by Celia Hales. Posted here with new title. Reprinted from Miracles Magazine (publisher Jon Mundy). Book is available on the Internet and bookstores nationwide.
Title: Living A Course in Miracles
Subtitle: An Essential Guide to the Classic Text
Author: Jon Mundy
Publisher: Sterling Publishing
Jon Mundy begins his monumental task of writing Living A Course in Miracles by saying, “A Course in Miracles is the wisest, sanest, deepest book I know (p. 3).” This first sentence in Jon’s book is one with which virtually any long-time student/teacher of ACIM would agree. Jon concludes this first chapter (referring to studying ACIM intensively): “We are going for nothing less than enlightenment (p. 11).”
In Living A Course in Miracles, Jon Mundy, an esteemed ACIM writer and lecturer, does his most profound writing to date. Living is an essential read for any serious student/teacher of A Course in Miracles.
Organization of the Book
Living A Course in Miracles is a 259-page work in three parts: (1) basic terms and concepts (a necessary prelude to what will follow); (2) the metaphysics of miracles (for those who want theory); and, finally, the most lengthy part, (3) living A Course in Miracles, the practical application. Jon waits until the third chapter of the first part to truly introduce A Course in Miracles–an unusual feature, but one that works. The second part tackles some of the difficult metaphysics set forth in the Text, and, characteristically, Jon makes these difficult concepts much easier to understand. The third part echoes ACIM‘s emphasis upon the practical, for we are told within the pages of ACIM that it is with the practical that we are most concerned.
Jon has his own narrative, which forms the backdrop for numerous quotations from A Course in Miracles and other readings. Some of the very best passages from the Course are chosen. Most are from the Text, with some from the Workbook for Students, and a few from the Manual for Teachers.
Jon’s commentary is voluminous, but in easy-to-understand prose with a logical progression. His quotations, which are necessary to keep our minds on ACIM, flow seamlessly throughout the narrative. Nothing jars. And neither does it simply seem a flow of quotations from ACIM and other sources. The narrative has its own logic, well-planned and executed. Jon is emphasizing, without saying so, that the Course is the latest manifestation of the perennial philosophy that Aldous Huxley wrote about so eloquently. Jon too has eloquent writing, eloquent writing that is obviously heartfelt. Living is a pleasure to read and an inspiration as well.
In addition to ACIM, Jon quotes many spiritual writers and other renowned figures in history, whether they were known as religious figures or not. Jon is an expert in the history of mystical literature, and this expertise shows itself conclusively in Living. In addition, Jon tells with his own lighthearted manner a number of personal anecdotes that illustrate his emphasized points from ACIM. The tone of the book throughout is scholarly but not overly serious. It has its own vibrancy, because we see some of Jon’s personality shine through, a fact that was probably unintended. Jon keeps the light touch, a necessary prerequisite to having a readable book.
As mentioned earlier, this work is an essential read for students/teachers of A Course in Miracles–whether one is new to the three volumes or is a long-time reader. The interpretations are all true to the spirit of ACIM. I have studied ACIM intensively for 30 years, and I found little in Jon’s interpretations with which to disagree. Jon does not bring his own agenda to his writing. He stays close to his chosen quotations, and so the reader may be reassured that he/she will not be misled by what Jon has written.
If I had to choose, I would say that Living is best intended for the new student, though there are interpretations of passages from ACIM that even the long-time student/teacher may have found difficult. In his own inimical way, Jon makes the difficult understandable. The quotations (set off in italics) are a gift in themselves; being among the finest material in ACIM, a reader would do well, once the Jon’s work has been read and his interpretations taken to heart, to turn through the pages just reviewing the selected passages from A Course in Miracles.
What Living A Course in Miracles Says
At its most basic, Living is a summation of ACIM. But to say that is to miss a lot. There is so much more weaved into the narrative by Jon. He even includes an interesting take on difficult terms in ACIM in which he makes the terms come alive. And he includes his own “lists” of interpretations, for those who want an overview without going back to ACIM itself. Living is a fascinating read, never dull, always holding one’s attention and moving one forward to the next page and the next.
To give a flavor of what Living is like, I am going to quote from Jon on three puzzling concepts in the Course, all discussed in the first part of Living. Jon’s history with the Course makes sure that he is the right person to make these assertions, and they illustrate what we find throughout the work.
Jon has picturesque writing, as exemplified in this quotation. Here he characterizes the tiny, mad idea which started our illusions and our apparent separation from God (though not real, we perceive this separation as real):
“Like a mirror which is dropped and shatters, a kind of fractal splintering off of consciousness occurs, breaking repeatedly into trillions upon trillions of individual pieces of non-reality (pp. 48-49).”
What an inspired way to say this!
A common misconception about the Course is the following, which Jon explains brilliantly:
“Attack cannot occur without judgment; and ‘anger is never justified’ (T-30.VI.1:1). The word is never, not sometimes. The ego would love it if the Course said that anger was sometimes justified. Then we could have debates about the times it was and the time it is not justified. This does not mean we should never get angry; it just mean I have slipped into fear, something has gone wrong with my thinking, and I need another way to look at things (p. 53).”
Jon also succinctly explains a frequent problem of why we are innocent and never have “sinned”:
“If it really was possible to be separated from God, then sin would be real. It is precisely because sin is an illusion that it is not real. It is actually impossible to be separated from God. We just think that we can be and that gives birth to the ‘dream of sin’ (W-193-5:4). Sin is not to be confused with error. Error or mistaken perception calls for correction (p. 64).”
These are just three of the examples of outstanding interpretation by Jon. The book is filled with such gems. I chose these three because they occur early in Jon’s work (and will welt your appetite for more), and they are not easily found in explanation within the pages of the Course. Jon has aptly synthesized the Course after years of continual study and teaching.
We would need someone, like Jon Mundy, Ph.D., who has been “in” on the Course from the beginning, to write such a cogent analysis. He was introduced to the Course shortly after its scribing, and the scribe Helen Schucman was a kind of “mother figure” for Jon. He has, through the years, been close to the well-known scholar Kenneth Wapnick, who is an early principal with continuous lifetime contributions to ACIM. Jon has also welcomed others students/teachers of ACIM over the years. He is the publisher of Miracles, a magazine that is known for its inclusiveness.
Jon has not had an easy life, and this struggle has honed him and made him ready as one who has derived great benefit from ACIM in the course of the struggle. He has had a number of near-death experiences. He has “crashed and burned” (his phrase) several times, including being forced from the United Methodist Church because he was preaching A Course in Miracles. Jon has written about this experience of forced resignation repeatedly, leading one to realize that this was a pivotal point in his life.
Jon lectures on A Course in Miracles internationally, and part of his lecture is a lighthearted persona that makes humorous remarks. This lighthearted vein finds its way into this work, as we have noted, and Living is the better for it.
Living A Course in Miracles concludes with a favorite quotation of students/teachers of A Course in Miracles:
“Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God. (T-189.7: 5)”
In the final analysis, after finishing Living, we will want to do the same. But we will have been made richer by our dipping into this absolutely extraordinary work. An astounding contribution, recommended enthusiastically.