8/19/13

Navigating the invisible seas of spirit

A Course in Miracles is without doubt the greatest self-contained work on practical esoteric Christian mysticism of the 20th Century to first appear in the English language. Its influence is rivaled only by the collected writings associated with the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff from the first half of the last Century, but most of those works are available to English speakers only in translation. A notable exception is Maurice Nicoll's collected works published in Psychological Commentaries On the Teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.

A Course in Miracles (ACIM) was originally published in multiple separately bound volumes. The first limited commercial printing of the Course was in four paper-bound volumes, known as the Criswell edition, in 1975. The next commercial printing in 1976 consisted of three hardbound volumes, in alignment with the principal divisions of the work into an explanatory and largely theoretical Text, the practical implementation of the ideas through daily spiritual exercises in the Workbook for Students, and a third smaller treatise called the Manual for Teachers.

By any measure the combined work collectively known as A Course in Miracles represents a large and challenging piece of reading material. The ideas presented are difficult to accept and the presentation is abstract. A Course in Miracles has the reputation, and deservedly so, of being a difficult read.

For this reason, among others, numerous authors have published many books attempting to explain the material in a less onerous fashion. Many people are drawn to the secondary explanations at the expense of neglecting the original.

This is understandable. Every book written about A Course in Miracles is easier to read than is A Course in Miracles itself. The general idea is, I suppose, to first gain a simplified grasp of the material before undertaking the difficult job of studying the original. But, there is considerable risk involved by proceeding in this way.

First, it has happened that erroneous ideas about the teaching of A Course in Miracles are accepted and take root in the mind of the student in a way that is difficult to dislodge.

Second, the student never actually gets around to the study of the Course itself.

This is not to suggest the many and varied books about A Course in Miracles lack value. This is not the case, but their value lies in supplementing a student's study of the Course. Care must be taken to avoid using the secondary materials as substitutes for the original.

Reading the original material is categorically different from reading second-hand interpretations and opinions. It is different is a way that cannot be easily explained.

The intricate and sometimes seemingly convoluted connectedness between all the various ideas contained within A Course in Miracles cannot be expressed explicitly, but they must be discovered through experience, practice, and effort. The fewer the filters injected between the original and the student, the greater is the possibility for latency.

-  oOo   -

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

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