This is an attempt to briefly state what A Course in Miracles is and why there is such a thing. There is no way to do justice in a couple of pages to a work that purports to thoroughly explore the nature of reality. It is the hope of the author that these meager words will only open the question sufficiently that the reader will be motivated to explore and validate the principles contained in the Course for himself.
The Goal of A Course in Miracles
Simply put, peace and happiness for everyone by every one finding peace and happiness within. The greatest gift that anyone can give to the world is finding the kingdom of heaven in his own mind. In its own words,
"...removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence, which is your natural inheritance." (1)
What A Course in Miracles is
A Course in Miracles is a three volume set of books, most often found now in one combined volume. It is a self-study course aimed at a fundamental transformation of the mind, healing in its most profound sense. It consists of a Textbook containing the theoretical foundation for the thought system, a Workbook containing 365 daily "meditations," and a Manual for Teachers containing answers to some frequently asked questions as well as some of the more accessible information about the principles of the Course. It was first published in 1975 by the Foundation for Inner Peace, a non-profit organization formed strictly to publish and distribute the Course. A Course in Miracles is a deep, profound and radical work which looks at the nature of reality as we experience it and attempts to reconcile it with the Ground of Being, which the Course calls God. If more information is desired about how A Course in Miracles came into being, there is a beautiful one-hour video "The Story of A Course in Miracles" and a book The Journey Without Distance by Robert Skutch. Both should be available at so-called metaphysical bookstores. The Course itself is available at most major book dealers, and contains an introduction and its history.
Two Fundamental Approaches
At their root all religions and philosophies attempting to understand human existence have one of two approaches:
- 1. Evolution or "Becoming" -- that life is somehow moving in a purposeful direction toward a future goal of perfection, getting better and better as time moves on.
- 2. "Always Already" -- that perfection is already the state of affairs and it is only our ability to perceive and experience it that is faulty. By removing the blocks to real vision, we become able to see and experience the perfection that already is.
A Course in Miracles, along with the vast majority of traditional thought systems, East and West, belongs to the latter category. Even Christianity contains this idea as a basic precept although much to the contrary has been added via theological interpretation. Only since Darwin has the idea of evolution or becoming gained any widespread credence or popularity. The Course remains firm; we are always already perfect, but have developed for ourselves ideas which block our awareness of it and have caused us to forget our true nature.
What A Course in Miracles is not
While it is a rigorously complete thought system, A Course in Miracles is neither a religion nor a philosophy, nor is it especially unique in principle or exclusive in any way. It embraces the basic teachings of virtually all the world's major religions and points, once more, to their fundamental unity.
In the Manual for Teachers, the Course puts it this way:
"This is not a course in philosophical speculation.... A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible, but necessary. It is this experience toward which this course is directed."(2)
"This is a manual for a special curriculum, intended for teachers of a special form of the universal course. There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome."(3)
Only, then, a self-evidencing experience is sufficient for one to accept or reject the tenets of this or any teaching. Belief, theology, dogma, argument and assertion have nothing whatever to do with truth. They may, in fact, be the means we employ in order to avoid the simple truth. And, while it also contains a thorough exploration of many of the most important concepts discovered by modern psychology, the Course is not merely another superficial twentieth-century technique attempting to "psychologize" our way to happiness. A Course in Miracles is also not about learning anything new, although it may seem revolutionary. It is not about "changing," or "growing," or "improving." The principal aim of the Course is to uncover the fundamental problem on which all of our suffering is based. It asserts that, if we are willing to see the problem as it actually is, that we will see that it has already been solved.(4)
Why A Course in Miracles is
It should be patently obvious to anyone who is remotely awake that the world is in pretty bad shape. What we have been attempting to do through technology and human ingenuity merely digs us ever deeper into a hole from which, it is beginning to seem, there is no escape. Only some sort of "Apocalypse" or world-wide catastrophe seems to be the answer for ending the interminable conflict and suffering. A Course in Miracles proposes another simpler, yet far more profound solution -- self-transcendence through the transformation of the mind. This is what most of the world's religions have always called "salvation." And, this transformation is in truth an apocalypse which, from the Greek means "unveiling," and which, in no way, needs to be catastrophic. The time, the crisis is here. A Course in Miracles is but one of many roadsigns pointing to the way out.
How to study A Course in Miracles
Transformation is a very personal experience. I recently saw a quotation from some aborigine leader which said something like, "There is only one road, but each must travel it in his own way." So true! A Course in Miracles is a self-study program. Each must come to that "universal experience" in his own time and in his own way. There are informal study and mutual support groups which exist by the dozen in all metropolitan areas. There are educational centers and foundations which disseminate the teachings of the Course. The Miracles Distribution Center at 1141 East Ash Ave., Fullerton, CA 92631, maintains reasonably current files of groups and activities around the country which explore the teachings of the Course. They also sell the book(s) as well as ancillary books and tapes. You may also check out some other ACIM sites. A good place to practice listening to your own internal guidance (which is a fundamental teaching of the Course) is in the choice of how to pursue this course. Follow your own feelings. Do not let anyone tell you what is right or what is wrong. Essentially, there is no wrong way, but conformity to the dictates and methods of others, particularly organizations or "isms" of any kind, is definitely one of the slowest and most difficult.
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©1993 daan dehn
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1. Textbook, Introduction
2. p. 73 (1st ed.), p. 77 (2nd ed.)
3. p. 3 (1st & 2nd ed.)
4. Workbook, Lessons 79 and 80