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S. Another world awaits us
T. Resisting the Course
U. Dealing with the ego
V. Dialogue on "I Need Do Nothing"
W. How can I hear my inner guidance?
Summary of A Course in Miracles - 2
From The Findhorn Book of Forgiveness.
Full Heart and an Empty Mind
Z. What Can I Do With My Anger?
S. ANOTHER WORLD AWAITS US
You dwell not here, but in eternity.
You travel but in dreams, while safe at home. T-13.VII.17:6-7
The above quote so beautifully tells us that this world is not our home. It is pointless to try to find permanent peace and joy in what the world has to offer. How can a dream satisfy? To pursue pleasure automatically brings pain. They are two sides of the same coin. First there is the fear that we will not attain what we crave. If we do attain it we will fear to lose it or grow tired of our prize and start searching over again. This very search for satisfaction blocks the awareness that God has given us everything at our creation.
The Course explains to us that in our desire for something different, to play at being God and become individuals we had to fall asleep in Heaven. It is only in the dream state we can achieve our desire for separation. To maintain the illusion that we have really achieved our goal of separation we need to make our dream seem very solid. The section in the Text on the Obstacles to Peace states how attached we are to the body, guilt, pain and death for they seem to make this world real. Just one look at what is portrayed in the media will show us what we give our interest to. There is nothing like pain to make this world true and what the Course states as truth a lie. We pursue our relationships of 'special hate' (choosing someone to project our guilt onto) and 'special love' (needy relationships used as a substitute for God's love) as they are are our best safeguard from waking up and returning to the awareness of God's love for us which would shatter our precious dream of individuality.
All your time is spent in dreaming. Your sleeping and your waking dreams have different forms, and that is all. Their content is the same. They are your protest against reality, and your fixed and insane idea that you can change it. In our waking dreams, the special relationship is your determination to keep your hold on unreality, and to prevent yourself from waking. And while you see more value in sleeping than in waking, you will not let go of it.
A Course in Miracles T-18.II.5:12-20
Sometimes something happens to shake the reality of our collective dream and fear is the usual result. I can remember watching a play on television that had caught my attention. Suddenly part of the picture broke up and the face of the actor speaking became a series of small squares. I felt a fear go through me that what I was so intently watching a moment ago was simply an illusion. I used to teach electronics and understood how pictures are displayed on a cathode ray tube. I also knew how distortions could occur just like the one I had seen. But none of this knowledge prevent the small wave of fear that swept through me. What I had been reminded of was that what I had taken for reality had dissolved for a moment. I could sense that I did not want my everyday world to start shaking at the edges, for the illusion to reveal itself as it is. As we start to awaken from the dream of separation and another world becomes apparent our egos become terrified. What should be an uplifting experience may well become a terrifying one. Jesus warns us early in the study of the Text that:
This is a course in mind training. All learning involves attention and study at some level. Some of the later parts of the course rest too heavily on these earlier sections not to require their careful study. You will also need them for preparation. Without this, you may become much too fearful of what is to come to make constructive use of it. However, as you study these earlier sections, you will begin to see some of the implications that will be amplified later on.
In the film The Matrix we are shown a world after a war between humans and super intelligent robots where the robots are the winners. The robots still need the humans to live so they are bred in farms and kept asleep. The humans are programmed with a collective dream so they don't realise what's happening to them. The dream seems very realistic and they have no knowledge of their real state. Except for a few humans however, who have succeeded in waking up and escaping from the farm. These awake ones have found a way to enter the collective dream of the other humans and offer them the opportunity to awake as well. As you might imagine, the sleeping ones have a hard time believing the story of the awakened ones and are not sure if it's worth the trouble of waking up.
Jesus has taken on the same role of the awakened ones in The Matrix. He enters our dream (when we invite him) and attempts to teach us that we are asleep and that another world, what the Course call the Real World awaits us. He knows we would be petrified to wake up in one go, even though we may ask for this, and instead gradually leads us from nightmares to happy dreams of forgiveness until we can finally wake up to the perception of the Real World. Now we have become lucid dreamers where we know what we see is a dream and that nothing in it can harm us, become a cause for fear, give us peace or take it away. We see everyone in the dream through the Holy Spirit's judgement as either extending love or asking for it. The Real World is not Heaven but its reflection here in time and space.
The path becomes quite different as one goes along. Nor could all the magnificence, the grandeur of the scene and the enormous opening vistas that rise to meet one as the journey continues, be foretold from the outset. Yet even these, whose splendor reaches indescribable heights as one proceeds, fall short indeed of all that wait when the pathway ceases and time ends with it.
So how can we wake up from our present nightmares into the perception of the Real World? We simply have to want to above all else. And here lies the problem. Parts of our current dream are seen as undesirable and increasingly so. We gradually become disillusioned with what the ego's world has to offer although once we pursued it with great intent. We start to see the prizes that world offers us come at to higher price - our peace of mind. But parts of the dream still appeal and these we still want. We may see through the deceptions of materialism, status, power, money, ambition, etc. but still be snared by other attractions including the so called spiritual. Perhaps we yearn for a spiritual soul mate, to be seen as spiritual, to find fulfilment in healing and teaching others. But as the Course warns:
Anything in this world that you believe is good and valuable and worth striving for can hurt you, and will do so. Not because it has the power to hurt, but just because you have denied it is but an illusion, and made it real. And it is real to you. It is not nothing. And through its perceived reality has entered all the world of sick illusions.
Notice the use of the word 'anything'! Any dream, no matter how holy-sounding, is still a trap from waking up to who we really are - the one Christ, the formless eternal spirit that was never born and hence can never die. That is why Jesus never asks us to pursue some goal in the world but to wake up from the dream of separation (what the Course calls accepting the atonement for ourselves). All dreams must finally be given up and the illusion of sacrifice that usually accompanies this thought must be seen through as another ego ploy to delay our awakening.
You cannot dream some dreams and wake from some, for you are either sleeping or awake. And dreaming goes with only one of these. The dreams you think you like would hold you back as much as those in which the fear is seen. For every dream is but a dream of fear, no matter what the form it seems to take.
For many of us, as we get older, the world has less and less to offer us and the message of the Course has an increasing appeal. But still there are aspects of the world that hold our attention and to let these go seems to be a sacrifice. The Development of Trust section in the Manual for Teachers highlights this. Of the six stages in gaining trust four are described as difficult with the illusion of sacrifice being the dominant hindrance to achievement of trust. At the fifth stage of the development of trust we are asked to let go the very individuality we prize so highly. The loss of 'I' is seen by our ego as committing suicide and our resistance to that step is enormous, a true dark night of the soul.
The world can teach no images of you unless you want to learn them. There will come a time when images have all gone by, and you will see you know not what you are. It is to this unsealed and open mind that truth returns, unhindered and unbound. Where concepts of the self have been laid by is truth revealed exactly as it is. When every concept has been raised to doubt and question, and been recognized as made on no assumptions that would stand the light, then is the truth left free to enter in its sanctuary, clean and free of guilt. There is no statement that the world is more afraid to hear than this:
I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not know what I am doing, where I am, or how to look upon the world or on myself.
Yet in this learning is salvation born. And What you are will tell you of Itself.
Increasingly the world is simply seen as a classroom of forgiveness. A place where relationships of every sort reflects back to us what is unhealed in our own minds - the only place where forgiveness is needed. As we practise our daily lessons of forgiveness our sense of separation slowly diminishes along with our ego identity.
The attachment to being a separate individual is the last dream to let go before we awake to the everlasting peace and joy of the Real World and wonder why we delayed so long to enter it!
T. RESISTING THE COURSE
Over the years that I have been teaching A Course in Miracles I have heard many accounts of people's difficulty in studying the Course. They illustrate the strong ambivalence many (all?) students have to studying and putting into practice its teachings. These include starting to study and then putting the book down and forgetting it, only reading the Workbook, and getting angry at the book (including destroying it or throwing it away). Some students try to change the Course to make it more acceptable to their egos. Examples include denial (where certain parts of the Course, especially the metaphysics, are not seen), reading Jesus out of the Course and altering its language. Other students may become preoccupied with such questions as "Why did the separation occur?", forgetting that if we practise our daily forgiveness lessons we will receive an experience that will answer all our questions (C-in.4:4-5).
Helen Schucman, who channelled the Course, also exhibited strong ambivalence to taking down the Course and practising forgiveness. She writes of this in her poem Bright Stranger:
Strange was my Love to me. For when He came
I did not know Him. And He seemed to me
To be but an intruder on my peace.
I did not see the gifts He brought, nor hear
His soft appeal. I tried to shut Him out
With locks and keys that merely fell away
Before His coming. I could not escape
The gentleness with which He looked at me.
I asked Him in unwillingly, and turned
Away from Him. But He held out His hand
And asked me to remember Him. In me
An ancient Name began to stir and break
Across my mind in gold. The light embraced
Me deep in silence till He spoke the Word,
And then at last I recognized my Lord.
from The Gifts of God
Foundation for Inner Peace
This beautiful poem applies to us all. One part of us, our right mind, welcomes Jesus's help while another part of us, the wrong mind, wants to shut him out. Our egos happy to ask him for things of this world like health, the right partner, money, etc., but we don't want him to lead us out of this world to where he is.
Jesus is well aware that in studying his Course we will become fearful at times and actively resist it.
This course has explicitly stated that its goal for you is happiness and peace. Yet you are afraid of it. You have been told again and again that it will set you free, yet you sometimes react as if it is trying to imprison you. You often dismiss it more readily than you dismiss the ego's thought system. To some extent, then, you must believe that by not learning the course you are protecting yourself. And you do not realize that it is only your guiltlessness that can protect you.
A Course in Miracles T-13.II.7:1-6
Your mind is no longer wholly untrained. You are quite ready to learn the form of exercise we will use today, but you may find that you will encounter strong resistance. The reason is very simple. While you practice in this way, you leave behind everything that you now believe, and all the thoughts that you have made up. Properly speaking, this is the release from hell. Yet perceived through the ego's eyes, it is loss of identity and a descent into hell.
I saw a cartoon once that showed two doors. Above the first was written "Lecture on Heaven". In front of this door was a long queue of people. The door next to it had the sign "Heaven" above it but no people queued to enter. The fear we have to enter Heaven is mirrored in our fear of studying and practising the Course.
The section in the Text entitled 'The Fear of Redemption" gives a very clear explanation of why we resist the Course. As we progress with our learning we move ever closer to the love of God in our mind. This is the ultimate threat to the ego for it cannot withstand this love and survive. When the ego is finally shone away by God's love our precious individuality and specialness will also go and it is this which terrifies us. One part of us craves the peace of God whilst another part fears it. This translates into wanting to study the Course and leave this world behind (right minded thinking) and not wishing to have anything to do with the Course, seeking fulfilment only in the world (wrong minded thinking).
You think you have made a world God would destroy; and by loving Him, which you do, you would throw this world away, which you would. Therefore, you have used the world to cover your love, and the deeper you go into the blackness of the ego's foundation, the closer you come to the Love that is hidden there. And it is this that frightens you.
Under the ego's dark foundation is the memory of God, and it is of this that you are really afraid. For this memory would instantly restore you to your proper place, and it is this place that you have sought to leave.
Many of us start the Course hoping that we can learn to live more happily in this world. We look forward to finding the right partner or improving our existing relationship, to enjoying better health, to getting on better with people, etc. As we practise forgiveness we will see improvements in these areas eventually reaching "a period of settling down" (M-4.I.A.7), the fourth stage in the "Development of Trust" (M-4.I.A.), where we experience a "reasonable peace". Many teachings have the goal of making our lives here more happy and fulfilling - the book stores are full of them. The Course, however, is not a coping philosophy but a transcendent teaching. In the Bible Jesus says that his kingdom is not of this world. The aim of the Course is to take us to this world, what it calls the Real World. But this means leaving our ego behind, our sense of "I". This leads to the next stage in the "Development of Trust" called "a period of unsettling" (M-4.I.A.7:1) which may last a very long time as we resist letting our individuality go and enter the Real World of oneness with God - the last step on the ladder of trust.
As we start to realise where the Course is leading us we can panic and resist its teachings. We may not realise we are resisting and point to the fact that we regularly read the Course, go to our A Course in Miracles study group and try to forgive. However, to look deeply into our ego thought system is not a pleasant experience. It's more comfortable to live on the surface.
You may wonder why it is so crucial that you look upon your hatred and realize its full extent. You may also think that it would be easy enough for the Holy Spirit to show it to you, and to dispel it without the need for you to raise it to awareness yourself. Yet there is one more obstacle you have interposed between yourself and the Atonement....You are not really afraid of crucifixion. Your real terror is of redemption.
To look without judgement at the hatred in our minds will take us to the darkest foundations of the ego's thought system. This is difficult enough for us to do but beyond this foundation is the love of God, our redemption, and this terrifies us even more as this love will dissolve who we think we are.
It is very helpful to realise we will fear and resist the Course as it prepares us for those moments when we just want to give it all up. Further, when we do start to get glimpses of the Real World with attendant loss of the ego we will understand better what is happening and will be less likely to succumb to fear.
Our ambivalence to the Course can become another chance to practise forgiveness. We might say to ourselves, "Here I go again, frightened of Jesus's love for me and running away again. What's new! I can learn to smile at this and wait patiently for the day when I can let him and his Course back into my life again".
And if you find resistance strong and dedication weak, you are not ready. Do not fight yourself.
The above quote illustrates well Jesus's love and understanding of us. He does not want us to beat ourselves up for being poor students at times but to be gentle with ourselves and our journey with him.
U. DEALING WITH THE EGO
The Course defines the ego as the thought of separation from God. This was the "tiny mad idea" that crept into the mind of the one Christ at which it forgot to laugh (T-27.VIII.6). We asked, "Could there be something better than oneness?". "What if I became God instead of the second class son of God?" Such mad ideas could not be achieved in reality, so part of the Christ mind fell asleep so it could experience them. Not that it felt like a dream - for that would have defeated the purpose.
Time and space arose in which we could play out our desires of hiding from God whilst playing God, hoping he would never find us here and act out his justified revenge for us breaking up his heaven and leaving. In fact, we wanted an angry God for that would make our dream seem true. We could tell ourselves we had actually succeeded from breaking away from our father. In reality, however, God knows nothing of our childish dreams, for He can only know what is eternal. Sin would only be real if we could change the eternal, the Christ in us, and that is impossible. But in our dreams we feel we have much to be guilty about and the ego makes full use of this. Guilt is the food of the ego, without which it can not exist.
The ego dictates a steady stream of advice to help get us what we think we need, missing the point that the ego's real motive is "seek and do not find" (T-12.IV.1). The ego is our creation, our child, and wants to live. In giving us counsel that never works it forces us to return to him for more of the same. In time we start to suspect the motives of the ego - that he is our enemy and not our friend. This usually leads to the conclusion that the ego must be fought and overcome. Big mistake! This attitude makes the ego seem real - an example of what the Course calls "making the error real". Thus we need not try and change the ego or "improve" it. The greatest fear of the ego is not to be taken seriously. With no guilt to feed on the ego will simply "fade into the nothingness from which it came from" (M-13.1).
But if we fight (or love) the ego we have made it real. And what could fight the ego but the ego. The other counsellor in our mind, the Holy Spirit, never fights or opposes anything as He does not recognise the ego as real. The truth needs no protection from the false. Instead He asks us to simply look at our ego without judgement.
Forgiveness, on the other hand, is still, and quietly does nothing. It offends no aspect of reality, nor seeks to twist it to appearances it likes. It merely looks, and waits, and judges not. He who would not forgive must judge, for he must justify his failure to forgive. But he who would forgive himself must learn to welcome truth exactly as it is. A Course in Miracles W-pII.1.4.
The very seeing of what the ego advises us to do, which is always some form of attack upon ourselves (e.g. sickness) or others (e.g. anger), will eventually lead us to not following its advice. If we see that putting our hand in a flame causes pain we will not do it. No effort or pracitice is required.
One form of attack upon ourselves is not so easily seen. This is the ego's advice on how we can improve our image, perhaps to become more 'spiritual'. The Course teaches us we are created in the image of God. The only difference, which led to the idea of separation and hence to the birth of the ego, is that we cannot create God. He is the Father and we are His Son - the Christ. Apart from that one difference we share all of God's nature.
The truth about you is so lofty that nothing unworthy of God is worthy of you. T-9.VII.8.4
If we ponder this a moment we realise that any desire to improve ourselves, to be better people, is playing directly into the hands of the ego. Can we improve what God created? What we are trying to improve is our ego - our treasured image of individuality and specialness. This can only increase our sense of guilt as it reinforces the idea of separation believing what we have miscreated is superior to what God has created.
All things you seek to make your value
greater in your sight limit you further, hide
your worth from you, and add another bar across
the door that leads to true awareness of your Self.
Deep within you is everything that is perfect,
ready to radiate through you and out into the world. Lesson 41
As we start to awaken from our dream of separation the ego becomes ever more subtle in its advice. We may have seen through the ego's ploy that we can achieve happiness by attacking others and pursuing material goals, but how easily he can snare us again by encouraging us to pursue spiritual goals. Looking with horror at all our character defects we vow to conquer the ego and become better, more spiritual people.
Your worth is not established by teaching or learning. Your worth is established by God. As long as you dispute this everything you do will be fearful, particularly any situation that lends itself to the belief in superiority and inferiority. T-4.I.7:1-3
The ego rubs its hands in glee as we take up the long path of fighting against all our newly discovered sins. The resulting guilt from our failures will be a rich source of "food' for the ego for a long time to come. Nor do we easily see that our fight to become 'good' is just a reaction to the guilt we feel at seemingly separating from our Father in Heaven. But the separation is an illusion, we are simply asleep in Heaven. There is no need for sacrifice, suffering or redemption. All that is required is a desire to wake up and leave the dream behind.
Enormous effort is expended in the attempt to make holy what is hated and despised. Nor is a lifetime of contemplation and long periods of meditation aimed at detachment from the body necessary. All such attempts will ultimately succeed because of their purpose. Yet the means are tedious and very time consuming, for all of them look to the future for release from a state of present unworthiness and inadequacy. T-18.VII
The spiritual self we are trying to cultivate will never feel adequate because it will still be the ego, but now wearing spiritual clothes. We are doomed to suffer a lack of self worth until we realise that what we are trying to create is false. How could we possibly improve on the perfection of our Christ self? It has ben nothing but a hopeless journey of arrogance.
Do not strive for spirituality. If you do, you will block it.
It will be prevented from coming into your life.
That is the most difficult thing for most people to learn,
not to get in their own way. It is already yours.
It has always been so. Relax, be still, and you will see what I mean.
It has never left you. Your mind, with all of its endless demands,
has taken you away from that clarity.
Can we look at all our spiritual striving and smile at it?
Can we learn not to take the ego seriously, which means we no longer try to change it - ours or anothers?
Can we stop trying to be good and simply relax into a non-judgemental awareness of what our mind gets up to?
Are we willing to say to ourselves, "I am no longer in charge of my spiritual journey. I know nothing. Please teach me."?
Are we ready to awaken from the dream of separation which also includes releasing our attachment to the parts of our dream which do give us satisfaction?
If we can the Course promises us the peace of God. If we are not ready it counsels us not to fight ourselves (T-30.I.1.). The happier parts of the dream still call to us to stay asleep. This is not a sin, simply a painful mistake most of us are making. One day we will tire of all dreaming and finally let the hand of the ego go. Then the light of spirit will be allowed to shine in our mind, the ego will disappear and we will awake to our home in Heaven which we never left.
The acceptance of the Atonement (waking from the dream) by everyone is only a matter of time. This may appear to contradict free will because of the inevitability of the final decision, but this is not so.You can temporize and you are capable of enormous procrastination, but you cannot depart entirely from your Creator, Who set the limits on your ability to miscreate. An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable. Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way. As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point. T-2.III.3:1-7
V. DIALOGUE ON "I NEED DO
There is an important but oft misunderstood section in A Course in Miracles entitled "I Need Do Nothing" (T-18.VII). The following fictional dialogue between a student and teacher is designed to help make clear this section and deal with some of the misunderstandings that arise.
Q. I have been told there is a section in A Course in Miracles entitled "I Need Do Nothing" . Do you know the origin of this passage?
A. Originally that section was not in the Course. It was a message from Jesus to Helen regarding solving a non-existent problem. Helen was living with her husband on the 16th floor of an apartment block in New York. Lift operators were threatening to call a strike and Helen feared getting a heart attack climbing the stairs and being separated from her husband. She decided to stay at a nearby hotel for a week, not realising that the threatened strike was called off before it started. Jesus pointed out that she should have turned to him for the answer and not to her maladaptive solution to a non-existent problem. She needed to do nothing. (from "Absence from Felicity" by Kenneth Wapnick).
Q. Does doing nothing mean I can just sit back and relax from now on?
A. Your ego would love to see this passage as an excuse for idleness, passivity and spiritual inactivity. This is how the Course defines doing nothing:
To do nothing is to rest, and make a place within you where the activity of the body ceases to demand attention. Into this place the Holy Spirit comes, and there abides. T-18.VII.7:7-8
To make a place within you for the Holy Spirit is the Course's path of forgiveness. To be guided by the Holy Spirit requires the mind to be quiet so you can hear His voice. You cannot hear His voice if your mind is full of judgement, whether for yourself or others. Forgiveness is not easy. It requires vigilance, awareness and a recognition that the problem is in our mind and not in the world. This is not brought about by dozing in bed all day but in the 'classroom' of relationships.
Q. O.K, but maybe I need to do as little activity as possible during the day?
A. When the Course states you need do nothing it means that we allow Jesus or the Holy Spirit to do the doing and not us. We no longer do things on our own but allow spirit to work through us. I need do nothing does not mean you won't do anything. This could result in a very active life but as you are not the doer you no longer feel tired. Instead of working from ego energy your strength comes from a higher source. You will no longer do things from guilt and you will never be in a hurry. You will lose the sense of urgency in what you do.
Q. I am finding it hard to believe so little is being asked of me. Surely I need to pursue some worthy task in life like helping the poor or healing the sick?
A. This may be your forgiveness path in life but beware of being attached to results. If your peace is dependent on the outcome of your efforts you will know the ego is in charge and not the Holy Spirit
Anything in this world that you believe is good and valuable and worth striving for can hurt you, and will do so. Not because it has the power to hurt, but just because you have denied it is but an illusion, and made it real. T-26.VI.1:1-2
Q. This all sounds a bit selfish to me. Surely the Holy Spirit needs my help to make this a better world?
A. The only purpose the Holy Spirit sees in this world is as a classroom for healing ourselves.
The sole responsibility of God's teacher is to accept the Atonement for himself. Atonement means correction, or the undoing of errors. When this has been accomplished, the teacher of God becomes a miracle worker by definition. M-18.4:5-7
Our job is first to heal ourselves which will allow the Holy Spirit to then guide our lives making us a beacon of light and love in the world. We will then no longer be driven to fix things in the world: our mere presence will bring healing where it is needed. This does not mean we have to be perfect before we can be of help. Our work may already be in the helping professions. However, we realise that it is in this work we can learn to heal ourselves by learning to lay our egos aside and invite the Holy Spirit to work through us.
Q. But surely I will need to continue my spiritual search, my meditation and contemplation. And then there are all my faults I need to fight against.
A. Searching implies that something is hidden.
Why wait for Heaven? Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes. The light is in them now. Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all. Workbook Lesson 188.
We were created perfect as Christ. The Christ is hidden by veils of judgement which can be removed by forgiveness.
The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence, which is your natural inheritance. T-in.1:6-7
The workbook does contain some meditative exercises but this is not the main thrust of the Course. Forgiveness of our relationships is the main teaching of the Course with the Holy Spirit or Jesus as our guide.
Forgiveness ... is still, and quietly does nothing. .... It merely looks, and waits, and judges not. (W-pII.1.4:1,3)
Meditation, contemplation and fighting against sin are paths but Jesus warns us they are long and tedious.
Enormous effort is expended in the attempt to make holy what is hated and despised. Nor is a lifetime of contemplation and long periods of meditation aimed at detachment from the body necessary. All such attempts will ultimately succeed because of their purpose. Yet the means are tedious and very time consuming, for all of them look to the future for release from a state of present unworthiness and inadequacy. T-18.VI.4:8-11
Q. What about finding the way back to God? I must be responsible for the search.
A. Jesus tells us that if we think we are bodies then we are insane. That makes most us insane and how can the insane know anything of importance let alone the path back to God?
Is it not He Who knows the way to you? You need not know the way to Him. Ask and receive. But do not make demands, nor point the road to God by which He should appear to you. Lesson 189
We are told that our paths are highly individualistic and as such require the guidance of the Holy Spirit. By practising our daily forgiveness lessons we open more to His guidance and He will lead us home.
Q. I still need to make plans. Surely that's all right isn't it?
A. That depends on who is making the plans.
A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to Wisdom that is not its own. It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it. It does not depend upon itself for anything except its adequacy to fulfil the plans assigned to it. It is secure in certainty that obstacles cannot impede its progress to accomplishment of any goal that serves the greater plan established for the good of everyone. Lesson 253
When plans are needed they will be given at the right time and place. We are being asked to get out of the driving seat, to reduce the function of the thinking mind from trying to sort everything out and simply follow plans from a higher source.
J. Krishnamurti said that only confused people make decisions for there is only one right action at any given moment. The ego cannot know this but the Holy Spirit does.
Q. You seem to imply I know nothing of value and should give up all my efforts to improve myself.
A. Who are you trying to improve? If the Christ within you is already perfect that can only leave your ego to improve. If your ego is particularly dysfunctional such that you cannot survive easily then some work to make your ego more confident would be necessary. However, if you are capable of surviving satisfactorily why try and improve your ego. Surely that will only delay the time of awakening to the grandeur of your spiritual reality?
We have mesmerised ourselves into thinking we are bodies and afford them great importance. Most of our time is spent in satisfying their desires, protecting them and making them feel comfortable. Jesus refers to our body as the hero of the dream.
To do anything involves the body. And if you recognize you need do nothing, you have withdrawn the body's value from your mind. Here is the quick and open door through which you slip past centuries of effort, and escape from time. T-18.VII.7:1-3
Q. There does not appear that there is much for me to do. I am told I know nothing and my efforts are delaying my awakening. I am beginning to find all this rather personally insulting!
A. If it's any comfort Jesus agrees with you!
You find it difficult to accept the idea that you need give so little, to receive so much. And it is very hard for you to realize it is not personally insulting that your contribution and the Holy Spirit's are so extremely disproportionate. You are still convinced that your understanding is a powerful contribution to the truth, and makes it what it is. Yet we have emphasized that you need understand nothing. Salvation is easy just because it asks nothing you cannot give right now. T-18.IV.7:3-7
The Course states that all that is required of us is a little willingness. Not a big willingness, as that could be seen as an invitation to the ego to start offering his solutions (which are designed never to work). A little willingness means that we recognise problems are in our mind and not the world, that we can see them differently and find peace and this will happen once we invite the help of Jesus. Simply put, a little willingness means we look at our minds without judgement.
You do not have to seek reality. It will seek you and find you when you meet its conditions. (Peace through forgiveness) ... You need do so little because your little part is so powerful that it will bring the whole to you. Accept, then, your little part, and let the whole be yours. T-8.IX.2:4,5,9,10
Q. I guess I am being asked to be more humble and confess how little I know of importance. I am beginning to sense the possibility of laying a large burden down. What a relief it will be to give up being in charge all the time! I am beginning to see my mind is a useful tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit but a weapon in the hands of my ego. Any last advice?
A. Let's finish from the section of the Course you first asked about;
Save time for me by only this one preparation, and practice doing nothing else. "I need do nothing" is a statement of allegiance, a truly undivided loyalty. Believe it for just one instant, and you will accomplish more than is given to a century of contemplation, or of struggle against temptation. T-18.VII.6:6-8
If you have sufficient humility, are happy to surrender to a power higher than your logical and reasoning mind and let the body lose its dominant importance in your life Jesus offers you a fast way to peace and joy.
W. HOW CAN I HEAR MY
What is the Holy Spirit ?
This article is a continuation of the theme started in the last newsletter. In A Course in Miracles inner guidance is referred to as the communication to us from the Holy Spirit. Kenneth Wapnick's Glossary Index for A Course in Miracles gives the following definition of the Holy Spirit ;
the Third Person of the Trinity Who is metaphorically described in the
Course as God's Answer to the separation; the Communication Link between
God and His separated Sons, bridging the gap between the Mind of Christ
and our split mind; the memory of God and His Son we took with us into
our dream; the One Who sees our illusions (perception), leading us
through them to the truth (knowledge); the Voice for God Who speaks for
Him and for our real Self, reminding us of the Identity we forgot; also
referred to as Bridge, Comforter, Guide, Mediator, Teacher, and Translator.
The Course is written on different levels. Sometimes the Holy Spirit is described as a comforting friend Who seems almost human. In other places He is described in a much more abstract way.
(The Holy Spirit) is the Call to return with which God blessed the minds of His separated Sons.......(He) is God's Answer to the separation; the means by which the Atonement heals........The principle of Atonement and the separation began at the same time. When the ego was made, God placed in the mind the call to joy
The principle of the Atonement is that nothing has happened. We are still at home in Heaven dreaming of the separation (T-10.I.2:1). The function of the Holy Spirit is to awaken us from this dream, not to make the dream a better place by solving our practical problems here.
What the Holy Spirit does not do.
The Holy Spirit is not concerned with form, being aware only of meaning. T-9.I.10:4
Bringing illusion to truth, or the ego to God, is the Holy Spirit’s only function. T-14.IX.1:4
In the bible, and mentioned in the Course, is the story of the prodigal son. Leaving his father's home (Heaven) in search of something more (this world) he eventually ends up disheartened in a pigsty. It would be tempting for him to pray to the Holy Spirit to improve his lot. He might ask for things to make the pigsty more comfortable and entertaining. If the Holy Spirit would grant such wishes, which is impossible, then it would only delay the joyous homecoming of the son to the father. This is an example of trying to bring truth into the illusion and fix it up. The Course states that the only meaningful prayer is to learn forgiveness (T-3.V.6:3) for then we will discover we have been given everything and to ask for things only reinforces our sense of lack.
You whose mind is darkened by doubt and guilt, remember this: God gave the Holy Spirit to you, and gave Him the mission to remove all doubt and every trace of guilt His dear Son had laid upon himself.
The above passage emphasises a loving God with no wish to pass judgement on His one Son who has simply fallen asleep and is experiencing nightmares. The Holy Spirit's only task is to gently steer the prodigal son back home.
The Holy Spirit makes no distinction among dreams. He merely shines them away. T-6.V.4:4
No sacrifice required
The Holy Spirit will direct you only so as to avoid pain. T-7.X.3:1
There is no sacrifice involved in following the Holy Spirit 's guidance
except the sacrifice of our illusions. Our ego will counsel us that things will only get worse if we follow His guidance and we best rely on our experience in life to make decisions.
(The Holy Spirit) will take nothing from you as long as you have any need of it. T-13.VII.12:5
We particularly fear that we might have to give up our relationship, job or way of life. The Course points out that this is rarely asked. Instead we are counselled to change our perceptions of our world instead.
What is required of us?
The Holy Spirit asks of you but this: bring to Him every secret you have locked away from Him. Open every door to Him, and bid Him enter the darkness and lighten it away. At your request He enters gladly. He brings the light to the darkness if you make the darkness open to him. T-14.VIII.6:1-4
Our job is to be willing to look at everything in our minds without judgement. To bring all our dark thoughts into awareness so the Holy Spirit can shine them away. We cannot heal them, only the Holy Spirit. If we keep them hidden healing becomes impossible.
It is not easy or comfortable to face the darkness in us as our ego will rush in to judge what we find. Jesus asks us to learn to smile gently at what we find. They are only nightmares, not sins. If we could damage the Christ in us then that would be a sin. However, our Christ nature is eternal, perfect and unchanging and thus it's impossible to be changed in any way.
Do not leave any spot of pain hidden from the light (of the Holy Spirit), and search your mind carefully for any thoughts you may fear to uncover. T-13.III.7:5
(The Holy Spirit) cannot shine away what you keep hidden, for you have not offered it to Him and He cannot take it from you. T-12.II.9:8
How do I know it's the Holy Spirit talking to me?
The Voice of the Holy Spirit does not command, because it is incapable of arrogance. T-5.II.7:1
It is helpful to imagine the Holy Spirit as a light house in our mind ready to wrap its guiding light around any problem and show us how to be peaceful. Light houses do not do anything - they simply shine. It is up to us to avail ourselves of their help. Light houses do not command a ship to change course to safer waters nor punish those ship's captains who ignore them.
It is the ego that commands and insists we follow its advice and warns us of fearful consequences if we fail to obey it.
It does not demand, because it does not seek control. T-5.II.7:2
The ego always seeks to win at another's expense. Kill or be killed is its motto. The Holy Spirit wants a win-win situation where everyone benefits from His counsel. The Holy Spirit will never demand we follow its advice whilst the ego always will.
It does not overcome, because it does not attack. T-5.II.7:3
The ego believes we must fight to get what we want and thus reinforces our own feeling of inadequacy. The Holy Spirit does not attack because truth needs no defence, only illusions. The stronger the illusion the greater the ego defence.
It merely reminds . It is compelling only because of what it reminds you of. T-5.II.7:4-5
This is the true power of the Holy Spirit - the power to remind us of who we really are, the Christ. Once this memory starts to return we will laugh at the idea that attack can bring us what we want. The ego relies on argument and persuasion to get its way.
It brings to your mind the other way, remaining quiet even in the midst of the turmoil you may make.
No matter how upset we become the Holy Spirit stands as a silent reminder of another way of being.
The Voice for God is always quiet, because it speaks of peace. T-5.II.7:7
In contrast the ego is loud and insistent. If we listen to it it will drown out the Holy Spirit's voice.
Guidance can come in many ways - a quiet knowing, a hunch, an inner voice (rare), a dream, a book, through a conversation etc.
When we first start turning within to hear the Holy Spirit 's guidance it can be difficult to hear it. The ego will dress up as the Holy Spirit and give us what we want to hear. We cannot be sure at the time if it is really the Holy Spirit and not the ego. We need a lot of practice to recognise the true voice and thus we need to be patient and gentle with ourselves otherwise the ego will return by the back door and judge you for being a poor Course student. It is only the ego that applies pressure to do things correctly.
The goal of the Course is inner peace. We need therefore to ask for guidance that will bring us peace. We will know later by observation if our decision takes us towards or away from peace. Of course, some guidance may initially lead to more challenge in our life, for example, if we feel guided to leave our relationships.
There is no point in asking the Holy Spirit to talk louder. Instead, become aware of the ego's voice of judgement and attack which are saying I would rather be right than happy. (T-29.VII.1:9) Justifying our anger blocks hearing the Holy Spirit as His guidance would counsel us thus;
"You never hate your brother for his sins, but only for your own" T-31.III.1:5
Our wanting to be right is our statement we rather listen to the ego than the Holy Spirit. As the ego's voice becomes quieter through forgiveness we can start to hear the Holy Spirit's voice clearer.
Some common traps in seeking guidance.
At the beginning we will fool ourselves many times by getting the answers our egos want us to hear. When Helen Schucman asked for specifics e.g. the dates of death of her friends she was always wrong in the answers she received.
It is possible even in this world to hear only that Voice and no other. It takes effort and great willingness to learn. It is the final lesson that I learned, and God's Sons are as equal as learners as they are as Sons.
When we ask for guidance it is difficult to be open to any answer. Instead we are tempted to offer the Holy Spirit our choice of answers from which He can choose. However, if the correct answer is not within these choices no accurate guidance can be forthcoming.
St. John of the Cross (16th century) was quite familiar it seems with peoples illusions around guidance:
“And I am appalled at what happens in these days — namely,
when some soul with a penny’s worth of meditation experience, if
it be conscious of certain locutions [voices] of this kind in some
states of recollection, at once christens them all as coming from
God.... This happens very commonly, and many persons are
greatly deceived by it, thinking that they have attained to a high
degree of prayer and are receiving communications from God.
Wherefore, they either write this down or cause it to be written,
and it turns out to be nothing, and to have the substance of no
virtue, and it serves only to encourage them in vanity.”
We are tempted to want to receive guidance that upholds our specialness, earthly wishes and individuality.
We need to beware of feeling enthusiasm when we think we have received guidance. Most likely we are just hearing what we wanted to hear. True guidance comes without a big fan fare - it's a quiet knowing what we must do.
Beware of signs. I may feel "guided" to go to India and seek a wise teacher feeling that would solve all my problems. In fact, I feel quite excited by the prospect. I then see a photo of India and take it as confirmation of my guidance. The ego will seek out these signs to reinforce its guidance to us.
Striving to be more spiritual is another block to hearing. The ego is back in charge. But we do not know the way to God, He does. Our job is to practise daily forgiveness, the awakening will then happen by itself.
To ask the Holy Spirit to decide for you is simply to accept your true inheritance. Does this mean that you cannot say anything without consulting Him? No, indeed! That would hardly be practical, and it is the practical with which this course is most concerned. M-29.5
It is another trap to think we can't make any decisions without first asking the Holy Spirit.
If you have made it a habit to ask for help when and where you can, you can be confident that wisdom will be given you when you need it. M-29.5:8
The Course assures us that if we need plans they will be given to us at the right time. Thus there is no need to worry about the future. Jesus tells us we have been badly taught and need to resign as our own teacher (T-12.V.8:3). He also knows we find this personally insulting to be told we know nothing of true value and this will delay our progress until humility starts to dawn in our minds.
If our days are dedicated to peace, kindness and forgiveness we open the door to being quietly led by the Holy Spirit through all of life's challenges. We are asked to have "a little willingness" to leave behind our desire to control all that happens in our lives, to stop holding the hand of the ego and instead pick up the hand of the Holy Spirit or Jesus.
If you are willing to renounce the role of guardian of your thought system and open it to me, I will correct it very gently and lead you back to God. T4.I.4:7
X. SUMMARY OF A
COURSE IN MIRACLES
(See also - Summary of A Course in Miracles-1 from Healing the Cause)
In Miracles and Forgiveness
Reprinted from the The Findhorn Book of Forgiveness. Findhorn Press
by Michael Dawson www.acfip.org
- See chart -
Origin of the Course:
The Course came as an answer to a call for help from two people, Dr. Helen Schucman and Dr. William Thetford, professors of medical psychology at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. They worked together in a prestigious and highly academic setting. Their relationship was difficult with each often blaming the other for their own lack of peace. One day, to Helen's surprise, Bill announced, "there must be another way" in which they could relate to each other. Helen agreed to join him to find out what this better way could be. This is an example of what the Course would call a ‘Holy Instant’ where, instead of seeking to separate from another, a decision is made to join in a common goal. Almost immediately Helen began to experience a heightened awareness, highly symbolic dreams and strange images which lasted three months and preceded the actual writing of the Course. She also started to hear an inner voice which she knew to be Jesus. This was a further shock to Helen who described herself as atheistic in belief. During October 1965 Jesus told Helen, "This is A Course In Miracles, please take notes". Helen described this voice in the following way:
It made no sound, but seemed to be giving me a kind of rapid, inner dictation which I took down in a shorthand notebook. The writing was never automatic. It could be interrupted at anytime and later picked up again. (Preface to A Course in Miracles)
Helen would take down what the voice said and the following day, before work started, Bill would type it up. This process lasted seven years with the Course being published in 1976.
What the Course consists of:
The Course consists of three books: Text, Workbook for Students and Manual for Teachers arranged in a self-study format. The text sets forth the thought system of the Course and is largely theoretical. The concepts in the text are practically applied through the 365 lessons of the Workbook, one for each day of the year. The Manual for Teachers provided answers to the more common questions a student might ask.
Two supplements to the Course were published later entitled Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice and The Song of Prayer.
What the Course says:
The Course makes it clear that it is not the only spiritual path we should follow - There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome (M.1.4:2). Although anyone can derive benefit from the Course it will not appeal to everyone. It is written on a high intellectual level and for most of us it requires a life time of patient study and practice.
Many Christian terms are used and there are over 700 references to the Bible. However, the Course uses many of these terms with entirely different implications. We are not depicted as sinful, guilty creatures who have displeased God and are thus worthy of punishment unless we sacrifice and atone for our sins. Instead our sinless, formless spiritual nature is emphasised. Jesus seeks to awaken us to this truth about ourselves through his path of forgiveness.
The Course’s Christian context is often a problem for students. However, the Course emphasises we are never upset by what we perceive in the world but only the unforgiven content of our mind that the world is mirroring back to us. In this way we can even use the Course’s language to help us with forgiveness.
A similar problem often exists for students with regard to Jesus being the author of the Course. As he says of himself:
I am constantly being perceived as a teacher to be exalted or rejected, but I do not accept either perception of myself. .... Some bitter idols have been made of him who would be only brother to the world. Forgive him your illusions, and behold how dear a brother he would be to you. (T-4.I.6:7, C-5.5:7-8)
Here again we are being given an opportunity to see what the symbol of Jesus is reflecting back to us. For those wishing to explore this further please see my article Forgiving Jesus on my website (www.acfip.org).
The Course is written on two levels - metaphysical and practical. Metaphysics investigates what is truth and what is illusion. The following quotation is from the metaphysical level of the course.
You dwell not here, but in eternity.
You travel but in dreams, while safe at home.
The practical teachings of the Course seek to awake us to the reality contained in that statement.
Jesus teaches us that this universe is not our real home. What is true is eternal which means it was never born. Anything that has a beginning must have an end and as such is not real. As God is eternal so must His creations be. His creations exist outside of time and space and therefore can not be threatened by change or death. What we mistakenly take as real changes all the time and death can strike at any moment. The Course sums this up on the first page of the Text:
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God
Our true reality is really eternal, changeless, perfect formless spirit in complete oneness with God. What God did not create does not exist, apart from in a dream. In contrast our world is one of form, bound by time, is always changing and is far from perfect. Thus God could not of made this physical universe or know of its existence. What we take as reality, this time-space world, is really a dream from which forgiveness will awaken us. Its only value is as a classroom of forgiveness.
Of course, the world does not seem like a dream to most of us. But then our dreams last night also seemed real when we were dreaming them. Why does the Course refer to the universe as a dream? The symbology of the Adam and Eve story in the Old Testament can help us here. Adam and Eve were happy in the garden (Heaven) until an idea came that perhaps things could be even better if they ate of the forbidden fruit. This fruit is described in the Course as the thought of separation and is referred to as the ego. To be separate from God and do our own thing is impossible. But to dream of it is not. In our desire for autonomy and individuality the Course says we fell asleep so our wishes could come true in our dreams.
Into this dream we bring fearful thoughts of what we have done to our creator. Believing we have knocked God off his throne and stolen his power has left us with a strong thought that we have sinned. This thought must leave us feeing very guilty and we expect there will be a just punishment forthcoming from God. This is depicted in Genesis as God storming into the garden of Eden looking for the two transgressors who are trying to hide from his retribution behind a bush. On being caught they turn to their ego’s for advice on how to handle this situation. The ego’s advice is, as always, to deny and project. “It’s not my fault,” protests Adam, “It was Eve who tempted me”. “But I was persuaded by the snake,” protests Eve. It’s love that makes Heaven “go around” but in our dream world it has become guilt.
Now “we travel but in dreams”, forgetting we are “safe at home”. We seem to have got what we wanted - separation in exchange for the oneness of God and His creation which the Course calls the Christ. Jesus describes himself in the Course as a man who remembered he was the Christ, as we all are. The Christ shares in the love and majesty of God for there is only a perfect oneness in Heaven. Heaven cannot be understood by us who only know time and space, it has to be experienced.
In this dream we strive to be happy believing that with enough time and opportunity the world will provide us with what we want. “If only I can find the right partner, earn enough money, maintain my health, live long, become successful in my job, etc. then I will be happy,” we say to ourselves. Even if all the conditions are met there will always be a lurking fear in the back of our minds that any of these conditions could so easily change. The stock market could crash, our partner may get sick, war could be declared and so forth. We seem to prefer all this uncertainty to honestly saying to ourselves, “I have been wrong. There can never be any lasting peace here. Perhaps there is another way.” (T-30.I.12) And like the prodigal son, in the end all living things will decide to return to their loving Father in Heaven.
The world we have appeared to make is based on murder. We believe, in our unconscious, we had to kill God and take His power to make our world. This thought now manifests here in our dream as every living thing needs to kill something else to continue living and spend much of its time protecting itself or its young from being killed in turn. In the last century over 100 million people died in wars and many more were maimed, raped and tortured. We might say that we are vegetarians but still another life form must always die for us to continue. In contrast to Heaven (where need does not exist) ours is a world of scarcity where we fight over the resources. We need to ask ourselves the question, “Could a loving God have created such a world?” (T-13.in.3)
Forgiveness is the ‘other way’ which seeks to gently wake us from our nightmare of separation and murder and return us to the awareness of our true home in Heaven. This dream seems so real that without help we would never awaken. When the separation from God appeared to happen (it never did in reality) we took with us into the dream a memory of God (to borrow a phrase from Dr. Kenneth Wapnick) we could never quite forget. The Course calls this the Holy Spirit and without His help we cannot awaken. In this book I have referred to the Holy Spirit as our inner guide.
The Holy Spirit is described as the remaining communication link between God and His separated Sons. In order to fulfil this special function the Holy Spirit has assumed a dual function. He knows because He is part of God; He perceives because He was sent to save humanity. (C-6.3:1-3 )
The Holy Spirit knows the truth of our oneness with God but also recognises our illusions so that He can teach us how to overlook them. Jesus is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and is ever present to help us with our lessons of forgiveness if we but invite him in. As Jesus has transcended his ego his patience is infinite and he will stay with us until the end of time to help us all wake up.
After the seeming separation from God our minds became split into three parts, the ego, the Holy Spirit and the sleeping Son of God who has to decide which of the two voices to listen to. Although the Holy Spirit is always present in our minds ready to teach us another way of looking at the world, we fear to turn to Him for help. We think we have successfully abandoned God, broken up Heaven in the process and escaped into our self-made world where He cannot find us. To have God’s representative in our mind, the Voice for God, is frightening and we prefer to turn to our ego for help. “After all, does not the Holy Spirit work for God,” we exclaim! “And if we turn to Him for help He will punish us for our sins”.
Without the Holy Spirit’s help we are really lost as we have only the advice of the ego left. The ego is a thought we have made and, like any creation, wants to live. Its advice to us is only to ensure its own survival. Its counsel is that to escape from our dreadful feelings of guilt over the separation we need to deny the problem and project it onto the world. Until we learn to try another way we are doomed to repeat our errors. This reinforces our guilt which in turn maintains the ego thought system. The ego’s ‘food’ is guilt and following its advice will always lead to creating more guilt.
Although we seemed to have achieved the goal of separation and individuality we are left feeling that there is something missing in our lives, we no longer feel complete. The Holy Spirit would tell us that what is missing is the oneness with all life and God. But fearing this Voice we have only the ego thought system to turn to. The ego tells us that there is something lacking in us and we can only find it by looking in the world for it. We try to fill the bottomless pit in ourselves by plunging into work, eating, drinking, sex, entertainment and above all by ‘falling in love’. Another person or object now becomes our substitute for God - what the Course describes as a ‘special love’ relationship. As long as each person fulfils the needs of the other the couple remains content for a time. But soon as one breaks this bargain the old feeling of emptiness arises. The door over the inner pain opens again and we try desperately to close it. Our ego will counsel us to attack the other in the hope that s/he will become guilty enough to change his or her behaviour. If this fails the relationship is likely to end and another sought instead.
At this difficult time we could also turn to forgiveness instead of attack. The strife we are experiencing will seem all too familiar. We can ask ourselves, “Perhaps there is another way of looking at this situation. What can I lose by trying?” (Lesson 33) This is an invitation to bring the power of the Holy Spirit into our minds. Our partner can be transformed from enemy to saviour becoming a mirror to our guilt. The relationship is now transformed into the goal of a holy relationship where truth and forgiveness and not ego needs take first place. Nor does it take the other to think this way for it is our change of perception that will bring us peace. The relationship may still end but the forgiveness learnt will take us one more step to peace.
We do not have to learn about love, truth and joy for that was eternally given us and but awaits our welcome.(T-13.VII.9) What we do need to do is to remove the blocks to that awareness and that is the role of forgiveness. Our world is a world where perception rules. (This is unknown in Heaven - in perfect oneness there is nothing to perceive.) Our need is to correct our perception with the aid of the Holy Spirit or Jesus.
What we think is what we perceive. Believing separation to be real that is exactly what we perceive around us. But when we awaken from the dream and realise all is one we can only perceive everything as part of ourselves. To attack another will then be impossible as it will seem as if we are stamping on our own feet. Everyone here perceives a different world because no two people think exactly the same. We can observe this in ourselves when we change moods. When we feel happy the world looks a far nicer place than when we are distressed.
Forgiveness teaches us that the world but reflects our thinking and therefore it is pointless to try to change the world to make ourselves happy. As I quoted earlier:
Projection makes perception. The world you see is what you gave it, nothing more than that. But though it is no more than that, it is not less. Therefore, to you it is important. It is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition. As a man thinketh, so does he perceive. Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world. (T-21.in.1:1-7)
Of course, we all have our preferences with regard to clothes, climate, food, etc., which is normally linked to our conditioning. There is nothing wrong in this. However, understanding that what we perceive in the world is mirroring our state of mind is the road to lasting peace and joy. Now we have the power, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, to change our mind about the world. We realise its foolish to blame people and circumstances for our unhappiness. Nobody and nothing has that power over us. Until this is seen we are forced to defend the world we have made up by using defence and attack. It takes a lot of work to prop up our illusions about ourselves. If we are invested in being a victim we are forced to see a world populated by persecutors just waiting to have a go at us. Our perception of the world becomes highly selective, filtering out what does not support our beliefs and selecting that which reinforces them. Life now becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Forgiveness is a process where we start to learn our perceptual errors and decide we wish to see things differently. As we correct out perceptions we begin to undo the blocks we have created and true perception or spiritual vision starts to dawn on our minds. The world we once saw as a hostile place out to attack us was but merely mirroring our own belief that attack will get us what we want. When we think anger would get us something of value we also believe others will be thinking the same. This must result in us feeling insecure for now we are waiting to be attacked. This is why Jesus asks us to teach what we want to learn. (T-6.I.6.)
Forgiving this false perception immediately transforms the world we live in. Now, when others attack us we can see they think like we once did and do not realise they are actually reinforcing their own sense of vulnerability. Our new perception is that their attack is a call for our help. (T-12.I.5) Not that they are aware of this, which does not matter, it is that we are now aware of what they are doing as we have forgiven this behaviour in ourselves. Wishing to reinforce the love we feel growing within us we are happy to extend our love to those who attack us.
The form our behaviour will take we cannot know in advance, for what we have learned is under the direction of the Holy Spirit to which we are learning to turn more and more. If we are judged or attacked by another we may be guided to say something, to remain silent, to walk away - the appropriate loving response will be given if we are open to our inner guide.
To the ego the body is its home. How the body looks, what others think of it becomes of prime importance. When it is sick or in pain it is easy for us to focus on the seeming reality of the world. Now the Holy Spirit seems a liar as we say, “Don’t tell me this world is not real. I am in pain!”. But the body does not have a mind of its own. It must be told by the sleeping Son of God what it must feel, when it is to be born and die, whether to be sick or well. With the ego as our guide we play the game of making our body our reality. Once we change our allegiance to the Holy Spirit the body’s function will change. Now the body is perceived as a loving tool of communication instead of as a weapon of attack. This will also produce gains in vitality and health. The purpose of the body will change, no longer being seen as who we think we are. Instead it becomes a vehicle in which we can learn our lessons in our daily classrooms of forgiveness.
How long this journey home takes is entirely up to us. All the answers to all our problems are existing in this present moment, just waiting to be accepted. The Holy Spirit sees time as an illusion we have made as we could have no separate world without it. The ego relies on its past experience to try and solve present problems, and always fails. The Holy Spirit’s answers to our problems are like gifts just waiting to be unwrapped and received. We do not have to earn them or suffer or pray to receive them but simply want them with all our heart. The Holy Spirit will never go against our free will but will come instantly if He is made wholly welcome. (T-13.III.9) But while we think we know better and trust the counsel of our ego the gifts must wait for the day we are ready to accept them. These gifts are but various forms of forgiveness perfectly tailored to match the complexity of our problems. In time we learn His way works and will turn more and more to Him for help.
Step by step as we tread the path of forgiveness, we will be kindly and gently led from our nightmares to happy dreams of forgiveness. (T-13.VII.9) The world we once perceived as dark and threatening will start to be perceived differently. Former enemies are now perceived as our saviours as they offer us the chance to forgive what we have been projecting onto them. Our days become dedicated to finding peace through forgiveness. Our bodies gain vitality as they serves a holy purpose, no longer being perceived as our identity. When all our lessons are finally learnt we will perceive the Christ in all living things. We realise that there is nothing to forgive for what God created is perfect and needs no forgiveness. Further, having left our ego behind there is nothing unhealed to project and therefore nothing to forgive.
With forgiveness complete we enter what the Course calls ‘the real world’. It is still this world but seen differently. Now we walk quietly in peace. Finding the Christ within our own mind it is now impossible to see anything else in the world. People are perceived as either giving love or asking for it. (T-12.II.1) This is the judgement of the Holy Spirit and so becomes ours. Whether the body lives or dies is not important. It will be known when it is time to lay it aside, just as everything else is known. Choice has gone to be replaced by an inner certainty and the need for forgiveness is over.
Y. A Full Heart and an Empty Mind
The title for this article comes from a book by J Krishnamurti.
There is no path to truth, it must come to you. Truth can come to you only when your mind and heart are simple, clear, and there is love in your heart; not if your heart is filled with the things of the mind. ....This means that you must strip yourself of all those things and allow truth to come into being; and it can come only when the mind is empty,when the mind ceases to create. Then it will come without your invitation. Then it will come as swiftly as the wind and unbeknown. It comes obscurely, not when you are watching,wanting. It is there as sudden as sunlight, as pure as the night; but to receive it, the heart must be full and the mind empty. Now you have the mind full and your heart empty."
from The Book of Life: Daily Meditations with J. Krishnamurti
This quotation contains important help on our path of spiritual awakening which I will explore in this article. An analogy found in other spiritual paths is connected with a bird flying. It cannot fly without two wings. In the same way we need to cultivate our heart qualities as well as quieting our minds. Perhaps if a bird had only one wing it would fly in circles - something to ponder on!
There is a story that illustrates the need for both kindness and insight. One day kindness and insight were walking along a river bank when suddenly a baby came floating past them. Kindness immediately jumped into the water and rescued the child. They continued their walk until a second baby was seen floating past. Again, kindness jumped in and rescued the child. No sooner had kindness and insight started to debate these strange happenings when a third child came floating by. At this moment insight ran off along the river bank. "Where are you going?" exclaimed kindness. "I am going to see who keeps throwing them in" replied insight.
A story told by Ramana Maharshi also illustrates the need for balance. A famous guru was particularly adept at quieting his mind for long periods. He had the ability to stay without thoughts for days at a time. One day he announced to his disciples that he was going into a trance for a long time and ordered water to be brought to him. However, before one of his disciples could return from the river he was already in deep meditation. As the days went by his disciples became bored and started to leave him. Eventually all deserted him. One day a few weeks later the guru came out of his thought free state and exclaimed with irritation "Where is my water!"
It is possible to achieve pleasant quiet states of mind in meditation but until the underlying judgements and grievances we all carry are exposed and forgiven the noisy mind will always return once our meditations have ceased. There is, of course, value in starting the day quietly with God. The Course recommends this in the section "How should a teacher of God spend his day" (M-16). Starting the day this way helps us when we meet our first forgiveness challenge, which usually happens fairly quickly after the meditation ends!
When I was 16 my perception of myself and the world drastically changed. It's as if I took off my-rose coloured spectacles and saw the nature of myself and the world clearly. I was shocked to see how little love there was in me and in the world about me. Everyone seemed to be locked into there own self-interests. People said they fell in love but I clearly saw they were falling into needs. As long as those needs were met they stayed 'in love' otherwise they separated. Many years later I was to read about these dynamics in A Course in Miracles. Whilst Jesus described them in horrifying detail it was also obvious he had no judgement against the ego and its dynamics. However, my teenage awareness and insights were not tempered with kindness and compassion and I grew bitter and cynical with the world. This is an example of what the Course calls "making the error real". I was trying to fly on one wing through life and it was making me unhappy and isolated. Everyone here is looking for happiness, usually in the wrong direction, and I lost the opportunity then to extend kindness, gentleness and compassion to others as well as myself. I may have been right in my observations but certainly not happy as the Course points out (T-29.VII.1:9)
My religion is very simple.
My religion is kindness.
An Empty Mind
Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. Hold onto nothing. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God. (Lesson 189)
To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold. Not one can be kept hidden and obscure but it will jeopardize your learning. No belief is neutral. (T-24.in.2:1-3)
The memory of God comes to the quiet mind. It cannot come where there is conflict, for a mind at war against itself remembers not eternal gentleness. (T-23.I.1)
Identification with our thoughts is very strong. Without awareness and vigilance we will not get the insights we need to break the stranglehold of thought. Vigilant awareness leads to insight. When a child is first drawn to the beauty of a candle flame it is unaware of the dangers. It reaches out to touch the flame and is surprised and distraught at the pain it feels. The insight is immediate. She makes the connection between fire and pain and does not repeat the action. She does not turn to her mother and ask to read a book on how not to touch candle flames. She does not sign up for a workshop on the dangers of candles. She knows not to do that again. That is the power of insight. No one asks the how question after an insight. This is why all genuine spiritual paths stress the need for awareness - to watch yourself without judgement, what the Course would call forgiveness.
Forgiveness ... is still, and quietly does nothing. .... It merely looks, and waits, and judges not. (W-pII.1.4:1,3)
People caught in "how" questions can also fall into the trap of the "Yes but" mind game. No matter how many how's are given them to help their problems they are reluctant to change and continue to ask for more how's. But if they experience insight brought about by vigilant awareness of their activities there is no need for hows anymore. They simply won't repeat what's painful.
As insight develops the mind naturally becomes quieter and emptier. If you directly see that holding judgements and grievances cost you dearly in peace you will will start to drop them. As space starts to be created in the mind truth has room to enter and guide your life.
You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgment. (T-3.VI.3:1)
If you but knew the glorious goal that lies beyond forgiveness, you would not keep hold on any thought, however light the touch of evil on it may appear to be. For you would understand how great the cost of holding anything God did not give in minds that can direct the hand to bless, and lead God's Son unto his Father's house. (T-29.V.6:1-2)
The realisation how little we know of importance leads the way to humility. Yes, we may know much about the ego's world of separation and how to 'succeed' here but what do we know about a lasting joy and peace that is not dependent on anything in this world? As we start to experience humility we allow the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide us out of our dream of separation and back to the awareness of our spiritual reality.
You do not know the meaning of anything you perceive. Not one thought you hold is wholly true. The recognition of this is your firm beginning. You are not misguided; you have accepted no guide at all. Instruction in perception is your great need, for you understand nothing. Recognize this but do not accept it, for understanding is your inheritance. Perceptions are learned, and you are not without a Teacher. Yet your willingness to learn of Him depends on your willingness to question everything you learned of yourself, for you who learned amiss should not be your own teacher.
If you are willing to renounce the role of guardian of your thought system and open it to me, I will correct it very gently and lead you back to God.
Love begins when thinking ends.
A Full Heart
As you come closer to a brother you approach me, and as you withdraw from him I become distant to you. Salvation is a collaborative venture. It cannot be undertaken successfully by those who disengage themselves from the Sonship, because they are disengaging themselves from me. God will come to you only as you will give Him to your brothers. (T-4.VI.8:1-4)
Let me not think that I can find the way to God, if I have hatred in my heart. Let me not try to hurt God's Son, and think that I can know his Father or my Self.
The above two quotes highlight the truth that you cannot return to peace in isolation from others. You may be able to achieve an empty mind in meditation but if your heart is not open to others, if you have not learned your lessons of forgiveness, you are a bird with one wing only.
Extending simple kindness, gentleness, compassion and forgiveness to yourself and others leads to the full heart. Practising these is a movement in the opposite direction to the ego and thus undoes the separation allowing the memory of God and who you really are to return.
The bottom line is that kindness and gentleness to all people, regardless of their situation, should be our guiding principle.
Kenneth Wapnick (www.facim.org)
The Course does not ask us to unconditionally love. To try that would only increase our level of guilt for failure would result. True love awaits us at the top of the spiritual ladder back home. We are either spontaneously capable of unconditional love like Jesus or not. There is no effort involved as it will naturally be there once the false idea of separation is gone. Until that wonderful day dawns we can make an effort to give kindness and gentleness instead of anger and judgement and we have the Holy Spirit to teach us how to do it. Effort is required until we reach the stage of no effort.
The Holy Spirit is in you in a very literal sense. His is the Voice that calls you back to where you were before and will be again. It is possible even in this world to hear only that Voice and no other. It takes effort and great willingness to learn. It is the final lesson that I (Jesus) learned, and God's Sons are as
As our heart grows we will need the wisdom that awareness brings. An open heart just wants to give but balance is needed. For example, a healer who cannot say no will eventually experience burn out. The Holy Spirit will guide us to who needs our help - He is the one who chooses which miracle we need to perform and to whom. Although someone may ask for our help the Holy Spirit will know if we are the best person to help or whether another is better suited. We must remain vigilant to hear His guidance for us. Humility teaches us that He knows best and increasingly we pass decisions to Him. As our insight grows we realise "I need do nothing" (T-18.VII) and let Him lead the way.
Your present trust in Him is the defense that promises a future undisturbed, without a trace of sorrow, and with joy that constantly increases, as this life becomes a holy instant, set in time, but heeding only immortality. Lesson 135
Z. What Can I Do With My Anger?
The Cause of Anger.
When anger arises within us we normally respond in one of two ways, either we repress it or express it. If we choose to repress our anger we internalise its energy and project it onto our bodies causing sickness. If, on the other hand, we express our anger we project it out onto other bodies in the attempt to make them feel guilty for their actions toward us. In this way we hope to make them plead guilty for their behaviour and thus take responsibility and blame for our pain. This is summed up in the following way:
All anger is nothing more than an attempt to make someone feel guilty.
A Course in Miracles T-15.VII.10
But if we look deeper at anger we see that underneath it is fear, and this is the real issue that must be understood. Fear is present in our minds when we expect punishment, and it is guilt that demands punishment.
Where does this guilt come from? Most of our guilt is buried deeply in our unconscious and we are not aware of it. Our guilt is like an iceberg, only a little shows in our awareness. Guilt is the total of all the negative beliefs we have about ourselves - our lack self worth, our self hatred, etc. We feel this guilt not only when we judge ourselves or others but also when we receive spontaneous appreciations and gifts. We believe we do not deserve to be treated this well. To feel guilt implies that we have judged ourselves as sinners.
You are not really capable of being tired, but you are very capable of wearying yourself. 6 The strain of constant judgment is virtually intolerable. It is curious that an ability so debilitating would be so deeply cherished.
A Course in Miracles T-3.VI.5.
So, now we have discovered that what Dr. Kenneth Wapnick ( www.facim.org) calls the 'unholy trinity' of sin, guilt and fear must lie buried in our unconscious. This trinity is the foundation of a thought system in our mind which can be called the ego. We created the ego when we first thought of trying to separate from God. The ego is literally the thought of separation and our belief that we have achieved this. Although this is impossible, we can dream that we have achieved this and that now we are in charge of everything! However, to believe that we have achieved this separation is also to believe we have greatly sinned against God - and this is the source of all our deep-rooted sense of sin. From this sense of sin comes great guilt at the thought that we are responsible for breaking up Heaven into pieces and walking out. This belief is mirrored in the bible story of Adam and Eve. When God discovers Adam and Eve have broken his command to not eat the apple Adam immediately projects the fault onto Eve and then Eve blames the snake. And it seems the world has never stopped blaming from that moment!
God now becomes our enemy to Whom we can no longer turn for help and from Whom we expect a justified revenge for our actions. We cannot tolerate this guilt and in listening to the counsel of the ego we deny it and project it out of our minds. In this way we magically hope to get rid of the guilt in our minds by putting it elsewhere, either onto our own body or onto others. The problem of our guilt is now seen outside our minds and thus we have protected ourselves from consciously experiencing it. The problem of guilt is safely out there in the world and not in our minds. All this happens without our conscious awareness for it seems to us that we have been attacked and our anger is justified. We do not realise that our hidden guilt has been triggered by someone else and we react immediately by looking in the other direction for the cause - the world out there. Thus the ego's thought system is fully protected and our desire to remain separate from God is kept safe from inspection. Of course, the guilt is still there and will be increased when we project our guilt as anger onto another person, for at some level we know that our attack is unjustified and is designed to make another responsible for our sense of sin. Ultimately we want them to be responsible for the separation from God, not us. The ego is always looking for scapegoats.
Anger cannot occur unless you believe you have been attacked, that your attack is justified in return, and you are in no way responsible for it.
A Course in Miracles T-6.in.1
The increase in guilt which we feel after we have attacked someone may be felt as a state of depression. The counsel of our ego is to get rid of this guilt by further projection and thus the ego's vicious circle of guilt and attack is maintained. Our ego wants us to believe that the separation has really happened. If we ever find out that, You are at home in God dreaming of exile but perfectly capable of awakening to reality.T-10.I.2, it would be the end of our belief in the ego. As long as we believe projection will save us we will focus on the problems out there in the world, either our sick bodies or on the perceived attacks from others. Either diversionary tactic suits the ego for it prevents us looking into our minds where the source of the problem is - our guilt that is based on a false sense of sin. This explains our great investment in holding onto our anger. We think it saves us from looking at the horror of our sin and guilt that the ego has convinced us we have committed against God. While our problems are perceived outside our minds we can never be healed. Instead we demand the world changes to please us. If the world does not, we feel justified in getting angry at the person or situation 'responsible'. Our hope is that our anger will make them feel guilty and let us off the hook.
Perhaps it will be helpful to remember that no one can be angry at a fact. It is always an interpretation that gives rise to negative emotions, regardless of their seeming justification by what appears as facts. Regardless, too, of the intensity of the anger that is aroused.
A Course in Miracles M-17.4.
Healing Our Anger.
The guilt we all carry is huge. We need to chip away at this iceberg bit by bit. Whenever we get angry, no matter what the reason, our guilt has surfaced. We now get another chance to either reduce it through forgiveness or increase it by projection, (See my article "How Can I Forgive?"). To condemn our anger plays into the hands of the ego for it will only increase our level of guilt.
When you next get angry try to accept the emotion and remind yourself that attack is never justified. And that would be great progress! I remember a time when I was registering participants in a workshop at the Findhorn Foundation. During a quiet time a colleague of mine came up to me and discharged the anger she was feeling about me and then left. I was left feeling fearful and angry and concerned about meeting the next participant in my workshop. Thinking that this was an ideal time to practise what I teach I grabbed a newspaper and held it in front of my face, pretending to read it. I then tried to accept fully the feelings I was experiencing without judging myself or my colleague. I became aware of physical sensations in my chest area and watched them with acceptance. After a while they began to move in my body and I simply watched them travel around until after a few minutes, all fear and anger had gone and I felt joyous. I even felt grateful to my colleague for a chance to practise acceptance!
Forgiveness ... is still, and quietly does nothing. .... It merely looks, and waits, and judges not.
A Course in Miracles W-pII.1.4
If you find yourself venting your anger at someone, try to tell them it's your problem, not theirs, and that for the moment you can't help yourself getting angry at them. In this way you are not giving so much importance to anger which means that you are taking your ego less seriously. After a burst of anger say to yourself "So what's new? I had another ego attack, that's all. It's no big deal."
As you continue to use these approaches you will steadily weaken the hold your ego has on you until you can start to laugh gently at it. When finally we reduce our investment in anger and allow our guilt to be dissolved with the aid of God's help, the love and peace of God will automatically fill our minds again. We will wake from our self-imposed dream of separation and the ego will vanish into the nothingness from which it came. And then we will realise that our anger was but a protection from the love of God.
You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgement. When you recognise what you are and what your brothers are, you will realise that judging them in any way is without meaning. In fact their meaning is lost to you precisely because you are judging them.
A Course in Miracles T-3.VI.3
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