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A COURSE IN MIRACLES Chapter 8 The Journey Back

I: The Direction of the Curriculum

  1. Knowledge is not the motivation for learning this course. Peace is. This is a prerequisite for knowledge only because those who are in conflict are not peaceful, and peace is the condition of knowledge because it is the condition of the Kingdom. Knowledge can be restored only when you meet its conditions. This is not a bargain made by God, who makes no bargains. It is merely the result of your misuse of His laws on behalf of an imaginary will that is not His. Knowledge is His will. If you were opposing His will, how can you have knowledge?  I have told you what knowledge offers you, but perhaps you do not yet regard this as wholly desirable. If you did you would not be so ready to throw it away when the ego asks for your allegiance.
  2. The distractions of the ego may seem to interfere with your learning, but the ego has no power to distract you unless you give it the power to do so. The ego’s voice is a hallucination. You cannot expect the ego to say, “I am not real.” Yet you are not asked to dispel your hallucinations alone.  You were merely asked to evaluate them in terms of their results to you. If you do not want them on the basis of loss of peace, they will be removed from your mind for you.
  3. Every response to the ego is a call to war, and war deprives you of peace. Yet in this war there is no opponent. This is the reinterpretation of reality that you must make to secure peace, and the only one you need ever make. Those whom you perceive as opponents are part of your peace, which you are giving up by attacking them.  How can you have what you give up? You share to have, but you do not give it up yourself. When you give up peace, you are excluding yourself from it. This is a condition so alien to the Kingdom that you cannot understand the state that prevails within it.
  4. Your past learning must have taught you the wrong things, simply because it has not made you happy. On this basis alone its value should be questioned. If learning aims at change, and that is always a purpose, are you satisfied with the changes your learning has brought you? Dissatisfaction with learning outcomes is a sign of learning failure, since you did not get what you wanted.
  5. The curriculum of the atonement is the opposite of the curriculum you have established for yourself, but so is its outcome. If the outcome of yours has made you unhappy, and if you want a different one, a change in the curriculum is obviously necessary. The first change to be introduced is a change in direction. A meaningful curriculum cannot be inconsistent. If it has two teachers, each believing and teaching diametrically opposed ideas, it cannot be integrated. If it is carried out by these two teachers simultaneously, each one merely interferes with the other.  This leads to fluctuation, but not to change. The volatile have no direction. They cannot choose one because they cannot relinquish the other, even if it does not exist. Their conflicted curriculum teaches them that all directions exist and gives them no rationale for choice.
  6. The total senselessness of such a curriculum must be fully recognized before a real change in direction becomes possible. You cannot learn simultaneously from two teachers who are in total disagreement about everything. Their joint curriculum presents an impossible learning task. They are teaching you entirely different things in entirely different ways, which might be possible except that both are teaching you about yourself. Your reality is unaffected by both, but if you listen to both, your mind will be split about what your reality is.[1]

Today as we come to our devotional practice, let us be still and in that stillness, ask for peace.  For we can only know God when our minds are in peace.  Peace is established where there is no conflict.  As we come to our holy practice today, ask Holy Spirit to reveal any allegiance that you may have to the teachings of the ego, to its opposition to love and peace and joy, and ask Him to help you make the choice for peace.  The direction of this course is to teach us the state of peace which is required to know God, to be restored to our original state, to stop misusing the laws of God for that which amounts to zilch. 

We live in a state of entrancement.  Jesus does not expect us to deliver ourselves from the hellish realm where what is real seems imaginary and what is fiction seems real.  The ego is not going to expose itself or its mass delusions.  However, Jesus does expect us to evaluate them, to ask what the result is for following the rest of the world into the multitude of paths that seem promising at the outset but always result in sorrow, suffering, and sacrifice.  If we lose our peace, if what the world teaches us leads us to conflict, distress, worries, and loss, Jesus promises us that all of this will be removed from our minds for us.  The ego has no real power over us except the belief in it that we give it. 

Carefully read and meditate upon paragraph three, for Jesus tells us that every response to the ego is a call to war, and war keeps us from knowing God.  Ask Holy Spirit to reveal how you are choosing war over peace in your response to yourself and others, to the world, and to all of Creation.  Ask Holy Spirit to show you how when we perceive others as anything but equals in God’s Kingdom, we are responding to the ego and we have made a call to war.  Do not deceive yourself that you are on the side of what is right and so it is not a call to war to call someone a racist, a sexist, or a hypocrite.  Do not deceive yourself about peace when you are willing that others are cast into a lake of fire if they do not look like you, believe like you do, or go to the same religious institutions that you do.  Having peace, knowing peace, and being peace means that we have no enemies, that God has no enemies, and that our reality can never be found in this realm for it is a lie, an illusion, a result of misusing our inheritance and building a fictional kingdom that has lost the meaning of peace. 

This Course teaches us that those we perceive as opposing us are part of our peace, and if we respond to them in any form of attack, we give up our peace.  We cannot have what we give up, dear brothers.  We cannot call names, say nasty things, remind people of their wrongdoings, or demand that a world built on lies, on strife, on that which opposes love, peace, and joy give us what only belongs to and can be found in God and His Kingdom.  The only way to respond to any call for opposition is not to give up our peace, but to share it!  We are Sons of God, created for God’s Kingdom and by God’s Kingdom.  To make this more real to us, let us say we are Sons of Peace, we are Sons of Love, we are sons of Joy and our true Kingdom is one of Peace, of Love, of Joy.  This other thing we have going on here is alien to our true kingdom, it is alien to our very selves.  Losing peace then is losing our sense of what we are – it throws us into a state of not only conflict, but confusion, distress, and unhappiness. 

If our learning in the world, including our religious doctrines and texts, has not made us happy, Jesus asks us to question the value of what we have learned based upon our unhappiness alone.  What does it profit us to learn the books of the bible, the names of the prophets, the prophecies and the curses, the list of dos and the list of don’ts, if our learning disheartens us?  Knowing all that may make us feel special, give us an elevated sense of importance, entitling us to think of ourselves as more than others, but does it bring us joy?  And if it does not bring us joy, how can we share joy?  And if we cannot share joy, what are we sharing?  Go beyond your fear of punishment, displeasing an ego-made god, or being tormented in hell forever.  Ask yourself these questions in all sincerity and in your longing for truth.

Learning aims at making a change.  Are we happy with the changes our learning has brought us?  If the answer is no, we did not get what we really wanted or needed. 

The outcome of Atonement curriculum is different from the curriculums offered by the world.  If what I have chased after in the world has made me unhappy, has filled me with sorrow, has taught me of inequality, injustice, needless battles, abuse, and violence and I want something else, I have to choose something that teaches me that which fills me with joy, I want to learn what takes me to equality, to mutuality, to fellowship and fun, to getting along and supporting one another, to going in the direction of love and peace and all that brings warmth and goodness. 

To teach me anything that can be built upon, I must have one consistent teacher, not two conflicting ones.  If I learn that I am a flesh and blood creature prone to do evil from one teacher and I learn that I am a spirit and a perfect Son of God from the other, I will not know what I am!  Everything I learn from one teacher will be contradicted by the other.  One day I will do that which honors Sonship, the next I will dishonor it by believing I am little more than a beast, driven by my passions and my id.   Our traditional religious texts teach from this contradictory curriculum – and we are not only confused, but ashamed for we learn of a volatile God who cannot control His temper, holds everlasting grudges against His own Creations; and preens Himself upon praise and worship from His groveling underlings.  

The absurdity of such curriculums must be addressed before any of us can make a real change in direction.  We must go beyond our loyalty to our ancestral traditions, our fear in the curses attached to our religions, our ignorant hopes that we can make it out of here and leave the rest of the ninnies behind and never have to think about them again.  If we want to know God, if we want truth we must come in peace with no conflict.  It is important to note that no matter what curriculum we choose, our reality as God’s Son is not changed, but our minds will be divided, and we will not know ourselves as God’s Son.  We will still be confused about our identity. Sometimes we will extend love, peace, and joy, other days we will project what opposes love, peace, and joy.  We will still be unstable and uncertain.  Only when we become fully aligned with Holy Spirit’s curriculum, can we become teachers of the peace that leads to God. 


[1] A Course in Miracles. Chapter 8 The journey back. I The direction of the curriculum. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).

For 2021 daily Workbook lessons visit www.i-choose-love.com courtesy of Linda R.

Audio credit: www.eckiefriar.com

Filed under: ACIM

About the Author

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Coming up on sixty, my love for God, home and hearth, my husband and family fueled my decision to devote the rest of my life only to pursuits which brought love, joy, peace, and purpose. I am a writer, seeker, student, and teacher with experience professional and otherwise from waitressing to teaching the English language in China, Taiwan, and Singapore. I hold a BA in Psychology from Bloomsburg University, which took nearly 30 years to attain while I squeezed courses in between raising my children, journaling, relationships, work, and an assortment of escapades, some of which I would rather forget! An ongoing passion for reading, writing, adventure, food, and fun, eventually led me to the love of my life, James, whom I met in 1996 and married in 1997. Our life together has been an exciting journey of work and travel, spiritual awakening, and domestic bliss ever since. Although we have experienced the tragic loss of family members and friends through death and estrangement, we have managed to turn our special relationship into a holy one by the grace of God and an acute and growing awareness of “there must be a better way!” In 2006, I published my first novel, Luella’s Calling, and am currently working on my second, Grover Good and the Stone Chateau. From 2013 through 2018, I worked as a Prevention Education Specialist for Transitions, a local domestic violence sexual abuse victim’s service agency. My work there, fueled by a lifelong enthusiasm for teaching, led me to obtain an MS in Education from Scranton University. In 2018, I resigned to accompany James on his work travels while focusing on my calling to study and teach A Course in Miracles. To that end, I dedicate the rest of my days to writing, sharing, and teaching the message of salvation found within the Course pages. Thank you for your interest in this blog. As I do not respond to comments on the posts, if you care to contact me, please email me at eckief@yahoo.com.

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