After watching a television program about recent politics in the U.S., I was wondering why there was so much polarization and animosity, not only between the candidates, but also those who so adamantly divided themselves into opposing camps. There was no “rational” discussion of the issues. Each side seemed only intent on finding—sometimes inventing—issues of personal vulnerability in the candidates that they could use to attack. There was obviously more than the differences in political philosophy at work. Tom and I had an interesting discussion about this which I will share with you here.
Tom: To understand what provokes our interactions with one another it is helpful to remember that the ego’s function in the world is to find what is wrong and then firmly assign the blame for it. This projection is needed to hide what it secretly blames itself for.
Seeing itself as guilty, vulnerable an deserving of attack, the ego’s function is to defend itself. It looks for what it needs to defend against and so expects to find the negative because that is how it experiences itself.
Linda: So on a large scale as a result of this, we have politics and war, and on a more intimate, personal scale we have our personalized version of the need for this projection to maintain separation from one another. Regardless of the “scale” of it, I must realize that at all times I am seeing only what I have unconsciously chosen to express what I think is true about me.
Tom: What comes as a result of our looking for negativity in the world confirms the negative way we see ourselves. We look for it because it is what we have found in ourselves. Then what we “see” confirms this belief. It is a closed circuit. This is the purpose we have given the world, and is also the real cause of the “natural” disasters we bring to it. There is no consciousness in the so called “elements” of nature that could cause a physical manifestation of what we would describe as a hurricane, a flood or an earthquake. There is nothing “out there” in the world that is independent from our perception. The world we experience is truly and only a state of mind. Nothing is present there that has not come as a result of the thoughts and purpose of our singular ego consciousness.
Linda: But how can it be that each of us individually seem to experience the world so differently?
Tom: We believe we are seeing individually simply because we perceive ourselves as separate individuals. The manifestation in form that our thoughts take in the world may be the same as others, or different depending on our circumstances in the world. The experience of lack, for example, might show up as a loss of freedom if you are living in a repressive society, while in another situation it may appear as not having enough food to eat. Superficially, these circumstances may appear quite different, but the outcome is the same—the belief is that there is something missing in us, that there must be something wrong with us. Because the ego can only see itself as separate and vulnerable in some way, we find and see this in the world in a way that best reflects how we see ourselves.
Linda: How then do we actually change this belief?
Tom: The only place change can occur is in how we see ourselves. This is the purpose of A Course in Miracles and some other teachings of non-duality— to show us that there is something different about us than what we now believe. There has always been a part of consciousness seeking a truth different from the ego’s perception. The awareness of what is true has never been completely lost because the moment that the belief in sin and separation arose, God placed the awareness of truth in the ego’s consciousness where that illusion had begun. This is the “Presence” we call the Holy Spirit or the God Self.
Changing our mind is accomplished by changing the image we have adopted for ourselves from separate and defensive to connected and loving. This is accomplished by moment to moment making choices that now support a connected and loving self. We have assessed “where” we are by how satisfied we are with what we see. We “move” ourselves from being dissatisfied to satisfied with what we see by choosing to be connected and loving because this reflects the true nature of our real Self.
Linda: Then it doesn’t matter what system of belief one chooses to remember the truth, but what is essential is that we find a way to connect and be led from this inner divine guidance.
Tom: The fact that the man, Jesus, accessed this Presence directly changed our experience of it in one very significant respect: prior to his doing so our experience of an inner “knowing” was more abstract and much of what we made of it was left to the ego’s interpretation. In other words, the experience of this Presence was a blending of what is true and what the ego could accept as true while still retaining the foundation of its beliefs.
Only when Jesus directly accessed this Presence and recognized it as something completely different from his own perception could he realize that that perception was wrong in its entirety. No part of it could be true if he were to believe what this new awareness unfolded for him. It was here that he recognized that to know the truth, he would have to surrender everything he had previously believed.
Linda: Now we have the same opportunity.
Tom: He has offered us forgiveness is a means to accomplish this because forgiveness releases the judgments made by our perception and frees the mind to accept this completely different awareness that is being offered in its place!