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A Course In Miracles

A Course In Miracles
A COURSE IN MIRACLES was first published in June of 1976 and since then has managed to attract and captivate quite a following of avid students. The hefty tome (including the Text, the Workbook and the Manual For Teachers) is published by the Foundation For Inner Peace. It is not for the faint-hearted or for those seeking "weekend" enlightenment. It is a journey that will last the rest of your life.

Vital Spark staff recommend that all interested parties who are not familiar with the course first purchase and peruse Gary R. Renard's THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE UNIVERSE (Hay House). This is an utterly fascinating read and, if you resonate with its premise, it will automatically lead you to the volume mentioned above.


 

The Way of A Course in Miracles
by Michael Dawson

1. THE WAY OF A COURSE IN MIRACLES

The way of the Course is to progressively deliver us into the hands of the Holy Spirit. His guiding Voice will become the only Voice we listen to. At the journeys end all decision will cease and we will know peace at last. His Voice is always with us but through fear we blot it out. With His help we will remove those barriers to His presence. This is the way of forgiveness. As we hold His hand we look together, without judgement, at the contents of our mind. As suffering arises in our mind through contact with the world he gently asks us to look within instead. Here is the only cause of suffering that can ever be found. He reminds us that the world is only a mirror to what is in our mind. What is unforgiven in our mind is seen as something fearful in the world - something to be attacked and destroyed. Come back to the source of pain He calls for only here can it be undone. Release your blame of others, release your blame of yourselves and surrender your pain to me He gently reminds us.

And slowly we come to learn that there is no better way than His. So little He asks of us, so much He has to give. His light slowly dawns upon our minds, our faith begins to deepen, and we grasp His hand more tightly. His way works, ours does not. Forgetting the past and letting go the future we begin to become content with the moment. We understand that He can safely lead us home and we no longer desire any other journey.

The dream of separation starts to fade until at last God lifts us back to the awareness of our perfect oneness with Him and we are home at last.

2. HEALING - MIRACLE OR MAGIC?

When the ego tempts you to sickness do not ask the Holy Spirit to heal the body for this would merely be to accept the ego's belief that the body is the proper aim of healing. Ask rather that the Holy Spirit teach you the right perception of the body, for perception alone can be distorted. Only perception can be sick because only perception can be wrong. T146/157f

When our body is in pain or is not functioning properly, it is very tempting to focus our attention on the symptoms and seek a change at that level. This is an example of what the Course calls magic. Magic is an attempt to heal something at the wrong level. We might try pills, rituals, charms, crystals, Bach flowers, visualisation, surgery etc. The Course is not against us using magic to relieve our pain but tells us this is not healing. We seek to fix up something "out there" which appears to be the cause of the distress. "Out there" includes our body, other bodies (relationships) and situations in the world. Our magical belief is that something other than our thoughts is the cause of our pain and if we can change that sufficiently, we will be at peace. This is at the root of all our anger. We believe that attack will get us what we want. For example, you might have a difficult relationship with someone and find that you often develop a headache when you are with them. You might even get into the habit of carrying a pill with you to relieve your headache. Both the anger you use to try and change the person's behaviour, by attempting to make them guilty, and the pill you swallow are magical attempts by your ego to change something outside of your mind. Thus magic is an attempt to change on the level of effect as opposed to cause.

Cure is a word that cannot be applied to any remedy the world accepts as beneficial. What the world perceives as therapeutic is but what will make the body 'better.' ... He is not healed. He merely had a dream that he was sick, and in the dream he found a magic formula to make him well. Yet he has not awakened from the dream, and so his mind remains exactly as it was before. W263/270

The quotation at the beginning of this article stresses that the cause of all our pain - physical or psychological - is due to the way we perceive the world. What we see in the world is what we see in our mind - "projection makes perception" as the Course states it. We first look within before we look without. If we only perceive our fearful and attacking ego in our mind, this is all we can see in the world.

Trapped within our ego thoughts, we can only come up with ego solutions which will treat the symptoms but not the cause. Perhaps we will succeed for a while in changing our bodily condition or the way another relates to us. However, our success in tinkering with effects will be short lived and our problems will return in a similar or related form. Our ego will then suggest another solution and we are forced to start all over again.

To see the world differently and be at peace we must heal our perception. To do this, we need help from outside the ego system. It is a mistake to think we can heal ourselves without the help of Jesus or the Holy Spirit.

So do we lay aside our amulets, our charms and medicines, our chants and bits of magic in whatever form they take. We will be still and listen for the Voice of healing, Which will cure all ills as one, restoring saneness to the Son of God. No voice but This can cure. W264/271

As we begin to realise that our own magical efforts cannot bring us lasting peace, our prayers turn away from effects ("Please heal my body Jesus") to the cause ("Teach me how to forgive"). Realising that the cause of all our pain is in our mind and not the world, we start the process of taking our projections back off the world and begin to look with the help of the Holy Spirit at all that we have denied in our mind. We do not simply "give everything to the Holy Spirit" for first we must recognise and acknowledge the ego's thought system of attack hidden in our mind. The Course is not about affirming truth and love but discovering and ...."removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence. (intro, text)

As we begin to discover the extent of the anger and hate in our mind, the ego will counsel us to feel guilty for in this way, we will continue our allegiance to it. We can only feel guilty if we still believe that what we discover in the darkness is really us. At these times, Jesus asks us to turn to him for help. Only his light can dissolve our darkness. He is ever waiting to stretch out his hand to us if we but call to him for help. As we start to allow his light to fill our mind, we too can help him heal others through us. The presence of the Holy Spirit in our mind reminds us that we are still children of God. In the same way, our example of peace will remind others who we meet that they can choose to see differently.

The only meaningful contribution the healer can make is to present an example of one whose direction has been changed for him, and who no longer believes in nightmares of any kind. The light in his mind will therefore answer the questioner, who must decide with God that there is light because he sees it. T160/172

This is not to say we do not continue to use magic for ourselves and others, for few have reached the stage where they can immediately change from wrong perception to right perception on every occasion. It is not a sin to have a toothache and a visit to the dentist would be a wise decision. However, our goal needs to be the healing of our mind and to do this, we must acknowledge the darkness - albeit illusory - of our ego mind and sincerely ask for the light of the Holy Spirit to shine it away. As we learn to hold the hand of Jesus more and the hand of the ego less we will be encouraged by the joyful results to trust him more and more.

3. OBSTACLES TO TRUTH

The Course tells us that the truth cannot be taught, but will be revealed to us if we do our part of forgiveness. To forgive is to look past our perceptual errors and thus not judge ourselves or others. Truth was given to us in its entirety at our creation, it was not learned. Thus we cannot learn truth as this implies time, and our creation was outside of time. Our task is to accept truth back into our awareness again. As we meet the necessary conditions required truth will automatically start to dawn upon our minds all by itself.

All that is asked of you is to make room for truth. You are not asked to make or do what lies beyond your understanding. All you are asked to do is let it in ; only to stop your interference with what will happen of itself; simply to recognize again the presence of what you thought you gave away. T419/449

We are afraid of truth as it will dissolve our sense of separation by revealing the oneness of God's creation. When truth comes the ego is extinguished. Truth is of the mind and not the body. It resides with the Holy Spirit in our split mind. To avoid this threat to its existence the ego always counsels us to stay well away from the mind and focus on the physical world. Spirit cannot make connection with matter and thus the ego is safe.

"Sickness is a defense against the truth" (Lesson 136) the Workbook tells us. As truth begins to dawn upon our mind the ego counsels us that we are in great danger. He tells us that truth will reveal the depths of our sin against god and lead us back to his just punishment of us. To avoid this very fearful situation the ego may counsel us to get sick so we can divert our attention from the mind, where truth can be found, to the body. Now we are safe from god, back in the hiding place of matter.

The ego is always wrong. As we learn to hold the hand of Jesus and look without judgement and blame at the content of our mind we begin to learn that joy and not damnation await us. As we dismantle the barriers we have built to the presence of truth it will automatically flow into our mind with no help from ourselves.

Long ago we decided to block the awareness of truth so we could play our game of separation. Tiring of this painful game we begin at last to lift the barriers to its presence and find that its still there, unchanged, perfect and joyfully waiting to embrace us again.

4. WHO AM I?

When we close our eyes and meditate we are immediately confronted with the thoughts of our ego mind. They declare themselves important and ask for our attention. A procession of desires and fears appear before our awareness and there is a strong attraction to identify with them. Its easy to become the desires and fears and get lost in them. These thoughts seem important, the contents of our consciousness - the very fabric of our life. What does the Course say of these thoughts we seem to cherish so much?

These thoughts do not mean anything...None of them ("good" and "bad" thoughts) represents your real thoughts, which are covered up by them. The "good" ones are but shadows of what lies beyond, and shadows make sight difficult. The "bad" ones are blocks to sight, and make seeing impossible. You do not want either.Lesson 4

Its easy to forget the ego mind is just another sense organ having thoughts as its object and identify with its contents. When we smell a rose we don't say we are that smell. The sound of a bird does not make us believe we are one. But the thoughts about ourselves we do believe. We say "I am a body", "I am old", "I am alive", "I am a parent" and hardly stop to question these "I am" thoughts. The Course reminds us that the thoughts we think we think are not real and obscure the real thoughts we think with God. Our real thoughts are located in our right mind, the mind of the Holy Spirit. These are the thoughts of love,peace,joy etc. Ego thoughts are based around the concept of a separate "I" which thinks good and bad thoughts. However, the Course informs us that both good and bad thoughts obscure spiritual vision. These incessant thoughts of our ego mind are a very effective block to the awareness of the Holy Spirit in our right mind, which requires us to be quiet to hear Him.

We are not who we think we are. Our constant belief in a separate "I" with all its special attributes is the source of all our pain. To escape this pain we pursue pleasure which only leads to further pain. Until we start to question and investigate who we really are we are trapped in the vicious circle of avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure. The ego thoughts of "I am this or that" keep us routed in our false sense of individuality. All our thinking is based on the past (see lesson 7 in the Workbook) and our sense of self depends on nothing else. We are literally a collection of memories, habits, patterns and conditionings. Without the illusion of time our personalities would dissolve. Memory keeps the illusion of personal identity alive. Whilst our mind is preoccupied with the past, or its projection into the future the Course tells us that our mind is actually blank!

My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts....The one wholly true thought one can hold about the past is that it is not here. To think about it at all is therefore to think about illusions. Very few have realised what is actually entailed in picturing the past or in anticipating the future. The mind is actually blank when it does this, because it is not really thinking about anything. Lesson 8

Nothing is actually happening although it does not seem that way to us. The ego mind has made up the thought of "I" but it is just another thought amongst its collection of mind objects. In Heaven there are no "Is". Our self concepts cannot exist "there" and this is what frightens us. The ultimate goal of the Course is to show us we are not bodies, parents, children, teachers, students etc. but the formless, limitless, eternal, perfect thought of God. Preferring to be "right than happy" we cling to the concept of a separate self, or "I", which identifies with the body as its home. In the Workbook we are encouraged in many places to try and go beyond, or beneath, these obscuring ego thoughts of "I am this or that" to the thoughts we think with God. To touch these thoughts is to open up to a new world utterly unlike the one we are familiar with. We will discover there a love and wisdom that will guide us on our journey to the real world. When this is reached our only identification will be "I am the Holy Son of God Himself" (Lesson 191) for every other identification will now be meaningless.

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me
. Lesson 191

E. WHAT IS OUR TASK?

To give love or remove the blocks to its presence?

It is an easy and popular thing to say we must love those around us. That the solution to the problems of the world is to love more and therefore we should make more effort to love. Can we make an effort to love? Is love to be forced out or does it simply shine on its own with no effort? If we were created in the image of God, who is all love, why are we not radiating it all the time? We must have a good reason not to._A Course In Miracles states that the presence of love in our mind will shine away our ego, our sense of separation, which we dearly love to maintain. Love is deadly to our egos and must be guarded against at all costs.

We can pretend to love but this will always be dualistic. We will choose a particular object or person to "love" and exclude all others. A Course In Miracles refers to this as special love and this is simply a mask for special hate for we must always hate what we depend on. Our ego teaches us to use others as substitutes for our true relationship with God. If love is exclusive it is not love and as the Course teaches, what is not love is hate. This does not mean we abandon relationships for they can be made to serve the important function of mirrors to our denied ego's thought system. We can start to learn that what annoys us in others is always in ourselves.

If we are not loving its because we choose to be that way. Special love seems preferable to unconditional love which has no object. To encourage others to give out love will only increase their level of guilt for they must consistently fail. Rather we should honestly look at how much we judge, compare, criticise and hate others for here we will find the blocks to love.

Be not afraid to look upon the special hate relationship, for freedom lies in looking at it. It would be impossible not to know the meaning of love, except for this. T313/337

While we cover this awareness with false ideas of love we can never discover the blocks we have erected to loves presence. Until we learn to look without judgement at the full extent of the ego's murderous thought system we will fool ourselves that we can offer love to others. This is not an easy task. Here effort, vigilance and a sense of humour are needed. To see how we really think, to view the extent of our guilt and hatred is painful and embarrassing. We need to invite the non-judgmental presence of the Holy Spirit or Jesus to be with us as we uncover the many layers of the ego.

Jesus encourages us to smile at our egos, and not take them seriously. This is not to foster denial of the ego, for denial is a major defense mechanism of the ego. We need to learn not to feel guilty that we do not love, otherwise we will try and compensate by false displays of love. Instead we can try to be aware in our day to day life how many times we want to attack others and gradually learn to smile at these thoughts. Kenneth Wapnick has often made this point stating that we need to see these ego thoughts as "no big deal". In this way we can slowly undo the grip of the ego's thought system of attack and listen more to the Voice of love in our mind. As the sun's rays must be experienced when the clouds have gone so will we, without effort, extend the love of God into this world when we have learnt to forgive ourselves.

The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence, which is your natural inheritance. Intro, Text. A Course In Miracles

6. DOES IT TAKE TIME TO DO A COURSE IN MIRACLES

Salvation is no more than a reminder this world is not your home. Its laws are not imposed on you, its values are not yours. And nothing that you think you see in it is really there at all. This is seen and understood as each one takes his part in its undoing, as he did in making it. He has the means for either, as he always did.
T-25.VI.6.

Undoing the world is a process, whereby we let go our attachments and fears in connection with the ego's world. Instead we start to see the world as a classroom where our teacher is the Holy Spirit or Jesus, where the activities of our day are lessons in which we can learn to change our perception and forgive. Process implies time, a journey we take. The Course tells us that we are still at home and thus our journey is without distance. On hearing words like this we can be tempted to believe we can jump in one go and realise immediately that we are the Christ. This has lead some Course students to think that we only have to say "I am the Christ" and they will instantly arrive at enlightenment. In theory that is possible and one day we will all make that step. However, this realisation comes at the end of the spiritual path and comes at the "cost" of our individuality, uniqueness, specialness and self image. Are we ready to say "I am not a woman/ man/ body/ parent/ child etc?" Unless we are ready to release our illusion of separation our fear will always block this realisation.

It is pointless to ask the Holy Spirit for enlightenment now when he knows we could not survive the shock. The Holy Spirit would never give us anything that would increase our fear. Jesus is well aware of this when he says, "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." T-16.VI.8.

It takes a time to go back home to God; a process is needed. However, we can make it as slow or fast as we choose. If we use the sun as an analogy for the the ever-present Christ in our mind, then obscuring clouds are like the ego thoughts - both good and bad - that block the awareness of our spiritual reality. Our task, with the help of the Holy Spirit, is to remove the clouds. To look, with acceptance, within our mind at all our murderous ego thoughts is a difficult and unpleasant task. Denial and projection seem's a more comfortable alternative to the vigilance the Course asks for. If we could easily choose enlightenment Jesus would not have given us a workbook of mind training that takes at least a year to complete.

We do not have to work at creating love, joy or truth because that is how we were created. That which is given to us by our Creator was not given in time and therefore cannot be learned. Learning implies time. God does not know of time - that is one of our miscreations so we could experience separation. Most of us are very invested in this space-time illusion and although we are beginning to tire of it, (otherwise we would not be interested in a spiritual path), it can be easy to mistake our readiness for enlightenment. Not wanting to put in the hard work involved we can be tempted, with the help of peer group pressure, to imagine we have made the jump and put on a false display of spiritual achievement. A permanent "plastic smile" can be one of the unfortunate outcomes of this illusion.

Nisargadatta Maharaj, an eastern teacher of non-duality, likened the process of growth and enlightenment to that of a fruit growing on a tree. It takes time for the fruit to ripen and when it is ready it suddenly drops to the ground, never to return. The fall of the fruit would be analogous to us being ready to let go of the ego and enter the real world. If a fruit is nearly ripe a sudden wind could dislodge it. Similarly, if a person was close to awaking from the dream of separation, an encounter with an advanced teacher of God may precipitate a sudden shift into the real world.

The Course has over a 100 references to the word step and uses the analogy of the ladder to indicate gradual progress. To climb the ladder back home does require work, effort and time even though the final state will be one without effort where we will be guided what to say, where to go and what to do. There will be no one left to make decisions, no doer of actions and our life will be one of spontaneous activity guided by an internal wisdom. To help us awaken to that state we need to put our foot on the the first rungs of the ladder back home, remembering to smile gently each time we fall off.

(Copyright) Michael Dawson

Portions from A Course in Miracles®1975, reprinted by permission of the
Foundation For A Course In Miracles® 41397 Buecking Drive, Temecula, California 92590-5668, USA

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