Mastering the Journey from Fear to Love
Most of us recognize the fact that we spend a lot of time every day worrying about the world and his uncle. The media sells its products based on the negative side of life. And, in the end, we are all going to die, so what hope do we have? Plenty!
Meet Alan Cohen
Alan Cohen, M.A., is the author of 23 popular inspirational books, including the best-selling The Dragon Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, the award-winning A Deep Breath of Life, and the classic Are You as Happy as Your Dog? He is a contributing writer for the New York Times #1 bestselling series Chicken Soup for the Soul, and his books have been translated into 24 foreign languages. His work has been featured on Oprah.com and in USA Today, the Washington Post, and 101 Top Experts. Alan’s radio program Get Real is broadcast weekly on Hay House Radio, and his monthly column From the Heart is featured in magazines internationally. Website: www.AlanCohen.com (Hay House biography)
A Course in Miracles
Most of us have heard about ACIM (as it’s affectionately known). When the text was first made public, I bought a copy. Most people have remarked on the fact of its weight. Intuitively, it is as if “what you perceive is what you get.”
What most people forget is that the book was channeled by Dr Helen Schucman as a response to her colleague, William Thetford’s remark that “there must be a better way…” The words were intended originally just for themselves, but the information was so universal, they decided to (mostly) remove the personal elements and share it with the world.
The Source of the information never identified himself, but the words imply that it is Jesus Christ. Apparently, Helen had a past life with him, because he refers to her disappointments and anger over whatever happened. His patience and understanding are also quite evident. He is coming from a place of Love.
Alan Cohen’s interpretation and reiteration of the principles of ACIM mark an easier assimilation of what most have described as a very intense ‘reprogramming’ of their way of thinking. Here are a couple of sample passages:
Illusion and Compassion
While I was presenting a seminar in Japan, a student posed this question: “I asked an ACIM teacher, ‘How are we to relate to the devastating disaster of 2011 in which a huge earthquake and tsunami killed many people and wrought massive destruction in our country?’ The teacher replied, ‘It was all an illusion. It didn’t really happen.’ But I did not find that answer very satisfying. What would you say about that disaster and ones like it?”
I told the student that the answer was technically correct but not immediately helpful. It represents a kind of “ACIM fundamentalism,” which quotes the letter of the law but misses the spirit behind the teaching. The purpose of A Course in Miracles is to bring humanity release from pain. It defines healing as relief from fear. The Course states many times that its teachings must be practical. To tell someone whose entire family has just died in a tsunami, and whose home and business have been destroyed in an earthquake, that nothing really happened does not assuage suffering. Such an answer requires too great a leap in consciousness from where the person stands to the ultimate reality beyond appearances. Instead, you must guide the distressed person to the next level of relief. He requires compassion, not philosophy.
The entire Course in Miracles is an act of compassion. Jesus could have sat in his golden heaven at the right hand of God and decided to leave the mass of humanity writhing in pain because “it was all an illusion” and “nothing really happened.” Instead, he reached into humanity and offered a teaching that meets us where we stand and lifts us beyond our current predicament. A teacher initiates transformation by joining with the student where the student lives, rather than demanding that the student meet the teacher where the teacher lives. The ultimate goal is to lift the student to the highest level of consciousness, but that happens in gentle steps, not demanding quantum leaps of which the student is currently incapable.
I told the questioner that, in response to the disaster, I would simultaneously work from two different levels. I would keep in mind that indeed the entire event was an illusion and ultimately there is no loss or death. At the same time I would recognize that the experience felt real to those who went through it, and I would do everything I could to help relieve suffering in tangible ways. I would donate money, clothing, or medical supplies to a relief fund; or volunteer to help clean up the mess; or provide housing to refugees; or offer a listening ear, counseling, or prayer; or whatever came before me to lighten the burden of those affected. That would be more meaningful and helpful than to tell those who felt victimized that nothing had happened. For those people, something did happen, and compassion calls for service in action.
Kindness is the mark of spiritual maturity. Anyone can spout philosophy. A smaller number of teachers are willing to dive into illusion to extricate humanity from it.
The Happy Dream
In the Book of Genesis we are told that “a deep sleep fell upon Adam” (Genesis 2: 21), but nowhere does the Bible say that he woke up (T-2. I. 3: 6). We are all Adam still asleep, dreaming we are separate from God and each other. A Course in Miracles seeks to awaken us from our slumber, not by throwing cold water on us while we sleep, but by meeting us within the dream and guiding us to the doorstep of reality. The Course works smartly, gently, and steadily to dislodge us from the illusions that bind us, by way of small, firm, consistent steps from emotional conundrum to freedom.
ACIM calls the bridge to awakening “the happy dream.” In the happy dream, we walk the world awhile longer, still driving the kids to soccer practice, downloading smartphone apps, standing in line at the bank, and spending our days in ways familiar to the world. Yet the dream is no longer a nightmare. It is one of inner reward, meaning, and purpose. The peace of God becomes the foundation of our life rather than anxiety and conflict. The events, experiences, and relationships of the world become stepping-stones to heaven. The world is transformed from a prison ruled by terror to a temple consecrated by love.
“The Holy Spirit, ever practical in His wisdom, accepts your dreams and uses them as means for waking. You would have used them to remain asleep. I said before that the first change, before dreams disappear, is that your dreams of fear are changed to happy dreams.” — T-18. II. 6: 1– 3
Whenever I find myself being less than I hoped I might be, I try to apply the principles of A Course in Miracles to see what is causing the ‘problem’. In a startling discovery this past week, I have been party to, and witnessed, three separate ‘incidents’ involving Family.
Ordinarily, I shrug off the annoyances and get on with my personal quest for peace and happiness. This time, the issues involved three separate branches of my extended families. Never before have I had that happen. It was a ‘wake-up’ call, for sure.
As I have been married three times, it should come as no surprise to me that the same situations should crop up over time. But in the same week? Never.
It turns out that one can only put off something important for a little while, but eventually one must tackle the root cause. In my case, I ‘see’ that all of this has to do with my attempt to forge my own path in life, without consideration of how it affects others. So, I am resolved to work on my family connections to strengthen the ‘ties that bind’ rather than loosen them. What we resist, persists.
Why Is the Course So Long? (ACIM Made Easy insert)
Complicated minds create complicated issues, ask complicated questions, and require complicated answers. The purpose of A Course in Miracles is to heal complicated minds by guiding our thoughts from the labyrinth of complexity to the salvation of simplicity. The real Course in Miracles is just 14 words long:
“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” — T-IN. 2: 2– 4
All the words that follow are commentary, illuminating this one truth from a thousand different vantage points.
The author of the Course recognized that few people would take such a simple truth and apply it to their lives until they found liberation. The intellect requires clarification, repetition, explanation, rational understanding, and continuous practical applications. So Jesus said, in effect, “Here are another 497,226 words and 1,187 more pages for you to chew on. Then you will feel that you’ve gotten something of value.”
You could complete your study of A Course in Miracles after these 14 words.
But then you would have to live them. The remainder of the Course is given to help you do just that.
If you want to change your life, the Miracle is already at work. Wake up to that fact, and you will see how much better life can be. Bless.