Summary of the Thought System of A Course in Miracles
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
Part 1 of 2
This Excerpt was taken from the book entitled A Symphony of Love: Selections of Dr. Kenneth Wapnick’s Writings, which is available from our Online Store by clicking here.
A Course in Miracles is a course in correction for the errors we thought we made. We say errors, yet there is in truth only one; the belief we are separated from God, from each other and from our Self. This belief is called the ego, which denies the fact that God has but one Son, the Christ Whom He created as Himself.
From this one basic error arose the world we see and experience, which witnesses to the seeming truth of this illusion. All that has been seen since are the ego’s attempts to imprison us in this world of unreality. Fear, anger, guilt, sickness, pleasure, pain, and death are the many forms the ego has used for this purpose. But they are all the same. In truth, as the Course states, we have but two emotions: love and fear. Love is the gift of God, given us in our creation as our changeless reality; fear is what we have made as a substitute for this gift. Of the two, but one is real, and it remains for us to choose which is to be our reality. Free will, the Course emphasizes, does not mean we can change reality; but it does mean we are free to choose in which reality we are to believe. Love or fear; truth or illusion; holiness or guilt; God or the ego—the choice is ours. Yet our true Identity in God remains unaffected by this decision.
The decision—which reflects our last remaining freedom as prisoner of this world (T-12.VII.9:1)—determines the world we see, and the world in which we think we live. “Projection makes perception” (T-21.in.1:1). We look inside first, decide the world in which we believe, and then project this outside, believing this world to have reality outside ourselves.
If, therefore, we choose the ego as our identity, the illusory self which seems to be separated from God, we will look out upon a separated world, calling forth the witnesses which would corroborate or confirm the reality we have already determined to be our own. The witnesses the ego seeks as proof of its existence are sin, evil, pain, guilt, sickness, and death. It is impossible to decide for the ego and not see a world in which these appear as facts. Our very decision determines what we would see. And since it is the integral part of the ego’s plan that we “forget” or deny that we have projected this onto the world, it seems as if the world we perceive is the world that is. Perception, as the Course frequently reminds us, is an interpretation, not a fact. It is our interpretation of what our eyes tell us that leads us to believe the perception is real, not the perceptual object itself. True vision has nothing at all to do with the body’s eyes.
The ego’s most powerful ally in its war against God and against our Self—a war of which God is totally unaware—is the special relationship, which denies our need for God by affirming our special needs for special people. The special relationship reflects the belief in the reality of our separation from God in this seeming separation from our brothers. The belief rests upon the assumption that there is something lacking in us, some need we believe we have, which in turn demands that this emptiness be filled and this need be met. It is to perpetuate this basic error that the ego is driven, and it continually strives to maintain the illusion that our guilt is real, and that what we believed we did to God not only occurred, but justifies our fear of His vengeance and retaliation.
The special relationship is the home of guilt, for by projecting our guilt outside ourselves, onto the object of our specialness, it seeks to cover our more basic guilt over the separation from God. In the special hate relationship, one of the forms the special relationship takes, it is expressed this way: “It is not I who am guilty, but you have done a terrible thing and should feel guilty.” Thus anger becomes justified and our own guilt denied and therefore protected from correction.
In the special love relationship, the hate is veiled behind the illusion of love, which seeks to deny the underlying attack on the other’s Identity and thus have us “escape” from the experience of guilt the ego teaches would destroy us. The special love relationship is this world’s definition of love, which teaches exclusion as “safeguard” to the relationship. This is based on the idea that when love is shared it is diminished, and so one’s gain is another’s loss. Love and union are therefore replaced by jealousy, possessiveness, dependence, and separation, and the oneness of the Sonship is denied.
Despite the ego’s attempts to remove the guilt, however, the problem is merely intensified as we continue to attack our brothers. This but strengthens our guilt, for somewhere inside us we know we have attacked falsely. Thus the special relationship continually reinforces the attack–guilt cycle, to which the ego is always attracted so that it may protect the illusion of the separation and the reality of our sin, preventing it from ever being examined openly, its darkness exposed to the light of truth so that it can be dispelled. To reinforce this defense the ego embarks ceaselessly on a series of special relationships whose goal is to justify and protect the projection. The forms of this continually change, yet its content remains the same, its meaning being always to attack us.
We are free, however, to make another choice, what is sometimes referred to as “the choice for completion.” We can choose to identify with our true Self, which has no lack. This is the Christ in us Who has never left His Father, and Who forever abides in His peace and in His Love. If this is the reality we choose to see, then it is this love and peace we will seek to extend. And it is love’s witnesses we will call to witness to ourselves, the witnesses of peace, love, joy, forgiveness, and innocence.