How Do I Know the Course Is True?

Question: How do you know that what A Course in Miracles says is true? Is this a faith thing?

Answer: I don't know for sure that it's true, nor do I believe anyone else does, since the Course itself tells us that absolute certainty is impossible in a world of perception. Therefore, affirming the truth of the Course is a faith thing to a significant extent. However, I don't regard it as a blind faith thing. Rather, my faith is supported by evidence. This evidence is not sufficient to prove that the Course is true, but in my eyes it is sufficient to render the Course plausible enough for me to walk its path. And the Course claims that walking its path is what will lead eventually to the total conviction that it is true.

To illustrate how I think this works, I'd like to describe in brief my own journey with the Course. Everyone's journey is different, of course, but hopefully sharing my version of it will at least give a rough idea of the process. My journey could be divided into four broad stages (with some overlap between them, and with the last one still to come). Each stage is characterized by the accumulation of more evidence in support of the Course, which has increased my faith in it:

1. When I first discovered the Course, I was attracted enough to explore it further.

I first heard of the Course through a church I attended. The minister would sometimes quote from it, and every time I heard a quote from it, I liked what I heard. So, eventually, I went to the church bookstore and bought a copy. I began to read it and was immediately hooked, reading all three volumes cover to cover in a brief time. In retrospect, I realize that I understood very little of it in that first read—through, but I was deeply attracted to the quiet authority of its author, the beauty of its words, and the intriguing ideas it presented. There was just something that felt right about it. I remember being especially impacted by section 27 of the Manual, which states that a loving God could not and did not create death. This hit me like a ton of bricks. "Of course!" I said to myself. "That simply has to be true."

At this point, the only evidence I really had for the Course's validity was my attraction to it. This wasn't much, but it did give me enough faith in the Course to warrant studying it further.

2. When I explored the Course further, I found enough reasons to believe the Course to make me want to choose it as my path.

Thus began a process of about six years, in which I alternated periods of studying the Course intensely with periods when I put it aside. Over that time, my belief in the Course slowly grew. A crucial development in that process was that I became more and more convinced that it really was written by Jesus. There were lots of reasons for this, including the quiet authority I mentioned above, the remarkable story of the Course's genesis, and the absolute brilliance of the Course on all levels: literary, psychological, theological, etc. (Later on, I was also struck by the stunning similarities between the Course's author and the historical Jesus revealed by modern scholarship.) The more I studied the Course and practiced with it, the more blown away I was by it.

This growing evidence for the Course's validity increased my faith in it. This faith, combined with a striking inner experience of Jesus that confirmed in my mind that I was meant to teach the Course, was enough to make me choose it as my path—or, more accurately, to admit that the Course's path had chosen me.

3. When I chose the Course as my path, its positive impact on my life was enough to make me want to continue on its path.

As I've walked the path of the Course over time, my belief in it has continued to grow. I'm more convinced than ever that Jesus really wrote it. I continue to marvel at its literary beauty and sheer brilliance. Again and again, I'm amazed by its explanatory power: its ability to provide plausible and thought-provoking explanations for things that have mystified human beings for centuries (for instance, its theory of special relationships, which explains so cogently why our most "loving" relationships are so full of attack). And while I don't claim any great attainments, I can honestly say that the more I've actually worked with the Course as it instructs us to do—studying its teaching, doing its practice, extending love to others—the happier my life has become. I deal more effectively with the problems of my life. My baseline mental state is more peaceful and forgiving than before. I've found a sense of meaning and purpose in my life. I've even has some remarkable (for me at least) peak experiences, where I've felt God's Presence to a degree that I never imagined could happen to me.

All of this evidence has continued to deepen my faith in the Course. Of course, I still cannot claim anything resembling certainty, but my faith today is strong enough to make me want to continue on its path for the rest of my life.

4. If I continue on the Course's path, it promises that I will eventually become one hundred percent convinced that the Course is true.

This is the endpoint Jesus is leading us to. As I said earlier, the Course tells us that it is walking its path that will lead eventually to the total conviction that it is true. One of the best descriptions of how this conviction develops is from Lesson 284:

Loss is not loss when properly perceived. Pain is impossible. There is no grief with any cause at all. And suffering of any kind is nothing but a dream. This is the truth, at first to be but said and then repeated many times; and next to be accepted as but partly true, with many reservations. Then to be considered seriously more and more, and finally accepted as the truth. (W-pII.284.1:1-6)

This paragraph starts out with some of the Course's most radical ideas. There is no loss? Pain is impossible? All grief is causeless? All suffering is only a dream? Let's face it, none of us really believes this is true right now, however much we may profess it. But fortunately, we don't have to fully accept this as the truth before starting our work with the Course; on the contrary, it is the process of doing the Course that produces such acceptance. We start out just saying these radical things. Then we repeat them many times, as the Workbook has us do in so many of its lessons. As time goes on, we begin to see some truth in what we're saying, but continue to insert lots of caveats and exceptions. As we continue to walk the path, though, those caveats and exceptions are gradually laid aside, until we finally come to total conviction that what the Course is saying is really true.

This, then, is how we eventually come to know the Course is true: We develop enough faith to walk its path as it directs, which gives us evidence that it is true, which increases our faith in it, leading eventually, at the very end of the journey, to certainty. The Course sums it up in these words:

This course offers a very direct and a very simple learning situation, and provides the Guide Who tells you what to do. If you do it, you will see that it works. Its results are more convincing than its words. They will convince you that the words are true. (T-9.V.9:1-4)

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