“What keeps the world in chains but your beliefs? And what can save the world except your Self? Belief is powerful indeed. The thoughts you hold are mighty, and illusions are as strong in their effects as is the truth...” Workbook page 242, Lesson 132.
This lesson is all about changing our perception of the world and everything in it. Above all, we have to accept the fact that the world of form is unreal. This is, obviously, a very difficult concept because the world of form seems so real. We have to rely on our faith in Jesus and his teachings in A Course in Miracles to accept that all the things that the eyes of the physical body perceive are, in actual fact, non-existent, and we have to recognise that we have been hallucinating or dreaming. “....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....” ACIM, Workbook, p. 243.
Once we are ready to accept the illusory nature of everything around us, then we have the mammoth task of changing our beliefs about everything. As Lesson 132 explains, “....Today’s idea is true because the world does not exist. And if it is indeed your own imagining, then you can loose it from all things you ever thought it was by merely changing all the thoughts that gave it these appearances. The sick are healed as you let go all thoughts of sickness, and the dead arise when you let thoughts of life replace all thoughts you ever held of death.” ACIM, Workbook, p. 243.
What does this mean in practical terms? It means seeing sickness and death and knowing that they aren’t really happening. This is not an easy thing to do. It may help to say to oneself this is just a dream of sickness or this is just a dream of death. Then one has to call upon the help of Jesus or the Holy Spirit and ask to be freed from one’s illusions. We have to ask for help to be returned to our right minds because we have been living in our wrong minds for so long that it has become a habit. And, as the American philosopher Napoleon Hill once said, “First you get a habit and then the habit gets you.”
Chapter 11 of the Text dwells at length upon the illusory nature of the world. We are told that we are lost here without a guide, because the ego can never be relied upon to guide us back to Heaven. Its very survival depends upon us not awakening from the dream and freeing ourselves from its clutches. “You do not know the meaning of anything you perceive. Not one thought you hold is wholly true. The recognition of this is your firm beginning. You are not misguided; you have accepted no guide at all...” ACIM, Text, p. 211.
The Course is telling us that we can’t awaken until we change our thoughts about the world of the ego. “....The world that seems to hold you prisoner can be escaped by anyone who does not hold it dear. Withdraw all value you have placed upon its meagre offerings and senseless gifts, and let the gift of God replace them all.” ACIM, Workbook, p. 231.
In other words, we are being asked to detach from the world of form; an analogy can be made here with Buddhism and Hinduism, as detachment and dispassion are at the heart of the teachings of these two religions. The following verses taken from The Crest-Jewel of Wisdom, by the Indian philosopher Adi Sankara, reinforce very well the message of Lesson 132 of ACIM:
“There is no freedom for him who is full of attachment to the body and its like; for him who is free, there is no wish for the body and its like; the dreamer is not awake, he who is awake dreams not; for these things are the opposites of each other.
Cut off all hope in sensual objects which are like poison, the cause of death; abandon all fancies of birth and family and social state; put all ritual actions far away; renounce the illusion of self-dwelling in the body, center the consciousness on the Self. Thou art the seer, thou art the stainless, thou art in truth the supreme, secondless Eternal.”
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