Mind/Consciousness: ACIM’s Position compared to those by Descartes and two contemporary Male Writers.

What is consciousness; and what is mind are very old questions. ACIM’s teaching about mind/consciousness is simple compared to philosophers and scientists. They eventually all admit that they really don’t know. Daniel Dennett has a position: discussed in his recently published very long book (considered later).

ACIM presents its concepts about mind and consciousness in the Introduction of “The Clarification of Terms.”  Paragraph seven there has a clear definition of Mind/Spirit. Brief discussions of consciousness are also in the text, Workbook and Psychotherapy Pamphlet, but the gist of it is in the “Clarification of Terms.”  Following is my summary of each of the five paragraphs of its Introduction.

1. ACIM is not philosophical. It corrects perception by achieving the Atonement through forgiveness. Individual consciousness is irrelevant as it represents the original error or sin which ACIM teaches to overlook. 2. Terms cause controversy, which can be overlooked. A unified theology is impossible. A unified experience is possible, which is ACIM’s purpose. 3. ACIM works in the ego centered separation to guide us on our path back to God (the Atonement). ACIM answers with simple ideas. The ego doubts so asks questions. 4. The ego demands answers which can’t be given, like how did the impossible Happen. Only experience can inform. Don’t let theology delay us. 5. Early in ACIM structure is examined then the central teaching emerges.

Here is the final sentence of the Introduction of the Clarification of Terms.

Since you have asked for clarification, however, these are some of the terms that are used. [there are six. Mind-Spirit is First]

The seven paragraph section of MIND–SPIRIT begins with the following.

The term [mind] is used to represent the activating agent of spirit, supplying its creative energy. When the term is capitalized it refers to God or Christ (IE, the Mind of God or the Mind of Christ). [Spirit] is the Thought of God which He created like Himself. The unified spirit is God’s one Son, or Christ.

This excerpt I often quote from Text Chapter 3 reinforces the above.

The statement “God created man in his own image and likeness” needs reinterpretation. “Image” can be understood as “thought,” and “likeness” as “of a like quality.” God did create spirit in His Own Thought and of a quality like to His Own. There [is] nothing else. [T-3.V.7.1-4]

Paragraphs two through six outlines the Course’s teaching regarding our split mind, consisting of the Right and wrong mind, and how the Right mind connects us to the Holy Spirit and the wrong mind to the ego. The Course’s succinct definition of consciousness is in Paragraph seven.

7. In this world the only remaining freedom is the freedom of choice; always between two choices or two voices. Will is not involved in perception at any level, and has nothing to do with choice. [Consciousness] is the receptive mechanism, receiving messages from above or below; from the Holy Spirit or the ego. Consciousness has levels and awareness can shift quite dramatically, but it cannot transcend the perceptual realm. At its highest it becomes aware of the real world, and can be trained to do so increasingly. Yet the very fact that it has levels and can be trained demonstrates that it cannot reach knowledge*. (my emphasis) *In the Course the word knowledge refers to the non-duality of Heaven.

The important first phrase in the above, ”In this world,” places consciousness in the separation and thus is illusory. It is a construct we make in our separated split mind with which we decide to choose to listen to either the ego or the Holy Spirit.

Following is a brief discussion of writings by Rene Descartes, Daniel Dennett and Antonio Damasio to contrast them with ACIM’s simple and clear view of mind and consciousness.

In, From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds (W.W. Norton, NY 2017), Dennett (mentioned above) traces at extraordinary length (476 pages) what his sub-title indicates: how he believes our minds and/or consciousness evolved along with the world.  Throughout his book Dennett excoriates Descartes for his philosophy because (referring to it as the Cartesian wound), he separates the mind from the body. Dennett ends his book with a jumble of assertions and then a synopsis about how Darwinian Evolution played a part in humankind’s journey from Bacteria to Bach and back. He includes this reference to Hume’s account of our knowledge of causation.

We can then see human consciousness as a user-illusion, not rendered in the Cartesian Theater (which doesn’t exist) but constituted by the representational activities of the brain coupled with the appropriate reactions to those activities. [p.412]

Does Dennett, therefore, believe that our [worldly] existence is an illusion, as does ACIM?   On the next page he declares,

This closes the gap, The Cartesian wound, but only as sketch of this all-important unification is clear at this time.

I find little support in his Book for his “Sketch.” During it he reminds us of Orgel’s Second Rule, ”Evolution is cleverer than you are.”  ACIM, though, teaches that we use our ego-centric wrong mind to cause the evolution of our illusory separated world. Thus, aren’t we more cleaver than evolution?

Dennett concludes his book with a lengthy discussion of how AI may influence our learning of how the brain is the mechanism for our activity.

The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, includes a discussion of Descartes’ “Discourse on the Method.”  The “Discourse” is presented there as, “the reasoning by which Descartes establishes the existence of God and the human soul.”  Part 5 of that article, Descartes’ Response to the Mind-Body Problem, gives an interpretation which calls to question common beliefs about his separation of the mind and the body. Here is the first Descartes quote in that article.

These questions presuppose amongst other things an explanation of the union between the soul and the body, which I have not yet dealt with at all. [p.11]

A “less mechanistic” view of Descartes thought follows. The mind and body work together, a different view of Descartes which lead the article’s author to state this.

…both are modes (mind and body) of a whole and complete human being. [And later] … the mind insofar as it is a thinking thing is a complete substance, while the body insofar as it is an extended thing is a complete substance, but each taken individually is only an incomplete human being. [p.16]

In the Fourth Replies, Descartes further argues,

that a substance may be complete insofar as it is a substance but incomplete insofar as it is referred to some other substance together with which it forms yet some third substance. This can be applied to mind and body as follows: the mind insofar as it is a thinking thing is a complete substance, while the body insofar as it is an extended thing is a complete substance, but each taken individually is only an incomplete human being.

These statements reveal a different and more complex interpretation of Cartesian thought than Dennett’s, and also Antonio Damasio’s.  In his book Descartes’s Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain (G.P, Putnam & Sons, N.Y.1994.), Damasio writes that the error is,

The abyssal separation between body and mind… specifically: the separation of the most refined operations of the mind from the structure of a biological organism. p. 249-250

Yet, in this passage page 252 Damasio could seem to agree with Descartes’ writing in his “Discourse.”

The truly embodied mind I envision, however, does not relinquish its most refined levels of operation, those constituting its soul and spirit. This is of course the difficult job, it is not: to move the spirit from its nowhere pedestal to a somewhere place, while preserving its dignity and importance…

The “somewhere place,” according to ACIM, is Heaven. There its dignity and importance need no preserving. “There is nothing else.”

This discussion is a prime example of the difference between the unity of Heaven and the dualistic nature of the separation where our made up world rules. Discourse, books, scholar’s papers, have, through the ages, delved into the unknown characteristics of the mind and consciousness. Jesus in his Course In Miracles does it simply in far fewer words.

The reason this course is simple is that truth is simple.
Complexity is of the ego, and is nothing more than the ego’s attempt to obscure the obvious. [T-14.IV.6]

The simple truth referred to is: we are united in spirit with God in Heaven. That is our most helpful concept to remember here in our daily life.

Adam and Eve and A Course in Miracles

Recent articles about the Adam and Eve Myth and the ancient Mesopotamian Gilgamesh story confirm their common content: God sends people who disobey him to an earth filled with strife, misery, sweat and tears. In the Biblical Myth God condemns Adam and Eve to a life of struggle, with the sweat of their brows. Many who discuss the fall of Adam and Eve ask why a compassionate and loving God would condemn his children to such lives.

A Couse in Miracles has a similar concept: we separated from God in Heaven and endure in a world filled with contradictions and complexity. But the Course teaches us that God did not cause the separation, we did, so Jesus provides us with this kind and comforting response.

God forgives and loves us.

One passage of many where that is expressed is at the very end of Chapter 16 in the New Lord’s Prayer: especially this sentence.

What can there be in us that needs forgiveness when Yours is perfect?

There is nothing in us which needs God’s forgiveness because our separation from God is an illusion.

And in this sentence the idea is strengthened.

The sleep of forgetfulness is only the unwillingness to remember Your forgiveness and Your Love.

Here “the sleep” is our dream in which we remembered not to laugh at a “…tiny mad idea,” that caused us to split our mind into the right and wrong mind and separate from God. Forgetfulness and unwillingness to remember makes the illusion.

One passage where Jesus discusses these concepts is in section VIII, The Hero  of The Dream. [the bodyEspecially the final section of Text Chapter27, The healing of the Dream.      Here is paragraph 6.

Let us return the dream he gave away unto the dreamer, who perceives the dream as separate from himself and done to him. Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects. Together, we can laugh them both away, and understand that time cannot intrude upon eternity. It is a joke to think that time can come to circumvent eternity, which [means] there is no time. [my emphasis]

Paragraphs 7-12 of Chapter 27 Section VIII include helpful thoughts which lead to the following. When we learn that we do all of this to ourselves (our separation from God), and realize we keep it secret from ourselves we can let go of this vale of tears and sweat, remember to laugh, and know that the illusion of time “cannot intrude upon eternity.”

Jesus’ gives us a kind way to let go the negative history of the Biblical Genesis myth and the Gilgamesh story.

He reminds us of God’s forgiveness and love.

That reminder helps us cope with our time here in the separation.

A GREEK WAY OF LOOKING AT THE EGO?

Yesterday morning I read a short article by Ann Finkbeiner: The Atreides vs the Ancient Greeks.*  Finkbeiner, because she read Colm Toibin’s book, House of Names, asks why Greek citizens watched plays by Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides about the dysfunctional Greek Orestes family.

The ancient stories were about that families’ involvement in incest, murder, human sacrifice, and cannibalism: certainly a revolting list.

Finkbeiner wonders why/how Greeks, the founders of civilization, “told these terrible stories over and over.” Translator, “Robert Fagles, calls it an ‘inherited infection.’

Finkbeiner concludes her essay as follows.

But maybe the ancient Greeks told these stories as a way for intelligent, perceptive, civilized people to remember the lethality if their heritage, to not forget the alternative to law and rationality is real, alive and always present.

My take is that the dramas gave them a way to look at the ego. And Shakespeare’s tragedies and histories, Macbeth certainly, do the same thing for us.

In my post Monday I offered a way to do the same thing using Course ideas. Look, stop, and listen to our ego to affirm its presence and so be able to listen to the Holy Spirit for help to act in a kind and living manner. That is a much easier and effective way to deal with the ego than sitting through a two hour or so violent drama.

*Finkbeiner’s article can be found on the web site, The Browser.

OUR EGO

How can discussing the ego help us to cope with our everyday lives?

Accept that it is part of our split mind. Then we are able to accept the Holy Spirit’s help to thwart the ego’s presence and influence. It’s a fire in our mind which leads us to act in ways which are outside of normal behavior. Denying that leads us deeper into the illusion of the separation.

Here in California one spark from a chain dragging on a truck towing a trailer set a fire that burned for weeks. Within seconds the dry grass on the side of the road ignited and the fire went wild. Such is the case for our ego.

We have many current and distressing examples of ego gone wild.  Our current president displays bouts of egocentric behavior well outside normal behavior for any citizen, much less a president. Wild egos are displayed when men use guns to murder our fellow citizens.

It is essential to acknowledge that all of us are capable of that sort of conduct. It usually starts with what we think is insignificant egocentric behavior. The Course teaches that what we think is a petty display of ego is the same as that which results in murder. It applies the same way as the first miracle principle, but is a reverse way.

There is no order of difficulty in miracles. One is not “harder” or “bigger” than another. They are all the same.”

Likewise: there is no order of the effects of the ego. They are all the same. Dissing a driver who cuts us off in traffic is the same a murder. As we all know, sadly, road rage has indeed led to murder.

When we see the ego as an integral part of our split mind can then learn how it functions. That is an integral part of A Course in Miracles’ curriculum.

The best explanation of Course teaching about the ego I have found is in Chapter 2, The Separation from God, from Ken Wapnick’s book, The Message of A Course in Miracles. I won’t summarize it because Ken’s Chapter is a complex description of how we split our mind to make the separation. I do though recommend it highly. Go to facim.org to order it. I include the following Course passage Ken includes in his chapter because it supports my position that we need to accept that the ego is part of our split mind.

[Do not be afraid of the ego.] It depends on your mind, and as you made it by believing in it, so you can dispel it by withdrawing belief from it. Do not project the responsibility for your belief in it onto anyone else, or you will preserve the belief. When you are willing to accept sole responsibility for the ego’s existence you will have laid aside all anger and all attack, because they come from an attempt to project responsibility for your own errors. But having accepted the errors as yours, do not keep them. Give them over quickly to the Holy Spirit to be undone completely, so that all their effects will vanish from your mind and from the Sonship as a whole. [T-7.VIII.5.]

Here we see how we project egocentric thoughts, and how acknowledging that leads us to the part of our mind where the Holy Spirit helps us to dismiss them, not only in our mind, but in the minds of all of our brothers/sisters here in this insane illusory separation.

Following is the first paragraph of the Introduction to Text Chapter 11, GOD OR THE EGO. It includes more very helpful passages that help us to understand and transcend egocentric thoughts.

Either God or the ego is insane. If you will examine the evidence on both sides fairly, you will realize this must be true. Neither God nor the ego proposes a partial thought system. Each is internally consistent, but they are diametrically opposed in all respects so that partial allegiance is impossible. Remember, too, that their results are as different as their foundations, and their fundamentally irreconcilable natures cannot be reconciled by vacillations between them. Nothing alive is Fatherless, for life is creation. Therefore, your decision is always an answer to the question, “Who is my father?” And you will be faithful to the father you choose. [T-11.in.1.]

“Who is my Father” is a way of asking, “how do I feel?” How do I know if I am listening to the ego or the Holy Spirit? If I feel at peace I am listening to the Holy Spirit. If I am not at peace then I’m listening to the ego.

The old warning, “Stop, look and listen” is a simple and clear way to deal with the ego. But I’ll change the order. “Look, stop, and listen.” Look at the ego, stop and affirm its presence and listen to the Holy Spirit. This process will help us to recognize our ego and turn to the Holy Spirit for help, set it aside, and act in a kind and loving manner

LIFE

In a tense scene from Moonstruck (one of my favorite movies), Loretta meets Ronnie for the first time in his cellar bakery.  Loretta tells him his brother Johnny wants him to come to their wedding.  Ronnie then exclaims,

I have no life. What is life? They say that bread is life. I bake bread, bread, bread. I sweat and shove this stinking dough in and out of this hot hole in the wall, but I have no life. 

He tells Loretta how his brother caused him to lose his hand and then his bride; blaming Johnny for his life without a loving relationship.   Ronny believes that having a life here must include a love partner.  Yet, in A Course In Miracles we learn that life does not reside here in our illusory world of being separate from God.  Life resides only on the level of  God’s Love in Heaven.

Communication with God is life.
Nothing without it is at all. [T-14.IV.10]

The above two sentences mirror my oft cited passage from T-3.

God did create spirit in His Own Thought and of a quality like to His Own. There [is] nothing else. [T-3.V.7.3]

In Manual for Teachers Question 20 is, What is the Peace of God? paragraph 5 we find a clear answer to Johnny’s belief.

Forgive the world, and you will understand that everything that God created cannot have an end, and nothing He did not create is real.  In this one sentence is our course explained. In this one sentence is our practicing given its one direction. And in this one sentence is the Holy Spirit’s whole curriculum specified exactly as it is.  [M-20.V.8-10]

The final scene in Moonstruck is set in the family kitchen where Ronnie and Johnny reconcile and Ronnie and Loretta become engaged. Then Johnny with all of the family joins in a toast declaring, “A la familia.”

We yearn for togetherness, and our families are the basic source of that. They are the biological source for new humans, to which we refer to as new life. Our common belief aligns with Johnny’s. We associate life with our body’s existence, and death comes when it ceases to function. Salvation is the process the Course gives us that leads us to remembering our true life in Heaven. This is stated in this succinct line from Chapter 20, The Awakening.

Salvation seeks to prove there is no death, and only life exists.   [T-29.VII.10]

Nevertheless, in far too many ways, we yield to the desire to end ours and others illusory existence here. If we think that way we must consider Jesus’ words in this passage from Chapter 12, The Holy Spirit’s Curriculum.

When you are tempted to yield to the desire for death, [remember that I did not die.] You will realize that this is true when you look within and [see] me. Would I have overcome death for myself alone? And would eternal life have been given me of the Father unless He had also given it to you? [T-12VII.15]

Thus Jesus returns us to the truth of our real existence in Heaven.  There we are still and always are joined as One with God.  For help in everyday existence here in this insane world accept these words. They reflect the first sentence of the new Lord’s Prayer at the end of Text Chapter 16.

Forgive us our illusions, Father, and help us to accept our true relationship with You, in which there are no illusions, and where none can ever enter.

O Death where is thy Sting?

J. S Bach set the above line from Corinthians to music. Bach, as a devout Lutheran, believed that his path to eternal life lay in following Biblical Teaching within his Church. There the belief that Jesus Christ’s crucifixion removed the sting of death gave him access to eternal life.

Then on the other hand, in the movie “Moonstruck” Mrs. Castorinni asked her daughter’s fiancée, “Why do men chase women?” He answers tentatively, “Because they fear death?” She quickly agrees, “That’s it, that’s it.”
I ask: do men gain immortality by womanizing and fathering children?

Ken Wapnick in his, Journey Through The Manual of A Course in Miracles, explains how in ACIM Jesus leads us to a more helpful answer. Ken brings together teachings from Manual Section 27 along with Text Chapter 19 part IV and Workbook lesson 163 to dispel that most sinister fear. Section 27 begins with this declaration,“Death is the central dream from which all illusions stem.” The paragraph then lists all of the struggles of life here in the separation which we accept as “The way of nature,” and then believe that God creates them. The final sentence, “And no one asks if a benign Creator could will this,” is important to accept the following where Section 27 ends with this helpful idea.

And what is the end of death? Nothing but this; the realization that the Son of God is guiltless now and forever. Nothing but this. But do not let yourself forget it is not less than this. (my emphasis)

We are guiltless because we are now and have forever been at home as God’s one son in Heaven. The world we project is an illusion where we split our mind to accept the ego’s making of the body as the Hero of our dream.

In the first sentence of the new Lord’s Prayer; Forgive us our illusions, Father, and help us to accept our true relationship with You, in which there are no illusions, and where none can ever enter. “in which there” refers to Heaven. When we remember that our fear of death vanishes along with all of our illusions.

The course is filled with helpful passages to gain that remembrance. Manual 28, What is the Resurrection, is just one example. In my next blog I’ll discuss that.

DAILY HELP

It’s occurred to me that in my recent blogs the discussions of mind and consciousness may not be as helpful is I would like to think they are. I’ve often quoted the passage from Text Chapter Three which ends with, “There is Nothing Else.” It means simply: other than our being as spirit with God in Heaven,   “There is nothing else.”

BUT ─ full stop. What if we can’t believe that? Then it is anything but helpful. So in this blog I offer three Course passages which I think help to accept: “There is nothing else.” Please notice that all three contrast the level of our true existence as God’s One Son in Heaven with the level of the illusory world of separation.

The following is paragraph four from Workbook Lesson 50, I am sustained by the Love of God. In it Illusions are what we are making in the world of separation. Idols, is another word for illusions. The truth about “our self” is: we are, as spirit, with God in Heaven.

Put not your faith in illusions. They will fail you. Put all your faith in the Love of God within you; eternal, changeless and forever unfailing. This is the answer to whatever confronts you today. Through the Love of God within you, you can resolve all seeming difficulties without effort and insure confidence. Tell yourself this often today. It is a declaration of release from the belief in idols. It is your acknowledgment of the truth about yourself.

The first Workbook Review comes right after Lesson 50. Following is how lesson 50 is reviewed. Important ─ God’s Voice is the Holy Spirit!

50. I am sustained by the Love of God.
As I listen to God’s Voice, I am sustained by His Love. As I open my eyes, His Love lights up the world for me to see. As I forgive, His Love reminds me that His Son is sinless. And as I look upon the world with the vision He has given me, I remember that I am His Son.

The next excerpt is paragraph six from What it is, the Introduction to the Course. Its last two sentences are helpful in two ways. One, to give us a way to interact with our brothers and sisters here, and two, to realize that people act the way they do in the present political climate because that cannot follow what is taught in the part of the paragraph I emphasize.

Only minds can really join, and whom God has joined no man can put asunder.… It is, however, only at the level of Christ Mind that true union is possible, and has, in fact, never been lost. The “little I” seeks to enhance itself by external approval, external possessions and external “love.” The Self That God created needs nothing. It is forever complete, safe, loved and loving. It seeks to share rather than to get; to extend rather than project. It has no needs and wants to join with others out of their mutual awareness of abundance. (my emphasis)

Finally here is the penultimate paragraph from the Text. The speaker is Jesus/The Holy Spirit. Temptation refers to our world of separation, and the light beyond is Heaven. Several passages in the Course use light to refer to Heaven, and songs to reflect the way the Holy Spirit connects us to God. “My own” refers to the brothers/sisters we bring to Jesus. The passage is a wonderful allegory.

In joyous welcome is my hand outstretched to every brother who would join with me in reaching past temptation, and who looks with fixed determination toward the light that shines beyond in perfect constancy. Give me my own, for they belong to You. And can You fail in what is but Your Will? I give You thanks for what my brothers are. And as each one elects to join with me, the song of thanks from earth to Heaven grows from tiny scattered threads of melody to one inclusive chorus from a world redeemed from hell, and giving thanks to You.

To avoid miss-interpreting A Course in Miracles be sure to read passages in context, recognize levels of our being, read allegories as such and not take them literally. Also, keep the teachings of the Text in mind when reading Workbook Lessons.

Easter 2017

This Easter we have great need for giving lilies, not thorns, to our fellow humans. Last Easter I concluded my blog with a section from A Course In Miracles Text Chapter 20, The Vision of Holiness.  In it Jesus contrasts lilies with thorns to help us realize that we need to see past the hurt brought by thorns to the loving view of our sisters and brothers seen through the beauty of white lilies.

Easter is not the celebration of the [cost] of sin, but of its [end.] If you see glimpses of the face of Christ behind the veil, looking between the snow-white petals of the lilies you have received and given as your gift, you will behold your brother’s face and recognize it. I was a stranger and you took me in, not knowing who I was. Yet for your gift of lilies you will know. In your forgiveness of this stranger, alien to you and yet your ancient Friend, lies his release and your redemption with him. The time of Easter is a time of joy, and not of mourning. Look on your risen Friend, and celebrate his holiness along with me. For Easter is the time of your salvation, along with mine. [T-20.I.4]

I ended my blog last Easter by quoting these sentences.

The song of Easter is the glad refrain the Son of God was never crucified. Let us lift up our eyes together, not in fear but faith. And there will be no fear in us, for in our vision will be no illusions; only a pathway to the open door of Heaven, the home we share in quietness and where we live in gentleness and peace, as one together.
[T-20.II8.10-12]

The first sentence can be seen as contradicting that Jesus was crucified, which happened in the world of illusions.  By moving our mind from the level of the separation to the level of Heaven we understand that by seeing with loving eyes the lilies of Easter we will know  that “The Son of God” was never crucified because we as that one Son, along with Jesus, are always at Home with God in Heaven.

Let us change our minds from the image of thorns, which now dominate the world’s behavior, for to Lilies we give to each other as a symbol of peace between us.  Thus we will have an Easter as offered in the two final sentences of the above passage.

CANSCIOUSNESS AND MIND

Why these blogs about mind and consciousness? How would understanding the Course’s position about them help us in our everyday life? Because that answers the questions: how did we get here; what are we doing here?

According to ACIM we are here because we choose a “tiny mad idea” for a way of being other than our home in Heaven with God. To do that we split the Mind God gave us into two parts, one that remains with God, and the other that we use to make the illusion of what ACIM calls the separation. That split part (the separation) then splits again into the Right mind which listens to the Holy Spirit, and the wrong mind that listens to the ego.

Sounds insane? Well it is. And, it makes the complicated world of illusion we call the separation.

Here are two Course definitions of consciousness: one from the Clarification of terms and the other from Text Chapter 3. First recall this oft cited Chapter 3 statement which establishes our true nature as spirit created by God.

The statement “God created man in his own image and likeness” needs reinterpretation. “Image” can be understood as “thought,” and “likeness” as “of a like quality.” God did create spirit in His Own Thought and of a quality like to His Own. There [is] nothing else. Amen. [T-3.V.7]

The following excerpt defines ACIM’s view of consciousness.

Consciousness is the receptive mechanism, receiving messages from above or below; from the Holy Spirit or the ego. Consciousness has levels and awareness can shift quite dramatically, but it cannot transcend the perceptual realm. [C-1.7.3-4] (my emphasis)

In the following “as you are” refers to our being as the One Son of God in Heaven. Mind with a small m is the split mind of the separation which perceives but cannot create. The following passage complements the above excerpt.

Consciousness, the level of perception, was the first split introduced into the mind after the separation, making the mind a perceiver rather than a creator. Consciousness is correctly identified as the domain of the ego. The ego is a wrong-minded attempt to perceive yourself as you wish to be, rather than as you are. Yet you can know yourself only as you are, because that is all you can be sure of. Everything else [is] open to question.
[T-3.IV.2] (my emphasis)

Scientists and philosophers try to make sense of mind and consciousness as functions of our body and brain. As I wrote in my previous post they have not come up with ideas which are even close to being universally accepted. Recently in an interview about his writing and thinking, Yuri Noah Harari author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind, was questioned about mind. Here is part of what he said.

We know very little about the mind. We don’t understand what it is, what are its functions and how it emerged. … And because we understand so little about the mind, we also don’t know why and how it emerged in the first place. … the details at present are far beyond our understanding.
(See www.thebrowser.com for the complete interview.)

But, Course teachings about mind and consciousness are within our understanding here in the separation. Those terms; however, denote actions apart from body/brain activity (opposite to the concept of mind–body unity). Our God given mind, which we split when we entertained the “tiny mad idea,” causes the world we project. That action is consciousness, the domain of the ego. We not only are able to understand it but we control it.

This excerpt from The Manual for Teachers, Section 19, WHAT IS JUSTICE, paragraph 5, gives us a way to do that. The crucial aspect to grasp is that in the separation we are free chose between the ego and the Holy Spirit. The ego is represented with the word perception. The Holy Spirit is represented by “God’s Justice.”

Pray for God’s justice, and do not confuse His mercy with your own insanity. Perception can make whatever picture the mind desires to see. Remember this. In this lies either Heaven or hell, as you elect. God’s justice points to Heaven just because it is entirely impartial. It accepts all evidence that is brought before it, omitting nothing and assessing nothing as separate and apart from all the rest. From this one standpoint does it judge, and this alone. Here all attack and condemnation becomes meaningless and indefensible. Perception rests, the mind is still, and light returns again. Vision is now restored. What had been lost has now been found. The peace of God descends on all the world, and we can see. And we can see!

KINDNESS II

Today’s growing uncertainty and negativity brought me to where I must again write about kindness. In my 2012 post about kindness I told how a checkout clerk in a Big Box Store taught me that kindness is the opposite of rudeness.

I went to look for wine glasses so my wife and I could enjoy wine in our Motel instead of using their flimsy glasses. After a frustrating search I found two plastic wine glasses and took them to the cashier. He couldn’t ring them up because they had no bar code, but I insisted, “they were the last two on the shelf.” I grumped, and then found a woman on the service desk and led her back to the shelf to prove that I had taken the last two. Ops, there were at least a dozen on the shelf; all with bar codes.
I apologized to her and to the cashier for being rude. He was then waiting on a Latino mom trying to pay for a toy with a damaged bar code. He smiled at me and said, “That’s OK,” and went off to find her a one with a scan-able label. Meanwhile she taught me to be patient.

After I left the store I wondered, “How does he do it; stand there hour after hour and deal with grumpy old men like me and keep his composure?” I doubt he knew about A Course in Miracles. What does that say for me? It tells me to be aware of my impatience and follow George Elliot’s heroine Dorothea as Elliot described her in her conclusion to Midddlemarch.

Her finely-touched spirit had still its fair issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name in the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffused: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistorical acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

Elliot framed Dorothea within a story replete with human foibles making her nature far nobler than the characters with whom she lived, especially the hypocrites who flaunted religion. The K-Mart cashier’s kindness was an “unhistorical act,” from a “faithfully hidden life.”

Now five years later we need kindness more than ever. It will help all of us to settle down and counteract what is happening in the world. I not going to be a “bliss ninny” and believe that our leading perpetrator of unkindness will have a change of mind. But we can be kind to counteract unkind behavior.

Many people are thinking about kindness. In Catherine Pearson’s article in the November 14, 2014 issue of Huffington Post she offered, “5 Incredibly Easy Ways to Spread Kindness Every Day.”

1. Make a personal connection, 2 Make someone’s day easier, 3 Use the talents you already have, 4.Forgive someone, 5. Meditate.

Number 1, 2 and 4 are self- evident. Number three suggests that if you love to cook; cook someone a good meal. If you are a “handyman,” repair something for someone. As for number Five, Meditate, Pearson suggests that when meditating think positive thoughts about someone.

Kindness is dramatized in, “The Way,” a movie about four pilgrims who become friends while walking the “way” of St. James. In a poignant scene one pilgrim, a writer who overcame writers block during the walk wrote this about his fellow traveler Jost. “For Jost kindness is an instinct.” Let’s all embrace kindness as an instinct.

One way to do that is to think of kindness is as “a touch of Heaven,” with everyone we interact with. In the following poem from Workbook Lesson 67 the terms Holiness, Kindness, Helpfulness and Perfection refer to God. Thus we see that we were touched with heaven as God created us holy, kind, helpful and perfect.

Holiness created me holy.
Kindness created me kind.
Helpfulness created me helpful.
Perfection created me perfect.

What would it take for us to be kind to everyone in our everyday lives?
Follow the advice Greek philosopher Philo gave us centuries ago.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is doing a hard battle.”