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What is A Course In Miracles?
The Peace of God
Note added 01/12/2015
Today I had one of those experiences the course teaches us to expect. I understood the teaching on a deeper level. Instead of waiting for the course to improve my life, I'm learning to accept the idea that my reality is not in the world at all. Reality is a choice and as long as we choose to believe in this world, we will remain focused on our everyday problems.
The course teaches how to choose our true reality in heaven even as it appears we are living here in a body. Rather than try to deny we appear to be in a body, we "forgive" the things we think we are seeing and learn spiritual sight. This is the basis of the mysterious teaching of Jesus that the kingdom of heaven is within.
Today I simply felt the power to choose on a deeper level. Instead of waiting for my life to improve, I am starting to accept that I am not in the world at all, and nothing that happens here is of any consequence to my real life. While that sounds as if I am giving up my life here, I am being taught that I am giving up nothing in exchange for heaven.
The text of A Course in Miracles states this beautifully:
"On this one choice does all your world depend, for here have you established what you are, as flesh or spirit in your own belief. If you choose flesh, you never will escape the body as your own reality, for you have chosen that you want it so, But choose the spirit, and all Heaven bends to touch your eyes and bless your holy sight, that you may see the world of flesh no more except to heal and to comfort and to bless.
The following article is a summary of the course by a novice student with a very rudimentary understanding of the teaching, I highly recommend the book, "The Disappearance of the Universe" to anyone interested in a comprehensive introduction to the study of the course.
The following words form the basis of the teachings of A Course In Miracles:
Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.
I remember reading those words for the first time. I remember thinking how nice that must be for God. The words imply that God is real and therefore cannot be threatened and therefore exists in perfect peace. After studying the course for over ten years now, I understand the teaching that we are no different than God in this respect. Since God is the Source of our being, we are extensions of God. Our true being is in God. We can no more be threatened than God and we can share the same peace.
The first question you might ask is, how can this be when clearly we can be threatened and it happens every day in one way or another. The answer is in the second line which states that nothing unreal exists. The part of us that can be threatened is not real. The body and the personality and the ego which make up our life here can be threatened and even disappear. They are not real. That is one of the simple truths taught in the course.
Forgiveness is another central teaching. It is the method we are taught to use to reach the goal of the course, to return to our true home in God. It is a different form of forgiveness that says we forgive because the things we think we are seeing are not real.
What we think we are seeing is not real? I'm not a scientist, but theories of quantum physics seem to be supporting the idea that the universe is an illusion.
Consider this explanation of vacuum energy from Wikipedia: "Vacuum energy is an underlying background energy that exists in space throughout the entire Universe. One contribution to the vacuum energy may be from virtual particles which are thought to be particle pairs that blink into existence and then annihilate in a time span too short to observe. They are expected to do this everywhere, throughout the Universe."
Unlike other spiritual teachings, the course is directed at our thinking and not at our behavior. The idea is that when we learn to think correctly, right behavior will follow naturally. So, do not expect to be given rules for behavior. They are not in the course. Instead, it guides your thinking.
The other thing I love about the course is that it does not ask you to wait for some future moment to be enlightened. It does not ask you to wait until you die to learn of the rewards for believing in God. The course teaches that if we follow the teachings, we will know truth now. We will experience a new awareness. We will see that the world we grew up in is not real and we willl know another world here and now.
As a student of the course, I have not experienced this new awareness. I have been studying the text, but I have not done the workbook. The course clearly states that the workbook must be completed before a true understanding can be reached. The workbook consists of 365 lessons which are to be studied at the rate of one a day for a year.
What I want to stress here is that although I have not done the workbook, and have not achieved enlightenment, it does not mean I have not experienced significant benefits from the course. I seldom get angry. I seldom judge the people in my life, or anyone for that matter. I have noticed how much time we spend judging the behavior of others and I am beginning to understand how that hurts us and blinds us to out true nature. "Judge not" is not so much a commandment as it is a path that leads to enlightenment.
My whole life I have wondered about the purpose of the world and the meaning of life. Traditional religion left me unmoved. I could never accept the idea that we were made so God could see if we would obey Him. I always wondered why an Almighty Being would need that kind of distraction.The course teaches that we were not created separately from God. We have our being in God and we just don't see it. The course teaches that atonement is the acceptance of the idea that the separation from God never happened. There is no world. there are no individuals. These are illusions.
The next obvious question is what caused the illusions? Why do we think we exist in a world that seems so real? The answer to those questions is difficult. I will do my best to explain the teachings of the course, admitting that I am no more than a struggling student. I am not a teacher or an expert.
The illusion of a world inhabited by bodies comes from one idea - the idea that we can be separate from God. That idea came in an instant and was over in an instant. We think it is still happening because we experienced fear and guilt when the idea of separation entered our shared awareness. The guilt over the idea we could be separate from God lasted long after the idea passed and remains with us in the form of a dream. A dream we are in conflict with God - a dream that we live in a world at conflict with God. In reality, the world we think we see is no more real than the world we see in dreams. When we wake up, when we are enlightened, we will see that we never left our home in God.
In order to see the real world we need to end our judgments, undo the guilt we feel consciously or unconsciously about who we are. We need to banish any fear about who we are and enter a state where we can experience our oneness with our source.
What Does it All Lead?
ACIM leads us home. What we think of as death has no meaning and is our own dream. It is not shared by God because it is not real. There is no judgment of our behavior here because it is not happening in reality. God waits for us to wake up in Him the same way we wait for a child to wake up. God is as unaware of our dream of a world as we are unaware of the dream one of our children might have. God is Love that never wavers or changes. It is the idea that we are alone and on our own that is going to change for all of us.
No one will ever be condemned. We are all on our way to salvation, not by believing a certain teaching, but by remembering our true home. All the events that appear to be happening - the good and the bad - are equally unreal. The merry-go-round will stop when we all awaken from this dream and recognize the oneness of God.
I hope I have given a fair introduction to the teachings of A Course in Miracles. It seems as if we are being taught that we are giving up a world we hold dear in exchange for the unknown. The best answer I have heard to that objection is that we are giving up a world filled with disappointments and pain. We are giving up belief in this world in exchange for a world of oneness that has been compared to an orgasm that never ends. Sin is called a fixed belief that our mistaken perceptions cannot be changed. The miracle is an new awareness - an awareness that we are more than we ever dreamed.
The Book That Led me to ACIM
I want to suggest a book to anyone who is interested in beginning a study of ACIM. The book is called The Disappearance of the Universe by Gary Renard. This book introduces the course in a way that has attracted many new students and made the course understandable to many more.