Tag Archives: Bill Thetford

Attempts to Supplant God’s Will May Indeed Seem Frightening, but They Are Merely Pathetic.

1 – Avoidance of Magic = Avoidance of Temptation

“The avoidance of magic is the avoidance of temptation. For all temptation is nothing more than the attempt to substitute another will for God’s. (M42)”

2 – God’s Will = Our Real Will

Elsewhere in the Course we learn that God’s will is actually the same as ours. It is the same as ours if we only knew ourselves better. Studying the Course will open up ways to know ourselves better. And much study will convince us that we are not like Job of the Old Testament, unwilling recipients of guidance, but instead willing recipients of guidance because we know that what we “hear” is legitimate and will bring us closer Home.

3 – Ego

“Magic” thoughts are those inspired by the ego (an interpretation of the Course, but not stated directly therein). Often magic ideas are superstitious ideas that have become a part of us through long years of following the ego.

4 – God’s Way

If we set our will each morning to following God’s way, we will be well on our way to avoiding temptation. We will know that what God wants for us is what we too desire. Anything less is magic.

5 – Pathetic

“These attempts may indeed seem frightening, but they are merely pathetic. (M42)”

6 – Heaven Restored

“Rooted in sacrifice and separation, two aspects of one error and no more, he merely chooses to give up all that he never had. And for this ‘sacrifice’ is Heaven restored to his awareness. (M42)”

7 – Irrationality

Magic, as defined by Jesus, is irrationality (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM). And the magic, the irrationality, is rooted in the belief in sacrifice and in the separation from God. Sacrifice and the separation are both the “detour into fear” (from ACIM) which happened when the ego arose in our thought processes. But we don’t really have anything worth having when we have the ego.

8 – Heaven

When we give up the error that is the ego, Heaven is restored to our awareness. Can we believe this? Can we willingly give up egoic and egoistical strivings? If we can assess carefully, we will acknowledge that the puffed-up ego does not mean much in the final analysis. When we are on our death bed, we won’t put much store in anything that the ego had us striving to do; we will know that it was all vanity. Why not reach that conclusion while most of us have many years left of life? Why not enjoy Heaven on earth, the promise that is here held out to us by Jesus himself?

9 – Helen and Bill

The truth of these statements is found in the living out of them—nothing more. Reflect on where you have been and where you hope to go. See if ego is still managing your pathway. And just wonder, just wonder, if there might not (and Helen and Bill found, co-scribes of ACIM) be another way?

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I am still not flexible enough to turn aside from my own self’s wishes to follow the guidance that I am perceiving from the Holy Spirit–at least not always. Please help me toward this willingness. I know that it is the very best thing for me.

Please be with me throughout this day, as I perceive, through my intuition, the will of the Holy Spirit. This may be my greatest need. Please help me to perfect following guidance as I go about my normal life.

Amen.

Song of Prayer: Prayer Is the Greatest Gift with Which God Blessed His Son

A beautiful passage follows from A Song of Prayer:

“Faith in your goal will grow and hold you up as you ascend the shining stairway to the laws of Heaven and the gate of peace. (S-1.in.2)”

1 – Laws of Heaven

Note that we are to abide by the “laws” of Heaven. That means that the laws of this world are superseded. We do not have to follow the ego’s ways any longer; we are free, because our will has been set free. And we are at peace. We have inner peace. This blessing is one that we should not push away from ourselves, but welcome. The first obstacle that peace must flow across is our desire to get rid of it (from the Text of A Course in Miracles).

2 – Another Way

We are so restless in this world, in these days. We need to know that there is another way, the other way that Bill and Helen (co-scribes of ACIM) were led to discover. Bill reached that peace, though Helen never did—despite the truth that she understood A Course in Miracles very, very well. We need to give up our own restlessness.

3 – Restlessness

Giving up our restlessness is easy when we understand what blessings await us, even while still in this world. We need to get quiet within, to become perfectly calm and quiet. And often, to do so, we need to commune with God, to pray. He will not let us down.

4 – Our Need

“To you who are in time a little while, prayer takes the form that best will suit your need. S-1.in.2)”

We are the ones who are in time now. And we can even “use” prayer, in a practical sense, to get us where we want and need to go along God’s pathway home. It is not against grace to see the practicality of prayer. It is an exceedingly fruitful way to sense God’s presence in everyday life. And to see His blessings come raining down upon us.

5 – Don’t (Always) Ask

“The secret of true prayer is to forget the things you think you need. To ask for the specific is much the same as to look on sin and then forgive it. Also in the same way, in prayer you overlook your specific needs as you see them, and let them go into God’s hands. (S-1.I.4)”

This is a step beyond “asking.” We know that our needs will be met; it is only our wants that are at issue. And our wants are frequently things that do not serve us.

6 – Are You Ready?

Not everybody is ready for this next stage of prayer. I frequently am not, and I do not feel that this is a shortcoming. When my faith is strong (and strong faith vacillates among all of us), then I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that my practical needs will be satisfied without my asking. But when I am in anxiety, I am not so sure. This is when I have feet of clay. And I am convinced that God hears my prayers for the tiny things that I think I need. He answers me in tangibles, when they are called for—and in intangibles, when his comfort is all that I really need.

7 – Not Supplication

“Prayer is a stepping aside; a letting go, a quiet time of listening and loving. It should not be confused with supplication of any kind, because it is a way of remembering your holiness. (S-1.I.5)”

This is the highest form of prayer: to reach toward God, as in The Cloud of Unknowing (a medieval, anonymous treatise) with a dart of longing. We do not supplicate when in this frame of mind, for all that we want is God. He alone satisfies our every need.

8 – At Peace

And we are at peace. But we cannot always reach this height. Sometimes we do not reach this height at all:

9 – Can You Reach This Level of Prayer?

“This is not a level of prayer that everyone can attain as yet. (s-1.I.6)”

Do not be chagrined if you find that you still needs prayers of supplication. God hears all types of prayers. I think that his major wish is that we feel Him near, that we commune with Him, that we are friends. After all, ACIM says that God is lonely when His children do not communicate with Him. He recognizes that channels are closed, and He thinks that His children sleep and need to be awakened. (These are paraphrases from the Text of A Course in Miracles.)

10 – Sleep

May we seek today to rouse ourselves from sleep. In the highest sense, the words that I paraphrased were meant to be a precursor to Awakening, a step that God takes for us. But in another sense, we can rouse ourselves from the deepest sleep to feel the quiver of our eyelashes as we come into consciousness. We do this every morning, and then we see another dream, for this world is a dream, an illusion, maya.

11 – Prayer of Thanksgiving

We need to realize that God is with us, however we pray. We can recognize that our needs are already met, and then we will move easily to the prayer of thanksgiving. This is a higher form of prayer than supplication. It is the prayer of gratitude, which puts us on God’s wavelength immediately. When we are thankful, God moves to answer more and more of our needs and even some of our wants. Always He is a loving God who would not leave His children to drift apart in a world without escape.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Be with me today. I seek to express my gratitude to You for the manifold blessings that You have bestowed on me, even when I did not take time for gratitude. Now I do take that time. From the bottom of my heart, thank You for my good life. And may I do what I can to lead my brothers and sisters to a good life. We are all in this together. And we will sink together or we will swim together in the waters of the unconscious, You.

May this day go well. May I be tolerant of everyone with whom I come in contact. May I be forgiving, always forgiving of those who have distress that rests on error. Help me to have the healing of my anxious emotions that I need, and this is a need. I can serve better when I am calm and relaxed. Help me to be easy and relaxed today.

Thank You for being there for me. Thank You for staying close to me so that I can feel You.

Amen.

A Course in Miracles – How It Came

A Course in Miraclea began with the sudden decision of two people to join in a common goal. Their names were Helen Schucman and William Thetford, Professors of Medical Psychology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.

1 – Sudden Decision with Far-Ranging Consequences

This sudden decision was to have far-ranging implications for the world of spirituality. The two individuals chosen were not eager for the assignment. They had much investment in their academic careers, and they were afraid that their work on what would become A Course in Miracles would jeopardize those careers. In addition, Helen’s husband objected, so much so that when she died a number of years later, absolutely nothing was said in her eulogy about her scribing of ACIM. There is controversy about such omissions in the ACIM community.

2 – Helen’s Personal Description of Herself

Helen describes herself:

“Psychologist, educator, conservative in theory and atheistic in belief, I was working in a prestigious and highly academic setting. And then something happened that triggered a chain of events I could never have predicted. The head of my department unexpectedly announced that he was tired of the angry and aggressive feelings our attitudes reflected, and concluded that ‘there must be another way.’ As if on cue, I agreed to help him find it. Apparently this Course is the other way.”

What Helen describes here is typical for academia, not all setting, but many. I have seen first hand such acrimony. But I have also worked in a setting that was very congenial. Be that as it may, the setting for Helen and Bill was very dysfunctional. Bill, as department chair, was in the thick of political battles. He would eventually seem to become an Awakened individual who gave up his academic career and talked about ACIM publically, though he tried to maintain some secrecy in the beginning, using only his first name and not telling Helen’s name.

3 – An Unlikely Choice?

Helen, as an atheist, would seem an unlikely choice by Jesus. But she recognized that somewhere she had signed on for this assignment. And, despite a few faltering steps, she remained true to the assignment. On some level she understood ACIM very, very well and could expound on it easily. But A Course in Miracles never gave her the peace that it gave so many others. She remained a tortured soul. Unlike Bill, who came into his own in his final years.

4 – This Is A Course in Miracles

Helen continues:

“Although I had grown more accustomed to the unexpected by that time, I was still very surprised when I wrote, This is a course in miracles.’ That was my introduction to the Voice. It made no sound, but seemed to be giving me a kind of rapid, inner dictation which I took down in a shorthand notebook.”

5 – Phone Call Interruptions

Helen said elsewhere that she could answer a phone call in mid-sentence and yet return to have the internal Voice pick up right where he left off. She used a homemade shorthand, and it is from that that Bill typed the message of the day, each morning, with the shade pulled down over his office door window.

“The writing was never automatic. It could be interrupted at any time and later picked up again. It made me very uncomfortable, but it never seriously occurred to me to stop. It seemed to be a special assignment I had somehow, somewhere agreed to complete It represented a truly collaborative venture between Bill and myself, and much of its significant, I am sure, lies in that. I would take down what the Voice ‘said’ and read it to him the next day, and he typed it from my dictation.”

6 – Helen’s Death

Helen was at peace at the time of death. She said that Jesus had promised her that he would come for her. And the expression of peace on her face said it all: Jesus had come.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for A Course in Miracles. I find the background to its scribing fascinating, but remain sorry that Helen did not enjoy the peace from her channeling that so many others who followed, have.

Thank You for this good day. May each of us find a contribution to You that will be personally meaningful.

Amen.

Is It Not Clear that While You Still Insist on Leading or on Following, You Think You Walk Alone, with No One by Your Side?

1 – Afraid to Walk Beside

“He [your brother] is afraid to walk with you, and thinks perhaps a bit behind, a bit ahead would be a safer place for him to be. Can you make progress if you think the same, advancing only when he would step back, and falling back when he would go ahead? For so do you forget the journey’s goal, which is but to decide to walk with him, so neither leads nor follows. Thus it is a way you go together, not alone. And in this choice is learning outcome changed, for Christ has been reborn to both of you. (T-31.II.9)”

This passage capsules the essence of how A Course in Miracles is saving us time: We are focusing on our relationship to our brother (or sister). We are forgiving that significant other, because his distress is based on error, and calls for help—not retribution or retaliation. We live in an illusion, a dream, maya, and so nothing bad has actually ever happened to us. Forgiveness has a sound basis. We seek to forget the trespasses that our brother has made against us (or so we thought he has made against us). And this is an echo of the Lord’s Prayer from the New Testament: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” So here we see, in essence, how much ACIM builds on previous Scripture.

2 – Cooperation

We often think that we want our brother to be the leader. But then, just as often, we think that we want to lead. Here Jesus is saying that neither is the way to get home. We walk together, with neither leading or following. We cooperate. We have a meeting of true minds (from Shakespeare’s Sonnet #116).

3 – Don’t Walk Alone

“Is it not clear that while you still insist on leading or on following, you think you walk alone, with no one by your side? This is the road to nowhere, for the light cannot be given while you walk alone, and so you cannot see which way you go. (T-31.II.11)”

Our light is given when we are with our significant others. It is not stated in ACIM, but we do not have to have a single significant other to follow ACIM’s way. Many of us walk through life as a single person. But we do know, if this logic is carried out, that we function best when we are not in competition with each other, but instead cooperate, making decisions jointly with others.

4 – Confusion

“And thus there is confusion, and a sense of endless doubting as you stagger back and forward in the darkness and alone. (T-31.II.11)”

This is our fate is we don’t walk with others: to stagger back and forward in the darkness and alone. Who would want that? There is another way, as Helen and Bill found out. They were the co-scribes of A Course in Miracles, with Helen taking dictation from Jesus, and each morning, at work, going to Bill to have him type up the notes. Their rancorous academic environment smoothed out, at least somewhat, though they themselves never reached a smooth relationship in its totality.

5 – Blindfolded?

“Yet these are but appearances of what the journey is, and how it must be made. For next to you is One Who holds the light before you, so that every step is made in certainty and sureness of the road. A blindfold can indeed obscure your sight, but cannot make the way itself grow dark. And He Who travels with you has the light. (T-31.II.11)”

This is the Holy Spirit, the guidance of Universal Inspiration. This is the part of the Trinity Who speaks to us of the way to walk. Many have had the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but many do not yet know all that this blessing holds out. Learn today. There are a variety of ways that guidance speaks to us. (Please read “The Gift of Guidance” in this blog. See “Articles and Book Reviews,” an icon at the top of the blog.)

6 – Personal Experience

Lately I have observed that, more and more, words come into my mind which are instructive and just a bit beyond me. They seem inspired, though I do not want my ego to have a field day with this interpretation. I have also learned that I can write a dialogue with my Inner Wisdom (as a friend calls the Holy Spirit, or the inner Christ Self), and come to better insight than my mind, working alone, can discover. The ways of receiving God’s guidance are manifold. Experiment today. Just be careful that the guidance that you think you get is not harmful to anybody at all, lest of all yourself. That would be the ego’s confiscation of mind, and the end of true guidance.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to walk with my significant others today. Help me to stay serene and relaxed so that I am flexible in my interactions. Help me not to be overbearing and rigid. This day can and will be good to the extent that I do not plan ahead. You have told me that. Thank You.

Be with my brothers and sisters also. We are all in this together, and we will get out of it together or not at all.

Amen.

Tolerance for Pain May Be High, but It Is Not without Limit

caillebotte - paris street“An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable. Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. (T21-22)”

Affirmation: “Tolerance for pain is not without limit.”

Reflections:

1 – Imprisoned Will

This “imprisoned will” is a philosophical tenet of A Course in Miracles. When we are in the throes of the ego, we have an imprisoned will. Only when we are in our right minds, loving and renouncing fear, are we on the right track, are we working with a will that has been freed.

2 – Ego’s Interpretation

This theological construct can seem malicious in the ego’s eyes. It may sound as though God is tricking us into salvation, that we have to do it His way or the highway. After all, an imprisoned will becomes intolerable, according to the passage for today. It is just the way that the universe works. It was set up for loving individuals, and we introduced a “tiny, mad idea” that changed everything.

3 – Is God “Tricking” Us?

Is it appropriate to think that God is “tricking” us into Heaven? Not in the least. We are dealing with cause and effect here, an immutable law of the universe. When we let the ego rule, we invite fear and fear gives us the imprisonment of the will (an interpretation, not stated in A Course in Miracles). The only way that the ego can work is through our fear. We think that we will not be protected in this uncertain and troubled world unless we remain independent of God, for we fear God most of all when in the egoic frame of mind. This means that we are not open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and not being open to His judgment is surely evidence of an imprisoned will. Pain soon follows.

4 – The Separation

When the separation seemed to arise, we were caught in a situation that seemed to make God’s will and our will at odds with one another. Actually the two are inseparable, and only our dim understanding makes this aspect of faith difficult. When we think that God’s will is something that we wouldn’t want, we do in fact invite fear, for His will is actually what, in our heart of hearts, we DO want!

5 – Holy Spirit

When we reject the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are caught in the bonds of an imprisoned will, which engenders pain–sometimes extreme pain. Although ACIM affirms the releasing truth that we do not have to learn through pain, the truth is that many of us do learn through pain. We can suffer in this pain greatly, but our tolerance for pain, as this passage says, is “not without limit.” Sooner or later we will come to see that there must be another way, a better way, to live, and this is when we turn to God and His Voice, the Holy Spirit.

6 – Helen and Bill

Helen Schucman and William Thetford, the two individuals responsible for bringing us A Course in Miracles, agreed together to seek another way. At the time they and their department at Columbia University were embroiled in competition and attack, and camaraderie was largely missing. Helen and Bill embarked on a seven-year project, with Helen channeling from Jesus, and Bill, typing what had come through the day before. Tolerance for pain in these two had become intolerable.

7 – Tolerance for Pain

May this tolerance soon become intolerable for us as well, and then we will be ready to listen, perhaps for the first time, to innermost guidance.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I choose to eliminate pain from my experience. I know that pain is not Your will, and may it not be mine either.

If I have learned through pain, may this learning come to an end. Your will for me is total happiness.

Amen.

Living a Life of Love

1217335673_paul-cezanne-wallpaper-the-sea-at“You are ready now, and all that will prevent you from living a life of love is unwillingness to do so.  There is only one remaining source of such unwillingness.  Your willingness will now depend on whether or not you trust.  Do you trust these words?  Do you trust in God?  Can you trust in your Self?  (A Course of Love, 27.21)

Affirmation:  “I am willing to live a life of love today.”

Reflections:

1 – Trust

Trust is the bedrock of the Teacher of God’s life (from the Manual of A Course in Miracles).  Nothing else good, on a permanent basis, can really come to us until we trust, in God and in our Self.

2 – Better Living

We are reassured that we are ready now for that better living.  This is akin to Helen (co-scribe of ACIM) and her remark to Bill (co-scribe) that she would help him find another way.  And in A Course of Love, the work that was begun in ACIM comes to fruition.  We see Jesus not any longer as just our teacher, but as our heartfelt companion.  This is not so different from traditional Christianity.

3 – Life of Love

We are willing to live a life of love.  Only doubt that it can be so would prevent us from so living.  And we can banish doubt from our minds by a concentrated will to do so.  If pursued by doubt, turn to your heart, which does not seek for proof.  Ask internally what your heart really knows.

4 – The Heart Will Answer

And you will be answered.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I live that life of love that is indicated herein.  May I trust enough to do so.  I feel ready, sometimes, for a continual life of love, and I thank You for those times that I feel so blessed.  Extend those times to be a continuous thread throughout my life.  May today be the beginning of the rest of a life of love.

I wish to be able to express love in a way that can be accepted.  Guard my tongue if I am saying the wrong thing, based on thinking the wrong kinds of thoughts.  Help me to be of assistance to those in my circle.  May I listen to what my heart is telling me, and with that heartfelt messages will arrive, guiding my thinking, my words, and my actions.  I fully believe this, and I thank You for the assurances that You give me constantly.  May I always be ready to accept Your assurances of love and peace and hope and tranquility.

Amen.

Pure Joy / Limitless Release

“There is one thought in particular that should be remembered throughout the day.  It is a thought of pure joy; a thought of peace, a thought of limitless release, limitless because all things are freed within it.  (M-16.6)”

Affirmation:  “pure joy. . .limitless release”

Reflections:

1 – All Things Freed

This passage is one of my favorites, for it tells us exactly what attitude to bring to this world–even in the midst of this world’s sorrows.  The very words are uplifting–pure joy, limitless release.  And we learn that all things are freed within this attitude.  All things.

2 – Personal Experience

Is this a viable option for us in our daily lives?  I sometimes wonder, but mostly  I remember taking this passage to heart years ago, and returning to these glorious words–pure joy, limitless release–over and over.

3 – Imprisoned Will

We have lived with an imprisoned will (ACIM tenets), because we have given the ego the right to lord over us.  As soon as we get our priorities in order, and we turn our lives, mind and heart, over to the Holy Spirit, His guidance takes the place of the very dubious places that the ego has led us.  And the ego has led us to unhappiness, for that is what an egoistic attitude does.  We have flights of “joy,” but we are then plunged into despair.  We think, in an egotistical way, that we have done better than our brothers and sisters, and then along comes something that lets us realize that we are pretty lowly, miserable, and a failure.  This is the way of the world.  And sometimes, until we are brought very low, we do not question the validity of any of this.

4 – Helen and Bill

When we are brought very low, whether physically or emotionally, we are in most cases led to the same place that Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford (co-scribes of A Course in Miracles) were in the early sixties.  Bill said that there must be another way, rather than to be embroiled in political fights in an academic world.  And Helen spontaneously offered to help Bill find another way.  Shortly thereafter, she began having mystical experiences that frightened her very badly.  Then she heard, “This is a course in miracles.  Please take notes.”  And she did.

5 – Vahle

The story has been told and retold, but it bears repeating, for to my mind it is a place to which we are all drawn before we begin to live differently.  We do not have to take A Course in Miracles as our Way, for there are countless ways.  But to those of us who are drawn to ACIM, it is “our” way, and we would do well to listen to its tenets.  Students/teachers of ACIM have had their lives transformed, but not everybody does have this experience.  Bill did, Helen did not.  (See Vahle’s book review in this blog; look under “Articles and Book Reviews” at the top of the blog.)

5 – Affirm

So, just for today, experiment with saying the affirmation for the day over and over.  If we are lucky, and if we are faithful to the intent of the words, we will have a very good day indeed.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I do believe that today’s title for my posting is my favorite quotation from A Course in Miracles.  Certainly I have returned to these words countless times:  “pure joy. . .limitless release.”  They promise a freer life than sometimes I lead.  Give me that freer life today, please, I ask of You.

Be with all of my brothers and sisters as I go about my little world today.  May I spread some sunshine in my rounds.  And may I know that it is You Who is guiding me.

Thank You for the guidance of Your Universal Inspiration, the Holy Spirit.

Amen

All God Would Have You Do You Can Do

“To turn hell into Heaven is the function of God’s teachers, for what they teach are lessons in which Heaven is reflected.  And now sit down in true humility, and realize that all God would have you do you can do (M-14.5)”

Affirmation:  “I would turn hell into Heaven.”

Reflections:

1 – Students/Teachers

All of us are students/teachers of God.  Time is an illusion, and only time separates students from teachers.  We will all be teachers, and many sooner rather than later.  We are actually already teaching and learning at the same time.  As soon as we have answered the Call, the individuals whom we can serve best will begin looking for us, and finding us.  There are no accidents in salvation.  Who we are to meet, we will meet.  The lives we are to touch, we will touch.  And in this plan of the teachers is found much joy.

2 – Plan of the Teachers

Jesus says elsewhere that without the plan of the teachers, there would be no way for all of our brothers and sisters to find their way home again.  The detour into fear has been long and burdensome, troubling in the extreme.  Let us ask today to be free of the fear in whatever form the fear manifests.  Often it is simply a low-grade anxiety, from which our jobs and our relationships seem to offer no respite.

3 – Bill and Helen

But there is a better way, and Helen and Bill (co-scribes of ACIM) found it, perhaps Bill more than Helen.  As Vahle points out in his biography (see review in this blog), and as Ken Wapnick has made so clear, the peace that Helen gave to others eluded her.  Ken’s biography of Helen Schucman is entitled, Absence from Felicity.  And it was only in death, when Jesus came to claim his own, that her face was at peace.  Bill, on the other hands, moved to California and there, amid friends of ACIM, lived a much more peaceful conclusion to his life.

4 – Let’s Do Our Part Today

May we do our part today to turn this hell on earth into Heaven on earth.  Ask the Holy Spirit what small thing you might do today to effect this reversal.  And He will respond.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Helen’s experience has led me to understand that there are no guarantees in this life.  I know from my reading that she understood A Course in Miracles very well, but still she was without the peace that ACIM had brought so many others.  May all of us realize that we must depend on the Holy Spirit in this world, and that, even then, we may not always have happy dreams.

Be with me today as I seek, once again, to understand Your guidance.  My nighttime dreams seem to give me indications, as well as my intuitive, inner sense.  I have not put it all together yet.  Be with me, and be with other whom I touch today, in whatever way.  We are not to be without limits in this world, but we are to seek to overcome the limitations, with the guidance that we receive.  May that guidance come in Your own Way, in Your own time.

Amen.

Do Not Isolate Yourself

“Salvation is a collaborative venture.  It cannot be undertaken successfully by those who disengage themselves from the Sonship, because they are disengaging themselves from me.  (T69)”

Affirmation:  “Salvation is collaborative”

Reflections:

1 – Don’t Isolate Yourself

We are not meant to isolate ourselves in this world–even to study the Course.  We are meant to stay in the world ,and to minister to our brothers and sisters.  Our brothers and sisters are the Sonship.  (Note:  Scribed in the sixties, A Course in Miracles uses the same masculine terminology that the Bible does, but in the sixties, the masculine gender was recognized by everyone as including both genders, male and female.)

2 – Let Jesus In

Jesus, in this passage, indicates how important it is that he be a part of our lives.  This is his wish, but it is not mandatory.  Indeed, Helen and Bill were reluctant, when introducing the Course, to tell their listeners that their considered opinion was that the speaker was Jesus.  They knew how foreign this would sound to some hearers of the new message.

3 – Jesus as Elder Brother

Jesus can do more for us if we consider him a friend, an elder brother.  He speaks at one point of how we can imagine him holding our hand as we walk along, and he indicates that this will be no “idle fantasy.”  We cannot understand how this is possible, but we can take him at his word and see if it does not appear that he is with everyone who gives an insistent call.  He will come at the first “unequivocal” call (from the Text).

4 – The Consequences of Withdrawal

When we withdraw for too long, we also withdraw from Jesus.  And we cannot do that, because he and the Holy Spirit are our guides to better living.  He is the elder brother who catches us when we fall, and the Holy Spirit is the inner guide that leads us every step of the way–guidance.

5 – Salvation for Ourselves AND Others

Surely we do not want to disengage from Jesus.  So this passage has a warning for those of us who would seek our own salvation and not frequently enough think of the Sonship.  The two go hand-in-hand.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

When I am tempted to withdraw, help to remember my contribution to my brothers and sisters.  They need me, as I need them.  Salvation lies in our relationship.

May I learn from the Course with careful study, and then may I take that learning into the world.  This is the solution that will work for the world and for me.

Amen.

If Pain and Suffering Visit

“An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable.  Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit.  (T21-22)”

Affirmation:  “Tolerance for pain is not without limit.”

Reflections:

1 – An Imprisoned Will

This “imprisoned will” is a philosophical tenet of A Course in Miracles.  When the separation seemed to arise, we were caught in a situation that seemed to make God’s will and our will at odds with one another.  Actually the two are inseparable, and only our dim understanding makes this aspect of faith difficult.

2 – Rejecting the Holy Spirit’s Guidance

When we reject the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are caught in the bonds of an imprisoned will, which engenders pain–sometimes extreme pain.  Although the Course affirms the releasing truth that we do not have to learn through pain, the truth is that many of us do learn through pain.  We can suffer in this pain greatly, but our tolerance for pain, as this passage says, is “not without limit.”  Sooner or later we will come to see that there must be another way, a better way, to live, and this is when we turn to God and His Voice, the Holy Spirit.

3 – Another Way

Helen Schucman and William Thetford, the two individuals responsible for bringing us the Course, agreed together to seek another way.  At the time they and their department at Columbia University were embroiled in competition and attack, and camaraderie was largely missing.  Helen and Bill embarked on a seven-year project, with Helen channeling from Jesus, and Bill, each morning, typing what had come through the day before.  Tolerance for pain in these two had become intolerable.

4 – No Tolerance for Pain

May this tolerance soon become intolerable for us as well, and then we will be ready to listen, perhaps for the first time, to innermost guidance.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I choose to eliminate pain from my experience.  I know that pain is not Your will, and may it not be mine either.

If I have learned through pain, may this learning come to an end.  Your will for me is total happiness.

Amen.

Seeking Heaven’s Gate

“Think not the way to Heaven’s gate is difficult at all.  Nothing you undertake with certain purpose and high resolve and happy confidence, holding your brother’s hand and keeping step to Heaven’s song, is difficult to do.  (T550)”

Affirmation:  “I walk to Heaven’s gate with my brother.”

Reflections:

1 – Optimism

What an optimistic passage!  So reassuring!

2 – A Passage for Affirmation

This is one of those passages that can be held in memory and recounted when the way gets tough on any given day.  It shows the tone of the A Course in Miracles, reassuring in the extreme.  When studied throughout, page by page, fear need not arise.  “Nothing you undertake” is “difficult to do” when studying ACIM.

3 – Co-Scribes Helen and Bill

Jesus says that the A Course in Miracles is simple, but that does not mean that it is easy.  Yet, when we study diligently, we find life going better.  This is the “another way (Preface, vii)” that its scribe, Helen Schucman, and her associate, William (Bill) Thetford, asked for, and this other way, set down in the Course, came about through their endeavors in cooperation with Jesus.  Helen took her version of shorthand, as she listened to an interior impression of words, and Bill typed up each day’s dictation in his office the next morning.  All was kept very secretive, for both Helen and Bill had great investment in their academic careers.

4 – Learn through Relationships

We need to realize that we are here with our brothers and sisters for mutual support.  We never have to feel alone, as we turn our special relationships into holy ones.  This fact of relationship to our brother (and sister) is a cornerstone of ACIM.  We learn through relationship, and thereby we enter Heaven’s gate.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for this beautiful passage!  May I recall it to mind whenever the way gets even the least bit difficult.  I know that there is no challenge when I am following guidance, when I perceive clearly without the interference of my ego.  I would take the hand of my brother and sister, and walk to You.  Guide me so that the direct way is actually the shortest route to You.

May I carry a smile on my face and a song in my heart.  May I enjoy the blessing of the day that You have given me.  May I enjoy a little bit of Heaven presaged on earth today.

There is no reason to be downhearted, even when problems persist.  I know that You have placed the solution to a problem with that problem.  I know that the solution and the problem are not separated in time, though it is eternal time that I am trying to comprehend.  You do not leave me guessing about how to solve any issue that confronts me.  Your Answer will come into my mind, and Your love will warm my heart–and then, the glorious solution will appear.  Thank You for this Heavenly way to a better life while still living in this world.

Amen.

A Quiet Future Filled with Joy

ACIM Workbook Lesson 314 – for Thursday, November 10, 2011

Affirmation:  “I seek a future different from the past.”

“Who can grieve or suffer when the present has been freed, extending its security and peace into a quiet future filled with joy?  (WB457)”

Reflections:

1 – Helen and Bill’s Agreement

What does it mean to have a present that has been “freed”?  According to ACIM, it means that we no longer have an imprisoned will, and it is an imprisoned will that is causing our misery.  We see pain because we have not yet come around completely to a new perception, a perception cleansed by our following of the Holy Spirit.  We must know that there is another way, just as Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford came to recognize.  In the midst of harsh academic politics, Bill exclaimed one day, “There must be another way!”  And Helen immediately promised to help him to find it.  That was the turning point for them, and the scribing of ACIM began soon afterwards by Helen, leading to the turning point for the several million people since who have purchased ACIM, some in languages other than English.

2 – A Freed Present = the Real World?

If we are living in a freed present, what would it look like?  This passage gives indications:  security, peace, a quiet future filled with joy.  Is this not the real world?  Is this not what we have been wanting all along?  (This is an interpretation of my own.)

3 – Heaven on Earth

We will not grieve or suffer when the present has been freed for everyone, for Heaven on earth will have arrived as the comprehensive Awakening of all has finally come.  Jesus says that just as the separation took millions of years, the return may extend over a similar period of time, and perhaps still longer.  This seems a pessimistic statement, but it probably best viewed as realistic–and we will have no trouble comprehending as we look at the conflicted and troubled world in which we live.  Our own little worlds will improve, though, as our projections become cleansed by a mind freed of egoism, and we perceive the good in this world.  No longer dwelling on the wrongs that we may also perceive, we just categorize these wrongs as “insanity,” as illusions (or maya), and while we do what we can to free our brothers and sisters, we do not join them any longer in insanity. Thus our future becomes quiet and joyful, even though we continue to live and work in a world where many things are amiss.  Our attitude changes when we are living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (an interpretation, not stated as such in ACIM).

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would make the same decision that Helen and Bill did, to find “another way” to live in this world.  ACIM points out that glorious way, a movement beyond the separation into salvation that eventually becomes a comprehensive Awakening for all individuals.  We must “be there” for our brothers and sisters, even as we intensively study A Course in Miracles, “our” way.  And some of us may feel led to consider A Course of Love, viewed by some as a sequel to ACIM, also believed by some to be channeled from Jesus.

Help me today to live in the present, and to accept this world even as I reach the conclusion that much that I view is simply insanity.  All of us are aware of the conflict inn which this world is caught.  Not all of us would view this trouble as sourced by the ego, turning our minds to madness.  But ACIM makes this pronouncement, and I would seek to understand this concept through the words that I read daily.  

May we first change ourselves into beings who wish to love without the ego, and then may we reach out to others who are ready for the message we long to give them.  Help me to know that changing myself is the first responsibility, and never are we bade to involve others who are not themselves already seeking.  May I share what is needed by my brothers and sisters today.  May I walk in love, with Jesus as my elder brother, holding me by the hand.  He promises to be with all who ask for him.  Thank You for this comforting thought.

Amen.

Our Memory of God through ACIM

ACIM Workbook Lesson 234 – for Monday, August 22, 2011

Affirmation:  “Father, today I am Your Son again.”

“We thank You, Father, that we cannot lose the memory of You and of Your Love.  We recognize our safety, and give thanks for all the gifts You have bestowed on us, for all the loving help we have received, for Your eternal patience, and the Word which You have given us that we are saved.  (WB409)”

Reflections:

We tried in the separation to lose the memory of God and His love.  But we cannot actually be separated from God; we can only forget.  And with His help and the help of masters of spiritual traditions, we will find our way to remembrance again.  Indeed God must be patient, for we are like children who do not know when to go to sleep (an idea lifted from the Text).  We flounder about, losing our way, finding pain that leads all too often to suffering, and then, ultimately to the realization that there is “another way.’  This realization is what led Helen and Bill to co-scribe ACIM.  Their pathways brought them together to a miraculous conclusion.  Helen did the writing, listening to an interior voice that she believed was Jesus; and Bill, each morning at work, closed the door, pulled down the shade, locked the door, and typed the dictation that Helen voiced.  It was a secretive endeavor.

Years later, A Course in Miracles is anything but a secret.  More than two million copies of ACIM have been sold, and many translations into languages other than English are available or currently being written.  It has been an amazing journey of more than 30 years.

ACIM is one Word to which we can refer.  It is impossible to refer to these volumes without receiving a blessing, unless we are so distracted as to be unable to follow the beautiful iambic pentameter (a poetic device).

ACIM is our Way.  As Jesus says in the Text, why choose other ways, when our way is through the special-turned-holy relationships that we have with our brother (and sister)?

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for A Course in Miracles.  I have benefited greatly from the blessing of reading this work.  Thank You for Your children, Helen and Bill, who were instrumental in bringing ACIM to the world.

Be with me today as I seek to gain ever greater meaning from Your work.  May ACIM lead me, through my holy relationships, to come home to You, even though I may remain on earth.

Amen.

I Do Love God

ACIM Workbook Lesson 225 – for Saturday, August 13, 2011

Affirmation:  “God is my Father, and His Son loves Him.”

“Father, I must return Your Love for me, for giving and receiving are the same, and You have given all Your Love to me.  I must return it, for I want it mine in full awareness, blazing in my mind and keeping it within its kindly light, inviolate, beloved, with fear behind and only peace ahead.  How still the way Your loving Son is led along to You!  (WB404)”

Reflections:

These prayers, in this section of the Workbook, are all meant to lead us gently to a God of love rather than judgment.  The prayers are comforting in the extreme.  The God of A Course in Miracles is like the God of the New Testament, rather than the sometimes vengeful God of the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible).  Jesus’s message is therefore consistent from the New Testament to A Course in Miracles, and even onto A Course of Love (which some view as a sequel to ACIM).

We have nothing to fear from God.  If we are not at first inclined to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to follow His way as the great Communicator from God to us, the Holy Spirit will be patient with us.  We will gradually come to know, as did Helen and Bill, that there is another way, and we will be led to discover, if we are true students of ACIM, that this another way is being abundantly laid out for us in its pages.  We are seeing the means to Awakening, or, as A Course of Love says, Christ-consciousness.

The only way that we can have consistent peace is if we turn to God consistently.  This means moments at the beginning and end of each day, as a minimum, in turning to God through contemplation and communing (prayer).  We are led by this stillness, this time when we are not stressed from the many activities of the day.  In quiet and stillness do we find our way home.  If we do not take the time to devote these moments to God, we will continue to walk the old pathway, led by egoistic thinking.  And we will not be happy, not on any consistent basis.  The “happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings” (a Workbook quotation) will elude us.  We will indeed lead charmed lives when we turn to the Holy Spirit, the Universal Inspiration, as our mentor through life’s tortuous turns.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I wish to have the “happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings,” knowing that they are the harbinger of consistently viewing the real world, which leads on to Awakening.  The means are spelled out in A Course in Miracles.  Help the revelation to come.  That is entirely up to You, and I know that when I am ready, revelation will come–showing the end, Awakening, to me.

May I consistently spend moments at the beginning and the end of the day with you, in contemplation.  This does not mean that my holy relationship will mean less to me; I will be more likely to fulfill my half of the relationship in a good manner if I have devoted time to You.  Be with me today, again I ask.  Thank You for walking along beside me daily, and carrying me when times get tough.

Amen.

We Are Not Bodies

ACIM Workbook Lesson 219 – for Sunday, August 7, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am not a body.  I am free.  For I am still as God created me.”

“I am not a body.  I am free.  (WB397)”

Reflections:

1 – We Are Spiritual Creatures

We are, first, spiritual creatures inhabiting a body temporarily.  The fact that this affirmation is given repeatedly is, in all likelihood, meant to impress upon us this fact.

2 – To Be Free

What does it mean to be free, not being a body, but inhabiting a body?  It means that we do not have to look to our various ailments a defining our identify.  We do not have to look to our weight or our height as indicative of the real person.  We are free of all such attachments, if we wish to be so.  Marianne Williamson’s book, A Course in Weight Loss, makes clear this assertion.  We are spirit first and always.

3 – No Imprisoned Will

What does it mean just to be free?  We are no longer bound by a “imprisoned will” (a quotation from ACIM).  When the ego is in ascendancy, we are in fact bound by an imprisoned will, and we suffer as a result.  Sooner or later, we reach the point that co-scribes of ACIM, Bill Thetford and Helen Schucman, reached, and we decide, as they did, that there must be “another way” (from the introduction to ACIM).  Helen agreed, with Bill, to try to find this other way, and A Course in Miracles was the answer.  And these volumes (Text, Workbook, Manual) have been helping several million people since.

4 – Our Real Will vs. Our Imprisoned Will

It is important to note that an “imprisoned will” is not following our real will, the will that is shown to us by the Holy Spirit.  An imprisoned will is not a punishment from God; it is simply the cause-and-effect relationship of following a way in this world that will not work.  The threshold for pain, Jesus says in the Text, may be high, but it will not remain so forever.  We will turn, and the sooner we do, the more smoothly our lives will flow.  This is the practical result of turning to the Holy Spirit for guidance.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for this good day.  May I not rue it with meaningless fears and anxieties, pain and suffering.  You are with me, and regardless of how bad things get, objectively, You will be there with me, ready to lift me above the fray.  May I learn more today about what it means to be free, to be a spirit–not a body.  May I walk lightly in my spirit.

Help us all to be there for one another.  We need each other in this world, as I am sure we need each other on the Other Side.  May we take the better way that A Course in Miracles point out, and adapt its tenets wholly to our lifestyle.

Amen.

Heaven Is Reached with Empty Hands and Open Minds

ACIM Workbook Lesson 133 – for Friday, May 13. 2011

Affirmation:  “I will not value what is valueless.”

Selected Passage:

“All things are valuable or valueless, worthy or not of being sought at all, entirely desirable or not worth the slightest effort to obtain.  Choosing is easy just because of this.  Complexity is nothing but a screen of smoke, which hides the very simple fact that no decision can be difficult.  What is the gain to you in learning this?  It is far more than merely letting you make choices easily and without pain.

“Heaven itself is reached with empty hands and open minds, which come with nothing to find everything and claim it as their own.  (WB246-247)”

Reflections:

We must become aware that we do not want the complex.  The complex is of the ego.  The simple is the way that we find God, the way we find our way home.

Many of us doubt this idea, because A Course in Miracles, to our deluded minds, seems complex in the extreme.  The extent to which we let the ego wither away, though, will show us the ultimate simplicity of its messages.  We want the valuable, and a faithful study of ACIM will lead us to separate the valuable from the valueless.  We need not fear that this is too difficult.  In the Text, Jesus assures us that, caught by the ego, we learned very difficult things indeed, because we were motivated to do so.  We built up a world that we wanted.  And now this world has turned against us.  Now we are confronted by ACIM, which ultimately has a message of simplicity.  The more we study, we more we will become convinced of the fact that its way toward salvation, and then Awakening, is simple and easy.  Our struggles, if we will it, are over.

We choose the pathway that we will take.  If we are not through struggling, then struggle we will.  But we can choose a better way.  And Helen Schucman, the scribe of ACIM, promised Bill Thetford, her faculty partner, that she would help him find “another way.”  This new way was ACIM, a way without conflict and with great hope and peace for a world that was ready for its message.  If we hold our hands empty and we open our minds, we will make great progress today toward the Awakening that ACIM is showing us the means to find.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

I would choose Heaven today.  I would leave behind the complexity in which I think I think, and let the way be shown to me that is easy and simple.  May I know that guidance shows me the way, and the decisions with which I am faced are made easy with the guidance that the Holy Spirit offers freely to all who ask.

Let me have a good day today.  Let me give You a good day today, because if You are experiencing Yourself through me, I would not give You a bad experience.  

Amen.

A TRIBUTE TO HUGH PRATHER

by Celia Hales

We of the Course community owe a lot to Hugh and his wife Gayle.  He died on November 15, 2010, from a presumed heart attack, but he had not been ill, and now he is not really gone.  Already he is making his presence known from the Other Side, as reported in The Holy Encounter, a publication of the Miracle Distribution Center (publisher Beverly Hutchinson MeNeff) in the January/February 2011 issue.

Gayle reports:   Hugh “made me pet Binkley [their cat] much longer than I wanted to.  Saturday he informed me that he was glad he didn’t have to clean the house.”   These are the lighthearted moments, which we so need right now, those of us still in this world.  But Gayle also recounts several other anecdotes designed to describe Hugh’s influence from the Other Side toward a gentle and communing spirit in daily life with his immediate family.

Jerry Jampolsky, in the same newsletter, reports hearing Hugh’s voice when Jerry awoke in the middle of the night, saying, “Jerry, Jerry, A Course in Miracles is absolutely correct.  It is all a dream world you are in.  It is all illusions.  It is time for you to not stop laughing at all the stuff we took so seriously.”

This second report underscores a passage from one of Hugh’s (and Gayle’s) early books, There Is a Place Where You Are Not Alone (Doubleday, 1980).  This is the first of the Prathers’ books that was directly inspired by ACIM, their very first attempt to put into words all that ACIM was coming to mean in their lives:

“Today, as every day, you have agreed to sit in a special movie theater and play a game.  The theater is very comfortable and is equipped with the ultimate in ‘sensurround’:  it simulates every sensory experience appropriate to the script.  On the screen is playing a story of your life which you never remember seeing.  Everything has been  made so real that you could easily forget that it is just a movie, but the point of the game is to not forget  Anytime you start to decide what you, the main character, should do next, special equipment will detect this, and a pleasant voice will say, ‘It is only a movie, and you cannot decide what the main character will do next because the script is already written.  So please sit back and enjoy it.’  If you add one more fact to this exercise, it will be true to life:  You wrote the script. (p. 196)”

Hugh wrote his last column for The Holy Encounter a couple of weeks before his death.  In it, he has these intimate revelations:

“There is indeed ‘a still small voice,’ but I need to have more faith in it, because it speaks as clearly to life decisions as to seemingly innocent conversational comments.  The voice is every present, but my faith in it is sporadic, and I am determined to change that. (p. 13)”

The same early book, There is a Place Where You Are Not Alone,  has this telling assertion:

“What I now see, and what anyone can discover for himself, is that this intuition, this quiet sense of direction, is always present and can be consulted directly. (p. 29)”

If Hugh, gentle and advanced teacher of A Course in Miracles that he is, still had trouble at the end in following guidance consistently, how much more can we forgive ourselves when we, too, don’t follow guidance?

On a personal note, I recall an encounter with the kind spirit of the Prathers, in this case, Gayle.

I wrote to the two of them some years back, asking the name of their editor.  I had written a book inspired by A Course in Miracles, and, as I told Hugh and Gayle, I thought that their editor might listen to what I had written with a “friendly ear.”  After a very long time, I arrived at work one morning to hear Gayle’s sparkling voice on my voice mail.  She apologized for the delay, which had happened because my letter had to be forwarded to a new publisher.  And she gave me the name of their editor.  Her voice sounded just like I would imagine an advanced teacher of God would sound–friendly, sweet, and, above all, willing to be helpful.

And her editor responded to my manuscript. She gave me several lengthy paragraphs of critique, much appreciated by me.

It is clear that Hugh has not really left us.  He is very much still interested in this world, though we don’t know everything about the Other Side, and he may go on to other interests.  I can imagine him talking to Bill and Helen (co-scribes of ACIM) right now.

May all of us ultimately leave this world the better place that Hugh made it by his presence and his love.

____

Note: Information about The Holy Encounter can be found at <www.miraclecenter.org>.

The manuscript about which I consulted with the Prathers’ editor is available on the web at <http://elainehill.wordpress.com&gt;.  Its title is Images in a Reflecting Pool.

A GODSEND: DISCOVERING “A COURSE IN MIRACLES”

by Celia Hales

It was July of 1981.  I had finished a disappointing year as a lecturer in library science at a university in North Carolina.  I did not yet know the right direction for the rest of my life.  And I had not found in my readings a faith that could see me through.  Then my copy of A Course in Miracles arrived in the mail.  Once I read those volumes, nothing was ever the same again.

In the spring of 1981, Psychology Today carried a feature about A Course in Miracles.  William Thetford and Helen Schucman were still maintaining their privacy as the individuals chosen to bring forth the Course, but Bill was tentatively beginning to speak out.  After reading the article,  I immediately ordered the volumes.  They arrived very shortly, and then, inexplicably, so did a letter from a friend in another city.

“Be sure to order A Course in Miracles!” Mike insisted, and then told me how.

When I wrote back that I already had them in hand, he was astounded.  “How did you learn of them at the same time I did?” he asked in wonder.

“Celestial timing,” I thought.  Mike and I had been seekers for some time, reading Ruth Montgomery and Jane Roberts, early writers of what would become known as New Age.

I devoured A Course in Miracles, all three volumes,  in less than a week.  Repeatedly throughout the reading, I would have a question arise in my mind, only to have it answered in the next paragraph.  One sentence followed smoothly into the next, and then one paragraph just as smoothly into the one after it.  The writing was more fascinating and more real than anything I had ever found.

One pivotal day during the week I took a walk in the backyard.  The sun was blazing.  Very suddenly, I felt as though the sun’s rays were coming down directly on my head.  I was terrified, and I ran to the house and the phone to call an old friend who had once told me how much prayer meant to him.

I told Bob what had happened in the backyard.  He listened respectfully, but he did not know that I was experiencing those Great Rays about which the Course speaks so eloquently.  (T322)

Desperate for help, I called Bob several more times in the course of a day.

“This is the Awakening,” he concluded.  “I’m not sure you will know what that means.”

I did know what it meant.

As it turned out, I was one of those called upon to change my life situation almost immediately.  (M26)  I felt led to go to Texas, where I quickly secured a position in a public library.  For six months I walked around in a daze.  I was tuned into another reality, and, as the Course warns about the partially innocent, quite foolish at times.  (T38)  But in the midst of it all, I knew intimately  the “happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings.”  (WB270)   Then this particular dream passed,  and I left Texas to return to North Carolina.

I was blessed to continue to know happy dreams,  as my study of the Course continued, but the Awakening did not last.  I have concluded that I was not saintly enough.  More charitably, the Course maintains that revelation may occasionally reveal the end to us, but to get there the means are needed.  (T16)

When I wed my husband Paul in 1986, the Course emerged as a tremendous asset to our new marriage.  From the Course:  Our minds hold only two orders of thought–  love and a call for love.  (T295)   Attack and anger are never justified.   (T638)  I have not always been able to live up to these lofty ideals,  but they have been the bedrock on which our marriage has rested.

“You are reading your ‘happiness’ book,” Paul observed one day early on.

I sat comfortably and contentedly reading the Course.

“Yes,” I replied.  “It is that.”

I have found it a lot easier to share my life when I have stayed close to my reading.

Five years ago Paul and I made the transition into an early retirement.  We partially remodeled our house in Minnesota, to ready it for the market, and we completely remodeled our new house in Mississippi.  There was a lot of stress, and in the midst of  this busy life, I did not stay close to the Course.  Finally I returned to it, clinging to its many reassurances as I had done before in happier times.  Life gradually returned to normal.  Now we live peacefully, the stress blissfully gone.

Before 1981, I knew something about guidance from the Holy Spirit, but the Course has taught me much more.  Most days, I follow the prompting that it describes so well.  When I do,  I know joy.  As time has passed, this joy has increasingly become a bedrock and beyond anything that I could imagine.  A Course in Miracles has been my lodestone, my godsend.

Meaningless Thoughts II

ACIM Workbook Lesson 11 – for Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Affirmation:  “My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.”

Selected Passage:

“Be glad indeed to practice the idea in its initial form, for in this idea is your release made sure.  The key to forgiveness lies in it.  (WB18)”

Reflections:

If we do not think aright, how can we perceive aright, and if this is not possible, how can what we perceive mean anything at all?  Surely we are doubting the validity of what we have seen in our lifetimes.  As Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford found out in their joint work to produce Jesus’s words, there is another way to do things in this world.  Our task is to find it.  And the underlying idea, meaningless in Heaven but meaningful on earth, is forgiveness of our brothers and sisters.

When we forgive, we are coming closer to recognizing that there is a better way to live.  Further Text, Workbook, and Manual passages explain that one’s brothers and sisters are actually innocent, that they have not done anything to our real Selves at all.  We do not pardon the real; we only pardon the illusion.  This truth is one of the hardest for the new student of A Course in Miracles to take in and to make his or her own.  But once we get past this hurdle, it is much smoother sailing afterwards.

May we move into forgiveness of the illusions that surround us, and welcome the real world, the world of knowledge rather than perception.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I recognize the innocence of my brothers and sisters in this world that appears so meaningless.  Surely they, and I, have made mistakes, but we are still children of God, Sons and Daughters of God.  May I come ever closer to understanding this truth today.

Give me a good day.  In this wintertime, my days seem long, though they are actually shorter than the summer.  Help me to turn to You when any time today seems difficult.

Amen.

WRANGLING CREATES BEAUTY; A Review of Neal Vahle’s “A Course in Miracles: The Lives of Helen Schucman & Bill Thetford”

A Review of Neal Vahle’s A Course in Miracles:  The Lives of Helen Schucman & Bill Thetford

Review by Celia Hales; reprinted with new title from Miracles (publisher Jon Mundy)

Note:  A book by Neal Vahle, published by Open View Press (San Francisco), 2009.  Available from Miracle Distribution Center, 1-800-359-2246, miraclecenter.org; or Community Miracles Center, 1-888-621-2556, http://www.miracles-course.org; or elsewhere on the Internet.  The price is slightly less than $20 plus shipping and handling.

The cover of this book tells it all:  Helen and Bill, holding hands affectionately, with smiles that suggest a deep and abiding friendship.  This is true despite the wrangling between them that never was healed.  This despite the fact that Helen and Bill sought together to find another way–a better way–to live and work together as colleagues and friends.

In the beginning, Bill and Helen saw the inner dictation that Helen was beginning to scribe as a way to heal their own relationship, which was professional and personal, despite the fact that Bill was gay and Helen, a happily married woman.  Bill was the supporter during the seven years, from 1965 to 1972, that Helen scribed A Course in Miracles.  He typed the words that she dictated, often in great distress, from her combination of shorthand and abbreviations.  Everything was done in utmost secrecy, because both were faculty members at Columbia University, and their endeavors would probably have cost them their positions.  Both were extremely successful psychologists, with great investment in the things of this world.  A Course in Miracles would eventually transform Bill and make significant changes in Helen, not all for the better.  The Course is available to us at great personal cost to both of them.

Neal Vahle does a commendable piece of work in writing this joint biography of Bill and Helen.  He ranges widely over the territory, not only telling us of the lives of these two principal figures, but also the others who helped them bring the Course before the world.  I say, “helped them,” but actually others did much of that task, for neither Bill nor Helen were interested in being gurus or in speaking for the Course as experts.  If we don’t live it, they said, how can we teach it?  Neal writes of the early life of Bill and Helen, covers the basics in describing how the Course came to be and to be published, and then concludes with two lengthy chapters on the legacy of these remarkable individuals.

This book was needed.  Vahle agreed to write it at the suggestion of Judy Skutch Whitson of the Foundation for Inner Peace.  Not a Course student in the beginning, he undertook to write an independent scholarly work, and he succeeded.  In the meantime, he studied the Course and became grateful for the opportunity to tell Bill and Helen’s story.
Vahle drew extensively on Helen’s unpublished autobiography, written soon after the scribing of the Course ended.  He also quotes very extensively from individuals such as Judy Skutch Whitson and Kenneth Wapnick, important figures in the history of the Course.  Wapnick’s biography of Helen, Absence from Felicity, would also be of interest to readers of this biography.

Bill’s importance to the scribing is not often noted, though his name always appears with Helen’s.  Vahle points out, quoting others, that A Course in Miracles would likely not exist without Bill’s support of Helen.  She was terrified by what she was experiencing, and she did not welcome the work at all, though she believed that somewhere, sometime, she had agreed to do it, and she never seriously considered quitting.   Bill and Helen did not often mention Jesus’s name in conjunction with the Course.   Wapnick, in the early publicity, was asked to make the point for them in their presentations that both experienced the voice (that Helen was receiving as inner dictation) as coming from Jesus.

Vahle makes clear the strengths and the weaknesses of Bill and Helen.  His biography is extremely frank, and sometimes painful to read, as we learn that Bill and Helen were very human individuals with real psychological difficulties, despite their obvious stature as spiritually advanced people.  His frankness is the most significant aspect of this biography, and it is a blessing for those of us who love and know the Course.  I recommend this book without reservation.

Do We Have Free Will?

“Your finger does not act independently of the whole.  You might say that your finger does not, then, have free will. . . .The same is true of you!  You cannot express yourself independently of the whole! (The Treatises of A Course of Love:  ‘A Treatise on the New,’ 5.8 – 5.9) ”

The concept of free will was long a challenge to me, until I read A Course in Miracles, and learned that God’s Will and my real will are one and the same!  What a glorious realization this is.

In A Course of Love, we see that, as in ACIM, we choose for the whole rather than our little self; we choose for all of our brothers and sisters when we make a God-inspired choice.  This helps to explain why “free will” doesn’t mean that we can miscreate and never reap the consequences.

We do have free will, but God has set the boundaries of our miscreations.  We cannot go outside these boundaries.  Pain becomes too great, and we learn, as Helen Schucman scribed in ACIM, that pain is not without limit.  Sooner or later we realize that there must be a better way.  This other way is what she and Bill Thetford sought to find, and Jesus gave them ACIM was the result.

Now we might say the same for Mari Perron and A Course of Love.  “Another Course in Miracles” was presented to her.  And she was willing to provide what many view as a sequel to A Course in Miracles.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I look to You for a full explanation of what my free will really is and what it means.  A very important concept, I realize that it is one that must be understood and understood fully.

Thank You for the explanation given us today in this passage from A Course of Love.  Thank You for the peace of mind that this passage gives me.

Amen.

Special Relationships

“I have said repeatedly that the Holy Spirit would not deprive you of your special relationships, but would transform them.  (ACIM, T358)”

Affirmation:  “transform my special relationships”

Reflections:

A Course in Miracles makes much of our way toward Awakening:  forgiveness, expressed through the changing of our special relationships into holy relationships.  Many of us look to our significant others when we think of the many passages in ACIM which discuss special/holy relationships.

Many students of ACIM read the “I” as Jesus, and, indeed, this is what Bill Thetford and Helen Schucman, the co-scribes, believed (though they were hesitant to say so in public presentations, the few that they had).  The transformation of special relationships, we learn as we read farther on, is into holy relationships.  We have forgiven our brothers and sisters for the wrongs that we, and perhaps they, believe that they have done.  ACIM sees forgiveness as the way Home.

What is “Home”?  We can perhaps see that this is heaven on earth.  This theme runs through A Course of Love also.  We can experience a better world in this world; we do not have to wait for life after death.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I indeed experience the heaven on earth that I read about, as I forgive my brothers and sisters unconditionally.  May my special relationships transform into holy ones.  May You lead me to this transformation.

Thank You for listening to my prayers.  I want to keep my channel to You open at all times.  I want to feel You near me and within me.

Amen.

ACIM Workbook Lesson for Day 138:

Heaven is the decision I must make.