Questions Regarding the
Teachings of ACIM


QUESTION: Would you please share your thoughts regarding Lesson 1 and 'Vision'?

ANSWER:  Jesus' comments on Lesson 1 occur not only in Lesson 1 but also in Lesson 51, which is the review of Lesson 1. In Lesson 51 the title of Lesson 1 is given as "Nothing I see means anything." I find this form to be more useful for long-term use than the form at the original presentation in Lesson 1. Some of the Workbook lesson titles are universal truths, and others are not universally true but are simply tools that we can use in specific cases to get ourselves out of our egos and into our right minds.

The title of Lesson 1 is a tool and not a universal truth. Actually it's not a truth at all. It's FE / FT, false in eternity and false in time. It's false in eternity because if we do "see" there, we certainly aren't going to see things that have no meaning. It's false in time because to "mean anything" is to have meaning, and the next lesson tells us that we have given meaning to everything that we see.

The value in this lesson is that it is helping us to loosen the grip that our egos have on our minds. When our egos are raging about what we are seeing, stating this lesson to ourselves helps us to call upon the Holy Spirit and break out of our ego-obsession state of mind. We can also take it as telling us that what we see does not have inherent meaning of its own, which is an introduction to Lesson 2.

In Lesson 51 we read the following: "Nothing I see means anything. The reason this is so is that I see nothing, and nothing has no meaning. It is necessary that I recognize this, that I may learn to see. What I think I see now is taking the place of vision. I must let it go by realizing that it has no meaning so that vision may take its place."

This made me remember that Lesson 1 is similar to a statement at the start of the Text, "Miracles as such do not matter." (OrEd.Tx.1.2)
This is another statement that is false in our current experience. However, it is true in eternity.

I think that what Jesus is doing when he makes these statements that are false from our current perspective but true from a higher perspective is 1) pointing out that there is a higher order of reality from the perspective of which our current order of reality is meaningless, and 2) forcing us to mentally shift towards that higher order of reality in order to mentally handle statements that are false from our current perspective. Of course the entire book is aimed at getting us out of this reality and into that reality, and we do that by changing our minds, so if we have to change our mental framework simply by reading certain lines, then reading in and of itself advances us along the path. It's also important to recognize that ...

…..the HEALING WORK that we have to do on this path takes place from our CURRENT perspective, so that whenever Jesus prompts us to switch to a higher perspective, as he does at Lesson 1, he then takes us back to our current perspective, as he does at Lesson 2, so that we can get on with the healing of our minds. The shift to the higher order reminds us of the goal, and the shift back to the lower order returns us to the path.

The commentary at Lesson 51 tells us that the reason "nothing I see means anything" is because there is a higher and better way of seeing. "Nothing I see means anything" is still a false statement. The true statement would be "Nothing I see with the ego's perception means anything to me when I am seeing with the vision of Christ." But by writing the statement the way he did, Jesus gives us a mental jolt, which we probably all need to facilitate our waking up. The concept here is very similar to what we find in the following lesson titles:

128. The world I see has nothing that I want.

129. Beyond this world there is a world I want.

130. It is impossible to see two worlds.

132. I loose the world from all I thought it was.

133. I will not value what is valueless.

Keeping in mind that there are three different definitions of "world" in ACIM and the definition here is "what I see", we can confirm that ACIM is telling us that there are two radically different forms of visual perception. One uses the body's eyes and requires light from sources known to the laws of physics (i.e., from the sun, from manmade lamps, etc.). The other does not use the body's eyes. I also guess that it does not require light produced according to the laws of physics that we know, but I can't prove that from the book at this moment so I'm just guessing. One of the two worlds is what we see with the ego's vision (the ego's vision). The other world, the one we want, is what we see with the "vision of Christ".

The book does not tell us a great deal about what the "vision of Christ" is like, but one thing that I gather is that there will be light coming from everywhere all the time. A more specific clue is found at OrEd.WkBk.159.5: "Christ's vision is the bridge between the worlds. And in its power can you safely trust to carry you from this world into one made holy by forgiveness. Things which seem quite solid here are merely shadows there, transparent, faintly seen, at times forgot, and never able to obscure the light that shines beyond them. Holiness has been restored to vision, and the blind can see."

We see something similar at OrEd.WkBk.138.11: "We recognize we make a conscious choice between what has existence and what has nothing but an appearance of the truth. Its pseudo-being, brought to what is real, is flimsy and transparent in the light." Also we are told that instead of seeing each other's bodies, we will see something else. Overall, the clues that I have gathered about "vision" are these:

1) Vision is a form of visual perception that does not make use of the body's eyes.

2) Vision is a form of visual perception that does not require light generated by the laws of physics.

3) With vision we perceive light coming from everywhere all the time.

4) With vision physical objects are seen as transparent.

5) With vision we see ourselves as something else other than physical bodies.

The introduction to the Workbook tells us that obtaining the altered form of visual perception is the main purpose of the Workbook:  "The purpose of these exercises is to train the mind to a different perception of everything in the world." (OrEd.WkBk.In.3)

My sense is that everything else that we need to accomplish will occur easily when we have obtained this altered form of visual perception, which ACIM calls "vision" or "the vision of Christ". It is important to note that of the first 50 lesson titles, 28 of them are about visual perception. When you recognize that the meaning or "world" in theses lessons is "what I see", then 30 of the first 50 lesson titles are about visual perception. 

I have tried to learn about many different spiritual traditions, and I know of none other that puts obtaining this higher form of visual perception, what ACIM calls "vision of Christ", at the very center of the spiritual path. The Course pounds away on vision relentlessly. I think it's important that Course students start accepting the idea that "vision" really is what ACIM says it is. For those who doubt that "vision" in ACIM refers to an altered form of visual perception, I offer this from OrEd.WkBk.15.2:

"This introductory idea to the process of image-making which you call seeing will not have much meaning for you. You will begin to understand it when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now. That is the beginning of real vision. You can be certain that real vision will come quickly when this has occurred."

I think that most of the ACIM community believes that when ACIM speaks about the "vision of Christ" it means simply thinking and feeling differently about what we see. As long as we believe that, we have to ignore much of the book, and we also won't obtain vision, which is at the heart of the path that ACIM sets forth.

This of course is the reason for the "V" in my acronym that represents a list of what should change on this spiritual path: M-B-B-R-W-V-R. (See the Community Miracles Center's On-Line Discussion Group for extensive discussion of this topic, especially the post at January 01, 2012, 11:46 PM on the "Personal Shares" thread.)

I have written many times before (at the Community Miracles Center's On-Line Discussion Group) that there are many parts of ACIM that most of the ACIM community wants to either ignore or consider to be metaphorical. The writings in ACIM on 1) vision, 2) direct personal experience of God (i.e., "revelation"), and 3) leaving the body consciously rather than through what we call "death" are among these parts of ACIM.

We support the idea that we can ignore these part of ACIM, or consider them to be metaphorical, because in our tradition they are unheard of and we consider them to be impossible. However, as I have written many times before, in the yogic tradition these aspects of ACIM are well known and documented. When the yogis write about having achieved these things it really pulls the rug from underneath our practice of ignoring or discounting these concepts. Autobiography of a Yogi discusses multiple cases of yogis leaving their bodies for the last time by conscious choice when it was in perfect working condition. Revelation is well known in the yogic tradition; their word for it is "samadhi" if I am not mistaken.  With regards to vision, this line from chapter 43 of Autobiography of a Yogi is interesting:

"Most people on earth have not learned through meditation-acquired vision to appreciate the superior joys and advantages of astral life".

The main difference between the yogic tradition and ACIM, as far as I can see, is that in the yogic tradition meditation is the primary path to vision and the other goals.

In ACIM meditation is important, but forgiveness is our primary path to vision as well as all the other aspects of salvation. There is a passage in ACIM that tells us that both paths will work (OrEd.18.66-67), but the path set forth by ACIM, based on relationships and forgiveness, is much faster.

Bart Bacon"

* Bart Bacon received a BA in Physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania. He served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps and was the founder anBart at Estes Coned president of a money management firm. He has studied the ancient teachings of Jesus since his youth. He first encountered ACIM in 1977 as a freshman in college when a friend loaned him the Manual for Teachers and has studied the course continuously since 1985. He has been an active participant in and supporter of the ACIM movement with particular emphasis on supporting translation of ACIM into other languages.

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