Could the Separation Happen Again?

Question: Once we awaken at the end of the journey, is it possible that we could fall asleep and lose ourselves in the dream of separation again?

Answer:  This is a question many Course students ask. Many traditions, especially Eastern traditions like Hinduism and Buddhism, have a cyclical view of the cosmos. In this view, the One differentiates into the many, the many come back together into the One, the One differentiates into the many again, and so on. This cycle repeats again and again, each repetition taking eons as we reckon time. Does the Course have a similar view?

Based on what the Course itself says, I would say the answer is no. There is no mention anywhere in the Course of the process of falling into separation and then returning to God repeating itself. Indeed, this repetition would be contrary to the Course’s consistent teaching that the separation will definitely come to an end. If separation happened again and again forever, then it would never really come to an end. The Course, then, is more in line with a tradition like Christianity (the tradition the Course is most closely related to), a tradition in which the cosmic drama unfolds only once.

In the Course’s version of that drama, “very long ago” (M-2.2:7) we fell asleep in Heaven and entered a dream of separation. At that very instant, God created the Holy Spirit, Who woke us up and returned our minds to God. However, a part of our minds has not fully accepted this, so we now seem to be immersed in a timeline that has extended billions of years so far. We now seem to be on a journey of gradual awakening over time. The time when we fully awaken “can be a long, long way off” (M-1.2:9), but the Course assures us that our full awakening is inevitable. However long it takes, we will reunite our minds as one Son of God (the Second Coming), set aside everything that is not of God once and for all (the Last Judgment), and be lifted out of the dream of separation entirely, fully awakening to the Heaven we never really left (the final step).

Now, to our question: Could the whole drama happen again? A passage in the Text strongly suggests that the answer is no:

[The Holy Spirit] came into being with the separation as a protection, inspiring the Atonement principle at the same time. Before that there was no need for healing, for no one was comfortless. The Voice of the Holy Spirit is the Call to Atonement, or the restoration of the integrity of the mind. When the Atonement is complete and the whole Sonship is healed there will be no Call to return. But what God creates is eternal. The Holy Spirit will remain with the Sons of God, to bless their creations and keep them in the light of joy. (T-5.I.5:2-7)

Here we have a snapshot of the entire story. As soon as the separation happened (or seemed to happen), the Holy Spirit came into being as a protection for our minds. As long as we are in the dream of separation, He is the Call to Atonement, the Call to return our whole minds to God. We will inevitably answer this Call; the Atonement will one day be complete, and the entire Sonship will be healed. At this point, the Holy Spirit will be out of a job, because there’s no longer any need for a Call to return. However, we are told here that once we have all returned to God, the Holy Spirit will be given another job: He “will remain with the Sons of God, to bless their creations and keep them in the light of joy.” That last phrase especially—”keep them in the light of joy”—suggests that once we return, His job will be to keep the light on for us, to keep us from falling asleep and losing ourselves in the dream of separation again.

This is incredibly good news to me, for I’ve always found the cyclical view depressing. Falling from the joy of Heaven into the pain of separation is bad enough when it happens just once; the idea of it happening again and again and again, ad infinitum, sounds like a never-ending nightmare, like the movie Groundhog Day without the happy ending. What a relief to be told that when we finally awaken and enter the gates of Heaven after our long journey, “Here will time end forever” (S-1.V.4:4). There is no going back to the nightmare we left behind; now and forever, we will “enter in and disappear into the Heart of God” (W-pII.14.5:5).

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