What do you associate with the word “God”? Since the brain functions spatially, most of us cannot help but visualizing some kind of image. And more often than not, this image is sort of hominoid. For several millennia, God has been pictured as a giant omnipotent king who perceives and judges every single act in the universe. The French philosopher Voltaire once remarked: “God made man in his own image, and then man returned the favor.” Even if you don’t picture something anthropomorphic, there’s still bound to be some cosmic image of stars or light. In A Course in Miracles, Jesus tells us that “You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognize.” (T-18.VIII.1:7)
This need to visualize something externally is the problem, Jesus would say. By attempting to construe any image of God, we are really attempting to bring God into this illusory world of time and space. This is not the way to reach God. The metaphysical foundation of A Course in Miracles is that nonduality (“not-two”) is the only reality. Everything we perceive in time and space is an illusion the seemingly sleeping Son of God made up as a means to hide from a perceived vengeful Creator, intent on punishing us for our savage sin of leaving Him. To be sure, even in A Course in Miracles God is often depicted as some being Who is “lonely without His children” (T-2.III.5:11), Who gives us the Holy Spirit to bring us back Home (T-5.II.2:5), and Who even has tear ducts since He apparently weeps for His children (T-5.VII.4:5).
However, as Kenneth Wapnick remarked, this must be seen as the pedagogical wisdom of Jesus, who needs to meet his students where they believe they are, that is, in the world of time and space. To motivate us, Jesus needs to use the language that we are capable of understanding now. As we progress, we will be able to understand truth more and more: “A miracle (i.e., an expression of love) […] must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear. This does not necessarily mean that this is the highest level of communication of which he is capable. It does mean, however, that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable now.” (T-2.IV.5:3) So Jesus uses symbols and metaphors that we can recognize in our current state of mind. It would be a mistake, however, to take these symbols as literal truth only because of our mind conditioning of the past millennia.
So what is God, then, and why would we make a punishing image of our Creator if we profess that we love Him? Well, to answer the first question, we are invited in A Course in Miracles to accept an entirely different image of our own self. The one-line summary of this message is: “God is but love, and therefore so am I.” (cf. W-pI.177) In chapter 28 we read: “This world was over long ago. The thoughts that made it are no longer in the mind that thought of them and loved them for a little while.” (T-28.I.1:6). Although our brains cannot really picture a state without form or concept, this is exactly Jesus’ message: you and I are a holographic part of the same pure spirit that abides eternally and changelessly in God, who is literally love, and only love. The world you and I think we can achieve meaningful things in such as saving the climate, is only an “afterimage” (Ken Wapnick’s term) of the time-space dream that is already over. Once we embrace our true Identity as spirit of pure Love, this entire dream world of time and space will simply vanish, forever to be forgotten in eternity, since it never really existed anyway.
Many can at least intellectually follow such reasoning to some degree, especially if you’re into spirituality or quantum physics. At the same time, this is the source of our deepest fear: to disappear entirely as an individual. “You think you would be helpless in God’s Presence, and you would save yourself from His Love because you think it would crush you into nothingness. You are afraid it would sweep you away from yourself and make you little. … You think you have made a world God would destroy; and by loving Him, which you do, you would throw this world away, which you would. … And it is this that frightens you.“ (T-13.III.4:1) I know I often quote this line, and I think it cannot be repeated too often. It is this realization that our ego feverishly attempts to hide from the mind, for this heralds the end of the ego itself, with which we identify so fervently.
The ego part of our mind obviously shrieks that a state of pure spirit without time and space is preposterous. And we should never underestimate the vicious cleverness of the ego. After all, the ego reasons: “Isn’t it foolhardy to be in denial of the pain you constantly experience within you and without you? You can paint pink scenes of blissfulness, but in the end you inevitably deteriorate and die. Oh, and before that, you’re gonna experience a load of loneliness, doubts and fears, no matter how diligently you try to hide your head in the sand. And this ‘God’ of yours won’t help you here. He’ll judge you when you die, but don’t expect any salvation from him. Ha!” Indeed, as long as we identify with our body, this seems a veritable description of life. However, once we experience the inner peace of our expressions of love (i..e, miracles), we’ll have more and more moments in which we realize that we are not a body. We are spirit. “God is but love, and therefore so am I.”
Try to lighten the load in your mind about all the little worries in your life. It doesn’t matter if you are delayed in a traffic jam. It doesn’t matter if people seem to treat you unfairly. It doesn’t matter if the stock market plummets. It doesn’t matter if your partner leaves you. It doesn’t matter that your body decays and dies. You’ve probably gone through hundreds or thousands of lives (incarnations) of such fleeting, changing experiences. None of these matter for salvation. What matters is forgiveness — of your brother, and therefore ultimately of yourself, since everything around you is a projection of a part of you. Realize that you experience yourself in this world, but you are not of it. Learn to forgive where you used to condemn. Become a happy learner of the Holy Spirit, and you’ll experience the reflection of God’s law of love in this world. “The teachers of God have trust in the world, because they have learned it is not governed by the laws the world made up. It is governed by a power that is in them but not of them.” (M-4.I.1:4). This is the power of Love (= God = nonduality), in which you and I are already at Home, even though we are usually not aware of that.
Accept the help of the Holy Spirit to make you fully aware of this shabby substitute for Love that we made, and allow him to change his mind for you. God (= Love) will dawn on your mind. At the end of your journey of awakening, Jesus assures us that “Together we will disappear into the Presence beyond the veil, not to be lost but found; not to be seen, but known” (T-19.IV-D.19:1). Please do take your time for this learning process. Patience is an important characteristic of a teacher of God. As we read in lesson 184: “It would indeed be strange if you were asked to go beyond all symbols of the world, forgetting them forever; yet were asked to take a teaching function. You have need to use the symbols of the world a while. But be you not deceived by them as well. They do not stand for anything at all, and in your practicing it is this thought that will release you from them. They become but means by which you can communicate in ways the world can understand, but which you recognize is not the unity where true communication can be found.
Thus what you need are intervals each day in which the learning of the world becomes a transitory phase; a prison house from which you go into the sunlight and forget the darkness. Here you understand the Word, the Name which God has given you; the one Identity which all things share; the one acknowledgment of what is true. And then step back to darkness, not because you think it real, but only to proclaim its unreality in terms which still have meaning in the world that darkness rules. Use all the little names and symbols which delineate the world of darkness. Yet accept them not as your reality. The Holy Spirit uses all of them, but He does not forget creation has one Name, one meaning, and a single Source which unifies all things within Itself. Use all the names the world bestows on them but for convenience, yet do not forget they share the Name of God along with you. God has no name. And yet His Name (i.e., expressing Love) becomes the final lesson that all things are one, and at this lesson does all learning end.” (W-pI.184)
Also see my seven “guidelines for living in an illusory world” in “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com: