The Relationship Between the Circle’s Teachings and the Teachings Of Ken Wapnick

by Robert Perry & Greg Mackie

We at the Circle, particularly those of us who write for the Circle (Robert Perry, Allen Watson, and Greg Mackie), have for years been regularly asked by students to clarify the relationship between our teachings and those of Ken Wapnick. These students know that both Ken Wapnick and the Circle of Atonement seek to accurately represent the Course, yet they are also aware that we see the Course differently. This presents a confusing situation for students, many of whom regard both the Circle and Ken Wapnick as authoritative sources of teaching.

We have finally decided to address this issue, briefly in this newsletter and more fully in an upcoming book. What follows in this article will be a list of similarities and a list of differences between our teaching and Wapnick's. This list will not be exhaustive, but we have tried to make it as accurate as possible. It is difficult to summarize someone's views as briefly as we have here. To be as faithful as possible in representing Wapnick, we have frequently quoted his own words. Further, in areas where he teaches different (and seemingly incompatible) things, we have tried to capture his main emphasis. Introducing the list of similarities and the list of differences will be a brief account of where, in our view, those similarities or differences come from.

One more point: the purpose of this article is not to present reasoning and evidence in support of our views (which is why there are no Course references attached to our views below). In our book, One Course, Two Visions we explain and support our views more fully, but this article merely aims to present our views and Wapnick's views as objectively and neutrally as possible.

Similarities

The similarities between Wapnick's teaching and the Circle's seem to be the result of our both holding a common value: fidelity to the Course. Both of us strongly believe in honoring the Course as it is, sticking to what it says, not mixing it with other teachings, and not compromising its views just because they seem too radical or extreme. Both of us believe in trying to represent the Course purely, without distortion or dilution. The following are the main similarities we have identified:

  • There is only one reality, the oneness of Heaven. There is nothing outside of that.
  • The world, including the entire universe of space and time, is illusory.
  • The world is not the creation of God, but the projection of our insanity, the result of our attack on God.
  • The world of space and time is the result of the separation, an event in which one or more members of Heaven went insane.
  • Jesus is (in some sense) the author of the Course.
  • It is a crucial aspect of the Course's path to acknowledge the darkness of the ego's thought system; looking at and letting go of that darkness is vital to our salvation.
  • This letting go happens in forgiveness, which is the Course's central teaching.
  • Forgiveness takes place in the context of our interpersonal relationships.
  • The Course is an educational program (or curriculum) in spiritual awakening. It presents a process of learning, an "integrated curriculum, "[1] in which each volume plays a role.
  • The Text is the theoretical foundation of A Course in Miracles. Intellectual study of the Text is crucial for Course students.
  • The Workbook is for the purpose of practically applying the thought system we studied in the text, to train our minds "along the lines the text sets forth" (W-In.1:4).
  • The Course is written symphonically. It introduces themes, sets them aside, then reintroduces and develops them.
  • The Course is a unique, sufficient, and complete spiritual path. Mixing the Course with other teachings and methods generally clouds it and waters it down. It asks its students to practice its methods, rather than the methods of other paths. Yet it also asks them to honor those paths as other forms of the universal course.
  • Differences

    The differences (at least the significant ones) come down to a single issue: Should one interpret the Course as being primarily literal or primarily metaphorical? At the Circle, we approach it as primarily literal. We see it as a "course…that means exactly what it says" (T-8.IX.8:1). Though Wapnick uses this same quote to support his way of interpreting the Course, his main emphasis is quite different. He teaches that anything in the Course which implies what he calls "duality"—which amounts to the majority of the Course's language ("Jesus' teachings come largely within a dualistic framework"[2])—should be seen as a metaphor. What is duality? It is anything that seems to suggest that there are two realities: the oneness of Heaven and something else. Duality, as Wapnick treats it, seems to include the following ideas:

    • anything that suggests that God or Heaven is aware of the separation and responds to it
    • anything that seems to imply that the physical world is real
    • anything that seems to imply that engaging in certain forms or physical behaviors, or aiming at certain external results, yields salvation

    As you can see, all of these ideas at least couldbe taken to imply that there is something in addition to the oneness of Heaven. According to Wapnick, all passages that imply this must be reinterpreted in light of the Course's non-dualistic metaphysics, which says that the only reality is the oneness of Heaven. On the surface, those passages seem to speak of duality, but their real meaning (according to this view) is always non-dualistic. Therefore, we need to reach down beneath their surface to find an underlying meaning that can actually be the opposite of the surface meaning. "Taking the words of A Course in Miracles literally [can have] the result…that conclusions are drawn that are the exact opposite of what Jesus is actually teaching in his Course." [3]

    Oddly enough, therefore, that common value of fidelity to the Course takes off in two different directions. For the Circle, being "pure Course" means closely adhering to what the Course says. For Wapnick, it means closely adhering to those passages in the Course that express the pure truth, and then reinterpreting the rest of the Course's passages in light of that pure truth—in essence, "purifying" those passages. To simplify it further, in our approach all of the Course is "pure Course," while in Wapnick's approach only selected portions of the Course are "pure Course"—in the sense that only those portions openly express the pure truth which the Course is really teaching. These two different versions of fidelity to the Course quite naturally yield two different visions of the Course itself, as can be seen in the following series of contrasts.

    As you go through these contrasts, it will be natural to note where you agree with the Circle, where you agree with Wapnick, and where you agree with neither. We urge you, however, to try to keep an open mind as well. All of these issues should be decided in light of careful examination and exploration of what the Course itself teaches. As students of the Course we have all quite naturally formed our own ideas about its teachings, but these should ideally be open to being modified in light of what the Course itself says. No one's views are sacred. The primary allegiance of Course students, we believe, should not be fidelity to the Circle's views, to Wapnick's, or to their own, but to the Course itself.

    Heaven and the separation

    The Circle Ken Wapnick

    God can accurately be described as an infinite, formless Person (without the form and limits of what we normally call a person). The personal aspects of God that the Course describes—His fatherly care for us, His desire to lift us out of our painful sleep, His yearning for our awakening—are real. The Course may be using the language of our human experience to express something beyond our comprehension, but that "something" is really there.

    "The God of A Course in Miracles …is not a person and therefore has none of the anthropomorphic qualities of homo sapiens." [4] When the Course speaks of God's personal qualities, when it "speaks of God doing anything,"[5] for instance, it is telling us a "fairy tale,"[6] because we are still children. "You do not tell little children …that they do not have to be afraid since Daddy does not even know that they exist."[7]

    The separation occurs when God-created parts of the Son of God (called Sons) withdraw their awareness from the oneness of the Sonship and retreat into a private state of sleep, in which they dream of separation.

    The separation occurs when the one Son falls asleep. Only later does this one Son, in an attempt to elude expected punishment from God, split apart into many. "Then the Son of God—still unified as oneSon—[tries to] confuse his wrathful pursuer by fragmenting into billions and billions of pieces."[8]

    Each of us is one of these God-created parts or Sons. You experience yourself as a human being, but the "you" who is so convinced it is a human, the "you" who chooses (most of the time) to reinforce that conviction, is a Son of God, asleep in Heaven. The "you" to whom the Course is addressed is this sleeping Son of God.

    Each one of us "is an illusion," [9] a projected fragment of the one split mind. "We all are—including, we may add, the person we identify as ourselves—projected images of a split mind." [10] The one who makes our choices is the decision-maker, a part of our separated mind that is outside time and space. "The 'you' [to whom the Course is addressed] is the decision-maker." [11]

    God is aware that His Sons have fallen asleep. He knows that they are neither receiving His Love and joy nor extending them. He is not aware, however, of the specific content of their dream.

    God is not aware that His Son has fallen asleep. "A Course in Miracles'position…is that God does not even know about sin, separation, and the dream." [12] "If God knew about the 'tiny, mad idea,' it would have to be real." [13]

    God responds to the separation by creating the Holy Spirit in order to awaken His Sons.

    God does not create the Holy Spirit; He knows of no reason to do so. "God, strictly speaking, does not truly 'give' an Answer—the Holy Spirit—to the birth of the thought of separation." [14]

    God hears our prayers and answers every one. He does so through the Communication Link He set up: the Holy Spirit. This link allows God to stay in communication with His Sons, both giving communication and receiving it.

    "God does not hear our prayers." [15] How could He hear the prayers we utter in our separated state when He isn't aware of the state itself?

    The Holy Spirit

    The Circle Ken Wapnick

    The Holy Spirit is an extension of God's Being, and is therefore a created Being like the Christ.

    "We can better understand the Holy Spirit to be the memory of God's perfect Love that 'came' with the Son when he fell asleep. In this sense then the Holy Spirit is not really a Person Who was specifically and intentionally created by God."[16]

    The Holy Spirit, being a creation of God, is real and eternal.

    The Holy Spirit is "an illusion," [17] "a symbol," [18] that was not created by God, but is merely a "projected split-off part of our self." [19]

    The Holy Spirit is active. He acts in our minds: teaching, guiding, and healing our minds. And He acts in the world: guiding our decisions, supplying us with needed things, designing our special function, and planning the events of our lives.

    The Holy Spirit, being only an illusion, cannot act, either in our minds or in the world. "The Holy Spirit does not really do anything."[20] His apparent actions are really the product of our own minds. "What we ask for…we do receive, but not from God. It is the power of our minds that gives us what our minds request." [21]

    Asking the Holy Spirit for guidance is a major emphasis in the Course. As we study the Text, we are taught the importance of Him guiding our lives. As we practice the Workbook, we are trained to quiet our minds and hear His Voice. Once we have gained this ability, the Manual then urges us to let Him make all the decisions for our earthly function as teachers of God. As we ascend up the ladder of development, He increasingly becomes the One in charge of our minds and our lives.

    Asking the Holy Spirit for specific guidance is "extremely helpful and necessary on the bottom rungs of the ladder,"[22] where students need to believe in the "fairy tale" [23] of God helping them in this world. As they move up the ladder, however, this asking becomes counterproductive, becomes an ego "defense against the experience of [God's] love."[24] As they ascend, they increasingly recognize that the Holy Spirit is only a symbol and that God is not present in the dream.[25]

    Jesus and the Bible

    The Circle Ken Wapnick

    The Bible can be characterized as an impure or distorted revelation, in which genuine teaching from the Holy Spirit was filtered through the lens of human egos. As such, the Bible contains both pure elements (which speak of a God of Love) and impure elements (which speak of a God of wrath). The Course emphasizes the pure elements in the Bible and corrects or reinterprets the impure.

    "The Bible…is the ego's story, with the character of God being the ego's self-portrait"[26] "A Course in Miracles…and the Bible are fundamentally incompatible."[27] To say that the Course corrects the Bible is inappropriate, for "to correct something implies that you are still retaining the basic framework of what you are correcting. A Course in Miracles, on the other hand, directly refutes the very basis of the Christian faith, leaving nothing on which Christians can base their beliefs." [28]

    The gospel accounts of Jesus are flawed, but they do contain some historical truth, both in terms of Jesus' words and his deeds. The gospels can therefore give us a glimpse (especially with the help of New Testament scholars) of the Jesus of history, a glimpse that reveals remarkable parallels with the Jesus of the Course.

    The Course's Jesus "is definitely the same Jesus who appeared in the world two thousand years ago." [29] This Jesus, however, has nothing to do with the Jesus we are told about in the gospels. That Jesus is nothing but "the collective projections of the various authors of the gospels."[30] For this reason, "the Jesus of the Bible and the Course are mutually exclusive figures, with only the common name linking them together" [31]

    Jesus as a personal presence is actively and constantly present with every single person, is available to help us with our thoughts and with our lives, and invites us to have a genuine two-way relationship with him.

    Jesus does not do anything, for he, like the Holy Spirit, "is an illusion," [32] "a symbol." [33] When it appears as if some form in our lives has come from him, it was really our own mind putting form onto his formless, inactive love.

    Jesus actively designed the words and ideas of A Course in Miracles and dictated these to Helen Schucman. In order to reach Helen, he intentionally used forms with which she was familiar (English language, Christian symbology, Freudian psychology, curricular format, and Shakespearean blank verse).

    Jesus did not actively author the Course, nor did he specifically intend that it be written. He exists as a kind of reservoir of formless, inactive love beyond time and space. Helen's mind rose to make contact with this love, which then flowed into her mind like water filling an empty glass. This is how the Course was produced. It contains so many of Helen's forms because they made up the "glass" that imposed a shape onto his shapeless love. "Thus it was Helen's mind that gave the Course its form." [34] Jesus only provided the content of formless love (and did so without specifically intending to).

    Relationships

    The Circle Ken Wapnick

    When we forgive other people, we do this not just for ourselves but also as a gift to them. We intend to release them, both from our projections of guilt and from their own self-condemnation. This egoless, loving intent is at the heart of why forgiveness benefits us, for it proves to us that something genuinely divine lives within us.

    Forgiveness is metaphorically described as occurring within the dualistic framework of two people having a relationship, but it really "has nothing to do with our brother."[35] "In truth, there is no person outside us, since we are all…projected images of a split mind….That is why the penultimate meaning of forgiveness is that, through the Holy Spirit's help, we learn to forgive ourselves."[36]

    Extending love and forgiveness to others, in thought, word and deed, is crucial to our own awakening. Watching love come forth from us, seeing the healing effect it has on others, and feeling their gratitude (when offered), convinces us that the Holy Spirit resides in us and that we therefore must be holy. We accept the Atonement for ourselves so that it can then flow through us in the form of miracles that we extend to others.

    Our job is solely to accept the Atonement for ourselves. "Salvation of the world depends on [us] simply doing just that and only that." [37] The light in our minds will then automatically brighten the mind of the entire Sonship. Trying to help people outside us in the world is falling into the trap of believing that there is something really out there. "One cannot heal others because ultimately, if the world is an illusion, who is there to help?" [38]

    For each one of us, the Holy Spirit designs a special form of extending to others, one especially suited to our strengths and the particular time and place in which we find ourselves. This is our special function. It is our particular part in the overall plan for the salvation of the world. As part of this special function, the Holy Spirit brings us into contact with those whom we are to help.

    Our "special function" is simply the generic function of forgiveness.[39] The Holy Spirit does not call us to do a particular work in the world ("No one is really called by Jesus or the Holy Spirit to do anything" [40]). To think we are called to a particular work is the ego trying to enhance its own specialness. "What better way to witness to [the ego's] reality than to be specially chosen to do holy, special, and very important work in this world." [41]

    In the Course, a special relationship is always a relationship with another person, in which both people are actively participating. Our ego-based "relationships" with things besides people (with alcohol, for example) are called by another name: idolatry. Moreover, the term "special relationship" (along with "unholy relationship") always refers to special love relationships, relationships that are outwardly loving but have an underlying content of hate. The Course's one reference to "special hate relationship," if read in context, actually refers to special love.

    A special relationship—like any relationship—exists in one person's mind alone. For this reason, a person can even have a "special relationship" with inanimate objects like the Workbook.[42] The Course describes two subcategories of special relationships: special love relationships (outwardly friendly relationships) and special hate relationships (outwardly antagonistic relationships).

    Joining with others in a genuinely common goal (and even a common function) is crucial to our own salvation. We cannot get back to God alone. Only by joining can we learn that we are not these separate selves. Only by joining can we learn that who we really are encompasses the other person as well.

    Trying to join with others on a behavioral level is "an example of magic."[43] It is "the very antithesis of what Jesus is really teaching us in A Course in Miracles." [44] "It cannot be said too often that the only true joining—and the real focus of Jesus' teachings in A Course in Miracles—is the joining with him or the Holy Spirit in our minds."[45]

    The holy relationship is one in which two people have joined in a mutually held common goal. Once this happens, holiness enters the relationship and leads the two through a process of gradually transcending their egos, increasingly uniting with each other, and entering into a joint special function together.

    The holy relationship is not a mutualjoining between two people but a condition that exists only in the mind of one, whenever that one forgives the other. "A holy relationship…can only exist in the mind of the perceiver of the relationship. Relationships are not holy in form, but only in purpose. And purpose exists, once again, in the individual's mind." [46]

    The program

    The Circle Ken Wapnick

    The Course is an educational program in accepting healed perception into our minds and extending it to others. Each volume represents a different primary activity (Text = study, Workbook = practice, Manual = extension), and a different phase in the overall program. Together, they guide us through a single process of progressively internalizing healed perception, a process that deepens with each successive volume.

    The Course is an educational program in accepting healed perception into our own minds and nothing else. Each of the Course's volumes does have a somewhat different focus, "making a unique contribution to the student's learning and growth."[47] However, the volumes do not represent different phases of an ascending process, nor does each volume correspond to a different activity on the student's part. For the most part we do the same basic activities as we go through the volumes: primarily the study of the teaching (especially the metaphysics), and the practice of looking at our egos with the Holy Spirit or Jesus.

    The Course was not intended by Jesus to be a self-study course. In those few places where he refers to new students of A Course in Miracles, he always depicts them as the pupils of a Course teacher. He portrays them as walking this path under the loving guidance and supervision of a more experienced student. This is not the only way of doing the Course, but it seems to be the author's preferred way.

    "A Course in Miracles is inherently a self-study curriculum."[48] "The central process of studying the Course and following its particular spiritual path is an individualized one….Since all students of A Course in Miracles are capable of being guided specifically by the Holy Spirit, it would certainly be presumptuous for [teachers] to tell them how they should approach the Course."[49]

    The basic technique of Course study is to read slowly and carefully and pay close attention to the literal words, interpreting each line primarily in light of its immediate context. Any statement that is not clearly a metaphorical image should be taken as straight teaching.

    The basic technique of Course study is to look past the literal words (which are largely "dualistic" [50]) to a deeper, "non-dualistic" meaning, revealed by interpreting each line in light of the broad context of the Course's non-dualistic metaphysics. "A student should always evaluate any particular statement in the Course in light of the Course's overall metaphysical teaching."[51]

    The Workbook is a training manual in the Course's method of spiritual practice, a manual which aims to ground in us a lifelong habit of regular, frequent Course practice rooted in the practice methods taught to us in the Workbook.

    The Workbook is not meant to train us in a particular method of spiritual practice but "simply to orient the student on the right path with the right teacher." [52] After we have completed the Workbook, we move on from its specific methods of practice. "These are only meant for a one-year period." [53]

    The Workbook's practice instructions should be followed as closely as possible. Jesus asks us to do this knowing that we need the structure the Workbook provides in order to train our minds.

    While some structure is necessary early in our training, there is a great danger in trying too hard to follow the Workbook's instructions. Our attempts to do "exactly what Jesus says" are rooted "in the magical and usually unconscious hope that [we] will please the Authority."[54] Moreover, the Workbook's structure "could easily lend itself to ritual"[55]—wherein we believe the mere form of practice yields salvation. This leaves "the content…totally sabotaged and undermined."[56]

    The Workbook offers us a rich variety of different lessons and practices, and doing those specific lessons and practices as instructed is the vehicle for the shifts in perception the Course seeks to bring about in us.

    Doing the Workbook's instructed practice has value in teaching us that we have a mind that can choose. However, the main value of the practice is that it flushes our ego to the surface when we don't do it. The Workbook lessons simply "provide a classroom in which the student's ego can 'act up,' so that its thought system can at last be recognized and chosen against." [57] This practice—the practice of looking at the ego with the Holy Spirit or Jesus, "the essence of the Atonement"[58]—is the primary vehicle for shifting our perception.

    When we fail to do the Workbook's required practices, we should forgive ourselves, because this keeps us from giving up on practicing (due to guilt) and enables us to return immediately to our practice schedule. Forgiving ourselves, then, serves the primary goal of doing the practice.

    When we fail to do the Workbook's required practices, we should forgive ourselves, because forgiving ourselves for not doing them is the whole point of the Workbook. "The purpose of the workbook lessons [is] to forgive oneself when one inevitably fails to do the lesson perfectly."[59]

    Meditation is an integral part of the Course's program (the Course does not call it "meditation"—except once—but that is clearly what the Course is teaching). It was discussed (by name) with Helen and Bill during the early scribing of the Course. It plays a very important role in the Workbook, which teaches three distinct meditation techniques (among its many techniques of spiritual practice). Finally, the Manual teaches that one is to continue a twice-daily practice of meditation after completion of the Workbook.

    While all the Workbook lessons can be looked upon as "meditations" of a sort, [60] there is nothing in the Course that asks one to continue with meditation after the Workbook. "Meditation as such is not an integral part of the Course's curriculum"[61] Students should feel free to meditate if they so choose, but they should beware of making an idol of it and should not believe that all students of the Course should meditate.

    Most of us will probably benefit from going through the Workbook more than once. We are ready to go beyond the Workbook when we can practice in the way it taught us under our own power, without needing an outside voice to tell us to practice, and this will probably take more than one pass through. Once we have reached this point, the Course recommends that we do post-Workbook practice, practice that is still within the basic structure of practice laid out in the Workbook, but is tailored to what we have found meets our needs.

    As a general rule, we should not go through the Workbook more than once. Further, it "probably should be done relatively early in a student's work with the Course."[62] Our desire to do the Workbook more than once is very likely the voice of the ego "urging repeated run-throughs of the Workbook exercises in the magical hope that 'this time, I'll get it right.'"[63] After the Workbook there is no more need to do structured practice. We simply "spend the rest of our lives having [the Holy Spirit] be our Teacher of forgiveness."[64]

    The Manual represents the final phase of the student's development: extension to others. Its primary purpose is to serve as an instruction manual for experienced Course students who have gone through the Text and Workbook, and are now ready to take up their function of extension. Its secondary purpose is to serve as a summary of some of the Course's teachings, for both the Course teacher (or mentor) and his Course pupil.

    The Manual's primary purpose is to serve as "a summary of some of the themes and principles of the text."[65] As such, it is essentially an appendix to the Text and Workbook, "a most useful adjunct ['adjunct' is defined in the dictionary as 'something added to another thing but not essentially a part of it'] to the other two books." [66] It does not represent a distinct phase in the Course's program or in the student's development, nor is it meant for Course "teachers" (in the sense of "mentors") or for "pupils" of those teachers.

    The term "teacher of God"7mdash;the person to whom the Manual is addressed—refers to someone who, having reached a particular stage of development, is ready to teach (or extend to) others. He reached this readiness by seeing truly common interests with another person, and (in the Course's system) by completing the Course's Text and Workbook.

    The term "teacher of God" does not refer to someone who is ready to teach (or extend to) others, but is just "Jesus' term for his students," [67] a generic term "for those who pursue A Course in Miracles as their spiritual path." [68]

    While the teacher of God's role of extending to others can take many forms, the Manual specifically describes and focuses on two forms: teacher of pupils (a Course mentor to less experienced Course students) and healer of patients (a Course-based spiritual healer). These forms are literal roles that some people will be called upon to fulfill in this world.

    Since active extension to others is not a part of the Course, the Manual does not literally advocate any specific role like those of teacher of pupils or healer of patients. The belief that it does is a form of "spiritual specialness": "The ego's need to make the world and itself special will distort the [Manual's] words to mean that the Course student…is asked by Jesus behaviorally to teach other students, heal the sick, or preach to the world." [69]

    Miscellaneous

    The holy instant is a moment in which we temporarily set aside our normal mental framework, which is rooted in the past, and enter into the timeless present. We shift into another state of mind in which we experience the lifting of the barriers of time and space, the unawareness of the body, a sense of joining with Jesus or the Holy Spirit (and all our brothers), and sudden feelings of peace, joy, and love.

    "The holy instant is not a period of meditation wherein the student has a 'good experience,' and feels the presence of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, the holy instant is the Course's term for the instant—outside time and space—when we choose the Holy Spirit as our Teacher instead of the ego." [70]

    In the Course, focusing on the light and looking at our darkness both play an important role. It is crucial to expose and look calmly at our ego's darkness, despite our resistance to doing so. Yet it is also crucial to repeatedly dwell on the light (as most Workbook lessons have us do). Only when both are present in our minds can God's light shine away our darkness.

    The Course is not a course in love and light, but a course in looking at our ego's darkness. "Overly emphasizing the lovely truth about ourselves short circuits the process of undoing, by placing our sleeping guilt under the heavy blanket of denial….To assert that the central teaching of A Course in Miracles is love and oneness is not only to fly in the face of the Course's own words, but also to deny ourselves access to the healing opportunity it offers us. In this regard…students of A Course in Miracles may fall into the…category of blissninnyhood."[71]

    The Course is a radical teaching and it makes many unique contributions to world spirituality, and these contributions should be celebrated. Yet we should also celebrate the Course's many and profound similarities with other spiritual traditions. In fact, part of the Course's uniqueness is its ability to incorporate diverse elements found in other traditions, elements which appear to be mutually exclusive yet which the Course weaves together into a unity (e.g., its emphasis on the illusory nature of the world and its emphasis on saving the world).

    The Course is so unique that not only is it "totally incompatible"[72] with the Bible, but this same thing can be said "regarding any other spiritual path."[73] What makes the Course so unique is its teaching that the world is an illusion that God did notcreate and "that God is in no way involved in the illusory and unreal world." [74] This makes for a purer non-dualism than we find in either Advaita Vedanta (a form of Hinduism) or Gnosticism.[75] Attempts to liken the Course to other spiritualities are "subtle ego ploys to minimize the radicalness of the Course." [76]

    Conclusion

    As you can see, after some essential similarities, the Circle's vision and Wapnick's vision take off in very different directions. They are quite simply two different visions of A Course in Miracles, so different that we at the Circle do not see how a student could seriously pursue both at the same time. How should we regard these differences? First, with tolerance. It is inevitable that such differences arise; it is human nature. Second, with a sincere desire to discover what the Course really says on these issues. It does not matter who is right. What matters is finding out what the Course actually teaches and putting that into practice in our lives. We hope that this article will serve to contribute to that process.

    [1] The Message of 'A Course in Miracles,' Volume Two: Few Choose to Listen (1997), p. 13. All of the works cited below as sources of Ken Wapnick's views are published by the Foundation for A Course in Miracles, located in Temecula, California. All of the works were written by Wapnick; one work, The Most Commonly Asked Questions about 'A Course in Miracles,' was co-written with his wife Gloria, and another work, 'A Course in Miracles' and Christianity: A Dialogue, is the transcript of a dialogue with W. Norris Clarke, S.J., Ph.D.

    [2] Ibid., p. 95.

    [3] The Most Commonly Asked Questions about 'A Course in Miracles' (1995), p. 85.

    [4] Ibid., p. 4.

    [5] Ibid., p. 8.

    [6] Few Choose to Listen, p. 69.

    [7] Ibid., p. 72.

    [8] The Message of 'A Course in Miracles,' Volume One: All Are Called (1997), p. 66.

    [9] Few Choose to Listen, p. 114.

    [10] Ibid., p. 95.

    [11] Commonly Asked Questions, p. 33.

    [12] 'A Course in Miracles' and Christianity: A Dialogue (1995), p. 43.

    [13] Commonly Asked Questions, p. 101.

    [14] All Are Called, p. 35.

    [15] Commonly Asked Questions, p. 120.

    [16] All Are Called, p. 33.

    [17] Few Choose to Listen, p. 88.

    [18] Ibid., p. 124.

    [19] Ibid., p. 108.

    [20] All Are Called, p. 339.

    [21] Ibid., p. 315. "Our minds, which are rooted in the ego's plan, thus interpret our change of mind as being done for us by the Holy Spirit" (All Are Called, p. 314).

    [22] Few Choose to Listen, p. 114.

    [23] Ibid., p. 69. "Jesus would have us believe instead, in these early stages of our journey of awakening, in the God of his corrected fairy tale Who truly loves us, independent of what we believe we have done to Him….But if these words are taken literally, we would find ourselves back in our childhood world of fairy godmothers, Santa Claus, and a Sugar Daddy for a God."

    [24] Ibid., p. 117.

    [25] Ibid., p. 120. "It is the Course's emphasis on undoing the ego, and not on hearing the Voice of the Holy Spirit, that makes it so unique in the world's spiritual literature" (Few Choose to Listen, p. 142).

    [26] All Are Called, p. 57.

    [27] Forgiveness and Jesus: The Meeting Place of 'A Course in Miracles' and Christianity, 6th ed. (1st ed. 1983; 6th ed. 1998), p. xiv.

    [28] ACIM and Christianity, p. 2.

    [29] Commonly Asked Questions, p. 102.

    [30] Ibid., p, 102.

    [31] Ibid., p. 102-103.

    [32] Few Choose to Listen, p. 114.

    [33] All Are Called, p. 35.

    [34] Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of 'A Course in Miracles,' 1st ed. (1991), p. 480.

    [35] Commonly Asked Questions, p. 78.

    [36] Few Choose to Listen, p. 95.

    [37] Ibid., p. 32.

    [38] Ibid., p. 32-34.

    [39] "This special function of forgiveness belongs to everyone." (All Are Called, p. 340).

    [40] Few Choose to Listen, p. 137.

    [41] Ibid., p. 137.

    [42] All Are Called, p. 329.

    [43] Few Choose to Listen, p. 182.

    [44] Ibid., p. 166.

    [45] Ibid., p. 169.

    [46] Ibid., p. 81.

    [47] Ibid., p. 3.

    [48] Commonly Asked Questions, p. 131.

    [49] Few Choose to Listen, p. 181-182.

    [50] Ibid., p. 95.

    [51] Ibid., p. 67.

    [52] Commonly Asked Questions, p. 116.

    [53] Ibid., p. 74.

    [54] Few Choose to Listen, p. 24.

    [55] All Are Called, p. 329.

    [56] Few Choose to Listen, p. 25.

    [57] Ibid., p. 27.

    [58] Glossary-Index for 'A Course in Miracles,' 4th ed., p. 137.

    [59] Few Choose to Listen, p. 26.

    [60] Commonly asked Questions, p. 74.

    [61] Ibid., p. 74.

    [62] Ibid., p. 116.

    [63] Few Choose to Listen, p. 22.

    [64] Commonly Asked Questions, p. 116.

    [65] Few Choose to Listen, p. 31.

    [66] Ibid., p. 31.

    [67] Ibid., p. 13.

    [68] Ibid., p. 16.

    [69] Ibid., p. 32.

    [70] Commonly Asked Questions, p. 76.

    [71] Few Choose to Listen, p. 202; "The central teaching of A Course in Miracles …is not the love and unity that is our reality in Heaven, but rather the identifying and undoing of the guilt and fear." Love Does Not Condemn, p. 553.

    [72] Commonly Asked Questions, p. 112.

    [73] Ibid., p. 112.

    [74] All Are Called, p. 9.

    [75] Ibid., p. 9.

    [76] Few Choose to Listen, p. 189.

    23 Comments

    1. Vince
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Hello,

      As a student of the Course, I am always interested in keeping an open mind, but always looking for the Truth. My question points to the authority of which the COA speaks and obtains its ideas. Ken Wapnick, has a history of working and studying with Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford for many years, beyond the original publication of the Course. He therefore had the opportunity to study intensely and question Helen regarding the meaning and intention of every word of the Course. And summarily, he arrives at his conclusions.

      I realize at first glance this might sound antagonistic, but I assure it is not. This article just begs the question of authority. Where does Robert Perry and the other leaders at the COA obtain their credentials, so to speak, to say that what Ken Wapnick teaches is not what is meant by Jesus' words in the Course? And that the COA would have points of disagreement with an individual that studied directly with the scribe for 8 years?

      I am just trying to understand this broad division in beliefs and where they come from. After all, there are quite a few things in the Course that a student would look to for someone to help clarify those points. I am sure you understand my point here, and I hope that makes sense. I look forward to your answer.

      In peace,
      Vince

      • sue carr
        Posted August 21, 2013 at 4:32 am | Permalink

        Hi Vince
        I understand what you say, however, contrast Wapnicks early views with his current views. Robert has written a very good article on this, if you search Judith Scutch I think you’ll find it. Just because Wapnick knew Helen does not make him acims infallible mouthpiece
        Sue

    2. Steve
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Hi Robert

      Your response to Bill has super-ego throughout it.

      Choosing to respond to Bill because he was kind (and the others weren't) only encourages separation.

      Referring to Ken as having an 'aura of authority' has nothing to do with him. It's meaningless to describe other students perceptions that way.

      All of the feedback warranted the same admiration you offered Bill. All of them were kind.

      Having said this, I am frustrated when I hear feedback that refers to two sides arguing over the same coin. Correct me if I am wrong but is there anywhere I can find Ken Wapnick challenging how you perceive ACIM?

      This letter is kind. It is well intentioned. It warrants the same love you offer Bill.

      Steve X

      • Robert
        Posted July 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        Dear Steve,

        Unfortunately I don't have time to answer everyone's comment. Given that, I am more likely to respond to the ones that ask me outright questions, such as Bill did, rather than state the truth as the writer sees it.

        To me this issue of whose interpretation is correct looks very different. We have a bunch of words on paper. We are trying to follow those words. Once you admit that, you are into interpretation. We can't get around that. For instance, the Course says, "Forgive the world." What does that mean? Look at the following list of interpretations:

        A. Hate the world.
        B. Stop resenting the world by realizing other people are illusions (so that if you focus on helping them, you make the illusion real).
        C. Stop resenting the world by realizing other people are divine and then extend this perception to them so that they actually feel forgiven.
        D. Try to spark a nuclear exchange between two international powers in order to end all life on earth because of how sinful humanity is.
        E. Combine 1 cup water with 1 cup flour and 1 teaspoon yeast, mix, and bake for an hour at 350.

        Are we going to say that all five options are equally valid interpretations of "forgive the world"? "A" seems like the opposite (though a certain Course group did embrace it). "D" is clearly contrary to the statement "forgive the world." "E" is totally unrelated. The only decent options are "B" and "C." Yet they are very different options. We really need to decide between them. I don't know how one would follow both. (And I'm not saying that "B" is Ken's position; I don't think his is quite that extreme.)

        I take it you are saying that you are the only one who can do that for yourself. Well, we all need to decide what we think, of course, but shouldn't we be concerned with what the author of the Course was trying to communicate? If we aren't trying to let him teach us, and teach us what he wanted to, then why even pick up the book? Don't you pick up a book so that it can communicate its contents to you? When you listen to someone speak to you, are you trying to understand what they are saying, or are you just reading into their statements whatever meaning you feel like?

        I honestly don't see how we can get out of the interpretive act. Given that, my view is let's do as good and honest of a job as we can. And ideally, let's collaborate, let's put our heads together. That's how knowledge advances in this world. So yes, absolutely, let's have different teachers discussing these issues. I think Ken being willing to directly address these differences, and even dialogue about them, would be a gesture of respect toward the Circle, toward students who are trying to figure out what they think, and toward the advancement of our understanding of the Course. His stance of slamming all other interpretations as the ego attacking the Course, while refusing to specifically engage with any of them, does not strike me as a model to emulate.

        Many Course students see any expression of disagreement as some kind of personal fight, or attempt to exert control over others. I just don't relate to that. It frankly seems silly to me. And apparently it seems silly to them, too, since they express their own disagreement so freely. My stance is this: If we are students of the Course, then to follow it we need to have some understanding of what it is trying to say to us. So let's all try to find that. And the more we can sincerely collaborate on that, the better. The reason we have these computers we are all using is because several centuries ago scientists said that if we collaborate in honest, experimental inquiries into how the world works, we'll learn important things. Why not do the same with the Course? Why not collaborate in honest, rational inquiries into what the Course actually means? If all discussion of different interpretations is labeled attack, then our understanding of the Course is simply not going to advance. And we'll all be the poorer for it.

        Robert

    3. Anonymous
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      My question is 'Why?'

      Why do you seek to accurately represent the Course? Assuming this is true, why do either of you seek this?

      This attack on Wapnick's interpretation serves no purpose. Your positions are not at odds. They are instead two points on one spectrum.

      A student new to the Course may gain more from your position on the Course. A more advanced student would likely be better served by his more esoteric interpretation. One will not suffice for all, nor does it need to suffice for all. Your interpretation is grounded in the physical world, his in another world. Neither suffices for all.

      If a student 'drops out' of the Course, whose decision is that to make? And who should judge that as 'bad'? If that student is led to 'drop out', perhaps his own Teacher told him to do just that. And, if he is to return to the Course, who is it that should help guide him or her decide that? Robert Perry? Ken Wapnick? This is beginning to sound like Catholics VS Lutherans all over again. It is pointless. This reminds me of lesson 4, loosely interpreted and restated:

      'This thought about the Circle does not mean anything. It is like the ideas I read in Wapnick's books.'

      Neither 'position' is correct. Neither 'position' is wrong. In any case, a 'position' is nothing more than a judgment about what something means.

      Many years ago, as a beginner, I thought your perspective to be closer to my own. Later, I began to gravitate towards a more esoteric interpretation. Now I reject both, not because one or the other is 'wrong' but instead because I realize that I do not know. I will never know. And neither will you or Kenneth Wapnick or any other mind in this place. All are just interpretations of something the human, ego based monkey mind is utterly incapable of understanding — ever.

      After reading this I realize these words have a bit of a harsh tone. This mind of mine can think of no way to tone it down. I for one will accept no authority over, copyright of, representation of or interpretation of the Course, save one. No one can stand in my stead and no one can dictate what it should 'really mean' to me.

      I respect your academic approach for its thoroughness and I respect his authoritative approach because he was there when it happened. But I must respectfully refuse to listen to either of you in regards to how I should personally interpret what I was given for my own growth. I have been through the thing more times than I can count and every time the meaning seemed different in many ways. We must, however, all reach a place where learning becomes unnecessary, or what is the point?

      Growth towards truth is the goal, but the truth will not be found while we are here. If we stop and carve our learning in stone at any given point, exclaiming 'Here it is!' the human mind slams shut and stops evolving. We then become no better than the theologians, endlessly developing new and cutting edge theories about something we can never really understand. When we take a 'position' on something like the Course, we are but setting ourselves up to be the judge of what should be. None of us are qualified.

      The Course in not the authority. The Course is a set of ideas, given me for my growth, BY that Authority. It is to that I will leave all interpretation.

      • sue carr
        Posted August 21, 2013 at 4:54 am | Permalink

        nonsense, the course has to be accurately represented or it is meaningless
        sue

    4. Michael Kelly
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      I'm following the Course 18 years now and I consider myself the luckiest person alive to have found it.

      I can also say that as a practicing Catholic at the time, I found much of the Course a gut-wrenching experience and difficult to understand and accept (it's not exactly a bundle of fun now either). Over the years I read most of what Ken had available, and that was also difficult to take. And I've read most of what your Circle produced also. Everything I've read was appreciated, beneficial, enjoyable, and yes, somewhat different — but so what, I thank you all! Is Marianne's slant perfect? Probably not, but I still went to her event in Dublin this Autumn at €70 a pop!

      Do I believe that the Holy Spirit looks after every little detail in my daily life "without my slightest effort" because I forgive? — Not on your life! In fact, if you're broke, let Him be the last one you ask! I don't take the Course literally, nor do I think it helpful to do so.

      I believe that the Course is wonderful beyond description and our quickest way out of this nightmare, and I'd hate to be the person who was responsible for dumbing it down, or start a schism to pander to those who find Ken's interpretation not to their liking — and I am not accusing the Circle of this!

      Michael

    5. Sarah
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      I read your article detailing differences between your vision of the Course and Ken's. I have to say, I am utterly confused about how people who clearly know so much about the Course can make such contradictory statements. If you believe, as you say, that this world is a dream and is thus an attack on God, then how can anything within it be literal truth? By definition it would have to take the form of some symbol within the dream, and thus be symbolic (a metaphor). Whether one son or many falls asleep, it wouldn't matter. Also, you are trying to meld the Course's contradictory non-dualistic statements about the oneness of Heaven with its dualistic statements about God sending us a Holy Spirit. As soon as you make God know about the dream and interact with the dream, then you are saying there "is" something real besides Heaven. Either there is only Heaven or there's not. Either the Course is uniquely non-dualistic or it's just another dualistic teaching that makes the separation real….
      -Sarah

    6. Mary Benton
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Dear all,
      I don't have time to respond to all points now, but at this time can refer you to my review of One Course Two Visions. http://www.amazon.com/review/R16C9HPEK40VQW/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R16C9HPEK40VQW The opinions expressed there still represent my position, in the space available on Amazon, although more detailed analyses would be possible.
      Ken Wapnick's teachings are a complex mix. Some of them remain problematical for me at this stage. At the same time some of the teachings of COA are problematical as well, for example the teaching about the special function. I might mention the Ken's teaching had no effect on my view about this—I simply read the book. On this important subject I believe COA is quite simply wrong. So be it.
      I remember Tom Dunn saying somewhere that Ken and COA were both right, that is to say that Ken's emphasis on the radical non-dualism was valid and so was COA's somewhat different approach. This may be an oversimplification, but I thought I'd mention it as food for thought. I must say too that Ken's radical approach has never meant he lacks awareness of where we are now and he has much practical advice for our everyday lives. I, for one, have found this aspect of his teaching immensely helpful. It must be clear by now that I have no trouble with expressions of disagreement, but I have yet to find a true openness of mind and spirit from COA in regard to Ken Wapnick's teachings. This, not disagreement as such, is problematical.
      Mary

    7. Bill
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      I have personally read A Course in Miracles three times. That does not go to say that I understand it better than someone who has only read it once. I do not declare myself to be the upper crust of intelligent life form, but I do believe I have a basic understanding of what the course is trying to say. Although I have never been able to totally accept or agree with Mr. Wapnick's interpretations, I find it likewise difficult to accept some of yours. I do thank you for your statement "No one's views are sacred. The primary allegiance of Course students, we believe, should not be fidelity to the Circle's views, to Wapnick's, or to their own, but to the Course itself."

      I do agree with you in that the differences between views does seem to hinge on whether we take every word in the course literally or metaphorically. With this understanding in place, I appreciate the opportunity to express my thoughts on this matter: While reading and studying the course, it became quite obvious to me that there seems to be some contradiction through-out it's pages. (eg. The course would state that there are no sins. Then later on it would state that the separation from God is the only sin.) Now, we can browbeat those two statements till the cows come home, but I think if we just step back a bit we can see the generality of the meaning.

      Do we take the words of the course literally or metaphorically? I personally believe that the metaphorical slant is the only way to look at the course, and here's why: The author of A Course in Miracles, whomever that maybe, is attempting to talk to us in our illusory state, using an imperfect communications medium of our creation (language). The course makes the statement early that our existence in this world is not real. From that point on it starts to back off the repetition of the illusion statement. It pretty much has too, because otherwise it would have to say something like, "within your illusion" or "if it were real" or something of the like after every single statement. This would probably leave the course unreadable or at least extremely lengthy and confusing. So when we read a part or statement within the course that doesn't make reference to the illusion, I believe, it does not exactly give us license to take that statement literally.

      Please try to understand my intended meaning here because, as mentioned, the language we use often fails to portray our exact meaning, and my personal level of education can cause further erroneous selection of appropriate words and phrases. I, like you, can only do my best.

      The only reason I am responding to your webpage at all, I guess, is not to try to convince you that you may be wrong, but rather to ask you to consider that the apparent disagreement in interpretations of the course between yourselves and Mr. Wapnick, will serve more to add confusion and doubt, to anyone who is trying to understand the course for themselves and could thereby turn potential new students away. I'm sure you are aware of the numerous attempts being made to discredit the course by well intentioned people whom do not understand the course's basic intent. Any further disagreement on the courses content could add fuel to their fire, so to speak.

      So, in conclusion, I appreciate your sincere desire to help us understand the course, but I do in fact ask that you reconsider the potential harm you could be doing in your reference to disagreements with Mr. Wapnick. As stated, I don't agree with everything Mr. Wapnick says either, but I also think it may be a mistake to try to convince people to take the course to literally. At very least, the seeming dispute can only instil an air of uncertainty and instability in a relatively new Course in Miracles. I think it behooves us all, yourselves, myself and Mr. Wapnick included, to try to encourage the best understanding of the course that we can without seemingly trying to declare ourselves as the "authoritive voice", lest we should all, again, read the chapters on specialness.

      I praise your efforts in the promotion of the Course, and encourage an appearance of mutual love and respect even through our minor disagreements. Thank you again for the opportunity to respond.

      Sincerely,
      —Bill

      • Robert
        Posted July 24, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

        Dear Bill,
        Thank you for your very gentle, sincere, and heartfelt response to the comparison between our views and Ken Wapnick's. Because you expressed yourself so respectfully and at such length, I feel compelled to respond.
        I am glad you agree with our statement that no one's views are sacred and that our primary allegiance shouldn't be to any interpreter's views (ours most emphatically included), but to the Course's. That is really the root of our whole stance. In our experience, many students do hold Ken's views to be sacred because he is perceived by them to be the authoritative voice. We don't think this is good for the Course. It sets up an aura of dogmatism in which people feel compelled to accept what a certain human teacher says, not because of the evidence, but just because he says it. We feel that instead there should be a more scholarly and even scientific air, in the sense that everything should be tested against the Course, no matter who says it, so that the Course becomes the only real authority.
        The aura of authority around Ken is so great that we have encountered a great many students who simply equate his views with the Course, and are unable to question that equation. At the same time, however, they find his views deeply depressing, so that the only recourse they feel they have is to simply drop out of the Course, which many of them do.
        We wrote the book One Course, Two Visions, from which the article you are commenting was drawn, to help free the minds of students who, in our view, have been trapped by the aura of Ken's authority. And five years after its publication, we still regularly hear from readers for whom the book has had that effect. Time and again readers write us and tell us that they found Ken's views so arid and depressing that they dropped out of the Course, but that reading our book has literally brought them back to the Course.
        So we firmly believe that writing what we did is good for the Course and for students. We believe that the Course community should be pervaded by a friendly spirit of dialogue and, yes, even good-natured debate, in service of the one goal of discovering what Jesus was really trying to tell us. To be quite honest, I think this is much better than the solution you offer, which is to not talk about disagreements. If no one's views are sacred, then what is so bad about talking about where non-sacred views differ from each other? Imagine how far any knowledge-seeking field would have gotten if, once there was disagreement, everyone would have to fall silent?
        It seems that you share some of this sentiment yourself, since you are, after all, disagreeing with us! And why not? Why not be able to air your opinions and see what that elicits from others? If we all stay good-natured about it, don't we all gain from this exchange?
        As you probably expect, I do not agree that we should read the Course metaphorically (nor do I agree that the Course ever backs off from referring to the illusory nature of the world or that it talks about separation as the one actual sin). To an extent that I did not fully appreciate when our book was published, the Course is full of passages which ask us to take it at its word. They are really quite striking. There is a whole pattern of statements like the following: "This is a very practical course, and one that means exactly what it says" (T-8.IX.8:1). "I have made every effort to use words that are almost impossible to distort, but it is always possible to twist symbols around if you wish" (T-3.I.3:11). "This course is perfectly clear. If you do not see it clearly, it is because you are interpreting against it" (T-11.VI.3:1-2). He really thinks he is expressing himself simply and directly. He mentions, for instance, "how direct and simple the text is" (W-pI.39.2:5). All of these statements, and many more, are totally incompatible with the idea that he expressed himself in a veiled, indirect, highly symbolic and metaphoric way.
        The Course's author, then, does tell us how to approach his language, and whenever he does so, he comes down firmly on the side of taking him at his word. I can see no support for Ken's metaphorical approach in Jesus' own comments about how the Course expresses itself. Instead, I see consistent and copious support for the opposite position.
        But again my main point is that we should talk about it all, out in the open. Otherwise, certain people's views are sacred, and then we have to fall silent out of hushed reverence for that sacredness, and then we have to halt any public or joint attempts to openly and fully explore what the Course is really saying.

        Thank you again for your message. If only all of us could express ourselves as considerately as you did, the Course community would be a much kinder place.
        Sincerely,
        Robert

        • wendy maxwell
          Posted October 25, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

          One thing that seems to be overlooked, when looking at disagreements in interpretations, is the benefit the differing viewpoints give us. It helps us to clarify things in our mind. If we did not openly discuss our different views, we would not be challenged to look at things deeply. I am so grateful when I come across different views as it then stimulates me to uncover what it is I am feeling deep within (with the help of the Holy Spirit of course) which then uncovers the articulation of it. Let’s not be upset about expressing our different views. When done in a respectful and loving manner, we can thank God for this additional teaching tool. I really appreciate your views on ACIM as articulated above. Thankyou.

      • sue carr
        Posted August 21, 2013 at 4:51 am | Permalink

        whomever that may be Bill? (course author) if we don’tbelieve its Jesus what validity doesit have?

    8. Chris Wojda
      Posted August 23, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      the beautiful thing i have learned from all teachers is that there is no problem. all problems are of the ego. and i have chosen to learn that i am not an ego for the ego does not exist! but to learn this required my willingness to learn it.
      isn’t this all that the course teaches?
      Chris Wojda

    9. Chris Wojda
      Posted August 23, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      how beautiful is this holy instant now! and we are all a part of it, a part of God, a part of each other! peace to all of you who are part of me. love you all!

    10. michael tiedtke
      Posted September 12, 2013 at 12:15 am | Permalink

      WOW i just joined COA tonite and this is the first thing i read.i found it very interesting.I’ve been on and off with the course since 1983 and always on my own.i listened to most and read some of Ken”s views at that time (early 80’s} found it helpful but dry and didn’t feel loving so i put the course aside.Over the years i’ve read the text several times and consider it the most beautifully written spiritual document i have ever read it puts me into another sphere of thought easily. So back on point i Love the course and people can disagree as much as they want to about which is the best interpretation but it comes down to how you or I feel and experience the writing Go for what is right for you…

    11. Peter Jordan
      Posted February 22, 2014 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      Hi, I have not studied this article in too much depth however I looked it over and one thing stood out for me:
      ‘We’ are not actually studying the Course. As I understand it, what happens is (Unconsciously) our mind makes the decision to side with Reason and that takes the form (in the illusion), as our ‘hero’ ‘studying’ the Course. (as for the rest? remember their is no hierarchy of illusions)
      Now, what I just said was simple and straight to the point, anyone care to tell me this position is not accurate?
      Love to all, Peter Jordan 😉

      • Tertia Mank
        Posted February 22, 2014 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        Dear Peter,
        If this view fills you with incredible peace, deep love, a sense of safety and being loved unconditionally, a sense of sanity and a sweet, sweet feeling in your whole being, plus a joy beyond all measures, it can safely be called right for you! Personally I have really benefitted from Robert’s teachings, even though there may be tiny disagreements on interpretation. To really live the Course’s message not all interpretations of the metaphysical view on things the Course seems to offer are helpful, I think. I haven’t studied the above minutely either, but I have read ‘One Course Two Visions’ and love the productive approach the Circle offers. Robert, to me, has been a great help in studying the Course with a sense of groundedness we really need to be able to progress as a whole, not just our intellect. Leading us gently towards wholeheartedness seems to be overlooked as a purpose of the Course when we’re competing to establish accuracy of viewpoints.
        Lots of love,
        Tertia

    12. Diann Bertucci
      Posted August 1, 2014 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      So, it seems to me that how one interprets the course depends on the level of consciousness with which we are reading it. I love the Circle’s interpretation and find Robert’s articles very inspiring and helpful in my practice. His understanding is more on my level and thus, very useful to me. The only other course teacher I have read is Ken Wapnick and his non-dualistic interpretation seems to be on a higher level (for want of a better word). By higher, I do think his views are more in keeping with the spirit of what Jesus intended, but because I am not at that level (yet), I do find some of his interpretations difficult to accept (like God does not hear our prayers or know that we exist). I pray to God as though he does hear me, so even if Ken if right, I am not able yet to act accordingly. That being said, I have found many of Ken’s teachings to be very helpful, especially in reinforcing the parts of the course that I would just as soon forget (like God did not create the world, or that our bodies were created in direct opposition to God). I thank you, Robert, for this very informative article and for taking the time to write about these differences.

    13. David Porter
      Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      W-1.157.6:1 “Your body will be sanctified today”.

      But if you read Kenneth Wapnick’s “Journey Through the Workbook”,
      look at Volume Five, lessons 151 through 180, page 159, left column, halfway down.Directly underneath this statement, Ken says:

      “Obviously it is not the body that is sanctified”

      Ken’s just teaching his own belief and using the course to back them up when it suits him He routinely ignores or redefines statements that don’t suit him. In this case, he shamelessly contradicts it.

    14. Martin Pettet
      Posted February 27, 2015 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      I think the most fundamental difference – even beyond the metaphysics – is with the very first line of the Course – “this is a course in miracles.” I know this is a radical thing to say, but I don’t think Ken Wapnick ever really believed in miracles. His has always been the ‘no pain no gain’ philosophy. He was a therapist, and remained so throughout his life. For him the Course was essentially the supreme work of psychotherapy, and its only real purpose is to uncover and untangle the deceptions of the ego in all its guises. As a scientist, the true psychotherapist has no place for miracles. Work, work, and more work, and you never come to the end because there is no end to the subtlety of the ego’s deceptions. Anyone who dares to express love, joy and peace and bliss, certainly without having done a great deal of ‘the work’ on themselves is condemned to ‘blissninnyhood’ (where did he get that word from?!). I suggest that if he had been around in their day he would have put St Francis, St Theresa, Jacob Boehme, William Blake and quite a few others in the same category. None of this is to say that his influence on the Course has not been an important one, and that his books offer very clear expositions of some of its teachings. His is, however, a very personal interpretation. Words remain words, and there is no logical justification for saying some are more ‘metaphorical’ than others. Any interpretation is just as valid as any other. It is the experience that the words point to and ultimately evoke that is really the only important thing – and with that all words end.

    15. Martin Pettet
      Posted October 28, 2015 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      I would like to modify the above comments, since they do now exist as a semi-permanent legacy. I have since come to a more balanced understanding of Ken Wapnick’s views. I apologize to him and I forgive myself for the extreme and unreasonable attack that my words here seem to advocate. Thank you.

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