The Mysteries of A Course in Miracles, Chapter 8

Chapter Eight
The Mad Idea

In the timeless beginning there was only God, but there was a problem. God was lonely and “God Himself did not will to be alone.” T-11.I.1

Since His will is all powerful, a solution in the form of an idea capable of manifesting came to mind. He would create a grand universe full of life, but it would be a unified life of many parts. Thus we are told that God “created you (the Son) out of Himself, but still within Him.” T-14.IV.4 and “The universe consists of nothing but the Son of God,” W-pI.183.10

So, God created a universe out of Himself by extending Himself with many parts but with one life, and called this masterpiece his “Only Son.”

In creating the Son, God took a great risk that may not have seemed obvious at the time. He made His Son like Himself and gave him all of his powers of mind, Spirit and creation. The Son would thus be a creator like the Father and cause a universal extension of all there is. The Son would give birth to other Sons and their Sons would create other Sons ad infinitum.

He also gave His Son free will like unto Himself. This seemed to be without risk because being like the Father, the Son could only create like himself within the universe of true reality. Every creation that is eternal and real has to be perfect and good, so what could go wrong?

Here is what the Course says went wrong.

“Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects.” T-27.VIII.6

The mad idea is explained somewhat here:

“Because of your likeness to your Creator you are creative. No child of God can lose this ability because it is inherent in what he is, but he can use it inappropriately by projecting. The inappropriate use of extension, or projection, occurs when you believe that some emptiness or lack exists in you, and that you can fill it with your own ideas instead of truth. This process involves the following steps:

First, you believe that what God created can be changed by your own mind.

Second, you believe that what is perfect can be rendered imperfect or lacking.

Third, you believe that you can distort the creations of God, including yourself.

Fourth, you believe that you can create yourself, and that the direction of your own creation is up to you.

“These related distortions represent a picture of what actually occurred in the separation, or the ‘detour into fear.’” T-2.I.1-2

This idea that we can create ourselves caused the creation of the ego, the false self that sees itself as separated from God and Spirit, but still has powers of the mind. Concerning this ego, the Course says:

“This is the Son of God’s replacement for his will, a mad revolt against what must forever be. This is the statement that he has the power to make God powerless and so to take it for himself, and leave himself without what God has willed for him. This is the mad idea you have enshrined upon your altars, and which you worship.” T-21.II.6

We are told that “The ego made the world” T-5.III.11 It turns out that this world the ego made is much different than the universe created by God. The main difference is that everything in God’s universe, our true home, is eternal, perfect and unchangeable. On the other hand, everything created by the ego is temporary, imperfect and will have an end. Even the stars which seem to be permanent to us will have an end, and their lifespan of billions of years is rated as only an instant compared to eternity.

The ego is most proud of its creation of the human body, for this is the vehicle of the ultimate separation from God according to the Course:

“God cannot come into a body, nor can you join Him there. Limits on love will always seem to shut Him out, and keep you apart from Him. The body is a tiny fence around a little part of a glorious and complete idea. It draws a circle, infinitely small, around a very little segment of Heaven, splintered from the whole, proclaiming that within it is your kingdom, where God can enter not.

“Within this kingdom the ego rules, and cruelly. And to defend this little speck of dust it bids you fight against the universe. This fragment of your mind is such a tiny part of it that, could you but appreciate the whole, you would see instantly that it is like the smallest sunbeam to the sun, or like the faintest ripple on the surface of the ocean. In its amazing arrogance, this tiny sunbeam has decided it is the sun; this almost imperceptible ripple hails itself as the ocean.” T-18.VIII.2-3

Because everything in the ego’s universe is temporary, it is not seen as real by the inhabitants of heaven. We are told that only that which is eternal is real and that all things with a beginning and an end are to be compared to a dream. The only difference is the dream of the Son is a longer more real dream than what we have at night, but compared to the eternal true reality, all the ego’s creations come and go in an instant, even if they last billions of years to us. It is notable that the Course uses the word “made” in reference to the ego’s creations and generally reserves the word “create” to refer to eternal things.

So, in a nutshell we have this situation. God extends Himself through His grand creation, looking forward to an eternity of love, peace and joy of sharing with His Beloved Son. Then something went wrong and the Son got a “mad idea” to make a world that was very different from heaven, one with dualities, time, space, pain, pleasure and much more. The Son thought this would be an interesting diversion. Indeed, in our reality children do not accept all the beliefs of their parents and often desire to do their own thing to the dismay of their parents. Apparently, this was also the case with Father and Son in heaven.

The standard interpretation by most Course students of what happened next goes something like this:

The Son (which includes all of us) fell asleep and entered into an illusion that was totally not real (earth life where we are now). The Son entered a world of nightmares where there was pain, guilt and attacks of every kind one can imagine, all ending in fear and death. What the Son did not realize when having all these nightmares was that he was only dreaming, while his real self was still safe in heaven.

Even so, the Father was deprived of full fellowship with His Son while he was in his dream world so He immediately came up with a solution. Since He could not enter the dream state without making it real, He created the Holy Spirit to awaken the Son. The Holy Spirit performed his job perfectly, and the whole nightmare was over in an eternal instant. The Son woke up and it is now as if nothing happened.

Strangely, many Course students repeat this idea almost like a mantra saying things like:

“The world has never existed.”

“I am not here.”

“Nothing here is real.”

“I am in heaven with God.”

“The separation never occurred.”

They say quite a number of things along this line. If a regular person unfamiliar with the Course were to overhear some conversations of ACIM students, he may think that calling the men in white would be in order. On the other hand, the students see general humanity as buying into an insane “mad idea” from which they need to awaken.

So, are students in alignment with Course teachings when they insist that nothing exists or has happened in this world? Some focus so intently on this idea that you cannot have a reasonable discussion with them about anything that is happening. Tell them about a friend who has cancer and they’ll merely respond that the cancer is not real and show no empathy for the suffering person. They may quote something from the Course such as “The guiltless mind cannot suffer.” T-5.V.5 He reasons that if the suffering person realized he was not here, there would be nothing to feel guilty about and nothing to suffer. Meanwhile, this idealist still has his own share of painful effects that he tries to ignore.

The problem is that the Course does seem to say some fairly radical things, but like all teachings, one has to look at the whole rather than the part to get the full picture. For instance, if all we knew about Jesus was the story of him giving the money changers a good whipping, then we wouldn’t be inclined to call him the Prince of Peace.

The Course does give teachings that lean in two directions at times, and the tendency of students is to pick one and support it while ignoring anything said to the contrary. We see this in the Bible with its teachings on faith and works. There are scriptures that indicate that all we need is faith to be saved and others say works is necessary. Those who pick a side will ignore anything to the contrary.

In speaking of non-existence, ACIM says this:

“The world you see does not exist, because the place where you perceive it is not real.” T-28.V.7

“Everything you made has never been” T-12.VIII.6

“The body is the symbol of what you think you are. It is clearly a separation device, and therefore does not exist.” T-6.V.A.2

These and numerous other passages tend to cause some students to tune out to the effects in this world to the extent that they go deeper into the illusion from which they wish to escape.

So, for students who believe that the separation did not happen, and we are not even here but in heaven, let me ask this:

How is it that you are reading this with physical eyes?

Why did Jesus come here to a place that does not exist and give A Course in Miracles to Helen Schucman, who does not exist?

Why did God create the Holy Spirit to deal with a problem that does not exist?

Why is “God is lonely without His Sons,” T-2.III.5 after the separation that never happened?


Obviously, the “never happened” crowd are missing a piece to the puzzle, for just denying our existence here does nothing to awaken us to the higher reality.

So, what is the truth of the matter?

The problem involved is one that has repeated itself in many teachings given out through the ages. When a master teacher gives out material designed to shift the thinking of the students, he will often place extra strong emphasis on key points. Without this emphasis, students are likely to gloss over the important principles and not make changes in their thinking. This strong emphasis has positive and negative effects. The positive is that it grabs students’ attention and makes them think. The negative is that some go overboard in embracing the emphasized teachings and miss the intended enlightenment.

A Course in Miracles indeed has one particular controversial teaching that needs strong emphasis to get the attention of students, which is this: This whole world is created by our minds similarly to how our dreams are created at night, and does not exist in the higher reality. Now most people who study the course are not esoteric students who see the world as illusion, as do the Buddhists, but are ordinary folk who have bought into the idea that this universe is as real as their eyes tell them it is. Therefore, the Voice of ACIM places extra strong emphasis on the idea that our world is not real.

Once this is understood, the next question to ponder is how the Course defines what is real and what is not.

The Course basically gives the following differentiation between what is real and what is illusion: Since God is eternal, that which He creates is also eternal and “only eternity is real.” UR T 1 B 22s That which is real has no beginning or end, but continues forever.

That which is not real exists in time and space and has a beginning and an end:

“The stars will disappear, and night and day will be no more. All things that come and go, the tides, the seasons and the lives of men; all things that change with time and bloom and fade will not return. Where time has set an end is not where the eternal is.” T-29.VI.2

Anything that exists in our visible universe will have an end, even the stars with lifetimes of billions of years. Compared to eternity, a billion years is an instant and when the star, the planet or the flower is gone, it has then merely passed as does a dream, and when gone is no more real than a dream. We read:

“Time and eternity cannot both be real, because they contradict each other. If you will accept only what is timeless as real, you will begin to understand eternity and make it yours.” T-10.V.14

“The separation is a system of thought real enough in time, though not in eternity. All beliefs are real to the believer.” T-3.VII.3

To see our universe as something that does not exist misses the point. The real point is that in the higher realty (the Course calls heaven), all attention is on eternal things that do not pass away and to awareness of those in heaven, it is as if our universe is not real. It only has a semblance of reality for the creator Son if he enters the dream state.

But consider this; even dreams have a reality to them. When you dream at night you are having a real experience, and often the influence of the dream will carry over into the waking state. If you are being chased by a monster, you may wake up sweating with a much faster heartbeat than normal. If you dream of a pleasant fantasy and wake up prematurely, you may want to go back to sleep for a while and continue the dream.

Yes, dreams are illusions and not real on a higher level; but when you are in them, you are having a real experience, and some dreams even have an influence on the waking state.

But, unlike our dreams at night, this greater dream is much more complex with very consistent effects. Our entrance into the dream “occurred over millions of years” T-2.VIII.2 says the Course. What could have motivated us to have entered into such a bold, extensive and lengthy venture?

Many reading the Course come to the conclusion that the Son (us) just had a crazy idea in a moment where he wasn’t thinking straight, but the dream was over in an instant and all is back to normal in heaven.

But what is overlooked is the Son shares the mind and intelligence of God, so this plunge into time and space was not done thoughtlessly. Just look at the complexity of our DNA in just one of the trillions of cells within the body and ask yourself if this and all creations in this world were made by some mindless, thoughtless being?

There is obviously more to the story than just a small temporary lapse of judgment on the part of the Son. We’ll cover this next.

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

Index for Original Archives

Index for Recent Posts

Easy Access to All the Writings

For Free Book go HERE and other books HERE

JJ’s Amazon page HERE

Gather with JJ on Facebook HERE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *