Weekly Questions and Answers, 08/11/2004

This week's questions/topics:

Q #546:  What is the Course's position on "The meek shall inherit the earth"?
Q #547; 
Are there other paths to return to God?

Q #548:  Can we do miracles like those attributed to Jesus?
Q #549:  Once having chosen a miracle, can it be negated?
Q #550:  If Jesus attained the atonement principle, why didn't this cancel out the illusion completely?
Q #551:  What exactly is meant by "Anger is never justified"?

Chronological List of All Questions.
Interactive Index of all topics

Q #546: i. In the Bible it says the meek shall inherit the earth, how does this figure in A Course in Miracles?
ii. Why did Jesus say the meek shall inherit the earth in the Bible, but tell us that the earth is not real in A Course in Miracles?

A: In the Course, Jesus not only reinterprets many of the specific teachings of the Bible; he presents an entirely different thought system. For this purpose he has used familiar biblical quotes, terms, and events; e.g., atonement, forgiveness, and crucifixion. This is because of the strong feelings and beliefs associated with them. The meaning given to them in the Course supports the new way of thinking about everything that Jesus is teaching. "The meek shall inherit the earth" is a very good example of this. It does not actually have anything to do with the earth.

In the section "The Atonement as Defense"(T.2.II) Jesus quotes this biblical passage, reinterpreting it in the light of the important principle of defenselessness the Course teaches. Here, meek is understood as defenseless. The Course tells us that all defenses are made up by the ego to defend against the truth of who we are (T.22.V.2:1, 2): God’s one Son. Being spirit as God created Him, the Son needs no defense, lacks nothing, and is invulnerable to attack, which is His strength. As Jesus tells us in the text: "What merely is needs no defense, and offers none.… You [Son of God] are the strong one in this seeming conflict. And you need no defense" (T.22.V.1:7, 10, 11). It is in this sense that we are defenseless (meek), strong, and beyond attack

However, when we identify with the ego as bodies, instead of with our truth as spirit, we also identify with the world. We see ourselves as part of it, make it real, and perceive ourselves as vulnerable to the attack/defense cycle that is the modus operandi of the world. What was invulnerable is now vulnerable, and requires defense. But because the ego identity is not true, its defenses do not work to protect it, and it is therefore weak. Feeling weak, the ego scrambles to build better defenses, which still do not work, and the cycle goes on and on, until finally admitting this really does not work, we ask the Holy Spirit for another way. The other way is the Holy Spirit’s plan of Atonement, whereby each time the choice is made to accept to remember Who we truly are, this true Identity is strengthened, while identity with the ego and the world is diminished. Thus the world is "overcome," which is another way of saying we "inherit the earth."

Q #547: Before I came to know A Course in Miracles, I was studying the Rosicrucian Cosmos Conception and I can put together some of the illusions that we created. We didn't create Christ and the archangels. And I do believe that there are other paths to return to God. Are those who don't believe in Christ, Mother Mary, the Saints etc. on the right track?

A: Since the separation never occurred (T.6.II.10:7) and we "are at home in God dreaming of exile" (T.10.I.2:1), the true answer to your question is that there is no track, because there is nowhere to go: "The journey to God is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always, and what you are forever. It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed" (T.8.VI.9:6,7).

However, since we do believe that our experience in the dream is real, we think we need a path to return to God. We are set on this path when a choice for God and against the ego is made in the mind. This choice is the "right track." The specific form in which this choice is experienced or expressed in the dream of separation is not important. For some people, belief in Christ, Mary and the saints is the form the choice for God takes. For others, the choice may not take religious form at all. In the Manual (M.1.3) the Course refers to this choice as answering the Call of the universal course. The "answer," or the "right track," that sets us on the path to God is seeing someone else’s interest as the same as one’s own (M.1.1). Once this happens, the outcome is certain for, as we are told in the text: "There is no path that does not lead to Him [God]" (T.31.IV.11:7).

An important principle of the Course’s teaching is the distinction between form and content. The passages cited above clearly indicate that the Course teaches that form varies significantly, and is unimportant. It is the content in the mind that establishes the goal, which, as stated earlier, is always either a choice for God or a choice for the ego. Just as the choice for God may be experienced and expressed in many forms, some of which are not religious in nature, so, too, the choice for the ego may use religious forms for its purpose of separation. This explains why there are so many individuals and groups who attack and destroy in God’s name, or may use their belief in Christ to keep themselves separate from those who do not share their belief. Again, it is the choice for God in the mind that matters, not the form. As Jesus tells us in the Manual: "…it is all a matter of time. Everyone will answer in the end" (M.1.2:8,9).

Q #548: This question is a combination of questions from two students:
Jesus did many miracles while he was here on earth, such as raised the dead, made the blind see. Can we, Sons of God, do miracles in this world as well? What does the A Course in Miracles mean when it says we should offer miracles to others?

A: Scripture scholars differ in their understanding of the historical accuracy of the Gospel accounts of what Jesus did during his lifetime. However, regardless of the accuracy of the Gospels, the Course teaches a different meaning of miracles. What the Course means by a miracle is a change of mind. It is a course in miracles because it is a course in learning to change our minds from thinking with the ego to thinking with the Holy Spirit. It is a process of undoing the ego by learning a new perspective that reverses the ego’s view on everything and everyone. The ego tells us we are bodies, separate from God and from each other, subject to change by external forces. The Holy Spirit tells us we are minds, one with our Father and with each other, subject to change only by the power of the mind to choose. We accept miracles for ourselves to the extent that we accept this teaching, and apply it to all events, situations, and experiences in our lives. We offer miracles to others as we recognize the same power of their minds to choose. As Jesus tells us in the text: "The miracle extends without your help, but you are needed that it can begin. Accept the miracle of healing, and it will go forth because of what it is. It is its nature to extend itself the instant it is born. And it is born the instant it is offered and received. No one can ask another to be healed. But he can let himself be healed, and thus offer the other what he has received" (T.27.V.1:3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

A further extension of this principle is the process of forgiveness, whereby we recognize that nothing external to our minds can cause us to feel anything positive or negative, and therefore, no one is responsible for how we feel. That is what is meant by Jesus’ invitation: "Be willing to forgive the Son of God for what he did not do." Thus forgiveness is the miracle we offer to our brothers. In recognizing that our experience is the result of a decision in our minds to identify with the ego or with the Holy Spirit, all our brothers are released from blame, and their innocence is brought to our awareness. This is the miracle of the healing of the mind, given and received.

Q #549: Once having met the conditions of a miracle, and entering the state of miracle readiness and union with God, does that mean that the miracle is done and just a matter of time? Is it possible to do something to negate it?

A: The conditions for a miracle to occur begin with the realization that our interests are not separate from our brothers’ or sisters’ (M.1.1:2). This experience of joining is a pale reflection of our true reality at one with God, outside the world of time and space and bodies. Any enduring experience of union with God, the Course tells us, is so rare in this world "that it cannot be considered a realistic goal" (M.26.3:1,2,3,4).

With repeated recognition of shared interests, we will begin to understand that it is not the world but our own mind that is the source of all our unhappiness, and so it is the source of all happiness as well. This understanding produces a state of miracle readiness that will become easier and easier to access over time, as we become increasingly willing to shift our attention from the world outside to the decision in our mind to choose between the ego and the Holy Spirit. This is a process in time for, in A Course in Miracles’ own words, "The miracle does not awaken you, but merely shows you who the dreamer is. It teaches you there is a choice of dreams while you are still asleep, depending on the purpose of your dreaming. Do you wish for dreams of healing, or for dreams of death?" (T.28.II.4:2,3,4).

There is a level at which it is true that, once we have chosen the miracle, there is no other choice to be made. But this will not be our experience, as we seem to vacillate between right-minded and wrong-minded thinking, while completely releasing our identification with the illusory ego remains too fearful.

Once experienced, we can not negate the miracle. But we can forget it as we allow our focus to shift back to the seeming concerns of the world and our illusory self, engaging in judgment and attack as we now perceive our interests as separate from everyone else’s. In the context of the holy instant -- another term for the miracle -- Jesus explains: "The experience of an instant [miracle], however compelling it may be, is easily forgotten if you allow time to close over it.... The instant remains. But where are you?... To attack your brother is not to lose the instant, but to make it powerless in its effects. You have received the holy instant, but you may have established a condition in which you cannot use it. As a result, you do not realize that it is with you still. And by cutting yourself off from its expression, you have denied yourself its benefit. You reinforce this every time you attack your brother, for the attack must blind you to yourself. And it is impossible to deny yourself, and to recognize what has been given and received by you (T.17.V.12:1,3,4,6; 13:1,2,3,4,5).

Q #550: i. In the illusion (the absence of God), Jesus, also an illusion, returns to God, why didn't this cancel out the illusion immediately? Why hasn't the one mind woken up after Jesus' perfect attainment of the Atonement principle? I thought it takes only one mind to change the world and if all the billions of fragments have to wake up that would seem to be an indication that one isn't the magic number, it makes it seem as if there is separateness.

ii. How come Jesus knows completely about God and God doesn't know anything about Jesus?

A: These are perfectly reasonable questions. The trouble is they arise from an illusory perspective. "One brother is all brothers. Every mind contains all minds, for every mind is one. Such is the truth. Yet do these thoughts make clear the meaning of creation? Do these words bring perfect clarity with them to you? What can they seem to be but empty sounds; pretty, perhaps, correct in sentiment, yet fundamentally not understood nor understandable. The mind that taught itself to think specifically can no longer grasp abstraction in the sense that it is all-encompassing. We need to see a little, that we learn a lot" (W.pI.161.4). Obviously this is not intended as an answer to your questions, nor is it an attempt to evade answering them. It is just so vitally important to be aware of these limitations so that the issues you raise do not come to stand in the way of your practice of forgiveness, which would eventually lead to an experience in which all questions would simply dissolve. Of course we can blame our perplexity on Jesus for having raised the issues in the first place and then leaving us to figure it all out on our own! Yet, he has anticipated our frustration and addresses it in different parts of his course, being especially explicit about it in the Introduction to the clarification of terms (C.in.2,3:1,4:1,2). In view of this, it is necessary to accept that there can be no answer that corresponds perfectly to the expectations of human logic, as Jesus implies in the quote above. There is an inherent inability of minds identified with separation and individuality to grasp the full meaning of what he teaches. The difficulty is on our end, not his.

What follows is somewhat of a repetition of our answer to #430, which is on the same topic as your first question. The one mind has awakened, and, in truth, it never even fell asleep. There is an illusion of billions of fragments asleep and dreaming, each of which must accept the Atonement, which has already happened; but it is still an illusion of many minds needing to awaken. That is why Jesus stresses the importance of focusing exclusively on accepting the Atonement for oneself. Once your mind is healed of all belief in separation, then you know that there truly is only one mind and that what appear to be individual unhealed minds are really part of that one healed mind. Believing we are individual minds among billions of other individual minds is a defense against the truth, and therefore every time we attempt to understand what A Course in Miracles is saying from that point of view, we reinforce the defense and will remain in the dark. Jesus transcends this human point of view entirely, while at the same time speaking to us within that framework in order to establish communication with us. But all of his teaching and training of us is for the purpose of getting us beyond it, to where he is. It is in this vein that he tells us: "When experience will come to end your doubting has been set. For we but see the journey from the point at which it ended, looking back on it, imagining we make it once again; reviewing mentally what has gone by" (W.pI.158.4:4,5). So the only way to work through your question is to work on your forgiveness lessons so that you will have the experience that ends all doubting and questioning.

Finally, the healing of the mind does not change the world, as you state in your question. The mind simply stops attributing to the world a power it does not have, nor ever had. Thus Jesus appeals to us: "Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose rather to change you mind about the world" (T.21.in.1:6).

This is a helpful background for answering your second question. If all separation is illusory, then there is nothing outside God, perfect Oneness, that can be known: "Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere" (T.23.II.19.6). How can God know what is impossible and what is not anywhere? So to those asleep and dreaming the illusory dream of separation, Jesus symbolizes or reflects this Oneness within a framework that is meaningful and understandable. When our fear of Oneness subsides and then disappears entirely, only the reality of love remains. Nothing else remains, because nothing else ever was! Jesus does not "know" about God; he is a reflection or symbol in our minds of the Love that is God. Again, the Course comes within an ego framework; it uses the language of duality because that is what we can understand. But its whole intent is to get us beyond duality to the state of perfect Oneness.

Q #551: I know two people who are attracted to A Course in Miracles but have too much difficulty specifically with statements such as anger is never justified. I explain that this does not mean that one should not get angry, or would become guilty by being angry -- apparently Jesus knows we are angry and will get angry. And I explain that this is so on a metaphysical level, since anger can only be projection, etc. But still they both think this statement about anger makes the student feel guilty and unfree. Could you comment on this?

A: There is much in the Course for egos to object to, regardless of whether or not it is one’s path back home to God. From the Course’s perspective, these disagreements are simply the ego’s self- protective defenses against the truth. As students of the Course, we all have our different excuses for not accepting or doing what Jesus asks us to do -- forgiving, which means looking at our ego and all its judgments and then letting them go. Yet he never judges us for our resistance.

What you may first want to get in touch with for yourself is any investment you have in others’ getting and accepting the Course’s message. This is a wonderful distraction to keep the focus away from our own forgiveness process. Yet honestly looking at any investments we have becomes yet another opportunity to practice forgiveness. Our egos would much prefer that we focus on convincing others about the Course than about putting its principles into practice in our own minds. We need not be concerned with persuading anyone else of the truth or rightness of the Course. Our only responsibility, if the Course is our path, is to accept the Atonement for ourselves, as the Course repeatedly reminds us (e.g., T.5.V.7:8; M.7.3:2,3,4,5,6; M.22.1:10).

In terms of the specific issue of anger you raise, Jesus is simply making a statement of fact -- anger could only be justified if sin and guilt were real. Since sin and guilt are illusions of the ego thought system whose only purpose is to convince us of the ego’s existence, anything that follows from them can not be real either. But since we take ourselves and our egos very seriously, we certainly will continue to experience anger -- to deny that we do would not be at all helpful. From Jesus’ perspective -- outside the ego thought system -- there simply is no real reason or justification for experiencing anger. Our egos may defensively insist there must be a judgment behind such a statement, but that is not at all Jesus’ intention. If we can recognize that in the Course’s use of terms, anger is equated with attack -- as thoughts, they are both the same (e.g., T.7.VIII.5:4; T.30.VI.1:1,2, W.pI.21.3) -- the statement that attack is never justified may be easier to accept and recognize as true. In summary, Jesus doesn’t say not to get angry, just not to justify it when we do.