Consciousness, Truth, and Forgiveness
What for me sets A Course in Miracles apart from other teachings is that it conveys that the Truth (God) is beyond our experiences of Truth. Our perception, awareness, consciousness—whatever you want to call our experience—of Truth is not Truth. It is only perception, awareness, consciousness, or an experience of Truth. The Holy Spirit, or Christ Consciousness, or what I call the Awareness of Truth, is as far as consciousness can rise, but It is never Truth.
I discovered this for myself through direct Revelation of Truth. Truth is beyond all experience (perceptions, awareness, consciousness) of Truth because It is beyond all experience. It is indescribable (and shattering) because nothing on “this side” of Truth resembles Truth, not even the Awareness of Truth (Spirit). The Awareness of Truth is only an effect of Truth on consciousness.
As a contemplative, Bernadette Roberts (The Path to No-Self) had no idea of this and discovered it for herself when consciousness (which she calls the “self”) fell away. Christian contemplative writing, and most other spiritual teachings, ends with the Awareness of Truth, what she called the “unitive state”, which follows the falling away of the ego (personal thought system). She points out, again and again, that many think this state is “the divine”, but she went beyond it to no-self (no-consciousness) and learned for herself that the Awareness of Truth, or the unitive state, is just the highest state of consciousness. Truth (the divine) is beyond consciousness.
Ms. Roberts could not describe no-self—no-consciousness—as I cannot describe Revelation. It is impossible to describe no-consciousness to consciousness. The best I can say is that Truth is not anything you experience in consciousness. It sounds to me that what she discovered when the self fell away is what I discovered in direct Revelation. But ACIM says that a Revelatory state cannot be sustained while still perceiving the world, which makes sense because It is beyond perception (consciousness). In my Revelatory events there was no world and no perception. But Ms. Roberts asserts it can be sustained and she lived out the rest of the body’s time in such a state. The body was simply pure sensation without a consciousness. I cannot fathom this of course, because I am still experiencing consciousness. But her reports make me wonder if I misunderstand no-self, which, since it cannot be described, is quite possible! Perhaps no-self is not quite Revelatory, but something just short of It; something between consciousness and Revelation. Or, perhaps, her mind’s unique part to play was to remain in Revelation and to express the knowledge that what she calls the unitive state is not Truth, but a mid-way point to the dropping of consciousness altogether.
Aside from Ms. Roberts’ experiences affirming what ACIM teaches (and what my own experiences revealed to me) about consciousness in no way being Truth, she also cleared up for me something I wrote about back in February (Higher Awareness as Effect or Goal). I was baffled by Jan Frazier’s account of the ego falling from her mind (When Fear Falls Away) and her rising in consciousness—attaining what Ms. Roberts calls the unitive state—never mentioning Truth beyond a consciousness of It. Ms. Frazier’s path was a Hindu path and it seemed to me that on such a path one sought higher consciousness—what they call Pure Consciousness—for its own sake as though it was Truth. This confused me, because I understood my rising in consciousness was the effect of my awareness of Truth—which is an effect of Truth. I did not see it as an end in itself, because I knew Truth was beyond all consciousness. My awareness of Truth “pulled me up” into a higher state of consciousness—Truth Consciousness—but that is not Truth Itself. In her book, What is Self? Ms. Roberts compared Hindu teachings with her own experience and discovered that in Hindu traditions Pure Consciousness is indeed viewed as the end goal. She could find nothing about Truth beyond an Awareness of Truth in Hindu teaching.
I am sure if I had never experienced Revelation I, too, would confuse the Awareness of Truth with Truth Itself. So let me put it this way: Imagine the sun is Truth and sunlight is the Awareness of Truth. You spent your life indoors, beginning in the center of a house where it was dark, but you became dimly aware of sunlight in one part of the room. Curious, you followed it to a window, walking more and more in sunlight. When you reached the window you became aware of the sunlight surrounding the house, seeming without end. You think, “Ah! The source of the light!” You open the window and step out, fully into sunshine all around you. You have found the source of the light in the house and you think that is the end. This would be the equivalent of Pure Consciousness, or what Ms. Roberts called the unitive state. But that would not be the end, would it? Sunlight is an effect; it has a source, the sun. And so it is with Pure Consciousness. It is an effect; it has a Source, Truth, Which is beyond Consciousness.
Without the awareness that the Truth is beyond all awareness, consciousness, experience, perception, you cannot understand what ACIM means by “forgiveness”. Truth is wholly untouched by what occurs in consciousness, at any level, because Truth is beyond consciousness. Higher consciousness occurs as an effect of the awareness of Truth on a mind. But as dramatic as the experience is for the mind experiencing it, it is no more significant to be aware of Truth than to not be aware of Truth. This is the truth that sets you free.