Light Episodes in Lesson Fifteen of A Course in Miracles

I want to talk briefly about the so-called “light episodes” in Lesson Fifteen of A Course in Miracles. We get worked up about them – people see the lights and worry why are they seeing lights, or are secretly proud they’re seeing lights, or they do not see lights, and worry why are they not seeing lights, and are envious of those who do.

The “light episodes” are confusing because they reinforce the idea that unusual physical occurrences are extra-persuasive evidence of God’s special favor. They are not. God does not play favorite; you do.

In truth, “light episodes” – like all episodes of the body’s journey through the world – are neither more nor less important, neither more or less meaningful, than any other experience.

It is important to keep in mind that, as a general rule, A Course in Miracles is neutral with respect to bodies. It doesn’t advocate specific physical rituals or diets; it doesn’t curtail sex or exercise or recreation. The body is simply the means by which the world appears to us.

The world and everything in it – including our bodies – are images. Images are like symbols – they represent something, but they are not the thing they represent. If I take a picture of you, I have an image of you – but I don’t have you.

What a given image means depends on who or what is doing the looking and interpreting. An apple pie has meaning for me, but it would not have much meaning for a tick. Cell phones have meaning for me but to flowers they don’t even exist. A picture of a stranger is meh, but pictures of my kids and Chrisoula are in every room of the house.

Our default mode of gazing at the image of the world – and the millions of image comprising it – is to interpret them through the lens of ego. How does this help me? What do I have to do to get it? How can I keep others from getting it, except the one or two people I truly love?

A Course in Miracles – like many spiritual, religious, psychological and philosophical traditions – comes along and says “that’s a backwards, upside-down, way of living. There’s a better way.”

And then it proceeds to teach us how to re-interpret all those images. In terms of A Course in Miracles, this “reinterpretation” is the work of the Holy Spirit, who is the idea of healing in our mind, and who understands the ego’s language (its symbols and rules for working with symbols) and Heaven, where interpretation is replaced by knowledge, in which the many pieces and perspectives neatly harmonize in unity.

We don’t know what’s what, but the Holy Spirit will carefully interpret what we see and think, and bring it into alignment with inner peace. Or so the ACIM story goes.

All of this – studying the course, heeding the Holy Spirit, aligning with inner peace – are just dream events in a dream dreamed by a self that is itself a dream. Awakening is a dream event; understanding is a dream event.

“Light episodes” are dream events.

Now, since in the context of the dream, where everything has to mean something – stand for something, represent something, as is the ego’s wont – “light episodes” are going to appear to mean something. They are going to be signs of something.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this.


Unless you think that what those episodes mean is right, or better than somebody else’s understanding, or perfectly aligned with God, or whatever. Which is going to happen because that’s what ego does. Basically, seeing lights – or not seeing lights – becomes a way of separating from your sister or brother.

And there is a happier way.

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