What A Course in Miracles calls "the separation", was a rejection of reality. We denied what was real and blocked our awareness of it. We lost touch with reality and forgot what it was like.
"The separation is merely a faulty formulation of reality, WITH NO EFFECT AT ALL."
"For separation IS the source of guilt, and to APPEAL to it for salvation IS TO BELIEVE YOU ARE ALONE."
This event - the fall of man, the detour into fear - marked our entry into a "separated state" of mind, which we are still in. The separated state is an entire system of thought in which separation is constantly being perpetuated and chosen.
"Separateness" is a mindset in which we believe in being cut off, we separate ourselves off from each other, we stop sharing and become selfish, we try to be special and different, we withdraw from reality, and we exclude ourselves in isolation and imprisonment. We're still doing this right now and every day.
"The Separation is NOT symbolic. It is an order of reality, or a system of thought that is PERFECTLY real in time, though not in Eternity. All beliefs are real to the believer."
"Separation is only the decision NOT to know yourself. Its whole thought-system is a carefully-contrived learning experience, designed to lead AWAY from truth, and into fantasy."
"The separation IS the notion of rejection. As long as you teach this, YOU still believe it."
Denying reality means we cannot tell what is true and what is false. We cannot tell what is real and what is unreal. This produces tremendous confusion. This confusion is insanity. It means we are now distracted with things which are not true, deceived by things which are impossible, believe in things which cannot be of God, and become lost.
"You HAVE carried the ego's reasoning to its logical conclusion, which is TOTAL CONFUSION ABOUT EVERYTHING."
Being lost in an illusory world and not being able to find the way out is the common symptom of all of us "separated ones". We're like little children who have been told a bunch of lies, we've been deceived, led astray, convinced we're evil when we're not, and have been sent off into the wilderness in exile not knowing where we are, who we are, how we got here, why we're here, what home is, where home is, or how to get there.
The real issue as ACIM says is that there is only one problem, and it is this sense of separation from reality (God). In our denial and self-deception we keep believing things which are not true. We keep being heavily mistaken. We keep pretending to know what we're talking about when we don't, we think all our beliefs are valid, we don't want to admit to being wrong, and we stay committed to lies.
What much of this boils down to is an inability to RECOGNIZE what something is. Whether it is one thing or another. To recognize that we are even really suffering, or that there is fear, or that we are in denial. To recognize that we believe something false, or to even have the humility to recognize we are probably way more mistaken than we realize. We don't even know what we don't know, and we don't even know the ways we are mistaken and confused.
"The intrusion of the ability to perceive, which is inherently judgmental, was introduced only after the Separation. No one has been sure of anything since then."
Not recognizing anything is insanity. This is why the opposite - enlightenment - is a recognition. It is a state in which you recognize clearly what everything is, what is true, what is false, what is real and what is unreal. If you could just get everything straightened out in your mind, and ACT like someone who accepts only God's truth (atonement), you would stop participating in "being separate". You would drop all the defenses and illusions and lies, all the false beliefs and attitudes, all attacking and rejecting and excluding and separating.
As far as heaven is concerned, they look upon us as simply lost lonely little children who are very confused and don't know what they're doing. We're like in a kind of daze, disoriented, wandering around in the dark trying to find something we think we lost without really knowing what it is. We are believing in things which don't exist, and are taking things out of context, and this leads to tremendous distortions of reality. These distortions show up as hallucinations and nightmares and being freaked out by monsters.
We literally see things which are not there, hear things which are not really sounds, touch things which don't exist, and believe everything our bodies tell us. But "only the body makes the world seem real", and without it the world would not seem real. Without it the world would be clearly apparent in its unreality, because it is so opposite to reality. We don't recognize reality because we buy into everything the body says is true. "The body is not the means by which the real world can be seen." It is literally incapable of detecting reality. "You made the body in attempting to deceive yourself." And so the body is a deceiver and everything it tells you is a lie, and the whole world is set up to tempt you to believe things which are not true. To distort your mind and take you away from SANITY, and towards insanity. To bind you to confusion and to the loss of self. Separate from God, hopeless and alone.
What we then experience when our mind is insane, while in this world, is what we call false perception. It's a distorting twisting perception in which we USE the world, which is meaningless in itself, and interpret it as though it is a nightmarish hell. We read into it, attack it, use it for separation, reject it, blame it, condemn it, hate it, all in order to split our minds further and go more insane. What we then experience is an "unreal world."
"The Separation is merely another term for a split mind. It was not an act, but a thought."
Jesus asks us in ACIM to "make the world real unto yourself." This means to see it only for what it really is. This doesn't mean it is ultimate reality, but it means having accurate perception which just looks straight at it and recognizes what is true and false. Recognizing its actual nature, which is an illusion and is nothing. And what you thought was a nightmare turns into a happier dream because you no longer are having a psychological nightmare in relationship to it. This is true perception and shows you a forgiven world.
The "real world" therefore is a view of the world which is closer to "reality". A view in which you are not insane, are not deceived, are not twisted and distorted, are not lost and alone, are not separated off, are not isolated or excluded, or selfish or special. It's a view which stems from being more integrated and whole and healed, without a split mind and without attack or condemnation or dissociation or guilt. Looking upon the world from this view can only show you "the real world", ie what the world "actually is", rather than a filtered and mangled view of it.
Either way, our task then is the return to reality. This entails recognizing that we are not in a state of reality because we do not recognize what is real. It also entails a willingness to admit to being insane, an openness to asking for the Holy Spirit's help, and a desire to move towards sanity. To become sane you have to become very deeply honest in looking at what you are believing and doing that is out of accord with God's will. Out of accord with reality itself. And accepting the atonement is nothing more than accepting reality.
"Perhaps you do not feel that a course which, in the end, teaches nothing more than that only reality is true is necessary. BUT DO YOU BELIEVE IT?"
This is also why Jesus refers to "reality contact", in that we are to move out of a state of being very heavily mistaken, lost, confused, distorting, deceiving, admit to our efforts to attack reality, and move our minds back into a more natural, peaceful, happy and whole state. To heal the split in the mind. As Jesus says all you can do is either separate or join. That means you can either split your mind or undo the split and return to wholeness.
So the whole path of ACIM or any spiritual "awakening" is really nothing more than a movement out of insanity back to sanity, our of unreality back to reality. Just waking up to what is real. To just being real and getting in touch with real existence. Real existence is The Kingdom of God. In order to become sane we're going to have to heal our insanity. And our insanity is driven by a "belief in separation."
Note though that believing in separation isn't about believing that there was a separation event a long time ago, although there was. THE separation DID happen, as a belief in a false thought. But it's now about realizing you are STILL believing in separation, you are still actively separating, you are continually using your mind TO separate, and you keep re-enacting separation over and over again.
Every time that you attack, condemn, accuse, blame, hate, judge, reject, withdraw, fear, become angry at, project guilt, make sinful, try to destroy, push away from, or any other mental act which seems to create a "distance" or gap between you and ANYTHING, you are separating from reality. You are splitting your mind. This is the belief in separation, an actual psychological act in which you are trying to keep the separation going, to deepen the wound, to emphasize the guilt and to split yourself off from being one.
Any attack you make which you think is an attack upon something "not yourself", is a result of dissociation. Dissociation is the same thing as separation, and as exclusion. It means you HAVE separated and have split, and now you think something is not a part of you. It is excluded from you, and you attack it in what seems to be "externally" in order to push it away from you. To distance yourself from you. This distancing is SPACETIME. It means you are MAKING time and space in your mind by rejecting stuff. The gap of separation, the pit of hell, is in your mind. And stuff only appears to be outside your mind because you HAVE separated it off. Ideas leave not their source.
Any time you attack anyone thinking they are not you, and that they are receiving the attack and not you, you are deluded. Your mind is attacking itself and projecting the split and seeing the "other part" outside of what's left "within". It has dissociated the guilty part of mind and hates it. And the more it hates it and wants it dead, the more it is wanting to increase the split and thus increase the insanity. We are doing this every minute of every day.
"You ATTACK the real world every day and every hour and every minute, and yet you are surprised that you cannot SEE it."
To see "the real world" is literally to simply be in touch with reality and look out from reality and look upon the world we made (the illusion/dream/physical) and see what's there. It is a state of recognition, in which the illusory nature of the world is recognized clearly. In which there is no DECEPTION. In which you are no longer deceived by what you see.
"Awareness of dreaming is the real function of God's teachers. They watch the dream figures come and go, shift and change, suffer and die. Yet they are not deceived by what they see."
Awareness of dreaming is sanity. It is as close to ultimate reality as we can be while still slightly separated from it. Because "perception still is a separated state." So the entire course is really just telling us that we've gone nuts and we need help to get back to reality. We've become lost in a fantasy-land and we need to get back to the Kingdom of God. And along the way we need to see the world we made as "the real world", ie the truth about it in reality, and then leave it behind as we move on to actual existence. To our real life in heaven with God.
"There is only one way out of the world's thinking, just as there was only one way INTO it. Understand totally by understanding TOTALITY. Perceive ANY part of the ego's thought system as wholly insane, wholly delusional, and wholly undesirable, and you have CORRECTLY EVALUATED ALL OF IT."
"You are no longer wholly insane, NOR NO LONGER ALONE."
"When the "lies of the serpent" were introduced, they were specifically called lies because they are not true. When man listened, all he heard was untruth. He does not have to continue to believe what is not true, unless he chooses to do so. All of his miscreations can disappear in the well known "twinkling of an eye", because it is a visual misperception."
Is very remarkable the passage where you say “it means you are MAKING time and space in your mind by rejecting stuff”.
About a week ago, I had a dream, not very clear, that the family dog that passed away two months ago had been resurrected. I remember being very happy, and even happier because of my wife (she was like a daughter to us and even more so to her, as she was the one who took her in to raise her).
I don’t know how to explain it well, but it’s as if there was an embedded thought in the dream, in the sense that this miraculous situation would be achieved as we were more “present in the present”.
This led me to reflect on the following:
We think that we are actually living in the “now”, but in fact it is a kind of fake “now”, as there is a layer of “past” distancing us from it, or rather, distorting the “correct perception” of the now and the reality.
Whether or not this is true I don’t know, but I’m trying my best to keep myself open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Hi Paul, great post as always!
Last year I discovered a catholic prayer called “Te Deum” on the Internet, which in the Portuguese version, its final part sums it up well, which is:
“In You I hope, my God, I WILL NOT BE CONFUSED ETERNALLY”
Since then, I have used this phrase in my routine, in addition to the phrases of the course.