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SCIENCE — RELIGION— A COURSE IN MIRACLES

This adds to my November 2016 blog, Religion & Science which I based on, The Penultimate Curiosity: How Science Swims in the Slipstream of Ultimate Questions, by Roger Wagner and Andrew Briggs. Their title summarizes their book: a rich account of human progress in thought, art and law with religion being carried along in the mix.

Now I offer thoughts from, Science and Religion, an article by Werner Heisenberg re-printed on the Web Site, Edge.* In it he relates his conversation with Wolfgang Pauli and Paul Dirac about religion and science. It occurred one evening during the 1927 Solvay Conference in Brussels, and began with one of them asking about Einstein’s frequent reflections regarding God.

What are we to make of that? It is extremely difficult to imagine that a scientist like Einstein should have such strong ties with a religious tradition.

Thus began their discussion. Pauli, or perhaps Dirac, mentioned that Max Plank mentioned God more than Einstein. That caused Heisenberg to share what Plank’s friends told him.

Plank saw, “no contradiction between science and religion, indeed … he [believed] the two are perfectly compatible.” … because “they refer to two quite distinct facets of reality.” Science deals with the objective and religion deals with values: “what ought to be or what we ought to be.” Science seeks to know “what is true or false; religion with good or evil, noble or base.”

Heisenberg and Pauli, adding to, and questioning Plank’s point of view, offered nuanced and rather complicated views questioning the wisdom of labeling religion as subjective and science as objective. They felt that religion was the source of ethical norms which held societies together.

Pauli said, “Einstein’s conception is closer to mine.” God is involved in nature, feels the, ”central order if things,” and the “simplicity of natural laws,” which his theory of relativity demonstrates. For Pauli that was a place to start. Then Heisenberg asked, “A starting point for what?” That led Pauli into a long monologue about scientific development. It matters what “physicists think,” that scientific objectivity, along with religion being subjective, brought a clash between the two. Further, the theory of relativity and quantum theory added to the disagreement.

When Dirac joined the group he offered, I don’t know why we are talking about religion.

If we are honest ─ and scientists have to be ─ we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality. The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination.

Dirac then went on presenting his firm anti-religion view, concluding…

Life, when all is said and done, is just like science: we come up against difficulties and have to solve them.  … your wider context is nothing but a mental superstructure added a posteriori.  

 As the discussion continued Pauli was mostly silent. He ended their informal symposium with;

Well our friend Dirac, too, has a religion, and its guiding principle is: ‘there is no God and Dirac is his prophet.’

They all laughed, and went their separate ways.

Later, in Copenhagen, Heisenberg shared the exchange with Niels Bohr who immediately defended Dirac. He told why he admired Dirac’s clear simple writing, and then revealed; “the idea of a personal God is foreign to me.” Religious discourse is poetic, uses parables and images because it is the only way to refer to the “reality to which they refer.”

Bohr said he was uncomfortable thinking that science was objective and religion subjective. He thought that recent changes in physics (relativity and quantum mechanics), led to, ”a great liberation of thought.”

Their discussion morphed into how mathematics, science and religion influenced society. Bohr concluded this way.

Religion helps to make social life more harmonious: its most important task is to remind us, in the language of pictures and parables, of the wider framework within which our life is set.

Bohr leaves out God and makes religion just a way to keep folks working together. A Russian revolutionary put it more crassly.

Since Heisenberg’s discussions scientists as well as many philosophers have continued to lean towards atheism. Some religious groups dismiss science, and instead use the Bible as their source of ultimate truth. Others replace the science of evolution with creationism.

A recent view of scientific thought, Adam Becker’s, What is real? The unfinished Meaning of Quantum Mechanics, brings us up to date. David Albert, reviewing it in the April 19,2018 issue of, The New York Review of Books, writes that Becker narrates how scientists became set in their beliefs and why they believed Einstein had not kept in pace with quantum mechanics. But, Albert emphasizes… Becker tells us that this is all nonsense.

Einstein was out of step… for the simple reason that he thought more clearly and honestly than they did. 

Becker then shows how many of scientist’s theories were incorrect, and that 50 years would pass after Einstein’s death before he was properly appreciated.

My favorite Einstein story comes from Shimon Malin’s, Nature Loves to Hide: Quantum Physics and the Nature of Reality, a Western Perspective. In his first chapter, Mach’s Shadow, Malin tells a story about Einstein and Heisenberg discussing his, ”new Quantum mechanics.” After some debate Einstein said, “It is the theory which decides what we can observe.” Malin thought that Einstein’s comment at first disappointed Heisenberg, but that later he appreciated it, and it led him to his uncertainty principle.

In my book, There is, “…another way,” A Companion Guider to A Course in Miracles, I base my discussion of religion and science on Malin’s book. He relates how he studied post-modern philosophy only to feel that,

 a thousand prophets proclaimed a thousand truths; I gulped them all down and stayed hungry.

Then in a lovely allegory involving a family exchanging ideas he illuminates his thought. They discuss how there is a noumenal world (spirit) and a phenomenal world (nature). They come up with a paradigm for bringing, the two together.  Humankind interacts between the Noumenal and the Phenomenal.  Our place in the universe interacts between Spirit and Nature.  Therefore, humankind can act as bridge to bring the divine into the natural world  in a positive way. This differs from Course teaching because it brings God’s influence into the separation.

Course teaching informs us that when we considered the, “Tiny mad idea” that we could be separate from Heaven, God placed the Holy Spirit in our mind as our link to the divine. However, because our world is an illusion, God does not know about, and has nothing to do with the it.

I think this view of science concurs with ACIM.  Science is the method we use to investigate how we have made; and are continuing to make the phenomenal world (nature).

If Scientists would consider that God has nothing to do with this world, they could free themselves from looking for ways to explain why science and the divine are not connected. That would lead to a real,” liberation of thought.

A Course in Miracles is not a religion. It is a spiritual path. As we learn for sentence four of the Lord’s Prayer…

The sleep of forgetfulness is only the unwillingness to remember Your forgiveness and Your Love.

The sleep of forgetfulness is the separation. Your, refers to God. When we are willing to remember God’s forgiveness and Love;  the separation will disappear from our mind.

* From Physics and Beyond, Heisenberg, Werner, (Harper & Row, 1971). Republished in Physics and Philosophy: The Evolution of Modern Science. Heisenberg, Werner, (Harper Perennial, 2007)

Another Response to Gun Violence

In previous blogs I’ve offered ideas from A Course in Miracles to help friends and relatives of victims of gun violence to cope with their loss. This one is different. In this blog I offer a Course statement from Section IV, The Two Pictures, from Chapter 17, Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship, which show how we use our mind to defend our special relationships.

The statement follows: the first two sentences from Section IV.

It is essential to realize that all defenses do what they would defend. The underlying basis for their effectiveness is that they offer what they defend.

Here I applying it to call to question the proposition that what we need to cope with gun violence is another person with a gun to protect us. Defenses, especially with guns, operate the same way as the idea or act for which they defend. Defending against gunmen using guns copies the attack. The defense perpetuates violence.  I do understand, sadly, that our present climate of fear, which accepts that response, is difficult to change

Most important: we must realize that it is abhorrent for teachers to have guns to protect their students. Their function is to offer and impart knowledge to their students. As gunners they become purveyors of violence. That squanders their function: communicating knowledge with love and compassion to and with their students.

Guns in classrooms in the hands of teachers will desecrate the foundation of our democracy; education with free, open, inquiring exchanges between students and teachers.

For millennia humankind has answered violence with violence. Without question that has not worked. The philosophical concept common to most religions; The Golden Rule has worked in many axial ages. Karen Anderson discusses that in, The Great Transformation, where she writes, “Each tradition developed its own formulation of the golden rule:

                     do not do to others what you would not have done to you.*

ACIM offers this version in text Chapter I, “The Meaning of Miracles, number 18.

A miracle is a service. It is the maximal service you can render to another. It is a way of loving your neighbor as yourself. You recognize your own and your neighbor’s worth simultaneously.

This is specific. My neighbor is myself. Harming my neighbor harms me. Whichever version of the Golden Rule one accepts, use it to counter the gun violence we are experiencing.

* Karen Anderson, in The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our religious Traditions, foot note number 1, Karl Jasper, The Origin and Goal of History, xix.

FORGIVENESS III

Here is the article about Section VI from, The Justification for Forgiveness Text Chapter 30 I promised at the end of my last Blog, “Discussing Forgiveness: Motivated by The Crown.”  Because I wrote a chapter about section VI in my book, “There is…’another way,’ A Companion Guide to A Course in Miracles: Jesus’ Gift to Humanity,” I use some of that Chapter here. It begins with the following about Eugene O’Neill’s, The Iceman Cometh.

In Act IV O’Neill dramatizes an aspect of forgiveness which concurs with course teachings in section VI. In the scene traveling salesman Hickey, in a deadly, long, gut-wrenching speech tells the patrons of Harry Hope’s bar why he murdered his wife. The scene dramatically shows how forgiveness can be, “a scourge a curse where it was meant to bless, a cruel mockery of grace, a parody upon the holy peace of God.” [S-2.I.2.2] Consumed with guilt from his boozing and womanizing Hickey tells how he became distraught because his wife forgave him – over and over and over again.

It got so every night I’d wind up hiding my face in her lap, bawling and begging for forgiveness. And, of course she’d always comfort me and say, “Never mind Teddy, I know you won’t ever again.” Christ, I loved her so, but I began to hate that pipe dream! I began to be afraid I was going bughouse, because sometimes I couldn’t forgive her for forgiving me. I even caught myself hating her for making me hate myself so much. There’s a limit to the guilt you can feel and the forgiveness and pity you can take! You have to begin blaming someone else, too.

He pauses, then says ─ “So I killed her,” telling the people in the bar that he shot his wife while she slept to escape his dilemma. *

Also in The Justification for Forgiveness Jesus introduces a concept which foresees his teachings in The Song of Prayer. Shakespeare dramatizes them in, “Much Ado About Nothing,” in a scene when Claudio was deceived about his fiancée, Hero’s, fidelity. Ultimately he pardoned her because he believed the deception that justified his pardon, thus he forgave her for something that did not really happen. It was not pardon because he based it on a response to a misconception; therefore, pardon was inappropriate because it responded to an illusion: thus Shakespeare’s title “much ado about nothing.”

The Justification for Forgiveness focuses on situations similar to those dramatized by O’Neill and Shakespeare. It is a complex discussion of how pardon/forgiveness in the separation can be granted, but can also be self-damaging and hypocritical. A key to understanding the section is that the first sentences in paragraph one and two are parallel but opposite statements. (also in this section pardon and forgiveness are the same)

Paragraph one. “Anger is never justified. Attack has no foundation.”

Paragraph two. “Pardon is always justified. It has sure foundation.”

In Paragraph two the “paragraph one” concept is stated in stronger terms. Further, we are not expected to forgive/pardon what seems to be an unforgivable attack, because everything on the level of the separation is an illusion. Our return to God is not based on responding to perceived wrongs that are unreal, I.E. part of our illusory world. Therefore, pardon/forgiveness is an inappropriate response to worldly attacks. Jesus asks that we view forgiveness as “a natural reaction to distress that rests on error, and thus calls for help.” [T-30.VI.2.7]

When pardon/forgiveness is viewed this way, it is justified as a sane response, and does so without sacrificing our rights and freedom. Attack is impossible when fear disappears. If it were possible; pardon would be impossible. We gain the real world when we view pardon/forgiveness as being, “quite real and fully justified.” [T-30.VI.3.3]

On the other hand, if we believe (like Hickey) that pardon/forgiveness is unjustified; that is attack. When we see forgiveness as justifiable, minds are changed. That allows miracles and healing to occur. This dynamic underscores our need to forgive ourselves for believing that this dream is real. That gives us the way to be able to accept that, “There can be no appearances that cannot be overlooked.” [T-30.VI.5.4] Therefore, a sin could exist that is beyond forgiveness, some form of our illusion that a miracle could not heal.

Therefore, there is no order of difficulty in forgiving seeming attacks. The most horrible actions in this world can be forgiven when viewed this way. We keep ourselves in our dream-world when we believe that some kind of sickness or attack is beyond the reach of miracles (changes of mind). Either a miracle can heal everything or nothing. When we believe otherwise we retain the belief that we, or anyone, are beyond forgiveness and healing.

This situation is portrayed in the movie “Mona Lisa’s Smile.”  Soon after a newly married Wellesley student found out that her husband is unfaithful she verbally attacks a promiscuous classmate.  She listens for a short time, then steps forward and forcefully and lovingly embraces her attacker, who then bursts into tears and cries out, “he doesn’t want me anymore.”

The verbal abuse of one student was a call for love – the other student perceived it as such – and answered it with forgiveness and love.

Between Section VI in Chapter 30, and the discussion of forgiveness in The Song of Prayer is Question one of Part II of the “Workbook for Students;” What is Forgiveness? Following are paragraphs one and five from there. These words are very helpful for all of us to be able to forgive first ourselves and; therefore, our sisters and brothers with whom we share this illusion.

                                   1. What Is Forgiveness?
1. Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred. It does not pardon sins and make them real. It sees there was no sin. And in that view are all your sins forgiven. What is sin, except a false idea about God’s Son? Forgiveness merely sees its falsity, and therefore lets it go. What then is free to take its place is now the Will of God.

In the following the pronouns refer to the Holy Spirit.

5. Do nothing, then, and let forgiveness show you what to do, through Him Who is your Guide, your Savior and Protector, strong in hope, and certain of your ultimate success. He has forgiven you already, for such is His function, given Him by God. Now must you share His function, and forgive whom He has saved, whose sinlessness He sees, and whom He honors as the Son of God.

Here is a prayer to help us to forgive everyone and everything:
no matter who, no matter what.

I thank You, Father, for Your perfect Son, and in his glory will I see my own. [T-30.9.4]

It’s tough to do but worth it!

* O’Neill, Eugene, The Iceman Cometh, (N.Y. Random House, 1st Vintage Int. Ed. Nov.1999,) 180-182.

Discussing Forgiveness – Motivated by “The Crown.”

In September of 2015 I posted an article about forgiveness, a key aspect of A Course in Miracles’ teaching. That concept differs substantially from common religious and secular thought. I outlined those differences in my rather dry and impersonal 2015 article. Here I focus on the 6th episode Season two Netflix series of “The Crown,” which dramatizes a personal dilemma the Queen had about forgiveness.

In the episode she had to decide whether to forgive her Uncle, the Duke of Windsor, for his abdication as King in 1936. Initially she was inclined to forgive him and end his exile so he could take a job in the British government. She changed her mind when she learned that he and his wife, for whom he gave up the thrown, collaborated with the Nazis before and during the first weeks of WW II. Queen Elizabeth then told him she could not forgive him for his contacts with Hitler, that he needed to find a way to forgive himself, and she revoked her permission for him to enter the UK. We all face similar dilemmas.

In the course we find a simple and basic premise: there is nothing to forgive because the world we think we live in is nothing. It’s an illusion.

The first word in the important Text passage: The New Lord’s Prayer at the end of Text Chapter 16, is Forgive. Then, the word forgiveness occurs in both sentences three and four.

1. Forgive us our illusions, Father, and help us to accept our true relationship with You, in which there are no illusions, and where none can ever enter.…

3. What can there be in us that needs forgiveness when Yours is perfect? 4 The sleep of forgetfulness is only the unwillingness to remember Your forgiveness and Your Love.     (my emphasis)

These statements in the new Lord’s Prayer about forgiveness are on the level of God’s Heaven. The Queen’s withholding of forgiveness was on the level of our illusion in the separation. The Biblical Lord’s Prayer conveys forgiveness on that level.

Give us our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.

Thus, we are forgiven depending on how we forgive others. Where did that leave the Queen, who was brought up believing that? In the TV series she consulted American evangelist Billy Graham, who pointed out how Jesus forgave those who crucified him. That was not enough for her to ignore her uncle’s treacherous involvement with Hitler and other Nazis.

ACIM teaching about forgiveness is succinct and clear when it is about us being forgiven for believing we are in a world separate from God. However, forgiveness teachings about how we forgive others in that illusion are complex. With that in mind consider Part II of the Workbook for Students, where the first of 14 Questions is, What is Forgiveness? It begins with these three sentences.

Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred. It does not pardon sins and make them real. It sees there was no sin.

This is the forgiveness we extend when we agree that this world is an illusion; therefore, what we thought our brother did has not occurred because nothing here is really occurring. The five paragraphs build on this idea and the twenty lessons which follow provide thoughts and prayers which complement the concept.

Aspects about forgiveness in our separated world are found throughout the Course, and especially in “The Song of Prayer” pamphlet. Helen Schucman scribed it a few months after the Course’s first publication. The Pamphlet is in Three Parts; Prayer, Forgiveness, and Healing.

Section 2, FORGIVENESS, has three demanding but helpful sections: I. Forgiveness of Yourself; II. Forgiveness to Destroy; III. Forgiveness–for–Salvation. Following are very compelling sentences from each section.

                  Forgiveness of Yourself;
No gift of Heaven has been more misunderstood than has forgiveness. It has, in fact, become a scourge; a curse where it was meant to bless, a cruel mockery of grace, a parody upon the holy peace of God.

              Forgiveness to Destroy,
In this group, first, there are the forms in which a “better” person deigns to stoop to save a “baser” one from what he truly is. Forgiveness here rests on an attitude of gracious lordliness so far from love that arrogance could never be dislodged.

             Forgiveness-For-Salvation
1. Forgiveness-for-Salvation has one form, and only one. 2 It does not ask for proof of innocence, nor pay of any kind. 3 It does not argue, nor evaluate the errors that it wants to overlook. 4 It does not offer gifts in treachery, nor promise freedom while it asks for death.
7. …3 Rest a while in this; do not attempt to judge forgiveness, nor to set it in an earthly frame. 4 Let it arise to Christ, Who welcomes it as gift to Him.

We see in these excerpts how Jesus’ teaching progresses from discussing haughty and supercilious forms of forgiveness to positive ways which give us the means for constructive forgiveness.  The above are taken out of context, so for complete understanding do study the whole section from the Song of Prayer Pamphlet.

Queen Elizabeth, as portrayed in “The Crown” series, did not have the sophisticated concepts of forgiveness now taught in ACIM, nor was the advice offered to her by Billy Graham helpful.   A Course student might have said,

As your niece and friend who has benefitted from your advice, I forgive you. But as Queen of England I cannot, and I must withdraw my permission for you ever again to visit the United Kingdom.

This approaches but does not concur with a broad view of ACIM’s forgiveness teachings. In my next blog I’ll discuss: Text Chapter 30, Section VI, “The Justification for Forgiveness,” where Jesus conveys concepts which give us a very demanding way to view forgiveness.

Meanwhile, follow the advice in number seven (above) in Forgiveness-for-Salvation. “Rest a while,” with those words to understand how to forgive our fellow travelers in this world.

Please check out my web site. www.god-jesus-course-in-miracles.com

Faith and I Am Not A Body

The term faith is mostly associated with religion but also is used in secular matters.

OED offers these aspects ─
religious; believing in truths of religions, validity of revelations, accepting revealed doctrines, using special features of the soul to accept unseen spiritual events;
secular; power to produce belief, credit, convincing authority,

In the last 20 years or so many organizations and social programs managed by religious institutions began to employ the term “faith-based” to define their groups to insulate them from the separation of church and state. This, I believe, is a sad distortion of the spiritual meaning of the word.

A definition of faith which provides us with a spiritual framework is in Ken Wapnick’s Glossary/Index to ACIM, page 69.

The expression of where we chose to place our trust; we are free to have faith in the ego or the Holy Spirit; in the illusion of sin in others, or in the truth of their holiness as Sons of God

We know we are choosing the Holy Spirit when we see others as Sons of God. We are choosing the ego when we see them as sinners. If we feel peaceful we are listening to the Holy Spirit, if we feel angry we are listening to the ego.
This concept permeates A Course in Miracles.

This succinct Course sentence (the Voice for God is the Holy Spirit), is one of many Course passages which teach this.

    The Voice for God is always quiet, because It speaks of peace.  T-5.II.7 

A full statement regarding faith is in Paragraph 5 In Text Chapter 19, The Attainment of Peace, Section I, Healing and Faith. This excerpt contrasts faithlessness with faith.

Faithlessness would always limit and attack;
faith would remove all limitations and make whole.
Faithlessness would destroy and separate;
faith would unite and heal.
Faithlessness would interpose illusions between the Son of God and his Creator;
  faith would remove all obstacles that seem to rise between them.
Faithlessness is wholly dedicated to illusions;
    faith wholly to truth.

I urge readers to study all of Section I of Chapter 19. It’s a combined review and consolidation of many Course teachings: faith, grace, separation, forgiveness, guilt, fear, mind and body, the Holy Instant, and the meaning of freedom.

Mind, body and freedom concerned Pierre, a main character in Tolstoy’s War and Peace.  The French took him prisoner and forced him to join their retreat from Moscow.  Pierre endured, and realized that even though his body was detained, his captors could not confine his real self.  One night, looking up at the stars, he laughed, and said aloud to himself, “…they’re holding me prisoner. Who Me? ME? ──my immortal soul! Ha, ha, ha!   ” *      This Course passage expresses that concept.

You can enslave a body, but an idea is free, incapable of being kept in prison or limited in any way except by the mind that thought it. [T-19.I.16.4]

In his monumental novel Tolstoy dramatized how peace and war are different forms of human egocentric behavior. His stories of life in Russian upper-class homes before and during the 1812 war dramatize that they differ only in form from battlefield conflicts.

The review ending Part I of the Workbook build on the above. The review is a series of 20 brief lessons (201-220) which all begin and end with this phrase.

I am not a body I am free. For I am still as God created me.

As Pierre’s story shows, this refers to our reality as spirit, not our body. Following are Lessons 201 and 220.

                                        LESSON 201.
I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.
I trust my brothers, who are one with me.

No one but is my brother. I am blessed with oneness with the universe and God, my Father, one Creator of the whole that is my Self, forever One with me.
I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.

LESSON 220.
I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.
There is no peace except the peace of God.

Let me not wander from the way of peace, for I am lost on other roads than this. But let me follow Him Who leads me home, and peace is certain as the Love of God.
I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.

These two lessons, the first and last of the series, have content similar to all of the other lessons ─ follow the Holy Spirit on the road of peace to be joined in spirit with all of our sisters and brothers.

The Course helps us to cope with our ego-centered tendency to focus on our body by teaching us to have faith in the Holy Spirit’s presence in our mind. That faith helps to remember our true relationship with God in Heaven, “in which there are no illusions, and where none can ever enter.”       (from new Lord’s prayer T-16, VIII)

Focusing on our reality as Sons of God in Heaven is no excuse to blithely ignore the insanity of this world.  So what do we do?   Find ways to be kind to all of our fellow travelers here, and remember Greek philosopher Philo’s time-tested advice.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is doing a hard battle.”

*Tolstoy, War and Peace, Translation Copyright, 2007 by R. Pevear and L.    Volokhonsky, Alfred A. Knopf, p.1020.

We Already Have What We Thought We Lost

A few days ago my cell phone rang as I was helping my two Shia Tzus out of my car. It was one of my sons, so I chatted with him while taking my dogs into the house. As I was removing my fanny pack I saw that my cell phone wasn’t in it. I panicked.

I did a quick search around the house and remembered I had it when I got out of the car so I started to go out to the carport to see if I dropped it there. Then I realized I was still talking on it.

I laughed out loud at myself.

How many times have we searched for glasses only to discover they are on our heads? We all have discovered that we have what we thought we lost. However, we thought about it and realized (duuhhh) we in fact had it or them.

In my last blog I wrote about the “tiny mad idea” that we could lose our eternal home in Heaven at which “we forgot to laugh.”

So let’s giggle at our illusion that we have lost our eternal home in Heaven the same as we laugh at our flubs here in the separation.

Here is the Course passage about the “Tiny mad idea.”

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.6.2-5]

This is our Holiday season when Christmas and Hanukah are celebrated. Both are based on gifts from God: for Christians God’s son: for Jews deliverance from an enemy. Is it in keeping with this that we exchange gifts?

In ACIM Jesus gives us a different perspective: learn to remember God’s gift: our spirit God created as His One Son, as we see in this passage I’ve quoted before.

God did create spirit in His Own Thought and of a quality like to His Own. [T-3.v.7.3]

In the following passage about Christmas from ACIM “Christ” is Jesus along with us, and is manifested within us as the Holy Spirit, our Host to God. Therefore, we already have a star to light the darkness of our illusory separation from God.

The sign of Christmas is a star, a light in darkness. See it not outside yourself, but shining in the Heaven within, and accept it as the sign the time of Christ has come. He comes demanding nothing. No sacrifice of any kind, of anyone, is asked by Him. In His Presence the whole idea of sacrifice loses all meaning. For He is Host to God. And you need but invite Him in Who is there already, by recognizing that His Host is One, and no thought alien to His Oneness can abide with Him there. Love must be total to give Him welcome, for the Presence of Holiness creates the holiness that surrounds it. No fear can touch the Host Who cradles God in the time of Christ, for the Host is as holy as the perfect Innocence which He protects, and Whose power protects Him. [T-15.XI.2]

Workbook Lesson 91, Miracles are seen in Light, adds to these ideas. Practice for L-91 asks us to reflect on these statements in which “I am” refers to our realty in Heaven.

Miracles are seen in light.
The body’s eyes do not perceive the light.
But I am not a body.
What am I?
I am not week but strong.
I am not helpless, but all powerful.
I am not unlimited, but unlimited.
I am not doubtful, but certain,
I am not an illusion, but a reality.
I cannot see in darkness, but in light

Therefore, during this Christmas, in spite of the world-wide disruptive rhetoric about separation, above it all; calmly laugh at our “tiny mad idea” and remember God’s gift in our mind, the Holy Spirit. Then use the home work in Lesson 91 as the means to be loving and kind. Thus we will extend God’s gift to our sisters/brothers here in our illusory separation from God.

I wish everyone a happy holiday season filled with kindness and love.
Wade Alexander

Our Body – Our Hero in Our Dream

ACIM teaches us that the body is the hero of our dream: emphasizing that our wrong minded ego makes it as the means to focus on the separation. We give our body special attention, and make special ways of valuing it: shape, weight, skin color, hair color and length, strength, all are valued in combination for sexual reproduction and power. Absent a body we have no existence here in the separation.

Archeology has shown that the body is our signature evolutionary achievement. Size is the most obvious. Other changes are less obvious. Longevity, resistance to diseases bolstered by medical science, and enhanced stamina are noticeable. We have devoted considerable time, effort and resources to improving our ability to live longer in this separation. A Course in Miracles gives us ways to change how we think about what we do with and for our body.

Here are the opening sentences of the thirteen paragraphs of Section VIII “The ‘Hero’ of Our Dream,” from Text Chapter 27.

T-27 VIII 1.2 The body is the central figure in the dreaming of the world.

2.1 The dreaming of the world takes many forms, because the body seeks in many ways to prove it is autonomous and real.

3.1 The body’s serial adventures, from the time of birth to dying are the theme of every dream the world has ever had.

4.1 Thus are you not the dreamer, but the dream.

5.1 How willing are you to escape effects of all the dreams the world has ever had?

6.1. Let us return the dream he gave away unto the dreamer, who perceives the dream as separate from himself and done to him.

7.1 A timelessness in which is time made real; a part of God that can attack itself; a separate brother as an enemy; a mind within a body all are forms of circularity whose ending starts at its beginning, ending at its cause.
8.1 The world but demonstrates an ancient truth; you will believe that others do to you exactly what you think you did to them.

9.1 In gentle laughter does the Holy Spirit perceive the cause, and looks not to effects.

10.1 The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself.

11.1 This single lesson learned will set you free from suffering, whatever form it takes

12.1 Bring, then, all forms of suffering to Him Who knows that every one is like the rest. [Him refers to the Holy Spirit/Jesus]

13.1 How differently will you perceive the world when this is recognized!

I emphasized sentence one in paragraph six to call attention to one of the most valuable teachings in ACIM, which is in the second sentence, the ”tiny mad idea.” Our belief in the separation was caused by that. Here is all of paragraph six.

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. (both emphasis mine)

THE FIRST STEP IN CHANGING BELIEFS IS TO EXAMINE THEM. That’s why I outlined ACIM’s 13 paragraph discussion of how our ego-centric illusions make the world of separation. And above is the signature passage (paragraph six), which helps us to change our minds and see that the world is an illusion.

It is difficult to turn a mistaken belief into something to laugh about. But when we can laugh together it’s much easier. I learned that laughing is infectious during a high school party listening to and joining in with Spike Jones’s “Laughing Record.” Picture a room full of 1940s teens laughing themselves sick. Open Spike Jones’s classic with a Bing search or google and find out for yourself.

“Together,” in the above passages refers to the Holy Spirit/Jesus. We can join with Jesus in that laughter any time we choose to remember to laugh.

The World According To ACIM

The world is an illusion, and God does not create it. These two precepts form a central and primary point of view in A Course in Miracles.

Here is Ken Wapnick’s three part definition from his Glossary Index.

[It is] the expression of the belief of time and space, it was not created by god;
In the wrong mind, it is a prison of separation which reinforces the ego’s belief in sin and guilt, perpetuation the seeming existence of this world.
In the Right mind it is a classroom wherin we learn our lessons of forgiveness, the Holy Spirit’s teaching device to help us to transcend the world; thus the purpose of the world is to teach us there is no world.

It is difficult to change our belief that God creates the world, because it is shielded within us by layers of beliefs: teachings from religions, and family and social structures. A paradigm shift, a change of mind, is needed to abandon the comfort that God takes care of us in the world instead of accepting that our perception causes it to spin in front of our eyes, and therefore; we are responsible for our experiences here.

In the introduction of Text Chapter 2, REASON AND PERCEPTION, Jesus offers us clear teachings which reveal this view. I emphasized the middle sentence because it insists that we change our mind to alter our beliefs.

Projection makes perception. The world you see is what you gave it, nothing more than that. But though it is no more than that, it is not less. Therefore, to you it is important. It is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition. As a man thinketh, so does he perceive. Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world. Perception is a result and not a cause. And that is why order of difficulty in miracles is meaningless. Everything looked upon with vision is healed and holy. Nothing perceived without it means anything. And where there is no imparts meaning, there is chaos. [T-21.In.1] (my emphasis)

This way of thinking differs profoundly from the many “self-help” methods which tout ways for us to change the world.

The final sentence in the above passage recalls my last blog about the men in Sweden and Las Vegas who murdered their fellow humans. My view was that they felt they lived in a meaningless world. The result was chaos and murder. How can we cope with this? The following two lessons in the Workbook for Students contain helpful ideas.

The workbook is divided into two parts. First, here are passages from LESSON 23 in Part I.

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts. The idea for today [the above in bold] contains the only way out of fear that will ever succeed. Nothing else will work; everything else is meaningless. But this way cannot fail. Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed. 

In practice for this lesson we are instructed to express this thought.
I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about __________.

The blank can be filed with any name we chose. The nightly news, replete with attacks, provides many to select. Fill the blank, hold the thought in our mind, and let it go. Include both our attack on others, and those directed at ourselves. We need to be let go of both ─ forgiven.

Part II consists of 14 Questions, which include discussion and answers to its question. The following passages are from question number 3, What Is the World, which builds on Lesson 23.

The world is false perception. It is born of error, and it has not left its source. It will remain no longer than the thought that gave it birth is cherished. When the thought of separation has been changed to one of true forgiveness, will the world be seen in quite another light; and one which leads to truth, where all the world must disappear and all its errors vanish. Now its source has gone, and its effects are gone as well.

The world was made as an attack on God. It symbolizes fear. And what is fear except love’s absence? Thus the world was meant to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him. Here was perception born, for knowledge could not cause such insane thoughts. But eyes deceive, and ears hear falsely. Now mistakes become quite possible, for certainty has gone. [w.pII.3.1-2]

These dramatic excerpts illustrate Jesus’ unequivocal teaching about the world. They complement teachings in the Text and Manual for Teachers.

The Supplement to the Course, known as the Psychotherapy Pamphlet, contains Helen Shuchman’s final words from Jesus. They give us a further way to escape from the world. They apply to all of us (as well as psychiatrists) while we try to make sense of this world and help our sisters/brothers do the same. These words offer certain help for us to cope with the world we make happen.

[While contemplating the following, keep in mind that in Course teachings prior to this Pamphlet, to heal refers to healing our mind about sickness and the role of bodies in making the separation: our helper is The Holy Spirit (synonymous with Jesus): and the Christ is Jesus/The Holy Spirit and God’s Son ─ all of us.]

Physician, healer, therapist, teacher, heal thyself. Many will come to you carrying the gift of healing, if you so elect. The Holy Spirit never refuses an invitation to enter and abide with you. He will give you endless opportunities to open the door to your salvation, for such is His function. He will also tell you exactly what your function is in every circumstance and at all times. Whoever He sends you will reach you, holding out his hand to his Friend. Let the Christ in you bid him welcome, for that same Christ is in him as well. Deny him entrance, and you have denied the Christ in you. Remember the sorrowful story of the world, and the glad tidings of salvation. Remember the plan of God for the restoration of joy and peace. And do not forget how very simple are the ways of God:

You were lost in the darkness of the world until you asked for light.
And then God sent His Son to give it to you. [P-3.III.8]

The Son God sent to us to give us light is the Holy Spirit/Jesus.

Why Did He Do It?

Still, now weeks later, authorities in Las Vegas have no idea why a man (again) murdered at least 59 and wounded close to 600 people who were listening to Country and Western Music in a park there.

In my last blog I wrote that we take part in music events to make connections to mitigate separation. Perhaps he objected to that and decided to stop it. I don’t know.

Also in my last blog I quoted two writers who give us insights into violent behavior. The first was Andrew Brown who told about a Swedish white supremacist who murdered school teachers and children.

Brown described the man’s mind set this way.

There is… the question that echoes at the edge of hearing, which has to do with the opaque banality of his life: the sense that beneath all the social explanations, and even the psychological ones, there is just a blank. *

I don’t believe that the Las Vega murderer ever considered that that this world is an illusion. I read that he was a successful and habitual gambler, and had a lucrative real estate business. His brother, with who he was not close, was astounded. He sent his one woman acquaintance away to the Philippians. His “blank” was, “the opaque banality of his life.”

This insight by Costica Bradaten in, Why and how we fail,* also in my last blog, gives us another clue.

Atavistic as it may be… we still find nothing worse than to be left out, all alone, the one in the corner no one talks to. There can hardly be a harsher predicament than to belong to no tribe ─ reclaimed by none, exposed to all ─ and therefore doomed to perdition.

I think the Las Vegas shooter came to view his life as Bradaten describes. To what and to whom did he belong?      There was ─ “just a blank.”

I wrote this in my last blog about separation.

…alone, living this way, too many among us behave in unsolvable ways; finding a seeming permanent individual solution for their “blank” illusory separation.

I submit that the prolific gun owner chose some of those weapons to find what he thought would be a lasting way to solve the blank emptiness of his life.

How can thoughts in A Course in Miracles help with this? The first sentence from new Lord’s Prayer surely will.

Forgive us our illusions, Father, and help us to accept our true relationship with You, in which there are no illusions, and where none can ever enter.

Our illusions make this insane world. In Heaven there are no illusions. When we accept those thoughts the blank is filled by reminding us that Heaven is our true reality. Thus we are never “alone.”

*Published in The Browser, 9/21/17
* Published in The Browser, 9/24/2017
* Found at the very end of Text Chapter 16.

SEPARATION – REDUX FOR THESE TIMES

Andrew Brown’s recent article in the Browser reminded me of the Course teaching about the separation, which, due to the extreme divisions throughout the world, led me to re-visit that issue.

Brown tells about his years as a young man in Sweden when he observed unity there. He then contrasts that time with recent months when that is fractured by conflicting beliefs regarding immigrants. Their mostly cohesive society of the late 20th century is now divided by racial animus (as is ours). Brown tells how that led a Swedish white supremacist to murder school teachers and children. Brown describes the man’s mind set this way.

There is… the question that echoes at the edge of hearing, which has to do with the opaque banality of his life: the sense that beneath all the social explanations, and even the psychological ones, there is just a blank.

My first thought as I read this was: he is so separated from his fellow humans that he turned to murder as his only way to connect with them. Coupled with that is racial animus – his victims were immigrants of color.

But helpfully; Costica Bradaten gives us another insight in, “Why and how we fail.” *

Atavistic as it may be… we still find nothing worse than to be left out, all alone, the one in the corner no one talks to. There can hardly be a harsher predicament than to belong to no tribe ─ reclaimed by none, exposed to all ─ and therefore doomed to perdition.

The murderer sensed but did not understand that this world is an illusion. That was his blank. He was alone, separate and threatened by outsiders who upset his world view.

We have separation with in separation within separation. When we split our mind and separated from God we divided ourselves (at the least), by gender, families, clan, tribe, race, religion, countries and political beliefs.

This chain of separation then causes us to yearn for unity. Ironically we find it within each of the above categories. We form bands of brothers in armies, flocks in churches and mosques, and identity in our race. Thus, in our self-made separation from God we seek and find ways to overcome the hell of loneliness and join in special groups with our fellow humans, which, in itself, induces more separation.

Added to this jumble of beliefs is neoliberalism which for several decades has promulgated economic policies based on the belief that competitive markets and individual incentives lead to economic growth. Alone, living this way, too many among us behave in unsolvable ways; finding a seeming permanent individual solution for their “blank” illusory separation.

In a Jane Roberts Seth class I attended in the early 70s he shared this.

The only reason there is to suffer is to learn how not to suffer.

This paraphrase of his words could help in this discussion.

The only reason to separate is to learn how not to be separate.

One way many people do this is by joining in music groups which connect us in positive ways. We love to sing and to play musical instruments together. Sport also joins communities and team members, but all too often leads to unsavory competition. The ultimate way or goal; however, is to learn how to remember that we are still joined with God in Heaven.

In ACIM that process is the Atonement. It is Jesus’ most important goal in his course. In his Glossary Index Ken Wapnick defines it as,

the holy Spirit’s plan of correction to undo the ego and heal the belief in the separation: came into being after the separation, and will be completed when every separated Son has fulfilled his part in the Atonement by total forgiveness: its principle is that the separation never occurred.*

This passage: paragraph10, Section II of Text Chapter 6, gives us clear teaching about the Atonement and the separation.

The Holy Spirit uses time, but does not believe in it. Coming from God He uses everything for good, but He does not believe in what is not true. Since the Holy Spirit is in your mind, your mind can also believe only what is true. The Holy Spirit can speak only for this, because He speaks for God. He tells you to return your whole mind to God, because it has never left Him. If it has never left Him, you need only perceive it as it is to be returned. The full awareness of the Atonement, then, is the recognition that [the separation never occurred.] The ego cannot prevail against this because it is an explicit statement that the ego never occurred. [my emphasis]

It takes a leap of faith to believe that the separation never occurred. Our belief that this world is real is existential, so embedded in our split mind that we need a miracle to change our mind to find the little willingness take that step. That’s why Atonement is cited early in ACIM in Miracle Principles number 25 and 26.

25. Miracles are part of an interlocking chain of forgiveness which, when completed, is the Atonement. Atonement works all the time and in all the dimensions of time.
26. Miracles represent freedom from fear. “Atoning” means “undoing.” The undoing of fear is an essential part of the Atonement value of miracles. [my emphasis]

By working “in all dimensions of time” Atonement, takes place in the separation. Undoing fear reduces our ego-centered adherence to the separation. It leads us to remember our true reality in Heaven. The central sentence in the new Lord’s Prayer leads our mind to that truth.

The sleep of forgetfulness is only the unwillingness to remember Your forgiveness and Your Love. [T-16.VII.12]

The “sleep of forgetfulness” is the separation. It is based on our unwilling ego-centered mind. We need only to be willing to remember to replace the “blank” of illusion with the reality of God’s forgiveness and love. That is Atonement, which takes us to where our mind is eternally with God in Heaven. There, where illusions cannot enter, the Holy Mind God gave us resides eternally within God’s indissoluble union.

* Published in The Browser, 9/26/2017
*Glossary Index for A Course in Miracles 4th Ed. P.32