inevitability of Jesus’ return is a subject not often touched upon in
sophisticated circles. Until recently, it was a subject only for the
theologically inclined or those intoxicated by recent religious
conversion. Since September 11th, however, the theme of
salvation suddenly has a topical relevance. In light of the personal
devastation we have all shared, many are asking how there possibly could
be an All-Powerful, All-Loving God. A few, on the other hand, citing an
obscure blue and gold book are asking an even more disturbing question, if
there is an All-Powerful, All-Loving God, how can the world we see be
real?” These in ever increasing numbers are saying that A Course In Miracles,
and the personal transformation activated therein is evidence enough to
herald the Second Coming.
In 1965, a
Voice claiming to be Jesus of Nazareth began speaking to Columbia
University psychology professor, Helen Schucman. With gentle authority,
the Voice insisted, “This is a Course In Miracles. Please take notes.” For
seven years, Helen Schucman scribed the material known today as
A Course In Miracles.
A number of best-selling authors and new age gurus including Jerry
Jampolsky and Marianne Williamson owe their fame to the principles of love
and forgiveness contained in A Course In Miracles. But despite its
phenomenal beginnings, A Course In Miracles today is relegated to
the bottom shelf of most bookstores, forgotten in others, and has lost its
appeal on the television talk show circuit. That is, until a small band of
activists took up the Course as their cause.
Before I go
any further with this story of my personal encounter with the Course,
I’d like to tantalize the reader with the same mind-boggling experiment
given to me by these miracle teachers as they called themselves. They
asked me to suppose for a moment that as is claimed by the Voice in the
book, Jesus really did author A Course In Miracles. “If that were
true,” they inquired, “and I knew it, how would I view it?” I considered
the question. “Well, I’m not a practicing Christian,” I mused. “But if
Jesus really authored the Course, I would have to be impressed.
Clearly, it would be a miracle. I’d run out, buy it and ingest every
word.” “It would be the greatest story in the history of mankind.” I
paused. “Well, second, I guess, to the story of the resurrection, which I
might just have to re-consider as fact.” “But who could believe such a
story. It’s akin to ouija boards. Come on, Jesus as a ghostwriter.
you won’t believe the Messenger, how about just looking at the Message?”
They had me, these miracle teachers. They had demonstrated to me in my own
mind the potential magnitude of this event, if, in truth, Jesus was the
author of the Course. I had to proceed further, out of sheer
curiosity. “Just take a look at the introduction,” they requested.
“It’s just a few lines.” So, I looked.
This is a
course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it
is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the
curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a
given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for
that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the
blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural
inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is All-Encompassing
can have no opposite.
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.
hiccupped. The opposite of love is
fear, but what is All-Encompassing can have no opposite. My brain felt like it had been put into a
blender and put on “liquefy”. It was whirling. How could my reality be
so contradicted by Truth? And, yet this Voice, speaking so simply was
obviously expressing the clarity of vision of a mind unencumbered by
threat. Clearly, if there is an “All-Encompassing”, any reality I
justified as intimidating could not be so. I was being asked to question
all my premises based on fear and there seemed to be plenty of them. What
about the “me” who was uncomfortable making conversation with strangers at
cocktail parties? What about the “me” who was afraid nothing I ever wrote
was good enough? What about the “me” who was afraid to be late, or to get
sick, or to say “no” to my best friend? What about my “justifiable” fears
like disasters, terrorists, pain, or murder? Nothing real can be threatened.
I thought about it, the only “me” I know is the one making decisions based
on whether or not I feel safe or comfortable. You mean, none of me as I
know myself is real?!
this Course In Miracles anyway?
investigative spirit had been sparked. But more than that, a place deep
within me, had been quickened, a place long scarred over by “professional
skepticism” and repeated personal disappointment. It was the poignant
place in me that yearns for Truth, that knows of “something else”, that is a persistent feeling, sometimes not
more that a tiny throb, at other times hardly remembered, but surely
returns to mind again and again.
In the Course’s introduction, I had remembered an echo of my
heart’s desire. I decided to check out these miracle teachers and their
Course under the guise of investigative reporting.
at the Wisconsin campus of Endeavor Academy on an early spring afternoon.
Driving to Lake Delton, I was bombarded by billboards trumpeting the
thrills of water parks and the family fun of miniature golf. Who would
have thought to locate an academy of spiritual transformation near the
birthplace of the Ringling Brothers Circus and the tourist mecca of
Wisconsin Dells? Then, I saw the irony. “How appropriate,” I thought.
“I’ll be divested of my illusion in the heartland of illusions!” As I
took my luggage to my room I could hear the eclectic cacophony of a number
of languages being spoken. I could recognize German, Italian, Spanish,
French, Dutch, and what sounded like Polish. And there were obviously
different versions of English being spoken as well. It was clear I had
walked into an international tower of babble. And, a happy one at that.
Everywhere I looked there were welcoming smiles, laughter and arms raised
afternoon, in an orientation of the premises, I wandered into the Academy
library. Although small by college library standards, the variety and
depth of material about enlightenment in all traditions was astounding.
The bookshelves bulged with metaphysical treatises by Christian heretics,
Eastern masters, and new age spiritualists.
were drawn to a volume entitled “The Perennial Philosophy” and I began to
scan Aldous Huxley’s anthology of mystical utterances. I was struck by
the universality of the metaphysical experience that resurfaces throughout
all time, and that traverses a broad spectrum of cross-cultural
recipients. Whether the words emanated from a Sufi saint, a Zen or
Mahayana Buddhist, an Indian guru, a Taoist, a Moslem, a Hindu, or a
Christian mystic, I sensed the fabric of eternity within our tapestry of
time. I hear the timeless words of the mystics, and I am reminded again
of the Course’s Introduction, This is
a required course and of my own infant transcendental moment that
brought me on this search to remember the divine Reality behind the world
of things. Apparently, I am in good company.
a miracle had brought me here?
that afternoon, while filling out my registration, I had a long talk with
Wolter and Nohra, two of the Admissions Office Staff. Wolter is a jovial
radiant Dutchman with a chuckle like Santa Claus. Nohra, his wife, laughs
with an enthusiasm born of conviction. I asked Nohra what was going to be
my favorite question, “What is this place?” “Endeavor Academy is an
academy for teachers of A Course In Miracles, she replied. “Its
purpose is the same as that of the Course itself, to bring you
enlightenment through the transformation of your mind.”
there is a big idea. What does it mean?”
quoted the Course. Enlightenment is but a recognition not a change
at all. “I think I’ll let Jesus explain
further. He expresses it better than I do," she said, “and certainly more
beautifully. She picked up the fabled blue and gold book and began to
light that makes true vision possible is not the light the body's eyes
behold. It is a state of mind that has become so unified that darkness
cannot be perceived at all. And thus what is the same is seen as one,
while what is not the same remains unnoticed, for it is not there.
is the light that shows no opposites, and vision, being healed, has power
to heal. This is the light that brings your peace of mind to other minds,
to share it and be glad that they are one with you and with themselves.
This is the light that heals because it brings single perception, based
upon one frame of reference, from which one meaning comes.
read, the revelation born of truth emanated from these words and
overwhelmed me. It expressed an unworldly point of view not found in
normal human correspondence. Again, I was reminded of my response to the
Introduction to the Course. The throb had returned, right in the
pit of my stomach and my head was reeling again. I felt like Keanu Reeves
playing Neo in The Matrix. I had swallowed the red pill and there was
nothing I could do about it.
looked at me brightly and explained further. “The nature of Reality is
Thought. Everything is only your idea of it. The Course teaches total
responsibility for what you perceive. This realization permits you to
change, in an instant, perception in its entirety. Self-responsibility is thus the catalyst to
the experience of transformation that is the mind-training program of A
Course In Miracles. That revelation is practical, very sacred, and
very emotional. It changes the entire way I see the world. The Course
does not seek to change the world but through our individual acts of love
and forgiveness to change the mind that perceives the world. Jesus says it
simply this way: To free the world
from every kind of pain is but to change your mind about yourself.
to the two of them, I realized this assignment had just gotten very
personal. I saw in these few minutes how my perception of my world had
been edited by my own fear of fear. I saw how I had imprisoned myself and
everyone around me by an elusive and unexpressed anxiety. I was beginning
to feel very exposed.
evening I sat with a group of other students over a vegetarian pasta
dinner. Making conversation, I asked Philly, “What is this place?” She
paused. As I watched her, something happened and I was not prepared for
the depth of her answer. I felt the intimacy of a memory rise up in her.
Her eyes began to water behind her glasses and she spoke with great
emotion. “A while before I came here, I was lying in a hospital bed. The
next day I was scheduled to have my left breast removed. I was very
frightened and, perhaps for the first time, I prayed. In that moment, a
miracle occurred. I knew, no matter what appeared to happen, I was going
to be all right. The next day, when I woke from the anesthesia, the
surgeon leaned over me and told me the news. He had found nothing. There
was no tumor. He called it a mistake, an aberration, a poor diagnosis. But
he never considered the possibility it had been a miracle. You ask ‘what
is this place?’ This is a place where miracles are recognized. I had told
no one here of my healing. Yet, the first day I was here, the Master
Teacher looked at me and said, ‘here is an association who had cancer of
the left breast and decided not to.’ This is a place, a new continuum of
time where suffering and pain cannot exist. It is a continuum where you
and I see the Truth in each other.”
Needless to say, that night I
retreated to my room, my heart brimming with the infinite possibility of
the miracle and my mind conflicted with the cynicism of an idea too good
to be true. I curled up on my bed and began to read the masterpiece known
as A Course In Miracles.
Presented as a self-study
program, the format of the Course is a workbook of daily lessons, a
text, and a teacher’s manual. Proclaiming to offer a primer of how
enlightened mind works, the Course purports to activate our memory of our
Divine Inheritance through our individual application of the psychology of
self-responsibility and the art of forgiveness.
The stated purpose of the
workbook is to: train your mind in a systematic way to a different
perception of everyone and everything in the world… The very nature of
true or enlightened perception is that it has no limits. It is the
opposite of the way you see now. True perception is the means by
which the world is saved from sin, for sin does not exist. And it is
this that true perception sees.
This is clearly a radically
different paradigm of the world. I gave up trying to understand for the
moment and closed my eyes. As I drifted off to sleep my heart was flooded
with a nostalgic longing, for what I did not know. Yet, in the yearning,
it was fulfilled and I felt contentment from a past long unremembered.
In the morning, I prepared for
session. This is the single event of the day that everyone at Endeavor
Academy-- teachers, students and guests, --all share. At breakfast, I met
with my “guide”. James is an Irishman turned Australian, who still retains
a hint of the blarney in the twinkle in his eye. I was interested in “the
Master Teacher” spoken of by Philly, the night before. “Who is he?” I
James turned serious and spoke with a quiet, authoritative certainty. “The
Master Teacher is a teacher of awakening. He is an introduction to the
dynamics of the transformative process profiled in A Course In
Miracles. As a whole expression of Universal Communication, Master
Teacher is a catalyst to the stimulation and acceleration of your own
Jim’s voice became low and personal. “As an awakened teacher, Master
Teacher transmits the energy of Resurrected Mind. He demonstrates through
your own personal experience the healing essence of Light as the
transformative factor of your Mind.” Through him, I have recalled that
vibratory resonance And through his expression of A Course in Miracles,
I have remembered myself as the Light Jesus proclaimed me to be. My
recognition of the Master Teacher has been the divine recognition of my
Self and everyone around me.”
listened, but could barely pay attention because I had become liquid
Light. The whirling I had experienced earlier had coalesced into a single,
indescribable blending with everything around me. I was being lifted
somehow through myself and propelled into the universe. I experienced no
fear, only awe and tremendous gratitude. Jim continued speaking:
“The Course and its
awakened teachers are a vibratory call that resounds to the personal
remembrance of your own mastership through revelation. This is a teaching
of initiation, or the determination of an individual mind to come to its
own whole universal self. It is the transitional passage from time to
eternity, a personal adventure, and a required course for the completion
of man’s inevitable metamorphosis to his natural enlightened condition.”
Our talk was interrupted by a
great excitement. The Master Teacher was arriving.
I looked around the session
facility. The room was filled with about 300 people of all ages, races,
nationalities, and economic background. “What could attract such an
all-inclusive diversity of human form,” I thought. There were resounding
laughter and a spontaneous rising of arms as the Master Teacher entered
the room. At that point, my focus shifted from the figure in the room to a
compelling force of energy surging through me. I remembered one of the
phrases Nohra had read to me the day before from the Course. “True light that
makes true vision possible is not the light the body's eyes behold.”
I was swept by an imperative of integration that was physical, emotional
and intellectual. I lost my reference of myself as an objective entity
separate from the room and others around me. It
is a state of mind that has become so unified that darkness cannot be
perceived at all. And thus what is the same is seen as one, while what is
not the same remains unnoticed, for it is not there.
I was in love, of love, and from love.
In the background of my mind, the
Master Teacher was relating the thought system unlocked by the Course with
the tenets of Mind espoused by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount. As a
man thinketh so doth he perceive. The experience of eternal life
demonstrated by Jesus in His Resurrection, maintained the Master Teacher,
is the same truth advocated by quantum physicists in their recognition of
the unreality of observed form. I saw that the Master Teacher was speaking
of the very experience of integration of which I was, in that moment in
joyous awareness. “There is no world,” the Master Teacher was saying
emphatically. My experience confirmed this outrageous statement. I was in
the world but not of it. I was sharing a vibratory pitch of energy that
was so inclusive the separate nature of the world that I had known
disappeared. I was One with the Universe. My kingdom is not
of this world. All the Biblical phrases of the New Testament were rushing
back into my agnostic mind with the reverberation of Truth.
I began to see that this tiny
band of activists was right. The Second Coming was at hand. Jesus wasn’t
reappearing as an objective form outside of me. He was reappearing as me
in my Self-realization of the Singular Reality of God. In a single instant
of revelation, Christianity’s idea of atonement reconfigured in my mind as
the experience of at-One-ment I was having. In A Course In Miracles,
the miracle of His
Return was being played out in a remarkable story of individual
transformation to Wholeness--my story.
that moment, a hand touched my shoulder and I was aware that the Master
Teacher was speaking through me. I was being lifted beyond all thought and
conceptual articulation. As I “left”, I heard the invocation of my baptism
in Light. “Glad is the hand of the Father extending His Love to His Son”
and I was Glad.
by Glad Hancock