Excellent questions. The bulk of my understanding of LoA comes from studying a religious text entitled A Course in Miracles. It has been studied throughout the world, and it has an extraordinarily unique perspective on, oh just so many things. There is just no way to summarize this text. It has so many deep and metaphysical concepts inside of it. It says the text can be summarized with this:
Nothing Real Can Be Threatened. Nothing Unreal Exists. Herein Lies the Peace of God.
But according to this text, our internal definitely creates our external experiences. But because our minds are so deeply programmed with that which is untrue, we have no idea that our world is largely illusory.
If you really think about it, scientifically and philosophically, there is no way for anyone to actually validate the existence of an external world. There is just no way. Everyone perceives the world through light or whatever their brain picks up. How could we ever validate that we are seeing the same things? Can you get inside my head? No. Can I get inside yours? No. Every single person who makes any sort of observation about the world around them is doing it from inside their own head! Therefore, Everyone has their own unique experiences of everything. All we can do us verbally agree on things. We can all say, for example, the sky is usually blue. But what is blue? My blue could be your chartreuse. What is sky? What looks like sky to me, could look like an ocean or a tree to you. There is no way to validate that we are actually seeing the same things. No way.
All we do is use words to agree on things. We do agree that there is a world, for example. But how a person will experience it is directly related to whatever is going on inside her head.
So to answer your question the internal mind creates the external experiences of the world. But because there is more than one internal mind, there is more than one external experience. The ones that have a lot of thoughts behind them are the ones that seem the most Real.
There are an infinite number of external experiences one can choose to have in the holodeck world, but most of us tend to get stuck in just a few of them, which are being thought up by the people closest to us.
There is this theme park called Universal. I love it! The rides at Universal are designed to give you the experience of being inside whatever film the ride is based on. So for Jaws for example, you get on this boat, this fake shark keeps popping up out of the water. For Jurassic Park, you are on a boat and dinosaurs keep popping up at you. On the Simpson ride, you literally are made to feel as if you are a part of a cartoon. Sometimes what they do at Universal seems so real, in their play acting, it can really get scary.
So, think of the external world as that sort of theme park. Having certain experiences are like going on rides. We choose the rides by what we think. We choose rides based on people with us at the park, who are like, let’s all get on this ride!
Why do some of us seemingly end up on terrible, scary rides? Rides like cancer. Or war? Because we are unclear on how what we think and feel (as well as what others think and feel) influences what are body does or the experiences we have. It’s like going to universal and forgetting you are on a ride. Your friends and family forget too. Everyone now thinks Jaws is real. He is going to capsize your boat and eat you. Because you think it is real, it becomes real, for you and people who think like you.
ACIM teaches that the body is just a tool, like a car, and you are not that. But once you buy into the idea that you are your body, you become deeply confused about so many things. You start to believe that you can die, for one. ACIM says, this is nonsense. You cannot die. There’s no such thing as death. There is such a thing as losing your body, but that’s just like losing clothes.
Most organized religions teach some form of eternal continuation, but they don’t teach it really well. (Ever wonder why that is? All the god awful crap they do teach?)
But, if everyone had a very clear understanding of, hey, I am an eternal spiritual being, having a small human spiritual experience, that I control based on what I think and feel, then people would:
1. Choose to have entirely different experiences and
2. Not take the ones they are having so seriously, like cancer for example.
If you believed you are an eternal being, then your body having cancer is like clothes being destroyed. But, according to ACIM, getting sick is an experience that only happens to those who are too attached to their bodies (which most of us are understandably.)
This Russian guy who wrote this book called Transurfacing Reality which explains these concepts in an entirely different way. He explains that when a lot of people hold a thought (like say slavery is good and I should have me some slaves) that thought becomes a system- and that system seems to become very real in our holodec. He calls these pendulums.
So the minute you join the slavery pendulum, for or against, the pendulum snatches you up and takes you to a place in the holodec where slavery is a real thing. It is a ride you chose to get on.
Plenty of people do not get on that ride, however. They just didn’t jump on that pendulum. He explains that once something bad happens to you (a diagnosis of whatever) you start to think about it, obsess about it actually, and then you have jumped on that pendulum and you are delivered deep into that experience inside the holodec.
I would argue, the bulk of our problems come from believing that any of these life experiences are real, or have to be a certain way. Because there are an endless number of pendulums in the world (huge thought systems, that grab people up and take up all their energy (war is a thought system, slavery is a thought system, work is a thought system, money is a thought system designed to tie people to other thought systems) people sort of jump onto whatever pendulums they are being exposed to. It takes a very strong mind to resist a pendulum that is very big, and very close to you. (Say war, in a war torn country.)
So yes, because there is more than one thinker, some external experiences (like war) seem very real. If a million people are thinking of war, and only one is thinking of peace, it becomes nearly impossible for the one thinking of peace to maintain, there is no war. It gets very hard not to jump on the war pendulum.
But say you don’t. Say you are exceptional and can resist it, well then you end up sort of in a blank space in the holodec. Nothing is really happening for you. It’s like being at Universal and riding no rides. It’s boring. Eventually people will jump on some kind of pendulum, if just to ease the boredom.
According to the Russian guy, the best thing that you can do, is create your own pendulum or get on a pendulum that you like, and they do exist. You just have to think and feel your way into them. He calls that Transurfacing reality. Surfing your way to good pockets in the holodec.
With some destructive pendulums, war, sickness, poverty, it becomes difficult to surf one’s way out because the experience itself is painful. It is nearly impossible not to think of war, if your home is being bombed. It is nearly impossible not to think about being sick, when in a lot of pain. It is impossible not to think of poverty, if you are hungry and don’t have access to food. But the trick is to not think of these things, as thinking about them gives them more reality. Think of the peace you want, the food you want. The health you desire, and only that. This can be very difficult. Especially if you reject these concepts.
Only the great spiritual masters have been able to look upon treacherous human conditions, and sort of shrug, and be okay with it. This is because they understand the illusion. Yes the body can be harmed, but YOU cannot be harmed. Not ever.
So LoA attempts to take these very powerful spiritual concepts, and break them down into ridiculous material concepts. It’s really not about wanting stuff. It’s about understanding your power as a spiritual being. It’s about making choices about the experiences you want to have. The pendulums you decide to jump on, and what you learn from those experiences.
When you fail to understand your spiritual nature, you will get caught up on all kinds of crazy pendulums. Along with friends and family. But once you understand your spiritual nature, you choose more spiritually. It is much more fulfilling than jumping on random pendulums.