I get asked a lot if I think that Gary Renard is a fraud. In the circles of A Course in Miracles it’s a common question. It’s also a funny question and I am never quite sure how to answer it. The truth is, I don’t know Gary. I’ve never met him, never personally attended any workshops with him. Calling someone a fraud is a serious charge, and it’s not one that should be leveled either quickly or casually.
My involvement with Renard boils down to the fact that I’ve read The Disappearance of the Universe. In fact, I read it several times. In the early stages of my study of A Course in Miracles, I found Renard’s book to be accessible and helpful. Even now, when I do not give Gary Renard as much attention as I did in the beginning, I continue to believe that his first book grasps the core concepts of the Course, laying them out in a way that’s easy to understand. There is a reason Gary’s work is relatively popular in the ACIM community, and it’s not all because of Arten and Pursah.
Indeed, Gary’s work is really a sexier – and somewhat condensed version – of Ken Wapnick’s. My understanding is that Gary attended many workshops with Ken and interacted with him over a nontrivial period of time. The influence shows! The understanding of the course advanced by Gary’s ascended masters makes them sound less like visionaries than good students of Wapnick. This isn’t a bad thing. Ken was a solid student of the course and lots of us can benefit by reading him closely. However, it does suggest that Gary’s writing is less celestial and spectacular in origin. It flows – like much course writing does – from the student’s engagement with their teacher.
Do I think that Renard’s humor is a little over the top at times? Yes. A little crude? That, too. But it is possible to read Disappearance without having to simultaneously defend Renard’s style. It’s just another ACIM book. If it’s helpful, great. If it’s not, well, there’s no shortage of authors out there writing books about A Course in Miracles, nonduality, Christ Mind, healing and whatever other spiritual practices and approaches we might want to explore.
I know that people get bent out of shape about Arten and Pursah, the ascended masters who purportedly taught ACIM to Renard, and who are featured so prominently in his writing. Come on, they say. A couple of ascended masters showed up in his living room? And he recorded them but then destroyed the tapes? Isn’t it a little too perfect? A little too self-promotional? Oh and hey – isn’t he hawking some vitamins now?
Maybe. For me, Arten and Pursah – and the question of whether they are real beings or literary devices or whatever – never got in the way of my reading. If Renard said tomorrow that he made them up – which, I should add, I’m pretty confident he’s not going to do – I’d still be grateful for the help the book offered at a critical stage of my learning. And if somebody asked me should they read it, I wouldn’t say no right away. I’d try to get a sense of where they were at in their study, and talk about other authors – Ken Wapnick and Tara Singh, say. But in the end, if Renard’s work calls to somebody, who am I to criticize? We are all finding our way.
The thing is, it always tempting to find something wrong with other Course students or teachers. And in truth, we can almost always find something wrong with their teaching. Yet being right is not necessarily synonymous with inner peace (and may even be an impediment to it).
Seek not outside yourself. For all your pain comes simply from a futile search for what you want you want, insisting where it must be found. What if it is not there? Would you rather be right or be happy? (T-27.VII.1:6-9)
That latter question is so essential to our study of the Course – especially when we start deciding that this or that teacher, or this or that approach or perspective is right to the exclusion of all others. As Proverbs 28:19 points out, the secret to joy and abundance is to work our own garden and avoid fantasies and idleness.
When I find myself focusing on all the reasons not to read someone, or not to listen to them, or even brainstorming ways to discredit them, it is almost always a reflection of my own guilt and fear and has nothing to do with the other person.
In other words, my anxiety over this “other” – be it Gary Renard or Ken Wapnick – is simply a call to heal my own experience of internal conflict, which is always my own experience of the separation from God. And that is what I am trying to heal; I am not trying to right the ACIM ship itself.
One of the gifts of studying A Course in Miracles, at least for me, was that it helped me look at the external world – which includes my feelings and thoughts – and recognize it as a form of projection. “Projection makes perception” (T-13.V.3:5).
We might more accurately say that projection and perception are inter-related, the one influencing the other in the construction of our experience of a world.
We look inside first, decide what kind of world we want to see and then project that world outside, making it the truth as we see it. We make it true by our interpretations of what it is we are seeing (preface xi).
Thus, if I am walking around feeling like Renard or any other ACIM teacher is a fraud and a phony with good marketing skills or whatever, then I know that I have already rendered that judgment against myself. It’s my guilt that I am looking at. So I don’t need to “fix” Renard – or anybody who finds his work helpful or interesting – so much as I need to be cognizant of my own brokenness and the need for healing it engenders.
My suggestion? If you are curious or feel called to do so, then read Renard’s books. Check them against your gut, against your existing understanding of the Course, talk to friends, reflect on it in prayer and so forth. Don’t worry so much about the personality or the motives behind the writing and don’t get hung up on the story behind the sales. It’s not what somebody else thinks that is right or helpful – it’s what is right or helpful for you at this particular point in your study and practice. And only you can discern that.
When our focus is on healing, and when we are related to our capacity for the healing power of attention, then we begin to perceive a world in which everyone is a blessing because we are blessing them. All things work for good in that world, because all things are “echoes of the Voice for God” (W-pI.151). Gary Renard, too.
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Excellent non-judgmental reporting, Sean. It never seems to occur to Gary’s critics that, when they question the “reality” of Arten and Pursah they have totally bought into the entire illusion themselves, and seek to argue which part of said illusion is real.
Would you be interested in giving my very short book, THE PARABLE OF THE STARS a read and a possible review, Sean? It is on Amazon, but I’ll gladly mail you a copy if you like, along with the CD of the book, and my latest ACIM music CD.
Thank you for this very clear article.
Cheers! John Beavin
Thank you, John! I am coming around to the idea that there are no good or bad teachers, just helpful or not helpful teachers, and that it’s really an evolving process. What works for one student will not work for another. And what works for us at one point in our learning may not be so effective at another point. I am also aware of the degree to which buying into the whole good vs. bad debate (or fraud vs. authentic or whatever) is simply using conflict to avoid the work of healing our minds. The ego can be very inventive in its desperate attempt to remain at the helm! Gary’s book was useful to me and I’m grateful for his teaching.
Thanks for reading!
ACIM is a curriculum designed to attune the student of it to hearing the Voice of Truth, (The Holy Spirit), in our Mind. A voice distinct from the ego which speaks from the human mentality conditioned by judging perception as if it is The Mind. For all the books written about The Course, along with the countless teachers explaining the Course, there is no substitute for reading The Course, practicing The Course, and learning it for one’s self.
After years of reading the FIP, I recommend any one of the unabridged editions which adhere closely to the notes as written. Guided by the Author, the two principle individuals involved with the dictation from the beginning edited the first printed, bound copies which were distributed freely among friends and colleagues.
The FIP is an abridgment of the original. It includes at least one reedited passage which changes the meaning of the message. It is a passage commented on in Chapter 11 of The Disappearance Of The Universe. By way of Arten, Gary exerts considerable speculative contortions “explaining” the passage as written in the FIP.
By comparison, the Original Edition’s statement from the same paragraph, (26.42) is both simple, clear and entirely consistent with the comprehensive message of The Atonement throughout the curriculum.
An observation about the Holy Spirit: never is the false addressed in interpretation of perception – only Truth.
Forgiving is the other way of looking at the world.
It is a wonderful thing to discover the version of ACIM whose helpfulness is most suited to our current understanding of self, other and world. To read with minimal guilt and maximal healing . . . what a joy!
It is the same with teachers – we find the one who is most helpful for us, the one in whose teaching, the course clarifies and become eminently practical, and so our healing practice deepens and intensifies . . . again, what joy!
Yet we remain confused in a fundamental way when we equate “helpful for me” with “right” or “best” or even just “better than that other version/practice/understanding/et cetera.”
In other words, we can (indeed, we must) judge the text and related material for ourselves but we cannot force that judgment on others. Love obligates us to allow our brothers and sisters to have their own experience with ACIM material which may differ from ours – often in nontrivial ways. Nothing else will do, because nothing else is loving.
In my experience, the course is an effective correction for the appearance of differences and the interior narratives by which those differences are justified, defended, projected, etc. When I assert “right” or “wrong” with respect to the course – however pure my intentions, however sincere my teaching posture – I am using the cure to reinforce the original error.
There is, as Bill Thetford observed, another way.
Of course we should read what works. Of course we should give attention to our sense of what is functional and clear. When others ask us for help or insight, by all means share the same in gentle and thoughtful ways. And we should avail ourselves of others’ teaching as well.
But it is important to refrain from indulging the argument that this or that version of the course is objectively superior to another; that way lies the ego. Relatively superior – for me, at this place in my study? Sure. Superior for you?
Love invites me to refrain from answering that question . . .
THREE CHEERS! Such a clear and meaningful piece of writing. To regard teachers as helpful or not helps us to respect individual differences in learning styles. (BTW: What a separation concept!)
I have seen Gary in person twice and a third time with Cindy Renard. I learned a great deal each time and was able to get my questions addressed in a satisfactory manner. Gary and Cindy help me to view issues in new and creative ways. For example–in a recent video on YOUTUBE he remarked that the concept of an individual soul is another separation idea. In reality our minds/spirits are one.
Thanks for reading & sharing, Susan. I’m glad your learning experience with Gary (and Cindy) has been a positive one. There are many paths up the mountain, what matters most is our fellow hikers 🙂
I would say the problem with your argument here John is that you’re using the parameters of what the course and Gary Renard are saying as to discern whether Gary’s story is true or not.
For example, if someone asked me as to whether ACIM was true or not, I wouldn’t answer it doesn’t matter because it is all an illusion. That would make no sense, because what I am essentially doing is using what ACIM says about the world as the “measuring stick” in how to respond to the question. It’s kind of a cop out to the question presented to me.
The first rule of discernment is not to use what you are discerning as the parameter of what you are discerning.
I’m curious to understand what you mean by “The first rule of discernment is not to use what you are discerning as the parameter of what you are discerning.” – I would very much appreciate a sharper picture if you’re inclined to share one. Thank you
I know your question is for Eric but I don’t want you to be ignored 🙂
It’s been many years since Eric visited here – I’d love to hear his reply! But I’m not sure he checks in anymore. I miss him – he was a passionate and thoughtful ACIM student. I learned a lot in dialogue with him.
Thank you for reading & sharing.
I found Gary’s books the perfect vehicle for me to practice exactly that which is the foundation of ACIM – FORGIVENESS! Sure, there are glaring ‘oddities’ which dispel the idea that his ‘guests’ are intelligent as one might expect from one who claims to be ‘ascended’ (whatever that is!). But what if, the whole thing, whether Gary is a deceiver or not, is a part of a much much greater intelligence which understands his works will indeed ‘push a lot of frustrated buttons?’ (opening the way for forgiveness)
If there is indeed a deception in play, who’s to know the true reason, source of it? Gary himself, possibly, the ‘guests’ who showed-up (them deceiving Gary) Who knows? The only solution, every time, is from a foundation of forgiveness, yes?
That said, with forgiveness done, as it would be if I were to have the same understanding in regard to, let’s say, a Doctor, who turned out to be not all what claimed, I wouldn’t neccesarily take their advice.
Hey Neil. Thanks for dropping by and dropping a note. There’s no doubt that Gary’s teaching has resonated in the Course community. I’m certainly grateful for the learning that he’s helped facilitate in my own practice. In general, I think you and I agree: the focus on whether Arten and Pursah are real, or whether Gary is a fraud, or whatever, is to focus on the problem rather than the solution. I certainly appreciate people who choose a different teacher, but I’m not sure I see the need for the bellicosity that sometimes comes up when Gary is the subject. And, of course, like everything else – Gary, his books, his detractors and his advocates are all one big forgiveness opportunity. Thank you again for your thoughts!
When Renard writes that ” Pursah and Arten, eventually identified their previous incarnations as St Thomas and St Thaddaeus, we’re not their only incarnations…”. I must pause and be honest with myself and accept that he is NOT using two characters as a writing ploy. I have given reincarnation much thought and if Ego is an illusion, than how can an Ego be reborn? Obviously we are NOT!
However, the teachings of Sri Aurobindo have another more plausible explanation for the Truth of our Spiritual Growth as a Psychic Being.
The concept that forgiveness as a Spiritual Martial Art form leads down the same path as Tibetian Buddism and ends with extinction, just as mankind is headed in the same direction for it’s timid and passive response to a real and present evil. There is much Spiritual knowledge in most religions, yet some are frauds such as Mormonism. To recognize greed, evil, and fraud is only practical wisdom that not everything is a projection of our own demons.
Thank you for reading and writing, Art. I am not familiar with Sri Aurobindo but he sounds interesting. In general, I don’t really think of any religion or spiritual practice as being true/false – I just think of them as being helpful or unhelpful. I have friends whose practices are vastly different from mine but they still seem to work. I think we are all struggling to find our way to inner peace. I think we all want to end conflict. My hope is always that people will find what works for them – and allow others to do the same. Thanks again for visiting –
Gary has 4 books, I read them all(more than once) and therefore i know what they say about reincarnation. Actually they say it is not a reincarnation but more a reprojection of separation in a time-space selfish frame called soul/body.
At the end of the day, the only thing that matters about ACIM is to make the 365 exercises one per day, read the text, read tje master’s book and apply the sistem as much as possible in any situation given.
All what you think, do or say, all what i think, do or say are just projections, symbols. Ni matter if they are kind or unkind, its just about unconditional forgiveness and allowing the holy spirit (or whatever wanna be called) to make its healing process towards undoing the ego mindset.
Gary books helped me a lot, got me 4 years, and when I started the course, it comes so easy.
As Sean says, it worked for me. Maybe not to others, maybe yes.
But better focus on the process rather than comparing, leveling or framing stuff. That’s opposite to the course 🙂
I guess you didn’t read them, or else you wouldn’t say that.
I am a huge fan of Gary Renaud and I believe he is legit. I think part of the problem with Course Students is jealousy. Why did this SIMPLETON get to have this great life and I am just here (lately as an Old Guy even) and not get the “goodies” that he managed to accumulate? I am also going to point out the one thing I have had the most trouble with. If Gary is telling the truth in his books, he will suddenly appear in the Chicago area in a hundred years and live his final lifetime anonymously? Won’t the Course Students then be on the lookout? Of course they would. But I also believe it is possible that the Masters have a final surprise for Gary who is determined if you pay attention to him–that this CURRENT experience be his FINAL lifetime. It could work out that way. It is possible that his lives have over-lapped and what he will finally discover is that Arten and Pursah (as Gary) transitioned sometime in the present. They wouldn’t tell him that initially because it would have “freaked him out” in his language.
Thanks for sharing, Luke. I do think jealousy has an effect on how we view Gary, and I think other feelings factor in as well. All of that – as I know you know – is simply projection and our work – over and over – is just to give attention to it, give it over, and baby step by baby step, remember peace. Thanks for being here, I’m grateful for the company.
I read Gary’s books first and it got me to read ACIM. To me, the fact that people get hung up on the Ascended Masters is a little bit like asking for directions and then not hearing the message because you can’t believe the hand pointing is dirty or the fingernails are untrimmed. Let’s ask ourselves instead, does the message resonate in our heart.
Yes, Larry. Well put: does the message resonate? I often say to people that the real test of an ACIM teacher is whether they are helpful or not. And sometimes, a teacher that works for one person will not work for another. Or we find that a teacher who was helpful at one point is less helpful at another. Focusing on personality – on specialness – will always leave us bereft. We all do it and it’s understandable but it’s good to see that and move beyond it, too. I remain grateful for Gary’s teachings.
Thanks for reading!
I agree very much that Renard’s book is fun and interesting. He’s a good writer and sticks to the Course’s message about our true spiritual purpose here, which Ken Wapnick calls “good old boring forgiveness”. Having said that, there are a couple of things that indicate the characters are a product of Renard’s imagination. The first thing is that he has an entire conversation with Arten and Pursah prior to his using a tape recorder. The second is that the conversation comes off as scripted, albeit very well wrought and entertaining. I guess I would have preferred that he had just presented the work as a fictional encounter meant to both entertain and elaborate on the Course. Also, I’m not sure of a few of his claims, such as the Shroud of Turin being fake, Shakespere not having written Shakespere (I’ve read ALL the alternate-authorship theories) and that he was Thomas the Twin. All that gets into the realm of fantasy, and while it’s fun to read I think it should be taken with a grain of salt. Best wishes to all who love the Course and desire to realize it’s promise.
Well, I agree that Arten and Pursah are wrong about Shakespearian authorship! And grains of salt are never a bad idea, no matter who you are reading in the Course community.
I hear you, Chris. I’ve said somewhere – not sure if it’s this post or another – that Renard is most helpful if and when you can get past the drama. It’s like the hook that pulls you in but then – if you don’t stay with it but just focus on the actual teaching (which is very orthodox, very much in the tradition of Ken Wapnick as you say) then you’re going to be fine. My own experience with Gary’s work is that it was incredibly useful at a certain stage, and then I sort of moved on to other teachers. There is no shortage of ways to study A Course in Miracles, no shortage of guides and teachers and coaches and all that. For me, I think part of the moving on had to do with simply wanting to get at the course without a lot of frills and drama and controversy. Predictions about war, commentary on the shroud of Turin and Thomas’ gospel and so forth . . . it’s just not helpful to me. That’s all.
Thanks for reading and for a well-reasoned comment. I appreciate it. Best wishes to you as well!
Do you remember the passage in the Ur text where Helen asked fearfully about the Holocaust and Jesus remarked he shed many tears over the errors and upside down thinking written large by the Nazis?
I consider my remarks about the Commercial Course Community in a similar manner.
How does it play out?
It plays out that as one transitions from a student to a teacher, one’s external and internal world changes in the sense one is more concerned with the student than with oneself.
Not unlike transitioning from a care free, often reckless and irresponsible young adult to parent. Suddenly driving fast, smoking pot, watching porn, or a hundred other errors and vices a young man might tolerate for himself he finds he cannot tolerate for his child. Thus the parent’s thinking and thus his world view and inner conflicts change as a result of recognition of and ultimate concern for other.
There is an analogy here to spirituality. Concern with and preoccupation with self-salvation is the beginning not the end of the Atonement process. Which is why novice awakening is usually accompanied by ego inflation. The awakening novice is often boisterous, filled with spiritual pride, believes he holds the key salvation, convinced he is in direct communication with Spirit, and can do no wrong. This ego inflation is why in most spiritual traditions, the newly awakened are place under strict spiritual authority and supervision.
In fact there was a much read article by an early course teacher who knew all the principle luminaries of the Course movement. After attending a conference with these “course teachers,” he questioned whether after some twenty years of course study, the egos of these teachers had not in fact become stronger, more inflated and less spiritual.
As such my reservation in endorsing ACIM as a spiritual path is presently the novices, newly awakened, and not yet awakened have taken over the monastery and kicked out the teacher and master.
IMHO, the course is so effective in awakening that even after a year of study, students often fell compelled by religious enthusiasm to put their own spin on the curriculum and promote their own version of the Course.
As ACIM is commercially and publicly promoted, there is no spiritual authority and a near a complete rejection of spiritual discipline by the author and the Holy Spirit. As such there is little counter balance to rampant spiritual pride and ego inflation which is certainly a major error which would have to be undone and corrected.
All of which is consistent with over concern and preoccupation with salvation of self and not at all consistent with a mature teacher-student spirituality.
The analogy of the young adult to parent transition is helpful, as is this: “Concern with and preoccupation with self-salvation is the beginning not the end of the Atonement process.” Thank you.
I don’t feel as comfortable as you do judging people who identify as course teachers, but I think your point about early-stage awakening merging with the ego – enlarging the ego, if I understand you right – is not a bad one.
Do you think the course – text/workbook/manual – contemplates a spiritual authority other than the Holy Spirit? Does it contemplate a formal human master? In my early twenties I briefly (and half-assedly) studied Zen Buddhism, and the hierarchy of teacher/student (and teacher’s teacher) was very clear and non-negotiable. Do you see something like that model as being helpful or necessary in the course community?
I think Ken Wapnick fulfilled that role for many students. I find his work helpful in many senses, but as I said earlier in our exchange, Tara Singh is the only public teacher that I think of as my teacher. He is deceased of course, though his primary students continue to teach under the auspices of the Joseph Plan Foundation.
What I am asking you is: what is a sincere ACIM student with his or her study?
And, I guess, more specifically are there public teachers you respect?
Thank you, J.
What I think is the curriculum offers (not demands) a real (not metaphorical) personal relationship with a real (not metaphorical) Jesus which in turn makes the Holy Spirit more assessable as the Voice for True Authority.
There is little question the above is a literal reading of the text, and thus can only be changed or subverted by a selective metaphorical reading of the text.
Does a literal reading of the text somehow preclude a formal human master? No, not necessarily. OTOH, the mind cannot serve two masters.
Is then a guru model helpful or necessary? That would be a personal question of purpose.
OTOH, if the author offers to be a model of thought and personal teacher, one would have to question the purpose of studying course teachings while rejecting the teacher of the course for another teacher, especially if the other teacher is teaching another curriculum and rejecting the author as unreal and metaphorical.
In a nutshell, The Course Community from its inception to the late 1980’s was for the most part committed to a literal reading of the text with a real, historical Jesus as author. That changed in the late 80’s when Wapnick radically altered his former Jesus -based interpretation to type of neo-Advaita non dualism interpretation, where Jesus was metaphor and the resurrection never happened.
To be sure, the introduction of non dualism forced the authority problem into “acceptable” course doctrine. IOWs in neo-Advaita, there is only God and no created Son of God. Therefore, it is God which is dreaming and God which must forgive to save Itself. IOWs the “crazy god,” theology.
This doctrinal change divided the Course World into camps, essentially, literal reading, real Jesus, with Christian theological overlay, and a metaphorical reading, metaphorical Jesus with a neo-advaita theological overlay.
This is why newbies to the Course find so many radically different and mutually exclusive interpretations of the Course differing, too, from their own reading of the text.
BTW, If you claim to have a personal relationship with a real Jesus, then you are not Wapnickian, but more a Robert Perry Christian literalist. If you are not familiar with neo-advaita and its teaching and great influence on the Western new age movement beginning in the 1980’s then you should do some research. You might be surprised what has been introduced as an overlay to ACIM. I’ve dealt with them. Its ego on steroids.
I believe you’re referring to Hugh Prather, John? That is a very good article about ego inflation within the course community and how Hugh and his wife had to do some self reflection themselves, because they saw that they too had fallen into this trap.
It’s also something I have to continue to watch out for and I might even be looking to my participation in this thread conversation as an example for myself.
But what you said about people trying to put their own spin on it really caught my attention. I had just read a sample of an e-book in which the author states that nothing is real, nothing exists.
Here is the Prather article, if anyone reading this thread is interested.
That was golden ….
Thank you for providing the link.
Thank you, too, Sean, for your even and thoughtful responses to each of us. Your kindness is appreciated.
Well of course he still expects to be paid. Even non existent neo advaitists need to eat.
You’re welcome, Cheryl. Thank you for reading & sharing . . . .
Yes, it was Hugh Prather. As far as the e-book. Let me guess. Nothing is real, nothing exists, but the author still expects payment for his book.
“Well of course he still expects to be paid. Even non existent neo advaitists need to eat.”
Well, people like this make a convincing case for radical atheism. Personally I would have love to have seen a debate between Chris Hitchens and Ken Wapnick or Gary Renard, or even our host, Sean. I don’t think a neo-Wapnickian take on ACIM could be rationally defended, for the simple reason it is NOT rational, all proponents of Wapnick play “fast and loose” in their ‘theology,” and any proponent would be trapped in their over use of “metaphor,” which hides the inability to make a logical case.
In turn, someone like Hitchens would have a field day with someone believing he is talking to a sky daddy, or believing “being spiritual,” is somehow different or superior to being a moral human.
“For me, what remained was my need to be right”
Well perhaps. But then again you choose to resolve a simple, objective, ethical question of honesty by retreating to a subjective and highly personal “resolution,” of lack of conflict and “peace with your perception,” that may work on a personal level, but has little sharing or transfer value. ” Sharing” and “transfer” –this means your position can’t be taught without preaching to a very select choir and further, cannot be extended universally to meaningfully address any moral or ethical question while leaving yourself open to the charge of inconsistency/hypocrisy.
For example, if there was no right or wrong, then how would the right-minded know and feel compelled to be honest in their dealings with their fellow man rather than dishonest?
Do you really wish to contend there is no difference between selling a car which you know has bad brakes while hiding that fact, and alerting the buyer the car has bad brakes? As implied by the phrase, ” . . . if right and wrong were possible.”
You are flirting with nihilism and solipsism here. A text search shows some 79 instances of the word, ‘wrong,” including wrong-mindedness. A similar search shows 135 instances of the word,”right,” including right-mindedness. Moreover, the author encourages us to be right in the sense of right mindedness, with the further caveat that uncorrected errors in thinking/perception, ie, will inevitably lead to painful experience. This reads to me that the notion of right and wrong are integral to the ACIM thought system.
It always amazes me when course teachers push neo-Advaita nihilism then are forced to retrace and re-conceptualize on the fly, to make correction of error and right mindedness make any sense at all. After all if there is nothing to teach and no one else (real) to teach, why teach at all?
Thanks for sharing, J. It’s nice to hear from you.
Your analogy to a car with broken brakes isn’t particularly helpful. I don’t think Gary’s work is objectively dishonest – you do. What I think is that its helpfulness is overshadowed by its drama; Disappearance was important to me at one time and no longer is. Since that is my experience, that is what I share.
But I think we are actually disagreeing about something else. When I look at the world and begin to divide it into right and wrong – Gary is a liar, Sean is a hypocrite, whatever – then I am insisting that my brothers and sisters are bodies and that what they do can affect what I am – and what they are – in truth.
Of course, decisions have to be made in the world – who to learn with, who to sleep with, what work to do, and so forth. At that level, we do the best we can – but if we think for a moment that being “right” or “wrong” at that level is what A Course in Miracles is aiming for, then I think we are confused about the course. The goal is a changed mind, not a changed external world.
Thus, with respect to the world, you make a decision and then get on with it. The plan of atonement is not mine; my role is to give attention to my inner teacher and try to follow. I’m not especially worried about Gary and have moved on from that controversy. I’m grateful for the help he offered at a point in time. And I’m grateful for Tara Singh and Emily Dickinson and David Bohm, all of whom have been helpful in a more sustained way.
Finally, I don’t particularly feel like a hypocrite (though I am far from perfect in this regard), and I don’t think I’m flirting with nihilism (though I cheerfully admit to the solipsism charge 🙂 ) – but I do accept that is your judgment of me. All I can say is, why worry about it? Do you really think that all students of A Course in Miracles proceed in precisely the same way through precisely the same process? I write because I learn better that way. I hope it’s helpful but if it’s not, no hard feelings. Anybody can shuffle on to the next stop as they will . . .
I’m glad you’re here, J. Thanks again.
“When I look at the world and begin to divide it into right and wrong – Gary is a liar, Sean is a hypocrite, whatever – then I am insisting that my brothers and sisters are bodies and that what they do can affect what I am – and what they are – in truth.”
So what? Are you saying that dividing the world into liars and hypocrites is wrong, when you just claimed right and wrong is not possible?
Similarly, when you show the error of my claim, how is that not the alertness/vigilance of your ego for the error of other egos?
Similarly, why would a charge of inconsistency/hypocrisy bother you if you did not believe inconsistency/hypocrisy was somehow wrong or in error and consistency was right and correct?
And no, “hypocrisy,” is not my judgement of you. Its a head’s up that when one speaks in an absolute manner such as right and wrong not being possible, then the speaker/teacher is vulnerable to the query of whether one, as a matter of practice and day to day living, actually follows his own pronouncements and teachings. Its a honest question. Do you really live like right and wrong is not possible? “I try, when I remember, when not in my ego and in full communion with the Holy Spirit,” doesn’t really cut it.
The question, to me, is not about “right” or “wrong” but rather “helpful” or “not helpful.” The link I provided explores this in a bit more depth. Thus, when I point out that your analogy to cars wasn’t working, it wasn’t that it was wrong but rather that it was not helpful to me. That’s all. I’m sure it was helpful to you and possible others as well. That’s the nature of the world – meaning shifts, opinions fly, etc.
Similarly, I am suggesting that dividing the world into right and wrong according to my fear and guilt-based judgment is not helpful. Why not? Because it keeps me bound to a world of hate. But the offense isn’t against Jesus or Heaven or God. It’s just a less-helpful way of thinking; the course is teaching me a better way, a way that leads to peace and joy.
Again, we have to make decisions here in the world – saying that Gary is not helpful for me does not mean I think Gary is a bad person. I can judge his work as not helpful to me at this point in my study without impugning him as a brother in God. The same applies to talking about A Course in Miracles with you, J. Just because I have a different understanding doesn’t mean that I think you are flawed or broken. It doesn’t mean I am not interested in your thoughts and experience.
I do try to live in accordance with my understanding of A Course in Miracles, and I am quite sure that I have a long way to go. Who doesn’t? I live as if helpful and not helpful matter – I ask of everything “what is it for?” Does it help me better hear the Holy Spirit?
‘Similarly, I am suggesting that dividing the world into right and wrong according to my fear and guilt-based judgment is not helpful.’
Okay. Now can you imagine organizing your thoughts into right and wrong according to love and for the purpose of correcting and aligning thoughts with love? You should since this is the how the author presents his curriculum and thought system.
Regardless, none of this precludes a reasonable standard of honesty and integrity in presenting ACIM to perspective students. Moreover, if the so-called “Course Community,” cannot agree on reasonable standards of honesty and integrity of the presentation of the source material, then perspective students should be alerted to the fact that there are no standards for course teachers; anyone can call themselves a course teacher.
Alert also, that instead of a unified curriculum, the perspective will likely encounter course teachers teaching wildly differing and competing interpretations of the source material, and further, no one will be held responsible for teaching, for example, there is no right or wrong if the student of that teaching harms someone.
IOWs “Buyer beware!”
I know. Compassion and duty to one’s fellow man can sometimes take the buzz off of “awakening.”
Caveat emptor indeed.
A Course in Miracles is designed to be a self-study course; I am confident that if Jesus wanted a central command unit other than the Holy Spirit and his own gentle model, then there’d be one. I think Ken Wapnick spent a lot of time trying to establish that level of authority, and it didn’t work. How could it? The world is a mess.
Compassion and duty to our brothers and sisters does not take the buzz off awakening – it is awakening. Attention and service to our fellows is the essence of what it means to study the course and bring it into application.
This is in significant part why I am so attentive to Tara Singh – he understood in a deeply practical way that service to our brothers and sisters was integral to Jesus’ vision of A Course in Miracles.
Well you already know how I feel about Gary, and I’ll get to that in a minute, but I wanted to say something about something you said.
You said: A Course in Miracles is designed to be a self-study course; I am confident that if Jesus wanted a central command unit other than the Holy Spirit and his own gentle model, then there’d be one. I think Ken Wapnick spent a lot of time trying to establish that level of authority, and it didn’t work. How could it? The world is a mess.
Eric: You mentioned Wapnick not too long ago and I was going to reply on it, but decided not to. But I’d like to reply on this. I think it didn’t work because the course was not set up to be another church. Another religion.
A few years after Helen and Bill’s passing, Ken’s interpretation of the course began to change from his early works under Helen’s tutelage. He started developing his theology of “pure non-dualism”. We should remember that before reading the course, Wapnick was going to be a priest where religious theology is prominant.
As Ken’s theology began to change, and especially when he took over the copyright of ACIM, he began to try to control the ACIM community to the way that he thought it should be. He (the foundation- FACIM) began to tell course groups that they couldn’t use A Course in Miracles in their group titles. Cease and desist letters began to be sent out and Ken began refusing other authors use of course quotes.
While there was certainly no blood shed (that I know of), I can’t help but to see a parallel of the early Orthodox church trying to stifle and quash other Christian sects such as Gnostism and/or Mysticism. Ken loves to quote there is no world! (which I always found to be taken out of context from the entire lesson 132), but he hardly seemed to believe it.
Another reason is that I think there are some inconsistencies in Ken’s interpretation. When I first began studying the course, I read a lot of Wapnick. To this day, I have more of his books than any other course author (and I have quite a few course author books). But when I finally felt that maybe instead of just accepting 2nd hand explanations from another’s interpretation and start actually committing myself to studying the course, I began to find inconsistencies with what the course said and what Wapnick said.
Now of course, Ken would say that it is a metaphor and the course doesn’t really mean what it says. The problem is:
1. Metaphors are not used to dismiss something said, but as more colorful way to say something. Like God embracing us within His arms. Of course, God does not have a body, so this is a metaphor for being at home in God.
2. At what point is something a metaphor? It seems that whatever didn’t fit into Ken’s reductionist “pure non-dualism”, meaning the attempt to take abstract metaphysical ideas and reduce them down to a concrete physical numerical number, Ken would dismiss it as metaphor. I feel that sometimes Ken had to invert complete passages to make his theology work.
This is obvious that this is then interpretation through Ken perception which in itself is interpretation. But Ken felt, even though his theology always seemed to change to some extent, that what he said about the course was fact. Anyone else with a different interpretation other than his was “fine”, but not really teaching the course.
His attempt at tightening a noose around the course community seemed to backfire as he then lost the copyright. And I think that’s the way it should be.
I’m not trying to slam Ken, but I think there is a folklore out there that is not entirely accurate when it comes to this topic. As I’ve said before, I’m sure if I had sat down with Ken, he would have been a very nice guy.
As for Gary Renard. My issue isn’t so much that he is claiming channeling these two “ascended masters”. Though I certainly don’t believe his story. There are plenty of people out there making claims such as Carpenter, Tutttle, Haskell, Fereni, etc. I’ve read most of these people and while I do not believe that any of them are authentic as to their claims (they all seem to re hash course quotes and try to word them differently and end up as pale comparisons) I have not read this attempt at exalting oneself over other teachers and exalting the course over other paths the way Renard does. Not to mention the dogma and fundamentalism that only he and a couple of others are actually teaching the course.
Couple that with the overwhelming amount of evidence that Gary made up these characters as literary devices to sell books makes it even more ridiculous, because it seems apparent to me that Gary is using fictional characters to try and establish himself as the authority of A Course in Miracles.
That is not an understatement considering he says that only he and a couple of others (which I would assume to be the late Ken Wapnick and his wife Gloria) are actually the only ones teaching the course.
And his interpretation which is an interpretation of Wapnick’s interpretation leads to what J. called solipsism. Is this helpful? I don’t know, but what I do know is there are a lot of Renard fans running around stating everything is an illusion, the course is faster than any other path, Gary’s books are for the advanced course students, people aren’t ready for Gary’s books, Gary is the guru, and our brothers are not real and they themselves made the world.
I don’t know if there is anything more egocentric than a solipsistic POV where brothers are just relegated to be just an illusion for that particular person rather than a brother that they misperceived.
Actually in Gary’s last book, he tries to correct his earlier interpretation that led a lot of his flock to point at each other and call them illusions, though I still feel that he came up short.
So I suppose my issue with Gary is not so much him making up fictional characters to tell his interpretation of the course, but to use these obvious fictional characters as mouthpieces to promote dogma and fundamentalism that his interpretation is in fact not interpretation, BUT INFALLBILE FACT. My issue is also Gary using his mouthpieces to exalt the course over other paths.
I think everyone needs to understand that we all interpret the course, because we are reading symbols through the lens of our perception and perception IS interpretation. Yes, we may feel that our interpretation is right, but step back and look how your understanding of the course has evolved and it becomes apparent that it is interpretation and not a fact based sermon.
If I have mounting evidence that Gary made up his story but he maintains that he did not make up the story, he is either being dishonest or I am incorrect in my assessment. Assuming I am not incorrect, why would I listen to what Gary has to say then? How do I know that his explaination of the course is correct, if there is a possibility that it is infallible, as there certainly is? Why should one listen to infallible ascended masters make many fallible claims? How much BS does one need to sift through to get that little golden nugget and as the course says, should we believe something in which the center is a lie? Especially when it is not a very good one.
Some might ask, well what about ACIM itself then? I’m still somewhat ambiguous about its authorship, but in my research (ironically to try and debunk it) I found too many things that point towards authenticity rather than fraud. Though that reply in itself might even be longer than this one, so that is for another conversation.
But I don’t even think Gary’s books and ACIM can even be compared. It’s like trying to compare a Rembrandt to a color by numbers painting for beginners.
I guess your last line there pretty much sums it up! Tell us how you really feel . . .
Well, I agree with you on your first point: the course is not meant to be or establish another church or religion. I believe that with all my heart. And yes, efforts to establish it as such – even minor ones, with all good intentions – are more likely to end in confusion than anything else. Institutions in general are problematic.
With respect to Ken Wapnick, I understand the history similar to how you share it here. My sense of Ken was that he evolved over time and, for better or worse, didn’t talk publicly about his evolution. I mentioned in another thread that someone – I believe Judith Skutch – mentioned in in her memorial thoughts that he “grew into” his enlightenment. He had his forgiveness lessons, too.
He goes into the interpretation question somewhat near the end of this interview with Ian Patrick.
He is clear that he does not believe the course has interpretations, but at the same time recognizes that “it is something people must decide for themselves.”
His style was certainly very authoritative and professorial and sometimes I think that put people off as much as – or more – than what he said.
Your thoughts with respect to Gary are clear and sound: so put him aside and move on, right? That is always what confuses me about this discussion. I read Immortal Reality and didn’t find it especially helpful; therefore, I didn’t bother with whatever came next.
I don’t feel any need to protect the course from Gary Renard; and I don’t feel any need to argue with anybody over who they should or shouldn’t read. People tell me that Gary is helpful and that’s fine. People say they wouldn’t read him in a million years and that’s fine too. I can see both sides; I’ve made my choice and trust others to make theirs. Salvation is a decision.
I have never understood why anybody who believes Gary is fraudulent gives any more attention to him. As Jesus said so long ago, shake the dust from your sandals and head to the next town (or teacher). I don’t feel like I have the time anymore for those conflicts. Richard Hugo, a poet, used to say to his students – don’t argue with other poets. Your important arguments are with yourself.
So I try to be honest about that – who I read, why I read them – and then let the spiritual chips fall where they may.
Fundamentalism is problematic – I agree. But I see it everywhere, including in myself. I am more attentive these days to undoing it at that level – within – then in correcting it without.
Finally, just an observation. Near the end of his life, Tara Singh – I don’t have the precise quote handy, but it was in his letters – began to talk about working with a very small group of students. There was a sense that not everybody is in the same place with respect to learning, and it was more helpful to work closely with those who shared a similar aptitude and readiness.
I realize that can sound quite self-righteous and exclusive, but I think there is an element of practicality to it. I am not suggesting that we build walled camps but I am suggesting that we worry less about what is going on “out there” and be more attentive to what is internal. Salvation isn’t an external amendment.
“He is clear that he does not believe the course has interpretations, but at the same time recognizes that “it is something people must decide for themselves.”
Typical waffling Wapnick BS. Years ago, when Wapnick first made this statement, it was discussed to death on discussion boards. If you read the full interview its hard to take his remarks as anything but a claim, the he, Wapnick is teaching the only perfect, non-interpreted, direct teaching of ACIM.
Which is complete BS any way you cut it.
You know, I actually regret responding to this thread yesterday. Not because I don’t believe what I stated, but that there is better ways for me to spend my time. I don’t think Gary is being honest about his “ascended masters” and there is nothing short of these two “ascended masters” suddenly appearing to me that will change my mind. This is not simply because I don’t want to believe in them (though this is quite possible part of the reason), but that there is just so much evidence pointing to them being nothing more than made up literary devices. I think to actually believe they came to Gary, one would have to consciously ignore the evidence.
I just want to answer a couple of things you wrote.
Sean wrote: “He (Ken) is clear that he does not believe the course has interpretations, but at the same time recognizes that “it is something people must decide for themselves.”
His style was certainly very authoritative and professorial and sometimes I think that put people off as much as – or more – than what he said.
Eric: And I think this is where it becomes obvious that Ken was human and as imperfect as anyone else. Ken’s blind spot and dissociation from his own writings is glaringly obvious here. Ken always thought his explanations of the course were not interpretations, and yet read any of his early books and there are literally pages in the preface of later editions with Ken explaining why he no longer believes what he used to believe about the course. It is just so obvious that Ken’s interpretations changed over the years. Yes, Ken’s explanations are his interpretations, because he read the words in the book through the lens of his perception, and perception IS interpretation. This is not math where 2+2=4. That is not an interpretation of what 2+2 equals. It is an unchanging fact.
But as you once said, Ken probably thought we was the smartest guy in the room. In the early days of the course, Ken was adamant that Jesus wrote the course. He is even on camera emphatically stating that there was no way that Helen wrote the course and only Jesus could have written it. Well, his perception changed, and with that, his interpretation changed.
I’m not trying to demonize Ken, but I think there is this folklore around the course that echoes organized religion of trying to exalt the origins of the religion, while trying to quash the actual reality of it. I mean, people want to believe so bad that the course went from some notes given from the Divine to the FIP Edition in all its untainted and prestigious glory, that in some circles just the mention of the earlier editions brings a connotation of blasphemy.
I think we as a course community should be able to say, “You know what? Helen, Bill, Ken, etc. were not perfect. They were human just like the rest of us. They had flaws just like the rest of us, and as much as they wanted the course to be this spiritual document in which the words of the Divine come to paper virtually unchanged, it simply isn’t so. I think Doug Thompson gives an absolutely outstanding and fair non condemning commentary on this in the preface of the HLC Edition.
Why do I think this is important? Because when we don’t try and quash facts in favor of clinging to yet another belief, then we don’t have to hide facts from ourselves that threaten this belief that is based on false notions. It is much more honest for someone to say that Ken interpreted the course, but that they resonate with his interpretation, than to think that Ken’s explanations of the course were infallible fact, because the truth is, Ken’s interpretations are indeed fallible. He sometimes has to invert entire passages and sections within the course or dismiss sections to make his theology work.
And this comes to the other point in which Ken demonstrated his humaness. He so felt that his explanations were infallible fact, that he tried to quash other’s interpretations to “protect” the course from the heretics that disagreed with him. I’m not even sure I can blame him. Would I have done the same in his position? Oh it’s quite possible I would have. And again this is often ignored in course circles in favor of a belief that Ken was this benign entity without ego. He certainly was not. Again this is not to demonize Ken, but I do think that if a student acknowledges this aspect of Ken, instead of trying to hide from it and ignore it, it would release not only the student, but also Ken as “having” to be something he was not.
Sean wrote: Your thoughts with respect to Gary are clear and sound: so put him aside and move on, right? That is always what confuses me about this discussion. I read Immortal Reality and didn’t find it especially helpful; therefore, I didn’t bother with whatever came next.
I don’t feel any need to protect the course from Gary Renard; and I don’t feel any need to argue with anybody over who they should or shouldn’t read. People tell me that Gary is helpful and that’s fine. People say they wouldn’t read him in a million years and that’s fine too. I can see both sides; I’ve made my choice and trust others to make theirs. Salvation is a decision.
I have never understood why anybody who believes Gary is fraudulent gives any more attention to him.
Fundamentalism is problematic – I agree. But I see it everywhere, including in myself. I am more attentive these days to undoing it at that level – within – then in correcting it without.
Eric: As I mentioned before, there are many people in the course community making claims and I usually pay them no mind. Let me preface this before I go on with this. I am a huge skeptic in channeled materials. I think 99.9% of it is BS. So you can kind of see my dilemma with ACIM, though even though I am still somewhat ambiguous about it, there are too many things that I feel point towards its authenticity rather than it being a fraud. The first one being that having read many spiritual books and documents, that ACIM is one of the most profound, beautiful, and comprehensive spiritual books out there. It certainly does feel that it came from the divine. I could write a whole other post on this with regard to the UrText, Bill’s last years studying the course, etc. but I’ll stop with that.
When I first read DU, while already feeling a little ridiculous for reading ACIM, I felt that I had fallen into the pit of silliness. In other words, I found Gary Renard and his two middle school level ascended masters embarrassing. I couldn’t swallow the story, especially when I began to see these “all knowing masters” get facts wrong. I also found there was nothing in DU that was revelationary and I certainly didn’t feel that these “ascended masters” were bringing anything new to the table. Of course, I had also been reading Wapnick at that point. All I could think was that these “ascended masters” were simply ripping Wapnick off because all they were doing was re-wording Wapnick’s explanations. At this point, I was still very much into reading Wapnick.
I didn’t like the fart joke humor in the book either, but initially I dismissed him and in discussions would occasionally chime in that Gary made these “ascended masters” up to sell books.
It was when people began posting thoughts about other teachers and other paths in a disparaging way, that I again began to take notice of Renard. These ideas were coming from his followers and these ideas were coming from his 2nd book. I decided to read it (because, hey, I’m a sucker for bad TV. You don’t have to believe it to be entertaining.) Not only was it not very good over all, but the dogmatic, fundamentalist statements that were being made by these “ascended masters” were ridiculous.
I also began noticing that some Gary fans began to insult others are certain sites all in the “fun” that it was all an illusion and that idea that it didn’t matter because as Gary says in his books, “You made them up.” There was a guy that even signed up to an ACIM board that wasn’t even a student because he had questions, because his girlfriend and her friends started being cruel towards him. People assured him this is not what ACIM taught. He then mentioned that she didn’t really read ACIM, but was reading these books by some guy named Gary Renard.
I decided to speak up about it, since I was a part of the course community. I didn’t want to say nothing in the name of “spirituality” as people were insulting others in the name of the game of illusion. So I did, because considering I don’t even think Gary’s story is legitimate, yet he claims to be one of only a selected few who are the premiere teachers actually teaching the course. He makes claims how other paths are merely moving furniture around a burning house. Gary is essentially trying to set up ACIM as yet another religion and himself as a messiah. Of course he hides behind his “ascended masters” with all of these claims. And of course the masses are eating it up, but popularity does not imply validity, the Kardashians are a very good example of this.
So when someone says it doesn’t matter, it is the message that counts, I say in this regard, yes it does matter, because there are many messages in Gary’s books as there are many claims in his books. So what message are we talking about? The message are we talking about? The message that only Gary and a couple of others (Ken and Gloria Wapnick) are actually teaching the course, implying that all others are false teachers. The message that other paths are merely moving furniture around a burning house? Implying that they give the illusion that they will work, but will ultimately fail. Is it the message about his criticisms of other teachers we should listen to? Or is it the message that Beverly Hutchinson doesn’t want to sell his books because he killed her in a past life? Or is it about how Gary and his wife are formal disciples of Jesus?
See, if Gary’s story is not true, then all of these fundamental-dogmatic claims from Gary’s “ascended masters” are nothing more than opinions from Gary. I think that Gary’s books are popular because they have that junk food for the mind. The drama of past lives. The drama of “ascended masters” and their divine authority. They also cater to the ego. Heaven is an orgasm, Gary has the secret in which you only need to pray for 5 minutes to God a day. Hey, that’s great, let’s get that out the way so we can reap the benefits without putting too much work into it. Sounds like one of those “10 minute” workouts. It’s the sensationalism that sells.
Considering that I don’t believe Gary’s story is true and have an overwhelming amount of evidence that supports this, I can’t imagine how Gary can wake up everyday and not feel guilty in this overwhelming lie. All I can say is that is a burden I would not want, no matter the fame or money.
I’d bet though that Helen would be rolling over in her grave if she saw what was happening these days.
What did Al Pacino say in a movie once? Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.
Thank you for sharing, Eric. I don’t always know myself why this issue – or certain others – keep cropping up, but I trust there’s something to be learned in patiently and gently looking at them. Sharing about the course – even when it feels like I’m trodding over familiar ground – can be valuable, especially when I realize that my sharing needn’t always obviously benefit me. More and more, with respect to writing and working it out this way, I feel that I just do the best I can, and trust God with the end result.
You and I have much more in common when it comes to ACIM than not, and even when we are not in agreement, it often feels to me a somewhat subtle disagreement that might well evaporate if we were discussing it in a setting that allowed for more nuance in dialogue.
Anyway, thank you. I am never not grateful for your willingness to share here.
Of course Sean.
I would even say that maybe most of the “disagreement” may not be from the actual course itself, but from that which surrounds it and even that maybe more subtle than we might think.
It’s funny that this topic has not been brought up to my attention on a while and then this thread is brought to my attention and then someone comments on my review of Gary’s new book.
“You are not yet awake, but you can learn how to awaken. Very simply, the Holy Spirit teaches you to awaken others.”
Well yes, Sean. The question here is how do you resolve quoting this passage literally, which of course assumes a real Holy Spirit and real “Sons of God,” and real “others,” with solipsism?
Or as another writer writes, “Everything except God is metaphor,” which is pretty much pretty much an assertion of solipsism.
In any type of Idealistic theology or metaphysics (All is Mind, everything is mind or idea,) there are to main approaches.
1. You are God, you in effect created yourself, and its up to you to awaken, (not atone) yourself, at the expense of living in maya, or illusion. This is what some call the crazy god theology. God is the dreamer and God did this to Itself. If you study the Vedas or confront Advaita type theology this is the mind loop or mind pattern that one confronts.
The author of ACIM comments on this approach and calls it the authority problem. Its a problem of authorship. You believe you authored yourself. Its a problem of creation. You believe you created yourself. Its a problem of others. There are no “others.”
Generally in Advaita, there is no real “other” or real brother which are illusions which violate the notion that God can only make illusions (maya) but cannot create because real creation of others ( or anything) would compromise the notion of God as undifferentated “oneness.”
The problem with crazy God theology in course terms is there is no escape from darkness. If you are God then you are establishing reality and there is reference outside “Self.” You are best awakening with no reference that you doing anything but going deeper into illusion.
To be sure, one is attempting to awaken with the assumption only you exist, which is a totally different concept from Atonement or atoning, which instead assumes God as a creator and you as creation.
Or as the author puts it, you did not create or author yourself and that is the basis for atonement. You are made to be love and loving and cannot be otherwise except in dreams.
I could go on. But there is a world of difference between the claim, “I am God,” and the claim, “I am the Holy Son of God.”
And this difference is being conflated by many so called teachers of ACIM, and when its conflated it inevitably leads to solipsism.
Just to add to what John said. I remember someone quoting Gary Renard in which he supposedly said, ” Cut out the middle man and realize that you are God.”
Eric: I thought this was a terrible message to send, not only because it is a form of spiritual bypassing and trying to usurp the Holy Spirit’s function, but the realization you are God takes one back to the authority problem that created the mess in the first place.
The course states over and over not to confuse ourselves with God and tells us that we did not create ourselves.
In the course it talks about the saying, “The Father and I are one” and then says the Father is greater (paraphrasing). In the Urtext, it takes it a little farther. It says the meaning of this is the Father and I are of One Kind and when the Father and the Sonship are in perfect accord (the wills are indistinguishable), this is Heaven.
In the workbook lesson 326 (the section that is often called the non-dual section) it states:
Father, I was created in Your Mind, a holy Thought that never left its home. I am forever Your Effect, and You forever and forever are my Cause. As You created me, I have remained. Where You established me, I still abide, and all Your attributes abide in me because it is Your Will to have a Son so like his Cause that Cause and Its Effect are indistinguishable. Let me know that I am an Effect of God, and so I have the power to create like You. And as it is in Heaven, so on earth. Your plan I follow here, and at the end I know that You will gather Your Effects into the tranquil Heaven of Your Love, where earth will disappear and separate thoughts unite in glory as the Son of God. ~ACIM
Eric: The course also defines Creation as this before lesson 321:
Creation is the sum of all God’s Thoughts, in number infinite and everywhere without all limit. Only Love creates and only like Itself. There was no time when all that It created was not there. Nor will there be a time when anything that It created suffers any change. Forever and forever are God’s Thoughts exactly as they were and as they are, unchanged through time and after time is done.
God’s Thoughts are given all the power that Their own Creator has. For He would add to Love by its extension. Thus His Son shares in creation, and must therefore share in power to create. What God has willed be forever one will still be one when time is over and will not be changed throughout the course of time, remaining as it was before the thought of time began.
Creation is the opposite of all illusions, for Creation is the truth. Creation is the holy Son of God, for in Creation is His Will complete in every aspect, making every part container of the whole. Its oneness is forever guaranteed inviolate, forever held within His holy Will beyond all possibility of harm, of separation, imperfection, and of any spot upon its sinlessness. We are Creation-we the Sons of God.
We are creation—we the Sons of God. We seem to be discrete and unaware of our eternal unity with Him. Yet back of all our doubts, past all our fears, there still is certainty. For Love remains with all Its Thoughts, Its sureness being theirs. God’s memory is in our holy minds, which know their oneness and their unity with their Creator. Let our function be only to let this memory return, only to let God’s Will be done on earth, only to be restored to sanity, and to be but as God created us.
Our Father calls to us. We hear His Voice, and we forgive creation in the name of its Creator, Holiness Itself, Whose holiness His own creation shares; Whose holiness is still a part of us. ~ACIM
Eric: When making claims they are God and then being presented with this question:
If you are God, then did God dream a dream of fear and insanity where God was separated from God in which God needed to save Himself from Himself? Can Reality be anything but itself?
The answer I’ve usually gotten is it is all a dream and never happened. OK, let’s say this is correct. Yet a dream must still be dreamt by a mind. So who is dreaming? God or the Son of God?
One might say this doesn’t really matter all that much, but it might. To go beyond conceptual ideas, one must first learn through conceptual ideas, and conceptual ideas can point the mind in a certain direction. So are we pointed towards solipsism where there are no brothers, no relationship, no communion? Well I would say that is removing a very central part of the course’s teachings. Or is the mind pointed towards the reality of our brothers, which we can come into communion, until communion is?
Non-duality doesn’t have to be a reductionist theology in which we take abstract metaphysical ideas and try to reduce them down to a very concrete physical numerical number. The course doesn’t do this and yet, teachers attempt to shoe horn the course into this reductionist idea. The “non-duality” of the course is the OneMindedness in which the Father and the Sonship are in perfect accord.
“Non-duality doesn’t have to be a reductionist theology”
A Course in Miracles as a statement or restatement of Christianity is a world-class work, which fits perfectly in the Western Spiritual tradition.
As Doug Thompson showed in his annotated Ur text, ACIM is so filled with direct quotes, paraphrases, and allusions to Biblical passages that one would have to be blind or dishonest not to admit the ponderousness of contextual linkage between The Course and The Bible.
Further as Christian work written by the historical Jesus, ACIM grew from an obscure manuscript to spiritual phenomenon in a few short years. In the late 80s and early nineties, there were 12 course groups in my city. Both Catholic and Protestant Churches were hosting course classes. This was pre-internet and facebook, so participation was all “word of mouth.”
I remember at this time starting a ACIM class for beginners and having over 35 people show up, when I expect perhaps 10.
Now there is one 20+ year old course class left and perhaps 3 classes in the entire state. So what happened? I suspect if one started a course class now you’d be lucky to get 5 people and perhaps none at all.
In addition, the group would likely be so fractured from the get-go by radical doctrinal differences its likely the group could not stay together pass a few sessions.
So instead of getting a profound, erudite curriculum into the foundations and deeper mysteries of the Christian faith, by the founder of the Christian faith, being a “coursie,” now means “lessons,” in 3rd rate pseudo-Advaita doing the Advaita Shuffle and pretty much denying the author is the historical Jesus, and denying any link at all to Christianity.
So who wants this Frankenstein metaphysics patched together like a Wikipedia article by competing interests and the most fanatical editors?
As I see it, not many. Authentic non dualists don’t want 3rd or 4th rate non dualism with a Christian overlay, while Jesus-centered course students reject the aggressive anti-Christian bias. It stands to reason one cannot offer a unified curriculum, by offering a fractured curriculum.
But this is the legacy of Wapnick and to a lesser degree, Renard.
I don’t even know what to make of the ACIM community these days. At least from what I’ve seen online.
It just seems to be a “spiritual” business with everyone trying to find their niche. Then there is this person channeling this and that person channeling that. I sometimes just want to put down ACIM and walk away from it altogether. It feels sometimes rather embarrassing, because it sometimes feels cult like.
If you go to Amazon and read the reviews of Gary’s new book, “Love Has Forgotten No One”, I think this cult mentality becomes quite apparent, especially since there are 14- 5 star reviews written years before the book was released.
“sometimes feels cult like.”
Well, Eric, it feels like a cult because so much “stop think,” cult mind control tactics and language have been imported into Course teachings.
So what is “stop think,”? Its basically any language or tactic which challenges and shuts down critical thinking while allowing the speaker to control discourse and criticism. You will find it in nearly any church, religion, or spiritual organization.
I mean look at this blog post. Its an exercise in stop think. As I understand Sean’s argument, one cannot or should not criticize Renard or other course teachers, because such criticism is but a reflection of your own guilt. Or a waste of time. Or trivial, or tens of other excuses and dodges to under mind independent critical thinking.
Nice! This sets up the typical cult mind set where the naive and gullible are not allowed to think critically while certain privileged elites, ie, “teachers,” are allowed to think, determine what should be thought, and are given carte blanche to rain constant criticism and judgment on anyone and any subject they choose.
To be sure, this is a recent development in course circles. Prior to Renard and the new age proponents of “non dualism,” I never heard any of this “circle the wagon,” we are above criticism, “us against them,” kool aid drinking.
Moreover, you’d be hard pressed to find any of this cult think in all the hundreds of books written about the Course prior to the year 2000.
I mean I don’t get it. Who but a cult would give Renard’s DU to perspective ACIM students, where they are introduced in the first chapter to belittling and lampooning of other course teachers, while introduced to an authoritarian, ego-centric, judgmental, “only Wapnick and I teach the correct interpretation of the Course,” then set up a conceptual defense where Renard (and Wapnick) can criticize but can’t be criticized?
IOWs it smells like a cult, because all this psycho-spiritual babble is permeated with gross hypocrisy and irrationality and that is what is being taught. Don’t think, follow my commands and you will be saved.
John: I mean I don’t get it. Who but a cult would give Renard’s DU to perspective ACIM students, where they are introduced in the first chapter to belittling and lampooning of other course teachers, while introduced to an authoritarian, ego-centric, judgmental, “only Wapnick and I teach the correct interpretation of the Course,” then set up a conceptual defense where Renard (and Wapnick) can criticize but can’t be criticized?
IOWs it smells like a cult, because all this psycho-spiritual babble is permeated with gross hypocrisy and irrationality and that is what is being taught. Don’t think, follow my commands and you will be saved.
Eric: I don’t know either, but I do know that often times Gary’s fans will use the very words and tactics from Gary’s books that he uses to get the reader not to further question his story.
I have seen many times a Gary follower begin to question something about Gary’s story that doesn’t add up and then quickly say, ” oh that’s my ego.”
Well wait a minute. If something doesn’t add up it should be questioned. After all, Gary is making done extraordinary claims here and often authoritative. Whether Gary’s story is true does have an impact, because it then becomes a question of what he says to be infallible fact or merely an opinion. And I think this is where I don’t lump other teachers in to the idea that if I feel Gary is a fraud, then what about teachers like Tara Singh? That is apples and oranges, because Tara Singh is merely sharing his ideas about the course which the reader can either agree with or not agree with, but what is established is Singh is sharing his perception of the course. While Gary is making the claim that “two ascended masters” are presenting him with an infallible factual explanation of the course. According to Gary, this is the Holy Spirit coming to him and if you disagree with him, then you must be wrong.
If you go to Amazon and read my review of “Love Has Forgotten No One”, under the nic ,”beginnersmind” you will see that none of the people challenging my review actually really challenge what I actually said with a rebuttal. Instead they do the very thing you’re speaking about. Stop think tactics.
Thank you for sharing, J.
My own practice – as I have written about extensively – is pretty focused on service and relationship with my brothers and sisters – as a father, a son, a professor, a homesteader, a poet, a course student etc. So at that level, yes, I act as if my brothers and sisters are holy (to the best of my ability, of course – I am still learning and have a long way to go) and feel in doing so that I am being faithful to the teaching of A Course in Miracles.
That approach is entirely consistent with my personal understanding of the ACIM material, with the teaching of the only person I call a teacher – Tara Singh – and, incidentally, it is also consistent with Ken Wapnick’s approach to ACIM, at least for the last decade or so when he began to focus so clearly – and to my mind helpfully – on making our practice about our brothers and sisters.
Lets see if I can translate what you don’t make clear. At the level of perception you see brothers and thus must act and treat these perceived brothers as though they are real, but at the ultimate level of one mindedness, in the last analysis, there is only you. No shared Sonship. No souls making up the Sonship. No relationship to your creator. Just you realized as God.
My apologizes if this is not what you mean, but if you smile about solipsism, I would guess this is exactly what you mean.
My only reply is despite your poetic inclinations, you apparently have no developed sense of nuance for philosophic subtleties. One can only make solipsism a teaching of ACIM if one purposely misreads the text, and inserts one’s own authorship by the device of metaphor.
One indication you are wrong, is you are working on mistaken notion of “self,” as self-contained; whole, in the sense of autonomous, but without a dimension of communication and thus reducible to itself, for the sake of easy explanation.
In Course metaphysics, however, self is not self-contained and autonomous, but instead a relationship.
What relationship? Between Mind and thought, Father and Son, Creator and creation.
Consequently if you are assuming Self is a thing, not a relationship, then it makes sense when you reduce yourself to the last analysis–that you would be without relationship and without communication.
If you read the Course closely there is no indication that God has a Self without the Son. The Son is described as God’s Self. IOWs, God only had a Self through creation. Furthermore, the Self is shared. There is a Father in every Self and a Son in every self. The Son, in turn, can create a self or selves, or in the case of the ego, miscreate a self.
However “self” in ACIM is not isolated, self-contained and autonomous but always a relationship. Which is why solipsism is not part of course teachings.
Oh, gosh, J. “Solipsism” doesn’t just mean a particular philosophy; it also means “self-conceit.” When I pleaded guilty to it – emoticon included – I was just saying that I’m an ego.
Sheesh . . .
Look, most of us learn in time. It is possible to have a solid grasp of course metaphysics, while still behaving like an idiot. Or, to behave like a saintly know-it-all guru without having a clue what the course actually says or means. I don’t feel especially judgmental towards my brothers and sisters who are learning who and what they are in truth because I am learning, too.
There is a real lovelessness inherent in “I’ve got it and you don’t” that – having spent a lot of my life behaving in precisely that way – I am giving over now to better hands than mine. So these kinds of arguments are not especially interesting or helpful to me, especially when the focus shifts away from the idea and towards the brother or sister expressing it.
In reading over your comment here, I don’t see anything that leaps out as being flat wrong (apology accepted 🙂 ), though as you point out – that poetic inclination thing – I’d probably phrase some of it differently. Semantics, however, are not as interesting to me as working through ideas and their application in a gentle, supportive and friendly way.
Which leads me to my last point: thank you, J!
Well yeah. But I still don’t understand if you are a Solipsist in the philosophic sense. You aren’t telling me. How come?
You guys might have missed this interview.
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Gary Renard, author of, The Disappearance of the Universe, and Robert Perry, author of Signs: A New Approach to Coincidence, Synchronicity, Guidance, Life Purpose, and God’s Plan. During the interview Mr. Tsakiris and Gary Renard discuss verification of his work:
Thanks for sharing John. Actually, I’ve read the transcripts of it. I’ve had many conversations with Robert Perry, and while I may not agree with everything he says, I do like the fact that he freely admits that his interpretation of the course is just that, an interpretation. He is also much more level headed than Gary, obviously. I think he also has some great insights in some of the things said in the course that are much more thought provoking than trying to reverse or dismiss what the course is saying via the Renard approach. Perry’s approach to relationships I think is much more in line with the course than Wapnick or Renard
Seems Gary tried to do a kind of Conversations With God (Neale Donald Walsh) type of book in some ways and used the ascending masters twist… Gary’s book was not for me but Conversations With God opened the entire ACIM sha-bang for me and THANK GOD!!! So if Gary’s books/teachings help lead another to a deeper understanding of ACIM teachings then all the power to them. It’s a gateway to the truth and as the Course states there are 1000’s of paths.
I agree Lisa: thank God for the teachers and texts that open up the whole “ACIM sha-bang!” And there are a lot of them out there. If they help, great. If not, then we shake the dust off our shoes and move on.
Thanks for reading!
I’ve been listening to The Dissapearance of the Universe and really enjoying it as a tool to review the teachings of the ACIM. However, I just listened to a portion (in Chapter 5) where Pursah says that in her last incarnation she had practiced the Course for 41 years. But the Course is not that old, is it? Wasn’t it originally published in 1975? Even if she were among the people who had access to the manuscript before it was published, this still wouldn’t make sense considering that these conversations supposedly took place in 1992 . I wonder if I’m getting the facts wrong … Any thoughts?
Thanks for reading. I’m glad you’re finding Disappearance of the Universe a good read. It can be a very helpful book.
Time in A Course in Miracles is a bit different than we experience it in these bodies. If we are really following ACIM, then time is not so much a linear thing where something happens, and then it’s in the past forever, and that’s that. It’s more in the nature of everything happening all at once, a long time ago.
Basically, everything that happens “here” and “in the world” is a dream that ended long ago. It happened in a flash and then it ended. Thus, your future has “already happened” because you already dreamed it. It’s done. So when Pursah is talking about her last incarnation, it happens in our future but that’s just the illusion. That’s part of the dream. It sounds inconsistent to you and me in these bodies and this world, but in fact – according to ACIM’s understanding of time – it’s not.
This stuff can get confusing very quickly! But actually, Gary handles it very well in his book. If you are finding his teaching helpful and insightful, then I wouldn’t worry about it. Those metaphysical questions – what does ACIM teach about time and so forth – are not unimportant, but they are far less critical than learning how to become willing to really practice the Course and practice forgiveness and all of that. I don’t think that particular detail is actually inconsistent at all.
I hope that clears it up a little! Thanks for reading Marcela. Again, I’m glad you’re finding Gary’s book helpful. ACIM is a wonderful path and he can be a great teacher.
Actually, I don’t see an issue with this statement if it is in reference to Gary being Pursah’s past incarnation. I think basically, if Gary lives to about 80+ years old, then the statement will be accurate, as Gary has studied the course for 20 something years already (according to Gary) and he is 60 something now
I don’t believe that Gary is ‘enlightened’ but I do think he is willing to learn . I was drawn to his book because of some ‘experiences’ that I have had. I want to say that I am just an ordinary lady who does clerical work. I had no other interests too much in life but keeping my bills paid and getting my hair & nails done. Gary doesn’t truly understand (I think) what he was told. It is not really thrilling to be someone who has seen and felt ‘other’ things. I do believe in ACIM and think that Gary was visited & that the visitors spoke to him in a way that would keep his interests.
Stumbled upon your article. Yes, its wrong and fraudulent to claim superiority of teaching and interpretation, and ultimately spiritual authority based on blatantly fictitious “ascended masters. ”
It would be one thing for Renard to present DOU as fiction, or even coyly refuse to speak to whether a good read is fact or fiction, but to positively assert his book is an accurate account of real events and real entities, is a question of honesty and integrity. Only in a new age circus would someone unquestionably accept the position, I’m right and you are wrong because my wise cracking, alleged ascended masters told me so.
Give me a break. This cheapens and discredits scholarship of perhaps the most profound book ever written.
Thank you for reading and sharing.
In general, I think A Course in Miracles can readily withstand Gary Renard – it is beyond the ability of any one individual to undo or permanently impair. That’s as true for Gary as it is for Ken Wapnick or Tara Singh or Marianne Williamson. Or you and me for that matter! The course doesn’t really require protection or defense.
In my own experience, Gary’s writing was helpful for a period of time. It was a sort of bridge, really. I am deeply grateful to him for that, and always will be. That said, I don’t read Gary’s books anymore. Not because I think they misrepresent course teachings – in fact, I think they are deeply faithful to a fairly orthodox (a Wapnickian, if you will) view of ACIM – but because the whole ascended masters thing – and other extraneous drama – is a distraction from my practice. In that sense, I understand completely when people want to move beyond Gary’s teaching. Perhaps there comes a time, you know?
The thing is, I am not qualified to judge another person’s spiritual path, or to decide who their teacher should be, or what approach to A Course in Miracles is best for them. I have opinions about all that, of course, but that is not wisdom. That is not love. That is just egoic preference. In order for me to know whether someone should or should not read Gary Renard, and what conclusions they should draw from that reading, and where to go next, I would have to have knowledge of the whole plan of atonement. And that is quite beyond me, which is a good thing . . .
So in a sense, yes. I hear you. But you know, if we feel frustrated or angry with Gary, two things are going on. First, it is an opportunity for forgiveness – we can give attention to our anger and resentment and ask to see it differently. It is always a blessing when we can do this. Second, it is also a chance for us to move on from one public teacher who is perhaps not resonating for us to one who is resonant. I was given Gary’s “Disappearance of the Universe” on the same day I was given Tara Singh’s “Nothing Real Can Be Threatened.” One helped me understand certain aspects of A Course in Miracles in a relatively light-hearted way (Gary); the other changed my life (Taraji).
So again, if Gary Renard doesn’t work, we can just move on . . . to Tara Singh, as I did, or to David Hoffmeister, or Susan Dugan, or Ken Wapnick, or whomever . . . There are many lights on the way . . .
I don’t feel responsible for how the course is perceived publicly, and I don’t feel especially responsible for how other students practice the course. Some are friends and I know more about their journey than I do other people, and I am always grateful when we share and help one another, but in general I feel like the course meets us all where we are, and takes us as far as we’re ready to go. It’s personal. For some of us, Gary Renard plays an instructive role; nothing is beyond the Holy Spirit’s capacity to teach. It isn’t any more complicated than that which is good because there is real work to be done . . .
Anyway, thank you again. I appreciate your passion for the course; it is always a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and I feel blessed by it, truly.
“So again, if Gary Renard doesn’t work, we can just move on . . . to Tara Singh, as I did, or to David Hoffmeister, or Susan Dugan, or Ken Wapnick, or whomever . . . There are many lights on the way . . .”
Lol. How about diligently reading the text without an unnecessary and often counter-productive commentator and intermediary between the reader and the author?
I facilitated ACIM classes from the late eighties to the about 2005 –about 14 yrs. In my experience the text speaks to everyone regardless of education or religious sophistication if they are ready and willing to put out a little effort, That is because the student’s effort and persistence is the seed which establishes the working relationship between the author/Holy Spirit at many different levels, only one of which is cognitive understanding of ACIM theology. Its also because the author clearly designed the book for self-study.
As an long time observer of ACIM politics, in fighting, court battles, and celebrity teachers, its my opinion that the whole notion a student somehow needs a “teacher” to understand a book the student is unwilling to engage openly and directly has lead to the present state of ACIM disinterest and obscurity in the public sphere. Hence the default position, as designed, is private self-study.
As far as your suggestions of teachers, in my opinion they are all light weights, including Wapnick, with the exception of Tara Singh. If I wanted Advaita non dualism, where Jesus is a metaphor, I’d read Advaita Vendanta writers without a confusing and counter intuitive Christian overlay. Which again is another reason why ACIM as non dualism is increasing obscure and irrelevant and unnecessary, and a product of so called called “Course teachers” dumbing down the most profound book ever written.
Well, I don’t know if the course speaks to everyone – though I agree with you that education and religious acumen are not prerequisites to understanding and practicing it.
I also agree entirely with your point that “the student’s effort and persistence is the seed which establishes the working relationship between the author/Holy Spirit at many different levels, only one of which is cognitive understanding of ACIM theology.”
That is clear and well-put. Thank you.
I don’t think anybody “needs” an external teacher but some people find it helpful from time to time. You taught for many years, right? Did you not sometimes have students for whom you were a helpful guide?
A Course in Miracles is absolutely a self-study course – that point needs to be made more often than it is (I think you and I agree on that) but I have been helped by reading other students & teachers. I am only speaking from experience of course and who knows. Perhaps a time will come when I will lay aside all teachers.
Thanks again, J. I am very grateful for your thoughts, coming as they do from extensive experience.
“You taught for many years, right? Did you not sometimes have students for whom you were a helpful guide?”
That’s correct. By way of a degree in Philosophy and Edgar Cayce and intense study for several years.
OTOH, I question whether I would teach/facilitate Course groups today. Likely not. The present Course Community is toxic with so called teachers directly competing with the author for both authorship of The Course and teacher status.
As such I think it highly unethical and unhelpful to throw interested, potential students into this grist mill of competing and too often diametrically opposed thought systems and say in effect, “Pick your poison.”
“Non judgmental,” magnanimous, anything goes, “everything is true,” ACIM ecumenism is great for “teachers” selling books and workshop, but a very big disservice to entry level students. Competing thought systems especially at the beginning of a curriculum is a recipe for learning failure.
Which is exactly what one sees today at national ACIM conferences: Channelers of dead gurus, self-proclaimed “Reverends” of Churches no one has ever heard of, ascended masters, teachers claiming to be apostles or goddesses. Can you spell “phony”!
Unfortunately, as a present day Course teacher this is what you associating with, and give lip service approval to, and the context in which you are presumably ‘teaching the Course.”
So would I teach today? Likely not. Further, as a Christian and philosopher, if I knew nothing about ACIM, I’d likely be repelled by the blatant commercial appeal to low intelligence and cultivated gullibility.
Thank you, J. I wonder – given your experience and insight – how does this view of the ACIM community and its many teachers and students play out with the whole “projection makes perception” theme, in particular he notion that the external world is a “witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition” (T-21.in.1:5)?
I see a dilemma.
If you accept the Course as true as a matter of faith, then you can more easily say it doesn’t matter if the books are factually true, because it’s all just one more forgiveness exercise.
If however you are examining the Course for validity as a newcomer, fraud is a real issue. For example, suppose the same question were raised with respect to Helen: suddenly it goes to the heart of the assumption itself. We can probably agree it didn’t originate with her as a conscious effort, and the same is probably true of Renard.
On the other hand, that still leaves alternative source possibilities, even if we haven’t yet identified them. It also leaves the problem of consistency raised by Renard’s critics: can an ascended master, or any other source plausibly tied to the Divine, retain that authority if it commits theft or anything else? I for one, if I see footage of a Sai Baba being handed a watch before he pretends to “manifest” it seconds later on a stage for his devotees, consider the fraud a real problem no matter WHAT the content of the letter he babbles.
And that’s problematic. I think Renard is not himself a fraud, though he definitely seems to have serious emotional immaturity issues and rarely seems to address criticisms head on, it’s always hot-headed personal reaction that doesn’t suggest Course depth to me. Arten and Pursah on the other hand are at the same time brilliant AND sketchy. In the last book Love Has Forgotten No One, they didn’t have the guts, to my reading of it, to either call Gary on the carpet for his lack of directness to the issues OR to simply speak to those objections directly themselves.
Since I don’t accept the Course axiomatically, for me this is a serious problem. It doesn’t matter how good their theory is if I can’t seriously validate it in some credible way in my own experience. They claim practicing forgiveness proves it to us, and after a few years of trying, I see at best suggestiveness, not certainty, and that’s not yet good enough. They claim the universe is structured to be complicated and confusing by design, and the best I can say is maybe. They say they won’t appear to others in order to keep their material uniform, and I reply, why would someone not conclude that’s convenient?
And then there’s the content analysis Gary b*tches about, and I have a hard time asking, why does this not sound like a mortal-universe blunder by even a brilliant extraterrestrial or something? How can I trust as a source of truth that which evades valid questions of truth?
Arten and Pursah qualify their metaphysical absolutism in a few small respects, such as saying self-defense against physical attack is not meaningfully “self-attack” or saying, “Don’t forget to be normal.” To my reading of things, that validates fair and reasonable questions of consistency too – themselves included. They were I think right to call the Endeavor Academy guy on his own inconsistency issues, but since when do double standards fly? Until I float off into the clouds of la-la land myself, which seems some time still away, I will need to investigate the subject further – and “none of it matters” will not yet cut it for me. I’d love to have my questions substantively answered, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Thank you for sharing, PQ.
If proving Gary Renard right or wrong – fraudulent or authentic – is important to you, then go for it. Gather the evidence, study it closely, make a decision, and then get on with your practice. If “none of it matters” doesn’t cut it, then find what does cut it, and put it to the use that most resonates for you. It isn’t Gary’s course – or Helen’s, for that matter – but yours. Use it if and to the extent it is helpful.
Nobody has to study A Course in Miracles. Its efficacy, if it has any, is entirely personal. At the level of form, what works for me may or may not work for other students. It may work for me now but I may in time outgrow or move beyond it. I read Disappearance very closely; I didn’t read Renard’s third book at all.
Even Tara Singh, whose work has been the most helpful and clarifying of all the ACIM teachers with whom I am familiar, is no longer a daily necessity for me. We are learning in time, and in time – perhaps a great deal of it – we will leave teachers altogether in favor of the Holy Spirit only.
I simply do not find any value or purpose in trying to dictate to any other student what they should read or who they should follow or how they should approach the course. I trust the Holy Spirit will guide them as it guides me; I trust that God’s plan for salvation trumps mine.
Again, saying that is not abdicating my own responsibility to make decisions for myself and my practice. Personally, I don’t find Gary’s work helpful or necessary anymore, and I regard the whole debate around his authenticity as a big distraction from the real work. But that’s a decision I made. Another student will make a different one, and that may well be the most helpful one for them at that point in their learning process.
Trying to find certainty on the world’s terms – a certainty that is right for us personally and right for every other student – is a tricky endeavor. So far I haven’t seen anybody pull it off. Mostly I am drawn to those students and teachers who develop their own experience of the text and material itself, and then share from that primary experience without any overt investment in being spiritual authorities. Nobody gets it perfect, but some of them are sufficiently clear and helpful that I give them my attention.
Nobody accepts A Course in Miracles axiomatically. We all accept it conditionally, even though for many students those conditions remain hidden for a long long time. You just happen to be closer to seeing the essential dilemma right now – who knows why. So give attention to it: make a clear and careful decision about Gary and his work. What will remain?
For me, what remained was my need to be right – my sincere desire to be right based on my belief that right and wrong were possible and that consequences – possibly very dramatic consequences – were necessarily attached to being right or wrong. Intellectual clarity about the problem was helpful but not altogether salvational. So I gave attention to that – the idea of it, the way it framed itself, the way it avoided scrutiny, the interpretations it preferred, the interpretations it resisted. Gary wasn’t helpful at that point. I needed Tara Singh, Sri Aurobindo, Thomas Merton, Emily Dickinson and a few others. God is not hiding and the way is clearly marked, but we do have to make a decision to read the signs and follow them.
So read Gary or don’t read him. But do see the interior conflict he symbolizes, and give attention to it. For me, focusing on what is helpful now – as opposed to what is right forever – has been a useful approach, but of course your mileage will vary.
Thank you again for sharing in such an eloquent and thoughtful way. I am very grateful.
I appreciate the same care you’ve given your reply. In case they’re useful to anyone else, a few further thoughts.
I do feel I need to resolve the fraud question, even if based on my own poor life experience and nothing else. I’ve done some reading into the debate and will probably do it again. I do remember thinking Robert Perry’s examination of the plagiarism issues of “Pursah’s Gospel of Thomas” vs the Patterson/Meyer text looked hard to circumvent and that Renard essentially huffily sidestepping it. Which was a shame, as the Arten/Pursah texts are still the most intriguing thing I’ve yet run into, seemed like a good sketch of the core Course concepts, and were my introduction to them. Did the workbook, still want to read the Text. GRR book three, Love Has Forgotten No One, was not as good as the previous two I thought and suffered from Renard’s peevish self-vindication and issue evasions, which A&P to my disappointment didn’t help with much further, but it still had good interesting content I’m glad I read. It’d be nice to get some exposure to Tara Singh for reference too based on what you and others said, particularly with a hopeful eye to validational questions such as these.
Which then takes us to the experiential topic again. My problem is I’ve had very bad experiences trying to trust the Holy Spirit/God, and made it through the workbook relying heavily on the author’s preface that acceptance was not necessary, and we might even resist much of it as we did the exercises (candor appreciated). In fact, in both the Renard stuff and the workbook, claims that good faith listening and guidance can be relied on were usually a hit against, based on my experience, anytime those came up :-/
For me, the question of Renard’s, or even Helen’s validity, is foundational. At the point I concluded inauthenticity in either case, I’d simply save myself the time (another expression in the DU/YIR/LHFNO texts that appealed to me) and drop them in my search. Given the GR material’s role in my ACIM interest, it could work as a real hit in reverse too. In maybe a reversal of how I read your take, it’s actually the intellectual consistency, at least in theory, that engaged my interest as far as it has. I do appreciate the relative perspective that people’s experiences differ, and I always liked the Buddhist advice of when you find a man seeking truth, accompany him, but when you find one who has found it, flee. But you suggest you haven’t seen anyone pull off certainty; maybe that would exclude people like Wapnick and others? Even A&P dismissed such a full relativism, and I’d have some trouble in theory disagreeing with that.
And I don’t see that as incidental. From even an ACIM perspective, the author/Jesus says the course is mandatory and inevitable, it’s only when we choose to take it that he claims is optional. Claims like that I prefer to validate up or down. But the main hit against the Course in any form to me is the usual “The HS will guide you” line, which leaves me pretty unimpressed.
That said, your points are helpful, and I can at least see them out of habit from the inner conflict symbolism angle you mention, I just wish I could do it with more conviction one way or the other. I still love the time saving idea, but its other face is, can the works that say the CIM are it be relied on – as well as is it a bad indicator if something smells in things like the Renard stuff? It’d be nice if the “willingness only” and “at the level of the mind” practice were truly independent of all the search and worldly phenomena: but how to tell? The answer still seems fuzzy for at least now. Maybe something in the Text will help when I get to that too. No promises either way; one can only cross the fingers.
Certainty in the world of form is not possible; that is all I am saying. Somebody loves vanilla ice cream, somebody loves chocolate (and they are both wrong – black raspberry is best). There are certainly people who are very peaceful and happy, and people who are very consistent – some of whom are students of A Course in Miracles – but most of us are stumbling along with varying degrees of grace, finding our way. It’s tempting to want to find the one thing, the right thing that fixes all that – but truth is internal, a matter of mind – of content, not form. It’s not out there. This is why teachers like Tara Singh are always saying that it is our interpretation with which we have to deal. That is the issue, and nothing else is the issue.
Truth is true – that’s not relative – but our experience in the world of form is relative. The distinction is important. The suggestion I am making is that as we pursue truth – knowing God and Self as One in Love – we are going to move through a lot of varied forms in the world and no one is better than the other. Love is love, but Buddhism can teach us that as well as ACIM as well as good and sustained psychotherapy. That’s where the relativism enters – in form, not in content.
I didn’t know Ken personally; his thinking changed a lot over the years, and his approach to the course’s public presentation did too. I don’t hold that against him; in fact, it speaks to his integrity and openness. I did correspond with him, and found him to be gracious and supportive. I liked him. His writing has been very helpful to me, in its way.
A Course in Miracles is only one form of the universal curriculum, or course (e.g., M-1.4:1); all of us follow the curriculum – that is required – but the form changes. Buddhism here, Zoroastrianism there. One of them is most helpful for us – hence the importance of making a decision and then bringing it into application – but it is not inherently better than the others; it’s just the right fit for where we are at this point in time.
Maybe ACIM is not for you. Who knows? There are a lot of similar approaches to the problem: Krishnamurti (who was Tara Singh’s teacher), Joel Goldsmith, and others (you sound like you know what you’re talking about so perhaps you are already familiar with them and could suggest others as well). Even David Bohm – a physicist who worked with Einstein, and later began applying his prodigious intelligence to thought – has produced remarkably insightful and, to my mind, helpful work untangling the relationship between truth and illusion and our relationship to that division.
Anyway . . .
Thanks again for sharing, PQ. I appreciate your thoughts very much.
We are all teachers; we are all students. How could it be otherwise? And, despite being assured that we need do nothing, that understanding is unnecessary for salvation, ego in body form — at least this ego housed in this body — still must believe that I can think my way to “heaven,” else why do I try?
For me, the lovely paradox of all of my ACIM study is that intellect was required to take me to the door or to the edge (or whatever metaphor speaks to you), but now it is an obstacle to recognizing the Faith that abides in my Heart, the trust that God Is, that eventually will take make through or make the leap to rest where I have always been.
In other words, (to use a phrase you are fond of, Sean) my intellect can talk the talk, but it cannot walk the talk … that is beyond idea. As I read moments ago in Chapter 11: God or the Ego….
“The ego analyzes, the Holy Spirit accepts.”
“The ego focuses on error and overlooks truth.”
“Every brother has the power to release you, if you choose to be free. You cannot accept false witness of him unless you have evoked false witnesses against him. If he speaks not of Christ to you, you spoke not of Christ to him. You hear but your own voice, and if Christ speaks through you, you will hear Him.”
It’s all about Love, isn’t it? And Oneness….
Thank you Cheryl. In many ways, your thinking on this issue reflects my own understanding as well. In particular, this idea that the intellect can take us only so far . . . I have been rereading some of Thomas Merton’s work lately – he was very important to me in my early twenties – and reflecting on this idea that we have particular gifts and that, when given to God, glorify God, which is simply a way of saying they remember for us – with others – the present grace of God. I wonder if intellect – or academic acumen – is a gift in that nature? Certainly Merton was brilliant, and his brilliance was illuminating for many people. And lately, too, I have been attentive to those students whose practice and experience of ACIM is very moving to me but who are not especially talkative about it, and who are not especially adept at explaining it. I don’t mean that in the disparaging way it could sound – rather, I am beginning to appreciate that we come to the course from myriad perspectives, with myriad talents, and no one transcends the other. The experience of love is felt – how we talk about it after is just a detail.
I do think it is all about Love – and that is a good way to view our experience as bodies in the world. What helps us remember love? What distracts us?
Great quotes, by the way – very timely and a propos. This business about being saved by our brothers and sisters is incredibly important to me – I resisted it for a long time! But more and more I understand it as the backbone of the course, and a significant part of what separates it from other paths that are approximately similar.
If I recognized God in me
Saw Her while looking at you
Also: side note: loved the image of carrying an ocean within that can be tossed to the moon.
Yes. That is it exactly. Love is felt. The trying to put it into words is all ego. And that’s not bad…or good, it’s just the way it is. Love is something so beautiful, it begs to be shared. And, although each of us has had our holy instants where Love both fills and negates time and space (those “If I recognized God in me, Saw Her while looking at you” moments),
more often we attempt to share with one another through our words. And well, words lead to interpretation and misunderstanding and ultimately, they are just words.
Which leads me to my favorite line from Disappearance of the Universe. It is simply this: Everything except God is metaphor. And if that’s the only thing I remember from all the writing of Gary Renard, it is enough.
Thank you, Cheryl. I think trying to share about all this has value, especially when we do it from a space of humility, or at least recognizing the relative futility of language. Patience and gentleness seem to go a long way . . . I say this as a man who – as a lawyer surely but even now as a teacher and writer – really has to struggle with not being a self-righteous know-it-all. Opportunities to heal about, thank God!
Wow !!! I just want to say thanks Sean. You have provided a forum that allowed students/teachers of various viewpoints to share with all of us. This “sharing” has been very helpful to me.
You’re welcome, Rob. Thank you for reading – and you’re right – thanks are due to all the thoughtful people who have contributed and enlarged this post . . . Thanks again, Rob!
The course teaches that we, the spirit, create this duality and every experience it includes. This leads to the result that the reader (we) created the Disappearance-book, its author and Arten&Pursah. Having said this, the question whether Renard made up the story or the book’s content is a real experience of Renard doesn’t need to be asked at all.
Quantum Physics confirms in numerous experiments that the observer collapses the wave into a so-called particle and creates what we see as vibrating energy (matter so to speak). Not Renard but the reader of Renard’s book makes up the story of Arten&Pursah by observing it with the intention to read what he wants to read as an unconcious guidance from our true self (the spirit) to escape his divine coma that he is trapped in. What we witness here, might be the rising insight what happened to us and the developing mechanisms to wake ourself up.
Another question that we must ask ourselves: Could it be the case that a real living human organism is in some state of coma, creates a realm where he thinks he is pure spirit/conciousness/god that in turn creates the universe as we know it today? 1: Human in a matter universe –> 2: Accident with Coma+wild coma phantasies –> 3: Idea of a Universe as a non-existing duality-illusion. Like a dream in a dream or Vanilla Sky (Movie with Tom Cruise).
If god just is and has no space, time, body, etc. how could he create a space / time based illusion of a universe? If god is perfect, how is a son possible that has imperfect hallucinations. Everything is god. God is perfectly error free. This eliminates the possibility of an imperfect thinking “son”. By the way: Why should god have a son? The concept of a son is against the statement that god just is. In this theory there can’t be a unit that separates itself as some sort of son from something that just is. Think about that for a while. I found more logic gaps in ACIW but don’t wanna spam this forum.
Thank you, Heddies. You’re not spamming anything; these are fun and interesting and helpful questions and ideas. I appreciate them very much.
And I like the phrase “divine coma” very much . . .
Most physicists I read and talk to advise extreme caution (to put it kindly) when using wave/particle duality to explain/explore/explicate consciousness. The leap that a lot of non-scientists/armchair theologians make is not as simple as it appears. In essence, the subatomic levels to which you refer do not meaningfully correspond to the denser, macro levels that tend to characterize the world and bodies in which we live.
I agree with you – though for different reasons – that Renard is here because we want him. There was clearly an appetite for that sort of thing – given the nature of A Course in Miracles, somebody was going to come along with ascended masters and all that drama. They always do. As long as we want to project spirituality outward, somebody will be there to take it. If not Renard, somebody else. That’s just how it goes.
Although Gary’s work (specifically, Disappearance) was helpful to me at the beginning of my ACIM study, it no longer is. The drama and distraction around ascended masters, and who believes and who doesn’t, became too much. Other teachers – notably Tara Singh – were so much more grounded and helpful for me. Besides, Gary’s work is essentially a slightly sexier version of Ken Wapnick’s, and Ken is much more accessible. In my limited experience, a lot of readers of Gary eventually migrate over to Ken.
I also agree with you – again, I suspect on a different basis – that the question is not “is Gary Renard right or wrong?” However – and this is important – it’s obviously a question that most students need to answer. Even you and I – who on one level don’t seem particularly troubled by the whole Renard brouhaha – are here talking about it still. Why? Giving attention to what we see in Renard – if we think he’s wrong, then why? If we think he’s right, or want him to be right, then why? – will lead to more insight than simply taking a stand.
The question, to me, is always what is helpful – and what is helpful changes over time for all of us, and we are all in different intellectual/spiritual/psychological spaces so what is helpful for me may not be so for you. When our focus is on helping and allowing ourselves to be helped, then the rest of it – the right, the wrong, the conflict, the debate – tends to dissipate. The real work is not solving the external.
With respect to “son” . . . All language is symbolic and as long as we need to use it to communicate, then we’re going to have to indulge symbolism. Of course, God doesn’t have a son! Or a daughter. Or anything. There isn’t really even God. That, too, is just a word vainly aspiring to encompass what we don’t know. So it’s important to be gentle in this regard both with ourselves and others as we communicate. All nouns are suspect!
Thank you again for sharing. I appreciate your thoughtfulness & insight very much. Please do keep on with it, if it’s helpful or important or whatnot.
Dear Sean, thank you for your precious time that you took to answer my thoughts!
I like your thoughts Heddies 🙂
Lol. I really don’t get it. How helpful is it for a proponent of a A Course in Miracles to write stuff like, “Of course, God doesn’t have a son!,” then direct a prospective student to the Course text, where the author states as a fact, and not a metaphor, that God has a son.
Does it occur to you, that a bright, educated student will likely carefully read the text, and come quickly to the conclusion either you are right and the author is lying, or you are mistaken and the author is writing the truth?
Moreover, if the author is lying about a fact, which he could easily avoid by simply writing, “Indeed, God is One and God has no son,” then clearly the author is impeaching himself and has no value as a teacher, and the Course has little value as a curriculum.
Of course, all language is symbolic, but if you are attempting to convey that x is true, and not x is true, then you are doing more than saying language is symbolic, you are saying language cannot convey a thought which cannot be rendered meaningless by the inherent ambiguity of language.
That’s kind of a Post-Modern approach, where truth is hierarchical and oppressive, and statements are not meant to “be true,” but “interesting.” On the other hand, there is no indication the author of the Course was a post modernist, so somehow I doubt the “pick and choose what I like,” cafeteria plan is what the author means when he says the Course is a required curriculum and he, (Jesus) is the teacher, and more, “Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum.”
In other words, I think any text which describes itself as a teaching curriculum should be read literally as statements of facts, if the text is going to fulfill the goal of teaching.
Sure it occurs to me that serious students will study the course and come to different conclusions than those with which am presently engaged. How could it be otherwise?
As I’ve said often in our exchange, nobody has to read what I write, and everybody is welcome to shuffle along – or linger – as they see fit. That is how learning happens. Some of my best learning experiences have been with educators with whom I profoundly disagree. When those disagreements are handled respectfully and given full attention, learning happens. Intellectual disagreement isn’t a crisis but an opportunity.
A Course in Miracles is a text composed of language (signs) which means it is metaphorical and heuristic. That is what a text is, even those supposedly authored by Jesus. The beauty of this fact is that you don’t have to agree with it in order for it to be true (or helpful): it naturally includes your disagreement as a condition of its truth.
The problem here isn’t that you want to be right, and believe that you are right – that is natural enough. The problem is that you want others to be wrong as a consequence of your being right. And, especially with respect to this particular text, that is both impossible and unloving.
You worry too much what I think of Gary Renard. I think you’re a smart guy and a devoted ACIM student. I’m glad you’re here.
“A Course in Miracles is a text composed of language (signs) which means it is metaphorical and heuristic. That is what a text is, even those supposedly authored by Jesus. The beauty of this fact is that you don’t have to agree with it in order for it to be true: it naturally includes your disagreement as a condition of its truth.”
Yes, this is an post modern type argument and perspective. Of course any query into what you mean when you write, “truth,” leads to infinite regress of shifting meanings of “truth,” written in language which is metaphorical and incomplete, subject to further interpretation and deconstruction, ad infinitum.
The big philosophical problem with post modernism, specifically Derrida-type deconstructionism, is post modernism critiques language and text, and is not commenting on reality or objective reality.
For example, when Derrida writes, ” God is a linguistic dilemma,” he is talking about text and language, that words point to other words, and is not commenting on God or whether there is a God, or whether he can prove or disprove the existence of God.
In a similar manner, when you argue the ambiguity of text and language, and argue to the effect, that the Son is a linguistic dilemma, that an apparent statement of fact is equally valid taken as either true or false, you are commenting on text and language, not commenting on reality, and like Derrida, would be forced to admit to an objective reality not subject to textual ambiguity on the pains of your entire argument leading to an reductio ad absurdum. Or alternatively, meaninglessness and radical uncertainty.
Given that the entire thrust of Post Modernism and Post Structuralism is asserting truth is oppressive, temporary, relative and uncertain, one should intuit that these epistemologies are largely incompatible with and antagonistic to any religion or spirituality, and as such, post modern arguments imported to religious discussion should be use with great discretion. After all, the buzz one gets from deconstructing oneself to God and a state of self-induced solipsism, is not what any spiritual tradition teaches as enlightenment, nor is it what the author of the course teaches.
Finally, if I were to ever again teach/facilitate a course class, I would make the differences and contrasts between Post Modern epistemological theories and ACIM epistemological assertions a central and important part of what I teach. Other than that, I guess we agree to disagree.
I’ve been agreeing to disagree since you first showed up, John. That’s really the point here. We use what works (what is helpful) and we discard what doesn’t. Letting other people do the same is simply the loving thing to do.
Another issue that arises when I read the disappearance book and the Introduction of ACIM. We allegedly have no free will as everything is already decided like in a movie script. Why does ACIM introduction say that I can decide when I want to learnt what. This is a logical collision.
Another one: If every “soul” or we could name it fragment of the holy spirit needs to be redeemed in order to allow us to get back to unity (GOD) what about the problem of new born people in an exponential growing rate PLUS the fact that in our observable universe that contains around 100 bn galaxies of which every galaxy has between 100 to 300 bn stars including orbiting habitable planets, are way more lifeforms that also reproduce themself exponentially and as a last consequence need to be redeemed or enlightened to free the sleeping holy spirit. Questions over questions with a lot of room for being sceptic although I personally think that Helen Schucman as an atheist and a woman with a professorship at Clombia University would never risk her reputation for publishing a book like ACIM when it’s completely unsure whether the book becomes a success or not.
There’s something wrong in my opinion. A perfect spaceless, timeless pure loving entity would never have a thought of separation or fear or guilt. There is an answer to this contradictions: God is bodyless. He knows everything and is capable of doing everything. There is no time, just pure bliss. He was at the edge of getting insane because this state is mega-boring and he created intentionally this sort of Holodeck (Star Treck) including a forget-function plus time&space including laws of physics, aging, war, competitions, etc. Pure adventure but somehow the exit function doesn’t work that well and a fraction of his divine mind speaks to himself in the form of entities (angels, Jesus, ascended masters, book authors, me, you, etc.) trying to exit this mental holodeck. THIS is the missing puzzle piece. Everything else is not logic.
With respect to free will I am lately enamored of Schopenhauer’s observation that “man can do what he wills but cannot will what he wills.”
Neither Disappearance or ACIM are static or isolated texts: they both reflect authorial inclinations and biases and so forth which are in turn affected by those of the reader. That some tension should exist with respect to free will is natural.
The question for me is not merely what does a given spiritual (or apologetic) text say, but what is my experience. Do I experience my will as free? Or as something else?
More and more it strikes me that “free will” in any absolute sense is simply another comforting fiction. Our wills are curtailed to varying degrees and we did not make them!
In terms of the future (people born in a thousand or ten thousand years) a close read of the text makes clear that time is happening all at once: so those lives are happening now, as our lives are happening now, as the lives of the disciples of Buddha are happening now and so forth.
I’m not saying you have to agree with that (there are plenty of spaces in the ACIM text in which intelligent and reasonable people can find logical gaps or simply opportunities to explore various metaphysical questions) but that’s its view of time.
I haven’t bothered much with the biographical speculation about Helen and Bill: Helen was a self-declared atheist, but was also clearly a deeply spiritual woman, a well-educated woman, an almost scarily intelligent woman, and a very good writer. I tend to read A Course in Miracles that way, without worrying why she didn’t put her name on it or chose to publish it when and how she did. She was an artist; she created this work and then she was done: what happened after was of less interest than the creation itself.
But that is just an opinion, a very shallow level of thought and should be taken with not one grain of salt but the whole damn shaker.
Your sense of what God is resonates: it does not strike me as at odds with A Course in Miracles (or plenty of other traditional and non-traditional spiritual/religious paths). For me, it is hard to ascribe motives to that which transcends knowledge (or logic) and cannot really be known by the limited brain. But, again, that’s just my sense of things at the present time.
Thanks for sharing, Heddies, and giving me a chance to think some of this stuff through for myself.
Great thoughts, Sean! Also a pleasure reading your answer again.
Having to prove the holes in someones story is one of the egos main defenses of survival and chains that keep us bound to this body. It would seem to me that it is fearfulness that rules this idea rather than love. Nice commentary in true spirit of the hOly Spirit and what it stands for
Thank you for reading & sharing, Jeffrey . . . very grateful!
So have you read Bruce Frazer MacDonald, PhD’s, The Thomas Book? You speak of reading material and going with your gut. I read Renard’s books. When reading Your Immortal Reality, I discovered inconsistencies with information found in The Disappearance of the Universe and within Your Immortal Reality. I felt the information was a joke, and a lie. Therefore, I began doing research, and found Dr. MacDonald and his work.
Since you are so open to reading things and then making a decision, may I suggest reading Bruce Frazer MacDonald, PhD’s books, and check out thomastwin. com and see what you feel.
I concur, we make our own decisions on what feels right for us. My gut says Renard is a true trickster, a master magician. He is perhaps one of the most clever magician of all time. But his works are just that, tricks. Forgiveness, acceptance, unconventional love, are wonderful concepts and we all strive to be openhearted, accepting, genuine, and forgiving. I could not accept Renard’s work for anything but fiction. It is wonderful that so many people find him inspirational. I think he is a fraud, that believes his own lies.
Dr. MacDonald’s words feel and felt like truth to me. We are all on different levels of spiritual development. What is truth for some is not intended for others. Yet, Truth is truth, does it change?
I hope you check out MacDonald’s work, it is truly fascinating and truly inspirational.
Thank you for sharing, Delores. As I think is clear in the post and comments, I do not find Gary Renard’s work personally helpful. Indeed, it was only helpful for a brief time, and then mostly in terms of seeing the way Renard was mostly parroting Ken Wapnick. However, his writing is helpful for some students at a certain juncture in their study of ACIM. It is really not my place to insist they study some other text or teacher. We all figure this stuff out as we go.
I am only nominally familiar with Mr. MacDonald’s work. It strikes me as the same approximate flavor as Gary’s – MacDonald had a unique spiritual experience that gave him some special knowledge about the human condition that he is now sharing with others, not unsurprisingly in books one has to pay for! Again, this work may be helpful to some folks at some point in their study. I suspect there are also folks who find it disingenuous and manipulative.
I’m glad it works for you; I am not inclined to give it more than a glance myself.
Does Truth change? It’s tempting to say it can’t! Or shouldn’t. But I am interested these days in the argument that one can even know that Truth, or Reality, or God, or whatever word one wants to use. If this Truth falls outside the horizon signified by our perceptual and congitive capacities, then how can we even speak of it?
One begins to see the wisdom in living simply and kindly in a local way, attending to that which arises without a lot of drama or self-involvment. This is given to us! Why gussy it up with fancy personal stories and dramatic spiritual insights?
I am less enamored than I was of folks who think they have “the answer,” and I was pretty disenchanted when I started this whole enterprise. It’s a tricky path that one follows – twists and turns, confused teachers and deceitful teachers all abound! Be attentive, be kind to others, and – as brother Bob Dylan suggested – don’t wait for a weatherman to tell you where the wind is blowing.
I have been following the discussion for a while now without feeling I had register or to say anything until you, Sean, said the following:
“MacDonald had a unique spiritual experience that gave him some special knowledge about the human condition that he is now sharing with others, not unsurprisingly in books one has to pay for! Again, this work may be helpful to some folks at some point in their study. I suspect there are also folks who find it disingenuous and manipulative.”
Publishers put a lot of time, effort and money into publishing books. Don’t you pay for ACIM and the books you say you have by the teachers of ACIM? And did you pay for them or did you get them for free? And if for free, who was left paying the expenses of publication for you? Everyone wants something for free but they don’t want to pay the publisher for his/her work so he/she can eat and support a family on the work of his/her hands. If it cost anything, then it must be fake — is that what you are implying? Aren’t you asking for financial support at the bottom of this page? You have to live too, of course.
And that last little bit about a published author you have not read, “I suspect there are also folks who find it disingenuous and manipulative”? That nasty dig is the most disingenuous and manipulative comment in this whole discussion. Why don’t you go to Amazon and see what people have to say there about MacDonald’s work. None of them mention disingenuous and manipulative and they all praise him for his work, but you have managed to manipulate the reader’s opinion even without reading the one you condemn. You condemn MacDonald without having read him, and you post an opinion which is based on admitted ignorance. Has ACIM taught you to do these things? Maybe that is what Helen was afraid of when she didn’t want to publish ACIM. People would have to actually pay for it and many might think it was disingenuous and manipulative.
I hope that in all honesty you put this into the discussion. I suspect you will not because of what it reveals. Buy in your heart, whether you put it into the discussion or not, you will know what you have done here. Shame. Shame. There are things which are right and wrong after all.
Surely your own comment on MacDonald states why he might be valuable: you say he had a “unique spiritual experience that gave him some special knowledge about the human condition that he is now sharing with others.” Is that manipulative, or is that an honest concern for others? That is the kind of book publishers are always looking for to publish.
Thank you for your note, Jack.
“Nominally familiar” means I’ve read enough to know that I don’t need to read more. Life is too short to give attention to writers whose work is not personally resonant for us. This should not be controversial. 🙂
MacDonald is claiming that he has had a unique experience and insight into the human experience – personal contact with Jesus, Elijah and Moses in which they discussed a project about the spiritual evolution of humanity. He talks about psychic powers, reincarnation and claims that his insights have “only been hinted at in most mystical texts or spiritual self-help guides.” Pretty bold stuff!
To me – and to most folks who understand marketing – that’s a page right out of Gary’s playbook.
And you know what? It’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. People want this kind of material so folks are going to give it to them. It was ever thus.
Yes. Writers should get paid. I make part of my living as a writer. My point has more to do with the means by which we bring our work to people’s attention. Claiming that we’re special, that what we’re sharing is uniquely blessed by Jesus, etc . . . that feels like a marketing ploy, when it doesn’t feel outright dishonest. I wouldn’t go there, but that’s me. Your mileage – or MacDonald’s – may vary, as the kids say.
Is it possible that Jesus really did meet with Bruce while Bruce was briefly dead? No. It’s not. But it is possible that Bruce believes this. Helen pretty clearly did, at least for part of the writing project that eventually became A Course in Miracles. It turns out that PhDs are not a defense against ignorance. We all want to believe (as opposed to know).
Look, if MacDonald’s work is helpful – for you, for someone else – then fine. Study it, use it, share it, defend it against the likes of me, whatever. We are where we are; there’s no upside to pretending otherwise.
But if it a day comes when you feel like MacDonald – like Renard – is confused or manipulative or redundant or just plain not helpful, that’s okay, too.
Sean: I came back to this thread after reading it through a while ago, and was delighted to find you had reopened it. So I felt guided to add a few comments. Overall I love your commentary and your attitude of loving detachment. You are like the referee as the egos, mostly male egos of course, battle it out with a fierceness that only egos are capable of. There seems to be little awareness from anyone that they actually are egos and that they are manifesting in an extreme way exactly what the Course wants to save us from.
I personally have made my peace with both Gary Renard and Ken Wapnick. I did regard Gary as a pretender and thus in a sense a deceiver – I think the evidence is incontrovertible that the ascended masters are sourced in his mind – but hang on a second, doesn’t everything out there come from our minds, and never leave its source? Secondly, though Gary’s ego has been tremendously inflated by his deception, and he will have to deal with that inevitably himself when his own day of judgement comes, I don’t believe that he has really hurt anyone else. On the contrary (and I am sure this is the main consideration in his own mind that holds off the guilt still) very large numbers of people have been led to the Course and to the Truth by first reading his books.
Regarding Ken, I can see very clearly his lifelong attempt to claim ownership of the Course, both physically, by the attempt at copyright, and intellectually by his claim to be its sole interpreter. Despite his surprising lack of real self-awareness of any of these things, his teachings have nevertheless had an enormous influence on the enlightenment of thousands of Course students, including myself.
Also I happen to agree, in a large part, with his, and Gary’s, interpretation of the Course. The thing that everybody must understand about non-duality is that it is an experience, not an idea. (Some would say that it is even beyond experience, but all that still is an idea, so I won’t go there) You can argue with an idea, but not with an experience. Actually as an idea non-duality doesn’t even make logical sense. It is perhaps better to call it oneness, bliss, love or something else. So now you have somebody like J. the philosopher guy above arguing passionately against the idea of non-duality (or a non-dualistic interpretation of the Course). It is really just level confusion. You might think, though, that he would have got some clue. He probably just doesn’t get the headaches that most people do when confronted by that kind of intellectualizing. On the contrary he seems to thrive on it. It is definitely not at the level of Spirit, though, that is for certain.
Anyway, thank you for your facilitation of this thread
Thanks for the kind words, Martin.
Your assessment of Gary is pretty consistent with my own sense of his work, and also with my experience of reading him. Gary seems to be helpful at an early stage of one’s study – when the drama (Jesus dictated it! You’re not a body!) matters more than what it’s actually teaching.
I don’t know how Gary views his work. It’s possible he believes it’s all true, and it’s also possible that he rationalizes any deception with the helpfulness. Honesty does seem like a good policy but minds can be tricky.
I have often wished that I had known Ken better personally. I corresponded with him only briefly in the year before he died. Folks who knew him well claim – especially the later years of his life – that he was truly easy-going, light-hearted, open-minded. My own sense of him as lacking self-awareness comes from a distance that is perhaps distorting.
Ken’s cultivated public persona – as custodian of the course and its “first teacher” – have always seemed grandiose to me. On the other hand, Ken has never felt foreign to me. We’re both academic-minded folks. I suspect faced with the same circumstances he faced, the odds are fair I’d’ve take the same or similar steps.
Interestingly, where Gary feels mostly irrelevant now, Ken remains an important teacher in my course experience.
I’m curious: in your course studies did you ever read Tara Singh’s work?
Yeah, nonduality . . . One of the things that really helped me with the course – and with understanding/experiencing/learning nonduality – was realizing that its focus was actually what Helen said all along: introducing one to their inner teacher, which it called the Holy Spirit. When my focus shifted to this relationship, or experience, then getting the course on an intellectual level sort of dissipated.
On the other hand, a relatively rigorous intellectual approach is probably what allowed me to move beyond the distractions that Gary Renard posed, and to tease out the helpfulness in Ken’s teaching (from all the possessive managerial stuff), so maybe it’s not all bad.
Thanks again for reading and sharing. I appreciate your thoughtfulness very much.
Hi Sean: Yes, non-duality is a difficult one all right. If someone instead were to simply say “I am in bliss” or “I am experiencing Love, Joy and Peace” would anyone respond “No you’re not”? I don’t think so, but that’s what people are saying who argue against non-duality (it’s only called that instead of oneness because it’s a translation of the Sanskrit, an indication that as an idea it just hasn’t had a place in western thought until very recently).
Not that I by any means experience it all the time. I am in need of the divine form of the Holy Spirit to guide me in every moment towards it, and the forgiveness teachings of Jesus in the Course, that great gift that even the great Masters of Vedanta and Buddhism do not consciously advocate as a spiritual path, even though they are practicing it constantly themselves. The Buddhist ‘Metta’ and the Indian ‘Karma Yoga’ are probably the closest to it, but they still fall quite a bit short.
I’m also deeply indebted (if that is the right word) to the many Course ‘teachers’ in human form. I have heard of Tara Singh, in fact I have two of his books “Nothing Real Can be Threatened” and “A Gift For All Mankind.” He presents a unique perspective, a very personal one. I suspect he was one of those with a personal charisma that was very attractive to a small group of those who were around him most of the time.
My most ‘special’ teacher is David Hoffmeister, and there is a personal element there, I must admit, even though David has a large number of other ‘followers’ worldwide.
Yes, although I believe the Course is a self-study course (while never using those words itself), it clearly, in the Manual particularly, but really throughout the entire book, emphasizes the path of communication, relationship and human interaction. It seems to me that you might believe this also.
(Thinking on this comment prompted this post).
Never having met Tara Singh I can’t speak to his charisma. But since teaching is in part a performative art, effective teachers do generally possess some degree of charisma. I’m told Ken Wapnick was a hoot in person, a quality that did *not come out in his writing and videos.
I often point to Singh because by virtue of his training with XX and XX, and then his long-standing and deep relationship with Krishnamurti, his view of the course was a bit more sophisticated and less conflicted than a lot of traditional teachers, whose training is in western-based psychology, and inevitably tracks the self-improvement projects that tend to dominate our capitalist/Christian mode.
It’s not that the west doesn’t have a tradition of nonduality – it does. But the writers and thinkers in whom it appears & is explored & articulated – Wittgenstein, Kant, Husserl, Darwin, Schroedinger, Maturana et cetera – are hard to read and understand and otherwise bring into application. Most of us don’t have the patience, let alone the critical reading & thinking skills.
That relative inaccessability *is the lure of the East (Zen, Advaita Vedenta, et cetera) which has generally done a better job both of explicating nonduality and giving folks something to do while figuring it all out. It’s true a lot of western practitioners have simplified & commercialized those traditions almost beyond recognition (e.g., Joel Goldsmith and William Samuels) but still.
Tara Singh’s training and experience allowed him to bypass that conflict. So his reading of A Course in Miracles – and his ability to integrate it into our lived experience – is somewhat unique in the ACIM canon. It is wholistic in satisfying ways. It is practical, efficient, effective.
In my experience, a lot of students resist Singh for precisely those reasons: it is too much like our embodied life in the world! Insufficiently mystical, philosophical, spiritual. Why the focus on service to others? Why the emphasis on ending war and violence? Those are just illusions . . .
To which one might reply: well, yes. And no. And also, neither yes nor no. 🙂
Of course we are all where we are, and so the teacher who resonates for one student will not for another. I do think the spiritual process is less a journey and more in the nature of an infinitely expanding dance floor. Partners vary, the tune varies, the steps vary, but dancing is forever.
I’ve been chipping away at ACIM for 26 years, applying it to the one pot boiler of a not always so holy relationship over that time, plus in other areas of my life. Still with that one man against all odds. I picked up the Gary Renard book a few months ago out out curiosity after hearing it being promoted on a podcast. In general, I think it might be most useful to people who have not studied ACIM deeply, or who had trouble getting to the guts of it. For me the vibration of GR’s book was not in the place I want to be (as opposed to David Hoffmeister who I just properly discovered today). I have had all kinds of amazing spiritual experiences as a result of studying ACIM, and although it hasn’t been easy, it has many times been miraculous. I felt DH most represented my insights. I’m on this page because I googled it. Having said that, although I didn’t particularly like GR, especially the characters he used as his teachers which just didn’t gel for me, his focus on the universe being an illusion – something we all know as ACIM students, and have moments of actually experiencing – did actually come at a crucial time in my learning and allowed me to turn a bad experience into a watershed moment. I don’t know if I will finish his book, but given that it actually changed the course of events for me, I think it has its place in the scheme of things.
Thanks, Tracy. I, too, think Gary’s work has – as you put it “a place in the scheme of things.” So long as it is helpful, great. But if a time comes when it is not as helpful, then that’s okay, too.
I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the original article and don’t disagree.
I have had brief forays into the Course in the past without seriously pursuing it’s offering. Frankly, it seemed way too wordy for my tastes. I claim ignorance in having the slightest clue what it was about in the first place. Being generally impatient, this was enough to put me off of any further exploration.
Regarding D.U. and Gary; I found the story he told VERY entertaining and educational. I don’t claim to believe or disbelieve the basis of his story, but I consider myself open-minded enough to, at least, suspend judgement for the time being. – What Gary did provide, in no uncertain terms, is a very effective means of exposure to the Course: so effective, in fact, that I am now willing to sit down with that huge 3 book volume and give it serious attention. I know this mirrors what’s been said about it being a good intro to potentially new students of the Course… I just wanted to confirm that this is absolutely the case.
That said, his claims to receiving messages from visitors sits right in the same neighbourhood as the claims that Helen received her message from Jesus, as far as I’m concerned. Do I believe either claim absolutely? No… but I also don’t disbelieve. I have, as stated before, reserved judgement until such a time where I am convinced one way or the other. Until then, I let the meat of the messages into my heart and will take every morsel that I am able until I run across something that seriously goes against the truest of sensibilities within me.
I won’t be so quick as to label something as right or wrong as others have chosen to do. In my human ignorance, I do not consider myself qualified. If others have been mistaken, that’s ok too.
Frankly, I’m all for the message of unity rather than sitting in an arena of endless nitpicking even if the messengers do end up being characteristically human. (please forgive any spelling or grammar issues… I’m not inclined to care that much about them.)
Thanks for sharing, Robert. No worries about grammar here!
It does seem that part of Gary’s charm is making an otherwise pretty dense and intellectual spiritual text accessible. For some folks – perhaps yourself – that opens doors that otherwise remain closed. We can walk through them or not – or walk through them and then turn around – but still. It’s nice to have the option.
A Course in Miracles is challenging. It was written by – and edited by – three bright and devoted intellectuals. The Academy is their mode and their spiritual project reflects this. So I think even with Gary’s more “lite” approach, eventually one has to face the material on the terms it sets for itself. It’s certainly not for everyone.
Over the years, Gary’s ascended masters – much like the claim that Jesus dictated the work through Helen in her scribal capacity – has begun to feel increasingly like a fatal distraction. The more attention one give the material, the clearer it becomes that the course is about a shift in thinking in favor of love/peace/unity and not about dramatic spiritual or magical events and personas. Not everyone wants to hear that, much less practice that way.
My gratitude for my ACIM experience remains boundless and it continues to inform my thinking on a day-to-day basis but I think there are simpler ways to approach the material. On the other hand, had I not followed that path as intensely as I did, I probably would not have found the simpler way, so . . .
Thank you again for reading and sharing. Enjoy the course!
“Ken was a solid student of the course.”
Haha! You’re a funny guy!
The things children say!
The information Gary Renard brought forward did not come from Ken Wapnick. you have to understand that the masters Appearing to him know the course inside and out they have achieved the finality of its results. I find it amazing that people are even trying to discuss whether he’s a fraud or not it just proves that you still don’t know what the course in miracles is about. I’m a human being who has been taken into the heavens I have spoken face to face with angels and Jesus and God. only when you achieve it will you appreciate what Arten and Pursah contributed, and it’s really pretty silly to try to act like it came from Ken when it didn’t. Jesus began helping me do miracles in 1994 and I have done many to me it’s just ridiculous to even talk About him being a fraud the thing is you don’t understand the power of the mind and you don’t understand the real reality his claim is not amazing it is wonderful I’ve had Jesus appeared to me out of the thin air many times and I’ve had him appear in front of people who tried to say I was crazy for claiming it I have dozens of our witnesses to what I have done including man I worked with in a steel mill in Detroit Michigan maybe one day you guys will really study the course and really apply it and then you’ll get to see you too
Victor, Kindly please ask Jesus (the next time he appears to you) for the winning numbers of the next 99 Powerball and Megamillions lotteries and kindly forward them to this website so we can all join in the miracle of abundance.
Do you like mini trying to limit reality I know it’s not a fatal distraction it’s part of reality I’m just because it hasn’t happened you you don’t want to act like it’s something good how ridiculous your conclusions are it is a wonderful thing to be in the presence of someone who is pure love I can help you to feel it you should be grateful for the things they explain and grateful for the help they gave they gave the simple way there is no simpler way to do the course the course is about forgiveness I had a dime for the millions of people who think they understand the course but do not I would have enough money to pull America out of debt I think you need to read his three books about three times each hopefully that will make it sink in there’s only one way to do the course and there’s no simpler way to do it usually that’s when somebody starts doing things their own way and that’s why they don’t have any of the incredible things happening to them I guess you missed it in the course where Jesus talks about the witnesses to love and the incredible holy instant and how that if the results are not happening then you can’t really be doing it but most people like to ignore the text and most people don’t like to be told that
I am glad I ran across your writing because I have an issue related to this witch I would like to share with you. About the time I started getting very deep into the Course a few years ago, I discovered a text that I had apparently written to my future self (I was the only one who could have written it and it contained some facts unknown to anyone else) regarding certain future events in my life. I have only shared them with two other people and what the message said, for now, is not where I am going with this. At first I wondered if I had written this, perhaps in my sleep, or under the influence of some narcotic even though I neither drink nor use illicit drugs. I’m 80 years old so I didn’t rule out some mental issues either. It didn’t make sense then and now it almost seems like a dream. Next April it will be two years, and the writing seemed to imply that it would happen when I had reached a certain point and other events, outside my own actions had begun to occur. Meanwhile I continue to do my work with the course, live my life and have no concerns if and when the promised events will happen. The Miracles which the course teaches take place in the areas of forgiveness and joining with our brothers fostering inclusion, something I have always struggled with. At one point in my life I was an energy dynamo and drew people to me. I went through a spiritual experience along with another man at the time and we were both expressing LOVE the way I witnessed in Mother Theresa whom I saw in person. She remains the only person I have ever met who I believe was the genuine article. But during this 2 week period, me and the other man had the same ability to see people without the baggage of ordinary life. We had no judgements, no anger–only love and understanding with all those we came into contact. Most of the people I am referring to were people we already knew and interacted with, so previously we had been full of judgement and gossip but during that period of about two weeks, we were both energy magnets of pure, uncomplicated Love. Then one day, we both discovered we were back in the reality we had always known and it felt like a terrible loss. We were both left with questions and few answers. This was prior to my work with ACIM. And while the message I left myself never specified that, I felt strongly that’s what it was telling me I would be returning to. It also specified a certain place. If this comes to pass I will share the entire story. Peace…
Thanks for sharing. If and when it’s appropriate to share the entire story, please do feel free. Thanks for being here and for extending peace.
Well voice recognition messed up a lot of it in short it is a totally ludicrous and totally unfounded effort to try to put down the appearance of two ascended masters as if it’s nothing all this tells me is that the person is making these comments have not accomplished doing with the course in miracles teachers and they do not understand it
Thank you for sharing, Victor. The real concern I have is the underlying notion of right and wrong – i.e., that I can have an understanding of the course which cannot be controverted and which renders all other understandings invalid. That feels unhelpful to me and so I steer clear of it.
I’m glad that you have found Gary’s writing helpful. As I point out, it was helpful to me at a critical juncture, too. And then – for me – it became less so. I don’t experience this as a crisis, or even a problem. I don’t need to reject Gary’s work or persuade others to adopt my new perspective. Doing so feels uncreative and inconsisent with my – obviously ongoing – learning experience.
In terms of where Gary’s teaching “comes from . . . ” It still seems to me that Gary’s ascended masters studied with Ken Wapnick. Their view of the course is largely consistent with his. I agree that different folks can reach different conclusions, or can agree that there is a lot of similarity but understand the origins of that similarity differently.
Anyway, thank you again for reading and for sharing.
Has it ever occurred to any of you fine people that your attacks on Gary Renards legitimacy are mere attempts by the ego to derail your right minded thinking, and to project your inner hate onto one of your brothers. Remember, you see him as you see your self.
The Course mentions quite often that you are afraid of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit means death and illegitimacy to the ego. Therefore beneath the surface, or in your “projections” it does everything it can to make you side against truth and to keep believing in what it has taught you for very long illusory time period.
Btw that article was very insightful. As we get closer to the accepting and listening to the truth, the ego ramps up it defense and aims to make you forgetful of the truth and about who you really are. Any devote and honesty student knows that the ego is relentless and will do all it can to keep you from the light. The argument over Gary Renards legitimacy is an argument of ego, not the spirit. So while you right long lengthy reponses to explain why you’re right and garys wrong, you’re simply falling into the trap of the ego, thus shutting out the voice for god within you.
Stay vigilant my brothers .
Thank you for sharing, Connor. In general, I agree with you here, mostly in the sense that arguing over Gary (or any other teacher) is a distraction from the real work. Find what’s helpful and stay close to it. If what’s helpful changes in time then move on. No worries.
Of course, a corollary of that is that folks arguing *against Gary’s legitimacy *are doing what’s right and helpful and resonant for them. Sometimes it seems we find ourselves taking up arms to protect the course (or some other illusory ideal).
Or even taking them up to protect Gary . . .
As you point out, the real work is the work of bringing projection to an end, and that’s a lot of work! Increasingly, my sense is that anything which distract us from the work of noticing projection and offering it up to the Holy Spirit is not helping.
There is – as Bill Thetford pointed out – another way. It turns out that Gary being “right” or “wrong” has nothing to do with that way . . .
Thanks again for reading and sharing.
Gary is an illusion, was an illusion, and will always be an illusion. Ditto Cindy, Arten and Pursah, Jesus, Buddha, Helen S., Bill T., Ken W., David H., Sean R., Jaqen H’ghar. Ditto ACIM, DU, et al.
On a more practical note, the man wonders why during all these years Gary didn’t ask Arten and Pursah and Jesus or Buddha for the winning numbers of the Megamillions and Powerball lotteries so he and Cindy don’t have to pimp their books, CDs, gatherings.
In truth, forget every-thing/matter, forget Jesus, Gary, ACIM, DU, et al. Simply be (still), and all that is not will cease to matter (become thing).
Thank you for sharing here, for all four of your comments.
Yes. “Forget everything.” This is evocative – without precisely mirroring – the course’s suggestion that we “forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God” (W-I.189.7:5).
Yet this directive confounds itself by failing to ask: who or what should do this forgetting? Or, in your case, to whom or what are you directing your suggestion?
And: who or what are you that such a suggestion unto others appears reasonable or necessary?
In a sense we are lucky Bill and Helen (and later Ken) did not go deeply into these questions. If they had, then ACIM would not have appeared and we would have had to write it ourselves. 🙂
If, as you imply, “all that is not” actually “ceases to matter” then why mock people for believing in Jesus? Or abundance? Or Gary Renard? Who could possibly be threatened by any of that? Who could be hurt by it?
Coherence matters! You are clearly invested in right and wrong readings of the course – why? What is at stake? For whom is it at stake?
Why choose a fictive name from a fictive story? Who or what are you that “Game of Thrones” should appear, resonate, and have meaning? Who told that story that it should appear in your story that you might carry it forward into other stories?
These are non-trivial questions that you have not yet asked and answered (recognizing them is not asking and answering them, and knowing the answers others gave is also not asking and answering them).
You are here reading and sharing because you believe you are separate from others and from the world. That’s okay! But it’s important to be honest about it.
I know that you have done some reading that tells you you are not separate. I know that you desperately want that to be true. And I know that you believe the way to make it true is to force others to believe it as well.
But that is not the way oneness works.
It is not the way love works.
And there is – thank Christ – another way.
When our perception of others includes a responsibility to patronize them in lectures – when it includes a right to mock them – then we are simply doubling down on the illusion of separation. It’s easy to say “All is one” but if it’s not our experience, then it’s just words, right?
Tara Singh called this the lovelessness of believing that we have something others do not.
A Course in Miracles is “a beginning, not an end” (W-ep.1:1). What do we discover after we have made this beginning? Perhaps we discover nonduality or advaita vedanta or neo-advaita. Perhaps we read Sri Ramana and Douglas Harding and Menas Kafatos and others. That can happen. And it can be very exciting when if and when it does.
Yet if our learning allows us to behave unlovingly then we have not learned anything at all. If – however subtly – we mock others, and if – however well-intentioned – we hide our identity, and if – however sincerely – we assume the mantle of teacher (rather than accept it from those reaching out to us in a posture of student), then we must slow down and give attention to the gaps in our own learning.
We must go back to the beginning and – yes – choose again (T-31.VIII.3:2).
I’m glad that you shared here, and I’m glad that you’ve begun to investigate the oneness to which A Course in Miracles points (in its wordy and mythological way). May you quickly discover the humility and discipline that underlies awakening, and may your discovery be sustainable. All our peace and happiness depends on your success!
Thank you Sean for providing the space and time for these exchanges.
Sean –Yet this directive confounds itself by failing to ask: who or what should do this forgetting?
JH — Those that try to forget since there is nothing to forget. That’s why simply be (still).
Sean– Or, in your case, to whom or what are you directing your suggestion?And who or what are you that such a suggestion unto others appears reasonable or necessary?
JH–No one. Since No one exists.
Sean–If, as you imply, “all that” actually “ceases to matter” then why mock people for believing in Jesus? Or abundance? Or Gary Renard? Who could possibly be threatened by any of that? Who could be hurt by it?
JH– All that IS NOT will cease to matter. All matters are defective including Sean’s eyesight. Illusion makes illusion except one.
Sean–Coherence matters! You are clearly invested in right and wrong readings of the course – why? What is at stake? For whom is it at stake?
JH–Sean already knows the answers to his own questions since he’s certain that No one is clearly invested in right and wrong readings of the course.
Sean–Why choose a fictive name from a fictive story? Who or what are you that “Game of Thrones” should appear, resonate, and have meaning? Who told that story that it should appear in your story that you might carry it forward into other stories?
JH–All that IS NOT is fictitious. What else to choose and carry forward ?
Sean-These are non-trivial questions that you have not yet asked and answered (recognizing them is not asking and answering them, and knowing the answers others gave is also not asking and answering them).
JH–Sean knows the trivial and the non-trivial questions. Sean asked them and answered them. Except one. That which cannot be asked and answered.
Sean-You are here reading and sharing because you believe you are separate from others and from the world. That’s okay! But it’s important to be honest about it.
JH–The man is here reading and sharing because the man CAN read and share. Honestly.
Sean–I know that you have done some reading that tells you you are not separate. I know that you desperately want that to be true. And I know that you believe the way to make it true is to force others to believe it as well.
JH–Wow. Sean knows a lot. What else does Sean know? The man is all ears.
Sean-But that is not the way oneness works.
It is not the way love works.
And there is – thank Christ – another way.
When our perception of others includes a responsibility to patronize them in lectures – when it includes a right to mock them – then we are simply doubling down on the illusion of separation. It’s easy to say “All is one” but if it’s not our experience, then it’s just words, right?
JH- You’re right. All IS NOT one.
Sean-Tara Singh called this the lovelessness of believing that we have something others do not.
JH–Tara Singh is an illusion, was an illusion, and always will be an illusion. And all that is Tara Singh’s.
Sean–A Course in Miracles is “a beginning, not an end” (W-ep.1:1). What do we discover after we have made this beginning? Perhaps we discover nonduality or advaita vedanta or neo-advaita. Perhaps we read Sri Ramana and Douglas Harding and Menas Kafatos and others. That can happen. And it can be very exciting when if and when it does.
JH–ACIM is an illusion, was an illusion, and always will be an illusion. And all that is ACIM’s.
Sean–Yet if our learning allows us to behave unlovingly then we have not learned anything at all. If – however subtly – we mock others, and if – however well-intentioned – we hide our identity, and if – however sincerely – we assume the mantle of teacher (rather than accept it from those reaching out to us in a posture of student), then we must slow down and give attention to the gaps in our own learning.
JH–Learning is an illusion, was an illusion, and always will be an illusion. And all that is learning’s.
Sean–We must go back to the beginning and – yes – choose again (T-31.VIII.3:2).
JH–Choosing is an illusion, was an illusion, and always will be an illusion. And all that is choosing’s.
Sean–I’m glad that you shared here, and I’m glad that you’ve begun to investigate the oneness to which A Course in Miracles points (in its wordy and mythological way). May you quickly discover the humility and discipline that underlies awakening, and may your discovery be sustainable. All our peace and happiness depends on your success!
JH–Gladness, Investigation, Discovering, Humility, Discipline, Awakening are illusions, were illusions, and will always be illusions. Ditto “All our peace and happiness depends on your success!”
Thanks again for providing the space and time for this illusory exchange.
The man noticed Sean corrected the paragraph –If, as you imply, “all that is not” actually “ceases to matter” then why mock people for believing in Jesus? Or abundance? Or Gary Renard? Who could possibly be threatened by any of that? Who could be hurt by it?
Please allow the man to also correct his reply– All that IS NOT cannot be mocked, threatened, hurt.
I’m pretty curious about the core concepts of The Disappearance of the Universe. I’ve only read the Course, but I’ve read it many times. People usually refer me to The Disappearance of the Universe as a correction for me. I was also a student of Ken Wapnick but only online and through books. Your post got me wondering because I’m always in the student position, and frankly it’s sort of frustrating because I feel like I’m being condescended to. I know that’s the ego, but it’s also the ego that read the manual for teachers and guided me to feel superior to people who feel they’re superior to me. Very twisted. I often think of the Course like the spiral symbol from the twilight zone. In order to get into this space we had to go down this spiral and that’s the way we also have to get out of it, but it feels like you’re losing your mind.
In my experience if you’ve read Ken’s work closely, then Gary’s will not be surprising or profoundly different. The tone is a lot edgier, but the content is largely the same. Gary spent considerable time with Ken before writing Disappearance.
But who knows? Sometimes a change in tone is just what we need. Give Gary’s book a try – there’s probably used copies floating around – and see what happens. If it’s helpful, then great, and if it’s not helpful, then that’s okay, too.
Set aside the debate about whether the historical Jesus wrote ACIM (if it’s helpful, I touched on that issue here and here). Helen, Bill and Ken – the writers, editors and general architects of the material – were all academics. They were all used to being the smartest person in the room.
Unfortunately, a lot of that energy remains active in the course community. I’m sure I contribute to it myself. So yes. It’s off-putting at times. But I like very much your sense of the spiral; and your intuition about what you need to find your way to a clearer and more functional sense of the course seems pretty solid.
So who knows? Maybe Gary’s book (which is not overly intellectual by any means) will nudge you back up the spiral into the light (or whatever metaphor for God and Love you find most helpful). And if not, trust yourself. 🙂
Thanks for reading & sharing.
I read ACIM for a while found that it had a brainwashing effect on me.
I am able to communicate with spirits. So several times I prayed to God and Christ and asked them if ACIM comes from Christ. On each occasion I was provided with a symbolic visual answer that basically said “no.”
I had a couple of dreams that made the point that ACIM is misleading. I know of other people that had dreams that made the same point.
After gaining some freedom from the course’s hold on me, I questioned it more thoroughly (hard to do with a book that has sooooo many pages), and found that it doesn’t represent truth.
God was involved with the creation of this world, and he is aware of it. When people suffer in this world they do in fact do so, despite what the 365 day course tries to do.
Ego doesn’t exist in the way ACIM speaks of it. We do exist as individual souls. It wouldn’t be possible for us to substantially share love and oneness with each other, if we didn’t exist in a substantial way. We are one and many at the same time.
In the 1980s I was involved with nondual teachings. I found out that many of the gurus I knew about weren’t what they claimed. When I no longer allowed them to determine what I would believe, I was able to question nondual teachings more thoroughly, and found that not everything they say is correct. When I read Renard’s Disappearance of the Universe, I saw nondual thought throughout much of the book.
One day I found Bruce Fraser Macdonald’s site. I can’t say for certain whether or not he actually channeled God and Jesus, but what his God and Jesus say is so in line with what I found out for myself. Below is a link to his site.
I believe the below words from (Jesus?) are key.
“All of this immediately creates a conflict, as you can see. You are left with the choice whether to believe what is written through Bruce MacDonald or what is written through Helen Schucman.
That is a critical choice. Again I assert that ACIM did not come from me, from Yeshua, Jesus, the one you know as the Christ. We have already seen that the narrator, the person actually doing the teaching in ACIM is not reliable. And in claiming that it came from me, it also lies. ACIM thus has a primary level of its meaning which came from a major deception when it claimed to come from me. It is built on a lie, and your confidence in it is based on a lie.
The choice is yours, of course, whether to believe the lie or to examine the matter more closely. The consequences are very real, since neither your life nor the world are illusions and decisions you make have real effects which stretch through centuries.”
Thank you for sharing, Albert. I’m glad that you found a spiritual path that is resonant for you, and that aligns with your understanding in helpful and practical ways. It is practical comfort.
I think a lot of the confusion around ACIM – and Bruce’s work, too – arises from conflating symbols with that to which they point. We take “Jesus” literally, rather than seriously, and end up chasing ghosts (through our minds, through books, through churches, through psychotherapist’s offices . . .). We do something similar with “truth” and “reality” and “soul” and so forth.
That is okay! Humans gotta be human. Wanting to be right is natural, wanting to belong to the tribe that truly “gets it” is natural, wanting others to come along is natural, being wary of those who don’t get it or won’t be persuaded to come along is also natural.
The suggestion I make is simply to give attention to what appears and arises – to the natural appearing and arising – which of course includes our sense of being personally involved with and at stake in what appears and arises, and then see what happens. And something always does happen. Or, better, something always is happening. It’s beautiful and mysterious and confusing and sexy and nurturing – and a whole bunch of other qualities – all at once.
In that melange (which we sometimes call experience), if ACIM is helpful, great. If Bruce’s work is more helpful, great. Want to read Maturana or Varela instead? That’s great, too. Wittgenstein? Have at it! And why not? Investigating the epistemological roots of our living (and the ontology they indicate and bring forth) is a deep & sustainable & life-giving process. Oddly, it is the investigation that is fructive and vital – not the specific conclusion we reach, or seem to reach, or assert that we have reached (though these, too, are nontrivial).
In other words, it is the gift of attention that seems to matter: not the object to which the attention is given (nor the object giving attention). Yet we seem perennially in the dark about this! And yet seeing it clearly yields so much peace and happiness. And yet we seem to really really like complicating it and then undoing the complication . . . And yet and yet, as the poet says.
On the other hand, what do I know? And – to my mind, most deliciously and wonderfully, most lovingly – how do you know if I know or don’t know it?
Thank you again for sharing.
You are welcome, and I do mean “you,” not some nonexistent illusion.
My problems with Renard’s work Disappearance of the Universe are convenient “facts” revealed by Pursah and Arten that were easily found in other new age books available at the time.
Also, when Renard said he searched the internet about A course in Miracles in 1992 that was almost impossible because the internet was not in the public domain until 1991 and barely anyone had access other than scholars and programmers until user friendly browsers and search engines came into play some time later.
How do I know this?
I was there.
Thanks for sharing, Bill. I don’t find Gary’s books helpful, myself. I think it’s healthy for folks to reflect on the message of those texts and make a decision about where the work fits in their practice of ACIM. I appreciate your feedback here. I’m sure it will help those who read to deepen their own understanding of what is helpful and what is not and why.