As the wholehearted, you have it within your ability to do what those who live their lives with a split mind could never do. You have it within your ability to mend the rift of duality, a state that was necessary for the learning of the separated self but that is no longer necessary. The mending of the rift between heart and mind returned you to your Self. In the same way, the mending of the rift of duality will return the world to its Self. D:3.5
Earlier this week, I was forwarded a missive written by Gary Renard in which he mentions A Course of Love by name. His “letter” to interested parties was generally about some comments made at the end of the ACIM conference in New York, and led to his defense of the FIP (blue book) edition of ACIM. He wondered why anyone would be interested in anything else, including the supposed “continuation” book, A Course of Love, especially when ACIM is “a complete and unique non-dualistic thought system.” He calls these “course alternatives” unnecessary imitations, and suggests sticking with the real thing and accomplishing its goal of awakening.
Two people recommended that I respond in my blog today, and I have chosen to do so; not because I have any problem with Gary speaking his mind but because Gary also mentions that I “incredibly” said “in public” that I don’t believe in the illusion. This is true. That the “illusion” has become something to believe in makes no sense to me. In my understanding, non-duality is about accepting the both/and nature of reality . . . which is next to impossible to see through the ego’s lens. After my years with both Courses, I recognize the “ego’s world” as illusion. That is all.
Oddly enough, as I’m recording A Course of Love as an audio book, the chapter that I am currently working on is Chapter 19: “Oneness and Duality.” The happenstance of that coincidence, (I am where I am in the project for a reason) has, more than anything else, guided my response.
Before I provide a few quotes from Chapter 19, I’ll just share with you some of the ways that ACOL is so good at helping us to get beyond the very basics of what produces dualistic thinking:
A Course of Love rejects having an ideal and/or false images.
It speaks only briefly of enlightenment, calling it enlightenment “without judgment.”
ACOL doesn’t say “you will get there” but you’re already there (already accomplished).
It doesn’t say you need to study or apply effort to achieve anything, but rather that ceasing with these practices is necessary.
Jesus says no one can teach you what you really need to know. You can’t get it intellectually, and that your either/or thoughts are inconsistent with the both/and of the truth.
He says the mind alone cannot take you where you want to go and when the mind fails to achieve its goals you might let go and surrender to the way of love.
He says the heart at the center of who you are can hold it all—all your feelings, yearnings, imaginings.
You are not separate from anything and need not reject anything but the false self (ego).
ACOL doesn’t encourage seeking. It proclaims a finding.
ACOL does say that you are not who you think you are.
ACOL says that when you get beyond who you think you are you can know who you truly are.
Jesus says that when you get beyond the ego and the world the ego made, you will be a true self, see a true world, and create a new world.
At A Course in Miracle’s end, in the Epilogue to the Clarification of Terms, we find (5.):
Let us go out and meet the newborn world, knowing that Christ has been reborn in it, and that the holiness of this rebirth will last forever. We had lost our way but He has found it for us. Let us go and bid Him welcome Who returns to us to celebrate salvation and the end of all we thought we made. The morning star of this new day looks on a different world where God is welcomed and His Son with Him. We who complete Him offer thanks to Him, as He gives thanks to us. The Son is still, and in the quiet God has given him enters his home and is at peace at last.
When I read that, my heart feels a sense of promise. Why should it be such a surprise that we are asked, now, definitively, to turn from the ego and rebirth the Christ in us and in the world? To, in union and relationship, turn to each other and see the Christ revealed? By the end of ACOL, Jesus implies a most perfect non-dualistic alternative to illusion—a combining of our humanity and divinity in a way that allows us to truly be here now. And he is so confident in this joining that at the end he says to put the book away and go be it.
Let’s move forward with the promise of this beautiful epilogue at A Course in Miracle’s end, and with the new beginning offered in A Course of Love. From the Prelude:
You were your Self before you began your learning, and the ego cannot take your Self from you but can only obscure it. Thus the teachings you need now are to help you separate the ego from your Self, to help you learn to hear only one voice. This time we take a direct approach, an approach that seems at first to leave behind abstract learning and the complex mechanisms of the mind that so betray you. We take a step away from intellect, the pride of the ego, and approach this final learning through the realm of the heart. This is why, to end confusion, we call this course A Course of Love. p.43-44
For anyone interested in more, here are a few quotes from ACOL, Chapter 19: Oneness and Duality, that fill out the more practical side of this approach.
C19.15 …It is difficult for you to accept that what you most need to know cannot be achieved through the same methods you have used in order to know about other things. And, increasingly, you are willing to exchange experience for second-hand knowledge and to believe you can come to know through the experiences of others. Yet, in the case of coming to know what lies before you now—coming to know your own Self—it is obvious that another’s experience will not bring this knowledge to you, not even my experience. If this were so, all of those who read of my life and words would have learned what I learned from my experience. While many have learned much of others, this type of learning is but a starting point, a gateway to experience
C19.16 To think without thought or know without words are ideas quite foreign to you, and truly, while you remain here, even experiences beyond thoughts and words you will apply word and thought to. Yet love has often brought you close to a “thought-less” and “word-less” state of being, and it can do so again. As you join with your own Self in unity, all that in love you have created and received returns to its home in you, and leaves you in a state of love in which the wordless and formless is very near.
C19.17 [O]neness and unity go together, the unity of creation being part of the oneness of God, and the oneness of God part of the unity of creation. A mind trained by separation can have no concept of this, as all concepts are born from the mind’s separate thoughts.
C19.24 The concept that in oneness there is no need for blame or guilt or even for redemption is inconceivable to the separate mind. But not to the heart.
We have found the way of wholeheartedness, of heart and mind joined in union. We are being brought home and co-creating Heaven on Earth. Let us go out and meet the newborn world, knowing that Christ has been reborn in it, and that the holiness of this rebirth will last forever.
How much I love and enjoy what you write here Mari… it resonates within me from the top of my head down to my toes….
I understand so much why you were chosen to bring forth ACOL…for me you have the perfect blend of a clear mind and an open loving heart…
and no need to prove yourself.
ACIM still shines very much for me….It.lives within me but I am so deeply grateful that ACOL came to guide me on home to live as my true Self….and take me there in a gentle way.
Today I just felt that its amazing how beautifully ACOL tells us how to live our life… How to embrace our feelings, live our calling and share our gift. It answers so many questions and it tells us that we can indeed live in the new world that ACIM has promised us…. ACOL leads us there…
and most of all I Love that it is a Course for the heart.
Yes the mind alone cannot take us home….Only through the heart can we truly come to know Love and our true Self.
I have a feeling that only people who are ready to “learn” from the heart will be open for the message in ACOL…
Well so many things that rings true for me are already said by all of you…
Thankyou dear Mari and thankyou All
I loved to read this..
Anne, I feel that I know how You feel–I still get amazed that all this permission has been given, this encouragement, this “call” to be ourselves and express ourselves. It is still almost too good to be true. I remember when I first completed the receiving of ACOL I was briefly incredibly elated. I felt like I was at home in my own skin for the first times. I swore off all “self-improvement” and that is one thing I did not go back to! A lot of other stuff, I did. But as I said to a friend today, where and who would we be without our difficulties? I’m not saying I’m inviting them, but I wouldn’t be who I am today without those experiences, and nor would anyone else. And an amazing thing that Jesus says… remember … “You wouldn’t be other than who you are and therein lie your peace and your perfection?…” Yeap. It’s true. Strange to realize, but true. And so similarly, I would not have you be other than who you are!
I want to make one clarification to my comment. I insinuated that ACIM was not a complete course by saying I thought is was until ACOL. What I mean is that it absolutely is a complete work. It fully served its purpose, to dislodge the ego enough for the next step, complete opening of the heart Creation isn’t stagnate, it continues, we continue. I was told through ACIM that I wouldn’t be left hanging so to speak, so when I received ACOL, it was the fulfillment of that promise. I’m sure beyond any doubt when I’m ready, I’ll lay ACOL down and move into the next..whatever that is, what ever we create in Union together as One, expressing..Being.
Love to you sweet sister
Thank you for taking the time to read this post.
It seems relevant to put forth that 2000 years ago; in a previous life, Gary Renard lived as Thomas, Jesus’ disciple and he wrote the Gospel of Thomas.
It isn’t really possible for anyone to “know” or fully understand Gary’s standpoint during this incarnation. We also do not know the “context” in which he was responding to ACOL.
Respectfully and with love,
Thank you for taking the time to respond to this post. I hope I did not attempt to suggest that I understand Gary’s standpoint. I only felt, since he mentioned A Course of Love by name, and that I had said publicly that I do not believe in the illusion, that it would be good idea to give some context to my own statement!
Oh no worries Mari, I completely understand! :-)) We are all in this “together” — in Union, Wholeness, and Relationship!
Mari, I want to thank you for sharing the Course and these comments. As a long time ACIM student, I am enjoying the teachings of A Course of Love immensely. I am sure I can speak for about 20 others in my group that are reading and discussing the book weekly. Your Response on Illusion today addressed my curiousity about that very topic. I just read T3:16.18 –>”Illusion is the “truth” by which you have lived. The total replacement of illusion with the truth is what the new thought system will accomplish…. The means for making this total replacement are in your hands but you are hardly empty-handed. The truth goes with you as does the love and peace of God.” The teachings are so reassuring!
Jan, Thank you so much. That is the perfect quote! And I am delighted to hear of your group and that this post addressed a topic you are currently reading in the Treatise on the Personal Self. I am appreciating the responses to this post too, and find them reassuring as well.
Thank you, Mari. I much enjoyed your reflections here.
I continue to resonate strongly with the reality– the “new”– in which these Courses, (all of them), which are for times and places and beings (like myself now) so urgently needed, do indeed fall away as the fullness of our love pours into the world through the most effortless and wholehearted means as we shed our false skins. I’m so grateful for the reminder given by Jesus in ACOL that there is a vast and promising life beyond the illusion… In fact, we’ve only just begun. Perhaps we’ll forever be beginning, but we’ll be beginning without the doubt, the fear, the division… This is creation…
At some point, we each have to walk out into the woods of our own heart, and build a fire. There’s no one way to build that fire, and I suspect there as many ways as there are beings. And until we’ve built that fire, alone (empty of concepts) with the sky, the land, the trees, the wind… in relationship with all of it… we’re still just dreaming about it. But once we do it, once we have that experience of lighting the fire, the whole world changes. It’s ours, and we are It’s.
We’re alive… In unity and relationship…
Much love back to you, Michael. Thank you for reminding me and anyone else reading of the vast and promising life beyond the illusion. Direct knowing. Experience… without anything standing in between. That intimacy! The life of it. Yes! I am grateful for being returned to this remembrance tonight.
What a wonderfully loving response! I remember Ken W. telling us that, when explaining things to some Catholic priests, he used the phrase “ACIM is part of the continuing revelation of Christ”. Your response is very much in line with that. Thank you so much. Love and appreciation.
Lovely, Ben. On my first website, I said ACOL was of the same tradition as ACIM, and called it the prophetic tradition. One of my reasons for doing so was reading Abraham Heschel’s book on The Prophets. Well, before even that, I knew the prophets were always rather reluctant! No! You can’t want me! But another thing Heschel said, that I felt deeply, was that with the prophets, their hearts and souls were at stake in what they said and what became of what they said. That might sound lofty or melodramatic to mention in regard to myself, but that feeling, which I didn’t find exactly pleasant, or easy to live with, was in me. And, without knowing her (of course), and only knowing “of her” I sense that it was in Helen as well. I don’t mind it so much now. I know these are rather old-fashioned words, and not for everyone, but when you mentioned the language of the Catholic priests, I remembered it. Yes. I find these Courses part of the continuing revelation of Christ–not just in their words–but in each of us.
Thank you for this, Mari. Presumably like many others, I have also asked the question: How authentic is ACOL? However, from the beginning I felt very attracted to it and, having done it, I have no doubt in my heart anymore.
What fascinates me about ACIM is the apparently frequent bickering between different ‘factions’. Copyright vs no copyright, Gary Renard vs ?, etc. I think I’m beginning to understand ACOL’s statement about ACIM “threatening the ego.” Surely somebody who has completely understood ‘the illusion’ has no need to fight (perceived) illusions anymore?
I have personally found ACIM incredibly valuable, but definitely got to a stage where I felt I had reached the end. That was when I discovered ACOL, and now I feel about ACOL the way I felt about ACIM in the beginning.
I found ACIM incredibly valuable too, Douwe. I usually say, “I fell in love with it.” Nothing before it had affected me in such a way. In this way, I can understand when those who also have loved it and worked with it just have no interest in A Course of Love. But more and more, ACIM readers are opening the cover and once they get inside, they can’t deny what they find. I do see the “thinking mind” as the culprit in the divisions and factions within ACIM . . . that clinging to “right” answers always seems to lead there, no matter the intent. Our hearts’ knowing offers us so much more. Thank you for your response.
I have to say I was disturbed by the thought that anyone would consider A Course of Love an imitation. After spending sometime with ACIM (which I love) I ordered a book from amazon (amazon being my very best friend). I was so disappointed when my order arrived because it included ACOL!! I remember saying “I ordered the wrong book!”
I had felt ACIM was a complete course and how could another work take off where ACIM left. I was a skeptic and as I read everything fell away except the movement and relationship that unknowing developed or was remembered between me and Jesus. It isn’t the book itself, or even that it came through you Mari. I find it to be the next step in awareness of who we are. A gift given that opens the door completely that ACIM cracked opened
As my initial response was that Gary obviously hadn’t read ACOL, I was reminded that we all are on our time. That we are One and what one remembers, remembers for All. I guess this is why Jesus’s call to live the truth is so important in this new time.
Mary, I love that story of how A Course of Love came to you. And if I am going to be honest, I rather like it that you were disturbed that anyone would call ACOL an imitation. I’m glad you admitted to being a skeptic, though. The skepticism is really quite easily understood. I don’t think any of us, after reading ACIM, ever expected or thought there was need for any extension of it . . . and then A Course of Love found us! Who knew?
Thank you Mari for this clarification of purposes of one and other revelation in progress.
We will very soon be beyond words, if we are not here yet. Won’t it be our attitude and our own love which mainly will testify? And you do as well as many others in this family.
Aren’t we really past opinions and judgments? Already in the: Be love or love being?
All is done. We just have to recognize it. .Although much more and be said.
We Are love, loving and lovable. Beyond words. Although words can also testify, as ACOL shows. But the real witness is in each one of us. The One.
How beautiful, Jacques. Another of my favorite things about A Course of Love is its call to us to be who we are, for each of us to be our own unique expressions of love. You and many are surely being that!
“It is difficult for you to accept that what you most need to know cannot be achieved through the same methods you have used in order to know about other things. ”
This is a big part of the dynamic for me.
I like to think I’ve abandoned “either-or” thinking, but I know I haven’t completely. I am slowly reading ACOL. It’s impossible for me to articulate much more about it now.
I’ve always been a bit puzzled by the existence of different “schools of thought” about ACIM and how they can seem defensive and even territorial sometimes. But then I am not an ACIM scholar, really.
Thanks, Mari, for this post and for all you do.
Good to hear from you, Laura. I like your use of the word “dynamic” for what is said in regards to our way of knowing. When I speak of my own favorite things about ACOL, and of course, I consider them the most important things!…I always talk of the change to our way of knowing. It is at once the most radical and most essential change.
I feel it relates as well to ending the conflicts or division that arise from thought and interpretation. What is the right way? Who has the right idea? The Treatise on the Art of Thought guides us to seeing the difference between interpretation and response, and asks for our “response.” I love that. We each have our own response to love!
I only learned of ACOL after getting a newsletter from Jon Mundy (Miracles Magazine) that advertised ACOL on its first page. In the same week, Gary’s email meant to restore the really real as he sees it from his front seat . I’ve been reading Love Does Not Condemn too, by Ken Wapnick, so the synchronicity of it all makes me smile. Weird how so many (“enlightened” ones maybe the most) assume that Jesus and God need loud whistling referees.
Thank you, Mari, for a beautiful statement of your understanding of what illusions–and true reality–really mean for us.
This is insightful and helpful to me: “That the ‘illusion’ has become something to believe in makes no sense to me. In my understanding, non-duality is about accepting the both/and nature of reality . . . which is next to impossible to see through the ego’s lens. After my years with both Courses, I recognize the “ego’s world” as illusion.”
I keep thinking of what Jesus said about being in this world but not of this world. I believe that this is applicable.
With much gratitude for sharing ACOL, a wonderful gift, with us.
Thank you, Mary.