[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]
Recently, a friend asked me what, according to the Course, happened to Jesus after his resurrection. I wrote the following summary:
I’ll try to give you a brief account of what I see the Course saying about Jesus’ resurrection and after. The crucifixion was planned as a teaching demonstration, showing that forgiveness, defenselessness, and invulnerability are valid under even the most extreme conditions. During the crucifixion, Jesus fully learned what he was teaching; specifically, he fully learned the unreality of death (which the Course sees as a principle that takes many, many forms). He thus completed his own learning (before that, he still experienced occasional “slips into impatience”–Urtext), and this is what led to the resurrection. The resurrection apparently was the key demonstration, a demonstration of the true nature of reality—“ that it is impossible to kill God’s Son [all of us]; nor can his life in any way be changed by sin and evil, malice, fear or death” (C-5.3:5). If we can take that as the key demonstration of the nature of things—that life has all the power and that death (in all its forms) is powerless—then we can hasten the completion of our own learning.
The resurrection was not so much the reappearance of his body (though it did reappear) as the disappearance of his body. That disappearance represented the mind being free of the limits imposed on it by the body. He calls it “the rolling away of the stone.” The resurrection signified the perfect healing of Jesus’ own mind, the full attainment of right-mindedness. This, then, was automatically followed by the ascension (C-6.1:1), which was what the Course calls the last step (which God Himself takes)—the complete awakening from the dream of separation from God.
For Jesus to reach to attain perfect healing/right-mindedness had ramifications for all of us. In fact, he claims that when he arose, he took all of us with him. “He will take you with him, for he did not go alone. 10 And you were with him then, as you are now” (M-23.6:9-10). In some sense, the dream was over for everyone; everyone awoke. He apparently experienced his awakening, then, as a collective event. Obviously, though, that wasn’t our conscious experience. The more conscious effect of this claimed collective awakening was that the Holy Spirit was accessible to people in a way He hadn’t been before. To view this from another angle, the Atonement—the power by which our errors are shined away—became activated, or “set in motion” (C-6.2:4). In fact, when the Course refers to “the Atonement” as an event (T-3.I.7:8-9), it is referring to the resurrection, not the crucifixion.
Jesus’ awakening from time and space didn’t mean, however, that he stopped being a helping influence. I am sure the Course would say that the vast majority of his mind is resting in Heaven beyond form, but clearly a part of his mind is very active within the dream. Instead of his helpfulness ceasing with his awakening, the opposite happened. By being no longer confined to a body, he could be everywhere at once (M-23.3:10-11), so that the helpfulness he displayed during his life to those around him he could now be extended to everyone. In one place he says that the reason he was born was to show that he could stay in communication with his followers even once his body was gone: “The Prince of Peace was born to re-establish the condition of love by teaching that communication remains unbroken even if the body is destroyed, provided that you see not the body as the necessary means of communication” (T-15.XI.7:2). Indeed, he suggests that just as he appeared to his followers back then, he still appears to people. Speaking of those who have reached the place of total transcendence that he has, he says, “And they will appear when and where it is helpful for them to do so” (M-26.2:3).
The Course is clear that he is working with every single person simultaneously, on a non-stop basis, working in our unconscious. “My role is to separate the true from the false in your own unconscious, so it can break through the barriers the ego has set up and shine into your mind” (original version of T-4.III.2:5). It’s as if he is having a constant dialogue with some deeper level of our mind. For instance, he says things like, “Freud’s psyche was essentially a good and evil picture, with very heavy weight given to the evil. This is because every time I mentioned the Atonement to him, which was quite often, he responded by defending his theory more and more against it” (Urtext). And like, “My resurrection comes again each time I lead a brother safely to the place at which the journey ends and is forgot” (W-pI.rV.In.7:1) Though he still helps those who don’t acknowledge him, he openly invites us into a conscious relationship with him: “Let my relationship to you be real to you” (T-17.III.10:2). “It is possible to read his [Jesus’] words and benefit from them without accepting him into your life. Yet he would help you yet a little more if you will share your pains and joys with him, and leave them both to find the peace of God” (C-5.6:6-7).
He claims that he is actually the leader in the plan of Atonement (T-1.III.1:1). This is mentioned a few times. This is not because he was the first to fully awaken—the Course never really claims or implies that (so far as I can see). Rather, it is because he was the first to complete his own part in the plan (C-6.2:2). The Course teaches that we all have a special part in the plan for salvation, which it calls our special function, our unique contribution to the overall plan. The essence of it is being truly helpful to others, but we each do this in ways suited to our special strengths. Because Jesus was the first to fulfill his own part of the plan perfectly, he became the leader in the whole plan. He clearly regards this work he is doing after his physical life was over as his greater role: “His little life on earth was not enough to teach the mighty lesson that he learned for all of you. He will remain with you to lead you from the hell you made to God” (C-5.5:3-4).
Actually, his ultimate special function—like everyone’s—is to save the whole world, and he now completes this greater function through us. “I have said before that I am in charge of the Atonement. This is only because I completed my part in it as a man, and can now complete it through others” (T-4.VI.6:5-6). Thus, he is not only leading people to their own awakening, he is selecting and working with individuals as channels for his influence in the world. “I repeat that I do not choose God’s channels wrongly….My chosen receiving and sending channels cannot fail, because I will lend them my strength as long as theirs is wanting” (original version of T-4.VI.6:3, 7). Obviously, he characterized Helen as one of these channels.
Theologically, in his role as the leader of the plan, he is junior to the Holy Spirit (even though his eternal Self—the Christ, the Self that everyone shares—is senior to the Holy Spirit). Twice he calls himself “the manifestation of the Holy Spirit” (T-12.VII.6:1; C-6.1:1). But when we all reach the state that he reached, he will no longer need to be in manifest form, no longer need to be active in a state outside the heavenly state. Then, we will all be with him beyond the limits of time, in the Heaven of God’s Love. “And you will be with him [Jesus] when time is over and no trace remains of dreams of spite in which you dance to death’s thin melody” (C-6.5:6).