The spiritual curriculum of A Course in Miracles is often regarded as an overly intellectual and difficult mind training program. Many students don’t go beyond browsing the pages every now and then to see if their eyes rest on a lovely passage that can be used as an affirmation for the day. However, the fact that these students easily overlook much of the discussion about the psychological and metaphysical ingredients of the Course, is not chiefly due to a lack of intellectual ability. More often than not, these more confronting sections are skipped because there’s unconscious resistance at work. On some level, the message of A Course in Miracles is deeply threatening to the ego, and arouses tremendous anxiety. How does that work?
First of all, there are many places in the text where Jesus emphasizes the clarity and simplicity of his Course, starting with the introduction: “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God” (T-In.2:2-4). Thus Jesus states: “This is a very simple course. […] The reason this course is simple is that truth is simple” (T-11.VIII.1:1; T-15.IV.6:1). And in chapter 9 he assures us: “This course offers a very direct and very simple learning situation, and provides the Guide [i.e., the Holy Spirit] Who tells you what to do. If you do it, you will see that it works” (T-9.V.9:1). This, however, assumes that we are wholly willing to listen to this Guide, and follow through! But do we? Obviously, the answer is “No”, and the reason is equally obvious: although we do want inner peace, we do not want to relinquish our precious special ego. Still, that is exactly the heart of the message of this particular Course with this Guide.
And so Jesus gently chides us: “This Course is perfectly clear. If you do not see it clearly, it is because you are interpreting against it, and therefore do not believe it. [ …] This course requires almost nothing of you. It is impossible to imagine one that asks so little, or could offer more. […] And if you choose against it now, it will not be because it is obscure, but rather that this little cost seemed, in your judgment, to be too much to pay for peace” (T-11.VI.3:1-2; T-20.VII.1:7-8; t-21.II.1:5). This is usually not our own conscious conclusion. After all, we are sincerely looking for lasting inner peace. An important thrust of A Course in Miracles is that in order to find that desired lasting peace, one must face and undo all the dark spots that still reside in the mind — in everyone’s mind, since the Sonship is one in content, both in the eternal Kingdom of Heaven outside time and space, as well as in the waking dream we call the world.
A Course in Miracles, when seriously studied and practiced, inevitably heralds the complete undoing of the ego. It must be so, since Heaven — Oneness — is our true Home as the one Son of God, while the ego is the thought that symbolizes separation (‘not-oneness’). The former is real, while the latter is unreal, which, as we just saw above, does not exist. Since we are all so thoroughly identified with our body, with our unique personality, with our own special ego, no wonder that somewhere deep inside this course arouses tremendous fear: “This course has explicitly stated that its goal for you is happiness and peace. Yet you are afraid of it. You have been told again and again that it will set you free, yet you sometimes react as if it is trying to imprison you. You often dismiss it more readily than you dismiss the ego’s thought system. To some extent, then, you must believe that by not learning the course you are protecting yourself.” (T-13.II.7). What we think we protect, of course, is our individual autonomy as a body with a personality, in time and space. We still confuse unreality with reality.
Jesus tells us in his Course that we are not what we think we are. If you study A Course in Miracles believing you are an autonomous body, seeking a better state to live in, you’re in for some surprises. For example: the body was made (by the seemingly sleeping Son of God) to be able to hide from God and to be separate from everyone and everything, and the “world was made as a place where God could enter not”; in fact, Jesus even bluntly states that “This world was made as an attack on God” (W-pII.3.2:1,4). So if you think you are a well-meaning, love-oriented spiritual seeker, look a bit closer; there’s garbage in the mind to clean up. This is likely to arouse fear, which Jesus addresses in chapter 9 of the text: “It is impossible to learn anything consistently in a state of panic. If the purpose of this course is to help you remember what you are, and if you believe what you are is fearful, then it must follow that you will not learn this course. Yet the reason for the course is that you do not know what you are” (T-9.I.2:3-5).
So there we have it: you and I think we are a distinct personality living in a body; Jesus tells us you and I are pure spirit, still safe at Home in the Heart of God, but dreaming of exile in the desert of separation we call the physical world. Awakening from this nightmare means saying “not no” to the call of the Holy Spirit to accept the Atonement, that is, the return to Oneness. However, Jesus realizes that no-one will make such a radical choice overnight. He illustrates this using Plato’s parable of the cave, wherein a group of prisoners have been in the dark so long that they have come to shun any light whatsoever: “Prisoners bound with heavy chains for years, starved and emaciated, weak and exhausted and with eyes so long cast down in darkness they remember not the light, do not leap up in joy the instant they are made free. It takes a while for them to understand what freedom is. […] [Their] eyes [have] become used to darkness, and the light of brilliant day seems painful to the eyes grown long accustomed to the dim effects perceived at twilight. And they turn away from sunlight and the clarity it brings to what they look up. Dimness seems better…” (T-20.III.9:1; T-25.VI.2:1-2).
This is why A Course in Miracles is not a spirituality to instantly make you feel good. This Course is here to carefully lead you out of the nightmare of time and space, back to the awareness of complete Oneness. And this calls indeed for a complete thought reversal in the mind, which takes time – a lot of time. Therefore, A Course in Miracles is given us as a structured learning process which carefully leads us along all the little steps that we simply cannot skip. To choose the Holy Spirit as our guide in this process, which boils down to a choice to forgive instead of condemn, means we will eventually reach a mind state of cleansed perception (called the real world in the Course), in a process that we can follow and accept: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition. The urgency is only in dislodging your mind from its fixed position here. This will not leave you homeless and without a frame of reference.” (T-16.VI.8:1-4).
Wherein will the journey end once we reach this “real world”, that state of true perception, devoid of all judgment? How is this transition to Oneness made? In the manual for teachers, Jesus presents us with a pep talk, in order to boost our motivation some more: “The path becomes quite different as one goes along. Nor could all the magnificence, the grandeur of the scene and the enormous opening vistas that rise to meet one as the journey continues, be foretold from the outset. Yet even these, whose splendor reaches indescribable heights as one proceeds, fall short indeed of all that wait when the pathway ceases and time ends with it. But somewhere one must start” (M-19.2.5-8). The ‘start’ is the slow but steady process of complete mind reversal: to learn to perceive our individual autonomy as a prison within a nightmare, and to perceive our state of Oneness, outside time and space, as our Home and true freedom. The Holy Spirit will not fail to lead us through this transition if we practice our willingness to let Him. Happy practicing!
See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:
See also my Feb. 2018 Course workshop at www.youtube.com.
Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.