Thursday, January 24, 2008

Miracles Mishagass

That was Bill Thetford's expression for the insanity that seemed to start swirling around ACIM right from the beginning. Today it has become a complete industry. I do not know how to deal with it, other than just ignore it, or address it clearly whenever it comes up.

One of my favorite comments from Ken Wapnick concerns the issue of some students who think they want to find a therapist who practices the Course, to which he invariably says: "If you need a therapist, please just pick a good one, and don't pick him because he would be a Course student." And that sums it up quite nicely, for a simple reductio ad absurdum would lead you to the notion that you would need ACIM-certified doctors, car mechanics, plumbers, and cleaning ladies, to name but a few. Conversely you might just as well look for a therapist with red hair. You can't make those decisions by proxy, never mind what they are.

It all adds up to the same insane confusion of content and form which led the early Christians to set themselves aside and make the teachings of Jesus into a religion, instead of practicing what he said, and following him in content, in spirit. Whether on the weekend you watch football, or study ACIM has nothing to do with the price of beans.

In the current literary landscape I would think perhaps the enlightenment trilogy by Jed McKenna, published at The Wise Fool Press might be the best antidote against this particular form of insanity. If nothing else they make it very clear by implication that ACIM has nothing to do with it. If it happens to be your path, it is a means to an end, it may serve some people, not others, but in the end it has nothing to do with the price of beans. There are many paths, as the Course itself clearly reminds us of, not to mention it's profound message in Lesson 189, when it says: "Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God." (ACIM:W-189.7:5) In other words, you use the railing to climb to the top of the stairs, but once you are there, you don't take the railing with you. You let go of it, and you walk onto the particular floor of the building you are in.

The perfect corollary to this is when the Course says in its Preface: "It is not intended to become the basis for another cult. Its only purpose is to provide a way in which some people will be able to find their own Internal Teacher." and a bit further down it elaborates even more:
"The Course makes no claim to finality, nor are the Workbook lessons intended to bring the student's learning to completion. At the end, the reader is left in the hands of his or her own Internal Teacher, Who will direct all subsequent learning as He sees fit. While the Course is comprehensive in scope, truth cannot be limited to any finite form, as is clearly recognized in the statement at the end of the Workbook:
This Course is a beginning, not an end...No more specific lessons are assigned, for there is no more need of them. Henceforth, hear but the Voice for God...He will direct your efforts, telling you exactly what to do, how to direct your mind, and when to come to Him in silence, asking for His sure direction and His certain Word (Workbook, p. 487)."

That really sums it up, right at the outset. Meanwhile the world blithely ignores these messages, and probably as I'm writing this, someone is developing Course-branded ski jackets or some such, but we would do well to be mindful of the fact that the only real thing to do is to dedicate ourselves to the relationship with the one Internal Teacher. If anyone can help you with the Course, fine, but the minute you lose focus on that Internal Teacher, you become a follower of people, not a student of the Course.

Along similar lines I remember a workshop I organized with Nouk Sanchez & Tomas Vieira, around their book Take Me To Truth, on a break I heard a comment from the audience about finding a better partner to study ACIM with, which for all the same reasons is not the point, for it is not about the words. It is about the inner practice. Of course it can be very helpful at times if you have someone who you trust in their work with the Course, who may be able to give you some useful feedback when you hit a bump in the road, but you don't have to be married to, or live with, that person for it to work. It is never about the person. It could be a comment you overhear on the bus one day, which gives you just the clue you needed, for the Internal Teacher will use any available channel, and our responsibility is just the willingness to listen, and follow the Internal Teacher.

In my own life, I had to confront this issue in a different way, when the person who I had seen as my spiritual teacher for about 25 years died. I was angry with God then. And yet at some level I did realize that I was confusing content and form, and that another channel would show up. Four years later I found ACIM, and through a dream experience I knew without a doubt that here was my answer. And the beauty is that the book itself says of itself that it's only a book, it is there only to be a help for those who use it, but the truth is within, as the likes of Socrates and Jesus, and Buddha have been teaching since the beginning of time.

Copyright, © 2008 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.