I attended this workshop a few weeks ago at the Foundation for A Course in Miracles in Temecula, California. What I transcribed is only less than half of the first hour and a half. It was incredibly difficult to condense this workshop and I apologize in advance because the only way to really do it justice would be to print the whole thing. I hope you will visit http://facim.org/ where you will find a huge amount of material compiled from Ken's writings and lectures.
The title is taken from the latter part of the text. The ego is a game that children's play. At the end of the section "What is sin?" in Part II of the Workbook, Jesus says, "Shall we not put away these sharp-edged children's toys?" (W-P-II.4.5:1,2) . It's very helpful to see that the ego-thought system is a game and the defenses that the ego employs are simply toys. Sin, guilt, attack, pain… are all aspects of special relationships.
What has kept the ego going for billions of years is that we take it seriously. The text says that, "Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh." (T-27.VIII.6:2) We all remembered not to laugh at the tiny mad idea that we are separate from our Creator and our Source. We took it seriously. The seriousness with which we took it led to "its accomplishment and real effects." The accomplishment is that the ego thought system actually happened, the separation from God is now a fact, and we are separated from our Source and what seemed to be the real effects, is this world. The whole universe, the entire Cosmos is the effect, not of the tiny mad idea of being separate, but taking the tiny mad idea seriously.
By using the symbols of the toys and the metaphor that all these are games that we play, what Jesus is trying to do, is have us not take the ego thought system seriously. We take our body seriously; we take the body of our loved ones seriously. Within the dream bodies should be taken seriously, pain is not a laughing matter within the dream, but outside the dream it's a silly game, a toy.
Our experience is like that of children playing in a sandbox. The problem is that you are playing with all the little kiddies and you're throwing sand at each other's faces. All you have to do is stand up and the sand will never reach your eyes. The problem is not what the little kids are doing; the problem is you think you're one of them. All you have to do is stand up. That is the key to being defenseless which is the key to forgiveness. You can't be forgiving if you feel you've been attacked. You can only be defenseless when you realize no one is doing anything to you.
What we are asked to do in this Course is stand up in the sandbox with Jesus so we can be spiritual adults.
What does it mean when we get angry? Why is anger a children's toy? Anger says I've been hurt by the sand thrown in my face. So now I'm justified in getting angry. Anger is a way of pointing an accusing finger that says that you deserve to be punished for what you've done to me. Jesus tells us in the text that "Anger is never justified. " He doesn't say not to be angry. You can't be in a body without getting angry. He tells us that the reason there is sand in your face is because you stooped down to play with the kiddies. You forgot this is a game children play.
There is always a reason why we stoop down and play with the children in our lives. We do it so we can blame our misfortune of them. Anger is a lethal game as long as you think you're in the sandbox. It's a silly game if you stand up and realize you're not part of it.
Using the language of the course, standing up in the sandbox, means I'm above the battleground with Jesus, realizing I'm a mind and not a body. Playing in the sandbox is identifying with the body, living in the world as if there were a world, as if my survival depended on what my body does and not accepting responsibility for crawling around the sandbox. The problem is not what these children did to me, but what I did to me. Nobody dragged me down into the sandbox. I willingly went down. The Course helps us recognize why we go down; why we choose to play.
We don't want to be told that our lives are not important and that God and Jesus don't know about us. We want them to be a personal physical psychological self that we call by name that is real and therefore is serious. We don't want to be told that Jesus is only a thought in the mind that represents a thought that we are. We don't want to be thoughts, we want to be bodies. And we want the body to be taken very seriously. That is why we made bodies, with an elaborate sensory system. We made them with pain receptors, not only physical but psychological. Pain screeches: the body is real, my ego is real and I should be taken very seriously.
We all know to bodies pain is very serious, but that doesn't make it real. It makes it seemingly real within the dream. We forget that the purpose of this Course, is to lead us along so we one day awaken from the dream; not to live more happily, not to live pain-free as bodies within the dream. That will get you nowhere. It will get you somewhere, but within the dream, it won't get you out of the dream. The ultimate purpose of this course is to lead you outside the dream.
When we are asleep at night and we dream, we think the characters in the dream are real people and we respond to them as if they were real people. When we awaken, we recognize that the dream figures are symbols; they are representations of thoughts. They are not real. Nothing happened in my bedroom last night when I was dreaming. It's a dream; a dream that we take very seriously.
We take everything very seriously. We let it get to us, we let it affect us, disturb us. We let it make us happy, give us pleasure, bring us pain. We are always running back to Jesus saying "look, this world is not an illusion. Look at the pain, the suffering, look what's going on in the world. Look at the torture, the war, and the natural occurrences that wreck such havoc in people's lives. Don't tell me this world is an illusion." We are all doing that. Every time we take any aspect of our life or anyone else's life seriously.
A line in CH 27, discusses the way out of suffering: "All that is needed is you look upon the problem as it is, and not the way that you have set it up." (T-27.VII.2:2) You don't have to change anything. You don't have to judge what you do; just look at it. Look at the seriousness with which we approach our lives and other people's lives.
What if you recognized this world is an hallucination? What if you really understood you made it up? The you, is not the person sitting in this room. The you, is the decision making mind, the dreamer, the author of your script. If you knew this world was an hallucination, would you take it seriously? How could you take it seriously unless you were psychotic?
Jesus' problem is that he is dealing with psychotic boys and girls who do not want to set free their hallucinations. That's why we ask him to fix things for us. We ask him to fix our broken relationships, our cars, our jobs. We tell him there is a problem in the Middle East. Fix it for us! We ask him to join in our psychotic delusion.
We believe there is a world that has to be saved; a body that has to be healed and we miss the whole point of this Course. What if we recognized this world as an hallucination? That is the question we should ask ourselves all the time. When you look in your bathroom mirror you are looking at an hallucination; a projection of the delusional thought that says that the tiny mad idea not only happened, but is a serious event.
This Course is not asking you to deny your experience in this world: physical or psychological. But it is asking you not to take it seriously. Hallucinations disappear when they are recognized for what they are. This is the healing and the remedy; recognize them for what they are. Look at the problem as it is and not as you set it up. The problem is not what your eyes see; not what you experience, but that you believe in it. It's your belief that's the problem.
The problem is not what the kiddies do with the sand they are throwing at you, but that you believe there is something is going on and you stoop down to play in it. The problem is not the ego thought system, or the tiny mad idea of being separate from God. The problem is not the whole Universe that arose from that tiny mad idea. The problem is we believe it. They are hallucinations that are the projections of a delusional thought system that says the tiny mad idea is real and serious and I am the effect of that reality and that seriousness.
I believe that as long as I can persuade God, the Holy Spirit or Jesus to join me in my hallucination I'm fine. That is why people love to ask Jesus for help. And we think they are doing a noble, spiritual, wonderful think and what we are doing is perpetuating a thought system that never happened. The real Jesus, as a symbol of the purity of right minded thinking, is the Atonement thought that says nothing happened so nothing has to be done. Just learn to smile at the seriousness with which you approach life.
And all you need to do is recognize that you did this. The you is not the you that is reading this book ; not the person you call yourself. The you, is your decision making mind.
If all this is an hallucination, why would Jesus address an hallucination? Unless he shared in your delusional thinking, in which case, he is of no use to you. The Jesus of the Gospels shares in the delusional thinking that wrote it. Please don't confuse the Jesus of the gospels, or the Jesus of the Christian tradition with the Jesus of this Course. The Jesus of this course is a symbol. It never existed because we never existed.
The Jesus you want to relate to is a living symbol of the love that is in your mind. So when you grow up you realize that there is no Jesus and there is no you. It's the top of the ladder which is a metaphor for the journey. At the top of the ladder there is no individual self. Jesus is a very important and helpful symbol that will help you get to the top of the ladder. But if you keep insisting he's real, and you keep insisting you are real, you'll never make it to the top, which is what the ego wants.
All you need do is recognize that you did this. Once you accept the simple fact and take onto yourself the power you gave away, you are release from it.
Lesson 132 is one of the most important lessons in the Workbook: "I loose the world from all I thought it was." It's in that lesson that we find the line "There is no world! This is the central thought the course attempt to teach." If you truly want to solve the problems of the world; If you truly want to be helpful to the people you love, you must recognize that there is no world. Without these underlying metaphysics, you do not have A Course in Miracles.
If you think Jesus wrote A Course in Miracles, then you don't understand symbols. Our collective right mind wrote this book, but because we think we are individuals, we have a mythology of a person named Helen, a person named Bill, a person named Jesus and the whole story. This doesn't mean that the story is not true in the dream, but it's a dream. We're not ready to understand the reality beyond the dream. So we need symbols. We need the indirect learning that chapter 14 talks about. We need the indirect learning until we are ready for the direct learning which happens at the very end. The direct learning is that there is no world. There is no body, there is no wrong mind; it's all made up. That's the acceptance of the Atonement. The Atonement is the Course's principle that says the separation from God never happened. We need to accept the Atonement for ourselves. That is our purpose in being here, that is saying there is no world that affects me. Before I can truly know that the world is really an hallucination coming from a delusional thought system, I still identify as a body, but now I can identify as a body that knows it can't be hurt by anyone outside.
Yes, my body can be hurt, but I now realize I'm a mind. I'm a dreamer dreaming a dream in which my body is hurt by someone else or something else. Whether it's a microorganism or another human being. Bodies can be hurt; bodies can be killed. Bodies can be tortured, but it's the thought you want to correct. If you really want to help people, you can't help them by being part of the problem that you are trying to help them escape from.
Once you accept the simple fact that we did this, the beginning of Chapter 27 says "The secret to salvation is this, that you are doing this unto yourself," you are released. Even if you are not yet ready to truly accept that you are not even here, you can begin the process of indirect learning of not giving power to what has no power.
Purpose is the single most important theme in this course. Once you understand purpose you understand why you are here and why you react the way you do. "Only two purposes are possible. And one is sin, the other holiness. Nothing is in between, and which you choose determines what you see. For what you see is merely how you elect to meet your goal. " (T-20.VIII.9:1-4)
What is your goal? What is your purpose? If your purpose is to remain within the dream, to remain a special individual, with special talents, special suffering, abilities, special inadequacies, then you adjust everything in your world to meet that goal. And that goal is very serious.
In this Course Jesus is knocking gently in our minds saying: what you are upset about is not there; it's a projection of your guilt of your having chosen the wrong teacher. Of having chosen the ego instead of me. That's all it is. No matter what the form of our distress or problem, his loving presence is the symbol of our healed right mind that is saying that this is not the case. The secret of salvation is this that you doing this unto yourself. All you need to recognize is that you did this. Look at the problem as it is and not the way you set it up.
Play with your children's toys, just don't think they are reality. Don't' think that anything you do that involves your body is a spiritual activity. It's not. The only spiritual activity possible in this world is forgiveness.
Once you accept this simple fact and take unto yourself the power you gave the world; the power you gave a virus, bacteria, a government, a person at work, a person in your family, the weather. Once you take the power back, you are released from all the pain. The pain does not come from anything external. There is nothing external. How could it give you pain? Pain comes from your belief there is something external, form the belief that you are something external i.e.; a body.
It's very helpful to understand our resistance. The way to make progress in this course is to recognize our resistance to it without beating ourselves up for it. I do not want to let go of who I am and my specialness. That doesn't make you a bad person. Recognizing that gives you an A+ for the day. I want a happier dream on my terms not on the courses' terms. Recognizing that without judgment is very helpful.
We want to be in control of our life and of this course so that it says what we want it to say. Instead of our going to where it is, we bring it down to where we are. It's very helpful to be aware of that need to bring this Course to our level rather for us to go into its level.