Category Archives: Out of the Maze

Acting “As If”

            Is it not true that a child learns best when one expects good in her?  Act “as if” a child will respond positively, treat her as you would want a good child to be treated, and the tantrums will fade away.  On the other hand, to focus on the tantrums is to make them stronger.  It is the same with our brother.  Expect the best, let him know that you are seeing the best, and his motivation will fall in line, making our brother a better person.  We must never show that we fear negatives from him; that would be a reinforcement of the possibility of those negatives.  Instead, accentuate the positive in all prayers and all interactions.  Let him know that we love the real Self, and that real Self will blossom before our eyes.  It is indeed very dangerous to act in any other way.  We are all potentially capable of great wrong, and it behooves to turn aside this potentiality, in ourselves and in our brothers, at every opportunity.

            Given this scenario, if we play our part right, our brother will cease so much to see “sin” in himself, and he will adopt our own attitude toward him.  He will begin to act out of the real Self, which is good, because his self-image has changed for the better.  And is this not what we would hope for all people?

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

Forgive by Overlooking “Faults” in Our Brothers & Sisters

            Our brother sees “sin” in himself.  If we see sin in him also, we but reinforce an untruth, not only in him but in ourselves.  Surely it is that we see in others what we have first seen in ourselves; that is the law of projection, and, if we can believe the A Course in Miracles, projection makes perception.

            Does that mean we must deny the evidence of our eyes, and proclaim good where there seems to be only wrong?  No!  That would be a further deception, and it is the truth that we seek. We must acknowledge the wrong that we see, but recognize that, like all sights our physical eyes show us, we are seeing something unreal–a dream, if you will.  However badly our brother seems to treat us, this still is true.  It is our dream, showing us something that we don’t want to see, but only so that we can learn from it.  We are bade not to dwell on this unreality, thereby making it seem real to us, and making it harder simply to overlook and thereby forgive. (T-9.IV.4:4-5)

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

Walking a Mysterious Pathway

            Given the fact that the A Course in Miracles links the idea of our unique role with our brother, more often than not we will find that unique role in one or more brothers.  And we must realize that we may not always recognize our function even if we are in the midst of carrying it out. 

In my own case, this phenomenon kept me on a particular pathway for years, but I was a reluctant walker. Only in retrospect did the pathway seem illuminated, the walk make sense.  Yet I never seriously considered abandoning my pathway; whenever the thought came up, I was given a self-authenticating word from God that I was to remain true to what I had perceived His Will to be.  And I yet do not know the whole of it, though I followed that particular pathway to its conclusion and found a blessing, in unexpected form, at the journey’s end.  It is very likely that I will not fully understand in this lifetime, but as I review my life eventually from the other side, I will know.  For now, I know all I need to know of a journey that seemed incomprehensible much of the time.       

            And is my experience not true for most of us?  We see only dimly, but when we take our brother’s hand, we fulfill a function that is bigger than the two of us.  It is always by way of our brother that the mission comes.  One does not do “great things” in the world without the cooperation of first one, and then another, and another, brother.  Salvation is still borne one mind at a time, and so it behooves us to place our interpersonal relationships next to God in value.  Indeed, it is frequently in our brother only that we are able to see and love God.

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

Do We Have a “Special” Role to Play?

            Do we all want a “special” place in the world?  The Holy Spirit reinterprets specialness to mean the unique role that God would have us fill in our lifetime.  What, given our talents, are we best able to do, the one thing that nobody else can do as well as we?  This function, no longer ego-oriented and “special,” is what God would have us to do.  The A Course in Miracles says, in speaking of our brother, “Let him no more be lonely, for the lonely ones are those who see no function in the world for them to fill; no place where they are needed, and no aim which only they can perfectly fill.” (T-25.VI.3:6)

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

Special Becomes Holy

            We seek this Oneness because the call for it was placed in our souls by God.  Jesus even tells us that Heaven is the awareness of perfect Oneness, “nothing outside this oneness, and nothing else within.” (T-18.VI.1:6) Because we are learning through the A Course in Miracles, we find this Oneness first through our relationships, in particular the chosen learning partner(s) who offer us unlimited ways to learn of love.  These are the ones for whom we are ready, the ones to whom we remain connected lifelong.  And these relationships generally are few. (M-3.5:3) The Course says that we may not even recognize the perfect matching that has occurred in these relationships.  But the perfect lesson, the lesson of genuine love of ourselves, others, and God, is there for us if we do not break off the relationship prematurely.  This then is the special relationship that can become holy, indeed that is meant to become holy.

            And forgiveness points the way.

Genuine Oneness

            We are not really meant to be separate one from another, encased in bodies that are separate.  In the worldview of A Course in Miracles, bodies are the symbol of separation.  Only mind can actually become one.  And this melding can and does occur, though we are fearful of losing our individualized identities.  We actually do want our minds to join as one, and this is the closeness that one normally seeks in physical relationships.  These alone will not satisfy us, because we want a true intimacy that is mind to mind. We seek this intimacy in our special relationships.  But these are hard going without forgiveness of one another, the aspect of Reality that would allow genuine closeness.  If we do not forgive, we are going to become embittered or we are going to wander from relationship to relationship, one to the other, seeking something that cannot be found.  This is the crux of the matter.  Forgive, and the boon we desire is ours.  Refuse to forgive, and we are captives of the ego, which can never give us what we desire–true genuine Oneness.

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog. Note: The worldview of A Course of Love says that the “elevated Self of form” will be a desirable way to live in this world in physical bodies.

Again, Forgiveness

            Another problem we create for ourselves is that we see an interval of time between forgiveness and its rewards.  This represents the degree to which we would still keep our brother separate from ourselves.  Once this faulty decision is undone, the time interval collapses, and we see the results of forgiveness come quickly on the heels of the forgiveness itself.

            Part of the reason for a time lag between forgiveness and its results is a “space” problem.  We still would see some distance between our brother and ourselves; we are not yet ready for the collapse of boundaries between us.  This is an error, part of the time-space continuum that is fundamentally illusion.  Will a true joining, a true collapse of boundaries, and it is ours.  What do

we fear?  It is love itself, for love of our brother results in true joining.  Just so long as there are spaces in our togetherness, that distance between will be a problem and an exemplification of the love that we fear to make our own.

            We fear for our safety as we join with our brother, for we do not trust him completely.  His mistakes may be profound, but the Christ in him is innocent still.  It is only his insanity which we fear, and we are never asked to join with that.  Indeed, we would make our own mistake if we attempted to do so.  In fact, this is the essential problem with “special” relationships.  But we must look at the purity within our brother’s heart, and joining with that in spirit only, we reinforce it in our brother, to the betterment of us all.

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

Choosing Life through Forgiveness

We can choose, metaphorically, whether we will experience life or death.  In every miracle is life, and in every impulse to hurt a brother is death.  Surely we choose the latter far more often then we think.  Even the tiny, “inconsequential” hurts are painful–to us if not to our brother.  And so they call for forgiveness.  The answer to any attack, in fact, is forgiveness.

            How may we right the wrong when we have chosen “death” over “life”?  There are no easy answers.  We can and should ask the Holy Spirit for His answer, and it will always mean that forgiveness is called for.  It is not just forgiveness of our brother, but also of ourselves for having made this mistake, having hurt one who is a Son or Daughter of God.  Sometimes forgiving ourselves is much harder than forgiving our brother, because we always attack ourselves first, and once we withdraw blame from others, we have a strong tendency to harbor it within ourselves.

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

Ego Ideal

            If, as for most of us, the ego is debased before meeting a special “other,” another dyn\amic comes into play.  The weakened ego is likely to see in the other her “ego ideal.”  Only if this very special one can love me, will I be perceived in my own (ego) eyes as “worthy.”  All of the other’s special qualities then become fodder for falling in “love.”

            Such “love” always proceeds on part knowledge, and even this part, the Course would have us see, is not knowledge, but faulty perception.  There seem to be many secrets in an egoistic love, though in the words of the A Course in Miracles, “God has no secrets.  He does not lead you through a world of misery, waiting to tell you, at the journey’s end, why He did this to you.” (T-22.I.3:10-11)

            In the unholy love, we are primarily aware of the differences between self and the other.  But this can only be ego, because only the ego knows of differences.  Under the skin, we are all the same.  Only the “lonely and alone, who see their brothers different from themselves” (T- 22.intro.2:2) have need of sin.  When we truly join with another, we know that we are just as capable of his mistakes as he is, as well as just as capable of the love that springs forth from him.  Only when we call an error “sin” does it appear separate and apart from ourselves.

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

Love & Hate

            In much romantic love, the picture of our brother that we see is one of contradictions.  We both love and hate him, and the two concepts effectively cancel each other out.  So we are left with nothing.  We do not know whom we see in our brother any more than we know whom we see in ourselves.  A Course in Miracles counsels that we will be given a picture to replace what we thought, an image of our brother that we will prefer over all our contradictory images.  Even this is not all of him, for it is a perception, and it remains for perception to be translated into knowledge before we will ever see our brother truly.  This final step remains in the future for all of us, because it is our translation into Heaven, a step taken at the end of our pathway by God himself.

Romantic Love

            The impetus for most romantic love, in the beginning at least, is that one sees in the other what she lacks within herself.  The unholy alliance starts, then, from a wrong premise: that there is lack, and then goes on to a wrong conclusion, that one can “take” from the beloved what is lacking, making a whole out of two halves.

            Even popular psychology recognizes that fallacy in such reasoning, but the reasoning itself does not see the light of day because its maker is “crazy in love.”  Many popular treatises on romantic love enjoin that two halves do not make a whole, that one must be a whole person, seeking wholeness, to have anything akin to a lasting environment for love.  Surely many successful loves look back on the beginning of their relationship as a time that grew fruitfully upon a happy present.  The lovers were contented within themselves before finding love in another.  Conversely, most people’s past is also strewn with the remains of wrecked relationships, of love gone wrong.  For some, even for many in today’s climate, these relationships culminated in what promised to be an idyllic marriage, but turned out to be a little bit of hell on earth.  All of these dynamics are addressed in A Course in Miracles’ view of the holy and the unholy relationship. (T-22.intro)

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

We Need Others

            That for which we do forgive our brother is really what we are ready to forgive in ourselves.  We always accuse ourselves first; what we see as unforgivable in another is what we are holding against ourselves.  The “sin” may not be in the same form, but it can be metaphorically described so that it is seen to be the same.  Often others can see the connections more easily than can one person alone.  We should talk with our friends and family as we seek to practice the A Course in Miracles.  We are not in this all alone; we are in this together.

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

Forgiveness Is Complete when We Realize that There Is Truly Nothing to Forgive

            Many of us who are attracted to A Course in Miracles are also attracted to reflection and meditation, but these contemplative practices are not the most important means by which the psychology of the Course takes root.  This psychology takes root in all the relationships now seen as our brothers and sisters, with whom we engage in real, God-inspired, interaction.  Certainly the workbook of the Course stresses contemplation, but it does so more toward its ending than its beginning.  This therefore is only at the final stages of having come to understand the psychology itself.  Only then are we seen as ready for meditation and reflection, after all.  Our quiet times are prepared by God to bring us close to Him as well as closer to the brothers and sisters surrounding us in real relationships.

            The Course cautions us to forgive our brothers, recognizing that their misdeeds had no real effects, being done in illusion.  A second reason for forgiveness is the fact that they were insane when they so acted.  So our forgiveness is grounded in a premise that, while it may sound farfetched upon first hearing it, is actually internally consistent throughout the Course.  These ideas allow us to forgive in truth, even as we recognize that there is truly nothing to forgive, because the real Self has not been affected by evil or “sin” at all.  Recognizing that there is really nothing to forgive is the last step, and there is not one of us who has not had this experience with a loved one at some point in time.  It is only for us to extend these tiny points in time to encompass the whole.

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

Spiritual Gifts of God

            The particular way that A Course in Miracles offers restitution and reunion with God is through our relationships to each other, especially through the relationships that have been special to us.  Specialness is an illusion like all the rest, and it is only as we realize that we ourselves are not special that we can come to see that even our “special” relationships are not special.

            The Holy Spirit transforms these people so special to us into something more real.  The purpose of the relationship is transformed from ego orientation to the spiritual gifts of God. We see in our brother what we want to see in ourselves; that is what we begin wanting when we perceive specialness in another.  But as the relationship proceeds (if we do not choose to break it

off), we come to see that even this interpretation is a mirage. As we see and love these people as they really are, we come to forgive them of their ego foibles, and we love almost in spite of ourselves.  That is when we begin finding our way Home.

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

Banishing Vulnerabilities

            Jesus asserts repeatedly that our real will and God’s will are the same.  We are of the stuff of God; He shared His Self with us in our creation, and so how could Reality be otherwise? Reality must be in harmony, in Oneness, or we escape into dreams of chaos, for that is all that madness can make.  God does not will specialness for us; neither do we truly will it for ourselves, for always will it separate us from our brother.  A Course in Miracles proclaims that actually all of us has everything, nor could we wish for less.  The whole is therefore in each part, and each part (our very Self) is neither greater or lesser (more “special” or less) than any other.  Meditate upon this truth, and watch vain insecurities and vulnerabilities slink away.

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

Vulnerability Leads Us to Seek God

            Do you feel insecure in a world fraught with danger on every side?  Do you feel attacked by those with whom you live and work? It is not the real Self that is truly being attacked; it is simply our false concept of a little self that is more special than our brother.  Never will this little self not be made insecure or be attacked, for a Higher Plan is at work, one which would bring us Home by undoing the ego, which is the essence of this little self.

            On the surface of it, to feel vulnerable is a sad state, but if one’s vulnerabilities lead us to seek God, then all is well again.  It is the little self who is most puffed up with pride that will know ego-defeating humiliations all the more.  This is inevitable, not to be lamented, because we must be brought to the point, frequently through fear or pain, in order to be ready, finally, to discard the ego.  If we learn to associate pain with the ego, and joy with the Holy Spirit, we will be walking on the right pathway, and our insecurities will lessen, finally to be discarded forever.  Is not this a welcome boon?  Intuition will always work to lighten our burdens and to heal our sense of isolation in an unfriendly and frightening world.  Leave the ego behind, for “It is your specialness that is attacked by everything that walks and breathes, or creeps or crawls, or even lives at all.” (T-24.IV.4:4)

Join Hands with Our Brothers

            In forgiving mistakes, in ourselves as well as others, we no longer need to feel that we must hold ourselves “above” another (more special than she).  We are all in this together.  As I forgive my brother of the illusory evil that he does, miraculously I find that I am more tolerant of my own mistakes.  Everything is not a matter of life and death, purest glory or blackest sin.  If I can overlook my brother’s misdeeds, forgiving them before I study them sufficiently to make them seem real to me, then I am well on the way to handling my own problems with the same benign feeling.  Judgment always reverts back to the one who judges.  That is the truth of “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” and the A Course in Miracles has given us the explanation of why this is true.

            The desire for specialness simply dissipates.  One wishes instead to be part of the great mass of humankind with a kind of mystical love that leaves one at peace.  The guilt engendered by the false pursuit of specialness and separateness from one’s brother dissipates as well.  On some level, we all intuit that holding oneself apart, with a little sense of superiority, is actually self-deception and evidence of a shabby self-perception, not an exalted one. (M-21.5:5) Walk with Jesus as together we seek to join hands with all of our brothers, enemies in specialness no more.

Cloud of Holiness

            We must honor the brothers who have been given us as special learning partners.  Knowing that they have indeed been chosen by God and left in our care for a little while puts a cloud of holiness around each one.  Surely we owe our gratitude to God and to our brothers given unto our charge.  Never forget that it is these brothers who light our pathway Home.

A Course in Miracles says, “Forgiveness is the end of specialness.” (T-24.III.1:1) Can this be?  I pray frequently, “Help me to forgive others and help me to forgive myself.”  This seems such a “right” prayer, I think, because of the Course’s contention that projection makes perception.  We see in others what we have not yet recognized in ourselves.  When we feel ourselves to be special, we are holding something still against our brother; we are “better” than he, he who does not merit forgiveness for black “sins” that we would not do.  But this is all illusion.  We too could make these same mistakes, and we too must forgive such tendencies within ourselves, even as we forgive the perpetrator of the “evil” of which we now recognize, on some level, we are capable.  We are all One, and that is the understanding that, as has been frequently said, “We are all brothers under the skin.”

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

No Accidents in Salvation

            When we make comparisons of ourselves to our brother, we ask for sorrow, not joy.  We think we come off the winner, but we are merely fooling ourselves; the ego so longs to deceive.  It is joy when the ego is laid aside!  When we compare (a dynamic always ego-inspired) we diminish ourselves as well as our brother.  It is only our own insecurities, our own low self-esteem, that would seek specialness anyway.  A confident individual, in surety of her place in God’s kingdom, would welcome diversity, not feel threatened by it.  All of us try as hard as, given human frailty, we can.  Our brother who is slipping needs our helping hand, not condemnation, and surely not our “bliss” at believing that we are better than he.

            A Course in Miracles emphasizes that the holy relationship into which we enter with our brother is a “sharing” phenomenon, and in Heaven we do not keep separate from one another.  This may be reminiscent of the biblical assertion that in Heaven there is no giving and taking in marriage.  Surely this is an order of unconditional love of which we are only dimly aware on earth. Jesus never counseled promiscuity, and he is believed to have been celibate while on earth, and so we are not talking of a sexual relationship in the fashion that we consider it.  Nowhere in the Course is the concept of multiple holy relationships seen as anything but positive.  “. . .it is the destiny of all relationships become holy.” (M-3.4:6) Certainly this will mean that jealousy as we know it is an earthly emotion.

            But on earth our “special learning partners” are few, because we have found in them a perfect balance with our own needs.   These few relationships, once formed, are never relinquished, though we may not recognize how perfectly we are matched to one another.  On earth, in fact, there is a whole array of degrees in relationships–from the casual to the most intimate.  Sometimes we join for intense learning with another, and then go our separate ways.  Sometimes we only smile at another in a crowded elevator, and that is enough.  Please know that there is a higher plan at work in our encounters.  There are no accidents in salvation.  “Yet all who meet will someday meet again, for it is the destiny of all relationships to become holy.” (M-3.4:6) Because we cannot meet “everybody,” the plan specifies exactly who we will meet.  Knowing this care in detail is awe-inspiring, being of God Himself, who makes no mistakes.

We Are Doing This unto Ourselves

            As Jesus says, unfairness and attack are one mistake (T-26.X.3:1), just two aspects intertwined at every point.  We must beware of the temptation to see ourselves unfairly treated, for the secret is this:  We are doing this unto ourselves.  Nothing happens without our permission being granted at some level of our being.  Always we are trying to effect our salvation.  We may be misguided in the choices that we make, but remember that it is our dream we are dreaming.  When we perceive ourselves to be deprived, we are the culprit.  We need only turn to the Christ within, the presence of God within, to set aright again our little world, to give up our sick little games.  Of course, just to turn to the Christ within is the first step.  We must still retrace all our steps and have the ladder toward egoism withdrawn for us, and this the Holy Spirit does well, being the function for which He was created.

            The world’s purpose is not to play sick little games of blame and victimization.  As the Holy Spirit sees the world, its only purpose is to make known to us the presence of our Guests within–the Christ and God Himself, the Son (or Daughter) and the Father (or Mother).  Playing the “blame game” will obscure their presence, and the sparkle that the world could have will grow dim and even dark.  We must not seek to add our purpose to the world, thereby confusing the issue and taking away from its singleness of purpose as viewed by our Teacher, the Holy Spirit.  Instead, let us let Son and Father be shown to us, and know that in this revealing will the purpose of the world be completely fulfilled.

            We are not “special,” different, or unique in that what we are can in any way be better (or less) than our brother.  We will all walk Home together, or none of us, and Jesus assures that all of us will find our way back to God, though the time will be far distant unless we pull together.  Because each needs his brother, the way will be shorter (the time more compacted) if we hold our brother’s hand as we walk.  If we realize this shared destiny fully, we will never wish to be considered more “special” than another.  We will be friends one to another because we have a shared purpose. (T-24.I.6:4)  We will protect one another along the way, aware that our failure is his, and just as clearly, his failure is ours. 

There is a brighter side because the victories belong to both of us as well.  There can be no solitary purpose when we are all joined as One in the eyes of God. Look closely at whatever divides one from another.  Is it not that each of us harbors a secret belief that we are more special, better than the other to whom we have been in relationship?  This is what causes broken bonds, an egotistical desire to be separate in order to preserve one’s specialness.

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

Ask the Holy Spirit for Escape from Fear

The way we view our brother is actually the way that we view ourselves.  If we attribute dark motives to him, it is sure that we are projecting those motives from within ourselves. And mild annoyance can be just as debilitating as more aggressive forms of hostility.  We are never angry at something that is “really there”; what we see is always a projection from our own false image of self, our ego.  To believe otherwise is to construct a room without exits in this illusory and sad world of ours.

            We can see the dynamic of blame played out with our brother.  First, for whatever reason, we unconsciously feel fear; this fear floats about looking for a place to alight, and just a word, of whatever nature, from our brother is enough to create anger.  The whole encounter revolves around fear, but we will more likely correctly identify what transpires if we allow ourselves to

experience the fear as stress.  We can then more easily bring ourselves around to a better slant of mind, without torturing ourselves by looking for the source of fear.  Ease up, and ask for respite from the Holy Spirit.  It is our little mind, the ego, that has gotten us into this fix, but it is our Higher Mind that can get us out.  If we dwell a moment upon our brother’s sterling qualities, the sword of guilt above our heads will no longer descend to touch our heart.

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

Increase the Daily Calm

We must honor our brother, for in him God has given a part of Himself for us to love and cherish.  The Christ in us sees our brother truly, in the holiness that is his own; would we allow the egoistic false self to see otherwise?

            Remember that it is much easier to see one’s brother as holy than to see him (or one’s self) as special.  We taught ourselves specialness with much effort, because we wished it to be true. It takes much effort to assimilate a lie, and no effort at all to let the truth be shown to us.  And with this, effortless accomplishment comes to us and we are at rest.

The Attraction of “Sin”

            There is an attraction to “sin” that is not found in what is recognized as merely as a mistake.  The Course says that our way to sin is lit only by “fireflies” that would hurl us over precipices. (T-24.V.4:2)  The attraction to sin exists because in our debased self-image, we still long for specialness.  And specialness carries with it the seeds of destruction and decay.  Be glad that this is true, for the decay is the decay of the ego, and with the ego’s demise goes all our pain and suffering.  With Christ’s vision we know a perfect lack of specialness as we hold our brother’s hand and walk Home together.

            If we can see our brother as holy, we will have come a long way toward seeing ourselves in the same light.  “In him is your assurance God is here, and with you now.” (T-24.VI.1:4) If we see our brother as sinful, it is sure that we perceive ourselves the same.  Do not be variable in private assessments of our brother, for such variability will permeate the whole of the world as we see it.

            I have frequently recognized that I never get angry unless I am stressed, and this is possibly true for most of us.  It is thus very likely that the variability we have been discussing arises out of stress, which is really fear causing us to feel threatened.  If we can so clear our minds that we are calm and at peace, we will not be tempted to think ill of our brother.  It behooves us so to organize our daily lives to maximize the calm and minimize the myriad frustrations.  This we owe to ourselves and to our brother. 

Light in Our Brother

            We find a peaceful joy in forgiveness.  As we absolve our brother of “sin,” we are ourselves absolved.  The gift we long to give to our brother has at long last been given to us.  We idolized our brother, and thereby made of him a god, but in doing so we dreamed that we were special.  When we see our brother aright, an idol no longer but a true equal brother worthy of love, our sense of guilt dissolves and we are placed in our proper relationship to God and to each other.  Such is the miracle that the A Course in Miracles promises.

            The Course can be said to be based in part upon the biblical injunction, “You are your brother’s keeper,” because it is through our relationship one to another that we find salvation.  It is declared that failing our function of fully forgiving our brother will haunt us until this function is fulfilled, and he and we are risen from the past.  Just as our brother condemned not himself alone, so do we not save ourselves alone.  We are here on this plane, indeed, for one purpose only–the healing of our brother.  That is why, in trying to discover meaning in the world, the interactions of person to person are everything.  Until we see our purpose as healing, we will follow the various elusive goals of the world, be they artistic or merely achievement that we might be “successes,” and we will know the ways of the world only.  Pain and turmoil will dog our paths, and we will learn by cause-and-effect, not Jesus’ way, which is actually by grace.

            And, yet, the lamentations of the earth are all so unnecessary.  Jesus in fact proclaims succinctly that we do not have to learn through pain. (T-21.I.3:1)  Such welcome news, but, oh, so unbelievable in the beginning!  We are enjoined to see our brother as sinless, a person who has committed no unpardonable “sins,” but only an individual making mistakes due to his madness.  Once this evaluation is firmly adopted, the whole earth will appear different, bright and sparkling in the sunlight.  We are warned, though, “not one sin you see in him but keeps you both in hell.” (T-24.VI.5:4) One must see holiness in a brother in spite of his mistakes.  His mistakes can cause delay, but in a miraculous sense, it is given us to overcome his mistakes for him, and at the same time for ourselves as well, for he is the mirror of ourselves. 

Without Love, Peace Cannot Be

Certainly most of us have believed a lie sometime, somewhere in our lives. We have been susceptible to deception because we wished it so. If we doubt this, look back to see how our wish made it true for us, even though the basis may have been pure fantasy. Hidden in that wish, if we trace to its sources, is a desire for specialness, a desire to be a creature specially favored by God, singled out for merit that does not also belong to our brother.

Yet there is no peace in these dreams. When we put ourselves on a pedestal, we do not readily forgive lesser mortals. Without forgiveness, love cannot begin, grow, or thrive; and without love, peace cannot be. When we look with Christ’s eyes, we understand that no brother has sinned against us; we see only love where earlier condemnation had reigned. Condemnation need not be very blatant; just a hint of grievance against our brother, and the spell of love is broken. Guilt reigns supreme, because in our deepest heart we know intuitively that nothing in Reality has ever happened that is damaging to us. In contrast, when the earth sparkles and glows, seems alive in love, and is literally full of bright color, we know in our depths that we have truly forgiven our brother for formerly perceived “sins” against us. Our heart is so overflowing with love, seeking our brother to be One with him, that nothing is held back from us. We know no guilt in this epiphany, and the inner calm at being finally reconciled to God is overwhelming. We have forgiven ourselves for our failure to love God more, for in loving our brother with open hands and a clear conscience we have at last forgiven ourselves for what we believe that we did to God. We feel cleansed of evil intent and in that purification comes the knowledge that we truly were never sinners, only guilty of mistakes now left behind. And all because at last we have laid down our arms against our brother.

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

Just Stop Thinking of Ourselves as “Special”

When we see sin, our specialness seems safe, because we attribute that sin to another, never to ourselves.  But this is a mirage, for we are projecting out what we really see within. There is no other picture.  Either sin is within, or it is nowhere.  And the great blessing is that sin really is nowhere, not in ourselves nor in our brother.  But to recognize this, specialness must be relinquished entirely.

            A Course in Miracles proclaims that we look upon our specialness as a “creation” that we would prefer over our “true creations.”  The Course is never explicit about what these true creations really are, but assures us that they are awaiting us in Heaven.  But if we lavish love on our illusory specialness, we will not soon find our way back to what is truly ours.  Here on this plane we love a parody of creation, but God would not have it so.  We are bidden to abandon our investment in specialness so that something far better–true love and harmony with an equal brother–can be experienced instead.

            It is really our insecurities, our inferiority complex, that bids us to place such emphasis on thinking ourselves better than our brothers.  There is really no such thing as a “superiority” complex; we know in our deepest heart of hearts that we are not truly better, but we then think that others must be better, and we rebel against this.  All of this nonsense must be placed aside.  Temporarily, some of us seem to have more only because we are more aligned with God, and therefore not as insane.  But we cannot free ourselves alone because our brother is a part of us, and he must come, too.  We are all One, and we only walk Home together.  The Course says that our brother is afraid to walk with us, and he thinks walking a little ahead us, or a little behind, would suit him better.  But progress is not possible this way; we know peace only walking side by side, hand in hand. “Can you make progress if you think the same, advancing only when he would step back, and falling back when he would go ahead.” (T-31.II.9:3)

Our Brother Is Our Way Home

We usually find in our chaotic world that it is through pain and suffering that we realize there must be a better way.  Our turning point does not have to be thus, because Jesus assures us that it is not necessary to learn through pain.  In our confusion, though, we have usually made the conditions that will, in fact, bring enough pain to us that we will cry out for relief, and in that crisis point, we will find out that guidance through the Holy Spirit is awaiting us.  The Holy Spirit is ready to show us another way, a better way.  Once we turn the corner, then, we are open to guidance from the Holy Spirit.  Frequently, though, we blame God for our plight.  A Course in Miracles proclaims that God could not give this specialness we craved, and so we retreated into feverish dreams.  We did this; the only blame is on our own heads.  And there is a way out. 

Our Brother as Our Savior

By turning to our brother and freely choosing to join with him, becoming as one, we see that we would not choose to be more special than he.  There is a lack of love when one perceives self to be either greater or lesser than another.  Love does not thrive on competition, only in Oneness–the harmony of equals who are saviors one to another.

 ACIM gives a hard but unequivocal statement of our deep need to see our brother sinless.  It says, uncompromisingly, “When peace is not with you entirely, and when you suffer pain of any kind, you have beheld some sin within your brother, and have rejoiced at what you thought was there.”  (T-24.IV.5:2) Here in a nutshell is our supreme need to be equals, one to another, in love. 

–from Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

Tiny, Mad Idea

From Out of the Maze, an e-book by the author of this blog.

A Course in Miracles makes a stunning statement about how the separation from God came about. A tiny, mad idea (T-27.VII.6:2) that one wished special favor from God, more than He would give to another, brought about our encasement in separate but illusory bodies, a “solution” that made our specialness seem the truth. At the same moment, God gave His Answer and our way Home (reunion with Him), the Holy Spirit. And never would this Voice speak for specialness, however much we in our insanity might long for it.

We have long given support to achievement potential in one another, and in so doing, we have moved closer to our own undoing. Why? The ego is constantly being undone in us, and the more that we feed its insatiable hunger in ourselves and others, the more quickly the pain of ego makes itself know. Our competitive strife, the longing to be “the best,” the desire to beat the other guy out–all are derivative of the desire to be better than our brother, to merit more in the eyes of God. Seen in this light, the Protestant work ethic, the idea that God rewards those who work hard, is a perversion of the truth. Our sometime disdain for elitism is a symptom of our dim recognition that all are equal in the eyes of God.

So, if specialness is wrong, is it also wrong to succeed in the eyes of the world? In an individualistic sense, yes. When we follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we will choose for the good of all, not ourselves only. And this is the true meaning of success. When we follow this guidance, we do not know “challenge,” because we are not in doubt about the outcome. We choose for all of humanity, and therefore can only succeed. We are in harmony. And so we have happy dreams.

Quiet Answer

Note that while a request to remove anger may be granted immediately, it is more likely to be a slow process. Giving up all our angers requires a complete relinquishment of self-will (in the egoistic sense) to the better way of the Spirit within. And it requires attunement to the Divine at the moment in the heat of anger. Do not fight the sin (error)! That will only make it stronger. Instead, withdraw into one’s heart and mind and seek the solace of God’s solution to the situation that so troubles. Avoid the quick retort; know that this impulse is fueled by fear (stress) and is unworthy of a child of God. If we fall down on the pathway, know that God is ever ready to pick us up and set us aright again. Forgive self for the lapse! It does no good and much harm to chastise one’s self harshly and in the throes of guilt. Ask for divine assistance and it will be forthcoming. Above all, be grateful for the surfacing of anger. It is the only way for the boil to be lanced, the false self to be undone, and the better way available to all of us once again.

If problems assail us one by one, two by two, or more, please know that we are living in error. This is the human condition. Jesus says, though, that we will have freedom when we give over all problems to the one solution—the Holy Spirit. He will impress upon our minds the solution in a quiet answer without fanfare, a quiet answer that leaves no one the loser. Until every problem is given over in this way to a Higher Power, the essentially same “problem” will arise repeatedly in different forms. To keep a problem, moreover, is to make it great, past the hope of accomplishing a solution. God would not have this so for His children. In the Holy Spirit’s sight, though, problems are little and “. . .worth no more than just a tiny sigh before they disappear. . . .” (T-26.II.7:4)

If God’s Son in truth is innocent, then God’s justice would hold nothing against him. When we fail to offer the same justice to our brother by seeing instead that he is not due true justice, that he has done something not worthy of forgiveness, we judge against ourselves as well. Madness, as Jesus says, only seems terrible; in truth it has no power to make anything. (M-17.9:1-2) Justice would say to our brothers, “Choose again. This thing you decry is false and not reality at all.” Then our brother is granted complete justice as an innocent, though mistaken, son or daughter of God. We forgive, though we, strictly speaking, do not need to do so at all because there is nothing to forgive. Illusions need to be simply dispelled, and all will be as if they had never been.

Anger

When we recognize that our minds are one, that the mind that is in one’s brother connects to our own, it is a very short step to eliminate attack, because we recognize that the attack is upon ourselves as well. And eliminating attack will eliminate guilt, the reason that we have been driven mad and into this world of illusion.

This new way of approaching life may not come readily. We first may find our anger rising more easily from the depths because we have been sensitized to the fact that it is there. How can we eliminate it unless we are first made aware of it? As one comes closer to living in the fully spiritual life, the tiny inconveniences of living, the nagging doubts and negative thoughts, the scraps of anger, will seem more burdensome to us than before. That is why saints have historically viewed themselves as the blackest of sinners: They are more conscious of the tiniest of errors. So too will this dynamic occur as we make our way along the spiritual pathway. Do not, therefore, lament the awareness of anger within; open up to feel it and then bid it leave forever. Think you that the Holy Spirit would not grant this request, so in line with God’s will for us?

Egoic “Devil” Is a Mirage

One point in the deluded sufferer’s mind of attack needs to be addressed. Not only will we have trouble believing in the essential innocence of our brother, but we will believe that A Course in Miracles is deluding us as the tool of the “devil” as well. The Holy Spirit will therefore not be seen as God’s emissary, but as the voice of evil, cloaked in “good.” This is the essential aspect of the Course that Jesus says will cause us trouble; we will believe that he is misleading us. But is he really? Isn’t it our own projections that are the culprit here? We think the “sin” within is actually perpetrated by following an external demon, when in truth the demons are all within–products of our deluded mind. This is all that we are really dealing with. The devil is a myth, a projection from within of the “evil” we have seen there. And it was all a mirage–nothing more. A mirage that we can discard as invalid as soon as we accept the truth that we are dreaming in chaos, living with a diseased mind that in truth wants fervently to be sane again.

Jesus explains this dilemma in two succinct sentences. Referring to the Holy Spirit, he says, “What could He be to them except a devil, dressed to deceive within an angel’s cloak. And what escape has He for them except a door to hell that seems to look like Heaven’s gate?” (T-25.VIII.7:3-4) Words like these are the reason that the early portion of the Course must be carefully studied, because without this preparation, the ego will react with such fear that the experience will be more traumatic than beatific.” (T-1.VII.5:8) Trauma we can leave behind if we only trust Jesus and the Course a little longer. Suspend egoistic judgment of the parts that frighten, and patiently study the whole.

Jesus and the Holy Spirit will bring us out of the tunnel into the light, and into a world of Reality that sparkles and shines unlike anything seen since we fell asleep. And the Awakening will be gentle, once all the steps on the ladder have been retraced. Before the steps have been taken, there indeed may be a revelation of some startling proportions, a revelation revealing the end. But to get there the means are needed, and Jesus in the Course carefully explains those means. (T-1.VII.5:11)

Jesus’ Example

We must never forget that we and our brother are always “in this together.” If we imagine that we can be treated unfairly, we are trying to combine our innocence and his attack. The world doesn’t work that way. Because projection makes perception, it is our own attack thoughts that have prompted the cry of “unfair.” Attack is simply a mad reaction, and the notion even if a “fair attack” is without meaning. Moreover, we do our brother an injustice when we blame him for what we perceive as unfair attacks upon ourselves. We see him as guilty, and thus damn him, figuratively, to a hell of our own making. We have consented to this attack, for whatever reason, good or bad. A Course in Miracles says, “Walk you the gentle way, and you will fear no evil and no shadows in the night.” (T-27.I.1:3)

Even Jesus’s own suffering is an example of this dynamic. He did not share his tormentors’ view of attack (that it was “fair”) nor of his friends and apostles (that it was “unfair”). Thus he did not strengthen the attack in any way whatsoever. And a short while later he demonstrated that resurrection (for all of us, not just him) always follows death, showing that death is essentially an illusion of this time and place only. Jesus made no defense at all, the posture that he recommends for us as well, for to react defensively is to acknowledge that there is some evil therein to be defensive about.

So in the days following death and entombment, Jesus appeared in a body that could manifest itself among the apostles behind shut doors, and could walk along a road and almost not be recognized, and could “break bread” and eat. Surely he had entered a realm of living about which the rest of us know nothing. But the most important point was that the cross had not hurt him in any lasting way at all. By this truth we see an example of defenseless living wholly without reproach. Jesus says, “Let it [the body] receive the power to represent endless life, forever unattacked.” (T-27.I.10:6) In order for this picture to be true, we must not let the past intrude, much as we must not let the picture of Jesus’s crucifixion intrude on the glorified body that he occupied in the 40 days on earth following his resurrection.

Yet healing is to many a threatening idea. We cling fast to our sickness, even unto death, for we still blame our brother for the suffering that we, in actual fact, have allowed ourselves to endure. Withdraw the blame, and part of the reason for sickness (i.e., the reproach) is gone as well. Only the healed can truly pardon, because their (formerly) sick bodies do not stand in mute testimony that a brother is guilty of attack upon one’s self. And because only now is eternal and real, the illusory past has vanished, taking its causeless suffering with it.

Our Healing

It is part of the worldview of A Course in Miracles that we are all One, and this One is God. Ideas (and we are all at base an idea) leave not their Source, and so we are created creatures, extensions of God Himself. Our mistake in wanting to be apart and separate can never satisfy, because we are meant both to have and to be everything. Our egos would want a little separate treasure, apart from what our brother has, but all this false belief can ever give us is isolation, loneliness, and fear. And God has protected Himself and us by seeing that this separation happens only in illusion, in dreams. And thus it does not happen in Reality at all.

This explanation can only be understood metaphorically in this world, because we are not yet back Home in God. But miracles can and do happen without a fuller understanding. We can be healed of our guilt over separation (and the illusory effects that it has brought) without sacrifice and without pain. All we need are open hands to accept the miracle.

Specifically, what we have to give up to be free of pain is fear. Jesus sums up how in one concise sentence, “Being wholly without attack, it [love] cannot be afraid.” (T-19.IV.A.10:7) Without attack, there is no fuel with the pain that it brings. The pain may, and frequently does, visit ourselves or others in the form of sickness. This, Jesus explains, is the faulty problem solving mechanism meant to illustrate the frailty of the ego’s home, the body.

In these few sentences is a summation of what Jesus tells us about the origin of pain. Is it understandable? Not at its introduction, because once ego defenses immediately activate to suggest a thousand reasons why this simple answer cannot be the whole of it. Give the ideas a while to prove their validity.

God Enthralls Us

I believe that this moment of coming into our own can be likened to God taking the last steps into our Reunion with Him all by Himself. There is nothing that we can “do” to merit it, and if we had continued to struggle in our chaos, it might have seemed to be endless. And by retracing our karmic steps, we will regain Heaven, and the ladder leading us in the direction of the egoistic world can be withdrawn so that never again will we be tempted to dive into illusory worlds.

We have had enough pain to realize that the egotistical way is not appropriate. We will love God too much, appreciate the joys of Heaven too much, ever to be tempted to feel that following His Will is somehow a contrast to our own. We will see others as the equals that they are, and we will not be tempted to ask God to give us special favor. The desire for “special favor” is, in fact, what A Course in Miracles sees as the reason for our present predicament. And that defines the ego in two tiny words. We wait for God to take the final step in freeing us as individuals. Yet the Course looks to the individual first; in that sense, it does not preach a “social gospel.”

The Course would see most of our efforts in the world as doomed from the start unless we are right with God in the beginning. Jesus knows that we cannot give what we have not received. If we are not first healed, we have no healing to share with others. If we try still, we are “unhealed healers,” and Jesus is particularly negative about this. (T-9.V.3:3)

Heaven

Why may it take us so long to extricate ourselves from this world of madness? That is a misleading question, because time is relative, and if our attitudes are right, we can experience even Heaven itself in the here and now. Jesus says that Heaven is not a condition, but the awareness of perfect oneness. (T-18.VI.1:5) Surely in our mystical moments we come close to experiencing this wonder, and there are few of us who do not have mystical moments from time to time, even if we don’t call these memorable times by that name and even if we do not recognize these memorable times for what they are.

Jesus also says that we must retrace our steps, in effect, a process that he likens to a ladder, where we retrace our steps into descent, and eventually the ladder is removed. (T-28.II.12:7) Our old ideas of Heaven being “up,” of somewhere out in the sky being Heaven, here comes into play in Jesus’s metaphor. We cannot truly enter the Heaven that is actually within until we have let go of all illusions; this may be a very long process, because we have gone deep into madness.

We Are the Energy of God

In our madness, we revolted against God, possibly believing that we could not be free unless we exercised that freedom by choosing a way of living that was opposed to His Will. Doesn’t this sound very much like an adolescent revolting against the reasoning and life patterns of parents? I suggest that this human perennial pattern is a metaphor for our rebellion against our Perfect Parent. The fallacy in this mad reason (because it is mad) is that God is ultimately not only our Parent and Creator, but also the very Energy out of which we are born. We are not separate from Him except when we identify ourselves as ego in a bad dream. Even on the human level we can see some parallel in the humor elicited by varieties of the story we have all heard: “When I was 14, I thought that my father didn’t know anything. By the time I turned 21, I was amazed by how much he had learned.”

On the human level, where this world is opposite from Heaven (T-16.V.3:6), there is good reason to build up a personality separate from our parents. Yet never have our minds been truly separate in this universal growth process. The latter point illustrates profoundly the way of the universe. We are built of the very Existence of God, thus not being separate, we can only retreat into madness and fantasize that we are, lest God be divided against Himself. This God could not allow, and we fancy ourselves apart only; in actuality, we are still at Home in Him.

We Can See Clearly Now

The Course calls the act of pardoning, or forgiving, one’s brother of what is just illusion anyway as the “power to release your savior.” (T-21.II.3:8) If we will entertain the idea that the Course is right, that the world is truly illusory and illusion made in madness, the step of pardon becomes very easy. It becomes, in madness, the only rational choice that one would make. We would not get angry if our brother were psychotic, though we might wish mightily that he were healed, especially if in his madness he is causing us pain. In effect, the Course declares that this characterization is exactly what is happening on a daily basis in our world. We are all, to one degree or another, steeped in a metaphysical madness.

On a deeper level, though, we have never left Heaven, and our real Self is very strong. We are indeed strong enough to let this world go, accepting correction because we see that we are wrong. (T-21.II.4:10) It is only the extent to which we live by guidance that we can see a more benign dream, the still illusory Real World granted our waking dream by the Holy Spirit. The dreams he gives, though still illusory, are happy, and by them we see our way clear.

Be Gentle with the Self

Do we really choose, on some level, what we experience? The Course is uncompromising in its insistence that we do. “Suffer, and you decided sin was your goal. Be happy, and you gave the power of decision to Him [i.e., the Holy Spirit] Who must decide for God for you.” (T-21.II.3:5-6)

If this concept is helpful, it is because we see the light at the end of the tunnel. If it makes us feel guilty, we are misusing the words on behalf of the ego’s insanity. All of us are still at least partially insane, ruled by the ego. It is not practical to think, under these circumstances, that we always and consistently follow the Holy Spirit. The little self that occupies this world is still imperfect. Be gentle with that self, even as your Self would be, and perhaps say quietly (if it is helpful), “There is another way of looking at the world.” (W-pI.33.h)

When I fall from Grace into karma, I think, “I have done this thing to somebody else, sometime, somewhere.” I allow myself to feel the pain, but I try not to wallow in it. It is sometimes helpful, if the “sin” (in illusion) seems to be perpetrated by another, to remember, “you always attack yourself first,” (T-10.II.4:5) substituting the offender’s name for the “you.” Then I feel compassion for this fellow traveler, my brother sent to me by God, for we will find the way out together or not at all.

The Ego as Satan

A Course in Miracles says, “Sin is not error, for it goes beyond correction to impossibility. Yet the belief that it is real has made some errors seem forever past the hope of healing, and the lasting grounds for hell.” (T-26.VII.7:1-2) This passage points to the old idea of a duel between God and the fallen angel Lucifer (Satan), in which the two battle it out for control of men’s and women’s minds.

We must realize that this myth is a projection of the ego, which is the “Satan” in all of us. But as part of God, as an extension of God, our Will and His have not truly been out of sync. It is only in our mad and unnatural way to operate independently of God that the trouble began–the trouble that is an illusion of reality, but an illusion in which, nevertheless, we still believe.

God does not attack our ego (our “Satan”), knowing that it is only a dream and without substance at all. He waits for us to understand that the way of the ego does not work; He waits for our reestablishment of communing with the Holy Spirit, the only natural way to live. As finite minds, we cannot succeed if we try to live separately from our Source.

So we must give up our inferior judgments to the Holy Spirit, who sees the whole picture. This is natural; this is the way life should be experienced, and we learn this as our bad dreams turn to happy ones under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit.

Forgiveness

People who are particularly fearful of sin (though they may not call it that) will be particularly prone to find a victim in an attempt to ease their consciences at their own “unforgivable” wrongdoing. Their attacks upon another will be very pronounced, reducing her to an object deemed unworthy of esteem, but very worthy of damnation for “sins.” This is projection! The one who feels guilty, who cannot accept those mistakes of hers that seem black enough to be sins, will thrust her poor self-image onto another–the scapegoat. Know that this is simple insanity, and try no longer to make sense of it. Forgive the indiscretion, and this understanding will dawn upon an overwrought mind. Know that if we are the victims today, in other times we have been the perpetrators. Leave this insanity behind for all time. It is a replay of the mistaken message that we have long viewed by looking at the old, rugged cross.

We do not need the cross as expiation of sins. We do need the wholly benign lesson of the resurrection, and Jesus in A Course in Miracles bids us look to the resurrection rather than the crucifixion. A Course in Miracles affirms that all sickness is an illusion caused by our belief in unforgivable sin and brought into being by our guilt (over the “sin”) that asks for punishment. The Course does not really believe that sin, if true at all, is forgivable. And it implies that we do not believe sin, if true, is forgivable either.

The Course’s way out of this impasse is to say that the wrong that we do is really illusion, and that Reality has not be affected at all. So sin is not “real,” and only in illusion have we made errors that cry out for correction.

Calling an error a “sin” seems to make it “real,” and to call for punishment. And because belief makes an illusion, we will experience the punishment that we have asked for. We can seem to make error “real” by concentrating upon it, thereby elevating its status. What we need to do is overlook the error, perhaps offering simultaneously our forgiveness of it. But certain it is that we will make it “real” to ourselves if we focus on it, analyzing it as the ego is always prone to do. If we forgive first, we will then come to understand. We ought not to seek to understand before forgiving because that is a certain way to engage the ego and ensure that we will find it harder and harder to forgive, having made real to ourselves the deeds that we need to overlook.

Jesus

The belief in sin sets up the need for sacrifice—a scapegoat or victim upon whom our wrong can be dumped so that we will not suffer for it. This is essentially why the cross has played such a huge part in the drama of 2,000 years ago. If Jesus, the innocent one, the best of the flock, was sacrificed to an angry God, then we were off the hook.

The fact that Jesus did not see an angry God but only a loving Father was a detail overlooked in the scenario. He would do anything God might ask, even death unto the cross. The drama was complete.

But what if we somehow missed the point? What if it were our ego that gave this interpretation to which was essentially a cruel death to one who upset the authority of the priests? In the Course Jesus bids us look at the resurrection, which, however it is understood, does seem to point beyond death to a life that continues. The New Testament gives eye-witness accounts of a Jesus who appeared in the midst of the apostles, though the doors to the room were shut. This does not appear to be the usual physical body, but one that could be “made physical” at will.

Do we really doubt that there are more things in Heaven and earth than we dream of? This seems to be one of these cases–a body that could come and go from other regions at will.

A Course in Miracles says, “. . .specialness cares not who pays the cost of sin, so it be paid. . . .” (T-25.VIII.11:1) So for almost 2,000 years, many of us have believed that the cost of our specialness demanded a victim to expiate our “sin.” What if there need be no victim because there is no sin–only error borne of madness? We would rush to the side of our brother to do what we can to heal his mind.

Maybe that’s exactly what we need to do today: Rush to our brother or sister’s side to heal his/her mind.

Wholly Correctable Mistakes – Not “Sin”

It is particularly hard for newcomers to the A Course in Course to believe it when they are told that they have never sinned: They have only made wholly correctable mistakes. People with background such as mine may think that this is the deception of which we are warned from a “devil.” So what are we to make of this?

It one can just entertain the notion that our minds are, to greater or lesser degrees, at one time or another, in one person or another, insane, then we are well on our way out. Even our society treats the insane criminal differently from the one judged sane, controversial though a given case may be. We recognize diminished responsibility, an inability to see clearly right from wrong. Is this not what we are faced with on a daily basis? We see so dimly without the Holy Spirit’s guidance; sometimes we hardly know which way to turn. Would a loving God condemn us for our lack of clear understanding? No! He would merely give us a Guide who would lead us out of the maze.

Does a loving God demand payment, sacrificial payment, because we have done something bad and need to be punished for it? Certain traditional Christian theology teaches this, in that Jesus “died for our sins” and is the “sacrificial Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.” The Course reinterprets all of this into a much more benign concept. “I was not ‘punished’ because you were bad,” Jesus says. (T-3.I.2:10) He goes on to explain that this interpretation is an egoistic projection borne of the insanity of the ego. So we are back to the concept of insanity.

Surely no parent or loved one who sees his child or family member commit violent acts when diagnosed as mentally ill holds that person by the same standards as she holds a “sane” person. Let us entertain the notion that we only need to enlarge our definition of insanity to accommodate all people, to a greater or lesser degree. Jesus condemned no one. He recognized while on earth that most people did the best that they could with what they had. It behooves those of us who follow in the footsteps of Jesus, however blindly, to try to do the same.

Little Wisp of Melody

The Course speaks of a “little wisp of melody” (T-21.I.6:2) that will remind us of an ancient state of Oneness with God, a state of Oneness which calls us to return to our real Home. T. S. Eliot expressed this need to return perhaps more perfectly than anyone else when he said,

“We will not cease from exploration,
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started,
And know the place for the first time.” –“Little Gidding,” Four Quartets, V: 26-29

This is a fitting description of the expulsion from Eden as the “fortunate” fall. But we do not have to agree that our detour into madness was “fortunate” to derive meaning and benefit from Eliot’s concept. In our own world, though, it is not uncommon for those individuals who recover fully from madness to feel, in retrospect, that their experiences, however wrenching, were worthwhile. If the people labeled “mentally ill” by our culture can see value in their dreamlike experiences, do we really have to doubt that our mass hallucination–our mass dream–is a valuable teaching tool as well?

In the final analysis, the two may be remarkably alike. Just as many mentally ill people refuse to believe that they are ill, so too do most people of the world. Our egos are seen as valuable and, above all, real–hardly the illusion that miracles would have us recognize.

Reason & Faith

There is a difference between what is metaphorically true and what is actually true. When the way seems rough, it is likely that one is being propelled by a metaphor. Instruction for living is found therein, but not those things that will be actualized in the time and place of this plane. And faith that it will be is misplaced faith, particularly likely to lead one even deeper into illusion.

I was greatly relieved in my college classes in religion to learn that one of the Church Fathers had declared that one need not believe on faith anything that contradicted reason. As my beliefs about Reality have changed, so has my reasoning about it. But the Holy Spirit leads gently and leads us willingly; just so long as He is dealing with a skeptic, so ever gentle will He lead. Now I read in the Course that the Holy Spirit uses reason to undo insanity. (T-21.V.9:1) Reason actually lies in the union of my will with that of the Father.

With these words the gentle pathway back becomes illumined as by a lightning bolt. Perhaps the Holy Spirit needs reason even more than blind faith. If truly blind, one is not using her sane mind, but is particularly apt, perhaps, to follow a will o’ wisp of falsity to its mad conclusion.

Faith

Faith is a particularly slippery term to the partially insane, because it can be used to justify illusions as well as truth. If we believe an illusion strongly enough, it will become true to us (even if we have to dip into psychosis to prove its truth). Conversely, if one lacks faith in any truths beyond one’s self, the world becomes a very nihilistic place in which to dwell.

So when do we know that faith is warranted? There are no easy answers. But you can be sure that if one has to invert a whole frame of reference to justify a belief, that belief is probably wrong. The Course is practical, as ever. And I know from experience that, given a strong will, one is frequently tempted to invert a frame of reference in an attempt to preserve an egoistic dream.

Madness & Illusion

The Course even maintains that the world exists only in our minds: “There is no world!” (W-pI.132.6:2) Jesus says that this is the central tenet that the Course attempts to teach, and that we will go as far toward accepting this as we can. For those of us who have longed to know the metaphysical basis of Reality, these words are welcome indeed. We are told that when we awake from our nocturnal dreams, we simply “awake” to a new dream, in a new form not easily recognizable. The Course also says that awareness of dreaming is the real function of God’s teachers. (M-12.6:6)

When we recognize that what we see and do is illusion, we do not have so much trouble forgiving our brother, for in truth what he did to cause pain never happened. Our real self has been unaffected, and we are led gently to realize that this real Self is far greater than the tiny, mad part of ourselves that longs to be separate. If we can believe it, we are even instructed that the Whole does not know of the tiny part that wishes to be different and “special.” Only the Holy Spirit is the linkage that pulls this bit of madness back to the one Whole.

This is another of the difficult concepts of the Course: Does God Himself really remain unaware of our doings, with only the Holy Spirit to mediate between God and us? If we see God as within, layered over by much unreality, the concept makes more sense. Frequently we can reach God only in silence, so far have we gone into madness. And if we cannot know the Living God, it is obvious that the communication between Him and us has been disrupted. This then perhaps is the basis for recognizing that we in our madness have limited the very knowledge of God.

Can He reach us, if He is hidden within us and we are mad? I think not. But the Course is adamant that God’s Holy Spirit does provide the communication link that we have thrown away. I do not believe that these concepts are possible of understanding in a world of madness. Do let us go as far along the pathway of understanding as we can, leaving it to God to take the final step of uniting us to Him, once again. What we need is faith to see us through.

Visions

It is a fundamental tenet of the Course that we are making the world that we see: projection from within causes our perception. This is a particularly difficult concept for “rational” beings to accept, because it requires that we entertain the notion, foreign to ourselves, that we are engaged in mass hallucination with our brothers. Those who have actually seen hallucinations (or visions) will find it easier to accept. Those who have been psychotic have stepped, momentarily, out of the mass hallucination into one seen only by themselves. For these people, the world they normally see will never again seem so real.

God’s Answer

There is an old story, retold by Hugh Prather, in which a man was allowed to see his life at his death, symbolized as steps along a sandy shore. He noticed two sets of footprints during much of the walk, but from time to time noticed only one set, and it occurred to him that these were his most trying times. Why, he asked God, did you desert me when times were tough? God responded, “Yes, it is true that I walked beside you throughout life, holding your hand. But when there was only one set of footprints, that was when I was carrying you.”

God’s Goodness

The idea of suffering has long been a stumbling block for individuals who wished, in fact who always intuited that God is good. But it has especially been a stumbling block for people who have blamed God for suffering. They look around at a world torn by war and famine, the slaughter of innocents, and say, “How can God be good if this is what I see?”

The Course offers a way out of this dilemma, a dilemma that is indeed highlighted in particular passages of the books. Jesus acknowledges that all of us, at some point, have believed that God is cruel, because life so frequently seems to mock our good intentions. The way out is the assertion that this is illusion that we are seeing, illusion without any real effects. In our very Spirit, we are not affected by the suffering of ourselves nor others. There is still a part of us in Heaven and unchanged by these appearances. That part recognizes that the harm done by our fellow men and women is actually done out of insanity, that nothing that they do to us is done out of malice; it would not be done at all if our brothers and sisters were in his right mind.

Ah! But that is the crux of the matter. None of us here on earth are in our right minds. We live the insanity in order to work our way out of the maze. We struggle through years of not understanding before we finally find the right tools to lead us back to sanity and release in God’s care. We are never left alone, however much we may think that we are.

Peace

Knowing reality as it is really meant to be is possible only in snatches in this world. From time to time we experience a real meeting with another, a real relationship between equals, and we know that this experience of joy and love is as life is designed to be. The Course says that we would weep if we truly realized how different what we know now is from what we knew in Heaven (T-21.I.7:2) before we drifted into insanity and therefore into illusion.

I believe that God created karma in order to allow us to realize that our way could not work, that only a relationship of oneness with our true Mind, which is at home in God alone, could be reality. Jesus indicates that after much pain we must come to see that there is a better way, and make amends accordingly. If this seems like a dirty trick, that pain is what God visits on us to throw us back on Him alone, then we are misperceiving the truth of reality. Only God’s way can work; anything else proceeds from an illusory cause and brings effects that we would not want. Only in harmony can we live together in this universe. Only in Oneness could the universe survive. The “cause,” the ego, is a false notion of self, and it believes many things that are quite chaotic. This chaos brings on conflict and agony, for what else could transpire?

With karma, we see the boom-a-rang of what we have done to others coming back to ourselves; this is one way of learning. But it is not the only way. With the appearance of Jesus 2,000 years ago, he brought in the Age of Grace–the time in which we can, through meditation, prayer, and reflection, see the error of our ways, and make restitution that does not mean an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Certainly the Course carries this doctrine a step farther along to real Peace.

Errors vs. Sin

A Course in Miracles affirms, “The ego’s whole continuance depends on its belief you cannot learn this course.” (T-22.III.2:1) Of course! The heart of the assertion is the distinction between “errors” and “sin.” Errors are made for correction, which we will learn to do by learning this Course. Sin can, in Christian theology, only be forgiven and, perhaps, imperfectly, as we humans are prone to do. The Course asserts that it is doubly hard to forgive sin that has been in our minds made “real.” The better way is not to focus on the “sin,” or mistake, from the beginning, but to overlook it as the illusion that it is.

Sin is likened to solid granite (T-22.III.3:4), which, when observed, is seen as an impenetrable barrier. But this is what only the body’s eyes see a form that is not reality at all. It takes the application of reason to truly see, to have vision. The body’s eyes, physically and metaphorically, can never see past illusory form.

It is necessary for us to realize that the ego is a false, illusory self, made by ourselves in insanity, and offering nothing that in our right minds we would really want. God had to protect His universe, and so He allowed our miscreations to live on in illusion only–not in reality. Only in reality can we share the Mind that is His, and thus know reality as it is really meant to be.