exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity
A Course In Miracles
"All things are lessons God would have us learn." A Course In Miracles
Editor's prefatory note:
When I write, I often tell myself, “This is the most important topic.” Maybe it’s true this time.
I began studying the “Course” about 15 years ago. I stayed with it, off and on, for 3 years but eventually gave it up as so much of it didn’t make sense to me.
Later, I would personally experience a measure of the sightedness spoken of in the “Course”; of the sort referenced in the “Small Quiet Room” book. In receipt of this first-hand knowledge, I returned to the “Course,” and now it was a new book to me, with much of its meaning suddenly plain enough.
The “Course” purportedly is channeled information from the other side. The unlikely receiver of messages was a professor at a medical university. It seems that this was a totally new and unexpected experience for her.
The narrator within the "Course" claims to be Jesus. The lessons are presented in "mashal" style, the same teaching method employed in the New Testament parables; meaning, the pedagogy offered by the "Course" is designed, in the main, not to impart information but understanding.
The "Course" asserts that "this is a course in mind training" and does not seek to establish another religion of the Earth; that, "a universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary." This "universal experience" is accomplished by opening one's spirit to God who will teach us directly; until we follow this path, we remain in a form of spiritual insanity and darkness. As such, this "is a required course" for all human beings, destined to become godlike; "only the time you take it is voluntary." The essence of the sought-for right-mindedness is made possible by "removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence" within the hidden inner person. Not everyone will study this book, as such, but everyone, if they wish to be sane and escape the ego's suffering, will become student in this classroom.
Do I believe that the "Course" is a message from Jesus? Well, one can never be absolutely certain of such things, but I will say this: I count the teaching of the "Course," quite possibly, as the most profound, the deepest wisdom, I have ever encountered.
how this page is structured
Below you’ll find key terms and phrases of the “Course” supported by quotations from the text. Why might this be helpful? Many of the key words are found in common usage, every day language, and we think we know what they mean; however, the “Course” will often attach its own definition, and this will cause the uninitiated much confusion. As stated, the “Course” is written in “mashal” style. The surface, literal meaning is not primary. Most terms offered are highly symbolical. The entire “Course” is like a jigsaw puzzle with a more complete picture coming into view only after a good portion of the initial pieces have been fitted together.
The question might be asked, why are common terms offered with new definitions? For example, many traditional religious words are used, such as “atonement,” but do not mean what we’ve always known them to mean. The reason for this, I would say, is that the churches’ definition of “atonement” is quite detached from reality. The “Course” offers a new meaning, one rooted in how the universe really works. And so, it's not that the "Course" is so avant-garde in its use of words, but that these terms have been fraudulently or ill-advisedly employed for so long.
Direct quotations from the “Course” are offered in italicized red lettering, with Editor’s comments sprinkled throughout. This page is my own notebook on what I’m learning from the “Course,” and I will post items as I come to see them.
When you feel guilty, remember that the ego has indeed violated the laws of God, but you have not. Leave the “sins” of the ego to me. That is what the Atonement is for. But until you change your mind about those whom your ego as hurt [or those who have hurt you], the Atonement cannot release you.
Editor’s note: The term “atonement” prompts us to think of orthodoxy’s teaching of vicarious sacrifice, dying on a cross, washed clean in the blood, that sort of thing. However, as we learn in the instruction, the standard religious view is well disowned by Jesus: he says, "Do not make the pathetic error of 'clinging to the old rugged cross.'" “Atonement” here refers to our own efforts, supervised by Spirit Guides, to open our eyes, to reduce the influence of the ego. Notice the contextual implication: Jesus says “leave the ‘sins’ to me.” But then he qualifies this by adding, we can’t be released until we ourselves change our minds. It becomes apparent, as we proceed through the “Course,” that Jesus is the lead Spirit Guide, at the helm of a vast number of similar helpers, who aid younger brothers and sisters who are ready to spiritually wake up. This is the "Atonement." Special note: When he uses the term sin, as is the case with so many terms he uses, it’s not what we’ve always heard. Notice that he puts the word in quotes. There is no such thing as sin the way the churches talk about it.
I am the Atonement. You have a role in the Atonement...
When you have been restored to [your right mind, without ego], you naturally become part of the Atonement yourself [that is, we become part of a helping-team].
The purpose of the Atonement is to restore everything to you; or rather, to restore it to your awareness.
The escape [from fear and guilt] is brought about by your acceptance of the Atonement, which enables you to realize that your errors never really occurred [because your “true self” remains untouched by the ego].
The Atonement is the final lesson.
The Atonement is a total commitment.
The Atonement can only be accepted within you be releasing the inner light.
The acceptance of the Atonement by everyone is only a matter of time.
God's alternative to the illusion of separation, to the belief in the reality of sin, guilt, and death ... is the correction for all errors of perception; [it is] the reconcilation [via an awakening to the inner riches of the soul]
Only minds can really join, and whom God has joined no man can put asunder. It is, however, only at the level of Christ Mind that true union is possible, and has, in fact, never been lost.
Editor’s note: The term “Christ” is not a first name like “Jesus.” “Christ,” in the original biblical languages, means “agent” or “representative.” Jesus had the Christ Mind, but we, as his brothers and sisters, all of us, sons and daughters of God, are to share in the same. Notice the statement that “only minds can join.” This reminds me of one of my very favorite writings, a dialogue between Kairissi and Elenchus in “Prometheus” as they discuss the principle of “constructive assent.” The essence of contract law is not a signed piece of paper but a meeting of the minds that must subsume any contract if it is to be valid. This applies to love relationships, too, on all levels, from love for a friend, parents, siblings, others, with the highest expression that of the romantic interaction of eternal Twin Souls. All of these, if God has joined via the Christ Mind, can never be sundered.
The God extended Himself to his creations and imbued them with the same loving Will to create.
Because of your likeness to your Creator you are creative. No child of God can lose this ability because it is inherent in what he is, but he can use it inappropriately by projecting. [This miscreating] occurs when you believe that some emptiness or lack exists in you...
[Some of this miscreation happens when] you believe that you can create yourself, and that the direction of your own creation is up to you.
... the creation includes both the creation of the Son by God, and the Son's creations when his mind is healed.
Editor's note: See the important article on the "Ego" as defined by Eckhart Tolle.
The ego is that part of the mind that believes your existence is defined by separation.
The ego is the mind’s belief that it is completely on its own.
… the ego is [not] a separate thing, but … you want to believe that you are [separate]. The ego is a device for maintaining this belief...
I have spoken of the ego as if it were a separate thing, acting on its own. This was necessary to persuade you that you cannot dismiss it lightly, and must realize how much of your thinking is ego-directed.
The ego is nothing more than a part of your belief about yourself. Your other life [that is, the hidden “true self” of the soul] has continued without interruption, and has been and always will be totally unaffected by your [ego-led] attempts to dissociate it.
When you feel guilty, remember that the ego has indeed violated the laws of God, but you have not… While you feel guilty, the ego is in command, because only the ego can experience guilt. This need not be.
Editor's note: See the article on "Guilt" for discussion on how the churches use it as a weapon to control people.
Everyone makes an ego or a self... the ego is only an idea not a fact.
Belief is an ego function... When teaching is no longer necessary, you will merely know God [that is, those who know have no need of belief].
You who identify with your ego cannot believe that God loves you [because the very essence of the ego is 'separation' and 'otherness'].
[The ego's] communication is controlled by its need to protect itself, and it will disrupt communication when it experiences threat. Editor's note: How often we experience, when speaking to someone, a conversation that begins well, but then something is said that offends the other person, and we immediately feel their spirit withdrawing from us. It's the ego feeling under attack and threatened, and now pulling back for safety.
The ego tries to exploit all situations into forms of praise for itself... [The ego lives] by comparisons. Editor's note: The mind led purely by ego is always trying to find a way to make itself more, and others less, by various comparisons. All situations are exploited to offer the ego this boost or enhancement.
we are sailing stormy waters...
Rod Stewart’s presentation of “We Are Sailing” at the Royal Albert Hall is a knock-out performance. It’s one of my favorite music videos...
Everyone there, it was pretty obvious, was on fire, and the whole auditorium was doing “the wave.” However…
Some people believe that if we could all just hold hands and sing and chant and feel good and lift our spirits like this a whole lot more, we could change society and ourselves, and create harmony and well-being for everyone. But the “Course In Miracles” would not agree with this formula for world peace.
The song asks an implied question: How can we be free in an unfree world? moreover, how can we navigate the roiling and churning waters of this world’s chaos and make it home to the beloved?
The “little I” [the small ego] seeks to enhance itself by external approval, external possessions, and external “love” … We [the small ego in us, will] “love” another in order to get something ourselves. That, in fact, is what passes for love in the dream world [of perception].
The special [friendship and marital] relationships of the world [of perception] are destructive, selfish, and childishly egocentric … The world uses its special relationships as a final weapon of exclusion and demonstration of separateness.
Editor’s note: See “The Wedding Song” for more discussion on the egoic marriage.
There is no emptiness in you... You have not only been fully created , but you have also been created perfect.
... you believe that some emptiness or lack exists in you, and that you can fill it with your own [egoic] ideas instead of truth.
All fear is ... reducible to the basic misperception that you have the ability to usurp the power of God.
The escape [from fear] is brought about by your acceptance of the Atonement, which enables you to realize that your errors never really occurred.
If you are afraid, you are valuing wrongly... You believe in what you value... Everyone defends his treasure...
Forgiveness is the means by which we will remember [who we really are, our “true selves,” as opposed to the egoic “false self”].
The Holy Spirit is the highest communication medium. Miracles [more like flashes of insight] do not involve this type of communication, because they are temporary communication devices. When you return to your original form of communication with God by direct revelation, the need for miracles is over.
Editor’s note: As we’ve seen, the “Course” insists on using orthodoxy’s terminology, but then takes it all away by assigning a new definition. The “Holy Spirit” herein is not a person, not part of Big Religion’s “trinity,” but better rendered as the “Purified Consciousness” of each coming-alive person, throwing off the shackles of the ego, and now finding that communication with God seems a natural way to live. A contrast is made with the temporary insights of "miracles," as opposed to a more settled state of mind, a normal "open channel" to God, to be experienced once the ego is dismantled.
This Course is a beginning, not an end … No more specific lessons are assigned, for there is no more need of them. Henceforth, hear but the Voice for God … He will direct your efforts, telling you exactly what to do, how to direct your mind, and when to come to Him in silence, asking for his sure direction and His certain Word.
Editor’s note: As noted before, and elsewhere, the “still small voice” within, the voice of one’s own soul linked to God, is the authentic Word of God, not a printed page offering the thoughts of others.
God has provided the Answer, the only Way out [of the illusions of perception], [via] the true Helper. It is the function of His Voice, His Holy Spirit, to mediate between the two worlds [of perception and knowledge]… It is the Holy Spirit’s goal to help us escape from the dream world [of perception] by teaching us how to reverse our thinking and unlearn our mistakes.
[God’s] Voice seems to be distant and difficult to hear because the ego … seems to be much louder.
There is nothing about me that you cannot attain.
I have stressed that awe is not an appropriate reaction to me because of our inherent equality... you should not experience awe in the presence of your equals.
[I am] an elder brother.
I am [not] in any way separate of different from you except in time.
My devotion to my brothers has placed me in charge of the Sonship.
I am in charge of the process of Atonement… When you have been restored to the recognition of your original state [of oneness with God], you naturally become part of the Atonement yourself.
The power to work miracles belongs to you. I will provide the opportunities to do them, but you must be ready and willing… Those who are released [from the ego] must join in releasing their brothers for this is the plan of the Atonement… unite with me … for the release of all of God’s creations.
Ask me which miracles you should perform.
Knowledge is truth, under one law, the law of love or God. Truth is unalterable, eternal and unambiguous. It can be unrecognized, but it cannot be changed. It applies to everything that God created, and only what He created is real. It is beyond learning because it is beyond time and process. It has no opposite; no beginning and no end. It merely is.
Editor’s note: Ironically, the highest knowledge is “beyond learning,” a precept taught in a “Course” to be learned. However, the “Course” itself declares that its purpose is to lead us to the “internal teacher” which is the authentic path to knowledge and truth, not a printed page.
knowledge versus perception
From knowledge and perception respectively, two distinct thought systems arise which are opposite in every respect. In the realm of knowledge no thoughts exist apart from God, because God and His Creation share one Will. The world of perception, however, is made by the belief in opposites and separate wills, in perpetual conflict with each other and with God. What perceptions sees and hears appears to be real because it permits into awareness only what conforms to the wishes of the perceiver. This leads to a world of illusions, a world that needs constant defense because it is not real.
[The "Course" aims] at removing the blocks to the awareness of [true] love's presence [within the soul].
Miracles are natural. When they do not occur, something has gone wrong.
Miracles are thoughts.
Miracles are teaching devices.
Every day should be devoted to miracles.
Miracles make minds one in God.
Miracles arise from a mind that is ready for them.
Miracles reawaken the awareness that the spirit, not the body, is the altar of truth.
Miracles rearrange perception and place all levels in true perspective.
... the miracle aims at restoring the awareness of reality
... the miracle ... puts you in communion with your self and God
Miracles enable you to heal the [spiritually] sick and raise the [spiritually] dead.
Miracles are part of an interlocking chain of forgiveness which, when completed, is the Atonement.
Miracles are a way of earning release from fear.
Miracles ... dispel illusions about yourself and perceive the light in you... [will free] you from your nightmares [of fear, guilt, and scarcity].
By releasing your mind from the imprisonment of your illusions, they [miracles] restore sanity.
Miracles restore the mind to its fullness.
Miracles are examples of right thinking, aligning your perception with truth as God created it.
A miracle is a correction introduced into false thinking by me [Jesus]. It acts as a catalyst, breaking up erroneous perception and reorganizing it properly. This places you under the Atonement principle, where perception is healed.
The miracle acknowledges everyone as your brother [or sister] and mine.
[Miracles release] you from your false sense of isolation, deprivation, and lack.
The miracle ... is a device for perception correction.
Editor’s note: It becomes clear that the concept of “miracle” has nothing to do with its forerunners of old, the water into wine and even healing leprosy. All of those had their place at the time, but the highest expression of “miracle” is that which gets at the root-source of humankind’s misery, the ego-led insanity of every unenlightened person. As such, “miracles” are flashes of insight which begin to break up the ego’s stronghold, begin to help us escape from the egoic nightmare of separation and neediness. Jesus says in the “Course” that we, too, as ancillary helpers to the Guides, will perform miracles, in that, as we mature, we will be able to encourage the “sick” and the “dead” to rediscover their inner life in God.
The world of perception [as opposed to immutable and eternal knowledge and truth] is the world of time, of change, of beginnings and endings. It is based on interpretation, not on facts. It is the world of birth and death, founded on the belief of scarcity, loss, separation and death. It is learned rather than given [by revelation of God], selective in its perceptual emphases, unstable in its functioning, and inaccurate in its interpretations.
Perception sees through the body’s eyes and hears through the body’s ears. [The five senses are virtually constantly deceived, and therefore one’s perception is virtually constantly wrong.]
When you have been caught in the world of perception you are caught in a dream. You cannot escape without help, because everything your senses show merely witnesses to the reality of the dream…
The world we see merely reflects our own internal frame of reference – the dominant ideas, wishes, and emotions in our minds. “Projection makes perception.” We look inside first, decide the kind of world we want to see and then project that world outside, making it the truth as we see it.
Editor’s note: Philosophers speak of each person’s “reality tunnel.” We see what we want to see, or are programmed to see, and without the “eyes being opened,” we’ll always get it wrong.
“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” This is how “A Course In Miracles” begins. It makes a fundamental distinction between the real and the unreal … only what [God] created is real.
Revelation is intensely personal.
Revelation [is] the original form of communication between God and his creations.
Revelation unites you directly with God.
Editor’s note: While “miracles” are temporary flashes of insight that begin to break up the domain of ego, "revelation" speaks to our original state, a steady state, of communion with God. With this in view, Paul directed, “pray always.”
Our sense of inadequacy, weakness, and incompletion comes from the strong investment in the “scarcity principle” that governs the whole world of illusions. From that point of view, we seek in others what we feel is wanting in ourselves.
Editor’s note: In a great many articles on the Word Gems site we’ve spoken of the Small Ego’s illusions of neediness: “I don’t have enough” because “I am not enough.”
... the original error [is] that one can be separated from God
A sense of separation from God is the only lack you really need correct.
These related distortions [of miscreation] represent a picture of what ... occurred in the separation, or the "detour into fear." None of this existed before the separation, not does it actually exist now.
The [mythic] Garden of Eden, or the pre-separation condition, [represented] a state of mind in which nothing was needed.
Sin is defined as “lack of love.” Since love is all there is, sin in the sight of the Holy Spirit is a mistake [of perception] to be corrected, rather than an evil to be punished. Our sense of inadequacy, weakness, and incompletion comes from the strong investment in the “scarcity principle” that governs the whole world of illusions. From that point of view, we seek in others what we feel is wanting in ourselves. That, in fact, is what passes for love in the dream world. There can be no greater mistake than that, for love is incapable of asking for anything.
Editor’s note: See the essay on “Sin,” the traditional view, which has been used by the churches to control people with fear and guilt. Notice what the “Course” judges to be the basis for love in this world: we seek in others that which we feel to be lacking in ourselves. Most marriages are based on this neediness: “I need someone to make me happy and give me the good life.” See “The Wedding Song” for a full discussion of this “scarcity principle.”
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