Weekly Questions and Answers, 08/20/2003

This week's questions/topics:

Q #234: What is the role of non human forms in the Sonship?.
Q #235: Don't miracles make us happy and cure our problems?
Q #236: Are creative strivings a distraction and a waste of time?
Q #237: Can war be a means of salvation ?
Q #238: Insomnia as a defense against the truth ?

Look up a specific question by date or question no.

Q #234: Since everything in this world of form is the fragmented Son of God, and the Son’s purpose is forgiveness and accepting the Atonement for one’s self, how would anything non-human (A Course in Miracles is written specifically for humans) work on that? How does a mountain, a chair, a book, a machine, a tree, an ameba, a grain of sand, a hurricane, etc., learn a spirituality? Does my choosing to appear as a human with the ability to learn mean I am choosing to have the ability to wake up now rather than later? Since every Son of God in the Sonship has to wake up before oneness is achieved, won’t we be waiting an infinity for the inanimate things and the lower creatures on the "evolutionary scale" to perceive all this or is it even possible?

A: It would be very difficult, if not impossible, for us to understand how non-human entities can learn a spirituality. But there must be one, because the Sonship will return to its natural state as spirit, as one Son. We are at a distinct disadvantage, though, because our reference point is always our own "human" experience in which we see ourselves at the top, or close to it, on the "evolutionary scale." This reference point is purposefully established -- by the ego -- so that "reality" can be viewed hierarchically -- "the great chain of being," as it is commonly labeled. Thus we try to understand everything from this ego perspective, which is designed to conceal the true nature of reality. We are falling right into the ego’s trap, in other words, when we situate the Course’s teachings in the human framework. Surely, there is no other framework or context in which we can work; but it is essential that we realize that it is an ego setup to keep us from ever getting back into our minds beyond our spatial-temporal experience. That is what Jesus is helping us to do, so that we may share his vision of everything. Getting bogged down with questions such as these, which are good ones, would further the ego’s purpose of validating our existence. If we practice forgiveness day in and day out, we will be shedding our limited view and moving closer to where Jesus is. Our interests then would shift as well, and more than likely, we would not be preoccupied with these issues, intriguing as they are.

Q #235: Question #116 asks whether God intervenes in this world of form for us. Your answer was beautifully stated but was left wanting in my opinion. By its very title, A Course in Miracles, Jesus is telling us that He will indeed intervene in this mad dream we're having. There is no problem that cannot be answered by a miracle, whether it be in finances, health or emotional turmoil, or anything in between. That is the whole reason Jesus took the time to come to us in this form. All the work we do to undo our ego identification results in the undoing of all our problems. Every problem is answered. Our Light shines away all the darkness. So to put this in a question form: why is not more emphasis put on the realization of one's happiness by following the Course?

A: Why not more emphasis on finding happiness through the Course, you ask? Because none of us wants the happiness that the Course offers us. We all want our definition of happiness, which means having our personal needs met, whether they be financial, health, emotional or whatever. But that is not what the Course offers. It is inviting us through the practice of forgiveness to let go of all our judgments and grievances until, at the end of the process, we also release our identification with this personal self that we believe has all these problems and needs. The happiness the Course holds out to us comes from awakening from the dream of pain which we call our lives here in the world, a dream in which there is no hope of real happiness. But we don’t want that. And so Jesus says he must first teach us the difference between joy and pain, between freedom and imprisonment (T.7.X; T.8.II.4,5). Otherwise we will continue to seek pain, believing it is joy, and strive to maintain our imprisonment, insisting it is freedom. We need a lot of help, but not with the "problems" of the world.

To answer your unstated question -- neither God nor Jesus intervenes in the world. Nor do they intervene in our minds. To intervene and fix problems at any level would be to make the error of separation real (T.26.VII.12). And the correction, which the Course calls the Atonement principle, says the separation never in reality happened. So it would make no sense for God or Jesus to intervene in our insane world. We made up all of our worldly problems so that we could cover over and not have to look at what we believe is the real problem -- the guilt in our mind over separating from God. The only help we need is with changing our minds about that guilt and, although we can’t do this on our own, Jesus tells us he can’t change our minds for us. He can only show us what we have made real and its consequences, in the world and in our minds, in the hope that we will recognize our insanity and be willing to make the same choice he has already made (T.2.VI.4; T.2.VII.1; T.3.IV.7; T.5.II.9,10,11:1; T.8.IV.4,5,6).

The thing is, none of us really minds being unhappy, so long as we don’t think we’re responsible for that unhappiness. We want a world and relationships with problems that victimize us so that we don’t have to see that our choice for separation and individuality is the real cause of all our pain. And until we can recognize and accept that fact, we will have no interest in the happiness that following the Course offers us. We will find real happiness by following Jesus’ teaching, but not because all of our problems in the world will be resolved as a result of his intercession. We have no problems in the world that need resolving. Yes, all the darkness will disappear in the light of who we are -- and that includes not only all of our problems in the world, but the world itself and the self we think we are within the world, as well as the guilt within our mind that is the source of all of our projections into a world of form. Because for most of us, that thought is fearful, Jesus assures us in many places in his Course that the path is a process and we will progress along it at our pace, as we are comfortable (e.g., T.16.VI.8:1,2,3). But at least now we can understand our resistance to practicing his teachings of forgiveness. As Jesus reminds us, "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).

For further discussion of why God does not intervene in the world, see Question #42.

Q #236: One of the things I find hardest to accept about A Course in Miracles is its apparent dismissal of humanity's "higher strivings," as embodied, especially, in art and science. Clearly what the Course understands by our "creations" is something entirely different from "creativity" in the artistic or scientific sense. The latter, it would seem, generates nothing more than illusion within illusion (shades of Plato?), rather than pointing Man to a higher and more beautiful reality. Does this mean that artists and scientists should pack it in, and the rest of us dismiss their efforts as part of the big ego-distraction?

A: You raise an important question, one that has troubled many students and observers of  A Course in Miracles. On the one hand, it is indeed possible to concentrate on learning and practicing forgiveness while setting aside for a while this dimension of the Course’s theory. On the other hand, this issue cannot be ignored if one is to attain a comprehensive understanding of what the Course is saying about our world and ourselves.

Examining this issue in the light of the two levels on which this Course is written, along with the distinction between form and content might help with your concern.

Although it is true that artistic and scientific "creativity" "generates nothing more than illusion within illusion," this does not mean that "artists and scientists should pack it in, and the rest of us dismiss their efforts as part of the big ego-distraction" -- any more than the fact that the body is part of the ego’s plan to attack God means that surgeons, chiropractors, dentists, physical therapists, etc., should "pack it in." The Course would indeed not be the practical, gentle, and kind course that it is if this were what it advocated.

First, throughout the Course, Jesus is trying to help us see things from his point of view, to step outside the entire world to view its origin in the thought system we maintain in our minds, and to see what we have given up in exchange for our individual, separate existence, so that we may have a better basis for understanding and evaluating what we have. He appeals to us in many ways to recognize that even the best of what we have in this world is unimaginably miniscule when compared to the glory that we rejected in our choice to prefer separation over oneness.

Jesus consistently teaches us that nothing in this world, or of this world, is of God, and therefore it has no reality. On this level of absolute truth, which we call Level One, all human activity is futile and meaningless. The only genuine creativity is in Heaven, in the extension of infinite Love: "True giving is creation. It extends the limitless to the unlimited, eternity to timelessness, and love unto itself. It adds to all that is complete already. . . by letting what cannot contain itself fulfill its aim of giving everything it has away, thus securing it forever for itself" (W.pI.105.4:2,3,4,5).

Moving from Level One of the Course to Level Two -- which is the level of teaching in which Jesus communicates in a framework that is meaningful to us, and which he can use to start us back up the ladder our choice to be separate led us down (T.28.III.1:2) -- he tells us that we have a split mind, and that when we left Heaven (an impossibility of course), we took with us the memory of all we left behind, but buried it far beyond awareness. Since it is still there in our split minds, however, it can be evoked. Practicing A Course in Miracles is one way of bringing this memory back into awareness. In fact, anything at all may be utilized toward this end, including the work of artists and scientists. But it is not the form that is decisive, although the form may be the starting point. It is what the form reminds us of that is relevant, its content, in other words. The perfection of Michelangelo’s statue of David, for example, can transport one from the physical realm to the non-physical, abstract perfection of God’s creation in Heaven. The same inspiration can come from viewing a distorted body, however. It is entirely conditional on the viewer first choosing to shift from the wrong mind to the right mind, from identifying with the ego to identifying with the Atonement principle, that the separation never happened in reality.

From another angle: since our minds are split, we are not totally insane; and therefore we are sometimes motivated by selflessness, defenselessness, and a willingness to see our interests as shared with everyone else’s. Thus, the efforts of a scientist or doctor to relieve pain and reduce human misery can serve as a reminder of our ego-free state in our right minds, the reflection of our pure innocence and oneness as Christ. Jesus would never simply dismiss our efforts as meaningless in and of themselves -- whether they be the "higher strivings" of humanity, or the humble efforts of a street cleaner to keep the neighborhood looking nice. Jesus looks only at the purpose, which can transcend self-centeredness, self-aggrandizement, or be limited solely to them. The value of our activities is associated only with their purpose, which is always the result of a decision made in our minds to see either shared or separate interests. We therefore can serve each other best by being reminders of the truth and flawless beauty of our immaculate Identity as Christ, which is reflected in our right minds, and which we witness to by our willingness to see all people as the same. Again, this may come through the work of scientists, artists, poets, or welders in a factory. It is always a matter of content, not form.

Q #237: The prayer from the "Third Obstacle to Peace":

i. "Take this from me and look upon it, judging it for me.

Let me not see it as a sign of sin and death, nor use it for destruction.

Teach me how not to make of it an obstacle to peace, but let You use it for me, to facilitate its coming"

asks us not to use our perceptions as obstacles to peace but as facilitators of peace. Correct?

ii. Does this mean even war? Is it possible that war, which we have chosen to hurt ourselves and others with, can become the means for our salvation?

A: i. Yes, you are correct. In fact, this prayer is a very clear statement about the process of forgiveness as taught in A Course in Miracles. As soon as we become aware of disquiet within, we recognize that we have judged wrongly and ask the Holy Spirit to judge the situation (or person) for us. It is in this way that our perceptions, which caused the disquiet and obstructed our peace, become facilitators of our peace.

ii: Your uncertainty is met with an unequivocal response of yes, this means even war. Any behavior in this world can become the means for our salvation: "…His use of what you made, to heal instead of harm" (T.25.VI.4.1). This is why the focus of A Course in Miracles is not on behavior, but rather on changing our thoughts. Or more specifically, on changing with whom we think. Trying to change our behavior (or that of another), is actually trying to usurp the function of Holy Spirit: "Correction is not your function. It belongs to One Who knows of fairness, not of guilt. If you assume correction’s role, you lose the function of forgiveness" (T.27.II.10:1,2,3). Once again, a very clear statement. Any ambiguity which arises in our practice of the Course must come from our fear of disidentifying with the ego, as Jesus could not state any more clearly the necessary steps for peace to be in our awareness. This being said, before "going to war," one must be really clear that the ego is not involved.

Q #238: I have been a student of A Course in Miracles since 1982. I have been experiencing insomnia for about 18 years. I read and reread the "Sickness is a defense against the Truth" lesson. I have so much extra information in the form of Excerpts and Ken Wapnick tapes. I am aware that the ego is doing this to keep me off balance and have me constantly identify with the body, making it very, very real. I wake so early and just lie there and try to stop the negative thoughts coming through. I ask the Holy Spirit to undo everything I have done to bring this on. I ask Jesus to take my hand and help me. But I always wind up falling in with the ego, and getting so angry that it makes my life much more difficult. It keeps me so worn out that it makes it difficult to remember to keep listening for the still, small voice. If only it were a big, booming voice.

A: You do not mention whether or not you are taking measures to help with your insomnia on the level of form. This is of course the place to start the healing process, since we do believe we are bodies and, as you say, we take the body very seriously by making it real. One can be faithful to the Course process of recognizing the ego at work, while using whatever remedies may help in treating the illness. As with so many of our problems the ego gets us coming and going. As you point out, your insomnia serves the ego in several ways -- as an initial distraction, as a way of causing conflict, and as a great way to drown out "the still small voice," not to mention the guilt at having engaged so vigorously with the ego in the whole process. It is indeed an exhausting situation which certainly exacerbates the effects of insomnia.

Have you tried listening to your ACIM tapes? If they don’t put you to sleep, this would then be a useful way of spending the time you are awake, and would defeat the ego’s goal of distraction and conflict. If, with this little willingness to hear the message of the Course during these early morning hours, you are no longer interested in trying to get to sleep, maybe the ego would give up using insomnia as a weapon. It is a particularly ingenious weapon since A Course in Miracles is teaching us how to awaken from the dream, and the ego chooses the "lack of sleep" as an attack device.

In the ego’s arsenal insomnia becomes the victimizer. Using the body in this way is the usual ego strategy designed to produce feelings of victimization, seemingly dissociated with the mind. The Course, on the other hand, tells us that the problem originates in the mind that made a choice to identify with the ego’s world of separation and specialness prior to the insomnia and the ensuing anger. Although magic works to bring the problem into the dream in form, it does not work to bring about the correction. The Holy Spirit’s help relies on our willingness to take responsibility for this choice in order to have the error undone. The negative thoughts you mention will not disappear without this willingness to take responsibility. Very often the honest recognition of saying; "I am in this predicament (insomnia, or whatever) because "I want to be an angry victim", takes some of the punch out of it. At least it clears up some of the clutter in our confused minds and makes way for the beginning of healing.

Feeling guilty about it will only add to the ego’s scheme. What the Course advises with regards to the laws of chaos applies to the ego’s goals in your insomnia, as with all ego schemes: "Let us, then, look upon them calmly, that we may look beyond them, understanding what they are [ego lies that have no real effect], not what they would maintain [that the separation and the body are real]" (T.23.II.1:4). "Calmly" is a very important word here; it means looking without judgment, without adding more guilt to the ego’s fire. This process of looking honestly is how we wake up to the truth the Course is teaching us, and in this waking we find our rest: "Rest does not come from sleeping but from waking" (T.5.II.10:4).