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A Course in Miracles: The Two Teachers

Few concepts in A Course in Miracles are as practical and essential as that of the two teachers in our mind. One – what ACIM calls the ego – is a clueless hallucination (T-8.I.2:2). The other – the Holy Spirit – is the Voice for God, ending the separation through the plan of Atonement (C-6.1:4, 2:1).

We cannot learn from two teachers, both teaching opposite belief systems, simultaneously. The result of trying to do that is chaos and uncertainty. This is the experience most students of A Course in Miracles know: we hear the Holy Spirit sometimes, the ego most of the time, and we’re trying to pretend that a balance between the two equals Heaven.

It doesn’t: we have to choose. And when we choose wrongly – as we certainly will – we have to choose again. That’s what it means to study and practice A Course in Miracles.

How, then, do we make this choice?

We have to be clear on the consequences of accepting the ego as our teacher. We have to be willing to see the complete and utter mess the ego makes of life, and we have to we see the futility of  it ever changing. The ego does not improve or get better or agree to heed the Holy Spirit. It wants you dead and is trying to kill you as surreptitiously as possible.

So long as we believe that we can somehow negotiate with the ego, we’re not ready to listen to the Holy Spirit. There is no middle ground.

Thus, we have to pay attention to our lives. How do you feel? Right now, in this moment, as you read this post in whatever external circumstances you find yourself, how are you feeling? Don’t focus only on the surface level: I’m happy because I’m an ACIM student, and I’ve got a lovely cup of tea, and there’s a cat on my lap.

Go deeper. If you are in the world – and if you are reading this, you are in it, as I am in it writing – then you are wracked by fear and guilt and sooner or later they are going to make a hash of your life. The cat is going to die, the tea is going to spill, and A Course in Miracles is going to let you down.

Our feelings are a useful barometer, helping us discern what teacher we are listening to.

Your mind and mine can unite in shining your ego away, releasing the strength of God into everything you think and do . . . Watch your mind carefully for any beliefs that hinder its accomplishment, and step away from them. Judge how well you have done this by your own feelings . . . (T-4.IV.8:3, 5-6)

If you are unhappy – if you are burdened by guilt and fear at any level – rest assured that you are in the ego’s classroom, diligently partaking of its lessons.

When we are pleased with how successful we are, or how much spiritual progress we’ve made, or how logical or beautiful our writing is . . . When we are angry at so-and-so for not behaving according to expectations, or at God for allowing floods here and shootings there, or at ourselves for failing to keep promises . . .

Each of those examples – and the thousands like them we all know by heart – are simply the emotional signals that we’re going the wrong way. They are not unlike blips on the radar telling us there is an obstruction ahead. We can heed them. We can turn around. We can listen to another teacher.

If you want understanding and enlightenment you will learn it, because your decision to learn it is the decision to listen to the Teacher Who knows of light, and can therefore teach it to you. There is no limit on your learning because there is no limit on your mind (T-8.III.1:4-5).

The result of taking our place in the Holy Spirit’s classroom is happiness and peace. They are available to us at the drop of a hat. It’s not like traveling and it’s not like we have to take an entrance exam. The Holy Spirit is in your mind right now and will gladly teach you immediately. Your willingness to consider the truth of that sentence is its truth.

So our liberation is always at hand, simply by virtue of what we are in truth.

Tara Singh once wrote (in A Gift for All Mankind) that the course relates us with our eternity.

The Course doesn’t teach or preach because stands on the premise that you are already perfect. Don’t you have difficult believing this? You have already concluded otherwise about yourself. A Course in Miracles questions the conclusions, assumptions and opinions in which you are caught. What could free you from your concepts and beliefs bu the Action of Love? If you are already perfect, then all you need to know is who you are (47).

And Jesus is very clear in the text that we are entitled to the same glory to which God is entitled. “Ask for light and learn that you are light” (T-8.III.1:3).

All we really need to do is listen to the Teacher who knows we are light, and whose teaching is the very “Action of Love.” The Holy Spirit’s voice is quiet and still but impossible to ignore. You already know how to open yourself to it: why not follow it home?

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Cheryl September 18, 2013, 2:12 pm

    Hi Sean,

    Had to think about this for a while….
    For me, perhaps the most significant challenge throughout this process is being gracious with my “self” when I buy into ego’s teachings. So if I’m afraid or jealous, proud or boastful, defensive or angry, the key is not to judge myself, but simply choose again. Not always easy. I tend to beat up on myself less than I used to, but still do it more often than not, which gets in the way when you’re homeward bound (and we are all homeward bound.)

    These two sentences, in particular, resonated with me:
    [Ego] wants you dead and is trying to kill you as surreptitiously as possible.
    Your (spirit’s?) willingness to consider the truth of that sentence is its truth.
    Both say so much and provide a stark contrast between our two teachers.
    Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful essays. They help.

    • Sean Reagan September 18, 2013, 4:05 pm

      Yeah, being gracious with ourselves is hard. And, indeed, the ego is always happy to keep the focus on us by hook or by crook – we’re pleased with what we’ve done, we’re ashamed of what we’ve done. As long as it’s about us then we’re not going to make the essential connection with our brothers and sisters. And that connection is the only way that we’re going to get home! It’s the only way we reach the veil that hides the face of Christ and the only way we can let slip that veil. So somehow we have to make peace with ourselves in a way that lets us shift the focus to the other. That is why I feel service is so important a component of the course – the form of the service can change, of course (and certainly will) but the notion that we are here for each other – really getting that and really accepting it and living it – has to be paramount.

      Thanks for reading, Cheryl. Hope all is well.


  • Sally September 18, 2013, 11:33 pm

    The line that grabbed my ‘mind’, was “…..our feelings are a useful barometer …” and as I awoke this very a.m., I heard a gentle female voice say “…. and you have been down for such a long time.” and I’ve never heard a real or invisible-female voice before while awake, and have no idea what it meant for me. So reading this line/ section, I know I need to pay more attention to my ‘feelings’ and go much deeper with honesty about them. With much appreciation, for your choice of words that are symbols of meaning, and grateful more so for the meaning. And Sean, grateful for the ‘back up’ to my apparent wake up call.

    • Sean Reagan September 19, 2013, 9:56 am

      Thank you, Sally. I’m glad it was helpful. It’s always good to pay attention to our internal voice and follow its guidance. Easier said than done, of course, but that’s the practice. Have a great day!

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