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The Thought of God surrounds your little kingdom, waiting at the barrier you built to come inside and shine upon the barren ground. See how life springs up everywhere! The desert becomes a garden, green and deep and quiet, offering rest to those who lost their way and wander in the dust. Give them a place of refuge, prepared by love for them where once a desert was. And everyone you welcome will bring love with him from Heaven for you. … And under its beneficence your little garden will expand, and reach out to everyone who thirsts for living water, but has grown too weary to go on alone (T-18.VIII.9:1-5,8).
Everyone is a frightened child who wants to be loved, and “has grown too weary to go on alone.” Everyone. Jesus depicts the universal condition of pain and alienation in this poignant passage from the workbook:
This world you seem to live in is not home to you. And somewhere in your mind you know that this is true. A memory of home keeps haunting you, as if there were a place that called you to return, although you do not recognize the voice, nor what it is the voice reminds you of. Yet still you feel an alien here, from somewhere all unknown. Nothing so definite that you could say with certainty you are an exile here. Just a persistent feeling, sometimes not more than a tiny throb, at other times hardly remembered, actively dismissed, but surely to return to mind again (W-pI.182.1).
If you could be aware that returning home to love is all that people desire—no matter what they say or do—you would see the hurt child within them, and could not but hold their yearning in loving comfort.
To see the fearful, lonely child means allowing yourself to see the pain behind people’s attack. No matter how vicious and cruel the behavior, there is still suffering underneath. Indeed, people would not attack unless they were suffering. No matter how hateful the objects of your judgment, they would not behave, say, or think as they do unless they were filled with the torturous pain of a little child who believes love has been taken away, and is left all alone in the universe, without hope.
Hearing the pain of alienation in others, as does a loving, caring adult with a frightened child, you reassure them that everything is all right, in whatever way is appropriate. However, if you do not hear the child’s plaintive call for love, seeing an evil monster instead of the innocent child, it is only because you do not want to hear it in yourself. One could say that the goal of A Course in Miracles, therefore, is to have us hear the pain behind the defensive wall in all people—victim and victimizer, you and I. Our hearts would then go out to everyone, touching them where they hurt, for healing is universally loving and kind. Walls are defenses, and without them love will enter. Indeed, love is already there, and without our walls, it naturally extends to everyone.
Excerpted from “The Secret Wall” The Lighthouse newsletter, Volume 15, Number 2, June 2004.
...the most effective learning situations are those that contain the most conflict, fear, and anxiety—all aspects of specialness—because they bring out the mind’s deepest recesses of guilt, which we now experience as bodies. Jesus helps us understand that our experiences as bodies in the dream are nothing but projections of a life we made real in our minds. And this inner life is itself a defense against the real problem of the decision maker’s misuse of its power of choice.
Every time we come to Jesus for help, his answer will be that what we experience outside is a projection of what we have made real inside: the world is “the outside picture of an inward condition” (T‑21.in.1:5) —projection makes perception. We first look within and see the ego’s thought system of separation and guilt. Making that reality, we project it in the illusory hope that it will no longer be in us but in someone else, thereby freeing us of its painful presence. Once again, all our external problems and concerns come from the ego’s maladaptive attempts to remove a problem that is itself unreal.
By choosing to learn the thought system Jesus teaches us, we have a context in which to place our everyday experiences. It is most important that we focus on these experiences, and not do a metaphysical trip on ourselves and think that because the Course teaches the world and body are illusions, that we believe it. We must begin where we believe we are—in the body—otherwise Jesus cannot teach us. Thus we need to focus on whatever goes on in our daily lives. To restate it, the classrooms are these lives, and special relationships—with our body and those of others—constitute the curriculum our new teacher uses to instruct us. We therefore need to see sex as part of that curriculum, whether we are sexually active or not—not because sex is any better or worse than anything else in our lives, but because it is such a significant part of our classroom in this physical world. In this way, Jesus can help us recognize that what we experience in terms of the body is the shadowy fragment of what we made real in the mind.
It cannot be said enough that knowing the metaphysical underpinnings of the Course’s thought system is most helpful, because they provide the framework within which we can make sense of our lives, giving them a mighty purpose. What the mind does with sexuality has intention, as with every aspect of our bodily experience. Until now, the body had the negative goal of proving that separation is real, the same goal shared by the specifics of victimization and the pleasure-pain continuum. One of sexuality’s purposes, therefore, was to prove that something outside the mind gives pleasure and happiness. A major myth about sexuality, moreover, has been that it will make us whole and complete—in heterosexual behavior, for example, male and female come together and become one. Indeed, Plato taught in his great myth that in the beginning we were androgynous—both male and female—and then became separated. This kind of thinking, then, becomes the ego’s justification for finding union through the body. On the other hand, sexuality can also be the source of sin and guilt, shame and fear, wherein religions have found justification for their belief in sexual abstinence as a key to spiritual advancement. Either position misses the point, for true unholiness and holiness have their locus only in the mind, where the decision for the ego or Holy Spirit is made.
This underscores the importance of the line I quoted earlier: “Minds are joined; bodies are not” (T‑18.VI.3:1). What joins you with another person is not copulation, but shared purpose. This can be expressed in a sexual relationship or a non-sexual one. It can be expressed anywhere, anytime. As Jesus says at the beginning of the manual, you may be riding on an elevator when a child bumps into you, but you do not judge the child (M-3.2). In that holy instant you do not see the child as separate from you. This is the meaning of joining.
More than anything else, therefore, sex is a classroom of joining, reflecting the learning that occurs in the mind.
Excerpted from Form versus Content
(10:4-7) Say, then, to your brother:
I give you to the Holy Spirit as part of myself.
I know that you will be released, unless I want to use you to imprison myself.
In the name of my freedom I choose your release, because I recognize that we will be released together.
You have to say this to every brother, not just certain special ones. You must release every brother, especially those whom you are tempted to exclude. Since special love and special hate are the same, your forgiveness must embrace both those you believe you hate, and those you believe you love and therefore seek to cannibalize.
Each and every time you are tempted to accuse someone, you should say this prayer, though not necessarily literally. If you are serious about loving Jesus, really serious about taking his hand and awakening from this nightmare, the only way you can do so is to take everyone with you—not in form, but in your thoughts. If you exclude anyone, you are saying you do not want to return home; your love for Jesus is so fearful, his hand the last one you wish to hold. You should look at that dynamic within yourself with honesty and without guilt, judgment, or rationalization. Simply admit: “Yes, this is where I am; I am still too afraid.” Such a realization is very useful information to have. The problem is not out there, but in you. It is not a sin, but simply the fear of losing your self, and that mistake calls for correction, not punishment. At this point you are being honest, and that is what Jesus is talking about earlier in the text when he says, “Be very honest with yourself in this, for we must hide nothing from each other” (T‑4.III.8:2).
Gratefully, you do not have to pretend you are holy. Earlier in this chapter Jesus says: “The necessary condition for the holy instant does not require that you have no thoughts that are not pure. But it does require that you have none that you would keep” (T‑15.IV.9:1-2). There is a huge distinction being made here. Jesus is saying you do not have to have totally pure thoughts. That would be an impossible demand to make of us; no one here has totally pure thoughts. But when your thoughts are impure—thoughts of hate, separation, and specialness—Jesus is asking you not to hold on to them, but to bring them to him. This is all he asks: to be aware of the necessity to preserve your own existence by excluding certain people. And, once again, do not judge yourself for doing so.
Excerpted from Life, Death, and Love: Shakespeare’s Great Tragedies and A Course in Miracles (Lear)
...you cannot love someone you perceive as different from you. Following the laws of chaos, I must believe that if someone is different from me it is because that person has what I lack, and must have gotten it by stealing it from me. In the Western world, Jesus is the greatest symbol of having what we do not have. He has God’s Love; we do not. St. Paul was very clear about that in teaching that we are second-class citizens, the adopted sons of God (Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5); whereas Jesus is first class, the only beloved of his Father. Any child of a family who is not the first-born knows about that. Not only is Jesus God’s only beloved Son, he is innocent and totally good. But our egos would have us conclude that he stole that innocence and goodness from us; and therefore he deserved what he got on Calvary. That is our insane “reasoning,” the embodiment of the laws of chaos. Jesus specifically refers to this insanity of projecting our seeming sins onto him, and then punishing him for them. That is why he needs us to forgive him, without which we will not be able to accept his help:
I am made welcome in the state of grace, which means you have at last forgiven me. For I became the symbol of your sin, and so I had to die instead of you. To the ego sin means death, and so atonement is achieved through murder. Salvation is looked upon as a way by which the Son of God was killed instead of you. … Let me be to you the symbol of the end of guilt, and look upon your brother as you would look on me. Forgive me all the sins you think the Son of God committed. And in the light of your forgiveness he will remember who he is, and forget what never was. I ask for your forgiveness, for if you are guilty, so must I be. But if I surmounted guilt and overcame the world, you were with me. Would you see in me the symbol of guilt or of the end of guilt, remembering that what I signify to you you see within yourself? (T-19.IV-A.17:1-4; IV-B.6)
As long as you perceive Jesus as different from you—as we all obviously do—you cannot love him. You cannot love anyone in this world who you believe is different from you in a way you have judged to be significant. Therefore, of course you are going to ask Jesus to help you, not because you love him, but perhaps because you want to love him. You are aware that you cannot love him and certainly cannot experience his love as long as you are harboring hatred and grievances. But the pain of the hatred and grievance, and the pain of being without his love would motivate you to ask him to help you look at the obstacles to that love: the different forms of specialness. As we were saying earlier, together with Jesus you hold the lamp and go forth to look not at Heaven’s bliss, but into the bowels of hell, the cesspool of your ego thoughts. Of such looking is the Course’s kingdom on earth, the way of our return to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Excerpted from Ending Our Resistance to Love
Anyone who has worked with A Course in Miracles for a while would almost certainly acknowledge that the subject of special relationships is by far the most difficult in the Course, not only in understanding, but even more so in accepting how this thought system—infused with hate, murder, betrayal, and guilt—permeates just about every aspect of our lives. In fact, I would even state that students could not claim to be serious about A Course in Miracles without having carefully and honestly addressed this issue, spending considerable time focusing on how specialness actually plays out in their lives. The consequences of not recognizing our investment in specialness are terrible. One of the reasons Shakespeare’s plays have captivated people across centuries is that they are not simply dramas about fictional characters, but about people with whom it is very difficult not to identify….
No one in this world escapes the laws of specialness—the ego’s five laws of chaos (T-23.II). No one escapes them because they define our existence, and how and why we are here: the original thought of specialness—“God will not give me the love I want and deserve; therefore, I will get it on my own.” Thus, again, we had to steal it from God, sacrificing our Creator for the special existence of independence. That is the truth behind our life here. Jesus is not making it up when he tells us: “You think you are the home of evil, darkness and sin” (W‑pI.93.1:1). However deeply buried that self-concept might be, that is what we think. We are the ones who made this home, yet because the Voice of truth has been silenced we have forgotten. We accept the voice of the ego as truth’s voice and listen to no other. Indeed, we do not know there is any other, for we are not even aware that we are listening to a voice. We have become that voice.
In “The Two Worlds” (T-18.IX.3-5) we find what is probably the clearest exposition in A Course in Miracles of the relationship between guilt and the body. Jesus explains that the body and world were specifically made to conceal the guilt in our minds. The body was made so we would not know about guilt, yet it continually casts its shadows—the specialness we experience in the world. The problem is that we do not know its source. We know only that we live in a horrid world as bodies, to which awful things happen. We do not know all this is generated by thoughts in our minds, beneath the surface of our awareness.
Guilt continually spews forth its specialness and hate—of ourselves and others. Above all, it fuels the thought that says: “You have what you have taken from God; think not He has forgotten” (M‑17.7:3-4). We then try to mitigate His punishment through pleading: “You do not have to punish me, Lord; You do not have to steal love back and destroy me. I will punish myself through a life of suffering; a life in which I atone for my sin.” The magical hope is that if I punish myself, God will not have to. Despite my suffering, I will still be more merciful than God, whose “mercy” will be absolute. It must be so because I was absolutely merciless toward Him, and what I believe I did to Him I must believe He will do to me in return. And so in a magical attempt to diffuse the merciless fury of His vengeance, I inform Him that I will destroy this and that relationship. I will destroy my bank account. I will destroy this house and new car. Above all, I will destroy this body. I will eat foods I know I should not eat because they hurt me. That is how, unconsciously, I atone for my sin. My pain comes from my guilt, which comes from my need to be special.
If we never look at that specialness, there is no way we can ever undo it. What enabled us to get away with murder at the beginning was to ignore the Holy Spirit. If we had listened to His Voice, we would have abandoned the mad idea of special love. This becomes extremely important in terms of our personal lives; and it becomes even more important when we try to live and practice this Course. Even though we initially denied the Holy Spirit, if we were to listen to Him now we would give up the mad ideas of thievery, sacrifice, and one or the other; we would give up the insane idea of specialness as something we want; and we would return home. At that point our specialness, individuality, and autonomy would disappear, and all that would remain would be the Love of God.
Excerpted from Life, Death, and Love: Shakespeare’s Great Tragedies and A Course in Miracles (Othello)
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