The Real World?

This term has puzzled me ever since I first heard Ken Wapnick refer to it during Roscoe NY FACIM Workshops. When he discussed it he usually added, “don’t try to change the world; change your mind about the world.”

A central teaching of ACIM is that the world does not exist, it’s an illusion.  It could be helpful to have such a “real world” be part of the world we perceive.  But I asked, if the world is an illusion how can a “real world” exist?

My mistake was; the real world is not a place; it’s a state of mind.  No doubt I was influenced by my past Catholic belief in purgatory where sins are erased from souls before they go to Heaven. Similar beliefs are part of many cultures. Wiccans have Summerland, Celtics have the Otherworld, to name just two. The Garden of Eden was denied to Jews when they disobeyed God so it is a place lost by sin.  Buddhists have Bardo, an intermediate or liminal state, which comes closest to the Course concept of the “real world.”

Stories about such places abound.  C.S Lewis’ portrayed a different world in his Narnia novels which the children could enter through a wardrobe.  And there is Alice Through the Looking Glass.  James Barrie has Peter Pan take children to Summerland.  Most recently in the Harry Potter novels children walk through a brick wall to enter an illusion, within an illusion which is within an illusion.  All are places, not states of mind as is the “real world” as taught in A Course of Miracles,

Following are some passages from the Course that will help us to understand its teaching. The following from Workbook Lesson 23: I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts, is one example.

  There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically. (my emphasis)

And these passages, from Workbook Lesson 132.
I loose the world from all I thought it was

 There is no world apart from what you wish, and herein lies your ultimate release. Change but your mind on what you want to see, and all the world must change accordingly. … It is not pride which tells you that you made the world you see, and that it changes as you change your mind.  [L.132.5.1-2+5]

     [6.1-2]   But it is pride that argues you have come into a world quite separate from yourself, impervious to what you think, and quite apart from what you chance to think it is. There is no world! This is the central thought the course attempts to teach.

Also helpful is Ken Wapnick’s definition of the “real world” as found in his Glossary-Index for A Course in Miracles. (4th edition p. 173-174)

Part 1, the state of mind in which, through total forgiveness, the world of perception is released from the projection of guilt we had placed upon it:  Part two, thus, it is the mind that has changed, not the world, and we see through the vision of Christ which blesses rather than condemns:  Part three, the Holy Spirit’s happy dream; the end of the atonement, undoing our thoughts of separation and allowing God to take the last step. (my emphasis, and part 1 -3 organizing)

Following Ken’s three steps directs our mind to a “Happy Dream” which replaces our projections of the “unreal” world. When we change our mind about that world then we can contemplate the “real world.” We do it through the process of forgiving ourselves for projecting the world in our split mind. The following passage about the “real world” offers thoughts that will help us to cope with the difficult moments of our worldly lives. In this passage the pronouns He, Him and His plus the word redeemer all refer to the Holy Spirit, the Voice for God which is within us all.

How much do you want salvation? It will give you the real world, trembling with readiness to be given you. The eagerness of the Holy Spirit to give you this is so intense He would not wait, although He waits in patience. Meet His patience with your impatience at delay in meeting Him. Go out in gladness to meet with your Redeemer, and walk with Him in trust out of this world, and into the real world of beauty and forgiveness. (my emphasis) [T-17.II.8.]

Therefore, through forgiveness, we find the real world to be a place that will help us in our everyday lives. The following passage builds on that.

The real world is the state of mind in which the only purpose of the world is seen to be forgiveness. Fear is not its goal, for the escape from guilt becomes its aim. The value of forgiveness is perceived and takes the place of idols, which are sought no longer, for their “gifts” are not held dear. … And it is recognized that all things must be first forgiven, and [then] understood. (my emphasis) [ T-17.II.8.1-3+6]

Forgiveness is one of ACIM’s most important principles. As in this discussion of the “real world,” forgiveness is linked to other Course teachings.  But it is considered in a far different manner than religions. It will be the subject of my next post.

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Coping with the World

Last month I drove from Central California to the farm near Ithaca NY where my late wife and I brought up our six children so I could visit family and friends. One visit was with a woman who was a close friend long ago, and the Professor she married. My conversation was entirely with him because sadly, my old friend is suffering from MS and bone cancer. The professor soon asked me about my spiritual beliefs. I told him I was a student of A Course in Miracles.

“What’s that,” he asked. As I was telling him about the Course he interrupted me when I said that the Course teaches that God has nothing to do with this world.

He asked, “how can you live a moral life here without God’s help?”

I said, “The course teaches us to treat every person here in this insane world kindly as our self, because we are all oneself in the part of our mind that remains with God in Heaven.”

Soon I sensed that he is a Biblically oriented Christian, and I felt that he was not interested in hearing more about the Course. Further, hearing that God is not involved in the world was far too difficult for him to consider. It would take a miracle for him to change his beliefs.

His query was similar to one I made during a Foundation for A Course in Miracles workshop then at Roscoe NY.

I asked, “If God doesn’t know about this world then why do it.”
Ken Wapnick shot back “Good question,” leaving me there: pondering.

Later I realized that my question was dreadfully egocentric. Do we behave here in ways that we hope will gain God’s approval, gold stars, or congratulations? Or do we behave according to the very ancient Golden Rule. Jesus certainly teaches that in ACIM – along with the principle that God has nothing to do with this world. Following is one of his most emphatic passages about that issue.

                           TRUE PERCEPTION–KNOWLEDGE
“The world you see is an illusion of a world. God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself. Yet there is nothing in the world you see that will endure forever. Some things will last in time a little while longer than others. But the time will come when all things visible will have an end.” [C-4.1]

The above is clear, unequivocal: not metaphorical. It is a certain statement that teaches that the world we see is an illusion.

Nevertheless, we need help to cope with our everyday life here. Christians have God to look after them, Judaism has Yahweh and Islam has Allah. We have Jesus in his “Course” helping us as God’s Voice, the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is our link to God because he and the Holy Spirit one within us.

I discuss this issue fully in my book, There is “…another way,” A Companion Guide to A Course in Miracles, Jesus’ Gift To humanity, in Chapter IV, How Do we Cope With The World?

In the final section of the Text Jesus offers these words to help us cope.

“Do not fail to hear my voice (the Holy Spirit/Jesus) and listen to my words.”

He asks, “for nothing but your own release,” and assures us that there is, “no place for hell within a world whose loveliness can yet be so intense and so inclusive it is but a step from there to Heaven” [T-31.VIII.8:2-3.]

Jesus asks us to share this vision with all of our brothers and sisters. In ACIM this place is called the “real world.” (a topic for another blog.)

In ACIM the word Christ is used in a very different way than how most Christians do. The following passage from the Clarification of Terms shows the difference.

Is he the Christ? O yes, along with you. His little life on earth was not enough to teach the mighty lesson that he learned for all of you. He will remain with you to lead you from the hell you made to God.
(my emphasis) [C-5.5]

With that definition of “The Christ” in mind, these words from the text; the first and final sentences from the last paragraph of Chapter 31, are helpful.

Amen. For Christ has come to dwell in the abode You set for him before time was, in calm eternity … For we have reached where all of us are one, and we are home, where You would have us be.”

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