Reason and the Mysteries
There is some division among ACIM students over the use of mind, logic and reason in pursuing the objectives of the Course. Some think we should just study it and accept what it seems to say without question, whereas others see many items that seem to warrant greater understanding and ask questions to seek more depth in the meaning.
Actually, this type of division is very natural and is found to some degree in every group and organization as one side represents mind and the other emotion and the heart. Those polarized in mind are full of questions and are always seeking greater understanding, whereas those centered in emotion just like to accept things at face value and move on.
We are all influenced by both emotion and mind, but each individual tends to settle in one direction or the other. The mature person will balance the two, but many focus so much on one side that they miss the benefits of the other.
For instance, some who are centered in emotion will love the Course teachings on love, peace and awakening, and dismiss the idea of using mind and reason to understand the mysteries and nuances of the Course.
The question then arises as to whether it is of value to pursue the Course using mind, asking questions and using reason to see beyond what is written in black and white.
I submit that the use of mind in succeeding at understanding the Course is invaluable and will speed the student toward eventual graduation from the it. The understanding of any true piece of the mystery of existence can only help the student, not hinder.
The use of mind and reason is accepted by the Course itself.
“What reason points to you can see, because the witnesses on its behalf are clear. Only the totally insane can disregard them, and you have gone past this. Reason is a means that serves the Holy Spirit’s purpose in its own right.” T-21.V.7
Reason takes us to the source of ideas:
“reason sees the source of an idea as what will make it either true or false.” T-22.II.5
Reason is an important attribute of the higher part of our minds that can aid in our journey back home:
“The part of mind where reason lies was dedicated, by your will in union with your Father’s, to the undoing of insanity. Here was the Holy Spirit’s purpose accepted and accomplished, both at once. Reason is alien to insanity, and those who use it have gained a means which cannot be applied to sin. Knowledge is far beyond attainment of any kind. But reason can serve to open doors you closed against it. T-21.V.9
Here it calls this higher mind our “other self.”
“Reason lies in the other self you have cut off from your awareness.” T-21.V.4
The ego fights against the power of reason:
“Consider what the ego wants defenses for. Always to justify what goes against the truth, flies in the face of reason and makes no sense.” T-22.V.2
The ego is “devoid of reason” and doesn’t ask questions related to it:
“How can the segment of the mind devoid of reason understand what reason is, or grasp the information it would give? All sorts of questions may arise in it, but if the basic question stems from reason, it will not ask it.” T-21.V.4
Reason is a key ingredient in the undoing of the ego:
“The introduction of reason into the ego’s thought system is the beginning of its undoing, for reason and the ego are contradictory. Nor is it possible for them to coexist in your awareness. For reason’s goal is to make plain, and therefore obvious. You can see reason. This is not a play on words… reason sees through errors,” T-22.III.1
The Course gives this advice:
“Listen to Him Who speaks with reason, and brings your reason into line with His.” T-21.VI.8
“Reason cannot see sin but can see errors, and leads to their correction. It does not value them, but their correction.” T-21.VI.1
“You do not leave insanity by going somewhere else. You leave it simply by accepting reason where madness was. Madness and reason see the same things, but it is certain that they look upon them differently.” T-21.VI.3
Overall, the Course tells us that we gain the ability to transcend the erroneous thinking of the ego and gain the ability of pure reason through the Holy Spirit, which links us with higher mind, for reason is a quality of the mind.
Unfortunately, many spiritual seekers dismiss the mind as something that needs to be ignored. Many teachers of meditation say that we should be “mindless” and follow the script of the ego mentioned in the Course:
“the ego believes that mind is dangerous, and that to make mindless is to heal. But to make mindless is impossible, since it would mean to make nothing out of what God created.” T-8.IX.6
They may have a point when talking about the lower mind used by the ego, but the higher or real Mind “never sleeps.”
“The mind is very powerful, and never loses its creative force. It never sleeps. Every instant it is creating. It is hard to recognize that thought and belief combine into a power surge that can literally move mountains.” T-2.VI.9
If we wish to correct the errors of separation and awaken to true reality, the mind is essential:
“It is essential to remember that only the mind can create, and that correction belongs at the thought level. ” T-2.V.1
So, how important is mind?
“If I did not think I would not exist, because life is thought.” W-pI.54.2
Then the ultimate mind is from God:
“Father, Your Mind created all that is, Your Spirit entered into it, Your Love gave life to it.” W-pII.263.1
When we as humans use reason, mind and thought we become seekers and ask questions, yet many in the various spiritual traditions discourage such things. A popular Christian bumper sticker a while back read: “I found it!” This was a declaration that they had found the truth and there were no more questions and nothing more to seek.
Indeed, some religions excommunicate their members when they ask too many questions.
Since there is no organized body or authorized theology with ACIM, there is nothing to get expelled from, but there are times that seeking, reasoning and questioning does draw some criticism. Such a person is sometimes accused of being in the ego, insinuating that if he were not controlled by the ego he would not be delving into anything not accepted by the common thoughtform.
So let us look at the only real authority on the Course, which is the Course itself, and see what it says about the matter. Does it approve of seeking and asking questions?
First, it tells us who doesn’t approve – the ego:
“Its dictates, then, can be summed up simply as: “Seek and do not find.” This is the one promise the ego holds out to you, and the one promise it will keep.” T-12.IV.1
It repeats this idea several times. Here is one more:
“the ego’s basic doctrine, “Seek but do not find.” W-pI.71.4
The ego does not want you to seek and find because “The ego cannot afford to know anything.” T-7.VI.4
“true perception, a state of clarity which the ego, fearful of being judged truly, MUST avoid.” UR T 4 F 13
The Course is quite encouraging about asking questions and using the Holy Spirit to receive and verify answers:
“In all these diversionary tactics, however, the one question that is never asked by those who pursue them is, “What for?” This is the question that you must learn to ask in connection with everything” T-4.V.6 The ego does not know what a real question is, although it asks an endless number” T-8.IX.1A Voice(God) will answer every question you ask, and a vision will correct the perception of everything you see.” T-12.VIII.4
As far as seeking goes, the Course speaks very positively about it:
“To seek and not to find is hardly joyous. Is this the promise you would keep? The Holy Spirit offers you another promise, and one that will lead to joy. For His promise is always, “Seek and you will find,” and under His guidance you cannot be defeated. His is the journey to accomplishment, and the goal He sets before you He will give you.” T-12.IV.4
“It is impossible that anyone could seek it (the truth) truly, and would not succeed.” W-pI.107.6
It is not the Holy Spirit that discourages questions. Instead, the Course says this:
“The enemies of love do not want questions: With love as enemy must cruelty become a god, and gods demand that those who worship them obey their dictates and refuse to question them. Harsh punishment is meted out relentlessly to those who ask if the demands are sensible or even sane.” W-pI.170.6
It is recommended that we ask sincere and meaningful questions:
“A pseudo-question has no answer. It dictates the answer even as it asks… An honest question is a learning tool that asks for something that you do not know. It does not set conditions for response, but merely asks what the response should be. But no one in a conflict state is free to ask this question,” T-27.IV.5
“‘Seek and ye shall find’ does not mean that you should seek blindly and desperately for something you would not recognize. Meaningful seeking is consciously undertaken, consciously organized and consciously directed. The goal must be formulated clearly and kept in mind. Learning and wanting to learn are inseparable.” T-4.V.5.
“Perhaps there is another way to look at this. What can I lose by asking? Thus you now can ask a question that makes sense, and so the answer will make sense as well.” T-30.I.12
Many more positive references could be supplied, showing that ACIM approves of seeking and asking questions. Since this is the case, why would some discourage such things as being motivated by the ego?
There are several statements that seem to give ammunition to this idea. Here is one:
“The ego analyzes; the Holy Spirit accepts. The appreciation of wholeness comes only through acceptance.” T-11.V.13
From this some students conclude that seeking, asking questions and analysis are related to the ego and should be avoided. Instead, we should just go with the flow and accept.
But accept what?
One can accept truth as well as error, and we certainly do not want to be on the side of the ego accepting error as truth.
“the ego proceeds to the next step in its thought system: Error is real and truth is error.” T-11.V.14
Instead of taking the passage concerning analysis in isolation, we need to examine the rest of the text which reveals the big picture. It continues:
“for to analyze means to break down or to separate out. The attempt to understand totality by breaking it down is clearly the characteristically contradictory approach of the ego to everything. The ego believes that power, understanding and truth lie in separation, and to establish this belief it must attack. Unaware that the belief cannot be established, and obsessed with the conviction that separation is salvation, the ego attacks everything it perceives by breaking it into small, disconnected parts, without meaningful relationships and therefore without meaning. The ego will always substitute chaos for meaning, for if separation is salvation, harmony is threat.” T-11.V.13
Far from reinforcing the idea that we should just blindly accept and not use our minds, these important words inform us as to the deceptive tactics of the ego in creating chaos.
It is a master at creating chaos because “The ego’s logic is as impeccable as that of the Holy Spirit, because your mind has the means at its disposal to side with Heaven or earth, as it elects. But again, remember that both are in you. T-5.V.1
Yes, the ego is great at arguing, but it has a major flaw in its conclusions:
“You may have carried the ego’s reasoning to its logical conclusion, which is total confusion about everything.” T-7.X.1
Instead of telling us that all use of mind, analysis and questioning are wrong, the passage under consideration reveals the mystery behind the master tactic of the ego to create chaos and confusion so that the truth will not be realized. And what is this tactic?
It is “to analyze means to break down or to separate out.”
“But isn’t that a good approach?” one may ask. Sometimes you have to see the separate parts of a thing to understand the whole.
True but this has nothing to do with the ego’s reasoning. It doesn’t break down and analyze to find the truth but instead is “obsessed with the conviction that separation is salvation, the ego attacks everything it perceives by breaking it into small, disconnected parts, without meaningful relationships and therefore without meaning.” T-11.V.13
The sincere seeker of truth may brake the whole into its parts and put them together again to enrich the understanding, but not the ego. It breaks the whole into parts and keeps them in separation. Looking only at the separate parts creates chaos and confusion. The advantage of dealing with the parts is that the ego can substitute truth for error and direct the needed parts to proving error is truth.
Let us pick a controversial topic today, such as global warming/climate change and see how the ego deals with it. The first thing to realize is that the ego uses the same tactics on both sides of something controversial like this. It doesn’t care if you are on the right or the left. It only cares that you will not see the whole picture and support confusion.
When you see people arguing on either side of this issue do you ever see them attempting to paint a picture of the whole problem and a wholeness solution?
Instead, what we see are those breaking the argument down to selective parts and using the part as proof of the whole.
Here’s an example. In the summer there is a particularly hot spell in your part of the world, though temperatures may be quite normal in other parts. Those representing the ego will say this is proof that we are having global warming and we must act.
Then when winter comes and there is a cold spell, the other side will say, “Doesn’t look like the earth is warming to me.”
We have a period where there are more serious hurricanes than normal. One side will proclaim they are due to global warming and must act.
Then we have a period where there are fewer hurricanes than normal and the other side will say this is proof there is no problem.
Arguing using only a piece of the whole will not give us the whole truth, but lead to error and confusion instead. The only way to get to the truth of this or any other controversy is to look at the whole picture with all of the parts put together. Only then can two see as one and be in alignment with the Holy Spirit which does see the whole.
The problem is that “The ability to see a logical outcome depends on the willingness to see it.” T-7.X.2 Too many are just not willing to see the whole rather than the isolated part that supports their bias.
We must remember that all things were created by the mind of God and we share that mind. To not use that mind with its powers of reason is to neglect who we are.
“Alone we can do nothing, but together our minds fuse into something whose power is far beyond the power of its separate parts. By not being separate, the Mind of God is established in ours and as ours. This Mind is invincible because it is undivided.” T-8.V.1
We’ll end this chapter with a passage that presents a wonderful ideal to which students can aspire:
“Yet I do want to share my mind with you because we are of one Mind, and that Mind is ours. See only this Mind everywhere, because only this is everywhere and in everything. It is everything because it encompasses all things within itself. Blessed are you who perceive only this, because you perceive only what is true.” T-7.V.10
Read the Introduction HERE, Read Chapter One HERE. Chapter Two HERE, Chapter Three HERE, Chapter Four HERE, Chapter Five HERE Chapter Six HERE, Chapter Seven HERE, Chapter Eight HERE, Chapter Nine HERE, Chapter Ten HERE, Chapter Eleven HERE, Chapter Twelve HERE, Chapter Thirteen HERE, Chapter Fourteen HERE, Fifteen HERE, Sixteen HERE, Seventeen HERE, Eighteen HERE, Nineteen HERE