Weekly Questions and Answers, 04/28/2004

This week's questions/topics:

Q #453: Clarification of "It was not His will that you be crucified"?
Q #454: Are there any Course materials suitable for my children?.
Q #455: How can one view political and cultural divisions from a Course perspective?.
Q #456  If we are all one, and Jesus knew this, how could he be aware of separateness ?

Q #457: I think I understand the Course but why is my life a financial mess ?
Q #458: Is the "afterlife" an ego-concept?
Q #459: Is it meaningful to speculate about what God does or doesn't know?

Chronological List of All Questions.
Interactive Index of all topics

Q #453: "Forgive your Father it was not His Will that you be crucified" (T.24.III.8:13) to me is one of the most important statements in A Course in Miracles. It contains the key to our release, yet it shows the main reason for our resistance to this release. Your comments on this statement would be most welcome.

A: Well said! Leading up to this grand conclusion, Jesus says, "Forgive the great Creator of the universe, the Source of life…for your illusions of your specialness. Here is the hell you chose to be your home. He chose not this for you. Ask not He enter this.…Forgive the Holy One the specialness He could not give, and that you made instead" (T.24.III.6:1,2,3,4,7). The ego has tried, from the very beginning, to implicate God in the horrors and suffering in the world, and in our personal lives. How wonderful it would be, for the ego, if God were held to be ultimately responsible for everything, which of course is exactly what is proclaimed in the Bible and the religions and philosophies based on the Bible.

Here in A Course in Miracles, and specifically in the passage you cite, Jesus is correcting that eons-old belief. God has nothing to do with the vicious world of specialness and crucifixion. He could not. Love can only love. That is why we have to forgive God; He is not part of our insanity, despite our desperately wanting Him to be.

Therefore, if crucifixion is in our lives, we are the ones who put it there, and want it there. That is a bitter pill to swallow for most of us, and we would resist it with all our might, because we would then have to admit that we have been wrong about every single thing we have ever thought. Our lives -- our thoughts and emotions -- are turned upside down, and we break out in a cold sweat in the face of such an awesome accusation. To hold others -- ultimately God -- responsible for our perceptions of crucifixion thus protects us from the deeply buried belief that we are the ones who crucified infinite love so that our own need for specialness could be satisfied. Jesus is exposing this deception, while assuring us that looking with him at this deep, dark secret is the only way we will ever be liberated permanently from all the pain and death that mark our lives in this world. There is nothing that stands in the way of this freedom other than our own choice to be right rather than happy. And that is not sinful -- just silly.

Q #454: I would like to help my family gain inner peace. I discuss what I can with my wife and kids (ages 9 and 11), and I am much more at peace with God since I began the Course. I know that we have no separate selves, and I want to help my family regain the knowledge I have found through A Course in Miracles. Are there any books or tapes that I can use with my boys?

A: We have addressed other questions along these lines: #179 and #202.

The Course is best taught by example. If you are centered in the love of Jesus, your boys would sense something about you that would help them learn forgiveness without ever realizing what was happening. Your attitude towards them -- when the love of Jesus is doing the parenting, not your ego -- would give them the only thing they truly need, which is to know that they are loved and forgiven, and that their mistakes have had no effect on your love for them, and never could. Your inner peace would be the teacher, and they would recognize it, even as you maintain your authority as their father. From that they would be learning how to interact with their friends and with each other. Perhaps later on, when they begin to question on a deeper level, you can introduce some of the concepts of the Course to them. But their primary goal at that young age -- and for many year to come -- is to learn how to successfully function in the world as egos. They need your loving help to grow to be strong, confident individuals, who can get along in the world and are enthusiastically looking forward to careers in the world. It would not be helpful at all for them to be told that the world and they themselves are illusions and were made to attack God. Most adults can’t handle that!

Q #455: My country is currently on the path of honouring its Treaty between the indigenous people and the English and is attempting to correct its "wrong-doings." They have been going about this by handing back land, by way of monetary funds and the expectation that every organization acknowledge the Treaty in their workplace. This is dividing our country (separatism). I work in the social service arena and one third of my colleagues are Maori. We are constantly being reminded that this is "their land" and if we are finding it difficult to adjust to change, how must it have felt for them all those years ago. Our agency is putting a huge amount of time and money into fostering this separatism as is the rest of the Country. How can one view this from a micro to a macro level, according to A Course in Miracles?

A: How you perceive this situation in terms of the content in your mind is the key to getting past your dilemma. As soon as you catch yourself perceiving in "we-they" terms, you know you have chosen the ego thought system; the same is true if you perceive victimization. Ego solutions always wind up with separation or division, both in form and content. Its version of justice is that someone must win and someone must lose.

If, in your mind, you can rise above the battleground and perceive the situation from a right- minded perspective, the differences you perceive in form would not affect your inner conviction that we are all the same as God’s Son (the content). "Nothing so blinding as perception of form" (T.22.III.6:7). Both Maoris and English share the same interests; they share the same wrong-minded thinking and the same right-minded thinking, as well as the capacity to choose between the two. You can keep yourself from drifting away from this by concentrating as much as you can on purpose, as A Course in Miracles teaches us to ask: "What is it for?" (T.17.VI.2:2) This will simplify your approach to all of your interactions during the day. You can ask yourself frequently what you want to come of all this: to continue to see conflict, division, and winners and losers; or to see a common sharing beyond the outward appearance of differences. "The principle that justice means no one can lose is crucial to this course. For miracles depend on justice. Not as it is seen through this world’s eyes, but as God knows it and as knowledge is reflected in the sight the Holy Spirit gives.…Everyone is equally entitled to His [the Holy Spirit’s] gift of healing and deliverance and peace" (T.25.IX.5:4,5,6; 7:4).

This requires some rather hard work -- internally -- because we are so accustomed to thinking and perceiving in terms of one-or-the-other, winners and losers. One group is up, the other is down; then it gets reversed. But there is still separation. There is no way around this unless we ask for help from the source in our minds that is beyond all perception of separation, and where justice has been returned to love (T.25.VIII).

Q #456: This is a three part question:

i. My understanding of the teachings of A Course in Miracles is that eventually we realize we are all one spirit. Do we then lose our awareness or memory of the experiences we had as individuals? Jesus figured out the truth while here on earth, yet seems to interact with those of us still experiencing the dream of individuality as the individual Jesus. So will the rest of us, after we realize the truth, still retain our individual selves? I realize I am asking this question as someone who likes my "self" and the other selves I interact with, i.e., family and friends.

A: Your awareness of yourself as an individual will last only as long as you value that identity. It is never taken away by Jesus or the Holy Spirit. The focus of our study and practice is learning that our interests are really the same, not separate; and that would lead us to the next step, which is recognizing that not only do we share the same interests, but we share the same self as well. We all share the same ego thought system, and we all share the same right-minded thought system of forgiveness, as well as the power to choose between the two. As long as we are attracted to an identity as an individual self, though, we will resist this teaching rather strenuously. There would have to be some motivation to move beyond individuality, and what Jesus teaches us is that if we looked deeply and honestly at our lives as individual selves, we would conclude that we are paying a heavy price to sustain that existence. That does not mean it is bad or wrong to enjoy existing in this world. He asks only that we look openly at the picture, and not be deceived by the glitter of the frame (T.17.IV.8,9). "The body is a limit on love" (T.18.VIII.1:2). So valuing bodily existence is valuing limited love. That is the connection Jesus wants us to make, just so that we could be aware that we are deliberately (once we remember we are decision-making minds) cutting ourselves off from the totality of the love that comes with the memory of our oneness as God’s Son. Again, liking your self and your family and friends is not wrong or bad; just be aware that this is not all you are or they are. If living in this world is working for you and you are happy and content with it, then it would be foolish to change it. Recall that the Course came to two people who were no longer content with the way things were going and were determined to find a "better way."

Jesus stands outside the dream of individuality gently helping us to awaken from it. He appears to be an individual relating to us as individuals, but if you consider the above quote about the body being a limit on love, you can begin to understand that he appears that way because we choose to see him that way. Love is abstract -- formless -- but our perception conforms to our identity. Were we to let go of the need to limit love, we would experience Jesus quite differently -- and ourselves as well. The trouble is, we don’t consciously realize that this is what we are doing, which is why so much of the Course is directed at helping us realize that we have a mind and that practically everything we do is a defense against our realizing that. We don’t want to remember we are decision-making minds, because on some level we know where that realization would take us. We would eventually see clearly what individuality is all about, and it would not be a very pretty picture. To avoid those consequences, we try to make Jesus like us, but that will never square with what he spends so much time teaching us in the Course. It is much more helpful, and would reduce the internal conflict, to state simply and honestly, that you like being a self amidst other individual selves, and that some day you may have a reason to reconsider that choice, but right now you don’t. Period! That’s where you are, and it’s okay. Jesus’ love for you is not lessened in the least.

ii. What are our real creations? Are they what are left when we awake from the dream? Are we creating even as we dream?

A: Please see Question #103 for the definition of creations. Nothing real ever takes places in the dream. The Self that never left Its Source continually creates, which means simply that love always extends itself.

iii. If it only takes one to awake from the dream for all to awake and one cannot find Atonement alone and Jesus achieved this, why are the rest of us still dreaming?

A: From our perspective within the dream, there is no way of our comprehending this process; it cannot be solved through logical reasoning. Our framework for understanding is severely limited, because we believe we are actually here, and that belief is intended to push truth away and replace it with another system of thought that is entirely false. Very humbling! It is virtually impossible for us not to think in terms of separate bodies in time and space, but Jesus is not referring to bodies in time and space. Nevertheless, we can say at least this much -- that there is one mind, and the illusion of many minds, all asleep and dreaming. When you are in the real world you know there is only one mind. So the only mind that needs to awaken is yours.

Q #457: I have been studying A Course in Miracles since 1977, and although I understand the theory, I unfortunately cannot translate the theory into my life situations. By a series of circumstances I am at the point of ruin and bankruptcy. I read the Lesson that tells me to step back and let the spirit lead the way. How do you do that? How do you know that it is the spirit? I try to let it lead yet I must be doing something wrong because here I stand at the edge.

A. We easily fall into the trap of believing that the Holy Spirit’s answer to our call for help would be a change in the external situation -- the world or the body. We forget that problems in our bodies and the world are the effect; and the cause is our belief that we separated from God and destroyed love to achieve that separation. Thus in Chapter 27, Jesus reminds us that the Holy Spirit "looks not to effects.…He bids you bring each terrible effect to Him that you may look together on its foolish cause and laugh with Him a while. You judge effects, but He has judged their cause. And by His judgment are effects removed. Perhaps you come in tears. But hear him say, ‘My brother, holy Son of God, behold your idle dream, in which this could occur.’ And you will leave the holy instant with your laughter and your brother’s joined with His" (T.27.VIII.9:1,3,4,5,6,7,8).

Understandably, this may not be very consoling when you are on the verge of ruin, and you would much prefer that the Holy Spirit intervene to make things better for you in the world. He can’t, because He doesn’t see a world. He would help you get to the point where you share that perception with Him, so that you would be at peace regardless of what seems to be happening outside you. The problem is we don’t realize -- and probably don’t believe -- that what Jesus and the Holy Spirit say is outside us is really outside us. We think that this is really us. They know it’s not! How better could He help us, then, than to teach us how to begin the process of disidentifying with our identities as part of the world; and what better time to do that than when we are deeply troubled by problems in the world and our bodies. Challenging, yes; and seemingly impossible, yes. But that is what this Course is about. And that does not mean that you should not do everything you possibly can to rectify the financial situation -- consulting a financial advisor, etc.

Jesus assures us many times, that if we walk our path with the willingness to grow to value nothing but his love, and to accept that as our identity, we can go through the most horrendous (from the world’s point of view) situations and still be at peace within. That is not easy, and it means letting go of any investment in having the problem in the world be solved in a particular way.

Q #458: Is the "afterlife" an ego-based concept? How does one continue practicing the concepts of A Course in Miracles when we are no longer in physical form?

A: Yes, it is an ego-based concept, simply because it implies "life" that begins, changes, and ends. A primary principle of A Course in Miracles is that "there is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven life is illusion... Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere" (T.23.II.19.1,2,3,4). In addition, in the manual for teachers Jesus addresses the idea of a soul or other entity that continues after the body dies: "The curious belief that there is part of dying things that may go on apart from what will die, does not proclaim a living God nor re-establish any grounds for trust. If death is real for anything, there is no life. Death denies life. But if there is reality in life, death is denied. No compromise in this is possible" (M.27.4:1,2,3,4,5). Thus anything that appears to die in any way cannot be real. These statements are part of what we call Level One of the Course.

On the other hand, there are many places in the Course where Jesus strongly implies reincarnation -- our coming back many times until we complete our forgiveness lessons. This is the other level of the Course -- Level Two. The emphasis, though, is always on the mind, not the physical form. Jesus is helping us to realize that there is no life in the physical form, or in any form, for that matter. There is only a mind that thinks it is a body so that it can forget it is a decision-making mind, because it has associated being a mind with sin, guilt, and fear of annihilation by God from Whom it stole its life. It is always the mind that practices the Course; Jesus is always addressing us as decision-making minds, not bodies. As we practice forgiveness and learn more and more how to perceive ourselves as all sharing a common interest, our identification with the body (form), begins to diminish, and we re-establish our identities as minds. Part of this process involves reorienting our thinking about death -- as a thought in our minds, not a physical event, though it appears to be a physical event. "We know that an idea leaves not its source. And death is the result of the thought we call the ego, as surely as life is the result of the Thought of God" (T.19.IV.C.2:14,15). So the more we learn to think of ourselves as minds, the less identified we are with our bodies (homo sapiens). We will reach the point when we realize that nothing happens to our minds when the body dies, because we were never in the body to begin with. The body was simply a projection of the mind. If our minds are not yet healed, we will continue that process in whatever form we choose that will be most helpful. We are never not in our minds.

Q #459: Jesus speaks to us (who believe we are in this world) of the Holy Trinity as if Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were separate. He also states that the Trinity is One, in Truth, which is beyond our understanding. Within the illusion, I can accept that God "knows absolutely nothing" about His Son's dream, while the Holy Spirit obviously does know about it in order to correct our perceptions. In reality -- which we cannot possibly comprehend -- I prefer not to speculate about or assume what God "knows" or "doesn't know." This makes sense to me. Am I confused?

A: One of the major purposes of A Course in Miracles is to correct what it sees as the mistakes of Judaeo-Christian theology. And the cornerstone of that tradition is that God not only knows about the world -- He is its Creator -- but He is integrally involved in it. So by stating that God knows nothing of what is not His Being -- because it is impossible that there be anything other than His Being -- Jesus is correcting all biblically-based theologies, as well as any others that hold that God is involved in the world. The implications of this correction are far-reaching, to put it mildly. Obviously, religious practices flowing from those theologies would no longer have any foundation. But most devastating of all is the clear implication that our so-called lives as individuals do not have a divine origin or destiny, and, worst of all, have no reality.

Reality, according to A Course in Miracles is non-dualistic; it is the pure oneness of Love, God’s Being, which extends eternally, though not in any sense that is comprehensible to us in our separated state. It would seem that in a strict non-dualism, "knowing something" is an impossibility, as there is no knower and known. There is no "what" for God to "know." In fact, the meaning of the term knowledge in the Course is equated with Heaven, the state of perfect Oneness -- radically different from its conventional meaning, which is based on a subject-object dichotomy. Although there are many statements in the Course with profoundly rich theoretical implications, its emphasis is always on the practical goal of reversing our journey into the hell of separation back in the direction of our home in Heaven as God’s one Son. "This is not a course in philosophical speculation, nor is it concerned with precise terminology. It is concerned only with Atonement, or the correction of perception. The means of the Atonement is forgiveness" (C.in.1:1,2,3).

In oft-quoted passages from Lesson 169, Jesus gives us a sense of the ineffability of God’s Being and how we may re-unite with our Source:

"Oneness is simply the idea God is....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.
We cannot speak nor write nor even think of this at all. It comes to every mind when total recognition that its will is God’s has been completely given and received completely.... This is beyond experience we try to hasten" (W.pI.169.5:1,4,5,6,7; 6:1,2; 7:1).

And so you are quite correct in not wanting to speculate about God’ Being. Jesus refers to such inclinations as "senseless musings" (W.pI.138.8:5), and he would much rather have us spend our time practicing forgiveness.