I have been a student of A Course In Miracles for many years. For those of you who don’t know, the Course is a psychological mind training in which a thought system of fear (the ego mindset) is replaced with a thought system of love (ultimate truth). The Course is not a religion, there is no doctrine or dogma. It presents universal spiritual themes that are found at the heart of all the great religious and spiritual traditions. The book contains three volumes. The first volume is the text, which covers the intellectual material and provides a theoretical foundation and framework of the Course. The second volume is the workbook, which is 365 lessons, one for each day of the year. The workbook is the crux of the Course and its purpose is to train your mind in a systematic way to a different perception of everyone and everything in the world. The third volume is the manual for teachers which answers some questions about the concepts covered in the Course.
The introduction of the Course starts somewhat audaciously with these words:
“This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time. 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. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite. This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:”
“Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.”
I remember years ago being somewhat awestruck by this statement of it being a “required course”. Over the years of reading and studying the material, I grew to have a deeper understanding of the truth being offered by these words.
The ability and capacity to move from fear to love is inexplicably connected to how we interpret the circumstances and daily challenges of our lives. On the three-dimensional human level of existence, it looks like we live in a chaotic, fearful world. The times we are living in are particularly difficult in a multitude of ways. By simply turning on the evening news we will find an endless array of topics to cause us worry, anxiety and distress. But the Course presents us with the understanding that this is not the ultimate truth.
It makes a fundamental distinction between the real and the unreal; between knowledge and perception. The world of perception is based on interpretation, not in facts. It is the world of birth and death, founded on belief in scarcity, loss and separation. When we find ourselves caught up in the world of perception we are essentially caught in a dream. The first step out of this mindset is to realize that our true Self is forever complete, safe, loved and loving.
By opening our minds to this alternate way of viewing the world we lay the foundation for a reinterpretation of all the events we encounter on a daily basis. For instance, I may feel wounded by the actions of another person, but I now have a framework in which I can view and process the situation from a new level of awareness. The wounded ego of my personality is just one level of the experience I am having. The ultimate truth is that the discomfort, hurt and sadness I experience are the tools through which I can cultivate deeper compassion, unity and forgiveness.
The gateway opens up for every interaction to be ripe with the opportunity for expansion, connection and a loving exchange. In my life this has been a process of two steps forward and one step back. It is the work of a lifetime to see and live with love, but it makes the journey of life so much sweeter.