Excerpts from the Workshop held at the
Foundation for A Course in Miracles
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
The Ending of the Dream
(The Gifts of God, p. 119)
I want to move along now by looking at a passage in "The Gifts of God," the prose poem found in the back of the volume of Helen's poetry called The Gifts of God. This material was originally a series of messages that came over a period of several weeks to comfort her during a time when she was going through tremendous anxiety and stress. We will look at the section called The Ending of the Dream, which was written during the second or third day of this trying time. What precipitated these messages was basically a non-event that ended within a day, but the messages continued. I collected and kept them, for they appeared to be all one piece. After Helen died, they were published as a prose poem (written as prose, but in blank verse).
As I mentioned earlier, this is a wonderful summary of the entire Course. The part we are going to discuss now has to do with the two dreams we have been discussing. We begin with the first dream, the mind's dream. This portion specifically addresses the mistake that I discussed briefly at the very beginning: confusing the happy dream with something external. This helps explain and elaborate on the idea as to why we do this.
The Ending of the Dream, The Gifts of God, the bottom of page 119:
Illusions are made as substitutes for truth, for which no substitutes are possible.
This is a way of saying that the tiny, mad idea of being separate from God was an attempt on our part to substitute for truth, but there can be no substitute for truth, which means there was no separation.
Creator separate from creation was the first illusion, where all gifts of fear were born.
All of the expressions of fear that we have, and have ever had since the beginning, are born in that original thought that creation can separate from its Creator; that ideas can leave their source.
For now creation could not be like its Creator, Who could never leave what He Himself created part of Him.
In other words, creation is now separate. It is no longer a part of Living Oneness; it is apart from Living Oneness. [Pardon the play on words.] If the Creator "could never leave what He Himself created part of Him," then the separation never happened.
Now must there be a substitute for love, which cannot have an opposite in truth and, being all, can have no substitute.
In the Course, the substitute for love is the special relationship. The original special relationship, and indeed the only special relationship, is our relationship with the ego. That is the original dream, the secret dream, and in reality, that is the only dream. All of our seeming special relationships here with each other as bodies are simply fragmentary projections into form of the original and only special relationship. That is the original substitute for love.
So fear was made, and with it came the need for gifts to lend the substance to a dream in which there is no substance.
This is the dream of sin, guilt, and fear. Our sin was that we substituted for love, making our own version, thereby destroying it. We were overwhelmed with guilt and believed we deserved to be punished. That was the birth of fear. This is the basis of the world's dream. The world's dream gives substance, form, and specificity to the original belief that we can substitute for love. As a result, we become afraid of retribution from love. Now we have "the need for gifts to lend the substance to a dream in which there is no substance." The world seems to prove the separation happened, because we are all separate—our bodies tell us we are separate. That is the substance referred to.
Now the dream seems to have value, for its offerings appear as hope and strength and even love, if only for an instant.
This is our old friend, special love. We seem to have our needs met. We seem to have these moments of ecstasy, pleasure, and satisfaction where everything falls into place. Our needs are met, and once again, we have proven we are right and God is wrong. Remember, the purpose of the dream is to prove that we are right, separation is true, God is wrong, and oneness is a lie. The world's dream seems to witness to this. That is why we are so invested in making this world work, in making this world a spiritual place, in bringing A Course in Miracles and Jesus into the world so it will become a spiritual place. We are invested in all this because it would mean we exist. We cover over our guilt with a veil of spirituality: I am so holy and so spiritual because I am A Course in Miracles student, or a student and devotee of the Bible. I am such a loyal Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, or whatever, where the original vision very quickly deteriorates into form, ritual, and specialness.
They content the frightened dreamer for a little while . . .
Our special love dreams content us for a little while because they seem to work. What also contents us for a while are our special hate dreams where we love to hate, judge, find fault, and criticize. We feel so good when we have identified and then destroyed the enemy, whether we do it as a head of state declaring war on another country or group, or we do it as individuals where we declare war on people in our families, our circle of friends, our colleagues at work, and so on. This is when the special dreams, the world's dreams, seem to work, and they seem, at least for awhile, to make us happy.
Now here is the key:
. . . and let him not remember the first dream which gifts of fear but offer him again.
Our specialness gifts of fear in this world offer us the secret dream, but we do not remember it. What is the core of the secret dream? The core is that we get to keep our separation but someone else gets blamed for it. In the secret dream, that someone is God—God is the heavy. Once we project that out, we keep our separate existence as a body, and then all the other bodies in our lives—beginning with our parents and then others all the way through our lives—are responsible for us. They are the ones—and it does not matter who "they" are—they are the ones responsible. We get to keep our ego's cake of separation, eat it, and enjoy it, but everyone else will die from its poison. This one sentence gives us the purpose of the world.
The seeming solace of illusions' gifts [specialness] are now his armor and the sword he holds to save himself from waking.
What happens if I awaken? The dream is gone; my self is gone, and I am back with the God I never left. What tells me that I am not back with God? The secret dream. What protects the secret dream? The world's dreams of specialness. Remember, purpose is everything. The world's dreams, our tremendous investment in the body and every aspect of bodily life (physical and/or psychological), are all about protecting the secret dream, which protects us from recognizing the fact that we never left home, because the secret dream keeps us from looking at the Atonement thought in our mind that tells us nothing happened.
For before he could awaken, he would first be forced to call to mind the first dream once again.
Somewhere inside ourselves we recognize that the only way we can return home and awaken from this dream is to get back to that secret dream. We swore to the ego, to ourselves, that we would never do that, because if we look at that first dream with Jesus next to us, we will recognize there is no dream. It was all made up. It was nothing, and behind the nothingness of the ego is the shining light of the Atonement, and behind that is the Oneness of God. Accepting the shining light of the Atonement is the real world, not to be equated with the happy dream. The happy dreams are the stepping-stones toward the real world. They get us closer and closer to the Atonement. And as the Course says, we are in the real world but an instant, and then God reaches down and lifts us back unto Himself and everything is over (see T-17.II.4:4-5).
It is not God Who asks a price of him . . .
God does not believe in sacrifice. We do not have to suffer. We do not have to pay God back. Looking at the secret dream does not have to be painful.
. . . but having drawn a veil across the truth, he [all of us] now must let the veil be drawn away so that its lack of substance can be seen.
That is the happy dream. The happy dream is looking at the nightmare dream and realizing it is a dream. Do not confuse it with anything external. The world's dreams mask the secret dream. Jesus takes our experiences of the world's dreams—our bodily experiences and our special relationships—and uses them as a way of teaching us that they are but symbols and shadowy fragments of the secret dream. He brings us back within. That is what he does in this course. He just lifts the veil that the ego let fall between us and the mind so that we can look.
When you ask Jesus for help, that is what you are asking for—not for him to fix the dream or to make the dream better, and not to make you happier here in the illusion. You are asking him to help you lift the veil so you can look without fear at what the external dream is masking, which is the secret dream. When you look at that with his love beside you, you look beyond it to the light of the Atonement. But you cannot get to the light of the Atonement, recognizing that the separation never happened, without first looking at what you put there to conceal it. We are extremely terrified of that. That is why we need small steps. That is why we need the happy, gentle dreams that gradually, step by step, lead us from the state of mindlessness to the mind.