For many students, one of the most puzzling aspects of A Course in Miracles remains its nondualistic foundation upon which its entire curriculum rests. While we experience ourselves in time, studying and practicing the Course, hoping to become enlightened and find the lasting inner peace that we want so much, we are bluntly told (cf. lesson 132) that there is no world and, moreover, that we are all mad: “A madman thinks the world he sees is real, and does not doubt it.” (W-pI.132.1:5). So why would Jesus say we are living like madmen in a world, only to learn that there is no world?
In his Course, Jesus patiently explains why we are still firmly convinced there is a world, in which we believe we exist in space and time. Each instant we are conscious of, so he tells us, we are merely reliving the ontological moment of separation when terror took the place of love (T-26.V.13:1). This is the “unholy instant” just before the Big Bang so long ago, when the metaphorically pondering Son of God decided to try the ego’s idea of being autonomous, separate from oneness, apart from God. Since this could never happen in reality, it’s only an hallucination.
Still, this belief was powerful enough to ignite the Big Bang and dream up an entire universe of time and space, in which we seek to hide from the imagined vengeful wrath of God. In order to prevent the sleeping Son of God from changing His Mind to once again prefer Oneness, the ego makes sure the mind is constantly distracted by problems and threats. So that’s why we always have 99 problems to worry about. And in order to displace the guilt we all secretly feel about our decision to renounce God, we are constantly on the lookout to find guilt in others. That’s why we always chortle in glee whenever we find convincing reasons to point fingers at all the ‘evil-doers’ in the world: this means God will let us off the hook when we die.
Lesson 132 and Chapter 26 shed some wonderful light on what is really going on in the mind, and what the way out of this hell looks like. Let’s look at some representative passages. In workbook lesson 132, Jesus summarizes what all of us firmly believe: “Perhaps you think you did not make the world, but came unwillingly to what was made already, hardly waiting for your thoughts to give it meaning.” (W-pI.132.4:4). Ah, yes; we would all agree, wouldn’t we? But then he continues: “Yet in truth you found exactly what you looked for when you came.” So what is it what we looked for? A place to bury and distract our mind from the Oneness love of God, in a state of almost infinite fragmentation, providing us with ample separated scapegoats to project our own perceived guilt on.
“You have enslaved the world with all your fears, your doubts and miseries, your pain and tears; and all your sorrows press on it, and keep the world a prisoner to your beliefs [i.e., that the separation from perfect oneness has indeed been accomplished].” (W-pI.132.3:4). Why would we want to make up such a hell, when we all profess we want lasting inner peace? This is because we want peace on our own terms. We want to be enlightened as a separated individual, and we want God to approve of that. Since our awareness of real Oneness Love would instantly pull the ego out of business, we crave to maintain the illusion of separation. And so we prefer to see a world that clearly continues to prove that the ontological moment of separation did indeed happen.
Now we can better understand what Jesus means when he says that “time is a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast illusion” (W-pI.158.4:1), made to provide ongoing support for our belief in unique, special, separated individuality: each instant that we still prefer to be separated, we but relive that ontological moment 14 billion years ago of choosing to believe in the ego, that instant when terror (i.e., the shattering of perfect oneness) took the place of Love (God, Oneness, perfection). So while we perceive time as something linear, its true nature is holographic: each interval of time contains the whole of the separation nightmare; and each time we choose to condemn someone or something we but relive that original choice.
This is why Jesus teaches as follows: “Belief is powerful indeed. The thoughts you hold are mighty, and illusions are as strong in their effects as is the truth.” (W-pI.132.1:3-4). So, while Jesus clearly states that “There is no world! This is the central thought the course attempts to teach” (W-pI.132.6:2-3), he adds that “There is no world apart from what you wish. […] Change but your mind on what you want to see, and all the world must change accordingly.” (W-pI.132.5:1-2). Jesus is of course speaking of forgiveness, the choice to see sameness instead of separated differences. Forgiveness is the one illusion that undoes the ongoing need for still more time.
Forgiveness (or the miracle, the mechanism and the effect of forgiveness) is the choice to follow the Teacher of Love instead of the teacher of sin, guilt and fear. In the Course, this Teacher is called the Holy Spirit, Who is defined as “The Voice for Love”, that is, the Oneness Love that is God. We could also say that forgiveness is the choice to prefer nonduality (eternity, oneness) to duality (the dream world of separation). Jesus reminds us that from the perspective of nonduality (a synonym for “truth”), the dream world of separation never really happened: “Time lasted but an instant in your mind, with no effect upon eternity. And so is all time past, and everything exactly as it was before the way to nothingness was made.” (T-26.V.3:3-4).
Elaborating on the perspective of eternal oneness, Jesus continues his mind-blowing unmasking of the ego’s “vast illusion” of time: “The tiny tick of time in which the first mistake was made, and all of them (i.e., all our condemnations) within that one mistake, held also the Correction for that One [i.e., the miracle], and all of them that came within the first. And in that tiny instant time was gone, for that was all it ever was. […] The tiny instant you would keep and make eternal [for 14 billion years now!], passed away in Heaven too soon for anything to notice it had come. […] Only in the past did this world appear to rise. So very long ago, for such a tiny interval of time, that not one note in Heaven’s song was missed.” (T-26.V.3:5-5:4)
The core of Jesus’ message in A Course in Miracles is that we are, right now, already safe at Home in the Heart of God (eternal Love). The only reason we stubbornly keep making time is because we still prefer unique autonomous individuality to oneness, no matter how much pain we often perceive amidst our efforts to achieve happiness. Jesus’ formidable task, then, is to convince us that ultimately we want oneness, not individuality. Since the dream of time is already over in reality (in fact, never really happened), we have actually already made this choice. We think we are still caught in the web of the nightmare of time and space, but A Course in Miracles shows us the way out, that is: practicing forgiveness by choosing to follow the Voice for Love instead of the teacher of condemnation. In short: be kind instead of hateful!
It is such a great comfort to read in A Course in Miracles that we need not do this on our own: “To you who still believe you live in time and know not it is gone, the Holy Spirit still guides you through the infinitely small and senseless maze you still perceive in time, though it has long since gone. You think you live in what is past. Each thing you look upon you saw but for an instant, long ago, before its unreality gave way to truth. Not one illusion still remains unanswered in your mind. Uncertainty [duality] was brought to certainty [nonduality] so long ago that it is hard indeed to hold it to your heart, as if it were before you still.” (T-26.V.4).
Yet this is what we all still stubbornly do as long as we still cherish our special, unique individual autonomous little self. A Course in Miracles teaches me that whenever I feel sadness, fear, anxiety, irritation, frustration or outright anger (really all the same emotion, the negation of peace) I can stop myself and realize this is silly. Such emotions only serve to keep the belief in separation intact. That’s not a sin, but it is a silly mistake that will only bring me more misery. Realizing that time is already over, before I let my behavior slide downhill, I can ask a much better question: “What would love do in this situation?” The answer, gratefully provided by the Holy Spirit through an intuitive impulse, will bring me (and the other!) the inner peace I want so much. This way I not only release my own mind from pain, I release the entire illusory world. So why wait for Heaven? Practice kindness and mindfulness right now, for now is the only time there is.
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 my Feb. 2020 Course workshop on YouTube called “A kingdom to rule” (English captions/subtitles available).
Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.