One of the salient qualities of the ego is its perennial dissatisfaction. No matter what happens, it wants something else.
This is an example of what A Course in Miracles calls “wrong perception” or “misperception.” Healing it is a major focus of miracles (T-1.I.49:2).
A miracle is a correction introduced into false thinking . . . it acts as a catalyst, breaking up erroneous perception and reorganizing it properly. This places you under the Atonement principle, where perception is healed (T-1.I.37:1-3).
We can observe misperception and its effect in our lives. Our goals are always shifting: we want lots of money and when we get it, we want more. Or we decide what we really want is simplicity. We get the dream job and then discover a newer, better job. Or a new sex partner. Maybe vegetarianism would bring us closer to God.
This kind of thinking can be quite subtle and we are often loathe to admit it. We want to be spiritual and sane, not greedy and insane. But faking happiness and peace are not happiness and peace. They are distractions. We don’t have to do anything for joy and peace – they are the natural result of setting the ego aside.
Letting go of the ego is what heals perception. Absent ego’s judgment, we perceive things as they are. They are no longer impeded by the ego’s goals for it. Our lives do not actually require interpreting but that is all the ego knows how to do: interpret things and assign them meaning and value, over and over. And while this keeps the ego going, for a time, it never works in terms of inner peace and happiness.
Wrong perception is the wish that things be as they are not. The reality of everything is totally harmless, because total harmlessness is the condition of its reality. It is also the condition of your awareness of reality. You do not have to seek reality. It will seek you and find you when you meet its conditions (T-8.IX.2:1-5).
This is very clear! The work is to learn how to do no work; or rather, to see that what we are doing is not working, and so to go slowly and quietly and see what happens when we stop insisting that we know what we’re doing, we know how things work, we know what’s best, et cetera.
The present moment is sufficient. The gift of the holy instant is our sine qua non (T-15.I.15:11-11). The ego is happy to accept these concepts as ideals – it will cheerfully consent to putting them on bumper stickers – but it will resist with all its might if we try to make it center of our living.
So the question becomes: can we make contact with our desire that life – right now, right here – be other than it is? Can we see the action of wrong perception as it happens?
That is, can we ask: what do we wish was different about our life and then allow the answers – and the false logic underlying them – to come to the surface? Can we give attention to them?
And then, seeing it, can we also realize that it is only this desire to change things that brings us to grief? That stands in the way of inner peace?
Peace is simply the relinquishment of the impulse to judge the present and find it wanting. This is the essence of all the early lessons. We don’t understand what we perceive (W-pI.3), what it means (W-pI.10), or how to respond to it (W-pI.12). All we actually see – until the miracle heals out minds – is the meaning that we given everything (W-pI.2).
We come back to the beginning then. We start again in this moment simply by recognizing the ego’s desire to change everything – to look at everything, judge everything, and keep us on a path of shifting standards and perennial dissatisfaction.
The ego professes to be able to make our living happier and more peaceful by making it all different.
But there is another way: we can accept what is given precisely as it is given. We can make it all the same (T-15.XI.10:11). The Peace of God waits only on our acceptance of this gift, and to receive it as such is to heal the means by which it is given.