Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of god.
This is how a course in miracles begins.
It makes a fundamental distinction
between the real and the unreal,
between knowledge and perception.
Knowledge is truth under one law – the law of love or god.
Truth is unalterable, eternal, and unambiguous.
It can be unrecognized but it cannot be changed.
It applies to everything that god created and only what he created is real.
It is beyond learning because it is beyond time and process.
It has no opposite, no beginning, and no end – it merely is.
The world of perception, on the other hand,
is the world of time, of change, of beginnings, and endings.
It is based on interpretation, not on facts.
It is the world of birth and death, founded on
the belief in scarcity, loss, separation, and death.
It is learned rather than given,
selective in its perceptual emphases,
unstable in its functioning and
inaccurate in its interpretations.
From knowledge and perception respectively,
two distinct thought systems arise
which are opposite in every respect.
In the realm of knowledge
no thoughts exist apart from god
because god and his creation share one will.
The world of perception, however,
is made by the belief in opposites and separate will
in perpetual conflict with each other and with god.
What perception sees and hears appears to be real
because it permits into awareness only
what conforms to the wishes of the perceiver.
This leads to a world of illusions –
a world which needs constant defense
precisely because it is not real.
When you have been caught in the world of perception
you are caught in a dream.
You cannot escape without help
because everything your senses show
merely witnesses to the reality of the dream.
God has provided the answer, the only way out, the true helper.
It is the function of his voice – his holy spirit – to mediate between the two worlds.
She can do this because, while on the one hand, she knows the truth,
on the other, she also recognizes our illusions
but without believing in them.
It is the holy spirit’s goal to help us escape from the dream world
by teaching us how to reverse
our thinking and unlearn our mistakes.
Forgiveness is the holy spirit’s great learning aid
in bringing this thought reversal about.
However, the course has its own definition of what forgiveness really is,
just as it defines the world in its own way.
The world we see merely reflects our own internal frame of reference –
the dominant ideas, wishes, and emotions in our minds.
Projection makes perception.
We look inside first,
decide the kind of world we want to see
and then project that world outside,
making it the truth as we see it.
We make it true by our interpretations of what it is we are seeing.
If we are using perception to justify our own mistakes –
our anger, our impulses to attack,
our lack of love in whatever from it may take –
we will see a world of evil destruction, malice, envy, and despair.
All this we must learn to forgive –
not because we are being good and charitable,
but because what we are seeing is not true.
We have distorted the world by our twisted defenses
and are therefore seeing what is not there.
As we learn to recognize our perceptual errors,
we also learn to look past them or forgive.
At the same time we are forgiving ourselves,
looking past our distorted self-concepts
to the Self that god created in us and as us.
Sin is defined as lack of love.
Since love is all there is,
sin in the sight of the holy spirit
is a mistake to be corrected
rather than an evil to be punished.
Our sense of inadequacy, weakness, and incompletion
comes from the strong investment in the scarcity principle
that governs the whole world of illusions.
From that point of view, we seek in others
what we feel is wanting in ourselves.
We love another in order to get something ourselves –
that, in fact, is what passes for love in the dream world.
There can be no greater mistake than that,
for love is incapable of asking for anything.
Only minds can really join and whom god has joined,
no man can put asunder.
It is, however, only at the level of christ-mind
that true union is possible and has, in fact, never been lost.