November 4, 2007

The Work and A Course In Miracles

I hear this over and again from students of A Course In Miracles: "When I got The Work, I got the Course." So I finally got myself a copy of the book a couple of years ago, even though I've long had a personal bias against anything purported to be "channeled," by Jesus or anyone or anything else. (Even some channels come to see that tapping into wisdom is nothing mystical, magical, special, or personal; a friend of mine who used to "channel" seven distinct "entities" realized, after doing The Work, that the source of their wisdom was none other than herself, and she retired, leaving a large following baffled.)

While I am not a student of The Course, I like what it says, and have gleaned insights from it as well as from other books that deepen understanding of Course principles, such at Gary Renard's The Disappearance of the Universe.

A Course in Miracles (or ACIM) provides readers with a way to look at reality from a different perspective, which is of course what inquiry does as well. The Course's author (or channel, if you prefer), Helen Shucman, says in the Preface of the text, "[ACIM's] only purpose is to provide a way in which some people will be able to find their own Internal Teacher." Similarly, in her book A Thousand Names for Joy, Katie says, "Everyone has equal wisdom. It is absolutely equally distributed. No one is wiser than anyone else. Ultimately, there’s no one who can teach you except yourself."

The Course teaches that access to this internal teacher (that means you) is the path to forgiveness, which is defined as recognizing that what you thought someone did to you never occurred. From the Course Workbook: "It does not pardon sins and make them real. It sees there was no sin. And in that view are all your sins forgiven. What is sin, except a false idea about God's Son [all people]? Forgiveness merely sees its falsity, and therefore lets it go. What then is free to take its place is now the Will of God." (p. II.1)

Byron Katie says the same, in essence, and provides us with a means to seeing this falsity: questioning the thoughts (as we reveal them on the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet.) that cause all the suffering in the world. When written down and questioned, the stressful story eventually falls away in the light of truth, so there is nothing to "let go" of. In calling the mind's bluff, we are able to step back from a stressful belief. This is impossible without questioning the mind. The big "duh" of our minds is this: we can't stop believing what we believe until we don't believe it. (This too, is reality, or "the Will of God." Self-realization comes in its own good time.)

ACIM says, "An unforgiving thought is one which makes a judgment that it will not raise to doubt, although it is not true." In other words, there has to be willingness to investigate our beliefs. "The mind is closed, and will not be released. The thought protects projection, tightening its chains, so that distortions are more veiled and more obscure; less easily accessible to doubt, and further kept from reason....Distortion is its purpose, and the means by which it would accomplish it as well." (Workbook, p. II.1)

This is the essence of question three of The Work: "How do I react when I believe this thought?" The "I" of this question is the ego, the body-identified self. The "I's" job is to protect itself and the way it does this is to be right, to refute evidence what might cause it to disappear. Its job is also to create "Other." Without a You, there cannot be a Me. As we answer this third question of The Work and its specific subquestions, what we witness is the self-protective, unforgiving ego in action. Clinging to a self-preserving belief may appear to feel better than the alternative...but at what cost?

Question four, "Who would you be without this thought," is the stepping back suggested by ACIM, now with a clear picture, after inquiry, of the way our attachment to thought kicks us out of heaven.

The turnarounds could be seen as "the Will of God," free to be expressed in a dream ("Life is but a...") where there are no consequences to having an open mind where multiple possibilities can exist at once...except for the death of the limiting story of self that, as we've learned in the process, no longer serves us.

I welcome your comments and specific references to ACIM lessons that you have understood in the light of inquiry with The Work.

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.


Eimear Flanagan said...

Reading a lesson from ACIM every single day remains the only new year resolution I have ever kept to (for the whole year!!)...despite a constant struggle with the language of ACIM. Katie and The Work 'came in to my life' toward the very end of that 'ACIM' year. After spending 4 or 5 days reading everything I could find about Katie on the web - I woke up one day literally laughing. I couldn't find a problem in the universe. This laughter lasted for a few days and I knew it would go away again. I do remember reading my lesson from the course and the entire struggle with the language was gone. It made absolutely perfect sense! The laughter sub-sided (and 'problems' returned) but I KNEW that The Work was 'for me' after that experience. I continue to do my Work and I have a strong belief that I've loads of Work to do. There is nothing in ACIM that contradicts The Work for me. The Work is just simpler for me and I notice I love reading occasionally from ACIM.

Carol L. Skolnick said...

Great post, Eimear! Katie doesn't see any contradiction either; there's an old recording of her (long out of circulation) where, at the request of a Course student, she comments on the first—17 I think—lessons of the ACIM workbook. Basically the whole tape sounds like this:

Student: "Lesson 6: I am upset because I see something that is not there."

Katie: "Yeah."

Tim said...

Hi Sis :)

I am one who has found that The Work is the most effective "method of forgiving" I have found to date.

As a (former) long-time ACIM student, The Work has allowed me to stop *studying* The Course and begin actually living its primary message - at least in some measure.

For me some of what could be called the Creation Myth, and Principles found in ACIM don't hold water under the scrutiny of inquiry. (For example I can't *really* know that it's guilt that causes my body to be sick.)

However, to repeat, I have experienced that forgiveness (a la 4 Questions and a Turnaround) quite simply works for me.

Bro' T