Living with A Course in Miracles

A Course in Miracles – while pointing to a state of pure nonduality it calls Heaven (or knowledge) – is really geared towards helping us navigate the dream (nightmare, really) that obscures that Heaven.

When I say that the course meets us where we are, I mean literally that it will help us figure out how to live right here in the world. Struggling to be patient with someone who’s rude? Try A Course in Miracles. Need help balancing materialism and service? Give A Course in Miracles a try. Stressed out because you keep hitting snooze instead of waking up to exercise?

Yep. A Course in Miracles will help you.

It does this in two ways. First, every experience that we have reflects an internal choice we have made: we have chosen the ego or the Holy Spirit.

Another way to think of it – a deeper way, perhaps – is that in all the circumstances that compose our lives we are witnessing the results of choosing either fear or Love.

And – deeper yet – we are always choosing between God and not-God and experiencing the effects of that choice.

At the deepest levels, those choices are illusory because there is only God. But in the world, we are all well aware of choice – it is the salient characteristic of separation. There’s this and there’s that and we judge both and make our decision for one or the other accordingly.

Thus, one way that we can practically apply the course is to see in each situation before us the inherent learning opportunity.

These are the lessons God would have you learn . . . Each lesson has a central thought, the same in all of them. The form is changed, with different circumstances and events; with different characters and themes, apparent but not real. They are the same in fundamental content. It is this: Forgive, and you will see this differently (W-pI.193.3:1, 3-7).

We are not facing an irritable student, a difficult spouse, an ungrateful child, the death of a beloved pet, war, poverty or delicious ice cream sundaes: we are seeing the projected results of choosing a particular teacher. And in all things we can simply opt for a better teacher.

That is the second way A Course in Miracles is deeply practical: it doesn’t just render our lives in the world a veritable classroom, it also gives us the perfect teacher for that classroom.

The Holy Spirit is the perfect teacher. He uses only what your mind already understands to teach you that you do not understand it (T-5.III.10:1-2).

The metaphor of classroom and teacher is a good one because it provides some guidance on how to actually apply these course-related ideas. I have spent most of my life in classrooms – learning and teaching, both. Most of us remember how they work: imagine that you really want to learn, and you really like and trust the teacher. What do you do?

You listen carefully.

You study what you are asked to study.

You do the homework that is assigned.

When you are unsure, you ask questions.

When you are scared you’re losing it, you say so.

And you don’t quit. Even if there are days when you walk out in anger, you come back.

That is the most important thing, really: you never quit. I say that as an ACIM student who has more than once – literally – pounded the floor in tears saying, I don’t get it. I hate it. I’m not going to do it anymore. It shouldn’t be this hard.

That doesn’t freak Jesus out. The Holy Spirit doesn’t leave and look for someone more willing or less inclined to drama.

They just wait. They are there when we’re ready to return, ready to try again.

And you know what? They totally get off on honesty. Sometimes the best thing you can do is say – in a very heartfelt way – f*ck A Course in Miracles.

That is what is going on! At some point in your life (or another life maybe) you said, yes. God called and you said, okay – I’m listening. And now you are here. Now you are a student of A Course in Miracles. Now your whole confusing miserable chaotic death-ridden life is being used to restore you to the Grace you never really left.

Why not flow with it?

The ego made the world as it perceives it, but the Holy Spirit, the reinterpreter of what the ego made, sees the world as a teaching device for bringing you home . . . be open to learning . . . Look as the Holy Spirit looks, and understand as He understands (T-5.III.11:1, 4, 6).

It doesn’t matter what happens so long as we are open to learning with the Holy Spirit. You could make a million dollars today and lose it tomorrow and your inner peace wouldn’t change a bit. Death can’t touch you. Sacrifice and guilt can’t touch you.

And remember, too: unlike the world’s classrooms, where the teachers are out there somewhere, the Holy Spirit is intimately part of you.

He is in communion with God always, and He is part of you. He is your Guide to salvation, because He holds the remembrance of things past and to come, and brings them to the present. He holds this gladness gently in your mind, asking only that you increase it in His Name by sharing it to increase his joy in you (T-5.III.11:8-10).

Everything we need to end our separation from God is right here: all the evidence is before you: and the teacher who will show you how to use it is within you. Ask and be answered. Knock and watch the door swing wide.

You will not fail in your mission because I did not fail in mine. Give me but a little trust in the name of the complete trust I have in you, and we will easily accomplish the goal of perfection together (T-12.II.8:4-5).

Jesus waits: are we ready at last to go to Him?

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Aleta September 5, 2013, 6:19 pm

    I found the Course in 2007. It had been trying to get my attention for many years before that, and there was one time I remember picking it up in a book store, flipping through it, then putting it down, saying that I didn’t want another Bible. Then in 2007 I found myself seriously searching for the Truth. I began to read and absorb book after book on spirituality, and one night in particular, after reading “History of Mysticism” by Swami Abhayananda, I sat there with tears and said, “I want to go Home.” I wasn’t sure how I’d get there; I knew I would find the way. Shortly after that, maybe within a month, I read Gary Renard’s “Disappearance of the Universe,” and realized that the Course was my path.
    I know the Course is my path; yet there are times when I am nostalgic for the days (as a youngster) when I could just say that Jesus died for my sins and I accept Him and I’ll go to heaven as a consequence. My family still believes that; why can’t I just go with the flow and forget this Course nonsense? I can do and think anything between now and when I die, but I’m going to heaven and that’s all I need to think about! Case closed; get on with life. It would seem SO much easier than this Course stuff!
    But that kind of spirituality doesn’t satisfy anymore. A lady sitting next to me in a Gary Renard talk once said, “After the Course, where do you go from there?” In other words, you know you are where you need to be and there’s nowhere else you need to go! But oh, some days it just seems so hard!
    Yet, we carry on, knowing that our goal is certain and that our Guide knows the way!
    Thanks, Sean, for another inspirational post!

    • Sean Reagan September 5, 2013, 6:33 pm

      “I wasn’t sure how I’d get there; I knew I would find the way.”

      I love that sentence, Aleta. Confusion, Faith & Willingness in a handful of words. Beautiful . . .

      Yes, I think on that a lot: that moment when we realize that the path is our path and there is nothing to be gained by trying others or going back to old ones or being half-hearted about this one. That in itself is hard for me: I like playing around with all my options. But in the end, that’s just another avoidance technique.

      And the course IS hard! I think sometimes people get confused about that – it’s not all sweetness and light. In fact, it’s more often NOT those things. It’s hard work. Even scary sometimes. But what else are we doing to do?

      Thanks again!

  • JayCee September 5, 2013, 8:48 pm

    The course is like a rollar coaster, with a little carousel thrown in to say Stop the world I want to get off!!! I have been riding for a very long time and it is just as you described, Sean. Yet it is my path and the Peace that passeth all understanding is growing. The comforter is Lesson 131 No one can fail who seeks to reach the truth. Holy Spirit does not give Pass/Fail grades, just PASS. We keep on keeping on….it is the only Way Home….

    • Sean Reagan September 5, 2013, 9:07 pm

      You know that “keep on keeping on” is from Bob Dylan’s Tangled Up in Blue, right? Such a great song . . .

      Yes – the end is sure – and our Guide is true – only delay is possible, not failure . . . And yes, that peace does grow, a little more every day . . . Thanks JayCee

  • Eric September 5, 2013, 9:34 pm

    LOL, ah living with the course. It’s funny, because I didn’t want to read this stupid book in the first place. I heard about it. People quoted it and I wanted nothing to do with it. I imagined someone on a glossy cover with a pearly white smile a cover saying, “A Course in Miracles: Achieve whatever your heart desires”. I had consciously made up my mind that would not read this book.

    And then one day I walk into the neighborhood bookstore to see this big blue softcover book shrink wrapped right on the front table. I was intrigued. Against my “better” judgment I felt compelled to buy it, so I did.

    I took it home, excited with anticipation and read the preface. “Scribed?!! Channeled?!!” I remember being so ticked off. I was duped!! What a bunch of BS! What a waste of money!! I knew I should have listened to that voice saying don’t read ACIM!!

    Only after calming down, did I begin to try and read some of it. After all, I had wasted 30 bucks on this junk!!

    As I read though, I began to feel that I was reading something important. I couldn’t read that much of it at any one time, because my mind was swimming. I didn’t fully grasp it, but I somehow knew it on another level. I was sucked in reading it. And as I continued to re-read it, I found just how profound and comprehensive the course really was.

    Yet, boy there are still times when I want to say f@ck the course!! It’s BS. I’m even a big skeptic of channeled material, what the heck am I doing reading this then? And why do I have 3 different version of the course? And why is it on my iPod if I’m such a skeptic?

    I’ve even chucked the book a couple of times. When I confessed this on an ACIM site, I was surprised to hear someone tell me the joke that if you haven’t thrown the book across the room, then you ain’t doing the course!

    And yet, the thing about the course, is there is no going back. I could take all my copies of the course and throw them away. I could erase it off of my iPod. I could throw all the ACIM paraphernalia away, and I still could not go back to the way things were before the course came into my life.

    And for the most part I like that, but there are times when I don’t go with the flow. I think these are the times when application of the course is essential. Well, it’s always essential, but I find sometimes in my more trying times, instead of applying the course, I look for my own solutions, which often times causes frustration and I want to say, “To hell with all this spiritual nonsense!”, but the irony is, the frustration arose, because I already said to hell with all this spiritual “nonsense” by trying to find my own solutions.

    But there have been many miracles come into my life. No, not like the glossy cover I imagined ACIM to be, but miracles that mean more on a much deeper level. A change of mind and a change of heart, however slight it may be, it is still noticeable for me.

    Eric

    • Sean Reagan September 6, 2013, 11:54 am

      Yeah – I think that’s true. If you don’t hate the course at some point – and Jesus and the Holy Spirit – then you’re not doing the course! It is really challenging work! But then if it is the path for us, the way, it keeps pulling us back.

      I was thinking a lot this morning about this observation:

      I find sometimes in my more trying times, instead of applying the course, I look for my own solutions, which often times causes frustration and I want to say, “To hell with all this spiritual nonsense!”, but the irony is, the frustration arose, because I already said to hell with all this spiritual “nonsense” by trying to find my own solutions

      I think that is really insightful. Sometimes I hide “my solutions” in a cloud of spirituality and when they don’t work I get angry at the spiritual path or whatever. Yet I had already forsaken it by leaning on my own solutions. It speaks to how subtle egoic thinking can be and how vigilant we have to be.

      Thanks, Eric.

  • Bet Carbery September 6, 2013, 7:12 am

    Over 7 years I’ve said fu@k the course numerous times and it’s been a relief to jack it in. Then, in spite of myself, I’ve resumed studying/reading it. Surely I’m not taking it up again. Then the pattern repeats again and again. It’s been really tough for me. I always thought it was just me so it’s heartening to hear others go through the same rigour. In fact, it’s normal. This time I have a feeling I may stick at it.
    Thanks for post
    Bet

    • Sean Reagan September 6, 2013, 11:46 am

      You’re welcome, Bet. It’s funny reading emails & comments in response to this post – seems like a lot of us have that “f*ck the course” moment! I think it’s great. Honesty is a big part of this process. And in my experience – sounds like yours, too – Jesus and the Holy Spirit (our healed mind) really just rolls with our drama and negativity. Here we go again being crazy . . . and yet somehow we get a little less crazy as time passes. One of these days we may actually wake up sane!

      Thanks for being here, Bet.

      Sean

  • JayCee September 6, 2013, 9:46 am

    I did not know that “keep on keeping on” was from Dylan. Thanks, Sean.
    J

    • Sean Reagan September 6, 2013, 11:44 am

      🙂 I can be a little obsessive on the subject of Dylan songs (and Emily Dickinson poems) . . .

  • Franco September 6, 2013, 10:38 am

    Thanks for this Sean. As a young boy (many years ago) I felt I had a special closeness with God. Raised Catholic that closeness began to fade and God became scary and distant. I remember being angry with the church and angrier still at myself for not being what the church wanted me to be. Faced with the dilemma of being a gay kid in a straight world it was devastating.

    Still I would not give up. Something inside told me to keep pushing on and so I did. I read, I traveled, I spoke with many people about their beliefs and slowly inside I began to understand. I can only describe it as a light that is far off in the distance. As we get closer that light begins to increase and we start to feel as though we are finding our way back home.

    After my mother died in 08 I could not longer stay in NY. I had worked 30 years in law enforcement and was ready to retire. I moved south, to Naples, FL. I know that I was still on my quest to “understand” particularly in the light or should I say darkness of my Mom’s passing.

    Some how I got an audio file of ACIM. I would listen to it intently as I worked on my three acres of property each day. I understood nothing. Here I thought I was “getting it” only to find I was not. I asked quietly for help.

    Soon after that I began working as a volunteer at Hospice. I attended a luncheon one day and sat next to a lovely lady. The folks that ran that meeting asked that I move to a different seat with some of the Hospice Instructors. After the luncheon I felt a pull to go back and sit at the table with the lady I was originally sitting with. After joining that table for a few minutes she began talking with me and in the conversation suggested that if I did not know a lot of people in my new city I should try attending a church known as “Unity”.

    That Sunday I did attend. As I sat in the back row I was overcome with a feeling that I was in the right place. As I opened the Sunday bulletin given to me at the front door out jumped my sign. Every Monday evening a class in ACIM. That was it. I began attending. As I look back on my last 65 years I can see now how every decision I made led me to this point. Always knowing and following that light inside. Today I have wonderful instructors (and you are included in that special group) to help get me passed those moments when I want to say “I don’t understand”. Thanks for being part of it. Please keep up the great work. It means so much to so many of us.

    • Sean Reagan September 6, 2013, 11:43 am

      Thanks for sharing that, Franco. I hear you about feeling close to God as a child and then slipping away as Catholicism’s hold grew stronger. It’s funny. I remember being four or five and just being in the woods and talking to God – but a few years later I was an altar boy and the priests were very clear that God only talked to priests and bishops. I started to hide that aspect of my life and grew very private about it – I didn’t want to talk spirituality with anyone! And it took a long time to undo that – to start to look for a spiritual home that was welcoming and made sense and all that.

      Thanks, too, for that great piece about going back to sit with the woman – as the Holy Spirit was clearly directing you. It’s hard to heed that voice! And I love that you managed to be kind to the people who insisted you sit in one place but still return to get the message at the first table! That is wisdom in action, I think. Hearing the Holy Spirit, flowing with what’s going on around us, but still finding a way to say “yes.”

      We are getting there together! Thank you, Franco.

      ~ Sean

  • Michael September 7, 2013, 6:00 am

    ACIM – Boot Camp for the soul – bring it on!

    • Sean Reagan September 7, 2013, 12:51 pm

      🙂

  • marymccrink@aol.com September 7, 2013, 9:09 am

    I CHOOSE LOVE

    • Sean Reagan September 7, 2013, 12:52 pm

      Yes!

  • Claudia September 7, 2013, 12:15 pm

    Sean, before even reading the wonderful comments following your post I knew I’d write a comment telling you that this is my favorite post ever. Like Eric, when I heard about the Course the first time (through reading Marianne Williamson’s Return to Love) I thought, ‘Nope, not me – sounds cultish.” I would talk to people about the lovely ideas and concepts in Marianne’s book, and say, “it keeps quoting this other book, but just ignore that part.” Ha. I resisted for an entire year until I walked into a bookstore – in Minneapolis of all places – walked straight to it, and felt compelled to pick it up and walk to the counter with it. I started reading it on the plane home and I have never stopped. I’m on the path now and I’m always glad to read that everyone has “those” moments with it. This is tough stuff for sure. But like Aleta and Eric imply, it’s too late to pretend I never opened the book. I’m on this path and there is no going back. Most days I think I’m glad about that…. 🙂 Thanks for what you do Sean. I love feeling like I am part of an ACIM community here.

    • Sean Reagan September 7, 2013, 12:56 pm

      Thanks, Claudia. I appreciate that. I too feel a community here – I am surrounded by fellow students, like you & Eric & Aleta & everyone, whose kindness and patience gently teaches me that it is safe to let go of the ego, little by little, and let the Holy Spirit come closer and closer, until we all stand together in the Light. I am very grateful.

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