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So, in the Sparkly Book, which for many is better known as the HLC Edition, the chapter is called, “The Journey Back,” which was changed to “The Direction of the Curriculum.”
The Direction of the Curriculum1
The curriculum in the book? The curriculum in A Course In Miracles? No. The curriculum is the retracing of the steps you took away from the willingness to be the function of recognizing God in each and every thing. Whatever course you took in leaving Home constitutes the course in miracles of going back Home, of the journey back. There’s no objective Course In Miracles. And there’s no objective curriculum for you to apply for yourself. The curriculum was set in place by you as you thought to be independent and original and in charge, and on and on and on.
The retracing of the course you took away from Home should be a joyous thing, because it’s you coming into your right Mind, you coming back into your Sanity. So the direction of the curriculum is toward Home. And it’s an interior journey. Each of you will experience this course in unique ways. But there’s one fundamental thing that all of you will participate in, and that is the relinquishment of the idea, the mad idea, you might say, that you have a capacity to think for yourself, that you have a capacity to give definition to every thing, that you have a capacity to be an authority independent of the Way Things Work.
And you might say that the undermining of the course away from Home is always brought into focus by the challenge you bring to the fundamental idea that you have a capacity to think apart from God, to see apart from God, to experience apart from God. Each step Home is the undoing of the first step away from Home, the undoing of the bill of divorcement. If you don’t get this point that returning Home is an undoing of the bill of divorcement, you can become preoccupied with a lifetimes-long process of involvement with the undoing of each step that you took away from Home. You are finding that I am constantly undermining the first step away.
Now, in the book.
Those whom you perceive as opponents are PART of your peace, which YOU are giving up by attacking them.
This is one of those things you need to be very clear about because it’s so easy to misunderstand. And as a result of misunderstanding, tie yourself up unnecessarily in grief until you become clear.
Those whom you perceive as opponents are PART of your peace …
… it is quite possible for you to see someone who is not behaving badly, who is not behaving unpleasantly, as an opponent. It is quite possible for you to misperceive and misunderstand the presence of someone who is benign. It’s possible for you to be confused about a friend, and see an opponent where there is none.
Those whom you perceive as opponents …
… in this case …
… are PART of your peace, which YOU are giving up by attacking them.
Well, attacking them? Yes. You’re attacking them by seeing potential harm where benign-ness is, an opponent where a friend is, because you are confused.
Now, on the other hand, there are those who are themselves confused, who are experiencing fear because of their bill of divorcement, who are expressing their fear in antagonistic behavior toward you. You are not responsible for their behavior. Their own beliefs are responsible for their behavior. They are behaving in a way that causes you, out of habit, to respond with defense, because their behavior is an expression of attack. These, you could say, are opponents in that they are trying to upset you. Whereas in the first case, it was a friend who was not behaving in an obtuse way and in whom there was no call for defense from you.
Now, the key here is that when someone is behaving in a way that is obtuse, unfriendly, unkind, thoughtless, hateful, when they are acting out their own great fear, you have a choice to either see them as an opponent, or to see their behavior as a call for Love from a Christ who has forgotten Who He (or She) Is. If you make the mistake of seeing them as an opponent, you are attacking them, because you are completely missing the point that they are a Christ who is confused by the fact that they are entertaining a sense of independence that will always be a fearful experience, and will cause them to behave toward their world as though it is hostile and something which they must protect themselves against.
There is never an occasion when anything that confronts you must be defined as an opponent. Again, there is never a situation in which anything in your world must be defined as an opponent. And again, if you determine that something or someone in your world is an opponent, you have sacrificed your capacity to see clearly and to be an agent for change, an agent for healing.
Now the big question is why, under any circumstance, would you determine that someone or something in your world was an opponent? Well, only when you yourself are seeing yourself as an independent agent, only when you see yourself as what you have defined yourself, you see them as an opponent, because they are challenging something in you that you have made-up about yourself that is pure bullshit, pure fantasy, pure illusion, which is vulnerable to being uncovered for what it is—nothing.
The fact that you see them as an opponent and decide to defend yourself against them, which constitutes attack, the fact that you do this means that before any resolution can occur, you must get your own mind straight. It means that you must within yourself consciously and conscientiously undermine your faith in the mad idea that you actually took a first step away from Home, that you actually could get a bill of divorcement and did get a bill of divorcement.
Your seeing another as a threat to you, an opponent, means that you are securely seated in a very definite belief about yourself and a very definite sense of what you are that has nothing to do with the Truth. You are responsible for correcting that. And until you correct that, you will not be able to engage the true idea that this one behaving in an objectionable way is really the Christ suffering from a belief that he or she is independent and vulnerable. At which point, you can begin to behave in a way that proves to them, or him, that he, or she, is safe and doesn’t need to behave this way with you.
Until you do this, you’re not in a position to state the Truth that uncovers what needs to change in their mind so that they are free to behave in a new way. It doesn’t allow you to say “No” to inappropriate behavior without a hooker, a hidden hook, that constitutes judgment of some sort, which will absolutely block the miracle, the potential, for the sudden shift of perception for them. It doesn’t allow you to recognize that they are not opponents and that they are part of your Peace.
And so again, those whom you see:
Those whom you perceive as opponents …
… and I’m adding: Whether they’re behaving that way or not.
… are PART of your peace, which YOU are giving up by attacking them.
Meaning determining and defining them as opponents.
How can you HAVE what you give up?
If you give up your capacity to recognize the Christ in your Brother, you can’t have the experience of the Christ in your Brother. And without that vision, both of you are stuck.
You SHARE to have, but you do not give it up yourself. When you give up peace, you are EXCLUDING yourself from it.
When you give up peace, you are EXCLUDING yourself from it.
In exactly the same way that when you said you wanted a bill of divorcement, you said it from the place of your inseparability from God, the Place of your strength, the Place of your invulnerability. And you had no idea that when you actually confirmed to yourself, as insane as it is, that you had got the divorce that you gave up the Conscious Experience of your Identity. You didn’t know that you would be excluding yourself from That Which gave you Identity.
When you give up peace, you are EXCLUDING yourself from it. This is a condition …
… the absence of Peace.
This is a condition which is so alien to the Kingdom that you cannot understand the state which prevails within it. Your past learning must have taught you the wrong things, simply because it has not made you happy. On this basis alone, its value should be questioned.
In other words, the curriculum that you have been engaged in, which has been one of taking a course away from Home, must have taught you the wrong things simply because it has not made you happy. If you are not happy, you need to be asking yourself asking yourself, “Why?” And you might even get more specific and ask the question, “Might it be because I’m moving in the wrong direction? Might it be that the course I’m engaged in isn’t as valuable and wonderful as I thought it might be?” And then don’t leave it there. Then, when you finally acknowledge that indeed you’re not happy because you’re not acting within your integrity, you’re not moving in a direction that works, then you need to decide to change directions.
And there really is only one change of course to take. And that is the reverse of the one you’ve been on. It isn’t just 3 degrees to the right, or 20 degrees to the left, of the direction you were moving in. It’s 180 degrees—reverse. You see, it’s not what direction you’re moving in away from God that makes a difference. It’s abandoning the course that takes you away from That Which gives you Existence and the Experience of Being.
If learning aims at change, and that is ALWAYS its purpose, are you satisfied with the changes YOUR learning has brought you? Dissatisfaction with learning outcomes must be a sign of learning failure, since it means that you did not get what you WANT.
But I’m going to add also that dissatisfaction with learning outcomes is the beginning of the return to Sanity. Because until you realize that you’re not happy with the outcomes, you can’t make a decision to change anything. If you did not get what you want, then you were engaged in learning failure. But recognizing that means that you’re beginning to learn.
The curriculum of the Atonement …
… and what is it? The undoing of each step you took away from Home.
The curriculum of the Atonement is the opposite of the curriculum you have established for yourselves, BUT SO IS ITS OUTCOME. If the outcome of yours …
… your curriculum …
… has made you unhappy, and if you WANT a different one, a change in the curriculum is obviously necessary.
Now, we have talked enough for you to at least have grasped the idea that what is making you unhappy, what is causing you not to be able to be happy, is your own independent thinking, and the so-called pleasure or hit you get from pretending that you have some authority, and therefore a capacity to successfully control.
Well, in the process of utilizing this so-called capacity, you’ve given yourself definitions. Definitions that aren’t the Truth About You, but definitions that are satisfying to any attempt to be an independent authorizer. And as a result, you have built up a backlog of memory of your experiences of everything, conveniently forgetting that the way you’re experiencing everything is flawed by the fact that it’s being observed by something that doesn’t exist—a mind independent from God.
You now live your life based upon those memories, and the definitions you have applied to them. You see, first of all, you applied definitions to the experience of everything. That gave you a memory of things that allowed you to be able to come to conclusions. And thus you began to have definitions of definitions.
“Well, you know, I have experienced the fact that the people of a certain race have consistently expressed these vices, or these virtues. Therefore, on top of my seeing them as different from me, I can see that they are different from the race I’m a part of.”
So now we have a definition of a definition. And you live your days out caught in the swirling of these definitions, and these definitions of definitions, and you never touch the edge of What’s Really Going On. You’ve lost the capacity, by virtue of the definitions you’ve given everything, to recognize God in any of it, or to recognize the Christ in your Brother.
So, what does this mean? It means that the change in curriculum is the abandoning of the utilization of memory, of everything that you’ve been taught, of everything that you’ve taught yourself, because you weren’t awake when you were applying the definitions to everything, and therefore your perception of it all is flawed. And yet you rely upon this every day, and use it as the means of governing yourself and everyone else you can.
The first change that must be introduced is a change in direction. A meaningful curriculum cannot be inconsistent. If it is planned by two teachers, each believing in diametrically opposed ideas, it cannot BE integrated.
Is that clear? It cannot be integrated. If it means it can’t be integrated, it means that what the Holy Spirit reveals to you cannot be applied to the world you’re seeing, and it cannot be applied to the self you think you are. Therefore, it isn’t going to help the self you think you are improve and have better control, or better anything.
Changing directions, turning around 180 degrees, means not relying upon yourself at all. If you are, you haven’t changed direction 180 degrees, and you’re still heading away from Home, and fooling yourself into believing that this direction doesn’t take you away as far as fast and that’s an improvement. That’s the illogical thinking.
… the curriculum …
… is planned by two teachers…
… in other words, who you think you are, and God or the Holy Spirit …
… each believing in diametrically opposed ideas, it cannot BE integrated. If it is carried out by these two teachers simultaneously, each one merely INTERFERES with the other. This leads to fluctuation…
… you might say Unevenness …
… but NOT to change. The volatile HAVE NO direction. They cannot choose one, because they cannot relinquish the other even if the other does not exist. Their conflicted curriculum teaches them ALL directions exist, and gives them no rationale for choice.
Haven’t you heard it? “Everyone has their own reality. All directions exist.” And when you say that, it gives you no rationale for choice. And that’s where the insanity lies in the New Age thinking that, “Everyone creates their own reality. That’s the way it works. That’s the truth. That is the key to your freedom.” No. It’s the key to the loss of your freedom because it gives you no rationale for choice.
The total senselessness of such a curriculum must be fully recognized before a real change in direction becomes possible.
And you know, that’s the hardest part, arriving at a point where you’re clear enough to say that the choices you’ve been making aren’t working, they can’t work, and as long as you persist in that direction you will suffer, and that doesn’t make sense for you any longer. Until that which you have cherished becomes recognizably unwanted, you will not change direction.
You say, “Well, I know people who are really demonstrating in their life that their choices are causing their suffering. They’re in and out of jail. They’re always having fights. They’re disagreeable. They are anti-social. Everything they are doing is obviously creating suffering for them. But I’m not having that experience. The way I’m using my mind is keeping me from having those experiences. I’ve learned how to make better choices.”
Well, not being as miserable as someone else doesn’t truly mean that you’re not experiencing misery. “Boy, I’m glad I’m not in their shoes. But, damn, how am I going to make it this month? Things are really tight and I’m very uneasy about it.” You see? You’re not experiencing joy. You’re not experiencing freedom from need. You’re not bubbling over with inspiration and insight, which when you express it makes everyone around you feel better, or which promotes greater clarity for them. So be careful of these silly comparisons that you use to say, “I’m not miserable.”
“I not as miserable as so-and-so. I didn’t spend 3 months in jail. I didn’t get sodomized. I didn’t get stabbed. And I didn’t run into an old buddy when I was released from jail who immediately enticed me back into another situation. I’ve got it good.” No. You don’t. If you’re still operating on a course that’s 180 degrees out of sync with your fulfillment, you’re not better off.
And you’ve got to arrive at a point where you stop being satisfied with just not having as much trouble as Joe down the street. You’ve got to arrive at a point where you say, “Although I’m not as miserable as Joe down the street, I am not consistently happy. I am not consistently free of fear. In fact, even though I’m generally happy, there is always an undercurrent of fear. There’s always a feeling of vulnerability that may rear its head at any time and throw me off guard. Even though, well, for the last year, I’ve done pretty well at not having those kind of experiences.”
You’ve got to arrive at a point where you say, “No matter how much less miserable I am than Joe down the street, it’s not my Birthright to be miserable to any degree. And I am going to change direction and learn from a different teacher that brings me back into the fullness of What I Am and an untarnished and undistorted Conscious Experience of everything as It Truly Is.”
Again. And mind you that this is speaking of your relatively good experiences of life, that for most of your life have been better than Joe down the street.
The total senselessness of such a curriculum …
… a curriculum that says, “All directions exist.” . .
… must be fully recognized before a real change in direction becomes possible. You cannot learn simultaneously from two teachers who are in TOTAL disagreement about everything.
What you call “your ego” is in total disagreement with God. You didn’t get a half-a-divorce from God. You got a whole divorce. You said, “I want to see things my way.” You got a total divorce from God, and therefore the way you’re being is in total disagreement with God. Well, what’s another way of saying that? It means you’re in total disagreement or misalignment with the Way Things Work. That is perhaps a little less threatening than saying, “You’re in total disagreement with God.”
If you are choosing to be at odds with the Way Things Work, you are in total disagreement with the Way Things Work. But at least in your mind, you are able to conceive of the fact that the words, “The Way Things Work,” means something that is unchangeable, and that you are either going to cooperate with and experience harmony, or be uncooperative with and experience suffering.
You see, your ego might want to say, “But I’m not in total disagreement with God,” and fuss about the words. But if you’re not in agreement, if you’re being feisty and trying to be original and not fit in to the Way Things Work, it’s obvious to you that you will not be happy. And it’s easy for you to see that at the bottom line you really don’t want to fit in, because you’ll become nothing. You’ll just be a cog or a wheel in the machine. You won’t stand out. And you don’t want that. Well, if you want to change directions, you’ve got to start wanting that.
You cannot learn simultaneously from two teachers who are in TOTAL disagreement about everything. Their joint curriculum presents an impossible learning task. They are teaching you ENTIRELY different things in ENTIRELY different ways, which might be possible, except for the crucial fact that both are TEACHING YOU ABOUT YOURSELF.
They are teaching you opposite things about yourself.
Now if your ego is nothing more than you wearing a mask, then you are being one of the teachers incognito. And the only thing you can teach is what’s stored in your memory. And what’s stored in your memory is distorted, because it was being viewed by a self that doesn’t really exist. And even in its supposititious existence had the task of defining everything differently from What The Father Was Being right there in everything. Therefore, everything that you behind the mask are teaching is false. It’s not the end of the world to realize that. It’s essential. Because until you realize that in the tips of your toes, you will not from the tips of your toes engage in reversing your direction and coming swiftly back into your right Mind.
Your reality …
… your true Reality …
… is unaffected by both…
It’s unaffected by—What You Divinely Are—is unaffected by the Voice for Truth or the voice for fear. Because the Voice for Truth uncovers What You Are. It doesn’t change What You Are. It re-reveals you—What You Divinely Are—to you and reengages your mind in the Conscious Experience of What You Are. So it doesn’t affect you, even though it heals your mind of the misperceptions that have kept you caught in suffering.
Your reality is unaffected by both, but if you listen to both, your mind will be split about what your reality IS.
I’ll tell you something. The Truth is self-confirming. And so, as you begin to head for Home, as you do an about-face and move in the direction of the only curriculum there is, which is the undoing of your steps away from Home, and Truth dawns in your minds more and more clearly, the teaching of the other voice is going to become more and more difficult to tolerate. It’s going to be become more and more problematic. It’s going to become more and more intolerable to you. It’s going to be clearer to you that it doesn’t work, and that it can’t work, even though you slip from time to time and try to employ it. And what had been familiar to you, and a comfort to you, will now be more and more distressing.
There’s a benefit in this, because if you don’t resist the simple Truth of what I just said as you experience it, it will provide you with further conviction and commitment on retracing your steps, on engaging in the course in miracles. Miracles are sudden shifts of perception. Not only that. They are sudden shifts of perception about what you had been misperceiving, sudden shifts of perception about what you had been misunderstanding, so that you are no longer suffering about this particular misunderstanding or that other one, and you’re not having the experience of misperception regarding this or that.
Is it clear to everyone that this Course is not a head trip? It’s not some intellectual process. It’s not the collecting of intellectual tidbits that are stimulating, but because they’re never incorporated, promote no change. But, boy, they can sure make you the life of the party. They can sure create a lot of discussion and a lot of activity.
A Course In Miracles is not an intellectual process. It’s about changing your mind. More correctly, it’s about letting your mind be changed, because you’re accepting a new teacher. And you’re giving your allegiance to a new teacher. And you are undoing the steps you took away from your Sanity, from your Wholeness, and from the Joy of Being.
The next section is called:
The Rationale for Choice
You see, it’s absolutely essential to make a choice.
You can’t just say, “God is Love and God will take care of everything. And I will just flow. I’ll just get in the flow. And I will be in my peace no matter what happens. I will be in my peace no matter how I misperceive things. It’s all God. It’s all God.” No! It’s not! Your misperceptions are not all God! And your misperceptions are blinding you to What IS All God. And your misperceptions about Who and What You Are, are blinding you to the Sane, Integrated, Singular Experience of What You Are.
“Oh, but I much prefer to be open-minded. I much prefer to have a much broader perspective in which everything is okay, in which I’m not called upon to make judgment about anything, because, of course, judgment is bad.” Well, excuse me. How can you make a choice without judgment? How can you make a choice between What Works and what doesn’t work without recognizing the difference?
Back to the book.
There is a rationale for choice.
Well, so much for, “It’s all God!” So much for, “Everyone makes-up their own reality. Everyone is experiencing their own reality and that’s life.” So much for that.
There is a rationale for choice. Only one Teacher KNOWS what your reality is. If learning that is the PURPOSE of the curriculum, you must learn it of Him.
Whew! Am I really making it too hard? Am I really encouraging you to want things to be too perfect? I mean none of you in this room are suffering that much. You’re not that miserable. And yet I’m asking you not to be satisfied in your subtle misery. I’m asking you to be as intolerant of it as you would be of the pain you would feel if someone threw acid in your face.
“Oh, but it’s not called for! I mean how perfect … how perfect do you want me to strive … how much perfection do you want me to strive for?” I want you not to strive for perfection, but I want you to be completely willing to allow It, which is already the Truth about you, to register with you consciously. It doesn’t take struggle or strife, but it takes, for lack of better words, committed willingness. A willingness without reservation—that’s a little bit easier to hear.
Willingness without reservation. That you can grasp. Commitment to willingness sounds like work. But willingness without reservation expresses exactly the correct meaning of those words. Willingness without reservation means you paying attention with innocent eyes, with innocent mind, not introducing anything from your memory into the Conscious Experience of the moment you’re in.
There is a rationale for choice. Only one Teacher knows what your reality is.
The truth about You.
If learning that is the PURPOSE of the curriculum, you must learn it of Him. The ego does not KNOW what it is trying to teach.
The only thing it teaches is what it supposes is true. The only thing it teaches is what it wants to be true. It is not able to teach What IS True, because it’s a state of mind, you might say, that has already said, “I want to give what is true new definition.” And therefore, everything that it has defined has been a distortion of Truth. So it doesn’t know how to tell the Truth or to teach the Truth.
The ego does not know what it is trying to teach. It is trying to teach you what you are WITHOUT knowing it.
Without knowing what you Are.
The ego is expert only in confusion. It does not understand anything else. As a teacher, then, it is totally confused and totally confusing.
And let’s get a reality-check here. This teacher that is totally confused and totally confusing is you behind the mask, having become so familiar with the mask that you think it is what you are, instead of that which is wearing the mask. And it’s in the having forgotten What You Are that everything that follows is and can only be the teaching of confusion.
Even if you could disregard the Holy Spirit entirely, which is quite impossible, you could learn nothing from the ego because the ego knows nothing.
Why doesn’t the ego know anything? Why does the ego know nothing? Because its very existence is predicated upon defining All That Is as something different from What It Is. And in the making of the definitions and the committed attention it gives to its definitions, it is ignoring What Everything Is. Therefore, it cannot know What Anything Is.
When you are committed to your memory, and you operate only from within the confines of your memory, you cannot know What Anything Is. You cannot know What Anything Truly Is. Therefore, at the moment, you’re not experiencing anything as It Truly Is, no matter how peaceful it may be at the moment. And it’s your Birthright to be experiencing everything for What It Is.
And so it becomes my task, and it becomes the Holy Spirit’s task, to get you to pay attention to the apparently irrational idea that everything you know is wrong, is not valid, and therefore is not truly valuable to you. And that it is the reason you’re not happy. And it is the reason that you are never free from fear, anxiety, or the feeling of vulnerability in one way or another.
I don’t want you to be experiencing pure misery in order for you to be willing to change directions. But the less misery you’re experiencing, the more difficult it is for you to accept the idea that you in this state of relative peace and harmony are still experiencing Reality from an invalid place that does need to be denied completely, that does need to be abandoned completely. Because until you annul the divorce that was 100% divorce, you cannot be available for the 100% Experience of your Identity and of the Joy that it’s your Birthright to be experiencing.
You might say that I’m saying no matter how happy you are right now, you can’t dare to be happy, because your happiness isn’t Real. You could interpret that to mean, “Wow! I should be upset. I should be uneasy. I’m so far off the track that I must be crazy and that is alarming.” No. What I’m saying is whatever level of joy and harmony you’re experiencing is not valid. It’s only peace and harmony relative to someone else’s chaos and suffering. And I’m saying Peace and Harmony that is Real is your Birthright and is available to you, but you won’t experience it until you go to a different Source than your memory.
It’s that simple. Stop using your memory banks to perceive everything and to determine whether you’re safe or not, whether you’re happy or not. Your memory is a closed system. Your Being is Infinite. [pause] One more time. Your memory is a closed system. Your Being is Infinite. Those are the only two teachers you have available to you. It’s simple.
The Course In Miracles is the movement from the teacher that doesn’t really exist to the One that does. And it occurs by withdrawing your investment of faith in your memory banks, and your willingness to abandon yourself to an Infinite Paradigm in which you’re not in control, because no control is needed, and in which you be, not to survive, but to give conscious acknowledgment and recognition to All That Is Real and to Joy in It.
But you know what? Returning Home, the journey back, will not occur if you don’t know that there’s a choice. And it won’t occur unless you make the choice. And unless you make the choice, you won’t abandon what doesn’t work and you won’t withdraw your faith and commitment to your memory—a closed system.
So with that we will end for the day. We’ll continue reading from the Course, but let it be understood that the course is this inner journey of undoing and really beginning to be in a different way from a different place in you. In other words, instead of being out from the mask and costume, you will start being from the standpoint and vantage point of That Which Is Divinely Real underneath the mask and the costume. And from there you will do and be, based upon the Way Things Work, based upon What Is True, because you will know the Truth, instead of acting on the basis of the mask and the costume and all of the definitions that you have created about it and about how this presence behaves and gains credibility and respect and manages to survive because it’s skillful at surviving. You’ll abandon all of the infrastructure of beliefs and ideas that you have built around the mask and the costume. And I’m going to say that you will be from, not a structure of ideas and thoughts, but from a Movement of Love because That is what’s underneath the mask and the costume.
I love you all.
And I just encourage you to not make this course in miracles, this journey back, strenuous. The only thing that will make it strenuous will be waffling back and forth between one teacher and the other. That will make it strenuous. And it’s not necessary.
I will stop for today. But I will never stop.
T8.1 The Direction of the Curriculum ↩
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