You Need Not Fear the Higher Court

One of the more interesting phrases in A Course in Miracles – especially the first five chapters – comes in Time and Eternity. It is one of the course’s few excursions into “legalese.” You need not fear the higher court will condemn you, says Jesus. It is a teaching that emphasizes our holiness and our innocence, assuring us that as soon as we rely on the right authority, we will know ourselves in the same loving light as God knows us.

As the text evolves, it relies less and less on metaphor and analogy. But here, the term “higher court” stands explicitly for the Holy Spirit. We are being urged to bring our guilt and our anger and our fear and all of that stuff to the Holy Spirit where it will be undone for us. The Holy Spirit is the higher power.

The ego speaks in judgment, and the Holy Spirit reverses its decision, much as a higher court has the power to reverse a lower court’s decisions in the world. The ego’s decisions are always wrong, because they are based on the error they were made to uphold. Nothing the ego perceives is intepreted correctly (T-5.VI.4:1-3).

In support of this point, the course invites us to reconsider traditional readings of scripture – that is, ego-based interpretations. It gives several examples of how the ego interprets famous biblical quotes and compares them to the Holy Spirit’s interpretation. In that sense, this section is one of the most helpful in the text because not only is Jesus using a metaphor most of understand or appreciate, but he is also providing specific examples to drive the point home.

And what is that point? That the ego is always interpreting fearfully. Made in fear all it can do is perceive fearfully. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, remembers its connection to God and so its interpretation are always based in love and always devoted to returning our minds to their original state, their home in Christ.

It is important to remember that we are afraid of our minds – we are afraid of how powerful they are and we afraid of having them “return” to God. The ego sees undoing as death – but in fact, it is simply a reinterpretation. Nothing is lost, nothing is destroyed. That which was uncreative is simply let go. In essence, we might think of the egoic mind almost as a sort of malfunctioning piece of software that simply needs to be removed from the computer. When it is, the computer will function as it was designed.

Much of the course – its ideas, its lessons, its clarifications – aim at helping us to overcome our fear of love. Ultimately, this fear is always our fear of God and, by extension, of God’s messengers, witnesses and agents. We don’t want to turn to the Holy Spirit because we are afraid that we will be judged and found wanting on behalf of God. The ego cannot imagine any other outcome. But in fact, the course teaches us that there is no case against us. There is nothing to try and no judgment can be rendered against us. What is created whole and perfect by God remains so.

This section neatly captures the authority issues most of us have with God. Believing we have betrayed God – and as egos, wanting to replace God – we are deeply fearful of any overt confrontation. A big part of the journey then is overcoming that fear which we do by facing both our sense of responsibility for separation from God and our ongoing resistance to ending that separation. The Holy Spirit can help. That is to say, turning to our right mind and perceiving from it – hearing with it, speaking with it, acting from it – is the solution.

Over and over we must remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit is in us in a very literal way. We cannot be destroyed and we cannot be injured or deprived in any way by it. All the Holy Spirit wants is to open our minds and let more and more Heavenly light flow into them. And when we are ready, we will see that not only is there no case to be held against us – but there is not even an authority capable of judgment. All of it ends when we recognize our union with God.

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