Weekly Questions and Answers, 02/18/2004

This week's questions/topics:

Q #393: How can I heal my medical condition using the principles of the Course?
Q #394: Is meditation essential to success with the Course?
Q #395: Is Christ some kind of "corporate entity" consisting of many beings?.
Q #396: Am I wrong to want to tell everyone else about the Course?

Q #397: Is it possible that humanity is now on the "home stretch" to salvation?

Chronological List of All Questions.

Interactive Index of all topics

Q #393: I have a serious medical condition in which the blood in my legs will not flow upward to my heart properly, which doctors say will just progressively get worse. A Course in Miracles says my fear, guilt and attack are causing the problem. I need to heal my legs (mind) soon because as they get worse, my fear is increasing, to intense levels that I have not experienced before in my life. As my fear increases, my legs get still worse. I need to break this vicious cycle soon or it is sure to end in death. If I die or go mad, how can I learn the Course, be healed and find peace?

Text 556, 12, 5 "This world is an attempt to prove your innocence while cherishing attack. Its failure lies in that you still feel guilty, though without understanding why." I am not even aware of feeling guilty. Is it important for me to understand why I still feel guilty? If so, how can I find that understanding so that my mind and body will be healed? Or is all of this unnecessary? Can I just give it all to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to heal my mind and body? If so, how can I do this? I have tried many times to give Him the "little willingness" that he asks. My legs continue to get worse. One time, for a short while, I was able to see myself as not being a body. A wonderful feeling seemed to come over my legs. They seemed to be healed for about two hours (or at least pain free). Was this a holy instant? Or was this just an illusion of mine?

Text 557,14,1 "The miracle is possible when cause and consequence are brought together, not kept separate. The healing of effect without the cause can merely shift effects to other forms. And this is not release." Does this mean I must be aware of the cause before I can bring it together with the consequence? I meditate deeply on this, but am unable to find the cause so that my mind and body will be healed. Or is this all the role of the Holy Spirit? If so, my efforts at giving Him the little willingness He asks for seem to have been unsuccessful. How do I proceed? Another thing that really concerns me is that I am unable to hide my fear from my wife. This is causing her to become afraid as well and she is starting to experience physical symptoms of her own. How can I stop this fear from spreading out like this in our "world of illusions"?

A: First of all, you may want to be sure that you are doing everything you possibly can medically for your condition. Are you satisfied with all the medical opinions you have received and are you convinced that there are no other medical interventions, traditional or alternative, that can help arrest or reverse the deterioration? There is nothing in the Course that would preclude seeking answers in the world, if that can help ease your fear (T.2.IV.4:5,6,7). In addition, you and your wife may wish to seek some counseling or therapy to help you both address your fears over your condition.

The goal of the Course is not to help us change anything external in the world or in our bodies, although changes may occur as a result of practicing its principles. Would you be satisfied with an outcome in which you are at peace, regardless of what seems to be happening to your legs and your body? This is the invitation that Jesus is extending to all of us through his Course. It may not be what we think we want, for we are still focused on the world of form and believe that our peace depends on controlling conditions and situations that seem to be causing us pain and fear. Jesus views our circumstances differently, and joining with him in our minds will allow us eventually to see things the way he does.

We all share the same underlying guilt that is the cause of all our symptoms and all our fears. It is not a specific guilt over a specific action or inaction in this lifetime, but rather a self-accusation that is at the core of our being -- that we exist as separate individuals because we seized our life and independence from God, a vicious, deadly attack on Him. Very few are in touch with the guilt over this mad idea, which the Course assures is nothing more than an illusory self-deception to keep the separation real in our minds. Yet that is what we unconsciously believe and keep choosing to believe.

We in fact made the world and our bodies with all their seeming problems to keep that guilt buried in our minds. So now it seems that things happen to us over which we have no control and we no longer see all of our pain as coming from a choice to see ourselves as separate from the Love that is our Source. Conditions in our bodies seem to be the cause of our pain and fear. Everything seems very serious to us because it is a symbol of what we unconsciously believe God is now going to do to us for our attack on Him -- punish us by making us suffer before He finally seizes back the life we stole from Him, not leaving us a leg to stand on.

The real cause -- the guilt over separation -- would remain forever buried in our minds if we didn’t have the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Not that we simply give Him our pain and fear and He takes it away. For that would undermine the power of our mind -- which has chosen the pain and guilt in the first place -- to make a different choice, for peace, once we remember that the choice is ours (T.2.VII.1). The Holy Spirit turns the tables on the ego by teaching us how to use what we have made as a cover for our guilt -- the physical symptoms -- as a means to recognize the guilt, at least indirectly. With the help that Jesus or the Holy Spirit offer us, we can begin to question the truth of our underlying belief about ourselves that says we deserve to suffer for our sinfulness. As our relationship with Jesus or the Holy Spirit develops over time, as we practice turning to them for their interpretation of our situation once we recognize we have been listening to the ego’s, we will find that we are allowing ourselves more of the time to experience the love that has always been there within us but that has been covered over by the guilt and the fear.

Concern with the body will also begin to recede. Symptoms may or may not shift, but in those moments when we are joined with Jesus’ love, the physical symptoms will not matter. It is certainly possible that, in your experience of no pain in your legs when you were open to the idea that you are not a body, you allowed yourself to join with Jesus’ love and experience a holy instant. What is helpful about that experience is that it demonstrates that nothing needs to change but the beliefs in your mind. Pain returns when we become afraid of love, but as we learn that it is not a sin to be afraid of love, we will recognize that we do not need to punish ourselves for believing once again that we have separated from love.

Now the temptation will be strong to use the status of the condition in your legs as a measure of your success or failure in applying the Course’s principles of forgiveness and joining with Jesus, but this is simply an ego trap to bring your focus back to the world of form rather than the choice in your mind for peace. The experience of peace is the only criterion you want to employ (T.14.XI).

A few additional points of clarification: Rest assured that the death of the body has no effect on our learning the Course, but only seems to be a limiting factor while we still identify ourselves with the body. It is the mind that learns the lessons of the Holy Spirit and the mind does not depend on the body’s existence to retain those lessons. In truth, the body is contained in the mind and not the other way around, as we have fooled ourselves into believing. This will become clearer over time as you practice forgiveness.

The passage on the miracle that you ask about means that we want our focus to be on the cause (the guilt in the mind) rather than on the consequence (the symptom in the body). For if our goal is only the healing of the physical symptom rather than the real problem in the mind, even if we find a way to eliminate the physical symptom, it will simply be replaced by another symptom if we have done nothing about healing the guilt over the separation in the mind. And, as Jesus notes a little later in the text, "The miracle is useless if you learn but that the body can be healed, for this is not the lesson it was sent to teach. The lesson is the mind was sick that thought the body could be sick; projecting out its guilt caused nothing, and had no effects" (T.28.II.11:6,7). Now this is not intended to make us feel guilty if we still want the body to be healed -- a natural desire while we remain so identified with it -- but only to remind us that so much more is ours than what we are asking for (T.15.III.1,2).

Q #394: We learn to know ourselves in A Course in Miracles. Gnostic gospels teach the same. I am practicing the lessons, but is this enough to find my true self? For example, is meditation necessary to hear the true Voice.? Or will I get there anyway? I don’t understand.

A: Although mediation is not essential to the practice of the Course it does encourage us to have quiet time in which to reflect, practice specific exercises of the Workbook, to become mindful, or remember the lesson of the day. Long periods of meditation are not needed: "Nor…[are] long periods of meditation aimed at detachment from the body necessary" (T.18VII.4:9). As long as meditation does not become an end in itself, or a substitute for applying the Course teachings to all relationships and situations in your life, it may be a helpful exercise for you. For clarity regarding what is required, it may be helpful to reread the instructions in the Introduction to the Workbook. Basically, the only requirement is that we do what the lessons ask.

The goal of the Course is the healing of our minds of the thought of separation. The process for achieving this is forgiving every thought and belief we hold that reinforces the thought of separation. They are forgiven by first becoming aware of them, and then being willing to give them to the Holy Spirit (the part of our minds that remembers God) so they can be transformed. Remember, the Course is about mind training: "It is the purpose of this workbook to train your mind to think along the lines the text sets forth"(W.in.1:4). We are being asked to become mindful of our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs throughout the day. It is through awareness, forgiveness, and transformation of these thoughts and beliefs that we will find ourselves. The Course curriculum is enough for us to find our true selves and to hear the Voice for God. It is that Voice we hear each time we are willing to question the ego’s thought system with which we have identified, with willingness to let it go. We hear the Voice each time we practice a lesson, or apply a teaching, as best we can.

Q #395: "God, Who encompasses all being, created beings who have everything individually, but who want to share it to increase their joy. Nothing real can be increased except by sharing (T.4.VII.5:1,2). Does this mean that the Christ is actually a corporate being consisting of individual entities who share all their thoughts? The reason I pose this question is that the concept of sharing seems to be inherently dualistic, while A Course in Miracles is based on non-dualistic metaphysics. What am I missing?

A: This passage came early in the dictation of the Course, and Jesus was using words that reflect the Oneness of Heaven but come in a form that Helen and Bill, as well as all of us, might more easily be able to understand and accept. It is a correction for the ego’s foundational belief in separate interests. Any concept as we usually use it, including sharing, extending and creating, will necessarily have a dualistic meaning, made as it was by a dualistic mind. But Jesus uses these words and gives them a different meaning from the ego’s, to help our limited minds begin to grasp what cannot truly be grasped and to begin to undo our faulty beliefs about where joy and happiness lie. So, despite the use of words that suggest multiple entities and individuality, we need to recognize Jesus’ intent here, and consider these words in the context of passages that come later in the Course that make it clear that the nature of God and Heaven is only perfect Oneness (e.g., T.25.I.5; W.pI.132.12:3,4; W.pI.169.5,6).

See also Questions #72 and #85 for further discussion of the Course’s use of dualistic language.

Q #396: I understand that attacking others is a projection of the guilt in myself, but what is the underlying reason for my obsessively wanting to help others in the sense of telling them about the thought system of A Course in Miracles I know it could change their whole life, like it did mine.

A: This tendency is all too common, but understandable, given the fact that so many of us feel that the Course "rescued" us in some way or other. But a red flag should go up every time we feel an obsessive need to introduce the Course into someone else’s life, or to spread it around our floundering, failing world. There are several points to consider when such a need develops.

(1) Whenever we feel a need to help others, we have always identified with the ego. The Holy Spirit can certainly help others through you, but in that case, you would not experience yourself as the one who is helping, and you would have absolutely no investment in the outcome. This is what Jesus means in saying that the extension of holiness and the miracle is not up to us (T.16.II.1; T.27.V.1).

(2) Deeply embedded in our unhealed minds is the belief that we are in competition with God, and therefore there would always be a need to prove that we can do at least as well as He, if not better. Consequently we would tend to think that we know what is best for ourselves and others, and so we thrust ourselves, armed with A Course in Miracles, into other peoples’ lives, convinced that we know what would help them, and equally convinced that our motives are pure and holy. We somehow have lost sight of the first 25 lessons in the workbook, which help us undo such faulty and burdensome perceptions. Our inability to know what is best is further elaborated on in the manual in the section "How Is Judgment Relinquished?" (M.10.3,4).

(3) Also deeply embedded in our minds is the desperate need to validate our belief that separation and duality are real -- that there is indeed a world in need of saving. A very effective way of reinforcing the belief in separation is to see people as fragile, deprived, vulnerable, helpless, victimized, and dependent on some outside source to help them. If you perceive that you have just the thing they need, then you have seen yourself as separate -- you have something they do not have. And not far behind that is the thought that someone or something is responsible for the plight of these poor innocent people: blame, the ego’s favorite means of maintaining conflict and banishing peace.

(4) If you perceive yourself and others who seem to be struggling as sharing the same ego beliefs as well as the same right-minded beliefs, you would not charge in to fix them, because as a good Course in Miracles student you would know that accepting the Atonement for yourself is your only responsibility (T.2.V.5:1), which you would be practicing by not seeing your interests as separate from theirs. If you charge in anyway, then you have become frightened of the implications of undoing the separation and have switched to your wrong mind, which automatically sees separate interests. When you are in your right mind, you would empathize with the strength of Christ in them, and you would respect the power of their minds to decide whether to listen to the ego or the Holy Spirit, and in so doing you would be reinforcing in yourself, the power of your own mind. In that holy instant, you would be guided to do something, or to do nothing; but it would not be coming from you as an individual self perceiving other individual selves.

Q #397: My question relates to a sense I have that we have reached a critical mass and are on the rush side of salvation. Though we may have had millions of years to go, from the contribution of A Course in Miracles alone, I think of all the people, since the book was published, who have done the lessons, which, if I remember correctly, can save a thousand years.

I think maybe we are much further than we might think because of this theory: For a single act of malice (which we can assume was initiated by a thought of separation) there are hundreds of simple acts (and thoughts) of kindness, such as smiles and opening of doors and so forth. In order to keep the illusory world alive, our egos feed on stories, whether they are reported in the press or shared at home or in the workplace as gossip, which amplify the one act of malice. Almost everyone who hears of the negative story responds with a separating thought, thus amplifying the negativity. If we have, in fact, awakened appreciably, might this explain why the press has grown in its coverage and lunacy? How simple salvation might be now. How helpful to simply abstain from gossip, personal and press. What do you think?

A: An interesting idea, but there are some assumptions you are making, which you may wish to consider. For one, you may be overestimating the ratio of acts and thoughts of kindness to malicious acts. Every thought of irritation, frustration, annoyance, exasperation, etc., no matter how trivial and seemingly neutralized by covering it over with a smile and a nice word or two, shares the same content as the act of malice you mention that gets all the air time. And how many of those "minor" ego attacks do we each experience in a day, if we are honest with ourselves? Remember, there is no hierarchy of illusions -- all are equal in their power to deprive us of our peace.

In addition, it is a common belief -- but not the Course’s position -- that a major obstacle to the experience of peace is any expression of negativity or attack thoughts, by oneself or by anyone else. And therefore anything that perpetuates the awareness of the negativity, such as the media or personal gossip, is contributing to and magnifying the problem. But the negativity is not simply generated by hearing or repeating gossip or reacting to reported acts of violence in the news. These are only outpicturings of the negativity buried in the mind that has been there all along and remains there until a deliberate choice is made against the ego thought system and for the Holy Spirit. That is the real problem. As such, if looked at with the Holy Spirit, these expressions of negativity and our reactions to them can actually serve a helpful purpose in healing the mind.

The problem is never the specific expression but its purpose. And expressions of negativity reflect the desire to project the guilt within our minds onto someone else. What needs to be changed are not the external expressions of negativity but the inner decision to keep one’s own guilt real but hidden by projecting it on to others. Stopping the external expression of attack, or avoiding exposing oneself to others’ expressions of negativity, will accomplish nothing if the inner guilt that motivates the projection is not acknowledged and released to the Holy Spirit. Changing the external form without recognizing what is behind it only pushes the guilt deeper into the unconscious, where it continues to have unconscious effects, perhaps in the form then of illness or extreme rage when it is finally projected, as it must be so long as it is denied. The negativity exists in the mind and the external event merely elicits it out from under the veils of denial. It may be helpful to remember that a healed mind has no reaction to the so-called negativity of the world, whatever form it may take, because it has no guilt within that it needs to project.

Now there is certainly nothing wrong with abstaining from gossip, especially once we understand the hateful purpose it serves. For gossip reinforces the ego’s hidden reservoir of guilt. But again, merely curbing the activity without a corresponding inner shift that chooses against the ego, which always looks to see the guilt outside the mind in others, does not undo the guilt that lies buried there. If I find myself in judgment of the media or the gossiper, I have accepted the same ego purpose.

And finally, your opening comments suggest there is a kind of momentum that builds as more and more people embrace the Course and practice forgiveness. There can be a kind of wishful thinking behind this idea, almost as if I will not have to make the choice, moment by moment, against my ego and for the Holy Spirit, because the collective mind is going to bring me and everyone else along in the inevitable flood of forgiveness. And the special danger here is that we will underestimate the wiliness and the tenacity of the ego and overlook the subtle ways in which it continues to keep itself alive through reinforcing specialness and separation, albeit in seemingly more acceptable "spiritual" forms. My only responsibility, as the Course reminds us repeatedly, is to accept the Atonement for myself. So long as the guilt over separation remains real in my own mind, that is the only thing I need be concerned about. For, as Jesus reminds us, only one teacher of God -- myself -- is needed to save the world (M.12).