Humility Versus Arrogance

By Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

From The Message of A Course in Miracles, Introduction to Volume 2 which is entitled
Few Choose to Listen, copyright 1997 by the Foundation for A Course in Miracles,

This book -- Volume Two of The Message of A Course in Miracles -- is the companion to All Are Called [Volume One] and, as explained in the Introduction to that book, could indeed carry the subtitle: "What A Course in Miracles does not say." Its focus therefore is not really on what the Course teaches, since this is the burden of the first volume, but rather on the ways in which students have understood A Course in Miracles to say something it simply does not say or mean; in other words, their choosing not to listen to its message. In this sense, Few Choose to Listen is a guide for errors to be avoided. Thus my purpose in this book is to guide students in how to avoid certain potential mistakes or confusions as they read, study, and implement into their daily lives the teachings of A Course in Miracles. Such sidestepping of errors will, it is hoped, be of help in clearing the way for the student to be more accessible to the Holy Spirit's "particular care and guidance" (M-29.2:6).

The misunderstandings of its students have led to conclusions, both theoretical and practical, directly opposite to what A Course in Miracles actually teaches. On one level we should not expect otherwise. Following upon our discussion in All Are Called, we can recognize the tremendous investment egos have in holding to the beliefs that reinforce and support its thought system and very existence. These beliefs include, in one way or another and however subtly they may be practiced, our making real the error of separation. To remove our investment in perpetuating this error is to undo the very foundation of the ego's thought system.

Thus, in general, we can see that these errors in understanding are defenses against the truth that we find in the Course. As Jesus points out in A Course in Miracles, and as I have emphasized, when the ego is confronted by the loving truth of the Holy Spirit it becomes afraid, for the truth of our reality as God's Son is the greatest threat to the integrity of its thought system. The Course explains:

The ego is ... particularly likely to attack you when you react lovingly, because it has evaluated you as unloving and you are going against its judgment .... This is when it will shift abruptly from suspiciousness to viciousness, since its uncertainty is increased .... It remains suspicious as long as you despair of yourself. It shifts to viciousness when you decide not to tolerate self-abasement and seek relief. Then it offers you the illusion of attack as a "solution."... When the ego experiences threat, its only decision is whether to attack now or to withdraw to attack later .... Even the faintest hint of your reality literally drives the ego from your mind, because you will give up all investment in it .... The ego will make every effort to recover and mobilize its energies against your release (T-9.VII.4:5,7; T-9.VIII.2:8-10; 3:4; 4:2,5).
Therefore, if the ego cannot attack directly -- because the Son would find that totally unacceptable -- then it "withdraws" to attack later through distortion, its form of passive resistance. Thus the ego follows the axiom: "If you can't lick 'em, join 'em." Unable to convince us not to pursue A Course in Miracles, the ego nonetheless is able to distort the Course's teachings sufficiently to allow its truth to be clouded over, protecting the ego's belief system from ever being looked at openly and honestly. Jesus asks each of us in the Course to "Be very honest with yourself... for we must hide nothing from each other" (T-4.111.8:2). Thus we must openly look at these errors and bring them to his love, after which they can be released. Without such honest examination, the truth will continue to be obstructed, and its light "forbidden" entry into the hidden portals of the ego's darkened mind, where it would surely heal our mistaken thoughts. In his Introduction to the fourth review in the workbook, Jesus urges his students to look at and understand their defenses as part of the preparation for the application of the truth to their daily lives (
Let us begin our preparation with some understanding of the many forms in which the lack of true forgiveness may be carefully concealed. Because they are illusions, they are not perceived to be but what they are; defenses that protect your unforgiving thoughts from being seen and recognized. Their purpose is to show you something else, and hold correction off through self-deceptions made to take its place (
This fear of the truth leading to the defense of distortion has striking parallels to the early history of Christianity, where the followers of Jesus quite clearly changed his teachings to suit their own fear and guilt. As Jesus comments in the text, specifically referring to the aforementioned "upside-down" interpretations given to his crucifixion:
If you interpret the crucifixion in any other way [i.e., than a loving and unsacrificial act], you are using it as a weapon for assault rather than as the call for peace for which it was intended. The Apostles often misunderstood it, and for the same reason that anyone misunderstands it. Their own imperfect love made them vulnerable to projection, and out of their own fear they spoke of the "wrath of God" as His retaliatory weapon. Nor could they speak of the crucifixion entirely without anger, because their sense of guilt had made them angry.... I do not want you to allow any fear to enter into the thought system toward which I am guiding you (T-6.1.14-, 16:2).
Finally, we may recall again the Course's statement:
To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold. Not one can be kept hidden and obscure but it will jeopardize your learning (
This important teaching refers to our willingness to generalize the Course's principles totally, without exception. To hold out any situation or belief from its uncompromising non-dualism is to make some aspect of the illusory world real. A serious student of A Course in Miracles recognizes the absoluteness of its thought system. To quote again one of Jesus' statements about his Course:
This course will be believed entirely or not at all. For it is wholly true or wholly false, and cannot he but partially believed (T-22.11.7:4-5).


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