The Meaning of ‘Create’ in the Course

“Create” in the Course (after the early portions of the Text) is a word with a very specific meaning. It is really one of the Course’s technical terms. The starting point of this technical meaning is actually the conventional meaning of “create”: “to cause to exist; to bring into being” (from In normal usage, to create has the connotation of bringing something into being that did not exist before. It has the connotation of creation ex nihilo—creation out of nothing. That is why we use the word to refer to things like God creating the world or an artist creating a painting. In this view, both world and painting sprang into being solely through their author’s creative efforts. They didn’t exist before being conceived by their creator.

All of this stands in contrast to the word “make.” “Make” really refers to modifying existing materials: “To bring into existence by shaping, modifying, or putting together material” ( You make something “out of” something else. There is a reference in the Urtext to this very idea and to its contrast with the idea of creating:

Since the Separation, the words “create” and “make” are inevitably confused. When you make something, you make it…out of a something that already exists. (Urtext version of T-3.V.2:1-2)

So “make” has to do with merely modifying existing materials, while “create” has to do with bringing something into being from scratch.

When we think of a creator (divine or human) bringing something into being, we naturally think of a physical something. We associate existence with physical existence, and so to bring something into existence—to create—sounds physical to us.

Yet the Course takes this same concept—bringing something into being that didn’t exist before—and plugs it into its own very different system. In that system, being is not physical. Being is spiritual. More specifically, being is spirit, which is formless, timeless, spaceless, and changeless.

Therefore, in the Course, to create is to bring into being formless, eternal spirit, without boundary and without change. That is what is created. That is what God creates. And that is what we, as the awakened Sons of God, create. We bring into being formless spirit, which didn’t exist “before” we brought it into being (though “before” is obviously a problematic concept in eternity).

Once you grasp this concept (to the extent we can at this time), you immediately see that “creation” cannot be done in this world. How do you create limitless, formless spirit in a world of limited forms? How do you create something that is timeless and spaceless in a world of time and space? If you really understand the word “create” in the Course, then you realize that to speak of creating in this world is really to just blather, to speak gibberish. It is like saying, “I went underwater in my swimming pool today and lit a nice toasty campfire.” The Course itself acknowledges this quite openly:

Creation cannot even be conceived of in the world. It has no meaning here….For being Heaven-born, it has no form at all. (W-pI.192.3:1-2, 4)

In this world it is impossible to create. (T-17.IV.2:1)

This means, therefore, that our creations, in the Course sense, are not our loving thoughts in this world, or our loving deeds in this world, or animals, or nature. Think about it: Are any of them formless, changeless, limitless, eternal?

Having clarified what creation is not, it can seem like a pretty meaningless idea, like a big puzzling zero. However, there is a positive side. The impulse to create is one of our most fundamental impulses. It is innate in us to want to express what is deepest in us and thereby bring something new and wonderful into being. That is the artistic impulse. That is the mother’s impulse and the father’s impulse. What makes the creative act satisfying, I think, are three things: first, having something deep within us be able to express itself; second, having that expression bring into being something truly wonderful and valuable; and third, having that something appreciated by others so that it makes a larger contribution, a contribution to the whole.

Imagine, then, that as a creator in this sense, you get to express, not some feeling or idea that you have had, but your very identity, your very being. Imagine that you get to extend your identity—which should really be spelled “Identity”—outward and bring into being something permanent and wonderful. Then imagine that this permanent creation is actually a living thing, a life, with its own mind, heart, thoughts, feelings, and will. Yet this alive creation is not a limited physical entity. It is immortal. It is perfect. And it is limitless, just as you are. It is pure spirit. Imagine extending your Identity to bring into being a perfect, limitless spirit, as much God’s Son as you are God’s Son.

Imagine that this perfect, limitless spirit looks to you as its creator and overflows with gratitude toward you for giving it life. The Course says, “Your creations love you as you love your Father for the gift of creation” (T-8.VI.5:7). Imagine that your creation contributes, not to some tiny society on earth, but to the Kingdom of God. Through it, you make an eternal contribution to God’s eternal Heaven. “You have the power to add to the Kingdom” (T-7.I.2:7). Finally, imagine that this is all you do in Heaven. This is your full-time job, and it is joyful beyond description.

If giving birth to a beautiful child or creating a beautiful work of art is satisfying, then the kind of creation talked about in the Course would be far more satisfying—infinitely more satisfying. That, according to the Course, is what we have to look forward to. Could it be true?

[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]