Questions and Answers about A Course in Miracles: 04/26/2006
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This week's questions/topics:
Q #924 What does it mean to "Choose outside of time and space" ?
Q #925 Is my weight problem a product of my own guilt?
Q #926 As a Catholic, AND a Course student, how should I pray?
Q #927 Are Kundalini experiences of the ego?
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Q # 924: What does it mean to "choose outside of time and space"? How can a mind that is outside of time and space choose anything? Doesn't choosing require time -- a time before the choice and a time after it when something has changed?
A: Your question is a logical one and one that must occur to virtually every student of A Course in Miracles . The problem with the question is that it starts with the assumption that time, space, and the choices we make are real. The Course informs us that they are in fact all just elements of a dream. While we seem to be making lots of choices, the Course tells us that we really only have one meaningful choice to make -- and it gets made on an entirely different level.
The choice the Course is concerned with is our choice between the ego and the Holy Spirit as our teacher. Therefore, the mind that the Course is aimed at -- the one that can make that choice -- is not the mind we generally think of as our own.
We usually think of our mind as analogous to our brain. We see it as the storehouse for all the thoughts, memories, and perceptions that add up to our unique, individual psyche. But in the Course, Jesus informs us that that mind (along with the concepts of time, space, and everything else about our physical existence) is just part of a dream. It is a dream that we are having as the one split mind of the Sonship.
As one mind, we had the idea that we could separate from God. In that instant, we could have listened to the Holy Spirit and laughed at the idea, or we could have listened to the ego and taken it seriously. Unfortunately, we listened to the ego. Then, filled with the fear our seeming triumph over God had to engender, we followed the ego again. It sought to prolong its existence by directing us to fall asleep, and make up a world in which we seem to be separate individuals with separate minds.
That is how our world and individual existences were made. As a result, nearly everything we experience, think, and do here, reflects the choice of that mind -- outside of time and space -- to follow the dictates of the ego. The Course is aimed at that mind, which continues to listen to the ego's voice and remain asleep, though it could at any moment choose instead to follow the Holy Spirit's guidance and awaken.
It might be helpful to visualize that one mind as a programmer, and your individual mind within the dream as the program or software. The programmer can direct you to be run by either the ego or the Holy Spirit.
But we don't remember that that mind and that choice exist. So the Course reminds us. While we think we are here, our process as Course students seems to be to make the choice to study the Course and do (or not do) what it says. It asks us to consider that maybe we are wrong about who we think we are. It urges us to question every value that we hold. But Jesus realizes that that is all we can do. The ultimate choice to change our internal teacher from the ego to the Holy Spirit (the "miracle") comes from a decision in the mind outside the dream.
Once we have experienced that choice, we'll know that it came from an entirely different level of thought than the one we're accustomed to.
For related discussions about the mind, choice, and time, please see Questions #37, #228, and #666.
Q #925: I have to watch every little thing I eat or else I gain weight. Meanwhile, I have friends who can eat whatever they want and not gain an ounce. I believe that they were blessed with a faster metabolism than I have. But according to the Course, could I have chosen my slow metabolism as a projection of my unconscious guilt?
A: According to A Course in Miracles, our entire physical existence is a dream we are having in order to escape the guilt producing (though erroneous) thought that we killed God, destroyed His Love, and deserve to be punished. Therefore, everything about our selves and the world in which we seem to live is a cover for the guilt in our mind. Just as our nighttime dreams are filled with symbols of our unconscious thoughts, our lives are nothing more than a collection of symbols reflecting that one guilty thought that compelled us to fall asleep and make up this world.
The Course informs us that in reality, we are still at home in Heaven and that our natural state is as a "Oneness joined as One" (T.25.1.7;1) . Elsewhere, the Course tells us that in truth, "nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him" (W.132.12;4) .
But we cannot even begin to fathom the idea of oneness because every aspect of this world seems to attest to the reality of separation. And there is no greater symbol of separation (and thus our guilt) than the body. In the Course, Jesus refers to bodies as "instruments of separation" (T.18.VI.5;1) and tells us that "Minds are joined; bodies are not" (T.18.VI.3;1). In other words, our continued existence as individuals separate from God (the ego's one and only goal) hinges upon our being bodies not minds.
The ego's greatest fear is that we will remember we have a mind that is capable of changing internal teachers -- a realization that could turn us away from the ego and toward the Holy Spirit. To ensure that never happens, the ego needs us to not only believe we are bodies but to keep us constantly focused on them. And what could be better at keeping us focused on the body than a body that has endless needs and problems?
So, to answer your question, yes, we possess our physical and psychological traits because we listened to the ego and chose them. And we only did such a silly thing because we were compelled to do so by guilt. With very few exceptions, no one would choose to have physical or psychological traits at all (rather than stay at home in Heaven) if he were not "made mad by guilt" (T.13.in.2;2) .
That means all our problems really only serve one purpose; to keep us distracted so we can never return to the Love of God that is still in our mind. And, fortunately, that means that what we think of as our problems really are not our problems at all. In fact, our only problem is that we are too busy making a big deal about nothing to look at the guilt in our mind and discover it is all made up.
But because what is really nothing -- our lives, our bodies, and our problems -- seems to us like everything, we cannot just move beyond these symbols. So, we have to give them a different purpose. And that means asking the Holy Spirit to reinterpret them for us. He will turn them into classrooms for rediscovering the power of our mind to choose differently. While we cannot know why our bodies are the way they are, with His help we will see that we can be at peace regardless of our bodily state (Lesson 34) .
Guided by the love and compassion of the Holy Spirit, we will at long last know that we are responsible for the lives we have scripted and also be able to forgive ourselves for them. And with the peace of Heaven as our goal and a Teacher to help us get there, we may even stop pining for a faster metabolism.
For an in depth discussion about weight and food issues from the Course's perspective, please see the book or listen to the audio tape Overeating: A Dialogue by Kenneth Wapnick .
Q #926: As a Catholic and a student of A Course in Miracles , how do I pray now?
A: Whether as a student of the Course or a Catholic, true prayer is always what the Course refers to as the prayer of the heart. This means it is the content that matters, not the form. Any form can serve as an expression of the mind's willingness to hear the Holy Spirit's “still small voice” that is “… not drowned out by all the ego's raucous screams and senseless ravings to those who want to hear It (T.21.V.1:6). It may be very helpful for you to use Catholic forms of prayer that are familiar to you, to remember that the Holy Spirit holds the memory of God in your mind and that the ego's voice is not the only option. The content is the willingness to keep this in mind and choose the Holy Spirit, regardless of what form the prayer takes.
In the Course, prayer is understood as an expression of the mind's choice between the ego or the Holy Spirit. In the manual, Jesus refers to this choice as the “prayer of the heart” (M.21) . The prayer/choice is always answered because the mind has the power to make its choice “real” in its experience. Thus, the mind gets what it wants. It has chosen and received separation, and until another choice is made it is compelled to seek outside itself for relief from the pain of having decided to be separate from its Source. It then “prays” to a magical god to be saved from the hell of its own making. Yet, there is no real relief in the ego's plan, because nothing outside the mind has any effect on it. It is impossible for the mind to receive what it has chosen against. As Jesus tells us in the text: “ It is impossible that the prayer of the heart remain unanswered in the perception of the one who asks. If he asks for the impossible [separation] , if he wants what does not exist [the world] or seeks for illusions in his heart, all this becomes his own. The power of his decision offers it to him as he requests. Herein lie hell and Heaven (M.21.3:3,4,5,6). Thus, the answer to the mind's prayer/decision in favor of the ego is hell (the misery of this world), while the prayer/decision for the Holy Spirit leads to Heaven (peace in the dream).
Praying as a student of the Course means paying attention to the thoughts, feelings and judgments in relationships that reflect the choice the mind has made. The choice otherwise remains hidden behind layers of denial and projection. Willingness to recognize the mind's projection instead of blaming others for how you are feeling is the first step in forgiveness, which is the prayer we are taught in the Course : “…the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness, because those who have been forgiven have everything. Once forgiveness has been accepted, prayer in the usual sense becomes utterly meaningless” (T.3.V.6:3,4). Thus, the form of prayer, as it is understood in the Course, is distinct from the form of Catholic prayer in that it is addressed to oneself, for oneself, in forgiveness of oneself for having taken the “tiny mad idea” (T.27.VIII.6) of separation seriously. It is remembering in every situation and relationship that everything is a reflection of the mind's choice, and nothing else . To pray always means to be mindful always, thus fulfilling the Christian injunction. The goal of this mindfulness/prayer is to learn to not choose separation: “The sleeping Son of God has but this power [of decision] left to him. It is enough. His words do not matter” (M.21.3:7,8,9). No rituals, words, sacraments, or celebrations are required for the simple practice of forgiveness. However, if they serve as reminders to apply it to your relationships and daily experiences, they can indeed be helpful. The goal of returning home to the Father we never left can be reached by many paths.
(See also: Questions # 23, #104, #437, #505, #563, #597, and #645.)
Q #927: I'm wondering about Kundalini energy experiences in relation to A Course in Miracles . I have had these experiences and found them to be in opposition to the Course's direction. This has led me to believe that Kundalini is of the ego.
A: A Course in Miracles tells us that the entire world is false perception (W.pII.3.1:1) and was made as an attack on God (W.pII.3.2:1) . The source of this false perception and attack is the ego. Therefore, everything that seems to be in this world is ego based. This includes our bodies and all the things they seem to think, feel, and do.
Thus, you are correct that Kundalini energy experiences are of the ego. But this makes them no different from anything else the body appears to do including breathing, eating, and sleeping. In this dream world we think we inhabit, the body is the primary symbol of the ego's thought that we can be separate from God. When we listen to the ego, everything the body does symbolizes the ego's belief that, not only are we separate from God, but we need something more than God's Love to sustain us. And of course, as bodies we do have many needs.
Because we are so thoroughly convinced that we are bodies, the Course does not ask us to deny any of our bodily needs. Nor does Jesus want us to feel guilty about what our bodies do. To the contrary, he seeks to teach us that we do not have to continue looking upon this world through the guilty, scared, and vicious eyes of the ego. He wants us to know that we can let go of the ego's clawed and gripping hand and turn instead to the Holy Spirit as our gentle internal Teacher.
When we do that, the Holy Spirit will give everything we do a different purpose. The Course explains, "The ego made the world…but the Holy Spirit, the reinterpreter of what the ego made, sees the world as a teaching device for bringing you home." (T.5.III.11:1).
As Course students then, our only job is to change internal teachers. With everything we think, say, or do, we need to ask what is it for (T.24.VII.7:1) . Or, more precisely, we need to begin with the premise that it was born of the ego's desire for attack and separation and ask the Holy Spirit to transform its purpose to one of forgiveness and remembering God's Love.
The tricky part is, while we can be certain that this will lead us to an internal shift, we cannot be the judge of what this will or should look like on the outside. In other words, we do not know what love will lead us to say or do. Love might look like a kundalini energy experience. Or, it might look like letting go of striving for kundalini experiences.
Remember that the Course does not address behavior. This is because from Jesus' perspective, behavior is totally irrelevant. He knows that in and of itself, behavior has no meaning. So, his concern is the mind that gives our actions all the meaning that they have for us.
Jesus wants us to know that without the Holy Spirit's help we cannot judge anything the body does because we do not even know our own best interest (W.pI.24) . When we recognize this, we open the door for the Holy Spirit to direct us. He will then teach us that because we chose the meaning of everything the body does, we can choose again. He will show us how, by changing our minds, all the things we made to keep us rooted in this world can become joyous reminders of our true home in Heaven.