I first encountered A Course In Miracles way back in 1985, when I was working at a metaphysical bookstore and was going through and familiarizing myself with the stock. One day, I was looking through the giant tome in-between customers, when I was suddenly called to wait upon someone. I shoved the book under the counter and went. Little did I realize that another worker came along behind me and put a bottle of Windex under the counter... on top of the book I had laid there. Of course, the glass cleaner leaked all over the book, which was a $40 book (back then). The owner of the shop was furious, because the book was no longer salable and forced me to buy the book - luckily at half-price. Then I was furious, because I had had no intention of purchasing the book and really wasn't interested in it, as all the "Jesus talk" really turned me off.
I took the soggy book home and was going to toss it, when my future ex-husband decided to try to salvage what he could. He blow dried the pages and taped the pages falling out back in. The book then sat on a shelf for nearly 10 years. When the future ex and I were splitting up, I impulsively chose to take the damaged book, even though I still wasn't interested in it - I wasn't into channeling or Christianity and I couldn't get past the language to see what else was between the covers.
After my divorce was final in 1994, I moved back into my parents house and found that my old high school best friend had also moved back into her mother's house, 4 houses away. In the 15+ years since we had last hung out, my old friend had also gone through many transformations and was currently very into Marianne Williamson. She loaned me some Marianne Williamson cassettes, but I told her at the time that I didn't like ACIM, but she assured me that I would like Marianne. So I agreed to give the tapes a listen, and by golly, my old friend was right.
Not only did I like Marianne Williamson, her insights (inspired by ACIM) were extremely helpful in my healing process. Marianne was able to translate the heavily Christian (or Christic, as Marianne likes to say) language into something I could better tolerate and understand, allowing me access to the inner message of ACIM without getting so hung up on the outer shell. Marianne Williamson is a Texas native of Jewish descent, very similar to my own background, so I was able to feel that she wasn't coming from an extremist place, but rather was espousing ACIM because it genuinely helped her spiritually and emotionally. Growing up one of the 2 Jewish kids in a heavily Baptist community, I had a huge chip on my shoulder as far as Christian prosletyzing goes, and Marianne was able to cut through my fears and resistance.
Unblinkingly honest, Marianne uses her own life to illustrate many of the insights and lessons of ACIM. She is able to clearly explain the principles that I found impenetrable on my first readings of the text. She often uses humor to get her point across in a way that is both challenging yet non-threatening. In the wake of my divorce, I found her talks about ACIM principles on relationships to be especially helpful.
I must confess that I like Marianne's live talks much better than I like her writing. I find her books, like the ACIM text itself, to be a bit dense and hard to get through. But her live lectures are inspiring and encouraging. When I discovered her, cassette tapes were the big thing. Now that day is long gone, but she still has a presence online, through FaceBook, YouTube and her own website, marianne.com, where her books and lectures can be ordered. She has written some 14 books (such as A Return to Love and A Woman's Worth) and has countless lectures available through Hay House.
I highly recommend her for those (like me) who can't take their ACIM straight up without a little translation. She is passionate and optimistic about the future of both our nation and this planet, but also realistic about the work we need to do in order to correct our trajectories both personally and politically. As someone highly sensitized to Christian heavy-handedness, I have never felt her to be judgmental or overbearing.
A Course In Miracles is one of those texts that blur the line in many regards. First of all, the author can be a bit sketchy, depending on where you are coming from. The text claims to have been authored by Jesus, channeled through Helen Schucman, assisted by William Thetford, and first published in 1965. It consists of the Text, Workbook and Manual for Teachers. The view presented in all three is consistently non-dual. The text begins:
"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God."
The text focuses on correcting errors in thinking and perception, as well as spending a lot of attention on relationships and healing. The Workbook has 365 lessons which take the student from wherever they may be to an experience of non-dual reality. ACIM says that all students are also teachers for those who are not as far along as they, and so the Manual for Teachers provides added insights and instructions.
As is often the case in things involving domesticated primates, there has been some bitter squabbling over the publishing of the tome, but that does not detract from the value and impact of its message.
The language can be somewhat off-putting, as I indicated above. But if you can hang in there and see past the words, the message and intent is truly insightful, beautiful and highly evolved. With Marianne's help getting past the language barrier, I found ACIM to be one of the mainstays of my spirituality. Since 1995, I have done the Course 5 times, and continue to keep my poor beat-up old copy by my bedside. I have found ACIM to be a valuable tool on my path and recommend it heartily to those who feel they are ready for a major spiritual de-bugging.
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