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The Inner Voice

Excerpts from the Seminar held at the
Foundation for A Course in Miracles
Temecula CA

Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.


Part XI
"The Voice for God" (conclusion)

Before moving on to our final reading, let me address a question that has to do with the Holy Spirit telling us things. The question is: "If I am in traffic and am getting irritable and something in me says, 'I do not like this feeling; I would rather be peaceful than irritable in traffic'—would that be the Holy Spirit?"

No, it is really you saying that to yourself. It is the decision maker in your mind saying, "I am sick and tired of being tense, anxious, and angry all the time and I want to be peaceful." This sounds blasphemous, but when you really understand it, it is the only thing that makes sense. The Holy Spirit does not do a thing—the decision maker does everything. The Holy Spirit is a light that is just there and simply shines. We, as the decision maker, moved away from that light and plunged ourselves into the ego's darkness of hate, guilt, pain, and suffering. When we decide we have had enough, which could be symbolized by feeling or thinking we are sick and tired of being angry all the time on the freeway, and with Lesson 34 say, "I could see peace instead of this," that is the decision maker, not the Holy Spirit. It is the decision maker saying, "I have had enough. I do not want to live in the darkness. I want to live in the peace of the light." We turn to the light; we are in the light. The Holy Spirit has done nothing but remind us to choose again.

Another image you could use is that He is like a lighthouse—the symbol we use for our newsletter. A lighthouse does not do anything. It just shines. That is all He does, but we want Him to do something. Thus, if you still get irritable when you are in heavy traffic, it is you, the decision maker, who says, "I do not want to be anxious; I do not want to be uncomfortable; but I do not want to give this up." Then, of course, what people have always done is blame the Holy Spirit, Jesus, or God. Many Jews became atheists after World War II because they were basically saying God failed us—look what God let happen. Well, God does nothing; and the Holy Spirit as the reflection of God's Love does nothing; Jesus as the manifestation of the Holy Spirit does nothing. They simply are. Remember, the Course tells us, "We say 'God is,' and then we cease to speak …" (W-pI.169.5:4). Well, the Holy Spirit is that Being as a memory or thought in our split minds. It does nothing. It just is.

We are the ones who left. We are the ones who have to return. In the parable of the prodigal son, the father does not do anything. He just waits at home. It is the son who wandered off. It is the son who has to realize at some point that this is not working for him and therefore is going to go back home. The father did nothing. He did not even call the son back. But in the son's mind—I am reading into the parable a bit—was that memory of his father's love. It was that memory—just by the fact that it was there—that "called him back."

That is what it is here. Jesus does not call to us. His presence is the call, and it is always there as a reminder of the love and peace we could have if we turn away from the ego and back to him. When we do that, our experience might be that he has called to us, he has done this, he has said things, or whatever. In reality, he has not done anything. The decision maker is the problem; the decision maker is the answer. In A Course in Miracles, the decision-making part of our minds is everything. That is why this course is addressed to that part of our minds. The "you" that Jesus is continually referring to is not the "you" you see in your bathroom mirror. The "you" he is addressing is the decision maker. You know you are making progress with this course when it really dawns on you as an experience—not just as an intellectual awareness—that the "you" Jesus is addressing is not the "you" you think has been reading this. The "you" he is addressing, which is the only thing that makes sense, is the part of your mind that has chosen wrongly—it has chosen the ego—and therefore it is that part that can reverse itself.

This course, thus, is like that beacon of light. It is a reminder. It is a specific form that leads us back to the non-specific presence of Love in our right minds. That is all this course is. Note that at the very end of the text Jesus says, "My brother, choose again" (T-31.VIII.3:2). This comes in the last section called "Choose Once Again." This entire Course is about that—it is an expression in very specific form and language of that single thought, "My brother, choose again." What is involved in that is our learning that we have a mind that can choose. Our body makes choices here that have nothing to do with anything, which is exactly why the ego made up the body and the brain—so it would make all these choices that have nothing to do with anything. Thus, to truly understand the significance of that sentence, "My brother, choose again," we must realize what it is that is doing the choosing, otherwise choice makes no sense—it is totally meaningless. We must realize there is a mind that has chosen the ego that can now reverse itself.

"Let me be still and listen to the truth."

Let us look briefly at some passages at the beginning of Lesson 106 "Let me be still and listen to the truth." This will be a nice way of summarizing a lot of what we have spoken about in this class. The title itself is very helpful, because what it is saying is that we cannot listen to the truth until we are first still. What does it mean to be still? It means to quiet the raucous shrieks of the ego thought system. The phrase that occurs in the second paragraph is "the thunder of the meaningless," a wonderful phrase. The ego's voice is "the thunder of the meaningless." We cannot listen to the Voice for truth (what A Course in Miracles calls in other places the "still small voice," a phrase from Psalm 46) when we are entertaining the raucous shrieks of "the thunder of the meaningless." Therefore we have to become aware that the ego's thought system is meaningless, despite how thunderously loud it is and how powerful its echoes are as they reverberate throughout our lives. The pain, the guilt, the hate, the judgment—we must look at all that and then realize that this is what is keeping us from hearing the Voice of truth.

(W-pI.106.1:1) If you will lay aside the ego's voice, however loudly it may seem to call, if you will not accept its petty gifts that give you nothing that you really want; if you will listen with an open mind, that has not told you what salvation is …

Before we get to the punch line, this is what we are asked to do: "lay aside the ego's voice." Do not accept its petty gifts of specialness, realizing that they do not offer us anything we really want. "Listen with an open mind" means a mind that is not closed to the truth. The final characteristic of an advanced teacher of God is "open-mindedness" (M-4.X). An open mind is a mind that is no longer closed to the Voice of the Holy Spirit that would undo the guilt. The closed mind makes the guilt real, screens out the Holy Spirit, then seals in the guilt by projecting it out and making a world and a body.

When we ask for help and choose a miracle instead of a grievance, the help comes in the form of recalling the projection, unsealing the mind so we can now look at the ego with the Love of God beside us, and then when we finally look at it, it will dissolve. At that point:

(W-pI.106.1:1) …then you will hear the mighty Voice of truth, quiet in power, strong in stillness, and completely certain in Its messages.

You will not hear that Voice of truth as long as your mind is closed, as long as you think you know what salvation is. We think salvation is changing something external, or somehow atoning for the sin we have made real in our minds. All salvation is, is looking at the ego and smiling at it, not taking it seriously. That undoes the guilt. Guilt looked at the seeming sin in our minds, took it very seriously, and then the ego was off and running, and before we knew it there was a world. Undoing all that is going back and looking at the world, then looking at the guilt that made the world, without taking them seriously. That is the gentle laughter that Course speaks about.

What saves us from all of our pain and suffering is looking at the ego and smiling at the silliness of ever thinking this little thought of nothing could destroy us, Heaven, and the world. You cannot do that from the perspective of the world. You can only do that from the perspective of what the Course describes as being above the battleground and looking back down on it. Then everything does look silly.

(W-pI.106.2:1) Listen, and hear your Father speak to you through His appointed Voice, which silences the thunder of the meaningless, and shows the way to peace to those who cannot see.

But you will not hear your Father speak to you through the Holy Spirit as long as you are listening to "the thunder of the meaningless," thinking it is meaningful. Remember, this is all about being still to the ego so that you can hear the truth, bringing the darkness of the ego's illusory system to the light of the Holy Spirit's Truth.

(W-pI.106.2:2-3) Be still today and listen to the truth. Be not deceived by voices of the dead …

That is the phrase I alluded to earlier: "the voices of the dead." These are the voices of the ego thought system, which is a thought system of death:

(W-pI.106.2:3-4) …which tell you they have found the source of life and offer it to you for your belief. Attend them not, but listen to the truth.

The ego tells us the source of life is the death of God. The source of life is a thought system of specialness and separation that then is protected by hate, judgment, pain, and fear. All that is needed to have that spring to life is our belief. The ego offered it to us for our belief, and we believed the lie—hook, line, and sinker. All we have to do now is open our minds and realize there is another offering, and that we could place our belief in those gifts. In order to do that, we have to be willing to look at the ego's gifts and say, "I do not want them anymore; hate, judgment, and pain are not worth it. They may keep the separated self alive and real, but it certainly is not worth it. The pain is too excruciating and intolerable. There must be another way. There must be another voice that speaks to me."

(W-pI.106.3:1-3) Be not afraid today to circumvent the voices of the world. Walk lightly past their meaningless persuasion. Hear them not.

In order for these statements to be true for us, we first have to acknowledge that we hear these voices. You cannot let go of the ego until you first acknowledge and accept the fact that you have made it real. Only then can you listen to what Jesus is saying, and take his words to heart.

(W-pI.106.3:4-7) Be still today and listen to the truth. Go past all things which do not speak of Him Who holds your happiness within His Hand, held out to you in welcome and in love. Hear only Him today, and do not wait to reach Him longer. Hear one Voice today.

What are "all things which do not speak of Him Who holds your happiness within His Hand"? Anything that reeks of specialness and separation. Anything that has you separate and different from someone else is of the ego. Again, we are not talking about differences on the level of form; we are talking about differences on the level of content. Any thought you have about someone that you would not share with everyone—not in form but in your thought, in your mind—is of the ego. The Holy Spirit would speak to you only in terms of everyone being the same. That is how you know which voice you are listening to.

The only judgment the Holy Spirit makes is that everything the ego has taught us is wrong, because everything it has taught us is based on separation, specialness, special hate or special love, and exclusion. Everything Jesus speaks to us of is of the unity of the split mind. We all share the same ego, the same Holy Spirit, and the same power to choose between them.

To repeat, in order to hear the right-minded voice, the voice that will lead you home, you first have to acknowledge how you have listened to, and listen only to, the voice that will keep you here away from home. What will help you distinguish between the two is realizing the ego will always speak of separation, differences, and separate interests, of one or the other. The Holy Spirit would speak to you only of shared interests. As Jesus says in the text, "together, or not at all" (T-19.IV-D.12:8). We all return home together, or none of us returns home. Jesus is not talking about behavior; he is talking about your mind—how you must realize that if you are to awaken from the dream, you must bring everyone with you: the good guys and the bad guys; the people who have helped you and loved you, and the people who have hurt you, abused you, and victimized you. Then be honest when you come to Jesus and say, "I am not ready to do that yet." He will lovingly say, "Then I will wait with you until your fear lessens, and then we can take another step." That is the Voice that you know belongs to the Holy Spirit because It is gentle, kind, and it has infinite patience.

As a close I thought I would read one of Helen's poems. It is an early one. Usually I read Helen's later poems, but this is a particularly appropriate one called "They Wait" (The Gifts of God, p. 33). In this poem the "I" is us, and we are addressing God about His Voice. What is particularly nice about this poem is that it expresses our fear of hearing that Voice and choosing instead to hear the voices of the world, yet knowing that God's Word (God's Voice), as the poem says at the end, "Will hover over me till it is heard." There is that growing recognition in us that leads to our being patient and gentle with ourselves, as we know that Voice will always wait for us until our fear abates and we can turn to It.

They Wait
I did not know Your Voice. And what I heard
I did not understand. There was a Word
In which was everything. Yet all I found
In its immensity was but the sound
Of meaningless contention. I passed by
A thousand waiting angels. And as I
Rushed along vain detours I did not see
The hosts of holiness surrounding me.
Yet I will certainly return. For You
Have promised that whatever I may do,
Angels and holy hosts will wait; the Word
Will hover over me till it is heard.
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