Weekly Questions and Answers, 05/28/2003

This week's questions:

Q #163: What is meant by "It needs but two"?
Q #164: How should I regard my judgements of others?
Q #165: Is there one dreamer of the dream, or many?
Q #166: Why does the Course urge me to see things differently if there is no difference?
Q #167: Are phenomena like "deja-vu" and "synchronicity" ego-activities ?

Look up a specific question by date or question no.

Q #163: In the section “Rules for Decision” of A Course in Miracles, it says, “It needs but two who would have happiness this day to promise it to all the world.” (T.30.I.17:1). Does this refer to the reader (me) and the Holy Spirit? And if so why would “two” not be capitalized if referring to the Holy Spirit? Could it also mean the “two” is reader (me) and the ego who thinks it's a happy day?

 A: Earlier in this section Jesus speaks of the nature of the happiness -- counterfeit or real -- you experience as depending on “the friend whose counsel you have sought” (T.30.I.15:2) -- the ego or the Holy Spirit. But here in the concluding paragraph, Jesus is referring to the real happiness that comes from our joining with a brother through Jesus or the Holy Spirit in the recognition that our interests are not separate but shared and that our minds are not split but joined. If this recognition is truly shared in our mind with any brother, it must then be extended to all the world, for it is all one.

And this joining has nothing to do with bodies, neither mine (as the reader) nor my brother’s. So my brother’s body need not be present for this joining to be experienced and no words need to be exchanged. Jesus explains earlier in the text, “Like you, your brother thinks he is a dream. Share not in his illusion of himself, for your Identity depends on his reality. Think, rather, of him as a mind in which illusions still persist, but as a mind which brother is to you. He is not brother made by what he dreams, nor is his body, “hero” of the dream, your brother. It is his reality that is your brother, as is yours to him. Your mind and his are joined in brother­hood” (T.28.IV.3:1,2,3,4,5,6).

Q #164: My view with A Course in Miracles has shifted considerably after listening to Ken's tape “The Meaning of Judgment.” The thrust of this tape is looking at your ego with no need to change it. In other words looking at our thoughts without judgment and realizing ultimately that what we believe has no effects on reality. Our powerful thoughts seem to be defused as we realize reality is not impressed nor shaken by them. However, Ken keeps reminding us not to judge someone else. It seems if that were the case then we would need a defense against those thoughts. For by saying we should not judge another have we not made judgment real? We are supposed to look at our egos without judgment. Wouldn’t that include looking at our judgment of others without giving reality to it? Some of our judgments may be quite intense, but if we can look at these with the realization that nothing is happening, haven't we made progress?

A: You may have misunderstood. The tape you refer to makes the point that the goal, contrary to what many students believe the Course to be saying, is not to stop making judgments of ourselves and others, but rather to learn not to judge ourselves for making those judgments. By resisting them and trying to change them, we are making them real in our mind, and that continues to give them and the ego power, as you observe. So the goal is to look upon our ego’s judgments without taking them seriously, that is, without guilt, and without attempting to justify or rationalize them in any way.

A very important part of the looking process is to recognize that our judgments have a cost to us. Judgment keeps the thought of separation real in our mind, banishing peace and inviting pain and guilt to remain. As we recognize the cost of our judgments over time, our motivation increases to join with Jesus or the Holy Spirit and release our investment in judging. So the point is not that we should not judge, but rather why would we want to if we really understood what accompanies it?

By the way, reality is not simply unimpressed or unshaken by our judgments -- it can not even see or recognize them! For our judgments have no reality. And so that is why, near the end of the Course, Jesus points out, “It is necessary for the teacher of God to realize, not that he should not judge, but that he cannot. In giving up judgment, he is merely giving up what he did not have. He gives up an illusion; or better, he has an illusion of giving up.…Recognizing that judgment was always impossible for him, he no longer attempts it” (M.10.2:1,2,3,5).

Q #165: I was sitting in my living room with my six month old son in my lap when a question occurred to me. I was thinking how the Holy Spirit does not even know about me or my son, but only loves the dreamer of the dream. My question is, is the dreamer the same for all seeming people in the universe? Is it one dreamer or billions of dreamers projecting their guilt onto the world? Do my son and I share the same wrong mind and right mind?

A: Whenever we speak of ideas predicated on a belief in separation and duality, regardless of whether we are speaking at the level of the split mind or the level of its projections into the world of form and bodies, we are speaking in terms of myths and illusions. So the dreamer of the dream and the Holy Spirit are ultimately no more real than the selves you think you and your son are. Any answer to your question therefore should not be considered a description of reality but ought to be evaluated only in terms of its usefulness in helping us in our practice of forgiveness -- the only illusion that does not lead to further illusions (C.3.1:3,4).

In A Course in Miracles’ version of the myth of separation, everything began with the one mind of God’s only Son seeming to fall asleep and dream a dream of separation. And that one mind was split into the wrong mind (the ego) and the right mind (the Holy Spirit), along with the part of the mind that had the power to choose between the two (the decision maker or the dreamer). In the dream, there is only that one split mind. But as part of the ego’s defense against its own guilt and anxiety, to hide from God so that the life the Son stole from Him would not be seized back, the Son adopted the ego’s strategy of further seeming separation into billions and billions of seem­ingly unique fragments that would be experienced as independent, individual minds. But each fragment, as a split off part of the one split mind of the Son, shared the same basic content: a wrong mind, a right mind and the power to choose between them.

The phenomenon that has been called multiple personality disorder or dissociative identity disorder -- dramatically illustrated in such films as The Three Faces of Eve and Sybil -- provides a useful model for thinking about this fragmenting process. Seemingly separate, independent personalities result from a splitting off of the one mind in order to protect itself from intense anxiety and guilt usually associated with a parental figure.

While this illusory fragmenting was the ego’s defensive strategy against God, it may also be used to serve the Holy Spirit’s purpose of forgiveness. Since each seemingly separate mind has the same basic choice fully represented within itself, its choice for salvation through the practice of forgiveness is not affected by or dependent upon any other separate mind. In other words, each fragmentary mind cannot be victimized by any other mind - it is totally responsible for its experience. And by accepting responsibility for that experience and learning to recognize that it represents a choice, each fragment can learn over time to make the choice for the Holy Spirit rather than for the ego. When, in the end, the decision for the Holy Spirit is made once and for all, then the seeming fragment recognizes that there is no separation and that the mind is one, as it has been all along.

The parallel with therapeutic interventions for individuals with multiple personalities is again illustrative. The goal is what is called integration: the various personalities are in time integrated as the barriers to awareness of the separate components are removed so that the mind recognizes its wholeness again.

To answer your specific question then, there is only one mind dreaming the dream of separation and projecting its guilt upon a world it made for that purpose. But our experience while we believe that we are each a separate fragment is that my mind is independent of yours, that I am dreaming my own separate dream of separation, and that I can choose the ego or the Holy Spirit independent of what you may be choosing. And with that understanding, genuine forgiveness now becomes possible.

Q #166: In Workbook Lesson 39 of A Course in Miracles (“My holiness is my salvation”) it reads:

“Specific situations, events or personalities you associate with unloving thoughts of any kind are suitable subjects for today's exercises. It is imperative for your salvation that you see them differently. And it is your blessing on them that will save you and give you vision.”

I'm not sure how the idea “It is imperative for your salvation that you see them differently.” reconciles with some of the major themes of the Course including the ideas that we let everything be the same and that there is no hierarchy in an illusion, not to mention that there is no order of difficulty in miracles. It seems to me it should say: It is imperative for your salvation that you not see them differently. What am I missing?

A: What you are missing is the use of the word “differently.” The idea is not to see the specific sit­uations, events or personalities associated with unloving thoughts as separate or dissimilar within themselves, but rather to see the specific situations, events or personalities with loving thoughts (differently from how you have seen before). In the past, your sight (unloving thoughts) was through the eyes of the ego. Now you are encouraged to see through the eyes of the Holy Spirit (loving thoughts). Another way of putting it is that seeing through the eyes of the Holy Spirit is “different” from seeing through the eyes of the ego.

Q #167: I've often had experiences of deja vu, that sense of having been there before, that have turned out to be genuinely significant. The circumstances in which the experience has occurred have varied from pleasant enough to downright unpleasant or stressful, but often have not seemed to have any obviously direct bearing on the experience. But in retrospect the outcome of the situation has come to be something of a relief or possibly a blessing in disguise. I'm aware from my reading of A Course in Miracles and publications of Dr. Wapnick that, although time is an illusion and “this world was over long ago,” we experience and believe we still have choices to make, seemingly new. But we are really only “reviewing mentally what has gone by.” My question is, how does the experience of deja vu relate to the choice for either the ego's tape or timeline, or the Holy Spirit’s for us? Is deja vu a reflection of the collective ego-mind? Or can it be a reflection of having made the correct choice through “the decision-maker,” outside of time and space and the ego's dualistic world of limitations, however unpleasant or pleasant the circumstances seem to be at the time? And could the sense of familiarity then be an echo of our “distant” or subconscious memory of God before the separation, when we were all one with him as Christ, as we still are in reality? And so could deja vu be a reminder or reflection in this world that we are on the “right track” or still in our right minds? Or am I just reading too much into these experiences? And related to this, what is the role of coincidence or synchronicity in the everyday, if still illusory, world?

A: Experiences of deja vu are neutral in themselves. Since, as you remark, we are only ever “reviewing mentally what has gone by” (W.pI.158.4:5), all of our experiences potentially could be viewed as familiar. These would include both the ego’s scripts of specialness and the Holy Spirit’s correction scripts. Now most of the time, it will be in the ego’s best interest to keep that recognition from our awareness, for its defenses depend on a belief in linear time, flowing in only one direction, from past to future. Nevertheless, much as with psychic powers, reincarnation and past lives (M.24;25), it is the interpretation and purpose that we give to those experiences that determine whether they reinforce the ego’s specialness or the Holy Spirit’s forgiveness. If you have found that your experiences have ushered in opportunities for release of your judgments and guilt, then there has been a willingness on your part to allow them to serve that purpose. But they can just as easily be used to foster a preoccupation with the past, and specific and special relationships.

With respect to coincidence or synchronicity, since only one mind has written all the scripts, everything is interrelated and connected. Only because of our continued investment in seeing separation and differences do we fail to recognize the common threads running through all of our experiences. When coincidences are recognized, they can be used for the purposes of either the ego or the Holy Spirit. The choice is always ours. When serving the Holy Spirit’s, they are a reminder that decisions are being made at a level we are not usually conscious of and therefore they challenge the ego view that our reality is limited to this physical world. But a preoccupation with them can once again serve the ego’s purpose of specialness.

And so, whether we are dealing with deja vu, synchronicity, past lives or psychic powers, in every situation and circumstance, “the first thing to consider, very simply, is ‘What do I want to come of this? What is it for?’” (T.17.VI.2:1,2). If our purpose is to see beyond the petty specialness and judgments of the world, the Help we need will lift us above the self-imposed limits of our ego to a place where we can recognize our shared purpose with every brother and experience the joy of our interconnectedness with the entire Sonship.