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The Ordering of Thought-Looking at Preferences
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: What we would do is try to take it deeper because what we started off with was going into a lot of structural things, as if there are separate minds and there’s a right mind and a wrong mind. And so I thought we’ll try to go back to the back sections and take a look at some of those. This section comes right after the section, Judgment: The wish to be author of reality. So we can just summarize that by stating that to even see a world, to even perceive anything, there’s an authority problem going on. Ultimately the basis of why the mind judges and why the mind orders the illusions and why the mind makes hierarchies of illusions is because it wants to be the author of itself. There is a very very deep-rooted belief that reality can be selected from and that’s what all the judgments in this world seem to be literally. I choose to go here. I choose to go there. I choose to prefer this. I choose to avoid this. There’s an underlining assumption beneath all of that that I can choose from reality. Reality is not just something that just is that I can accept. But it’s something that I can actually select from.
Friend: The parts of it that I want.
David: Parts of it that I want and parts of it that I can actually reject. You see how that denies the wholeness and literally makes the subject/object split seem real. It is the judging that maintains it. So, now when we start to move into this realm we can start to think of ourselves more as a mind. We started to see the fallacy of all these things we thought we were as a person. I did this, I didn’t do this; I’m hoping to do this in the future. And just kind of take it out of a personal context and just shift it into a context of I’m a mind and I’ve got all these concepts and ideas. They’re just images. My thoughts are images I have made. The thoughts themselves aren’t the problem, it’s the ordering and the arrangement of those images that keeps me from seeing that they’re all equally illusory. It’s not that a cup in and of itself is good or bad. The problem is if I believe that a car is more valuable than a cup or this body is more valuable than another body. You can see that the arranging of the images is where the problem comes in.
Friend: It’s the decision.
David: Yes, the decision to judge presumes the belief that reality is mine to choose and select from. Therefore I must still believe that reality is mine to choose and select from if I continue to judge.
Friend: What about valuing at all? I mean, I thought the whole idea was to recognize that there was no value in anything that’s not eternal.
David: Yes, but you can’t do that without allowing the Holy Spirit to reorder the mind or giving up your own ordering of those thoughts and images. As long as you talk about having no value in the world and you still hold on to judgment or ordering of images you’re giving it value.
Friend: So, you’re not saying that what we want to do is to just value everything equally in the sense of everything having value? It’s the opposite. It’s recognizing that there is no value in everything of the world?
David: Well, it’s more likely to be the first and the only way that the ordering can be given up is to give one meaning to every image. In other words, you don’t try to just say that nothing I see means anything, and it’s a vacuum. There has to be a purpose, which is the Holy Spirit’s purpose, that unifies the perception. That’s the value that everything has. Equally, literally the Holy Spirit gives that equal meaning to a chair, a lamp, a body, a car, and a trailer. All has one purpose. In the Holy Spirit’s eyes so to speak, the idea of these things having meaning in and of themselves is meaningless. There is no such thing as a microphone defined as the deceived mind perceives it because that always has to do with speaking into and voices. Well, that’s the body. You see how there are a bunch of concepts… or with a couch; the couch is where bodies sit down in it, but bodies are just images too, just like the couch.
Friend: It’s just another image.
David: Yes, and even the sitting on is part of that…
Friend: It's another image.
David: Yes, because there seems to be a relationship there and the Holy Spirit knows that there’s no relationship between the images and the only meaning that any of them have is the meaning that the Holy Spirit gives. In that sense, the miracle sees that they’re all false. That’s why true forgiveness is seeing the false as false. Seeing that there is no cause to it; it’s just a bunch of images. You see how this kind of kicks us up into a whole different realm. A higher realm of getting away from thinking of and describing things in terms of persons and behaviors. It's getting kicked up totally into the metaphysical realm of I’m a mind and I’ve got these thoughts and it’s very disordered and I want to learn how to perceive correctly. I want to allow my mind to be reordered by the Holy Spirit and see that the same meaning is given to everything. So, I thought what we would do is pick up this on page 11 and start talking about ordering of thoughts and getting straight into the mind level.
“Only what God creates is irreversible and unchangeable. What you made can always be changed because when you do not think like God you are not really thinking at all. Delusional ideas are not real thoughts. Although you can believe in them, but you are wrong. The function of thought comes from God and is in God. As part of His thought, you cannot think apart from Him. Irrational thought is disordered thought. God Himself orders your thought because your thought was created by Him. Guilt feelings are always a sign that you do not know this. They also show that you believe that you can think apart from God and want to. Every disordered thought is attended by guilt at its inception and maintained by guilt in its continuance. Guilt is inescapable by those who believe they order their own thought and must therefore obey their dictates.”
So, you can see the guilt comes in once thoughts are believed to be real, in other words, once the mind identifies even with the body... Well, I did hit so and so. I did yell at my daughter and I feel guilty for doing that. What it’s done is it’s taken the body thoughts of mother and daughter and believes that it’s responsible. It believes there was a real attack that took place. But if all those thoughts—body, daughter, screams—were seen to be just illusory thoughts, not part of my right mind, not part of the Mind that thinks with God, where would the guilt be? Literally, there could be no guilt! But it’s the association of the mind with those thoughts that brings the guilt. Because as soon as we associate with them then we all can look back on what seems to be a personal past history that’s filled with a closet full of things; like with our children or with anyone. That we just constantly wish we had done what we didn’t do, that we did do or that we wish we hadn’t. The whole point of the Course; the moment of release is simply seeing that as a mind those aren’t real thoughts. They never have been and they never will be. Nor are my fear thoughts about the future, about being provided for. Where will I be going? Will I be afraid if I go to other parts of the country? Will there be conditions that will arise that will scare me, or whatever. All those thoughts of the future are just as equally past tense.
To believe in linear time is to simply take thoughts from the past and project them into another direction and call that the future. It is taking the past, projecting it, and then giving it a name: future. When really it’s still past, the future-past. So, you can see where the fear comes in. If I’m identified with one of those thoughts which is a body and also I believe that all the conditions of the world, economic, financial, weather, and all these other things then that’s where the fear comes in, believing those are real thoughts instead of just seeing the unreality of it. Seeing those things you start to see how it’s really coming to a point of release, in the sense that you can start to get a sense of “My mind holds only what I think with God.” That’s literally the release point. That’s just another version of I am as God created me. I am as God created me, my mind holds only what I think with God; pick your version of however you like to word it.
Friend: So, it’s really only the mind’s identification with the unreal thoughts that makes them seem real? As soon as I can dis-identify from those thoughts then they’re just unreal thoughts...
David: And the mind believes it can order them. Before much less believing in them; it’s the ordering that makes them seem real. That’s why I have to give up the judgment. I have to give up the ordering.
Friend: In order to recognize that they’re not real and that they’re not me.
David: That’s why for a couple years now I’ve been pointing out tiny things, even little preferences when my friend says, Boy I really like this or I like that I say oh, you’ll get over it, don’t worry. At the beginning it was kind of like saying, darn it! I’m a person here and I really do like this and this and this, because at the beginning, until you get the metaphysics down, you can’t see how it makes any difference.
Friend: It’s like, give me a break. It’s no big deal. Leave me alone! Pick, pick, pick…
David: That’s right! And the more you get into it the more it’s like thank you. It’s a whole different turn around from get out of my face to thank you.
Friend: There are a lot of things... I have a thing with smells too, and that’s why I wanted to come to this group. I’m always by myself a lot and I can see so many things that I do and say and think. But the smell; if ever I smell drink it can set up a chain reaction of past thoughts of drinks. But, now I know and I say No, you don’t. You’re not doing that on me again. You know, like I really don’t want to know that. Enough of that, that’s over with that is gone now.
David: Yes, it seems that way, but once again...
Friend: I smelled it yesterday.
Friend: On somebody’s breath?
Friend: Well, I don’t know but I smelled it very strongly and my mind went [chk, chk, chk sound referring to a chain reaction]
David: And perception’s selective. You were saying in your life with an alcoholic father, that’s just a very strong association, really, it’s an illusory association and really it may seem like the smell of drink sets off a chain reaction. But, once again that would be something in form triggering it. But it’s still in the mind; it’s still the categorizing and the ordering and the belief that is associated with alcohol and beer.
Friend: And trouble or people.
David: And trouble... yes, and that’s what’s got to be questioned. The mind has that split and has a fear in there and then it picks out a particular thing. There are certain situations where it seems like there’s been a generalization, where there’s no problem and other situations where it seems like a big deal. And there’s enormous variability. But you can see what we’re trying to do is really to get down to the basics of what’s going on. That all ordering is still maintaining that split and why it’s so important to give that up.
Friend: It’s like putting a switch on. When I tip that lid back and that thing came out. That’s just like with that smell, just click the thing and I’m back where I was with trouble.
Friend: And the point is that it’s not because of the smell. The smell isn’t causative.
David: It’s a decision in mind. Even that twinge of fear. It’s obvious that the mind has identified with the wrong mind again. It’s a level confusion. Mind has to be identified with thoughts in form, or beliefs that they’re real, before it can feel guilty. So it’s a decision for the wrong mind and then it gets thrown out into the scenario with the drink. But that’s just symbolic. The world is nothing but symbols.
Friend: So level confusion is trying to bring wrong minded things into the right mind?
Friend: I think of level confusion as always having the cause and effect opposite of how it truly is and so if I think something is causative in form, which is impossible, then that’s level confusion.
Friend: What I think is that I’m feeling so comfortable that the ego thinks that it can just creep up on me and just pass me the smell of drink and see what I do.
David: But we have to go deeper into this because if we can get really clear on this level confusion then that’s it. It’s not so much trying to bring the wrong mind into the right mind. The right mind is the miracle. The right mind is the Atonement; is right mindedness; is salvation, and everything. Any kind of causality given to the world of form; any kind of ordering—as long as there is ordering, as long as there is a hierarchy in any way, a slight preference—will throw it off. You can’t be in the right mind and have a slight preference for anything.
Friend: So, what’s the relationship between having a preference and not being able to see that form is not causative? There must be some real close relationship there?
David: Yes, having a preference has to do with the hierarchy of illusions that we talked about. It’s impossible to think of a preference without that hierarchy. That’s what it means to have a preference; to have some priority and some lower priority.
David: Right. And hierarchy is impossible without a split. The mind doesn’t want to see that the split is in the mind so it projects out the images. Then it is in chaos and panic having projected out these images. And then it tries to order the images to try to bring some kind of security and some kind of control into a very wild chaotic kind of a situation.
Friend: Within the split is the whole idea that everything that’s projected is causative. And then the ordering and the preferencing is just trying to bring order to the chaos.
David: Right, so the split in the mind is horrifying and it tries to project the split to give itself some relief—the illusion of relief, and that’s how sights and sounds are made. Sounds that seem to be bothersome or sights that are like oh, this is too violent for me, I can’t watch it, is an attempt to deal with the intolerable conflict in the mind by making up a screen. Identifying with a particular fragment as a whole human being, as opposed to a world that surrounds that human being, gives the mind a sense of integrity. I’m a David. I’m a Tom. I’m a Dick. I’m a Harry. I’m a whole person in a world that’s outside of me. That’s how the mind tries to alleviate the split in the mind. Project the split outside and then identify with one particular fragment; I’ve got a home now.
Friend: So, why does the mind want all that stuff that’s projected to be causative? Is it so it can not look at itself as causative and take that responsibility?
David: It runs away from I’ve just made this up, from looking at the ego. The best way to distract away from looking at the ego is to get caught up in all these things; all this other stuff in the world.
Friend: It’s probably also the most convincing way for the mind to believe that it made it up in a sense. That it’s so powerful that it’s now the cause.
David: Well, the deceived mind wants to forget that it made it up. That’s what makes it seem helpless and victimized.
Friend: Yes, that’s what I mean. It wants to forget that it made it up.
David: That’s the whole dynamic that happens with sickness too. It’s a conscious decision to be sick or to project the sickness onto the body and then the mind forgets. That’s how it works. It does it and then it forgets that it did it. Just like with the separation from God. It thinks it did it. It’s horrified with that and so it wants to forget that it did it. It wants to forget that it thinks it’s in competition with God, which is insane, so it projects out a world. Then it says God created the world. There’s no causation at all out there on the screen. But it thinks that because it’s afraid of going back into the mind. So, as we go on with this particular passage. It’ll get clearer about ordering of thought, that has to be ended, for the split to be healed.
“Guilt is inescapable by those who believe they order their own thoughts and must therefore obey their dictates. This makes them feel responsible for their errors without recognizing that by accepting this responsibility they are reacting irresponsibly. 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.”
This is the major area of level confusion that’s easy to get into. People say I invented the world I see and everything that seems to happen to me I ask for and receive as I have asked. So... I’m responsible for the starving children. I’m responsible for my cancer. I’m responsible for… He’s saying right here, the responsibility for what is atoned for, the projection, the self concept itself cannot be yours. The dilemma cannot be resolved except by accepting the solution of undoing. All we are responsible for any time is always for accepting the Atonement or choosing the miracle. In the ultimate sense, that has to be the way out or the escape because if I stay in I’m responsible for the starving children then the guilt has to remain.
Friend: What if you don’t feel responsible for the starving children.
Friend: Maybe that’s too far away but it’s just saying you’re not even responsible for any of your wrong thinking. I do feel responsible for my wrong thinking if I feel I hurt or attacked somebody.
David: The starving children is just one example since ideas leave not their source and the thoughts and the images are one and the same. We’ll take a real subtle example like when you put the suitcase up and the thing came on and you went what have I done? What have I done? Do you see just a minor twinge; that still means that I must believe I’m responsible for doing something in form. Or a simple thing like I was down in the woods this summer where they have these big tanker insects that look like they’re from Africa or whatever, and I remember I was getting ready to take a shower and I could hear this rumbling coming right at my eye and my face flying and I flinched and I remember the little thing inside saying still afraid of something?
David: This little thing just reminded me, just the flinch; the sight, the sound. Obviously there had to be an association with this thing, just being in touch with the feeling. Even something so simple as that; ah there has to still be some judgment, some ordering of thought. You can see how subtle we’re talking and how important it is to be urgent and to be vigilant to really see. If we’re to be healed and to be used as channels for healing we have to be clear, otherwise how useful are we as channels?
David: Limited, yes.
Friend: It’s like that thing with the smell of drink. It was just so subtle I just threw it in just to see the reaction.
David: It’s very subtle, I just played around with it and just watched and experimented. Like even with this body; preferences for clothing, preferences for food, preferences for the way I cared for my body. I remember with my hair there was lots of things about how I like it, how I want it to look, how I want it to feel. Do I wash it everyday? You can see how there are really patterns and rituals that, in subtle realms, get tied in the hierarchy of preferences. When I’m on the road traveling, it’s trying to stay focused on my function to really connect to be used and let go of all that. Not to get up and say ok I’ve got to do this, this, this and then I have the body taken care of and then I’ve got to meditate for this amount of minutes as if there’s a ritual involved with that, to be still, to be ready for my function. No, somebody may come knocking on the door with my messy hair and it’s like the whole thing is to stay in the moment and remember what my function is. But, you can see how all these other preferences can really interfere with that. Particularly when you’re traveling you get a good opportunity because there isn’t that seeming stability of familiarity of living at a particular place.
Friend: You may not have a shower available.
David: Right. The ego still gets into ordering. This is my place; a place of my own. Even the thought that I’m going back to a particular city or a trailer, there's still a future thought and it still has associations of what I’m going to be doing. Those are all just concepts and constructs. And the thing about it is that those are the very things and the very ordering that we have to let go to be totally present to that universal Spirit or forgiveness. You can see that to really stay with your function completely, and never veer from it, you would have to give up all that ordering, because otherwise that ordering is going to get in the way of the function. That’s where the expectations arise. Like I would expect this or do that with the green paper strips. I would hope that they could do this or that. There are just all these different realms that get in the way of one really holding onto one’s function. We bring function to happiness too. If my function is my happiness you can see how important it is again. And if I can’t stick to my function with this ordering of thought, then I’ll never be happy or joyful until I relinquish the ordering. So, then when you make those connections, it’s like this is important. I’m ready. I’m willing. I’m ready to really watch my mind carefully. Also, it seems to be a celestial speed-up when we do what we’re doing now. Or even when you seemingly are in proximity of bodies because when things come out of one or another’s mouth it can be helpful. There’s a synergy or an energy that helps of having loving brothers around who will point something out so you can go, thank you. That just slipped right into my mind and came right out of this mouth. I was not watching my mind. I was not up in my right mind. Thank you for pointing that out instead of the picking thing. From the ego’s perspective that’s how it would get into picking. It’s kind of a gratitude because your brother is literally your savior in that sense, literally helping you do that.
Friend: I just felt a real swell of gratitude and probably just saw it for the first time right now, that what a gift it is in a sense, that I don’t have a place to call my own. But, I can see how easy it is for me to want a place of my own and to identify with that and to get caught up in that enough that it be a distraction from my purpose and function.
David: Well, I think there’s something a little deeper here. I’ve heard our friend say I’m glad I’ve got a place of my own. I finally got it the way I like it. I might go to Mexico and get a place down there and then you’re saying I’m grateful not to have a place of my own. Really, what I’m saying is it’s the same thing. All we have is the concept of place and it’s not even that not having a place of your own is a gift to show you something, but just to come down to the see the idea that even place is just a concept. It’s like two ends of a coin. One’s saying I’m glad I’ve got this place to go to and I enjoy being on my own. That’s a construct. And one’s saying I’m glad that I don’t have a place of my own.
Friend: Well, I haven’t been, necessarily. But, something that you just said made me feel like that’s really helpful right now for me and I hadn’t looked at it in those terms.
David: What I’m pointing towards is that whole idea that place is a concept. It’s like a transcending point. Who is the I who does or doesn’t have a place of her own?
Friend: So, it’s about ordering of thoughts if to have a place or to not have a place has some value.
David: You don’t believe you’re a mind if you believe you have a place. Who has a place? Our friends have places or don’t have places but the only thing is those are constructs too.
Friend: They’re both the same in a way.
David: Yes, exactly that’s where the joy starts. When you start to really see some of this stuff you start to feel yourself as a mind. The dreamer of the dream that we’ve been talking about is another way. The dreamer of the dream doesn’t have a place. He watches places and he knows that place doesn’t exist. That’s what makes it fun to just watch all these images. Even this image that seems to move around is still just another image. [pointing at himself]
Friend: And so there wouldn’t even be an identification; for me looking at this as being a place that belongs to me or doesn’t belong to me. It’s just another place and I can turn over this way and see this place. It’s no difference.
David: If you took this so called place and you said this belongs to me; there comes the idea of ownership. Do you see how all we’ve done is we’ve tacked ownership onto a particular place, and that’s another concept and we’ve put them together. The opposite would be if the ego gets pride in saying I don’t have a place of my own, I'm renting. See how the ego could take that and swing the other way and say I don’t believe in ownership. It’s the same error, but it’s the other side. It’s a form/content error. Believing that it’s better to rent than to own is a form/content error. But, it’s the concept of ownership and the concept of renting that’s doing the tying down and if you give those up, it’s like Wow! You can see how freeing this becomes.
Friend: That was the aha moment for me while you were talking. That somehow this could be really helpful to me in terms of not identifying with the body because only the body would have any thoughts on place.
David: What is the “this” that would be very helpful?
Friend: Well, not having a place.
Friend: The dis-identification is what’s helpful.
David: And that’s in this instant. We’re seeing the clarity, the insight, so you can see where the helpfulness is always the Holy Spirit’s burst of light in there. That’s where the help is. But the tendency of course, is once you get down into form and you believe in form you get back into talking about stepping-stones and “this form is more conducive than that form”. It can be helpful to the mind to lead it to the point. But we’re coming to the point right now, where we’re talking about just in the instant, the joy of seeing it. Nothing from the past ever helped us to see this in this instant. It’s just our desire and our willingness and our intention—right now— to see it that’s bringing it to us.
Friend: So there’s no process involved. It’s just you see it or you don’t see it. You’re either awake or asleep.
David: Yes, that’s right.
Friend: Because in my mind as you were talking I was thinking ok first you have to become aware, and then once you become aware... It was like I was making it a process and I’m thinking, no, it’s never a process. You either get it or you don’t get it, and like Krishnamurti says if you got it great if you didn’t get it, forget it. Then you’ll get it another time.
David: Yes, that’s it.
Friend: It’s that feeling of that burst. I think of it as like a bursting balloon. Wow! Just for that one moment! It’s a nice feeling. I want to live in that burst. I don’t want just one instant.
David: That’s what our intention is. We’re working to the burst, the instant that ends all bursts, literally. There are no more bursts after that one. [group laughter]
Friend: But it only is an instant. It’s not like the instant has to last longer. I also think of it as that we’re already there anyway and we just get a glimpse each time that bursts.
David: We construct it as we get a glimpse.
Friend: Who’s the we?
David: Yes, who’s the we? We keep moving towards that clarity. We’ve just done it with a few examples but as we’re talking there may be things coming to mind like ah, there it is. I was concerned about that. It’s just another concept. In the end, we’ll work to the very end of this; it gets back to that I have to be able to see the image maker more clear as well as the images. The mind is used to seeing the images, but it still believes that there’s a thinker in there that’s real. Every time we make a statement, well eventually, where did that come from, the Christ? Well, eventually. There’s no eventually in the Christ. That’s the thinker. Really we need to really be clear on this. And you can see, like our friend was saying, that the silence is where you end up when you get so clear about that thinker. It’s still. Or it’s just, you could say, the real thoughts or this one still thought which is the Christ. But, what we really want to do though is to really look at that thinker.
Friend: And that’s why the silence is deafening. Have you ever thought that?
David: You’re literally deaf to the world, in that sense.
“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. You would be responsible for the effects of all your wrong thinking if it could not be undone. The purpose of the Atonement is to save the past in a purified form only. If you accept the remedy for disordered thought, a remedy whose efficacy is beyond doubt, how can its symptoms remain?”
This is another way of wording what we were just talking about. Sometimes people say what does that mean? “The purpose of the Atonement is to save the past in purified form only.” What in the world are we talking about here? Well, we have to go to our little chart. Here’s the past. We can see it’s black. It’s dark down here. It’s the wrong mind and the projected world and here’s the Atonement. To save the past in purified form is simply to be here, to be the dreamer of the dream and to simply see that all the images are false and that there’s no ordering among those images. You’re just watching a bunch of images on the screen. Of course you’re defenseless if you’re just dreaming and knowing that it’s all false and it’s all past. When you’re up here living in the present and watching the past from the present then you’re saving the past only in a purified form. We’re still talking perceptual. So, saving the past in a purified form is simply being in your right mind. It is to not be caught into the figures, not be caught into the ordering of thoughts, the hierarchy of illusions in any way.
Friend: To just to see it for what it is. That’s the purified form.
David: Yes, that’s the purified form. So, it’s really simple.
“Perhaps, you have been aware of the lack of competition among your thoughts which even though they may conflict can occur together and in great number. You may indeed be so used to this that it causes you little surprise. Yet, you are also used to classifying some of your thoughts as more important, larger or better, wiser or more productive and valuable than others. This is true of the thoughts that cross the mind of those who think they live apart for some are reflections of heaven while others are motivated by the ego which but seems to think.”
So, there’s the clear thing on that ordering that we are talking about. Also, we’re starting to get into where the mind projected out the world and now is trying to bring some order into chaos by ordering the images. It’s trying to judge and order to bring it some security, some sense of wholeness into this chaotic situation. What is the chaotic situation? It’s believing two thought systems that are completely irreconcilable. Sweeping light and dark and yet trying to order.
David: It’s kind of like that confused state of mind where you think one thing, and then you think another thing. It just happens so often that he’s basically saying in the first sentence or two that you’re so accustomed and familiar with this back and forth. I should do this. No I’ll do that. I think so and so is great. Well, actually come to think of it. They just said this to me.
Friend: And you don’t see that as competition in thoughts? You see that as lack of competition in thoughts, what you just described?
David: Well, simultaneously. They just occur together in great numbers. The clear mind can get sorted out between true and false; the light and the dark.
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