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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 IX
"The Voice for God"
Discussion (cont.)

Q: Separation and specialness can also take place on a non-physical level too, right? We hear of people who channel spirits and different entities and relatives. They are separated, but are they without form?

Ken: Separation and specialness do not occur in the body at all—they occur only in the mind. When the body dies nothing has happened. At the beginning of this class I said the body is like a lifeless piece of wood, and so it does not die. The mind that was fully active while the body seemed to be alive is just as active when the body seems to die. My wife Gloria used to say often at workshops that people have this insane idea that just because they are channeling a voice from "the other side" that that voice is wise and should be listened to. It can be just as filled with ego as the voices we hear "here." Being disembodied is not a spiritual state because we are never in the body anyway—we just think we are. Thus, being embodied or disembodied is really the same because we always remain in the mind; and so whether you are on "this side" or "the other side" you could either be with the ego or the Holy Spirit. Being here in a body is irrelevant to that. It is a choice you make in your mind.

The body and the world are the home of time and space. What you find in the mind instead of space is separation, and instead of linear time you have sin, guilt, and fear. If a person who experiences himself or herself in a body dies, and still has an unhealed mind, then those thoughts are still present whether they are expressed in the form of time and space or are experienced only in thought.

Everything occurs only in the mind, because there is nothing else. Nothing is happening here. There is no room here; there are no separate people here in chairs. There is an illusion of all that. It is the same as if you have a dream tonight of being in this room with all these people, but when you wake in the morning you know you were not in this room. You would realize it was just a dream, just a set of symbols. Well, this whole world is just a dream and a set of symbols.

People do not go anywhere when they die—they do not go anywhere when they are born. They all are in the same place, which is the mind, non-spatial and non-temporal. Therefore, words like "where" do not apply to the mind. There is no way of even describing what it is like to be a mind. People attempt to describe it, but you have to realize that these descriptions are filtered through their own understanding. As I was explaining earlier, when people hear the Holy Spirit, they think they are hearing words. All they are really doing is connecting to that right-minded presence of love, and then their minds translate that abstract presence of love into words or symbols they can understand. Thus, psychics who believe that the world is real, whether they believe in another world or not, are going to translate their experiences into symbols and forms they and other people can understand. This does not mean that these symbols and forms are not helpful; it just means they are not reality.

This is the exact same thing people did with Jesus. People experienced him and translated their experience into form and wrote stories about him. The stories have nothing to do with his reality. The Course says that "words are but symbols of symbols" and are "twice removed from reality" (M-21.1:9-10). The reality of Jesus, which is this thought of love, became a symbol in the form of a messianic figure or a great teacher, and then there were words, and a theology based on the words. None of this had anything to do with the reality, which gets expressed in what we think is the truth. This is, as the Course says in the line I quoted earlier, the condition we think we are in (T-25.I.7:4): being in a body living in a separated world.

The problem is that people do not understand symbols. Everything in form is a symbol: words are symbols; concepts are symbols; theology is a symbol; mythology is a symbol. Symbols are not the reality. So when people have experiences of an afterlife or of voices from beyond, or anything else along those lines, it does not mean the core (or content) of those experiences is not real or helpful. It is just that the interpretation is very idiosyncratic, always mediated through a body, specific entities, and forms; and so people tell stories about what it is like on the "other side." There is no "other side."

Truly understanding what ACourse in Miracles is saying would change absolutely everything we believe. Does that make sense? Yet, that is not very comforting to us. The line that says, "You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognize" (T-18.VIII.1:7) is a very important line because that explains why this course is all about the body. To us, God is a body. He is talked about as a person. He has body parts. The Holy Spirit is talked about as a person. Why? Because we cannot think of God without a body, and this is because we think of ourselves as a body. It makes no sense to say that we are a mind, because we have no reference point for that. The Course is written in a way that meets us where we are. As we follow it along and do what it says, we will be led beyond the Course and beyond the body and the world; then we will be awakened.

Thus, when psychics or mystics have experiences, it is not that the content is wrong, but rather the words, concepts, and constructs that they use are symbolic—symbolic of something they could not explain or even experience in any other way. It is always mediated through the condition they think they are in, which is a body living in a world. And since it is a world of duality and opposites, it makes sense then to think about opposites. That is our thought system. It is not real, but it is our thought system. There is life and then there is an afterlife. There is life in the body and life in the mind, or the spirit, or the soul, or whatever. We are comfortable with the idea of opposites: life and death, mind and body. But this course represents a non-dualistic system in which there is no opposite: there is no mind and body. The body is a projection of the mind and has never left its source, which means there is no body outside the mind.

The idea that we are all one, however, is meant very literally in ACourse in Miracles. Therefore, of course you are still connected with a loved one who has died—but you were connected when the loved one was here; you were connected before you were born. You are always connected. What the Course tries to help us do is generalize that connection to all people, so that we realize we are connected with everyone. We start with the special ones that are in our life and that are important to us. The idea is to begin to realize: if I am not separate from this person in physical life or physical death, and my mind is joined with this person, then it must also be joined with everyone else, because the mind of God's Son is one.

This is the importance of the idea I mentioned earlier, that you recognize everyone as the same. We have the same ego, the same Holy Spirit, and the same decision maker, and so we are not separate from each other. Thus, the kinds of questions that deal with where we go when we die and whether we are still in touch with other people, in a sense cannot be answered from the perspective of the Course without changing the perspective of the question. You have to bring your question to the perspective of the Course, which is that there is only mind. At that point, the question becomes irrelevant. It is relevant as long as you think dualistically—that there is a mind and there is a body.

When you die it is not really that you take your ego with you, your ego is with you, because you do not go anywhere when you die. This is analogous to your sitting in your armchair in your living room watching a video; the video ends, and you play another video. That is all it is. The other video is not necessarily another life, just another series of thoughts. So you do not go anywhere. You do not bring your ego with you when you are born, and you do not take your ego with you when you die. It simply sits there.

Again, keep in mind that the body is literally nothing: it is a projection of a thought of separation, and as the Course says, it has never left its source. This means there is no body outside the mind. The body is in the mind. In fact, the body is the mind. It is the mind projected out; but what you project out does not go anywhere. The world therefore is a cosmic lie, because the world says ideas leave their source. There is a world out here. Look up in the heavens and see. There are five planets in a linear formation. So you go outside tonight and see it, and it seems as it should—there is a world out there. That is the lie. This whole thing is a lie. Ideas leave not their source. The idea of a separated world has never left its source in the mind; the thought of separation has never left its source in the mind.

Therefore, all questions about the body and the world really are just ways of trying to make the world and the body real. They are perfectly legitimate questions from the perspective of our experience as bodies; but they cannot really be answered without reinforcing the lie that there is a world and a body out there; there is a life beyond the body; there is a life before the body; there are many lives before this body; there are many lives after this body. This is all part of the same lie. From the Course's point of view, all the learned theories about the afterlife—whether traditionally spiritual, religious, or New Age—are all wrong because they are all trying to say there is a hierarchy of illusions. There is physical life and then there is an afterlife; there is an astral body, an etheric body, etc. There is a this body; there is a that body. They are all saying there is a hierarchy of illusions, which is the first law of chaos (T-23.II.2). An illusion is an illusion is an illusion.

On a practical level, all that we really have to be concerned about is the illusory nature of our own perceptions of another person. As we can bring those perceptions to the true perception of the Holy Spirit and silence the ego's voice in doing so and hearing the Holy Spirit's Voice instead, the thought system that underlies the idea of the body and the experience of the body will gradually diminish. We will identify with that thought system of separation less and less. The more we can forgive—in very real and experiential terms—the people we grew up with, the people we live with, the people we work with, the people we see, the people we see on television—the more we can bring those misperceptions to the Love of the Holy Spirit in our mind, the more we are forgiving ourselves, which means there is less guilt. If there is less guilt, there is less need to project it. The less need there is to project the guilt, the less identification there is with the body and the world. The more we do that, the more we will understand that it is not only that the way I perceive you is an illusion, but ultimately the very fact that I see you at all is an illusion. The very fact that there is an "I" that sees you is an illusion.

That kind of awareness grows as we make our way up the ladder. What helps us get up the ladder is not dealing metaphysically with the illusion, but focusing more practically on experiencing our perceptions of another as an illusion. As I was saying earlier, what I am doing is bringing the voices of the past and seeing you in the context of what these dead voices are telling me. There is a workbook lesson in which Jesus tells us not to listen to "the voices of the dead" (W-pI.106.2:3). He is not talking about the dead who died yesterday or ten years ago. He is talking about the voices that speak for the thought system of death, which are all the voices of the past, the voices of guilt, attack, judgment, and hurt.

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