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Deepest and most profound book I've ever read
on January 2, 2011
11/28/2012: revised to reduce annoying CAPS, and add explanatory notes
This is the deepest and most profound book I've ever read. And I have a ridiculously large collection of books.
It also contains breathtaking concepts, that resonate with the simple, ironic beauty characteristic of profound universal truth. Even the physicists, cosmologists, mathematicians have remarked they use the same criteria of beauty and elegance as a helpful evaluation to help vet new candidate laws of nature.
ACIM presents spiritual truths so concise and raw, so pure, that one must often spend days or weeks (or more) studying + praying + meditating upon a single passage. Then one may begin to achieve first insights into a passage, and begin to apply it directly to one's life. With insight revealed by each passage, you'll become more and more aware of the miraculous spiritual world which is true life (all else being false dream).
This book DOES teach miracles. I will offer you an example.
In everyday life you cross paths with countless strangers. Many you meet for a moment, and never again. For example, you'll exchange a few casual words of courtesy with the grocery store cashier, as your items are rung up. Somehow it became "normal" to view such interactions as inconsequential; most of us eventually became a bit numb to the souls around us. We don't notice their spiritual and emotional needs. We forgot how to truly see others and to love.
Haven't we had enough of "normal" mundane existence!
Let's now re-imagine our "inconsequential" daily interactions in a new, deeply spiritual and profound way, transforming these interactions into most consequential miracles.
That cashier ringing up your groceries may be quite happy - OR she might be hiding severe depression which has her that very moment thinking about how she'll commit suicide later that evening after work. Her soul may be in that much pain. She needs a miracle encounter, and without it she'll be dead later that evening.
First, you understand you can never personally "make" miracles happen. Miracles are never under your command. You can only ready your consciousness through purification, making yourself a willing channel / vehicle through which God performs miracles.
We start by caring, extending that care even to random "strangers" we encounter. We open our heart and hold precious a deep concern for the well-being (and advancement) of other souls. That spiritual intent awakens one to sense the pain in other souls, even when hidden under many layers. Meditation & prayer, tools of spiritual purification awaken us to see the true beauty and purity of other souls, even when they themselves do not see it, even when others may perceive them as "unattractive" in appearance or personality.
This book teaches how to be a willing channel through which miracles can be worked (and that is only one aspect of the overall spiritual development the book cultivates). This is fundamentally NOT an intellectual exercise of reading a concept, memorizing, analyzing it logically, and then thinking that rote approach will turn you into a "miracle worker" It doesn't work that way. This is a non-rational, non-intellectual, non-linear workshop for your soul, a process for which intellectually reading each sentence is only the very first step. Next comes convulsions of prayer and meditation in which you humbly surrender, quieting your ego and will, and pleading God to fill you, and to reveal the meaning of the passage to your heart. You may find yourself on the floor in tears, out of spiritual longing to know God, or at least to know the spiritual meaning a sentence. Beyond saying that, the process is intensely personal, and beyond words' ability to describe it.
CLARIFICATION: some reading this have misunderstood why I've described a helpful mindset (or heartset) for approaching God as a humbly begging and pleading for God's intervention.
I'm not implying God is an anthropomorphic Being who ignores you until you've prostrated yourself sufficiently and only then grants you mercy. Always remember ACIM concepts are death to your ego (ego being nothing anyway) so the ego always wants to "hijack" your spiritual process, stalling it. A humble admission that your ego and will are useless to your spiritual growth, and your resignation, entreating God to intervene, is a prerequisite (along with meditation) to quiet your ego, preventing it hijacking the process. We willfully walked away (from God's love) long ago. We forgot the path back. The ego depends upon keeping the path forgotten, avoiding the path back. We must humbly beg God to be shown the path back. It is the only Way.
A helpful suggestion is to use each sentence in ACIM as a meditation, where pondering a concept will often bubble up to your conciousness, to your heart, your longing to again know God's love. It is very good thing to reawaken how much we long to know God; immediately let that sacred longing move you to directly entreat God in personal prayer, speaking to God that your paramount desire is no longer some ACIM sentence, BUT INSTEAD YOU CARE ONLY TO ONCE AGAIN KNOW AND FEEL GOD'S LOVE! Nothing else matters. That is a purity of prayer and intent. Trust me: that is the most direct path, because true knowing of the ACIM concepts is a natural outcome (biproduct) of direct movement of your Consciousness back to God.
Does God see us, perceive us walking a path back to God? No! God knows no separation from anything. ACIM devotee's with egos that have hijacked their spiritual process, are often heard making attack remarks to others such as: "You DON'T need to walk back to God; you're already there! Stop praying TO God. You're already ONE WITH God!"
We must start with honesty about where we are: in our ego consciousness we view ourselves as separate from God. You cannot short-cut the spiritual work of unwinding that by tritely remarking "OK, I'm ONE with God now...well because I've said that I am."
How many steps are needed to gently reveal to the pysche the blinding purity of God's love that we turned away from, and then subequently forgot to avoid remembering that unbearable loss? It can be done in one step; you just have to miss God's love so much that you'll let fall away the entire complex structure of your identity as you now know it, including ego and will, all in one convulsive step! I think you get my point. In most cases, we resign to walk back to God in our hearts, step-by-step with God's help, progressively shedding, deconstructing our ego, our identity, our self-determined will, each step of the way.
Let's return to our example involving the cashier.
God KNOWS the precise sentiment and the exact few words you must communicate to that cashier, in order to miraculously lift her soul and prevent her suicide. This will not merely prevent her suicide that evening, but will transform her life in a matter of a few seconds. She will forever think of herself on a higher level, more clearly seeing her own spiritual perfection, and that will change her life. That is the miracle! And it is reciprocal: our soul is lifted as we help others.
Your heart is open, allowing you to sense the pain of another soul, in this case a total stranger ringing out your groceries. You have made yourself ready for this moment through prayer, meditation, and reading ACIM.
You see the cashier with spiritual seeing, as one looks at a beautiful sunset, meditatively. You don't see his or her "depression." Instead you see perfect, precious Spirit; that is, you see absolute truth about the angelic nature of another, and God can help you let that person see that in your eyes, in your soul!
In the moment of your love, and your deep willingness to help, your mind clears as you wait fearlessly for God to work a miracle through you. And God does.
You'll hear sentences come out of your mouth that you did not intellectually formulate from any ego or logic-driven process. You'll understand those words came from Above. Those sentences were so perfectly matched to meet the needs of the soul of that cashier in that moment, you could not possibly have originated those words in your intellect. Often the words will even reference secret events or feelings in the life of the stranger that you have no prior knowledge of!
The reaction of that person to those spontaneous words will be most amazing, because that person is stunned to see and feel that you (a total stranger) has out of LOVE, looked into the hidden recesses of their heart and soul, and - despite seeing their secret pain - has instead seen their true angelic beauty shimmering like a million stars!
Often the total stranger will immediately burst into the happiest of tears of joy. They may look up at you with tears streaming down their face, but with their face glowing with a huge, happy smile, as if you've just saved their life and they are eternally grateful. And in some cases you may have in fact saved their life, preventing a suicide. However, all the work was by God, acting through you.
You may find yourself spontaneously embracing that person with a warm hug and sharing their tears of joy - all done with countless strangers watching on, perplexed by it.
Then you walk out of the store. The miracle has happened and you know it will work spiritual power in the life of that person blessed by it.
Now it often happens, not always, but sometimes, you'll encounter that same person many years later. Twenty years later you might be running an errand or whatever, and suddenly a "stranger" walks up to you and looks at you lovingly as if you are a long-lost sibling, and says with heartfelt intensity:
"Long ago, you saved my life by speaking a few words to me in a grocery store! I could NEVER forget you! Thank you!"
And of course you remember and recognize that person; impossible to forget a miracle!
If you understand that example, and you have started to understand what is inside this most miraculous book.
NOTE: this review is NOT intended to suggest I understand most of what is in ACIM, or have in any sense "completed" the spiritual workshop that the Course is. Very optimistically, maybe I "understand" (intellectually) say 5% of the sentences in this book, and maybe (who knows) I've managed to start applying maybe 1% of the book into my daily life. And that's a lot. And that little is life-transforming. This is the kind of book you work with for multiple lifetimes. I'm not sure the concept of "completing" even applies to this book!