Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics and Choice in A Course in Miracles

Note: This article was originally published in Jon Mundy's Miracles magazine, Nov/Dec, 2013.

There are many principles in A Course in Miracles that run counter-intuitive to our daily experience. For example, the Course tells us we have only one choice, between the ego’s and the Holy Spirit’s thought systems. However, don’t we decide when to get up, what to eat, what career we have, etc.?

Recently I read about the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) of quantum mechanics, and the light bulb came on. MWI is commonly known as the parallel worlds theory. The theory states that every possible outcome that can happen, does happen. Every time a particle is observed it splits into a parallel universe in which the new idea becomes manifest. Thoughts are observations. For example, say you think, “I’d like to go to Tahiti on vacation. On second thought, I’d rather climb Mt. Everest.” Both of those scenarios manifest, but in separate universes that are unaware of each other. If you go to Tahiti, you don’t know that you climbed Mt. Everest in a parallel universe. This happens ad infinitum with every thought you have.

Is this what Jesus meant in the Bible when he said that committing adultery in one’s heart is the same as doing the deed?

The ramifications are mind-boggling. A Course in Miracles concurs with MWI in some areas, but not others. Like MWI, the Course states,

“All thinking produces form at some level” (T-2.VI.9:14) “You who believe that God is fear made but one substitution. It has taken many forms…It has become so splintered and subdivided and divided again, over and over, that it is now almost impossible to perceive it once was one, and still is what it was” (T-18.I.4:1-3).

Most physics theories, including MWI, insist that matter is the only reality and that mind does not exist. MWI denies the role of consciousness in observation. Rather, the mere act of looking is what causes the particle to separate into two distinct universes. In this theory, the world is deterministic and happening of its own accord. Choice plays no role.

In contrast to MWI, A Course in Miracles states Mind is the only reality and all physical form is illusion. Mind is outside of time and space, looking in.

A Course in Miracles both agrees and disagrees with MWI about the appearance of choice. There is no choice in the physical world, but there is choice in Mind. ACIM states that regarding the physical illusion we have only one choice to make, and even that choice is an illusion. Like MWI, the Course states that we are only looking, not really choosing. The only seeming choice we have is to look at the physical universe with either the perspective of the ego or the Holy Spirit. Since the choice is only about observing, or looking at the cosmos, it is not a choice between physical, tangible objects. Buying a red car or a blue one is a choice between illusions. Every apparent choice in the physical world can only be a choice between illusions, which is not true choice. This confuses the brain, which is convinced that it is making valid choices. However, the brain is part of the illusion too, because it’s part of the body. We are Mind, not bodies, and the brain is a filtering mechanism to shut out awareness of our true Identity as Mind.

“The laws that govern choice you cannot make, no more than you can make alternatives from which to choose. The choosing you can do; indeed, you must. But it is wise to learn the laws you set in motion when you choose, and what alternatives you choose between. We have already stressed there are but two, however many there appear to be. The range is set, and this we cannot change…there is but one choice that must be made…each choice you make brings everything to you or nothing”
(W-133.3:3-5; 4:1-3; 5:3).

The ego world, which is the physical universe, tricks us into believing that we are making choices, that we do have some semblance of control in this chaotic world. “If I can only make the right choices,” the ego reasons, “I will have a happy life.” The ego believes, “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” ACIM counters,

“The world of time is the world of illusion. What happened long ago seems to be happening now. Choices made long since appear to be open; yet to be made. As the course emphasizes, you are not free to choose the curriculum, or even the form in which you will learn it” (my bold font) (M-2.3:1-2; 6). “You need to be reminded that you think a thousand choices are confronting you, when there is really only one to make. And even this but seems to be a choice” (W-p.I.138.4:1-2)

The Course is bluntly agreeing with MWI, that we think we are making multiple choices, but we’re really not. However, unlike MWI, A Course in Miracles acknowledges the crucial role of the only choice we think we can make while we think we are in a physical world. ACIM indicates that the physical world is deterministic, while the real world, the mind of love, is free.

MWI states that we can only be aware of one universe at a time. The observation, the looking, brings about the new universe. Similar to MWI, the Course tells us we cannot see both the world of the ego and the real world of the Holy Spirit at the same time.

“It is impossible to see two worlds which have no overlap of any kind. Seek for the one; the other disappears. They are the range of choice beyond which your decision cannot go. The real and the unreal are all there are to choose between” (W-p.I.130.5). “Two ways of looking at the world are in your mind, and your perception will reflect the guidance you have chosen” (T-12.VII.5:6).

A Course in Miracles bids us to look at the world with the Holy Spirit, not to make choices to alter things.

“Seek not to change the world,
but choose to change your mind about the world” (T-21.In.1:7).

Miracles are the result of looking with the Holy Spirit. Miracles collapse the laws of time and space because form is simply a projection of the mind and has no independent existence. Miracles pop us into another dimension, a new universe. For example, say you are angry and want to yell at a loved one. One universe spins off in which you yell, and perhaps the relationship is severed, not to be healed for what seems many lifetimes. But if you ask, “Holy Spirit, look at this with me,” you may communicate with your loved one and the relationship may deepen. Whichever eyes you use—ego’s eyes of separation or the Holy Spirit’s eyes of love—will determine the universe you see. ACIM reminds us,

“Miracles are part of an interlocking chain of forgiveness which, when completed, is the Atonement. Atonement works all the time and in all the dimensions of time” (T-1.I.25). Jesus says, “When you perform a miracle, I will arrange both time and space to adjust to it” (T-2.V.A.11: 3). The miracle substitutes for learning that might have taken thousands of years. The miracle shortens time by collapsing it, thus eliminating certain intervals within it (T-1.II.6:7, 9).

The reason we only appear to have one choice between two alternatives is that the ego thought system is time and space. It is an illusory, closed system that was over in that same instant in which we had the tiny mad idea of separation. We are mind, asleep in heaven, observing, or dreaming, a physical cosmos of infinite dimensions. In heaven there is oneness. There is no choice because choice implies separate things to choose between.

After I researched MWI I awoke in the middle of the night with massive anxiety. Then I looked at the fear with the Holy Spirit and was reminded of Lesson 346.

“The peace of God envelops me and I forget all things except His Love.”

I fell back asleep to sweet dreams.

Lorri Coburn, MSW, is the author of Breaking Free: How Forgiveness and A Course in Miracles Can Set You Free. Visit her website,, to see youtube videos on ACIM.