Volume 6 Number 3 September 1995
The Lessons of the Holy Spirit - Part 1
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
Another aspect of the ego's dream is the scarcity principle "that governs the whole world of illusions" (preface, xi). This is the belief that there is something lacking or missing in us, and A Course in Miracles refers to the individual expressions of this principle as the need for special relationships. The ego thought system teaches that we are bodies, and that we lack what is essential to our survival. Therefore we must seek outside ourselves to compensate for the lack we perceive to be within. We can observe this disturbing dynamic at work on both the gross physical level of our existence, as well as the psychological.
It is impossible for any "living thing" in the physical universe to exist unless it takes in nurturing and nourishment from without, to fill up the perceived lack of sustenance from within. And because of the scarcity principle that is the law of the ego's world, one can never get enough of what one needs. On the level of our psychological need to survive, which is the primary Course focus of special relationships, the dynamic of to have, take all from all works in this way: I believe that there is a lack in me that God cannot fill, a need He cannot meet, but that a certain special person, who possesses certain special characteristics, can. And by "uniting" with this person I am able to take what I need, leaving the "other" without it. This is summarized in the important section on "The Laws of Chaos":
The ego values only what it takes. This leads to the fourth law of chaos. … the belief you have what you have taken. By this, another's loss becomes your gain … (T-23.II.9:1-4).
A corollary must follow here, because within my ego's system of specialness I can never believe that this other person will truly give me what I want, unless I pay for it. After all, I have what I have because I stole it, and therefore stealing is the law of the ego's kingdom. I must inevitably believe that my special love or hate partner must steal as well. The following passage sets this dynamic in its proper ontological framework:
Being the part of your mind that does not believe it is responsible for itself, and being without allegiance to God, the ego is incapable of trust. Projecting its insane belief that you have been treacherous to your Creator, it believes that your brothers, who are as incapable of this as you are, are out to take God from you. Whenever a brother attacks another, that is what he believes. Projection always sees your wishes in others. If you choose to separate yourself from God, that is what you will think others are doing to you (T-7.VII.9).
Believing now that you are my enemy, I can only get what I need and want by invoking the ego's sub-law of “giving to get" (T-4.II.6:5). If I am to achieve my goal of need-satisfaction so that I can survive, I must give you something in return. This of course is the ego's bargaining, which is the primary characteristic of its thought system of specialness. And if I play my ego's cards right, I shall give you as little as possible and get as much as I can for it. Space limitations prevent us from delving even further into this ego morass of hatred, duplicity, and thievery, but suffice it to say that not one form of "life" within the world's dream escapes this dynamic of specialness and the ego's first law of taking in order to have. The forms in which this law is expressed are irrelevant, because its underlying content of stealing remains, exemplifying the ego's belief that separate interests is salvation.
We turn now to the Holy Spirit's Correction for the dream's all-pervasive principle: To have, take all from all. Thus, the Holy Spirit begins with the lesson: To have, give all to all. Again we must recall that this correction applies only at the thought level (mind), the source of the problem, and has nothing at all to do with the behavioral level (body), which is the ego's attempt to keep the problem from the Answer.
Whereas the ego's lesson reinforces the thought system of separation, seeing the meaning of others merely in their capacity to meet our own needs, the Holy Spirit teaches that the way to remember our Oneness as Christ in Heaven is by reflecting that unity here in our everyday lives and relationships: "To perceive the healing of your brother as the healing of yourself is thus the way to remember God" (T-12.II.2:9). We reflect this by not seeing our interests as separate from anyone else's (M-1.1:2). This requires that we give up being the author of our thoughts, and allow the Holy Spirit's Correction of forgiveness to replace the ego's selfishness and greed. This important shift can be witnessed to from various lines in A Course in Miracles such as:
Salvation is a collaborative venture (T-4.VI.8:2).
And you and he will raise your eyes in faith together, or not at all (T-19.IV-D.12:8).
The ark of peace is entered two by two … (T-20.IV.6:5).
A right-minded approach the Course urges us to adopt is that of viewing our lives as classrooms in which Jesus or the Holy Spirit teach us that just as we are all united as one Son in Heaven, where having and being are the same, so are we united on earth in our joint need to awaken from the ego's nightmare dream of separation.
At this juncture, an important question emerges: How can we live in the ego's dreamworld with separation and scarcity as our primary experiences, and yet be able to learn the Holy Spirit's lesson of not having separate interests? The answer lies in learning to accept a mode of being in the world that reflects the mindset of His first lesson: To have, give all to all. As Jesus states in the Course, this first lesson is the hardest, because it is the reversal of the whole ego thought system that operates in the world. There is no way that any wrong-minded ego could possibly understand how this lesson can be started, practiced, or achieved. Yet we are reminded in A Course in Miracles that "to the Holy Spirit, there is no order of difficulty in miracles" (T-6.V-A.4:1), since all problems are manifestations of the one problem, which is the belief in separation, or our having separate interests.
As we "step back and let Him lead the way" (W-pI.155), we will begin to realize that we are being thunk. This passive and made-up construction of the verb "to think" means that we are not the origin of our thinking, and that the Holy Spirit's thoughts of Correction are coming through us. And as we practice accepting these Correction thoughts, our primary responsibility becomes monitoring our minds to discern when we decide to switch to the wrong mind again and listen to the deceptions of the ego. That is why we do not have to figure out how this seemingly impossible reversal will occur. It is beyond our capacity to understand, let alone accomplish. As Jesus teaches:
All that is asked of you is to make room for truth. You are not asked to make or do what lies beyond your understanding. All you are asked to do is let it in; only to stop your interference with what will happen of itself … (T-21.II.7:6-8).
Therefore, it is only by a shift in thinking, reflecting the choice to let Jesus or the Holy Spirit be our Teacher instead of the ego, that we can begin the process of finding a meaningful purpose in our insane world of dreams. And so when we judge, criticize, or find fault with anyone, when we feel ourselves to be unfairly treated, wherein our pain or discomfort is seen as the effect of someone else's attack, we need to remind ourselves that to attack or blame another is to attack or blame ourselves. Once again, the Sonship of God is one—in Heaven and on earth—and so what we make real in others is what we believe to be the truth about ourselves. Excluding them from the Kingdom is to exclude ourselves, since we are not separate.
Most importantly, not only are we not asked to do this alone, we are told very directly that we cannot do it alone at all. Rather, as students of A Course in Miracles, we are asked only to have the little willingness to be taught that of ourselves we know nothing, and therefore we are wrong about everything we believe and every value we hold. Above all, therefore, we have to realize that gaining at someone else's expense will never bring us peace or happiness. "There are no triumphs of love" (T-16.IV.5:1), Jesus teaches us, and so any benefit to us that is paid for by another, over whom we have triumphed in the game of specialness, is ultimately worthless to us. Happily therefore, we tell Jesus at last that we are grateful he was right and we were wrong. Taking his hand now instead of the ego's, our journey home has begun, and we are filled with the confidence of these thoughts from the text:
Having taken the first step … they will be helped. Once they have chosen what they cannot complete alone, they are no longer alone (T-6.V-A.6:8-9).