Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
Jesus’ section title in the manual for teachers—“What Are the Characteristics of God’s Teachers?”—is deceptive, for in his introduction to it (M-4.1:6; 2:2), as well as elsewhere, he makes it clear he is speaking about advanced teachers. Thus the ten characteristics of these advanced ones—trust, honesty, tolerance, gentleness, joy, defenselessness, generosity, patience, faithfulness, and open-mindedness—are the lovely fruits of a process undertaken by teachers of God, the term used in the manual to denote all students of A Course in Miracles. Common to this process is one salient characteristic; indeed, it is the only one Jesus states as a requirement:
A teacher of God is anyone who chooses to be one. His qualifications consist solely in this; somehow, somewhere he has made a deliberate choice in which he did not see his interests as apart from someone else’s. Once he has done that, his road is established and his direction is sure (M-1.1:1-3).
What, then enables them to progress on their journey? The following addresses this issue.
When we left Heaven as one Son, we did so alone, having separated ourselves from the oneness of our Self, at one with our Source. Subsequent attempts at joining through the body, following the ego’s seductions of specialness, have met with frustrated and continual failure, a debilitating experience indeed:
There is nothing so frustrating to a learner as a curriculum he cannot learn. His sense of adequacy suffers, and he must become depressed. Being faced with an impossible learning situation is the most depressing thing in the world. In fact, it is ultimately why the world itself is depressing (T-8.VII.8:1-4).
At some point the pain of separation becomes too great and we cry out: There must be a better way! (T-2.III.3:5-6). The Holy Spirit’s answer reminds us that the solution to all suffering is the aforementioned shift of perception from separate to shared interests. Recognizing our unity of purpose allows us to enter the circle of Atonement, the home of all teachers of God who have recognized the inherent unity of the Sonship—in Heaven and on earth. To be among them, therefore, we must include all people in our forgiveness, otherwise we can never enter. To follow Jesus thus means to stand with him in this circle of peace, for only there can he be found:
I stand within the circle, calling you to peace. Teach peace with me, and stand with me on holy ground. . . . Each one you see you place within the holy circle of Atonement or leave outside, judging him fit for crucifixion or for redemption. . . . Judge not except in quietness which is not of you. Refuse to accept anyone as without the blessing of Atonement, and bring him into it by blessing him. . . . Come gladly to the holy circle, and look out in peace on all who think they are outside. Cast no one out, for here is what he seeks along with you. Come, let us join him in the holy place of peace which is for all of us, united as one within the Cause of peace (T-14.V.8:4-5; 11:1,4-5,7-9).
We stand quietly within this holy circle, silent to our egos, by loving as Jesus loved, setting aside temptations to exclude certain people or groups from this love. The great temptation of the world is to decide there are certain members of the Sonship of God who belong outside the circle of Atonement, or are more special and belong within it—opposite sides of the same error. Forgiveness undoes this temptation, not only bringing others to the silent circle, but ourselves as well. Thus we make our way along the road that leads us home to love.
Having experienced the love of God through forgiveness, we step back to the world and bring the same message to all those we meet, for thus we strengthen it in ourselves:
Yet this a vision is which you must share with everyone you see, for otherwise you will behold it not. To give this gift is how to make it yours (T-31.VIII.8:5-6).
Bringing this love to others, who could not but be filled with joy through this gift, which we receive as we extend it? If others reject the gift, or circumstances seem to move against this love, we teachers of God wait patiently, assured of the successful completion of our function. Out of this patience, there is no need to impose our will on others. This frees us to treat them with tolerance and consistent
gentleness, always generous with the gift that is not ours but God’s, regardless of the response of others. Our patience with our brothers and sisters is born of our faithfulness, trusting that God’s Will is done on earth as in Heaven. As we continue on the path Jesus has set before us, we remain constantly vigilant of our ego’s desires, defenseless with our personal self, as our minds remain open to the impersonal Self of Christ that lights our way home.
In a world that has forgotten him, Jesus needs us to be his teachers. To tired eyes grown weary of darkness, he asks us to bring his light, offering a vision of peace, joy, and happiness in place of the pains and sorrows inherent in the world of fear. He asks us to let him be visible in us, drawing others to himself as he draws us all to God. In this sense, as Jesus says in A Course in Miracles: “I need you as much as you need me” (T‑8.V.6:10). He needs our eyes to see the suffering in the world and yet see the light shining beyond it; he needs our ears to hear the calls for help of people frightened into responses of attack and violence; he needs our arms and feet to bring his hope and comfort to those who have forgotten him; he needs our voice to speak his message of salvation that all our sins have been forgiven. Most of all, he needs our willingness to become his messengers of love. As he brought God’s forgiving word into the world, so are we to bring that same word to our world. Jesus asks only that we make his purpose our own, and in the union of our will with his, help unite the world in salvation’s single purpose: the forgiveness of our sin—the decision to remain separate from the Love that created us and that we are.
Through the unified perception of all people as children of God, we extend the love and oneness we have experienced, thereby strengthening it in ourselves and in the Sonship. Filled with Jesus’ peace, we bring it to all who are without it. The Course’s answer to suffering—accepting the Atonement for ourself— is a simple one. Since we are not the healers of the world, the arbiters of divine justice, the correctors of mistakes, our only responsibility is to be as free as possible within ourselves to allow the One Who is the Healer to work through us. To believe that any of us knows what is best for the world, let alone for ourselves, would be the height of arrogance. Jesus asks only that we let him be himself in us, that he may bring himself to others through us. Our responsibility is simple:
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false (T-16.IV.6:1-2).
Unless we see ourselves as part of the same process of healing and correction we are trying to bring about, we but reinforce our belief in separation from God and from the Sonship. As A Course in Miracles says in this important statement: “To perceive the healing of your brother as the healing of yourself is thus the way to remember God” (T-12.II.2:9). There is no other way. The problem of the separation cannot be undone through a process that reinforces the separation itself. To keep one person outside the circle of healing is to exclude the rest; for that one becomes the projection of one’s guilt over the separation, and symbolizes the end of God’s perfect creation.
Our one function, therefore, is to undo the guilt that prevents us from being God’s messengers on earth. Whatever our worldly roles, their focus is not only the benefit they bring to others, but the benefit they bring to us. Our lives are the classrooms in which we learn our own lessons of forgiveness in the face of temptations to see people as other than companions on the same journey.
In conclusion, our task is not to teach others, nor to give a wisdom or spirituality that they lack, but to remind them of the truth that is already within them, and therefore a truth they can choose, reversing their prior mistaken decision of preferring the ego’s illusions to the Holy Spirit’s truth. When we complete His lessons we become advanced teachers of God, Whose Love and peace emanate from our very presence, as they did through Jesus. These advanced teachers of God thus serve as the perfect reminders to others that they, too, can choose again: peace instead of conflict, love instead of fear, the Holy Spirit instead of the ego. Experiences of pain are recognized, therefore, as coming from the decision-making mind, not the body. By their symbolizing the mind’s correct choice, these holy teachers of God call to the minds of those in pain to choose against their misery, and to choose happiness and peace instead. Theirs, then, is the silence of the innocent mind that by its very presence stills the ego’s raucous shrieking of guilt, recalling to us Shakespeare’s wonderful description in “The Winter’s Tale”.
The silence often of pure innocence
Persuades, when speaking fails. (II,ii)
Therefore, it is the still, silent Voice of truth, speaking through the teacher of God’s silence, that truly heals. Writing of the Sons of God who witness to this truth, Jesus states:
The witnesses for God stand in His light and behold what He created. Their silence is the sign that they have beheld God’s Son, and in the Presence of Christ they need demonstrate nothing, for Christ speaks to them of Himself and of His Father. They are silent because Christ speaks to them, and it is His words they speak (T-11.V.17:6-8).
The advanced teachers of God speak volumes, but always in silence, because it is Christ’s Voice to which they have listened, and it is Christ’s Voice through which they speak. And in that single Voice of Love and truth is the Sonship healed as one, now seen in Christ’s unified and unifying vision.
1. Portions taken and adapted from my books Forgiveness and Jesus: The Meeting Place of A Course in Miracles and Christianity, and The Message of A Course in Miracles: Volume I, All Are Called.