A Course of Love (ACOL) claims to be a continuation of A Course in Miracles (ACIM). It was heard inwardly and written down, as was ACIM, and in both cases the “voice” claimed to be from Jesus. However, the literary style of ACOL, though similar to that of ACIM, is not the same and appears to be an attempt to mimic it. In addition, there are major differences between these two works that need to be pointed out, because some of the teachings in ACOL contradict core teachings in ACIM that have helped and still are helping many to purify their minds of earthly illusions and the limiting beliefs of the ego, so they can receive the blessings of the Holy Spirit. If people believed the teachings in ACOL, the spiritual help they would otherwise receive from many of the teachings and practices in ACIM would be nullified. The purpose of this article is to shed light on some of the fundamental differences between the two works.
The following page and section numbers refer to ACOL: Combined Volume.
In 1.1, 7, 12, ACOL says that now – at this point in learning this course – the ego has been separated from the reader’s personal self, and the reader’s “remembrance of the Christ-Self has abolished the ego-self… ” In other words, it claims the reader has now realized the Christ.
ACOL says if you try to help others who are suffering you may lose your inner peace, that you should minister to those in illusion only if your unity (oneness) with Jesus Christ is accomplished and if, without being in unity, you try to help others leave illusions behind and return to unity, it will not work (20.14-15). This is not true. If you seek and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit within you when trying to help others, you will not lose your inner peace, and it is always helpful to recommend the teachings of ACIM to those who are receptive and ready.
If ACIM has benefited you, you can mention this to all who would be open to hearing what you have to say. By sharing with love and a desire to help others, our love increases, for we receive what we give. This is a divine principle, and those who live in love and in harmony with God’s laws help others. A Course in Miracles speaks of the laws of God, which have not changed. ACOL tells us that the time of Christ is now upon us, that new laws are now in effect, and that we no longer need the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. There is no evidence of this. The time of Christ may be fast approaching, but the Holy Spirit is still with us. And when we listen to and follow His gentle guidance, He leads us to the Christ… the wisdom, love and light within… the truth of what we are.
These sections contain many false statements in an attempt to convince the reader that, in order to realize the one Self, one has to unite with oneness by separating from oneness.
In 11.5, ACOL tells us, “It is only in relationship that the oneness of the self separates from oneness and so knows oneness.” What could this possibly mean? If oneness is oneness, it could not separate from oneness.
ACOL also says, “God is the oneness and the separation.” How could God be the oneness and the separation? ACIM teaches that God is real, separation is illusion, and reality cannot be part real and part illusion.
Furthermore, in 11.5-6, ACOL says that, without relationship between separate selves, personal selves of form, God would not know “He” existed, and God would not know God. This is not true. The illusion of separate selves was not needed for God to know Himself and His existence. God is omniscient. He knows He exists and what He is through direct knowing of His reality, unlike human thinking, which depends on words and images in the mind that almost always represent physical perceptions, which are the mind’s interpretation of sensations caused by energy currents coming from sensory nerves in the body. When we think of something, even something spiritual, we almost always use words and images that are normally used to represent physical perceptions, which are illusions, not reality. God is reality and through direct knowing knows Himself and His existence.
In 11.3-5, ACOL also tells us that God, the self of form, and the One Self (the Christ) within the self of form, are capable of being either the observer or the observed only through the means of separate relationships joining in union and, in 11.6, that what is separate and joined in relationship is All because it is all that is knowable. To say that what is separate and joined in relationship is everything implies that, without separate selves of form (separate selves in physical bodies) joining in relationships, nothing else (which includes God and the Self) could have existed. The message of ACOL is that the existence of God and the Self was made possible by man. It is the opposite of what Jesus teaches in ACIM. In ACIM, Jesus tells us that God is our Author (Creator). He encourages us to set aside the false concept that we can create what we are, Chapter 3, VII (4), and to affirm that we are as God created us.
The Self – the Higher Self, or Son – is one’s reality. We may not be aware of the Self, but it is what we really are. The Self is blissful, loving, omnipresent consciousness, one with the Supreme Consciousness, God, and is changeless, ever as God created It. It already is elevated, in other words, is of Spirit, not flesh, and has no form. It is eternal, although individual souls under the influence of the ego identify with the body – the mortal, physical form they inhabit for a time – and thus do not experience their eternal reality.
God is the Supreme Blissful Reality beyond form, and it is our relationship with the Holy Spirit, whom God created to guide us home, and with those who are united with this loving aspect of God, that enables us to transcend form and become aware of our eternal reality as the Self.
ACOL is an attempt to persuade us that we needed to separate from oneness and relate to each other as individuals with bodily form in order to know God and the Christ, and for God and the Christ to exist. This is the antithesis of truths that Jesus and others who have known God and the Christ have taught down through the ages.
The paradise of Eden was a perfect world in which the first humans, symbolized by Adam and Eve, were in an exalted state of consciousness and experienced oneness with each other and God. They already were in relationship with each other and God and did not need to separate from oneness. God and Christ already existed, and they could commune with God, and perceive God in the life, beauty and intelligence of nature as one. They experienced diversity, the individual characteristics of each other and different things, but were also aware of the oneness of everything.
They could have remained in this paradise and after a short time become fully united with the Father while still retaining their individuality, but they misconceived and did not appreciate the gift of their creation as individual souls, like individual rays of light issuing forth from One Light, and the opportunity of experiencing the perfect world of Eden. They did not understand the purpose of their new existence and did not want it, so they mentally rejected it. Thus they separated themselves in thought, though not in reality, from God’s creation and from God, and fell from the heaven of harmonious unity with their Creator. They tried to compensate for this loss by finding pleasure in the imperfect world that resulted, but failed. Eventually, illusions almost totally replaced their awareness of God and of God’s creation. Today, our human consciousness and the world we perceive are a legacy of the fall of mankind in Eden.
The oneness and glory beheld by the Son in Eden before He fell into delusion may have been what Jesus meant by “what is true in earth” when he said, “Think not you made the world. Illusions, yes! But what is true in earth and Heaven is beyond your naming” (ACIM Workbook, Lesson 184: 8).
Most of the teachings in ACOL make little or no sense, especially those presented toward the end of the book, and they contradict timeless truths, not only those set forth by Jesus in A Course in Miracles, but those that were written about by Christian mystics and great masters who experienced, and therefore knew, the peace, omnipresent awareness and love of the Christ Consciousness.
The Christ Consciousness – the Christ, or Son – is omnipresent throughout the universe, and our awareness of It develops by degrees. The more we lift our consciousness above the level of sensory experience, the primary domain of the ego, and focus on that which is observable by the highest faculties of the soul, the more we unite with the Christ Consciousness.
Christ Consciousness is an extension of God, not as ACOL says, “the awareness of existence through relationship” (p. 560, 11.7). Christ Consciousness is in the Christ Light that exists just behind the world we perceive with our physical senses. It is the pure reflection in creation of the loving intelligence of God. It has existed since the beginning of time and is omniscient, changeless and without form. It is the Christ Mind, the Son of God, who manifested in Jesus and in time will manifest in every human being.
This is the way Jesus describes Christ Consciousness in Conversations with Christ by Alexander Soltys Jones. It is what enlightened beings have sometimes said, but often do not say, because words give an incomplete idea of higher truths, which need to be experienced in order to be known. Paramahansa Yogananda, an enlightened master, described Christ Consciousness using almost the same words. Yogananda had realized the Self as this divine consciousness, or awareness, omnipresent throughout creation.
ACOL is filled with false statements about the nature of God and the Christ. It was transmitted to the receiver from December, 1998 through October, 2001 and claimed that the time of the Holy Spirit (the Voice for God) had come to an end. It would be a grievous error to accept its false teachings, which contradict the very essence of Jesus’s teachings in ACIM, and give up listening to and following the Voice for God just because a spirit pretending to be Jesus said we were in the time of the Christ and no longer needed to listen to the Voice for God. It is now 2015, about fifteen years since ACOL was received, and while many souls are waking up, there is no indication that many have entered the state of Christ Consciousness, the omnipresent, loving intelligence in the Light of God just behind the world we see with our physical eyes. Moreover, in the ACIM Workbook Epilogue, Jesus says that the Course is a beginning, not an end, that there is no more need of specific lessons and that, after one completes the Course, the Voice of the Holy Spirit will be their guide and comfort as they continue on their journey homeward to God.
When I bought ACOL, I looked forward to learning more about the nature of the Self but found that many statements about the Self, God, and Christ Consciousness were vague, and I had to struggle to try to determine what they meant. However, by reading certain sections over and over, the meaning of these statements became clear, and I realized they were not true and I had been trying to make sense out of false teachings that could not have come from Jesus. In fact, many of them are the opposite of the teachings of Jesus and others who achieved God-realization – who had consciously united with (become one with) the Christ and the Father.
In ACIM, Jesus says that God the Father created us (the Self, or Son) in His likeness and our reality is formless. He tells us the body is an illusion; that it can make things, but does not create because to create is to create that which is real, and only Spirit can do this. ACOL reverses this and tries to convince the reader that we are beings of form (physical beings) and that through our relationships with other beings of form we create the Self, which is our reality. It even tells us that, unless we first existed as beings of form, God would not exist.
ACOL is full of false claims and deceptive arguments designed to negate Jesus’ teachings in ACIM. Here are some more of its falsehoods, contrasted with truths in ACIM.
In 11.3 the physical self is called the “self of form” but in 12.3 it is called the “Self.” Then, in 12.2-4, the Christ Consciousness is referred to as the “One Self” surrounding the space of the body. These and many other concepts in ACOL are not clearly expressed. This may have been intentional, to keep the reader from realizing that they contradict basic truths in ACIM.
ACOL claims that in order to share in unity and relationship we had to perceive separation from oneness (11.2). It would have us believe this because it wants us to accept the idea that, by separating from oneness, we could unite the world of form with the world of Spirit and, by combining form (the body) with the formless (Spirit), create who we are. However, we are the formless (reality), which is eternal, we are not form (illusion), which perishes, and in ACIM, Jesus says that reality cannot be combined with illusion. When we know reality, illusion disappears.
As mentioned, the first humans already were in unity and relationship. They were individual selves, had physical bodies and the power to materialize bodies, and they experienced oneness. Eden was a glorious state of consciousness, a happy dream.
These perfect selves could have enjoyed and learned from their experiences as individual souls in a world of beauty, love and light, and later, without losing their individuality, could have fully merged with each other and God as one. However, they misconceived the gift of existing as individual selves. They interpreted it as separation, and many thought of it as rejection. These and other judgments caused their consciousness to fall, and instead of paradise, they perceived a bleak world of their own imagining, which obscured the “happy dream” God had given them. They tried to find happiness in earthly pleasures, but without awareness of the soul and Spirit, earthly illusions simply increased the illusion of separation. They felt guilt and fear, and in time, their awareness of the peace, love, oneness, joy, wisdom, and power of the soul and Spirit were almost totally replaced with cravings for sense pleasures, greed, false beliefs, and other evils that arose in their illusory world. They became almost totally cut off from communion with God and descended into darkness and misery. God did not banish His children from their happy dream; they banished themselves.
There was never any need for us to perceive separation from God, and in reality, this never happened. In illusions, the happy dream of Eden was forgotten, but the Self still exists, and through unconditional love, we can make our relationships holy, experience the “real world,” and return to the Father.
If we contemplate the teachings in ACIM and sincerely seek and follow the Voice of the Holy Spirit, who patiently waits for us to truly want to be guided by Him, we can regain paradise and return to our Creator. We will know when we are in the time of the Christ, for we will feel our consciousness expanding in the infinite love and omnipresent awareness of our immortal Self, the Christ.
In 11.6, ACOL says, “Only what exists in relationship knows that it exists.” In context, it is telling us that separate selves of form (11.2-3), or bodies, can know they exist only by existing in relationship.
This contradicts a fundamental teaching in ACIM, that bodies and separation are both illusions (not real) and the Self (which is real and does exist) is without form. Therefore, relationship between separate selves of form is an illusion and does not represent the existence of what we are: the immortal, formless Self. Moreover, you know that you exist by experiencing what you are, not by experiencing relationship between your body and other bodies separate from each other. A “holy relationship” will help you to experience the love that you are and thus know that you exist, but this knowledge comes through direct experience of the Self when your relationship with another being is on the level of Spirit and transcends relationship on the level of physical form.
We are mind (consciousness), and when we awaken in the light and love of the Christ Mind (Christ Consciousness), we transcend the illusion of separation. Realizing our unity with each other in the oneness of the Christ Consciousness, we become aware that the body and separation are illusion (not real) and we are one.
In 12.3-4, ACOL claims that Christ Consciousness – the One Self (the Son) – is all that is, and then, on page 644 (37.22-24), says that “God the Father” exists only as an idea created by Jesus. This reverses the truth that God has always existed and, as Jesus tells us, is his Father (Source).
ACOL also says that the One Self loves Its Self, there is nothing else to love, and the One Self is the All. However, Jesus, who is one with the Christ Consciousness, loves the Father and, in ACIM, tells us that union with the Father is the goal of our journey.
The falsehoods in ACOL that have been mentioned are an attempt to convince the reader that bodies, separation, relationship between bodies joining in union, and materiality are real, and that God (the Father, who created the Son) exists only as an expression of the Son (Christ Consciousness), and that the Son could not have existed without separate physical bodies joined in relationship (11.2, 5-7). This is the opposite of the ACIM teaching that only God and God’s creations are real and that the body and the world we see with the body’s eyes are dreams that will disappear when we wake up and know God (who is beyond time and space and has always existed) and the Son (who is formless Spirit and was created by God).
In 16.10, ACOL says fear is a response to a feeling, not a feeling. In 16.14, it goes on to say that consciousness does not include either love or fear. This is nonsense. Fear is a feeling, which we experience as an emotional response to a perceived threat. And, although fear is illusion, it is part of consciousness (ego-consciousness, not Christ Consciousness), and Christ Consciousness is the loving consciousness that leads to the Father. Keep in mind that the term “consciousness” is usually defined as awareness (of anything, whether illusion or reality) but in ACIM Jesus uses “consciousness” and “perception” to refer to awareness of that which is illusion (unreal) and “knowledge” to refer to awareness of that which is real. Loving thoughts are an exception. They may be perceived in the world but are eternal and are its only reality, Chapter 11, VII (2).
After saying, in 29.5-7, that wholeness and separation are merged in the reader’s new reality – which is impossible because, according to ACIM, separation is an illusion and disappears when brought to reality – ACOL goes on to tell the reader that they are always the creator of their reality (29.8). This goes against Jesus’ warning in ACIM, Chapter 3, VII (4), not to believe you can create yourself. He says you can perceive that you can do this but you cannot make it true because God is your Creator. In VII (5), he says the belief that we can self-create denies the Fatherhood of God and is the “devil” because it reinforces the illusion of separation from God.
From statements on pages 553 (10.12), 559 (11.2-3, 5-6) and 561 (12.2-4) in ACOL one can see that the spirit that conceived ACOL wants the reader to believe the body is an essential part of Christ Consciousness – the One Self, the Christ (page 580, 17.4) – and is reality. This is the opposite of what ACIM wants us to realize, that the body is not real but is an illusion, and that illusions cannot be combined with truth – the oneness, love and light of God that exist beyond illusion. The body is what caused human beings to forget God and reality in the beginning.
Students of ACIM would lose the benefits of its teachings if they read and believed what ACOL says. If they believed, as it claimed (about fifteen years ago, when it was received), that the time of the Holy Spirit had ended, and the reader was consciously united with the Christ and no longer needed to be guided by the Holy Spirit, they would cease to listen for and follow the “Voice” of the Holy Spirit, which as Jesus repeatedly tells us in ACIM, enables us to overcome the influence of the ego and unite with the Christ. The Christ, the Son, is the reflected light, love, and oneness of God; omnipresent and omniscient – our immortal being, our true identity – and we need the help of the Holy Spirit so we can consciously unite with the Christ.
As mentioned, ACOL wants the reader to believe that the body is part of the reality of the Christ. This is an attempt to negate Jesus’ teaching, clearly stated in ACIM, that the illusion of the body blocks our awareness of God (Chapter 18, VIII 1-2 and IX 3). Most people are strongly attached to the body, with their minds focused on food, entertainment, physical pleasure and worldly concerns, spending little or no time contemplating, worshipping or thinking about God. Very few people are aware that God is within them as divine love and light. Instead, they think of themselves as the body and therefore feel separated from God. They keep trying to fill the void by seeking happiness in the pleasures of the body, which never works because without experiencing the love of God, one cannot be truly happy and satisfied. As long as one remains focused on the body, thinking it is their reality, the illusion of separation continues.
If people believed what ACOL teaches, they would think they had already achieved union with the Christ. Instead of contemplating and living the truths in ACIM and following the “Voice” of the Holy Spirit, they would think all they had to do was let the Christ take care of them. Many would not even give material help or spiritual counsel to those in need of it, because ACOL said this was not their responsibility and could cause them to lose their inner peace. Unsubstantiated and often enticing statements that contradict those of Jesus in ACIM would keep them from knowing Spirit, and they would continue to experience separation from the Self and God.
The ego, fearful of its demise, is intent on replacing God with illusion, Reality with unreality, and Truth with falsehood. It wants us to cling to the idea that the body is an essential part of reality and is what we are. It wants us to believe we create our reality through relationships with each other in physical bodies, when in truth our reality already exists, is Spirit, and only needs to be discovered. It was the ego in the mind of a smooth-talking, crafty spirit that conceived ACOL, in an attempt to keep souls from attaining liberation through the teachings in ACIM and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Note: In addition to some of Jesus’ teachings in A Course in Miracles and Conversations With Christ, this article also includes spiritual concepts from God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhavagad Gita by Paramahansa Yogananda, Love Without End by Glenda Green, Messages from Jesus by Mary Ann Johnston, and The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ by Levi.