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Correcting Perception Part 2
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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.
Speaker: As we go through some of the early lessons, we can talk about them and if you have any questions please bring them up because these are the basis of the whole thought reversal that Jesus is trying to help the mind come about. A lot of times, the early lessons don’t make a lot of sense to people so they quickly get back to the book to some that they can use for affirmations like, “I am as God created me,” thinking “I haven’t a clue what he’s talking about in those early lessons, but I like the way this one sounds.” But, these early Lessons are like bringing oneself to true humility. Or, to a sense of humbleness—that I am like a little child who’s not seeing clearly at all and I need to recognize that before I’m willing to learn to see a different way. If I think I already know and I’m seeing okay as it is, then I’m not going to be open to have someone to teach me how to see differently.
If you look at it like, “Okay, I’m conditioned by my past,” like with the “Eddie Murphy Raw” example, everyone is seeing something based on their past. We’ve learned the idea that where this conditioning comes from is that we’ve been taught it. You might have heard the old story that an infant comes in like a blank slate, pure and innocent and everything and then starts learning from the word go about things. Touch something that’s hot and “ouch” or learning from experience, learning from their parents, learning from their siblings, from their peers at school, from advertising, et cetera. The Course goes one step beyond that because, once again, if that is the case, we’re back to victimization. We’re a pawn of these external things. It’s kind of like, “You had great parents growing up; no wonder you feel so great. Look at me.” There is always another excuse, for “your conditioning was better than my conditioning” and so “therefore, I’ve got a better or worse problem than you.” Ultimately, the underlying content idea is that I’m a victim of my environment.
What the Course is saying is that those beliefs—the conditioning—actually begins in the mind and that, literally, the things that seem to happen to us as persons in the world are just witnesses that are called forth by the mind from those beliefs. So, if I believe I’m guilty I will call forth witnesses on the screen that say “you’re guilty” and I’ll say “I knew it!” That reinforces it—you’re guilty. And it’s kind of a scam because until you can see that the problem is in the mind—that the problem has everything to do with my thoughts and my beliefs and nothing to do with these events that I thought happened to me—then there is no escape from it. It just continues to reinforce.
Participant: And we all have the guilt, including somebody that looks like a baby. They do too because they brought that mind with them when they came in. I know I was fooled by that, you know, by this “little” body. Well, disregard the little body. They’re a mind, just like my mind. The baby’s mind hasn’t learned all the learning that’s taken place in the world’s eyes, but it still has that mind, it still has that core of guilt that it’s projecting out in its world. It’s calling forth witnesses.
Speaker: It’s also the thing you were saying about bringing the mind in. You might need to grab a metaphor that you can use because, sometimes, if you think a soul comes in or a mind comes in, then you get back to the questions of “where does the soul go ... or the mind go?” Jesus describes the Mind as this vast powerful thing that just is. It’s not contained in anything. The Mind of God and the Mind of Christ are infinite. It may be another helpful metaphor to think of this mind as like watching TV and changing the channels. It just keeps changing the channels, looking at the channels and trying to find more witnesses to guilt. And, the mind will sit there and continue to change the channels until finally it gives up the guilt and then there is no need for the TV screen anymore. There is no need to continue to change the channels, in that sense. We use a lot of metaphors and Jesus describes it in here as if there are individual minds. The Course contains statements like, “You have a mind and every one of your brothers has a mind.” I just want to mention at this point that, that’s a metaphor as well, because He knows that when the mind is deceived it believes in bodies, and it’s a pretty big stretch to even start to talk about this thing called mind and thoughts, because who’s seen a mind? Who’s seen a thought? So, he gives that as a metaphor. But, in the ultimate sense, there is only One Mind and that’s where we get back to “Everything is a projection out of my own mind,” because if you get back to those passages at the very end of the Teachers Manual where they pose the question to Jesus, “How many teachers of God does it take to save the world—one thousand, two thousand, three million?” “One teacher to save the world.” How could that even begin to make any sense unless there was just one mind that is messed up and it’s mine! It’s my perceptual problem and when I accept His Answer then the world is saved. That goes against our thinking of it’s going to take trillions of years
Participant: And a hundred monkey theories.
Speaker: Yes, a hundred monkey theories. It’s going to take lots of teachers and it may take a millennium but basically it brings us back to the idea that there’s a hallucination going on here. This is it and I can learn another way of perceiving the world and that way is by putting an end to the hallucination. That’s a big leap. I mean we’re talking an idea that your mind could already be starting to flip flop and go, “Huh? It can’t be!” But this is where Jesus is leading us. It is a perceptual problem.
If we go to Lesson 1—talk about really taking the underpinnings out and making you see things right away. And as you go into Lesson 1, it’s helpful to either read or reread the introduction. It says, “Some of these ideas that the workbook presents you may find hard to believe and others you might find to be quite startling. This does not matter. You are merely asked to apply the ideas as you are directed to do. You are not asked to judge them at all. You are asked only to use them. It is their use that will give them meaning to you and will show you that they are true.” Isn’t that wonderful? This isn’t some “high falutin’,” theoretical Course in Miracles. He’s given us practical tools just like a practical tool in the kitchen: a practical tool to use to carry these ideas wherever you are, whatever you seem to be doing. The very first one is “Nothing I see in this room, from this street, from this window, in this place means anything.” To the ego that is a ludicrous idea: “That’s all I know is meaning in this world.” “That’s what all my education has been about, in the home and through society and through books and everything else. I’ve been taught what things mean: ball, chair, table, transportation system, computer lingo.” It seems to get more complicated. But, basically that’s just meaning. Just take the idea and try to apply it indiscriminately. You can see this is one of those undoing kind of things—thinking that I know what everything means; I know what I’m seeing.
Also, I want you to notice in these lessons, as we go through, that some of the lessons are directly related to perception. In other words he’ll say “Nothing I see…” He’s talking about literally perceiving the table, the chair, the hand, and the foot. A lot of the ideas are going to be related to thinking. You’ll see a “seeing idea,” oh, a “thinking idea”—a couple of seeing ideas and we’ll go to a thinking idea—and the purpose of this is to try to convey a sense that they’re very much connected; that in the deceived state it seems like there is an objective world out there and I’ve got a private mind and what I’m thinking doesn’t necessarily have any influence on what’s going on in the world. What my friend is thinking or what Bill Clinton is thinking or, more than that, not so much what other people are thinking but there’s a connection—that if I think happy thoughts, the world will suddenly be a happy place. He’s trying to train us that they’re intimately connected instead of being separate. So, the second lesson is just the basis for what we’ve been talking about. “I have given everything I see, from this window, in this place all the meaning that it has for me.” In that sense, it demonstrates the basic perceptual laws that we’ve just been talking about: that when you see things on the screen—when you have an opinion about something or a conclusion, “This is what it means to me. I don’t know what it means to you”—that that thought is still projecting out and giving meaning to the images. The mind is assigning meaning to the images. For example, “It’s a cool day.” I’ve decided it’s a cool day. It seems to me that if I find three hundred people or more that agree with me as I stop them on the street every day: “It’s a cool day.” “It is a cool day.” “It’s a cool day.” Well, it’s like mass hypnosis. It seems like there’s an objective world out there and there are three hundred witnesses that will say, “It’s a cool day.” I have given everything I see all the meaning that it has for me. Cool is an idea in my mind. There is no intrinsic; there is no cool in and of itself. We think we have barometers; we can measure it and make it more objective. Cool is still in my mind or it’s like Donna’s little boy Matthew, his perception. One time I was here visiting and it was like late May or early June.
Participant: Two weeks after the ice was off the bay.
Speaker: Two weeks after the ice was off the bay and we went down for a walk by the bay and he went down and took his shirt off and popped in and he kept popping up and looking at me and saying, “Come on David get in here!” I’m looking at him. I’m looking at the water and he says, “Come on; get in here!” I said, “How’s the water?” He says, “It’s great!” And this went on for like five minutes. But, it’s like I’ve given everything I see all the meaning. I don’t know if you’ve heard, when I taught psychology I showed this film of an eastern yogi over in India somewhere and they brought him over to study him in the western world and so they’ve got this yogi and it’s on film and everything. He’s got this g-string on and they put him in this ice tank and they lowered it down to below zero and they leave him in there for hours and he’s sitting in there just smiling away as content as possible. It was a good witness for this kind of mind over matter thing. “Cold is not in the mind?” You can refrain from judging. That’s that world of duality again: hot/cold, fast/slow—all that stuff we were talking about. These are not ideas of God. These are made up fictitious ideas and, as we start to withdraw our minds from them, then nothing is witness for them. It’s that mind over matter thing again and the way to give them up is to quit judging; quit believing them.
So, the third lesson is kind of like the first in some ways, “I do not understand anything that I see from this room, from this street, from this window, in this place.” It’s another one of those that are very humbling. Just for the first time, start to consider that I don’t know what anything is for. You start to let it loosen things up. Of course, it’s interesting, too, because it says to go around and look at different things without discrimination. It’s interesting to notice your reactions, like if you have a favorite painting. You’re doing, “Nothing I see means anything.” You’re going around and your beloved cat comes into sight and you say, “Nothing I see means anything; my cat does not mean anything!” Just to notice if you have reactions. You’re looking at your husband: “Nothing I see means anything.” There was a story Ken Wapnick told about early years with the Course, working with a group of nuns or sisters and he said, “We were working on Lesson 1 and we were in a chapel and we were going around the chapel—the pews, the windows and everything—and they said, “Of course when we come to the blood of the sacrament we skip that.” The whole thing was: there are certain things in our minds that are more valuable than others or seem to be more sacred than others. That’s where Jesus says your mind is going to want to make some exceptions; but, just try to be as indiscriminate as possible and keep going ahead and just notice if you have those feelings.
Then we get into Lesson 4. Here we go. Now we’re getting into thought. The others had to do with our twisted perceptions, our seeing. Now he comes in with, “These thoughts do not mean anything. They are like the things I see in this room, on this street, from this window, in this place.” This is the first thought lesson. He even starts it out, “Unlike the preceding ones, these exercises do not begin with the idea of the day.” He does a little mind watching exercise. He says before you just repeat this idea, I want you to just watch some of the thoughts that go by—some of the trains that run by—watch a few trains go by and then apply this idea to them, “These thoughts mean nothing.” Now that can also seem a bit like, “Boy, what am I stupid?” or “What am I really crazy? Here I’ve got my thoughts, not only about the things I see in this room or whatever, but now I’m saying it about the thoughts that are going on, that they don’t mean anything.” It can seem almost….what is the word I’m looking for here? It can seem almost condescending through the ego’s lens.
Speaker: Insulting is the word I’m looking for. Through the ego’s lens, these words can seem really insulting. “They are my thoughts.” “Now you’re hitting pretty close to home here.” “These are the thoughts that I think all the time and the lesson is they do not mean anything.” Then He gets to Lessons 5, 6 and 7. These are great. Now we’re really starting to get at the heart of it. Because you can apply these and just put them in your mind and think of them and memorize them because they start dealing with upsets. Jesus means any upsets. It could be anything. You could be slightly annoyed. You could be enraged. You could be feeling hungry. That’s upsetting sometimes. It could be anything that’s slightly upsetting and here comes the idea, “I am never upset for the reason I think.” He’s starting to take a look at those backwards thoughts. Because whenever we get angry—if you really start to look at the thoughts—it’s always because of something in the world. It always has something to do with form: something somebody did; something somebody failed to do; some weather condition—some condition in the world. The next Lesson comes in with, “I am upset because I see something that is not there.”
Participant: Insult upon insult…
Speaker: First, I’m never upset for the reason I think. That’s kind of like “what is this?” “Now, he’s not only telling me that I’m never upset for the reason I think but he’s going ahead and telling me the reason I’m upset. I’m upset because I see something that’s not there.” It’s a hallucination. It’s kind of like if you’re constantly looking at a hallucination and your natural state of Mind is Heaven, pure Bliss, pure abstract Oneness, Light, Communion, whatever you want to call it. You’re looking at a hallucination. That is the reason I am upset. I am upset because I see something that is not there. But, still that can be like, “Ok that’s an idea, but there is a lot that’s still missing. I need to be filled in on more.”
So, he comes in with Lesson 7: “I see only the past.” This is where we were trying to get into what these beliefs were saying about these past thoughts, past beliefs—that I’m upset because I see something that’s not there. He follows with, “I see only the past.” Well, obviously, if you put them together the past is not there, but I still see it. Boy, that’s sounds like a Doug Henning magic trick or something, you know, a big magic trick, a big kind of a joke. In some sense it’s kind of a joke; but it’s confusing because I see something that, literally, is past tense. Now, I don’t know about you but when I first looked at this lesson and what it was saying, I thought, “I know what the past is. The past is what happened a few minutes ago, a few hours ago, Napoleon, Caesar, Jesus Christ 2000 years ago and B.C. and all this.” History is the past but it’s not like we’re accustomed to looking around the room and seeing a group of bodies and thinking, “Ah, look at the past.” Like we’re looking at an antique or something; there is kind of a sense of, “well we’re here now. We’re all here now.” All these bodies are sitting around this room right now and Jesus is saying, “No, you see only the past. You’re looking at the screen. You’re looking at the projection—the projection and all the big bang that happened in an unholy instant.” The Holy Instant doesn’t have anything to do with the projection. The Holy Instant is the remembrance of who you are.
Remember that thing I mentioned that… snap, snap [snaps fingers twice] even though it was answered that quick and the mind ran into form. The mind is still calling forth and believes that the past is still present. This is a real time idea. This can seem like a huge step so the first part of the lesson is basically saying the reason that the first six lessons are true is because of this lesson. Here’s the reason why nothing you see means anything. So, you know that this must be a really basic lesson. He’s given six profound lessons and he’s saying the reason that the first six are true is because of Lesson 7; that now we’re getting to the core of the perceptual problem: I’m just seeing the past everywhere I look. I’m seeing the past in this pencil, in this shoe, in this hand, in that body, in that face, in that sunset, in that shooting that I saw on the news, in that rape. I see the past in, literally, everything that I see.
Participant: David, what is now?
Speaker: That is what we will come to. When you follow the Course and you take His lessons and everything, that’s the experience that gets uncovered.
Participant: Is now. But this is the past and to me it is now, but it’s not.
Speaker: Right, so right away it’s starting to open your mind a bit. Hum, this seems like now. We could maybe get into talking about time at some point, about time being continuous linear; past, present, future. Basically, time was just this thing that was made up. And, so the Holy Spirit has a purpose for time and the ego has a purpose for time and the ego’s purpose for time is, “look at yourself, you’ve messed up in the past and done it over and over and over. You know that you’re going to keep doing this. There is no escape. You’re just going to be the same guilty person that you’ve always been.” And that’s basically the ego’s use of time: to convince us, using time and events, that that’s the case. Of course, you’ll notice, that in that use of time he’s skipped right over the present. The ego didn’t even mention it—its just “you’ve been guilty in the past and you will be guilty in the future.” The Holy Spirit emphasizes the present.
Participant #1: I was just going to say a helpful metaphor for me to understand that is to think of that like a movie. When I’m in a theater watching a movie, it seems like it’s happening now but it was made months ago or years ago or whenever. The whole thing was written. It was already complete. The beginning and the ending were already there. But, when I’m looking at it, it looks like I’m in the middle of the movie right now, even though the rest of the movie is still there. I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s still there. I’m looking at the past even though it feels like I’m seeing it right now and I’m caught up in the movie.
Participant #2: That makes perfect sense.
Participant #3: But is your movie and their movie the same?
Speaker: Well, the movie is the movie. In other words, it seems as if we all have individual variations of the movie—that no two people see anything exactly alike—and that’s why there is conflict: because we can’t agree. We may agree on some things but, there can never be harmony in that framework unless there is a way of seeing that’s common; that’s available; that’s in your mind; that’s in my mind. It’s the Holy Spirit’s way of looking at the world in which the disharmony, in which the conflict ends. But, as soon as you break into this situation where everybody has a different view and so forth, then you’re back into the metaphor and the collective. You can get into a lot of questions. But, it’s simple if you think of it in this way: “Ok it’s my lesson. Jesus is telling me that the world is a screen and it’s past.” As soon as you get into comparing with somebody else, then it’s like you’ve already bought the ego’s bait and you’re going to run with it. It really helps to keep bringing it back to the screen is the screen. If I still have guilt in my mind then I’ll call it forth on the screen. So I want to get to the guilt in my own mind—the belief in my own mind.
Participant #1: So, it seems that we each are looking at our own movie. That’s how it seems. But, what David is saying is that, it seems that way because we bought into this thing that we’re not One; that you’re somebody else; that you stop there and I start here. And the Course is saying, “No, that’s part of the hallucination.”
Participant #2: Having everybody have a different movie is part of the movie that I’m watching.
Participant #1: Right, that’s part of your hallucination and my hallucination.
Speaker: The ego would actually have us believe that. And, there’s a thing called the laws of chaos in here. And, one of the laws of chaos is that truth is different for everyone. That’s a pretty common thing even when you think about old wives’ tales or sayings, “Well, you can believe what you believe. I believe what I believe.” And basically the truth is not different for everyone. There is only one Truth but it’s an experience. The ego would have us believe that the truth is different for everyone because if that’s true, then everybody must sin and there are all kinds of related laws that go into that—that the truth is different for everyone. The Truth is One. It’s pretty deep stuff. Even with this lesson, Jesus unloads this tanker of an idea and then he tells us it’s important because the first six lessons are true because of it. But, then he starts to get really practical which is always good at the bottom of the ladder. It’s kind of like your head starts to spin a bit. “I see only the past. Whoa.”
Participant: The thing that’s been helpful for me is to just stay with it because as soon as I start getting confused—and “Oh man, this is just too much; I’ve got to go do something else and not think about it”—because it does feel that way sometimes. But it’s like: “That’s ok stay with it. Stay with it and, if you have to go away for awhile and come back to it later, that’s fine too.” But just keep going with it and that confusion that is all from the ego anyway starts to kind of recede.
Speaker: Recede, that’s a good word. It’s not a fighting. It’s not like I’m going to do spiritual battle with ego and I’ve got my tools—I’ve got my sword here. Because the ego likes conflict, if you fight yourself and really go at it tenaciously and confront the ego, it’s really feeding the ego and not seeing what’s going on. But, here comes the practical stuff again. He says, “Look at a cup for example. Do you see a cup or are you merely reviewing your past experience of picking up a cup, being thirsty, drinking from a cup, feeling a rim of a cup against your lip, having breakfast and so on. Are not your aesthetic reactions to this cup based on past experiences? How else would you know whether or not this kind of cup will break if you drop it? What do you know about this cup except what you’ve learned from the past? You would have no idea what this cup is except from your past learning. Do you then really see it?” Now that’s really practical. You can follow that. But, it helps. Even though it seems pretty “high falutin’,” it’s like it comes back; it kind of zero’s it in.
As big as Lesson 7 was, here we go with Lesson 8. Here he comes back with a thought related idea. We just had a perceptual one, which is “I see only the past” and now he’s saying we’re bringing it back into the mind: “My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.” He hasn’t made an overt connection yet, but that’s coming. He’s weaving back and forth with thought ideas and this and that. Also, if you’re wondering about time—like, “wow, this time idea is so different”—He says the mind’s preoccupation with the past is the cause of the misconception about time from which you’re seeing suffers. Your mind cannot grasp the present which is the only time there is. It therefore cannot understand time and cannot, in fact, understand anything.
Participant: So that’s why he doesn’t talk about the present and “now” yet. He says there’s no way you can understand it.
Speaker: Yes, what a great tool we have because gestalt and lots of different therapies that I’ve studied in psychotherapy advocate “live in the moment.” God, we’ve heard it in so many different ways and, basically, Jesus knows that the moment is buried under all these past thoughts and all these false beliefs. What a great tool, instead of just saying “God is” or “God is Love,” and “live in the moment,” He’s giving us a really practical tool to start to look at this falsity and see it for what it is and then let it go. That really is helpful. “The one wholly true thought that one can hold about the past is that it is not there.” Now, we thought these other lessons were humbling. Now, here it gets more humbling. “To think about it at all is therefore to think about illusions. Very few have realized what is actually entailed in picturing the past or anticipating the future. The mind is actually blank when it does this because it is not really thinking about anything.” Now that’s the exact opposite of the way the deceived mind experiences because it’s like, “My mind is full of stuff.” It seems like when the blender is going or when the thoughts are just racing around in there that your mind is full. He’s saying, “No, in that state, it’s actually blank because those aren’t real thoughts and it’s like it’s full of nothing and, therefore, it’s blank.” It’s kind of a flip thing. But, he says it’s not really thinking about anything. The good news is, as we get on, we’ll see that there are real thoughts in our mind that are reflections of the Holy Spirit that are in there—that it just seems blank—but there really are thoughts that are in there that come from reflections of our Father.
We can just look briefly at Lesson 9. It’s kind of like what we were just saying about time. I don’t know what now is. “I see nothing as it is now.” Lesson 10 is another version of Lesson 4. Remember Lesson 4 was: “These thoughts do not mean anything.” Now this is a little more specific: “My thoughts do not mean anything.” He kind of kept it really general to begin with. Now, it’s like, if there’s any doubt about to whom this is directed—“These thoughts are meaningless.” “Well these thoughts you write down on paper, they don’t mean anything.” “My thoughts do not mean anything.” No dancing around in that area. It comes back right to the reader.
The first paragraph just has an idea. It says the reason this idea is applicable to all your thoughts is that they are not your real thoughts. So, it’s giving us a hint that we do have real thoughts in our mind. It’s not like we’re this void—a complete void that doesn’t think and just goes around blank all the time. There actually are real thoughts beneath these false thoughts, these unreal thoughts. Basically in that third paragraph he really starts to string some of what he’s trying to get at together in this one paragraph. He says, “This aspect of the correction process began with the idea that the thoughts of which you are aware are meaningless, outside rather than within, and then stressed their past rather then their present status. Now we are emphasizing that the presence of these thoughts means that you are not thinking. This is merely another way of repeating our earlier statement that your mind is really a blank. To recognize this is to recognize nothingness when you think you see it.” Not only do I see only the past because nothing I see means anything, but because I’ve got a bunch of meaningless thoughts in my mind that are projecting out this world. Or another way to look at it is use our projector analogy when we go to the movies. That, not only is the screen a bunch of hooey or meaningless, but the film that’s going through the projector is a bunch of hooey. And, of course, the light that is shining through the film that’s just passing by is producing the distortion. If we can come to the point where we are able to let go of the film, so to speak, or let go of the thoughts, then the screen will light up. You know, like when you come to the end of a movie, bright light, nothing repeating: the light. That is kind of a metaphor for the real world. Later on, we’ll be talking about Light episodes that literally are that same Light. That’s good to whet our appetite a bit.
We’ll probably just do four more lessons, because basically that will round out a really solid underpinning. We’ve gotten to the point now where it’s getting very humbling. It’s gotten humbler and humbler and humbler as we’ve gone through these. Basically we really do have a perceptual problem despite trying to think the opposite: that there are problems out in the world. Now in Lesson 11, he makes a direct connection like I was just making between the screen and the film: “My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.” He’s introducing the idea. He says, “Today’s idea introduces the concept that your thoughts determine the world you see.” That is a complete turn around from the idea that “these events and images determine me. These events and images have shaped who I am.”
Participant: It’s scary.
Speaker: It seems initially like we have met the enemy and it is us.
Participant #1: Yes, right.
Participant #2: I’ve got a good story. This woman was planning on going to the race track and was putting her clothes on in a motel room. She found that the elastic was shot on her bloomers so she got a pin and did her best to fix them and thought, “Well, maybe they will stay on with this pin.” And then she went to the horse race and she was standing there watching the horses line up in their little stalls. All the while she was watching, of course, she wasn’t at the race track at all. She was back at the elastic going, “Are my bloomers going to stay up? Are my bloomers going to stay up? Are my bloomers going to stay up?” All of a sudden over the loudspeaker came the voice, “They’re off!” and, of course, she fell over.
Speaker: That’s great. You get so tied up in this internal world. That’s a good one for I have given everything all the meaning it has for me. There it is. There’s a direct connection. My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world. That would be putting cause and effect in the proper sequence. Instead of events causing my state of mind, my thoughts produce everything. And, when we talk about the mind, also remember we’re talking about the mind. In other words, some people will see symptoms or sickness in the body, but remember, everything that is seen out there is still coming from the thoughts. Even the disease model—the entire medical model that taught us that you catch germs by catching them from other people and that they’re transmitted on certain conditions and so on and so forth and different diseases—AIDS, and how it’s transmitted by intravenous needles and all that—that’s all part of the backwards thinking: that, somehow, there is something out there that I have to beware of and be afraid of catching. When here it comes back to my thoughts: “My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.” It brings causation in all respects back to the thinking of the mind. This might seem like, “Wow, this is overwhelming”. “This is unbelievable.” But this idea is that, that is where the solution is. If that’s true, then I am not at the mercy of anything in the world. And, even though it may seem overwhelming, and if I continue along this route and I experience this as true, then I’m not at the mercy of anything in the world: weather, food, body conditions, disease, et cetera. You can just see that it transfers to anything and everything—anything that the world would say you have to be afraid of.
Participant: Or anyone.
Speaker: Or anyone, yes. Ok, now the next three lessons. We’re really going to take it home now. This will really anchor what’s going on because now we’ve seen the problem is perceptual and we’ve seen how it’s happening. It’s happening from these past thoughts with which I’m identified. Lesson 12 says, “I am upset because I see a meaningless world.” Basically, the key to this lesson is that it’s a meaningless world and because I see a meaningless world I’m upset. Because, a lot of times we tend to feel like we’re upset because this is a violent world and we start to give it attributes. And, basically, in the middle of the page, He says, say to yourself, “I think I see a fearful world, a dangerous world, a hostile world, a bad world, a wicked world, a crazy world.” You can see how all of those are adjectives given to this meaningless world. And He’s saying you’re not upset because the world is like that but you’re upset because you see a meaningless world. That’s what He states at the bottom of the lesson. “But, I am upset because I see a meaningless world.” That’s what’s upsetting about it. What’s upsetting is that it’s meaningless. Like with job situations sometimes, you’ll think, “This is meaningless. Why am I doing this day after day? This is meaningless.” Jesus says, “Right! You are right!”
Participant: It doesn’t matter what you do because it’s all meaningless. That’s where I get stuck.
Speaker: Yes, but also there is a neat little paragraph right after the middle where it says, “If terms which seem positive rather than negative occur to you, include them. For example, you might think of a good world or a satisfying world. If such terms occur to you, use them along with the rest. You may not understand why these nice adjectives belong in these exercises but remember that a good world implies a bad one and a satisfying world implies an unsatisfying one.” Now he slowly just slides it in that your meaningless thoughts are showing you a meaningless world, but judgment goes two ways. I used the example the other day about the sun beating down for days and days and days and a family with a truck that’s selling ice cream. Every day they are just getting up and dancing around the truck and rejoicing, another sunny day of 100 degree weather. And, about 20 or 50 miles inland there is a farming community where the farmers get up every day and they look up and they see the sun again, cursing the sun. It’s that thing we get back to again where I have given everything I see all the meaning. It doesn’t so much matter if it’s a thing you value positively or negatively—that to give up judgment doesn’t just mean to give up all the condemning and the negative stuff, but it means giving up the positive end as well. And a lot of times, that’s the thing that the mind has the most trouble with. It is convinced what is good. You can get into a discussion of ethics or morality and say, “It’s not right to sleep together before you’re married; I don’t care what people say.” You get into behaviors and codes. “This is just ‘bad’ and this is ‘good.’” “This is the wrong way to do things and this is the right way.” Jesus is saying right here that nothing in the world is intrinsically, in and of itself, good or bad, which is a pretty big leap. We were all taught that there were things that are good and there are things that were bad.
Participant: Always good, in every circumstance, intrinsically good.
Participant: I was going to say, what about the Ten Commandments?
Speaker: The Ten Commandments and so on and so forth. If you look at human consciousness—we’re starting to get into metaphysics which is the mind and thought—but until the consciousness is starting to be able to grasp what is going on in the mind, then the Ten Commandments were like guidelines or rules for living. But, most of the Ten Commandments still do have behavioral components like: “Thou shall not kill. Thou shall not commit adultery.” There are some of those that get back into perceptions and desires like, “Thou shall not covet.” They talk about, “Thou shall not covet thy neighbors wife” or “Thou shall not commit adultery” and then here comes Jesus in the New Testament and says if you have a lustful thought for a woman not your own wife, you commit adultery. Now, we’re at the thought level. He’s not down there at the behavioral level. Basically the Course is the same way. It’s saying that the thought level is where the problem is. The form level is not where the problem is. We talked about all the addictions and trying to quit smoking or trying to lose weight or trying to get over a sex addiction or something or other. Just changing the form doesn’t work because there’s another part of the mind that feels repressed; that feels like “I want that” or “I want to have that cigarette” or “I want to do this or that” and the mind is still split. You may try to go along and try to make the behaviors look like you think they should or others think they should, but if the mind wants something else, then there is still an internal conflict. And really, what He’s saying is that the conflict comes about from believing in these past thoughts. So all you have to do is let them go and the conflict will go.
Participant: How could you explain to somebody about murder? What would you say about killing somebody?
Speaker: You might say that behaviors come from thoughts. You might try to get to the idea that behaviors follow from thoughts and that if your thinking is messed up then all kinds of behaviors will just follow automatically.
Participant: But, the fact that killing someone is wrong, which is a judgment?
Speaker: And that’s like a lot of things with this Course. You start to have this mind shift and everything. Once again, it’s one of the things that’s not easy to transfer. And, people can only hear what they have the ears to hear. And the more we get into this, the more that those desires to fix people or those desires to say, “Can’t you see this?” and so forth start to fade because the purpose of the Course is as is stated in the prayer on page 24, “I am here only to be truly helpful.” We are at first saying, “I don’t know what that is but I am only here to be truly helpful and I am here only to represent He who sent me” and being open to the Holy Spirit for guidance, because there really isn’t a formula for reaching people because everyone’s levels of readiness or ears to hear is different.
Participant: Nobody is out there anyway.
Speaker: That’s a great example of, “it’s my lesson.” People have brought up things about Hitler and different things. You can trace it back but that doesn’t mean that they will have ears to hear it or be able to make the connection. So, Lesson Thirteen: We’ve just been told, “I’m upset because I see a meaningless world.” And, instead of saying upset he actually brings in an emotion: “A meaningless world engenders fear.” And, you can say there are lots of emotions that don’t feel good: fear, guilt, shame, anger and so forth. But the Course is teaching that all emotions have their roots in fear. Once again it simplifies things. There are only two emotions: love and fear. Even though fear has a lot of different range on the screen, it seems to take a lot of different degrees and a lot of different forms. But, basically the root is always fear. Here’s the core emotion of the ego: fear. So, He’s saying a meaningless world engenders fear.
Then He lets go the biggest bombshell idea in the first Lesson Fourteen
exercises: “A meaningless world engenders fear because I think
I am in competition with God.” Now He not only tells us, “here’s
your meaningless state of mind because you’re seeing a meaningless
world and you’re having meaningless thoughts,” but now He’s
making a direct connection that it’s fear you’re feeling;
which is very upsetting, because I think I’m in competition with
God. Now, that is not a conscious thought. I mean how many of us wake
up in the morning before we brush our teeth and say, “Oh, that
big guy, that Creator, he did this to me. He’s forcing me to go
through this day and boy, I’ll tell him.” It’s not
a conscious thought at all. In fact, consciously, most of us would feel
that we’ve come to an awareness that God is love or unconditional
love or whatever. But, if you follow the metaphysics of the Course,
anytime I’m upset, even mildly or whatever, it still comes back
to “I still believe I’m in competition with God because
I still believe that the ego is real. I still believe that this belief
in separation is real.” There is some reality to it. I haven’t
withdrawn my investment in it completely. Part of my mind is holding
on to this and it’s terrified of the Holy Spirit, terrified of
the light. And, that’s another idea about which people would say,
“I don’t feel really afraid of God. I don’t feel terrified
of God.” But, on a conscious level, you may feel that way but
basically what the Course is saying is that the deceived mind or the
split mind is terrified of God and it is terrified of the light because
it’s got this alien voice, the puff of nothingness screeching
in there, “Don’t go near that light! Don’t go back!
You’re in form now hiding. Don’t go back in your mind and
look at all these beliefs because if you go back far enough in your
mind all the way back to the very first corner stone and you lift that
corner stone, you’ll ‘get it.’ He’ll obliterate
you. God is angry and wants to get you.” That’s what that
little voice is screeching inside your mind and so that’s why
a lot of times when you try to meditate, try to get quiet and watch
your thoughts, it’s hard. You can feel restless. You may sink
down a little and then, “whoa!” It may seem a little scary
or whatever. This is what’s going on. The ego is in there. The
ego does not want the mind to look within at these beliefs. It wants
to just stay distracted in the blaming, in the grievances. It wants
to make your life as busy as it can be. “Get all strung out, don’t
go down, be quiet, and be still.” That’s what’s going
on and you see that Jesus knows that this is a bomb shell of an idea
because he says, “You may find it difficult to avoid resistance
in one form or another to where this conclusion takes you. Whatever
form resistance may take remind yourself that you are really afraid
of such a thought because of the ‘vengeance’ of the ‘enemy.’”
In other words, the ego is telling the mind that God is the enemy and
that God is going to get you if you go back into the mind so that’s
why they put it in quotes. “And will probably dismiss it as preposterous.”
Once again to the conscious experience its like, “It can’t
be so, Jesus.” “Note carefully any signs of overt or covert
fear which may arise. This is our first attempt at stating an explicit
cause and effect relationship of a kind which you are very inexperienced
in recognizing. Do not dwell on the concluding statement and try not
even to think of it except during the practice period. That will suffice
at present.” So, it’s like there is an authority problem
going on in the deceived mind because it thinks that it can make up
a world and it can make up a self that is a part of Spirit. And, even
though it can make up a hallucination, the mind believes it’s
real and, believing that it’s real and it really did happen, it
fears God. So, it seems like: “I’m angry at my dog that
just peed on my carpet. I’m angry at my spouse because he didn’t
pick up the milk. I’m angry at the stock market because the stock
lost seventy points today. I’m angry at my boss at work because
he didn’t promote me and I did a better job than so and so.”
We could go on and on and on about all of the perceived sources of anger
that seem to be justified by something that’s on the screen and
all He is saying here is that there is this little puff of madness that’s
still a belief in your mind that’s covered over with an entire
belief system that’s sprung from this thing, from this false premise.
This whole belief system that’s in there, like a sky scraper and
all the offices are dark and Jesus is saying, “Ok, we’ll
start up here on the thirty-fifth floor and we’ll go turn the
lights on in every office and we’ll go down to the cellar and
we’ll go down to that last dark corner and that dark little office
in the basement and you just hold my hand and we’ll turn the light
on there too and find out there is no boogie man and this whole sky
scraper has been this fictitious thing that there is nothing to fear.”
God did not create this sky scraper and the more you work with the Course
and the farther down you go and the more lights you turn on the more
the ego shrieks, “Don’t you dare go to that basement.”
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