BEYOND HEAVEN AND HELEN: THE PRIESTESS
My primary focus in this book has been the two sides of Helen's personality -- "Heaven and Helen." But there was another dimension as well, that I have noted throughout, especially in Chapter 17. This dimension existed beyond both the right- and wrong-mind division, and was represented by the priestess of Helen's visions.
Very infrequently, Helen spoke to me of another level of "hearing" that transcended her experience of Jesus' voice. On certain rare occasions (I doubt if it happened more than four or five times), I was with Helen when she allowed herself and me to experience this other dimension. It was indeed a movement beyond hearing Jesus, to a state of mind even beyond the individuality of Jesus himself. At these times Helen appeared timeless, transformed into a state in which she seemed to merge finally with the priestess of her vision. In these truly holy instants I was vouchsafed a glimpse into Helen's real Identity, an egoless Self that was barely here. The words she uttered spoke through her during these times from a source that was clearly not of this world, but rather reflected an ancient, eternal wisdom. Her face lacked all feeling, and the closest I was ever able to come in describing it to myself was in recalling descriptions of the void of human emotion reported in Beethoven's death mask. The twentieth-century German poet Rilke referred to this mask in The Journal of Matte Laurids Brigge,1 in words that reflected the other-worldly peace of the great composer's inner life at the hour of his death. Rilke wrote:
The mouleur [maker of plaster casts], whose shop I pass every day, has hung two plaster masks beside his door. The face of the young drowned woman, which ... smiled so deceptively, as if it knew. And beneath it, his face, which knows (p. 76).This egoless, knowing Self was the real Helen, although the name "Helen" does not quite fit here. It was clear to me that the Helen the world recognized, with whom I related most of the time, was totally unrelated to this other Self. In order to "hear" the voice of Jesus and have his love be translated into A Course in Miracles, it was necessary that she have a mask, a "life mask," as it were. The mask was remarkably successful, for no one could ever have known what lay behind it.
To be sure, the elements that went into this ego mask came from Helen herself. In the context of her "past life" experiences, it would certainly seem as if in another part of her mind she had misused the spiritual power so that it became self-serving rather than God-serving. And yet my own experience of Helen was that during this lifetime she could easily have shaken off this ego part whenever she chose. Over and over during these final years, I thought of Prince Hal and the wonderful scene near the end of Shakespeare's King Henry IV, Part II, where the former prince has shed his profligate lifestyle to become King Henry V. Visited by his erstwhile drinking companion, Falstaff, the new and mature king says:
Indeed, I believe, God doth know, and now the world also can perceive that Helen has turned from her former ego self, and reassumed her ancient One. On a number of occasions Helen mentioned to me that Jesus told her that the "next time you come you would be different," reminiscent of the lines in Lesson 157 -- "Into His Presence would I enter now" -- originally meant for Helen herself:Presume not that I am the thing I was;
The time will come when you will not return in the same form in which you now appear, for you will have no need of it. Yet now it has a purpose, and will serve it well (workbook, p. 290; W-pI.157.7:3).Incidentally, this was one of Helen's favorite lessons. Her understanding of these lines, even though the subject of reincarnation usually made her very uncomfortable, was that the next time she "came" -- her next life -- she would be ego-free, as was the priestess of her earlier vision. Thus, Helen would shed the final chain around the priestess' wrist, and stand within the world as the light she truly was, having at last united with her Self. One of Helen's lovelier poems, "The Soundless Song" written in March 1974, reflects this shedding of her false self:
Thus, Helen's life cannot be truly evaluated from the outside, without doing violence to her mind's true purpose. Helen's ego experiences, when we look at her life in total, amounted to nothing. When another part of her mind chose to join with Bill and Jesus -- reflecting the choice to rejoin her Self and become Its instrument of love and peace, rather than the ego's instrument of hate and power -- that choice canceled out all the others. It makes no difference whether one has a monstrous ego or a sliver; an illusion remains what it is, and all of them can disappear in one true holy instant. This principle was in fact enunciated by the recorder in Helen's dream (see chapter 3, p.81), who told Helen in response to her question about how well she was doing:I walk in stillness. Where my rest is set
I never indulge in speculation .... In my work it would be a waste of time. Over and over I've seen a person suddenly decide to do something very unexpected, -- something that changes the whole picture of his accounts. He's quite likely to do it up until the very last minute.Helen's continuous efforts on behalf of others can therefore be understood as a reflection and ongoing reminder of this deeper presence of love within her. It is not the form of her behaviorally helping those in need that is the significant factor, but the content of joining with Jesus and therefore with others in a love that totally transcended the superficial ego thoughts of her worldly self. This presence of love more properly belongs to the symbolic identity of the ancient priestess, who in Helen's vision helped all those who came to her, totally indiscriminately and with equal love and devotion. And we may recall this same content expressed in Helen's recurring "dream" of standing by the gate of Heaven, greeting those returning with the words: "In the Name of Christ, pass through this gate in peace."
When Jesus told Helen that the next time she came she would be different, he was reflecting Helen's having finally resolved the "Heaven-Helen" conflict. As one does with an old garment, she discarded her ego, leaving only her true Self present. This is the state of mind A Course in Miracles refers to as the real world, the reflection within the separation dream of the reality of our true Self. In this sense, therefore, Helen's ego was a shield that hid her holiness, as well as expressing her ancient conflict. The final piece in her Atonement path of undoing the ego was accomplished when she chose to join with Bill and collaborate on A Course in Miracles (symbolized by the last vestige of chain on the priestess' wrist, reflected, again, in the dream of "The Recorder" with its shoehorn symbolism). Although more could have been done in the world, on completion of the scribing, Helen's task was indeed complete. And now has the garment slipped off, revealing the radiance of the ancient priestess and spiritual companion of Jesus. This resplendence alone is what remains.
Thus, Jesus did, in fact, "come" for Helen, though in their home of light they were always one and unseparated, Together now they -- along with all the others who have passed through the gate -- welcome those who make their way home: Christ gathering His own unto His Self. A Course in Miracles is one of the means that guide the sleeping world of darkness back to the awakening light of Christ shining through the gate. From there, all of God's children are welcomed at last into the Light beyond, into which they disappear as One.
As the Course's birth was accomplished through love joining with itself, Helen's gift to the world, may its light of love now ever extend throughout the darkness -- even as the Love of God extends throughout His Heaven -- gently calling us back to the remembrance of our one reality as Christ.
Now is Helen's most holy purpose done.
1 New York: Random House, 1982.
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