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Switch to Forum Live View Continuing from the old board: "What's causal thoughts?"
11 years ago  ::  Oct 16, 2007 - 5:04PM #1
Posts: 51

I'll now try to give a little more complete answer to your questions and comments as they relate to the system of psychology found in A Course in Miracles. First, though, I'd like to make some general statements not specifically directed to your comments. I'll get more specific later.

Basically, the Course is a profoundly, radically different thought system from anything we are familiar with, and it is usually a mistake to try to integrate it with another thought system. The Course fundamentally tells us that what we have taken to be reality is not real and that who and what we take ourselves to be is not real either!

    "What God did not create does not exist.  And everything that does exist exists as He created it.  The world you see has nothing to do with reality. It is of your own making, and it does not exist" (W-pI.14.1:2-5).

    "God did not make the body, because it is destructible, and therefore not of the Kingdom. The body is the symbol of what you think you are. It is clearly a separation device, and therefore does not exist" (T-6.V(A).2:1-3).

Now, the Course is not against anything, it simply does not endorse our conventional beliefs. It is a different thought system, but not one of opposition. However, if one chooses to follow the Course's thought system, then it is best to stay with it and not try to straddle two or more boats. The Course has much in common with some other thought systems, but it is not eclectic as many modern psychotherapists tend to be. The Course does not lend itself to eclecticism. It is unique and whole unto itself: a carefully integrated non-dualistic system of thought that is addressed only to the mind and not the body -- a mind that represents our true identity, which is not located anywhere in time and space (both illusory dimensions of separation) and with which almost all of humanity is unfamiliar and has forgotten:

    "This course will be believed entirely or not at all. For it is wholly true or wholly
    false, and cannot be but partially believed" (T-22.II.7:4-5).

   " 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"

If one carefully considers what I've quoted from the Course so far, it must be apparent that the "you" who is a "mind in Mind and purely mind" cannot possibly be the body or its brain, which is merely an organ of the body. The body with its brain is an illusory symbol of separation which does appear to have left its "Source" -- a fantasy device of the ego thought system which is grounded in the belief in separation; a belief that fosters the ideas of sin, guilt, fear and death.

We are living in a dream of living and we do not realize it! None of the problems within the dream are real problems. The only problem of significance is that we, as mind, believe in separation and take it seriously: i.e., we are completely engulfed in ego identity -- a false identity.

To jump ahead a little bit, let me just say that while the non-dualistic metaphysical principles of the Course are fundamental to understanding its thought system, they are of little use to us who believe that bodies and the world are real -- that we are bodies and separate individuals living with other bodies in the world; not to mention that we take the problems of living in the world with other bodies quite seriously. So, based on its metaphysics, the Course offers us a practical teaching that meets us where we think we are, and then proceeds to lead us out of the illusions in which we believe to the truth of Oneness or non-separation, which the human brain really cannot fully and adequately comprehend. That practical teaching is forgiveness. And forgiveness is a reflection of the Love of God within the dream of separation from the Oneness that is God.

    "Creation [an extension of the Love of God's within the Mind of God] cannot even
    be conceived of in the world. It has no meaning here. Forgiveness is the closest
    it can come to earth. For being Heaven-born, it has no form at all. Yet God
    created One [the Holy Spirit] Who has the power to translate in form the wholly
    formless. What He [the Holy Spirit] makes are dreams, but of a kind so close to
    waking that the light of day already shines in them, and eyes already opening
    behold the joyful sights their offerings contain" (W-pI.192.3; brackets mine).

So what is practical for a psychotherapist dealing with worldly problems is to learn and practice forgiveness. In other words, practice whatever system of psychotherapy works for you, implement whatever ideas seem to help your therapeutic work, but learn to do it all with love (i.e., forgiveness). And that brings us back to that critically important statement found in the Introduction to the ACIM Text:

    "The Course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond
    what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the
    awareness of love's presence, which is your natural inheritance" (T-IN.1:6-7).

Removing the blocks to the awareness in our mind of love's presence (represented by Jesus and the Holy Spirit) is what true healing is about, according to A Course in Miracles. This brings us back not to how to understand the patient, but, as therapists, how first of all to discover our mind and how to access it; and then to understand and remove the blocks in our mind to perceiving our patients through the eyes of love and forgiveness. Whatever techniques or system of therapy we might employ, learn how to practice them with love. (One can say the same of practicing medicine, parenting or garbage collecting.) That is not so simple, because our entire ego identity is dedicated to separation, guilt and fear, as well as to keeping us unaware that we are mind, not to mention unaware of what is involved in being truly loving in this illusory world.

     "Physician, healer, therapist, teacher, heal thyself" (P.3.III.8.1).

     "Who, then, is the therapist, and who is the patient? In the end, everyone is
     both. He who needs healing must heal. Physician, heal thyself. Who else is
    there to heal? And who else is in need of healing?" (P.2.VII.1:1-6

(To be continued with more specific reference to your comments, David -- and once I figure out how to format posts using vB code and/or how to turn on HTML which I do understand. For now, I can't use italics or indentation of quotes, etc.)

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11 years ago  ::  Oct 17, 2007 - 8:01PM #2
Posts: 51
Continuing a reply to your question, David,

You stated:

> In my view, there is much psychology, particularly psychoanalytic/Freudian that
> views the "emotional body" (see the Presence Proces by Michael Brown/web site
> is: the as developing before the "mental" body, that is our
>  "thoughts" as we know them.

The Course does not speak of the "emotional body" or the "mental body," but if it did, it would regard them as no more real or causal than the physical body. And what it means by "mind" is not the same as the so-called "mental body." The thinking that the concept of "mental body" represents is illusory -- not really thinking at all. Perhaps it would help to realize that when a baby is born in our illusory world, it comes into the world as a projection of the same split mind we all share. Thus, it comes into the world with a fully developed ego thought system, having been projected by that thought system in the mind. What appears to be psychological and physical development simply plays out the ego thought system unless somewhere along the line there is a change of mind -- a change of thought systems in the mind as the Course uses the concept of "mind." In truth, all "development" is illusory since time is an illusion born of the belief in separation. The concept of development requires a belief in the reality of time.

Since we believe in the reality of time, change and development, the Course offers us the practical help of learning how to change the thought system in our mind so that we can be parents or psychotherapists or whatever, guided by the Holy Spirit's thought system of love and forgiveness rather than being guided by the ego's thought system of guilt and fear. This requires becoming keen and honest observers of ourselves -- observers of what is going on within. Essentially this means becoming keen and honest observers of the inner life of our ego identity with all its various forms of guilt and fear, often manifested in the form of attack thinking and attempts to project guilt onto someone or something which seems to be other than self, not to mention the entirely self-centered world of our ego identity. Essentially, it is the ego that stands as the block to the awareness of love's presence in our mind. So, when the Course says that it is about "removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence," it is saying that it is about undoing our ego identity -- undoing our investment in the ego thought system. That requires first of all learning to recognize our ego identity in all its many facets and coming to understand just how deeply and pervasively we are identified with the ego, hence think and perceive with the ego and therefore experience the ego reaction of fear and all of its derivative emotions such as depression, anger, hatred, dependency and defensiveness, along with the many ways in which guilt is experienced inwardly such as in feelings of inferiority and inadequacy.

> Let me cut to the chase. In terms of a "healing" paradigm, one stream of thought
> would have us "sit with" or embrace our "feelings" on a body or "emotional" level,
> not try to change them using mental constructs.

This is not too different from the Course's request and invitation that we become observers of our inner life. However, the Course is not talking about "embracing" the ego, but simply looking at it and then learning how to step back from it: "I will step back and let Him lead the way" (W #155). The "Him" we would let lead the way is the Holy Spirit or Jesus -- or however one might symbolize right-mindedness as opposed to the ego's wrong-mindedness. This really involves letting go of our embrace of the ego which is the source of all human unhappiness and conflict. We have embraced the ego thought system of separation, and what stems from that is guilt and fear with all its manifestations. In order for us to be loving and to be at peace, we have to learn how to release ourselves from ego identity. When we are able to do so -- to step back from ego identity -- the Holy Spirit automatically fills the gap.

Forgiveness has three steps: 1) recognizing the ego thought system; 2) recognizing that the ego represents a choice; 3) the Holy Spirit or Jesus replace the ego. The first two steps are our responsibility, while the third is not:

    "The idea for today ["I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts"]  introduces the thought that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed. This change requires, [1] first, that the cause be identified and then [2] let go, so that [3] it can be replaced. The first two steps in this process require your co-operation. The final one does not. Your images have already been replaced. By taking the first two steps, you will see that this is so" (W-pI.23.5).

Again, this is all about the mind and the "you" who can take the steps of forgiveness is us as mind and specifically the Son of God who has the power of choice at the level of mind. We as bodies and personalities in the world cannot take the steps of forgiveness and we do not "do" forgiveness.

>  Michael Brown in the Presence Process (who tries to bring us into the "Now" as
>  Eckert Tolle puts it) emphasizes that much "New Age" thinking (& by that I'm
> assuming he's also referring to the manifesting work of "The Secret," aka The
>  Abraham Material, The Seth Material, etc. etc.) would have us change our
> thoughts in order to change our reality.

This is where it is quite important to understand what the Course means by "thought," "thinking" and "reality" versus what these others, and psychologists in general, mean by those terms. In the Course, reality is not the perceived world, the body, nor the condition in which we find ourselves as bodies. The only reality is Heaven which equates to the Mind of God. What we think of as reality is all illusion. What the Course would have us change is not the illusion itself, but how we *interpret* and therefore react to it, once it has been projected in our mind by the ego. The Holy Spirit and Jesus represent an alternative thought system with which to interpret what has already been projected and perceived in our identification with the ego. The ego speaks first and the Holy Spirit is the Answer.

What we are aware of as thinking is not truly thought:

    "My thoughts do not mean anything [because they come from the ego and the ego is meaningless since it begins with the false idea that separation is true]. This idea applies to all the thoughts of which you are aware, or become aware in the practice periods. The reason the idea is applicable to all of them is that they are not your real thoughts. We have made this distinction before, and will do so again. You have no basis for comparison as yet. When you do, you will have no doubt that what you once believed were your thoughts did not mean anything...Now we are emphasizing that the presence of these 'thoughts' means that you are not thinking. This is merely another way of repeating our earlier statement that your mind is really a blank. To recognize this is to recognize nothingness when you think you see it" (W-pI.10.1; 3:2-3).

I will help a great deal, though it may seem personally insulting, to take these words personally and not to assume that because one has an advanced university degree and is a practicing therapist that one is really beyond them -- "they don't really apply to me." They DO apply to all of us who seem to be here in the world.

> Esther Hicks in "Ask & It Is Given" channels that we need to consciously raise our
> vibrational level when we are anything less than joyful to the highest vibration we
> can reach for. We do this using our thoughts or imagination (and sometimes
> meditation or the like).

This approach is not the approach of the Course, which does not talk about "vibrational levels." However it is similar in the sense that when we become aware of being unhappy that is a signal that we have once again identified with the ego AT THE LEVEL OF MIND and are allowing ourselves to perceive and think with the ego. That's the first step in forgiveness. Then we, as mind, can remember that the ego is a choice we have made and one we can release -- second step. But the Course is not about "creating our own reality" in the sense that New Age thinkers suggest. We're not trying to change the world, but learning how to change our mind about the world; i.e., change how we interpret what goes on in the world around us. (See the introduction to ACIM Text chapter 21.) And again, the "we" who is involved is not the "we" that is being referred to in these other thought systems -- not the "we" who seems to be a body and personality living in this world and trying to change things, or even trying to change how one thinks or feels.

Language can be very confusing, because it is a communication tool of the ego and is shot through with ego assumptions. But we are stuck with using language to communicate, which is why the confusion about which "you," "we," "us," and so on is being discussed and even who is the source of these words typed onto a key board.

In truth, this conversation we seem to be having is already over and in fact never really took place!! But to the extent we think it's taking place, and that the Course in conversing with us, the Course can be regarded as a conversation directed from the mind to the mind and all about the mind -- from the right mind of the Holy Spirit to the Son of God or decision maker in the mind and about the ego thought system in the mind which stands as a block to love and peace.

We do the best we can, given our unenlightened state.

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11 years ago  ::  Oct 17, 2007 - 8:03PM #3
Posts: 51
> Michael Brown and I'm sure scores of folks like him, would say we are playing with
> effect and not cause, because changing what we "think" will not change how we
> feel. We need, according to this philosophy, to compassionately embrace our
> discomfort, not try to change our thinking about it.

Again, there are some similarities between these ideas and the teachings of the Course, but the Course is not talking about trying to change our thinking about our discomfort. That thinking is both reactionary and meaningless. No wonder some psychologists who theorize within the confines of the ego thought system would argue that it won't change how we feel. But, in terms of the Course teachings, what will change how we feel is a genuine change of mind from ego to Holy Spirit at the level of mind the Course is taking about. Again, and as I said before, that change begins by recognizing our ego at work inwardly and in what seem to be outward manifestations of behavior. But it is not a matter of "compassionately embracing" our discomfort. It is simply a matter of not denying it and of recognizing it for what it is: some form of fear which has its roots in guilt and which we have actively chosen at the level of mind. Section I of ACIM Text Chapter 30, "Rules for Decision" is all about this and how to change it. But once again, those "rules" are only applicable if one understands that they relate to mind and not some kind of intentional activity which we believe we can accomplish with the brain. Albeit, that section of the Course as well as many others, may appear to be addressed to us as brain and intellect. Again, the only "us" that the Course is concerned with is us as mind. But the practical help it offers does require learning how to access our mind and how to step back to observe what is going on in our mind.

> I know it may be semantics, but is there a dissonance in these theories??????

As I understand it, there is indeed a dissonance. The psychological theories and systems of the world are always coming into conflict with one another. There is not one, unified and universally accepted psychology. From a Course perspective that is because the ego thought system fosters differences and conflicts based on those differences. A central operating principle of the ego thought system is "Seek but do not find" (T-16.V.6:5; W-pI.71.4:2; M-13.5:8). That principle operates in all facets of the world: in science in general, in psychology and psychotherapy, in politics, in romance, in parenting and family relationships and so on and on.

As for psychotherapy in particular, Jesus is skeptical. The Psychotherapy Pamphlet is really all about therapists learning how to change their own minds and to do whatever they do from a place of love and forgiveness in their minds. It's not about how to diagnose and treat patients.

    "The word 'cure' has come into disrepute among the more 'respectable' therapists of the world, and justly so. [Remember, this was in the 1960's.] For not one of them can cure, and not one of them understands healing. At worst, they but make the body real in their own minds, and having done so, seek for magic by which to heal the ills with which their minds endow it. How could such a process cure? It is ridiculous from start to finish" (ACIM Psychotherapy Pamphlet-2.IV.4).

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