“The lesson’s main theme is vision, which reappears throughout the workbook and ACIM itself. The focus here is on helping us exchange our way of looking at the world – judgment and separate interests – for the vision of Christ – forgiveness and shared interests.
If you took a college course in psychology, you may recall learning about figure and ground in perception – the background against which we perceive specific figures. Here, the ego’s figure – its focus – is perceiving attack; while the Holy Spirit’s perception of love or calls for love recedes in the background. Now we are taught to focus on the call for love, and our physical sight becomes the background for this new perception. Stated another way, we change our purpose from attacking sin to forgiving mistakes, and our perceptions shift accordingly.
“You made perception that you might choose among your brothers, and seek for sin in them. The Holy Spirit sees perception as a means to teach you that the vision of a holy relationship is all you want to see.” (T-21.III.6:5-6).
Again, we are not asked to deny what we see, feel, or think. We simply give them a different interpretation. This means we do not evaluate our sensory perceptions through the ego’s need to find guilt and then attack it, but rather see through Jesus’ kind vision of forgiveness.
It is important to recognize this is a process, so you do not deny your experiences and reflect what, paraphrasing Freud’s “flight into health,” we may call the “flight into spirituality.”
“How quiet is the time you give to spend with Him, beyond the world.” (3:2). Ken writes:
Jesus refers to the holy instant. All this, of course, occurs within the context of the workbook’s one-year training program, the purpose of which is to have us spend more and more time – even in the midst of our busy days – remembering the thought of correction in our minds. Our quietness, “in which the dream is done” (“The Quiet Dream,” The Gifts of God, page 65), allows forgiveness of our sins to be accepted.
Our treasure and rest are not found in the world, but in our right minds where we remember Jesus’ love and practice his lessons of forgiveness. Is not the treasure he holds out of us, he asks, worth the price of losing our guilt, judgment, and pain?
Figure and ground are now in proper perspective. The world is a classroom – the background – in which we learn the lessons of forgiveness – the foreground. The Holy Spirit’s judgment is that people either express love or call for it:
“There is but one interpretation of motivation that makes any sense. And because it is the Holy Spirit’s judgment it requires no effort at all on your part. Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing and help, regardless of the form it takes.” (T-12.I.3:1-4).
We are simply asked to give the body a different interpretation. Remember that the problem was not the tiny, mad idea of separation, but choosing the ego’s interpretation of it. Similarly, the problem is not our special relationships, but the ego’s interpretation of them – guilt, attack, and judgment. To Jesus, relationships become the classroom in which we learn his lessons of forgiveness and return home.
To say it in another way, we accept with gratitude that what is valueless reflects our arrogant attempt at being right, and the valuable is humbly realizing we were wrong.
The key phrase here is “gift of thankfulness” – our gratefully realizing we were wrong about everything we have perceived, thought about, and believe we understood.
Even if your physical eyes perceive disaster, your joy will increase because you will not let the ego judge it by dividing perception into victims and victimizers. You will realize that everyone involved in the situation – a happy or unhappy one – is a brother in Christ calling for the same love you are. Remembering this truth will increase your joy, because you will realize that nothing can come between you and the Love of God.
If you truly want to be happy and have Christ’s vision be our own, we have to release the ego. This is a course in undoing, for we cannot have vision until we are first aware of how the ego has viewed everything. Help in accomplishing this is the only meaningful request we can make of Jesus. Otherwise, we merely reinforce the dream. Thus we put away our trifling treasures – the different aspects of specialness – leaving an open mind in which God’s Love can be remembered, the space “where sin has left”.
Ken writes in response to the last paragraph, sentences 3-5:
One more time Jesus appeals to our selfishness saying: “You do not have to understand the metaphysics of ACIM, nor how one mind is all minds, one brother is all brothers. You need understand only that your way of living has brought you pain. If you ask my help, your suffering will turn to joy.” Yet, this is hardly easy. We need practice each and every moment during the day – “in earnest” – when tempted to place our gifts before his.
Yesterday was a bit of a blur for me.
Went to grocery store, long lines, two cashiers, mid-morning. Store installed new self-serve islands. The manager asked two women before me to follow him, they both declined. I thought that odd so I asked them again to assure I wasn’t butting in and they said, “Go ahead.” And I did follow him…to the self-serve island where there was utter chaos. Too many employees to assist, a new system with which none of us shoppers were familiar. A computer’s talking voice instructing what to do with produce that was utterly counterintuitive, etc. I had about 25 items, it’s normally designed for 10 or less. It took me twice as long to get out of there than it would had I waited in line.
But, I hadn’t heard the manager. I just followed him or I wouldn’t have jumped ship.
By the time I got into the car, I was oh, so rattled. So upset with myself for being impatient, critical of the process, even voicing my frustration to several other managers.
And I didn’t get the reassuring voice of calmness and kindness I wanted from any of them, nothing but what I interpreted to be blank stares.
I was sharing with fellow participants in the Wednesday study group yesterday that I must be ever so vigilant against making the disparity between where I am on a spiritual basis and where I want to be – into an IDOL. Judgment is dominant, severe judgment and the fact that I was as rattled about my internal process of criticism and condemnation disturbed me as much as the self-serve process/experience itself. I allowed the ego to get me twice, if you will. Throughout the process itself and after it had unfolded, I spent way too much energy crucifying myself for failing at practicing the Course. And, that, my dear friends, is what the ego does. Attack and defend, defend and attack. In this scenario, I attacked all the employees and process in my mind with ferocity and then turned it on myself. No wonder I am in high alert anxiety much of the time or was, getting better in that area now. Thankfully!
As Ken wrote above, we can all remember this is a process. No use dissecting my experience any further. As Jesus points out in this lesson, we are to let go of all trifling treasures, in my life, that would be my addiction to my identity of Gayle and my terror of experiencing the Love of God and all that would mean. How would I live, where would I go, what would I lose is still active in the wrong mind. Jesus is just patiently awaiting my decision to accept the Atonement. PERIOD.
I will close with more from Ken.
His comments follow my quoting from today’s lesson:
“There is a silence into which the world can not intrude. There is an ancient peace you carry in your heart and have not lost. There is a sense of holiness in you the thought of sin has never touched. All this today you will remember.” (4:1-4).
This first sentence is reminiscent of a line in Helen’s poem “Conversion”:
There is a silence into which God’s Word
Has poured an ancient meaning, and is still. (The Gifts of God, 61).
“All this” – silence, peace, and holiness – abides in our right minds. It is remembered when we recognize that our experiences in the world come from within. If it is pain, its source is in the wrong mind and becomes a clarion call: return to the mind where we chose falsely, and choose again. Thus will we remember the “ancient meaning” of the Atonement – God’s Word held in safekeeping by the Holy Spirit, patiently awaiting our return”.
Have a wonderful day, a joyful day!