VI. Finding the Present 1-6
1. To perceive truly is to be aware of all reality through the awareness of your own. But for this no illusions can rise to meet your sight, for reality leaves no room for any error. This means that you perceive a brother only as you see him now. His past has no reality in the present, so you cannot see it. Your past reactions to him are also not there, and if it is to them that you react, you see but an image of him that you made and cherish instead of him. In your questioning of illusions, ask yourself if it is really sane to perceive what was as now. If you remember the past as you look upon your brother, you will be unable to perceive the reality that is now.
2. You consider it “natural” to use your past experience as the reference point from which to judge the present. Yet this is unnatural because it is delusional. When you have learned to look on everyone with no reference at all to the past, either his or yours as you perceived it, you will be able to learn from what you see now. For the past can cast no shadow to darken the present, unless you are afraid of light. And only if you are [afraid of light] would you choose to bring darkness with you, and by holding it in your mind, see it as a dark cloud that shrouds your brothers and conceals their reality from your sight.
3. This darkness is in you. The Christ as revealed to you now has no past, for He is changeless, and in His changelessness lies your release. For if He is as He was created, there is no guilt in Him. No cloud of guilt has risen to obscure Him, and He stands revealed in everyone you meet because you see Him through Himself. To be born again is to let the past go and look without condemnation upon the present. The cloud that obscures God’s Son to you is the past, and if you would have it passed and gone, you must not see it now. If you see it now in your illusions, it has not gone from you, although it is not there.
4. Time can release as well as imprison, depending on whose interpretation of it you use. Past, present, and future are not continuous, unless you force continuity on them. You can perceive them as continuous and make them so for you. But do not be deceived, and then believe that this is how it is. For to believe reality is what you would have it be according to your use for it is delusional. You would destroy time’s continuity by breaking it into past, present, and future for your own purposes. You would anticipate the future on the basis of your past experience and plan for it accordingly. Yet by doing so you are aligning past and future, and not allowing the miracle, which could intervene between them, to free you to be born again.
5. The miracle enables you to see your brother without his past, and so perceive him as born again. His errors are all past, and by perceiving him without them you are releasing him. And since his past is yours, you share in this release. Let no dark cloud out of your past obscure him from you, for truth lies only in the present, and you will find it if you seek it there. You have looked for it where it is not, and therefore have not found it. Learn, then, to seek it where it is, and it will dawn on eyes that see. Your past was made in anger, and if you use it to attack the present, you will not see the freedom that the present holds.
6. Judgment and condemnation are behind you, and unless you bring them with you, you will see that you are free of them. Look lovingly upon the present, for it holds the only things that are forever true. All healing lies within it because its continuity is real. It extends to all aspects of the Sonship at the same time, and thus enables them to reach each other. The present is before time was and will be when time is no more. In it are all things that are eternal, and they are one. Their continuity is timeless, and their communication is unbroken, for they are not separated by the past. Only the past can separate, and it is nowhere.
Today we embark on finding the present. Jesus teaches that the present is always obscured by the ego – for the ego’s aim is to keep projecting the past to the future and thus maintain its existence in time. Breaking free of the bounds of the perceptual world, being set free from time depends upon our ability to find the present moment and to experience the “now” of time for this is the closest approximation to eternity that we have available to us. When we have a concept of that freedom we have something tangible to move toward – our salvation from the perceptual kingdom is no longer some “future” event that happens when we die or when Jesus returns in the sky or in whatever concept of salvation that you may believe in or have your hopes invested in. We are saved in the present moment, and this is where all holy encounters occur.
For we cannot have a holy encounter in the past, nor can we bring the past to our holy encounters. When I meet you today and you meet me today we are new to each other in Christ. I do not bring my grudges toward you with me in my encounter. I leave all my past perceptions of you and how dangerous you are to me behind and recognize you now in our mutuality, in the Brotherhood of Christ. It would be very silly for me to look upon you as that mean creep that pushed me down the stairs when we were kids. You are a grown man now, a loving husband, a father, and a grandfather. That day you pushed me down the stairs was over fifty years ago. If I only see that when I look at you – I am denying myself reality as it is now.
As tempted as we are to use the past to judge the present, this is a bizarre way in which to relate to one another because it is delusional. Jesus is not asking us to wipe out our memory or to use this teaching as an excuse for stupidity or to put ourselves in danger. He is simply asking us to practice looking at everybody in our lives with no reference to our past associations with them. Just as holding something against little boy Johnny for pushing me down the stairs when we were kids would be a ludicrous way in which to relate to my cousin now – Jesus is asking us to practice not only non-judgment, but to see the events and interactions of this realm as meaning nothing. For only when we see the unreality of the perceptual world for what it is, can we grasp the meaning of what is “now.” When I can look upon my cousin and not even see him as my cousin, but as with me, the Sonship, the Brotherhood, the Kingdom can I step out of my littleness. Johnny then becomes not Eckie’s cousin, not the troubled little boy that pushed me down the stairs at Aunt Mart’s house, not as an image perceived through the small-minded, self-centered lens of a vulnerable creature full of fear and susceptible to danger from all around, but rather as who and what he is now. In the light of Christ my perception of him casts no shadow – I have no fear of him pushing me down but rather would count upon him to hold me up even as I would uplift him. No longer small and at the mercy of our smallness, we can relate to one another through our mutuality in the reality of the present moment.
Jesus tells us in paragraph three that we take the dark past with us and hold it in us but our Sonship, the Christ in us, is our release from all the dark experiences we have with one another in the perceptual realm. I have come to be very suspicious of this kind of teaching for I was raised with a cultish adherence to the teachings of Christ and the reason I got pushed down the stairs so much by Cousin Johnny in the literal sense and pushed down the stairs so much in the figurative sense by other cousins was the fact that I was taught to blindly forgive, to keep giving chances, to see myself as little Jesus and count all my suffering at the hands of mean cousins and deranged family members as joy. But it was not joy and it led me into a very unhealthy, dazed, bewildered confusion. Teachings these concepts to children is unwise and destructive. These practices are for those of us who are seeking truth and we practice these concepts during our devotional practices and in our thoughts. We do not open our doors and invite thieves into our homes; we do not put pedophiles in charge of our children; we are not called to put ourselves in danger or teach others to do the same. These are spiritual concepts. They are thoughts. Thoughts are on a different level than the perceptual realm and the perceptual realm is not where we learn to work miracles. We are being taught here where our true power lies; we are learners and not masters. If we were masters we would not be in a perceptual world learning about the spiritual one!
Our flesh does not become one with Christ, but our mind becomes one with Christ, our split mind becomes one mind in Sonship. This is a process and the only good use of time. To be born again, Jesus says, is to let the past go and look without condemnation upon the present. Looking without condemnation upon another means just that. I will not condemn you by your past behavior; I will not judge you; I will not build a case against you – but as long as you continue to practice hostility and ill will, as long as you want to hide all your lies and hypocrisy by projecting them upon me, I keep my distance and I protect my assets for Love and Truth depart where they are not welcome. God does not force Himself into a mind that rejects and denies Him nor would He ask that of us. Just as we must return to His Kingdom with only loving intention and goodwill, so must our standards of personal relationship be in the perceptual world.
As important as I believe it is to quantify these teachings by clarifying that this is a mind-training and not an excuse to be ridiculous or bring danger upon yourself and family, it is important that we learn to make our inner kingdom, our mind a place of love and forgiveness, mercy and grace. This is reality – what we see and experience in the perceptual world is just that – a perception; it is a show of reality and not reality itself. It is the misuse of time in that it breaks time up into tenses for the purpose of owning and making real what is only a teaching and learning device. Time as means to return to eternity is the correct use of time; time as a means to set up earthly kingdoms doomed for ongoing cycles of destruction, disease, and death is just plain rude.
It is a miracle –the ability to see you without your past and to perceive you as born again. In this very present moment, all the sour things that happened between us, those disrespectful things you said about me and the things I said about you, the ways in which we betrayed each other’s trust are in the past, and by perceiving you without them, I release you. And since your past is my past, I share in this release. Jesus tells us repeatedly throughout this Course in many different ways that the truth lies ONLY IN THE PRESENT, and we will find it only when we seek it in the present. The truth about you does not lie in my past association with you. It is so common for us to inform each other of who and what someone is – we will say, “Oh, don’t you remember. She’s the one that left her husband for that old, rich guy,” or “Oh yea, look at him now all sold out for Jesus, but we know the real story about him – he doesn’t fool us. I remember what he did back in 1975 and I will never be fooled!”
A few years ago I was shocked to learn that someone who lived in the little village east of the Friar Patch judged me on how fast I used to drive through the ‘Burg back in the 1970s. In their pea brains it didn’t matter that I have been obeying the speed limits for 40 years, I was still that depraved little minx that sped through their village! That gal does not even exist anymore, that crime is in the past and yet they were skipping right over the present and still projecting that old idea about me into the future.
Until we are willing to see each other and ourselves as we are now, will we really know each other, will we begin to grasp the truth about what we really are in Sonship. We are not to use our past or anybody’s else past against them or ourselves. The present moment is what we seek for in the present moment do we gain freedom. The present moment then is an act of Love. It is the miracle realm. It is constantly being refreshed.
And in that constant refreshment of the miracle moment, when the past goes away and all the judgment and condemnation go with it, is when we bring others in with us because we see them in that moment for the perfect Son of God. This is the only truth about us, and when I see you and you see me as Christ, healing takes place. You are healed from all desire for wrongdoing even as I am healed. We are healed from fear of one another because we love one another in the present moment. The present moment does not make us more vulnerable then as you would be inclined to think, but the present moment is the place where we meet before time began, before the Sonship chose to oppose all that is of Love. The present moment then is where we are as we were created – invulnerable for there is nothing to fear.
We will continue with the last five paragraphs in the next post. In your personal devotional, meditate upon the present moment and its constant loving renewal and its constant healing and redemptive power. Do not allow the ego to obscure the present moment but grasp it and be healed by its message of continuity, communion, and communication with all of Creation. Let not the past separate the Brotherhood of Christ for it is only the past that can separate, and the past is gone, it is nowhere, it is over before it was begun. Ask Holy Spirit to raise your consciousness, to illuminate your mind, to be your Guide and Teacher for we cannot understand these concepts with the dimmed wits of the lower mind which keep even the most savvy in a realm that blurs the present moment from our awareness. Above all, be blessed in your seeking for when we seek the present moment, we find the present moment for seeking and finding are one.
A Course in Miracles. Chapter 13 The guiltless world. VI Finding the present moment 1-6. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
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