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The Inner Voice

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

Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

 

Part IV
Introduction (conclusion)

As you make your way up the ladder you will realize that your experience of Jesus and the Holy Spirit will become less and less specific and more and more non-specific, which means more and more loving, and you will find yourself inevitably, automatically, and very happily being an extension of that Love. That Love will come through you in specific ways because you still think you are a body. Love will come through you in the specific symbols that other people will be able to accept as reflective of love, just as you will be able to accept what is coming through you as reflective of love.

As you make your way up the ladder and get closer and closer to the top, you will realize that it does not matter what you do or say, because love will inform everything you do and say. Everything you do and say now will become a symbol of love without you even thinking about it, worrying, agonizing, or theorizing about it. It will just naturally happen as easily as water flows unimpeded down a stream. It will just flow. It cannot flow, however, if you have a lot of obstacles in the way, those obstacles being the ego's voice.

The problem, once again, is that you will never be able to do anything about the ego's voice if you do not believe you have one, and are listening to it. The very fact that you think you need to breathe, eat, and drink to stay alive is proof that you are listening to the ego's voice. That same breathing, eating, drinking, and everything about your body and life can be used to serve a different purpose; but the very fact that you identify with your body is telling you that you have two inner voices, not one.

The Course's method for undoing the ego's voice is to bring it to the Holy Spirit's Voice—that is the Course practice of bringing the illusion to the truth or the darkness to the light. That is the key element in the process of forgiveness and the practice of the miracle. We bring the darkness of our illusory thoughts of separation, specialness, judgment, and hate to the forgiving love of that Voice in our mind, what A Course in Miracles calls the right mind. That is the role of the Holy Spirit; that is Jesus' role. Their role is not to tell us what to do in the illusory world, but to be that gentle, ongoing Presence of light to which we bring all of our ego thoughts. That is all we do. That is what makes the practice of this course very simple—in principle. Obviously it is not simple in practice, because our resistance to letting go of the ego's voice is gargantuan and cosmic—and this is because we are literally trying to maintain our own existence. Without the ego there is no I.

The process itself, however, is extraordinarily simple. You go through your day as mindful as you can be of this inner presence of the Holy Spirit, Jesus, or any other non-ego symbol with which you are comfortable. You bring to that presence all of your thoughts of specialness. That is all. You just have to be vigilant for your judgments, annoyances, angers, special loves, special hates, the cases you build up against other people, and the cases you have continued to build up from your past. One of the reasons we all like to suffer in our current life is that we are continually pointing an accusing finger, even if it is an unconscious one, back to our parents. That accusing finger says, "Look what you made of me. Look what you did to me. I am a failure. I am defective. I am inferior. I am inadequate. I am terrible. I am awful. I am depressed. I am sick. I am just an absolute mess. And it is all your fault!" That is the accusing finger, expressed in a line in the Course that says, "Behold me, brother, at your hand I die" (T-27.I.4:5), and also in what Jesus tells us near the end of the text in Chapter 31: "I am the thing you made of me, and as you look on me, you stand condemned because of what I am." (T-31.V.5:3).

That is the voice to which we listen. Every time we suffer pain—emotional or physical—that is what we are saying to someone. It could be someone currently in our life, but behind that current person there are many others, and almost invariably the original people in our life would be our parents. We wrote them into our script and cast them in our play so that we would always have two very healthy scapegoats. They are the ones who abandoned us, abused us, treated us unkindly, and on and on. Repeating, "I am the thing you made of me, and as you look on me, you stand condemned because of what I am." (T- 31.V.5:3).

Therefore, what allows us to hear the Holy Spirit's Voice is to hear this ego voice first. If we do not hear the ego, then we have nothing to bring to the Holy Spirit. And if we do not bring Him anything, He cannot give us anything. The Holy Spirit's or Jesus' gifts are an exchange for the gifts we bring to them. We cannot receive Their gift unless we give them our gift first. That is just the way it works, because Their gift is the undoing of our gift. That is Jesus' gift. That is what Helen's prose poem, "The Gifts of God," is all about. Originally it came as a message to her, and now it is a message to all of us. Jesus is asking her to bring to him her gifts of fear, spite, hate, and slander. "Bring those gifts to me," he is saying, in effect, "and in exchange I will lay before your feet the gifts of God. But I cannot give you those gifts until you bring me yours, because your hands will not be open to receive my gift as long as they are filled with your gifts" (see The Gifts of God, pp. 118-19).

It is not that he is withholding his love; he is saying to Helen and to all of us, "You have to make room for my love in your mind because you have cluttered up your mind deliberately, intentionally, and purposefully, so that there would be no room for love. Before I can give you my love, you first have to give me all that clutter." And what that translates to on an operational level, is that we give Jesus our clutter as we look at it with him. That is what bringing the gifts to him means. It does not mean loading our guilt in a bag and bringing it to him. It means looking at it with him. We listen through his ears and he helps us recognize how we are listening to the voices of the past, of hate, loss, pain, and hurt. It is these voices—again, really one voice—that motivate and dominate everything we do, and we are not even aware of it. We automatically think that since we are Course students, all we hear is the Holy Spirit, and everything is wonderful: we forgive everyone; we see the Sonship as one; we realize there are no victims and victimizers; and in fact there is no world, and this is all an illusion. We are all one big happy family. End of story!

We forget that that is not what A Course in Miracles is about at all. It is about helping us look at our fear and specialness, judgment and hate, hurt and pain—looking at them with the Love of God next to us, so that Love then can dissolve the pain. There is a workbook lesson that is based on the wonderful line from the Book of Revelation: "And God shall wipe away all tears" (Rv 7:17; W-pII.301). The way God wipes away our tears is by our bringing them to Him. If you think your life is happy and is working, and you are guided by the Holy Spirit all the time, then this course is certainly not for you. It is not about that. It is about learning how miserable you are, as the section "The Happy Learner" (T-14.II) says. Only then can you bring your misery and pain to the love that heals it and wipes away the tears. Again, you cannot hear the Voice of the Holy Spirit until you first bring to Him the voice of your ego. This does not mean in the abstract; it means looking very specifically at what happens throughout your day.

It needs to be understood that the Holy Spirit realizes what we are bringing Him is nothing. Our experience is that we are bringing Him all this garbage, this terrible stuff. Yet, He does not even see it. Remember, what we are bringing are different aspects of our guilt, self-hatred, and judgment, all of which are based on the one thought that says I separated from God. Since Jesus knows there is no separation, no sin, and therefore there could be no guilt, no projection in terms of judgment or hate. So what we are giving him is literally an illusion, which means we are giving him nothing, and he gives us everything.

In fact, Jesus says in the Course we could not ask for something that asks so little of us and gives us so much (T-20.VII.I.1:7-8). All that it asks is that we bring our illusions to the everything. The problem is we do not think these illusions are nothing. We think these illusions are everything because we think our special identity is really important. Our hatred and self-hatred seem so immense that we feel that if we give it to the Holy Spirit, it is going to overwhelm Him. In reality though, it is nothing, because He knows there is no difference between intense fury and a slight twinge of annoyance; He knows there is no hierarchy of illusions; He knows the difference between reality and illusions.

Thus, bringing the ego to Jesus and looking at it really means looking through his eyes and realizing this is nothing. The process of undoing our resistance to this consists of recognizing this is nothing. We are so impressed with our egos, our specialness, our guilt, our hates, and our terror, that we think this is all gargantuan and can never be undone.

Another way of saying what the gift is, the gift of our ego that we bring to Jesus, is that it is really the gift of our trusting him, saying to him, "I know that you will not be offended. You will not be affected. You will not be hurt by this." Thus, the gift is trusting him with our garbage, because we know that he knows it is nothing.

The prodigal son, which is mentioned in the Course (see T-8.VI.4), is a wonderful example of the son's guilt in coming back, knowing that he had squandered all of his father's treasure. The guilt of that is really a symbol—certainly when Jesus talks about it in the Course—of what we believe we did: We took God's Love, God's life, God's treasure and squandered it in our egos. Then we are so guilt ridden that we are terrified of returning home because the father will punish us. In the parable, the father welcomes him with open arms and makes a big celebration.

[Editor: A participant suggested that the Holy Spirit might speak specifically to us to win our trust; for example, something specific might happen in the sense of miracles. Kenneth's response:]

Our experience might be that. But that is not what the Holy Spirit is. It is very helpful to think of the Holy Spirit as just the ongoing, non-specific, abstract Presence of Love that is in our mind. Its very Presence is the reminder of Who we are as God's children. However, we do not believe we are God's children, and therefore, since we believe we are specific bodies, our minds translate that non-specific abstract Love, that song, into a language or some form we can accept and understand without fear.

Thus, it is not that the Holy Spirit speaks to us in words—He does not have a mouth. Indeed, he does not have a body. He does not even see anything here. When we go to Him in our minds and in that holy instant identify with His Love, our mind automatically translates it into some form we would be able to accept. And then we think the Holy Spirit told us to do this, that, or the other thing. Thinking that He would communicate in specifics to win our trust so that we can move to higher levels is to suggest that that is His plan, that He is trying to seduce us into getting on our good side—throwing us a bone or two. But He does not think; He is not a person.

One of the problems people have with A Course in Miracles—in part because of the language of the Course—is that they think God is a person, the Holy Spirit is a person, and Jesus is a person. People think that They think like we do, except without anger, hate, and guilt. But They do not have a plan, and They do not do anything with us. There are many places where Jesus explains his modus operandi in this course: He tells us that the truth is that there is no Trinity, for example, because God is One—there is no one, two, and three (see T-14.IV.1:7-8). But because we think there is separation and there are bodies, he talks to us in the condition in which we think we are: namely, a body (see T-25.I.5-7). Thus, he talks about God as a body. He talks about the Holy Spirit as a body. He uses adjectives and nouns that are physical. He says the Holy Spirit is a Comforter, a Translator, a Guide, a Teacher, a Friend, a Voice. He is comforting, gentle, and kind. Jesus uses these terms because they reflect love for us.

We are too afraid of love, because in love there is no specificity, and so we need a translation. We are the ones who supply the translation. He is the One who supplies the love simply by what He is, and He is really not a what or a he or who. The Holy Spirit is a thought. One of the best ways of understanding the Holy Spirit is to conceive of Him as a memory of the Love of God that we took with us into our dream when we fell asleep. We give it a separate name just as in the Course Jesus gives the thought system of separation a separate name: he calls it the ego, as if there were an ego in our mind, as if there were a Holy Spirit in our minds, when in truth there is only us in our minds. And that us is two thoughts: the thought of separation and fear, and the thought of Atonement and love. Then we translate that into forms we can accept.

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