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On Duality and Forgiveness

Speaker: The Course is basically teaching that you aren’t a body. You’re not in a body. You’re a mind and as we talked about that in a number of our sessions initially that’s kind of an alien way of thinking. More and more start to think of yourself as Mind because that’s what you are. It goes beyond even some of the reincarnation sort of theories where coming in and out of bodies to the point where it says not only aren’t you a body, you aren’t even in a body and that really flies in the face of experience in this world. Because it seems as if you’re looking out from these eyes and hearing with these ears and smelling with this nose and so on and so forth. Experientially, it seems very much that our experience is rooted in the body and the Course is saying, that’s not the fact of it.

When it [the Course] talks about mind, he [Jesus] says, ‘…Mind reaches to itself. It does not go out.’ What does he say about the body? He says ‘…The body is outside you but it seems to surround you, cutting you off from others.’ There’s this screen like a movie screen and just like when you go in to watch movies a lot of times and you get identified with the characters and Jesus is saying in the Course, ‘Yes, this is what the so called every day daily life is like too. You’re so identified with the characters on the screen that you perceive them as yourself, as your family members, your boss or whatever. That that’s a major perceptual problem.’ That’s where all of our grief comes in when we identify with that.

So, we can talk a little bit about Mind. Another very fundamental idea in the Course is that Mind cannot attack. That’s where the guilt arises from the belief that Mind can attack. Mind can make up fantasies, like making up a movie, making up a screen and it can have characters act out and seem to attack one another verbally or physically. But that’s just a fantasy. That’s where the split comes in and then hurling that belief, so to speak, out on the screen and seeing people being taken advantage of in any way, shape or form. It’s the minds a way of trying to escape this problem that is it’s having that it’s separated from God. That’s such a fundamental idea that mind cannot attack.

But this isn’t how we think about it from day to day. There is the belief that one person, one mind can manipulate another mind. This takes many forms. [Inaudible] People will say, ‘He or she is so seductive.’ Seductive. Do you hear what that means, seducing? There’s interaction. Like one is being made prey. Like one is being made to manipulate or do something against they’re own will and the Course is coming to saying how impossible that is. If that’s possible then where’s equality in that? Then one mind can dominate another mind; one person can dominate another. Where’s the equality in that? Guilt would be justified, if that’s possible. But you can see how deeply rooted these ideas are to the split mind. Minds cannot attack. They can just make up bodies and so forth to act out the fantasies. It’s that perception of attack that brings on the defenses. As soon as the mind perceives attack in any way, shape or form then it can’t help but respond with defense. Really the problem is the misperception of attack.

Now, one of the early workbook lessons is Jesus where talks about attacking and being attacked and he says, ‘You have not yet learned that these are the same.’ The same! That’s not how it seems in this world. There seems to be a big difference between being attacked and being the attacker. Jesus is saying they’re identical, just different forms of the same thing. If you had attack thoughts in your mind, it doesn’t so much matter how you perceive it, who you assign the role of the attacker and who is the attackee.

You have to come to the realization that attack is impossible. Otherwise you’re going to keep perceiving attack and keep responding and reacting in defensive ways; whether it’s all kinds of magical maneuvers and all kinds of fancy health structures, medicine and props and all kinds of hospitals and all the different magic or armature, if you take it to the national level with all the defenses and the bombs used to guard the country or the hand gun issue. Crime is such a big thing in this country right now. The Course is basically saying all that is out there on the screen. There isn’t a problem with crime in the country. There isn’t a problem with guns. There isn’t a problem with defense spending and so on. That’s all out there. The problem brings it back to me and my mind that I still believe in attack.

Participant: When you get into a situation of conflict, it gets so easy to get sucked into any of it, all of it. At work, at home, family stuff, in-laws, everybody’s taking sides.

Speaker: The key is transferring it to all these different situations because in a sense, a situation is just a situation. Jesus knows the mind in a deceived state does not believe that. It seems to be that some situations are more difficult. It’s one thing for instance, to go to a Course in Miracles group and there’s all these people talking about all these ideas. But then I have to go deal with my in-laws or my boss at work and so forth. There’s just a deep underlining belief that there’s an order of difficulty in miracles. The first principle of the book is that there’s no order of difficulty in miracles.

Participant: I find myself sometimes, if I’m in some conflict with someone and then I go home and think about it I really get angry. It’s like I feel like a little kid. I just want to kick my feet or hit somebody or do something. When I think about it, I don’t want to be responsible! I want to blame it on someone else! It’s so hard for me to look at. I feel just like a little kid that’s six years old. I just want to go out on the floor and kick my feet and scream and holler.

Speaker: I think that anger would be a good topic to go into. Some of the sections that I marked off for today were dealing with the issue of justice and also the subject of anger; the next quote that came to me was dealing directly with anger. This comes pretty late in the text too. Because years ago when this statement was read, it was like, “Oh, come on!” It was just too much. The statement was basically, ‘Anger is never justified.’ And some students would say, ‘That’s just too much.’ It’s not saying you won’t get angry. It’s not saying that you shouldn’t get angry. It’s saying that it’s never justified.

If you really trace it back like that quote I mentioned about ‘I am responsible for my perception’ Then you could see the fallacy of it. But, there’s such a tremendous projecting the cause of sacrifice, projecting the cause of guilt.

The main ego “dynamic” is the belief that what you project out on the world is what you get rid of, or that is how you get rid of it. That’s the ego’s way of minimizing or diminishing anger, threats and guilt is to project it out. What the ego never tells the mind is what you give away is what you keep. That’s the fundamental law of Heaven. That’s how the Son was created. God extended himself in his likeness and attributes and that’s how the Son came into being and that’s the fundamental law of Heaven. So as soon as you start to get into that and you start to see that more and more. It never gets me anything. Perceiving attack or responding with anger never brings me anything that I want.

When you start to get more into the metaphysics I think it just starts to generalize more and more. That’s why it takes such a transfer of training because as long as you’re perceiving a physical world with duality, with bodies and separate everything the Course is saying your blind. It’s not like when you have a healed perception that there’s going to be a world there to see. That the entire world was made as an attack on God as it says in page 403 in the workbook. And also, Jesus was saying when [the mind] fell asleep, it made what was truly visible, light and love, invisible and subsequently made what doesn’t exist, visible. That’s what this perceptual world is – heaven disappeared as soon as the perception [the world] was made. That’s quite a deep that this is a perceptual hallucination. It gets away from other paths where you come to a perfected world in some sense. There have been religions that have talk about paradise on earth or I would say ideas of even making the body immortal would be another extension of the same idea [which] would be that you can come to a perfected immortal body. The Course is saying, ‘No wait a minute, what you made visible, what you see now, doesn’t have any existence and that when you can come to the vision of Christ it won’t be there anymore to see.’

I’ll just read that paragraph because that really gives us a key to what true forgiveness is, “Pardon is always justified. It has a sure foundation. You do not forgive the unforgivable, nor over look a real attack that calls for punishment. Salvation does not lie in being asked to make unnatural responses which are inappropriate to what is real, instead it merely asks that you respond appropriately to what is not real by not perceiving what has not occurred.” That’s deep. I’ll read that sentence again. “Instead it merely asks that you respond appropriately to what is not real” … the whole cosmos…‘…by not perceiving what has not occurred.’

That’s reminiscent of some of those lines on forgiveness; you forgive your brother for what he has not done. But what the Course is just helping us start to move towards is just to really question what we’re seeing with our body’s eyes and hearing with our body’s ears. First of all, just questioning and being open to saying, ‘Maybe what I’m seeing with my eyes and hearing with my ears isn’t completely reliable.’ A lot of us have had experiences I think, at least with that much that were not reliable where we thought we knew all the facts for a situation and find out we were really way off base. Our own motives and wishes had influenced our perception and we really were trying to read into the scene and see something that really wasn’t there at all. That’s a good stepping stone.

He says, “You are merely asked to see forgiveness as the natural reaction to distress that rests on error and thus calls for help. Forgiveness is the only sane response. It keeps your rights from being sacrificed.” Through the ego lens forgiveness is shaky. Its like, ‘O.K, I’ll try to forgive you.’ Or the other side, the arrogant type of ego forgiveness is, ‘Because I’ve come along so far in my spiritual journey and I’ve really trained my mind now I will stoop to forgive you.’ Or the old forgive but not forget. This is really moving way beyond that. It’s saying forgiveness is the only sane response. If you want to keep Peace of Mind in your awareness then that needs to become a natural habitual response to everything which is pretty drastic.

The following page there’s a sentence that says, “The real world is achieved when you perceive the basis for forgiveness is quite real and fully justified. While you regard it as a gift unwarranted it must uphold the guilt you would ‘forgive.’ unjustified forgiveness is attack…” When we use that word ‘attack’, it will conjure up images. the mind can think it knows what attack is, but there are so many subtle forms of attack that aren’t seen as attack and I think the more you work with the Course you start to see [that]. I guess if I had to boil it down into a very simplified form is that all judgment is attack because it is literally denying the wholeness and the unity of mind. Whenever the mind engages in trying to judge and break apart. In some of the sessions, I’ve gotten into talking about ordering of thoughts and hierarchy of illusions. It really gets into subtle realms. You say to Jesus, ‘That I prefer apple pie over a cherry pie... that’s an attack Attack is what I see on the news every night! I know what attack is. Preferring Cherrie pie over apple pie has nothing to do with attack.’ And Jesus is saying, yes it’s an attack.

There are all these hierarchies of preferences; preferences of the way people look or food preferences or sexual preferences, climate preferences, visual preferences, music preferences; those are ego configurations of what I call ‘my version of reality’, which isn’t reality at all. It’s just ‘my version of reality.’ The small self’s ‘version. The Course is saying that’s why there seems to be conflict because there seem to be all these different tiny ‘my version’ of realities and they all seem to collide. That’s where these debates and opinions and arguments come in. ‘Well, here’s what I think on this subject.’ ‘Well, I don’t agree with you. I think…’ I’ve heard the statement so many times, ‘To each his own.’ That seems like common cliché, ‘Everybody’s got they’re own opinion and everybody’s entitled to they’re own opinion.’ And the Course comes along and it’s the very first law of chaos or the egos laws is the truth is different for everyone. That’s just another way of saying that ‘to each his own’ and ‘Everybody is entitled to they’re own opinion’ is chaos.

I see forgiveness as the complete relinquishment of judgment in the worldly sense. It’s not to say that as a stepping stone that the Holy Spirit isn’t judgmental or evaluative because it clearly states in the Course that the Holy Spirit is evaluative as long as you believe that you’re in a maze of duality and there are choices to make in duality. ‘Do I do this? Do I do that? Do I go here? Do I go there?’ Then the Holy Spirit is evaluative. He gives the mind what it can receive at those points and helps guide the mind out of its belief that it is in the world of duality. It really comes down to, how can I truly let go and listen to the Holy Spirit’s judgment if I want to hang on to my own ‘version of reality’, my own preferences, my own likes and dislikes and opinions?

Participant: I’m going to share with you something that bugged me for a long while. It says somewhere in the Course that we don’t really have to worry too much about what is truth because truth can’t be changed but we do have to identify the false. I conjured up really fast that truth and false is good and bad. Good is true. Bad is false. Fear can’t live in the same house or be in the same place. I immediately would think a brother would do something to me. I would immediately evaluate this, if it were good or bad. I would look through the bad and see the good. It recently occurred to me that the good and the bad just are…. Actually, the bad has nothing to do with the false and the good have nothing to do with the truth. You have to have it all and it’s all an illusion. I’m having problems seeing the false. I really do have problems seeing what’s false in this world. Except when I realize everything I see is false. About everything I do is false. Talk about good and bad; this duality of good and evil.

Speaker: If you talk about the good, the bad or the beautiful and the ugly, you could rephrase it even the desirable and the undesirable; the pleasurable and the painful. You could come at this a lot of different ways. You can tell there’s duality in all those. There are two ends of the scale. The Course is teaching the deceived state you can’t tell the difference between pleasure and pain.

Remember at one point in ‘The Hero of The Dream’ he says, ‘you think you can tell the difference between your pains and your joys. You can’t tell the difference between the desirable, the undesirable, the good and the bad.’ There are some of the passages in the workbook where he says, ‘Start to think of yourself and list your attributes and include the positive ones as well. You may not understand, at this point, why you should include those.’

There seems to be a general consensus that there are a lot of wonderful beautiful good things in this world and also that there are certain things which are bad and negative. And perhaps the belief is that if I can just forgive the negativity then I’ll just be left with what’s good. But, the Course is saying that truth or goodness, if we use it in the ultimate sense, is behind the veil of duality. It’s when you cease to judge both ends of good and bad. When you lay aside all judgments then what you’re left with is the truth. It’s not by forgiving the negative or trying to give up all the negative judging but it’s giving up the belief that you even know what’s good or bad.

Now, you see what we’re getting into. We’re transcending morality. We’re transcending ethics; all those disciplines that are strung up on what is good. This is really pointing to a very high place because admittedly, most all religions and philosophies have come about with a lot of those goods and bads and do’s and don’ts. But, you have to be very careful about how you define and how your construct that because then you can get back into making the error real because as soon as you’ve got your categories. These are the good behaviors or you can put it under the label of service or whatever you want and then these are the not so good ones, then you’re back into denying that it’s all an illusion. If I’ve got some behaviors that are good and some that are bad, how can it all be equally unreal? Are some better illusions and some worse? You can start to see that when I say making it unreal, all that does is it still gives a reality to the projected world. To me that’s the metaphysics of why I need to stop thinking I know what’s good and bad because I’m just giving a reality to the projected world by doing that.

Participant: All we want are the good things. But it would be hard to get around to questioning reality if everything here was pleasurable. People believe that negativity should be looked upon and dealt with, done away with. I know people do not what to talk about the news. They don’t want to look at the news. They don’t want to read anything negative. They think if they do not look at it, it will go away. No, it will just be further projected out. We must look at those things. If we don’t, then we’re denying that that’s our mind that projected it out there in China and Afghanistan and where have you. That’s my thinking that did that. I’m still holding on to these thoughts because I’m seeing it out there. I’m seeing it on the news. So, if I just hang on to this beautiful and lovely nature and sunlight and the glorious illusions I won’t ever wake up. I’ll stay in this dream.

Speaker: It’s watching your thoughts; it’s watching your judgments. Just noticing and that’s how it can be used in a helpful way and also you may get to the point where you’ve gotten clearer and clearer in your mind. You may get to the point where you may not watch the news. It may not be the thing that you’re guided to do that’s most helpful for the whole Sonship. But, it’s [about] always just watching our thoughts whether it’s movies or news or, like you said, in-laws or work or whatever it is. It really is a full time job to watch your mind all the time.

Participant: I didn’t realize it was my mind I was supposed to be watching!

Speaker: That’s the first step. You’ve got to watch these thoughts to begin with and then to stay aware.

Participant: Like what did my brother say or do to me? It’s my dream and when I get identified and argue with someone or buy into it and I feel attacked, I’ve forgotten that I wrote the script. I’m in this play and I’m an actor. I’m really carrying out and … finally step back and hopefully think, ‘Wait a minute! This has no reality at all! I’m giving it all the reality that it has. I bought into it. I identified with it. I think its real.’ And it’s real when you think it’s real. It’s very real for you.

Speaker: I think the key word is ‘identified’ because Jesus says in the teachers manual when he talks about the real meaning of sacrifice, ‘You may doubt many things but you will never doubt your identity.’ Whatever you’re identified with, you’re in it with your whole being; if you’re identified with the space/time world of form and bodies that’s where the defense is. It seems like the anger or different emotions kind of well up at times when we’re in our interactions and it’s always because of that identification with the illusion is where those come in. You start to train your mind to see that rage is no different than a little twinge of frustration. You start to get more into the subtleties. But, it’s been like when I traced it back it’s still that identification with the personality.

Participant: Body (self) concept.

Speaker: That’s where the defense is coming in. Also, we live in a day and age of modern technology and convenience and the Course says in the workbook, ‘There are those who have tried to renounce the world while still believing in it.’ You can think of some of the paths of the aesthetic that have tried to starve the body or mutilate the body… all kinds of things that people have done through the centuries, trying to renounce the world while still believing in it. Then he says in the next sentence, that there are those that have tried nothing but the ways of the world and they are in a sense even deeper. It’s like the play land of convenience and comfort and ‘I can do whatever I want’ mentality. It can be very lulling. It can seem as though I’ve got it pretty good. I’ve got it better than the earlier generations.

Look at all the progress, convenience and comforts and all these little things; Convenience for what? Comfort for what? The body; the body is the center piece in all this “progress.” When you really get into the Course you start to say, ‘Wait a minute, I want to have a free mind and if my mind is identified and attached to the body then how can I have a free mind and a free body?’ There is one point, when Jesus says, ‘Do you want freedom of the body or freedom of the mind, for both you cannot have.’ Or another way to relate it is, when you get into the ideas of prayer and manifesting. People have said, ‘I have used my mind. I’ve tuned into the power of my mind and I used to believe in scarcity and now I seem to be able to use my mind. There are job opportunities opening up. I’ve got the car I wanted and the house I wanted. This is the power of prayer in action!’ But, the mind is still interpreting itself as a body in the world. It’s version of abundance is still stuff for that little body. That’s not to say that that’s because as we discussed in a couple of our other gathering, that can be a powerful stepping stone. If you believe you’re a powerless victim and you don’t even have a mind. Then to learn that you’re mind has some power can be like a step.

You were mentioning ** coming out with a tape on the metaphors, that’s where it’s really helpful when you get into that distinction of being a metaphor vs.’ the truth. You want to get to the truth that’s stable, that just is, beyond the good and bad. Everything that seems to come along that we perceive in this world can be like symbols or stepping stones to that. The more you get into and apply the Course the more that you see the things of the world are merely symbolic. The more you can allow my mind to expand and open up and withdraw your judgment. It gets to what you were saying at the beginning. You were saying, ‘I need a concept’ and forgiveness is a concept. It’s the biggest all inclusive concept / metaphor that there is, for it undoes all other concepts / metaphors.


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