I owned the book for about 8 months before I picked it up with intention. I knew doing ACIM was a commitment. I say 'doing', because ACIM is actually 3 books in one. There is a 669 page text, a 365 day workbook (one lesson per day) and a 92 page manual for teachers. Both of my journeys into ACIM were done with deliberate intention. My first time through it was a 20 month long slow walk and digestive process through the material. There were days that I read a paragraph and walked around assimilating it all day. I spent about 4 months reading the text (669 pages) and around 14-15 months doing the workbook exercises and about 6 weeks reading the manual for teachers. I read the book cover to cover. My second time through ACIM was done with the same deliberation, it took less time, about 15-16 months compared to 20. My first time through I really focused on the text...my second time through I intensely focused on the workbook. I found the manual for teachers to be very clarifying both times.
If there is a foundational thought element to a book of over 1100 pages it is the quote above. ACIM teaches that only Love is real, anything that isn't love is illusion, or a cry for love. There is only love and the perceived absence of love. ACIM hints at black-white thinking like that. For a book of 1100 pages there is little nuance or modifying distinctions. In my spiritual journey since my ACIM experiences, I have discovered many instances where ACIM is too doctrinally strident...too dualistic...too cut and dried.
I've found many who have done the course to be guilt-ridden when they experience anger or exasperation with others. ACIM is spot on when it instructs that 'knowledge can only be gained by experience'. I think the problem may lie in the fact that ACIM is a daunting task to accept, and once someone completes it, one can have the feeling of arrival. They forget the Epilogue's first sentence which says- "The Course isn't the end, it's a beginning". Nevertheless, there is a feeling of accomplishment in completing ACIM and it provides an effective framework for a spiritual practice. But some have taken it as the end all be all of the spiritual journey. There is a life time of experience to be added to the teachings of ACIM, a lifetime of YOUR experience.
For almost 3 years, broken up in two treks, ACIM was my spiritual practice. My sole spiritual practice. It was my meditation, my prayer (as a doing) and my contemplation. I consider that time transformational...evolving...enlightening. However, I did the course at an age that I was more reserved in my acceptance of thoughts and ideas; so I was able to carry a Course thought around and observe it in the real world, I wasn't seeking a new doctrine; I was seeking a deeper knowing. In my years since completing ACIM I've come to the conclusion that it gives the ego a bad rap. The ego is ACIM's boogieman, the ego of ACIM is to the Course as Satan is to Christianity. It engenders a dualistic experience of self that I've found to be a hindrance to true self knowledge and integration. ACIM also employs the language and cosmology of Christianity like it's a universal truth. ACIM also claims not to make gender distinctions, yet everything of divine reference is of the masculine. It explains this as being expedient. This may be due to the fact that Helen Schucman the scribe of this channeled teaching was a clinical psychologist by profession. ACIM has been called psychology in a Christian context.
But all in all, ACIM was an experience of depth, a change in perspective. Even if I subsequently found some of it's tenets to be not resonate with my experience. I want to emphasize my experience, Marianne Williamson; a well known teacher of ACIM rightfully instructs to take every word of this Course personally, bring it to your own intimate understanding, test it.
ACIM has generated a multitude of seminar facilitators and teachers. To teach ACIM with any fidelity to it's core principles takes an almost hourly dedication to it's instruction. The aforementioned Marianne Williamson is a world renown spiritual lecturer of the principles of ACIM. A woman of my acquaintance, Lorri Coburn is an experienced, insightful instructor-guide to the deeper jewels of ACIM. Lorri's 'Miracle Musings' emails have been insightful teachings of ACIM based on her life's experiences, I have enjoyed and learned from them over the years.
ACIM has been on my mind lately. I haven't felt the need to return to it or do it again. But this reflection on my experience with the Course, where I was when I encountered it, where I am now and what it showed me about myself at a time of my life when I was off my square and grasping. This present time feels something like 2001....no, a woman hasn't left me, I'm self employed albeit on a subsistence level, my mind is clear and I'm addiction free. However, the life space I'm occupying is relatively new, there is a feeling of unfamiliarity. My spiritual journey has taken a turn to the ancient mystical, I'm enjoying that exploration and revelation. Sometimes, we sit back and reflect on the road behind us, the turns and detours that led to this very instant. ACIM for me was a fortuitous happenstance at a time when I needed exactly that. My hope is that this writing may be the nudge someone needs to encounter the Course at their divinely perfect timing...for me it was a gateway to a new understanding of myself.
Thank you for exploring this memory with me. . .
"You will remember everything the instant you desire it wholly. To desire wholly is to create." ~ A Course in Miracles