Reading A Course in Miracles: The Illusion of Needs

The idea that we need anything – food, sex, used books, spiritual improvement techniques, medicine, chocolate, cheap wine – stem from the belief that we are in a state of permanent lack. Something is always missing, even when life is pretty good. There’s always another state that’s not this one, and in it we’d really be at peace and really be joyful and really celebrate the abundance to which we’re entitled.

That is a very basic – very primal – human drive. We want more, we want different. This section makes clear that this drive – this idea of needs – is a result of the separation, before which there were no needs because we had everything. We were perfect creations of God and we knew it. Being perfect, there was nothing we lacked. We were very much like Adam and Eve in their paradisal garden, before they entertained the possibility of separation.

Here is how A Course in Miracles puts it.

A sense of separation from God is the only lack you really need correct. This sense of separation would never have arisen if you had not distorted your perception of truth, and had thus perceived yourself as lacking. The idea of order of needs arose because, having made this fundamental error, you had already fragmented yourself into levels with different needs (T-1.VI.2:1-3).

The idea of orders of needs makes consistent and peaceful behavior all but impossible. We need food and drink. We need shelter. We need a job. We need friendship. We need physical intimacy. We need safe communities. The list is endless. And our efforts to attain each of these things distracts us from the only real need: remembering our unity with God. As we frantically pursue the perfect relationship and the ideal income and the enviable house, we pay only glancing attention to the only significant lack in our lives – that of communion with God.

So what do we do? Well, we pay attention. We slow down a bit. We try to have a personal relationship with Jesus – not based on scripture or gurus or spiritual texts but on prayer, on listening. If we are practicing the lessons of A Course in Miracles then we are learning to practice forgiveness – that is, we are learning to see the physical world and our lives in it as symbols of separation. But forgiving these – which is to see them with spiritual sight, with the Holy Spirit and Jesus – we are able to let them go. And in turn, Heaven – our true identity with God – shines a little brighter, a little more consistently.

That’s the meaning of the brief prayer at the end of this section. Only perfect love exists – everything else is product of fear and is thus an illusion (T-1.VI.5:7-8). Real freedom lies in accepting this fact.

One other note. I think the real gem of this section lies in the last line:”Only God can establish this solution, and this faith is His gift” (T-1.VI.5:10).

This section really ought to accompany Lessons 79 and 80 – there is only one problem and one solution. The solution to the separation is simply to accept that only perfect love – which is God – is real. And before we get all uptight about that – noting how abstract that is, how impossible to achieve, how it might work for some people but not for us, etc. – we are told that we don’t have to worry about it. It’s not a quandary that we have to solve or even understand.

It’s a gift of faith.

Our salvation is in God’s hands – and it’s already accomplished. We don’t have to do a thing. We literally do not have to do a thing. Our salvation exists perfectly in all levels of time and space. It’s been done. It was freely given and we already have it.

Yes, we are surely going to resist and struggle and reside in conflict a little longer. No doubt. But we don’t have to. That’s the point of this section. We don’t have to suffer. We never broke from God and he never got angry at us. Remembering that is the only job we have.

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