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Almost all of the world’s religions contain a story or myth that seeks to describe the origin of the world and our purpose in being here. Down through the ages, the myth has been an instructive tool for expressing experiences that often seem to be beyond more objective description. A Course in Miracles too has a mythic framework, which attempts to render understandable what can never be truly understood.
The Course reflects the story of how a part of the Son of God fell asleep and, believing he had a will that could oppose the Will of God, dreamed that he could separate from his Creator and usurp the throne of creation. Yet, the truth remains that we “are at home in God, dreaming of exile but perfectly capable of awakening to reality” (T-10.I.2:1). It was our failure to awaken from the dream of rebellion that set into motion the cosmic drama that culminated in the making of the physical universe. Furthermore, it is our ongoing failure to awaken from our individual dreams that compels us to repeat this “drama” of separation in each and every aspect of our dreaming in this world. Forgiveness becomes the means that the Holy Spirit, God’s Answer to the separation, uses to correct the Son’s misthought and reunite the fragmented Sonship.
The present book is a discussion of the basic principles of A Course in Miracles. It is based on Gloria’s experience, discussed in the Authors’ Notes, which fleshes out the mythic framework of the Course. The myth presents the experience of the pre- and post-separation states, the psychological events that led to the making of the world, and the ultimate acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s message which awakens the Sonship from its dream of separation and returns it Home.
Excerpted from Awaken from the Dream
Near the end of Chapter 27 we read: “Let them be as hateful and as vicious as they may, they could have no effect on you unless you failed to recognize it is your dream” (T-27.VIII.10:6). Even if the figures in the dream that is your life are hatefully vicious, the only way they can have an effect on you is if you have forgotten this is your dream. When you realize it, how can it bother you? When you are asleep at night, having a terrible dream yet are a lucid dreamer, which means while still asleep you know you are dreaming, you will not be afraid because you know it is all happening in a dream. And so Jesus is helping us become lucid dreamers in the waking dreams we call life.
While we believe we are here, Jesus wants us to be aware that our lives are taking place within a dream. “Let them be as hateful and as vicious as they may, they can have no effect on you unless you failed to recognize it is your dream.” When you let the world diminish you, infuriate you, get you down, or cause you to become depressed and despairing, it is only because you forgot this is a dream. If you are in any state of disquiet, you must have wanted it because it is your dream, your secret wish. Recall that perception is the mind’s wish projected out. This puts full responsibility on us for everything we feel. We usually cannot stop others from attacking us, physically or verbally, anymore than we can stop the radiating and polluting of the atmosphere, water, and soil, but that is only on the level of the dream. If we are not in the dream, what difference does any of this make? As Jesus says of the miracle: “The miracle establishes you dream a dream, and that its content is not true” (T-28.II.7:1).
Think of the movie The Matrix. If you are not in the matrix, what goes on in it does not hurt you, which means you are not justified in blaming anyone or anything for what you feel. It is your dream. A major illusion of the world is that bodies feel. But how can that be? A puppet does not feel anything. Feelings are projected thoughts from the mind, and there are only two constellations of thoughts: guilt and fear, forgiveness and love. What the body feels has been given it to feel by the mind, which means it is the mind that is the problem if you do not like what you are feeling. Our experience to the contrary, bodies lie. 2+2=4 only in the dream. If someone hits you and your arm gets black and blue, it is not because the person hit you. It is black and blue because you chose to be in a body under the body’s laws that dictate if someone punches you in the arm, you will get black and blue. So your arm is sore, and in your insanity, you will think someone did that to you, which is perfectly true within the dream. But why do you want to give reality to a dream? That is the question we always need to ask ourselves, preferably before we act.
Excerpted from When 2 + 2 = 5
A Course in Miracles states that “Knowledge is not the motivation for learning this course. Peace is” (T‑8.I.1:1-2). In other words, the Course’s goal is not the state of Heaven, where only knowledge abides. Rather, its goal is to have us live in this world, our minds transformed into a state of pure forgiveness which translates into an experience of total peace. This transformation is the attainment of what A Course in Miracles refers to as “the real world.”
Practicing this Course therefore does not lead to avoiding or departing this physical world, and the Course offers these consoling words to those who have this concern:
Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition (T-16.VI.8:1-2).
Instead, A Course in Miracles urges us to live in this physical world, but to do so with a completely transformed perspective of reality. This is the vision of Christ that contains only holy thoughts of the oneness of God’s Son.
When you have looked on what seemed terrifying, and seen it change to sights of loveliness and peace; when you have looked on scenes of violence and death, and watched them change to quiet views of gardens under open skies, with clear, life-giving water running happily beside them in dancing brooks that never waste away; who need persuade you to accept the gift of vision? And after vision, who is there who could refuse what must come after? Think but an instant just on this; you can behold the holiness God gave His Son. And never need you think that there is something else for you to see (T-20.VIII.11).
The real world is actually accepting the Holy Spirit’s happy dreams instead of the nightmares of the ego:
Accept the dream He gave instead of yours. … Rest in the Holy Spirit, and allow His gentle dreams to take the place of those you dreamed in terror and in fear of death. He brings forgiving dreams, in which the choice is not who is the murderer and who shall be the victim. In the dreams He brings there is no murder and there is no death. The dream of guilt is fading from your sight, although your eyes are closed. A smile has come to lighten up your sleeping face. The sleep is peaceful now, for these are happy dreams (T‑27.VII.14:1,3-8).
The real world too is illusory, for it corrects what never happened. Yet it is the one illusion that leads beyond them all.
Excerpted from Awaken from the Dream
Do not oppose. … Love, our true state, can never oppose. Love simply is, and there can be no opposite. What appears as opposite is unreal, and therefore insane. Do not believe in what does not exist.
Not seeing attack but only the call for love that is born of fear, Jesus could only love and call us to remember who we were, as in these words from A Course in Miracles:
Child of God, you were created to create the good, the beautiful and the holy. Do not forget this. The Love of God, for a little while, must still be expressed through one body to another, because vision is still so dim (T-1.VII. 2:1‑3).
Jesus’ body was such a vehicle for us all. In a passage written at Christmas he said:
The Prince of Peace was born to re-establish the condition of love by teaching that communication remains unbroken even if the body is destroyed. … The lesson I was born to teach, and still would teach to all my brothers, is that sacrifice is nowhere and love is everywhere (T‑15.XI.7:2,5).
Elsewhere, he exhorts us:
Teach not that I died in vain. Teach rather that I did not die by demonstrating that I live in you (T-11.VI.7:3-4).
Therefore in each and every circumstance when we feel tempted to “perceive ourselves unfairly treated” by the world, when we feel justified in not only being angry, but on a deeper level justified in believing that we deserve unfair treatment because of our unfair treatment of God and Christ, Jesus asks us to remember his teaching lesson and his love. We are not asked to replicate the form of Jesus’ lesson of non-opposition, but we are asked to model ourselves after its meaning and demonstrate that he lives in us through our forgiveness: loving all people as he loved all people.
Jesus’ love for us is the Love of God for what He created. Our acceptance of that love awakens us from our dream of betrayal and returns to God the Son who never truly left his Father’s House. That love need not be specifically identified with Jesus for us to awaken from the dream, but his example of forgiveness needs to be lived by us if the nightmare is to end. The message of the Light group not to make the error real was repeated from the Cross and echoes once again in A Course in Miracles. The hope of peace in the world lies in our acceptance of this message, with no reservation and no exception.
Jesus has brought to our weary eyes a “vision of a different world, so new and clean and fresh” (T‑31.VIII.8:4) that to look at the dream-world we have made through this vision cannot but bring tears of joy that we were wrong and God was right. How gladly now we pay the “price” of sacrificing our world for His; a world of murder, terror, and hatred exchanged for the real world of joy, love, and peace! How grateful we have become that the nightmare was a dream, and that we were never left alone but have been gently awakened by the Voice for Love! And how our hearts soar in joyful thanksgiving that we can return at last with all of Christ as one! Together now as one Son our voices unite in one Voice, joined in a grateful chorus of love, from love to Love:
Let us go out and meet the newborn world, knowing that Christ has been reborn in it, and that the holiness of this rebirth will last forever. We had lost our way but He has found it for us. Let us go and bid Him welcome Who returns to us to celebrate salvation and the end of all we thought we made. The morning star of this new day looks on a different world where God is welcomed and His Son with Him. We who complete Him offer thanks to Him, as He gives thanks to us. The Son is still, and in the quiet God has given him enters his home and is at peace at last (C-ep.5).
Excerpted from Awaken from the Dream
Q: You said you could revolt, but implicit in the word revolt is against. How do you go to war and right-mindedly knock people off?
A: No, you go to war and you do not knock people off. You can go to war and know you are not in the dream. That is an extreme example, to be sure; but you do it because, in a sense, that is the classroom you are in for whatever reason. Most people would agree that lovingly telling a white lie to a little child is appropriate, while killing people with an Uzi machine gun would not be. Yet they seem different only because people think the body is real and that there is a hierarchy of illusions. When you tell a white lie to a child or to anyone else, the intention can be loving. Why can’t you go to war and still have the intention of being loving? In principle, you could shoot a gun without doing it in a spirit of anger or glee. But—you can go to war right-mindedly only when your mind is healed.
Generally speaking, we cannot avoid killing living things in our world. The idea is not to do it out of hate or fear. There is no right or wrong way, but it is possible to live one’s life without intentionally trying to hurt anyone or anything. It is also possible that a person could be in a right-minded state and not kill a spider, for instance, or be in a right-minded state and kill it. There is no right or wrong behavior, only right- and wrong-minded thoughts. What makes A Course in Miracles so difficult is that it is totally radical. Radical means “root,” going to the root of something. The root of the ego’s world is 1+1=2, manifested by seeing yourself as separate from someone, whether it is a spider, an enemy on a battlefield, or a person you live or work with. That misperception is the problem. What you do behaviorally once you realize that 1+1=1 does not matter. You just want to be clear that you do not believe 1+1=2.
There is something amiss, though, if you feel guilty about killing a spider, but you do not feel guilty about killing a person psychologically—family, friend, or public figure. People often have issues around this. I remember someone at our Center in New York talking about how upset he got when he saw someone killing bugs, because the bugs were living things to him. He had no compunction at all, though, about judging or using others for his own needs. This shows that something is not right, because if you truly care about the spider, you will also care about everything else you think is alive—animal and vegetable—no matter where it is on the so-called chain of being. Making distinctions shows that something is wrong in what you are doing. This is helpful information to have, because very often strong feelings about not killing a spider are accompanied by anger toward people who do kill them. It is difficult to take a position like that without somehow judging people who do not practice what you do. Thus you are saying that there is something holy about a spider, but not so holy about a person who kills them. And so the Sonship has been fragmented and the Wholeness of Christ destroyed.
Excerpted from When 2 + 2 = 5
Q: What is the view of A Course in Miracles on black magic/voodoo? Specifically the belief that another can harm you through the use of black magic. Can another control or guide your thought to cause you physical harm?
A: Jesus tells us in the text: “If you will recognize that all the attack you perceive is in your own mind and nowhere else, you will at last have placed its source, and where it begins it must end. For in this same place also lies salvation” (T-12.III.10:1-2). This is the foundation of the Course’s teaching on forgiveness and the answer to your question. No one can control or guide another’s thought to cause harm to the body. The mind that chooses to believe either the ego or the Holy Spirit is the only source of our experience in the dream. When the mind chooses to identify with the body, it attacks itself. The attack is a denial of the true identity of God’s Son as mind, and is therefore an attack on God. The inevitable guilt that follows this attack is projected on to the body. Identification with the body, which is alien to the mind’s natural condition as spirit, is the real source of all pain, anxiety, and every form of suffering that the body experiences.
The mind has filled the entire physical universe with weapons to defend the choice for separation, and convince itself that the body and the world are real. The arsenal includes both positive and negative external agents that have been given power over the body’s physical condition, and seem to have the ability to give peace or take it away. When the mind chooses to identify with the ego rather than the Holy Spirit, the choice is expressed by an “agreement” with something (germs, viruses, car accidents), or someone (doctors, voodoo masters, politicians) in the world of form to be the seeming cause of all types of physical, emotional, or psychological distress. That is the ego’s version of cause and effect, and is the magic principle as Jesus explains it in the Course: “The body cannot create, and the belief that it can, a fundamental error, produces all physical symptoms … The whole distortion that made magic rests on the belief that there is a creative ability in matter which the mind cannot control” (T-2.IV.2:6,8).
This means that neither black magic nor any negative experience can take our peace away, any more than a beautiful sunset can bring us peace. By the same token, when the mind chooses healing the choice may be reflected in the world through joining with a physician or other healer. The important thing to remember is that it is always the mind that chooses attack (the ego) or healing (the Holy Spirit).
Our learning begins with our willingness to recognize how much we believe in our identity as bodies and prefer the ego’s reversal of cause and effect, which supports our need to perceive ourselves as unfairly treated victims, rather than minds with the power to choose. The body was made to be vulnerable to attack. It gets sick, ages, decays and eventually dies. None of this matters nor has any effect on the mind’s true identity. One of the important goals in studying and practicing the principles of the Course in our lives is to learn to identify with the mind, rather than with the body. This learning is a process that takes time, and the willingness to bring everything in our lives, positive as well as negative, to the Holy Spirit to be transformed through forgiveness.
Excerpted from Q&A
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