A Course in Miracles for February 9
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 February 9
I do not know what anything is for.
Purpose is meaning. Today’s idea explains why nothing you see means anything. You do not know what it is for. Therefore, it is meaningless to you. Everything is for your own best interests. That is what it is for; that is its purpose; that is what it means. It is in recognizing this that your goals become unified. It is in recognizing this that what you see is given meaning.
You perceive the world and everything in it as meaningful in terms of ego goals. These goals have nothing to do with your own best interests, because the ego is not you. This false identification makes you incapable of understanding what anything is for. As a result, you are bound to misuse it. When you believe this, you will try to withdraw the goals you have assigned to the world, instead of attempting to reinforce them.
Another way of describing the goals you now perceive is to say that they are all concerned with “personal” interests. Since you have no personal interests, your goals are really concerned with nothing. In cherishing them, therefore, you have no goals at all. And thus you do not know what anything is for.
Before you can make any sense out of the exercises for today, one more thought is necessary. At the most superficial levels, you do recognize purpose. Yet purpose cannot be understood at these levels. For example, you do understand that a telephone is for the purpose of talking to someone who is not physically in your immediate vicinity. What you do not understand is what you want to reach him for. And it is this that makes your contact with him meaningful or not.
It is crucial to your learning to be willing to give up the goals you have established for everything. The recognition that they are meaningless, rather than “good” or “bad,” is the only way to accomplish this. The idea for today is a step in this direction.
Six practice periods, each of two-minutes duration, are required. Each practice period should begin with a slow repetition of the idea for today, followed by looking about you and letting your glance rest on whatever happens to catch your eye, near or far, “important” or “unimportant,” “human” or “nonhuman.” With your eyes resting on each subject you so select, say, for example:
I do not know what this chair is for.
I do not know what this pencil is for.
I do not know what this hand is for.
Say this quite slowly, without shifting your eyes from the subject until you have completed the statement about it. Then move on to the next subject, and apply today’s idea as before.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #503: I have been studying A Course in Miracles for about 90 lessons, and sometimes I get the feeling that I’m missing something. I think I should have had a revelatory experience in the previous lessons as part of my learning process. So I feel like I’m missing part of the foundation of the learning plan. When the Course instructs me to listen or let me be guided to my Self, I have absolutely no idea what to do. I sit quietly trying to clear my mind and listen to something that could indicate I’m doing the exercise correctly. But I don’t hear/feel anything. My question is: Is it necessary for a student to have experiences of right- mindedness during the exercises? Is it normal for a student to miss experiences? Do they come with later lessons?
A: What you have discovered in your efforts to practice the lessons is exactly what the workbook would like us to learn: we “have absolutely no idea what to do.” That is a very important discovery and, in one sense is a “revelation.” This insight and your honesty give you a very firm foundation for the learning process. As Jesus tells us in the text: “I am leading you to a new kind of experience that you will become less and less willing to deny” (T.11VI.3:6). We can only be led if we are willing to follow, and that requires the recognition that we do not know where we are going. If not knowing means letting go of any judgment of what an experience is, what the outcome of the lesson should be, and willingness to let the Holy Spirit be in charge of the process, then it may indeed be a right minded experience in itself.
The Course is a gentle process that asks only that we have “a little willingness” in practicing forgiveness: “Your part is only to offer Him a little willingness to let Him remove all fear and hatred, and to be forgiven” (T.18.V.2:5). Continued practice of the instructions given in the workbook will lead eventually to seeing things differently. Small, but significant insights, such as you describe, are very helpful in this process. It is common for students to miss the small, important steps. Spectacular experiences are not necessary, some may even be subtly disguised ego devices, more harmful than helpful. We need not strive for experiences. It is dedication to the practice and application of what the workbook teaches, which leads to the experience that will occur naturally. As the Introduction to the workbook tells us: “You are merely asked to apply the ideas as you are directed to do… it is their use that will give them meaning to you, and will show you that they are true” (W.in.8:3,6).
Q #504: I understand that we have made the decision to forget. My question is, why did we reject a state in which we clearly enjoyed peace of mind, in order to enter into time and space? Who in their right mind would feel dissatisfied with the original peace of mind?
A: No one in his right mind would choose to forget who he is, which is why no one in his right mind does. Your question is asked very frequently. It is actually a statement framed in the form of a question, because the question implies that the separation did in fact occur, and that time and space do exist. A Course in Miracles provides the ultimate answer: “…the separation never occurred” (T.6.II.10:7). Jesus tells us we cannot forget our true Identity as God’s innocent Son, but can misuse the power of our minds by choosing separation and believing in the illusion of a separate identity. The very important principle at work here is the power of the mind to choose. The choice is always between truth and illusion, what is real and what is not. Since there is no substitute for God, and no alternative to reality, choosing not to believe in truth is really choosing nothing. However, the belief that it is somethingresults in guilt for having obliterated God and His Son from awareness, replacing them with the made up ego self. The effects are all the devastating, painful experiences of “life” in the body and the world, which lead us to ask ourselves how we got here and why we came. Since Jesus knows we believe in our identity as bodies, he offers an explanation we can understand and work with: we believe we are bodies in the world because this is what we want to believe.
The “original” moment of separation, that seems to have occurred in the past, is actually an ongoing choice for separation that is evident in the daily experiences in our lives. The clues are there for us to see in our energetic pursuit of selfish interests, at the expense of others’ interests, not to mention our devotion and dedication to being right. To paraphrase an often quoted phrase from the text; we would rather be right than peaceful (T.29.VII.1:9). It is this which motivates us, here and now, to choose our little selves and little lives over God.
Thus, in its important goal of teaching us that we have minds with the power to choose, the Course itself is the answer to your question. Our hope lies in following Jesus’ clear and direct invitation: “My brother, choose again” (T.31.VIII.3:2).
For more on this topic please see Question #10.