Author Gary Renard On Love and Forgiveness, Mass Metaphysical Denial, And The True Meaning Of Jesus

I picked up my first copy of the book A Course in Miracles circa 2005. I had heard it referenced by many of the spiritual teachers I was into at the time and figured I should probably check it out. One of my first memories of reading the Course was sitting on a hospital bed while waiting for x-rays on my ankle from a skateboarding accident. I remember reading the introduction, which said, “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” Sounds good right? Well I’d be completely full of shit if I said I had some revelation, or really even any clue as to what that meant. It sounded neat and esoteric however, so I read on. After a couple of weeks, I put the Course aside as it was the equivalent to reading a book written in Chinese. I happily went back to reading my books by Ram Dass and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche….At least I could understand some of them, or at least pretend to when talking about them.

Fast-forward to 2007. I was in a local library when I stumbled on an audio book called Secrets of the Immortal: Advanced Teachings from a Course in Miracles. I’d again be lying if I said I had any revelation from this audio book, not because its content wasn’t sufficient, but because I downloaded it to my computer and never listened to it. Again, I went back to reading my others spiritual texts, at this point I’d advanced to the like of Ken Wilber & Sri Ramana Maharshi, definitely much harder to pretend to know what they were saying in conversation, but I tried.

One year later, in 2008, for whatever reason, I looked at my copy of A Course in Miracles and made the resolution that I was going to finally read it, and not only read it, but understand it! Well, I can say that this time I stuck with it, for the most part. I remembered the audio book I’d ripped to my library the previous year, so I uploaded it to my trusty iPod and started listening to it on various commutes. Secrets of the Immortal actually broke the Course down in a comprehensive, yet user-friendly way that I could work with.

About half way through the audio book I realized I didn’t even know who I was listening too (damn bootlegged copies), so I went back to the computer and found out it was Gary Renard. That name really meant nothing to me at the time, nor did any of the other Course teachers like Kenneth Wapnick or Marianne Williamson, as this is not a particularly sought after spiritual path. Not because it’s a strict discipline, or there is dogma attached to it. If anything, it’s the complete opposite of that.

After completing Gary’s audio book, I moved on to the first of his two books published by Hay House, titled The Disappearance of the Universe. I picked up DU (as it’s often referred to by it’s readers) and was literally engulfed from the moment I started. Not only did it continue to break down the Course in a way that I could understand, but it also talked about many contemporary issues, and how they could be seen differently through the Course. I finished DU in about a week and picked up a copy of Your Immortal Reality.

Your Immortal Reality really solidified my faith in Gary’s teachings as after I finished it, I had absolutely no problem reading and understanding A Course in Miracles. That’s not to say I don’t have to sit with, and contemplate many of its passages from time to time, but without Gary’s work, my copy of A Course in Miracles would still be collecting dust on the bookshelf. So just what in the hell is A Course in Miracles? Read on and find out! (*Note- I would like to reiterate that while A Course in Miracles is my own, personal spiritual path, I, in no way, wish to promote, or endorse it more than any other spiritual tradition, many of which have been wonderful catalysts on my spiritual path, and I still draw from to this day.)

The Gary Renard Interview PT I of II

TIS: So let’s just get right into it…According to A Course In Miracles (also known as ACIM), the interview you and I are doing right now is an illusion. Can you explain that for those not familiar with ACIM’s teaching?

GR: Sure. People can think of the universe of time and space as being a projection. Those who have read my books know that I like to go to the movies, and an analogy I like to make is this, I go into the movie theater and I want it to be real. The lights go down and my attention is diverted to the screen. As I start to focus on the screen, I may get sucked into the story, possibly becoming emotional, or even talking to the screen. So I forget that there’s not really anything happening there, that it’s a trick, an illusion, a sleight of hand. The American Indians use to say, “behold, the great mystery”. Well the Course says “behold, the great mystery”, but it also says “behold, the great projection”. It’s actually a projection coming from a projector, which is hidden. When you’re in a movie theater, you’re not supposed to think about the projector, you’re supposed to forget about it and focus on the screen, and that’s what people are doing here too. They’re focusing on the screen that we call life, and they think it’s reality, but as the Hindu’s, Buddhist’s & ACIM says, it’s actually an illusion. The Course further refines that idea into this being like a dream that we will awaken from, and it’s that awakening that is the equivalent of enlightenment. It’s what Buddha meant when he said “I am awake”. He had actually awoken form the entire dream of time and space.

So let’s say I’m in the movie theater and I want to change what’s on the screen, not in a temporary way, but permanently. A way where I can really have something happen that would work. If I wanted to change what was on that screen, it wouldn’t do me too much good to go up and fool around with it. I would have to remember that there is a projector which is hidden in the back, that I’m not supposed to think about that. Well, if I really want to change what’s on the screen in a permanent way, then not only would I have to remember that there’s a projector, I would also have to find it, and change what’s in it.

Now if I were to do that, I would be dealing with the cause, instead of the effect. I would be coming from a position of power because I’d be doing something that could work permanently instead of only temporarily. It would give me real power because I would be dealing with the cause, and not the effect, which is what the Course teaches, which is that it is a course in cause, and not effect. It also says “seek not to change the world, seek rather to change your mind about the world”. That’s because when you go to the mind, you’re going to where the projector is hidden, where this universe of time and space is coming from. What we’re seeing is coming from a projector that is actually hidden in the unconscious mind. I’m not just talking about an individual unconscious mind, which some people call the subconscious. I’m talking about the unconscious mind we all share. There’s really only one of us sharing this unconscious mind and that’s where the universe of time and space is coming from.

So think of it as being like a movie that you’re watching. The Course says you’re revealing mentally that which has already gone by. So it’s already over as far as the Course is concerned, and we’re just watching it. We feel however, that we’re actually in it, and the way out, is to change what’s in the mind according to the Course. It’s a different form of forgiveness than most people think about however, which we’ll get into. So what that does, is it undoes this thing that I’ll call the “ego”. You can think of the ego as being the idea of separation, the idea that we’ve taken on this individual identity and personal existence that is somehow separate from its source.

Our experience now, is that we’re separate, which the body personifies. We feel like we’re in bodies, and separate from other people, as well as our source, which is God. So you can think of the ego as the idea of separation. What the Course and other great spiritual teachings do is they undo the ego. That’s one of the things taught to me by my teachers in The Disappearance of the Universe as well as Your Immortal Reality. They taught me the Course and what it means, using hundreds of quotations from it to demonstrate what it is actually saying. They did it in such a way that I could go back and truly understand it’s teaching. During their second visit, my teachers told me that I was going to buy my first copy of the Course, so I did, and it made no sense to me at all. It may as well have been written in a foreign language. After seven or eight visits from them however, I could go back and read the Course, and it actually made sense. After seeing that, I believed there was something there, and that it was going to work.

So even though it took a long time for the book to be ready, I stuck with it. It was a labor of love. I never knew If it would be published or not, or what the reaction would be. It’s since worked out very well though. The thing my teachers taught me was that salvation, as the Course says, is undoing. The reason that’s a brilliant approach is because if you were to undo the ego, which is the false you, if you could completely accomplish that job, then eventually the real you would be all that’s left. The real you has nothing to do with the universe of time and space. The real you is what the course would call spirit, but the Course uses words differently than most people understand them. When the Course says “spirit”, it’s not talking about an idea of individuality. Most people think of spirit as being the equivalent of the soul. You have a soul and die, and there’s this thing that goes on after you, which looks suspiciously like the body you just left. Well that’s still an idea of individuality and separation.

When ACIM uses the word “spirit”, it’s not talking about something that is part of it, it’s talking about something that is exactly the same as its source, which is God. It’s talking about something you can experience, and this experience is exactly the same as being God. In fact, the Course describes it as the awareness of perfect oneness, so it’s an experience you can have, even while you appear to be here walking around in a body. The fastest way to have that experience is to undo the ego, which leaves you in a condition of spirit. At one point, the Course says that the mind is the activating agent of spirit. So it’s by choosing (and this is where forgiveness comes in) the way we think about people. We can choose to see them as being separate bodies, and if we do that, that’s how we’ll experience ourselves. If we think of them as being beyond their bodies though, then we’re doing what the Course suggests, which is look past the veil, and overlooking the body. Eventually, we’ll come to experience our self as being spirit, but that’s only if you think of them as being nothing less than God, but instead, as being all of it.

There’s not one speck of information in the universe of time and space that your unconscious mind is not aware of. It really knows everything. It would have to have access because it’s projecting the universe of time and space, so it would have to have all of the information that is contained within it. Now, one of the things your unconscious mind knows, is that there is really only one of us. We think that we have six billion people out there, with millions of decisions to choose from, and trillions of objects in the universe of time and space. The truth is though, no matter how many times you divide and subdivide, there’s really only one of us that thinks it’s here. There’s just this one ego that thinks it’s separated itself from its source and taken on this personal identity and individual existence. There’s just one ego that thinks it’s here, and you’re it, it’s not somebody else, there isn’t anybody else.

Everything else is what the Hindu’s call the world of multiplicity. It’s literally a sleight of hand, an illusion. So we’ve been tricked by this thing, I’m calling the ego, because there is something we don’t know about it. The ego likes this idea of separation. It wants to keep it going, because it feels important & special. It’s like Jesus’ prodigal son story- he leaves his fathers house, going off on his own because he thinks he can do better, which turns out to be a mistake. All that he finds is scarcity, and you can’t have scarcity in heaven because what you have is an awareness of perfect oneness, which I mentioned earlier. In the condition of perfect oneness, you have all of it, and you can’t have scarcity if you have all of it. You also can’t have death when you have perfect oneness. It’ only when you have the split from that perfect oneness that you set up opposites and the possibility of an opposite to life, which is death, and the possibility of an opposite to abundance, which is scarcity.

So everything you’re seeing is based on duality. That’s why it says in the book of Genesis, you shall not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for the day you eat of it, you shall die. Well good and evil are opposites, and once you have opposites, you can have death. You can’t have death where there no opposites though, which is why ACIM says right in it’s introduction, the opposite of love is fear, but what is all encompassing, which is obviously God, can have no opposite. So what we want to do is get back to a place where there is no such thing as opposites, where there is no death or scarcity. That’s the idea of going home that Jesus is trying to convey in the prodigal son story. Eventually the prodigal son realized he had made a mistake, which is that he had left, and that the one decision he had to make was to go home, which he did. You notice also in that story, the prodigal son has a lot of strange ideas about himself. He thinks he’s guilty, and has ideas that he’s committed a sin against his father, and isn’t worthy to be called God’s on. So he says, well maybe if I go home I can start at the bottom and work my way up as one of His servants and get back into his good graces. What the prodigal son doesn’t understand is that God doesn’t share any of those ideas about him.

Both the Bible and ACIM say God is perfect love, so if perfect love really is perfect love, then all that God would know how to do is love. If he knew how to be angry, wrathful or judgmental, then it wouldn’t be perfect love. What ACIM does is give us a God that actually is perfect love and all that God wants is for us to come home. All the other ideas, as the Course puts it, are your own nightmare and do not exist. So in that sense, it really is a dream of guilt and separation that we’re having. The idea is to undo that through the process of forgiveness where you see people as being this perfect spirit, because your unconscious mind knows everything, and one of the things it knows is that there really is just one of us. So no matter what you think about another person, it isn’t going out to them, it’s going to you. Your unconscious mind will interpret it to be a message from you, to you, and about you, because it knows that there is really only one of us.

There’s a really important law of the mind that is articulated in A Course In Miracles which is simple, but true. It says, “As you see him, you will see yourself”, so whatever you’re thinking about another person is really just going to you. It will also determine how you feel about yourself and ultimately what you believe you are. You can believe that you’re a body and that you’re separate, or you can believe that you’re this perfect spirit which is exactly the same as God. According to the Course, mind is the activating agent of spirit and that is how you can actually change your experience of life, from a state of depression to a state of happiness. You gradually move over to the experience of being spirit.

The ironic thing is that you can still have your life. You don’t have to give anything up, you still live a normal life and have a good time. If you meet someone and fall in love, and want to get married, go for it. I just got married myself last year. Whatever is in front of your face is going to be for one of two purposes. You can either judge it, or forgive it. There will be times when you don’t have to forgive anything. The focus of ACIM is not on forgiving romantic a walks on the beach or music or art. The focus of the Course is on forgiving the negative emotions that come up.

The Course also says that anger is never justified. It doesn’t say that you’ll never get angry, I can pretty much guarantee you that you will. It does say that it is never justified and the sooner that you remember that, the less you’ll suffer. The reason that anger is never justified is because what you’re seeing is a projection that is coming from you. You’re the one who made it up and put those people there, you wanted them to be there. That may seem hard to believe at first, but that is exactly what you wanted. The guilt you felt over separating from God is seen as being outside of you, instead of within you. That’s the whole purpose of projection. A psychologist would tell you that whatever is denied, must be projected. Well what we’re looking at in the universe of time and space is actually something that is symbolic of separation, but it’s based on a massive metaphysical denial just before time began, just before what appeared to be the Big Bang in the universe of time and space.

There were these things that one ego felt very guilty about, and the way that that ego thought it could get rid of that guilt was to deny it. Once it was denied, it was projected outwards and that’s where the projection is coming from. The way home is to undo the projection, which once again is why the Course says that salvation is undoing. So by undoing it, eventually that experience of separation disappears. You return to the experience of perfect oneness and then you are enlightened, and as the Course puts it, the time will come when you’re scheduled to check out of here. So you’ll lay the body aside for the final time, and because there is no ego, there is no reason for you to come back. So that perfect oneness with God becomes a prominent experience for you, when you lay the body aside for the final time and simply go home. Then the experience of perfect oneness becomes your permanent reality.

TIS: Phew. I’ve read your books, and listened to your audio books numerous times, and that’s still a lot to take in. There’s a deep truth that resonates for me though as you speak however.

GR: Yeah, the Course says a lot, but you’ll notice that everything the Course says, all fits together, sort of like a hologram.

TIS: Right.

GR: You could say that the Course gives you two complete and mutually exclusive thought systems. You have the thought system of the Holy Spirit, which is all about love and forgives, and actually becoming love yourself in your experience, and the way you look at others, which will naturally result in you treating others with love. Then you have the ego thought system, which is all about judgment and condemnation. The Course says you can only do one of two things. It says, “He who would not forgive, must judge, for he must justify his failure to forgive”. So if you’re not going to forgive someone, then you have to make up a whole story about why they’re not worthy of your forgiveness, and it would take less time just to forgive them.

One of the other things I love about the Course is that it actually gives you a way home, a way out of this mess. I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy it while you’re here, it’s just that the body is temporary, it’s not going to last. People think it’s very valuable, but how valuable can something be when it’s temporary and it’s not going to last? The best thing you can use it for is to learn and communicate, and share the truth with people. The question is, how are you going to use the time that you’re here. A few times the Course asks what is it for, regarding what you’re seeing… what is it for? Well, it’s for forgiveness because by forgiving, you undo the ego and your experience will change, and it’s a better experience. It really is better to be a spirit than a body. It’s better to be a butterfly than a caterpillar, it’s a less restricted life form and a higher quality of life. It’s really a win-win situation.

You can still have your life and pretend that you’re a doctor, or a racecar driver, or do what I do, and pretend you’re a spiritual teacher and go all over the world and talk to people. My teachers Arten and Pursah told me that no matter what I do, my real job is forgiveness and everything else is just a cover job. The forgiveness opportunities will come up for people, and they come in many different forms. The Course says that the perfect lesson is always in front of you, though this is seldom recognized. So it’s no mystery what you’re supposed to forgive, which is whatever is right in front of your face. Those are the lessons that the Holy Spirit wants you to learn, and forgive.

It’s not always fun because this is a world of duality. You’re going to have both fun times and bad while you’re here. There’s no getting away from that as this is a world of opposites. So there will be times where you’ll have to forgive, and times when you won’t, as you’re having a good time and can just “celebrate” as the Course says. ACIM is a happy form of spirituality. It talks about the happy dream and being a happy learner. One of the ten characteristics of a teacher of God is joy. So this isn’t a suffering, morose form of spirituality. It’s not even a religion. ACIM is a self-study course. It’s done between you and the Holy Spirit or you and Jesus, or whatever you’d like to call it. Jesus is the teacher in the Course. He speaks in first person and it’s clear that it was given by him. So this is a happy form of spirituality, and I think that it’s changing the way that people look at the historical Jesus.

I’m happy to see that nowadays that when you go into Unity Churches, or you come over to my place, there’s a drawings and paintings of Jesus, and he’s laughing and smiling, and that’s the way he really was. He wasn’t some suffering, unhappy guy. He had a sense of humor and he was married to Mary Magdalene. He had normal relationships, and friends and they partied when they wanted too. They’d go to a wedding celebration that may last three weeks because that’s the way things were back then. I think you get a more accurate view of what life was like during the time Jesus lived by reading the Old Testament, more than you do reading the New Testament because that’s what it really was like. You read things like Solomon and it’s pretty racy stuff. There’s a lot of sexual things mentioned. The stuff about being puritans and goody two shoes came after Jesus. It didn’t have anything to do with what life was like while he was walking around. All of that was made up by the church because they wanted make up a religion and they did.

The message of Jesus got completely lost and turned into its opposite, which is a message of suffering and sacrifice, and that’s not what he was about at all. He was about the end of suffering and sacrifice. Probably the best illustration is the fact that he couldn’t feel any pain at the end of his life. As ACIM puts it, the guiltless mind cannot suffer, and Jesus’ mind had been completely healed by the Holy Spirit, so he had no guilt in his mind, which meant that he couldn’t suffer, which also meant that he couldn’t feel any pain. So this whole idea that somehow he suffered and sacrificed himself for our sins has nothing to do with him. It’s a made up theology by the apostle Paul. In fact, it’s Paul’s theology, that is the basis of Christianity. It’s not based on the teachings of Jesus.

So here you have a Jesus who could forgive anybody, even when they were killing him, but nowadays you have the “Christians” who can’t forgive people who have done nothing to them? There’s a contradiction here. It’s a convoluted version of Jesus. I think one of the reasons my books, and ACIM have done so well, and which I think will continue to, as the Course will be around for a thousand years, is because at the end of the day it makes sense. It’s a complete thought system. It all fits together and is based on love and forgiveness.

If you look at some of the old Greek texts, from the beginning of Christianity, they used to say (regarding the early Christians), “you’ll know them by their love”. The original meaning of the word “repent” in Greek is about a change of mind. It’s not about cleaning up your act on the level of the world. It’s really at the level of the mind and about a change of mind. That was the original idea, because they did get some of what Jesus was saying at the time. ACIM is all done at the level of the mind, because that’s the level of cause, and the world is just the effect. I’m not saying that you can’t have it, and enjoy it, but at the end of the day it’s a temporary experience.

It’s what the Buddhist’s call impermanence, and because it’s impermanent and temporary, you can’t find any permanent satisfaction or happiness there. It is definitely possible to find permanent happiness in changing the way you look at the world though, which again is why the Course says, “seek not to change the world, seek rather to change your mind about the world”. And if you do that you’ll be dealing with the level of cause instead of the effect, which is very important.

End of Part I

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