A Course in Miracles is replete with allegories. Sadly, all too often they are taken literally. I must confess that for far too long I did that with Section I, The Forgotten Song, from Text Chapter 21, Reason and Perception,
Here is a definition of allegory from the OED. Forgive me if you don’t need this definition, but I offer it so we have an agreement about what I am discussing,
An instance of such description; a figurative sentence, discourse, or narrative, in which properties and circumstances attributed to the apparent subject really refer to the subject they are meant to suggest; an extended or continued metaphor.
The Introduction to Chapter 21 is not an allegory. It is to be taken literally as a straight forward exposition of Jesus’ teaching about perception. I am not going to try to summarize it, but here are the opening two sentences. I hope they hook you to read the rest.
Projection makes perception. The world you see is what you gave it, nothing more than that. [T-21.in.1-2]
Here is the first sentence of Section I, of The Forgotten Song which I took literally for far too long.
Never forget the world the sightless “see” must be imagined, for what it really looks like is unknown to them. [T.21.I.1]
I read the sections following this thinking the “sightless” are those among us who are physically blind. However, I came to realize that the sightless includes all of us. We see incorrectly. Therefore, we all must “infer” by learning how to navigate the world we make. We foolishly judge what we think we see, and learn by the pain of error how to get along here. In Paragraphs one through five Jesus explains this behavior in detail. The detail is necessary so that we students will connect with it somewhere somehow and eventually come to accept the idea.
Then in paragraphs six through ten Jesus gives us the following allegorical passages. I include them in total because they are too beautiful to subject to summary.
T-21.I.6-10. Listen- perhaps you catch a hint of an ancient state not quite forgotten; dim, perhaps, and yet not altogether unfamiliar, like a song whose name is long forgotten, and the circumstances in which you heard completely unremembered. Not the whole song has stayed with you, but just a little wisp of melody, attached not to a person or a place or anything particular. But you remember, from just this little part, how lovely was the song, how wonderful the setting where you heard it, and how you loved those who were there and listened with you.
The notes are nothing. Yet you have kept them with you, not for themselves, but as a soft reminder of what would make you weep if you remembered how dear it was to you. You could remember, yet you are afraid, believing you would lose the world you learned since then. And yet you know that nothing in the world you learned is half so dear as this. Listen, and see if you remember an ancient song you knew so long ago and held more dear than any melody you taught yourself to cherish since.
Beyond the body, beyond the sun and stars, past everything you see and yet somehow familiar, is an arc of golden light that stretches as you look into a great and shining circle. And all the circle fills with light before your eyes. 3 The edges of the circle disappear, and what is in it is no longer contained at all. The light expands and covers everything, extending to infinity forever shining and with no break or limit anywhere. 5 Within it everything is joined in perfect continuity. Nor is it possible to imagine that anything could be outside, for there is nowhere that this light is not.
This is the vision of the Son of God, whom you know well. Here is the sight of him who knows his Father. Here is the memory of what you are; a part of this, with all of it within, and joined to all as surely as all is joined in you. Accept the vision that can show you this, and not the body. You know the ancient song, and know it well. Nothing will ever be as dear to you as is this ancient hymn of love the Son of God sings to his Father still.
And now the blind can see, for that same song they sing in honor of their Creator gives praise to them as well. he blindness that they made will not withstand the memory of this song. And they will look upon the vision of the Son of God, remembering who he is they sing of. What is a miracle but this remembering? And who is there in whom this memory lies not? The light in one awakens it in all. And when you see it in your brother, you [are] remembering for everyone.
A few days ago I saw this bumper sticker. “Imagine Heaven.” I thought to myself, Oh you should read the “Forgotten Song” from the Course.