Determinism, Illusion, Reality, and the Mind
Determinism | Mind | ACIM Cosmology
By Darryl E Berry Jr
July 1, 2020 Updated
In my paper titled “The (Non-Existent) Problem of Evil” (I’ll post that as an article soon) I stated in part:
“Whatever is not love, whatever is in absence of love, every single expression, whatever form that takes, is murder. This is because the world is entirely illusory (Miracles, P-xi). Two illusory things are equally illusory. So, from the perspective of its source in our mind – the murderousness or lack of love behind it – calling someone an unflattering name, or trying to undermine someone, or carting them off to the gas chambers, are all the same thing.”
The key to this passage, which I might not have made clear before, is the thought behind the illusion. When I say, “from the perspective of its source in our mind.” That’s the key phrase and must be included in any linear or logical telling of the argument in order to be complete. And perhaps I didn’t explain that point strongly enough.
Yes, the entire world is illusory. And yes, at the world’s level, both an apparently kind act and an apparently unkind act are equally illusory. That’s at the world’s level. Then there’s the mind level. This is what I referred to in this quote as “the perspective of its source in our mind”. Though illusory as well, the mind level is the level that projects this level. There is where the thoughts of fear/murder and love are shown to have you can say qualitatively different beginnings and endings because of the nature of those thoughts at that level.
“Illusion makes illusion. Except one. Forgiveness is illusion that is answer to the rest. Forgiveness sweeps all other dreams away, and though it is itself a dream, it breeds no others. All illusions save this one must multiply a thousandfold. But this is where illusions end. Forgiveness is the end of dreams, because it is a dream of waking. It is not itself the truth. Yet does it point to where the truth must be, and gives direction with the certainty of God Himself. It is a dream in which the Son of God awakens to his Self and to his Father, knowing They are One.” (Miracles, From Workbook Lesson 198).
So, for instance, I can shake someone’s hand, and with a smile on my face. But in my mind – even consciously – I can utterly hate this person. And maybe I’m just trying to save face or manipulate this person into getting into the car with me so I can rob him or murder him, or what have you. I had someone try to do something like that to me in New Orleans (instead of a car it would have been a ferry boat). Another time I mistook someone for someone I knew. The resemblance was remarkable. At first, he was open about not knowing me. Then suddenly this smile came on his face. ‘Oh yeah. I know you! How are you? Where do you live??’ But I could still see the deception behind his fake smile, just enough. I just walked off. But on the surface, maybe someone looking from further way, would have thought he was being friendly with me. This is a worldly level appearance of love, but with the mind level actuality of fear/murderousness.
On other hand, I could punch someone in the face, who’s trying to rob me for instance. Not out of hate or malice. But to stop myself from getting robbed – and to stop that person from robbing me. This might be considered setting “limits on your ability to miscreate” (Miracles, T-2.III.3). How many times have we done something wrong, or said something wrong, and regretted it later? That’s the result of murderousness. Guilt. Because “your hate is really self-hatred” (Renard, 176). And that’s why “every criminal secretly hopes to get caught and to be punished” (Renard, 176). So, stopping someone from doing a horrendous act – even if it takes apparent violence to do so – can be an act of love. And what if you started singing kumbaya instead and the would-be robber ended up killing you, and then had to deal with the guilt of apparently wanting to rob, and then robbing and murdering. They might have an easier time just forgiving the attempted robbery. So, we’re dealing with two levels.
So yes, the world is 100% illusory, and the mind dreaming it is 100% illusory. This is speaking at the ultimate level. What we could call the Level One perspective. What’s real is 100% eternal, changeless, whole, and one. It has nothing to do with this universe at all, nor the mind dreaming the universe. In a sense it’s the Reality we awaken to when we’re done with the dream world. And what is not real is 100% illusory. And when I say “illusory” I mean doesn’t really exist at all on any level in any way, shape, form, field, dimension, frequency, or what have you. I know of course it doesn’t seem that way. I don’t expect this to be intellectually satisfying; but it’s what A Course in Miracles teaches, and what I perceived/experienced briefly as universal mind.
And from our perspective supposedly here the world seems quite real. This is Level Two perspective. The perspective from which we seem to be here in the world. And there are two ways of looking at the illusion from this level. There’s a way of looking at the illusion that can reinforce the belief and experience of illusion, AND there’s another way of looking at the illusion that can gradually break us from the investment in illusion and allow us to awaken to Reality. Both are perspectives in an illusory mind, dreaming itself to be in an illusory world. But as quoted earlier, the perspective or interpretation of love or forgiveness is an illusion that dispels our believe in illusion.
You’d be right to say that acts of love (by this I mean expressions in the world representative of caring, concern, friendliness, etc.) and murder (by this I mean expressions in the world indicative of hatred, spite, violence even to the point of actual murder) are equal in the sense of being that both are equally illusory. But it doesn’t stop there. The vital component at this level (Level Two) is which thought is activating the action from the level of the mind (also Level Two and illusory). Love or murder. In this sense “love” can be interpreted as the investment in the perspective of oneness. In this sense “murder” can be interpreted as the investment in the illusion of separation.
If someone broke into your home at night to rob and kill you, and in self-defense you killed them. That killing could still be an act of love – love for oneself, and the last resort to not get murdered. And it can be carried out without hate and malice toward the would-be robber/murderer. And it would even be not considered a crime in our court system. At the same time, a person could very angrily in self-defense kill the would-be robber/murdered, and still not have committed a worldly crime, but still later feel guilty because of it. Because of the thought that they chose in the carrying out of the act. The fact that we have an internal experience that is quite different depending upon which thought we choose (love or fear/murder) illustrates their qualitative differences.
If the action or inaction is activated based upon the fear/murderousness in the mind – regardless the form that act/inaction takes the world, because the world is 100% illusory, and thus all worldly forms are equal – then it will inevitably reinforce guilt, and the belief in separation, and perpetuate illusion. Even an apparently “kind” or “generous” act. We’ve been there. Done some apparently “kind” thing for selfish reasons and felt guilty because of it; or even some overtly unkind thing out of spite or revenge – and felt bad or guilty later, even though it seemed so justified at the time. But conversely, worldly actions/inactions activated by the love in the mind – again, regardless of the form it takes – will inevitably, because of the thought activating the act, bring inner peace. And the choice for that thought will also forward the full recognition of the illusion and the awakening from the dream. Regardless of the form that thought takes in the world as far as its expression.
The ‘investment in the perspective of oneness’ can take the form of a smile, a handshake, a punch, a kick, or a lawsuit, etcetera. The investment in the illusion of separation can take the form of a smile, a handshake, a punch, a kick, or a lawsuit, etcetera. But the internal results will always be diametrically different. One results in inner peace and the recognition of wholeness/oneness (love) – and ultimately the awakening from the dream of separation. And the other results in fear, pain (physical and/or psychological), guilt, anger, malice, etc. – as well as continued belief in and immersion in the world of illusion.
Now let’s talk about determinism, and how “others” factor in, in a world of complete illusion. The “dreamer of the dream” (Miracles, Chapter 27, Section VII) aspect of the Level Two perspective represents the dreaming mind that is projecting the universe. The level of mind I briefly got in touch with. The dreaming mind is projecting or “dreaming” this level. And thus, this level reflects the dreamer. This is mirrored at the individual level, in that the dreams we have at night reflect the characteristics of the dreamer (us). Psychologists – in my current, limited understanding of psychology – don’t dismiss nocturnal dreams as just illusions and figments of the imagination and then ignore them. No. Though they are fragments of the imagination, the mind is dreaming them for a reason. They bear the characteristics of the dreamer. And they can be examined to learn about turmoil and hang-ups that the conscious mind is going through – and may not even be aware of.
So back to “dreamer of the dream” level that we are reflections of: Just like at this individual level our nocturnal dreams are reflections of us, we are all projections of and thus reflections of the dreamer of the universal dream. Thus, when I see fear and hatred in my mind, that’s a reflection of what’s in the mind of the dreamer. When I see fear and hatred in your mind, being that you’re equally being dreamt by the dreamer, that’s a reflection of what’s in the dreamer’s mind too. But when I see a being of perfect peace and love – Y’shua, or Mother Teresa, for example – then guess what? That must mean that love and peace are somewhere within the mind of the dreamer, too. They are equally projections of the dreaming mind. And that also means that love and peace must be present in MY mind, too. I’m also a projection of the same dreamer.
Thus, A Course in Miracles while recognizing the world as illusory, is hardly dismissive of the world. In fact, we pay quite close attention to the world as course students. To see how I’m judging and condemning the world – recognizing that the hatred I’m projecting onto you is really my own self-hatred. I’m not saying I or anyone else does this perfectly all the time. But this is part of the practice. And by forgiving you I’m really forgiving myself. They’re a projection of the dreamer of the dream (ultimately you), just as I am. So by forgiving us both (the “I” and the “other” at this level), I really forgive the dreamer (ultimately you). And when you learn that you ‘the dreamer’ is in fact innocent of separation, you’re free to awaken (rather than running back to the illusion, tail tucked, out of guilt and fear of having supposedly sinned against Oneness by supposedly separating). And that’s anything that’s not love is murder. The choice for separation reflects or represents that initial moment when we supposedly separated from Oneness, supposedly fracturing it into non-existence (oneness and separation/duality can’t co-exist).
Because the world is the effect – it’s being dreamt by a universal dreaming mind – everything is in fact already written. Every single action and inaction are already written. But there’s not just one experience chain:
“The whole business is just a recording playing itself out… even though it’s a closed system, there are different scenarios open to you in each lifetime. Making a different choice that doesn’t involve the Holy Spirit [choice for love] within the dream won’t undo your unconscious guilt and get you out of the system, but it can result in a temporarily different experience. It’s like a multiple choice script.” (Renard, 186)
Imagine one of those novels where at the end of a chapter it’s like, ‘If the hero saves the day now go to page 133, but if the hero fails right now go to page 152.’ Both of those paths are already written, but we do have some say so in WHICH path we’ll end up in. But it’s all already written, already laid out the moment the dreaming mind projected the universe in one instant. It’s all happened all at once, and we’re just going through the motions like watching a movie for the second time and hoping for a different result.
So, in that sense its ultimate determinism. It’s all already written. But on another level, it’s not ‘other’ determinism, because we are the dreamer who wrote the dream. We wrote it in such a way to act out separation and perpetuate fear/murderousness and the guilt it reinforces, and the separation that that reinforces. This protects us from recognizing the reality of oneness, by making the world very real to us. Thus we protect our illusory existence. But the pain of that become unbearable. And then making a choice for love/forgiveness becomes more sought after. And this is a choice that heals the mind of guilt and pain and dis-ease. With such a choice we can potentially experience an alternate ending (already written but newly chosen) with less pain. OR, we might have the same ending or “worse” from the level of the world – remember, Y’shua was crucified – but our inner peace won’t be affected. Because again, every outcome at the world’s level is equal, all being equally 100% illusory. But by choosing love/peace at the level of the mind, we’ll feel peace and wholeness and innocence regardless of how it plays out at the world’s (illusory) level.
A Course in Miracles (ACIM), 3rd ed., Foundation for Inner Peace, 2007.
Renard, Gary R. The Disappearance of the Universe: Straight Talk About Illusions, Past Lives, Religion, Sex, Politics, and the Miracles of Forgiveness, Hay House, Inc., 2003.
Copyright © 2020 Darryl E Berry Jr, Founder of DEBJ-NDC.
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