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Beyond the Subject / Object Split

Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited to bring clarification to certain points of the dialogue and for easier readability. For this reason, it does not match the corresponding audio mp3 word-for-word. However, the overall content and the expressed ideas remain unchanged.

David: We're going to start today and go through The Dreamer of the Dream section.

“Suffering is an emphasis upon all that the world has done to injure you. Here is the world's demented version of salvation clearly shown. Like to a dream of punishment, in which the dreamer is unconscious of what brought on the attack against himself, he sees himself attacked unjustly and by something not himself.” (T-27.VII.1)

I think that last sentence really gets at the two central ideas: “attacked unjustly,” that's the old thing about It's not fair; and “by something not himself.” That's where the subject/object split comes in. That “something not himself” could be another person other than himself that he identifies as a person; it could be a dog. Someone could perceive themselves as attacked by a hurricane or tornado, but it is something that is not himself. You can tell that beneath all of those things, which seem to be quite varied in form; there's still the subject/object split. There's something that's doing the attacking, and there's something that is being attacked. Again, if we took that a little deeper it would be the body identification or the personhood which is the subject, or it could be the strange variation which may be summarized by the statement, I keep beating myself up over this. Where it's the body and the person that seems to do things to themselves, but this is not the real self, of course; it's just an image. They talk about self-inflicted wounds or drawing pain to myself, or attracting pain in some form, and that's still broken up as if the self is an image in linear time. Somehow you can think of times when you've done things to harm yourself or whatever or even seem to be doing something. It would seem that somebody who had a knife who inflicted a wound on the arm would be causing a self-inflicted wound, but that still isn't Self; that’s the image. That's just the past, another image just like an image of an intruder coming into a house, so to speak, and inflicting a wound which seems to be different than a self-inflicted wound, but in both cases, bodies can seem to harm other bodies, and bodies can even seem to harm themselves, but all of them are projections. All of them are images in that sense.

Friend: Are you saying that it’s always a case of always a person involved and there's always this something else, and the conflict seems to be between the person and something else? I'm trying to translate this over to when you project onto the person that you identify with, and then it's the person you identify with in conflict with what?

Friend: So the person you identify with becomes both the subject and the object is what you're saying. You can even make what seems to be one thing both the subject and the object.

David: Yes. When you say self-inflicted wound it's as if one is actually inflicting harm or injury or attacking one's self. And, the basic premise of the Course is that Mind can not attack. That's why mind is innocent, because mind cannot attack. The wrong mind is part of this construction in which it believes that it has left its abstract reality and has taken on form, and bodies can seem to attack; so the illusion of attack seems to occur in form.

Friend: And there's a sense of that in expressions like: I'm warring with myself, or I'm fighting against myself, or other commonly-held notions we have which allude to having two parts of me which seem to be in conflict.

Friend: Even the expression: Part of me knows, or part of me feels allude to parts that are not always congruent or don't agree.

David: That way, whether it's a self-inflicted wound in terms of physical or whether I'm having a war in my mind right now, all of them are just statements of the wrong mind. What mind is warring with itself? You even have to be careful when you talk about warring and different parts; again, the right mind and the wrong mind are not at war, because the right mind does not respond. The wrong mind you could say attacks, or even better–is just a belief system of attack. It’s not like it's an entity; it's the illusion of attack. And the images that always seem to be at war are always different segments or aspects of an illusion. For example a runner says I'm not really competing with someone else, I'm competing with myself. Then it's really just two images. It's like the mind is holding off maybe an ideal time for running the mile, or maybe it's an ideal time that was run in the past. So it's a past image of a time that was run in the past, and now it believes that it is a separate image from that, and it's going to try to run and beat that time. So whenever we're talking about competition with one's self or attacking one's self or whatever, there are images that are involved in that.

Friend: So where are the images involved when someone inflicts a wound on one's self?

Friend: They seem to be the one doing it and the one receiving it; the one attacking and the one being attacked.

David: The arm holding the knife, you could say, and the arm that's getting it.

Friend: What I hear you saying is that it's just a demonstration of the duality which is the wrong mind. It doesn't take two of anything, not two bodies, not an attacker and a person being attacked, or a victim and a victimizer. It’s the duality in the mind, not even the physical duality of a subject and object.

David: It's projected out that way, even if you said self-inflected wound, there would be the hand that was holding the knife and the arm that was getting the wound. In that example you can still see the duality perceived in the world, even in that example. You could say there's just one person, one body; but wait a minute, there's one holding the knife and one receiving the blow so to speak. So when you were saying it's in the mind, the whole key is that the deceived mind doesn't want to see that it's holding onto a false belief system, so it projects the split out into the world, and it does see duality. You could say, plain duality; that is cleaving what is one into all these parts. That's where all these extremes that we've talked about come in; hot/cold, fast/slow, male/female, high/low, on and on and on. All the seeming extremes: right arm/left arm, right arm with knife/left arm without knife; you could break it up any way you want. The key is to start to see that there isn't any duality in the world. The world is just a screen. It comes back to our borderland discussion where the key thing is to learn what is the same and what is different. What is the same? All the images; everything on the screen is the same. What is different? The right mind and the wrong mind, two different purposes in mind. They are different; they are not alike at all. One is the reflection of reality, and the other one is non-existent. That's different! They are different in every way. So what we keep coming back to all the time, is just a clear, clear understanding of what is the same and what is different. You can tell that all of the seeming upsets that have come up over the last several weeks or years or whatever have always been an ambiguity about that distinction. You have to believe that specifics are different for them to be important; whether there's this many cookies in the cookie jar or not; whether the rug is this clean or not. You could go on and on and on. All the seeming difficulties that come up have the underlining assumption that there are aspects of this world that are different from other aspects, and that some can be better than others.

Then there's causation! It's as simple as the little thing you were just sharing about the newsletter, that the excerpts from the dialogue could whet the appetite for the pamphlet. You can see that causation is in there even in subtle ways. The whole point of all of this is to come to the awareness that images are images are images, that illusions are one, that there isn't any causation in the world. Talk about rest! What would you need to do? What conflict could you feel if you realized that there was no duality in the world, there wasn't hierarchy of images? Miracles would be universal. There would be no order of difficulty in miracles. You would have on your hands the last miracle and the first, the Atonement! The whole discussion of miracles is kind of like taking this idea of the Atonement as if it's strung out (the mind believes in linear time) as if it's a on a string of beads; as if the first bead was the same as the last bead and that all the beads in between were somehow helping to collapse the string so that the first bead and the last bead could come together and be seen as one and the same. The first miracle and the last miracle are one and the same, the Atonement. And the only reason that this is A Course in Miracles and is being described as becoming more miracle-minded and thinking habitually in miracle-mindedness and right-mindedness is because the mind believes in linear time. So that's a metaphor. A miracle is a metaphor of all those beads in-between.

With holy encounters it's the same way. It's described as if “Whenever you meet anybody, remember it is a holy encounter.” (T-8.III.4) Do you see the body components described in that metaphor? Meeting anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. “As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself.” (T-8.III.4) When we travel to some of these places out West, you'll start to see that they're starting to come to the idea that there's only one miracle, that's the Atonement; there's only one holy encounter, there's only one holy instant. It's transcending the metaphors and coming to that state of mind that sees all that was just like stepping stones. There's only one holy relationship! It's not described that way in A Course in Miracles a lot of times because it's described in here as different rungs: “You and your partner,” “Two minds with one intent become so strong that what they will becomes the Will of God.” It goes on and on; but when we shift it into the context of one mind, one solution—the Atonement, one instant when it can be received—NOW, everything has to collapse into that instant. That's what immediate salvation is about. “Cause and effect are one.”; “Ideas leave not their source.”; “Time is simultaneous.” There are many different ways of saying the same thing.

I’d like to go back to that sentence,

“Like to a dream of punishment, in which the dreamer is unconscious of what brought on the attack against himself, he sees himself attacked unjustly and by something not himself. He is the victim of this ‘something else,’ a thing outside himself, for which he has no reason to be held responsible. He must be innocent because he knows not what he does, but what is done to him. Yet is his own attack upon himself apparent still, for it is he who bears the suffering. And he cannot escape because its source is seen outside himself.” (T-27.VII.1)

In one sense you could say the old thing about blaming, or What could I do? or that whole thought reversal of The world is the cause of my suffering. You could say that that would be one major version of it. And then the other one would be when the mind gets into this thing about The ego made me do it, it’s even now pulling away from the world. Now it’s saying, There’s this thought system in my mind—the ego, and it’s too strong. It’s powerful. It’s dictating. It’s dictating all my decisions, all my actions. It isn’t as if the ego is an entity that is as well outside my mind. I may have made it (The Course says I made this thing up), but I seem to be ruled by it, and it seems to be the dictator of what I think and say and do. That needs to be questioned as well, because where is the escape in The devil made me do it? Where is the peace that can come? He says at one point, “Do not project this fear to time, for time is not the enemy that you perceive.” (T-26.VIII.3) You don’t project the ego to anything or anybody else, and don’t project it to time. Don’t even say that I’m in chains and that at some point in the future I’ll be released from these chains. Even that, which could be thought of as a helpful stepping stone (to think that at least there will be some future release) has to be questioned as well, because you’re still projecting responsibility for the ego to time. You’re projecting responsibility for the ego to the future. Time heals all wounds. In time I will reach Enlightenment.

Friend: You’re saying that it’s actually a denial of the decision for the Atonement.

David: Yes. Everything we do, so to speak, everything is always a present decision. The only place that the ego could ever be found would always be a present decision. If you project it to time it’s like trying to hide it away in linear time. Linear time is a construction of the ego that’s being held onto now, and it has to be let go of now. It’s a metaphor to say that decision of the ego is now in the sense that the deceived mind doesn’t know what now is.

Friend: The decision for the ego is past, not now.

David: It’s the belief that it’s still present. It’s the belief that the past is still present which is another way of saying the mind doesn’t know what the present is. That’s where the I do not know comes in. That’s where the every day being open to be shown—to be shown the present—to be willing—to desire the holy instant above all else. That’s the focus, that’s the intention of what we do. So you can see there are a lot of metaphors in there even when we say in the Instrument for Peace that peace and upset are both present decisions, we’re still operating from the same metaphor that there’s a right mind and there’s a wrong mind, and that the mind can vacillate and choose one or the other every instant. You’ve got to come to the point where you see that that’s a metaphor. You can not hang with that.

Now once again, we’re coming to the point to say even to begin to start to grasp it is not to grasp it, because as long as there’s any level confusion, then the mind has not grasped it. How could the mind have level confusion: it’s still not clear—right mind, wrong mind, if in discussions there are shreds and bits of backward thinking or level confusion. So the people you meet may not laugh at that point when you start to say Well, I too am starting to understand that the right mind and the wrong mind is a metaphor or construction. However, that my teacher has been going with me over and over and from all different angles, coming to really raise up all level confusion into awareness; because what good does it do to say the phrase, the truth is all that there is if there are still aspects of level confusion that haven’t been exposed? What do you have?

Friend: Denial.

David: That’s what you have. That’s why it’s just imperative that we are very thorough and that we look at everything. You certainly don’t have the experience of truth is all that there is if there’s still level confusion in the mind. If you’re hanging onto aspects of personhood or aspects of things that you still feel you need to do—that you have to do that are obligations, duties, or requirements in this world, you’re still seeing causation on the screen. That’s level confusion. The mind is causative. The screen is not. There are no aspects to the screen, and there is no causation on the screen. As we’ve gone into discussions with people as we’ve traveled around we’ve gone into diet and exercise. At other times people have talked about yogic postures, announced the time to sit in the silence, the body and how often it is to be bathed, ideal community settings, ideal environment, energy spots, vortexes—backwards, backwards, backwards! All of it is backwards! When you sit down and go in with people about these areas, words can be spoken: Truth is all there is, Truth is true, and only Truth is true (that’s a common catch-word phrase). It sounds great, but then when you get into what seems to be daily life and living and so forth, there are inconsistencies or teachings being taught about how often you have to bathe or not bathe to be enlightened, or the foods you are to eat or not eat, or the amount of exercise, or the types of movement of the body or the positions or the times of meditation and all that. Wait a minute! Which is it? That denies that the Truth is true and only the Truth is true.

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