Lesson 27: Above all else I want to see.

“Above all else, I want to see.” To be repeated at least every half-hour all day long. Shoot for every 15-20 minutes but don’t stress out if you forget to say it. If you feel hesitant about saying it because you aren’t sure you really mean it, that’s OK, too.

If you feel a sacrifice is being asked when you say it, remind yourself that “vision is of no cost to anyone”. If you still feel uneasy, add “It can only bless.”

You can repeat one short sentence to yourself without disturbing anyone, even if you are in conversation. The real question is how many times will you remember? How much do you want today’s idea to be true? Answer one and you have answered the other.

At times I want to see, and at others, I definitely don’t. Sometimes I prefer to wallow in a pissy mood about something. I am assured, however, that If even once during the day I say the sentence sincerely, then I will have saved myself many years of effort.

It will be interesting to see how it goes, today! How often will I remember. Will I be able to be sincere?

From Wapnick:

Wapnick begins by offering this quote from the Text (T-14.II.1:1-4).

The Holy Spirit needs a happy learner, in whom His mission can be happily accomplished. You who are steadfastly devoted to misery must first recognize that you are miserable and not happy. The Holy Spirit cannot teach without this contrast, for you believe that misery is happiness. This has so confused you that you have undertaken to learn to do what you can never do, believing that unless you learn it you will not be happy.

Wapnick says that we are not expected to really mean the words we are asked to say, today, but the exercise will hopefully bring us a little closer to realizing the choice we are making to be miserable. It’s a process.

I read what I wrote on this lesson when making my way through ACIM with Marianne Williamson in 2008:

Usually we see through the eyes of the ego and the ego’s eyes do not see.  The ego uses the perception of the body – the body’s eyes.  But our perception is always based on fear so the ego forms a veil of illusion before the real truth.  In performing the exercise, “Above all else I want to see.” – we are directing the mind to move beyond the perceptions of the ego into the actual vision and knowledge of reality.

It’s quite possible that I misinterpreted what Williamson said. (I think it came from a podcast on Oprah’s site. I have no idea where to find it now.) Whatever the case, my ego likes this understanding so much better than Wapnick’s.

Tricky, tricky ego!! I so want believe that “I” can direct the mind to move beyond the ego. But if I’m honest with myself, I realize the “I” that wants me to believe “I” can “direct the mind” is the ego.

I think Wapnick is right. The lesson isn’t about “directing the mind” to move beyond the perceptions of the ego. That’s just fuel for the ego! The lesson is about helping us realize how heavily we identify with the ego.

Lesson 19: I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.

There are no private thoughts because all minds are joined. We will naturally resist this idea, but it must be understood if there is any chance for salvation at all.

What is salvation according to ACIM? This lesson says salvation is the Will of God. It has to do with finding our way back to God – remembering our Oneness. (The miracle/forgiveness is our way back.)

  • I am not alone in experiencing the effects of this thought about how sad I am that Ric Ocasek died yesterday.
  • I am not alone in experiencing the effects of this thought about feeling nostalgic.
  • I am not alone in experiencing the effects of this thought about running into one of my son’s friends the other day.
  • I am not alone in experiencing the effects of this thought about not liking the song that is on the radio.
  • I am not alone in experiencing the effects of this thought about seeing Salman Rushdie on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

From Wapnick:

Ideas do not leave their source; effects do not leave their cause; the world does not remain separated from the mind. However, we are certain our thoughts have no effect so we are only aware of our bodies, not our thoughts. We think this because we think the world is separate from our minds. In other words, we think the effect (the world) is separate from the cause (our minds). But again, ideas do not leave their source.

He uses the analogy of a film we are watching on a screen. It seems as though the images exist on the screen, but we know they haven’t left their source, which is the projector. However, we wouldn’t go to a movie if we didn’t react to it as though it were real. We want to be excited, enlightened, distracted. This is exactly what we do with the world too.

Just as movie directors create a movie they want people to react to, we create a world because we want ourselves and others to react to it as though it is real. Ultimately, what we see outside is an image that came from thought, but we have forgotten we made it up.

The ego teaches that we have separated from God, victimized and murdered Him, and thus acquired our individual existence. We believe this to be true, except we are not responsible for it; someone else is….

From the text: What if you recognized this world is an hallucination? What if you really understood you made it up? What if you realized that those who seem to walk about in it, to sin and die, attack and murder and destroy themselves, are wholly unreal? Could you have faith in what you see, if you accepted this? And would you see it? (T-20.VIIL7:3-7)

In other words, the defensive purpose of the world is sustained by keeping cause and effect separate, not remembering that our minds are the cause of the world…

Our problems have one solution — the miracle.

My thoughts:

Although I understand it intellectually, I have great difficulty accepting that I am nothing more than my thoughts. It’s also troubling to think my thoughts about others aren’t private – that somehow that has an effect. It’s especially troubling when my thoughts are ugly. It’s a defense mechanism. I’m not the problem – those people out there are the problem.

Of course, misunderstanding this lesson could make you believe that those people out there and their negative thoughts that are the problem.

Williamson tweeted the other day that it would be a good use of our time to collectively imagine a hurricane turning away from land. I think that is probably the direct opposite of what Wapnick and this lesson mean by experiencing the effects of our thoughts because it is really just another sneaky way for the ego to pretend it has control so that it can continue the drama. It also continues that horrid Christian/New Age thinking that “right thoughts”/”right beliefs”/”right prayers” will change what is externally happening in the world to something we personally prefer.

Chapter 2: The Separation and the Atonement

“Rosa Celeste: Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the highest Heaven” by Gustave Doré

These notes are primarily from Wapnick’s take on Chapter 2 in Journey Through the Text. They are really just for my personal understanding so are very sketchy and condensed.

This is the only chapter that contains ACIMs overall thought-system. Wapnick summarizes the thought system as:

  • the state of Heaven
  • the development of the ego system
  • all the mistakes within that system, leading to the mis-creation of the mindless body
  • our mistakes in the magical attempts to heal the body
  • the recognition of our mistake and choosing the miracle
  • our return home.

Wapnick says it is also unique because it is the first, and possibly the most pointed, discussion of the power of the mind and the importance of not depreciating that power.

The extension of love, which is repeated throughout ACIM, is a process beyond our ability to understand. Dualistic terms are used to help us grasp the nature of Heaven, but we will never be able to fully understand Heaven. We cannot understand it because our “understanding” exists in time and space while creation occurs beyond time and space. Creation is, in fact, the only reality.

The chapter begins with “the tiny mad idea”. There is a sense of lack that makes us think that we are not the first cause. We are not the creator. It is therefore up to us to fill the lack because God will not. This is the genesis of the ego thought system. Wapnick says this sets into motion a string of defenses, beginning with the myth that can be summarized in three words: singuilt, and fear. “The separation occurred and was quite serious: sinful, deserving of guilt, and leading to the fear of standing on the brink of annihilation because God angrily seeks to punish us for our sin. We think that if we do not do something very quickly, God/Reality will destroy us. This is the crux of the ego’s myth.” It creates a world where it can hide from the mind.

The ego’s strategy is to exist in a world of mindlessness with no memory of where the body or the world came from. The problem-ridden body requires solutions. ACIM calls these solutions “magic” because they are an attempt to fix the problem where it is not. The solutions/magic don’t work because our anxiety, self-hatred, and guilt never disappear and our special relationships are never satisfying. The real solution rests in the mind, but we exist in a world of mindlessness so are not aware of the mind.The miracle is ACIM’s term for returning to the mind – recognizing that the problem is not in the world of bodies. Eventually, we decide there must be another way and we become open to seeing another way.

Oneness: The sonship includes everything that seems to have a form, not just homo sapiens or living organism, and this includes all the galaxies, too.

“The Tiny Mad Idea”. The arrogant son believes that God did not do a good enough job at creation. Something is missing and only the Son can supply the lack.

  • You believe that what God created can be changed by your own mind.
  • You believe that what is perfect can be rendered imperfect or lacking.
  • You believe that you can distort the creations of God, including yourself.
  • You believe that you can create yourself, and that the direction of your creation is up to you. (Authority problem – who is the author of my reality?)

Wapnick elaborates…

Inherent in the tiny, mad idea of being separate from God is the thought of scarcity: something is amiss in Heaven. The Son’s immediate response is: “I know what it is and what to do about it.” It is not difficult to recognize that same dynamic playing out in everyday life, where we actually believe we know the problems—our own or the world’s. Some are better at identifying them than others, but everyone has some idea of the nature of what is wrong, from heads of state to ordinary citizens. Even more absurd from the point of view of A Course in Miracles is that we think we know the solutions. All this grandiosity simply reflects the perceived authority conflict between God and the ego.

(Despite being an ACIM Teacher, perhaps this applies to Marianne Williamson’s desire to run for President? She has very strong convictions and genuinely believes she knows what the problem is and what to do about it. Her closing argument during the first debate was based on ACIM teachings (love will overcome fear), but her delivery was grandiose – SHE knows what Trump is doing and SHE knows the solution. She will harness love to defeat what it is he has done… An old-fashioned battle cry of good vs. evil which is at the crux of dualism, separation, and the stuff of the ego.)

Fear of the Atonement. Wapnick explains that Freud observed that when we are sound asleep, we do not want to wake up so incorporate all outside stimuli into our dreams: sounds, a full bladder, etc. Freud called it “dream of convenience”. The Fear of the Atonement is similar, except instead of not wanting to wake from physical sleep, we do not want to wake from the dream of separation. We want to bring the light of Atonement into our dream. This is often done by bringing God, the Holy Spirit, or Jesus into the world and asking them to solve our problems here. (Dear God, please ______________.) What we truly want is to awaken from the dream, not to have a happier one.

We value freedom of the body, but the only true freedom is freedom of the mind. Without freedom of the mind, there is only jailer and prisoner. (It is our decision-making minds that imprisoned us and the ego itself is the prison.) True freedom is freedom from this nightmare of guilt, pain, hatred, and death, and the key to choosing such freedom is realizing it is a choice. The function of the miracle is to help us understand our power to make the choice for true freedom.

Defenses. From Freud’s “defense mechanisms”.

The Ego’s Use of Defenses. Everything the ego does to ensure we do not choose the Atonement is a defense. The first line of defense is the unholy trinity of sin, guilt, and fear. The second line of defense is the body, which protects us from the guilt of our minds. (It is Freud who explained the dynamics of the defenses and put the term “projection” on the map.)

The Right Minded Use of Denial. The proper use of denial is to deny the power of the ego to change reality or take away the peace of God. Therefore, the proper use of denial is not to hide anything but to correct error. This brings all error into the light.

The Atonement doesn’t do anything, it undoes.

One of the operational definitions we can give for being in one’s right mind is to look at the wrong mind without judgment. This is how we practice true denial: looking at the ego and denying it’s truth. True denial is based on the power of the mind to choose again.

The World and the Body. Freud’s definition of pleasure was “tension reduction”. This is true of ACIM as well in that the ego’s pleasure comes from minimizing the painful tension born of the mind’s guilt. The focus on the body makes this possible.

Sickness/Not right-mindedness. (Wapnick apologizes on Helen’s behalf for the phrase “not right-mindedness. Her “hearing” wasn’t good in the beginning.) The mind’s guilt is the real sickness. It is the decision to choose guilt that is the problem. The remedy is the decision to be guiltless – to accept the Atonement.

Only the mind is capable of error. Wapnick says to imagine telling a government on the verge of war that there are no errors. The only error is in how minds look upon the world. “The cause of all symptoms—physical, psychological, or in the world at large—rests in the mind that believes it can separate from God, has separated from God, and is overwhelmed with guilt at the thought it has attacked Him by doing this.

Magic. Magic is the attempt to solve a problem where it does not exist. The body is neutral. It serves either the purposes of the Holy Spirit or the ego. It simply does what the mind tells it to do. Our upsets have nothing to do with the external, but only with the mind’s decision to choose the ego.

It is not necessary to protect the mind by denying the unmindful (the body). Practicing discipline in the face of an addiction can be a right-minded expression of shifting the problem from the addicted body to the mind addicted to guilt. Behavioral restraint alone, however, will not solve the problem of the mind’s faulty decision making. Solving the problem on the physical level can be a step toward allowing us to return to the real problem, but it cannot undo the decision to be guilty.

Denying our physical existence is an unworthy form of denial because it is not going to help us, either. Anything we do to keep ourselves alive is magic. Sitting down to eat, drink, sleep is a restatement of our belief in magic. ACIM does not want us to stop doing these things. If we need to take a pill for a headache or get surgery for an illness, that is magic (solving the problem where it does not exist). But we aren’t being asked to stop doing these things. Denying that the body is sick and needs help simply condemns us to further guilt. We need to be gentle and kind with ourselves and others and take care of our bodies.

The thing is, magic works. If we are lonely and call a friend, we feel connected. If we lack energy and go have lunch, we feel more energetic. But magic only offers temporary solutions. We inevitably get hungry and feel the pangs of loneliness again. But as long as we can acknowledge that we are in pain, we will eventually want to seek out a “better way”. A Course in Miracles is for those who have exhausted their search for relief in magic and are looking for that “better way”. The only way to choose the Holy Spirit, instead of the ego, is to recognize that the ego’s methods do not work.

The Power of the Mind. Cause and Effect. It is the cause we need to undo, not the effect. Do not seek to control the outcome of mis-thought (behavior), but our wrong choice (in the mind). This is a matter of our desire to correct our wrong decision and with this we need help. This is repeated in different ways throughout the text and workbook… You must change your mind, not your behavior …You do not need guidance except at the mind level… Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world.

The correction of fear is our responsibility. It does us no good to ask for things or relief from pain or fear because those are effects. We put our pain and fear there, so it is ours to correct. What Jesus and the Holy Spirit can do for us (remember – Jesus and the Holy Spirit are metaphors) is remind us to choose again.

Peace is an attribute in you. You cannot find it outside. Illness is some form of external searching. Health is inner peace. (I love that!)

Only our minds can produce fear. It produces fear whenever it is in conflict with what it wants – when wanting and doing are discordant. This can be correct only by accepting a unified goal. Our problems are never external, but the projection of an inner conflict. The conflict is an expression of fear.

Know first that this is fear.
Fear arises from lack of love.
The only remedy for lack of love is perfect love.
Perfect love is the Atonement.

Wapnick says this explanation is primitive compared to later explanations, but outlines the basics of forgiveness…

Recognize that the problem is internal rather than external. (The experience of conflict in the body is the result of a projection of the mind’s fear.) We then recognize that the fear comes from a decision to reject love, and its undoing comes from correcting our mistake by choosing love instead of fear. Once the right choice is made, the fear and conflict disappear, and all that remains is the love we both have and are. Thus the Atonement, or process of undoing, is made complete.

It is important to respect the power of the mind. If we are taking a pill every day for headaches, we can at least be honest with ourselves and acknowledge “I realize this problem is coming from my mind, but I am still too frightened. My mind is so powerful it can even deny its own power.” 

God is the cause and the Son is the effect. So, we need to undo God, not the Son???!! That’s confusing!! It’s only confusing because it is a cause and effect relationship that is completely different from what we introduce through mis-creation. The fundamental conflict in the world is between creation and mis-creation. Love is implicit in creation and fear in mis-creation. (Later in the text, mis-creation becomes “making”.)

Trying to master fear is useless. The only solution is to choose love. But as ACIM students, there is a very fine line we have to walk. Wapnick calls it the “Scylla and Charybdis” of the spiritual path. (Scylla and Charybdis were two sea monsters encountered by Odysseus. They were located close to one another and created an impassable situation for sailors. Odysseus had to choose which one he had to confront. They represent choosing between two evils.)

Wapnick elaborates…

On the one hand, it is important to be true to our experience and not deny our separated existence—“In this sense the separation has occurred”—for this is “a particularly unworthy form of denial.” Therapists, and Jesus is the foremost, would never encourage patients to deny their experiences, however unreal they might be. This is a certain way to keep them and ensure they can never be corrected and undone. On the other hand, there is a danger of indulging the ego and reveling in the experiences of separation and specialness. This, too, is a certain way to keep them and ensure they can never be corrected and undone.

Forgiveness. We don’t need to save the world or teach the Course, our only responsibility is to change our minds and accept the Atonement. Forgiveness is the recognition that what others did to us has not hurt us. Forgiveness is a return to the right-minded perception that the body (ours or another’s) does not need correction. It is the decision maker that needs correction.

The Atonement has a special relationship with time because it collapses time. It stands at time’s end but it does not abolish time. As long as there is a need for Atonement, there is a need for time. The Atonement is how we free ourselves from the past. When forgiveness is complete and Atonement is accepted by all the sonship, we enter into the last stage – the last judgment.

The Last Judgment. The End of the Process. This is the son’s final judgment of the ego, not God’s final judgment of human beings. Everyone will finally come to understand what is worthy and what is not. Our sole responsibility in the Atonement is to recognize that the separation never happened.

Readiness is the only prerequisite for the process. We do not have to be perfect to be helpful to others.

The following passages caught my attention while reading the Text:

  • Yet the Bible says that a deep sleep fell upon Adam, and nowhere is there reference to his waking up. The world has not yet experienced any comprehensive reawakening or rebirth. Such a rebirth is impossible as long as you continue to project or miscreate. It still remains within you, however, to extend as God extended His Spirit to you. In reality this is your only choice, because your free will was given you for your joy in creating the perfect.
  • Only after the deep sleep fell upon Adam could he experience nightmares. If a light is suddenly turned on while someone is dreaming a fearful dream, he may initially interpret the light itself as part of his dream and be afraid of it. However, when he awakens, the light is correctly perceived as the release from the dream, which is then no longer accorded reality. 
  • The body is merely part of your experience in the physical world. Its abilities can be and frequently are overevaluated. However, it is almost impossible to deny its existence in this world. Those who do so are engaging in a particularly unworthy form of denial. The term “unworthy” here implies only that it is not necessary to protect the mind by denying the unmindful. If one denies this unfortunate aspect of the mind’s power, one is also denying the power itself.
  • All forms of not-right-mindedness are the result of refusal to accept the Atonement for yourself. If you do accept it, you are in a position to recognize that those who need healing are simply those who have not realized that right-mindedness is healing.
  • It is pointless to believe that controlling the outcome of misthought can result in healing. When you are fearful, you have chosen wrongly. That is why you feel responsible for it. You must change your mind, not your behavior, and this is a matter of willingness. You do not need guidance except at the mind level. Correction belongs only at the level where change is possible. Change does not mean anything at the symptom level, where it cannot work.

Hugh Prather’s Deep Thoughts

The Thinker Auguste Rodin

Continuing with the 4 teachers closely associated with ACIM who had a major impact on my thinking, today my focus is on Hugh Prather. I just finished his book, How to be Happy and Still Be in the Worldwhich was wonderful. Surprisingly, it’s the only book I’ve ever read by him! I’m going to read Notes to Myself, next.

I met Hugh Prather in the early 1990s at an ACIM event in Dallas when I was in my mid-20s. He had given a hilarious, moving talk about marriage and I felt inspired to ask him a question afterward. He thanked me for my question, suggested I walk with him to get some water, and spent close to 30 minutes talking with me. He was very down-to-earth and one of the nicest people I have ever met!

I encountered him again at a conference in California. Marianne Williamson had given a talk that was not well-received. I have notes on it somewhere so could probably give better specifics if I could motivate myself to find them, but based on my sketchy memory, I think it had something to do with India not wanting Pepsi (or some other huge American Corporation) to come into the country because it would bring with it an undesired American cultural aspect. I wasn’t at all offended by what she had to say, but a lot of people were extremely upset. Unfortunately, she responded a little too defensively and the very large group of attendees split in two and yelled at one another as well as at Williamson. So much for forgiveness and peace!

I don’t remember who directly followed Williamson’s talk but it had to be uncomfortable. Every speaker that followed acknowledged the split. When it was Hugh Prather’s turn, he lightened things up with his great sense of humor, but he was very direct saying that all spiritual teachings inevitably incur division so the division within ACIM was to be expected. (Apparently this was an already well-established division.) I remember that I was very impressed with both Frances Vaughan’s and Hugh Prather’s responses. They were compassionate toward all involved and not judgmental toward Marianne Williamson, or those standing against her, even though I’m sure they landed on one side of the divide or the other.

Prather’s lectures and the short meeting I had with him in Dallas were my only experience of him. I’m not sure why I have never read any of his books until just now, especially since I was so impressed by him. That is (and was) very unlike me. I never attempted to find his radio broadcasts, either. The only thing I knew about him was that he was a fellow Methodist and that he was somehow involved with the ACIM gurus. I had no idea that he had grown up in my hometown of Dallas, that he played tennis, went to SMU, or that his father was the real estate tycoon who developed Highland Park. I also had no idea that he attended the University of Texas in Austin for graduate work. These are all things I am very familiar with.

It sounds like he had a somewhat complicated childhood because both of his parents had several marriages which gave Prather seven parents. According to the NYT article below, of the seven parents there were two alcoholics, a drug addict, an institutionalized mentally ill patient, a convicted murderer (one of his father’s wives) and a convicted embezzler (one of his mother’s husbands). Thank goodness he turned to humor and introspection rather than drugs, alcohol and crime!

His early book, Notes to Myself was internationally famous and has sold millions of copies in over 10 languages despite Prather not particularly liking the book. (He claimed it was “too self-absorbed”.) The SNL parody, “Deep Thoughts with Jack Handy”, was based on that early book and the famous vegetarian restaurant, Moosewood Restaurant, was named after Hugh Prather’s dog which was also mentioned in the book 

In the 1970s, The New York Times called him an American Khalil Gibran. He and his wife, Gayle, were very close to Jerry Jampolsky and Diane Circincione. He was also good friends with William Thetford. Some people claim Prather was Thetford’s ACIM successor because they were both so gentle, compassionate, and focused on spreading peace.

Prather died at 72 years of age in 2010 from an apparent heart attack.

A Course in Miracles: Teachers

My experience with ACIM is limited to a very few teachers. I am not at all familiar with the current, more popular ones like Gary Renard or Gabby Bernstein. A few years ago, I read one of Robert Perry’s books and was definitely not on his philosophical wavelength. I also read something by Alan Cohen that I didn’t care for, either.

Around that same time, I read a book by Ken Wilber about his wife who was dying of cancer called Grace and Grit. That had a completely different effect on me. Treya Killam, Wilber’s wife, was a devout ACIM practitioner. She developed breast cancer and became uncomfortable with all of the new age promises that if she just had the right thoughts, she could cure her cancer. What she came to realize was that cancer was not her enemy. By embracing it, it became an opportunity for self-understanding and growth. That is what I think ACIM is about. It helps us have the courage to embrace what we fear. 

I’d like to learn more about Ken Wilber and Integral Spirituality, but lest I get too thrown off track, I’ll stick with ACIM for now.

The people who most influenced me when I was first involved in ACIM were Jerry Jampolsky, Hugh Prather, Marianne Williamson, Francis Vaughan, and Vaughn’s husband, Roger Walsh. With the exception of Jerry Jampolsky, I met each of these people back in the 1990s.

Despite almost single-handedly bringing ACIM to the multitudes in the 1990s, my understanding of ACIM didn’t quite mesh with Marianne Williamson’s. I should probably go back through some of her work to clarify the disconnect, but for now, I feel more strongly about reconnecting with the works of the other four.

Jerry Jampolsky: Jerry Jampolsky’s Love is Letting Go of Fearis the first book I read based on ACIM principals and it had a HUGE affect on me. Jampolsky was a Psychologist and graduate of Stanford’s School of Medicine. He founded The Center for Attitudinal Healing which offered free support services to people facing catastrophic life events. His philosophy, in a nutshell, was that you can only have peace of mind when you forgive rather than judge. What needs to be healed is not your sick body, circumstances, or the world, it’s the judgmental mind. 

Hugh Prather: I don’t think I’ve read anything by Hugh Prather. I only know him through his lectures and a short conversation I once had with him. His first book is what the SNL Skit “Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey” was based on, so his writing may have been a little “new agey”, but he just seemed so honest and grounded in person. He didn’t make claims that you could potentially change external material circumstances with the power of the individual mind. (That’s not the point of ACIM, in my opinion.) What was necessary was a change in cognition. It’s not about what’s happening to you, it’s about what you think about it. And if what you think about it is that you can change it by how you think about it, you’ve missed the point. I noticed that his wife has made some of his lectures available so I will plan to make my way through some of those in the future, and maybe some of his books as well.

Frances Vaughan and Roger Walsh: I’ve personally met both, but only really know Frances Vaughan And Roger Walsh through their lectures. Both are probably better known in the Integral Spirituality circles these days than through ACIM. Vaughan died in 2017. She was a Stanford graduate, clinical psychologist, professor, and founding faculty member of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. Walsh is a professor of psychology, philosophy and anthropology at the University of California at Irvine. I have his book, Essential Spirituality, and I’m fairly certain I have a few by Vaughan as well. Both are worth revisiting.

I’m sure there will be others that I recall or that I will learn about in the future. 

ACIM Lesson 151: All things are echoes of the voice for God.

Williamson’s blurb: Everything you go through in life is a lesson sent by the Holy Spirit, providing you with the opportunity to experience love at a deeper level. The more holiness you bring to your perspective of all things, the more peace you will have in your heart.

The idea that everything we go through is a lesson has always somewhat bothered me. It’s just never felt right to me. I think it goes back to the idea that we are all meaning junkies. Modern man is addicted to meaning. We can’t just experience life, we demand it mean something – that it be a lesson.

I don’t think ACIM is trying to tell us that what happens to us is a lesson. The opportunity to experience life at a deeper level is always available to us. That doesn’t mean what happens to us is a lesson, although we are certainly able to turn it into a lesson if we think we need that meaning. That can be a helpful idea, but it’s not without its drawbacks – especially in terms of absurdity. The problem isn’t that the universe is meaningless, the problem is that we want it to be meaningful and it isn’t.

ACIM: You do not seem to doubt the world you see. You do not really question what is shown you through the body’s eyes. Nor do you ask why you believe it, even though you learned a long while since your senses do deceive. That you believe them to the last detail which they report is even stranger, when you pause to recollect how frequently they have been faulty witnesses indeed! Why would you trust them so implicitly? Why but because of underlying doubt, which you would hide with show of certainty?

Makes sense to me. I always like the idea that if we were creatures from another planet with completely different sensory experience (who can guess what might be possible?), we’d experience the universe entirely differently. That we experience it through touch, taste, smell, sight, sound is simply because this is our only means of physical experience. But our physical experience of reality is not reality itself. It’s simply sensory perception. Any judgment we base on this sensory perception is necessarily faulty because it is so narrowly based.

ACIM: You cannot judge. You merely can believe the ego’s judgments, all of which are false.

Well, if not false, at least insufficient and therefore faulty.

ACIM: This thing it speaks of, and would yet defend, it tells you is yourself. And you believe that this is so with stubborn certainty.

Well, not exactly with stubborn certainty. I think most people these days question the validity of an egocentric perspective – maybe not to the extent it needs to be questioned, but we’ve become a lot more psychologically savvy these days, haven’t we? Then again, there are still a lot of parents out there telling their children, “because I said so”.

ACIM: Give Him your thoughts, and He will give them back as miracles which joyously proclaim the wholeness and the happiness God wills His Son, as proof of His eternal Love. And as each thought is thus transformed, it takes on healing power from the Mind which saw the truth in it, and failed to be deceived by what was falsely added. All the threads of fantasy are gone. And what remains is unified into a perfect Thought that offers its perfection everywhere.

“Judge not lest ye be judged”. Instead, allow your thoughts to be replaced by silence (space, expanse, infinite possibility).