Thursday, August 11, 2005

Explaining the Mysteries of the Faith

ACIM says:

quote
The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. 2 No matter what the form of the attack, this still is true. 3 Whoever takes the role of enemy and of attacker, still is this the truth. 4 Whatever seems to be the cause of any pain and suffering you feel, this is still true. 5 For you would not react at all to figures in a dream you knew that you were dreaming. 6 Let them be as hateful and as vicious as they may, they could have no effect on you unless you failed to recognize it is your dream.
This single lesson learned will set you free from suffering, whatever form it takes. 2 The Holy Spirit will repeat this one inclusive lesson of deliverance until it has been learned, regardless of the form of suffering that brings you pain.
unquote (ACIM:T-27.VIII.10-11)

To put it a different way, we chose the separation, and we need to learn to un-choose it. The ego permanently sends us chasing our own tail by making us believe we can change the world. The sane lesson of the Holy Spirit is that there's only one thing we truly can change, and that is our mind, and that is our only job as students of the Course. This process entails a gradual revaluation of all of our values, or as the Course puts it:

quote
To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold. 2 Not one can be kept hidden and obscure but it will jeopardize your learning. 3 No belief is neutral. 4 Every one has the power to dictate each decision you make. 5 For a decision is a conclusion based on everything that you believe. 6 It is the outcome of belief, and follows it as surely as does suffering follow guilt and freedom sinlessness. 7 There is no substitute for peace.
unquote (ACIM:T-24.in.2:1-7)

In a way, because the Course is presented within the historical framework of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and because it uses a number of terms chiefly from Christian theology but very explicitly uses them in a different sense than they have been traditionally used, it forces us right there to begin that process of "questioning every value." Perhaps the biggest item is the Course's rejection of vicarious salvation, which is a core tenet of mainstream Christianity.

Fundamental to the Course process is the notion that no outside savior could save us, but rather that we need to save ourselves by undoing a wrong decision we believe we have made. This notion does have a precedent in Biblical literature, in the NT statement of "taking up your cross and following Jesus," which we would now understand as take responsibility for the decision your made, and the predicament it put you in, and follow Jesus on the path of Salvation, which is the forgiveness practice which is taught in the Course. And in terms of forgiving ourselves, and letting go of our error (the choice for the ego), it is not possible unless and until we admit making the choice in the first place.

By changing our mind, and learning to ask the Holy Spirit for help, instead of the ego, we are learning in small steps to join with Jesus in our minds, and look at the drama of our life with growing detachment, and as a useful classroom, rather than a horrid tragedy. And in that process we slowly begin to appreciate what non-dualism means as experience, not as an intellectual concept, which we have a very hard time fathoming.

Through our own experience we then learn more and more to appreciate the very core of the non-dualistic nature of the Course's teaching. And that the Course's use of Christian terminology in essence is explained entirely by this non-dualistic framework, which is very different from the Christian, dualistic framework, in which God made the world, and in which Jesus was a figure in the world, who is scheduled to come back to the world in the second coming. In the Course Jesus is our elder brother, who helps us choose "another way," and helps us follow him out of this world - i.e. to leave our identification with our ego self and the world of duality behind in favor of our true identity as spirit, in which we are one with the entire sonship, and therefore with Jesus. In this context we may be reminded of the following:

quote
You may complain that this course is not sufficiently specific for you to understand and use. 2 Yet perhaps you have not done what it specifically advocates. 3 This is not a course in the play of ideas, but in their practical application.
unquote (ACIM:T-11.VIII.5:1-3)

Without the practice of the Course's teachings of choosing the atonement for ourselves, its words remain just hollow words.

It is worthy of note that the Gospel according to Thomas is increasingly causing a stir, and, as I've seen in some of the on-line discussions, at least some people are grappling with the realization that it almost demands a non-dualistic understanding of the teachings of Jesus. As students of the Course we could not be surprised that through the explanation in DU, this inner consistency of the Thomas Gospel with the Course teaching has been developed. And therefore it should become clearer and clearer to us how in the development of Christianity as a worldly institution, a religion, the shift from non-dualism to dualism was made, and the dialectic mind (ego) developed a theology around the figure of Jesus. The purpose of this theology was to give Jesus meaning to the world. And the only way to explain away the inconsitencies with the original non-dualistic teachings was in "hiding" them in the assumptions of the theological thought system, as "mysteries of the faith," which were given salvific value, if we accepted them.

In this process two things happen, one is that instead of following Jesus out of the world of duality into his non-dualistic Kingdom of the mind, based on following him and experientially learning the meaning of his word, we now get to make intellectual confession to a faith about him that will validate our life on this earth, but magically save us from our sins (vicarious salvation). It is the ego's way of having your cake and eating it too. And secondly teachers now become important to explain Jesus, to explain the mysteries of the faith, etc. and with the importance of teachers, come differences of opinion, and endless theological rifts and splits, until the present day. In other words the teaching is now firmly pulled into the realm of the dialectic mind, and out of the realm of inner experience. Which is the ego's purpose, since the thought of separation, constantly needs to validate itself, since it so obviously is not true.
The inner tradition of those like Valentinus and some others who truly attempted to follow Jesus, is then poohpooed as "gnosticism" and "mystery religions," etc. and nearly completely obliterated out of history, and they are written out of the mainstream belief, which ultimately gets codified as the Nicene Creed, in which we simply accept unexplained premises as the mysteries on which our faith is founded. These are assumptions we are not supposed to question. The Course instead, much like Socrates did for the youth of Athens, exhorts us to: "Question every value that you hold." Caveat emptor. The consequences might include peace, freedom and happiness.

N.B. The title to this article is a link to Ken Wapnick's Lighthouse article "The World as the Royal Road to Heaven," which is an expression of the practical implications of the notion that Duality is Metaphor (the name of a tape set by Ken Wapnick), or to put it in Biblical terms: Jesus teaches in parables, but to the apostles individually (i.e. if they join with him in the mind) he explains everything.

Copyright, (c) 2005, Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.
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