An excerpt from Time’s Illusion: Miracles, Dreams & Finding My True Reality
As I read Taoist philosophy, I understood its message to be a guide on how to live. It was an excellent precursor (for lack of a better term) to what would come thousands of years later. A Course in Miracles would take part of the Taoist philosophy on living one step further. As I saw it, the Course simply expanded upon a central principle of Tao: how to live here effortlessly. The difference was that the Course was only concerned with how we think, and in that logic the living would come about from the thinking. Where Tao had it right is that this life would and could be effortless, the Course just gave me an updated guide on how to do it.
I began to think about how I could literally know — and understand, without question, that the world around me was unreal — that I was really somewhere else. Was it important that I should know? …Even with what has been expressed here, it is another thing entirely to make the step to absolute knowledge. Yet, I began to see that most likely this step is required. We very probably have to know and accept that our world is absolutely unreal, then go further, before we can take the steps to leave it.
I realized that going further in this process required more than intellectual understanding. It required something the Course calls experience. Experience is inside. Experience is seeing the outcome of doing the work the Course asks. Experience is taking the concept of an unreal world, where past, present and future are happening simultaneously, and understanding the future has already happened, same as the past, and getting out of the way of that future, therefore letting it happen.
By taking away worry, doubt, fear and anxiety about the future, my day-to-day living became happier and less stressful. I felt my life was beginning to work according to a plan, a plan I learned that I’d probably put together myself before I got here (and like Lennon & McCartney wrote, hopefully with a little help from my friends!). And why wouldn’t I make a good plan? No one wants to plan failure, do they? Seeing the results of my changed thinking begin to work in my life was experience, and my first affirmation that yes, these understandings may really be true.
After learning how experience applied to knowing the teachings of the Course, I had a dream I could see was experience. What was so new about this particular experience was maybe only that I recognized it as such. This was an affirmation of what I’d learned, and it perhaps led to my first complete knowing of the truth of the dream:
I am in the small office at my home. It is an unremarkable day. Out the window of my office, something catches my eye. As I look out, I see that the street where I’ve lived for many years is different. It’s not the same scene I look upon from that window on any other day I’m there. The house down the street is different; the street itself travels in a different direction. I conclude immediately that I’m in a dream, and what happens from this point is experience. After concluding that I was dreaming, I had a thought of incredulity. Looking out the window, I couldn’t believe I was in a dream, though logic was telling me it must be so. My day was absolutely normal in all other respects. I’d been going about my work and it had been a full day. I’d risen and eaten, the hours had passed. All was exactly the same: every awareness, every emotion, every tactile feeling. How can this day be a dream, I thought? “Well, if it is a dream, then wake up,” …and I did. The next moment, I was lying in my bed.
I knew something wondrous had occurred, but sleep soon overtook me and I awoke to a regular busy day. That evening, I took time to reflect. Throughout that day, the significance of the dream, the experience of the dream, was at the edge of my awareness. During that reflection I recognized the dream as experience. The recognition of experience was as wondrous as the message of the dream itself, and of course, that message is that my perceived day-to-day reality is no different than my dreams. They are identical. I was stunned. There is no other description. The implications left me awestruck. A deep understanding filled me and I felt joy and happiness and knowing. Previous to this experience I intellectually knew these things were true, but I absolutely needed the experience to know.
I’d read that to learn, then to experience, and then to know just one aspect of A Course in Miracles completely, will lead to understanding every other aspect of the Course. Because there are no inconsistencies in the progression of thinking the Course requires (it even seems that each aspect of its teaching contains every other aspect of the whole within it) my experience was an event of great significance.
I concluded that my dream experience was identical to my day-to-day life. I had awareness of both my waking and my dream life in this experience, and knowing dreams are not real, I now knew without question that I live a dream here.