Are The Characteristics of God's Teachers?
The surface traits
of God's teachers are not at all alike. They do not look alike to
the body's eyes...
they come from
vastly different backgrounds,
of the world vary greatly, and
"personalities" are quite distinct.
Nor at the beginning
stages of their functioning as teachers of God have they as yet
acquired the deeper characteristics that will establish them as
what they are. God gives special gifts to His teachers because they
have a special role in His plan for Atonement.
is, of course, only temporary—set in time as a means of
leading out of time.
These special gifts,
born in the holy relationship toward which the teaching-learning
situation is geared, become characteristic of all teachers of God
who have advanced in their own learning. In this respect they are
All differences among
the Sons of God are temporary. Nevertheless, in time it can be said
that the advanced teachers of God have the following characteristics:
This is the foundation
on which their ability to fulfill their function rests. Perception
is the result of learning. In fact, perception is learning because
cause and effect are never separated.
The teachers of God
have trust in the world because they have learned it is not governed
by the laws the world made up.
It is governed by
a Power Which is in them but not of them. It is this Power that
keeps all things safe. It is through this Power that the teachers
of God look on a forgiven world.
When this Power
has once been experienced, it is impossible to trust one's own
petty strength again.
Who would attempt
to fly with the tiny wings of a sparrow when the mighty power of
an eagle has been given him? And who would place his faith in the
shabby offerings of the ego when the gifts of God are laid before
him? What is it that induces them to make the shift?
First, they must go
through what might be called "a period of undoing." This
need not be painful, but it usually is so experienced. It seems
as if things are being taken away, and it is rarely understood initially
that their lack of value is merely being recognized.
How can lack of value
be perceived unless the perceiver is in a position where he must
see things in a different light?
He is not yet at
a point at which he can make the shift entirely internally. And
so the plan will sometimes call for changes in what seem to be external
circumstances. These changes are always helpful. When the teacher
of God has learned that much, he goes on to the second stage.
Next, the teacher
of God must go through a "period of sorting-out." This
is always somewhat difficult because, having learned that the changes
in his life are always helpful, he must now decide all things on
the basis of whether they increase the helpfulness or hamper it.
He will find that many if not most of the things he valued before
will merely hinder his ability to transfer what he has learned to
new situations as they arise. Because he has valued what is really
valueless, he will not generalize the lesson for fear of loss and
It takes great
learning to understand that all things, events, encounters,
and circumstances are helpful.
It is only to the
extent to which they are helpful that any degree of reality should
be accorded them in this world of illusion. The word "value"
can apply to nothing else.
The third stage through
which the teachers of God must go can be called a "period of
relinquishment." If this is interpreted as giving up the desirable,
it will engender enormous conflict. Few teachers of God escape this
distress entirely. There is, however, no point in sorting out the
valuable from the valueless unless the next obvious step is taken.
The third step is rarely if ever begun until the second is complete.
Therefore, the period of overlap is apt to be one in which the teacher
of God feels called upon to sacrifice his own best interests on
behalf of truth. He has not realized as yet how wholly impossible
such a demand would be. He can learn this only as he actually does
give up the valueless. Through this he learns that where he anticipated
grief, he finds a happy light-heartedness instead; where he thought
something was asked of him, he finds a gift bestowed on him.
of Settling Down
Now comes a "period
of settling down." This is a quiet time in which the teacher
of God rests a while in reasonable peace. Now he consolidates his
learning. Now he begins to see the transfer value of what he has
learned. Its potential is literally staggering, and the teacher
of God is now at the point in his progress at which he sees in it
his whole way out.
"Give up what
you do not want and keep what you do."
How simple is the
obvious! And how easy to do! The teacher of God needs this period
of respite. He has not yet come as far as he thinks. Yet when he
is ready to go on, he goes with mighty companions beside him. Now
he rests a while and gathers them before going on. He will not go
on from here alone.
The next stage is
indeed a "period of unsettling." Now must the teacher
of God understand that he did not really know what was valuable
and what was valueless. All that he really learned so far was that
he did not want the valueless and that he did want the valuable.
Yet his own sorting-out was meaningless in teaching him the difference.
The idea of sacrifice, so central to his thought system, had made
it impossible for him to judge. He thought he had learned willingness,
but now he sees that he does not know what the willingness is for.
And now he must attain a state that may remain impossible for a
long, long time.
He must learn to
lay all judgment aside and ask only what he really wants in every
Were not each step
in this direction so heavily reinforced, it would be hard indeed!
And finally, there
is a "period of achievement." It is here that learning
is consolidated. Now what was seen as merely shadows before becomes
solid gains, to be counted on in all "emergencies" as
well as tranquil times. Indeed, the tranquillity is their result—the
outcome of honest learning, consistency of thought, and full transfer.
This is the stage
of real peace, for here is Heaven's state fully reflected. From
here the way to Heaven is open and easy. In fact, it is here. Who
would "go" anywhere if peace of mind is already complete?
And who would seek to change tranquillity for something more desirable?
What could be more desirable than this?
All other traits of
God's teachers rest on trust. Once that has been achieved, the others
cannot fail to follow. Only the trusting can afford honesty, for
only they can see its value. Honesty does not apply only to what
you say. The term actually means consistency. There is...
nothing you say
that contradicts what you think or do;
no thought opposes any other thought;
no act belies your word; and no
word lacks agreement with another.
Such are the truly
honest. At no level are they in conflict with themselves. Therefore
it is impossible for them to be in conflict with anyone or anything.
The peace of mind
which the advanced teachers of God experience is largely due to
their perfect honesty. It is only the wish to deceive that makes
for war. No one at one with himself can even conceive of conflict.
Conflict is the inevitable result of self-deception, and self-deception
is dishonesty. There is no challenge to a teacher of God. Challenge
implies doubt, and the trust on which God's teachers rest secure
makes doubt impossible. Therefore they can only succeed. In this,
as in all things, they are honest.
They can only succeed
because they never do their will alone.
They choose for all
mankind, for all the world and all things in it, for the unchanging
and unchangeable beyond appearances, and for the Son of God and
his Creator. How could they not succeed? They choose in perfect
honesty, sure of their choice themselves.
God's teachers do
not judge. To judge is to be dishonest, for to judge is to assume
a position you do not have. Judgment without self-deception is impossible.
Judgment implies that you have been deceived in your brothers. How
then could you not have been deceived in yourself?
a lack of trust, and trust remains the bed-rock of the teacher
of God's whole thought system.
Let this be lost,
and all his learning goes. Without judgment are all things equally
acceptable, for who could judge otherwise? Without judgment are
all men brothers, for who is there who stands apart? Judgment destroys
honesty and shatters trust. No
teacher of God can judge and hope to learn.
Harm is impossible
for God's teachers. They can neither harm nor be harmed. Harm is
the outcome of judgment. It is the dishonest act that follows a
dishonest thought. It is a verdict of guilt upon a brother and therefore
on one's self. It is the end of peace and the denial of learning.
It demonstrates the absence of God's curriculum and its replacement
No teacher of God
but must learn—and fairly early in his training—that
harmfulness completely obliterates his function from his awareness.
It will make him...
It will make the
Holy Spirit's lessons impossible to learn. Nor can God's Teacher
be heard at all except by those who realize that harm can actually
achieve nothing. No gain can come of it.
Therefore God's teachers
are wholly gentle. They need the strength of gentleness, for it
is in this that the function of salvation becomes easy. To those
who would do harm, it is impossible. To those to whom harm has no
meaning, it is merely natural. What choice but this has meaning
to the sane? Who chooses hell when he perceives a way to Heaven?
And who would choose the weakness that must come from harm in place
of the unfailing, all-encompassing, and limitless strength of gentleness?
The might of God's teachers lies in their gentleness, for they have
understood their evil thoughts came neither from God's Son nor his
Creator. Thus did they join their thoughts with Him Who is their
Source. And so their will, which always was His own, is free to
Joy is the inevitable
result of gentleness. Gentleness means that fear is now impossible,
and what could come to interfere with joy?
The open hands of
gentleness are always filled. The gentle have no pain. They cannot
suffer. Why would they not be joyous? They are sure they are beloved
and must be safe. Joy goes with gentleness as surely as grief attends
attack. God's teachers trust in Him. And they are sure His Teacher
goes before them, making sure no harm can come to them. They hold
His gifts and follow in His way because God's Voice directs them
in all things. Joy is their song of thanks. And Christ looks down
on them in thanks as well. His need of them is just as great as
theirs of Him. How joyous it is to share the purpose of salvation!
God's teachers have
learned how to be simple. They have no dreams that need defense
against the truth. They do not try to make themselves. Their joy
comes from their understanding Who created them. And does what God
created need defense? No one can become an advanced teacher of God
until he fully understands that defenses are but the foolish guardians
of mad illusions.
The more grotesque
the dream, the fiercer and more powerful its defenses seem to
Yet when the teacher
of God finally agrees to look past them, he finds nothing was there.
Slowly at first, he lets himself be undeceived. But he learns faster
as his trust increases. It is not danger that comes when defenses
are laid down. It is safety. It is peace. It is joy. And it is God.
The term generosity
has special meaning to the teacher of God. It is not the usual meaning
of the word; in fact, it is a meaning that must be learned and learned
very carefully. Like all the other attributes of God's teachers,
this one rests ultimately on trust, for without trust, no one can
be generous in the true sense. To the world, generosity means "giving
away" in the sense of "giving up." To the teachers
of God, it means "giving away" in order to keep. This
has been emphasized throughout the text and the workbook, but it
is perhaps more alien to the thinking of the world than many other
ideas in our curriculum. Its greater strangeness lies merely in
the obviousness of its reversal of the world's thinking. In the
clearest way possible and at the simplest of levels, the word means
the exact opposite to the teachers of God and to the world.
The teacher of God
is generous out of self-interest. This does not refer, however,
to the self the world speaks of. The teacher of God does not want
anything he cannot give away because he realizes it would be valueless
to him by definition. What would he want it for? He could only lose
because of it. He could not gain. Therefore he does not seek what
only he could keep because that is a guarantee of loss. He does
not want to suffer. Why should he ensure himself pain? But he does
want to keep for himself all things that are of God and therefore
for His Son. These are the things that belong to him. These he can
give away in true generosity, protecting them forever for himself.
Those who are certain
of the outcome can afford to wait, and wait without anxiety. Patience
is natural to the teacher of God. All he sees is certain outcome,
at a time perhaps unknown as yet but not in doubt. The time will
be as right as is the answer. And this is true for everything that
happens now or in the future. The past as well held no mistakes—nothing
that did not serve to benefit the world as well as him to whom it
seemed to happen. Perhaps it was not understood at the time. Even
so, the teacher of God is willing to reconsider all his past decisions
if they are causing pain to anyone. Patience is natural to those
who trust. Sure of the ultimate interpretation of all things in
time, no outcome already seen or yet to come can cause them fear.
The extent of the
teacher of God's faithfulness is the measure of his advancement
in the curriculum. Does he still select some aspects of his life
to bring to his learning while keeping others apart? If so, his
advancement is limited and his trust not yet firmly established.
Faithfulness is the teacher of God's trust in the Word of God to
set all things right—not some but all. Generally, his faithfulness
begins by resting on just some problems, remaining carefully limited
for a time. To give up all problems to one Answer is to reverse
the thinking of the world entirely. And that alone is faithfulness.
Nothing but that really deserves the name. Yet each degree, however
small, is worth achieving. Readiness, as the text notes, is not
however, does not deviate. Being consistent, it is wholly honest.
Being unswerving, it is full of trust. Being based on fearlessness,
it is gentle. Being certain it is joyous, and being confident, it
is tolerant. Defenselessness attends it naturally, and joy is its
condition. Faithfulness, then, combines in itself the other attributes
of God's teachers. It implies acceptance of the Word of God and
His definition of His Son. It is to them that faithfulness in the
true sense is always directed. Toward them it looks, seeking until
it finds. And having found, it rests in quiet certainty on that
alone to which all faithfulness is due.
The centrality of
openmindedness, perhaps the last of the attributes the teacher of
God acquires, is easily understood when its relation to forgiveness
is recognized. Openmindedness comes with lack of judgment. As
judgment shuts the mind against God's Teacher, so openmindedness
invites Him to come in.
As condemnation judges
the Son of God as evil, so openmindedness permits him to be judged
by the Voice for God on His behalf.
As the projection
of guilt upon him would send him to hell, so openmindedness lets
Christ's image be projected on him. Only the openminded can be at
peace, for they alone see reason for it.
How do the openminded
forgive? They have let go all things that would prevent forgiveness.
They have in truth abandoned the world and let it be restored to
them in newness and in joy so glorious they could never have conceived
of such a change. Nothing is now as it was formerly. Nothing but
sparkles now which seemed so dull and lifeless before. And above
all are all things welcoming, for threat is gone. No clouds remain
to hide the face of Christ. Now is the goal achieved.
Forgiveness is the
final goal of the curriculum.
It paves the way for
what goes far beyond all learning. The curriculum makes no effort
to exceed its legitimate goal. Forgiveness is its single aim at
which all learning ultimately converges. It is indeed enough.
You may have noticed
that the list of attributes of God's teachers does not include those
things which are the Son of God's inheritance. Terms like...
eternal truth do
not appear in this context.
would be most inappropriate here. What God has given is so far beyond
our curriculum that learning but disappears in its presence. Yet
while its presence is obscured, the focus properly belongs on the
curriculum. It is the function of God's teachers to bring true learning
to the world. Properly speaking it is unlearning that they bring,
for that is "true learning" in the world. It is given
to the teachers of God to bring the glad tidings of complete forgiveness
to the world. Blessed indeed are they, for they are the bringers