Weekly Questions and Answers, 12/10/2003

This week's questions/topics:

Q #331: Can you comment on Krishnamurti's ideas about fear and authority?.
Q #332: What are the "anti-karma" passages in the Course?
Q #333: How does the Course view competition ?
Q #334: How should one go about forgiving Jesus ?
Q #335: What is the best way to remember, and deal with, unkind or attacking thoughts?
Q #336: How should I view apparent intervention by the Holy Spirit if I know in fact He does not intervene?

Look up a specific question by date or question no.

Q #331: Krishnamurti, in one of his books, says that all fear comes to an end the instant all psychological authority including our own ends in the mind. With no authority how can there be fear? He also mentions that all fear comes to an end the instant you realize you are the author of it. He said this doesn't even take a day. Maybe only ten minutes to see it clearly. Can you comment on the above ideas? Lastly, if there are no specialness thoughts why do we have to give them up? Doesn't that reinforce the ego by making it real?

A: Krishnamurti and A Course in Miracles are not saying anything very much different from each other. The Course simply adds a mythology of the ego to illustrate the origins of the "dynamics" of fear. With the belief in separation, the Course says we have made the idea of a separate superior judgmental authority -- the ego god, which is really nothing more than a projection of our own desire to seize authority/authorship from God our Source (T.3.VI.7,8) -- very real in our minds. And we remain at odds with this authority so long as we seek to maintain our own individual existence and so to see this controlling authority as separate from ourselves. Fear then is inevitable, for the illusory, fragmentary self we believe we are must seem very vulnerable if we are to deny our role in first seizing the authority for ourselves. We project responsibility for the attack outside ourselves in order to assuage our guilt.

The only real Authority is the wholly benign God of Love in Whom we find our being beyond any concepts of separation and individuality. And fear is impossible in this perfect state of Oneness in which there can be nothing apart from Self to fear. And so, in any moment when we release our belief in separate interests and conflicting authority -- our own and anyone else’s -- and we see our own role in making up the conflict in the first place, all fear must simply vanish. This need not take time, since nothing except our own thinking needs to shift. It is only our own resistance to love, which is how we maintain our separate self, that will make the release from fear seem difficult and likely to take a long time.

As for specialness thoughts, you are right, they are not real and they are not the problem. It is our desire for and belief in specialness, and not the thoughts themselves, that must be released, but not by fighting or resisting. We are only ever asked to look at what we have made real in our own minds and acknowledge the consequences of that illusory choice to our peace of mind. When we no longer want specialness and what it brings, the thoughts will simply dissipate "into the nothingness from which [they] came" (M.13.1:2).

Q #332: A few months ago I remember reading a passage in A Course in Miracles that I'd love to find again. At the time, I labeled it the "anti-karma clause," because it seemed to indicate when one forgives/accepts atonement, the actual event is remembered differently -- it is as if the perceptual past is changed in memory for all involved. I know I'm not explaining this well. Maybe you have some suggestions.

A: Two lovely passages come immediately to mind, one of which perhaps is the one you are looking to rediscover. Both communicate the Course’s beautiful teaching that forgiveness lifts us up outside of time and so can release us from all the seeming effects of the time-bound ego. If the Course taught otherwise -- that the undoing of the ego must necessarily take time, as the idea of karma entails -- then the ego would have to be real and the separation from God would have had to happen. But the fundamental premise, upon which the Course’s central practice of forgiveness rests, which is the statement of the Atonement principle, is that the separation never happened in reality. So, in truth, nothing but illusions need to be undone.

And so here they are, in the order in which they appear in the text:

"How can you who are so holy suffer? All your past except its beauty is gone, and nothing is left but a blessing. I have saved all your kindnesses and every loving thought you ever had. I have purified them of the errors that hid their light, and kept them for you in their own perfect radiance. They are beyond destruction and beyond guilt. They came from the Holy Spirit within you, and we know what God creates is eternal" (T.5.IV.8:1,2,3,4,5,6).

"There is no escape from fear in the ego's use of time. For time, according to its teaching, is nothing but a teaching device for compounding guilt until it becomes all-encompassing, demanding vengeance forever.

The Holy Spirit would undo all of this now. Fear is not of the present, but only of the past and future, which do not exist. There is no fear in the present when each instant stands clear and separated from the past, without its shadow reaching out into the future. Each instant is a clean, untarnished birth, in which the Son of God emerges from the past into the present. And the present extends forever. It is so beautiful and so clean and free of guilt that nothing but happiness is there. No darkness is remembered, and immortality and joy are now.

This lesson takes no time. For what is time without a past and future? It has taken time to misguide you so completely, but it takes no time at all to be what you are. Begin to practice the Holy Spirit's use of time as a teaching aid to happiness and peace. Take this very instant, now, and think of it as all there is of time. Nothing can reach you here out of the past, and it is here that you are completely absolved, completely free and wholly without condemnation. From this holy instant wherein holiness was born again you will go forth in time without fear, and with no sense of change with time" (T.15.I.7:6,7; 8; 9).

Q #333: How does A Course in Miracles view competition, as in sports, work, speaking (Toastmasters) etc., and how do I apply that view to this dreamlife?

A: Question #203 discussed the topic of competition. Competition permeates every aspect of our lives in this world because that is the ego’s DNA, you might say. "The ego literally lives by comparisons" (T.4.II.7:1). Its very existence is rooted in the competition for ultimate authority over life, and it senses itself always in constant competition with a rival force that is determined to defeat it. As fragments of the ego, we thus share in those properties. The world that emerged from the ego is inherently a world of competition, comparison, and conquest (M.8.1). It is fairly common to hear people say that they thrive on competition and would find life pretty boring without it. As "offspring" of the ego, how could it be otherwise, unless we are aware of "another way"?

Purpose is one of the most important concepts in the Course. Our lives can serve either the purpose of the ego or the purpose of the Holy Spirit. There are no other choices for us to make. If we choose to share the Holy Spirit’s perception of ourselves and everyone else, we will be focused on seeing our interests and needs as the same as everyone else’s. That would allow us to carry out our roles conscientiously and competently -- as an athlete, business person, speaker, etc. -- but without ego-based motivations. We thus can learn how to compete without being vicious or cruel or intent solely on destroying the other person, team, or company. The world is set up so that one team/business wins and the other loses, but that does not have to be our focus or motivation, or the reason for our happiness or unhappiness.

We can always ask Jesus for help to identify how we support the ego’s thought system of divisiveness and kill-or-be-killed. We can become aware of how we delight in watching another individual, team, or company go down to defeat, for example. Then we can bring those thoughts and feelings to the love of Jesus in our minds, understand where they come from, and then choose to follow him instead of the ego. We can then go back into the same situation, but with a new motivation.

It is interesting to note that our effectiveness in our roles often is enhanced when we let go of the ego’s thirst for victory at the cost of another’s defeat. The guilt-attack cycle that is the inevitable consequence of following the ego’s kill-or-be-killed approach is a tremendous mental and emotional burden that affects all of our perceptions and judgments. Objectivity is impossible when our minds are caught up in those dynamics. When we are free of that burden, we often function more effectively. Thus you can be skillful and mentally keen in a business deal or on a basketball court, for instance, while at the same time the intent in your mind is recognizing the meaninglessness of all that seems to separate you from the person on the other side of the desk or the other team. The Holy Spirit can use all of our skills -- made originally to act out the ego thought system -- to teach us about the oneness we share with each other.

The following teaching of Jesus can be helpful in redirecting our motivation before we engage in activities that, in form, are competitive.

I said before that the ego’s friend is not part of you, because the ego perceives itself at war and therefore in need of allies. You who are not at war must look for brothers and recognize all whom you see as brothers, because only equals are at peace. Because God’s equal Sons have everything, they cannot compete. Yet if they perceive any of their brothers as anything other than their perfect equals, the idea of competition has entered their minds. Do not underestimate your need to be vigilant against this idea, because all your conflicts come from it. It is the belief that conflicting interests are possible, and therefore you have accepted the impossible as true. Is that different from saying you perceive yourself as unreal? (T.7.III.4)

Q #334: One the most common questions students of A Course in Miracles ask is about forgiving Jesus. For many of us it’s a lifetime challenge to forgive ourselves for every dark thought that, still uncovered, rules our mind. So, how would you best encourage us to forgive Jesus?

A: We must clarify first of all that your question implies that the Course asks us to forgive the negative thoughts we have, i.e., "dark thoughts," as opposed to other "good thoughts." This would mean that we have some unacceptable thoughts that are "sinful" and need to be forgiven in the traditional sense. This is not the meaning the Course gives to forgiveness. What the Course asks us to do is to uncover all our "dark thoughts," meaning any thought that has the one thought of separation as its source. This basically means any ego thought about anything. These thoughts have our specialness at their root -- the same specialness that we bring to our relationship with Jesus, and it is this that needs to be forgiven, not because it is a sin, but because it makes the separation real. The specific form the specialness takes may vary, but in the end it is always based on the belief that Jesus (and everyone else, for that matter) is separate from us, and in Jesus’ case, he is not only separate but "better" than us.

Just as in all our relationships, our relationship with Jesus is marked by the dynamics that inevitably follow our choice to identify with the ego thought system. One of these is the belief that for someone to gain someone else must lose: "All choices in the world depend on this; you choose between your brother (including Jesus) and yourself, and you will gain as much as he will lose, and what you lose is what is given him" (T.31.IV.8:4). This is referred to as the scarcity principle. Some very common thoughts about Jesus are based on this principle, i.e., if Jesus has something we don’t have, such as holiness, Atonement, etc., it must be because he stole it from us, and we hate him for it. This often takes the form of believing that Jesus has a special place of privilege in the Sonship, and so God must love him more than He loves the rest of us. What he has can never be ours. Most of us share this believe, yet it is in direct opposition to what Jesus is teaching us in the Course: "There is nothing about me that you cannot attain. I have nothing that does not come from God. The difference between us now is that I have nothing else" (T.1.II.3:10,11,12). Our forgiveness of Jesus lies in learning this, as does the goal of the Course. It is not that we lack anything that he has, it is that we have given ourselves the burden of all our thoughts and judgments against him, which also means against ourselves. We are asked to learn that we, with Jesus, are the innocent Son of the Father. Our practice of forgiving Jesus then, begins with the uncovering of all the hidden thoughts and beliefs we have that separate us from him, making him and us special. This is how we do what he asks: "Forgive me your illusions, and release me from punishment for what I have not done" (T.19.IV.B.8:1). Our thoughts and beliefs about him are our illusions, made up for the purpose of making the separation real and proving we are right about who we are, and God is wrong. What Jesus did not do is make himself separate from us, nor does he share our mistaken belief about ourselves. He is forgiven, therefore, as we learn the truth about ourselves.

 Q #335: When I have unkind and attacking thoughts and do not immediately catch them, is it necessary that I recall those thoughts in detail before I can release them to the Holy Spirit or Jesus to cleanse and reinterpret them for me? Most of the time, I realize only afterwards that my thoughts were unkind and I cannot remember the specific thoughts anymore. So I tell the Holy Spirit or Jesus that those thoughts reflect a goal that prevents me from accepting my true function. This approach has given me a tool that I can generalize to almost all the selfish, ego-based thoughts I have most of the time. They all seem to pass rapidly by and sometimes I just put them all in one bunch and offer them. Can you help me here?

A: In the end, it does not really matter what specific form our attack thoughts take. It is their purpose, or goal, that we are concerned about, and that purpose is always to reinforce our own guilt and sense of separation. And so it is the purpose in our mind and not the particular thoughts and words and actions we’ve employed for that purpose that we want to be in touch with.

However, before we can reach that level of generalization of our lessons, it is important that we not skip over any of the specific steps that lead us to the recognition of the sameness of all of our ego judgments. And so you would want to ask yourself as honestly as you can whether your difficulty in remembering the specifics may be the result of a sense of fear and guilt about those thoughts that is saying to you, "Don’t look! These judgments and attack thoughts are too awful to look at. Just accept that you’ve sinned and then get rid of it by offering the heavy burden to Jesus or the Holy Spirit." This is not quite what Jesus is asking us to do (T.13.III.1:1,2)! But only you can answer for yourself whether it is your own fear that is keeping the specific thoughts out of your awareness.

Now if this is in fact the case, you don’t want to make a big deal about it. So you’re afraid, but who isn’t? All you want to do then is to begin to develop a willingness to look at your ego and perhaps at first begin to remember how it has trapped you in its shenanigans in your recent past. And over time, with practice, you will learn to recognize your choice for the ego while you’re in the middle of it. The value of this is that you will then know you have a different choice in the moment when you’ve chosen to identify with your ego and you won’t have to prolong the suffering and pain that accompanies identifying with your ego. So don’t try to force anything or make yourself remember, but simply offer that little willingness to look at your ego together with Jesus or the Holy Spirit (T.12.II.10) so that you can see its nothingness.

Q #336: A Course in Miracles asks us to not bring truth to illusion, not to ask the Holy Spirit to do things for us in the world. In one of Ken's tape on judgment he says that it may be our experience that the Holy Spirit seems to do things for us in the world but it is not the reality. He gives the analogy that in our experience the sun sets and rises, whereas the reality is that the earth spins on its axis and rotates around the sun. Even though it seems as though the Holy Spirit does things for us in the world what is the reality of that experience? What is the correct view of seeing the situation when, for example, improvement in the world manifests after asking/praying to the Holy Spirit?

A: A change in the external situation could be the result of a decision in your mind not to punish yourself any more -- meaning that a dominant belief in the ego part of your mind is that you do not deserve to be happy because of your "sin" against God. Therefore, that belief could be expressed in form as suffering, victimization, misfortune, etc. in your personal world. But as you bring your guilt and your ego thoughts to the healing love of Jesus in your right mind, the guilt disappears, and then you would no longer seek to hurt yourself. Thus the external situation would seem to have changed, but your decision against the ego was the real change. Praying to the Holy Spirit could be the form you chose to shift from wrong-minded thinking to right-minded thinking. This applies both on the individual level as well as the collective level. So it is not as if the Holy Spirit changes things in the world. The Holy Spirit is not an agent who acts in the world in response to the requests made of Him, even though the language in the Course suggests that at times. A major part of the mind-training of the Course involves teaching us not to confuse symbol with source. It is hard for us to think of everything as symbols, because we have identified with the ego’s way of perceiving, which is to deny that there is only mind and its contents, and that "ideas leave not their source."

It is helpful to remember a few points when thinking about this topic: Our minds are very powerful; the body does only what the mind directs it to (the body is not autonomous); and we cannot affect another person’s mind or condition without there being mutual consent. If there is one principle that Jesus stresses again and again, it is the power of our minds to decide. The final section in the text, as you know, is "Choose Once Again" (T.31.VIII). And very early in the text he tells us that the purpose of his course is to teach us that our minds are very powerful and that we are responsible for our thoughts and feelings: "The correction of fear is your responsibility. When you ask for release from fear, you are implying it is not.…You may still complain about fear, but you nevertheless persist in making yourself fearful. I have already indicated that you cannot ask me to release you from fear. I know it does not exist, but you do not. If I intervened between your thoughts and their results, I would be tampering with a basic law of cause and effect; the most fundamental law there is. I would hardly help you if I depreciated the power of your own thinking. This would be in direct opposition to the purpose of this course" (T.2.VI.4:1,2; VII.1:1,2,3,4,5,6). Thus our work with the Course should be aimed at restoring to our awareness the power of our minds to choose, and to perceive others as having that same power. The cause of all of our problems (the effect) is that one wrong choice we made in our minds to accept the ego thought system as the truth instead of thought system of the Holy Spirit. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are present within our minds to help us get back to that decision-making level in our minds, which is why Jesus tells us that "this is a course in cause and not in effect" (T.21.VII.7:8), and "Seek not to change the world; but choose to change your mind about the world" (T.21.in.1:7).