"It is impossible to see two worlds which have no overlap of any kind. Seek for the one; the other disappears. But one remains. They are the range of choice beyond which your decision cannot go. The real and the unreal are all there is to choose between, and nothing more than these."
As Jesus states here, the real and the unreal are all that you can choose between. Each of these is a "world", or a system of thought or order or thought. Reality is the higher order reality, an unreality is the lower order "reality" - the illusion of spacetime. These are the only two states that you can choose between. Two worlds, not three.
The "real world" described in A Course in Miracles, sometimes speaks in a manner which makes it sounds as if it is some kind of "in-between world", between heaven and earth. Not earth, not heaven, but something else. There are also references to it being a borderland of thought between the two. Kind of like the threshold of a doorway which is not really a place but a transition or meeting place, like a bridge.
But there are also other references to the real world which are framed more as if references to heaven itself. Such as "nothing there but shines and shines forever." And "This aching world has not the power to touch the living world at all." And "Yet the REAL world HAS the power to touch you even here BECAUSE YOU LOVE IT." These references are to me clearly references to heaven, yet use the term "real world".
I think in ACIM circles the attempt to grasp "what is the real world" has led to a lot of confusion especially due to the use of the term "real", and has led people to think it is a third world interposed between heaven and earth. I don't think this is really the case. I've been shown and told that the real world is the kingdom of God.
In terms of what Jesus has said about there being only TWO options, the "real world" becomes a far more appropriate term for HEAVEN. Because after all, Jesus is very careful and accurate in his choice of words, and heaven IS very appropriately "a real world". Not a pseudo-reality or an inbetween-almost-reality but actual reality. What else would you very appropriately call heaven but "a real world" - because it is actually completely real.
I see also references to christ vision looking beyond the physical unreal world to the light of heaven. I see references to us seeing christ - and christ is in heaven. I see references even to seeing God or having visions of God, who is not in this world. There are references to seeing your creations as well, which are in heaven. These all seem to further point to "the real world" being heaven.
Now, that said, it IS clear that there is a CONTEXT, and it also is the most frequent context, in which "the real world" term is referring to something seemingly "outside" of heaven. Particularly in terms of "For as Heaven and earth become one, even the real world will vanish from your sight." And "The real world still is but a dream." Plus "And what was once a dream of judgment now has changed into a dream where all is joy, because that is the PURPOSE that it has. Only forgiving dreams can enter here, for time is almost over. And the forms which enter in the dreams are now perceived as brothers, not in judgment, but in love."
Now here's how I'm interpreting this. Let's simply and logically clearly say that heaven is the only real world. It is appropriately titled the real world. Let's also recognize that in spacetime we are using perception. Perception is once removed from knowledge. It is judgemental and interpretative rather than direct cognition or knowing. Perception is image-making. This "layer" of images overlays reality.
So now let's say that there is heaven AS a real world, and then there is a PERCEPTION OF heaven from "outside of it". This is a perception experienced by those who still have perception, who are looking in the direction of heaven, toward the light of God. They are literally peering INTO heaven from the outside. I think of this as "window shopping". They're outside heaven, in a body, having a perception or "vision" (true perception), but they're looking towards and upon reality.
"when you have looked on scenes of violence and death, and WATCHED them change to quiet views of gardens under open skies, with clear life-giving water running happily beside them in dancing brooks that never waste away; who need PERSUADE you to accept the gift of vision?"
This PERCEPTION OF reality is a dream still. It's like an image or a surface crust or layer of how heaven would appear TO perception. And let's not forget that "Even the perception of the Holy Spirit, as perfect as perception CAN be, is without meaning in Heaven. Perception can reach EVERYWHERE under His guidance, for the vision of Christ beholds EVERYTHING in light." This to me implies that perception can reach to heaven and can see heaven.
So now what I'm saying is, the context where "the real world" is described as a borderland, a bridge, an image, a symbol, the face of christ, still a dream which can disappear, this is all talking about the PERCEPTUAL INTERPRETATION OF HEAVEN. It's not a direct experience of heaven or christ but it's how heaven and christ look when you use perception to look at them instead of direct knowing. It's still a little removed from heaven but it forms a kind of "image" or symbolic experience of it. This image is still a dream and that's why it comes to an end.
"The real world is the symbol that the dream of sin and guilt is over, and God's Son no longer sleeps. His waking eyes perceive the sure reflection of his Father's Love"
"But the Face of Christ is the great symbol of forgiveness. It is salvation. It is the symbol of the real world. Whoever looks on this no longer sees the world. He is as near to Heaven as is possible outside the gate."
So here Jesus seems to be confirming that "the real world" as used in its more common context, being removed from heaven, is SYMBOLIC - a symbolic version of the ACTUAL REAL HEAVEN. And symbols aren't something in themselves, they POINT TO the thing. They represent it, like a photograph. By using PERCEPTION to look upon the reality of the kingdom, you see it symbolically and no longer see the physical world. The "face of christ" then literally is like a surface appearance of christ, an outside "facade" ie a symbolic representation of the christ that is WITHIN heaven.
This to me is currently the only way to support the idea that there are ONLY two worlds. Not that there is a "real world" sandwiched in between them, or that this borderland has stuff in it. Because we're also told ""The real world is not like this. It has no buildings, and there are no streets where people walk alone and separately. There are no stores where people buy an endless list of things they do not need. It is not lit with artificial light, and night comes not upon it. There is no day that brightens and grows dim. There is no loss. Nothing is there but shines, and shines forever."
To me, the only way "the real world" can have contents that shine FOREVER, in contradiction to the fact that "even the real world will vanish from your sight", is that it's a reference to HEAVEN. Heaven's contents will shine forever. Heaven IS the real world. But the PERCEPTUAL VISION of heaven is what he refers to in the context of "the real world" that is a symbolic dream, which ends. First you see the kingdom as accurately as perception CAN, within its limits, and then you go INTO it.
"Perception can reach EVERYWHERE under His guidance, for the vision of Christ beholds EVERYTHING in light. But no perception, however holy, will last FOREVER."
"Nothing that you remember, that made your heart seem to sing with joy, has ever brought you even a little part of the happiness this sight will bring you. FOR YOU WILL SEE THE SON OF GOD. You will behold the beauty that the Holy Spirit loves to look upon, and that He thanks the Father for."
Note here that he's telling us that in the holy spirit's PERCEPTION, we will see the son of God. Where is the Son of God? He's in heaven. He IS heaven. He is the sonship. The Holy Spirit loves to look upon christ who is in heaven. His perception is a vision of christ, which later gives way to the direct cognitive knowledge of christ.
"And he cannot fail to look upon what Christ would have him see, and share Christ's love for what he looks upon."
"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God" is another way of saying the same thing. Only the innocent CAN see God."
This is why I've concluded that essentially the forgiven world is the ILLUSORY world of space and time and matter, which is looking AWAY from heaven towards form. It is earth, the world, which has been forgiven. And forgiveness forgives it BY OVERLOOKING IT, looking beyond it towards heaven. The real world is heaven, and it is the light which christ vision sees, which is initially seen using perception. When this perception is full and complete, as in seeing the face of christ or "christ as if seen from the outside", perception ends and you now enter into heaven.
ie "the real world" really is the kingdom of God. The perceptual interpretation of that real world is what is commonly thought to be "the real world". The real world is NOT a reinterpreted earth. That's the forgiven world. Because reality cannot be forgiven, only illusions can be overlooked. Christ vision which is true perception forgives the world by looking past it to the light of reality.
There are only two worlds. Reality and unreality. Perception is always within the realm of unreality, but can be adjusted to be more accurate and thus to perceive reality from the "outside". To interpret the kingdom. This is its view of the real world of heaven from within the perceptual landscape. When this perception is whole, the illusory forgiven world disappears entirely and is forgotten, and perception comes to an end.
So the commonly referenced "real world" (outside of heaven) is actually a perceptual interpretation OF the ACTUALLY REAL world of heaven. It's you looking at heaven through perceptual interpretation, with vision (true perception). It looks just like heaven because it is looking AT heaven. It is not a third world but is actually an experience of heaven's reality and contents through the heaven-aligned filter of true perception. Perception no longer distorts it and perceives it directly. This perceptual layer thus becomes irrelevant because it is not needed, and you then move into the direct experience without perception in the way, to SEE the SAME REAL WORLD of the kingdom, forever.
"Accept the one illusion which proclaims there is no condemnation in God's Son, and Heaven is remembered instantly; the world forgotten, all its weird beliefs forgotten with it, as the Face of Christ appears unveiled at last in this one dream."
"Beyond this world there is a world I want."
"Your Kingdom is not of this world because it was given you from BEYOND this world."
"Nothing is there but shines, and shines forever." This world you see MUST BE DENIED, for sight of it is costing you a different kind of vision. YOU CANNOT SEE BOTH WORLDS, for each of them involves a different kind of seeing, and depends on what you cherish. The sight of one is possible because you have denied the other."
"No-one in this distracted world but has not seen some glimpses of the other world about him."
"The real world is the way that leads you to remembrance of this one thing that is wholly true, and wholly YOURS. For all else you have LENT yourself in time, and it WILL fade. But this one thing is ALWAYS yours, being the gift of God unto His Son. Your ONE reality was GIVEN you, and BY it God created you as one with Him."
"As mediator between the two worlds, He (Holy Spirit) knows what you have need of, and WHICH WILL NOT HURT YOU."
"It is impossible to see two worlds which have no overlap of any kind. Seek for the one; the other disappears. But one remains." "Heaven remains your only alternative to the strange world you made."
"The picture of light, in clear-cut and unmistakable contrast, is transformed into what lies BEYOND the picture. As you look on THIS, you realize that IT IS NOT A PICTURE, but a reality. This is no figured REPRESENTATION of a thought-system, but the Thought Itself. What IT represents is THERE. The frame fades gently, and God rises to your remembrance, offering you the whole of creation,"
"The (physical unreal) world stands like a block before Christ's face (perception's view of christ in heaven). But true perception (vision) looks on it as nothing more than just a fragile veil (of illusions), so easily dispelled that it can last no longer than an instant. It is seen at last for only what it is (an illusion, nothing). And now it cannot fail to disappear (so it is recognized and vanishes), for now there is an empty place made clean and ready. Where destruction was perceived the face of Christ appears (a vision of heaven), and in that instant is the world forgot (the forgiven unreal world) , with time (spacetime) forever ended as the world (forgiven) spins into nothingness from where it came."
"And now God's KNOWLEDGE, changeless, certain, pure and wholly understandable, enters its Kingdom. Gone is perception, false and true alike. Gone is forgiveness, for its task is done. And gone are bodies in the blazing light upon the altar to the Son of God. God knows it is His Own, as it is his. And here They join, for here the face of Christ has shone away time's final instant, and now is the last perception of the world without a purpose and without a cause. For where God's memory has come at last there is no journey, no belief in sin, no walls, no bodies, and the grim appeal of guilt and death is there snuffed out forever."