My life and work are informed by my lifelong practice and study of A Course in Miracles. This summary is for friends and clients interested in understanding the "big picture" perspective (metaphysics) of ACIM.
What ACIM Says
A Non-Dual Spirituality
A Course in Miracles is a non-dual spirituality in the sense that Buddhism and Advaita are non-dual. Each teaches there is an Absolute God/Truth and no life outside of this. Our lives as bodies in a world with time and change is a dream.
ACIM offers a way to wake up from this painful, chaotic and unstable dream. We can be in the Joy with God again in our experience by undoing the egoic thought system of separation.
Our spiritual awakening is nothing to fear. We continue for as long as it is helpful to live our lives just as we did before. But now we travel lighter...happier...and we are teachers of Peace wherever we go.
How the Dream Occurred (or Seemed to Occur)
A Course In Miracles says this dream is the result of an idea that occurred in the One Mind, the Self that God created. This thought was something like "maybe I could be better than God." We wanted the experience, so we believed the thought.
That belief created a massive split in our Mind: We believed God was gone, and our awareness of God/Perfect Love was forgotten. The power of our Mind made the illusory separation true for us.
We separated from God/Truth/Love in our experience, but not in Reality. In Truth, we never could have left...we're just asleep. And we have the ability to wake up, because the correction for the mistake we made in believing the impossible was given to us. It waits patiently in our mind as the Atonement, a process of correction led by the Holy Spirit. But the key is....we have to choose it.
We are doing this to ourselves (not choosing the answer and not waking up) by persisting in listening to the ego's interpretations. We keep listening to it for two reasons:
First, we haven't let go of the buried desire/wanting to be god, a special god that has uniqueness. We are in denial of all the Perfect Love, Joy, and Happiness this decision has cost us, because we've repressed it. At the level of that faulty decision, we don't realize what a HUGE price it has been to pay.
Secondly, there is a huge unconscious part of our mind full of fear that God wants vengeance for what we did, and if we return Home, we'll be punished by God. Our unconscious mind is full of murderous thoughts, the consequence of opposing Perfect Love: sin, guilt, hatred, sickness, death, murder, fear and pain. The intensity of this negative content in the mind is so great we won't look at it. We keep burying it deeper out of fear. Yet, this keeps it out of our awareness and thereby ensuring it is "unsolvable."
Because we listen to the ego's voice in our mind, it is our new identity. Unknowingly, we think we are the guilty one and that being a separate "god" is good. We actively resist the Holy Spirit in our mind.
Maya or Dream Lives
Once the horror of believing we killed off God hit us, the ego (with a voice we identified now as our own) said, "I better run!" The Big Bang ensued. Time dimensions, universes, planets and people with serial lives ensued. The One Son dreamed it split in a gazillion pieces and fled out into an almost infinite dream of complexity and differences. And here we are still....going around and around.
In our ordinary experience, we live with people as relatives, lovers, colleagues etc., but they are really aspects of the One Self that we are appearing with in the collective dream. We seem to be born and die as individual people. Like Shakespeare so beautifully expressed in his theater plays, we endure endless dramas, where we play rounds of hot potato with the guilt that we can't stop from percolating up from the unconscious. This guilt expresses as suspicion, greed, annoyance, vengeance, jealousy, murder, hate, fear, sickness, death, etc. It is the source of persistent dis-ease in us that we are continually trying to "fix."
Life as a dream body is full of pain, loss, and death. We live in a reality of duality (good and bad, up and down, hot and cold, etc. ), so yes there are happy moments and pleasure, too. But they never last.
We live relatively good lives and relatively horrible ones. Even during relatively good lives, we have a persistent intuition that something is wrong or that we don't belong or that something bad will happen in the future. And whether we live a good life or otherwise, ultimately, everyone gets sick and/or dies.
Yet even death doesn't free us. Since death of an illusory dream body is nothing, we end one life, then seem to reappear as a new body. It is a projected experience, and the thoughts that create it are still there. This is similar to the wheel of Maya, a cycle of lives that goes around and around.
As egos, our whole life is spent with a a subliminal inner dialogue something like this:
"I need to fix my life! Something's terribly wrong! It's your/their fault! it's in you/them/it! (not me...I'm innocent!) I could have happiness, but you stole it!"
(then the ego switches)
"Wait...I'm bad! I never should have....<blank> I hurt you and I can never atone for it! I am doomed! I should die!"
Then the ego cycles again to blaming someone or something outside of me again. It blames the past and it fears the future. It is playing a big game with made-up images. It is manipulating the mind to keep it searching where the problem will never be found.
The ego thought system spawned by the belief in separation is horrible and impossible in Truth, but internally consistent. All the world's rules are sourced out of this negativity, such as "for one to win, another must lose," "giving is to have less," inequality, attack and defense, manipulation, power over, impermanence, and all the other dynamics in duality. These dynamics are false. But while they are believed by the dreamer and continue to cause suffering, they get more entrenched in the mind.
We go around and around blaming others and the world and ourselves, but we never look to the source of the issue: within our own mind. If we could just stop searching and judging ourselves or anyone else and get very quiet and watch our thoughts, we would begin to see the mind's shenanigans for what they are. (We'll talk about this in the next section....)
We've gone so deep into the dream, reinforcing the silly mistake -- and all the falseness that this one original mistake spawned -- over and over and over. We are almost lost forever in our forgetfulness.
Almost. Thankfully, there is a way out. At the moment of the first mistake, God intervened by giving us the correction.
The Holy Spirit Intervention
Like Mickey in the Sorcerer's Apprentice, what started as a way to play god has led to chaos and a never-ending nightmare. Our own projections seem to attack us back. They get away from us and nothing is ever stable.
I said earlier the mind is split. The ego thought system is one part. The other part of our split mind is the Holy Spirit. This is the part of our mind where God installed a solution to the hypothetical problem of separation that has led to the fun/not fun nightmare that never ends. Yes, we are asleep in the dream of the ego's imagination and completely oblivious to our True Source, but we also have God's solution if we will open to letting it in.
"You can't change a problem from the same level of thinking that caused it," as Einstein said. This implies that what is needed to solve a problem is an intervention from another dimension. The Holy Spirit can be seen as God's intervention, a correction in the mind that is mistaken. It's not the Truth, but like God's ambassador, it represents the Truth and offers a way Home. The Holy Spirit's voice in our mind offers a pattern-interrupt, a catalyst for true change that meets us where we think we are in the dream but instead of reinforcing its reality, begins to undo our belief in it. Unlike other solutions the ego has tried for eons to end its suffering, the Holy Spirit's solutions come from outside the egoic system. They comes from Truth and not the ego, so therefore they can undo the ego.
The key then is us: Our power lies in our decision of which voice we listen to.
True help comes because at some moment in one of our lives, there is a thought born out of our willingness to be wrong that opens the door to the Holy Spirit. It's like an exasperation hits us. We are tired of suffering, so much so, that we're finally willing to be wrong about the way we think about everything. "There must be a better way," we feel deep inside. "My life never works out no matter what I try!" we recognize. We start asking deeper questions:
"Maybe there is a different way to live? Who am I? What am I here for?"
The journey Home then begins at the first opening in our mind. We begin to ask within. When we start to be amenable to being wrong about the judgments we've made about the way things are, whether we know it or not, we are beginning to ask the Right Mind for new answers and interpretations.
That's when new ideas will come. New books. New teachers. They spontaneously happen... like you are at the bookstore and A Course In Miracles just falls at your feet "for no reason." Or you see a billboard or hear a song that has a message for your heart that you really needed. Or you just decide to rid your life of conflict "out of the blue" and you forgive the lawsuit and call your father.
A Course in Miracles, along with all the spiritual paths and no-paths that lead the mind home, is a way the Holy Spirit shows up in the dream.
Think of everything in the dream that we can see as a form. What makes any form helpful or not is the "content" or which part of the mind is using the form. When we ask for true help by being willing to deny the "rightness" of our way of perceiving, the Holy Spirit sends us a form that will work in the moment. It could be Reiki, a smile, a book, a teacher, a friend, or anything. Over time, our advancement may lead the Holy Spirit to guide us to something more significant that will last with us the rest of our lives like a spiritual practice.
A Course in Miracles is a particular form of spiritual practice that the Holy Spirit can use to heal our minds, and it is a lifetime practice in mind training centered on Forgiveness and attaining Christ Vision. But there are many forms. ACIM is not above or below other paths. If it's your path, you know because it resonates. If it's not, keep looking.
Practicing Forgiveness with Jesus
ACIM's practical teachings that lead us through this journey come from Jesus. He reinterprets the New Testament of the Bible and restores his message around Forgiveness to its true meaning. Jesus in ACIM teaches us how to give the dream a new purpose...instead of reinforcing the ego's perspective as our reality, we look at the same problems but deny the ego's interpretation.
Jesus is like a martial artist. He's teaching us how to use the momentum of the dream to reverse it and awaken. So in a typical day's classroom, He might say to you: "See that attacker coming at you in the meeting? He's your self! Feel the rage in your mind right now? Good! Don't avoid it! He's provoked it in you and that's cool...now you can heal it! You can't see who he is because you projected ego thoughts on to him. This is your lucky day! You get to Heal both of you by seeing your own projection of fear....see it? Good, now pivot inward ...release the thought of fear/anger/scarcity/guilt/etc. I'm helping you!
"Great job! You let it go! You denied it could really take away your peace...man, it's a dream! You just woke up a little.. you just healed "both" of you! Congratulations! Here's a lifesaver!"
(My Jesus always lightens me up by tousling my hair, offering me a life saver and reminding me I am just a little kid....)
This process is repeated over and over and over. We start to like doing it because it feels so good! This is how the lion can be found cozying up with the lamb. This is the Miracle...a shift in perception of the dream caused by our denying the ego's interpretation and releasing the guilt in the mind with the help of our inner Teacher.
There is a workbook with 365 lessons to help us with applied forgiveness. Every mind will receive the special help it needs to Forgive. This process will lead to a new awareness that we've made it all up. It's ugly and hateful and makes us miserable, but we chose it. How easy it is then to choose to let it all go... we laugh gently. "This need not be," the Course tells us. We do this all knowing the Holy Spirit's strength is healing us and that it is trustworthy.
A feeling of lightness each time we forgive develops our trust. We keep going.
Our Teacher is leading us back through all the wrong decisions in our sleep so we can UNDO them. As we see innocence in the "others," we are telling ourselves we're innocent. We feel more peaceful as a result.
Over time and much spiritual practice, our minds are cleansed from the guilt that was buried in the unconscious. We gradually stop believing in the ego thought system. We start becoming reflections of the right mind. We heal and we are healed.
Our challenging relationships and problems and our unsatisfactory world ...they aren't real... they are all a mirage and not reality. Just like the shadows in Plato's cave were not real but images projected onto the wall, everything is an effect of some thought that was spawned out of a original thought that was impossible -- i.e. that the One Son "killed God so he could be a uniquely Special God. They have one purpose now, which is to prompt our Forgiveness.
Horrific as it is, our belief in the ego didn't make it True. Ever. Therefore the cause of the images I see is null and void. And if there's no cause, there's no effect. Just images and Light.
Our Christ Vision Makes Us Teachers of God
We cultivate Forgiveness as our attitude in life. We are willing to look at the ugliness of our ego daily, because this is what we've repressed. Seeing how awful it is and how miserable it makes us and everyone else, we have motivation to ask for help from the Holy Spirit in healing our mind.
As our development of trust progresses, our smiling and knowing that All is Well become a natural response to everything that may seem to occur. We see everything differently....everywhere we look, we see our innocent Self, afraid and calling for love, where we used to see attack. We answer the call with Love, which is then given to our own Mind.
It all happens naturally as a result of our decision not to listen to the ego voice. We "deny the denial of Love." Saying "no" to the ego is how we open to the Holy Spirit in our minds.
This decision is the source of all apparent healing. The projections that made sick bodies, for example, are taken back into the mind where the guilt is released/forgiven. Then the images change and the bodies seem to heal. The source of the sickness no longer exists.
Gradually, we come to know our nature as the "Peace that passeth understanding" by allowing a new decision to listen to the Holy Spirit to cleanse our mind of any guilt, sin, and fear.
We continue our normal life as mothers and fathers, workers, CEOs, activists, healers, etc. But we do everything lightly. We remember that the purpose behind every moment of our life is to Forgive. We let go of the attachment to outcomes, and we surrender all our egoic goals. We develop a trust in following the Voice for God (the Holy Spirit in our minds) that knows our way Home.