Saturday, November 11, 2006

You are the mechanism of decision: With a glance, you make up an entire world: Part 1

From October 21, 1965 to October 10, 1968, Helen Schucman, the scribe of A Course in Miracles, wrote down the words of an internal voice, Jesus, the timeless voice of resurrected mind. (Master Teacher, Jesus is Speaking) These words constitute the Text of the Course.

At this point Helen had no idea that Jesus would dictate anything else. But over the next few months, she began to think that a Workbook would follow. From May 26, 1969 to February 18, 1971, she dutifully listened to Jesus speak to her the words of the Workbook. As Jesus says in His Introduction, The Text provides a theoretical foundation for the Workbook, a framework to make the exercises in this Workbook meaningful.

TheWorkbook is divided into two main sections, the first (Lessons 1-220) dealing with the undoing of the way you see now, and the second (Lessons 221-365) with the acquisition of true perception.

The purpose of the workbook is to train your mind in a systematic way to a different perception of everyone and everything in the world. (W-p1.Intro.1:1,3:1,4:1)

Where do you think Jesus begins this monumental task of mind training?

Jesus begins His lessons by confronting a truth that you take to be self-evident--that seeing is believing. You see in the world what you believe is there, and you believe it is there because you see it. This circular reasoning is your personal declaration of dependence. You hold this "truth" to be self-evident--you believe that the world of matter is external to your mind because you see it out there. This "truth" is buried in the very words we use. In fact, "evident" comes from the Latin, videre, meaning. "to see." The dictionary goes on to say, "Evident implies presence of visible signs that lead one self to a definite conclusion."

Jesus begins by forcing you to confront this premise with the title of His first lesson:

Nothing I see means anything.

This is where the undoing must begin, the dismantling of an entire belief system that you began to construct as a child with the positive reinforcement of those around you, particularly the adults. Here is the title to Lesson 2:

I have given everything I see all the meaning it has for me.

There is one sentence in Lesson 2 that stops me every time.

If possible, turn around and apply the idea to what was behind you. (1:5)

My God. . . what was behind you! So, I walked into the room, seeing this thing and that thing, and then I sat on the couch facing forward, looking out the window, and what I saw on the way in is not there now; it is not there until I turn around and look at it again!

We are only in Lesson 2, and Jesus is demonstrating to us that an object we believe to be in the external world is there only when we see it, evidently.

What was behind you, Dear Reader, is not there now.

This sentence came to mind again the other day when I watched a twenty-four minute film entitled, The Holographic Universe: Beyond Matter. (You can view it when you wish by clicking on the link at the end of this post.) Here are a few passages from the film relevant to us now, as we are engaged in the great undoing.

Man is conditioned right from the beginning of his life that the world he lives in has an absolute material reality. So he grows up under he effects of this conditioning and builds an entire life from this viewpoint.

At the instant of seeing, light clusters called photons travel from the object to the eye, where they are focused on the retina. Here rays are turned into electrical signals and turned into neurons at the back of the brain. The act of seeing actually takes place in this center of the brain. All the images we view in our lives are actually experienced in this dark place of a few cubic centimeters.

When we say we see, we actually see the effects of the rays being converted into electrical signals in our brain.

We view a colorful and bright world in our brain only as electrical signals.

We see an electrical copy and assume that this copy is real matter.

Perception is a mirror, not a fact. (W-p2.304.3)

You see what you are looking with.

Nothing I see means anything.

In a few cubic centimeters in the back of your brain you make up an entire world with just a glance. That's it. What is captured in that glance is all there is of the evident world. And just because you see it does not mean it exists; it just means that you made it up by the interaction of your visual apparatus, i.e., the electrical activity of the brain and the stimulus of the objects, interpreted by your thoughts.

“Perceive derives from the Latin, percipere, meaning, “to take thoroughly.” We take meaning, thoroughly, from what appears to be external by our interpretive thoughts.

Yet, Jesus tells us, These thoughts do not mean anything. (Lesson 7)

Jesus forces us to focus on the one thing that we can tangibly grasp, a glance.

Look around you, this time quite slowly. Try to pace yourself so that the slow shifting of your glance from one thing to another involves a fairly constant time interval. (W-p.1.12:2,3)

Each practice period should begin with a slow repetition of the idea for today (I do not know what anything is for) followed by looking about you and letting your glance rest on whatever happens to catch your eye, near or far, "important" or "unimportant," "human" or "nonhuman." (W-p1.25.6:2)

Jesus teaches us to let everything else go and just focus on one glance at a time. This makes the great task manageable.

Here are more passages from the film.

The bird we see is only an interpretation electrical signals in our brain. In reality this bird is not in the world but in our brain. If the sight nerves traveling to our brain were disconnected, we would no longer see the bird.

The only reality we cope with is the world of perceptions within our minds.

We believe in a world of objects just because we perceive them.

Our perceptions are only ideas in our minds, so objects are nothing but ideas, and these ideas are nowhere but in our minds. We are beguiled by our perceptions.

A glance is simply a combination of the electrical interaction between our brains and objects, and our interpretation of these impulses. This involves interpretation, associations, and judgment.

The following cartoon from The New Yorker humorously demonstrates how our interpretations and judgments determine what we see.

You see what you are looking with.

I do not understand anything I see in this room. (Lesson 3)

The point of the exercises is to help you clear your mind of all past associations, to see things exactly as they appear to you now, and to realize how little you really understand about them. It is therefore essential that you keep a perfectly open mind, unhampered by judgment, in selecting the things to which the idea for the day is to be applied. For this purpose one thing is like another; equally suitable and therefore equally useful.(W-p1.3.2)

These thoughts do not mean anything. (Lesson 4)

Merely glance casually around the world you perceive as outside yourself, then close your eyes and survey your inner thoughts with equal casualness. Try to remain equally uninvolved in both, and to maintain this detachment as you repeat the idea throughout the day. (W-p1.33.2)

The arbitrariness of what is seen in the physical universe is a function of the seeing apparatus interacting with the incoming data. This was brought home to me in a recent article in Sunday's Parade magazine entitled, Seeing the World as Your Pets Do. In this case, the number of color receptors in the vision apparatus determines what is seen.

If your dog could tell you what he sees, he'd probably describe a fuzzy world of blues and yellows in the daytime. In dim light, dogs can see more shades of grays than we can. Our eyes are better at discerning colorful details in daylight. We also can see things quite close up while dogs cannot. What makes the difference? Simply put, humans have more color receptors than dogs.

In contrast, your cat, a nighttime hunter, can see clearly in conditions six times darker than we can. Those vertical slit pupils allow a cat's eyes to take in more light at night. Given the type and number of their color receptors, cats probably view the world in a pastel palette and don't see some colors at all. An apple tree laden with red fruit, for example, would appear light-colored with dark apples to your cat. (Parade, October 15, 2006, p. 14)

Here are more passages from the film.

The act of seeing actually takes place in the center in the brain. All the images we view, and all the events we experience in our lifetime, are actually experienced in this tiny and dark place. Both the film you are now watching and the boundless landscape that you see when you gaze at the horizon actually fit in this place of a few cubic centimeters.

When we say we see, we actually observe only the electrical signals in our brain.

The brain is sealed to light and its interior is absolutely dark. It is never possible for the brain to contact with light itself.

You can see what we are up against. We are always only looking at a screen in the back of our heads, viewing our projections, and since we find it self-evident that seeing is believing, we have a lot of work to do. But remember, Jesus is providing us with a systematic mind training.

In Lesson 7, I see only the past, is a summary of the first six lessons.

This idea is particularly difficult to believe at first. Yet it is the rationale for all of the preceding ones.

1) It is the reason why nothing that you see means anything.
2) It is the reason why you have given everything you see all the meaning that it has for you.

3) It is the reason why you do not understand anything you see.

4) It is the reason why your thoughts do not mean anything, and why they are like the things you see.

5) It is the reason why you are never upset for the reason you think.

6) It is the reason why you are upset because you see something that is not there.
All that is required is that we practice with determination and perseverance. Along the way, analogies are useful. For example, We are such stuff as dreams are made on. (The Tempest) Here is another passage from the film.

If we are able to live easily in a dream the same thing can equally be true of the world we live in during our waking dream. When we wake up from a dream, there is no logical reason in not believing that we have entered a longer dream that we consider life. The reason we consider our sleeping dream to be unreal is nothing but a product of our prejudices.

When we begin to experience the unreality of our waking life, we begin to see how much it resembles our sleeping dreams. This analogy is so helpful because when you are lying in bed asleep, dreaming, you cannot very well blame anyone else for your dream, and no one else could possibly be dreaming your dream. It is a a very private affair. Your waking dream is no different. You are going it alone, and you are totally responsible.

I am responsible for what I see.
I choose the feelings I experience,
and I decide upon the goal I would achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for,
and receive as I have asked. (T-21.11.2:3-5)

This is my statement of total responsibility for accepting my declaration of dependence on the premise that seeing is believing.

Good! Since you are totally responsible, you can learn to wake up to the truth of what you are, and that is also the value of the sleeping dream analogy. When you first wake up from a sleeping dream, it takes a moment to shake off the realness of it. But when you realize it was a dream, it is totally gone. The waking dream also fades in the moment of realization that seeing is not believing, and interpretation is not real. When you realize this, you simply shift to another place in your mind that is always, already present. You become aware of a state of mind that is your natural inheritance. When you by-pass, or forgive, the "I" of that interpreter, you become aware of "I" as created by God.

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me. (Lesson 201)

I was created as the thing I seek. (Lesson 318:5)

I remain as God's son, even though I wandered off into believing that what I was seeing was real, and it was simply a projection of my brain, having no source in reality.

God is my Source. I cannot see apart from Him. (Lesson 43)

I cannot see apart from God, and I can learn to see with true perception, and that is where Jesus is leading me.

You see what you are looking with.

What we are searching for is the one that sees truly. (St. Francis)

This is truly the secret beyond matter.

We are nearing the end of Part 1. In order to undo the way you see now. Jesus necessarily had to make us aware of the fact that we are now seeing falsely. The good thing is that the way we see now, though false, can be used in such a way that we can learn to see with vision, the acquisition of true perception.

I urge you now to click on the link below to view the film, and I offer this caveat. The last four minutes attributes everything to Allah. Since I am unfamiliar with this tradition, I cannot comment. Rather, I do invite you to read the first four stanzas from the inspiring hymn written by the Swedish pastor, Carl Boberg in 1886, How Great Thou Art.

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power through-out the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Part 2 clearly and forcefully demonstrates how to forgive a glance and learn to see with vision.
To see the film, please click on the link below:

Click here to Watch Video

You are the mechanism of decision: Forgiving a glance and seeing with vision--Part 2

Now we know what we are up against, and it is nothing, simply electrical activity firing in a few cubic centimeters in the back of your head. This is classic problem solving. Once the problem is clearly defined, it can then be solved. Jesus tells us that the problem is the way you see now, and you solve it by forgiving it and acquiring true perception. Your current way of seeing exists for only a moment, and this moment is for giving away. Now that is forgiveness.

To be told that what you do not see is there (true perception) sounds like insanity. It is very difficult to become convinced that it is insanity not to see what is there, and to see what is not there instead. You do not doubt that the body's eyes can see. You do not doubt the images they show you are reality. Your faith lies in the darkness, not the light. How can this be reversed? For you it is impossible, but you are not alone in this. (W-p1.91.3)

Fortunately there is a plan, and you are not alone. The Holy Spirit provides the bridge between the illusions that you weave in your pea-brain and the magnificence of what you are.

The Holy Spirit mediates between illusions and the truth. Since He must bridge the gap between reality and dreams, perception leads to knowledge through the grace that God has given Him, to be His gift to everyone who turns to Him for truth. Across the bridge that He provides are dreams all carried to the truth, to be dispelled before the light of knowledge. There are sights and sounds forever laid aside. And where they were perceived before, forgiveness has made possible perception's tranquil end.

From knowledge, where He has been placed by God, the Holy Spirit calls to you, to let forgiveness rest upon your dreams, and be restored to sanity and peace of mind. Without forgiveness will your dreams remain to terrify you. And the memory of all your Father's Love will not return to signify the end of dreams has come. (7. What is the Holy Spirit? 1,4)

To understand exactly how the Holy Spirit teaches us to forgive requires a close look at the mind.

The term mind is used to represent the activating agent of spirit, supplying its creative energy. (C-1.1:1)

Spirit is the part that is still in contact with God through the Holy Spirit, Who abides in this part but sees the other part (the firing in the brain) as well. (C-1.3:1)

Even though there is only Spirit, we find ourselves referring to the individual mind, so that we can talk about what seems to be going on in our dream.

The other part of the mind is entirely illusory and makes only illusions. (C-4:1) This part is called wrong-mindedness.

Wrong-mindedness listens to the ego and makes illusions; perceiving sin and justifying anger, and seeing guilt, disease and death as real. (C-6:1) And, by now, you know where this is going on--a very, small, dark place in the mind.

Right-mindedness listens to the Holy Spirit, forgives the world, and through Christ’s vision sees the real world in its place. (C-5:1)

To compartmentalize the mind in this fashion makes it easier to understand undoing and true perception. The third term we are going to employ is consciousness.

Consciousness is the receptive mechanism, receiving messages from above or below; from the Holy Spirit or the ego. (C-7:3)

This is the answer to St. Francis’s search, What we are searching for is the one that sees truly. You are the one that sees; you are consciousness, you are as God created you. This is what it means to say that you are God's Son. I am the holy Son of God Himself. (Lesson 191) As consciousness, you constantly make decisions about whether to listen to the voice of wrong-mindedness, the ego, or to listen to the voice of right-mindedness, the true Self. That is why consciousness is the mechanism of decision. A mechanism is defined as "a process, technique, a system for achieving a result, responsible for action." This refers to an action of the mind, shifting from wrong- to right-mindedness, or unfortunately, from right to wrong, as well. When you shift from dreams to truth, you are cutting away illusions as if they never existed, and they never did. “Decision” comes from the Latin, decidere, “literally to cut off.”

Your mind is the means by which you determine your own condition, because mind is the mechanism of decision. It is the power by which you separate or join, and experience pain or joy accordingly. (T-8.IV.5:7,8)

A word is to the breath as a thought is to consciousness. This means that when you say a word it is carried by the breath, and when you have a thought, it is carried by the consciousness.

This is the consciousness that Jesus addresses in the Course. It is this awareness that often seems suspended between two choices, two voices, the ego’s, or the Holy Spirit’s, thoughts from below, or above. Throughout the Course, Jesus addresses this consciousness by using the pronoun “you.” In fact, the pronoun “you” appears in the Course 17,710 times. As we learned in grade school, a pronoun stands on behalf of a noun. Each time you come across “you,” you have to ask yourself, this "you" is standing on behalf of what noun, what exactly is the reference point?

There are only three choices: 1) consciousness completely allied with the noun, ego, seeing through the ego’s eyes; 2) consciousness standing in the middle as the noun phrase, mechanism of decision; and 3) consciousness joined, united with the noun, Self, seeing through the eyes of Christ.

In the beginning of the mind training, the “you” is allied completely with the ego, unaware that there is another choice. Here is an example. The pronoun “you” is used 14 times, and in each case the reference point is the unholy alliance of consciousness with the ego.

1) consciousness/ego:

As you look with open eyes upon your world, it must occur to you that you have withdrawn into insanity. You see what is not there, and you hear what makes no sound. Your manifestations of emotions are the opposite of what the emotions are. You communicate with no one, and you are as isolated from reality as if you were alone in all the universe. In your madness you overlook reality completely, and you see only your own split mind everywhere you look. (Just as the cow sees the frog as a cow, and the frog sees the cow as a frog, so do you see your self, or Self, wherever you look). Yet. . .God calls you and you do not hear, for you are preoccupied with your own voice. And the vision of Christ is not in your sight, for you look upon yourself alone. (T-13.V.6)

When you decide on behalf of the ego, you are making up an entire world by cutting away the Truth.

By this (decision) you carve it out of unity. (W-p1.184.1:3)

You see something where nothing is, and see as well nothing where there is unity. (W-p1.184.2:3)

Perception is a mirror, not a fact. (W-p2.304.3)

You see what you are looking with.

In the next paragraph, the point of reference of “you” (10 times) is the mechanism of decision.

2) consciousness/mechanism of decision:

Little child, would you offer this to your Father? For if you offer it to yourself, you are offering it to him. And he will not return it, for it is unworthy of you because it is unworthy of him. Yet he would release you from it and set you free. His sane Answer tells you what you have offered yourself is not true, but his offering to you has never changed. You who know not what you do can learn what insanity is, and look beyond it. It is given you to learn how to deny insanity, and come forth from your private world in peace. (T-V.7:1-7)

The Holy Spirit serves as a bridge by helping you decide to overlook, forgive the thoughts of the ego, and join with the true Self. In the following passage, Jesus demonstrates this joining. The reference point for “you” (8 times) is joined with the Christ.

3) consciousness/Self:

Do not seek vision through your eyes, for you made your way of seeing that you might see in darkness, and in this you are deceived. Beyond this darkness, and yet still within you, is the vision of Christ, Who looks on all in light. Your "vision" comes from fear, as his from love. And he sees for you, as your witness to the real world. He is the Holy Spirit's manifestation, looking always on the real world, and calling forth its witnesses and drawing them to you. He loves what he sees within you, and he would extend it. And he will not return unto the Father until he has extended your perception even unto him. And there perception is no more, for he has returned you to the Father with him. (T-13.V.9)

Dear Reader, all you are asked to do, and it is everything, is to practice becoming aware of your responsibility as a mechanism of decision to decide for God, cutting away from, disengaging from, the ego by asking the Holy Spirit for help to overlook, forgive, the images firing in a few cubic centimeters in a very dark place in your mind, and drawing nigh onto your God, learning to forgive one glance at a time.

Jesus directly addresses “you” as the mechanism of decision in the following passage, asking whether you will decide to be hostage to the ego or host to God?

I asked you earlier, "Would you be hostage to the ego or host to God? " Let this question be asked you by the Holy Spirit every time you make a decision. For every decision you make does answer this, and invites sorrow or joy accordingly. When God gave Himself to you in your creation, He established you as host to Him forever. He has not left you, and you have not left Him. All your attempts to deny His magnitude, and make His Son hostage to the ego, cannot make little whom God has joined with Him. Every decision you make is for Heaven or for hell, and brings you the awareness of what you decided for. (T-15.111.5)

Practice right now. Look up from what you are doing and take one glance. Consider the images and the interpretations and judgments for a moment, and then ask the Holy Spirit for help to let them all go. Now, look up, take a glance and this time simply look through the images, not even interpreting or judging, and experience the holy instant of being in the world, but not of the world, seeing with Christ’s vision, hosting God.

The Holy Spirit looks through me today. (Lesson 295)

Christ asks that He may use my eyes today,
and thus redeem the world. He asks this gift
that He may offer peace of mind to me,
and take away all terror and all pain.
And as they are removed from me, the dreams
that seemed to settle on the world are gone.
Redemption must be one. As I am saved,
the world is saved with me. For all of us
must be redeemed together. Fear appears
in many different forms, but love is one.

My Father, Christ has asked a gift of me,
and one I give that it be given me.
Help me to use the eyes of Christ today,
and thus allow the Holy Spirit's Love
to bless all things which I may look upon,
that His forgiving Love may rest on me.

This is a required Course.

Practice. Practice. I urge you to take 20 minutes right now to read the review of the first 50 lessons of A Course in Miracles.

Just click on the link below.

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