ACIM - ACOL
By Bob Childers
I have read and taught ACIM for almost thirty years but I have read only the first book of the ACOL trilogy. It is easy to think of A Course in Love (ACOL) as a continuation of ACIM given that both are mental transmissions from the mind of Jesus. Yet, the teachings of ACIM apply to the entire span of our journey back to God, and therefore, from an intellectual standpoint, ACIM has no need for a continuation. However, in my understanding there are some readers who were drawn to ACIM and made some progress with it but then reached a point where they were unable to continue moving forward. They had benefitted all that they could from ACIM and needed a new teaching (namely ACOL) that would start with them wherever they were in ACIM and, at least initially, be in line with the teachings of ACIM. Their farthest point of development in ACIM would then become their new starting point in ACOL.
Although ACOL is not a logical continuation of ACIM, such readers may view it as functioning as a practical continuation of some aspects of ACIM as a result of ACOL’s effects on them. In that case, it is expected that ACOL would need to start off in a vein similar to ACIM but would later veer off in another direction which its adherents could follow more readily. My view of ACOL is that it is a spiritual teaching of merit which has some teachings that are similar to ACIM and some that are not. It is important to remember that ACIM is only one version of the required course that all must take at some point. There are thousands of other versions, and their forms can vary immensely. We are not in a place where we can determine what these forms are.
- There is a course for every teacher of God. The form of the course varies greatly. But the content of the course never changes. Its central theme is always, "God's Son is guiltless, and in his innocence is his salvation." It can be taught by actions or thoughts; in words or soundlessly; in any language or in no language; in any place or time or manner. ACIM, M-1.3.
Three worlds are encountered in both ACIM and ACOL: the physical world, the ego’s world of separation and the spiritual world of unity known as the real world in ACIM. In ACOL it is also called the new world, the world of learning and the world beneath the ego’s world. A brief overview of each of these three worlds (as I understand it) is given below from ACIM’s perspective . If you are a student of ACOL, you can use it to see which parts of ACIM you do, or do not, agree with. You might also want to check to see if there is a point in the description at which you could re-connect and move forward with ACIM (if so, see A Basic Guide to Miracles available at miraclepublishers.com).
Some of the information about the physical world is not part of the standard lore of ACIM because it stems from a new book entitled, A Non-Traditional Approach to ACIM, also available at miraclepublishers.com. This book explains how the origin of the physical universe (the big bang) can be joined with the origin of the separation in ACIM. It helps to clarify ACIM’s view of physicality.
- THE PHYSICAL WORLD
ACIM clearly teaches that physical forms are not real,
- Anything that is destructible cannot be real. T-6.I.4
Since any physical form can be destroyed, none of them are real (including your body and planet earth). Reality is formless and eternal, as God is. We were created as thoughts (formless beings) in His Mind. We, as a group, are His Son. God cannot create anything that is not real, but we can (almost). So, we did. The Son made an unreal universe of unreal physical forms in an unreal space-time framework filled with unreal celestial bodies, including planet earth and various creatures upon it. The Son could observe this with true perception (without distortion). There was no separation between God and His Son because the Son did not try to deceive himself about the reality of forms. They had no reality, and he knew it. Therefore, they were not illusions in the his mind but this changed at the fall. Then they all became illusions.
- THE EGO’S WORLD OF SEPARATION
There was a change. We believed there could be something opposite to what God Is (a tiny mad idea). We believed separation from God was possible and made an ego to oversee the separation. We divided the will and consciousness of the Son into individual centers which could be inserted into some of the creatures we had made. Each of us wanted to be limited to the information that could be acquired through the perceptions of a single body. We asked for special favor from God but He did not grant it, and we lost our peace. We sought specialness in countless activities using the physical forms that occupied space and time. We wanted to make them real by replacing God’s formlessness by our forms. For example, we tried to replace eternity by time. These attempts were mistakes; they failed. Corrections for all of them were provided by God. In this way we came to realize that our forms could not become real - but we still wanted them to be real. We wanted it so bad that we leapt into a deep sleep (being cut off from God) of massive self-deception. We dreamed we were real physical forms in a real world of forms in which we could seek for true specialness. Both ACOL and ACIM agree that this world of separation is an illusion, but it cannot be lightly skipped through by assuming its effects are weak and ignorable.
Belief is powerful indeed. The thoughts you hold are mighty, and illusions are as strong in their effects as is the truth. W-132.1.
The way out of it is not trivial. It requires complete forgiveness (releasing guilt), listening less and less to the ego’s rhetoric, progressively relying on faith and miracles instead of the structures of the world, and nonattachment to (but not denial of) the physical body. To do this you must use a spiritual helper (ACIM calls it Holy Spirit, Jesus or Universal Inspiration).
THE REAL WORLD
God has put a helper (the Holy Spirit) in our minds Who can direct us toward awakening if we ask for his help. When you are ready, you will awaken and the real world will spring into your sight (see T-12.VI.5) because your false perception will have transformed into true perception.
You must learn the cost of sleeping, and refuse to pay it. Only then will you decide to awaken. And then the real world will spring to your sight. T-12.VI.5.
The real world is made up of all your loving thoughts.
The loving thoughts (the Sons’) mind perceives in this world are the world's only reality. They are still perceptions, yet they are eternal because they are loving. The real world is all that the Holy Spirit has saved for you out of what you have made. T-11.VII.2 and VII.4
In my understanding the real world is not a metaphor. It is a transition from physical forms into eternal light and formlessness. It is where our awareness is going.
1. (The real world) has no buildings and there are no streets where people walk alone and separate. There are no stores where people buy an endless list of things they do not need.... There is no day that brightens and grows dim. There is no loss. Nothing is there but shines, and shines forever. T-13.VII.1
2. Across the bridge (to the real world) it is so different! For a time the body is still seen, but not exclusively, as it is seen here. The little spark that holds the Great Rays within it is also visible, and this spark cannot be limited long to littleness.... The value of the body is so diminished in your sight that you will see no need at all to magnify it. For you will realize that the only value the body has is to enable you to bring your brothers to the bridge... and be released together there. T-16.VI.6.
You will not stay long in the real world.
The perception of the real world will be so short that you will barely have time to thank God for it. T-17.II.4
The real world will be translated into heaven (heaven will not descend to earth).
The end of the world is...its translation into Heaven. T-11.VII.1
In the last step you will be lifted up unto God (God will not descend to earth in bodily form).
Then your Father will lean down to you and take the last step for you, by raising you unto Himself. T-11.VIII.15
Then the separation is over. We will not dream of the world of separation again or believe we are physical bodies again because the truth will have set us free.
1. The world is not left by death but by truth, T-3.VII.6
2. To be without a body is to be in our natural state. W-72.9