Friday, March 21, 2008

The Decisionmaker By Any Other Name

In his instruction on the Course, Ken Wapnick has introduced the term "decisionmaker," to indicate the function of the mind which enables us to make a decision. This capability is implied in the Course, though it is never so named, and is purely a didactic construct, a teaching aid. The decisionmaker makes decisions not in the same sense as the decisions we make in the world, which are between alternatives in the life we seem to live in this world, and which we are so enamored with, because they prove our maturity, our relevance, and indeed our very existence.
Those decisions are all about what the Course calls the "hero" of the dream, and his exploits in the world, and the referent (decisionmaker) of them is our presumably separate identity, an "actor" in the world, the role we play. Those decisions are made by the false self, which we routinely mistake for who and what we are. This latter however is the self of Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players," our individual identity being one of them, it just happens to be our favorite role in this particular life we think we are living now. The decisionmaker, however, decides between the false self and our true Self, between our dayjob as an individual in the world, and our true identity which we are in truth.

We are conscious of playing different roles in the world, mother or father, uncle or aunt, employer or employee, master or slave, etc., but we seldoms question who is playing them, and the Course raises this issue in many ways, and perhaps most poignantly in the distinction between the hero of the dream and the dreamer of the dream(ACIM:T-27.VII, VIII), suggesting that the mind has a choice of not having the dream of which the body is the "hero," and to wake up instead. And the Course's path is all about making the other choice, which through forgiveness we can do, one miracle at a time. And miracles they are, for to the ego it is patently impossible to change our mind, as it always keeps us firmly wrapped around the axle with its tautological arguments.

In the early literature about Jesus, the expression we most often find is Jesus's invitation to the disciples, as he is "calling" them, i.e. "Follow me," which--if the reader will permit me a slight anachronism--is reallythe answer to Bill Thetford's statement: "There must be another way!" Jesus calls them out of their existing roles and routines onto a path to a Kingdom not of this earth, which he attempts to show them in word and deed. To leave behind their living, which they earn by the sweat of their brow, and follow him on the path to Life. It is up to them to decide to follow him, and as they do so he clearly shows them to live by a different law than the laws they were used to. His is the law of all inclusive love, and the Kingdom is truly "not of this world." This is the Love in which you can love your brother as yourself, because you know experientially--through "true empathy"--that he is yourself. It is the Love in which all things are forgiven, just like Jesus forgives the apostles for sleeping when they should be awake, and forgives us in the Course (in advance!) for not doing the lessons as he asks us to.

There are many episodes in the Old Testament, the Tanakh, as well, which demonstrate this type of a decision that is based on following a deeper faith, on making an inspired choice, against our own "better" judgment, for at some points in life, when we are truly in touch with the spirit, truly inspired, we know what the Course means by saying that "the ego always speaks first," (ACIM:T-6.IV.1:2) and "The ego's decisions are always wrong, because they are based on the error they were made to uphold.: (ACIM:T-5.VI.4:2). There is Moses, who vainly protests that God should pick his brother already, because he's not suited for the task, but he goes... there is Jephthah who likewise listens and pledges anything at all for the greater wellbeing, and he goes, even when the sacrifice turns out to be his only "daughter," symbolic of that which is dearest to him--his "offspring," which you again probably read as parable.

Too often have these deeply symbolic accounts been mistaken for literal accounts, instead of what they truly are: parables, for the simple reason that all of duality is metaphor. To those of us who are outside (the relationship with Jesus), it all comes in parables, but to his apostles individually he "explains" everything. (cf. Mk 4:34) In the Course he asks us to join with him, in forgiveness, and to leave the details to the Holy Spirit. That is forgiveness, for it means the ego gets out of the way, and instead of having the ego judge and act first, deciding alone, we now become the vehicle for inspired decisions. In myth and fairy tale many comparable story lines exist, in which a seeming sacrifice is made, but which turns to an unexpected well being, born from the seeming despair of abject failure. They all indicate the same thing; that inspired moment when the ego chooses to listen to the Holy Spirit instead of to the ego.

The conundrum has always been that with our ego we cannot decide to be without ego, for the ego's tautological and self-serving logic never lets us escape its vicious circle. Hence the Course teaches very clearly that it is a course in undoing, not in doing, hence such themes as "I need do nothing." (ACIM:T-18.VII) What the Course helps us do is to not choose the ego, and ask for help from the Holy Spirit instead, and that is the only mechanism that passes through the ego's firewall within our mind. And the sales logic for making such decision which run contrary to what we think we want (with our ego), is that we'll feel better, we'll have less conflict. And for every miracle, Jesus issues us another HS Blue Stamp (in lieu of an S&H Green Stamp), and when our book is full and we finally accept the atonement for ourselves once and for all, it will be apparent that the decision was no decision, that the truth was never changed by our dream of this world. "It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed," (ACIM:T-8.VI.9:7) the point of which is that we can make the "other choice" this instance, and experience the miracle or the holy instant. For the longest time it is like learning how to jump off a moving train, however then we regret it, for the feeling that we are missing the train takes over, and we jump right back on the next train. At some point it is bound to occur to us that we are better off of the ego's hamster wheel, which the Buddhists call Samsara. In the Course he also promises compound interest, for one miracle could save us "thousands of years." (ACIM:T-1.II.6:7) To the Newtonian side of the family that seems hard to fathom, but in the holographic model suggested by quantum mechanics this makes eminent sense, for we're not changing the world, we're changing our beliefs which imagine the world, so that we ultimately can see what the Course calls the Real World, so far hidden from view only by the clouds of our feverish dreams.

It is a fundamental tenet of the Course, that all is never lost, that there always remains that spark of sanity in our minds, our memory of Heaven, which can begin to grow from the moment we turn to it, and this child inside will lead us home if we welcome it within ourselves. The memory of our power to decide, which the ego tries to obliterate, has been preserved for us in myth and fairy tale throughout time, and A Course In Miracles gives us step by step instructions, in a way that is completely unprecedented. The story of the manger in Bethlehem of course is symbolic of the fact that the world has no place for him, since no one "in their right mind" would extend a welcome to someone who says his place does not exist. That is surely the real reason why there was no room at the inn. But by choosing the miracle, we do extend a home to him, as the Course describes in a hauntingly beautiful passage:

1. What danger can assail the wholly innocent? 2 What can attack the guiltless? 3 What fear can enter and disturb the peace of sinlessness? 4 What has been given you, even in its infancy, is in full communication with God and you. 5 In its tiny hands it holds, in perfect safety, every miracle you will perform, held out to you. 6 The miracle of life is ageless, born in time but nourished in eternity. 7 Behold this infant, to whom you gave a resting place by your forgiveness of your brother, and see in it the Will of God. 8 Here is the babe of Bethlehem reborn. 9 And everyone who gives him shelter will follow him, not to the cross, but to the resurrection and the life.
(ACIM:T-19.IV.C.10)


Copyright, © 2008 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.
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