The many things in the world are not different
One of the major teachings of A Course in Miracles, also present in Buddhism and Hinduism and many other belief systems, even present in the very first lessons of the Workbook, is that the physical world is a world of illusions. That many different objects only appear to be different, and their differences are meaningless.
In effect, the teaching is that you cannot judge a book by its cover, and you absolutely cannot take the objects of the world at face value. While most of the world believes that the world contains many many different things, different forms, objects, bodies, types, shapes, sizes, configurations, combinations etc, in truth there is actually only one thing here.
At first, to a person who is somewhat "blinded by perception of form", the world appears to be a tremendously complicated place filled with many different things. The differences are identified by how they appear, or what materials it seems to be made of, or how it behaves, or how it's constructed, or what it is used for, or what the symptoms seem to be etc. But these are all disguises.
Such a person will then believe that there really is a major real difference between a hammer and a screwdriver, between a car and a house, between a man and a woman, between a cake and some icecream. Places will all seem to be different and offer different seeming experiences. The next new toy will appear to be something you've never seen before. And everywhere you turn every single object seems to be distinct, separate and unique.
In such a view, uniqueness is valued highly, as though being unique and different sets you apart and identifies you and defines you. As if you stand out and be yourself by being unlike anything else. This merely emphasizes the sense of separateness between things and reinforces the belief that space and time are real.
The more a person thinks that there really are real differences between things, the more they will buy into what we call the "hierarchy of illusions". That is where some things are considered to MEAN something different to others, such as that a death is far "worse" than a mild headache, or that a million dollars is better than 1 dollar, or a burning house is a far worse problem than just that your fingernails need clipping.
For such a person, the world is seen as having the power to cause them, to victimize them, to do things to them. They see the world as both offensive and attractive. Some parts of it they will separate out and label as desirable, wanted, meaningful and valuable. At the same time other things which induce more unpleasant reactions will be relegated to hell and labeled as unwanted.
A person then will be living half a life, separated off, trying to maximize the good stuff and minimize the bad stuff. Always on the run and living in fear, trying to hide from and prevent all the terrible suffering and tragedies that happen, while simultaneously strongly investing in, believing in and wanting to keep, the very same world which induces these things - for its supposed benefits.
This is clearly an insane state of mind, in which a person is in a relationship with a fickle, unpredictable, demanding, controlling, overpowering world, which sometimes throws them a bone and gives them something to seemingly celebrate, while quickly turning around and slapping them in the face the next day with some horrifying problem.
Such a life is a rollercoaster of constantly being thrown around by the waves of whatever's next, with no real peace and no consistency and no true invulnerability. It is a life of fear, wrapped up in an interpretation which frames parts of it as a life that is wanted. A life of judgement, in which some aspects of the world are despised and rejected while others are overly embraced and absorbed into. This is not a spiritual life, it's a life of contradiction and conflict.
What we have to all come to realize, and what a person generally WILL realize given enough time, is that the offerings of the world are not REALLY different things. It may take exposure to a great many things the world seems to separately give, in order to "tire" of the lure of these differences, to transcend them, to see through them, and to realize they are all the same.
This is real spiritual progression, where a person begins to see that the differences between objects are all artificial and meaningless. That having that super precious rare gem is not really that important, versus having a glass of water. Where the extremes of the values of things versus others, flattens out, and a person becomes far less attracted to, or put off by, any particular "temptation" that the world is offering that day.
What this means is that the learning becomes generalized. As a person matures more spiritually they will realize there isn't really a significant difference between things. That in order to retain a sense of integrity, peace, consistency and honesty, the difference forms of things have to be ignored. In order not to be constantly thrown around on the rollercoaster of hell, reacting to everything as if it means something, you have to learn to become more stable and unconditional.
Not changing moods based on conditions, not adapting to what's happening, not allowing the world to do things to you, not seeing yourself as either victimized negatively OR positively, not giving power TO the world to change or define you, not allowing circumstances to dictate what will happen, not giving away power to the extremes of the hierarchy of illusions, and no longer falling for the temptation to believe that the world in certain configurations means hell on earth.
Being deceived by the forms and differences of the world is unconsciousness. It is a state of unawareness and spiritual irresponsibility. It indicates a person who is selfish and wants to get things from the world, but at the same time doesn't want the world to give them the wrong things. It's a person whose relationships are all based on specialness and unholiness, a person who is themselves not whole, who is in denial of wholeness and therefore distanced from God in their "independence."
In order to wake up to reality, a person has to learn that this world isn't really offering anything different. It is really regurgitating the same stuff. It spews out the same illusions in different forms. Masses of materialistic products are made in which everyone now tries to create every single possible variation of a thing. And how many such variations does anyone really need? Their differences are insubstantial and superficial. Their different appearances are regarded as the defining factor as to how valuable they and what price tag they come with. But it's all made of the same lies and untruths.
The real truth is that there IS no difference between anything in the world. All appearances are illusions. All forms and shapes and sizes and amounts and values are utterly deceptive. They are all designed to tempt you to believe, to deceive you into believing, that physical reality is real when it isn't. That there is a world of many things, all of which are unlike the others, offering you constant distractions and side-quests and tempting pathways, all of which lead to the same ultimate end in death.
The truth is that there is not really any choices in the world. ALL of the things the world offers lead to death and destruction. Whether it appears to temporarily give you something you want or to take it away quickly, all forms end in death. They are made of death because they are made of the attempt to separate things out, to attack the other, to be unlike, unequal, in a constant state of war and conflict, incapable of peace and never offering anything consistent.
Fluctuating illusions cannot be reality. If something can change its form and be something one day and something else the next, it has no real permanent identity. A flower goes from a seed to a bloom to a wilted mess and not one of those states is reality. It is all the same thing. Be not deceived by what you see in the world. The world presents a picture of nothing pretending to be something, and it has absolutely no meaning.
The entire drive of A Course in Miracles is to teach us and help us to practice NOT being deceived by physical differences, by appearances, or by any sense of there being any variation in importance or relevance between one object and another. As we look around the room and OVERLOOK any particular reason to categorize things or to say they are more or less applicable to the ONE truth, we are training ourselves to no longer be deceived by the world and its lies.
"The belief in order of difficulties is the basis for the world's perception. It rests on differences; on uneven background and shifting foreground, on unequal heights and diverse sizes, on varying degrees of darkness and light, and thousands of contrasts in which each thing seen competes with every other in order to be recognized. A larger object overshadows a smaller one. A brighter thing draws the attention from another with less intensity of appeal. And a more threatening idea, or one conceived of as more desirable by the world's standards, completely upsets the mental balance. What the body's eyes behold is only conflict. Look not to them for peace and understanding."
"Real choice is no illusion. But the world has none to offer. ALL its roads but lead to disappointment, nothingness and death. There IS no choice in its alternatives."
"Appearances deceive BUT CAN BE CHANGED. Reality is changeless. It does not deceive at all. And if you fail to see BEYOND appearances, you ARE deceived. For everything you see will change, and yet you thought it real before, and now you think it real again. Reality is thus reduced to form, and CAPABLE of change. Reality is changeless. It is this that MAKES it real, and KEEPS it separate from all appearances. It MUST transcend all form to be itself. It CANNOT change. The miracle is means to demonstrate that ALL appearances can change BECAUSE they are appearances, and CANNOT have the changelessness reality entails. The miracle attests salvation FROM appearances by SHOWING they can change."
"But appearances are shown to be unreal BECAUSE they change."
"Nothing so blinding as perception of form. For sight of form MEANS understanding HAS BEEN obscured. Only MISTAKES have different forms, and so they CAN deceive. You CAN change form, BECAUSE it is not true. It COULD not be reality, BECAUSE it can be changed. Reason will tell you that, if form is NOT reality, it MUST be an illusion. And is Not THERE to see. And, IF you see it, you MUST be mistaken, for you are seeing what can NOT be real, as if it WERE. What cannot see BEYOND what is not there, MUST be distorted perception. And must perceive illusions AS THE TRUTH. Could it, then, RECOGNIZE the truth?"
"Forgiveness is the only thing that stands for truth in the illusions of the world. It sees their nothingness, and looks right through the thousand forms in which they may appear. It looks on lies but it is not deceived."
"Applying the same idea to each of them separately is the first step in ultimately recognizing they are all the same."
"Everyone in this world seems to have his own special problems. Yet they are all the same, and must be recognized as one if the one solution which solves them all is to be accepted."
"This world SEEMS to hold out many purposes, each different, and with different values. Yet they are all the same. Again, there is no order, but a SEEMING hierarchy of values."
"The spark of beauty, or the veil of ugliness; the real world, or the world of guilt and fear; truth or illusion; freedom or slavery, - it is all the same. For you can NEVER choose EXCEPT between God and the ego."
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