A Course in Miracles: What are Illusions?

An illusion is an error in perception that we hold both about ourselves and the world. Illusions arise from the ego’s separation-based belief system. When we accept this system as real, and do not seek alternatives, the world resembles and behaves exactly as if separation were real. We act as if we are separate beings in competition and conflict with one another, rather thas as unified thoughts in the mind of God, whose only function is Love. All suffering comes from this.

A basic example of how illusion works is to consider the earth. It’s not actually flat but it does appear that way – or approximately that way – when we walk around on it. The woman in the magic trick is not actually being sawed in half, it just looks that way. That’s why nobody’s rushing the stage to save her.

Illusions can take many forms, including personal beliefs about our own limitations, the perceived limitations of others, and our judgments about the world. We think that anger is inevitable, say, or that some people are lucky in love and others are not. We think the Republican Party is evil or that Democrats are naive. These beliefs cause us (and our brothers and sisters) non-trivial pain. They lead to relationships in which it is possible to remember God and to care for one another is practical and non-dramatic ways.

A Course in Miracles teaches us that illusions are not real and that their appearance of reality can be undone through a process of spiritual awakening and a shift in perception, which together are a practice of forgiveness.

Right-mindedness listens to the Holy Spirit, forgives the world, and through Christ’s vision sees the real world in its place . . . Here time and illusions end together (C-1.3:2, 4).

This is the “One-mindedness of the Christ Mind, Whose Will is one with God’s” (C-1.6:3).

When we understand the underlying circumstances, then the illusion dissolves. The earth appears flat relative to our height. You have to be very high to perceive its curvature, and you have to be in outer space to see the entirety of the globe. Or else you need to do tests – like observing how ships appear to sink the farther away frome shore they get – and study the data. But once you do – once you understand – then the illusion dissolves.

Note that the perception itself may remain consistent. It does look like the woman is being sawed in half. It really does appear that the moon and the sun are circling the flat disc of the earth. To the body, the body and the world will always seem real.

But the psychological aspects of separation do not have to seem real. They can be undone and forgotten. We can live in a world that is predicated on the trust and cooperation that Love instills.

Separation is an illusion that is healed by understanding the way in which we are not – and cannot ever be – separate from either Creation or our Creator.

This understanding is brought forth when we actively choose Love over fear. A Course in Miracles suggests that Love is the only reality and that fear is simply an illusion. When we choose to see the world as the Holy Spirit does – through a lens of Love – we overcome ego-based illusions and experience a greater sense of peace and harmony.

The shift in perception from the ego’s limited perspective to a higher spiritual perspective is what miracles are – and they always create healing in the world. The form the healing takes is not what matters; what matters is the healing itself. Miracles are always guided by the Holy Spirit’s natural capacity to see as God sees and to not see as God does not see. Love holds everything.

A Course in Miracles teaches that only love is real, and that all perceptions to the contrary are illusions that arise from ego’s belief in separation. By letting go of those illusions and opening ourselves up to the experience of Love, our living is transformed and a more peaceful and fulfilling existence becomes possible for all our brothers and sisters.

That state is also an illusion but it is the last illusion – the final moment of our dream in which God takes the last step and restores us to Heaven.

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