Have you ever heard the response that if you really believed this world was an illusion, then nothing would matter? - Guess what. They're right! It just depends on the meaning you would give this statement. One of the most common initial reactions is the fear that one who accepts this understanding would withdraw from helping to make the world a better, safer place for others. But by knowing there is no reason to react in fear to an illusory world which seems to be "out there," those who accept this teaching have learned how to help in the most effective way possible.
The ego's solution for fixing the world is to change everyone and everything else, becoming involved in "worthy causes" such as protecting the environment, protesting the behavior of others, saving whatever is seen as threatened. Doing something about these endless problems is its favorite activity instead of looking within at itself. Through Tom Carpenter, Jesus once said, "The excitement of the dream is very pleasing to the human system, but don't ignore the fact that your remodeling project is only temporary." Trying to change the effects of the world without dealing with their cause is an endless remodeling project. And in the Course, Jesus also says, "There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect." (W.PI.23.2:2) However, without this greater understanding, you can see why the ego would be challenged by someone who says these difficult people and those threatening problems "out there" aren't what they seem to be, that they are an illusion. Itís often better even not to say it, but to convey your understanding by how you live your life.
The Course does not talk about changing the world to make it a better place simply because it is not necessary to dwell on this. As the teaching of the Course takes effect in your mind, joining with and caring about other people becomes an automatic extension of the mind's choice for peace. Now you know what really does matter. If the ego's way of fixing the world is to attack those who oppose its beliefs, your way now engages with the world from the assurance of peace within, nurturing the hidden presence of love within all people. The Course refers to this shift as focusing on a different awareness of what the world can be to us while still within the experience of perception. By your example, you offer others the I opportunity to know a world of safety, of peace and harmony now without needing to change anyone or anything else.
While the ego focus often appreciates helping through acknowledged or well-known forms, the nature of helping from spirit is offered quietly and wherever it is needed. In the Course, Jesus explains, "We have a mission here. We did not come to reinforce the madness that we once believed in. Let us not forget the goal that we accepted. It is more than just our happiness alone we came to gain. What we accept as what we are proclaims "that everyone must be, along with us. Fail not your brothers, or you fail your self. Look lovingly on them, that they may know that they are part of you and you of them." (W.PI.I39.9:7)
To the ego mind focus the statement, "The sole responsibility of God's teacher is to accept the Atonement for himself." (T.2.V.5:1) also appears to be a very self-centered focus without concern for anyone else. Again, just the opposite is true. "When this has been accomplished, the teacher of God becomes a Miracle Worker by definition." (M.18.4:7) It is the essence of spirit to extend to others. For some, there may be a period of seeming to withdraw from activities in the world while they overhaul their own thought system, learning to let go of fearful misperceptions and aligning with the Presence of God within Mind. "This step may appear to the ego focus as not caring about others or the problems of the world, however it actually is one of the most helpful things anyone can ever do. Even well-known historian Arnold Toynbee has seen the positive effects of this throughout history, observing that this cycle of withdrawal and return "was a characteristic feature of the lives of those people who contributed most profoundly to human well-being." (The Complete Story of the Course, D. Patrick Miller, pg. 174)
Knowing the world is a state of mind, an illusion of reality, allows a greater joining with others in peace and acceptance rather than the need for defense and attack. The safety to love is shared in infinite ways and with that experience the w9rld becomes a different place. Thus those who understand the illusory nature of the world do help in the only real and lasting way possible -by their willingness to see the real nature of each other and what appears to be the world. What could be of greater help?
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