Question #40: I have heard and read from some that the Course is not for everyone and some Course authorities go so far as to say that it is intended for a more intellectual/educated audience. I find this claim to be very dangerous. Are these claims true or are they nothing more than a form of seeking salvation through separation and a desire to create a level of specialness within a certain demographic namely those educated enough to understand, comprehend, live the Course? How do we reconcile these claims with the text statement: All are called?
Answer: Anyone at all can benefit from the Course. One does not have to be an intellectual to learn from it and use it as a spiritual path. Nonetheless, it is obvious that it is written on a high intellectual level with sophisticated metaphysical, theological, and psychological concepts integrated into the teaching throughout the three books. Much of it is written in blank verse. Thus, a reader/ student who is not intellectually inclined and has no background in these areas would have difficulty understanding a great deal of the material. This does not mean, though, that such a person could not be helped by reading through it and doing the exercises in the workbook. If the person comes away from the Course being more kind, more loving, and reassured of God’s Love, and less angry, depressed, and fearful, then its purpose has been fulfilled. On the other hand, there have been many highly educated people who were not able relate to the Course at all, for a variety of reasons. They will find another path more suitable to their needs and inclinations.
Thus, to say that the Course is not for everyone is not to say that it deliberately excludes people. The Course says of itself that it is only one among many thousands of other forms of the universal course (M.1.4). It does not have to be for everyone. Some religions have claimed that theirs is the only true religion, the only way to be reconciled with God. A Course in Miracles does not do that. Rather, the implication throughout the Course is that everyone will eventually find a path that will lead them to God. It does not have to be this one.
Question #1150: Am I correct in thinking A Course in Miracles is called a "course" because we all take on a compulsory "course of thinking" from the time we notice our separate beingness? It seems we have no choice but to set about learning ways and means to live our separate lives as best we can, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Survival of the fittest! So we find ourselves enmeshed in different cultures, religious traditions, and rules of behavior that best suit our needs as we see them. Our separately devised courses are clearly deeply conflicted, but we are unable to change our "course" because we only have our learned thinking to call on, which is how we got conflicted in the first place. Does the Course offer a real alternative -- a "course of thinking" not based on that old, separate, self-interest pattern?
Answer: The term course specifically denotes the educational and academic context of the Course. It “is arranged as a teaching device,” as the Preface states (p. viii) , and it consists therefore of a text, workbook, and manual for teachers. Jesus speaks about teaching and learning, teachers and students, a curriculum, goals and objectives of the lessons, etc.
Yes, A Course in Miracles most certainly offers a real alternative. There is a section in the text with that title (T.30.IV) , and one might well describe the entire Course in those terms. As you probably know, the dictation began shortly after Helen Schucman, the scribe, and her associate William Thetford agreed to rise above their separate, self-centered interests to find a better way of relating to each other and to the other people in their lives. Their agreement to join was the invitation to the source of truth in their minds, represented by Jesus and the Holy Spirit, to express this real alternative through them. Succinctly stated, A Course in Miracles teaches that the way to remember God is by undoing guilt through forgiving others. It is a lifetime's work that begins with the humble acknowledgment that we have been wrong about everything, and that even though we know of no other way, we trust that there is one, and that we will succeed in achieving its goals.
Question #1170: I have just finished reading the text of A Course in Miracles. Reading and reflecting on this book has been the most arduous and overwhelming experience I have ever had. The Course has so completely affected my ideas about religion, spirituality, and, really, human existence in every dimension. I have been a pretty serious student of philosophy and theology most of my adult life. I'm 63 and everything has changed, most definitely for the better. My question: I know how demanding this process was for me. Is it that way for all students? And is it possible for an average person who isn't accustomed to “deep” thinking to really grasp the content of A Course in Miracles?
Answer: Most people have found study of the text a difficult and challenging undertaking, especially, as you say, because it overturns just about everything we have ever believed about anything. But they also share your gratitude for it -- sometimes that turns in to mixed feelings, though, as they move along in the process of looking at their egos! Although the Course is written on a high intellectual level, its students can nonetheless practice its primary content of shared interests without mastering the metaphysical underpinnings of that content. The same is true for the giving up of judgment, also a major part of the Course's content. Jesus tells us that he is leading us to “a new kind of experience” (T.11.VI.3:6) , and everyone can share in that in their own way, regardless of whether they have been able to grasp the profound depth of the Course's spirituality, metaphysics, and psychology. For some further discussion of this topic, you might be interested in looking at Question #40.
* The above is reproduced from the Foundation for A Course in Miracles' Question and Answer Service with the kind permission of Dr. Kenneth Wapnick and the Foundation for A Course in Miracles.