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From the Preface: Over the many years we have been teaching 'A Course in Miracles', it has become apparent that its radical message has often been a source of much confusion, misunderstanding, and distortion. It is our aim to help clarify Course principles -- through this question-and-answer format -- in order to facilitate greater understanding and application of its thought system. The 72 questions are arranged by topics including Jesus, the metaphysics, application, form, language, and the curriculum of 'A Course in Miracles.'
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Gloria Wapnick has a Masters degree in History from Hunter College. From 1963-65, she lived in Tehran, Iran, where she taught English to Iranian students at the Iran-American Institute, and Social Studies at the American High School. Returning to the States in 1965, she taught Social Studies in the New York City Junior High and High Schools until 1984, and was Dean of Students for the last four years. Gloria has been working with A Course in Miracles since 1977. She is Vice-President and co-founder with her husband Kenneth of the Foundation for A Course in Miracles in Temecula CA. Gloria has also co-authored two books on the Course with Kenneth. Kenneth Wapnick has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and has been working with 'A Course in Miracles' since 1973, when he joined Helen Schucman, scribe of the Course, and William Thetford at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. In addition, he worked closely with Helen preparing the final manuscript of the Course. Since that time he has lectured widely on 'A Course in Miracles.' He has written more than 25 books on the Course and has also produced over 150 audio and video titles explaining and discussing the principles of the Course. He is President and co-founder with his wife Gloria of the Foundation for 'A Course in Miracles' in Temecula CA. Together they have traveled nationally and internationally giving workshops on the Course.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
24) If all this is a dream or an illusion, or a script which is already written, what difference does it make what I do with my life?
While on one level A Course in Miracles does teach that this world is an illusion and that in truth our experiences here are hallucinations, on another level Jesus assures us that "it is almost impossible to deny its [the body's] existence in this world. Those who do so are engaging in a particularly unworthy from of denial" (text, p. 20; T-2.IV.3:10-11). Since it was our wrong minds that wrote the script of our many "lifetimes" in this delusional hologram of hatred, it would follow that the ego's purpose would be to reinforce belief in the seeming reality of our experience here, which reflects our belief in the reality of our separation from God. And nothing serves this purpose better than the defense of denial, which makes the thoughts of guilt and fear so unacceptably real that they need to be repressed and never looked at again. This ensures that the thought of separation remains real within the split mind, "safe and protected" from the Holy Spirit.
A Course in Miracles presents us with a choice between two ways of living in this dream world, which is the only true choice remaining to us within the dream. As we implied earlier, the Course teaches that we have a split mind which is really tri-partite in structure: 1) a wrong mind that holds the ego thought system in place, and even though it appears that we have choices within the wrong mind, Jesus unequivocally states that to believe that there is a choice in the thought system of the ego is delusional and self-deceptive; 2) a right mind which is the home of the Holy Spirit, and holds a correction for each misthought or miscreation of the ego thought system; and 3) the part of the mind that chooses between the ego and the Holy Spirit, which we refer to as the decision maker. Therefore, our only true choice and freedom within the illusory dream of separation is to choose our right minds, allowing our wrong minds to be undone. We shall return to this important point in a later question.
Consequently, A Course in Miracles instructs us that the only purpose the world holds is for us to choose the forgiveness script. The Holy Spirit offers us a correction for the ego's nightmare dreams of guilt and attack, wherein the world becomes a classroom in which we can learn the lessons of forgiveness. In this way, the guilt we made that ultimately brought about the making of the body and the world is undone. Simply indulging the ego's fantasies under the justification that "It doesn't matter anyway" would make these desires real (otherwise why indulge them?), and root one still further in the ego's dream of guilt. Such self-indulgence could include acting out repressed desires such as murder, theft, deception, anger, sexual exploitation, etc., or on the other hand, giving way to thoughts of meaninglessness, depression, and even suicide. And thus the above question -- "What difference does it make what I do with my life?" -- can be understood from a totally different perspective. This is a perspective that gives great meaning to our lives, for it states: "I have a choice to make: which dream do I choose to follow; to which dream will I be loyal?"
In summary then, we see that on the metaphysical level, everything we do -- not to mention our personal identity -- is an illusion. However, on the level of the dream, where we most certainly believe we are, our lives make a tremendous difference; not so much in terms of what we do, but with whom we do it. Only by choosing Jesus or the Holy Spirit as our teacher, guide, and friend can we undo the cause of our remaining asleep and dreaming dreams which are rooted in the belief in the reality of the separation from our Source, and from each other. We cannot change the script, which is already written and has indeed been undone. But we can change from the ego's script to the Holy Spirit's. Helping us to accomplish this is the purpose of A Course in Miracles. 52) Is the Jesus of A Course in Miracles the same Jesus written about in the Bible, and the same person who walked the earth in Palestine two thousand years ago?
Yes, it is definitely the same Jesus who appeared in the world two thousand years ago, with the same message of truth -- in content obviously, not form. However, it is extremely hard to believe that the Jesus of A Course in Miracles is the same figure written about in the Bible, just as it would be difficult to accept that the biblical Jesus resembles the truly historical one. This is not the place to delve into issues of scripture scholarship and how the gospels were written, but suffice it to state for our purposes here that the figure found in the four gospels, as well as the teachings recorded in the other books of the New Testament, are often diametrically opposed to what we find in the Course. Rather than attempt a procrustean fit of a round peg in a square hole, it seems much safer and intellectually honest for students of A Course in Miracles to accept that the biblical Jesus represents the collective projections of the various authors of the gospels and epistles, while the voice and person of Jesus in A Course in Miracles represents the ego-free being who lived and taught two thousand years ago. In conclusion, the Jesus of the Bible and the Course are mutually exclusive figures, with only the common name linking them together.
For a more thorough discussion of these differences, the reader is referred to A Course in Miracles and Christianity: A Dialogue. 67) A Course in Miracles is a universal teaching, why did it come in such sectarian (i.e., Christian) terms? Doesn't that limit its worldwide applicability?
While the basic message of A Course in Miracles is universal -- "God's Son is guiltless, and in his innocence is his salvation" (manual, p. 3; M-1.3:5) -- its form certainly is not, nor is it meant to be. We have already quoted Jesus' words to the effect that this is a "special curriculum," which clearly reflects that it has a special audience: the Western world that has grown up under the strong influence of Christianity and 20th-century psychology, an influence that has not been very Christian nor spiritual. This is why the Course's language is so Western, and, more specifically, Christian and psychodynamic in statement. As the specific spiritual path we call A Course in Miracles, the Course is simply not meant to have worldwide applicability. Other cultures and religious traditions have, and will continue to have their own spiritual paths, just as we in the Western world now have the Course, among many others. As we have repeatedly pointed out in this book, the universal joining with all people is the content of the universal course, but the specific ways in which people learn this lesson constitutes the forms of the "special curriculum," of which A Course in Miracles is simply one example. Forms, almost by definition, are not the same and cannot blend together. Therefore they cannot be universal, or for all people. This is why Jesus teaches in the introduction to the clarification of terms, to repeat and extend this important statement: A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary. It is this experience toward which the course is directed (manual, p. 73; C-in.2:5-6). This "universal experience," it goes without saying, is love, and A Course in Miracles is but one form of regaining it.
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