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Dreamer of the Dream
Workshop / Study / Discussion Guide
(Selections from A Course In Miracles)
Part 4 - Examining the Self Concept -
Raising all illusions to awareness is how they are transcended or overlooked. When all illusions are uncovered and revealed as one (i.e. the ego tree trunk and its many branches are all one tree). Truth is made welcome. Seeing the barrier then, completely or entirely, automatically shines it away. Seeing the barrier partially, (i.e. some of the branches) is not to see at all, or to be in the dark.
No illusion has any truth in it. Yet it appears some are more true than others, although this clearly makes no sense at all. All that a hierarchy of illusions can show is preference, not reality. What relevance has preference to the truth? Illusions are illusions and are false. Your preference gives them no reality. Not one is true in any way, and all must yield with equal ease to what God gave as answer to them all.
All illusions are but one, and in the recognition this is so lies the ability to give up all attempts to choose between them, and to make them different.
For vision, like relationships, has no order. You either see or not. You see a lot of separate things about you, which really means you are not seeing at all. You either see or not. When you have seen one thing differently, you will see all things differently. This course will be believed entirely or not at all. For it is wholly true or wholly false, and cannot be but partially believed. And you will either escape from misery entirely or not at all.
Consciousness is the domain or field of the ego. Its content is concepts / images. The subject and the object, the observer and observed, the me and the other, the individual and the collective, the dream figure and the dream – are not different at all They are all concepts / images. They are the ego. Seeing this is freedom!
Consciousness, the level of perception, was the first split introduced into the mind after the separation, making the mind a perceiver rather than a creator. Consciousness is correctly identified as the domain of the ego. The ego is a wrong-minded attempt to perceive yourself as you wish to be, rather than as you are. Yet you can know yourself only as you are, because that is all you can be sure of. Everything else is open to question.
The ability to perceive made the body possible, because you must perceive something and with something. That is why perception involves an exchange or translation, which knowledge does not need. The interpretative function of perception, a distorted form of creation, then permits you to interpret the body as yourself in an attempt to escape from the conflict you have induced.
If only the loving thoughts of God's Son are the world's reality, the real world must be in his mind. His insane thoughts, too, must be in his mind, but an internal conflict of this magnitude he cannot tolerate. A split mind is endangered, and the recognition that it encompasses completely opposed thoughts within itself is intolerable. Therefore the mind projects the split, not the reality. Everything you perceive as the outside world is merely your attempt to maintain your ego identification, for everyone believes that identification is salvation. An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable.
Free Will is God’s and is Christ’s. Ego “will” is the belief that reality is fragmented and is yours to choose or select from, that decision between images in the field is possible. Ego “will” is an effort to bring about a change, an improvement, by juggling or rearranging the concepts and images in the field in the hope of future happiness. This illusion of change is not transformative because it is still within the field.
Judgment always involves rejection. It never emphasizes only the positive aspects of what is judged, whether in you or in others. What has been perceived and rejected, or judged and found wanting, remains in your mind because it has been perceived. One of the illusions from which you suffer is the belief that what you judged against has no effect. This cannot be true unless you also believe that what you judged against does not exist. You evidently do not believe this, or you would not have judged against it. In the end it does not matter whether your judgment is 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 select from.
True change, a radical transformation of the mind, only occurs when the mind sees the entire field, the entire domain, consciousness, itself, from a completely different purpose or frame of reference.
Illusion makes illusion. Except one. Forgiveness is illusion that is answer to the rest. Forgiveness sweeps all other dreams away, and though it is itself a dream, it breeds no others. All illusions save this one must multiply a thousand fold. But this is where illusions end. Forgiveness is the end of dreams, because it is a dream of waking. It is not itself the truth. Yet does it point to where the truth must be, and gives direction with the certainty of God Himself. It is a dream in which the Son of God awakens to his Self and to his Father, knowing They are one. Forgiveness… is still, and quietly does nothing. It offends no aspect of reality, nor seeks to twist it to appearances it likes. It merely looks, and waits, and judges not.
The false self or ego is an image-maker AND the images it makes (i.e. ideas leave not their source). It is the persona (mask) which covers over or hides from awareness abstract reality. It is a self-concept comprised of concepts. It is fragmented into the person (a fragment), other people (fragments) and the “surrounding” world / cosmos (still more fragments) AND it is that which made or thought them all up. In other words, ego is both the “thinker” AND the “thoughts”, image-maker AND the images.
It is because the thoughts you think you think appear as images that you do not recognize them as nothing. You think you think them, and so you think you see them. This is how your "seeing" was made. This is the function you have given your body's eyes. It is not seeing. It is image making. It takes the place of seeing, replacing vision with illusions. Each of your perceptions of "external reality" is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts. One can well ask if this can be called seeing. Is not fantasy a better word for such a process, and hallucination a more appropriate term for the result? You see the world that you have made, but you do not see yourself as the image-maker. Thoughts begin in the mind of the thinker, from which they reach outward… consider what has happened, for thoughts do have consequences to the thinker. You have become at odds with the world as you perceive it, because you think it is antagonistic to you. This is a necessary consequence of what you have done. You have projected outward what is antagonistic to what is inward, and therefore you would have to perceive it this way. Who is the doubter? What is it he doubts? Whom does he question? Who can answer him? He merely states that he is not himself, and therefore, being something else, becomes a questioner of what that something is.
The release comes with this one idea:
“My mind holds only what I think with God.” That is a fact, and represents the truth of What you are and What your Father is. It is this thought by which the Father gave creation to the Son, establishing the Son as co-creator with Himself. It is this thought that fully guarantees salvation to the Son. For in his mind no thoughts can dwell but those his Father shares. Lack of forgiveness blocks this thought from his awareness. Yet it is forever true… Your self-deceptions cannot take the place of truth. No more than can a child who throws a stick into the ocean change the coming and the going of the tides, the warming of the water by the sun, the silver of the moon on it by night.
Freedom is the realization that reality is whole and can only be accepted at this instant, not made up of and selected from images. The concept of choice vanishes with this acceptance, for there is nothing to choose between in reality. It sees that future happiness was just a concept. It sees that past guilt was just a concept. It sees that striving and effort were just concepts. Present reality is changeless and tranquil, devoid of all concepts.
Let us take an even closer look at letting go of the self concept.
As long as the mind identifies with the dream figure(s) and world, it can’t help but believe that there are real problems to solve and lots to be done to solve them. Action or doing implies a body to act or do. Yet, whenever a decision in mind or at the thought level is made based on fear, the mind will retain fear. Judgment invites fear.
The strain of constant judgment is virtually intolerable. It is curious that an ability so debilitating would be so deeply cherished. Yet if you wish to be the author of reality, you will insist on holding on to judgment. You will also regard judgment with fear, believing that it will someday be used against you. This belief can exist only to the extent that you believe in the efficacy of judgment as a weapon of defense for your own authority… The issue of authority is really a question of authorship. When you have an authority problem, it is always because you believe you are the author of yourself and project your delusion onto others. You then perceive the situation as one in which others are literally fighting you for your authorship. This is the fundamental error of all those who believe they have usurped the power of God.
All the thoughts of consequences / outcomes, be they judged “favorable or unfavorable,” “desirable or undesirable,” are all merely self concept thoughts about the dream – and have nothing to do with one’s REAL SELF.
We but undertake a journey that is over. Yet it seems to have a future still unknown to us… Time is a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast illusion in which figures come and go as if by magic. Yet there is a plan behind appearances that does not change. The script is written… for we but see the journey from the point at which it ended, looking back on it, imagining we make it once again; reviewing mentally what has gone by.
The only real choice available is which guide to view the script with: Holy Spirit or through the image. If anything in the script seems unsettling at all, it is just another chance to notice the mind’s identity attachment to the self concept. When I remember my one function, and hold the intent clearly, it doesn’t matter what film is playing or even how the plot is unfolding. Content is intent or purpose in the mind and is independent of the outcome, which has already happened. The state of mind (i.e. peace or upset) is not dependent on outcome / appearances, but only on which advisor (ego or Holy Spirit) one calls upon to watch with.
It has become clear that I cannot retain a single shred of the self concept I made up and understand true forgiveness. I must choose between them. Jesus repeatedly reminds me that I do make the choice for one or the other each and every moment. As I’ve probed the depths of concepts, the layers of beliefs in the split mind have been brought to light. I thought that my self concept was just the personality self (i.e. your name) and his / her personal history and goals / ambitions. Yet Jesus has helped to unveil the full extent of the idol images / self concept -- which includes everything I perceive and experience as time / space / matter!
You will believe that you are part of where you think you are. That is because you surround yourself with the environment you want. And you want it to protect the image of yourself that you have made. The image is part of this environment. What you see while you believe you are in it is seen through the eyes of the image. This is not vision. Images cannot see.
In Absence from Felicity, when speaking on healing, Jesus again mentions the theme that the split-mind surrounds itself with an environment made of thought:
The patient may… develop other symptoms, since physical healing represents a realignment of essentially local (i.e. bodily) forces rather than the total context (i.e. in the mind itself). This is because they still occur in time, and therefore retain the illusory quality of time itself.. It does not matter in what part of the body the healing takes place, nor by what means it is brought about. From the theoretical point of view, it can be said that healing can only be the result of a change of mind which now accepts healing where it formerly accepted sickness. The change of mind alters the thought field around the patient, which seems to represent the place where he is. (p. 389)
All these concepts, images, beliefs, and thoughts are rooted in time. The only reason for the all split-mind’s complexity and busyness is its denial that NOW is the only time there is. The Course calls this defending against the Holy Instant. Here are some passages that I find inspiring in letting go of the idea of time:
A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to Wisdom that is not its own. It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it. It does not depend upon itself for anything except its adequacy to fulfill the plans assigned to it. It is secure in certainty that obstacles can not impede its progress to accomplishment of any goal that serves the greater plan established for the good of everyone… A healed mind is relieved of the belief that it must plan, although it cannot know the outcome which is best, the means by which it achieved, nor how to recognize the problem that the plan is made to solve.
The mind engaged in planning for itself is occupied in setting up control of future happenings. It does not think that it will be provided for, unless it makes its own provisions. Time becomes a future emphasis, to be controlled by learning and experience obtained from past events and previous beliefs. It overlooks the present, for it rests on the idea the past has taught enough to let the mind direct its future course.
The mind that plans is thus refusing to allow for change. What it has learned before becomes the basis for its future goals. Its past experience directs its choice of what will happen. And it does not see that here and now is everything it needs to guarantee a future quite unlike the past, without a continuity of any old ideas and sick beliefs.
We lay these pointless limitations by a little while. We do not look to past beliefs, and what we will believe will not intrude upon us now. We enter in the time of practicing with one intent; to look upon the sinlessness within.
The self concept, which is a time / space / matter identity association is WHAT is atoned for. The acceptance of the Atonement, or the decision to hold the one intent of looking upon the sinlessness within, is what I am responsible for (i.e. not for the error, but for accepting the Correction).
If the sole responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept the Atonement for himself, and I assure you that it is, then the responsibility for WHAT is atoned for cannot be yours. The dilemma cannot be resolved except by accepting the solution of undoing.
Anytime I wish for the script to go a certain way, I have made a judgment of form, and hold an expectation. Any expectation is a choice to forget my one intent, and reflect the belief that there is something of value outside my Self.
Idols are quite specific. But your will is universal, being limitless. And so it has no form, nor is content for its expression in the terms of form. Idols are limits. It is not form you seek. What form can be a substitute for God the Father’s Love? You do not want an idol. It is not your will to have one. It will not bestow on you the gift you seek. When you decide upon the form of what you want, you lose the understanding of its purpose. So you see your will within the idol, thus reducing it to a specific form. Yet this could never be your will, because what shares in all creation cannot be content with small ideas and little things.
Let us think for a moment on Lessons 24 and 25. ALL ego goals spring from the self concept and have nothing to do with our own best interests, but everything to do with maintaining the self concept. Any form, including tangible ones (i.e. body, house, car, etc.) and even mental attributes (i.e. memory, reasoning, etc. ) used by the ego, is an idol. By first becoming aware of the idols, and then ceasing to invest in them by giving a unified purpose to the world, they fade away and one remembers Spirit. ACIM therefore does not ask us to seek for love or truth, but instructs us in seeking and finding the false, or the blocks to the awareness of love. What a joy it is to find blocks and be free of them!
To seek a special person or a thing to add to you to make yourself complete, can only mean that you believe some form is missing. And by finding this, you will achieve completion in a form you like. This is the purpose of an idol; that you will not look beyond it, to the source of the belief that you are incomplete. God knows not form. What idol can be called upon to give the Son of God what he already has? Your will IS granted. Not in any form that would content you not, but in the whole completely love Thought God holds of you.
“Ye shall have no idols before God” translates into “you shall retain no self-concept if you shall know God.”
The building of a concept of the self is what the learning of the world is for. This is its purpose; that you come without a self, and make one as you go along. And by the time you reach "maturity" you have perfected it, to meet the world on equal terms, at one with its demands. A concept of the self is made by you. It bears no likeness to your Self at all. It is an idol, made to take the place of your reality as Son of God. Concepts are learned. They are not natural. Apart from learning they do not exist. They are not given, so they must be made. A concept of the self is meaningless, for no one here can see what it is for, and therefore cannot picture what it is. Yet is all learning that the world directs begun and ended with the single aim of teaching you this concept of yourself, that you will choose to follow this world’s laws, and never seek to go beyond its roads nor realize the way you see yourself. Now must the Holy Spirit find a way to help you see this concept of the self must be undone, if any peace of mind is to be given you. Nor can it be unlearned except by lessons aimed to teach that you are something else. For otherwise, you would be asked to make exchange of what you now believe for total loss of self, and greater terror would arise in you. Thus are the Holy Spirit's lesson plans arranged in easy steps, that though there be some lack of ease at times and some distress, there is no shattering of what was learned, but just a re-translation of what seems to be the evidence on its behalf. Your concept of the world depends upon this concept of the self. And both would go, if either one were ever raised to doubt. The Holy Spirit does not seek to throw you into panic. So He merely asks if just a little question might be raised. You will make many concepts of the self as learning goes along. Each one will show the changes in your own relationships, as your perception of yourself is changed. There will be some confusion every time there is a shift, but be you thankful that the learning of the world is loosening its grasp upon your mind. And be you sure and happy in the confidence that it will go at last, and leave your mind at peace. Forget not, when you feel the need arise to be defensive about anything, you have identified yourself with an illusion. And therefore feel that you are weak because you are alone. This is the cost of all illusions. Not one but rests on the belief that you are separate.
When every concept has been raised to doubt and question, and been recognized as made on no assumptions that would stand the light, then is the truth left free to enter in its sanctuary, clean and free of guilt. There is no statement that the world is more afraid to hear than this:
“I DO NOT KNOW THE THING I AM, AND THEREFORE DO NOT KNOW WHAT I AM DOING, WHERE I AM OR HOW TO LOOK UPON THE WORLD OR ON MYSELF.”
Yet in this learning is salvation born. And What you are will tell you of Itself.
Take this very instant, now, and think of it as all there is of time. Nothing can reach you here out of the past, and it is here that you are completely absolved, completely free and wholly without condemnation. From this holy instant wherein holiness was born again you will go forth in time without fear, and with no sense of change with time. Time is inconceivable without change, yet holiness does not change. Learn from this instant more than merely that hell does not exist. In this redeeming instant lies Heaven. And Heaven will not change, for the birth into the holy present is salvation from change. The holy instant is this instant and every instant. The one you want it to be it is. The one you would not have it be is lost to you. You must decide when it is. Delay it not. In the holy instant nothing happens that has not always been.
All quotations used in this publication are from
A Course In Miracles, Song of Prayer and Absence from Felicity.
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