A Course in Miracles

Chapter 3 - Retraining The Mind

Loss of Certainty

We said before that the abilities which man possesses are only shadows of his real strengths and that the intrusion of the ability to perceive, which is inherently judgmental, was introduced only after the separation. No one has been sure of anything since. You will also remember, however, that I made it clear that the resurrection was the means for the return to knowledge, which was accomplished by the union of my will with the Father's. We can now make a distinction which will greatly facilitate clarity in our subsequent statements.

Since the separation, the words "create" and "make" have been greatly confused. When you make something, you make it out of a sense of lack or need. Anything that is made is made for a specific purpose and has no true generalizability. When you make something to fill a perceived lack, which is obviously why you would want to make anything, you are tacitly implying that you believe in separation. Knowing, as we have frequently observed, does not lead to doing at all.

The confusion between your own creation and what you create is so profound that it has become literally impossible for you to know anything.

Knowledge is always stable, and it is quite evident that human beings are not. Nevertheless, they are perfectly stable as God created them. In this sense, when their behavior is unstable they are disagreeing with God's idea of the creation. Man can do this if he chooses, but he would hardly want to do it if he were in his right mind. The problem that bothers you most is the fundamental question which man continually asks of himself, but which cannot properly be directed to himself at all. He keeps asking himself what he is. This implies that the answer is not only one which he knows but is also one which is up to him to supply.

Man cannot perceive himself correctly. He has no image. The word "image" is always perception-related and not a product of knowing. Images are symbolic and stand for something else. The current emphasis on "changing your image" merely recognizes the power of perception, but it also implies that there is nothing to know.

Knowing is not open to interpretation.

It is possible to "interpret" meaning, but this is always open to error because it refers to the perception of meaning. Such wholly needless complexities are the result of man's attempt to regard himself as both separated and unseparated at the same time. It is impossible to undertake a confusion as fundamental as this without engaging in further confusion.

Methodologically, man's mind has been very creative but, as always occurs when method and content are separated, it has not been utilized for anything but an attempt to escape a fundamental and entirely inescapable impasse. This kind of thinking cannot result in a creative outcome, although it has resulted in considerable ingenuity. It is noteworthy, however, that this ingenuity has almost totally divorced him from knowledge. Knowledge does not require ingenuity.

When we say, “the truth shall set you free,” John 8:32 we mean that all this kind of thinking is a waste of time, but that you are free of the need to engage in it if you are willing to let it go.

Prayer is a way of asking for something. Prayer is the medium of miracles, but the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness because those who have been forgiven have everything. Once forgiveness has been accepted, prayer in the usual sense becomes utterly meaningless. Essentially, a prayer for forgiveness is nothing more than a request that we may be able to recognize something we already have.

In electing to perceive instead of to know, man placed himself in a position where he could resemble his Father only by miraculously perceiving.

He has lost the knowledge that he himself is a miracle. Miraculous creation was his Source and also his real function.

“God created man in his Own image and likeness” Genesis 5:1 is correct in meaning, but the words are open to considerable misinterpretation.

This is avoided, however, if "image" is understood to mean "thought" and "likeness" is taken as "of a like quality." God did create the Soul in His own Thought and of a quality like to His own. There is nothing else. Perception, on the other hand, is impossible without a belief in "more" and "less." Perception at every level involves selectivity and is incapable of organization without it. In all types of perception, there is a continual process of ...

  • accepting and rejecting, or
  • organizing and reorganizing, of
  • shifting and changing focus.

Evaluation is an essential part of perception because judgments must be made for selection.

What happens to perceptions if there are no judgments and there is nothing but perfect equality? Perception becomes impossible. Truth can only be known. All of it is equally true, and knowing any part of it is to know all of it. Only perception involves partial awareness. Knowledge transcends all the laws which govern perception because partial knowledge is impossible. It is all one and has no separate parts. You who are really one with it need but know yourself, and your knowledge is complete. To know God's miracle is to know Him.

Forgiveness is the healing of the perception of separation.

Correct perception of each other is necessary, because minds have willed to see themselves as separate. Each Soul knows God completely. That is the miraculous power of the Soul. The fact that each One has this power completely is a fact that is entirely alien to human thinking, in which if anyone has everything, there is nothing left. God’s Miracles are as total as His Thoughts because they are are His Thoughts.

As long as perception lasts prayer has a place. Since perception rests on lack, those who perceive have not totally accepted the Atonement and given themselves over to truth. Perception is a separated state, and a perceiver does need healing. Communion, not prayer, is the natural state of those who know. God and His Miracles are inseparable. How beautiful indeed are the Thoughts of God Who live in His Light! Your worth is beyond perception because it is beyond doubt. Do not perceive yourself in different lights. Know yourself in the One Light where the miracle that is you is perfectly clear.

 
 

A Course in Miracles

Chapter 3 - Retraining the Mind

Judgment and the Authority Problem

We have already discussed the Last Judgment in some though insufficient detail. After the Last Judgment there will be no more. This is symbolic only in the sense that everyone is much better off without judgment.

When the Bible says,“Judge not that ye be not judged” Matthew 7:1 it merely means that if you judge the reality of others at all, you will be unable to avoid judging your own.

The choice to judge rather than to know was the cause of the loss of peace. Judgment is the process on which perception, but not cognition (knowledge/recogition), rests. We have discussed this before in terms of the selectivity of perception, pointing out that evaluation is its obvious prerequisite.

Judgment always involves rejection.

It is not an ability which emphasizes only the positive aspects of what is judged, whether it be in or out of the self. However, what has been perceived and rejected—or judged and found wanting—remains in the unconscious because it has been perceived. One of the illusions from which man suffers is the belief that what he judged against has no effect. This cannot be true unless he also believes that what he judged against does not exist. He evidently does not believe this, or he would not have judged against it. It does not matter in the end whether you judge right or wrong. Either way, you are placing your belief in the unreal. This cannot be avoided in any type of judgment because it implies the belief that reality is yours to choose from.

You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourselves and your brothers totally without judgment.

When you recognize what you and your brothers are, you will realize that judging them in any way is without meaning. In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely because you are judging them. All uncertainty comes from a totally fallacious belief that you are under the coercion of judgment. You do not need judgment to organize your life, and you certainly do not need it to organize yourselves. In the presence of knowledge, all judgment is automatically suspended, and this is the process which enables recognition to replace perception.

Man is very fearful of everything he has perceived but has refused to accept. He believes that, because he has refused to accept it, he has lost control over it. This is why he sees it in nightmares or in pleasant disguises in what seem to be his happier dreams. Nothing that you have refused to accept can be brought into awareness. It does not follow that it is dangerous, but it does follow that you have made it dangerous.

When you feel tired, it is merely because you have judged yourself as capable of being tired.

When you laugh at someone, it is because you have judged him as debased.

When you laugh at yourself, you are singularly likely to laugh at others, if only because you cannot tolerate the idea of being more debased than they are.

All of this does make you feel tired because it is essentially disheartening. You are not really capable of being tired, but you are very capable of wearying yourselves. The strain of constant judgment is virtually intolerable. It is a curious thing that any ability which is so debilitating should be so deeply cherished.

Yet, if you wish to be the author of reality, which is totally impossible anyway, you will insist on holding onto judgment.

You will also use the term with considerable fear, believing that judgment will someday be used against you. To whatever extent it is used against you, it is due only to your belief in its efficacy as a weapon of defense for your own authority. The issue of authority is really a question of authorship. When an individual has an "authority problem," it is always because he believes he is the author of himself, projects his delusion onto others, and then perceives the situation as one in which people are literally fighting him for his authorship. This is the fundamental error of all those who believe they have usurped the power of God.

The belief is very frightening to them but hardly troubles God. He is, however, eager to undo it, not to punish His Children, but only because He knows that it makes them unhappy. Souls were given their true Authorship, but men preferred to be anonymous when they chose to separate themselves from their Author. The word "authority" has been one of their most fearful symbols ever since. Authority has been used for great cruelty because, being uncertain of their true Authorship, men believe that their creation was anonymous. This has left them in a position where it sounds meaningful to consider the possibility that they must have created themselves.

The dispute over authorship has left such uncertainty in the minds of men that some have even doubted whether they really exist at all. Despite the apparent contradiction in this position, it is in one sense more tenable than the view that they created themselves. At least it acknowledges the fact that some true authorship is necessary for existence.

Only those who give over all desire to reject can know that their own rejection is impossible.

You have not usurped the power of God, but you have lost it. Fortunately, when you lose something, it does not mean that the "something" has gone. It merely means that you do not know where it is. Existence does not depend on your ability to identify it nor even to place it. It is perfectly possible to look on reality without judgment and merely know that it is there.

Peace is a natural heritage of the Soul.

Everyone is free to refuse to accept his inheritance, but he is not free to establish what his inheritance is. The problem which everyone must decide is the fundamental question of authorship. All fear comes ultimately and sometimes by way of very devious routes from the denial of Authorship. The offense is never to God, but only to those who deny Him. To deny His Authorship is to deny themselves the reason for their own peace, so that they see themselves only in pieces. This strange perception is the authority problem.

There is no man who does not feel that he is imprisoned in some way.

If this is the result of his own free will, he must regard his will as if it were not free, or the obviously circular reasoning involved in his position would be quite apparent. Free will must lead to freedom. Judgment always imprisons because it separates segments of reality according to the highly unstable scales of desire. Wishes are not facts by definition. To wish is to imply that willing is not sufficient. Yet no one believes that what is wished is as real as what is willed.

Instead of “Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven” Matthew 6:33 say, “Will ye first the Kingdom of Heaven,” and you have said, "I know what I am, and I will to accept my own inheritance.”
 

 

 
 

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