God did not create a meaningless world.
We are scared because we believe in a world that does not exist. Reality is hidden from us because we insist that we – and not God – know what meaning is and where it is to be found.
Lesson 14 is the calm reminder that the meaningless world made by the ego and insisted upon by the ego is merely a bad dream. It does not exist, because God does not create that way, and only what God creates exists.
The world you see has nothing to do with reality. It is of your own making, and it does not exist (W-pI.14.1:-5).
Although this is the lesson where the course first introduce the idea that “the world is not real” – what will become a core concept as we progress – here the focus is on the meaning we have given to this illusory world.
We are not being asked to undo the world, but rather to see the way in which the meaning we have assigned it is contrary to the meaning which God gives it.
Thus, we walk through a litany of what frightens and annoys us about the world – its war and starvation, its heart attacks and viruses. We name each of these – we are as specific as possible – and then we say gently that it is our invention, not God’s creation.
What God did not create is not real and therefore need not be feared. We are shifting our mind from passive builder of nightmares to willing co-creator of happiness.
I’d like to speak a little also to an early experience I had that involves this lesson. It has to do with how the course undid – painfully and abruptly – my concept of God.
When I first discovered A Course in Miracles, I loved it. It fascinated me; it fulfilled me. I was all in right away. Awakening, it seemed, was just a stone’s throw away. I was – as I had always suspected – a favored son of God about to be elevated to His right hand.
Then, one morning while walking my mind just crumbled. Abruptly – like falling into a cold lake – I realized that God as A Course in Miracles understood God was definitely not the God with whom I was familiar. The course was talking about a God that was wholly loving and creative in a real way, albeit a way incomprehensible to human thought. The God I believed in was an intelligent actor who controlled life the way I controlled chess boards. And he didn’t move pieces to win – he moved them because it pleased him. And sometimes pain and anguish was what pleased him. It was a god of punishment, a god of hate.
The difference between those two concepts of God is a canyon. I couldn’t believe that after all these years – therapy, meditation, Thomas Merton, steady churchgoing, ACIM – that I was still beholden to a God that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It was as if the course had drawn back a veil to reveal the inner horror show that drove me. I hated the course that day.
And so here’s what Lesson 14 does for me: it reminds me that I have not given up completely on the God with whom I grew up. No rational person – given a choice between a cruel and indifferent God and a perfectly loving one would choose the former. But I am not rational.
For some of us, dredging up a catalog of personal horrors isn’t a big deal. For me – for one simple reason – it was. Because in the deep place we rarely go – where we are so scared to shine the light – I believe that God did create those horrors. And they are lying in wait as punishment for my sins.
Each time I say God didn’t create cancer or war or whatever, a voice that responds, “oh yes he did. You know he made cancer and serial killers and random accidents that kill children. If you deny it, he’s going to get you.”
I know from an intellectual place how sad and pathetic that is. Please understand that! But I cannot deny its existence. Denying it means that it won’t be healed.
So what do we do? What did I do?
For starters, we own whatever it is that we want to deny or blame on others. We refuse to hide it. We say, “here you go, Jesus. You said there’s no order of difficulty in miracles? Well, I’ve got a doozy for you.”
And then we do the lesson. I just did it. I say to God, “this one? I don’t buy it. But I’ll do it. I’m not going to get anything out of it, but I’ll do it.” I follow it to the T – no more, no less. Tomorrow’s another day.
And there is something in all of that – owning it, being honest with Jesus or whatever symbol of Love works for us – that is peaceful unto itself. That’s all I can say. You face your demons and it doesn’t seem like Jesus or God does anything for you in that moment, but when it’s over you feel . . . normal. You can go home and make popcorn for the kids and play games. You can make a healthy dinner for the family instead of blacking out with booze. One foot after another. One little prayer after another. Something is working.
And then one day you realize those demons are gone, as if they were never real in the place. And you didn’t even hear them leave . . .
In the years since that dark morning – when I faced the God of my childhood in fear and trembling, unsure of the alternative – I have come to realize that a lot of healing takes place without our knowing it. I have gotten better at accepting this and at showing up, day after day. I often paraphrase Meister Eckhart who said that “the mind with which I know God is the mind with which God knows me.” There is peace and quiet – and even some gratitude – merely in our willingness to be in the process, however we define it. It is not our peace and quiet and gratitude. It is God’s For only what God makes is real.