Thu, May 31st - 4:32PM
ACIM Basics #7 - The Miracle
What Does A Course in Miracles Mean by "Miracle"?
Basically, the "miracle" which Jesus speaks of in the Course, and which gives the Course its title, is that change of mind from ego to Holy Spirit that permits forgiveness to take place in our lives. The miracle and forgiveness are almost synonymous, except that "miracle" refers to what takes place in our mind, and "forgiveness" is the expression of that change of mind in the way we perceive ourselves and others. Behavior -- what we do in the world -- follows from that, since behavior is determined by how we perceive.
The Course asks of us that we undertake only one responsibility, which is to accept the Atonement in our own mind. That is accomplished by the "miracle," which is equivalent to allowing ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit or Jesus. Complete acceptance of the Atonement would mean that we allowed ourselves always to be an instrument of love in the world -- that we always would fulfill the one function of forgiveness that Jesus assigns us in the Course.
It is rather easy to be deceived about what is meant by the "miracle" the Course speaks of; about what is genuine acceptance of the Atonement; what is truly loving; what is truly the guidance of the Holy Spirit or Jesus; and what is "truly helpful." Those who undertake to study the Course can avoid this kind of deception by learning to be keenly vigilant for the ego. We must learn how to step back and look at our own minds, and then learn how to surrender our perceptions, therefore control of our behavior, to right-mindedness.
There is no behavior which is inherently loving in this world, and the more grandiose our behavioral plans are, the less likely they are to be the result of genuine spiritual guidance, or the "miracle." We need to remember that "I need do nothing" (T-18.VII) and that "A healed mind does not plan" (W-pI.135.11:1). It is a mistake to decide ahead of time that we know what is the most loving and holy thing to do in the world, or that we know ahead of time what a miracle would look like.
Regarding what the Course means by a "miracle," there are some answers in the Course that one should consult. See the Workbook, page 473 -- "What is a Miracle?" (W-pII.13) Also see the Clarification of Terms at the end of the Manual for Teachers - p. 81, "The Ego - The Miracle" C-2).
There is a Glossary-Index for the Course written by Kenneth Wapnick and available in hard copy, and many of the terms defined in that Glossary are presented on-line at the Web site of the Foundation for A Course in Miracles (http://www.facim.org/~facim/acim/glossary.htm ). Here's the definition of miracle found there:
the change of mind that shifts our perception from the ego's world of sin, guilt, and fear, to the Holy Spirit's world of forgiveness; reverses projection by restoring to the mind its causative function, allowing us to choose again; transcends the laws of this world to reflect the laws of God; accomplished by our joining with the Holy Spirit or Jesus, being the means of healing our own and others' minds.
(Note -- not to be confused with the traditional understanding of miracles as changes in external phenomena.)
Major references: T-1.I; T-2.V.11-18; T-25.IX.5-10; T-27.VI.4-7; T-28.II.4-12; T-30.VIII.3-5; W-pI.159.3-10; W-pII.13; C-2.5-10
For a more thorough discussion, and a good introduction to the entire Course, see Wapnick's The 50 Miracle Principles of ACIM which is available as a book, but also is published on line: http://www.miraclestudies.net/50PrincPreface.html
Also see the book entitled The Most Commonly Asked Questions about ACIM which is also published on the Web: http://www.miraclestudies.net/QuestIndx.html
Although it is clear that the "miracle" that the Course speaks of is a change of mind, still the question of whether the "miracle" changes the physical world frequently comes up in discussions about the Course. It's an important question and one that I think can promote a lot of confusion about the metaphysics and message of the Course. There have been times when I've wished that Jesus had chosen another title for his Course, but I think the choice was intentional precisely because Christianity, and the Catholic church in particular, has focused so much on the kind of miracles that involve changes in the circumstances of the world and the condition of the body.
The religions of the world generally focus on form over content. Christianity, as it has traditionally been taught and practiced, is very much a religion of form and formalities. It is a religion with considerable focus on the body, including the body of Jesus who says in the Course:
I do not want to share my body in communion because this is to share nothing. Would I try to share an illusion with the most holy children of a most holy Father? Yet I do want to share my mind with you because we are of one Mind, and that Mind is ours" (T-7.V.10:7-9).
God does not share His function with a body (T-23.IV.3:1).
The Course says the world is not only an illusory projection in the mind, but that time and space are part of that illusion. Jesus says "The world was over long ago" (T-28.I.1:6), as well as that the script which we think of as our lives is already written. It says that in our dream lives, where the illusion of forgiveness is necessary and helpful, we are really undertaking "a journey without distance" (T-8.VI.9:7). It is a journey that is already over (T-18.VIII.13; T-26.V.14:4; W-pI.158.3:6).
The Course is basically telling us that the dream never happened because it comes from an impossible idea (separation), and it involves time, which is not real. If the Atonement principle is true, time and space are not true; therefore it is not possible to change what happens in the dream (a script already written; a journey already over).
Change takes place in time and space, but God is changeless -- eternal. Time and space are not real. The language of duality, which speaks of creation in terms of change, cannot describe Heaven and what the Course calls "knowledge."
In working with the Course, it is important to keep in mind this very important statement: "seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world" (T-21.IN.1:7). Jesus makes it very clear that there is no point in trying to change the world, which means that it is a mistake to attempt to use the Course to heal the body; to obtain money; to find a special love partner, desired job, house, pleasant location in which to live; or to fulfill any of the other specialness goals sought after in service of our ego self identity. Peace and happiness can never be found in an illusory world which arises from the mistaken belief in separation from God -- separation from Love.
Peace and happiness are found only in our mind, regardless of what happens in the world. That's why the Course teaches us about the "miracle" which is a change of mind. It is in our mind where healing is needed and can take place. Once the mind is healed, the dream world disappears back into nothingness.
(In truth, the mind cannot sleep and dream (see Workbook Lesson #167. We really cannot understand that, and I think it's best to accept that.)
Within the illusion where time and change seem real, it certainly does seem that a change of mind leads to a change in the dream. Form (i.e., appearances, what is perceived) seems to change. For those with a serious interest in the Course, instead of getting caught up in confusion and debate about whether a miracle changes form, I suggest that it is best to focus on learning how to allow that change of mind which the Course calls a "miracle," without having any investment in the outcome other than caring to be at peace. It is the mind-changing "miracle" that makes forgiveness possible in our dream world, so that is what a student of the Course ought to be concerned about.
Our ego very much wants us to be concerned about healing the body and changing the circumstances of the world in which the body lives. That focus keeps us distracted from mind, which is the cause of everything that seems to happen to us, and is the source of true peace. The mind is the ego's cause, so of course our ego identity wants to keep us unaware of mind and focused on the world, which is effect not cause. The miracle the Course speaks of means the end of the ego thought system in our mind: "The ego's opposite in every way, - in origin, effect and consequence - we call a miracle" (C-2.5:1).
The ego's goal -- our goal when we identify as ego -- is to keep us unaware of mind; to keep ourselves effectively mindless!
A student of the Course is invited to focus on learning how to undo his or her identification with the ego thought system, which is characterized by self-centeredness, focusing on the self-centered needs of the body and personality, or the psychological self. Undoing the ego is what allows the Holy Spirit thought system (represented by Jesus) to be our guide. Confusion can arise if one requires changes in form (e.g., physical health, material circumstances) as a criterion for the miracle; if one become focused on the outer rather than on the inner (i.e., content, mind).
It is rather easy to confuse the ego's goals with the goal of the miracle, which is peace no matter what happens outwardly. From an ego point of view, the question arises: "Who wants a "miracle" that offers peace of mind without being concerned about changing the world or the body?"
The body may or may not appear to be healed as a result of genuine forgiveness resulting from the change of mind which is the miracle, but healing of the body is not a criterion for whether forgiveness has taken place. A person with a sick and dying body may still have a healed mind and be at peace. A person may live in poverty and still be at peace, and there are many stories about people who found their way to be at peace in the worst of circumstances, such as those of the WW II Nazi concentration camps. In any case, according to A Course in Miracles, changes in physical circumstances are an illusion -- scenarios in a dream which is already over.
The body which seems to live will seem to die. The miracle and forgiveness won't prevent that. But they will undo the belief that the body is truly alive and therefore truly capable of dying. Life and death of the body are both part of the illusion that arises from the belief in separation from God, as is a sense of lack and deprivation. The Course asks its students to focus on undoing the belief in separation, which means to undo our investment in the ego thought system with its fear and guilt, its sense of lack and its dedication to death:
When your body and your ego and your dreams are gone, you [mind - Son of God] will know that you will last forever. Perhaps you think this is accomplished through death, but nothing is accomplished through death, because death is nothing. Everything is accomplished through life, and life is of the mind and in the mind. The body neither lives nor dies, because it cannot contain you [mind - Son of God] who are life" (ACIM Text-6.V(A).1:1-4; brackets mine).
Whatever is true is eternal, and cannot change or be changed (ACIM Text-1.V.5:1).
Who is the "you" who are living in this world? Spirit is immortal, and immortality is a constant state. It is as true now as it ever was or ever will be, because it implies no change at all. It is not a continuum, nor is it understood by being compared to an opposite. Knowledge never involves comparisons. That is its main difference from everything else the mind can grasp (ACIM Text-4.II.11:8-13).
The changes the ego seeks to make are not really changes. They are but deeper shadows, or perhaps different cloud patterns. Yet what is made of nothingness cannot be called new or different. Illusions are illusions; truth is truth" (ACIM Psychotherapy Pamphlet-2.I.2:6-9).
Mon, May 28th - 8:18AM
ACIM Basics #6 - Forgiveness
What does the Course teach about forgiveness and
A helpful answer to this question may be found on a Web site
dedicated to the Course's teachings about forgiveness. That site is
found at: www.miraclestudies.net/Forgiveness.html There you will find an entire section of the ACIM Workbook which addresses that question.
why are its teachings on this subject described as unique?
The unique aspects of the Course's teachings about forgiveness involve
recognizing that there is no cause for anger, blame and judgment of
others because guilt is not warranted since, in truth (in Heaven) sin
is not possible. In reality, it is not possible to separate from God
and act apart from His Love. Forgiveness is only necessary in our dream
world where the illusion of separation seems to be real. It is the ego
thought system that produces the dream of separation, sin, guilt and
fear that is our world; therefore the process of forgiveness involves undoing the ego which only acquires it seeming power by the fact that we choose to identify with it at the level of mind and spirit.
Furthermore, we are asked in the Course to forgive others for what they have not
done to us. This is understood by remembering that there is, in truth,
no one "out there" to forgive. What we really forgive (or release) are
the projections of guilt we have placed upon figures that we have
scripted to be our special love or special hate partners in our dream
of separation. Therefore, it does not matter if these persons are
physically present, known us personally, merely images we have made
from reading words on a computer screen, or even if their bodies have
died. They continue to be present in our minds through our
unforgiving thoughts, so the opportunity to ask for help to forgive
these thoughts and projected images always remains. Furthermore, it is
certainly true that within the dream of separation that we take to be
life, bodies can attack other bodies; persons can both physically and
psychologically abuse other persons. It does not help to deny this,
which amounts to attempting to deny that we identify as bodies and
separate persons regardless of our spiritual concepts. What forgiveness
is about is recognizing that no matter what others do to me, they and
their actions do not have the power to affect my peace of mind. When I
lose my inner peace it is because I, as mind, have chosen to perceive
things through the eyes of the ego which believes in victimization,
because the ego thought system begins with the idea we victimized the
Oneness of God by separating from Him. How I interpret what goes on in
the dream depends upon my choice between the two thought systems in my
mind: the ego system of separation, fear, victimization and death or
the Holy Spirit thought system of oneness, forgiveness and peace. It
always helps to remember Jesus' attitude toward his crucifixion when
considering this subject of the justification for forgiveness and our
responsibility for our own inner peace:
I elected, for your sake and mine, to demonstrate that the
most outrageous assault, as judged by the ego, does not matter. As the
world judges these things, but not as God knows them, I was betrayed,
abandoned, beaten, torn, and finally killed. It was clear that this was
only because of the projection of others onto me, since I had not
harmed anyone and had healed many....
You are not persecuted, nor was I. You are not asked to repeat my
experiences because the Holy Spirit, Whom we share, makes this
unnecessary. To use my experiences constructively, however, you must
still follow my example in how to perceive them. My brothers and yours
are constantly engaged in justifying the unjustifiable. My one lesson,
which I must teach as I learned it, is that no perception that is out
of accord with the judgment of the Holy Spirit can be justified. I
undertook to show this was true in an extreme case, merely because it
would serve as a good teaching aid to those whose temptation to give in
to anger and assault would not be so extreme....
The message of the crucifixion is perfectly clear:
Teach only love, for that is what you are (T-6.I.9, 11:1-6, 13).
The effects of our forgiveness are fully present in our minds,
which are joined with the minds of others since, in truth, there is
only one mind. If other people choose not to accept our forgiveness in
their dreams, the healed thought in our minds is no less efficacious.
As the Course teaches, the Holy Spirit holds this forgiveness in the
minds of the others until they are ready to accept it. That is the
process Jesus is referring to when he says:
I have saved all your kindnesses and every loving thought
you ever had. I have purified them of the errors that hid their light,
and kept them for you in their own perfect radiance. They are beyond
destruction and beyond guilt (T-5.IV.8:3-5).
The Course refers to "releasing your brother." This phrase is an
example of the metaphorical use of language in the Course. Those who
study A Course in Miracles need to allow themselves to be led beyond the form of its words to the underlying content.
This is a process that occurs slowly over time, beginning with a more
literal understanding of the Course's teachings. At first, therefore,
phrases like "releasing your brother," or parallel ones about being
your brother's "savior," or the workbook emphasis on being the "light
of the world," help students undo their (perhaps unconscious) negative
self-image such as is summarized in workbook Lesson 93:
You think you are the home of evil, darkness and sin. You
think if anyone could see the truth about you he would be repelled,
recoiling from you as if from a poisonous snake. You think if what is
true about you were revealed to you, you would be struck with horror so
intense that you would rush to death by your own hand, living on after
seeing this being impossible" (W-pl.93.1).
It is a healing correction to be told that our thoughts about
ourselves are not true, and that not only are we loved by God as an
extension of His Will (as the rest of the lesson makes clear) but that
we have the power to heal and bless others as well. It is only as one
progresses in ones work with the Course that it becomes clear that the
process of "releasing" one's brother has nothing to do with our
brother, but everything to do with ourselves.
This process of forgiveness can have nothing to do with our brother because in truth it is our dream, and others are but figures in our dream. In one rather strong passage, Jesus asks:
What if you recognized this world is an hallucination? What
if you really understood you made it up? What if you realized that
those who seem to walk about in it, to sin and die, attack and murder
and destroy themselves, are wholly unreal? (T-20.VIII.7:3-5)
In other words, our world and our lives are dreams taking place in our mind,
just as our sleeping dreams, with all their figures and events, are
present only in our dreaming brain. In a sense, our nighttime dreams
are hallucinations and, in a very real sense, so too are the lives we
think we live in bodies in the world.
Since the content of the ego's dream is separation, sin, guilt, fear,
hate, attack, victimization, and unforgiveness, all of our dream
relationships will have those themes scripted throughout the dreaming
we call "life." Since what we think of as life is really our dream,
there is no one to forgive because, all the people in our lives are
simply imaginary figures. It is ourselves who need to be forgiven for
dreaming of separation instead of remembering our Identity as Christ,
Who is awake in God.
Our function of "releasing our brothers" through forgiveness relates to
a function and process that truly occurs only within our minds -- the
home of dreams -- although it is experienced by us as occurring between
two separated individuals. By choosing as our guide the Presence of
love in our mind represented by Jesus, rather than choosing the ego as
our teacher and guide -- by listening to Jesus' gentle voice of
forgiveness instead of the ego's harsh voice of judgment and attack --
we join with Jesus (or What he represents) as expressions of the Alternative
that is in everyone's mind. Thus we become reminders to our brothers
that they can make the same choice we did, and therefore be released
from their guilt. We have all scripted the dream as one Son, although
we seem to have separate dreams and to be separate minds. Since we have
scripted what seem to be others into our respective dreams, we can
choose either to be manifestations of guilt or of forgiveness for one
The process of healing through forgiveness is summarized in this very
clear passage from the Manual for Teachers. This passage discusses the
role of the "teacher of God" (a metaphor for one who chooses to study
the Course and practice forgiveness) when confronted by sickness:
To them [the sick] God's teachers come, to represent
another choice which they had forgotten. The simple presence of a
teacher of God is a reminder... They stand for the Alternative. With
God's Word [the Holy Spirit] in their minds they come in benediction,
not to heal the sick but to remind them of the remedy God has already
given them.... Very gently they call to their brothers to turn away
from death: "Behold, you Son of God, what Life can offer you. Would you
choose sickness in place of this?" (M-5.III.2:1-2, 6-7, 11-12)
A "teacher of God" is a student of the Course who has begun to see
that his or her interests are not separate from or in competition with
anyone else's. He or she saves the world and everyone in it by changing
his or her thoughts about the world; by choosing the thought system of the Holy Spirit rather than the thought system of the ego.
In releasing ourselves from our own guilt, we release the world because
we are one with it, since it is our projection. That is what the Course
means by saying that we "arose with him [Jesus] when he began to save
the world" (C-6.5:5). Our minds are one. Jesus, who remains one with
the Holy Spirit, is the shining reminder in the mind of the Sonship
(our mind) to do the same. The call to remember and to choose love
rather that fear is made when we allow ourselves to be Jesus'
manifestation to our brothers, just as he is the Holy Spirit's
manifestation for us all (see: C-6.5:1-2).
Prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi:Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
...where there is injury, pardon;
...where there is doubt, faith;
...where there is despair, hope;
...where there is darkness, light;
...where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
...to be consoled as to console;
...to be understood as to understand;
...to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
...it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
...and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Sat, May 26th - 6:11AM
ACIM Basics #5 - Creation
How does A Course in Miracles treat the subject of creation?
In A Course in Miracles, "creation" does not refer to anything physical,therefore has nothing to do with what is usually regarded as "creation" in the material or artistic sense. Rather, "creation" involves only spirit. According to the Course, creation can be defined as: "the sum of all God's Thoughts, in number infinite, and everywhere without all limit" (W-pII.11.1:1).
Creation proves reality because it shares the function all creation shares. It is not made of little bits of glass, a piece of wood, a thread or two, perhaps, all put together to attest its truth. Reality does not depend on this. There is no gap that separates the truth from dreams and from illusions. Truth has left no room for them in any place or time. For it fills every place and every time, and makes them wholly indivisible" (T-28.V.6).
"Christ," the one Son of God, is the term the Course uses to denote God's creation. Christ is at one with His Creator, and, "nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him" (W-pI.132.12:4).
Christ and His Father never have been separate, and Christ abides within your understanding, in the part of you that shares His Father's Will. The Holy Spirit links the other part - the tiny, mad desire to be separate, different and special -- to the Christ, to make the oneness clear to what is really one. In this world this is not understood, but can be taught. . . .
It is the Holy Spirit's function to teach you how this oneness is experienced, what you must do that it can be experienced, and where you should go to do it.
All this takes note of time and place as if they were discrete, for while you think that part of you is separate, the concept of a oneness joined as one is meaningless.It is apparent that a mind so split could never be the teacher of a Oneness Which unites all things within Itself. And so What is within this mind, and does unite all things together, must be its Teacher. Yet must It use the language that this mind can understand, in the condition in which it thinks it is. And It must use all learning to transfer illusions tothe truth, taking all false ideas of what you are, and leading you beyond them to the truth that is beyond them. All this can very simply be reduced to this:
What is the same can not be different,
and what is one can not have separate parts
(T-25.I. 5.4-6; 6:4; 7).
While God is "First Cause" and Christ is His Effect, in Heaven, the state of perfect Oneness, there is no separation --no distinction -- between Creator and Created. Cause and Effect are indivisible; unseparated. Furthermore, God's Creation must share in the attributes of Its Source. As the Creator is perfect, changeless, formless spirit, eternal life, and infinite love -- whole and unified within Itself -- so too must be Its Creation. Christ is indistinguishable from God; God and Christ are not bodies. They are not physical and psychological entities with personalities. Consciousness and perception are not attributes of this non-separated state of being or Oneness, but are characteristic of the illusion that arose in the mind with the ego idea of separation (see: T-3.IV.2).
In the section entitled "What Is Creation?", in the second part of the ACIM workbook, we find this summary:
Creation is the opposite of all illusions, for creation is the truth. Creation is the holy Son of God, for in creation is His Will complete in every aspect, making every part container of the Whole. Its oneness is forever guaranteed inviolate; forever held within His holy Will, beyond all possibility of harm, of separation, imperfection and of any spot upon its sinlessness" (W-pII.11.3).
Note that throughout the Course there is a fundamental distinction between "creating" and "making." God "creates" by extending His Mind, or Thought, in an extension of Love that it impossible for human beings to understand. The split mind "makes" illusions via projection which is a misuse of the ability of Mind to extend. Illusions were first "made" by the ego, but the Holy Spirit can correct those illusions and "make" of them a forgiving perception and a forgiven perceptual world called the "real world." God does not "make," He creates. Any reference to God making is metaphorical and is expressing the idea that the Holy Spirit, Who reflects the Love of God in our split mind, can make something loving of what was first made out of guilt and fear. Forgiveness involves making, not creating: "although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness"(W-pI.46.2:1).
Since creation is not confined within the dimensions of space and time, it is not a process that can be understood by the human intellect, conditioned as it is by the concepts of time and space. Creation, as discussed in A Course in Miracles, is a non-spatial, non-temporal, "process" whereby God extends His Being and His Love in an ongoing outpouring of His Self. This is an "outpouring," however, that never leaves His Mind, thus is never outside of Him. Since God's creation, Christ, shares in the attributes of His Creator, Christ likewise creates in the same manner which, to us, is a mysterious, loving extension of Mind as Thought that never leaves its Source. In the Course, it is a fundamental law of mind that, "ideas leave not their source" (T-5.IV.3; T-26.VII.; W-pI.132; W-pI.156; W-pI.167).
The Course explains:
To extend is a fundamental aspect of God which He gave to
His Son. In the creation, God extended Himself to His creations
and imbued them with the same loving Will to create (T-2.1.1:1-2).
God, Who encompasses all being, created beings who have
everything individually, but who want to share it to increase their joy.
Nothing real can be increased [not the same as physical increase
within the illusion of time and space] except by sharing. That is why
God created you [Son of God as Christ]. Divine Abstraction [a state
of being in which there is no individuality, hence the sharing spoken
of is not the same as sharing between individuals that we understand
it in the ego's world] takes joy in sharing. That is what creation
means. "How," "what" and "to whom" are irrelevant, because real creation
gives everything, since it can create only like itself. Remember that in
the Kingdom there is no difference between having and being,
as there is in existence. In the state of being the mind gives
everything always (T-4.VII.5; brackets mine).
... if God created you by extending Himself as you [Christ], you
can only extend yourself as He did. Only joy increases forever,
since joy and eternity are inseparable. God extends outward beyond
limits and beyond time, and you who are co-creator with Him extend
His Kingdom forever and beyond limit (T-7.1.5:2-4).
God's Son will always be indivisible [i.e.: there is no individuality
in Christ]. As we are held as one in God, so do we learn as one in
Him. God's Teacher [Holy Spirit] is as like to His Creator as is His
Son, and through His Teacher does God proclaim His Oneness and
His Son's. Listen in silence, and do not raise your voice [limited to
the symbols of separation or duality] against Him. For He teaches
the miracle of oneness, and before His lesson division disappears.
Teach like Him here, and you will remember that you have always
created like your Father. The miracle of creation has never ceased,
having the holy stamp of immortality upon it [hence has nothing to
do with bodies]. This is the Will of God for all creation, and all
creation joins in willing this (T-14.XI.11; brackets mine).
Truth does not fight against illusions, nor do illusions fight against
the truth. Illusions battle only with themselves. Being fragmented,
they fragment. But truth is indivisible, and far beyond their little
The structure of "individual consciousness" is essentially irrelevant
because it is a concept representing the "original error" or the
"original sin" (C-IN 1:4).
In this world, because the mind is split, the Sons of God appear
to be separate. Nor do their minds seem to be joined. In this illusory
state, the concept of an "individual mind" seems to be meaningful
The Son's creations remain within the One Mind of Christ, as Christ remains within the One Mind of God. Oneness can only remain as One, as this passage from the workbook states:
God's Thoughts [Christ] are given all the power that their own
Creator has. For He would add to Love by its extension. Thus
His Son shares in creation, and must therefore share in power
to create. What God has willed to be forever One will still be
One when time is over; and will not be changed throughout the
course of time, remaining as it was before the thought of time
began (W-pII.11.2; brackets mine).
What is referred to below as the "circle of creation" cannot be understood in physical terms, or in terms of what is understood to be creativity in the world. Here in this world, creator and creation are separate; in Heaven they are one -- a state that is beyond our understanding. The following passages from the text make that clear:
The circle of creation has no end. Its starting and its ending
are the same. But in itself it holds the universe of all creation,
without beginning and without an end (T-28.11.1:6-8).
Your function is to add to God's treasure by creating yours. His
Will to you is His Will for you. He would not withhold
creation from you because His joy is in it. You cannot find joy
except as God does. His joy lay in creating you, and He extends
His Fatherhood to you so that you can extend yourself as He
did. You do not understand this because you do not understand
Him. No one who does not accept his function can understand
what it is, and no one can accept his function unless he knows
what he is (T-8.VI.6:1-7).
Forgiveness, which we can understand, is our function while we believe we are here in the world, and is the process by which we learn to accept our Identity as Christ. It is that acceptance that allows us finally to understand reality and what it means to be as God created us.
In the Course, there is reference to "your creations." The "you" to whom such references are addressed is the Son of God in His true Identity as Christ, certainly not the "you" who thinks it is a body and not even the "you" who experiences itself as a separate mind -- a separate Son. When the Course refers to "your creations," it means the non-spatial, non-temporal, non-separate and non- physical extensions of Christ, Who creates as does His Source:
Because the Sonship must create as one, you remember creation
whenever you recognize part of creation. Each part you remember
adds to your wholeness because each part is whole [which means
that in truth there are no "parts." See workbook Lesson 184]. Wholeness
is indivisible, but you cannot learn of your wholeness until you see it
everywhere. You can know yourself only as God knows His Son, for
knowledge is shared with God (T-9.VI.4:4-7). [Note: knowledge has
nothing to do with perception. Knowledge is wholeness and in knowledge
there is no separation, hence no differences. Creator and creation are
not different. It is only the forms of language that make it seem so.]
Since it is the nature of the Love of Heaven to extend itself in what the Course refers to as the "process of creation," and since Christ is One with His Creator -- like Him in all ways -- He too participates in the process of creation by extending His Love. Again, it is the extensions of Christ's Love that A Course in Miracles terms "creations,"and again, our creations have no parallel with anything in the physical world, just as God's creation, Christ, has no parallel with anything in the physical world, including Homo sapiens which are not a creation of God. Our function as Christ creating in Heaven has nothing in common with activity the world usually considers to be "creative," such as artistic creativity, creating a baby, having a creative idea, etc.
As extensions of Christ, our "creations" can be understood as being part of the Second Person of the Course's Trinity, our "sons" as it were, as seen in these two passages from the text:
God wants only His Son because His Son is His only treasure.
You want your creations as He wants His. Your creations are your
gift to the Holy Trinity, created in gratitude for your creation. They
do not leave you any more than you left your Creator, but they
extend your creation as God extended Himself to you (T-8.VI.5:1-4).
Your creations belong in you, as you belong in God. You are
part of God, as your sons are part of His Sons. To create is to
love. Love extends outward simply because it cannot be contained.
Being limitless it does not stop. It creates forever, but not in time.
God's creations have always been, because He has always been.
Your creations have always been, because you can create only as
God creates. Eternity is yours, because He created you eternal (T-7.1.3).
In the following passages, our "creations" are metaphorically described as waiting to welcome us to wholeness or completion as we cross the "bridge" between perception and knowledge. (In the Course, the Holy Spirit is sometimes described as that "bridge, as is the "real world" of healed perception and total forgiveness.) As our creations are extensions of love, so do they call to us as love calls to love (see: T-13.VII.4).
Heaven waits silently, and your creations are holding out
their hands to help you cross and welcome them. For it is
they you seek. You seek but for your own completion, and
it is they who render you complete.
Across the bridge is your completion, for you will be wholly
in God, willing for nothing special, but only to be wholly like
to Him, completing Him by your completion. Fear not to cross
to the abode of peace and perfect holiness. Only there is the
completion of God and of His Son established forever. Seek
not for this in the bleak world of illusion, where nothing is
certain and where everything fails to satisfy. In the Name of
God, be wholly willing to abandon all illusions. In any relationship
in which you are wholly willing to accept completion, and only
this, there is God completed, and His Son with Him.
The bridge that leads to union in yourself must lead to
knowledge, for it was built with God beside you, and will lead you
straight to Him where your completion rests, wholly compatible
with His (T-16.IV.8:1-10:1).
Fri, May 25th - 4:15PM
ACIM Basics - A Simple, Practical Statement
In the process of posting this series on the basic teachings of A Course in Miracles, a more simple, practical way to state the ACIM basics occurred to me. I will continue to review the basics of the thought system which are the underpinning for understanding and practicing the Course, but I thought it would be useful to make a more simple statement at this point.
First of all, however, I want to point out that the Course does not pretend to be the only path to enlightenment. The Course honors the fact that there are many paths up the mountain of enlightenment, while also recognizing that, at the top of that mountain, the view and understanding are similar for all. The content of love in our mind, toward which the spiritual seeker is directed, is the same for all. Forms are different and may change -- concepts, words, spiritual practices differ, but the truth of Oneness which is the essence of Love remains the same for all, regardless of differing forms.
Now, with respect to the simplicity of the Course, in spite of its seeming complexity, consider the following excerpted passages:
This is a very simple course (ACIM Text-11.VIII.1:1; italics mine).
The reason this course is simple is that truth is simple (ACIM Text-15.IV.6:1).
Like the text for which this workbook was written, the ideas used for the exercises are very simple, very clear and totally unambiguous. We are not concerned with intellectual feats nor logical toys. We are dealing only in the very obvious, which has been overlooked in the clouds of complexity in which you think you think (ACIM Workbook-pI.39).
You have surely begun to realize that this is a very practical course, and one that means exactly what it says (ACIM Text-8.IX.8:1).
This course offers a very direct and a very simple learning situation, and provides the Guide [i.e., Holy Spirit, or the thought system of the Atonement, in our mind] Who tells you what to do (ACIM Text-9.V.9:1; brackets mine).
This course makes no attempt to teach what cannot easily be learned. Its scope does not exceed your own, except to say that what is yours [i.e., the awareness of Oneness and Love, which are our "natural inheritance"] will come to you when you are ready (ACIM Text-24.VII.8:1-2).
In our dream of separation, forgiveness is possible because, in truth, separation from God (i.e., sin) is not possible -- in Truth.
As a student of the Course, I try to remember that I am only responsible for accepting the Atonement (the truth that separation is not possible) in my own mind. That is the only responsibility that Jesus asks of me. In my experience, that is an ongoing process, but it involves a willingness to be alert to all the many ways in which I would choose the ego (i.e., separation) rather than the Holy Spirit on a moment-to-moment, day-to-day basis. Along with that responsibility, the only function Jesus asks me to fulfill in this illusion of life is that of forgiveness, and I can only fulfill that function as I am able to accept the Atonement in any given moment. How forgiveness works through me -- the form it takes -- in any specific situation is not my responsibility. All that is necessary is my willingness to remove the interference to being guided by love. I never know in advance what form forgiveness might take, but I do know that every relationship in my life offers lessons in forgiveness.
I do not think that the Course is about saving the world or saving others. The Course is not for everybody. It's a long story how I wound up doing what I do on the Internet, but I am clear that I am only offering an understanding of the Course to those who seek it and can make use of it, and I'm clear that whatever else, I am always offering that understanding to myself -- an understanding that needs to reach my heart and which is of no real value if it only remains at the head level.
I think that being what the Course calls a "teacher of God" is not a big deal. It simply means that one is willing to learn how to accept the Atonement and then practice forgiveness in ones daily life. Accepting the Atonement is how I can allow myself to be an instrument of peace and love. I don't know ahead of time what that might look like at the level form: the level of of the world and behavior. I surely do not know what it will look like for someone else.
I have sometimes felt that the most loving thing to do was to contribute money to a charity which tries to be of help to people in various situations of distress. But, I have never felt guided to become a spiritual leader or formal teacher of the Course for such people, nor do I ever think of myself as a "teacher of God" in any formal sense. I am aware that the most important way I teach is by example, and that whatever I do, I am always teaching myself. As the course clearly points out: teaching and learning are the same; giving and receiving are the same. Rather than thinking of myself as a "teacher of God," I think in terms of being "truly helpful" according to the following little prayer. It's the same thing, but the title "teacher of God" sounds pretentious to me while thinking about being "truly helpful" seems closer to what is involved in being a student of ACIM.
I am here only to be truly helpful.
I am here to represent Him Who sent me.
I do not have to worry about what to say or
what to do, because He Who sent me will direct me.
I am content to be wherever He wishes, knowing
He goes there with me.
I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal"
Sun, May 20th - 1:59PM
ACIM Basics #4 - The Nature of Life
What is the nature of life according to the Course?
The true "life," which is created by God, and which is of His living Spirit, has nothing to do with what we regard as life in the world, according to A Course in Miracles. That life which is the nature of God and Heaven is spirit: non-material, without opposite, and eternal. Perhaps the clearest statement in the Course about the nature of life -- what it is and what it is not -- comes in a passage from "The Laws of Chaos," which is section II of Text Chapter 23. The section begins with a gentle mockery of our worship of the body and belief in its life:
Can you paint rosy lips upon a skeleton, dress it in loveliness, pet it and pamper it, and make it live? And can you be content with an illusion that you are living?
There is no life outside of Heaven. Where
God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven
[i.e., the physical universe] life is illusion. At best it seems like
life; at worst, like death. Yet both are judgments on what is not life,
equal in their inaccuracy and lack of meaning. Life not in Heaven is
impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere. Outside of
Heaven, only the conflict of illusion stands; senseless, impossible and
beyond all reason, and yet perceived as an eternal barrier to Heaven.
Illusions are but forms. Their content is never true
In the Course, Jesus explains that the nature of life is Oneness with our Source in Heaven where the Mind of Christ and the Mind of God are One, and there is no illusion of a mind separate from that Oneness, let alone illusion of a separate body which seems to live on its own apart from totality.
Another very significant and telling passage in the Course states:
When your body and your ego and your dreams are gone, you will know that you will last forever. Perhaps you think this is accomplished through death, but nothing is accomplished through death, because death is nothing. Everything is accomplished through life, and life is of the mind and in the mind. The body neither lives nor dies, because it cannot contain you who are life (T-6.V(A).1:1-4).
In the Course, Life, spirit, and Mind are essentially synonymous terms, sharing the characteristics of formlessness, changelessness, and eternal life. In the world, what is identified as life in the body, with characteristics such as brain waves and heartbeats, is not what the Course means by life. For instance, workbook Lesson 167 is entitled: "There is one life, and that I share with God."
From the perspective of the Course, what we regard as life -- a physical, biological and psychological individual self -- is a parody of our true life in the Self of Christ that God created as a non-separate extension of Himself, within and not separate from, His Mind..
Without an understanding of how life is regarded in A Course in Miracles, those who undertake to study the Course may very well confuse themselves, both in understanding the Course's non-dualistic metaphysical teachings, and in applying the practical teachings about forgiveness in their personal lives, since the metaphysical foundation supports the unique understanding and practice of forgiveness taught in ACIM.
I think that accurately understanding the metaphysical teachings of the Course is important for at least three reasons that I can identify:
1. They help us to understand why the world is the way it is and why our personal lives are the way they are ("The world you see is the delusional system of those made mad by guilt" T-13.IN. 2:2);
2 They help us to understand why it is that what we forgive our brother for is what he has NOT done: we are forgiving our own self-accusations and guilt projected outward;
3. They help us to understand that we ourselves do not do forgiveness; that as separate individuals who have a personality and a body we are not important and are not in charge of either the Atonement or forgiveness. In other words, we are not special and that to the extent we think we are, we will interfere with forgiveness, therefore impede our own ability to accept the Atonement.
Some relevant quotes from the Course:
The body was not made by love. Yet love does not condemn it and can use it lovingly, respecting what the Son of God has made and using it to save him from illusions.
Would you not have the instruments of separation reinterpreted as means for salvation, and used for purposes of love?...
It is insane to use the body as the scapegoat for guilt, directing its attack [whether upon yourself or the self of another whom you think is separate from you] and blaming it for what you wished it to do (T-18.VI.4:7-5:1; 6:1).
A concept of the self [both of what you think is yourself as well as what you think is the self of another] is made by you. It bears no likeness to yourself at all. It is an idol, made to take the place of your reality as Son of God. The concept of the self the world would teach is not the thing that it appears to be (T-31.V.2:1-4).
Your image of yourself [and others, including God and Jesus] cannot withstand the Will of God....
The self you made is not the Son of God. Therefore, this self does not exist at all. And anything it seems to do and think means nothing. It is neither bad nor good. It is unreal, and nothing more than that. . . . What power can this self you made possess, when it would contradict the Will of God? (W-pI.93. 4:2, 5:1-5, 9).
Sat, May 19th - 7:30PM
ACIM Basics #3 - The Nature of Reality
According to the Course, what is the nature of reality?This is a metaphysical question, metaphysics being that branch of philosophy which deals with fundamental questions about the nature of reality. One dictionary definition of "metaphysics is:
1. (used with a sing. verb) Philosophy The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and value.
2. (used with a pl. verb) The theoretical or first principles of a particular discipline: the metaphysics of law.
3. (used with a sing. verb) A priori speculation upon questions that are unanswerable to scientific observation, analysis, or experiment.
from the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language,
Fourth Edition. Copyright 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
In the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles, reality is essentially God, Who is the only Reality and Who encompasses all that He creates in a non-dimensional state of "being" that is impossible for us to understand. Various names are given to the creations of God (e.g., Christ, Holy Spirit, Mind, Heaven) but that is only because our limited, dualistic form of communication requires word symbols. True communication is non-symbolic: direct communion taking place within the unified Mind and without the necessity of symbols. God's "knowledge" includes the fact of innocence which is the Atonement principle of the Course that separation (sin) is impossible. "Holy Spirit" is a word symbol for that aspect of "knowledge," and should not be taken as a symbol for something separate, but simply as an aspect of the truth that "God is," and that that truth can never be lost: "The innocence of God is the true state of the mind of His Son. In this state your mind knows God, for God is not symbolic; He is Fact" (T-3.I.8:1).
In our separated state, we are generally incapable of that form of communication Jesus calls "communion" in the Course, so we must settle for that very limited form of communication that uses symbols such as words. Jesus must accommodate our limitations in order to reach us, but I think one must be careful not to get caught up in the semantic details of word symbols when reading the Course so that one can penetrate to the content -- the deeper spiritual meaning -- that the words attempt to convey. And one must be very clear about recognizing when Jesus is using words in a metaphorical sense rather than a literal sense. Most misunderstandings of the message of the Course, and the resulting arguments, come from a failure to appreciate the limitations of word symbols, as well as a failure to recognize when statements are metaphorical rather than literal.
In general, any statement that implies that separation is real is metaphorical. Any statement that implies that God's knowledge includes separation, the body, the individual person or the world is metaphorical. It is not uncommon to interpret statements in the Course about God having only one Son to mean that there must somehow be separation between God and His Son -- a difference that God knows about and perceives, or that Christ perceives; that what is meant by "knowledge" somehow includes consciousness and awareness of an "other." It is only the necessity of using word symbols that reinforces this kind of limited human conception. Again, words are the communication tools of separation; dualistic symbols which cannot go beyond duality.
Following are some quoted passages from the Course material that have a bearing on this tendency to interpret dualistic sounding metaphors as meaning that separation -- duality -- is the nature of reality. I have inserted several bracketed comments.
God does not know of separation. ["Knowledge" does not include separation, therefore it cannot include consciousness and perception. See: T-3.IV.2] What He knows is only that He has one Son [but note that "knowledge" of one Son is knowledge of oneness, it is not perception of otherness]. . . .God comes to him who calls, and in Him he [the Son who called] recognizes Himself [Christ Who is one with God] (P-2.VII.1:11, 13-14).
It should especially be noted that God has only one Son. If all His creations are His Sons, every one must be an integral part of the whole Sonship. The Sonship in its oneness transcends the sum of its parts. However, this is obscured [to the split-minded Sonship, not to God] as long as any of its parts is missing [i.e., as long any mind believes that it is separate]. That is why the conflict cannot ultimately be resolved until all the parts of the Sonship have returned [but that "return" takes place only in one mind, which is why our only responsibility is to accept the Atonement in what seems to be our own mind]. Only then can the meaning of wholeness in the true sense be understood [by you as mind and the Son of God]. Any part of the Sonship can believe in error or incompleteness if he so chooses. However, if he does so, he is believing in the existence of nothingness. The correction of this error is the Atonement (T-2.VII.6).
If God has but one Son, there is but one God. You share reality with Him, because reality is not divided (T-10.III.10:1).
What is one cannot be perceived as separate, and the denial of the separation [which is what the Atonement does] is the reinstatement of knowledge. At the altar of God [i.e., the mind], the holy perception of God's Son [perception informed by the Holy Spirit -- "vision," "true perception," the "vision of Christ"] becomes so enlightened that light streams into it, and the spirit of God's Son shines in the Mind of the Father and becomes one with it. [This describes the transition from the "real world," which is still a perceptual illusion, to the world of "knowledge," or God's Mind.] Very gently does God shine upon Himself, loving the extension of Himself that is His Son (T-12.VI.7:1).
Reality as defined by A Course in Miracles is not physical, has no dimension, and cannot be perceived. It is not a phenomenon of time and space. Reality is created by God, and what God creates is like Himself (e.g., see: T-8.II.7:6; C-1.1:3; and many other passages throughout the Course). God is pure Spirit or Mind: formless, changeless, eternal, infinite Love, limitless unified perfection -- a Oneness Whose creations are not only like Him, but are in no way separate from Him.
There is no separation or multiplicity in the oneness of God and the Reality which is His Creation. Reality in the Course is synonymous with "Heaven" which obviously cannot be related in any way to the universe of form and perception that we generally call "reality."
Being changeless, separation, which is change, is impossible. Thus, what appears to change is not real, was not created by God, and is merely an illusion that in truth (and paradoxically, in terms of our conventional, linear-time bound way of thinking) never happened at all. So, time and space which are based on the belief in separation and change, are not part of Reality.
For time and space are one illusion, which takes different forms. If it has been projected beyond your mind you think of it as time. The nearer it is brought to where it is, the more you think of it in terms of space (T-26.VIII.1:3-5).
Let us return the dream he gave away unto the dreamer, who perceives the dream as separate from himself and done to him. Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects. Together, we can laugh them both away, and understand that time cannot intrude upon eternity. It is a joke to think that time can come to circumvent eternity, which means there is no time (T-27.VIII.6).
God holds your future as He holds your past and present. They are one to Him, and so they should be one to you. Yet in this world, the temporal progression still seems real. And so you are not asked to understand the lack of sequence really found in time. You are but asked to let the future go, and place it in God's Hands. And you will see by your experience that you have laid the past and present in His Hands as well (W-pI.194.4:1-6).
In order to understand the teaching-learning plan of salvation, it is necessary to grasp the concept of time that the course sets forth. Atonement corrects illusions, not truth. Therefore, it corrects what never was. Further, the plan for this correction was established and completed simultaneously, for the Will of God is entirely apart from time. So is all reality, being of Him. The instant the idea of separation entered the mind of God's Son, in that same instant was God's Answer given. In time this happened very long ago. In reality it never happened at all. The world of time is the world of illusion (M-2.2-3:1).
As a non-dualistic (non-separated) state, Reality is unable to be perceived since perception presupposes a subject-object dichotomy which is inherently dualistic -- which has separate parts that can interact -- and so cannot be real. As I have already said, in A Course in Miracles, true reality is synonymous with what is termed "knowledge," the state of being that is Heaven or the Mind of God (see "Perception versus Knowledge," T-3.III).
Again, refer to the Introduction to the ACIM text and note its profound, radical implications:
This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.
What is truly real -- that true Reality which is God and of God -- cannot be threatened. Nothing which can be threatened is real, therefore nothing which can be threatened is a creation of God.
In the next to last chapter of the ACIM text is a section entitled, "Changeless Reality" which provides a summary statement about the nature of that true reality which is God and of God. The following quote is from that section:
Reality is changeless. It is this that makes it real, and keeps it separate from all appearances. It must transcend all form to be itself. It cannot change. The miracle is means to demonstrate that all appearances can change because they are appearances, and cannot have the changelessness reality entails....
Reality is changeless. Miracles but show what you have interposed between reality and your awareness is unreal, and does not interfere at all (T-30.VIII.1:6-2:1; 4:1-2).
Below are some relevant definitions from Kenneth Wapnick's Glossary-Index for A Course in Miracles with major Course references:
knowledge (Level I - Heaven): the activating agent of spirit, to which it is roughly equivalent, supplying its creative energy.
perception(Level II - illusion): the agent of choice; we are free to believe that our minds can be separated or split off from the Mind of God (wrong-mindedness), or that they can be returned to it (right-mindedness); thus, the split mind can be understood as having three parts: the wrong mind, the right mind, and the part of the mind (decision maker) that chooses between them; not to be confused with the brain, which is a physical organ and thus an aspect of our bodily self.
see: Mind of God (below)
Major references: T-2.IV.2-4; T-7.VI.4-9; T-8.IV.3-6; T-18.VI.2-8; T-31.III.3-5; W-pI.135.4-13; W.pI.132; M-5.II.1-2; M-8.3-4, 6; P-2.VI.3
Mind of God -
equated with the creative function of God which represents the activating agent of spirit, supplying its creative energy; as an extension of God, the Mind of Christ -- God's Thought -- shares in the attributes of the Mind of God -- One-mindedness; after the separation, the Mind of Christ appeared to be split in two: Mind and mind.
Major references: T-5.I.5; T-5.II.10-12; T.11.I.3-6; W-pI.45
Heaven, or the pre-separation world of God and His unified creation in which there are no differences or forms, and thus it is exclusive of the world of perception; not to be confused with the common use of " knowledge," which implies the dualism of a subject who knows and an object which is known; in the Course it reflects the pure experience of non-duality, with no subject-object dichotomy.
(see: Heaven - below)
Major references: T-3.III; T-6.II.7; W-pI.198.2-3; W-pI.43.1; C-4
the non-dualistic world of knowledge, wherein dwell God and His creation in the perfect unity of His Will and spirit; though exclusive of the world of perception, Heaven can be reflected here in the holy relationship and that state of mind called the "real world."
Major references: T-4.III.1; T-5.IV.1-3; T-7.I.2-6; T-18.I.11; T-30.V.3-4; W-pI.138
Fri, May 18th - 4:19PM
ACIM Basics #2 - The Nature of God: What God is not
What God Is Not and Does Not
The Course says relatively little about what God is, but does say quite a bit about what He is not, knows not, and does not do. In fact, there is no reason to think that God "does" anything that is in any way comprehensible to the human brain and its usual understanding of "doing," which is a word symbol tied to the illusory, perceptual dimensions of time and space.
"Doing" -- behavior -- takes place in time and space, but the God spoken of in ACIM is not part of those illusory dimensions, therefore it is meaningless to speak of God as behaving or "doing" something. Knowledge* does not do anything (T-3.IV.6:8).
This is another way of pointing out that the ego-structured thought system of separation which we all share and which is the framework for both scientific and philosophical inquiry -- that thought system cannot possibly lead to an understanding of what it means to say that "God creates." The creating that God "does" is not a behavior, and in any case, God is not a body or any kind of form that can behave. That is why the most meaningful statement we can make about God is the one found in Lesson 169: "God is." A similar statement would be: "Love is." Likewise we could say: "Mind is;" "Heaven is;" "Being is, existence is not."
All of philosophy, science and any form of human inquiry is basically a statement that says we lack knowledge: we do not know who we are. Philosophy and science begin with the principle of intelligibility, which assumes that life, and explanations of life, can make rational sense within the framework of a linear intelligence that assumes the reality of time and space. But with ACIM one comes to a point of unintelligibility and the intellectual processes of the brain fail us. Concepts, or beliefs about God and morality are important elements in maintaining ego identity, but concepts and beliefs are of the separated, perceptual mind and are not part of what the Course means by God's "knowledge."
It would be unfair indeed if belief in God were necessary . . . Nor is
belief in God a really meaningful concept, for God can be but known.
Belief implies that unbelief is possible, but knowledge of God has
no true opposite [because in knowledge there is no separation, no
differences, and therefore no possibility of opposition]. Not to know
God is to have no knowledge, and it is to this that all unforgiveness
[e.g., the ego thought system] leads. And without knowledge one can
have only belief" (Psychotherapy Pamphlet-2.II.4:3-7; italics and
There is no need to further clarify what no one in the world can
understand. When revelation of your oneness comes, it will be known
and fully understood. Now we have work to do, for those in time can
speak of things beyond, and listen to words which explain what is to
come is past already. Yet what meaning can the words convey to those
who count the hours still, and rise and work and go to sleep by them?"
A Course in Miracles invites humility with respect to human intelligence, our entire framework for thinking and every concept upon which we have learned to depend. The frame of reference for thinking that we have learned to use is very limited, and in fact was made to be a limit on our mind -- a limit on the mind of the Son of God -- which is why Jesus tells us: "To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold" (T-24.IN.2:1). It is why he also says in many places throughout the Course that the body (which includes the brain and its intellect) was made to be a limit on love and a limit on the ability of our mind to communicate. True communication within the unified mind is "communion." (See: T-8.VII; T-18.VI; T-18.VIII; W-pI.199)
The Workbook continually invites us into a space that would silence our chattering brain if we could allow it. In one lesson its invitation to humility and silence is very clear:
Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you
are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world;
all images you hold about yourself. Empty your mind of everything
it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it
judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. Hold onto
nothing. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor
one belief you ever learned before from anything. Forget this world,
forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.
Is it not He Who knows the way to you? You need not know the
way to Him. Your part is simply to allow all obstacles that you have
interposed between the Son and God the Father to be quietly removed
Again, recall Lesson 169: "We say 'God is,' and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless" (W-pI.169.5:1-4).
Knowledge of God is beyond learning. Which, again, is what is implied at the beginning of the ACIM Text where it is stated in the introduction: "The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does, however, aim at removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence, which is your natural inheritance" (T-In.1:6-7).
What the Course does tell us about God is very important and very encouraging. It tells us that God is Love; that His Love has not been alienated or threatened; that God has not been harmed by our ego imaginings about sin (separation), guilt and fear; and that God is not angry, but loves His Son (us) who only needs to wake up from his dream of separation to return to the Christ knowledge of that Love. God has not been harmed and he has not condemned His Son who seemed to take the idea of separation (sin) seriously. God's knowledge does not include the idea of sin (separation).
To our ego there is a considerable amount of bad news in the Course. The bad news is that God is not present in the dream to serve our special needs which seem to accompany being a body that depends on things like food, air, water, money and physical safety. The reality of God is Oneness in which there is no room for our individuality, and we can't even imagine what it is like to be Christ at One with God in Heaven, even though that is our true nature and natural inheritance. As an experiment, try imagining what it is like to be a "Thought of God:"
Can you who see yourself within a body know yourself as an idea?
Everything you recognize you identify with externals, something outside
itself. You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form
you think you recognize.
The body [include 'brain'] cannot know (T-18.VIII.1:5-2:1; brackets and italics mine).
And God does not know of us who have identified with lifeless puppet bodies that symbolize separation from Him (T-6.V(A).1:4; T-15.IX.2:3).
But, we (as mind) have not been left comfortless while we dream of the ego's cheap substitute for life separate from Heaven. It is not truly possible for us to live apart from mind, as the ego attempts to do in the body and the world. And it is not possible for mind to separate from Mind, so that there remains in our mind the memory of God and the certainty that we cannot be separate. In the Course, that memory and the knowledge of the Atonement is called the "Holy Spirit" Whom Jesus manifests to us in a more personal form.
God is outside of, and far beyond, our dream of separation. As the Son of God we can be very thankful for that; but as ego, that seems like very bad news.
God does not know of separation. What He knows is only
that He has one Son" (P-2.VII.1:11-12).
The ego mind that thinks only in terms of separation will take this statement to mean that there must be two separate identities: a Father and a Son. The ego does the same thing with statements about God creating the Holy Spirit, failing to recognize that it does not understand what "God creating" means. It is important to remember that the ego mind, confined to the use of words and other symbols of separation, leads us into serious difficulties in understanding the Course. It may be helpful to note that related to this statement, we find the following in the Workbook:
What He creates is not apart from Him, and nowhere does the
Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him
So the Thought that has the power to heal the split became a
part of every fragment of the mind that still was one, but failed to
recognize its oneness (W-pII.2.2:4).
"What God has willed to be forever one will still be one when time is
over; and will not be changed throughout the course of time,
remaining as it was before the thought of time began (W-pII.11.2:4).
Below are some more passages from the Course which are bad news for our ego, but good news for us as the Son of God. These statements occur in a context which is hopeful. I have distilled them from their context so that their more stark message cannot be ignored. It is important to read these statements as being addressed to "you" who is mind and the Son of God, not to the "you" who is a body with a brain and a worldly personal identity. Bracketed comments are mine:
What God did not create does not exist. And everything that
does exist exists as He created it. The world you see has nothing
to do with reality. It is of your own making, and it does not
There is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life, there
life must be. In any state apart from Heaven life is illusion. At best
it seems like life; at worst, like death. Yet both are judgments on
what is not life, equal in their inaccuracy and lack of meaning. Life
not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere
God did not make the body, because it is destructible, and
therefore not of the Kingdom (T-6.V(A).2:1).
The body [e.g., brain] cannot know. And while you limit your
awareness to its tiny senses, you will not see the grandeur that
surrounds you. God cannot come into a body, nor can you join
Him there (T-18.VIII. 2:1-3).
God does not share His function with a body. . . . Life makes
not death, creating like itself (T-23.IV.3:1,7).
God knows not form. [Therefore does not know of words, or
of the perceived world, or of human bodies.] He cannot answer
you in terms that have no meaning. . . . Creation gives no separate
person and no separate thing the power to complete the Son
of God (T-30.III.4:5-6, 9).
Perception is not an attribute of God. His is the realm of
knowledge. . . . In God you cannot see. Perception has no
function in God, and does not exist (W-pI.43.1:1-2; 2:1-2).
God does not understand words, for they were made by
separated minds to keep them in the illusion of separation
God does not understand your problem in communication, for
He does not share it with you. . . .
In the Holy Spirit alone lies the awareness of what God cannot
know, and what you do not understand (T-15.VIII. 5:6; 6:1).
God does not help because He knows no need (C-5.1:7).
God does not wait, for waiting implies time and He is timeless
God does not guide, because He can share only perfect knowledge.
Guidance is evaluative, because it implies there is a right way and
also a wrong way . . . (T-5.II.5.1:1-2).
God does not teach. To teach is to imply a lack, which God
knows is not there. God is not conflicted. Teaching aims at
change, but God created only the changeless (T-6.IV.12:1-4).
God does not know of learning. Yet His Will extends to what
He does not understand, in that He wills the happiness His Son
inherited of Him be undisturbed . . . . God sees no contradictions.
Yet His Son believes he sees them. Thus he has a need for One Who
can correct his erring sight, and give him vision that will lead
him back to where perception ceases. God does not perceive at all
God does not forgive because He has never condemned. . . . Yet
although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the
basis of forgiveness (W-pI.46.1:1; 2:1).
God does not take steps, because His accomplishments are not
gradual. He does not teach, because His creations are changeless.
He does nothing last, because He created first and for always. It
must be understood that the word "first" as applied to Him is not a
time concept. . . . What is timeless is always there, because its
being is eternally changeless. It does not change by increase,
because it was forever created to increase. . . . God does not
reveal this to you because it was never hidden. His light was
never obscured, because it is His Will to share it. How can what
is fully shared be withheld and then revealed?
(T-7.I.7:1-4, 9-10, 13-15)
*Definition of knowledge from Wapnick's Glossary-Index for ACIM: "Heaven, or the pre-separation
world of God and His unified creation in which there are no differences or forms, and thus it is exclusive
of the world of perception; not to be confused with the common use of "knowledge," which implies the
dualism of a subject who knows and an object which is known; in the Course it reflects the pure
experience of non-duality, with no subject-object dichotomy."
From the Course:
Knowledge is not the motivation for learning this course. Peace is. This is the prerequisite for knowledge only because those who are in conflict are not peaceful, and peace is thecondition of knowledge because it is the condition of the Kingdom. Knowledge can be restored only when you meet its conditions. This is not a bargain made by God, Who makes no bargains. It is merely the result of your misuse of His laws on behalf of an imaginary will that is not His. Knowledge is His Will. If you are opposing His Will, how can you have knowledge? (T-8.I.1-8).
Fri, May 18th - 9:41AM
ACIM Basics #1 - The Nature of God
What does A Course in Miracles say about the nature of God?
For some time it has been my understanding that the word symbol "God" stands for a mystery that the human brain and its intellect cannot really grasp. Therefore, it is not possible to adequately communicate the "nature of God" in words, and I think that the Course is very clear on this point (see T-25.I.5 and W-pI.169). That means that we cannot grasp intellectually what the Course means by "knowledge" which is of the Mind of God and does not involve the perceptions and symbols upon which the brain depends for processing experiences and concepts. In any case, our brain does not think but, like the rest of the body, is an instrument of the mind, and is in effect "thunk." (See: T-5.V.6; T-22.I.2-3; and Workbook Lessons 8, 10 and 92.) What we are left with in the world of perception is the possibility of accessing our mind, which is of spirit, so that we can choose whether we will be "thunk" by the ego or by the Holy Spirit and Jesus. The "you" to whom the Course is addressed is us as mind, not us as body and brain. It is not the brain that chooses; not the brain that is the "Son of God;" not the brain that can, "Choose once again if you would take your place among the saviors of the world, or would remain in hell, and hold your brothers there" (T-31.VIII.1:5).
The God spoken of in A Course in Miracles is a completely unified Being Which is literally "All That Is," and in Which there is no separation, no divisions, no differences and no perceiver or perceived; therefore, in the Oneness of God there is no consciousness of "otherness." ("Consciousness, the level of perception, was the first split introduced into the mind after the separation, making the mind a perceiver rather than a creator. Consciousness is correctly identified as the domain of the ego," T-3.IV.2:1.)
The essence of the "God" spoken about in the Course is a Oneness in Which no differences or opposites reside. This Holy One is pure spirit, formless and completely abstract, outside of time and space; therefore unable to be perceived, measured or symbolized. "God" is a word symbol for the Creator of all true Life, which is not the "life" of this world, but the Life of Spirit. The God of ACIM is a Being of pure Love, the Source and First Cause of non-physical reality which is the only reality. What is not of God is illusion and what is illusion is that which can be threatened. This is communicated in the introduction to the ACIM text which contains the following profound statement:
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.
The God of ACIM is totality, perfection, all-encompassing, outside of Whom there is literally nothing. God is Everything and all that is real. What He creates is not separate from His Mind and His Oneness, which is an important implication of the fundamental Course principle that "ideas leave not their source" (T-26.VII; W-pI.132; W-pI.156; W-pI.167).
The manner of God's creating is referred to in the Course as "extension," (not to be confused with that form of "extension" which is perception informed by the Holy Spirit). God's creative extension is a non-spatiotemporal process which "extends" His Thought and His Love, and which cannot be understood at all by the human intellect. The human brain knows only of a creative process wherein creator and created are separate.
As he does elsewhere in the Course, Jesus makes the ineffability of what is meant by "God" very clear in workbook Lesson 169:
Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being,
He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him.
We say "God is," and then we cease to speak, for in that
knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak
them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now
aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like
its Source Itself, it merely is. We cannot speak nor write nor even
think of this at all" (ACIM Workbook, Lesson 169).
The nature of God and His Oneness cannot be adequately communicated in words because it is a pure, non-dualistic reality, while words are the dualistic symbols of separation: words are a means of communication and thinking for a seemingly separated, split, dualistic mind. Any attempt to use dualistic symbols to describe the truth of non-dualistic reality must fail. Any attempt to think about or conceptualize God and His Oneness must fail and is fraught with possibilities for error as the split, dualistic, ego-programmed mind attempts to bring God down to its level and to fit His ineffability into its box of symbols and concepts -- ego attempts born of specialness which try to somehow find separation in the Mind of God, often making the mistake of believing that because something is given a word symbol (e.g., "Holy Spirit," "Christ," "Son of God") it must therefore be a separate entity.
At best, what the human brain with its words can do, as a tool of the mind, is attempt to describe an approximate outline of God's nature, as well as to describe what He is not, keeping in mind that words are but "symbols of symbols," and "are thus twice removed from reality" (M-21).