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A Course in Miracles has emerged within our lifetime as an authoritative spiritual text. Yet what does it really say? In the Course' brief history, two comprehensive visions have been offered, each by respected teachers and organizations, each based on many years of personal dedication and scholarly investigation. One vision comes from Ken Wapnick and the Foundation for A Course in Miracles. The other comes from Robert Perry and his colleagues at the Circle of Atonement.
One might assume that these visions would differ only in the details, yet in fact they diverge dramatically, leading to different ways of approaching, understanding, and living the Course. These differences have naturally led to confusion for Course students. The purpose of this book is to clear up that confusion. It addresses how the two visions relate to each other, delineating both their similarities and their differences. It then goes on to explore the key differences, and how they impact the Course student's life.
A Staff for the Path
This is an excellent little glossary for some of the Course's more difficult terms and phrases. And let's face it, there are a bunch of them. You can't learn what you can't understand.
Robert Perry is one of the keenest minds focused on ACIM today. Just as importantly, he's one of the clearest writers. If you're already on the path of A Course in Miracles, or thinking of starting down it, invest in this companion book for the sake of clarity and gentle, lucid guidance.
Perry offers you definitions of not just what a term means within the teaching of the Course, but also what it means historically, conventionally and in Christianity. There's just no confusion; I still refer to it often.
The Course is a map to inner peace and fulfillment, to the actual experience of God here and now in day to day life. This key to that map is offered by someone who has been there before you and actually knows the Way.
As I've said in other reviews, my experience with Circle Publishing's books has been overwhelmingly positive. Their Workbook Commentaries are excellent and Path of Light is a great support book for students, would-be students and the simply curious. The value-per-dollar spent could hardly be tilted more in your favor.
Peace to you.
Henry Dickens & Co
Member, Antiquarian Book Dealers Association of South Carolina
"The recent book delineating your philosophy compared to Ken Wapnick's philosophy was such a U-turn for me. I am so grateful that you had the courage to write it. I had always assumed Wapnick was the main authority on the Course, yet consistently felt depressed and disengaged after reading him, but could not put my finger on why. Thank you so much for the clarity in that work. I need a present Jesus. But, at the same time, I do not want to fool myself with fairy tales in order to feel better. After reading One Course, Two Visions, I was able to finally sort this out and acknowledge that Jesus really is here with me. What a relief! I feel like a cloud has lifted and have been digging into the Course again, connecting with Jesus, my ever-patient friend. I want you to know I also appreciate how you continued to picture Wapnick as a holy brother, even given the differences and legal conflicts."
The White Rabbit was agitated as he ran down the rabbit hole.
"Oh dear, oh dear, we've lost the content of the Course!" he cried.
Alice replied: "I think we've lost the author as well."
"Thanks to the Circle for beginning to examine the issues raised by some of Ken Wapnick's theories about the Course. Here I would like to discuss briefly Ken's ideas about its source and content."
"According to Ken Jesus is an abstract presence of formless love. Defined in this way Jesus couldn't have designed and dictated the specific words of the Course. There is a dilemma here which Ken attempts to solve by defining the content of the Course, likewise, as formless love. He seems to see the words of the Course as simply equating with form and there is much talk of iambic pentameter, Shakespeare, psychological concepts and terminology known to Helen, etc. Nevertheless he never says outright that Helen composed the words because if he did surely we would have to conclude that Helen was the author. So we have a source of formless love and a content of formless love. Does this adequately describe the authorship and content of A Course in Miracles?"
"The Course is a lengthy, intricate, and closely argued teaching of considerable psychological and philosophical complexity. Among other things it delves, in grizzly detail, into the dynamics of the ego system. Ken Wapnick himself has emphasised the need for us to honestly examine the ego system and not to simply dwell on "love". Who gave us the detailed information about the ego system? In considering this question, and others like it, we see the need to consider what we really mean when we talk about the authorship and content of the Course."
"I submit, firstly, that the content of the Course consists of the ideas it sets forth - these ideas are transmitted by the words of the Course and the meaning they convey. I suggest that we can't divorce the words of the Course from their meaning and content, and whoever provided the words provided the meaning and content of the Course. This content is vast, and will be studied by students and scholars for generations."
"Secondly, I submit, that the person who dictated the words to Helen is quite unambiguous about his identity, his words, his authority, and his remaining with us to guide and help us through the dream. He simply does not conform to Ken's definition of him and as defined by Ken could have had no part in all of this. We may well ask who wrote the Course, because this theory doesn't tell us."
"The theory of formless love bypasses both the author, and the text Helen scribed. It fudges on the crucial issue of responsibility for the words, and is muddled on the distinction between form and content. It doesn't hold up as an account of the source and content of the Course."
"I just purchased your e-book delineating your differences with Wapnick. I found your argument entirely logical and convincing. Thanks for having guts to state your convictions. I'm afraid that I have been so influenced by Wapnick's teaching (even though I have always believed them flawed) that I have confused what the Course taught me with what I learned from Wapnick. So thanks for helping me to remember and to distinguish."
"Thanks, all of you, for the excellent work you're doing and for this illuminating commentary on the differences between your views and those of Ken Wapnick."
"I've been working with the Course now for about 15 years, and feel as though I am finally able to do a better job of doing the lessons! I need the repetition."
"From very early on I found that I/my ego was "bouncing off" things Ken Wapnick would write, with a feeling they were overly harsh, or made the task too hard for me, or placed God's love/the Holy Spirit's activity too far from where I was to help. Salvation as entering into union with God was OK conceptually, but I wanted help and release from the problems I faced daily in my life-illusion or otherwise."
"I thoroughly enjoyed the articles by Greg Mackie and Robert regarding the Circle's ACIM interpretation as compared to Ken Wapnick and FACIM. Many students of ACIM have been heretofore thoroughly confused by what are in fact fundamental differences, and I feel these clearly written articles are a wonderful remedy. I have personally heard criticism that even writing the articles is inherently judgmental and therefore an attack and I couldn't disagree more."
"As one might expect of a former board member of the Circle, I found myself lining up very solidly with our theoretical positions. Ken's radical non-dualism seems to lead him to many conclusions that simply do not make sense to me given the actual words of the Course on many issues. I think that it cannot be said enough however that these differences and their relative merits pale in importance to the reality that Ken is a dear brother in Christ with whom we are one, and that even on a human level, we are all indeed on the same team."
"I have always felt the presence of the Holy Spirit directly guiding and inspiring the Circle from its inception, of which I was gratefully a part. I am quite sure as well that the same thing is true of Ken Wapnick, et.al. It would be hard to dispute that Ken was not commissioned directly by the Holy Spirit and Jesus to be the first, and at least to date most influential disseminator of the core meaning of ACIM. I believe that Jesus has commissioned many people on this earth in the same way. All of those souls have unique gifts to give, and will incidentally communicate unique forms of misunderstanding, with no exception."
"In short, I feel that Ken's unique gift to the Course world is in fact his radical non-dualism, and I have the feeling that this propensity is why he was hired by Spirit to be the Course's first widely known interpreter. The world is not real. The little selves we made to people it are not real. Therefore, sin is not real. These truths are poison to the ego, and are the most potent antidote to its undoing. The world is literally built to reject this claim. I am thankful to Ken for a dogged, radical non-dualism that would permanently ground within the course world that most threatening of truths: that none of this is real and that therefore sin cannot be real. My threatened little ego always wishes to judge those who think differently than me. In spite of all however, anyone with the guts to make this bold claim in a culture built on the reality of sin and sacrifice is a friend of mine."
"Although the Circle has always strenuously emphasized the non-dual essence of ACIM, it has always promoted a qualified non-dualism, which I feel is very clear in the Course. There is a connection between Spirit and the material world. God does reach down to us within the dream in many direct and fundamental ways. What a depressing and demoralizing process the spiritual path would be if it were not so. I believe this recognition is one of the Circle's unique gifts to the Course world, and one which HS directly commissioned it to express. I'm sure its members have communicated understandings that reflect the lack of comprehension available to an awakened mind. Yet, the gifts will be given and received none the less. Almost all the arguments about what the Course actually says seem to occur in relation to how Spirit interacts (or doesn't interact) with the material world. The Circle has shown in my opinion singular courage in exploring this complicated and sticky area "where the rubber meets the road" as a friend of mine says."
"On the subject of Holy Spirit, if it helps a particular seeker to think of Him as a "memory" or even an abstract mathematical principle, so be it. I don't think He will be offended. Indeed, I believe He is capable of translating his message of oneness into mathematical formulae. But I think that as Greg says, the Course is very clear that He is a created being as is the Sonship and all its "aspects". He is the Almighty's proxy here, the "Comforter" promised us two thousand years ago by Jesus: A Comforter with intention and intelligence who knows every nuance of every thought; A Comforter intimately involved in human destiny, and therefore the forms of human destiny; A Comforter who will not only guide us but be a personal loving presence in our own minds if we let him.