Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pollyanna and True Perception

There is some confusion about the difference between true perception, denial and being a “Pollyanna”.

Denial and Pollyannishness both start from the premise that how you perceive what the body’s eyes show you is fact, and that your experience (your feelings about it) comes from the person, thing, situation or event you are looking upon. In denial, you pretend you are not seeing and experiencing what you really do believe is fact. If you are a Pollyanna, you believe the situation is “bad” but that you are going to make the best of it. You are going to make lemonade from lemons.

True perception, however, first recognizes that what the body’s eyes show you is neutral and that how you experience it is determined by your own learning goal, not the person, thing, situation or event itself. True perception recognizes that the world’s only value is as a classroom and that you get to choose what you want to learn in it. True perception interprets the world as a means for remembering that you are always One with God by extending that awareness to the world.

For example, when planes were flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001 I had been leading a Course in Miracles study group for a couple of months. All of the students in my class – all of them were new to the Course – interpreted these events as frightening. They felt attacked, some of them personally. They anticipated further attacks. Some wanted to retaliate. They all would have said that the way they were looking at this event was fact and that their fear was justified. But what they were really doing was interpreting the event as proof that separation from God is real.

These events were very compelling and real to these students and they were no where near ready to think in terms of reality and illusion or to discuss being responsible for their own perceptions. So we discussed how what isn’t love is a call for love. We discussed asking the Holy Spirit for another way to look at it. One woman came the following week and reported that she realized that instead of focusing on the attack she could focus on how this event was bringing people together. She didn’t know it consciously yet, but she had taken the first step in learning that she was responsible for how she interpreted events. She could make it mean something to her that would help her to remember Oneness and to feel closer to God. The meaning for this event lay in her mind, not in the event itself. Her new perception was true perception not because it was Truth, but because it pointed toward Truth.

At first, true perception can seem like Pollyannishness. It does seem as though you’re making lemonade from lemons. But true perception is itself a learning tool and the more you use it the faster it sinks in that the world is meaningless. You give the world all the meaning it has for you. Why should you bother giving it any meaning? In time you will not bother and you will walk through the world peacefully knowing it has no power over you.

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. They recognize that to behold a dream figure as sick and separate is no more real than to regard it as healthy and beautiful. Unity alone is not a thing of dreams. And it is this God's teachers acknowledge as behind the dream, beyond all seeming and yet surely theirs. (M-12.6)

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