A Course in Miracles is a one-year, self-study curriculum that guides students toward a personal, instinctive, and utilitarian spirituality by restoring their contact with what it calls the “Internal Teacher.” The Course uses both an intellectual and experiential approach within its 622-page text, 478-page workbook of 365 daily meditations, and 88-page manual for teachers. Although Christian in terminology, the Course material substantially challenges significant elements of contemporary Christianity — particularly the doctrines of sin and the crucifixion — while incorporating an essentially Eastern perspective on the nature of reality.

Published in 1975, the Course was written down over a period of seven years by a woman who claimed to hear a soundless voice giving her a compelling “inner dictation.” That woman, research psychologist Helen Schucman of Columbia University, was an atheist who was never comfortable with her role, while admitting that transcription of the Course was a duty she felt she had “somehow, somewhere, agreed to complete.” Neither she nor several other people who assisted substantially in its editing and publication ever claimed authorship of the Course. At a number of places within the text, the Voice of the Course clearly identifies itself as the historical Christ. (The full story of the origins of the Course can be found in Journey Without Distance by Robert Skutch [Celestial Arts, Berkeley, 1984].)

A Course in Miracles is published by the Foundation for Inner Peace (P.O. Box 635, Tiburon, CA 94920), whose sole purpose is to print and distribute the book and related materials. There is no other central organization promoting the teaching, although thousands of independent study groups exist throughout the world. Nearly half a million copies of the Course are in print, in English and fourteen other languages. The Course preface clearly states that it “is not intended to become the basis for another cult.” It is “but one version of the universal curriculum. There are many others, this one differing from them only in form. They all lead to God in the end.”

As a psychological discipline, the Course encourages the growth and transformation of personality through the constant practice of forgiveness. As a spiritual training, it insists on a complete reversal of ordinary perception, urging acceptance of spirit as reality and the physical world as illusion. “This course,” says the text’s introduction, “can therefore be summed up very simply in this way: Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.”

— D. Patrick Miller


“I loose the world from all I thought it was.”

— Lesson 132,
A Course in Miracles


I have lately been recalling a time in my life when everything in the world felt unreal to me. The sensation took hold in my early teens, held almost complete sway over my consciousness by age twenty, then gradually declined over the following five years. The feeling was at once so subtle and pervasive that it seemed impossible to discuss with anyone; to do so would have meant a public questioning of my own sanity (about which I was then far more defensive than I am today). So the sensation that nothing was real became a secret, as private as it was powerful.

I felt a numbing gap between the things in the world and my experience of them, between my relationships and my emotions, and especially between my private thoughts and my effects in the world. It was as if my daily awareness were a cataract, a clouded lens that could not be cleaned or replaced. Frequently I had the troubling thought, “I am not living my real life,” and would subsequently experience a palpable fear that I might spend the rest of my days in this state, while the opportunity for a real life — whatever that might be — slipped farther and farther away. Thoreau’s observation that “most men lead lives of quiet desperation” held great significance for me. I felt poised upon the brink of a career in desperation, and I so admired my father’s stoic ways that I was likely to keep quiet about it forever.

From a psychological perspective, I can diagnose this period as a kind of adolescent shock, which may seem inevitable along the road from childhood naivete to adult autonomy. It’s the shock that results from our so-called “loss of innocence,” as the perception of our parents as perfect and all-powerful protectors diminishes and is replaced by the need to “make it” on our own. It is difficult to imagine this transition taking place without deep emotional crises and scarring. It may in fact be the toughest transition anyone makes; plentiful evidence exists that many people never complete it entirely, translating resentments against their parents into seemingly insoluble and repetitive arguments with friends, lovers, spouses, and, all too often, their own children.

Current psychotherapeutic treatment often consists of counselors’ helping clients come to terms with childhood and adolescent crises that have never ended, whose repercussions still shock them and distort their lives. Thus, maturity is arrested wherever pain lingers. “Adult children of alcoholics” is an apt label for the human condition that results from growing up caught in that particular web of woe.

I now believe — as do many therapists — that true adulthood arrives with the capacity to forgive. By forgiveness, however, I do not mean the willingness to excuse someone else’s obvious or assumed guilt for the sake of magnanimity or simply to “get past the past.” I’m increasingly convinced that mature forgiveness is primarily an act of surrender: the willingness to relinquish some of our most cherished and defensive beliefs about reality itself. This forgiveness may include releasing others from blame — and the emotional catharsis that brings — but it spreads far beyond that, as it calls out one’s own ego-based definitions of how things and people really are.

For people unused to considering philosophical questions — and who consequently accept the version of reality passed on by society and advertised by its media — this forgiveness can be doubly difficult. It first requires accepting responsibility for one’s own perceptions and admitting that we do not all see the world the same way; a particular person’s view of the world at any moment is significantly colored by transitory emotions, recalcitrant prejudices, and deep complexes from personal traumas. For many, this realization would be a major philosophical achievement, requiring a degree of introspection that our society generally finds suspect. But the second step into real forgiveness — the willingness to attempt to surrender our most fundamental prejudices — is a great challenge indeed.

This level of forgiveness can be approached meditatively through the Course in Miracles lesson, “I loose the world from all I thought it was.” In my experience, this more sophisticated forgiveness brings an unexpected result: joyful glimpses of a world of innocence, which I thought had disappeared forever with childhood. “The real world is attained simply by the complete forgiveness of the old,” suggests the Course text in Chapter 16 — “the world you see without forgiveness.”

Recalling The Confidence Of Innocence

The state of childhood innocence, which I would further define as consciousness undivided by fear, was poetically described by Wordsworth in “Ode: Intimations of Immortality”:

There was a time when meadow, grove and stream
The earth and every common sight
Did seem to me
Appareled in celestial light
The glory and the freshness of a dream.

My earliest memories come from such a world, where I ran through viny woods too fast to look where I was going, trusting that I could not be injured or get lost in surroundings that usually felt as comfortable as human company. My experience of the outdoors was instinctively shamanistic; I saw all things, stones as well as snakes, as beings with some kind of spiritual (if not always spoken) intelligence, on equal footing with me. Only gradually did I become embarrassed about conversing with trees and animals — an embarrassment that no doubt increased in direct proportion to my desire to be “grown-up.”

When my father told me that thunder resulted from God’s rolling a wheelbarrow over a wooden bridge, the idea seemed both awesome and reassuring, but even at the age of five, I did not take the story literally, nor imagine a heaven physically located somewhere in the universe where such a bridge existed. I was aware even then that there could be other explanations as well. I’m happy to say that I’ve recently regained at least a fragment of this innocent consciousness which, in allowing for a plurality of truths — mythic, emotional, poetic, empirical, microcosmic, and macrocosmic — is actually more sophisticated than a narrowly scientific or religious state of mind. I think the fear of being seen as childish or crazy severely limits our enjoyment of the world around us, thus inducing a state of boredom that in turn gives rise to much of the stupidity and meanness that often seem to epitomize the human condition. In fact, these ills merely signify that the dues we pay for adult respectability are far too high, and bring some “benefits” of questionable value.

Perhaps the most damaging sacrifice we make on the altar of adulthood is that of forgetting how to learn. We think it is natural that our capacity to learn decreases over time, and that the refinement of our senses and intellect requires a narrowing of interests. But we can see from watching infants that they are learning about everything all at once and all the time. It often appears to me that we take this great inborn learning capacity and gradually convert it to worry — a function of dubious usefulness that is nonetheless considered mature.

What we lose thereby is what the Indian philosopher Krishnamurti, in Think on These Things, called the confidence of innocence, “the confidence of a child who is so completely innocent he will try anything.” Krishnamurti clearly distinguished this inborn attitude from self-confidence, which he described as “always colored by this arrogance of the self, the feeling ‘It is I who do it.’ ” He maintained that the development of self-confidence — an attitude highly valued in Western society — actually serves to keep our beliefs and behavior within the confines of societal expectations, and seriously blunts our true potential. It is “innocent confidence that will bring about a new civilization,” Krishnamurti suggested, “but this innocent confidence cannot come into being as long as you remain within the social pattern.”

I’m increasingly convinced that mature forgiveness is primarily an act of surrender: the willingness to relinquish some of our most cherished and defensive beliefs about reality itself.

Accepting The Defeat Of Adulthood

I first read these thoughts of Krishnamurti during my adolescence — when my sense of unreality was coming on strong — and I found them at once absorbing, encouraging, disorienting, and aggravating. I mistook much of what he said about breaking free of social patterns as supportive of my youthful urge to rebel, and many years were to pass before I understood that most forms of rebellion — adolescent, sexual, political, cultural — actually comprise an important part of dominant social patterns. A description of a particular culture that included only its predominant and conformist behaviors would be seriously incomplete; in order to understand fully a society’s “personality,” one needs to see the rebellions it inspires, and how it weathers and is changed by them. (The same could be said, of course, for the psychological study of individuals, whose internal conflicts, if honestly conveyed, are usually more revealing than the personae they present for public purposes.)

I was both angered and awed by Krishnamurti for most of the years of my passage into adulthood. But my personal frustration with this distant teacher was one of the healthiest and most compelling feelings I experienced between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five. He spoke, in a sense, to the instinctive part of me that recognized and remembered my innocent confidence. He reminded me that I had once observed the world and learned about it in a much faster, more inclusive and insightful manner. And he reminded me that it was the child in me — not the increasingly confused young adult — who knew how to do this. I was angry because I could see no way out of losing my innocence.

As a child who often received warnings from my parents and teachers about being too idealistic, I felt this loss keenly. I was very frustrated during my high school years about the discrepancy between what I felt to be true learning and the education I was receiving. My overall desire was essentially religious — although I would have strongly resisted that label at the time. I simply wanted the world to make sense, so that I could see how I belonged in it. I was fairly certain that I was unlikely to gain understanding through some final answer to the mysteries of existence. Growing up in the Christian fundamentalist culture of North Carolina had made it amply clear to me that people who accepted and clung to final answers seldom displayed a natural investigative curiosity. I felt, even if I could not have articulated it at the time, that the process of instinctive, innocent learning was the meaning of life, and that making sense of the world was a matter of continual discovery, not closure or defeat.

Yet a sense of defeat haunted my late teens, maximizing my feeling that nothing around me was real anymore. As I approached the inevitability of living on my own without a clear sense of purpose (or a practical choice of career), I felt increasing pressure to accept the “real world” of twentieth-century capitalist America: that world of “making a living” which, for all but a lucky few, clearly entailed boredom and no small degree of servitude for the sake of survival. I gradually came to the unpleasant decision that growing up meant facing these disheartening facts and doing the best I could in the situation. But the emotional cost was dangerously high: the more I faced the “real world,” the less real I felt.

In my early twenties, I moved to California, which had a more tolerant social atmosphere. This change and the rapid personal growth that ensued gradually brought me back in touch with my physical and social environment. It now seems clear that my sense of unreality decreased as I developed autonomy — but I lost most of my youthful idealism. I gradually came to accept that the real world was, after all, inherently confused, conflictive, and dangerous, a floating crap game at best. It seemed that the most you could do in life was to look out for yourself, your friends and family, and to demonstrate a wider compassion or political concern when you could spare the time. The child’s magical world of learning — where you looked around to see what you could find — had painfully and inexorably become the adult world of survival, where you usually had to be looking out for number one.

My buying-in to society was not successful, however. I spent less than a year in a “promising” and demanding advertising-related career in downtown San Francisco, before a substantial raise — and a letter from the bosses alluding to a “bright future together” — gave me a bad case of the willies. I resorted to a break-even form of self-employment, which would allow me time to write, an activity from childhood that felt too necessary to sacrifice.

But subsistence turned out to be nearly a full-time job, and I often had to face the fact that I had neither the confidence nor the curiosity to give myself steady direction as a writer. Throughout my late twenties I grappled inconclusively with a divided sense of self that didn’t measure up to anything — not the world of conventional responsibility and success, and certainly not my inner world of fragmented idealism, now significantly contaminated by conflicting ambitions. I thought of myself as kind and good, yet many of my relationships, particularly with women, were increasingly difficult. My deliberate optimism about life was strangely colored by undercurrents of cynical black humor and largely unconscious waves of anger. And though I failed to see the pattern of illness until it was too late, my physical health was steadily deteriorating.

I suspect that the idea of “creating your own reality” still seems unlikely to many, chiefly for one reason: many people are not aware of most of their beliefs. And they are critically unaware of the power of unconscious beliefs to contradict and undermine those that are consciously held.

Learning How To Learn Again

At the age of thirty-one, I suffered a serious collapse of my overall immune system. My capacity to work was dramatically curtailed for almost two years, and within the first six months of the illness I had reached a point of near-total collapse of my ego as well. Although I knew, from medical diagnosis as well as my own gut feeling, that the illness was not critical — I wasn’t going to die — I did not know any longer why I was living. It seemed readily and cruelly apparent that nothing I had tried in life had worked, and that my lifelong pattern of serving two masters — my inborn idealism and my learned pragmatism — had only weakened and divided me.

Not coincidentally, I spent the six months during which my self-confidence was deteriorating trying to establish an external cause and cure for my illness. I resisted suggestions about psychological sources until my medical doctor prescribed a mild sedative for my chief symptom — continual and severe stomach pain. He thought that much of my suffering was due to anxiety. Having great distrust of mood-altering drugs, I was greatly surprised when I improved dramatically upon first taking the sedative. The drug did not, of course, prove to be a cure — but it was undeniably a key to the locked door of my own consciousness.

As a poet since the age of nine, I had often peered in the windows of the “house of the mind,” and felt that I was more aware than most people of my own inner processes. That may even have been true at the time; but it wasn’t saying much, as I was soon to find out. A great many things of which I was at best peripherally aware had been going on in my deep consciousness. These included a self-punishing pessimism that subtly undermined most of my conscious efforts in the world, and a complementary suspicion about my true motives.

Simply put, I didn’t know why I did what I did, and seldom expected much good to come from my exertions, regardless of what I said or hoped to the contrary. (This was essentially a slowly suicidal frame of mind, but I don’t think it was at all extraordinary. It may in fact be the “majority consciousness” of our time, underlying the behavior of so many unhappy people whose work consists of personally meaningless activities undertaken only for survival, family support, or varying degrees of monetary wealth.)

As a miraculous fringe benefit of my sobering insight into my own negative character, I experienced a spontaneous regeneration of my instinctive capacity to learn. I entered therapy for the first time in my life. I began to read voraciously. The general subject matter was psychological and spiritual, including some aspects of human experience and speculation (such as past-life recall and psychic capacities) that I would have regarded not long before as foolish and “beneath” me. It might seem to the skeptical reader that my critical sensibility suffered because of my illness, but in fact I was not collecting new beliefs. I was simply experiencing the unexpected return of a long-lost, childlike curiosity about all the possibilities that might bear upon my rapidly changing experience. These possibilities also began arising out of my own consciousness, as the emotional power and vivid imagery of my dreams became more important and unforgettable than ever before, leading me into the most detailed dream records of my life.

Shortly after this burst of learning energy, I came across the strange book known as A Course in Miracles. I read of it in a much thinner book, Higher Creativity: Liberating the Unconscious for Breakthrough Insights, by Willis Harman and Howard Rheingold. In light of my recent suffering and the resurgence of my curiosity, their brief description of the Course’s perspective struck home:

Our internal beliefs create what is perceived as reality, and we are imprisoned by the cage of our wrong beliefs.

Since these beliefs are the problem, the basic solution is to replace these unconscious beliefs by different ones, through affirming new beliefs.

The one crucial choice is to accept direction by the part of yourself that knows the way to health, wholeness, and success — the still, small voice within.

I doubt that I could have found any usefulness in this perspective had I not already experienced its fundamental premise — that reality is determined by beliefs, and not the other way around. I suspect that the idea of “creating your own reality” still seems unlikely to many, chiefly for one reason: many people are not aware of most of their beliefs. And they are critically unaware of the power of unconscious beliefs to contradict and undermine those that are consciously held.

A therapeutic exercise that a friend of mine once undertook can effectively illustrate this phenomenon. She was told by her counselor to catalog her beliefs, writing down anything that came to mind regardless of whether the beliefs recorded concerned matters of little or great import. After several days — which could arguably allow for only scratching the surface of one’s belief system — my friend reported being astonished that her collected beliefs could be divided almost neatly in half, into two sets of ideas about reality whose apparent net effect was to oppose and cancel each other out.

By the time I came upon the Course, I was living in a similar state of zero-belief. My long-standing division of consciousness, between the idealistic and the practical, had finally canceled out who I thought I was, until I had become simply someone who suffered. Yet when I began to take responsibility for my suffering, tentatively accepting that my own beliefs — and not just cruel fate — might have led me to this state, I suddenly became someone who could learn. The real world was changing faster than ever before; after painfully subdividing and narrowing for fifteen years, it was abruptly opening up whole again, into a limitless vista of unexplored information, sensations, visions, and possibilities. At this point I undertook my study of A Course in Miracles as a curiosity, uncertain of my commitment to stick with it and hardly expecting that it would become the most influential teacher I had ever known.

If the world is to be saved — a unified goal so idealistic that most “rational” activists tend to shy from it, preferring to work on saving whales, ozone, human rights, or economic freedom — the solution will have to take root in the human mind, and flower in all minds.

Loosing The World To Save It

“There is no world!” the Course exclaims in its discussion of Lesson 132. “This is the central thought the course attempts to teach. Not everyone is ready to accept it. . . . But healing is the gift of those who are prepared to learn there is no world, and can accept the lesson now. Their readiness will bring the lesson to them in some form which they can understand and recognize.”

In retrospect I have realized that I could not have been more ready for the first section of the Course workbook, described in its introduction as “dealing with the undoing of the way you see now. . . .” Because my life had not been working, the way I saw things was quite ready to be undone. Many of the initial lessons — such as “Nothing I see . . . means anything,” “I am never upset for the reason I think,” “My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts,” and “I see nothing as it is now” — struck me not as fundamental challenges but reasonable likelihoods. These lessons are obviously inimical to ordinary self-confidence, and could be accepted without substantial resistance only by those who have somehow retained a large measure of “innocent confidence,” or those who are sick and weary. It is possibly for the latter class — of which I was a prime example — that the Course is primarily intended. In interviews I’ve conducted with its students, the majority reported that they undertook the Course during periods of personal crisis.

And if we — as an undeniably sick and weary society — do create the reality we see reported in the news, then we have an urgent need to loose the world from the anticipation of further conflict and deprivation. It seems increasingly clear that political solutions will be insufficient in themselves, as they are based on widely divergent and opposing beliefs (often religious beliefs) about reality itself. Technological evolution does change the superficial nature of the human struggle, but technology tends to serve the divided purposes of society rather than to clarify or ennoble them, creating as many problems as it solves. So if the world is to be saved — a unified goal so idealistic that most “rational” activists tend to shy from it, preferring to work on saving whales, ozone, human rights, or economic freedom — the solution will have to take root in the human mind, and flower in all minds.

The Course repeatedly suggests that the power of the mind can be our salvation, as it has unwittingly been the instrument of our misery, loneliness, and conflict. And it makes the mechanism sound quite simple — incredibly simple in comparison with the complex strategies often devised for “converting” people to a variety of causes. It suggests that the mere intent to loose the world, amplified by conscious repetition and meditative quietness, will “increase the freedom sent through your ideas to all the world. . . .” It further asserts:

You need not realize that healing comes to many brothers far across the world, as well as to the ones you see nearby, as you send out these thoughts to bless the world. But you will sense your own release, although you may not fully understand as yet that you could never be released alone. [From Lesson 132.]

Indeed, I cannot prove any sort of psychic transmission of the benefits I have experienced through my study of the Course and what “loosing the world” I have so far achieved. I have observed significant changes in my close relationships, and I am aware that I generate much less hostility or suspicion from strangers — most likely because I express much less of those feelings in a subtle, unconscious manner. But I both hope and expect that the joy I am experiencing as I regain my natural powers of learning will be felt by others, encouraging them toward a similar renascence and consequent sense of belonging.

Within fewer years than we might expect, I think that our common understanding of God will undergo a rapid maturation, leaving far behind the ridiculous questions of whether God is dead or exists as an anthropomorphic Big Daddy enforcing only a particular theology.

Regaining Authenticity

This belonging is the feeling that unified my childhood consciousness; it was lost in the disorientation of adolescence, when the world became unreal to me. Perhaps the best way to express it is this: I am certain of nothing except that I am here to learn. For me this is the essence of innocent confidence, and it cannot long exist in a mind obsessed with physical survival or the defense of egotism.

But just as the child’s energetic learning occurs under the protection of his or her parents as godly powers, the adult who would regain this capacity must have a sense of mature internalized guidance from a creator and protector. The religions of the world basically represent the social ritualization of the individual process of finding (or rediscovering) God, but the historical evidence seems to suggest that ritual passed on or enforced as a matter of belief effectively limits the development of a flexible and personally responsible spirituality. A Course in Miracles, as well as some other contemporary approaches to spirituality, emphasizes that deep investigation into one’s own consciousness is sufficient for one to regain an innate grasp of God as a universal, caring, and responsive intelligence — what it calls the “Internal Teacher.” Hence the second part of the Course workbook is concerned with “the acquisition of true perception.” The Course is one of very few spiritual disciplines presenting specific meditative concepts that do not require the student’s ritual acceptance. Thus the workbook’s introduction states:

Remember only this: you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. But do not allow yourself to make exceptions in applying the ideas the workbook contains, and whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them. Nothing more than that is required.

This prescription brings scientific rigor to the realm of consciousness. The Course ultimately relies on the student’s own powers of investigation to discover the nature of reality, using the Course as a guidebook rather than a catechism. The Course is supremely confident in stating that the ideas it presents will be equally effective whether the student believes them or not! This directly implies a principle of ultimate truth that may not be within the reach of human investigation. The Course says as much when it states: “The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance.”

By “removing the blocks” to my own awareness, I’ve realized that only the presence of love makes the world feel real. Perhaps the primary way to that presence is through fearless curiosity — about the world within as well as the world without. “Religion,” suggested Krishnamurti, “is to love without motive, to be generous, to be good, for only then are we real human beings; but goodness, generosity, or love does not come into being save through the search for reality.” (My emphasis.)

It probably goes without saying that this genuinely religious search holds enormous and radical portents for contemporary society. In general, our educational systems, our churches, and our methods of government (including representative democracy) are too inflexible to allow its full exercise; and no existing economic system would find it to be “good business.” For it sometimes requires our “becoming as little children” in order to release ourselves from the fearful thoughts we have literally institutionalized into our society. This entails yielding up — that is to say forgiving — many of the customary parameters of adulthood, such as a “healthy” ego identification, conventional notions of self-confidence, the belief in scarcity (which institutionalizes greed), and, most important, the belief in limited compassion (which institutionalizes hatred).

The way to such momentous changes in human values is not clear, and what the Course frequently refers to as “a complete reversal of the thinking of the world” may seem absurd and impossible. But I, for one, have been led by my own experience, natural curiosity, and meditative discipline to a state of mind that entertains these possibilities. After years of thrashing about in a senseless world that seemed to oppose my highest aspirations, I have simply forgiven that world by realizing that it was largely defined and limited by my own pessimism. I’m no longer concerned with defining what the “real world” is — perhaps, as the Course asserts, there is no world at all — but I do know that I have regained a personal sense of authenticity. I know that I am here to learn and, through writing, to teach whatever I can discover, record, and synthesize. No other definition of myself is needed.

When I remember that I knew this much about myself as a child of twelve, I marvel at the incredible capacity of our society, particularly our educational system, to confuse and intimidate our confidently innocent children in order to produce narrow-minded and quietly desperate (or violent) adults. This happens quite simply because we feel it is wise and scientific to deliver our children into a world where direct experience of a transcendent yet internalized teacher is seldom achieved. We do this by subtly and overtly telling adolescents that the wide-open, free-ranging exercise of curiosity that taught them how to walk, talk, sense their environment, and develop intellectual capacities during childhood must be sharply curtailed in favor of cultural conformity and the struggle to survive. Introspection — which leads us to experience God through observing our own consciousness — is widely regarded as a waste of time, and generally withers in most adults despite its inarguable status as a uniquely human instinct.

But this forgetful world, too, is about to be forgiven, as the increasingly serious consequences of our self-ignorance provide us with the stinging motivation to let stupidity go in favor of our evolution. Within fewer years than we might expect, I think that our common understanding of God will undergo a rapid maturation, leaving far behind the ridiculous questions of whether God is dead or exists as an anthropomorphic Big Daddy enforcing only a particular theology. We will become concerned instead with the daily action of universal consciousness within our own lives — that is, with the diverse fulfillments of love as the unifying human function.

This seems to be the intent of A Course in Miracles as a radical tool of consciousness. Certainly no one should mistake it for a mere adjunct to therapy or a massive collection of soothing homilies about human potential. It intends to guide us toward releasing our world from our present limiting definitions, into an unprecedented phase of ecstatic human development. That real world — of human potential realized and ongoing, instead of theorized or dreamed about — may look impossible now. Yet I sense that it is irresistible, inevitable, and imminent. Its arrival awaits our desire to have it. That desire arises naturally, through our unleashed capacity to learn, as we loose the world from all the thoughts of condemnation we have so long enforced upon it.

D. Patrick Miller dedicates this essay to the memory of Dr. William N. Thetford, one of the two original collaborators in the transcription of A Course in Miracles. Dr. Thetford died in Tiburon, California, in July 1988.

Responses to this essay are invited by Patrick, and may be sent to him at 1442A Walnut Street, #58, Berkeley, CA 94709.

— Ed.

This is the first in a series of four essays inspired by the principles of A Course in Miracles. The other essays in this series are “Climbing the Stone Face of Fear” [Issue 164], “Homeless” [Issue 166], and “A Brutal Sadness” [Issue 212].