What God did not create does not exist. (W-14.1)
The world is full of suffering. Even for those who can say that their lives have been pretty smooth and trauma-free so far, there is still at least a slight sense of unease that permeates our human existence. The fact that the body does not last forever is reason enough to live in fear. We are born to die, it seems like. And between birth and death we are trapped in a world full of violence, ignorance, poverty, abuse, war, envy, jealousy, anger, depression…There is beauty in this world, of course, but if we are honest with ourselves, we can’t ignore all the ugliness that seems to be everywhere around us, if not in our own lives.
Could a loving God have created a world of suffering? The even more perplexing question is: Why would a loving God create a world of suffering?
Traditional religion basically teaches that God created the world, but that we messed it up. This is why we spend our lives trying to get brownie points with God so that he doesn’t send us to hell. Can a life lived in this way be a life lived from love? Or is it a life lived from fear? Is a loving God happy when his children are afraid of his wrath? How can a loving God even be capable of being wrathful? And is a loving God capable of loving some of his children (and granting them heaven) but hating some of his children (and banishing them to hell)?
A Course in Miracles teaches us that God did not create this world. We did. Many Course students have a difficult time digesting this idea — because we have been conditioned by ego to think otherwise — but it is Jesus’ fundamental teaching and one that is absolutely necessary for understanding the Course and learning, or rather remembering, true forgiveness.
God created us as an extension of his mind. God, being love, can only extend itself and we are the result of that extension, which the Course calls Christ. So Christ is our true identity, and Christ is not separate from God or different than God. The course calls this non-dual state Heaven: perfect and complete unity with God, where there are no degrees, levels or hierarchies, and where there is no individuality, but only endless love that is beyond our limited human comprehension.
Residing in this perfect state of oneness, the Son of God (which is all of us) had a thought that he could separate himself from God and create unlike God creates. The Son of God basically wondered what it would be like to go out on his own and play God, much like children sometimes think they know better than their parents.
But how could that happen? How could a part of eternal, perfect love just cut itself off and become separate? Does that mean that the Son of God has more power than God does? God had no say in this and just let it happen? How could the impossible happen?
It didn’t. The thought of separation had no consequence whatsoever. But the Son of God thought that it did. We forgot to laugh at the silly and impossible thought that we could separate from God. We basically took this ridiculous idea so seriously that we’re still trapped in the illusion that it happened.
Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects. (T-27.VIII.6:2-3)
The separation never happened, but we got so entrenched in that idea that we’ve been believing ever since that it did happen. The Course tells us that “illusions are as powerful in their effects as is the truth.” We have been dreaming a dream of separation. The instant we had the thought that we could ditch God, we also felt an enormous sense of guilt for abandoning God and fear that God would punish us for having such an evil thought. So to escape God’s punishment for our “sin,” we thought into existence this world in which we would hide from God. This “tiny, mad idea” in the mind of the Son of God was the birth of the ego. The ego is nothing but a thought that separation from God is real and that return to God would result in God’s wrath.
What could God give but knowledge of Himself? What else is there to give? The belief that you could give and get something else, something outside yourself, has cost you the awareness of Heaven and of your Identity. (T-18.VI.1-2)
We dreamed this physical world into being so that we can “prove” to ourselves that our “tiny, mad idea” actually worked, although, of course, it didn’t. In this dream, we have created a world unlike God would create: it’s a world of time, where things are born and die, and where, instead of perfect oneness, there seem to be separate beings living in their private little worlds (bodies) and having their own separate interests. Jesus calls the idea “tiny” because it’s inconsequential and “mad” because it’s impossible. How can a dream ever affect reality?
Are you telling me that this life I’m living is a dream?! It’s seems so real! This is where many people reject the Course. But consider this: When you’re having a dream at night, you never doubt that what you’re experiencing is real. You may fly, or maybe you’re 20 years younger, or maybe you’re even speaking a foreign language — and you never, for even a moment, doubt that what you’re experiencing is real. Until you wake up, of course. Then you see that the experience, however real it seemed, was just a creation of your own mind. This is why self-realization, or enlightenment, is also called awakening or waking up.
Dreams show you that you have the power to make a world as you would have it be, and that because you want it you see it. And while you see it you do not doubt that it is real. Yet here is a world, clearly within your mind, that seems to be outside. You do not respond to it as though you made it, nor do you realize that the emotions the dream produces must come from you. It is the figures in the dream and what they do that seem to make the dream. 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 illusions of satisfaction would be gone. In dreams these features are not obscure. You seem to waken; and the dream is gone. Yet what you fail to recognize is that what caused the dream has not gone with it. Your wish to make another world that is not real remains with you. And what you seem to waken to is but another form of this same world you see in dreams. All your time is spent in dreaming. Your sleeping and your waking dreams have different forms, and that is all. Their content is the same. They are your protest against reality, and your fixed and insane idea that you can change it. In your waking dreams, the special relationship has a special place. It is the means by which you try to make your sleeping dreams come true. From this, you do not waken. The special relationship is your determination to keep your hold on unreality, and to prevent yourself from waking. And while you see more value in sleeping than in waking, you will not let go of it. (T-18.II.5)
Do you wake up from a dream in which your friend is mean and call your friend to tell him that you don’t appreciate his behavior? Of course not. You know the friend didn’t do anything in reality, but you dreamed he did. Understanding this is the basis of true forgiveness. The Course does not teach ego forgiveness, which it calls “forgiveness to destroy,” (I’ll forgive you because I’m a better person than you are), but true forgiveness, which releases your brother and you as you realize that what your brother seemingly did to you was just a part of your own dream. Forgiveness, in a true sense, is the remembering that this world is just a dream the Son of God is dreaming for a while, until he remembers that he never left God because his “tiny, mad idea” never happened.
As lesson 14 tells us: “What God did not create does not exist.” (W-14.1) This is a statement of release. This world of suffering is not real! How can that not be great news? And there’s a real world beyond the one we think we have created, one that was created for us out of perfect love, rather than fear, which is what we dreamed we built this world upon. We never left our true home; we have been safe with God this whole time.
You dwell not here, but in eternity. You travel but in dreams, while safe at home. (T-13.VII.17:6-7)
In each one of us there’s a sense of longing to connect with a reality other than this world we seem to experience with our physical senses. Ever since I was a child, I felt a longing to go home, never knowing where that home was. This section from lesson 182 is a beautiful description of that longing, and the sense of unease we all feel despite the material things we accumulate in vain hopes to build ourselves that perfect home.
This world you seem to live in is not home to you. And somewhere in your mind you know that this is true. A memory of home keeps haunting you, as if there were a place that called you to return, although you do not recognize the voice, nor what it is the voice reminds you of. Yet still you feel an alien here, from somewhere all unknown. Nothing so definite that you could say with certainty you are an exile here. Just a persistent feeling, sometimes not more than a tiny throb, at other times hardly remembered, actively dismissed, but surely to return to mind again.
No one but knows whereof we speak. Yet some try to put by their suffering in games they play to occupy their time, and keep their sadness from them. Others will deny that they are sad, and do not recognize their tears at all. Still others will maintain that what we speak of is illusion, not to be considered more than but a dream. Yet who, in simple honesty, without defensiveness and self-deception, would deny he understands the words we speak?
We speak today for everyone who walks this world, for he is not at home. He goes uncertainly about in endless search, seeking in darkness what he cannot find; not recognizing what it is he seeks. A thousand homes he makes, yet none contents his restless mind. He does not understand he builds in vain. The home he seeks can not be made by him. There is no substitute for Heaven. All he ever made was hell. (W-182)