Revelation – Union with God

Revelation – Union with God

We’ve been examining these four words: “Perception, Facts, Revelation & Knowledge.”

There is a fifth word of great significance which fits between facts and revelation. That word is “miracles.” However, we are not going to cover it in any detail at this time for the subject is too vast.  After all, A Course in Miracles has already spent a half million words covering the subject.

The main miracle according to the Course has nothing to do with physical healing, but it is the gaining of an awareness of who we really are – a Son of God who is an extension of our Creator. When this awareness is achieved then many things considered miraculous can occur including physical healing. But in the overall scheme of things, the realization of our true identity eclipses any physical miracle.

The Course makes several statements about the relationship between miracles and revelation, For instance it says, “Miracles are thus a means and revelation is an end.” T-1.I.28.

This tells us that the miracle comes first, then the revelation. In addition, it says this:

“Miracles lead to the highly personal experience of revelation.” T-1.III.4

“Revelation induces only experience. Miracles, on the other hand, induce action.” T-1.II.2

“Revelation unites you directly with God. Miracles unite you directly with your brother.” T-1.II.1

This last quote is quite significant for it stresses that a union with our brother is necessary before we experience a true union with God.

So then, we take the Course and develop a miracle mindedness and this leads to revelation which is “transcends” miracles which are still linked to time. T-1.I.48  “When you return to your original form of communication with God by direct revelation, the need for miracles is over.” T-1.I.46

Again, with this mysterious word, the Course emphasizes a lot different meaning than in common use. Among us mere mortals a revelation is merely an insight or a new awareness of some kind, but we need to go beyond that and ask what revelation is as taught by the Course.

So far, we have mentioned that revelation returns you “to your original form of communication with God.” T-1.I.46 and it is an “experience” that “unites you directly with God.” T-1.II.1

In addition, we are told that “revelation transcends it (time), having nothing to do with time at all.” T-1.I.48. whereas the miracle can control time and “as an expression of charity, can only shorten it.” T-2.V.10

Religious people often call a vision a revelation but to the Course “A ‘vision of God’ would be a miracle rather than a revelation. The fact that perception is involved at all removes the experience from the realm of knowledge.” T-3.III.4

This tells us that revelation takes us beyond the realm of perception, even the perceived vision of God.

Then it makes this statement:

“Only the healed mind can experience revelation with lasting effect, because revelation is an experience of pure joy.” T-5.I.1

Then there is this:

“Revelation is literally unspeakable because it is an experience of unspeakable love.” T-1.II.2

We all have the knowledge of this revelation within our true sense of being and the Course tells us we seek to have it in our physical relationships “involving the extremely personal sense of creation sometimes sought in physical relationships.” But then adds: “Physical closeness cannot achieve it.” T-1.II.1

Physical closeness would involve sexual relationships which may be very pleasant, but does not compare to the ultimate sharing of revelation.

Whereas miracles “induce action” revelation brings experience. And what experience is that? Pure joy and unspeakable love which goes beyond physical and emotional sharing here or even a vision of heaven, God or angels.

That is certainly something to which the student can look forward.

Here it gives us guidance on attaining this ultimate communication:

“Revelations are indirectly inspired by me because I am close to the Holy Spirit, and alert to the revelation-readiness of my brothers. I can thus bring down to them more than they can draw down to themselves. The Holy Spirit mediates higher to lower communication, keeping the direct channel from God to you open for revelation. Revelation is not reciprocal. It proceeds from God to you, but not from you to God.” T-1.II.5.

To be ready we are given this advice”:

“The injunction ‘Be of one mind’ is the statement for revelation-readiness.” T-2.V.A.17

After revelation is experienced, we are then ready for knowledge:

“Knowledge is the result of revelation and induces only thought.  Even in its most spiritualized form,” T-3.III.5

We now arrive at knowledge, but again, do not go by the dictionary definition if you want to understand how it is used in the Course. We will explore this concept next.

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True Facts

True Facts

In my previous post I presented this sequence of words covered by the Course:

“Perception, Facts, Revelation & Knowledge”

True perception leads to understanding true facts, which leads to revelation, which brings us to true knowledge.

We covered perception of which the Course says

“Perception is the medium by which ignorance is brought to knowledge.” T-14.VII.1

But in between perception and knowledge are facts and revelation, so let us now examine what the Course says about facts,

It is interesting that we are told that perception itself, even though it leads to knowledge, is not a fact:

“Perception is a mirror, not a fact.” W-pII.304.1

The question that needs to be asked then is what is a fact according to the Course?  Here are a several examples given:

“God is not symbolic; He is Fact.” T-3.I.8

“Love is not an illusion. It is a fact.” T-16.IV.4

“The fact that God is Love does not require belief, but it does require acceptance. It is indeed possible for you to deny facts, although it is impossible for you to change them.” T-9.I.11

There are three important qualities here that the Course gives to facts in these quotes.

First a fact is not symbolic, second it is not an illusion and third it is something that cannot be changed. In addition, it tells us not “to confuse interpretation with fact,” M-18.1

A fact is not subject to interpretation. It just is what it is.

Here are some items the Course identifies as not being facts.

“There could be no better example that the ego is only an idea and not a fact.” T-4.II.2

“Wishes are not facts.” T-3.VI.11

“Pain is a wrong perspective. When it is experienced in any form, it is a proof of self-deception. It is not a fact at all.” W-pI.190.1

What then appears to be the difference between something that is or is not a fact?

The key example given is that God is a fact and the ego is not.  In other words, God is real and eternal and when known is and not subject to interpretation, whereas the ego is not real, is subject to interpretation and will have an end.

It may be difficult for those who are suffering to accept that pain is not a fact, but according to the Course pain is part of the dream and is not real, though we have made it seem so.

It does tell us though that it is a “fact that I see a world in which there is suffering and loss and death shows me that I am seeing only the representation of my insane thoughts, W-pI.53.5

In other words, it is a fact that the illusion, including pain, seems real, but the illusion itself is not a fact, or is not real.

Finding true facts while in the dream is difficult because most accept their interpretations of what is perceived as facts, but true facts are “not subject to interpretation.” To move on to the next step of revelation we have to separate actual facts from non-facts within the dream.

To do this we must begin by separating them within the dream itself. Even though the dream is not a fact, there are facts relative to the dream itself. Love, for instance, within the dream is a fact as well as the realization that God is, but on many items, it is difficult to discern true facts in the world as noted here:

“But in this world there are no simple facts, because what is the same and what is different remain unclear.” T-26.III.4

Let us take a couple examples.

The Course teaches of a world beyond this one, yet is still short of heaven called the real world. It would be a fact then that the real world exists.

But what is the real world exactly? That is up to interpretation and unless something specific can be proven about it, then it is an interpretation and not a fact.

The Course presents the oneness of God as a fact, but what composes that oneness is up to interpretation and not a fact, unless enlightenment comes that is beyond interpretation.

Then in this world facts relative to it are often difficult to identify.  For instance, it is a fact that Tom Brady was a talented quarterback, but it would involve interpretation to say he is the best of all time.

The seeker then, to move on to revelation, must learn to separate what can be recognized as true beyond dispute (facts) from those things that require interpretation. In addition, he must examine that which requires interpretation and  find all the facts involved which will often replace interpretation with factual understanding.

All things perceived with the eyes are technically not facts. For instance, you may see the sky as blue, but one who is colorblind may see another color. On the other hand, it may be a fact that you register the sky as blue with your eyes.

When the seeker does all he can to find true facts, and with the help of the Holy Spirit separate fact from interpretation, he is halfway to knowledge. The next hurdle is acquiring revelation, the next word in the sequence.

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Right Perception

Right Perception

Sometimes a significant amount of light can be derived from examining the use of a single word in A Course in Miracles. A reason for this is the Course will often attach meaning to various words that go beyond the general definitions supplied by the dictionary. If one goes by the black and white dictionary definition, he may often miss much of the depth of what is being said.

Then too, there are situations where certain words are related to other words that are unique to the Course. Here are four such words:

“Perception, Facts, Revelation & Knowledge”

The Course tells us there is true and false perception, but true perception leads to true facts which leads to revelation which leads to knowledge. To understand this sequence, we must take an in depth look at what the Course says about these words and their relationship. Let us start with perception.

The dictionary basically has two definitions of this word. The first are those things perceived through the senses. Example: “I perceive this desk in front of me.”  The second are those things perceived through the understanding of our minds.  Example: “I perceive that love is more desirable than fear.”

That said, how does the Course use the word?  In this case the use is very similar to the dictionary, but with a very expansive view.

The Course does normally associate perception with the body and form:

“Even in its most spiritualized form perception involves the body.” T-3.III.5  Then it speaks of “the world of dreams, where all perception is.” T-13.VII.9

And here it relates it to separation in form:

“This space you see as setting off all things from one another is the means by which the world’s perception is achieved.” W-pI.184.1-2

The Holy Spirit is usually associated with second part of the dictionary definition which relates perception to that which is beyond sensory perception.

“The Holy Spirit sees perception as a means to teach you that the vision of a holy relationship is all you want to see.” T-21.III.6

“He has created the Holy Spirit as the Mediator between perception and knowledge. Without this link with God, perception would have replaced knowledge forever in your mind.” W-pI.43.1

This also tells us that the idea of perception is so powerful that we would have been trapped in the dream forever if not for the creation of the Holy Spirit.

It is important to know that the Course divides perception into two categories: right perception and wrong perception. Concerning wrong perception it says:

“Only perception can be sick, because only perception can be wrong. Wrong perception is the wish that things be as they are not.” T-8.IX.1-2

Then it points out the necessity of right perception:

“Right perception is necessary before God can communicate directly to His altars, which He established in His Sons.” T-3.III.5-6

We have to be in our right mind to perceive correctly:

“Right-mindedness is not to be confused with the knowing mind, because it is applicable only to right perception.” T-3.IV.4

It further defines right and wrong perception:

“Perception is temporary. As an attribute of the belief in space and time, it is subject to either fear or love. Misperceptions produce fear and true perceptions foster love, but neither brings certainty because all perception varies.” T-3.III.1

Perception then is “an attribute of the belief in space and time” and is therefore related to the dream state in which we find ourselves. In fact, “Perception did not exist until the separation introduced degrees, aspects and intervals” T-3.IV.1

Even though perception is related to the dream world and, was not found in heaven, it is essential that we use it correctly so that we can awaken. After all, without perception you could not even read this or even study the Course itself. Here we have the key to correct perception:

“Perception is the medium by which ignorance is brought to knowledge. Yet the perception must be without deceit, for otherwise it becomes the messenger of ignorance rather than a helper in the search for truth. T-14.VII.1

 The key phrase there is “perception must be without deceit.”

Now, let us look at examples of right and wrong perception. The first level of perception are those things we perceive directly with the physical senses, and a common example of misperception occurs in our courts when eyewitness testimony is given. Let us say that two people involved are giving their testimony and a $50,000 judgment is at stake. In most cases each witness will perceive things incorrectly in his favor because of what is at stake. Unfortunately, this will lead him further into the illusion for “perception must be without deceit.”

Or perhaps you remember having a heated argument, and the other guy quotes you incorrectly and makes it look like you were saying something that you did not say or even think. You could reach agreement if this person would just perceive what you are actually saying, but instead he seems to want you to be wrong.

Hundreds of examples could be given but the key for the ACIM student is to perceive “without deceit” and not let our personal bias distort what we register in our minds as the truth as it relates to this world.

The second level of perception is not through the physical senses, but the eyes of understanding. This is emphasized when the Course teaches about the frame and the picture. The frame represents the black and white words that are being said and the picture represents the actual meaning which is being communicated.

The students who look at the frame only perceive the words. The problem is that communication by words alone is far from perfect as you cannot see the picture by looking only at the frame. Instead, you have to bring in the Holy Spirit to see the picture, or the true meaning, and truly understand what is being actually communicated.

“The Holy Spirit corrects the world of dreams, where all perception is.” T-13.VII.9

“Perception, at its loftiest, is never complete. Even the perception of the Holy Spirit, as perfect as perception can be, is without meaning in Heaven.” T-13.VIII.2

Even so, perception is a tool used by the Holy Spirit to assist us in taking the needed steps to awakening.

“With this link (to the Holy Spirit) with God, perception will become so changed and purified that it will lead to knowledge. That is its function as the Holy Spirit sees it.” W-pI.43.1

“You cannot behave appropriately unless you perceive correctly.” T-1.III.6.

Perception thus leads to true facts which we will discuss next.

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ACIM and Life After Death

ACIM and Life After Death

A Course in Miracles is mysteriously silent on our state after death, which would be our state of existence between lives. It mentions death in some context over 500 times, but instead of dealing with life after the death of the body it places great emphasis in dealing with our life in the body, and the fear of death in xrelation to it.

A student may legitimately wonder why almost all the discussion on death is related to this side of the veil. After much thought, I have concluded that the emphasis is on this world because this is where the awakening must happen:

“The world is not left by death but by truth, and truth can be known by all those for whom the Kingdom was created, and for whom it waits.” T-3.VII.6

So, the solution to the separation is not found by dying, but in finding and living the truth while in the world.

The Course tells us that the separation “occurred over millions of years” T-2.VIII.2 During this time it is assumed we have lived many lifetimes.  We most likely spent more time out of a body rather than in a body. The question then arises as to where and what is this “undiscovered country” we go to after vacating the body? Why does not the Course say anything about it?

Perhaps it does. I have found that the Course says much more than it seems on a casual reading, and the realm we go to after we leave the body is no exception.

We are given this interesting hint:

“To be without a body is to be in our natural state.” W-pI.72.9

Yes, the Course advises us to overlook the body, but when are we in a state where we are actually “without a body”?

That would be that period we spend in between lives where we have no physical body. If we then accept what the Course actually says we   are led to believe that our state of existence after the death of the body is “our natural state.”

So, what is meant by our natural state? We are told this:

“By demonstrating to yourself there is no order of difficulty in miracles, you will convince yourself that, in your natural state, there is no difficulty at all because it is a state of grace. Grace is the natural state of every Son of God. When he is not in a state of grace, he is out of his natural environment and does not function well.” T-7.XI.1-2

Indeed, we have many limitations while out of our natural state and seeing ourselves in the body.

Also, the natural state is communion beyond perception for “Perception is based on a separated state, so that anyone who perceives at all needs healing.  Communion, not prayer, is the natural state of those who know.” T-3.V.10

The Course says that the body “limits your ability to make communion with your brother’s mind.” T-29.I.5. This verifies that without the body we will be in a natural state where pure communication and the miraculous state of grace are normal.

If we then spend most of our separated existence in the natural state between lives with no body why then would the Course be silent on it?

I submit that it is not, but actually makes many references to this state.

Instead of calling the after-death state something with which we are familiar, like “the spirit world,” it calls it “the real world”.

“Hold on,” says the doubter. “The real world is something we achieve in this world and shortly thereafter God takes us from there into heaven.”

Yes, this is true for “the world is not left by death” T-3.VII.6 But after we leave the body, we actually enter the  natural state or the “real world, in which everything reflects the eternal.” T-12.III.8

In other words, the goal here, while in the body, is to achieve that natural state we have after the death of the body.

A reasonable response of the reader at this point may be something like this: “You make an interesting proposal, but can you give us any evidence that the after-death experience takes place in the real world?”

That is a reasonable question. To answer it let us look at the ACIM’s descriptions of the real world and compare them to the after-death description of existence there.

“What are you talking about?” says the skeptic. “We have no descriptions of the life after the death of the body.”

But we do my friend.  There are many thousands who have had a near death experience and have given us descriptions of life without the limitations of the body. There are common elements in these experiences that correspond to the Course’s description of the real world.

In addition, there have been thousands of regressions by trained therapists who have retrieved memories of life between lives.  That which the subjects retrieved are very consistent with each other as well as those who had the near-death experience.

So let us then look at what the Course says about the real world and compare it to what these people who recall visiting the world of Spirit say and see how they compare.

NDEs and the Real World

Let us look at the similarities between descriptions of the afterworld by those who have been regressed ,or had a near death experience (NDE), and what the Course says about the real world.

First let us remind readers that the real world is not heaven but it “reflects the eternal.” T-12.III.8

What is interesting is that the Course speaks of the real world many times as a step removed from heaven yet you rarely if ever see any post made by a student who has seen or visited such a world. Is the real world really that unreachable by us?

Maybe not, if it is the world of spirits, or discarnate entities to which we have many thousands of witnesses.

That said let us look at the descriptions of the two worlds and see how they match up.

The Real World: Permeated by love. “God does love the real world, and those who perceive its reality cannot see the world of death.” T-12.III.8 This other world is bright with love.” T-13.VI.11

The Spirit World: The first thing many thousands of NDE’s have noted is the tremendous love they feel as soon as they enter the light of this world. They use phrases such as love a thousand or million times anything they experienced in the body. They feel this love comes from their Creator as well as other beings there.

The Real World: It is not lit with artificial light, and night comes not upon it.  There is no day that brightens and grows dim.” T-13.VII.1

The Spirit World: Everyone who comments on the light there affirms this statement from the Course. They say there is no need for the sun to light anything as everything there radiates its own light and you can see with 360 degree vision. This also agrees with thew Bible’s description of the real world of the New Jerusalem: “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it.” Rev 21:23

The Real World: There is no loss.” T-13.VII.1

The Spirit World: Visitors affirm this is true

The Real World:For death is not of the real world, in which everything reflects the eternal.” T-12.III.8  “there is no death.” T-27.VII.14

The Spirit World: This is the most common message that many bring back from the NDE. They are often told that there is no death and to tell others this truth after they return to their bodies.  

The Real World: “The real world signifies the end of time, for its perception makes time purposeless.” W-pII.8.4 it is apart from time.” T-26.III.3

The Spirit World: NDEs report the same, saying that time either does not exist there or serves no purpose.

The Real World:In the real world there is no sickness, for there is no separation and no division.” T-11.VIII.10 “beholding it is total perception.” T-12.VIII.8

The Spirit World: It is reported we have bodies of light there and there is no such thing as sickness. There is also no separation as distance is meaningless. You can instantly be in communication with anyone just by thinking about them.

The Real World: There is love instead of judgment. And what was once a dream of judgment now has changed into a dream where all is joy… And the forms that enter in the dream are now perceived as brothers, not in judgment, but in love.” T-29.IX.7

The Spirit World: This is the most common surprise expressed by NDE’s – that there is no judgment as taught by their religion.  They are given a life review so they can assess the quality of their life and the value of love expressed in it, but no one judges them.

The Real World: All is forgiven “Nothing is hidden here, for everything has been forgiven and there are no fantasies to hide the truth.” T-17.II.2

The Spirit World: NDE’s and those regressed report that there is much greater awareness in the Spirit world and we become totally aware of the thinking of all who offended us while on earth and we gain an understanding that there is nothing to forgive.

The Real World: In the real world they see a world where terror is impossible, and witnesses to fear can not be found.” W-pII.8.1

The Spirit World: When the light is entered in the near death experience fear, terror and nightmares no longer exist. Thousands who have been regressed to the between life state tell us the same thing.

We could continue here but this should be enough for readers to see the similarities.

The interesting thing about the real world is that it is not heaven but a reflection of heaven. As such, anyone visiting it from this world will see it as a much better place than earth, and to many NDE’s it seems like heaven. Instead, it is a stop we make before returning home which will be a state beyond words according to the Course.

The goal is to see perceive the real world while on earth. When we can see the real world here as we do when out of the body then we approach awakening from both worlds.  The beginning of real world vision while on earth is stated here.

“You will begin to understand it when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now. That is the beginning of real vision. You can be certain that real vision will come quickly when this has occurred.” W-pI.15.2

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A Place for Heaven

A Place for Heaven

Is heaven a place or not? This quote seems to make it clear it is not

“Heaven is not a place nor a condition. It is merely an awareness of perfect Oneness, and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this Oneness, and nothing else within.” place T-18.VI.1

This is often quoted to show that heaven is not a place, but what is left out is the sentence that precedes it which reads:

“The Kingdom of Heaven is the dwelling place of the Son of God, who left not his Father and dwells not apart from Him.”

The word “place” in reference to heaven is used twice in the same paragraph, first saying that heaven is a place, and then saying it is not.

In fact, there are a lot more references to it being a place than not. This one uses the word “place” two times in referring to heaven:

“Yet it is not illusions that have reached this final obstacle which seems to make God and His Heaven so remote that They cannot be reached. Here in this holy PLACE does truth stand waiting to receive you and your brother in silent blessing, and in peace so real and so encompassing that nothing stands outside. Leave all illusions of yourself outside this PLACE, to which you come in hope and honesty.” place T-24.II.9

It refers to the kingdom of heaven as a “resting place.”

“Let no idle and foolish thoughts enter to disturb the holy mind of the Son of God. Such is the Kingdom of Heaven. place Such is the resting PLACE where your Father has placed you forever.” place W-pI.50.5

Then it even speaks of a place in heaven:

“Each part of Heaven that you bring is given you. And every empty PLACE in Heaven that you fill again with the eternal light you bring, shines now on you.” place T-22.VI.5

 (Capitals added)

So, what gives here? Is the Course contradicting itself or what?

Actually, apparent contradictions like this can be found in most any writing of a teacher who puts out a significant volume of words.

The Course itself tells us the solution to understanding in these situations. It portrays the outward description, such as the words used, as the frame or the form, but the actual intended meaning as the picture or the content. It says the ego looks at the form and becomes confused, but in our right mind we should see the actual picture or the content.

When the content, or the actual intent is seen in the Course, one will see that there is no conflict because the student will see that which was truly intended to be communicated.

That said, let us look for the true intended meaning behind these quotes.

When it says that heaven is not a place it adds this in the next verse:

“The belief that you could give and get something else, something outside yourself, has cost you the awareness of Heaven and of your Identity.” T-18.VI.2

The obvious intended meaning is to not look for heaven as being a “something outside yourself.”

In other words, heaven does not exist in time, space and form. Don’t expect to find heaven on Venus, the Sun or the center of the galaxy.

Heaven is not a place you can physically travel to. It is also not a condition you can make here on the earth. Getting rich and famous, having good health or even good relationships here are all conditions, and not heaven as the content reveals.

Instead, it is “an awareness of perfect Oneness, and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this Oneness, and nothing else within.”

So, what is the Course saying then when it speaks of heaven as a place?

To understand we must realize that the word “place” has several applications. place The Course uses the word “place” in relation to heaven in two contexts. The first is a place in time and space, which it says does not really exist because time and space does not exist in heaven.

The second is closest to an alternative dictionary definition which says place can be “a state of mind.” This seems to be the intent when the Course speaks of heaven as a place.

Thus, if one student speaks of heaven as a state of mind, or awareness, and he is corrected by another who tells him that heaven is not a place, it is the one correcting that is in error because he is looking at the frame rather than the content/intent of the writer/speaker.

Ultimately, we are told that heaven is “perfect Oneness” and we cannot have perfect oneness if we look at the frame rather than the true picture that is intended to be communicated, and we cannot see the true picture unless we see how the word is intended to be used.

When describing feelings one may say, “I am in a good place now.” Here he is talking about his state of mind, not where his feet are, and to respond as if he were talking about the placement of his body would show a lack of understanding.

One may even describe some strange place he visited in his dreams, but few would think he was talking about something happening in the physical body.

The bottom line is that effective understanding demands that we not always go by a single definition for each word, when there may be several, and to always seek the meaning the author intended to convey rather than what may appear on the surface.

If you happen then to catch me saying something indicating that heaven is a place, rest assured that I am not saying it is somewhere we can find in a spaceship, but I am using it to represent a state of being, as does the Course.

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A Course in Miracles and Heaven

A Course in Miracles and Heaven

If anyone is thought to be fully in heaven then Jesus would be at the top of the list, but we are told this:

“Because my feet are on the ground and my hands are in Heaven, I can bring down the glories of Heaven to my brothers on earth.” UR T 1 B 40ab

Unlike the Father, who does not have feet on the ground here, Jesus does. And why is this?

Because “We cannot sing redemption’s hymn alone. My task is not completed until I have lifted every voice with mine.” T-13.VII.17

The Course explains why Jesus is motivated to bring heaven to all:

“The Sonship in its Oneness transcends the sum of its parts. However, this is obscured as long as any of its parts is missing. That is why the conflict cannot ultimately be resolved until all the parts of the sonship have returned. Only then can the meaning of wholeness in the true sense be understood.” T-2.VII.6

So, even though Jesus has his hands in heaven and enjoys a bliss only dreamed of by most, none of us including him, can understand the meaning of wholeness when parts of the Sonship are missing for “At God’s altar Christ waits for the restoration of Himself in you.” T-11.IV.7

Then there is this: “the reawakening of every Son of God is necessary to enable the Sonship to know its Wholeness.” T-6.I.12

The Course indicates that Jesus has passed the gates of heaven, but even he cannot enjoy a fullness until all have awakened

Think you when this has been achieved that you will rest without them (your brothers who sleep)? You could no more leave one of them outside than I could leave you, and forget part of myself.  T-20.IV.7

Souls cannot rest until everyone has found salvation.”  UR T 1 B 24a. 24

In other words, heaven is not fully heaven unless the whole family is awakened and present.

In the meantime, we can enjoy many heavenly experiences as we journey home and take our brothers and sisters with us.

Confusion Over Heaven

The Course is confusing to many on its teachings about this world and heaven.

On one hand it says “There is no need for help to enter Heaven for you have never left.” C-5.1

Then on the other hand the Course tells us that “heaven waits” for our return.

“His Son removed himself from His gift by refusing to accept what had been created for him, and what he had created in the Name of his Father. Heaven waits for his return, for it was created as the dwelling place of God’s Son.” T-10.V.11

Jesus even makes this plea: “Return with me to Heaven, walking together with your brother out of this world.” T-18.I.12

For every indication that we are in heaven now, or never left, there are a dozen dealing with the idea that we have had a separation and are experiencing an insane nightmare from which we need to awaken and escape. In fact, the Course gives us 365 lessons to help us awaken to the heavenly state.

So what is the real truth of the matter?

The problem is that when there is an apparent contradiction the natural tendency is to take sides. One side has to be right and the other wrong. And when one observes the discussion on this and other issues this is indeed what happens.

But there is another path mentioned by Jesus which is often called the straight and narrow:

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matt 7:14

He says something similar in several places in the Course:

“All are called but few choose to listen.” T-3.IV.7

“Only very few can hear God’s Voice at all, and even they cannot communicate His messages directly through the Spirit which gave them.” M-12.3

The question is then what is the difference between the few and the many?  The many are caught up in the black and white world of duality whereas the few look at what the Course calls the “content” of what is taught. When looking at the content no side has to be taken for a student can see truth in both sides.

When you go to bed and dream are you said to have left your home?

No.

“You travel but in dreams, while safe at home.” T-13.VII.17

In this sense then we have not left our heavenly home for the real part of ourselves remains in heaven.

When we dream at night where are we? Technically we are in our bed in the world, but consciously we are off in dreamland.

If one says he is in the bedroom that would be correct, but it would also be correct to say that he is in the dream and needs to awaken to function again in the world.

Similarly, the Course is correct in saying we never left heaven because the real part of ourselves is still there, but it is also correct in saying we are in a dream and need to awaken.

If we see the content and context of both statements, we find there is nothing to argue about.

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The Journey to Heaven

The Journey to Heaven

There are a number of popular phrases in A Course in Miracles that are subject to more than one interpretation. The problem is that an error in interpretation can cause a delay in the student reaching the goal of awakening as set by the course, as it presents correct perception as essential. A popular phrase often quoted is “I need do nothing.”

This phrase is very seductive for what could be easier to do than nothing? Let us just relax, do nothing, be saved and awaken to heaven. Some may even believe that because they are doing nothing now, that they are awake and in heaven at this moment, even though we see them as still being here in the dream with us.

What does ACIM mean when it speaks of doing nothing?

One holding on to the path of least resistance may think it means: “Continue on as you are. You do not need to do anything different.”

When you think about it the phrase cannot mean that.

Why?

Because none of us who are still in the dream are doing nothing. Instead of doing nothing, we are doing many things that keep us in the illusion such as:

[1] Seeing yourself as in a body.

[2] using the senses of the body to perceive.

[3] We see the past and plan the future

[4] We listen to thoughts of the ego instead of the Holy Spirit

[5] We pay a lot of attention to ensure the body gets proper care.

[6] We establish special relationships

The list could go on indefinitely for most of us are a long way from doing nothing.

A phrase with similar meaning is, “Be still and know that I am God.” T-4.in.2 This is found in the Course and the Bible and quoted by many practitioners of meditation.  They tell us that the act of being still in body, emotion and thought is quite difficult and takes a lot of focus. In other words, doing nothing takes some serious mind training.

Where have students heard that phrase before? Oh, yes, here it is.

“This is a course in mind training.” T-1.VII.4

Indeed, the mind has to be trained and focused to do nothing, for the average person has a myriad of thoughts, feelings and perceptions calling for attention. Here we are told the benefit of doing nothing:

“Who needs do nothing has no need for time. To do nothing is to rest, and make a place within you where the activity of the body ceases to demand attention.  Into this place the Holy Spirit comes, and there abides.” T-18.VII.7

The great benefit then is the reception of the guidance from the Holy Spirit. When this presence is felt, the seeker can yield to Its instruction and let go of the stress involving the decision making of the ego.

“I am not alone, and I would not intrude the past upon my Guest.

I have invited Him, and He is here.

I need do nothing except not to interfere.” T-16.I.3

It is actually quite difficult to be still and do nothing, but the reward is great and it takes us a great step forward to awakening.

You would think that people would know whether or not they are in heaven, yet the answer is not so simple for ACIM students. Some believe they are experiencing a dream, as taught by the Course, and must awaken to full awareness of heaven, while others believe they are fully in heaven right now and there is nothing further we need to do to enter the pearly gates.

Here is the core passage that creates the problem:

“Heaven is here. There is nowhere else. Heaven is now. There is no other time.” M-24.5

Notice that it does not say that you are in heaven now, but “Heaven is now.”

There is only one time in heaven which is the present and to enter, that is where our consciousness must be.  In that same paragraph it states: “it is at this moment that complete salvation is offered you, and it is at this moment that you can accept it. This is still your one responsibility. Atonement might be equated with total escape from the past and total lack of interest in the future.”

This clearly tells us that before we can enter heaven we must achieve a “total escape from the past and be totally in the present.

Notice the word “total.” I personally do not know anyone who has come close to doing this, for to even communicate with words you have to use your memory of the past.

Certain soundbites from the Course make it sound like returning to heaven is as easy as falling off a log, and we humans are attracted to things that are easy. Of Course, it is important to emphasize that we can take the necessary steps, and the steps are easy once embraced, but getting the students to embrace the steps is indeed difficult.

The easy and the hard part are noted here:

“Nothing is so easy to recognize as truth. This is the recognition that is immediate, clear and natural. You have trained yourself not to recognize it, and this has been very difficult for you.” T-7.XI.5

When we are completely open and in tune with the Holy Spirit recognizing truth is very easy, but we have trained ourselves “not to recognize it.”  The process of unlearning is the difficult part.

Chapter six gives us four major steps to make that happen and the workbook gives us 365 lessons.

ACIM takes a half million words to just get us headed in the right direction. It does therefore seem that reaching the goal involves much more than merely declaring you are not here, but in heaven.

Consider this quote:

“Just as the separation occurred over millions of years, the Last Judgment will extend over a similarly long period, and perhaps an even longer one.” T-2.VIII.2

It took us millions of years to make the illusion we are currently in and we are told it may take even longer to end it.

Obviously, a problem that requires millions of years to solve involves much more than making some declaration of belief.

There are two things given us to speed up the process of return. The first was the creation of the Holy Spirit. This was crucial for “Without this link with God, perception would have replaced knowledge forever in your mind.” W-pI.43.1

So without this assistance we would have been stuck here forever.

The second is the presentation of A Course in Miracles. This is said to be a part of a “celestial speedup” to cut down on the time needed for the Sons of God to return.

It is the tendency of us humans to want a quick and easy salvation. Manny fundamentalists say we just need to accept Jesus as Lord and that will do it. Others say we just need to accept a certain guru or doctrine and eternal salvation is ours. Many Course students have embraced a quick salvation idea since we are told the kingdom of God is within.

By reflecting within and following the Course many have had spiritual  experiences, but such experiences do not mean that the journey is over. Instead, spiritual experiences are just signs that the journey is underway.

While in the dream we are told that we still have a part of heaven within us. It says that “This is the little part you think you stole from Heaven. Give it back to Heaven.  Heaven has not lost it, but you have lost sight of Heaven.” T-18.IX.1

If within us “is the tiny part of yourself, the little thought that seems split off and separate.”  T-18.IX.1 then just imagine what a fullness would be like when we the separation ends and the “Father will lean down to you and take the last step for you, by raising you unto Himself.” T-11.VIII.15

When that happens that which is beyond words will be realized.

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Are We in Heaven?

Are We in Heaven?

What if you think you are in heaven when you are in the illusion? What if you think you are awake when you are asleep? What if you think you are not here when you perceive yourself as being here and making it real? What if you think you do not need A Course in Miracles to awaken when you do?

This would be similar to the guy who thinks he has arrived at Jim’s house, but is really at Ralph’s place. No matter how much he presses forward with this idea he does not arrive at Jim’s. The only solution is to back up, reexamine the directions, and then head to the right location.

As Course students the goal is to return to our eternal home, and the Course gives us many aspects of this world that must be dropped before that can happen such as:

[1] We will no longer see with the physical eyes, but the spiritual.

[2] We will no longer use memory and see the past for we will have total awareness instead.

[3] We will no longer experience pain or sickness

[4] We will no longer perceive anything in the world.

[5] We will no longer experience opposition or conflict.

Yet the Course makes this statement which leads many to think they have transcended those points and arrived in heaven:

“Heaven is here. There is nowhere else. Heaven is now. There is no other time.” M-24.5

This quote is controversial because many students see and feel the pain in the world as well as the fear and pain in their lives and do not see themselves in heaven at all. They will ask, how can I be in heaven if I am experiencing hell? Isn’t what we are actually experiencing telling us whether we are in heaven or hell? Wouldn’t the people in Ukraine laugh at me if I told them they were in heaven?

This passage gives a partial explanation:

“Your Self is still in peace, even though your mind is in conflict.” T-3.VII.5

Our mind is in conflict because it is split for “The separation is merely another term for a split mind.” T-5.III.9

Here it talks about the split into a higher and lower mind:

“I do work with your higher mind, the home of the Holy Spirit, whether you are asleep or awake, just as your ego does with your lower mind, which is its home.” T-4.IV.11 “you have split your mind into what knows and does not know the truth.”  W-pI.139.5

When this split occurs “the mind elects to be what it is not, and to assume an alien power which it does not have, a foreign state it cannot enter, or a false condition not within its Source, it merely seems to go to sleep a while.” W-pI.167.9

And that is where we are now. Our lower mind is asleep and dreaming dreams that we have made real to us while our true “Self is still in peace, even though your mind is in conflict.” T-3.VII.5

What makes it difficult for us is that in this dream state we are identifying with the lower mind rather than the higher, which is our true eternal self.

The great quest then as directed by 365 lessons in A Course in Miracles is to wake up so we can realize who we really are and cease to witness any pain and suffering induced by the dream.

The problem is that many repeat the quote that “Heaven is here. There is nowhere else. Heaven is now. There is no other time.” M-24.5 and they say they are awake and there is nothing to do. No ACIM is needed for they are in heaven now and the dream never happened. 

Do they have a point? On the surface that is what it seems to say.

Several though pointed out the need to look at the context of the quote, so let us do that. Here is what precedes the quote in question:

“The emphasis of this course always remains the same; — it is at this moment that complete salvation is offered you, and it is at this moment that you can accept it. This is still your one responsibility. Atonement might be equated with total escape from the past and total lack of interest in the future.”

The total of the half million words of the Course leads us to a point where we can accept “complete salvation.” This involves a “total escape from the past and total lack of interest in the future.”

When we then escape from the past and the future where are we?

We are then in the present. And what does the Course say about the present?

“The present is the only time there is.” W-pI.164.1 “The only aspect of time that is eternal is now.” T-5.III.6 “The present now remains the only time. Here in the present is the world set free.” W-pI.132.3

Taking this into consideration let us reexamine the quote in question:

“Heaven is here. There is nowhere else. Heaven is now. There is no other time.”

Notice that it doesn’t say that you have awakened from the dream and your complete awareness is in heaven. It merely stresses that “heaven is now.”

And what is now?

It is present time with no past or future as we know it.

In other words, it is telling us that if we want to experience heaven we must let go of the past and embrace the “present now.”

The Course affirms the words of the Bible when it says: “Be still and know that I am God.” T-4.in.2

In that stillness is present time and heaven itself, but we must make the decision to go there, otherwise “You have chosen a sleep in which you have had bad dreams, but the sleep is not real and God calls you to awake.” T-6.IV.6

If you are reading this then the awakening into the now has not fully happened because you are using your memory of the past so you can read English.

But we can get a glimpse of heaven through the Holy Instant:

“The holy instant is a miniature of eternity. It is a picture of timelessness, set in a frame of time.”T-17.IV.11

“In the holy instant it is understood that the past is gone…The stillness and the peace of now enfold you in perfect gentleness.” T-16.VII.7

The problem is that even atter we get a glimpse of the eternal now through the holy instant we can backslide:

“For a time you may attempt to bring illusions into the holy instant, to hinder your full awareness of the complete difference, in all respects, between your experience of truth and illusion.” T-16.VII.6

The first couple Holy Instant experiences will not bring a full awakening for we tend “to bring illusions” into it, but the experience does give us the promise of a full awakening.

Let us move forward to that event.

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Escaping the World

Escaping the World

A Course in Miracles gives us this curious statement:

“I can escape from this world by giving up attack thoughts. Herein lies salvation, and nowhere else.” W-pI.55.3

Then it says this:

“If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want.” W-pI.23.2.

The discussion of giving up attack thoughts is not something I have seen discussed much by course students, but according to these and other statements our very salvation and awakening from the dream depend on it.

The interesting thing is that many students, including myself, do not see themselves as in the attack mode. Many students try to live so harmlessly that they even avoid stepping on a bug and feel that they do not want to attack anyone or anything.

What does this tell us?

It tells us that the Course is defining an attack on its own terms just as it does with numerous other words and phrases.

If you are seeing these words, you are still in this world, and according to the Course, you have not given up attacking.

What do you suppose it is that you are still attacking and what are these obscure attack thoughts we need to give up so we can go home?

The conundrum occurs for many students when they have seemed to do all they can to send love and not attack, yet still find themselves in the dream continuing to perceive with the physical eyes and senses.

Perhaps it would be helpful to examine more closely what the Course actually means when it speaks of giving up attacking and attack thoughts.

When most of us think of attacking we think of an action that hurts another person in some way. The Course seems to support this standard view in this quote:

“No one attacks without intent to hurt. This can have no exception.” W-pI.170.1

This tells us that attack involves an “intent to hurt” which is in harmony with the regular definition as accepted by the masses.

We can therefore say with certainty that words or actions meant to hurt someone physically or emotionally is an attack according to the Course.

But it seems that there is more to understanding attack than this for we are told: “I can escape from this world by giving up attack thoughts. Herein lies salvation, and nowhere else.” W-pI.55.3

It sounds like that if we simply give up thought with intent to hurt that we can escape this world and return in full to heaven. Yet there are many who do not seem to have any desire to hurt anyone, yet are still here seeing the physical world instead of the spiritual.

What are we missing?

Some think that any thought we have while in the separated state is an attack thought, even those we consider positive. Could this be true?

Not really, says the Course. Concerning our thoughts while in the dream it says:

“I have saved all your kindnesses and every loving thought you ever had. I have purified them of the errors that hid their light, and kept them for you in their own perfect radiance. They are beyond destruction.” T-5.IV.8

From this we learn that all thoughts associated with kindness and love are saved for us for they are “beyond destruction.” These are definitely not attack thoughts for we will take them with us back to our true home.

So what about the thoughts in between that do not have intent to hurt, but are not particularly loving? Suppose I think this:

“I am thirsty and must get a drink of water.”

That thought doesn’t seem to be attacking anyone, nor is it particularly loving unless one considers supplying the body’s needs as loving the body.

We do seem to think many thoughts throughout the day that have no intent to do harm, nor are they particularly loving. Could they be considered attack thoughts?

No. such thoughts by themselves are not attack thoughts for we are told that there are two thought systems. One is eternal and from God and the other is used by the ego. All of our thoughts then that are not associated with love and kindness are connected to the ego’s thought system, and this thought system governs the world. Concerning the world, the Course says

“The world was made as an attack on God.” W-pII.3.2

Why was the making of the world considered an attack on God? This gives us a clue:

To communicate is to join and to attack is to separate. T-8.VII.12

The separation and all that resulted from it is said to be part of the attack on God and this would include the world and our bodies within it for our bodies are a means to separate us from our brothers.

Even though many of our thoughts have no intent to hurt, our thought system as a whole is the result of the original separation.

We are told that all attack involves an intent to hurt. Was there really an intent to hurt our Father God in the original separation? This quote gives a clue”

“God would not have us be alone because He does not will to be alone. That is why He created His Son.” T-8.VI.8 “God is incomplete without you.” T-9.VIII.9

God created us because He did not want to be alone and if the separation would have been successful He would have been. The Sonship may not have directly wanted to hurt God by leaving him alone but its desire to separate would have had that effect if it had happened in the eternal reality. God did not allow a real separation so we had to make one in a dream world instead.

The ultimate giving up of attack thoughts then is to forgive the world itself which means to overlook the world, seek the true reality and return home.

A major step in this direction is taken when we   cease embracing attack thoughts where there is conscious intent to hurt. This not only includes attack thoughts toward others, but ourselves as well.

In addition, there is one more category of attack that has to be overlooked.

“Without attack thoughts I could not see a world of attack. As forgiveness allows love to return to my awareness, I will see a world of peace and safety and joy. And it is this I choose to see, in place of what I look on now.” W-pI.55.3

It is notable then that the salvation promised by giving up attack thoughts includes those we see in the “world of attack.”  The Course adds this:

“When you finally learn that thoughts of attack and of being attacked are not different, you will be ready to let the cause go.” W-pI.23.7

We as individuals may not be responsible for all the attack going on in the world, but it is the result of the split mind of the Sonship as a whole. Thoughts of you attacking, or outward attacks that affect you, are the same according to the Course and when we overlook both so they cease to exist in our minds it says “I will see a world of peace and safety and joy. And it is this I choose to see, in place of what I look on now.”

When we reach that place in our consciousness then the salvation promised for giving up attack thought becomes secured.

Yeah, I know it is hard to turn on the news and see nations attacking nations, politicians attacking politicians, thugs attacking little old ladies and then see “see a world of peace and safety and joy” in its place, but we are told it can be done because what we see is the result of our thought system, and there is another way of seeing.

In the meantime, we can all understand the first major step of “giving up” attack thoughts, or desire to retaliate against our brothers and sisters, and be as harmless as possible. When that is achieved our inward guidance will reveal the next step.

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Understanding Light

Understanding Light

Light is an interesting subject and I believe that understanding it is crucial to a full comprehension of A Course in Miracles.

Let us first define it in a way that registers as true. When you think of it, perhaps the best universal definition is “light is that which reveals.” In addition, the Course says that “light is understanding.” T-9.V.6 In its highest sense “light reflects life, and is therefore an aspect of creation.” W-pI.44.1

If you are in a dark room and turn on a flashlight then the light reveals what is in the room. Then on another level, when a truth is spoken, understanding is revealed to the mind and is enhanced.

There are two major divisions of light.  The first is the light which is in the true reality the Course calls heaven. This is called “the eternal light” T-22.VI.5 and “perfect” for “God Himself shines in perfect light.” T-4.IV.9 And of ourselves in our true state it is said that “God’s guiltless Son is only light.” T-13.VI.8 for “We are one, united in this light.” W-pII.239.2

This light is beyond perception for “Perception did not exist until the separation introduced degrees, aspects and intervals” T-3.IV.1

The second type of light is light which can be perceived or light which came into existence at the separation. This light is not eternal, but has a beginning and an end. The most consistent light we normally perceive is the sun but “the sun that opened up the world to beauty will vanish.” T-17.II.4, or have an end, for all things that are perceived will have an end, and in the ultimate reality of ACIM are said to be not real. As the Course defines reality only things eternal are real.

At the separation form and perception of form became a possibility and that is where we are now with vision.

After the separation lower light appeared in two worlds mentioned by the Course. The highest is “the real world, in which everything reflects the eternal… God gave you the real world in exchange for the one you made out of your split mind” T-12.III.8

“This world of light, this circle of brightness is the real world.” T-18.IX.9 “It is not lit with artificial light, and night comes not upon it. There is no day that brightens and grows dim.” T-13.VII.1

Whereas the real world is called a “world of light” this world we see with our physical eyes is called “the world of darkness” T-25.IV.5 and “you made your way of seeing that you might see in darkness, and in this you are deceived.” T-13.V.9 “Yet in darkness, in the private world of sleep, you see in dreams although your (spiritual) eyes are closed. And it is here that what you see you made.” T-13.V.8

The light of this world is so different from the light reflected from heaven in the real world that it is called darkness by comparison, and if we look upon the darkness, we cannot see the true light. The Course teaches that we will see one or the other:

`You cannot see both worlds, for each of them involves a different kind of seeing, and depends on what you cherish. The sight of one is possible because you have denied the other. Both are not true, yet either one will seem as real to you as the amount to which you hold it dear. T-13.VII.2.

In addition to light that can be seen with spiritual or physical vision there is light that comes through understanding, and the Course spends a good deal of time guiding us to embrace this light. The light that brings understanding is seen with the mind, for God “keeps your mind lit by His light because His light is what your mind is.” T-7.III.5

“True light that makes true vision possible is not the light the body’s eyes behold. It is a state of mind that has become so unified that darkness cannot be perceived at all.” W-pI.108.2.

Because of the separation “the mind is split between the ego and the Holy Spirit,” T-3.VI.7

That split is called right and wrong mindedness. Concerning these it says:

“The term “right-mindedness” is properly used as the correction for “wrong-mindedness,” and applies to the state of mind that induces accurate perception. It is miracle-minded because it heals misperception.” T-3.IV.4

Even though “His light is what your mind is,” the separation caused a division so what was created to see true light split so in this world we seem to see in darkness instead.

The great quest then is to forgive this world so we can see the true light. “To forgive is to overlook” T-9.IV.1 so to see the true light we must learn to overlook or see what exists beyond this world. The beginning of this occurs “when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now. That is the beginning of real vision. You can be certain that real vision will come quickly when this has occurred.” W-pI.15.2

And indeed, many of the 365 lessons prepare our minds to see beyond this world to the greater light in both perception and understanding.

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