Weekly Questions and Answers, 11/06/2002

This week's questions:
Q #9:    A question about attacks on people who extend love.
Q #10:  Several questions about how the ego arose.
Q #11:  A question about how to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Q #12:  A question about how to form and run a group.

Q #9: If the ego destroys love like Jesus and his message, then why hasn't Mother Teresa been attacked if she is extending love?

A: The ego cannot "destroy" love, though it does seem to attack love’s symbols in the world (Jesus and his message). In spite of the attacks on the historical Jesus, or any attacks on his true message since then, neither his love nor his message has been destroyed. The ego’s attacks have no effect on the content. Mother Teresa’s extension of love (or anyone’s) is invulnerable to attack, whether she be attacked in form or not is irrelevant. She may indeed have been attacked or threatened during her lifetime. The particular form her love took during her life was in fact criticized. The theology and belief system that inspired her is also a form that has been attacked. None of these, however, has had any effect on the loving content of her work or her message. As the Course says: "How weak is fear; how little and how meaningless. How insignificant before the quiet strength of those whom love has joined! This is your ‘enemy,’ -- a frightened mouse that would attack the universe. How likely is it that it will succeed? Can it be difficult to disregard its feeble squeaks that tell of its omnipotence, and would drown out the hymn of praise to its Creator that every heart throughout the universe forever sings as one?" (T.22.V.4:1,2,3,4,5)

Q #10: We have received a number of questions on the theme of the ego’s origin, examples of which are below ...

  1. If Heaven and the Love of God were completely satisfying, why would the Son choose to dream he left?

  2. If God is perfect and unified, and has a perfect and unified Son, how could an imperfect thought of separation and division have possibly arisen within such a mind?

  3. Once the Atonement is accepted, how do we know the ego won’t be chosen again?

  4. How can one achieve "an experience" which the Course says will resolve the ego paradox?

A: i, ii, and iii above, posed as questions, are actually statements made by an ego mind enunciating the following: I know the ego is real, and now I want you to explain how it happened and how you know it won’t happen again.

The question "how did the ego happen," and all its variations, is undoubtedly the most frequently asked question of students of A Course in Miracles. This is only natural to an ego wanting to know where it came from, just as a child would question its parents about its origin. The problem is that the ego itself is not natural. The Course teaches us that in reality the ego never happened. Consequently, how could we ever find an intellectually satisfying answer to the ego’s origin between the Course’s covers? Those asking how the impossible could ever have happened must identify themselves as separate and individual beings, while anyone answering the question must also agree that the separation did indeed happen. Furthermore, if it happened once, it could happen ad infinitum, and in some respects it does. Day in and day out we are offered the choice of believing in the reality of ourselves as an ego or as a Son of God. Therefore, to wonder about the separation recurring is to make the same mistake of believing it happened in the first place. As the Course says:

"Who asks you to define the ego and explain how it arose can be but he who thinks it real, and seeks by definition to ensure that its illusive nature is concealed behind the words that seem to make it so.

There is no definition for a lie that serves to make it true" (C-2.2:5–3:1).

"The ego will demand many answers that this course does not give. It does not recognize as questions the mere form of a question to which an answer is impossible. The ego may ask, "How did the impossible occur?", "To what did the impossible happen?", and may ask this in many forms. Yet there is no answer; only an experience. Seek only this, and do not let theology delay you" (C-in.4).

God’s Love is the experience the Course speaks of in the quote above. This experience is attained through the process of forgiveness, which removes the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence (T.In.1:7). Indeed, the purpose of A Course in Miracles is to help us attain this experience.

Q #11: In seeking the "Voice" of the Holy Spirit is there any particular method or practice that facilitates the hearing of this Voice? A Course in Miracles seems to say that few ever even hear it and this seems to inhibit the practice of forgiveness.

A: The greatest obstacle to hearing the Voice of the Holy Spirit is the ego’s raucous shrieking. The Course tells us the Holy Spirit is "a still small Voice" (T.21.V.1:6). Rather than seeking this Voice (which is always with us) we can practice forgiveness by paying attention to the thoughts giving voice to the shrieking in our minds, which is drowning out the Voice of the Holy Spirit. The thoughts of separation, judgment, and attack can be seen for what they are; attempts to defend our ego identity, prove that we are right and God is wrong, guilt is justified, just to name a few. Recognizing these thoughts and accepting responsibility for having chosen them for the specific purpose of not hearing the Holy Spirit’s Voice is the beginning of the practice of forgiveness and of hearing His Voice. If we want to, we then have the opportunity to choose to listen to the Holy Spirit’s Voice, which may not actually be a voice, but perhaps the recognition that I am wrong about how I see a situation, person or event, and being willing to see it differently. In this moment then, the recognition, the willingness and the seeing differently is the Voice of the Holy Spirit. Everyone is called to hear the Holy Spirit in this way. Few may hear the Voice of the Holy Spirit as an actual voice, which is not necessary for the practice of forgiveness. 

Q #12: I have been studying the Course for some years now, and being a psychologist would like to establish a workshop and/or a support group for people trying to live according to its principles. My idea is basically to help people see their projections on others and then make a group effort of asking for help to the Holy Spirit. Would this type of work be in accordance to the principles of the Course and do you have any more suggestions or opinions? I know I have to teach what I need to learn.

A: The bottom line answer to your question is that there are no guidelines in A Course in Miracles for behavior; i.e., "What should I do?" Jesus reminds us that his is a course in cause (the mind), and not in effect (the body, or behavior) (T.21.VII.7:8). Thus, our only function is to ask for help in getting our egos out of the way so that we may be free to be guided in whatever action (or non- action) would be most helpful and loving to all people involved in the situation. The following statement is representative of this all-important Course teaching: "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false" (T.16.IV.6:1,2). And so, before knowing how you should (or should not) proceed with your thought of starting a group, bring to the Holy Spirit any ego investment you might have in having such a group. When you are reasonably sure your ego is safely out of the way, then simply follow His guidance.

One other point: a temptation in any group, especially the kind that you envision, is to circumvent the difficult individual effort students are asked to make in order to bring their egos to the Holy Spirit , by diluting the process and displacing the "work" onto the group. At best, groups facilitate this individual work we are all asked to do; at worst, they depreciate the power of our minds to change our decisions and misperceptions, not to mention reinforce the ego’s specialness. Good luck!

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