In the last two posts, I shared a perspective of mine that the Old and New Testaments are actually God-inspired survival manuals for the human race, independent of whatever historical data they may provide. The Neo-Testament is an expression I coined to describe a third God-inspired book that I feel is a continuation of this theme.
That being said, first let's recap: In my interpretation of the Testament Trilogy, the Old Testament showed up at a time when judgment, attack, vengeance, kill or be killed, and "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a truth" attitudes and strategies were encouraged for purposes of survival.
As time passed, it became necessary to modify the approach in order to avoid killing each other off. Ergo: The New Testament, which details the message of Jesus Christ, who told us, basically, "Forget about all that kill or be killed stuff. You've got to ratchet down the violence and find a way to get along."
The road map for this was his Sermon on the Mount, whereby he attempted to elevate our consciousness from a focus on fear, judgment and attack to a focus on love, acceptance and forgiveness. His message emphasized, as well, the importance of charity, helping those less fortunate, and letting go of greed, which were all best summed up in, "What good is it if you gain the whole world but lose your soul?"
Unfortunately, we didn't get it. As one century has led into another, we have remained selfish, greedy, and jealous, full of ego, judgment, resentment, grievance, anger and unforgiveness, and we have continued to insist on violence as a solution to our problems.
Now imagine it's 1965. Imagine God and Jesus discussing our lack of progress. God says to Jesus, "The human race is at risk of annihilating itself. It needs more than another pep talk from you. It needs very clear directions if it's going to survive."
Jesus responds with, "There's no way I'm going back down there again. Look what happened the last time I tried to make a point. Yes, I know I resurrected myself, that the body is an illusion, as is pain, suffering and death. But, all the same, it wasn't fun."
So God says, "Okay, fine, don't go. How about we give them an instruction manual which will not only remind them of your Sermon on the Mount message and what they need to do, but will explain to them exactly how to do it?"
Enter the Neo-Testament, better known as A Course In Miracles. The way the story goes, the scribe of A Course In Miracles, Helen Schucman, a psychologist at Columbia University, heard a voice which identified itself as Jesus Christ. The voice told her, "This is a course in miracles. Please take notes."
And then the voice dictated what was formatted into three books: a book of text, describing the thought system of A Course In Miracles, a Workbook of 365 lessons, designed to train the mind to shift from a belief in fear to a knowledge of love, and a Manual for Teachers, to help people share the information with others.
A key premise of A Course In Miracles is that "God is love and love is all there is." Therefore, anything that is not of love, such as fear (the absence of love) and everything that comes from fear (scarcity, lack, violence, war, disease, suffering, and death) is not of God and is not real, but rather is an illusion, a nightmare we will one day collectively wake up from when each mind embraces unconditional love and forgiveness.
A Course In Miracles is not a religion. Although it is steeped in Christian terminology, it is not Christianity. Many aspects of it reflect principles of Zen Buddhism, such as mindfulness, meditation, and the concept that our perception of reality is an illusion.
A Course In Miracles is a philosophy of ethical conduct. It is a philosophy that speaks to the end of judgment and other fear thoughts as a path to inner peace. Nonetheless, many people are threatened by A Course In Miracles because it goes against everything they have been taught to believe about God and reality.
Many people have allowed their fear to distort the meaning of A Course In Miracles to the point of perceiving it as a cult or a tool of Satan. This is absurd. It is a book that endorses love and forgiveness. That's it. That's the deal.
Some of my favorite quotes from A Course In Miracles are: "Only the mind can be sick. Only the mind is in need of healing." "Seek not to change the world. Seek to change your mind about the world." "I could see peace instead of this." "To have all, give all to all." "To have peace, teach peace to learn it." "I am not the victim of the world I see." "Love holds no grievances." "I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts." "I will not be afraid of love today." "Love, which created me is what I am." "Peace to my mind. Let all my thoughts be still."
I could go on and on. A Course In Miracles is full of powerful, inspirational affirmations of Truth, God and Love.
As to the issue of who wrote A Course In Miracles, I couldn't care less. I like the idea that Jesus Christ dictated it to Helen Schucman, but I honestly wouldn't care if she had claimed it was the voice of Daffy Duck she heard in her head.
What I do care about is the fact that the material is brilliant. It makes sense out of everything in this world that has made no sense to me, including a God who would cause or allow any of his children to experience pain, suffering and death.
Additionally, what I like about A Course In Miracles is that it works. In the process of applying its principles over the years, I have seen the power of forgiveness transform minds from fear to love, and I've seen that transformative process heal people and relationships.
There are many paths to enlightenment and inner peace that speak of the power of love and forgiveness. There are many books that teach the same principles as A Course In Miracles, using different terminology and different teaching tools. They're all good. They're all worthy.
If you've already found a path of truth that you're satisfied with, you need look no further. But if you have not found a satisfying path and are still struggling with fear, anger, judgment and pain, all of which contribute to a life less satisfying than you desire, I encourage you to put skepticism and cynicism aside, and see for yourself if A Course In Miracles might be right for you.
(Note: This ends my series of posts on religion and God. Next week I'll return to my usual subject matter, focusing on educational, inspirational and motivational messages to help people navigate their relationships and their lives in effective and satisfying ways.)