On Knowledge and Perception


In my dream
we walked to the lake
and you asked me questions
about awakening and love.

Your hands gestured
in the moonlight
like birds
whose name was not yet given.

“I want to know
what you know,”
you said. “I want
to know the whole of it.”

When we reached the water
you continued
across it
borne on its surface like an image of the moon.

I knelt on the beach
and watched you go,
neither calling you back
nor bothering to follow,

for what could I say
that you had not given me to say?
And where could I go
you had not already helped me go?

And where else could you learn
that I was your student
and you my teacher,
save in the solitude

I alone can give you?


The invitation inherent in A Course in Miracles is to know thyself. Any other knowledge is illusory. To know is to know thyself. Everything else is simply perception.

Perception is the body’s way of sensing what is going on and attempting to understand and collate and categorize it. Through its senses the body gathers data and through its brain it organizes that data in order to sustain, nurture and protect the body.

Perception is not separate from what is perceived. There is no such thing as hearing without sound, no such thing as sight without what is seen and so forth. There is no space between hearing and what is heard, seeing and what is seen.

Perception is always experienced in the particular. We hear chickadees and crows, see apple trees and moonlight, touch rivers and horses, taste ice cream and sauerkraut, smell wood smoke and bread baking.

Perception is separative and thus invites preference, the hierarchizing of what is different according to the body’s relationship to pleasure and pain.

Perception causes conflict, which includes efforts to resolve conflict in favor of peace, inner and otherwise.

Perception always appears as local and personal. It implies a center, which is the body, and an experiencer and decider, which is the self.

Yet upon investigation, it is seen that the body too is perceived. It is sensed. Like all that is perceived, the body comes and goes.

And upon investigation, it is seen that the self too is perceived. It is conceptual – an interpretation of bodily experience as central, personal and causative. It is an idea about what all these perceptions and memories of perceptions and anticipations of perceptions mean for the body.

Perception runs by itself, without regard for any apparent interpretation or investment.

It is possible to be attentive to what is perceived.

Attention is responsive. It can be directed.

But attention is also neutral. It observes a funeral the same as a birthday party. Of itself, it excludes nothing, even itself.

Attention is impersonal. Its function never changes.

The suggestion to “give attention” is simply a suggestion to be aware of what is perceived – objects, feelings, ideas, will and so forth.

Attention exposes the relative nature of bodily existence, which allows one to see clearly the full nature of human experience.

Seen clearly, the full nature of human experience points to – but is not itself – knowledge.

Knowledge is that which is without opposite.

It cannot be objectified.

It has no parts.

It is not “whole” because that would imply the possibility of “not-whole.”

Knowledge is not “of” something.

It cannot be gained or lost. It cannot be refined or expanded. It cannot be taken or given. It cannot be taught because it cannot be learned.

That which is relative – the self, the body – does not transform into that which is absolute.

The relative does not “come to know” the whole.

Perception does not become knowledge.

However, through attention, perception can be seen as fractured and separative.

Through attention, perception can be seen as only relatively true.

Through attention, one can see that what is “relatively true” is false.

Through attention, one can see that what is “false” is not wrong but simply unreal.

Perception reaches no further than that distinction.

Though perception will keep running so long as the material conditions for its function continue to appear, it no longer commands investment or attachment.

Attention – previously the servant of the body and the self – turns to what is true. It turns to knowledge.

However, nothing actually happens. Nothing actually changes.

There is nothing to turn to, just as there is nothing to turn away from.

Knowledge is not hidden. It has no boundaries, guarded or otherwise.

What always was and always will be simply is.

And nothing else is.

The language of A Course in Miracles can be maddening. It appears to invite discord. It appears to imply that learning is necessary. It appears to imply hierarchies of experience and wisdom necessitating choice.

And yet.

To the devoted student, the course is simply a means of discerning what is false.

The course simply teaches the ready student to see the false as false, which is the only precondition to knowing what is true.

What is true cannot be taught.

It is simply what is when what is false is seen as false.

A Course in Miracles has no objective other facilitating this discernment.


Life belongs to the Giver of Life.
It belongs to itself.
There is no such thing as “my life”
or “your life.”
There is no such thing as “our life.”
There is only Life,
and endless
and without division.
It is incapable
of being owned
and cannot be made
into what it is not.
When the one who dreams
they are apart from life
sees all this clearly
they become like a violet
in a part of the field
nobody visits.
Where is loveliness
when no one beholds it?
Where is grace
when nobody receives it?
What is wholeness
absent naming?
How perfectly
the secret flower blooms . . .


I only share
what you asked me to remember

before there was a garden –
before there was a flood –
before there was the One –

there was this love

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