What It Means to Have a Mind: Unhealed or Healed
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
This Excerpt is taken from the book entitled Healing the Unhealed Mind,
which is available at our Online Store by clicking here.
One of the major problems to confront students who study this course is that they do not know what a mind is. Brain-mind researchers do not know what a mind is either, at least from the point of view of the Course. Almost always, with very few exceptions, when people write about the mind they are talking about an imperceptible activity of the brain. They say that the brain is a physical organ, but the mind is the activity of the brain that cannot be measured under a microscope. That is not how A Course in Miracles sees it at all. The problem for us is that the mind does not exist in a world of time and space. It is atemporal and non-spatial. Quantum physicists use the term non-local—the mind cannot be localized in a place. So often I get asked, "Where is the mind?" And that would seem a perfectly natural question to ask, but it cannot be answered because "where" presupposes space. The world of time and space came about as a projection of the thought system of the wrong mind, and it has never left its source. Recall that projection does not work, for what seems to be outside remains within.
The confusion in talking about the mind is that we do not know how to. The Course tells us that "God does not understand words, for they were made by separated minds to keep them in the illusion of separation" (M-21.1:7). Words were also made to keep us separate from the mind. The mind does not have words. We talk about Jesus being in the mind, but in the mind there is no Jesus. There is no specific person with a name. We talk about the Holy Spirit as a Teacher, as we do all the time, but in truth there is no person in the mind, which is abstract and non-specific. Lesson 161 says that "complete abstraction is the natural condition of the mind" (W-pI.161.2:1). Since the mind is non-specific, it is very difficult for specific brains to talk about it.
What we can do, however, is use metaphors. One I use all the time is of a child at a puppet show. The child thinks the puppets are real, while the adult understands that what is happening on the stage is not happening to a person. The puppet is totally make-believe, a non-living piece of wood or plastic that is dressed up and made by an unseen puppeteer to walk, talk, fall down, attack, be attacked, and so on. A small child does not know that, and so may become upset when its favorite puppet gets hurt. As adults we do not become upset because we understand the difference between the unseen puppeteer and the puppet.
The puppeteer is the mind, and the puppet is the world. The section called "The Laws of Chaos" in Chapter 23 is one of the more difficult sections in the text to work with. In fact it is the only section that has very little that is good in it. In most sections in the text, the first half is about the ego; the second half is the Holy Spirit's happy correction. Not so in "The Laws of Chaos." It begins with hell, takes us through hell, and virtually leaves us in hell. After the five laws of chaos are described in painfully graphic detail, which is a summary of the ego thought system, Jesus continues. You think it cannot get any worse, and then it does: "Can you paint rosy lips upon a skeleton…pet it and pamper it, and make it live?" (T-23.II.18:8).
The skeleton represents the body, and Jesus is not attacking women who put on lipstick. That is just a symbol. Yet we all take something that is essentially lifeless and think it is alive. We think the puppet talks. That happens only in "The Twilight Zone," not in this world where puppets do not talk. There are many passages in all three books—text, workbook, manual—that tell us that the body does not do anything; eyes do not see, ears do not hear, brains do not think; bodies are not born, they do not die, they do not get sick, they do not get well; they do not attack or make decisions. Bodies simply follow what the mind tells them to do. (See for example, T-19.IV-C.5; T-28.V.4, VI.2.)
Another useful metaphor is that of a computer. A computer cannot do anything without a program, which is written by programmers who are not in your office or in your computer. They are unseen, but what they write will dictate what your computer does. If they write a program that says two and two is seven, then every time you strike 2 + 2 you will get 7. If for some perverse reason they write a program that says when you type A you will get E, then every time you strike A you will see E on your screen, no matter how many times you do it. That is what your computer has been told to do. Until you change the program, 2 + 2 will always equal 7, and every time you strike an A it will be an E. And all the while you do not see the programmers.
Accordingly, you will not find peace in this world, on an individual or a collective level, unless you change the program, the program being guilt. Unless you get back to the mind, unless you make the call to the programmer of your particular software, nothing will change. Unless we get back to the mind and choose a different programmer, one who is sane instead of insane, we will continue to hit A and get E. We will continue to think we are being loving, kind, and compassionate when we are truly being hateful and judgmental.
That is what Jesus means in the manual in another of those horrific passages when he says that it does not seem as if concern for people is attack and hate (M-7.4), anymore than merely asking a question is hateful (T-27.IV). It is hateful because that is our program, but we do not know it. We think we are being honest, inquisitive, kind, compassionately sympathetic, etc. But any time we see another body as separate from ours, as different from ours, we are saying that differentiation is real. This is what the The Song of Prayer calls "forgiveness-to-destroy" and "healing-to-separate" (S-2.II; S-3.III). It is the hallmark of the unhealed mind. We think we have something the other person does not have, and while we may indeed have information the other person lacks, information does not heal. The only thing that heals is teaching through example:
The only meaningful contribution the healer can make is to present an example of one whose direction [meaning decision] has been changed for him, and who no longer believes in nightmares of any kind (T-9.V.7:4).
That is the healed mind of the healed healer. Unhealed minds think that what heals is their wisdom, their hands, how they pray, the particular skill they have. Wrong. That is what attacks, because it reinforces the very thought system that is the source of the problem. To repeat, "The only meaningful contribution the healer can make is to present an example of one whose direction has been changed for him and who no longer believes in nightmares of any kind."
The core of all nightmares, as well as every experience in the phenomenal universe is the belief that the separation from God is real, and that separation and differentiation are the reality. This makes me different from you. If you are sick, I am the expert who can heal you. On the level of form, that may well be the truth, and I am not saying you should not avail yourself of that help. Just don't think it is healing. Don't think for one minute that it will take you home, that it undoes guilt, or even more to the point, that it undoes the belief in guilt. It doesn't.