The Paradox of A Course in Miracles

Recently a friend emailed me with a question about what he perceived to be a cadre of well-known spiritual teachers who merely proclaim “the fact that this whole universe is a illusion. In most cases they dismisses religion completely and say there is no meaning here and it is a waste of time seeking anything here. There is no self and no duality. Everything here is meaningless.” He goes on to observe, “No mention is made of God, Jesus or Holy Spirit. Even forgiveness isn’t given much credence.” He then asks, “how they could arrive at the same conclusions (about the world being illusion) as in A Course in Miracles or other ancient (mainly Eastern) teachings and wondered how they sustain these conclusions without the backing of some spiritual teaching.”
Well, let us look at it this way: The Course asks us to use reason. So, IF the Course is true, then the bottom line IS no self, no world, no duality and no perception. Correct? Even A Course in Miracles is unreal and illusory. Right? And forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Jesus are meaningless and never really existed. Can you see that?
However, we find ourselves firmly enmeshed in the dream of separation to the point that we believe it to be reality. True? So, A Course in Miracles comes to awaken the sleeping one (who now thinks he is a bunch of different oneS). To do so requires a very paradoxical approach. The Course must address you BOTH as you are AND as you think yourself to be. It must try every trick in the book to get you to perceive and experience a difference between you and Bill; that you are not completely, totally and exclusively Bill; that there is something else within you. To do this requires the introduction of language and concepts, none of which is true, but which point in the direction of Truth. A Course in Miracles is written in such a way that you might finally have a serious doubt about the nature of your reality as you perceive it now. Its main aim is to raise doubts and questions.
In addition, the Course suggests that the leap from the perception of duality to the absoluteness of no world, no self, no duality is too great and fearful to be made in most cases; that there exists a perception of unity, of relatedness, of non-separation: also unreal, but having no quarrel with the Truth. This perception it calls by many various names – the Happy Dream, forgiveness, salvation, spiritual vision, the eyes of Christ, Atonement, true perception, etc. It says this should be our goal and no more. The Course as you know, does not claim to be the only way, just a faster and more efficient way.
Now come the so-called teachers and baby gurus…proclaiming what they think they know. One of two things is true of these proclaiming no world, no self, no duality:
1) They have had and ARE HAVING AT THIS MOMENT the experience of no self, no world and no duality.
2) They are merely parroting concepts that they have read or been told.
Now if 1) is true, to whom would one be speaking in a state of no self, no world, no duality? Who would hear?
The guru trip can be very lucrative and give one a great feeling of power and experience of adoration. Therefore,
If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!
Seek not outside yourself!

One Response to “The Paradox of A Course in Miracles”

  1. Dan Pallay says:

    Your comment is a clear summation of the Course, if I may say so without sounding arrogant or partisan. And your reply indicates why the Course is incompatible with any other thought system or religion, and why it is a self-study course. Regarding the so-called teachers and baby gurus… There are so many! I met one a few years ago in Tucson, AZ, the Venerable Sumati Marut (AKA Brian K. Smith), ordained in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. I went to his lecture with my ex-wife, June, who is a disciple. This man, dressed in traditional Buddhist robes, gave a talk at a local church attended by his students who regard him as their Guru. Afterwards, June and I met privately with Venerable Sumati Marut. At the time I was an indefatigable Course student, as I am now. I recall being quite polite to him during our meeting, mostly a small-talk type exchange. He was intelligent (has a Ph.D. in Comparative Religions and taught at Columbia University) and showed a sense of humor. His robes and status established a kind of aura, which I simply yielded to – June was deferential to him as her Teacher; I was respectful, not because he was “above” or “beneath” me but because I am a respectful person, and also deferring to a kind of protocol in the moment. Venerable Sumati Marut, or Brian K. Smith, seemed sincere to me. Whether he was a true Holy Man, or Enlightened, I cannot say. He did not appear to be parroting concepts he had read or heard, nor did he claim, in the moment, to be experiencing no self, no world and no duality. He was a nice guy, respectful to June, and to everyone during his talk, and (I thought) fulfilling his Karma in a heartfelt way by providing a Western interpretation of Tibetan Buddhism to Americans.

    Regarding your question (if #1 is the case): To whom would one be speaking in a state of no self, no world, no duality? Who would hear? Good questions! I prefer the dream analogy. In my nighttime dream, last night, What if I met a Guru who said he was AT THIS MOMENT experiencing no self, no world and no duality? Being it’s a nighttime dream, the “I” would be speaking to no one. The Guru and me are projections of my mind. The “me” in the dream is not here! And there is no we! In the dream I am speaking to me, so to speak. Any good shrink would agree: all figures in the dream are aspects of myself, and then merely illusory and symbolic. And when I awaken, in my bed, in the morning? My goodness! “Is it not possible that you merely shifted from one dream to another, without really waking?”

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