“Any scripture that talks about the Truth is a veda [wisdom-knowledge].”
-Sri Swami Satchidananda
Truth is One, Books are Many
I would like to share with you an excerpt of a book, An Ancient New Idea, that I have been working on for about 25 years. I began writing it when I was producing and hosting a nationally distributed cable-TV program on A COURSE IN MIRACLES.
In 1965 Columbia University Professor of Medical Psychology, Helen Schucman, heard an “inner voice” saying, “This is a course in miracles. Please take notes.” Schucman’s initial resistance was overcome when the “inner voice,” identifying itself as “Jesus,” told her the purpose of the Course: “The world situation is worsening to an alarming degree. People all over the world are being called on to help, and are making their individual contributions as part of an overall prearranged plan. Part of the plan is taking down A Course in Miracles, and I am fulfilling my part in the agreement, as you will fulfill yours. You will be using abilities you developed long ago, and which you are not really ready to use again. Because of the acute emergency, however, the usual slow, evolutionary process is being by-passed in what might best be described as a ‘celestial speed-up.’”
The expressed purpose of the Course is to connect us back to the guidance of the “voice of Holy Spirit,” residing within each of us, which our ego seeks to obscure. I will also discuss the connection between the Course’s teachings and the path of Yoga. How they can be integrated and harmonized together.
There are several key spiritual principles I am going to discuss in this book. They are principles of living our lives in spiritual grace, and laws pertaining to healing our sense of separation. This “sense” of separation, according to the spiritual teachings found in A Course in Miracles, is the only lack we need ever correct. Once this has been corrected we discover the truth about the “lack” we had perceived. The information in this book comes from my study, practice and application of the material taught in the Course. My intention is to help the reader become aware of his true identity and gain an understanding of how to apply these teachings in his own life. My desire is to help liberate the reader in order to lead a happier, more loving and productive life.
It occurred to me some time ago, to begin writing letters to the people studying the Course with me, on specific topics discussed in ACIM. I would like to report that there was always a positive response to those letters, but in fact, sometimes the letter upset someone or other. I never took that as an invalidation, but rather as a sign that I was pricking a sensitive area in their mind, or heaven forbid, I hadn’t written clearly enough. I have felt for a long time that spiritual healing is much like acupuncture of the mind in that it pricks those sore spots in our minds and by gentle stimulation the affected area begins to heal and become connected to the whole again.
This is also related to the idea of holistic healing which posits that when an area in mind or body breaks away from the whole, and becomes identified with this fragmentation, developing a “separate” identity, it is dis-eased. The part becomes cut off from the whole and its boundaries and divisions are too rigid and solid. The illusion of a separate entity then must be defended, and enormous amounts of energy are used in protecting itself from threats and invasions from the “outside.”
By opening up its natural borders it begins to encompass the whole again, and from this idea of course we derive the word, heal. It was in this sense that Christ said in John 15:6, “If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered…”
“There is no death.” This is the secret and core of spiritual healing.
The Course was first introduced to me by a beautiful and loving being, Elaine Christine in March 1980. In the years following I had great resistance to the material, although I would occasionally read and “try” to do the lessons. Once I began in earnest to do the lessons and study, though my impatience prompted me to attempt to do 3-4 lessons per day! This was very short-lived however, when I realized the futility of what I was attempting. A few years later I read a book called, Forgiveness and Jesus by Ken Wapnick. It was this book that was to catalyze my experience of the Course at a deep level and lead me to an intense study and application of the course that I am still pursuing today. I am grateful for the opportunity to put into words my experience and application of its teachings.
I trust you will be able to use this book and the Course to increase your experience of love and joy while lessening the grip of fear in your life. This material can enable you to open up to receiving the light of Christ more fully in each holy instant of time that is presented to you. It will help you to choose a more loving response, instead of a fearful reaction, to life.
The Course is written as an individual study that can be profitably used in a group setting as well. The Course’s message is that we can experience peace in our lives. We can have happy relationships and we can experience the love of God in our hearts. I must warn you that the teachings are an experience of death to the ego, your ego, and any ego’s around us, who choose to work with the Course. This is sometimes very, very painful. In life we suffer. Buddha said, “Life is suffering.” Pain is a fact of life. That is true. And yet, the suffering comes from the way we see the events, people and circumstances in our experience–not from the events themselves.
“Perhaps it will be helpful to remember that no one can be angry at a fact.
It is always an interpretation that gives rise to negative emotions,
regardless of their seeming justification by what appears as facts.” ACIM, Teachers Manual Section-17
“What could you not accept, if you but knew that everything that happens, all events, past, present and to come, are gently planned by One Whose only purpose is your good?” ACIM W-pI.135.18:1
And elsewhere it counsels, “I need do nothing.” ACIM T-18.VII
“A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to wisdom that is not its own. It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it. It does not depend upon itself for anything except its adequacy to fulfill the plans assigned to it. It is secure in certainty that obstacles can not impede its progress to accomplishment of any goal that serves the greater plan established for the good of everyone.” ACIM T-18..VIIh; W-pI..135.11:1-5
A COURSE IN MIRACLES is a complete philosophy in that it answers all the important questions that philosophy raises, such as, “WHO ARE WE?” and “WHY DO WE EXIST?” We exist, according to the Course, to awaken from the dream-state we have fallen into. It teaches that, we were created by God, as His Son and we fell asleep and haven’t awakened yet. “… the Bible says a deep sleep fell upon Adam, and nowhere is there a reference to his waking up. The world has not as yet experienced any comprehensive reawakening or rebirth” (ACIM T-2…I.3:6). We exist in this state of sleep or dreaming and are capable of waking or “rebirth” whenever we decide. We are here in this world to assist each other in the reawakening process and to wake up to our being Sons of God.
“WHAT IS OUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE?”
We are all a part of the “Sonship” and as we reawaken we discover that that is who we have been all the time, except we were not aware of it. In the metaphysics of the Course we are heir to all the gifts of being Sons of God, such as truth, love, abundance, knowledge, and spiritual identity. Our place in the universe is as co-creators with God endowed with like powers of creation.
It states that in the dream we believe that we have usurped the power of God. What we “believe,” in this world (the dream state), is what we think is real. Our minds’ creativity is based on what we believe is true, our beliefs determine our reality. “All beliefs are real to the believer” (ACIM T-3…VII.3:3).We believe we are separate from God, or that we are “egos.” “Correct perception of your brother is necessary, because minds have chosen to see themselves as separate”(ACIM T-3…V.9:2).
We are continually collecting evidence in our lives to support this belief until we begin to realize, however slowly, that we were never actually separate from God or each other. As we accept this more and more our minds begin to seek out verification of this truth of our real identity or reality. We begin to sense that where we have drawn the line between ourselves and others, between our body and environment, and our thoughts and others thoughts was, and is, a mental construction, a “making” or “invention” of our minds.
WHAT IS REAL?
“Nothing Real can be threatened.
Nothing Unreal Exists.
Herein lies the Peace of God.”
The Course divides understanding into two parts. These are referred to as LEVEL I AND LEVEL II. Level I is Heaven; a state of pure abstraction, where there is no change, or time and space as we think about or perceive it. Level II is the ever-changing, dynamic phenomenal universe, where space and time are “real.” At this level we have a mind that is split, a sense of duality, hence, separation.
Time and space is a product of the dream-world that was brought into existence when we began the sleep of separation, and exists only in the dream, not in Reality or Eternity. “The separation is a system of thought real enough in time, though not in eternity” (ACIM T-3…VII.3:2). “You have elected to be in time rather than in eternity, and therefore believe you are in time” (ACIM T-5..VI.1:4). According to the Course, belief itself is an ego function, “Belief is an ego function, and as long as your origin is open to belief you are regarding it from an ego viewpoint” (ACIM T-4…II.2.4:8).
Time also is a function of our interpretation and belief. It is a rare individual who delves into the meaning and purpose of time. We are invited by the Course to interpret time as a means to return to our original and “always-already” NOW, state as the Son of God or Christ, our ultimate spiritual identity. “Time is as neutral as the body is, except in terms of what you see it for” (ACIM T-26…VII.3:7).
Using the time we have been given to heal all parts of our separated self (both within and without) we, “Accept only the function of healing [your sense of separation] in time, because that is what time is for” (ACIM T-9.III.8:3). “So do the parts of God’s Son gradually join in time, and with each joining is the end of time [full awakening of the Sonship] brought nearer” (ACIM T-20..V.1:5). It is important to note that even the science and technology of “this world,” the dream state, is discovering that in our world there is nothing substantial, there is really no-thing at all in the universe! This is not hard to accept if you realize that all this life is but an illusion and dream. This is something we are all conscious of at various times, “Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream.”
Imagine being a scientist trying to discover matter while sleeping in a dream. Everything in a sleeping dream would be and is non-substantial, that is, there would not really be such a thing as “matter” would there? The course states that the difference between our sleeping dream and our waking dream is only one of form not content. “And what you seem to waken to is but another form of this same world you see in dreams. All your time is spent dreaming. Your seeing and your waking dreams have different forms, and that is all. Their content is the same.” (ACIM T-18..II.5:11-14).
WHAT IS THE BASIC PURPOSE OF LIFE
The Course tells us that our basic aim in life is to return to the state of consciousness called Christ-mind and return to “Heaven.” In that state of consciousness we have awakened from the dream-nightmare. The Course gives us the guidelines and principles to facilitate the awakening. It asks us only to try the steps out. We are not asked to believe anything, just to test the ideas and form our own conclusions as to the effectiveness of its teachings. The Course’s means of returning is through learning and practicing the process of forgiveness, healing, service, meditation and contemplation. These means help us accomplish its purpose of “undoing” the perception of separation and preparing us for the experience of our oneness with God and all life. Following the Course’s teachings shows us the way to return to our original state, which we have never really left; to take a “journey without distance.” In order to accomplish this we must, “Accept only the function of healing in time, because that is what time is for” (ACIM T-9..III.8:3).
Healing as described in the Course, is a natural outcome of following its path. Healing is wholeness and the state of being one with that which appears to be separate. Sickness requires that there is something we feel separate from. It is a state of feeling cut off from our health or wholeness. “All sickness comes from separation” (ACIM T-26.VII.2:1). “All forms of sickness are signs that the mind is split, and does not accept a unified purpose” (ACIM T-8..IX.8:7).
Joining is the unified purpose all minds must accept in order to be healed. This joining is also known as “yoga” in Eastern religious and spiritual traditions. This Joining is where A Course in Miracles and Yoga meet.
“Your Light May Go Out” a story from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones by Paul Reps
“A student of Tendali, a philosophical school of Buddhism, came to the Zen abode of Gasan as a pupil. When he was departing a few years later, Gasan warned him: “Studying the truth speculatively is useful as a way of collecting preaching material. But remember that unless you meditate constantly your light of truth may go out.” This story may help us to remember that each of us is the Light of Truth Universal Shrine.
Let’s define and limit Yoga, and the goal of Yoga, to some familiar definitions.
Yoga as defined in Sri Swami Sivananda’s, Yoga Vedanta Dictionary: The process of union of the individual with the universal soul; union with God; any course that makes for such union.
Yoga is: “the restraint of the modifications of the mind stuff” according to Patanjali, and the Yoga Sutras.
Yoga is: “the dissociation of oneself from union with pain. [This is to be achieved by firm conviction in the spiritual ideal, without yielding oneself to despondency on the path”] and “a resting of the senses in the mind, the mind in the intellect, the intellect in the Cosmic Intelligence, and the Cosmic Intelligence in the Supreme Purusha (the Supreme Self which abides in all beings),”according to the Panchadsi.
Yoga is: Communion with the Infinite, union with Absolute; any Course that makes for such union; unruffled state of mind under all conditions.
Shrutis: that which is heard, not read somewhere or heard from some other human being. You might say ACIM was a shruti to Helen Schumann and a smriti to we who read it.
In the Bhagavad Gita there was a war in which the two sides were fighting with each other over the kingdom, the Pandavas and Kauravas. Arjuna, a great warrior, and Duryodhana who both wanted Lord Krishna, the inner Spirit, the God within the supreme Lord, incarnated as Sri Krishna on their side.
Both seeking out his aid arrived at his bedside one evening while Krishna slept. They both arrived and Arjuna went to his feet (devotion heart), and Duryodhana sat in the chair behind his head (ego-mind). When Krishna awoke he first say Arjuna and asked him what he wanted…..army or Krishna? Arjuna chose Krishna, Duryodhana chose Krishna’s army.
A Course in Miracles describes our only choice in life as between Content (Krishna) and Form (Krishna’s army). When we choose form we choose limitation and fear of loss. When we choose content we choose love and forgiveness.
The spiritual path has been likened to a ferry across the ocean of Samsara. But, most of us, myself included, would seem to prefer a modern ocean liner. Maybe one like the Titanic. One that promises luxury, comfort and polite society, while we race at record speed across Samsara, cruising along in the fast-lane. Well, I guess you can get the drift here.
Anyway, I am realizing that my own personal journey isn’t quite at the break-neck speed that I (i.e., my ego) would prefer. “My ego,” that says it all! I would love to be lollygagging around on the beaches of Satchidananda with occasional plunges into the Absolute Bliss, and basking in the sunlight of Sat, while happy dreaming away in Absolute Knowledge. Ah, what a vision, eh? But, alas, it doesn’t seem to be always that easy.
It seems like just a few years ago, I was doing Hatha regularly, meditating 2 or 3 times a day. I was in the Living Yoga Training Program. Doing my best to follow the teachings of Sri Gurudev.
Today, I’m a single-parent, lucky to get in an half hour meditation a day, and 20-minute hatha sessions between things like cooking, cleaning and running errands. I have to rely now on A Course in Miracles practices of the Holy Instant. The idea here is that a miracle transcends time, but is expressed and experienced in time. The miracle is there already in eternity, just waiting for us to have the willingness to receive it in time, and accept its blessing. “Love waits on welcome, not on time,..”
So life has a course of its own, not always in keeping with my direction. In order for me to stay connected with God, I need a practice that is shorter, more convenient to my schedule at this time in my life.
Here are a few lessons from the Course to keep in mind:
“I am never upset for the reason I think.” ACIM Workbook Lesson 5
“All things are lessons God would have me learn.” ACIM Workbook Lesson 193
“I will forgive and this will disappear.” ACIM Workbook Lesson 193
I want the peace of God. ACIM Workbook Lesson 185
“The Peace of God is my One Goal.” ACIM Workbook Lesson 205
“Forgiveness is the key to happiness.” ACIM Workbook Lesson 193