1. The teachers of God have no set teaching level. Each teaching-learning situation involves a different relationship at the beginning, although the ultimate goal is always the same; to make of the relationship a holy relationship, in which both can look upon the Son of God as sinless. There is no one from whom a teacher of God cannot learn, so there is no one whom he cannot teach. However, from a practical point of view he cannot meet everyone, nor can everyone find him. Therefore, the plan includes very specific contacts to be made for each teacher of God. There are no accidents in salvation. Those who are to meet will meet, because together they have the potential for a holy relationship. They are ready for each other.
2. The simplest level of teaching appears to be quite superficial. It consists of what seems to be very casual encounters; a “chance” meeting of two apparent strangers in an elevator, a child who is not looking where he is going running into an adult “by chance,” two students “happening” to walk home together. These are not chance encounters. Each of them has the potential for becoming a teaching-learning situation. Perhaps the seeming strangers in the elevator will smile to one another; perhaps the adult will not scold the child for bumping into him; perhaps the students will become friends. Even at the level of the most casual encounter, it is possible for two people to lose sight of separate interests, if only for a moment. That moment will be enough. Salvation has come.
3. It is difficult to understand that levels of teaching the universal course is a concept as meaningless in reality as is time. The illusion of one permits the illusion of the other. In time, the teacher of God seems to begin to change his mind about the world with a single decision, and then learns more and more about the new direction as he teaches it. We have covered the illusion of time already, but the illusion of levels of teaching seem to be something different. Perhaps the best way to demonstrate that these levels cannot exist is simply to say that any level of the teaching-learning situation is part of God’s plan for Atonement, and His plan can have no levels, being a reflection of His Will. Salvation is always ready and always there. God’s teachers work at different levels, but the result is always the same.
4. Each teaching-learning situation is maximal in the sense that each person involved will learn the most that he can from the other person at that time. In this sense, and in this sense only, we can speak of levels of teaching. Using the term in this way, the second level of teaching is a more sustained relationship, in which, for a time, two people enter into a fairly intense teaching-learning situation and then appear to separate. As with the first level, these meetings are not accidental, nor is what appears to be the end of the relationship a real end. Again, each has learned the most he can at the time. Yet all who meet will someday meet again, for it is the destiny of all relationships to become holy. God is not mistaken in His Son.
5. The third level of teaching occurs in relationships which, once they are formed, are lifelong. These are teaching-learning situations in which each person is given a chosen learning partner who presents him with unlimited opportunities for learning. These relationships are generally few, because their existence implies that those involved have reached a stage simultaneously in which the teaching-learning balance is actually perfect. This does not mean that they necessarily recognize this; in fact, they generally do not. They may even be quite hostile to each other for some time, and perhaps for life. Yet should they decide to learn it, the perfect lesson is before them and can be learned. And if they decide to learn that lesson, they become the saviors of the teachers who falter and may even seem to fail. No teacher of God can fail to find the Help he needs.
When we decide to become a teacher of God, we are simply deciding to live for God, for as we live we teach. While within this context there seem to be levels of teaching, in the unity and oneness of Spirit, there can be no levels. My chance encounter with you may result in us both leaving the interaction a bit more enlightened. I may think, “That woman smiled at me like she knew me, and I felt as if I knew her as well, and yet it is impossible that we would know each other in the flesh. It must be that we met before.” And my consciousness for that moment and for every moment that I think of you ever after will be expanded, for I recognized you in the Spirit and you recognized me in return. These would seem like superficial teaching-learning situations, yet they come to us when we need them and remind us of our everlasting connection. We are pulled out of the small, petty, self-centered, fictional realm of isolation and separation, into the universal realm of God in these moments. We step out of our body-consciousness and into a spirit-consciousness where our affection, love, and devotion to each other was never broken or tarnished by thoughts of specialness, self-gain, or setting up a kingdom outside the reality of God.
Processing our relationships in the manner which Jesus sets forth in this section is the only sane way in which to escape the ego’s sense of guilt, shame, or specialness. The relationships we are offered in the world come with all manner of strings, baggage, demands, obligations, and calls for sacrifice. And when they end for whatever reason, the best way to view what happened is to look with honest objectivity at what was taught and what was learned. It may not be pretty, it may be painful, it may very well make you want to hang your head in shame or go after someone with vengeance, but when we take responsibility for our relationships and bring them to holiness, we learn what we taught, and we teach what we learned.
The world would have our relationships end in bitterness, accusations, victimhood, and ongoing battles enlisting others to take our side against our would-be enemy. But the holy way in which to process the end of our relationships is to learn all we can from them and give them to God. To fall into bitterness is an assault against God and our brothers, and in that realm all manner of terrible things happen to those we love the most because we do not give the ending of our relationships to God. We force our friends and family members to take sides. We rely on judges and jurors to make decisions about our children’s lives because we seem incapable to end a “second-level” teaching-learning relationship in peace and love and joy. We enrich the pockets of greedy lawyers who would much rather see us duke it out in court than to end our relationships with dignity, forgiveness, high regard, and mutual respect.
Second-level relationships do not refer only to marriages, but to friendships, organizational memberships, and other would-be lifelong commitments that end. When any relationship ends it simply means that we have taught one another all we can from that extended encounter at this time. The endings of second-level relationships are not real endings, for we are all Sons of God and have an eternal connection. When we accept and embrace this teaching, all of our previous relationships that we viewed with shame or sorrow are imbued with a sense of purpose and meaning. I thought that you treated me very shabby – and now instead of hating you for teaching me this, I love you for it. I thank you. By your shabby treatment I learned that I am worthy of being loved and cherished and I knew to look for that in my next relationship.
When we use the concept of levels of teaching as a learning aid in our Teacher of God training, we then learn to appreciate and recognize the life-long teaching-learning relationships for what they are. We do not expect them then to be rosy and perfect. If they were rosy and perfect, we would not be here having to learn and teach! If I did not have struggle so much to control my temper, to not go on rants, to not expect too much from myself and others, I would not be here to teach and learn with you. Our life-long teaching-learning relationships are perfectly designed and timed to teach us the skills for life eternal, if we can accept them for what they are and avoid idolizing, attacking, and judging them according to the world’s standards. We are here to teach and learn the Christ in each other, to accept ourselves as sinless and blameless and perfectly worthy of our Father’s love. Accepting this and practicing this elevates our consciousness, restoring our minds and gracing us with the loveliness of God.
 A Course in Miracles. Manual for Teachers. III. What are the levels of teaching? Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
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