“Today we pass illusions by. And if we hear temptation call to us to stay and linger in a dream, we turn aside and ask ourselves if we, the Sons of God, could be content with dreams, when Heaven can be chosen just as easily as hell, and love will happily replace all fear.” Workbook, page 432, Lesson 272.
Maybe we don’t really believe life is an illusion; it seems so real, tangible and solid. Maybe we also don’t really believe that we are all God’s sons. Perhaps we think that only Jesus had this honour. But if we thoroughly take in the teachings of A Course in Miracles, we will realise that we are all God’s sons; this is repeated over and over again. We will also realise that anything and everything in the world of form is an illusion. This, too, is repeated umpteen times in the Course. So, if we accept the fact that we are God’s sons and that all that we see with our eyes is an illusion, then we probably would agree that it doesn’t make much sense to linger too long in a world of dreams.
The first thing to do as Course students in our quest for salvation is to look firmly and squarely at our lives and realise that everything in them is an illusion. As we read in Chapter 11 on page 202: “No one can escape from illusions unless he looks at them, for not looking is the way they are protected....What is healing but their removal of all that stands in the way of knowledge? And how else can one dispel illusions except by looking at them directly, without protecting them...”
Our lives are filled with what the Course refers to as “idols”. These are things we think will bring us happiness but, even if they do, they could keep us from awakening and finding our way back Home, unless we are very vigilant. The ego’s purpose of idols is exactly that—to keep us trapped in the illusion instead of becoming healed and aware that we are still as we were when God created us. “...To seek a special person or a thing to add to you to make yourself complete, can only mean that you believe some form is missing. And by finding this, you will achieve completion in a form you like. This is the purpose of an idol; that you will not look beyond it, to the source of the belief that you are incomplete...” T631. If we are honest with ourselves we will acknowledge that we search for the perfect partner, the perfect job or house or car or piece of jewellery to make us feel better about ourselves. But we have no need to find external things to boost our worth because we are all holy sons of God, whole and complete as we were when He created us.
“No one who comes here but must still have some hope, some lingering illusion, or some dream that there is something outside of himself that will bring happiness and peace to him. If everything is in him this cannot be so. And therefore by his coming, he denies the truth about himself, and seeks for something more than everything, as if a part of it were separated off and found where all the rest of it is not...” T617. This last sentence deals with the fact that we feel we are individual beings, separated from each other, which, we are told, we are definitely not. The problem is that if we continue searching for idols within the illusion we will end up trapped. “The lingering illusion will impel him to seek out a thousand idols, and to seek beyond them for a thousand more. And each will fail him, all excepting one; for he will die, and does not understand the idol that he seeks is but his death. Its form appears to be outside himself. Yet does he seek to kill God’s Son within, and prove that he is victor over him. This is the purpose every idol has, for this the role that is assigned to it, and this the role that cannot be fulfilled.” T618. The last two sentences of this passage refer to the ego’s desire to take the place of God and make sure we turn away from our true Self, which resides within us in the “right” portion of our split minds.
It may sound pessimistic but we need to really be aware of the ultimate futility of life in order to be encouraged to awaken. Life is futile because it is brief, repetitive in nature and it inevitably ends in death. Ken Wapnick, in his interesting book From Futility to Happiness points out on page 16, “The value of A Course in Miracles lies only in helping us to recognize that there is nothing worthwhile here. Otherwise, we condemn ourselves to a life of futility, struggling against the impossible, somehow believing we can conquer it, never realizing that the world is set up to be impossible; a place there things do not work forever...”
It’s precisely because we fail to recognise that there is nothing worthwhile in this world, that we are not motivated to awaken. “Who would be willing to be turned away from all the roadways of the world, unless he understood their real futility? Is it not needful that he should begin with this, to seek another way instead? For while he sees a choice where there is none, what power of decision can he use?” T654. Recognising that we don’t really have any real choices in this world is very important. It appears that we do have many choices but all the choices we make are within the illusion, i.e., we are simply replacing one illusory thing with another, and this is a pointless thing to do. “There is no choice where every end is sure. Perhaps you would prefer to try them all, before you really learn they are but one. The roads this world can offer seem to be quite large in number, but the time must come when everyone begins to see how like they are to one another....All must reach this point and go beyond it...” T653.
We have a resistance to acknowledging the futility of our lives because firstly, there are many events that do seem meaningful, e.g., marriage, the birth of a child, a successful career, exotic holiday, etc. Secondly, fear is a major obstacle. If our lives are ultimately meaningless and unreal, what is the alternative? The alternative is unknown and the unknown, understandably, arouses fear in us. Yet, Jesus frequently assures that the end of our world is nothing to be feared. “The final judgement on the world contains no condemnation. For it sees the world as totally forgiven, without sin and wholly purposeless. Without a cause, and now without a function in Christ’s sight, it merely slips away to nothingness. There it was born, and there it ends as well. And all the figures in the dream in which the world began go with it. Bodies now are useless, and will therefore fade away, because the Son of God is limitless.” W455. That’s not so scary; the world and our bodies will merely fade away upon completion of all our forgiveness lessons.
One could become despondent if one focuses on the futility of life on earth. But ACIM offers us hope and promises a much better future, “This is God’s Final Judgement: ‘You are still My holy Son, forever innocent, forever loving and forever loved, as limitless as your Creator, and completely changeless and forever pure. Therefore awaken and return to Me. I am your Father and you are My Son.’” W455. Knowing that, illusions can no longer be satisfying. And those who have discovered that it’s all an illusion should rejoice because they have taken the first step Home. Whilst we make our way back home there is no harm in enjoying what this illusory world has to offer, but it is important to remember to practice the teachings of the Course and to remember that our ultimate goal is to awaken from the dream of separation.
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