Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.
-A Course in Miracles
In the spring of 1965 a frustrated clinical psychologist by the name of William Thetford delivered a rare but passionate speech to his colleague Dr. Helen Shucman about the challenges facing their department at Columbia University and how there must be another way. Another way of working with people, getting along with people and doing the right thing in their department without all the agony of competitiveness and general animosity that plagued their daily lives and strained even their relationship with each other.
As he vented to his colleague he was uncertain of how she’d respond, she was prone to criticism and negativity herself but in that moment she agreed to help him find another way.
Looking back they had no idea what that willingness to find another way out of their suffering would lead to, over the next few month Helen would begin experiencing strange visions and dreams and ultimately would hear a voice tell her:
This is A Course in Miracles. Take notes…
The story goes that she was terrified after hearing this voice and anxiously asked her colleague Bill (Dr. Thetford) what to do about it the voice.
Assuring her she wasn’t going crazy he suggested that she listen to the voice and take notes.
Helen described the voice she heard as a sort of “inner dictation” that she could pick up and sit down at any time. Over the next 7 years she would read her shorthand notes to her colleague Bill who would type the material that would become the classic metaphysical text A Course in Miracles.
This was such an unlikely pairing as Helen and Bill rarely seemed to get along, even stranger that Helen was an atheist prior to this experience and now this atheist woman was scribing what some would call “The New Age Bible” and again, to make it even stranger this voice claimed to be the voice of Jesus Christ.
I first came across this book and the story of how it came to be seven years ago while working at a spiritual bookstore in Phoenix, AZ. A gently loved set from the 80’s was donated and I quickly picked them up. The Course consists of three volumes, a textbook that explains the ideas and philosophy followed by a workbook which serves as a self study with one lesson or mantra to use daily for 365 days. And lastly, a manual for teachers.
Browsing the books I was very turned off by the Christian terminology but I attempted the workbook for a few weeks before deciding it wasn’t for me. I put The Course down. I would carry those navy blue books with me apartment to apartment gathering dust for seven more years. As the books were gathering dust my life began spinning out of control. Eventually, following a traumatic experience I found myself immersed in the chaos of drugs and alcohol. Two years into this addiction I had finally had enough, I confessed to God that I had no clue what I was doing and that it was His turn. I tried my way and I failed, I would now do whatever He would have me do and laying in bed coming down from my high my eyes caught glimpse of a box carrying those books.
I pulled them out and began to read:
This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means that you can elect what you want to take at a given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awarenes of love’s presence which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all encompassing can have no opposite.
This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.
I took this as a literal promise from God that if I followed this teaching I would gain the peace I sought. This time as I read the text I was comforted by the Christian terminology and what seemed to be eastern concepts interwoven with modern psychology. As Marianne Williamson describes The Course in her book A Return to Love:
It used traditional Christian terms, but in decidedly nontraditional, nonreligious ways. I was struck, as most people are, by the profound authority of its voice. It answered questions I had begun to think were unanswerable. It talked about God in brilliant psychological terms, challenging my intelligence but never insulting it.
That day a sixteen month journey began of devoting myself to the text, workbook, manual and any other material related to The Course I could get my hands on. My devotion stemmed from the fact that the moment I dedicated myself to The Course something began to shift inside me. I wish I could tell you this book magically changed my life in a day but it did not. I did find myself losing interest in drugs and alcohol, clarity about my past helped me to let go and forgive. And I faced new challenges in this new life that would’ve caused a melt down for me years ago.
I’ve learned from my time with The Course that we really only have two emotions, love and fear. Love is our natural way of thinking, it’s the way we thought before venturing into this world but once here it seems most of us begin to train our mind in the way of fear. This is unnatural thinking and the source of all are pain and suffering. In truth we are at all times one with each other and with God but we have what The Course calls a “tiny mad idea” that we are separate. This split in our thinking basically has created two personalities, love or God and fear or ego. The ego is a makeshift personality that we’ve created in place of the one God gave us, it is terrified, it’s goal is to make you suffer slowly and eventually kill you. The ego believes that you are nothing more than a body, it’s like a wave that’s gone mad and thinks it separate from the ocean and all alone. Your ego is the reason you choose to sabotage yourself, relationships, your body, your finances and anything else you can get your hands on. To the individual this fear shows up as depression, anxiety and anger and to the collective it shows up as poverty, violence and war. There is the individual ego that runs your personal life and the global ego that recently had us on the brink of a third world war.
That’s the bad stuff.
Now, the good news is that the ego is really nothing in and of itself, it is just a thought we have about who we are and that thought is not true. Just as we once learned the ways of fear we can unlearn them and learn the ways of love, that is the goal of the workbook. But this isn’t some modern hollow form of positive thinking that suggests pouring pink paint over all of our troubles and pretending that everything is fine. This way of thinking isn’t passive or blind. It sees the fear, it sees what the egos have done to this world and looks beyond the veil to see the real world. Learning to see the real world means internal shifts and often physical manifestations of love. When you can stand in the midst of chaos, let’s say an argument with a loved one and say to yourself “there’s another way of seeing this…how would love look at my partner?,” you invite in the thinking of God and that love creates a miracle, that miracle may be patience on your part and it may be open-mindedness on your partners but something will happen when you ask.
According to The Course our daily activities, wherever we are, whatever we are doing is to try and see the world with the vision of Christ. This means seeing ourselves and our brothers as we truly are, as the innocent children of God who are simply having a mad hallucination in a dream that we call life. If you can take that understanding into the world you will create shifts within people and in the world. If you can stand before a brother that is angry and know that his true self is peace you can create miracles for him. If you can learn to forgive, not condone but truly forgive your family, your friends, your parents, your lovers, anyone that’s wronged you, employers and politicians not only will you be free but you’ll begin to free the world.
None of this is possible without a true daily practice of The Course or something similar and our time in prayer and meditation is the tool, really the gift that allows us to exchange the world we see for the one that is real.
I surrender to you my ways of thinking, I surrender any judgments and fear I have about myself or those around me. I ask that today You come into my heart and fill it with love, I ask that you come into my mind and offer peace and guidance. Help me let go of any behaviors that are of my ego and replace them with acts of love that create a chain reaction of miracles that heal myself and the world. Guide me God.
If you would like to make a prayer request click here and you will be redirected to submit your prayer request.
A quick bit about me: I am a trained spiritual life coach with experience facilitating workshops, giving inspirational talks, officiating weddings and counseling. I have a strong background in metaphysics and have been trained in how to use meditation, prayer and counseling to facilitate great change within my clients. I am a student of all faiths and have spent time studying Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and many modern religions in the New Thought umbrella. I am currently studying to become a Minister and Counselor of the spiritual text A Course in Miracles. Feel free email me directly for any questions: email@example.com