Question 61 from
The Most Commonly Asked Questions About 
A Course in Miracles

By Gloria and Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.


61) Why do the text and workbook have different focuses, and at times seem to be saying different things?

Jesus refers to A Course in Miracles as a "multi-faceted curriculum," and so it requires that his teaching be presented in different forms. The text, which was dictated to Helen first, contains the theology, metaphysical foundation, and teachings on accepting forgiveness for our special relationships, on which the curriculum rests. For example, only in the text -- highlighted for the most part from Chapter 15 through Chapter 24 -- does one find the exposition of the teaching on special and holy relationships. Nowhere in the workbook or manual is this very important subject specifically discussed. In the workbook, as Jesus explains in the introduction, the first part (Lessons 1-220) deals "with the undoing of the way you see now," while the second part (Lessons 221-365) deals " with the acquisition of true perception" (workbook, p.1; W-in.3:1). Nothing is mentioned about the theory of A Course in Miracles. Indeed, the specific relationship between the text and the workbook is clearly set forth in the Introduction:

A theoretical foundation such as the text provides is necessary as a framework to make the exercises in this workbook meaningful. Yet it is doing the exercises that will make the goal of the course possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of this workbook to train your mind to think along the lines the text sets forth (W-in.1).
It is because of these different purposes and focuses that at times the two books seem to be saying different things, and even at times seeming to contradict each other. Perhaps the best example of this interesting phenomenon relates to the role of the Holy Spirit. Many passages in the workbook urge students to ask Him for very specific help, as we can see in this example from the final lessons (361-365):
This holy instant would I give to You [the Holy Spirit].
Be You in charge. For I would follow You,
Certain that Your direction gives me peace. 

And if I need a word to help me, He will give it to me. If I need a thought, that will He also give. And if I need but stillness and a tranquil, open mind, these are the gifts I will receive of Him. He is in charge by my request. And He will bear and answer me, because He speaks for God my Father and His holy Son (W-p.II.361-365).

And yet we are taught in the text that it is not the role of the Holy Spirit to guide us in the world of effects -- the material world of specifics -- but rather to help us change our minds about the cause of our problems: our belief in the reality of sin and guilt. For example:
In gentle laughter does the Holy Spirit perceive the cause [the mind's belief in sin], and looks not to effects [the problems experienced in the physical world].  How else could He correct your error, who have overlooked the cause entirely?  He bids you bring each terrible effect to Him that you may look together on its foolish cause and laugh with Him a while.  You judge effects, but He has judged their cause. And by His judgment are effects removed (T-27.VIII.9:1-5).
Nevertheless, if students do not understand the afore-mentioned two levels that A Course in Miracles is written on, and which, by the way, it never specifically identifies as such, then one is apt to conclude that these statements are contradictory. To restate these levels briefly:
Level One: the Course's metaphysical foundation, which emphasizes the difference between God and Heaven, the only reality, and the collective illusory world of the ego.

Level Two: the Course's practical level, which deals only with the illusory dream. Here, the contrast is between the wrong mind which is the ego's thought system of sin, guilt, and fear, and the Holy Spirit's correction of forgiveness within the right mind.

Regarding the subject of God, we find the same apparent contradiction. In workbook Lesson 71 we are told to ask God Himself for specific help:
What would You have me do?
Where would You have me go?
What would You have me say, and to whom?
Moreover, all of Part If of the workbook consists of prayers from the student to God the Father. This is so, despite the following very clear statement -- interestingly enough, also from the workbook -- that God does not hear our prayers:
Think not He hears the little prayers of those who call on Him with names of idols cherished by the world. They cannot reach Him thus (W-pI.183.7:3-4).
And in the manual for teachers we read these lines about the true nature of our words:
God does not understand words, for they were made by separated minds to keep them in the illusion of separation. Words can be helpful, particularly for the beginner, in helping concentration and facilitating the exclusion, or at least the control, of extraneous thoughts. Let us not forget, however, that words are but symbols of symbols. They are thus twice removed from reality (M-21.1:7-10).
Clearly, the first passage has us asking God the Father a series of specific questions to which we would fully expect to receive answers. Part of the reason it is framed this way is that inherent within the separation thought is the statement that I am self-created, and therefore am my own source. So by asking God for help at what we have referred to as Level Two, the level of the illusory dream, I am acknowledging that I am not an autonomous self-created being, but rather someone who needs help in undoing this false self that I made up. It is in this way that the thought that I am on my own has been undone, and I realize that the answers to all my questions have already been given, and that they are one.  As A Course in Miracles emphasizes, the Holy Spirit's correction to my ego's dream of separation has already occurred, because time is already over, as we have noted in a previous chapter (question 16 ).  But since I walk around believing and experiencing otherwise, the correction will reach me in a form to which I can relate.

In conclusion, from these two examples alone it should be clear that Jesus indeed knew what he was doing when he dictated these three books of A Course in Miracles, and it is we who lack the understanding of how he integrates his curriculum and accomplishes the goal of changing our thought system.

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

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