ACIM Text Reading for February 8
Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception
III. Perception versus Knowledge
We have been emphasising perception, and have said very little about knowledge as yet. This is because perception must be straightened out before you can know anything. To know is to be certain. Uncertainty means that you do not know. Knowledge is power because it is certain, and certainty is strength. Perception is temporary. As an attribute of the belief in space and time, it is subject to either fear or love. Misperceptions produce fear and true perceptions foster love, but neither brings certainty because all perception varies. That is why it is not knowledge. True perception is the basis for knowledge, but knowing is the affirmation of truth and beyond all perceptions.
All your difficulties stem from the fact that you do not recognise yourself, your brother or God. To recognise means to ‘know again’, implying that you knew before. You can see in many ways because perception involves interpretation, and this means that it is not whole or consistent. The miracle, being a way of perceiving, is not knowledge. It is the right answer to a question, but you do not question when you know. Questioning illusions is the first step in undoing them. The miracle, or the right answer, corrects them. Since perceptions change, their dependence on time is obvious. How you perceive at any given time determines what you do, and actions must occur in time. Knowledge is timeless, because certainty is not questionable. You know when you have ceased to ask questions.
The questioning mind perceives itself in time, and therefore looks for future answers. The closed mind believes the future and the present will be the same. This establishes a seemingly stable state that is usually an attempt to counteract an underlying fear that the future will be worse than the present. This fear inhibits the tendency to question at all.
True vision is the natural perception of spiritual sight, but it is still a correction rather than a fact. Spiritual sight is symbolic, and therefore not a device for knowing. It is, however, a means of right perception, which brings it into the proper domain of the miracle. A ‘vision of God’ would be a miracle rather than a revelation. The fact that perception is involved at all removes the experience from the realm of knowledge. That is why visions, however holy, do not last.
The Bible tells you to know yourself, or to be certain. Certainty is always of God. When you love someone you have perceived him as he is, and this makes it possible for you to know him. Until you first perceive him as he is you cannot know him. While you ask questions about him you are clearly implying that you do not know God. Certainty does not require action. When you say you are acting on the basis of knowledge, you are really confusing knowledge with perception. Knowledge provides the strength for creative thinking, but not for right doing. Perception, miracles and doing are closely related. Knowledge is the result of revelation and induces only thought. Even in its most spiritualised form perception involves the body. Knowledge comes from the altar within and is timeless because it is certain. To perceive the truth is not the same as to know it.
Right perception is necessary before God can communicate directly to His altars, which He established in His Sons. There He can communicate His certainty, and His knowledge will bring peace without question. God is not a stranger to His Sons, and His Sons are not strangers to each other. Knowledge preceded both perception and time, and will ultimately replace them. That is the real meaning of ‘Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end’ and ‘Before Abraham was I am’. Perception can and must be stabilised, but knowledge is stable. ‘Fear God and keep His commandments’ becomes ‘Know God and accept His certainty’.
If you attack error in another, you will hurt yourself. You cannot know your brother when you attack him. Attack is always made upon a stranger. You are making him a stranger by misperceiving him, and so you cannot know him. It is because you have made him a stranger that you are afraid of him. Perceive him correctly so that you can know him. There are no strangers in God’s creation. To create as He created you can create only what you know, and therefore accept as yours. God knows His children with perfect certainty, He created them by knowing them. He recognises them perfectly. When they do not recognise each other, they do not recognise Him.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 8
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.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #739: Is knowledge in A Course in Miracles the same as, or similar to, “enlightenment” in Eastern mysticism? Is it instant and irreversible? And given that we appear to be bodies as a consequence of our separation from God, wouldn’t the attainment of knowledge be incompatible with our continued existence as human beings?
A: The meaning of enlightenment varies in different mystical traditions; but for the most part, Eastern notions would be what the Course defines as “the real world” — when the mind is totally healed of all sense separation and therefore of sin, guilt, and fear.
In A Course in Miracles knowledge belongs exclusively to the pre-separation world of God and His unified creation in which there are no differences or forms. It therefore has nothing to do with the world of perception. It refers only to the pure experience of non-duality, with no subject- object dichotomy. Strictly speaking, it is not a state we attain. Rather, we gradually come to recognize the means we have been using to deny our natural state of oneness with our Source. We realize the frightful cost of that, and then we choose against that denial. When we make that choice once and for all without reservation, we are simply choosing to be as God created us, One Son, perfectly united with God. Is this state incompatible with existence as a human being? Jesus answers that by stating: “If God were reached directly in sustained awareness, the body would not be long maintained” (M.26.3:8) . Those who have this awareness are the “Teachers of teachers,” so named “because, although they are no longer visible, their image can yet be called upon” (M.26.3:2). Thus, we need reflections of perfect love to appear to us in a form we can understand and relate to; and for most of us that is a human form.
Q #1157: The purpose of the Course seems to be revelation or knowledge, which I’ve always assumed to be the same as the mystical experience, without which the journey is useless. Jesus also says in his course, “When you have seen your brother as yourself, you will be released to knowledge . . .” (T.13.VIII.8:1). Surely most people, at some point in their lives, have seen someone as themselves, if only for a moment . . . and not just those who have experienced revelation.
A: The term knowledge in A Course in Miracles is really a synonym for Heaven , the state of perfect Oneness. That is our true and natural state as God’s Son; and although we believe we rejected it and made up another self as a substitute, we are assured through the Atonement principle that we never truly left that state and therefore Heaven’s Oneness was never changed. Yet, our work with the Course is focused on a goal that will leave us at Heaven’s gate, so to speak, where God Himself will then take the next step, lifting us back unto Himself. Thus, Jesus tells us: “Knowledge is not the motivation for learning this course. Peace is. This the prerequisite for knowledge only because those who are in conflict are not peaceful, and peace is the condition of knowledge because it is the condition of the Kingdom. . . . Knowledge is His Will. If you are opposing His Will, how can you have knowledge?” (T.8.I.1:1,2,3) Jesus reminds us of this later in the text: “Forget not that the motivation for this course is the attainment and the keeping of the state of peace. Given this state the mind is quiet, and the condition in which God is remembered is attained” (T.24.in.1:1,2).
The section in Chapter 13 from which you quoted is entitled “From Perception to Knowledge” (T.13.VIII) , and there Jesus is teaching us that our perception of ourselves and others as separate is what keeps us from the state of knowledge, the state of perfect oneness. Thus, if we free ourselves of the illusion that we are separate, then the oneness of the Sonship will be the lens through which we perceive ourselves and everyone else. When this is our only perception, we are released to knowledge. We begin this transition, however, by learning to perceive that we all share the same interests, seeing others as ourselves.