A Course in Miracles Fraud

Yesterday, while searching online for some information about ACIM teachers – I am trying to better appreciate and understand what prompts people to charge money for “teaching” ACIM – I ran into two articles that threw me for a loop, distracting me from the love that is our fundament.

The first was over at EWTN which is a conservative Catholic news service. The author, Edward R. Hryczyk, quoting extensively from a Catholic priest (Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel) who knew Helen Schucman is deeply critical of A Course in Miracles. He not-so-subtly implies that it’s deceptive at a radical level – the work not of Jesus but of a demon, an embodiment of diabolical intent.

In other words, the course doesn’t just depart from traditional Catholic dogma and theology. It affirmatively seeks to lead people away from God and into hell. The priest claims as proof the pain and anguish and suffering of Helen Schucman’s last years.

Mr. Hryczyk suggests that Catholics to be gentle but uncompromising with ACIM students. He says they are usually sincere in their search for Christ, trying to fill a spiritless void, but are dangerously led astray. Their only hope is to return to the teachings and traditions of the Catholic church, as mediated by the Magisterium; helping them find that way back is the only appropriate mode of interaction.

I’m generally immune to a lot of what conservative or fundamentalist Christianity offers. Over the years, I’ve gotten pretty good at accepting where those believers are at, finding what common ground (if any) is available, and trying to steer away from any painful conflict. If there’s room for dialogue, great. If not, that’s okay, too. I don’t want to hurt people.

But I was raised Catholic – cradle to my late thirties. Two of my children are baptized. I went to a Catholic college, studied Catholic theology, and even looked into being an Edmundite priest. I believed and even when the going got really tough, I tried to keep believing. I wanted to keep the faith.

Eventually, after much prayer and contemplation and talk with friends and family, I let go of the Catholic church. It was the right decision for me and it planted the seeds of a fruitful spiritual practice that has been challenging, inspiring and transformative. I am grateful.

But that article – the priest’s confidence that he was right, the subtle allusions to an evil capable of manifesting in the world, the author’s certainty that I and others like me are bound to a gnostic philosophy that can only lead us to hell – actually shook me. I don’t like saying that – in part because it shows how I am still invested in publicly presenting some spiritual “ideal” – but the truth is, I was rattled.

And – as this post testifies – I am still sorting through that experience.

I never believed in a God that didn’t love everyone unconditionally. But I did believe in a God that was stern, demanding and judgmental. He didn’t hate me – but he was perpetually disappointed in me. And that wasn’t going to change in Heaven. I didn’t fit in the world and I had little hope that I was going to be much a right fit up there, either.

And – deep down in the recesses of my belief system – I accepted the presence of an angel who had chose to rule in hell rather than follow in Heaven. I was susceptible to his wiles. The devil was real and hot on my heels, always throwing rock bands and beautiful women and drugs and whatever else he could into my path. I was his best hope and we both knew it.

So the real risk was not rejection by the somewhat cold and elusive God, but my own acceptance of the evil alternative.

What a harsh and painful spirituality! What a painful religious narrative in which to be shackled! And clearly I have not uprooted all of it, as it has surfaced yet again. A couple thousand words written by a man I don’t know, quoting a priest I’ve never met, and all the relentlessly difficult baggage of that church and its grim stories and mythology rises to the surface.

So what does one do as a student of A Course in Miracles? How does one respond to this sort of moment?

Well, one thing that we can do is hold our “relentlessly difficult baggage” in the light. We can keep it on the table, so to speak. When the ego rears its head and runs rampant through our lives, we can simply acknowledge it and offer it to the Holy Spirit. This is what clear seeing and non-resistance are. We can’t keep secrets and know the peace of Christ, therefore whatever ugliness we’d rather hide away is going to have to lifted up into light and given to the One who knows what to do with it.

The other article that I read (since gone from the web but you can get a general flavor from this thread) appeared in an online journal devoted to the Book of Urantia. The author, Philip Eversoul, affirmatively rejects any possibility that A Course in Miracles can be reconciled with Urantia teachings. In fact, in somewhat the same spirit as the EWTN article, he points out that the course is not the work of Jesus but of Caligastia, who is the Urantian equivalent of the devil.

That article and its ideology is less frightening to me. But it did bring out my inner theological lawyer. I’m modestly familiar with the Urantia book. I don’t claim to know it extensively and I certainly am not a follower or student of that tradition. But I own it. I’ve read it. I’ve talked to people about it. And I respect it as one of many paths that are available to spiritual seekers.

Still, I believe that Mr. Eversoul was mistaken in some of his observations about the course. Notably, he concluded that A Course in Miracles claims – despite its protestations to the contrary – to be the only way to get to God (i.e., see the preface which asserts that the course is “but one version of the universal curriculum”).

Like a drunken lawyer I practically leaped to my feet to rebut the charges. I was ready to write emails, letters to the editor, a whole blog post exposing the “wrongness” of Mr. Eversoul – which is, of course, a way highlighting the “rightness” of me.

This is a different kind of conflict than with the EWTN article, but it’s still a conflict. The need to be right where others are wrong is itself wrong-minded thinking. It is fundamentally unloving. It focuses on error, on behavior and on bodies. It ignores the inherent perfection of love as our shared spiritual experience.

And, contrary to belief, this sort of ego-based argumentation is not about  correction in the name of love. It’s about keeping our own hatred and guilt hidden by projecting it out into the world.

So yes. I was surprised by the intensity of my reaction. If you asked, I would have pointed out that I’m doing a lot better than I was a year ago, three years ago, ten years ago. Because I practice the course, because I seem to be able to make contact with that still inner voice, I don’t resort to lovelessness the way I once did.

But there I was acting like a man bent on hurting others in a vain attempt to exorcise his own hurt. There was no other way to see it, no better way to frame it. I was right and Mr. Eversoul was wrong. And I was angry that he was wrong. And all I could think to do was take that spark of anger and turn it into a conflagration.

On the one hand, I am grateful for those two readings. They open new grounds for forgiveness, which is always a blessing. I don’t want to correct anybody; I don’t want to defend A Course in Miracles or attack another tradition. That’s not my job. I don’t want to fan the flames of guilt and anger and hate – my own or anybody else’s.

I want to turn the whole thing over to Jesus in whom it can be healed, according to the power of love.

And yet.

I am chastened this morning. I woke before dawn, but couldn’t roust myself from bed for a prayerful walk. Instead, I lay there wondering if I was wrong about the course. Maybe I am still Catholic. Maybe the followers of the Urantia teachings are right. Maybe there’s another path I still haven’t found yet and that’s the one that’s good and right and true.

That doubt – that ability to question even what so clearly works, and works well, where no other practice did – is the ego’s most insidious tool. It is like a sharp invisible scalpel that neatly slices through our faith and conviction. It guts our little willingness, leaving it bloody and disemboweled.

It wants me to turn back, reject the course, abandon hope and continue a confused and meaningless search for God where God can be neither found nor remembered, let alone known.

Ultimately, even this doubt must be brought up into the light and set on the table. It’s the fear that A Course in Miracles is a lie, that all my friends – old and new alike – who turn to it and share with me – are misled and thus can only mislead

“Trust me,” whispers the ego. “Follow me.”

Its voice is by turns seductive and logical. What harm can come from going to mass tomorrow? Why is the Urantia book gathering dust in the basement while A Course in Miracles is on the bedside night table?

A Course in Miracles was the first spiritual path that made clear to me that I was allowed to be happy – naturally joyful, full of inner peace. There were no arduous rituals, no impossible-to-please deities. It was unequivocal in its acceptance of other spiritual paths. It wasn’t selling itself. It was there for me if I wanted it and there were no hard feelings if I continued on my way.

It was deep, resonant, consistent and loving. I saw those qualities in it – and recognized, however dimly, that they were qualities inside of me, as well.

Never before had I felt so close to Heaven, so near to Jesus. Never before had I been so hopeful that my seeking might have an end.

But those are just words. They are symbols. And however happy I am these days, the interior remains stormy, or at least capable of storm. My conviction drifts. By the tiniest bit – recessed, nearly hidden – I cling to the old world of bodies and pain and guilt.

I remember reading somewhere Ken Wapnick saying that we should never underestimate the ego. And in my recent reading of The Obstacles to Peace, I was struck by how graphic and violent and ugly the images of the ego and its world are. Fear’s messengers bring the stuff of nightmares.

No little shred of guilt escapes their hungry eyes. And in their savage search for sin they pounce on any living thing they see, and carry it screaming to their master, to be devoured (T-19.IV.A.12:6-7).


So I keep it simple. I name the fears and the doubts and lift them up where they can be seen and forgiven. I even put them, as best I can, into words. Here you go, Jesus. Take it away. Do what you will.

He promises love. He promises peace. And all he asks in return in a little gratitude, a little willingness. He asks me to look at my brothers and sisters and see in them what they cannot see in themselves.

Love, too, would set a feast before you, on a table covered with a spotless cloth, set in a quiet garden where no sound but singing and a softly joyous whispering is ever hears. This is a feast that honors your holy relationship, and at which everyone is welcome as an honored guest. And in a holy instant grace is said by everyone together, as they join in gentleness before the table of communion (T-19.IV.A.16:1-3).

So I am grateful then – or willing to be grateful – to Philip Eversoul and Edward R. Hryczyk. I am grateful that they so carefully and in such great faith wrote the articles I read yesterday. I am grateful for their willingness to share, to be vulnerable in a public space, to try and educate, to try and save.

And I lift these words of mine – which may bring comfort, which may cause conflict – in the same spirit. Heal all of us, Jesus, poor teachers and students alike. Of ourselves we can do nothing but with your guidance and in your presence, we may slowly be moved to love.

That is my prayer, joined with that of my brothers and sisters. May you hear all of us and lead us to the home we share in God.

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  1. I somehow came across your words while frolicking through the web and only one word came through afterwards.. ‘beautiful’.. Actually two words.. ‘absolutely beautiful’.. Well three really.. ‘absolutely beautifully expressed’.. As we are well aware dear friend.. that silly little ego is a clever little devil.. Bill

      1. My Mom ordered the Song of Prayer and Psychotherapy for me, and looked it up online and read The Course as a Fraud. Not what I believe, but I checked it out and came onto this. I liked so much what you wrote here, that I posted it on my facebook page. Thanks for saying exactly what I needed to hear, I do have no doubts this is the right path for me. : )

        1. Thanks for the kind words, Janet. It is a sweet path to follow when it’s right for us. Thank you for reading!


  2. Well said.
    I go through a similar experience. In fact, I was just exploring this aspect of my thinking (me-right, them-wrong) by searching the internet for the rantings of those who oppose The Course. I read their arguments in order to craft my rebuttal (me-right, them wrong). And although I feel this in my mind, I rarely go through with the act. Instead, I simply state – on Youtube and elsewhere – that ACIM has helped me very much and I love it’s teachings. There seems to be a quieter voice behind the ranting voice that says “you only need concern yourself with your own salvation”.

    Stay well,

  3. Yes – that quieter voice is a mighty companion! The course points out that the Christ in us is very still and unshakeable. But it takes some willingness to enter that space. The ego’s chatter and directives can be quite persuasive. For me, it shows up consistently in this intellectual arena – my ideas are right and yours are wrong. I’m not always petty about it – sometimes I imagine I’m being very loving and graceful. I just want to guide everyone to the truth! But that’s part of the illusion too and needs to be forgiven as well.

    What a path!

    Thanks for reading & writing, Derek.

  4. Ahhhh Yes, how familiar, this invisible rude enemy. One of those mornings when I dreaded getting out of bed to face my day, ‘it’ gave me a clear question
    ” I just seriously wonder, what if I someday wake up the this whole ‘Course’ thing was the REAL DREAM??? ” Somewhere in my Course, I read about the Name of God, and that when we need help to call HIS name and repeat it. So I never did get clear on what God’s Name actually Is but from time to time when my thoughts trigger fear in me, I begin my own chanting of “Father, Father,Father or intersperse between those GOD, GOD…..! I don’t remember anything astonishing happening but do remember that my mind/Mind takes me away from the fear suddenly to a Guided purpose . With Appreciation for this very helpful Guided message……”All things work together for good….” and some where in ACIM Jesus says this Bible Quote is still True. Gratefully,sally

  5. I hope you are still checking this website. I, too, was raised Catholic. I walked away from it and by age 30 was almost an atheist. I browsed A Course in Miracles one day in Barnes and Noble and instantly recognized it as the truth. This is what God had to be like. All loving. I have taken a long time to read the entire Course in Miracles, and have read many sites and comments on it. Lately, I have begun to question it sometimes after reading some comments on it. But whenever I question it, I go back and read some part of the Course itself. The words of the Course, and not someone’s opinion on it, always convince me. It is the truth. Usually, a very good teacher can take the textbook on a subject and turn the dry boring text into something that comes alive. But the best teachers of the Course have always left me a little flat. (I have not read your book). The teachers cannot compete with the language of the Course itself. If you are doubting the Course, just read it. The truth it teaches in every page is simply undeniable. It needs to stand on the Truth it teaches, and not on the story of its creation. Strangely, the more I read the New Testament, the more I find it to be in almost complete accord with the Course. My new Testament is underlined, over and over again, with the notation in the margin “ACIM”. Especially 1 John. See, e.g., 1 John 4:18. I hope this helps. Feel free to contact me if you want.

    1. Hi . . .

      Thank you for the kind and supportive words. I hear you on that experience of the Course as true – especially when we are in contact with it directly, rather than through some mediator (a teacher, a book about ACIM, etc.). I have found Tara Singh to be a helpful – and at times profound – teacher of the course, but of course, that is only my experience. Different people have their own sense of who resonates and who doesn’t. The course meets us where we are and always offers as much help and support as we are ready to accept. I sense, too, that resonance between much of the new testament and the course – in a sense, there is nothing new under the sun, simply new expressions. I am very grateful to have found this one, even as I practice it imperfectly. Thank you again for your kind words.


      1. Sean,

        I have a question on the Truth that you claim the course to be. Do you know anything about channeled spirits? ACIM was written not by Helen Schucman. She was very clear in the way that a “spirit” came to her and she only transcribed what it said. That “spirit” claimed to be none other than Jesus Christ. Does that encourage any discernment?
        There are countless warnings in the Bible that address spirits. Here’s one:
        ” Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of anti-christ, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already.” 1 John 4:1-3

        You wrote that you believe in the devil. Do you think the spirit that entered Helen Schucman (an atheist) was good or evil? Do you think Helen ever tested that spirit?

        1. Thank you for sharing, Michael.

          This is an old article; I haven’t looked at it in a while. Still, skimming it, I’m not sure that I said ACIM was the truth – I think I said it was helpful. That is, if people are helped by it, then great. And if not, that’s okay too. It’s not for everyone.

          I don’t think that Jesus wrote A Course in Miracles. Nor do I think a spirit – demonic or otherwise – did; I think Helen Schucman wrote it. You can find more about my thoughts on that subject in this post – including some testimony from folks who believe that Jesus did write it. I don’t know what else to say about that.

          As I experience the course and its creation, I find the suggestion that Helen Schucman was an atheist pretty weak tea, so far as it goes. I think it’s pretty clear from her ACIM-related writing and the writing that came after the course that she was in a deep sustained – and sometimes contentious – relationship with God. That relationship was alternately troubling, unclear, confusing and inspiring. In my experience, most folks who take God seriously experience struggle and challenge from time to time.

          I like John’s Gospel; I don’t take it literally. Human beings are motivated by the good in them and they are sometimes motivated by what is less-good. It was ever thus. I’m less interested in literal encounters with Jesus than practical encounters with the energy that seemed to inform his brief radical life – open commensality, radical forgiveness, inclusivity and equality. If ACIM helps one enact that sort of living, then great.

          Thank you again for sharing.

          ~ Sean

    2. Contrast the “spirits” channeled words to the inspired words of St. John (1 John 4:1-3):

      ” Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of anti-christ, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already.”

  6. If this helps anyone (as it does help me in situations of doubt, uncertainty etc.), just one thought, that God is not afraid. I try to remember this, when I try to project my own fears onto God. When I do, fear disappears and there is room for God.

    So whatever “hell” one experiences as a child, absorbs from others (as a matter of brainwashing, for example), or concocts as an adult—to be afraid of or scare others with—it has nothing to do with God; unless one insists on an absurd idea of a god who is “perfect” and “absolute” but somehow fearful (like having fear of otherness, xenophobic fear, psychological anxiety, fear of death or cockroaches, you name it).

  7. It may be comforting to receive back, Yes, we too, as teachers, agree: “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.”

  8. It is difficult for me, to understand how can The Truth be resisted to such deep degrees! I mean, really!? You claim to have used most of your life seeking The Truth to no avail (to speak of), allowing false ‘prophets’ to lead you away from what you KNOW is that truth, because it made you ‘feel good’ and ‘happy’: but, when The Grace of God reaches out to you (again!) to rescue you from that darkness, ‘your ego’ rebukes Him and His salvation again, because YOU know ‘better’? It is just mind boggling! The arrogance we all can have! You not only justify your nonsense with so called ‘pretty words’ but you mislead others into your dark, dark corner. A perfect example of ‘the blind leading the blind’. You have at least two testimonies, from two very different sources, to conclude that you are on the wrong path and yet, you insist to ignore His message and go out to prove it wrong! I guess your EGO continue being your God. “He who has ears ought to hear and he who has eyes ought to see”, because The Father has not revealed these things to the knowledgeable or the learned, but, to the innocent and the simple” says the Lord. Wake up!

    1. Hi M.

      Thanks for sharing.

      I don’t think the post and subsequent comments actually assert what your comment suggests they assert, though I do appreciate you sharing your perspective. More is always being revealed, as they say. Like most folks, I’m doing the best I can. I appreciate those who see it differently. It was ever thus 🙂

      Thanks again,


  9. Very good ideas here. Personally I am given to think the Course, Urantia book, Bible, Quran, Book of Mormon…and all the others are products of the only Prime Force in the Universe as Most-High GOD….generator, operator, destroyer. I discovered this in recovery from death of my wife in 1985 and have been working on it ever since. I have written twelve books about my conclusion and posted on a website at http://www.schooloftheofatalism.org. It really has it all covered from atoms to galaxies for me. But Saint Thomas a Kempis wrote in The Imitation of Christ, “It is better to leave everyone to their own way of thinking rather than give way to contentious discourse.” Now go outside and play. Google my name for reference. Thanks…Lewis Tagliaferre

    1. Thank you for sharing, Lewis. The Kempis quote is lovely – hard to do in practice, but good to hold in mind as we go.


  10. Just came across this post, searching for advice on the best Ken Wapnick book to start with…my wife and I are both ACIM students… your sharing is beautiful and inspiring. Thank you.

  11. Congrats you have Google on your side I didn’t realized this was such an old article.
    My ACIM teacher is Jennifer Hadley. I’ve been doing Radical Forgiveness for 2 years now and I hit a point where my friends started to call me “little alien 👽 “ It looks like I have no ambition anymore and I give everyone and everything the benefit of the doubt…thinking this it’s just my perception. I’m so light, calm and at peace that I started to worry if my hormones and brain chemicals were ok…lol. All is well…perfect love to you and all people reading …and if you’re an ACIM student/teacher and start to feel like you’re losing your mind…that’s just ego pulling the last card, because you just returned home!! Much love, healing and light!!

    1. Your joy is palpable and contagious . . . thank you for bringing it to these pages in such easy blessing. Balms abound 🙂

      In love & gratitude,


  12. In relation to what you and others say on your website, it seems to me that the test that every teaching must pass, whether it is the Course, the Bible, the Quran, the Buddhist Sutras, or even those of science or philosophy, is this: Are they a) logically consistent (i.e., do not contradict themselves or lead to contradictory conclusions) and b) conducive to the discovery and realization of peace as a fundamental condition for happiness? This is very different from the one that many people seem to prefer, which is ‘do I like it, does it gratify what seem to be immediate needs, especially does it divide me from others and thereby put me in a state inclining toward further conflict?’ This is the test that is used in considering any claim, whether that of witness in a trial, a snake-oil salesman, a politician (especially a con-man), or a theologian. If one looks closely at the Course itself, especially what it says about ‘consistency’ and ‘reason’, I think that this is essentially what it says. This could also be applied to the claims of those such Groeschel and others, who may themselves have been persuaded by the same conditioning that was part of their being raised a Catholic (or an atheist or whatever sort of ideology) that happened to be the one that what is sometimes called ‘karma’ placed each of us into in the initial years of our ‘learning experience’ as human beings. Indeed, the appropriate response to every brother (or sister, if one feels the need for that term) is one of compassion and love. As the Course points out ‘For it is the function of love to unite all things unto itself, and to hold all things together by extending its wholeness.’ I’ve not anywhere come across another statement that comes close to this in profundity.

    Like you, I was raised a Catholic. But after a year in a Franciscan seminary following high school, 3 further years at a Catholic university in San Antonio, and three more years at the Universite Catholique de Louvain, and eventually concluding that the Catholic interpretation of Jesus’ teachings were seriously wanting and even self-contradictory and incompatible with living a life of peace, I turned to inquiring into other spiritual teachings. These were particularly those of Hinduism, Sufism, Taoism, and especially Buddhism. By chance, while in NY visiting a psychologist friend, I came upon xeroxed copy of ACIM in 1974 or 5. My initial response was one of great skepticism. However, eventually I bought a copy of the FIP version and began to read it, finding both profound insights similar to those of the Eastern teachings as well as numerous apparent inconsistencies/contradictions. Then, after retiring from teaching philosophy for almost 40 years, I decided to scrutinize ACIM, using the principle and methods of logic, to see if the inconsistencies were actually there or only due to my misreading. What emerged from that, with the help of a number of friends, was the book “‘Love’ in ACIM”, which came to the conclusion that not only were the ‘inconsistencies’ not actually there, but that when they were examined closely they served as something similar to ‘Zen koans,’ contemplating which lead to even more profound insights ‘hidden’ in the teaching.

    However, this initial inquiry opened my inquiry to apply the same ‘logical’ testing to the whole of ACIM, which has led, again with the help of friends in dialogue, to a more extensive interpretation, in the form of a more complete inquiry “‘The Holy Trinity’ in ACIM”. This proposes and clarifies what seems to be a logically coherent, consistent, and complete ‘thought system’, which works out what needs to be called ‘two levels’ of reality and truth (which can be called ‘relative’ and ‘absolute’). ‘Relative reality’ is essentially a complex and inconsistent ‘dream’ or ‘illusory’ structure based on the ego-idea and the very notion of ‘limit’ (the fundamental self-contradictory notions constructed by the choice made within the unlimited mind of the Son). In ‘absolute reality’ (Reality), the Son is created by God so that he is completely like His Creator: unlimited, constituted of Love, and with unlimited awareness and creative power. However, the Son is also endowed with the freedom to make the choices that generate the complex illusion we think of as ‘the world’. But Love, the internal ‘Energy’ or fundamental principle constituting God, responds to the Son’s choice to ‘dream’ a ‘world of separation’ with a further ‘pulse’ of Love, which creates the Holy Spirit, Whose purpose and function is to restore or awaken the Son to who/what he really is: the unlimited Son who is exactly like his Creator, and creates in the same way, so that he has a further Son exactly like the initial Son. That is, within absolute reality (Reality) what is actually present is an infinite number of unlimited beings or ‘spirits,’ all completely like one another and united in their unlimited sharing of Love. This is what the Course calls ‘Heaven,’ ‘the Kingdom of God,’ or ‘universe of love,’ without the slightest aspect of limit or ‘evil’ and filled with infinitely increasing Joy. Indeed, since God and all creatures exist completely outside time in the single eternal Now that cannot end, what seems to be the dream of a world of separation (much like what Buddhism calls ‘samsara’ and depicts with the symbol called the ‘Wheel of Becoming’ or ‘Bhavacakra’) is in Reality already over, since that ‘dream’ ended in the same eternal Now in which it began or begins.

    This brings me to why I was prompted to share this with you. Since you and others responding to what you say also seem to be fellow seekers of Truth, and have like me become somewhat disappointed in more traditional claims about God and life’s meaning, even the odd way some seem to have made a ‘business’ of the Course, perhaps you’d like to join me and my friends in sharing in our inquiry into the Course’s teachings.

    Peace and Light to you and all our brothers.

  13. Hi! Thank you for this article. I found ACIM while working in a bookstore 20 plus years ago. I was immediately fascinated. I had had a spiritual experience that came seemingly out of ‘nowhere’, because I certainly wasn’t a spiritual seeker at the time.
    Anyhow, my relationship with acim has been complex to say the least and, honestly, I feel like it has taken me through hell. I feel like I stayed in hurtful situations trying to forgive people, totally lost myself and my ground, trying to hear what the Holy Spirit had to tell me. Frozen, unable to ‘decide for myself’, because how could I know? Yet I could not decipher His Voice. I have been this way now for more than twenty years. I don’t want to blame the book, but I am all alone and poor in a place I don’t want to be. It feels like I have certainly failed the course, along with the rest of my life in all honesty.

    1. Dear Gini,

      Thank you for sharing in this honest and heartfelt way. I hear you, and you are not alone. I don’t think anybody who cares deeply about love and peace can avoid hell. We have to see how bad it is in order to realize the depths of healing to which God and Love will take us and, through us, the world.

      I read your comment and see one of the courageous ones, one of the devoted ones, one of the ones whose hand is always held out to help those who falter behind.

      It is not possible to fail A Course in Miracles, or to fail our lives. We can be sad and lonely – and this can feel more painful that seems bearable – we can FEEL like failures – but we are not. We are children of a loving God who have forgotten what we are.

      Please let me remind you: you are perfectly whole and loving, a light in the Mind of God, shining brightly in ways that you can’t even imagine. That is literally all I see in you.

      You don’t mention much about your practice – if you did the lessons, followed a teacher, et cetera. You did mention having a hard time hearing the Holy Spirit: when you decided to write, and to speak your truth, you did so at the Holy Spirit’s urging.

      The part of you that knows pain also knows Love – how else would you know to differentiate pain from what pain is not?

      There is no solution to our fear and anger and grief in the world. I don’t have enough money, I’m in the wrong relationship, the world is on fire . . . all of that comes and goes. Within is the stillness bearing witness to the coming and going, and it is that to which we give attention. When we do, the external world shifts, but its shifting matters less because it is not our home. We were confused when we thought it was.

      If you come back and read this reply, feel free to reach out via the contact page. I’m happy to be a friend, trade emails, talk about how hard the course is, encourage you, whatever.

      In the interim, thank you for sharing and giving me a chance to remember we are here for each other.


  14. Sean, Your thoughts are so very familiar. I have thought them all myself at one time or another. I am plagued with being a serious “Spiritual Tourist”! I say serious because I latch on to a spiritual path and stay with it, sonetimes for many years, and I make progress, but then something comes along and catches my interest, answrrs something I have always wondered about, and eventually I leave my chosen path and step out onto the new one.
    I studied and practiced ACIM for over a decade. I think it changed me perhaps more than any other path. But then I found Harold W. Percival and his book, ” Thinking and Destiny”. I stepped off the Course and onto T&D. I havebeen studying and working with it now for about 5 years. But I have issues with it as well. So much so that lately I have been wandering back into ACIM (Which is on my night stand along with T&D and the Tao Te Ching!). The course is so personal, so beautifully written. But the yse of the word “God” is hard for me now. T&D has dispelled any belief I had that any of the organized religions have a real God involved with them. A universal devine intelligence maybe, or the “Supreme Intelligence” perhaps. So this us now problematic for me. But ACIM is still very appealing in many ways.

    Thanks for your thoughts, we all share them.


    1. Thank you, Brad. It’s always good to connect with like-minded souls. I’m not familiar with Harold Percival or his work; I AM familiar with the Tao and find it a health complement to ACIM. All this stuff eventually meets at or another of the wells.

      “God” is a tough word for a concept that I think is actually quite natural and simple. The mind can make a lovely hash of it 🙂 I seem to have made my peace with it, settling in a Christian nonduality in the ACIM mode with a bit of Abhishiktananda thrown in for good measure. But who knows. I could be a Buddhist next year 🙂

      Thanks again for being here, Brad. I’m grateful for the friendship and kind words.


      1. Sean,
        When I left the Course a few years back, it was partly because it dismisses the physical body and world so completely. In Harold W. Percival’s great work, “Thinking and Destiny” he also states that the world is illusion, however only from a very high viewpoint. He teaches that while we are yet “human” there is law which governs the physical; every event, thing or situation is under this law. He generalizes it all as “The Law of Thought”- basically self-created Karma.
        Percival is thought to have become “enlightened” at the age of 29, while walking in the streets of NYC, circa: 1900-ish, passing away in 1952.
        He explains, “The light of a thousand suns poured into my head and I was forever changed”. Some people find “Thinking and Destiny” too complex to follow, but for the curious mind, it is an amazing book. I do have problems with some of it however. Some of it seems almost sci-fi. But, for those who have sought out spiritual pathways, they know that all paths seem to conflict with one another. T&D does not have the sense of personal guidance that ACIM does with its inference of Jesus as the speaker. But it does guide.

        T&D can be found free, online at thewordfoundation.org

        Thanks for the reply,


        1. For the record, I don’t think the course dismissed body and world as thoroughly as a lot of folks think (and teach), but I understand how and why that misconception arises and takes such hold.

          Thanks for the link – I will take at the book.

          ~ Sean

      2. Since the Course’s primary aim is Atonement, and Atonement consists in awakening from the dream of separation, and the aim of Buddhism is to realize buddhahood, and ‘buddha’ means ‘one that is fully awakened,’ I think it follows that anyone dedicated to the Course’s aim can be accurately called a ‘buddhist,’ although it uses other terminology. That is, the meaning of ‘Christ’ as characterized by the Course seems to be essentially the same as ‘Buddha’. I personally have been a ‘Christist-Buddhist’ for some time, although my earlier term was ‘Christian’ which then morphed to ‘Agnostic’, then to ‘Advaita-Hindu’ and then to ‘Buddhist’, and currently that of ‘Christist-Buddhist.’ Of course, since another name for the aim of both of those teachings is simply ‘Truth,’ and the Greek word for ‘truth’ is ‘aletheia’, a Christist-Buddhist could also be called an ‘Aletheist.’ Indeed, the word ‘aletheia’ comes from the roots ‘a’ =’non’ and ‘lethe’ = ‘forgetting’, so that the original meaning is ‘non-forgetting.’ Interesting what insights words can reveal hidden in the forms that cover them.

        BTW, I and Mike Rivage-Seul will be on Jon Mundy’s ‘Sundays with Mundy’ Apr. 10 from 12 to 2, with a focus on ‘Social Justice from the Course’s Perspective’. If you’re interested I can send you the info on how to connect to it.

        Peace and Light

        1. Hi Theodore,

          Yes, they draw from the same well. However, there are nontrivial differences in application that can be more or less helpful from person to person, context to context. Open-mindedness and flexibility feel like virtues in this domain.

          And unconditionally yes: etymology is an amazing way of going deeper into the function of language. A great joy indeed.

          ~ Sean

  15. Hey Sean
    Do I get it right?

    I am a dream charachter whose worldly name is Kesa. Kesa is a mother, a wife, a daughter, a neighbour, a driver, a collegue, a patient, a customer etc etc…

    The being(!) who was writing the above paragraph was , I assume, the part of THE mind who chose EGO as the guide. Because she seemed to be very much identified with titles.

    There seems to be another part , who is questioning and trying to figure out which part is responsible for what is surrounding Kesa. (TO BE HONEST , I THINK IT IS STILL THE EGOIC MIND TRYING TO PERSUADE ME THAT SHE IS THE OBSERVER)

    So I hope very sincerly that there exist really “a right mind” that is really observing.

    I have lots of experience where my guide was ego, but I cannot name any where I chose Holly spirit. I am hoping I will also have some holly encounters (which will still be a part of the dream but at least 1 step near to God’s arms) but my question is something else.

    Who will aweken from this dream? Who is chosing between which guide to follow (the extension of God who felt asleep???)? I am so confused because for the time being all I have is egoic experiences that I have collected. I have no idea about what a holly instant or miracle is. I am new to ACIM but I have been searching all my adult life long. I had never had an experience where I was at peace. Never. Even by the birth of my children, I was so afraid, so anxious, even by that incident I was driven by wrong mind. Probably I am lost in this dream but anyways. I still have the hope. I could not still formelize my question . I want to ask from your experience, what is the world like when your guide is HS? what is it like to be right-minded? Do you experience it always, in your daily life? Theoretically, I get the point that this world is an illusion (without denying it)
    But I really want to understand.

    Let’s say my child is ill. I know when I am speaking about illness, I am speaking about body which is not what my child is. But for the time being I have to accept that I am a body, otherwise I should not take him to doctor, I should not give him his medicine.. Deep inside I know (or am trying to internalize )that we are all light but then what should I do? I don’t hear HS clearly, but I have to move on , make decisions, and not just for me but also for my child. There I lost all the meaning. There is just 1 decision, I know. And that is which guide I am going to choose. Ok, I choose HS of course. I am aware of my angst, frustiration, worries. I hand them out to HS and now my part is done.
    The only thing for me to make place for HS , to open my heart for love. Ok, and so what?

    I cannot progress even 1 step.
    I am so much deep in ego that, I cannot find my way out.
    I meditate, I pray, I surrender
    But one does not surrender when he says he surrenders :((

    I know, I sound like someone who tries to be a good course student :(((
    No, I really don’t. I am not trying to fake the process in the book.
    I just wanna find my salvation out of this dream. I want to get out of this world stage :(( or at least have a single experience how is it to be still in the dream as a person or light who achieve to have HS’s guidance.

    I really wonder if there are right-minded people who take part in this dream with 100% of HS’s guidance?
    Or what is the percentage of experiencing holly instant in an avarage daily life? Can a right minded one say for example, he is 75% right-minded and 25% is the ego in lead but he recognizes it quickly and make a new choice again???
    What shall I be expecting to reach? Of course 1% is better than nothing, I know every cm is a progress but when I see , even the long time students or even teachers dont really live a life that they are teaching us to achieve, then I felt like I am being deceived. Even they could not reach such a level, even they are still in ego, how can that be once they taste the holly moment, how can they still fell in the traps of ego :(((
    I fell too but I have no idea how it is not to follow ego..it is like I am trying to imagine some unknown, non-existing thing…so it does not give me a really high motivation..but they, they should know how wonderful it is..and they should not condescent to ego

    Thank you so much if you have read it so far.. thank you for your blog.. it still gives me some hope to continue this path

    1. Thank you, Kesa. Yes, ego is the part of the mind that cares about identity and making everything personal. But it’s also the part of the mind that steps back and says, wait, was that ego?

      I think your instinct (in parenthesis and all-caps) is speaking truth to you. So let’s call that the Holy Spirit.

      A big part of my study and practice has to do with learning how to tell the difference between ego’s obsessive questions, concerns and criticisms (often masquerading as legitimate inquiries) and the Holy Spirit’s clear and gentle correction, which always undoes the ego’s obsession with form and time, and restores to our awareness the creativity and perfection of the present moment.

      “Each instant is a clean, untarnished birth, in which the Son of God emerges from the past into the present. And the present extends forever. It is so beautiful and so clean and free of guilt that nothing but happiness is there (T-15.I.8:4-6).

      I identify with your experience of anxiety and fear. I can’t say that enough. And somewhat paradoxically, I think that is a strong foundation from which to awaken – through sharing with the Holy Spirit – into levels of peace and happiness that are sustainable and real.

      Your questions can’t really be answered in terms of the world and the body. It’s not Kesa who awakens; Kesa – the wife and mother, the co-worker and driver, the new student of ACIM. Kesa is just a part of the dream.

      But there is no rush to see this. The only thing that matters is at the beginning is being open-minded and willing; if we want to learn bad enough, and if the Course is our spiritual path (it doesn’t have to be!!) and we study and practice it with devotion and integrity, then eventually the experience changes. Our investment and attachment to form and identity loosens and shifts, and we begin to experience the quiet happiness of knowing that we are not separate from one another.

      You asked what it is like! It is like having a trusted friend with you all the time, who loves you, has your back, gives great advice, and doesn’t bail at the first sign of trouble. That’s what the Holy Spirit is like. And the more I accept the relationship, the more I realize the Holy Spirit is speaking for God, who is Love.

      And then the work is less to deal with the problems one has in the world (which are really just symptoms of the only problem we truly have, e.g., our mistaken belief that we are separate from God (W-pI.79.1:4)), and simply to be present continuously and gently TO that love.

      It doesn’t break down into percentages for me; I’m sorry. But it is absolutely something that happens in this body in this world and, like learning yoga or studying geometry, it takes time and practice. Some days are better than others. One step forward, two steps back.

      It’s okay; it’s more than okay.

      I would not worry so much about what various teachers are doing or not doing. That’s just ego being ego. Rather, ask: what helps in your own life? That’s really the question. Does the course bring peace to your mind? If it does not, does it at least intensify your search for peace?

      It seems to me that you are asking helpful questions, and that there is value in this, even though it can be destabilizing initially. Remember that the Course is not for everyone! It is not a crime against God or Nature to look for another way.

      But if there is some resonance – if there is a hint inside that this is the way for you – then I would lean into it, keep doing the lessons and reading the text, and just see what happens. For what it’s worth, the clarity that the course was my path, didn’t happen until around lessons 79 and 80. It unfolds differently for all of us.

      Thanks for reaching out, Kesa. Any questions or concerns, just ask!


  16. Sean,
    I have never been a member of any church or religion but if the Catholic Church say that you will go to Hell, then I am surely going with you! I love the teachings of ACIM as they making more sense than anything else I know and they suggest we Love absolutely….Judge not…..and Forgive everything. The Catholic Church could learn much from that alone!
    Now, knowing that the Catholic Church will not forgive me for what I have stated….I just want to state that I forgive them unconditionally and absolutely as an ACIM student ‘for they know not what they do’……Bruce

    1. Thanks for being here and sharing, Bruce. I agree – ACIM was very helpful in terms of clarifying a lot of what traditional religion, perhaps especially the Catholic church, confused and distorted. Love holds everything 🙏🙏

      ~ Sean

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