Excerpts from the Workshop held at the
Foundation for A Course in Miracles
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
"The Guiltless Son of God" (T-13.II)
Let us go now to the next section in Chapter 13, "The Guiltless Son of God," and we will look at the first five paragraphs. All of the passages that we look at will help us get a clearer understanding of the central idea that guilt is blind and it is also blinding. Guilt does not know about love, which means when we choose guilt we do not know about love. At the same time guilt is blinding: it not only blinds us to love, but it ends up blinding us to guilt itself through the projection of it onto the special relationship. That is how this begins.
(T-13.II.1:1) The ultimate purpose of projection is always to get rid of guilt.
I judge guilt as real. I judge it as totally unacceptable in myself, because right behind guilt is this wrathful, maniacal god who will destroy me, and so I have to get rid of it. That is what continually impels us each and every moment to project the world, project ourselves into the world, and then project this unconscious guilt onto everyone else.
(T-13.II.1:2) Yet, characteristically, the ego attempts to get rid of guilt from its viewpoint only …
The ego lies to us. It tells us that the way to be free of guilt is to get rid of it and put it onto someone else and hate that person, then find as many allies as you can to go along with you. If they will not go along with you, pay them. Governments do it; individuals do it. I will pay you in some form to be my friend. I will be with you all the time; I will call you; I will be nice to you; I will buy you gifts—but be my friend, which always means be my friend against the other people. Sometimes that is overt, sometimes subtle. We do it, and therefore our governments do it.
(T-13.II.1:2-3) …for much as the ego wants to retain guilt you find it intolerable, since guilt stands in the way of your remembering God, Whose pull is so strong that you cannot resist it. On this issue, then, the deepest split of all occurs, for if you are to retain guilt, as the ego insists, you cannot be you.
What this is a reference to is the happy fact that while we have made our whole world on guilt—our home away from home—nonetheless we do have a split mind, and there is yet a part of us that somewhere knows all this is made up. That is the part Jesus is referring to here. Even though we choose the ego and identify with it, there is still a part of us we continually try to keep buried that knows that this is all an illusion and a lie. That is the part that the Course is appealing to. That is the part that any spiritual teacher, any spiritual path is appealing to: the part of us that still retains even a slight degree of sanity. That is the part of the decision-making aspect of our mind that Jesus is always addressing, trying to reinforce the decision we made to study this course—just to use this as one example.
The Course teaches us that it is only one form among many thousands of other spiritualities (M-1.4:1-2). This is not the only spiritual path. But just staying within the context of this path, the part of us that chose this path and has been reasonably dedicated to it—as all of you have been—is the part that Jesus is addressing. That is the part that is saying there must be another way. Even though there is that ego part of us that likes our specialness, that somehow wants to bring the Course into it, there is still that part of us that wants to be who we really are and knows that when we play this game of guilt and specialness, we are not who we are. That, again, is what Jesus is appealing to.
(T-13.II.1:4) Only by persuading you that it is you could the ego possibly induce you to project guilt, and thereby keep it in your mind.
This is a very nice clear statement of what we have been speaking about—that the ego tells us that the way we get rid of guilt is to project it out and indulge all of our specialness needs and our special relationships. All that does, of course, is protect the guilt in our mind. The special relationship is only our home away from home. The real home of the ego, the real home of guilt is in our mind. The ego never wants us to become aware of that because then we would clearly recognize this was a very bad choice we made. We all bet on the wrong horse, and we are so insane that we do not even know that the horse we bet on is dead. We keep exercising denial over and over and over again, pretending this horse is alive and well and is going to win the race, without really understanding that this horse never lived in the first place. It dropped dead in the starting gate. We put all of our money, all of our investment, all of our time and effort into this horse that is totally dead. The tremendous effort we all put into denying this, which is what this whole world and all of our special relationships are about, is truly extraordinary.
At one point Helen was complaining to Jesus that this course is too difficult—there was no way she could learn it. As an answer Jesus said to her: How can you tell me you cannot learn this very simple course; look at what you have learned. Don't tell me your mind is so powerless that it cannot learn. Look at what you have taught yourself. This response to Helen actually comes at the end of the text at the beginning of Chapter 31 ("The Simplicity of Salvation"). It was meant at first for Helen, but obviously is for all of us.
We have taught ourselves that the impossible is true, that this horse is alive and well and is striving mightily toward the finish line, and that we are going to win. This is just as insane as any world or national leader believing that he will win a war. No one wins a war, because the very war itself is defeating and weakening, which is why no war ever ends anything—it just sows the seeds for the next war and the next war after that. The horse is dead; it is not going to go anywhere; it is not going to win any race. But, again, this gives you a respect for the enormity of your mind's power, that it could learn how something that is dead is really alive and valuable. That is what we have all done. The problem is that we do not want to believe it. Practically every line in this course says that in one way or another.
What the ego has to do, which is another way of making the same point, is convince us we are who we are not, and who we are not is who we are. That takes extraordinary teaching skill on the part of the ego and extraordinary learning skill on our part. Basically the ego is us, so we are both teachers and learners. What we have pulled off is incredible: we have made what is true about us a lie, and what is a lie about us true. Then we built an entire thought system and a world to demonstrate that the lie is true. What is so difficult about learning and accepting it is the resistance born of the fact that if that is true, then this whole thing is a lie, and we are a lie too.
Remember, that was the motivation right at the beginning—that we all as one Son made the collective choice to make the ego real, which means to make the truth a lie. Our lives and all the seeming problems in our lives are ontologically all made up, totally made up. But most of all, what we think upsets us is not what is really bothering us at all. It is just another witness to our ingenuity and skill. And of course we get lots of people, probably everyone in the world, to agree, especially our enemies or our partners, everyone who is involved with us. We all do the same dance, and the ultimate purpose that we all share on the level of the ego is to prove that the lie is true. That is why we always love a fight; we love to have a problem and argue or fight with people. That is the oxygen that keeps this whole insane thought system going. The idea that life is a battleground—that is part of the lie.
(T-13.II.2:1-2) Yet consider how strange a solution the ego's arrangement is. You project guilt to get rid of it, but you are actually merely concealing it.
Here Jesus is exposing the lie, and that is what he does all the way through this course. One of the reasons he spends so much time talking about the ego is that he is exposing the lie, uncovering the cover-up. He is saying, look at what is really going on here. That really explains why he spends so much time in this lofty spiritual path talking about the ego. It is the only spirituality that I know of that spends so much time talking about the illusion. And he does that because we do not want to talk about it, and we do not want to see it. So he has to explain it all to us very painstakingly in thirty-one chapters. We project guilt to get rid of it, but we are really concealing it.
He wants us to understand this first on the level that he is teaching it, but then to take that understanding and apply it very directly and specifically to our personal lives. That is why there is a workbook—that is what the workbook asks us to do: to see how we do this, which means to see how our special relationships do not work. Now that does not mean we throw away the relationship, as the Course in fact says twice (T-15.V.4,5; T-17.IV.2). The Holy Spirit does not take your special relationships away from you. He transforms them. It does not mean you stop having relationships. He is not saying to stop having a body. He is not saying to stop breathing, to stop eating, or to stop relating. He is not saying any of that. He is simply teaching us to change the purpose. Do not throw the baby out with the bath water. It is not the relationship on the level of behavior or form that is the problem. It is the purpose of guilt that it is serving. That is the problem.
Thus, Jesus is uncovering the ingenious, though nasty and vicious, set of dynamics that fuel our whole world. Only by seeing the dynamics for what they are, can we meaningfully say that this is insane, and we do not want to do this anymore. As you enter yet another relationship, watch what you do. Watch all the subtle games, all the ways that you use your body, as the Course says at one point, to bait another fish (T-24.VII.4:6). Just watch what you do. You do not necessarily have to stop doing it, but just watch what you do and understand why you are doing it. And it is finally understanding why you are doing it that will give you the motivation to shift the purpose of the relationship.
This course is not saying to stop living in a body just because the body is an illusion. We still believe the body is real, but Jesus does want us to understand the way we are living and to use the body in a different way, which means that we have to use a different teacher. Our new teacher, the Holy Spirit or Jesus, teaches us not by telling us to change our behavior, but by helping us realize we have a mind that has misused its power—that our mind has gotten us into a lot of trouble without our even knowing we are in a lot of trouble. Our new Teacher tells us, "Let Me help you see what you have done, so that you will be motivated to now make another choice."