Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Duality all over again

The following started with a thread on Course Talk, in which I took part, titled One in Nature, not in number. Subsequently I decided that it might pay to expand upon my response, since this is an issue that appears to come up with some frequency. The original writer posed that the notion of "One in nature, not in number," might be a way of understanding the Course's concept of oneness on an operational level. It should be evident to attentive readers that much rather it turns the Course teaching on its ear.

Amidst what seems to be a cottage industry of Course interpretation, which makes the silent assumption that the Course should need interpretation, one of the favorite pastimes boils down to finding byways to re-introduce and justify the ego's implied belief in duality, and thus to have your cake and eat it too: appearing to embrace the Course, and honoring the ego and the world at the same time. Besides the clarifications of this issue that can be found in the Course, which are too numerous to repeat here, it may be helpful however to consider some other issues, both historical and current.

As is now evident from internal evidence the original teaching of Jesus was better preserved in the Thomas Gospel than in the so-called "canonical" gospels, where the needs of the story-tellers, and the first stirrings of theological interpretation of Jesus' teaching are beginning to be felt, which finds its origin (within the canonical tradition) in the writings of Paul, whose early work pre-dates the synoptics, but not Thomas. And of course the internal consistency of GoTh reflects a non-dualism that is completely in-line with ACIM.

Historically Paul then lays the ground work for a theological interpretation of Jesus, and lays the foundation for what we call Christianity, including such key notions as the Second Coming meaning Jesus' return to this world, rather than us following him out of it. By striving for a consistent interpretation in ego terms, i.e. consistency in form, the inner consistency of Jesus' teachings, never mind the whole Biblical tradition, is compromised and a forced consistency in form is theologically imposed on the Bible as God's revealed word. One way of looking at it very bluntly is that if the Bible does not have a consistent meaning an emerging priesthood does not have any jobsecurity. Essentially the "mysteries of faith" arise wherever it is impossible to explain a non-dualistic teaching in dualistic terms, and hence these "mysteries" are jealously guarded by the priesthood and not open to question, rather accepting them becomes the basis of their brand of salvation, which as we all know has proven to be highly marketable, in by now some 25,000 flavors. All these varieties of interpretation are ultimately possible only because there can not be a consistent way of explaining non-dualism in dualistic terms.

Much of the misunderstandings around the Course amount to the same issue. The Course is consistent in content, not in form, for reasons it carefully explains, namely our reality is non-dualistic, but we're having this dream of a dualistic existence, and the Course meets us where we are. Now if a Course-theology is attempted to impose a consistency in form on the Course which it doesn't have, the result could conceivably be 25,000 "Course denominations," because the answers multiply once we go down this path (just add yeast, sugar, and some global warming, and give it 2,000 years). Likewise people who make their living interpreting the Course along such lines have need of justifying their interepretations by speaking of Ken Wapnick's "interpretation," when that is the one thing Ken Wapnick does not do. Instead he painstakingly explains the Course on the Course's terms, following strictly and only its strict consistency of content, and allowing for its apparent contradictions in form, by understanding obvious metaphors metaphorically.

Obviously to the ego this is intolerable, and hence the not infrequent, but entirely unjustified notion of Ken's "interpretation" of the Course is given currency. Strictly speaking one could only use that term by either not fully reading the Course in one piece, or if the writer perhaps did not read English very well. And so the groundwork is laid for many possible interpretations, as in fact the Course clearly explains the ego will always do, in pursuing the first law of chaos, that the truth is different for everyone. The prime example of this is surely Robert Perry's book "One Course, Two Visions," the title of which surely says enough.

A recent episode in Miracles Magazine concerning the work of Gary Renard reflects the same issues. If nothing else Gary is very forceful in upholding and presenting the nondualism of the Course and does not compromise that message one iota, and he came under attack in Miracles Magazine by a parade of writers who dedicate themselves to presentations of the Course in which they sneak in non-dualism in various forms and degrees through the side door, as has been proudly documented in the above book, which by its title alone makes a joke of the internal consistency of the Course.

The bottom line on all of this is that the mistakes are the same now as they were two thousand years ago, and simply demonstrate in so many ways how the ego in all of us constantly seeks to compromise the uncompromising nature of reality, in order to hang on to the validity of the self-concept it wants to sell us on. And as long as we keep wanting to be sold on it, we'll buy for it is only our choice that makes and empowers the ego. And as the Course points out, our fondness for it can be understood only because we made it.

Copyright, © 2006 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.
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