How Does A Course in Miracles Define Love?

New and experienced students alike often ask: how does A Course in Miracles define love? The answer is both simple and revealing, and an understanding of it can greatly facilitate our ability to practice and learn from the Course.

The Introduction to the Text includes the cautionary note that A Course in Miracles does not “aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught” (T-in.1:5).

It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite (T-In.1:6-8).

We can say, then, that love cannot be taught – its meaning lies beyond our limited capacity to understand – and it is also all-encompassing. It is everywhere and in all things.

The introduction goes on to point out (in language that truly does summarize ACIM) that:

Nothing real can be threatened.

Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God (T-in.2:2-4).

Thus, we can say that Love and God are synonymous in the course, and that a real appreciation of this fact is not something that we can grasp merely by intellect alone. As Helen Schucman herself pointed out, the course is meant to be lived. This includes its understanding of Love. Thus, coming to an appreciate of Love as the course frames it is more a function of willingness and insight than reasoning something out. Love is given to us – it is already here. What A Course in Miracles does is teach us how to get rid of all the psychological and metaphysical baggage that obstructs our awareness of this simple truth.

The course also distinguishes between love with a capital “L” – what we have been talking about so far in this post – and love with a lower-case “l,” which is the special sort of love that we tend to feel for spouses, close friends, good meals and artists and so forth. Special love is always premised on individual tastes and wants and it always represents the ego’s efforts to get, which is how it sustains itself. 

The Love of God – in which one remembers a peace that surpasses understanding – is both for everybody and from everybody. It doesn’t know separation – of self from God or you from me or anthing.

Thus, Love as A Course in Miracles contemplates it, includes a contemplation of unity as the fundament of our shared existence. 

It is simple to say “God is Love” or “Love is one.” But to practice that on a daily basis is challenging. Most of us do not simply snap our fingers and wake up in Heaven. We take one step forward, half a step to the side and then two or three steps backward. Yet the call of Love drives both our willingness and desire to continue practicing the course – reading the text, tending to the daily lessons, studying the manual, going to study groups, writing or teaching. It is Love that invites us to remember it, and in remembering it, to extend it.

Love is what we remember, however dimly. Its call has not been totally obliterated. Somewhere in the twisted hatred of ego, a thread of melody – a hint of the great Love that we are in truth – echoes and re-echoes, ever calling us back to Itself. 

Like what you’re reading? Consider signing up for my weekly newsletter. No sales, no spam. Just thoughtful writing about love and A Course in Miracles.


  1. The book seems to entertain the subconscious! What else did Jesus right? Did he write the workbook.?

    1. Hi Tim,

      Thank you for sharing. I haven’t read this old post in many years; I appreciate you bringing it back to my attention.

      I do not assert – not in 2013 when I wrote this post, nor now – that Jesus “wrote” A Course in Miracles. Helen Schucman wrote it, projecting responsibility for the text onto her personal projection of Jesus. It is still possible for course students to have a meaningful (i.e., helpful) relationship with the material.

      “Jesus” is the narrator, however, and so I refer to him as such. In doing so – at least in 2013 – I was tracking the writing of my two main teachers of the course, Tara Singh and Ken Wapnick. However, I don’t find that mode of reference helpful anymore as it leads to confusion and argument. 🙂

      I’m not sure what you mean by “subconscious.” The distinction the course draws tends to be more along the lines of intellectual/spiritual rather than conscious/subconscious. If you’d like to clarify your point, feel free.

      Thanks again for reading and sharing.

      ~ Sean

  2. I consider Helen the Scribe, not the Author. So, Jesus did “write” the Course. Technicalities, perhaps, but it is an important distinction. Helen was the conduit through which Jesus “talked”. 🙂

    1. Thank you for sharing Amy!

      In a sense, all that matters is that we find an interpretation of the course that allows us to forgive our and everyone else’s guilt. If it helps to think of Jesus as the author and Helen as the scribe, then great! And if somebody needs to adopt a different origin story for the material, that’s great too!

      But it doesn’t feel that way, does it? It feels like we have to take a stand. In fact, it feels like the stance is sort of already taken and we are just aligning ourselves with it. That’s why we always feel “right” and, beyond that, “righteous.” That’s why I have to write a post in which I say – none too subtly but politely – that Helen, not Jesus, is the author. And you have to write a comment saying – politely! – that actually Jesus is the author and Helen the scribe.

      I think that’s okay! But it’s also helpful to own the fear, which is to say, to see clearly the way we are making an assertion in which one of our brothers or sisters has to be wrong (or confused or misguided, or . . . ). Why would we do that if we did not secretly fear that we are wrong, confused, misguided, et cetera?

      In the end, the distinction – between who wrote the course, between who is right about who wrote the course, between a part and apart – dissolves. But its dissolution seems to require that we give attention to what appears to sustain it in its fragmented state.

      There is no Helen and there is no Jesus – much less a Sean or an Amy – and yet here we are, rubbernecking at the very site of the separation, each missing the one who could heal the whole damn mess in an instant.

      Thank you again for sharing!


      1. Your last paragraph…pretty much sums it all up and makes more sense than anything I have read about “truth” thus far.

          1. Sean, the same night I wrote this comment to you I was going through “it” with the course which was initially brought on by misunderstanding how it’s to be read and the definitions of the words. Long story I’d love to share with you. After my comment I spent the next several hours reading your daily log. Holy shit. Your writing is raw and beautiful and also made my heart ache. When I was finished reading your log I took a major step back from myself and started back at the beginning of the book with a different perspective. After 2 years of craziness it fell into place. We humans do love to complicate things. I feel led to share with you. Could we get on a zoom call when you have some time?

          2. Hi Elizabeth,

            Thanks for the kind words! I’m glad the writing resonates for you. We DO love to complicate things – but we are also good at simplifying and disentangling, if we choose to be. It’s a daily practice to remember that, at least for me.

            I would be happy to talk with you. I can do either Zoom or Google Meet, whatever is easier. I’ll send you and email and we’ll figure out what works best.

            ~ Sean

      2. “There is no Helen and there is no Jesus – much less a Sean or an Amy – and yet here we are, rubbernecking at the very site of the separation, each missing the one who could heal the whole damn mess in an instant.”

        Thank-you, thank-you.

  3. We are one. Jesus, Helen, you and I. We are one mind as God created us. So again Jesus, Helen you or I only matters to the principle of separation. A gap which the Holy Spirit has been assigned to close.

    1. In the penultimate sense, yes. We are one. In the local sense – the still-in-the-dream sense – we are separate and learning we are one. Those of us studying and teaching A Course in Miracles – with possible rare exceptions – are still in the dream and still learning. In that space, it can still be helpful to have conversations about who wrote what and when and why and so forth.

      But I agree that oneness is the “outcome,” so to speak. And I agree – I think your comment implies this – that the the principle of oneness can be helpful to hold in mind as we learn. It is a useful reminder of our shared goal and the means by which that goal is established.

      Thank you for reading and sharing, Steven.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.