I was quite cynical growing up. I rarely took anyone’s word for anything. If a bench had a “Wet Paint” sign on it, I was the person who had to touch it to be sure. “Yep, that paint is definitely not dry.” I suppose you could say my mantra for most speculative assertions was “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
We often have a hard time believing in things that don’t readily align with our experience. "Show me the proof" we might think. Certainty isn’t assumed, it’s earned.
But what if we have it backwards? What if beliefs don’t naturally ensue from the senses?
Rather, what if perceptions - in fact, all our experiences - stem from our beliefs?
There is a classic experiment in psychology using the following image:
You will see either an old woman or a young lady, depending on your particular frame of mind at the moment. And if you’ve been through this experiment before, then you see both the old and young women.
The point of this image and the experiment is to demonstrate that perception is relative. We see what we are conditioned to see.
Consider the image itself. It is nothing but black ink on a white background. And even the ink isn’t continuous. It’s more like millions of tiny black pixels. Yet we take those splotches of pixels and give them a meaning of an image of an old lady or young woman.
And that’s what we do with everything.
The world around us is nothing but “splotches of pixels” that we interpret as something meaningful. That’s an automobile. There’s a human walking a dog. And here I am observing the scenes unfold.
Everything we experience is based on how we’ve been conditioned. But the conditioning has nothing to do with our upbringing or past history. Rather, it’s based completely on whether we’re in our ego mind or the mind of spirit.
It is incredibly hard to accept such an idea that runs so counter to our beliefs. What we see and experience is not reality but rather a projection of what the mind has conditioned us to perceive.
From A Course in Miracles:
The world you see has nothing to do with reality. It is of your own making. (W-pI.14.1)
Seeing is not believing. We’ve got it backwards, which leads to all our experiences of pain.
But thankfully there’s another choice we can make. For the mind that bathes everything in a wondrous light of love. We’ll see it when we believe it.
Join me in Thursday’s class where we’ll explore the nature of perception and how we can greatly alter our experiences. I look forward to seeing you then.