If you have ever watched a large flock of birds move by in the sky, you will probably have noticed the often wonderful patterns they collectively paint in the air. To a growing group of scientists, this is a clear hint of the existence of something called ‘collective consciousness’. Consider: none of these birds ever went to highschool to be instructed on how to fly in mathematical formation. None of them had to pass any exam. And yet they know exactly what to do. Perhaps you’ll say that’s an instinct that has been conditioned in each of the birds for millennia, but even then — the group movement as a whole clearly illustrates some collective mechanism at work. It’s as if they each share in a collective mind.
In A Course in Miracles, Jesus teaches us that this is a universal principle of all life, both outside and within the dream of duality. Let’s focus on the dualistic world of time and space that we are convinced is our daily reality. To our sensory organs, it seems as though there are billions of distinct and competing egos populating the planet. However, we tend to forget that “perception is nothing but a projected wish [of separation] fulfilled” (T-26.VIII.2). Remember, “Projection makes perception” (T-21-in.1). Since “…there is no world!” (W-pI.132.6), everything I perceive mirrors an inner part of me that I wish to project outside of me because I don’t want to face it. The consequence is that not only do we share the same collective Identity as the Son of God (outside the dream), but we also share the very same ego (within the dream). And as with the flock of birds, every ego thought resonates through every mind, even though it does not appear to be that way.
This ego, masquerading as billions of individualized fragments, is one hundred percent hate. Not that we hate all the time, but whenever we choose wrong-minded thinking, this comes down to hate, albeit often veiled. This must be so, since the ego is the idea of separation from Oneness. Separation means attack. The very first concept that seemed to come into existence in the ego duality is consciousness: a mind that wishes to perceive itself as separate from something else. And from the Big Bang on, so it appears to be. Attack, though, must always be accompanied by guilt. When this guilt is about the enormous ‘sin’ of separating from the Creator, that guilt becomes intolerable. What’s more, this guilt is accompanied by fear of retaliation by God, who is of course fully justified in punishing us for this cardinal sin. In an attempt to hide from God’s wrath, the terrified ego fragments itself almost infinitely, to, as it were, become ‘ungraspable’. The brilliance of the Big Bang, setting in motion time and space, is that the oneness that once was, seems to be lost forever. What’s more, each splintered fragment of consciousness is now able to see ‘evil’ in all other fragments, but not in itself. To the ego, that’s a double treat and a very clever decision!
Except that this strategy of projection does not work, since (a) the collectiveness of the one ego is not gone but merely pushed out of individual awareness, and (b) projections always return to the projector, since defenses do what they would defend (T-17.IV.7). In Textbook chapter 24, Jesus graphically explains how we perceive evil in all others, and how we hate and wish to attack. Each of us wants “…to lead the other to a nameless precipice and hurl him over it.” (T-24.V.4). Consciously we try to defend our little self against a threatening world. But unconsciously the matter is much worse. As any good psychologist knows, everything we accuse others of we secretly fear in ourselves. As Jesus comments in chapter 7: “The belief that by seeing it [guilt; evil] outside you have excluded it from within is a complete distortion of the power of extension. That is why those who project are vigilant for their own safety. They are afraid that their projections will return and hurt them. Believing they have blotted their projections from their own minds, they also believe their projections are trying to creep back in. Since the projections have not left their minds, they are forced to engage in constant activity in order not to recognize this” (T-7.VIII.3).
As you go through your day, try to be aware of all that you perceive as “evil” outside of you. It might be your neighbor, your manager, your colleagues, loitering youth, the president, the police, religious extremists, you name it. As Kenneth Wapnick often explained in his workshops, it is so helpful to become aware of all your fearful thoughts about evil around you, then realize that these perceptions are projections of what you secretly believe to be the evil inside yourself, and then just observe that. Do no more. Should you react to such perception in any other way than non-judgmental observation, you will already have activated your ego again. If, however, you succeed in turning on the observer “above the battleground”, you place yourself in the position to choose the miracle that lends this Course its title, meaning: letting the fear in your mind be undone by the Holy Spirit, by allowing Him in, through the realization that “God thinks otherwise” (T-23.I.2). Do not deny your feelings, by the way; but do practice in not living them out on auto-pilot.
Back to our topic of collective consciousness, we can now see why Jesus tells us that: “All power is given unto you in earth and Heaven. There is nothing that you cannot do. You play the game of death, of being helpless, pitifully tied to dissolution in a world which shows no mercy to you. Yet when you accord it mercy, will its mercy shine on you.” (W-pI.191-9). That’s great news! Each time I truly forgive, forgiveness radiates through the entire seemingly fragmented cloud of life in the universe, in no time. This is the active mechanism of the miracle that we are not asked to understand, but merely to accept. Surely it does not seem to work that way. If, for example, I forgive my neighbor for parking his car right in front of my window all the time, my neighbor’s behavior is unlikely to change. That’s when people say: “I tried forgiving, but it doesn’t work. I tried it on John, but he keeps being a horrible person!” By such reasoning, we forget that John is merely a projected part of the ego that we don’t want to see in ourselves. By maintaining my dislike about John, I keep alive my unconscious dislike about myself, and nothing has really been forgiven at all.
In A Course in Miracles, we are told that the miracle, born of forgiveness, can have effects in unexpected places in the world we have never been, in times gone by or yet to come. Again, we are not asked to fathom this, but merely to accept it and diligently practice what Jesus advocates. “That the miracle may have effects on your brothers that you may not recognize is not your concern. The miracle always blesses you.” (T-1.III.8) This is why the answer as to how many teachers are needed to save the world is: one (M-12.1). It cannot be otherwise, since there is only one Son of God, of which we are all a holographic part. Forget the principle of the hundredth monkey, which holds that peace can only come if a sufficient number of people practice it. Seek not outside yourself. Forgive now, and all evil disappears, even though it may not seem to be that way instantly. You and I have “all power in earth and Heaven”, through the miracle, to set universal peace in motion, just by choosing it in the mind (which is by the way the true meaning of prayer: communion).
The collective consciousness as seen in the flock of birds is really universal. The seemingly many are one. You and I and the president and the most horrible terrorist are connected, since there is only one Son. A peaceful, forgiving mind is the greatest gift you can offer to all the perceived fragmented, splintered, evil egos you seem to see about you. Happy practicing!
Also see my seven “guidelines for living in an illusory world” in “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com: