The Key to Communication

Question: I am confused by the following passage:

The guiltless and the guilty are totally incapable of understanding one another. Each perceives the other as like himself, making both unable to communicate, because each sees the other unlike the way he sees himself. (T-14.IV.10:1-2)

It seems to me that the second sentence contradicts itself: Does each see the other as like himself as the first part of the sentence suggests, or unlike himself as the second part of the sentence suggests?

Answer: This is one of the many cases of tricky pronouns in A Course in Miracles. The key to solving the puzzle is to realize that the "he" in that sentence is referring to "the other." Once this is understood, everything falls into place. "Each perceives the other as like himself" means that the guiltless one is seeing both himself and the other as guiltless, and the guilty one is seeing both himself and the other as guilty. "Each sees the other unlike the way he [the other] perceives himself" means that the guiltless one sees the other as guiltless while the other sees himself as guilty, and the guilty one sees the other as guilty while the other seems himself as guiltless.

It's not difficult to see how this interferes with the two of them really understanding each other. Imagine a conversation between "Sue," who sees everyone (including herself) as basically loving and good, and "Bob," who sees everyone (including himself) as basically self-serving and evil:

Sue: "I really love you, Bob."
Bob: "Oh really? Spit it out: What do you really want from me?"
Sue: "Nothing at all. I'm sorry you feel that way, but I know that underneath that rough exterior of yours is a beautiful person."
Bob: "You're just trying to butter me up so I'll do whatever it is you really want me to do. Come on, where's the hook?"
Sue: "Oh Bob, what can I say to convince you that I truly love you for who you are?"
Bob: "Oh, the old 'I love you for who you are' trick. The last woman who said that to me took me to the cleaners."

What we have here is a failure to communicate. Neither party can get through to the other, because each filters the other's communications through his or her own perception of human nature. Only when they're both looking through the same lens will they be able to truly communicate. What a fascinating idea!

This Course section goes on to apply this idea to communication between us and God. When God, Who sees us as innocent as Himself, tells us how much He loves and cares for us, we who see ourselves as guilty think God is a sneaky liar Who's just setting us up for our comeuppance. In our eyes, His reassurances are "deceptions which would cheat you of defenses, to ensure that when He strikes He will not fail to kill" (W-pI.197.1:5). Meanwhile, when we attack everyone and everything, and angrily tell God what a jerk He is for sticking us into this hellhole, He hears nothing but "a single sound; a call for healing, and a plaintive cry for help within a world of misery" (T-27.VI.6:6). We therefore have a communication impasse just like that between Sue and Bob.

This is why God created the Holy Spirit: to be "the Communication Link between God the Father and His separated Sons" (T-6.I.19:1). Our section concludes with a description of how this Communication Link works:

God can communicate only to the Holy Spirit in your mind, because only He shares the knowledge of what you are with God. And only the Holy Spirit can answer God for you, for only He knows what God is. Everything else that you have placed within your mind cannot exist, for what is not in communication with the Mind of God has never been. Communication with God is life. Nothing without it is at all. (T-14.IV.10:3-7)

The Holy Spirit in our minds solves the whole impasse. He can receive communications from God to us because He sees us the same way God sees us: as innocent. He can also give our communications to God, because He knows God the same way God knows Himself, and can therefore translate our communications into God's "language." Now we can see why the Course places so much emphasis on listening to the Holy Spirit. Without His help, we are condemned to twist God's Love into our own guilty image, and push it away the same way Bob pushed away Sue's love. But with His help, we can recognize that our guilt does not exist—"what is not in communication with the Mind of God has never been"—and so there is nothing that prevents us from being continuously "mindful of His Love for you and yours for Him" (T-4.III.6:3). What could be better than spending each and every day in constant communication with our Beloved?

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