Weekly Questions and Answers, 05/26/2004
(Please note:  some delays may be experienced in publishing the questions during the month of June, due to vacation schedule.  Sorry for any inconvenience.)

This week's questions/topics:

Q #477: Why does Jesus seem to help me with worldly issues?
Q #478: What exactly is the Will of God?.

Q #479: Who is the voice speaking about Jesus in the Clarification of Terms?
Q #480: Is it necessary to physically interact with others at all?.
Q #481  Can I hold a grievance against someone who holds no grievance against me?

Q #482: How can the Course be a "required" course if there are many different paths to the truth?
Q #483: Is it appropriate to feel proud that I am a student of the Course?

Chronological List of All Questions.
Interactive Index of all topics

Q #477: I am having trouble accepting that Jesus does not care, or is unwilling to help, with everyday problems and issues in my life. I know this represents the bottom rungs of the ladder of prayer, but that seems to be where I am. In reading Absence From Felicity, I am excited about some of the specific help Jesus gave Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford with personal issues. Isn’t Jesus also instructing me to incorporate these revelations into my own life when they seem to fit? For example, recently I could not find three important keys I had lost. Occasionally, I found myself saying, "Jesus, where are those keys?" Then I found what I considered a gold mine on page 235 in Absence From Felicity, where Jesus told Helen, "Prayer can be very specific in little matters." Just before I fell asleep that night, Jesus told me where the keys were. I found them the next morning in a purse I hadn’t used in a while. How can Jesus not care about these worldly things when I seem repeatedly to get answers like this? Was Helen’s relationship with Jesus more "special" than mine?

A: Jesus’ help is always available to us at the level we are willing to accept it. It is only our own guilt and fear that keeps us in a state of upset, seemingly triggered by external situations. So, by all means, continue to ask Jesus for help with the little things if that is what you feel you are needing right now. It is not simply that Jesus does not care about our everyday concerns. Rather, he understands what we do not yet understand -- that these little problems are not really the problem. What would be most helpful then is if, while asking Jesus for the specific help, we can keep a "split mind" about it, that is, acknowledge that we know at another level that the specific problem is not what we are really upset about. In fact, our minds have generated the specific problems to avoid getting in touch with the real problem. One of the clearest statements of the nature of the relationship between problems in the world and the one problem in our mind can be found in the workbook lesson, "Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved" (W.pI.79). So, in the end, it would not be at all helpful if Jesus encouraged us to see him simply as a caregiver who helps our everyday lives run a little smoother. He’s inviting us to wake up to our reality as spirit, not to get more cozy and comfortable in our dream of denial as bodies.

But while we still need to learn to trust him and to undo some of the more fearful images we may hold of him as a critical and punishing judge, it can be helpful to see his love taking the form of help that we are ready to accept, as you are experiencing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But this is not really a personal intervention on Jesus’ part, as the passages you refer to in Absence from Felicity may seem to suggest at a first reading. You may wish to read a discussion later in the book (chapter 17, pp. 456,465) on the nature of Jesus’ help in the world, which makes it clear that it is our own minds that give form to his abstract love. And when we understand that, it becomes apparent that Jesus can have no favorites. His love, to be truly love, must shine on all of us equally.

Q #478: What exactly is the Will of God, and is the reason we don't get what we want because it is against His Will?

A: As defined in the Glossary-Index by Kenneth Wapnick, the Will of God is "the expression of God’s being" (p.222). Because the Son is united with the Father, the Sonship shares one Will with God. In truth there is no opposition to the Will of God, because the Son cannot be separated from the Father. However, in our illusory experience of separation we have made up a seemingly separate will that wants a myriad of things, all of which only reflect the choice to be separate. When we identify with the ego by choosing separation, we do get what we want; i.e., separation. This choice is behind all the special relationships with people, things, and experiences, which we seek as substitutes for God: "Every special relationship you have made is a substitute for God's Will, and glorifies yours instead of His because of the illusion that they are different" (T.17.IV.2:7).

In A Course in Miracles, Jesus tells us that we do not really know what we want, and what we think we want does not bring us peace or happiness: "…ask not of yourself what you need, for you do not know, and your advice to yourself will hurt you. For what you think you need will merely serve to tighten up your world against the light, and render you unwilling to question the value that this world can really hold for you" (T.13.VII.11:5,6).

This world holds no value, and everything we seek in it brings us pain. The very desire for things in this world in itself brings us pain because, as you mention, we often do not get what we think we want. We are then left with feelings of deprivation, frustration, resentment, jealousy, etc. More significantly, the desire for substitutes for God results in guilt, which we then project onto Him, interpreting the fact that we did not get what we want as a punishment for choosing not to identify with the Will of God: "The projection of the ego makes it appear as if God's Will is outside yourself, and therefore not yours. In this interpretation it seems possible for God's Will and yours to conflict. God, then, may seem to demand of you what you do not want to give, and thus deprive you of what you want" (T.11.I.9:1,2,3).

It is very important to recognize that the source of all pain is the choice to separate ourselves from God’s Will, thus denying our true identity. The emptiness caused by this denial impels us to seek to fill the void with the things we think will make us happy. They won’t. We will find peace and happiness only when we accept the one Will we share with God: "There is no peace except the peace of God, because He has one Son who cannot make a world in opposition to God's Will and to his own, which is the same as His" (W.pI.200.7:1).

Q #479: Throughout A Course in Miracles, Jesus speaks to us in the first person. Yet in the clarification of terms, Jesus is spoken of in the third person. Who is the party speaking about Jesus?

A: This is merely a stylistic factor that has no bearing on the content of the teaching -- it occurs in the manual as well (M.23). It is not actually a second voice. Helen, the scribe, heard only one Voice throughout the dictation. But as the Course itself says, "Helpers are given you in many forms, although upon the altar they are one. Beyond each one there is a Thought of God, and this will never change. But they have names which differ for a time, for time needs symbols, being itself unreal" (C.5.1:3,4,5).

Q #480: If nothing really happens at the level of form or to bodies, but rather at the level of mind, then why is it even necessary to interact with other bodies? Can't a person simply forgive other minds from the comfort of their home? Couldn't a person be a hermit and still perform miracles?

A: It depends on whether the purpose of staying at home or becoming a hermit is inspired by the ego or the Holy Spirit. The point of our study and practice of A Course in Miracles is to learn that we are never interacting with bodies; it just appears that way because that is what we (as minds) want to be the truth. The body is a projection of the mind -- an idea in the mind that never leaves its source in the mind, just as the world is "the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition" (T.21.in.1:5).

Although the Holy Spirit could certainly guide one to be a hermit; but to speak of the comfort of home and being a hermit, if the intent is ego based, is very much about form. It sounds as if it is a way of interacting with your own body to avoid the hassles and complications of dealing with other bodies. And that sounds like a trick of the ego, a way to keep form real while appearing not to. The danger in this is that it can easily lead to a denial of your experience, which Jesus cautions us about: "The body is merely part of your experience in the physical world. Its abilities can be and frequently are overevaluated. However, it is almost impossible to deny its existence in this world. Those who do so are engaging in a particularly unworthy form of denial" (T.2.IV.3:8,9,10,11). The method Jesus uses to help us get beyond the body and the level of form is to first become aware of how seriously we take the body -- how thoroughly our lives are based on satisfying its psychological and physical needs -- and then to ask for help to learn how to take it less seriously. And this is done in the context of our interactions with our own bodies as well as the bodies of others. Were it not for these interactions, which evoke all kinds of reactions in us, it would be just about impossible for us to get in touch with the choices we are making in our minds, and those choices are the basis of miracles.

Q #481: Is it possible that I can hold a grievance against someone who would not be holding grievances against me? The extreme example right now would be Jesus: I obviously have not forgiven him yet and he loves me unconditionally; so is it possible that in this world I have hatred for someone and that person could have nothing really specific against me?

A: Yes, it is entirely possible. That is the importance of remembering that relationships are only about what goes on in our minds. The ego cannot survive without grievances and hatred, so if you still identify with the ego thought system, you will find reasons to justify a grievance against another person, even if you have to make them up. And of course that has nothing to do with the other person. It has to do only with your belief (usually unconscious) that you are a guilty sinner and deserve to be punished. If you turn to the ego instead of Jesus to help you deal with that awful situation in your mind, you will be directed to project your guilt in order that you be free of it; and then you will quickly find fault with another person. You will have blocked from your awareness this dynamic of denial and projection and therefore will not realize that you are seeing your own guilt in another. As A Course in Miracles states: "Only the self-accused condemn. . . . You never hate your brother for his sins, but only for your own. Whatever form his sins appear to take, it but obscures the fact that you believe them to be yours, and therefore meriting a "just" attack" (T.31.III.1:1,5,6).

The lure of this dynamic is the ego’s guarantee that it will prove our own innocence. That is the whole point of projection, and that is why we find it almost impossible to let go of grievances. Following the ego’s teachings, I believe that if you are guilty, I must be innocent, because the ego’s system is ruled by the principle of one or the other. Our salvation thus depends on seeing others as guilty. The other person may be holding absolutely nothing against you, but if there is still guilt in your mind, you will have an overpowering need to find something to hate in that person. That is why Jesus is an extreme example. He has no guilt and therefore he cannot hate anyone. That means our not forgiving him has no effect on him. But yet we continue try to perceive him as guilty of something -- our own guilt demands this.

His role as our teacher, however, is to help us look at the self-accusation of sin in our minds and learn that it is all made up -- it is not based on fact, because it is impossible to attack God. The belief in sin testifies to the opposite -- that God has been attacked, and we ought to feel good and guilty about it (original sin, as this is known in biblical traditions). If you accept what Jesus is teaching you in the Course, you will become free of any sense of sinfulness and therefore guilt, and so you will not have a need to hate and attack others, regardless of what their behavior may be. You will no longer have a need for grievances. "The innocent release in gratitude for their own release. And what they see upholds their freedom from imprisonment and death. Open your mind to change, and there will be no ancient penalty exacted from your brother or yourself. For God has said there is no sacrifice that can be asked; there is no sacrifice that can be made" (T.31.III.7).

Q #482: What does the Introduction to A Course in Miracles mean by "It is a required Course?" Isn't the Course supposed to be just one of the "ways" to regain truth?

A: The specific context for this phrase is related in Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of A Course in Miracles by Kenneth Wapnick. In a somewhat humorous dialogue between Helen and Jesus, Helen expresses some resistance to the Course by calling it an "elective." Jesus responds that no, "it’s a definite requirement" in both form and content for Helen (p.215, second edition).

What is universally required is the content of the Course’s teaching, not the form. The many "ways" or paths to truth are different forms. Everyone will ultimately accept the truth and return to God. There is nothing but the truth, and nowhere else to go but to our true home in Heaven. However, how we get there may vary. The manual offers a helpful clarification: "There is a course for every teacher of God. The form of the course varies greatly. So do the particular teaching aids involved. But the content of the course never changes. Its central theme is always, "God's Son is guiltless, and in his innocence is his salvation …This is a manual for a special curriculum, intended for teachers of a special form of the universal course. There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome" (M.1.3:1,2,3,4,5,4:1,2).

It may be helpful to remember that the different forms do not necessarily refer to what are usually considered to be religions or spiritual paths. As stated in the manual, there is only one requirement for someone to embark on the path to truth: "…somehow, somewhere he has made a deliberate choice in which he did not see his interests as apart from someone else's" (M.1.1:2).

Q #483: In The Most Commonly Asked Questions About A Course in Miracles you said that it would be an expression of specialness if we thought ourselves superior to be a student of a "sophisticated book that comes from Jesus himself." But I feel very proud and good about myself that I have been working through such a difficult thought system; I feel very brave. What do you think?

A: That’s fine, as long as you do not think you are better than others who accept a different spirituality, or none. "Comparison must be an ego device, for love makes none. Specialness always makes comparisons" (T.24.II.1:1,2). It is quite contradictory to the whole message of the Course -- the Son of God is one -- to judge oneself superior to another for any reason whatsoever. Then, too, it is rather humbling when you realize that Jesus is saying in a number of different ways throughout the Course that we are here (or at least we think we are here in this world) because we attacked Love and banished it from our minds, and then we made up our own version of love as a substitute. He addresses us as little children, and even babies at times, in essence telling us that we are just beginning to take our first steps on the path of salvation. That is humbling indeed -- nothing to brag about. But we can indeed be grateful that we have accepted a loving teacher who gently and patiently teaches us how to recognize our mistakes and then choose again: "If you want to be like me I will help you, knowing that we are alike. If you want to be different, I will wait until you change your mind. I can teach you, but only you can choose to listen to my teaching (T.8.IV.6:3,4,5).