On an online forum related to A Course in Miracles, someone recalled a conversation between Course scholar Kenneth Wapnick and one of his workshop participants. This man remarked that he would like to give a copy of A Course in Miracles to a few of his friends as a gift. Kenneth replied: “Why would you want to do that? Don’t you like them? It’s a horror story!” You might imagine the surprise in the eyes of the fellow in question as he considered this startling view on ACIM.
So why is A Course in Miracles a horror story? Isn’t this the curriculum par excellence that provides the “means and end” to lasting inner peace? The basic dynamic taught by A Course in Miracles is true forgiveness, first of your brother and then of yourself (which is of course really the same). With that comes the realization that this nightmarish dream of time and space never happened in reality. Not only that; we are convincingly taught by Jesus that God isn’t angry. On the contrary, He loves the entire Sonship. We only need to look honestly at our ego dynamics and choose to hear – and follow – the Holy Spirit, the “Voice for God”, once again. God is Love, and salvation is guaranteed! That doesn’t particularly sound like a horror story, does it?
What’s horrific about A Course in Miracles is that it heralds the end of the ego, which we’re so desperately attached to. Anyone who walks this earth is deeply convinced that he’s essentially a body, born with a unique special personality. We regard a “strong healthy ego” as a prerequisite for survival. The realization that we tend to get ill, manipulated and hurt, and inevitably die, is usually repressed below the watershed of the iceberg we call our mind. Most people live their lives on auto-pilot, with ups and downs, which is the “nature of life”, isn’t it?
In A Course in Miracles we read that everything in time and space that we hold dear (or hate) is completely illusory. What’s more, even our cherished individual personality turns out to be but a feeble whim. We’re like the sunbeam that imagines it is the sun; like the wave that hallucinates it is the ocean (T-18.9.3). This, of course, symbolizes our seeming separation from our Creator – I defied God and now believe that I am god; the ultimate sin; the source of all our guilt and all our fears. To the ego, the horror is that if we would honestly look inside our minds, we would see no sin – and therefore no foundation for the ego’s existence. Ouch! To the ego, the horror is our possible realization that we could do without the ego, and would be much better off too. “You do not ask too much of life, but far too little”, Jesus exhorts (W-pI.133.2), kindly inviting us to switch teachers of our mind. The choice for right-mindedness enables us to escape the cannibalistic laws of chaos (T-23.II) that govern the ego’s world of time and space, a world which precisely serves to keep the mind eternally mindless. Somehow deep down inside we do realize that everything here eventually fails, withers and dies, but the alternative (so the ego counsels us) means losing our individuality, which we swore never to abandon, by opposing God’s Will forever (T-24.IV.4).
We’ve exiled ourselves to a desert, where starved and thirsty creatures come to die (W-pII.13.5). A desert cannot be fought against. The thing to do with a desert is to leave, as Jesus once told Helen personally (see Absence from Felicity, p.252). However, as long as we’re not fully aware of a much better alternative, we simply won’t do it. For example, you and I find it extremely difficult to give up self-sabotaging bad habits, because our pain defines our special individual self. Rationally we do try, but in our gut we’re too afraid to really make the change of mind Jesus invites us to make, seeing only the alternative of annihilation that our ego presented us. Who would we be without our problems (i.e., without our ego)? This is why the combination of ACIM‘s Textbook and Workbook is so important to fathom. The Textbook provides a consistent and convincing treatise on what we truly are, what the ego is up to, why the alternative is much better, and how to go about it. The Workbook provides the means to turn intellectual understanding into experience. It is only the personal experience of inner peace that makes us say to our friends, in glad astonishment, that A Course in Miracles really works.
It’s understandable that any student who has convincingly experienced this promised inner peace, however brief, feels the urge to “push” the message of A Course in Miracles to friends, family, and other loved ones. It’s tempting to regard yourself as a happy learner, a Teacher of God, and bringer of the Holy Spirit’s message of salvation. However, this is not at all what Jesus advocates in A Course in Miracles. On the contrary – if you look closely at this urge, you’ll realize that the ego has subtly crept back in again. Jesus merely asks me, as ACIM student, to accept the Atonement for myself. Since minds are joined, every time I truly forgive, I do so for the entire Sonship. When others choose to accept such forgiveness, is not for us to decide. That’s up to the Holy Spirit, who knows that time is illusory anyway.
We should always respectfully accept people where they currently are, to paraphrase the famous coaching axiom. Living as a Teacher of God means that you’ve fired your ego as your Teacher, and are now willing to let the Holy Spirit gently guide all your every day activities. Only in this way will the (seemingly separated) people cross your path that are meant to find you, and vice versa. Only the Holy Spirit knows how to use time perfectly to eventually undo time. A happy learner does not evangelize A Course in Miracles, but simply allows all thoughts and actions to be gently guided by the Holy Spirit. You may or may not be called to explicitly teach about A Course in Miracles, but in either case, your own true forgiveness, born of an attitude of letting go, letting come – remains the key.
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: