We are not really capable of full alignment with the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles. To even recognize ACIM – as a book, a method, a community – is to be separated. So I think that while being clear about the underlying metaphysics is helpful to our practice, it’s not – in and of itself – enough.
Helen Schucman understood this very well, writing (in a non-scribed section of the preface):
The text is largely theoretical, and sets forth the concepts on which the Course’s thought system is based. Its ideas contain the foundation of the Workbook’s lessons. Without the practical application the Workbook provides, the Text would remain largely a series of abstractions which would hardly suffice to bring about the thought reversal at which the Course aims.
In other words, the world is not real and we are not bodies and we learn this in our bodies in the world.
Which is reasonable, right? I mean, where else would those lessons even make sense?
So there’s a kind of two-step dance here. There’s the underlying metaphysics of ACIM (which are complex and theoretical, relatively speaking) and there’s a principled application of those metaphysics (which is embodied and psychological, and simple but not easy).
If you do one without the other, then you have a move, not a dance. And we want to dance.
The pragmatic living the course encourages centers in significant part around carefully watching the function of our mind and patiently correcting its habit of projection and denial (which, together, obscure peace and happiness).
. . . we watch our thoughts, appealing silently to Him Who sees the elements of truth in them. Let Him evaluate each thought that comes to mind, remove the elements of dreams, and give them back again as clean ideas that do not contradict the Will of God.W-pI.151.13:3-4
This is not a thing we do alone! It’s a thing that we consent to having done for us. It’s like going to the doctor for a broken arm. You don’t set the bone yourself; you consent to let the doctor set it for you. But you do have to get there.
In A Course in Miracles, our job is to show up and give consent to healing which is the function of the Holy Spirit. We don’t have any other job, any more than the doctor setting our bone needs our advice about osteology.
The course lessons are essentially baby steps in showing up and giving consent to be healed. Any one lesson can wake us from the dream, but it’s their cumulative effect that is actually transformative.
If we make a good-faith effort to hold the metaphysics in mind, and then do the lessons with sincerity and integrity, our living will gently shift in the direction of peace and happiness
This works because ACIM is basically about shifting our minds away from what hurts towards what helps, and even tiny shifts are healing. And because it works, we naturally lean into it, which begets even more healing.
The bible says that as we “thinketh in our hearts,” so we are (Proverbs 23:7). A Course in Miracles reframes this to “as a man thinketh, so does he perceive” (T-21.in.1:6).
But both frames make the same underlying point: don’t try to change the world. Rather, change the way you think about the world, and the world will follow.
There is only one thing that you need do for vision, happiness, release from pain, and the complete escape from sin, all to be given to you. Say only this, but mean it with no reservations, for there the power of salvation lies:
I am responsible for what I see.
I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide
upon the goal I would achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me
I ask for, and receive as I have asked.
Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you.T-21.II.2:1-6
In many ways, that’s a big pill to swallow, but our attending physician – God, Jesus, Buddha, Holy Spirit or your guardian angel – is happy to cut the pill into manageable chunks. Ask and it shall be done.
The Healer watching over us wants only to heal us; it has no other function. Our job is notice our need for healing and then relinquish the mad idea that we are (or even could be) in charge of our own healing.
I have always liked the phrase “let go and let God.” It neatly captures the two steps of the ACIM dance I’m talking about here.
“Let go” is the active thing we do – releasing our stranglehold on methods and outcomes. “Let God” is the metaphysics that we can’t really understand in worldly terms. God acts when we do not. Together, these two steps are a cornerstone of joy and peace. They go together in us, as we go together in them.