A Course in Miracles Text Made Simple

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Chapter 18: The Passing of the Dream

Section I: The Substitute Reality

Read ACIM Chapter 18, Section I (pages 372-75)

When are we making up a substitute reality?

Just think what it is like to be aware that everyone is, “joined and indivisible.” (2:2) Think what it is like to “not judge between them, knowing they are one.” (2:3) To apply this in your ‘life,’ take a moment to think of your family, friends and coworkers in this way. Remembering that truth is the real goal of all your relationships, think of each one as being the same extension of Love that you are… Remember the truth that each one is not unique and alone….

Jesus is letting us know in this section that when we are not remembering that everyone is the same, we are making up a substitute reality. We are choosing not to remember the all-inclusiveness of Love. “Nothing can come between what God has joined and what the Holy Spirit sees as one. But everything seems to come between the fragmented relationships the ego sponsors to destroy.” (2:7-8)

How is everyone seen when we look through the eyes of fear?

Not remembering the truth about Love — What we all really are — generates fear. Through the eyes of fear, “No one is seen complete. The body is emphasized, with special emphasis on certain parts, and used as the standard for comparison of acceptance or rejection for acting out a special form of fear.” (3:6-7) Unless we look closely at how this is working in our minds right now, we will not let these beliefs go because we think these perceptions of differences and uniqueness are just the natural order of things. We will not question these perceptions of individuality because we think the ‘substitute reality’ is what is real.

Why have we lost the awareness that we are still in Heaven?

Jesus wants us to clearly see the error in the way we are thinking and what this kind of thinking does to our peace of mind. He wants us to understand that we have made the thought system of separation supreme in our mind and this choice of making separation real has made us very fearful. It has caused us to lose the awareness that we are still in Heaven. “It has become so splintered and subdivided and divided again, over and over, that it is now almost impossible to perceive it once was one, and still is what it was. That one error, which brought truth to illusion, infinity to time, and life to death, was all you ever made.” (4:3-4) The one error that the Son of God made is wanting separation to be real instead of oneness. Jesus tells us, “Everything you see reflects [wanting separation to be real], and every special relationship that you have ever made is part of it. ...You do not realize the magnitude of that one error. It was so vast and so completely incredible that from it a world of total unreality had to emerge.” (4:6, 5:2-3) Because of the power of our mind, we have the ability to make illusions appear to be real.

Because Jesus knows he is one with us, he wants the part of the Sonship that thinks it is lost in dreams to know what is really going on when we see these hallucinations of separate bodies. He wants us to wake up to the truth. He wants us to return to the awareness of Heaven. That is why he brings this truth to us: “The world arose to hide [the error of wanting separation to be real], and became the screen on which it was projected and drawn between you and the truth.” (6:2)

He wants us to know about the error in our thinking, but he does not want us to feel guilty about this choice. He wants us to realize that nothing has ever really happened. That is why he emphasizes again and again in many ways: “Call [the error in thinking] not sin but madness, for such it was and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all be not afraid of it.” (6:7-9) Knowing about what Jesus is telling us in this section is one thing, but letting the errors in our thinking be undone is what is important.

How do we let the errors in our thinking be undone?

Process: Think of situations when your ‘life’ story was fearful for you. Become aware of how real it appeared to you…

Now think of circumstances when you believed in the reality of guilt, either in yourself or another… Become aware of how real it appeared to you…

Now think when you thought that this whole dream — your whole life script as a separate individual — was accomplished in reality….

Now, in your mind, imagine handing over all these thoughts to the Holy Spirit, Who knows what to do with them. Receive His comfort and insight about what is real…

Jesus knows that we have the ability to wake up from this dream of madness. He reinforces our innocence again and again and encourages us to see the innocence in every brother we see in the dream. Once we let it in that this is just a dream, we no longer need to fear it. We just need to see it as just a silly dream that never could be reality.

To help us with this letting go process, he gives us this important advice: “When you seem to see some twisted form of the original error rising to frighten you, say only, ‘God is not fear, but Love,’ and it will disappear. The truth will save you. It has not left you, to go out into the mad world and so depart from you. Inward is sanity, insanity is outside you. You but believe it is the other way; that truth is outside, and error and guilt within. Your little, senseless substitutions, touched with insanity and swirling lightly off on a mad course like feathers dancing insanely in the wind, have no substance. They fuse and merge and separate, in shifting and totally meaningless patterns that need not be judged at all. To judge them individually is pointless. Their tiny differences in form are no real differences at all. None of them matters.” (7:1-10)

After hearing this, go back to the process above and apply Jesus’ message to each part of the dream where you have been in fear, bought into the idea of guilt or thought that this insane dream was real… Now say to each circumstance: “None of this matters. I am still safe in Heaven, where God put me and where I belong.”

We remember that we, along with every brother, are still safe in Heaven as we are willing to be led by the Holy Spirit to the healing journey inward. This healing happens in our mind as we open to a place of inner quiet. In this quiet place in our mind, “The Holy Spirit takes you gently by the hand, and retraces with you your mad journey outside yourself, leading you gently back to the truth and safety within. He brings all your insane projections and the wild substitutions that you have placed outside you to the truth.” (8:3-4)

There is a holy place within our minds where truth resides. It is always there. It is always available to us. It calls to us to return Home, where we belong. We answer the call when we are willing to turn in quiet to the sanity within. “And turn you to the stately calm within, where in holy stillness dwells the living God you never left, and Who never left you.” (8:2) Here we are returned to the wholeness that alone is real. Here we are shown that we are joined with every brother, not as bodies, but as the same Thought in the one Mind of Love.

Earlier in the Text we are told that we are but an idea in the Mind of God. We are told that God is an Idea of perfect Love and we are joined with that same Idea. Bodies do not intrude upon this holy place of truth. “You are not joined together in illusions, but in the Thought so holy and so perfect that illusions cannot remain to darken the holy place in which you stand together. (10:7) All this awareness returns to us as we are willing to go to that sacred place of quiet within to receive the truth. “Heaven has entered quietly, for all illusions have been gently brought unto the truth in you, and Love has shined upon you, blessing your relationship with truth.” (11:2) Here we receive spiritual vision, which replaces what we see with the body’s eyes. Here we learn to see past separate bodies to the one Thought of Love that is always truly there. Here we recognize our holy function.

What is our holy function?

In paragraph 13 Jesus reminds us of our holy function: “You have been called, together with your brother, to the most holy function this world contains. It is the only one that has no limits, and reaches out to every broken fragment of the Sonship with healing and united comfort. This is offered you, in your holy relationship. Accept it there, and you will give as you accepted. The peace of God is given you with the glowing purpose in which you join with your brother. The holy Light that brought you and him together must extend, as you accepted It.” (13:1-6) Here we see that our holy function is to go within and receive the truth of our wholeness in the Mind of Love, and extend It to every brother. This is how we join with the Holy Spirit’s purpose as Comforter to every brother and do our part in God’s plan of Atonement. This is how we make every relationship holy. This is how we forgive, or let go of the substitute reality.

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Reference Keys for
A Course in Miracles Quotes

How to Read References for Quotes from A Course in Miracles

Below are example references to specific sentences using the notation of the Second & Third Editions of A Course in Miracles published by the Foundation for Inner Peace:

T-26.IV.4:7 = Text, Chapt. 26, Section IV, paragraph 4, sentence 7.

W-pI.169.5:2 = Workbook, Part I, Lesson 169, paragraph 5, sentence 2.

M-13.3:2 = Manual for Teachers, Question 13, paragraph 3, sentence 2.

C-6.4:6 = Clarification of Terms, Term 6, paragraph 4, sentence 6

The above numbering system of the Second & Third Editions is © Copyright 1992, The Foundation for A Course in Miracles.

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