Saturday, August 13, 2005

Theology and Projection

In the ego-system all is uncertain, and unstable, because it is based on nothing.

Starting from the Course's concept of "the tiny mad idea" - the thought of separation is evidently all smoke and mirrors, and the Course explains the instability of the ego-identity from that ontogenesis.

Thus when the ego forms its God concept, after the third split, when we're fully identified with the wrong mind, of necessity we project what we deny, in this case the hateful thought of the separation onto God. So now he is the angry God of Genesis who chases Adam and Eve out of the Garden. He is the object of the fear of God. Here is how the Course describes the dynamics of this ego process of projection:

A split mind is endangered, and the recognition that it encompasses completely opposed thoughts within itself is intolerable. 4 Therefore the mind projects the split, not the reality. 5 Everything you perceive as the outside world is merely your attempt to maintain your ego identification, for everyone believes that identification is salvation. 6 Yet consider what has happened, for thoughts do have consequences to the thinker. 7 You have become at odds with the world as you perceive it, because you think it is antagonistic to you. 8 This is a necessary consequence of what you have done. 9 You have projected outward what is antagonistic to what is inward, and therefore you would have to perceive it this way.
unquote (ACIM:T-12.III.7:3-9)

In essence then, while in certain gnostic teachings there was an awareness that the creator God was not the real God, until the Course, and importantly not till after Freud, there was not the sophistication to express the dynamics of this projection. With that added dimension, suddenly the gnostic mythology starts to make more sense.

Since Christianity throughout has been a worldly religion, which made the world real and which occupied with the God who made the world, it has of necessity occupied itself mostly with this projected God of the ego, who therefore becomes the embodiment of our authority conflicts etc.

As I've pointed out elsewhere, the Gospel according to Thomas, recognized now as more original and likely truer to Jesus's actual expressions, implies a non-dualism which is harder to discern in the canonical Gospels, though certain aspects of those, properly seen, are also actually easier to understand from the standpoint of non-dualism. Certainly it was no accident that the Thomas Gospel was suppressed, and nearly totally destroyed. And logically, theology completed the task which the compilers of the NT canon started, i.e. to build a fanciful thought system around this ego-God who created this world, which grants the world reality, and subsequently to develop interpretations of Jesus which focus on his being in this world, which make his crucifixion a center piece, rather than the resurrection, and which interpret the second coming as his return to this world, again underscoring the reality of that world itself.

In our work with the Course we can make sense of this whole scenario. We can repeatedly see in ourselves and others the tendency to tell Jesus what it is he's saying, rather than to listen to him. At times like that we engage in long detours. And the difference, which after a while becomes readily discernable is this: if we practice the Course faithfully, we are led to experiences which make its terminology clearer and clearer. It has the deliberate structure of a spiral staircase which reinforces that experiential learning. This is very clear in the experiences of forgiveness and joining, true empathy, etc., beginning with the entire workbook, which we can argue about till the cows come home, or do the exercises, and thus learn their meaning based on our own experience. Conversely when we choose to argue with the teaching, and tell Jesus what he should teach, we are practicing theology on the small scale, i.e. we are now projecting our stuff onto Jesus and God. This is what the dialectic mind will try to do all the time, since this ensures the survival of the ego. It is the experience of doing the workbook lessons, and the ongoing forgiveness practice in our lives which can only put us in touch with the real teachings of the Course, the non-dualistic teaching which it promulgates, and which remains a closed book, unless we are doing the work the Course gives us to do.

And then it finally dawns on us that even in the NT it was repeatedly stated that all Jesus's teachings comes to us in parables, but that to the apostles individually he explains everything. c.f. Mk. 4:34 "But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples." As a side note we might understand the concept of "being alone with Jesus," more in the sense of "joining with Jesus," which naturally is in the mind. Thus, seen in this light of inner experience, theology remains an exploit of the dialectic mind, which serves to separate us from the experience of following Jesus. And as Course students we can see this behavior with increasing clarity in ourselves and others. And this distinction makes it very clear why only doing the actual work, makes it possible for the Course to deliver what it promises: a more peaceful life.

The Course provides the following admonitions to this point:

The ego will demand many answers that this course does not give. 2 It does not recognize as questions the mere form of a question to which an answer is impossible. 3 The ego may ask, "How did the impossible occur?", "To what did the impossible happen?", and may ask this in many forms. 4 Yet there is no answer; only an experience. 5 Seek only this, and do not let theology delay you.
unquote (ACIM:C-in.4)


A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary. 6 It is this experience toward which the course is directed. 7 Here alone consistency becomes possible because here alone uncertainty ends.
unquote (ACIM:C-in.2:5-7)

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