The Home of Guilt
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) (cont.))
(T-13.II.2:3-4) You do experience the guilt, but you have no idea why. [We all experience self-hatred and guilt but we do not know where it is coming from, so Jesus is going to explain it.] On the contrary, you associate it [guilt] with a weird assortment of "ego ideals," which the ego claims you have failed.
The "ego ideals" are the "shoulds," such as I should get A's in school. This is an ideal the ego sets up so that we will fail. We always like to blame our parents for that, but it has nothing to do with our parents. Another ideal is when we say, for example, I have been A Course in Miracles student for five years, five minutes, five days, or five decades and I should know better by now. I should not be judging. I should not be involved in special relationships. I should not be going to a doctor when I am sick. These are the ego ideals Jesus is talking about. We set something up so we will fail, or so we will feel guilty. We think the reason we are guilty is that we did not live up to parental expectations, or Jesus' expectations, or this person's expectations, or the government's expectations, whatever it is. What Jesus is saying is that that is not what is going on.
(T-13.II.2:5-6) Yet you have no idea that you are failing the Son of God by seeing him as guilty. Believing you are no longer you, you do not realize that you are failing yourself.
That is where the guilt comes from. The ego is so clever—it takes us into the world (the lower box on the chart) and says here is why you are guilty: you failed here in the world; you are thirty-five or fifty-five, and you should have all this money and all the things the world says you should have; you do not, therefore you are a failure.
All of this simply becomes the way the ego tells us that the problem is in the world, and that this is why you are guilty. We do not have a clue that the reason we are guilty is that we have accused ourselves of betraying the Son of God by choosing the ego instead of the Holy Spirit. That is the problem. That is what Jesus means very early in the workbook when he says we are never upset for the reason we think (W-pI.5). He is teaching us that we are never guilty for the reason we think; we are never angry for the reason we think; we are never sad for the reason we think. The whole thing is very, very carefully orchestrated by the ego.
This is also what he means in Chapter 27 when he says that of all the many causes of our pain, never once did we think our guilt was among them (T-27.VII.7:4). The guilt he is talking about is the guilt in our mind. We are very good as individuals and as a society in identifying the sources of pain and suffering, whether we do it through medicine, psychology, economics, politics, religion, or whatever. We are very good at isolating the cause. We may all differ, but we all have theories about why we are so upset, why the world is in such a terrible state, why this has happened, why that has happened. We never think that guilt is the cause, because the ego is so clever. It made the world—as we saw at the beginning of our class—as a cover for the guilt, so that the body would never see the guilt but it would carry out the dictates of guilt. The dictates of guilt, once again, are to see the causes of pain and suffering, and the causes of joy and happiness as external to ourselves, as external to the mind.
That is the meaning of that all-important section "Seek Not Outside Yourself" (T-29.VII) near the end of the text. There is a point that is discussed all the way through. We see the cause of both our happiness and our unhappiness as outside. The body is also outside, because it is outside the mind. And ultimately, it is not even guilt that is the cause; it is the decision to make guilt real that is the cause. The ultimate cause of all of our problems lies in that dot at the head of the split mind box on the chart, because guilt is nothing. It is the belief in guilt that is the problem. Even more to the point, it is the decision to be guilty instead of innocent that is the problem. When we make the decision to be guilty, we just as quickly deny all responsibility for that and project the blame onto everyone else. Again, that is why we had to make the world. That is what the workbook means when it says, "Thus were specifics made" (W-pI.161.3:1). Hate needs an object, something specific that it can land on when we project it out. That is why we are born into families. As I always like to remind people, if this is all a dream, all made up, as the Course tells us, and we are the dreamer of the dream, then we are responsible for it. As Freud explained over a hundred years ago, dreams are purposive and fulfill wishes, which the Course would also say, but for a different reason. Then why did we make the world the way we did? Why did we make the body the way we did? Why did we have to be born helpless into families? It did not have to be like that. We could have been born like Athena from the head of Zeus, fully grown. We did it this way so we would have objects to project onto.
And everyone knows, since we all have been children and we all have families, that the first object of our hatred is always our parents. They are the objects of our special love and our special hate. That is the real meaning of Freud's Oedipus complex. Our parents form special love and special hate relationships with us, and we with them, obviously. That is why we have families, so that we have somewhere to put the guilt that we do not want to keep within.
(T-13.II.3:1-2) The darkest of your hidden cornerstones holds your belief in guilt from your awareness. For in that dark and secret place is the realization that you have betrayed God's Son by condemning him to death.
That is why, when the world wrote the story of Jesus, it wrote it as the crucifixion of God's Son. No one really knows what happened in his lifetime, but we are told that the Son of God, totally innocent, was crucified. Our guilt was put on his shoulders and he was killed for it. That is what this is a reference to. That is why the words are that way, based on the famous statement that Jesus supposedly said to Judas, "... betrayest thou the son of man with a kiss?" (Luke 22:48). It is all a story about betrayal. Well, who is the real betrayer of the Son of God with the kiss of special love? We are. That is the secret. That is what we want to keep buried. It never happened, but the ego told us it happened. And once it told us it happened and we believed it, it made sure that we would never question that belief again. That is what the world is for. The world made us mindless so we could never question the source of the belief.
Then one of the things the ego did in its specialness, very clever and very brilliant, was make a theology that taught the very same thing, but it made the whole thing external. Thus we see the drama of the separation, the betrayal, and the crucifixion of God's Son laid out outside us. Then everyone gets blamed for it and punished. No one has a clue that the external drama is nothing more or less than the projection in form of the original thought that is also made up and is a myth, nothing more than a cosmic myth that appears in many other world religions. But that we betrayed the Son of God we all believe is true. We believe we killed his Father and crucified His Son. And on that slain corpse we erect this "glorious" self. The whole thing is made to conceal the fact that none of it happened. Remember, guilt blinds us to the reality of the Atonement principle that says the separation never happened. Then it blinds us to the seeming reality of guilt by making up a world. That is what this is all about.
(T-13.II.3:3-5) You do not even suspect this murderous but insane idea lies hidden there, for the ego's destructive urge is so intense that nothing short of the crucifixion of God's Son can ultimately satisfy it. It does not know who the Son of God is because it is blind. [It does not know about love; it does not know about the Son of God.] Yet let it perceive guiltlessness anywhere, and it will try to destroy it because it is afraid.
Subsequent to this as we will see, this becomes a reference to Jesus—that he obviously was the epitome and the symbol of the innocence of God's Son, of the Love of God Himself, and so the ego had to destroy him. As it says later, "To the ego, the ego is God, and guiltlessness must be interpreted as the final guilt that fully justifies murder" (T-13.II.6:3). And as we will see in the next paragraph, "To the ego, the guiltless are guilty" (T-13.II.4:2). The ego needs guilt. Without guilt there is no ego. Thus, in the ego's strange religion, guiltlessness is sinful. That is why one cannot imagine the biblical religions without the doctrine of sin. In fact, the Bible basically begins with what is known as original sin. We need sin, and the worst thing that people can be told is that they are sinless. And even if we are sinful and want to become sinless, we have to pay for it, which of course makes sin real, and then makes the God Who demands payment just as insane as those who believe that they have sinned against Him. The whole thing is just one rotten mess. But once it is elevated to the word of God Himself, it can never be questioned, which is what the ego always wants—that we never question the ego itself, that we never question the seeming reality and validity of its thought system. And it all rests on the sacrosanct belief that sin and guilt are real. Without them you do not have an ego system. Without them you do not have an individual existence. Therefore the ego will defend to their death those who say sin is not an illusion, sin is real. The ego wants to make sin real, and only then can one achieve the state of sinlessness, but only by making sin real and paying for it.
That is why Christianity became such a dominant religious, political, and social force in the world—it gave truth to the ego thought system. That is why it is so powerful and attractive to this day. That is why Islam is growing the way it is growing and becoming the world's fastest growing religion—it, too, speaks of a God Who recognizes sin, and recognizes sacrifice as the price that must be paid to go home. It is all insane; all formal religions are insane. To say one is saner or better than any other is the typical arrogance of the ego. They all are born out of the same thought system, and the love that they espouse is special love because it is not all-inclusive. It is always based on there being good guys and bad guys, or guys who will be rewarded and guys who will be punished. There are the heathens, the pagans, and then there are the true believers.
Again, what paragraph 3 is saying is that we do not want to look at the true source of our guilt. This explains why we are so driven to project it out in such a blind way and never see it again—because this is such an awful, awful thought. It is not a thought that we all had once; this is a thought that we continually resurrect and make real, over and over again. We do it every time we hold a judgment, every time we have an idea of specialness. Every time we think that our individual identity is being threatened and has to be preserved. We all have become so damned civilized most of the time that no one knows what is underneath it. What we have gotten very good at is covering over the murderousness that lies within each of us, and that is what this is saying. "You do not even suspect this murderous but insane idea lies hidden there." Nothing short of the crucifixion of God's Son can satisfy the ego, and the way we crucify God's Son is by making him into something he is not. What he truly is, is pure spirit, totally at one with his Creator and Source, this resplendent being of light that has nothing to do with illumination in the physical sense. And we crucify that Self each and every time we glorify individuality, uniqueness, personal autonomy, personal freedom, or specialness. There is not a person in this world who does not do that, Jesus says, which is why this is not a very popular book.
As I have said many, many times, the reason A Course in Miracles seems to be so popular is that no one knows what it says. It is obvious. There are over one and a half million copies out and it has been translated in many, many languages, with more still to come, but most people do not have a clue as to what it says. If they did they would drop it, but they think it says something else. They think it says something nice. This is not nice. It uncovers how un-nice the world is. That is where the Course's "nice-ness" is found—that it uncovers the un-nice. Again, what Jesus does is take the veil away so that we can look inside the cesspool. Only when we look at it without judgment does the cesspool disappear.
Our whole world is built on this cesspool to keep the stench of our hatred and our murderousness hidden. That is why the ego invented perfume and deodorant and all the other things, which does not mean you should not use them. It just means that you should understand what really lies underneath all of this. We do not want to look and smell and see the stench of our self-hatred. But when we do finally uncover it, then we realize that there is nothing there. What keeps the world going is the belief there is something there and it is ugly, it is awful, and it has to be hidden. And what this course is all about is uncovering the cover and looking within. But we are terrified to do so.
That is why we need a relationship with the inner Teacher. That is why we need a Jesus or a Holy Spirit or any other name we will use for that Presence. We cannot do this by ourselves, which means we cannot do it with our ego. We need something outside our insane thought system that can very slowly and gently help us build up the strength and the faith to finally reach the point where we lift up the cover and look inside, and then see there was nothing. The fear is that what we are going to find there is this awful, awful dragon, this awful monster of our self-hatred, guilt, and sin. We must go in there. If we do not, then it stays there and our whole life is driven to never look. When we finally look, then we realize there was nothing there. That is what the line means that I quoted earlier, "Loudly the ego tells you not to look inward, for if you do your eyes will light on sin, and God will strike you blind" (T-21.IV.2:3). What follows that is the statement, "What if you looked within and saw no sin?" (T-21.IV.3:1). That is the ego's real fear, that we uncover the cesspool and realize there is no cesspool; there is no evil stench; there are no rotted corpses. There is nothing. That is what we have to look at.