In teaching the Course, we follow the approach of the Circle of Atonement, outlined below
THE CIRCLE OF ATONEMENT’S APPROACH TO A COURSE IN MIRACLES
The Circle takes a unique approach to A Course in Miracles, one that seeks to honor the tremendous breadth of a course, which includes radical, mind-expanding ideas as well as detailed instructions for practical application. This approach is grounded in long and close study of the Course itself and has been tested in the lab of personal experience. Here is a brief description of it.
The foundation of our entire approach is the attempt to be completely faithful to what the Course says. The Course claims that it “is perfectly clear” (T-11.VI.3:1) and “means exactly what it says” (T-8.IX.8:1), and we accept these claims. We therefore take it at its word, apart from obvious metaphors (which are a small portion of its writing). Doing so reveals that the Course is not just giving teachings, but also instructing us in how to apply those teachings. Taking the Course at its word is not always comfortable, but this is where the real benefits come from-the peace, the joy, and the miracles.
Jesus: the author
We accept the Course’s claim that it was authored by Jesus through a human scribe. We believe that as a man, Jesus fully awoke to reality, and thereby gained a unique perspective on the process of awakening. We believe that he expressed this perspective in the sayings and parables in the gospels that are authentically from him, and that he has expressed it again, in a more thorough and contemporary form, in A Course in Miracles. This is why the Course carries so much authority for us. By following it, we believe we are following Jesus.
The Course as a path
The Course characterizes itself not as a series of ideas, but as a course-a path. It wants to take its students far-all the way to complete salvation. And it claims to possess all the necessary tools for that. It specifically says about itself, “Nothing is lacking that is needed” (W-pI.42.7:2). What’s more, it urges those students who have embraced it as their path to treat it as such. This means practicing it alone, rather than mixing it with other paths: “You are not making use of the course if you insist on using means which have served others well, neglecting what was made foryou” (T-18.VII.6:5). Ideally, we are meant to walk this path under the care and guidance of a personal teacher or mentor. This is openly described in the Manual for Teachers (though, unfortunately, such teachers are not widely available as yet). The Course never describes itself as a self-study course.
Study of the Text
Doing the Course is really a process of internalizing its thought system. The foundation for this is study of the teachings, primarily the Text. As Jesus told his scribes: “You…should set yourself the goal of really studying for this course. There can be no doubt of the wisdom of this decision, for any student who wants to pass it.” As we study the Text, the ideas, which will eventually become our new thought system enter our awareness, where they are considered for the first time. Such study is not a superficial “head trip,” but a deep-level reconstruction of our worldview. How should we study the Course? We can boil its own counsel down to one sentence: Read slowly, carefully, even repeatedly, and think about what you read.
Practice of the Workbook
The second step in internalizing the Course’s thought system is practice of the Workbook, the Course’s training program in its method of spiritual practice. This practice mainly consists of repeating, dwelling on, and mentally applying the Course’s ideas. As the Text says, “The ideas are mighty forces, to be used and not held idly by” (T-16.II.9:5). As we practice them, these ideas sink in more deeply and become more fully our own. We are slowly training our minds “to think along the lines the text sets forth” (W-In.1:4). The Workbook is meant to be done as it says; it asks the student to follow its instructions “just as closely as you can” (W-pI.rIII.In.1:3). If you do, you will eventually no longer need the Workbook. Your practice will grow from an obligation into a way of life.
Extension as a teacher of God
The Manual for Teachers represents the final step in the process of internalizing the Course’s thought system. This final step is extending to others. Extension means conveying to others, with our thoughts, words, and deeds, the love and forgiveness that we studied in the Text and inwardly practiced in the Workbook. This extension, besides healing the other person, also reinforces that love and forgiveness in our own minds. Thus, as we devote our lives to extension, the Course’s thought system receives its final reinforcement for us. It becomes the sole lens through which we see, feel, and experience reality. At that point, we will have reached the goal of true perception.
Being a miracle worker
Being a course in miracles, the Course wants ultimately to teach us to be miracle workers, whose days are devoted to extending miracles to others. It calls this our function, and says that for each of us this function will take a special form tailored to our unique strengths. We are not meant to perform this function alone. We are asked to consult the Holy Spirit for all decisions relevant to it and we are also meant to collaborate with others. These are our holy relationship partners (holy relationships being another key feature of the Course’s path). Our special function may take the form of being a personal teacher to newer Course students, being a spiritual healer to those who are ill, being a psychotherapist, or any of countless other forms, many of which will not look spiritual at all. We perform our function by entering into holy encounters with those we serve, in which we both give forgiveness and receive it. It is in these holy encounters that we find our own salvation and play our part in the salvation of the world.