I don't think there is any set way to approach this book. As you read, I think you will see what I mean. There are a number of repeating themes throughout the book that build an understanding on a number of different concepts at once. I've been reading the text and the workbook at the same time, as the two seem to work on different levels. The workbook tends to be more experiential and immediate, focusing on specific ideas within each lesson. The text is pretty expansive and difficult to understand at times, yet I've found that as I just plow ahead the more difficult parts become clear as I begin to grasp all of what is revealed here. The workbook helps me to understand the text, so I find they are complimentary.
To answer your question more specifically, the text and the workbook teach the same material, but are each very different approaches. Many people focus on one or the other and I'm sure that works fine. My feeling is that the workbook builds on each successive lesson, so you would start at the beginning and work your way through. The text doesn't seem to be structured in quite that way. The chapters each kind of stand on their own as units and I tend to read a chapter at a sitting and then just let that sink in for a while.
I'm sure there will be a range of opionions on this! Just my thoughts here...
Thanks so much for your response, Roland. My question was exactly the same as Betty's, and I couldn't find a good answer anywhere! I'm sure there are many people starting out with this course who aren't sure of how to proceed, just like we two.
I'll just throw in my ideas here ... I'm going to be starting my third year of studying ACIM on January 1 and I really don't think I could have gotten as much as I have gotten from this study without my wonderful study group. What we've done over the past 2 years is read a portion of the text each day and the workbook lesson for the day each day. The first year we actually read through the text twice in one year (and re-read it once a week when we got together) but this coming year we've set up a reading schedule which we'll review when we get together on Tuesday nights. For a really great calendar check out http://www.circleofa.org/study/calendar.php. January 2007 is there, but it's not updated for the rest of the year yet. That will give you a great guide for reading in manageable chunks.
I do a lesson a day, and read some of the text each day. The first time through, it took me more than a year to finish the text, because I was only reading a page or so a day. Now I am starting over again the same way, and it does help to read it all again, I definitely understand it better now and see things I missed the first time. It is not required to read the books in any particular order, however I would suggest to start the daily exercises as soon as possible first. If the initial lessons make you uncomfortable, read though the lesson titles and skim through the next few lessons and you will start to see where they are heading. Then do each lesson as best you can, and don't worry if you forget or miss or don't get to all the practice periods for each lesson. If you forgot what your last lesson was about, review it just before you start the next. Just do the best you can and move on, a lesson a day.
I humbly suggest that any who would come to this page to seek the answer to the question here placed might choose to go to the last question in the Manual for Teachers, numbered 29, and entitled "As for the rest..." and read what has been placed there for you. The author of the Course makes a suggestion which echoes what has already been stated here. It seems as if all Truth is written within the very pages of the book. In peace and with blessings.
Start with the daily lessons. They teach you that you create your own reality. Eventually you'll find out, that the "you" is your ego. The text itself (Volume 1) hammers the ego as something that is not real and only wants to dominate you. Which is true. Read the first chapter of the Text, as it contains great insight.
Betty, I'm not sure if you're even following these posts anymore, or whether you care. (But maybe someone will.) You can find a calendar of readings here: http://www.circleofa.org/study/calendar.php, for the workbook and the text that will get you through both in one year. It began on 1 January 2009, but it can be adapted for whatever time period you choose. Just thought you should know. Peace.
I don't think I would have really gotten what I have out of the Course had it not been for reading the text and doing the workbook lessons alongside the teachings (books and lectures) of Kenneth Wapnick and Robert Draper, both affiliated with the Foundation for A Course in Miracles in Southern California. Right now I'm reading Wapnick's "Journey through the Workbook" and attending Draper's weekly reading and discussion of 5 pages of text per week. I feel like I'm able to go much more deeper in my understanding of the Course with their help than if I was reading it totally by itself.