III. Perception versus Knowledge
- We have been emphasizing 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 perception.
- All your difficulties stem from the fact that you do not recognize yourself, your brother, or God. To recognize 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, 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 spiritualized 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 the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,” and “Before Abraham was, I am.” Perception can and must be stabilized, 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 recognizes them perfectly. When they do not recognize each other, they do not recognize Him. 
No matter how spiritual we are, perception involves the body. It is our right perception of God that instills our right thinking, miracles, and helpfulness in the world. Knowledge is the revelation of God and does not reveal itself through perception, only thought. Knowledge is timeless, certain, unchanging. Jesus makes it very clear that perceiving the truth is not the same as knowing it.
As much as I love my husband, James, it is only the fact that I perceive him as he is that makes it possible for me to know him. To perceive him as he is – I have to ask questions. He tells the story of James instead of me making things up about him. I must be willing to put our pasts behind, relate to him from a deep well of appreciation, respect, admiration, and forgiveness before I come to know him as he is. Knowledge of James is the end of all questions I may have had about him. Knowledge of James means the opinions of others have no power to influence my knowledge of him. No matter how circumstances may change for the better or for the worse, I know James. I know that I can trust him. I know that I can depend upon him. I know that he cherishes me as much as I cherish him. I know that he is humble. I know that he is tender. I know that he is good.
Until I know him, perhaps you could have changed my mind about him. You could have recited all his mistakes. You could make up stories about how vile and mean he is. You could form alliances that characterize him as saint or sinner, and I would have to sort through it and find out for myself. But no more! I know him. He is revealed to me. And I am certain.
Thus our perceptions of God must become stabilized. This is why we are studying this Course because knowing God is our goal. To get there we need the miracle perception. We need Atonement to deliver us from the unreal kingdom, to help us perceive past the separation apparent to our physical senses. Atonement stabilizes our perceptions, it helps us to ask the right questions and Atonement provides us with the true response. Atonement prepares us for knowledge, which is stable. When we become unshakeable in our love, devotion, and unity with one another, we become unshakeable in our love, our devotion, our unity with Him.
Jesus ends today’s text by telling us to never focus on the mistakes or the wrongdoing of another person. We are not to put labels on one another. We are not to take up arms against each other. We are not to enter campaigns that use slurs and mockery and ridicule. These are not miracle measures. Attacking our brothers does not bring us peace. It brings us nothing but suffering, shame, and guilt. When we attack our brothers for any reason, we are making strangers of the Sons of God, we are disrespecting the oneness and unity of Creation, we can be the most spiritually enlightened person on the planet, but we will not know God. Jesus urges us to perceive our brothers with the miracle of Atonement which teaches Sonship and Brotherhood – because there are no strangers in God’s creation. God has made us to create like Him, to be like Him. He knows us with perfect certainty because He made us. He recognizes us. He never forgot us. When we fail to recognize each other we fail to recognize Him.
To know God, we must love Creation. We must do our best to show mercy, reflect love, and promote peace and brotherhood. Today in your devotional practice, ask the Lord to let this text rest upon your mind and teach you actionable ways in which you can apply these precepts. Let us stand with Christ and see the world through His eyes of forgiveness and healing.
 A Course in Miracles. Chapter 3:III Perception versus knowledge. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
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