Question 60  from
The Most Commonly Asked Questions About 
A Course in Miracles

By Gloria and Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.


60) Is it necessary to do the workbook more than once?

No. The workbook for students is set up as a one-year training program, and there is no reason for a student to deviate from that. It is clear from the workbook itself, as has already been stated, that Jesus does not expect his students to complete the learning process in one year. A Course in Miracles is a lifetime's work, and the one-year program of the workbook -- which probably should be done relatively early in a student's work with the Course, although everyone's practice with it is different -- is simply to orient the student on the right path with the right teacher. Then placed in the Holy Spirit's hands, we spend the rest of our lives having Him be our Teacher of forgiveness:

And now I place you in His [the Holy Spirit's] hands, to be His faithful follower, with Him as Guide through every difficulty and all pain that you may think is real....Let Him prepare you further. He has earned your trust by speaking daily to you of your Father and your brother and your Self. He will continue. Now you walk with Him, as certain as is He of where you go; as sure as He of how you should proceed; as confident as He is of the goal, and of your safe arrival in the end (workbook, p. 477; W-ep.4:1,3-6).
Very often, students' wishes to repeat the workbook (or specific lessons in an almost compulsive need to get it right) come from the desire to do it perfectly, recognizing how imperfect their willingness and practice have been. This defeats the whole purpose of the workbook, which is to train students to hear the Holy Spirit's Voice of forgiveness, instead of the ego's guilt. Indeed, one can even make the statement that the purpose of the workbook is to do it imperfectly, so that the mistake -- labeled by the ego as a sin -- of turning away from God and not placing Him first in one's life, can be forgiven and not taken seriously. Jesus' instructions to his students in Lesson 95 underscore this important goal of forgiveness. They are given in the context of students not doing the lessons perfectly, and choosing to forget the daily lesson in the course of the day:
Do not, however, use your lapses from this schedule as an excuse not to return to it again as soon as you can. There  may well be a temptation to regard the day as lost because you have already failed to do what is required. This should, however, merely be recognized as what it is; a refusal to let your mistake be corrected, and an unwillingness to try  again.

The Holy Spirit is not delayed in His teaching by your mistakes. He can be held back only by your unwillingness to let them go. Let us therefore be determined, particularly for the next week or so, to be willing to forgive ourselves for  our lapses in diligence, and our failures to follow the instructions for practicing the day's idea.  This tolerance  for weakness will enable us to overlook it, rather than give it power to delay our learning. If we give it power to do this,  we are regarding it as strength, and are confusing strength with weakness.

When you fail to comply with the requirements of this course, you have merely made a mistake. This calls for correction, and for nothing else. To allow a mistake to continue is to make additional mistakes, based on the first and reinforcing it. It is this process that must be laid aside, for it is but another way in which you would defend illusions  against the truth (W-pl.95.7:3-9:4; italics ours).

This does not mean, certainly, that students should not do the workbook a second or third time, but, as we stated in the previous answer, they should be vigilant against their ego's need to reinforce sin and guilt, and atone for such sin by becoming "perfect." In other words, students should treat their relationship with the workbook as a classroom as well; a classroom in which they bring their misperceptions to Jesus for help and correction. In this sense, we can add a postscript to our answer to the previous question about there being a "right way" to do the workbook. There is: the "right way" is to do the workbook the "wrong way," and then to have Jesus help you to forgive yourself. In this way you are beginning -- in the context of "forgetting" about God by "forgetting" the daily lesson -- the process of accepting forgiveness for having turned away from God in the original instant of separation.

Reproduced with the kind permission of Gloria and Kenneth
Wapnick and the Foundation for A Course in Miracles

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