Did we co-create the whole creation with God?

Question: In the Text, chapter 30, section II.3:5-6 it says: "What lies in you has joined with God Himself in all creation's birth. Remember Him Who has created you, and through your will created everything. Not one thing but gives you thanks, for it is by your will that it was born." This is the first time that I recall the Course saying that we created, with God, the whole creation. Perhaps you could clear this up for me.

Answer:  Well, I'm not sure I would say that we created the whole creation with God. We do, of course, have our own creations that we create with God and the rest of the Sonship. But I don't think we can say that we created the whole creation, because at the very least we didn't create ourselves. The Course says very clearly that "He [God] created His co-creators [the Sonship]" (T-7.I.7:6), and "You did not create yourself" (T-1.V.1:8). The idea that we could create ourselves is, in fact, a fundamental error at the heart of the separation.

However, in its characteristically paradoxical way, the Course does tell us that we have played a role in all creation. Several places in the Course suggest that all creation, including the creation of our brothers and even ourselves, happens with our consent – or, in the words of the above passage, "through your will" and "by your will." In addition to the reference you cite in your question, there is another that comes a couple of paragraphs before:

[God] did not set His Kingdom up alone. And Heaven itself but represents your will, where everything created is for you. No spark of life but was created with your glad consent, as you would have it be. And not one Thought that God has ever had but waited for your blessing to be born. (T-30.II.1:7-10)

There's a similar idea a couple of chapters before:

God keeps His promises; His Son keeps his. In his creation did his Father say, "You are beloved of Me and I of you forever. Be you perfect as Myself, for you can never be apart from Me." His Son remembers not that he replied "I will," though in that promise he was born. (T-28.VI.6:3-6)

All three of these passages (including the one you cite) present the idea that in some sense, the creation of the Sonship (including ourselves) required our consent to be fully accomplished. The first passage says that "it is by your will that [everything] was born." The second passage says that all life was created "with your glad consent" and "waited for your blessing to be born." The third passage says that the Son promised to be as perfect as God, and "in that promise he was born." It is a consistent pattern.

What are we to make of this? One possibility is simply that we are identical to God. But this is definitely not the Course's perspective. True, we do share God's Will, so it could be said that since we share God's Will and God's Will created everything, therefore our will created everything. After all, the reference you cite does say that "through your will [God] created everything."

However, as we've already seen, there is a genuine sense in which the Father is distinct from the Son: He created His co-creators (the Sonship), and we did not create ourselves. A later passage, one that refers to a very similar promise to the "I will" promise in T-28.VI.6, is careful to make this distinction:

What is the Word of God? "My Son is pure and holy as Myself." And thus did God become the Father of the Son He loves, for thus was he created. This the Word His Son did not create with Him, because in this His Son was born. (W-pII.276.1:1-4)

In these two passages (this one and T-28.VI.6), God says something very similar to create us: "My Son is pure and holy as Myself"/"Be you perfect as Myself." In both these passages, it is this Word of God that leads to our birth. But each passage also has elements the other doesn't contain, elements that are even reflected in the wording of those similar lines. The Workbook passage has God unilaterally declaring "My Son is pure and holy as Myself," and says we did not create this Word that gave us birth. The T-28.VI.6 passage puts this same Word in the form of an injunction from God to us — "Be you perfect as Myself" — and adds another step to the process of our birth: our saying "I will" in response to that injunction. Again, our creation happened with our consent.

Putting all this together, here is the resolution I see to the "God created us, we didn't create ourselves"/"All creation happened with our own consent" paradox. The sense I get is that there was a two-step process. In the first step, God took the initiative to create the Sonship; He said His Word to bring us into being, and we weren't involved in that. The second step, however, we were involved in: Once God brought us into being with His Word, we had to consent to this creation in order for it to be complete. We had to give our promise, our word, to keep God's Word. And of course we did so, since after all, our will is one with God's.

The "promise" language in the second passage brings to mind an analogy that may bring some clarity. What comes to my mind is someone who has been appointed to a high position taking an oath of office. Think, for instance, of a new Supreme Court justice. She didn't make herself a Supreme Court justice; that office was conferred upon her by a higher authority. But in order to actually be a Supreme Court justice, she has to complete the process by saying, "I will." She has to take the oath of office; she has to make the promise to fulfill the position she has been given. So, while she's appointed by the will of a higher authority, her will has to consent for it to actually happen.

That is, of course, just a rough analogy, and not entirely adequate. In the end, I don't think any explanation will be entirely adequate, for it brings us face to face with the paradoxes of Heaven, which I don't think we are capable of understanding with our limited earthly minds. To give you an idea of just how mind-bending this can get, let me throw a big monkey wrench into the entire explanation I've given above: While the Course consistently says we were created (past tense) by God, it also consistently says we have always existed, for we are eternal. We see both sides of that paradox — the past-tense "created" and the idea that we have always existed — in this passage:

God's creations have always been, because He has always been….Eternity is yours, because He created you eternal. (T-7.I.3:6,8)

Four short words here — "He created you eternal" — contain the whole paradox: He created us, which suggests some time in the past when God brought us into being, but at the same time we are "eternal," which means we have "always been."

Like I said, I think we are simply incapable of completely understanding such paradoxes in our current state. My best attempt at a resolution so far is something like this: From the standpoint of the illusion of time, we were created a long time ago, before time even existed; from the standpoint of eternity, we have always been a part of God, so we are as eternal as He is. But I don't pretend this is a wholly satisfactory resolution. I think the limitations of our minds and of human language mean that a totally airtight resolution will always elude us.

With this in mind, I think we want to avoid the temptation to attempt one sort of "resolution" I see quite often: to say that one side of the paradox is the "true" side, the part that ought to be taken literally, while the other side is just metaphor for our limited minds. If our minds really are limited when it comes to understanding these paradoxes, then how could we make this distinction? I think what we need to do is live with the tension between these seemingly irreconcilable viewpoints. We need to affirm that, in some sense we don't completely understand, both sides are true: God both created us, and we have always been. And, to get back to our original topic: God both initiated our creation independently of us in some sense, and our creation required our consent in some sense.

Jesus always has a down-to-earth reason for bringing up these metaphysical conundrums: "This course is always practical" (M-16.4:1). I think the most useful question to ask, then, is this: Why is Jesus telling us that all creation, including our own, happened by our will, with our consent? Why does he think this is important for us to know? I think the reason he stresses this is to reinforce in our minds a huge idea in the Course: the idea that God's Will and our true will are the same. That's certainly the emphasis of that quote above from T-30.II.1, which begins with these lines:

Do you not understand that to oppose the Holy Spirit is to fight yourself? He tells you but your will; He speaks for you. In His Divinity is but your own. And all He knows is but your knowledge, saved for you that you may do your will through Him. God asks you do your will. He joins with you. He did not set His Kingdom up alone…. (T-30.II.1:1-6)

The idea that all creation happened with our consent, then, is a reflection of the larger theme that God's Will and our true will are one. And the fact that God's Will and our true will are one has huge practical ramifications. According to this passage, a major ramification is that when we resist what the Holy Spirit wants us to do, we are just fighting ourselves. We aren't heroically standing up to a foreign interloper Who is working against our best interests. Instead, we are fighting against our own will, what we really, truly want. Why would we want to do that?

The importance of the idea that God's Will and our true will are one can hardly be overstated. The Workbook, in fact, tells us that getting the idea that "There is no will but God's" is the central goal of all our practicing:

The idea for today can be regarded as the central thought toward which all our exercises are directed. God's is the only Will. When you have recognized this, you have recognized that your will is His.…As an expression of the Will of God, you have no goal but His. (W-pI.74.1:1-3, 6)

If you think about it, it's easy to see why this idea is so important. The entire separation, after all, is rooted in the belief that our will is different from God's. As long as we believe this is so, our entire journey on the spiritual path will feel as if we are being dragged kicking and screaming back to an abusive Father. Why would we want to return to Someone whose Will is contrary to ours? The belief that God and we are at cross purposes is the source of all our resistance. So, the Course takes great pains to remind us, again and again, that actually, God's Will and our true will are the same. God isn't forcing us to return to Him against our will; He is merely reminding us of what we truly want.

This, I think, is where the idea that all of creation was accomplished by our will comes in. It is the ultimate expression of the unity of God's Will and ours. We're like petulant children who, when they rebel against their parents, say, "I didn't ask to be born!" In response to this, Jesus says, "Well, actually you did ask to be born. All of creation, even your own creation, was accomplished with your glad consent. There is literally nothing that you did not freely and gladly agree to. You promised to be pure and holy as God Himself, and deep down, you are still happily keeping that promise. This is your true will, not that willful ego you've identified with. Why not accept your true will and be happy?"

So, I think this idea that all creation happened with our consent is a very powerful one. It's more than just an interesting bit of metaphysical trivia: It has the potential to transform our entire experience of the spiritual path if we will let it. For if we shared God's Will in all creation, even in our own creation, it must be that we share God's Will in everything.

If we really let this in, wouldn't the entire journey to God be so much easier? When we fully recognize that God's Will and ours are the same, all of our resistance will be gone and we will leap back into His Arms without reservation. That is why this is "the central thought toward which all our exercises are directed." Getting this thought will bring us all the way home.

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