Please Take What?

I have often heard students claim that doing anything in the world as an expression of the Holy Spirit’s plan or an attempt to save the world goes against the Course’s teaching about the illusory nature of the world. If you truly grasped the real depths of the Course, they say, you would realize that all of that is beside the point. When I hear such statements I usually wonder how they account for Jesus instructing Helen to scribe the Course, which, after all, was a behavior in the world. To illustrate my point I have devised the following humorous dialogue between Jesus and Helen on the night he first asked her to take down the Course. Here is how Helen might have responded if she “truly grasped the real depths of the Course.”

Jesus: This is a course in miracles. Please take notes.[1]

Helen: Notes? Do you mean with paper and pencil? I am sorry, but I cannot do that. Those things are illusions. If I did as you say, I would be affirming that pencils and papers are real. I would be making the world itself real.

J: You use paper and pencil all the time. Why is it suddenly so objectionable now?

H: It’s different to use them because a divine being asked me to. That would imply that the Divine is aware of pencils and paper, and cares about physical forms, and that would mean that the world is real.

J: But this is the role I have chosen for you. This is your function in the world’s salvation.

H: How could wielding an illusory pencil be my function? I’m afraid you have it all wrong. My function is simply to forgive, in the privacy of my mind, wherever I am. And if you will just let me be, I’ll get back to doing that.

J: But the role I have chosen for you is very important. In this world it has been given few to give a gift to God as you will do.[2]

H: That sure sounds like the voice of specialness to me, promising me some important role. If you were really Jesus, would you be sweet-talking me with promises of being ever-so-special?

J: People need this book. Look about the world, and see the suffering there. Is not your heart willing to bring your weary brothers rest?[3]

H: Their salvation is important, I agree, but it is none of my business. All I need do is accept salvation into my own mind. Since we all share a single Mind, once salvation comes into my mind, it automatically spreads throughout the one Mind of which I am part. It is very simple. See?

J: But our brothers have a difficult time receiving things directly mind-to-mind. They are too bound to their body’s senses. They cannot hear my voice as you can. If I am going to get a message through to them, it will have to be through their senses. A body they can see. A voice they understand and listen to.[4] And, I might add, a book they can read. And what they read might just affect their minds.

H: I question this whole line of reasoning. How can people need our help? There isn’t really anyone out there. Why are you so anxious to help a situation that does not exist?

J: It is not just they who need your help. Stop a while, long enough to think of this: You have perhaps been seeking for salvation without recognizing where to look. Whoever asks your help can show you where. What greater gift than this could you be given?[5]

H: But helping others doesn’t gain salvation for me. It actually blocks me from receiving it, because while I am out there trying to take responsibility for them, I am overlooking my one responsibility: to accept the Atonement for myself.

J: Helen, the world situation is worsening to an alarming degree. People all over the world are being called on to help, and are making their individual contributions as part of an overall prearranged plan. Part of the plan is taking down A Course in Miracles, and I am fulfilling my part in the agreement, as you will fulfill yours. You will be using abilities you developed long ago, and which you are not really ready to use again. Because of the acute emergency, however, the usual slow, evolutionary process is being by‑passed in what might best be described as a “celestial speed‑up.”[6]

H: Excuse me. Are you talking about a prearranged plan in response to an acute emergency? Are you talking about Heaven speeding up its efforts to help the world in response to a crisis on earth? You can’t really mean that.

J: And why not?

H: Well, if Heaven actually saw that there was an acute emergency on the earth, or any kind of problem, and then made plans to solve the problem (especially prearranged plans), and then went into heavenly high-gear (your “celestial speed-up”), that would make the whole thing real. That cannot be, since there is no problem. And Heaven can’t know about a problem that is not there. It was all over long ago, and in fact never happened in the first place. Non-dual reality could never have noticed something so miniscule and non-existent as a world of space and time that needed to be saved. Therefore, my good savior, there can in fact be no celestial speed-up.

J: Where are you getting this stuff?

H: From A Course in Miracles.

J: But I haven’t written it yet.

H: And you never will.




[1] Absence from Felicity, p. 199

[2] See The Gifts of God, p. 128.

[3] W-pI.191.10:7-8

[4] M-12.3:5-6

[5] P-3.III.7:7-9

[6] See Absence from Felicity, p. 200.


[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]