Arguing About the Course

Occasionally a student writes to tell me that the way that I interpret A Course in Miracles is wrong. Sometimes they say this outright, sometimes they couch this statement in more subtle terms. This is fine with me because what students think of me or what I write is about them, not about me. But I used to feel trapped because I didn’t want to get into dueling interpretations. If I just say “you’re right” when what they are saying contradicts what I just wrote, then they’ll think I’m lying. If I defend what I wrote – which I don’t even feel is required - I’m making them wrong, and I don’t believe this. There is no one “right” way to read the Course – there are only helpful and unhelpful ways to read it. And this evolves over time. What is a helpful interpretation for you now might not have been so before, and it might not be so in the future. Your Teacher is within you, and your Teacher knows what you need to hear now, and what you can understand now. So I asked the Holy Spirit how I was supposed to respond to these email, and the answer I got was to respond to my critics in the same way that I respond to positive emails - I simply acknowledge receipt of their email by thanking them for their comments.

It is not my business to “correct” others’ interpretations of the Course. I offer my experience, and I expect students to read it with the Holy Spirit, take what is useful for themselves, and drop the rest. My writing and my services are simply tools that students can choose to use for their spiritual awakening. Students can even learn by disagreeing with me because the contrast can help them to clarify their own beliefs. So I developed the policy of not getting into interpretations of the Course unless someone asks me directly for clarification. Of course, I make exceptions to this with students who come to my study group, or who hire me as their mentor, but even then I only offer my experience if I get a nudge from the Holy Spirit to do so. There is a lot that I just let go by because, in the end, theology doesn’t matter a hoot; it is a student’s experience of Oneness with God that is transformative.

Most students learn pretty early on that if they try to share what is in the Course with non-students who are not open to it, it will result in an indifferent response at best, and in fear and anger at worst. It is really no different with other students. When you feel an urge to correct someone else’s beliefs it’s an indication that you are not yet comfortable in your own beliefs, and that you’re hoping that if you can get others to validate them you will become more comfortable. If you can recognize this then you can skip correcting others, and just go to the Holy Spirit within for clarification.

Comments

Joanna said…
Great posting. I have been reading Kenneth Wapnick's book the "The Healing Power of Kindess-Releasing Judgement" and he talks quite a bit about the arguing that goes on between people taking the Course or the strong opinions about the "right" or "wrong" way to interpret things. In fact, some of the most hurtful things you can say to a fellow seeker is that they are not doing things right or that their views are incorrect. Unconditional love, forgiveness, empathy and understanding appear to me to be fundamental principles of the Course.

I have had many occasions to use this as an opportunity for growth. When I clarify my perspective it is my "ego" needing approval for my thoughts on something. So when people seek answers to something or clarification, I always like to start with, "I believe that ______ means________." or "In my experience I find ________." I do this instead of saying. "No, you're wrong in looking at it that way." The last comment is more of an attack than a helpful suggestion or a sharing of insight. However, I have said it both ways. It is just now on my journey that I am realizing that my way of looking at the world is just that....MY way and everyone is entitled to their own interpretation. There are many paths. My path is just one way.

When I open my mind and am willing to accept other people's perspective and why they see it this way, then I am able to grow. There are times when I feel that the way they are looking at things is harmful to them. I try to stay focused on my thoughts instead of what I may believe is their misconception. At times I say, "Have you ever tried looking at it this way?" Or "When I think of you I see something much more positive, perhaps changing the lens you look at this particular thing would help take you away from negative self talk or it may free you to experience acceptance." But I try to refrain from the words, "You are wrong in your interpretation."

David R Hawkins has done the Course and I love this quote of his.

"With humility comes the willingness to stop trying to control or change other people or life situations or events ostensibly 'for their own good'. To be a committed spiritual seeker, it is necessary to relinquish the desire to be 'right' or of imaginary value to society. In fact, nobody's ego or belief systems are of any value to society at all. The world is neither good nor bad nor defective, nor is it in need of help or modification because its appearance is only a projection of one's own mind. No such world exists."

Another things I think I fall into is thinking I know what is best for other people. When it comes to staying on the path I believe that only God and their inner Christ is privy to this information. If they ask me a question, I can only share my perspective as my experience and strength-not as fact.

I struggle with this less the more I become aware of it. With awareness of my tendency to be "self righteous" I am able to pray for humility and the willingness to change.

The downside of spiritual education is the buildup of the vanity of 'I know' and the devaluation of people who are not spiritual enough or not spiritual in your context. Therefore it is important as a foundation to spiritual training and education to learn how consciousness manifests as the ego and its mechanisms.(Hawkins)

In my experience, I have struggled the most with people who think they have mastered spirituality and hence shut the door on further growth. I believe that it is a process that has no end.

The more I keep my mind open and the more I understand how little I understand and grasp spiritual matters, then the more receptive I am to the teachings and readings and thoughts and understandings of others. That keeps the garden watered and under sunlight so that I am able to grow more.

Yes, I keep what I like and leave the rest. However, I sit in silent prayer often asking for clarity, acceptance, tolerance and diminishing of my ego. I still have such a long way to go.

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