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A COURSE IN MIRACLES Chapter 18 The Passing of the Dream

II. The Basis of the Dream

1. Does not a world that seems quite real arise in dreams?  Yet think what this world is.  It is clearly not the world you saw before you slept.  Rather it is a distortion of the world, planned solely around what you would have preferred.  Here, you are “free” to make over whatever seemed to attack you, and change it into a tribute to your ego, which was outraged by the “attack.”  This would not be your wish unless you saw yourself as one with the ego, which always looks upon itself, and therefore on you, as under attack and highly vulnerable to it.

2. Dreams are chaotic because they are governed by your conflicting wishes, and therefore they have no concern with what is true.  They are the best example you could have of how perception can be utilized to substitute illusions for truth.  You do not take them seriously on awaking because the fact that reality is so outrageously violated in them becomes apparent.  Yet they are a way of looking at the world and changing it to suit the ego better.  They provide striking examples, both of the ego’s inability to tolerate reality and of your willingness to change reality on its behalf.

3. You do not find the differences between what you see in sleep and on awaking disturbing.  You recognize that what you see on waking is blotted out in dreams.  Yet on awakening, you do not expect it to be gone.  In dreams you arrange everything.  People become what you would have them be, and what they do you order.  No limits on substitution are laid upon you.  For a time it seems as if the world were given you, to make it what you wish.  You do not realize you are attacking it, trying to triumph over it and make it serve you.

4. Dreams are perceptual temper tantrums, in which you literally scream, “I want it thus!”  And thus it seems to be.  And yet the dream cannot escape its origin.  Anger and fear pervade it, and in an instant the illusion of satisfaction is invaded by the illusion of terror.  For the dream of your ability to control reality by substituting a world that you prefer is terrifying.  Your attempts to blot out reality are very fearful, but this you are not willing to accept.  And so you substitute the fantasy that reality is fearful, not what you would do to it.  And thus is guilt made real.

5. Dreams show you that you have the power to make a world as you would have it be, and that because you want it you see it.  And while you see it, you do not doubt that it is real.  Yet here is a world, clearly within your mind, that seems to be outside.  You do not respond to it as though you made it, nor do you realize that the emotions the dream produces must come from you.  It is the figures in the dream and what they do that seems to make the dream.  You do not realize that you are making them act out for you, for if you did the guilt would not be theirs, and the illusion of satisfaction would be gone.  In dreams these features are not obscure.  You seem to waken, and the dream is gone.  Yet what you fail to recognize is that what caused the dream has not gone with it.  Your wish to make another world that is not real remains with you.  And what you seem to waken to is but another form of this same world you see in dreams.  All your time is spent in dreaming.  Your sleeping and your waking dreams have different forms, and that is all.  Their content is the same.  They are your protest against reality, and your fixed and insane idea that you can change it.  In your waking dreams, the special relationship has a special place.  It is the means by which you try to make your sleeping dreams come true.  From this, you do not waken.  The special relationship is your determination to keep your hold on unreality, and to prevent yourself from waking.  And while you see more value in sleeping than in waking, you will not let go of it.

6. The Holy Spirit, ever practical in His wisdom, accepts your dreams and uses them as means for waking.  You would have used them to remain asleep.  I said before that the first change, before dreams disappear, is that your dreams of fear are changed to happy dreams.  That is what the Holy Spirit does in the special relationship.  He does not destroy it, nor snatch it away from you.  But He does use it differently, as a help to make His purpose real to you.  The special relationship will remain, not as a source of pain and guilt, but as a source of joy and freedom.  It will not be for you alone, for therein lay its misery.  As its unholiness kept it a thing apart, its holiness will become an offering to everyone.

7. Your special relationship will be a means for undoing guilt in everyone blessed through your holy relationship.  It will be a happy dream, and one which you will share with all who come within your sight.  Through it, the blessing the Holy Spirit has laid upon it will be extended.  Think not that He has forgotten anyone in the purpose He has given you.  And think not that He has forgotten you to whom He gave the gift.  He uses everyone who calls on Him as means for the salvation of everyone.  And He will waken everyone through you who offered your relationship to Him.  If you but recognized His gratitude!  Or mine through His!  For we are joined as in one purpose, being of one mind with Him.

8. Let not the dream take hold to close your eyes.  It is not strange that dreams can make a world that is unreal.  It is the wish to make it that is incredible.  Your relationship with your brother has now become one in which the wish has been removed, because its purpose has been changed from one of dreams to one of truth.  You are not sure of this because you think it may be this that is the dream.  You are so used to choosing among dreams you do not see that you have made, at last, the choice between the truth and all illusions.

9. Yet Heaven is sure.  This is no dream.  Its coming means that you have chosen truth, and it has come because you have been willing to let your special relationship meets its conditions.  In your relationship the Holy Spirit has gently laid the real world; the world of happy dreams, from which awaking is so easy and so natural.  For as your sleeping and your waking dreams represent the same wishes in your mind, so do the real world and the truth of Heaven join in the Will of God.  The dream of waking is easily transferred to its reality.  For this dream reflects your will joined with the Will of God.  And what this Will would have accomplished has never not been done.[1]

In today’s devotional text, Jesus tells us that what keeps us bound to the illusory world is the special relationships that we have made our substitute for God.  In the flesh we seem compelled to have inordinate affection, loyalty, and obligations to our special relationships.  This is sanctioned by our holy books, by the law, by our traditions.  In our special relationships, we bring forth more special relationships in which we devote ourselves, not to God but to flesh human relationships that keep us chained through a slavish devotion to that which is not holy. 

For these special relationships we devote our lives, we lay down our lives, we work at jobs that bring us little to no ongoing meaning or satisfaction, we stay in loveless marriages, we build monuments to their pride and downfall.  We do our best to provide for our special relationships all the material things that were denied us; we find that instead of gratitude we are met with ingratitude. If not open hostility, every loving thing we have ever done, every sacrifice, every duty performed results in some form of lurking sulkiness.  No matter how precious the framework of all special relationships is, no matter how socially promoted, no matter how religiously enforced, all forms of specialness trap us in the dream of death. 

Lest we believe there is no hope for us unless we abandon all those we especially love and have committed our lives to and go dwell in a cave and wait for the Rapture, lest we fall prey to the idea that we must join a cult where people make ridiculous claims of oneness and unity in the flesh, passing each other around like strawberry tarts in an effort to find mutuality in the flesh – Jesus tells us that we bring our special relationships to holiness.  We give them to Holy Spirit and ask holiness itself to transform them.  We stop trying to force our worldview on them.  We take our possessiveness out of them.  We stop warping our special relationships by our fears from the past.  We seek not vengeance upon them.  In other words we stop interfering with them.  We stop placing demands on them; we loosen the bonds that would obligate us to them and them to us.  When we give our special relationships to holiness, we bring in more fun and freedom, because we realize that no matter how many tears we shed over them, we have absolutely no right at all to possess anybody else, to sacrifice our happiness for them, to ruin our health, or to wish death upon them. 

Jesus is not telling us to leave our families nor neglect our duties, but He is telling us to give them to holiness, to learn to trust God for them and stop guarding them as if they belong to us instead of God.  When we loosen our hold upon our special relationships, we loosen the bonds that keep us tied to the ego’s purpose for our lives.  Only in this freedom and liberty of the Spirit can we truly bring love and joy and peace into our relationships. 

As long as we are running a tight ship in regard to our husbands and wives, our children, our friends, our organizations, we have not put Holy Spirit at the helm, but rather our ego.  We will believe all kinds of special lies about “us.”  We will dream dreams of sacrifice, martyrdom, and self-aggrandizement.  We will boast when they make us proud, and retreat in shame when they fail us.  Our happiness will come in spots and never last for there will always be some drama, some failing, some way in which we will not match the false images we have in our heads about each other.  We will not be able to fulfill the obligations or keep up the traditions we have established for them.  We will live in fear of them, in fear for them, in fear with them.  But we go on thinking they are ours and it is our responsibility to make them work, to control them, to rely on them for our happiness.  We bluster through our lives being outer-directed rather than inner-directed and so we continue to condemn ourselves to illusion rather than to awaken to the reality of God. 

There is nothing magical about bringing our special relationships to holiness.  It is a process and sometimes quite a clumsy, awkward one – there are times we will seem to “lose” our special relationships for when we are drawn to honesty, to freedom and liberty, to loosen our hold upon them and put them in the hands of Holy Spirit, may seem a sacrifice.  We are so used to the chains that bind us to them that to be suddenly free of them can be perceived as a terrible shock to our system.  But here is where we practice our truthfulness and trust that no matter the break with tradition, we must be honest and no longer seek for happiness in sacrifice or replace mutuality for specialness. 

If preparing holiday feasts and hosting special events becomes too taxing as we get older, we must practice honesty and ask for help, encourage the younger generations to take it over, or simply bow out all together.  There is no good reason to martyr oneself for those who would come to our house, eat and be merry, with no intention of every stepping up to the plate and taking it over.  While this may seem like a trite example, let it illustrate the point that Jesus makes for all forms of specialness.  When we obligate ourselves to traditions, when we identify with the roles and rules of specialness, and judge ourselves and each other accordingly, we make ourselves unhappy. Our relationships, twisted, egotistical, and unequal are dishonest and fraught with animosity.  We teach one another to project the past to the future, to mock and make fun rather than to appreciate and have fun.  While breaking free of this brings us unparalleled freedom, joy, and lightness of Being – as we begin to disengage from the past it will seem to cling to us, to make an argument for its own defense.  Rather than ignoring this, do not be afraid to hear it out, to look carefully at what it proposes.  For upon close examination, its tempting framework encloses only small-minded jabs at specialness, meaningless sacrifice, and death.  

In your personal devotional reading today, pay particular attention to the last two paragraphs of today’s text.  Jesus is quite clear about where we are in this process.  We have our special relationships and oh they seem so dear to us, and it is very tempting to keep them that way.  We will allow our egos to delight themselves in them at least a little bit!  What harm can a little boasting do?  What harm can a little machination do? What harm can come from our deep feelings of affection that we have toward the one and not so much the other?  That’s just us, being human.  When family calls, we drop everything and rush to their aid – not consulting holiness, ignoring the fact that we are teaching them to rely on us, allowing them to pull us in too many different directions to serve any real purpose.  When our mates are more inclined to chase the dollar than to seek God, specialness may seem to pay off, but at what cost?  As we come to holiness, we live in honesty, Mindfulness, and the happiness that comes only come from Spirit and not flesh.  When we lay down our egoism, we welcome Sonship in.  Recognizing the falseness in our flesh perceptions, our trust is placed and perfected in Christ’s vision.  As we join with Christ, our special relationships are saved, and the nations are healed through our love. 


[1] A Course in Miracles. Chapter 18 The passing of the dream. II The basis of the dream.  Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).

For daily 2021 Workbook lessons, visit www.i-choose-love.com courtesy of Linda R.

Audio credit: www.eckiefriar.com

Filed under: ACIM, Teaching and Learning

About the Author

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Coming up on sixty, my love for God, home and hearth, my husband and family fueled my decision to devote the rest of my life only to pursuits which brought love, joy, peace, and purpose. I am a writer, seeker, student, and teacher with experience professional and otherwise from waitressing to teaching the English language in China, Taiwan, and Singapore. I hold a BA in Psychology from Bloomsburg University, which took nearly 30 years to attain while I squeezed courses in between raising my children, journaling, relationships, work, and an assortment of escapades, some of which I would rather forget! An ongoing passion for reading, writing, adventure, food, and fun, eventually led me to the love of my life, James, whom I met in 1996 and married in 1997. Our life together has been an exciting journey of work and travel, spiritual awakening, and domestic bliss ever since. Although we have experienced the tragic loss of family members and friends through death and estrangement, we have managed to turn our special relationship into a holy one by the grace of God and an acute and growing awareness of “there must be a better way!” In 2006, I published my first novel, Luella’s Calling, and am currently working on my second, Grover Good and the Stone Chateau. From 2013 through 2018, I worked as a Prevention Education Specialist for Transitions, a local domestic violence sexual abuse victim’s service agency. My work there, fueled by a lifelong enthusiasm for teaching, led me to obtain an MS in Education from Scranton University. In 2018, I resigned to accompany James on his work travels while focusing on my calling to study and teach A Course in Miracles. To that end, I dedicate the rest of my days to writing, sharing, and teaching the message of salvation found within the Course pages. Thank you for your interest in this blog. As I do not respond to comments on the posts, if you care to contact me, please email me at eckief@yahoo.com.

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