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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Course In Miracles Mysticism

A Course In Miracles Mysticism

By James Bean

Copyright October 2006

The Sufi poet-mystic Rumi once said: "Rise above thy mental horizon, 0 brave soul and listen to the call of Music coming from above." Often the difficulty spiritual seekers face is the very real danger of becoming stuck at one of the lower stages, or getting detoured somewhere along the way. One seemingly becomes unable to break free from the mental prison of one's own making, at the level of theoretical knowledge or belief, even though the original intent of the authors of countless sacred texts has been to guide us from doubt to faith, and from theoretical knowledge to our own direct, personal spiritual experience of the Divine, far beyond the realms of mind and matter. Living Schools of Spirituality, complete with living teachers and students, can be of great assistance to spiritual seekers as they are able to communicate spiritual guidance to their students about all the steps and stages necessary for the inward voyage of the soul on its way back to God. As one such living Master said to his students so very long ago: "What your own eyes cannot see, your human ears do not hear, your physical hands cannot feel, and what is inconceivable to the human mind --- that I will give you!" (The Gospel of Thomas --- Wisdom of the Twin, Lynn Bauman, White Cloud Press)

Mystic-souls can find a vast amount of inspiration and wisdom in the Hebrew scriptures, Quran, New Testament, Jainist Sutras, Gathas of Zoroaster, and countless other world scriptures or spiritual classics, and this can also include, A Course In Miracles.

Meditation in the Silence as a Way to Reach the Other Side of Silence (God)

Meditation in the Bible: "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46: 10) For centuries that has been a favorite passage of mystics, Quietists, Quakers, Gnostics, Beguines, Brethren of the Free Spirit, Cathars, and other lovers of the Beloved. An anonymous mystic of the Rhineland once described the process of contemplative meditation this way: "There is a speaking of God in the center of the soul where no creature can enter or speak, for only God lives there and only He speaks. God speaks there when the soul puts aside all thoughts and images of this creation, when she silences her powers and gains a vision into the foundation of her pure essence. In this pure and silent soul God the Father speaks and she hears His Voice." (Book of Spiritual Poverty) Or, as it says in that series of volumes known as, A Course In Miracles: "Listen in deep silence. Be very still and open your mind. Go past all the raucous shrieks and sick imaginings that cover your real thoughts and obscure your eternal link with God. Sink deep into the peace that waits for you beyond the frantic, riotous thoughts and sights and sounds of this insane world. You do not live here. We are trying to reach your real home. We are trying to reach the place where you are truly welcome. We are trying to reach God." (ACIM, Workbook For Students, from Lesson 49) Master Kirpal Singh described meditation in the silence as a literal Doorway or Portal to the Divine Realm of Spirit and Truth: "In silence the heart illumines; veil after veil is removed......The human body is the temple of God. He is waiting there for you. That is why I ask you to look within, with a longing in your heart and silence in your soul. God will reveal himself to you. You will find him --- no, see him ..... God is the Ocean of utmost and restful silence. So long as we cannot have this restful silence within us, the soul cannot listen to the Voice of silence arising out of the greatest depths of Silence. By following that Voice we can reach the Source and Fountainhead of the Great Silence called God and be blessed forever." (The Way of the Saints, Sant Bani Ashram, Sanbornton, New Hampshire)

Meditation is not a new concept in the Western world. It's been with us the entire time. Take this rather Hindu-sounding passage in an extra-canonical scripture composed 2,000 years ago known as the Acts of Peter for example: "Give ear; withdraw your souls from all that appears but is not truly real; close these eyes if yours, close your ears, withdraw from actions that are outwardly seen; and you shall know the reality of Christ and the whole secret of your salvation." (The Other Bible, Willis Barnstone, Harper Collins) In recent times the same inwardly-focused message was reintroduced to many through the volumes of, A Course In Miracles.

A Modern-day Gnostic Gospel

A Course in Miracles was "scribed" through a process of inner dictation, says Dr. Helen Schucman. According to ACIM.org: "A clinical and research psychologist and tenured Associate Professor of Medical Psychology, Schucman was assisted by Dr. William Thetford, her department head, who was also a tenured Professor of Medical Psychology at the Medical Center where they both worked. A Course in Miracles was first published in 1975." This Course consists of three volumes: the Text, Workbook for Students, and the Manuel For Teachers. There is a book I think of as a kind of "fourth volume" of the Course called, The Gifts of God, a book of devotional poetry authored by Helen Schucman, and, like the Course, is published by the Foundation For Inner Peace. I think of "the Course" as a kind of modern-day Gnostic gospel, a mystical text that serves to renew the contemplative message for many people, playing the same role of spiritual catalyst or inspiration as revelations from earlier centuries did, such as the Gospel of Mary Magdalene or the Book of Pistis Sophia (Faith-Wisdom). Note: A great book comparing the Course with Gnostic spirituality is, Love Does Not Condemn, by Kenneth Wapnick, Foundation For A Course In Miracles.

Seeing the Light Within --- Union With God by Contemplating His Light

George Fox, founder of the Quakers, once said, "The Light of God is within everyone". Mystics, past and present, have often described visions of divine Light beyond the darkness, visible to one who concentrates deeply, reaching "the Single Eye", the eye of the soul. Sometimes mystics describe the Light of the soul as like a brilliant, radiant sun. "There is Light within a person of Light, and it illuminates the entire cosmos." (Gospel of Thomas, in the Nag Hammadi Library found in Egypt) "The Light of one soul is equal to that of sixteen suns!" (Guru Kabir) Some have marveled how such a treasury of Light, a galaxy of souls, can remain so veiled by the human condition in realms of dark matter and overcast skies.

Yet, with another kind of sight we have the potential to discover: "There is a Light that this world cannot give.... This Light will attract you as nothing in this world can do. In shining peace within you is the perfect purity in which you were created. Fear not to look upon the lovely truth in you. Look past darkness to the holy place where you will see the Light." (Text, A Course In Miracles)

"Do not cease seeking day or night until you find the mysteries of the Kingdom of Light, which will purify you, make you into pure Light and lead you into the Kingdom of the Light." (Gnostic Book of Pistis Sophia)

Union With God by Contemplating His Sound --- A Melody from Far Beyond the World

"Listen, and see if you remember an Ancient Song you knew so long ago and held more dear than any melody you taught yourself to cherish since." (A Course In Miracles)

"Your Voice reminds me of an Ancient Song, it was forgotten. Now I hear it again, a Word I thought had been forever dead. (The Gifts of God)

"Homeless are they
Who would abide alone, apart from Me.
Yet would I call them home. My Voice I send
To sing in soundless places. Hear from Me
The Song a Father sings to you, His child;
A Melody from far beyond the world.
Step back and listen, for He comes to bless
And tell you that you are not comfortless

"I walk in stillness. Where my rest is set
Is Heaven. And the silence of the stars
Sings in a soundless circle. For the Song
Of Heaven is past hearing, and ascends
Beyond the tiny range the ear can catch,
And soars into a spaceless magnitude
Where Sound and silence meet in unity."
(Helen Schucman, The Gifts of God)

Divine Grace compassionately comes to the rescue of souls, busting into worlds of law, time and space. The Divine Light and Sound of the Spirit guides souls safely through the "wilderness" of various planes of creation, so that we may return to this Promised Land or Paradise, the Forgotten Eternal State that is our True Home.

The Soul Wrapped in Garments of Sleep

We are soul wearing a mind, wearing a body. Our true identity is not the body we happen to be wearing; our true identity is soul. We are the Observer, the one who sees the Light and hears the Sound. We are the Life emanating from the Place of Life that powers body and mind.

Repeating an affirmation that "I am free" is a noble beginning perhaps, but we must come to know the reality of this freedom. The goal of mysticism is for us to transcend all these "veils" of creation, bodies and subtle bodies, five senses, mind and matter, and know our Self as soul experientially via a daily spiritual practice (meditation). In our awareness we come to know the foundation of our pure essence. We discover that during our perceived exile in the labyrinth of separateness lost somewhere in time, Truth be told, we are soul and are already in heaven --- we never left! Where else would the soul, the child of the Father, be other than the soul-realm, the Place of Life? This is the Secret of Secrets.

Kabir says, "You have slept for millions of years. This morning, will you not wake?" Give birth to yourself in the womb of silence. Close your eyes, see and hear within, "rise above thy mental horizon", examine yourself, discover who you really are, know, come to be.

"Gone is the dream. Awake, My child, in love." (The Gifts of God)

"The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you; Don't go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want; don't go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don't go back to sleep." (Rumi, Sufi Master)

"Within a Radiance prepared for you
Before time was and far beyond its reach,
Be still and know.
(The Gifts of God)