The Course’s view of the end of the world is very different from current visions, of which I talked about three. There is the religious vision, mainly from Christianity, in which God rains down judgment onto the world in payment for the sins of humanity, after which His kingdom is inaugurated, either on earth or in Heaven. There is the collective fear vision, which you see in post-apocalyptic movies, where humanity has done something to destroy society and much of the earth as well, and you have the remnants of humanity trying to scratch out a living (and hoarding gasoline). And there is the scientific vision, which is about the end of the entire cosmos, either in the Big Freeze (the universe keeps expanding and ultimately cools down to nothing) or the Big Crunch (gravity pulls everything back to a singularity).
The Course vision is, like the scientific view, of the end of the entire physical universe, not just earth. But rather than a case of our collective chickens coming home to roost—suffering collective disaster in payment of our sins—it is a vision in which forgiveness embraces everything. Rather than a real ending, it’s just an illusion of an ending, because the world never really started in the first place. And rather than a mainly physical process, it’s primarily characterized by a collective mental awakening.
This awakening is the real story in the Course’s view of the end of the world. Humanity collectively awakens, more and more and more. And as it does, the world becomes a place of happiness and total harmony. Things even change on a physical level. The Course is full of images of the rebirth of nature in response to an inner awakening and healing. We can expect the laws of time and space themselves to change, since those laws are not real laws. They are merely collective agreements, and with a collective awakening, there will be new agreements.
So this is a very bright vision of the end of the world. It is a reversal of all the darkness in the Course’s view of how the world began. Things just get better and better until the separation, and all its pain and conflict, have been completely reversed: “The world will end in peace, because it is a place of war. When peace has come, what is the purpose of the world? The world will end in laughter, because it is a place of tears. Where there is laughter, who can longer weep? And only complete forgiveness brings all this to bless the world. In blessing it departs, for it will not end as it began” (M-14.5).
Once the process of collective awakening is complete, once everyone has achieved perfect true perception, the Course says in many places that the entire physical universe will disappear. In fact, it twice repeats the exact same phrase “The stars will disappear.” This happens in the final step, where God lifts all His Sons back into Heaven, so that perception disappears and everything perceived disappears with it. This is a very different vision than any conventional one—for the cosmos to disappear is very different than for it to be destroyed.
My concluding point is that the Course calls us to see this goal—the disappearance of the physical realm and the homecoming of all the Sons of God—as our personal goal. Most personal goals, of course, are very focused on me and mine. They are very limited in scope. But that, of course, is a product of the ego. Lesson 319 tells us, “Only the ego can be limited, and therefore it must seek for aims which are curtailed and limiting.” But then it says, “Father, Your Will is total. And the goal which stems from it shares its totality. What aim but the salvation of the world could You have given me?”
Our natural goal, as unlimited beings, is itself unlimited. Our true goal, then, is the homecoming of everyone. It only makes sense that we would have a part in undoing the world, for the Course says that we each played a part in making it: “ And nothing that you think you see in it is really there at all. This is seen and understood as each one takes his part in its undoing, as he did in making it” (T-25.VI.6).
So, can we stretch this far? Can we see our goal as not being restricted to anything strictly personal, but being a total goal, the goal of all the Sons of God coming home?
[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]