Rethinking Separation: ACIM Lesson 30

There is a fun exercise in some contemporary nondual circles that basically revolves around the following: instead of seeing space as what separates you from a distant object (a lamp, a bed, a star), try to see it as what connects you.

This can be a powerful way of reframing one’s sense of separation, basically allowing us to see all of perception as a single image, rather than a bunch of separate ones coming together for a distinct observer.

That is not precisely what Lesson Thirty is inviting ACIM students to do, but it does nod in that general direction. Rather than see in the world what we would disown through projection, the lesson suggests we look for that with which we would join.

. . . we are trying to see in the world what is in our minds, and what we want to recognize is there. Thus, we are trying to join with what we see, rather than keeping it apart from us. That is the fundamental difference between vision and the way you see.

W-pI.30.2:3-5

This works because God is in everything we see because God is in our mind.

. . . the world will open up before you, and you will look upon it and see in it what you have never seen before. Nor will what you saw before be even faintly visible to you.

W-pI.30.1:2-3

We are shifting away from our emphasis on the body’s eyes and considering a new way of seeing whose source is mind rather than body. Thus, it is more akin to knowing an idea than to seeing an image.

You will notice that this lesson mentions God only in the title; after that it says nothing about God. It merely directs us to gaze around us (as well as things which are too far away to see with our eyes) and realize that the Lesson’s premise – our intimate proximity to God – infuses everything we see.

Yet, by not mentioning God again after the title, the lesson downplays the divine drama (and the attendant risk of specialness) in favor of keeping us focused on actual practice. The emphasis is not on grandeur, but on what is practical. We are essentially seeing that our habit of projection can be put to a better use.

Later, the course will refer to this as extension – that is, extending love rather than projecting fear (e.g., T-2.I.1:7).

Thus, we learn in this lesson that our minds can join as well as separate.

This is a critical insight! At no one point are we apart from God because God is in our mind (and note that mind here does not denote the brain’s output). Although we can be deeply confused about our union with God, we cannot be separate from God.

But again, this unity is at the level of mind, which the course establishes as other than the level of the body. It is only mind that is capable of creativity and correction (e.g., T-2.IV.2:10).

Only the mind can create because spirit has already been created, and the body is a learning device for the mind. Learning devices are not lessons in themselves.

T-2.IV.3:1-2

Thus, lesson 30 deepens our relationship with mind, by giving attention to how it functions. How it functions is what it is, and what it is is not affected by the body’s limitations.

Real vision is not only unlimited by space and distance, but it does not depend on the body’s eyes at all. The mind is its only source.

W-pI.30.5:1-2

Personally, this has historically a good lesson to linger on, not so much in terms of understanding the ideas but on their application. Nothing can be lost – and a lot gained – by making this a sustainable aspect of our spiritual practice.


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2 Comments

  1. Sean, there’s a difficult-to-understand statement in the text for this section. I’ve been reading ACIM since 1992 but still sometimes puzzled by the language. This one needs explanation: “Only the mind can create because spirit has already been created.” OK – Spirit has already been created — ergo WHAT?
    Daniel

    1. Yeah, those early chapters are bumpy sometimes.

      For me that sentence is awkward because the phrases on either side of “because” should be reversed for clarity. In other words, I read that sentence as saying something like:

      Because spirit has been created, mind can create as well.

      And mind does create, on behalf of spirit, to teach those who still believes they’re bodies that they are actually mind.

      Mind creates this way because the body CAN’T create. It can’t teach anybody anything.

      As you know, in ACIM theology, the Holy Spirit is God’s “answer” to separation – e.g., it is “the means by which the Atonement heals until the whole mind returns to creating” (T-5.II.2:5).

      So God creates Spirit, and Spirit heals the split mind by teaching it to create like its Creator.

      Our problem is that we think bodies CAN create because we think we ARE bodies. The whole point of the course is to reverse that thinking. We’re not wrong about our creativity, we’re just trying to create at the wrong level.

      Does that make sense?

      ~ Sean

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