Excerpts from the Workshop held at the
Foundation for A Course in Miracles
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
Q: I feel as if I connect with what you are saying and agree with it, but I don't like it. . . . What is keeping me from just getting on with opening my eyes? If we all feel that way, why are we here?
K: It is because there is a part of us that likes being the figure in the dream, for the same reason that we believe we left Heaven at the beginning: we wanted to be on our own. There is a wonderful line in the text in Chapter 13, which means it comes before the discussion of special relationships that does not start until Chapter 15. The word special is used. Jesus says:
"You were at peace until you asked for special favor. And God did not give it for the request was alien to Him, and you could not ask this of a Father Who truly loved His Son. Therefore you made of Him an unloving father, demanding of Him what only such a father could give" (T-13.III.10:2-4).
The special favor we demanded of God was that He pay attention to us, that He notice us. I am an individual! I am a person! I am an entity! Pay attention to me! And God just looked right through, because there was nothing there to see. Now all of this is mythological. It does not mean it happened that way, but that is the content of our wanting to be separate. We wanted to be individuals. We wanted to be unique. We wanted to be special, which is impossible in Heaven. Perfect oneness, totality, and wholeness cannot have differentiation. One of the ways of describing Christ is that He is undivided, undifferentiated Oneness. There is no distinctiveness in Heaven.
Well, that is what we like. So here we are as distinct, special, unique, differentiated individuals studying a course that teaches us all this is made up and we are really part of perfect Oneness. And we say, as we used to say in the sixties [1960s]: "Hell no, I won't go! I want a Heaven that notices me! Remember, God? That is what got me into trouble in the first place. I am going to do it all over again. I want special favor. I want to be noticed!" And Jesus says, "Sorry, guy. God cannot notice you because there is no 'you' to notice." So we say: "All right, to hell with you, Jesus. I am going to make up another Jesus. I am going to make up a Jesus who tells me that every hair on my head is counted. I am going to make up a Jesus that tells me God loves me more than the lilies of the field. I am going to make up a God Who created me. I am going to make up a God Who gets furious at me, which means there is a me. I am going to get a God Who feels merciful. On alternate Tuesdays, He is merciful, and then He forgives me. Watch out for Thursdays. That is when He destroys you. But that is a God Who at least notices me."
So we like that Jesus; we like that God. That is what we do. We bring Jesus and God into the dream so They become woven into the dream. In The Ending of the Dream that I have been reading from Jesus says, "I am not a dream that comes in mockery" (The Gifts of God, p.121). Now what is he saying? He is saying he is not the biblical Jesus we thought of, who is part of our dream, who mocks his reality as Christ, as spirit. "I am not a dream that comes in mockery." I am not part of your dream—don't make me part of your dream. That is what people do with this course. They make Jesus part of the dream. Why? Because they want to be noticed. They want a Jesus who notices them. They like the idea of a God Who weeps over them, even though that obviously is symbolic and is not to be taken literally. They like a God Who misses them, Who is lonely without them. They like a Jesus who is a loving, older brother who is always there for them day in and day out, and continually infantilizes them so they never grow up, even though he tells them he wants them to become like him. We are all terrified of leaving the dream. We are terrified of ceasing to be who we are.
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Q: I do not feel terrified. So why am I still here?
K: If you think you are still here, there must be an unconscious part of you that likes being you. This may not be a bad thing—you are a lovely person, I'm sure. But you are still a person, and we like to be persons. That is the bottom line, I'm afraid. But again, we do not have to leap from separation into oneness. We do not have to leap from personhood into Christ. The happy dream consists of the little steps we take in recognizing we are all the same. Everyone in this room has the same right mind, the same wrong mind, and the same decision maker. Everyone on this planet, everyone in the universe, everything in the universe has a right mind, a wrong mind, and a decision maker. By learning that, we begin to become less frightened and less identified with our individual uniqueness. If we are all alike, no one is special. That is a thought we can at least begin to identify with, or at least think about.
It is still a little frightening because we really do not want to let go of our judgments quite yet, but at least we can begin to see we do not have to leap into Heaven. We can have a reflection of Heaven here, which is the happy dream, by realizing no one here is distinctive or special, despite the outward appearances, because we all have the same mind. "All my brothers are special," Jesus says (T-1.V.3:6). All God's Sons are special, which means the word "special" loses its meaning.
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Q: You said not to bring Jesus into the dream. There is a lesson in the Course that says I do not know what is in my best interest (W-pI.24). So I always thought I don't know what is best for me, like where to live or what job is best for me. I always thought that I was taught that it is okay to ask if I do not know what is in my best interest.
K: Yes, it is okay to ask. There is nothing wrong in asking. In The Song of Prayer pamphlet in the section called "The Ladder of Prayer" (S-1.II), asking for specifics is said to be the bottom rung of the ladder. There is nothing wrong with that, because at least we are on the right ladder with the right teacher. But if that is all we ever do, we end up only on the first or the second rung, and the whole point of what Jesus is saying is that we do not want the specific parts of the song. We do not want the echoes, the overtones, or the harmonics; we want the whole song. We do not want to ascend just one or two rungs. We want to go to the very top. But if we keep demanding that we have specific needs and that we want the Holy Spirit or Jesus to meet those specific needs, we are only going to stay at the bottom rung of the ladder, never learning that the real best interest we do not know we have is choosing the Holy Spirit, ultimately to be led to the top.
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Q: I have seen through this session this temptation of wanting to tinker with the form in me. The miracle looks at content and does not look at the form. Would you say that all you have to do is look with Jesus and say the content isn't true? The form can go on being the form and may never change . . . I recognize a thought as something that will get me into trouble and then I start to tinker with the thought, rather than say the content isn't true.
K: Right. Don't tinker with the thought, just tickle it. So instead of tinker, tickle—two-syllable words that start with "t." Tickling the thought is remembering to laugh at it. Tinkering with it is saying it is serious and we have to do something about it, at which point nothing we do will work.
In other words, what a lot of people have done with this course is simply substitute the ego for the devil and say the ego is bad: "That's the ego! Watch the ego!" This makes it into a big deal. So tickle therapy is very good. Remember, what the ego wants more than anything else is to be taken seriously.. . . . . . .
I want to go back to The Gifts of God at the end of the section we have been discussing. I will read the last two paragraphs of "The Ending of the Dream," page 122. The whole section is really wonderful, but the end of it is particularly beautiful and is a wonderful way of summarizing everything we have been discussing about moving from the world's dream to the first dream and looking at it with Jesus, which then turns it into a happy dream, and then moving beyond the dream entirely when we return home to the God we never left:
"There is a silence covering the world that was an ancient dream so long ago no one remembers now. Its time is done, and in the little space it seemed to own is nothingness. The dream has gone, and all its dreams of gifts have disappeared as well. The first dream has been seen and understood for merely an illusion of the fear on which the world was based. Beyond the dream, reaching to everything, embracing all, creation and Creator still remain in perfect harmony and perfect love. This is beyond the gate at which we stand. And shall we stay to wait upon a dream?
Your holiness is mine, and mine is God's. Here is His gift, complete and undefiled. It is Himself He gives, and it is this that is the truth in you. How beautiful are you who stand beside me at the gate, and call with me that everyone may come and step aside from time. Put out your hand to touch eternity and disappear into its perfect rest. Here is the peace that God intended for the Son He loves. Enter with me and let its quietness cover the earth forever. It is done. Father, your Voice has called us home at last: Gone is the dream. Awake, My child, in love."