclude that something external is the cause of what we experience -- anything other than our own mind's decision in that very instant. This is all part of the ego's strategy to keep out attention away from our minds, where we could recognize that we are always choosing between the ego's thought system and the correction of that, the Holy Spirit's thought system. Two sections in A Course in Miracles that discuss these ideas are “The Responsibility for Sight” (T.21.II) and “Reversing Effect and Cause” (T.28.II).

Q #1367: It has been said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. In contrast, a fellow student claims that she has encountered a number of embodied teachers who have gone beyond all need for vigilance, and that is what she wants for herself. What is your perspective?

A: When we have completed all of our forgiveness lessons, there will no longer be a need for vigilance, because there will no longer be an ego thought system in our minds, having chosen against it once and for all. The ego's only existence is the choice we make in our minds to believe in separation as real (T.4.VII.1:5) , and therefore when we choose against that completely, the ego disappears back into the nothingness from which it came -- there is nothing to be vigilant about any more. That is the state of mind known in A Course in Miracles as the real world, a totally unified state of mind. There is no longer a split between two thought systems and no longer a decision maker who chooses between them. All the interferences to the truth of Who we are have gone.

Q #1368: I have heard that it is important to appear "normal" and not to proselytize about the Course. Through practicing the Course teachings, I find that my parenting process is very different from those around me. I have tended to keep quiet about why I do things differently, but when someone else tells me they think I am too permissive, is it all right to explain? Is defense in this case just another form of attack?

When I discipline my daughter, I have found that 90 percent of the time I am motivated by old judgments that I hold against myself that have nothing to do with her. So, rather than focusing on disciplining her, I work on forgiving myself, and the behavior in question usually disappears that instant. The only problem is when I forget.

A: First, it is wonderful that you have discovered that what motivates the disciplining of your daughter are your judgments against yourself that you have projected onto her, and therefore that the focus ought to be on forgiving yourself. It is not a complicated process!

Second, there is nothing wrong in sharing these experiences and insights with others. You can describe how you deal with your daughter without ever mentioning A Course in Miracles , although it would be fine to refer to it if the conversation leads there. A problem would arise only if you separate yourself from your friends in your mind by judging them -- feeling more spiritually advanced, for example. It is always the content that matters. The same form -- parents discussing child-rearing experiences -- can have the content of either the wrong mind or the right mind.

Focusing on the purpose of the conversation would help: Are you there to learn that differences don't matter and that you all share the same wrong mind, right mind, and decision-making capacity, or are you there to show that you are special in some way? Clarifying that level of your thinking is the best way to keep the conversation on a helpful level, to you and the other parents. It is perfectly normal for parents to talk about their experiences. Just try to do so for the right reason: as a means of healing your own mind of polluting thoughts of judgment and specialness. Your willingness to choose Jesus rather than the ego as your teacher will bring this shift about.

Q #1369: I have heard it said that it is our "unconscious guilt" that continues our "dream reincarnation" process. Would you direct me to where this is stated in A Course in Miracles . I believe this is correct, but a fellow student believes that it is our "decision to learn more lessons" that keeps bringing us back. My understanding is that we are not here to learn lessons but to remember our reality as Christ Who uses our everyday experiences to bring us back to that awareness if we ask.

A: The statement you refer to is not found in the Course. The Course teaches us that there are both wrong-minded and right-minded reasons for being in the world. The wrong-minded reasons are the obvious ones such as wanting a separate special existence rather than the perfect Oneness of union with God and having a means of seeing sin and guilt outside rather than within our own minds. The right-minded reason for being in the world is to awaken from the dream of separation -- everything would be given the purpose of leading us back within to our minds so that we can choose against the ego and allow the truth of Who we are to be our only thought.

Q #1370: Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj and Nisargadatta's co-disciple, Ranjit Maharaj were all Indian teachers of Advaita Vedanta who were considered to be fully- realised beings. My partner once asked Ranjit Maharaj a question about A Course in Miracles ' teaching that God did not create the phenomenal universe and that ultimately it never happened at all. Ranjit responded that the Course's position was correct. I include this to show that this lineage's teaching, at the highest level, seems to correspond (in content at least) with the pure non-dualistic position of the Course.

Ramana and Nisargadatta were both asked frequently about the question of pain. Their responses were similar -- that there was great pain but no one experiencing it. However if, as the Course states, all pain is in the mind, and is an extension of guilt, then it would seem that these realised beings were experiencing guilt at some level. A further simple question is: who is experiencing guilt when there is no sense of ego identity as a separate entity? If there is indeed no doership (free will/volition) where would the Course locate the sense of separation in these teachers? Ramana would say there is “no creation or destruction” and that “nothing is born and nothing dies.” According to Advaita, this “experience of understanding” takes place when the ego ceases effortlessly and the realisation dawns that the ego and the thought of separation literally never occurred. Please comment.

A: One of the conclusions we reached in Question #933 when we discussed the Advaita Vedanta teachings was that “despite using different words which seem to point to different practices, the Course and Advaita are really saying the same thing.” Our discussion emphasized the importance of recognizing the two levels on which the Course is written, a distinction that is relevant to these questions about pain.

Speaking on the level of absolute truth (Level One), the Course says that pain is not real (W.pI.190.3:3,4). A healed mind -- i.e., a mind outside the dream but still aware of other minds dreaming of existence in a world apart from God -- would perceive the pain experienced by the figures in the dream, while at the same time knowing that the pain is real only in the dreams of minds that are in the process of awakening or else still choosing not to awaken. The healed mind would not feel that pain. This is the second level of discussion in the Course.

On the other hand, a healed mind could appear in form as a help to those seeking to awaken, but this would simply be a symbol or a representation in form of the memory of wholeness and invul­nerability that we all have in our right minds. Perhaps this is what Ramana Maharshi and Nisarga­datta were saying. This form could appear with some of the limitations, disabilities, and illnesses common to humans, but the experience of pain and infirmity would be radically different because there would be no identification with the pain and infirmity. The healed mind knows with cer­tainty that the body is not its identity and so the pain would have no significance to that mind. In this sense, there is pain, but it doesn't mean anything. Thus, in this case, the pain does not stem from guilt but from the love that appears in a form that we can recognize and accept. This is in contrast to the unhealed mind that is still very much identified with the body and an individual self. For this self, therefore, pain has tremendous significance: there is still an I that is in pain and very much threatened by it.