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Touching on Teaching and Learning
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.
Friend: Does it happen very often that someone sincerely goes into the Course, works through the whole book, and then says, I’ve been there, done that and walks away?.... It seems like it would change your thinking… so then how could you walk away and say, I don’t need to work on it anymore? I mean, would we ever achieve that particular type of accomplishment?
David: This revolves around what Jesus calls “transfer of training”.
The ego can learn the Course and then compartmentalize it in the mind so it can just talk the Course, which would be a defense against applying it. It says: Don’t apply it. Don’t start looking at the various aspects of your life because that would literally bring about an experience of awakening. Another thing is that what the Course is pointing at is so simple and so direct that often people will attempt to fit the Course into their life instead of letting go of what they conceive of as their life and just letting go to the Holy Spirit. So what happens is people will try to mix the Course with all sorts of different things. This can be another really diffusing mechanism. I don’t want to really hear what it is saying. I don’t want to really see what it is saying so I interpret against it.
But there can be a genuine experience with the Course if the Mind is really ready and very willing to use it. It can literally come to the end of the workbook lessons where Jesus says, “Our time for words is almost over.” If the mind is really open and ready, it can approach mysticism where it sinks more and more into that quietness. It sinks more and more into the revelatory experience and then for a period of time it seems to come back into the world until it doesn’t come back. It just sinks into the light and that’s it.
Now what happens… a lot of people say, “I took that Course,” and that can happen. The Course is very profound. It has such a depth and is so profound that it is comparatively very rare that someone seems to come in and just go through it. But, in the ultimate sense, we need to step back and see that even taking A Course in Miracles is not a choice that the mind really has. At the very introduction, Jesus says only the time that you take this Course is up to you. Even the form is not up to you. So in the ultimate sense here’s the world and here’s the screen and here’s where A Course in Miracles is (on the screen) and it’s all about my mind’s readiness and willingness to turn back to that light. And as I do that, which is purely in a mind sense, then it will seem like there’s a form going on out here. I seem to be a person with a book with eyes moving over the pages and all of that’s out there on the screen and is just a symbol. Really, I’m a mind and I’m coming back to the light and this just seems to be a form. It’s symbolic.
Now, that really gets away from defending the Course and who’s doing this and who’s doing that and what about this and what about that. In the end you start to see that it seemed to be a path that a person was taking but really that was just another symbol.
David: It’s at a metaphor level. In the Teacher’s Manual, when it talks about levels of teaching, he starts out by saying there aren’t any levels of teaching. God’s plan for Atonement was accomplished in an instant, so there aren’t levels and progressions. But, then, after he says that, he goes on and says but here are some levels for you because he knows that’s too big of a quantum leap. He talks about the casual encounters, the sustained teaching/learning, and then the lifelong relationships and rungs of the ladder. He begins the Teacher’s Manual by saying you are teaching and learning every instant. That takes it out of a realm of form; teacher appearing, student appearing. If you’re teaching every instant then it’s all in your mind. There are two thought systems in there. I’m teaching myself depending on which one I’m lining up with every instant. I always go back to that because that’s how I’m keeping it simple every instant. I don’t have to think about who’s the teacher for me or who’s the student. All that stuff just seems to fall away. Actually, most of the Teacher's Manual is written at the relative level. He’s talking about healers and patients. In the ultimate sense our minds are what need healing. He does give a sense that there will be some who have seemed to have trained their mind or will seem to be a little bit more miracle-minded. It’s described as teacher/pupil or healer/patient. So, he’s clearly talking at the metaphorical level of how it will seem to be.
Another part is with Holy Relationship. In the ultimate sense, Holy Relationship is nothing more than accepting the Holy Spirit’s Purpose. It’s not dependent on you and your spouse agreeing on a Holy purpose because ultimately there’s just one mind. But, a lot of the text on special and Holy Relationship is written at the level of the seeming split mind. Like in the workbook “two minds with one intent become so strong that what they will becomes the Will of God.” There is a passage in the text where he says, “Whoever is the saner of the two remember your indebtedness and your gratitude to your brother” and it’s obviously speaking as if there is a relationship between two people. Those are helpful metaphors because of that whole sense of teaching, learning, and thoughts. That the world’s nothing but a world of ideas is not the way it’s experienced. Until there’s a real significant shift in the Mind it’s experienced as relationships of bodies.
Friend: So, what you said earlier sounded like what I was reading. I’m wondering if there’s a difference between teaching, which we all do, and a teacher per se which is a person who seems to be able to verbalize and express concepts a little better, like you do? Maybe there’s a difference between a teacher at this point in time and teaching, which we all do, by our actions, if nothing else?
David: I would say when you read the Teacher's Manual just be aware of these different metaphors. At the beginning he says that a teacher of God is anyone who wants to be one. Well, that’s one way of talking about it, which is usually quoted a lot. People will go around and say we’re all teachers but then that other metaphor about “He cannot claim this title for himself unless he’s gone through the workbook.” That’s in the Teacher's Manual as well. Then there’s another one where he’s talking about when “You perceive no separate interests apart from your self, that his direction is chosen.” It’s kind of like hitting a different thing. Sometimes people who work with the Course say that we’re all teachers. But, I really think that to be a teacher of God you’ve got to be teaching what comes through from the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, you’re seemingly teaching God part of the time and teaching the ego the rest of the time. That’s why I think it’s helpful when he uses all these educational metaphors because he says there are only two lessons in your mind. The Holy Spirit is a lesson and the ego is a lesson and he says if you continue to try to teach from both you’ll be a conflicted teacher and a conflicted learner because it’s a very confusing curriculum to try to teach two opposing thought systems that don’t meet at any point. So, it gets back to just being willing to unveil the wrong mind. I can’t choose the Holy Spirit consistently until I see that the wrong mind has nothing to offer. As long as I think that there are some parts that are attractive... maybe I still believe that there’s some “good guilt.” For most people innocence is good but there are certain heinous crimes or there are certain things that “you’ve done to me” and you better wake up here. As long as you believe that there are certain injustices and certain grievances that are valid then you still believe in “good” guilt. The Course’s message is “guilt is never good.” Guilt always comes from the ego.
In the ultimate sense, it seems as if there’s an ego and a Holy Spirit and a decision maker. But, the thing is, as long as you believe that there’s an autonomous decision maker that can choose one or the other or at times choose neither, then you’re falling into another trap. You’re always every instant either in the wrong mind or the right mind. There is never a time when you kind of go, both of you. It’s too confusing and that helps eliminate this thing of coercion because He says in the Rules for Decision, “Today I will make no decisions by myself.” And he says “You may perceive this as coercion,” but, think about it: you have two advisors in your mind and every decision you make comes from listening to one or the other. So, it’s not a question of coercion here. He says you will make a decision based on one of these advisors. The purpose of the Course is to really take a look at “what do I really want.” I can’t make a choice for the Holy Spirit as long as I believe that there’s something attractive about the ego, so as soon as the ego gets raised up from the unconscious into conscious awareness and I can see that none of these beliefs serve me – [snaps fingers] That’s it.
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