The Home of Guilt
Excerpts from the Workshop held at the
Foundation for A Course in Miracles
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
"The Cloud of Guilt" (T-13.IX) (cont.)
We skip to paragraph 5.
(T-13.IX.5:1) Lay not his guilt upon him [your brother's guilt upon him], for his guilt lies in his secret thought that he had done this unto you.
Everyone walks around this world burdened with guilt, so by attacking others you are telling them they are right—that this is a place of attack and defense, of guilt and attack. When we attack others, criticize them, reinforce their guilt, or make them fearful, we are telling them the ego thought system is alive and well in them and in us, which implicitly means there is nothing else. As Jesus explains in a couple of places early in the text, we cannot make others guilty because that is their decision; but we can reinforce the decision others have made. That is what he is talking about here. We are not responsible for other people's egos or what their egos do, but we certainly are responsible for strengthening our own egos.
When I withdraw my investment in the ego, I am then giving you a message that says I made the choice for the Holy Spirit, and you can make the same choice. I do not say that in words, but the peace within me will somehow get through to you, and that peace speaks volumes. It says there is another choice you could make. When I attack you and join you on the dance floor of death, however, I am saying we are both insane, and we are both condemned to die. The only question is who will be seen as the victim? And each of us of course is going to try to be seen as the victim. We all feel justified in doing what we do.
(T-13.IX.5:2-4) Would you, then, teach him he is right in his delusion? The idea that the guiltless Son of God can attack himself and make himself guilty is insane. In any form, in anyone, believe this not.
What underlies this whole discussion is Jesus saying to us that we have another choice: "You have chosen insanity, and let me show you, as I am doing now, how insane this thought system is. Is this really what you want? And can you possibly pretend this is the Will of God? Let me show you that all of this is a defense against the truth in you, and the way I will begin to show you this is to help you learn how to look at this other person differently." That is what the central thrust of the Course ends up being: to help us look at relationships in a different way.
(T-13.IX.5:5-6) For sin and condemnation are the same, and the belief in one is faith in the other, calling for punishment instead of love. Nothing can justify insanity, and to call for punishment upon yourself must be insane.
Jesus is basically saying the same thing over and over again. The reason sin and condemnation are the same is that first, sin by its very nature is a condemnation of the Son of God and of God. Sin says that we can destroy God's unity and wholeness, and that we can crucify His Son. Second, sin and condemnation wind up being the same because once we believe in sin, our guilt will demand that we project it out and condemn others.
As I was saying earlier, the whole thought system of the ego is one piece. If you believe one piece of it you must believe all of it. All of the pieces logically follow one from the other.
(T-13.IX.6:1) See no one, then, as guilty, and you will affirm the truth of guiltlessness unto yourself.
The way that I see you shows me the way I see myself. We do not understand this—no one in this world understands this. We cannot understand it until we are able to say there is something radically wrong with how we are perceiving and have always perceived all of our relationships—from the time we were little children up to now. In all of these we are miserable, and we always blame the other person. And so in desperation we say there must be another way. The other way is to look at the relationship not as a prison house from which neither party will emerge or a battleground in which both parties will end up dead, but rather as a classroom. We now have a new teacher with a new pair of eyes who asks us to let him help us see that what we are perceiving and making real in the other person is a projection of what we have first chosen and made real in ourselves. That shifts the whole thing around. Now instead of being a dance of death, the relationship becomes a classroom of learning, and we now have a teacher, Jesus, who shows us that the way we are perceiving the other person is really a misperception, despite what that person has done. This has nothing to do with the other's behavior; it has to do with our response to what was done. Our response is never caused by what others do. Our response to what others do is always caused by the decision we make in our mind, and that is what we have to be taught.
That is what Jesus tells us in the Course. He is saying, "I cannot teach you the meaning of love because there is no way you can understand it. Besides, it cannot be understood; it can only be experienced. But I can teach you how to forgive, and what that means is that I can teach you how to undo what your ego has made real: first, the guilt in yourself, and then the sin and guilt you have made real in another person." That we can be taught, but it requires a lot of willingness on our part. Jesus says "a little willingness" most of the time, but as you begin doing this, you realize that to do this right requires a commitment, a commitment to practice this as often as you can day in and day out.
That is what Jesus is saying in the sentence, "See no one, then, as guilty, and you will affirm the truth of guiltlessness unto yourself." Thus, I first make you guilty; I get sick and tired of what I am doing to you; and then I ask for help. Then Jesus says to look at this person, hear yourself condemn him, and then use those same words with yourself because that is what you are really doing. That is what the lines in the workbook mean that say that before you are tempted to accuse anyone of anything, first stop and ask yourself whether you would accuse yourself of doing this (W-pI.134.9). It is not always in the same form, but the content would always be the same.
(T-13.IX.6:2) In every condemnation that you offer the Son of God lies the conviction of your own guilt.
Jesus is trying to have us recognize that each and every time we make a judgment of someone, we are going to suffer for it. That is not how the world thinks and not how we usually operate. Every time we condemn someone—even mildly condemn a person or do it with ferocity—what we are really doing is sealing our own fate. We are saying I am the guilty one; I am trapping myself and trying to entrap you on this dance floor of death. The only thing that is still up for grabs is who will be the victim. If each of us is desperately trying to be the victim, then both of us believe we are the victim.
Jesus is trying to train us to realize that each and every time we have a harsh thought or word about someone, this is not hurting that person but is hurting us: I am going to suffer because of my criticism. I am going to suffer because of my specialness. I am going to suffer because of my judgment. And why do I want to continually do that? So he is pleading on behalf of our self-interest that we will feel better if we can begin to see the effects of what we are doing, because it is seeing the effects of our doing that will motivate us finally to let it go.
(T-13.IX.6:3-4) If you would have the Holy Spirit make you free of it [your guilt], accept His offer of Atonement for all your brothers. For so you learn that it is true for you.
Of course the key word there is "all." You cannot forgive some parts of the Sonship and not all of them. That is why separation and special relationships are so insidious. They always set up—and set off—certain parts of the Sonship. We are not talking about form; we are talking about content. We cannot be with everyone in the same way on the level of form, but on the level of content we do not have to exclude anyone from our love. That love will be expressed in many different ways, depending on the nature of the relationship, but the content will still be the same.
If people took this to heart we could not have a world the way it is now; we could not have a world of alliances. Indeed, we could not have a world of separate countries and separate interests because nationalism breeds special interests. It is all about my country. I have to protect my country. Now that makes perfectly good sense historically, but remember the whole course of history is insane. It is all about justifying and reinforcing a thought system of separation and exclusion. Remember how the separation began: we excluded God. So why should it come as a surprise that ever since that moment we have excluded everyone except those people who strengthen our position? So whether you are among people in an office ganging up on some other person or groups of persons, or you are a head of state joining with certain allies and ganging up against other countries, you are always involved in the same thing. There are "good" people in the family and "bad" people in the family, and each of them talks about the other group. This is always the case. There is always a sense of exclusion, but this does not mean form. It does not mean that you have to be with everyone all the time, or that everyone in an office or your family has to be your best and closest friend. What you guard against, what you are vigilant for, is your attempt to exclude them—the thoughts of exclusion, the thoughts of specialness, the thoughts of attack, the thoughts of finding fault. That is what you look at.
(T-13.IX.6:5) Remember always that it is impossible to condemn the Son of God in part.
This principle is very, very difficult. It is not meant to make us feel guilty because we condemn some people. It is meant to help us see what we do. If we do not see it, it is because we do not want to see it, which means the guilt is blinding us to what we are doing. It is much better to say: Of course I do not want to be with everyone. Of course I do not want to like everyone. Of course I love to hate certain people or certain groups. If you could look at that in yourself without judging yourself, then you will have taken a big, big step.
One very good operational definition of forgiveness is that to forgive is to look at yourself without judgment. If you look at yourself without judgment, you must look at others without judgment, too, because you first look within and then you look without. Projection makes perception. You first look within, choose the ego or the Holy Spirit, innocence or guilt, and then you project out the thought that you have identified with. This is not saying that you have to be perfect and loving and kind to everyone. Just do not justify it when you are not, that is all. Be aware where it is coming from. The more you can see where it is coming from, the more nauseated it will make you, until finally you get so sick of running to the bathroom that you will say there must be another way.
(T-13.IX.6:6-7) Those whom you see as guilty become the witnesses to guilt in you, and you will see it there, for it is there until it is undone. Guilt is always in your mind, which has condemned itself.
That is a wonderful line. Guilt is not outside. There are not guilty bastards out there. The evildoers are not out there. The evildoer is in yourself. Guilt is only in your mind, and one very helpful way of remembering that is to remember the ultimate underlying metaphysics of the Course—that there is no one out there. There is no world. There is no body. It is all a projection of thoughts in the mind. So how could there be guilt out there? How could there be an enemy out there? There could only be an enemy out there if I put the enemy there. Everyone knows the famous line out of Pogo, "We have met the enemy and it is us." It is a very astute line.
Just imagine the implications if people really believed that, not only on the world scene, but in their personal lives. Be aware of just how quickly we leap to judgment. It is habitual, as if built into our genes, and in fact it is. It is the gene of guilt. That is the building block of the universe. It is not love; it is not innocence. It is guilt. Therefore, the idea is not to feel guilty over being guilty and judgmental all the time, but to look at it and say this is what I have done. I now understand what I do, why I have done it, and that there is a part of me at least that does not want to do it anymore. That is a big, big step.
(T-13.IX.6:7-8) Guilt is always in your mind [again], which has condemned itself. Project it not, for while you do, it cannot be undone.
That is a very, very important line. As long as you project guilt and see the problem outside you, the guilt will never be undone in your own mind, which is why there has never been world peace and there never will be, unless people start looking within. We are not going to have world peace until we start having peace inside.
Jung and Freud, who did not agree on very many things, did agree on this point and both said the same thing over and over again. They were both very much involved with what was going on in the world, and both of them lived through World War I. Freud died in 1939, but he saw the seeds of Naziism. In fact, he had to flee Vienna. Jung of course lived through it. They were wise people and both wrote over and over again that there would never be any change in the world unless the change first began with individuals. They both saw the horrors of what was happening. The First World War was probably the most devastating thing that happened because it shattered all the illusions. World War II was awful, and what is happening now is awful, but World War I shattered all the illusions anyone ever had. It was a cruel, cruel war that shattered all the illusions everyone had about there ever being peace. What both men wrote very clearly, and obviously they were not the only ones to say it, is that nothing will ever change unless people individually change their minds.
Jung and Freud saw psychoanalysis as one of the major ways of ridding people of their guilt and their hatred of their shadow. The world cannot be changed unless people first change their own minds. That is what is so important. You must first look within and realize how you keep on projecting, and understand why you do it. You do it not because you are bad; you do it not because you are a poor Course in Miracles student. You do it because you are terrified of the love that lies behind the guilt, because in that love, guess what? You are not there. So to keep you there, you must keep guilt there. And to avoid the pain of guilt, at least consciously, or the effects of it, what you do is project it out. That is how the world grows, and that is why these lines are here.
(T-13.IX.6:8) With everyone whom you release from guilt great is the joy in Heaven, where the witnesses to your fatherhood rejoice.
Obviously this is a metaphor. The witnesses to our fatherhood are what the Course refers to as our creations (T-13.VIII.9:1). And basically what you get here and in other places is kind of a cute symbol of these furry, warm, cutesy little things to cheer us on, and go yea, yea! But basically what is in back of it is the idea that each and every time we let go of guilt we come closer in ourselves to accepting the light of Heaven.