How "the world isn't real" Shows Up
I often tell students that much of this path has not unfolded in the way that I expected. I had ideas about how it was going to look and feel. So I often missed shifts in my experience because I was looking elsewhere for a shift. Or I simply didn’t recognize them for what they were. Eventually I learned I have no idea how this will unfold! I learned to release expectations, to trust the process, and to keep an open mind.
One of the first examples of this is with the awareness that the world isn’t real. It’s hard to know how I expected this would show up. I think I expected a wholesale shift in my perception and that the world would disappear. But the shift in awareness began almost immediately after I became a student of A Course in Miracles with a shift in my values.
A Course in Miracles tells us that we believe in what we value:
“Remember that where your heart is, there is your treasure also. You believe in what you value.” (T-2.II.1)
“And your thinking but reflects your choice of what you want to see. Your values are determiners of this, for what you value you must want to see, believing what you see is really there.” (W-130.1)
“I am grateful that this world is not real, and that I need not see it at all unless I choose to value it.” (W-53.2 )
This used to confound me. I thought it was backwards. Don’t I have to believe something is real before I value it? No, ACIM was telling me my giving something value is what makes it real to me. I did not understand this until I experienced it. The way that “this isn’t real” first showed up for me was in my no longer according value to certain thing that I once valued. They no longer seemed significant or to have meaning for me. So I did not think about something “this is not real” or “this is an illusion”. Instead I just stopped thinking about it no longer had meaning for me. It “disappeared” for me in that it was no longer on my mind even if in form it was still in my mind. What has no meaning to me does not exist for me. Eventually, this generalized to the whole world as I found value and meaning in my awareness of Truth instead of in the world.
This is not a foreign experience. Everyone does this all the time. You do not give your attention to thousands of things that pass before you every day. The whole world does not exist for you all of the time. Your attention automatically goes to what has value for you. And things that once had value for you fall away from your attention when something you value more comes into your awareness.
Another way that “the world is not real” showed up for me was in the acceptance that everything in the universe of form passes. This includes not just painful things but also pleasures. Only the Eternal is real because it always is. What passes is not real because it passes. Interestingly, this not only mitigated the pain of life in the world for me. But I enjoy pleasures more because I do not cling to them in desperation to “save” me from the pain of the human experience. I accept them for the time that they are present and then let them go. So my enjoyment of them is not diminished by my desperation to hold on to them. All in the world passes but the Eternal is always with me.
Lately another way that the world isn’t real shows up for me is in how stories in my mind about the world fall away easily. They can be about the past, present, or future. They can be a story for this self or a person I know or a public figure. As soon as I start to give anything any real thought I become acutely aware that it is only a story in my mind and nothing more. Then it seems to turn to dust and fall away and my mind is set free.
I do not go around thinking “this is not real” all of the time because that awareness has quietly become my “new normal”. This came about through a slow and steady shift in my mind over time. I become aware of how dramatically my mind has changed only when I hear how much others still believe in the world and are so invested in it. Then I remember that I used to be that way, too, and I feel the contrast. I can remember that I used to be that way but I cannot recall the actual experience. It seems alien to me now and it doesn’t make sense.
Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at www.acimmentor.com.