Weekly Questions and Answers, 09/24/2003

This week's questions/topics:

Q #263: Can we get in touch with the original thought of separation ?.
Q #264: Where exactly are the decision maker, and the Holy Spirit, in the theoretical picture?
Q #265: Why do you sell a picture of a blue-eyed blonde-haired Jesus?
Q #266: What is the script and what part does choice play in it ?
Q #267: If fear is never justified, should people in frightening situations feel no fear ?
Q #268: I understand the Course intellectually but do not feel more peaceful

Look up a specific question by date or question no.

Q #263: I know that it isn't necessary, but is it possible to get in touch with the original thought of separation? Are there students of A Course in Miracles who have been aware of that thought in their mind?

A: The first important consideration, in answer to your question, is the fact that the separation never really happened: “The full awareness of the Atonement, then, is the recognition that the separation never occurred” (T.6.II.10:7). No one can get in touch with an ancient moment of actual separation from God, because there is no actual separation from God. The only explanation for our seeming existence in the world is that we are dreaming a dream of separation. Even here in the dream the ancient memory is not accessible: “Time really, then, goes backward to an instant so ancient that it is beyond all memory, and past even the possibility of remembering” (M.2.4:1). It is a dream in which the choice to make the thought of separation real is being continually relived. In this sense, there is only one thought of separation. Each time we choose to identify with the thought of separation that same original thought is being played out: “Each day, and every minute in each day, and every instant that each minute holds, you but relive the single instant when the time of terror took the place of love [the choice to believe that the separation is real]” (T.26.V.13:1,2). One of the most poignant ways to recognize the separation thought in action is to see ourselves insist on being right. The specific forms vary, and do not matter; any insistence in defense of any belief is the result of having taken the thought of separation seriously. It is the ego’s tantrum making a declaration of separation in that very moment. It is this thought acted out in the present that we need to get in touch with, so it can be healed. This is what the Course asks us to practice by asking us to “question every value that [we] hold” (T.24.in.2:1). Every thought or belief we have has its roots in the thought of separation. The separation is undone as we learn to see it reflected back to us in the “rightness” of our judgments, with the willingness to take responsibility for them and question their validity. Doing this will open the way for us to seek and to accept the Holy Spirit’s correct interpretation of the separation thought, which is that it is not real, and has had no effect: “The tiny instant you would keep and make eternal, passed away in Heaven too soon for anything to notice it had come…not one note in Heaven's song was missed” (T.26.V.5:1,4).

Q #264: A clear picture of the theoretical foundations of A Course in Miracles for me is an essential base to get into practice. Therefore I’m studying the chart on your Web site http://www.facim.org/acim/theory.htm.

[1] I see the realms: one-mindedness, wrong-mindedness and right-mindedness. Which realm is the “decision maker” in? Does it dwell somewhere between wrong- and right-mindedness? Or do you see it more as a “part” of one of these realms?

[2] It is irritating to see the Holy Spirit between truth and illusion and to see the Holy Spirit in the following description of the Trinity as belonging to one-mindedness. I have more a picture in my mind that sees the Holy Spirit as a part of the illusory world -- namely the right-mind -- pointing out of it towards truth -- or perhaps just being this right-minded world -- and thus fulfilling a mediating role between wrong-mindedness and one-mindedness. Looking at the Trinity I see God and Christ in the one-minded realm and the Holy Spirit in the right-minded realm. That view makes it possible for the “me that lives in duality” to accept the idea that the Holy Spirit is a part of me. These ideas seem to contradict what is shown on http://ww.facim.org/acim/theory.htm. Can you help me in clearing up these thoughts?

A: 1) The decision maker is the part of the mind that chooses to identify with either the ego’s thought system or the Holy Spirit’s thought system. It is never neutral; it is always choosing one or the other. On the chart it would be located on the Level Two section right in the middle, above the wrong mind / right mind boxes.

2) Within the illusion, the Holy Spirit represents the Atonement principle in our right minds. He is described in many ways by Jesus, who shares His function of helping us climb back up the ladder separation led us down. When you, as a decision-making mind outside time and space, choose once and for all to let go of the ego and identify completely with your right mind, then you become the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, the same as Jesus. You would know that this is your only identity and the ego thought system of separation and individuality would be seen as totally meaningless. So the Holy Spirit is most definitely part of you, the part of your mind that contains the memory of God and your true Identity as Christ, with which you (as a decision-making mind) can choose to identify at any given instant.

There are two passages in particular that indicate that the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity and also functions as mediator: “And then the Voice [the Holy Spirit] is gone, no longer to take form but to return to the eternal Formlessness of God” (C.6.5:8). Similarly, in the text, he tells us: “The Holy Spirit is the Christ Mind which is aware of the knowledge that lies beyond perception. He came into being with the separation as a protection, inspiring the Atonement principle at the same time. Before that there was no need for healing, for no one was comfortless. The Voice of the Holy Spirit is the Call to Atonement, or the restoration of the integrity of the mind. When the Atonement is complete and the whole Sonship is healed there will be no Call to return. But what God creates is eternal. The Holy Spirit will remain with the Sons of God, to bless their creations and keep them in the light of joy” (T.5.I.5:4,5,6,7).

Finally, it is helpful to keep in mind when studying the chart that we are trying to diagram what is illusory (the mind that separated from God), and also what lies totally beyond form (God, Christ, and His creations). So while charts are useful teaching aides, they can never perfectly depict the thought systems discussed in the Course, which themselves are illusory.

Q #265: Although I really love your questions and answers I have such issues with the blonde blue eyed Jesus picture you're selling. As a black woman I do not identify with it at all. Why do you sell it -- wasn't he Mediterranean anyway!

A: The picture of Jesus that the Foundation makes available is not meant to be the likeness of the historical Jesus. Obviously no image of him is available. The voice that Helen Schucman heard and identified as Jesus’ voice is not associated with a body at all. So in neither case is the Foundation offering an image that can be said to actually portray Jesus in form. The image you refer to was used as the cover of one of the Foundation’s publications “Forgiveness and Jesus” by Kenneth Wapnick, and was made available to the public by request. The original painting by Howard Chandler Christy was later given to the Foundation. Some people like it, though it is certainly not appealing to everyone. You may find there is another representation of Jesus in form that you find inspiring and helps you to relate to Jesus in a more personal way. However, it is important for students of the Course not to confuse the voice Helen Schucman heard and identified as Jesus’, with the Jesus of traditional Christianity, nor to associate it with any particular image in form. The Course uses the term Jesus and the Holy Spirit as symbols reflecting the part of the mind of the Sonship that holds the memory of God. They are not real persons: “The name of Jesus is the name of one who was a man but saw the face of Christ in all his brothers and remembered God. So he became identified with Christ, a man no longer, but at one with God. The man was an illusion, for he seemed to be a separate being, walking by himself, within a body that appeared to hold his self from Self, as all illusions do” (C.5.2:1,2,3). However, as long as we believe we are individuals in bodies, it is helpful for us to relate to these symbols as persons in any specific form that is meaningful. This is what the Course refers to when it tells us: “You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognize” (T.18.VIII.1:7). Jesus himself joins with us in our perception of the body: “Reach, therefore, for my hand because you want to transcend the ego” (T.8.V.6:8, italics ours).

Q #266: What exactly is the script and what part does choice play in it? Are all events fixed because these are lessons we have chosen to learn and the choice is only in seeing everything with the Holy Spirit? Or is there a further choice in which we can actually change the script, i.e., avoid, accelerate, rearrange, omit, reorder, add situations, events, relationships, etc.? And, if the mind has been healed in certain aspects, would it then mean that certain corresponding events in the script would not come up? And would we know it? And does this have anything to do with forgiveness?

A: The script (W.p.I.158.4:3) refers to all the seeming events that could possibly be played out on the ego’s screen -- the world of time and space. All these events are fixed in the sense that they are already written. In fact, they have already happened although, A Course in Miracles tells us, in reality they never even happened at all, since the thought of separation and the consequent guilt from which they all originate is itself a fiction. In that instant of separation, everything -- every dream, every possible ego choice -- occurred and instantly was corrected by the Holy Spirit. But we who seem still to be caught in time and space have not yet accepted that correction into our minds and so, as fragmented parts of that one ego mind, continue to project our specific scripts of guilt out onto the world we made as the screen for those projections (M.2.2,3,4).

And so we now seem to have a choice as to which of all the myriad, nearly infinite number of ego events we shall review, although we generally accept certain constraints on our choices once we select a specific identity in a specific lifetime. But there are still many choices on the level of form that can be made in each moment. This range of options (from the fixed pool of possibilities) is all part of the ego’s seductiveness, as it tries to persuade us to continue to believe that if we can only choose the right forms in the right combination -- the right relationship, the right career, the right place to live, the right investment, the right lottery numbers, etc. -- we can be happy. What the ego always attempts to keep hidden is the underlying content of those choices, which must be sin, guilt and fear, based as they all are in the belief in separation and separate interests (T.29.IV.2,3).

It is the Holy Spirit’s task to teach us that the only really meaningful choice we can make in time is to allow His purpose to guide us in each of our moments of decision, so that we will use them to awaken from the dream rather than to continue dreaming in search of the “perfect” ego dream in which all our specialness needs are met. And that means we are willing to release our own judgments about how things should be, which is what it means to practice forgiveness (T.29.IV.5,6).

Generally, in any one lifetime, there is a specific victimization theme that recurs within or across relationships. It may be a theme of betrayal or abandonment or rejection or abuse or neglect, etc. Since each theme represents nothing more than the specific form of projected guilt over our buried self-accusation of how we attacked God in the moment of separation, it must recur in our lives until we are willing to withdraw the projection and heal that aspect of guilt in our own mind, rather than seeing it outside ourselves. And that is what the Course means by forgiveness.

Once the guilt behind a specific form of victimization has been uncovered and released, we will no longer need to project it outside our mind. We may or may not be aware of this inner shift as mirrored in our external relationships, although we may at some point have a realization that we are no longer being triggered by external happenings in the way we had been in the past. There would certainly no longer be any ego-based motivation to select such specific victim scripts anymore to hide our guilt.

For further related discussions on scripts and choice, you may also wish to review Questions #37, #190, and #233

Q #267: I am on Lesson 240 in the workbook of A Course in Miracles. In my words, it says that fear, in any case, is never justified. I am wondering about the people in the jets on September 11th, being aware that they were going to crash against the towers. Couldn’t they feel panic or fear, anyway?

A: Yes, by all means. It would be strange if they did not feel panic or fear. To say that fear is never justified is not the same as saying we should not feel fearful. Similarly, Jesus says that anger is never justified (T.6.I.4), and that we are never justified in perceiving ourselves unfairly treated (T.26.X.3,4). The essence of his gentle teaching is that when we become aware that we are feeling fearful -- to stay with your example -- we should not try to justify it by attributing the cause to something external, even though that is our experience. As we practice our lessons of forgiveness over a period of many years, we will become more comfortable in acknowledging that fear always comes from ego identification, regardless of what is going on externally. When our minds are healed -- when we let go of the ego entirely -- we will never experience ourselves as vulnerable or under threat, because we will have perceived the body correctly -- as simply the projection of a thought of guilt and fear in our minds. We will know that we are as God created us, and that nothing can alter that Identity. These ideas are also found in Lesson 160, “I am at home. Fear is the stranger here.”

So when Jesus says in Lesson 240 that “fear is self-deception,” he is speaking from the perspec­tive of a healed mind. When we truly know and accept that “not one thing in this world is true,” we would never again be afraid or even upset, regardless of the circumstances. This is a slow, gentle process that begins with our simply saying the words we have read in the Course, “next to be accepted as but partly true, with many reservations. Then to be considered seriously more and more, and finally to be accepted as the truth” (W.pII.284.1:5,6).

Finally, it may be comforting to remember that Helen Schucman experienced intense fear long after she completed the scribing of the Course. One episode in particular led to the sublimely beautiful and instructive prose poem, “The Gifts of God,” which appears as the final piece in the collection of her published poetry called The Gifts of God. This poem actually was a special message from Jesus meant to help Helen with her fear. (See Absence from Felicity, pp. 402, 403,404 for a detailed account of the circumstances surrounding this message.) Nowhere in this poem does Jesus tell Helen that she has failed in some way because she is experiencing so much fear. In some of the most inspiring and moving material Helen received from Jesus -- which obviously applies to all of us -- Jesus helps her to understand the true nature of her fear and how to get beyond it.

Q #268: I finished reading the text and started the workbook of A Course in Miracles about two weeks ago. I haven't experienced any great resistance that I am aware of and most of the ideas of the Course ring true to me. However, there does not seem to be much apparent progress with my feeling peaceful and not taking the illusion seriously. I suspect I may be accepting A Course in Miracles only on a superficial intellectual level, missing its goal in the mind. Would you recommend anything to me other than proceeding with the exercises and hoping that it will eventually work?

A: Jesus acknowledges uncertainty such as yours, “You are very new in the ways of salvation, and think you have lost your way” (T.17.V.9:1). But he also reassures all of us, “The outcome is as certain as God” (T.2.III.3:10). Your uncertainty is not surprising in light of the fact that the Course is attempting to help us unlearn a massive defensive system upon which our complete false identity as an individual physical self with its own unique personality is both based and protected. The fact that you may be willing to hear and accept at an intellectual level what it is teaching does not mean that your mind is totally aligned with putting all of what it says into practice. It would be very unusual, in fact, if you had that total willingness and, if it came that easily for you, you probably would not need the Course.

You may not have intellectual resistance to the Course’s radical ideas, but you no doubt have resistance to its practical application at a deeper level since you are not yet experiencing the greater peace this path promises. But again, that is not unexpected. So simply be patient with yourself and allow yourself to hear Jesus’ message more deeply as you practice his workbook lessons. And recognize that this almost certainly will take time for, as Jesus says at the end of the workbook, “This course is a beginning, not an end” (W.ep.1:1).

The exercises should help you begin to see the many different forms in which your resistance shows up. Just noticing how much of the day you spend judging and condemning yourself and others can be very helpful in identifying the resistance, as your recognition of the purpose of those separation thoughts deepens, as well as their consequences -- the guilt and lack of peace (e.g., W.pI.21, 22, 23, 26, 34). A key will be that you not simply evaluate the ideas in terms of whether they make sense to you and you accept them, which is a part of the process, but that you consider how they are actually reflected in your thinking as you experience your day. This is one of the goals of the workbook lessons, bringing the Course out of the realm of the theoretical to the level of application (W.in.1).

And as you look more deeply, uncovering the buried guilt in your mind, it will be helpful to remember that there is also a loving Presence within your mind -- the Course uses the names Jesus and Holy Spirit for this Presence -- that you will want to remember to invite to be a part of the looking process. Increasing your awareness of that presence, reflecting a choice for forgiveness rather than judgment, is another very practical purpose of the workbook (e.g., W.pI.30, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50).

And, perhaps most importantly, do not try to evaluate your progress with the Course -- none of us is in a position to do that (T.18.V.1). All the Course asks of us is a little willingness, promising us that if we will do our part, which is simply to look at what we have made real in our minds and its cost, the rest will be provided (T.18.IV). What more could we ask for?