Course Meets World Commentary Greg Mackie

On this page, I will post short commentaries relating A Course in Miracles to a topic "in the news." Here's how it works: I will present material drawn from the world's media—a newspaper article, a blog, an Internet discussion, etc. (with a link to the original source). Then, I will discuss the relationship I see between it and A Course in Miracles. For example, I might show how it echoes things said in the Course, or contrast what it says with the Course's view of the same topic. The goal is to bring a Course perspective to topics being discussed in the larger world.

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  • "Deep Down, We Can't Fool Even Ourselves" Abraham Lincoln famously said that you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. But a recent New York Times article describing psychological research on moral hypocrisy suggests that there's at least one person we can never really fool: ourselves. While on the surface we live by double standards, telling ourselves that our selfish actions are justified while condemning the same actions in others, deep down we know better. Underneath our rationalizations, we know what we're doing is wrong, and judge ourselves by the same standards we apply to everyone else. I believe this research provides a revealing window into the workings of the ego as depicted in A Course in Miracles.
  • Miracles Happen to Everybody Recently I came across the remarkable story of Ingrid Betancourt. She is the former candidate for the presidency of Colombia who was recently rescued (with fourteen others) after six years of being held hostage by the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). She and her fellow captives endured an incredible ordeal so hellish that it is difficult for me to even imagine. But I find in her response to that ordeal a powerful demonstration of Course in Miracles principles of forgiveness, devotion to the welfare of others, and conviction in the power of God to bring about miracles even in the darkest of times.
  • The Gift of Forgiveness I am a hospice volunteer, and to help me in my work I'm reading a wonderful book called The Needs of the Dying by David Kessler, an associate of the late Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. In it there is a beautiful story that illustrates the teaching of A Course in Miracles that every situation, no matter how difficult or painful it may seem, provides us with a precious gift: the opportunity to forgive.
  • Jill Bolte Taylor: A Stroke of Insight? Many Course students have sent me a link to a video of a talk by Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist who had a powerful spiritual experience of peace, joy, and oneness during a stroke. The video has become a sensation; more than two million viewers have seen it, and it continues to get twenty thousand hits a day. She has become a bona fide celebrity, writing a bestselling book called My Stroke of Insight, appearing on Oprah, and recently being named one of TIME Magazine's one hundred most influential people. Her message: We can all have a spiritual experience just like hers if we simply get out of our left brains and into our right brains. What would A Course in Miracles have to say about this? In my opinion, while the experience itself was remarkable and looks to me like the kind of experience the Course wants to facilitate, her interpretation of it as a call to move to the right brain is both questionable as science and not truly compatible with the Course.
  • Pain Is Deception; Joy Alone Is Truth One of the most radical teachings of A Course in Miracles is that "It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain" (W-pI.190.5:1), and the joy of God is the only thing that's real. This sounds wonderful in theory, since it offers us the possibility of exchanging pain for joy by changing our thoughts. But as we go through life enduring one seemingly intractable pain after another, this idea becomes more and more difficult to believe. When you're in pain, it feels so compellingly real, an inevitable consequence of life on earth. How can it be only a product of your own mind? Yet as difficult as this idea is to believe, we do have evidence that points in its direction. For instance, I read recently about a man who used hypnosis to go through a surgery painlessly, without chemical anesthesia of any kind.
  • Can Evolution Be Reconciled with God? The battle between proponents of evolution and "intelligent design" is all the rage these days. Can evolution be reconciled with God? The fundamentalists who are the main advocates of intelligent design say no: Genesis says God created every species in the beginning, they believe it, and that settles it. Scientific atheists like Richard Dawkins also say no, but from the other side: Science says every species evolved over time, God is obviously a primitive delusion, and that settles it. Then there are those like Francisco Ayala, the subject of a recent New York Times article that prompted this piece, who affirm evolution but also insist that yes, it can be reconciled with God. Where does A Course in Miracles stand on this issue? Though it barely mentions evolution, I believe that it does ultimately reconcile evolution with God. However, as is so characteristic of the Course, it does so in a unique and unexpected way.
  • Taking Your Mugger Out to Dinner Jesus' teachings on how to respond to attack have always been challenging. In the gospels, he calls us to turn the other cheek, give the coat and the shirt off our back, and go the extra mile. In A Course in Miracles, he calls us to be wholly gentle, respond to all attacks with loving help, and cheerfully comply when someone makes an "outrageous" request of us. Christians and Course students alike, when confronted with these teachings, ask: Does he really mean it? Does he want us to literally do these things? Or is this just hyperbole meant to encourage loving kindness, not a realistic way to live in the world? As challenging as it is, I think he really does mean it quite literally. The transformative power of actually living this teaching was vividly demonstrated recently in the remarkable story of Julio Diaz, a man who took his mugger out to dinner.
  • Give 'Til It Feels Good, Part 2 In an earlier Course Meets World Commentary, Give 'Til It Feels Good," I reported on a scientific study which showed that giving money to others increases the happiness of those who give. This week, I read about another study that has reached the same conclusion. This study, conducted by a research team from the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School, found that spending even a small amount of money on another person can make us significantly happier than if we had spent it on ourselves—even if we had believed the exact opposite prior to the giving. More and more, it seems that science is confirming a basic principle of A Course in Miracles: "To give and to receive are one in truth" (W-pI.108.Heading)
  • Easter: The Great Reversal As I'm writing this it is Holy Week, the time when Christians commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The events of Holy Week have been celebrated as "good news" for centuries, and for good reason: They represent a great reversal, the overcoming of evil, sin, and death by goodness, holiness, and eternal life. Yet A Course in Miracles presents a very different version of that reversal than traditional Christianity, and I find myself reflecting on just how different (and more profound, in my view) the Course's version is.
  • Is the Pursuit of Happiness Misguided? The past ten years or so have seen a spate of books and self-help gurus promoting the attainment of permanent happiness. But according to a recent article in Newsweek by Sharon Begley entitled "Happiness: Enough Already," there has lately been a backlash against the "happiness movement." New books such as Eric Wilson's Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy argue that the quest for constant happiness is fundamentally misguided. It makes normal sadness into a pathology, and by demonizing discontent, it robs us of the motivation to become better people and make the world a better place. As a student of A Course in Miracles, a path which aims to bring us permanent happiness, I've been pondering the question: How would the Course answer the critics of the pursuit of happiness? My short answer is that I think the Course would actually agree that seeking the kind of "happiness" promoted in most self-help books is misguided, since it is really a pseudo-happiness. However, the Course's remedy is not to abandon the pursuit of happiness, but to seek and find true happiness.

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