My Top 10 Resources for new ACIM students

There are many, many books, audio programs, documentaries, and youtube videos about ACIM out there. Having been through lots of them, I can say with certainty that not all of them have spoken to me in the same way these 10 items have. If I had an opportunity to go back in time to recommend 10 items to myself when I first discovered ACIM, this would be it! (It would save myself a lot of time :))

A lot of ACIM writing can be too intellectual. A lot of books also often leave out important core concepts of ACIM such as illusion, non-dualism, and forgiveness, and concentrate on the ‘feel-good’ aspects of ACIM. If you want to feel good, then fine. But if you want to make significant spiritual progress, you have to get down and dirty with your unconscious guilt and your ego. The extraordinary effectiveness and uniqueness of ACIM as a spiritual path is precisely because it deals with issues of the ego – issues which no other religious and spiritual path deal with in such clarity and detail.

To the new student, it can be hard to tell the metaphysical differences between certain materials, due to the density of ideas and the Christian language. However, they are not quite the same. The best example I can give is that of Robert Perry and Kenneth Wapnick. Robert has a very different view – eg. he thinks ACIM is not a self-study course and that God is aware of the illusion.

Now, it is fairly obvious from this site that I am more of a student of Wapnick.

However, I would like to make a distinction here – I do not study Wapnick because I am attracted to his character, or personality, or the fact that he was around during the time of the inception of ACIM, or that he is quoted / recommended by many in the ACIM community. Spiritually speaking, all of that is irrelevant to me.

The only reason I am a fan of Wapnick is: after having been through nearly all the major teachers in the ACIM space, I have found Wapnick’s presentation and understanding of ACIM concepts to be the most coherent and the most in-depth. He may not be the most readable, but I have found that he is the most accurate.

Which brings us to the next important point – that of interpretation:

Ian Patrick: You claim that you are teaching what the Course actually says. If you read a line from the book and then explain it, that has to be your interpretation, surely?

Kenneth Wapnick: I do not feel that the Course has interpretations. I think it says what it says. Now, you could ask who I am to say: “What I say it says, is what it says.” I think that is something people must decide for themselves.

IP: But you make that claim.

KW: I do. I say: “This is what it says.” I think I would be dishonest if I kept saying: “This is what I think it says,” but I really know it. I realise that people will say: “He is absolutely right,” “That’s his opinion,” “Who the hell does he think he is?” “He’s being arrogant,” or whatever. I can only do what I know. It would be the same thing as, when Helen was taking the Course down, her telling Jesus she did not agree with what he just said. He would say: “I’m really sorry, but this is the way it is.” That is not stopping anybody from saying: “Well, I read that same book and I get something totally different from it.” But I feel that I would be being dishonest to myself and others, if I qualified it as my interpretation.

(From an interview with Ian Patrick of the Miracle Network UK, 1998)

In my search, my questioning, my reasoning, my knowing – this is my conclusion as well. I do not think that ACIM has multiple interpretations. It says what it says. In actuality, it is a very simple course with very simple ideas. Simple, but profound. It is only because we would overlook the simplicity that we need it to be presented in such an elaborate form.

It is because of this point in interpretation that I find that the ACIM community tends to have 2 sets of teachers: one whose teachings are entirely metaphysically coherent with each other, and another who have different interpretations / views. I have chosen these 10 from the first set. I have also chosen these with the following points in mind:

  • Accuracy: I believe these books explain what ACIM is saying, its practice, and its inception, in its entirety without leaving out important bits.
  • Style: What is not readable will simply not be read! (Personally speaking :)) These materials are all well-written, well-presented, clear, succinct and accessible. They are entertaining and serious when they need to be.
  • Depth: These books give the new student a good overview of the principles / story of ACIM, without overwhelming him / her with too much detail. Eg. The best two books on ACIM history are Absence from Felicity (500 pages) and Journey Without Distance (135 pages). While Absence from Felicity is an outstanding book, it’s simply too much information for the new student.

Also, please bear in mind that this is a highly personal list. Please do not be offended if your favourite author / book is not on this list. While I have read many ACIM-related books, I clearly will not have read all of them. (Especially with the rate of excellent books which are coming out these days!) I am sure that there are many others which are just as good or better. I am always open to your feedback, recommendations and criticism.

Without further ado and disclaimer :), here is my top 10:

 

1. The Disappearance of the Universe, Gary Renard

If there is one book to take note of on this list – this is it. This is THE book that made me stop in my tracks in the years of searching, and go, ‘wow. this is it.’. This is the book that really opened up ACIM for me. This is the book that explained the principles of ACIM without killing my brain cells. I don’t normally use hyperbole, but as one reviewer said, this book truly is a masterpiece of spiritual literature. I have personally bought a dozen+ copies of this book for friends and family.
The Disappearance of the Universe, Gary Renard

The Disappearance of the Universe, Gary Renard

No doubt, there will be many who have problems with “ascended masters” – and we could go into an entire discussion of why it is possible or not if such entities could exist and appear. Personally, I am less concerned about the messenger than I am about the message. The advanced spiritual and psychological concepts presented in DU are clear, complete, coherent – going into appropriate depth but yet remaining extremely readable – a combination which is so rare to find. To me, DU is done in a way which is so extraordinary that it could not have possibly come from the limited mind and intelligence of a human being. Read it with an open mind!

 

2. Your Immortal Reality, Gary Renard

This is Gary’s second book. Now that the core principles of ACIM have been presented in DU, YIR is less serious and jumps around to cover several topics: Gary’s life history and his experiences since DU was published, more emphasis on forgiveness and the life of Jesus, some educational mystical / paranormal experiences which Gary goes through (I won’t spoil it for you :)), and some predictions about the future. A real highlight is Pursah’s Gospel of Thomas, 70 sayings of Jesus which alone are worth the price of the book!

Your Immortal Reality, Gary Renard

Your Immortal Reality, Gary Renard

 

3. The Forgotten Song and the Song Remembered – Foundation for Inner Peace, Produced by Bridget Winters

I’ve always felt that documentaries are just about the most effective way to learn about something. If pictures are worth a thousand words, then a video with sound is surely worth a million words! This documentary, 2.25 hours long, from the Foundation for Inner Peace was produced by Bridget Winters, an acclaimed TV producer from the BBC. Although it was done in 1987 (!), it remains to me as the best video ever made about ACIM. It features principal figures in the inception of the Course – Bill Thetford, Kenneth Wapnick, Judy Skutch, and other many people who were early students of ACIM.

If you are completely new to the Course – I can think of few better ways to get a good overview of ACIM in just over 2 hours than to watch this documentary. The documentary is in two parts: The Forgotten Song and The Song Remembered. The Forgotten Song are about the origins of the Course, and The Song Remembered are personal testimonies that examine different aspects of ACIM. Having multiple personalities who come from different walks of life – business people, ex-convicts, psychologists, etc. – explain ACIM in their own words is both amazing and helpful. I thought it was so good and so helpful to me that I actually transcribed the entire thing… :)

The entire video is available on youtube, in 16 parts, and I have embedded them here for easy viewing:

The Forgotten Song (Transcript)

The Song Remembered (Transcript)

If you like it, please buy the DVD from FIP!

The Forgotten Song and The Song Remembered, FACIM, Bridget Winters

The Forgotten Song and The Song Remembered, FIP, Bridget Winters

 

4. Living A Course in Miracles, Kenneth Wapnick, Nightingale-Conant

Wapnick for new ACIM students can be intimidating. He is an academic and a scholar – as such, many of his materials can be quite dense. Like the ACIM text itself – he teaches in the language of the Course, and assumes that the reader is already familiar with this language. He frequently references Shakespeare, Beethoven and Nietzsche. How many of us have the intellectual capacity to appreciate HamletString Quartet No. 16Thus Spoke Zarathustra? Also, a lot of his books are edited transcriptions of his lectures, which often results in a rather unstructured, and dare I say, ‘rambly’ format.

This audioprogram produced by Nightingale-Conant strikes a great balance: it is a well-structured, well-packaged program with the clarity and insight of Wapnick, with a very practical aspect – it has written reference materials and a guidebook with questions for you to work with after each session. I can’t think of a better way for a new student to get started on Wapnick than this set. From the description on the FACIM store:

This eight-CD set is an in-depth presentation of the teachings of A Course in Miracles. It is a distillation of several of our Foundation’s tape sets, including: “An Overview of A Course in Miracles,” “Living A Course in Miracles,” “Form vs. Content: Sex and Money,” “Love Does Not Oppose,” “Climbing the Ladder Home,” and “The Gift of the Ego: Fear/The Gift of God: Love.” The CD set includes a print­able Guidebook, as well as an accompanying booklet containing a prelude and postlude to each disc.

 

5. Take Me to Truth, Nouk Sanchez and Tomas Vieira

I was introduced to this book by Gary Renard – it has been one of his best recommendations so far! TMTT is a product of the collaboration of two gifted teachers: Nouk Sanchez and Tomas Vieira. TMTT is an exposé on the ego, its workings and how we can dis-identify with it (I say dis-identify and not ‘undo’ as the book says, I don’t think the ego can be eliminated / undone, it is more of a choosing against the ego, but then it could be a semantics thing). I love this book because it is framed in a language I can understand – I found the metaphysics clear, structured, and I found many methods which were very helpful, such as Byron Katie’s The Work.

Take Me to Truth, Nouk Sanchez and Tomas Vieira

Take Me to Truth, Nouk Sanchez and Tomas Vieira

 

6. Journey without Distance – Robert Skutch

This book is a great introduction to the story of ACIM and its principal characters in its development. Written by Robert Skutch, who originally founded the Foundation for Inner Peace with Judy Skutch Witson, JwD is an enthralling read about the inception of ACIM. I especially find the sections about Helen’s paranormal / psychic / mystical experiences especially fascinating.

Journey Without Distance: The Story behind A Course in Miracles, Robert Skutch

Journey Without Distance: The Story behind A Course in Miracles, Robert Skutch

 

7. The Most Commonly Asked Questions about A Course in Miracles, Gloria Wapnick and Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

The only other Wapnick material on this list, this book is a compilation of the 72 most asked questions about ACIM and clear answers from Dr. Wapnick himself – including the perennial favourite: ‘Why are we here? / How did the impossible happen?’ You can’t get more structured than a Q&A format! I love this book – it helped me so much in answering my questions about ACIM and I even got the answers to those questions which I hadn’t even thought of… :) The entire text of this book is actually available online here.

The Most Commonly Asked Questions about A Course in Miracles, Gloria Wapnick and Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

The Most Commonly Asked Questions about A Course in Miracles, Gloria Wapnick and Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

 

8. Love is Letting Go of Fear, Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D.

Jerry Jampolsky is a psychologist and was one of the early students of ACIM. This book is not a ‘classic’ for no reason – for over three decades, this little book has changed the lives and attitudes of many. While it is not really an ACIM book, it is an excellent distillation of the psychological principles of ACIM. A very readable book, in a language that everyone can understand, with lots of lovely illustrations. You might want to try this one first if you have a lot of trouble with the Christian language. :)

Love is Letting Go of Fear, Gerald Jampolsky, M.D.

Love is Letting Go of Fear, Gerald Jampolsky, M.D.

 

9. Understanding A Course in Miracles, D. Patrick Miller

Patrick Miller is a journalist, author, independent publisher, and literary consultant. (He was also the first publisher of Gary Renard’s Disappearance of the Universe) It thus comes as no surprise that his book is extremely well-researched and crystal clear in its presentation. Understanding A Course in Miracles is a rare bird in ACIM literature – it examines multiple viewpoints from teachers and critics of the Course alike, while retaining a good sense of balance. Some of the controversies around the Course are also covered. All this, plus a brief overview of ACIM’s principles and inception! A great all-round starter text.

Understanding A Course in Miracles, D. Patrick Miller

Understanding A Course in Miracles, D. Patrick Miller

 

10. The Universe is a Dream, Alexander Marchand

The last item on this list is also one of the most exciting, and the most recently published. When I first read about Alex and his project for a graphic novel explaining ACIM concepts, I was highly skeptical. But as I surfed on to his webpage which presented the glossary of symbols as used in the novel, I changed my mind. I had a moment of, ‘wow – this is not only really cool, this is genuinely meaningful.’ There was something about it that spoke to me in a way that I knew its source was authentically inspired. It’s difficult for me to explain this feeling, just in the same way I can’t exactly describe how Spirit communicates with me. It’s just a deep sense of knowing.

I really think that there is going to be a big wave of ACIM materials which will appeal to the younger generation, and also make it a lot more accessible to the general population, utilising all sorts of different media. This book is definitely one of those.

The book certainly didn’t disappoint, and I loved the way (usually) dry and theoretical ACIM concepts were brought to life by pictures. I also think Alex has a great understanding of the Course – metaphysically speaking, I was in agreement with pretty much everything that he said (pertaining about the core concepts of ACIM). After reading the entire book, I realised how ambitious it was to present so many ideas in 200 pages – being familiar with the ideas I was able to follow the novel, but I did wonder if someone completely new to ACIM would be lost by the rapid succession of concepts. I highly recommend this novel, but I think it’s definitely meant to be read as a brief overview of ACIM, and should be read in tandem with a text such as The Disappearance of the Universe.

 

The Universe is a Dream, Alexander Marchand

The Universe is a Dream, Alexander Marchand

That’s it! As I said earlier, there are always new books coming out and I have many on my ‘to-read’ list – so expect this list to evolve over time! Also please let me know if you have any recommendations or comments on this list.

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§ 28 Responses to My Top 10 Resources for new ACIM students"

  • Tamina says:

    I recently read “Leaving the Desert” by Pauline Edward and I thought it was brilliant, yet down to earth easy read like Gary’s work. It has become my favorite read right after Gary’s books.

  • Chad Moore says:

    Nouk Sanchez and Tomas Vieir are not consistent with the Course. They have a focus on the dream and in effects in the here and now. The Course is uncompromising in its non-duality. Your collection may be politically correct, it is not Course correct, but perhaps that is not your intention. I prefer sticking to the text, and Wapnick when clarity is needed, and with Renard as a nice addition, but certainly not necessary. Good luck.

    • kenbok says:

      Thanks for your input Chad. I do agree that TMTT has elements which are not Course related, eg. Enneagram, but overall I found it very helpful for me in understanding the Course in general, and that's why I included it in this list. I am certainly not trying to be 'politically correct' – I only seek to be helpful, and not to please or pander.

  • robert rosner says:

    CHAD,,,THATS FUNNY , I BOUGHT TMTT on advice from a friend,,,and i also found what you said to be true,,,so i actually stopped reading it,,,and put it in my spiritual drawer,,,,to maybe be read at another time,,,,the ENNEAGRAM PART IN PARTICULAR, got me away from it,,,,BUT i guess at another date, i will have another attitude about it. I also like to stay strictly with THE COURSE. AND YES RENARD AND WAPNICK , do that,,,,WAPNICK'S stuf can either be great, or harder to understand than THE COURSE itself,,,hahahaha,,,but i always respect his intentions

  • Chad Moore says:

    Wapnick writes from a academic level, but it complements the Course, I think. When Jesus gave us the words of the Course, he told us it is a self study course. So we really do not need anything else. I believe if we bring our intention to know the Course to the reading, our guidance will come. That is why I limit my external reading to a small few. I don't think that there is anything more that Renard can say that will be of any great value to my Course studies. Wapnick will live forever as an invaluable aid. He is like the Course, uncompromising in its non-duality, which sets him apart from all the rest. Peace.

  • kenbok says:

    Personally speaking, I would have never had understood the Course if I didn't read DU. Or maybe I would have eventually but DU definitely shortened the time it took me to understand it. And I think that is the experience of many others as well. As someone said about DU – it is a great 'can-opener' and a 'springboard' to our dense blue book, and accordingly, to Wapnick's teachings as well.

    Buddha tells us the story of crossing the river with the raft – once we have crossed, we no longer need it and we discard it. It is the same with Renard, Wapnick and even ACIM itself. The teachings of Renard, Wapnick and Jesus are not special, they are just tools, useful illusions. We will not need them when we have fully identified with Heaven.

    But in that moment of crossing the stream, they are very important indeed! :)

  • robert rosner says:

    yes DISAPPEARANCE OF THE UNIVERSE is a great explainer of ACIM,,,,a GODSEND,,,,after two years of reading arbitrarily from THE COURSE,,,reading wherever it opens,,,,i have started to read the text from the beginning,,,for several months now,,,,slow and as carefully as i can,,,tough,,,but wonderful,,,TRUTH IS TRUE,,,,

  • Marnie says:

    Thanks for your Top 10 Resources, Ken. I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I, too, am a student of ACIM and am a book-hound. Have you read any of Pauline Edwards' books on ACIM? A favourite author of mine has to be D. Patrick Miller. He has such insight and yet never goes to extremes in what he states.

    • Kenneth Bok says:

      Thanks for your kind words Marnie. :) No, I haven't read Pauline Edward – but it is the second time I have been recommended it – I think it's fair to say that is a nudge for me to take a look! I will indeed. I'm a big fan of Patrick Miller too!

  • mike smith says:

    Pauline Edwards 2 books; "Making Peace with God" and "Leaving the Desert" are excellent..HIGHLY recommended.

  • Judy says:

    Thanks for your recomendations Ken. I loved DU and actually worked with Gerald Jampolsky in Attitudinal Healing . His work with children was so loving and simple as is Love is Letting Go of Fear.
    My question-do you have favorite videos? I love the visual learning process.

    • Kenneth Bok says:

      You are most welcome Judy! And thank you for your kind comments on the Lion King article. :) That's cool that you worked with Gerald Jampolsky – he's coming down to London this month and I'm looking forward to meeting him!

      Re: videos – there aren't that many, but my fav by far is 'The Forgotten Song / The Song Remembered' by Bridget Winters – you can watch it online – there's a link on the 'Videos' page. Blessings, Ken

  • Eamonn Perkins says:

    Hi Ken
    Thank you so much for your kindness at the Ireland workshop !
    Re: Books on the course as you are aware I am a great fan of Ken Wapnick I do understand students saying that he is hard to read as is the Course. But when I became aware of my resistance to Truth, and was able not to resist my resistance (which is forgiveness) His writing opened up for me.
    Tom Capenter is also a wonderful author his book on forgiveness is outstanding.

    With Fond Regard
    Eamonn

  • Frank Miller says:

    I’ve read most of the books that Ken has listed and every one of them helped my understanding by presenting the core concepts in a slightly different way until one particular approach really made the concept clear.

    I read Ken Wapnick and his books are dense but valuable and he is a great scholar. But most people new to the course do not know the litigation history concerning the course. Long story short, the original version was about one and a half times longer than the current version and discusses issues like sex, Freudian theory as support of course concepts, etc. Wapnick came along after the dictation and was instrumental in not only editing for clarity but also admits he, along with Helen, edited out certain topics, including the rather lengthy discussion about sex (which Jesus says “is an important topic all course students must understand”) because he didn’t like what he was hearing and decided Helen must have gotten it wrong. The original version is referred to as the “urtext” and is available only because Wapnick sued claiming his organization owned the copy rights but, as any attorney versed in copyright law would tell you, the copyrights belong to the author and since Jesus did not show up at trial Wapnick lost. Prior to losing he also issued cease and desist letters to many of the people running weekly meetings or classes concerning the course and tried to prevent anything related to the course (coffee mugs with slogans from ACIM, etc.) from being produced. Thankfully he lost the copyright case otherwise he would have a lock hold on even websites that offered any non approved ACIM interpretations. So Gary Renaud and others could not have published.

    That being said, I not only read Wapnick but since I live in Southern California I sometimes attend his lectures and classes. But we all have egos, even us students of the course, and every teacher of the course you encounter will present the course filtered through his or her ego. I suggest your read several authors, and all of the ones mentioned here are great. And you can purchase the “urtext” online if you want the verbatim version of what Jesus said.

    In summary, as I think Ken Bok is saying, do not assume any one teacher has a pipeline to Jesus and is necessarily accurate in everything they say. After awhile, certain authors may resonate with you better than others, but be wary of anybody (and you will meet them) who claims a certain author has a “lock” on the true meaning of ACIM.

  • Graham says:

    Hi Thanks for the top ten.K. Wapnick truly comes out tops for me as well as Tara Singh.Tara Singh has more a spiritual approach to the “Course”with such dedication a true teacher along with K. Wapnick.K. Wapnick has more of a academic approach to the “Course”.I found Tara Singh so helpful in getting one off the start line and then I could appreciate K. Wapnick teaching later.Blessing.

    • Ash says:

      I heard Tara Singh speak in the early 1990′s. Mr. Singh came to ACIM late in life after being a devotee of J Krishnamurti and later was told by Helen Schucman to teach the Course. He died in his 90′s just a few years ago. A remarkable man … impeccable would be the best word to describe him … he never commercialized the Course.

  • RA says:

    What about The Way of Mastery? I’ve just started with that and I don’t see it as completely consistent…

  • Gail Johnston says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! You’ve given me direction to gain a deeper understanding of ACIM. Have read your top five and I agree with your assessment. My favorite version is the urtext because I can hear the voice of the Author more clearly…it rings truer on an intuitive level. Hope others will give it a chance knowing that truth is truth…and there is nothing to fear in Truth. Our task is to bring all the Sons of God home at last. Here’s to homecoming!

  • Ash says:

    Have found Wapnick’s audio recordings available of facim.org invaluable. I listen to him daily.

  • Ellen says:

    Curiously, no mention at all of Marianne Williamson. I wonder why. Too commercial? Thanks for the good suggestions and for your work promoting: Peace.

    • kenbok says:

      Hi Ellen, I find that Marianne’s message doesn’t convey the more challenging aspects of ACIM enough: eg. the world being an illusion and the ego in general. But I am deeply appreciative of her work in general.

  • Danny says:

    I just wanted to say that I read the book in 30 days about 14 hours a day word by word without passing by a word which was not cleared if needed to understand fully the concept. I find that the Holy Spirit is the only teacher you need. No more need to search outside for answers.
    I love all the brothers for your comments and peace to all of you.
    One of the most profound statements from the book is, join me in an idea of peace because in ideas minds can communicate. Now imagine the idea of peace as a peaceful circle and place your mind in there with all the fest of us. In that circle let your mind be still because the idea you are in is peace.
    Affinity
    Danny

  • Jack Pendrak says:

    Ken,
    Thank you for your suggested list. I appreciated the thoughtful way you put it together. I too love “The Disappearance of the Universe” but didn’t know about Gary Renards second book which I’m going to read shortly. My question is that I don’t see either of Brent Haskell’s books, “The Other Voice” or “Journey Beyond Words”. Have you read these? If so, what is your opinion on them.
    Sincerely,
    Jack

    • kenbok says:

      Hi Jack – yes I have been recommended Brent’s books after I did this list and briefly looked through them – they look pretty good to me. (This list was done a while back)

  • Alicia says:

    Haskell’s books are really “in your face.” The focus is on experiencing the course, not understanding or learning it. Very basic and approved by Foundation. I find them very helpful. A higher level experience.
    84 year old 20+ years of the Course.

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