Weekly Questions and Answers, 03/16/2005

This week's questions/topics:

Q #690  Why do I need to forgive God, and how could I do that?
Q #691  Why was Helen Shucman apparently so attuned to the Voice?

Q #692  What is meant by "do not do a foolish thing that would hurt another"?
Q #693  Where is evil?

Chronological List of All Questions.
Interactive Index of all topics

Q #690: I am having great difficulty with one phrase that keeps recurring in A Course in Miracles and it has shown up in Question #453, which centers on the statement, "Forgive your Father it was not His Will that you be crucified" (T.24.III.8:13). The troublesome statement is: "That is why we have to forgive God; He is not part of our insanity..." In the common use of forgive, I would forgive someone for some wrong that they have done to me and I hold no grudge against them. How can I forgive God? He has not done anything to my detriment. I find this use very confusing.

A: What He has done "wrong" is that He does not notice us -- the ultimate affront! God (the true God) is completely unaware of our existence, and therefore is not involved in our lives to bless our many sacrifices and efforts done in the name of goodness and innocence, and to justify our judgments of those who have treated us unfairly. Jesus teaches us it is insane to think that for one to win another must lose (T.25.VII), and that it is possible for love to be exclusive. But these principles are at the core of the thought system that governs our lives, and, indeed, are the very source of our existence as individuals. God, as perfect Oneness and Love, could not give rise to this insanity, which means it is not real. Our existence as individuals consequently is exposed as not linked to God in any way. Suffering, pain, and death, as well as heroism and triumphs are not His Will.

A massive system of deception and lies is thus uncovered, shattering the foundation of our existence and the universe in which we appear to live, and forcing us to face what we swore we would never again look upon (T.19.IV.D.6:1). Everything that goes on in our personal worlds as well as the world at large is our will, not God’s. The implications of this recognition are staggering, which become the focus of Jesus’ teachings throughout his course. It seems far more tolerable to have God’s blessings on our struggles and suffering, justifying our perception of sin and victimizers "out there," rather than to have to accept responsibility for all of it ourselves (as the one Son). It is for this that we need to forgive God. He gives no credence or validity to what is so real and meaningful to us: "Not one Thought of His makes any sense at all within this world. And nothing that the world believes as true has any meaning in His Mind at all" (T.25.VII.3:3,4). Therefore, since does God not support our thought system, He does not support us, either, as we know ourselves. What means so much to us is nothing to God. The same is true for Jesus, as well. He sees everything of the body and our individual identity as meaningless -- all the events of our lives, which seem to have so much significance, are without meaning. We are presented with this in the very first lesson of the workbook, and many times in many ways throughout the rest of the lessons -- Lesson 93, for example: "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" (W.pI.93.5:1,2,3,4,5). This realization is bound to stir up some profound emotions in us -- fear, anger, confusion, etc. Who likes to be told that they are unreal?

This is not the end of the story, though, because at some point in our work with the Course, we will find ourselves relieved to be unburdened of our guilty secret. We will be glad to have been proven wrong in all we thought to be the truth. But before reaching that stage comes the anger that God did not buy our story. It is not all that pleasant to be caught in a lie, and this is especially devastating when the deception involves our very identity. We suddenly become aware of the massive self-deception we have engaged in, and without the help of Jesus and his course, or some other loving reflection of truth outside our thought system, we would have a most difficult time coping with this situation and all the guilt and fear it arouses. All that supported us now is revealed as but strategic ways of keeping us from the truth about ourselves and reality -- defenses against the truth. It is as if the bottom has fallen out. But Jesus helps us realize we need only have the willingness to change our choice of teachers in our minds from the ego to him, and peace will be restored in our awareness. We are merely awakening from a nightmare dream of separation from our Creator and Source.

Q #691: Discerning the Voice of Holy Spirit is a most important but very ambiguous issue in practicing A Course in Miracles. Helen heard this Voice clearly and unambiguously. I’m inclined to think that many lessons of the workbook took this capability of Helen into account. The designed short period of practice (one year) reinforces that in my opinion. One year seems to be too short for radically reversing the thought system of the average person. What made Helen so sensitive and attuned to this Voice? Could we be helped by inquiring into this, so that we might develop this capability?

A: Kenneth talks about Helen’s "hearing" ability in his biography of Helen, Absence from Felicity. Her hearing was somewhat "rusty" at first, he reports, but then the interferences that were there initially cleared up and the Voice was heard in its purity from then on. The lessons began about three and a half years after the scribing commenced in 1965. What made Helen "so sensitive and attuned to this Voice" was her willingness to set aside her ego completely and be in her right mind. She did not regard this as anything exceptional that she alone could do. She always told people who were tempted to see her as spiritually blessed that they could do exactly what she did; all that was required was the willingness to set aside their ego, if only for an instant. The abstract presence of love is part of everyone’s mind and hearing the Voice is only one form in which that love can be experienced. Each of us will experience it in the form we can best relate to and accept without excessive fear. The form is illusory and will fade when enough fear subsides to allow the full experience of that love into one’s awareness. Therefore, it would not make sense to make the form into a big deal.

Moreover, there is no way of our knowing where we are on our Atonement path, or where anyone else is, either. Comparisons therefore are not likely to be spiritually beneficial. Learning and practicing this Course is carried out in the context of the relationship between the student and the Holy Spirit or Jesus. The events and circumstances of our lives are meaningful, thus, only to the extent that they reflect back to us whether we have chosen the ego or Jesus as our teacher.

Finally, there certainly are lessons and parts of lessons that assume an advanced spiritual state, yet there are many others that explicitly refer to a process of learning and practice that could extend over many years, even lifetimes. And then at the very end of the workbook Jesus tells us that "this course is a beginning, not an end" (W.ep.1:1). Similarly, toward the end of the text, the beginnings of chapters 30 and 31, Jesus is basically telling Helen that she is moving along well but has not yet reached the end of her process. The ability to hear the Voice of the Holy Spirit is simply the process of learning to let go of one’s ego, as Jesus so clearly states in this passage, to single out one of many such passages: "You can defend your specialness, but never will you hear the Voice for God beside it. They speak a different language and they fall on different ears" (T.24.II.5:1,2). That was the essence of Helen’s process and is ours as well.

Q #692: Relating to Question #465 "If someone asks you to do something outrageous, do it because it does not matter." Yet, "Do not do a foolish thing that would hurt either." We are constantly bombarded by telemarketers and could almost literally change phone or other services daily at their request. This too wouldn't matter though it may continue to disappoint yesterday’s salesman and induce unnecessary busyness into today’s buyer. Ultimately, neither the salesman nor I can be hurt no matter what the decision; so I guess I'm asking for clarification of the meaning of "hurt" in this context.

A: It probably is safe to say that when Jesus was talking about this issue to Helen, the scribe of A Course in Miracles, he did not have telemarketers or other solicitors in mind. Common sense dictates that we not respond to every request made by a salesperson. On the other hand, an egoless person may be guided to buy what has been offered because the interaction is helpful to the seller’s Atonement process, not because there is any need for the item. But that advanced state is not what Jesus is referring to in these passages. He is talking about an immediate, strong reaction of opposition -- a stubborn refusal to even consider the request. That extreme reaction means something is going on beneath the surface that needs to be looked at. With telemarketers, we can quickly but kindly decline the call, and that would be the end of it, just as we might decline solicitors outside a supermarket or other kind of store. There is no issue.

Q #693: Where is Evil? Does it exist in all of us? Does it exist only in our perceived enemy? If our enemy no longer existed would evil follow? If evil no longer existed would our perceived enemy follow? Why do we destroy to honor our faith in God? Why do we bargain to gain more good than the evil we allow? Is evil fear? Is fear evil? Does fear and love control all we do? Do we have control on deciding between them?

A: These simple and direct statements from the text are the foundation for responding to your queries about evil: "The truth is true. Nothing else matters, nothing else is real, and everything beside it is not there" (T.14.II.3:3,4). This is another way of stating the fundamental principle of A Course in Miracles, found in the Introduction to the text: "Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists" (T.in.2:2,3).What is true and real is our Identity as God’s innocent Son. Everything else is part of our experience in the illusion, which rises in our awareness when we choose to believe the separation is not only real, but a sin, deserving of punishment. This fundamental belief of the ego thought system breathes life into every thought of evil, pain, hatred, and despair that darkens our lives in the nightmare of "life" apart from God. The dream itself may be considered "evil" in the sense that its source (the thought of separation) is an attack on God and on His Son. The way into the dream is to deny God and our oneness with Him, choosing the illusion of the body and the world instead. Jesus gives us a clear exposition of the ego’s substitution for reality: "Sin is the home of all illusions, which but stand for things imagined, issuing from thoughts that are untrue. They are the "proof" that what has no reality is real. Sin "proves" God's Son is evil; timelessness must have an end; eternal life must die. And God Himself has lost the Son He loves, with but corruption to complete Himself, His Will forever overcome by death, love slain by hate, and peace to be no more" (W.pII.4.3:1,2,3,4). Not a great place to be. Although it is not real, evil enters the illusion as a haunting force following the mind’s choice to identify with the ego. However, it is a force with no power, because it is an effect, not a cause. That is not to say that once we believe we are in the world as bodies we do not have some experiences that seem pleasant and others we call "evil." This is in keeping with the ego’s endless array of qualifications to differentiate every experience in the dream. We are not asked to deny these distinctions, but to recognize them as the ego’s scheme to make the dream real, and then acknowledge that they are powerless.

As an ego concept, evil is fear’s product. Fearful that God will punish His Son who has denied Him by choosing separation instead of oneness, the Son invents a myriad of evil "monsters" who are out to get him; just as a child believes his imagined monsters are poised to attack: "A madman's dreams are frightening, and sin appears indeed to terrify. And yet what sin perceives is but a childish game" (W.pII.4.4:1,2).

The world filled with evil, fear, sin, guilt, enemies, danger and attack is the madman’s dream. Once we are caught in this thought system, it does not matter where evil lurks, nor in whom. The "good" and "evil" of the ego are the same because they serve the same purpose: to keep us rooted in the belief in separation. "Escape" from this system is possible only by learning to identify with the memory of God’s Love that remains in part of our mind. The paths may be different, but everyone will eventually accept this Love. For students of the Course, it is by bringing every ego misperception to the light of the Holy Spirit’s true perception, allowing His interpretation of our experience in the world to replace ours, that we are gradually freed of the ego’s "evil shadow." This requires only our willingness to see every experience as a projection of the guilt in our minds for having chosen to identify with the ego, as we mentioned earlier.

Though we are wrong about our ego identity, we are not condemned to the punishment of evil forces, nor have we succeeded in changing reality by our mad imaginings: "Correction has one answer to all this, and to the world that rests on this: You but mistake interpretation for the truth. And you are wrong. But a mistake is not a sin, nor has reality been taken from its throne by your mistakes. God reigns forever, and His laws alone prevail upon you and upon the world. His Love remains the only thing there is. Fear [evil] is illusion, for you are like Him" (M.18.3:6,7,8,9,10,11,12).

No destruction honors God. In fact, God does not require that we honor Him at all, but the ego’s God does. And since the ego’s God is a destroyer (T.23.II.7:8; T.26.VII.7), to honor Him is to be like Him. Yet the only possible honor we could offer God would be to accept that we are as He created us; nothing more than that, but also nothing less. The non-dualistic theology of the Course teaches that God does not know His Son as separate from Himself; He is only oneness. Our split minds cannot truly understand this, but we can learn what it is not: it is not fear, evil, or destruction.

Our goal in studying the Course is not to try to avoid, abolish, or transform evil, but to undo our belief in separation through forgiveness, so that eventually we will forget our evil dreams and remember only God’s Love. The only decision we need make is between the ego’s lie of sin, guilt and fear, and the Holy Spirit’s message that we remain innocent, as we were created. Nothing has happened to destroy the Love the Father extends to His Son. That is what we seek to remember. "Nothing else matters, nothing else is real" (T.14.II.3:4).