A Course in Miracles Text Made Simple

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Chapter 18: The Passing of the Dream

Section II: The Basis of the Dream

Read ACIM Chapter 18, Section II (pages 375-78)

What causes us to dream of separation from Heaven, where we are?

In this section, Jesus gives us invaluable insight into how the ego thought process works in our minds. He helps us see the basis of the dream, what causes it and what we are really joining with when we think we ‘have’ an ego — an individual self personality. To ‘have’ something is to ‘own’ it, think that it belongs to us. When we say, “My ego thinks or does this or that,” we are equating this as what we are thinking or what we are doing.

We identify with ‘having’ an ego because at some level, conscious or unconscious, we think it is cool. We want it. Jesus wants us to see what is really there, behind the sugar coating of ‘having’ an individual identity so that we will see what we are really ‘buying’ into. He wants us to see what we are ‘owning’ or thinking belongs to us.

What is happening when we think we are under attack by anything or anyone?

Jesus wants us to understand that when we believe in the ego thought system, we are buying into the idea that we can attack and be attacked. He is very clear about this when he tells us that the ego, “always looks upon itself, and therefore on you, as under attack and highly vulnerable to [attack].” (1:6)

Whenever we think we are under attack by anything we perceive as outside us, it is the ego thought system that we are joining with, not our true Reality. It is only by being willing to join with the idea of attack that we can ‘have’ dreams of attack. When we are willing to let go of the idea of attack (which is what the ego is), dreams of attack cannot come.

Jesus also wants us to see that our nighttime dreams and our daytime dreams are simply different aspects of the same dream of attacking and being attacked. We want specialness and so we dream dreams of being special and of having special others to give us what we want. But because every ‘special’ dream is really a dream of attacking our Reality, or God, the dream soon turns into a dream of anger and fear, which reflects its basis — the idea of attack. “Dreams are perceptual temper tantrums, in which you literally scream, ‘I want it thus!’ And thus it seems to be. And yet the dream cannot escape its origin. Anger and fear pervade it, and in an instant the illusion of satisfaction is invaded by the illusion of terror. For the dream of your ability to control reality by substituting a world that you prefer is terrifying.” (4:1-5)

Why do we make up such depressing dreams of hurt, loss and sickness?

Many people (including Course students) have quietly asked themselves, “Why does my life have to be such a struggle? Why does it seem to be so hard? If I’m controlling things, why am I so hard on myself in the dream?” In paragraph three Jesus says, “In dreams you arrange everything. People become what you would have them be, and what they do you order. No limits on substitution are laid upon you.” (3:4-6) If no limits on substitution are laid upon us, why are we so cruel to ourselves? Why do we make up such depressing dreams of hurt, loss and sickness? Jesus gives us the answer: “Your attempts to blot out reality [God] are very fearful, but this you are not willing to accept. And so you substitute the fantasy that reality [your true Identity as Love] is fearful, not what you would do to [Reality]. And thus is guilt made real.” (4:6-8) We are trying to smash Reality (God) and we feel guilty for it.

Thus it is the guilt that we have made unconscious that becomes the writer of the sick dreams we are dreaming. In our efforts to try to get rid of the guilt that we secretly believe is ours, we dream dreams of seeing the guilt in someone else. Jesus is telling us that this is why we dream dreams of being attacked by the guilty ones we see as outside of ourselves. “You do not realize that you are making them act out for you, for if you did the guilt would not be theirs, and the illusion of satisfaction [of seeing guilt in another] would be gone.” (5:6)

Jesus is helping us see how hopeless this attempt to project guilt really is. We are seeing that it will never work, no matter how long we try. Seeing guilt in another may seem to relieve the symptoms for awhile, but in our unconscious minds, the guilt is being held on to, not released. Seeing guilt in another just keeps us in hell. That is why only forgiveness, or letting go of the dream of guilt, releases us.

How does Jesus help us turn this into the happy dream?

The good news is Jesus gives us a way out of this dilemma that truly will work. He shows us how to let the Holy Spirit transform our dream of specialness into a dream of holiness, unity and peace. “The Holy Spirit, ever practical in His wisdom, accepts your dreams and uses them as means for waking. ... That is what the Holy Spirit does in the special relationship. He does not destroy it, nor snatch it away from you. But He does use it differently, as a help to make His purpose real to you.” (6:1,4-6)

The Holy Spirit’s purpose is always to remember the truth of everyone’s wholeness in God. “Your special relationship will be a means for undoing guilt in everyone blessed through your holy relationship. It will be a happy dream, and one which you will share with all who come within your sight. Through it, the blessing the Holy Spirit has laid upon it will be extended.” (7:1-3) So here we see what our real purpose is while we still appear to be in the dream. Instead of continuing the struggle of attacking God by trying to change what cannot be changed, we let the truth be what it is. We let the Holy Spirit show us every brother’s holiness instead of what we saw before. We let the Holy Spirit be in the driver’s seat, bringing healing to our mind. “He uses everyone who calls on Him as means for the salvation of everyone. And He will waken everyone through you who offered your relationship to Him. If you but recognized His gratitude! Or mine through His! For we are joined as in one purpose, being of one mind with Him.” (7:6-10)

As we join with Holy Spirit’s purpose, the wish to make dreams appear to be real will be gradually given up in favor of the Holy Spirit’s happy dream. Instead of wanting to see guilt, we want to see innocence. We want to see holiness. “Its coming [seeing holiness] means that you have chosen truth, and it has come because you have been willing to let your special relationship meet its conditions. In your relationship the Holy Spirit has gently laid the real world; the world of happy dreams, from which awaking is so easy and so natural.” (9:3-4) The real world reflects the truth of Heaven. The real world reflects forgiveness, the wish to see only innocence, which is the truth. When we change the basis of the dream through the Holy Spirit, sin disappears because we only want to see holiness, our true one Identity as Love.

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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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