Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Projecting the World We Wish to See . . . and Then Belieiving It!

Foundation for Inner Peace
One of my first spiritual "guides" was an old-timer who was physically handicapped and relatively poor. Every day he would truck down to the local bookstore to read a daily excerpt from "A Course in Miracles" ("ACIM"). At one point, he asked me if I had ever read it. I hadn't at that point. Yet, soon after reading Eckhardt Tolle's "The Power of Now," I bought a copy of ACIM. (A reference to ACIM is one of only four footnotes in Tolle's spiritual masterwork.) Moreover, for a while I belonged to a wonderful group that met every Tuesday to read from, and discuss, ACIM.

ACIM is a profoundly insightful instructional book, consisting largely of a long and detailed basic text, a manual for teachers of ACIM, and a student workbook of (not surprisingly) 365 lessons. A year working with ACIM and contemplating its lessons and teachings, as so many have found, is a year well spent.

The aim of ACIM (like so many other inspired works and wisdom traditions, both ancient and modern) is to expose and slay the "ego" and its misperceptions, and thereby reunite the student in consciousness with the G_d which pervades and sustains our physical universe.

At some 1,400-odd pages, ACIM has both astonishing depth and breadth, and it provides the "forgiveness lessons" we all need to heal the separation which the ego and its false perceptions have created between humankind and the Godhead "in which we live and move, and have our being." This need for a fundamental correction of our egoic perceptions is clearly set out in this extract from the Preface to "A Course in Miracles."
"The world we see merely reflects our own internal frame of reference - the dominant ideas, wishes and emotions in our minds. "Projection makes perception" (Text, p. 455). We look inside first, decide the kind of world we want to see and then project that world outside, making it the truth as we see it. We make it true by our interpretations of what it is we are seeing. If we are using perception to justify our own mistakes - our anger, our impulses to attack, our lack of love in whatever form it may take - we will see a world of evil, destruction, malice, envy and despair. All this we must learn to forgive, not because we are being "good" and "charitable," but because what we are seeing is not true. We have distorted the world by our twisted defenses, and are therefore seeing what is not there. As we learn to recognize our perceptual errors, we also learn to look past them or "forgive." At the same time we are forgiving ourselves, looking past our distorted self-concepts to the Self That God created in us and as us."

I am reminded in Shakespeare's immortal words from Act II, Scene II of Hamlet: "Nothing is good nor bad, but our thinking makes it so."

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