The world is an illusion. W-pI.155.2
I am always amazed at how often the comment “the world is an illusion” comes up when chatting to A Course in Miracle students. There is usually some laughter after this comment. Often it is a knowing laugh – knowing that if we really get that the world is unreal then that is all that we need. Sometimes it can be an uneasy laugh because we know we are not ready for that insight – it is to threatening to embrace. Maybe we think that repeating the statement like an affirmation will be useful without realizing that we need to bring our belief that the world is real to the Truth that “the world is an illusion”. Lets face it – if we really knew this world was an illusion it would be obvious to everyone without us having to make any statement to the effect.
What are the practical implications of the statement that the world is unreal or an illusion? What are the subtle and non so subtle ways that we make the world real? Why do we want to make the world real?
I only recently realized that I was making the world real by holding onto the belief that I was born into a body! A Course in Miracle teaches that believing I am spirit or soul that is born into a body is impossible as they are mutually exclusive states! I thought I was progressing because I found the idea of reincarnation helpful and I thought this was a correction of the belief that we have only one lifetime. But my insight was only a stepping stone because I was subtly making the body real by believing that spirit reincarnated! I did not see that incarnation and reincarnation were the same mistake.
It is a difficult and key distinction to see that spirit and matter have no real connection. I think we need to start at the begining – with the creation of the world. There can be really no doubt that A Course in Miracles teaches that God did not create the physical universe:
There is no world! This is the central thought the course attempts to teach. …How can a world of time and space exist, if you remain as God created you? …There is no world because it is a thought apart from God, and made to separate the Father and the Son, and break away a part of God Himself and thus destroy His Wholeness. Can a world which comes from this idea be real? Can it be anywhere? WpI.132
What is you recognized this world is an hallucination? What if you really understood you made it up? What if you realized that those who seem to walk about in it, to sin and die, attack and murder and destroy themselves, are wholly unreal. T-20.VIII.7:3-5
The world you see is an illusion of a world. God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself. C.4.1
Of this you can be wholly certain. God is as incapable of creating the perishable as the ego is of making the eternal. T-4.11:6,7
There is no life outside heaven. Where God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from heaven life is illusion.. T-23II.19.1,2
The argument that God did not make the world of perception but made the physical world holds no water unless you deny the above quotes.
Confusion sometimes arises when people who are attracted to ACIM bring with them Eastern metaphysical ideas of God dwelling in form or expressing himself through form – multiplicity. This is not what ACIM teaches. Our fear of the implications of the teaching that God did not create the physical universe makes us deny, change, forget or skip over what ACIM really says.
Remember that the motivation or purpose of the creation of the world is to keep our individual identity which is an attack on oneness.
The world was made as an attack on God W-pII.3.2:1
The ego’s fundamental wish is to replace God. In fact , the ego is the physical embodiment of that wish. W-pI.72.2:1-3
The world was made as an attack on God because the thought of separation is an attack on Oneness. The ego tells us we attacked God and won our independence and freedom at his expense. The world is an attack on God because we have made specialness to be a subsitute for God so that we will never have to consider depending on his undifferentiated sameness again.
Our resistance to intergrating the ideas that the physical is unreal is that most of us start and end our “lives” believing we are physical bodies. We bring spirit into illusion simply because we want to keep our identification with our separate individual selves. Awareness of our attachment to out bodies is helpful because otherwise we can be tempted to do a spiritual end run round ourselves and and believe we have got the workbook lesson “I am not a body I am as God created me” when we have done nothing of the sort.
This course can be summed up very simply in this way: Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God. T-int.2
Our attraction to A Course in Miracles as a spiritual path, that we truly want to follow, (rather than use to support our existing beliefs) is related to our unconscious knowing that God did not create the physical universe. I often have a deep chuckle within myself and a tingling all over when I remember that “nothing unreal exists”. Seeing the unreal as unreal gives the metaphysical direction to forgiveness. I do not forgive others for what they did to me because as spirit I am not really in the world. We cannot benefit from the unique contribution of ACIM and its potential to effect change in our lives if we make the world real by bringing God into it. Seeing God’s hand in this world is a way of forgetting that we created this world. Seeing inherent beauty in this world is a denial of the attack thought that gave rise to it.
Let’s consider the madness and insanity that is the “creative” force behind this illusory world. We made the world to escape from a terrible fear in our mind. As one deluded mind we had believed the ego version of what happened when “the tiny mad idea” seemed to occur. We believed that in considering the mad idea we destroyed oneness. Later the ego tells us God came back to life and is on the warpath for what we did to his love. We did not like the odds of taking on God in our minds because we knew it was a battle that we could not win so we fled in fear of our lives into the world.
The world is a perfect hiding place from punishment because we made up so many physical bodies onto which we could project the responsibility for our wrongdoing. We then forget we had a mind and so that we could not go back and reconsider our wrong choice. A dualistic God becomes the creator of the universe, made by us in our own image. The great thing about a creator God is that we can ultimately blame him for ending up here – denying all responsibility for our part in making separation real.
The job of the miracle is to get us back to our minds so that we can look at what we have accused ourselves of being responsible for. Accepting the miracle is not easy because of the sense of terror we experience we get back in touch with the belief of how we destroyed heaven. Surviving in this world seems to be a much better option that ever returning to our minds.
So Jesus is patient and emphasis the little steps we need to take so that we trust him enough to eventually take his hand to go through the circle of fear. Our little willingness to choose the miracle is our willingness to look with Jesus at the thought of attack, that created, and maintains this world, so that we can choose another purpose.