The world is always a disappointment
"You do not really want the world you see, for it has disappointed you since time began."
Let me first just say that I don't intend for this to be a "negative" post. Nor is it being pessimistic. But it's going to point out the inherent negativity of the world. Not to try to make it real or be drawn into despair over it, but to just recognize it for what it is. And there is no need to react to it with assertions of "happier interpretations."
There is a tremendous need for us to stop believing that the world is something we WANT. Or something that can offer us any redeeming qualities or content. Jesus actually wants us to learn to recognize that this world has nothing to offer, nothing to give, does nothing, means nothing, and is nothing.
Jesus frames the world - by which I mean EARTH and its physical neighbors regardless of your perceptions - as nothing. And that we are to recognize its nothingness in order to realize that giving it up is not a sacrifice. And that by giving it up, we stand to GAIN EVERYTHING by accepting the reality of the Kingdom that God created for us.
"The world I see has nothing that I want."
"But if I see no value in the world as I behold it, nothing that I want to keep as mine or search for as a goal, it will depart from me. For I have not sought for illusions to replace the truth."
"It takes great learning both to realize and to accept the fact that the world has nothing to give. What can the sacrifice of nothing mean?"
ACIM is teaching that the world is nothing, it has no value, and everything in it is a pain. It says you do not want this world. That even though you made it you do not want it. And even that you made it BY not wanting it - by not wanting what was in your mind, which you projected outward as a world to try to get rid of it.
"the cries of pain that rise to it, from every part of this strange world you made, but do not want."
We are confused and caught up in the world because we keep believing that it can offer us salvation, something of value, something beneficial, something we want. And before you start dreaming up denials via the repurposing of the body and world, let just just clarify that the purpose of the world does not change what it IS.
"The world is a picture of the crucifixion of God's Son."
Our problem is that we do believe the world has something to offer. That it is a great place to live forever, and never leave. That it has real pleasures and that its pleasures entail no pain. But Jesus also teaches that even the pleasures of the world are really pains in disguise, because the cost is that by indulging in temptation you are separating from God, and real pleasure only comes from doing God's will. Pleasure binds you to the body and takes you away from reality, just as pain does.
He wants us to recognize that pain IS pain, and pleasure IS pain, because truthfully we actually don't quite recognize what anything is. We think that pain is pleasure. We even think that sickness is saving us from life, and death is salvation. In our confusion we keep trying to dress up this world and frame it as somewhere that you can enjoy the full fruits of heaven. But as Jesus aptly explains, you CANNOT ESCAPE from the world's suffering by staying in it.
"Real choice is no illusion. But the world has none to offer. ALL its roads but lead to disappointment, nothingness and death. There IS no choice in its alternatives. Seek not ESCAPE from problems here. The world was made that problems could not BE escaped."
Much of our problem then is that we think there really is a way to be in the world that fixes it up and makes it great and provides room for an entire civilizations to emerge. A massive attempt to tame hell and "civilize" it. But this is really a form of DENIAL. The truth is that ALL of the world's roads lead to death, suffering, loss and disappointment. If you are willing to look at it you'll see this is true. And it will just keep on disappointing you until it disappears. That is its NATURE. It is a device for guaranteeing death.
"The homes you built have never sheltered you. The roads you made have led you nowhere, and no city that you built has withstood the crumbling assault of time. Nothing you made but has the mark of death upon it"
"Yet the worms as well are doomed to be destroyed as certainly. And so do all things live because of death. Devouring is nature's "law of life."
These are the facts. Everything in spacetime is limited, it is not even really life (only eternal life is life), bodies are mostly destined to die, flowers can't bloom without dying off, entire planets cease to exist after a while, there is decay and destruction everywhere, sacrifice is built into spacetime itself, and there is scarcity everywhere. The world is TURD floating in cess-pool toilet-bowl of spacetime. Failure is inherent to the entire cosmos. This is not being negative about it either, it's being honest and truthful. This is a dream of mortality.
"Here the world of idols has been set by the idea this power and place and time are given form, and shape the world where the impossible has happened. Here the deathless come to die; the all-encompassing to suffer loss; the timeless to be made the slaves of time. Here does the changeless change; the peace of God, forever given to all living things, give way to chaos. And the Son of God, as perfect, sinless, and as loving as his Father, come to hate a little while; to suffer pain, and finally to die."
If we go into DENIAL that the world is basically a one-way trip to hell and death, we will start trying to find ways to PRETEND it's not true. We in fact have built up what we call a "civilized society" (a dysfunction), complete with the "comforts" that avoid as much pain as possible, the clever manipulations of matter that result in seeming "fixes" for problems, we've found all kinds of distractions and ways of making life seem "interesting", and have discovered every imaginable toy and play-thing to occupy our time. And yet all the while death can strike at any instant in any number of ways. And no-one knows what the heck they're doing.
"The intrusion of the ability to perceive, which is inherently judgmental, was introduced only after the Separation. No one has been sure of anything since then."
The world really, in truth, is fundamentally broken, and it was broken from the start. It was made from the idea of the malfunction of reality. It was an attack on order and peace and love and harmony. Its separations are constant and relentless. Its isolation and exclusion are rampant. And not one single particle in all of spacetime is without a form that symbolizes separation, repulsion and rejection. The world is made of denial, and it even denies its own existence.
"Heaven remains your one alternative to this strange world you made and all its ways; its shifting patterns and uncertain goals, its painful pleasures and its tragic joys. God made no contradictions. What ***denies its own existence and attacks itself*** is not of Him. He did not make two minds, with Heaven as the glad effect of one, and ***earth the other's sorry outcome which is Heaven's opposite*** in every way."
If you look, you'll notice that the world has a plentiful supply of problems lined up for you, and even if you seem to solve one using a highly specific customized solution made just to perfectly fix this one problem, it WILL NOT EVER stop the onslaught of all the other problems it has lined up for you. Not to mention death. The one problem that everyone seems to be in TOTAL denial about, as if it doesn't matter because it's off in the future. And so we pretend we won't die, while nevertheless rushing towards it and making sure it happens.
We have to be willing to put aside all of these adjustments, these wishful thinkings, these rose-tinted glasses, the ignorant bliss, the framing the world as heaven, the trying to make it be our home, our adjustments to it and our attempts to make it out to be a great place. It is nothing. It can be forgiven, like all illusions can, but its nothingness is what makes this possible.
"YOU make the world and THEN adjust to it."
Adjusting to the world, trying to cope with the world, trying to make it more palatable, trying to make it softer and safer and seem to be a place that's not all that bad, is all forms of denial. The desire for the nice materials, the riches, the shiny objects, the fancy cars and expensive buildings, it's all an attempt to pretend that the world is desirable and that it WON'T disappoint you, as you seem to enjoy SHORT LIVED temporary reprieves from its hell-bent destructiveness. And as you hide behind the next "new thing" which claims to offer escape from death.
It is an avoidance of the fact that the world is just fundamentally not EVER going to really work correctly. It cannot function correctly because it is based on an idea of death and destruction. It is fundamentally a world of suicide and self-attack. Everything in it will always go wrong sooner or later. Expecting it not to will make you suffer.
This isn't a pessimistic view, by the way. This is a truthful view. I am not saying that we should be sad and unhappy and despairing because of it. Or that there is no alternative. In fact, Jesus is trying to get us to look at this truth SO THAT we can be recognize it is something we DO NOT WANT, so that we will in turn change our minds and choose the one reality that God created for us. And in which we will be infinitely happy forever. We only keep choosing the world because we mistakenly think it is WORTH HAVING, but how can you want a world made of rejection?
The world is not supposed to be your home, the thing you are in love with, your special adored idol, or your salvation. If you watch honestly you'll see that everything just goes wrong, eventually. It happens, again and again. Stuff breaks. Things get lost. Objects fall off tabletops. Food splats on the floor. The clothes become worn. The beds become mis-shapen. The roofs leak and cave in. The cars break down. The rust creeps in. I like to say, "there goes the physics again". And the assault of time, which is the idea of change and therefore death, guarantees that everything comes to an end.
"The world you see is an illusion of a world. God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself. Yet there is nothing in the world you see that will endure forever. Some things will last in time a little while longer than others. But the time will come when all things visible will have an end."
Shall we live in denial that this is true, that the world can NEVER BE HEAVEN? Shall we live in denial that everything in the worl WILL END? Or even that it has death built into it from the start? That it can never turn into a perfect society or an ideal civilization or even a safe place? We try to make it safer with our defenses and castles and our potions and rituals and our avoidance of dangers, but it remains an unsafe place. Can you escape a supernova?
"The world provides no safety. It is rooted in attack, and all its "gifts" of seeming safety are illusory deceptions. It attacks and then attacks again. No peace of mind is possible where danger threatens thus."
The world cannot GIVE us what we want. It cannot make us happy. It cannot provide us with peace. It cannot satisfy us. It gives only to take away. It fails in order to disappoint. Every road, path, way, direction, goal, ambition and achievement in the world is pointless. Yet the world can present seeming illusions of "things going well", for a while, before it attacks and destroys what it has given. It can tempt you will fake happiness and fake values and fake salvation, only to fail you once again and deceive you in doing so.
"On some you travel gaily for a while, before the bleakness enters. And on some the thorns are felt at once."
"The world you see is merciless indeed, unstable, cruel, unconcerned with you, quick to avenge and pitiless with hate. It gives but to rescind, and takes away all things that you have cherished for a while."
Jesus is not being negative when he describes the world like this. The world IS like this, isn't it? It's not a matter of how you look at it. There is no real loss in admitting to this, nor is this an attack upon the world. It isn't an unforgiving accusation. It is just a simple clear look at the world we made, its inherent nature, and its limitations. It is a world of limits, not a world of freedom, which is why it is like a prison for everyone in it.
"Are you not weary of imprisonment? God did not choose this sorry path for you."
"If it (mind) does not freely elect to do so, it retains this creative ability, but places itself under tyrannous rather than authoritative control. As a result, what it creates is imprisonment, because such are the dictates of tyrants."
The world itself is tyrrannical. It is selfish and separate. Each part of it is separate and at war with every other. Even the forms of objects are in conflict, which is why they are different. Conflicting shapes, sizes, colors, textures, they are all forms of war. Everything the body sees is a form of conflict. Every atom is at war. You cannot turn something that is fundamentally conflicting into something that isn't, because this will erase all of its properties and it will cease to exist.
It is by recognizing the world as "the hell you made", that we might be willing to go the other way. It is when we sugarcoat it as "not hell" in a spiritualizing pretense to make it seem wanted and worthy, that we put ourselves to sleep. We are blinded by perception of form and tempted by its luster and flair. Its picture frame of jewel-encrusted death suggests it is not a world of death but our most cherished possession.
We are to correctly identify that the world IS meaningless and IS nothing and HAS nothing that we want and DOES nothing for or to us and ISN'T our inheritance from God and IS NOT real and HAS no power and is basically absolutely NOTHING. The recognition that "there is no world." How can a world which does not really exist appeal to us and be something we want INSTEAD OF God? At the cost of heaven? And in a bargain where we "gain the whole world and lose our soul"?
True escape from the battleground does not entail the faulty belief that the battleground can be made into a pleasant place. You can rise above it, and you can leave the desert, and you can see it in a better light. But you cannot change what it IS. And denying what it is merely keeps you in hell for longer. And that isn't going to make you very happy.
"The world you see must be denied."
"Awareness of dreaming is the real function of God's teachers. They watch the dream figures come and go, shift and change, suffer and die. Yet they are not deceived by what they see."
"A desert is a desert is a desert. You can do anything you want in it, but you CANNOT change it from what it IS. It still lacks water, which is why it IS a desert." ... "The thing to do with a deserve is to LEAVE."
"Be not deceived by all the different names its roads are given. They have but one end. And each is but the means to GAIN that end, for it is here that all its roads will lead, however differently they seem to start; however differently they seem to go. Their end is certain, for there is no choice among them. All of them will lead to death. On some you travel gaily for a while, before the bleakness enters. And on some the thorns are felt at once. The choice is not WHAT will the ending be, but WHEN it comes."
"A Son of God is happy ONLY when he knows he is WITH God. That is the only environment in which he will not experience strain, because that is where he belongs. It is also the only environment that is worthy of him, because his own worth is beyond ANYTHING that he can make."
"That is the only environment in which you can be happy. You cannot make it, any more than you can make yourselves. But it has been created for you, as you were created for it. God watches over His children and denies them nothing."
"You do not really want the world you see, for it has disappointed you since time began. The homes you built have never sheltered you. The roads you made have led you nowhere, and no city that you built has withstood the crumbling assault of time. Nothing you made but has the mark of death upon it. Hold it not dear, for it is old and tired, and ready to return to dust, even as you made it."
"God's teachers can have no regret on giving up the pleasures of the world. Is it a sacrifice to give up pain? Does an adult resent the giving up of children's toys? Does one whose vision has already glimpsed the Face of Christ look back with longing on a slaughter house? No-one who has escaped the world and all its ills looks back on it with condemnation. Yet he must rejoice that he is free of all the sacrifice which its values would demand of him. To them he sacrifices all his freedom. To them he sacrifices all his peace. And to possess them must he sacrifice his hope of Heaven and remembrance of his Father's Love. Who in his sane mind chooses nothing as a substitute for everything?"
"What is the real meaning of sacrifice? It is the cost of believing in illusions. It is the price that must be paid for the denial of truth. There is no pleasure of the world that does not demand this, for otherwise the pleasure would be seen as pain. And no-one asks for pain if he recognizes it. It is the idea of sacrifice that makes him blind. He does not see what he is asking for. And so he seeks it in a thousand ways and in a thousand places, each time believing it is there and each time disappointed in the end. "Seek but do not find" remains this world's stern decree, and no-one who pursues the world's goals can do otherwise."
"Death is the central dream from which all illusions stem. Is it not madness to think of life as being born, aging, losing vitality, and dying in the end?"
"The world you see is the delusional system of those made mad by guilt. Look carefully at this world, and you will realize that this is so. For this world is the symbol of punishment, and all the laws which seem to govern it are the laws of death. Children are born into it through pain and in pain. Their growth is attended by suffering, and they learn of sorrow and separation and death. Their minds are trapped in their brain, and its powers decline if their bodies are hurt. They seem to love, yet they desert, and are deserted. They appear to lose what they love, perhaps the most insane belief of all. And their bodies wither and gasp and are laid in the ground, and seem to be no more. Not one of them but has thought that God is cruel."
"YOU DO NOT WANT THE WORLD. The only thing of value in it is whatever part of it YOU look upon with love. This GIVES it the only reality it will ever have. ITS value is NOT in itself, but yours IS in you."
"What is meaningless is neither good nor bad. Why, then, should a meaningless world upset you? If you could accept the world as meaningless and let the truth be written upon it for you, it would make you indescribably happy."
This text reminded me of a story, which today I see as emblematic. When I was about 6, 7 years old, I was at home with a friend playing a game called Doom – Hell on Earth. Perhaps because it had such impressive graphics for the time, I remember innocently remarking to my friend that hell was cool and fun.
Perhaps salvation passes through this recognition, that hell is not cool and has nothing of value to offer. It’s just rubbish, a mistake, a waste of time. The way is just quit that “game” and live the true reality.
Add your comment...