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.

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