Waking up in a dream world

When we dream at night, the wildest things can seem to happen. And while we experience ourselves in the dream, we usually do not doubt its reality. Scenes may abruptly shift from one place to another; people and creatures may pop up unexpectedly; and situations and happenings seem to come to us unbidden. We can experience ourselves as the hero of the dream, or as an innocent victim being chased or tossed about without any control. In some dreams we might even experience ourselves as the perpetrator, the murderer. The purpose of all this, or so psychologists would briefly summarize, is to be able to process repressed emotions that we installed in the unconscious part of the mind.

When we wake up in the morning we may or may not remember what we had been dreaming that night. When we do remember, regardless of whether the dream was pleasant or frightful, we remind ourselves that it was only a dream, having nothing to do with reality. We smile about the various impossible events that had seemingly occurred. Conversely, we do not even remotely doubt the reality of the world we just woke up to. We’re glad we found ourselves awake, safe and well in our own bedroom, and we prepare for another day in the world of time and space we call our life.

One of the great surprises that A Course in Miracles as a spiritual curriculum offers its readers, is the notion that what we call reality, is nothing more than just another form of dreaming. As we read in chapter 18 of the text: “What you seem to wake to is but another form of this same world you see in dreams. All your time is spent in dreaming. Your sleeping and your waking dreams have different forms, and that is all. Their content is the same.” (T-18.II.5:12-14). Thus, Jesus concludes in workbook part II:  “There is no world! This is the central thought the Course attempts to teach.” (W-pI.132.6:2).

People with a background in quantum physics can perhaps subscribe to this mind-boggling idea that ‘all our time is spent in dreaming’, as they also pose the fundamental theorem that time and space are ultimately unreal. For the vast majority of us, though, this notion is very, very hard to accept. If the world I work, eat, sleep and live in is merely a dream, why would I choose to be in such a situation, and how would I be able to wake up? And to what? In A Course in Miracles, Jesus asserts that not only is this material world a dream, we deliberately chose it and still choose it, because we want to be the God of our own universe: “Dreams are perceptual temper tantrums in which you literally scream, “I want it thus!” And thus it seems to be. […] Dreams show you that you have the power to make a world as you would have it be, and that because you want it, you see it. And while you see it, you do not doubt that it is real. […]  [Dreams] are your protest against reality, [they are] your fixed and insane idea that you can change it.” (T-18.II.4:1;5:1;6:3)

One of the main thrusts of A Course in Miracles is to bring the realization to our full awareness — slowly and gently — that each of us is keeping himself willingly in a nightmare because we believe we can usurp the throne of our Creator, and be the God of the universe ourselves. This is the fundamental characteristic of the thought we call the ego. It is the root cause of what we call the Big Bang, which set into motion the dream world of time and space. And just as we are perfectly capable of awakening from a nightly dream, so too are we perfectly able to end this dream world of time and space: “You are at home in God, dreaming of exile but perfectly capable of awakening to reality. [But] Is it your decision to do so? […]” (T-10.I.2:1-2) As a pep talk, Jesus adds: “You will remember everything the instant you desire it wholly, for if to desire wholly is to create, you will have willed away the separation, returning your mind simultaneously to your Creator and your creations. Knowing Them you will have no wish to sleep, but only the desire to waken and be glad. Dreams will be impossible because you will want only truth, and being at last your will, it will be yours.” (T-10.I.2:4)

Jesus repeatedly tells his students that his Course is simple, at least in principle: “Nothing at all has happened but that you have put yourself to sleep and dreamed a dream in which you were an alien to yourself and but a part of someone else’s dream. The miracle does not awaken you but merely shows you who the dreamer is. […] The miracle establishes you dream a dream and that its content is not true. This is a crucial step in dealing with illusions.” (T-28.II.4:6-5:1;7:1). And in chapter 27: “The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself”. (T-27.VIII.10:1). In a sense, the entire curriculum of A Course in Miracles is a motivation training for giving up the dream world of time and space, and accepting instead the real world of cleansed perception; wholly forgiven, devoid of any condemnation.

Inherent in this approach is the necessity of dealing with the huge resistance that such a complete reversal of all our values and beliefs must include. In his Course, Jesus never forces his students to think or do anything, for how could the Voice for Love employ any form of attack? And although Jesus does urge his students to reconsider everything their material, body-centered house of cards rests on, he also explicitly and honestly discusses the resistance that we inevitably feel against choosing the real world. If you think you don’t resist Jesus’ plea (“after all, I do want his promise of lasting inner peace, joy and love, do I not?”) it is because you want it as an individual — in other words, you want to have your ego’s cake and eat it too. Unfortunately for the ego, accepting the real world (the gateway to Oneness) and maintaining the ego (the choice for separation) do not go well together.

You and I need not fear that we will be rudely awakened from this dream world, and abruptly hurled into our reality as the one Son of God. We will only awaken from the material dream world to reality once we accept it without any fear. Following Jesus’ guidance in this process of undoing fear turns your everyday life into a much gentler dream, however often we seem to stumble and fall. The fifth workbook review (after lesson 170) can be a particularly helpful consolation in this regard: “We recognize we are preparing for another phase of understanding [about our reality]. […] Our footsteps have not been unwavering, and doubts have made us walk uncertainly and slowly on the road this course sets forth. But now we hasten on, for we approach a greater certainty, a firmer purpose and a surer goal.” Jesus then presents us with this lovely prayer:

“Steady our feet, Father. Let our doubts be quiet and our holy minds be still, and speak to us. We have no words to give to You. We would but listen to Your Word, and make it ours. Lead our practicing as does a father lead a little child along a way he does not understand. Yet does he follow, sure that he is safe because his father leads the way for him. So do we bring our practicing to You. And if we stumble, You will raise us up. If we forget the way, we count upon Your sure remembering. We wander off, but You will not forget to call us back. Quicken our footsteps now, that we may walk with more certainty and quickly unto You. And we accept the Word You offer us to unify our practicing.”

See also my “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:


See also my Feb. 2018 Course workshop at www.youtube.com.

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

One thought on “Waking up in a dream world

  1. Thanks, Jan-Willem … my wife has difficult dreams and this writing may be a good help!!

    On Sat, Nov 3, 2018 at 2:42 AM Miracles or Murder wrote:

    > miraclesormurder posted: “When we dream at night, the wildest things can > seem to happen. And while we experience ourselves in the dream, we usually > do not doubt its reality. Scenes may abruptly shift from one place to > another; people and creatures may pop up unexpectedly; and situ” >


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