Introducing A Course in Miracles, Instillment #3

[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. : ) ]

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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:

 

Introduction to A Course in Miracles by ACIM.org

 

“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[1]

 

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

 

YIR-Gary-DU

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.]

 

[1] Manual for Teachers 1.3:1,2,4:1,2.

Into Christ's Presence

want only love

 

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Introducing A Course in Miracles, Instillment #2

NOTE: This is the 2nd Installment (or “Instillment” : ) of the Introduction to the Course that I began posting yesterday.

 

INTRODUCING A COURSE IN MIRACLES

 

“This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.”

This Course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:

 Peace of God

“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.”

     

    And here is a beautiful “prayer” from the Course that I would like to once again share with you here at the outset, especially as it highlights my role as both a teacher AND student, as well as your role as student AND teacher…

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I am here only to be truly helpful.

I am here to represent Him who sent me. 

I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do,

Because He Who sent me will direct me.

I am content to be wherever he Wishes,

Knowing He goes there with me.

 

I will be healed as I let him teach me to heal

*

“Every good teacher hopes to give his students so much of his own learning that they will no longer need him. 

This is the one true goal of the teacher.”

 

~ A Course in Miracles[1]

 

The intention behind this presentation is to provide a contemporary, up-to-date introduction to the phenomenon that is A Course in Miracles (aka “ACIM” and/or “the Course”), one that brings together the most helpful information about the Course from the Web and other resources.  This is primarily intended for those who are new to ACIM, but it could also very well prove helpful to those who are already somewhat familiar with it or even “seasoned.”  Keeping with the Course’s own emphasis on simplicity, every attempt will be made to keep this as simple and clear as possible, as well as fair and balanced.   Because of this, feedback on this presentation is most certainly welcome.

 

So let’s begin…

 

FINDING ANOTHER WAY, A BETTER WAY

 

“Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit.

Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly,

that there must be a better way.

As this recognition becomes more firmly established,

it becomes a turning point.

This ultimately reawakens spiritual vision, simultaneously

weakening the investment in physical sight.

The alternating investment in the two levels of perception is usually experienced as conflict, which can become very acute.

But the outcome is as certain as God.”

                                                      ~ A Course in Miracles[2]

 

The writing of the Course actually began with the decision of two people (Helen Schucman and William Thetford, research psychologists at Columbia University from the ‘50s onward) to find “another way” to communicate and be with each other harmoniously as opposed to their usual antagonistic encounters.  Perhaps you are now coming to the Course because you, too, are seeking “another way” in your life.  Well, you should know that although the Course was ostensibly a way to help Helen and Bill to find peace in their relationship with each other, it is really meant for all of us, as the Course teaches that at essence we all have a shared interest in peace, love and understanding, and in finding our true self (Self).   To help to understand this point, here are some of the issues that might have led you to this point (i.e., reading this book), see if one or more of these applies to your life:

 

~ A failed or troubled relationship, whether with a spouse or significant other, parent, sibling, or friend.

 

~ Achievement of worldly success, only to find that you are still not happy.

 

~ Or conversely, failure to achieve success in life, leaving you feeling hopeless.

 

~ A sense that there must be more to life than this.

 

~ Fear about dying, or anxiety/panic about the future, for you or someone close to you.

 

~ A sense of deep regret and/or guilt about your past actions.

 

~ Confusion about spirituality and religion and how to know what the truth is regarding them.

 

~ A falling out with your birth religion, or religion in general.

 

~ A deep sense of loneliness and despair, or otherwise depression.

 

~ An unshakeable feeling that you are a fraud, a phony and/or that you really don’t like yourself, or worse.

 

~  Putting your trust in someone or something, only to be betrayed.

 

~ A perfectionism that leaves you paralyzed.

 

~ Recognizing that nothing is bringing you the happiness (love, peace, etc.) you truly seek.

 

~ A spiritual experience that left you with questions as to its meaning, one that you cannot seem to find in the world of traditional religion.

And so on…

 

Now, if any of these applied to you, then the Course might just be for you.  And in fact, the Course really is for every body, and isn’t it the case that everybody experiences one or more of those things that were just listed?    The thing is that not everybody is ready yet for the Course because it either might not be the right spiritual path for them, or they might not be at the point where they are ready to seek its guidance.

 

This idea can be summed up in a very simple statement:

 

“The Course is for everybody,

but not everybody is for the Course.”

 

(Or: The Course is for everyone who thinks they’re a body – more on this soon…)

 

The Course itself says:

 

‘Many are called but few are chosen’ should be,

‘All are called but few choose to listen.'”

 

I sense that your being here right now means that you have in some sense heard the “call” and are in a place to really listen to and consider what the Course says and has to offer you.  Given this, let’s get waste no time to get into the thick of it…

[To Be Continued Tomorrow]

 

[1] ACIM, T 4.I. 5:1-2.

 

[2]  ACIM, T2.III.3.5-10.

 

Peace of God

HelenandBillat1W.81stStreetNYC             Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford, the scribes of A Course in Miracles.

sun of god guiltless

Judy_Helen_Kenneth                                                Helen Schucman with Ken Wapnick

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 29

ACIM Text Reading for September 29

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

IV. The Real Alternative

There is a tendency to think the world can offer consolation and escape from problems that its purpose is to keep. Why should this be? Because it is a place where choice among illusions seems to be the only choice. And you are in control of outcomes of your choosing. Thus you think, within the narrow band from birth to death, a little time is given you to use for you alone; a time when everyone conflicts with you, but you can choose which road will lead you out of conflict, and away from difficulties that concern you not. Yet they are your concern. How, then, can you escape from them by leaving them behind? What must go with you, you will take with you whatever road you choose to walk along.

Real choice is no illusion. But the world has none to offer. All its roads but lead to disappointment, nothingness and death. There is no choice in its alternatives. Seek not escape from problems here. The world was made that problems could not be escaped. Be not deceived by all the different names its roads are given. They have but one end. And each is but the means to gain that end, for it is here that all its roads will lead, however differently they seem to start; however differently they seem to go. Their end is certain, for there is no choice among them. All of them will lead to death. On some you travel gaily for a while, before the bleakness enters. And on some the thorns are felt at once. The choice is not what will the ending be, but when it comes.

There is no choice where every end is sure. Perhaps you would prefer to try them all, before you really learn they are but one. The roads this world can offer seem to be quite large in number, but the time must come when everyone begins to see how like they are to one another. Men have died on seeing this, because they saw no way except the pathways offered by the world. And learning they led nowhere, lost their hope. And yet this was the time they could have learned their greatest lesson. All must reach this point, and go beyond it. It is true indeed there is no choice at all within the world. But this is not the lesson in itself. The lesson has a purpose, and in this you come to understand what it is for.

Why would you seek to try another road, another person or another place, when you have learned the way the lesson starts, but do not yet perceive what it is for? Its purpose is the answer to the search that all must undertake who still believe there is another answer to be found. Learn now, without despair, there is no hope of answer in the world. But do not judge the lesson that is but begun with this. Seek not another signpost in the world that seems to point to still another road. No longer look for hope where there is none. Make fast your learning now, and understand you but waste time unless you go beyond what you have learned to what is yet to learn. For from this lowest point will learning lead to heights of happiness, in which you see the purpose of the lesson shining clear, and perfectly within your learning grasp.

Who would be willing to be turned away from all the roadways of the world, unless he understood their real futility? Is it not needful that he should begin with this, to seek another way instead? For while he sees a choice where there is none, what power of decision can he use? The great release of power must begin with learning where it really has a use. And what decision has power if it be applied in situations without choice?

The learning that the world can offer but one choice, no matter what its form may be, is the beginning of acceptance that there is a real alternative instead. To fight against this step is to defeat your purpose here. You did not come to learn to find a road the world does not contain. The search for different pathways in the world is but the search for different forms of truth. And this would keep the truth from being reached.

Think not that happiness is ever found by following a road away from it. This makes no sense, and cannot be the way. To you who seem to find this course to be too difficult to learn, let me repeat that to achieve a goal you must proceed in its direction, not away from it. And every road that leads the other way will not advance the purpose to be found. If this be difficult to understand, then is this course impossible to learn. But only then. For otherwise, it is a simple teaching in the obvious.

There is a choice that you have power to make when you have seen the real alternatives. Until that point is reached you have no choice, and you can but decide how you would choose the better to deceive yourself again. This course attempts to teach no more than that the power of decision cannot lie in choosing different forms of what is still the same illusion and the same mistake. All choices in the world depend on this; you choose between your brother and yourself, and you will gain as much as he will lose, and what you lose is what is given him. How utterly opposed to truth is this, when all the lesson’s purpose is to teach that what your brother loses you have lost, and what he gains is what is given you.

He has not left His Thoughts! But you forgot His Presence and remembered not His Love. No pathway in the world can lead to Him, nor any worldly goal be one with His. What road in all the world will lead within, when every road was made to separate the journey from the purpose it must have unless it be but futile wandering? All roads that lead away from what you are will lead you to confusion and despair. Yet has He never left His Thoughts to die, without their Source forever in themselves.

He has not left His Thoughts! He could no more depart from them than they could keep Him out. In unity with Him do they abide, and in Their Oneness Both are kept complete. There is no road that leads away from Him. A journey from yourself does not exist. How foolish and insane it is to think that there could be a road with such an aim! Where could it go? And how could you be made to travel on it, walking there without your own reality at one with you?

Forgive yourself your madness, and forget all senseless journeys and all goal-less aims. They have no meaning. You can not escape from what you are. For God is merciful, and did not let His Son abandon Him. For what He is be thankful, for in that is your escape from madness and from death. Nowhere but where He is can you be found. There is no path that does not lead to Him.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 29

Lesson 273

The stillness of the peace of God is mine.

Perhaps we are now ready for a day of undisturbed tranquility. If this is not yet feasible, we are content and even more than satisfied to learn how such a day can be achieved. If we give way to a disturbance, let us learn how to dismiss it and return to peace. We need but tell our minds, with certainty, “The stillness of the peace of God is mine,” and nothing can intrude upon the peace that God Himself has given to His Son.

Father, Your peace is mine. What need have I to fear that anything can rob me of what You would have me keep? I cannot lose Your gifts to me. And so the peace You gave Your Son is with me still, in quietness and in my own eternal love for You.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1151(i): (The following two questions were posed by the same person.) Could you please explain the meaning of the following passage from A Course in Miracles : “He has not left His Thoughts! But you forgot His Presence and remembered not His Love” (T.31.lV.9:1,2).

A: “His Thoughts” refers to the extension of God, which is Christ, His Son — the capital indicates that it refers to Christ. Jesus is using the plural form because of the context of his message in this section. The content of the statement is that Love is perfect Oneness that can never be divided or changed in any way. Contrary to what the ego says of God, Jesus is reminding us that Love never abandons. God leaving His Son is an absolute impossibility. But the Son can believe he has left his Source, even though, in truth, that is an impossibility as well. That is the Atonement principle running throughout the Course: the separation from God never truly happened.


Q #1151(ii): Also, what would be the formula for seeing a brother you disliked in the past, but now with spiritual vision instead of judgment? What thoughts/prayers are best to use while with my brothers/sisters in order to let go of judgment?

A: There is no formula as such in the Course, but in many ways seeing your brother as sinless is what the whole Course is about, for when you see the face of Christ in your brother, you then remember God. There are two important parts to the process that leads to this vision of sinless­ness: recognizing the purpose judgment serves and the cost judging. Judgment is the life-blood of the ego; it keeps the belief in differences alive, and the belief in differences keeps separation real. Thus, we judge because we want to remain separate but not be held responsible for that choice. Locating our problems and lack of peace in what others to do us, thereby judging them as sinful and guilty, effectively hides the choice we are upholding in our minds.

Therefore, what we need to do, as Jesus teaches in many different ways, is to look with him at our need to judge, and to learn that the price we are willing to pay to continue to judge is the loss of our own peace. Jesus thus appeals to us: “You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgment. When you recognize what you are and what your brothers are, you will realize that judging them in any way is without meaning. In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely because you are judging them” (T.3.VI.3:1,2,3). Judging costs us dearly! We lose our peace and all sense of the identity we share with each other. In return we get to be right (at least some of the time), and we keep our special individuality. Is it worth it? We need only look at this, and not force ourselves to stop judging when it is still so meaningful to us. Eventually we will let ourselves feel the pain of continued judgment, and then we will be less willing to pay the price, especially when we also realize that it is not a sacrifice to give up judgment, in view of the fact that we are incapable of judging in the first place see M.10.2).

Lesson 335, “I choose to see my brother’s sinlessness” (W.pII.335), might be helpful in keep­ing these teachings present in your mind. Remember, though, you never want to fight against your need to judge others (or yourself). That will only force you into denial and then your progress will be halted. It is far more helpful to be honest about not wanting to see your brother sinless, and then not condemn yourself for that, yet remind yourself that there’s a price to be paid for such resistance. Gentleness and patience are essential.

In summary: “Your function here on earth is only to forgive him [your brother] , that you may accept him back as your Identity. He is as God created him. And you are what he is. Forgive him now his sins, and you will see that you are one with him” (W.pI.192.10:6,7,8,9).

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 6

ACIM Text Reading for June 6

Chapter 18 ~ The Passing of the Dream

II. The Basis of the Dream

Does not a world that seems quite real arise in dreams? Yet think what this world is. It is clearly not the world you saw before you slept. Rather it is a distortion of the world, planned solely around what you would have preferred. Here, you are “free” to make over whatever seemed to attack you, and change it into a tribute to your ego, which was outraged by the “attack.” This would not be your wish unless you saw yourself as one with the ego, which always looks upon itself, and therefore on you, as under attack and highly vulnerable to it.

Dreams are chaotic because they are governed by your conflicting wishes, and therefore they have no concern with what is true. They are the best example you could have of how perception can be utilized to substitute illusions for truth. You do not take them seriously on awaking because the fact that reality is so outrageously violated in them becomes apparent. Yet they are a way of looking at the world, and changing it to suit the ego better. They provide striking examples, both of the ego’s inability to tolerate reality, and of your willingness to change reality on its behalf.

You do not find the differences between what you see in sleep and on awaking disturbing. You recognize that what you see on waking is blotted out in dreams. Yet on awakening, you do not expect it to be gone. In dreams you arrange everything. People become what you would have them be, and what they do you order. No limits on substitution are laid upon you. For a time it seems as if the world were given you, to make it what you wish. You do not realize you are attacking it, trying to triumph over it and make it serve you.

Dreams are perceptual temper tantrums, in which you literally scream, “I want it thus!” And thus it seems to be. And yet the dream cannot escape its origin. Anger and fear pervade it, and in an instant the illusions of satisfaction is invaded by the illusion of terror. For the dream of your ability to control reality by substituting a world that you prefer is terrifying. Your attempts to blot out reality are very fearful, but this you are not willing to accept. And so you substitute the fantasy that reality is fearful, not what you would do to it. And thus is guilt made real.

Dreams show you that you have the power to make a world as you would have it be, and that because you want it you see it. And while you see it you do not doubt that it is real. Yet here is a world, clearly within your mind, that seems to be outside. You do not respond to it as though you made it, nor do you realize that the emotions the dream produces must come from you. It is the figures in the dream and what they do that seem to make the dream. You do not realize that you are making them act out for you, for if you did the guilt would not be theirs, and the illusion of satisfaction would be gone. In dreams these features are not obscure. You seem to waken, and the dream is gone. Yet what you fail to recognize is that what caused the dream has not gone with it. Your wish to make another world that is not real remains with you. And what you seem to waken to is but another form of this same world you see in dreams. All your time is spent in dreaming. Your sleeping and your waking dreams have different forms, and that is all. Their content is the same. They are your protest against reality, and your fixed and insane idea that you can change it. In your waking dreams, the special relationship is your determination to keep your hold on unreality, and to prevent yourself from waking. And while you see more value in sleeping than in waking, you will not let go of it.

The Holy Spirit, ever practical in His wisdom, accepts your dreams and uses them as means for waking. You would have used them to remain asleep. I said before that the first change, before dreams disappear, is that your dreams of fear are changed to happy dreams. That is what the Holy Spirit does in the special relationship. He does not destroy it, nor snatch it away from you. The special relationship will remain, not as a source of pain and guilt, but as a source of joy and freedom. It will not be for you alone, for therein lay its misery. As its unholiness kept it a thing apart, its holiness will become an offering to everyone.

Your special relationship will be a means for undoing guilt in everyone blessed through your holy relationship. It will be a happy dream, and one which you will share with all who come within your sight. Through it, the blessing the Holy Spirit has laid upon it will be extended. Think not that He has forgotten anyone in the purpose He has given you. And think not that He has forgotten you to whom He gave the gift. He uses everyone who calls on Him as means for the salvation of everyone. And He will waken everyone through you who offered your relationship to Him. If you but recognized His gratitude! Or mine through His! For we are joined as in one purpose, being of one mind with Him.

Let not the dream take hold to close your eyes. It is not strange that dreams can make a world that is unreal. It is the wish to make it that is incredible. Your relationship with your brother has now become one in which the wish has been removed, because its purpose has been changed from one of dreams to one of truth. You are not sure of this because you think it may be this that is the dream. You are so used to choosing among dreams you do not see that you have made, at last, the choice between the truth and all illusions.

Yet Heaven is sure. This is no dream. Its coming means that you have chosen truth, and it has come because you have been willing to let your special relationship meet its conditions. In your relationship the Holy Spirit has gently laid the real world; the world of happy dreams, from which awaking is so easy and so natural. For as your sleeping and your waking dreams represent the same wishes in your mind, so do the real world and the truth of Heaven join in the Will of God. The dream of waking is easily transferred to its reality. For this dream reflects your will joined with the Will of God. And what this Will would have accomplished has never not been done.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 6

Lesson 157

Into His Presence would I enter now.

This is a day of silence and of trust. It is a special time of promise in your calendar of days. It is a time Heaven has set apart to shine upon, and cast a timeless light upon this day, when echoes of eternity are heard. This day is holy, for it ushers in a new experience; a different kind of feeling and awareness. You have spent long days and nights in celebrating death. Today you learn to feel the joy of life.

This is another crucial turning point in the curriculum. We add a new dimension now; a fresh experience that sheds a light on all that we have learned already, and prepares us for what we have yet to learn. It brings us to the door where learning ceases, and we catch a glimpse of what lies past the highest reaches it can possibly attain. It leaves us here an instant, and we go beyond it, sure of our direction and our only goal.

Today it will be given you to feel a touch of Heaven, though you will return to paths of learning. Yet you have come far enough along the way to alter time sufficiently to rise above its laws, and walk into eternity a while. This you will learn to do increasingly, as every lesson, faithfully rehearsed, brings you more swiftly to this holy place and leaves you, for a moment, to your Self.

He will direct your practicing today, for what you ask for now is what He wills. And having joined your will with His this day, what you are asking must be given you. Nothing is needed but today’s idea to light your mind, and let it rest in still anticipation and in quiet joy, wherein you quickly leave the world behind.

From this day forth, your ministry takes on a genuine devotion, and a glow that travels from your fingertips to those you touch, and blesses those you look upon. A vision reaches everyone you meet, and everyone you think of, or who thinks of you. For your experience today will so transform your mind that it becomes the touchstone for the holy Thoughts of God.

Your body will be sanctified today, its only purpose being now to bring the vision of what you experience this day to light the world. We cannot give experience like this directly. Yet it leaves a vision in our eyes which we can offer everyone, that he may come the sooner to the same experience in which the world is quietly forgot, and Heaven is remembered for a while.

As this experience increases and all goals but this become of little worth, the world to which you will return becomes a little closer to the end of time; a little more like Heaven in its ways; a little nearer its deliverance. And you who bring it light will come to see the light more sure; the vision more distinct. The time will come when you will not return in the same form in which you now appear, for you will have no need of it. Yet now it has a purpose, and will serve it well.

Today we will embark upon a course you have not dreamed of. But the Holy One, the Giver of the happy dreams of life, Translator of perception into truth, the holy Guide to Heaven given you, has dreamed for you this journey which you make and start today, with the experience this day holds out to you to be your own.

Into Christ’s Presence will we enter now, serenely unaware of everything except His shining face and perfect Love. The vision of His face will stay with you, but there will be an instant which transcends all vision, even this, the holiest. This you will never teach, for you attained it not through learning. Yet the vision speaks of your rememberance of what you knew that instant, and will surely know again.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #339: There are two quotations (among many) in the workbook of A Course in Miracles which have puzzled me for a very long time. I would appreciate some clarification. (1) “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…..As we go along, you may have many ‘light episodes'” (W.pI.15.2:2;3:1). I have been doing this material for years and know a great many people who have also, and no one I know has had such an experience, although I have had some wondrous experiences. (2) “The time will come when you will not return in the same form in which you now appear, for you will have no need of it.” W.pI.157.7:3. I assume this means when we leave the body, but in what form will we reappear?

A: (1) This passage has been troubling to many students. It seems to suggest that a mark of spiritual progress is seeing edges of light around objects, such as auras. If this were the literal meaning, it would go against everything else the Course teaches. Jesus, as we know, stresses that all perception is unreal. In the text he says that however holy visions may be, they do not last because they are based on perception (T.3.III.4:6). Light is a symbol; it is not a perceptual thing. Perceiving light outside you symbolizes the release of some of the darkness in your mind and allowing more of the light to come through. When the Course talks about the light in us, it is not talking about an electric light bulb, an aura, or anything that we actually perceive. Light traditionally has been a symbol used in spirituality to denote God, life, truth, etc. So A Course in Miracles uses that same imagery. Darkness refers to the darkness of guilt and of being separate from God; light refers to the undoing all of that, along with feeling God’s Presence and His love.

This passage originally had nothing to do with the Course itself. Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford had a close friend who worked with them at the Medical Center — he was the only person they shared the Course with right from the beginning. From time to time he would wake up in the middle of the night and feel and see light all around him. He was terrified by these episodes. So this was Jesus’ way of telling him that everything was all right when he had those light episodes. (See Absence from Felicity, p. 304.) That is why this passage appears. Kenneth has felt that there should have been a footnote or some explanation to that effect. In any case, it should not be taken to mean that if you don’t see light that you are a spiritual failure. It can be taken to mean rather that when you forgive more, there will be more “light” in your mind, which means that that light will be extended. Then you will perceive the world as a “lightened” place, in the sense that the burden of guilt will no longer be upon it. Some people actually perceive light physically. But that should be understood only as a symbol — one of many, many symbols — of the process of healing within their own minds.

(2) Similarly, the passage in Lesson 157 was originally meant for Helen Schucman herself. Kenneth comments in Absence from Felicity: “On a number of occasions Helen mentioned to me that Jesus told her that the ‘next time you come you would be different,’ reminiscent of the lines in Lesson 157…Incidentally, this was one of Helen’s favorite lessons. Her understanding of these lines, even though the subject of reincarnation usually made her very uncomfortable, was that the next time she ‘came’ — her next life — she would be ego-free, as was the priestess of her vision” (p. 476).

So this passage can be understood to mean that when the purpose of forgiveness is fulfilled, we shall have no further need of the body as a classroom. We shall have remembered who we are as God’s one Son as we enter into the real world. When we next appear in the body, we would obviously be different because the thought in our minds would be different. The body would not be our classroom but solely a means through which the Holy Spirit can communicate His message of healing and forgiveness. Jesus speaks of “Teachers of teachers” in this manner: “…although they are no longer visible, their image can yet be called upon. And they will appear when and where it is helpful for them to do so” (M.26.2:2,3).


kingdom of god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 5

ACIM Text Reading for May 5

Chapter 14 ~ Teaching for Truth

VII. The Light of Communication

The journey that we undertake together is the exchange of dark for light, of ignorance for understanding. Nothing you understand is fearful. It is only in darkness and in ignorance that you perceive the frightening, and shrink away from it to further darkness. And yet it is only the hidden that can terrify, not for what it is, but for its hiddenness. The obscure is frightening because you do not understand its meaning. If you did, it would be clear and you would be no longer in the dark. Nothing has hidden value, for what is hidden cannot be shared, and so its value is unknown. The hidden is kept apart, but value always lies in joint appreciation. What is concealed cannot be loved, and so it must be feared.

The quiet light in which the Holy Spirit dwells within you is merely perfect openness, in which nothing is hidden and therefore nothing is fearful. Attack will always yield to love if it is brought to love, not hidden from it. There is no darkness that the light of love will not dispel, unless it is concealed from love’s beneficence. What is kept apart from love cannot share its healing power, because it has been separated off and kept in darkness. The sentinels of darkness watch over it carefully, and you who made these guardians of illusion out of nothing are now afraid of them.

Would you continue to give imagined power to these strange ideas of safety? They are neither safe nor unsafe. They do not protect; neither do they attack. They do nothing at all, being nothing at all. As guardians of darkness and of ignorance look to them only for fear, for what they keep obscure is fearful. But let them go, and what was fearful will be so no longer. Without protection of obscurity only the light of love remains, for only this has meaning and can live in light. Everything else must disappear.

Death yields to life simply because destruction is not true. The light of guiltlessness shines guilt away because, when they are brought together, the truth of one must make the falsity of its opposite perfectly clear. Keep not guilt and guiltlessness apart, for your belief that you can have them both is meaningless. All you have done by keeping them apart is lose their meaning by confusing them with each other. And so you do not realize that only one means anything. The other is wholly without sense of any kind.

You have regarded the separation as a means for breaking your communication with your Father. The Holy Spirit reinterprets it as a means of re-establishing what was not broken, but has been made obscure. All things you made have use to Him, for His most holy purpose. He knows you are not separate from God, but He perceives much in your mind that lets you think you are. All this and nothing else would He separate from you. The power of decision, which you made in place of the power of creation, He would teach you how to use on your behalf. You who made it to crucify yourself must learn of Him how to apply it to the holy cause of restoration.

You who speak in dark and devious symbols do not understand the language you have made. It has no meaning, for its purpose is not communication, but rather the disruption of communication. If the purpose of language is communication, how can this tongue mean anything? Yet even this strange and twisted effort to communicate through not communicating holds enough of love to make it meaningful if its Interpreter is not its maker. You who made it are but expressing conflict, from which the Holy Spirit would release you. Leave what you would communicate to Him. He will interpret it to you with perfect clarity, for He knows with Whom you are in perfect communication.

You know not what you say, and so you know not what is said to you. Yet your Interpreter perceives the meaning in your alien language. He will not attempt to communicate the meaningless. But he will separate out all that has meaning, dropping off the rest and offering your true communication to those who would communicate as truly with you. You speak two languages at once, and this must lead to unintelligibility. Yet if one means nothing and the other everything, only that one is possible for purposes of communication. The other but interferes with it.

The Holy Spirit’s function is entirely communication. He therefore must remove whatever interferes with communication in order to restore it. Therefore, keep no source of interference from His sight, for He will not attack your sentinels. But bring them to Him and let His gentleness teach you that, in the light, they are not fearful, and cannot serve to guard the dark doors behind which nothing at all is carefully concealed. We must open all doors and let the light come streaming through. There are no hidden chambers in God’s temple. Its gates are open wide to greet His Son. No one can fail to come where God has called him, if he close not the door himself upon his Father’s welcome.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 5

Lesson 125

In quiet I receive God’s Word today.

Let this day be a day of stillness and of quiet listening. Your Father wills you hear His Word today. He calls to you from deep within your mind where He abides. Hear Him today. No peace is possible until His Word is heard around the world; until your mind, in quiet listening, accepts the message that the world must hear to usher in the quiet time of peace.

This world will change through you. No other means can save it, for God’s plan is simply this: The Son of God is free to save himself, given the Word of God to be his Guide, forever in his mind and at his side to lead him surely to his Father’s house by his own will, forever free as God’s. He is not led by force, but only love. He is not judged, but only sanctified.

In stillness we will hear God’s Voice today without intrusion of our petty thoughts, without our personal desires, and without all judgment of His holy Word. We will not judge ourselves today, for what we are can not be judged. We stand apart from all the judgments which the world has laid upon the Son of God. It knows him not. Today we will not listen to the world, but wait in silence for the Word of God.

Hear, holy Son of God, your Father speak. His Voice would give to you His holy Word, to spread across the world the tidings of salvation and the holy time of peace. We gather at the throne of God today, the quiet place within the mind where He abides forever, in the holiness that He created and will never leave.

He has not waited until you return your mind to Him to give His Word to you. He has not hid Himself from you, while you have wandered off a little while from Him. He does not cherish the illusions which you hold about yourself. He knows His Son, and wills that he remain as part of Him regardless of his dreams; regardless of his madness that his will is not his own.

Today He speaks to you. His Voice awaits your silence, for His Word can not be heard until your mind is quiet for a while, and meaningless desires have been stilled. Await His Word in quiet. There is peace within you to be called upon today, to help make ready your most holy mind to hear the Voice for its Creator speak.

Three times today, at times most suitable for silence, give ten minutes set apart from listening to the world, and choose instead a gentle listening to the Word of God. He speaks from nearer than your heart to you. His Voice is closer than your hand. His Love is everything you are and that He is; the same as you, and you the same as He.

It is your voice to which you listen as He speaks to you. It is your word He speaks. It is the Word of freedom and of peace, of unity of will and purpose, with no separation nor division in the single Mind of Father and of Son. In quiet listen to your Self today, and let Him tell you God has never left His Son, and you have never left your Self.

Only be quiet. You will need no rule but this, to let your practicing today lift you above the thinking of the world, and free your vision from the body’s eyes. Only be still and listen. You will hear the Word in which the Will of God the Son joins in his Father’s Will, at one with it, with no illusions interposed between the wholly indivisible and true. As every hour passes by today, be still a moment and remind yourself you have a special purpose for this day; in quiet to receive the Word of God.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #615: About three weeks ago I had a very unusual meditation. My heart started to race and beat very heavy. I was very scared. “I trust in you Holy Spirit, whatever is happening is okay”, I prayed. I kept going and my body felt like it was expanding and contracting. Also, I became aware of my body as a fluid, not solid. This has happened four or five times since then. I feel very scared when it happens, but I think it is part of the process. Is this kind of thing normal?

A: Everything that our bodies seem to experience is a symbol of a thought in the mind, where the experience is actually occurring. And, as with all things that seem to happen to our bodies and in the world, what you are experiencing is neutral (T.26.VIII.3:7;T.28.II.10:6; W.pII.294) but your perception of it depends on which teacher you have chosen to interpret it for you. Because you have a split mind, it is possible, even likely, that you will vacillate between the two interpretations, shifting from fear to acceptance and back to fear again.

The ego’s interpretation begins from the premise that you are your body and anything that challenges its solidity and defined boundaries is to be feared, for it threatens you and the separate, individual self you believe you are (T.26.I.2,3). The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, begins from the premise that your reality is mind, not body, that the separation is an illusion and the body is not real, and anything that supports and reinforces that recognition is helpful (T.6.V.A.2,3). Quantum physics asserts that matter is not solid and that what we perceive as solid is nearly all empty space, but this kind of recognition, despite its widespread dissemination in our culture, is certainly not something that has been incorporated into our everyday consciousness yet.

The symbols that each of us experience in our lives are highly individualized, as is our learning curriculum (M.29.2:6). So whether, as you compare your meditation experiences with others, you find some who share specific experiences similar to yours is not really relevant. It is at the level of content that the experience can be universal, as all of us, in our own individual ways, are returning to the realization that perception lies and that the world and our seeming selves are not what they appear to be. So whether you continue to have your specific fluid meditation episodes is not so important as that you are willing to use them to learn that we truly have no solid grounds for making our judgments in the world (T.23.II.13:4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13) and only the gentle, accepting perspective of the Holy Spirit’s forgiveness makes any sense at all.

For some other Questions that address some of the various experiences encountered in meditation, you may wish to refer to #181 and #307.

be of good cheer

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 17

ACIM Text Reading for February 17

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

IV. The Relinquishment of Attack

As we have already emphasized, every idea begins in the mind of the thinker. Therefore, what extends from the mind is still in it, and from what it extends it knows itself. The word “knows” is correct here, because the Holy Spirit still holds knowledge safe in your mind through His impartial perception. By attacking nothing, He presents no barrier to the communication of God. Therefore, being is never threatened. Your Godlike mind can never be defiled. The ego never was and never will be part of it, but through the ego you can hear and teach and learn what is not true. You have taught yourself to believe that you are not what you are. You cannot teach what you have not learned, and what you teach you strengthen in yourself because you are sharing it. Every lesson you teach you are learning.

That is why you must teach only one lesson. If you are to be conflict-free yourself, you must learn only from the Holy Spirit and teach only by Him. You are only love, but when you deny this, you make what you are something you must learn to remember. I said before that the message of the crucifixion was, “Teach only love, for that is what you are.” This is the one lesson that is perfectly unified, because it is the only lesson that is one. Only by teaching it can you learn it. “As you teach so will you learn.” If that is true, and it is true indeed, do not forget that what you teach is teaching you. And what you project or extend you believe.

The only safety lies in extending the Holy Spirit, because as you see His gentleness in others your own mind perceives itself as totally harmless. Once it can accept this fully, it sees no need to protect itself. The protection of God then dawns upon it, assuring it that it is perfectly safe forever. The perfectly safe are wholly benign. They bless because they know that they are blessed. Without anxiety the mind is wholly kind, and because it extends beneficence it is beneficent. Safety is the complete relinquishment of attack. No compromise is possible in this. Teach attack in any form and you have learned it, and it will hurt you. Yet this learning is not immortal, and you can unlearn it by not teaching it.

Since you cannot not teach, your salvation lies in teaching the exact opposite of everything the ego believes. This is how you will learn the truth that will set you free, and will keep you free as others learn it of you. The only way to have peace is to teach peace. By teaching peace you must learn it yourself, because you cannot teach what you still dissociate. Only thus can you win back the knowledge that you threw away. An idea that you share you must have. It awakens in your mind through the conviction of teaching it. Everything you teach you are learning. Teach only love, and learn that love is yours and you are love.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 17

Lesson 48

There is nothing to fear.

The idea for today simply states a fact. It is not a fact to those who believe in illusions, but illusions are not facts. In truth there is nothing to fear. It is very easy to recognize this. But it is very difficult to recognize it for those who want illusions to be true.

Today’s practice periods will be very short, very simple and very frequent. Merely repeat the idea as often as possible. You can use it with your eyes open at any time and in any situation. It is strongly recommended, however, that you take a minute or so whenever possible to close your eyes and repeat the idea slowly to yourself several times. It is particularly important that you use the idea immediately, should anything disturb your peace of mind.

The presence of fear is a sure sign that you are trusting in your own strength. The awareness that there is nothing to fear shows that somewhere in your mind, though not necessarily in a place you recognize as yet, you have remembered God, and let His strength take the place of your weakness. The instant you are willing to do this there is indeed nothing to fear.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1074: Do we keep our learning into the next life? I am finding judgment to be so pervasive, that it seems almost impossible to find my way home in just this lifetime.

A: A lifetime is but a classroom with a set of lessons on of the Son of God’s return to his true home. There will be lifetimes as long as the mind believes the thought of separation is real and that there is a choice to be made between truth and illusion. Each time the mind chooses the illusion of separation it projects its guilt for making that choice in the form of judgments. The single thought that the separation did in fact occur, and therefore the world of illusion is real, stands behind the myriad of seemingly different judgments and lifetimes. From this single thought, all judgment and every lifetime is brought forth. The goal of A Course in Miracles is to teach us to distinguish between what is true and what is false, and to train our minds to recognize the effects of the mind’s choice. This process may take lifetimes because of the unwillingness to choose to believe that only truth is true, and what is false will never bring happiness. Every judgment brings misery; every lifetime ends in death. Indeed, every lifetime begins with a death blow to God’s Son.

  What seems to be learning is actually a process of remembering the truth by unlearning the ego’s thought system. The mind that has forgotten uses the body, the world, and many lifetimes to remember its true Identity and to forget everything else. Of itself the body does nothing; in fact, “ At no single instant does the body exist at all” (T.17.VII.31). Clearly, then, the remembering process goes on with or without the body; it precedes birth and outlives death. And since unlearning/remembering occurs only in the mind, it is not happening in any “lifetime”; a term we associate with the lifespan of the body measured by linear time. Ironically, this is now called “real time.” The Course would call it “illusory time” and tells us it takes no time at all to choose against the ego.

Fortunately, we do not need to reverse every judgment that we hold stockpiled in our arsenal of attack thoughts. The only “judgment” that needs to be reversed is the decision to side with the ego in its interpretation of the separation. If every judgment is the projection of guilt for having made that decision, judgments end when the mind decides in favor of the Holy Spirit instead of the ego. When that decision is made unequivocally, all judgment ends, as does all belief in the illusion of the world and the lifetimes spent in it. At that point: “Your foot has reached the lawns that welcome you to Heaven’s gate; the quiet place of peace, where you await with certainty the final step of God” (W.pI.194.1:3) . Meanwhile, it is important to continue patiently uncovering the judgments that reveal the mind’s mistaken belief that separation is possible and God’s Son has been put to death. Each one is an opportunity to consider the insanity of this belief as well as its painful effects, in order to move closer to the final decision against the ego’s madness.


Q #1075: What does A Course in Miracles say about angels? Also, what about people who seem to see an evil presence? I was raised in Christian Science and I have not come across anything they do not have in common with the Course. Christian Science believes that evil spirits do not exist, and that there is nothing other than God’s power. It says we create in our minds, and anything that is not absolute is not real. Although Christian Science does not use the same terminology as the Course does, it, too, says this is a illusion.

A: As we discussed in Question #413, angels in A Course in Miracles are regarded as extensions of God’s Thought. In this sense, they are symbols of the light and protection of God that always surrounds us, since in truth we never left Him (T.18.VI.10:6; W.pII.264.h) . If we are too afraid of that level of our Identity, our minds would translate the experience of formless Love into form, and one form might be angelic beings or entities. But the form is not the reality. The idea would be to relate to what they symbolize, and then go beyond that to the Source, which is always the Love that transcends anything of form.

This same kind of thinking would apply to the perception of an evil presence. We are so heavily bound to form that we immediately translate thoughts into form: “Everything you recognize you identify with externals, something outside itself. You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognize” (T.18.VIII.1:6,7) . The core of the ego is hatred and murder, and sometimes that can be experienced as an evil presence; but the Course helps us by teaching us not to be afraid of it, for it has no reality other than what we give to it — coming from our guilt and fear over believing we destroyed God in order to have our own existence.

About Christian Science . . . As we discussed in Questions #372 and #512, there are parallels on the metaphysical level of teachings between Christian Science and A Course in Miracles ; but there are significant differences as well. And of course that does not make one system superior to the other — just different. One difference is that according to the Course’s theory, God knows nothing of the world because it does not exist as something real. As an illusion, it will disappear from our awareness when we let go of our belief in separation. At the level of purpose and practice there are differences as well. A major purpose of Christian Science is the healing of illnesses, with these healings then demonstrating the validity of its principles. The primary focus of the Course’s process is the healing of our minds of the guilt that is hidden there. Healing the body is never the goal, although that may be an effect of the mind’s healing.

The Course’s view of forgiveness also distinguishes it from other paths. We are asked to have the willingness to forgive our brothers for what they did not do (T.17.III.1:5) ; and so a central aspect of one’s work with the Course is developing a relationship with Jesus or the Holy Spirit, so that we may turn to Them regularly for help in choosing right-minded perceptions of everything in our lives. The questions cited at the beginning fill in the details of this brief answer. Of most importance, again, is that differences not be turned into judgments of one or the other thought system.

forgiveness is still

 

A Yogi’s Introduction to A Course in Miracles

INTRODUCING A COURSE IN MIRACLES

 

“This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.”

This Course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:

“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.”

Peace of God 

Here is a beautiful “prayer” from the Course that I would like to share with you here at the outset, especially as it highlights my role as both a teacher AND student – and your roles as students AND teachers…

I am here only to be truly helpful. 

I am here to represent Him who sent me.

 I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do,

Because He Who sent me will direct me.

 I am content to be wherever he Wishes,

Knowing He goes there with me.

 I will be healed as I let him teach me to heal.

i-am-here-only-meditation-6  

*

“Every good teacher hopes to give his students so much of his own learning that they will no longer need him. 

This is the one true goal of the teacher.” (T 4.I. 5:1-2)

 

The intention behind this presentation is to provide a contemporary, up-to-date introduction to the phenomenon that is A Course in Miracles (aka “ACIM” and/or “the Course”), one that brings together the most helpful information about the Course from the Web and other resources.  This is primarily intended for those who are new to ACIM, but it could also very well prove helpful to those who are already somewhat familiar with it or even “seasoned.”  Keeping with the Course’s own emphasis on simplicity, every attempt will be made to keep this as simple and clear as possible, as well as fair and balanced.   Because of this, feedback on this presentation is most certainly welcome.

 

So let’s begin…

 

FINDING ANOTHER WAY, A BETTER WAY

“Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit.

Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way.

As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point.

This ultimately reawakens spiritual vision, simultaneously weakening the investment in physical sight.

The alternating investment in the two levels of perception is usually experienced as conflict, which can become very acute.

But the outcome is as certain as God.”

(2.III.3.5-10)

 

The writing of the Course actually began with the decision of two people (Helen Schucman and William Thetford, research psychologists at Columbia University from the ‘50s onward) to find “another way” to communicate and be with each other harmoniously as opposed to their usual antagonistic encounters.  Perhaps you are now coming to the Course because you, too, are seeking “another way” in your life.  Well, you should know that although the Course was ostensibly a way to help Helen and Bill to find peace in their relationship with each other, it is really meant for all of us, as the Course teaches that at essence we all have a shared interest in peace, love and understanding, and in finding our true self (Self).   To help to understand this point, here are some of the issues that might have led you to this point, see if one or more of these applies to your life:

 

~ A failed or troubled relationship, whether with a spouse or significant other, parent, sibling, or friend.

 

~ Achievement of worldly success, only to find that you are still not happy.

 

~ Or conversely, failure to achieve success in life, leaving you feeling hopeless.

 

~ A sense that there must be more to life than this.

 

~ Fear about dying, or anxiety/panic about the future, for you or someone close to you.

 

~ A sense of deep regret and/or guilt about your past actions.

 

~ Confusion about spirituality and religion and how to know what the truth is regarding them.

 

~ A falling out with your birth religion, or religion in general.

 

~ A deep sense of loneliness and despair.

 

~ An unshakeable feeling that you are a fraud, a phony and/or that you really don’t like yourself, or worse.

 

~  Putting your trust in someone or something, only to be betrayed.

 

~ A perfectionism that leaves you paralyzed.

 

~ Recognizing that nothing is bringing you the happiness (love, peace, etc.) you truly seek.

 

~ A spiritual experience that left you with questions as to its meaning, one that you cannot seem to find in the world of traditional religion.

And so on…

 

Now, if any of these applied to you, then the Course might just be for you.   And in fact, the Course really is for every body, and isn’t it the case that everybody experiences one or more of those things that were just listed?    The thing is that not everybody is ready yet for the Course because it either might not be the right spiritual path for them, or they might not be at the point where they are ready to seek its guidance.

 

This could be summed up in a very simple statement:

 

“The Course is for everybody,

but not everybody is for the Course.”

 

(Or: The Course is for everyone who thinks they’re a body – more on this soon…)

 

The Course itself says:

 

‘Many are called but few are chosen’ should be,

‘All are called but few choose to listen.'”

 

I sense that your being here right now means that you have in some sense heard the “call” and are in a place to really listen to and consider what the Course says and has to offer you.  Given this, let’s get waste no time to get into the thick of it…

 

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), 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:

 

Introduction to A Course in Miracles by ACIM.org

 

“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.”

 

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 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 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 Renard’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.

 

 KEN WAPNICK AS A PORTAL

 

That said, let’s entertain for a moment the possibility that Renard did draw primarily on the work on Ken Wapnick, in a sense popularizing Wapnick for the masses.  Then it would be a question of: 1) Did Renard accurately represent Wapnick’s work; and 2) Is Wapnick’s own work true to the Course?  These are very important questions to answer for oneself because it is VERY helpful, perhaps even essential, to have a guide for the Course, a kind of interpreter who can put the Course’s sometimes challenging language and concepts into layperson’s terms.  After all, not a few people have put the Course down due to its seeming incomprehensibility.

 

Once again, I answer a definitive “Yes” to these questions.  Yes, Renard’s book does fairly accurately represent Wapnick’s work (again, assuming for a moment that he was borrowing from it), and yes, Wapnick  (who just passed in 2013) did have a very trustworthy understanding of ACIM, perhaps better than anyone has ever had.   And well he should have, because after all, Wapnick was both the first teacher of the Course and also the original editor of it who worked closely with Helen and Bill from 1972 onward.  He even was present with Helen for some of the scribing of the Course, when she was receiving dictation from Jesus.  Apparently he even helped to explain some difficult passages to Helen herself(!) Wapnick oversaw the Course’s translation into many languages, etc.

 

Yes, one might ask, but perhaps Wapnick still misunderstood the Course, and what other evidence do I have to support my claim?  How do I know that Wapnick is/was a very trustworthy interpreter of the Course, especially when not everyone (such as “The Circle of Atonement” group – more on them later) agrees?  Yes, believe it or not, there have been those who sometimes radically disagree with Wapnick’s interpretation of the Course, which is one reason why I feel it important to bring all of this up here.  Because as a new Course student, you will no doubt be exposed to many opinions about the Course, and depending on who you read first, you might be led to greater confusion about what the Course says than not.

 

My answer to all of this is that after reading the Course myself, I feel that Ken Wapnick had the most comprehensive and clear understanding of the Course’s essential message than anyone I have seen.  And I do believe that he did his very best to be a true messenger for the radical message of the Course, without letting his ego unduly influence that message (to my mind, he did not unduly “mess” with nor massage the message!).  Others apparently see it differently, and that is really all good, I just feel the need to weigh in with my own two cents and six sense here.

 

And in any case, I feel that it is important to, at the very least, start with Wapnick as a guide, or read Renard’s book as a primer for both Wapnick and the Course. Starting with D.U. is not a bad idea as Wapnick is a little less accessible than Renard, whose book could be seen, again, as an attempt to present ACIM to the layperson.  (Note: Two other really useful books are D. Patrick Miller’s Understanding A Course in Miracles and Living with Miracles.)

 

So with all of that said, I definitely highly recommend you explore Wapnick’s work, starting with the very valuable information found on the Foundation for a Course in Miracles website (facim.org, and its sister website, acim.org), and Wapnick’s numerous Youtube videos, plus his books, CDs, etc.   I think that anyone with an eye to see will understand that Wapnick was a master of the material and saw himself as simply there to assist us all in better understanding what is often a challenging message to grasp (let alone practice!). [Also, highly recommended is Wapnick’s biography of Helen Schucman, Absence of Felicity, which goes into great detail about how the Course came to be written.]

 

     And YET, all other agendas aside, I do believe and strongly feel that the Holy Spirit will guide you to just the right way to get into the Course, including the books you read, websites, etc. Perhaps it was by leading you to this book…?

 

 CONTENT OVER FORM

 

Content Over Form” is a central theme of the Course and one that Ken Wapnick often highlighted.  To help make this more understandable for us, I will use Ken himself as an example, and please do note the tongue-in-cheek nature of this!

 

So when you look at Ken and hear him talk (in the many videos on Youtube, or elsewhere), at least at first look he might give the impression of a skinny, nebishy guy with a thick Long Island accent and a kind of harsh quality to his voice that makes him sound maybe a bit too snobby at times, not to mention he had a speech impediment that made him stutter.

 

But when you go beyond that superficial appearance (that is, the “Form”), you begin to see both the depth of his understanding, and his commitment to the message of the Course and helping others to understand it (that is, the “Content”).   So, too, the Course asks us to look beyond appearances to see the underlying sameness of all people, that at heart we are all just seeking but one thing, and we can call that thing Love, which is a word that it seems we can all agree upon!  And we get to Love through the practice of forgiveness.  So let’s talk about this core Course message, which beyond all of the verbiage is very simple: It’s all about love and forgiveness; or, the practice of forgiveness as a way to return to Love, our true nature.

 

[Note: For a really nice Ken Wapnick tribute video, please see Jon Mundy’s Youtube video, click HERE.  I highly recommend this video for helping to understand Ken better, as well as for an introduction to Jon Mundy himself.  Mundy is also one of the great teachers of the Course, and I also highly recommend his own introduction to the Course, which starts HERE.   And for more about Ken Wapnick: http://www.miraclestudies.net/KenWapnick.html ]

 

 SIMPLE, BUT NOT EASY

 

Okay, so thus far I’ve thrown a lot of words at you and you might be wondering why it took this long to get to this simple message of love and forgiveness?  Well, look at the Course itself!  It’s over 1200 pages of material with half a million words, most of it quite intimidating to the new reader (again, think in terms of Form & Content here).  Everyone asks at some point or another this question: If it really is all just about love and forgiveness, why so many darn words, and why did it have to be written in such a convoluted, Christian/biblical, and male-chauvinistic way?  The Course says it’s simple, but so why not just say: “Love thy neighbor as thyself… because at essence they are Thy Self!” and be done with it?  Isn’t that the bottom line of all of this?

 

The simple answer to this question is that the Course is so seemingly long and complicated because we ourselves are so complicated with so many “complexes”!  We’re not ready for the simple truth, because it’s TOO simple.  We feel, for one thing, that the spiritual quest somehow requires some great sacrifice and achievement to be won.  And we’re not ready to let go of all of our conditioned beliefs and attitudes (our “story”) that quickly, we really have to warm to that idea.   As the saying goes:

 

The truth is simple, but it ain’t easy!

 

But when it comes down to it, it is as simple as seeing everyone and everything as yourself, with the recognition that as you treat anything that seems to be outside of you is how you treat yourself, and vice versa.  So when we judge, blame or condemn others, it is only because we have already done that to ourselves.  And when we see others as who they truly are, which is totally blameless, without any sin or needing any judgment or condemnation, then we also simultaneously remember who we truly are, which is totally innocent.   And this is all as simple as a change of mind, just a little shift of perception! But to do this requires that we first truly take the Course seriously, and so that’s the next idea/theme we will turn to…

Holy Encounter copy

 

When you meet anyone,

Remember it is a holy encounter.

As you see him you will see yourself.

As you treat him you will treat yourself.

As you think of him you will think of yourself.

Never forget this, for in him you find yourself or lose yourself.

 

 

SEEING IT THROUGH

 

“Think this through with me

Let me know your mind

Oh Oh what I want to know is…

Are you kind?”

~ Robert Hunter/The Grateful Dead

 

First, let me say that this is not just about taking the Course seriously, but about taking any true spiritual path seriously in the sense of following it all the way through to the end.  Who does that, right?  Do you?  No, we all seem to take little bits and pieces from here and there and cobble together a spirituality that works for us.  While there’s nothing wrong with that in theory, it doesn’t generally work over the long haul because almost inevitably the ego gets in the way.   As the Course says in so many words (so many! — and I paraphrase), we end up bringing the Truth to the illusion, rather than our illusions to the Truth.  In other words, we end up making our illusory self and world real, making spirituality just another thing we do to feel better about ourself (small “self”) and our life in the world (making a “happy dream” as the Course puts it), and find it hard to go beyond that.  And if anyone (like the Course) suggests we do consider the flimsiness of the world and our own self-concept, we heavily, and sometimes very heavily, resist it.

 

[Resistance, by the way, is a Freudian psychoanalytic concept that the Course uses (reinterprets) to explain how the ego attempts to distract us from the process of awakening to who we truly are.   It’s very helpful to think about how resistance might be at work in our approach to the Course and what we find problematic in it.]

 

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

  ~ Alice in Wonderland

 

So the point I want to make here is this:  If you really want to understand the Course, please give it your full attention and read it on its own terms as best as you can.  Here’s my suggestion (and do keep in mind that we all have our own pace to get to the peace, so this is a very general statement!): Go through the Text, the Workbook, and the Manual sequentially for a full year, doing just a section and a lesson a day.  It will make a world of difference in helping to understand the Course.  Believe me, if you have trouble with the language, such as the King Jamesian-ness of it all, or all the masculine pronouns, or even the term God or Holy Spirit, by the end of a year all of that will (in theory, at least!) drop away because you will have understood the underlying CONTENT (that is, intention, message) and overlooked the FORM.  And that’s exactly what the Course is asking us to do about everything!  Go beyond the appearance to the underlying essence, and then you shall truly see!

 

 

       Jesus is asking us to accept his terms and meet his conditions, but there is no punishment involved here at all.  We will only be delaying our own homecoming if we don’t follow the deepest urging of spirit.  Jesus is therefore only a symbol for that deepest urging within all of us.

         

GOD IS IN THE DETAILS…OR IS IT THE DEVIL?

 

One other little point I would like to make here is that even though the Course does basically say the same damn thing over and over and over again throughout its 1200+ pages (Jesus is Johnny One Note), it’s not that there aren’t a lot of nuances and subtleties that we are asked to take note of.  The Course has been likened to a symphony in which a certain theme or motif is introduced, then dropped, only to return again later to be further expanded with variations.  Numerous examples of this could be noted, but just dig in and read it and you’ll see how that works.  I will just add that this is why a close reading of the Course will make a difference in your understanding and practice, simply because of those nuances and new perspectives on the same one thing.  This very well reflects the saying that “God is in the details.”

 

And yet there is also the converse idea that “the devil is in the details,” and you will also recall Shakespeare’s famous quote that even the devil can quote scripture.   This is a caution to not get so caught up in the details that you miss the forest for the trees and get bogged down in sectarian theological disputes, something that the Course itself cautions again in several places.

 

“A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary.

 

It is this experience toward which the course is directed”

                                                              (C.in.2:5,6)

 

 

On that note, there is a great story that shows the humor and wisdom of Helen Schucman’s co-scribe and colleague, Bill Thetford…

 

One day two Course students were heatedly arguing about the meaning of a passage in the Course.  Bill came in and they asked him which one of them was right?  Without missing a beat, Bill said to them: “Oh, just tear that page out.

 

Do you get it?  There are actually a number of places in the Course where Jesus says that it’s not about the Course – “the notes are nothing,” he says, and “forget this Course”  — cautioning us not to get too caught up in the words (again, the FORM), but do understand the spirit of it all (the CONTENT) which is to get in touch with the perfect love that resides in your heart.  Like a musician, learn your notes and scales by going through the Course carefully, but once you’ve done that, do not be afraid to tap into your own intuitive, improvisational brilliance, ever guided by Spirit, of course.  All rules are ultimately mean to be broken, after all.

 

THE LITTLE PROBLEM OF FAITH

 

Okay, so we’ve gotten a little ahead of ourselves here and we might want to go back to one of the most fundamental problems with understanding the Course, and again it does have to do with resistance, but it also is a simple matter of faith, as well as reason.  And the essential question is:  WHY should we take the Course seriously?   I mean, what proof do we have that this is all really the “Word” of Jesus?  Maybe Helen made it all up?  Maybe she did channel the words, but they were given to her by a discarnate entity that had some secret agenda of its own to delude humanity? (I heard this argument from a seasoned yogi whose opinion I respect.)  Or maybe Satan himself is once again orchestrated all of this in his mass plan to lead us like lambs to the slaughter?  Or how about this one: It’s all a CIA-hatched plot to control the minds of the many – A Course in Miracles as the opiate of the masses! (See further on for my take on this.)

 

Obviously you must know my answer to these questions, because otherwise I wouldn’t be here enthusiastically introducing the Course if I had such grave doubts about it (and you wouldn’t be here to keenly listen if you weren’t at least a little open to all of this).  But the truth is that, yes, even I have some lingering doubts about all of this because of one simple fact: I just don’t know, and how could I?  How can anybody?  And this is a key point that the Course makes: Only the ego asks questions and doubts, and so to the extent that we are still identified with the ego (and nearly everyone here is), we will be confused about all of this.  But the Course does not ask for or require perfect certainty, only, as it says, a “little willingness” to look at the contents of our mind in the light of perfect love and forgiveness.   So perfect faith is not required, nor even better-than-average faith!

 

Another way of saying this is: Have you experienced the miracle of unconditional love in your life?  Well, if yes, then it doesn’t matter where the Course came from, because its purpose is to help us to return that perfect, unconditional love that we have already experienced, if only fleetingly.

 

That said, I will still, briefly, attempt to answer some of those initial concerns that I mentioned…

 

So firstly, how do we know the Course really expresses the thoughts of Jesus?  Well, we don’t know, but many who have engaged with it, including myself, feel that it is the most loving, beautiful, wise and true expression of spirituality they have ever encountered.  So if Jesus is perfect love (and as the Course says, he does symbolize that) then we can say that yes, these are the words of Jesus.  And interestingly, the Course does not insist that you use the term “Jesus,” because all those who have attained the state of perfect love are ONE, and so call IT by any name you choose, because a rose is a rose is a rose.   Love by any other name is still Love.

 

Ok! So I realize that answer will not be satisfying for a lot of people; namely, the response that it doesn’t matter Who dictated the Course to Helen, because it’s freakin’ brilliant and it seems to be helping a lot of people, so who cares?  Well, YOU might care.  And don’t look at me, but I still care about this question.

 

Remember I mentioned that someone close to me, a veteran yogi whose opinion I respect, gave me a very forceful argument of why the Course is potentially dangerous if its source is a discarnate spirit seeking to delude humanity (or at the very least ACIM students!)?   While I did and do take this kind of issue with the Course very seriously, I also would posit that this is the very kind of controversial issue that the Course is wanting to tell us we will never truly be able to answer.  And thus it becomes a “delaying maneuver” on the part of the ego to keep us from actually practicing its teachings on forgiveness and watching the ego be “undone.”  (Oh yes, by the way, I forgot to mention that the Course’s practice of forgiveness does this: It undoes the ego, it dissolves it.  It’s actually a gradual, gentle process for most of us that requires quite a bit of patience and forgiveness… mainly for our own lack of patience and forgiveness!)

 

And yes, I realize that this, too, might not be the convincing argument to do the Course.  It seems to smack a little bit of cultish reasoning: Don’t ask questions because they can’t be answered, just do what we tell you to do and no one gets hurt!  Some people have actually called the Course a form of brainwashing, yet you can see from the very introduction that is says that while this is a required Course (namely, the return to Spirit will happen for all of us at some point), the time you take it is voluntary.  Not too many cults with brainwashing agendas will say that!  And the Course points out that any attempt at coercion of any kind will not work, that all spiritual work must be voluntary to really bear fruit.  So in other words: No one’s telling you to do anything, you’re here in this now moment considering all of this because you are truly seeking “another/better way” and are open to hearing how the Course might be of help to you. Verdad?

 

So at this point, let me talk about my own experience a bit more, because I feel it might help…

 

MY YOKE/YOGA IS EASY

 

“When you are tempted by the wrong voice, call on me to remind you how to heal by sharing my decision and making it stronger. As we share this goal, we increase its power to attract the whole Sonship, and to bring it back into the oneness in which it was created. Remember that ‘yoke’ means ‘join together’ and ‘burden’ means ‘message’. Let us restate ‘My yoke is easy and my burden light’ in this way; ‘Let us join together, for my message is light.” (ACIM T:5:II:11)

 

Wait, this section is perhaps better titled: “OF COURSE!” Which is also the name of this whole presentation. Because all of that heady stuff aside, what the Course did for me (and many of us, it seems) was appeal to the truth that I have always known. It was like what happened when I discovered yoga (or/and it discovered me), my thought was: “EUREKA! This is what I’ve been looking for all these years, it really exists!”

 

“This world you seem to live in is not home to you.

And somewhere in your mind you know that this is true.”

 

And in fact, my current understanding is that we’re all doing the Course, we just don’t know it yet, and we might even consciously resist it. So it doesn’t matter who its author was, whether Jesus or not, whoever it was is/was freaking brilliant.

 

I had this experience when I was 19 years old that I consider perhaps the most important one of my whole life: One night laying in bed I felt an energy surge up my body up to my heart, and suddenly, I was in bliss. The next morning, it (the bliss) was still there. Like many teens, I had had a very hard time coming of age and was dealing with a very heavy load of guilt, anger, and self-judgment to the point of extreme self-loathing. And in one night, with one fell stroke, it was all gone! Imagine that! And please note that it didn’t require accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior to happen! This exprience lasted for months, long enough to really make me realize that yes, it was really happening, and that THIS, not my old neurotic self, was my true nature, this state of unconditional love, joy, peace. And then it was gone, and thus began my search to bring it back… and so it is for so many spiritual seekers, yes? You, too?

 

And so I looked everywhere for the Beloved, and finally found “Her” again… in the yoga tradition. (Mind you, this is making a very long story very short!) And then I got into plant medicine, particularly ayahuasca, which ultimately led me to the Course, because there were things that were being revealed to me by the plants that were truly shocking… you know, little things like ego-death and tours of various hellish realms, strange meetings with demons of varying shapes and surprises. And the Course helped me make sense of those experiences, to see them in a more universal, less personal way. For example, with its help, I could begin to finally accept that there’s really nothing special about me, neither the abject misery that I’ve experienced, nor the transcendent bliss, neither the agony nor the ecstasy, the self-loathing or the delusions of grandeur. All of that is part of the one mind that we all share, it’s nothing personal, really. I am not, as I formerly thought (when I was clinging to my “specialness”) the “only lonely one” out there… no, there are, in the words of that old Police song, “a hundred million [other] castaways looking for a home.” Or 7+ billion, but who’s counting?

 

In other words, we’re all in the same boat; or, as the Course would put it: We’re all equal and integral parts of the one “Sonship.”

 

And here’s another thing to note here, and this also goes back to the “Of Course!” theme I’ve been playing on: The Golden Rule. Why is the Golden Rule what it is? Why should we, as the Hebrew Bible (Torah) commands, love our neighbor as ourselves? Deep down, we all know why, right? It’s because at our core essence we are part of the same One Self. And so to even think for a moment otherwise is to deny the truth of what we are. So imagine what it would feel to walk this earth and literally not have a second thought other than pure appreciation, compassion and forgiveness for everybody and everything? Imagine that? Well, that’s the “mind training” that the Course is leading us to, and though it might never be “perfect,” it will be far sight/cry better than what we’ve got going on right now!

 

 

THE COURSE AS A “Christian Vedanta”

 

Bill Thetford was Helen Schucman’s partner in crime in all of this, and far from being just Helen’s scribal helper, Bill also had a deep understanding of the message of the Course.  At one point, Bill referred to the Course as a “Christian Vedanta,” and this is something that has since been repeated often enough for me to bother repeating it here.

 

Bill was pretty accurate in his assessment, though what he says does require some clarification.

 

Let’s take the “Christian” part first: The Course is not actually Christian in the sense of following Church orthodoxy and dogma, but rather it is Christian in that it is Christ-centered.  In fact, in the Course Jesus says that as he foretold, his disciples did not fully understand what he was saying 2000 years ago, so the Course is a way of correcting the errors of Christianity by revealing the deeper, inner meaning of the gospel accounts.

 

Did you know there is actually a gospel that was never included in the New Testament canon, but which some scholars believe actually predated Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John?  It’s called the Gospel of Thomas and it really just a collection of sayings of Jesus without any storyline except for brief contextual clues.  The reason some scholars believe that the Gospel of Thomas (GOT) is older than the canonical gospels is because the gospel writers used sayings from the GOT in their accounts and pick up those little contextual clues in the GOT and create a story around them.

 

Now, if this is true, it’s quite ground-breaking to say the least – “earth-shattering” might be a better descriptive.  Because what Jesus says in the GOT is considerably more mystical than what we find in the canonical gospels.  Consider the following saying from the GOT:

 

“When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so the male will not be male and the female will not be female…then you will enter the Kingdom.”

And also this one:

   The disciples said to him, “When will the Kingdom come?” He said, “It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, ‘Behold here,’ or ‘Behold there.’ Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and people do not see it.”

[Click HERE for the translation of the Gospel of Thomas that I would recommend.]

What I am getting at by bringing in the Gospel of Thomas and these passages is that Jesus appeared to have been teaching about “oneness,” or “non-duality,” something that is not so clearly evident in the canonical gospel accounts. These are the teachings that, in reality, there is only One reality, and we can call it God, or Source, or Spirit, or Love, or IT, or you name it, but it’s something pointing beyond the world of opposites and multiplicity that we currently seem to inhabit.  Now the word “non-duality” is an exact translation of the Sanskrit word “advaita” (literally “not two”), and this word generally goes hand-in-hand with another Sanskrit word: Vedanta.  Vedanta is actually one of 6 philosophical systems found in the Hindu tradition, and it essentially the essential teachings of the Vedas (literally, it translates as “the end of the Vedas”), and primarily is based in the teachings of the Upanishads.

Advaita Vedanta, the ancient Hindu philosophy of non-dualism, is actually becoming more and more well-known these days, partly due to teachers like Gangaji, Mooji, Ekhart Tolle, and Adyashanti who have been in a sense popularizing/translating this for a Western audience (they are sometimes called “neo-advaitins”).  This is actually the world that I inhabited for years before getting into the Course, and it was the Advaita philosophy that always seemed the highest and most profound for me.   So when I discovered the Course, to go back to the issue of doubt and skepticism about its message, I can’t tell you what a confirmation it was to see how very similar the Course is to Advaita Vedanta.  I mean, it’s uncanny.  It’s like, c’mon, how could this possibly be?

Now, even though these two traditions are so similar, and even though I was so grounded in the Advaita Vedanta tradition, currently the Course speaks to me more and it has helped me as much as Advaita has, if not more.   It might well be that this is so just because it’s all so new to me, but it could also be that I’ve finally found the one thing to lead me home, which is what it feels like.  I also sense that the Course will be easier for westerners to grasp, plus it’s all in one book, so I’ve found it useful to use it as an aid in the teaching of yoga, and nonduality in particular.

The thing about the Course is that there’s a bit of a learning curve involved, and it has to do with its language – again, the FORM in which its author chose to present the material.  Essentially, to use another term from the yoga tradition, the Course is presenting us with a form of Jnana Yoga.  What is Jnana Yoga?  Jnana Yoga is actually one of 7-8 major paths to God found in the yoga tradition.  Some of the other paths are: Karma Yoga (the path of selfless action), Raja Yoga (the meditative path), Bhakti Yoga (the devotional path), Tantra Yoga (the path of sacred ritual), and Hatha Yoga (the path of transcendence through the body).   Today in the West, it is really Hatha Yoga that has really caught on with the general population, but the other paths of yoga have also taken root, though to a far lesser extent, as well.   For example, the Hare Krishna movement has brought more of the Bhakti element to the fore, Bhakti being the devotional path.  And Transcendental Meditation (TM) has brought more of the Raja Yoga path, Raja being the meditative path.  Krishnamurti introduced many to the path of Jnana Yoga, etc.

So Jnana Yoga is often called the path for the thinkers, those who are more philosophically oriented.  After scribing the Course, Helen apparently said something to the effect, “Finally, there’s something for the thinkers!”   Yes, Helen was proud of the Course and even somewhat protective of it, even though she herself chose not to practice it and even apparently renounced it toward the end of her life.  Another interesting thing she said at one point was: “I know it’s all true, I just don’t believe it!”  I feel Ken Wapnick was correct in saying that Helen didn’t need to practice the Course, it wasn’t necessary for her to do so.  She had fulfilled her purpose in her lifetime by being a pure channel for the Course’s message, and that was enough.

Helen also apparently didn’t feel the Course was for everyone, just really for a small group of people who were truly ready for it.  This may very well be the case, yet it is true that as I said before, the Course is also for every body, and everyone can be helped by its message, even if they don’t accept all of its terms and conditions and go all the way with it.  My understanding is that the Course is saying that we all wake up to what the Course is saying on our own eventually anyway, with or without the help of the Course – in fact, it’s already happened, we just missed the memo and are currently in the process of remembering that accomplished fact.

Just to give you an idea of how we are all in this process, willy nilly (whether we know it or not), even my dad has been doing the Course. One thing dad has started to say in recent years (he’s in his mid-80s now) is “you can make yourself happy, or you can make yourself sad.”  Well, that’s the Course’s essential message right there – it’s all our choice, suffering is optional.  And my dad’s also started to say: “Would you rather be right or happy?”  Which is one of the Course’s brilliant lines that has really caught on.  My dad must have heard that somewhere because he doesn’t even know what A Course in Miracles is, nor do I think he would care much for it if he did.   But my point is that we either come to these things on our own (and then if we do pick up the Course, its like: “Of Course!”), or we learn them from the Course itself, or from the many spin-offs on the Course that are out there these days.

In any case, it’s the Jnana Yogis who I feel can appreciate the Course the most, because the Course is a completely worked-out and consistent “thought system,” a whole philosophy.  It’s very logical and it also points out the extent to which we can go with intellectual reasoning.  I personally was drawn to the Course because of this element, but not just that —  it has an authority about it that I still have not found any way to dismiss.  I want to add that my early training was in philosophy and psychology, and Plato/ Socrates were my greatest inspirations early on.

Jnana Yoga is also the path of discerning between the real and unreal in each and every moment.  Simply put for our purposes, this means making choices out of Love, not out of fear. The ego and all that spawns from its thought system is “unreal” according to the Course, and God, who is also Love, is the one and only reality.  So our return to God must be through a process of searching our mind and separating out our incorrect and misguided thinking, choosing to think only as God thinks (so to speak), aligning our will with God’s Will.  Again, though, in this process we are not adding anything, only removing what is not true.

Besides Jnana Yoga, the Course does contain elements of the other yogas, too, particularly Bhakti Yoga. In Bhakti Yoga we find the elements of trust, surrender, humility, faith and devotion. Essentially, the Course is asking that we surrender to its message, and follow it to a “t” (get it?)  But everything is voluntary, there is no coercion here, no fear of punishment.  Jesus, the symbol of the Perfect Love within all of us, is saying to us: You will have to do this sooner or later, my dear, so why not now?  So the Bhakti element here would be the extent to which we can let go and accept its perfect message of love and forgiveness. May we all have Godspeed with this!

forgiveness is still

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 9

ACIM Text Reading for February 9

Chapter 5 ~ Healing and Wholeness

IV. The Guide to Salvation

The way to recognize your brother is by recognizing the Holy Spirit in him. I have already said that the Holy Spirit is the bridge for the transfer of perception to knowledge, so we can use the terms as if they were related, because in His Mind they are. This relationship must be in His Mind because, unless it were, the separation between the two ways of thinking would not be open to healing. He is part of the Holy Trinity, because His Mind is partly yours and also partly God’s. This needs clarification, not in statement but in experience.

The Holy Spirit is the idea of healing. Being thought, the idea gains as it is shared. Being the Call for God, it is also the idea of God. Since you are part of God it is also the idea of yourself, as well as of all His creations. The idea of the Holy Spirit shares the property of other ideas because it follows the laws of the universe of which it is a part. It is strengthened by being given away. It increases in you as you give it to your brother. Your brother does not have to be aware of the Holy Spirit in himself or in you for this miracle to occur. He may have dissociated the Call for God, just as you have. This dissociation is healed in both of you as you become aware of the Call for God in him, and thus acknowledge its being.

There are two diametrically opposed ways of seeing your brother. They must both be in your mind, because you are the perceiver. They must also be in his, because you are perceiving him. See him through the Holy Spirit in his mind, and you will recognize Him in yours. What you acknowledge in your brother you are acknowledging in yourself, and what you share you strengthen.

The Voice of the Holy Spirit is weak in you. That is why you must share It. It must be increased in strength before you can hear It. It is impossible to hear It in yourself while It is so weak in your mind. It is not weak in Itself, but It is limited by your unwillingness to hear It. If you make the mistake of looking for the Holy Spirit in yourself alone your thoughts will frighten you because, by adopting the ego’s viewpoint, you are undertaking an ego-alien journey with the ego as guide. This is bound to produce fear.

Delay is of the ego, because time is its concept. Both time and delay are meaningless in eternity. I have said before that the Holy Spirit is God’s Answer to the ego. Everything of which the Holy Spirit reminds you is in direct opposition to the ego’s notions, because true and false perceptions are themselves opposed. The Holy Spirit has the task of undoing what the ego has made. He undoes it at the same level on which the ego operates, or the mind would be unable to understand the change.

I have repeatedly emphasized that one level of the mind is not understandable to another. So it is with the ego and the Holy Spirit; with time and eternity. Eternity is an idea of God, so the Holy Spirit understands it perfectly. Time is a belief of the ego, so the lower mind, which is the ego’s domain, accepts it without question. The only aspect of time that is eternal is now.

The Holy Spirit is the mediator between the interpretations of the ego and the knowledge of the spirit. His ability to deal with symbols enables Him to work with the ego’s beliefs in its own language. His ability to look beyond symbols into eternity enables Him to understand the laws of God, for which He speaks. He can therefore perform the function of reinterpreting what the ego makes, not by destruction but by understanding. Understanding is light, but you yourself do not know this. It is therefore the task of the Holy Spirit to reinterpret you on behalf of God.

You cannot understand yourself alone. This is because you have no meaning apart from your rightful place in the Sonship, and the rightful place of the Sonship is God. This is your life, your eternity and your Self. It is of this that the Holy Spirit reminds you. It is this that the Holy Spirit sees. This vision frightens the ego because it is so calm. Peace is the ego’s greatest enemy because, according to its interpretation of reality, war is the guarantee of its survival. The ego becomes strong in strife. If you believe there is strife you will react viciously, because the idea of danger has entered your mind. The idea itself is an appeal to the ego. The Holy Spirit is as vigilant as the ego to the call of danger, opposing it with His strength just as the ego welcomes it. The Holy Spirit counters this welcome by welcoming peace. Eternity and peace are as closely related as are time and war.

Perception derives meaning from relationships. Those you accept are the foundations of your beliefs. The separation is merely another term for a split mind. The ego is the symbol of separation, just as the Holy Spirit is the symbol of peace. What you perceive in others you are strengthening in yourself. You may let your mind misperceive, but the Holy Spirit lets your mind reinterpret its own misperceptions.

The Holy Spirit is the perfect teacher. He uses only what your mind already understands to teach you that you do not understand it. The Holy Spirit can deal with a reluctant learner without going counter to his mind, because part of it is still for God. Despite the ego’s attempts to conceal this part, it is still much stronger than the ego, although the ego does not recognize it. The Holy Spirit recognizes it perfectly because it is His Own dwelling place; the place in the mind where He is at home. You are at home there, too, because it is a place of peace, and peace is of God. You who are part of God are not at home except in His peace. If peace is eternal, you are at home only in eternity.

The ego made the world as it perceives it, but the Holy Spirit, the reinterpreter of what the ego made, sees the world as a teaching device for bringing you home. The Holy Spirit must perceive time, and reinterpret it into the timeless. He must work through opposites, because He must work with and for a mind that is in opposition. Correct and learn, and be open to learning. You have not made truth, but truth can still set you free. Look as the Holy Spirit looks, and understand as He understands. His understanding looks back to God in remembrance of me. He is in communion with God always, and He is part of you. He is your guide to salvation, because He holds the remembrance of things past and to come, and brings them to the present. He holds this gladness gently in your mind, asking only that you increase it in His Name by sharing it to increase His joy in you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 9

Lesson 40

I am blessed as a Son of God.

Today we will begin to assert some of the happy things to which you are entitled, being what you are. No long practice periods are required today, but very frequent short ones are necessary. Once every ten minutes would be highly desirable, and you are urged to attempt this schedule and to adhere to it whenever possible. If you forget, try again. If there are long interruptions, try again. Whenever you remember, try again.

You need not close your eyes for the exercise periods, although you will probably find it more helpful if you do. However, you may be in a number of situations during the day when closing your eyes would not be feasible. Do not miss a practice period because of this. You can practice quite well under any circumstances, if you really want to.

Today’s exercises take little time and no effort. Repeat the idea for today, and then add several of the attributes you associate with being a Son of God, applying them to yourself. One practice period might, for example, consist of the following:

I am blessed as a Son of God.
I am happy, peaceful, loving and contented.

Another might take this form:

I am blessed as a Son of God.
I am calm, quiet, assured and confident.

If only a brief period is available, merely telling yourself that you are blessed as a Son of God will do.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1291: A Course in Miracles says: “As you teach so you shall learn” (T.5.IV.6:4; T.6.I.6:1), but do others learn what you teach or do they only learn what they teach?

A: This seems like a fairly simple question calling for a simple answer. It isn’t, though, because the Course’s approach to teaching and learning differs significantly from the world’s, which rests on the premise that everyone’s interests are separate from everyone else’s. This is the mistake that Jesus attempts to correct throughout the Course. In this context, the idea “as you teach so shall you learn” flows from the general Course principle that giving and receiving are the same , the correction of the ego’s deception that what you give to another you lose, and that you can affect another without affecting yourself (see W.pI.108.1,2,3,4,5,6,7; W.pI.126, W.pI.187. ) The world’s emphasis on form at the expense of content is what sustains this ego approach.

The most concentrated discussion of this issue is found in the Introduction to the manual for teachers. We quote only in part, but the entire Introduction is relevant.

“The role of teaching and learning is actually reversed in the thinking of the world. The reversal is characteristic. It seems as if the teacher and the learner are separated, the teacher giving something to the learner rather than to himself. Further, the act of teaching is regarded as a special activity, in which one engages only a relatively small proportion of one’s time. The course, on the other hand, emphasizes that to teach is to learn, so that teacher and learner are the same. It also emphasizes that teaching is a constant process; it goes on every moment of the day, and continues into sleeping thoughts as well.

To teach is to demonstrate. There are only two thought systems, and you demonstrate that you believe one or the other is true all the time. From your demonstration others learn, and so do you. . . . You cannot give to someone else, but only to yourself, and this you learn through teaching. . . . Teaching but reinforces what you believe about yourself. . . . the self you think is real is what you teach.” (M.in.1; 2:1,2,3; 3:7,10)

We generally equate teaching with form. Thus, for example, I may say that by profession I am a teacher and that I teach subjects in which I have expertise, which might include A Course in Miracles . This implies that I have what my students lack and I am going to supply them with it. While this analysis is correct on the level of form, we need to remember that this is a course in content : “This is a course in cause and not effect” (T.21.VII.7:8) is how the text expresses it. Effect is the form or behavior, having to do only with bodies and the world, whereas cause is in the mind and reflects either the ego’s content — guilt, separation, fear, and hate — or the Holy Spirit ‘s — forgiveness, peace, and healing. The Course, therefore, emphasizes only content, and so teaching, according to the manual, has nothing to do with behavior or form.

On the level of form, my true interest as a teacher is the same as your interest as a student, and that is to learn that the Holy Spirit’s thought system is true and the ego’s is false. Therefore we are the same in content — what I teach, I learn; what you learn, you teach. Teachers and learners alike share the thought systems of the ego and the Holy Spirit, and the power to choose between them. Again, it is not my demonstration of expertise in a particular subject matter that is important, but the demonstration that either the ego’s or Holy Spirit’s thought system is true. I teach the ego’s separation by my special relationship with you, while I teach the Holy Spirit’s Atonement by transcending specialness, choosing to see our interests as shared.

Your “learning” reinforces the decision you made for the thought system of separation or Atonement. For example, your special relationship with me — regardless of its form — reflects that you believe that separation is real and that your needs have to be fulfilled at my expense. If I am coming from that same point of view, my interaction will tell you that you made the right choice. Since egos are attack and I have identified with my ego, I will attack you. Thus do I give the ego’s gift by reinforcing its message that you are an innocent victim; and you, of course, reciprocate. And so we continue our dance of death: my decision for the ego reinforces your own, which strengthens my decision that in turn strengthens yours — and both of us lose.

However, when I am in my right mind and not defensive, and I perceive our shared interests, my right-mindedness calls you to choose peace as I have. The peace you experience coming through me is now yours, if you so choose. Yet, if you are in your right mind and I am not, and I attack you as the object of my specialness, your defenseless non-judgment teaches me, even though I may be in the role of teacher. Your not becoming upset demonstrates that my attack had no effect, and thus you remind me that I have another choice.

*

Q #1281: In Chapter 5 of the text, Jesus says, “I have saved all your kindnesses and every loving thought you ever had. I have purified them of the errors that hid their light, and kept them for you in their own perfect radiance” (T.5.IV.8:3,4). Is he talking about our errors or the errors of the people that our kindnesses were directed toward, or both?

A: Jesus is referring to our own kindnesses and loving thoughts. He is saying that he does not take into consideration the ego aspects that may have crept in, and that we reflect Heaven’s changeless love when we choose him as our teacher instead of the ego.

This entire paragraph was originally meant for Helen, especially the opening line, “How can you who are so holy suffer?” (T.5.IV.8:1) . This is a unique passage in A Course in Miracles at this point (Chapter 5), for it is the first time this form appears. It is almost as if Jesus had been dictating the thought system to Helen from a script, which he dropped to sing this lovely little aria. Clearly, it is meant for all of us. It is Jesus’ gentle way of saying to us that we can choose again and feel differently — the choice is ours.

forgiveness is still

ACIM Supplemental Reading & Workbook Lesson for December 7

ACIM Supplemental Reading for December 7
The Comforter
~*~
By Helen Schucman*
Step back, My child, and let Him lead the way
Whom I have sent to you. He holds your hand
And speaks to you of Me. His memory
Holds in your mind My Name. His peace surrounds
My child with all the love a Father feels
For what He cherishes above all else
In earth and Heaven. Whom I sent to you
Has shared My Heart and brings My Word with Him
To solace and to comfort all the world
That has forgot My Name. Homeless are they
Who would abide alone, apart from Me.
Yet would I call them home. My Voice I send
To sing in soundless places. Hear from Me
The song a Father sings to you, His child;
A melody from far beyond he world,
Step back and listen, for He comes to bless
And tell you that you are not comfortless.The summer’s stillness of arresting heat;
– by Helen Schucman

1/1/1974

*Helen Schucman, scribe of A Course in Miracles, was also a poet who took
down several poems even while she was scribing A Course in Miracles. This poem “The Comforter” was dated January 1, 1974 and is located among many of her other poems in a book titled, “The Gifts of God” published by the Foundation for Inner Peace [FIP]. The book is available through FIP and also through the Community Miracle Center CMC.

SOURCEhttps://cimsmiracles.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/poetry-helen-schucman/

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 7

Lesson 336
Forgiveness lets me know that minds are joined.

Forgiveness is the means appointed for perception’s ending. Knowledge is restored after perception first is changed, and then gives way entirely to what remains forever past its highest reach. For sights and sounds, at best, can serve but to recall the memory that lies beyond them all. Forgiveness sweeps away distortions, and opens the hidden altar to the truth. Its lilies shine into the mind, and call it to return and look within, to find what it has vainly sought without. For here, and only here, is peace of mind restored, for this the dwelling place of God Himself.

In quiet may forgiveness wipe away my dreams of separation and of sin. Then let me, Father, look within, and find Your promise of my sinlessness is kept; Your Word remains unchanged within my mind, Your Love is still abiding in my heart.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #850: What does the successful completion of A Course in Miracles look like? I was disappointed to read that Helen did not make it. When I was reading Absence from Felicity , I was horrified to read about the nature of Helen’s death; it seemed gruesome. How could this be? One year ago I read about the illusion of sickness and what it means. I was a chronically sick person, but once I believed that sickness was an illusion like the Matrix, I never was never sick again. This made quite an impression on me. How could Helen have died that way when I could remove sickness with a minor revelation?

A: It appears that you are confusing form and content by concluding that Helen “did not make it” because of the nature of her death. Most people would look to that as a kind of criterion of her spiritual advancement; but it would be a mistake to do so. Kenneth also stated in his account of her death that there was a totally peaceful look on her face. Jesus had told her that he would come for her when she died, and her peaceful countenance seemed to confirm that.

When we use the nature of a person’s death as a criterion, we would have to ask ourselves, Well, what about Jesus? His death was rather gruesome if you judge entirely by what appeared to happen to his body. Yet he tells us in the Course that he did not experience it as a gruesome event at all (T.6.I.5) . That was the lesson he was passing on to us and asking us to demonstrate as well: “Teach not that I died in vain. Teach rather that I did not die by demonstrating that I live in you” (T.11.VI.7:3,4) . The condition of one’s body (the form) is not necessarily an indicator of the content of one’s mind — of whether or not Jesus lives in us. In this sense, there is no way of saying what the successful completion of the Course would look like, perhaps other than to say that an inner state of undisturbed peace would somehow radiate through a person who would appear to be “normal” in every other respect. This could be a person paralyzed from a spinal cord injury, the plumber who just fixed a broken pipe in your kitchen, or the surgeon who just transplanted a liver. The beginning of Lesson 155 says of such a person that he or she would “smile more frequently” (W.pI.155.1:2) . That is all that would stand out, so to speak.

There is no way we can know the whole of another person’s Atonement path, anymore than we can know our own, and therefore we should not judge where we think a person is, spiritually. As we move along in our journey back to God and our true Self, Jesus encourages us to approach everything in our lives as classrooms in which we can gradually and gently learn that everything outside Heaven, including our individual selves, is an illusion. Thus, when we are sick or even dying, Jesus can guide us through that experience to help us learn that the peace in our minds cannot be affected by anything of the body. What a valuable lesson! He starts with wherever we are at, whatever the condition of our bodies, and he just invites us to ask him in as our teacher. That is the way most of us learn.

As your experience testifies, though, we can also learn in one instant that our bodies are completely under the control of our minds, and then there would no longer be any symptoms, unless the mind chose to use the body that way. That is not necessarily an indicator of spiritual advancement, though. We do have very powerful minds, and our bodies do only what our minds tell them to do; but the completion of our Atonement path involves much more than that.

Question #262 discusses the suffering and death of enlightened beings, along with other pertinent issues about death.

HelenandBillat1W.81stStreetNYC

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 8

ACIM Text Reading for November 8

Clarification of Terms

The Holy Spirit

Jesus is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, Whom he called down upon the earth after he ascended into Heaven, or became completely identified with the Christ, the Son of God as He created Him. The Holy Spirit, being a creation of the one Creator, creating with Him and in His likeness or spirit, is eternal and has never changed. He was “called down upon the earth” in the sense that it was now possible to accept Him and to hear His Voice. His is the Voice for God, and has therefore taken form. This form is not His reality, which God alone knows along with Christ, His real Son, Who is part of Him.

The Holy Spirit is described throughout the course as giving us the answer to the separation and bringing the plan of the Atonement to us, establishing our particular part in it and showing us exactly what it is. He has established Jesus as the leader in carrying out His plan since he was the first to complete his own part perfectly. All power in Heaven and earth is therefore given him and he will share it with you when you have completed yours. The Atonement principle was given to the Holy Spirit long before Jesus set it in motion.

The Holy Spirit is described as the remaining Communication Link between God and His separated Sons. In order to fulfill this special function the Holy Spirit has assumed a dual function. He knows because He is part of God; He perceives because He was sent to save humanity. He is the great correction principle; the bringer of true perception, the inherent power of the vision of Christ. He is the light in which the forgiven world is perceived; in which the face of Christ alone is seen. He never forgets the Creator or His creation. He never forgets the Son of God. He never forgets you. And He brings the Love of your Father to you in an eternal shining that will never be obliterated because God has put it there.

The Holy Spirit abides in the part of your mind that is part of the Christ Mind. He represents your Self and your Creator, Who are One. He speaks for God and also for you, being joined with Both. And therefore it is He Who proves Them One. He seems to be a Voice, for in that form He speaks God’s Word to you. He seems to be a Guide through a far country, for you need that form of help. He seems to be whatever meets the needs you think you have. But He is not deceived when you perceive your self entrapped in needs you do not have. It is from these He would deliver you. It is from these that He would make you safe.

You are His manifestation in this world. Your brother calls to you to be His Voice along with him. Alone he cannot be the Helper of God’s Son for he alone is functionless. But joined with you he is the shining Savior of the world, Whose part in its redemption you have made complete. He offers thanks to you as well as him for you arose with him when he began to save the world. And you will be with him when time is over and no trace remains of dreams of spite in which you dance to death’s thin melody. For in its place the hymn to God is heard a little while. And then the Voice is gone, no longer to take form but to return to the eternal formlessness of God.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 8

Lesson 308

This instant is the only time there is.

I have conceived of time in such a way that I defeat my aim. If I elect to reach past time to timelessness, I must change my perception of what time is for. Time’s purpose cannot be to keep the past and future one. The only interval in which I can be saved from time is now. For in this instant has forgiveness come to set me free. The birth of Christ is now, without a past or future. He has come to give His present blessing to the world, restoring it to timelessness and love. And love is ever-present, here and now.

Thanks for this instant, Father. It is now I am redeemed. This instant is the time You have appointed for Your Son’s release, and for salvation of the world in him.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #142: I have been a keen student of A Course in Miracles for a good 12 years and find it the most appropriate spiritual path for me. Thinking of Jesus and his teachings has become a part of my life, a way of consciously forgiving myself and thus of course others as well. I also accept fully that all pain is some form of unforgiveness (“Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness” [W.pI.193.4:1]). Now regardless of my practice, which is almost on a continual and absolutely unforced basis, parallel to whatever else I may be occupied with, various aches and pains and other ailments do occur at a level which makes me question the efficacy of my practice — my only choice then remaining the same old magic, usually a pain killer. Even ardently repeating a maxim like “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me” [W.pI.rVI.3:3,4,5] during an attack seems quite ineffective. Is it basically still a very fearful subconscious that is at the bottom of this, or is it the ego taking me for a ride and having me believe that I have forgiven myself more than I really have?

 A: You’re trying so very hard, but you also want to be gentle and patient with yourself. It would be helpful not to try to evaluate your progress based on any feedback you feel your body is giving you. Aches and pains always reveal unhealed areas in the mind, and in that sense it is helpful to pay attention to them, but not as a yardstick against which to judge how well you are practicing forgiveness and whether you are passing or failing the Course. 

Yes, there is still fear, as well as guilt, buried in your subconscious mind, and yes, your ego will always want to fool you about your progress, but also your lack of progress (T.18.V.1:5,6). All of that is to be expected while you still identify yourself as the body which has the name you answer to. For seeing yourself as a body means you still believe that the separation and its accompanying guilt are real and you still believe you need a defense against that guilt, which is the purpose the body serves. The pain, apparently in the body, is intended to distract you from its real source in the mind. So if you are willing to make the connection back to the mind and see the cause — unforgiveness — that is all you really need do.

 If there is a pain killer that seems to be helpful in relieving your pain, by all means continue to use it. So what if it is not the ultimate healing? Know that Jesus is not judging you for what you may see as your weakness and inability to forgive completely. Taking medication is a gentler and more loving way of dealing with your pain than trying to persuade yourself that the pain is not real by using words from the Course as affirmations to shout down the ego and cover over what you still believe about yourself — that you are a body. It will always be more helpful simply to get in touch with what you still believe and why, knowing, as you suggest, that it is only fear that holds you in those beliefs. By acknowledging and looking at the fear, you will be doing your part in its healing.

For a further consideration of issues related to the questions you raise, you may wish to look at Question #128.

jesus there is no death

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