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Miracles versus Magic

Excerpts from the Workshop held at the
Foundation for A Course in Miracles
Temecula CA

Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

 

Part III
Introduction (conclusion)

Referring to Freud again, he learned right at the beginning of his analytic work how important it was to deal with his patients' resistance, because otherwise they would not get better. It was a brilliant insight. You find the same insight in A Course in Miracles; except it is a little more subtle in the Course. It is important to pay attention to your resistance. You do not want the miracle; you want magic. You want this course to work magically. You want Jesus to be like Merlin and wave a magic wand to make your ego go away. What students typically want to do is turn over and bring to the Holy Spirit all their problems so that they do not have to deal with them. That is why there is that very important passage in the text right at the beginning of "The Fear of Redemption" in Chapter 13:

"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" (T-13.III.1:1-2).

The reason these two lines are in the Course is that Jesus knows his students. He knows that we do not want to look at our ego but would rather just give it to him, in the magical hope that that will take care of it. Well, the very fact that we do not want to look at it is giving it a reality, a power, and a strength it does not have. Therefore, there is no way Jesus can take it from us. We have to bring it to him, meaning we have to hold it in our hands and look at it, and then give it to him. That is the difference between magic and the miracle. Magic wants him to take care of it without our doing anything.

It is very important—crucial—that you look at your resistance to learning this course. Learning it intellectually is the first problem; but after that the real problem is the experience of it. There is tremendous resistance to having this course permeate your life, your whole way of thinking and perceiving, and, ultimately, your whole way of behaving. If you are not aware of that, the workbook will help you become aware of it. However, if you are compulsive, then you will see to it that you think of God five or six times every hour, as a number of lessons would tell you, or you will buy a special watch that will go off every ten minutes so that you will think of God. That is not what Jesus is talking about, and not what he wants you to do. He is not interested in how many times you think of the lesson each day. He is much more interested in how many times you do not think of the lesson each day and then forgive yourself for it.

Again, it is extremely important that you recognize your investment in magic, because you are a creature of magic. What literally made the body was the magical attempt to flee from the wrath of God in your mind, which comes from your belief in your guilt, which comes from your belief that you have sinfully and selfishly separated from God. None of that happened. That is why, again, we speak about the body and the world as a "maladaptive solution to a nonexistent problem." Why, in your right mind, would you ever want Jesus or the Holy Spirit to help you with a nonexistent problem or with a nonexistent solution to a nonexistent problem? Why would you want Them to help you find a better solution to a nonexistent problem? Would it not make much more sense to ask Jesus to help you look at your mind and your guilt so that you could recognize at last that there is nothing there? That makes sense. That is not magic. What you want to do is borrow his eyes and share his vision, so that, with him, you can look on devastation and realize that what you are looking on is false—it never happened (W-pII.13.1:3).

To restate this, what Jesus helps us to do in this course is examine the core of our ego thought system, which is our resistance to letting it go. Since the ego is us, why did we make it be this self? Why did we identify with it? There has to be a reason. The explanation for our identifying with the ego is the same reason for the resistance to letting go of the ego: cherishing our separated self That is why the Course spends so much time talking about the ego. I have been saying for many years that for a spiritual text to come from such an advanced source to deal with the ego sounds incredible, but that is what this course does. It is written for spiritual children, spiritual infants. In that sense, it is written on a very low level, even though it comes from the highest level, from an ego-free level. But it is all about the ego and learning to identify its thought system, learning to understand how and why its thought system works, and the purpose for that thought system; and finally, to understand at last, why we do not want to let it go. The Psychotherapy pamphlet explains why we cherish our guilt and hug it close—that is what he says: "its hugging-close" (P-2.VI.1:3). Why would we cherish guilt when it is nonexistent, just another form of magic? We cherish it because it clothes our magical self.

That is why the distinction between miracles and magic is so crucial. Again, it is very helpful to understand this because that is what will explain why almost all students of the Course get caught in turning this into a course in magic instead of being what it is supposed to be: a course in miracles. This distinction is very simple. Anything that takes your attention into the world, into bodies, into relationships between bodies, into an inner teacher who counsels you and directs you on the proper use of the body, is all magic. The focus of this course is to begin where we are, which is in the world, so that we will withdraw our perception from the world back to its source. As the line I quote very often states of the world: it is "an outside picture of an inward condition" (T-21.in.1:5). The Course begins where we think we are, which is in the world, in the body, in relationship to other bodies, coping with the world. It helps us realize, number one, that this is all magic: a magical solution to an inner problem of guilt.

When we allow ourselves to be led back from the world to the mind, we realize that the problem of guilt, for which the world is a magical solution, is also a magical solution to the problem of the power of the mind to choose against the ego. That is why guilt was made and why we place it on the throne of our self, the center of our kingdom. Guilt protects who we think we are by ensuring through its monstrous nature that we will never go back to our mind to change it. Thus, guilt is the magical solution to the problem of the mind's power to choose. What we are trying to protect is the choice for illusions. We are using magic to protect an illusion, and the magic itself is an illusion, protecting an illusion. Then we need another form of magic to protect us from the first magic. Thus, the ego makes up magic, makes up guilt as the magical attempt to protect our mind from choosing again; it then says this magical guilt is a monster, so now we need another monster—magical—to protect us from guilt. Voila! out comes a world that is monstrous—monstrously cruel and vicious, filled with pain and suffering, culminating in death.

Remember that wonderful line at the beginning of Chapter 13 after Jesus describes this world. He says, "If this were the real world, God would be cruel" (T-13.in.3:1). Yet that is the world everyone worships and wants to save, the world to which everyone wants to bring A Course in Miracles. Why would you want to bring A Course in Miracles into a nonexistent world filled with nonexistent people? You want to bring the Course to the only place it can help, which is in your mind. The "you" that Jesus addresses in this course all the way through is not the "you" who is reading it, studying it, falling asleep while reading it, trying to practice it, or trying to hit people over the head with it. The "you" he is talking about is the "you" in your mind that chose magic and now needs a miracle to correct the mistake. That is whom the Course was meant for, not the world.

I always like to recall people's attention to the question in the manual: "How Many Teachers of God Are Needed to Save the World?" (M-12). The answer is one. That one is not Jesus, but he is an example of one. The one is you. That is the one. Jesus does not say "many people." He never told Helen and Bill, as he supposedly told the disciples, to go out into the world and preach to the gentiles, which he never said, but that is what the world thinks he said. Why would he want you to preach to a world that does not exist, and is filled with people who are already imbued with magic? A Course in Miracles is meant only for the "you" that is the decision-making part of your mind that made the wrong choice. That is why this course is all about choosing again, from beginning to end. It is all about the power of the mind to choose.

In response to Helen asking Jesus to intervene magically to help her with her magical fears, he said to her, "Why would I teach you to depreciate the power of your mind, which would go against everything in this course?" (originally meant for her personally, now in Chapter 2: see T-2.VII.1). Thus, Jesus was saying to her, "Don't ask me to do that. Number one, I cannot do that. Furthermore, since the purpose of this course is to teach you how powerful your mind is, why are you asking me to depreciate it?" We depreciate it when we negate the mind's power to make up a world and all the problems in this world. Then we try to circumvent this mind's power by solving the problems in the world; and even better, getting Jesus, the Holy Spirit, God, this course, or any other spirituality to intercede for us, to intervene in the world and fix things—whether it is something trivial like getting a parking space, something seemingly important as healing cancer or AIDS, bringing about world peace, or ending world poverty and all the cruelty and injustice in the world. He does not do any of that. He does not care about any of that. He knows the difference, as did Plato twenty-five hundred years ago, between appearance and reality. Magic is the world of appearance, the world of illusion. That is what we think we see, hear, and understand; and that is what we think we think about. That is the world of appearances, the world of magic. A Course in Miracles leads us to the world of miracles, which redirects our attention from the world back to the mind.

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