Many popular contemporary spiritualities focus on the experience of universal Oneness, a universal state of unconditional Love. This is then viewed as the “highest potential of humankind”, to be reached by developing a consistent focus on positivism, compassion, sharing, and the voice of the Inner Teacher what will lead the aspirant there.
At a first glance, A Course in Miracles seems to fit right in. After all, at the end of the text, the very last line, we read that at the end of our spiritual journey “we have reached where all of us are one, and we are home, where You [God] would have us be.” (T-31.VIII.12) What many people tend to skip in A Course in Miracles is its focus on the black cauldron we call our ego, why and how it came to be (or better: seemed to come to be) and why we still cling to it. Many people spend a lifetime trying to repress their ego, and sigh at the end of their earthly life that it’s just not possible to get rid of it, however disciplined the spiritual practice might have been. They never realized that they really did not want to get rid of it!
What makes A Course in Miracles unique as a spiritual system is its uncompromising metaphysics concerning time, space, and our concept of self. In order to experience Oneness, we’ll have to give up individuality, separation and judgement entirely. Oneness and duality simply cannot both be real. That’s why Oneness is synonymous with non-duality. If we want Oneness, we’ll have to seriously consider the notion that it may not be possible to have individuality as well – and that this would be preferable, too! Again, many spiritualities seek to combine Oneness and individual consciousness. ACIM tells us this is, in the end, impossible.
In effect, A Course in Miracles states that you and I as individuals do not really exist – the separation from Oneness into multitudinous forms of life never really happened. Time and space are unreal. Even the concept of consciousness, where a subject is aware of an object, aware of something not itself, is completely illusory. The Big Bang, some 13 billion years ago, has been the start of a mad dream (nightmare) of separation and fragmentation into time and space, and nothing more. ACIM concludes that true salvation is the realization that this world of time and space is not our Home. Our true Home is outside of time, space, and outside of consciousness. This can only be reached by giving up all concepts; not with regret, but with a sigh of relief.
Spiritualities that glorify the beauty of the world, of our minds, of relationships, without honestly looking what’s really going on in the unconscious iceberg of the mind below the watershed, merely serve to keep us in a state of amnesia. According to ACIM, if we want to find the everlasting state of unconditional Love and the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding”, we’ll have to look at how much we do not want to give up our individual consciousness. And let’s be honest, you and I have no clue of what life is like without an awareness of an individual self. Individuality & autonomy are everyone’s priority #1, no matter how spiritual we think we are.
The really refreshing and innovative aspect of A Course in Miracles is that it doesn’t deny our experiences in time and space. At first this might seem contradictory, but when delving into ACIM’s concept of mind, we see how this works. All of us share the same mind, which has four aspects: the wrong mind, the right mind, the decision maker, and the One Mind. Before the Big Bang seemed to be, there was only the One Mind, which is our Home for eternity when time and space will cease to seem to be. The other aspects of mind can more or less be seen as quantum possibilities, or dream scenarios.
The decision maker in the mind chooses between the wrong mind and the right mind, which we each also share. We each seem to have a highly individualized ego (“wrong mind”), but its mechanisms are universal around the world: it’s geared towards survival, towards separation, towards autonomy, towards creating a kingdom of its own. This is what you and I have been doing all our lives and are still doing each instant of the day. The “right mind” is activated when we let go of condemnation (which is the meaning of taking Jesus’ hand or allowing the Holy Spirit in) and practice unconditional forgiveness. For this, the idea that we are of the same pure Spirit must at least in part be acceptable and accepted.
The Textbook of ACIM makes us see (granted, only with diligent study and abundant willingness) that below the surface we are all “uncertain, lonely and in constant fear”, walking in a “dry and dusty place where starved and thirsty creatures come to die” (W-341). Until we learn to see this, no spirituality is ever going to take us home to Oneness Love. In ACIM, this does not lead to depression, but to the joy of realizing that everything in time and space is illusory and that we are, in reality, still safe at Home in non-duality; we merely need to awaken.
The Workbook of ACIM trains our minds to reconsider all our values, beliefs and concepts. It paves the way for living the notion of “letting go, letting come“, through the practice of unconditional forgiveness that is the royal road to lasting inner peace; not only in this lifetime, but in all your future lifetimes as well. We’re told in ACIM that honestly practicing true forgiveness can save us thousands of years of suffering. And who wouldn’t want that?
Many ACIM students come to realize by practicing what Jesus advocates, the inner peace manifests itself in many aspects of their lives. The journey Home is not reached by focusing on Love, but by undoing the barriers we erected against Love. For this, we need to look at our minds. We need to shift from mindlessness to mindfulness, which ACIM trains us to do in a delightful gentle manner.
Also see my seven “guidelines for living in an illusory world” in “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles”. This guidebook is published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is now available at Amazon.com:
“Miracles or murder” has been endorsed by Gary Renard and Cindy Lora-Renard: “Jan-Willem’s book is a wonderful summary and recap of the key concepts in A Course in Miracles, furthering one’s understanding and meaning behind this non-dualistic teaching. All the essential elements are brought together with the author pointing out a key theme in the Course, which is the understanding and practice of true Forgiveness. We highly recommend this book as a helpful complement to the teachings of the Course.”
This blog aims at further clarifying the message of this guidebook. It is hoped this will help to speed up your spiritual journey Home.