Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Gary Myth

When The Disappearance of the Universe first appeared -- I can't resist these puns -- many did not realize how serious it was about being funny, and how much fun is a serious part of the journey home, for those of us who chose A Course In Miracles as our guide. If the problem with the separation thought was primarily that the Son of God forgot to laugh at it (cf. T-27.VIII.6:2), and instead took it, and thus his separate (false!) identity seriously, then learning to laugh at ourselves is quite obviously an integral part of the journey home, as in fact the same section reminds us, when Jesus invites us that, "Together, we can laugh them both away,..." in which "both" refers to the "tiny mad" idea (and its effects), which by dint of forgetting to laugh uproariously at its silliness, now becomes "a serious idea, and possbile of both accomplishment and real effects."

Funnily enough at the time of the appearance of the Disappearance, the established notion was that it was imposible to popularize the Course without compromising it, and yet this book proceeded to do just that, bringing the concepts into the vernacular without one iota of compromise to its core tenets. The lack of seriousness and formality, as well as a host of other (apparently) obvious shortcomings was promptly held against the book and its author in some circles, and clearly it is not for everyone, as is the case with the Course itself to begin with. But for those of us who vibrate to Gary's writing, the book is a welcome expansion of Course literature. I find myself at the point where it is, along with the sequel, Your Immortal Reality, an integral part of my work with the Course, and I make no secret of that.

Implicit in the books, Gary has clearly made the commitment of sharing a lot of his learning experiences with us, allowing us to speed up our own learning through the opportunity to empathize with the slapstick comedy of the "Life of Gary," and have yet another opportunity to begin to see the humor of our own presumed lives for what it is, as we start to make our way home by practicing the forgiveness process of the Course.

Along with all of that, these books also represent a pincer movement on Christianity, in the sense that, by establishing the solid core of the Thomas Gospel, as Pursah does in Your Immortal Reality, the continuity between Jesus of the early days and Jesus now in the Course is shown, through inner consistency of the teaching. It becomes clearer than ever that Jesus teaches what he always taught and will always teach, the point being that Jesus is not the character who lived in the dream 2000 years ago, but Jesus is who he always was, the resurrected son of God, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and the symbol of our ability to remember who we are in truth, as we learn to forget the victim script that is the ego's fundamental ploy for establishing its false identity in the dream in which we firmly believe that we are the effect of the world, and the victim of circumstance. Thus Jesus was not the suffering figure of the Christian mythology which was first conceptualized by Paul, and which was preserved for posterity through the editing process of the so-called canonical books of the New Testament, in a temporarily (for some 1500+ years) successful attempt to hijack the story of his life by re-interpretation for the purpose of religion building, and to immunize the world against his appeal to follow him (in spirit), and to do what he taught.

The dream of victimhood is expressed on many levels in the mythology of our lives, starting from being born from our parents, or being delivered by a stork, if you choose to believe that,  our existence literally "caused" by influences seemingly beyond our control. In a more general sense we think we are the product of either evolution or a supposed creation by an external God.  Both of those models are really rationalizations of the same thing, namely that the body is who we are, and the body is not our fault. We are saddled with it, and it is all we have to accomplish our "heroic"  journey in this life, which is doomed to failure, unless we were to remember that there might be "another way," and choose to find our way home.

If we do seek "another way" earnestly, we must of necessity realize slowly but surely that Help on the journey home cannot come from the other inmates in the asylum (our babbling "friends" as they are described in the story of Job), who also believe this world is our home, and the primary symbol in the Western world of how that Help (Yehoshua=God's Help, or God Helps), shows up is Jesus, or as Gary prefers, J, the J guy, etc.

Arten and Purshah, representing Thaddeus and Thomas in Gary's experience merely testify to the reality of Jesus and his teaching, both then and now. The question is not at all if Arten and Pursah are "real," as some of Gary's detractors have made it out to be, the question is only can we follow in the spirit of Gary's example in our own lives, and accept the Guidance in the form it comes to us, and never mind how many times we fall down, just get up, dust ourselves off, and continue to practice forgiveness. So the question also is not why Arten and Pursah don't show up in my life, such is merely another ego ploy not to accept the Help in the form it is available to me, by whining that I want what Gary has. In reality it is not about the form of Gary's experience, that is as unsubstantial as anything - the stuff that dreams are made of - it is about the content of his story. He shares with us the story of that experience, for those of us who want to walk the same path.

The supposed 'controversy' (those who seek it will find it!) around Gary boils down to another exercise in vicarious salvation, which is perennially the kind the ego prefers. It did in Christianity, and it does now. In making a religion out of Jesus' teachings, Paul and those after him, diverted attention from the fact that "the secret of Salvation is but this, that you are doing this unto yourself," (ACIM:T-27.VIII.10:1) and that we need to change our mind, the Greek word for which was metanoia, which does not mean conversion (to Christianity), but it does evidently mean exactly what it says, changing your mind, just like Jesus still teaches in the Course. In stead by believing that Jesus sacrificed himself for our sins, we would escape from the need to do the hard work ourselves, and we can continue to "believe" the lie that is our so-called life. No wonder Paul became more popular than Jesus, for he promised in effect that we could have our cake and eat it too. The choice now became simply one of do you accept Jesus as your savior (Paul's story that Jesus saves us),  or do you not. And so a new dualism arises between those who think that when they come to the pearly gates, all they need to do is say: "I was with Jesus, honest!" or, alternatively: "I always knew he was a fraud, honest!"

Therefore, as is reflected in a recent article by Dr. Michael Mirdad about the "Gary controversy," the underlying dynamic is the wish to make a religion out of the Course. And we now get two parties who are in each other's hair, and the one party believes that when they come to the pearly gates, all they need to say is: "But I was with Gary, honest!" and the other party will tell St. Peter: "I always knew he was a fraud, I even wrote about it!" And so the attention once again has been diverted from our own need to forgive, and to heal our relationship with God, to something going on outside of us, and the ego wins again.

Instead, the only thing that matters is your own practice of the Course, and if Gary's books work for you, use them. If they don't appeal to you, leave them aside. And if you don't like the Course, choose another path.

Copyright, © 2007 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.
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