Foundation for A Course in Miracles® Dedicated to preserving the teachings of Dr. Kenneth Wapnick on A Course in Miracles Sat, 18 Jan 2020 00:36:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Foundation for A Course in Miracles® 32 32 The Metaphysics of Forgiveness: The Spiritual Practice of “A Course in Miracles” Sat, 01 Feb 2020 17:00:00 +0000 Dr. Kenneth WapnickThe Metaphysics of Forgiveness:The Spiritual Practice of "A Course in Miracles"[1]A Course in Miracles, a twentieth-century scribed work, is a confluence of Eastern and Western thought. It combines a non-dualistic metaphysics, similar to many of the higher teachings of Vedanta and Buddhism, with a sophisticated psychodynamic understanding of human behavior, all presented within a […]

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Dr. Kenneth Wapnick

The Metaphysics of Forgiveness:
The Spiritual Practice of "A Course in Miracles"[1]

A Course in Miracles, a twentieth-century scribed work, is a confluence of Eastern and Western thought. It combines a non-dualistic metaphysics, similar to many of the higher teachings of Vedanta and Buddhism, with a sophisticated psychodynamic understanding of human behavior, all presented within a linguistic Christian framework. Such a framework, however, is purely on the level of language, as the Course’s teachings present an entirely different perspective on Jesus and his message from the two-thousand-year-old tradition. Stated another way, A Course in Miracles integrates a lofty transcendental view of reality with practical guidelines as to how, despite the world’s illusory nature, one lives here attentively and kindly, mindful of the need to practice forgiveness in all relationships.

A difficulty inherent in any student’s practice of a spirituality based on non-dualistic principles is the temptation of denial. Confronted by the problems intrinsic to existence here in the body, an otherwise sincere spiritual aspirant may find it quite attractive to offer a spiritual rationalization for world-avoidance in words such as these: What difference does it make—it is all an illusion anyway. A major purpose of this article, therefore, is to discuss how forgiveness integrates an ontological non-dualism with life in a dualistic world in such a way that non-dualistic reality is not compromised, at the same time our experiences here in the world are respected and used as means to reach our desired end. Forgiveness therefore is the key that unlocks the door that leads us beyond this world to our true Home, enabling us to remember the Oneness in which we were created, and in which is found the reality of our true Self.

Thus we can avoid the seductive attraction of not looking at our problems, magically hoping that they will have somehow been removed from us without our having to do the work of making the deliberate choice to expose their darkness to the light of truth. Moreover, A Course in Miracles helps explain why well-meaning spiritual aspirants so often end up practicing their spirituality in ways that reflect separation and judgment, the very characteristics their goal of oneness with creation and Creator would transcend. Without first uncovering and undoing “the secret sins and hidden hates” [T-31.VIII.9:2] buried in the unconscious mind, these obstacles to love and peace would inevitably manifest as judgment and persecution through the dynamic of projection. In this way we are able to blame others for what we have secretly accused ourselves of having done: separating from love. Thus the Course emphasizes right at the beginning: "The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance" [T-in.1:6-7; italics omitted].

The spiritual practice of forgiveness, as seen in A Course in Miracles, has its underpinning in the metaphysical principle that states that the entire physical universe is an illusion, a dream that had its origin “as an attack on God” [W-pII.3.2:1]. The locus of the dream is the non-spatial, non-temporal, and non-material mind, which in the Course is distinctly separate from the brain, an organ of the body. It is this mind, split off from the Mind that remains as God created it—perfect, eternal, and forever at one with its Source—that first appeared to harbor the thought of separation from God. This thought quickly metamorphosed into a thought system of sin, guilt, and fear—the core of the false self, called ego in A Course in Miracleswhich then needed to be denied to offset the terrifying belief in retributive annihilation. The guilt is then projected as a further defense against confronting it.

The ego thus develops a two-tiered system of defenses: guilt defending against the love of God, and the physical world defending against the guilt. This protects the ego from the mind’s ever deciding against it through our choosing the Holy Spirit’s thought system of love and oneness in its place. This quasi-foolproof system works as long as the guilt remains buried in our minds, protected by the world and our very palpable experiences within it. Indeed, A Course in -Miracles emphasizes that the ego-mind made the body for the specific purpose of witnessing to the seeming reality of the illusory world, thus keeping guilt hidden and protected through repression and projection. The end result of this elaborate set of defenses is the state of mindlessness that constitutes our lives as bodies within a physical universe that is devoid of mind and spirit.

This double shield of oblivion [W-pI.136.5:2], then, as the Course refers to the ego’s system of defenses against the truth, must be set aside if we are ever to attain our spiritual goal. Forgiveness is the name A Course in Miracles gives to the process of undoing the ego’s system of defenses. It is essentially the reversal of projection, bringing back within our minds the guilt we had sought to see outside ourselves and attacked in another. The rationale for our choosing forgiveness is simple: we forgive so that we would feel better. Here is why: as long as the guilt remains hidden in our minds, it is not accessible. Thus it forever remains a secret impediment to our spiritual progress, which can never truly occur as long as the thought of guilt, born out of the belief in the sin of separation and nourished by the fear of punishment, remains as the ego’s principal defense against our remembering the love of God that we both have and are.

We can thus see our spiritual practice as being very simple: we are asked to keep an ever-vigilant eye for all our projections. Under the guidance of our Inner Teacher—in A Course in Miracles this is Jesus or the Holy Spirit—we use each and every day, each and every experience, each and every relationship, as a classroom in which we seek to learn how to forgive; to shift our belief from separate interests to the shared interests of forgiveness that unites us all within the larger dream of separation. This is what the three-step process essentially entails:

1) We begin by recognizing that the source of our distress is ultimately within ourselves, and that the responsibility for our unhappiness cannot be placed on anyone or anything that is outside our minds. Thus, we basically reverse the direction that was taken by our mind’s projection: bringing the guilt back within that we had sought to place without, wherein we sought to make others guilty, having our secret sins rest on them instead of looking at these beliefs within our own minds.

2) When the guilt has been brought back to its origin in our minds, we can exercise the power of our mind’s decision-making ability to change the perception of our self. This shift from the ego’s (or false self’s) image of ourselves as the “home of evil, darkness and sin” [W‑pI.93.1:1], to a self that abides in “light and joy and peace” [W‑pI.93] is what A Course in Miracles refers to as the miracle, the reason for the title of this spiritual text.

3) Once the darkness of our ego’s thought system has been brought to the light of the Holy Spirit—the memory of God’s love that we brought with us into the dream of separation when we first fell asleep—it is gone, just as the darkness of the room disappears once a light is turned on. Or, in the perceptive words of the first letter of John: “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

A Course in Miracles succinctly summarizes the process of forgiveness this way, speaking of undoing the cause of the world. “This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. The first two steps in this process require your cooperation. The final one does not” [W-pI.23.5:2-4].

In this process it is evident that the decision for guilt—the real problem—would forever remain buried in our unconscious minds were it not for the opportunities that the external world—the original projection of the separation thought —provides. Thus, even though the world was originally made to serve the purpose of separation and fragmentation, it can yet be used as a classroom in which we learn the lessons of forgiveness through which we return to our original and ever-constant state of oneness as creations of God. It is by observing our reactions to the phenomenal world around us, as vicious and hateful [e.g. T-27.VIII.10:6] as it may be, that we gain a window into the underlying thoughts that gave rise to them. As A Course in Miracles teaches: [The world is an] “outside picture of an inward condition. …  And you will see the witness to the choice you made, and learn from this to recognize which one you chose” [; 2:6].

In this manner, the ego’s defenses of denial and projection are turned into instruments of healing our minds. Meant to keep God away, they now become the means of our return to Him. The world, conceived in sin, has now become transformed—in Freud’s happy phrase—into the royal road that leads out of the ego’s hell back to the Heaven we never truly left. Its function complete, the world’s illusory nature disappears back “into the nothingness from which it came” [M-13.1:2].

In light of the message of A Course in Miracles, we can better understand the purpose of Jesus’ appearance in the world two thousand years ago. Unlike the salvation story told in the gospel narratives, Jesus “came” to us as a voice and light from outside the world’s dream of separation, bodies, and death, calling us to return to that light. A Course in Miracles helps us better to understand that call as the call to forgive: to return the world to its maker, the mind that conceived it in fear and hate, yet now can learn to perceive it through the eyes of kindness and love. Thus does Jesus become the teacher and guide who gently leads us through the world to the ego mind, which, forgiven, simply fades away as we remember our home in the Mind of God that we never truly left. And so we can say at last to the illusory world a sincere Thank You: “no longer [are you] our enemy, for we have chosen that we be [your] friend” [W-pI.194.9:6].

[1] NECTAR Vol. 3 No. 2, Spring 2002.

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Watching with Angels – Part 2 of 2 Wed, 01 Jan 2020 17:00:36 +0000 Edited transcript of Workshop presented by Dr. Kenneth WapnickWATCHING WITH ANGELSPart 2 of 2Let me read something from Lesson 182, “I will be still an instant and go home.” We are not going to look at the first part of the lesson. That’s where Jesus talks about how the world is not our home and […]

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Edited transcript of Workshop presented by Dr. Kenneth Wapnick

Part 2 of 2

Let me read something from Lesson 182, “I will be still an instant and go home.” We are not going to look at the first part of the lesson. That’s where Jesus talks about how the world is not our home and that we do not even believe there is a home to which we have to return. This is how low we have sunk in terms of what we believe reality is. But then he shifts gears and he talks about what our home really is and he talks about the Child that is in each of us. This is the holy Christ whom we want to be born in us today. The Child is spelled with a capital “C.” Let’s start with paragraph 5. It is Lesson 182 on page 339 in the workbook.

(W-pI.182.5:1) It is this Child in you your Father knows as His Own Son.

So this is our real Self, or to be strictly in line with what the Course is teaching metaphysically, our right-minded self is not this Self. This Self that is our true Self that God created is not in the world at all. So this is another place where Jesus is a little loose with his theology. When he talks about that Christ is reborn as a little Child (which he does later on) each time a wanderer chooses to leave his home (W-pI.182.10:1), what that really means is our right-minded self is a reflection of this Child, and our experience of the Child is as a little Child because our experience is still very weak and our fear is still strong. So strictly speaking, we do not really know that Child.

(W-pI.182.5:2-7) It is this Child Who knows His Father. He desires to go home so deeply, so unceasingly, His voice cries unto you to let Him rest a while. He does not ask for more than just a few instants of respite; just an interval in which He can return to breathe again the holy air that fills His Father’s house. You are His home as well. He will return. But give Him just a little time to be Himself, within the peace that is His home, resting in silence and in peace and love.

In the text, this is referred to as “The Little Willingness” (T-18.IV). There is another place where Jesus talks about all we really have to do each day is have a nod to God (T-24.VI.12:4). We just need a little space within our very busy day filled with our own busyness, which we think is so important, either to the world, to others, or to ourselves. We just need a little space, just a few instants of respite when we recognize that the world is insane, that we are insane for even believing there is a world, let alone a world that is sane. Even if we are not ready to do what we know is the right-minded thing to do, even though we are not ready to totally forgive everyone, even though we are not ready to let the Love of God within us extend and embrace everyone without exception, even if we are not ready to totally let go of the past, or our fear of the future or expectations of the future, even if we are not ready to look in the mirror every morning and say this means nothing, this is nothing. Even though we’re not ready to do that, we at least know that we are not ready to do it.

So when we talk about watching with angels, angels being symbols of just our right-minded thoughts, what watching with angels means is we watch ourselves choose the ego over the Holy Spirit. We watch ourselves choosing to reinforce this identity rather than weaken this identity and then we do all the things in the ego’s arsenal to reinforce this separated self that we believe is who we are. And all we are asked to do, the watching with angels, is watch ourselves do this, as I said a moment ago, with that sweet, gentle smile somewhere that tells us I know this is made up, but I am not going to change, at least not today.

There is that funny line of St. Augustine, who is not a funny man actually, but he had a lot of problems with sexuality before he became what we think of as being a saint and he is reported to have said this prayer. He said Lord, make me chaste, but not today. So we say to Jesus make me holy, make me forgiving, but not today. But at least I know that is what I am doing. That is the brief instance, the “few instants of respite” that Jesus is talking about. He says but give this Child “just a little time to be Himself, within the peace that is His home, resting in silence and in peace and love.” And then realize how I do not want to rest in silence. I do not want to make my home in that “quiet center” (T-18.VII.8:2-3) that the text talks about. I am too busy being busy, thriving on my special hate and special love, thriving on all my ego issues, feeling hurt, feeling rejected, feeling angry, feeling resentful, feeling excited.

When we are asked to have the vision of Christ instead of the judgment of the ego—the judgment of the ego is always something or someone out there is doing something to me which demands my response. The vision of Christ says nothing is being done to you. Whatever you are feeling is coming from your mind’s decision. And the point that I am reiterating over and over again today is that you must recognize that when you are choosing anything that is not absolute peace or absolute forgiveness, it is because you are choosing to reinforce this little self that you think you are. That shifts the whole ballgame from the specifics that you think are so important and significant to the only thing that is important which is your mind’s decision, the power of your mind, to choose the ego or Jesus as your teacher.

It just changes everything. It cuts through all the complicated stuff that the ego throws at us. We are never upset for the reason we think. The only reason we are ever upset is because we told Jesus to get lost, his love was not enough, his teachings are not what we want, and the ego is the home that we want to stay in. That is all we have to know. The little willingness does not mean you will be perfect. It just means you are willing to be perfect.

So we read in the Course a great deal, especially in the text, a great deal about means and end. There is a section called “The Consistency of Means and End” (T-20.VII), that forgiveness is the means and the end would be our awakening from the dream. So in the context of what we are talking about this afternoon, the means would be being quiet, the stillness that we are asked to do.

And the way that we acquire that stillness is to look at our desire not to be quiet and the end that we want is to be reborn. “The holy Christ is born in me today” (W-pII.303), if that is what I want. Now if the holy Christ is going to be born in me today, then that Self, that Christ, has to take the place of the self that I made to be the substitute for Christ.

Another term that signifies specialness is substitution. There is that section called “The Substitute Reality” (T-18.I) where we substitute our reality, or seeming reality for the reality of God. The reality of God is there is only that state of perfect Oneness (T-18.VI.1:6) that we know of as God and Christ, God and His Son perfectly One. And for that Oneness, for that Love, we substituted our separated self and then, of course, special love or special hate that reinforces that separated self.

So in order for the Holy Christ to be born in me today, I have to say I do not want the other self. I do not want the substitute. That is the problem because we do want it. And so the little willingness looks at the fact I do not want the holy Christ to be born in me today. No matter how beautiful that lesson is or so many other passages are, that is not what I want. I do not want to go home with this capital “C” Child because there is no place in that home for me as an individual. So the “nod to God,” the little willingness, the few instants of respite all reflect the part of me that says I know what I am doing and I am not ready yet. I am not even ready to be ready, but at least I know that I am not ready to be ready.

The Course says readiness does not mean mastery (M-4.IX.1:10). Well, I am not even—I am nowhere even near there. Forget about having mastered forgiveness, I am not even ready to be mastering forgiveness because there are some people I do not want to forgive. There are some situations I will never feel comfortable in. There are some memories of my abusive past I will never let go of.

And honesty, the honesty that we are asked to give to Jesus, that honesty says I am making this up but I am not going to let it go. But at least the fact that I know I am making it up is a significant first step towards eventually letting it go. The reason this Course is very gentle—even though it is very authoritative in what it teaches and there is no room for any compromise in terms of what it teaches, but it is very gentle in the application of these teachings—is because we are not asked to do this if we are not ready to.

We are simply asked to be open and honest and say I do not want to do this. I frequently quote Helen when she was taking the Course down in the early weeks and she and Bill were getting an idea of what they were getting into and she said to Jesus, “Bill doesn’t like this course and I don’t think I do either.” As I often say, I do not see how anybody can like this course as long as they hold on to even a semblance of an ego because this course will dismantle your entire thought system. It will do it gently. It will do it sweetly. It will do it softly. It will do it patiently, but inexorably. You continue with this and you are finished as an ego. And it is because we are so afraid that we let all the earthly sounds come in and come in and come in, and we stubbornly insist that two and two is four.

Yeah, maybe metaphysically two and two is five and maybe in some other dimension two and two is five, but I live in a two plus two equals four world and I will not let you take that away from me. And so it is helpful just to know that. It is more helpful as a student of this course, rather than to just let your eyes glaze over passages that are threatening to let your eyes stay on those passages and feel the fear, feel the terror, feel the anxiety, feel the discomfort that comes when you read certain lines here that tell you that you are not here, or that there is no world, or that what you think happened never really happened, that all your yelling and screaming and your “raucous shrieks” (W-pI.49.4:3) have had no effect upon reality.

Imagine how you feel when you read the line after describing in some very graphic language the ego thought system and a simple line says “And God thinks otherwise” (T-23.I.2:7). Rather than just skip over lines like that and say, oh yes, they are really very, very beautiful and they really are true, et cetera, and then you go right on. What happens if you just linger on them and say what does this mean? Because if you begin to allow the fear and the anxiety to come in, you will be better able to understand why you do the things you do, why you could study this Course for ten, twenty, thirty years and still make judgments, still give the world reality, still give the world power to affect you. If you do not recognize your decision for the ego and your identification with the ego that you have chosen, if you do not recognize that then ultimately you cannot choose against it.

So watching with angels means with the loving Thoughts of God beside you in your right mind, you look at your wrong mind without forcing anything on yourself. But at least look at it and say, you know, I really thought I liked this course but I am not ready again. I am not ready to forgive everyone. I am not ready to say as the workbook says, “The world I see holds nothing that I want” (W-pI.128). I am not ready to do that yet. And that is honest and that is all you have to do. That is all this Course asks, “a few instants of respite.”

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Watching with Angels – Part 1 of 2 Sun, 15 Dec 2019 17:00:00 +0000 Edited transcript of Workshop presented by Dr. Kenneth WapnickWATCHING WITH ANGELSPart 1 of 2This Workshop, “Watching with Angels,” is based on workbook Lesson 303, which was taken down by Helen at Christmas time, and has a Christmas theme. It begins with the line, “Watch with me angels, watch with me today.” Let me start just […]

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Edited transcript of Workshop presented by Dr. Kenneth Wapnick

Part 1 of 2

This Workshop, “Watching with Angels,” is based on workbook Lesson 303, which was taken down by Helen at Christmas time, and has a Christmas theme. It begins with the line, “Watch with me angels, watch with me today.” Let me start just by reading the lesson titled “The holy Christ is born in me today.”

Watch with me, angels, watch with me today. Let all God’s holy Thoughts surround me, and be still with me while Heaven’s Son is born. Let earthly sounds be quiet, and the sights to which I am accustomed disappear. Let Christ be welcomed where He is at home. And let Him hear the sounds He understands, and see but sights that show His Father’s Love. Let Him no longer be a stranger here, for He is born again in me today (W-pII.303.1).

The second part as most of you know is like a prayer that we say to God.

Your Son is welcome, Father. He has come to save me from the evil self I made. He is the Self that You have given me. He is but what I really am in truth. He is the Son You love above all things. He is my Self as You created me. It is not Christ that can be crucified. Safe in Your Arms let me receive Your Son. (W-pII.303.2).

The theme I want to discuss is the idea of being quiet and being still. If you remember what is said in the first paragraph, “Let all God’s holy Thoughts surround me, and be still with me while Heaven’s Son is born.” Now that still can be taken both as quiet, as well as the adverb “and be still with me while Heaven’s Son is born. Let earthly sounds be quiet, and the sights to which I am accustomed disappear.” The way that Christ is reborn in us, the way that we learn to forgive, the way that we learn to have our sights see only what Christ sees is to be quiet and to be still. And as we all know, this is always very, very difficult—almost always very, very difficult. The Course speaks about the ego’s “raucous shrieks” (W-pI.49.4:3).

There is a passage in one of the sections on specialness in Chapter 24 that speaks about how the sounds of specialness drowned out the still, small Voice of the Holy Spirit (T-21.V.1:6; T-24.II.4). And so often when people think that they are hearing the Voice of the Holy Spirit, or the voice of Jesus, or the voice of any entity or soul they think is “on the other side,” very often that hearing can be contaminated by the voice of their ego. It is very difficult to be quiet. It is very difficult to still all the sounds that we make. And the problem, of course, is that all these sounds, the earthly sounds which reflect the ego’s wrong-minded sounds, all these come from our mind’s decision to be a self, a split self, a separated self.

All the times that we get upset, all the times we become anxious, we become distraught, we become angry, we become resentful, we hold on to grievances, we feel depressed, we feel despairing, we feel despondent, we feel sick, we feel hopeless—all of these, regardless of the seeming cause, all of these are but the ego’s attempt to preserve itself. Or to say it another way, they are all about the decision-making mind’s attempt to justify its decision to be an ego. So when we are told to be quiet and to let all earthly sounds be still, what Jesus is really saying is that when you are tempted to listen to the ego’s voice that tells you the world is the cause of not only your existence certainly, but also the cause of everything you are feeling or thinking, the cause of your behavior, the determiner of what you do, then you should look at this.

And as you are tempted to listen, say to yourself, “but this cannot be true.” And it cannot be true, as we are told over and over again in the Course, subtly and sometimes not very subtly, if there is no world out there. Then what could there be that is going to affect me? It could only be what I project onto the world (forgetting that I projected it) and then believe is going to have an affect on me and impinge on me.

Most of you have heard me say many, many times that you should not believe anyone who tells you or believes that two and two equals four because they are coming from the world’s point of view. They are coming from the world’s laws in which two and two most definitely equals four, where people tell us what is external is the cause of our distress, or the awful things that happened in the past are affecting us now. They are all coming from the belief that the world of time and space is real, which means that the thought system that made the world of time and space is also real, and they are wrong. Linear time is part of the ego’s illusion, as the workbook tells us, it is a magic trick. Time is a vast illusion, a magic trick in which figures come and go by magic (W-pI.158.4:1). If there is no time, then how could the past affect me? How could I be concerned about the future?

And if there is no time, there is no thought of separation. And if there is no thought of separation, then there is no body. And if there is no body, what is it that is reacting? What is it that I feel is making me react? So it is always important that we not deny the earthly sounds and that we not deny what the world tells us, but we listen to it as I say, “with a grain of salt.” We listen to it with a sweet smile that is tucked away that understands—even though we are tempted to believe it—understands that what we are thinking and what we are feeling and what we are experiencing is not the truth.

We all know when the slightest thing upsets us, whether it is a news story, whether it is something within our personal world, whether it is something within our own bodies or bodies of our loved ones, our immediate thought goes to what did this? Or who did this, or why did they do it, or this is why I am upset. And it is just not true. Once again, if there is no world out there, how could what is not out there have an effect on me? It’s only my own thought system that has an effect on me. So when Jesus tells us “Let earthly sounds be quiet, and the sights to which I am accustomed disappear,” that is what he is talking about. What I am accustomed to is what the world has told me. And, of course, the world has told me what I have told it to tell me, and I conveniently forget that I told it. And when I speak about the “I,” I am not speaking about this person who is standing in front of you, I am talking about the mind. This is the only thing the Course is ever talking about…the mind.

So you have all heard me say also many times, the only two workbook lessons you need to focus on are Lessons 5 and 34, “I am never upset for the reason I think,” and “I could see peace instead of this.” It simplifies everything. I am not saying you should not do the workbook, but when you are all done doing the workbook like a good little boy and a good little girl, then focus on 5 and 34, every single moment of every day when you are tempted to be upset. “I am never upset for the reason I think.” The earthly sounds that we are asked to quiet and to still, the earthly sounds are the sounds that tell us something out there is impinging on me. And when we let that happen, when we feel that way it is always because, again, our mind made a decision to preserve its identity. That is what it is.

So how could the Holy Christ be born again in me today? What I am saying is what I want to be born again in me today is myself, my ego self, my separated self, which then becomes very quickly my guilty self, my angry self, my victimized self, my happy self. But it all comes down to my mind’s decision to preserve this ego identity and rather than accept responsibility for that decision, I say the reason my identity is the way it is is because.....and we all have a long, long list of because’s that begin at birth, that begin while our mother is carrying us in her womb. It begins with our past lives. It begins wherever you want to begin it with, but it is always something out there that is doing this to me. So when we are asked again to let earthly sounds be quiet, the earthly sounds are the sounds that tell us the dream is dreaming us instead of our being the dreamer of the dream that is dreaming us.

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The Fear of God and Compassion for Others – Part 2 of 2 Fri, 15 Nov 2019 17:00:14 +0000 Volume 7 Number 3 September 1996Gloria WapnickDr. Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.THE FEAR OF GOD AND COMPASSION FOR OTHERSPart 2We can now answer the four questions presented in the first paragraph of this article:1. What kind of mind could have had such a thought (the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom)?A split mind that has […]

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Volume 7 Number 3 September 1996
Gloria Wapnick
Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

Part 2

We can now answer the four questions presented in the first paragraph of this article:

1. What kind of mind could have had such a thought (the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom)?

A split mind that has embraced the ego thought system would constantly experience the emotion of fear, since the thought of separation from God was intended specifically to make an opposite to love, which of course is fear. Therefore, the part of the split mind wherein the thought system of the ego dominates is always in a state of unconscious fear, although the person might consciously have pleasant experiences. Meanwhile, the unconscious hell still brews in the mind that has embraced these thoughts, which explains the utter violence and ferocity of humanity’s thoughts and actions in this collective dream we call life.

2. How is it that that thought resonates so clearly with the biblical audience, then and now?

Obviously, part of the split mind, which contains the thought of annihilating God, must live in constant terror in the belief that it has accomplished its goal. This mind then only experiences the specific and concrete—fear and hate—therefore proving that God is non-existent since God is abstract (i.e., non-specific) love. The ego thought system of the world continues its development by making up a god who has the same emotions as the dream figures we call human beings, because people are comfortable with such an omnipotent authority figure that mirrors their own unconscious ego. And so when individuals in past times had read the tales of God, the prophets, the Children of Israel, and Jesus and his apostles, they reinforced for them the unconscious thought system of specialness with which they were so identified. Likewise today, the same stories find an equally receptive audience in those who still seek to prove that their thought system of separation and individuality is the correct one, while the reality of Heaven’s oneness is a lie.

3. Why is it today that sermons are still given in temples and churches throughout the world on this theme?

Our answer is a continuation of the previous one. We must understand the satisfaction that the ego obtains from having us believe that we must supplicate and placate an inconsistent god, who loves one minute, and murders the next. Absolute rulers have used this ego need well by having religions align themselves with the totalitarian rule of the state, and using the fear of God as a weapon against people who might question such a fearful dictatorship or deity. Religious leaders obtained great followings in the past, and continue to do so in the present, by talking about sin, hell, damnation, and fear, and how our so-called disobedience to the ego-made god can be absolved by their intervention, or the intervention of some holy figure that they espouse. The God business in the ego thought system is big business, and as long as people believe they will be punished by the alien god-figure that religion portrays, the churches and temples will continue to present sermons about this god. In the end, it is our individuality that is the victor—that special self of the religious leaders as well as of their followers—and our reality as Christ that is seemingly vanquished and lost to our awareness.

4. Why are children still brought up today to believe that fearing God is a good thing?

Since the purpose of the ego’s thought system of individuality and hate is always to perpetuate itself, then this motivation is reflected here within the dream by having parents seek to inculcate in their children the self-same belief system that has sustained them. Jesus emphasizes in A Course in Miracles that as we teach, so do we learn, for we are reinforcing the thought system—the Holy Spirit’s or the ego’s—we have first made real in our own minds. And so those people who are parents, seeking to reinforce their own individual existence—part of this identified with their roles as parents—will inevitably therefore teach their children the ego thought system of sin, guilt, and fear that they, the parents, wish to learn and reinforce about themselves.

Given all that we have been discussing about the fear of God, it stands to reason that followers of this strange biblical god, born of their need to reinforce and preserve their individual and special identities, could hardly be truly compassionate towards others. After all, in their belief system, God’s compassion is limited to his chosen ones, his favorites, and so why should theirs not be as well? Therefore, unless belief is withdrawn from this image of a feared and punishing god, and the trickle-down consequences of such belief, a new paradigm cannot be born into the consciousness of the people. And so, we are compelled to repeat the same dysfunctional patterns of selfishness and hate—over and over again—that make societies and civilization what they are, and which leave humanity hopeless and despairing of any real change, with true compassion remaining but an unrealistic dream.

Indeed, throughout history, many attempts have been made to form groups or organizations that address society’s ills, demonstrating what appears to be a more responsible and compassionate attitude. However, as noble as their missions have been and continue to be, they never obtained mass support, nor did they succeed in elevating the mass consciousness to compassion. Yet how could they succeed when the underlying thought system of the ego, along with its vengeful god, was never truly addressed, either in the world they were trying to help, or in the group members themselves, the helpers? That is why Jesus issues this caution, well known to most students of A Course in Miracles: “Trust not your good intentions. They are not enough” (T-18.IV.2:1-2). As we are reminded throughout the Course, expressions of love are impossible without first removing—with the Holy Spirit’s help—the ego thoughts that block such expression. We quote only one of many such reminders:

Your task is not to seek for love, 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).

The clear implication here is that before we would seek to undertake an act of compassion, we first would have to ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit for help in undoing all the ego blocks that interfere with our having an attitude of compassion, the obvious precursor to any loving and caring action. Indeed, it is the content of compassion that must be universally applied, since within the world, the forms in which compassion is expressed are obviously limited. Interestingly enough, even though the concept of compassion towards all is an integral part of Jesus’ message to us in A Course in Miracles, the word itself appears only once, in a passage that relates directly to the fear of God:

To look upon the fear of God does need some preparation. Only the sane can look on stark insanity and raving madness with pity and compassion, but not with fear. For only if they share in it does it seem fearful, and you do share in it until you look upon your brother with perfect faith and love and tenderness (T-19.IV-D.11:1-3).

In other words, as long as we identify with the ego thought system of separation and individuality, of sin, guilt, and the fear of God—all part of one insane package—then true compassion, born of the unified perception of God’s one Son, is impossible. Along the same lines, Jesus teaches us early in the text about the impossibility of love in his world because of our ego-identification:

You who identify with your ego cannot believe God loves you. You do not love what you made, and what you made does not love you. Being made out of the denial of the Father, the ego has no allegiance to its maker. You cannot conceive of the real relationship that exists between God and His creations because of your hatred for the self you made. You project onto the ego the decision to separate, and this conflicts with the love you feel for the ego because you made it. No love in this world is without this ambivalence, and since no ego has experienced love without ambivalence the concept is beyond its understanding. Love will enter immediately into any mind that truly wants it, but it must want it truly. This means that it wants it without ambivalence, and this kind of wanting is wholly without the ego’s “drive to get” (T-4.III.4; italics ours).

If we are unable to accept love for ourselves, there is no way we can love all those who are a part of our true Self. Only the shift in thought systems from the ego’s fear and hate to the Holy Spirit’s forgiveness and love can bring about true compassion for “everyone who wanders in the world uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear” (T-31.VIII.7:1). The key word here is everyone, for if compassionate love is true, it must embrace the entire Sonship, without exception. Indeed, when our compassion is limited to special groups or special individuals, expressed at special times and in special circumstances, it is always the telltale sign that our ego’s unconscious thought system of separation and specialness has once more reared its ugly head, in remembrance of its vengeful and punishing god. As we are instructed about the ego’s use of empathy, a synonym for compassion:

The clearest proof that empathy as the ego uses it is destructive lies in the fact that it is applied only to certain types of problems and in certain people. These it selects out, and joins with. And it never joins except to strengthen itself (T-16.I.2:1-3).

When the red flag of our judgment and specialness is thus waved before our eyes, our single responsibility is to go to the One who knows only of compassion, asking that His vision of God and His Son replace our own. He would teach us that compassion is justified for every seemingly separated fragment of the Sonship, for all of us believe that we are miserable sinners, doomed to suffer certain destruction at the wrathful hands of a vengeful god. Thus are we all one within the ego system—without exception—and this recognition is the prerequisite for remembering at last that we are one as Christ. By learning, therefore, that God loves all His children equally and as one, we are inspired to reflect that love through our compassionate attitude for victim and victimizer alike: the poor, the rich; the good, the bad; the powerless, the powerful. Only then can we know our true Identity—shared with all—as God’s one Son, the Christ He created one with Him.

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The Fear of God and Compassion for Others – Part 1 of 2 Fri, 01 Nov 2019 16:00:48 +0000 Volume 7 Number 3 September 1996Gloria WapnickDr. Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.THE FEAR OF GOD AND COMPASSION FOR OTHERSPart 1The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Psalms 111:10).The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).Behold, the fear of God, that is wisdom (Job 28:28).The Western world is surely familiar enough with the […]

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Volume 7 Number 3 September 1996
Gloria Wapnick
Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

Part 1

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Psalms 111:10).
The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).
Behold, the fear of God, that is wisdom (Job 28:28).

The Western world is surely familiar enough with the above quotations from the Bible. These are incredible statements, even if one grants the contention of scripture scholars that the use of the word fear here also connotes awe; in the original Hebrew the word used does mean fear, and is consistently used in that way throughout the Old Testament. Clearly, an essential aspect of the attitude reflected in the Bible towards God[1} is one of fear, if not terror, because of His extreme punishments for disobedience and disrespect that are recorded throughout most of its books. Therefore, we can state that at least in part, the intention expressed in these lines is that only those who fear their Creator can attain a state of wisdom and knowledge, and that such fear is indeed a desired and even holy state, and an integral part of the spiritual path. Some questions, however, are immediately raised:

1. What kind of mind could have had such a thought?

2. How is it that that thought resonates so clearly with the biblical audience, then and now?

3. Why is it today that sermons are still given in temples and churches throughout the world on this theme?

4. Why are children still being brought up with the idea that to fear God is a good thing?

In this article, we shall answer these questions and explore why this idea has held such prominence throughout the ages in many religions and by so many people. Second, we shall discuss how, because of this fear of God, true and loving compassion towards others is impossible. This will remain the case unless this underlying fear is first exposed and then let go through forgiveness.

The god that the Bible portrays is a person, an individual made—to reverse the biblical phrase (Genesis 2:26)—in the “image and likeness” of man, who then demands that he be worshiped in a specific way because he is, after all, a jealous god (Exodus 20:5). Moreover, he is a god who becomes angry and wrathful when his commandments and statutes are not kept. Interestingly enough, many of these same traits are an integral part of the pantheon of gods and goddesses of ancient Greece. Yet because we consider these divine figures to be mythological, we are entertained and amused as we read of their adolescent antics, puerile pranks, and childish temper tantrums. Not so with the events described in the Bible, however, which is believed by the faithful to be the inspired word of God, and therefore not to be questioned but accepted as the truth.

A study of the psychology of A Course in Miracles would help clarify that the above traits are a projection of the split mind that aligned itself with the ego thought system. Furthermore, this projection has led many world religions—certainly the biblical ones—to include these traits in their design of a creator God. And so the idea of a jealous, angry, and punishing deity has been enshrined in the pages of the “sacred” biblical texts for close to three thousand years. And yet relatively few have asked, “How can this be?” Obviously, since these ego traits have been exhibited in almost all of humanity since the dawn of existence, it should come as no surprise that the seeming creator of these creatures must share in the same unhappy aspects of what it means to be human. For how could it not be so? It must be that the writers of the scriptural books project their own unconscious characteristics onto the characters they are writing about, much as playwrights and novelists are always writing about themselves, and nocturnal dreamers fill their dreams with split-off parts of their own selves.

Our unconscious role in all this is forgotten, however, and we simply end up believing that our made-up projections are reality. Thus it is that the projected God is seen to be a real and objective figure that needs to be reckoned with. Therefore, if people are brought up believing that the biblical deity is fearful because of all the traits he exhibits in his relationship with his creatures, attested to by the stories told in the Bible, it stands to reason that they must also believe that the only way they can acquire wisdom or knowledge—that must reflect the divine—is to embrace an attitude of fear. At the very least, they hope that their actions will not offend the omnipotent, irrational, and greatly feared god, and spur him on even further to vengeance and wrathful punishment.

The time has come, and is truly past due, for humanity to drop all such notions about the Godhead, since we can certainly observe the effects throughout history of keeping such a notion of God in our consciousness. These images of the divine have not been uplifting, have not fostered any true advance of consciousness, nor have they brought love and forgiveness to our relationships with each other. In fact, the results of such a theology have been quite destructive, if we look clearly and without denial at the pages of history, and trace the course of our ofttimes convoluted and ambivalent mythologies.

To paraphrase a term from the years of “Reaganomics,” we may speak of the deleterious effects of trickle-down theology. For example, there is the belief that one could be singled out by God to be one of his chosen or special ones—whether an individual (a prophet, an apostle, or Jesus himself) or entire groups (the children of Israel, Christians, or priests). This can only lead to an attitude of arrogance, since the believers will inevitably think of themselves as justified in feeling superior, since God has bestowed a special gift on them, and not on others. The ugly fruits of such specialness are many: For example, John Calvin, the highly influential Protestant reformer, promoted the idea that those who are favored by God are easily recognizable by their good economic position, and that God preordained only a certain number of people for salvation. Also, many Jews and Christians have developed an unseemly sense of pride, because they believe they are better and more enlightened than other groups, and are actually living in a state of grace because they follow what they believe to be the laws of God. In truth, of course, these are really the laws that people made up to worship God, but, again, forgetting what they had done, they now believe that the various commandments and statutes are God’s holy word, to be obeyed without question. Human beings constantly impute to God or the gods the hallucinations of a disturbed mind. Unfortunately, this serious malady of disordered or deranged thinking has been tolerated for thousands of years.

A Course in Miracles, on the other hand, announces the dawning of a new era, a time period that contains a new paradigm for living. In its pages the Love of the true, living God is reflected for us as we learn that our Creator and Source cannot be known in a state of fear, and that wisdom and knowledge, which are truly of God, remain hidden to a split mind that is dreaming a dream of fear, which Jesus tells us is our state of mind until we awaken.

The God that Jesus teaches us about in A Course in Miracles is not a person nor an individual, even though in the Course he uses the traditional words Father and Creator. Such usage is for our comfort, because the non-dualistic truth would be too alarming for us who believe that we are concrete, specific, and separated individuals. As he explains to us in the text:

Since you believe that you are separate, Heaven presents itself to you as separate, too. Not that it is in truth, but that the link that has been given you to join the truth may reach to you through what you understand. Father and Son and Holy Spirit are as One, as all your brothers join as one in truth. ...It is the Holy Spirit’s function to teach you how this oneness is experienced....

All this [the Holy Spirit’s teaching of forgiveness] takes note of time and place as if they were discrete, for while you think that part of you is separate, the concept of a oneness joined as one is meaningless. … Yet must It [our Teacher] use the language that this mind can understand, in the condition in which it thinks it is. And It must use all learning to transfer illusions to the truth, taking all false ideas of what you are, and leading you beyond them to the truth that is beyond them (T-25.I.5:1-3; 6:4-7:1,4-5).

Indeed, God is the Source of all that is unseen, which is a non-dualistic totality—what the Course calls reality—and which, again, cannot be understood by a dualistic brain that has been programmed by the ego mind not to understand:

When you made visible what is not true, what is true became invisible to you. … Yet it is no more up to you to decide what is visible and what is invisible. … The definition of reality is God’s, not yours. He created it, and He knows what it is. You who knew have forgotten ... (T-12.VIII.3:1,4,6-8).

We can therefore apprehend from Jesus’ teachings in A Course in Miracles that God is pure mind, pure spirit, and the Source of all being, and that Christ, our true Identity, is an Idea—also pure mind and spirit—in the Mind of God. Jesus is quite deliberate when he talks about creation having nothing to do with the material world, because God did not create the physical universe, the world of perception: matter, specifics, individuality, creatures such as homo sapiensor any other specific form in the animal, vegetable, or mineral kingdoms. As Jesus tells us in two places:

God’s laws do not obtain directly to a world perception rules, for such a world could not have been created by the Mind to which perception has no meaning (T-25.III.2:1).

The world you see is an illusion of a world. God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself. Yet there is nothing in the world you see that will endure forever. Some things will last in time a little while longer than others. But the time will come when all things visible will have an end (C-4.1).

Moreover, regarding the oneness of Heaven, we are taught:

God shares His Fatherhood with you who are His Son, for He makes no distinctions in what is Himself and what is still Himself. What He creates is not apart from Him, and nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him (W-pI.132.12:3-4).

Stated another way, the God that A Course in Miracles presents to us is Divine Abstraction, formless, non-specific, a totality of Love, a Source which encompasses all being within Itself and that, to say it one more time, cannot be understood by our sleeping, dualistic selves:

Complete abstraction is the natural condition of the mind. … The mind that taught itself to think specifically can no longer grasp abstraction in the sense that it is all-encompassing
(W-pI.161.2:1; 4:7).

It therefore goes without saying that the true God, being pure abstract Love, is the exact antithesis of the biblical god, whose ego characteristics we have already described. In part to correct the belief system that is presented in the New Testament, Jesus included the following important passage in A Course in Miracles:

Persecution frequently results in an attempt to “justify” the terrible misperception that God Himself persecuted His Own Son on behalf of salvation. The very words are meaningless. It has been particularly difficult to overcome this because, although the error itself is no harder to correct than any other, many have been unwilling to give it up in view of its prominent value as a defense. In milder forms a parent says, “This hurts me more than it hurts you,” and feels exonerated in beating a child. Can you believe our Father really thinks this way? It is so essential that all such thinking be dispelled that we must be sure that nothing of this kind remains in your mind (T-3.I.2:4-9).

Obviously, Jesus is pleading with us in the above quotation, as he does many other times in A Course in Miracles, to look at our beliefs and examine our theology about the nature of God and what we really feel about our Source, since this trickle-down effect is all-pervasive and quite insidious in its results. The two-thousand-year history of Western civilization, and for that matter all of history, with its killing, torture, wars, and abominations, certainly bears witness to an unsurpassed cruelty that seems inherent in all members of homo sapiens. Moreover, many of these bloody wars were indeed fought in the name of God, as were the tortures and witch-burnings that tragically have been such an integral part of Christian history.

Modern psychology has given us the tools whereby to understand the dilemmas of human existence caused by the unconscious psyche of human beings. And A Course in Miracles picks up where psychology has left off. In his Course, Jesus identifies the unconscious thttp:// that lead to brutality, equating them with the belief and thought that we could become separated from our Source, annihilate our Creator, and become self-created and make a world “the opposite of Heaven” (T-16.V.3:6). This “tiny, mad idea” (T-27.VIII.6:2) spawned the split mind, part of which contained the ideas of sin, guilt, and fear. Furthermore, Jesus teaches us that consciousness is the domain of the ego, and “was the first split introduced into the mind” after the thought of separation seemed to occur (T-3.IV.2:1). Denial of sin, guilt, and fear means that these thoughts are placed out of awareness, or put into the unconscious. Once they are repressed, they are inevitably projected out of the mind, either onto our own bodies (sickness) or onto another’s (anger and attack). So it should come as no surprise that if part of our mind—what A Course in Miracles calls the wrong mind or the ego—believes that it has destroyed God, the Source of all Love, and made up a world that is an attack on Him (W-pII.3.2:1), that world must consist of sin, guilt, fear, hatred, and viciousness. Of this condition of the opposite of Heaven, world history unhappily provides ongoing witness without end. On and on throughout the centuries, the ego thought system has played out different scenarios of victim and victimizer, of blame, hatred, usurpation, and murder. And being caught up in it, the dream figures we think of as ourselves have made a god in their own image and likeness, and then have proceeded to worship and fear this bizarre creator that is really their own miscreation.

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[1] To help distinguish between the ego god and the true God, we are reserving capitalization only for the latter. The biblical God is capitalized where the reference is clearly to the specific character called God; e.g., the one whom we fear.

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Jesus: The Hope in Hopelessness Tue, 15 Oct 2019 16:00:58 +0000 Volume 9 Number 4 December 1998Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.JESUS: THE HOPE IN HOPELESSNESS In 1978 Helen Schucman, scribe of A Course in Miracles, wrote down the prose poem The Gifts of God.1 This wonderful piece was originally a series of messages from Jesus to Helen, beginning at a time of great anxiety for her. The full […]

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Volume 9 Number 4 December 1998
Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.


In 1978 Helen Schucman, scribe of A Course in Miracles, wrote down the prose poem The Gifts of God.1 This wonderful piece was originally a series of messages from Jesus to Helen, beginning at a time of great anxiety for her. The full details of the circumstances of this writing are chronicled in my Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of "A Course in Miracles,"2 but sufficeth to say that the consoling message did not achieve any demonstrable effects in its reluctant recipient. Nonetheless, The Gifts of God remains an inspiring example, albeit a minor one—A Course in Miracles, of course, being the major example—of how even in the midst of an ego attack, one still has the capacity to choose to hear God's Voice present another message.

These messages continued over a two-month period, long after the crisis passed, and in one of these segments Jesus stated:

Come unto me. There is no need to dream of an escape from dreaming. It will fail. For if the dream were real, escape would be impossible and there would be no hope except illusions. Do not yield to this. It is not so. For I am not a dream that comes in mockery (The Gifts of God, p. 121; italics mine in the final sentence).

In view of other messages Helen received, not to mention strong statements and implications in
A Course in Miracles itself, one can easily see here a reference to the traditional view of Jesus who, from the Course's perspective, is a dualistic dream figure whose very physical presence, perceived as reality, mocks the living Oneness of God's Love and the non-corporeal, perfect nature of His sinless creation. It is this traditional Jesus who—not to mention his Father—indeed believes in the very palpable presence of the dream of sin, from which escape is possible only through his sacrificial act of atonement and death. This biblical figure is clearly pictured as believing in the indelible reality of the world—a world of sin no less—he was sent into in order to save. Thus was the dream's seeming existence reinforced, and true forgiveness now becomes even further removed from accomplishment. In the supplement-pamphlet "The Song of Prayer," the forgiveness that is applied to one whose sin we believe is real and, moreover, who has truly wronged us or others is termed forgiveness-to-destroy (S-2.II). Under the illusion of benevolence, the mind's underlying hatred is thereby allowed to continue unnoticed, merely awaiting continued projection so that its venom can find some suitable expression in a body—anybody—external to the unconscious mind.

In this way, the world's Jesus, as opposed to the truly historical figure who appeared in Palestine two thousand years ago, ended up serving the ego's master plan of making the error of sin real, necessitating elaborate plans and ingenious schemes to undo it. This practice of forgiveness-to-destroy is what enabled Christianity to thrive, at the same time that it reinforced the ego's thought system of sin and specialness. And it all centered on the one the Bible and Christians ever after referred to as Jesus of Nazareth.

This Jesus, who comes in mockery, offers us no hope, because he has become part of the problem. An integral part of the world's dream of sin and salvation, from which there is no real hope—There is no need to dream of an escape from dreaming. It will fail. For if the dream were real, escape would be impossible and there would be no hope except illusions—the one the world remembers as Jesus eclipsed the true figure of Jesus who disappeared into the reality that lies behind the dream. It would be as if Jesus appeared to Helen as part of her anxiety dream, reinforcing the reality of her seeming problems, and then offered her a way out of them. True help could only come with Jesus remaining outside her problem. His plea to her—in The Gifts of God as well as in all his other messages to her, including and especially A Course in Miracles—was always to take his hand and walk with him out of the dream into the real world, the borderland that exists between illusion and reality. From there it is but an instant more until we pass beyond the dream's veil of time into eternity:

This is my offering: 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....Come now to me and we will go to God....How beautiful are you who stand beside me at the gate, and call with me that everyone may come and step aside from time. Put out your hand to touch eternity and disappear into its perfect rest (The Gifts of God, pp. 118,122).

The pioneering work of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, offers us a wonderful insight into what went wrong with the world's relationship with Jesus, and why things worked out so badly for two thousand years thereafter, with his hope-filled vision of the real world kept hidden behind the mockery of salvation offered to the world instead. It is almost a century now since Freud first coined the term dreams of convenience to capture for us an experience almost all people share, and it is here that we find our parallel to the problem of Jesus, just as in A Course in Miracles Jesus uses our sleeping dreams as a model for helping us to understand the dynamics of the waking dreams we refer to as our "life" here on earth (see, e.g., T-2.I.4; T-10.I.2-3; and T-18.II). An example of a dream of convenience is while we are asleep and enjoying a restful dream, an external stimulus suddenly penetrates into the peace and threatens to disturb our sleep. However, a dynamic mechanism within the brain comes to our rescue as it were, and incorporates the stimulus into the dream so that we may remain comfortably asleep and continue the pleasant experience of the dream. Thus, for example, a ringing telephone piercing the quiet of our bedroom now becomes an integral symbol within the dream, allowing us to modify it as we see fit—answer the phone, have the phone stop ringing, turn on the answering machine, etc.—much like a cybernetic whiz can scan a photograph into a computer, and modify it as suits the perceived need -- changing colors, shapes, and sizes, not to mention omitting unwanted details and making up those that are desired. And so our sleep continues unabated, and to borrow the lovely phrase from the text: "Not one note in our dream's song was missed" (T-26.V.5:4).

Freud's account of these sleeping dreams of convenience is worth quoting, especially in light of our discussion of Jesus being the "external stimulus" that threatens the ontological sleep of the dreaming Son. All the references are to The Interpretation of Dreams3first published in 1900, except for the first one, which comes in a letter to Wilhelm Fliess, written in 1899:4

You dream to avoid having to wake up, because you want to sleep (p. 283; italics mine).

All dreams are in a sense dreams of convenience: they serve the purpose of prolonging sleep instead of waking up....if it [the mind] is obliged to recognize them [external stimuli], it seeks for an interpretation of them which will make the currently active sensation into a component part of a situation which is wished for and which is consistent with sleeping. The currently active sensation is woven into a dream in order to rob it of reality (p. 233).

The operation of the wish to continue sleeping is most easily to be seen in arousal dreams, which modify external sensory stimuli in such a way as to make them compatible with a continuance of sleep; they weave them into a dream in order to deprive them of any possibility of acting as reminders of the external world (p. 571; italics mine).

There are several ways in which a sleeper may react to an external sensory stimulus. He may wake up or he may succeed in continuing his sleep in spite of it. In the latter case he may make use of a dream in order to get rid of the external dreaming that he is in a situation which is absolutely incompatible with the stimulus (pp. 680-81; italics mine).

Extrapolating Freud's insights to the situation experienced with Jesus, we can see how people chose to remain asleep by excluding Jesus, the stimulus external to their dream of a life of individuality and materiality. They accomplished this by bringing him into their dream of specialness and the body, continuing to dream that they were "in a situation which is absolutely incompatible" with his non-corporeal and non-special reality beyond the dreaming of the world. And once they wove Jesus into the world's dream, they had inevitably deprived themselves of any possibility of his "acting as [a] reminder[s]" of his world, for they chose "to rob [him] of [his] reality." And so their dream succeeded in its aim "to get rid" of him. And all this simply to continue "to avoid having to wake up," because they wished to continue the sleep of separation so that they might continue the dream of specialness and sin.

The bottom line, therefore, is that we do not want to awaken, and so we settle for false hopes of happiness instead. These hopes always entail a desire not only for some respite within the dream of pain and suffering, which is certainly understandable, but also the equation of such surcease from pain with the peace of Heaven. Indeed, one usually needs to be free from physical or psychological pain in order to move ultimately beyond them to the underlying separation and guilt that is the true cause of our suffering. But the challenge is to resist the temptation to worship the idol and instead move on to the true God Who is "beyond all idols" (T-30.III). And so, defending against the return to this God, the need for idols is born, elsewhere referred to in A Course in Miracles as our special love relationships:

Idols are but substitutes for your reality. In some way, you believe they will complete your little self, for safety in a world perceived as dangerous, with forces massed against your confidence and peace of mind. They have the power to supply your lacks, and add the value that you do not have. No one believes in idols who has not enslaved himself to littleness and loss. And thus must seek beyond his little self for strength to raise his head, and stand apart from all the misery the world reflects (T-29.VIII.2:2-6).

And one of the world's greatest idols, the embodiment of false hopes, was Jesus, of whom the Course says: "Some bitter idols have been made of him who would be only brother to the world" (C-5.5:7). Rather than reminding us of his reality beyond the dream, he became a substitute for this Self—an idol—whose purpose was that of proving the reality of our dream. And so instead of our becoming like him, we made him become like us, the image and likeness of a physical self, yet one more special and holy than we.

Interestingly, in A Course in Miracles Jesus provides us with just such a description of a dream of convenience:

If a light is suddenly turned on while someone is dreaming a fearful dream, he may initially interpret the light itself as part of his dream and be afraid of it. However, when he awakens, the light is correctly perceived as the release from the dream, which is then no longer accorded reality. This release does not depend on illusions. The knowledge that illuminates not only sets you free, but also shows you clearly that you are free (T-2.I.4:6-9).

And so it was with Jesus. Like a light that has been turned on in our bedroom, calling the Son of God to awaken from his comfortable dream of individuality, specialness, sin, and death, Jesus appeared suddenly within the world's dream. His very presence stated the following: this world of time and space is a dream that in truth is already over; it is possible to awaken from this dream by listening to my words and following my example; the many idols you believe in are not true because the real God is not the personal or tribal god of your ancestors, but an impersonal God of Totality, Oneness, and Love. Those who experienced this stimulus had the choice whether to awaken and answer his call, or to see him as a noxious and fearful influence, remain asleep and, like our aforementioned computer whiz, bring him into their illusory dream of physical reality, sin, and magical redemption, thereby omitting the reality deemed as unacceptable, changing him as suited their own specific needs.

As with our nocturnal dreamer, the Son of God had, and still has the choice of either to awaken from his sleep and join Jesus outside the dream, or else to bring Jesus into his dream, thereby remaining asleep. The decision to awaken from the dream and to answer Jesus' call is also the decision to say I no longer want to remain asleep. And that is the difficult part of the decision: saying no to the dream. It is this rejection of the ego's lure to remain as an individual that is the core of the change of mind that is the goal of A Course in Miracles, and an important reminder for all of us…. It is the rejection of our thoughts of judgment and attack, of separation and manipulation. It is the acceptance of Jesus' loving presence in our minds that reminds us of the happiness that lies beyond all dreams.

Jesus, as a thought of perfect love, is the light of that love shining throughout the dreaming mind of the Sonship, bearing a message different from the world's manifestations of the ego's voice. Therefore, to understand how Jesus is our hope, we must first recognize and accept the hopelessness of finding any happiness within the world's dream. Only then can we know who he truly is—a thought of love in the mind, and not a body—since understanding the purpose of his appearance will enable us to understand its meaning. His message is of the inherent hopelessness of trying to find salvation in the world, and the true hope of salvation in the mind. And so we can understand that he has come indeed as a light of hope into the darkened dream of hopelessness; a star that does not shine outside ourselves, but in the Heaven within, calling us but to accept his loving presence as the sign that the time of Christ has come (T-15.XI.2:1-2). "Come my child," he calls to us, "Come unto me and let me gently lead you home, for with me."

is the peace that God intended for the Son He loves. Enter with me and let its quietness cover the earth forever. It is done. Father, your Voice has called us home at last: Gone is the dream. Awake, My child, in love (The Gifts of God, pp. 122-23).

1. (Tiburon, CA: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1982)
2. (Roscoe, NY: Foundation for A Course in Miracles, 1992) pp.419-22.
3. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vols.

4,5 (London: Hogarth Press, 1953).

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Peace and Unity Tue, 01 Oct 2019 16:00:41 +0000 Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.PEACE AND UNITY What God calls one will be forever one, not separate. His Kingdom is united; thus it was created, and thus will it ever be (T- 26.VII.15:7-8).The unity of all living things in God is the fundamental principle of A Course in Miracles, as it is in many of the […]

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Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.


What God calls one will be forever one, not separate. His Kingdom is united; thus it was created, and thus will it ever be (T- 26.VII.15:7-8).

The unity of all living things in God is the fundamental principle of A Course in Miracles, as it is in many of the world’s spiritualities. Any perception of the individuals or peoples of the world as being somehow separate from each other is thus a violation of this principle: perceived conflict is inimical to an authentic spirituality. The uniqueness of the Course lies in its emphasis on recognizing the unconscious blocks to the awareness of this unity, and our need to maintain the illusory belief of separateness as the means of sustaining our separated, ego self. The Course therefore urges us not to trust our good intentions (T-18.IV.2:1], because they very often belie the underlying thoughts of conflict and hatred that are beneath the surface of our conscious mind.

Socrates taught “Know thyself,” and the Course teaches us to remember our real Self as a child of God. At the same time, the Course urges us to recognize our strong unconscious investment in war and conflict as the means for blocking our awareness of our unified Identity as part of God’s creation. The practice of forgiveness is the means for undoing these blocks, and can be defined as the willingness to bring the darkness of our ego’s world of hatred and separation—our misperceptions of others—to the light of the Holy Spirit’s healing love within our mind:

Only God’s Comforter can comfort you. In the quiet of His temple, He waits to give you the peace that is yours. Give His peace, that you may enter the temple and find it waiting for you.… You cannot enter God’s Presence with the dark companions beside you, but you also cannot enter alone. All your brothers must enter with you, for until you have accepted them you cannot enter. For you cannot understand wholeness unless you are whole, and no part of the Son[ship] can be excluded if [you] would know the Wholeness of [your] Father (T-11.III.7:1-3; 7:8-10).

Thus, world peace is impossible without there first being a shift in the minds of individuals, for as we see ourselves is the way we will see others: Projection makes perception (T-13.V.3:5). Regardless of the conscious peaceful intent of our words and deeds, if our underlying thoughts are not loving and unifying our message will be ambivalent at best, and murderous at worst. That is why A Course in Miracles emphasizes that we should not seek to change the world, but rather to change our mind about the world ( Its goal is peace: “Forget not that the motivation for this course is the attainment and the keeping of the state of peace” ( And this peace can only arise from within:

Peace of mind is clearly an internal matter. It must begin with your own thoughts, and then extend outward. It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises (W-pI.34. 1:2-4).

Following the principles of the Course, therefore, any person or organization dedicated to unity and peace would not focus on the study of world conflict as such, but rather on isolating, understanding and undoing through forgiveness its [world conflict’s] cause: our underlying need to perpetuate a thought system of separation which inevitably becomes expressed through world conflict. It is our unconscious self-hatred that is the real problem, not the “enemy without,” onto whom we have projected our hidden guilt. As this internal cause is identified and brought to the truth of God’s Love, also within our mind, the peace which was always present is allowed to be itself.

The memory of God comes to the quiet mind. It cannot come where there is conflict, for a mind at war against itself remembers not eternal gentleness. The means of war are not the means of peace, and what the warlike would remember is not love. War is impossible unless belief in victory is cherished (T-23.I.1:1-4).

The quiet gentleness of the vision of forgiveness allows the reality of unity to once again dawn upon our minds and extend throughout the minds of the peoples of the world, bringing peace to all who are ready to accept it:

You rest within the peace of God today, and call upon your brothers from your rest to draw them  to  their  rest,  along with you bringing everyone into the boundless circle of your peace, the holy sanctuary where you rest. Open the temple doors and let them come from far across the world, and near as well; your distant brothers and your closest friends; bid them all enter here and rest with you (W-pI.109.8).

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A Simple, Clear, and Direct Course – Part 2 of 2 Sun, 15 Sep 2019 16:00:27 +0000 Volume 4 Number 4 December 2012Gloria WapnickDr. Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.A SIMPLE, CLEAR, AND DIRECT COURSEPart 2 of 2The Fear of TruthThe workbook says that "Nothing the world believes is true" (W-pI.139.7:1), because the world was made "to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him" (W-pII.3.2:4). […]

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Volume 4 Number 4 December 2012
Gloria Wapnick
Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

Part 2 of 2

The Fear of Truth

The workbook says that "Nothing the world believes is true" (W-pI.139.7:1), because the world was made "to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him" (W-pII.3.2:4). It follows then that when truth presents itself to us within the dream, as in A Course in Miracles for example, the ego mind must inevitably distort and change it, since the ego is the thought that it can change the truth of God's creation into something else. And thus it is equally inevitable that we will not know who we are as Christ, God's one Son, because the dream we call the world of separation and differences was made by us to be a place where our true Home and Identity would be forgotten. Therefore, as long as we believe we are here, we will be forever uncertain of who we and our brothers truly are. And so Jesus says about the world: "It is a place whose purpose is to be a home where those who claim they do not know themselves can come to question what it is they are" (W-pI.139.7:2). The conclusion of the ego's plan is that all who come to this world enter as amnesiacs, having drawn a veil of forgetfulness across their minds to cover their true Identity, having substituted for it a parody of their true Self.

The explanation for our adamant refusal to accept the truth as true, therefore, lies in the investment we have in our individual identities. The ego tells us that without this—our specialness—we would then disappear into the "oblivion" of God. For accepting our reality as part of the unified Christ, is to accept the Atonement principle that the impossible never occurred. Therefore the ego—the belief in the reality of the separated and differentiated self—does not exist. To the extent that one believes in this false self—and everyone who comes into this world does believe in it—to that extent will the Course's teachings of undoing specialness be experienced as threatening and fearful. Jesus uses the circumstances of his own murder as an example of the ego's fear of the truth:

Many thought I was attacking them, even though it was apparent I was not. An insane learner learns strange lessons. 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.1:5-9).

It would logically follow then that the investment in preserving one's specialness would inevitably lead a student of A Course in Miracles to become frightened of what it truly teaches. A world of duality, differentiation, specialness, and individual identity cannot be long sustained in the presence of the teachings that reflect the perfect Oneness of God and Christ, and which lead the student to that state of oneness. Therefore, as students read the Course through the eyes of specialness, their wrong minds caution them to be careful of the truth which threatens their existence. The process can be described as follows: 1) having chosen the ego as our teacher, a message goes from the wrong mind to the brain not to see what is written; 2) we then are instructed to deny the Course's simplicity, clarity, and directness; and 3) we are then directed to substitute complexity, confusion, and divergence from the Course's message. Building upon Shakespeare's famous statement from "The Merchant of Venice" about the devil citing scripture for his purpose, Jesus states in the Course:

Nothing the ego perceives is interpreted correctly. Not only does the ego cite Scripture for its purpose, but it even interprets Scripture as a witness for itself (T-5.VI.4:3-4).

... the ego, under what it sees as threat, is quick to cite the truth to save its lies. Yet must it fail to understand the truth it uses thus. But you can learn to see these foolish applications, and deny the meaning they appear to have (W-pI.196.2:2-4).

We thus can see that the ego, being no one's fool, realizes that it is better to "join" the truth, rather than oppose it. It counsels the unknowing students that they would be better served to bring the truth to illusion for interpretation, rather than, as the Course repeatedly advocates, to bring their illusions to the truth. The form this takes is that students, under the guise of loving and honoring Jesus' teachings, actually subvert the meaning of his words to read what they would like them to say, rather than what the words in truth do say. And all this without the students' conscious awareness of their ego's insidiousness.

Jesus discusses this ego dynamic in several places in the Course as an explanation for why students would choose to obfuscate, distort, or change the simplicity of his teachings. And clearly, it is not only Helen's resistance Jesus was addressing in these passages, but everyone who chooses to be so tempted. We begin with a passage that was specifically meant to help Helen undo her ego's attempts at obscuring the simple truths of the Course's teachings:

This course is perfectly clear. If you do not see it clearly, it is because you are interpreting against it, and therefore do not believe it.... I am leading you to a new kind of experience that you will become less and less willing to deny. Learning of Christ is easy, for to perceive with Him involves no strain at all. His perceptions are your natural awareness, and it is only the distortions you introduce that tire you. Let the Christ in you interpret for you, and do not try to limit what you see by narrow little beliefs that are unworthy of God's Son (T-11.VI.3:1-2,6-9).

And yet it is the "little beliefs" of specialness that so often lead students of A Course in Miracles to interpret its message from their wrong minds, meanwhile believing otherwise. They are not aware that they have an unconscious investment in correcting Jesus, proving that he is wrong while they are right, still maintaining that they are not as God created them, and in fact know better than He who they truly are. To all of these fearful ones who would seek to substitute their littleness for the magnitude of Christ, Jesus counsels in this confluence of two passages from the Course: Ask not of one's petty strength—the tiny wings of the sparrow—how, with mighty power, the eagle soars (T-20.IV.4:7; manual, p. 8; M-4.I.2:1-2).

That the ego distorts A Course in Miracles is brought up again several chapters later, with Jesus emphasizing once more that without the ego's involvement his Course would be readily understandable:

Being so simple and direct, this course has nothing in it that is not consistent. The seeming inconsistencies, or parts you find more difficult than others, are merely indications of areas where means and end are still discrepant.... This course requires almost nothing of you. It is impossible to imagine one that asks so little, or could offer more (T-20.VII.1:3-4,7-8).

Denying one's attachment to specialness, and therefore one's need to compromise the Course's clear, simple, and direct truth, follows inexorably from having chosen to study it through the lens of the wrong mind. This is an inevitable occurrence once one is in the dream we call the world, and is certainly not sinful nor unexpected. However, it is a mistake not to recognize these dynamics of specialness and bring them to Jesus, so that we, together with him, may look on them without judgment or guilt, thus dispelling their seeming darkness. Without Jesus' help, we would be oblivious to the ego's lies; and therefore they would continue indefinitely under the protection of denial, only to lead to further distortions and misinterpretations of the Course through the dynamic of projection: all this being painfully reminiscent of what was originally done with Jesus' message two thousand years ago.

In the section immediately following "The Laws of Chaos," Jesus discusses more specifically the ego's wrong-minded attempts to compromise truth by rationalizing away attack thoughts with smile-filled wrappings whose purpose is to conceal the gift of murder that lies underneath: another example of the ego's ongoing efforts to bring illusion into truth so that we would think they are the same. This of course reflects the original mistake of equating our illusory ego selves with God. Thus he writes:

This course is easy just because it makes no compromise. Yet it seems difficult to those who still believe that compromise is possible. They do not see that, if it is, salvation is attack (T-23.III.4:1-3).

No compromise is possible with the simple truth, and the following three passages are Jesus' even more pointed reminders to his students that they are truly terrified of his Course, and so are unwilling to "pay the price" of giving up their specialness. In their insanity they would choose the "freedom" of their individual uniqueness and self-importance over the "imprisonment" of the truth that would only make them free:

We have repeated how little is asked of you to learn this course.... And being true, it is so simple that it cannot fail to be completely understood. Rejected yes, but not ambiguous. And if you choose against it now it will not be because it is obscure, but rather that this little cost seemed, in your judgment, to be too much to pay for peace (T-21.II.1:1,3-5).

This course has explicitly stated that its goal for you is happiness and peace. Yet you are afraid of it. You have been told again and again that it will set you free, yet you sometimes react as if it is trying to imprison you. You often dismiss it more readily than you dismiss the ego's thought system. To some extent, then, you must believe that by not learning the course you are protecting yourself. And you do not realize that it is only your guiltlessness that can protect you (T-13.II.7).

Eyes become used to darkness, and the light of brilliant day seems painful to the eyes grown long accustomed to the dim effects perceived at twilight. And they turn away from sunlight and the clarity it brings to what they look upon. Dimness seems better; easier to see, and better recognized. Somehow the vague and more obscure seems easier to look upon; less painful to the eyes than what is wholly clear and unambiguous. Yet this is not what eyes are for, and who can say that he prefers the darkness and maintain he wants to see? (T-25.VI.2)

And so given this tremendous ego need to change A Course in Miracles to protect itself, it stands to reason that it would be impossible for any student to learn the Course as long as the ego-identification is maintained at all. We can therefore understand that the flight into different interpretations is really a flight from the clear and simple teachings of the Course. As Jesus says:

Complexity is of the ego, and is nothing more than the ego's attempt to obscure the obvious (T-15.IV.6:2).

You who have not yet brought all of the darkness you have taught yourself into the light in you, can hardly judge the truth and value of this course (T-14.XI.4:1; italics ours).

It is impossible to learn anything consistently in a state of panic. If the purpose of this course is to help you remember what you are, and if you believe that what you are is fearful, then it must follow that you will not learn this course. Yet the reason for the course is that you do not know what you are (T-9.I.2:3-5).

And in this telling passage—taken from the section "The Treachery of Specialness"—on the seeming power of specialness to drown out the Voice for truth, Jesus underscores the importance of undoing our identification with the ego's lies:

You are not special. If you think you are, and would defend your specialness against the truth of what you really are, how can you know the truth? What answer that the Holy Spirit gives can reach you, when it is your specialness to which you listen, and which asks and answers? Its tiny answer, soundless in the melody that pours from God to you eternally in loving praise of what you are, is all you listen to. And that vast song of honor and of love for what you are seems silent and unheard before its "mightiness." You strain your ears to hear its soundless voice, and yet the Call of God Himself is soundless to you (T-24.II.4; italics ours).

Humility and Arrogance

While certainly the thought system of A Course in Miracles is difficult to embrace at first, because of its total undermining of the ego thought system, students need to cultivate an attitude of humility in recognizing that the solution to the problem of not understanding does not rest in "different interpretations" of the teachings, but rather in the recognition of the fear of losing one's specialness in the presence of truth. Humility would accept the fact that one's ego would inevitably attack the Course by striving to change it; arrogance would deny such attack with a series of rationalizations and interpretations that simply confuse the issue still further.

As an aid in developing this attitude of humility, students would do well in calling to mind the words Helen heard herself speak one morning as she came out of her sleep: "Never underestimate the power of denial." Jesus "borrowed" that idea later for the Course, where in several places he cautions his students against underestimating the ego's power: the intensity of its drive for vengeance, the extent of its insanity, and our need to be vigilant against it (T-5.V.2:11; T-7. III.3:5; T-11.V.16:1; T-11.VI.5:1; T-14.I.2:6; T-16.VII.3:1).

Because of this great temptation to underestimate the power of identifying with the ego, Jesus speaks to his students as if they were children, who need to be taught by an older and wiser brother about what is true and what is false. Children believe they understand when they do not, and so Jesus cautions us:

Of all the messages you have received and failed to understand, this course alone is open to your understanding and can be understood. This is your language. You do not understand it yet only because your whole communication is like a baby's (T-22.I.6:1-3; second italics ours).

Rather than stubbornly insisting that they know what is right, and that they have the wisdom of judging the difference between truth and illusion, students of A Course in Miracles would do well to approach its teachings with humility, wonder, and a sincere desire to learn from it, rather than trying to teach it (and others) what it says. Recalling that Jesus views his students as children who cannot discern truth from illusion, as their eyes are clouded with the specialness that is protected by denial and projection, one would gladly and humbly accept the loving hand that Jesus extends as a gentle guide on the journey home. The readiness to turn away from specialness and learn the curriculum still lies in the future, and awaits one's growth into spiritual maturity and out of the fears of childhood that root one in the past:

This course makes no attempt to teach what cannot easily be learned. Its scope does not exceed your own, except to say that what is yours will come to you when you are ready (T-24.VII.8:1-2).

We thus urge all students to realize that this Course is a very difficult spiritual curriculum precisely because it is so simple, clear, and in direct opposition to the ego's thought system. And so we say in closing: Respect your fear of A Course in Miracles as a direct threat to your specialness, and do not deny the illusions you have made and cherish as a substitute for the resplendent truth of God. If indeed A Course in Miracles is your spiritual path, then let it lead you, by stepping back and letting the simplicity, clarity, and directness of Jesus' own words be your guide. Only then can he truly help you forget the hatred of specialness you have made real, and recall at last the simplicity of the love that has patiently awaited your remembrance.

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A Simple, Clear, and Direct Course – Part 1 of 2 Sun, 01 Sep 2019 16:00:47 +0000 Volume 4 Number 4 December 2012Gloria WapnickDr. Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.A SIMPLE, CLEAR, AND DIRECT COURSEPart 1 of 2 A common source of misunderstanding for students of A Course in Miracles lies in not recognizing the original context for the scribing which was directly personal to Helen Schucman and William Thetford. Jesus' "notes" (his word) to Helen were […]

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Volume 4 Number 4 December 2012
Gloria Wapnick
Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

Part 1 of 2

A common source of misunderstanding for students of A Course in Miracles lies in not recognizing the original context for the scribing which was directly personal to Helen Schucman and William Thetford. Jesus' "notes" (his word) to Helen were a mixture of personal messages and the objective teaching. Even though the more informal nature of the latter dropped off as the scribing progressed, we continue to find subtle references to Helen and her reluctance to learn the Course all the way through, as seen for example in "The Simplicity of Salvation," the first section in Chapter 31 of the text. One reason for the writing of Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of A Course in Miracles was to clear up any potential confusion as to the meaning of many passages, and of the Course itself. As is discussed at length in that book, Helen was in great conflict regarding A Course in Miracles as it was coming through her. While she had no questions whatsoever about the "voice's" identity as Jesus, nor of the absolute truth of his words to her, the Course did arouse tremendous anxiety as its message was totally antithetical to her personal thought system. She was therefore in the uncomfortable position of writing down (over a seven-year period!) a document that undermined her ego's very existence.

As a result of her great ambivalence—loving and being devoted to Jesus on the one hand, and terrified on the other of the implications to her ego of such devotion—Helen on occasion would attempt to disprove the legitimacy of the Course's author, not to mention his message. Jesus gently chided her over these attempts, which, again, are documented in Absence from Felicity. And when these attempts would fail, Helen would then argue that this Course was too difficult and demanded too much of her. While some of Jesus' responses to Helen were taken out of the published edition of the Course, as directed by Jesus himself, enough have remained to allow the reader to see the importance to Jesus of the simple, clear, and direct nature of the Course he was giving to Helen and to the world. It is the purpose of this article to underscore this very important aspect of
A Course in Miracles—which emerges from Helen's direct and personal experience of scribing the Course from Jesus, which allowed her in turn to experience his relationship with the Course—as a help for students who are becoming confused about the "different interpretations" of the Course that are being offered by its students and commentators.

Simple, Clear, and Direct

As A Course in Miracles becomes more and more popular, one can sample among students an increasing number of written and spoken commentaries that purport to express what the Course teaches. However, it is difficult to reconcile many of these positions with the very clear and unequivocal position Jesus himself took regarding his Course, which he most certainly did not see as being complex, difficult to understand, or open to interpretation, as he reminded Helen many times. The following statements from A Course in Miracles are illustrative—though not exhaustive—of his attitude:

This is a very simple course (T-11.VIII.1:1; italics ours).

The reason this course is simple is that truth is simple (T-15.IV.6:1; italics ours).

Like the text for which this workbook was written, the ideas used for the exercises are very simple, very clear and totally unambiguous. We are not concerned with intellectual feats nor logical toys. We are dealing only in the very obvious, which has been overlooked in the clouds of complexity in which you think you think (W-pI.39.1:2-4; italics ours).

... how direct and simple the text is (W-pI.39.2:5; italics ours).

You have surely begun to realize that this is a very practical course, and one that means exactly what it says (T-8.IX.8:1; italics ours).

This course offers a very direct and a very simple learning situation, and provides the Guide Who tells you what to do (T-9.V.9:1; italics ours).

It is important to note here that by "simple" Jesus does not mean simplistic or simple-minded.
 A Course in Miracles is simple because it says only one thing, without deviation, and without compromise:

How simple is salvation! All it says is what was never true is not true now, and never will be. The impossible has not occurred, and can have no effects. And that is all (T-31.I.1:1-4; italics ours)

This next passage, dealing with the answer of forgiveness to all problems, can certainly also represent Jesus' view of A Course in Miracles—his answer to Helen and Bill's request for "another way":

... for here we have an answer, clear and plain, beyond deceit in its simplicity. All the complexities the world has spun of fragile cobwebs disappear before the power and the majesty of this extremely simple statement of the truth (W-pI.122.6:6-7; italics ours).

In response to Helen's complaints about the difficulty of the Course he was teaching her, Jesus responded with the following passages, so that she would understand that his words—the reflection of the Holy Spirit's purpose and God's truth—could not be misunderstood and, moreover, require no interpretation:

In fact, in order to be simple it [the Holy Spirit's purpose] must be unequivocal. The simple is merely what is easily understood, and for this it is apparent that it must be clear
(T-17.VI.1:2-3; first and third italics ours).

Reflections are seen in light. In darkness they are obscure, and their meaning seems to lie only in shifting interpretations, rather than in themselves. The reflection of God needs no interpretation. It is clear (T-14.IX.6:1-4; italics ours).

Therefore, "shifting interpretations" of what Jesus is teaching in A Course in Miracles can only come about when people are in the "darkness" of their wrong minds, and are unconsciously perverting the "reflection of God," which "needs no interpretation."

Finally, in light of Helen's (and all students') proclivity for projection of guilt onto God and him, Jesus made this very clear statement to her:

I have made every effort to use words that are almost impossible to distort, but it is always possible to twist symbols around if you wish (T-3.I.3:11).

Different Interpretations

It should be evident from these few quotations how Jesus viewed his book. Nevertheless, it has not prevented students from believing that A Course in Miracles can be subject to different and equally valid "interpretations," nor from twisting its symbols around to suit their ego's wishes. Can you imagine Helen saying to Jesus: "I understand what you are saying to me and teaching in this Course, but I think there is another interpretation you can give to this section and to these ideas that you have just dictated." In all the years Helen and I (Kenneth) spent in going over the Course, both in preparation for the published edition, as well as in discussing different portions from the three books, it never once occurred to either of us that there might be another possible explanation for what Jesus was teaching so clearly and directly.

In this regard, I (Kenneth) remember in the very early years of the Course's publication having a discussion with Helen about an individual who was attempting to teach the Course without really understanding it, and maintaining that it was saying something it was not, taking sentences out of context to prove his point. Helen was furious and incredulous at the same time: furious at the person for his arrogance in teaching something he clearly had no comprehension of, but pretended that he did; and incredulous at the idea that there would actually be people claiming that
A Course in Miracles said something it obviously did not mean, and arrogantly believing they were right.

While she was not always happy with the Course's teachings, Helen never forgot Jesus' statements about its simplicity, clarity, and directness. And as has been documented in Absence from Felicity, she had little tolerance for those who sought to distort the Course's teachings for the glorification of their own egos. Helen's integrity was such that even though she had difficulty in applying the principles of A Course in Miracles to her own life, which she always readily admitted to, she never once attempted to change what it said to meet her ego's needs. Specialness, after all, is only a problem when it is denied, leading inevitably to projection onto others. We are not asked by Jesus in his Course to be without the limitations imposed by our specialness, but only to escape the terrible burden of guilt we place upon ourselves (M-26.4:1-2), a burden which is maintained by our stubborn refusal to acknowledge the ego thought system we have made real and accepted within our minds. Honesty with oneself regarding the investment in specialness is essential to the process of forgiveness, for it undoes denial and projection, the ego's "double shield" that protects its guilt and therefore its own existence. That is why Jesus pleads with us in the text:

Watch carefully and see what it is you are really asking for. Be very honest with yourself in this, for we must hide nothing from each other.... Think honestly what you have thought that God would not have thought, and what you have not thought that God would have you think. Search sincerely for what you have done and left undone accordingly, and then change your mind to think with God's (T-4.III.8:1; T-4.IV.2:4-5).

Once again, A Course in Miracles is simple, clear, and direct in its teachings. It is the wrong mind that weaves the obscuring webs of complexity.

It is always helpful as a point of reference, to ensure that one does not get off-track when working with the Course, to keep in mind the original instant of separation when we chose against God and experienced the seeming effects of that choice. That ontological moment not only contains the original error, but is the source of all the succeeding ones as well, including the one we are discussing here. Yet, therein too is found the only answer to all problems: the Holy Spirit's forgiveness. As the text explains:

Each day, and every minute in each day, and every instant that each minute holds, you but relive the single instant when the time of terror took the place of love.

And that instant is the

tiny tick of time in which the first mistake was made, and all of them within that one mistake.... [It also holds] the Correction for that one, and all of them that came within the first
(T-26.V.13:1; 3:5).

And so we relive that moment when we believed in the reality of the separation, and took seriously the "tiny, mad idea." Thus we became convinced that we could be different and therefore separate from our Creator and Source, with Whom we can only exist in perfect oneness and love. We believed in our insanity that there could be different interpretations of reality, and that the simple, clear, and direct truth of God's Heaven could be discussed and debated. And that, in fact, our interpretation was every bit as valid, if not more so, than God's.

Imagine the arrogance of the Son who believed not only that he could be right while God's truth was wrong, but also was convinced that his happiness resided in his being right. The clarity of this single error of separation quickly was obscured by the complexity of the ego's thought system. This complexity then was reflected in the projection of the separation thought which became the physical universe, wherein was contained the glorification of the Son's newly-won separated individuality and triumph over God—his specialness as a self-created being, a seeming travesty of God's perfect and unified creation. The ego's attempt to use the world's complexity to conceal the origin of the one error is dramatically described in the following passage from the text:

You who believe that God is fear made but one substitution. It has taken many forms, because it was the substitution of illusion for truth; of fragmentation for wholeness. It has become so splintered and subdivided and divided again, over and over, that it is now almost impossible to perceive it once was one, and still is what it was. That one error, which brought truth to illusion, infinity to time, and life to death, was all you ever made. Your whole world rests upon it. Everything you see reflects it, and every special relationship that you have ever made is part of it.

You may be surprised to hear how very different is reality from what you see. You do not realize the magnitude of that one error. It was so vast and so completely incredible that from it a world of total unreality had to emerge. What else could come of it? Its fragmented aspects are fearful enough, as you begin to look at them. But nothing you have seen begins to show you the enormity of the original error, which seemed to cast you out of Heaven, to shatter knowledge into meaningless bits of disunited perceptions, and to force you to make further substitutions.

That was the first projection of error outward. The world arose to hide it, and became the screen on which it was projected and drawn between you and the truth (T-18.I.4:1-6:2).

The hallmark of this newly-emergent dream of miscreation is that truth is relative and subject to different interpretations. This was the famous position taken by the Greek Sophists, who became enshrined in history through Plato's Dialogues, where their arrogance is exposed and countered by Socrates' repeated demonstrations of their ignorance, and his teaching that truth is absolute and not subject to whatever the Sophists would have it be. This argument continues today, and students of A Course in Miracles familiar with the section "The Laws of Chaos" will recall this important statement of the ego's first law, which is based in part upon the original Sophist argument:

The first chaotic law is that the truth is different for everyone. Like all these principles, this one maintains that each is separate and has a different set of thoughts that set him off from others. This principle evolves from the belief there is a hierarchy of illusions; some are more valuable and therefore true. Each one establishes this for himself, and makes it true by his attack on what another values. And this is justified because the values differ, and those who hold them seem to be unlike, and therefore enemies (T-23.II.2).

Differences in interpretation of A Course in Miracles thus become the rallying cry of those hellbent on proving the reality of their perceived separation from God and from certain members of the Sonship.

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Transcript of Kenneth Wapnick YouTube video entitled: “How can we be happy in an illusory world?” Thu, 01 Aug 2019 16:00:46 +0000 Transcript of Kenneth WapnickYouTube video entitled: "How can we be happy in an illusory world?" The topic for this morning will be how do we live lives that are fulfilled, rewarding, and happy in a world which is made as an attack on God... in a world that we're told over and over again is an […]

The post Transcript of Kenneth Wapnick YouTube video entitled: “How can we be happy in an illusory world?” appeared first on Foundation for A Course in Miracles®.


Transcript of Kenneth Wapnick
YouTube video entitled: "How can we be happy in an illusory world?"

The topic for this morning will be how do we live lives that are fulfilled, rewarding, and happy in a world which is made as an attack on God... in a world that we're told over and over again is an illusion. Some passages even tell us that there's no world out there at all, it's just a massive hallucination. How could we be happy here?

There is a line early in the text that says how could you find joy in a joyless place except by recognizing that you are not there. That's the key. What makes us happy in this world is to see a different purpose for our being here, different from the one the ego has told us. We're told early on in the text that the only real pleasure comes in doing God's Will. Well, as we've seen over and over again in the Course, anything that is positive really is the negation of the ego's negativity. The ego's  negativity or the ego's negative thought system is saying that God's Love is an illusion, my special love is the reality. And not only that, you would be happier choosing to identify with my love than with God's Love. And so my will, the ego's will in this world, is to maximize pleasure, minimize pain, and always to do it at someone else's expense.

One of the key principles, one could even say it's the cardinal principle of the ego's existence, is one or the other because in that instant, in that unholy instant, the ego thought system was born. It was either God's perfect Oneness and perfect Love or the ego's separation and special love. One cannot have both. It is literally one or the other. Either separation is true or perfect Oneness is true. Either special love—which is always exclusive—is true, or God's Love—which is all-inclusive—is true, but it's one or the other. And since we all believe that we exist as separated, differentiated beings or entities, then we are saying with each breath we take, every action, each moment every morning when we awaken and we feel our presence, when we stumble into the bathroom and look in the mirror and see someone that we think is ourselves... whether we like what we see or not... we clearly recognize a person as ourselves. In that moment, we are saying that the ego is right, the ego is real, the ego is true, and God is an illusion.

And so what reinforces that illusion, what preserves that illusion is the fundamental ego doctrine, its two-fold goal that I want to prove that I exist and I want to make someone else responsible for it. And when I can get away with that, when I can have my ego's cake of separation and eat it too, which means I affirm my individual existence but someone else is held accountable and responsible for it, that's the ego's...and when I do that with another person... that's the ego's union made in Heaven. And I do it with another person, that I do for you what you do for me. I preserve my existence with preserve yours with me... I believe my needs are met by you at your believe your needs are met by me at my expense and that's what we call happy marriages in this world, or happy friendships, or happy relationships. This is the ego's will. This is what gives us pleasure and always someone loses. That's the ego's plan of salvation— someone wins and that person winning means someone else loses.

The fourth law of chaos in Chapter 22 is we have what we have taken. If I am happy, if I have something, someone else does not have it. I have what I have taken. If I have something, it is because I took it from someone else who no longer has it. So that's what we all believed right at the beginning. We took God's Power of Creation. We took God's Love. We usurped His place. We made it our own and so God no longer has it. Again, it's one or the other but there is no real happiness there. There's no real joy there because this principle makes the world very real... it makes our individual selves very real and makes us all miserably unhappy, desperately trying to prove how happy we are, but it never works because deep down we realize the fundamental lie of the ego thought system and indeed of the ego's world.

So the only way to find joy in a joyless place is to recognize we are not there. Now this does not mean that as we practice forgiveness that we deny our experiences in this world, or deny that there's a world out there, or deny a world where there's tremendous pain and suffering. But it does mean that we don't obey the ego's interpretation of this that what goes on outside of us is what makes us happy or makes us sad. We don't deny our experiences in this world because as Jesus tells us early on in the text, that's a particularly unworthy form of denial. But what we do do is deny the ego's interpretation that says what happens outside of me, including my body which is also outside of my mind, has an effect on me.

So the way I learn to be happy in a world that was designed to be unhappy is to not subscribe to the fundamental law of the ego, which is that my happiness and my unhappiness depend on forces, circumstances, situations, relationships outside of me over which I tend to have no control. But recognizing that no matter what you have done, you do not have the power to take God's Love or God's Peace away from me. That's what shifts the purpose of my life here. Its function no longer is to be a prison and to make everybody into the jail keeper; rather it's to see this world as a classroom in which I learn the happy lessons of forgiveness that tell me nothing here has any effect on me. And as I learn this lesson and generalize it more and more, I come to understand everything of the ego's thought system is a lie including its fundamental premise that the separation is real. And I learn that the separation is a lie, that the Atonement is correct, by not giving the ego thought system in any way, shape, or form power to disrupt my inner peace and my love.

Link to YouTube video here.

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