The Workbook for Students

By Beverly Hutchinson McNeff

Many students of A Course in Miracles may be starting the Workbook lessons for the first time or for a repeat time. Therefore, this article is presented to offer some guidance.

There is great value in doing the Workbook, especially if you have never done the lessons as they are an important part of the Course. Certainly the Text lays down the understanding of the Course’s thought system but the Workbook offers the experience of the Course. Both are important and essential to one’s understanding of the Course. It is helpful if the Text and the Workbook are done simultaneously, meaning that you read part of the Text as you begin doing a lesson a day. Although the chapter numbers in the Text do not correlate with the lesson numbers in the Workbook, you can simply start your day with a lesson from the Workbook as you begin reading the Text or continue at whatever place you are at in the Text. You do not have to finish the Text before doing the Workbook, nor should you completely ignore the Text in favor of the lessons. As the introduction to the Workbook suggests:

“A theoretical foundation such as the text provides is necessary as a framework to make the exercises in this workbook meaningful. Yet it is doing the exercises that will make the goal of the course possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of this workbook to train your mind to think along the lines the text sets forth.”

So find a comfortable way to do the Text and Workbook in concert with each other.

The Workbook is divided into two sections: the first section of lessons deals with the unlearning of our way of understanding the world and the second section deals with the relearning of the truth of who and what we really are. Each lesson has one main idea to practice for the day. It is recommended that you do not do more than one lesson a day.

Although some people have found it helpful to stay on a particular lesson for more than one day, one should not get stuck on any one lesson because you think you did not do it correctly or that you did not fully understand it. Each lesson builds on the next, so what you did not understand in one you will get another chance to learn in the next.

It is also important to be patient with yourself. Even though enlightenment can happen in an instant, the likelihood is that you will not get it on any one lesson, so simply get the most out of your experience that day with the lesson you are doing and move on to the next one the following day (and if you do reach enlightenment on any one lesson, do let us know!) Remember, even though the Workbook has 365 lessons, you do not have to finish it in one year. Most students have taken more than a year. There is no reward for speed, but neither is delay desired. Many have asked if the Workbook should be repeated. I personally found it helpful to repeat the Workbook, although there is no indication this is required. It is helpful to me to have a thought of God in my mind all day long and I choose to do that by using a Workbook lesson.

One more comment about the concern of doing the lessons incorrectly. Many students feel that they must stay on a lesson or “beat themselves up” because they cannot remember to repeat the thought every half hour, every fifteen minutes or continuously throughout the day. Do not make the Workbook into a ritual! Do your best to remember the lessons at the appointed times, but if you forget, please forgive yourself and move on. The lessons are to help us release our guilt, not heap on more guilt!

The Course gives very few directions on how to study the books. This bothers many people because of our fear that we might do something wrong. But if your desire is to join your will with the Holy Spirit to do the lessons, then you cannot do the lessons wrong. If we make a mistake in our study, we can simply “choose again.” Also, the Workbook has an introduction on page one, and it is very helpful to read it before starting the lessons.

Remember, you do not have to have a complete understanding of every lesson. This will be the most difficult thing for any self-respecting ego to accept. We always want to understand everything! But the Course tells us that we see nothing as it is now – all our “understanding” comes from our past perceptions. The goal of the Course is for us to be open to a new interpretation of our world and lives, one guided by love and healing through the Holy Spirit. And that interpretation is lost to us when we use our past perceptions as the light to guide us now. The introduction to the Workbook ends with this thought:

“Remember, only this; you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. But do not allow yourself to make exceptions in applying the ideas the workbook contains, and whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them. Nothing more than that is required.”

So as we read in the Course, let us “Make this year different by making it all the same.” (T-15.XI.10:11) Let us start out with a consistency of purpose to heal our minds, to let the Holy Spirit guide our thoughts and to feel the peace of God that truly passes all understanding. Happy practicing!

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