Bob Rosenthal's review of A Course of Love


Dr. Bob Rosenthal, a psychiatrist, was one of the earliest students of A Course in Miracles, a close friend of Dr. William Thetford, (the co-scribe of the Course) and is a member of the Board of Directors of The Foundation for Inner Peace, publishers of the Course. The review below, reprinted with permission, was first written at Amazon. I completely agree with what it has to say. For more info on Bob and his excellent book, From Plagues to Miracles, please go to
http://www.fromplaguestomiracles.com/


I have vacillated for months about whether or not to review this book. As a longstanding student of A Course in Miracles (ACIM), a personal friend of one of its scribes, a board member of the foundation that publishes ACIM, and the author of a book that reinterprets the story of Exodus through the lens of ACIM From Plagues to Miracles: The Transformational Journey of Exodus, from the Slavery of Ego to the Promised Land of Spirit, I was intrigued by this book’s claims to extend ACIM’s teachings and to do so in a more accessible manner. So I bought the book and began to read.

Standing on its own, A Course of Love (ACOL) is a fine work with much to offer its readers. It is well-written, in a style similar to that of many other channeled works (although I found the voice to be nothing like that of ACIM, falling short in both its revelatory power and its beauty). But here’s the problem: ACOL does not stand on its own. It positions itself as a “continuation of the coursework provided in A Course in Miracles.” That is in fact its selling point. When we compare the two teachings, however, ACOL turns out not to be an extension of the principles of ACIM, but rather a simplification and retreat from those principles. It might serve as a good primer for those still too threatened by the radical non-dual worldview of ACIM, or for those with no interest in ACIM. But for students of the Course, it offers more confusion than clarity. I am frankly puzzled by the reception it has garnered in some corners of the ACIM community and it is this that has prompted me to post such a detailed review. I feel it is imperative for novice students to understand the significant differences between these two spiritual works, which I’ll attempt to elucidate below.

The foreword to ACOL states that it “emphasizes ‘being who you are’ in a way that does not negate the personal self or the body. It reveals how the human form can be transformed into ‘the elevated Self of form,’ and how an illusory world will be made ‘new’—divine—through relationship and unity.” This is not an extension of the non-dual teaching of ACIM, but a regression back into duality. ACIM teaches that the individual self with which we’ve identified—housed in a body and doomed to die—is an illusion, a dream of separation, which it is our task to heal through forgiveness and vision that sees not the body, personality or past history of our brothers and sisters, but the oneness that shines from behind and beyond them. It is only this Oneness of Love—of God and God’s Creations—that truly exists. This is the only reality that ever was or will be. It lives outside of linear time and has no connection with the ego’s illusory world of form and bodies. (Except that it is reflected here; illusion lacks the power to banish or hide Truth entirely.) If ACOL manages then not to “negate the personal self or the body” and to somehow remake the illusory world into something new and desirable, then despite its claims to the contrary, it is not a non-dual system. This has its appeal. It is certainly more comfortable and less threatening to us, because it does not challenge the sense of self with which we’ve all grown familiar. It lets us continue to live our lives as if we were egos and bodies, with the reassurance that this is perfectly okay, that we can still find redemption as such. But this view is contrary to ACIM, which would in fact regard it as a profound obstacle to awakening.

ACOL states, “The Christ in you is wholly human and wholly divine…. It is this joining of the human and divine that ushers in love’s presence…. It is this joining of the human and divine that is your purpose here (5.1).” This too is contrary to ACIM. We may use the human to teach that mind is the only reality and that all mind is one (i.e. minds are joined through the process of forgiveness), but in order to reveal love’s presence we must remove the obstacles to its awareness—namely, our desire to be special beings, separate from God and from each other—and not by “joining the human and divine” (which is not even possible according to ACIM).

ACOL maintains that “God is union” and “God creates all relationship (5.1)”; also that “Reality, the truly real, is relationship (6.1).” It elevates relationship and union to the level of God. ACIM does not support this; the “truly real” is God and only God. After all, oneness and union are not identical, nor are oneness and relationship. Relationship and union both imply separate entities interrelated or linked together, or united completely. Relationship may be the vehicle for achieving oneness, but it is not oneness itself, nor, according to ACIM, did God create it, as God creates only wholeness.

To be fair, there is also much in ACOL that is completely in line with ACIM, such as “Your mind is not contained within your body but is one with God and shared equally with all alike (6.2).” Or “Judgment is the function the separated mind has given itself (16.7).” I suspect this is why ACOL appeals to some ACIM students. But it’s also why I would not recommend ACOL to students of ACIM. Unless you’ve studied and practiced ACIM for years, ACOL will likely confuse you. Truth mixed with half-Truth does not equal greater Truth. Rather, it dilutes and muddies the teaching until what you’re left with is no longer pure, no longer truth.

ACOL, in its attempt to preserve some value for the individual self and body, some purpose other than fully awakening from the dream of separation, commits the error of what ACIM calls “bringing Truth to illusion.” ACIM’s goal is the opposite—to bring illusions to Truth, where they disappear. To quote ACIM: “There is no part of Heaven [Truth] you can take and weave into illusions. Nor is there one illusion you can enter Heaven with (T-22.II.8:1-2).” Our task is to learn to recognize that the world we see offers nothing of lasting value; that every aspect of this illusory dream-world of form will hurt us and block us from awakening to our true radiant Self, at one with God and Love.

The Amazon description for A Course of Love promises that “ACIM and ACOL are complementary. The same Voice, more accessible. The same thought system, expanded.” But looked at honestly, this is not the case. Neither the voice nor the thought system really mirror that of ACIM. On the other hand, any teaching that encourages us to look with love upon the world, to suspend judgment, and to value relationship over individual endeavor is worthy of study and dissemination. I only wish the author and publisher had not felt the need to promote their book on the back of ACIM.