I am drawn to the theme of lessons 18 and 19 in this review – we are not alone if the effects of either our thoughts or our seeing. This leads naturally to the conclusion of lesson 20: we must become determined to see. This determination – which is our vigilance for God and our willingness to be guided to a different choice – underlies our evolution as Course students.
We can make contact with the seeds of this determination simply by paying attention to the world that we perceive. More specifically, we are called to be aware of our response to it. What is it that you see? Feel? Hear? Does your perception lead to conflict – even subtle conflict – inside you? Or does it lead to peace?
On some level, any perception of form at all – a perfect orange, a gorgeous sunset – is evidence that to a tiny degree we remain invested in the separation. And to be invested even a little, is to be invested wholly. But there are less subtle examples. For example, earlier today while driving back from the college where I teach, I passed a mother and her daughter at a bus stop. The mother was smoking and yelling into a cell phone. The little daughter – I’m guessing a year old, maybe a year and half – was in a rickety old stroller, her jacket open, bawling. There was a doll or a teddy bear or something like that on the grass in front of her.
I felt very sad at this scene – sad for the little girl who was perhaps cold, and who was certainly missing her toy. I felt sad for the mother who looked tired and harassed – and I know for a fact that life doesn’t get easier with little ones. I also felt some judgment – smoking around kids is really bad. Couldn’t she make a healthier choice? Shouldn’t she be paying attention to her child?
All in all, it was one big separation perception.
That didn’t occur to me until a few miles down the road. But it’s true. Our perceptions are witnesses to the interior state – which is guided by either the ego or the Holy Spirit. What this review does, is remind us that we are not alone in the effects of our seeing. Thus, it’s not really possible – nor spiritually feasible – to believe that I can judge that mother and daughter and not a) feel the effects of that judgment myself and thus remain anchored in my belief in separation and b) keep them locked in the separation as well.
It wasn’t that I didn’t pull over and offer to help – I’m not sure under the circumstances that would have been reasonable. But the mere fact that I felt sadness and judgment could have tipped me off immediately that I was relying on the ego’s lens.
Recognizing the shared nature of my thoughts, I am determined to see. I would look up on the witnesses that show me the thinking of the world has been changed. I would behold the proof that what has been done through me has enabled love to replace fear, laughter to replace tears, and abundance to replace loss (W-pI.54.5:2-4).
It’s important to understand that this was not abound the people I looked at – nor was it really about the body that seemed to be looking and judging as it passed. Rather, it was about our shared thoughts – our one mind. So long as I insist on fragmenting it through egoic perception, I’m going to be sad and lonely and bitter. And so are you. That mutuality – that shared condition – is what can motivate us to choose differently. If not for me, for you.