More on Theology and Interpretation

My life-partner, Courtney, has returned to her spiritual path (twelve steps) and the changes in her have been miraculous. The other day she was discussing her beliefs about God which happen to be diametrically opposed to my beliefs about God. I asked her if, now that she was back to her spirituality, she was still comfortable with us having very divergent beliefs about God. She said yes and explained again how she believes there are many paths to God. Neither of us can deny the miraculous effect of each other’s relationship with God. It reminded me again how theology is nothing and the experience of God is everything. Beliefs do not transform; a direct experience of God is all that does.

Sometimes students ask me which teachers of the A Course in Miracles I have read and which of the interpretations of the Course I follow. My teacher has been the Holy Spirit and my reading of the Course is based on my own experience. My interpretation of the Course has evolved with my relationship with the Holy Spirit and through my willingness to experience God directly. When I was first a student of A Course in Miracles all I used was my own intellect to study the Course. Even though I soon had experiences of Oneness through revelations and the holy relationship, they were not yet enough to make me abandon using my own reasoning to understand the Course. I did notice that after those experiences I seemed to have a different reading of the Course than students who had not. But I wasn’t really ready to accept what experiencing Oneness taught me. I was hoping that intellectually understanding the Course would be enough to bring me peace and I pushed aside my experiences which, in my ego-identity, were threatening. I wanted my individuality to be my reality and I read the Course from that point of view. In time, I understood the Course in parts pretty well but sensed there was a whole picture just outside my line of vision.

After many, many years it became clear to me that my intellectual grasp of the Course wasn’t enough. I put aside understanding the Course and started practicing it instead. This began a transformation in me. One day I realized had to accept what my earlier experiences of Oneness had shown me. There could be no other way to peace. As I became willing to accept Oneness as real, the whole Course began to make complete sense to me. I saw how every part fit into a simple, elegant, beautiful whole. My understanding became more intuitive and less intellectual. Instead of trying to make each line make sense, I understood each line through the context of the whole message of the Course. My interpretation became much deeper, richer, and joyful.

I hear of debates in the Course community about which interpretation of the Course is correct. These intellectual arguments are a distraction. Interpretation evolves with experience. We all begin by reading the Course through our own ego-experience. It is hard to understand Oneness from an individual perspective so we try to make the most sense of it we can. For example, for many students the only way to understand that they continue beyond existence in the world is to believe in reincarnation. This is why the Course says that while reincarnation is not a fact, it can be a helpful belief temporarily. It is important that first a student accepts that there is more to life than this world. How they believe this is not so important. In time, as they accept more and more direct experiences of God, Oneness becomes more real to them and individuality begins to fall away. The words in the Course then take on new meaning.

There is no right or wrong interpretation of the Course; only helpful or unhelpful interpretations. Helpful interpretations lift your fear of God so you become more willing to approach God directly. Experience of God, not time, is what deepens your understanding of the Course. If you are too attached to a specific theology or interpretation you may not let in experiences that may show you Truth in another light or you may disregard or distort experiences of Truth that do no jive with what you have intellectually come to accept. Transformation comes not through your intellect, but through an open mind and willingness to experience God directly.

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