ACIM Text Reading for January 21
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 January 21
I am determined to see things differently.
1. The idea for today is obviously a continuation and extension of the preceding one. This time, however, specific mind-searching periods are necessary, in addition to applying the idea to particular situations as they may arise. Five practice periods are urged, allowing a full minute for each.
2. In the practice periods, begin by repeating the idea to yourself. Then close your eyes and search your mind carefully for situations past, present or anticipated that arouse anger in you. The anger may take the form of any reaction ranging from mild irritation to rage. The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter. You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.
3. Try, therefore, not to let the “little” thoughts of anger escape you in the practice periods. Remember that you do not really recognize what arouses anger in you, and nothing that you believe in this connection means anything. You will probably be tempted to dwell more on some situations or persons than on others, on the fallacious grounds that they are more “obvious.” This is not so. It is merely an example of the belief that some forms of attack are more justified than others.
4. As you search your mind for all the forms in which attack thoughts present themselves, hold each one in mind while you tell yourself:
I am determined to see ____________ [name of person] differently.
I am determined to see ________________ [specify the situation] differently.
5. Try to be as specific as possible. You may, for example, focus your anger on a particular attribute of a particular person, believing that the anger is limited to this aspect. If your perception is suffering from this form of distortion, say:
I am determined to see ____________ [specify the attribute] in ____________ [name of person] differently.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) What about the beauty and goodness in the world?
Following the above answer, we can see that the so-called positive aspects of our world are equally as illusory as the negative ones. They are both aspects of a dualistic perceptual universe, which but reflect the dualistic split in the mind of the Sonship. The famous statement “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ is also applicable here, since what one deems as beauty, another may find to be aesthetically displeasing, and vice versa. Similarly, what one society judges as good, another may judge as bad and against the common good. This can be evidenced by a careful study of history, sociology, and cultural anthropology. Therefore, using the criterion for reality of eternal changelessness that Jesus employs in the Course, we can conclude that nothing that the world deems beautiful or good is real, and so it cannot have been created by God.
A) Therefore, given that both beauty and goodness are relative concepts and thus are illusory, we should follow Jesus’ injunction to always ask ourselves: “What is the meaning of what I behold?” (T-3I.VII.13:5). In other words, even though something beautiful is illusory, it remains neutral, like everything else in the world. Given to the ego, it serves its unholy purpose of reinforcing separation, specialness, and guilt. Given to the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, it serves the holy purpose of leading us to an experience of truth that lies beyond perception. For example, a sunset can reinforce the belief that I can find peace and well-being only while in its presence, or it can help remind me that the true beauty of Christ is my Identity, and that this beauty is internal, within my mind and independent of anything outside it.