ACIM Reading for October 29
Manual for Teachers
8. HOW CAN PERCEPTION OF ORDER OF DIFFICULTIES BE AVOIDED?
The belief in order of difficulties is the basis for the world’s perception. It rests on differences; on uneven background and shifting foreground, on unequal heights and diverse sizes, on varying degrees of darkness and light, and thousands of contrasts in which each thing seen competes with every other in order to be recognised. A larger object overshadows a smaller one. A brighter thing draws the attention from another with less intensity of appeal. And a more threatening idea, or one conceived of as more desirable by the world’s standards, completely upsets the mental balance. What the body’s eyes behold is only conflict. Look not to them for peace and understanding.
Illusions are always illusions of differences. How could it be otherwise? By definition, an illusion is an attempt to make something real that is regarded as of major importance, but is recognised as being untrue. The mind therefore seeks to make it true out of its intensity of desire to have it for itself. Illusions are travesties of creation; attempts to bring truth to lies. Finding truth unacceptable, the mind revolts against truth and gives itself an illusion of victory. Finding health a burden, it retreats into feverish dreams. And in these dreams the mind is separate, different from other minds, with different interests of its own, and able to gratify its needs at the expense of others.
Where do all these differences come from? Certainly they seem to be in the world outside. Yet it is surely the mind that judges what the eyes behold. It is the mind that interprets the eyes’ messages and gives them “meaning”. And this meaning does not exist in the world outside at all. What is seen as “reality” is simply what the mind prefers. Its hierarchy of values is projected outward, and it sends the body’s eyes to find it. The body’s eyes will never see except through differences. Yet it is not the messages they bring on which perception rests. Only the mind evaluates their messages, and so only the mind is responsible for seeing. It alone decides whether what is seen is real or illusory, desirable or undesirable, pleasurable or painful.
It is in the sorting out and categorising activities of the mind that errors in perception enter. And it is here correction must be made. The mind classifies what the body’s eyes bring to it according to its preconceived values, judging where each sense datum fits best. What basis could be faultier than this? Unrecognised by itself, it has itself asked to be given what will fit into these categories. And having done so, it concludes that the categories must be true. On this the judgement of all differences rests, because it is on this that judgements of the world depend. Can this confused and senseless “reasoning” be depended on for anything?
There can be no order of difficulty in healing merely because all sickness is illusion. Is it harder to dispel the belief of the insane in a larger hallucination as opposed to a smaller one? Will he agree more quickly to the unreality of a louder voice he hears than to that of a softer one? Will he dismiss more easily a whispered demand to kill than a shout? And do the number of pitchforks the devils he sees carrying affect their credibility in his perception? His mind has categorised them all as real, and so they are all real to him. When he realises they are all illusions they will disappear. And so it is with healing. The properties of illusions which seem to make them different are really irrelevant, for their properties are as illusory as they are.
The body’s eyes will continue to see differences. But the mind that has let itself be healed will no longer acknowledge them. There will be those who seem to be “sicker” than others, and the body’s eyes will report their changed appearances as before. But the healed mind will put them all in one category; they are unreal. This is the gift of its Teacher; the understanding that only two categories are meaningful in sorting out the messages the mind receives from what appears to be the outside world. And of these two, but one is real. Just as reality is wholly real, apart from size and shape and time and place—for differences cannot exist within it—so too are illusions without distinctions. The one answer to sickness of any kind is healing. The one answer to all illusions is truth.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 29
My sight goes forth to look upon Christ’s face.
I ask Your blessing on my sight today. It is the means which You have chosen to become the way to show me my mistakes, and look beyond them. It is given me to find a new perception through the Guide You gave to me, and through His lessons to surpass perception and return to truth. I ask for the illusion which transcends all those I made. Today I choose to see a world forgiven, in which everyone shows me the face of Christ, and teaches me that what I look upon belongs to me; that nothing is, except Your holy Son.
Today our sight is blessed indeed. We share one vision, as we look upon the face of Him Whose Self is ours. We are one because of Him Who is the Son of God; of Him Who is our own Identity.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) How can one access the mind so that the mind can be changed?
A) In a sense, the purpose of A Course in Miracles is to help us do just that. The cornerstone on which the ego thought system rests is our unforgiven guilt. This roots us in our physical and psychological experience as a body and an individual personality. Thus, the ego’s goal is to “protect” the guilt in our minds from being undone. As it is this guilt in our minds that is the programmer of our individual lives, so it is this guilt that must be undone through forgiveness, the Course’s central teaching.
As forgiveness removes this unconscious guilt and we shift from wrong-mindedness to right-mindedness, we allow the Holy Spirit to be our programmer. Thus, His Love and peace are mediated through our minds and become our guides, instead of the ego’s thought system of fear and hatred. The ego always strives to have us adopt some new system it has invented, such as the contemporary self-help techniques, to reprogram our “minds,” so that our brains would then function to “Fix up” and reprogram our lives. In this way, we become further enmeshed in the grip of the ego thought system, even though we are not aware consciously that this is what we are doing. However, we should note that it was just this belief that we are self-created and on our own, and could accomplish things by ourselves, that led to the separation in the first place. Moreover, all thought would have this as its basic pattern and goal.
The important Course principle of “a little willingness” to ask the Holy Spirit for help in order for our perceptions of ourselves and others to be corrected, imbues us with a sense of humility. This culminates in the realization that we do not know our own best interests, regardless of what the ego thought system propounds and teaches us. Thus, it is one’s own responsibility to acknowledge that in order to become right-minded and remain that way, one must always access the Holy Spirit.
Even more specific is Jesus’ injunction in A Course in Miracles that his students look at their egos without judgment. This is the way to access the mind. If students, with Jesus’ love beside them, can look without judgment and guilt at their egos in action, then who is doing the looking? It cannot be the ego itself, but the mind — or better, the decision maker in our minds — that is not in the body and therefore, again, is not the ego. The following passage from the text provides a very clear description of this process and how central Jesus believes it is to the practice of his Course:
No one can escape from illusions unless he looks at them, for not looking is the way they are protected. There is no need to shrink from illusions, for they cannot be dangerous. We are ready to look more closely at the ego’s thought system because together we have the lamp that will dispel it, and since you realize you do not want it, you must be ready. Let us be very calm in doing this, for we are merely looking honestly for truth. The “dynamics” of the ego will be our lesson for a while, for we must look first at this to see beyond it, since you have made it real. We will undo this error quietly together, and then look beyond it to truth. What is healing but the removal of all that stands in the way of knowledge? And how else can one dispel illusions except by looking at them directly, without protecting them? (T-11.V.1:1-2:2)
And in this succinct sentence, also from the text, we find the goal of this process clearly enunciated:
This is a crucial period in this course, for here the separation of you and the ego must be made complete (T-22.II.6:1).
The “you” is the decision maker, the part of our split minds that chooses, which has now shifted its identification from the ego (the wrong mind) to the Holy Spirit (the right mind).