Question: When Jesus was resurrected, were we resurrected with him? If so, then why do we still experience ourselves as living in a dream of separation?

Short answer: When Jesus was resurrected, the entire Sonship was resurrected with him. We still experience ourselves as living in a dream of separation because we have refused to accept the fact that we have been resurrected along with Jesus, and that therefore the dream is over. We come to accept this fact by joining in Jesus' resurrection through forgiving our brothers.

When Jesus was resurrected, the entire Sonship was resurrected with him.

The Course is pretty clear that when Jesus was resurrected two thousand years ago, he didn't go alone. As mind-boggling as this idea may be, the Course's teaching is that when Jesus arose, the entire Sonship went with him: "You arose with him when he began to save the world" (C-6.5:5; see also T-19.IV(B).6:5 and M-23.6:8-10).

To understand the huge ramifications of Jesus' resurrection, a brief overview of the plan of Atonement presented by the Course may be helpful. Here is how I understand it. In truth, all of us were saved—one might say "resurrected"—the instant the separation seemed to happen. Our error was immediately corrected by the Atonement: "The instant the idea of separation entered the mind of God's Son, in that same instant was God's Answer given" (M-2.2:6). In the blink of an eye, our minds were restored to the oneness of Heaven.

However, as inconsequential as that brief instant of separation was, our minds had really latched onto it. We were so lost in the illusion of separation that accessing the Atonement (through accessing the Voice of the the Holy Spirit, Who offers us the Atonement) was extremely difficult at best, and for all practical purposes impossible for most of us. The seeming chasm between us and God had become "too great for [us] to encompass" (T-1.II.4:4). What we needed to bridge this chasm was a teacher, one teacher who could rise above the illusion and fully awaken to the truth. If one teacher could pierce the darkness and let in the light, then the entire world would be saved, because the Sonship is not separate: Whatever one experiences, all the others will share. This is why the Course says, in Section 12 of the Manual, that the awakening of only one teacher of God is enough to bring about complete salvation for all:

One wholly perfect teacher, whose learning is complete, suffices. This one, sanctified and redeemed, becomes the Self Who is the Son of God. (M-12.1:2-3)

Many Course students have wondered just who this one teacher is, but it seems clear to me that this one teacher is Jesus himself. In Section 23 of the Manual, we read the following, which refers specifically to Jesus. Notice how similar it is to the passage just cited from M-12:

We have repeatedly said that one who has perfectly accepted the Atonement for himself can heal the world. Indeed, he [Jesus] has already done so….He has become the risen Son of God. (M-23.2:1-2,4)

The first passage tells us that a single perfected teacher would save the world; the second passage tells us that there is such a teacher: Jesus. The logical conclusion is that Jesus saved the world. He is the one teacher who bridged the chasm between us and God (see T-1.II.4:3-5). His awakening made the Atonement accessible to us. It did so by opening our minds to the Holy Spirit, making His Voice accessible to us in a way that It hadn't been before (see C-6.1:1-3). And it was his resurrection that brought all of this about. His resurrection was the event that made the Atonement, given to us the instant we separated but obscured by our attachment to the illusions of the world, a living reality on earth: "The crucifixion did not establish the Atonement; the resurrection did" (T-3.I.1:2).

Thus, as non-traditional as the Course generally is in its depiction of Jesus, it shares with traditional Christianity the conviction that an event of enormous import took place in Jerusalem two thousand years ago, an event which literally saved the world. For traditional Christians, that event is Jesus' crucifixion, but in the Course, it is Jesus' resurrection. Through his resurrection, Jesus demonstrated his complete awakening, and through his awakening, we all were awakened. When Jesus left the tomb empty on Easter morning, he took the whole world with him. In this sense, he truly is our savior.

Personally, I find this idea that the historical event of Jesus' resurrection literally saved the world to be surprising and thought provoking. I find that the Course often bucks the trends of modern alternative spirituality, and here is one more place where it does so. Most New Age and alternative spiritual teachings depict Jesus as simply a teacher or wayshower, rather than a literal savior. In this view, the historical event of Jesus' resurrection, if it happened at all, has no saving power in itself (except, of course, that it was his own salvation), but was simply a demonstration on his part of what all of us have the potential to do. The Course wholeheartedly agrees that Jesus was a teacher and wayshower, and that his resurrection was a demonstration of what we too can do. But there is more to it, in the Course's view. Not only was Jesus a teacher and wayshower, but he was also a literal savior; not only was the resurrection a demonstration, but it was also a literally saving event. Surprisingly, the Course, in its own unique way, echoes the popular slogan of evangelical Christians everywhere: "Jesus saves."

We still experience ourselves as living in a dream of separation because we haven't accepted the fact that we have been resurrected along with Jesus, and that therefore the dream is over.

Being told that we are already awakened leads to the obvious question: If I'm really awake, why am I still stuck in this painful world? We still experience the dream of separation because, just as our attachment to the illusions of the world had prevented us from accessing the Atonement before Jesus awakened, that same attachment now keeps us from accepting the fact that when Jesus awakened, we all awakened with him. Before, we couldn't access the Atonement; now, we refuse to accept the Atonement. Jesus tells us that his purpose in coming to earth was to restore to us the awareness of our Father's Will, and that "your problem in accepting it is the problem of this world" (T-8.IV.3:5). He fulfilled his mission perfectly, and the awareness of our Father's Will has been restored to us. But we are a stubborn lot (the Biblical phrase "stiff-necked people" comes to mind), and part of our minds simply refuses to accept that Atonement has come, and the dream is over.

Why do we refuse to accept that the dream is over? The shocking answer is this: Because we fear awakening. This is a major theme of the Course, and in fact an entire section of the Text is devoted to it (T-13.III). In a nutshell, we fear awakening because awakening is death to the ego, and we identify with the ego; therefore, we believe that awakening would be our death. We recoil from God's Love because we "think it would crush [us] into nothingness" (T-13.III.4:1). This fear is what causes our minds to cling to the separation—or better, a memory of the separation, since in fact the separation is over: "You keep an ancient memory before your eyes" (T-26.V.5:6). The world really did end when Jesus arose on Easter morning, but we don't want to believe it. And so, like a child watching The Lion King on video for the ten thousandth time, we replay the saga of separation over and over again, trying to delude ourselves into believing that it is still happening, when in fact it has long since vanished into the nothingness from whence it came.

How do we come to accept our resurrection? By choosing to join Jesus' resurrection through forgiving our brothers.

Fortunately, we still have the power to change our minds and accept the fact that the separation is over. How can we let go of our fear of awakening and accept our resurrection? Essentially, by choosing to join Jesus' resurrection through forgiving our brothers (this includes forgiving Jesus himself, as a number of Course passages tell us). Of course, as we've already seen, we were already joined with him at the moment of his resurrection, and so this new joining is simply a matter of giving our mind's assent to a joining that has already happened. Yet this assent is important, for until we give our whole mind to the resurrection, it is in some sense incomplete: "Nor can the resurrection be complete till your forgiveness rests on Christ, along with mine" (T-20.I.2:10). Through forgiveness, we complete the process of awakening that began when Jesus rose two thousand years ago.

This choice to join Jesus' resurrection is ultimately an absolute, unequivocal choice; one day, we will fully commit our minds to the resurrection, and at that moment we will leave the dream behind forever. But the path to that final choice is one of gradual progress, in which we are confronted with the choice to accept or reject the resurrection on a moment-to-moment basis. Each moment of our lives, in every encounter with our brothers, we are choosing whether to be our brother's executioner or his savior:

Would you join in the resurrection or the crucifixion? Would you condemn your brothers or free them?" (T-11.VI.2:1-2)

This may all sound very abstract and metaphysical, far removed from everyday life. What on earth does it mean to choose between crucifixion and resurrection? In truth, this choice not so far removed from our lives; indeed, it is presented to us in the guise of our most mundane everyday situations. Do we curse the driver who cuts us off, or do we bless her? Do we attack the husband who leaves the toilet seat up, or do we let it go? Do we hate those who have different political views than us, or do we strive for joining in spite of the differences? In all of these seemingly ordinary situations is the choice to nail our brothers to a cross, or to free them to rise from the tomb of the limitations our egos see in them. The choices we make as we go through our day are of no little consequence; they are literally the choice between the agony of crucifixion, and the joy of resurrection. For whatever we choose to offer our brothers, that is what we ourselves will experience.

This choice can be a difficult one for us, since we are so committed to the ego and thus still gripped with the ego's fear of awakening. Fortunately, Jesus himself is here to help us, if we are willing to invite him into our minds. He himself will lead us to our own resurrection, and doing so is his joy, because it allows the light of his own resurrection to shine once again upon the world: "My resurrection comes again each time I lead a brother safely to the place at which the journey ends and is forgot" (W-pI.RV.In.7:1). Let us choose to make his resurrection complete by answering his invitation to join him in forgiving the holy Son of God.

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