A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love — A Reflection
By Douwe vanderZee
It seems the controversy about the relationship between A Course of Love (ACOL) and A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is gaining momentum. Numerous comments have been posted on Amazon, but especially the rather critical review by “Dr Bob” (Robert Rosenthal) garnered broader attention. It was re-posted by at least one well-known teacher of ACIM—ironically the very person who has himself been called a fraud before.
The main point of contention seems to be that, although ACOL claims to be a follow-up to ACIM (what Robert Rosenthal calls “riding on the back of ACIM”), some believe that the principles of ACOL do not necessarily agree with those of ACIM. These people believe that ACOL is actually a “regression back into duality” from ACIM’s strictly non-dualistic premise.
I always like going right back to basics.
The first question for me is: When is something true?
There are many of those immersed in the material world who would claim that no form of “channeling” is possible, and that therefore neither ACIM nor ACOL are “true”.
For others such as myself ACIM rang true at a deeply intuitive level, and that’s why we studied it. Even in my case, however, I only started doing ACIM four years after I first encountered it. In other words, what rang true for me when I started studying ACIM was not the same as what rang true four years before. During those four years I had experienced much conflict, and perhaps a diminishing of “ego”?
Yet why does anything ring true to anybody? Is it not a deeper knowing in ourselves, of which science knows nothing, that is often obscured by something else also within ourselves? One reason why ACIM rang true for me was that its elaborate description of the ego explained the paradox of being human for me in a way that no psychologist had ever explained it before. I could only see it, however, because I was willing to observe my own ego. In all probability I did not have that willingness when I first encountered ACIM.
Within the ACIM community there has been a lot of dissension and conflict. Different versions of ACIM exist, and the issue of copyright even went to court. A court battle about a “Word of God”?! So who is “right” and who is “wrong”?
ACIM itself urges us to let go of ALL judgment.
And so the ultimate basis of acceptance of ACIM as “true” is personal intuition – a deep knowing within ourselves. All that teachers of ACIM can do is interpret it for their followers. Some interpretations work for some, others for others. In my case, the authoritative language of ACIM, the extraordinary context of its origin, and the general agreement with both the deep spiritual wisdom of ages past and quantum physics confirmed – for me – my authentic personal intuition that ACIM was true. Many others apparently had a similar experience. ACIM had a dramatic effect on me as I read it over and over and over again.
Although in my own experience I literally experienced miracles in the first few years of my engagement with ACIM, I gradually found myself “falling back into the world.” I kept repeating the lessons of ACIM many, many times, but they did not seem to have much effect anymore. I was getting frustrated and depressed. I approached a well-known ACIM counselor, who told me to “get my mind in order.” This is what I had been trying to do for 25 years without apparent success!
It was in this state of mind that I attended a retreat by David Hoffmeister and his “Messengers of Peace” in South Africa. I expressed my state of mind at that retreat. I enjoyed the retreat immensely, and felt David to be absolutely genuine and congruent, but I did not receive a clear answer to my emotional dilemma. What I enjoyed most about the retreat, however, was what David called “expression sessions.” I needed to express what I felt! David’s stories about his life in faith also helped restore my confidence in my own life “in faith.”
At that stage I had already started with ACOL, which I had come upon “coincidentally” upon surfing the Internet. I had also read Eckhart Tolle’s books and listened to his meditations. The Power of Now had made a deep impact on me, as his concept of the “pain body” resonated with my own experience. Being “present” as he explained it really worked for me. Now it was as if everything seemed to come together.
In the very intellectual state of mind I was in when I first started with ACIM, ACIM was exactly what I needed. I did the Course in one year, and then several times afterwards, and could see the changes in my life and in the people around me. But I am also a feeling person, and more and more this aspect of me needed addressing. The Power of Now addressed that, but I did not quite know how to “fit” that experience into the intellectual framework of ACIM. ACOL did that.
But ACOL makes it clear that it is addressed at the “heart” rather than the “mind,” although the ultimate aim is “wholeheartedness,” in other words the unification of heart and mind. It also makes it clear that the “heart” entails a very different kind of intelligence than the “mind,” and that its message should be received, not so much by means of conscious understanding of intellectual concepts as by a subconscious “absorption” of what lies between the words as much as the words themselves. I find it useful to compare the process with what happens in young children. What Maria Montessori called the “absorbent mind” of young children has an intelligence that far exceeds our conscious intelligence, and operates in a completely different way from conscious intelligence. Very few adults retain this intelligence, yet most adults perceive themselves as more intelligent than young children!
Like many others, I was skeptical of ACOL at first. Like Robert Rosenthal and others, I sensed some discrepancy between ACIM and ACOL. According to ACOL, “A Course in Miracles opened a door by threatening the ego.” (C:P.5) That’s quite a statement to make, and I did not understand it when I started with ACOL. At a deeper level, however, it “felt” absolutely right, and I continued. Today I think I am beginning to understand.
And so we’re right back at the question of “truth”. What makes ACIM “true” is ultimately our own decision based on a deep intuitive ego-less understanding. (There’s a bit of a catch-22 situation around the concept “ego” here, but let’s leave that for now.) What makes ACOL “true” – or not – is exactly the same intuitive understanding – or lack of it. (By which I do not mean that those who do not relate to ACOL are “wrong” – merely that it is not for them.)
When the first of the three books of ACOL was originally published, the publisher decided to remove all references to ACIM. He must have had his own reasons for doing so, and one of them may have been that the copyright lawsuit about ACIM was still pending. When Mari Perron later decided to publish all three books, she intuitively felt it necessary to reintroduce those references as she had received them. When Glenn Hovemann assumed responsibility for publishing the three books as one volume, he asked Mari to go through the entire book and reverse all edits that had been made, in order to ensure that the new edition would reflect as closely as possible what Mari had originally received.
What I see happening today is a kind of repetition at a larger scale of the first publisher’s reluctance to claim ACOL’s relationship to ACIM. How dare it make such a claim?!
Yet those were the words Mari received. She trusted the process. Would omitting any of what she received not be an act of dishonesty?
To claim that ACOL is “riding on the back of ACIM” effectively challenges the very authenticity and integrity of Mari’s process of receiving. Yet on what basis should the process of receiving ACIM be more authentic than that of receiving ACOL? And what about the many other “channelings,” such as the “Christ’s Letters” (www.christsletters.com)? Who determines that ACIM is true but ACOL not?
Of the customer reviews of ACOL on Amazon, 83% gave five stars. I know of many people who had a similar experience to mine: of experiencing ACOL as a kind of oasis in the desert. All these people clearly experienced ACOL at a deep intuitive level as true.
For a long time I was confused by the idea of being a “Teacher of God,” as ACIM puts it. I could never get round to calling myself that. Many apparent teachers of God arose, and some of them have large followings. Yet I realize more and more that there are thousands, if not millions of people who did not gain such clarity from ACIM as these obvious teachers. And even among several of these teachers there have been serious and most un-ACIM-like disagreements and conflicts.
In his review on Amazon, “Dr Bob” states that, “for students of the Course [ACIM], it [ACOL]offers more confusion than clarity.” The majority of very positive reviews on Amazon clearly seem to repudiate this claim. On the level of the mind, yes, I too experienced some contradictions. At the level of the “heart,” however, the level at which ACOL is aimed, it makes perfect sense. The problem is that it becomes very difficult, once you enter the level of the “heart,” to explain how it makes sense. You just know. The human (egoic) mind alone simply cannot understand ACOL!
I have experienced a major transformation within myself as a result of ACOL, and for the first time I am getting clarity on my “calling.” For the first time my spiritual understanding is truly part of my daily life, to be lived in all spheres of life. With ACIM it seemed as if the only option was to become a teacher of ACIM. Whereas after thousands and thousands of repetitions of “I am not a body, I am free” I still experienced myself as a body, and ACIM itself states that denial of the body is a “particularly unworthy form of denial” (T.2.IV.3:11), ACOL’s much more gentle approach has ironically had the effect of the words “I am not a body, I am free” becoming more real to me! This time it is not a threat to my ego anymore, but a deep realization that goes way beyond the conscious mind.
The ACIM/ACOL controversy is at the level of the (human) mind, which is effectively ego. It can never be resolved at that level. It can only be resolved at the level of God, which is our True Identity, and therefore within ourselves. Some of us feel deeply drawn to ACOL. For us it is the truth, or rather our path. Others feel that they cannot relate to ACOL at all. That is their path. Ultimately, there is only One Truth. Let us not decide what should be true for others, but unwaveringly seek only the Truth that is within us.
As a child growing up in South Africa, Douwe sought refuge from loneliness in nature. To study biology seemed to him the natural thing to do, but after a master’s degree in zoology and a few years as scientist he resigned as oceanographic research coordinator to pursue his interest in the human psyche and its Source. In a remarkably varied career since then, he has acted as counselor, group process facilitator, mediator, overland and wilderness trail guide, high school teacher, permaculturist, writer, “playmate” at a preschool, and CEO of the Field (Nature) Guides Association of Southern Africa—all external forms of an internal quest for peace and Truth. Predominantly through A Course in Miracles, Eckhart Tolle’s writings, and A Course of Love. Douwe says, “I have now come to accept A Course of Love’s instruction that ‘the idea that you do not have to earn your way nor pay your way must be birthed and lived by.’ I cannot claim that it came without frequent deep and intense fear, but the result is ever increasing joy as I, as an ordinary person, move towards ‘living an extraordinary, and miraculous, and observable life’.”
I Used to Think
By Jacques Tetrault
I used to think
To find the link
Never say nay
Is my new way
All means of fight
All serves love
This is where I am
Freed from mind exams
No need for drums
I share this here
That you will hear
Beyond the words
Is truly heard
I let what Is
As mine and His
Your will be done
For we are One
All is now precious
Nothing to add
I’m truly glad.
Jacques Tetrault is a frequent contributor to the ACOL Dialogue Facebook Group. He has been instrumental in facilitating a translation of ACOL into French. He lives in Quebec in the summer and in Spain in the winter.