Beyond the Metaphor to Home

At some point, as serious students of A Course in Miracles, we need to understand that the Holy Spirit is simply a metaphor for right choosing – or the action of our right mind – which we could also call right perception – and that although the rightness is real, the Holy Spirit is itself a symbol. “I” am not possessed – gently or otherwise – by a foreign agent created by God to be my guide from madness to reason.

When we imagine that Jesus or the Holy Spirit are separate agents – somehow removed from us in time and space – we slip into a well-intentioned but ultimately fruitless dualism. This is an evasion of our responsibility and our potential for inner peace. We need to see beyond the metaphor to the reality at which it points. We don’t want to confuse a map of the way home for home.

When A Course in Miracles advises us to let the Holy Spirit choose for us which path to take in any and all situations, it is really making a statement about the fundamental equality of all paths, and the futility of judgment.

Even simpler, ACIM is saying to us:

1. Your familiar way of thinking, feeling, reacting and deciding doesn’t work;

2. There is a better way;

3. You already know the better way;

4. Chill out – breathe – and let the better way reveal itself.

Say to the Holy Spirit only, “Decide for me,” and it is done. For His decisions are reflections of what God knows about you, and in this light, error of any kind becomes impossible. Why would you struggle so frantically to anticipate all you cannot know, when all knowledge lies behind every decision the Holy Spirit makes for you? Learn of His wisdom and His Love, and teach His answer to everyone who struggles in the dark (T-14.III.16:1-4).

If we read that passage closely we see that when we relinquish the power of decision, then what happens becomes a reflection of God’s knowledge and “error of any kind becomes impossible.” We are liberated from consequence, and our liberation is shared – it touches all our brothers and sisters.

A Course in Miracles gently insists that the other way is already here, right now. And so we stop looking for alternatives and rest quietly in the sureness that God’s gift will reveal itself in Creation. It’s not a question of finding what’s lost but rather seeing what is.

This experience is simply the decision to access the part our mind that is “part of the Christ Mind” (C-6.4:1). It is not separate from us in any way. It is not a mystery to solved, a ritual to be perfected or secret to be divined. It is inherent in us; it is us. That is why A Course in Miracles teaches us that we are the Holy Spirit’s “manifestation in this world” (C-6.5:1). We are the Holy Spirit and we know the Peace of God when we choose to let go of the ego’s habit of judgment which always serves only its own imagined needs and wants.

But how do we do this?

First, we have to see that at the most basic and simple level we are not joyful with the ego’s machinations. Our lives are not working.

Thus – second – we calmly and patiently give attention to what the ego is and how it works. We observe our habit of selfishness and aggression and so forth. In doing so, sooner or later, we begin to see how shallow and rootless what we call the ego – what we call the self – actually is.

When we have accepted our misery and looked at its perceived cause (the ego and its decisions), then we naturally enter the Thetfordian space: we see and declare and accept that there must be another way. And so our attention shifts: we begin to give attention to this other way. The ego says we are meant to seek for it and gladly encourages us to become spiritual searchers. The ego loves a project! But A Course in Miracles (or another spiritual path or practice) gently insists that the other way is already given. It is already here, right now. And so we stop looking and rest quietly in the sureness that God’s gift will reveal itself in Creation. It’s not a question of finding what’s lost but rather seeing what is.

Sometimes when I write or talk this way – the Holy Spirit and Jesus are just metaphors – people get upset and defensive. It’s okay. I am merely witnessing to what works for me – to what has been helpful for me. It may or may not be helpful for you, and you should not be shy about either questioning me or simply moving on.

It is always the ego who insists there is a right way and a wrong way and refuses  to abide by those who choose against what it considers right. But the Holy Spirit only sees a multitude of equal ways because all of them lead in the end to the knowledge that we are already home in God, in what is. No journey was needed because no home was ever left.

We are called simply to allow Truth to be true. We are called to gently witness unto reality, understanding that awareness is reality’s only condition. We are called to embrace the equality of all our brothers and sisters, from bluets to squirrels to people, past, present and future. It is all there, all given, and the Holy Spirit knows this because we know it and because we and the Holy Spirit are simply this knowing, briefly manifest in bodies, briefly manifest in ideas.

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  1. Hi Sean,

    I think when I first started studying the course, my ideas about the Holy Spirit was a little more concrete, but as I see the course as more about idealism and symbolism, in that everything is an idea, I am seeing the Holy Spirit as more of an idea or symbol.

    Interestingly, in the FIP Edition of the course, it says that the Holy Spirit’s function is symbolic. In the earlier editions it simply says that the Holy Spirit itself is symbolic. If we look to the course as a course of ideas and symbolism, I think we can see that the course speaks of both the ego and the Holy Spirit as symbolic.

    For example the course says: The separation is merely another term for a split mind. The ego is the symbol of separation, just as the Holy Spirit is the symbol of peace. ~ACIM

    Eric: The course also says that the Holy Spirit is the idea of healing. It also speaks of the ego as an idea and that we not only make an ego for ourselves, but for anyone that comes into our lives, whether physically or not.

    The course also states: The body exists in a world that seems to contain two voices fighting for its possession. ~ACIM

    Eric: I think if we look at the key word “seems”, then what is being said about the ego and the Holy Spirit is very much symbolic. It is like when the course says the separation is real enough in time, though not in eternity, because the separation seems real enough due to belief and identification.

    This is why I feel that the theory of “pure non-dualism” is actually rather dualistic itself, because it becomes another theology in which as the course says, says there is a light, but emphasizes the distance.

    This is also probably why I don’t care too much for the “outside time and space” term so much, because it implies location and something other than what is. Time and space are merely ideas and constructs that are identified within the conceptual mind. This is why nothing can really be outside time and space, but more of a dis-identifying with the idea of time and space.

    We are literally at home in God dreaming of exile, or in other words, we are at home in God, but instead are choosing to put our attention on our own ideas; with form, and time and space and identifying with these as the ultimate Reality.


    1. It was more concrete in the beginning for me as well – in part because I was trying to keep the wine in the same old wine skin. But that doesn’t work and for whatever reason I saw that and was able to be open to another way of reading and learning. I wonder sometimes to what extend early versions of the course reflect Thetford’s light touch – he was always very clear that ACIM was simply another, a contemporary, expression of the perennial philosophy. Over time, as custodianship of the course shifted and evolved, I think its simplicity and clarity grew murky and literal readings – which objectify the course and make it a matter of belief rather than actualization – became the norm. And I agree with your sense that pure non-dualism is really just another idea, and thus part of a dualistic mindset. Part of the problem is that language is inherently separative, inherently dualistic. It can only gesture at truths, not be true. I was saying to a friend recently, there is no such thing as non-fiction. Everything in language is fictional!

      On the other hand, what do I know?

      Hope your weekend is going well . . .

      ~ Sean

    2. Also, whenever the word “seems” crops up in this regard I am reminded of Wallace Stevens’ wonderful poem The Emperor of Ice Cream.

      Call the roller of big cigars,
      The muscular one, and bid him whip
      In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
      Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
      As they are used to wear, and let the boys
      Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
      Let be be finale of seem.
      The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

      Take from the dresser of deal.
      Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
      On which she embroidered fantails once
      And spread it so as to cover her face.
      If her horny feet protrude, they come
      To show how cold she is, and dumb.
      Let the lamp affix its beam.
      The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

      “Let be be finale of seem.” Beneath the shallow perceptions of life lies truth – what is – and all our seems are but veils that keep that truth from us. No more becoming! Only being . . .

  2. I love synchronicity. Over the last day or two it has dawned on me that that when I “ask the Holy Spirit” for another way to see something, I am not contacting someone/something else, but the asking itself confirms that I have chosen the view of that non-ego part of me, and I am already restored to sanity. Calling it Higher Self reminds me that actually it is me.
    Thank you.

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