In an important sense, what we are in truth cannot be disassociated from reality, because what we are in truth is reality, and reality is beyond alteration. All we can do is change our mind about reality: we can think we are separate from it, and this thought can be both persuasive and pervasive, but it cannot be true. Thus, salvation is little more than a decision to be saved, which is to say, a decision to think differently about reality.
A simple way to look at this is to consider a child’s belief in Santa Claus. At a certain age, my children’s conviction in the reality of this benevolent and magical man from the North Pole is unshakeable. The entire Christmas holiday is shaped by it. Yet there is no Santa Claus. At the same time, the belief that there is is total and so there might as well be a Santa Claus.
This simply reflects the capacity of our mind’s power: what it believes is reality becomes reality regardless of what is real. That is why the course teaches that “the secret of salvation is but this: that you doing this unto yourself” (T-27.VIII.10:1).
As adults we do not believe in Santa Claus. But we believe in fear. We believe in hunger. We believe in scarcity. We believe in guilt. We project these qualities onto our brothers and sisters, and then live in terror because the world is full of what we are too scared to undo at the level where it begins: internally. Tara Singh said that a student of A Course in Miracles had to see from the outset of their study that “the unlearning of the conventional thought system is of first importance.”
There is a different way of looking at a situation. Are we seeing that perhaps ninety percent of what we call fear is an unwillingness to question the authority of doubt and the limitation one imposes upon oneself? Wisdom lies in inner correction (Nothing Real Can Be Threatened 80).
It is worth asking: how to we make contact with reality outside the limits of interpretation? Of opinion and belief? This is how thought imposes on reality: it draws conclusions about reality and we decide those conclusions are reality. Thus, as Tara Singh observed, we are always seeing reality through a veil of misperception.
In a sense, stillness and quiet are a gift we offer in the name of Salvation, and in which we learn that Salvation is merely a name for what never happened, because it couldn’t happen.
This is the responsibility; to bring the mind to a sensitivity that knows no fear, no problems, and no insecurity. In this state, we become aware of the One Min of which we are all a part. Out of that, some other Action takes place that we cannot name because it is not of the brain. But it will be given, and we will extend it (Nothing Real Can Be Threatened 178).
Healing is of our mind: its habit of misperception is healed in order that we might perceive what is without the imposition of thought and its fear and guilt and anguish and so forth.
It is valuable to spend time alone giving attention to the action and movement of thought. When I say “alone,” I really mean time in a context of minimal distractions. In order to really see thought in a sustained way, most of us need to keep the bustle of Life – beautiful and helpful in its way – at bay for a while.
Ask yourself: is this thought real or does it reflect interpretation? If it is interpretation, who is interpreting and what information is being used as the basis for interpreting? Push yourself a little: don’t settle. Reality is not hard to find, but the habit of interpretation can be very hard to surrender. It is often very subtle and almost never not powerful.
At some point in this process (of giving attention to thought), we begin to see that the move to interpret thought is essentially a decision. A Course in Miracles casts this decision in terms of the inner teacher we are choosing – the Holy Spirit or the ego. With whom are we looking? We have two choices, each leading to drastically different effects.
This is the essence of the Rules for Decision, which is my favorite part of the text of A Course in Miracles. It is deeply practical and powerful; no other part of the text has been as beneficial.
Whenever we decide that there is another way to see this – whatever it is – then we are eschewing our limited interpretation in favor of the Teacher of Reality who knows. In effect then, we are deciding for reality rather than illusion.
That is why I said at the beginning that salvation is nothing more than the decision to be saved.
In time we have to make this decision over and over (T-30.I.1:1). We have to practice. And A Course in Miracles is clear that we can’t possibly arrest our lives to the point where every single moment is given to asking for guidance. That would be cumbersome. Thus, we are encouraged to adopt a mindset of willingness and openness at the beginning of the day. This is sufficient to see us through.
It is not wise to let yourself become preoccupied with every step you take. The proper set, adopted consciously each time you wake, will put you well ahead (T-30.I.1:4-5).
This is not an intellectual process, however much the intellect enjoys engaging with it. It is more in the nature of using an umbrella when it rains: practical and efficient and consistent in its results. We are asking the Holy Spirit to decide for us because thought remains forever invested in right and wrong, yes and no, good and bad.
Would God have left the meaning of the world to your interpretation? If He had, it has no meaning. For it cannot be that meaning changes constantly, and yet is true (T-30.VII.1:1-3).
Yet, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the world has but “one purpose, changelessly established” (T-30.VII.1:4). That is reality, beyond the limited scope of egoic thought, forever limited by its belief in scarcity and its faith in competition and improvement.
Our awareness of it begins with our attention to thought: the space beyond which is God. In a sense, stillness and quiet are a gift we offer in the name of Salvation, and in which we learn that Salvation is merely a name for what never happened, because it couldn’t happen. God is, and we remain as God created us.