"What is level confusion?"
"Level confusion" in ACIM is far-reaching. It is responsible for every aspect of the ego's thought system. A confusion of the levels produces all sickness, all victimhood, all magic, all sacrifice, and basically everything of the ego. To understand how this is so far reaching, let's begin by talking about what a level is and what the levels are.
A "level" is referring to what you could think of as universe. That universe can also be thought of as an entire mind, a thought system, and rules for existence.
The primary level, and the only real level, is the level of God. God and God's Creation, Heaven, and the Son of God in spirit, make up the universe of oneness. Because it is a universe of oneness, there is a thought system within it based entirely on oneness. Only oneness can come from it, only oneness can exist within it, and only oneness can be expressed by it.
This tells us that whatever a universe is, everything within that universe IS that universe and there is one consistent existence there. Nothing can exist IN a universe that isn't 100% consistent with the fundamental system of that universe. This is why God creates like Himself, why the Son is like the father, and why He has inherited God's creative power. "Only the creations of light are real".
Before the separation from God, this was the only "level". You could also think of it as a dimension, or a place of existence, or a universal unlimited mind.
When the separation seemed to occur, there was a "split" or division, which attempted to make some portion of existence where God and His universe were absent. They could not be made truly absent, so this of course was just an extraordinary illusion. From God and His Son's vantage point, it has not happened at all. It's just some dream or idea. The Course calls it the tiny mad idea - an idea of the impossible being possible.
This resulted in what *seems* to be a dream state, where some portion of mind seems to be different to the mind of God. It's a state where God's Will is opposed (i.e. there now seems to be two wills), where oneness is denied, where separation and differences are emphasized, and the opposite of Life (death) *appears* to have some validity.
In and of itself this dream of a separate existence unlike God's existence is just an idea and doesn't go anywhere or do anything ("ideas leave not their source"). But the thing is, mind attempted to IDENTIFY with it and attempted to pretend that it was real. The illusions it made of a dream seeming to be real is responsible for the seeming content of this illusory existence.
So now, there's God's universe, and then there's this other alternative universe. It doesn't really exist, but it seems to. It is entirely 100% illusion. It is a picture of the crucifixion of God's Son, because being an idea of the opposite of Life it has to be an idea of death. It is the Son's attempt to picture His own identity as though He is opposite to Himself, and therefore is not alive. It's sort of a visualization of what it would be like to be dead (there dream of death).
So at this point now we have what appears to be 2 levels. These levels are completely incompatible. The mind or the system of thought that seems to exist in each of them is totally different. God's mind is based on oneness, the illusory ego mind is based on separation. This foundation gives rise to an entire thought system and set of consequences which are radically opposed and different to each other.
In God's universe for example, the truth is that what applies to ones "Self" applies to everything equally. There is one truth that applies to all. In the ego's universe, the "truth" there is that what applies to ones "Self" does not apply to other selves, and what applies to other selves does not apply to ones own self. This is because in the ego's universe, there is not one single sense of identity or consistency or equality. There is only difference, fragmentation, separation, multiple identities, and a thought system based on "being opposed". Another way to say that is it's a thought system based on being in conflict, or at war.
So now you kind of have two "worlds" or two universes, totally opposite, unlike each other, each with a unique mind and thought system. There is apparently no communication between them ("there is no communication between the ego and the Holy Spirit").
What functions and operates within the ego's thought system, cannot leave it. All thoughts, all forms, all experiences which seem to arise within the ego's fictional universe, MUST stay within that universe. They stay within the context of the idea of separation. They cannot leak outside or actually make contact with or do anything to God's universe or God's mind. This is why Heaven is completely unaffected and untouched by the separation. "Love has no opposite", meaning that God's universe/Creation is real and the ego's universe really does not exist. He recognizes it is just a harmless imaginary dream.
So we have these two basic levels. Technically there are actually additional levels in the ego's dream of death, because it is a thought system of differences. This system produces hierarchies all over the place, and splits levels up into sub-levels. Manifestationally, if you can call it that, the ego has produced several layers or universes ranging from the very subtle mental idea of separation down to what you'd think of as more visual "forms", further down to what we think of as solid matter and physicality.
Basically, the thought of separation from God is a thought of death. Death means, the complete annihilation of God's Son. This could only be accomplished (in an illusory way), by creating illusions - images, which are "forms of error", which make it seem like those forms are so separated out and so different from each other, and therefore so at war with each other, that one form can attack by its sheer difference.
The thought of separation HAD to produce illusions in the mind of not just subtle visualizations of death, but of visualizing it so extremely and so completely that those illusions or "forms of difference" had to turn into what we think of as very "solid" seeming ideas. The idea of death became so rigid (because of the belief in sin being irreversible), and the "descent" from Heaven took very logical steps of progression, where it got to the point where these illusory forms seemed as real as possible. That is, they seemed solid, as physical matter. Objects, which could seem to be touched and interacted with.
So basically the ego's mind, based on an idea of separation, sin and death, HAD to produce what WE call a physical universe. This universe, as the most dense and fixed and firmly held aspect of the idea of separation, thus has its own "system" and its own laws and ways of functioning. And everything within it is completely consistent with its foundation. So, being based on separation, everything in the physical universe is separate, nothing is whole, everything is different to everything else, and everything is in conflict with everything else.
Bodies arise out of this and then the Son of God is identified with/as those bodies, and then those bodies suffer because of the nature of this thought system, and then the bodies die. When the bodies die, this is the ego's "picturing" or dreaming of what death would be like. These are the parts of the dream where death is most intensely depicted and carried out and made to seem real. The ego mind had to take its thought all the way to this extreme, of making its idea seem so solid and so real that almost everyone would be convinced of it. Death is the fulfillment of sin, which is the idea of irreversible and total separation.
So anyway. Back to the levels, we basically have two main levels - God, and the dream of death. They each have a mind and a thought system. Holy Spirit's thought system is aligned with God. Ego's thought system is aligned with death (also with its false God which it made up).
Now. In terms of what is accurate and correct, mind on a higher level must be the "cause" of effects on a lower level. Mind, in God, the Son of God's mind, dreamed of a world of separation, which is now "beneath" the universe of God, figuratively speaking. The ego's dream world is coming FROM that mind. So the Son of God's mind is cause, and the dream universe is its effect.
Absolutely everything within the dream is an effect, not a cause. It's just a picture being projected out. Every single thing within it is just an end-result or image being visualized. IF this were kept in clear perspective, you'd be seeing the ego's dream with "true perception".
You would not believe in any way whatsoever that anything in the dream has any power or will or ability to cause anything to happen to the mind i.e. the level of God. You would not believe that cause is in the dream, and effect is in God. You would just see the ego's dream as a false illusion and recognize all of its illusions of causality are nothing but parts of what you projected from your own causality.
It can *appear* that there are things that happen in the dream, in the world, which are "causes", that one thing does something to another, or things happen because of other things happening. All of these are illusions. The only cause of anything in the dream is the mind of the dreamer, the one who dreamed the entire physical universe to begin with. That mind is the ONLY cause.
The problem is, and this is where level confusion comes in, is that we have confused the levels. Ego, identifying with parts of the illusory dream universe, blocking awareness of true perception or truth, has attempted to make it seem as though the higher level of mind is NOT causing the world to be its effect. Instead, the ego's sole assertion is that the ego's dream existence, its thought system, has its own will, its own mind, its own ability to cause, and therefore, God's level of mind is at its effect.
This is responsible for absolutely all of the distortions and illusions in the ego mind. These are distortions which falsely perceive the ego's dream. So basically, you have this ego dream which is ITSELF a false perception - a false idea, an idea of being impossibly separate. This can never be truth, it is an illusion. It has made an illusion of a physical universe. THEN, in an addition to this, instead of just looking at that and seeing that it is false, our "individual" egos have layered on top of that illusion many more personal and private illusions.
Each individual now has false perception projected ONTO the illusion of a world, which makes those illusions be covered up with even more illusions. In each way that an individual believes they or the world has causal power to effect God and His Son, they will be deluded, blinded, and unable to see correctly. They will therefore mis-perceive the world, i.e. the physical universe. This makes the physical universe strike the mind as though it is vulnerable to it, a victim of it, afraid of it, as though the universe is filled with threat and danger, is ugly, etc.
Also what individuals do is they project their own inner belief in "real sin" (that they really made this world/universe) onto it, obscuring it, attacking it, and therefore seeing sin and guilt "in" it or superimposed on top of it. This makes the world SEEM to be biased and hateful and negative and dark and horrible, instead of seeing it as just a neutral, meaningless illusion.
Now, every single way that ego minds mis-perceive the physical universe, or try to make out that the illusion of a universe is actually REALITY, by giving it properties of being able to cause stuff on its own, is a form of level confusion. When you do this, you are making an illusion seem real, or are trying to lend reality to it, in order to take reality away from real reality. So now instead of *recognizing* that the physical universe is an illusion, you instead see it as though it is "real" to you.
You believe the illusions you spin and now you're living in a kind of personal hell. You have your own personal, private hallucinations and projections of guilt and sin going on. You have false perception. You re not perceiving accurately. When you work on forgiving yourself for what you have not done, you are also working to undo your belief that an illusion is a reality. This undoes your conviction that the physical world, which seemed real when you mis-perceived it, is in fact JUST AN ILLUSION.
Becoming able to recognize the illusion for what it is, is to see the illusion correctly. Another way that the Course refers to this is the forgiven world. It is not a real world. It is STILL an illusion of a world inside the ego's illusory dream universe, but it is now seen without projecting sin and separation onto it. It is *recognized* as an illusion, instead of the nightmarish reality that you took it for previously when you thought it had the power to cause bad stuff to happen against your will. This true perception of the illusory world, is the forgiven world, and is what the Course also refers to as "the real world".
The term "real world" was used to describe how a correct/true perception of what this world "is" reveals to you its true nature, or real nature. It's true nature is that it is an illusion and nothing more. This is the "reality" of it - that it is not real at all. When you were having false perception, you were not seeing the illusion for how it "really is", so were effectively in an "unreal world", i.e. insanity. You undid the unreal world in order to see correctly, now you see the real version of the world - what's really in front of your face, and you will see with True Perception, with the eyes of Holy Spirit, that this world is entirely an illusion. This whole physical universe is an illusion.
Holy Spirit's perception of this world is that it OVERLOOKS all of the illusions of this world, recognizes it is just an illusion, does not make it real, does not believe in it, and does not attempt to understand anything about it. He recognizes it, knows it is just illusory, and overlooks its illusions. That is because He has a forgiving mind.
True perception is forgiving perception. It looks PAST the "form" of the illusion of a world, and sees the "Face of Christ". The face of Christ isn't Christ Himself per-se, it is more like, a reflection of Christ, seen within the dream. It's the eyes of Christ which look upon the dream and recognize it as neutral and unreal. Holy Spirit loves to look upon that "face", that reflection of truth, by overlooking the illusion of there being a physical world here. He knows it is not real. He knows the ego does not really exist.
From there, eventually there will be a time where the illusion, recognized fully as just an illusion, a thought, an idea, will disappear. This is the part where the Course says that the stars and planets will disappear in light and this whole universe will cease to exist anymore. Perception will end, the physical universe itself will disappear, there will be no more separation or a separate "level", and then there will only remain what always was: Heaven, God's Creation, Reality, God's Son as he has always been, untouched by illusions.
So when you confuse the levels, what you're doing is, you're saying that a "lower order level" has the ability to affect a "higher order level". Like, the ego is capable of hurting God, or the ego can have power over God's will, or the ego is able to affect and change God, or the ego can change or redefine what the truth is, etc. This is entirely the basis for the "authority problem". The authority problem is level confusion.
Everything within the realm of "false perception", which means, you projecting sin and guilt onto the ILLUSION of a universe, adding more illusions on top of illusions, making it seem to you as though the illusory universe is actually REAL, is an act of level confusion.
Confusing the levels also produces all forms of sickness. "Sickness or "not-right-mindedness" is the result of level confusion, because it always entails the belief that what is amiss on one level can adversely affect another." So here the Course is telling us that when the lower level, ego level, which was an EFFECT of a higher level, develops the distorted perspective or belief that IT is a cause and that it can affect a higher level, this produces all forms of sickness. Sickness is a belief that separation is real, meaning sin is real, meaning something "below" God has the power to affect His reality.
When you think about what sin is, it's basically the assertion that you have power to change God, to affect God, hurt God, go against God's will, make something real which He did not make, and be opposite to Him. That's level confusion. So all sin is a level confusion, and leads to sickness.
Sickness, typically forms of sickness in the body, really means any way whatsoever that you have level confusion. If you believe and perceive there is a cause outside of the mind of the Son of God, able to make Him its effect, then there is sickness. This belief in sickness then will actually "show up" as influencing the illusion of a human body.
Basically it means you are believing that something outside of you has power over you, can cause you harm, can and has done something to you. "Sickness is an attempt to prove that you can be hurt". That means cause is out there, and you are the effect, instead of the other way around. This is a REVERSAL of cause and effect, a reversal of the order of the levels. Any shred of belief that something separate from you (Holy Self), is able to change you somehow, by having its own will or power over you, is going to make you sick in one way or another, and sooner or later it's going to show up as images which transform to look like death.
Death, itself, is the ultimate level confusion. It is the notion that the ego's dream world, the physical universe, which is just an effect, somehow has an extraordinary power over you. It gets to decide everything for you. It leaves you no wiggle room. It gives you no will, because it has complete will over you. You are completely susceptible to it. You even will participate in it by giving up "the will to live", which is the will to WILL at all. You will surrender your power, make yourself powerless, make yourself vulnerable and weak and easily affected. And then this will result in the illusion that "the world killed you".
This is what the entire dream of death was trying to achieve from the outset. This is what all sin is based on and leads to. This is what all illusions of a separate universe eventually will manifest as. Death is the ultimate goal and purpose of it. Sin demands death, death is inescapable within the dream of death (thus you must escape the dream correctly through TRUTH in order to overcome death).
So when death "happens to a body", this is just the ego rejoicing at being able to COMPLETELY reverse cause and effect, making some part of the dream have so much will power over the Son of God, that the Son of God has been stripped of all willingness and all life and all power, such that He can be "destroyed" by it. Really of course, the Son of God HIMSELF is DREAMING THIS!
This means that He himself is actually orchestrating the illusion of the world killing himself. This is why all death is suicide, all death is a CHOICE, and all death is brought about by self attack. This also shows you why the secret salvation is the recognition that you are doing it to yourself. You CANNOT experience death, even of physical form, without laying down your life on purpose, and orchestrating your own dream yourself, in which you seem to feature as that which dies.
No-one dies without their own consent! And all death is suicide because you, as the dreamer, have to orchestrate BOTH the person who dies AND the way by which the world attacks them, like two puppets in a play fighting with each other, both controlled from a higher level. This also means that if you do not choose to arrange such scenarios, you cannot experience death. You are immortal spirit, after all.
This is a fundamental course teaching, and it is also why resurrection is possible, or the "raising of the dead". Anything that seems to die in a dream, is just a dream. It's not real. The dream can easily be changed where that which seemed to die is brought back "to life", or at least an illusion of being alive physically (because living healthy bodies are still not reality).
This is why Jesus could raise the dead. "Miracles enable you to heal the sick and raise the dead because you made sickness and death yourself, and can therefore abolish both." This is also why MIRACLES are expressions of God's POWER to overthrow everything that seems to happen in a weak, powerless dream, to demonstrate - even through the example of the resurrection of a dead body - that the dream does not have power over the Son of God. He is the cause of the dream, the dream is just His effect, and there is NOTHING it can do to stop Him from changing His mind!
This is also why miracles need to be recognized as being far more powerful and far more significant than what they've been diluted down (through level confusion) to be. They literally are capable of raising the dead, healing all forms of sickness, making bodies fly if that be your will, even creating planets. The mind that's dreaming the ego's dream is UNLIMITED in its power.
When that mind, which is on a higher "level" than the world, expresses itself "in" the level of the world, there is a bridging of the gap between the levels. This makes the effects or changes in the dream world SUPERNATURAL. A higher level, mind, which has power over the dream world, expresses itself with unlimited power, changing the dream world any way it sees fit, to demonstrate to those IN the dream world that the dream world itself is NOT causal, its rules do not apply, its laws have no power and can be violated, and the Son of God is master over everything.
At the ego's level of the world, in its dream universe, its "nature" or the natural-seeming system of the universe, is what we'd call natural. It is, however, highly unnatural. God's reality is natural. When God's reality expresses and is demonstrated within the ego's level, its unnatural ways are circumvented and ignored completely. Miracles ignore the ego's hierarchy of illusions, or orders of difficulty, which are illusions. These miracles express in the world, and are therefore seen as supernatural. They accomplish what *seems* to be completely impossible, given the natural laws of the world. But the world's laws are all ONE STEP REMOVED from the mind, being an effect of a prior cause.
Level confusion, being the belief that effects have causal power, is also responsible for all belief in MAGIC. "Magic" in ACIM means that you believe that something outside of you, separate, external, i.e. the ego's dream, has a will of its own, a mind of its own, a power of its own. Magic is the "cause", if you will, of all sickness. Magic is also the cause of all victimhood. That said, it is the dynamic of the mind that believes in and perceives "magical causes" that is sick, and is not really caused BY the dream, because the dream itself is just an effect. Sickness is implemented BY your own mind, when you believe that OTHER minds have power over you.
For example, when you are sick, you will have the belief that your body has a mind of its own. You will think, this body is doing something to me. It's as though it has a will, separate from yours, acting against you. It seems like it's doing something you don't want it to do. You don't SEEM able to change it, or stop it, or make it go away. It's as if "an alien will" has come to decide your fate for you.
The presence of an alien will, i.e., a magical will, i.e. the ability of the ego's dream to CAUSE you to be at its effect, automatically engenders fear. Fear will be your automatic reaction to this belief, and to all forms of level confusion. You are afraid because, somehow, there is a power which has power over you, is separate from your ability to control it, and therefore could decide to hurt you in such a way that you could do nothing to stop it. It immediately is a threat to you to even conceive of such a power, regardless of whether it's doing anything at all.
Victimhood arises from level confusion because of the reversal of cause and effect. It seems something outside your will has the power to do stuff to you. Your belief that it CAN do stuff to you makes you see yourself as weak, vulnerable, powerless, able to be affected, having emotional reactions, feeling hurt, etc. Eventually YOUR mind will manifest physical symptoms in the body to PROVE that you have been affected by an alien will, so that IT can then be the culprit and accused of sin instead of you. People make themselves sick as weapons, as a way of trying to prove that the world, or others, have done this to them, thus escaping the accusation of sin.
Level confusion is what you get when you mix or confuse levels. It therefore also shows up when people, who initially regard themselves to be located in or identified with the ego's thought system, attempt to take on board "another level of truth". So if you start on a spiritual path or you read A Course in Miracles or you try to open up to or accept some kind of truth which is an entire LEVEL different from the one you're used to, you will quickly become confused.
You will attempt to integrate the new information INTO the level you are on. You will try to interpret that new level USING the level you are on. You will see the meaning of that new level WITH the level you're on. And you'll come to conclusions using patterns of thought and systems of perception from your current level which are completely incompatible with this new truth.
At this point you are sort of between two worlds. You are in two minds, or two thought systems at once. You're trying to open up to the thought system of truth, but the thought system of lies has a strong grip on you. Initially this results in all kinds of false conclusions, mis-perceptions, mis-interpretations, etc. The logic that you use to make decisions will result in poor decisions. You'll think that the Course, actually the truth, is trying to imply or insinuate something which it actually doesn't mean.
You will struggle also with the fact that everything in the thought system (level) of truth is consistent and whole and makes absolutely no compromises. It isn't compatible with the ego's system and actually basically "ignores" or overlooks it entirely, as though it doesn't even exist. The ego in you will retaliate against this as though it is being slapped in the face by not being included.
It will take it as a threat that because the truth says the ego does not exist, that therefore you - who are identified with ego - do not exist. This can produce fear. It can produce defenses. And people can actually put up new forms of denial (blocks to awareness, resistance against the truth) in order to try to defend themselves. This produces even more sickness.
All ego rebounds, misinterpretations of truth, false conclusions, calls for sacrifice, perceptions of being threatened by Holy Spirit, not wanting to wake up, feeling like you don't exist, being afraid that you are going to be destroyed by the truth, etc, this is all level confusion. It is one level (ego level) attempting to understand or merge with a higher level.
The ego's mind can never go into, belong in, operate in, have effects in, exist in, or have anything to do with the mind of Holy Spirit. It cannot participate in Heaven. Yet when you are identified with it and you are trying to become more spiritual, you will likely end up making level confusions where you use ego illusions to make it SEEM like you are becoming spiritual. This is the ego attempting to become spiritual while remaining ego. Or to put it another way, the ego is trying to leave its thought system at the same time as stay within it.
The ego is very clever at creating an illusion of spirituality, an illusion of peace, an illusion of forgiveness, an illusion of hope, an illusion of love etc. The spiritualized ego will dress itself up in certain clothes and read certain books and follow certain special teachers and eat special foods and behave in special ways, all trying to create an illusion of spirituality WITHIN its dream of unspirituality. This is a level confusion, and it's a major trap.
Also the ego's efforts to have a person which is nice, people-pleases, behaves good, does well, succeeds, has everything it wants, etc is all part of this level confusion. It's all part of trying to make the ego's separate world out to have causal power, to have a mind, to be sacred and special and important. The ego's dream of death is NOTHING and is filled with nothing whatsoever.
Life forms in the ego's dream world also are illusions based on level confusion. If there is a so-called "animal" which is moving around, and if it seems like it has its own will, and it's choosing, and its making decisions that effect the environment, and it's pooping and eating and running and so on, it sure SEEMS alive. It sure seems animated and living and independent. This is an ILLUSION OF LIFE. It is how we made the dream look AS IF it has its own power, its own will, its own mind. These are not life forms. They are forms of death.
Any part of the ego's dream which seems like it "causes something", is an illusion. Believing it, is level confusion. Believing it will lead to the illusion of death. Every object in the world, all of the things which move, all creatures and animals and vegetation, all human beings and aliens, all planets and galaxies, all of it was animated BY a higher mind - the mind of the Son of God, when He dreamed of it all. It does not function on its own. It does not operate by itself.
Things don't move because they want to move, they move because the mind of the Son of God dreamed of them moving. Nothing is out of place. Nothing happens by accident. Nothing has a mind of its own.
In the ego's world, cause and effect aren't even consistent. What is a cause one moment, may be affected another moment. I could be cutting an apple with a knife, it seem like the knife is unaffected, the apple is receiving all the effects. This is because in the ego's thought system, there is an illusion that one thing can affect something else without being affected itself. So there is this imbalance between cause and effect. Yet it is entirely possible, while cutting the apple, the knife blade hits the counter top too hard and breaks the blade. So now that which seemed to have causal power is now weak and affected. How easily everything shifts between those states, because neither illusions of cause or illusions of effect are real, permanent, or consistent.
We have to learn not to believe the dream is causing anything to happen. The DREAMER is causing it. And that's you. That's you as the One Son of God, not you as a little weak individual who doesn't remember who they are and think they must inevitably die at the hands of something outside of your will. You put it all out there. You projected it. This is your dream. To believe otherwise is level confusion and is sickness and is death.
I could continue at some length about this because basically every single egoic perception, every false perception, every ego thought, every ego form, the entire ego universe, is all geared towards level confusion. It's all a way to try to say, illusions have replaced reality, the ego has power over God, God's will has been cancelled, death has replaced life, and effects have come alive with a will of their own.
There is nothing happening in this world other than an effect. Cause is hidden in the mind. The world, the physical universe, is nothing but a dream, an illusion, ticking over like a movie playing. This is why they say "the script is written". The movie is just on auto-play. Nothing new is being added to it, nothing spontaneous is happening. It's all a pre-recorded, pre-projected idea showing on a screen.
Every leaf that blows on every tree, every cloud that swirls and shifts, every beam of sunlight, it's all premeditated pre-recorded projections of an idea of separation. There is nothing new under the sun. The universe is spinning its wheels and going nowhere. You cannot leave it by death and you cannot leave it by trying to drag it INTO the spiritual level of reality. You can only leave it by letting it go, stopping identifying with it, detaching from it, recognizing it as having NO POWER OVER YOU, no ability to stop you from undoing it, and by then STOPPING DREAMING IT.
When you are able to reach True Perception and see the physical universe for the illusion it is, as just a dream, just some idea that didn't do anything to anyone, whose every "cause" and "effect" was an illusion, and whose "causes" were also just effects playing out, THEN you will recognize that nothing has happened. Illusions recognized must disappear, and the universe will then disappear.
All that will be LEFT then will be God's creation, God's universe, God's real mind, God's Son within that mind, and all of Heaven will rejoice, as it has always been, knowing that "nothing real can be threatened."