Chapter 5: Healing and Wholeness

Over 1500 years old. Artist unknown. Healing the Bleeding Woman.

What I found most interesting form the Text:

(Most of this is straight out of the Text or paraphrased slightly. Some if it is rearranged a bit.)

Introduction: To heal or to make joyous is the same as to integrate and to make one. That is why it makes no difference to what part or by what part of the Sonship the healing is offered. Every part benefits, and benefits equally.

The Invitation to the Holy Spirit:

Remember that spirit knows no difference between having and being. The higher mind thinks according to the laws spirit obeys, and therefore honors only the laws of God. To spirit getting is meaningless and giving is all. Having everything, spirit holds everything by giving it, and thus creates as the Father created.

If you can accept the concept that the world is one of ideas, the whole belief in the false association the ego makes between giving and losing is gone.

  • Thoughts increase by being given away.
  • The more who believe in them the stronger they become.
  • Everything is an idea.
  • How, then, can giving and losing be associated?

The Holy Spirit is the only part of the Holy Trinity that has a symbolic function. (Jesus/Christ is man/Sonship. God ultimate reality.) This makes the Holy Spirit difficult to understand. Holy Spirit = Universal Inspiration?

The Holy Spirit is so close to Knowledge that it calls it forth/allows it to come. You can obstruct knowledge but you can never lose it. The Holy Spirit is the Call to Atonement – the restoration of the integrity of the mind. The Holy Spirit is the Mind of the Atonement.

The Voice for God.

The Holy Spirit is the motivation for miracle mindedness; the decision to heal the separation by letting go. The Holy Spirit is God’s answer to the separation.

God is not in you in a literal sense. The Holy Spirit merely reminds. It brings to your mind the other way, remaining quiet even in the midst of the turmoil you may make. The Holy Spirit is your Guide in choosing. He is in the part of your mind that always speaks for the right choice, because He speaks for God. He is your remaining communication with God, which you can interrupt but cannot destroy.

The Guide to Salvation.

The way to recognize your brother is by recognizing the Holy Spirit in him. The Holy Spirit is the idea of healing. Being thought, the idea gains as it is shared. It increases in you as you give it to your brother. Your brother does not have to be aware of the Holy Spirit in himself or in you for this miracle to occur.

The separation is merely another term for a split mind. The ego is the symbol of separation, just as the Holy Spirit is the symbol of peace. What you perceive in others you are strengthening in yourself. You may let your mind misperceive, but the Holy Spirit lets your mind reinterpret its own misperceptions.

The only aspect of time that is eternal is now. The Holy Spirit is your Guide to salvation, because He holds the remembrance of things past and to come, and brings them to the present.

Teaching and Healing.

Every loving thought held in any part of the Sonship belongs to every part. It is shared because it is loving. Sharing is God’s way of creating, and also yours. The ego can keep you in exile from the Kingdom, but in the Kingdom itself it has no power. Ideas of the spirit do not leave the mind that thinks them, nor can they conflict with each other.

You cannot be hurt, and do not want to show your brother anything except your wholeness. Show him that he cannot hurt you and hold nothing against him, or you hold it against yourself. This is the meaning of “turning the other cheek.” As you teach, so shall you learn.

The Ego’s Use of Guilt.

Guilt is more than merely not of God. It is the symbol of attack on God. This is a totally meaningless concept except to the ego, but do not underestimate the power of the ego’s belief in it. This is the belief from which all guilt really stems. If you identify with the ego, you must perceive yourself as guilty. Whenever you respond to your ego you will experience guilt, and you will fear punishment. The ego is quite literally a fearful thought.

The mind is capable of creating reality or making illusions. You must learn to think with God. Guilt is a sure sign you are not thinking with God. Your thinking is unnatural. Thinking with God engenders joy.

[So interested to hear what Wapnick has to say about this. I was sitting next to two women in a coffee shop earlier. One of the women kept talking about all the things the Lord had told her to do (get a pilots license, buy property in Salt Lake City…) and was telling the other woman she could know what the Lord was telling her to do about moving into a new apartment if the decision made her happy or not. Is that what “Thinking with God” is about? My will be done? A lot of ACIM students seem to think it means making the “right” physical decisions, too. It still seems to me to be about the ego. You want things to go the way you want them to go so you ask the Holy Spirit what you should do that will make you happiest. It’s kind of like praying to God to make things be the way you want them to be. It also contradicts with the statement in the first section that the world is one of ideas, not things. Surely where you move, where you buy property, etc. doesn’t matter to God or the Holy Spirit. It only matters to our egos.]

Time and Eternity.

You need not fear the Higher Court will condemn you. It will merely dismiss the case against you. [I so love that!!] There can be no case against a child of God, and every witness to guilt in God’s creations is bearing false witness to God Himself.

Infinite patience calls upon infinite love, and by producing results now it renders time unnecessary.

The Decision for God.

Decision cannot be difficult. This is obvious, if you realize that you must already have decided not to be wholly joyous if that is how you feel. Therefore, the first step in the undoing is to recognize that you actively decided wrongly, but can as actively decide otherwise. Be very firm with yourself in this, and keep yourself fully aware that the undoing process, which does not come from you, is nevertheless within you because God placed it there. Your part is merely to return your thinking to the point at which the error was made, and give it over to the Atonement in peace.

  • I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace.
  • I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise.
  • I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.
  • I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him.
  • I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me.

From Wapnick:

Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge – The Ego and the Holy Spirit.

Chapter 4 was the introduction to the ego. Chapter 5 is the introduction to the Holy Spirit.

Wapnick provides an interesting lesson on Beethoven. He believes Beethoven’s late quartets are the summit of all music. “Grosse Fuge” is what Beethoven wrote for the final movement of the 13th Quartet.

Grosse Fuge means “great fugue”—a fugue being, very briefly stated, two or more themes that are played and developed simultaneously—and herein one finds a powerful depiction of the ego, specifically the laws of chaos. It is aggressive music, almost impossible to play, let alone listen to, and seems to go on indefinitely, even though the piece lasts not even twenty minutes. I remember once, lying on my living room floor listening to these last quartets. As the Grosse Fuge played, it was as if the room spun around me with books falling off the shelves—truly a chaotic experience. Fortunately, a gentle theme, the opposite of the others, is introduced at the beginning even as it is quickly set aside. I then understood the experience of grace that many people have described. The theme is soft and beautiful, and one can liken it to the Holy Spirit and His forgiveness, although that would certainly not have been Beethoven’s term for it. After the introduction, the other fugal themes take over and one is cast into a veritable hell. But this grace-filled theme suddenly reappears, and the chaos gradually comes to an end. For a while, the melody becomes part of the fugue, and it is as if the ego and Holy Spirit go back and forth, until—finally—the ego’s theme is transformed as the fugue ends on a glorious note of triumph.

The next music Beethoven composed was The 14th Quartet, which is also a fugue. Wapnick says it is as close as anyone has come to depicting the peace of God. When taken as a whole, the quartets show that Heaven can only be obtained by first going through the chaos of the ego and that the ego is only navigable with the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

We cannot go through ACIM without playing out that battle in our minds.


The text is written as a work of art and the language within it should not be taken literally. For instance, God (our Source) is not an entity with an identity that is separate from ours, but because we believe we are separated the language in ACIM speaks to us as though we are.

Likewise, the Holy Spirit is referred to with a masculine pronoun and all of the words used to describe the Holy Spirit are personifications: mediator, guide, interpreter, translator etc. But these are just symbols that allow us to relate to the loving presence in our minds. The correct way of looking at the Holy Spirit is that He symbolizes a thought or memory.

The form of the Holy Spirit – a voice or Person within the mind – is an illusion. But as long as we identify with being a person, we need a figure in our mind’s thought system that is also a person. It’s a symbol and not to be taken literally.

The Holy Spirit takes what the ego has made and reinterprets it. He does not transcend it.

The Holy Spirit.

Aha!! Here it is. Wapnick says the Holy Spirit doesn’t help us get stuff we want…

Nowhere does it say the Holy Spirit will get us parking spaces, heal us of cancer, or bring about world peace. His quiet Presence reminds us only of what we have forgotten, the love that urges us to choose differently by reminding us of the other way: peace instead of war. Stated differently, a theme we will come back to again and again, the problem was not the tiny, mad idea of separation, but that we took it seriously when we remembered not to laugh at its inherent silliness (T-27.VIII.6:2).

And toward the end:

We need to be wary of people who tell us that they hear the Holy Spirit, because they are almost always conveying to us their specialness, albeit subtly.

[That’s what it felt like listening to the woman in the coffee shop talking about all the things “the Lord” had told her to do. It seemed as though she thought herself very special…]

No matter how serious the situation, be it cancer or no where to park, what the Holy Spirit does is simply remind us that “we can look at this differently”. It doesn’t tell us where to go to get the parking place or how to heal our cancer. That we are afraid of the cancer or upset because we can’t find a parking place is because we have identified with the ego. Wanting it to be different is an identification with the ego.

Likewise, we are not asked to deny the world we see or our bodily experiences. We are merely asked to look at it differently.

An essential aspect of the Holy Spirit’s function is to take the world we made and change its purpose to our learning it is not our home. To “look as the Holy Spirit looks” means to see the world as the mind’s projection.

Jesus is a symbol that represents the right-minded choice.

Material things are gone when we give them away. Not so with ideas. The more we talk about something, the more we believe it. Everything is an idea and what we think about expands, be it love or fear. The more love we extend, the more we identify with love. The more guilt we “eliminate” by projecting it onto others, the more we identify with guilt and fear.

The Holy Spirit is not a “person” in our minds who intervenes on our behalf, answers questions, or solves problems. The Holy Spirit is a Thought in the mind. It is the other choice once we have decided for the ego.

ACIM is a curriculum in unlearning. We need to unlearn what the ego taught us about God, ourselves, and the world, and discern the difference between illusion and reality, between being children of the ego or of God, our true Source.

The Atonement Principal.

This parallels my comments about Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge: we hear the melody of grace at the beginning, and even though it is set aside, it remains in our memory. We have all heard love’s heavenly song that patiently awaits our right-minded choice. It has not disappeared, but is simply gone from our awareness when, in our insanity, we chose to forget it.

You are free to believe any insane thing you wish, but that does not make it true. Having thoughts does not make them real.

The Ego’s Fear of the Atonement Principal.

[I think my idea of Christianity isn’t quite so bleak as Wapnick’s. The reason the Holy Spirit works for me is because the Holy Spirit was something I understood when I was very young. Maybe that is because I was Methodist whose founder was a mystic? I always thought of the Holy Spirit as fire (based on the Methodist symbol) or wind. Either way, it was something that shifted perspective – either through the Holy Struggle of fire (which I imagine much like Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge) or through the gentle winds of understanding. I think that’s why ACIM has always worked for me. I understand the view of Holy Spirit as symbolic of that something that allows you to change your mind. I don’t remember ever associating the Holy Spirit with something that was defeating the pagans or infidels. If I did understand it that way, I understood it metaphorically. I don’t remember ever thinking it was literal.]


Every country that ever attacks another believes it didn’t make the first attack. Something first happened to provoke the attack. The other party did it, not us. They are guilty, not us. But the mind’s decision for guilt can only lead to pain and so we continually project guilt. Vicious circle. The only meaningful escape it to change our minds.

The Decision for Forgiveness.

The process of forgiveness requires day-in-and-day-out dedication to overcome the resistance to losing our special self; in other words, it requires great willingness.

(VII.5:1) Whenever you are not wholly joyous, it is because you have reacted with a lack of love to one of God’s creations.

If we are in a state of unhappiness or disquiet, it is only because we have withheld love to someone. It is not because someone else has been unloving, it is because we have been unloving.

Our guilt over this “sin” is enormous because it reflects the original withholding of love from God, and we can do nothing more with this guilt than deny and project it, accusing others of our secret sin. The truth remains, though, that when we are in a state of less than perfect joy, it is because we have not been loving to another—in thought, word, or deed.

Error is undone by bringing it to truth.

The five statements we are asked to say at the end of the chapter reflect the process of forgiveness ACIM is asking us to apply whenever we become disquieted. It gently leads us from the perceived source of upset (the body) to its cause (the mind), where the Holy Spirit and His Atonement await our return and corrected decision.

Since nothing outside is the cause of our distress, whether it is a hangnail or cancer, a playground skirmish or war, the form of the problem is irrelevant to the healing power of the miracle. There is no order of difficulty in illusions, for they are all the same: an illusion is an illusion is an illusion. The problem is always our mistaken choice, which means the solution is undoing the error by changing our mind.


Jesus and the Holy Spirit are basically interchangeable in terms of functioning as our inner Teacher, that the journey They lead us on takes us from the specific to the abstract, from Jesus to the Holy Spirit’s Voice, which ends up being our own. Yet we need to begin where we believe we are, in the specific or dualistic world wherein we live as bodies, needing a specific symbol in our minds that corrects our belief in the specific teachings of the ego. For so many of us in the Western world, this symbol is Jesus.

[Holy Spirit works better for me than Jesus, although I get the idea that Jesus symbolizes the human being who chose the Holy Spirit. I’m glad Jesus’ fades out after this, however. That’s because of the baggage of my Christian upbringing. I was forever forced to envision walking with Jesus as though he was my very best friend. I could never do that! When I started going through RCIA to become Catholic, I was surprised to discover I had no difficulty doing it with Mary. Especially when I was pregnant. Protestantism is very masculine. It doesn’t have the same sense of Church as Mother or womb…]

Jesus is the “model” for decision. He did it, so can we. He is the symbol of the mind’s power to choose right-mindedly. When we unite with him we reclaim that power to utilize on behalf of the truth of Atonement instead of the illusion of separation.


This passage was originally meant for Helen, especially the opening line, but it is clearly meant for all of us. According to Wapnick it is a unique passage in the Course at this point, for it is the first time we read something in this form..

(IV.8) How can you who are so holy suffer? All your past except its beauty is gone, and nothing is left but a blessing. I have saved all your kindnesses and every loving thought you ever had. I have purified them of the errors that hid their light, and kept them for you in their own perfect radiance. They are beyond destruction and beyond guilt. They came from the Holy Spirit within you, and we know what God creates is eternal. You can indeed depart in peace because I have loved you as I loved myself. You go with my blessing and for my blessing. Hold it and share it, that it may always be ours. I place the peace of God in your heart and in your hands, to hold and share. The heart is pure to hold it, and the hands are strong to give it. We cannot lose. My judgment is as strong as the wisdom of God, in Whose Heart and Hands we have our being. His quiet children are His blessed Sons. The Thoughts of God are with you.

ACIM Text as Symphony (Form)

I received all 4 volumes of Kenneth Wapnick’s Journey Through the Text of A Course in Miraclesand am a little overwhelmed. Journey Through the Workbook of A Course in Miraclesis 8 volumes while Journey Through the Text is only 4 volumes. But each volume is roughly the size of two volumes of Journey Through the Workbook. It’s a LOT of information!

Wapnick says the journey through ACIM should be leisurely so I am going to take him at his word and not turn this into an obsessive compulsive exercise that has to be finished by the end of the year. I’m just going to float down the river with it and see where I end up, beginning with Wapnick’s explanation in the Prelude to Journey through the Textthat the text is a symphony.

Wapnick explains that much of the discussion in ACIM is differentiating between form and content. Form is external. Content is internal. Form is what we observe in the world of bodies while content is the mind’s thought or meaning behind the form. Wapnick says the Course is the perfect integration of form and content because the way in which the text is written is an integral part of what it teaches.

Wapnick’s lengthiest discussion on form is a comparison of leitmotif in symphony to the text in ACIM. He explains that Wagner perfected the use of leitmotif by associating certain musical themes with characters or emotions. In Parsifal, his final opera, there were motifs for faith. In Tristan and Isolde, his greatest work, there were motifs for yearning and death. When these themes reappeared in Wagner’s work, they would undergo changes in harmony, rhythm, and intervals to mirror the internal changes in the drama. This same form is found in ACIM.

  1. From the perspective of the musical composer from 1885 to 1940;
  2. From the perspective of the narrator from 1943 to 1945;
  3. From Mann’s actual writing of the novel, during WWII and after the war;
  4. From the perspective of the reader.

These levels interrelate and are important because they are not only about the great composer and his mental deterioration, but also about the rise and fall of Nazi Germany – from ascension to power to maniacal insanity. Mann was a fan of Wagner and used leitmotif in Doktor Faustusin a similar way to Wagner’s use of leitmotif in music, heightening the drama of the rise and fall of Nazi Germany.

Similarly, A Course in Miracleshas many passages that can be taken one, two, or three ways and often the text is best understood if the passages are taken as all three at once.

Wapnick shows the similarity of ACIM and the use of leitmotif in DoktorFaustusby taking an anonymous passage written about Mann’s Doktor Faustusand substituting the word “Jesus” for “Mann” and “text” (as in ACIM text) for “Doktor Faustus”:

Jesus wants to explore the many elements of the myth [the birth of the ego, its fall, and our return home]. The text is only marginally linear. The themes are explored by techniques such as montage, and use musical structure. It is musical in structure with each element introduced over time in a manner that develops unceasingly complex connections between these elements. And ultimately one can see the entire picture of all the elements and their interconnections to make a central statement. All these elements and their interconnections constitute the entire statement and are indispensable.

Wapnick also connects Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with the text of ACIM. He says the Fifth Symphony is an overwhelming experience if one truly listens to it. In the same way one does not “enjoy” a Beethoven symphony or any of his great works, one does not “enjoy” the Course’s text, either. It is not an enjoyable read because, like the Fifth Symphony which plumbed the depths of Beehthoven’s psyche, ACIM is meant to upset us.

Another aspect where ACIM is similar to music is in the need for an interpreter. Most of us are unable to read the notes of a great symphony and hear it in our heads. We must hear it performed which requires a conductor and instrumentalist. The conductor and instrumentalist are the mediator between us and the composer’s genius. It is very important to listen to a conductor who understands the real meaning of the composer’s work. Wagner says when this happens, each of the separate parts falls logically and naturally into place. While listening to the music, it is as though we are in the presence of an organic unity and living experience. We no longer just hear the music but transcend it. However, when we listen to a conductor who may conduct all the notes brilliantly but doesn’t fully understand the meaning of the work, there is no organic connection or heart to the music. It’s just music.

The conductor must come before a musical masterpiece with a sense of humility in order to fully realize it. Wapnick suggests we come before ACIM with that same sense of humility because it isn’t just about words, it’s about transcendence. The brilliance doesn’t lie in the words, it lies in that there is something that transcends the words which we are able to grow into if we approach it with humility.

Wapnick says that our ever-deepening experiences of the Course is similar to what happens when we are in the presence of great music. The more we listen, the more we realize there is something there we hadn’t heard before. What we hope for in working with ACIM is that “our study, understanding, and application be an organic process of growth and transformation.”

The Introduction to the ACIM Text

Wapnick says the first 4 chapters are a summary of the entire ACIM text. Chapter 5 on is beautifully written, poetic even. But the first 4 chapters are extremely clumsy. The information the first 4 chapters contain, however, is immense.

The reason the writing is so clumsy in these chapters is because the scribing process was not a matter of direct dictation as may ACIM students seem to think. It was a collaborative effort. Helen Schucman was essentially in conversation with an inner voice that never provides a name, but she assumes to be “Jesus”. Her colleague, Bill Thetford, encouraged Schucman to write down everything the voice said. She would bring it to Thetford and read it to him while he typed.

According to Wapnick, the problem with what was written down is that much of it was a conversation. The voice would say something and Helen would ask a question about it and there would be tangential questioning on the part of Helen until the voice nudged her back to the topic at hand. In the case of the first 4 chapters, this was the introductory stuff, both in terms of the text and in terms of the conversation.

Schucman was very upset and embarrassed about the first four chapters and did not want to publish the text the way it was first edited. Wapnick said he facetiously told Schucman to ask Jesus to dictate the first 4 chapters more clearly, but she said she couldn’t go through the process again so agreed to let Wapnick edit it as best he could and to publish it as is.

That ACIM is “scribed” is my biggest block to it. I don’t know what I think about scribing. Artists, poets, musicians and novelists often talk about having a sort of genius that comes to them from time to time. Elizabeth Gilbert has an excellent Ted Talkon how artists do not have genius, genius comes to artists. Perhaps Schucman’s scribing was artistically similar. She did not want to be identified as the writer until after her death, which is interesting. Perhaps she was worried about what it would do to her reputation as a psychologist? Society isn’t particularly kind to people who hear voices.

The introduction to the text did not exist when they were first organizing the text. So Schucman told the voice that they couldn’t simply begin with the first principal, the voice had to come up with something better. Here is what it provided:

This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.

This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:

Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists. 
Herein lies the peace of God.

Wapnick compares this introduction to Beethoven who, after submitting the greatest of all his piano concertos, Sonata No. 29, added two chords that now open the exalted third movement.

Wapnick says the two themes expressed in the introduction are:

  1. The course is an undoing. It is meant to remove the interference to our remembering Love’s purpose.
  2. Unlike Christianity and Judaism, ACIM is non-dualistic.

So, the first 4 chapters do not read well, but what they contain is remarkable.

As Wapnick says, let the symphony begin!

(But first, I must get through the rest of the Introductory Materials…)