We wish, and then perceive

We are brought up with the idea that those who are most likely to survive on this planet, are the ones that adapt best to the environment around them. We are taught to keenly observe people, places and situations around us, and then react to these things in such a way that will solidify our effectiveness and welfare in this life. We first look; we then give meaning to what our eyes behold, and then we react. This world is clearly a stimulus-response environment to which we need to adapt as best as we can.

How startling, then, to read in A Course in Miracles that this is a complete upside down perception of reality! In the nondualistic metaphysics of A Course in Miracles, which incidentally includes several core principles of quantum physics, the world did not cause us: we caused the world we seem to live in, including the entire notion of time and space. It’s mind-boggling to read that the collective mind that we all share (somewhat similar to the collective mind of a large flock of birds), actually made up an entire universe in time and space, and then split up in billions of seemingly amnesiac fragments, to hide from the supposed wrath of a vengeful Creator, intent on punishing His Son for trying to separate from Oneness. And yet that is what Jesus tries to convey: our senses do not report reality; we made our senses to forget about the reality outside time and space, to see a dualistic world instead, in which we can dream we are an autonomous individual.

In the workbook, Jesus tells us: “The purpose of all seeing is to show you what you wish to see. All hearing but brings to your mind the sounds it wants to hear. Thus were specifics made.” (W-pI.161.2:1-3:1). And from the text: “You see what you expect, and you expect what you invite. Your perception is the result of your invitation, coming to you as you sent for it.” (T-12.VII.5:1-2). Thus Jesus’ general axiom, repeated several times in the Course: “Projection makes perception” (T-13.V.3:5, T-21.in.1:1). The seemingly sleeping Son of God projected away his guilt over the seeming sin of separation, resulting in a split mind, wherein guilt is seen in what was split off to billions of fragments, and perceived innocence of self remains. Yet both aspects remain in the mind, since ideas leave not their source (T-26.VII.4:7). We made bodies in a myriad of forms to be able to perceive sin and guilt outside of us. And we are constantly on our guard, fearful that these perceived forms might attack and kill us.

That’s why Jesus tells us that everything and everyone we perceive, including ourselves, are forms of unforgiveness: “Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness. Yet that is the content underneath the form.” (W-pI.193.4:1-2). Since we believe what our eyes and ears report to us, we do not even remotely consider if our perception might just be false interpretation: “Of one thing you were sure: of all the many causes you perceived as bringing pain and suffering to you, your guilt was not among them. Nor did you in any way request them for yourself. This is how all illusions came about. The one who makes them does not see himself as making them, and their reality does not depend on him. Whatever cause they have is something quite apart from him, and what he sees is separate from his mind. He cannot doubt his dreams’ reality, because he does not see the part he plays in making them and making them seem real.” (T-27.VII.7:4-9)

To summarize up to now: A Course in Miracles, as a strictly nondualistic spirituality, teaches us that we do not first perceive and then interpret: we first choose what we wish, and then perceive. We first wished to be on our own (apart from God) and then, in a seemingly nightmarish dream of time and space, made up a plethora of forms as a container for the guilt that we wished to see outside of us – the content behind all forms. Our sensory organs perceive these forms and, not surprisingly, report that sin and guilt are indeed outside of us. This process of perceiving is so distracting to the (seemingly sleeping) mind, that we do not reconsider this strange notion of first perceiving and then interpreting. And so we live our lives in this world as strangers in a strange land, “uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear” (T-31.VIII.7:1).

Now you might argue that this may be explicable from a metaphysical point of view, but that it isn’t very practical. As long as we experience ourselves in time and space, what value can this offer us, who “count the hours still, and rise and work and go to sleep by them?” (W-pI.169.10:4) What’s the use of abstract nondualism while we still experience ourselves working hard to be able to pay the bills and taxes, and to be able to maintain some kind of orderly structure in the hours, days, and years of our lives? This is where we touch upon one of Jesus’ core messages in A Course in Miracles: ‘you may not yet believe that there is no world, but you can accept that you have a split mind that chooses each instant of the day between judgment (the ego’s voice) and peace (the Holy Spirit’s voice, or true intuition).’

“Whose manifestations would you see? Of whose presence would you be convinced? For you will believe in what you manifest, and as you look out so will you see in. […] Remember always that you see what you seek, for what you seek you will find. The ego finds what it seeks, and only that. It does not find love, for that is not what it is seeking. […] As you look in, you choose the guide for seeing. And then you look out and behold its witnesses.” (T-12.VII.5:3-6:3). In other words, although we usually choose to perceive sin and guilt around us, since that is what we made this world for, the decision making part of our mind has the power to choose another teacher. This is a most crucial choice to change what we are looking for: while we used to look for separation and autonomy, we now choose to look for sameness and unity. And Jesus patiently explains to us that the first way of looking only leads to suffering, while the other way of looking leads to inner peace.

“‘Who walks with me?’ This question should be asked a thousand times a day, till certainty has ended doubting and established peace.” (W-pI.156.8:1-2). Jesus means this quite literally. Since we are so conditioned in seeing misery and (potential) enemies outside us, even if we try to repress that by indulging in special love relationships and blissninnihood, we ought to be vigilant for the choice of guide the decision maker in our mind makes: we either listen to the voice of the ego or that of the Holy Spirit. We literally make this choice a thousand times a day; we should therefore ask ourselves a thousand times a day to which guide we are choosing to listen.

I conclude by quoting an inspiring passage from the same workbook lesson 156, reminding us that salvation does not lie in how we choose to interpret the world, but in how the Holy Spirit interprets the world, namely as a classroom to learn to forgive unconditionally, and so undo all black spots in the mind, leading to real lasting peace (W-pI.156.6:2): “As you step back, the light in you steps forward and encompasses the world. It heralds not the end of sin in punishment and death. In lightness and in laughter is sin gone, because its quaint absurdity is seen. It is a foolish thought, a silly dream, not frightening, ridiculous perhaps, but who would waste an instant in approach to God Himself for such a senseless whim? Yet you have wasted many, many years on just this foolish thought. The past is gone, with all its fantasies. They keep you bound no longer. The approach to God is near. And in the little interval of doubt that still remains, you may perhaps lose sight of your Companion, and mistake Him for the senseless, ancient dream that now is past. […] Today let doubting cease. God speaks for you in answering your question with these words:

I walk with God in perfect holiness. I light the world,
I light my mind and all the minds which God created one with me.”


See also “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:


5 thoughts on “We wish, and then perceive

  1. Pingback: A brilliant compilation how it came to be. | Hanswesterveld's Blog

  2. Pingback: We nemen waar wat we wensen – Ik zoek innerlijke vrede .nl

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