I recently saw the movie “Inception,” and it moved me in a profound way. To me, it wasn’t just a fictional movie about sleep and dreams and manipulating the subconscious, meant simply to entertain the mind for two hours at a movie theater on a hot summer night? This movie was much more than that. It was the visual representation of the spiritual journey that I’ve been on for the last 25 years.
The thought that I may be living in a dream world began when I became a student of A COURSE IN MIRACLES. You may have heard of this thought-provoking work, and, perhaps, you are aware that millions of people around the world have been students. But, did you know that it requires devotees to unlearn everything they’ve ever been taught during their entire lives? Yes, everything. Why would any curriculum demand this? And why would anyone even consider such an irrational notion?
Well, the Course asserts that what we think of as our reality—every human experience between our birth and death—is really an illusion, a dream that lasts our whole lives, unless we choose to wake-up. And, we can only awaken, if we realize that we are in a dream that has been perpetuated by certain untruths, which we must then unlearn, in order to wake-up and experience true reality.
Confused? I understand, hence 25 years of trying to wrap my mind around this possibility.
But, the funny thing is, it is the mind that creates the illusion, since our brain only allows us to compute and process perceptions and experiences within the confines of a third dimensional perspective. The paradox is that “what we think is what we create,” which produces a never-ending feedback loop that humanity has been trapped in, since the beginning of time as we know it.
The good news is that the soul is multi-dimensional and not controlled by the mind. This dichotomy creates a nagging question in the subconscious of every human—a seed of truth waiting to be discovered and through free-will choice nurtured into a new reality.
I discovered this seed when certain “truths” didn’t add up regarding God. For example, how could a God of infinite love, mercy and compassion be the same God that flooded the Earth and killed all living things except for those on an ark; turned people into salt pillars; chose one side over another in a “holy” war that sanctioned the killing of innocent people; and, without any mercy for aeons, cast his children into eternal hellfire for not living up to a standard of perfection. These contradictions made me question everything—a flood gate that once opened could never be closed again. And that’s when my soul led me to A Course in Miracles
What I liked about the Course was that it didn’t require me to quash my budding spiritual questions or relinquish my religion. As a matter of fact, in the preface it says, “Although Christian in statement, the Course deals with universal spiritual themes. It emphasizes that it is but one version of the universal curriculum. There are many others, this one differing from them only in form. They all lead to God in the end.”
And, as I mentioned in my book, Reunion on the Rainbow Bridge, I also like the way the authors explain how and why the multi-layered philosophy of perception (dreaming) and knowledge (awakening) is universal—how it can apply to me as a Christian and at the same time have profound meaning for a Hindu or Buddhist or Jew or any other spiritually-devoted person.
The Course’s premise is that knowledge is truth. Truth is the law of love, and it is unchangeable. It applies to everything God created. It is beyond learning. It has no opposite, no beginning, and no end.
Perception, on the other hand, is from the limited world of time and space. It is based only on interpretation of what is perceived with the mind and is founded in a deep, cellular belief of scarcity, loss, and separation. It is learned. And it is selective in its perceptual emphasis, unstable in its functioning, and inaccurate in its interpretations.
Therefore, two distinct thought systems arise out of knowledge and perception.
In the world of knowledge, no thoughts exist apart from God, which is love.
In the realm of perception, a belief in opposites, duality, and separation perpetuates continual conflict, especially with God. That is because what perception sees and hears is defined as real, and it permits into awareness only that which conforms to the desires of the perceiver. This world of illusion, however, needs constant defense precisely because it is not real. It is a dream.
When one is caught in a dream, assistance is needed to escape it because everything in one’s senses validates the reality of the dream. God has provided that escape. He is able to mediate between the two worlds because, although he knows the truth, he also recognizes the illusions without believing in them. His Holy Spirit helps us escape by teaching the process of reversing our thought and unlearning our misperceptions.
The world that we define as reality merely reflects our own internal frame of reference, which includes our dominant beliefs and emotions. We accomplish that by deciding what kind of world we want to see and projecting that world outside ourselves, making it the truth as we see it. We may ask why we would create a world where violence, war, hunger, homelessness, poverty, and disease exist. The answer to that question is that we don’t understand the omnipotent power of our own beliefs, fears, thoughts, feelings, and actions. For example, if we use perception to justify our anger, as a reason to attack or to withhold love, then we will see a world of evil, malice, destruction, and despair. We must, therefore, forgive ourselves of this mistake, not because we are being charitable, but because what we are seeing in the world is what we have created, which is not real. It is not God. It is not truth.
I particularly like what the Course says about forgiveness and sin. “Sin is defined as a ‘lack of love.’ Since love is all there is, sin in the sight of the Holy Spirit is a mistake to be corrected, rather than an evil to be punished. Our sense of inadequacy, weakness and incompletion comes from the strong investment in the ‘scarcity principle’ that governs the whole world of illusions. From that point of view, we seek in others what we feel is wanting in ourselves.
The Course explains, “We ‘love’ another in order to get something ourselves. [This] is what passes for love in the dream world. There can be no greater mistake than that, for love is incapable of asking for anything.” Furthermore, the Course continues, the perceived self “seeks to enhance itself by external approval, external possessions and external ‘love.’ The Self That God created needs nothing. It is forever complete, safe, loved, and loving. It seeks to share rather than to get; to extend rather than project. It has no needs and [only] wants to join with others out of their mutual awareness of abundance.”
To further illustrate the principle of living in an illusion, the Course explains that “Perception is a function of the body, and therefore represents a limit on awareness. Perception sees through the body’s eyes and hears through body’s ears.
The opposite of seeing through the body’s eyes is the vision of Christ, which reflects strength rather than weakness, unity rather than separation, and love rather than fear. The opposite of hearing through the body’s ears is communication through the Voice of God, the Holy Spirit, which abides in each of us. His Voice seems distant and difficult to hear because the ego, which speaks for the little, separated self, seems to be much louder. This is actually reversed. The Holy Spirit speaks with unmistakable clarity and overwhelming appeal.
Christ’s vision [therefore] is the Holy Spirit’s gift–God’s alternative to the illusion of separation and to the belief in the reality of sin, guilt and death. . .Its kindly light shows all things from another point of view, reflecting the thought system that arises from knowledge and making [a] return to God not only possible, but inevitable.”
You see, that’s why I want to awaken. The world I choose to live in is the biblical Promise Land that God lovingly offers to his children—an exodus from the shackles of oppressive non-truth and a journey to the metaphorical land of milk and honey, where there is no lack, only abundance—only love. And, although I currently have just one foot firmly planted in the real world, the other foot is already halfway there, as I continue my studies. In the meantime, I wanted to share this perspective and this good news with you.
And, one last thought, everything written in this blog post about the Course has come solely from the preface of the book. So, you can imagine the immense knowledge packed within its 500 pages. It simply takes that much time to explain the dream world—the illusion. I was enthralled with its chapters about the origins of separation, the message of the crucifixion, obstacles to peace and the meaning of atonement (at-one-ment). It truly opened my eyes, expanded my heart, silenced the mind and awakened me.
It’s a book of extraordinary wisdom that has taken me years to comprehend, and I still have a long way to go—it’s arduous to unlearn everything. But it’s a journey of joy, and I’m learning what I need to learn exactly when I am capable of learning it, especially when combined with other divine works that contain God’s truth. As it says in Chapter 1, “All miracles mean life, and God is the Giver of life. His Voice will direct you very specifically. You will be told all you need to know.”
Amen to that!