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What I Believe, I Perceive 

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.

Participant: I don’t get it. I’d like some clarification on the second sentence in that paragraph; “Forget not that the witness to the world of evil cannot speak except for what has seen a need for evil in the world.” That sentence is hard for me to understand.

Speaker: Well, ‘forget not that the witness to the world of evil cannot speak…’ In other words, the screen is just a screen and it’s only the purpose in the mind looking for the world to bring witness to evil and guilt that makes it speak that way. As long as there’s guilt in the mind and as long as guilt is still a purpose in the mind, the mind still wants to hold onto the ego and it calls forth automatically witnesses from the world that will support and reinforce that wish or belief. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy. If you really are anchored that you’re unworthy and lacking and scarce and guilty, then the world will gladly bring witness to it. The course talks about how you send messengers forth. There are the messengers of fear and the messengers of love and the messengers of fear bring back messages of fear. Or another way to think of it is in terms of the body and the five senses. It’s not like things happen in the world. You see light and the light gets reflected into the eye and then the image gets turned upside down and gets the message sent to the brain. It’s the mind that has the categories and has the judging and the guilt in it and then the five senses just bring forth witnesses to what the mind wants to fill up the boxes.

So, if we look at that one, “Forget not the witnesses to the world of evil cannot speak except for what has seen a need for evil in the world.” The ego has seen a need for evil in the world. The mind that has invested in the ego sees a need for evil in the world because that way the world is the scapegoat. The world is the source of suffering. The world contains all the causes of suffering and there’s no need to take a look at the mind because the world seems to be the cause of suffering. Now if you can trace it back and see, Oh, it’s just my belief in guilt that’s producing witnesses of a guilty world or guilty persons and fear and destruction and all this. If I can trace it back down and see that the belief in the ego is false then I can accept a new purpose and everything that I look upon will just fit into the box of forgiveness. I will not attempt to use scenarios and memories and things that are in the world to justify the ego any more because there’s no point in justifying it. There’s no point in trying to protect the ego or keep it concealed and hidden. At one part of the Course, Jesus says, ‘It’s not that you shouldn’t see the body, but it’s just looking at your wish to murder.’ At one point he’s saying it’s not that you should try to see your brother’s body as sinless but he’s saying look at your wish to condemn him. That’s what has to be examined. Often when people read the Course they think, Well, if everyone’s spirit then I just shouldn’t see any bodies. But that’s like saying I shouldn’t see any effects. But, wait a minute, if you believe in a false cause why shouldn’t you see effects. So, we’ll keep going into this cause business and tracing it in because again there are a lot of things in this world that seem to be great, ok, groovy, wonderful and there’s a lot of forms of attack that aren’t seen as forms of attack at all. If the mind could see them as forms of attack it would see that any form of attack is really keeping the awareness of God out of ones’ mind. Then it would be a piece of cake to give up the branches or to give up the world. But, some forms of attack seem quite attractive and that’s the ones that we’ll look at as we keep going.

‘The witnesses to sin all stand within one little space and it is here you find the cause of your perspective on the world.’ Once you were unaware of what the cause of everything the world appeared to thrust upon you uninvited and unasked, must really be. “Of one thing you are sure of all the many causes you perceived as bringing pain and suffering to you your guilt was not among them. Nor did you request them in any way for yourself. This is how all illusions came about. The one who makes them does not see himself as making them and their reality does not depend on him”.

Growing up, when I was feeling sick, angry, depressed, upset; feelings were usually never talked about anyway, certainly it wasn’t taught to me that it was a guilty mind that was the cause of all these things. There were many myriad of forms.

Participant: It seems almost automatic. Oh, you’re hurt? What happened? What did you do? Did somebody do that or did you fall? We start searching for the cause. If somebody’s sad or if somebody’s crying, you say What happened? Did somebody hurt your feelings? Did you get hurt?

Speaker: A sniffling nose; all these things about did you go outside without your jacket on or where were you? Did you catch the flu from…? Did so and so have the flu? On and on, all these things; they have nothing to do with anything. A whole gamut of things; “of one thing you were sure of all the many causes you perceived as bringing pain and suffering to you, you’re guilt was not among them.”

Participant : Maybe a more helpful question to ask is, what are you feeling guilty about?

Participant: But, do you ask that of the person perceiving the pain?

Participant: No

Participant: I see pain in…it doesn’t have to be in this body. Let’s say I perceive my son experiencing what I perceive to be pain. Is that the guilt in me, then?

Speaker: Yes, that’s the sickness.

Participant: If it looks like pain to you then there’s the wish to see pain because it could look like a call for love. That’s another option.

Speaker: The deceived mind is so convinced. It sees a mangled foot or something where it says that’s got to hurt, that’s based on a conclusion of the past, as if I’ve experienced that too or I know other people that have experienced that and I know that has to hurt. The Course says in one of the Workbook lessons, ‘Pain is a wrong perspective.’ All perception of pain; it’s not like you need to perceive that there really is pain in the world and then find a way to hocus pocus it away or wave your magic wand. If you’re seeing pain anywhere in the world including the body or any other body or any place else, it’s just a misperception. That’s what has to be healed. Now, admittedly you have to go into the metaphysics and certainly when I’ve even begun to talk about what I’ve just said in groups around the country, Beverly goes, ‘Whoa!!!’

Participant: The sentence that you were just talking about, the mind that perceives pain sees pain because it wishes to see pain. Then the question is, Why do I want to see pain? What gain do I think there is in that?

Participant: I want to be clear not to assume that I’m writing the script by calling for witnesses to pain. If my son falls off of his bike and scrapes his hand and his knees and is crying, if I see that as pain then that’s my perception, but my perception didn’t cause him to fall off the bike, necessarily but it’s what I’m seeing as a result. That’s what I want clarification on.

Speaker: That’s a good one to go into because I have been in different places where they have taught you are responsible for the starving children in Somalia. You’re responsible for cancer and everybody you see with cancer you’re killing them. From that perspective it would seem again as if guilt would be inevitable. If I am the cause of every pain in the world…and again that ‘I am responsible.’ We have to get really clear on that. Pain is a wrong minded perception. Another name for pain would be wrong mindedness and the correction for wrong mindedness is right mindedness. Right mindedness doesn’t doctor up pain. It just sees the impossibility of it. First of all you have to not project responsibility for the ego. So, you have to come to see that the ego is a belief in the mind and then you have to quickly turn it over to the Holy Spirit. To withdraw the projection from out there to within and to hold onto it in a personal sense, to believe that I cause the pain that I’m seeing in my son or even ‘I’ as mind cause the pain, that’s still all wrong mindedness. So, the clarity is coming back to seeing that there’s nothing causative on the screen and that everything is just images. That’s where forgiveness starts to come in. It’s not as if falling off a bike caused the pain. That has to be questioned. There’s nothing in the world that causes pain. The old thing about when they give you a bonk on the knee to check the reflexes, if you feel anything there it’s not the hammer striking the knee. It’s not the finger touching the burner that produces the pain. Guilt, wrong mindedness, judgments, ordering of thoughts; that’s where the guilt comes from and then when the mind feels guilty it calls forth witnesses in the world. A child seems to be in pain; A finger that seems to be in pain; a foot that seems to be in pain; perceiving pain over in Ethiopia or in the world anywhere that’s just a witness that’s being called forth from the guilt.

So, the script is written and the only pain comes from a misperception of the script. Seeing it as sequential; seeing some images as more important than others; all the judgments is where the guilt comes in. It seems in the world as if persons let other persons down. It seems as if persons do bad things to other persons and there seems to be a sense of guilt from doing the wrong thing or not doing the right thing. The guilt has nothing at all to do with ones’ behavior and it has nothing at all to do with what happens in the world. The guilt comes from ordering the thoughts that produce the world, from the belief that I can order my own thoughts. If those thoughts were real then guilt would be justified and inevitable. The atonement and the miracle show that they’re not real and that’s why it alleviates the guilt. You can see where if you really believed that guilt was in terms of behavior…like that movie that we saw ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’ where there were a lot of things that came up about seeing your children, at the end when he was going off to another place, he said I’ll call you every day. It seems like if you could do enough of the right things you could alleviate or overcome guilt in that sense. I remember that Chicago song by Peter Shapiro, ‘I’ll make it up to you. I promise you.’ It’s impossible to do enough of the right thing or make it up in a form sense.

Participant: Atone for it…

Speaker: Right, it’s impossible. That’s the whole thing if there’s a marriage and one or the other person seem to be unfaithful. It’s like Oh, I’m so sorry. It will never ever happen again. What can I do to make it up to you? Tell me. I’ll do anything! Please, don’t leave me! As if somehow the atoning can take place somewhere on the screen, what a glorious thing to realize it can’t, Oh, good! I’ll stop trying but, the guilt is coming about from trying to order and judge the world. All the preferences, all the hierarchies, all the things that I feel are the important stuff, the indifferent stuff and the unimportant stuff. All the ordering of thoughts; that’s where the guilt is coming from; then it makes sense to watch my mind and to try to say, Instead of ordering my own thoughts, instead of ranking things and making hierarchies in my mind, I would rather have a miracle which just sees illusions as illusions which has no order of difficulty because it doesn’t see one situation is any different than another. That’s a real alternative to ask for. That will bring about the end of guilt.

Participant: So, in that example that you gave with infidelity, ordering of thoughts is not specifically related to infidelity. It’s just ordering of thoughts in a general sort of way.

Speaker: Yes, it seems like in this world there are heinous crimes. People that are on death row who feel this tremendous sense of remorse and guilt as if there will never be a way out of it. They’ve done it. They’ve actually committed this heinous crime. When you get to the Course, it saying there is no difference between shop lifting and mass murdering. But, there is no difference between mass murdering and thinking about mass murdering. There’s no difference between mass murdering and thinking about shop lifting. Mass murderer/shop lifting; thinking about mass murdering and thinking about shop lifting; there’s no difference between thinking about shop lifting and acting out and mass murdering because there’s still an ordering of thoughts that are going on.

Participant: There’s not like a continuum of bad and worse.

Participant: In that perspective, there’s no difference between mass murder and thinking about going skiing. It doesn’t have to be in our moral code.

Participant: Right, it’s still ordering of thoughts. I like skiing or whatever.

Speaker: That’s what we were getting at this morning because Rhonda brought up some points. She said she wanted to go into this idea about private minds and private thoughts. She was saying it has to be more than just keeping a secret from someone.

The whole idea is everything that you perceive through the body’s eyes is the private world. The cosmos as you constructed it is a private world. So, it’s not about a personal thing like keeping a secret from somebody else in a personal sense. It goes much, much, much beyond that! It’s neat when you can just start to say, Ok, I see what I have to look at here. I’m not going to try to make amends and make it up to everybody I’ve ever hurt in my life, in a form sense, but I am going to have to change my perception. I’m going to have to let go of my thinking that seems to produce this world. It’s a mind overhaul, to use our title of the pamphlet that we’re working on.

“This is how all illusions came about. The one who makes them, does not see himself as making them and their reality does not depend on him. Whatever cause they have is quite apart from him and what he sees is separate from his mind. He cannot doubt his dreams’ reality because he does not see the part he plays to make them seem real. No one can wake from a dream the world is dreaming for him. He becomes a part of someone else’s dream.”

This would apply to a lot of the anger and frustration that you feel in terms of the world. It’s like how can I be the dreamer of the dream and why am I answering to my boss if I’m the dreamer of the dream. Why when he barks a command out, why do I jump? Am I a part of his dream? You become a part of someone else’s dream. The deeper I went into this the more it was this strong call and I was seeing, Wow, I’m being called to a very high calling. But, this is not going to be a calling where I’m going to be responding to anyone else’s bark, and every time there would be a little twinge of something in there then I would see, Wait a minute here. What am I doing? Am I the dreamer of the dream? To take an example, there have been people who have worked with the Course, study the Course and they start to make a livelihood out of the Course. Writing articles about the Course and then after a while they think it would be nice to get more access or to have articles read by more people. If I could just get an article in a national magazine on the Course, Oh, that would be good. Then you have the editor of the national magazine who has all these restrictions and requirements and dead lines. Guess what? You’re trying to be a teacher of God and you’re still jumping when that editor calls up and says, Hey, I’ve got to have this in by such and such. Postpone your vacation that you were going to take with your wife if you want that article in this issue. That’s just another example how what we’re all being called to is not responding to the bark of someone else. Coming to a place, like we were going into last night in our little session about relying on the Holy Spirit; if you’re going to respond to a voice, respond to that voice. The deeper you go into this the more you come to see, If I’m going to have a boss, why not make my only boss the Holy Spirit.

Participant: But, at the same time If I’m not clear enough that the Holy Spirit is coming through loud and strong, I’ve got to take steps in that direction. For me, it came in the form of the last formal job I had. I did not have a boss standing over me and telling me what to do and asking me where I was going and what I was doing. I had a boss who said do what ever you want. Come and go as you please. I like everything you’re doing so just keep doing more. Whatever you want to do and for me it was a symbol of moving in that direction, of having more autonomy and having less of this external, worldly voice telling me you have to do this, you have to do that. You have these dead lines, that kind of thing. I made it all up myself in the sense of this job. I set it all up. If there were any deadlines or things to be done it was because I decided I wanted to do it. It wasn’t anybody else standing over me and for me it was a great symbol of moving in that direction. But, what you’re talking about is what we’re moving towards.

Speaker: Um hm, which is important. You have to articulate that and clarify that.

Participant: Yes, you have to have a clear view and keep remembering what it is I’m looking towards what I’m moving towards, so that I have that clearly in my mind all the time. Also, to see where I perceive myself and say, Yes, I’m going to move in that direction. But, where I perceive myself right now it seems that I’m taking steps in that direction.

Speaker: Even the idea of consensus; some people do sit down with their boss and really go into things deeply. In some situations it doesn’t seem like that’s an option. But, I would say that when you come together for your logistical meetings to do what we’re doing the messengers of peace can be a very present symbol of what we’re talking about here. This is the model for that.

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