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How does perception work and how does it change what we see?

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How does perception work and how does it change what we see?

Michael asked:

"I would consider it quite helpful to see a lengthy presentation on the topic of "perception" on your website: what it is, the relationship between the perceiver and that which is perceived, wrong-perception versus right-perception, perception versus awareness, mental images versus abstract apprehension of a right-minded thought, the interpretation aspect of perception, inner perception versus the body's sight, etc. To see this presented in a clear, logical way that is helpful in understanding forgiveness and salvation would be a blessing to many. Thanks."

Awareness is a direct experience of and sharing in what is real. As oneness, it is not only an awareness "of" God but is a union "with" God. Therefore whatever there is to be aware of, is so intimately immediate and is what you are made of, that there is no gap between you and it. There simply is awareness AS what is present and God's presence fills your awareness.

In this there is no time or space. There is no delay. There is no distance to traverse. There is no identity of being something different from God or separate from God. In this experience you, as Christ, will experience "awe" of the Father. And yet you have been created as an extension of Him and in His likeness. One with Him and joined with and open to His being, there is only "what is" to be aware of and with.

Of this we're talking about a state of mind way outside of the dream and beyond the world. It is an experiential state of reality and sanity and total peace. There is no subject and object. There is no subjectivity. There is only truth, which you could call real objectivity. But it is not objective as in it is a perceived separate object. It is real.

The only way that such an experience of awareness can seem to be interrupted or changed in any way, is if an idea of separation is introduced. This idea must be an illusion because real separation is not possible. This idea must be insane, therefore, because separation cannot happen for real and yet the illusion insists that it can.

Illusions function entirely on the basis of blocking reality. They have to shut something out and diminish or hide some of what is present, in order to be able to form an illusion or appearance that something else is true. Illusions must hide reality and deny it and defend against it.

The root of illusions is their attempt to conceal what is and make seem real something that is not real. They have to hide some portion of the truth otherwise it is completely impossible to see them as not an illusion. You cannot believe illusions are real while all of reality is in your awareness.

From outside of such illusions they are recognized as completely false. They are seen through. They are not believed in. They hold no truth and are recognized as being nothing real at all. They are just empty props made of nothing. They don't present an appearance that seems real and they don't mean anything at all.

But if the mind begins to imagine these illusions, a small part of mind seems to go into that illusion in order to make it what it is. And that small part of mind, still possessing awareness, *seems* to now see as though from the other side of the illusion. As though the illusion comes between it and God's reality. Thus it acts like a filter.

This filter suggests and tries to implement separation. If you could see this attempt with a sane mind you would not fall for it or believe it at all. You'd recognize the structure of the trick and see through it. But if your mind chooses to pretend to believe in the illusion, this introduces a distortion into the mind and begins to affect clear awareness.

As the Course says, we had this tiny mad idea where the Son of God forgot to laugh. The Son of Good tried to give a sense of reality to the illusion, to lend His life to it, to breathe life into it and make it seem real. Giving some credit and believing that it might actually hold some truth, that was the beginning of the creation of a state of perception.

Perception then was introduced "after the separation", where a seeming gap appeared in-between. This gap, or split, seemed to split the mind into two parts, as though there were now two selves. These two parts were held apart only by the illusion of separation.

Within perception then, the one whole mind seemed to split into two minds - a split mind, or an ego mind. In this split mind, it was necessary for some kind of illusion to distinguish where one part of the mind began and the other mind finished. This illusion of a split meant that the two parts of mind had to be different in some way.

Only by them being different could there seem to be two parts, and the differences between these parts had to be made of illusions. Therefore one part of the mind became distorted and skewed towards what the mind wanted to retain in awareness, and the other part of mind was skewed towards what it wanted to get rid of.

This in essence created the conscious mind and the unconscious mind. Another representation of this is the persona and the shadow.

The persona is the part of mind which seems conscious which believes that it is independent of "the rest". It  sees "the rest" of the mind as "not my self", i.e. other than me. It looks at Self and identifies aspects that it does not like, and attempts to get rid of them. It gets rid of them by disassociation and denial, shoving them into the unconscious.

It does this by attacking the Self and attempting to split off parts of what remains of the conscious self, labeling it as unworthy or imperfect or not good enough. The persona seems to have an agenda of making the conscious mind only be "good" and filled with innocence, but the way that it accomplishes this is through constant self-mutilation, chopping out parts that it finds to be not good enough.

This split state of mind therefore is an attempt to get rid of the guilt that resulted from the separation from God. Separation from God was an attempt to destroy the Self, and this wish continues after the separation by the mind attempting to keep splitting itself up more and more. It wants to get rid of as much of the Self as possible, seeing it as inherently guilty because of its sin against God.

So the persona will attempt to form an image of self or an artificial sense of self which is very skewed towards being good and appearing innocent, as a way to deny the terrible guilt that the mind believes is true of it. This guilt is shoved into the unconscious shadow part of the mind, and by disassociation the persona tries to disown it like it is not part of itself.

The problem is that this other part of the mind is still part of the mind and technically still has access to the persona part of the mind, and from time to time the hatred and guilt stored in it (by the persona) seems to come into the conscious awareness of the persona/conscious self and attack it. Or at least, it is perceived as an attack because the persona self does not want to own or be responsible for the darkness it created.

Really the eruptions of unconscious guilt into awareness are attempts by the mind to heal itself and to unify itself, but the persona does not see it that way. Instead it wants to get rid of these things and defend against them.

Through denial, the mind thus relegates the undesirable parts of itself to the shadow, to "not me", and this causes a "projection". The persona's attempt to get rid of the sinful self pushes it away, and this essentially turns into a broadcast. An attempt to get rid of what it does not like, so that it can experience only innocence. Albeit a fake innocence.

When a person with such a mind then encounters other people in the outer world, which is itself a projection of Self, the disassociation from the unconscious material makes it seem like it belongs to someone other than the persona. Thus you see your own sinfulness projected onto and in other people, because you are seeing them through this mechanism of disownership.

Projection makes perception. Or in other words, a sense of separation in the mind creates a spit mind which has two parts, and further divides itself. And as a result of that, there seems to now be one part of the mind which is capable of perceiving the presence of another part of the mind AS IF that other part is somehow separate from itself.

This produces what has been referred to as the perceiver and the perceived, or subject and object. A sense of self which is separate from the whole, looking out upon what is "not me" and observing it as though it is cut off and separate from me.

Literally, what we retain as Self, which seems to live in the body, is kept apart from everything outside of the body, so that all of your own unconscious ego content and self-attack can be seen as "out there" and not "in here". The body is literally a device, or symbolic representation, in the mind, for maintaining a sense of separation in the mind. It stands between the persona and the shadow, the "me within" and the "not me without".

Thus as the one mind split into individuals, each individual fragment of kept identity expressed itself as a body or form, encased within it, and wrapped around that part of the mind like a protection. A thick wall to keep awareness of the rest of Self away. Everything outside of the body is thus seen as the rejected parts of yourself, the stuff you want to get rid of and the sense of sinfulness that you do not want to own.

Your unconscious mind therefore will play out externally, whereby whatever is the next belief in separation to surface, like peeling an onion, will manifest or show up externally as life lessons which give you another opportunity to heal your separation from yourself. These are opportunities to undo illusions, but initially they are experienced as attacks coming at you from your own unconscious projected self-hate, as things you do not want to happen and wish would go away. They seem to come out of the blue, as they erupt from unconsciousness.

While you are in this state of being a separate mind, seeing other people as bodies, and failing to see the connection or relationship between what is in you and what is in them, you will experience hallucinations. Illusions always produce hallucinations because they make it appear as though the reduced amount of information you perceive is all of the information, as though truth has changed and taken a new form.

Looking at an illusion and not realizing that it is an illusion, but believing that you really are seeing correctly and see what appears to be there as real, means you must be hallucinating because you see something which isn't really there. You have failed to overlook or see through the trickery, and so instead you believe there is truth to what you see. Yet you are perceiving something false which is just a random jumble of stuff masquerading as a make-believe something.

In this hallucinatory state you will believe that you are perceiving other people correctly, and that you are seeing a sinfulness in them which is really their own. This is your failure to recognize that it belongs to you. It is also your failure to recognize that you are actually only looking at the interior content of your own mind. You are not really seeing the person for how they are, you are looking at a distorted image in your mind which is coming in-between you and reality.

Only an awareness of love or wholeness in your own mind can facilitate the ability to see love and wholeness in others. And it is only in this wholeness that you can see fully. This is miraculous vision. When God is in your mind, you can see God. When you are not aware of God in your mind because your mind is split, you will not be aware of God "outside" you because there won't be a oneness between within and without.

Only a whole awareness is capable of perceiving accurately and of overlooking the illusion of separation. Only a loving awareness can see people for how they really are. Until that time, your split awareness shows you a distorted interpretation of other people, whereby the illusion in your own mind - between your persona and shadow - or between your conscious and unconscious parts - skews your perception and makes it impossible for you to see correctly. As within so without.

An interesting point to make also is that those whose minds are split and cannot really see, because their awareness is blocked by illusions, will enter into perception and further enter into a private world. The more deeply they believe in their own self-deception the less they will be aware of others. They will go into a private world of increasing insanity and their ability to be lucidly present with others will degrade.

Therefore, recognize that when people are not loving, their ego is talking to itself. When people are not loving, they are hallucinating. When people are not loving, they are insane and mentally ill. When people are not loving, they may seem to be interacting with you and talking to and about you, but really they cannot see you properly and are interacting with and talking to their split mind.

Someone with a split mind will seem to talk to their own projections of denied, repressed guilt, which they have disassociated from and projected out, as though they are talking to someone other than themselves. This is the persona addressing the shadow as "not me". You could be forgiven for thinking that when they do this, they are talking about you. They will even address you because they have become so convinced that their disowned self is external from them that they equate it with you and mix it up with you who also appear to be external from themselves.

Therefore they will seem to attack you, and it will seem to be about you. They will try to accuse you of the sinfulness that they are trying to get rid of from their own mind. Really this is all taking place within their own private world within their perception, and it's got absolutely nothing to do with you. But it can certainly seem like it does. The person may even attempt to attack you because of the sin they see in you, which is their own belief in their own sin.

The more a person hates themselves and the more repressed guilt they have, the more they will see it in others. And they will believe that the destruction of others will save themselves, their innocent persona, from the terrible threat that it presents. This is why people who are insane are compelled to violence and murder, attacking hallucinations and believing that everyone is out to get them. People thus believe they are justified in getting rid of others because everything about others is what the persona does not want to forgive in the Self.

If you in your awareness are perfectly at peace, with a whole mind, aware of God and experiencing True Vision, you will not buy into this charade. You will recognize that the person is calling out for love and that they are hallucinating. You will see them attempting to get rid of their own belief in their own sinfulness, and that they are hurting themselves.

You will also recognize that because you are identified with love and wholeness, any attempts that the person makes to attack will always be directed towards an identity that is not loving or whole. But rather, the ego always attacks an egoic self, a hated self, a sinful self. And so as the ego in others accuses themselves of sin, if you are not identified with sin yourself you will simply remain unaffected by their insults because you do not perceive that they are targeting what you are. Your identity of love and real innocence is not being targeted.

When people attack through their hallucinations, they attack themselves indirectly and they only ever attack a perceived sinful self. So provided you are centered in your identity as Christ, you will not take it personally or believe it is about you. This will clearly show you, by contrast, that everything they are expressing is really about themselves, and is part of their own self attack. This is why Jesus suggests to remind them, "brother, what you believe about yourself is not true."

It is also pertinent to say that people with an ego to any degree do not know what they are doing because they are partly unconscious, and therefore can be forgiven for acting out the way they are. They do not really have the awareness to know what they are doing and their attacks are semi-conscious at best. Therefore they are forgivable, because they know not what they do.

If however you yourself have an egoic mind, split into parts, filled with guilt, and having identified your Self as comprising of sin, when you are exposed to a person who is hallucinatory you will lose your sense of clarity and detachment and will instead become confused about who the other person is addressing.

Their attempts to scapegoat you, while originally simply efforts within the scope of their own mind, will start to SEEM as though they are actually directed at what you are. Your own belief in being sinful and guilty implies that if they are attacking a sinful guilty person, it's now quite possible that it really is about you. And because you yourself believe in your own sinfulness and guilt, you will at the very least agree with them, even if painfully, that what they say about you is true.

Even if you fight and react to them at having triggered this in you, and even if you try to blame them for causing this upset in you, really it is just you confusing your own guilt with theirs and believing that their guilt has directly attacked what you are made of.

You will then use the opportunity to get rid of some of your own guilt by scapegoating them back and accusing them of actually doing something to you, or of causing you to feel upset. Your upset was there already before they even came along, but it's advantageous to your persona to get rid of it at any opportunity.

Typically, because most people on the planet are riddled with guilt, which stems from a belief that they really are sinful because they really attacked God, there is a huge amount of confusion as to exactly who is doing what to whom. Or who is really the culprit. Or who is really guilty.

It's something of a free-for-all of blame and cross-fire, with all parties participating in a massive unconscious hallucinatory scramble, where everyone believes that everyone else is attacking them when in fact nobody is attacking anyone but themselves.

All perception is therefore a form of judgement against the Self, and all perception typically is mis-perception. It is possible to correct perception to the point where it becomes aligned with or a reflection of awareness, but still remains within the realm of perception. This "true perception" makes it easier to cross over from perception to True Vision, i.e. awareness.

Mistakes of perception are perceptual errors. This means you have been mistaken in some way in believing that something is true which is not. And usually this pertains to yourself and the content of your mind, your sense of identity and your beliefs about yourself. These seem to later turn into a very complicated cess pool of projected, tangled up and warped projections onto other people, which you then perceive as if it is really out there and threatening you.

Generally speaking, to make progress in awakening you need to at least become accustomed to recognizing that your upset is not really about anyone else, it is about yourself. You need to be willing to question whether it's really that "not me" projected outward that is guilty. You need to realize you're still seeing your own sin and guilt and projection of power. Only with some willingness to take responsibility for what you are doing to yourself can you begin to undo the complicated mess that you've made of your mind.

Power that you see outside of you that you think is owned by other people and which they wield over you, is really your own power which you have disassociated from and disowned. To claim it back requires you to take responsibility for what you are doing to yourself instead of blaming and disassociating.

Similarly, causes that you see as outside of you are mis-placed internal causes which you have disowned and believe are not coming from you. This has created the sense that there is an alien will, or a separate will, or a mind of its own, which is now running amok both in the world and in your life and your body, to do things against you that you do not want.

These are merely actions which your unconscious, repressed mind is taking to express the mistaken beliefs of sin and guilt which you do not want to own or heal. And so ultimately your projection of mind-content manifests and produces all of the "events" in your life, which come as unwanted lessons to show you something about yourself that you are mistaken about.

When these things occur you will want them to go away and get rid of them because they seem to be puzzles or problems that you do not see correctly. They are illusions, come around again for you to see differently. Initially you do not get it and cannot tolerate it.

But gradually you will learn to see it differently and recognize a truth which you could not see before. Only when you can shift your awareness, your perception, to see through and past an illusion that you used to believe was true, can you come to a place of expanded awareness and thus no longer need the lesson that you yourself created.

Only true perception sees truly. Mistaken perception sees mistakes.

Forgiveness, then, does not make perceptual mistakes. A forgiving attitude overlooks all illusions and sees the truth. It rests quietly and is still and judges not. It knows that there effectively is no real sin, no real illusion, and no real separation. Forgiveness is a state of atonement in which you recognize that because there has not been a real sin or separation, you must remain innocent in God's eyes and therefore are still worthy of His love.

Forgiveness is the final state of mind in which perception has been corrected, and therefore forgiveness sees correctly. It does not make errors because it does not believe in illusions and does not buy into them. Forgiveness is not deluded or distorted. It looks forgivingly and knowingly upon the illusion and simply recognizes that it IS only an illusion and is therefore false. It does not exist at all, has no real consequences, and is nothing to worry about.

Forgiveness, being correct perception, does not make perceptual errors, and therefore does not put you into a situation where you now have to fix your perceptual errors. However, having made perceptual errors, or in other words, by failing to forgive yourself and having instead condemned and judged yourself, you now are in a situation where your mind SEEMS to be in need of correction.

This correction now calls for what seems to be a process, a process of purification, and many people call this process forgiveness or undoing but it really is a preparation towards forgiveness and an attempt to restore a forgiving attitude. The shifts in perception which then occur as you awaken to truth and claim responsibility for what you really are, as non-sinful innocent immortal spirit, are simply a series of corrections or "healings" which restore forgiveness and True Perception.

The correct identification of an illusion as an illusion, the correct distinction between what is true and what is false, and the correct perception of reality as love, are all hallmarks of a forgiving, i.e., forgiven mind. A mind of forgiveness recognizes there is nothing to forgive, having come to the awareness of the atonement that there has not been any real sin. An unforgiving mind will condemn the Self and in turn lead to all manner of additional confusions and projections and hallucinations of illusions appearing real.

Becoming able to perceive correctly the forgiven world, is no different than becoming able to see yourself as forgiven. Because what is outside of you and what is inside of you need to become One again. The body, which is an obstacle to vision, needs to get out of the way. Its boundaries need to stop limiting awareness and stop preventing the mind from being OMNIPRESENT. Your mind is everywhere and in all things.

The body's eyes do not see reality or truth and were made only to look upon form. They were designed to limit vision and to fixate solely upon the form of error, or the form that error has taken. To its sight, or lack thereof, it will only allow into awareness signals that testify to form being real, and therefore of sin being true. They will only show the mind what it has asked them to only show it. They will not give you a glimpse of heaven nor of the reality of God.

Being designed to limit sight, the body's eyes barely see at all, and are incapable of awareness. Your mind uses them to see within a dimly lit world of hate, but they are not designed to witness the truth. They are only there to show you an illusory world and to make it seem to be real. Your mind does not need the body's eyes to perceive and the mind is capable of being aware on its own, going beyond what the body can see. The mind has access to other dimensions and connects you to Heaven.

The body does not see at all, being only a dormant device which you can choose to use for your purposes. You can choose to look through it with your mind and see a heavily filtered view of the illusion, or you can choose to see beyond the body's limitations entirely and perceive fully. You are far bigger than the body suggests and are capable of being unified with an unlimited, infinite mind.

Form, the body, and the world, is able to reflect Heaven, as though seeing a reflection of God in it, but they are not Heaven. They are still illusions, and at some point they must disappear and make way for your return to full awareness, a release from perception and a journey across the little bridge Home to God.

In truth, awareness has not been changed or lost. It just seems to have been temporarily covered up and distorted by "blocks", as illusions, which masquerade as truth. As these illusions are overlooked with an increase in forgiving attitude, and as belief is withdrawn from the ego, and as perception is therefore corrected, awareness will slowly return and you will gradually, gently awaken back to Reality. This entails a development of trust in God, and a withdrawal of trust in the ego's illusions.

Awareness of God is your natural state of being. Revelation from God in all its power is yet only a glimpse of the permanent magnificence of the awareness of God's being. Perception, limited and fragmented, is barely a wink to the profound unlimited presence of God's Being. And in God there is only Truth to see. It is your Home. It is what you really are.

"I cannot see in darkness but in light". "I am not an illusion but a reality". -ACIM


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