Prisoners to Our Selves

By Kenneth Wapnick

Excerpted from pp. 132-134 of Volume One (All Are Called) of the two-volume work entitled The Message of A Course in Miracles
by Kenneth Wapnick, copyright 1997 by the Foundation for A Course in Miracles.  Reproduced here with permission.
Within the ego's world of alienation there is no escape because, as we have seen, imprisonment is the purpose of the world of bodies. As long as we believe that our problems are in the physical universe, we shall seek for solutions there as well. The "solutions" the ego offers -- all different forms of what the Course calls special relationships -- are merely subtle ways of reinforcing the problem, for they continue to teach us to look at the world as real and separate from its internal cause [mind]. As Jesus explains to us in A Course in Miracles, the ego's maxim is: "Seek but do not find" (T- 16.V.6:5). The way we define the problem dictates where we look for its solution. Defining a problem externally inevitably means we must seek to solve it externally, through what Jesus refers to as magic . . . .  Salvation thus can never be found by looking outside (magic), but only by looking within (miracle) -- in our minds -- where the problem truly is. This inner search is, of course, the very thing the ego does not want. The mind's decision to be an individual and therefore a sinful self A must forever be concealed from view lest the decision be withdrawn and the ego disappear back into its own nothingness.

Imagine a movie theater filled with people absorbed in the images they are perceiving on the screen in front of them. Despite this absorption in the actions and characters depicted in the film, the viewers are nonetheless somewhat aware of the "reality" of the situation: There is a film running through a projector, located in a projection booth behind them; and this film is projected onto the screen where it is seen and reacted to. It is actually an interesting phenomenon of how dissociation enables one to hold thoughts of reality and illusion simultaneously in the mind. On the one hand we know that what we are seeing is pure illusion; not only insofar that the movie is usually fiction, but also because the people and situations we are seeing are not really there. On the other hand, we psychologically react as if the images on the screen were real; we laugh and cry, become afraid, angry, or bored, cheer when the hero is victorious, and become upset when evil occurs or triumphs over good.

So while one part of us knows nothing is happening, another part reacts as if something indeed were happening.  And yet, we are ripped from our illusion at the moment that the movie begins to malfunction; for example, when the image on the screen suddenly starts fluttering up and down, or there is a power failure. We have been jolted from our quasi-dream state and rather annoyingly demand that the dream be returned to us. Imagine now how we would feel if in answer to our angry demands someone ran up to the movie screen, hands outstretched, and attempted to hold still the fluttering images on the screen. He would be thought a fool at best, and clinically insane at worst. Obviously, the problem of the fluttering image has nothing whatsoever to do with the perceived screen, but rather with events occurring in the projection booth behind us that is unseen, and which during the movie itself remains largely unremembered.

In our example, the mind is of course represented by the projection booth, with the film projector itself being the mind's ability to project, and the film running through the projector is either of the Holy Spirit or the ego. The screen represents the world with which we continually identify, "forgetting" that what we are seeing and experiencing is nothing but the reflection or projected image of the thought system that is passing through the mind. Finally, the person sitting in the theater watching the movie and forgetting about the film projector obviously symbolizes our mind's decision maker (or observer, in this context), which has chosen to forget its sinful self, and experience as reality only the projected images of a sin-filled world of separation.



Miracle Studies Navigation Table
Index of Resources Discussion Group FAQ about ACIM 50 Miracle Principles
Biographical: Helen, Bill, Ken Unauthorized Manuscripts The Story of A Course in Miracles The Psychology of ACIM
The Course's Use of Language What is Forgiveness?  Copyright Related Info Question/Answer Service