A Course in Miracles Students

Carol Howe is a full-time course instructor in Florida whose teaching and learning experience began in 1977. In the following statement Howe answers the question "How does the course work?"

I think the Course works exactly like it professes to work, which is that it brings into conscious awareness the literal feeling of madness that drives us all. It brings fear and terror to the surface so that you can become aware of the consequences of the choices you've made so far, and learn to make different choices. My direct experience is that the course brings up things that are not so much unconscious as invisible, because the spotlight of attention has not been on them: fear, guilt, and the unloving forces that tend to drive our lives.

What the course has to say about the unreality of the world is difficult to grasp, but the idea is where you eventually come to, not where you start. You start with people being in pain, driven by their feelings of unworthiness.

The Course leads you by the hand through that sort of self-discovery, and it does this primarily through relationships.The idea is that the SOBs out there will save you, because you learn to notice what comes up for you in their presence. Instead of running away, you realize that difficult people are triggering, not causing, your own feelings of guilt, fear, and unforgiveness. Then you have a chance to deal with what has come up in a responsible way.

The Course puts comforting arms around you while it says, "Now we're going to look at the ways you've lived and what you've valued in order to point out that it hasn't really served you." It's both kindly and intense in that way, and it's true that things can get worse at first rather than better. If you say "I want to be free" and really mean it then all the negative ideas and feelings that you're still attached to will come up right in your face, but for your release, not for punishment. A Course in Miracles is a tremendously powerful tool, and I have seen it deliver exactly what it says it will deliver when you do what it says to do.

Tom Davies of Orem, Utah

Tom Davies of Orem, Utah has a religious background in Mormonism and a professional history in the neurosciences, a discipline that once convinced him that the brain was the source of all thought and behavior. He says now that he recognizes the "power of the mind to invent the illusion of a physical world."

The Course has been a thorn in the side of my wife since I began studying it ten years ago. Initially I tried to push it on her; she honestly tried to understand it, but without success. Then she became resentful of the time and money I was spending on Course-related projects, such as a weekly study group in our home and a newsletter I published. Before my involvement with the Course we didn't talk much with each other. She did her thing and I did mine. Gradually, as my understanding of the Course increased, I realized the extent to which our relationship was a special one: I was using my wife to satisfy my needs and visa versa. When I realized this, I decided I wanted to change that special relationship to a holy relationship. I could do this only if I was willing to love her unconditionally—to see her as guiltless regardless of what she might do. Because we are committed to each other, this shift in perception has been relatively easy. As my perception changed, our ability to communicate improved. We started talking more about our feelings. I hardly ever get angry with my wife anymore, because I now understand and accept her as she is.

Charlie Cowan was the original founder of the Northwest foundation for A Course in Miracles.

Cowan currently lives in San Diego and teaches a weekly class on the Course at a Unity Church. I've been an ardent student of the Course since 1986; my loving and loved wife, Shirley, shares my devotion to the Course and its principles. I can't speak for anyone else, of course. But as for me, I have invested everything I ever thought I owned in the course and its principles. One of those principles is: Giving and receiving are, in fact, the same thing; you cannot but receive what you give. Since I am a terrifically selfish individual, I had to give all to the principles I teach in order to learn. As for what I received in return:

• Recovery from alcoholism
• Loving and loved wife, Shirley
• Friends with whom I can share a laugh and tear at any time
• Happiness
• Peace of mind
• Forgiveness of my temporal father
• Forgiveness of myself
• Reunion with my daughter and son

And what did all this cost me? My guilt. My fear. My pain. My loneliness. Not bad for an old drunk, don’t you think?

Mike Gole has been an ordained minister for over thirty years.

Marianne Williamson's A Return to Love entered my life unwanted; one of my book club memberships sent it to me by mistake. It was one of those divine mistakes that play so subtly into nudging one's life path in a new direction. Although the book sat on my shelf unread for a year, there came a time when love seemed far away in my life, and the words A Return to Love caught my eye. I read the book cover to cover in a day and wanted more. The more I was seeking I found in A Course in Miracles.

As a student and teacher of the Bible in a fundamental, evangelical church, I found the Course felt like reading a letter from an old friend. I experienced much of the joy and confusion that I did when I first started reading the Bible and started seeking out the truths hidden there. Many questions that had gone unanswered for years started to vanish as I read the course, though they were quickly replaced by many new questions. An important difference was the way the Course teaches its students to deal with unanswered questions: the way of peace, a nonthreatening approach to letting God be the teacher.

The Course asks us to set aside all of our beliefs for a few moments to allow God to teach us something for the day. Such a simple shift in my own thinking allowed me to enter into a whole new experience of learning. After all, if I didn't like what I was reading or practicing for those few moments, I could go back to believing exactly the way I did before. There was no fear that if I read something disagreeable, I would be forever cut off from God. The course gave me the grace and freedom to set aside its teaching; it was a wonderful freedom that no other teaching had offered.

Now that I was free from my past and the pull of my ego, the Workbook lessons took on a life of their own. I found myself spending as much as two to three hours daily integrating the lessons into my life, and the most amazing transformation took place. Far from being frustrated by taking so much time to work on lessons and read the Text, I discovered that time was irrelevant to getting certain daily tasks done.

Activities that used to take several hours were completed in just a few minutes. And activities related to my ministry were seen with such clarity that it became a joy to see God work them out with such grace and peace. The most striking example of this has been my experience with the Course teaching of forgiveness. My years of church service have been marred by seeing members attack each other; splits and disputes seem common to every ministry. Even with a primary message of love from the Gospels, church members have suffered many hurts from the inability to forgive.

I, too, had suffered all my life with unforgiveness and bitterness against those who had opposed my ministry or gossiped behind my back. As I read the Text and worked through the first fifty Workbook lessons, I became convinced that forgiveness was the only escape from this insanity. So I started to experiment with forgiveness with a person who had caused a division in my current ministry.

The Course teaches us that when we forgive our brothers, we are also forgiving ourselves. If I see my brother with no sin, I will see myself that way too. It was a subtle shift in thinking for me, but it is such shifts in thinking that the course identifies as "miracles." And what a miracle there was in store for me: A few months after the person I was inwardly forgiving had left the church, he suddenly appeared in the parking lot after one of the services. We'd had no contact since his departure. As I walked toward him I was filled with love and joy for him; all of the feelings of attack and hate were gone and I saw him in his innocence. Without a word I walked up and embraced him. We just stood there holding each other; it was a wonderful healing.

 

 

D. Patrick Miller in Understanding A Course in Miracles combines thorough reportage and experienced insight in his accurate account of the important and controversial matters surrounding A Course in Miracles.

Related Excerpts:

COURSE'S HISTORY

ACIM'S UNIVERSAL CURRICULUM

RETURN TO LOVE

ARISING NEW CONSCIOUSNESS

GREAT AWAKENING

SEARCH FOR WISDOM

 

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