The Meditation of The Self
This site describes my teaching of A Course in Miracles, a contemporary, non-dual/mystical spiritual philosophy and practice stated in Christian language. The Course is a modern version of the ancient spiritual tradition sometimes called the “Perennial Philosophy” – that which has come down through the ages, in all cultures, as the source and driving force in all the world’s great spiritual paths. Though sometimes obscured by formal structures or culture, it always remerges, as it is the internal recognition of the truth of Reality, Existence, and one’s own True Self, and thus is always available to any who seek it, whatever their culture or tradition.
I have taught classes in the Course for nearly five decades in the Research Triangle in North Carolina, home to the oldest continuous Course community in the world. While I have worked with many hundreds of people in classes and individually, I have avoided publicizing my teaching, choosing to work only with those who found my classes. This was both a desire to avoid self-promotion, as well as feeling that I was still learning both the Course and how to teach.
In recent years however, in seeing videos and websites sent to me by students, past and present, I began to see a pattern of the Course’s teaching on perception, central to its message, often being minimized in favor of the more familiar (and equally central) topic of forgiveness.
This is not surprising, as the Course’s view of perception is highly counter-intuitive, difficult to communicate, and even harder to internalize (and often seems to be simply a means to explain the focus on forgiveness). However, there is at least twice as much material in the Course on perception and its related issues (projection, illusion, vision, the Real World, etc.) as there is on forgiveness and its corollaries (judgment, guilt, attack, special relationships, atonement, etc.).
Further, the perception related issues, though found throughout the Course, are heavily focused in the early sections of both the Text and the Workbook, with strong admonitions early in both the Text and the Workbook introduction, to pay special attention to learning this early material.
The nature of perception and how it enables a false sense of separation is a central focus of the way I teach. Drawing from my own early teachers in Eastern non-dual and Christian mystical traditions, as well as my formal education and later research in the cognitive science of human perception, I have, over the years evolved some unique conceptual strategies and visual tools for understanding of how perception works, how completely we misunderstand it, how it so powerfully reinforces our sense of separation (the one thing the Course says we need to change), and finally, once this conflict is seen clearly, how we can “shift our perception,” and explain why so much of the Course’s teaching rests on training us to “shift our perception.”
After a powerful experience greatly deepened my own search for Truth during college, I switched my studies from theoretical physics to the emerging cognitive (brain/mind) sciences and focused on the study of human perception, a study I have maintained ever since. I was fortunate to be exposed to the earliest theory and research on a view of perception that, in the past two decades has become the default position in perception theory and research.
There are a number of competing models for how perception works in the brain, but the increasingly dominant position is that our perception of the world is simply (in a phrase widely used in the field) “our brain’s best guess,” based largely on our past multi-sensory experience.
My reticence in promoting my teaching has stemmed both from a desire to avoid self-promotion, and from my feeling that I have been still learning both the Course and how to teach. Though the Course comes with a “Teacher’s Manual”, it is more a distillation and elaboration of central Course concepts, and a description of the evolution of the qualities and characteristics of a teacher. As a number of “enlightened” or “awakened” teachers have said, “awakening doesn’t come with a teacher’s manual.”
The Course is rooted in Absolute Oneness, but it says this can neither be taught nor learned. Neither can the other “absolutes” such as God, Love or Truth. But they cannot be “experienced” either, as experience implies a perceiver and a perceived, a subject and an object, which is a denial of Absolute Oneness.
From the perspective of this Absolute Oneness, the Course, like the ancient non-dual traditions of which it is a part, teaches that the fundamental nature or substrate of the universe is not energy, space, or matter, but mind. And the entire observable universe, every star, planet, body, molecule and atom, and the spaces and energies between them, are all images in this great mind.
Thus, like a dream, the universe and everything within it, including us, are all in this great mind. This is the origin and actual meaning of the often repeated, but seldom realized phrase, that We Are All One! Or even more inclusively, All is One, or even All is God.
But for various reasons, which the Course goes into in great detail, we are actually afraid of this oneness, and so in a sort of mental trick, we project the images, which are actually a part of the great mind which we all are, out into an imagined “physical” space, making everything and everyone, seem separate from us.
But the real trick (which we are playing on ourselves) is that this sense of separation, as the Course explains in equally great detail, is actually the root of all our suffering. To think of ourselves as a body, a bit of the dust of the Earth, a tiny pebble in a vast unfathomable universe is to inherently be afraid. And from this fear/separation come all the experiences of separation. Fear breeds defensiveness, judgment, attack, shame, doubt and at its root, fear of death.
While, the process of stripping away the barriers to Truth allows our true mind (Christ Mind, One Mind, Holy Spirit, Voice for God) to speak through us more clearly; the tools and strategies of communicating this with others (which all spiritual teachers use) are learned by experience, as modified by your own path.
A third reason for not “putting myself out there,” as a number of students have suggested for years, was that since there are many people, some very high profile, teaching, writing and giving seminars on the Course to many people, I did not see a compelling reason to add to the mix, especially as my approach to teaching is a bit different from many. In the end this was the final compelling reason for launching this site.
Over the past few years, several students, past and present, have sent me videos of various teachers and students giving overviews of the Course. At first this confirmed my feeling that there were plenty of folks representing the Course and therefore there was little need for me to add to it on a larger scale than what I have been doing for decades. Indeed, it seemed more like it was just my own hubris that I had something valuable to add.
But then I began to notice that the Course’s teaching on perception, central to its entire message was often glossed over quickly in favor of the more familiar, and certainly equally central, issues of forgiveness, guilt, judgment, attack and atonement. In many cases it was even misrepresented, which is not surprising, as it is one of the more difficult parts of the Course to grasp. And once grasped, curiously, it is not easily retained, making it difficult to communicate.
As I look back on my earliest days of teaching, I sometimes cringe at some of the things I said or the ways I said them. It is my sincere hope that my years of practice with so many people from very different backgrounds, attitudes and ideas as well as their own spiritual processes and experiences, has stripped away some of my roughest edges and brought to my teaching a purer and more direct approach. The Course is adamant about the fact that we all teach what is real to us, and that we learn by teaching. I can attest to this from my own experience.
Having been on a spiritual search since I was a teenager, and my first sense of “calling” to the path in college, I explored first through traditional Christianity and then Vedanta, Buddhism, and finally I found a little-known mystical Christian order, becoming their student for several years. They also trained me to teach a version of mystical Christianity that was so close to the Course, that when the first books suddenly dropped into the Triangle in 1976, I began teaching it almost immediately.
When my time with the Order was complete, I began, with the Order’s blessing, teaching a class of my own creation, which I called, “The Meditation of the Self.” When, shortly after I began, the Course (literally!) dropped into my hands, I walked into class and simply said, “Oh, by the way, we now have a textbook.” Thus began my teaching of the Course.