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Does A Course in Miracles Teach Nihilism?

After A Course in Miracles Teaches Us Meaninglessness, Where Do We Go From Here?

AngelJesusWe received another great question from one of our blog readers (we will call her “Grace”) about the book A Course in Miracles. And she gave me permission to share her email with you and answer it here on the blog. Although she is not entirely asking whether A Course in Miracles teaches nihilism, her question has some flavor of that. And I’ve also had a lot of other people tell me that A Course in Miracles is consistent with nihilism and moral relativism.

For those who would like a working definition of nihilism by the way, this is what Merriam-Webster says: “a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths.”

The short answer is that A Course in Miracles is not consistent with nihilism or moral relativism so I thought this was a great opportunity to consult the ACTUAL TEXT of the book instead of whatever wishful thinking we might have about the book to answer Grace’s helpful question. Here’s what she writes:

Erika,

I like reading your posts because I find them challenging to my already existing beliefs and I love to explore ideas that challenge me. I’ve read A Course in Miracles and resonate with it, but the idea I took away from it was basically this was a holographic universe or illusion to the reality of Oneness. With that idea, how can anything in this illusion be good or bad? Is it not just set up as a sort of video game for people to have their own experiences, lessons and what not? I would think the core lesson is to learn that love and compassion is the answer to everything, but shouldn’t it be ok to achieve that via a multitude of different routes?

Curious about your thoughts…

- Grace

Hi Grace,

I feel delighted to hear that the posts are engaging you on a deep level. As you probably know, A Course in Miracles says: “To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold. Not one can be kept hidden and obscure but it will jeopardize your learning. No belief is neutral. Every one has the power to dictate each decision you make.”

And it is through questioning many of our most “assumed” values, of course, that I have come to the conclusions expressed in my recent articles about monogamy and eating meat.

Now your question has many layers, and you are correct that the Course in essence teaches that we are living in “a holographic universe or illusion to the reality of Oneness.” The Course does not use the word “hologram,” however it makes clear over and over again that everything we perceive is a projection of our beliefs, and that every part contains the whole and vice versa. Thus, if we want to change the world, we must change our minds. However, we are not changing our minds in isolation because we are One that All that Is. As such, “communication is salvation.” When we communicate with other minds that appear to be separate from our mind, we are actually transforming the global subconscious mind and moving toward a unified perspective. We are always really communicating with our One Self.

We cannot just “agree to disagree” because all that means is that we have failed to unify our seemingly separate minds with the One Mind. That’s why I am so focused on “stay in the conversation until consensus begins to emerge.” What I’m doing through public communication and also through EFT tapping (which is a way of reaching deep into the collective subconscious mind) is harmonizing parts of the subconscious mind that are not yet in alignment with the Will of God.

So then you ask, “With that idea, how can anything in this illusion be good or bad?”

lies about a course in miracles

My well-worn copy of A Course in Miracles

That is where some Course readers incorrectly devolve into nihilism. It is true that in the early lessons of the Course we are taught things like “Nothing I see means anything.” We are also taught that we must relinquish the “ego goals” that we have assigned to everything. This, however, is not a stopping point.

Some people interpret the “video game” aspect of the Course to mean that they can now be nihilists and attempt to “10 Biggest Lies We Tell Ourselves” and it “doesn’t matter if they eat meat” because it’s all meaningless anyway. None of that is consistent with the Course. If we kept those ego-self-serving and murderous beliefs, all we could possibly see in the hologram is a desolate world of killing and pain and death. And that clearly is not the goal here.

You are correct that the ultimate lesson of the Course is “the core lesson is to learn that love and compassion is the answer to everything.” So that lesson has not been learned if people are slaughtering pigs so they can eat bacon in the morning. That lesson has not been learned if people violate the Course’s guidance not to seek a special partner. That lesson has not been learned if others are excluded from our sexual “union.”

In one sense you are correct that everyone has different paths, yet those paths must ultimately converge. Some of us like me had to be confronted with our unethical behavior like eating meat a number of times before we became honest with ourselves. So in that sense my path on that issue took longer than it did for some of my friends like Steve Pavlina who became vegan way back in 1992. Yet ultimately everyone must give up eating meat and practicing monogamy because those practices violate the core lesson of love and compassion. The sooner we learn the lessons, the faster we get out of pain and into a constant state of joy.

And for those who think “death is part of life” or “monogamy can be justified,” as we talked about in an earlier article, those positions simply cannot be reconciled with the text of the book.

Over and over again, A Course in Miracles makes clear that Earth WILL be transformed into Heaven. And the ONLY way that can happen is for us to stop participating in practices that make Earth into HELL for anyone.

Some examples of the utopian vision of the Course, which is a prophecy that will be fulfilled:

“When you have looked on what seemed terrifying, and seen it change to sights of loveliness and peace; when you have looked on scenes of violence and death, and watched them change to quiet views of gardens under open skies, with clear, life-giving water running happily beside them in dancing brooks that never waste away; who need persuade you to accept the gift of vision?”

[Notice how violence and death are gone in the new vision – how can we keep the slaughter of animals then and ever possibly fulfill that graceful vision?]

“Love, too, would set a feast before you, on a table covered with a spotless cloth, set in a quiet garden where no sound but singing and a softly joyous whispering is ever heard. This is a feast that honors your holy relationship, and at which everyone is welcomed as an honored guest. And in a holy instant grace is said by everyone together, as they join in gentleness before the table of communion. And I will join you there, as long ago I promised and promise still. For in your new relationship am I made welcome. And where I am made welcome, there I am.”

[Notice how everyone is welcomed? how then can we keep exclusionary atomistic relationships that exclude everyone?]

“The holy instant is the miracle’s abiding place. From there, each one is born into this world as witness to a state of mind that has transcended conflict, and has reached to peace. It carries comfort from the place of peace into the battleground, and demonstrates that war has no effects. For all the hurt that war has sought to bring, the broken bodies and the shattered limbs, the screaming dying and the silent dead, are gently lifted up and comforted.”

[Notice how the broken bodies and shattered limbs are all corrected? How is that possible if we keep eating meat and fish? By continuing to be predators, we are keeping the belief in pain and death - so if we want the new world, we must let that practice and its entire belief system go ...]

So you see, it is true that the forgiven world is just a perception. However, it is not possible to see the forgiven world while holding on to the predatory and morally bankrupt beliefs of the “old” world. So our lives have to change. And while it is true we will all take a different path to get there, all of our paths will converge in a non-monogamous and non-meat-eating place called Truth.

#thinkforyourself

Grace, I hope that answers your question. And if it does not, please feel free to comment here on the blog (everyone else is welcome to do the same), because I could talk for hours and hours about this and cite dozens of passages from A Course in Miracles if need be … until we reach consensus :)

If you missed our earlier article about A Course in Miracles, catch it here:

How to Tell if Your “Guru” Is Lying to You (Even If You’re Totally Co-Dependent)

And if you missed our earlier articles about monogamy, check them out here:

The Quiet Desperation of Monogamy

Five Reasons Why Monogamy Is An Absolute Bar to World Peace

How Monogamy Is Like Racial Segregation

How Specialness Ruined Sex for Everyone

Saving the Planet One “Orgy” At A Time

Love,

Erika Awakening, Teaching People How to Create Everyday Miracles at TAPsmarter

Erika Awakening is one of the world’s foremost experts on eradicating limiting beliefs and living life on your own terms.

About the Author:

Erika Awakening is a Harvard Law School graduate and former practicing attorney. She left the rat race to become a location-independent entrepreneur, holistic life coach, blogger, speaker, healer, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT tapping) expert. Erika Awakening is one of the world's foremost experts on eradicating limiting beliefs and lifestyle design on your own terms. Learn more about Erika Awakening

If you liked this article, you will LOVE Erika's EFT tapping video products and coaching ... Get Started Now:

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Comments

  1. Mae says:

    Hi can I join this site?

  2. Brenda says:

    ACIM, like all religious or spiritual viewpoints, will be interpreted through the current filters of both individual and collective consciousness. Those who already feel tremendous guilt for eating animals or who cannot see past the superficial definitions of monogamy will interpret ACIM to support their vegan and multi-sex partner preferences as being a higher order and closer to Oneness.

    One may read The Secret Life of Plants to understand that plants in fact do scream and are terrified of their roots being ripped out of the ground to be ground alive in a juicer. They send warning signs out to other plants when they’re being attacked — asking for help and/or initializing in the others a protective chemical to try to save at least themselves from destruction. Yet we all need to eat. So we protect those that look and act more like us (the animals) and assume that makes us closer to oneness — by making only those like us have a higher priority for protection.

    And if “sharing sex with everyone” is what ACIM meant as a higher order of living than chosen monogamy because monogamy is not sharing sex with everyone, then ACIMers who want to reach God should be sharing sex with the homeless, the intensely overweight and underweight, the dying, the toothless and the aged — all who might enjoy an orgasm with them. ACIM is instead interpreted the sharing to mean “share everything including sex but when it comes to sex, only with the handful of others who look and act good enough to us.”

    The above paragraph will inevitably result in the excuse that, well, it’s still okay to have preferences in who we like having sex with as long as we’re sharing it with *some* people. “Some people” is surely closer to God than “One person.” At least we’re sharing it with a few more people than monogamous people are.

    But both are simply having sex only with who they’re attracted to and not sharing it with others. Monogamous people are sexually attracted to a familiar partner they travel through life with. Multi-partner people are attracted to novelty. There’s nothing more virtuous about either.

    Both novelty-oriented and monogamous people are holding back sharing sex according to their preferences. The minute either of these choices — chosen multi-sex partners or chosen monogamous partner — are made more holy than the other, it’s the ego moving in trying to control and make its own current preferences more godly than others’ preferences.

    The problem with monogamy in the past isn’t that a handful of other people they may have had sex with instead of their chosen life partner wasn’t something they felt the desire to pursue. The problem was that spiritual viewpoints forced it onto others with rules and dogma, stating that if they didn’t abide by monogamous rules, they would not (or not as quickly/easily) help bring heaven to earth.

    Now ACIMers are doing the same thing the churches did. They are also helping ACIM move more and more into the rules and regulations dogma territory, dictated by the preferences of some.

    There is nothing more loving about vegan, it just makes some people feel less guilty about killing other sentient beings because they’ve never been a plant so they can treat the plant as though it’s pain is beneath their own.

    There is nothing more holy about having sex with a handful of people we’re at least temporarily attracted to while still leaving the vast majority of people out who may have wanted to have sex with us. This is just an ACIM interpretation that supports one’s sexual preferences as being more holy and closer to “heaven on earth” because their need for novelty is more pleasurable for them, therefore they think it’s more pleasurable for everyone.

    • Mae says:

      Hi Brenda – As a vegan I don’t see myself as being any better than anyone else. I am pretty much the same person now as I was when I was a meat eater, although I feel that the decision to give up meat was a good one. I am not disputing that plants do have a rudimentary hormonal system which allows them to respond to any threat, temperature, light and dark etc., but they do not have an advanced nervous system like animals. In addition, know that if you eat meat you are indirectly killing many more plants than you would as a vegan (if numbers matter that is) most of the plants grown on this earth, for consumption, are fed to animals, who we, as if by magic, turn into food, shoes, handbags etc. It takes approximately 15lbs of grain to produce 1lb of beef – not an efficient system for feeding a growing population, which is why the WHO has made a strong recommendation that we all consider our meat eating – well for that reason and the fact that meat is the major cause of greenhouse gas emissions, actually creating more emissions that the whole transport system of the world put together, including planes.

  3. LEIGHANN MANCHA says:

    Nice analysis . I was fascinated by the insight !

  4. Erika Awakening says:

    Hi Lars, yes exactly. When we are acting from love, we are compassionate and non-destructive. So regardless whether what we see is an illusion, when we have learned A Course in Miracles we don't harm anyone, even in illusion.

  5. Terry Perkins says:

    My cat Wompus likes pancakes. He also enjoys riding on my moped with me. We drive through town and honk the horn at people coming out of the post office.

  6. Lars Gimstedt says:

    Read about how Jesus could have answered this question in "I, Yeshua. Awakener".
    psykosyntesforum.se/Yeshua.htm . In short, He says that nihilism would result in acting from something else but love, thereby reinforcing one's attachment to the ego.

  7. Iztok says:

    Great article! Especially about bridging the gap in communications into Oneness.

  8. Grace says:

    Thanks Erika & Jack. I definitely agree with your points on being veg. I suppose the only time it would be ok to eat meat is if the animal died naturally, and still doubtful on the health benefits of doing something like that. But here is what I think keeps bothering me about your posts, Erika. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with your messages. But there’s this feeling that the wrong angle is being taken in helping others arrive to these Truths. What I feel all major religions have done wrong is attempt to control the masses using fear and stating rules to live by in order to get into “heaven.” But as we are already in Heaven, and this is but a projection of our beliefs, all that is needed is Forgiveness. When each person focuses on their own salvation through Forgiveness, they will then begin to see their projection adjust to their now higher consciousness. So instead of beating people over the head about eating meat and monogamy, we should be inspiring them to practice love, compassion, gratitude and Forgiveness in the highest sense so that they can come to the conclusion on their own about the most enlightened way to live in this illusion. But then again, I believe we all have our part to play, and I believe yours, Erika, is to begin to educate people ahead of time of what is to come. ;)

    • Thank you Grace for being open.

      Inspiring people to practice love, compassion, and gratitude is all fine and nice except that it very often devolves into “fake positive thinking.”

      As MLK Jr. pointed out, we don’t just need anemic love. We also need justice. Right now we have way too much “spiritual bullshit” – people spouting nicey-nice “positive thinking” while not doing the more challenging inner work of coming into integrity and clarifying a value system that serves the highest good of everyone on the planet.

      And when people are pretending to be loving while eating a slaughtered turkey for Thanksgiving, what we have is self-deceit and denial.

      So then tough love comes into play, because I have seen people be able to go on in denial for years (myself included) until someone is courageous enough to say “hey, there is nothing loving about enslaving animals and then killing them for meat you don’t need to eat.”

      Frankly, I think we need a LOT more on the tough love side, always of course remembering “love the racist, not the racism.” Confronting people with tough love is still love, and we need to keep the consciousness of still loving the person while not loving or accepting the immoral practices.

  9. Jack says:

    You ask some great questions “Grace”, thanks for being the catalyst in starting what I expect to be a good thread.

    It’s probably true that plants also feel intent to harm but one of the constraints of us living in this physical reality is that we need to eat. But we CAN learn to eat and live while doing as little harm as possible. Choosing to eat veg causes less harm to animals, to our own bodies and to the environment… and an animal would certainly NOT give permission to be eaten any more than you would give McD’s permission to make you into a meat patty. Meat is a habit, an acquired taste and that’s all it is. Whatever you believe is true, you could certainly eat meat and be healthy or you could eat veg and be healthy but the ramifications are very different.

    Some additional non-ACIM comparisons:

    Like any human, an animal also fears losing it’s life (if it’s taken unwillingly). It will scream and thrash and even work to the death to escape a captor’s clutches so it can try to save it’s own life or it’s offspring. If you cut off a leg, it will bleed to death quickly, just like you would. In comparison, if you cut off a part of a plant, not only does it not die anytime soon but it can create a whole new version of itself! More life, not less.

    If you had to look an animal in the eyes before you kill it, chances are you couldn’t do it. How about a plant? Can you feel the difference? We’re so cut off from the actual suffering of animals (what most people call food) that we don’t know how much suffering we cause because we never actually see it. The industry doesn’t want us to see it, that would be bad for profit.

    Give a choice, you would save a human at the expense of an animal. You’d also you’d save your pet at the expense of your broccoli. We can always choose to do less harm but in this contextual reality, we can rarely not do any harm.

  10. Grace says:

    Erika,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this post. I truly appreciate it. However, I’m still not sold on monogamy and no meat. That’s not to say I embrace the meat industry and how it treats animals nor that I see over and over in my daily life how something seems a little “off” with monogamy. But why isn’t it possible to eat meat, if you do so consciously? For example, only eat meat where you request permission from the animal to eat it (not that anyone does that, but you get the idea). I just feel if you should stop eating meat, then you should stop eating altogether because plants have life also. To eat a plant is choosing to kill that plant for your own nourishment. Why would that be any different from an animal? Just because a plant communicates differently doesn’t mean it is not brimming with life. In fact, many studies have shown how plants do react to the intention to harm it with fear. (Check out “The Secret Life of Plants”). So perhaps it shouldn’t stop at being vegan and we should just live off air. As for monogamy, I agree that society’s current system is a little off. But to me, honesty is the only thing that’s lacking. If two people were allowed to express themselves freely about their feelings and attractions to others without being rebuked or punished for it, and if people in relationships didn’t get so worked up or insecure if they each decided to explore other relationships while still being committed to each other, I believe some semblance of monogamy could still exist…I guess I’m just not interpreting the text the way you do. I believe love and compassion is the way to do everything, but that doesn’t necessarily predict a certain outcome in my mind. For example, simply because I enjoy a man’s company and even think I could love him, doesn’t necessarily mean I would want to have sex with him. Anyway, I guess I’m still sorting through thoughts in my head, but once again thank you for your posts. I do enjoy reading them.

    • Erika Awakening says:

      Hi Grace – thanks … so to ask you a blunt question, is it now okay to come and murder you in your bed because one of us is arrogant enough to say ‘well I asked Grace’s permission and in my mind she said it was okay.’

      To me it’s just not honest. And the way the Course keeps us honest is absolutism. We must renounce death in every form. No exceptions.

    • And honestly Grace this is just ego resistance to what the book actually says. An apple from a tree is a gift. It falls off the tree if it’s not picked with no harm to the tree.

      Compare that to the slaughter video here: http://erikaawakening.com/moral-relativism … to act like apple and meat are the same is pure denial.

      As for monogamy I’ve already explained many passages from the Course that make clear we can’t keep anything for ourselves – anything unshared is unholy including sex. More here: http://erikaawakening.com/guru-lies-codependent

      Our ego resistance to the plain words of the text is quite predictable but in no way honest. So you could keep these ideas but if so you are choosing not to follow the Course as it is written.

  11. alexander says:

    Yes! There is nothing to disagree to what has been writen here in your article. You should see the ear2ear on my face right now :D ‘I’ get how “Grace” (nice…) came to see and express her thoughts and feelings concerning THE Course (which, in all my enthousiasm, should be ‘mandetory’). Of course; not a thing ever is mandetory…

    Allow me toe share my insight, hence my ‘situation’:
    ‘I’ also have had these logical questions, till that very moment that ‘I’ decided to let ‘it’ go. ‘I’ decided not to resist ‘it’ anymore. What was the ‘it’? ‘IT’ was the consistency of the words, presented to me in the course. You see; they were/are more consistent than ‘I’ ever had been. That frightened me, no, made ‘me’ scared shitless! ‘My’ ego came up with ever more smart ‘SOLUTIONS’ till that moment of letting go. Resistance became Trust. This by the way is nothing more than acceptance, but it doesn’t mean that i’m there yet. That is where i’m at now.

    That’s how ‘I’ figured out that this to was my ego, still -ever more- charging forward. Boy did ‘I’ totally fell for that one! ‘I’ know that ‘I’ need not to ‘arrive’ anywhere, because I AM. But still… ‘I’ to believe in having read; nihilism is the ‘answer’. ‘I’ even have my hologram telling me this… why? Because ‘I’ created it this way. ‘I’ am looking at my own thoughts…

    So…my question to you, dear Erika and Grace, do you reckonize this? How do ‘I’ deal with it? ‘I’ can’t see where ‘I’ am still holding on to any of the beliefs of the ‘old’ world, INCLUDING the above mentioned… thanks for replying… Alex

    • Erika Awakening says:

      hi Alex – thank you. I don’t quite understand the question will you clarify please? thanks :)

      • Alexander says:

        Hi Erika, thanks for letting me clarify. My native language is Dutch, so forgive me the somewhat clumsy choice of words from time to time. You see; Dutch is a ‘baby’ language. Many words in your language have a far ‘bigger/wider’ meaning then in the Dutch language. That being said; ‘I’ am coping with a bit of a challenge lately… You see; everything I’ve read in the Course and what I’m reading here at your blog, resonates big time. That is a good thing, you’d say, but unfortunately it’s not all the time, and therefore NOT. There is a huge difference in knowing vs. experiencing. It’s almost as if the knowing part – widely reported in the Course – is being held back by the experience, which is lacking? You also might say that the Course helps transcend all previous experiences ‘I’ have had in this life so far, and know as little as, well, diddley-squad. That feeling tends to make people nervous, including me, to say the very least. BECAUSE: what is then left? What is there to ‘hang on to’? Did you hand over your beliefs, and ‘traded’ them for God’s? ‘I’ recognize that the feelings I’m experiencing at the moment might come from this ‘alleged’ nihilism. The money situation: we do not have anything to complain about; there is good nutritious food and drink, a roof over our heads and clothing on our bodies. ‘Alleged’ because I do know, for a fact, that you are totally right about not eating meat and having polyamorous relationships! Me and my partner are all in to it. All fears have been dealt with, in ‘the most extreme sense of the word’ , if ‘I’ might add ;) It’s all ego in hindsight.

        So what am I missing here, knowing all of the above? Did you experience – even briefly – a moment of total trust in God? A total ‘letting go all personal/human beliefs’? And – if so – what do I need to look for/at? ‘I’ know ‘I’ do not need to arrive anywhere, but why do I get the feeling I’m still waiting for something? ‘I’ feel ‘I’ can ask you this, since you’ve studied the Course and it all boils down to experiencing THE Truth, that ‘I’ am in the conviction that ‘we’ ALL might feel/see/hear/know the same Knowledge? Even if paths differ, they all converge, right? Or am ‘I’ mistaken here? Or is this my ego doing the talking? How do ‘I’ go on as in further? What happened to you after the Course?

        Hope to have clarified some, your insights are welcome… :)
        Alex

      • Erika Awakening says:

        Hi Alex,

        Thanks for sharing some more and yes I do understand since we have an international audience that sometimes some meaning is lost in the translation. I’m still not 100% clear I am getting what you are asking.

        I have given my whole life over to God. I have no personal interests. None of us do, I just recognize this very explicitly. So everything in my life, even while I sleep with meditation headphones on, is directed toward my purpose of forgiveness and salvation.

        If you’d like a more experiential way to understand, how about trying out the 30-Day World Peace Challenge (which is free) –

        http://erikaawakening.com/peace

        Thank you for your contribution to the blog :)

        - Erika

      • alexander says:

        Hi Erika,
        Thanks once again for your reply. Unknowingly you did answer my question: you gave ‘your’ life to God. Everything. It is there that I haven’t gone yet, completely. I still experience some resistance. Thanks for the video, I will definitely look into it so I may discover what it is I’m overlooking here. I guess the main thing is my impatience…

        Thanks,
        Alex

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