Excerpts from the Workshop held at the
Foundation for A Course in Miracles
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
Q: I hear what you are saying, but why does the Course talk about the ego, its being so hideous, like the hungry hounds of hell? How can we smile at that? Why didn't he describe the ego as a clown?
A: At times he does, actually. There is that wonderful passage where he describes the ego as a mouse in the corner of the universe, screaming out its lungs:
"This is your 'enemy,'—a frightened mouse that would attack the universe. How likely is it that it will succeed? Can it be difficult to disregard its feeble squeaks that tell of its omnipotence, and would drown out the hymn of praise to its Creator that every heart throughout the universe forever sings as one? Which is the stronger? Is it this tiny mouse or everything that God created? You and your brother are not joined together by this mouse, but by the Will of God. And can a mouse betray whom God has joined?" (T-22.V.4:3-9).
The reason he does what you are describing is that he is reflecting the way we look at the ego: as a hideous monster and as something absolutely horrific, the greatest criminal in the history of the universe. The ego has destroyed Heaven. That is as bad as you can get. Now, none of this is real; nothing has really happened, but that is what we believe, and so that is what Jesus reflects. As I have said, he lifts the veil so that we can look within and see what we have made. Only then can we look beyond it and realize that what we are looking at is not there.
Let me read something that makes that process very clear. It is in Chapter 11, in the section called "The 'Dynamics' of the Ego":
(T-11.V.1:5) The "dynamics" of the ego will be our lesson for a while, for we must look first at this to see beyond it, since you have made it real.
Jesus is now telling us what we have denied. We made the ego into this monstrosity of sin, guilt, and fear that culminates in the wrath of God furiously, maniacally, insanely, and viciously storming into our minds to annihilate us. That is what we believe we did, so he is saying that we must look first at this to see beyond it, since we have made it real.
(T-11.V.1:6) We will undo this error quietly together, and then look beyond it to the truth.
Before we can realize that the ego is a pussycat—this little frightened mouse roaring its lungs out at the universe—we have to look at this monstrosity that we made. Only then will we realize it is nothing, and then our eyes will go beyond the seeming granite wall of this monster through the flimsy veil that has no power to conceal the light. Then we will realize that the ego is only a clown. This entire passage, actually, is very important, but these two lines set the whole process of the Course before us. Again:
(T-11.V.1:5) The "dynamics" of the ego will be our lesson for a while, for we must look first at this to see beyond it . . .
You cannot get to the light until you first look at the darkness. Jesus told Helen and Bill in a special message—not in the Course—that they cannot get to the love that unites them until they first look at the hate. That is the word he used, hate. He said to Helen and Bill that they must look at their desire to get rid of each other (see Absence from Felicity, p. 297), which is only a slightly euphemistic way of saying they want to murder each other. Thus, you must look at the hate before you get to the love. The reason you have to do that first is that you have made it real. You have made the hate and the guilt real. You have made this thing very serious. He is saying to us, "How can I tell you it is not serious unless you look at it with me?" That is what we do not want to do, because there is that little voice that whispers, "If I look at the ego, it will destroy me. If I look at the monstrosity that I am, at this awfulness that is going on in my mind, I will be destroyed." That is why this idea of looking is such an important motif in mythology. You do not look at the face of Medusa because you will be turned into stone. You do not look, because if you do, something terrible will happen to you. That is the resistance.
Now, we want to believe something terrible will happen to us. And we believe something terrible will happen because of what we did. But since we are what we did, if we undo what we did—the separation—then we cease to exist. Thus, it is very painful for me to live a life of denial while walking around with this monster inside, but at least there is a me that the monster is walking around inside of. It is not a happy me, but there is a me. If I let the monster out, my ego tells me, it will devour me and I will be no more. What it does not tell me, of course, is that if I let the monster out, I will realize that there is no monster. All that remains is the light of Christ, which is Who I am.
When you look with Jesus, you will end up with that gentle laughter, because you will realize how silly it was to believe this was going on: the entire world, the entire cosmos we made collectively as one Son, and then the individual world, the individual hells that we make for ourselves all are based on the need to have a defense against this monster inside, which really is nothing. That is the "maladaptive solution to a nonexistent problem." When you take your ego, the parts of your life, and your symptoms seriously, you are falling right into the ego's trap, which the ego loves. Just as in my supervisor's example, you then spend hours and hours, and of course for us, lifetimes and millennia, eons, trying to explain what this world is like, why this world is here, what the meaning of life is and so on. What is life? How did it begin? People go on and on with this. They are analyzing why you took your shoe off—and you took your shoe off so you would analyze it, and analyze it, and analyze it more. We are all doing that. We are all walking around with one shoe off, hobbling around our life trying to explain why we are like this. Some people have a brown shoe, others have a blue shoe; some have an open-toed shoe; some have heels; others have loafers; some have slippers; a few have moccasins. We analyze all this, as well as all the differences—in feet, size, styles—and it goes on and on. That is what we do. We analyze everything without realizing the whole thing is made up. That is what magic does. The magic tries to understand, control, predict, explain—everything we are told science is supposed to do—which is all centered on distracting us from what is not there.
. . . . . . .
Q: Special hate is the magic that keeps me from looking at this. There is all this fear behind hate, and the fear specifically is what I hate these people for and why I want to murder them. When I am a victim I do not have to look at what I hate them for. Is this but a mirror of what I am accusing myself of, but a different form, maybe?
A: Yes. It is always like that. Hate is always an attempt to get rid of one’s self-hatred and put it onto someone else. You know, the line I always quote from Lesson 161, "Hate is specific" (W-pI.161.7:1). There has to be someone you can hate. We have to get rid of our guilt, which is self-hatred. The guilt is the first magic, because guilt is what is going to get us out of the mind, so that we do not have to choose against the ego. We get rid of the guilt and we magically put it onto someone else. Now we do not have to deal with our self-hatred, this monster that lurks within. We just have to deal with all the monsters "out there". And the whole thing is made up.
Q: Why does this take so long?
A: It does not take so long, but as long as you agonize over not getting it, you will never get it. You know, the next worse "sin" after taking A Course in Miracles seriously is taking your spirituality and your spiritual path seriously and then agonizing over it. That is the worst thing you do. You might even be thinking you are getting up there in age, and may not have many years left. Remember, though, you do not learn this in your body, which is what the ego wants you to think. That is another magic trick. Bodies are stupid and dumb. You learn this in your mind, and the mind is timeless, time-less. It is not eternal, but there is no time in the mind. Time and space exist only in the world of bodies; they do not exist in the mind, which is the reason this is not learned in the body. The body does not learn. The ego is so slippery!
It is very hard to avoid this kind of thing, because then you begin to think you do not have many years left, and you wish you had found the Course when you were 20. If you think you have trouble understanding it now at your mature age, imagine the trouble you would have had at 20! This has nothing to do with chronology or with linear time. The ego wants you to believe the body is real, and it wants you to believe that learning this course is serious. Any time you take anything seriously, including your spirituality or this course, you will never learn it. The Course never says the Holy Spirit looks with seriousness. He looks with gentle laughter (T-27.VIII.9). Jesus says, "It is a joke to think that time can come to circumvent eternity, which means there is no time" (T-27.VIII.6:5), so what are you concerned about? The ego just wants you to take off your shoe, with your wrist watch and calendar in it, hold it up and say there is a problem here. The problem is, why are you wearing your watch in the first place? I don't mean you should physically remove your watch. The concern with time is just another trap.