This evergreen by Louis Armstrong, initially released in 1967 and covered by many artists since, invites us all to look only at the good things in life, and focus on the inherent love that is our desire beneath our superficial daily doings. It is often sung at spiritual events as well, where it is used as an affirmation to remind us of the beauty of life that is there for all of us, but for the choosing. All the ‘bad’ things and people that subsequently seem to cross our path are then at least not our fault, and we can continue to feel blissful about our advanced spiritual focus.
In A Course in Miracles, this world we experience ourselves in is depicted quite differently, namely as “…a dry and dusty place, where starved and thirsty creatures come to die” (W.pII.13.5:1). That’s hardly a wonderful world! Moreover, the Course’s workbook starts out by letting us know that nothing here means anything. What!? A Course in Miracles is one of the very few spiritualities that offer such a shocking view on the world and the material universe, and it is completely consistent about this stance throughout. So how could this be, if the goal of the Course is to attain a lasting state of unshakable inner peace, in the awareness that all life is one, and all the hurts in the world are illusory? This sounds somewhat contradictory, to say the least.
The explanation, of course, lies in the metaphysics that are the rock on which its message rests securely. When we say we want lasting inner peace, we usually mean we would like to experience that as a good healthy individual ego. A Course in Miracles brings us the most uncomfortable message that the entire ego, yea individuality whatsoever, is completely illusory, and even more so, the entire phenomenal universe and all our senses that behold it as well. The Course more or less equates the material world with hell, and summarizes the combined aspects of time and space as a hallucinatory nightmare. Why? Because the material universe is nothing but the imagined effect of the thought of separation from Oneness (God). The body, then, is nothing but a pitiful attempt to hide from the supposed wrath of the Creator over this ‘savage sin’, by splitting up in billions of fragments that now seem to have a life of their own. Jesus, in summary, is telling us that our seemingly individual autonomous personalities really do not exist in truth.
Now before you head for a deep depression about Jesus’ message (which would again be an ego tactic), hold on, and bear with him. A Course in Miracles would not be of much use if it stayed at that. There is, of course, a much better experience for us, one that reflects the truth of what we collectively are, namely the One Son of God (albeit seemingly asleep). The secret of salvation is but the realization that all the pain and misery in our lives come from choosing the wrong focus, or teacher, in the mind. As long as we focus on individuality, we continue to invite separation. It is only when we choose to step back and let the Voice for Love (i.e., he Holy Spirit) be the guide of our mind, that peace not only becomes possible but inevitable. This is because the Holy Spirit, through our choice for forgiveness, leads the mind back to the real world, the gateway to our true Home in the Heart of God.
We will, however, only make this choice for a better mind teacher once we fully realize the silliness of the “joke” of thinking we can actually exist, separated from God, in a material universe that was made as a place where He could enter not and we could be on our own. Our continuous wish to see separation is mirrored in how our physical senses work: “All idols of the world were made to keep the truth from being known to you, and to maintain allegiance to the dream that you must find what is outside yourself to be complete and happy. It is vain to worship idols in the hope of peace. God dwells within, and your completion lies in Him. […] Look not to idols. Do not seek outside yourself.” (T-29.VII.6).
So this is why A Course in Miracles is not your everyday spirituality that states that this world can be a place of love. It does promise that love can be a consistent experience in the mind, but only if we fully realize that the material world itself is merely illusory, and not at all what we want. Yet the Course does not ask us to deny our experiences in this ‘nightmare’ we seem to live in. Rather, it invites us to calmly and honestly look (in the mind) at what it is we choose to focus on each and every minute of the day, and then happily “choose again” to experience this world as a classroom for real spiritual growth, which ultimately leads us entirely out of the world, to real eternal peace. This final outcome, by the way, is not optional: in due time everyone will make the right choice, thereby ending the dream of time and space. It is solely up to us how long we still want to experience fear, pain, and death, before we finally choose the path of peace.
The world cannot be a wonderful world, if all things inevitably decay and die and pass away. The world cannot be wonderful as long as we perceive politicians and crooks whom we exclude from the light in us. The world only becomes wonderful once we realize, with gladness and in gratitude, that there is no world! (W-pI.132.6:2). Having chosen the Holy Spirit as the one guide to our thoughts, all the various competing forms the senses behold shift to the background, while we bring to the foreground the content of the light of Love we all share and are. And this is no idle wish; it is the way out of hell. “The body’s eyes will continue to see differences, […] but the healed mind will put them all in one category: they are unreal.” (M-8.6:1-5). Now we can forgive every unforgiving thought we hold in our own mind. Now we can see past all seeming differences. “Now can you say to everyone who comes to you in prayer with you: “I cannot go without you, for you are a part of me.” And so he is in truth.” (S-1.V.3:8-10).
To summarize: this world only becomes a ‘wonderful world’ once we realize that there is no material world, and that all life that we perceive around is us but a mirror of the mind. Perception can be guided either by the ego or the Holy Spirit. And it is entirely up to you and me which guide we choose; this power of choice is our one remaining freedom. And what a power it is! The world becomes wonderful once we choose to regard it solely as a classroom in which there is only love or calls for love, to which only one answer suffices: the answer the Holy Spirit gives us. And so Jesus says to us in the Song of Prayer pamphlet: “Hold out your hand. This enemy has come to bless you. […] He is a Son of God, along with you. He is no jailer, but a messenger of Christ. Be this to him, that you may see him thus.” (S-1.III.5:3-9). Practice in seeing this not in some, but in all people you meet, regardless of behavior. The world is wonderful because through it we can learn to undo the silly idea of separation.
— Jan-Willem van Aalst