Weekly Questions and
(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 #503: Why have I had no revelation?
Q #504 Why did we choose to abandon peace of mind?.
Q #505 Can you please explain the crucifixion and the resurrection?
Q #506: What is the meaning of "universe of universes"?
Q #507: Is all anger and judgement a cry for love?
Q #508 What should I learn from a situation that keeps repeating?
Q #509 I can be at peace in some difficult situations but not in others. Why?
Chronological List of All Questions.
Interactive Index of all topics
Q #503: I have been studying A Course in Miracles for about 90 lessons, and sometimes I get the feeling that I'm missing something. I think I should have had a revelatory experience in the previous lessons as part of my learning process. So I feel like I'm missing part of the foundation of the learning plan. When the Course instructs me to listen or let me be guided to my Self, I have absolutely no idea what to do. I sit quietly trying to clear my mind and listen to something that could indicate I'm doing the exercise correctly. But I don't hear/feel anything. My question is: Is it necessary for a student to have experiences of right- mindedness during the exercises? Is it normal for a student to miss experiences? Do they come with later lessons?
A: What you have discovered in your efforts to practice the lessons is exactly what the workbook would like us to learn: we "have absolutely no idea what to do." That is a very important discovery and, in one sense is a "revelation." This insight and your honesty give you a very firm foundation for the learning process. As Jesus tells us in the text: "I am leading you to a new kind of experience that you will become less and less willing to deny" (T.11VI.3:6). We can only be led if we are willing to follow, and that requires the recognition that we do not know where we are going. If not knowing means letting go of any judgment of what an experience is, what the outcome of the lesson should be, and willingness to let the Holy Spirit be in charge of the process, then it may indeed be a right minded experience in itself.
The Course is a gentle process that asks only that we have "a little willingness" in practicing forgiveness: "Your part is only to offer Him a little willingness to let Him remove all fear and hatred, and to be forgiven" (T.18.V.2:5). Continued practice of the instructions given in the workbook will lead eventually to seeing things differently. Small, but significant insights, such as you describe, are very helpful in this process. It is common for students to miss the small, important steps. Spectacular experiences are not necessary, some may even be subtly disguised ego devices, more harmful than helpful. We need not strive for experiences. It is dedication to the practice and application of what the workbook teaches, which leads to the experience that will occur naturally. As the Introduction to the workbook tells us: "You are merely asked to apply the ideas as you are directed to do it is their use that will give them meaning to you, and will show you that they are true" (W.in.8:3,6).
Q #504: I understand that we have made the decision to forget. My question is, why did we reject a state in which we clearly enjoyed peace of mind, in order to enter into time and space? Who in their right mind would feel dissatisfied with the original peace of mind?
A: No one in his right mind would choose to forget who he is, which is why no one in his right mind does. Your question is asked very frequently. It is actually a statement framed in the form of a question, because the question implies that the separation did in fact occur, and that time and space do exist. A Course in Miracles provides the ultimate answer: " the separation never occurred" (T.6.II.10:7). Jesus tells us we cannot forget our true Identity as Gods innocent Son, but can misuse the power of our minds by choosing separation and believing in the illusion of a separate identity. The very important principle at work here is the power of the mind to choose. The choice is always between truth and illusion, what is real and what is not. Since there is no substitute for God, and no alternative to reality, choosing not to believe in truth is really choosing nothing. However, the belief that it is something results in guilt for having obliterated God and His Son from awareness, replacing them with the made up ego self. The effects are all the devastating, painful experiences of "life" in the body and the world, which lead us to ask ourselves how we got here and why we came. Since Jesus knows we believe in our identity as bodies, he offers an explanation we can understand and work with: we believe we are bodies in the world because this is what we want to believe.
The "original" moment of separation, that seems to have occurred in the past, is actually an ongoing choice for separation that is evident in the daily experiences in our lives. The clues are there for us to see in our energetic pursuit of selfish interests, at the expense of others interests, not to mention our devotion and dedication to being right. To paraphrase an often quoted phrase from the text; we would rather be right than peaceful (T.29.VII.1:9). It is this which motivates us, here and now, to choose our little selves and little lives over God.
Thus, in its important goal of teaching us that we have minds with the power to choose, the Course itself is the answer to your question. Our hope lies in following Jesus clear and direct invitation: "My brother, choose again" (T.31.VIII.3:2).
For more on this topic please see Question #10.
Q #505: Could you give a simple explanation of the crucifixion and the resurrection?
A: As you know, the crucifixion and resurrection are the foundation of traditional Christianity. At its core are beliefs about sin, atonement, sacrifice, redemption, and death. In A Course in Miracles Jesus reinterprets each of these concepts. The Course teaches that the separation never truly happened, and therefore the world does not exist. Our experience in the dream, including the crucifixion and resurrection of the historical Jesus, is part of the illusion. That is the simplest explanation the Course offers. On another level, however, since we do believe in the separation and the reality of the world and its "history," Jesus reinterprets the "events" that we believe occurred, and the concepts on which they are based. In the text he tells us: "The real meaning of the crucifixion lies in the apparent intensity of the assault of some of the Sons of God upon another. This, of course, is impossible, and must be fully understood as impossible. Otherwise, I cannot serve as a model for learning" (T.6.I.3:4,5,6). As a symbol of the part of our minds that accepts the truth of who we are, Jesus does not identify with the body, accepts his identity as Gods innocent Son, and knows that his life is in God alone. This is what the Course refers to as acceptance of the Atonement. It is not achieved through sacrifice, nor death, but through this recognition. The crucifixion then becomes what Jesus tells us in the text: " nothing more than an extreme example. Its value, like the value of any teaching device, lies solely in the kind of learning it facilitates" (T.6.I.2:1,2).
Put very simply, it is meant to teach that Jesus seemed to die and seemed to rise from the dead to teach us that we are not bodies, that nothing is accomplished through death, that nothing happened. When we accept this we are "resurrected" in the sense that we rise from the death of the egos lies to the life of truth: "Very simply, the resurrection is the overcoming or surmounting of death. It is a reawakening or a rebirth; a change of mind about the meaning of the world. It is the acceptance of the Holy Spirit's interpretation of the world's purpose; the acceptance of the Atonement for oneself. It is the end of dreams of misery, and the glad awareness of the Holy Spirit's final dream" (M.28.1:1,2,3,4).
Q #506: In T.19:D:1:4 of A Course in Miracles, Jesus refers to the Divine Abstraction as: "The Creator of life, the Source of everything that lives, the Father of the universe and of the universe of universes, and of everything that lies even beyond them ." I would appreciate your helping me to understand why this particular wording of "universe of universes" has been chosen, since the universe and everything that appears to live is a fabrication of our minds.
A: Throughout the Course, Jesus uses symbols and the language of duality because that is what we understand. Since he knows how terrified we are of God and of our truth, his use of specific words is a loving and gentle way to lead us beyond our fear. He speaks to us of bodies, toys, houses, cities, money; all the things we believe are real and to which we cling. He uses words to describe the indescribable: Heaven, God, totality, oneness, timelessness. He speaks in poetic terms of experiences that are beyond words. While the form varies, the content is always a loving message.
The passage you quote is a poetic way of telling us that as Father of the universe of spirit, of Christ and His creations, God is everything. If we were ready to accept the truth of who God is and who we are, we would not need A Course in Miracles, or it would be sufficient to say: "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" (W.pI.169.5:1,2,3,4,5).
Because we are fiercely attached to our belief in separation and our identity as bodies, we need the truth to be presented to us in a variety of ways, over and over, so we can grasp its meaning and find our way through the labyrinth of confusion our upside-down thinking has fabricated. That is why the basic principles of the Course are repeated in many different ways, and the message of Gods Love for us is expressed in poetic, inspiring words intended to help us past our fear.
Q #507: Am I correct in saying that every judgment, every instance of anger...every time we turn to the ego (the wrong mind), is a cry for pain and suffering and identically a cover against a cry for love, of going to the right mind?
A: Yes, anger, judgment, and choosing the wrong mind are all attacks; and yes, each one is a call for love. They are the effects of having chosen the separation, thereby identifying with the ego, which is the ultimate attack on the Son of God because it is a denial of our true Identity. What inevitably follows is a profound sense of loss and emptiness. What is lost is awareness of loves presence. This loss is experienced in the feelings of deprivation, scarcity, need, and incompleteness that are at the root of every attack, whereby we seek to take from others what we think we lack. It is a desperate attempt to get back the love that was lost in the choice to separate. The choice is forgotten and denied, while the guilt for having made it is buried and projected out to everyone who is now perceived as having stolen the love and wholeness that are rightfully ours. Born of a deep sense of deprivation, attack is believed to be the only way to get what we need from everyone and everything outside of ourselves. In this search, whether it takes the form of special love or special hate, the ego seeks to fill the void left by the separation. Attack expresses the fear that what was lost will never again be found. It is therefore, an expression of fear.
By thus reinterpreting attack, A Course in Miracles teaches us a new way of perceiving it. It can now be seen as a way of "looking for love in all the wrong places," as the song goes. The attacker is desperately seeking the "lost love." However, no matter how perverse an attack may seem to be, it has not obliterated the part of the mind that holds the memory of Gods Love. If we are willing to let go of the egos judgment and accept the Holy Spirits interpretation, we acknowledge the right mind of the attacker and allow the Holy Spirit to respond with love. Thus the wrong mind is not reinforced, the attack is not perpetuated, and the love that was sought is found in the right place: the part of the mind of the attacker that remembers love, whenever he or she is ready to accept it.
As Jesus tells us in the text: "This is what recognizing fear really means. If you do not protect it, He [the Holy Spirit] will reinterpret it. That is the ultimate value in learning to perceive attack as a call for love" (T.12.I.8:8,9,10).
Q #508: According to the teachings of A Course in Miracles, how do I understand what is the lesson I have to learn from a situation that keeps coming over up and over again, which is more difficult each time? Is it that I have not been successful in getting the point, or might it be better to consider this a lifetime lesson and give up hoping not to repeat it?
A: Any situation that seems be a difficult one that recurs in our lives is simply a lesson in forgiveness that we have yet to accept. And what does that mean? That there is a guilty self- accusation that we are not yet willing to look at and so must keep projecting outside of ourselves so that it seems that the cause of the guilt and the pain is external rather than internal. The forms that these projections take are the specific relationships in our lives that seem to bring us distress and pain. But rather than seeing them as situations to get over and hopefully avoid in the future, the Course invites us to look upon them as our special function, the particular form in which we learn that our brother is guiltless and that therefore we are innocent as well (T.25.VI.4,5,6,7; T.25.VII.7,8,9).
Now the specific form of the lesson is "suited to your special needs, and to the special time and place in which you think you find yourself" although "the content is [always] the same" (T.25.VII.7:3,2). And this simply means that the form is the one that the ego originally made in order for us to feel at the mercy of someone or something else, so that responsibility for how we feel seems to rest on the outside situation. And if we have managed in our lives to escape from the situation at one time or another, it will simply reappear in a somewhat different form (a "new" relationship), for it is always mirroring what remains to be healed within.
The specific situation represents a particular expression of whatever specific belief about the separation from God we are unconsciously holding onto -- betrayal, abandonment, rejection, loss, inadequacy, etc. And behind each of those thoughts stands the self-accusation -- for this is what we believe we did to God when we chose our individual self over His Love. So if we can identify the unforgiveness or judgment associated with each recurrence of the difficult situation, the next step is having the willingness to accept responsibility for that thought without self-condemnation, that is, "with the Holy Spirits kind perception of specialness; His use of what you made, to heal instead of harm" (T.25.VI.4:1). And it is in that process of looking without judgment that we are released from the inner guilt that has been fueling the external projections. Does this mean that the external situation will no longer occur? Not necessarily. But it will mean that we will no longer interpret it in personal terms, that is, we will no longer feel in some way victimized by it or at its mercy, as we are learning to recognize that nothing outside ourselves can affect us.
In Jesus words from the end of the text: "Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, "My brother, choose again." He would not leave one source of pain unhealed, nor any image left to veil the truth. He would remove all misery from you whom God created altar unto joy. He would not leave you comfortless, alone in dreams of hell, but would release your mind from everything that hides His face from you" (T.31.VIII.3:1,2,3,4,5).
Q #509: I have almost succeeded, when not in my body but in spirit and thus one with the Sonship, in feeling love when reading about accounts of GIs being killed in Iraq. But I have difficulty when I put myself, as one with the Sonship, in the place of the mothers and fathers of those killed and injured. Please help me.
A: The ego doesnt care if we are able to be peaceful about one difficult situation, so long as there remain other situations over which we lose our peace. To the ego, its all the same. For its unstated goal is to keep us in conflict. The ego thrives on the belief in victims and victimizers. And it does not matter whether we see ourselves or someone with whom we identify as the victim -- including our countrys soldiers and their families. Its only critical that the dynamic of victimization be real for us. Can we also feel at one with the victimizer -- such as the Iraqi insurgents or the so-called terrorists -- and still feel love? There is a way, but it is not something we can do on our own, and we need first to understand all the obstacles weve placed between ourselves and peace.
We made the world with all its battles and wars, from the interpersonal to the international level, to convince ourselves that the separation thought is real but that we are not responsible for it. And so it seems that there are forces outside ourselves -- separate from us -- that affect us in ways over which we have no control. In other words, there are victimizers and victims. Our investment in this thought system is much deeper than most of us even begin to comprehend. For it keeps the guilt over our pain and suffering resting outside our own minds so that we never see our own role in deciding for pain by deciding for separation. Yet the two choices -- separation and pain -- are intrinsically and unavoidably linked. In fact, they are the same choice. But it is the egos goal, and the worlds purpose, to keep that relationship forever obliterated from our awareness.
We will never be able to be truly at peace and experience the genuine love of the Sonship until we recognize that link and ask for Help in undoing our belief in separation and the reality of our own guilt over it. For ultimately we accuse ourselves of separating from God and setting in motion a world of pain and suffering. But so long as we do not wish to accept that responsibility so that the choice can be undone, we can only struggle and fail to find peace and love in situations that appear to be anything but peaceful and loving.
The key to healing our perception of pain in the world is to learn to recognize that the external situation is never the cause of our loss of peace. It is always the decision within our own minds to be separate from love. And we can not overcome this decision on our own simply by choosing to see ourselves at one with others. We first must look at our investment in seeing ourselves as separate but not responsible for it, in whatever form we may make that real in our lives. By joining in our minds with Jesus or the Holy Spirit, we will accept without guilt the correction for our belief in separation, for they hold no judgment against us for the insane but impossible thought that we have attacked love through our desire to be separate. If the guilt of our own mind is healed, which is the source of our pain, we will no longer see the pain and suffering of the world as anything more than the delusional result of false decisions each fragment of the Sonship is making about itself, just as we have been doing.
There is a beautiful prayer that comes early in the text of A Course in Miracles that can serve as a helpful reminder of what this process of choosing between the ego and the Holy Spirit is always about:
I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace.
I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise.
I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.
I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him.
I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me (T.5.VII.6:7,8,9,10,11).
For other answers related to how to perceive the war in Iraq and war in general, see the last paragraph of Question #37, as well as Questions #143 and #239.