COURSE REVIEW for Tuesday, February 3, 2015
The Course has been likened to a symphony. Taking this analogy, here are just some of the motifs (or themes) that have been introduced in the symphony these past couple of weeks:
Atonement Without Sacrifice
Perception versus Knowledge
Right Teaching and Right Learning
Before exploring these motifs a bit, let’s consider a line from later in the Course, in a section called “The Forgotten Song.” The line is: “The notes are nothing.” Meaning the notes of the song (the Great Symphony) that remind us of Home (God, the Kingdom, Real World, Heaven, etc) are nothing, no matter how beautiful they are, because they are still part of the illusion of separation.
Well, the words of the Course in a sense are the notes of that song, leading us back home. You could say they are “Love Notes” from Jesus to us, and as such, they are the closest thing we have to a guidebook to Heaven. Yet ultimately, Jesus doesn’t really exist (as he said in the Text a few days ago), and neither does the Song (the Course). They are all there only to lead us back BEYOND them, to the place where individual words and things are meaningless, to the “place” beyond time and space and symbols, where only Love is real.
This was a long-winded and hopefully not too confusing way of reminding us not to get too much caught up and hung up on words and language here, and simplify this to what it’s really all about, which is the return to Love.
In other words, as the Course says, not to confuse “Form” and “Content.” The Form would be the words/symbols that the Course uses to help bring us back Home. The Content is the Perfect Love that inspired it all, and which transcends it all. It is that which we are seeking — the experience of Perfect Love, of Perfect Oneness — and not mere words and theology.
That said, the Course also tells us clearly that we’re really not seeking Love at this point, crazy as that sounds, but instead merely looking at all of the barriers we have built within ourselves to keep Love hidden from us. In other words, we have to understand what the Ego is, and recognize that even though it is no match for God, from our perspective it is really a force to be reckoned with, and one that we have allowed to “wreck” a lot in our lives because we haven’t reckoned it so much. (I reckon! : )
In other words, Jesus is really focusing a lot throughout the Course in all the little “scraps” that we have allowed to get in the way of our journey home. So let’s just remember that as we go through the motifs that have been introduced these past couple weeks…
Let’s start with: Atonement Without Sacrifice
“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. Knowing His Son as he is, you realise that the Atonement, not sacrifice, is the only appropriate gift for God’s altar, where nothing except perfection belongs. The understanding of the innocent is truth. That is why their altars are truly radiant.”
Put simply, sacrifice comes from a feeling of guilt and sin, and the sense that God needs to be appeased because of our sin. In olden days, they used to sacrifice animals and even people to “atone” for their sins. Later, Jesus was seen as the final “sacrifice” that was to “atone” for the sins of humanity. Now Jesus is saying that this kind of sacrifice is not necessary and was never necessary, because the Ego made the “God” that needed to be appeased for guilt in its own image. The True God does not even recognize the Ego, let alone what drives it, which is sin and guilt. The Course thus re-defines “Atonement” to be the remembrance that we are One with God and are thus completely innocent. No sacrifice is necessary.
What is necessary is to fully remember that we are indeed innocent, and this is where the mind training that the Course is aiming at comes in. As the Text says:
“Innocence is not a partial attribute. It is not real until it is total. The partly innocent are apt to be quite foolish at times. It is not until their innocence becomes a viewpoint with universal application that it becomes wisdom. Innocent or true perception means that you never misperceive and always see truly. More simply, it means that you never see what does not exist, and always see what does.”
In other words, we are being asked to look at when we start to view ourselves as NOT innocent – that is, when we start to identify with the Ego – and remind ourselves what is really true, which is that we are not the Ego, but One with God, and thus completely innocent. Is anyone else feeling that this is really going to take some doing/undoing? Sheeshkabob!
Here’s another quote:
“To be one is to be of one mind or will. When the Will of the Sonship and the Father are one, their perfect accord is Heaven.”
This brings us to the next motif:
Perception versus Knowledge
“Perception” is what we do here; we attain “Knowledge” only when we transcend our separated state.
Simply put, from where we’re at in our state of apparent separation, we cannot truly know anything, we can only perceive. And we can perceive either correctly or incorrectly. Jesus is trying to help us perceive things correctly, which is that we are innocent, that we are One with God. And Jesus is asking us to see everyone else that way, too, for as we see others, we see ourselves, and vice versa. When we correct the mis-perceptions of the Ego, then we get closer and closer to Knowledge. When we finally do get to Knowledge, though, just “know” that there will be no one there to know that you’re there, if that makes any sense whatsoever, and if it does, please let me know! ; )
Here’s a quote from the section dealing with this motif:
“If you attack error in another, you will hurt yourself. You cannot know your brother when you attack him. Attack is always made upon a stranger. You are making him a stranger by misperceiving him, and so you cannot know him. It is because you have made him a stranger that you are afraid of him. Perceive him correctly so that you can know him. There are no strangers in God’s creation. To create as He created you can create only what you know, and therefore accept as yours. God knows His children with perfect certainty, He created them by knowing them. He recognises them perfectly. When they do not recognise each other, they do not recognise Him.”
In other words, when we mis-perceive ourself or others (our brothers) by seeing us or them as any less than God, we have identified with the Ego and distanced ourselves from God. Don’t go there!
What Jesus is also trying to get us to see is that from the state of separateness that we seem to be in, we cannot truly know ourself as we really are as we’re constantly in a state of doubt and ambivalence about everything, including the Course and Jesus. This is why a bit of faith is required to follow all of this. Here are a couple of quotes from the Text:
“The fundamental question you continually ask yourself cannot properly be directed to yourself at all. You keep asking what it is you are. This implies that the answer is not only one you know, but is also one that is up to you to supply. Yet you cannot perceive yourself correctly. You have no image to be perceived. The word ‘image’ is always perception-related, and not a part of knowledge. Images are symbolic and stand for something else. The idea of ‘changing your image’ recognises the power of perception, but also implies that there is nothing stable to know.”
“How beautiful indeed are the Thoughts of God who live in His Light! Your worth is beyond perception because it is beyond doubt. Do not perceive yourself in different lights. Know yourself in the One Light where the miracle that is you is perfectly clear.”
Our next motif: Error and the Ego
There’s a quote that Gretchen told me about at one point:
“Fire the Judge, and Hire the Witness.” Pretty good, huh? Well, Jesus in the Course is saying something very similar. Essentially the message is to fire yourself as your teacher, because it obviously isn’t working, is it? Or, it’s only working to the extent that you are following the deeper proddings of Love and identifying with and acting from that rather than Ego. So fire yourself and hire Jesus — or any other truly Awakened Guide that you choose, remember the “Form” doesn’t matter. It doesn’t, but because the Course is being given by “Jesus,” he is asking us to take his hand and really take everything he is saying here to heart. While he cannot choose for us, he can at least show us (through his words) that choosing the Ego rather than God will never work. So why wait? Why not just start to do it now?
Here’s a quote that deals with this:
“I was a man who remembered spirit and its knowledge. As a man I did not attempt to counteract error with knowledge, but to correct error from the bottom up. I demonstrated both the powerlessness of the body and the power of the mind. By uniting my will with that of my Creator, I naturally remembered spirit and its real purpose. I cannot unite your will with God’s for you, but I can erase all misperceptions from your mind if you will bring it under my guidance. Only your misperceptions stand in your way. Without them your choice is certain. Sane perception induces sane choosing. I cannot choose for you, but I can help you make your own right choice. ‘Many are called but few are chosen’ should be, ‘All are called but few choose to listen’. Therefore, they do not choose right. The ‘chosen ones’ are merely those who choose right sooner. Right minds can do this now, and they will find rest unto their souls. God knows you only in peace, and this is your reality.”
Our next motif: Judgement and the Authority Problem
Basically, Jesus is trying to show us that not only is it not in our best interest to judge, but that we can’t really judge anything correctly anyway, so give it up. Also, when we judge, we think we have the “Authority” to do so. We don’t. We just end up digging ourselves deeper into the Ego’s hole, so to speak. When we judge, we are essentially saying that separation is real, projecting our hidden guilt onto someone or something else. Here is a quote from the reading:
“When the Bible says ‘Judge not that ye be not judged’, it means that if you judge the reality of others you will be unable to avoid judging your own.”
And here’s another passage about not making the mistake of seeing ourselves as our own Authority who can judge:
“One of the illusions from which you suffer is the belief that what you judged against has no effect. This cannot be true unless you also believe that what you judged against does not exist. You evidently do not believe this, or you would not have judged against it. In the end it does not matter whether your judgement is right or wrong. Either way you are placing your belief in the unreal. This cannot be avoided in any type of judgement, because it implies the belief that reality is yours to select from.”
In fact, I believe that really Jesus is saying that we don’t need to judge at all, even to plan for the future. In the following quote he tells us that “you don’t need judgement to organise your life.” If you have read the Gospels, this seems to be the same message as his telling the apostles to “consider the lilies of the field who neither toil nor spin.” All we really need to do is to do our work of undoing the Ego. Here’s the passage:
“You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgement. When you recognise what you are and what your brothers are, you will realise that judging them in any way is without meaning. In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely because you are judging them. All uncertainty comes from the belief that you are under the coercion of judgement. You do not need judgement to organise your life, and you certainly do not need it to organise yourself. In the presence of knowledge all judgement is automatically suspended, and this is the process that enables recognition to replace perception.”
One final quote on this issue of the “authority problem”:
“Peace is a natural heritage of spirit. Everyone is free to refuse to accept his inheritance, but he is not free to establish what his inheritance is. The problem everyone must decide is the fundamental question of authorship. All fear comes ultimately, and sometimes by way of very devious routes, from the denial of Authorship. The offence is never to God, but only to those who deny Him. To deny His Authorship is to deny yourself the reason for your peace, so that you see yourself only in segments. This strange perception is the authority problem.”
Review Number V! (Just when you thought the madness was over!)
Calling this one, “KILL THE MESSENGER.” (And if you’re Rasta, then “MessenJAH” : )
AND…I only called it that to get your attention. Perhaps you’ve seen that Jesus takes a most gentle, nonviolent approach to teaching!
My point is to highlight something Jesus said recently in the Text in regard to what a “good teacher” does, and that is to ultimately make themselves dispensable. In other words, it’s not about the teacher/messenger, it’s about the message, and even the message will ultimately be forgotten, too.
I bring this up because I wanted to share something that might be helpful to you, especially because not everyone out there might share the perspective that I am about to share…
Because the Course is so difficult to comprehend for so many, clearly its important to find the right “interpreter” of what the Course is saying. For me, that would be Ken Wapnick. I consider him to be my “go to” person for help in understanding what the Course is all about. I am recommending strongly that you start with him when you have questions about the Course.
Why? Well, not only because he knew the Course so well (he was the original editor, brought in by Helen and Bill, and taught it for 40 years), but because as far as I can see, he truly lived it and did not make it about him at all. He was just the messenger, and he really did a great job of teaching just the Course, no more, no less.
Like the Course, I am just trying to save you time here, because you will probably see different teachers of the Course saying and doing different things. Just keep in mind that there no doubt was a very good reason that Helen, Bill, and I would say, yes, even Jesus, chose Ken to do the great work that he did.
Anyway, that’s all I had to say, and just want to conclude with a slightly abridged form of the chapter from last week on teaching and learning:
“A good teacher clarifies his own ideas and strengthens them by teaching them. Teacher and pupil are alike in the learning process. They are in the same order of learning, and unless they share their lessons conviction will be lacking. A good teacher must believe in the ideas he teaches, but he must meet another condition; he must believe in the student to whom he offers the ideas…
“Many stand guard over their ideas because they want to protect their thought systems as they are, and learning means change. Change is always fearful to the separated, because they cannot conceive of it as a move towards healing the separation…
“Spirit need not be taught, but the ego must be. Learning is ultimately perceived as frightening because it leads to the relinquishment, not the destruction, of the ego to the light of spirit. This is the change the ego must fear, because it does not share my charity. My lesson was like yours, and because I learned it I can teach it. I will never attack your ego, but I am trying to teach you how its thought system arose. When I remind you of your true creation, your ego cannot but respond with fear…
“Teaching and learning are your greatest strengths now, because they enable you to change your mind and help others to change theirs…
“Every good teacher hopes to give his students so much of his own learning that they will one day no longer need him. This is the one true goal of the teacher. It is impossible to convince the ego of this, because it goes against all of its own laws…”