Weekly Questions and Answers, 12/03/2003

This week's questions/topics:

Q #323: Why does the Course use the term "Son" of God?.
Q #324: Any peace I see seems to be temporary. Why?
Q #325: Isn't looking at our egos the same as "analyzing the darkness"?
Q #326: Have any Course students achieved the holy instant ?.
Q #327: How can oneness be compatible with individual beings?
Q #328: If everything is illusion, how can the Course exist?

Q #329: Is marriage a special relationship?
Q #330: What are "Iambic Pentameters"?

Look up a specific question by date or question no.

Q #323: In talking about A Course in Miracles I tell people that we are all children of God. Why is Son of God always used and not the unisex child of God. The term Son of God is not so familiar to the daughters of God, whereas child of God is for us all. If the Course comes from God, why exclude half of the human race?

A: It is important to clarify, first of all, that A Course in Miracles does not come from God. It comes from Jesus who symbolizes the part of the mind of the Sonship that remembers God, and knows our true identity as innocent Sons of God. God does not know about the world or our illusory separation from Him.

For a complete answer to your question regarding the use of masculine language in the Course please see Question #5.

Q #324: I sometimes feel that choosing to see peace, for me, is a kind of denial. I know I can look at a situation and choose to see peace. And often I do, and the tension alleviates and my thought of peace brings a peaceful feeling. But sometimes I am surprised by an onslaught of fear and anger and guilt feelings in an ongoing difficult situation that I thought was close to being healed, and then I feel like I had just been denying those feelings in seeing peace. It seems to me that to heal them I have to be in the feelings for a while, not try to see peace but really feel the fear and be un-peaceful for a while. I feel if I try to see peace the instant I feel anxious, I will just be covering up the fear and will not be clear about just what I am bringing to the light to be healed. I am not at the point where I can really look at the fear and be peaceful at the same time. Is this in keeping with the path of A Course in Miracles?

A: A very honest, thoughtful question. It is true that our egos can fool us at times into believing we have made a choice for peace when all that has really happened is that we have discovered how to get our own way. Nevertheless, you don’t want to dismiss all your moments of peace as fraudulent, simply because they are not yet permanent. As a result of our fear of what genuine peace brings with it -- a disidentification with the self we think we are -- we will vacillate between peace and conflict as our learning proceeds. The fact that the fear in a particular, recurring, difficult situation seems as intense as ever does not invalidate any experience of peace we may have had in a similar situation in the past.

Each thought system -- the ego’s and the Holy Spirit’s -- is total, and whichever one we choose, when we have chosen it, in that moment we are completely identified with it, regardless of our choices in the past, and we may experience the full range of feelings that accompany that choice. It is helpful to remember also that it is never the external situation that causes our loss of peace -- the situation is nothing more than a symbol onto which we choose to project our buried guilt. So the fear is really coming from a perception from within that we are sinful and guilty for attacking God and deserve to be punished. Any external situation can become the screen onto which we project that thought -- some are simply more powerful, forgiveness-resistant symbols!

Now having said all that, it is important to add that, yes, we do need to look honestly at our guilt and fear before we can release them to the light. Choosing peace is not simply a formula to be chanted whenever our guilt and fear come close to the surface in order to push the feelings back down. And the truth is, there remains a part of us that does not want peace so long as we are identified with the ego. Jesus makes this very clear in the opening lines to Lesson 185: "I want the peace of God. To say these words is nothing. But to mean these words is everything" (W.185.1.h,1,2). We learn to want peace by looking at what we have chosen instead and acknowledging the cost. And over time, as we allow ourselves to look honestly at what we have chosen without judging ourselves for that choice, the real alternative will become increasingly desirable.

Q #325: On page 172 of the text of A Course in Miracles (T.9.V.6:3) Jesus states: "Can you find light by analyzing the darkness..." My question is: If we are to look at our egos as a process, isn't that the same thing as finding light by analyzing darkness?

A: The context of that statement is the unhealed healer who sees the darkness as real and not as a defense against the light, an expression of the only "sin" in the Course: making the error real. As Jesus tells us in the "Song of Prayer": "Do not see error. Do not make it real" (S.2.I.3:3,4). In the section in the text to which you refer, Jesus is pointing out the limitations and mistakes of therapists and theologians who attempt to heal others without first having seen their own mistakes and brought them to the healing presence in their right minds. They therefore know nothing of that true corrective process, and as a result they wind up having their egos direct them as they attempt to heal others. If you know that the ego’s darkness (the wrong mind) is simply a defense against the Holy Spirit’s light (the right mind) and that we can choose between these states, then analyzing the darkness can be helpful in identifying the choices we make. We can then reconsider our decisions. But if we are unaware of the light and the decision-making capacity of our minds, then analyzing the darkness would be fruitless, ultimately. There may be some relief from the pain, but there would be no true healing. In that sense, you cannot find light by analyzing the darkness.

Q #326: Do you know of people who in the year of taking A Course in Miracles have achieved the experience of the holy instant?

A: We direct you to Questions #26 and #104, which address this topic. The essence of the experience is recognizing and accepting the love of Jesus as the only reality in your mind. This comes about through choosing against the ego’s way of perceiving, which always emphasizes differences and separation, and instead seeing your interests and needs as the same as everyone else’s. It is a choice made in the mind, and of course can occur at any time. In the manual for teachers, Jesus speaks about different levels of relationships, the first level being "... what seems to be very casual encounters; a ‘chance’ meeting of two apparent strangers in an elevator, a child who is not looking where he is going running into an adult ‘by chance,’ two students ‘happening’ to walk home together.... Perhaps the seeming strangers in the elevator will smile to one another, perhaps the adult will not scold the child for bumping into him; perhaps the students will become friends. Even at the level of the most casual encounter, it is possible for two people to lose sight of separate interests, if only for a moment" (M.3.2:2,5,6). The holy instant is that moment. There are many other expressions of it as well. It may occur at any time during one’s spiritual process, and one need not be a student of the Course in order to have this experience. Many, many students have done so.

Finally, even though there are 365 lessons and the Course is presented as a one-year program, it is important to take note of what Jesus tells us in the very first sentence after the last lesson: "This course is a beginning, not an end" (M.ep.1:1). The training is completed when the holy instant becomes our only experience. We no longer see any value in choosing the ego rather than the love of Jesus in our minds. We go back and forth that way until we have let go entirely of all belief in the reality of separation, and sin, guilt, and fear.

Q #327: I would appreciate some clarification of the concept of oneness and the following excerpt from the text of A Course in Miracles: "God, Who encompasses all being, created beings who have everything individually" (W.4.VII.5:1).

A: Jesus is simply using the words of our symbolic, dualistic thought system to reassure us that releasing our investment and identification with the ego will not result in any real or meaningful loss. The concept of a hologram can be helpful here, for Jesus in essence is saying that the whole is contained in every part. In reality, any experience of oneness must be beyond all concepts we may employ to attempt to describe it. It is simply an experience of total love that knows no limits, no differences, no perception of an other. That it does not encompass individuality in any real sense becomes clear in Jesus’ words later in the Course:

"Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say "God is," and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is" (W.pI.169.5).

But Jesus is also aware of our desperate desire to cling to a sense of a separate identity, and so he reassures us, "Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality" (T.16.VI.8:1). In other words, any shift towards releasing the ego is completely our choice. If it were not, we would be a victims of forces beyond our control, a situation totally antithetical to the Course’s gentle teachings on forgiveness.

See Question #17 for a related discussion on releasing our sense of individuality.

Q #328: Two questions dealing with existence:

i I was recently introduced to A Course in Miracles by a friend, but remain confused by statements, i.e., "the entire physical universe is an illusion." If true, then the Course doesn't exist, and if it doesn't exist, then no one could study the Course or be helped by it. But if it does exist, then the Course is incorrect because something in the entire physical universe is not an illusion. Does A Course in Miracles exist?

ii Since God does not know of our existence in our current state, why then does prayer to Him do anything? Further, if the Holy Spirit was created to take care of this challenge, then the existence must have been known.

A: The answer to these questions lies in understanding what the Course teaches regarding reality and illusion. Reality refers to God and the life we share with God as His one Son in Heaven. Only that is real and only that truly exists. The metaphysics of the Course tells us that: "Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh" (T.27.VIII.8:6). The "tiny mad idea" is the thought that the one Son can be separate from God. Choosing this thought results in what we are experiencing as our lives as bodies in the physical universe. The Course tells us it is an illusion, a dream: "You are at home in God, dreaming of exile but perfectly capable of awakening to reality"(T.10.I.2:1). This is the Course’s "explanation" for the seeming existence of the physical universe; this is the illusion. Yet, because the Son cannot be separate from the Father, he carries with him into the dream the memory of God in his mind. The thought of separation and the memory of God are the two parts of the split mind of the dreaming Sonship. It is very important to remember that this is all part of the dream. It is therefore not real and does not truly exist. Although we have chosen to identify with our bodies there is a part of our mind that remembers who we truly are. The Course refers to this part of the mind of the Sonship as the right mind. Since we have dissociated ourselves from our minds altogether our right mind is symbolized in the Course by Jesus or the Holy Spirit. They are our teachers in the dream and A Course in Miracles is Their curriculum that we may "Learn that even the darkest nightmare that disturbs the mind of God's sleeping Son holds no power over him. He will learn the lesson of awaking" (T.13.XI.9:5, 6). So, although A Course in Miracles does not exist in reality and is part of the illusion, its message reflects the memory of our reality and leads us to our awakening from the dream of separation.

The prayers in the Course that address God the Father are beautiful expressions of the content of the part of our minds that remembers God. They are formulated in a way that helps us to remember God, and to learn that in spite of our belief in the separation we have not truly left our Source. You are correct in saying that God does not actually hear these prayers. They are gentle reminders to ourselves in a form that comforts us, because we need to know that God has not forgotten us though we seem to have wandered off and forgotten Him.

Q #329: I'm having a difficult time understanding how marriage isn't considered a special relationship, or that you could truly have a sacred relationship with someone.

A: Most marriages start out as special relationships, but they need not remain on that level. The specialness resides in the purpose or the content, as opposed to the form; and the purpose or content comes from the teacher we have chosen in our minds -- either the ego or Jesus. That is the key. Thus you can be married to one person and spend most of your time with that one person, but if the content behind the form is rooted in the healing love of Jesus in your right mind, then you would be excluding no one from your love, or from your kindness, generosity, caring, etc. This obviously does not mean that you have to include everyone else in the world at your dinner table, or in your bedroom, or at the bank when you cash your paycheck. It is important to remember always that relationships are in the mind, and that we cannot usually discern the content just by observing the form. The relationship is made "sacred" by shifting from the ego’s purpose for the relationship to the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and your partner does not even have to be aware of this. The ego’s purpose is to reinforce separation and specialness, and the Holy Spirit’s purpose is to undo all of that.

Marriage, thus, can be an excellent classroom for learning how to relate without a sense of exclusion or specialness. The form might not change at all, but your motivation and interpretations would. You would still do all the same things, have the same intimacy and the same focus on family, or whatever, but you would ask for help to shift from the ego’s purpose to the Holy Spirit’s. You would then look with the love of Jesus next to you at all of the manipulation, the specialness, the guilt, and the victimization that are a normal part of relationships in the ego’s world. And when you look at all of that without judgment, your mind then would be freed to let the love of Jesus flow through you as the content of all your thoughts; and then these thoughts would direct all of your interactions.

Q #330: Please explain and demonstrate "Iambic Pentameter" as used in A Course in Miracles.

A: Iambic pentameter is a way of positioning the sounds of syllables in a rhythmical pattern, and is the most common of all meters in English poetry.

This poetry form groups five "iams" together for a total of ten syllables per line, putting stress on the second syllable, and every other one after that (i.e., weak STRONG weak STRONG weak STRONG weak STRONG weak STRONG). An "iam" is one of the "weak STRONG" units, and "Penta" means five (as in the Pentagon, which has five sides). It breaks into five "feet," like this: weak STRONG / weak STRONG / weak STRONG / weak STRONG / weak STRONG. A foot is one of the repeating segments that is used to build a line of poetry. In the case of iambic pentameter, one iamb = one foot.

Much of A Course in Miracles is written in unrhymed iambic pentameter, and this is called blank verse. Examples include the following:

This will / not tempt / me to / de lay / myself.
The world / I see / holds noth / ing that / I want (W.pI.128.8:3,4).

God is / but Love, / and there / fore so / am I (W.pI.rvV.10:8).

In joyous welcome is my hand outstretched to every brother who would join with me in reaching past temptation, and who looks with fixed determination toward the light that shines beyond in perfect constancy (T.31.8.11).

In joy / ous wel / come is / my hand / out stretched
to ev / ery broth / er who / would join / with me
in reach / ing past / temp ta / tion, and / who looks
with fixed / de ter / min a / tion toward / the light
that shines / be yond / in per / fect con / stan cy.