Sunday, January 20, 2013
The Reality of Shared Illusions? No Way!
I received the following excellent question from a subscriber: I have talked to friends who study A Course In Miracles (ACIM). They use the phrase “Shared Illusions.” I also hear the phrase “Race Consciousness” in some New Thought groups. Are these the same thing? If so, I don’t think I understand what these mean. Can you explain?
Race Consciousness has nothing to do with race (Black, Hispanic, Asian, Caucasian, Native American, etc.) It is “race” as in human race. Race Consciousness is a term that is the same as ACIM’s use of the phrase “Shared Illusions.” These perceptions are not evidence of reality. They are merely shared by everyone or among groups. Many have been taught for generations or since history began.
For example, it is no surprise that someone growing up in an environment of fear will be fear based. Someone growing up in an environment of criticism will be critical. Someone growing up in an environment of bigotry will be a bigot. That’s how we are taught to perceive. Since it carries parental and grand-parental authority, it is absorbed as truth. You, then will teach this to your children and grandchildren. On and on.
These kinds of thought processes are the influence of our ego thought-systems. We live with the consequences of our thought-system – mostly the consequence of fear-based thinking. Over thousands and thousands of generations, some common fears are taught. Spiders are dangerous. Snakes are dangerous. Fear for your life. There is not enough, so get yours before someone else does (Implied: You will be left with nothing). People who look different are dangerous. Different foods are scary – be cautious. People who pray differently are inferior, scary and association with them will tempt you to backslide in your beliefs. It’s safer to stick with what is familiar.
It doesn’t take much of an imagination to comprehend the fears one must be exposed to growing up in a fear-filled environment. Think of a TEA-Party household: The federal government is out to get us, guns are our safety, and the United Nations wants to control us. Don’t believe what you read. There’s a conspiracy to destroy our way of life. Or think of a few fears taught by religious fundamentalists: Satan is always lurking about you trying to steal your soul and, if you really believe in Jesus, angels will be there to fight the devil to protect you. Believing the Scriptures literally allows the Bible to be your personal shield against all the swords of evil that will trip you up. Scary, fear-filled thoughts.
All of these kinds of learned ways to view the world, repeated over generations and generations, can by summed up as “Shared Illusions” or “Race Consciousness.” These common fears among us provide a false sense of legitimacy to their validity. We say to ourselves, “Since so many others think as I do, it must be the Truth – the correct way to look at reality.”
Let me give you an example from the book review [Pacific Standard magazine Vol. 6, No. 1, Jan-Feb 2013, p.68] of The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science – and Reality, by Chris Mooney, Wiley Publishing.
The author found “…that Republicans and Democrats are fundamentally different in the way they think about the world. Republicans … show lower tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty, which makes them defensive about their beliefs and highly resistant to persuasion. Conservative Republicans score low on a personality trait called ‘openness to experience,’ which encompasses curiosity and intellectual flexibility.
“All of these processes contribute to what’s called ‘motivational reasoning,’ which is not reasoning at all, in the classical sense. The theory, derived from modern neuroscience, holds that we often process information automatically and emotionally, without reflection or even awareness. These hidden emotional priorities cause us to misinterpret or dismiss evidence – even technical, scientific evidence… [like] global warming is not related to human activity and is not a threat; abortion causes breast cancer and mental disorders; homosexuality is a choice that can be reversed. The list goes on….” The President can say over and over again that his proposals for restricting the sale of assault weapons doesn’t restrict the 2nd Amendment. Conservatives will react, “ Don’t bother me with facts. I fear the government and so I simply don’t believe you.” These are shared illusions.
The Course in Miracles deals with this early on in the Workbook for Students. In Lesson 12 is the following: “You think that what upsets you is a frightening world, or a sad world, or a violent world, or an insane world. All these attributes are given it by you. [WB: 1; 2-4] … It is [your attributes] you see. It is this that is meaningless in truth. [WB: 5: 1-6]
From ACIM’s Lesson 14: “What God did not create does not exist. And everything that does exist exists as He created it. The world you see has nothing to do with reality. It is of your own making, and it does not exist…. This is your personal repertory of horrors at which you are looking. These things are part of the world you see. Some of them are shared illusions, and others are part of your personal hell. It does not matter. What God did not create can only be in your own mind apart from His. Therefore, it has no meaning.” [WB: 1: 2-5; 6: 1-6]
I give attributes to the world because I love drama. I love my “story.” I think it helps me understand the world, but it’s really defining the world so I can interpret, react, or respond consistent with my self-image. In short, I am my “story. Since ACIM is a course in mind-training, [Txt: 1: VII, 4,1] I have tried to begin training my mind by changing my “story” – changing it to one that highlights my spiritual growth. It’s still ego-thinking, but I believe it helps me be more open to the whispers of the Holy Spirit rather than simply listening to the illusions of my “story.”
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#3 January, 2013