Foundation for A Course in Miracles® https://facim.org Dedicated to preserving the teachings of Dr. Kenneth Wapnick on A Course in Miracles Wed, 24 Apr 2019 17:37:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2 https://facim.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/cropped-FACIM-Site-Icon-512x512-32x32.png Foundation for A Course in Miracles® https://facim.org 32 32 Identify with Love – Part 2 of 2 https://facim.org/identify-with-love-part-2-of-2/ Wed, 15 May 2019 16:00:07 +0000 https://facim.org/?p=5503 Volume 16 Number 3 September 2005Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.Identify with LovePart 2 of 2Atonement: The Adaptive Solution to the Existent Problem The issue is not the non-existent problem, for how can what does not exist be a problem? Rather, the problem is our belief in it as reality; i.e., the separation from God actually occurred. In the […]

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Volume 16 Number 3 September 2005
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

Identify with Love

Part 2 of 2

Atonement: The Adaptive Solution to the Existent Problem

The issue is not the non-existent problem, for how can what does not exist be a problem? Rather, the problem is our belief in it as reality; i.e., the separation from God actually occurred. In the words of the text, the problem is not the tiny, mad idea that we could be separate from God, but that we remembered not to laugh and took it seriously (T-27. VIII.6:2-3). The ego's unholy trinity of sin, guilt, and fear reflects this seriousness, as the three are quite serious ideas: the sin of separation, the guilt of our unworthiness to be loved, and the fear of punishment. That is why, earlier in the text, Jesus counsels us when we are confronted by this tiny thought:

Call it not sin but madness, for such it was and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all, be not afraid of it (T-18.I.6:7-9; boldface mine).

And then, throughout our everyday experiences, when some twisted form of the original error rises to frighten us, he asks us to say "God is not fear, but Love," and the problem will disappear (T-18.I.7:1)—perhaps not in form, but certainly in content.

The implications to us of this advice—a principle that happily guides our return home—are enormous, for this alone is an adaptive solution to our only existing problem. We are never upset for the reason we think (W-pI.5), for the source of our distress—regardless of its form—lies in our decision to call madness sin, feel guilty over it, and then fear reprisal. To be sure, we all make mistakes, and all the time. We greatly prefer the ego's grandiose lies of separation and its offspring specialness to the Holy Spirit's truth of our grandeur as God's one Son. Yet we are repeatedly told by Jesus that a mistake is not a sin—e.g., "Son of God, you have not sinned, but you have been much mistaken" (T-10. V.6:1)—and thus does not deserve to be punished:

The Holy Spirit cannot punish sin. Mistakes He recognizes, and would correct them all as God entrusted Him to do. But sin He knows not, nor can He recognize mistakes that cannot be corrected. For a mistake that cannot be corrected is meaningless to Him. Mistakes are for correction, and they call for nothing else (T- 19.III.4:1-5).

Therefore, our one mistake was—and is—having chosen the ego as our teacher and guide. To judge or punish such an error makes it real and keeps it so in our experience. Thus is the ego's illusory existence guaranteed immortality, and God's eternal Being relegated to simple non-existence:

Punishment is always the great preserver of sin, treating it with respect and honoring its enormity. What must be punished, must be true. And what is true must be eternal, and will be repeated endlessly. For what you think is real you want, and will not let it go (T-19.III.2:4-7).

Once the problem is correctly defined as a faulty decision, and its place correctly identified in the mind, its undoing is easy. Interestingly, we read in the 1945 preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization): "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed." We can expand that wise statement to include all problems—collective and individual —since we are taught in A Course in Miracles that the mind is all there is: the beginning and end of everything; the thought of separation and its undoing through accepting the Atonement.

Imagine yourself in a rowboat with Jesus on a large body of water, and he is manning the oars. You suddenly realize that one oar is missing, and then to compound the situation, the remaining oar slips from its oarlock and falls into the water and disappears. You begin to panic, especially as the weather turns stormy, the seas become rough, and land has vanished from view—all seems lost. Yet Jesus is unruffled, and quietly says: "Do not be afraid. This is only a dream. Open your eyes and you will be safe." We lift our eyes, and indeed the stormy scene is gone and we are back on the shore we never truly left, though our dreams seemed to take us far, far away. His love, reminding us of the truth that lies beyond our dreams, is our safety. While this situation is obviously symbolic, its meaning is true, and Jesus assures us it is "no idle fantasy" (W-pI.70.9:4). Whenever anything seems to disturb our peace and threaten our stability, we need only remember Jesus' comforting words and his message of Atonement, our true defense:

When you are afraid of anything, you are acknowledging its power to hurt you.…[The peace of God] is totally incapable of being shaken by errors of any kind.…The Atonement is the only defense that cannot be used destructively.…[It makes] you perfectly invulnerable.… [and] re-establishes the power of the mind…(T-2.II.1: 4,10; 4:1; T-2.III.2:4; 4:6).

What does this have to do with our everyday life? Everything! The principle of the Atonement means that regardless of what happens to us, or to those with whom we identify in our personal world or the world at large, nothing here has the power to take God's peace from us. This peace, born of the memory of our Creator's Love, is totally beyond the power of any external force to affect us: "nothing outside yourself can hurt you, or disturb your peace or upset you in any way" (W-pI.70.2:2). The world certainly has power over our bodies, but cannot touch the mind. It would be like believing a puppet can affect the puppeteer, or a computer change its programmer—perhaps in the worlds of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone or Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, but not in the world of dreams, where only the dreamer has the power to affect the dream; it is not the other way around. Thus, as in Gloria's dream, we are safe to be anywhere, with anyone, in any situation, and rest secure in the peace of God and the thought that we are safe within His Love:

Completely undismayed, this thought will carry you through storms and strife, past misery and pain, past loss and death, and onward to the certainty of God. There is no suffering it cannot heal. There is no problem that it cannot solve.…and while the world is torn by winds of hate your rest remains completely undisturbed. Yours is the rest of truth (W-pI.109.3:2-4; 4:2-3).

Correcting our mistaken choice for the ego's separation, we happily resume our identification with the Holy Spirit's Atonement. This identification had been interrupted for but an instant—an instant that was never real—though the dream of separation seemed to extend almost to eternity. Returned to sanity, we remember our Identity as love, and gladly realize we never left the safety of our home as we awaken at last to our Self.

Helen's early poem, "The Eternal Safety," offers a gentle conclusion to our discussion, sweetly describing the eternal safety that is ours when we remember our Identity as God's sinless Son. At one in His Love and untouched by dreams of sin and fear, we forever remain as He created us:

Holy am I. By Love created, and
By Love sustained. For I have never left
The Everlasting Arms. I am beset
By dreams of sin, and grim forebodings seem
To steal away my peace, and leave me prey
To terror and malignant destiny.
Yet does my holiness remain untouched,
As God created it. For there can be
No sin in God, and therefore none in me.
(The Gifts of God, p. 28)

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Identify with Love – Part 1 of 2 https://facim.org/identify-with-love-part-1-of-2/ Wed, 01 May 2019 16:00:51 +0000 https://facim.org/?p=5498 Volume 16 Number 3 September 2005Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.Identify with LovePart 1 of 2Introduction The section "What Is the Body" in Part II of the workbook closes with these inspiring words, which contrast the ego's fearful lies regarding the body with love's truth, found in the right mind:You will identify with what you think will make you […]

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Volume 16 Number 3 September 2005
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

Identify with Love

Part 1 of 2

Introduction

The section "What Is the Body" in Part II of the workbook closes with these inspiring words, which contrast the ego's fearful lies regarding the body with love's truth, found in the right mind:

You will identify with what you think will make you safe. Whatever it may be, you will believe that it is one with you. Your safety lies in truth, and not in lies. Love is your safety. Fear does not exist. Identify with love, and you are safe. Identify with love, and you are home. Identify with love, and find your Self (W-pII.5.5).

Yet the ego teaches the opposite: we can be safe only in the world, but not without erecting effective bodily or material defenses—individually and collectively. All these, regardless of their form, are variations of its central defense known as the special relationship, which focuses exclusively on the body, the ego's projected home of separation. Thus Jesus asks the rhetorical question: "If you perceived the special relationship as a triumph over God, would you want it?" (T-16.V.10:1). The question is rhetorical because Jesus knows the answer, as do we: "Absolutely!" Why else would we choose specialness unless it preserved the triumph that gave us what we define as "life," to replace life as God created it? And so we walk the earth, arming ourselves with the identity of scarcity and deprivation—the clothing of specialness—believing in our insanity that identifying with this special self protects us from God's wrathful vengeance over what we thought we did to Him. "Think not He has forgotten" (M-17.7:4), the ego screams in our ears, demanding we protect ourselves from His incursions on our special peace. And protect us the ego does, guiding us to identify with the body, the symbol of mindlessness that keeps us from returning to the mind, wherein lies our only true defense—choosing love instead of fear.

The ego, needless to say, never lets us in on its craftily maintained secret that the defense that is the world protects nothing but its wrong-minded thought system of separation and guilt. These delusional thoughts preserve our individual selves by staving off annihilation from the Holy Spirit's Presence in our right minds. The truth remains, however, that the ego self is made up—a non-existent problem—as is the external defense that ends up hurting us—a maladaptive solution. Therefore, following the ego offers no true safety or protection, and so we all continue to wander "in the world uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear" (T-31.VIII.7:1). This article contrasts the ego's insane line of defense with our true safety: the Love of God, held for us in safekeeping by Jesus.

The World and Body: A Maladaptive Solution to a Non-Existent Problem

The problem with defenses, simply stated, is that they ultimately do not work. Indeed, they serve merely to make the matter of the ego worse. Recall this important line from the text: defenses do what they defend (T-17.IV.7:1). The purpose of all defenses is to protect us from something we fear—internal or external. This means that the source of a defense is the fear that has its home in the mind, regardless of its outer expression. Therefore, since the meaning of anything lies in its purpose, and the purpose of defenses is to protect us from fear, it inevitably follows that all defenses will remind us of our fear, for without it there would be no defense. As Jesus explains, believing we are separated we must identify with the ego's defenses, in this case the body:

The body is a fence the Son of God imagines he has built.…[and it] is within this fence he thinks he lives, to die as it decays and crumbles. For within this fence he thinks that he is safe from love. Identifying with his safety, he regards himself as what his safety is (W-pII.5. 1:1-4).

Thus the body, the ego's major defense in its war against God's memory in the mind, becomes the great reminder that the ego thought system of separation is alive and well, and very dangerous. Moreover, once in the world, we cannot help identifying with the body—the ego has obliterated all memory of the mind's Self—that we now believe is our safety from the mind, the ego's home of guilt, fear, and punishment. Yet the body, literally the projected thought of separation, sin, and death, but decays, crumbles, and dies (W-pII.5:1:2). Not a very effective line of defense, to be sure, for the body clearly provides no safety in a world that was made as an attack on God and symbolizes fear (W-pII.3. 2:1-2), as we read from the workbook:

The world provides no safety. It is rooted in attack, and all its "gifts" of seeming safety are illusory deceptions. It attacks, and then attacks again. No peace of mind is possible where danger threatens thus.…The mind…knows not where to turn to find escape.…It is as if a circle held it fast, wherein another circle bound it and another one in that, until escape no longer can be hoped for nor obtained. Attack, defense; defense, attack, become the circles of the hours and the days that bind the mind in heavy bands of steel with iron overlaid, returning but to start again. There seems to be no break nor ending in the ever-tightening grip of the imprisonment upon the mind (W-pI.153.1:2-5; 2:6; 3).

Since the danger is within the mind and ideas leave not their source (see, e.g., T-19.I.7:6-7; T-26.VII.12-13), the world and body can offer no defense against the menacing attack inherent in the ego's thought system, at the same time, once again, that they reinforce the sense of imminent and mortal danger. Thus the ego has successfully protected itself by first establishing a non-existent problem—the separation thought system of sin, guilt, and fear—and then making up a maladaptive solution—the world, body, and the special relationship. And all the while the true problem—the mind's decision for the ego—remains hidden, virtually inaccessible to the correction of Atonement.

Thus does the world seek solutions to its problems—one after another after another—all designed by the unconscious ego not to work, for the ultimate cause of distress and suffering is the mind's decision to believe in illusory guilt, which remains buried beneath the ego's maladaptive solutions:

No one could solve all the problems the world appears to hold. They seem to be on so many levels, in such varying forms and with such varied content, that they confront you with an impossible situation. Dismay and depression are inevitable as you regard them.…All this complexity is but a desperate attempt not to recognize the problem, and therefore not to let it be resolved (W-pI.79.5:1-3; 6:1).

As an example, consider for the moment our situation as bodies living in the early 21st century. There is no part of our physical experience that has not been adversely affected by the environment. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat—animal or vegetable—all have been contaminated by our post-Industrial Revolution world. When you add into the equation the effects of global warming, not to mention the radioactive fallout of governmental experiments and use of atomic warfare and artillery coated with depleted uranium, there is indeed no hope of adequately defending the highly vulnerable body. No matter how valiantly we strive to keep up our bodies' immune system, we shall lose in the end, for there is no truly effective way to combat the persistent attacks on our physical and psychological selves.

One form of humanity's attempts to solve the world's problems falls under the category of utopian visions, which embrace the full spectrum of our ingenuity and inspiration as a species. Despite their good intentions—recall Jesus' cautionary words: "Trust not your good intentions. They are not enough" (T-18.IV.2:1-2)—almost all these idealistic programs have ultimately failed, for they did not succeed in addressing the problem of the mind's guilt. One prominent vision was offered by Karl Marx in the late 19th century. Setting aside the political expressions Marxism has spawned in recent history, we see that this German philosopher sought to address the patent inequality among the world's populations, and offered a social, political, and economic system to correct it. To date, however, it has rarely been tried, and, even then, not been entirely successful. Sigmund Freud put his psychoanalytic finger on the reason. He addressed Marxism in two late works, and in effect stated that it must fail since, regardless of any merit to the program of Marx's vision, it did not identify the true problem—inherent aggressiveness—that resided in the minds of homo sapiens. Here is what Freud wisely wrote, and observe as well his penetrating analysis of what A Course in Miracles, decades later, would term special love and hate relationships. Succinctly stated, Freud saw Marxism (i.e., scientific socialism) as "a fresh idealistic misconception of human nature" that rested on "an untenable illusion" (XXI,113,143). This is his expanded thesis:

For men always put their newly acquired instruments of power at the service of their aggressiveness and use them against each other.…It is altogether incomprehensible how psychological forces can be overlooked when what is in question are the reactions of living human beings…[expressing] their original instinctual impulses… their self-preservative instinct, their aggressiveness, their need to be loved, their drive towards obtaining pleasure and avoiding unpleasure.…Aggressiveness ["this indestructible feature and untameable character of human nature"] forms the basis of every relation of affection and love among people.…It is clearly not easy for men to give up the satisfaction of this inclination to aggression. They do not feel comfortable without it.…It is always possible to bind together a considerable number of people in love, so long as there are other people left over to receive the manifestations of their aggressiveness (New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, 1933; XXII,177-79; Civilization and Its Discontents, 1930; XXI,113-14; italics mine).

The implications of Freud's words are that our behavior, however well meaning, will turn out badly if the underlying aggression—common to the species—is not dealt with. Freud's inherent pessimism—at least in the short term—is seen in his understanding our resistance to being without hatred: we simply "do not feel comfortable without it." This insight into our resistance is reflected in A Course in Miracles as well, where Jesus teaches us about our fear of love:

Under the ego's dark foundation is the memory of God, and it is of this that you are really afraid. For this memory would instantly restore you to your proper place, and it is this place that you have sought to leave. Your fear of attack is nothing compared to your fear of love.… Therefore, you have used the world to cover your love, and the deeper you go into the blackness of the ego's foundation, the closer you come to the Love that is hidden there. And it is this that frightens you (T- 13.III.2:1-3; 4:4-5).

This fear demands that we cling to guilt and hate as defenses, and thus our "hanging-on to guilt, its hugging-close and sheltering, its loving protection and alert defense…" (P-2. VI.1:3).

Therefore, we can identify with love only by undoing the ego's hatred and greed—the content—before proceeding with the form of loving behavior. This undoing is the adaptive solution to the existent problem. In other words, our true protection against the projected evils of the world is to recall the projection to the mind, where we can effectively choose against it. By going within and choosing differently, we can be here without fear. Many years ago, my wife Gloria had a dream in which she was walking midst bombs falling all around her, but she was unafraid and unscathed. Each of us has the potential of walking the world of danger, yet feeling a peace that can withstand all attacks, which we would know to be illusory. That is what it means to accept the Atonement for ourselves, our one responsibility.

In summary, then, while there is relatively nothing we can do to truly strengthen the immune system of the body, we can, indeed we must, strive to build up the mind's immune system. It is in the mind alone that we find the true source of the problems of contamination and aggression—our decision for guilt—and there alone we find the true source of our protection—acceptance of the Atonement.

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Excerpt from “The Stages of Our Spirituality Journey” https://facim.org/excerpt-from-the-stages-of-our-spirituality-journey/ Mon, 15 Apr 2019 16:00:08 +0000 https://facim.org/?p=5140 Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D. This Excerpt was taken from the book entitled The Stages of Our Spiritual Journey which is available from our Online Store by clicking here.1. Introduction: Friedrich Nietzsche The topic of this book, once again, is the stages on our spiritual journey. The framework is the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, specifically the section “On the […]

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Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

This Excerpt was taken from the book entitled The Stages of Our Spiritual Journey which is available from our Online Store by clicking here.

1. Introduction: Friedrich Nietzsche

The topic of this book, once again, is the stages on our spiritual journey. The framework is the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, specifically the section “On the Three Metamorphoses” from his masterpiece, Thus Spoke Zarathustra. I have two reasons for doing this: The first is personal. I have always appreciated Nietzsche’s brilliant insights and literary style, and this is a welcomed opportunity to talk about him and his work. The second reason, and a more important one, is that his wonderful fable provides us with an incisive summary of the spiritual path, parallel to the Course’s view, as we shall see presently. Moreover, it is helpful for students of A Course in Miracles to have some idea of its intellectual context—psychologically, philosophically, and spiritually. It can be enlightening for those interested in the Course to read about ideas that were written long before its scribing, observing that some of the insights have been around for millennia. A Course in Miracles, therefore, did not appear out of nowhere, for intellectually it is a part of a long tradition, with some illustrious people as forebears. And so, once we become familiar with the Course’s principles and then read Nietzsche’s work, we will be astonished at the pearls of wisdom found in this 19th-century genius.

Freud said of Nietzsche that he had a more penetrating knowledge of himself than any man who ever lived or who is ever likely to live, an extraordinary statement coming from the father of psychoanalysis. Nietzsche, who lived from 1844 to 1900, actually began his work with his own self-analysis. Freud, who was twelve years his junior, read a lot of Nietzsche when he was a young man and decided he would never read him again. In his words, Nietzsche was “too rich,” by which he meant that he was aware that Nietzsche was saying the same kinds of things that he, at that point early in his life, was merely intuiting. Freud also recognized the importance of coming to similar conclusions in his own way, thereby being able to develop his own science of psychoanalysis. He thought that reading too much of Nietzsche would interfere with that process. Thus, while he had tremendous respect for Nietzsche, as is clear from the above statement, he really did not study him. Interestingly, several sessions of a psychoanalytic congress held in 1907 or 1908 were devoted to Nietzsche, and it was during one of those sessions that Freud made the comment about his German ancestor.

One of the key psychoanalytic concepts, the id, Freud’s term for the unconscious, actually comes from Nietzsche (indirectly through Freud’s younger associate, Georg Groddeck). Nietzsche wrote about the unconscious and called it It, which in German is Es. He described the unconscious the way Freud did—wild, unbridled, and yet a force that had tremendous influence on our lives. Freud’s English translators, instead of translating Es as It, used the Latin id to make psychoanalysis appear more scientific.

Nietzsche’s influence was extraordinary, not only on Freud but on many, many others. He could even be called the father of existentialism. The famous statement “God is dead,” popular in the 1960s and 1970s and, to some extent even today, was Nietzschean.

I conclude this introduction with a brief summary of Nietzsche’s life. His father was part of a long line of Lutheran pastors, and died when Friedrich was four or five. However, his father’s influence was strong, and in his early years Friedrich was deeply religious and actually studied theology. From all accounts he was a very good little boy, an obedient child who did everything he was told to do. He had gone to a strict private school, and there is a story that reflects this trait of absolute obedience. The pupils were instructed to walk to and from school in a slow, measured pace. One day there was a thunderstorm, and our little friend walked home as he was told to do, not running or seeking shelter. He thus returned home thoroughly drenched. This kind of behavior is in marked contrast to his later, iconoclastic life.

Friedrich was raised by his mother and two aunts, and his brilliance led to his being sent away to a school where he would study theology and philology (the study of the classics). However, he quickly abandoned theology, and for the remainder of his life was a vociferous if not virulent critic of Christianity, indeed of all organized religion. He believed that it corrupted people’s morals and kept them in an inferior position. He once spoke of priests as weak men who led even weaker people.

Nietzsche was a master of the German language. Walter Kaufmann, a great Nietzschean scholar and translator, said of him that he was one of the few philosophers since Plato, which means including Plato, whom large numbers of intelligent people read for pleasure, unlike, for example, philosophers like -Aristotle, Hegel, or Kant. Nietzsche often wrote in an aphoristic style, meaning that his writings are replete with aphorisms, sayings, fables, parables, and stories. This makes for easy reading, as the reader does not have to wade through a great deal of intellectualism, something Nietzsche abhorred. Incidentally, that is why, in many academic circles, Nietzsche was never regarded as a philosopher in the usual sense.

Majoring in philology, Nietzsche received his doctorate at the early age of twenty-four, unheard of in those years, and was named professor of philology at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Shortly afterward, he came in contact with the great composer, Richard Wagner. Wagner was the same age as -Nietzsche’s father, and for about ten years the elder man became a parental surrogate to Nietzsche, who also was a great lover of the composer’s music dramas. It is of note that in his student days, Nietzsche composed several pieces, none of which I think have survived. He had great respect for Wagner, whom he saw as the hope of German culture, a position he later repudiated.

Nietzsche’s first major work was a highly influential book called The Birth of Tragedy (1872). He talked about tragedy as an art form, beginning with the ancient Greeks, whom he essentially dismissed on the grounds that they, and he included Socrates and Plato in this category, were too rational and neglected the emotional side of life. This reflected the distinction between Apollo and Dionysus that Friedrich Schiller, a prominent German poet, was the first to describe. The Apollonian represents the intellectual and logical, while Dionysius represents the impulsive and emotional. Nietzsche felt the Greeks came down heavily on the side of the former, and Richard Wagner was an example of the latter, the one who resurrected the tragedy and gave it back its emotion.

Nietzsche began breaking with Wagner when he was around thirty years of age, in part because he felt his former mentor had sold out to Christianity. This was not the case, but nonetheless was how Nietzsche saw it. However, it was really more of a psychological rupture. Wagner was a man who allowed only one genius in his household, and so there was no room for this intellectually precocious young man who was his protege. Wagner could not stand the idea of his brilliant “son” being as brilliant, if not more so, than he, and so Nietzsche had to escape this suffocating environment. However, though he broke with Wagner, -Nietzsche never stopped writing about him—positively as well as negatively—up to the end of his life. And he always remained a champion of Wagner’s -music.

Among Nietzsche’s other major books are Beyond Good and Evil (1886), The Genealogy of Morals (1887), and The Case of Wagner (1888).  His final book Ecce Homo, written in 1888 but not published until well after his death in 1908, reviews and discusses all his writings. The title was taken from the Latin words in John’s gospel that Pontius Pilate is said to have uttered when he presented Jesus: “Here is the man”—Ecce homo. Because Nietzsche did not think much of Jesus, certainly not the biblical figure, taking that as a title was a statement that Jesus was not the man, he was.

Nietzsche was a sickly person, in continual poor health and in tremendous pain. He suffered from severe migraine headaches and his eyesight was impaired. His physicians urged him not to read or write more than one hour a day, if that; however, he generally spent nine to ten hours a day working and was always suffering. Indeed, in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, his hero talks about the importance of suffering and not denying it, because it becomes a motivation for moving beyond it. Zarathustra, needless to say, is -Nietzsche’s alter ego, his spokesman as it were.

In 1889, Nietzsche collapsed on a street in Turin, -Italy, and rapidly descended into insanity. The last eleven years of his life he spent doing absolutely nothing. He lived with his mother, and when she died, his sister Elisabeth took care of him until his death in 1900. There are many theories about his insanity, but the cause that scholars consider the most plausible is syphilis, which he probably contracted as a student during a rare (if not only) visit to a bordello. The untreated disease took many years to progress, and finally took its toll in 1889 when the insanity overtook him.

His sister was an important figure in the public life of Nietzsche. She was a proto-Nazi (a Nazi before there was National Socialism), and married a man who later became an active member of the Nazi party when it came to power. She believed in the supremacy of the Aryan people and used her brother’s works as support for her beliefs in a master race. Indeed, Elisabeth was responsible for a large number of serious misunderstandings of Nietzsche’s work—leading, probably, to the Nazi embrace of Nietzsche, thinking he was really writing for them. In actuality, they totally misunderstood everything he wrote, which again was largely because of Elisabeth, who edited his works after he became insane and corrupted a number of his significant concepts. Being the owner of his oeuvre, she decided what was to be published after editing out what she did not like and keeping what she did.

It was not until many years later that people were able to go back to the original writings and discover that Nietzsche did not write what Elisabeth claimed he did. For example, he spoke of the overman, which in German is Übermensch (über meaning “over” and mensch meaning “man”)—a key concept in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. It is similar to what A Course in Miracles calls an “advanced teacher of God”[1]—-someone who is able to transcend or move beyond both the animal and human kingdoms and transcend the body. Nietzsche did not mean this in the Course sense of recognizing the illusory nature of the corporeal, but more that the Übermensch would no longer be bound by the world’s customs and values. -Elisabeth interpreted this highly important concept to mean -superman, which well served the Nazi doctrine of the master (or super) race. Indeed, many of the early English versions of -Nietzsche translated the German as superman. However, it is quite obvious what -Nietzsche meant, because he contrasted the Übermensch with the word unter, meaning “under.” Thus he would say, for example, that when you “go under,” you go into the world, and he obviously enjoyed the word play of unter and über. It is patently clear that he did not mean super at all.

Another important concept in Nietzsche’s thinking was the will to power, by which he meant spiritual power: we become what we really can be—the -Übermensch. Once again, however, a significant -Nietzschean concept was taken by Elisabeth as something material and militaristic, embracing great physical strength, then used by the Nazis almost as a slogan. The negative assessments of Nietzsche often have their roots in these misconceptions. Everything this profound thinker wrote needs to be understood within a spiritual context. This will become even clearer as we go through “On the Three Metamorphoses.”

Nietzsche’s work was not discovered and appreciated until after he died, and not many copies were made of his writings. Hardly known at the time, these writings needed the influential literary figure Stephen Zweig, contemporary of Thomas Mann and also a “Nietzschean,” to discover them and to champion Nietzsche and his work.

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[1]See for example, M-4.1:6; 2:2; M-4.VI.1:6; M-16.1:1; 9:5.

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Standing Up in the Sandbox: On Leaving the Sirenic World of Childhood – Part 2 of 2 https://facim.org/standing-up-in-the-sandbox-on-leaving-the-sirenic-world-of-childhood-part-2-of-2/ Fri, 15 Mar 2019 16:00:02 +0000 https://facim.org/?p=5054 Volume 18 Number 4 December 2007Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.Standing Up in the Sandbox:On Leaving the Sirenic World of Childhood Part 2 of 2Our Secret Vow with Each Other: Feeding the Ego's Insatiable Hunger for Guilt Since the ego's origins lay in the aggressive belief that it usurped God's creative function and then miscreated a world of time […]

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Volume 18 Number 4 December 2007
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

Standing Up in the Sandbox:
On Leaving the Sirenic World of Childhood

Part 2 of 2

Our Secret Vow with Each Other: Feeding the Ego's Insatiable Hunger for Guilt

Since the ego's origins lay in the aggressive belief that it usurped God's creative function and then miscreated a world of time and space, the opposite of Heaven's eternity and infinity, the oxygen that allows it to survive is judgment and attack. Readers may recall an episode from the original Star Trek series called "The Day of the Dove." The Enterprise crew is doing battle with its arch enemies the Klingons in a seemingly endless struggle in which no one wins; indeed, no sooner is one wounded or killed than that person is somehow healed or brought back to life. Moreover, the combatants demonstrate overtly paranoid, if not psychotic behavior. It is finally recognized that an alien life form of swirling energy has made its way onto the ship, and is feeding off the aggressive (and fearful) feelings of all on board, instigating the bizarre behavior that goads everyone to hostility. Only when the two angry crews can laugh and demonstrate positive instead of negative emotions does the alien presence leave the ship, forced to look elsewhere for the nourishment of hate that sustains it.

Such is the ego's life of fear and anger, guilt and judgment, and it is forever looking for children to play with its toys of battle. Indeed, it must find companions to play in its sandbox of illusion; otherwise its existence—already hanging by the thin thread of sin—will wither and die. To paraphrase the popular expression, littleness loves company, and the ego's littleness needs to join with the littleness of others to root its existence in the illusion of magnitude that is simply the ego's grandiosity of believing it has supplanted God on the throne of creation. Such belief engenders guilt, the one thought the ego cherishes because it witnesses to the reality of separation and sin. To preserve this thought, the ego protects it with the world, which becomes the object of its projections. Thus our real guilt is denied and then seen in other people who, of course, are doing the very same thing to us. These, then are the alliances we forge with each other, the special relationships within which guilt thrives in what is the ego's home away from home. Jesus describes this dynamic of seeing our guilt (self-hate) in others who deserve attack and death for "their" sins:

Hate is specific. There must be a thing to be attacked. An enemy must be perceived in such a form he can be touched and seen and heard, and ultimately killed (W-pI. 161.7:1-3).

And so, on a "savage search for sin" (T-19.IV-A.12:7), we continually seek out guilt in anyone but ourselves, and therefore find it. Likewise, these same people are looking for us, and the only interesting aspect to this otherwise predictable if not pedestrian endeavor is to see the ingenuity with which the ego pursues its goal of kill or be killed(M-17.7:11): different forms, same content. Thus do we all invite each other to participate in this dance of death. Indeed, we are like little children playing in a sandbox, craving company. Each and every time we make our bodies real via pleasure or pain, gain or loss, sickness or health, we invite the world to join us in the sandbox of guilt to play with us by exchanging artillery made of sand. Everyone, therefore, invites us to his or her dance of death, centered on the body, in which we pledge our undying (actually: dying) support of the ego's perpetual dreams of victim-victimizer:

You hate it [the body], yet you think it is your self, and that, without it, would your self be lost. This is the secret vow that you have made with every brother who would walk apart. This is the secret oath you take again, whenever you perceive yourself attacked. No one can suffer if he does not see himself attacked, and losing by attack. Unstated and unheard in consciousness is every pledge to sickness. Yet it is a promise to another to be hurt by him, and to attack him in return (T-28.VI.4:2-6; italics mine).

Guilt, then, is the glue that binds together our relationships. Nowhere is this insanity more clearly seen in its pernicious hatefulness than in our suffering and pain. In a passage that is perhaps the most hard hitting of all in A Course in Miracles, we find a succinct summary of the role that hurt plays in our lives:

If you can be hurt by anything, you see a picture of your secret wishes. Nothing more than this. And in your suffering of any kind you see your own concealed desire to kill (T-31.V.15:8-10).

We willingly and even gladly choose to suffer at the hands of another so that the guilt over their sin of attack would rest on them, demanding their punishment instead of our own. By allowing ourselves to be victimized by others, we seek to escape the fatal effects of our own perceived sin, insanely believing we have traded sin for innocence, thus escaping God's wrathful and murderous vengeance. Only in delusions can this be true, yet since we believe in them, Jesus continually reminds us of our insanity, and thus cautions us:

Beware of the temptation to perceive yourself unfairly treated. In this view, you seek to find an innocence that is not Theirs [God's and Christ's] but yours alone, and at the cost of someone else's guilt (T-26.X.4:1-2).

Each of us plays this game with one another, and it is the pledge to suffering and pain that truly makes our world go round, without which it would "fade into the nothingness from which it came" (M-13.1:2) and we would "disappear into the Heart of God" (W-pII.14.5:5). Guilt protects our separated selves and world, and we need the participation of others in the sandbox of guilt to preserve the ego's delusions of sin and attack. Our mutual promises therefore reinforce the thoughts of separation and specialness that establish the body—the embodiment of the ego—as real, and therefore the tiny, mad idea that is its source. And so an alliance of guilt and hate is forged, regardless of its seemingly benign forms of expression:

A cautious friendship, and limited in scope and carefully restricted in amount, became the treaty that you had made with him. Thus you and your brother but shared a qualified entente, in which a clause of separation was a point you both agreed to keep intact. And violating this was thought to be a breach of treaty not to be allowed (T- 29. I.3:8-10).

Our fidelity to this strange agreement perpetuates the ego's insanity, and violating its principles of specialness and judgment carries severe penalties:

To the ego, the guiltless are guilty. Those who do not attack are its "enemies" because, by not valuing its interpretation of salvation, they are in an excellent position to let it go.…To the ego, the ego is God, and guiltlessness must be interpreted as the final guilt that fully justifies murder (T-13. II.4:2-3;6:3).

This is why changes in a relationship are usually experienced as threatening, an experience of fear that inevitably gives rise to anger at the one who is perceived as breaking the alliance of guilt. For example, the defenselessness of one in the face of attack, when it had formerly been met with counterattacks, is experienced by the attacker as betrayal, punishable by even stronger attacks. Those standing up in the sandbox of guilt and attack are pariahs, deserving only to be ostracized as traitors for they have gone against the ego's holy writ of specialness, weakening the thought system that is the identity of all who play in the sandbox of judgment and hate. Thus Jesus says of himself:

Many thought I was attacking them, even though it was apparent I was not.…What you must recognize is that when you do not share a thought system, you are weakening it. Those who believe in it therefore perceive this as an attack on them. This is because everyone identifies himself with his thought system, and every thought system centers on what you believe you are (T- 6.V-B.1:5,7-9).

Each of us, therefore, defends his or her sandbox, for our very survival as a special self depends on it. And woe to the one who threatens the ego's bastions of safety. Our specialness continually pulls on others to remain seated in the sandbox, there to participate in the sand-throwing game of attack and defense until the pain of such childish antics leads us to call out for help: "There must be a better way" (T-2.III.3:5-6). And then we are answered by Jesus in his call to the mind to remember the power of its decision- making self to choose between littleness and magnitude, sparrow or eagle:

Who would attempt to fly with the tiny wings of a sparrow when the mighty power of an eagle has been given him? And who would place his faith in the shabby offerings of the ego when the gifts of God are laid before him? (M-4. I.2:2-3)

When the choice is stated this clearly—guilt or innocence, littleness or magnitude, hell or Heaven—can the decision be difficult? Who, knowing the clear alternatives, would ever choose the little toys of the ego when the gifts of God's Love are held out for the taking?

Conclusion: "Your Innocence Will Light the Way"

When we stand up in the sandbox, having chosen to fly with the eagle's mighty wings instead of the sparrow's weakness, we become invulnerable. The sand the children throw at each other can never reach beyond our legs. Having left behind the toys of guilt, there is nothing to project, for all that remains in our healed minds is the innocence of Christ, shared with all people, without exception. It is that innocence we see in everyone, their ego thoughts, feelings, and behavior to the contrary. Nothing in the sin-filled world of illusion can affect the Holy Spirit's true perception, for the darkened veils of specialness have lifted and in their place is only the shining face of Christ, the Course's symbol of forgiveness and innocence. The world of childhood—a world of needs, demands, and bargains—has indeed been passed by and we at last take our place in the adult chain of Atonement. Our decision- making minds have bound themselves to the masts of forgiveness, with Jesus as our guide, ensuring that we remain free of the ego's thought system of death and destruction.

Very simply, therefore, Jesus calls to us to leave behind the painful world of childhood and grow into adulthood; in a phrase—to become the same loving presence he is. And so we pray to him, in the words of Helen's lovely poem, "A Jesus Prayer" :

A child, a man and then a spirit. So
I follow in the way You show to me
That I may come at last to be like You.
What but Your likeness would I want to be?
(The Gifts of God, p. 82)

Jesus' love beseeches us to stand up and recognize our true spiritual stature, asking: Does an adult resent the giving up of children's toys? (M-13.4:3) He thus encourages us to recognize the pull to littleness, the temptation to play in the sand with children, the lure of the sirenic calls of specialness—all based on our hidden attraction to guilt, the ego's prime preserver of our separated selves. And so when we feel tempted to engage in any thought, feeling, or behavior that detracts from the innocence of God's Son, and thus the innocence of each and every seemingly separated fragment of the Sonship, we should be still and listen to Jesus' words:

Let not the little interferers pull you to littleness. There can be no attraction of guilt in innocence. Think what a happy world you walk, with truth beside you! Do not give up this world of freedom for a little sigh of seeming sin, nor for a tiny stirring of guilt's attraction.…
Let us not let littleness lead God's Son into temptation. His glory is beyond it, measureless and timeless as eternity. Do not let time intrude upon your sight of him. Leave him not frightened and alone in his temptation, but help him rise above it and perceive the light of which he is a part. Your innocence will light the way to his, and so is yours protected and kept in your awareness. For who can know his glory, and perceive the little and the weak about him? Who can walk trembling in a fearful world, and realize that Heaven's glory shines on him? (T-23.in.4:1-4; 5)

What greater function could we have, then, than to choose the light of innocence shining in our minds, and to step aside so it may extend through us in call to those who still are tempted to remain in the darkness of guilt? And the world shines accordingly, reflecting in our healed perception the peace and joy that fills our hearts. Having clung to the mast of Jesus' love, we have resisted the Mephistophelean seductions that would have condemned us to an existence of destruction and death, even as we seemed to enjoy the spoils of the ego's war. Gone are our erstwhile friends—"the 'loveliness' of sin, the delicate appeal of guilt, the 'holy' waxen image of death, and the fear of vengeance" (T-19.IV-D.6:3)—their place taken by the joy that comes from innocence, the peace that heralds the end of conflict, and the love that has wiped away all tears. Happily, we have given answer to the question with which Jesus opens the final section of his text, asking: "Would you be this?"—a child or adult, sparrow or eagle, living in or out of the sandbox:

Temptation has one lesson it would teach, in all its forms, wherever it occurs. It would persuade the holy Son of God he is a body, born in what must die, unable to escape its frailty, and bound by what it orders him to feel. It sets the limits on what he can do; its power is the only strength he has; his grasp cannot exceed its tiny reach. Would you be this, if Christ appeared to you in all His glory, asking you but this:

Choose once again if you would take your place among the saviors of the world, or would remain in hell, and hold your brothers there.

For He has come, and He is asking this (T-31.VIII.1).

We joyfully answer yes—we will take our place among the adult saviors of children—and pledge each day to renew our answer, even in the presence of the seductive persuasions of the sandbox in which it is easy to forget our heart's yearning to become like Jesus: love joining itself. Yet in the end, love's call wins out, as we choose to hear its sweet voice instead of the sirenic sounds of specialness. Standing up, we add our voice to Jesus' as we call home all those who still are tempted to remain as children and forget they are God's Son. Can we fail when Heaven's strength has become our own? Upheld by Heaven's Light, we gather together the lights the ego had sought to separate:

And God Himself and all the lights of Heaven will gently lean to you, and hold you up. For you have chosen to remain where He would have you, and no illusion can attack the peace of God together with His Son (T-23. IV.6:6-7).

 Thus are we home, in the love, peace, and oneness that is our Self.

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Standing Up in the Sandbox: On Leaving the Sirenic World of Childhood – Part 1 of 2 https://facim.org/standing-up-in-the-sandbox-on-leaving-the-sirenic-world-of-childhood-part-1-of-2/ Fri, 01 Mar 2019 17:00:02 +0000 https://facim.org/?p=5049 Volume 18 Number 4 ​December 2007Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.Standing Up in the Sandbox:On Leaving the Sirenic World of Childhood Part 1 of 2Introduction: The Sirenic Seduction of the Ego In the Odyssey, Homer tells the tale of Odysseus and the Sirens, those strange sea goddesses who with their "honey- sweet" voices lured sailors to their death, so […]

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Volume 18 Number 4 ​December 2007
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

Standing Up in the Sandbox:
On Leaving the Sirenic World of Childhood

Part 1 of 2

Introduction: The Sirenic Seduction of the Ego

In the Odyssey, Homer tells the tale of Odysseus and the Sirens, those strange sea goddesses who with their "honey- sweet" voices lured sailors to their death, so enthralled were they by the entrancing songs that they crashed fatally on the rocks. This is how the blind poet describes the situation, in the words of the sorceress Circe, also Odysseus' lover:

You will come first of all to the Sirens, who are enchanters of all mankind and whoever comes their way; and that man who unsuspecting approaches them, and listens to the Sirens singing, has no prospect of coming home and delighting his wife and little children as they stand about him in greeting, but the Sirens by the melody of their singing enchant him. They sit in their meadow, but the beach before it is piled with boneheaps of men now rotted away, and the skins shrivel upon them.1

Since Odysseus insists on hearing these "enchanters of all mankind," Circe counsels him that the way to avoid his certain fate is to instruct the ship's crew to tie him securely to the mast, while they plug their ears with honey wax.

This wonderful myth is a telling metaphor for the ego's seductive calls, luring us to certain death that we can withstand only by binding ourselves to Jesus or the Holy Spirit , and thus remaining safe and secure under Their arch of forgiveness. No guilt or fear can ever touch us when we rest within the twin pillars of our Teachers and Their miracle. Yet like the Greek hero, we must first hear these sirenic voices; otherwise, we will never know what we wish to avoid, and why. The temptations to give way to the calls of specialness are so compellingly strong, we need to be educated by our "Sorcerer" as to the true nature of these sharp-edged children's toys (W-pII.4.5:2), which is where we begin our exploration.

The Sharp-Edged Children's Toys of Specialness

The lure of specialness is found in its lies, for it promises us peace, happiness, and fulfillment. While the malevolence of its call is quite apparent in substances like drugs, alcohol, and war, it is in our relationships with each other that the fatal attraction to the ego can best be seen, for we are drawn to it as moths to a flame. Choosing this insane thought as our teacher is tantamount to a Faustian pact with the devil. In the famous legend, which has undergone numerous variations in literature and music, Faust eternally enslaves himself to Mephistopheles in exchange for twenty-four years of pleasure, knowledge, and power. Thus do we all pledge our minds to the ego for a few morsels of transient joys, never recognizing that what we have purchased is an unending fate of guilt, pain, and death.

In order to preserve its existence, the ego develops a strategy of hiding from us what we really purchased from it. Despite the horrific effects of suffering that we all experience, without knowing its cause—the mind's decision for the ego—we can never undo the pain of our mistaken choices. What contributes to the ego's clever subterfuge that conceals its underlying purpose is the unrelenting emphasis on the body instead of the mind. Having chosen the ego as our teacher, we are condemned to follow its mindless journey to oblivion in which we willingly, albeit insanely, consent to play with guilt and specialness: the sharp-edged children's toys that can only hurt and kill. Indeed, it is impossible to make the body the focus of our experience without feeling the pain of guilt over having again chosen the ego over God, illusion over truth, separation over oneness. Twice in as many sections, Jesus tells us how seeking pleasure with and from the body is the certain recipe for pain, for it is the decision for the ego's littleness instead of the grandeur of Christ—our true Self:

The body does appear to be the symbol of sin while you believe that it can get you what you want. While you believe that it can give you pleasure, you will also believe that it can bring you pain. To think you could be satisfied and happy with so little is to hurt yourself, and to limit the happiness that you would have calls upon pain to fill your meager store and make your life complete.…For guilt creeps in where happiness has been removed, and substitutes for it (T-19.IV-A.17:10-12,14).

It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain.…the inevitable result of equating yourself with the body, which is the invitation to pain. For it invites fear to enter and become your purpose. The attraction of guilt must enter with it, and whatever fear directs the body to do is therefore painful. It will share the pain of all illusions, and the illusion of pleasure will be the same as pain (T-19.IV-B.12:1,4-7).

Such is the body—the ego's sinful toy par excellence, for its origin in separation is preserved and acted out each and every time we make the body real in our experience; a source or instrument of pleasure and pain. This is why Jesus continually addresses us as children, since the toys of specialness are their great pastime. Yet these toys can kill, for their goal is to maintain the separation from life. Nonetheless, they remain but toys of children who do not understand, for how can illusions hurt the Son of God?

You do but dream, and idols are the toys you dream you play with. Who has need of toys but children? They pretend they rule the world, and give their toys the power to move about, and talk and think and feel and speak for them. Yet everything their toys appear to do is in the minds of those who play with them. But they are eager to forget that they made up the dream in which their toys are real, nor recognize their wishes are their own (T-29. IX.4:4-8).

We can therefore paraphrase Shakespeare's famous line to read: "All the world's a sandbox, and all the men and women merely children." Jesus could not have expressed it any more clearly. Possessed with "the little wisdom of a child" (T-29.IX.6:4), we think the toys of sin—the sandbox games of specialness—will give us what we want: special love will lead to happiness; special hate will leave us peaceful. And yet these sand-filled idols are but shabby substitutes for the truth—wearying, dissatisfying gods that are blown-up children's toys (T-30.IV.2:1) that we insist on playing with, never realizing we are dreaming a world in which the toys of war rule and we are its slaves. The truth, however—we the masters and toys the slaves—remains hidden just beyond these dreams of sin.

Thus we but play at being children. Our decision-making minds are the adults, or the ones with the power, luxuriating in the ecstasy of individuality and ingeniously following the strategy of the ego thought system they have embraced. This strategy demands that we put on the clothes of children and play with their toys, magically hoping that in doing so we can escape the gruesome pain of our mind's guilt-ridden thoughts:

[The child] thinks he needs them [his toys] that he may escape his thoughts, because he thinks the thoughts are real. And so he makes of anything a toy, to make his world remain outside himself, and play that he is but a part of it (T-29.IX.5:8-9).

The true problem, therefore, is that we have made real the guilt in our minds, which in turn establishes that the sin of separation was an actual event, and so the world that arose from this thought must be real as well. As these illusions are accepted as reality, our individual, special selves become solidified in the lie with which we identify so strongly. For that reason, echoing St. Paul's famous passage in 1 Corinthians (13:11), Jesus urges us to grow up:

There is a time when childhood should be passed and gone forever. Seek not to retain the toys of children. Put them all away, for you have need of them no more (T-29. IX.6:1-3).

And he continues in the next chapter:

They [illusions] are but toys, my child, so do not grieve for them. Their dancing never brought you joy. But neither were they things to frighten you, nor make you safe if they obeyed your rules. They must be neither cherished nor attacked, but merely looked upon as children's toys without a single meaning of their own.… Look calmly at its toys, and understand that they are idols which but dance to vain desires. Give them not your worship, for they are not there.… [God's Son's] one mistake is that he thinks them real. What can the power of illusions do?

However, our ears remain closed to this exhortation, for we still yearn for the gifts of specialness, allowing ourselves to be lured by its sirens of seduction. To ensure that it is the voice of specialness we hear and not the Voice of truth, we enlist allies in our campaign. This is one way of understanding why, when the ego made the world, it provided so many opportunities for God's Son to arm himself in the shields of special relationships. Thus he is able to insulate his experience in illusion and protect his separated self from truth's "incursions" into the fortresses of judgment and hate. It is to these "qualified ententes" we now turn, the secret bargains that engender and inform all our relationships, beginning with birth, on through life, and culminating in the body's death—all pointing an accusing finger at our co-conspirators in sin, saying: "Behold me, brother, at your hand I die" (T-27.I.4:6).

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1. The Odyssey of Homer, Richard Lattimore, trans.; Harper and Row, New York: 1965; pp. 186-90; quoted here as prose.

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The Diver https://facim.org/the-diver/ Fri, 15 Feb 2019 17:00:05 +0000 https://facim.org/?p=4986 Volume 10 Number 3 September 1999Gloria WapnickKenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.The Diver In a previous article in "The Lighthouse," we discussed the resistance that students of A Course in Miracles inevitably have towards not only understanding what Jesus is teaching, but also in applying his principles of forgiveness to their everyday lives. In the current article we explore […]

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Volume 10 Number 3 September 1999
Gloria Wapnick
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

The Diver

In a previous article in "The Lighthouse," we discussed the resistance that students of A Course in Miracles inevitably have towards not only understanding what Jesus is teaching, but also in applying his principles of forgiveness to their everyday lives. In the current article we explore in more depth one aspect of this resistance: the fear—in one sense at least a justified fear—of looking at the ego's thought system of guilt and hate.

Friedrich Schiller, the great German poet, dramatist, and man of letters, wrote a ballad in 1797 called "Der Taucher" ("The Diver"), which outside Germany is probably more well known in the musical setting of Franz Schubert. It is the tragic tale of a young squire who accepts a royal challenge and successfully dives to the bottom of a raging sea to retrieve a golden goblet thrown there by the king. He tempts fate a second time when the cruel king says he can have the hand of his beautiful daughter if he but repeats his previous success. Sadly this time, the young man does not return from the depths. Before his fatal dive from the cliff, however, he prophetically says the following to the king, speaking of the raging torrent from which he has just escaped:

For below it is dreadful
And man should not tempt the gods;
And should never desire to behold
What they mercifully cover with night and horror.1

Schiller's work was an ongoing source of inspiration to German intellectuals, although he is most remembered today only for his poem, "Ode to Joy," immortalized by Beethoven in his Ninth Symphony. Among those inspired by Schiller were Sigmund Freud and C. G. Jung, the latter specifically remarking on the above four lines as reflecting "the real meaning of that glimpse into the abysses of human nature."2 One can easily read deeper meaning into Schiller's verse, and see depicted there the frightening depths of the human psyche—it is dreadful—and then the almost equally frightening defense—night and horror—that enables one to survive, albeit barely, in the world.

Though Freud was the first psychologist to expose fully the horrors of the unconscious ego mind, he was certainly not the first to have made such observations. Among many, many others, we may cite the German 18th-century romantic poet Novalis, who said: "One is necessarily terrified when one casts a glance into the depths of the mind."3 Indeed, Freud was properly terrified at what he saw in his self-analysis, as well as in his patients, and described the unconscious with adjectives like horrible, perverse, primitive, savage, evil, disgusting, monstrous, dangerous, and frightening, and with phrases such as a cauldron full of seething excitations, filled with chaos, half-tamed demons, strange and uncanny things, and evil spirits.

In A Course in Miracles, we also find Jesus frequently offering us a glimpse into the nature of the abyss that is the terrifying thought system of the ego mind. It is not a pretty picture. Guilt is ugly and uglier still, reflecting the monstrously sinful deed it claims to truly express—nothing less than the murder of God and the crucifixion of His Son. Here are two examples that express the horror of the ego's vicious and murderous world of guilt. Let the reader beware; this is strong stuff:

Fear's messengers are trained through terror, and they tremble when their master calls on them to serve him. For fear is merciless even to its friends. Its messengers steal guiltily away in hungry search of guilt, for they are kept cold and starving and made very vicious by their master, who allows them to feast only upon what they return to him. No little shred of guilt escapes their hungry eyes. And in their savage search for sin they pounce on any living thing they see, and carry it screaming to their master, to be devoured ....they will bring you word of bones and skin and flesh. They have been taught to seek for the corruptible, and to return with gorges filled with things decayed and rotted. To them such things are beautiful, because they seem to allay their savage pangs of hunger. For they are frantic with the pain of fear, and would avert the punishment of him who sends them forth by offering him what they hold dear (T-19.IV-A.12:3-7; 13:2-5).

Hate is specific. There must be a thing to be attacked. An enemy must be perceived in such a form he can be touched and seen and heard, and ultimately killed. When hatred rests upon a thing, it calls for death....Fear is insatiable, consuming everything its eyes behold, seeing itself in everything, compelled to turn upon itself and to destroy.

Who sees a brother as a body sees him as fear's symbol. And he will attack, because what he beholds is his own fear external to himself, poised to attack, and howling to unite with him again. Mistake not the intensity of rage projected fear must spawn. It shrieks in wrath, and claws the air in frantic hope it can reach to its maker and devour him (W-pI.161.7:1-8:4).

This inner world of horror is so intolerable that it demands a defense to protect us. And so the ego promises us protection from this dreadful below if we but follow its deceitful counsel and escape to its made-up world, the physical universe: the horrific home of bodies, special relationships, and death. And yet this world appears to be outside our guilty minds, and thus identifying with it brings the appearance of relief and safety from our perceived sin. In a number of places the Course refers to these—the ego's problem and its answer—as two dreams, the world's dream (the body) covering the ego's secret dream (the mind) (e.g., T-27.VII.11:4-12:6). Borrowing Schiller's imagery again, we may say that the outer world of horror covers the dreaded inner sea of horror. Thus are we offered a double shield against what the ego would never have us really look at. For beyond its twin worlds of horror and horror lies the ego's secret fear: that we might come to recognize the Love of God that is our true reality and our true Home, reflected in our split minds by the Holy Spirit. Yet one cannot awaken to that Love without first going through the two worlds of dreams, as we see in this passage from the prose poem, The Gifts of God, which clearly expresses the fear of looking at the first dream:

They [the world's dreams] content the frightened dreamer for a little while and let him not remember the first dream [the mind's dream of sin, guilt, and fear—Schiller's below it is dreadful] which gifts of fear but offer him again. The seeming solace of illusions' gifts are now his armor [Schiller's cover (of) night and horror], and the sword he holds to save himself from waking. For before he could awaken, he would first be forced to call to mind the first dream once again (The Gifts of God, p. 120).

Because of this fear—totally made up, although unbeknownst to us—we retreat into the physical world of pseudo-problems and pseudo-answers, of seeming-life and seeming-death, and remain still further from the truth that is buried in our minds beneath the two dreams. Thus, this underlying torrent that constitutes the secret dream is not recognized, as we choose not to dive. It is an immutable psychological law, however, that what remains unexposed in the unconscious, festers within, only to rear its ugly head in our daily lives. Our judgments against ourselves, our "secret sins and hidden hates" (T-31.VIII.9:2), become projected out in the form of judgment, condemnation, and the need to criticize and find fault—all these are simply the inevitable result of such "protection" of our own unforgiveness:

The [unforgiving] thought protects projection, tightening its chains, so that distortions are more veiled and more obscure; less easily accessible to doubt, and further kept from reason (W-pII.1.2:3).

As Jung observed, in discussing the tragic implications of denying the unconscious (or the "shadow"):

The "man without a shadow" is statistically the commonest human type, one who imagines he actually is only what he cares to know about himself. Unfortunately, neither the so-called religious man nor the man of scientific pretensions forms an exception to this rule.4

In the words of The Song of Prayer, companion supplement to A Course in Miracles, Jung's description reflects the hateful dynamic of forgiveness-to-destroy, wherein people consciously believe they are being loving, forgiving, and peaceful, when all they are truly doing is projecting their unconscious hatred onto the world. Unfortunately, the history of world religions and nation states—past and present—flows with blood in the name of such seeming qualities as love, forgiveness, and peace. It would be difficult to underestimate the tragic consequences (T-3.I.2:3) of such denial, and the world bears painful witness to its efficacy. It is therefore essential that this dynamic be understood so that the mistake can be finally undone. Not doing the inner work of forgiveness, of asking the Holy Spirit's help to accept His correction in our minds for our mis-thoughts, of learning to accept the Atonement for ourselves, is the invitation for the ego to conceal its pseudo-reality of sin, guilt, fear, and hatred behind the mantle of respectability—equally illusory—of spirituality and religion. And all the time we are so sure our position is right and just, we are concealing the seething cauldron of hatred that lies in the sea just below the threshold of our awareness.

Thus, we may read A Course in Miracles as Jesus asking us to be divers, meaning that he asks us to take his hand as we dive—albeit gently and carefully—into the abyss of the ego thought system. With his love by our side, we expose the mind's seemingly raging torrent of sin, guilt, fear, and murder that mercifully lies just beyond the cover of the world's night and horror—the ostensible pain of living in this bodily world of specialness and hate. And so it is that the only way one could truly respond to the Holy Spirit's guidance is by retracing with Him the mad course into insanity, walking up the ladder that the separation led us down (T-18.I.8:3-5; T-28.III.1:2), after first recognizing we are down, and what being down really means. The process of forgiveness, therefore, calls on us to examine—without judgment—the shadowy world of our special relationships that is the mirror of the inner world of guilt's dark shadow. This is the guilt-driven world we would then see:

The acceptance of guilt into the mind of God's Son was the beginning of the separation, as the acceptance of the Atonement is its end. The world you see is the delusional system of those made mad by guilt. Look carefully at this world, and you will realize that this is so. For this world is the symbol of punishment, and all the laws that seem to govern it are the laws of death. Children are born into it through pain and in pain. Their growth is attended by suffering, and they learn of sorrow and separation and death. Their minds seem to be trapped in their brain, and its powers to decline if their bodies are hurt. They seem to love, yet they desert and are deserted. They appear to lose what they love, perhaps the most insane belief of all. And their bodies wither and gasp and are laid in the ground, and are no more. Not one of them but has thought that God is cruel (T-13.In.2).

And so in taking the Holy Spirit's hand, as it were, we are led into the depths of the ego's thought system—the defense against the Holy Spirit's correction—but the ego (the symbol of our fear) fights back in order to preserve its identity. A Course in Miracles teaches us that we need to look at the darkness that we believe is within our minds, but the ego says to us in response that if we do so, we shall, like Medusa's victims, turn to stone and be destroyed. This aspect of the ego's defensive arsenal must be seen for the trick it is, otherwise we shall be forever afraid of this next step, leading inevitably to our choosing the ego's forgiveness-to-destroy—wherein, again, we attack but call it love, forgiveness, and peace—instead of the true forgiveness offered us by the Holy Spirit. These are but a few expressions of the ego's tactic of inducing fear:

As you approach the Beginning, you feel the fear of the destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death (T-3.VII.5:10).

The ego is, therefore, particularly likely to attack you when you react lovingly, because it has evaluated you as unloving and you are going against its judgment. The ego will attack your motives as soon as they become clearly out of accord with its perception of you. This is when it will shift abruptly from suspiciousness to viciousness, since its uncertainty is increased (T-9.VII.4:5-7).

As the light comes nearer you will rush to darkness, shrinking from the truth, sometimes retreating to the lesser forms of fear, and sometimes to stark terror (T-18.III.2:1).

Loudly the ego tells you not to look inward, for if you do your eyes will light on sin, and God will strike you blind. This you believe, and so you do not look....Loudly indeed the ego claims it is; too loudly and too often (T-21.IV. 2:3-4,6).

Yet a dream cannot escape its source, which is always the mind of the dreamer: where the dream begins and the only place it can truly be undone (T-27.VII.12:6). Looking within with Jesus we realize, thankfully, that this fear is all made up: the ego is not this swirling mass of chaotic and demonic energy, but like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz, simply an insignificant and harmless mass of nothing that dissolves in the gentle presence of truth. It is the simple change of mind—turning from the ego and to the Holy Spirit—that removes the "reality" from the ego's thought system. Thus, Jesus urges us to look at the seeming content of the secret dream (T-17.IV.9:1), and comforts us not to be afraid of what only appears to be within:

Be not afraid, therefore, for what you will be looking at is the source of fear, and you are beginning to learn that fear is not real (T-11.V.2:3).

Do not be afraid to look within. The ego tells you all is black with guilt within you, and bids you not to look. Instead, it bids you look upon your brothers, and see the guilt in them. Yet this you cannot do without remaining blind. For those who see their brothers in the dark, and guilty in the dark in which they shroud them, are too afraid to look upon the light within. Within you is not what you believe is there, and what you put your faith in. Within you is the holy sign of perfect faith your Father has in you....Can you see guilt where God knows there is perfect innocence? You can deny His knowledge, but you cannot change it. Look, then, upon the light He placed within you, and learn that what you feared was there has been replaced with love (T-13.IX.8:1-7,11-13).

And so when at last we dive down into our minds by shifting the perception of our relationships, Jesus' love being our guide and our safety, we realize gratefully that there was indeed nothing there—nothing to fear, nothing to defend against. Only then do we understand that the precious goblet and beautiful princess are already our treasure—sought for within the mind, not in the world; to be accepted, not won. And we give thanks "that for all this [we] gave up nothing!" (T-16.VI.11:4)

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1. Schiller's original German: Aber da unten ist's fuerchterlich,/und der Mensch versuche die Goetter nicht,/und begehe nimmer und nimmer zu schauen,/was sie gnaedig bedecken mit Nacht und Grauen.
2. Psychological Types
, Volume VI of The Collected Works (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1971), p. 96.
3. Quoted in L.L. Whyte, The Unconscious before Freud (Basic Books, New York, 1960), p. 121.
4. On the Nature of the Psyche, Volume VIII of The Collected Works (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1969), p. 208.

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Keep Your Eyes on the Prize – Part 2 of 2 https://facim.org/keep-your-eyes-on-the-prize-part-2-of-2/ Tue, 15 Jan 2019 17:00:00 +0000 https://facim.org/?p=4725 Volume 24 Number 1 March 2013Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.Keep Your Eyes on the PrizeRemembering Our PurposePart 2 of 2Holding Jesus' HandIt is an essential part of the Course's curriculum that we never proceed without the help and guidance of our Inner Teacher, the Holy Spirit or Jesus. As discussed just above, Jesus is a symbol of […]

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Volume 24 Number 1 March 2013
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Remembering Our Purpose

Part 2 of 2


Holding Jesus' Hand

It is an essential part of the Course's curriculum that we never proceed without the help and guidance of our Inner Teacher, the Holy Spirit or Jesus. As discussed just above, Jesus is a symbol of our right minds, to which we go when we recognize the futility and pain inherent in choosing to be separate from God and from each other. It is important if we are to complete the journey from body (judgment) to mind (vision) that we make the transition from symbol to source, the forms of love to its content. For us, then, Jesus is such a symbol:

The name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol. But it stands for love that is not of this world. It is a symbol that is safely used as a replacement for the many names of all the gods to which you pray (M-23.4:1-3).

Jesus' love, representing our Source's Love, is both the means and end for us as we journey home with him. We so gratefully think of him as our hearts intone the words that were originally meant to denote God:

Our Love awaits us as we go to Him, and walks beside us showing us the way. He fails in nothing. He the End we seek, and He the Means by which we go to Him (W-pII.302.2).

This is the meaning of the moving line at the end of the text, where Jesus exhorts us to hold his outstretched hand as we keep our eyes fixed on the radiant prize that is always shining in our minds:

In joyous welcome is my hand outstretched to every brother who would join with me in reaching past temptation, and who looks with fixed determination toward the light that shines beyond in perfect constancy (T-31.VIII.11:1).

Now choosing Jesus as our teacher, we keep our eyes on salvation's prize, walking with him as we traverse the apparently perilous path that inevitably leads us through the darkness of hell. Despite the Scyllas and Charybdes of the ego's treacherous handiwork of special love and special hate, we are comforted by knowing that Jesus is with us, leading us through the ego's labyrinth of the night, to adopt Goethe's evocative phrase. He reassures us when he says that within our dreamworld of specialness, his guiding us through the tenebrous clouds of guilt to the light is no "idle fantasy" (W-pI.70.8-9).

Taking Jesus' hand and holding fast to his love represents our change of mind from following the ego's guilt-driven guidance: from guilt, through guilt, returning to guilt. Having recognized the cost to us of losing the prize of salvation, we joyfully choose a different teacher. In this regard, Jesus does not counsel us to fight the ego, attempting to defeat it as an enemy. Rather, he encourages us to look at the illusory ego through his eyes, denying its denial of truth (T-12.II.1:5), the gentle process of acceptance that heralds truth's return to our heretofore closed minds that have been purified of thoughts that were never truly there:

When you unite with me you are uniting without the ego, because I have renounced the ego in myself and therefore cannot unite with yours. Our union is therefore the way to renounce the ego in you.… Leave all illusions behind, and reach beyond all attempts of the ego to hold you back. I go before you because I am beyond the ego. Reach, therefore, for my hand because you want to transcend the ego (T-8.V.4:1-2; 6:6-8).

We are motivated to choose Jesus as our teacher through our desire for the goal, the loving prize of our homecoming that he assures will be ours once we take his hand and walk the pathway of forgiveness. Yet we need to be ever-vigilant lest the ego's goals of special gratifications, which appear to satisfy our physical and psychological needs, resume their wrong-minded place on center stage. These temptations often become particularly strong and seductive when our egos (i.e., the part of our split minds that likes being us) feel threatened by definite incursions into its special ramparts of guilt and attack through our choosing a different teacher (see, for example, T-8.V.5:5-6; T-9.VII.4:4-7). That is when we need to trust Jesus all the more, which really means trusting ourselves to complete the process of forgiveness that we have begun, no longer tolerating the need to skip the painful steps of looking at the ego's ugliness. Our beloved teacher encourages us not to accord any power to the darkness, for the light of truth is stronger than any illusion, despite its apparent ability to halt our progress:

As the light comes nearer you will rush to darkness, shrinking from the truth, sometimes retreating to the lesser forms of fear, and sometimes to stark terror.… Let us then join quickly in an instant of light, and it will be enough to remind you that your goal is light.… I hold your hand as surely as you agreed to take your brother's. You will not separate, for I stand with you and walk with you in your advance to truth (T-18.III.2:1,5; 5:5-6).

The above passage further underscores, by implication, what it means to take Jesus' hand on the journey. It cannot truly be his we hold if we do not include all people. Do we really believe that Jesus' love would exclude anyone, anyone at all? Yet this we do believe when we attempt to justify our judgments, grievances, and petty hates. If the healing of God's Son is the world's only purpose, and if all of us are part of God's one Son, how can our elder brother heal us unless we bring to him all thoughts that would keep us separate from each other?

Joining with Jesus makes sense only when we join with others through forgiveness, recognizing that every seemingly separated and fragmented member of the Sonship shares the single purpose of awakening from this nightmare we call existence. We reclaim the shared prize of salvation through our all-inclusive kindness to every living and nonliving thing, beginning with the specific special love and hate relationships that are most problematic to us. These relationships are the means Jesus uses to lead us through the darkness of our fears to the light of our salvation. It would be helpful as we read the following words of comfort, filling out the previously quoted passage, to think very specifically, as the workbook lessons encourage us to do, of all those we would wish to exclude from the kingdom of our forgiveness and love, special figures from our personal and collective worlds alike:

You who hold your brother's hand also hold mine, for when you joined each other you were not alone.… In your relationship is this world's light.…[and] you have joined with me in bringing Heaven to the Son of God, who hid in darkness. You have been willing to bring the darkness to light, and this willingness has given strength to everyone who would remain in darkness (T-18.III.4:1,3; 6:1-2).

Asking Jesus for help means that we look with him at our egos, bringing to his forgiving, light-filled love the guilt-ridden darkness of all illusions. Our little willingness to release these unkind thoughts releases the loving thoughts we think with God (W-pI.rIV.in), which had been held in safekeeping for us until our readiness to claim them. This is the message of these loving words from Jesus that come early in the text:

I have saved all your kindnesses and every loving thought you ever had. I have purified them of the errors that hid their light, and kept them for you in their own perfect radiance.… I place the peace of God in your heart and in your hands, to hold and share. The heart is pure to hold it, and the hands are strong to give it. We cannot lose.… The Thoughts of God are with you (T-5.IV.8:3-4,10-12,15).

All that is required is that we recognize the insane part of our minds that would still prefer the prize of specialness, always looking out for ways of gaining it at someone else's expense, cherishing its puny and fragmenting gifts in preference to the lovingly uniting gifts of God. We look without judgment at such madness, and all the insidious ways we have sought to conceal the light of Atonement by maintaining the seeming truth of our mindless existence. By looking with Jesus, we can at last compare the ego's prize with the one our teacher holds out to us; contrasting the ego's inheritance of loss, suffering, and death with our true inheritance of eternal life and everlasting joy. Most important of all, to repeat this essential point, is our learning that in order to gain this prize of salvation for ourselves, we must share it with everyone we meet or even think about; otherwise it will not be ours.

The Prize is the Beauty of Our Inheritance As God's Son

The most wondrous fact in our choosing the prize of salvation, which is the return to our natural inheritance as God's one Son, is that it costs us nothing—literally! To have the everything that Jesus guarantees us, we are asked merely to look at the ego's seeming something, and realize it is nothing. Where then is the feeling of sacrifice or giving up something of value? What price can there be to pay for letting go of the illusion that never was, and accepting as truth what always has been? What is there that could be more relieving than to hear these words that dispel all guilt:

What guilt has wrought is ugly, fearful and very dangerous. See no illusion of truth and beauty there. And be you thankful that there is a place where truth and beauty wait for you. Go on to meet them gladly, and learn how much awaits you for the simple willingness to give up nothing because it is nothing (T-16.VI.10:4-7).

Despite our ego's protestations of how difficult this course is, how impossible to understand, learn, and practice it, it is actually quite simple and easy: let go of what is not there, and joyfully identify with the Self that is. Returning to this essential thought, we read: "This course requires almost nothing of you. It is impossible to imagine one that asks so little, or could offer more" (T-20.VII.1:7-8). When we read these words, however, the double question remains: Why do we still persist in denying ourselves the only joy possible in this world, knowing we are truly forgiven because our perceived sins had no effect on the prize of salvation Jesus holds out for us? Why do we not rush gladly to meet our truth and beauty, leaving behind the guilt-laden illusions of salvation?

Being resistant to accepting our simple happiness makes no sense unless we recognize the need for the insanity of believing the ego's lies and stories, and not believing the God Who simply thinks otherwise (T-23.I.2:7). The call of specialness that reflects our individual, autonomous self still sounds more appealing than the still, small Voice that beckons us home. Thus the purpose of A Course in Miracles: to teach us to unlearn the ego's madness—foregoing guilt's seductive temptations—thereby making room for our inner teacher, whose loving hand gently guides us to our God to claim the prize of our inheritance as His Son.

And so Jesus wants us to truly appreciate the gift he is offering, to offset the shabby gifts of specialness we have always cherished over love. He contrasts for us the ego's grandiosity/littleness with the grandeur/magnitude of God (T-9.VIII; T-15.III). All we need do to remember our greatness as Christ, the loving extension of our Source, is to look at the ego's gifts once and for all, saying: "This is no longer what I want for myself or my brothers. Instead I choose the gifts that Jesus gladly puts in my hands":

A quiet world, with gentle ordering and kindly thought, alive with hope and radiant in joy, without the smallest bitterness of fear upon its loveliness. Accept this now, for I have waited long to give this gift to you. I offer it in place of fear and all the "gifts" that fear has given you.…when we come together there can be no way in which the Word of God can fail. For His the Word that makes us one in Him, and mine the Voice that speaks this Word to you (The Gifts of God, p. 118).

This, again, is the Word (the atoning Word of forgiveness) we share with everyone and everything, exempting no one and no thing from its universal blessing of healing.

Jesus' quiet world has no equivalent in the world the ego made. It is a world that extends the needlessness of God's right-minded Son, just as the world that was made as an attack on God (W-pII.3.2:1) is the projection of the need-dominated son of specialness, the ego's miscreation. Such neediness has its roots in the Son's ontological need to flee his sinful mind in the magical hope of escaping the ego God's wrathful vengeance. This inherent need is at the root of the body, a veritable need machine that is constantly demanding satisfaction of its need for physical survival, rest, and emotional sustenance as it exists solely to maximize its pleasure and minimize its pain. We recognize here the perennial noise the Course refers to as the ego's "raucous screams and senseless ravings" (T-21.V.1:6).

However, without needs driving our lives, we are free to remember the world of light that is our home, "trailing clouds of glory" (in Wordsworth's happy phrase) as we extend this glory to all people and all things. Thoughts of Heaven's love fill our healed minds, and our perceptions flow with the reflected magnificence of the world beyond perception. Our minds are still, and the light-filled inheritance that was God's loving promise in our creation is our only reality:

The Name of God is the inheritance He gave to those who chose the teaching of the world to take the place of Heaven.…our purpose is to let our minds accept what God has given as the answer to the pitiful inheritance [we] made as fitting tribute to the Son He loves (W-pI.184.12:5-6).

Filled with the joy of salvation, we join our voice with our elder brother's, bringing all who have walked with us on the ego's bleak road of death. Suddenly the mists of sin and guilt have lifted, leaving only the prize of salvation for us and all the world. Through the forgiving, unified eyes of Christ's vision, we joyously watch the world recede, softly fading into the nothingness from which it came (M-13.1:2). In its place arises the beauty of true perception, reflecting the radiant glory of the right-minded decision for the Atonement and its forgiveness. This loveliness is seen in all living and nonliving things alike, once we look through Jesus' eyes and see the world as he does. In great joy we hear the hymn of forgiveness as it blesses our Father's sinless and unified Son in glad acceptance of our remembering Who we are as Christ, the Child that God created one with Him:

And what has been forgiven must join, for nothing stands between to keep them separate and apart. The sinless must perceive that they are one, for nothing stands between to push the other off. And in the space that sin left vacant do they join as one, in gladness recognizing what is part of them has not been kept apart and separate (T-26.IV.2:4-6).

This joyous gladness is born in the recognition that we have kept our eyes on the prize, holding Jesus' hand for support and guidance as we learned his kind lessons of forgiveness. Paraphrasing the inspirational closing line of "For They Have Come," we say midst tears of gratitude: "Now is our and Jesus' purpose done, for we have remembered our goal and have come home, we have come home at last!" (T-26. IX.8:7-9).

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Keep Your Eyes on the Prize – Part 1 of 2 https://facim.org/keep-your-eyes-on-the-prize-part-1-of-2/ Tue, 01 Jan 2019 17:00:33 +0000 https://facim.org/?p=4718 Volume 24 Number 1 March 2013Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.Keep Your Eyes on the PrizeRemembering Our Purpose​Part 1 of 2"Keep Your Eyes on the Prize" is a folk song that became prominent during the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, though the song was composed as a traditional gospel hymn well before World War […]

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Volume 24 Number 1 March 2013
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Remembering Our Purpose

Part 1 of 2

"Keep Your Eyes on the Prize" is a folk song that became prominent during the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, though the song was composed as a traditional gospel hymn well before World War I. Its lyrics were adapted by civil rights activist Alice Wine to encourage other activists to continue on, persevering in the face of any and all obstacles. Recorded by many notable singers, including Duke Ellington/ Mahalia Jackson, Odetta, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and Bruce Springsteen, the song was the title of the 1987 PBS documentary series about the civil rights movement. The song's moving refrain, Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, serves as the theme of this article, for in A Course in Miracles Jesus asks us similarly: "Keep your eyes on the prize (salvation), remember your purpose, and hold on to me as you journey along to reclaim your rightful inheritance as God's Son and return home."

Remembering Our Purpose

Our lives have become so much with us that it is often difficult to remember the right-minded purpose for our coming into the world, which is to learn the lessons of forgiveness that would lead to the prize of salvation, the penultimate step before ending the dream of exile and awaking to the God we never left (T-10.I.2:1). We also tend to forget what first attracted us to A Course in Miracles: the "something" (or "someone") that spoke to us as we opened its pages. In the end, this "something," regardless of its form, can be nothing less than the attraction of love for love (T-12.VIII). Few would deny the Course's unmistakable authority, with its voice being gently authoritative but without the harsh authoritarianism of many spiritual texts or teachers. Whether or not one accepts the dictating voice as that of Jesus, no one could doubt that its loving and gently wise nature is consonant with the Presence the sane world has associated with him for over two millennia.

Indeed, the purpose of the workbook's year-long lessons is to train the mind to keep its eyes on the prize, remembering our daily purpose of healing relationships, from the moment our eyes open in the morning to the time we go to sleep, and then on through the night until our eyes reopen to greet the new day. As Jesus reminds us:

Forget not that the healing of God's Son is all the world is for. That is the only purpose the Holy Spirit sees in it, and thus the only one it has. Until you see the healing of the Son as all you wish to be accomplished by the world, by time and all appearances, you will not know the Father nor yourself (T-24.VI.4:1-3).

We need to recognize that the world is not too much with us, despite Wordsworth's wonderful poem, and as tempting as it is to identify with his words, or Hamlet's: "How all occasions do inform against me…." To the contrary, it is the ego that is too much with us and informs against our right-minded intentions, given that power by the mind's own decision.

This is another way of saying that we need to forget the world's purpose of amassing more and more toys of specialness, regardless of their cost, and remember our daily purpose of promoting the healing of the mind's faulty belief system of guilt and judgment. Hour by hour, minute by minute, even second by second, we aim to recognize our true identity in the world of separation as dreaming minds, and not the dream figures of bodies, "the 'hero' of the [ego's] dream" (T-27.VIII). We need to constantly and consistently inform our days with the thought that our ultimate purpose is to awaken from the dream of separation, and our specific purpose is the daily practice of forgiveness, the sine qua non for achieving the prize of salvation. "How should the teacher of God spend his day?" in the manual for teachers summarizes this daily attitude throughout each twenty-four-hour period of our lives (M-16.4-5). In fact, we should begin each day with the thought that God is our only goal (W-pII.257-60):

…let him [God's teacher] but remember that he chooses to spend [quiet] time with God as soon as possible, and let him do so…as soon as possible after waking…(M-16.4:3,7).

And then again at night, just before retiring:

If possible, however, just before going to sleep is a desirable time to devote to God. It sets your mind into a pattern of rest, and orients you away from fear (M-16.5:6-7).

Jesus urging us in this way is reminiscent of words written over fifteen hundred years ago, when St. Benedict wrote the Rule that has been the foundation of Western monastic life, up to the present.1 This holy man wrote that as soon as one awakes, before even "heeding the necessities of nature," one should remember God, and all through the day as well. He wrote: "In all things God may be glorified" (in omnibus glorificetur Deus). Indeed, "Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ" (Christo omnino nihil praeponant). Benedict's exhortation to his monks—today and those he has grandfathered throughout the centuries—reflects what A Course in Miracles has taught us to recognize as the shift from body to mind, form to content, the ego to God.

The Course's version of this thought emphasizes the negation of the ego's negation of our Source, the decision-making mind maintaining vigilance only for God and His Kingdom (T-6.V-C) by foreswearing the trinkets of nothing the world attempts to convince us are worthwhile, if not salvific. This saying "not no" (T-21.VII.12:4), allows the truth of our Self to surface in our minds as we bring the darkness of illusions to the light of truth. Thus we read in the text:

Your task is not to seek for love [or truth], but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false (T-16.IV.6:1-2).

Inevitably, then, our experiences would be for the glorification of God and His Son, sharing the common purpose of choosing the means (forgiveness) for achieving Jesus' end (salvation). Here is what our internal teacher asks us to keep in mind, the thought of invulnerability that would undo the ego's lies and stories:

There is one thought in particular that should be remembered throughout the day. It is a thought of pure joy; a thought of peace, a thought of limitless release.… You think you made a place of safety for yourself.… It is not so.… Your defenses will not work, but you are not in danger.… Recognize this, and they will disappear (M-16.6:1-3,5,11,13; italics mine).

The key word here is thought, which is the sole province of the mind, not the body's brain. Just as Benedict was not really speaking of the forms of monastic life but an attitude, neither does Jesus speak of behavior in his course. Indeed, the need for ongoing corrections to the sixth-century saint's vision of dedication to truth—recall the Course's words: "Let, then, your dedication be to the eternal…" (T-19.I.16:1)—led to the rise of different forms of Benedictinism and other religious orders, and then the inevitable corrections within these corrections. And on and on, up to and including the present day. These changes can be directly traced to the perennial confusion of form and content, mind and body.2 As Jesus said in a discussion of the special relationship, with a not-so-veiled reference to the Catholic religions and their sacrament of the Eucharist (communion at Mass):

Whenever any form of special relationship tempts you to seek for love in ritual, remember love is content, and not form of any kind. The special relationship is a ritual of form, aimed at raising the form to take the place of God at the expense of content. There is no meaning in the form, and there will never be. The special relationship…[is] a senseless ritual in which strength is extracted from the death of God, and invested in His killer as the sign that form has triumphed over content, and love has lost its meaning (T-16.V.12:1-4).

To attain the prize of salvation, therefore, we need to learn to keep our eye on the content of our minds, the decision to be wrong or right minded: to choose the ego and its thought system of separation, sin, and specialness, or to decide for Jesus and his corrective thoughts of forgiveness, healing, and peace. That is why remembering the aforementioned thought should be our primary focus throughout the days of our lives. What else could be more important than identifying with this idea, which is indeed our protection, salvation, and very life? What indeed in this valueless world of illusion could possibly be more valuable to us than this thought's remembrance? Workbook Lesson 133 is helpful in this regard by reminding us to lay aside what later is referred to as our "sharp-edged children's toys," the ego's most unsatisfying offerings of specialness (W-pII.4.5:2):

You do not ask too much of life, but far too little. When you let your mind be drawn to bodily concerns, to things you buy, to eminence as valued by the world, you ask for sorrow, not for happiness. This course does not…try to substitute utopian ideas for satisfactions which the world contains. There are no satisfactions in the world (W-pI.133.2).

Even more pointed are the reminders in these two prayers to God from Lessons 257 and 258, "Let me remember what my purpose is." and "Let me remember that my goal is God.":

Father, forgiveness is Your chosen means for our salvation. Let us not forget today that we can have no will but Yours. And thus our purpose must be Yours as well, if we would reach the peace You will for us (W-pII.257.2).

Our goal is but to follow in the way that leads to You. We have no goal but this. What could we want but to remember You? What could we seek but our Identity? (W-pII.258.2)

As any teacher knows, learning is commensurate with motivation. The challenge confronting all teachers, and Jesus is no exception, is to motivate their students to learn. This is no small feat when it comes to letting go of the ego, which seems to be our self. After all, we are choosing to undo who we believe we are, the reason for these words near the end of the text:

There is no statement that the world is more afraid to hear than this:

I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not know what I am doing, where I am, or how to look upon the world or on myself (T-31.V.17:6-7).

And so Jesus needs first to convince us that we are not the person/self with which we identify, but a decision-making mind that is the true source of our distress and peace, subject only to its choice.

In A Course in Miracles we see Jesus repeatedly reminding us of the joys found in learning his lessons of forgiveness and letting go of judgment (e.g., T-3.VI.3:1; W-pI.107). It is the carrot of peace and happiness that he promises will be our prize if we follow him. Indeed, we all need a teacher to instruct us in the wiles of the special relationship, its slippery slopes of "salvation" being so alluring to our ego's need to deny love. We are so easily and frequently enticed by the seductive substitutions of the ego's desire to drown out God's Voice (see T-24.II.4-5) and dismantle the edifice of forgiveness, within which It would have us dwell. While this Teacher can often take an earthly form, it must never be forgotten that this human form is merely the vehicle for returning to the mind's content of our true Teacher, the Voice the Course calls the Holy Spirit. Because we fear the abstract, we need to use the "indirect" specifics to lead us to the nonspecific, nonspecial love that is our home away from home (see T-14.I). Sometimes, an external teacher is needed to represent our inner teacher, who in turn is the symbol of the Teacher that at the end of the journey is revealed to be our right mind's voice, purified of all worldly thoughts, needs, and aspirations. Jesus is the specific and personal name A Course in Miracles uses for this inner teacher.3 We turn to him now, and this coming to our elder brother symbolizes the content of the decision-making mind's turning away from the ego's illusory prize and to the true prize of salvation from the madness of sin and guilt. As is said of Jesus in the teachers' manual:

…turn to one who laid all limits by, and went beyond the farthest reach of learning. He will take you with him.… In him you find God's Answer. Do you, then, teach with him, for he is with you; he is always here (M-23.6:8-9; 7:7-8).

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1. The Holy Rule of St. Benedict. 1949 edition, trans. by Rev. Boniface Verheyen, OSB.
2. I remember from the relatively brief times I spent in monasteries how the monks would sometimes remain faithful in form to Benedict's man­dated practice of silence, but had sufficiently mastered the art of sign language to be able to tell jokes without speaking. This hardly reflected the spirit of Benedict's Rule—"…coarse jests…or speech provoking laughter, we condemn.…"—but demonstrated instead the triumph of form (physical silence) over content (the thoughts they held with God—W-pI.rIV), the hallmark of the special relationship.
3. It goes without saying that a symbol remains a symbol, and if one does not relate to either the Holy Spirit or Jesus, than any other symbol of a non-ego, non-judgmental presence in the mind would work as well. I have simply followed what is said in the Course: "Helpers are given you in many forms, although upon the altar they are one.… But they have names which differ for a time, for time needs symbols, being itself un­real. Their names are legion, but we will not go beyond the names the course itself employs" (C-5.1:3,5-6; italics mine).

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Christmas https://facim.org/christmas/ Sat, 15 Dec 2018 17:00:33 +0000 https://facim.org/?p=4713 ChristmasEdited transcript of YouTube video presented byKenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.An interesting phenomenon of A Course in Miracles is that at different times during Helen's scribing of the Course it was during holiday seasons, particularly at Christmas, Easter, and New Year's. As Helen was scribing and these seasons approached, Jesus was integrating the major theme of whatever […]

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Christmas

Edited transcript of YouTube video presented by
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

An interesting phenomenon of A Course in Miracles is that at different times during Helen's scribing of the Course it was during holiday seasons, particularly at Christmas, Easter, and New Year's. As Helen was scribing and these seasons approached, Jesus was integrating the major theme of whatever it was he was discussing, whether it was in the Workbook or the Text, and integrated this with symbolism of the season. For example, at the beginning of Chapter 20, one finds references to the Easter season, in fact the first section of Chapter 20 is "Holy Week." When it comes to Christmas, there are two places where this occurs. One is in the Workbook, Lesson 303, "The holy Christ is born in me today," and near the end of Chapter 15. I thought I would read one of the particularly lovely brief passages that relate to Christmas. It is Chapter 15, Section XI, paragraph 2:

"The sign of Christmas is a star, a light in darkness. See it not outside yourself, but shining in the Heaven within, and accept it as the sign the time of Christ has come."

This fits in very, very nicely with the theme of that section and the chapter, that the time of Christ is really the Holy Instant in which there is no sacrifice, in which we choose against the ego and choose Jesus as our teacher. And a particular component of that choice is recognizing that there is nothing outside of us that can affect us in any way; that the light of Christmas is not something external, that the birth of Jesus into the world should not be seen as anything that has to do with form or the birth of the body, but basically the appearance of this great symbol of Heaven's love that is in our mind. It is not something that appears and disappears; it is always there. The season of Christmas offers us the opportunity of remembering that the time of Christ is always right now.

A major theme of the Course is that linear time is an illusion, and there is no past and there is no future. So, Christmas is not something that occurred once 2100 years ago, it is not something that we anticipate each year in terms of the gifts we will give and the gifts we will receive. Rather, it is a symbol of the fact that this light is always shining in the darkness of our ego-driven minds, and even as the shadows of guilt that we have made real and have projected onto the world and all the relationships in the world, this light still shines;  the presence of the Holy Spirit in our minds has never disappeared. It is this light shining in darkness that this season is the remembrance of. As we approach this season, with all the hoop-la and all the commercialism that we are all so basically disgusted with, we can nonetheless still use the Christmas symbolism as a reminder to ourselves that despite what goes on in our personal world or the world at large, this light is always shining. And there is nothing, (and this is perhaps the most important aspect of this symbolism), absolutely nothing in the world that can take this light away from us, except our own decision (our own fear) to see that there is a power greater than Heaven, that there is a power greater than love, and that we are that power. This is the source of the belief in separation, this is the belief in guilt, but all this is part of the ego's trickery. The truth of the matter is that this light remains always and can never be extinguished by any of our faulty decisions.

We are told repeatedly in the Course that our life here is a dream, and dreams are not reality. This light of Christmas shining in our minds is the light beyond the dream, is the love that is beyond all the fear, and all the guilt and the hate and the pain and the suffering and the death that so characterizes our world. So, this season, let us remind ourselves that no matter what goes on in our personal world, we can still find this love, this peace, and this hope of Christmas. It is the hope that really ends up being a certainty. It is the hope that tells us no matter what is going on, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, there is always a light that shines in darkness, and it is this light that is the true meaning of Christmas.

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The Sign of Christmas Is a Star” is available as an audio product at our Online Bookstore.

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Learning to Listen – Part 2 of 2 https://facim.org/learning-to-listen-part-2-of-2/ Thu, 15 Nov 2018 17:10:04 +0000 https://facim.org/?p=4651 Volume 14 Number 3 September 2003Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.Learning to ListenPart 2 of 2 It is a psychotherapeutic axiom that one cannot understand when one judges. Judgment is the shadowy projection of separation, while understanding reflects the light of communication: the song of prayer that unites Father and Son, Creator and created, Cause and Effect. One can […]

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Volume 14 Number 3 September 2003
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

Learning to Listen
Part 2 of 2

It is a psychotherapeutic axiom that one cannot understand when one judges. Judgment is the shadowy projection of separation, while understanding reflects the light of communication: the song of prayer that unites Father and Son, Creator and created, Cause and Effect. One can therefore say that learning to listen means learning to give up judgment. Indeed, in the pamphlet "Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process, Practice" Jesus makes letting go of judgment the sole requirement of successful psychotherapy, for it undoes the ego's defensive system of substituting form for content. It allows the therapist to listen to the patient, and hear the call to be proven wrong about the separation. In letting go the barriers of judgment that hinder communication, the ego is undone. The forms of the problem are seen through to the single content of separating and separate interests, and healing occurs as the therapist mirrors to the patient the shared interests of God's one Son: hearing the forgotten melody and remembering the Love that is our one Source. And so we are taught:

It is in the instant that the therapist forgets to judge the patient that healing occurs.…because only then it can be understood that there is no order of difficulty in healing (P-3.II.6:1; 7:1).

What must the teacher do to ensure learning? What must the therapist do to bring healing about? Only one thing; the same requirement salvation asks of everyone. Each one must share one goal with someone else, and in so doing, lose all sense of separate interests. Only by doing this is it possible to transcend the narrow boundaries the ego would impose upon the self. Only by doing this can teacher and pupil, therapist and patient, you and I, accept Atonement and learn to give it as it was received (P-2.II.8).

Returning to our earlier point, as long as we relate to another out of personal need—the assertions of specialness—judgment is inevitable. Our separate interests become the reality, breeding the demand that these needs be met. The relationship now exists solely to satisfy these demands, and it becomes the ego's temple at whose shrine of specialness we all come with our offerings of judgment and special love, which, as A Course in Miracles states, is but a thin veil over hate. The other person has disappeared behind the clouds of scarcity and deprivation, and we no longer see or hear.

Without judgment, however, one can only listen, without imposing one's specialness needs and demands for satisfaction. One is still, quietly doing nothing but looking, waiting, and not judging (W-pII.1.4:1,3). And what is heard is one of two songs: the song of love's reflection, or the song that calls for it. Either way, our response is still love. But for us to hear these songs, and not the ego's song of specialness and hate, we need to be quiet within, to come without needs unto our brother. What better prayer to pass through our hearts and minds than this, adapted from the workbook, on how we approach God; in this case, how we approach God's Son—Christ and our Self:

Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what Christ is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. Hold onto nothing. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your Self (adapted from W-pI.189.7).

"With nothing in our hands to which we cling, with lifted hearts and listening minds" (W-pI.140.12:1), we sit with our brother and listen, just as Jesus guides his psychotherapists, and all of us in our individual interactions:

…no good teacher uses one approach to every pupil. On the contrary, he listens patiently to each one, and lets him formulate his own curriculum; not the curriculum's goal, but how he can best reach the aim it sets for him.…There is Something in him that will tell you, if you listen. And that is the answer; listen. Do not demand, do not decide, do not sacrifice. Listen. What you hear is true (P-2.II.7:2-3; P-3.I.2:3-7; italics mine).

We now understand, having come to our brother without needs that distort our perception, that what appears to be viciousness is only fear (T-3.I.4:2), and is the ego's fear of the Holy Spirit 's Love. In the presence of His soundless song the sounds of our separate and special identity must dissolve. To the extent we believe in this identity we shall fear the melody of forgiveness that recalls to mind—literally—the song our Self still sings to Its Source. Thus it is that the ego in all of us has not only left the Presence of the song, but will attempt through its various and quasi-infinite special relationships to remain as far away as possible from its gentle call.

When the pain of being so far away from those dulcet sounds of love becomes too much to bear, we exclaim—to we-know-not-Whom—there must be a better way (T-2.III.3:5-6). The Holy Spirit's answer is to use the very same specialness designed to avoid love as the means for our return:

However unholy the reason you made them [special relationships] may be, He can translate them into holiness.…You can place any relationship under His care and be sure that it will not result in pain, if you offer Him your willingness to have it serve no need but His.…Do not, then, be afraid to let go your imagined needs, which would destroy the relationship. Your only need is His (T-15.V.5:3-4,7-8).

Thus, our special relationships, when used by the Holy Spirit , become our classrooms in which we learn to hear the forgotten song. What had been a road taking us away from love, is now seen as but a detour—an indirect way Home to be sure, but nonetheless a certain way because of the One walking with us. Framing our journey, our special loves and hates become the contours of our path, not to be judged or attacked, but gently accepted, for without them our way would be lost. That is the meaning of this statement from the text:

Concentrate only on this [your willingness], and be not disturbed that shadows surround it. That is why you came. If you could come without them you would not need the holy instant.…The miracle of the holy instant lies in your willingness to let it be what it is. And in your willingness for this lies also your acceptance of yourself as you were meant to be (T-18.IV.2:4-6,8-9).

But for us to accept how we "were meant to be," we must first accept our defenses against that Self. Thus our shadow-draped ego self becomes the curriculum Jesus uses to teach us to remember Who we truly are.

It is one of the key components of forgiveness that our forgiveness of others—hearing the melody in them—forgives ourselves. I cannot see (or hear) in you what is not already present in me. Thus is every relationship another opportunity to heal and be healed, for the same are one. Again, from the pamphlet on Psychotherapy:

He who needs healing must heal.…Who else is there to heal? And who else is in need of healing?…God does not know of separation. What He knows is only that He has one Son.…The process that takes place in this relationship is actually one in which the therapist in his heart tells the patient that all his sins have been forgiven him, along with his own. What could be the difference between healing and forgiveness? (P-2.VII.1:3,5-6,11-12; 3:1-2)

In any given relationship, at any given instant, one of the two partners is more sane than the other, and it is the responsibility of that one to take the first step in hearing the underlying melody that calls for help, inviting the other to join in forgiveness' happy song of gratitude and peace:

Whoever is saner at the time the threat is perceived should remember how deep is his indebtedness to the other and how much gratitude is due him, and be glad that he can pay his debt by bringing happiness to both. Let him remember this, and say:

I desire this holy instant for myself, that I may share it with my brother, whom I love.

It is not possible that I can have it without him, or he without me.…

And so I choose this instant as the one to offer to the Holy Spirit, that His blessing may descend on us, and keep us both in peace (T-18.V.7:1-4,6).

The same holds for the psychotherapist:

The psychotherapist is a leader in the sense that he walks slightly ahead of the patient, and helps him to avoid a few of the pitfalls along the road by seeing them first. Ideally, he is also a follower, for One should walk ahead of him to give him light to see. Without this One, both will merely stumble blindly on to nowhere (P-2.III.1:1-3).

When we recognize we are listening to the wrong voice and hearing the wrong song, that is the time to "step back and let Him lead the way" (W-pI.155), that we may truly listen and hear. We then hear our brother's call for help behind the shadows of dissonance, and recognize the call for light that is our own as well, for the ego's fog of judgment has no power to conceal the resplendent light of forgiveness:

The light in them shines as brightly regardless of the density of the fog that obscures it. If you give no power to the fog to obscure the light, it has none.…You can remember this for all the Sonship.…To perceive the healing of your brother as the healing of yourself is thus the way to remember God.…And to give a brother what he really wants is to offer it unto yourself, for your Father wills you to know your brother as yourself. Answer his call for love, and yours is answered. Healing is the Love of Christ for His Father and for Himself (T-12.II. 2:1-2,5,9; 3:4-6).

The Holy Spirit’s healing call cannot be heard without our part:

Yet He needs a voice through which to speak His holy Word; a hand to reach His Son and touch his heart (P-2.V.5:6).

Thus does Jesus ask us to be with each other the way he is with us. When we recognize in people's attacks the desperate call for help; when we hear in their viciousness the underlying pain, who would not seek to reach out and touch the source of such pain with "the gentle hands of forgiveness," knowing it would be our own chains of guilt that would fall away, along with our brothers' (T-19.IV-C.2:5)? As Prospero, Shakespeare's final hero, says near the end of The Tempest:

Though with their high wrongs I am struck to the quick.
Yet, with my nobler reason, 'gainst my fury
Do I take part. The rarer action is
In virtue than in vengeance. (V,i)

Jesus asks us to take the "rarer action" of forgiveness: to listen instead of judge, to hear instead of attack, to forgive instead of seeking vengeance. Thus does what we conceived in sin, guilt, and fear becomes transformed into harmonies of forgiveness, love, and healing; the cacophonous world of hate gives way to the sweet sounds of music; the melody of love we sing first to each other metamorphoses as the eternal song we have always sung to God. And our classroom of relationships radiates the star-lit temple of our and our brothers' mutual healing:

Think what the joining of two brothers really means. And then forget the world and all its little triumphs and its dreams of death. The same are one, and nothing now can be remembered of the world of guilt. The room becomes a temple, and the street a stream of stars that brushes lightly past all sickly dreams. Healing is done, for what is perfect needs no healing, and what remains to be forgiven where there is no sin? (P-2.VII.8)

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