Volume 23 Number 4 December 2012
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
LIVING A COURSE IN MIRACLES
As Wrong Minds, Right Minds, and Advanced Teachers
Part 2 of 3
How Right Minds Live in the World:
The Blessing of Forgiveness
Our eyes now opening to Jesus' gently radiant vision of all-inclusiveness, we walk the world seeing expressions of love or calls for it (T-14.X.7:1). No specters from the past arise to mar our sight, their shadows of guilt and hate having evanesced before the sweet smiles of forgiveness. We see in apparent attacks only the cries of pain that every fragment of God's Son inevitably feels once the dream of sin, suffering, and death has begun. How could we then not allow the Love of the Holy Spirit to extend through us to tenderly feel the source of this pain with "hands made gentle by His touch" (T-27.I.5:1)? Speaking of those in the grips of death, the ego's greatest defense against remembering the truth of our non-corporeal Self, God's eternal Son, Jesus says to us in these lovely lines that would remind us of our function to forgive:
…what of those whose dedication is not to live; the black-draped "sinners," the ego's mournful chorus, plodding so heavily away from life, dragging their chains and marching in the slow procession that honors their grim master, lord of death? Touch any one of them with the gentle hands of forgiveness, and watch the chains fall away, along with yours.… The sentence sin would lay upon him he can escape through your forgiveness (T-19.IV-C.2:4-5,7).
To be sure, our fear of love's totality may still tempt us from time to time to flee into the ego's all-too-welcoming arms of judgment. However, becoming increasingly right- minded, we are able to choose sanity more and more quickly and frequently. Our comforting older brother Jesus does not expect us, still chained by fear to the ego's temporal world, to be totally healed at once. He tells us that we need only look at the ego with him, holding nothing back as we openly and defenselessly "confess" our fear to him. His love would do the rest, as we resolve not to hold on to special thoughts of sin and judgment, but simply to recognize the cost to us of keeping them.
This aspect of our spiritual journey with Jesus is specifically addressed in "How Should the Teacher of God Spend His Day?" in the manual for teachers (M-16). There our teacher reminds us, as he says earlier, that we have not come as far as we think, but that we also will not continue alone, without help (M-4.I.6:10-13). In other words, we live right-mindedly in the world by recognizing it as our classroom of forgiveness, and so we quickly bring back to the decision-making mind the effects of our wrong choices, that we may choose again. This requires our ongoing willingness to question every unkind thought and return it to its source in the mind where we had chosen the teacher of unkindness instead of the One of kindness. This recognition that our experiences are only classrooms in which we learn to be mindful helps us distinguish the right-minded way of living from the wrong-minded one: the former releases us from the curse of the ego's world of separation and specialness, while the latter withholds the Holy Spirit's blessing of forgiveness and solidifies our entrapment in the world of magic (defined below).
All through their training, every day and every hour, and even every minute and second, must God's teachers learn to recognize the forms of magic and perceive their meaninglessness. Fear is withdrawn from them, and so they go. And thus the gate of Heaven is reopened, and its light can shine again on an untroubled mind (M-16.11:9-11).
We are taught to see that every perceived problem is our problem, and an opportunity for learning there is no order of difficulty in the miracles of correction (T-1.I.1:1). The only problem is our mind's decision for the ego.
Clearly implied throughout A Course in Miracles is that we are students in Jesus' classroom of learning, and not imprisoned victims in a world we cannot control. Helpless before forces that render us vulnerable to Hamlet's "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," we remain at the mercy of unwholesome thoughts and desires that seem to arise against our will (T-19.IV-D.7:4). Once we, deceived denizens in the dualistic world of separation, can accept our proper role, we recognize that an intrinsic part of our learning is the crucial distinction between magic and the miracle.
Magic is anything we do externally to solve a problem perceived to be external, and we have learned how the ego thrives on the magic that roots us still further in its thought system of separation and projected separation (materiality). The miracle, on the other hand, uses the world to return us to our minds where we learn the ultimate lesson: not only is there no world, there is no thought (of separation) that made the world:
The miracle does nothing.…it cancels out the interference to what has been done.… This world was over long ago. The thoughts that made it are no longer in the mind that thought of them…(T-28.I.1:1,3,6-7).
This, then, is the foundation for the Course's thought system: the ego's specialness and the Holy Spirit's correction of forgiveness. It is the reason there is no hierarchy of illusions (T-23.II.2:3) and no order of difficulty among miracles. We are no longer fooled by the ego's use of magical, distracting pseudo-problems and made-up solutions. Under its guidance, our eyes have looked upon the vicious actions that result in pain and suffering, the brutality of the elements that wreak destructive havoc on vulnerable towns and villages, and the senseless genetic anomalies that bring deformed children into our deformed world—and reacted with anger or despair. Yet the loving mind sees only opportunities for forgiveness and mercy for all involved in these situations and events. Our perceptions rise above the world's laws of death and destruction, giving them no power over our peace because dreams do not affect the dreamer, the world cannot change the mind, and the effects of causes are not causes in their own right.
As we grow to accept the teaching/learning purpose of our lives, we develop the conscious capacity to become aware of how the ego tempts us to embrace magic as the answer to our problems, making inevitable our happy decision to choose against these temptations:
When all magic is recognized as merely nothing, the teacher of God has reached the most advanced state. All intermediate lessons will but lead to this, and bring this goal nearer to recognition (M-16.9:5-6; italics mine).
We see the imperfections in others—their uses of magic—and recognize that our reactions to these magic thoughts (M-17) are mere projections of the perceived imperfections in ourselves: projection makes perception. We have learned the lesson that shifting perception from judgment to forgiveness is the way out of hell, the "intermediate lessons" that will lead us home. Our hearts fill with gratitude for this healing, as the nightmare dreams of separation have been transformed into the happy dreams of universal innocence that will ultimately awaken us to our reality as God's one Son. The world no longer is perceived to be our enemy, a prison house of hatred and death that is replete with venomous creatures—macroscopic and microscopic alike—hellbent on our destruction. Through the loving vision of the Holy Spirit, the spot of ancient hatred has been transformed into a present love (T-26. IX.6:1), and we experience the blessings of forgiveness as the only truth within the world of illusion.
We have been made ready for the penultimate stage in our journey from mindlessness to mindfulness, imperfection to perfection, the ego to God. We are advanced teachers, whose very lives reflect the love that created us and that we are.