The Course in Miracles was channeled through psychologist Dr. Helen Shuchman. She identified the voice she was hearing as that of Jesus, who was a source of great conflict in her mind. In seven years three volumes, the text, workbook for students, and the manual for teachers were written. The first publication dates back to 1976.
The Course is a self-study system under the guidance of our inner teacher, the Holy Spirit, towards awakening to oneself. Its emphasis is on the experience of healing our suffering, which is at its source a belief that we have separated from God and are in spiritual exile.
The Course emphasizes healing our interpersonal relationships as a means of awakening, as the relationships we have are a projection of the unconscious relationship we believe we have with God.
Forgiveness is the primary spiritual practice in the Course.
By releasing judgment and being willing to perceive things differently one can heal the belief in separation from our true Self and from God. According to the Course the only reality is the state of perfect oneness with God and Christ (God’s true creation and our true identity).
In our dualistic mind we cannot comprehend this, but it is the entire thought system of the Course.
All of our suffering comes from the ‘dream of separation’. This insane belief that we have separated from God, is what the Course defines as sin, or a loveless perception. The consequence of sin is guilt, self-hatred, and expectation of punishment. This is defined as the ‘unholy trinity’; sin-guilt-fear. The name that the Course gives to this entire illusory thought system of duality, separation, guilt, sin, and fear is the ego.
The goal is to wake up from the nightmare of separation into a ‘happy dream’, where we perceive a deeper understanding that there is only One Mind. It is through the Holy Spirit (God’s answer to separation) that we are linked back to our true identity and to the memory of God’s love. The Atonement Principle is the undoing in the belief in separation and a reminder that all but love is illusion.
The Course states, “The world you see is what you gave it, nothing more than that. But though it is not more than that it is not less. It is the witness to your state of mind. An outside picture of an inner condition.”
This passage conveys that what we see is showing us what is in the unconscious. Accordingly, the solution resides in going to the projection in our mind so as to change it. There are only two projections; that of the ego and that of The Holy Spirit.
The ego divides the world into guilty victimizers and innocent victims. The Holy Spirit sees either the expression of love or an expression of forgetfulness, which is a cry for love. All fear is a call for love regardless of the form it takes.
Ken Wapnick, teacher of the Course, explains the metaphysical foundation of the Course in terms of the ‘four splits’. The Son shattered into infinite fragments and became our individual bodies and personalities. All these holographic fragments contain the thought system of the ego, the Holy Spirit, and the Decision Maker.
The first split pertains to the One Mind (Holy Spirit) and the separate small mind (ego), which is born out of the wish to be an individual self. This speaks to the idea of ‘specialness,’ and the desire to exist on one’s own. The ‘decision maker’ is another mind, which chooses between the reactions of the ego and the Holy Spirit.
The ego is threatened by the Holy Spirit’s message that this is but a dream.
The ego’s plan is to convince the Son that the Holy Spirit cannot be trusted. The ego carries out this plan by imparting to the Son that he is guilty and deserving of God’s punishment. The Son believes the ego and turns away from the Holy Spirit and splits off (forgets) and identifies with the ego (sin, guilt, and fear). This is referred to as the second split.
The third split occurs when sin and guilt are projected outward in an attempt to be innocent. As the guilty sinful self is projected onto another, the Father becomes through projection, the vengeful insane one.
This veil of forgetfulness results in a perception of life as being a conflictual experience of innocent victims and guilty victimizers.
The work of the Course is to change our mind. To the ego the world is meant to be a prison that keeps us identified with guilt. To the Holy Spirit the world is a classroom in which we realize we made a mistake and can change our mind to a dream of peace. This happens when we bring our attention to the realization that the mind is the level of cause and the world is the level of effect. This is the foundation of forgiveness and it is the central spiritual practice of the Course.
Forgiveness is about shifting from an ego perspective to a Holy Spirit perspective. It begins with recognizing that we want to let go of the interpretation we’ve placed on a situation and we are willing to see it differently.
According to the Course perception is always a choice. In our forgiveness process we let go of the ego perspective and still, fear pulls us back into loveless perceptions. We go back and forth, but at any given moment we can only see one side.
The course says forgiveness is an illusion, but it is the only illusion that leads us out of illusion. On that deepest level there is nothing to forgive, because who we are in truth cannot be harmed. This is not meant to deny what is happening on the level of form.
It is a recognition that there is nothing that can destroy the peace of God within us. We can turn away from that peace, but we can always choose to turn back to it.
Transformation in the Course is described through ‘special relationships’ and ‘Holy relationships’. ‘Special love relationships’ are also ‘special hate relationships’, in that they reinforce our belief in separation and guilt. We believe we are lacking within and so we look outward for a love object to provide what we believe we’re missing.
Hence, the special love partner or object becomes an unconscious symbol of our guilt, as they are a constant reminder of what you believe you lack. This sets up a redeemer/tormentor motif. Ultimately we come to blame the other for not completing us.
A Holy relationship is a special relationship transformed and healed.
Forgiveness and the undoing of the ego occur so as to bring understanding of what love really is. Our projected guilt is brought to consciousness for healing and forgiveness. We take back and re-own projections as aspects of ourselves so as to forgive and let go of judgment and condemnation. When we let go of the obstacles we put in the way of love, we’re left with love.