Exactly What I Needed

By Barry Cosme

On November 13, 2015, Barry Cosme, a longtime student of A Course in Miracles, posted the following review of A Course of Love on Amazon.com. He graciously gave permission for it to be reprinted here.

This book (ACOL) was the perfect gift for me, exactly what I needed. I encourage anyone who might be interested to invest some time with it. There is a compelling authority and authenticity to this book that deeply touched me in some startling, unforgettable and life-changing ways. I highly recommend it! On a scale of one to five, I give it a TEN. This is the first, and so far the only, book review I have ever written. While I have read many great books, for this book I feel moved to share with others how moving it has been for me. I trust that you will experience something similar! In hopes that it is helpful to readers who might have done some similar seeking, let me share a bit of my story with you.

I have been on a spiritual journey through one means or another for my entire adult life, including the study and application of A Course In Miracles (ACIM) for nearly 30 years. ACIM is an amazing book; probably the Introduction by itself contains enough wisdom to completely transform one’s life. Certainly ACIM was the most brilliant, helpful and even beautiful book I had ever read to that point and even since then is only eclipsed by ACOL. I believe that if someone completely grasped the mind training in ACIM to fully learn forgiveness and the reversal of world-view that it brings, they would achieve enlightenment and spiritual mastery on the level that has almost never occurred on Earth. Yet, despite sensing/knowing this with nearly perfect certainty, I still felt unable to fully actualize this in my life; I felt somewhat stuck, despite enough positive change in myself and my life to maintain my continued interest for decades.

Yet, for me at least, the impressive tools or ACIM didn’t take me quite as far as I believe its Author intended or as far as I wanted to go. This could clearly be a deficiency on my part, yet as far as I can tell, I don’t think I was alone in this respect. For those of us who had not quite gotten the full realization yet of ACIM, another course was created, A Course of Love. This new Course, which does not require prior study of ACIM, resolves some seeming problems that appear to have cropped up for many. With ACIM’s emphasis upon the mind, ironically, even its brilliant mind training can result in some students substituting one set of mental rules for another, rather than leaving such rules behind. In this case, it seems easy (at least for me) to become stuck in perpetual striving, learning, becoming… and never really reach accomplishment.

The approach of ACOL focuses upon the spiritual heart of the reader’s being. This was a stretch for me, whereas I found the focus upon the mind in ACIM to be more comfortable. Yet, this challenge was part of what I needed to get me moving. While love cannot really be taught, it can be experienced and recognized for what it is. While Love exists, gracefully reaching out to us, embracing us, it is up to us (up to me) to let Love reveal itself to us/me. Because the ends and the means are really one, the method for the revelation of love… is love itself. Through forgiveness and acceptance of myself, of others, of God and of the All of Everything, I express the very love from within that is the revelation of Love for which I had been seeking.

On my journey, I had long ago come to understand that: a) I was, and that we are, one with Infinite Love; b) time and the apparent reality of the physical world are not what they appear; and c) apparent problems with this must be resolved as matters of awareness. Yet, despite these understandings, I still felt stuck; how could I become aware of that of which I was not aware, unless the awareness (and thus salvation) came from elsewhere? The end result I had been seeking always escaped me because I started from the premise that I did not have that for which I was searching.

Until my second reading of ACOL, I had always been waiting… waiting and hoping for someone else to save me because clearly I couldn’t do this for myself, as I did not have what it took, I didn’t have that for which I was seeking. I had been waiting for Jesus, for God, for someone or something other than me, to please complete me and transform me into the ideal person that I had sought so long and hard to become. Through gentle, persuasive and relentless logic, the Author of ACOL talked me around this seeming barrier. I finally realized that I did not need to wait; I had finally seen enough to convince me that if anything was going to happen for me, it was up to me to take the initiative…in this and every moment. At last I saw that if all of creation is One in Love and Being, then the answers I had been seeking must be in me right now and that I really do have the capacity in every moment to let the Truth reveal itself to me and to guide me to extend this Truth through my expression of It and of myself.

So where does this leave me? Many years ago, when I finished my first period of intense study of ACIM for several years, I saw the result as putting me in touch with the Holy Spirit, my inner teacher or guide, and this has since been of immense value. After my similarly intense study of ACOL, I am far, far less focused upon learning, in which the effort of the student seems to be the key determinant of success. Instead, I am much more relaxed, almost basking in the direct grace and embrace of Love’s revelations, in which success dependably comes from Unity rather than from my unreliable individual effort. I am no longer focused upon intermediary relationships, whether with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit or with others in my life and instead expect and find direct revelations of Truth. Similarly, I am also not focused upon intermediate steps, conditions or requirements and I accept this as a miraculous transformation.

While on my quest, I had many questions and problems. These were intermediate steps that I thought needed to be answered and solved before I could arrive at the end of my journey. Now I have released these in the revelation of the divinity of my brothers, of my sisters and of myself. I gladly accept the Reality of Love, both the Love that comes to me and the Love that I express, all of which is One. I treasure this all-encompassing embrace and at the same time also my human imperfections that are part of the dance I perform, the artistic expression that reveals that Love is everywhere and always. While the journey of seeking may thus be ended, the expression through which Love newly reveals itself is without end and for this I am eternally grateful.

I am much more comfortable simply Being… instead of becoming. By accepting myself as I am and others as they are, even with the appearances of human frailties in all of us, my vision of the Truth beyond appearances is enriched and deepened. In the past, I would have filtered my acceptance to see what was pleasingly in accord with the image I had for myself and others, to see how we measured up to the ideal… or how we fell short. Even when I thought this was rather sophisticated and enlightened in some ways, it was really still just the same old pattern of judgment and condemnation. Rather than striving to become the vision of perfection I held in my mind, I have released myself and others from this trap. I am no longer striving, searching or otherwise expecting the fruits of my meager human efforts, or those of others, to show me divinity. I am no longer trying to fit myself or others into an image that seems to dictate expected behavior. Instead it is so wonderful to simply Be, and in my acceptance of myself, I am also able to accept others and God. It feels so spacious and empowering to build newly upon such freedom.

Forgiveness, acceptance, love and being are each the journey and the journey’s end; the means and the ends are the same; “As within, so without” (ACOL). In every moment I can feel love… by offering love. Thus in all apparent circumstances, no matter how they might seem beyond redemption, I can find the happiness, divinity and the unity of Love. This is truly the Peace that transcends human understanding! And at the same time, this is also part of the creation of a new vision of Life.

Barry Cosme is a longtime student of A Course in Miracles (ACIM) and more recently of A Course of Love (ACOL). Besides working as a corporate executive, he is an avid photographer and an occasional blogger (“Alternative Materiality”  https://barrycosme.wordpress.com/) on the subjects of ACOL, ACIM, Christianity and related topics.

Always Breathing

By Michael Mark

a failed business or two,
an off-the-rails internet showdown,
or a year of refusing to grieve
the relationship that once meant everything
that somehow got shredded into filler material
for camel saddle stuffing,
or a night of staring down the sky
with our awkwardness,
our best efforts,
and our mumble mumble self-talk,
we realize:

Loving isn’t a skill that we learn.

We don’t get better at it.
We can only get out of the way.

We can only keep breathing
in synchrony with the breath
that is breathing us—
with the breath
that is climbing
into every being
for a look around,
and then climbing back out
into the sky
as something else altogether,
with us in its pocket.

We can only give ourselves to it—
to the streaming parade of holy instants
and the grace of endless, flowing silence—
so that our prayers
have a little of everyone in them,
so that our circle
can live inside of other circles,
that live inside of other circles,
that live inside of a breath

that’s always breathing.

Michael Mark is a utility systems engineer and a writer who recently published his first collection of spiritually-themed poems entitled A Cannon, a Heart, and Now This. A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love have been significant influences upon the unfolding of his inner life, leaving him increasingly content despite a growing inability to be certain where one thing ends and another begins. He maintains a blog featuring his poetry, sporadic experiments with fiction and occasional Course related pieces at www.embracingforever.com.