[NOTE: So here is Part #3 of the Intro to ACIM that I have been blogging about the last few days, and btw, I would love your feedback, thank you. : ) ]
GO TO THE SOURCE
First off, as the Course itself advises us in various ways, it’s generally a good idea to “consider the source” and start with the original source material (though on a deeper level, “consider the source” would mean the Source, aka God, Spirit, the Ground of Being, Love, etc.), and for that you might want to purchase the following comprehensive edition of the Course put out by the Foundation for A Course in Miracles, click HERE . To the best of my knowledge, this is the most complete edition of the Course available, and it’s also the “standard” edition in the sense that most people citing chapter and verse are referring to this edition.
The entire Course can also be read for free online HERE .
For a summary background on how the Course came to be written and what it says, I recommend starting with the following:
“A Course in Miracles is a complete self-study spiritual thought system. As a three-volume curriculum consisting of a Text, Workbook for Students, and Manual for Teachers, it teaches that the way to universal love and peace—or remembering God—is by undoing guilt through forgiving others. The Course thus focuses on the healing of relationships and making them holy. A Course in Miracles also emphasizes that it is but one version of the universal curriculum, of which there are “many thousands.” Consequently, even though the language of the Course is that of traditional Christianity, it expresses a non-sectarian, non-denominational spirituality. A Course in Miracles therefore is a universal spiritual teaching, not a religion.”
“There is a course for every teacher of God. The form of the course varies greatly. So do the particular teaching aids involved…. This is a manual for a special curriculum, intended for teachers of a special form of the universal course. There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome.”
~ A Course in Miracles
The Introduction to the Course by Jesus and Helen Schucman (“How It Came,” “What It Is,” and “What It Says” – found in the Foundation’s printed edition of the Course).
After you read these, I would also highly recommend watching at least the first part of the following film (free on Youtube) that goes into more detail about how the Course came into existence: The Story of A Course in Miracles . It’s a very beautiful film and had my eyes welling up the first time I watched it.
SECONDARY SOURCES – BOOKS ABOUT THE COURSE
Ironically, most people don’t get into the Course by actually reading it first, however, because it is initially so challenging to understand; rather, people generally get into it through secondary sources such as books that have been written about the Course. The potential pitfall and caution with secondary sources is that they are only as good as the author themselves understand the Course (every “translation” is an interpretation). So with that cautionary word to the wise, here are a few of the most popular of these books about ACIM, and please keep in mind there are many other very helpful ones, these are just a few of the bestsellers:
Love Is Letting Go of Fear, Gerald G. Jampolsky
A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson
The Disappearance of the Universe, Gary Renard
A Course in Miracles Made Easy, Alan Cohen
Of these, it appears that Gary Renard’s book has been the most helpful on a mass level in serving as a kind of “primer” or preparation for the Course. Not only has the “D.U.” (as it’s been called) brought many new students to the Course, but it has also brought back many “lapsed” Course students and/or those who had difficulty understanding its message. So of the 3 books above, I am recommending that you read Renard’s book to help get started with ACIM, yet with the following caveat …
There has been one big issue with Renard’s book, and it is this: While it purports to be a dialogue between the author and two ascended masters (Arten and Pursah) who teach him all about the Course in a series of meetings over the course of a decade, some have cast doubt upon this claim. Renard’s detractors, some of whom are also long-time students of the Course and Renard’s peers, argue that D.U. draws heavily upon the teachings of Ken Wapnick, the first teacher of the Course and one of its earliest editors.
Without saying more about this controversy here (I might go into it more later), I would just like to acknowledge that if it weren’t for Renard’s book, many people, myself included, might never have gotten interested in the Course. So whether Gary’s book is based on a true story or not, it definitely served its purpose for me, and many others as well. This is why I do recommend it for those who would like to get a kind of overview of the Course before they actually dive into the Course itself. [Note: Two contemporaries of mine who also got into the Course through Gary Renard’s book deserve mentioning here: Kenneth Bok, creator a popular ACIM video series on Youtube; and Alexander Marchand, author of The Universe is a Dream. The latter is a particularly helpful and fun way to explore the teachings of ACIM.]
 Manual for Teachers 1.3:1,2,4:1,2.