ACIM MANUAL FOR TEACHERS 8. How Can Perception of Order of Difficulties Be Avoided?


1. 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 recognized. 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 standards, completely upsets the mental balance. What the body’s eyes behold is only conflict. Look not to them for peace and understanding.

2. 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 recognized 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.

3. 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 eye’s 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.

4. It is the sorting out and categorizing 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? Unrecognized 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 judgment of all differences rests, because it is on this that judgments of the world depend. Can this confused and senseless “reasoning” be depended on for anything?

5. 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 into 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 categorized them all as real, and so they are all real to him. When he realizes they are all illusions they will disappear. And so it is with healing. The properties of illusion which seem to make them different are really irrelevant for their properties are as illusory as they are.

6. 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 where differences cannot exist within it – so too are illusions without distinction. The one answer to sickness of any kind is healing. The one answer to all illusions is truth.[1]

As long as we are in the world, we will continue to see with our human eyes. In the flesh, there will always be differences between me and you and everything else in the world. Some differences will seem minor, but others will be stark. Yet no matter how big or small the differences between everything is – every perception that comes to us through our flesh senses is merely an illusion. It is part of the separation we experience from God in a dream of time, space, and outlines of this and outlines of that. 

One of the most wonderful things that A Course in Miracles has taught me is to recognize God and my Self as Spirit, to no longer be afraid of the Spirit, to accept that the perceptual world is not God’s Creation but the symbol of separation from God.  For only in the Spirit, in God, are we free from the perception of opposites and differences. 

The one thing however that I find most challenging about our Course is the emphasis on physical healing.  As pleasant as it is to enjoy good health and the sense of well-being that comes with it, if the body is not the creation of God, but rather the symbol of separation, what does it matter – in the end – if it is “healthy” or not? Because our body does not define us, because it is not going to exist forever, because the body as we know it is designed to expire – why the emphasis on healing?

In the best possible condition of the body, it demands near constant, if not constant attention. Our lives are centered around and about its needs – its food and its drink, its shelter and warmth, its safety and survival, its comforts and indulgences.  We live to gratify it, to spoil it, to coddle it, it is our special “pet,” distinguished from all the other bodies in the world.  As long as I have a body, it will be far more special to me than your body – that is just the way it is in the world, no matter how much I may claim otherwise. We would not be in the world, if we had not chosen specialness, to distinguish ourselves from the oneness and unity of God. 

Our minds are healed when we begin to awaken to our real Identity in Christ. And this Identity in Christ, the real you and the real me cannot harbor guilt toward the Sonship, nor live by the laws of sin, sacrifice, shame, and pain that would inflict the punishment of disease and death upon us.  The more we come to understand the illusory nature of the perceptual world, the more we are freed from the fear that it holds over us.  An epidemic is no more dangerous to us than any other of the scary things the flesh world has devised to torment our minds. One big knife is no more threatening than several small knives. A cancerous mass is no more worrisome than a little brown mole.  One supposed sin is no worse than any other, no matter what the intensity or how many people it has seemed to harm.  As we generalize any single part of the illusion, so we generalize it all. 

The perceptual world gives us a dizzying array of diseases and disasters to which our bodies can succumb. Giving a new name, a new strain, a new take on what has been going on ever since the illusion of separation began – drugs are developed, insurances are offered, blame is assigned, sacrifices demanded, battles waged. Enter into that ruckus and you will not find peace or understanding. To return our minds to the Christ within means that what we see with our flesh eyes and experience with our flesh senses will be recognized for exactly what it is – a zero – no matter how big or small, many or few, good or bad it appears to be. Recognize this and health is restored, healing is accomplished, and salvation comes.  This is the promise of God, and it is a promise worth reaching for, accepting, and sharing with all. 

[1] A Course in Miracles. Manual for Teachers. 8. How can perception of order of difficulties be avoided? Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).

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Published by eckief

My love for God, home and hearth, my husband and family fueled my decision to devote the rest of my life only to pursuits which brought love, joy, peace, and purpose. I am a writer, seeker, student, and teacher with experience professional and otherwise from waitressing to teaching the English language in China, Taiwan, and Singapore. I hold a BA in Psychology from Bloomsburg University, which took nearly 30 years to attain while I squeezed courses in between raising my children, journaling, relationships, work, and an assortment of escapades, some of which I would rather forget! An ongoing passion for reading, writing, adventure, food, and fun, eventually led me to the love of my life, James, whom I met in 1996 and married in 1997. Our life together has been an exciting journey of work and travel, spiritual awakening, and domestic bliss ever since. Although we have experienced the tragic loss of family members and friends through death and estrangement, we have managed to turn our special relationship into a holy one by the grace of God and an acute and growing awareness of “there must be a better way!” In 2006, I published my first novel, Luella’s Calling, and am currently working on my second, Grover Good and the Stone Chateau. From 2013 through 2018, I worked as a Prevention Education Specialist for Transitions, a local domestic violence sexual abuse victim’s service agency. My work there, fueled by a lifelong enthusiasm for teaching, led me to obtain an MS in Education from Scranton University. In 2018, I resigned to accompany James on his work travels while focusing on my calling to study and teach A Course in Miracles. To that end, I dedicate the rest of my days to writing, sharing, and teaching the message of salvation found within the Course pages. Thank you for your interest in this blog. As I do not respond to comments on the posts, if you care to contact me, please email me at

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