"You" in the Course

A student has asked me to write about the use of “you” in A Course in Miracles, some of which makes him uncomfortable in his ego-identification.

In the world, you have three experiences of “you”: “You” in your identification with ego; “you” as the neutral decision-maker who can choose ego or Holy Spirit; “you” as Part of God (Christ Mind; Holy Spirit). The Real “you” is Part of God. The decision-maker “you” is, like the ego, your separated mind, but it has stepped back from the active separation-seeking of the ego, and so is neutralized enough to be able to choose either further separation (ego), or healing (Holy Spirit).

A Course in Miracles addresses “you” in each of these experiences at different times. But the Course is a conversation between Helen Schucman and our Christ Mind (represented to her by Jesus), and the “you” in the Course is quite specific to Dr. Schucman and her experiences as she took down the Course (for example, for her “your brother” referred specifically to Bill Thetford). Dr. Schucman was the first student of the Course, and just like the rest of us when we started the Course, she was deeply embedded in ego. So the “you” in the Course is directed toward a beginner student who is still very ego-identified, and hearing the ideas in the Course for the first time. Each of us learns from Dr. Schucman’s conversation with our Christ Mind because ego and Christ are the same in all of us.

You will probably read the Text of the Course several times over your life, and naturally move away from the deep ego-identification you had in your early years of study. The Course will stay the same, but as you grow toward full awareness of your Oneness with God you will read it differently. In the beginning, those passages that discuss “you” in ego-identification will make you uncomfortable, even when you recognize what it is saying is true. You may find it hard to accept the power that is given to “you”, the decision-maker. And you may be surprised by those passages that refer to “you” as Part of God, and vacillate between incredulity and feeling great comfort. But over time, as you begin to identify with the Holy Spirit, you will read the Course as a simple statement of fact: The ego works this way; the Truth is you are One with God; ego and the Holy Spirit are the only choices in your mind. Any discomfort you feel reading the Course – no matter which “you” it is referring to – comes from your ego-identification, and is a good indicator of the beliefs that you need to bring into the open with the Holy Spirit.


Brother Gi said…
I have definitely found it to be true that one's understanding of the text grows as you do. I clearly remember my early years with the Course where very little of it seemed to make sense to me.

Now, even though it's the same text that I puzzled over when I was younger, very little of it does *not* make sense to me.

I find this quite remarkable and a little shocking every time I think of it. How can a text seem to change so fundamentally simply because the reader has changed?

I can only conclude that we distort almost everything we see and read far more than we realise.

Thanks for sharing these insights :)

Brother Gi
Joanna said…
The course has fundamentally changed who I am so profoundly over time. Thank you for your explanation of the "you," although it hasn't made me uncomfortable, I just don't think I ever gave it much thought before today. I think I tended to get stuck most when I thought of the ego as the enemy. Once I was able to treat it as a part of myself that needed work, I was better.

Your description caused me to pause and think of my growth over time, what things must have been like for Helen, and the power behind our study of the Course.

My understanding of the text and lessons has certainly morphed and grown as I stay in the process. Thank you for your insight.

ACIM Mentor said…
Joanna, I just wanted to clarify something here. The ego is not you. It is an idea in your mind, a thought system that you made to be separate from God. It is not a part of you that "needs work" - the ego would love you to believe that! It doesn't care if you love it or hate it, it just wants you to believe in it. You have to let go of ego. Don't embrace it, don't fight it - let it go. Forgive yourself your perception that you are an ego.
Brother Gi said…
"You have to let go of ego. Don't embrace it, don't fight it - let it go."

I agree completely with that statement, ACIM Mentor. Too many people, including myself when I first started, feel that they need to somehow fight and overcome the ego. This does not work! It only makes it stronger.

As ACIM says: The Holy Spirit (and therefore you) corrects errors simply by overlooking them.

Simply by overlooking them. Never by fighting them. It is not your job to correct your errors. It is the Holy Spirit's job, and he does that simply by overlooking them...

Brother Gi
Joanna said…
Thank you for the clarity there. The ego is an illusion that I created to keep myself separated. I see what you mean. I greatly appreciate the insight.
will said…
While there is a conversation going on with Helen, I had thought the Course was directed at the decision maker.

ACIM Mentor said…
Well, it's ultimately in your decision-maker mode that you sort out Truth and illusion so that you can see Truth clearly enough to choose it. But much of the Course talks to "you" in an ego mind-set, sort of saying "This is the way you think now, but here's another way."
will said…
It's the middle of the night and I woke up thinking about this so here goes...
The use of the word "you" has caused me no end of frustration and misunderstanding and has made the Course incredibly difficult to understand. For instance say the Course material is explaining Forgiveness.In the space of a few paragraphs the word "you" can be used in all three contexts. To understand Forgiveness it is critical to know which "you", which LEVEL, is being discussed. We end up thinking all kinds of things that we can do as humans that are the reserved for the Christ mind or meant for the Decision Maker and vice versa. As I study and try to conceptualize in my brain what is being said it just becomes a nightmare and adds years to the understanding of the Course. I keep wanting to mention this to you as you are writing a book but never seem to get around to it. Maybe if a system was used that had "you(e)" for you the ego or "you(cm)" for Christ mind. I'm glad Joanna brought this up.

ACIM Mentor said…
Actually, Will, Joanna did not bring it up, she was just one of the first to comment.

I'm addressing this very issue in my book, which I hope will make your study of the Course much easier. I'm in the final proof-read, and will be giving my manuscript to my agent in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

As I've worked with the Course I've developed a whole list of reasons why the Course can be so difficult to understand. One of the primary reasons is that it was a conversation in Helen's mind, and therefore lots of clarifying elaborations are left out because Helen knew what she was talking about, and Jesus knew too! The use of "you" in three different ways is one of the results.
will said…
Actually Liz it was 2:00am when I wrote that... Sorry to steal your thunder
ACIM Mentor said…
Actually, Will, I'm not sure what thunder you are referring to...I didn't know I had any to steal!
will said…
Hah! :-)

I spend more time learning about Forgiveness online with you than any other source I have :-) Seriously. About three months ago I put the books down, as far as studying. I kept getting 'messages' about practicing the Course. One of them was listening to you on ACIM Gather where you talked about the need to practice. I had just gone as far as I could with studying. I soon ran into this quote (one of many many). It's from What Is Forgiveness at the beginning of the lessons PII. "Do nothing, then, and let forgiveness show you what to do, through Him Who is your Guide..." Bang! Once I started practicing forgiveness and was serious about it I began really learning again.

Anyway, I suppose you will continue to be an internet teacher to me as I keep reacting negatively to what you write. This time around it came to me about four or five hours later as I was ruminating, that I wasn't to take this stuff serious. Taking it serious keeps me locked in guilt and prevents me from letting go of being badly taught. There's more, lots more but I'll stop.
ACIM Mentor said…
I'm happy to serve you with many opportunities to forgive, Will! I'm glad you are putting practice before study, too...
Joanna said…
Away from the "you" and back to the ego as the enemy. It may be what causes separation and when it strengthens it prevents atonement, but it is something most of us have. The Course really focuses on it as the "enemy" when it seems to make more sense to make peace with it so that it can slowly be "let go"....

I may not be my "ego" and the person I am has grown and morphed as a result of my "ego".... So to constantly treat it as "bad" seems so contradictory. What about acceptance first, understanding second, and then the slow but steady process of the atonement. Even in the writings I see on this blog, I notice the desire to be "correct" in interpreting the "Course"..that feels very ego driven to me. It is a "self study" and the interpretations on a personal level and our own understanding of "God" and "Atonement" are most important. What works for one person, may not work for another. Jesus directed Helen, he'll direct all of us, but the path to atonement may be slightly different depending on who is walking it.

I have also heard it people ask for clarification or an explanation of things written in the Course. "What did He mean here?" Well, I have always felt that He meant exactly what it says. To change the wording changes the meaning of the text and lessons. I have found it most important to pray for understanding of the Course and to read and re-read the words so that they take on meaning to me. Like the Bible we can interpret things so differently, but what is written is EXACTLY what is meant... When we give our INTERPRETATION, we ultimately add our EGO into the whole thing.
Anonymous said…
U ppl belong in the looney bin

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