Dear student of A Course in Miracles —
To this day I remember the warm wash of peace that seemed to flow over me as I read the first few lessons of the Course.
Nothing I see in this room means anything… These thoughts do not mean anything… I am never upset for the reason I think… I see only the past… I am upset because I see a meaningless world… God did not create a meaningless world.
Even now, two decades after first opening the heavy, hardcover book with the onion skin paper, I can read these lines, close my eyes, and put myself back into that place where all of the loneliness, anxiety, and despair seemed to melt away. The voice floating above the page was soothing, radiant. It seemed to understand my nameless predicament, and to speak directly to it, helping me, step by step, to slow down and disassemble the internal machine of endless conflict that had become my mind.
I had tried many things to soothe myself. I had travelled to India, and learned to meditate. I had poured over yoga books and prostrated in temples. I had fasted and chanted. I had taken Buddhist vows. But the Course spoke to me in English, with a directness, simplicity and rhythm that felt so at home. That the voice said it belonged to Jesus, and that he spoke of forgiveness and resurrection: this mended the broken shards of Christianity at the bottom of my soul.
The spell began to break after a little more than two years — a few weeks into circling through the round of 365 lessons for the third time.
Why did it break? Context is everything.
I had been introduced to the book by the charismatic leader of a cult. He thrilled me with his knowledge of the book, his commitment to it. I moved across the country to listen to him teach from it every day.
But at some mysterious point it became clear that, despite his seeming brilliance, he was emotionally manipulating and financially exploiting the hundreds of us who gathered around him. He wasn’t an outright criminal. My impression after all of these years was that he was a deeply traumatized former alcoholic who had learned to present his…