Jun 18, 2010

Perception lies

I used to pride myself on my understanding of the metaphysics of the Course, which I got from years of listening to Ken Wapnick. Now I'm realizing that the experience has to come first and the intellectual understanding follows; not the other way around. Many concepts that I took for granted before, are losing their meaning. For example, I used to write that the Holy Spirit is the "memory of God within our mind." That was helpful to me because I couldn't see the Holy Spirit as separate from my own mind. But now as I think of "Holy Spirit" I don't really know what that is beyond a name that we use to symbolize healed perception.

My experience is that there is only me. There is nothing external. It was me identified with the ego before and now it's still me, but a lot less identified with the ego. That force within me that used to oppose has somehow been replaced by this other force that accepts. Attachment to outcome is replaced with awe of how perfect things are as they are. A desire to control, replaced with no desire to control or manipulate and trust that life goes on with or without my control and without it, it's a lot happier. Concern with the body, replaced with little concern with the body. Attachment to rules replaced with freedom from rules. This shift is internal. I act the same; I speak the same; only the purpose behind what I do is different.

I'm not equally clear every moment and I'm not sure why or how that works. I still notice ego reactions come and go. They are few and far between and as they are looked at in real time, they seem to lose their power quickly. The underworld of negativity that used to surface once in a while does not seem to be there now. There is more space in my mind so I can see the ego clearly and a gentle forgiving attitude accepts my state of mind as it is in the moment and offers no resistance to it.

I've been more aware of how our experience lies. For example, my experience is that I feel guided all the time. I seem to know exactly what I'm doing in the moment. All I have to do when an invitation to do something comes (an external invitation or my own thought that invites me to do something) is ask myself: "is this what I'm doing?" And I actually "feel" at that moment if this is an "honest" action for me, or not. An honest action is an action that requires no sacrifice. It's action that is consistent with the love that flows freely when the ego is not there; it's actually and simply, what I want to do at that specific moment. A dishonest action is an action that I would do with the ego's motives of seeking love, giving to get, manipulating or impressing others, etc. This "guidance" that I could swear comes from some higher power, is an illusion. A part of me knows there is no one out there to guide me, yet somehow; my experience is that I "feel" guided.

I was over at FACIM over the weekend and Ken (Dr. Kenneth Wapnick) said something that resonated with me. He said, as I've heard him say many times, that "the Holy Spirit does not send you messages…." (Basically, the HS does not tell you what to do; it doesn't guide you. How could it? It would have to first validate you as a separate self if it did.) Those messages that we experience, (or in my case the feeling that I am guided) "…….are just a metaphor for acceptance of what is." When we are in harmony with what is, everything "seems" perfectly orchestrated as if a higher power had its hand in it. The reality is that it's our perception that determines our experience of the world. When we perceive without judgment, the world appears to be perfect and we can't see a problem with anything. But even healed perception is an illusion. It's just a stepping-stone.

Lesson 169 says that "Grace is acceptance of the Love of God within a world of seeming hate and fear. By grace alone the hate and fear are gone, for grace presents a state so opposite to everything the world contains, that those whose minds are lighted by the gift of grace can not believe the world of fear is real. (W-169 italics and bold mine)

As we look at the world with total acceptance, we come to see that every situation is perfect because it's for us. The right minded way of looking at the world is that it's for our use. Its only purpose is to help us become aware of our true nature. We can use every situation to lead ourselves out of suffering or root us further into it. So divorce, disease, war, loss, death, don't happen to us; but for us. We also understand that for others so when things happen to our loved ones, we see them as opportunities and not catastrophes. By looking at the world with a clear mind, we empower everyone we come in contact with to make the choice for peace for themselves. By our own acceptance of what is, we let others know that they also can choose to rise above suffering.

W-135:18-1 reminds us of this, "What could you not accept, if you knew that everything that happens, all events, past, present and to come are gently planned by One Whose only purpose is your good?" And that One is you!




  1. Thank you. It's worth taking the time to write and post. Sweet to see the concordance of different wisdom traditions in your writing.

    One wonder: "the right minded way of looking at the world is..." Is that really the way you want to see it? I would think it's more that we look at the world the way we look at it; more "the way to look at the world that minimizes pain is ..." I supposed it's right, but I don't want to set myself up for the next layer, which could be thought of as thinking that not doing that is wrong. KWIM? (Know what I mean?)

  2. Thanks for your question, Dean. I think I know what you mean, but please correct me if I got it wrong.

    We definitely don't want to blame ourselves for looking at the world the wrong way. That would reinforce the reality of the "I" who is blaming itself; namely, the ego.

    The reference to the "right minded" way of looking at the world is from ACIM. The right mind is our mind when it has chosen forgiveness. The idea is that there are two ways of looking at the world; one is as cause (the ego's view) and the other as effect (the right mind's view). As an effect of the mind, the world becomes a teaching device. Our interpretation of the world shows us the content of the unconscious mind which is otherwise hidden. The daily work involves simply noticing how we interpret the world which is otherwise neutral. If we react to it, that's a sign that we are believing the world is cause and not an effect of the mind choosing to identify with the ego.

    Within ACIM it's important to look at the motivation behind our seeing (perceiving). The ego's purpose is to reinforce itself as separate, but we are not consciously aware of our decision to identify with the ego until we we see it in our reactions within the world.

  3. I like your post, it is filled with gentle detachment from illusions and clarity about who is guiding who. However, I take issue with Ken Wapnick whenever he says that the Holy Spirit does not talk to anyone and does not send messages to anyone. This is NOT true. He talks to me every day in a form I can accept. He is not that form, himself, but he temporarily creates an illusion of that form so that we can communicate. Even if that means hearing his quite voice within, in the form of what seems like `thoughts`, he creates those thoughts so that I may converse with him. He is not those thoughts any more than I am, but Ken really has this `thing`, maybe it's his background, of shutting out all possible personal communication with the Holy Spirit.

    The Holy Spirit isn't just some floating sea of spiritual goo that hangs out `somewhere invisible` undoing stuff beyond our awareness. He is a comforter. How exactly can he comfort us if he is not able to communicate with us in any way? Just because he communicates with us does not mean that he makes us real and believes in the reality of us as a separate self. That is incorrect. He only temporarily manifests illusions of communication with us so that we, who believe in those illusions, can interact with him. He doesn't *believe in* those illusions, he knows they are not real and he is completely detached from them. But he certain can `perceive` them and use them and orchestrate them as he wishes.

    I do agree that we ourselves project the world and we can project a world that is free from guilt and judgement, but `true perception` is still a perception based on judgement - as all perception is. Not a day goes by when the Holy Spirit doesn't explicitly talk to me, guide me, suggest to me what I might do, etc... however, the Holy Spirit's role isn't to just `tell you what to do`, his role is to empower you to reclaim the power you have within yourself to be who you really are. He can still talk to you while he guides you toward that. He can still offer to work with you and help you in whatever worldly thing you are doing, simply because he knows that your allowing him to do so improves your openness to him and thus to his opportunity to undo the ego. Not to say he has an ulterior motive as such, but his focus is always squarely on increasing our liberation from this nightmare and he can use *anything* for that purpose - any part of the dream can be manipulated by him in any way when it serves our highest purpose to do so.

  4. I think Ken Wapnick does not have a particularly metaphysical background, or at least not one that really included things like being open to talking to angels or acknowledging the existence of other dimensions or any of the other aspects which many `new age` kind of people would be more willing to acknowledge. Even if all those things are illusions, ultimately, our ego selves can still be open to accepting them when we're still in bodies. Ken does not. Ken is closed, in a kind of scientific analytical way, to accepting that such things are possible on the level of form. That is his belief system, and I think that clouds his teaching on the matter of what the Holy Spirit can and does do.

    It is useful for many people when Ken says not to expect the Holy Spirit to find you a parking spot, or to ask what color underwear to put on, etc, all these little things, but that does NOT mean that you can't ask, or that if you ask the Holy spirit would not respond. In fact he does respond. It's just that his response is carefully crafted to be personally appropriate for where you are at a the time and in a form you can most gently accept. Sometimes he does recommend things. For example sometimes I am not sure whether to drive down one set of streets or another. Sometimes I hear a pro-active guidance which way to go. Sometimes I have to explicitly ask. The kind of responses or the ground for responding are not fixed in stone at all. The Holy Spirit knows best and he knows when and in what form to respond.

    Ken is correct in making us beware the temptation to try to get the Holy Spirit to `take over` our lives while we still continue to be an ego, using him like some kind of servant to do our whim, like some powerful protector that we want to direct to fix stuff so that `we don't have to`. That indeed is a misuse of the relationship with him and is in appropriate. BUT, that does not mean that you should never communicate with the Holy Spirit at all, or that there is no point in doing so, or that he won't speak to you in some way. I think sometimes Ken can be a bit extreme and a bit black-and-white in his perceptions, and the way he presents those kind of statements can easily make it sound like it's out of context or implies a finality which isn't correct. He often does not go on to clarity the full context in which he is saying something like that, leaving the reader to draw wrong conclusions such as `you should never ask the Holy Spirit anything` or `the Holy Spirit will never talk to me`, etc... those kind of conclusions are not only harmful but quite sad in the blockages they erect between you any your Appointed Friend.

  5. I do agree that the Holy Spirit effectively `does nothing`, in the sense that there is no world, and really he only `undoes` what doesn't really exist, so doesn't really `do` something in an `existing` way. But WE still think that the world is real, and he knows that, and he knows exactly what is going on in our minds, and every thought we have, and everything we perceive. He sees the entire whole picture all at once, which includes all of these things, plus the ability to see what most of us cannot - the bits inbetween everything - the underlying carpet of heaven laid gently over the world. And he is perfectly positioned, therefore, to create - temporarily - whatever form of communication he sees fit that you can accept *where you are*.

    I highly encourage all of you to sincerely talk to the holy spirit and listen for his answers. As always you should keep in mind that he isn't there to `do this awakening for you`, or to act as your slave, or to carry out your every whim so that you can remain exactly the ego that you are.. but you certainly can ask about anything in your ego life `as you perceive it` and he can help you with it. He knows how and *why* he responds and in which way, which is the perfect way to help in your joining with God and your acceptance of your true self.

    Well anyway, waffling on a bit, but hopefully this is helpful to someone.

  6. Imaginaryhuman. I so appreciate your willingness to spend the time to express so openly and eloquently your views on the Holy Spirit. I am positive that what you wrote will be helpful to most students of ACIM.

    Though I think I know Ken Wapnick’s view of the Holy Spirit (I own 32 of his taped workshops and have participated in almost two dozen of his workshops in Temecula, CA), I’m not sure I experience the Course as he does because I can only understand it in relation to the concept I have of myself. So I won’t comment on his views. I would encourage those who are interested to go to Facim.org and find out for themselves.

    I can, however, speak from my personal experience. When I first began to study A Course in Miracles almost two decades ago, my experience of the Holy Spirit was very much what you describe. I experienced the Holy Spirit as a very real presence that talked to me and guided me personally. This was incredibly helpful and a very necessary step. This is what is so unique and wonderful about ACIM; like you say, it meets us where we are at. While we read the Course as bodies, the Course offers us the HS in a form that we can relate to.

    As we grow with the Course, our experience of the HS evolves with us. I have to thank Ken for encouraging me to look beyond what I think is real for me now. As we gradually let go of our identification with the body through our moment to moment practice of forgiveness, we begin to climb up the “ladder that separation lead us down”, and inevitably, as we climb higher up the ladder, our experience of the world, God and the Holy Spirit shifts accordingly. It could be that Ken is offering us the view of what we'll see just a few steps higher up the ladder.

    Thanks again for your comments. I would encourage my readers to share their thoughts about them here, or at your site.

  7. Hi A., great post! I'll add my two cents to the Holy Spirit discussion.

    I think it's important to remember that ACIM is a rewriting of Christianity. It's using those particular symbolic terms expressly for that purpose, not because they are the most "real."

    My take on the Holy Spirit is that it exists in relation to the human being in the same way that you exist, sleeping in your bed, in relation to the figures in your dreams. It is, to my mind, our larger inner Self. And thus, if we are open to it, we do receive "guidance," in the same way that a lucid dreamer can "remember" his "real" self and understand the dream as a dream. So it isn't anything "out there," because there IS no "out there."

    But I also feel that identity, or the experience of selfhood, is like those Russian nested dolls... ever larger and more multiple-in-one gestalts until it encompasses everything, and so is no-thing.

  8. Aileen, hi. Your post is entitled "Perception Lies" - true. In the course, perception is always contrasted with Knowledge, just as unreal and Real, ego and Spirit, fear and Love, the lie and Truth...

    Ironically, when people have near-death experiences they remember that the 'being of light' has told them to get 'Knowledge'... and so they enroll in college. :) But the Knowledge the course talks about is one you can't get in college, not in lectures, books - nor even in the course.

    "These exercises will not reveal Knowledge to you. But they will prepare the way to it." I know this may sound strange, given our Christian programming, for we were taught to not expect the kingdom to come until after we 'die', but I always support people in their quest to receive Knowledge now. It's here, now.

    "Why wait for heaven? Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes. The light is in them now. Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all. Light is not of the world, yet you who bear the light in you are alien here as well. The light came with you from your native home, and stayed with you because it is your own. It is the only thing you bring with you from Him Who is your Source. It shines in you because it lights your home, and leads you back to where it came from and you are at home."

    "What could God give but Knowledge of Himself?"... I have found that many good people who study & teach the course are stumped by Knowledge, yet it is the very foundation of the work.

    I personally cannot imagine reading the course without Knowledge - it would be so frustrating. And it's apparent to me that ACIM acts as a coach not only for the approach to Knowledge, but also for the practice of Knowledge.

    Knowledge makes the course very clear... and fun. I would encourage you to go for Knowledge and to do that, you will benefit from the course's wisdom - not judging, leaving fear behind, and so on. There is a goal... "The goal you accepted is the goal of Knowledge, for which you signified your willingness."

    I usually suggest that people read "Knowledge of God" when they see "knowledge" in the course... That is what it usually means.


    "A step beyond this holy place of forgiveness, a step still further inward but the one you cannot take, transports you to something completely different. Here is the Source of light; nothing perceived, forgiven nor transformed. But merely known.

    "This course will lead to Knowledge, but Knowledge itself is still beyond the scope of our curriculum. Nor is there any need for us to try to speak of what must forever lie beyond words. We need remember only that whoever attains the real world, beyond which learning cannot go, will go beyond it, but in a different way. Where learning ends there God begins, for learning ends before Him Who is complete where He begins, and where there is no end. It is not for us to dwell on what cannot be attained. There is too much to learn. The readiness for Knowledge still must be attained.

    "Love is not learned. Its meaning lies within itself. And learning ends when you have recognised all it is not. That is the interference; that is what needs to be undone. Love is not learned, because there never was a time in which you knew it not. Learning is useless in the Presence of your Creator, Whose acknowledgement of you and yours of Him so far transcend all learning that everything you learned is meaningless, replaced forever by the Knowledge of love and its one meaning."

    I wish you all the best. You seem to be a very sincere person. "The pure in heart shall see God."

  9. Patricia. Thank you for taking the time to give us your insight on "Knowledge" and A Course in Miracles. Blessings :o)

  10. Hi Aileen, my first comment. My thought was that you need to embrace both experiences.

    My own experience is that the world out there is real - we bump up against walls and attitudes and so on. However it is possible to respond flowing to/with it.

    Dismissing one part of our experience can get tricky - and judging the judge for doing it can get circular. As we are with our experiences I think integration can occur.

  11. Evan,

    Thank you for reading and for posting your comment. I agree with you. It is most important to embrace the world and not to bypass it. Dismissing or denying our experiences instead of facing them leaves us unable to look at the aspects of ourselves and our past that have caused us suffering and need to be faced.