Ask: Is it enough to intellectually master the ideas in the Course?
I have read that if one undertakes the Course as an exercise in academic learning, as a study of ideas to be mastered, you will fail…I’m in a study group where I think this is exactly what we are doing. – MW
A Course in Miracles intends for its ideas to be used, not just thought about:
“This is not a course in the play of ideas, but in their practical application.” (T-11.VIII.5)
“This course has explicitly stated that its goal for you is happiness and peace.” (T-13.II.7)
But that can be quite apart from your goal for studying it. The measure of your success or failure in any endeavor is determined by your own goal for it. If your goal is to intellectually grasp the concepts in A Course in Miracles then study alone may be enough for you to reach your goal. But if your goal is lasting happiness and peace, which is the goal the Course intends for you, then you must put its ideas into practice to attain this goal.
Every student begins studying the Course as a merely intellectual exercise. This is because you are identified with ego (personal self) and you are afraid of what the Course teaches. It teaches that the way to peace is to become aware of your true identity in God (Truth) and to release your identification with ego. So it feels at first that you are being asked to give up the only identity that you think you know and this feels like death. Reading and thinking about this does not undo your mis-identification with ego so it feels safe to study the Course as long as you do not put its ideas into practice.
This stage seems to last 5-10 years, although I have met students who have stayed at this point for much longer. (I was there for 15 years myself). This is not wasted time. The loving message of the Course chips away at your misunderstanding and fear of God. And you can also take the first step in practically applying the ideas in the Course by inviting the Holy Spirit (Teacher of Truth) in your mind into your study. This is necessary to grow your awareness of God within and begin the shift in your identification away from ego.
You eventually reach a point in your studying where you realize that as much as you understand the Course you are still not at peace. This is when you find the willingness to put its ideas into practice in your everyday life. Putting the Course’s ideas into practice means to come from the Holy Spirit within you. And this is how you learn that the Holy Spirit is you. This is when you begin to experience success in achieving your goal of lasting peace and happiness.
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 the answer to which you think will help others send it to Liz@acimmentor.com and indicate that you want it answered in the ACIM Mentor Newsletter/Blog.