Does the Course’s Teaching on Vision Fit What People Experience?

My article What Is Vision? in last month’s A Better Way focused on examples of vision rather than on Course teaching about vision. This naturally raised the question of whether the experiences I included actually fit what the Course means by vision. I especially imagined readers thinking that I had gone a bit soft on strict fidelity to the Course. After all, in these experiences, people are in some cases seeing visual light around bodies and objects. They are seeing God glowing in plants, stones, grains of sand, boards, rags, debris, broken bottles, and even molecules in the air. Isn’t that all a bit woo-woo? And doesn’t it imply that the physical world is real? If something is full of God, doesn’t that make it real?

The fact remains, however, that the experiences I included are strikingly similar to descriptions of vision in the Course. I honestly can’t see any meaningful difference between them. To show you what I mean, I have taken the composite experience of vision from my article and, alongside the various parts of it, placed Course quotes that mirror the experiences. For these quotes, I have tried to use passages that are specifically about vision. In the few cases where a passage is not about vision, I have followed it with an asterisk.

So please read through these two columns, comparing the items in the left column (the composite experience of vision from my article) to the items in the right column (descriptions of vision from the Course). Answer for yourself the question: Is the experience on the left really an example of what the Course means by vision?

Composite experience of vision Descriptions of vision from the Course
I was in a decrepit and ugly area, the ground covered with boards, rags, and debris. The people looked dirty and shabby. When you have looked on what seemed terrifying, and seen it change to sights of loveliness and peace; 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? (T-20.VIII.11:1)
I passed a disheveled, dirty, street person who looked very drunk. I found myself judging him. All of a sudden, what I saw changed. Time also seemed to change—it slowed down. And you will see him suddenly transformed from enemy to savior; from the devil into Christ. (W-pI.161.11:6)
I was now shocked by the homeless man’s overwhelming beauty, a beauty that I suddenly became aware of beyond his outer appearance. Can you imagine how beautiful those you forgive will look to you? In no fantasy have you ever seen anything so lovely. (T-17.II.1:1-2)
He was stunningly beautiful to me. I felt as if I should kneel at his feet. And in Christ’s vision is his loveliness reflected in a form so holy and so beautiful that you could scarce refrain from kneeling at his feet. (W-pI.161.9:3)
He was stunningly beautiful to me. I felt as if I should kneel at his feet. And in Christ’s vision is his loveliness reflected in a form so holy and so beautiful that you could scarce refrain from kneeling at his feet. (W-pI.161.9:3)
Along the contour edge of his body, there were some glistening sparkling things, like star points. You will begin to understand it when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now. That is the beginning of real vision. (W-pI.2:2-3)
Then I looked around and it wasn’t just this person—it was everyone. Everyone there was unbelievably beautiful and incredibly dear. I will recognize in everyone my dearest Friend. (W-pI.rI.60.3:5)

[Your brothers] are all the same; all beautiful and equal in their holiness. (T-13.VIII.6:1)

Nothing you see here, sleeping or waking, comes near to such loveliness [the loveliness of those you forgive]. And nothing will you value like unto this, nor hold so dear. (T-17.II.1:3-4)

Indeed, everything was alive and full of energy and intelligence. Everything appeared to have an “inside” just as I do. Everything was urgent with life, which was the same in the boards, the broken bottles, the people. And every object, seen under this aspect, appeared exceedingly beautiful See only this Mind everywhere, because only this is everywhere and in everything. (T-7.V.10:10)

[The table] has something to show you; something beautiful and clean and of infinite value, full of happiness and hope. (W-pI.28.5:2)

The world will be transformed before your sight, cleansed of all guilt and softly brushed with beauty. (T-19.IV(A).15:2)

I saw the unity and interconnectedness of all life. Plants, stones, and animals had an awareness of this connection and their inner spark of life. [Christ’s vision] sees no separation. (W-pI.158.7:4)

All things that live bring gifts to you, and offer them in gratitude and gladness at your feet. The scent of flowers is their gift to you. The waves bow down before you, and the trees extend their arms to shield you from the heat, and lay their leaves before you on the ground that you may walk in softness, while the wind sinks to a whisper round your holy head.
The light in you is what the universe longs to behold. All living things are still before you, for they recognize Who walks with you. The light you carry is their own. And thus they see in you their holiness, saluting you as savior and as God. (W-pI.156.4:2-5:4) *

All things seemed to glow with a light that came from within them. I saw it in everything and everyone and everywhere. It was in every grain of sand, in every molecule in the infinite sky. And I saw that this holy light glowed in people’s hearts Nothing is there [in the real world] but shines, and shines forever. (T-13.VII.1:7)

[Christ’s vision] looks on everyone, on every circumstance, all happenings and all events, without the slightest fading of the light it sees. (W-pI.158.7:5)

How holy is the smallest grain of sand, when it is recognized as being part of the completed picture of God’s Son! (T-28.IV.9:4)

The smallest leaf becomes a thing of wonder, and a blade of grass a sign of God’s perfection. (T-17.II.6:3)

I recognized this radiance as the light of God. There was nowhere I could look that did not contain the essence of this Being. I had no doubt that I was seeing God Our eyes behold His [God’s] loveliness in all we look upon. (T-pI.124.4:5)

God is in this coat hanger.
God is in this magazine.
God is in this finger.
God is in this lamp.
God is in that body.
God is in that door.
God is in that waste basket.

Then I felt the waves of love wash over us. In that instant I loved everybody and everything with incredible intensity. What is in him will shine so brightly in your grateful vision that you will merely love him and be glad. (T-20.V.4:4)

…a sense of love you cannot understand, a joy too deep for you to comprehend, a sight too holy for the body’s eyes to see. (W-pI.124.11:2)

Only the light they love is in awareness, and only love shines upon them forever. (T-23.IV.8:4)

I was in a state of bliss. Nothing that you remember that made your heart 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. (T-17.II.1:5-6)

What would induce you now to let it fade away from your ecstatic vision? For this sight proves that you have exchanged your blindness for the seeing eyes of Christ. (W-pI.165.5:5-6)

I experienced a complete certainty that at that moment I saw things as they really are. I knew that in our fundamental nature, we are love and we are each loved and forgiven in each moment. [The one with saving vision] brings the light to what he looks upon, that he may see it as it really is. (T-31.VII.11:7)

But see the Love of God in you, and you will see it everywhere because it is everywhere. See His abundance in everyone, and you will know that you are in Him with them. (T-7.VII.10:4-5)

You are only love. (T-6.III.2:3) *

I felt grief at the realization of the real situation of human beings, living continuously in the midst of all this without being aware of it. I could see how they veiled their divinity, muddied over with false ideas about what is important. Never allow purity to remain hidden, but shine away the heavy veils of guilt within which the Son of God has hidden himself from his own sight. (T-14.V.4:5)

Let not the world’s light, given unto you, be hidden from the world. It needs the light, for it is dark indeed, and men despair because the savior’s vision is withheld and what they see is death. Their savior stands, unknowing and unknown, beholding them with eyes unopened. And they cannot see until he looks on them with seeing eyes, and offers them forgiveness with his own. (T-15.VII.15:1-4)

Then the light faded. I began to be aware of time again, and the impression of entering into time was as marked as though I had stepped from air into water, from a rarer into a thicker element Into this place the Holy Spirit comes, and there abides. He will remain when you forget, and the body’s activities return to occupy your conscious mind. (T-18.VII.7:8-9) *

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

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