The World and the Real World

One of the hardest concepts to grasp in A Course in Miracles is what it means by “world”. When we think of the world we think of bodies and their physical environment. When we are ego-identified, it is “my” body and the world is nature, buildings and other physical structures and other bodies. Yet when the Course mentions the “real world” it becomes clear it is not talking about the physical world at all.

Sit quietly and look upon the world you see, and tell yourself: "The real world is not like this. It has no buildings and there are no streets where people walk alone and separate. There are no stores where people buy an endless list of things they do not need. It is not lit with artificial light, and night comes not upon it. There is no day that brightens and grows dim. There is no loss. Nothing is there but shines, and shines forever."
The world you see must be denied, for sight of it is costing you a different kind of vision.
You cannot see both worlds, for each of them involves a different kind of seeing, and depends on what you cherish. The sight of one is possible because you have denied the other. Both are not true, yet either one will seem as real to you as the amount to which you hold it dear. And yet their power is not the same, because their real attraction to you is unequal. (T-13.VII.1-2)

The ego projects your perceived separation from God onto the physical world. The physical world causes you. You are a physical being whose “life” is played out in a physical world that is the source of all of your pain and suffering and guilt and fear and occasional respites of happiness. Only what the body’s eyes show you is real. The ego projects to deny that you are the source of all of these ideas.

The real world is seen through spiritual sight that looks inward and extends, or fills your whole mind, with peace. It doesn’t look at the physical world, but overlooks, or forgives, the physical world and all the ego’s interpretations of it.

Really then, both the world and the real world are internal experiences, though one is denied there and the other is accepted there. There is, however, no way to divide the ego’s world from the physical world. It must have something on which to project. But the real world has no need of form. It is pure experience.

What I’ve noticed is that students expect – as I once did – that the real world is the physical world transformed, or their perception of the physical world transformed. For example, they either expect others to change or they expect to see God in others. But the real world is an experience you bring with you. Others do not change; you have changed. You bring God’s Love with you everywhere – you extend God’s Love by keeping It in your mind always, despite what is appearing to the body’s eyes. You accept others as they are because, with God’s Love in you filling you up, you don’t need them to be anything for you.

When you accept the real world the physical world changes in that you are detached from it. You enjoy what is beautiful to you without attachment and you let go of the rest. The beauty reminds you of God because God is Beautiful; what isn’t beautiful reminds you of God by reminding you to look within for God. By forgiving the physical world – the ego’s world – you see the real world.

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