Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hellman Explains Course Non Dualism

Robert Hellman Explains Course Non Dualism

Re: Basics Part (8A) Nondualism

[... This essay was posted on Course Talk on April 23, 2003. I have edited it and copied it here with the permission of the writer, my husband ...]

My understanding of the attribute "dualism" when applied to philosophical thought systems, is that the thinker is presenting a view of <reality> that claims that reality consists of two <radically different kinds> of things. The two kinds of things are almost always (1) spiritual or mental and (2) material or physical.
Those who claim that both mind and matter are real are called dualists. Those who claim that only one is real are called monists or non-dualists.
If the monist claims that only idea or mind (or spirit) is real, and matter or the physical is not real, he has traditionally --in the history of Western philosophy -- been called an "idealist", and his position called "idealism". There are different kinds of idealism, for example, those of Berkeley, Hegel, and Bradley.
If the monist or non-dualist claims that only the physical, or matter in some form (including physical energy), is real, and mind or spirit is not real, but is, for example, merely an "epiphenomenon" of matter, then he has traditionally been called a "materialist", and his position called "materialism". There have always been and still are many scientists who are philosophical materialists, and thus non-dualists.

There is no doubt in my mind that if one wishes to describe ACIM from this point of view the Course's thought system is idealistic. The blatant evidence is "everything is an idea." [T-5.I.2:4] And, in other places we read: "you are an idea, God is an idea." From T-15.VI.4:4-5, "That is because you recognize, however dimly, that God is an idea, and so your faith in Him is strengthened by sharing. What you find difficult to accept is the fact that, like your Father, you are an idea." From Lesson 158: ".you are a mind, in Mind and purely mind ." [W-pI.158.1:2]

And since the Course is an idealistic system of thought it is, of course, non-dualistic. It claims that only the spiritual or mental is real, the physical (or material or bodily) is not real. It says, ". life is thought." [W-pI.rI.54.2:3]

Once it is declared that a system is idealistic, one of the first questions that arises is whether there is only numerically <one kind> of spiritual or mental being, or whether there is more than numerically one kind of spirit, mind, or idea. For example, are there "evil spirits" as well as "good spirits", are there finite minds <and> infinite minds, etc.
If one takes the stand that there is only one <kind> of mind or thought that is real, then the question arises whether there is <in number only one> of this one kind of thought or mind. In other words, once you claim that everything (real) is an idea or mind, and there is only <numerically one kind> of thought or mind, the question then is how many of these minds or thoughts are there? Is there an infinite number of this one kind of thing called "Mind" or "Idea" or "Spirit" or "Thought", or is there a finite number of "It", or perhaps only numerically one of "It"?

I will make brief comments here with regard to this issue. I answered in detail all these questions regarding the Course's teaching in chapters 4 and 5 of my recent book.
It seems that there are students of ACIM who claim that the Course teaches that everything in reality is one in nature, or has the same perfect nature, i.e., that there is only <one kind> of thing in reality because everything is the same and equal. However, they would not say that there is only numerically one of this one kind of thing or idea, or mind or thought. It is simply that every one has the same perfect nature that God has because in His creation of them He simply extended His Self, and so His extensions or creations (plural) are perfect like Himself, including the fact that each one can and does create a perfect Son like himself. This process of co-creation is an ongoing process in eternity. It never ends. This results in an unending number of creations or Thoughts.

There are some students, however, who claim that the Course teaches that in reality there are not two or more minds that share the same Thought of what they are, or share the same Self. On the contrary, they claim that there is in number only one single thing, one single Mind, or one single idea, or in number one single Thought. It is <this claim> that they seem to refer to when they say that the Course is "non-dualistic" (rather than applying the term non-dualism to the Course as a whole, which strictly speaking, refers to its <idealism>, which is what constitutes its true and fundamental non-dualism.)

On the other hand, many students feel that they do not understand the entire Course well enough to take a definite stand on this. I know that I personally was not clear on it, or even concerned myself about the distinction between "one in nature" and "one in number", in the earlier years of my working with the Course.

My present position - that the Course teaches that there is <more than one in number> of the same kind of thing in reality - is determined by the hundreds of statements in the Course about creation. Two of these follow: "Creation is the sum of all God's Thoughts, <in number infinite>." [W-pII.11.1:1] "God created beings who have everything individually but who want to share it to increase their joy." [T-4.VII.5:1]

These two sentences, and many more like it, lead me to say that it is a mistake to say that the Course teaches that there is only <numerically one> idea, thought, or mind in reality, in God and His creation. To me, the Course clearly states, over and over, that God has more than numerically one creation. I would guess that there are at least a hundred sentences that state, either explicitly or implicitly, that God has <creations>, plural, and not merely numerically one creation.

In fact, as the sentence I quoted above states, God has an infinite number of creations! They all have the same perfect nature that God has. But there are an unending number of minds that have this same nature or Self. This is one of the meanings of the phrase "God is infinite". If God had only numerically one creation, the sentence above would read: Creation is the sum of all God's Thoughts, "in number finite". Namely, "in number one". But it doesn't say that. It says, "Creation is the sum of all God's Thoughts <in number> infinite".

Thus the term non-dualism, as applied to the Course does not mean that there is only numerically one thing, or idea, or mind, or thought in reality. Non-dualism when it is correctly applied to this Course refers to its teaching that <only the spiritual or mental is real>, and the physical, material, bodily is not real. This is contrasted with many dualistic thought systems, including traditional Christianity, which claim that both the mind and the body are real.

Love, Robert(Hellman) Yours in Christ

About the author:  Robert J. Hellmann has a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in theology from Xavier University.  He and his wife have been dedicated students of A Course in Miracles since 1982.  Since 1991, Robert has conducted hundreds of classes and seminars intended to help fellow students in their understanding and application of the Course's teachings.  He is known for the clarity with which he can express profound philosophical and theological concepts, making it easy for the ordinary reader to understand.  He has one daughter and lives with his wife in Norfolk, Virginia.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Being a Soul in the Elder Sonship [Summary]

Being a Soul in the Elder Sonship - A dialog

Student A: If Creation is wired the way that error is an option, its not eternal Creation, and its not of God. There seems to be the oxymoron of a tiny 'mad idea creeping into eternity'. (How can perfect Creations conceive of something less and mis-create?)

Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny mad idea at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea and possible of both accomplishment and real effects. Together, we can laugh them both away and understand that time cannot intrude upon eternity.” (OrEd.Tx.27.79)

Student B: You'll probably hate this answer, but I put it out for your consideration anyway. I think God had complete freedom to be stark, raving mad had He chosen to be. But why would He? Instead, I think He chose to be absolute love, the highest kind of communication raised to the highest degree, and eternally fixed as that and nothing else. By doing this, He made Himself totally and unshakably sane, and He made the Souls He created unshakably sane also. But He was left with no understanding of insanity--His mind simply cannot even consider insanity. Hence, He did not create the Holy Spirit to protect the Sonship from thinking of separation in the "is creating" part, the part which has the freedom to consider anything at all, except as a response to an actual block in communication. God, in other words, could not protect us from thinking of the opposite of good because He can't--He chose to make that impossible. Complete creative freedom meant that we could. The Holy Spirit was created in such a way that he can't either, but his primary function is not creation. Angels, where ever they came from, are protective rather than creative also.

The bottom line is that since God literally cannot conceive of evil, He could not protect us except as a response.

Student C: I don’t understand how Student A thinks that error is not an option for creation since we all obviously did make some temporary (not eternal error).

Student B: I don't think error is an option for creation, but I don't think what we are experiencing is creation. Error cannot be an option for creation because what is created is an idea in the mind of God. But the Course tells us we should not confuse "what has been created with what is being created." (OrEd.Tx.3.5) This is a distinction of key importance. The world we see and experience has not been created, it's being considered. It is being created, but someone got the bright idea of projecting some of ourself into what is being created. Since it's not an idea in the mind of God, that means we can experience what is outside of that mind, and be in some sense independent and self-creating. The trouble is, having done that we discover it is an idea with problems, and that was inevitable because the bright idea arose as a false solution to fear.

Student A: If error is an option of Creation/Co-Creation/Expansion we're left with an infinite potential for more error. I think that's the ego's dream, but not what ACIM teaches. What am I missing here?

Student B: Two things:

(1) Error is not and cannot be an option for creation. It can be considered and believed in, but not created.

(2) Error can be protected against only by something which is immune from error, but understands what it is. That something is the Holy Spirit, which only arose as a response to error since God cannot conceive of error and so did not protect the Elder Sonship, the first Souls directly created, from error. The rest of the Sonship always has the protection of the Holy Spirit, which is the eternal function of the Holy Spirit.

[See: “When the Atonement is complete and the whole Sonship is healed, there will be no call to return, but what God creates is eternal. The Holy Spirit will remain with the Sons of God to bless their creations and keep them in the light of joy.” (OrEd.Tx.5.20) ]

Student A: You seem to be saying God gave His Creation more Freedom than Himself, the ability to mis-create?

Student B: No, I'm saying God defined Himself to be incapable of mis-creation. He could have chosen to be insane, but instead chose to be rock-solid sane, incapable of ever thinking an insane thought. But He had that potential before so defining Himself.

Student A: Very very interesting. So the "Elder Sonship" is kind of a beta version, and God had to take the bugs out of the software.

Student B: I don't know that I like the idea of being part of a beta release, but we are told both that the Holy Spirit was created as a response to the separation, and that he keeps our creations protected. Still, isn't being a Soul in the Elder Sonship kind of cool?

Student C: My understanding wasn't that we WANTED to be insane. It was the consequence, however, of our dissociation.

Student B: And our dissociation was a consequence of terror, induced by the shock of God vetoing a request. This raised the question of whether God was something other than love, giving rise to fear, love's opposite.

Urtext (numbered re-typing ur-typescript 2337-2338): "You who believe that God is fear made but ONE substitution. It has taken many forms, because it was the substitution of fragmentation for wholeness. It has become splintered and subdivided and divided again, over and over, that it is now almost impossible to perceive it once was one, and still IS what it was. That ONE error, which brought truth to illusion, infinity to time, and life to death, was all you ever made. Your whole world rests upon it. Everything you see reflects it. And every special relationship which you have ever made is PART of it. You have expressed surprise at hearing how VERY different is reality from what YOU see. You do not realize the magnitude of that ONE error. It was so vast and so COMPLETELY incredible, that from it, a world of total unreality HAD to emerge. What else COULD come of it? Its fragmented ASPECTS are fearful enough, as you begin to LOOK at them. But nothing you have seen BEGINS to show you the enormity of the ORIGINAL error, which seemed to cast you out of Heaven, to shatter knowledge into meaningless bits of disunited perceptions, and TO FORCE YOU TO FURTHER SUBSTITUTIONS.
Call it not sin, but madness, for such it was, and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished IN REALITY. And, above all, BE NOT AFRAID OF IT. When you seem to see some twisted form of the original error rise to frighten you, say only, 'God is NOT fear, but love,' and it will disappear."

Student D: The way your comment reads to me, is that you are a member of that Elder Sonship. Is that correct? If so, may I ask you, how do you know?

Student B:

(1) Because the Holy Spirit arose as a response to the separation I am involved in.

(2) Because the Holy Spirit will protect my creations from falling into error, but did not so protect me.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Course Non Dualism: The metaphysics without a metaphysical problem

A Dialogue - Course Non Dualism: The metaphysics without a metaphysical problem
Student A:  'It would seem to me that the course is saying you need more than one to communicate. If you want to call that duality, that is your choice.'

Student B: 'The most obvious problem with any type of non dualism,  is by asserting God is all that real, then logically speaking there are :

1) No problems


2) No problems which are not God's problems.

As such and it should be clear, that if there is a "belief in individuality," then this belief must be God's beliefs or God's creation or God's miscreation.
After all, what sense does it make to say an illusionary individual which cannot and does not exist believes it is an individual and does exist?
If this is all emerging as Maya in the One Mind, then if it is a problem at all, it must be the problem of One Mind and not the problem of an imaginary, non-existent individual.

As such how does a teaching of Atonement as mental healing predicated on personal responsibility and free will apply to God, who one must assume establishes what is Reality and what is Maya?
God needs his mind healed? Since when?

But somehow an illusionary individual needs to some how to heal/Atone a non existent illusionary mind of a non existent individual?

I think what should be obvious is in most articulations of course non dualism, what one finds is a clumsy and dumb conflation of Atonement as prescriptive answer to a metaphysical problem based on the assumption of individuality and free will mixed up with a teaching of enlightenment where only God is real, and there is no problem, or if there is somehow a problem, then its God's problem.'

Student C: 'God's son exists as an extension.  I think Course students understand this.  Just like the comparison Jesus makes that we are sunbeams that THINK we are separate from the Sun.  I think that's pretty simple to understand.  Whether you believe this is called or dual or non-dual depends on what definition you choose from.'

Student B: 'That's right. The problem here is largely semantically. In other words, first and most obviously its a language problem.

People wish to argue multiple and very different definitions and meaning for the word symbol, "non dual," then wonder why its a free for all, chaotic mud slinging contest of vested interests.
Often people involved in New Age are oblivious that there is an academic discipline generally part of any university anywhere in the world, call philosophy and that for the last 100 or so years has been actively engaged in solving these types of problems of language.

Trust me. A problem of definition is a very simple language problem. Define your terms. Over time refine your initial definition. Then you may have the have a chance of saying something meaningful that might pass a college freshman English class without appealing to butterflies and rainbows.
Its weak thinking seeking a compromise of convenience without addressing the heart of the problem which is few in this exercise in Monkey Brain metaphysics want to define what they mean when they use the term, "non dualism."

As far as I'm concerned refusal to concisely define a term in an alleged philosophical discussion is like watching a bunch of squabbling people trying to wire a building for electricity without any license or qualification in electrical work and no knowledge of electricity other than it makes things works and can shock the hell out of you. Its hardly a surprise in such an endeavor nothing works and the building is smoldering and will soon burn down.

If [Course commentators in a "non-dualism' framework] would have done their due diligence in researching what is meant by non dualism, then the dumb assumption that all non dualism must somehow be Advaita Vendanta and therefore ACIM must be a type of Advaita Vendanta, would have not have been assumed --and whether Course metaphysics, as non dualism, is closer to Vishishtadvaita Vedanta would have been addressed.

Can you address this? Have you ever heard of Vishishtadvaita Vedanta? What about [those commentators] ? Hell no.

That's because people wish to use the term non dualism as a catch all, buzz term, without the slightest indication that the term has different meanings, connotations and has not one, but several schools of thought.
Non dualism in an Advaita sense doesn't make rational sense. In other words, you can't explain it, without the explanation contradicting itself in nearly every word.

Instead it makes sense, phenomenologically.  What does that mean?

It means when one closes eyes and examines the inner world, the mind-scape, then certain things can be allegedly known and articulated.

The essential notion is what is called "awareness," is what is constant, eternal, and irreducible. Its also assumed this awareness is Self and often this Self is "God."

As far as I can understand the various claims --communication is NOT a recognized, authentic and eternal part of what is being called here --"awareness."

Why is that? Because communication implies multiplicity of real beings, all with their own "awareness." As such multiplicity of beings each with awareness, contradicts or make uncertain the notion that the immediate phenomenological experience of "awareness" is in fact constant, eternal, irreducible and without source.

As such communication based on multiplicity of beings is rejected on the principle of "not two," which is the operative principle and methodology for distinguishing reality (awareness) from illusion (multiplicity or duality).

In One Mindedness, the inner mind scape is not simply awareness but awareness predicated on real, authentic communication between creator, brothers, and creations --all real beings.'

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

DIALOGUE On Lessons 1-4, radical uncertainty and The Dragon.

 On Lessons 1-4, radical uncertainty and The Dragon.
A recent dialogue from our studygroup:
STUDENT A: To be sure, Lessons 1, 2,3 question the notion of "direct experience," and show that one is supplying all meaning to direct, empirical experience.
1. Nothing I see in this room ....... means anything.
2. I have given everything I see...... all the meaning that it has for me.
3. I do not understand anything I see.
4. These thoughts do not mean anything.
It should be also clear we are also giving meaning to all direct experiences of what is alleged to be direct experiences of such things termed as "ego,"  Christ, "God," "Sonship," "Oneness."
This is self evident in the sense, the "direct experience," allegedly beyond concepts and beyond judgment, are put into to word and concepts or given meaning. Given meaning certainly implies both judgment and concepts.
In addition, while "direct experience," can give confidence as a steadfast source of truth, its also obvious that the direct experience of say a Christian Heaven, with angels and streets of gold by a Christian, is clearly not evidence to everyone, not even all Christians, that Heaven is paved in streets of gold.
In the same way, large doses of morphine reportedly often produces an ego-less state of non-boundaries. Whether this ego less state is later described as a side effect of morphine or as an experience of Oneness is clearly a process of giving meaning and significance to the direct experience, which in turn clearly gives meaning to any "truth," extracted from the experience and expressed in words and concepts.
However in ACIM all expressed thoughts extracted from alleged "direct experience," are subject to lesson 4: these thoughts do not mean anything.
Which to many obviously applies the direct experience of  a Christian heaven by a Christian expressing the thought of a Christian Heaven, but not acceptable to many who claim a direct experience of God or Oneness and wish to similarly express a thought or concept about this experience. In this sense, the students' expressed thoughts about Oneness are as meaningless as a Christian Heaven.
To be sure, what is being described here is a system of self-referencing thoughts/language creating a intractable condition of radical uncertainty --in other words, there is no condition including direct experience which cannot be subjected to deconstruction, radical analysis and reductionism to be rendered meaningless. In other words, what is described is a thought system of fear whose purpose is to render reality meaningless, and demonstrate itself real by both making the real, unreal and suspect, while not subjecting itself to its own deconstruction.
Again and to be sure what is being describe is intractable in the sense, that all obvious and common spiritual and religious tactics and strategies for transcending and establishing what is real, or "center and origin," are self-referencing and only entrench the thought system of radical uncertainty. To me the point of lesson four is to demonstrate a self referencing loop of ultimate meaninglessness.
If one reads the author closely there is a way out which is not itself rendered meaningless by lesson 4. But this way out of a self-referencing thought system has little to do with the common tactics and strategies of spirituality and religion which for the most part are conducted as teaching discourse, or exploiting various self-referencing paradoxes of the thought system, as an alleged tactic for transcending the thought system whose purpose in radical uncertainty, into question. A tactic which clearly only reinforces radical uncertainty and perpetuates the thought system of fear/lack/uncertainty.
STUDENT B: As I understand the ACIM wb, the first half is to clear the mind of thoughts that get in the way of healing and the second half is to fill it with thoughts that help with healing.
STUDENT A:  Fair enough. Now if you wished to hold a thought, such as "God is love," how would you know this is a meaningful thought which could helpful healing the mind, and not a meaningless thought by apply lesson 4?
 Isn't it obvious that truth is being associated with meaning? Furthermore a meaning which is not arbitrary and does not change? Moreover, isn't it clear that we cannot establish a meaning which is not arbitrary and cannot change? How exactly could you do that?
 As such "God is love," is a meaningless thought unless its meaning is first established outside a thought/language system incapable of establishing anything but arbitrary, constantly changing meaning.
 What this indicates is "meaning," is contextual. Something which is established as unchanging operates as a reference point, origin and source. Conversely, without source or origin  all is discourse-- or self referencing words generating a linguistic reality where meaning is constantly morphing and changing.
It is obvious that people give all meaning to so called religious/spiritual experiences in the same way they give meaning to what they see, and what they think. Given meaning is "meaning" which is arbitrary and changes. As such, lesson 4 applies.
STUDENT C:That's what is meant by it can't actually be shared, John. Every individual has at least a slightly different perspective of shared experience
STUDENT A: The reason one has different perspectives is different people are supplying different  meanings to experience. Clearly to the extent people supply arbitrary meaning then any shared agreement is but an agreement about shared meaningless under the illusion the sharing establishes meaning. Again lesson 4 applies.
STUDENT C: We can't do that with personal experience. We can only communicate it verbally and either accept or reject it.
STUDENT A: Again, one gives all meaning to private,  personal, mystical or spiritual experiences.
STUDENT D: The types of "experiences" I know of that the Course esteems:
 1. Revelatory experiences;
 2. Miraculous experiences;
 3. Visionary experiences;
 4. Holy Encounters;
 5. Holy Instants, and;
 6. Prayer.
STUDENT A: What I think is these above experiences are highly personal, and clearly mean nothing if there is no personal self -ie, soul/individual spirit,  As such they can only be a demonstration of the soul.
Furthermore, like miracles, such experience are not to be used to inlicit belief in one's personal power and spiritual authority.
 Let's step back and talk in broad terms. Wouldn't you agree that one of the most important characteristics of course study is competing, often mutually exclusive interpretations of the source material?
Second point: Isn't interpretation of the source material a process of giving meaning to ideas offered by the author?
Question then ---does the course material itself offer the solution and resolution for conflicting and mutually exclusive interpretation?
STUNDENT B : I would say that it does but I would say that the process it offers is a process of getting rid of ego obstacles to understanding the meaning its Author
STUDENT A:  Okay. Now is an interpretation of solipsism a clear demonstration of a meaningless world made meaningfully by supplying the meaning of "Oneness."?
Or conversely, is the interpretation of "other," ie, Father, Son, creation, individuality, etc, meaningful only because the ego is supply the meaning of these terms?
How is this resolved?
One resolute move is to subject all interpretations to lesson 4. In other words, all interpretations are meaningless.
Now don't panic. And don't prematurely attempt to  force meaning on the meaningless by various means.
Ask yourself if we have found one certainty --that all interpretation of ACIM are meaningless?
Remember we can always argue that even this certainty is meaningless but only at the expense of perpetuating over all uncertainty.
Now ground yourself. Isn't this your intuition that all course interpretation, including your own are at best lacking or incomplete?
STUDENT C: I would say the Holy Spirit gives the correct interpretation to each student depending on where they are at that moment.
STUDENT A: I'd say that assumes a lot. The Holy Spirit is not necessarily involved with everyone who describes himself as a course student. Moreover and clearly, the Holy Spirit is not necessarily involved even with those who claim guidance from the Holy Spirit.
Moreover the notion of an "interpretation," means giving meaning to words/ideas given meaning by the author which by virtue of interpretation must assume the author's meaning is the object of study and hence the only meaning important.
This contrasts with the notion of text as a tabla rasa --or "blank slate," where interpretation means projection of meaning on words and ideas, where the reader is in competition with the author for the meaning of the text.
In either case, the mind is uncertain and is estranged from the meaning given by the author.
That said --clearly the correct way to study and apply ACIM is by direct guidance from the Holy Spirit. This solves the practical problem of clarity if not complete certainty of interpretation for some students but not all.
However this does not solve the practical problem of competing and often mutual exclusive interpretations all supported by claims of guidance from the Holy Spirit, which confuse students before they establish direct guidance from the Holy Spirit, if they ever do.
STUDENT B: Ok, you are asking how we might resolve two very contradictory understandings of ACIM and asserting that one method we might try is to take these interpretation and remind ourselves of an early workbook lesson designed to undo our existing way of thinking at the time when we first do the workbook, namely the lesson: These thoughts do not mean anything. If we use this lesson, you state, the one certainty we might arrive at is that any and all interpretations of ACIM are meaningless. Further, you note that we cannot really argue that this single miserable little certainty we now have is itself meaningless because doing so would perpetuate our general level of uncertainty. I am not sure how you argue that because our thoughts are ALL meaningless or they are not ALL meaningless and if the certainty we have arrived at (no matter how stingy a certainty it may be) is not meaningless, then the idea that all our thoughts are meaningless must be false. Moving on, yes, it is my intuition that all course interpretations, including my own, are incomplete. Nonetheless, it is also my intuition that some interpretations are way more complete and accurate than others.
STUDENT A:  Not false --but meaningless. Yes, all thoughts (which are not our true thoughts) are meaningless. False and meaningless are not the same notion.
Meaningless not in the sense these thoughts of which one is aware are not given an arbitrary, changing meaning, but rather meaningless in the sense that the meaning given, is arbitrary and changing.
Now back to the concrete. This tracks with what we observe. Indeed words and ideas offered by the author are give arbitrary and changing meaning by the reader/student/interpretor.
You cannot honestly deny you do this in interpretation, nor deny Wapnick, Renard, Perry, etc also do this.
In other words, we are clearly defining and giving meaning to thoughts/ideas/concepts such as "God," "Son of God," "communication," "Oneness," "love," etc, by our own admittedly limited understanding.
The notion here is "interpretation" is a process of the mind in the condition of uncertainty, ie perception. We cannot therefore claim that the product of interpretation, in this case interpretation of text produces a condition of certainty --or the condition of knowledge/One Mindedness --rather we are forced to admit any interpretation of ACIM is arbitrary, and changes, thus uncertain, and thus meaningless.
The value here of applying the first few workbook lessons is it punctures inflated ego certainty over interpretation.  It would seem to me Renard would have been better off, if he had applied lesson  1 when he first saw Arten and Pursha as objects in his living room.  In other words, nothing in this room means anything.
Similarly, it would seem wiser if Wapnick had applied the first few lessons when he reasoned that the author could not be Jesus but unconditional love given the form of Jesus by Helen's mind. After all this move is a blatant supplying of meaning to text.
Again and similarly, rendering meaningless by lesson 4 punctures inflated ego certainty of students like Carrie who wish to present with all certainty that "no one else is there," and "I don't exist," which clearly pushes any envelope of meaning and which she can't begin to explain without it being obvious that she is at every point supplying  her own meaning to interpretations of interpretations.
So yes, I'm willing to say in all the above cases, by lesson 4, these thoughts do not mean anything. Consequently, these interpretations are meaningless and all conclusions drawn from these interpretations are meaningless, even at the expense of rendering ALL interpretation of ACIM meaningless for the same reason.
The value in this move is that again, it deflates ego certainty, high lights and emphasizes the intractable uncertainty of the mind in the grip of perception, and calls into question the prevailing assumption of typical religion and spirituality that this intractable uncertainty can be remedied by "correct interpretation,"or a correction from the up -down, rather than from the bottom (or foundation) up.
To be sure this move must generate an awareness of the condition of radical uncertainty.
Which is a good thing. Its honest. Moreover, by its acceptance leaves open the door to question at a deeper level, if one desires certainty as  a value, in other words, truth as a value, how can one attain certainty from a condition of radical uncertainty?  In other words, if in fact there is a condition of unchanging meaning --ie, unchanging, absolute truth --how do we discern the meaningful from the meaningless?
STUDENT B:  But you are holding that the statement "my thoughts are meaningless,’ (LESSON 4) is not meaningless but a useful understanding that can be applied to help people better grasp that there is a certain inherent uncertainty about their interpretations of ACIM. (And God knows something like that appears to be needed!)
STUDENT A:  Yes, exactly. Not only a "certain inherent uncertainty," but rather a radical, largely intractable uncertainty.
STUDENT B: So if the statement is not meaningless, then it is a meaningful claim which is to say that it is of a thought system where truth and falsity can be determined and have meaning.
STUDENT A:  Exactly. The statement is a meta comment about thinking. In other words, a comment not from within the thought system of ego/perception, but rather from a thought system (One Mindedness) outside the ego/perception thought system, where truth and falsity can be determined because the thought system was established by God through laws.
 As such the comment is about authority to establish reality/truth/meaning, and the mind's conflict over true authority at the expense of not attaining authority and autonomy but a meaningless world, that it would not want if it were in its "right mind." Hence all ideas we hold within and depending on the context of the ego thought system are meaningless in relationship to the thought system of One Mindedness. And that is demonstrated by the ego's thought system to provide anything but temporary, arbitrary and always changing meaning for its own thoughts.
STUDENT C: Unfortunately, I have seen too many students take the ball tossed to them via Lesson 4 and try to run with it all the way down the field, doubting that they can know a damn thing. They put all their trust in Doubt as if it is God.
STUDENT A: Exactly.  Now consider the spirit of deconstruction, extreme analysis, unrestrained reductionism, and radical doubt as the power of "the dragon". The dragon's power competes with God over authorship of reality. Hell the power can even deconstruct God. It can deconstruct reality and reassemble reality in to any constellation of meaning of its choosing. Unrestrained, the power of the dragon must lead to a condition of radical doubt and uncertainty.
 In this sense, in the beginning lessons, the author is using the power of the dragon against itself. In other words, rightly deconstructing the deceiver and would be destroyer of God's reality. The dragon doesn't like someone riding the dragon.
STUDENT C: Aha! I actually (and finally) understand!
STUDENT A: Now take the statement, "I don't exist," or "No one else is there."
Are these quintessential dragon statements?
If you don't know or are indecisive or unsure. You will be eaten by the dragon.
Its hard to destroy the dragon when you are in the belly of the beast. And most of us are in the belly of the beast.
So what is it? Are you God by virtue of no one else being there, and you are resisting God-hood because your own ego-dragon resists giving up up the world, bodies, individuality, and  personal existence?
Or is this a seduction statement of the dragon seducing you as the "only one there," while promising you the authority of God to establish reality.
You have exactly 20 seconds to decide before the dragon eats you or you thwart the dragon.
The seconds are ticking, one, two, three, four . . ... .

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Meta-Metaphysics of ACIM & the linguistic dilemma

From our studygroup, May 14th 2011

Meta-Metaphysics of ACIM & the linguistic dilemma

"Much of Course commentary posted on the Net is so full of elementary philosophical errors, its almost a joke.

Moreover, it should be an indication in order not to spew meaningless platitudes its first necessary to have a thesis statement, synopsis, or abstract of the overall paradigm you are purposing and advancing and wish to hang your individual notions and concepts.

Why? Basic linguistic philosophy. Words are meaningless symbols pointing to other words without a reference. You can't begin to have a reference without an overall paradigm. And even with a paradigm there is no demonstration that a word symbol like "God," is "pointing to," anything but other words.

After all in language to give the word symbol "God," meaning it has to be described in other words. There is no indication in any practical manner that the word symbol "God," points to anything but other words. As such "God," as Derrida says is not reality, but a "linguistic dilemma," where "reality" itself is a linguistic dilemma.

In fact, Derrida would say the notion of personal self is a linguistic dilemma. In other words, we interact with symbols not reality, and even what is claimed  to interact --personal self- or even God self or consciousness doesn't exist, and as such all is discourse.

Nor does "direct experience," resolve the situation. An "Experience of Oneness," is suspect not only because both personal self AND God self are illusionary and linguistic dilemmas, but clearly the experience is described in terms of arbitrary word symbols which in turn give the illusion of meaning to the experience. In other words, this "experience" described as of Oneness or direct experience of God can just as easily and and with as much meaning be described as a "hormonal rush," or  a "side effect of certain chemical imbalance of the body."

In other words, another linguistic dilemma in a closed loop system of language.

To be sure, there is no claim here that anything written above is anything but total philosophic bs. Which is the point. Its all total philosophic bs, including what you write, and Renard writes and Wapnick writes and even Jesus writes because its a closed language system with words just pointing to other words.

The second point is all metaphysics involves DECONSTRUCTING apparent reality into new constellations of meaning and this must be and can only be a linguistic process of symbol manipulation and as such is subject to the constraints and paradoxes sited by philosophers like Derrida.

The third point. All deconstruction of apparent reality is fraught with danger and ambiguity, paradox, lies and deceits. After all and clearly, the so called personal self contemplating its own non existence and deconstruction, is in no way either destroying itself or deconstructing itself and personal self or ego remains intact and the same after such contemplations.

Fourth point: Once deconstruction of reality or apparent reality begins and is accepted then there is no end to deconstruction. New constellations of meaning can be deconstruction as easily as the old, and alleged irreducible, indestructible linguistic constructs such as "God Self," or "Reality," are themselves subject to analysis, reductionism and a breaking into component parts. This bottomless pit of unrestrained deconstruction of  idea constructs is what  I believe is what is meant  by the  "mad idea."   And clearly  "God as an idea," can  be  deconstructed.

In other words and clearly the typical ways and method of doing or articulating religion and metaphysics is stuck in the uncertainty and paradox of whether reality can or should be deconstructed.

As such one can say glibly, that "real" Reality cannot be deconstructed, destroyed or analyzed, reduced or broken into component parts, but this obscure and denies this is what we are doing in religion, spirituality and metaphysics, and consequently "Reality," has a self referencing definition of what cannot be deconstructed, which  is in turn can be rendered or demonstrated as "Unreal," by the "mad idea" of deconstruction of any proposed candidate or condition we call "Reality."

As such and clearly, "God Self," can be deconstructed as easily as "ego self." because deconstruction is a linguistic process manipulating  word symbols pointing to other words symbols and consequently producing not truth (another word symbol) but linguistic dilemmas. In other words and clearly we are NOT deconstructing reality through our metaphysical belief and "truths." In fact we don't even know if there is any 'reality,: beyond words symbols, and if there is any "truth," the truth is in the end, we don't know what the hell we are doing. Which accurately describes the condition of uncertainty and lack of communication inherent in the condition of perception.

Fifth and finial point. In consideration that nearly all course student realize or suspect that the endless manipulation of word symbols of ACIM by so called teachers and "enlightened" commentators is a Tower of Babel of bullshit, contradiction, ego inflation and ego agenda, a humbleness of inflated ego certainty is demanded.

In other words, we don't know, are totally confused, while any honesty or self reflecting reveals the horror of the bottomless pit of uncertainty and isolation caused by our need, desire and first instinct to deconstruct  reality to our fit our whims and desires. Which is exactly what we did and what was done when we applied deconstructive methodology and thinking  to the offered course material.

What we did was confuse a linguistic process where reality and any Reality can be deconstructed to uncertainty and paradox with an ontological Reality which (we are taught) cannot be deconstructed.

As such the author, Jesus did not leave us in a lurch, or an unresolvable  paradox predicated on misuse of unlimited creative power. Instead he addresses all the above philosophical concerns and leads us out of a self-referencing, closed linguistic universe which grips the mind in perception (not duality.) 

 If read closely, the author's methods have nothing to do with deconstructing reality. The point here is ACIM is clearly not metaphysics but meta-metaphysics."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dear J,

I am more than happy to explain why I, among many students, have a strong
objection to Dr Wapnick's Course-alien "non-dualism" reductionism.

Let us start at the center of his conclusion. From Lighthouse Article, June

"This means that though we speak of one God and His one Son, in truth there
is only the One. Even the Trinity-Father, Son (Christ), and Holy Spirit-is a
set of symbols, for there is no differentiation or distinction within the
Godhead of truth." ~Ken Wapnick

Which is completely and 180 degree opposed to Jesus' teaching in every
version of the Course.

1. The Godhead is Trinitarian, and describes a irreducible relationship of

2. Without the necessary distinction of Creator and Sonship, and while
reducing everything to "only God", the Atonement principle is rendered
impotent (in theory of course).

3. The necessary distinction between Creator, Creation and reciprocal
Communication is central in the Course. Without it, you end up with a
sleeping, crazy God, Who dreams of separation and must awake Himself through
non-existing dream shadows, who will eventually vanish into the nothingness
they came from.

Wapnick, in his redaction, ie. erased approx. 130 instances of "Soul" as a
so-called ' controversial term', which is emblematic for his denial of the
Sonship as a collective. Clearly and without a doubt, Jesus describes the
Sonship as the transcended sum of all God-created minds/Souls, in which
every part contains the Whole, while the Whole transcends the sum of its

Jesus' Oneness is by all means a "Oneness of irreducible Relationship", and
not a " oneness of a thing", like a number 1 without any form of
relationship. What Wapnick and other "non-dualists" attempt to do is solve
the dilemma, which their egos cannot understand, by reducing everything to
"only God." This brings along a variety of problems, and is in fact the
declaration of total separation from Source - the dream of every ego.

On a personal level, I owe Ken only gratitude and friendship, as he was
instrumental in introducing me to Jesus, who is as real and as alive as you
and I. Although this is a matter of faith, I have collected evidence and
experience of his presence, authorship and literal, personal guidance, as
the instructor of the Course, and as someone who is not deceiving us in his
many statements about his indisputable Identity.

IOW, Wapnick's Course-alien non-dualism opposes every basic principle that
underlies the metaphysical and philosophical superior thoughtsystem of
Christ Jesus in the Course. In non-dualism, there is no place at all for
Holiness, and also not for sharing, expansion, and irreducible Cause-Effect
relationship. That is why students can become very confused and are
misguided by such reductionist monism forced upon the authentic teachings of
Jesus. Moreover, with Christ and Holy Spirit, and the Trinity as "merely a
set of symbols" the authority problem is actually not solved, but

Here are some relevant quotes (from the 2nd Edition):

T-4.VII.5. "God, Who encompasses all being, created beings who have
everything individually, but who want to share it to increase their joy. 2
Nothing real can be increased except by sharing. 3 That is why God created
you. 4 Divine Abstraction takes joy in sharing. 5 That is what creation

T-4.VII.3. In contrast, [the Soul] reacts in the same way to everything it
knows is true, and does not respond at all to anything else. 2 Nor does it
make any attempt to establish what is true. 3 It knows that what is true is
everything that God created. 4 It is in complete and direct communication
with every aspect of creation, because it is in complete and direct
communication with its Creator. 5 This communication is the Will of God. 6
Creation and communication are synonymous. 7 God created every mind by
communicating His Mind to it, thus establishing it forever as a channel for
the reception of His Mind and Will. 8 Since only beings of a like order can
truly communicate, His creations naturally communicate with Him and like

Please also see this essential description of the "holographic" nature (in lack of better words) of the "part as whole, and of the whole in every part" <emphasis mine>

ACIM 2nd edition:

T-16.II.3. To you the miracle cannot seem natural, because what you have done to hurt your mind has made it so unnatural that it does not remember what is natural to it. 2 And when you are told what is natural, you cannot understand it. 3 The recognition of the part as whole, and of the whole in every part is perfectly natural, for it is the way God thinks, and what is natural to Him is natural to you. 4 Wholly natural perception would show you instantly that order of difficulty in miracles is quite impossible, for it involves a contradiction of what miracles mean. 5 And if you could understand their meaning, their attributes could hardly cause you perplexity.

 T-16.II.4. You have done miracles, but it is quite apparent that you have not done them alone. 2 You have succeeded whenever you have reached another mind and joined with it. 3 When two minds join as one and share one idea equally, the first link in the awareness of the Sonship as One has been made. 4 When you have made this joining as the Holy Spirit bids you, and have offered it to Him to use as He sees fit, His natural perception of your gift enables Him to understand it, and you to use His understanding on your behalf. 5 It is impossible to convince you of the reality of what has clearly been accomplished through your willingness while you believe that you must understand it or else it is not real. T-16.II.5. How can faith in reality be yours while you are bent on making it unreal?

>>... as I was on discovering there was no hundredth monkey. <<

Now, I surely trust and have faith that Jesus' teaching in the Course, and
the future he predicts for us, will prove you wrong on this point, dear.
IMO, the hundredth monkey effect is described in the early text as a
"sufficient number":

Original Edition, The Meaning of the Last Judgment: [...] Just as the separation occurred over many millions of years, the Last Judgment will extend over a similarly long period, and perhaps an even longer one. Its length depends, however, on the effectiveness of the present speed-up. We have frequently noted that the miracle is a device for shortening but not abolishing time. If a sufficient number of people become truly miracle-minded quickly, the shortening process can be almost immeasurable. It is essential, however, that these individuals free themselves from fear sooner than would ordinarily be the case, because they must emerge from the conflict if they are to bring peace to other minds."


Monday, February 21, 2011

Atonement is mental healing

Miracles are not contingent on belief and work despite belief and despite beliefs heavily supported by investment and faith. Miracles work by changing fear thoughts to love thoughts, at the causal level, from the bottom up, not the top down. They work despite belief and are in no way contingent on actively, by one's own efforts, changing beliefs. That change in belief is the shift in perception and the consequence of a miracle.
This change or transformation from fear to love works by the law of cause and effect.
In short, if the cause doesn't change then the effect will never change. That is why in Chapter 3, Jesus says he can't correct the fear that we have miscreated, because if messed with the level of effect he'd be violating the most basic and fundamental law of the universe.

In other words, can't do it. No matter how much someone pleas and prays, and demands the effect be changed in "His Name," etc. As long as the person continues to think fear at the causal level the effect has to be FEAR.

However, what can be done consistently and in harmony with the Law of Cause and Effect, is the cause of fear can be changed. In other words, fear is lack of love and the Holy Spirit can supply the love the fear thought lacks thus changing the fear thought to a love thought.
Thus the cause changes and the effect MUST change. The causal level is prior to "belief." Jesus is clear that at this causal level we cannot possible know what fear thoughts need to be changed or how to change them. To think we do from a postion of wrong mindedness is self healing by one's own effort, which is NOT our job, nor within our ability, and is nothing more than interference with the Holy Spirit's job of healing, which could lead to a negation of the miracle. In other words, its the Holy Spirit's job to heal through miracles. Our job is to bring what needs healing to the Holy Spirit and with this little willingness allow healing to occur. Let's take an example of someone with cancer.
The presumption is that its God's will this person be whole and healthy. Jesus shares that presumption, but says even he cannot change the effect level of thinking. The person must be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to change his fear thoughts at the causal level. On the other hand, as healer, what the Holy Spirit heals may have little to do with cancer and maybe not manifest as the cancer cured. The Holy Spirit might decided to heal a fear of death, or the fear of loving, knowing in the grand scheme of things, the person has decided to die and healing the cancer is not important. As such its superficial to analyze illness in terms of belief, where the belief in illness is changed to a belief in health.
Changing beliefs at the level of cause to another belief of one's own choosing is not healing at the causal level and thus not a miracle. In other words there is much more than belief involved and much more than cancer. By the laws of mind one might indeed "heal the cancer," by faith and belief, but by the same laws of mind, if the underlying fear thoughts are not changed at a causal level, then the cancer will return or another illness will manifest, or perhaps a fatal car wreck could end earthly life. The cancer would in this case be healed, a "miracle" claimed, but no miracle occurred. All one did was shift from one belief to another at the level of effect and not deal at all at the causal level.

The idea here is the Holy Spirit is in actual control of the miracle, and what thoughts it corrects and when in time these thoughts are corrected, but certainly one can be an agent of the Holy Spirit and miracles and thus learn to heal as a miracle worker. The second notion from Chapter 4 and 5 is to ask or request healing/correction in the fairly precise and limited parameters described, and then allow the miracle to happen without insisting your further efforts are somehow needed or important for the miracle to work. In this sense the constant request for healing and correction of a problem, or with more precision, how one feels about a problem, violates this principle to allow the allow the miracle to happen and trust the miracle will occur.

The second error or mistake is the defining beforehand what must result from a miracle In other words, defining the cancer as "the problem," rather than the result or the consequence or the manifestation of "the problem," or "a problem," which is always and must be fear thoughts and fear thoughts often not at the conscious level of awareness. By defining cancer as the problem, this clearly interferes with both the miracles ability to heal and correct thought, and in addition, places one in a position not to recognize a "shift in perception," when one is looking for immediate dramatic results of healing.

The third error is equating belief with thinking, instead of belief as a property of, or consequence or condition of thinking. This in turn can lead one to understand a condition of illness, say cancer, is simply a matter of belief that the body can be ill instead of the belief the body can only be healthy, and thus the remedy or miracle is based on changing a negative belief to an alleged positive belief and largely by one's own effort.

This is a highly confusing framework for mental healing. After all, people who believe that they can get ill or could suffer from cancer are nevertheless well and healthy despite that belief, while people who profess to belive that they are not a body and illness is "just a belief," nevertheless can have cancer. In addition, in course metaphysics one cannot change a belief unless the fundamental causal thoughts attendant with that belief are not only "changed," but specifically changed from fear thoughts to love thoughts. Otherwise only the form of the belief changes, and not the result or effect.
Another error here in belief based miracles is it a type of white voodoo, or magical thinking. In other words, in voodoo, if someone filled with superstition and fear actually believes that a Witch doctor can cast an evil spell on him, by the power of the mind and belief, that person could actually begin to waste away and then die. This is similar to investing pills and medicine with the properties to heal. Similarly the person might soon get well once he believes the spell is lifted. So one has to ask how voodoo is any different from belief based healing in certain Christian Churches?

The point here is Course based miraculous healing is not defined by a remission of symptoms, but rather the mind's release from fear. Symptoms can clearly be "healed," while the mind itself is still very much filled with fear.
As such, the type of miracles and methodology and belief/faith theory described and used by charismatic Churches seems very much a hit and miss deal, in the sense sometime what they do seem to work and other times not. And that is because much of this is magic and voodoo, because symptoms are often healed but the mind is still uncorrected and filled with fear.This is not to say the Holy Spirit and Jesus are superstitions and prayer and requests have no effect, rather that the Course teaches a much more precise and accurate and fool-proof method for miracles and mental healing. Indeed, the whole notion of the Atonement is mental healing, not physical healing. When the mind is healed then health as an expression of peace, follows naturally.