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The Course Has Nothing to Do With Behavior?

One of the most quoted lines in the course is the line, “This is a course in cause and not effect.” I think it is also many times misunderstood to mean that the course is not about behavior. Yet the course never says it is not about behavior. It says that we cannot correct error at the level of effect (behavior) and that correction must be made at the level of the mind, but this in no way dismisses or disregards behavior itself.

   In fact, the passage in which the above quote about cause is made, is asking the reader about their choice to attack or heal; to see our brothers through our body's eyes or through vision. I will point out that the course also says that attack is ALWAYS physical and one doesn't have to attack physically for this to be the case. This implies behavior, for even to verbally attack someone is a behavior. There is a line that precedes the famous quote that says,  “How this decision leads to its effects is not your problem. But what you want to see must be your choice. This is a course in cause and not effect.”~ACIM

  This is not dismissing behavior, but stating that one need not be concerned with how the decision to see our brothers leads to its effects of either attack or healing, because the fact is, the decision DOES lead to its effects. Our concern must be the choice itself, effects of the choice will then automatically follow.

  I think there is a fundamental distinction between not trying to correct error on the level of behavior and the course not being about behavior. In its more manipulated forms through this misunderstanding, I have seen people act vindictively towards others and then dismiss this behavior by stating the course isn't about behavior, because it is about the level of the mind and that the course is about cause and not effect and behavior is an illusion. It's all about the mind and forgiveness.

  Yet, this is “logic” is strange in many ways. First, forgiveness is an illusion also, but we don't dismiss it. If all attack is self attack as thoughts cannot leave their source and the mind must have a thought to attack before it can attempt to project it outwards; then the self destructive behavior is a result. Cause and effect cannot be separate and as the course says, behavior does not have autonomy.  If the outside picture is a result from an inward condition, why would we exclude our own behavior from this statement? It is obviously part of the outside picture of an inward condition (unless we are trying to behave  “correctly” in ways we think we should without our mind entirely wanting to do so. In other words, trying to correct error at the level of effect.)

  The course says that action must occur in time. If, as the course also says, to teach is to demonstrate, then obviously to demonstrate does not exclude behavior either. Also, the course says that the Holy Spirit can use the body as a means of communication. If a body “behaves” or “acts”, this also obvious does not exclude behavior or disregard/dismiss it, but is a result of the decision of the mind. The course also says that miracles induce action and are expressions  (not merely experiences) of Love.

  There are many passages in which the course speaks about behavior/acting/action, here are some of them.

  One of the first passages that speaks on this that I am aware of, is in the Preface, when it says:  “The body appears to be largely self-motivated and independent, yet it actually responds only to the intentions of the mind. If the mind wants to use it for attack in any form, it becomes prey to sickness, age and decay. If the mind accepts the Holy Spirit's purpose for it instead, it becomes a useful way of communicating with others, invulnerable as long as it is needed, and to be gently laid by when its use is over. Of itself it is neutral, as is everything in the world of perception. Whether it is used for the goals of the ego or the Holy Spirit depends entirely on what the mind wants.”~ACIM

Behavior is response, so that the question "response to what?" becomes crucial. Since stimuli are identified through perception, you first perceive the stimulus and then behave accordingly. It follows, then, that:

As ye perceive, So shall ye behave.”~ Original Edition-ACIM

The Golden Rule asks you to behave toward others as you would have them behave toward you. This means that the perception of both must be accurate. The Golden Rule is the rule for appropriate behavior. You cannot behave appropriately unless you perceive accurately, because appropriate behavior depends on lack of level confusion. The presence of level confusion always results in variable reality testing and therefore in variability in behavioral appropriateness.”~Original Edition-ACIM

What you do comes from what you think. You cannot separate yourself from the truth by "giving" autonomy to behavior.”~ACIM

If you cannot hear the Voice of God, it is because you do not choose to listen. The fact that you do listen to the voice of your ego is demonstrated by your attitudes, your feelings, and your behavior. Your attitudes are obviously conflicted, your feelings have a narrow range on the negative side but are never purely joyous, and your behavior is either strained or unpredictable.”~ACIM

Any decision of the mind will affect both behavior and experience.”~ACIM

As the teacher of God advances in his training, he learns one lesson with increasing thoroughness. He does not make his own decisions; he asks his Teacher for His answer, and it is this he follows as his guide for action.”~ACIM

Mind cannot attack, but it can make fantasies and direct the body to act them out.”~ACIM

Only the mind is capable of error. The body can act erroneously, but this is only because it is responding to mis-thought.”~ACIM

Honesty does not apply only to what you say. The term actually means consistency. There is nothing you say that contradicts what you think or do; no thought opposes any other thought; no act belies your word; and no word lacks agreement with another.~ACIM

I have enjoined you to behave as I behaved, but we must respond to the same mind to do this. This mind is the Holy Spirit, whose will is for God always. He teaches you how to keep me as the model for your thought and to behave like me as a result.”~Jesus-ACIM

  This is a sampling of the course speaking about behavior and action/acting. Yet I think that it demonstrates that the course does not disregard/dismiss behavior. In fact, this passage from the UrText and Original Edition states this about behavior.

As you awaken other minds to the Holy Spirit through Him and not yourself, you will understand that you are not obeying the laws of this world, but that the laws you are obeying work. "The good is what works" is a sound, though insufficient, statement. Only the good can work. Nothing else works at all. This course is a guide to behavior. Being a very direct and very simple learning situation, it provides the Guide who tells you what to do. If you do it, you will see that it works. Its results are more convincing than its words. They will convince you that the words are true. By following the right Guide you will learn the simplest of all lessons—

By their fruits ye shall know them, and they shall know themselves.” ~UrText- Original Edition

  By their fruits ye shall know themselves seems to me to be a statement that one's behavior is a witness to the result of one's thinking. It also ties in with the passage in the Preface and also the passages in the course that say that we cannot see the Holy Spirit, but we can see His manifestations and results. The preceding passage  also speaks of experience rather than just theology.

  I think it is important to make this distinction between what the course says in not trying to make correction at the level of behavior (effect), but of the mind (cause) and dismissing behavior as having nothing to do with the course.

  While we appear to be in a world of space and time and in bodies, as the course says, action must occur. Through the world of perception, behavior can be seen as a witness or result of our state of mind, as cause and effect, even in the world of illusion cannot be separate. We cannot give behavior autonomy, for it is a result of what we think.

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Comment by Ruby on April 2, 2013 at 8:46pm

There you go. LOL ...

Comment by Eric G. on April 2, 2013 at 8:00am

Lord knows I make errors too. I make them all the time. Luckily I get to choose again and again, and yet again. What was the joke that Tolle said in one of his lectures?

The Christian bumper sticker says, I'm born again. The Buddhists says, "Born again and again and again and again. :-)

Comment by Ruby on April 2, 2013 at 12:06am

Hi Eric,

I understand. I have felt the same way having been in the Course community for a while. And at the same time, I know I make errors. I hated it when others pointed this out to me, but it is true.:

"Because miracles are expressions of love, it does NOT follow that they will always be effective. I am the only one who can perform miracles indiscriminately, because I AM the Atonement. You have a ROLE in Atonement, which I will dictate TO you." (I agree that you may guided to speak on this and there is a teacher-student learning situation occuring, so Holy Spirit may be using these situations.

"T 17 H 3. Only what YOU have not given CAN be lacking in ANY situation. But remember this; the goal of holiness was set for YOUR relationship, AND NOT BY YOU. YOU did not set it, because holiness can NOT BE SEEN except through faith, and your relationship was not holy BECAUSE your faith in one another was so limited and little. Your faith must grow, to meet the goal that has been set. The goal’s REALITY will call this forth. For you will see that peace and faith will not come separately. What situation can you be in WITHOUT FAITH, and remain faithful to each other? EVERY situation in which T(655) -482 you find yourselves, is but a means to meet the purpose set for YOUR relationship. See it as something ELSE, and you ARE faithless."

"T 9 A 2. Errors ARE the ego, and CORRECTION of errors of ANY kind lies solely in the RELINQUISHMENT of the ego. When you CORRECT a brother, you are telling him that he is WRONG. He may be making no sense at the time, and it is certain that if he is speaking from the ego, he WILL be making no sense, but your task is still to tell him HE IS RIGHT. You do not tell him this verbally if he is SPEAKING foolishly, because he needs correction AT ANOTHER LEVEL, since his error IS at another level. HE is still right, because he is a Son of God. His ego is ALWAYS wrong, no matter WHAT it says or does.

T 9 A 3. If you point out the errors of HIS ego, you MUST be seeing him through yours, because the Holy Spirit DOES NOT PERCEIVE HIS ERRORS. This MUST be true, if there is no communication AT ALL between the ego and the Holy Spirit. The ego makes NO sense, and the Holy Spirit does not attempt to understand ANYTHING that arises from it. Since He does not understand it, He DOES NOT JUDGE IT, KNOWING that nothing it engenders MEANS ANYTHING."


"T 1 B 24l. Man is free to believe what he chooses. What he DOES attests to what he believes.

T 1 B 24m. The deeper levels of his subconscious always contain the impulse to Miracles, but he is free to fill its superficial levels, which are closer to consciousness, with the impulses of this world and to identify himself with them. This results in denying himself access to the miracle level underneath. In conscious actions, then, his interpersonal relationships also become superficial, and miracle-inspired relating becomes impossible."

I love your passion.

Namaste. Ruby

Comment by Eric G. on April 1, 2013 at 8:04am

 I consider us friends Eric, so I trust that you know I am trying to be helpful.

Eric: Of course. I'm not offended by anything you wrote. But I also understand that certain teachers are trying to make their teachings dogmatic truths and other teachers trying to be in the "in crowd" are adopting these teachings. Some teachers are claiming that only they and a couple of others are really teaching the course, even to the point of trying to discredit other teachers of the course and other teachers of other paths. In fact, some are even trying to discredit other paths, thus making the course superior in comparison. And people are eating this up. How is this different than a fundamentalist claiming their religion is the only "true" religion?

  Of course these teachers are prefacing their discrediting remarks by saying they are not doing what they are saying by using discrediting remarks, but those "spiritual" prefaces don't really work unless the reader/listener is not thinking.

  I too trust the Holy Spirit will have this all worked out, but it doesn't mean that I am not going to speak up and challenge these dogmatic ideas that are being made. Not  to compare myself to Jesus, but he trusted in the Holy Spirit and he didn't not do anything. He was still very active in the world and even corrected the long held dogmatic beliefs about God in the Old Testament. So to trust in the Holy Spirit doesn't mean that one no longer does anything.

  As I pointed out about the belief that Jesus is the Great Seducer. Do you believe that? If so, why? If not why? Is that a moral judgment if you don't agree with the idea and challenge its validity?

Comment by Ruby on March 30, 2013 at 11:27pm

Hi Eric,

What I meant when I said I have experienced this Course differenctly at different stages of my journey is that as I healed.. my perception healed. In other words, I have experienced a lifting up within the 'Holy Instant' beyond my worldly identity which allowed me to experience my holiness, the memory of God...experientially. It is hard to put into words.. in linear terms. This experience has allowed me to trust the process... that the Holy Spirit is available to all of us.
I think what your concern is that some teachers are teaching error, I feel the Holy Spirit is never absent in any situation. That pain is not without its limit.. that eventually we will all ask for a better way... we will find our way to God within. I like the passage below about True Authority of God... or the alternative tryranny of the ego. So we're either Host to God or hostage to the ego.
"T 1 B 37g. The Creation of the Soul is already fully accomplished. The mind, if it votes to do so, becomes a medium by which the Soul can create along the line of its own creation. If it does not freely elect to do so, it retains this creative ability, but places itself under tyrannous rather than authoritative control. As a result, what it creates is imprisonment, because such are the dictates of tyrants.
T 1 B 37h. To “change your mind” means to place it at the disposal of True authority. The miracle is thus a sign that the mind has elected to be guided by Christ in HIS service. The abundance of Christ[69] is the natural result of choosing to follow him."
Other reassuring passages that the Plan of Atonement is in good hands::
T 1 B 23e. I am in charge of the process of Atonement, which I undertook to begin. My Atonement was for the canceling out of all sins (i.e., lack of love) which human beings could not otherwise correct. That is what the Biblical statement “underneath are the Everlasting Arms” [28] means. (Helen Schucman explanation: This means that He will backstop whenever human miracles will not suffice for atonement purposes. However, it is perfectly clear that when a person can atone by miracles, both giver and receiver are atoning. It is better to atone this way because of the mutual benefits involved.) T(11) -11 “Inasmuch as you do it unto the least of these, my children” really ends with “you do it unto yourself and ME.”[29] The reason why YOU come before me is because I do not need miracles for my own Atonement, but I stand at the end in case YOU fail temporarily.
T 1 B 4a. ALL miracles mean Life, and God is the giver of[3] Life. He will direct you VERY specifically.
T 1 B 4b. (Plan ahead is good advice in this world, where you should and must control & direct where you have accepted responsibility. But the Universal Plan is in more appropriate hands. You will know all you need to know. Make NO attempts to plan ahead in this respect.)
T 1 B 5. Miracles are habits, and should be involuntary. They should not be under conscious control.[4] Consciously selected miracles are usually misguided,[5] and this will make[6] the talent useless.[7]
I consider us friends Eric, so I trust that you know I am trying to be helpful.


Comment by Eric G. on March 29, 2013 at 7:59am

Ruby wrote: I understand what you are saying... especially with some of the forums.

In terms of disagreeing with how others behave, there's a great temptation to judge.

Eric: Hi Ruby, thanks for your reply. This topic on behavior is not so much about behavior itself, but the idea that the course is not about behavior. I brought up your personal example not as a judgment, but as a great example that can arise from this distortion of the course's teachings.

  What I have seen is what seems to me to be dogmatic cult think. The idea that some teachers aren't interpreting  the course (we ALL interpret the course, because we read symbols through one's own perception and perception IS interpetation), but what they say is fact. There appears to be a concensus among some other teachers that these teachers are teaching the truth, because other teachers claim to have independently reached the same conclusions through their own study. Careful discernment shows that this is not the case. The conclusions reached are simply an adoption of another's interpretation, because certain phrases, concepts, and wordings are strictly the teacher's own interpretation and are found nowhere in the course. I speculate this is because if you want to make a living at "teaching" the course, you better be in-line with the "Orthodox Church" so to speak.

  As you may remember, I was a pretty big Wapnick fan when I first started reading the course. In fact, I think I was the one that asked if you could make a Wapnick section here. Yet, as I continued to study the course itself, I found the less I agreed with Wapnick's made up "pure non-dualism" theology. Renard (who essentially just repeats Wapnick's theology at an elementary level) on the other hand, I never believed in. Which is ironic since he claims that only he and a couple of others are really teaching the course fundamentalism at it's best.

  Wapnick has come up with a theory in which a whole frame of reference must be turned upside down in order to justify it. The idea that the course doesn't really mean what it says and if it doesn't fit into his theory, then it is dismissed. A metaphor is a literary device to more colorfully describe something, it is not used to dismiss it.

  Another idea is that Jesus is the "Great Seducer" and/or trickster. This idea is so ridiculous if it is really looked at. The problem though, is no one really looks at this claim. Think about it and take the words seducer/seduce and trick and look at their definitions.

Seduce: To lead away from duty, accepted principles, or proper conduct. To entice or beguile into a desired state or position.

Beguile: To deceive by guile; delude. To take away from by or as if by guile; cheat.

Trick: An act or procedure intended to achieve an end by deceptive or fraudulent means

Eric: If one looks at the definitions of these words, it seems apparent that these terms would be used to describe attributes of the “devil”.  Is it really possible that the author would use deceptive tactics as a way to lead the reader out of deception? It seems ridiculous when stated, but if one accepts the idea that Jesus is somehow tricking the reader or is the “Great Seducer”, then the idea of deception must be accepted along with it.

  Yet, the course says the very opposite of this. In other words, a whole frame of reference must be inverted to accept that Jesus is using deception to help us out of deception.

Nothing that is genuine is used to deceive. The Holy Spirit is incapable of deception, and He can use only genuine abilities.~ACIM

I am the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and when you see me, it will be because you have invited Him.~Jesus-ACIM

Eric: My point is, a cult like thinking is happening within the course where certain authority figures say things that are blindly accepted by others, which then repeat it. Eventually, whether something is true or not, if it is repeated often enough, it seems to become fact.

  Like the idea that Renard's books spreads that the course is far more advanced than other paths and all the rest are just moving furniture around a burning house. This is so dogmatic religion that I can't believe people buy into this nonsense. There is no difference in this than a fundamentalist Christian believing that their religion is the only true religion and other religions are false.

  The sad thing is, is I have plenty of examples to show that Gary's so called "ascended masters" are not real, but people don't want to hear that. They don't want their fragile belief system to be shattered with facts. Renard makes the course special and does so by depreciating other paths and other teachers, both course and others. That in itself is dualism.

Comment by Ruby on March 29, 2013 at 12:33am

Hi Eric,

I understand what you are saying... especially with some of the forums.

In terms of disagreeing with how others behave, there's a great temptation to judge. This is where Eckhart really helps me. .. "Can I be the space for this?" (Space consciousness ... non resistance. "Accepting the Isness of all things") In Jesus' words, "In my defenselessness, my safety lies.".. I know from my personal experience ... the more something bothers me, the more it occurs. ... Can this be a coincidence? .. Or are we part of a bigger classroom? ... Often, everything shifts when I'm okay with it ... Could this be a coincidence?... Or is something greater happening? ... Could it be that when I invite the Holy Spirit into a situation.. a miracle happens. And it's taken me quite a while to realize that nothing random happens in salvation. "The way to perceive for Golden Rule behavior is to look out from the perception of your own holiness and perceive the holiness of others. "

"The sole responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept Atonement himself."

I'm glad you brought up the section on "listen, learn, and do". "This means Listen to My Voice, Learn to undo the error, and DO something to correct it." "Miracles are habits and should be involuntary. They should not be under conscious control. Consciously selected miracles can be misguided." "You will see miracles through your hands through me. You should begin each day with the prayer “Help me to perform whatever miracles you want of me today.”)"

Jesus made special reference to: " One of the major problems with miracle workers is that they are so sure that what they are doing is right, because they KNOW it stems from love, that they do not pause to let ME establish MY limits.
T 1 B 30g. While what he (Cacey”[46][sic]) did came from Me, he could NOT be induced to ask me each time whether I wanted him to perform this PARTICULAR miracle. If he had, he would not have performed any miracles that could not get through constructively, and would thus have saved himself unnecessary strain. He burned himself out with indiscriminate miracles, and to this extent did not fulfill his own full purpose, and was also subject to the Scribal error I mentioned at the start. The Disciples were also prone to this. T(19) -19
T 1 B 30h. The answer is NEVER perform a miracle without asking me IF you should. This spares you from exhaustion, and because you act under direct communication the trance becomes unnecessary. Because miracles are expressions of love, it does NOT follow that they will always be effective. I am the only one who can perform miracles indiscriminately, because I AM the Atonement. You have a ROLE in Atonement, which I will dictate TO you."

I respect your passion.  Namaste 

Comment by Eric G. on March 28, 2013 at 8:16am

Ruby wrote:

Hi Eric, The following from Urtext was helpful to me in addressing this question of "I need do nothing', which I think all Course students ask at one point or another:

"T 1 B 36f.       Consider the Golden Rule again. You are asked to behave toward others as you would have them behave toward you.[57] This means that the perception of both must be accurate, since the Golden Rule is the Order for appropriate behavior. You can’t behave appropriately unless you perceive accurately, because appropriate behavior DEPENDS on lack of level confusion. The presence of level confusion ALWAYS results in variable reality testing, and hence variability in behavioral appropriateness."

... I have experienced this Course differently at different stages of my journey.  It is "a highly individualized curriculum" ... I think it is not what you do or don't do... but the energy with which you do it... from littleness...or magnitude.    Remembering that  littleness is "of myself I can do nothing"... but 'with God, it is done through me'. ... and that has to be inspired.. and not intellectual.  It comes from a deeper place.  We are moved by God.

Thanks for your posts.  Namaste.

Eric: So as not to completely hijack David's post, I thought this might be a more appropriate place to continue to discuss this.

  You're right Ruby, it is about the intent behind the action, since as the course says, action must occur in time. And as we're asked to join the Great Crusade the course says

As you share my inability to tolerate lack of love in  yourself and others, you must join the Great Crusade to correct it.  The slogan for the Crusade is "Listen, learn and  do": Listen to my voice, learn to undo error, and    do something to correct it. The first two are not enough.     The real members of my party are activeworkers.~ACIM


Eric: Yet, this is what I want to point out and be clear, so there is no confusion on my stance. The course is not about change at the level of behavior, but changing one's mind. Yet, this in no way dismisses behavior, because cause and effect CANNOT be separate.

  What I have seen though, is a complete dismissal of behavior saying the course has nothing to do with behavior. That is a completely innaccurate statement, unless the reader and/or teacher wants to dismiss the countless passages that speak of behavior and action.

  I don't think this is as much as to where a person is on this path, as much as it is about accepting and adopting faulty explanations from "authority" figures. You have experienced first hand what happens when this faulty premise is put into action through this distortion of the course's teachings. You get someone who is disrespectful, vile, mean-spirited, etc. and then laughs about it, using the "reasoning" that it doesn't matter, because it is all an illusion and the course is not about behavior.

  The passage "Seek not to change the world" has been separated and taken out of context to the point where I have seen people say that doing anything in the world is making error real and/or reinforcing error. The distortion of this faulty premise has created a thought system that believes apathy is equated to spirituality.

  What's even more interesting is the belief that as the reader reads the later chapters, the earlier concrete chapters in the beginning should be let go of, even though the author says the earlier chapters are such an important foundation for the later chapters. This means that the earlier chapters are not to be dismissed, but to be intergrated into the whole.

  The idea "I need do nothing" meaning that the person literally do nothing, because nothing ever happened, is level confusion. It is the attempt to counteract error with "knowledge" rather than doing as the course says and correct error from the bottom up. Besides, it is completely apparent the fact that error is in a person's awareness means that knowledge is not. When the course refers to I need do nothing, this needs to be put into context of what it is saying. It is referring to coming to the quiet part of the mind, to the Holy Spirit, to the place where we can rest. It is not telling the person to be apathetic in their lives and to the world.

 Here are some points I want to make about behavior or action does not automatically make error real.

1. Helen scribing the course and Bill helping her. The actions further taken for it to be brought to the masses.

2. Jesus did not just sit around and accept the Atonement for himself. According to writings and according to the author of the course, Jesus was very active in the world.

3. If what some teachers say about behavior and trying to change the world makes error real, then it logically follows that any article written, any book written, any YouTube video made, or any retreat, lecture, "spiritual" cruise getaway is thus making error real. All of which stem from behavior.

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