THE COURSE'S USE OF LANGUAGE-II
THE SYMBOLISM OF FORGIVENESS
Continuation of Chapter 3, FEW
CHOOSE TO LISTEN from
Volume Two of THE
MESSAGE OF A COURSE IN MIRACLES®
By Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
An Uncompromising Non-Dualism
We can summarize this and the
previous chapter with the following statement, slightly modified from the
manual for teachers. In its original form, the subject of the passage is
death, "the central dream from which all illusions stem" (M-27.1:1), yet
the principle applies as well to our theme of recognizing duality for what
it is. Here is the passage, with the word duality substituted for
Teacher of God, your one assignment
could be stated thus: Accept no compromise in which duality plays a
part. Do not believe in cruelty, nor let attack conceal the truth from
you. What seems to die has but been misperceived and carried to illusion.
Now it becomes your task to let the illusion be carried to the truth. Be
steadfast but in this; be not deceived by the "reality" of any changing
form. Truth neither moves nor wavers nor sinks down to death
and dissolution (M-27.7:1-6; italics and bold mine).
A similar idea is more succinctly stated
in the text:
Yet the truth is you and your
brother were both created by a loving Father, Who created you together
and as one. See what "proves" otherwise, and you deny your whole
reality (T-21.II.13:1-2; italics mine).
The message of A Course in Miracles
is effectively summarized in these passages. The uncompromising principle
of not accepting as true any form that duality takes can serve as the criterion
by which to know where the meaning of Jesus' words in A Course in Miracles
should be taken literally and where metaphorically.*
Any statement, without exception, that suggests God, the Holy Spirit, or
Jesus as being a person outside ourselves, let alone as an actual
who interacts with our separated selves and the world, is expressing a
dualistic dimension that is meant only as a metaphor to teach the meaning
of God's non-dualistic Love to dualistic minds. Similarly, statements that
would seem to suggest that we need to forgive someone perceived as external
to us follow the same metaphoric principle. In truth, there is no person
outside us, since we all are -- including, we may add, the person we identify
as ourselves -- projected images of a split mind. While our experience
is that we forgive others, in reality we are really forgiving split-off
parts of our self, as I described in great detail in Chapter Five in All
Are Called. That is why the penultimate meaning of forgiveness
is that, through the Holy Spirit's help, we learn to forgive ourselves.
Only then can we take forgiveness' final step of realizing that there is
nothing to forgive.
Therefore, as we have repeatedly seen
in this chapter, to take these symbols literally is to confuse levels and
compromise the truth. Only those statements that reflect the unified reality
of Heaven and God and Christ should be understood as true and should
be taken literally. To make the point one more time, Jesus' teachings come
largely within a dualistic framework, since on the lower rungs of the ladder
-- where almost all of the Sonship typically are found -- that framework
is all that can be understood. However, Jesus also holds out to his students
where the ladder is leading. And it is the non-dualistic statements, interspersed
throughout the three books, that point the way we are to go when we are
ready. A wonderful passage from the workbook expresses this range of the
ladder that represents our journey back to God:
Our Love awaits us as we go
to Him, and walks beside us showing us the way. He fails in nothing. He
the end we seek, and He the Means by which we go to Him (W-pII.302.2).
Imagine Jesus, therefore, as the symbol
of this Love. His reality (and our own) as God's Love is at the top of
the ladder ("the end we seek"), at the same time we experience his love
guiding us from the bottom as we make our way up the ladder ("the means
by which we go to Him").
To confuse means and end,
duality and non-duality, will ensure that students of A Course in Miracles
will never move beyond the lower rungs of the ladder to complete the journey
home. In these two chapters we have seen how often in the Course Jesus
refers to the inherent limitation of language in not being able to express
truth directly. It is clear from these many references that Jesus most
certainly wishes his students to understand this essential idea. Rather
than bringing him down to our level, the ego's perennial ploy, students
of the Course are asked by Jesus to allow him to raise them up to his.
Only then can the goal of A Course in Miracles -- complete forgiveness
for what never happened -- be achieved. We shall return to this important
theme at the conclusion of the book.
As a way of summarizing this discussion
of the differences between duality and non-duality, we present portions
from the first part of the supplement, The
Song of Prayer. Here the image of a ladder is introduced to describe
the process of forgiveness or prayer. Though, as with A Course in Miracles
itself, the terms duality and non-duality are not used, the
description of the ladder's rungs extending from form to formlessness serve
the same purpose of expressing the student's movement from the illusory
world of perception and form (duality) to the upper rungs where the world
of separation gradually disappears into the unity of God's creation (non-duality).
This summary is, in effect, a wonderful portrait of the Course's path of
forgiving the arrogant world of guilt, illusion, and specificity through
looking at the ego with humility and without fear. Thus God's world of
knowledge and oneness is allowed at last to dawn on the Son's pure and
unsullied mind. Here, then, is the ladder of duality, ultimately reaching
beyond itself to the non-dualistic truth of Heaven. Part of what is presented
here, the reader may recall, was discussed in Chapter Seven of All Are
Called (pp. 312-16):
Prayer has no beginning and
no end. It is a part of life. But it does change in form, and grow with
learning until it reaches its formless state, and fuses into total communication
with God. In its asking form it need not, and often does not, make appeal
to God, or even involve belief in Him. At these levels prayer is merely
wanting, out of a sense of scarcity and lack....
Finally, we conclude this chapter with
a lovely and prayerful passage from the end of workbook Lesson 167, summarizing
the goal of using the reflections of truth to lead beyond all reflections
to the Oneness of Truth Itself. It can be read as a meditation:
Prayer is a ladder reaching up to Heaven....
Prayer in its earlier forms is an illusion, because there is no need for
a ladder to reach what one has never left. Yet prayer is part of forgiveness
as long as forgiveness, itself an illusion, remains unattained. Prayer
is tied up with learning until the goal of learning has been reached....
The stages necessary to its attainment, however, need to be understood,
if peace is to be restored to God's Son, who lives now with the illusion
of death and the fear of God....
The earlier forms of prayer, at the
bottom of the ladder, will not be free from envy and malice. They call
for vengeance, not for love....
At these levels, then, the learning
goal must be to recognize that prayer will bring an answer only in the
form in which the prayer was made. This is enough. From here it will be
an easy step to the next levels....
Guilt must be given up, and not concealed.
Nor can this be done without some pain, and a glimpse of the merciful nature
of this step may for some time be followed by a deep retreat into fear....
Even the joining [in prayer of two brothers],
then, is not enough, if those who pray together do not ask, before all
else, what is the Will of God. From this Cause only can the answer come
in which are all specifics satisfied; all separate wishes unified in one.
Prayer for specifics always asks to have the past repeated in some way....
Prayer is a way to true humility. And
here again it rises slowly up, and grows in strength and love and holiness.
Let it but leave the ground where it begins to rise to God, and true humility
will come at last to grace the mind that thought it was alone and stood
against the world. Humility brings peace because it does not claim that
you must rule the universe, nor judge all things as you would have them
be. All little gods it gladly lays aside, not in resentment, but in honesty
and recognition that they do not serve....
Now prayer is lifted from the world
of things, of bodies, and of gods of every kind, and you can rest in holiness
at last. Humility has come to teach you how to understand your glory as
God's Son, and recognize the arrogance of sin. A dream has veiled the face
of Christ from you. Now can you look upon His sinlessness. High has the
ladder risen. You have come almost to Heaven. There is little more to learn
before the journey is complete. Now can you say to everyone who comes to
join in prayer with you:
And so he is in truth. Now can you pray
only for what you truly share with him, For you have understood he never
left, and you, who seemed alone, are one with him.
I cannot go without you,
for you are a part of me.
The ladder ends with this, for learning
is no longer needed. Now you stand before the gate of Heaven, and your
brother stands beside you there. The lawns are deep and still, for here
the place appointed for the time when you should come has waited long for
you. Here will time end forever. At this gate eternity itself will join
with you. Prayer has become what it was meant to be, for you have recognized
the Christ in you (S-1.II.1; 7:1; 8:3-5,8; S-1.III.2:1-2; 3:1-3; 4:1-2;
S-1.IV.3:1;3; S-1. V.1; 3-4).
Let us today be children of
the truth, and not deny our holy heritage. Our life is not as we imagine
it. Who changes life because he shuts his eyes, or makes himself what he
is not because he sleeps, and sees in dreams an opposite to what he is?
We will not ask for death in any form today. Nor will we let imagined
opposites to life abide even an instant where the Thought of life eternal
has been set by God Himself.
His holy home we strive to keep today
as He established it, and wills it be forever and forever. He is Lord of
what we think today. And in His Thoughts, which have no opposite, we understand
there is one life, and that we share with Him, with all creation, with
their thoughts as well, whom He created in a unity of life that cannot
separate in death and leave the Source of life from where it came.
We share one life because we have one
Source, a Source from which perfection comes to us, remaining always in
the holy minds which He created perfect. As we were, so are we now and
will forever be. A sleeping mind must waken, as it sees its own
perfection mirroring the Lord of life so perfectly it fades into what is
reflected there. And now it is no more a mere reflection. It
becomes the thing reflected, and the light which makes reflection possible.
No vision now is needed. For the wakened mind is one that knows its Source,
its Self, its Holiness (W-pI.167.10-12; italics mine).
1 conducted a workshop on this topic at the Foundation for A Course
in Miracles. The workshop was recorded and then published as an audio-tape
As Metaphor in A Course in Miracles.
TO BEGINNING: THE COURSE'S USE OF LANGUAGE~I,
TO PAGE OF LINKS FOR KEN WAPNICK
Index Link Box For All
parts of THE COURSE'S USE OF LANGUAGE
Reproduced with the kind
permission of the author and the
for A Course in Miracles which holds copyright
in this work, ©1997
Course in Miracles is copyrighted by the Foundation. Portions herein
are reproduced with permission.
Studies Navigation Table