A Course in Miracles Lesson 53

The world is a series of images made by that which is incapable of accurately perceiving reality. It is impossible for us to be happy in the world because the world is not real but also because the mind which made it is unhealed. It has no idea what is actually going on.

The fact that I see a world in which there is suffering and loss and death shows me that I am seeing only the representation of my insane thoughts, and am not allowing my real thoughts to cast their beneficent light on what I see. Yet God’s way is sure (W-pI.53.5:4-5).

Because we have forgotten what we are in truth, we have forgotten how to use the creative power of our shared mind. It’s like we’re a single leaf trying to pretend it’s the whole tree. It can’t work because it’s not true.

What is producing this world is insane, and so is what is produces. Reality is not insane, and I have real thoughts as well as insane ones (W-pI.53.1:3-4).

The promise A Course in Miracles makes is that despite the mistaken identity and fearful world, and despite the intensity of the suffering that attends it, we have not lost our actual identity. Reality remains unchanged and unaffected by our confusion. A single leaf can say and do whatever it likes in its vain attempts to “be” a tree but it cannot destroy the tree of which it is a part.

So there is a way out of madness. We need not despair. We have made the world and the self and we believe they are real because we made them. Yet we can always make another choice, one that arises in love and reaffirms love as our source.

. . . I place my trust in reality. In choosing this, I will escape all the effects of the world of fear, because I am acknowledging that it does not exist (W-pI.53.3:7-8).

This shift is not like throwing a light switch (though technically it can be). It’s more like a gentle evolution unfolding in time. We see a little light, step towards it and . . . turn back to the darkness of guilt and fear.

And then start again.

This is the path that we follow as ACIM students. It’s not a crisis. The lessons are gentle reminders that our work is simply to our best to remember – moment by moment – that God did not create a meaningless world and so our suffering is entirely optional.

This is good news! The more so because it actually works when brought into application. Our journey through the workbook is a journey from darkness to light, from guilt to grace, and from fear to love. We want no other journey and no other journey becomes us. No other journey leads us home because this journey is our home.

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  1. Hi Sean,

    I hope you’re keeping well and safe. I’ve been reading your posts since I started the daily lessons. Your posts are hugely helpful as they give me an insight into another person’s journey and seem to deepen my interpretation of the Course. I decided to get in touch as I’ve found today’s review (lesson 53) to be quite challenging and I was hoping you could give me your perspective.

    I’ve mostly found that my sense of peace has gradually been increasing and the incessant chatter in my head has slowly started to subside. I think in part this may be because we are in lockdown here in the UK and so I haven’t been exposed to the usual ‘challenges’ of this life.

    I am currently unemployed and have been for a year or so. I had an interview today which I don’t feel went as well as it could have and I’m no longer sure the role is right for me or vice/versa. In addition, I had an encounter with someone who I found to be quite difficult and their actions (although possibly understandable) may halt the little money that I do have coming in.

    The lessons in today’s review (in particular My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world, I am upset because I see a meaningless world, A meaningless world engenders fear) were difficult for me to feel in my heart. I kept thinking “Well, I am fearful. I may run out of my savings soon and lose my house”, or “I don’t know how to interpret today’s situations in a way that brings me peace or certainty that things will turn out ok. What if I don’t start generating an income soon??”.

    I don’t quite know how to think differently in order for my situation to change. Part of me wonders whether I will end up homeless and have to come to accept that I was too attached to my home. My thoughts are spiralling a little (as you may well be able to tell!) so I was keen to get somebody else’s perspective and your insights have proven to be valuable for me.

    I hope you can help.

    Thank you


    1. Hi Alice,

      Thank you for sharing and for being honest. When our lives shift in directions that are scary and destabilizing, the potential arises for deep learning.

      I want to say two things here.

      First, it’s okay to be scared and upset when the circumstances of our lives makes us scared and upset. We are not called to ignore either the circumstances of our lives in the world or their effects.

      Second, nothing is actually happening to what you are in truth. What you are in truth remains perfectly safe, fully at peace and totally happy.

      All we really do as students of A Course in Miracles is remind ourselves of the second statement and then try to the best of our ability to respond to our life in the world.

      You are a perfectly-created Child of a Loving God. You are not a body and there is no world. Remind yourself of this as often as possible.

      When I do this at the level of the body and the world, I find that some – not all but some – of the stress and anxiety in the experience of body/world subsides.

      When the little bit of that stress/anxiety subsides, then I can see more clearly, and the clarified seeing often reveals so-called solutions to the so-called problems.

      These often involve me – as in Sean, the egoic self, the body in the world – doing things for other people. Sometimes making amends for things I’ve said or done, sometimes looking for somebody who’s got it worse and offering them assistance (a hug, a meal, whatever), and sometimes swallowing my pride and asking others for help.

      Ken Wapnick used to say that in any life circumstance – from the biggest problem to the smallest – can we make it about the other person? Can we look around, see who else is in our life right at this very moment, right in this very space, and try our best to make them feel joy and peace?

      Although his focus was much different, Tara Singh had a similar conviction that helping others – through service – was essential to inner peace.

      In other words, here in these bodies in this world, it seems to be a good idea to try and find ways to help others, offer love to others, share with others, listen to others et cetera. It’s still an illusion but it seems to undo some of the worse effects of the illusion. It seems to bring light to the shadows of confusion and fear.

      In other words, we don’t deny the scary stuff. We don’t pretend to have answers. We just remind ourselves that we’re having a bad dream and then – in the context of that dream – try to be as loving and gentle as possible.

      The pandemic has decimated both my work and my wife’s and our financial situation has been touch-and-go for months. Later today I have to make a phone call to try and manage a very challenging financial situation. I’m scared, frustrated, impatient, et cetera . . .

      But also, not scared at all 🙂


      Because your question this morning allowed me to remember that I am not a body and that this “life” is an illusion. I am deeply grateful to you for reminding me to give attention not to my fear and frustration but to the individual on the other end of the phone call, and to do all I can to make this experience a sane and peaceful one for them. It is unconditionally the lesson I needed to hold in mind this morning.

      Thank you for helping me remember how to navigate this nightmare – for being a light in the darkness.

      Do you see how that happens?

      The circumstances of your living will always change, always come and go. Now good, now less good now bad. You are not that! You are not even subject to that! You are the gentle voice inside that said “ask Sean a question.” Not because Alice needed the answer Sean would offer but because Sean needed to remember what Love always knows.

      Trust that voice, Alice. It is Love Itself and it is always speaking to you, always gently saying “go here, do this, try that.” There is nothing before you that it cannot handle.

      Keep in touch!


  2. Thank you both for your service. To admit we are of service in our troubles is a hard step 1 (the unconicous aspect, that “I didn’t do this and how pandering to add pretending I can admit it and/or it’s for others’ help”). Take the having children analogy, how do they healthily be made aware they were not the ones who’s sake parenting is done for, but it is just the opportunity to do (parenting onward) for another? The children can’t help imagining as the object of that attention that it might be for them (especially since the parenting does get done unconciously as “for MY child”, and not just the abstract for, that happens to radiate in the child’s direction). To admit we are still innocent and to let others do for us, well I think maybe we are “forced” into our troubles only for that. In the admission that we are of service no matter what, “a” trouble transforms, because every moment is equal, no graces that answer “a” trouble are needed to answer a presumption of “real” troubles. Instead, there’s a dance, or even like sex, where the giving feels good and to let someone else give is the receiving pleasure (still a giving) and the two I guess birth something in between. But only Now. Thanks for letting me see your dance, and letting me share.

    1. Thanks Mike . . . it’s a big deal when we realize that ego’s icon of The One is *not the one. And then settling into the anonymity of equality, sameness . . . It took me a long time to realize that service includes the willingness to be served, not like a King or Queen, but like one who is broken or lost or confused . . . I still resist this! Thanks for shedding some helpful light on that . . .

      1. Yes, and simply loveable. When biting the hand that loves us is reflexive, it’s a long hard road that seems to undo that. But do unto others, right?, so I’m willing to let being lovable be reflexive. Thanks for extending a safe hand (that returns love to being palatable).

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