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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 VI
Discussion (cont.)

Q: I have allergies. I know that if I take something, that is magic; but it is also going to alleviate the symptoms. I know that the allergies are also magic, covering up something. So the important thing it seems would be to find out …

A: Oh, God, no. That's too much work. No, don't do that. Just take the damn pill to alleviate the symptoms, and just stop with that. Don't analyze or try to delve into the reasons. Remember, "Forgiveness … is still, and quietly does nothing. It merely looks, and waits, and judges not" (W-pII.1.4:1,3).

Q: The relief I just felt at stopping is profound.

A: Yes, don't work at this. Recently I talked about being lazy—that this course is for lazy people. When you work at it, you have the magical idea that working on the ego is going to solve the problem. The ego thrives on your working at it and paying attention to it. So the lesson is to have an allergy and be peaceful about it. Big deal. Why analyze it and scratch beneath the surface and take an earth mover and dredge up stuff? You are allergic to God! That's the issue. Big deal! Everyone is allergic to God. So? That is the bottom line. The lesson is to have an allergy, take whatever magic will relieve the symptoms because it is silly not to, and don't give it another thought. Then be peaceful. If you are working at it, you are not peaceful. Do not work at this course.

Remember the section, "I Need Do Nothing" (T-18.VII). What the ego loves to do is make up nonexistent problems and then get us to devote all of our time, energy, and effort to solving the nonexistent problem. So you have an allergy, which is a nonexistent problem. Now the ego would say: Oh, let's be very good Course in Miracles students, so we will take the magic and that's fine. Now we are going to really get to what this is about, because the symptom is telling me what is going on in my mind. I am going to get to all that. Then you work and work and work, and you keep sneezing your head off, because you are missing the whole point. If it is a nonexistent solution to a nonexistent problem, why are you studying it? What you want to study and understand, without really studying it, is why am I even doing this?

I have not told this story in a long time—it is a wonderful story. It was told to me by my therapy supervisor, a Freudian analyst, when I was in graduate school. He said that when he was in analysis, he was in the sitting area waiting for his appointment, and just before the analyst called him into her office, he took his shoe off. Then he walked into the analyst's office with his shoe off, which is a big thing. The foot is a phallic symbol; remember, this is a Freudian analyst. I do not know how many sessions they spent trying to analyze what this meant, because he had no idea why he did it. Finally, they got to what it was about: it was a very clever unconscious ploy to distract the analyst from getting to whatever it was that he did not want to get to. So they wasted all this time analyzing why he took his shoe off, when the reason he took it off was to distract the analyst from helping him with the real problem.

That is why you have an allergy: to distract your real analyst, Jesus—who does not analyze—from helping you with the real problem. If you try to work at what the meaning of the allergy is, why you have the allergy, why it is happening now instead of yesterday, and all those kind of things, what are you doing? You are taking the tiny, mad idea seriously. Why else would you devote all your energy to it unless you took it seriously? Bingo! The ego got you. That is how you deal with all your problems.

This course is so simple. Jesus says it over and over again. This is simple, yet we make it so complicated. Do not fix your ego, or your symptoms, and do not analyze your symptoms. Be peaceful. If you choose the right teacher, you will be peaceful, whether you have an allergy, cancer, or an automobile accident; whether the sun has just come up or not. It will not make any difference. You will be peaceful. That is the lesson. Observe your ego making up one distraction after another. Do you know the ego's favorite distraction? This book. This is a wonderful distraction. People want to study it, memorize it, learn where everything is, and they want to do the workbook perfectly. They want to devote their lives to it. What life? The worst thing you can do with this course is take it seriously. That does not mean you should not read and study it. It certainly does not mean that you should not practice it, but don't do it seriously. If you do it seriously, the ego has gotten you.

Remember, the problem was not the tiny, mad idea; it was taking it seriously. If you see this course as something that will help you get rid of your ego, you will never get rid of your ego. The purpose of this course is to get you to smile at your ego, not to get rid of your ego. You will never get rid of your ego by trying to get rid of it. That is what makes it real. In The Song of Prayer, Jesus tells us not to make the error real: "Do not see error. Do not make it real" (S-2.13:3-4). What is the error? The error is the ego. The error is the thought system of the ego, and all of the variations of that thought system. Do not take it seriously. Do not fight against your ego. Look at it, understand why you are holding on to it, but do not do anything about it.

The point of Lesson 79 "Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved" and its companion Lesson 80 "Let me recognize my problems have been solved" is that if my problem has been solved, why do I have to solve it all over again? I would only try to solve the problem of my ego if I believed the problem were not solved. What I have to do is accept the fact that the problem has already been solved. I do not take a problem seriously when it has already been solved. For example, if I have lost my wallet and then my wallet is found, I do not take seriously calling the police, the insurance companies, the credit card companies, etc., because I have found a wallet. Why do I have to bother making all these other phone calls if I have the wallet? The ego has already been undone.

So why do I have to deal with this and worry about it? All I have to look at is why I am still making it real when it is already gone? At the beginning of Chapter 28, Jesus says, "The world was over long ago" (T-28.I.1:6). That is one of the most threatening lines in the Course. If the world were over long ago, I must be over, too, because I am part of the world. As Jesus explains, what keeps the world going in our memory, even though it is gone, is guilt. Guilt tells me I have sinned and the world is the serious consequence of my sin. What I want to do, then, is look at all that and smile. The Holy Spirit does not look to effects: "In gentle laughter does the Holy Spirit perceive the cause, and looks not to effects" (T-27.VIII.9:1). He perceives the cause, which is the belief that I separated from God—the tiny, mad idea taken seriously—and what does He do? He looks at it with "gentle laughter." He does not bother with the effects, the allergies. He does not bother with the cancers, the wars, or the famines. He looks to the cause, smiles gently at it, and then it is gone.

Do not work at your problems or your symptoms. Just ask Jesus to help you smile at them. If you can smile, then the peace of God will come back to you, because the seriousness covered it over. It is very simple. It is much simpler doing this than trying to figure out a sentence with three negatives. That is hard work; you do not have to do that. You read it and you sort of know what it means. You may not know what it really means, but something in you knows. That is enough. Besides, Jesus will say it again and again. If you read this course with your heart, you will understand it, and what you will understand is that you have to look at your ego. We look at it with that "gentle laughter" Jesus speaks of.

This is simple and requires no effort: "I need do nothing." We define the problem in the wrong way and then we are hellbent on solving it, whether it is something specific or more general. We get so serious about this course. That is why I tell people not to make this course their life. Let this course give you the principles by which you live your life, a normal life, the way other people live, but do not make it your life, because if you do, you will be missing the whole point. You will be making it into some kind of special idol and then you will worship it. Then it becomes magic. Use the Course as a way of teaching you not to take your life seriously. That is helpful. It will make things much easier for you.

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