In Praise of Travel

Apollo’s Victory, Vieux Bassin, Honfleur, France, Taken by Barry Cosme, Copyright (c) 2016, All Rights Reserved

Traveling the wide world can certainly be an eye opener, to expose one to new ideas, new ways of doing things and to beautiful sights.  Yet what is most important here is the willingness, the openness, to experience these ideas, activities and beauty.  Further, with this willingness and openness, we can experience new ideas, activities and beauty wherever we are, and in this very moment.

The Three Courses

Morning Rose – Kirkland, Washington, Taken by Barry Cosme, Copyright (c) 2005, All Right Reserved

A Brief Introduction

The purpose of the following post is to compare and help integrate three “courses” which are each channeled works of Jesus Christ.  These courses are A Course in Miracles (ACIM), The Way of Mastery (WOM) and A Course of Love (ACOL).  While this post may be of interest to anyone, it is probably most useful to those who are familiar ACIM and wish to find out a bit more of its relationship to WOM and ACOL.

ACIM was dictated to Helen Schucman by Jesus between 1965 and 1972 [1]. She, along with William Thetford, who transcribed her notes, assembled a manuscript, which was published in 1976 by the Foundation for Inner Peace. [2]  The book consists of three primary sections, the Text (the theory of the Course), the Workbook for Students (365 lessons) and the Manual for Teachers. [3]

The WOM was given by Jeshua (Jesus’ name in His primary language during incarnation) to Jayem (Jon Marc Hammer) from 1987 to 1995.  The first book is The Jeshua Letters and the second is The Way of the Servant, both published by Heartfelt Publishing PMA.  From 1993 to 1995 Jeshua channeled 35 monthly lessons live through Jayem to small gatherings, which were recorded.  These were transcribed into three books, The Way of the Heart, The Way of Transformation and The Way of Knowing [4] as well as a combined hardbound book as The Way of Mastery, all published by the Shanti Christo Foundation.[5]

ACOL was received by Mari Perron from Jesus over a period of almost three years [6] starting in 1998. [7]  The Course consists of three books, The Course (first published by New World Library), The Treatises and The Dialogues  (these two books were subsequently published by The Center for a Course of Love and the A Course of Love Combined Volume was published in 2014 by Take Heart Publications.[8]

A Key Comparison

There are a multitude of ways in which these studies are essentially identical, yet there would be no point in having three teachings if they didn’t each offer some helpful facet not covered elsewhere.  ACIM is acknowledged in both WOM and ACOL as the prior work of the same voice (Jesus).  In the preface of the ACIM, in the section entitled “What it Is”, the Course makes the following observation about ACIM,

“It emphasizes that it is but one version of the universal curriculum. There are many others, this one differing from them only in form. They all lead to God in the end.”

Along the same line, in the ACIM Manual for Teachers, it talks about the forms of the Universal Course stating, “There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome” (M-1.4).

With an understanding that Jesus is alive and always with us, [9] we should not be surprised that He continues to find additional forms to clarify the lessons of the “Universal Course”.  Further, the Preface to ACIM states of the Course, “Its only purpose is to provide a way in which some people will be able to find their own Internal Teacher” (Last paragraph of the section entitled “How It Came”).  With many having found their Internal Teacher, we should expect that this should lead to other valuable insights and works, both inspired and channeled.

Indeed, there are such subsequent works, including WOM and ACOL.  However, some ACIM students have expressed concerns about the other courses.  One such concern is the perception that ACOL is “dualistic”, especially in its focus upon elevating form.

Let’s first look at non-dualism.  In the Introduction to the ACIM Text section it says,

“This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way: Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.  Herein lies the peace of God” (T-in.2).

When I first read this thirty years ago, I could immediately sense the powerful revelation in these words.  Yet, as one studies further, the power and revelation deepens and expands.  Following the Introduction is a subsection entitled “Principles of Miracles”.  One of these principles clarifies what ACIM means by the word unreal, “The miracle dissolves error because the Holy Spirit identifies error as false or unreal” (T-1.I.39). Using this statement that the “unreal” is false along with the Introduction quote above, we can restate that nothing which is false exists, that only that which is true exists.

Later in the Text it provides clarity about the attributes of truth, “Whatever is true is eternal, and cannot change or be changed” (T-1.V.5).  Using this clarification about the eternal and unchanging nature of truth, we can gain further understanding of the Introduction quote.  We can now see that truth, which is by its nature eternal, cannot be threatened.  It can’t change or be changed thus the concept of threat to the real/eternal would be nonsensical.  Further, the unreal/non-eternal (that which seems to be changeable) is false and therefore, despite appearances to the contrary, does not really exist.  Thus, any appearance of reality by the non-eternal is just that, appearance only, illusion.

ACIM teaches nondualism.  In dualism, reality is believed to consist of opposites and the relationship between these: true and false; good and bad; darkness and light.  However, we know that physically, darkness is not an entity or thing of its own but is instead merely an absence of light.  Similarly, in ACIM fear is understood as a lack of love, [10] not love’s opposite.  In the same Introduction it says, “The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite” (T-in.1).  Thus, love is real and fear is unreal and therefore does not really exist.  In the prior paragraph, we saw that the real, the true, exists but nothing unreal exists.  These are both examples of the non-dualistic teaching of ACIM.

Next, let’s examine the framework of how Jesus introduces the idea of elevation of form and then let’s compare this idea to ACIM and WOM.  In a chapter entitled “Giving and Receiving”, Jesus talks about the frame of reference from which ACOL begins, saying:

“The art of thought… will bring about the union of the male and female, of conception and action, of inspiration and manifestation… However, we are talking now, in a certain sense, of an elevation of form. While this is actually an elevation beyond form, it must begin in the reality where you think you are. In other words, it must begin with form.” (T1:9.1-3)

The underlined and bold type face in the above quotation are mine.  While both ACIM and ACOL have many non-dualistic teachings, ACIM reveals the workings of miracles that reflect Reality, ACOL emphasizes the connections between who we think we are now and expands our identity toward Unity.  As the quote above illustrates, some of us will find it helpful to begin where we perceive ourselves to be so we can move beyond it.  However, since form is just a helpful starting point ( see “begin with form” above), it is also clear that moving beyond form is the ultimate direction of ACOL.

As part of its non-dualistic teachings, ACIM emphasizes the vital recognition that Heaven is not opposed by the world.  Heaven is instead a decision or choice to be made in the present moment [11] and not at the end of one’s life, as often understood in the traditional Christian Church.  Some students come to see the immediate and complete awakening from the dream of separation to the Reality of Heaven as the immediate goal of their study.  This vision of the end of duality draws some of us to re-read the book, repeat the lessons, perhaps often and perhaps for many years.  However, the Epilogue for the Workbook for Students lays out a different path,

“No more specific lessons are assigned, for there is no more need of them. Henceforth, hear but the Voice for God and for your Self when you retire from the world, to seek reality instead. He will direct your efforts, telling you exactly what to do, how to direct your mind, and when to come to Him in silence, asking for His sure direction and His certain Word” (Third paragraph).

As mentioned previously, the purpose of ACIM is to help us find our Internal Teacher.  Once the purpose has been achieved, the Voice for God will direct our pathway toward awakening from the dream of separation.  This awakening is described as follows, “You will first dream of peace, and then awaken to it” (T-13.VII.9 Chapter 13, “Attainment of the Real World“) [bold is mine].

The Real World or Happy Dream of love and joy [12] is the prelude to awakening, yet it is still a dream, still part of the dualistic appearances, which are illusionary.  Just as forgiveness is an illusion [13] and unknown in Heaven, [14] likewise healing and the Atonement are not real, for they are not necessary in Heaven and are only meaningful within the illusion of separation.

Thus, ACIM’s description of the experience of the Real World or Happy Dream before awakening to Reality and Heaven could well be described as an elevation of form from the dream of separation to dreams of forgiveness and love.  This fits very well with ACOL’s teachings about the “elevation of form”.

At the end of “A Treatise on The Nature of Unity and Its Recognition”, Jesus says of ACOL,

“Let who you are shine through the personal self who continues to walk this world a while longer. Listen for my voice as I guide you to your purpose here and linger with you in this time to end all time…  Our journey together is just beginning as we return to the premise put forth… that of the elevation of form.” T2:13.6

In the next “Treatise on The Personal Self” He says,

“The new thought system will still exist within your mind and heart… but to experience the new thought system as thought alone will not bring about the changes you would so desire to have come about… You may live a more peaceful and meaningful life, but you will not become the savior I ask you to be, or the architects of the new world of heaven on earth that I call you to create.” T3:14.1

The application of bold in the quote above is mine.  This quote regarding the elevation of form as we walk this world a bit more and the creation of a new world of heaven on earth sound very much like the ACIM Real World or Happy Dream that precedes awakening.

In the WOM book The Jeshua Letters, in Chapter 8, on pages 211 through 216 is a beautiful passage that lays out the choice for Love and the consequent way of living in the world that is the Kingdom of heaven on earth.  For the sake of brevity in this post, I have contracted the quotation below, however the full passage is far greater and more beautiful and highly recommended.  Once again, this is strikingly similar to the Happy Dream and Real World in ACIM, and the “new world” in ACOL.

“Now is the time
of your final choice upon you.
The choice is but
between Love and fear.

When you choose
the abundance of the Kingdom,
there is born a way of living
which requires no planning,
no achievement,
no securing of one’s survival.

Would you not choose with Me
the Reality of the Kingdom?

Choose, therefore,
That which is everlasting. …
Choose, therefore,
the presence of the Father
within you,
and the Kingdom
is all you will experience around you.

This simple choice
demonstrates a truth,
buried deeply in the heart
of every son yet sleeping.
To witness this choice
is the act of being nudged into waking,
until all the sons of man
are again living as
the Truth they are:
the one Son…

Herein lies
the Kingdom
of heaven on earth.”

These three “courses”, just like forgiveness and healing, are still illusion.  As such, they inevitably fall short of perfection.  As illusions, they are not the Light of Truth, yet they also are clearly reflections of that Light; they are still part of the dualistic world, yet they point beyond it.  They are the illusions of the release of the illusion of separation and awakening to the Light.

While each of these three courses are unique and stands alone, the parables, the lessons and the other teachings of each weave an intricate pattern together.  Just as transcending the illusions of separation brings us to miraculous Unity, so transcending the apparent differences of these courses leads to a stronger understanding of both illusion and Truth, as well as increased commitment to the choice for Love.  Maybe there is no need for further book study, for we need only accept the Atonement fully for ourselves.  If this causes the dream of separation to cease, this is miraculous!  However, if illusion only fades for us so we are able obtain guidance from the Voice for God, this too is a very precious miracle!

Indeed, He will guide us through a life that is our own individualized curriculum.  He guides us to choose the option for Love in each situation we bring to ourselves and, as we so decide, we are servants of the Atonement, vehicles visibly communicating His forgiveness, healing, inspiration and Love to all, and for ALL.  In so doing, we are creating the dream of peace for ourselves and others until ALL awaken fully to the eternal Peace of Heaven.

References

Most of the references below were easily searched on the internet as of late 2018 and early 2019.  The WOM reference is not online and requires copies of the books themselves.  ACIM references can be found at https://acim.org/acim/ and ACOL references at https://www.centerforacourseoflove.org/discover-acol/
________________________________________

[1] Foundation for Inner Peace page, The Scribing of ACIM

[2] Wikipedia article on A Course in Miracles

[3] Foundation for Inner Peace page, An Introduction to A Course in Miracles

[4] Jeshuaway.com article An Introduction to the Way Of Mastery by David Schock

[5] All WOM publications information is on the copyright page of the books

[6] ACOL Foreword – the full story of how ACOL came to be

[7] ACOL page, How Mari Received ACOL

[8] ACOL Combined Volume Copyright page

[9] ACIM T-4.I.6 and T-7.III.1

[10] ACIM T-2.VI.7

[11] ACIM Lesson 138, “Heaven is the decision I must make”, especially italicized sentences at the end

[12] ACIM T-13.VII.9, T-18.II.6 and T-18.II.9

[13] ACIM Lesson 198, second paragraph

[14] ACIM Preface section entitled “What it Says” paragraph 15

The Teachings Point Toward Unity

Moonrise Pine – Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, Taken by Barry Cosme, Copyright (c) 2012, All Rights Reserved

The stated purpose of A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is, “to provide a way in which some people will be able to find their own Internal Teacher” (Preface, How It Came into Being).  ACIM is a Course and often refers to its curriculum.  From many passages in ACIM, it is clear that the Holy Spirit is the Internal Teacher, the Teacher to which the Course refers.  In one helpful example the Text says,  “Like any good teacher, the Holy Spirit knows more than you do now, but He teaches only to make you equal with Him” (T-6.V.1).

In A Course of Love (ACOL), the purpose is, “rather than being one of finding meaning, is one of coming to know through relationship. It is in coming to know through relationship that you come to know your Self” (C:27.3).  ACOL speaks often of the Unity of Self and the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).  In the Treatise on the Personal Self it says, “But again let me remind you that the Holy Spirit is not other than who you are but an aspect of who you are and Who God Is”  (T3:17.6).

As we can easily see, while the approaches may be different, the two Courses have very similar purposes.  Both seek to help people discover the presence of the Divine within themselves and within ALL.  Through learning, exercises, observation, Self-reflection, being and revelation they both use the familiar to point us toward the previously unseen, toward the Unity of God as the Infinite inclusive whole, of which Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Self (you, me and all of us), as well as all of creation, each seem to be a part… but also the whole.

I have heard it said that some Christians have such reverence toward scripture that, despite the commandment not to worship idols, they almost treat the Bible as the fourth member of the trinity.  I think that much the same can be said of ACIM and ACOL students.  Like many religious groups, sometimes ACIM and ACOL students and teachers, focusing upon differences and comparisons, lose sight of all that they have in common.  At such times I wonder if aren’t mostly caught up again in ego and illusion, forgetting to look in the direction the Courses point out for us.  There is a helpful analogy/exercise from Zen Buddhism in which we should imagine someone pointing with a finger toward the moon. This is to remind us that the teaching (the finger) is not the Truth (the moon), it is merely something familiar to point the way toward something that seems unfamiliar in our current state of being. The language and other symbols used within limited consciousness are merely fingers pointing toward the Infinite/Eternal/Truth.

Before the Beginning…

Haystack Walk, Canon Beach, Oregon, Taken by Barry Cosme, Copyright (c) 2012, All Rights Reserved

True Unity is infinite and eternal,
without limitation of any kind
and therefore beyond measurement,
without beginning or ending.

Before the beginning
of the first universe
of matter-energy and space-time
there was only Unity.

Within the finite universe
of matter-energy-space-time (MEST)
the infinite and eternal
seems impossible.

Thus within MEST
permanence and continuity
likewise seems impossible
for all matter and energy
have boundaries
where they start and stop
in space and time.

To perceive within
the finite universe,
where everything is limited,
consciousness also
must limit itself.

Limited consciousness,
by definition,
is not fully conscious
but only aware
within a part of space
during a portion of time.

From this limited perspective
impermanence and discontinuity
seem to make loss possible
and thus fear is born.

With loss
comes grief,
pain
and death.

Yet, how can
infinite and
eternal Unity
really become divided
and separated?

That which seemed
to create the impossible
and become impossible itself
beyond all appearances
is still as it always
was, is and will be.

To think that we can have
a relationship outside
of Love
is an illusions,
a fantasy
because the purpose
of relationship
IS Unity.

Not only does the Truth set us free,
understanding Truth
allows us to realize
that the untrue
is a momentary
and minuscule
illusion of existence
which was not,
is not
and never will be.

The Fall from Unity and the Ascent…

Roman Forum, Rome, Italy, Taken by Barry Cosme, Copyright (c) 2012, All Rights Reserved

Here is an interesting idea:  Instead of the Infinite and Eternal Unity of Love, Let’s make a universe composed of finite parts so that form can exist separate from God and His/Her Children.  Separation is necessary so I can choose parts from which I (this new concept of my-separate-self) will remain distant and parts which will be exclusively mine.

Separation breeds fear of loss in this universe since what I can own exclusively, to the detriment of others, can also be taken by others, to the detriment of me.  Games of seeking such special and exclusive relationships with these parts, loosing them and doing it all over again… with the same of different parts, in the same or different circumstances, with the same or different others, in the same or different ways… can seem to occupy a vast length of time.

In the midst of this madness, a new idea forms.  What if we forgive ourselves and others for the fear and damage that seemed to occur in these games.  This idea is a seed for the recognition that there is something we had forgotten in our lust for things, circumstances and activities.  As this seed grows, we hear the distant call of One that reminds us of the infinite and eternal value of Love and the Unity it creates.

 

 

Inside-Out and Backwards

The Peace That Transcends Human Understanding, Christmas Ship Performance, Kirkland, Washington, Taken by Barry Cosme, Copyright (c) 2016, All Rights Reserved

As humans, I believe we see the world somewhat inside-out and backwards.  We tend to conceive of inside as essentially emptiness and at the same time we perceive a vast “reality” outside.

When Jesus proposed the radical idea that the Kingdom of Heaven was within us, I believe he was trying to turn around the way we see ourselves and the world.  If the ultimate reality of the infinite and eternal is within us, then the external world is something less, something temporal and finite.

Unity With Enmity is a Paradox!

Morning Rose, Kirkland, Washington, Taken by Barry Cosme, Copyright (c) 2005, All Rights Reserved

Love involves closeness,
which is an impulse toward unity.
So how do we love All,
even our enemies?
How can love become close
to someone who repels us and others?

Love also involves looking
beyond mere appearances
for the true, the essential, the eternal.
Love beholds
the apparent enemy
and sees the ultimate friend within.

Love draws close
to the love within the other
until eventually
the other beholds their own truth.
Thus is enmity
dispelled by unity.

 

New Life’s Resolution

Monet’s Water Lilly, Giverny, France, Taken by Barry Cosme, Copyright 2016, All Right Reserved

Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, why not a New Life’s Resolution or a New Resolution of Life?

Find Unity…
with God;
with all people;
with all beings;
with all fauna and flora;
with the Earth;
with all things (sub-atomic through universal in size);
in all arrangements;
in all relationships;
in all thoughts;
in all actions;
in all events;
at all times;
regardless of any apparent loss for, or damage to, self;
regardless of insults received;
regardless of persecution;
regardless of any apparent circumstances or reasons to the contrary.

Virtuality – Virtual Reality

Digital Image – Engagement Ring Eclipse, Madras, Oregon, August 21, 2017, Taken by Barry Cosme, Copyright (c) 2017, All Rights Reserved

In pursuit of the realization of Spirit, let us consider the digital world.  When we watch a movie these days we may be moved to tears or even become awestruck.  Yet, have we considered that what is on the screen is probably based solely upon combinations, arrangements and sequences of zeros (0s) and ones (1s).  These two digits, representing off and on, nothing and something, can be processed by computers to create an illusion so thorough that it may seem like a virtual reality.

This brings up some questions for me.  Given the convincing nature of these illusions, would it be possible to create an illusionary reality that we could not distinguish from the physical/material world that we think of as real?  What if this has already been done?  Could it be that the physical/material world actually is such an illusion?  If we are not able to distinguish between virtuality (virtual reality) and reality, how can we say which is which?  What if the seeming shades of gray and apparent shades of meaning we perceive in the world really just come down to 0s and 1s at a subatomic level?  We perceive all sorts of objects, spaces, energies, etc. yet at its most fundamental level, what if it is an illusion not much different than a superb movie or virtual reality game?  What if all the apparent things, circumstances and event are just combinations, arrangements and sequences of: “thing” (like some ultimate subatomic energy-particle) and “no-thing” (space or void).  That sounds a lot like ones and zeros to me.

Relationships

Anticipating a Waterway Adventure, Venice, Italy, Taken by Barry Cosme, Copyright (c) 2009, All Rights Reserved

It appears that we have made false distinctions with regard to relationships so that we believe in and see a variety of relationships when if truth there is only one.  Relationship is connection and the essence of connecting is love.  Love is the connector, the connection and the connected.  Each relationship is a reflection of Unity, the relationship of All with All.  When the purpose of relationship is unity, this relationship is a Holy Relationship.  It is Holy because it represents a decision for unity, the oneness of All.  When the purpose of some supposed “relationship” is otherwise, it is an illusion because separation of any sort is not connection, love and/or unity.  These illusions give the impression of degrees of connection and kinds of relationships.