What has been given you? The knowledge that you are a mind, in Mind and purely mind, sinless forever, wholly unafraid, because you were created out of love. Nor have you left your Source, remaining as you were created. This was given you as knowledge which you cannot lose. It was given as well to every living thing, for by that knowledge only does it live. (ACIM:T-158.1)The other day, I had an interesting discussion with one of my Dutch Course friends, about why the word "conscience," or "scruples" does not occur in the course, apart from one mention of "unscrupulous." It seems to me that this is because it is merely an ego-inspired euphemism for "guilt." Particularly in the process of growing up in this world, our "conscience" is conditioned further into a set of moral values, with which we convince ourselves that we can decide good and bad, and thus please the ego's angry, vengeful God, Ialdabaoth. As this evolves it is further "civilized" into religious, philosophical or political mores or ethics. In short, first we cover up the guilt with the euphemism of "conscience," and then we give it social acceptability, because by knowing right from wrong, we become socially conditioned into well adjusted "grown-ups," capable of making our own decisions. Jesus in the Course gently, but firmly, disagrees, and speaks of our judgement as "sharp-edged children's toys," and makes clear that we are hurting ourselves with them, and makes it very clear that we come to his course as spiritual toddlers, who are best off by resigning as their own teacher, and learning to leave judgment to the Holy Spirit.
The ego always, and in all ways, tries to mimic heaven, so as sons of the ego, we believe we have consciousness (mind with a lower case "m"), and we give ourselves a life, driven by our belief in the ego's unholy trinity, of sin, guilt and fear. That belief in sin, guilt and fear is rationalized within the ego system in the form of a "religion," a "philosophy," a "world view," or a "conviction," it can be theistic, atheistic, or agnostic, but in one form or another it makes the world and the individual real, and keeps us focused on the putative life we have in time and space. As an individual who believes they are living in this world our first job then is to preserve the guilt, for the guilt is what makes the separation real, and guarantees our existence as a separate individual. The first step in domesticating guilt is to give it a nice name, "conscience," and a socially acceptable function, typically something like the "golden rule," in one form or another. We stay firmly shackled to the ego as long as we identify with the Hero of the Dream, who conscientiously makes the "right choices," about his (dream) life. And it usually takes us a long time before we encounter a challenge that really knocks us off balance enough to realize, as Helen and Bill did: "There must be another way," and begin the process of learning that we are the Dreamer of the Dream.Resign now as your own teacher. This resignation will not lead to depression. It is merely the result of an honest appraisal of what you have taught yourself, and of the learning outcomes that have resulted. Under the proper learning conditions, which you can neither provide nor understand, you will become an excellent learner and an excellent teacher. But it is not so yet, and will not be so until the whole learning situation as you have set it up is reversed.Your learning potential, properly understood, is limitless because it will lead you to God. You can teach the way to Him and learn it, if you follow the Teacher Who knows the way to Him and understands His curriculum for learning it. The curriculum is totally unambiguous, because the goal is not divided and the means and the end are in complete accord. You need offer only undivided attention. Everything else will be given you. For you really want to learn aright, and nothing can oppose the decision of God's Son. His learning is as unlimited as he is. (ACIM:T-12.V.8:3-9:7)
The Course says:
Now you are being shown you can escape. All that is needed is you look upon the problem as it is, and not the way that you have set it up. How could there be another way to solve a problem that is very simple, but has been obscured by heavy clouds of complication, which were made to keep the problem unresolved? Without the clouds the problem will emerge in all its primitive simplicity. The choice will not be difficult, because the problem is absurd when clearly seen. No one has difficulty making up his mind to let a simple problem be resolved if it is seen as hurting him, and also very easily removed. (ACIM:T-27.VII.2)Let's for a moment do a double take on the Course's story of how we got where we are:
- First there was the oneness of Heaven, God, Spirit, and nothing else, the complete unity of Creator and created, the father and the son.
- Within that unity this "tiny mad idea" (TMI) seemed to arise, which in one of the gnostic myths is designated as "Sofia" (meaning "wisdom," an evident euphemism for the non-overly bright Tiny Mad Idea).
- And Sofia has a son, called Ialdabaoth. He is the creator God of Genesis, and this world, the dualistic world of form is described in the gnostic myth as the "after birth." We are the sons of that God, as portrayed in the Bible with the creation of Adam and Eve, and everything that follows.
- The Course fleshes this sequence out a little further: the Tiny Mad Idea gives rise to the separated mind, which promptly suppresses the memory of Heaven, by repressing the "Right mind," the home of the Holy Spirit, and it identifies with the wrong mind, the ego mind, which is what the Buddhists like to call the "monkey mind," that seemingly never ending hairball of insane thoughts, all driven in the end by sin, guilt and fear.
- This separate ego individuality is driven by guilt, and it projects ("sets up," if you will) a life experience with a past (sin) and a future (which we fear), in order never to have to be present to our unexamined guilt feelings. I has also projected an angry god, and a world and a body, where we think we can escape the vengeance of this god.
- In this individual life we now must make choices, and Ialdabaoth is the paranoid schizophrenic "God" (of this world) that we project, and of whom we are afraid, because we think we killed him in order to gain our individuality. We maintain that guilt by making it seem useful, mostly in the form of "conscience," which properly considered only concerns itself with what is good for the individual, tempered by some cultural rules to prevent total mayhem (such as the golden rule, etc.).
- In short, conscience is nothing but our pledge of allegiance to the ego-god, Ialdabaoth, and by making "conscientious decisions" as the ego would have us believe, we constantly reaffirm our pledge of allegiance to this ego-god. Our "conscience," our guilt, keeps us under the spell of the ego's god, making choices that make the world real, all to prevent that we should ever make the only real choice we have, the choice for the Holy Spirit, for then the ego-charade is up.
- This goes on until we realize it's deja-vu all over again, and we end up looking for "another way," and that is when we are shown as per the quote above: that we can escape by seeing through the setup of meaningless choices between left and right in the world, to make the only choice that can liberate us, for the Holy Spirit instead of the ego.
The Course therefore is indeed amoral in the sense that it teaches that the ego choices, and our "conscience" is irrelevant, which does not mean that it is immoral, for the guidance of the Holy Spirit is sure to have the best interests of all in mind, and guide us to the most loving choices at all times.