From time to time I remind myself that the primary (we could even say “sole” but I think that’s probably inaccurate) goal of A Course in Miracles is to introduce us to the Holy Spirit, who is our Teacher. From the course preface:
The Course makes no claim to finality, nor are the Workbook lessons intended to bring the student’s learning to completion. At the end, the reader is left in the hands of his or her own Internal Teacher, Who will direct all subsequent learning as He sees fit.
That is the premise from which I often suggest that it’s okay to put aside course metaphysics (e.g., is consciousness the first step in separation), spiritual drama (ascended masters! light shows!), and self-help/improvement (e.g., manifest your best life now).
All of those are effectively distractions. They aren’t wrong in any effective sense; they just postpone the actual work ACIM proposes we do and thus also postpone the logical and practical outcome of that work: relationship with an internal Teacher who knows we are not separate from God and knows how to help us know it, too.
Here’s an experiment. Can you hear the Holy Spirit? If yes, then it’s ACIM game-over, unless you’re called to be a formal teacher/Boddhisattva (like, say, Ken Wapnick).
But if you can’t hear the Holy Spirit (which is to say, you find my asking annoying or confusing or discouraging), then it’s worth asking a) if A Course in Miracles is the right spiritual path for you and/or b) whether your practical application of it might need to be tweaked.
[please note that an interim phase exists in which “hearing the Holy Spirit” is neither perfect nor consistent. Generally, though, when we’re in that phase, we know we’re in it]
The Holy Spirit is not a separate entity from you. It is not a supernatural being to which only devout or new age Christians have access. Rather, the Holy Spirit is your sane mind and its voice is quiet, calm and confident. Its direction is always helpful. It knows that separation is an appearance, not a law.
[The Holy Spirit] represents your Self and your Creator, Who are One. He speaks for God and also for you, being joined with Both. And therefore it is He Who proves Them One (C-6.4:2-4).
Essentially, the course suggests that there are two voices in our mind. The voice of the ego is loud and insistent, demanding and grandiose. It plans and plots. It’s shifty and contradictory. It answers questions with more questions. It thrives on complexity.
You can observe these egoic patterns of thinking in your mind. You can observe their effects in your mind and in your living.
And, you can also observe the alternative: a voice that is mature, calm, patient and responsive. Given a question, it offers an answer. It simplifies and clarifies. Merely to be in its presence is to be at peace.
That, too, is a pattern of thinking in our mind, albeit one from which we are estranged. Thus, a nontrivial aspect of the ACIM curriculum – really, its whole shebang – is learning how to discern between those two voices. One of them knows God and wants you to know God and one of them does not know God and doesn’t want you to figure out that it doesn’t.
In course terms, God is neither a big idea that we mentally “get” nor a big show of joy and peace that our physical bodies experience in physical terms. Brain and its casing are neutral, not fundamental and not causal.
Rather, God is an experience of coherence that generates peace and joy in communion with others in ways that transcend body/mind duality. On this view, God is normal and natural; it doesn’t even need to go by the name “God.” Names don’t even exist to it.
[note too that letting go of one’s attachment to this or that name of God – which is to let go of ontological preference altogether – is also a phase, one that can be especially acute in terms of confusion, grief and anxiety]
Importantly, we don’t have to force any insight, experience or communion; it’s all already in place. We simply have to listen to the Teacher who already knows it’s in place, and let her/him/it (you choose!) restore it to our thinking in our mind. You wouldn’t go into a math class and assume that you have to teach the teacher algebra! You’d just give attention to the teacher teaching you.
Just so with A Course in Miracles . . .
[and note that upon restoration, distinctions like “our thinking” and “our mind” will no longer be necessary, save as teaching devices. But in strict terms of A Course in Miracles, that’s cart-before-horse]
Thus, find the teacher and heed their instruction. What else can a sincere student do whose goal is to not to linger in the classroom forever?