ACIM Text Reading for January 24
Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception
IV. Error and the Ego
The abilities you now possess are only shadows of your real strength. All of your present functions are divided and open to question and doubt. This is because you are not certain how you will use them, and are therefore incapable of knowledge. You are also incapable of knowledge because you can still perceive lovelessly. Perception did not exist until the separation introduced degrees, aspects and intervals. Spirit has no levels, and all conflict arises from the concept of levels. Only the Levels of the Trinity are capable of Unity. The levels created by the separation cannot but conflict. This is because they are meaningless to each other.
Consciousness, the level of perception, was the first split introduced into the mind after the separation, making the mind a perceiver rather than a creator. Consciousness is correctly identified as the domain of the ego. The ego is a wrong-minded attempt to perceive yourself as you wish to be, rather than as you are. Yet you can know yourself only as you are, because that is all you can be sure of. Everything else is open to question.
The ego is the questioning aspect of the post-separation self, which was made rather than created. It is capable of asking questions but not of perceiving meaningful answers, because these would involve knowledge and cannot be perceived. The mind is therefore confused, because only One-mindedness can be without confusion. A separated or divided mind must be confused. It is necessarily uncertain about what it is. It has to be in conflict because it is out of accord with itself. This makes its aspects strangers to each other, and this is the essence of the fear-prone condition, in which attack is always possible. You have every reason to feel afraid as you perceive yourself. This is why you cannot escape from fear until you realise that you did not and could not create yourself. You can never make your misperceptions true, and your creation is beyond your own error. That is why you must eventually choose to heal the separation.
Right-mindedness is not to be confused with the knowing mind, because it is applicable only to right perception. You can be right-minded or wrong-minded, and even this is subject to degrees, clearly demonstrating that knowledge is not involved. The term ‘right-mindedness’ is properly used as the correction for ‘wrong- mindedness’, and applies to the state of mind that induces accurate perception. It is miracle-minded because it heals misperception, and this is indeed a miracle in view of how you perceive yourself.
Perception always involves some misuse of mind, because it brings the mind into areas of uncertainty. The mind is very active. When it chooses to be separated it chooses to perceive. Until then it wills only to know. Afterwards it can only choose ambiguously, and the only way out of ambiguity is clear perception. The mind returns to its proper function only when it wills to know. This places it in the service of spirit, where perception is changed. The mind chooses to divide itself when it chooses to make its own levels. But it could not entirely separate itself from spirit, because it is from spirit that it derives its whole power to make or create. Even in miscreation the mind is affirming its Source, or it would merely cease to be. This is impossible, because the mind belongs to spirit which God created and which is therefore eternal.
The ability to perceive made the body possible, because you must perceive something and with something. That is why perception involves an exchange or translation, which knowledge does not need. The interpretative function of perception, a distorted form of creation, then permits you to interpret the body as yourself in an attempt to escape from the conflict you have induced. Spirit, which knows, could not be reconciled with this loss of power, because it is incapable of darkness. This makes spirit almost inaccessible to the mind and entirely inaccessible to the body. Thereafter, spirit is perceived as a threat, because light abolishes darkness merely by showing you it is not there. Truth will always overcome error in this way. This cannot be an active process of correction because, as I have already emphasised, knowledge does not do anything. It can be perceived as an attacker, but it cannot attack. What you perceive as its attack is your own vague recognition that knowledge can always be remembered, never having been destroyed.
God and His creations remain in surety, and therefore know that no miscreation exists. Truth cannot deal with errors that you want. I was a man who remembered spirit and its knowledge. As a man I did not attempt to counteract error with knowledge, but to correct error from the bottom up. I demonstrated both the powerlessness of the body and the power of the mind. By uniting my will with that of my Creator, I naturally remembered spirit and its real purpose. I cannot unite your will with God’s for you, but I can erase all misperceptions from your mind if you will bring it under my guidance. Only your misperceptions stand in your way. Without them your choice is certain. Sane perception induces sane choosing. I cannot choose for you, but I can help you make your own right choice. ‘Many are called but few are chosen’ should be, ‘All are called but few choose to listen’. Therefore, they do not choose right. The ‘chosen ones’ are merely those who choose right sooner. Right minds can do this now, and they will find rest unto their souls. God knows you only in peace, and this is your reality.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 24
I do not perceive my own best interests.
In no situation that arises do you realize the outcome that would make you happy. Therefore, you have no guide to appropriate action, and no way of judging the result. What you do is determined by your perception of the situation, and that perception is wrong. It is inevitable, then, that you will not serve your own best interests. Yet they are your only goal in any situation which is correctly perceived. Otherwise, you will not recognize what they are.
If you realized that you do not perceive your own best interests, you could be taught what they are. But in the presence of your conviction that you do know what they are, you cannot learn. The idea for today is a step toward opening your mind so that learning can begin.
The exercises for today require much more honesty than you are accustomed to using. A few subjects, honestly and carefully considered in each of the five practice periods which should be undertaken today, will be more helpful than a more cursory examination of a large number. Two minutes are suggested for each of the mind-searching periods which the exercises involve.
The practice periods should begin with repeating today’s idea, followed by searching the mind, with closed eyes, for unresolved situations about which you are currently concerned. The emphasis should be on uncovering the outcome you want. You will quickly realize that you have a number of goals in mind as part of the desired outcome, and also that these goals are on different levels and often conflict.
In applying the idea for today, name each situation that occurs to you, and then enumerate carefully as many goals as possible that you would like to be met in its resolution. The form of each application should be roughly as follows:
In the situation involving ______, I would like ______
to happen, and ______ to happen,
and so on. Try to cover as many different kinds of outcomes as may honestly occur to you, even if some of them do not appear to be directly related to the situation, or even to be inherent in it at all.
If these exercises are done properly, you will quickly recognize that you are making a large number of demands of the situation which have nothing to do with it. You will also recognize that many of your goals are contradictory, that you have no unified outcome in mind, and that you must experience disappointment in connection with some of your goals, however the situation turns out.
After covering the list of as many hoped-for goals as possible, for each unresolved situation that crosses your mind say to yourself:
I do not perceive my own best interests in this situation,
and go on to the next one.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #10: We have received a number of questions on the theme of the ego’s origin, examples of which are below …
If Heaven and the Love of God were completely satisfying, why would the Son choose to dream he left?
If God is perfect and unified, and has a perfect and unified Son, how could an imperfect thought of separation and division have possibly arisen within such a mind?
Once the Atonement is accepted, how do we know the ego won’t be chosen again?
How can one achieve “an experience” which the Course says will resolve the ego paradox?
A: i, ii, and iii above, posed as questions, are actually statements made by an ego mind enunciating the following: I know the ego is real, and now I want you to explain how it happened and how you know it won’t happen again.
The question “how did the ego happen,” and all its variations, is undoubtedly the most frequently asked question of students of A Course in Miracles. This is only natural to an ego wanting to know where it came from, just as a child would question its parents about its origin. The problem is that the ego itself is not natural. The Course teaches us that in reality the ego never happened. Consequently, how could we ever find an intellectually satisfying answer to the ego’s origin between the Course’s covers? Those asking how the impossible could ever have happened must identify themselves as separate and individual beings, while anyone answering the question must also agree that the separation did indeed happen. Furthermore, if it happened once, it could happen ad infinitum, and in some respects it does. Day in and day out we are offered the choice of believing in the reality of ourselves as an ego or as a Son of God. Therefore, to wonder about the separation recurring is to make the same mistake of believing it happened in the first place. As the Course says:
“Who asks you to define the ego and explain how it arose can be but he who thinks it real, and seeks by definition to ensure that its illusive nature is concealed behind the words that seem to make it so.
There is no definition for a lie that serves to make it true” (C-2.2:5–3:1).
“The ego will demand many answers that this course does not give. It does not recognize as questions the mere form of a question to which an answer is impossible. The ego may ask, “How did the impossible occur?”, “To what did the impossible happen?”, and may ask this in many forms. Yet there is no answer; only an experience. Seek only this, and do not let theology delay you” (C-in.4).
God’s Love is the experience the Course speaks of in the quote above. This experience is attained through the process of forgiveness, which removes the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence (T.In.1:7). Indeed, the purpose of A Course in Miracles is to help us attain this experience.