Learning Beyond What's In ACIM

Sometimes I write about topics that are not mentioned in A Course in Miracles but which come out of my experiences with the Holy Spirit (Awareness of Truth in my mind). Sometimes this prompts emails from readers who want to know where they can read about that topic in ACIM. Some seem to be genuinely interested in reading ACIM’s take on the topic. Others seem to imply that because it is not mentioned in ACIM it is not really appropriate for me to write about as part of spiritual practice.

For example, I write a lot about setting boundaries in relationships. I find that boundaries are a very common need among ACIM students. Many seem to feel that being spiritual means taking inappropriate responsibility for others and/or being a doormat.  They think that if they just forgive enough another’s inappropriate or dysfunctional behavior will change. Or they feel that if they had truly forgiven they would no longer see the other’s behavior as inappropriate or dysfunctional. Undoing the beliefs that underlie this form of co-dependency is what I work on with most of my clients.

But there is no discussion about building boundaries in ACIM. For Helen Schucman, co-dependency, the ego’s (personal thought system’s) universal approach to relationships, showed up not as taking too much responsibility for others but as asking others to take responsibility for her. She was a martyr; a victim full of grievances. Others let her down by not following her “scripts” for them.

ACIM is not a comprehensive teaching that covers everyone’s experiences. Yes, most of what it describes about the ego is universal, but some is specific. For example, Helen used illness to make others guilty. Not everyone does this. And not every egoic experience is included in ACIM. For example, some use illness to avoid unpleasant situations, like work or undesired family events. This is not mentioned in ACIM. As with any spiritual teaching, you must discern the spirit of the lesson and not take the letter of the lesson so literally. This is what ACIM means when it says that you will learn to generalize your lessons.

ACIM is not an end in itself. It is the means to becoming aware of the Truth in your mind. And that Awareness (Holy Spirit) will lead you through and past your obstacles to peace, not all of which are described in ACIM. For example, guilt manifested in me, yes, by my projecting it onto others and making myself a victim. But it also showed up as my taking too much responsibility for others. This was a much larger and deeper obstacle for me. I actually felt it was my god-given responsibility to “fix” others and that belief had to be rooted out and undone. This was a long process on which I was led not by ACIM directly, but by the Holy Spirit within me. ACIM led me to the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit led me past my obstacles to being aware of Truth, many of which were not specifically mentioned in ACIM.

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will said…
Google: 'Carl Jung's Near-Death Experience.'
bat said…
great article. Ken Wapnick uses the concept of Form vs. Content to illustrate this point. I like your idea about generalizing the lessons, it resonates with me. Thank you again Liz.
Christine said…
Thanks, Will, I read the very first Google search thing that popped up on the list. Fascinating! I never had heard this about Jung. I thought he was an atheist (perhaps he had been?) Not that he "got religion", but that he opened up his consciousness, etc...long, but worth reading, especially the last five paragraphs.
will said…
In the preface to Jung's piece there are a few things highlighted to serve as links. Archetypal Higher Self and Collective Unconscious that are very interesting.
will said…
Boundaries are so critical in a spiritual life. I have had some real school of hard knocks since I started doing the course. Poor boundaries with people leads to the loss of your mind (concentration and focus). No concentration and focus, no spiritual life. Special relationships are deadly.
nicci said…
liz, thank you deeply. i remain ever grateful to the Presence that directed me to your guidance. endless Love, nicci
walt dutchak said…
Thank you.
... to observe the movement of thought(mind) ...
The truth is not in the word. Words can only point.
Anonymous said…
This article and its discussion about the "controversial" topic of boundaries explains why so many students seem to get nowhere with the Course and give up or simply use it to perpetuate and reinforce guilt in their minds. The other Course teachers I've encountered don't teach like Liz does. Their interpretation is too narrow and leads to mis-understanding and mis-applying. Since I started studying with Liz I really don't give a hoot what the original text has to say.
Anonymous said…
Question for Liz,
On what evidence do you base your comments re. Helen Schucman: "For Helen Schucman, co-dependency, the ego’s (personal thought system’s) universal approach to relationships, showed up not as taking too much responsibility for others but as asking others to take responsibility for her. She was a martyr; a victim full of grievances. Others let her down by not following her “scripts” for them." I am quite curious since she is so revered in the Course community.
ACIM Mentor said…
Anonymous, ACIM itself is the evidence! It's all about Helen and her approach to relationships and how she could heal them. That's why ACIM is a limited teaching: It is first and foremost for Helen and Bill and their relationship. They were in a unique Holy Relationship where they were at the same teaching/learning level so they were experiencing the same lessons together. The rest of us have to learn to generalize their lessons for ourselves. Just as I wrote about in this article.
Anonymous said…
Follow-up question for Liz:
Sorry for being a bit slow on the uptake but I don't want to guess or assume. Could you give an example or two re. the Course being written for Helen and Bill and how Helen's "martyrdom" showed up?
will said…
I think you have to be careful about Helen and not put her in a box. Ken Wapnick who knew her for many years would concur with the description of many of her personal traits. But and it's a big But, he said she was a spiritual giant (my words). He said she didn't do the course but that she didn't need to. She already was the course. I'll look around and find where I read that.

walt dutchak said…
Hi Anonymous: I do not know about Helen's "martyrdom" but perhaps the following will help - If I am way off then please excuse.
From: A Course in Miracles - Combined Volume
Read in the PREFACE - How it Came - pg vii
"A Course in Miracles began with the sudden decision of two people to join in a common goal. There names were Helen Schucman and William Thedford..."
Helen and Bill had great difficulty getting along on the job.
Helen writes, "The head of my department unexpectedly announced that he was tired of the angry and aggressive feelings our attitudes reflected, and concluded that 'there must be another way.'
As if on cue, I agreed to help him find it. Apparently this Course is the other way."
Purpose of the Course: on page viii (PREFACE):
"Its only purpose is to provide a way in which SOME people will be able to FIND THEIR OWN Internal Teacher." (Capitalization mine)
Page ix - "The Course makes no claim to finality, nor are the Workbook lessons intended to bring the student's learning to completion."
Page x - "This Course is a beginning, not an end..."

Regarding "there must be another way" to fix their problems (pg. vii)
"Although their intention was serious, they had great difficulty in starting out on THEIR JOINT VENTURE." (Caps mine)
"It represented a truly collaborative venture between Bill and myself, and MUCH OF ITS SIGNIFICANCE LIES IN THAT." - 'It' refers to the writing of the Course in Miracles and the significance of the collaborative venture implies that the course was working its way through the two of them to help them in the current needs of their life situation.

Helen also says on the same page "It seemed to be a special assignment I had somehow, somewhere agreed to complete."; and then later she says of Bill, "I expect he had his special assignment, too."
will said…
I think you have to decide for yourself if the course is about Jesus trying to change Helen and Bill. Was Jesus the great counselor in the sky trying to change Helen and in the process making the dream real. Was the course written through the haze of Helen’s co-dependency and should be understood as such. Or is her co-dependency a moot point. It’s a subjective question. The problem with bringing Helen’s personality into the course is, it becomes a slippery slope. You have to make your decisions about the Holy Spirit and Jesus being involved in changing Helen’s personality. And clearly that is not what is happening. But it’s subjective and there is no answer, just on how you want to approach it.
ACIM Mentor said…
Gosh, Anonymous, the whole book is now so obviously directed at Helen's specific mind that I can only say the whole thing is reveals her particular psychology. All the talk about holding onto grievances. That's was her martyrdom. Also, those passages later in the book discussing her using illness to make another guilty. But I know while I was always aware that it was tilted toward Helen's experience, I didn't see it as clearly as I do now. And that was because so much of her psychology is generally true for all of us.

As for Helen and Bill's relationship, originally, "your brother" was "each other". Also, read chapter 16, 17 especially about their Holy Relationship.
ACIM Mentor said…
Will, "Jesus" (actually, the Christ - or Awareness of Truth - in their minds, not someone "in the sky") was not trying to change Helen and Bill. They were seeking a "better way" for their relationships. So they were seeking to change themselves and unconsciously invited Christ into their awareness. Also, none of ACIM is about changing anyone's personality. It's about changing one's mind if one is willing.

Co-dependency is not a personality trait. It's a dysfunctional approach to relationships that is caused by guilt. So co-dependency falling away is a natural result of undoing guilt.
will said…
Liz, “in the sky” was humor. The course being about Helen and her approach to relationships and how she could heal them depends on your paradigm. Others may see it as a universal course, written with everyone in mind. How a person sees Helen and the text and Jesus is subjective. I am using subjective in a philosophical and spiritual context. It is the way a person experiences things in his or her own mind. It’s important to remember the editing process pre publication. This was a spiritual endeavor done through Jesus or Awareness of Truth if you will along with a number of people being involved. I have never read anywhere that the people involved in the editing ever saw it as being about Helen and Bill.
will said…
"Jesus began the dictation of the Course this way:
This is a course in miracles, please take notes."
Absence From Felicity, Chapter 7

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