New Realities Magazine, April 1977
"Simple, Dumb, Boring Truths &
Course in Miracles"
By Brian Van der Horst
An excursion into a profound spiritual thought system
that was "dictated" to an atheistic psychologist by an intrusive "inner
over an eight year period — in secret.
Ultimately all mystical systems say the same things; human beings are not their bodies. The physical universe as we perceive it is not real. Hate is an illusion; love works. Dumb, boring stuff. But the woods are full of it. The same concepts appear over and over in Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity - you name it. One quickly gets the feeling that if the teachings of these masters are the revelations of God. He should get a new writer. or at least some new material. We've heard it all, haven't we?
Damn straight. My favorite guru joke is the one about the Seeker who travels around the world searching for the consummate revelation. He finally efforts, struggles, claws and crawls through many, many hardships (This is, after all a shaggy god story) to the top of the Himalayas, and there in a shallow cave he finds an ancient Wise Man. The Seeker manages to pitiably whisper his question with his last drop of strength: "Tell me, 0 Wise One, what is the Secret of Life?"
"All is consciousness and thou art that, " chirps the Sage immediately.
"All is consciousness and thou art that?" says the Seeker, suddenly renewed by massive indignation. "What kind of a crummy answer is that? Here I go all over the stupid globe looking for the Answer. I find you, the kingpin in this game. And you tell me gibberish like that? That's it? I've had it! I'm going to find out myself what it's all about." So the Seeker spins around, and starts tromping down the mountain. He spends the next twenty years of his life studying Sufism, Zen, Shakti, bakti, jnanna and prana yoga; the Kabbalah, The Koran, The Bible, The Upanishads, etc.; learns 17 martial arts; hangs around with every teacher worth his capital "T;" takes every mind control, actualization, and transpersonal psychology seminar invented; meditates, levitates and fulminates for godawful months on end, and finally, after receiving mucho acknowledgement from his peers that he is one high and mighty dude, hikes back in the mountains and confronts the Old Sage once again.
"Come on, I'm in the club now." says the Seeker. "I've studied all these terrifically enlightening things. I'm a guru myself, finally. You can tell me – I mean the real straight-dope-low-down about the Secret of Life – I'm one of the gang now. How about it?"
The Sage giggles, looks him straight between the eyes and blithers, .. All is consciousness and thou art that."
Kensho. The Seeker digs it. But his mind won't quit: and it's howling mad. "Cripes!-" his mind has him say aloud. "That's ridiculous. That's the same drivel you told me 20 years ago!" The Sage looks at him nonplussed. "So? The truth don't change in 20 years."
Well, I told you it was a shaggy god story. But it is just that stupid. Or we are. Despite all those things we've been told for blooming centuries, few of us, like the Seeker ever seem to get it. And when we do, we drop the ball the next moment.
The Course in Miracles differs from all the seeker's studies I've done in my life because it's designed to keep the ball in play. Playing means participation, and in able to be in the game at all you have to experience that you are, in fact, in it. That's what the Course is for me: it is a training which not only – like all the other systems in the world – tells you about religion, this one also enables you to experience religion. And that means all those dumb truths you've ever heard. But suppose you found out they worked?
A Course in Miracles is one of the fastest spreading consciousness phenomena of the past dizzying decade of enlightenment pursuits. Nearly 10,000 people are now involved. Since June, 1976, the materials of the Course – a 622-page Text; a 478 page Workbook for Students, containing a year's worth of daily exercises in changing one's perceptual reality; and an 87-page Manual for Teachers – has spread to 47 states in America and then to 15 countries across the world. Sixty-two study groups have been formed in various cities across the country, each meeting weekly to meditate on and discuss the material. Pretty good, for a document that arrived through such a zany method as "inner dictation."
Between October 1965 and 1975, the three books currently available as the Course (as described by Judith R. Skutch in her interview with James Bolen in this issue), along with a commentary on the nature of psychotherapy and a series of poems, were recorded by "Dr. H." a research psychologist at a major teaching hospital at an Eastern university, who was suddenly addressed by an inner "Voice." The work could not have been accomplished without the close support and interaction with her employer, a professor of psychology in that department, "Dr. B." Indeed, from the way they tell it, the Course at first evolved and was "sent" in answer to questions dealing with a myriad of professional and personal problems.
"Of all life's miracles, which are events not fully understood
nor wholly predictable, the miracle of moral and spiritual transformation
is the most universally enduring and important. This particular course
addresses that process in its own way. The Course indicates at the
outset that it is not intended simply to be read, but rather to be
done. Its values to the individual, therefore, should be measured
by personal results in a life so transformed. Those whom I know who
have undertaken this study in this spirit testify to this transformation."
GLENN A. OLDS, PhD. 56
President of Kent State University,
former U.S. Ambassador to the Economic
and Social Council of the United Nations
These two today remain uncomfortable in the role expected of them in demonstrating the Course's teachings. They are also the most embarrassed pair of potential prophets I've ever met. Considering how philosophical and more importantly psychological the Course is, it was entirely appropriate that they were both teachers and clinicians. In return, the basic logicalness of the Course greatly enhanced their acceptance of what they were doing. Dr. H. is an attractive, spunky, fine-boned woman in her 60's who was born into an intellectual, non-practicing Jewish family. At the time when the dictation commenced, she was already a recognized authority in clinical psychology with numerous published papers to her credit. Dr. B., in his 50's, a tall rangy man with a dreadful proclivity for puns and a vast knowledge of religions (entirely acquired only in the past few years after the Course was transcribed) was similarly acknowledged for his expertise. But despite the awesome revelations they attended, and the subsequent changes in their lives, they still to this day have desired to remain anonymous - partly because of their professional associations, but primarily in an attempt to play down their role in receiving the materials of the Course.
It was their sense of discomfort with the Course, their irascibility and bewilderment with what they had kept secret between themselves for nearly a decade, that began to convince me of the incredible story of the materials' origin.
With the encouragement of another psychologist, Dr. K., who joined them after the Course was "scribed," the two collated the material, and eventually met Ms. Skutch who was instrumental in publishing the material for the first time. Three hundred volumes of the Text – at first photostats of the original typescript – were originally published in June, 1975, under the imprimatur of the Freeperson Press in San Francisco and began circulating. The demand for the materials grew quickly, and on June 22, 1976, under the aegis of The Foundation for Inner Peace – a New York-based non-profit organization – a first printing of 5,000 rolled off the presses. A second printing is now in progress.
The Course first began spreading through Judy Skutch's friends and colleagues. Her enthusiasm for what she found and her belief in its veracity was contagious, and so was theirs. It spread rapidly. One person would tell many others. She calls it more of a cosmic progression rather than geometric – it didn't follow the rules of mathematics. Within months, scientists, scholars, religious authorities, physicians, and academicians of all persuasions were involved in the Course.
Soon a who's who of Northern California consciousness explorers were
participating. Then it was the university people, some of her
fellow board members at the Institute for Noetic Sciences, and people
like Carl Simonton, Gay Luce, John Fetzer, Eleanor Criswell, Stanley
Krippner, as well as the Psi Society in Detroit, the Association for
Research and Enlightenment in Virginia Beach, the Parapsychology Research
Foundation at Duke University. All these people learned about the
Course through personal contact; it spread without any advertising
"I felt a Workbook experience would be relevant. I'm not convinced of
the authenticity of the author because I find inconsistencies
within the material. I think the Text alone would not impress me.
It was the correlation of events in my life, and the lessons in the
Workbook that impressed me. It feels like it's more than one author,
however; as if there are two different styles of speaking. My criticism
is that there isn't enough, enlightenment of the rational mind in
the materials. I don't hold that there is a battle between our higher
awareness and our rational mind. I find fulfillment of both leads
to an integrated person."
RONALD S. HAWKE, PhD. 37
Scientist with Lawrence Livermore Laboratories.
It was a California scientist named Ron Hawke who first introduced me to the Course. In December of 1975, I was interviewing him about a book I am writing about a psychic healer. At the time I was a columnist for a weekly New York Newspaper, The Village Voice. (I'm still writing the column and the book, but two years ago I'd never write a piece like this.) I had the reputation of being – at least in print – hard-nosed, cynical and a professional dilettante with all the suspiciousness that position implies. For two years I had been writing frequently about the field of parapsychology. I had witnessed many strange things, and had come to the point where I was willing to set aside disbelief for a wide range of ESP, psychokinesis and out-of-body experiences. However, I had found myself in a curious situation, from my point of view as a former research scientist, all these wonderfully bizarre things I had first been fascinated with were getting to be another set of dumb, boring truths. I told the stem-faced Ron and his lovely wife Nancy: "What's happened to me is that I've come to regard all these incredible things as so many siddhis, or small miracles as the Hindus call them. Most religions say, 'Sure, you spend enough time meditating, or chanting, or whatever the particular discipline instructs, and you'll start hearing other peoples' thoughts. Yup, you might even be able to start moving objects with your. mind. But don't pay any attention to all that small stuff. Those are just siddhis."
will be good grounding for those in the psychic movement. It's probably
a very sobering thing for people who have gotten too intrigued with
psychic power. It's given me an optic with which to see the whole
psychic spectrum. It teaches about using your own conduct as teaching,
and gives you a way to examine your own programming and erase
your old tapes. the Course will probably end up being ranked
in the top 10 of the spiritual biggies."
RALPH BLUM, 44
Writer, novelist, screenwriter.
"So Ron," I said. "My problem is that I've begun to start looking for something else. I've taken the courses like EST training, hung around with Swami Muktananda, practiced yoga, been through psychedelics; I've been reading Zen, the Tao, and the Upanishads. And my experiences -– most fruitfully the est training – have demonstrated that we are something else than this stuff." I picked up my arm like it was a hollow container. "I'm wondering where does it all lead? Where is the big stuff!"
"Have you heard about the Course in Miracles?" said Ron.
"No," I said. It sure sounded like something to conjure with.
"Oh, it's just something I think you'll be interested in. Try asking Judy Skutch about it."
Only two days later, I was talking to Jim Hickman at Dakin Laboratories in San 'Francisco. On his desk was the Workbook from the Course. It was open to a lesson which began "I have given everything I see in this room all the meaning that it has for me." I was haunted with a strange resonance that buzzed around my brain for days.
"I was so surprised by the aphorisms on the first two pages; they
were so powerful. I've been impressed with the effects of the
exercises. I had never seen anything like that. I don't think it is
for everybody, but it's. authentic, wherever it came from. Having
met Dr. H. myself, I can't imagine that it all came from her."
Editor and Publisher of the Brain/Mind Bulletin
Author of "The Brain Revolution."
I visited Judy the day I returned to New York. She told me the bizarre story of the Course's advent, gave me a yellow-bound copy of the Text, and a flock of xeroxes to copy over for myself. A few days later, she invited me to meet Drs. B., H., and K. They were extremely anxious – as in petrified – about talking to a newspaperman. I told them about my dissatisfaction with parapsychology, and then it occurred to me to tell them about a dream I had had several months earlier.
It was a classical transformation dream. I was an investigative reporter at a convention (of ambassadors from every planet in the universe, A Christ-like figure underwent a spectacular metamorphosis on a platform in the middle of a ceremonial pool. Before our eyes, he changed into, and recapitulated the life of every avatar, and mythological creature in history. Then he grew into huge, fantastic beasts, lumbered out of the pool, still changing, and finally turned into the most incredible sea creature you could ever imagine, and swarm out to sea in an incandescent dawn; That's the short version.
When I had finished telling Judy's friends the long version they invited me to join their study group. I wondered out loud if I was really ready for such an undertaking.
Dr. H. turned to me and said, "Well, just ask,"
I turned inwardly and said to myself: How could I possibly be involved in such a crazy, idiotic thing like this? At that instant, a thought – an intuition -– a voice? shimmered up from somewhere beneath my perception. The communication I received was, "You already are."
"I had quite an internal experience – a gestalt of going through
it all – seeing it all while I was doing parts. It's integrated a
lot of things in my life; I've recognized many things I was trying
to. do; and connected things I'd been working on. It's changed my
view of life; I now go through difficult experiences in a transcendent
ELEANOR CRISWELL, Ph D., 38
President of the Association for Humanistic Psychology,
Associate Professor of Psychology, Sonoma State College,
Managing Editor of Somatics Magazine,
Founder of the Humanistic Psychology Institute
I began reading the text and doing the daily lessons a few days before New Years, 1976. The Course is above all, eminently practical. As John White pointed out, it has never been intrusive either in its arrival or implementation. It is significant to note that Dr. H. never took down the Course in a sonambulistic, trance or unconscious state. Her "Voice" always dictated to her when she was fully awake, and never interfered with her daily life, social activities or profession.
"I've looked at a lot of books like these – most are rather banal
and poorly written but when I saw the materials, I thought it
had a real grace and elegance. It's very straightforward, crisp, clear,
and written in an/intellectual style. I found it to be loaded
with psychological insights."
JOHN WHITE, 37
Journalist, author, editor and teacher
I must admit that I was attracted to the Course by the same scuttlebutt that had appealed to others: that the inner voice which authored the Course was Jesus. Other religious scholars had said words to the effect that it looked suspiciously like a Third Testament. Nothing like getting religion from the Chief Honcho himself, I figured. But when I began the materials, the mentions of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and God nearly drove me up the wall. I felt giving God any one name was a bit blasphemous; and at best, inaccurate. Just at the point, when I was thinking about chucking it all, a very interesting thing happened. I was xeroxing a copy of the workbook for myself when one particular lesson got stuck in the machine. It was lesson 184, sort of a "Name 'em, schlame 'em" adviso that read, "You live by symbols, you have made up names for everything you see . . . Use all the little names and symbols which delineate the world of darkness. Yet accept them not as your reality. The Holy Spirit uses all of them but He does not forget creation has one Name, one Meaning, and a single Source Which unites all things within Itself . . . God has no name." Well, that took care of my language considerations.
"I had heard the author claimed to be Jesus. I decided it probably
was, from the nature of the Text, and from some of my meditations.
This isn't the only path, but it's one you can intellectually
understand. It's affected me throughout my life."
SYDNEY LAMB, PhD, 47
Professor of Linguistics at Yale University
Through my year with the Course, similarly synchronistic lessons appeared to me. Indeed, it is in the Course's interface with people's lives that they generally find themselves drawn in, resonating and convinced of the Course's genuineness and efficacy.
At first I found it effortless, interfacing perfectly with me with my previous consciousness experiences. Then I began to have some rather spooky incidents. At lesson 69, "My grievances hide the light of the world," the student is asked to find a brilliant light within oneself that is hidden by clouds of one's assumptive universe of grievances – or as the Buddha put it Dukkha, or suffering. My meditation brought me to a still place deep inside my consciousness. Suddenly the vapors had parted and I saw this incredibly brilliant light. I was still as cynical and observant as ever, but I have to admit I was impressed with the experience. "Hey, this is pretty hot stuff," I said to myself. In the meantime my body was filled with joyous trembling.
"The Miracle material fits in with current scientific hypotheses
that there is a central creative intelligence in the universe. It
provides the missing link with all systems of meditation. We have
had so many teachers in the Middle and Far East. Practically all have
emphasized that you can do these things, but none have told you exactly
how. This is the only material that actually effects a breakthrough.
It has eliminated my hypertension and ulcers . . . I've never seen
anything that has such a mark of authenticity."
JOHN FETZER, 75
President of the Detroit Tigers,
Radio and Television Station Owner and Operator
Chairman of the Planning Committee of the American League
From then on, a white gathering of – light? Phosphenes? Imagination? appeared to me when I sat down to the daily meditations. Then on Lesson 160, "I am at home. Fear is the Stranger here," I went through the roof.
I was practicing my lesson at 3:00 in the morning. I suddenly felt some activity at the base of my spine. Previously I had ignored such sensations. I had it figured out that meditation should be something quiet. This time I said, what the hell, I'll just go with the flow. A feeling like shuddering, surging energy began traveling up my. I felt as if every nerve trunk on my spine had begun firing. Each burst was as good as any orgasm I'd ever had. It kept climbing. I could feel vortexes of electricity around places that have been described as charkas. "Well," I thought. "So this is Kundalini."
Then I began breathing quickly, spontaneously. First I was smiling, then grinning, then swept over with joy, ecstasy, rocking and quaking, my whole body aquiver. The fire climbed, and then shot out of the top of my head. "this makes celibacy look pretty good," I observed.
After a while I stood and walked over to a full-length mirror. My eyes relaxed out of focus, and my body appeared to vanish in the glass. All I could see was a shadowy radiance outline. Then I saw moving lights inside the outline which coalesced into a figure, a design I instinctively recognized as an energy pattern that symbolized my being. "Now I know I must be dreaming." I watched it for a while, noticed a half-hour had elapsed, and then went to bed, still glowing with indescribably joy. It lasted for days.
Well, that was pretty advanced stuff, I assumed. Months later I compared my drawing of the symbol I had seen in the mirror with one that Dr. H. had received years before in a sort of vision, representing a keepsake from her guide. We had never compared them before. They were identical.
A couple weeks later I was working through Swami Muktananda's Ashram. Suddenly I saw my symbol hanging on the wall. I asked a disciple what it meant. "Oh, that's just Sanskrit for ‘Om'," I was told.
By that' time, my ego system had had it. I had enough evidence for myself. I soon became one of those insane people that loved everyone, and forgave like crazy. And if someone asked if I believed in God, for the first time in my life I found myself saying yes. Now my conception of God is a very comfortable, supporting idea, mind you. It's closer to the Eastern concepts of God-within-all of us, which is copacetic with the Course's desired effect" atonement," which you may notice can also be pronounced, at-one-ment.
"For me it takes all the ideas of the Bible, of spiritual systems
from both the East and West and how they can be applied to daily life.
I'm absolutely amazed. I'm more peaceful now. This is learning unconditional
love like you can't believe. Doing that yourself is incredible. With
my scientific background, it should have been hard to deny what my
senses tell me. But in holography, for instance, you find that all
is illusion anyway:
We're not solid, just an illusion of disregarding the spaces between atoms and molecules. the Course has also shown me what to do with psychic effects, and how to integrate the two in a kind of religion.
DOUGLAS DEAN, M.S., 60
teacher of computer programming and statistics;
former research associate in Parapsychology,
healing and Kirlian photography at Newark College of Engineering
Finally I came to peace with the concept of Christ. As the Course itself clarifies about Jesus' authorship "The Name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol. But it stands for love that is not of this world. It is a symbol that is safely used as a replacement for the many names of al1 the gods to which you pray. . . This Course comes from Him because His words have reached you in a language you can love and understand. The name of Jesus is the name of one who was a man but saw the face of Christ in al1 his brothers and remembered God. Is he the Christ? Oh yes, along with you." My understanding of the course is now that we are all part of a Sonship – as well as God. Christ is a state of recognizing our personal divinity. A miracle is that experience of recognition. Forgiveness is the process by which we recognize. The Holy Spirit is the communicator or inner teacher, if you will, of our true identity – which inevitably is one with God – or the whole context of beingness. We're all God. Simple, isn't it?
"I teach seven classes a week now in the Course (without
The most important aspect about it for me is that I now have a reliable guide within me that has brought me more peace and healing than anything else I've done in 13 years. I've seen it touch peoples lives more radically and quickly than any other discipline I've ever taught. It seems to use the mind to go beyond the mind. It's a framework that takes people past the point of no return, where one realizes his own nature is spirit, and his own function is being a Son of God. My brothers around me are now the source of my salvation, as opposed to being a negative influence or hindrance to my growth. It has made life an organic spiritual process."
BRUCE GREGORY, 31
Holds an MBA from the Warton School of Finance,
was a manager for CBS,
a Silva Mind Control Instructor for three years,
now is New York City
chairman of Spiritual Frontiers
Well, do I go around now listening to a "Voice" that the Course has taught me to hear? Sometimes. Sometimes I ask, and there is an answer there. My experience is that Jesus is indubitably Jewish. He comes across really haimisha – homey. Sometimes a wise guy, but frequently with a sense of humor. When I question something like, "Is this for real?" I get, "So? You have to ask?"
O.K., enough of these anecdotes. If you choose to do this Course, your experience will undoubtedly be unique to yourself. But you'd still like to hear "WHAT THE COURSE IS ALL ABOUT," wouldn't you?
Fine. But you won't like it. It's just what you've always heard: love your neighbors. The Course states that all emotions, problems, decisions inevitably devolve down into a choice between love and fear. You either love, forgive and accept, or you fear, resent, and deny. Rather than trying to reform the world, it stresses you must change yourself and how you see the world. It asks that you cancel out the past grievances when you interact with anyone. The Course in that sense is very Zen. It also asks that we learn to love ourselves by projecting love to others and drop the illusion that the guy who's attacking you is unworthy of love. Many people involved with this course who have been in similar situations say it works.
"I've been using the Course all the time in my practice, especially with children who have catastrophic or terminal illnesses. I would like to share the essence of the excitement of the experience of the Course. One of the things it does is give a system that allows one to surrender the past-future paradigm. It's not that our memories are wrong, but our emotional attachments to the past are irrelevant. . . All of a sudden you begin to experience a sense of peace and an extension of life. And it's different than a religious experience in terms of the institutionalized kind. Things that 'shouldn't' happen according to the laws of man begin to happen in a very beautiful fashion."
J. JAMPOLSKY, M.D., 52
Consultant for Center of Attitudinal Healing,
Hard stuff to swallow, huh? Well, that's why the Course exists. But you have to experience it to believe it. And experienced personally it is by definition enlightenment one can't deny the truth.
One of the most amusing aspects of the Course for me, at least what I feel, is the author's indignation. I often got the notion that Jesus had dictated this because he was so frustrated about being misquoted for centuries, that we had got it all wrong, the first time, a couple of thousand years ago. It's insane to think that you would, OJ: could, have to die to go to heaven, says the author - you are already there. Wake up! Or, take the Course's comments on guilt, for instance - surely a cornerstone of the Jewish and Catholic faiths. "Guilt is the only thing that hides the Father, for guilt is the attack upon his Son. . . . Release from guilt is the ego's whole undoing. Make no one fearful, for his guilt is yours, and by obeying the ego's harsh commandments you bring its condemnation on yourself, and you will not escape the punishment it offers those that obey it."
"It's something that can be done in accordance to my own schedule.
It's made it easier to cope with daily annoyances. and frustrations.
One is able to transcend them and see them as learning experiences.
For me, it's very much like what Don Juan says about erasing one's
personal history. It works. When I was in the hospital with a
bleeding ulcer, I went over the section on healing. I think that
is one of the reasons my stay was so brief. When they X-rayed, it
had virtually disappeared."
STANLEY KRIPPNER, PhD, 44
Currently program coordinator for the
HumanIstic Psychology Institute
The goal of the Course in Miracles is nothing less than a total transformation. My life now looks like many others, but from my point of view, I have undergone an extraordinary metamorphosis. Primarily, I experience this as a loss of fear. I don't know where it's gone, but there are so many things I used to worry about, that are simply no longer there.
"It came to me at a time in life when I wanted inner guidance.
I felt my external activities should be guided by the internal
voice I've been hearing for years. As I opened up the Course for
the first time, I recognized the voice I had been listening to. Now
I am in a deep spiritual development stage, and this is one of my
BARBARA MARX HUBBARD, 47
President of the Committee for the Future
"There is no order of difficulty in miracles. One is not 'harder' or 'bigger' than another. They are all the same. All expressions of love are maximal," are the first instructions in the text that Dr. H. took down from her "Voice" over a decade ago. I have begun to find this principle demonstrated in my life. A miracle is basically realizing the value, the appropriateness, the lesson of how things are - just the way they are - as illusions to be corrected. "Spirit is in a state of grace forever. Your reality is only spirit. Therefore you are in a state of grace forever." This is the way the Text presents the basic core of the Course. It is therefore consummately natural—and easy—to experience miracles.
Where did all the illusion we now perceive come from? The Course explains that what we all see as assumptive reality is what has been made by the ego. As a result, we feel guilt at having cut ourselves off from Who We Really Are, and at-one-ment. We then take our guilt and construct more illusions, in the form of judgments, considerations and ultimately fear – fear of life, fear of dying - fear of recognizing our very nature.
As the Course instructs one to change his perception, the final section is devoted to developing the individual's ability to experience a "Holy Instant, "that is, letting go of our assumptive reality, and through forgiveness, love and atonement,,- creating moment-to-moment, transformations which enable us to see the truth. That's all. Just a miracle.
"I've been involved in Zen and other forms. What is so significant
about this Course for our culture is that it arrives at the same
goal, but does it within the context of the Christian religion. The
other members of the PRF read it and were very impressed with it.
We are taking the Course as a group, and the changes within
the PRF have been particularly rewarding for me. There are now 12
study groups in the area with a total of 432 participants."
WILLIAM ROLL, PhD, 50
Project Director of the Psychical Research Foundation
This is a spare, merely fundamental attempt to summarize the Course, and it in no way describes its richness, thoroughness, and eloquence. In its entirety, it not only explains virtually the whole spectrum of the human condition, it also allows one to experience these insights for oneself, in an ultimately lucid, logical fashion.
Amazingly, the Course also escapes the arrogance that this system is the only way to find enlightenment. "Are other teachers possible, to lead the way to those who speak in different tongues and appeal to different symbols? Certainly there are. Would God leave anyone without a very present help in time of trouble, a savior who can symbolize Himself? Christ takes many forms with different names until their oneness can be recognized," says the Manual. Where is it all going? What is the future for the Course? I asked the question at one of my meetings with Judy Skutch.
"God only knows," she laughed. "I think if I thought about that I'd be scared stiff. It's certainly going to those who are asking for it. We'll do what seems right at that time. Each of us has a tiny role. It fills a need as one of many ways for a person to study spirituality. It's for those who are comfortable in this framework. I don't see it as a mass movement, theology or cult. I see it as another tool for spiritual development."
That's the way I've finally come to understand the Course in Miracles. There are many paths that wind up the mountain of enlightenment. They all lead to the same peak. This is only one of those trails. Just remember the only place you can go from the top is down again. Enlightenment, I'm told, is finally a very humbling thing. It only entitles you to understand that you are already as enlightened as you ever will be and also as unenlightened as you ever will be. So go ahead – experience your perfection – right now.
Author's comments about comments
from students of "A Course in Miracles"
Although I attempted to get some antagonistic opinions, I quickly ran into this Catch-22: only those who already had some affinity with the materials ever began it; those who weren't interested never got beyond the first page, and therefore invalidate themselves as critics. Consequently, their remarks may look like those found in quote ads for movies; but it's hard to knock God, love and forgiveness.
Brian Van der Horst is a former Playboy staff writer and columnist for
the New York weekly newspaper The Village Voice. He is currently living
in San Francisco and serves as a Contributing Editor for New Realities.
Copyrighted materal. All rights reserved. Used with permission.