Humility Versus Arrogance Part 4 - Continued

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

The premise underlying this book is that by helping students of A Course in Miracles avoid certain mistakes -- having chosen the ego as their teacher instead of Jesus, perhaps without even knowing they had done so -- their minds would be left clear and open. And so to come back to the central theme in this Introduction, they would then allow the Holy Spirit to teach them in the way that would be most appropriate and helpful. However, if people are certain that they do understand (when they truly do not), then they will never be open to learn or ask for help from the Course, already believing that there is nothing more to learn. This important point is underscored in the following passage in the workbook, related to looking at objects freshly, having withdrawn preconceived ideas from them:
You will not question what you have already defined. And the purpose of these exercises is to ask questions and receive the answers (W-pI.28.4:1-2).
And if we do not ask the right question, how can we possibly hear the answer? The answer is always there in our right minds, but without the appropriate question posed by our decision maker, the Holy Spirit's answer of forgiveness is meaningless and totally irrelevant to us.

Thus, the reader who I hope is reading this book is one who comes with an open mind, choosing to listen to Jesus rather than wishing to speak to him; it is the open-minded student who has chosen the humility of wanting to learn, rather than having chosen the arrogance of believing the learning is already completed and perfect. I shall return to this important theme of humility in a later chapter, but for now would like to relate it to the famous story of the six blind men and the elephant.

Each blind man in the story feels a different part of the elephant -- trunk, tusk, side, leg, tail, or ear -- and then mistakenly and arrogantly proclaims that the elephant is, respectively, like a snake, spear, wall, tree, rope, or fan. He knows nothing else but his very limited perception, and foolishly trusts that this perceptual experience is valid. We know from A Course in Miracles that perception is a lie, as it was made to conceal and protect the original lie of the ego's thought system of separation and duality. This thought system in turn was made to conceal the truth of the Atonement: the separation never truly happened. Therefore, Jesus repeatedly urges his students not to trust their bodies and perceptions. On one level, at best, our sensory organs provide limited reflections of the external "truth"; on another level, at worst, they provide total distortions of the real truth that is our spiritual, non-material reality. In one place in the text, speaking of the "transient stranger" that is the ego thought system they have welcomed into their minds instead of the truth, Jesus issues a word of caution to his students.

Ask not this transient stranger, "What am I?" He is the only thing in all the universe that does not know. Yet it is he you ask, and it is to his answer that you would adjust.  This one wild thought, fierce in its arrogance, and yet so tiny and so meaningless it slips unnoticed through the universe of truth, becomes your guide. To it you turn to ask the meaning of the universe. And of the one blind thing in all the seeing universe of truth you ask, "How shall I look upon the Son of God?"  (T-20.111.7:5-10).
Therefore, it is the mistaken and arrogant students of A Course in Miracles who proclaim the "truth" about the Course from very limited data that have come through what their past history and present perceptions have taught them is true. And it is these students who no longer are open to being taught the fullness of that truth, and even resent being told that the elephant is not what they think, because their experience has seemed to be so real and therefore valid. Borrowing the imagery of the opening pages of The Song of Prayer [Note: this pamphlet is now included in the Third Edition of ACIM], we may say that these students are willing to settle for a mere part or aspect of the song, when they could have the complete song instead (S-1.1.3). I discussed this in All Are Called (pp. 233-34), and the reader may recall Jesus' words to his students in the workbook: "You do not ask too much of life, but far too little" (W-pI.133.2:1), a caution echoed in the text: "Here [the world] does the Son of God ask not too much, but far too little" (T-26.VII.11:7). We shall discuss in the next chapter that one of the primary motivations behind the dictating of The Song of Prayer was Jesus' desire to help students of his Course not settle for less than the everything he has promised them.

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