Have you ever discovered that something you had always known to be true was actually not? Perhaps a belief you had invested in since childhood, or a story that you thought was fact but turned out to be fiction? Many of us have experienced these moments in our lives. Sometimes we feel betrayed, as though we’ve been lied to and manipulated. Sometimes, however, we feel awakened, as though this new knowledge has freed us from our misconceptions and set us on a new path of enlightenment.

Many of the people I have taught or spoken with about Dr. Helen Shucman’s A Course in Miracles (or ACiM, which I’ve provided an introduction to on this blog previously) speak of their encounter with the text in this way. Some found it uncomfortable at first because it challenged their preconceived ideas about God or other workings of the universe. Nearly all of them, those who pushed through the initial discomfort, felt awakened to a new way of looking at the world. A way that made them think more clearly, love more deeply, and live more intentionally than before. This has been my experience, and it’s why I am so passionate about sharing A Course in Miracles with others.

A Problem of Perception

There is a story that I find to be a helpful teaching tool for explaining one of the core tenets of A Course in Miracles. I first heard it from Jon Mundy, a ACiM great scholar and a friend of the scribe, Helen Shucman. I tell it like this:

One day at the doctor’s office I shared a concern with him. I said, “Doctor, my wife is not hearing well. She simply doesn’t hear me.” He said, “Well, here’s a test you can do to determine if she needs to come in and see me. Stand a ways away and speak to her in a normal tone when her back is turned to you, then cut the distance and let me know how close you need to be before she hears you.'”

When I got home my wife was at the stove cooking dinner. I stood in the dining room, about 30 feet away, and said to her, “Hello honey, what’s for dinner?”

Nothing. I cut the distance in half and said again, “Hello honey, what’s for dinner?”

Nothing. No response. My heart was hurting with worry as I stepped up behind her and asked again, “Hello honey, what’s for dinner?”

She turned and with a bit of a snarly look said, “For the third time, it’s chicken and noodles!”

Oh! I had a moment of realization… I’m the one who wasn’t hearing!

I love this story because it demonstrates the problem of perception and projection that many of us face in our lives. We assume that our perception is correct and that the world around us is troubled or damaged or not hearing us. The reality so often is that it is our perception that is not allowing us to hear the truth. And our perception comes from within us. These moments of awakening are a chance to change our perception and find joy and freedom in a new understanding of the world.

A Mind That Thinks It Understands is Not Open To Learning

A Course in Miracles addresses this issue of perception in Lesson #1. It teaches that,

This world is the opposite of reality. We need mind training in order to let go of what is not true. We need mind training in order to recognize the difference between what is real and what is not real. We embark on our journey today recognizing that we do not know what anything means. And we are willing to be led to what is real. We are willing to return Home to Love. We are willing to be happy instead of right.

Our perception of the world around us can make us feel stuck, separated from one another, alone. But the truth is that we are all one. We are all alike and unified in our humanness. The separation is an illusion, a trick of our perception. If we can awake from this misconception of separation, competition, and disunity, we can find immeasurable happiness and comfort in our togetherness.

The first step is to acknowledge that we do not know as much as we think we know. We must question everything we think we know, because “a closed mind that thinks it already understands is not open to learning.” Even though it isn’t comfortable at first, asking those questions can lead to an awakening and a new way of being in the world. A way of being together, not apart.

How do you keep your mind open to new ideas and shifts in perception? Share in the comments or by tweeting @Ace_Wagner!