I had been revisiting a section of Ken Wapnick’s CD set, On Death & Dying: Ending? Continuing? Awakening?, a recording of an academy class held at the Foundation for A Course in Miracles in Temecula, California, in March 2011, in which Ken addresses the question of “scripts.” A metaphor used to describe the way in which we choose the specific circumstances of our experience here in this dream we call life to express our particular version of the ego’s tall tale of separation from our source realized, in an ultimately futile effort to prove we exist but it’s not our fault. It’s all those “others” abusing us on the screen.
In the moment in which we took the “tiny, mad idea” that we could separate from God seriously, we imagined all the possible scenarios of what that experience of fragmented reality would look like for every fragment. But because the impossible belief was immediately corrected, Ken says, we’re actually choosing to review a kind of lingering after-image from the perspective of the fragment we’ve chosen to identify with. It’s as if at any given point, I’m choosing to review a film in which I appear to star that I’ve already seen to prove I’m a body not a mind. A propaganda film created to support the same old ego message that I exist but it’s not my fault, it’s all those victimizers on the screen in a place we call here. Even though it’s actually really still there in the one decision-making mind we never really left. (This part always gives me a headache.)
Ken says it’s as if in the instant we believed that the idea of separation had real consequences, two giant DVD libraries arose. The ego’s contained every expression of our experience of specialness, and the Holy Spirit’s contained a corresponding correction for each of the ego’s DVDs. We, the figurative decision maker, sit in the middle choosing one proverbial DVD at a time from the ego’s version (of the story of me) or the Holy Spirit’s corrected version.
We unconsciously experience the ego urging us to watch its version, and do so, unaware that it’s a rerun. Everything we’re experiencing is “déjà vu all over again,” Ken says, quoting Yogi Berra, until we can’t stand it anymore, and recognize there has to be another way. Then we begin choosing déjà vu “forgiveness videos” that will lead us to awaken from the dream. In the forgiveness videos, we’re remembering moment-to-moment that we’re the dreamer (that has never left the decision-making mind) not the dream figure/hero on the screen, and learning to smile at our silliness.
Even though everything that’s ever happened is already over in the decision-making mind, I still have to see it and forgive it because I’ve made it real. My “script” is simply the DVD my seeming part of the decision-making mind has chosen to identify with at any given moment, so that’s what I need to practice forgiveness with. If I’m experiencing something it’s because I chose to review that DVD, and can watch either the ego’s version in which I make it real again along with all the suffering that brings, or the Holy Spirit’s in which I see it’s only a movie that I don’t want to identify with anymore because it’s hurting me. I always have the option of seeing the movie as Jesus/Holy Spirit sees it (his version), which means I will respond with kindness and compassion toward everyone on the screen, remembering that no one’s ever really guilty, not even me.
Exploring the script/DVD metaphor in-depth, Ken reminds us as the Course tells us that time is not linear. Everything that could possibly happen in our dream already has. My script is written not by God but by the decision-making mind, and there are always the two versions. The ego’s script was written to keep us asleep; the Holy Spirit’s to help us awaken and eventually find the atonement DVD in which we no longer see guilt in anyone, what Ken dubs the “gold-star” video.
It was this latter suggestion that appeared to propel me in the midst of a seemingly difficult week into a little fantasy in which I found myself rummaging through shelf after shelf of DVDs in this secret cavernous library hidden behind a trick door in my inner classroom’s viewing room in a desperate attempt (are there any other kind here?) to score the holy grail of that fabled gold-star video in which Susan forgives her belief in separate interests of any kind, once and for all. Finally relinquishing her identification with Susan, and disappearing gratefully into the heart of God along with every guiltless costar.
But I was making absolutely no headway in breaking the code on how these apparently endless, random titles had been cataloged. In mounting frustration, bad words about to emanate from my seeming mouth, I froze, gripped by the sudden certainty that I was being watched, the sting of fight-or flight-bound adrenaline thrumming in my veins, and turned in dread to find the bearded wonder standing benignly beside me. I let out a gust of air. “You have to stop sneaking up on me like this,” I said. “I mean, a person could have a heart attack.”
He threw back his head and laughed.
I narrowed my eyes at him.
He cleared his throat; did his best to pull himself together. “What are you looking for?” he asked.
“The gold-star DVD in which I chose the atonement for myself.”
“I see,” he said, and cleared his throat to keep from busting out laughing again.
“I’m glad you’re here, actually. For the life of me, I can’t figure out this filing system. I mean, do these DVDs have my name on them or what?”
His brows shot up and down the way they do.
“Or maybe they’re listed by subject?”
“You know, destitution, torture, addiction, natural disaster, gold-star.”
“Or do you organize them by genre? Rom-com, drama, adventure, action, horror, sci-fi, awakening?”
“You think this is my library? We’ve talked about this.”
“Oh please, don’t be coy, just tell me where it is!”
“Jesus, don’t make me beg!” I added, nonetheless dropping to those knees of mine which had taken quite a beating lately, and pressing my palms together. “These reruns are killing me. You gotta help me out here!”
He sat down beside me, assuming the cross-legged yoga position I’d taught him.
I waited, but he refused to spill the beans. “You’re not going to answer me, are you,” I said, after a while, sitting up, dusting myself off, and adjusting my creaky limbs. “What if it’s lost forever?” I asked. “What if I never find it?”
His eyes widened.
I dabbed at my leaky tear ducts with my index finger.
He pulled out a tissue from his invisible stash.
“I know what you’re thinking,” I said.
“You always do.”
“I can accept the atonement for myself right now, right here in the holy instant by simply reviewing my current video with you. I don’t need to worry about finding the gold-star one, or even finding the current video because, if I’m experiencing it, reacting to it, that means I chose it. All I need to do is decide to watch it with you and, presto, it becomes your version because I see once more that I’m not the star of the dream, but the dreamer.”
Still, easier said than done. Because my life lately seemed to have morphed into some kind of giant, relentless, rapid-fire film festival forcing me to deal with unwelcome external chaos full of unpredictable schedules, shifting opportunities, mangled plans, disrupted or postponed work projects, senseless conversations, and physical issues, not to mention a roller coaster on steroids of emotional shifts that seemed beyond my control. But one constant theme reverberated from film to film: my ill-fated attempt to fix a problem where it didn’t really exist, the inevitable failure of each attempt serving only to increase my anxiety. And yet, I couldn’t seem to stop trying to stabilize the dream based on zero evidence that it could ever be stabilized, haunted by a nagging awareness that I had been trying to do this as long as I could remember with equally fruitless results. There had to be a better way!
“It’s like you say in A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 186: Salvation of the world depends on me, isn’t it? ‘… Our self-made roles are shifting, and they seem to change from mourner to ecstatic bliss of love and loving. We can laugh or weep, and greet the day with welcome or with tears. Our very being seems to change as we experience a thousand shifts in mood, and our emotions raise us high indeed, or dash us to the ground in hopelessness. …’” (From paragraph 8)
“But it’s all just a story that was over long ago. Whenever I catch myself getting lost in the movie again, confusing myself with the star and believing the lie, I just need to remember right now for however long it seems to take that my only function ever is forgiveness A Course in Miracles-style. Just like you say:
‘Let us not fight our function. We did not establish it. It is not our idea. The means are given us by which it will be perfectly accomplished. All that we are asked to do is to accept our part in genuine humility, and not deny with self-deceiving arrogance that we are worthy. What is given us to do, we have the strength to do. Our minds are suited perfectly to take the part assigned to us by One Who knows us well.’” (Paragraph 2)
“So what you’re really telling me is I just need to trust that the process and the teacher that led me this far will not desert me now (unlike some costars I could mention but am choosing not to), and keep focusing on forgiving my belief in the story of Susan expressed in whatever DVD I’m reviewing right now by choosing to watch it with you?”
Jesus raised his palm in the air.
I high-fived him back. I’d taught him that, too. “I’ll go make the popcorn,” I said, as we headed back toward the viewing room to watch the corrected version of Susan’s Sorry Week.
“And I’ll save your seat,” he said, smiling.
You gotta love that man.
“These unsubstantial images will go, and leave your mind unclouded and serene, when you accept the function given you. The images you make give rise to but conflicting goals, impermanent and vague, uncertain and ambiguous. The functions which the world esteems are so uncertain that they change ten times an hour at their most secure. What hope of gain can rest on goals like this?
In lovely contrast, certain as the sun’s return each morning to dispel the night, your truly given function stands out clear and wholly unambiguous. There is no doubt of its validity. It comes from One Who knows no error, and His Voice is certain of Its messages. They will not change, nor be in conflict. All of them point to one goal, and one you can attain. Your plan may be impossible, but God’s can never fail because He is its Source.” (From paragraphs 8 and 10)
Susan Dugan’s books Extraordinary Ordinary Forgiveness, Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, and Forgiveness: The Key to Happiness are available at RMMC and on Amazon. She writes about ACIM based on Ken Wapnick’s teachings at ForaysInForgiveness.com and teaches Tuesday nights at RMMC.