The Convergence of the Paths
The Many Paths
The Course makes this curious statement about itself:
“This is a manual for a special curriculum, intended for teachers of a special form of the universal course. There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome. They merely save time.” M-1.4
Here we are told that A Course in Miracles is “a special form of the universal course.”
Concerning this “universal course” we are told that “There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome.”
Having been a student of many spiritual philosophies I have seen threads of similarities running through most of them. Therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an inspired work like ACIM to state that there are other harmonious teachings that steer us toward liberation. I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had given the figure of a dozen or so. If it had said a hundred, I would have thought that to be a very generous estimate, but I would not have put the figure at thousand. And neither did ACIM. It didn’t stop at a thousand, but said “many thousands.”
The various ACIM students come from many different backgrounds and some have studied numerous spiritual philosophies. Many though, when they discover ACIM, find it so different and enlightening that they stop right there and make it their one guide to spiritual living. They figure they don’t need thousands of books to draw from over even a dozen, but just one as a point of focus and that may be where the Holy Spirit guides them for this particular life.
On the other hand, other students are interested in the bigger or more holistic picture and realize that there are many truths not presented in ACIM and desire to seek them out, and the Course says nothing to discourage this. For those who are guided by ACIM though the choice as to which teachings to consume besides the Course are quite ambiguous. After all, it says there are “many thousands” that lead to the same outcome as the Course. That is basically like telling you to pick any spiritual teaching out there, follow it and it will take you toward awakening.
So, what about the guy who follows a half-crazy cult leader that scams him out of all his possessions? Does that lead him toward liberation?
Actually, such detours are steps that all of us take on the path to awakening. By giving up all his possessions he lessened his attachment to the illusion. Yeah, the cult leader taught many things in error but he did dangle the idea of a better world in front of his followers and that truth will remain embedded with them even after they realize what a fraud he was.
On the other hand, there are many spiritual teachings out there which were initiated and maintained by sincere leaders. Of course, some of them are closer to the truth than others.
These various paths fall into two main categories.
 The orthodox or mainstream religions. These would include Christianity, Islam, Judaism and various eastern religions. All of these teach the idea of taking focus away from the material world and placing it on the spiritual which is also a prime focus of ACIM.
 Alternative spiritual movements of which ACIM is one.
For several generations now there has been an increasing number of alternative teachings emerging that have presented a challenge to mainstream religion. Some of them have an organized hierarchy and some do not. Many fall under the public’s generic title of “New Age” but few of them identify themselves as such.
Many of those involved in alternative spiritual teaching do not identify themselves with any religion when polled and this has caused significant concern with religious leaders.
According to Gallup at the turn of the century 70% of the people in the United States belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque. Religious authorities are alarmed that by 2020 that figure had dropped to 47%. That is an unprecedented drop in identification with orthodox religion.
This doesn’t mean that people are turning toward atheism in droves as an increasing number of people identify themselves as “spiritual, but not religious.” A Pew poll taken in 2017 showed that a whopping 27% of Americans saw themselves in this light. The good news is that these people are still believers in a Higher Power, but just don’t see any organized religion being a good fit for them.
Many ACIM students are in this category.
This breaking away from orthodox religion to exploring alternative thinking is good news for the future of ACIM and other solid teachings, as orthodoxy has a firm hold on the minds of its members and few of them will consider something out of the mainstream.
The problem is that when students seek for truth out of the mainstream, they encounter the good, the bad and the ugly.
As previously noted, all of them can have some value to the sincere seeker but some are definitely more helpful than others.
ACIM doesn’t come out and blatantly tell us that its teachings are the best of the lot, as far as awakening goes, but it does tell us that it will be very helpful for those who make use of it.
Helen was told that the Course was introduced because of worsening world conditions and “Because of the acute emergency, however, the usual slow, evolutionary process is being by-passed in what might best be described as a celestial speed-up.” Journey Without Distance by Robert Skutch
So apparently most of the world’s teachings take us through “the usual slow, evolutionary process,” but ACIM is different in that the Course speeds up the process.
We are told that the plan to have people teach the Course “is to save time. Each one begins as a single light, but with the Call at its center it is a light that cannot be limited. And each one saves a thousand years of time as the world judges it.” M-1.2
In numerous occasions the Course stresses that it will save us much time. Here are a couple:
“Today we try to bring reality still closer to your mind. Each time you practice, awareness is brought a little nearer at least; sometimes a thousand years or more are saved.” W-pI.97.3
“If you achieve the faintest glimmering of what love means today, you have advanced in distance without measure and in time beyond the count of years to your release.” W-pI.127.7
So, we conclude that “many thousands” of teachings will be helpful in the evolutionary process but some, like the Course, can be a big timesaver. Those that stress “what love means” apparently save big time.
Major Approaches to Truth
Therefore, when looking at sources of light outside of ACIM one wants to find those as close to the truth as possible for they will save the most time on the path to awakening.
If the seeker follows the advice of the Course, he will do his best to be one with the mind of the Holy Spirit which will give him power to discern truth from error and the real from the unreal. This is what I have done in my life. I have found that when true principles are presented to me that there is a vibration of recognition that stirs within my inner core wherein the Spirit can be felt.
From my efforts to discern through the Spirit I have seen some value in orthodox religion, but they are indeed part of that “slow evolutionary process” previously mentioned. However, if students will just bypass their religious authorities and study the world scriptures under the guidance of the Spirit, they can come to many truthful conclusions that will speed the journey.
For instance, I have found the words of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament to be very profound and inspiring. Never has there been so much said in such few words.
In addition, many other parts of the Bible and other world scriptures have thoughts and teachings worthy of contemplation.
In recent times a plethora of teachings have surfaced, often with the claim that they were transmitted from some higher or divine authority, from God to all kinds of other entities.
These transmissions, often called channeling, fall into two general categories.
The first are unconscious transmissions. The most common of these occur when the subject goes into a trance and another entity speaks through his or her body, often with a different voice or accent. Generally, when the medium awakens there will be no memory of what occurred though some say they were somewhat conscious of what was received. Seth and the Law of One are two popular writings received this way.
Another in this category is reception through automatic writing. Here some other worldly force or entity takes control of the hand and writes messages. The subject is unaware of what was written until he reads them himself. The popular “Conversations with God” was received this way.
The second category of transmission is by a fully conscious reception through what we might call mental telepathy. This was the method used by Helen Schucman in receiving A Course in Miracles.
Many esoteric students, including myself, consider the teachings received through conscious reception to be significantly superior to the unconscious ones. One reason is that many entities drawn to unconscious mediums are not very advanced along the path to awakening. Many of them are no more intelligent than those taking in their words.
The source of other direct voice channels can come from the mind of the medium or even the combined minds of those participating.
There are two major problems with material delivered by unconscious mediums. The first is that almost all of them make predictions that do not come true. Unfortunately, this does not seem to discourage true believers but it does raise a red flag to a dispassionate investigator.
The second problem is that most of their teachings will have points that disagree with each other. If two teachings disagree then either one or both of them are false. They cannot both be true. ACIM puts forth a great teaching on this:
“The truth is true, and nothing else is true. This you have heard before, but may not yet accept both parts of it. Without the first, the second has no meaning. But without the second, is the first no longer true. Truth cannot have an opposite. This can not be too often said and thought about. For if what is not true is true as well as what is true, then part of truth is false. And truth has lost its meaning. Nothing but the truth is true, and what is false is false.” W-pI.152.3
Messages from conscious channeling comes from two sources. The first is from a person’s own ego. These messages will contain contradictory teachings and often include false prophesies. They have flaws similar to the unconscious mediums and are usually created by the subtle desires of the receiver.
The second source is from a being of high intelligence who has mastered the art of mental telepathy. If the material produced far exceeds in quality anything the receiver has written then it most probably came from advanced entity often referred to as a Master of Wisdom. These are mentioned in the Course:
“There are those who have reached God directly, retaining no trace of worldly limits and remembering their own Identity perfectly. These might be called the Teachers of teachers because, although they are no longer visible, their image can yet be called upon. And they will appear when and where it is helpful for them to do so. To those to whom such appearances would be frightening, they give their ideas. No one can call on them in vain. Nor is there anyone of whom they are unaware. All needs are known to them, and all mistakes are recognized and overlooked by them. The time will come when this is understood. And meanwhile, they give all their gifts to the teachers of God who look to them for help, asking all things in their name and in no other.” M-26.2
The Voice in ACIM identifies Itself as Jesus but there are numerous other Masters besides him who work with humanity. Much of their work is not recognized by humanity for they will often send impressions giving needed ideas and instructions to those dedicated to serving humanity. When the transmissions are received, they often think they came from their own minds.
Then there are significant times that a Master will transmit teachings to be given out to the general public as was the case with A Course in Miracles.
In addition to the Course, numerous teachings of a high order have been transmitted in full consciousness to various teachers of the Ancient Wisdom often linked to Theosophy. These include Helena P. Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy, Helena Roerich, Alice A. Bailey, and Lucille Cedercrans as significant conscious receivers. There are numerous others who claim contact with the masters, but these are significant ones.
Rudolf Steiner is another significant figure associated with Theosophy but he received through his own meditations rather than mental telepathy from a Master.
It is interesting that when we include Helen Schucman that we have three Helens receiving very influential teachings by conscious mental telepathy.
Even if a set of teachings is of a high order no student should assume they are infallible. He or she should always run them by the Spirit within to make sure one’s understanding is correct. Without assistance of the Holy Spirit, the drawback of language itself will cause some distortion.
My favorite receiver of the Ancient Wisdom is Alice A. Bailey. Like A Course in Miracles, I only had to read a few pages of her work to conclude that this was a transmission from an intelligence of a very high order. H. P. Blavatsky’s teachings are also profound as she is largely responsible for introducing the Ancient Wisdom tradition to the West.
Like Helen Schucman, Alice A. Bailey started consciously registering a voice from within and at first was reluctant to cooperate. Like Helen, after receiving a number of transmissions she became convinced of their quality and became a willing scribe. Overall, Alice produced 24 books containing over 3,400,000 words.
The purpose of the two sets of writings are quite a bit different. The Course has the one main goal of waking up the seeker to his true reality. The Baily and Blavastky writings also deal with this but go into significant detail in a much wider range of teachings. Even though the Ancient Wisdom and ACIM are quite harmonious with each other the style and presentation are so different it is like they were written in two different languages. One could even say that ACIM has a language all in its own category. This is one reason that many of its students focus on it alone and do not see much in harmony from other teachings. Very few ACIM students study the Ancient Wisdom.
On the other hand, students of the Ancient Wisdom have the same problem as Course students. The writing style and focus seem so different that they do not give them a serious look and will often dismiss them after reading a few pages. It is interesting though that Ancient Wisdom students will read a wide variety within their accepted philosophy. I would chalk this up to the fact that the various writings within the category of the Ancient Wisdom use a similar language, vocabulary and accepted sources. The problem is that ACIM seems to be in such a different category that similarities in teachings are difficult for them to see.
It is about time then that someone took a serious look at both teaching traditions and see how they line up. If both come from similarly high spiritual sources then they should be a high level of agreement.
Fortunately, I have seriously studied both and have indeed found a high level of such agreement. To see this one has to realize that both sides use quite a different vocabulary, define words and concepts differently and have a different purpose and focus. But if one looks beyond the imperfection of reducing pure thought down to the symbols that create our writing and look at the ideas expressed one can find much harmony.
And that is what we will do next. We will examine the significant teachings of both and see how they line up with each other.
Read the Introduction HERE, Read Chapter One HERE. Chapter Two HERE, Chapter Three HERE, Chapter Four HERE, Chapter Five HERE Chapter Six HERE, Chapter Seven HERE, Chapter Eight HERE, Chapter Nine HERE, Chapter Ten HERE, Chapter Eleven HERE, Chapter Twelve HERE, Chapter Thirteen HERE, Chapter Fourteen HERE, Fifteen HERE, Sixteen HERE, Seventeen HERE, Eighteen HERE, Nineteen HERE, Twenty HERE, Twenty-One HERE, Twenty-Two HERE, Twenty-Three HERE, Twenty-Four HERE, Twenty-Five HERE, Twenty-Six HERE
Copyright by J J Dewey
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