Open-Mindedness

by Robert Perry

Being open-minded is something most of us value. We may hold our point of view, but we probably realize that being open to other points of view is good. It improves our chances of arriving at the real truth. After all, out of all the people and all the views out there, what are the odds of our particular view just happening to be the right one? We have no problem with thinking others are wrong. What makes us exempt?

What is your relationship with open-mindedness? How wholeheartedly do you embrace it as a value? How comfortably can you confess to being unsure? How readily do you admit it when you are wrong? How genuinely do you "try on" other points of view?

A Course in Miracles holds open-mindedness in high esteem, but it teaches a far deeper notion of this quality. It wants us to be open-minded about the basic lens through which we view the world. It wants us to be open to a whole new way of viewing reality. The Course teaches that there are only two ways of seeing. One way sees the world as a collection of physical bodies, animated by flawed personalities, which deserve our approval when they behave properly, and deserve our rejection and punishment when they attack us.

This, of course, is the way that most of us see the world. In fact, the other views that we try to be open-minded about are almost all just variations on this larger theme. They fall within its basic pattern. Thus, being open to them really amounts to being open to other forms of our current point of view. How open-minded is that?

The Course calls this way of seeing "false perception," thus implying that there is a whole other way of perceiving the world, one that is different in every respect. This other way doesn't see people as bodies, but as pure spirit. It doesn't see them as flawed personalities, but as perfect divine beings who are merely identifying with a personality that is not them. It doesn't see them as lovable based on their behavior, but as lovable regardless of their behavior. And it doesn't see them as guilty when they misbehave, but as forever radiant with the holiness of God.

Could this view of reality be true? That is where open-mindedness comes in. Can you open your mind to such a radical possibility? Why should you? Why should you do something so potentially disorienting? Because, says the Course, if you can truly open your mind to this other view, if you can let it all the way in, you will fall into quiet ecstasy over every person and every living thing you see. You will enter a world of "beauty that will enchant you, and will never cease to cause you wonderment at its perfection" (Text, p. 353). With the possibility of such a benefit, surely this view deserves our open-mindedness.

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