At first reading, A Course in Miracles seems to be firmly rooted in Christianity. After all, we read a lot about God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, not to mention the fact that its author is no-one less than Jesus. The text contains hundreds of implicit and explicit references to biblical passages. And although in A Course in Miracles God is stripped from His vengeful traits we read about in the bible, much of the text is about learning how to focus more and more on our love for God each day.
Moreover, in A Course in Miracles God is definitely pictured anthropomorph, in the likeness of us human beings. We read that God is lonely without His children (T-2.III.5:11), that He weeps for us having forgotten Him (as if He has a body that can produce tears), and that at the end of our spiritual journey He will come down and lift us up into Heaven (cf. W-pI.69.7; W-pI.168.3). At the same time, though, other passages seem to contradict this image of a humanoid God. Although the workbook contains many prayers directly addressed to God, the manual emphasizes that “God does not understand words, as they were made to keep us separate from Him” (M-21.I.7). In workbook lesson 183 we read about praying to God: “Think not He hears the little prayers of those who call on Him with names of idols cherished by the world. They cannot reach Him thus.” (W-pI.183.7:3-4).
Other passages go even further, and hold that time itself is one “vast illusion” (W-pI.158.4), and that God did not create this material world (C-4.1); we made it, as the one collective ego that chose to seemingly fall asleep in a dream of separation from the Oneness that is God. We made the world as an attack on God, to proclaim a space of our own where God could enter not (W-pII.3.2:1,4), so that the ego can contentedly conclude that the separation from God succeeded. In short, A Coure in Miracles seems, at a first glance, to be full of contradiction about the nature of God, the universe and ourselves. To many readers, the confusion that this engenders does not really motivate them to study the core of its message more thoroughly, to put it mildly.
This is why it’s so useful to add the many published works of Kenneth Wapnick to your spiritual reading list. Ken never tired of addressing such potential sources of confusion and explaining with great patience and honesty how we should interpret the message of A Course in Miracles in terms of the difference between form and its underlying content. Briefly summarized, we should realize that A Course in Miracles only uses anthropomorphic images and Christian language because that is the level of understanding we can initially relate to. Once we progress in our spiritual study, however, we are invited to look beyond these symbols to the real content of its message, which is not rooted in Christianity, but more in nondualistic metaphysics. It is only because phrases such as “a Oneness joined as One” are utterly meaningless to us who experience ourselves as separated individuals, that Jesus (himself a symbol, more about that later) uses language that we can relate to, love and understand.
As an example, let’s look at lesson 183, where we are invited to “call upon God’s Name and on our own”, as a means to find the inner peace we so desperately desire. Why should I call upon God’s Name if I am simultaneously told that God doesn’t understand words, that He doesn’t hear “little prayers with words”, and in fact does not even know about this world? The answer, as always, lies in being able to distinguish clearly between form and its underlying content. God is not anthropomorphic; God has no form. The word “God” is merely a symbol for the eternal Love that is our Source and Inheritance. Likewise, the “Name of God” is just a symbol for the reflection of that Love that we can personally experience by choosing to focus on the Holy Spirit as our guide (being Himself a symbol for the Voice for Love), instead of a focus on the ego, which, also, is merely a symbol for our choice for wrong-minded thinking or separation, attack, sin, guilt and fear.
So when Jesus invites me to “call upon the Name of God and on my own”, he isn’t being inconsistent. Jesus invites me to “choose once again” the Voice for Love (the Holy Spirit) as the primary focus of my thoughts, to eventually realize that my loving thoughts actually reflect my real Identity much closer than all my usual thoughts of specialness, individuality, autonomy and separation. To “call upon the Name of God and on my own” is therefore a poetic way of saying: “Choose again the Love that is not of this world, and realize this is your true Identity”.
Realize, though, that this is a nondualistic statement. Actually, Jesus’ entire curriculum called A Course in Miracles is, in a sense, a guide to motivate our mind to eventually honestly prefer nonduality (reality) to duality (the ego-dream). However, since we are all still convinced that dualistic time and space comprise our daily reality, Jesus needs to use anthropomorphic words to which we can relate to, which we can love and understand. As we progress on our spiritual journey-without-distance, we increasingly learn to see the consistent content where we used to perceive only inconsistent form.
In this way, eventually we realize it’s the same with Jesus himself, whom we unconsciously still identify with the figure that walked this planet some two thousand years ago. It’s tempting to regard Jesus as the most divine humanoid life form, having conquered the ego entirely, and who at some point decided to dictate his liberating message to a woman called Helen Schucman. Instead, Kenneth Wapnick clearly explains that “Jesus” should be seen as a symbolic manifestation of the Voice for Love, which is available to all of us all the time. Helen herself, in fact, never felt she had any particular special talent. She once said that, at least in principle, everyone is able to experience this Voice for Love.
We should not, however, focus on the voice as form. Most of us experience this Voice for Love not as a voice, but as peaceful intuition in the heart or hara (lower belly) area. The ‘Voice’ is then experienced as a loving impulse, which, as most of us know, always leads to the best imaginable outcome for everyone. So I should always try to remember that “The name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol. But it stands for love that is not of this world.” (M23.4:1-2). The happy message of A Course in Miracles is that this Love is also my own inheritance. So to “call upon the Name of God”, meaning: to invite the help of the symbols called “Holy Spirit” or “Jesus”, reminds me that there is indeed an alternative to the ego-clutter in my mind, and that the Name of God is my Name, because this Oneness Love is my inheritance. As we read in the poetic concluding chapter of the text: “God has ordained I cannot call in vain, and in His certainty I rest content.” (T-31.VIII.9:5).
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.