The World an Illusion?

Question: I'm really struggling with the concept that this world is only an illusion, a dream. Do you have any suggestions that would help my mind grasp this concept?

Answer: According to the Course, the world's very purpose is to convince us that it is real. The world has done this job very well. Really seeing that it is unreal won't happen fully until the very end of the journey, so it isn't surprising that we struggle with this idea now.

The process of accepting this idea is just that—a process, one that will take us a long time. I think the first step is simply to open our minds to the possibility that it is true. One way to do this is to consider all the ways we can withdraw our minds from reality and convince ourselves that we are somewhere else. We are drawn into the story of a good book or movie. We lose ourselves in daydreams and fantasies. We engage in denial. We dream an entire world into apparent existence as we sleep. We can experience the past as if it were present, as elderly people with Alzheimer's often do. At the most extreme end, we can lose touch with consensual reality entirely—we can go insane, and withdraw completely into hallucinations. Especially in the more extreme versions of this phenomenon, it is usually only when we come out of the "somewhere else" and re-enter reality that we realize the "somewhere else" was unreal (I say "usually" because there are exceptions, like lucid dreaming). While we're actually in that unreal state, it feels totally real.

If our minds can do all this, then isn't it at least possible that our ability to withdraw from reality and convince ourselves that we are somewhere else is far greater than we realize? Isn't it possible that we've withdrawn our minds from the reality of Heaven and convinced ourselves that we are in this vast, collective dream we call the world? Isn't it possible that the reason we don't realize this is that we haven't come out of it yet, so it feels totally real to us?

Acceptance of this possibility opens our minds to experiences that slowly but surely convince us that this is not just a possibility, but the truth. The Course describes the process this way:

There is no world! This is the central thought the course attempts to teach. Not everyone is ready to accept it, and each one must go as far as he can let himself be led along the road to truth. He will return and go still farther, or perhaps step back a while and then return again.
But healing is the gift of those who are prepared to learn there is no world, and can accept the lesson now. Their readiness will bring the lesson to them in some form which they can understand and recognize. Some see it suddenly on point of death, and rise to teach it. Others find it in experience that is not of this world, which shows them that the world does not exist because what they behold must be the truth, and yet it clearly contradicts the world.
And some will find it in this course, and in the exercises that we do today. (W-pI.132.6:2-8:1)

As the last line says, the way some of us will come to recognize that there is no world is to walk the path of the Course. As we study its teaching, do its practices, and devote ourselves to our function of extending miracles to our brothers, we move closer and closer to this recognition. We first enter into the Course's version of lucid dreaming; as the Manual says, "Awareness of dreaming is the real function of God's teachers" (M-12.6:6). Then, at last, the day will come when we fully recognize that "There is no world!" and awaken to our reality in God.

Browse the FAQ archive. FAQ Topic: . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.