A Course in Miracles is best understood as a course – a text with accompanying lessons and a manual for teachers. It is true that we can use these resources as we see fit – and that what works for one student is not necessarily going to work for another – but I also think that we are giving short thrift to ACIM if we get too casual about how we study and practice the course. In that light, people sometimes ask: what should you do when you skip your daily ACIM lesson?
I think there are two levels to answering that question: a practical sort of day-to-day level, kind of like telling somebody what to do when they forget their homework. And there is another level where we can actually learn something valuable and transformational because we skipped the lesson. If we choose to see it rightly, we are never not learning.
On the practical level, if you forget to do a lesson, just take a deep breath and resolve to remember tomorrow. If you forget tomorrow, then take a deep breath and resolve to get to it the next day. Very few students actually go through the full gamut of three hundred sixty-five lessons without missing one or two. And given that we are not supposed to become ascetics or monks, the ordinary events of our daily life are sometimes going to crowd in and overwhelm or obscure our practice it happens.
If you are serious about your study – if you are intent on making this your spiritual practice – then it simply does not matter that you are sometimes forgetful or casual. It is your willingness to continue – to return to the practice itself – that will save you.
Lesson 27 is very much to the point on what happens when we miss the application of a lesson – or some aspect of it.
You will probably miss several applications, and perhaps quite a number. Do not be disturbed by this, but do try to keep on your schedule from then on (W-pI.27.4:4-5).
That gentle admonition – and it is gentle indeed – leads me to the second level learning raised by the question of skipping or missing ACIM lessons: there are no consequences. It is worth repeating: there are no consequences.
If you look closely at lesson 27 – and it is hardly the only lesson that states this or its equivalent – you will see that Jesus is very clear. You cannot make a mistake. There is no examination. There are no conditions. And because of that, there are no consequences. You don’t have to be worried, you don’t have to compare yourself to other students, you don’t have to build yourself up or tear yourself down.
You simply have to practice the course to the best of your ability, without stress or anxiety. It is outside every aspect of our lives in the world.
That is a revolutionary idea! We are so invested in being right and reaping the benefits and, conversely, of being wrong and suffering the consequences. It is so ingrained in us and it is such a source of worry and fear and guilt. And the course is teaching us that this kind of thinking – right and wrong, good and bad – simply doesn’t exist. It’s not real. There is tremendous liberation in that.
So don’t worry if you miss a lesson. Remember that you have already passed this course. You are already a teacher of God ready to save the world. Your remembrance of this simply beautiful fact is only a matter of time. Come back to the course. Come back to the lessons. Choose again, in confidence and love.