Reflections on ACIM/ACOL, by Ben Andriessen

I never expected that my visit to the London Festival of Body, Mind & Spirit, in the Spring of 1983, would have such life-changing consequences.

I had spent most of my festival-budget on just one book, or rather a set of books. A young American had recommended “A Course in Miracles,” saying that it is channeled material about forgiveness. He did not further elaborate.

Now, I was interested in forgiveness, and I was familiar with “channeling.” Indeed in our Healing Centre, “Harmony House,” we had hosted various workshops on the subject. I imagined that if someone had gone to the trouble of publishing a tome like ACIM, it had to be worthy of taking note! Besides, it was then in 1983 already in its 11th printing, having been first published in 1976.

Still, I was rather shocked to realize that the “I” of the Text was, or pointed to, Jesus! WHAT!!? And, soon thereafter, that he was speaking to me, with that undeniable authority that is so typical of the Course.

Three years later Miryam and I organized a stand at the same London Festival, promoting the Course, as well as the books of Dr. Ken Wapnick and our own publication of a set of ACIM sayings on small 10 x 6 cm. cards, entitled Lilies of Forgiveness. Bill Thedford and Judy Skutch-Whitson were in London at that time. We attended a workshop by them based on Workbook Lesson 121: For-giveness is the key to happiness, which contains a profound exercise on forgiveness and special relationships. Bill graced us with a visit to our Festival stand; we found him to be such an unassuming man!

We had been trained in various complementary therapies within the traditional therapist vs. patient model, what the pamphlet on psychotherapy calls “a curriculum of judgment“. ACIM, and particularly the pamphlets, turns this model completely upside down: The patient becomes the therapist! As the pamphlet, The Song of Prayer, states: “You first forgive, then pray, and you are healed.” Wow!

I also discovered that I had a hidden agenda in trying one of the ego’s favorite tricks: covering up the “bad” guy with “good” deeds.

It soon became clear to me that we should focus on the delivery of the message of forgiveness rather than engaging in one-to-one work in therapy. So we decided to sell our eight-bedroom center and acquired a motor home. We called it “ The Miracle Mobile.”

We travelled around Europe, and, by introducing the Course to whoever invited us, learned to apply forgiveness to ourselves.

Our first workshop was in Norway. Then, over the next three years until 1989, we held many similar events in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland (my country of birth) and Spain. We carried as many ACIM books as we had space for in our motor home and supplied bookshops and individuals all over Europe. It was a miraculous time indeed. We even did a workshop on forgiveness in East Berlin, an unforgettable experience.

Once we did a talk for a group of Swedish enthusiasts, some of whom did not speak or understand English. Miraculously they were able to participate, even though they did not speak the Course’s language. One lady said that she not only got the gist of our talk, but found herself deeply affected by a new understanding of forgiveness. This proved to us that the energetics of the words themselves were an important part of group sharing, truly Love at work.

In 1989 our missionary activities came to a rather abrupt end. For the next 23 years we experienced a period of forgiveness internalization. We were still faithfully doing our daily Workbook lessons. We encountered difficult financial circumstances, culminating in bankruptcy, which hit us harder than I would admit at the time. There were days I felt abandoned by Jesus and his Course. What did I do wrong, even though I somehow knew I could not be wrong. My self identity was at a very low point. I searched for answers elsewhere: Ho O’ponopono, Zen, etc.

Then, in June 2012, during a week’s vacation in Galloway, Scotland, I was led to visit a particular second hand bookshop that boasted having over 100.000 books for sale. It had a surprisingly small selection of spiritual books, one of which drew my attention: “A Course of Love.” . It almost jumped from its shelf into my hands. I remember thinking: A Course of Love? How dare they! The Complete Course? What is this! And as I turned the some of the pages, it dawned on me that the authority with which it was written was very similar to that of my beloved ACIM. Was this a sequel to A Course in Miracles ? How come I did not know about this since it was published in 2001!

I was amazed and reflected on how such a book could end up in a second hand bookshop! Providence, surely! Eight months earlier I had been operated upon to remove a facial carcinoma. This event had put a halt to my writing ambitions, as I was struggling to reconcile my cancer experience with what ACIM teaches about the illusionary nature of the body and the true nature of healing.

And so I earnestly begun reading A Course on Love (Book I), and later on The Treatises (Book II) and the beautiful Dialogues (Book III). I gathered that I must remember to read with my heart, rather than to try to understand with my mind. While ACIM taught me about right-mindedness (forgiveness), ACOL shows me to live in wholeheartedness (prayer), with immediate application to what is happening now and how I can serve right now.

It seems to me that the language of ACOL is even more compact than ACIM, almost discouraging the need for intellectual understanding. Many others have remarked that when re-reading a particular section, it feels one reads as if for the first time–as if re-reading “happens” on a different and deeper level.

What excited me very much was the discovery and reconnecting of relation-ship with the Self ! Workbook Lesson 95 makes this, my favorite, ACIM statement:

“I am One Self, united with my Creator, at one with every aspect of creation, and limitless in power and in peace“

Only though ACOL did I get what the Zen Master Huang Po calls a “tacit understanding“ of the relationship with the Self that I AM.

Then, in The Dialogues, there is this exquisitely profound experience on the mountaintop, for 40 days and 40 nights, where Jesus reveals the beloved Self, the Who I AM. It establishes relationship based on pure and unadulterated Love. I found answers before I could formulate the question. Now the love poetry of Rumi begins to make sense:

I look for you
In my innermost being
I used to read the myths of Love
Now I have become
The mythical lover.

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