Where is Heaven?
Some Course students believe that heaven can be fully experienced here on earth while others do not. This latter group believe we have to first fully awaken from the dream. Then this universe will disappear and we will enter heaven. They cite numerous passages such as:
“For you realize that if you look on this and let the veil be lifted, they will be gone forever. All of your “friends,” your “protectors” and your “home” will vanish. Nothing that you remember now will you remember…. all that will occur is you will leave the world forever.” T-19.IV.D.6 &7
“God cannot come into a body, nor can you join Him there.” T-18.VIII.3
“The body is the symbol of the world. Leave it behind. It cannot enter Heaven. But I can take you there anytime you choose. Together we can watch the world disappear and its symbol vanish as it does so.” UR F-35
On the other hand, those who believe we can enter heaven while still in the world have plenty of ammunition such as:
“Atonement might be equated with total escape from the past and total lack of interest in the future. Heaven is here. There is nowhere else. Heaven is now. There is no other time.” M-24.6
“Heaven has come to earth at last, from which the ego’s rule has kept it out so long. Heaven has come because it found a home in your relationship on earth. And earth can hold no longer what has been given Heaven as its own.” T-21.IV.7
Do we have conflicting teachings here or do we just need to see these statements in a correct light?
I maintain the answer is the latter. Allow me to explain.
The Course definitely teaches that our perception of this world of good and evil is caused by a dream state in which we find ourselves. It says “The world you see does not exist, because the place where you perceive it is not real.” T-28.V.7 “It is impossible to see two worlds which have no overlap of any kind. Seek for the one; the other disappears. But one remains.” W-pI.130.5
Heaven, we are told, is only related to the eternal state and this dream state is only a temporary residence until we awaken. We must awaken to fully enter heaven.
But then the Course throws in another odd teaching that we must enter into the equation of truth.
“There is no need for help to enter Heaven for you have never left. But there is need for help beyond yourself as you are circumscribed by false beliefs of your Identity, which God alone established in reality.” C-5.1
Then it speaks of “The Holy Spirit, seeing where you are but knowing you are elsewhere” (heaven) T-14.II.2
Many Course students take the unusual view that they are already in heaven because they never left, even though they see themselves in the mirror every day, earn a living and take care of their bodies.
This quote sheds some more understanding:
“So is all reality, being of Him. The instant the idea of separation entered the mind of God’s Son, in that same instant was God’s Answer given. In time this happened very long ago. In reality it never happened at all.” M-2.2
So then, there are two places where events occur. One is in “reality” where heaven is, and the other is in “time” where the dream is taking place. Several times the Course makes it sound as if the separation never occurred at all when it is really saying it did not happen in the reality which it calls heaven. It does, however, say that the separation became “a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects.” T-27.VIII.6
The real effect was the creation of a universe in time and space where that which is perceived seems to be very real. Because everything in this world has a beginning and an end, events here are not considered real happenings from the celestial point of view. Even the birth and death of a star, lasting billions of years, is not considered real because, after it is gone, it is as if it had never been. In the eternal world, creations never come and go but always remain, says the Course.
Understanding this is a key to shedding light on the supposed contradictions that cause students to come up with widely different interpretations. Here is what the Course seems to be saying:
In the overall picture, heaven only consists of that which is eternal. Everything that is not eternal is not real or a part of heaven. Therefore, nothing in the illusion (or our created universe) has any connection with heaven.
How then do we explain the passages that tell us that heaven is available now in this world of dualities? To answer that question, we must look to see where heaven can be found within this realm of time and space.
Where is this illusive place?
Answer: It is within you. Even though you are trapped in the world of illusions, within yourself in the eternal present is heaven which has never not been there.
This was taught by Jesus 2000 years ago:
“Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21
Indeed. “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.” T-18.VI.1
And where do we find this Oneness while we are still here in the world?
“In you is all of Heaven.” T-25.IV.5
“What is within your brother still contains all of creation, everything created and creating, born and unborn as yet, still in the future or apparently gone by. What is in him is changeless, and your changelessness is recognized in its acknowledgment.” T-24.VII.2
So, within ourselves, as well as our brothers and sisters, is a place beyond physical dimensions where our true Source resides that has never left heaven. Even while we are in this deep sleep and dreaming, we can stop, pay attention to the life within and get a taste of heaven. There we will find “a sense of peace so deep that no dream in this world has ever brought even a dim imagining of what it is.” T-13.XI.3
“You will awaken to your own call, for the Call to awake is within you.” T-11.VI.9
So, the power to awaken enough to become aware of heaven is within us, but must be activated by our own consciousness and will.
“For what you chose to ‘sell’ had to be kept for you, since you could not ‘buy’ it back. Yet you must invest in it, not with money but with spirit. For spirit is will, and will is the “price” of the Kingdom. Your inheritance awaits only the recognition that you have been redeemed.” T-12.IV.7
“The changelessness of Heaven is in you, so deep within that nothing in this world but passes by, unnoticed and unseen. The still infinity of endless peace surrounds you gently in its soft embrace, so strong and quiet, tranquil in the might of its Creator, nothing can intrude upon the sacred Son of God within.” T-29.V.1
And how do we find this heaven within? That is what the Course is all about, especially the lessons in the Workbook. But catching a glimpse through inner contact is merely the first step. Eventually, our consciousness must shift to the Real World, a way of seeing things as they are. Then when we are ready God Himself will take the final step:
“The final step is God’s, because it is but God Who could create a perfect Son and share His Fatherhood with him. No one outside of Heaven knows how this can be, for understanding this is Heaven itself.” T-30.V.4
“When you perceive yourself without deceit, you will accept the real world in place of the false one you have made. And then your Father will lean down to you and take the last step for you, by raising you unto Himself.” T-11.VIII.15
Some students get caught up in the idea that we are not here, but are 100% in heaven now since the Course indicates the body and the world are not real, but consider this:
“The body is merely part of your experience in the physical world. Its abilities can be and frequently are overevaluated. However, it is almost impossible to deny its existence in this world. Those who do so are engaging in a particularly unworthy form of denial.” T-2.IV.3
Denying this physical reality including the body and insisting you are in heaven is not helpful. You will not be fully in heaven until you first see the real world followed by the Father taking you there. What is fully here is the heaven within the core of your being that must be realized.
When the Course tells us that the Son is in heaven, we must remember that the Son is composed of billions of units here on this planet and trillions from other planets. As explained earlier, not all the Sons experienced the separation; so many units of the One Son never entered the dream. We are told that God is lonely until all the Sons return, so, from the world of time, the separation did happen and our awareness is not completely in heaven. If it were, our very bodies would disappear as the Course says happened to Jesus after the crucifixion according to this account:
“My body disappeared because I had no illusion about it. The last one had gone. It was laid in the tomb, but there was nothing left to bury. It did not disintegrate because the unreal cannot die. It merely became what it always was. And that is what “rolling the stone away” means. The body disappears, and no longer hides what lies beyond. It merely ceases to interfere with vision. To roll the stone away is to see beyond the tomb, beyond death, and to understand the body’s nothingness. What is understood as nothing must disappear.
“I did assume a human form with human attributes afterwards, to speak to those who were to prove the body’s worthlessness to the world. This has been much misunderstood. I came to tell them that death is illusion, and the mind that made the body can make another since form itself is an illusion. They did not understand. But now I talk to you and give you the same message. The death of an illusion means nothing. It disappears when you awaken and decide to dream no more. And you still do have the power to make this decision as I did.
“God holds out His hand to His Son to help him rise and return to Him. I can help because the world is illusion, and I have overcome the world. Look past the tomb, the body, the illusion. Have faith in nothing but the spirit and the guidance God gives you. He could not have created the body because it is a limit. He must have created the spirit because it is immortal. Can those who are created like Him be limited? The body is the symbol of the world. Leave it behind. It cannot enter Heaven. But I can take you there anytime you choose. Together we can watch the world disappear and its symbol vanish as it does so. An then, and then… I cannot speak of that.
“A body cannot stay without illusions, and the last one to be overcome is death. This is the message of the crucifixion; there is no order of difficulty in miracles. This is the message of the resurrection: Illusions are illusions. Truth is true. Illusions vanish. Only truth remains.
“These lessons needed to be taught but once, for when the stone of death is rolled away, what can be seen except an empty tomb? And that is what you see who follow me into the sunlight and away from death, past all illusions, on to Heaven’s gate, where God will come Himself to take you home.” From “Special Messages”, by Jesus…Additional material through Helen Schuchman. Also quoted in Absence From Felicity by Ken Wapnick
So, we can get a glimpse of heaven while still here on earth where form is perceived, but as long as we still perceive form (which all reading this do) then our awareness is not completely in heaven. Concerning entrance, an important point overlooked is “no one can enter Heaven by himself.” W-pI.134.17
“Together is your joint inheritance remembered and accepted by you both. Alone it is denied to both of you. … you may not fully understand as yet that you could never be released alone.” T-31.II.11
Yet how many ACIM students have gone it alone thinking they have fully entered heaven? The Course says this cannot be done. Furthermore, to enjoy the complete fruits of heaven, all the Sons must return:
“It should especially be noted that God has only one Son. If all His creations are His Sons, every one must be an integral part of the whole Sonship. 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
All the parts have to awaken before there is a fullness to be had. Perhaps this is the reason that even Jesus, according to the Course, is not fully there. One thing we know for sure is that he is still involved enough in the dream to be aware of what is happening here and to construct an entire Course related to it and transmit it to Helen Schucman, a person who was still perceiving in the dream.
Jesus himself tells us that, “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
So even of him it is written that only part of his Being (hands) is in heaven while another part (feet) are anchored on the earth, else he could not be a part of the great work to bring all the Sons of God home.
We are not there yet but through applying the principles of the Course such as love, forgiveness and letting go of guilt we can get a taste of heaven here, and this will give us impetus to move forward no matter what our belief system on other matters.
Read the Introduction HERE, Read Chapter One HERE. Chapter Two HERE, Chapter Three HERE, Chapter Four HERE, Chapter Five HERE Chapter Six HERE, Chapter Seven HERE, Chapter Eight HERE, Chapter Nine HERE, Chapter Ten HERE, Chapter Eleven HERE, Chapter Twelve HERE, Chapter Thirteen HERE, Chapter Fourteen HERE, Fifteen HERE, Sixteen HERE, Seventeen HERE, Eighteen HERE, Nineteen HERE, Twenty HERE, Twenty-One HERE, Twenty-Two HERE, Twenty-Three HERE, Twenty-Four HERE, Twenty-Five HERE, Twenty-Six HERE, Twenty-Seven HERE, Twenty-Eight HERE, Twenty-Nine HERE, Thirty HERE
ACIM Conversations, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25
Copyright by J J Dewey
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