Q: Sometimes we
deny things, and we think we have changed our minds already...
A: As it says right
at the end of the text, "Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn
presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now
can make a better one... " (text, p. 620; T-3l.VIII.3:1). Obviously, most
of the time we have not totally undone all our guilt, and there may be
relationships that we believe we have healed and resolved and something
happens a year later and, bang, all those same feelings just come surging
back. Everyone has had that kind of experience.
This does not necessarily mean that
we failed when we originally tried to work on it. What it probably means
is that we went as far as we could go at that point, and then at some later
point we were ready to take another step and heal a deeper layer of guilt.
Then an opportunity presents itself and we find ourselves getting angry
and upset, feeling hurt and victimized, and that is what tells us that
we had not thoroughly let go of this belief, because what happens now is
that it becomes projected out onto this person. The ego would tell us that
we should believe that we are failures; what the Holy Spirit would tell
us is that now we are ready to take another step. That is really the whole
thrust of the Course: to help us look at everything that happens in our
lives as an opportunity of healing and forgiving something that was deeply
buried in us that we did not know was there. And there are no exceptions
to that principle.
In fact, where the Course's great power
comes from is that it is so consistent and simple in everything it says.
It really teaches us only one way to look at everything in the world.
That is the way of A Course in Miracles:
that everything that occurs is an opportunity for us to heal our minds,
and it does not matter whether we get upset about some terrible event that
we are reading about in the newspaper, or we get upset by a trivial thing
that happens in our homes or our families, communities, or work situations.
Q: Although there
may be no order of difficulty in miracles, we are pretty well convinced
that there is anyway. In view of that fact, is it likely that we would
need to experience forgiveness with a big issue before we get around to
the other ones?
A: We work on whatever
it is we can work on. Some people feel just the opposite, that the big
ones are too much. So they practice on the little ones: the person who
cuts you off on the highway, or someone who does a little annoying thing,
or something that your kids may not do around the house that they are supposed
to do. Some people find those easier to deal with than the larger issues,
and other people feel just the opposite.
Q: Do you have
to do all those things?
A: You do not have
to, it is just that you would feel better if you do, that is all.
Q: Would the first
principle also mean that it would be just as easy to have cancer cured
as a cold?
A: Yes, but you
can mistake the idea that the problem is the cancer or the cold of the
body. That is not the problem. The problem is the thought that led to it,
The Course says the only meaning of anything is what it is for. You do
not focus on the symptom of the cancer any more than you would focus on
the remission of the cancer, because that is not the problem. The cancer
may serve a purpose, not only for that particular person, but for the people
in that person's life -- family, friends, medical people, etc.
Q: So that "there
is no order of difficulty in miracles" never really means the cure of anything,
it really means a change in perception.
A: Right, it means
a change in mind. We will discuss that over and over again as we go through
Q: In line with
that, if your thought has caused the cancerous condition and your mind
does, in fact, become healed, does it not then be come irrelevant, whether
or not the physical cancer is healed?
A: Right. People
often use physical healing as a way of proving either their own spiritual
or mental health, or the lack of it: "If I am really doing this right,
then this tumor will disappear." And again, what it is doing is making
this real. When your mind is really healed, it will not be a burning issue
for you. It does not mean that the tumor will not disappear. It just means
that your investment will not be in having it disappear. Your investment
will be in having peace in your mind.
Q: Does not "death"
mean that we just lie down and give up the body at the appropriate point?
A: If you mean
by "appropriate" that we die when we have completed the lessons that we
came to learn, yes. However, we may also change our mind and choose to
leave our body before we have completed these lessons. As the Course says:
"And no one dies without his own consent" (workbook, p. 274; W-pI.152.1:4).
Q: To what degree
does the shared perception of illness of those around us come into play?
To what degree does that lock us into that perception, even though our
mind is in the process of changing?
A: Within each
of us there are always two voices. There is the ego's voice and the Holy
Spirit's Voice. Most of the time we are going back and forth. Let us say
that I am really practicing what A Course in Miracles is saying,
but I am not totally practicing it. I still have some doubts or some fears,
and you come along and other people come along and strongly reinforce the
ego's way of looking. There is no question that that will strengthen my
ego. If I were really firm, if I knew that everything the ego told me was
false, then it would not matter how many people, thousands or millions,
said something. I would know deep within me that it did not make any difference.
But if I am wavering, then my ego will always be on the lookout for those
people it can use as witnesses to reinforce its case. But the problem is
not the people who are reinforcing it. The problem is that I am unconsciously
looking for those witnesses that will prove that my ego is correct. As
we all know, you do not have to look very far in the world. If you really
want to prove that anger is justified, sickness is terrible, and separation
is real, you will find witnesses all around you. As long as we are wavering,
there is no question that other people's negative or ego thoughts will
strengthen our own. They are not responsible for our own because that is
like voodoo, the idea that you can influence someone else. The Course would
never teach that, because that then puts the responsibility onto someone
else. What A Course in Miracles would say is that other people's
thoughts or what happens in the world can reinforce your own ego. But if
you are really clear about what you believe, it will have no effect at
all. Jesus, of course, would be the ultimate example.
Therefore, it is falling into the ego's
trap to believe that smoking causes cancer; guilt does. But if you believe
that smoking will hurt you, then you should not smoke. If you are diabetic,
and the sickness still is part of your thought system, then not taking
insulin would be an unconscious attempt to punish yourself, as would be
eating ice cream, etc. In this context, then, taking care of your sick
body would be the most loving and forgiving thing you could do.
Q: What does it
mean to "hear" the Holy Spirit?
A: To speak of
hearing the Holy Spirit is really a metaphor, just as it is to speak of
Him as being God's Voice. The Holy Spirit communicates to us through our
minds, and He will use any means or vehicle that we can accept. Thus, it
can be what we call intuition, imagination, a sudden thought or insight,
a dream, a feeling of words or thoughts coming to us that we "hear" and
know are not our own. He is not fussy; He will use anything we give Him.
Let us move along, otherwise we will
never get past the first line. The second line, of course, is just another
way of saying what we have been talking about. To say that there are no
"harder" or "bigger" miracles is the same thing as saying there are no
harder or bigger problems. Bill Thetford used to say that the first principle
could be restated as: There is no order of difficulty in problem solving.
All problems are the same and, therefore, all the solutions are the same.
"All expressions of love are maximal."
Most of you have probably heard me talk about the two levels that the Course
is written on. The first is the metaphysical level, which is really not
what we are spending much time on today. The second is the more practical
level that contrasts the two ways of looking in the world. But the first
level really is the part of the Course that does not have any compromise
to it. Something is either all true or it is all false, and there is no
in-between. You cannot be a little bit pregnant; you either are or you
are not. On the second level, we go back and forth all the time between
the ego and the Holy Spirit. But this statement, "all expressions of love
are maximal," really is a Level One statement: You cannot have a little
bit of love. You either have love or you do not have love, because one
of the characteristics of love is that it is total, complete, and there
are no exclusions to it, no exceptions. All expressions of love must be
maximal, which is another way of saying that there is only one problem
in the world. That problem is hatred or fear; and, therefore, there is
only one solution for that problem, and that is love. Love does not come
from us; it does not come from this world. Love comes from God, through
the Holy Spirit Who then inspires us to be what we would call loving.
A Course in Miracles also teaches
that no one in this world can be loving, because it says that love without
ambivalence is impossible here (text, p. 66; T-4.III.4:6). The very fact
that we are here means that we have an ego, which means that we believe
in separation. This means we cannot believe in the all-inclusive nature
of love. Technically, forgiveness is this world's equivalent of Heaven's
love, and love comes to us from God through the Holy Spirit in our minds,
Who then inspires all of the loving things that we would do. But here with
the use of the word "love" we can see how the Course is certainly not strict
in its usage. Very often it will speak of love in terms of what we do here.
Q: What is he speaking
of here then? If "all expressions of love are maximal," that would only
apply to God's Love.
A: Yes, but God's
Love through the Holy Spirit here. In other words, the context of the statement
is the miracle. The miracle comes from love. The next principle talks about
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