The Shadow Figures

This Shakespearean sonnet is about how past judgments overshadow the reality of the present moment.

The shadow figures from the distant past
Arise like ghosts before our sleeping eyes;
And what we see is not the truth, at last,
But guilty people whom we still despise.

We never see what’s right before our face,
For we decide to judge according to
What we went through within a former place
And block out present sights with what we knew.

To see the world with open, guiltless eyes,
We need to let the past go from our mind;
But if the past continues to arise,
A world of ghosts is all that we will find.

Until past judgments fully dissipate,
We will not see, but just hallucinate.

(written January 2020)

Each one peoples his world with figures from his individual past, and it is because of this that private worlds do differ…. Again and again have men attacked each other because they saw in the other a shadow figure in their private world. And thus it is that you must attack yourself first, for what you attack is not in others. Its only reality is in your own mind, and by attacking others, you are literally attacking what is not there. The delusional can be very destructive, for they do not recognize they have condemned themselves. They do not wish to die, yet they will not let condemnation go. And so they separate into their private worlds, where everything is disordered and where what is within appears to be without. Yet what is within they do not see, for the reality of their brothers they cannot see. (A Course in Miracles: Complete and Annotated Edition, pp. 432-433)

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