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“IN CRUCIFIXION IS REDEMPTION LAID” Jesus As a Fifth Column
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
[A fifth column refers to a secret group of subversives who strive to undermine the established order from within. The term originated during the Spanish Civil War when, as four of his army columns marched on Madrid, a Nationalist general referred to his supporters within the capital as his “fifth column.”]
Introduction: The Conspiracy One of the favorite books of Helen Schucman, scribe of A Course in Miracles, was G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday. Chesterton, famous for his Father Brown mystery stories, was a very fine Christian writer of the early twentieth century, and the first part of this, perhaps his finest work, reads like a gripping spy story, focusing on a global conspiracy of anarchists. Each of the conspirators is known by a different day of the week, with the leader appropriately called Sunday. The book’s protagonist, a poet/police detective who is recruited for his position, is called Thursday, hence the book’s title. The mysterious Sunday, alternately feared and hated, is revealed at the end to be Jesus, the greatest conspirator of all. I have thought of this book often over the years, not only because it was the first thing Helen gave me to read after A Course in Miracles, but because in many ways it mirrors the deceptive quality of the Course, which appears to be saying one thing while it teaches another. Moreover, its “anarchic” view of the world—there isn’t any—belies its transforming vision for it. On the other hand—Jesus always likes to have things both ways—A Course in Miracles is indeed deceptive in its use of language. Thus, for example, there are passages suggesting that the Holy Spirit or Jesus do specific things for us in the world, responding to our specific needs and answering our special requests: The Holy Spirit will answer every specific problem as long as you believe that problems are specific. His answer is both many and one, as long as you believe that the one is many (T11.VIII.5:5-6). And then this very strange passage from the workbook, in which we are told to ask God “very specifically”: What would You have me do? Where would You have me go? What would You have me say, and to whom? (W-pI.71. 9:3-5; italics omitted) This kind of language has us believe that the world is somehow real, despite the Course’s repeated assertions to the contrary. Or if not actually real, then the world is nonetheless treated as if it were, by virtue of passages that suggest how involved Jesus and the Holy Spirit, if not God Himself, are in our daily lives. It thus makes it seem as if the Creator and His Henchmen are somehow conspiring with us against Themselves in the attempt to prove that the physical universe were actually here, thereby committing what would be the Course’s cardinal sin, if it believed in sin. This is described in The Song of Prayer as making the error real: “Do not see error. Do not make it real” (S-2.I.3:3-4). This reflects the third law of chaos, wherein God must believe what His Son tells Him to be the truth about his
it can still be used by the Holy Spirit as a classroom in which we learn that both the world and its underlying thought are illusory.101]). The Holy Spirit cannot teach without this contrast..II. he is really Heaven-bent on our salvation. [and] He must accept His Son’s belief in what he is . In the heart of this ego desert.VI. the reality is that Jesus is a double agent if there ever were one. for you believe that misery is happiness (T-14. the chief anarchist in Chesterton’s story. . gaining our trust. Indeed. to heal instead of harm (T-25.4:1)...II. as seen in these two examples from the text: The body was not made by love. His use of what you made. In this one sentence is encapsulated the Course’s philosophy of how we are to live meaningfully in “a dry and dusty world. dissolving our belief in the world that we may awaken from its hellish nightmare and return home.2 sinfulness: Here is a principle that would define what the Creator . It is as true now as it ever was or ever will be.. Therefore.6:2-4. where starved and thirsty creatures come to die” (W-pII.. This is stated in many ways. Such is the Holy Spirit’s kind perception of specialness. disguised as one of us by speaking our language. because it implies no change at all (T-4. 11:8-10).5:1). respecting what the Son of God has made and using it to save him from illusions (T-18. Its purpose is most certainly not to make them happier here.4:78).II. Yet love does not condemn it and can use it lovingly.. and immortality is a constant state. However. Another issue is relevant here. here. though the words can cleverly seem to mean that (e. Within the dream. like Sunday. Thus we read that the Holy Spirit teaches us through contrastand wants us to recognize the differences between our misery and His happiness: You who are steadfastly devoted to misery must first recognize that you are miserable and not happy. the you that “lives” in the world is our decisionmaking self that has projected its identity from the mind to the body. This is the meaning of the statement from which the article’s title was taken: “In crucifixion is redemption laid.g. “God’s Will for me is perfect happiness” [W-pI. It is not seen as even necessary that He be asked about the truth of what has been established for His belief. being a projection of the fundamental attack thought of the ego that supplanted God’s place on creation’s throne. however. The Deceptive Language of Duality: Another Purpose for the World Jesus is so good at his conspiratorial role that most students of A Course in Miracles do not even realize that it is not their friend.1:2-3). this self . our real Self. VII. a fifth column that burrows into the world. but rather to help them realize that they can never be happy here. must think and what He must believe. (T-23. without transforming the world’s purpose from attack to forgiveness there would be no way of awakening from the ego’s nightmare that made our self a substitute reality.6).17:1). Yet.3.2:1). we can yet find soil in which our lilies of forgiveness grow and flourish. His Son can tell Him this . while “the world was made as an attack on God” (W-pII.13. our Identity is Christ.. In truth.VI.. crucial to understanding the dynamics of forgiveness: to whom does Jesus really speak? As he says earlier in the text: Who is the “you” who are living in this world? Spirit is immortal. Yet since ideas leave not their source. for healing is not needed where there is no pain or suffering” (T-26..
and gave him means to waken without fear (T-27. he could not waken to reality without the sweat of terror and a scream of mortal fear. not to fear. This. he undermines its very foundation of separation. Otherwise our fear would deafen us to his authoritative voice. again. These gentler or happy dreams of the miracle can be characterized as indirect approaches. must be its Teacher. as it were. if it is used truly. the Voice that calls with love to waken him. God willed he waken gently and with joy. and allowed his calmer mind to welcome.13:4-5). This does not necessarily mean that this is the highest level of communication of which he is capable. taking all false ideas of what you are. since we know only this self.5:1-5). Since we have identified with the ego’s “false ideas” of separation and specialness. Bending the form of his words and teaching to express a content that we would otherwise be too afraid to hear. It is apparent that a mind so split could never be the Teacher of a Oneness which unites all things within Itself. in which his suffering was healed and where his brother was his friend. This projected self has as its purpose the concealment of the mind. Jesus’ conspiratorial plot is to convince us of our misery here.. our thought system of separation (the condition in which we think we exist). it will inevitably be expressed in whatever way is most helpful to the receiver. in the condition in which it thinks it is. His message is not indirect. VIII. but He must introduce the simple truth into a thought system which has become so twisted and so complex you cannot see that it means nothing (T-14. establishes the need for Jesus as a fifth column. at the same time he speaks our dualistic language.7:1-5. that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable now (T-2. must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear. we cannot waken from nightmares to reality: So fearful is the dream. italics mine).I.. therefore. must begin His teaching by showing you what you can never learn. and leading you beyond them to the truth that is beyond them (T-25. Yet. it is that language Jesus must speak. And It must use all learning to transfer illusions to the truth. a gentler dream. This means that a miracle. To say this another way. and does unite all things together. Therefore. for while you think that part of you is separate. though it is now experienced as a physical being that is external to it.3 remains within the mind. Thus Jesus adopts the role of a fifth column. so the original decision for the ego will forever remain intact. so that we would then go to him to learn that the source of our misery is the mind’s decision for the ego. wherein the perfect Love of God is reflected—indirectly—in the opportunities for forgiveness offered by our special relationships. 5:1-2). to attain its full efficacy. It does mean. Jesus’ teachings of forgiveness must be expressed in terms we can understand: All this [forgiveness] takes note of time and place as if they were discrete. infiltrating. The Holy Spirit. he exemplifies the principle he sets forth for us: The value of the Atonement does not lie in the manner in which it is expressed. And so What is within this mind. however.I. In fact. Thus we read: Indirect proof of truth is needed in a world made of denial and without direction . Yet must It use the language that this mind can understand.2:1. unless a gentler dream preceded his awaking. His words suggesting that he helps us here can be construed— to anthropomorphize the process—as Jesus earning our trust so that his true . winning our friendship. the concept of a Oneness joined as One is meaningless. so seeming real.. however gentle and kind it might be.IV.
because we are unaware of its existence.4 teaching can begin. but it is real to you. You do not realize how much you hate each other. and all of us. Your hatred is not real. After all. where Jesus seems to be joining us. Because of Jesus’ purpose. And yet it is our very attack thoughts—special hate and love—that engender guilt and fear of punishment.III. and in your practicing it is this thought that will release you from them. and joy. He wanted them to acknowledge that the very hatred that so characterized their relationship carried within it the seeds for its and their own healing: You have no idea of the intensity of your wish to get rid of each other. Without question. striving to get rid of them through the magic of projection. Since there is no way we can return to the mind to choose against guilt. about a year into the Course’s seven. Their meaning cannot lie in them. In September 1966. is attack. her colleague and scribal collaborator. the most common experience for us all. In this context.. if you can Remember. And they may thus mean everything or nothing.6:7). This selfhate—our guilt—is expressed in the special relationships we experience between bodies. It hides what you really want.year scribing.. about their tumultuous special relationship. attack. He lovingly lures us into his web of Atonement. according to the truth or falsity of the idea which they reflect (T-19. it would be a serious mistake to confuse the words for their meaning. then. for . We cannot then help but seek to avoid awareness by repressing these thoughts. Surely you are willing to look upon what you do not want without fear. but must be sought in what they represent. As Jesus says of death in the third obstacle to peace.10:3). love. italics mine). You will not get rid of this until you do realize it. Still he. our experience makes it appear that Jesus is meeting us in the illusion of these bodily relationships.184. not because they are real. “but only to proclaim [their] unreality in terms which still have meaning in the world that darkness rules” (W-pI. You have need to use the symbols of the world a while.. 11:2-4. cautioning his students about confusing these two levels: they must stand for something other than themselves. and once caught up in his gifts of peace. But be you not deceived by them as well.. and pain. yet were asked to take a teaching function. forgetting them forever. implicitly being asked by Jesus to use him as an example: It would indeed be strange if you were asked to go beyond all symbols of the world. They become but means by which you can communicate in ways the world can understand. This teaching is the principal burden of Lesson 184. Jesus refers to the body’s death (form) versus the thought system of death (content). we can never go back to the ego’s offerings of guilt. we need to look differently at our external relationships.184. must use symbols in order to communicate in the world of illusion. .IV-C.9). “nothing so blinding as perception of form” (T-22. . and urges us not to be deluded by the ego’s clever attempts to keep us focused on the mindless. even if it frightens you. the form for their content. Jesus commented very specifically to Helen and William Thetford. Even though the source of all specialness remains in our decision-making minds. but which you recognize is not the unity where true communication can be found (WpI. where we are taught the following. We are therefore asked to use the symbols of the world of darkness. that neither sign nor symbol should be confused with source. And so he is continually asking us to go beyond the symbols to what they reflect. asking us to look at them through non-judgmental eyes—his. They do not stand for anything at all. since it is the source of our world and bodily identity within it.
1:5-7). and more forgiving as we ascend the ladder that will return us to the Source we never left. There are decisions . However. tells us the following.1:2.. This represents the bottom rung of the ladder that will take us through the body and world to the mind. which gave it its existence and. And we will walk through it in safety. the focus slowly shifts from the world outside to the one inside—“The world you see. Be not afraid of this journey into fear.. T-11. and that you will receive a specific answer if such is your need. still sustains it. is the outside picture of an inward condition” (T-21. for we cannot think of him except as a body.. the ego perforce weakens in its strength. At this point the ladder disappears into the reality to which it has led us. it being an illusion. or perhaps Helen “heard” incorrectly? Or is there method in Jesus’ madness. are we to make of the seemingly contradictory statements found in the Course that. on the one hand. that we should call upon Jesus for specific help? Could it be that Jesus forgets from one section to another.III. attack or forgiveness. this journey into fear—through hate to love—is impossible without first recognizing that the desert experienced outside is really inside.15:5). It therefore seems as if Jesus operates within the world. for it strikes at the very heart of Jesus’ message to us all: that we be willing to look with him at our ego thoughts without guilt. Jesus helps us shift our attention from the distractions of the world to the true problem: the mind’s decision for the ego. Since we have made these thoughts of hate real.1) and The Song of Prayer. or judgment. we must first be able to look at what we have hidden before we can realize their fundamental lack of reality. The Song of Prayer. we need to keep in mind the conspiratorial nature of Jesus and his course: joining us as a fifth column midst our reigning kingdom of duality. The Ladder Home What. as our fear begins to lessen. gentler.5)—allow.ing us to recognize that our perceptions of the world are projections of the mind’s decision for the ego or Holy Spirit. Yet he does this only so he can adroitly lead us beyond it to the non-dualistic reality that is our home. and on to the real world.VIII.g.in. and thereby accept the love that alone is real and thus complete our journey. reaches down and raises us unto Himself (e. indirectly invoking the image of a ladder to denote the process aspect of forgiveness: You have been told to ask the Holy Spirit for the answer to any specific problem. Jesus joins us on the bottom rung in the world of specifics so he can gain our confidence. a form we recognize and can accept without fear (T18. indeed.5 thereby get rid of it? . and thus dispelled forever as he leads us home. In prayer this is not contradictory. separate or shared interests. Using the metaphor of the ladder from “The Agreement to Join” (T-28. and on the other.VIII. for it is not your destination.. or is attempting to confuse us. Indeed. and then denied them. You have also been told that there is only one problem and one answer. there is no world to change or save. to borrow the famous line from Hamlet? In order to understand this seeming paradox. Thus he appears to meet our specific needs and requests with specific answers and advice. allowing us to be kinder. then. metaphorically speaking. fear. As that belief is gradually withdrawn and placed in our new Teacher. the top of the ladder and penultimate step before God. Only in this way can their darkness be brought to his light. This central teaching of A Course in Miracles is obviously meant not only for Helen and Bill. for peace is not far. and you will be led in its light. The aforementioned pamphlet..
we begin to recognize Jesus’ true purpose in being our teacher. after having enticed us with his comforting presence within the dream. Helen had asked Jesus what she should say to someone dealing with a difficult situation. Remember you need nothing. You cannot be asked to accept answers which are beyond the level of need that you can recognize. Nothing you need will be denied you. The experience of needs roots us in the body. There.I.6:3]).1:1.g. .6:1). will suit your need as you see it.4:5-8). “What shall I say to him?” and hear God’s answer. Not one seeming difficulty but will melt away before you reach it. where the choice for a different thought system can be made. And so we are gently led up the ladder from form to the formless. You need not even speak a word to him. because those who have been forgiven have everything” [T-3.II. The real sound is always a song of thanksgiving and of Love (S-1. wherein we are slowly led through the world of form (the bottom rungs of the ladder) to the content of oneness with our Creator (what lies beyond the ladder entirely): Prayer .. does change in form. Your brother will not learn it from your words or from the judgments you have laid on him. while our one need exists solely in the mind. and grow with learning until it reaches its formless state. while seeming to respond to them. he appears to be meeting us in our world. but you have an endless store of loving gifts to give.” and the help of God and all His angels will respond (Absence from Felicity. he teaches us that our one need—which answers them all—is to learn forgiveness (e. And so Jesus asks us. Jesus gave an important message to Helen. This caution holds even when. as in Helen’s case. Rather ask instead. and they must be made whether they be illusions or not. . In 1975.I. there will be nothing else the Holy Spirit will not arrange for you without your effort. and on to Mind. nor how it is asked. formless presence of love is too threatening to us who still cling to our bodily existence. Yet.3).6 to make here. we are not ready to release the hold we have over a need-filled self and world of specifics: This is not a level of prayer that everyone can attain as yet (S-1. you have judged it for yourself and so you have betrayed your proper role. Thus is our only meaningful purpose of forgiveness attained: Once you accept His plan as the one function that you would fulfill. and fuses into total communication with God (S-1. there is a sincere desire to be of help to another. “Help me to see this brother through the eyes of truth and not of judgment. p.2).V. Working through our belief in specific needs. “. if given by God. one I have cited before in these pages as a caution to students who ask Jesus for specific help with specific problems.I. body to mind. But still all little answers are contained in this (S-1.. 381). it is not the form of the question that matters.. Now we can understand our need to experience Jesus with us in form. This is why we need to think of forgiveness (or prayer) as a process.the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness. Therefore.. why would we choose to remain in an illusory world of specifics when we can ascend the ladder and return to our Creator’s Love? What could His answer be but your remembrance of Him? Can this be traded for a bit of trifling advice about a problem of an instant’s duration? God answers only for eternity. But teach this lesson only to yourself. and this was his unexpected response: Do not forget if you attempt to solve a problem.. As we make our way.. for his mindful. This is merely an echo of the reply of His Voice. You .. You cannot ask. The form of the answer. because of our level of fear of awakening and losing our individual identity.
while what seemed large resumes the littleness that is its due. Each and every moment of each and every day. Conclusion: The Ultimate Transformation I close the article with one of Helen’s poems. in forms we can understand.7 need take thought for nothing. attack to forgiveness. And: What was harsh before and seemed to speak of death now sings of life. the mind’s underlying error of having chosen the ego’s thought system of separation and differences. In other words. “Transformation” was written during the Easter season. so is our perception of Jesus. but how we perceive it. Blessed now with Jesus’ gift of vision. we recognize the inherent sameness of God’s seemingly separated and fragmented Sons: the split mind that consists of the ego’s wrong mind. our perspective shifts from the needy world of the body’s specialness to the mind’s classroom of learning forgiveness. It happens suddenly.IV. The implications for our daily living are huge. which see only expressions of love or calls for it (T-14. The ladder is slowly ascended until we reach the ultimate transformation: self to Self. This is our ultimate transformation and the consummation of the journey. which led us from the mindless world of bodies to the mind-filled world of forgiveness. “Transformation. Having joined us as a fifth column in the world of crucifixion where we “made plans for death. Allowing Jesus to walk through our lives with us means we consistently ask his help that we look at the world through his eyes. hence the reference at the end to the biblical story of the body’s resurrection. careless of everything except the only purpose that you would fulfill (T-20. And so are our perceptions cleansed of error.135.X. and joins the chorus to eternity. The poem. for we have become at last what he had planned for us at the beginning: remembering we are all—without exception—Heaven’s one Son. You understand an ancient parable That seemed to be obscure. cannibalize and condemn. It is the shift from the ego’s content of guilt to Jesus’ content of forgiveness.18:4). and the power of our decisionmaking minds to choose between them. As our perception of the world is transformed. our minds gently transformed from wrong.8:4. to the radiant realm of the real world wherein love’s gentle sounds reverberate throughout our minds now filled with light. however. There is a Voice That speaks one Word.7:1).to right-minded thinking: from judgment to vision. Thus we read below in the poem: The trivial enlarge in magnitude. while what seemed large . we are confronted by opportunities to look again at our ego’s need to judge and attack. calls us to share Jesus’ true resurrection of the mind’s awakening from the ego’s dream of death.” which beautifully expresses the shift from the harsh discordant sounds of a moribund world that is too much with us.6-8). [he] led [us] gently to eternal life” (W-pI. the Holy Spirit’s right mind. Thus do we correct. And yet it meant Exactly what it said. The trivial Enlarge in magnitude. and everything is changed. and so it is not the world of form that changes.
64) . p. Go on to Galilee. By the tomb The angel stands in shining hopefulness To give salvation’s message: “Be you free. The rhythm of the world Shifts into concert. And joins the chorus to eternity. Long silenced but remembered. The dim grow bright.8 Resumes the littleness that is its due. in ancient harmony That sings of Heaven in compelling tones Which wipe away the doubting and the care All other roles convey. What was harsh before And seemed to speak of death now sings of life. Eyes that were blind begin to see. For certainty Must be of God. All things assume the role that was assigned Before time was. It happens suddenly. And all things change. and what was bright before Flickers and fades and finally is gone. Into the sudden stillness is reborn The ancient singing of creation’s song. and ears Long deaf to melody begin to hear. And stay not here.” (The Gifts of God.
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