[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]
Have you ever thought about trying to become a model Course student? For many of us this may have connotations of being a Goody Two-shoes, of forcing oneself to conform to an artificial mold in order to gain the approval of some abstract standard or vague authority figure. Yet most of us have striven to be a model something: a model salesman, stamp collector, housewife, sports fan—something. Why not instead aspire to become a model student of A Course in Miracles? Doing all that the Course asks promises to deliver happiness undreamt of, peace never-ending. Do the other things we have tried to master promise anything close to that?
Assuming that we want to be a model Course student, what would that look like? The Course at one point says, “Learn to be a happy learner” (T-14.II.5:3). What would a happy learner look like in the context of the Course? If one happily threw oneself into the Course and did everything it said, what things would one find oneself doing? What areas would one be moving into and mastering?
What follows is my attempt to answer that question. It is not meant to be a complete answer. Many of you, I am sure, will think of things I left out. I wrote this as a list for myself of my personal aspirations, and so it may skewed to the aspects of the Course I relate to. However, I hope you will find it valuable food for thought. After having read my list, you may even want to write up your own.
Most of the items on this list, as expressed, are rather lofty. This means that you may be tempted to see them as signs of what a failure you are as a Course student. I suggest, therefore, that rather than seeing them as sources of guilt, try seeing them as magnificent goals to aspire to, goals that hold out the promise of genuine happiness.
A model Course student
…would make slow, deep, thoughtful study of the Text a cornerstone of his daily life; would experience reading the Course as an act of drinking from a life-giving spring, and would be drawn, even compelled, to visit this spring often; would see every word as written personally to him, every sentence as having his name on it, every paragraph as laying out his personal road to the happiness he has always desired; would hunger to understand its thought system and to make it his own, make it the source of his own feelings, perceptions and attitudes.
…would see the practice laid out in the Workbook as the most joyous and rewarding thing he could do with his mind, and so would engage in this practice as frequently and naturally as one would daydream about a new lover; would awaken with God being the first thing on his mind; would spend time each morning immersed in Course-based prayer and meditation; would voluntarily turn his mind to God many times each hour throughout the day; would have formed an automatic habit of responding to every upset with inner practice; would see this practice as the real solution to every problem; would eagerly look forward to his next quiet time of resting with God; and would conclude his day once again sunk deep in prayer and meditation.
…would see extending forgiveness from his mind to the minds of others as the purpose of his life on earth, the sole purpose behind his words and his deeds; would devote each interaction to releasing others from their burden of guilt; would see this releasing as the bottomless well from which he drew his own happiness; would be a true light in the lives of those he knew, a genuine blessing to the world.
…would be aware of his special function, the special form in which he was meant to extend forgiveness, and would devote his life to this function; would rise in the morning and see each day as an arena for carrying out this function; would see no reason for staying on earth once this special form of his function had been completed.
…would be totally devoted to any pupils he had been given to guide through the Course; would pray for their progress and envision their journey already completed; would constantly watch his mind for wrong-minded perceptions of them and release these perceptions to the Holy Spirit.
…would be an effective healer, whose mere presence could heal illness, dispel anxiety and bring hope to the despondent; would be such a powerful beacon of forgiveness that he could shine its light into the most ancient of wounds, allowing those wounds to come to the surface and vanish in the light of truth.
…would have established authentic, solid and frequent contact with the Holy Spirit; would conduct his special function according to his guidance, not according to his plans and desires; would ask and listen to the Holy Spirit frequently throughout each day; would see the Holy Spirit’s plan as the blueprint for his life, as the total governing principle behind his earthly journey; would live only to play his part in the Holy Spirit’s plan for the salvation of the world.
…would have more or less mastered the art of relationship; would see his relationships as the proving ground where his inner work either bore fruit or was shown to be fruitless; would be the most wonderful person to be in relationship with: loving, forgiving, generous, devoted, infectiously happy; would be able to maintain long-term, committed relationships that only grew more loving over time, but would also feel committed to casual acquaintances and strangers on the street; would be in each relationship to selflessly give, not to bargain and trade; would constantly watch for and release the inner temptation to indulge in specialness; would be engaged in perhaps several holy relationships (relationships in which he had joined with another in a holy purpose) and would be experiencing these relationships advance ever closer to their goal of being pure manifestations of the Divine.
…would be refreshingly honest about his ego, quite aware of its patterns and its usual tricks, and, rather than defending them, freely speak of them; would watch for and actively take note of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that were ego-inspired, and, once noticed, would step back and observe them, see right through their innocent masks to their murderous core, and dispassionately offer them to the light as if they were not even his.
…would have become accomplished in accepting and extending miracles; would be able to enter the holy instant, the birthplace of the miracle, at will; would experience the miraculous release from his own fears and judgments, as well as the miraculous releasing of others, as everyday events; would frequently see things happen around him that are supposed to be physically impossible; would be convinced based on experience that nothing could imprison him.
…would see Jesus as standing at the center of his life and at the heart of his mind; would view Jesus as a dear friend who is showing him what friendship really is, as an older brother from his forgotten family who has sought him out and is bringing him back home, as his beloved teacher whose boundless wisdom and caring guidance is progressively saving him from the hell he made.
…would have become a master of forgiveness, so that nothing could stand in the way of his vision of the innocence in all things; would spend all day clearing his eyes of any perception of the sinful, the attacking, the imperfect, so that he could spend all day gazing on the Christ in everyone; would know that this true perception is the supreme happiness and peace on this earth and would move into that peace more deeply with each passing day.
…would regard God as his all-in-all, his Father in the only true sense of the word, his origin, his destiny, his home, his very being, his Guide for the journey, the single aim of all his living here; would know that God was with him always, would feel Him by his side and in his mind, and would occasionally drop into intimate, unmediated communion with Him; would feel inexpressible gratitude to God for creating him and for keeping his Identity untouched and perfect in spite of all he has seemingly done; would regard God’s Love as the nourishment of his being, as the true food that sustains him, the true air he breathes; would see his entire journey through time and space as being aimed at one single event of unparalleled significance: his final awakening in the Arms of his Father, where he will forget the world and spend eternity in boundless joy.