Well, that wasn't something I thought I would ever write, but it's true I am a student of A Course In Miracles. Through the recommendation of my good friend Estella, I purchased the book last year. It had been calling to me, but I wasn't quite ready to answer it. It is said to be a channeled book from Jesus. That alone would make someone go hmmmm. It's not that I don't believe in channeling, I have read enough and listened to enough to understand that it is possible, anything is possible. And throughout this spiritual journey I have kept my mind open. But Jesus? That's pretty big! Over 2.2 million copies have been sold worldwide since its publication in 1976, and a majority of the spiritual teachers I follow refer often to the Course, so there must be something to it.
After holding on to the book for a few months without reading beyond the preface. I just wasn't sure how to use the Course. I felt a bit intimidated. There are three sections to it, the Text, the Manual for Teachers, and the Workbook. The Text has over 600 pages. the Workbook has 365 lessons. While pondering when I would actually start this, and if I would even be able to understand what I was doing, as usual, the answer came. Hollie Holden announced on her Facebook page that she was going to start the Presence of Love Study Group to study A Course In Miracles. I joined right away, and the first lesson was to begin January 1st. It has been a beautiful introduction to the course. Hollie is just so lovely and she gives a daily live lesson on Facebook. She's in the U.K., so I listen to her after the live broadcast, but it is still just as powerful. The group has grown to over 850, with members from all over the world. Any member of the group can post on the page for guidance and support, as well as leave messages of kindness and love. It is a safe place to bare your soul and not feel judged. The lessons can bring up quite a bit of feelings, so it is so helpful to have a supportive group who understands.
Today I am on Lesson 93. I read two pages of text a day, so I will complete that part by the end of the year along with the lessons. I spend 20-30 minutes listening to Hollie's lesson, another 15 minutes reading the text and lesson, and then 15-20 minutes of meditation. This may sound like so much time, but it isn't. I listen to Hollie's video lesson while I'm still in bed trying to wake up (sometimes at the gym when I'm riding the bicycle), I read while I'm drinking my morning coffee and eating breakfast, and I was already meditating every morning anyway. The lesson is also practiced throughout the day. Honestly, I do get busy, so the lesson isn't always practiced throughout the day! I do what I am able to, but the messages are still sinking in. I intend to follow this through for the year and see where it takes me.
In the beginning I had ups and downs. I definitely had doubts about the whole idea of this. I moved away from organized religion because I didn't feel connected to it. I felt on the outside looking at something I could never be good enough, or perfect enough to feel welcome. Spirituality has felt more all inclusive. There were parts of the readings that have brought me back to that religious feeling. I felt like I was being told to follow this way, as it's the only way. I hadn't felt close to Jesus in a long time as well. I felt a block, a disconnect. I know I created it, but I'm not really sure why. I know it bothered me that I felt like religion was teaching me that the only way to God was through Jesus. I kept thinking, I can talk to Him any time I want to, I don't need to go through Jesus! It felt like another pressure that I had to do things a certain way or I couldn't be close to God.
Heading into my fourth month of the Course. I feel differently, my heart is opening. I am feeling a change through this daily practice. The Course is a return to love, a return to God. It is an undoing of the destructive thoughts of the ego. It is about true forgiveness of oneself and others. It is the realization that our judgments are blocking us from true vision. Have you ever had this image in your mind of what someone was all about, then got to know them and realized you had made up a story in your mind? Apparently, that's what we are doing constantly. This new journey at times been challenging and fascinating. It has shown me that when I look at another, they are serving as a mirror. How I react to them is mirroring back something that I need to know about myself. When I am being judged, it is a reflection of the one doing the judging and vice versa when I am judging. The truth is, we are all One. Judgment, anger and hatred is not of love (God), it is of fear.
There is no separation, even though it may appear that way. We are also all a part of God (or Source, Divine Mind, or whatever feels right to you). It can be hard to fathom this when there appears to be so much chaos, evil, narcissism, and hatred going on in the world. But I'm not speaking of the choices of a warped ego, I am speaking of the soul. We are a soul in human form, not a human with a soul. And God loves us unconditionally despite our perceived wrong doings. I know this may dredge up so much of how we have been treated poorly, abused, or judged. It definitely brought it all up to the surface for me. Through the lessons, I realized how much of my time was consumed with the same grievances for the same people or situations day after day after day. This Course is about forgiveness, and that probably is what really kept me from it. I am a work in progress, but the book is helping. What I can say at this point, is it feels much better to let go and forgive, than to hold on to anger and resentment.
I am not at all suggesting to hang out with the person who harmed you. I am not saying to commend those in the world who do not have the kind and inclusive beliefs you do. If there is a part of you that can suspend the story you've been telling yourself about the other person (family member, friend, boss, political figure, etc.) and imagine that there is something deeper that you hadn't considered that caused them to be who they appear to be, would saying a prayer for their return to love be so hard to do? The thing is, not only can that silent blessing change them, it changes you. That is what it is for, to free you.
And how much do we judge ourselves? We are One, we are the same Divine souls that everyone else is. This prayer by a Benedictine nun sums it up quite perfectly:
help me to believe
the truth about myself-
no matter how beautiful it is!
In Gratitude & Love,