The Essential Distinction: Knowledge vs. Perception

The very real difference between perception and knowledge becomes quite apparent if you consider this: There is nothing partial about knowledge. Every aspect is whole, and therefore no aspect is separate. You are an aspect of knowledge, being in the Mind of God, Who knows you. All knowledge must be yours, for in you is all knowledge. Perception, at its loftiest, is never complete. Even the perception of the Holy Spirit, as perfect as perception can be, is without meaning in Heaven. Perception can reach everywhere under His guidance, for the vision of Christ beholds everything in light. Yet no perception, however holy, will last forever. (T-13.VIII.2)

A Course in Miracles uses a distinction between Knowledge and perception as a means to discuss the seeming levels of the mind -- the level of God and the level of ego. God is. God is pure Being. In God there is only God and what God knows is God. You can experience that level only through revelation, which is a direct experience of God (see my blog

In the decision to be not-God, Knowledge was thrown away and learning became necessary as a way to fill the void. Perception (consciousness, seeing, interpretation, evaluation, choice) was made as a means of learning and the world was made to perceive in, to be a classroom where you can learn you are not-God. Perception is the level of the world, bodies and egos.

This distinction is important because at the level of perception, truth and illusion are confused. Separation from God seems real and God seems to be the illusion. Perception alone seems to be the evaluator of what is real and what is not real. Knowledge means nothing to the ego-identified because identity is established by perceiving – by doing – rather than by Being.

When Knowledge was thrown away, what was thrown away was knowledge of your Self. In God you simply know your Self. Even at the level of perception you cannot wholly escape how the mind works so “what you see is what you believe to be true about you” becomes the law of mind in the world. The world-classroom is neutral and the ability to learn does not determine what you learn. You can choose to use perception to remind yourself that you are eternally Part of God by extending love rather than perceiving separation from God. In fact, you must do this to awaken from perception back to Knowledge. This is the only way to peace. This is the only real use the world and perception have.

Knowledge is not the remedy for false perception since, being another level, they can never meet. The one correction possible for false perception must be true perception. It will not endure. But for the time it lasts it comes to heal. For true perception is a remedy with many names. Forgiveness, salvation, Atonement, true perception, all are one. They are the one beginning, with the end to lead to oneness far beyond themselves. (C-4.3)

But even corrected perception – what the Course refers to as true perception and to what is perceived as the real world – is still not Knowledge. It only prepares you to accept Knowledge again. This is the highest level you can attain in the world.

It cannot be emphasized too often that correcting perception is merely a temporary expedient. It is necessary only because misperception is a block to knowledge, while accurate perception is a steppingstone towards it. The whole value of right perception lies in the inevitable realization that all perception is unnecessary. (T-4.II.11)

Perception will be meaningless when it has been perfected, for everything that has been used for learning will have no function. Nothing will ever change; no shifts nor shadings, no differences, no variations that made perception possible will still occur. The perception of the real world will be so short that you will barely have time to thank God for it. For God will take the last step swiftly, when you have reached the real world and have been made ready for Him. (T-17.II.4)

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