About A Course in Miracles
Carol Tallon, www.CarolTallon.com
The original text was delivered by Professor Helen Schucman and Professor William (Bill) Thetford, both professors of Medical Psychology at Columbia University back in the 1970’s. I am using the term ‘delivered’ as neither took credit for being the authors, but rather, Helen was the channel for the work, assisted by Bill.
If it is of interest, I recommend that you watch this YouTube video that gives a bit of personal and professional background on both professors. By their own admission, neither was a believer; they were not living particularly spiritual lives. In fact, their relationship was described as being far from harmonious. But perhaps therein lay the potential…
Together, they set out to find an alternative way for their academic department to co-exist without the “aggressive and angry” attitudes that were, at that point in time, being reflected. As it transpired, A Course in Miracles was and is that way.
In the Preface
A Course in Miracles is a way to find your own inner teacher.
While it is blatantly Christian in statement, it deals with universal spiritual themes. It aims to reverse thoughts, to bring us through a journey of unlearning so that we might get to our state at the time of our creation.
The book is comprised of three parts: Text; Workbook for Students; Manual for Teachers. The text is broken down into 27 chapters, which I will summarise over the next month. Please note that the summaries and any interpretations are personal to me and another reader will surely have another interpretation. I am interested to hear other interpretations and I would hope that by approaching A Course in Miracles in this way – regularly and through the ExplosiveSpirit.com website – it will lead to a discussion among readers of the text.
Upon reading of the text in its entirety, the workbook has 365 lessons, one for every day of the year. A year of miracles, how amazing does that sound? The text asks that you suspend judgment as you apply the lessons. The course is a beginning only, not an end in itself.
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.
Truth versus Perception:
Truth is unalterable, eternal and unambiguous. It can be unrecognised but it cannot be changed.
Perception is learned rather than given, selective in its perceptual emphases, unstable in its functioning and inaccurate in its interpretation.
Knowledge is truth. Truth and perception are two distinct thought systems, opposite is every respect. Perception leads to perpetual conflict within ourselves and with our higher power, whether you believe that to be God or the Universe or some other entity.
We are living in a world of illusion; much of what we ourselves have created is simply not real.
“When you have been caught in the world of perception you are caught in a dream. You cannot escape without help, because everything your senses show merely witness to the reality of the dream”
We need to recognise our illusions without believing in them. To escape this dream world, we must reverse our thinking and unlearn our mistakes. This happens through forgiveness.
“Projection makes perception”. This refers to the truth as we see it, i.e. it is made true only by our interpretations.
We use perception to justify our own mistakes, our anger, our impulses to attack, our lack of love. We must learn to forgive, not because we are good or charitable beings, but because what we are seeing or perceiving is not true. We have distorted the world by our twisted defenses and are seeing what is not there. We need to recognise and look past or forgive our errors in perception. By forgiving others, we forgive ourselves.
As a lapsed Catholic, I have always had a difficulty with the word sin, as defined by those Catholic teachings. A Course in Miracles defines sin as “lack of love”. Sin is a mistake to be corrected, not a wrong-doing to be punished.
Our sense of inadequacy, weakness and incompletion comes from our perception of scarcity. This scarcity principle, or concept of lack, governs the whole word of illusion.
We seek in others what we feel is wanting in ourselves. We ‘love’ – but not in the true sense of the word – another in order to get something for ourselves. This is a mistake, for love is incapable of asking for anything.
“The ‘little I’ seeks to enhance itself by external approval, external possessions and external ‘love’. The Self that God created needs nothing. It is forever complete, safe, loved and loving.”
Therefore, real love has no needs and wants to join with others out of their mutual awareness of abundance.
Special relationships are too often destructive, selfish and childishly egocentric. Yet, they can, in truth, become the holiest things on earth; miracles and miraculous.
Each one can be the opportunity to let perceptions be healed and errors corrected. Each one is a chance to forgive oneself by forgiving the other.
Perception is a function of the body, that is, we see what our physical eyes and hear with our physical ears; truth abides inside each of us. It is a function of spirit. Often times, we struggle to hear and see the truth over our egos.
Under the law of Heaven, giving and receiving are the same. The only way to receive forgiveness is to offer it. Forgiveness is a necessary correction for all the mistakes we have made. Acknowledging good in others helps us to see it in ourselves. Forgetting all of our misinterpretations and with nothing from the past to hold us back, we can remember our higher power.
When we are ready God and the Universe will take the final step in our return to him and to love.
The word ‘victim’ has taken on a negative meaning over the past few decades.
Popular thinking is that you are either a victim or a survivor, however, Veritas Counseling in the US has now spoken out about ‘Parts Work’. This acknowledges each of us not as a singular being, but rather how we are made up of many parts – and these parts do not always respond to healing at the same time.
Above is the list of tenancies and behaviours that can be seen as people move (part by part) from the role of victim to survivor:
What do you think? Does this resonate with you at all..?
Spiritual awakening is not always gentle
Busy people with busy lives often miss or ignore signs from the universe telling them to look up, slow down, breathe and just be. If you miss the signs, the universe does not simply give up on you, it speaks to you in a way that you will understand; in a way that you cannot ignore. If you only understand shouting then the universe will shout at you.
When this happens, you will not need to ask the question ‘Was this an awakening?’ When this happens, it will physically rock your very core and you will be awake.
What is Spirituality in the modern age?
We need to stop looking outside of us. We need to stop chasing the picture of what we think a spiritual life looks like. The only effort on our part is to stop. Stop. Listen. Pay attention.
What is the universe trying to tell you?
The tradition of teaching and learning is strong in our quest for spiritual awakening. The need to find a guru, to follow a thought-leader, to seek guidance – and later, reassurance – from a ‘Master’ is natural. But none of these people, or books or studies can give you the answer you require. The answer you seek is already inside you. Masters and gurus, studies and research, these all have a single focus point, they will help you to ask the right questions of yourself. Knowing the right questions to ask, gets you closer to finding the answer for yourself, in yourself and by yourself. But for this you need clarity, and that, my friend, is what your search is really all about.
Understanding ego (with no capital ‘e’):
Fantasy, delusion, lies we tell ourselves – while these can be destructive, often times they are important and serve as useful tools for coping and self-preservation. But at some point we need to lose the crutch. At some point we need to stop fooling ourselves. Unfortunately, when we stop fooling ourselves, we look around and realise that we stopped fooling others some time ago. This is harsh. It is at this time that we really begin to judge ourselves and, when held up against the image of our former – but less authentic – selves, we will be found wanting.
This is a vulnerable time and a particularly difficult stretch on the path to spiritual awakening for most people. When we face up to reality we need to ensure that we are facing our true reality and not just accepting the projections of our family, our friends and of the people – albeit well-meaning people – around us.
The power of affirmations is a double-edged sword
Affirmations are another important tool, for use on ourselves or on others. But affirmations can work against us. They can help us accept with a situation that ought not to be accepted. They can help us cope with the status quo when, in reality, you deserve better. I deserve better. Sometimes, we have to say ‘No’. ‘No, I do not accept this current situation, or this current financial state or this deeply toxic relationship; Just no’. Affirming a situation gives it power, when in reality, what we need to affirm is our ability to make tough decisions and to take tough action. Affirm yourself ready for the challenge of taking that action. For example, it’s okay that it takes as long as it takes; it is NOT okay to do nothing about it.
Originally published on www.IrishCentral.com
I have never considered myself an emigrant. Yes, I have left Ireland at least three times in my life with the intention of working but I always left with the intention of returning to Ireland within a few years. On the first two occasions I returned to home soil within a few months. The first escape was to London and the few months spent double-jobbing below minimum wage motivated me to return to Ireland to study. Ten years later I tried again, this time with degrees and young daughter in tow, I made for the South of France. This move was an experiment in remote working, I was planning to work in the mornings, file work over the internet and spend the afternoons on the beach. It sounded perfect but my plan was not without it’s flaws, principally, I was running my own business in Ireland. Within a few weeks it was clear that my business was not ready for a remote owner/manager so we accepted our fate and – after an entirely pleasurable sojourn between Cannes and Monaco – we returned to Ireland. I threw myself in my business in Ireland throughout the economic crisis, however, foreign shores were calling and a holiday was never going to be enough. And that is how I found myself living in Spain with my daughter enjoying her transition year in a local school, which lurched precariously over the sea, learning Philosophy and Latin through French and Spanish. My work as a property writer and market commentator in Ireland and the UK continued remotely for a while but the unconsidered truth of the matter is that travel changes people. A new setting changes the mindset. Past goals become irrelevant and, little by little, our new home becomes us. Perhaps that it why so-called emigrants seek out the hidden Irish taverns down the side streets of foreign lands, to keep us from becoming a part of our current landscape for as long as possible; to ensure that we are wearing our Irish identity. Still, I did not consider myself or my daughter to be emigrants. With thanks to the technological advances of social media, video chats and message streaming, Ireland felt very close. Yes, Ireland felt very close, until I needed to be there…
One balmy Saturday evening, in our little corner of Spain where the desert meets the sea, I sat on the terrace, refilled my wine glass and relaxed into the view. “Jamie sent me a message, you have to contact John urgently”. It took me a moment to process what my daughter was saying; ‘Jamie’, ‘John’, ‘urgently’. Something was wrong at home. Within that moment I just knew. Of course it was bad, nothing good is talked about ‘urgently’.
I phoned my brother John, he only had to say a few words “It’s Dad. I’m sorry” I cannot remember the rest of the conversation, maybe we didn’t have one. None was needed. Dad was gone. In a single moment everything changed. I could not believe, I had seen him only two days earlier. He and my mother had spent 10 days with us in our adopted home of Spain, I had driven them both to the airport on Thursday evening. It didn’t feel like it could possibly be true.
I have always believed that every day brings with it moments that have the potential to change our lives but in my naivety, I did not understand what that meant, until now. Until that message.
The world has become more accessible in recent decades and this is a good, and important, thing for a small island nation. Spain is a three hour plane ride away from Ireland but at moments when your life is falling apart, that distance – or any distance – feels interminable. At 9pm on a Saturday night, I was in Spain when the place I needed to be was Ireland. Home.
Flights were arranged for the following day at 3pm, which felt like an eternity away. How could I not be in Ireland right now? How could my Dad not be there? How could everything be just gone? I cannot even remember that night. My teenage daughter, who was very close to my Dad, was distraught. There was no comfort and that three hour distance might as well have been interplanetary. There was no way home tonight and somehow it felt that when the world woke tomorrow, if this was real, home would no longer be home. The world would be different. This sense made me not want to sleep, as if by staying awake I could stop the sun rising and we would remain in this day, a day that my Dad had woken, and gardened and drank coffee and existed.
But morning came. Reality remained and a wave of numbness kicked in. And the numbness was a relief. It softened the feeling of being isolated. Not just emotionally, but geographically. I have been a single parent for most of my daughter’s life but that night was the most alone I have ever felt. I could not bring myself to contact friends, locally or in Ireland. I could not find the words to explain how life had changed, how this wonderful, strong, interesting man was just gone. There was no warning, no deteriorating health, no accident; he was gone. It was as simple and as confusing as that.
We got to the airport, a small, regional airport that services a handful of flights daily and we were hours early. As we entered the abandoned terminal, where not even the security personnel had taken up their posts for the day, the only other traveller was a man, who we presumed to be Irish due to his Tipperary GAA jersey. And a realisation came crashing down that I was standing in the place where where I had last seen my father. Where we had hugged our farewells and made plans for our next trip to Ireland and my parents’ next visit to Spain. If I had known that was going to be the last time I ever saw him alive, would I have said something different?
While at the airport I received a message from a cousin,whom I had not seen for many years. The message was a short one but one that was loaded with ‘journey back’. And she knew. Several years ago her mother had died suddenly. She too had gotten that sickening phone call, she too had to concern herself with comforting her children, while organising clothes and packing for home, for a funeral, just to get to the airport, the effort it takes to wait for the plane, the feelings of urgency to be home and perhaps she too felt the descent into the Irish airport as marking the end of a huge part of her life. I have often read that we only ever mature into full adulthood following the loss of a parent, perhaps this is true. Or more likely, we do not stop to think about what stage of life we are at because, up until this point the lucky ones among us have the unquestioned cushion of unconditional love and support.
Immediately after the funereal I contemplated moving back to Ireland as I thought that it would be the right thing to do, for my daughter and perhaps for my mother. ‘Home’ is not just about the economic opportunities and the price of houses. I wonder, do emigrants leaving their country and their family understand that if they stay away for a long period of time, it is very likely that they will be making this journey of sadness? Or worse, when that dreaded phone call comes, will they be able to make that journey home at all? The irrational guilt of having left hides somewhere in the back of the mind.
I realised that up until the moment my father died, I had only ever felt empathy but never before had I experienced grief. There is a hierarchy of grief, once there was someone closer to the deceased than you, the feeling is empathy not grief. Empathy is a selfless emotion whereas grief is incredibly selfish. There is a sheer indulgence with grief that you can try to fight but it will consume you; fighting only delays the inevitable. There will come a point when you have to give in, that might be for a private moment, or for a day or even a month but the way that I have come to think about grief is that it is like a tunnel that you have to go through. You might not know how long this tunnel will be when you enter but know this – there must be an exit to that tunnel. What lies that the other end will definitely be different to the life you know. And you will be different, but that’s okay. Just remember, a tunnel without a way out fast becomes a cave.
If I had known when was going to be the last time I ever saw my Dad, would I have said something different? Of course I would have said something different or at least something more, I would have said everything. I would held on so tight and never let go. But life is not like that, and death is not like that. Facts remain. For as long as I live, that little airport in the middle of Spanish nowhere will always be the last place I saw my Dad. This is now a part of my life story. This gives Spain a much bigger part to play within that story. And as more of my life evolves outside of Ireland, and less remains in Ireland, the word ‘Home’ loses some of it’s power. My home is now where I am with my daughter; but it is also where my mother is; and it where my friends and family are – right now, that is not any one country. Perhaps as the years roll on, nostalgia with exaggerate my Irishness and tug on my heartstrings, but today, this gap in my heart will not be filled by any place, but rather by rebuilding family relationships and redefining what ‘Home’ means to me.