Questions Regarding the
Teachings of ACIM


QUESTION: Would you please share more of your thoughts regarding 'Vision' that you introduced last month?

ANSWER:  In the February issue I discussed the concept of "vision" in ACIM.  I wrote that "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."  I also offered the opinion that ACIM literally means a different form of visual perception when it speaks about "vision", and if we think Jesus is writing metaphorically in these cases we're going to miss an important aspect of ACIM.  I drew a connection between the two different forms of visual perception and the meaning of the word "world", specifically when ACIM speaks of the "two worlds" and when the verb associated with "world" is some form of "see" or "perceive".

Let's continue this discussion, starting with a quote from OrEd.Tx.2.66:

"The mind, however, can bring its illumination to the body by recognizing that density is the opposite of intelligence and therefore unamenable to independent learning. It is, however, easily brought into alignment with a mind which has learned to look beyond density toward light."

As with so many passages in ACIM, this is a little cryptic and we have to ask ourselves what it means. The first thing we have to recognize is that "density" is a property of matter, and the body is composed of matter. Now let's compare that quote from OrEd.Tx.2.66 with the following from 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 the body as solid. WkBk.159.5 says that when we attain Christ's vision we will see objects which now seem solid as transparent, "never able to obscure the light that shines beyond them". Here we can clearly see that the preposition "beyond" is synonymous with "through" in these cases. In these passages about vision, "beyond" is a spatial reference and not a chronological reference. In other words, it has the meaning of "behind" (space) instead of "after" (time).  This is important with regards to understanding vision, because ACIM frequently uses "beyond" in important passages about vision. If we think of "beyond" as having chronological meaning, then we think of vision as something that happens later, not now. This is unhelpful because "later" always remains "later" and never happens, plus we lose all understanding of the real meaning of vision.

I believe that when "world" is tied to the verb "see" and when ACIM speaks of "two worlds" then "world" means "what I am seeing and how I am seeing it".  In other words, in these cases "world" does not mean the planet, or, by extension, the universe of time, space, matter, and bodies.  When we recognize that the titles of Lessons 128 to 130 go together as a group, we see that the title of Lesson 129 is another prominent case where "beyond" is tied to vision:

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.

We also see "beyond" tied to vision at OrEd.Tx.31.96, the second to last paragraph in the Text:

"In joyous welcome is my hand outstretched to every brother who would join with me in reaching past temptation and who looks with fixed determination toward the light that shines beyond in perfect constancy."

Transparent means we see light coming through material objects. Tx.2.66 says we will see "beyond density toward the light". This is the same meaning as "through matter toward the light", which is the same meaning as transparent. Connecting the dots, Tx.2.66 and WkBk.159.5 are saying the same thing. When we attain the vision of Christ, we will see material objects, including the body, as transparent. My impression from many passages, including the last sentence of the quote from Tx.2.66, is that it is after we have attained vision that many of the more remarkable miracles, such as bringing the health of the body into alignment with the healed mind, will occur. I'll add that I think there are many passages in ACIM that say we will have times when we do not see the body at all.  My impression is that we will literally see each other as something other than bodies and that these passages are not metaphorical.

In the big picture I think that we can see that there are important themes in ACIM for which our clues to understanding are scattered throughout the book, and we have to mentally connect these scattered passages in order to understand their meaning. Among these themes which are addressed in scattered passages I would count vision, health of the physical body, revelation, and leaving the physical body for the last time. The next passage tells us that "vision will come to you at first in glimpses", and is found at OrEd.Tx.20.67:

"Vision will come to you at first in glimpses, but they will be enough to show you what is given you who see your brother sinless. Truth is restored to you through your desire, as it was lost to you through your desire for something else. Open the holy place which you closed off by valuing the "something else," and what was never lost will quietly return. It has been saved for you. Vision would not be necessary had judgment not been made. Desire now its whole undoing, and it is done for you."

The first part of the paragraph is strikingly similar to the passage about "little edges of light" in Lesson 15. It's interesting to me that it seems that not only will vision come at first in glimpses, but the understanding of these scattered passages also comes at first in glimpses.

Expanding on these passages, we can consider that no matter where or when we are, we are surrounded by matter. We look down and see the Earth. We look up and see clouds or the moon. If we are going to see light coming through solid objects, we are going to see light coming from everywhere all the time. This is part of the basis of my statements last month that it appears to me that when we have vision we see light coming from everywhere all the time and it is not dependent upon sources known to the laws of physics. At this point we can ask ourselves "what is this light that we see coming from everywhere all the time". My best guess is that this light is God.  In other words, when we focus our consciousness at a particular point in space and time, as we are all doing, what God looks like to us is light coming from everywhere all the time. This means that the title of Lesson 44, "God is the light in which I see", is literal and not metaphorical. It also gives meaning to the lesson titles that tell us we are surrounded by God (e.g., 222, 264).

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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