A transcription from "Walk You in Glory," a workshop on self-esteem
presented by Robert Perry in Sedona, AZ in February 2003.
Imagine that you have contracted a really weird disease, unlike anything you have ever heard of. This is how it progresses:
First, you notice that your eyesight starts going blurry and then you go blind. You can't see a thing. But you are really okay, because you can still hear, you can feel, you can move around. Ultimately, you would adjust and you would still have your same basic sense of self although you would feel as though a chunk had been taken out of it.
But the disease is a lot weirder than that, so after a while you go deaf. Now your main ways of gathering information about the world are gone—you can't see and you can't hear. But you still have touch and smell… and taste, which works for things that allow you to get close, but doesn't tell you where the telephone poles are.
Then the weird disease progresses one step further and you become paralyzed. You can't get around and gather information about your world. But what do you still have? If someone touches you, you can feel him or her. You have a sense of smell. If someone shoves something in you mouth, you can taste it.
However, the weird disease progresses one step further and you lose all that—no sensation, no smell, no taste. You can't move, you can't see, you can't hear. At this point, how do you know where you are? How do you know if you are in a car? How do you know if you are at the hospital? How do you know if they are amputating something from your body? How do you know you are not falling out of a plane at that moment, or hitting the ground? You wouldn't know any of that.
You've lost all contact with your environment. But what about your sense of self? It's still pretty much there. You have your memories. You know who you are. You have that whole mental world you've built up.
But then the weird disease goes one step further and you get a profound case of amnesia. You have no clue who you are. You've forgotten everything. Now you are in this weird blank state: you don't know who you are; you don't know where you are. And in this state you start to dream.
Now most dreams last a short time and they are full of all sorts of chaotic elements. Things switch around rapidly and bizarrely. But the weird disease is such that it induces a very different kind of dream—a dream that is consistent. It just keeps going and going. And it's more internally logical than most dreams. Things just don't happen, where something turns into something else immediately. It's a lot more logical, and it doesn't stop.
In this dream, you are some sort of rodent creature on some other planet. And in this rodent society, you are one of the lower caste rodents—you are homeless; you don't have any family. You are a worthless, miserable rodent.
Meanwhile, in real life, you have been hospitalized and the doctors are trying to figure out what the hell you have. And while you are lying there in the state induced by the weird disease, years pass—years of this dream of being some sort of intelligent rodent creature on some other planet. It just keeps going and going.
Finally, in real life, they hire an amazing psychic who can project his mind into your dream, and appear as another creature, say a robed rodent. And this robed rodent walks up to you in your dream and says, "Listen, I've got some really startling news to tell you: You are not actually this homeless rodent on Planet X. You are actually a thing called a human being named such-and-such on Planet Earth and you've been in a hospital in Cottonwood for ten years."
Would you believe this messenger? What reason would you have to buy a crazy story like that?
Workshop participant: It depends on how much pain you had. If you were in a lot of pain, you might want to believe whatever came out of the blue.
In a sense, that is exactly the condition we are in now. We are not anything like these creatures. And in a very literal and real sense, we are not here. From the Course's standpoint, we are no more here than you are on Planet X. It's just a dream.
We all know that you are not literally in the places that you experience yourself in when you are dreaming. When you wake up from a dream that you were in Europe, you don't think, "I need to go to Europe and find out more about where I was, and find evidence of my being there." You'd be labeled crazy. So from the Course's standpoint, we very literally aren't these people. We are another kind of creature dreaming we are these people. And we very literally are not in this place. We are in a whole other place simply dreaming we are in this place. And we are not in these bodies.
Participant: Is there anything the robed rodent could tell the rodent to convince him he is only dreaming?
I think that there are a lot of things that might be somewhat persuasive. The Course is one long series of things like that. One thing it tells us is: You've never really felt at home here. You've always felt as if you were from somewhere else. Another thing it tells us is that it really is no fun being this rodent creature. It also tells us that if we quiet our mind, we can directly experience who we really are. Everything the Course tells us, to one degree or another, has some power to open our mind to that possibility.
When I've shared this story in the past, people have often responded, "It's like an out-of-body experience!" What the Course would say is: not at all. From the Course's standpoint, you were dreaming about being in your body, you dreamt about leaving it, and then you dreamt you were floating around in this world. But all that's still a dream. Being out of your body is no more real than being in your body, because the only real out-of-body experience is the experience of being in Heaven.
You could say that our presence in this room here is very much as if we had all made a pact to have a group dream where we would all be in the same dream room and experiencing the same dream situation, but from different vantage points. If that were true right now, I could say, "Hey guys, remember that plan we had? We did it! What is happening right now is just the group dream we set up." Then if I were to ask you, "Where are you really right now," you would say, "I am in bed, dreaming." You would know that you were not here.
The Course says that if I were to ask you that same question right now, the correct answer would be, "I am not here. I am asleep in Heaven, 'at home in God, dreaming of exile'" (T-10.I.2:1).
And let's say that we also planned that we would show up in this room as different people. Somebody would show up as Saddam Hussein and somebody else would show up as Franklin Roosevelt. And I would look at somebody who looks like Franklin Roosevelt and say, "Who are you really?" And he would say, "I am so and so, lying in bed in my home, dreaming that I am Franklin Roosevelt in this room." Similarly, the answer for the real life version is, "I am God's son, lying asleep in Heaven, dreaming that I am Janet Miller [a workshop participant] or whoever, in this room, on this world."
The reason that this is so important is that it is our ticket to limitless self-esteem. There is no "this" me, there is just the Son of God experiencing itself as "this" me. Then all of my low self-esteem is my own delusion and who I am is something of infinite worth.