But thinking makes it so. Act 2, Scene 2 – the immortal words of Shakespeare channeled through Hamlet. There is perhaps no more insightful line in literature, written right around 1600. What Hamlet was implying – a good 370 years before A Course in Miracles – was that the mind of the perceiver determines one’s reality, not some objective truth. Said another way, our thoughts determine the reality we experience. Not the other way around!
Think about the consequences of such an extraordinary revelation: the outside world does not determine our experience. Rather, our thoughts dictate our experience. We have been so conditioned to believe that things happen “out there”, and consequently our sense of well-being or happiness is based on whether those things that “happened” are what we would label as good or bad. Instead, our thoughts directly lead to our experience of joy or sadness.
This concept is so difficult to accept for two basic reasons. First, our senses belie the true nature of perception. It seems as if we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste external stimuli from which we can decree reality. That’s why many people have such a hard time with any sort of mystic or psychic notions – it completely defies what they’ve been conditioned to believe regarding the nature of substantive reality. If I can’t see it or touch it, it must not be real – so the cynic in all of us implores.
The second motive behind it being so hard to accept the concept that thinking makes reality so is that this framework puts the responsibility for our peace (or lack thereof) squarely on our shoulders. It is far, far easier to blame the outside world for our misery and discontent. The last thing we want to consider is that we are actually the one responsible for our state of wellbeing.
But once we begin to accept that truth, the liberating corollary is that if we want to be truly happy, all we need to do is change our mind. We don’t need other people to change their nature. We don’t need external situations to reach some sort of pre-defined resolution. We don’t need the external world to bend to our wishes.
As a man thinketh, so does he perceive. Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world. (T-21.in.1)
Thus, we have within us – at every instant – the opportunity to exchange misery for bliss, consequence for certainty, and victimhood for salvation. Our thoughts determine our nature.
To be, or not to be. That is the question. Our thoughts determine our reality, and perception is nothing more than a result of our thoughts.
Projection makes perception. The world you see is what you gave it, nothing more than that. (T-21.in.1)
Let us heed the incredible insights of the Prince of Denmark and transform his tragedy into our triumph.