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Text, Chapter 31, Section IV: The Real Alternative
(T-31.IV.5:1) Who would be willing to be turned away from all the roadways of the world, unless he understood their real futility?...
(T-31.IV.5:2) Is it not needful that he should begin with this, to seek another way instead?
We begin by recognizing the futility of our lives here. The world may call this pessimism, yet it is anything but. It is truth. How could it be pessimistic to say nothing works here, since nothing does? Indeed, it is psychotic to think this world works. And so Jesus is asking us to be realistic, as he calls a spade a spade: “Look at the world for what it is. You can escape, but not by running away from it. Instead, join me in rising above it to the mind, seeing its insanity and choosing the sane response of Atonement.” Herein lies our hope, as Lesson 226 reminds us:
If I so choose, I can depart this world entirely. It is not death which makes this possible, but it is change of mind about the purpose of the world. If I believe it has a value as I see it now, so will it still remain for me. But if I see no value in the world as I behold it, nothing that I want to keep as mine or search for as a goal, it will depart from me. For I have not sought for illusions to replace the truth.
Father, my home awaits my glad return. Your Arms are open and I hear Your Voice. What need have I to linger in a place of vain desires and of shattered dreams, when Heaven can so easily be mine? (W-pII.226)
Excerpted from Futility to Happiness
Q: If it is inevitable that we will wake up, or at least remember our true Identity, then behaviorally would it be logical to do whatever one feels is most peaceful in the world? And so in many ways it doesn’t really matter what others do or say. In fact, A Course in Miracles itself is quite irrelevant, if the waking process is inevitable. I mean isn’t it just a matter of hanging around doing what one likes doing best and not being naive to the fact that the ego will jabber on nonsense regardless of our seemingly worldly activities?
A: While “the outcome is as certain as God” (T-2.III.3:10) and “the acceptance of the Atonement by everyone is only a matter of time” (T-2.III.3:1)—simply because we could never really separate ourselves from God—we are still making a deliberate choice right now to remain asleep in our dream of time. And for all of us, the pain of the thought of separation behind the dream will eventually become so intolerable that we will all at some point want to make a different choice, the choice to awaken (T-2.III.3). So the only question any of us needs to ask ourselves now is, how long do I want to remain in pain, asleep in time? If we do not want to be conscious of and accept responsibility for our choice to see ourselves as separate, Jesus tells us we can continue to temporize and procrastinate for a time period at least as long as the time across which the separation has already occurred, that is, “millions of years”! (T-2.VIII.2:5).
Granted, all of this is illusory, and, from Jesus’ perspective outside of time, it matters little: “Nothing is ever lost but time, which in the end is meaningless. For it is but a little hindrance to eternity, quite meaningless to the real Teacher of the world” (T-26.V.2:1-2). But Jesus also recognizes that this is not our experience here in time: “Yet since you do believe in it [time], why should you waste it going nowhere, when it can be used to reach a goal as high as learning can achieve?...it is hard indeed to wander off, alone and miserable, down a road that leads to nothing and that has no purpose” (T-26.V.2:3,6).
So we have a choice about how we want to use time and how long we want to remain in the experience of time. Yes, in the end, it won’t matter, for we will have to remember who we really are—that has never really changed. But while we still believe all of this is real, Jesus in his Course is telling us that the length of our time in time can be “greatly shortened by miracles, the device for shortening but not abolishing time” (T-2.VIII.2:6). But this means, if the Course is our path, that our relationships with our brothers are of central importance, for it is upon others that each of us has projected all the guilt and responsibility for the pain of separation that we don’t want to see within ourselves. And so, as students of the Course, we will care what others do or say, not because we want to change them, but because our reactions to them can direct us to the unhealed places within our own mind. To avoid looking at our reactions to others, dismissing them as irrelevant to our waking process, would be to engage in denial, which is just another way of saying we are refusing to accept responsibility for our own decision to be separate. In the end, we will all see this, but the choice we have now is whether we want to acknowledge any of these projections now.
As difficult as looking at our brother to see our own “secret sins and hidden hates” (T-31.VIII.9:2) may seem to be, Jesus wants us to understand that not looking leads to even greater pain, for there is no hope for healing then. And so he encourages us, reminding us that this is a path we take with our brother: “Think not the way to Heaven’s gate is difficult at all. Nothing you undertake with certain purpose and high resolve and happy confidence, holding your brother’s hand and keeping step to Heaven’s song, is difficult to do” (T-26.V.2:4-5; italics added).
Q: I sometimes think that A Course in Miracles is for everyone but me and I cannot figure out why. It is like I want to tell everyone about it, and think that they are worthy of it but I am not. I know that Jesus says that “excluding yourself from the Atonement is the ego’s last ditch effort … ” but why do I do this? Can you comment on this?
A: Only resistance keeps us from personally accepting Jesus’ loving message and from applying the Course’s teachings of forgiveness in our relationships. This resistance is experienced in some form by everyone who studies the Course. The reason for the resistance is fear. We are afraid that if we accept Jesus’ love, which is the reflection of God’s Love, we will lose the special individual selves we cherish. They were chosen to replace the Identity God gave us as His innocent Son, which was denied when the separation thought was taken seriously. Believing this was a terrible “sin” makes us feel unworthy of God’s Love, and it is this Love that is reflected in the Course, which is why you feel it is for everyone else, but you are unworthy of it. The fact is, we are unworthy of the false identity as bodies that we tenaciously cling to. Having seemingly lost our true treasure (our Identity as God’s innocent Son), the ego tells us we will be left with nothing if we lose the specialness of our identity as bodies. We believe this and then refuse to listen to the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of who we are, or to practice His lessons of forgiveness. However, “The ego does not know what it is trying to teach. It is trying to teach you what you are without knowing what you are. It is expert only in confusion. It does not understand anything else. As a teacher, then, the ego is totally confused and totally confusing” (T-8.II.1:4-8).
Its confusing message tells us the body/brain has the power to choose and make decisions about everything, including who we are. Once we choose to believe this, it is not easy to reverse our upside-down thinking regarding the body and the mind, because learning we are minds means everything we believe about ourselves and the world is false: “The resistance to recognizing this [that the mind makes decisions] is enormous, because the existence of the world as you perceive it depends on the body being the decision maker” (M-5.II.1:7). Our hope lies in the power of our minds to make another choice. We can choose to believe the Holy Spirit’s teaching by allowing Him to gradually replace our mistaken beliefs about ourselves with His perception. We need not do battle with our resistance to His teaching once we become aware of it. That only makes it real, and gives it more power to keep us defended against hearing His Voice. It is enough to begin by recognizing the sneaky forms resistance takes to confuse us, and then not take it seriously. We are led gently, just as we would gently lead a child to peek into the closet where the “monster” hides. “The Holy Spirit does not seek to throw you into panic. So He merely asks if just a little question might be raised” (T-31.V.11:5-6). Whenever we are overcome with feelings of unworthiness or guilt, we may ask, “And what if I were wrong?” Raising just this little doubt about our “rightness” allows a ray of the Holy Spirit’s healing light to enter the darkness of our confusion and lessens our belief in the ego’s madness.
Excerpted from Q&A
Workbook Lesson 76: I am under no laws but God’s
(W-pI.76.2:3-5) The idea for today tells you once again how simple is salvation. Look for it where it waits for you, and there it will be found. Look nowhere else, for it is nowhere else.
Where is salvation? In the mind. Where is it not? In the world, in the body, in anything specific. Anything specific is 2+2=4. It is not of God and therefore is not true. Since we made specifics to attack and to keep us separate, we have to use the same specifics to lead us back to the thought of attack so we can correct it. That is how a special relationship becomes holy. When Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit does not take our special relationships away but transforms them, he means that the Holy Spirit transforms the relationship’s purpose (see, for example, T-15.V.5; T-18.II.6; T-25.VI.4). He does not do anything with the form, with bodies. Not only is He not interested in bodies, He does not see them—there aren’t any! Bodies are hallucinatory. Do you want the Holy Spirit or Jesus to be psychotic, to see what is not there? Do not ask Their help with your body or another person’s. Rather, ask for help to shift your attention from the body to the mind, of which the body is the projection. Our Teachers are in the mind, the locus of salvation. That is where the problem and its answer are. Look for salvation where it waits for you, in the mind, and do not look for it anywhere else.
In a sense, these two very simple sentences: “Look for it where it waits for you, and there it will be found. Look nowhere else, for it is nowhere else,” sum up the entire Course, which is about returning our attention to the mind. The world’s laws and customs—what is appropriate and not appropriate, right and not right, holy and not holy, loving and not loving—are all based on the law of 2 + 2 equaling 4, the strategy of keeping us mindless. This is how the ego controls us, keeping us mindless so we never get back to where the problem is: the decision-making mind. People cannot control us. Nothing in this world can control us. We control us. This is extremely important to understand; otherwise we will continue to get caught in the ego’s trap of duality. The “mind control” that people talk about is really brain control. Of course brains can be controlled, but there is no brain. So it is merely nothing that is being controlled by nothing. This is not evil or sinful. It is silly, deserving only the Holy Spirit’s gentle laughter. No one can control your mind because it is not part of the body, nor is it in it. The body is in the mind because ideas leave not their source, not the other way around. That is why we are under no laws but God’s.
We need recall that there is nothing out here that can affect us. This does not mean we should deny that the mind is still focused on the body and that we want to be mindless, at which point we have placed ourselves under the world’s laws. This is the case, even though we consciously protest that we are helplessly trapped in a body we did not make. Not only does perception lie, but so does our experience. The truth remains that while the world can affect our bodies and brains, it can do nothing to the decision-making mind. This is the good news the Course brings us.
Excerpted from When 2 + 2 = 5
It is interesting that people have used Helen’s personal life and struggles with the Course as witnesses for and against its authenticity. The positive view was that Helen’s ego was so dominant that in no way could she herself have written A Course in Miracles, and so Someone else must have. On the other side, often coming from a more traditional Christian view, others would argue that if Helen’s experiences of Jesus were indeed valid, her life would surely have changed. The fact that it did not, therefore, invalidated the experiences and pointed up their ego nature. Actually, I myself sometimes used that idea with Helen, though without the purpose of discrediting her experience. When Helen would complain that nothing ever happened to her and that Jesus really let her down, I would remind her, first, of the Course itself, and then that if people had had one one-thousandth of her experiences of Jesus and the Love of God, their lives would have been changed forever. She of course could not disagree with me.
It is always instructive, especially in viewing Helen’s life, to recall the lines from the text that refer to the Holy Spirit’s plan of the Atonement (or forgiveness):
Put yourself not in charge of this, for you cannot distinguish between advance and retreat. Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures, and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success (T-18.V.1:5-6).
Thus, it would appear as if Helen’s personal life were a failure: feeling “out of joint” in her worldly experience, she nonetheless ended up feeling equally “out of joint” in her “unworldly” life as well, at least judging by externals. Moreover, her relationship with Bill, the immediate stimulus for the Course’s scribing, was from all external indications unhealed by Jesus’ message.
It was not the case, however, that Helen’s ego triumphed over Jesus in the end, and this fact is the principal burden of the balance of this book.
Excerpted from Absence from Felicity
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