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 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 a 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 realize 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 the 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 emphasized, 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.
In today’s text, we Jesus reminds us of who and what we really are as Sons of God. He urges us to open our minds and comprehend that our real capabilities as Sons of God far outshine the mere shadows of who we think we are now. We are so proud at times of who we are, what we have accomplished in the world, the causes we stand for and the social changes that we support. Let’s face it being a human, especially in a society which encourages ingenuity, progress, and freedom, can be not only an interesting experience, but one of high adventure, accomplishment, and fun. But Jesus reminds us that all we do fails to bring us unity or love. When we separated from God and from Creation, we traded in knowledge for perception; instead of love we chose fear, suspicion, and hierarchies of specialness. We chose a world of levels where one brother could be higher on the totem pole than another and call it happiness. We chose a world in which different circumstances helped some and hindered others. We chose a world that was built on the stories we made up about God and Creation, instead of the truth. Separated from knowledge we forgot who we were and where we came from. Those who remembered even small bits of the truth were either idolized or denigrated, creating even more conflict within our consciousness and in the outer world we made, making us strangers to ourselves and to each other.
When we come to the end of our belief in humanity, in the fallen kingdom around us, when the light begins to shine through the darkness and cast away the shadows, our minds begin to heal. This feels like waking up from a bad dream. The mind is made right – slowly for some and suddenly for others – our minds begin to yearn for truth, to call out for knowledge, to seek God past all the goodies and false promise offered by the world. But even though we are going in the right direction and our minds are made right – knowledge – Truth with a capital T- is only available to us when we reach certainty, when all we want is to know God, to know truth, to know that in God there is nothing to fear. As long as we have the least bit of perception, as long as we are looking out instead of looking within, as long as we focus on the spaces and the lines that keep us separate instead of seeing the oneness and unity of Creation, Knowledge will seem the alien.
We use our awakened perceptions, our right-minds, to see beyond the ego’s perceptions. We begin to experience a sense of love instead of conflict, we begin to grow impatient with the ego’s version of reality and only want the real deal! This is miraculous and we should never call it anything but a miracle – because we have been set free from a mass delusion, a hellish realm of death, disease, and decay, a consciousness besotted with one falsehood upon another upon another upon another! Only with the mind of Christ, our right-minds, can we begin to disentangle ourselves from that web of deceit and despair. We begin to see glimmers of the truth, we have instances of the purity and innocence of God, we put our hand into the hand of our older, wiser Brother, we put our mind under His guidance, and ask Him to lead the way.
But do not get discouraged just because we are still in a state of humanity. Jesus explains why we will have a bit of uncertainty for even in our right-minds, we will continue to perceive ourselves as flesh and blood sometimes. There are times that no matter how enlightened we are, we will think there is some value in attack. We will look at our brothers and see them as strangers. We will choose separateness instead of unity. We will fall into conflict instead of practice peace. But hallelujah, Brothers. Jesus says that we can never be separate from God. In reality, we are safe in His Arms, at rest in His Kingdom. We belong to Him and we are like Him. He is in us and we are in Him!
Spirit has no affiliation or argument with flesh. It is Truth. Truth needs no defense, has no need to attack. Truth shines and exposes all lies, all fiction, all that cannot stand the test of the everlasting. While the flesh may make of the Spirit an enemy because it exposes truth and obliterates the need for secretiveness, Spirit makes no war upon the flesh – it would be senseless to war upon that which is an illusion, a kingdom of lies, a state of consciousness, a dream in time and space.
In paragraph seven, Jesus assures us that in our reality we are with God in certainty. None of this exists – Truth is truth and let there be no mistake, all that is a lie cannot change it, move it, make it cry, or give it a punch in the nose. Truth cannot change into a lie or turn a lie into truth. Truth does not change its mind about what is right and what is wrong. Truth does not love one day and forsake the next. Truth has no real opposite for all that opposes truth is a lie and lies do not exist. No matter how many lies you tell, no matter how many people you get to believe in those lies, truth remains unfazed and unchanged. There is no battering ram in the world that can put a dent in truth!
When Jesus took humanity upon himself, he did not attempt to counteract the illusions of this world with knowledge, but rather to correct misperceptions at the level where they took place. When we are still enchanted by the fallen kingdom, Truth does not seek us out to correct the lies we have made our reality. Knowledge is not active; it just is. Knowledge stands. It has no perception. Knowledge has no role in our salvation. Salvation is the breaking of the spell that must be broken. We come to knowledge after salvation. Jesus as God’s Perfect Son broke the spell of our enchantment with flesh and blood and the physical world. When Jesus performed miracles, he demonstrated that we are not limited by our human forms nor the laws of the physical universe. When Jesus died on the cross he showed us the powerlessness of the body; when he resurrected he showed us the power of the mind. He did this by uniting His will with that of the Father, which enabled him to remember spirit and its real purpose.
Jesus does not unite our will with God’s, but He does show us how to be like Him. He does erase all lies from our mind when we ask for His guidance. Without our belief in it, the smokescreen of miscreation dissipates – it disappears into the nothingness in which it was made. Behind the smokescreen there is truth. There is our knowledge of God restored to us. There is Creation in all its radiant glory. There is our true identity right where it always was, safe in the loving embrace of God. No longer under the enchantment of fear, we choose Love, we choose Truth, we choose Spirit. We choose God which is all things.
Jesus assures us that all are called, but few choose to listen. We keep putting it off. We continue to seek for our happiness where it cannot be found. We ignore our inner calls to seek Him, because we choose to fear Him Who created us, instead of trusting in His Love and Good Will. We try to substitute all manner of distractions – but in the end every single one of us realize that without Him we are nothing. We can be one of the “chosen” who choose sooner rather than later to seek Him, but we can never be loved more or less than the rest of Creation. For we cannot find God when we strive against our brothers. God made us and knows us only in peace and this is our reality. Pray for reality, dear brothers.
A Course in Miracles. Chapter 3: IV Error and the ego. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
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