Recognizing the familiar

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Recognizing the familiar

Post by zoofence »

Yesterday, reading in the text volume of A Course in Miracles, I came across the paragraphs quoted in green below.

Virtually all of the Teachers agree with what I understand to be the thrust of these two paragraphs: That what each of us perceives as “my life” is an illusion, just as what each of us perceives as “me” is an illusion; that the inner and the outer are one and the same; that what appears to “me” as “my life” is in reality “me” perceived outwardly; that, in the end, it is all about projection.

Last evening these two paragraphs said all of that to me with a clarity and forcefulness that stopped my mind in its tracks. Maybe it caught me by surprise because the hour was late, and I was ready to retire for the night. Like a half dozen or so other books that have particularly spoken to me over the years, I have read ACIM’s text volume right through several times, so these lines were not new material to me. But, all the same, last night there it was, fresh as spring, clear as crystal.

Ever the editor, reading the words again this morning as I copy them into the computer, there a few spots that might profit from a tweak here or a change there. But I post them, anyway, on the chance that they will speak to others as powerfully as they did – and do – to me.

"Each one peoples his world with figures from his individual past, and it is because of this that private worlds do differ. Yet the figures that he sees were never real, for they are made up only of his reactions to his brothers, and do not include their reactions to him. Therefore, he does not see that he made them, and that they are not whole. For these figures have no witnesses, being perceived in one mind only.

"It is through these strange and shadowy figures that the insane relate to their insane world. For they see only those who remind them of these images, and it is to them that they relate. Thus do they communicate with those who are not there, and it is they who answer them. And no one hears their answer save him who called upon them, and he alone believes they answered him. Projection makes perception, and you cannot see beyond it. Again and again have you attacked your brother, because you saw in him a shadow figure in your private world. And thus it is you must attack yourself first, for what you attack is not in others. Its only reality is in your own mind, and by attacking others you are literally attacking what is not there."

Then, this morning, I had occasion to go into town, about a thirty minute drive from home. Along the way, I purposely observed the road, the landscape, and so on, with these two paragraphs in mind. In doing so, I realized that everything I was perceiving had a name, that I knew what everything I was perceiving was. In some cases, the knowing was personal and specific – Bucky’s house, the Scots’ organic farm, Viking lumber – and in others, it was general or generic – black top, pothole, school bus, trees, mailboxes, pasture. But everything I perceived, including the windshield through which I was doing the perceiving, had a name, and I knew its name.

And that makes sense if, in some way or another, at one level or another, I am projecting all of it. If it is all coming from somewhere within, then it follows that in some way I recognize it.

But then I wondered, if the fact that I am projecting everything I perceive explains why it is all familiar or recognizable to me, or at least has a name which I am familiar with, then is it possible that there is stuff out there which I am not perceiving precisely because I am not projecting it.

In other words, as I drove along, I recognized everything I perceived. Or, said the other way, there was nothing that I perceived which I did not recognize. But did I in fact perceive everything that was out there? Were there things out there which I did not recognize and THEREFORE which I did not perceive?

Do we only perceive what we recognize, and do we recognize only what we have ourselves projected?

Then I wondered, what would it be like to gaze out on a panorama, to look out in all directions, far and wide, high and low, and literally recognize nothing? That is, to be unable to put a name on anything perceived?

All of which led to the question, what would life be like if I had no name? Suppose that at birth I had not been named, and that I had lived all these decades nameless? Suppose no one had a name?

Suppose we had only very short term memory, and every event, every thought, everyone and everything in every encounter, was brand new?

Soon enough, I had crossed the twenty-some miles, and was in town, getting a haircut, shopping for groceries, running errands, and this stuff drifted off into the mist.

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Post by Bhakti »

Stefan, you asked the following question in recognizing the familiar:

Suppose we had only very short term memory, and every event, every thought, everyone and everything in every encounter, was brand new?

I help to care for a woman who has dementia, and each day is brand new to her. Although she somewhat recognizes me, she never knows my name and could care less whether I show up or someone else does. She never knows what time it is, what season or year it is. She remembers her daughter and knows the rest of her family and her own name.

Although dementia is due to a breakdown in the body's physiologic processes, it never ceases to amaze me how it affects this particular person. She has no recollection of what went on a half hour earlier, whether she slept or ate or didn't, whether she'll have food or care or anything else. Most of the time, she's perfectly content to have a body that doesn't function anymore and has to live in bed. It can't do anything nor does it want for anything; however, it does give her pain sometimes and this can aggitate her.

I don't try to figure out how enlightened or unelightened she is, but I'm thankful for her because she reminds me that I do project the day and "my" so-called world, instead of just letting it be or come to me as it will without expectations or will. She also tells me that it's not the body that's full of life but the untangible energy that flows endlessly.