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The Impossible Question and other Preliminary Issues
Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited to bring clarification to certain points of the dialogue and for easier readability. For this reason, it does not match the corresponding audio mp3 word-for-word. However, the overall content and the expressed ideas remain unchanged.
Context: Speaker begins the dialogue by explaining how to uncover assumptions hidden in the mind and that the solutions to what seem to be specific problems in the world cannot be resolved at that level; the level of those specifics. This is the starting point, with the specific beliefs. Problems exist only at the level of mind, and so does their solution.
It's another delay maneuver. And especially [the questions], “How did the impossible happen? And to whom did the impossible occur?” those kinds of questions. Jesus just says, “Well, the ego’s going to ask all kinds of questions [around], ‘How did the impossible happen?’ etc. There is no answer. This Course has no answer for those questions. But there is an experience. Seek for the experience in which those questions dissolve."
In order to say, 'How did the impossible happen?' there has to be an assumption that's beneath the question, 'How did the impossible happen?’. What's the assumption? That the impossible happened! You see. Now what we'll question is, ‘how?’ ‘How did it happen?’ Ah ha! Already got an assumption under there that it did [happen]. That's why all that we do when we come together is just question all of the assumptions. And when you keep doing that, so to speak, you can't help but come to the experience, ‘Ahhh! I Am!’ Period. You don't need anything after that. I am as God created me… the experience of that.
Participant 1: I have so many other questions now I don't even think I should ask them…
Speaker: Go ahead.
Participant 1: …because they may be too specific...
Participant 2: Should is not relevant.
Speaker: That's helpful. Like this afternoon when you were talking about your perception of things going on with the business and everything. It's not about trying to jump [ahead] and say, ‘I should realize that I am one mind and I'm not going to ask a bunch of stupid questions to get to that.’ No, it's good to examine all the questions that you have. Those are a good way of looking at [what are the beliefs] underneath my questions, which is what we've done when we've come together. Initially when we came together… you were saying, 'Where is Mark now?’ or ‘Where is his mind? I want to feel that connection.' [editor’s note: may be referring to someone who died.] And that's a good starting question to start to go into, 'What is mind?’ and start to get at that. Or even today, if there seem to be things unresolved with the business or there seem to be things unresolved with Celeste or whatever, that’s where you start; with those. And then you just take where you perceive you are, and you just start working with it and working [up]. [editor’s note: This is actually the “bottom up” approach to healing discussed in ACIM.]
Participant 2: And all I'm saying is that if you stay with the specifics that you're describing, it just goes around and around and around and it doesn't go anywhere, and there are no answers at that level. It's like going to another level below the specifics.
Participant 3: But you have to start asking some questions before you get to that level.
Participant 2: Right.
Participant 1: If I just kept asking these specific questions ten years from now or even two years from now then that's not right?
Participant 2: Its not that it's right or wrong or good or bad it's just that you have to go past that.
Participant 4: The peace lies in getting past that.
Participant 2: And you may continue to start with specifics indefinitely. It's not about saying. ‘Well, you've reached a certain point where you no longer ever talk about specifics.’ I don't think that's the point that's trying to be made, it's more that you can't stay in specifics and try to find a specific solution at that level.
Participant 5: But then you're saying that the Holy Spirit wouldn't intervene if she had the little willingness. If she has the desire, then the answer is there. You just have to step out of the way to see it. I mean the ego in other words. 'The'... ego.
Participant 4: So where are all those other questions? Because they’re going to be helpful all the way around.
Participant 1: I just forgot them all I guess.
Participant 5: Well they'll come back. Let's just continue.
Speaker: When they bubble up, in other words, sometime we'll even have sessions where we'll just come, be still, and when they bubble into consciousness, then there's an eagerness to look at something. When there's a real question there then it's like, 'Oh lets explore this.' It's not like you have to go on a witch hunt and say 'Alright, I'm going to stir the pond up and try to scoop all those questions up.' Its just like they come up into [awareness].
Participant 6: You see I had all that underlined. Why did it make more sense of that knowledge?
Participant 5: Do you have this one? "Some see it suddenly on point of death, and rise to teach it." Couldn't the metaphor for that meaning... not death for bodies, but death of the thoughts or death of the ideas or death of the beliefs or whatever, couldn't you say that instead of …just to get away from the body? Wouldn't some see it suddenly on point of, ‘Oh! That's where my belief is!’ It's dying to the old man, in other words.
Participant 2: It makes sense in that context too.
Speaker: Yes. You could interpret it that way.
Participant 1: Some see it suddenly on point of experience maybe? If that makes sense…of the experience, an experience?
Participant 2: Or instead of death awakening… the point of awakening to the truth.
Participant 5: Right. Seeing that this is just a belief in wrong-mind. I mean, you've been there, you have the willingness, and suddenly you go towards the light. There it is! It's been there all along but you now see it. And it just changes everything. And it's kind of like death – wrenching - or whatever it is you said. Your perception just changes.
Speaker: It's interesting there are so many different metaphors. There's that one too in the Bible of ‘dying to self to live…’
Participant 5: Yeah!
Speaker: …and again I think that it can all be helpful. A lot of times though people will take something about dying to self, or even what Rhonda was expressing today, ‘Wow, it seems like something is dying…’ And just be careful not to swing over to the idea that the ego must die. Because the ego is death, and instead of killing the ego or the ego dying, all it is, is once it's raised into the light it just disappears.
Participant 2: I think it's more the experience of identifying with the ego more and more feels like death. And that's where the feeling of death comes in.
Participant 2: Not about the ego going away. The ego being in awareness.
Speaker: Yes, which is still wrong-mindedness, it's just the wrong-minded perception of it [death].
Participant 2: What else could death be? [Chuckling]
Speaker: So in a sense it's not like the ego dies,
but the ego is death. It's a wish to separate from God. And once the
mind lets go of the wish to be separate, “Where is the ego?
Participant 4: When the ego's gone, the mind no longer identifies or thinks that it's here or thinks it's a body.
Participant 2: So whether the body seems to be there or not doesn't even matter. I mean I'm talking but I don't know, I haven't experienced it so I mean again it's kind of meaningless.
Speaker: I'll just tell you a little passage from the workbook where Jesus leads up to the point we’re talking about. And [He says], "And this? And this? I cannot speak of this." [Laughs] That kind of points at like, [gasp] ‘It's unspeakable.’ So again, … we don't want to even try to describe it or try to put our attention to that [the experience of Union with God]. But again just looking at, ‘What…what’s blocking my awareness of that?’ It's like the light is right there but there have to be some blockades up that seem to be keeping one in darkness. So it's not helpful to describe the light but to just keep looking at the blockades, the barriers.
Participant 4: Seek what is false.
Speaker: Yeah. And those are all the concepts that we keep talking about; good citizen, male, female, young, old, husband, wife, grandparent, worker, American… all those concepts.
Participant 3: Good American.
Speaker: Good American, patriotic, on and on and on. [Chuckling]
[Reading from ACIM unspecified Course lesson]
A lesson earlier repeated once must now be stressed again, for it contains the firm foundation for today's idea. You are as God created you. There is no place where you can suffer, and no time that can bring change to your eternal state. How can a world of time and place exist, if you remain as God created you?
What is the lesson for today except another way of saying that to know your Self is the salvation of the world? To free the world from every kind of pain is but to change your mind about yourself. There is no world apart from your ideas because ideas leave not their source, and you maintain the world within your mind in thought."
That's what I've done all along is, I've questioned, questioned, questioned. And in questioning, so to speak, its like; Oh yeah, I was mad at the US government for Vietnam. I was mad at police officers that stopped me for no good reason. I was mad at the IRS for making mistakes on tax returns. I was mad at parents for things they did to me at certain times or failed to do. I was mad at teachers who embarrassed me. I was uh da da da da… But the more I questioned I got to really see that I made that up. There was no justifiable reason to be angry at anyone, especially since they aren't apart from my own mind.
Participant 2: "Ideas leave not their source." [Chuckling]
Participant 2: Where did those ideas come from of all those people who did those things?
Speaker: Yeah. And including the idea of ‘David the victim’ of all these things. I made him up.
Participant 1: So why is David still here?
Speaker: Well you can perceive it that way. I was just telling Beverly and Rhonda earlier today…
Participant 1: I'm making you up?
Participant: Well, this image is just a projection. I mean that's what you start to come to see; it's the image. In other words, if you think about it this way if the things that are coming out of this mouth seem to be resonating, if the ideas seem to be resonating, then that's a good symbol to your own mind…
Participant 2: …of, "ideas leave not their source."
Speaker: …of, "ideas leave not their source."
Participant 2: Where is the source of these ideas? It has to be in my mind.
Participant 2: It has to be in my mind.
Speaker: So again that's empowering. It's not like your getting these from something outside of you but your just remembering these ideas.
Participant 2: …that are already in your mind.
Participant 4: So when you said, “Did I make you up?” Well, who do you mean by “you”? You mean David? “You” is not David. Who he is, is not David.
Participant 1: Right.
Participant 4: So no, you did not make up who he is, but you did make up David.
Participant 1: David the image.
Participant 4: The image, the person.
Participant 1: The person I see there.
Participant 4: Yeah. And even there you have to go back to "Who is the ‘you’?” that would make up an image. That's not who you really are either. That's the ‘you’ that makes up images. It's the deceived mind.
Participant 1: Is everybody having a hard time with this like I am? [Chuckling]
Speaker: Well let me use an example, I like to bring it down to practicles. We went to Meijer’s today, to use that kind of an example. It used to bug me to go to shopping centers and malls because I used to think, “Oh boy, here we are in the temple of the ego – more stuff…” And it used to be something like. “Oh I would much rather be at a quiet stream, with birds chirping, and feel close there, not in Meijer’s certainly, or a shopping mall with all these trinkets.’
Participant 2: A blaring example.
Speaker: A blaring example. But this morning, so to speak, we go on the hampster excursion [editors note: perhaps referring to a shopping excursion] … and I’m just sitting there and just, its like... ‘ppsssheeew’, all these images. But if ‘ideas leave not their source’ … it's just these images… it seems to be more fragmented than when I'm looking at the Bay [where it seems like there are] just a few images; there’s this blue thing, and a nice sky. And then I go into Meijer’s, and it's like, ‘psshhhshppsphshshshhsspshpshp!’ Images everywhere! But the real relief comes in that an image is an image is an image. It doesn't matter how many times you multiply images, they’re false!
Participant 2: Zero times zero [is zero].
Speaker: Yeah, Zero times zero or a million times zero is still zero. So to me… I was just, in an experiential sense, just kind of sitting there looking, just letting the body’s eyes move over all these images and feeling very much as if I'm not here… a real detachment, as if… just kind of like I'm watching a bunch of images. So that kind of gives you the sense of how freeing that can be. Instead of thinking like, 'Oh gosh I'm surrounded with all these images….'
Participant 2: […and I] ‘can't wait to get out of here.’
Speaker: …as if they are apart from my mind. No, those are all the images of the past. That's like lesson number 7, “I see only the past.”
Participant 4: And that figure named David is also just one of those many images, and that's all it is.
Participant 4: It's not who you are. You don't think of that as being who you are. It's just one of any number of images that don't mean anything.
Participant 5: And then kind of… what just crossed my mind is, several people could see your image and perceive you totally different than when someone tries to describe your image to somebody else. So their perception of who you are is different than mine.
Participant 6: I have experienced that...
It's just another perception of... my perceptions have seemed that the part that could look exactly like a photographic image... but when they look at a photographic image they only see their perception, just a reminder of what they saw. And its not… and that's why a photograph, you look at a photograph of yourself… 'That's not me I don't look like that.'
Participant 4: Or it's like hearing your voice on tape. It's like everybody else may think that sounds like you but you won't think that sounds like you.
Participant 2: Exactly.
Speaker: So, from what we were just saying about perception, another way to summarize what we just said about perception, that [?] was talking about, is that the wrong- mind is entirely subjective, which is another way of just describing lesson number two in the Course, "I have given everything I see, all the meaning that it has for me." It has no meaning inherent in and of itself, because ideas leave not their source. I'm seeing what I want to see. If I want to see a happy day, a joyful day, a beautiful day and that's what I want to see, then that's what I'll see. But if I describe certain things, whether its rain or snow or sleet or cold or hot… If wake up and say, 'Oh that's lousy weather' - [definitively] that's lousy weather!
Participant 2: When I'm looking through fear I see chaos.
Participant 3: So would you say that the mass consensus, that when it’s overcast and cloudy - that's bad weather and means for having a crappy day - that that's kind of like a special relationship kind of thing.
Speaker: Just like with Raj… under Raj's definition that would be a perfect example of a special relationship with the weather, so to speak. Yes.
Participant 2: Yeah, because it's getting into those more subtleties of special relationship. Because when we've studied it, what the Course gets down to is it says [that] seeing any differences anywhere is specialness. Well that's pretty aaalllll inclusive! [Laughs] I can't think of anything that doesn't fall into that category.
Speaker: And its meaningful differences because (?) read a good passage this morning from the Teacher's Manual where it said, "The body’s eyes will still perceive differences, but the healed mind will put them all into one category. They are not real."
Participant 2: So in a sense that's still not really differences in the way we're talking about specialness differences.
Participant 6: Blank can't sell a blank canvas. [editor’s note: reference unclear.]
Speaker: It's a great metaphor. [Laughing]
Participant 6: I bet you I could win a prize...
Participant 6: … in a modern museum. ‘White on white, a metaphor’.
Speaker: That was a joke we had - we had a discussion up here at the time when we were up here for Traverse City on the Bay [editor’s note: refers to a lengthy retreat the group had.] where we went into things deeper, deeper, deeper, and then there was just this silence. It wasn't like a pause of a few minutes it was this long silence and finally my friend Dorothy said, “Oh, this will be your latest tape.”
Speaker: People order a tape and they get it and it's like your blank canvas, just blank. And we all laugh because that's where we're going, right.
Participant 2: You’ve said it all.
Participant 4: It'll be titled, 'The final tape.'
Participant 2: And you can title it as, 'The Final Masterpiece.'
Participant 2: He's not laughing.
[editor’s note: audio resumes after participants have regrouped.]
Speaker: [Reading from unspecified section of ACIM]
(Timelessness and Love?)
Does it create like Him? Unless it does, it is not real, and cannot be at all. If you are real the world you see is false, for God's creation is unlike the world in every way. And as it was His Thought by which you were created, so it is your thoughts which made it and must set it free, that you may know the Thoughts you share with God.
Release the world! Your real creations wait for this release to give you fatherhood, not of illusions, but as God in truth. God shares His Fatherhood with you who are His Son, for He makes no distinctions in what is Himself and what is still Himself. What He creates is not apart from Him, and nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him. There is no world because it is a thought apart from God, and made to separate the Father and the Son, and break away a part of God Himself and thus destroy His Wholeness. Can a world which comes from this idea be real? Can it be anywhere? Deny illusions, but accept the truth. Deny you are a shadow briefly laid upon a dying world. Release your mind, and you will look upon a world released.
Today our purpose is to free the world from all the idle thoughts
we ever held about it, and about all living things we see upon it. They
cannot be there. No more can we. For we are in the home our Father set
for us, along with them. And we who are as He created us would loose
the world this day from every one of our illusions, that we may be free.
Let your mind in quietness be changed so that the world is freed,
along with you.
Participant 1: See I have a hard time with that because I think when you're released you're not going to be released alone. So I think to be released is to let go of the body. Somehow I relate it to the body again. That the body… we finally let it go, then we're released. Then we're up…wherever…we’re One. But then when it says that you're not released alone, what does that mean? To me that's saying… What other body am I taking? What am I releasing? What else am I going to be with? I don't understand that.
Participant 3: Can I give it a try?
I read it described at one place, that it's like this being fell asleep and had a dream that it was many beings. And then so there's this period of waking up where the being starts to realize that it isn't all these separate beings that seem to be beyond consciousness, the One Being. So that's why it makes sense to me, at least I can see both the idea that I'm not this thing that I think I am. And that's about as far as I can take it right now. I still operate like I am separate but I keep coming back to that, keep trying to push and keep my mind focused on the idea that I am not this thing that I thought I was for a long time… that there's just One Being.
Participant 1: So if I'm not this body, then why am I here? Why is this body here if I believe I'm not this body?
Speaker: Well, I would relate it to the experience you had when we were in Adrian [Michigan]. Remember when we had the meditation? And afterwards I remember you telling me what your experience was in meditation where you said, “It was great.” You said you had no awareness of the body… you felt that you were aware of these specks of light… and to me you can use that as the context for letting go of the body. I mean when you sink into meditation and you feel that rest and that connectedness without the body, that's different than a context of thinking of laying the body aside in a form sense. That's precisely how one lays aside the body by sinking into meditation. And you can see that's much different than the linear kind of a concept of laying aside… or someone making their transition… or laying aside the body, which is described in terms of its not breathing anymore, this and that. It's a shift in awareness, that when you were meditating you had a shift in awareness, to something that didn't have anything to do with the body.
Participant 1: What about when you make your transition? What happens then? I mean, isn't that the same thing? I just seem like I'm getting farther and farther and farther lost in it. It's like one minute I understand it and then all of a sudden I don't get it again. How can I understand something for a few seconds and then I'm totally lost again.
Participant 3: The thoughts that I was getting was like; you've got two different thought systems [and] you're trying to understand this thought system concept of this thought system… trying to understand something that cannot be understood in terms of what we thought reality was from the ego's vantage point. But the ego cannot understand that. So you cannot look through the lens of the ego and understand the truth.
Participant 1: Right.
Participant 3: It just can't be done.
Participant 2: And it will seem very confusing and obscure and not understandable.
Speaker: It's a good place to be in. In the world's eyes when you say, 'I don't understand I'm confused' the world goes, 'Dummy.' It's like all these people with PhD's supposedly understand. But do they really understand? Do you understand in a worldly sense, do you really understand anything? So, if you've had this glimmer but it seems to go, like a little 'whisp'... that's why it's so precious when we come together, to just come together with, ‘I don't know, but... I'm willing to be shown.’ That's a precious place to be in. You won't find anybody here saying, 'Oh, don't you get it, don't you get it?’ It's precious...
Participant 1: I'm waiting for somebody to say that.
Speaker: No, but that's the whole beauty of it, is to be open and to start to say, 'Gee I'm confused, and I don't know but I'm willing to be shown.' That to me is an indication of a mind that's opening up.
Participant 2: And being willing to admit that.
Participant 2: That’s openness too.
Speaker: A closed mind isn't going to admit that it doesn't know, it thinks it knows. It's convinced! [Laughing]
Participant 2: Or pretends to know.
Speaker: Yes. And it will go through all kinds of ego defenses when anyone even implies that it doesn't know. 'How dare you say this!’
But, confusion or disorientation and, 'Gee I don't know, but I'm willing to be shown… it's like the crack is opening. And the Holy Spirit can work with a willing mind like that. So I think it's just marvelous.
Participant 4: Hurrah!
Participant 2: Yay Anita!
[pause in dialogue and then inaudible]
Participant 2: And that's where you say… those little insights too… it's like you we're talking about. It's so strong that you can hang on to it. And so grab for it and hang on to it.
Participant 3: One of the ways that I see the ego too is when you we're relating to [?’s] story about running and having experienced a pain and then kind of questioning that pain and then it moved… and it went away. And when I'm sitting here sometimes I'll get the idea that, 'Oh, I'm hungry’ or ‘Oh, I'm uncomfortable’ and the more that we challenge those ego ideas that I'm a body that can get hungry, then it has to shift. Because it's like, 'Oh I've found me out.'
Speaker: Try another. (Laughing)
Participant 3: Mind found out that that's not what it is, you know, so it shifts.
Participant 4: Try another ploy.
Participant 3: As you keep uncovering the ego it keeps moving but it's running out of spaces to hide. So I kind of think of it as that. As you hold onto the intention to want to know it may seem that you can't understand it. But as you keep coming together with people who want to understand then understanding comes and then you may read this same thing and all of a sudden a light bulb goes on or something. So I think it has to do with determination. That's what I really got from Tara Singh was, you have to be determined. This is going to take some commitment.
Participant 4: I think of the line you sometimes use from Krishnamurti about, “Did you get it? And if you did, great!. And if you didn't, don't go home and think about it.” Just like you walk out of this room if you think, 'What was that all about?’ [It’s like] ‘Oh well, Oh well.'
Participant 2: Don't dwell on it.
Participant 4: Just keep wanting, just keep desiring, keep being willing… but there's no place for self-judgment or self-blame or any of that.
Participant 5: And then the tapes help. Because I remember you said, “They concretize.” Sometimes, like you were saying, something has eluded you… you got it for just an instant and then it was gone. And then you can listen to the tape and you get back a little again. But you still can't talk about it because you still don't know. You know you still can't verbalize it. And I may never. But there's a knowing that I am Mind, and I have that belief, and I don't need to go any further. I may hear something else that will help.
The lessons just keep telling me, 'Just keep doing the lessons.' Now, I don't know about anybody else but doing the lessons... I get something out of them that I didn't last year. I'm at lesson 101… and it means... altogether different… it's talking to me so much more now than it did before. Or, when I used to write about it… a couple of years ago. I see it's kind of gently, gently, gently helping me. I can remember more times that I'm not a body, I'm not a body, than a year ago. I had absolutely no conception of what that meant. I read that, “I'm not a body.” But now.. I heard, “I am Mind.” If I'm not a body then what am I?! I am Mind. And that helped. That just... it's just a totally different… I can't even say understanding, it's just perception.
Speaker: [There are] wonderful instructions right before you do the workbook… "You may find many of these ideas startling, you may not believe them. This does not matter. Just use them.” [Laughter] I mean what great instructions!
Participant 5: Yeah.
Participant 6: That's a challenge too, to use them.
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