Wapnick says there are two significant themes that recur throughout the workbook:
- Our identity within the illusion as a mind – wrong mind (the ego), right mind (the Holy Spirit), and the decision-making part that chooses between them.
- Our ego’s wish to be right and prove Jesus wrong.
There are two levels reflected in the Course’s teachings:
- Level One distinguishes between truth and illusion, oneness and separation, God and the ego.
- Level two relates only to the ego’s separated world of illusion, and contrasts the wrong-minded thought system of guilt, attack, and defense – the ego’s world of special relationships – with the right minded thought system of forgiveness – the Holy Spirit’s world of holy relationships.
Level One: The Ego’s Unholy Trinity
Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects. (T-27. VIII. 6:2-3.)
The insane idea is that God’s Son could actually separate from his Creator and Source. This could never happen, but in the illusory dream of the Son’s mind, it did happen and it set into motion a cosmic drama. There are three main characters in this drama: the ego, the Holy Spirit, and the decision-making Son of God. This trio comprises the split mind, which is perceived to be completely separate from the Mind of Christ, God’s true and undivided Son.
As the myth proceeds, the ego protects the illusion by attempting to convince God’s Son that the Son is a separate, sinful, and guilty entity. The principal characteristics of the separated mind thus became sin, guilt and fear of death. The ego feigns sweetness and concern, begging the Son to trust it. When the son conceded, the Voice for God was effectively silenced and the ego was allowed to continue to weave it’s web of illusion.
Psychologically, this is known as projection. We believe we can take what is in the mind and project it safely outside of ourselves. We put it “out there”. When we project a thought of separation (individuality, sin, guilt, fear of death…) the result is a physical world of separation (individuality, sin, guilt, fear of death…). This is the world of linear time. This projection not only gives rise to a separated world, but a fragmented one as well. The ego’s projected thought system shattered into an almost infinite number of pieces, much like what happens to glass when it breaks. Each fragment is unique, yet each maintains the characteristic of the glass. This is what created the quasi-infinite number of Sons.
Level Two: The Ego’s Wrong-Minded Thought System of Guilt and Attack
The fragments, now in the world as individual bodies, express the ego thought system in individualized ways and maintain the fundamental ego wish to project the responsibility for the separation onto something or someone else. In order to maintain the illusion, as individual bodies, we have a wish to be treated unfairly, and we see the sin in others that we do not want to see in ourselves. This is how we keep our individual identities while divorcing the sin that the ego created through the separation.
Guilt (the belief we have sinned) is the ego’s first shield of oblivion. The second shield of oblivion is achieved by the ego convincing the Son to abandon his mind and enter the mindless state of physicality. This is achieved through the use of special-relationships. The Son believes he is a creature of lack and scarcity when all that is really missing is the memory of God’s love that has disappeared from his awareness. He believes something is missing and attempts to fill the lack through attack. Of course, society does not condone direct assault so the attack is concealed as special love. We make ourselves dependent on others and believe we “need” them. We attempt to get what we want by making demands and bargaining with others, and agreeing to give them what they “need” in return. The ego, of course, plans to give as little and get as much as possible.
The ego’s plan, however, is not “God-proof”. There remains a voice of sanity within our right minds which continually calls us to choose again.
Level Two: The Holy Spirit’s Right-Minded Thought System of Forgiveness
The Holy Spirit is the memory of who we are as Christ. That memory is our teacher. The Holy Spirit undoes the ego’s double-tiered strategy of guilt and projection. This is the right-minded focus. Through the right-minded focus, we interpretwhat our bodies tell us, rather than simply relying on sensory input. If you attack me physically or verbally, I have a choice whether or not to give your actions power over my own behavior. I may not be able to control your behavior, but I can control my own. There is nothing in the world that has control over my behavior except me.
This is what the concept of forgiveness is about. The healing power of forgiveness is explained by A Course in Miraclesthrough the principle of cause and effect which rests on two principles:
- Every effect must have a cause. Without effects, there can be no cause.
- If anything exists, it must be a cause.
If I am upset, it is not because of what the fragment that is “you” has done (the form), it is because my mind has chosen to be upset (the content). If I do not react as if what you do is a sin, my defenselessness demonstrates that your so-called “sin” had no effect and thus is not a cause. If your sinful attack is not a cause, it cannot exist. Thus are sins forgiven. If I no longer focus on changing your behavior, but only on my own, I change my mind’s interpretation of your behavior from the ego’s purpose for the relationship to that of the Holy Spirit’s. The problem and the solution are in the mind, not the body.
When we make this shift, our experience of the world as a prison from which we want escape changes to the world as classroom. The workbook lessons help us realize that we were wrong in the choice for the ego and that instead, we can happily and gratefully choose the Holy Spirit as our teacher.