Thought is Never Neutral

It is true that the world and our lives in it do not appear to be neutral. People step on our toes or say hurtful things. There are car accidents and homicides. There is starvation and homelessness. It is as if we live in Mark Antony’s nightmare of revenge for the murder of Caesar:

Blood and destruction shall be so in use
And dreadful objects so familiar
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter’d with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds:
And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.

For we live as if we are guilty of hideous crimes, and expect a horrifying revenge at any moment, and all the world bears witness to our sins, which can only be repaid in blood.

And yet A Course in Miracles assures us that the world we behold with our physical eyes is illusory and neutral: neither good nor bad.

Now are you freed from this much of the dream; the world is neutral, and the bodies that still seem to move about as separate things need not be feared (T-28.II.10:6).

But this is not our experience. We experience it as hell or – in the case of many ACIM teachers and students – sort of frantically insist that it’s really Heaven, radiating joy and peace.

How can we truly know the world as neutral? By seeing that it is only our thoughts that shade the world and our experience this way or that. For unlike the wholly neutral world, our thoughts are never neutral – they are always either true or false – and so always yield effects accordingly.

[s]alvation requires that you also recognize that every thought you have brings either peace or war; either love or fear. A neutral result is impossible because a neutral thought is impossible (W-pI.16.3:1-2).

This is why the course is so insistent that we focus not on changing the externals but on making contact with the mind that makes decisions: the ground from which our thoughts emerge.

It is like saying that we stand beside a river that is polluted and gross. And so we set about cleaning it up – we are very diligent and busy. But the day after our massive efforts, the pollution returns. Why? Because its source is upstream.

We have to go to the source of the problem in order to heal it. We cannot heal the source of the problem by attending only to its effects.

Every thought you have contributes to truth or to illusion; either it extends the truth or it multiplies illusions (W-pI.16.2:3).

It is so tempting to remain at the level of effect: to behold the many symptoms of separation the world offers and engage with them, choosing this one over that, and trying to fix that one while putting down this one.

That is a waste of time. The only real work – the only fruitful practice – is to make contact with the mind whose thoughts are so rich and variegated and powerful that they can literally bring a whole hellish world into existence. Making that contact is precedent to making contact with God – with what is – and thus opens the doors to genuine inner peace and joy.

What God did not create does not exist. And everything that does exist exists only as He created it. The world you see has nothing to do with reality. It is of your own making, and does not exist (W-pI.14.1:2-5).

This is the truth and it is this to which our study and practice leads. When we accept it, we are instantly home. We are instantly at peace.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • janine June 21, 2013, 3:33 pm

    Dear Sean,

    Thx for illustrating so clearly the meaning of neutrality. Neutrality was somehow a topic today and this post helped!

    My warm regards

    • Sean Reagan June 22, 2013, 8:48 am

      You’re welcome, Janine. Thank you for reading –


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