The question of whether Arten and Pursah are real often comes up in relation to questions about whether Gary Renard is a fraud. His writing revolves around Arten and Pursah’s teaching; his ACIM practice is intimately connected to their appearance and his relationship with them. Is it possible he made them up? And what happens if he did?
In general, I have no qualms about recommending Renard’s work to course students. Whatever drama Arten and Pursah present, their perspective on the course is traditional and – salty language aside – unremarkable. You can get pretty much the same thing from Ken Wapnick, albeit without spiritual histrionics. What works for you?
Also in general, I tend to shy away from characterizing course-related material in terms of “right” and “wrong” – or, in this case, “real and “unreal.” Rather, there are only helpful and unhelpful teachers and books and approaches. Again, it is a question of what works for a given student at a given point in their learning. Gary was helpful to me in the first year or so of my study; after that, not so much.
But to me that speaks to the helpfulness of his work, not its “rightness” or “wrongness.”
A Course in Miracles suggests that those of us who want conflict are going to find it. Diving into the question of whether Arten and Pursah are real or unreal is a good example of that inclination. Why does it matter? What about your ACIM practice will change based on one or the other answer?
As I mentioned, I read The Disappearance of the Universe early in my studies of A Course in Miracles. Someone I trusted lent it to me. And I loved it. It was easy to read, it was reassuring, it broke down some of the harder metaphysical ideas and concepts and made them accessible.
Yet as I dove deeper into the course, I started to stumble into a lot of the conflict that swirls around Gary. There’s the whole question of whether Arten and Pursah are real or just clever marketing devices. There’s his debates with other course teachers. There’s various other fantastic claims that he makes. There’s the way in which he hawks longevity vitamins.
I am not immune to conflict! I also like to be right and – by being right – to prove other people wrong. So I indulged that drama for a while.
But here’s the thing. At the same time I was given Renard’s book, I was also given Tara Singh’s book Nothing Real Can Be Threatened. And that book – its gravity, its clarity, its grounded reassurance, its love – literally entered my being as if it was breathing me. I was lifted by Tara Singh. I was changed.
And as Tara Singh’s teaching took hold and directed my learning, Renard’s work and the conflict that surrounded it just . . . faded. I wasn’t interested because it wasn’t helpful.
I felt strongly then – and still feel now – that we have to take what works and not lose sleep when something doesn’t. In A Course in Miracles Jesus reminds us to ask of everything: what is it for? (T-4.V.6:7-9) If it’s not taking you closer to Heaven and God – as measured by your happiness – then drop it and move on.
If we want to be distracted by conflict, we can be. But there is another way.
Of course, this does not answer the question: are Arten and Pursah real or fake?
For me, Arten and Pursah are real creations of Gary Renard by which he brings forth his understanding and practice of A Course in Miracles. I do not believe they are real the way my wife or my dog or my horse is real. I understand that reasonable and thoughtful course students disagree with me. I understand that Gary Renard disagrees.
And I have no interest in fighting with them over that. Again, if it works for you, then use. And if it doesn’t, then don’t worry about it.
Very few of us are called to attend the learning of anyone other than our own self. It is not my job to protect A Course in Miracles from other teachers, be they Marianne Williamson or Gary Renard or Liz Cronkhite.
It is okay to say “no” to a course teacher. I do this with Gary but only after I said yes for a while. I said “yes” to Tara Singh and have yet to need to renounce or amend that embrace. I said “not yet” to Liz Cronkhite and then “yes” and then “no.”
My point is that you are allowed to take any position you like with respect to Arten and Pursah, and the position you take will be the one that is most helpful to you at this stage of your learning. That might change with time and it might not.
When we find ourselves investing in conflict, it can be helpful to ask what the conflict is for? Is it deepening our forgiveness practice? Is it helping us understand parts of A Course in Miracles that are complex? Is it supporting our brothers and sisters in their study?
Or is it distracting us, by feeding an ego narrative that we are right where somebody else is wrong?
Tara Singh spoke often about the “lovelessness” of suggesting that we “get it” and others don’t. In general, it is not a helpful place to be.
If a text or teacher is helpful, then great. Make use of it. Share it. Learn from it. We are going to get where we’re going anyway, and the Holy Spirit and Jesus can and will use everything that comes along to help us remember that we never left our home in God, and that the way to remember is to extend love to our brothers and sisters. We can count on that. That is dependable.
Finally, I note that the course teaches us early on that whatever meaning something has, we have given it that meaning (e.g., W-pI.2). Whatever value we perceive in the world, be it positive or negative, we put it there.
In Disappearance of the Universe, Arten and Pursah make the following observation with respect to their reality.
It’s not necessary for your readers to believe in us. Our words can benefit people whether they have trust in us or not. It’s the Holy Spirit’s message that matters – not those who appear to be bringing it.
This is a good point! And goes very much to the question of helpfulness. By all means ask yourself whether Arten and Pursah are real. Look into it. Find the answer that works for you. But remember always that what informs your seeking and learning is love, and that the form love takes – be it Gary Renard and his ascended masters, Tara Singh and his service-oriented teaching, or Liz Cronkhite and her coach-based teaching model – will vary and shift, without ever diminishing the love that is the ground of our shared identity.
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Brilliant, helpful, extremely timely. Thanks.
And I can only say “Amen” also. I have been trying to follow ACIM as well as I can (and I do feel as if I am coming from a very bad, a very low, place in starting), and Renard has been very helpful. Also, he influenced me to check out Kenneth Wapnick. I will be checking on Liz Cronkhite soon. Thank you.
You’re welcome, JC. Glad it was helpful!
I am glad I stumbled into this article. I started to read The Disappearance of the Universe and I had an awkward moment learning about the existence (or not) of Arten and Pursah. But besides that, it seems the book serves the purpose of helping me understand the concepts of ACIM. So, I’ll keep reading it! thanks!
Thanks for sharing Luciana 🙂 It’s good to stay close to what helps, and if Gary’s writing and thinking is helpful and clarifying, then read it with a clean conscience! If a time comes in the future when you need to question it or move on to another teacher, then that will be okay, too. We are in God’s hands.
Enjoyed your article. I think that Arten and Pursah are fiction and it is important to discern the truth with them so you can also discern the truth of their words which are also part fiction.
Thank you JJ. I appreciate your thoughts.