ACIM

 
A Course in Miracles: WHAT IT SAYS
Part I -- The Resplendent Unity of Heaven

(Volume 5 Number 2 June 1994)

Gloria Wapnick
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
 
 

In September 1993, we wrote an article entitled: "A Simple, Clear, and Direct Course," which discussed the various attempts on the part of students of A Course in Miracles to interpret what the Course says, rather than seek to understand its simple, clear, and direct teachings. Beginning with this newsletter, we shall present a two-part article which summarizes how A Course in Miracles is a radically new approach to spirituality, since it erases almost all former religious and spiritual concepts. This first part discusses the nature of Reality -- the Oneness of God and Christ -- and how the Course's understanding differs from the teachings of both traditional and contemporary religious and spiritual paths. Once we have understood the non-dualistic nature of Reality, it will be easier to understand the nature of the separation and its correction through the Holy Spirit, discussion of which is the purpose of Part II of this article.

As one studies A Course in Miracles, it is helpful from time to time to return to the foundation of its thought system, to the Beginning as it were: the resplendence of our Reality in Heaven. While the clear focus of Jesus' teaching in the Course is on the undoing of the blocks to the awareness of Love's presence in our minds (text, intro; T-in.1:7), it is nonetheless essential never to forget what our ultimate goal truly is. If, as the Course teaches us, we have fallen asleep and are dreaming the nightmares of separation and specialness, reminders of what we shall eventually awaken to are helpful to keep us on track as we make our way Home. And so in Part I of this article we wish to speak about the nature of Heaven, and Who we truly are as God's glorious creation.

Several years ago, in our book Awaken from the Dream, we wrote the following description that attempted to present a word-picture of the non-dualistic wonder that is our true Home. As you read these words now, try to allow them to be the wings that carry you beyond the everyday consciousness of the dualistic world of perception, lifting you to the soaring awareness of the Reality of Oneness and Truth that cannot be understood, but only experienced.

Come with us on a journey of discovery to the remembrance of who we are. Sink back into your mind, and let yourself be carried out of time and out of this world into another dimension, whose glorious splendor language cannot express. Yet must we use words to reflect the ineffable Reality that is beyond all words, in order to recall to our minds the radiant abstraction of Heaven which has been replaced by our world of concrete specifics.

Our memory leads us back to this state of Holiness where, in the Beginning, before there was even a concept of beginning, there is God, our Source and the Source of all creation: a perfection and resplendence whose magnificence is beyond comprehension; love and gentleness of such an infinite nature that consciousness could not even begin its apprehension; a pristine stillness of uninterrupted joy, a motionless flow without friction to impede it; a vast, limitless and all-encompassing Totality, beyond space, beyond time, in which there is no beginning, no ending, for there was never a time or place when God was not.

God our Source is the All, and shares this Totality with us. This is a sharing without limits, and with no withholding of what truly is. Therefore, as part of our Source, we share all Its qualities, even unto being a co-creator.

Creation, like spirit, is abstract, formless and unchanging. Its nature is unity, knowledge of which is that there is nowhere the Creator ends and the created begins. There is no boundary, no differentiation, no separation. Yet, included in this knowledge is the fact that we are not the Source of creation, though we remain one within It.

Can the Mind of God begin? Can the Mind of God end? Can a Thought that is part of that Mind be something other than that Mind? Surely not, since there is no subject or object in the state of Heaven; no observer or observed. There is no perception, simply the total knowledge of who we are: a glory of such unified resplendence that concepts of within-without have no meaning.

We are an Idea in the Mind of God, and this Idea, with no limitations, is composed of an infinite number of Thoughts. All these Thoughts are the Sons of God, and the unified Idea -- the Christ -- is the Son. Therefore, all God's Thoughts are creation and, since Mind extends, the unlimited Thoughts the Mind of God extends are the Christ. We are the formless Thoughts that pulsate from this vast Mind, yet these Thoughts are abstract and have no counterpart to the specific forms in our world. As Thoughts in God's Mind, we emulate the process of creation, and our extensions are our creations.

We know our Creator-Source and have total gratitude for being part of the All. Gratitude is a constant song sung by the created to its Source, in glad thanksgiving for the knowledge of its Holiness as part of the Source. God's Being is Love, and Love, without end, flows continually between Creator and created, unbroken and uninterrupted. It is the Source of all Being and is itself all Being. Love is the very fountainhead of God, the essence of spirit and Mind, from which the Great Rays of resplendence radiate all that belongs to the Kingdom: truth, joy, unity and peace.

This is Reality, our true inheritance as children of our Source Who says that all that I have is yours. Totally at rest, the Son is home in the knowledge within the Mind that created it. This is the Reality God established, forever changeless, forever perfect. This is His eternal truth: God is; His Sons are one with Him in perfect love, innocence and peace (Awaken from the Dream, first edition pp. 21-23; second edition pp. 3-4).

It is this non-dualistic Oneness -- the experience of the truth that there is nowhere that God ends and our true Self begins -- that A Course in Miracles identifies as Heaven, and which forms the foundation for its teachings on the ego's thought system of guilt and fear, and the Holy Spirit's thought system of forgiveness. Before continuing, however, it would be instructive to contrast this non-dualistic theology of A Course in Miracles with three other theological forms, all inherently dualistic: pantheism, polytheism, and monotheism.

The theology of pantheism (etymologically meaning "god is in all") holds that god is found in every aspect of the physical universe; i.e., his essence and substance permeates everything, and therefore he is not outside his creation. This means that there is no supreme being who exists outside the world, for god and the world are one and the same. Thus the world of materiality, with all its myriad forms and thoughts, is seen and experienced not only as real but divine as well, for matter is not separated from spirit. This is clearly a dualistic theology, holding that both spirit and matter are real, though integrated as one.

Polytheism (" many gods" ) is the belief that there are many gods, each different and with a different personality that symbolizes different traits and forces of nature, as well as, in many instances, a creator-god. For example, in the Greek pantheon Poseidon is the god of the ocean, and Athena the goddess of wisdom. Thus the different gods would be prayed to for different purposes and in different situations. As these gods would often be associated with the forces of nature, we again find a theology in which both the physical universe and the divine co-exist as realities.

Monotheism (" one god" ) has always been considered by theologians to be the most developed form of theology because of its belief in only one god, seen to be an advance over the worship of many gods. Since two of the major monotheistic religions, Judaism and Christianity, form the background of almost all students of A Course in Miracles, we shall confine our discussion to the biblical god for the rest of this article. There are two characteristics of this god of the Bible that bear directly on our discussion of the Course's theology.

In September 1993, we wrote an article entitled: "A Simple, Clear, and Direct Course," which discussed the various attempts on the part of students of A Course in Miracles to interpret what the Course says, rather than seek to understand its simple, clear, and direct teachings. Beginning with this newsletter, we shall present a two-part article which summarizes how A Course in Miracles is a radically new approach to spirituality, since it erases almost all former religious and spiritual concepts. This first part discusses the nature of Reality -- the Oneness of God and Christ -- and how the Course's understanding differs from the teachings of both traditional and contemporary religious and spiritual paths. Once we have understood the non-dualistic nature of Reality, it will be easier to understand the nature of the separation and its correction through the Holy Spirit, discussion of which is the purpose of Part II of this article.

As one studies A Course in Miracles, it is helpful from time to time to return to the foundation of its thought system, to the Beginning as it were: the resplendence of our Reality in Heaven. While the clear focus of Jesus' teaching in the Course is on the undoing of the blocks to the awareness of Love's presence in our minds (text, intro; T-in.1:7), it is nonetheless essential never to forget what our ultimate goal truly is. If, as the Course teaches us, we have fallen asleep and are dreaming the nightmares of separation and specialness, reminders of what we shall eventually awaken to are helpful to keep us on track as we make our way Home. And so in Part I of this article we wish to speak about the nature of Heaven, and Who we truly are as God's glorious creation.

Several years ago, in our book Awaken from the Dream, we wrote the following description that attempted to present a word-picture of the non-dualistic wonder that is our true Home. As you read these words now, try to allow them to be the wings that carry you beyond the everyday consciousness of the dualistic world of perception, lifting you to the soaring awareness of the Reality of Oneness and Truth that cannot be understood, but only experienced.

Come with us on a journey of discovery to the remembrance of who we are. Sink back into your mind, and let yourself be carried out of time and out of this world into another dimension, whose glorious splendor language cannot express. Yet must we use words to reflect the ineffable Reality that is beyond all words, in order to recall to our minds the radiant abstraction of Heaven which has been replaced by our world of concrete specifics.

Our memory leads us back to this state of Holiness where, in the Beginning, before there was even a concept of beginning, there is God, our Source and the Source of all creation: a perfection and resplendence whose magnificence is beyond comprehension; love and gentleness of such an infinite nature that consciousness could not even begin its apprehension; a pristine stillness of uninterrupted joy, a motionless flow without friction to impede it; a vast, limitless and all-encompassing Totality, beyond space, beyond time, in which there is no beginning, no ending, for there was never a time or place when God was not.

God our Source is the All, and shares this Totality with us. This is a sharing without limits, and with no withholding of what truly is. Therefore, as part of our Source, we share all Its qualities, even unto being a co-creator.

Creation, like spirit, is abstract, formless and unchanging. Its nature is unity, knowledge of which is that there is nowhere the Creator ends and the created begins. There is no boundary, no differentiation, no separation. Yet, included in this knowledge is the fact that we are not the Source of creation, though we remain one within It.

Can the Mind of God begin? Can the Mind of God end? Can a Thought that is part of that Mind be something other than that Mind? Surely not, since there is no subject or object in the state of Heaven; no observer or observed. There is no perception, simply the total knowledge of who we are: a glory of such unified resplendence that concepts of within-without have no meaning.

We are an Idea in the Mind of God, and this Idea, with no limitations, is composed of an infinite number of Thoughts. All these Thoughts are the Sons of God, and the unified Idea -- the Christ -- is the Son. Therefore, all God's Thoughts are creation and, since Mind extends, the unlimited Thoughts the Mind of God extends are the Christ. We are the formless Thoughts that pulsate from this vast Mind, yet these Thoughts are abstract and have no counterpart to the specific forms in our world. As Thoughts in God's Mind, we emulate the process of creation, and our extensions are our creations.

We know our Creator-Source and have total gratitude for being part of the All. Gratitude is a constant song sung by the created to its Source, in glad thanksgiving for the knowledge of its Holiness as part of the Source. God's Being is Love, and Love, without end, flows continually between Creator and created, unbroken and uninterrupted. It is the Source of all Being and is itself all Being. Love is the very fountainhead of God, the essence of spirit and Mind, from which the Great Rays of resplendence radiate all that belongs to the Kingdom: truth, joy, unity and peace.

This is Reality, our true inheritance as children of our Source Who says that all that I have is yours. Totally at rest, the Son is home in the knowledge within the Mind that created it. This is the Reality God established, forever changeless, forever perfect. This is His eternal truth: God is; His Sons are one with Him in perfect love, innocence and peace (Awaken from the Dream, first edition pp. 21-23; second edition pp. 3-4).

It is this non-dualistic Oneness -- the experience of the truth that there is nowhere that God ends and our true Self begins -- that A Course in Miracles identifies as Heaven, and which forms the foundation for its teachings on the ego's thought system of guilt and fear, and the Holy Spirit's thought system of forgiveness. Before continuing, however, it would be instructive to contrast this non-dualistic theology of A Course in Miracles with three other theological forms, all inherently dualistic: pantheism, polytheism, and monotheism.

The theology of pantheism (etymologically meaning "god is in all") holds that god is found in every aspect of the physical universe; i.e., his essence and substance permeates everything, and therefore he is not outside his creation. This means that there is no supreme being who exists outside the world, for god and the world are one and the same. Thus the world of materiality, with all its myriad forms and thoughts, is seen and experienced not only as real but divine as well, for matter is not separated from spirit. This is clearly a dualistic theology, holding that both spirit and matter are real, though integrated as one.

Polytheism (" many gods" ) is the belief that there are many gods, each different and with a different personality that symbolizes different traits and forces of nature, as well as, in many instances, a creator-god. For example, in the Greek pantheon Poseidon is the god of the ocean, and Athena the goddess of wisdom. Thus the different gods would be prayed to for different purposes and in different situations. As these gods would often be associated with the forces of nature, we again find a theology in which both the physical universe and the divine co-exist as realities.

Monotheism (" one god" ) has always been considered by theologians to be the most developed form of theology because of its belief in only one god, seen to be an advance over the worship of many gods. Since two of the major monotheistic religions, Judaism and Christianity, form the background of almost all students of A Course in Miracles, we shall confine our discussion to the biblical god for the rest of this article. There are two characteristics of this god of the Bible that bear directly on our discussion of the Course's theology.

 

Part I of this article, which appeared in the June 1994 newsletter, discussed the unity of Heaven. This unity, which is A Course in Miracles' definition of Reality, consists of the perfect Oneness of God and His creation Christ, our true Identity. In that article we further described Heaven as a non-dualistic state, meaning that "nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him" (workbook, pp. 237-38; W-pI.132.12:4), because Heaven "is merely an awareness of perfect oneness, and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this oneness, and nothing else within" (text, p. 359; T-18.VI.1:6). This fact alone is true, and only this truth is Reality.

But then, as A Course in Miracles states, something seemed to happen: "Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh" (text, p. 544; T-27.VIII.6:2). And yet we say seemed to happen because the "tiny, mad idea" that we could be separate from our Source is only a dream. As the Course says elsewhere of this idea of separation: "In time this happened very long ago. In reality it never happened at all" (manual, p. 4; M-2.2:7-8).

In his madness -- in which Reality becomes illusion, and illusion Reality -- the Son of God believed that the impossible had actually occurred. Now he exists in a dualistic state of subject and object, in which he believes that he is separate from, and independent of God, his true Source. This has enabled the Son to think that he is now his own creator and first cause, self-created and autonomous. Indeed, one of the most telling characteristics of this separated state is thinking, which clearly reflects the dualism of thinker and thought, and then of thought and object, even if the object is the Son's own mind. And on such thinking is the ego's world of complexity erected, a world where specifics -- the logical effect of duality -- rule as the only "reality."

In this state, it is indeed almost impossible for a dissociated or split mind to remember the abstract, non-specific Oneness of creation, let alone the instant of separation that "is beyond all memory, and past even the possibility of remembering" (manual, p. 4; M-2.4:1). The unity of God -- our Source and Creator -- with Christ -- His creation -- is almost unfathomable because of the process by which our post-separation, perceptual minds categorize all thinking into perceiver and perceived. This dualism is the nature of all thought in the separated world. For example, if we try to meditate on Oneness, it is always from the position of us as the subject and our Source as the object. This basic dualistic experience, therefore, practically ensures that the non-dualistic reality of our Source and our oneness with It will remain almost unreachable, until we let go of the thinking process and, moreover, thought itself.

However, if we strive in our meditations to let go of all thought, that effort we are expending is already an expression of a thought, and therefore will inevitably be a block to the awareness of our truly experiencing ourselves as a non-dualistic Thought in the Mind of God. As Jesus teaches, in the context of becoming freed from all self-concepts:

Salvation can be seen as nothing more than the escape from concepts [i.e., thoughts]. It does not concern itself with content of the mind, but with the simple statement that it [the mind] thinks (text, p. 613; T-31.V.14:3-4).

Therefore we can conclude that it is our thoughts themselves that are the interference to our awareness of Oneness, since it was the "tiny, mad idea [thought]" which, A Course in Miracles teaches, led us down the ladder of separation. The three following statements from the workbook exemplify the inherent unreality of thought. The first of these comes in the context of the lesson title, "My thoughts do not mean anything.":

This idea applies to all the thoughts of which you are aware.… The reason the idea is applicable to all of them is that they are not your real thoughts.… you will have no doubt that what you once believed were your thoughts did not mean anything.… The emphasis is now on the lack of reality of what you think you think.… Now we are emphasizing that the presence of these "thoughts" means that you are not thinking. This is merely another way of repeating our earlier statement that your mind is really a blank (workbook, p. 16; W-pI.10.1:1-2,5; 2:4; 3:2-3).

It is because the thoughts you think you think appear as images that you do not recognize them as nothing. You think you think them, and so you think you see them (workbook, p. 25; W-pI.15.1:1-2). Nothing except your thoughts can attack you.

Nothing except your thoughts can make you think you are vulnerable. And nothing except your thoughts can prove to you this is not so (workbook, p. 40; W-pI.26.4:2-4).

Let us review how we overcome this literally self-imposed dilemma. We believe that we have actually changed Reality by accepting a thought into our minds that we could separate from our Source. Thus, by the interposition of a split mind and the process identified as thinking, we believed we had changed our true Identity as a Thought at one with God. When the seventeenth century French philosopher Descartes said: "I think, therefore I am," he was really making an ego statement that a being which could think has existence. Now, as students of A Course in Miracles, we can look at that assertion and realize that a right-minded correction would read: "I think, therefore I am not." This is so because, as we have already seen, thought itself is a denial of our true Identity as a unified Thought in the Mind of the Source of all Thought. This is a unity which, again, allows no dualistic distinction between thinker and thought, and even between Creator and created.

Once this realization is fully acknowledged by us, we can then proceed with the Atonement process of undoing, by accepting the Holy Spirit's correction thought for each ego misthought that we had first accepted into our minds. The reluctance if not outright refusal to access the correction thought of the Holy Spirit for our ego misthought comes from the fact that we are not the authors of the correction script, but we are indeed the authors of the ego's wrong-minded script.

The emerging paradigm can thus be summarized as follows:

1) We become aware that we have been identifying with our wrong minds;

2) We actively decide to change our minds and thus we access the correction in our right minds; and

3) We accept the correction, despite the fact that the "I" who have identified with the wrong mind will experience this switch as personally insulting, for this self is not the origin of the right-minded correction thought.

When we finally come to the realization that all of our thinking is image-making, as A Course in Miracles identifies it, we have reached another plateau on our journey home. Next, within this process we must hold somewhere in our minds the idea that time and the entire world are already over (text, p. 547; T-28.I.1:6-7), and that we are simply "reviewing mentally what has gone by" (workbook, p. 291; W-pI.158.4:5). This is important in order for us to realize that all of our thinking is simply a mechanism for accessing a script that is already undone. The end result is that we have an imagined experience that seems real -- through the ego's magic tricks and sleights of hand -- of the inherently unreal world that was over long ago.

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