Questions & Answers
By Carmen Cameron*
[As it appears in the July 2011 Newsletter]
There is nothing I like more than a good question about the Course. And by “good question”, I mean a thought provoking one – a question that makes me reassess what I currently believe and perhaps come to see it in a new light. As a result, we have a very interactive study group of Course students here in Louisville where everyone is encouraged to share their insights and questions. It is also a very diverse group with people from widely varying religious backgrounds so we get a lot of very insightful questions and I’ve been making a note of them for the last 16 years.
Question:You have offered your experience of calling upon Jesus for guidance and assistance in our weekly study group. Is His offer of assistance specifically referenced in ACIM? If so, can you point me to the sections where Jesus makes reference to this? Thanks! ~Logan McC
Answer: Is it referenced in ACIM? Oh gosh YES!
ALL of the functions later ascribed to the Holy Spirit in ACIM are initially ascribed to Jesus, personally, in the early chapters, ESPECIALLY His offer of help and guidance.
The popular reasoning for that shift from Jesus to the Holy Spirit as our Guide is that the Holy Spirit is a “higher” form of spiritual Help and Guidance and Jesus was encouraging us to “progress” on to that level, gently and gradually during the process of the dictation.
My own theory, however, is that Helen was way too uncomfortable with the intense intimacy of that kind of relationship with Jesus as a personal entity (a well-attested to conflict for Helen) and so she was far more comfortable with “distancing” those functions “up” to the much more impersonal, symbolic and abstract Holy Spirit. (Jesus speaks directly to Helen’s preference for the abstract in the Urtext as a limitation on her ability to comprehend the concrete and practical.) But, seeing Helen’s resistance, and ever the gentle and helpful “older brother”, Jesus just accommodated her. And through her struggle with Jesus’ help, apparently Jesus found a way to help many of us!
There are dozens of references to Jesus offering to be our guide and role model even in the heavily edited Foundation for Inner Peace [FIP] version but the most direct ones are in the Original Edition and most especially in Helen’s notes and Urtext.
Jesus tells Helen to ask Him about everything she must decide: from what to wear to work, to when to stop channeling His dictation, to where to shop for her new coat – and even a very particular diamond broach!
The “personal” note where Jesus calls Himself “The Higher Shopping Service” is my personal favorite of all these references because it so clearly demonstrates both His sense of humor and His practical understanding through personal experience of just what it is to be a human.
Over the years, I have asked for guidance from both Jesus and the Holy Spirit and I just personally prefer to go to Jesus because of His delightful sense of humor – He can correct my errors bluntly but make me laugh at myself simultaneously – while the guidance from the Holy Spirit seems more dry and matter-of-fact, that being the primary distinction between them. BUT it is also my belief that Jesus cautions us to not attempt to go too quickly to the Holy Spirit before He’s helped us actually recognize our fears:
T-4.III.7. It has never really entered your mind to give up every idea you ever had that opposes knowledge. 2 You retain thousands of little scraps of fear that prevent the Holy One from entering. 3 Light cannot penetrate through the walls you make to block it, and it is forever unwilling to destroy what you have made. 4 No one can see through a wall, but I can step around it.
It is my belief that this is the explanation why so many ACIM students have so much difficulty in distinguishing between the Holy Spirit’s Voice and their own egos’ – they have skipped over this major step of clearing the fear that blocks the Holy Spirit with the tender and patient help of Jesus.
There are specific references in the early versions to things as down-to-earth and specific as even asking Jesus about whom to marry, how to resolve personal and professional counseling situations, and even customized “prescriptions” relating to physical symptoms.
But if you’re asking for something to cite from the standard FIP, here’s just a small selection:
T-1.II.4. “No man cometh unto the Father but by me” does not mean that I am in any way separate or different from you except in time, and time does not really exist. 2 The statement is more meaningful in terms of a vertical rather than a horizontal axis. 3 You stand below me and I stand below God. 4 In the process of “rising up,” I am higher because without me the distance between God and man would be too great for you to encompass. 5 I bridge the distance as an elder brother to you on the one hand, and as a Son of God on the other. 6 My devotion to my brothers has placed me in charge of the Sonship, which I render complete because I share it.
T-1.III.1. I am in charge of the process of Atonement, which I undertook to begin. 2 When you offer a miracle to any of my brothers, you do it to <yourself> and me. 3 The reason you come before me is that I do not need miracles for my own Atonement, but I stand at the end in case you fail temporarily. 4 My part in the Atonement is the cancelling out of all errors that you could not otherwise correct. 5 When you have been restored to the recognition of your original state, you naturally become part of the Atonement yourself. 6 As you share my unwillingness to accept error in yourself and others, you must join the great crusade to correct it; listen to my voice, learn to undo error and act to correct it. 7 The power to work miracles belongs to you. 8 I will provide the opportunities to do them, but you must be ready and willing.
T-1.II.5. Revelations are indirectly inspired by me because I am close to the Holy Spirit, and alert to the revelation-readiness of my brothers. 2 I can thus bring down to them more than they can draw down to themselves. [Jesus is claiming here to be the means for us to reach revelation.]
T-1.III.4. I am the only one who can perform miracles indiscriminately, because I am the Atonement. 2 You have a role in the Atonement which I will dictate to you. 3 Ask me which miracles you should perform. 4 This spares you needless effort, because you will be acting under direct communication.
T-1.III.8. That the miracle may have effects on your brothers that you may not recognize is not your concern. 2 The miracle will always bless <you>. 3 Miracles you are not asked to perform have not lost their value. 4 They are still expressions of your own state of grace, but the action aspect of the miracle should be controlled by me because of my complete awareness of the whole plan. 5 The impersonal nature of miracle-mindedness ensures your grace, but only I am in a position to know where they can be bestowed.
T-1.IV.4.6 I assure you that I will witness for anyone who lets me, and to whatever extent he permits it. 7 Your witnessing demonstrates your belief, and thus strengthens it. 8 Those who witness for me are expressing, through their miracles, that they have abandoned the belief in deprivation in favor of the abundance they have learned belongs to them.
T-1.VII.5.4 I have been careful to clarify my role in the Atonement without either over- or understating it. 5 I am also trying to do the same with yours. 6 I have stressed that awe is not an appropriate reaction to me because of our inherent equality. 7 Some of the later steps in this course, however, involve a more direct approach to God Himself. 8 It would be unwise to start on these steps without careful preparation, or awe will be confused with fear, and the experience will be more traumatic than beatific. 9 Healing is of God in the end. 10 The means are being carefully explained to you. 11 Revelation may occasionally reveal the end to you, but to reach it the means are needed. [See T-1.II.5.2 above.]
T-2.II.1. You can do anything I ask. 2 I have asked you to perform miracles…
T-2.V.A.11. (1) 3 When you perform a miracle, I will arrange both time and space to adjust to it.
T-2.VI.1.3 My control can take over everything that does not matter, while my guidance can direct everything that does, if you so choose.
T-2.VI.4.9 Before you choose to do anything, ask me if your choice is in accord with mine. 10 If you are sure that it is, there will be no fear.
T-3.IV.7.3 I was a man who remembered spirit and its knowledge. 4 As a man I did not attempt to counteract error with knowledge, but to correct error from the bottom up. 5 I demonstrated both the powerlessness of the body and the power of the mind. 6 By uniting my will with that of my Creator, I naturally remembered spirit and its real purpose. 7 I cannot unite your will with God’s for you, but I can erase all misperceptions from your mind if you will bring it under my guidance. 8 Only your misperceptions stand in your way. 9 Without them your choice is certain. 10 Sane perception induces sane choosing. 11 I cannot choose for you, but I can help you make your own right choice.
T-4.IV.11. I do not attack your ego. 2 I do work with your higher mind, the home of the Holy Spirit, whether you are asleep or awake, just as your ego does with your lower mind, which is its home. 3 I am your vigilance in this, because you are too confused to recognize your own hope. 4 I am not mistaken. 5 Your mind will elect to join with mine, and together we are invincible.
T-4.VI.6. My trust in you is greater than yours in me at the moment, but it will not always be that way. 2 Your mission is very simple. 3 You are asked to live so as to demonstrate that you are not an ego, and I do not choose God’s channels wrongly. 4 The Holy One shares my trust, and accepts my Atonement decisions because my will is never out of accord with His. 5 I have said before that I am in charge of the Atonement. 6 This is only because I completed my part in it as a man, and can now complete it through others. 7 My chosen channels cannot fail, because I will lend them my strength as long as theirs is wanting.
T-4.VI.7. I will go with you to the Holy One, and through my perception He can bridge the little gap. [Again, Jesus is saying he is the bridge – the intermediary – between us and the Holy Spirit’s Help, at least in the beginning] …7 Because you are the Kingdom of God I can lead you back to your own creations.
T-4.VI.8. As you come closer to a brother you approach me, and as you withdraw from him I become distant to you. 2 Salvation is a collaborative venture. 3 It cannot be undertaken successfully by those who disengage themselves from the Sonship, because they are disengaging themselves from me.
T-4.VII.8.7 The truly helpful are God’s miracle workers, whom I direct until we are all united in the joy of the Kingdom. 8 I will direct you to wherever you can be truly helpful, and to whoever can follow my guidance through you.
T-5.II.3.7 The Holy Spirit is in you in a very literal sense. 8 His is the Voice that calls you back to where you were before and will be again. 9 It is possible even in this world to hear only that Voice and no other. 10 It takes effort and great willingness to learn. 11 It is the final lesson that I learned…
“The final lesson that [Jesus] learned”…learning to distinguish the Holy Spirit’s Voice and listening to no other…how vain then would it be to think that I could learn to do that on my own WITHOUT his help! Thankfully, Jesus offers us his help in doing so. Repeatedly.
I truly hope that this was helpful, Logan. God bless!
* Carmen Cameron, who is a founding member of Course in Miracles Society, has been teaching classes in A Course in Miracles since 1994. She was a presenter at the 2009 Miracles Conference in San Francisco and presented again at the 2011 Conference. Carmen’s website is: http://peaceful-path.blogspot.com/