The Most Commonly Asked Questions About
A Course in Miracles
Chapter 5: THE CURRICULUM
This is an extremely important question, because the incorrect understanding of the answer inevitably leads to serious distortion of what A Course in Miracles actually teaches and how it is meant to be practiced. We live in an age where many followers of spiritual paths -- usually grouped together in what is termed the "new age" -- emphasize unity instead of diversity. While this is an admirable spiritual goal, certainly, it does serve to deny the "fact" of our separated world; namely, that we are all different, and that different spiritual paths are thus required. Once this is accepted, then it is clear that different paths will be different. This is clearly obvious on one level, but is frequently obscured by the need to blur differences for the sake of a spurious unity. This does every spiritual path a disservice, and Jesus always made it clear to Helen personally, as well as in A Course in Miracles itself, how different his Course was from other paths. This does not necessarily mean it is better, but it does mean that it is unique.
Near the beginning of the manual for teachers, Jesus says of A Course in Miracles:
This is a manual for a special curriculum, intended for teachers of a special form of the universal course. There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome (M-1.4:1-2).And we have already examined Jesus' special message to Helen -- "I Need Do Nothing" -- where Jesus contrasts his Course with other spiritualities that emphasize meditation and contemplation.
Therefore, on the one hand, the Course's relationship to other spiritual paths is that it shares the same goal of returning home to God. It is different, however, because its theology and practice are different. Jesus summarizes this relationship in his pithy comment:
A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary (C-in.2:5).As we have already seen, A Course in Miracles is a non-dualistic spirituality, while almost all others are dualistic. Confusing the Course with other spiritual thought systems, saying "the Course is just like ... (fill in your favorite spirituality)" is simply in the end a subtle ego ploy for changing A Course in Miracles so that its teachings will be less threatening. We, of course, have seen in our Western history a notable example of this ego device when the Christian world made Jesus and his teachings into an extension of Judaism and the Old Testament, rather than accepting him and his message as the radical gift it was, independent of all that preceded it. Students of A Course in Miracles should profit from this mistake of the past, and grow into the Course, rather than attempting to scale it down to their own level of understanding.
Another form of this mistake is the common practice of including A Course in Miracles with what Aldous Huxley termed "the perennial philosophy," a catch-all phrase used to embrace the major mystical traditions of the world. Again, this does the Course a profound disservice, because it blurs what is its distinctive contribution to the world's spiritualities: the idea that not only was the physical universe an illusion that God did not create, but that it was also "made as an attack" on Him (W-pII.3.2:1). This profound and sophisticated psychological principle, integrated with a pure non-dualistic metaphysics is what renders A Course in Miracles unique among the spiritual and religious thought systems of the world.
Comparing A Course in Miracles specifically with the Bible, we can see four major areas of differences, making these two spiritual paths totally incompatible. We quote from the introduction to A Course in Miracles and Christianity: A Dialogue by Kenneth and the Jesuit philosopher Father Norris Clarke, which explores these differences in greater depth:
1) A Course in Miracles teaches that God did not create the physical universe, which includes all matter, form, and the body; the Bible states that He did.While our answer has focused on the Bible, the same basic message can be given regarding any other spiritual path. While there certainly can be nothing wrong with reading other spiritualities or being interested in learning more about them, nor in attending religious services, spiritual meetings, etc., a student of A Course in Miracles should at least be cautious -- to make the point again -- about attempting to blend together theologies or spiritual approaches that ultimately do not mix. Some spiritualities lend themselves to such "blending together"; A Course in Miracles does not.
INTERESTED READERS WILL FIND EXCERPTS
FROM A COURSE IN MIRACLES
AND CHRISTIANITY: A DIALOGUE
Reproduced with the kind permission of Gloria and Kenneth
Wapnick and the Foundation for A Course in Miracles
Miracle Studies Navigation Table
|Index of Resources||Discussion Group||FAQ about ACIM||50 Miracle Principles|
|Biographical: Helen, Bill, Ken||Unauthorized Manuscripts||The Story of A Course in Miracles||The Psychology of ACIM|
|The Course's Use of Language||What is Forgiveness?||Copyright Related Info||Question/Answer Service|