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21.1 The truth is not a set of facts. Written truth is not the truth but only the arrangement of the truth into language. You have a birth certificate that states the truth about your birth. The birth certificate is not the truth but symbolic of the truth.
21.2 The truth is not symbolic. It is. It is the same for everyone.
21.3 There are no two sides to the truth. There is not more than one truth. There is one truth.
21.4 The truth is not a concept. It is real. It is all that is real.
21.5 Your real Self exists in truth. It does not exist in illusion.
21.6 Your personal self exists in illusion. It is called a personal self because it is attached to a person. A person is a being born into time, a being whose existence began in time and will end in time.
21.7 The only means for the personal self and the true Self to exist together is for the truth to be lived in time. In order for the truth to be lived in time you must forget your uncertainty and be certain of the truth.
21.8 This certainty is antithetical to you. You think that to believe in one truth is to deny other truths. There is only one truth. Untruth must now be denied.
21.9 This will sound intolerant to you. It is a stance intolerant of illusion. You must no longer see illusion for it is no longer there! This is how you must live with it. You must live with it as you once lived with the truth. You must find it unobservable! It must become a concept only. Illusion is a set of facts, or in other words, a set of information. These facts are subject to change and mean one thing to one person and one thing to another. Illusion is symbolic. And what’s more it symbolizes nothing for it does not symbolize what is!
21.10 This is your conundrum. When you have never known what is you have never been able to be certain. You have no experience with certainty other than—and this is a crucial other than—your certainty of your own identity, the very identity this Course has disproved. This identity has been seen as your personal self. Thus your personal self is the only place in which you have experience that can now be used for a new purpose.
21.11 Even while this experience is experience of an ego-self, it is still an experience as near to certainty as you have been capable, simply because you could not exist without an identity. You might think of this as being certain of facts and information, for these are the things about yourself that few of you have doubted. Those who have had cause to doubt circumstances of their birth are often consumed with a desire to discover these unknown circumstances. For your birth, your name, the history of your family and the accumulated experiences of your lifetime are the things upon which you draw to feel the certainty you feel about your personal self. You identify yourself as male or female, married or single, homosexual or heterosexual. You might call yourselves Chinese or Lebanese or American, black or white or Indian. Your personal self may be deeply affected by these things you call yourself or may be minimally affected.
21.12 And even more so than these things, although this hasn’t as often been considered as part of what makes you certain of your personal self, are the thoughts of your mind, thoughts that while certainly changeable, are unmistakably claimed to be your own in the way few things, in addition to your name and family of origin ever are. Even the most materialistic among you rarely count what you have acquired in form as part of your identity. What you have acquired that is not of form, you have, however, added to the few ideas that you hold certain. A degree earned or talent developed is seen as part of your identity, as part of who you are.
21.13 So too is it with beliefs. Many of you have a religious identity as well as a professional identity. Many of you have political or philosophical identities. You may call yourself Christian or doctor or Democrat. You may have beliefs you hold strongly, such as a stance against capital punishment or in favor of equal rights or environmental protection. And you may, even while recognizing, as you surely do, that these beliefs are subject to change, hold yourself to behaviors that fall within the parameters of your belief system. You think of these things as part of what make up the totality of who you are, of your personal self.
21.14 So it can be seen that there are several aspects to your personal self: a historical aspect, an aspect we will call self-image, and an aspect that has to do with beliefs.
21.15 The historical aspect is based upon your family of origin, its history, and on the life you have led since your birth. The self-image aspect is based upon your race, ethnicity, culture, body size and shape, sex and sexual preferences, and so on. The aspect that has to do with beliefs is linked to your thoughts and ideas about the world you live in and the “type” of person you feel you have chosen to be within that world. Whether you have given thought to the interconnection of these ideas you hold about yourself or not, they exist. Your world view, and your view of your personal self, are inextricably bound together. In other words, the world you were born into, regardless that it was the same world as all other human beings were born into, is also different than that of all other human beings. And what’s more, your experiences within that world are also different than the experiences of all other human beings.
21.16 All of these things have contributed to your idea that you are a separate being and as such incapable of truly understanding or knowing your brothers and sisters, those whose personal selves and world view cannot help but be different than your own—those whose thoughts are surely as distinct and separate as are your own.
21.17 Now you are being called to accept your true identity even while you retain the form of your personal self. As your true identity is that of a Self who exists in unity and the identity of your personal self is that of a self who exists in separation, this would seem impossible. Even while your belief system has changed and you believe that you exist in unity, all the things we have enumerated above will act to challenge these beliefs unless you are able to see them in a new light. No matter what you believe, while you have a body that is different from all the rest, a name that distinguishes you from some and yet links you with some, a nationality that separates you from other nationalities and a sex that divides you from those “opposite” you, unity will seem like a belief only.
21.18 Thus, certain things about your personal self must be accepted as aspects of your form and cease to be accepted as aspects of your identity. This will cause your existence to seem to have more of a dualistic nature for a short time while you carry observance forward into observance of your personal self. As was said at the beginning of this Treatise, by the time the learning of this Treatise is complete, the personal self will continue to exist only as the self you present to others. It will be a representation only. It will represent only the truth. It will no longer be seen as your identity, but as representing your identity, an identity that has nothing to do with the thoughts of a separated mind or the circumstances of the physical body.
21.19 And yet, what might seem contradictory is that I have said that we can also use the certainty you have felt about your identity for our new purpose, the purpose of the miracle that will allow you to exist as who you are in human form. How, you might rightly ask, can you cease to identify yourself as you always have and use the only identity you have been certain of for a new purpose?
21.20 The answer too will seem contradictory, for the answer lies in realizing that your former identity does not matter, even while realizing that it will serve your new purpose. Further, there are even two aspects to this contradictory-seeming answer. One is that your certainty regarding the identity of your personal self will be useful as that certainty is translated to the thought system of the truth and aids you in becoming certain of your true identity. The second is that the very differences that you seem to have will be seen as sameness by some and will attract them to you and to the truth you now will represent.
21.21 While this has been called the time of Christ, it is obviously no longer the time of Jesus Christ. My time came and my time ended. The time when a single baby born of a virgin mother could change the world has passed. The world is quite simply bigger now and the identities of your personal selves split by far more than history and far more than the oceans that separate east from west. This is why this call to return to your Self is being sounded far and wide and why it goes out to humble and ordinary people like yourself. There is no exclusivity to this call. It excludes no race nor religion nor ones of either sex or sexual preference. It but calls all to love and to live in the abundance of the truth.
21.22 In other words, it will matter not that there will be no priest or guru for those who seek the truth to turn to. It will matter not that a black man will not turn to a white man or a Muslim to a Christian. It will not matter if a young person looks to one his or her own age or turns to someone older. And yet it will matter that someone will look at you and see that you are not so different than he or she. It will matter that someone will look at you and be drawn to the truth of him- or herself that is seen reflected there. What I am saying is that your differences can serve our purpose until differences are no longer seen. What I am saying is that you can remain confident in your personal self, knowing that your personal self will serve those you are meant to serve. What you have seen as your failings or weaknesses are as valuable as are your successes and strengths. What has separated you will also unite you.
21.23 It is not being said that anyone should, or will, remain blind to the unity that exists beyond all barriers of seeming differences such as those of race and religion. It is simply being said that they do not matter. It will not matter if a person turns to someone “like” him- or herself to find the truth, or if a person turns to someone totally “unlike” him- or herself to find the truth. As has been said many times, willingness is the starting point and as can be surely understood, where one is willing another may not be.
21.24 There is no “other” who can follow the call meant for you. No other who can give the response you are meant to give. Do not make any false plans that give your power to others more learned of this Course than you to be the savior only you can be. Do not think that only those who are more bold than you or who speak more eloquently or who are better examples of a good and saintly life are those who will lead the way for others to follow. Do not give in to the idea that one special one is needed nor give to any one a role you would not claim for yourself. No leaders and no followers are needed. This is quite obviously an old way of thinking. While no one is called to evangelize, all are called equally to represent the truth and to observance of the truth. That you each will do this in ways unique to who you are must be further addressed and seen as it relates to the relationship between the personal self and the Self, the truth and its representation and observance.
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