The impact A Course In Miracles (ACIM) has had on Karen Casey's life is immeasurable. First introduced to ACIM during the early stages of sobriety when she hung on to Alcoholics Anonymous like her life depended on it (and, of course, it did), she yearned for something that could quiet her near constant anxiety. ACIM has done that for her, bringing her a simpler, softer, slower, and more loving life.
"Writing a book of essays about the course, suggesting how one can practice it for personal benefit, is so pleasurable. Every word I write is a constant reminder to me of how to cultivate greater peace in my own life. What could be better than that? Nothing comes to mind, frankly." -from the introduction
52 Ways to Live the Course In Miracles takes readers on a journey through simple ideas and affirmations for meditation. Casey not only offers an explanation of the ideas, but also shares her own experiences with them--stumbles and all--offering proof of how helpful and practical they really are and showing that the goal isn't perfection, but rather progress toward creating a life of love and peace.
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About the Author
Karen Casey is a popular speaker at recovery and spirituality conferences throughout the country. She is the author of 20 plus books, including Each Day a New Beginning, which has sold more than 2 million copies. She and her husband spend their time between Florida, Indiana, and Minnesota.
Read an Excerpt
52 Ways to Live the Course in Miracles
Cultivate a Simpler, Slower, More Love-Filled Life
By Karen Casey
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2016 Karen Casey
All rights reserved.
Love is letting go of fear.
* * *
More than thirty-five years ago, I was introduced to the spiritual principle "love is letting go of fear" through a book by that name written by Dr. Gerald Jampolsky. I knew nothing about A Course in Miracles at that time, but the idea that the connection between love and fear, a very core idea in A Course in Miracles, needed to be reckoned with got my attention. Dr. Jampolsky was best known then as the founder of the Center for Attitudinal Healing, a program he started in Marin County, California, in the mid-1970s that brought comfort and spiritual healing to children suffering from cancer.
I was particularly drawn to Jampolsky's writing style. His message was gentle. Very healing. Easily accessible. And extremely practical. The crux of his small book was about changing one's mind, thus making it possible to live from a place of love rather than being controlled by fear. His twelve simple principles seemed revolutionary to me.
I didn't have any idea when I read his book that Jampolsky was a devotee of A Course in Miracles or that his words would guide me to becoming a student of the course a short time later, but indeed that was the journey I embarked on. And what a journey it has been.
I'd have to say that nearly every spiritual perspective I now cherish is one that has been influenced by something I read either in the 669-page text, the 488-page workbook, or the 92-page manual for teachers that comprise A Course in Miracles. I'm so grateful for the vision I am now guided by. It's a simple vision. It's a practical vision. And it's a gentle vision, not unlike the one I was so comforted by when I read Love Is Letting Go of Fear more than thirty-five years ago.
Living life in the simple lane appeals to me. And there is nothing quite as simple as recognizing that every expression, every word, and every action any one of us makes is motivated by one of two feelings: love or fear. When I was first introduced to this idea, I scoffed. Surely people's behavior was more complicated than that. Indeed, I was certain mine was. And then I was helped by the readings in the course, coupled with long discussions with other course students, A Course in Miracles workshops, and books by Marianne Williamson, Kenneth Wapnick, and Jon Mundy, to see how much less complicated most of us really are.
Fear absolutely motivates people to be angry, sullen, dismissive, and, far too often, cruel. It can also initiate violence in myriad forms. Cable news, minute by minute, alerts us to the most recent evidence of fear in action. In families and between countries. In our neighborhoods and among folks we will never meet.
Fear is powerful. And all-pervasive at times. With some individuals it seems unending too. My own dad fell into this category. I'm pretty certain he would have insisted that he loved my siblings, my mother, and me; however, his love felt compromised, very conditional. And most of the time he was tense and quick to anger. Perhaps something had happened at work that upset him. Or maybe one of my siblings left a bike in the driveway. Something big or minor could have triggered the rage. But the repercussions were always registered at home. Always. Quite often at the supper table.
It wasn't until years later, after I was encouraged to interview him for a class assignment about family origins, that I came face to face with who my dad really was. My simple question, "Will you tell me about your life?" resulted in the reply, "I have been afraid every single day since I was six years old." He told me he had accidentally cut off two of his younger brother's fingers with the old push lawn mower and was severely punished for it. Trying to be perfect, in every way, from that moment forward instilled a fear that simply couldn't be quelled. He was tormented by it until the day he died.
I was stunned. My dad, afraid? He always seemed so confident. What I didn't understand then, but eventually learned from my Course in Miracles teachers, was that anger is only one of the many masks hiding fear. Let me be clear. My dad was angry. Often. But finally realizing that fear had precipitated his anger was eye-opening.
The only sane response to someone else's fear, regardless of how it is being manifested, is to be loving.
I was relieved to finally learn my dad's truth, but so sad for him that life had been so difficult. His near-constant struggle, of course, made life a struggle for all of us. That's what fear does. It gets projected onto others, thus controlling the dynamic between all the people present. The dance our family did was anything but a smooth waltz.
I've studied long and hard, read and reread A Course in Miracles in its entirety many times, in fact, in order to be able to "occasionally" appreciate that the only sane response to someone else's fear, regardless of how it is being manifested, is to be loving. An expression of love is the only thing that will pave the way for freedom from the awful sting of fear that is being expressed in any person's anguished behavior.
Making the choice to be loving, difficult though it may be, isn't actually as hard as it may initially sound. I'm reminded of Mother Teresa's gentle admonition to "be kind to everyone and start with the person standing next to you." Making a decision to be kind or loving can happen with little or no planning. You just do it. You smile. You offer help. You remember that we, each one of us, are on assignment to be helpful to one another. That's all. That's absolutely all. It's quite enough, actually.
* * *
I will choose to be loving and kind in
every encounter I experience today. My
own spirit will be lifted every time I try to
lift the spirit of someone else.
Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing and help.
* * *
This principle is profound. Deeply profound, I think. What it means is that any thought we hold that isn't loving is actually a cry for help. Yes, any thought. Those sneaky, quiet judgments; the unspoken put-downs; even our negative recollections about someone are all — all — cries for help. What I say to you or about you mirrors who I am, loud and clear, in that moment. And when I am saying or thinking something that is not kind, I am in trouble. Personally and spiritually in trouble. And I need help.
How twisted our thinking becomes when we are afraid, when we are feeling less than others or perhaps even more than someone else. The fact of the matter is, what I am saying or thinking about you actually isn't about you at all. It's about me. My thoughts or words perfectly reflect what I am thinking about myself in that very moment. This truth can oftentimes feel ugly. Any truth we don't like we'd prefer to deny. Or project onto someone else. That's the human side of us. Let's not be ashamed, however. Let's accept who we are in the moment so that we can become who we'd rather be in the next moment.
How do we live with this repugnant fact about ourselves? One of the first helpful things to acknowledge is that we experience two voices in our minds. Continuously and simultaneously. One is always loud, very negative, and quite destructive; and unfortunately, it speaks first. This is the ego's voice. It's the one responsible for our distasteful thoughts and actions.
The other voice we will hear, but only if we choose to hear it, is very quiet, very kind, very loving, and, most importantly, it speaks truth. This is the voice of the Holy Spirit, who is God's representative in this world of illusions that our egos have created.
Certainly, choosing to listen to the loving voice of the Holy Spirit within our minds is preferable. It is definitely the most sensible. However, because it generally isn't the first voice we hear, we get hijacked. And then sidetracked. So easily sidetracked. Thus, before we know it, we are passing judgment on, or worse, audibly criticizing, whomever is present. Of course, what we are thinking or saying isn't the truth about who is standing before us. We have already established that whatever has been uttered or thought reveals solely who we are. In that moment.
The hurt has been registered already, however, and it's a hurt whose impact ripples throughout the world. Quite obviously, it reflects back on us with as much vehemence as it projects forward. Instantaneously, the entire universe of souls has been touched by the ugly ego that commandeered our attention. That's the awful and yet awesome power of the butterfly effect. What I say or do to you, I do to everybody.
Our personal mission is holy: give only love.
Although we can't put this genie back in the bottle, we can recognize the error of our ways quickly and refrain from exaggerating the problem we have created. The best way to refrain, of course, is to quietly acknowledge to ourselves the shortcomings we have once again been held hostage by. Having two voices in our minds requires that we be vigilant. Constantly. The loudest voice is simply never the kindest. Nor is it ever loving. Consequently, we must make our amends, if they are called for, and move on. Just move on. The next moment and its opportunity are calling to us.
To repeat what has already been hailed as the message here, loving thoughts that give rise to loving actions are the life-sustaining activities in what appears, most often, to be a chaotic, dangerous universe. Our personal mission is holy: give only love. And we accomplish this by making the choice to listen to that quieter voice. Not only will we be changed entirely, but the picture before our eyes will change entirely too.
Indeed, only loving thoughts are deserving of us. Only loving thoughts coupled with loving actions are the gifts we must bestow on every soul we encounter. Being the example of truth at every turn transforms every moment of life. Your life and mine too.
* * *
Transforming my life is within my power.
It begins with a soft heart today.
Wherever we are is the next perfect place to be.
* * *
How comforted I am by knowing that I am where I need to be right now. The same is true for you. This also means that where we were yesterday or forty years ago was where we needed to be then too. As the course, through the words of Jesus, reveals, there are no accidents. Every experience we have and every person we meet is fulfilling a part in our separate, though perfect journey.
My trajectory, and yours too, is divinely targeted. This doesn't mean we should not have felt the pinch of uncomfortable experiences at times. That these things should not have happened. On the contrary, they were necessary points on the learning curve that is actually intended to help us remember who we really are.
And who are we really? We are God's children who are still very much at home in Heaven. But the moment we mysteriously (could it have been mistakenly?) created the ego, we rebelled and imagined that we had escaped from Heaven. We were intent on ruling ourselves in our own "more perfect world."
Alas, in truth we didn't really leave God at all. Not really. We remain "at home" with Him right now even though we think we are in this madly insane world of illusions that our egos painstakingly created, one idol at a time.
Look around. The insanity of what the ego has made is nearly beyond belief. In the name of "God" people are killing one another in the vilest ways. The evening news is replete with tragedy. The 24/7 cable networks, with all their gory details, are suffocatingly oppressive. But we watch. And wring our hands. And say, What can be done? And then we remember ...
What a blessing to remember that what we are watching isn't actually happening in the real world. So how does what we gaze upon fit into the principle that "wherever we are is the next perfect place to be?" This question has intrigued me ever since that day more than three decades ago when I committed to a lifelong study of A Course in Miracles. If what we are seeing in our neighborhoods and on television isn't real, how do we explain it? And why should I, or you, believe that what the course says about this world, in contrast to the real world, is truth?
That quieter voice that always speaks truth helps us to lift our eyes above the fray, to seek the vision of Christ that is always present in every face.
With time — actually, lots of time — I have come to understand that being willing to believe the truth isn't a dilemma, not really. I have become satisfied with choosing to accept that this classroom, our world, is where violence and tragedy appear to be happening. This classroom is where we can see what the ego part of one's mind is capable of doing. The havoc is evidence of the insanity of the ego. With this as a backdrop, it's glorious to remember that the ego voice isn't the only voice present in our minds. Hallelujah.
That other, quieter voice that always speaks truth helps us to lift our eyes above the fray, to seek the vision of Christ that is always present in every face, regardless of the horrors of the violence. It's in this moment that we are in the right place at the perfect time, serving to demonstrate for others that peace is always possible. Always. It's in these moments that Spirit is calling us to be who we truly are: God's children, one and all.
There is no more perfect place to be. Ever.
* * *
I relish knowing that I am not, in actuality, part
of this insanity all around me. I am free.
I am free. Spirit is my guide.
No experience is lacking in purpose. Every encounter is holy.
* * *
It might be difficult to believe that no experience is lacking in purpose after we've been fired from a job we thought was perfect for us. Or after a spouse has left us for another partner. However, we are always experiencing exactly what we need to experience at exactly the right time. Therefore, another career path or perhaps a new relationship must be heading our way. We have to trust that, in time, we will understand the holiness of whatever took us by surprise.
I feel such a sense of calm when I remind myself that every encounter I have with absolutely every person who engages me is for a reason. I don't need to know the reason, and I seldom do, immediately. But the experience will eventually be understood as one of the necessary puzzle pieces completing the picture of me.
Excerpted from 52 Ways to Live the Course in Miracles by Karen Casey. Copyright © 2016 Karen Casey. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Love is letting go of fear 1
2 Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing and help 6
3 Wherever we are is the next perfect place to be 10
4 No experience is lacking in purpose. Every encounter is holy 13
5 Forgiveness is the key to peace 16
6 Every experience is an opportunity to live more peacefully 20
7 What we see is what we choose to see 23
8 When others are not kind, they are afraid. Be kind anyway 27
9 Don't let the mood swings of others determine who you are 31
10 Refrain from seeing oneself as being unfairly treated 34
11 Every experience is the next perfect lesson with the right partner 37
12 No one is where he is by accident, and chance plays no part in Gods plan 40
13 Every person we encounter is one of our learning partners 43
14 We cannot change the world, but we can change our minds about the world 47
15 Anger is the all too common mask for fear 51
16 Would you rather be peaceful or be right? 55
17 Grasp fully this moment only and discover peace 59
18 We have access to two voices in our minds. Which one will we listen to? 63
19 The world we see is a witness to our state of mind 67
20 To shift your state of mind, make the choice to be loving regardless of the situation 71
21 Every word uttered is coming from a place of love or a place of fear 75
22 The Holy Spirit has every answer we need 78
23 Every encounter is a holy encounter 81
24 Forgiveness is our primary assignment in this life, and the key to our happiness 84
25 When one door closes, another opens. God has a better opportunity for us 88
26 Don't let the past define the present 92
27 Everyone is a messenger 96
28 Being gentle is our pathway to peace. When the journey began, most of us had no idea what was in store for us 100
29 Acceptance is the doorway to discovering peace 104
30 A miracle is a simple shift in perception. Nothing more 107
31 We decide the world we want to see and then we create it 111
32 There is no struggle too big to relinquish 115
33 Your mission is simple; live lovingly 119
34 We are here only to be truly helpful 123
35 Choosing the Holy Spirit as your constant companion promises a peaceful journey 127
36 If the thought you are protecting wouldn't please God, exchange it for one that would 131
37 The hovering angels that never leave our side are giving us comfort and protection. Just look to them for your every need. Begin today 135
38 Not one of the illusions you made replaces the truth 139
39 The separation never occurred 143
40 Our thoughts are all that can hurt us 147
41 Remember that the Holy Spirit, the Voice, is the Answer, not the question 151
42 The Holy Spirit will take what the ego makes and transform it into a learning opportunity 155
43 The ego was made without love. The Holy Spirit knows only love 159
44 Our willingness to join with others reduces our fear and gives inner peace a chance-the peace that will eventually change this planet 163
45 As egos, we see only what we want to see 167
46 Christ's vision allows everyone who is willing to see others without judgment 171
47 The Holy Spirit translates the laws of God 175
48 To have peace we must teach it. Only then do we learn it 179
49 God did not leave us comfortless even though we "chose" to leave Him and our home in Heaven 183
50 No call to God will ever be unheard or unanswered 187
51 We do not walk alone. God's angels are hovering all around us, now and forever 191
52 You will be told what God wills for you each time there is a choice to make. Go in peace from this moment on 195
Concluding Thoughts 199