This blog post is a bit different than usual, in the sense that I’ll be presenting a ‘Kennish’ commentary on the section called “The selection of patients” in the Psychotherapy pamphlet. Not that I feel like imitating Ken, but as Gary Renard noted in his new book, which is dedicated to Kenneth Wapnick: “I cannot be you, but like you, I can stick to the truth”. The two pamphlets (“Psychotherapy” and “The Song of Prayer”) have a slight tendency to be overlooked. They were not included in A Course in Miracles until the current third edition, and had to be acquired separately. In my view, Jesus presents in these pamphlets not only some very important study material, but also some of the most poetically moving messages in the entire Course, to help us attain that deeply desired lasting inner peace. The section at hand (P.3.I) proceeds from the notion that everyone in this world is both pupil and teacher; both patient as well as therapist, as everybody demonstrates and learns all the time. Everyone’s behavior mirrors the beliefs or devotions (altars) in his mind, and minds are joined. We can therefore choose to see our own salvation in anyone we meet. Plus, there is no such thing as a chance meeting:
“Everyone who is sent to you is a patient of yours. This does not mean that you select him, nor that you choose the kind of treatment that is suitable. But it does mean that no one comes to you by mistake. There are no errors in God’s plan. It would be an error, however, to assume that you know what to offer everyone who comes. This is not up to you to decide. There is a tendency to assume that you are being called on constantly to make sacrifices on behalf of yourself for those who come. This could hardly be true. To demand sacrifice of yourself is to demand a sacrifice of God, and He knows nothing of sacrifice. Who could ask of Perfection that He be imperfect?” (P-3.I.1)
If someone passes us by on the street, we do not usually think of this person as someone who is deliberately brought to us as a forgiveness lesson. Yet Jesus assures us that there are no chance encounters. Everyone we meet offers us an opportunity to undo our own unconscious guilt and fear; that is, if we choose to have the meeting, however brief, be a holy encounter. This is the Course’s term for the decision to see no separate interests between you and whom you meet. We may look differently, behave differently, have different ideas, values, and plans, but in essence we are the same (i.e., pure spirit) and we yearn for the same: returning to the Love of God. This oneness in being and purpose is explained for example in chapter 8: “When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself. Whenever two Sons of God meet, they are given another chance at salvation. Do not leave anyone without giving salvation to him and receiving it yourself.” (T-8.III.4)
When we try to behave like this on our own, that is, from the ego, an unconscious pain of seeming sacrifice will never be far behind, as the ego’s maxim is always one or the other. If my ego gives kindness, I unconsciously experience this as giving something away I would really rather keep for myself. That’s why Jesus says that on my own I cannot know what to offer everyone who comes. But there is a Teacher within me Who knows: The Holy Spirit, the true Psychotherapist. Only by giving the guidance of my thoughts to the Holy Spirit, by not judging, will the encounter become a Holy encounter, and will the both of us (me and the person whom I meet) benefit fully. The pamphlet continues in the same vein:
“Who, then, decides what each brother needs? Surely not you, who do not yet recognize who he is who asks. There is Something in him that will tell you, if you listen. And that is the answer: listen. Do not demand, do not decide, do not sacrifice. Listen. What you hear is true. Would God send His Son to you and not be sure you recognize his needs? Think what God is telling you; He needs your voice to speak for Him. Could anything be holier? Or a greater gift to you? Would you rather choose who would be god, or hear the Voice of Him Who is God in you?” (P-3.I.2)
How often have you and I been sure what would be best for a particular person, and pressed this on them? Yet in doing so, we are merely projecting away some ego pain in ourselves that we refuse to face. And although the pamphlet comes in the specific context of an earthly patient—therapist relationship, for psychotherapists the advice is no different: stop judging, convinced you know best, and listen. “Most of the world’s teaching follows a curriculum in judgment, with the aim of making the therapist a judge”. (P-3.II.2:4). Remember: “If you point out the errors of your brother’s ego you must be seeing through yours, because the Holy Spirit does not perceive his errors. […] When you react at all to errors, you are not listening to the Holy Spirit. […] If you do not hear Him [the Holy Spirit], you are listening to your ego and making as little sense as the brother whose errors you perceive.” (T-9.III.3:1;4:1-4). Again, practicing Jesus’ Course in Miracles requires us to humbly step back and let the Voice for God lead our thoughts.
Next, Jesus states that these principles do not apply just to people we physically meet, but equally so to people we think of: “Your patients need not be physically present for you to serve them in the Name of God. This may be hard to remember, but God will not have His gifts to you limited to the few you actually see. You can see others as well, for seeing is not limited to the body’s eyes. Some do not need your physical presence. They need you as much, and perhaps even more, at the instant they are sent. You will recognize them in whatever way can be most helpful to both of you. […] A name, a thought, a picture, an idea, or perhaps just a feeling of reaching out to someone somewhere. The joining is in the hands of the Holy Spirit. It cannot fail to be accomplished.” (P-3.I.3)
This can indeed be tough to remember. If we sincerely smile at someone we meet, we usually experience an immediate effect (or reward, depending on which teacher looks at it). However, to read that thinking kindly of someone has at least as powerful an effect, sounds odd (or uncomfortable) to us. However, if we remember the Course’s metaphysical principle that minds are joined, this principle suddenly becomes obvious. Even in the case of a physical encounter, the real joining — and therefore healing — takes place on the level of the mind. So why should physical distance matter? Or even time, the fourth dimension of space, for that matter? As Jesus says in Chapter 28: “Join not your brother’s dreams but join with him [his mind, not his body], and where you join His Son the Father is.” (T-28.IV.10:1)
“A holy therapist, an advanced teacher of God, never forgets one thing: he did not make the curriculum of salvation, nor did he establish his part in it. He understands that his part is necessary to the whole, and that through it he will recognize the whole when his part is complete. Meanwhile he must learn, and his patients are the means sent to him for his learning. What could he be but grateful for them and to them? They come bearing God. Would he refuse this Gift for a pebble, or would he close the door on the Savior of the world to let in a ghost? […] Who calls on him is far beyond his understanding. Yet would he not rejoice that he can answer, when only thus will he be able to hear the call and understand that it is his?” (P-3.I.4)
I’m sure you and I do not know of many psychotherapists who think and act this way. Yet see how simple it is (though not necessarily easy) for you and me to make this a daily practice! After all, we usually meet dozens of people a day, and we can think of hundreds more if we so choose. That’s hundreds of opportunities to give the Holy Spirit permission to heal the mind! This requires that I choose to withhold my own judgment, turn inward, and ask the Holy Spirit to lovingly guide me. Combine that with the realization that you and I are not bodies, but spirit joined in one Mind — the Christ Mind — with the guarantee to make it Home to the Heart of God (we actually never left, but we need a different experience to realize this), then I’d say you and I are offered a very attractive curriculum by Jesus, one that we cannot fail to pass. And should we not fully succeed in this lifetime, we’ll at least have given ourselves a great gift for our next lifetime, in which we can finish this “journey without distance to a goal that has never changed” (T-8.VI.9:7). Happy practicing!
See also “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com: