A Course in Miracles Text Made Simple

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Chapter 21: Reason and Perception

Intro and Section I: The Forgotten Song

Read ACIM Chapter 21, Intro and Section I (pages 445-47)

How can the world we see show us what is going on in our mind?

The world we see reflects our state of mind. What we see with our body’s eyes is really a projection, like a movie, that is coming from our mind, whether we realize it or not. The world we see is an effect. It is not a cause that is independent of our mind. It is showing us what is in our mind, what we believe. The ego thought system turns everything upside down to make the world look like it is a separate reality that has nothing to do with our thoughts or what we are believing in. But now we are learning that what we see has everything to do with the thoughts that are residing in our mind. Jesus tells us, “[The world you see] is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition. As a man thinketh, so does he perceive. Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world.” (Intro.1:5-7)

This is very valuable insight. What does it mean to us in our search for peace and everlasting happiness? Now we know that the world we experience is merely an effect that is coming from our mind, and that means that we are constantly getting important feedback as to what is really going on in our mind. If we are having trouble in our relationships, we can now understand that there is a belief we are holding onto that is causing this effect to show up in our ‘life’ experience. This experience can show us that this is an area we need to hand over to the Holy Spirit for a correction in what we are believing is true. We can let go of being a ‘know it all’ and choose instead to step back from what we think we know and allow the Holy Spirit to show us the difference between the real and the unreal.

As we learn to look upon the world with vision, how does what we see change?

As we look upon the world with Holy Spirit’s vision, we are able to lift the veil to see past the ego’s perception of separation. This opening to the truth allows us to see the Spirit of Love that is really there eternally. The Course has told us many times in many ways that only what God creates is real and God creates only what is like Himself. We are becoming aware that if we see something that is different from God’s eternal Love, it is an illusion and could never be real. It is sinking in that what we are seeing is merely a reflection that is mirroring what is in our mind. We need this feedback or we would never have the incentive to step back and allow the Holy Spirit to transform the thoughts that we are giving belief to.

Our one need is to let the Holy Spirit look at the world we see with us. Joined with the Holy Spirit, we are able to distinguish between the real and the unreal. Once we see that separate bodies are unreal, it is easier to see past these separate images, or projections, to the Love that is eternally there. Looking with Holy Spirit, our mountains of conflict become molehills that are easily stepped over. Jesus tells us, “Everything looked upon with vision is healed and holy. Nothing perceived without [vision] means anything. And where there is no meaning there is chaos.” (1:10-12)

What is really happening when we condemn or judge another?

When we judge another, we are judging ourselves. When we judge what we are seeing in a world we believe is outside of us, we are merely showing ourselves that judgment instead of vision is residing in our mind. It is a signal to us that we need a change of mind that comes with returning again to the Holy Spirit, Who will return us to the truth of the Love that is eternally real. Jesus tells us, “If you behold disaster and catastrophe, you tried to crucify [the Son of God]. If you see holiness and hope, you joined the Will of God to set him free. There is no choice that lies between these two decisions. And you will see the witness to the choice you made, and learn from this to recognize which one you chose. The world you see but shows you how much joy you have allowed yourself to see in you, and to accept as yours.” (Intro.2:3-7)

Why do we stumble and fall as we think that we live in a world that is separate from our Father?

Jesus wants to make it clear to us that we are choosing incorrectly when we believe in the reality of a world of separate bodies. He tells us, “You do not see. Your cues for inference are wrong, and so you stumble and fall down upon the stones you did not recognize, but fail to be aware you can go through the doors you thought were closed, but which stand open before unseeing eyes, waiting to welcome you.” (1:4-5) We are being shown that we are making a mistake (stumbling and falling in a false thought system) in thinking that anything separate from God’s oneness could be real. We do not realize that emptiness and sorrow lies in what we are choosing to imagine.

Why does Jesus say we are not happy learners yet?

Our false world has become so familiar to us that we think there is nothing else that has true value. Even though it has brought us pain and fearful experiences of lack, weakness and death, we cling to what we made up and think of as reality. We have become so accustomed to separation, that we think that this is all that is real.

Jesus tells us, “The blind become accustomed to their world by their adjustments to it. They think they know their way about in it. They learned it, not through joyous lessons, but through the stern necessity of limits they believed they could not overcome. And still believing this, they hold those lessons dear, and cling to them because they cannot see. They do not understand the lessons keep them blind. This they do not believe. And so they keep the world they learned to ‘see’ in their imagination, believing that their choice is that or nothing. They hate the world they learned through pain. And everything they think is in it serves to remind them that they are incomplete and bitterly deprived.

“Thus they define their life and where they live, adjusting to it as they think they must, afraid to lose the little that they have. and so it is with all who see the body as all they have and all their brothers have.” (4:1-9, 5:1-2) Let’s apply what Jesus is telling us here to our lives… our thoughts… the perspectives we hold dear… How are we still clinging to “the stern necessity of limits we believe we can not overcome”? Under what circumstances do we still feel “incomplete and bitterly deprived”? Once we recognize that we are making judgments based on imagined images and limitations and see the unhappiness it brings, it becomes easier to become a happy learner.

We cannot have the truth and its opposite at the same time. We cannot have vision and keep our false beliefs about separate bodies at the same time. Once we accept one, the other disappears. When we are not a happy learner, we resist opening to the truth by thinking that the memory of Heaven is not open to us. We will think that we cannot hear Holy Spirit’s voice or become aware of Love’s presence, though it is all around us. “You are not a happy learner yet because you still remain uncertain that vision gives you more than judgment does, and you have learned that both you cannot have.” (3:7)

What does Jesus mean by ‘the forgotten song’?

The forgotten song is a metaphor for the remembrance of Heaven, Where we still reside in truth. Jesus brings us a vision that describes what it is really like to let the veil be lifted and remember where we are in truth. He tells us, “Beyond the body, beyond the sun and stars, past everything you see and yet somehow familiar, is an arc of golden light that stretches as you look into a great and shining circle. And all the circle fills with light before your eyes. The edges of the circle disappear, and what is in it is no longer contained at all. The light expands and covers everything, extending to infinity forever shining and with no break or limit anywhere. Within it everything is joined in perfect continuity. Nor is it possible to imagine that anything could be outside, for there is nowhere that this light is not.

“This is the vision of the Son of God, whom you know well. Here is the sight of him who knows his Father. Here is the memory of what you are; a part of this, with all of it within, and joined to all as surely as all is joined in you. Accept the vision that can show you this, and not the body. You know the ancient song, and know it well. Nothing will ever be as dear to you as is this ancient hymn of love the Son of God sings to his Father still.” (8:1-6, 9:1-6) This imagery provides a visualization that we can use to help us move toward the experience of the all-inclusiveness of Love.

What happens as we remember the vision of the Son of God?

As we are willing to become a happy learner and remember that everyone is included in God’s circle of golden Light with no break or limit anywhere, we heal and are healed of all we learned before. Jesus reminds us, “The light in one awakens it in all. And when you see [this light] in your brother, you are remembering for everyone.” (10:6-7) As we let our perception of separation be corrected and transformed into wholeness, we do it for the whole Sonship because God’s extension of Love (the Sonship) is one in truth.

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Reference Keys for
A Course in Miracles Quotes

How to Read References for Quotes from A Course in Miracles

Below are example references to specific sentences using the notation of the Second & Third Editions of A Course in Miracles published by the Foundation for Inner Peace:

T-26.IV.4:7 = Text, Chapt. 26, Section IV, paragraph 4, sentence 7.

W-pI.169.5:2 = Workbook, Part I, Lesson 169, paragraph 5, sentence 2.

M-13.3:2 = Manual for Teachers, Question 13, paragraph 3, sentence 2.

C-6.4:6 = Clarification of Terms, Term 6, paragraph 4, sentence 6

The above numbering system of the Second & Third Editions is © Copyright 1992, The Foundation for A Course in Miracles.

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