Ask: What makes the Course different from other specific answers?
…Considering the topic of the latest newsletter (revisited on May 4, 2012, http://acimmentor.blogspot.com/2007/06/one-limit-to-holy-spirits-guidance.html)
about specific questions being answered by Holy Spirit, and that those 'answers' aren't for anyone else, it's more about the fact that communion with HS is happening for that person regardless of answers: What makes the Course in Miracles text any different? Were they answers to Helen's request for better ways to relate that were relevant to her and not necessarily to anyone else? Why are people gathering and sometimes almost forming a religion over answers that came just for Helen? Shouldn't we just be celebrating that she had a huge communication with Holy Spirit rather than trying to live by answers meant just for her and just for that specific time in her life? – BJ
A Course in Miracles is different because Helen Shucman kept out anything that was very specific to her from publication. She had dialogues with Jesus that were apart from her scribing of the Course. And she and Ken Wapnick were guided to take out some personal passages before publication. (These can be read in the urtext). Also, the Course was not a specific answer to a specific question. Helen and Bill Thetford were looking together for “a better way” to relate to each other and their colleagues at work. They were not consciously asking to become aware of Truth. But Helen was subsequently asked by the Holy Spirit, through a series of dreams, if she would be a “receiver”. She agreed. So this was a case of the Holy Spirit seeing an opening, not of Helen asking for a specific answer.
But it is important to know that the form of the Course was shaped by the context of Helen and Bill’s lives, minds, interests, and situation. Otherwise much of it can be (and is!) misread, as happens with all spiritual teachings taken out of context. Remember, the Course is just one form of a universal curriculum. The universal curriculum is the way to inner peace through an awareness of Truth. The many forms this lesson plan takes are always shaped by (and sometimes limited by) the mind(s) scribing, channeling, or collaborating with the Holy Spirit to write them or to speak them.
For example, Helen and Bill’s decision to find a better way to relate with others did provide the context for this form of the Holy Spirit’s lesson plan for peace. The Course teaches how to use relationships in the world to become aware of the Truth within. This is why the Course can seem to have two different levels. On the surface, it seems like it offers a better way to live with others in the world. And you can choose to limit yourself to learning only that. But it also contains a deeper message, if you want it, which leads you inward to true, lasting inner peace.
Helen was a child-psychologist and Bill was a psychiatrist, so the Course’s approach is very psychological. There are a few passages that use teaching children as examples, clearly speaking to Helen’s experience. It speaks in terms of “healing” the mind and “teaching”. Mental health professionals are types of “teachers” in what is generally regarded as a “healing” profession. So the Course speaks their language and to their identities.
Helen was not Christian, but was drawn very much to Christianity. So the language of the Course is Christian, though it redefines traditional Christian symbols, words, and concepts in loving ways that undo their frightening connotations.
Helen’s love of iambic pentameter shapes much of the writing style of the Course.
Helen also felt a need for a greater purpose, which is also stated directly in the Course (“you asked for a purpose…”). So the Course gave her a story for her part in “saving” the “sonship”. This story, though first for Helen, can also be used by students who feel a need for a purpose as they release any sense of purpose the ego gave them. It’s a temporary but necessary bridge that falls away when one becomes fulfilled by their awareness of God.
There are occasionally in the early chapters of the Text sections, and even paragraphs, which suddenly veer slightly off-topic. These read as answers to questions provoked in Helen’s mind while scribing. So in a sense they were specific to what Helen was thinking at the moment. But these are passages that contain ideas that are useful in general.
There are also passages that say something like, “you are now experiencing”, which are clearly directed toward what Helen was experiencing at the moment she scribed those passages. They wouldn’t have applied even to her specifically later on, as she advanced. Most of these, however, are things that are generally experienced by most students at some point in their study.
In the Workbook there is a lesson that says that if you are doing it right you should be seeing light around objects. This was clearly directed to the way Helen’s mind worked. Others may have a different experience, but it would be something that makes one aware of a different way of perceiving. (Frankly, nothing changed for me when I did that lesson!).
The Holy Relationship that Helen and Bill experienced is not common to most students. They were both at the exact same teaching/learning level. They were experiencing the same thing at the same time. As it says in the Manual for Teachers, these relationships are rare. The vast majority of students are either more or less advanced in their awareness of Truth than those around them, even if they know other Course students. But we can all learn the general lesson of Helen and Bill’s relationship, which is to look past the projections of the ego and to turn inward to remember God (Truth) instead.
The explanation of metaphysics (the relationship between mind and the universe of form) in the Course deals primarily with physical illness. It revisits again and again the idea that the mind, not the body, is the source of illness in the body. This indicates that this was a recurring issue for Helen. If she had ongoing fears about other forms of lack instead the Course would have discussed metaphysics in those terms.
So when you read the Course you want to keep in mind that it was written first to Helen and Bill. But its usefulness did not end with them. All spiritual teachings require lengthy and deep study with the Holy Spirit. This is because of the limitations and imperfections of the minds through which they come into the world. But also because of the limitations and imperfections of your mind. Only the Holy Spirit in your mind is Perfect, so only It, not words on a page, should be your Guide
You can learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, and 4 Habits for Inner Peace at www.acimmentor.com.
If you have a question that you want answered in the ACIM Mentor Newsletter/Blog send it to Liz@acimmentor.com and indicate that you want it answered here.