A Course in Miracles

Chapter 3 - Retraining the Mind

Perception vs Knowledge

We have been emphasizing perception and have said very little about cognition (knowledge) as yet because you are confused about the difference between them. The reason we have dealt so little with cognition is because you must get your perceptions straightened out before you can know anything.

To know is to be certain. Uncertainty merely means that you do not know. Knowledge is power because it is certain, and certainty is strength.

Perception is merely temporary. It is an attribute of the space-time belief and is therefore subject to fear or love. Misperceptions produce fear, and true perceptions produce love. Neither produces 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. All your difficulties ultimately stem from the fact that you do not recognize or know yourselves, each other, or God. To recognize means to "know again," implying that you knew before. You can see in many ways because perception involves different interpretations, and this means that it is not whole. The miracle is a way of perceiving, not of knowing. It is the right answer to a question, and you do not ask questions at all when you know.

Questioning illusions (perception) is the first step in undoing them. True perception is the basis for knowledge, but knowing is the affirmation of truth. All your difficulties ultimately stem from the fact that you do not recognize or know yourselves, each other, or God. To recognize means to "know again," implying that you knew before. You can see in many ways because perception involves different interpretations, and this means that it is not whole. The miracle is a way of perceiving, not of knowing. It is the right answer to a question, and you do not ask questions at all when you know.

The questioning mind perceives itself in time, and therefore looks for future answers. The unquestioning mind is closed because it believes the future and present will be the same. This establishes an unchanged state or stasis. It is usually an attempt to counteract an underlying fear that the future will be worse than the present, and this fear inhibits the tendency to question at all.

Visions are the natural perception of the Spiritual eye (Holy Spirit), but they are still corrections.

The Spiritual eye 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. Properly speaking, “a vision of God” is 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 do not last.

The Bible instructs you to "know yourself" or 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. However, it is not until you recognize him that you can know him. While you ask questions about God, you are clearly implying that you do not know Him. Certainty does not require action. When you say that you are acting on the basis of knowledge, you are really confusing perception and cognition. Knowledge brings the mental 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. Perception involves the body, even in its most spiritualized form. Knowledge comes from the altar within and is timeless because it is certain. To perceive the truth is not the same as knowing it.

If you attack error in one another, you will hurt yourself.

You cannot recognize each other when you attack. Attack is always made on a stranger. You are making him a stranger by misperceiving him so that 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. Right perception is necessary before God can communicate directly to His own altars which He has 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 Biblical description of God as

“Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13

It also explains the quotation,

“Before Abraham was I AM.” John 8:58

Perception can and must be stabilized, but knowledge is stable.

“Fear God and keep his commandments” Ecclesiastes 12:13 should read “Know God and accept His certainty.”

There are no strangers in His Creation. To create as He created, you can create only what you know and accept as yours. God knows His Children with perfect certainty. He created them by knowing them. He recognized them perfectly. When they do not recognize (know) each other, they do not recognize (know) Him.




A Course in Miracles

Chapter 3 - Retraining the Mind

Conflict and the Ego

The abilities man now possesses are only shadows of his real strengths. All of his functions are equivocal and open to question or doubt. This is because he is not certain how he will use them. He is therefore incapable of knowledge, being uncertain.He is also incapable of knowledge because he can perceive lovelessly. He cannot create surely because his perception deceives.

Perception did not exist until the separation had introduced degrees, aspects and intervals. The Soul has no levels, and all conflict arises from the concept of levels. Only the Levels of the Trinity are capable of Unity. The levels which man created by the separation cannot but conflict. This is because they are essentially meaningless to each other.

Freud realized this perfectly, and that is why he conceived the different levels in his view of the psyche as forever irreconcilable. They were conflict-prone by definition because they wanted different things and obeyed different principles.

In our picture of the psyche:

There is an unconscious level which properly consists only of the miracle ability, and which should be under my direction.

There is also a conscious level, which perceives or is aware of impulses from both the unconscious and the superconscious. Consciousness is thus the level of perception, but not of knowledge. Again, to perceive is not to know.

Consciousness was the first split that man introduced into himself. He became a perceiver, rather than a creator in the true sense. Consciousness is correctly identified as the domain of the ego. The ego is a man-made attempt to perceive himself as he wished to be, rather than as he is. This is an example of the created-creator confusion we have spoken of before. Yet man can only know himself as he is, because that is all he can be sure of. Everything else is open to question.

The ego is the questioning compartment in the post-separation psyche which man created for himself. It is capable of asking valid questions but not of perceiving valid answers, because these are cognitive and cannot be perceived. The endless speculation about the meaning of mind has led to considerable confusion because the mind is confused. Only One-Mindedness is without confusion. A separated or divided mind must be confused; it is uncertain by definition. It has to be in conflict because it is out of accord with itself.

Intrapersonal conflict arises from the same basis as interpersonal conflict. One part of the psyche perceives another part as on a different level, and does not understand it. This makes the parts strangers to each other, without recognition. This is the essence of the fear-prone condition, in which attack is always possible. Man has every reason to feel afraid, as he perceives himself. This is why he cannot escape from fear until he knows that he did not and could not create himself. He can never make his misperceptions valid. His creation is beyond his own error, and that is why he 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, a fact which clearly demonstrates a lack of association with knowledge. The term “right-mindedness” is properly used as the correction for “wrong-mindedness,” and applies to the state of mind which induces accurate perception. It is miraculous because it heals misperception, and this is indeed a miracle in view of how man perceives himself.

Perception always involves some misuse of will because it involves the mind in areas of uncertainty. The mind is very active because it has will-power. When it willed the separation, it willed to perceive. Until then, it willed only to know. Afterwards it willed 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 Soul’s service, where perception is meaningless. The superconscious is the level of the mind which wills this.

The mind chose to divide itself when it willed to create both its own levels and the ability to perceive, but it could not entirely separate itself from the Soul, because it is from the Soul that it derives its whole power to create. Even in miscreation will is affirming its source, or it would merely cease to be. This is impossible, because it is part of the Soul, which God created and which is therefore eternal.

The ability to perceive made the body possible because you must perceive something, and with something. This is why perception involves an exchange or translation, which knowledge does not need. The interpretive function of perception, actually a distorted form of creation, then permitted man to interpret the body as himself, which, though depressing, was an attempt to escape from the conflict he had induced.

The super-conscious, which knows, could not be reconciled with this loss of power, because it is incapable of darkness. This is why it became almost inaccessible to the mind and entirely inaccessible to the body.

Thereafter, the superconscious was perceived as a threat, because light does abolish darkness merely by establishing the fact that it is not there. The truth will always overcome error in this sense. This is not an active process of destruction at all. We have already emphasized that knowledge does not do anything. It can be perceived as an attacker, but it cannot attack. What man perceives as its attack is merely his own vague recognition of the fact that it can always be remembered, never having been destroyed.

God and the Souls He created remain in surety, and therefore know that no miscreation exists. Truth cannot deal with unwilling error, because it does not will to be blocked out.

I was a man who remembered the Soul and its knowledge, and as a man, I did not attempt to counteract error with knowledge so much as 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 the Soul and its own 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 own way. Without them your choice is certain. Sane perception induces sane choosing. The Atonement was an act based on true perception. I cannot choose for you, but I can help you make your own right choice.

“Many are called but few are chosen” Matthew 22:14 should read, “All are called but few choose to listen. Therefore, they do not choose right.”

The “chosen ones” are merely those who choose right sooner. This is the real meaning of the celestial speed-up. Strong wills can do this now, and you will find rest for your Souls. God knows you only in peace, and this is your reality.




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