The universe began when nothing saw itself in the mirror. – Tor Norretranders, The User Illusion
This is the short answer: we are not really here. We think we are. Like dream figures in a dream, our perception of ‘reality’ is distorted. Our true identity is in Heaven, with God. We have never left Heaven. We only think we have. Everything that you see with your physical eyes, everything that you touch, everything that you smell and taste, all of this is illusion. It is a dream. When you awaken from this dream it will be no more.
Seriously dude?? But it’s so… real…
It seems real because you have been so deeply ingrained into the dream. You are so deeply engrossed with the film that you no longer realise that you are watching it from your seat, able to walk out of the cinema whenever you choose. It seems real because you have based all your knowledge on your five senses and your past experiences, which is only but a feedback mechanism to assert the validity of the dream.
OK.. umm.. But why do we think we are we here?
To answer this question, we must wear the hat of duality to explain what never really happened. We have to assume that it actually happened. As such, the story which follows is a myth. It is meant to be taken metaphorically, not literally. It is a tool to enable our linear minds to understand what would otherwise be impossible to comprehend. None of these symbols, metaphors, images or analogies will be entirely satisfactory to the mind – but they will be helpful in some measure.
This article will be based on the text in Chapter 4 of The Disappearance of the Universe by Gary Renard. The way in which the ‘tiny, mad idea’ is presented in DU is just about as clear and as accurate as I think is possible to express in the English language, and I see little point in me trying to replicate this feat.
DU explains it by means of 4 divisions (of the mind):
- The first division: The ‘birth’ of separation
- The second division: The arising of choice
- The third division: Listening to the ego
- The fourth division of the mind: Joining with the ego – the arising of the world
The first division: The ‘birth’ of separation
In the beginning, which of course transcends time, there was only God and His Son. It was like one big happy family in Heaven. At some strange moment, which is reality never happened, the Son of God believed that he could separate himself from his Father. That is the moment when the separation occurred. In truth, as the Course says, this could never have happened, because how could a part of God separate itself from God? Yet the fact that we are all here, or we think we are here, would seem to indicate something else.
Pg. 35, A Talk given on A Course in Miracles, Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
Before the beginning, there were no beginnings or endings; there was only the eternal Always, which is still there – and always will be. There was only an awareness of unflawed oneness, and this oneness was so complete, so awe-striking and unlimited in its joyous extension that it would be impossible for anything to be aware of something else that was not Itself. There was and is only God in this reality – which we will refer to as Heaven.
What God creates in His extension of Himself is called Christ. But Christ is not in any way separate or different than God. It is exactly the same. Christ is not a part of God, It is an extension of the whole. Real Love must be shared, and the perfect Love that is shared in God’s universe is beyond all human comprehension. Humans appear to be part of the whole, but Christ is all of it. The only possible distinction between Christ and God – if a distinction was possible – would be that God created Christ; He is the Author. Christ did not create God or Itself. Because of their perfect oneness, this doesn’t really matter in Heaven. God has created Christ to be exactly like God, and to share His eternal Love and joy in a state of unencumbered, boundless and unimaginable ecstasy.
Unlike the concrete, specific world you appear to be in now, this constant and enthralling state of awareness is completely abstract, eternal, unchanging and united. Christ then extends Itself by creating new Creations, or simultaneous extensions of the whole, which are also exactly the same in their perfect oneness with God and Christ. Thus Christ, like God, also creates – because It is exactly the same as God. These extensions do not go inward or outward, because in Heaven there is no concept of space; there is only everywhere. The result of all of this is the endless sharing of perfect Love, which is beyond understanding.
Then something appears to happen which, as is a dream, doesn’t really happen – it just appears to. For just an instant, for just one, inconsequential fraction of a nanosecond, a very small aspect of Christ appears to have an idea that is not shared by God. It’s kind of a “What if?” idea. It’s like an innocent wondering in the form of a question – which unfortunately is followed by an apparent answer. The question, if it could be put into words was, “What would it be like if I were to go off and play on my own?” Like a naive child playing with matches who burns down the house, you would have been much happier not to find out the answer to that question – for your state of innocence is about to be seemingly replaced by a state of fear and the erroneous, vicious defences that this condition appears to require.
Because your idea is not of God, He does not respond to it. To respond to it would be to give it reality. If God Himself were to acknowledge anything except the idea of perfect oneness, then there would no longer be perfect oneness. There would no longer be a perfect state of Heaven for you to return to. (Ken’s comment: It is not possible for God to be aware of the idea because God is non-dual, ie. consciousness does not apply) As we will see, you never left anyway. You’re still there, but you have entered into a nightmare state of illusion. While you have traveled only in dreams, God and Christ, Who are always One, have continued as they always did and always will – completely unaffected by what J refers to in his Course as the “tiny, mad idea…” of separation.
In this cosmic instant of seeming individuality – and no matter how attractive you may think individuality is, it is nothing but separation – there seems to be a tiny aspect of Christ that is now aware of something else. That is duality. Now, instead of oneness, you have twoness. Before, there was the perfect oneness of Heaven and nothing else. That is non-duality, or non-twoness. That is still reality. There is not really more than one thing, but now something different seems to be going on for you. There seems to be God and something else. That is the illusion of duality, and the world of multiplicity and the endless subjects and objects you perceive in it are merely symbolic of separation. While you may still try to create, you cannot really create without the power of God, so everything you make eventually falls apart.
Pg. 124, The Disappearance of the Universe
At this point in our story you have the very beginning of consciousness – yet another thing you foolishly value highly. In order to have consciousness you have to have separation. You’ve got to have more than one thing. You have something else to be conscious of. This is the beginning of the split mind. As the Course teaches in no uncertain terms:
Consciousness, the level of perception, was the first split introduced into the mind after the separation, making the mind a perceiver rather than a creator. Consciousness is correctly identified as the domain of the ego. T-3.IV.2.
Arten: We’ve already talked about the first division of the mind, and along with it has come consciousness. Because of this, for the first time, you have a conscious choice to make. Before that, there was nothing to choose between. But now there are two possible responses to this idea of separation. That’s what leads to the second division of the mind. We’ve already said the seemingly separated mind appears to divide and subdivide. That symbolizes separation. But all the divisions are symbolic of the first few. Once you really understand the first ones, you will understand them all as the same, despite appearances to the contrary. You have to remember that after the first division, Heaven is just a memory.
Gary: What do you mean by that?
Arten: Consciousness is not of God, so now something completely different seems to be happening for you – an experience of individuality. Whenever the mind divides, its new condition is reality to it – and its former condition is denied and forgotten. A psychologist would call this repression, except the magnitude of what we are discussing if far beyond what any human could be aware of. However, the dynamic is the same in the sense that what has been repressed is unconscious. Incidentally, the unconscious is not a place – it’s a device of the mind. It’s still possible to remember what’s been denied, but without help, it would be highly unlikely for you to remember that which you have dissociated.
Now, the you that we and the Course are referring to has nothing to do with you as a human being – it’s part of your mind that makes decisions. Even when you appear to be making a decision here in this world you are not really making it here, because you are not here. In our story this new, seemingly individual mind is going to make its very first decision.
At this point there are only two choices, and there will always be only two choices. There you have the second division of the mind. Now you appear to have a right mind and a wrong mind, each representing a different choice or a different response to the tiny, mad idea.
One choice is the memory of your true home with God, symbolized in the Course by the Holy Spirit, and the other is the thought of separation from God, or individuality, symbolized in the Course by the ego.
Pg. 131, DU
Once again, you mind has two choices to select from; we are now at a critical juncture in the seeming separation. The memory of what you are is both the answer to the separation and the principle of the Atonement rolled into one. As the Course teaches about the Holy Spirit:
He came into being with the separation as a projection, inspiring the Atonement principle at the same time. T-5.I.5.2
Obviously, the Course has its own meaning for various terms, including Atonement. As the Text explains, the Holy Spirit has always taught the Atonement.
He tells you to return your whole mind to God, because it has never left Him. If it has never left Him, you need only perceive it as it is to be returned. The full awareness of the Atonement, then, is the recognition that the separation never occurred. T-6.II.10
If, at the point where we find ourselves in the story, you had chosen to believe the Holy Spirit’s interpretation, or response, to the separation instead of the ego’s, then your little dream adventure would have been over. The ego had a selfish yet tantalizing response of its own. If you continue to believe in the separation, it offers you your own individual identity – separate from God, very special and uniquely important. As J puts it in the Text:
The ego must offer you some sort of reward for maintaining this belief. All it can offer is a sense of temporary existence, which begins with its own beginning and ends with its own ending. It tells you this life is your existence because it is your own. T-4.III.3
Of course, you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into – and you make another numb choice. This is all new to you, and you’re more than willing to give curiosity a chance to kill the cat. You choose with the ego so you can see what it’s like to be special and apart. This in turn causes the third division of the mind.
Pg. 132, DU
The third division: Listening to the ego
So – in our story, you’ve chosen with the ego, and now you’re identified with it. The first division made the awareness of your perfect oneness with God just a memory. The second division brought two parts to the mind. The third division has made the Holy Spirit just a memory, and the ego now has your attention. You look to it to explain to you what’s going on, and the ego has a message for you. The message is this: You’d better the hell out of here, pal. Then it proceeds to give you some reasons. In your confused state of mind, these reasons sound pretty damn convincing in their logic.
“Don’t you know what you’ve done?” – the ego asks in our metaphorical story – “You’ve separated yourself from God! You’ve sinned against Him big time. You’re in for it now. You’ve taken paradise – everything He gave you – and thrown it right in His face and said, ‘Who the hell needs you?’ You’ve attacked Him! You’re dead. You haven’t got a snowball’s chance in hell against Him – He’s awesome and you’re nothing. You’ve ruined everything; you’re so guilty. If you don’t haul ass out of here right now, it’s gonna be worse than death!”
Oh my God, you think in response to the ego. What have I done? You’re right – I’ve ruined everything and attacked Heaven! But where can I go? What can I do? I can run, but I can’t hide. There’s no place I can hide from God Himself!
“Well, that’s not exactly true,” says the ego, “because I’m here to help you. I’m your friend – and I have an idea. I have somewhere we can go together. You can be your own boss and not have to face God at all. You’ll never see Him. He won’t even be able to get into this place!”
Really? you ask. That sounds pretty damn good to me. Let’s go!
“All right,” says the ego. “Do exactly as I say.”
Pursah: Of course everything the ego is saying about God and what’s happened is not true, for the ego is about as sane as Caligula Caesar. God would never do anything except love you. It’s here that you need to know just a little bit more about how the mind works.
Because of the power of the mind, you need to appreciate the power of your belief. It was your belief in the idea you could be separate from God – your taking it seriously – that gave it so much seeming power and realism. As the Course says:
Freedom from illusions lies only in not believing them. T-8.VII.16.5
Pg. 138, DU
Pursah: Once you’ve chosen to listen to the ego’s temptations to be a separate individual, your belief in the reality of the separation begins to cause some very serious problems for you. God now seems to be outside of you, and everything you experience tells you that you’ve separated yourself from Him. That’s a problem you still have this very second, even though it’s unconscious to you. Practically all of your mind is unconscious to you, just like almost all of an iceberg is underneath the surface of the water. As long as you believe in the reality of the physical universe Gary, then everything you perceive will be a constant, unconscious reminder to you that you’ve committed the act of separating yourself from God. As you’ll see, that’s an important point.
Arten: Getting back to our little mis-creation extravaganza, the ego-voice in your mind has told you some things about your condition and also about God that simply aren’t true. You’ve bought it partly because you like the idea of being an individual with a seemingly separate will – even though that’s not really possible. By taking the separation and the ego’s voice seriously, that translates within your seemingly separated mind as a sin against God. Now if you’ve sinned, that means you’re guilty, and on this metaphysical level you feel it – even though on the level of the world you will not always feel it. Being the guilty bastard you think you are, it means you ‘re going to be punished, big time. Even on the level of this world, a psychologist would explain to you that guilt unconsciously demands punishment – and if you really think about that, it will explain a lot. On the metaphysical level we’re talking about how you sincerely believe that you’re about to be attacked and punished by God Himself!
The anticipation of this fate-worse-than-death kind of punishment from God creates fear – a fear so terrible you can’t even comprehend it. Yet you’ve been running away from it for what seems like billions of years. So now we’re at a point where we can tell you why your universe, your world, and your body were made by the mind in the first place. They were really all made simultaneously, even though in a linear dream, things seem to happen separately.
There is no other spiritual discipline that understands and explains the motivation behind the making of this world, the same motivation that runs it today. That motivation is fear, always ultimately traceable to the fear of God. The trans-temporal, non-spatial, seemingly separated mind is in a paralyzing state of fear because of a punishment you believe is coming from God. So the ego convinces you that you need a defense, without bothering to mention that the defence it offers is designed to ensure its own survival through your individuality. In fact, if you look at the last four syllables of the word individuality, you will see that they spell duality. That’s not just a semantic accident.
The ego’s voice speaks to you as though it’s your friend and is watching out for your best interests. You’ll recall we’ve already said the ego has convinced you that God is going to get you and you’d better run for it to a place where you’ll be safe. That place is this universe. As far as the ego is concerned, the best defence is a good offense. In fact, defence and offense are two sides of the same coin. In discussing how some of these concepts relate to each other, the Course teaches:
The ego is the part of the mind that believes in division. How could part of God detach itself without believing it is attacking Him? We spoke before of the authority problem as based on the concept of usurping God’s power. The ego believes that this is what you did because it believes that it is you. If you identify with the ego, you must perceive yourself as guilty. Whenever you respond to your ego you will experience guilt, and you will fear punishment. The ego is quite literally a fearful thought. However ridiculous the idea of attacking God may be to the sane mind, never forget that the ego is not sane. It represents a delusional system, and speaks for it. Listening to the ego’s voice means that you believe it is possible to attack God, and that a part of Him has been torn away by you. Fear of retaliation from without follows, because the severity of the guilt is so acute that it must be projected. T-5.V.3.
The fourth division of the mind: Joining with the ego – the arising of the world
Arten: So now the instant has finally arrived in our spectacular revue where the ego is about to give you its grand answer to your nightmarish but imagined predicament.
The awesome magnitude of the painful shame and acute guilt in your mind, resulting from what you believe you’ve done, appear to require an immediate and complete escape. So you join with the ego, and then the incomprehensible power of your mind to make illusions as a perceiver – rather than make spirit as a creator – causes the method of your escape to become manifest. At this point the ego, which you are now totally identified with, uses the ingenious but illusory method of projection to hurl the thought of separation out of your mind, and you – or at least the part of you that seems to have a consciousness – appears to be projected right along with it. This instantly causes what is popularly referred to as the Big Bang, or the creation of the universe.
Now, the enemy you live in terror of, God, no longer seems to be in the mind with you – where you thought you wouldn’t have had a chance against Him. Instead God, and for that matter everything else, is now apparently completely outside of you. The source of your problems, including your guilt, are now someplace else – even though we’ve already made it clear that there can’t possibly be anyplace else. The making of the cosmos is your protection from God, your ingenious hiding place. At the same time, the universe itself becomes the ultimate scapegoat.
Now, both the cause and the blame for your problem of separation, not to mention the blame for all of your new, illusory replacement problems, can be found – if you look hard enough along with the ego – somewhere outside of you. Indeed, a whole new level has been made in which the thought system of sin, guilt, fear, attack, and defense can be acted out in such a way as to protect your seemingly separated mind, which you presently think of as your soul, from your terrible, yet completely unconscious guilt and fear. To illustrate just how much the ego resists looking at this guilt in the mind, all you need to consider that despite the fact that A Course in Miracles is very much about the healing of this unconscious guilt, most of the teachers of the Course never even mention it.
Now, as the crowning achievement in its grand scheme, the ego makes – drum roll, please – the body.
This allows the ego to permit into your awareness, almost exclusively, only those things which testify to the reality of its cherished illusion. Yet the body itself is just another part of the illusion, and to ask it to explain the illusion to you is no different than asking the illusion to explain itself – and of course the ego is more than happy to furnish you with its answers.
This universe, the world, and your body give form to a defense structure in which you hide from your imagined sin, guilt, and the resulting fear of God’s vengeance. The ego has a method firmly in place to deal with this now-unconscious sin, guilt and fear – by projecting it onto others.
Pg. 142, DU