What is the Christ?
(These are the comments from the first day's portion of the "What is the Christ" section - Lesson 271)
"Christ is God's Son as He created Him" (1:1). This is what we are learning to see in one another, so that we can remember to see Him in ourselves. Christ is the original creation of God, before we "remade" him, and painted another image over God's masterpiece. We wanted to be something else, and so we have perceived something else in everyone around us. Now, we are learning to look past the images we have made to rediscover the hidden masterpiece beneath the forgery.
"He is the Self we share, uniting us with one another, and with God as well" (1:2). Christ is the Son of God. We all are aspects of that one Son. (Part of the reason the Course uses "Son" rather than "sons and daughters" is because the latter phrase denotes a separation which does not exist in God's creation.) Our original Self, our only real Self, is a Self we share with everyone. One reason we resist knowing this Self is that it is not "my" self alone; it is our Self. To claim Christ as my Self, I cannot exclude anyone, because the Self I am claiming is a universal Self, of which everyone is a part.
Not only are we united with one another in this Self, we are also united with God as well (1:2). Without God this Self would not exist; He sources It and sustains It. It cannot be apart from Him. It cannot be independent of Him. Nor can It oppose Him in any way; all of the characteristics of this Self arise and emerge out of God's own Being.
(These are the comments from the second day's portion of the "What is the Christ" section - Lesson 272)
Christ is "the Thought Which still abides within the Mind that is His Source" (1:3). The Course teaches us that our reality is a Thought within the Mind of God. Over and over the Course insists that ideas do not leave their Source. They remain within the mind that is thinking them. An idea cannot be separate from a mind; it is a part of the mind, a function of the mind that thinks it. And we are just like that in relation to God. Separation between our Self and the Mind of God is no more possible than separation between an idea and the mind that thinks it.
My true Self, your true Self, our true Self is the Christ. Our Self has never left our holy home (1:4) in God's Mind. That is fact. Based on that fact, anything that appears to be contrary to it must be a lie, an illusion. We are not wandering, lost, in this world, we are "at home in God, dreaming of exile" (T-10.I.2:1). Our separation is only a dream, not a reality; this is why the Course is so certain of the final outcome.
We have not left God, and because we have not, we have not lost our innocence (1:4, also W-pI.182.12:1). All the awful things we may think we have done or said have no reality in truth; they are part of the dream of exile. We are still at home. Have you ever had a dream in which you did something terrible or embarassing, and then wakened, terrified, horrified, only to experience a sudden relief? "It was only a dream!" All of us, one day, will have that experience on a grand scale; we will awaken to realize that this whole world was a dream that never happened. Despite all that we have imagined, we will awaken and find ourselves "unchanged forever in the Mind of God" (1:5).
(These are the comments from the third day's portion of the "What is the Christ" section - Lesson 273)
Christ is the link that keeps us one with God (2:1). If we have any awareness at all of the Christ within us, it seems as if He is only a part of us, perhaps a small part or an obscure part. That is not the reality (see 3:2), but that is how it seems. And yet every one of us is aware of something in us that is more than what we appear to be, something that links us to God. We probably would not be reading this Course if we did not have that awareness. And this part, small and obscure as it may seem, links us to God. Somehow we know that.
If that link is real, then the separation is not real. It is "no more than an illusion of despair" (2:1). If we are linked with God, one with Him, then we are not separate, and everything that seems to tell us we are must be illusion. In every one of us, in the Christ within us, "hope forever will abide" (2:1). Something in us knows that this is true. The link with God has not been broken. Each of us has this hidden ally in our hearts. Within me, within you, there is the Christ. The Course relies on this fact totally because Jesus, who remembered his Christ Self fully, knows that is it so.
"Your mind is part of His, and His of yours" (2:2). He is there, in you. And you are in Him. All we are doing is, as the Bible says, to let the mind of Christ be in us. We are recognizing this part of our minds we have denied and doubted. His mind is in us, and this is our salvation. It is part of us; we cannot be rid of it, even if we want to.
In this part of our mind, "God's Answer lies" (2:3). The Answer to separation. The Answer to pain and suffering. The Answer to despair. The Answer to every problem. The Answer is in you. The Answer is part of you . It is not outside, not to be found in something in this world, nor in someone else. You already have it. You already are it. The Answer is IN YOU.
In this part of your mind, "all decisions are already made, and dreams are over" (2:3). What this is saying is so wonderful we can scarcely believe it. There is a part of our minds in which we all, every one of us, have already decided for God . We have already chosen peace. We have already relinquished all attack and judgment. And all of our dreams are already over. Armed with this knowledge we can be absolutely certain that we will "make it." Because the Christ in us has already made it.
All that remains to be done is to recognize that this "part" of us is really all there is. All that remains is to let go of everything else but this. We do not need to attain enlightenment; we need only accept that it is already accomplished. This is the truth, and all we are doing in this world is learning to "deny the denial of truth" (T-12.II.1:5), to let go of all the "blocks to the awareness of love's presence, which is your natural inheritance" (T-In.1:7).
(These are the comments from the fourth day's portion of the "What is the Christ" section - Lesson 274)
The Christ is the part of our minds in which God's Answer lies (2:3). This part of our mind "remains untouched by anything the body's eyes perceive" (2:4). Our mind, as we are aware of it, is more than merely touched by what our eyes perceive; it is dominated by it, controlled by it, and tossed about like a leaf in the wind (as advertisers well know!). But there is something in us, somewhere in us, according to this statement, that is untouched and unmoved by our physical perceptions. It remains perfectly calm no matter what seems to be happening around us. It remains perfectly loving, no matter what assault is made upon our love. This is the Christ, our true Self.
It is this part of ourselves we are practicing to become aware of. This is the quiet center of our being that we are seeking to connect with in the holy instants we spend, quietly listening. This is the Voice that we attempt to hear, a Voice of majestic stillness and complete tranquillity. The Christ is not some alien being, something apart from us that we must learn, somehow, to emulate. He is our Self. He is like the eye of the hurricane. When our minds are agitated and seemingly out of control, we can, if we are willing to leave the objects of our turmoil behind, enter that eye of the storm and find the peace within ourselves that is always, always there. The moment we do, the change is so startling it is unmistakeable. The howling of the wind ceases. The blast of the elements suddenly stops. There is nothing but peace. In this still center of our being, all of the events of our lives that have driven us to and fro, helpless in their grip, have absolutely no effect whatsoever. And in that moment we know, "This is Who I am."
Because of our confusion of mind, because we have made a seeming problem where there is none, the Father has placed in Christ the "means for your salvation" (2:5), the Answer to our illusions. And yet this Christ remains untouched by the "problems" themselves, pristinely pure; he "knows no sin" (2:5). The Answer to sin is incorporated within him, and yet in him the problem being Answered does not even exist. Christ's perfection has not been sullied by our madness. He is still as perfect as the day he was created. And he is me . "I am the holy Son of God Himself" (Lesson 191). Here, in the stillness of Christ's being, I know that all my "sins" are nothing, and without effect of any kind. Here I am more than guiltless; I am holy. All things are holy. And nothing unreal exists.
(These are the comments from the fifth day's portion of the "What is the Christ" section - Lesson 275)
Christ, our Self, is the "Home of the Holy Spirit" (3:1). The Course often refers to the Holy Spirit as "the Voice for God;" this Voice emanates from our Self, the Christ. This is His Home, where the Holy Spirit "resides," so to speak. When we sense an inner prodding in a certain direction, or, as was the case with Helen Schucman (who wrote down the Course), we seem to hear actual words spoken within our minds, it is the presence within us of this "part" of our mind that makes this possible. Christ is "the link that keeps you one with God" (2:1). If the Christ did not exist within us, we would not be hearing these messages, because the link with God would be non-existent. (To go a bit further, if there were no link with God we would not exist at all!) Therefore, the fact that we do sense these inner messages moving us in the direction of God and of love proves that a link to God must still exist within us. That, in turn, validates what the Course is saying: we are not separated from God.
Secondly, Christ is "at home in God alone" (3:1). Again this is borne out in our experience. The feeling of not being at home in this world is almost universally acknowledged; at one time or another, it seems that everyone has felt this way, some more strongly than others, perhaps, though we have all felt this to some degree. Where does that feeling come from? Is it not possible that we are not at home in this world? Given the widespread nature of this experience, is it not likely that there is some part of us, at least, which actually is not at home here at all, but only in God? The Course advises us to listen to this inner voice that seems to be calling us to come home to a home we cannot clearly remember, but which, somehow, we know to be real. (See especially "The Forgotten Song" in the Text, or "I will be still an instant and go home," Lesson 182.)
Christ remains "at peace within the Heaven of your holy mind" (3:1), as we have already discussed in the last day or two. Whatever may be happening externally, the Christ part of our minds stays eternally peaceful.
"This is the only part of you that has reality in truth. The rest is dreams" (3:2-3). This is really a key statement. For most of us, this eternally peaceful part of our minds seems very distant and hidden, something which, perhaps, we connect with in times of deep meditation. The "real" part of our consciousness seems to be the agitated and confused part. The Christ within we may acknowledge to be real, but it seems to be only a small part of what we are. In reality, this lesson says, that deeply tranquil and holy "part" is the only real thing about what we think we are; the rest is only dreams.
I think this is often the source of fear for many of us. The idea that most of what we think of as ourselves is not real at all, but only a dream, is rather terrifying. We have so identified with these aspects of ourselves, and have become so convinced of their reality, that the idea that they might dissolve and disappear if we really got in touch with the Christ within ourselves is frightening. It seems like some kind of death, or personal annihilation, as if the bulk of our person were simply going to be erased in some kind of cosmic lobotomy. The Text speaks often, and strongly, about our fear of finding our Self (see, for instance, Chapter 13, Sections II and III, in the Text). One such statement is:
"You have built your whole insane belief system because you think you would be helpless in God's Presence, and you would save yourself from His Love because you think it would crush you into nothingness. You are afraid it would sweep you away from yourself and make you little, because you believe that magnitude lies in defiance, and that attack is grandeur" (T-13.III.4:1-2).
Consider this from the other side of the question for a moment. What if the bulk of what we believe ourselves to be is only a dream? What would we lose if we lost it? Nothing. Nothing but dreams of pain and suffering, nothing but our profound sense of loneliness.
Enlightenment does not destroy individual personality. It does not destroy anything at all; it only removes dreams and illusions. It takes away what is not and never has been true in the first place. The Christ is the only "part" of ourselves that has any reality at all, and the only loss we will ever experience is the loss of things that have never been.
(These are the comments from the sixth day's portion of the "What is the Christ" section - Lesson 276)
"The rest is dreams. Yet will these dreams be given unto Christ, to fade before His glory and reveal your holy Self, the Christ, to you at last" (3:3-4).
I am prone to think, "OK. Christ is the only real part of me. All the rest, the stuff I think is really me most of the time, is just dreams. But these dreams seem very, very real to me. What the heck do I do about all these dreams?" The answer is in three words; the dreams are "given unto Christ." The Course constantly is asking us to do this in varying forms; it speaks of our bringing our darkness to the light, of bringing our fantasies to reality, our illusions to the truth. We, in our confusion, cannot see the truth about ourselves, or about others, because we are blinded by our illusions. The Holy Spirit was created for us to see the truth on our behalf until we can see it for ourselves (T-17.II.1:6-8). He represents Christ for us, in us. We bring our dreams to Him, and He translates them into truth (see 4:1).
In practical terms this means that when I become aware I am seeing from an ego standpoint, from a perspective of separation and attack, I need to become quiet, and gently expose these beliefs to the Holy Spirit within my mind. I need to tell Him, "This is how I am seeing things. Show me how You see them. I am willing to see them differently."
Our natural (read "egoic") response when we discover dark thoughts in our minds, thoughts like anger, jealousy, self-pity, and despair, is to hide them, unless we are so blind as to totally identify with them and justify them. Embarassed at our mis-thoughts, we attempt to sweep them under the rug and pretend they are not there. This does not dispel them, it merely causes them to go underground. For instance, in speaking of the ego's hatred, the Course teaches that we seek special love relationships to offset our hatred. It says:
"You cannot limit hate. The special love relationship will not offset it, but will merely drive it underground and out of sight. It is essential to bring it [the hate] into sight, and to make no attempt to hide it" (T-16.IV.1:5-7).
Hiding our unpleasant thoughts is really denial. It leads inexorably to projection, in which we see our own hidden thoughts being played out by others, and seemingly gain ego points by guilting the other people. When we are upset by the sins and mistakes of other people, this is exactly what is happening (T-17.I.6:5).
When, instead, we make no attempt to hide our own ego, but willingly bring it to the light within us to be dispelled, it is dispelled. We don't have to understand how this happens, because we do not do it; the Holy Spirit does (T-17.I.6:3,4). All we need be concerned about is being willing to have it happen. When the illusions which are hiding the truth are dispelled, our holy Self, the Christ, is revealed to us at last (3:4).
(These are the comments from the seventh day's portion of the "What is the Christ" section - Lesson 277)
From within our innermost being, from the Christ in us, the Holy Spirit reaches forth "to all your dreams, and bids them come to Him, to be translated into truth" (4:1). Let me not, therefore, hide any of my dreams from Him today. Let me not let a sense of shame keep me from bringing them to Him. He will not condemn me. He is not shocked by anything He sees in us; He is unshockable. On the contrary, "He loves what He sees within you" (T-13.V.9:6), for He sees past the illusion of sin to the reality of love it has been hiding.
In every thought of attack He sees our call for love. In every shudder of fear He hears a call for help. In all our lust for the things of this world He beholds our longing for completion. Whatever we bring to Him, He translates into truth. Nothing is beyond redemption, nothing is outside the reach of the Atonement. The task of the Holy Spirit is to "reinterpret [us] on behalf of God" (T-5.III.7:7). All that we bring to Him, he will translate into truth. But only if we bring it. If we hide it He cannot help us.
"Bring, therefore, all your dark and secret thoughts to Him, and look upon them with Him." "Open every door to Him, and bid Him enter the darkness and lighten it away." (T-14.VII.6:8, 2; the whole paragraph should be read.)
(These are the comments from the eighth day's portion of the "What is the Christ" section - Lesson 278)
What does the Holy Spirit do with our dreams of sin and guilt when we bring them to Him, and He translates them into truth? "He will exchange them for the final dream which God appointed as the end of dreams" (4:2). This is speaking of what the Course calls "the happy dream," otherwise known as "the real world" or "true perception." He takes our nightmares from us and translates them into the happy dream. In the happy dream, we are still dreaming; we are still here in the world, still operating in the realm of perception. But what we see is something completely different from the nightmares of a mind made mad with guilt. "The real world is attained simply by complete forgiveness of the old, the world you see without forgiveness" (T-17.II.5:1).
This happy dream is appointed by God to be "the end of dreams." "Forgiveness is illusion that is answer to the rest" (W-pI.198.2:10). The world ends, the Course says, through the "illusion of forgiveness:" "The illusion of forgiveness, complete, excluding no one, limitless in gentleness, will cover it, hiding all evil, concealing all sin and ending guilt forever" (M-14.1:4). Our dark, guilty thoughts, brought to the Holy Spirit, are met and dispelled with forgiveness, and replaced with the vision of a world of total innocence.
The "illusion of forgiveness" will end all dreams because it will end separation; "For when forgiveness rests upon the world and peace has come to every Son of God, what could there be to keep things separate, for what remains to see except the face of Christ?" (4:3). The "face of Christ" does not mean (of course) that we will see a bearded Semitic man everywhere we look; the phrase is a symbol of the innocence of God's Son. If forgiveness rests upon the entire world, and every mind has come to peace, free from guilt, what is there to see except innocence? The Course has said that the world is a symbol of guilt. When guilt is gone, its symbol will also vanish. The dream, made by guilt, will end when its cause has disappeared.
Clearly this is speaking of a final end, "when peace has come to every Son of God." It is the goal toward which the Holy Spirit is leading us, the final consummation, when guilt has been removed from every mind. Each of us plays our part in this, for as long as there is guilt within my mind, the end of guilt has not occurred. The whole cannot be complete without all its parts. We do not need to attain to being the Christ; we already are that. But we do need to learn to remove all the blocks of guilt that are hiding our true Self from us.
"The state of guiltlessness is only the condition in which what is not there has been removed from the disordered mind that thought it was. This state, and only this, must you attain, with God beside you" (T-14.IV.2:2,3).
Once we have removed "what is not there," and have attained the state of guiltlessness, what we are--the Christ--will be revealed.
(These are the comments from the ninth day's portion of the "What is the Christ" section - Lesson 279)
When we see "this holy face," the face of Christ, in everyone and everywhere, we are seeing all creation as completely innocent, free from guilt. This "true perception" will not last long, according to the Course, because it is merely "the symbol that the time for learning now is over, and the goal of the Atonement has been reached at last" (5:1). The face of Christ symbolizes the end of the time for learning because what we are learning is that we are without guilt, and that God's creation, His Son, is without guilt. So when we see only the face of Christ, learning has achieved its objective. It's graduation time!
If we believe we have a purpose in this world at all, we tend to think of it as some great thing within time. We think, as a Southern Baptist friend of mine used to say, that we are here to "do great wonders and eat cucumbers." (I never did figure out exactly what he meant by the last part, but it makes the silliness of our other goals apparent.) But our only function here, the Course tells us, is to learn forgiveness. We are not here to fix the world but to forgive it. We are not here to become a great, world-renowned healer. We are not here to establish a great spiritual teaching center. Our goal and our function is not defined in terms of this world at all. "Your only calling here is to devote yourself, with active willingness, to the denial of guilt in all its forms" (T-14.V.3:5). That is the sole objective of our learning. In the symbolism given here, it is to see the face of Christ.
"So therefore let us seek to find Christ's face and look on nothing else" (5:2). In all our seeking, seek only this. If I am starting a new job, what is my purpose? To seek Christ's face, to deny guilt in all its forms. If I am entering a new relationship, what is my purpose? To seek Christ's face; to escape from guilt by seeing no guilt in my brother. If I am beginning some new project under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, what is it for? To seek Christ's face, to remove guilt from every mind I encounter. This is my sole purpose in anything that I do. And only in accepting this as "the one function that I would fulfill" (T-20.IV.8:4) will I find my happiness.
(These are the comments from the tenth day's portion of the "What is the Christ" section - Lesson 280)
This sentence speaks of the vision of God's Son, the awareness of the "glory" of what we truly are. In seeking and seeing Christ's face in one another, we find that same glory in ourselves. In the recognition of our true nature as God's creation, all need of "learning or perception or of time" ceases. The removal of the veils of guilt, accomplished by forgiveness, reveals the Christ to us, and there is no longer need of anything "except the holy Self, the Christ Who God created as His Son."
We already are what we are looking for. Only our dreams of guilt have hidden it from our sight. What is the Christ? You are. I am. Learning to undo the blocks to this sight is our only purpose in time. When that has been accomplished, there is nothing left to do except to be what we always have been.[Contents] [Comment] [Home]