THE COURSE'S USE OF LANGUAGE
THE SYMBOLISM OF DUALITY,
Continuation of Chapter 2, FEW
CHOOSE TO LISTEN from
Volume Two of THE
MESSAGE OF A COURSE IN MIRACLES®
By Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
Non-Duality versus Duality
At this point it would be helpful
to introduce two terms that, although they are not specifically used in
Course in Miracles, nonetheless characterize the two dimensions of
experience that are reflected in the Course's teachings, and therefore
the two levels of language we have been discussing. These terms are non-duality
and duality, respectively reflecting the pre-separation state of
Heaven, the only true reality, and the separated world of the ego thought
system, the world of illusion. These two levels are also frequently characterized
in the Course by the terms knowledge and perception.
PART THREE =>
As has already been said, so much of
the misunderstandings and confusion about what A Course in Miracles
teaches, inevitably leading to distortions in students' teachings of others,
can be traced back to not recognizing these two very different levels,
and why Jesus' material has come in this form. The basic process in the
Course's undoing of guilt is summarized in its emphasis, to restate this
very important principle, on bringing the illusions of the ego's darkness
to the light of the Holy Spirit's truth. As Jesus says of himself early
in the text:
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 (T-3.IV.7:3-4).
This statement reflects the fact that the
correction of the ego thought system that he brought to the world's awareness
occurred at the dualistic level of the error, not at the nondualistic level
of truth. Thus he did not bring the truth of Heaven down to the world magically
to shine away the darkness of sin, as is implied in the theology of Christianity.
Furthermore we see in the Bible that Jesus is God's only Son who incarnated
into the world of real sin. In John's gospel, the last of the four gospels
to be written, Jesus is portrayed as the cosmic Christ, barely on earth
and thus one who does not act or speak in human terms. Yet he is nonetheless
one who has interceded in human affairs to take away the sins of those
who believe in him.
On the other hand, the Jesus in A
Course in Miracles is clearly different from the biblical character
who bears his name for, among other things, he makes it very clear that
he will not, because he cannot, remove our sins from us.
One such example is seen in this passage:
God and His creations remain
in surety, and therefore know that no miscreation exists. Truth cannot
deal with errors that you want .... 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 (T-3.IV.7:1-2,6-11; italics mine).
In addition, the Jesus of A Course in
Miracles speaks of living and teaching in the world, in the world's
terms, a world that he never denigrates nor dismisses, though he clearly
insists to us is illusory. For example, he says of the body that
it is almost impossible to
deny its existence in this world. Those who do so are engaging in a particularly
unworthy form of denial (T-2.IV.3: 10-1 1).
And clearly this is a denial he is not
This speaking to us in the world's terms
is what Jesus does as well in the form of A Course in Miracles.
He states repeatedly in the Course how what he is really saying
cannot be understood. In one telling passage he even dismisses all the
arrogant pretensions of the intellectual by saying:
You are still convinced that
your understanding is a powerful contribution to the truth, and makes it
what it is. Yet we have emphasized that you need understand nothing
And so in A Course in Miracles Jesus
teaches his students in the symbolic and metaphoric language of the myth,
reaching them on the worldly level they can accept and understand. And
yet, as we shall see presently, he occasionally points to the non-dualistic,
abstract, and non-specific truth that is the content beyond the dualistic
and specific symbols he employs.
Finally, we need to clarify what is
meant by non-dualistic and dualistic systems, since this distinction reflects
the crucial difference between A Course in Miracles and almost all
other spiritual thought systems. By non-duality we are referring
to the part of A Course in Miracles that reflects the two mutually
exclusive dimensions -- knowledge and perception, spirit and matter, Heaven
and the world -- only one of which is real. Therefore, the clear
conclusion of this non-dualistic metaphysics is that God cannot be present
in the illusory world, since this would compromise the absolute nature
of God's Oneness by implying that there could actually exist a state that
is outside of perfect unity, an evident and logical impossibility.
Duality, on the other hand, reflects the belief that both dimensions --
the spiritual and the material -- are real and co-exist. Consequently,
it is possible within such spiritual systems that God be present
if not active in the phenomenal universe, since the world originated with
Him, is really out there, and obviously in need of His help and intervention.
Moreover, the very fabric of materiality somehow carries within itself
some aspect, traces, or reflection of the divine.
We now consider the nature of non-duality
and the problem it presents for a dualistic world.
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