The Spiritual Path of A Course in Miracles

Q: How can I make the Course practical?

The Course is a full-fledged spiritual path. It provides not only a teaching, but also "an organized, well-structured and carefully planned program" (T-12.II.10:1) to help us practically apply that teaching to our own lives. This program can be broadly summarized in three steps, each represented by a particular volume of the Course (these steps and the volumes that represent them overlap, of course; this is simply a broad outline):

The Text = Study
The Text presents the thought system of the Course; the rest of the Course is based upon and assumes the Text. Through study, the ideas that will eventually become our new thought system enter our awareness and are considered for the first time.

The Workbook = Practice
The Workbook is a training manual in the Course's method of spiritual practice, the exact same method of practice as recommended in the Text. Through practice, the ideas that we first encountered in the Text sink more deeply into our minds and become more fully our own.

The Manual for Teachers = Extension
The Manual for Teachers is intended primarily for experienced students who have gone through the Text and Workbook and are ready now for the final aspect of the Course's program: extension to others (working miracles). We extend to others through communicating—by thought, word, and deed—the healed perceptions we have allowed into our minds. Through extension, the ideas that entered our minds in the Text and that were reinforced by Workbook practice are further reinforced; it is by extending them that they become fully our own.

So, the simple answer to the question of how to make the Course practical is: Follow the Course's own program.

This website contains a wealth of articles on every aspect of the program, and Circle Publishing also has books and workshops that cover each aspect. Visit our bookstore for more information.

Q: Is the Course a self-study course?

The short answer, in our opinion, is no. Though the Course is often depicted as a "self-study" course by its students, the author of the Course never described it that way himself. He did, however, indicate in the pages of the Course itself how he intended it to be studied. Based on a careful examination of the Manual for Teachers, we believe that A Course in Miracles, rather than a self-study course, is intended to be a path one receives from one's teacher

We believe that the teacher-pupil relationship described in the Manual is the answer to the myriad problems Course students face in making sense of this massive, sophisticated, challenging book—problems that have been exacerbated by the idea that A Course in Miracles is a self-study Course. And so we believe it is time to seriously reconsider this idea.

Q: Who teaches the Course?

The Course describes a hierarchy of three teachers who work together. They are listed here in the order of the level of direct access the pupil has to them:

  1. The human teacher: This is a more mature student of the Course who plays the role of mentor to newer Course students. This person could be described as a "student-teacher" who is meant to work under the tutelage of the other two teachers.
  2. Jesus: He is the purported author of the Course. He assumes the role of teacher in several ways. First, he is the one who designed this course and authored all of its instructional materials. Second, he promises that he can instruct every student personally, from inside the student's mind. Finally, he can teach us through the example of his life two thousand years ago. He could be described as the "professor" who teaches this course.
  3. The Holy Spirit: He is Jesus' Teacher, and He also serves as each student's internal Teacher and Guide. He could be described as the "dean," the Head of the entire education system.

All of these teachers have an important role to play in the educational program. The Course envisions a flow of teaching issuing from the Holy Spirit, flowing through Jesus, through the human teacher, and finally illuminating the student with its guidance and wisdom. The higher the teacher is on this hierarchy, the closer he is to the Source of perfect knowledge. The lower he is, the more direct access that teacher has to the student. If all the levels are in place, therefore, a high level of wisdom can shine down and reach the student through physical interaction with his teacher.

Q: Should the Course be done in combination with other spiritual paths, or by itself?

The answer here depends largely on the answer to this question: Has the Holy Spirit chosen the Course for you as your sole spiritual path? If the answer is no (or if you are still in the process of finding the answer), then it is perfectly appropriate to combine it with other paths. But if the answer is yes, then our view is that it is best to do the Course by itself.

There are many reasons for this view, but they could be boiled down to two:

  1. Our experience is that trying to combine the Course with other paths inevitably introduces conflict and dilutes the Course.
  2. The Course itself suggests the value of following its path alone, and claims that we need nothing else: "You are studying a unified thought system in which nothing is lacking that is needed, and nothing is included that is contradictory or irrelevant" (W-pI.42.7:2).

Doing the Course alone does not mean looking down upon other paths, nor does it mean that you are forbidden to learn more about and gain inspiration from other paths. It simply means that, though you honor other paths as valid ways to God and gain inspiration from those paths, the Course is the particular path you walk. Commitment to the Course frees you from conflict and allows you tosingle-mindedly follow its path with every ounce of our being.