X: The Confusion of Pain and Joy
- The Kingdom is the result of premises, just as this world is. You may have carried the ego’s reasoning to its logical conclusion, which is total confusion about everything. If you really saw this result you could not want it. The only reason you could possibly want any part of it is because you do not see the whole of it. You are willing to look at the ego’s premises, but not at their logical outcome. Is it not possible that you have done the same thing with the premises of God? Your creations are the logical outcome of His premises. His thinking has established them for you. They are exactly where they belong. They belong in your mind as part of your identification with His, but your state of mind and your recognition of what is in it depend on what you believe about your mind. Whatever these beliefs may be, they are the premises that will determine what you accept into your mind.
- It is surely clear that you can both accept into your mind what is not there and deny what is. Yet the function God Himself gave your mind through His you may deny, but you cannot prevent. It is the logical outcome of what you are. The ability to see a logical outcome depends on the willingness to see it, but its truth has nothing to do with your willingness. Truth is God’s will. Share His will and you share what He knows. Deny His Will as yours, and you are denying His Kingdom and yours.
- The Holy Spirit will direct you only so as to avoid pain. Surely no one would object to this goal if he recognized it. The problem is not whether what the Holy Spirit says is true, but whether you want to listen to what He says. You no more recognize what is painful then you know what is joyful, and are, in fact, very apt to confuse the two. The Holy Spirit’s main function is to teach you to tell them apart. What is joyful to you is painful to the ego, and as long as you are in doubt about what you are, you will be confused about joy and pain. This confusion is the cause of the whole idea of sacrifice. Obey the Holy Spirit, and you will be giving up the ego. But you will be sacrificing nothing. On the contrary, you will be gaining everything. If you believe this, there would be no conflict.
- That is why you need to demonstrate the obvious to yourself. It is not obvious to you. You believe that doing the opposite of God’s Will can be better for you. You also believe that it is possible to do the opposite of God’s Will. Therefore, you believe that an impossible choice is open to you, and one which is both fearful and desirable. Yet God wills. He does not wish. Your will is as powerful as His because it is His. The ego’s wishes do not mean anything, because the ego wishes for the impossible. You can wish for the impossible, but you can will only with God. This is the ego’s weakness and your strength.
- The Holy Spirit always sides with you and with your strength. As long as you avoid His guidance in any way, you want to be weak. Yet weakness is frightening. What else, then, can this decision mean except that you want to be fearful? The Holy Spirit never asks for sacrifice, but the ego always does. When you are confused about this distinction in motivation, it can only be due to projection. Projection is a confusion in motivation, and given this confusion, trust becomes impossible. No one gladly obeys a guide he does not trust, but this does not mean that the guide is untrustworthy. In this case, it always means that the follower is. However, this, too, is merely a matter of his belief. Believing that he can betray, he believes that everything can betray him. Yet this is only because he has elected to follow false guidance. Unable to follow this guidance without fear, he associates fear with guidance, and refuses to follow any guidance at all. If the result of this decision is confusion, this is hardly surprising.
- The Holy Spirit is perfectly trustworthy, as you are. God Himself trusts you, and therefore your trustworthiness is beyond question. It will always remain beyond question, however much you may question it. I said before that you are the Will of God. His Will is not an idle wish, and your identification with His Will is not optional, since it is what you are. Sharing His Will with me is not really open to choice, though it may seem to be. The whole separation lies in this error. The only way out of the error is to decide that you do not have to decide anything. Everything has been given you by God’s decision. That is His Will, and you cannot undo it.
- Even the relinquishment of your false decision-making prerogative, which the ego guards so jealously, is not accomplished by your wish. It was accomplished for you by the Will of God, Who has not left you comfortless. His Voice will teach you how to distinguish between pain and joy and will lead you out of the confusion you have made. There is no confusion in the mind of a Son of God, whose will must be the Will of the Father, because the Father’s Will is His Son.
- Miracles are in accord with the Will of God. Who’s Will you do not know because you are confused about what you will. This means that you are confused about what you are. If you are God’s Will and do not accept His Will, you are denying joy. The miracle is therefore a lesson in what joy is. Being a lesson in sharing it is a lesson in love, which is joy. Every miracle is thus a lesson in truth, and by offering truth you are learning the difference between pain and joy.
God’s Kingdom is founded upon the principles of love, peace, and joy while this world is founded upon the premise of chaos, entropy, and pain. While there can be no conclusion of God’s Kingdom because it is Spirit which dwells in timelessness, eternity, life everlasting – the conclusion of the world is decay and death.
It is important to remind ourselves that when Jesus talks about our minds He is not referring to our human brain, He is referring to our spirit, our true and everlasting self. It is our minds that ego has entranced; it is our minds that have put us in a state of separation and unawareness of God and His Kingdom. But yet what we believe about our minds determines what we accept into them.
Our minds can believe truth and our minds can believe lies. And yet our minds belong to God and so no matter what we believe, it does not change this fact. We cannot separate ourselves from God for we are God’s Will. We can deny His Will as ours, but when we deny God’s Will we are denying our own will for He created us like Him. Denying God then is going to lead to pain and confusion – not because God is mean and punishes us and enjoys inflicting pain upon those who do not appreciate and obey Him. Denying God we deny ourselves what we are – we deny ourselves love, peace, and joy and all the other attributes and gifts of God. Denying God we have only the ego’s lies, the ego’s substitutes, the ego’s weirdness and insanity.
The Voice for God is within each one of us. It does not matter who we are, what country we come from, if we are rich or poor, literate or illiterate, beyond religion, beyond politics, beyond government or any power on earth – Holy Spirit is instilled within each one of us equally. His guidance will always lead to joy. Joy however is always painful to the ego and so as long as we are in doubt about what we are, we will not understand the difference between joy and pain.
This is why it always feels like such a sacrifice to give up things that are not good for us in the first place. Giving up substance abuse is not a sacrifice but to the ego it is. Giving up cheating is not a sacrifice but to the ego it is. Giving up spite is not a sacrifice but to the ego it is. Obeying Holy Spirit, we give up pain and the only thing we “sacrifice” is the ego which only brings us decay, destruction, and death. Giving up the ego, we gain everything and lose what amounts to nothing. Once we come to know this as truth and believe in it, our minds will have no conflict!
When we believe that opposing God’s Will makes things better for us, we believe in an impossible choice. We desire that which is fearful and painful. Fear and pain are not God’s Will, they are mere ego wishes. Ego wishes cannot prevail against the will of God and we are God’s Will. Created by God and for God, we can only wish for the impossible. Our wills will never go along with the mere wishes of the ego for our wills are strong in God.
Holy Spirit always sides with us and our strength in God. If we fail to listen to the Voice for God, we are choosing to be weak, to be afraid, to suffer pain and loss. Holy Spirit never asks for us to give something up; it is the ego that demands sacrifice. We are not to confuse this issue, but it happens to us all the time. We think we are listening to the Voice for God, but it is the clamor of the ego misleading us, asking us to sacrifice our goodness, our love, our peace, and joy in order to make something happen in the world. Ego loves to befuddle our concept of God, to project its own falseness, untrustworthiness, and confusion upon God. When we follow the voice which tells us how special we are, how anointed, how much more we know about God than other people do, we are apt to do things that later we regret. People end up bitter and suspicious about guidance from the Voice for God because they have fallen victim or witnessed others falling victim to listening to the wrong voice.
However, just because we may have been misled by the wrong voice takes nothing away from the fact that Holy Spirit will always be on our side to make us strong and remind us of what we really are. Holy Spirit is entirely trustworthy and so are we. God made us. He has put His trust in us. Our trustworthiness is ordained by God. In my own life, I had to learn that the voice in my head that scolded, lectured, called me names, and woke me up at night with shame and sorrow was not Holy Spirit! The voice in my head that told me to give up certain foods for God was not Holy Spirit! The voice in my head that ridiculed and mocked me was not Holy Spirit!
Holy Spirit is the quiet inner voice which speaks to us of our strengths and goodness. Holy Spirit never tells us that we are more than or less than other people, but rather reminds us that we are God’s Will, that we are not flesh and blood but Spirit with the spiritual qualities of God. We are not personalities, we are not our moods, we are not our likes and dislikes, we are not our physical forms – we are love, we are joy, we are peace. We are the Will of God. This is something that nobody can take from us nor can we ever lose. It goes beyond any choice or decision that we can make – it is just a fact.
When we realize that we really have no say about what we are, we can be free of the ego who tells us that we can choose. No matter how much we may wish that we do not belong to God, our Sonship was accomplished by His Will. No matter how far our wish to not belong to God and His Kingdom may seem to take us, the Voice for God within each one of us knows the difference between pain and joy and will lead us out of any confusion we may find ourselves in! For there is nothing but certainty and knowledge in God’s Will.
These concepts may be difficult to grasp but they are very real ideas that will free your mind from the doctrines that would teach that we are unworthy, that we are hopeless dirtbags, that we are underlings in God’s Kingdom. The ego has projected its own wishes upon our theological doctrines making God out to be a physical entity that goes to battle against His Creations, keeps us in state of fear and trembling, and saves some while punishing the many. The ego sanctions all sorts of atrocities against flesh and blood and calls itself God. This confuses us about not only who God is but what we are as His Creations.
Miracles are in harmony with God’s Will! As God’s Will, you have joy. In God’s Kingdom to have is to be and so to have joy is to be joy. The miracle, Jesus says, is a lesson in what joy is. Pay particular attention to the logical conclusion of this premise for it is the way in which we demonstrate an extraordinary life in the otherwise dreary world of perception. We are to share joy to become joy. When we share, we love. And love is joy. Love and joy are truth for love and joy are virtues that expand and extend outward forever. When we offer this truth, we learn the difference between pain and joy.
 A Course in Miracles. Chapter 7 The gifts of the kingdom X The confusion of joy and pain. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
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