Is it true that none of us go fully to God until all of us are released?

Q. From Review V in the Workbook I understand that Jesus cannot fully be released until we all are released. Does that mean none of us go fully to God until all of us are released? That Jesus is waiting for us?

A. There is evidence on both sides of this. In the Course, Jesus is clear that he has transcended his ego completely. For instance, look at this passage: “I have also made it clear that the resurrection was the means for the return to knowledge, which was accomplished by the union of my will with the Father’s” (T-3.V.1:3). This says that he returned to knowledge—in the Course’s sense of perfect heavenly awareness, beyond the realm of perception. And it says that this was accomplished by him letting go any illusions of a separate will and uniting his will with God’s. This necessarily means that he shed his ego, since the ego is the alien will that keeps our will apart from God’s.

In the Clarification of Terms, we also find this: “Jesus is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, Whom he called down upon the earth after he ascended into Heaven, or became completely identified with the Christ, the Son of God as He created Him” (C-6.1:1). The ascent into Heaven is clearly the same as “the return to knowledge” from the previous passage, and is also what the Course calls the “final step,” in which we become “completely identified with the Christ,” our true Self.

So in that sense, Jesus is not waiting for us. He has already experienced his own final step. In fact, the Course says several times that when he ascended to Heaven, he took us with him: “But if I surmounted guilt and overcame the world, you were with me” (T-19.IVB.6:5).

Yet there is also a sense in which he is waiting for us. At the end of the Clarification of Terms, it says that when time is over, the Holy Spirit will no longer “take form,” but “return to the eternal formlessness of God” (C-6.5:8). This means the Holy Spirit will no longer have part of His attention on guiding all these struggling separate minds back home. All of His attention can be on the joys of Heaven. And the same goes for Jesus: he, too, will be able to no longer “take form,” but “return to the eternal formlessness of God.”

Also, there is Review V in the Workbook, as you mention. There, Jesus says that every time anyone makes it back home, or learns there is a way out of misery, or even just turns within and looks for him, Jesus himself feels resurrected, renewed, and reborn (W-pI.rV.In.7). The sense you get is that he is so identified with us that he experiences our release as his release. Therefore, the only remaining need he has (“For this alone I need”—9:2) is for us to embrace his message for ourselves and pass it on to our brothers.

I’ve painted a very tidy picture here—Jesus made it all the way home, but is so identified with us that he will be released still further when we all make it back. But there is a passage late in the Text that seems to say something different:

There is a hope of happiness in him [meaning, everyone] so sure and constant he can barely stay and wait a little longer, with his feet still touching earth. Yet is he glad to wait till every hand is joined, and every heart made ready to arise and go with him. For thus is he made ready for the step in which is all forgiveness left behind. (T-30V.3:5-7)

This says that every hand being joined is what readies us for the final step, in which we are translated into Heaven. In other words, we won’t be ready for the final step until everyone else has joined hands with us and is waiting for that last step with us.

Now I’ve said two different things: a) Jesus has already reached his own final step and b) we won’t be ready for our final step until everyone else is, too. How can we reconcile these?

I suspect the reconciliation of them lies in the idea that the very ending stages of awakening are generally collective but that some individuals can go through them sooner. We see this very thing in relation to the Last Judgment:

Its length can, however, be greatly shortened by miracles, the device for shortening but not abolishing time. If a sufficient number become truly miracle-minded, this shortening process can be virtually immeasurable. It is essential, however, that you free yourself from fear quickly, because you must emerge from the conflict if you are to bring peace to other minds. (T-2.VIII.2:6-8)

Here, the Last Judgment is collective, but if certain people break ranks and run ahead, that collective experience can be hastened for everyone.

So perhaps for most people, the final awakening to Heaven will be a collective event, in which everyone waits together for God to reach down and lift us up to Himself (se M-28.6:9). But perhaps some people, like Jesus, will be able to pass through that before everyone else, and in doing so, bring closer the collective final awakening.

In other words, if for your own readiness, you need everyone else to be ready with you, then great—for you, it will be a glorious collective event. And if you are somehow able to get yourself ready before everyone else, then great—you won’t have to wait for everyone else. Instead, you will take them all with you.

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