A Course In Miracles Is Confusing Me!
I suspect I’m not the only one who has looked up from this book in exasperation and declared, A Course In Miracles Is Confusing Me! If you are currently giving ACIM your best effort, this blog hopes to help you through the daily lessons by clarifying terms and equalizing the gender playing field so that the value of the teachings persevere.
What is A Course In Miracles?
A Course In Miracles is a spiritual text set within the most modern, adaptable, and relevant structure the world has ever known. To study texts like the Upanishads, Vedic texts, the bible, or other ancient spiritual classics, we need an academic commitment and a lot of patience to wade through all the footnotes and references. The modern, conversational voice of A Course In Miracles is accessible to as wide an audience as possible.
Even so, anyone who makes it past Lesson 12 will encounter very traditional Judeo-Christian language which, from my personal experience, created a block in my mind while seeking to comprehend the daily teachings.
When I began reading A Course In Miracles, I did not know anything about it. My interest in reading it was the same as my interest in reading Krishnamurti, Eckhart Tolle, The Tao Te Ching, and other books known in the self-realization community as classics. I did not know the book was written in strong Judeo-Christian language. When I discovered this, I almost put the book down. But something about the tone the book was written in held my attention. I had a strong sense that there was value within the religious language which the toxic, misguided people of my past had no right to keep me from accessing. To not overcome my repulsion of religious language would be to allow those abusers to maintain the appropriation of words they did not deserve to use for purposes completely counter to the original purpose of those very words. I also felt it would be wrong to stop reading a book because it seemed religious. As a woman of science, I knew reading a book could not harm me, and in fact, it was my responsibility to thoroughly inform myself of the material if I were to shape an objective, honest opinion about it.
It is not until lesson 12 that religious language appears. By then, I was deeply interested in the logic of the book and where that logic was leading me. I would wake up each morning, eager to discover the next statement in the course when one day I found my mind draw a blank when encountering Lesson 174 which states, “I will accept my part in God’s plan for salvation.” My irritation grew too large to ignore. I also discovered that when I asked in an angry outburst, “What do you mean, “salvation?” (I actually think I said, “What the hell do you mean by “salvation?”) I received an answer in a very gentle, uneventful way. While looking up how to spell a word on the online Webster’s dictionary, what word should I stumble onto? Salvation. The dictionary definition did not have any religious tone. When I brought that definition to the day’s lesson, the message became quite simple and straightforward.
This kept happening. Whenever a real conflict with the religious terminology would arise in me, so too would an answer arrive… very quietly a day or so later, a different definition would rise like the dawn in my awareness so that when I read the text again, it did not cause the initial irritation.
With every new lesson I found myself silently asking for clarifications such as, “Why do you not say “child” here instead of “son” to include both genders?” I would ask, “What do you mean by the word “sin” here?” Slowly, gently, an answer to my questions would emerge.
As my questions grew more lengthy, the answers also grew lengthy. I took up a pen to receive the longer answers and I realized I was now in a living relationship with the book. I was having a conversation with it, as real as any I’d have with a person.
My irritation with the religious language did not go away and that religious language unapologetically just grew thicker as the lessons went on. Sometimes I questioned the day’s lesson in great irritation. On those days I experienced the voice as a kind of silent presence, like someone waiting patiently. I would hear the voice say, “ It is difficult to reach you with language right now but I am still here. All is well. Clarity is coming.” This brought me to realize that my way of thinking was making me unreachable. My anger blocks the ability to hear the voice. But that voice was still there, waiting to begin communicating again whenever I was able.
Ever so slowly, I was guided out of anger and frustration. I would wake and find the frustrated way I’d been thinking about a lesson was just no longer there. I’d read the lesson that had caused so much irritation and wonder, confused what about it had bothered me. My anger grew less and less, not just with the book, but with everything and everyone. Something real was happening while I read this book each day. Real changes in my experience of daily life were occurring in ways gentler than I’d ever known. Small, subtle gentleness began streaming into my daily experiences in such monumental ways that when I would meet people, I would smile big and feel I had big news to share with them. But I found I had nothing really to report to them other than, “I feel very peaceful! It is amazing! It is a… miracle.” Nothing was happening but big things were happening.
I refrained from saying, “I am reading the most amazing book!” because I knew how that would sound. I also knew that the Christian language the book was written in was not going to be tolerated by most of the people I associate with, and I totally respected and understood that perspective.
Reading the religious language did not get easier because that religious language grows thicker and thicker as the courses go on. This is deliberate on the part of the author. The author of the book is consciously choosing to keep these terms in circulation and to reclaim them from centuries of religious abuse inflicted by people who had appropriated the language to seeking control rather than truth.
While reading the book, I became aware of a sense of “looking over my shoulder” hoping that if anyone found out I was reading A Course In Miracles that they would not misperceive me as a religious person. I was not and am not a religious person. I am a truth seeker. I was enduring all this Christian terminology but it was not speaking to me easily and I was certainly not enraptured by it. I read the book despite that language because my connection with the silent Voice within was so clear and strong.
When I came to the the day’s lesson that said, “I will accept my part in God’s plan for salvation” (Lesson 174) I finally said to that quiet voice within, “I really can’t take much more of this. Why is this written in such problematic language?”
The voice said very gently, very quietly, “We would be happy to have you change how the lessons are said.” A desire to put the teachings into my own words arose.
But it is not only the religious language that makes the text a challenge to read. The concepts invariably lead one to say- A Course In Miracles Is Confusing Me!
This blog is an effort to bring the archaic language of religious terminology into a more relevant translation for modern minds so that the valuable messages are accessible and meaningful for today’s way of thinking.