It is from that perspective of being an isolated, cut-off, separated being, that we interpret what ACIM seems to be saying about your perception, your mind, exactly what is inside your mind and what seems not to be. This has led to a great deal of misunderstanding of Jesus's teachings about perception and correction because it's all being viewed FROM a state of EGO.
"What is the Body? The body is a fence the Son of God imagines he has built, to separate parts of his Self from other parts. It is within this fence he thinks he lives, to die as it decays and crumbles. For within this fence he thinks that he is safe from love. Identifying with his safety, he regards himself as what his safety is."
You have to recognize that the Sonship, which contains all souls God created, are not just a sum total of many individuals. It's not simply "7 billion humans" all lined up next to each other. There is an essential part to the nature of God's holographic creation, which is SHARING.
The minds of each Son, WHEN in His right mind, is very much shared with other minds. Or let's say, "open to" or "joined with" or "connected to". Each Son is one PART of the holographic creation of God, and each PART contains the WHOLE. So while each Son seems to be an individual, and there are many individuals in Heaven, each individual is ALSO a "container" or medium through which the WHOLE also expresses. It's like being plugged into God.
"One brother is all brothers. Every mind contains all minds, for every mind is one. Such is the truth."
"The mind that taught itself to think specifically can no longer grasp abstraction in the sense that it is all-encompassing."
The ONLY parts of this that turns into the ego, is when you unplug yourself from God, unplug yourself from the collective shared mindset, disconnect yourself from the Sonship, and see yourself as ISOLATED.
See, people think that you cannot be an individual and be in Heaven or that individuality is ego. This is because, as a starting point, they think that the individual is "separate" from others, and that this separation is therefore ego. But this is starting from a false premise. In God, the natural state of things is that everyone SHARES and is JOINED WITH everyone else, is open to them and shares and extends love with them. It is the reduction of the SHARING which brings about the ego, NOT their individuality. You could say, ego makes a person "more individual", it does not establish their individuality.
So if you can picture a soul in its natural state, it is an individual BUT IT IS ALSO sharing all of itself with the WHOLE of all creation, the entire sonship, and all of God. It is a part, but totally joined to the whole. And there are many parts, joined to the whole. As though everyone is sharing a collective experience, which is what we call oneness. But this oneness or sharing does not obliterate the wholeness of each individual soul.
It is ONLY when a soul unplugs itself from the whole, stops sharing God's mind, stops being one with the sonship, and "withdraws itself" from the collective, that it becomes ISOLATED. It seems isolated now because it seems cut off and separated off and DISCONNECTED from the whole. This state of isolation requires "walls" to be erected around the individual. Or to put it another way, we stop sharing with others and recoil into a defensive position of suspicion and conflict instead of lovingly embracing others. These are not walls which define the individuality ITSELF. They are walls which BLOCK SHARING. As if putting a blindfold on someone, or preventing them from ever touching anyone else.
These artificial "blocks to awareness" ARE the ego. They are what keep you CUT OFF from others, versus being JOINED WITH others. These walls are NOT what make you an individual. Your individuality is a state of being individual AND JOINED. What makes you an ego is ceasing to be joined, so that ONLY your individuality remains, as though you are now orphaned or blocked from sharing anything with the collective. It is an attempt to leave the Sonship and go off on your own.
The result of this isolation is that you end up seeming to STILL be an individual, but without a sense of being connected to the whole. Since it is normal and natural to be joined with the whole, when you are NOT joined with the whole there must be some kind of BLOCK in the way which is "separating you off", rather than allowing you to join. Joining DOES NOT UNDO YOUR INDIVIDUALITY. It SHARES IT. This makes total sense in a holographic model of heaven but not the ego's thinking.
Now, you as a "human" in "a body", this is an idea of you being separated off. As though in prison, or not allowed to share with anyone. Isolated, alone, separate, unable to join. That is what makes for an EGO. The ego is the idea of being separated from unity, but the ego is NOT the idea of having an individuality. Individuality actually is an OPENNESS TO LOVE, like a loving individual, whereas ego is an unloving individual. You can still be individual and love your family, or you can be an individual and hate your family. The hate is the ego, not the self, but the hate forms a FICTIONAL IDENTITY which you overlay on top of yourself. That fake self is a SUBSTITUTE for your real individuality, not the antithesis of existing as a self.
So you then think, ok, I am one of many separated humans in one human body. What's inside my body seems to be me. I've become separated from all others BY my body, and whatever is outside my body is not me. So that leads you to perceive, that you have a "personal mind", which is your own separate mind. You actually DO have an individual mind which God created, but it is not supposed to be isolated. It is kept in a box when it is kept inside the walls of the body. The body is a device for LIMITATION.
So you get used to this. And then you think to yourself, ok, here is A Course in Miracles, it's talking about "my perception", so it must be talking about what is INSIDE MY BOX, within my limited mind. And therefore, I need to change my limited isolated mind, my personal perception, in order to change my personal hell, and accept a personal atonement just for myself. No. That's not what the Course is telling you.
The Course completely acknowledges in fact that you SHARE illusions with other people just as much as that you have a personal set of illusions trapped in your own little box. It teaches that the content of this "world", physical objects, wars, bodies, death, sickness, lack, conflict, murder, etc, IS PART OF the illusions which are taking place in a JOINT ENDEAVOR of wrongful thinking, on the part of many many individual souls who COLLECTIVELY are DREAMING this entire universe.
So what appears to be just your personal mind, or your personal thoughts, or your personal ego illusions, which you are working on, and which the course DOES tell you to correct and heal.... that is only PART OF YOUR PERCEPTION. That is only part of your MIND. Because your mind, in its natural state, is not just that which is "isolated" within yourself like a separate cut off mind. You are not supposed to be applying the course ONLY to the part of mind which you've sectioned off and called your own.
The purpose of the course is to remove the LIMITS you placed on your mind, to undo the BLOCKS TO AWARENESS OF LOVE (awareness of the whole) which you placed on your mind, and to lift away the artificial barriers which made you think your mind was "separated off" in the first place. That means, that your mind is actually not JUST your personal private hell within your "little self". Your mind is ALSO OUT THERE, very large, very powerful, very spacious, SHARED WITH and joined with all other minds.
This is because you as part of the Sonship which God created, are not just a separate individual in a box. You RADIATE LIGHT AND LOVE outside of yourself, you extend love, and you SHARE LOVE AND MIND with all other minds. So that means, that "your perceptions" are not just limited to your boxed-in perceptions. Your perceptions ALSO INCLUDE perceptions being had by the parts of your mind which are more WHOLE, and the parts of your mind which are SHARING with other minds.
That then means, you have to look at what it is that the COLLECTIVE SONSHIP is dreaming, what the WHOLE is imagining, and recognize that this entire physical universe is actually an IDEA OF SEPARATION, within the SHARED MIND of the Sonship. And your mind IS PART OF THAT. So that means your mind also encompasses this entire universe, your mind is part of that which is dreaming this entire universe, all of the physical objects in this universe are IMAGES IN YOUR MIND, this entire world IS PART OF YOUR PERCEPTION, and the forms which are showing up are actually THOUGHTS AND IDEAS that you are having. Not just you, but many souls, collectively contributing to this mass visualization of hell.
So as you remember, ok, you are not a boxed-in separated mind, you are a JOINED connected mind, which is SHARING mind and will with the whole sonship, you are FAR LARGER than this universe and everything taking place in it even on what SEEMS LIKE a physical level,is actually happening WITHIN YOUR MIND - within all our minds. Not all illusions are totally "cut off and isolated" inside your head. There are illusions outside your head also. And even your head is an illusion. Your body is a separation device to make it seem like your mind is not part of the mind that's dreaming the world.
So if you think, ok, all I need to do is fix my own personal mind and claim atonement for myself, you are falling short. You're forgetting that you are an aspect of something much larger. And because PART OF the process of correction IS to do with correcting "your thoughts" and "your perceptions" and "your beliefs", you can find many many parts of the Course which support doing that. But if it's considered to be entirely within a context of "my separate self", you are missing additional parts of the picture.
You are MORE THAN the separate isolated self that you have come to think of as you. You are MORE THAN the self which thinks "about" this world as though it exists without your doing. You are MORE THAN the self that perceives itself to be so isolated and separated by its body, from what is "out there", that it thinks its mind is not even out there at all and is entirely housed within a box.
You are MORE THAN a perceiver OF forms which show up out there as if by magic. Who put them there? Who made bodies appear? Who invented planet Earth? YOU DID, along with many others, in a collective shared idea. Jesus says even ideas of separation have to be SHARED otherwise they cannot be ideas at all.
Separation is not just something you did alone, and it is not something that you will just undo alone. The acceptance of the atonement is NOT JUST FOR YOU. That is the selfish ego making itself special and trying to keep your mind from sharing itself with other minds. Your responsibility is to accept the atonement for yourself BUT ALSO SO THAT you accept it for others so that you can help them join you. It is not a selfish act. It merely means you must accept atonement so that you can GIVE IT because you are PART OF THE PLAN of atonement and need to become a miracle worker so that you can HELP OTHERS. This is spelled out in several quotes, like those below:
"The sole responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept the Atonement for himself. This means you recognize that mind is the only creative level, and that its errors are healed by the Atonement. Once you accept this, your mind can only HEAL (others). By denying your mind any destructive potential and reinstating its purely constructive powers, you place yourself in a position to undo the level confusion of OTHERS."
"The unforgiven have no mercy to bestow upon another. That is why your sole responsibility must be to take forgiveness for yourself. The miracle that you receive [into your own mind], you give [to others]."
"This is what is really meant by the statement that the one responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept the Atonement for himself. The teacher of God is a miracle worker because he gives the gifts he has received. Yet he must first accept them."
"When you have been restored to the recognition of your original state, you naturally become part of the Atonement yourself. 6 As you share my unwillingness to accept error in yourself and others, you must join the great crusade to correct it; listen to my voice, learn to undo error and act to correct it. 7 The power to work miracles belongs to you."
"The forgiven are the means of the Atonement. 2 Being filled with spirit, they forgive in return. 3 Those who are released must join in releasing their brothers, for this is the plan of the Atonement. 4 Miracles are the way in which minds that serve the Holy Spirit unite with me for the salvation or release of all of God's creations."
So open your mind and eyes to recognize that the course is not a selfish course, it's not about your separate selfish ego doing the course for itself. It's not about maintaining isolation. It's not about you choosing something in isolation which has no effect on anyone else.
It's about you taking up your NATURAL FUNCTION as the light of the world, to share and extend the truth to others through miracles, to learn to give as you receive, to reclaim the role of being part of the WHOLE MIND which dreamed the world, to purify the perception that IS THE WORLD, and to therefore UNDO THE UNIVERSE by recognizing it is an illusion, even in its physicality, because it is nothing but a mistaken idea shared by the Sonship of which you are a PART AND WHOLE. Being "a part" does not mean "being apart".
The world is perception. Forms are ideas and thoughts. Objects are visualizations. Matter is an hallucination. Your mind is dreaming this entire universe along with other minds. The mind that needs correction is far broader than just your isolated little human self, yet it includes your separate self which needs to have its limitations lifted away to realize and recognize that YOU ARE THE WHOLE. You are the ONE SON OF GOD as much as you are ONE OF MANY sons of God.
Reclaiming your IDENTITY as the One Son of God is also part of recognizing your function in the Sonship and the part you play as one of many equal sons. To go from believing you are ONLY a part of God, to realizing you are part of God AND share the whole of God and his creation, is the identity shift that needs to take place. This is not a course in fixing up your ego identity, or making your isolated self happier or more at peace with an external world that you have no power over and no responsibility for and did not put there. This is a course is GOING BEYOND your identity to reconnect with the whole, the oneness, the sharing of love, which is far larger and more encompassing than you think.
Your mind IS responsible for the physical world showing up. It IS responsible for making wars happen. It IS responsible for producing mountains and deserts and forests. It DOES have that power. Not in isolation, but as part of its shared power with the Sonship. This course is not just about you. Nor is it about the ending of your individuality. It is about taking your separated-off individuality and plugging it back into the SHARED MINDS of the Sonship, and also into the collective unity of the One Son which is one with God's mind also.
That means your perception and your perceptual errors INCLUDE the world ITSELF, not just your isolated view OF the world, and not just the content of your individual isolated mind. Bodies were made by the ONE SON of God to separate "Himself" apart and make believe He is many separated parts. The One Son of God includes the Sonship, which ARE PARTS, but also are not separated off like the ego is. Instead they are JOINED NATURALLY and yet divided NATURALLY. Unnatural division is ego, not whether or not you are individual. In-dividual means 'cannot be divided', because it is A WHOLE. And wholeness means SHARING. So any whole must be shared with any other whole, and therefore all individuals must be part of a whole. This is the nature of God's creation.