Every now and again I experience the frustration of reading A Course in Miracles. It’s too long. It’s too abstract. It’s hard to believe. It should be simpler. And I want to scream: I can’t read ACIM! I don’t want to read it ever again!
And that is coming from someone who loves to read, loves to write and has actually studied reading and writing in considerable depth.
The truth is, it is a complex text. I think we can say that the ideas contained in it are simple (if hard to bring into application). We can absolutely say that it is a consistent text (though not perfectly – there are parts of the early sections that contradict later sections, a reflection on the how challenging the scribing process was in the early stages). All in all, it is a remarkable piece of writing.
But it is not an easy piece of writing. And if you are determined to realize the truth of it, and bring that truth into application in your life, then you are going to have to study the text – and the workbook and the manual for teachers. All of it. And as joyful and helpful as that can be, the truth is that at times it is also exasperating. At times it makes you want to rip your hair from your head.
So what do we do? How do we read A Course in Miracles?
I think one thing that we need to do is read carefully and slowly. I think we need to remember that we are not in a race. Enlightenment is not doled out to those who finish the text is seven days. One of the things that you learn from careful study is that any one sentence of the text – and any one section and any one chapter – has the capacity to awaken you. At every level it contains the spark of Truth that can inflame your mind into the light of Heaven.
When this happens – whether it lasts for hours or days or only for a moment – you realize that while a certain intellectual understanding of the course is helpful, it is not dispositive. The healing happens at a level that is far removed from the intellect.
And so we can begin to approach reading the course less as a dense book that we have to somehow tame with our brains and more as a space into which we enter on terms that are not really of our own choosing. The course reminds of this all the time – we think that healing is happening in time and that we are contributing to it but we are not.
You do not recognize that love has come, because you have not yet let go of all the barriers you hold against your brother (T-18.VIII.12:2).
When we cannot make heads or tails of the course, when it feels like reading a foreign language, when its ideas seems muddled and inconsistent and wildly unbelievable . . . love has come. It is here and it is waiting. We can no more get rid of it than a ripple on the sea’s surface can obliterate the ocean (T-18.VIII.4:1-2). Knowing this can enable us to slow down. If we have to put the reading away for a day or two, okay. Perhaps it is enough to read a handful of sentences today. Perhaps it is simply enough to sit quietly and seek and experience gratitude.
It is my experience that people get what they need from the course, as they are ready to receive it. There is some energy or power in it that is independent of our apparent capacity for reading or our intellectual grasp of what is read. Other forces are at work. And so when we are feeling alienated from A Course in Miracles, we must remember that love has already come. we must remember that the journey has ended, regardless of how we are feeling or what we are thinking.
The text and lessons will be there tomorrow. And the day after. The still, small voice is always speaking to you, always calling to you, always harmonizing with your own will. It is unrelated to a book, as you are, and there is no reason you should feel like a failure simply because you are encountering God outside the wordy parameters of A Course in Miracles.