A Course in Miracles offers a unique approach to the healing of human suffering. Following an educational (versus religious) model of learning, the Course provides a pathway out of our suffering through the disciplined practice of love and forgiveness.
The following provides a very brief overview of the Course’s profound and sophisticated thought system.
Everything begins with God. Unlike the God of traditional religion, however, God in A Course in Miracles is no more male than female, and He contains no anger, judgment, or punishment whatsoever. He is pure, unbounded, unconditional love. He is also different than the impersonal God of much contemporary spirituality in that He thinks, feels, makes promises, and yearns for our return. Yet since He has no body or ego, His thoughts and feelings are limitless and eternal.
2. The Son
The Course says that we, like God, are also limitless, bodiless spiritual beings. God created us as His beloved Son, His miracle, His masterpiece. We are one with Him, yet we are the created and He is the Creator. God loves us with an all-encompassing intensity that exceeds our current comprehension. He placed us in an infinite Heaven in which there is no time and space, only “an awareness of perfect oneness.” Heaven is our home; where we are from and where we will return.
3. The separation
In the oneness of Heaven, a thought of separation entered our minds. We wanted to be above the other Sons and even above God Himself. As a result, we seemed to separate from God, but this separation was not real. Heaven is the only reality; there is nowhere else to go. We thus merely fell asleep and dreamed of somewhere else: a universe of time and space. The physical universe, in other words, is our projection; it is not God’s creation. And since it is only a dream, it has no power to determine who we are or control what we feel.
4. The ego
Out of the separation was born the ego, our belief that we are separate and on our own, that we are alone against the universe. Based on this belief, we strive to be special—better than others. We feel that our gain must come at their expense. Our behavior is thus laced with attack and this instills in us deep (and mostly unconscious) feelings of guilt. We feel sinful at our core, believing we “have made a devil of God’s Son.” Yet this is impossible, for God created us and what God creates cannot be changed.
5. Our search for happiness
Guided by the ego, we pursue happiness by trying to control external events. We seek money, material things, and special relationships in order to fill a presumed lack, yet this search is an impossible quest because we are striving for happiness that cannot be found in the external world. We won’t solve our human predicament by controlling the world. The problem lies at another level.
The problem is not outer events, but our interpretation of them. We project onto them meanings from within our own ego-based thought system. As the Course says, “projection makes perception.” In projection, we hurl outside what we don’t want to see within. In essence, we hurl our ego, with its destructive will and attendant guilt, onto the world. Now that our ego appears to be out there, not within, we see ourselves as the “good guy” surrounded by vicious wills wanting to hurt us. As a result, we live in a never-ending state of fear.
7. The Holy Spirit
Left to our own devices, we would stay forever stuck in the ego’s closed loop. That is why God created the Holy Spirit, His Voice within our dream. The Holy Spirit’s role is to take our hand and lead us into a higher way of thinking and perceiving. As we learn to still our minds, we will hear Him speak within us. He wants to gently guide not only our inner development, but also our outer decisions. The Course therefore teaches us to seek His guidance throughout each day.
In addition to the Holy Spirit, we also have support in our journey from Jesus. The Course claims to have been authored by Jesus, yet this is a decidedly non-traditional Jesus, who was created as our equal. His only difference from us is that he has awakened to the identity we share as God’s Son. His message is not one of judgment, but of learning how to give and receive unconditional forgiveness. We can follow his words without accepting him into our lives, yet he will help us a little more if we will treat him as a dear brother and let him personally guide us home.
9. Thought reversal
The way home lies in the reversal of our thinking. We need to train our minds into a new perception of reality. The way to do this is especially laid out in the Workbook. “The purpose of the workbook is to train the mind in a systematic way to a different perception of everything in the world.” Through this process, we learn how to dispel negative emotions, forgive, and find peace. By transforming our perception, we transform our experience of reality.
The main change in perception needed is a shift in how we see others. We must go from seeing them as ego-driven bodies who have wronged us to seeing their true reality as holy Sons of God. This shift is forgiveness, but of a very different kind. We usually see forgiveness as heroically letting go of justified anger. Yet in the Course it is a change in our perception of what’s real in which we recognize that our anger was never justified in the first place.
Through forgiveness we open up in us a different mode of perception, which does not rely on the body’s eyes. We see with what the Course calls vision or true perception. Vision looks past the body, seeing a holy radiance in everyone and everything. This sight fills us with a happiness we never thought possible. Vision sees what the Course calls the real world, a world of innocence in which “Everyone and everything I see will lean toward me to bless me.”
12. Giving miracles
As we see others in a new light, we relate to them in a new way. Rather than using them for our own ends, we devote our days to giving them miracles. Miracles are expressions of love that heal others’ perception of themselves and can even heal their bodies. Those we heal then become witnesses to the light in us, teaching us through their gratitude that we are far more than we thought we were. Giving miracles, then, is how we heal our own minds, for “giving and receiving are the same.”
13. Salvation of the world
Each of us is given a special role through which we give miracles to the world, one that is uniquely tailored to our individual strengths. As all of us do our part in fulfilling these roles, the world will become more and more like Heaven. And when we have all reached the end of our learning, God Himself will lift us back into the heavenly state, and the world, being an illusion, will literally disappear. We will find ourselves back in the heart of God, realizing that in truth we never left.
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