Everything that we perceive arises as – and on account of – distinctions. A raspberry is not a blueberry which is not a bowl of ice cream which is not the river flowing in the distance. Given our structure, in order for anything to be brought forth, it must be distinguished from what it is not.
If you look into this, you will see how it works. Just look at the cup; look at the river; look at your desires and dreams. After a while, one naturally begins to wonder what the first distinction is, or even what the ground from which the first distinction (and all subsequent distinctions) arise.
These are fun and interesting questions! The challenge is that, given our structure – both physical and cognitive – we cannot reach the undifferentiated ground from which all distinctions arise. We can speculate about the ground; we can argue for its existence. But we can’t reach it. The Beginning, the Source, God, the Divine Et Cetera – remains forever separate from us (at least in form 🙂 ).
A Course in Miracles asserts that this habit of distinction – which is separation – represents the fundamental difference between ego and spirit. Ego distinguishes, and its distinctions are its ongoing struggle to live; spirit does not make comparisons and thus lives forever.
Critically, spirit cannot be known via comparisons (or judgment of any kind).
Spirit . . . is not a continuum, nor is it understood by being compared to an opposite. Knowledge never involves comparisons. This is its main difference from everything else the mind can grasp (T-4.II.11:9, 11-13).
This bright line – spirit here, ego there – is the foundation of ACIM’s assertion that spirit is forever unaware of ego and vice-versa (e.g., T-4.II.8:5-8). You can’t get there from here. You can’t have a spiritual experience as an ego.
But there is hope because our distinction-making minds can learn to be “right-minded.” To be right-minded is be “uniformly without attack” (T-4.II.10:2) because the mind understands and accepts without question that spirit “is not in danger and does not need to be salvaged” (T-4.II.9:7).
Ego’s dominion crumbles when we no longer perceive spirit as an enemy – that is, as a separate object that has something we want (eternal life, perfect joy) that it won’t just share with us. Our battle with our misperception of spirit is literally what the ego is. When we stop fighting, ego is gone.
This is what A Course in Miracles intimates right-mindedness is. And the inevitable outcome of this healed clarity is the realization that perception itself is unnecessary (T-4.II.11:3).
That is a powerful statement that makes no sense – and cannot make sense – to the structure that we have and with which we are aligned. How can one live without perception?
You may ask how this is possible as long as you appear to be living in this world. That is a reasonable question. You must be careful, however, that you really understand it. Who is the “you” who are living in this world? (T-4.II.11.5-8).
To the body, the world and other bodies will always be real. They will always be the beginning of our questioning, which means that – as regards what the body cannot understand – and our answers will be confused and unhelpful. You can’t explain how a bicameral legislature works to a child; no more can you explain spirit’s function to the ego (whose very existence depends on misunderstanding).
So the work as such is to let go of ego. This happens when we give attention to our living and notice when we are thinking egoically – which is to say, in terms and conditions that make sense only to bodies. I want this and if I don’t get it I’ll be miserable, I must have that to prove to everyone I’m special, that person is evil, this person is not pleasing me, et cetera.
Noticing these thought patterns is not easy! We are habituated to thinking from the perspective – the location – of a body at stake in a world. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to take the alternative slowly, to admit to confusion or even fear. It’s okay to notice ego but still not understand how to think another way – with God or Spirit or Christ.
Admitting our status as beginners is what brings forth the ladder we ascend to joy and peace; it’s what makes the ascent possible.
In truth, as soon as we open ourselves up to the confusion that a good question initially begets, we are no longer of the ego, but are turning our attention to the abstract light of Christ, or Spirit, which is itself the answer.
That is, we begin to perceive that the answer is not how to better use the body, or better relate to other bodies, but rather to attend the light – the life – in which those bodies are brought forth.
The Kingdom of Heaven is you. What else but you did the Creator create, and what else but you is His Kingdom? . . . Your ego and your spirit will never be co-creators, but your spirit and your Creator will always be (T-4.III.1:4-5).
In other words, there is no distinction between “having the Kingdom of God and being the Kingdom of God” (T-4.9:7). The body believes there is a difference; spirit knows otherwise.
In your own mind, though denied by the ego, is the declaration of your release. God has given you everything (T-4.III.9:1-2).
Give attention. Let the world soften and blur. Let the body be a body. When we release the body from the demands of ego, it becomes a prism through which the light of Christ – which is the light of Love – streams. We are not the object which notices those streams; we are the streams. We are – together – the very streams of Love.