Healing Wrong Perception

One of the salient qualities of the ego is its perennial dissatisfaction. No matter what happens, it wants something else.

This is an example of what A Course in Miracles calls “wrong perception” or “misperception.” Healing it is a major focus of miracles (T-1.I.49:2).

A miracle is a correction introduced into false thinking . . . it acts as a catalyst, breaking up erroneous perception and reorganizing it properly. This places you under the Atonement principle, where perception is healed (T-1.I.37:1-3).

We can observe misperception and its effect in our lives. Our goals are always shifting: we want lots of money and when we get it, we want more. Or we decide what we really want is simplicity. We get the dream job and then discover a newer, better job. Or a new sex partner. Maybe vegetarianism would bring us closer to God.

This kind of thinking can be quite subtle and we are often loathe to admit it. We want to be spiritual and sane, not greedy and insane. But faking happiness and peace are not happiness and peace. They are distractions. We don’t have to do anything for joy and peace – they are the natural result of setting the ego aside.

Letting go of the ego is what heals perception. Absent ego’s judgment, we perceive things as they are. They are no longer impeded by the ego’s goals for it. Our lives do not actually require interpreting but that is all the ego knows how to do: interpret things and assign them meaning and value, over and over. And while this keeps the ego going, for a time, it never works in terms of inner peace and happiness.

Wrong perception is the wish that things be as they are not. The reality of everything is totally harmless, because total harmlessness is the condition of its reality. It is also the condition of your awareness of reality. You do not have to seek reality. It will seek you and find you when you meet its conditions (T-8.IX.2:1-5).

This is very clear! The work is to learn how to do no work; or rather, to see that what we are doing is not working, and so to go slowly and quietly and see what happens when we stop insisting that we know what we’re doing, we know how things work, we know what’s best, et cetera.

The present moment is sufficient. The gift of the holy instant is our touchstone and salvation (T-15.I.15:11-11). The ego is happy to accept these concepts as ideals – it will cheerfully consent to putting them on bumper stickers – but it will resist with all its might if we try to make it center of our living.

So the question becomes: can we make contact with our desire that life – right now, right here – be other than it is? Can we see the action of wrong perception as it happens?

That is, can we ask: what do we wish was different about our life and then allow the answers – and the false logic underlying them – to come to the surface? Can we give attention to them?

And then, seeing it, can we also realize that it is only this desire to change things that brings us to grief? That stands in the way of inner peace?

Peace is simply the relinquishment of the impulse to judge the present and find it wanting. This is the essence of all the early lessons. We don’t understand what we perceive (W-pI.3), what it means (W-pI.10), or how to respond to it (W-pI.12). All we actually see – until the miracle heals out minds – is the meaning that we given everything (W-pI.2).

We come back to the beginning then. We start again in this moment simply by recognizing the ego’s desire to change everything – to look at everything, judge everything, and keep us on a path of shifting standards and perennial dissatisfaction.

The ego professes to be able to make our living happier and more peaceful by making it all different.

But there is another way: we can accept what is given precisely as it is given. We can make it all the same (T-15.XI.10:11). The Peace of God waits only on our acceptance of this gift, and to receive it as such is to heal the means by which it is given.


  1. After I wrote this post the kids and I went out for a walk. It feels more like early Fall than late Summer in our neck of the woods. There are only a handful of daisies left; the newts are few and far between. We saw a great blue heron – they are very elegant in flight. It settled atop a pine tree and watched us. Behind it, the clouds were very pure and beautiful.

    I walked with a little bit of a nag in my thoughts: something was wrong with this post. What was it? Just shy of the old fire pond I saw it. Writing about “the present” is too easy. It’s real enough, in its way, but it’s become too familiar. Too many writers – from the very famous to the considerably-less-than-famous – are running around saying things like “The present moment is sufficient.”

    The question is: how? How do we go from just saying it to actually knowing and experiencing it?

    If you are – as I am – a student of A Course in Miracles, then you know and experience the present (the holy instant) through the lessons. The lessons are so important. It is there that the essence of the text – so poetic, so beautiful, so inspiring – becomes a lived reality. I alluded to this a bit at the end of this post, but really, too often I give short thrift to the workbook. It is just that – a WORK book. It requires that we consistently devote time, energy and attention to the process of undoing. It rescues us from intellectual blather. And its rewards are vast and permanent.

    I have to be vigilant against slipping into the comfort of familiar phrases and ideas. The present is dynamic and active – it’s not necessarily soothing. What went before rarely does it any justice. And I don’t want to just churn out the same old same old spiritual/philosophical tripe, slightly tinted with ACIM.

    If we do the lessons and study the text and manual, then we will have that experience of the present: we will know it as reality, not merely as a good idea. Of course A Course in Miracles is not the only way to do this. There are thousands of others. The course is simply a contemporary way that can be quite powerful when used as directed (ha ha).

    Okay . . . I had to say that.


  2. Sean, I really like that you came back and added to the post. The two statements that most jumped out in your original were “we perceive things as they are” and “the present moment is sufficient”. But you are so right: the present is where we come face to face with the Double-U Oh Are Kay. The present can, from time to time, suck (to hopefully not speak to plainly). Just being in it can be an endurance trial sometimes. It feels nowhere close to sufficient; in fact, quite the opposite.

    So how can the present be our salvation? For me it combines with the other statement that jumped out from your writing- perceiving things as they are. You’re post got me thinking about this connection, and how, until we perceive things as they are, I’m not sure we’re truly in the present. However attentive we are being, if the present moment is horrid and painful, or awkward and shameful, or a hotbed of emotional coals, or perhaps just plain old boring- we’re being attentive to one or another flavors of unreality.

    We’re being “present”… to an image from the past… to a fear of the future… or to a misperception that is currently operating in our mind but which bears no resemblance to the Present. But still, we have to try and be present in order to observe all these reasons for loathing the present (as we misperceive it) as they flower in our awareness, that we may (with some well-informed Help), choose to perceive correctly.

    It is almost naive and simplistic to say “just be present” and everything will be great. That’s like saying “just go be yourself” as you kick an eighteen year old into combat. And you’re right, to burrow through the madness and truly find our way back to the present, and to find peace, we have to do the work of accepting that reality, as it truly is, is a wonderful place to be, even and maybe especially in the face of a present moment we wish we didn’t have to have. This insistence opens the door for us to question what is incorrect about our perceptions, and invites the help we so frequently need.


    1. Thank you Michael. That is eloquently put – and helps clarify what I was trying to say.

      The present, as I am thinking of it here – ineptly I am sure – is askin to the concept of the Holy Instant in ACIM. Our work doesn’t begin in that space or moment but rather ends. In the Holy Instant, there are no worries or fear or guilt because neither the past nor the future intrude.

      The question is how to get to that space: and in my experience, that is where the work enters, and for me, that work revolves around the lessons of A Course in Miracles. We learn slowly that neither the past nor the future are real and so can have no effects.

      I agree completely with you that this is hard: in fact, I think if people are not feeling some pain then they are probably not entirely devoted yet to their practice. Which is okay – we are all moving in our own way and our own time – but still. This is not easy. It is challenging.

      Yet the challenge ends when we realize the present: when we step into its clean and pure fluidity. I don’t mean taking pleasure in poetic langauge about the present, or taking comfort in ideas about the present, both of which have been real issues to me, but rather to literally let go of the past and future and to experience the blessed freedom of existing outside time.

      As you note – and I share your conviction – it is important not to make light of this experience, nor downplay the role that discipline and focus play in bringing it about.

      Thank you again for your help in clarifying! I hope you are well. It’s always good to hear from you.


  3. Sean and Michael, that raised so much good food for thought. Thank you. I save and read these messages over again when I need help or am seeking a little extra nourishment.

    So, it’s not a coincidence that Chapter 8 is where I’ve been spending my time this week. My recent practice has been to stay present and see my brother as he truly is rather than how the ego interprets him. Not easy stuff. I’m learning that it’s not my job to correct him (incredibly hard habit to break), and to recognize that I am 100% responsible for the messages my brother gives me. It’s a tough thing to practice and accept, but the reward is peace, which is a powerful motivator. One helpful visual for me is Moses and the Red Sea parting – the threatening waves on either side being the past and future, and the safe peaceful place being the present path under my feet. When things are hard, and I need peace, I’ve found that staying in the moment, instant by instant, is the only thing that provides relief.

    As I’ve struggled painfully in relationship with my brother lately, like a woman tied in ropes that tighten each time I try to move, it finally dawned on me, with gratefulness, something very obvious. This is the hard WORK! The fact that things have gone south in my life is the answer to the prayers for guidance I’ve been requesting – to go deeper in undoing. This troubling situation is an in-my-face opportunity, like no other, to live my practice. I have gone down to a deeper level of exposing the ego and now living peacefully requires concentrated vigilance and acute attention. I am pleased that this is the case, even as the ego rages. (Michael, perhaps this is the way a Course kid like me can “be myself” in a combat zone. Ha. I loved your metaphor.) In a way, I’ve removed my hand from over my eyes and now I see a very bright light through the crack in the door of reality ahead. I know that peace in the midst of the storm is possible, and it makes me even more willing to do this work with all my heart.

    I am so blessed to have found your blog Sean. It really helps. I’m looking forward to your newsletter soon.

    Much love,

    1. Hi Claudia,

      I’m glad the site is helpful. And yes – absolutely – there are amazing people who share here. I am very grateful!

      Family is such a challenge, or can be. There is a wonderful concept in the Manual for Teachers that talks about the different levels of teaching. The third level of teaching takes place in relationships that – once they are formed – last a lifetime. Ideal candidates for those learning relationships are family! Spouses, parents, siblings, kids . . .

      These are teaching-learning situations in which each person is given a chosen learning partner who presents him with unlimited opportunities for learning . . . They may even be quite hostile to each other for some time, and perhaps for life. Yet should they decide to learn it, the perfect lesson is before them, and can be learned. And if they decide to learn that lesson, they become the saviors of the teacher who falter and may even seem to fail (M-3.5:2, 5-7)

      So I am not being melodramatic when I say that by being attentive to this challenging relationship, and bringing all your willingness to practice forgiveness, that you are doing great work on behalf of all of us. You will wake up, yes, but you will bring us all with you. That’s how this works.

      It is so easy to forget but it’s true: we are in this together. We are one mind remembering it is One and so your work is mine and Michael’s is yours and on and on and on until at last there are no separate others out there at all . . .

      Thank you, Claudia. I’m glad you’re here.

      ~ Sean

  4. Hi Sean,

    Thanks for writing this post. I agree, it is very easy to just talk about “being present”, or the present being sufficient. Yet, I think it is much more than just being sufficient. It is essential.

    I’ve read many times course students paying lip service to forgiveness “ACIM style”, and yet in the same breath say that being in the Now is fine, but it is not ACIM. I find that unfortunate, because I believe that the forgiveness that ACIM is trying to teach us is made up of many aspects such as responsibility, honesty, mindfulness, being present, coming to the Holy Spirit, Atonement etc.

    The course tells us in the early chapters that we let our minds wander and passively condone our mind’s mis-creations. It also tells us that sometime we are aware of our thoughts and sometimes not and that we do not guard our thoughts carefully. Looking at these statements, we can see that the mind doesn’t actually wander in location, but in time. Either looking to the past or imagining the future, but overlooking the Now. The mind is like on a default setting, seemingly running its script without our full awareness of what is happening. Sometimes our awareness falls onto these “autonomous” thoughts and we catch ourselves. Often saying, “Wow, I was daydreaming”, or “I was lost in thought?” I find that sometimes, I’m almost like hypnotized, passively condoning the negative stream of thoughts that are passing through the mind. I then snap out of it and become the awareness behind the thoughts. As I step back and not identify with my thoughts or latch onto them, I find that I automatically become present.

    The course tells us that it would take a miracle to consistently be able to guard our thoughts and that we are not used to miracle minded thinking, but we can be trained to think that way.

    To do so, we must fully recognize the power of thought, so that we can avoid the mind’s miscreations. But the mind’s miscreations can only be of the projected past or the future. It cannot be when the mind is FULLY present. Only when the mind wanders while what is happening within the present moment.

    I absolutely love what the course says about the Now/Present/Holy Instant. I’d like to share some of them here. For I believe this is an absolutely essential component in our healing. As the course says, our mind’s miscreations (of projected past and future) will create a circular process that would hardly foster the time collapse for which a miracle was intended.

    “The peace of God passeth your understanding only in the past. Yet here it is, and you can understand it now”.~ACIM

    “’Now’ has no meaning to the ego.”~ACIM

    “For the present is forgiveness.”~ACIM

    “His (The Holy Spirit’s) emphasis is therefore on the only aspect of time that can extend to the infinite, for now is the closest approximation of eternity that this world offers. It is in the reality of ‘now’, without past or future, that the beginning of the appreciation of eternity lies. For only ‘now’ is here, and only ‘now’ presents the opportunities for the holy encounters in which salvation can be found.” ~ACIM

    “If you accept your function in the world of time as healing, you will emphasize only the aspect of time in which healing can occur. For healing cannot be accomplished in the past and must be accomplished in the present to release the future. This interpretation ties the future to the present and extends the present rather than the past. But if you interpret your function as destruction, you will lose sight of the present and hold on to the past to ensure a destructive future. And time will be as you interpret it, for of itself it is nothing.”~ACIM

    “Would you impose your idle wishes on the present, and hope to find salvation now?”~ACIM

    “Belief in sin arouses fear, and like its cause, is looking forward, looking back, but overlooking what is here and now. Yet only here and now its cause must be, if its effects already have been judged as fearful. And in overlooking this, is it protected and kept separate from healing. For a miracle is now. It stands already here, in present grace, within the only interval of time that sin and fear have overlooked, but which is all there is to time.”~ACIM

    “No change can be made in the present if its cause is past. Only the past is held in memory as you make use of it, and so it is a way to hold the past against the now.”~ACIM

    “This is a sacrifice of now, which could not be the cost the Holy Spirit asks for what He gave without a cost at all.”~ACIM

    “ Now is the time of salvation, for now is the release from time.”~ACIM

    “The Holy Spirit teaches thus: There is no hell. Hell is only what the ego has made of the present” and that “The Holy Spirit would undo all of this now. Fear is not of the present, but only of the past and future, which do not exist. There is no fear in the present when each instant stands clear and separated from the past, without its shadow reaching out into the future. 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. No darkness is remembered, and immortality and joy are now.”~ACIM

    The Holy Spirit leads as steadily to Heaven as the ego drives to hell. For the Holy Spirit, Who knows only the present, uses it to undo the fear by which the ego would make the present useless.”~ACIM

    “ Take this very instant, now, and think of it as all there is of time.”~ACIM

    “Start now to practice your little part in separating out the holy instant. You will receive very specific instructions as you go along. To learn to separate out this single second and begin to experience it as timeless, is to begin to experience yourself as not separate”~ACIM

    “The Atonement teaches you how to escape forever from everything that you have taught yourself in the past, by showing you only what you are now”.~ACIM

    “The Holy Spirit can indeed make use of memory, for God Himself is there. Yet this is not a memory of past events, but only of a present state. You are so long accustomed to believe that memory holds only what is past, that it is hard for you to realise it is a skill that can remember now”.~ACIM

    Eric: There is a wonderful line in the course about the Holy Instant and what keeps us from continually experiencing it.

    You could live forever in the holy instant, beginning now and reaching to eternity, but for a very simple reason. Do not obscure the simplicity of this reason, for if you do, it will be only because you prefer not to recognize it and not to let it go. The simple reason, simply stated, is this: The holy instant is a time in which you receive and give perfect communication. This means, however, that it is a time in which your mind is open, both to receive and give. It is the recognition that all minds are in communication. It therefore seeks to change nothing, but merely to accept everything. ~ACIM

    Eric: I find this to be a powerful passage, and when I think about it deeply, it is so obviously true. Imagine, not resisting the present? Not trying to change it with the rant, “I want it thus!”, but merely accepting the moment as it is. How often do we resist the present, not even realizing it? It doesn’t even have to be what we would consider to be terrible moments. I find often times that I catch myself unconsciously resisting the most mundane moments. Yet it is only the present that the Holy Spirit knows and the only aspect of time the Holy Spirit can use.

    We tell ourselves we need to practice forgiveness, yet we/I can tend to resist the very moment in which forgiveness is. As the course tells us, the present IS forgiveness and a miracle is now.

    There is a passage in the course that has been interpreted a few different ways. It says:

    “What you need to learn now is that only infinite patience can produce immediate effects. This is the way in which time is exchanged for eternity. Infinite patience calls upon infinite love, and by producing results now, it renders time unnecessary.” ~ACIM-Original Edition

    Eric: Infinite patience can produce immediate effects. To me, this is like another way of saying drop all resistance to what is, and peace will be experienced. But as the course tells us,

    The goal of truth has further practical advantages. If the situation is used for truth and sanity, its outcome must be peace. And this is quite apart from what the outcome is. If peace is the condition of truth and sanity and cannot be without them, where peace is they must be. Truth comes of itself. If you experience peace, it is because the truth has come to you, and you will see the outcome truly, for deception cannot prevail against you. And you will recognize the outcome because you are at peace. Here again, you see the opposite of the ego’s way of looking, for the ego believes the situation brings the experience. The Holy Spirit knows that the situation is as the goal determines it and is experienced according to the goal. ~ACIM

    Eric: In the FIP Edition, the section that I just quoted the above is called, ” Setting the Goal”, but in the Original Edition, the section is more aptly named, “Practical Forgiveness.”


    1. Hey Eric.

      Thanks . . . yes, this is a big issue in the course and course community. I agree. Thank you for adding those wonderful ACIM passages to help flesh it all out. I really have nothing to add: I agree with your perspective on this. It is a tremendous challenge and yet in many ways it is the whole kit and caboodle. When we get this, we get IT.

      It’s funny – I have been thinking alot lately for different reasons about the way words work and don’t work – and I’ve been kvetching a bit about how hard it is to talk about this stuff but your comment reminds me that it’s actually relatively easy to TALK about it – it’s the application (as Tara Singh would say) or realization or practice or whatever that is difficult.

      And I like that quick dig at the end about which edition we’re all reading . . . . 🙂

      Hope you’re having a great weekend! Talk to you soon –


      1. and p.s., if you haven’t given Bohm a try – I know you’re juggling a lot in terms of study/practice – I think you would find him very welcome. He was really thinking about these same issues albeit from another perspective.

  5. LOL,

    I didn’t intentionally mean that as a dig. Only that I prefer the title of the Original Edition over the FIP Edition. I read from the FIP, Original, and the UrText, depending on my mood.

    Though for me, I think I prefer the Original Edition. It feels much more personable and there is a lot more information that explains some of the more ambiguous passages in the FIP version. There’s been more than a few times reading the Original Edition, where a somewhat confusing line in the FIP version all of a sudden becomes very clear with the additional sentences explaining further. Also, for me at least, the FIP version feels a bit cold and clinical in comparison.

    Though I do have two hard copies of the FIP version, hard and soft cover. I also have it on Kindle on my phone, and have the entire combined edition, including the supplements on my iPod. I also have two hard copies of the Original Edition. Hard cover and pocket edition text. It’s also on Kindle on my phone and I have the text on my iPod. LOL, I only have one lonely hard copy of the UrText.

    It’s funny you mention Bohm. I happen to be reading the book, “On Dialogue” right now. I recently found his book “Quantum Theory” at Good Will for a dollar. I haven’t even tried to tackle that one yet, LOL.

    I also didn’t realize it, but I have a few recordings on my iPod that I have been listening to for a couple of years now, between Krishnamurti and Bohm. It didn’t click until recently that Bohm is the person Krishnamurti is having the dialogue with. I also recently found 4 recordings of Bohm on iTunes for a dollar each that I have been listening to as I do the chores around the house. If you haven’t already, you might want to check them out. They’re cheap and good.

    Take care,


    1. I am reading the 1975 edition put out by FIP. It is quite a joy, actually. It doesn’t have the citation system in it and so it feels a bit more relaxed somehow. Less presumptuous maybe?

      That is a lot of copies you have!

      I have not listened much to Bohm. I tend to learn better reading. Bohm really turned some lights on for me, but a lot of his work remains hard to tap for me. The dialogues with Krishnamurti and “On Dialogue” have been most helpful.

      Thanks for signing up for the newsletter, Eric. Talk to you soon –


  6. LOL, I know, kind of an ACIM junkie I guess. You should see all the books I have of various authors about the course. I had to put a lot of them in a box under the bed, because there isn’t enough room on my book shelves. Not to mention that I tend to stay away from course authors these days. Though I did recently break my general “rule” and read Tara Singh’s, “The Future of Mankind” and “Nothing Real Can Be Threatened”.

    It’s interesting that you brought up that you learn better reading. Remember that book I mentioned called, “No Enemies Within”? In the book, the author mentions that a good teacher needs to realize that no person learns the same way and trying to teach a one size fits all approach is destined to fail. I think the course mentions this too a few times. One in the statement that the course is a highly individualized curriculum and at least one more time in the Pamphlet for Psychotherapy.

    In the book, the author speaks about learning visually, auditory, and/or kinesthetically. The author feels it’s important for the person to find out where their strengths are to help the person along the way. She gives examples of clients who felt stuck for sometime because their counselor/therapist was emphasizing one way, while their “strength” was in another way. Once they were able to draw upon their strength, the client felt they were progressing much faster and with less resistance.

    LOL, my issue is, I’m not sure which way I learn best. I love to read, but I also love to listen to books lectures. I guess it kind of depends.

    Speaking of listening to books, here is something interesting that happened to me not too long ago while I was doing yard work and listening to music on my iPod.

    As I was working in the yard, two, what I would call “sketchy” characters walked by slowly. I watched them as I was mowing my lawn and saw them walk down to the end of the block and just sit on the corner. I thought it odd considering I live in the suburbs and this was not a main street. Considering that there has been some crime in my neighborhood lately, I continued to watch them suspiciously, with of course a story running through my mind about the situation.

    As some minutes went by, they got up and continued on, but the story in my mind continued on. I continued to mow the lawn on pretty much auto pilot as the music played in the background of my awareness as the story I was playing had my attention. All of a sudden in the middle of a Neil Young song, my iPod suddenly stopped.

    A piano tune began to play which I immediately recognized as one of the supplements of ACIM. I thought it odd, and then the narrator said, “Forgiveness for Salvation”. I felt that I should pay close attention to what I was about to listen to, so I stopped my yard work, sat down, and listened to this section. When it finished I just sat there in silence. Again this was odd, because there are other sections after this one and usually the iPod would just continue on to the next section automatically, but not this time. I took out my iPod and noticed that it was still on the music I was listening to.

    After listening to this section though, I felt much lighter. I let go of the story I was telling myself and I put the music back on, feeling a sense of peace. But something even stranger happened. As I continued to do yard work, 3 different cars with people drove by throughout this time honking and waving and smiling. I waved back each time, but the strange thing is, I didn’t know any of these people. I didn’t recognize the people or the cars. This might not sound too strange, but I don’t recall this ever happening in all the years I have done yard work at my house. Everyone seemed to be so friendly.

    Also, it took me much longer to do my yard work, because many of the people that were walking by stopped to engage me in conversation. This is strange too, because again, in all the years I have done yard work, maybe one stranger might say a few words, but this time, I spoke to many people I didn’t know and had some good conversations, meeting new people.

    Some people may take the incident with my iPod stopping the music and starting an ACIM section as a Twilight Zone moment, but I know better ;-).


  7. P.S.

    Something I wanted to share about the UrText. I think I’ve mentioned about my own resistance to the course and my skepticism of its origins before.

    I am very skeptical of “channeled” material and in fact, I have not read anything else channeled that I found authentic. Much of it is very human and usually I can pinpoint where these “higher beings” have gained their wisdom. Usually from other authors and books. There maybe some insight or cleverness in the book, but for the most part, it’s not very extraordinary.

    After consciously resisting reading ACIM, when I first bought ACIM, it was shrink wrapped, so I couldn’t preview it. It’s probably a good thing, because if I had read the preface at the bookstore, I most likely would have put the book down.

    Needless to say, I was very upset in reading the preface. In fact, I put the book down for some time, angry that I had been duped. After calmed down, I decided to at least try and read some of the book as I spent over 30 dollars on it! The most I spent on a book that was not a school textbook!

    What I began to read was something that seemed profound and important, even though it made my head swim. Not only that, I was reading a thought system that seemed beyond human thinking. This was much different that all the other “channeled” material I have read/skimmed through.

    Yet, I was still skeptical and started researching ACIM. I read all about MKULTRA, and all that. I read, “Absence from Felicity”, and watched YouTube videos about Helen stories, etc.

    But it wasn’t until I read the UrText that a lot of my skepticism fell away. Most channeled material is fairly formulaic and cookie cutter. Higher beings come to the person is some way. After underwhelming “shock” of the visitation, the person readily accepts these “higher beings”. Higher beings share information. Person writes it down. Person then writes a book, gets it published, goes on to write more books and do lectures or gatherings of some kind and makes a pretty good living off of the higher beings “wisdom”.

    Yet Helen’s experience was much different than that and this is something that can be seen reading the UrText early chapters, and we must remember the premise that the UrText was never really meant to be seen. In the UrText, there is a lot of questioning and arguing by Helen as to the legitimacy of the “Voice”. She is obviously not readily accepting what is happening. The “Voice” often pleaded with her and corrected her in the early chapters. From stories told, she felt she was losing her mind. She even stopped dictating for a while, until the feeling to start again became too overwhelming.

    Helen was always ambiguous about the course and in her last years, cursed the book as ruining her. According to Willis Harman, she said to him that she knew the course was true, but she didn’t believe it. She also pretty kept herself in the background and did not promote herself as the author of the course in the attempt to make a living off of it.

    Putting these pieces together, I get a sense of genuineness about the course. I’m not sure why, but reading her arguments and questions in the UrText feels legitimate of someone trying to grapple and make sense of an extraordinary experience and her own skepticism. Maybe it is because I imagine this is how I would react to a similar situation.

    But I think if someone is feeling resistance to the course due to their own skepticism, I would recommend reading the UrText. It’s a fascinating look into the course and the scribe of it.


    1. Hi Eric,

      I see the course as a writing project that Helen undertook. The clarity with which she heard “the voice” is unusual, but most writers I know – including myself – are perfectly familiar with that process. There are simply times when the words are given. What was unusual about Helen was the utter clarity with which she heard the voice, and the degree to which she was able to sustain contact with it. That process is much shakier in most other writers.

      When I say that, people sometimes feel I am demeaning the channeled quality of the work – I am not. I don’t care that much how it got here. I find those questions distracting. It seems clear to me that Helen was a deeply spiritual woman who also read quite deeply and was able to integrate her academic & contemporary knowledge with a more timeless experience of Christ or Brahman or whatever one wants to call it.

      The urtext does reflect the early struggles with the writing. And in some cases, it does help clarify certain ideas – largely in terms of specificity. But that is a difficult balance to strike: the course aims at teaching us to generalize rather than become more and more specific. So I appreciate the inclination to edit it accordingly.

      Finally, I think it is important that both Helen and Bill sought to edit the work themselves – I am unaware of a good argument that they wanted the urtext to be public. I think some of the material in it is very personal and I respect that they would have preferred it not be available to everyone. That’s a separate issue from whether the FIP edition is better or worse – I think a good case can be made for each of the available editions. I am simply saying that the scribes seemed pretty clear that the early form was not to be the public form.

      But of course this is one of those endless discussions. You know because we have discussed this – and related – issues that I believe we get what we need. I tend to leave it at that. If people want to read the urtext, and if it is helpful, then why not? It reminds of Krishnamurti’s response to the student who asked about becoming a vegetarian: do it or don’t it, but get on with it.

      Thanks, as always, for sharing here. I am grateful for your insights & knowledge.


  8. Hi Sean,

    I’m not sure that I understand what you said here.

    Sean: The urtext does reflect the early struggles with the writing. And in some cases, it does help clarify certain ideas – largely in terms of specificity. But that is a difficult balance to strike: the course aims at teaching us to generalize rather than become more and more specific. So I appreciate the inclination to edit it accordingly.

    Eric: When the course says that it aims to generalize, to me this is not talking about making clear statements obscure. It is saying that the course is attempting to train our mind to hear only one voice and look to forgiveness rather than condemnation on a consistent level or as a universal applications to all situations (consistent happy learners).

    I think MLK Jr.’s quote sums this up nicely, ” Forgiveness is not just an occasional act, but a permanent attitude.”

    This passage in the course from the section “Setting the Goal/ Practical Forgiveness also speaks about this process.

    The practical application of the Holy Spirit’s purpose is extremely simple, but it is unequivocal. In fact in order to be simple, it must be unequivocal. The simple is merely what is easily understood, and for this it is apparent that it must be clear. The setting of the Holy Spirit’s goal is general. Now He will work with you to make it specific, for application is specific. There are certain very specific guidelines He provides for any situation, but remember that you do not yet realize their universal application. Therefore it is essential at this point to use them in each situation separately, until you can more safely look beyond each situation in an understanding far broader than you now possess. ~ACIM

    Eric: I’m not sure how this applies when speaking in context of studying the text of the course. After all, the course is just that, a course. And like most other courses, we start with learning about new concepts and ideas, since this is what words are trying to convey. And when learning about new concepts and ideas, I think it is good to have a clear foundational understanding of what the concepts are trying to point to.

    I’m not sure how helpful it is to edit a passage that was originally easily understandable into a passage that then becomes ambiguous and often times confusing to the reader. Especially considering that much of the time the material edited was not personal. I don’t think this is what the course is referring to when it speaks of generalizing.

    I can only speculate that this was the reason that “The Voice” wanted Bill to edit the course, due to Helen having a habit of over editing just about everything. The HLC Edition was already a pretty heavy abridgement of the UrText, leaving out the more personal information and about 40,000 words, as the FIP Edition is an abridgement of the HLC Edition, leaving out 10,000 words and changing some terms.

    I don’t think we should clutch the words as Truth, but like any course, there should be a foundation to help guide us through the curriculum.

    I’m not trying to say that the FIP Edition cannot do that. In fact, that would be an absurd statement, especially considering I have more copies in one form or another of the FIP version than the rest. I’m only saying that I personally have found reading the Original Edition and UrText helped clear up certain passages that were somewhat ambiguous. Yet, the “danger” is, they can also raise more questions. Especially if we’re filtering the course through the lens of what some course teachers tell it is.

    In the big scheme of things, it is not all that important about what edition one reads. Though people will most likely favor a certain edition if they are exposed to all of them. I think certain terms that are only slightly different in wording may speak to one reader more than another, due to the ideas and connotations of the wording that the passage has for the reader.

    No, I don’t think the UrText was meant to be public. In fact, “The Voice” makes a few remarks that the message is for them and should be left out in when it is edited. Though there is a lot left out that was not at all personal and IMO very helpful to the reader. Much of which was still left in in the HLC Edition.

    I will say though from reading the UrText, Wapnick’s book about Helen called, “Absence From Felicity”, and Carol Howe’s book about Bill Thetford called, “Never Forget to Laugh”, Howe’s and Wapnick’s books were much more personally revealing than the UrText.

    Take care,


    1. Thanks, Eric.

      A lot of what was edited out was specific examples – Helen shopping for a coat, for example. And I think that cutting is helpful and necessary given the course’s focus on generalizing. That’s all. Personally, I find the ideas easier to understand when they are not linked to specific examples from Helen’s or Bill’s experience.

      But that is just my preference!

      Beyond that, I really am not interested in holding a brief for one edition or another. In general, I think people should read and study the edition that is most helpful; clearly that varies from student to student.

      Perhaps it is the lawyer in me – particularly the lawyer who opted to leave the law rather than keep on arguing – but I am wary of these conversation which too often resemble or devolve into debates. They create the impression that there is a right or a wrong answer, or that we need to be able to intellectually defend our reading choice.

      There is no right or wrong here – only helpful or not helpful. And that changes from reader to reader. And given how intimate one’s experience of the course can be, I think it’s important to just keep as large a space as possible in which to experience it. No defense necessary!


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