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A Course in Miracles Interview & Conference Info!
JA: Beverly, you have done so much for the dissemination of A Course in Miracles. Can you tell our readers a little bit about Miracles Distribution Center (MDC) in Anaheim, CA?
BH-M: MDC was founded in 1978 to serve as a worldwide contact point for people interested in A Course in Miracles. In the very beginning, there was very little known about the Course … there was no Marianne Williamson writing about it and no Oprah talking about it, so we were, for many, their only life-line to this new transformative path. We ran study groups, organized lectures, supplied what little supplemental books and study items available, and organized and kept an active list of study groups around the world.
Now over 30 years later, we are doing much the same thing, so we must have been listening to a higher power when we started the Center! The difference now is that it is just so much more extensive. Our publication The Holy Encounter magazine is such a popular way for students to learn how to integrate and understand the Course in their daily lives; our study group listing encompasses over 2,000 groups around the world; we have a global prayer ministry with a joining time of 4:30p.m. (Pacific Time); our prison project reaches out to help those in need; we have annual conferences in the western and eastern parts of the country and our recorded Center study group meetings keep people connected without even leaving their homes. All of this can be accessed via the Internet at www.miraclecenter.org or by phone at 1-800-359-ACIM (2246)
JA: Why do you think you were drawn to A Course in Miracles as a spiritual path?
BH-M: I have been studying this profound spiritual thought system since 1977, so for over 30 years. When I tell people that, they either think WOW she must be really enlightened or a very slow learner. But, when I have been asked what I have learned in my 30 plus years, my answer is: I am aware… I am aware of when I am not at peace … and those compromises to peace that can so easily creep into our thinking. When I am aware of these compromises to peace and that they are not worthy of me -- that I am entitled to peace here and now -- it's like the tumblers in a lock lining up and I unlock the kingdom that I am entitled to … that we ALL are entitled to.
A Course in Miracles tells us that we don't have to seek for love, for that is already given us, but we must seek for all the blocks we have built up against love's presence. It is time for us to face them and allow them to fall away. When fear is faced with the mighty power of love, fear begins to fall away because it no longer serves a purpose for us. We don't need to attack fear or beat ourselves up for having judgments or doubts, we are simply asked to accept responsibility for them and let love lead the way … as it tells us in the Course, "God's care for me is infinite and is with me forever." He is there to answer our littlest willingness.
JA: Do you have a favorite A Course in Miracles passage or passages?
BH-M: Let me take the long route to answer that one. As you know, A Course in Miracles is a three volume book which addresses universal spiritual themes. The Course does not propose a dogma, but rather an experience. It tells us that a universal theology is impossible but a universal experience is not only possible, but necessary … and, it is this experience toward which the Course is directed. The Course tells us that it is only in our experience that we can find consistency … we will not all agree on terms, since terms, as such, are controversial. If we seek for controversy, we will find it … but, if we seek for clarification, we will find that. The Course has been called a course in spiritual psychotherapy - spiritual mind healing -- meaning that we cannot look outside ourselves to find the healing, peace or salvation we are seeking. It is found within us and within every holy encounter with another.
The Course stresses our peer relationships as our most powerful opportunities for healing. As it says: "Salvation is a collaborative venture," "The ark of peace is entered two by two." And, one of my favorite quotes: "Whenever you meet anyone remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself." (Text pg 142) If we can life that last quote, we are living the Course.
JA: Can you tell our readers a little bit about your weekly A Course in Miracles study group and how they might study along from a distance (as I do)?
BH-M: We started recording our weekly sessions because of people's needs. We are a very busy society … not everyone can go to a weekly meeting: may not have one in their area, can't get out to a meeting or they are just pooped by the end of the day! But with this information age, your study does not have to be sacrificed. By recording our weekly meetings, listeners can experience a Course lecture, meditation and discussion that can help them understand and apply the Course whenever they want to listen by cd or mp3 download (we actually still offer cassettes, too).
The goal of these meetings is to help students learn to integrate the Course into their lives. In our meetings we try to address world issues as well as personal issues from the Course's perspective. We seem to have been successful as we have 1200 listeners a month from all over the world, and we are honored that many have called it their "life-line" to the Course.
If any of your readers are interested, for a limited time, we are offering a free month of recordings online. Just go to www.miraclecenter.org/mp3form.html If you become an ongoing listener, there is also a free online listener board so listeners can continue the conversation after the meetings and support each others growth. It is a very supportive group.
JA: How might you suggest one become familiar with A Course in Miracles? Or what do you think is the best way to get started?
BH-M: There is a booklet entitled, An Introduction to A Course in Miracles that provides a great overview of the Course. It is available through MDC's online catalog. I have also recorded the booklet and it can be downloaded or listened to for free at our website by going to www.miraclecenter.org/about/miracles.html Or if you want to just dig in, I would suggest that you read the introductions to each volume of the Course: text , workbook and manual for teachers (each section is no more than a page and a half). These intros give you a feel for the intent of the Course. Then I would suggest starting the lessons (only one lesson a day) and read a section in the text or manual. Lesson one does not correlate with chapter one in the text, so take your time as you read through the text. Actually the manual for teachers is a good place to start reading because it explains some question students often have and it defines terms (and it is only about 90 pages). But whether you start reading the text or manual first, make sure you start your lessons and stick to them whether you think you understand them or if you think it is working. It IS working, so don't get caught in having to understand thoroughly every lesson, for each lesson build on the next lesson. The lessons are the experience and the text is the Course's basic theoretical understanding: knowledge without application makes no real difference in your life, and applying what you don't understand makes no sense. That's why the balance of the two (the knowledge of the text and experience of the workbook) makes the Course such an incredible, all-encompassing system of awakening.
JA: Is there anything else that you would like to share about A Course in Miracles or Miracle Distribution Center?
BH-M: Just that I invite readers to find out more about the Course and MDC at our website: www.miraclecentr.org and sign up to receive our free magazine The Holy Encounter. This magazine has become a wonderful resource for students of the Course by providing inspirational and educational articles as well as the most current happenings on the Course. We also have a couple of weekend workshops on the Course coming up. On April 3-4, 2009, I will be in Washington, DC and August 29-30, 2009, we will have our annual international conference on the Course in Irvine, CA. I hope everyone will join us. You will find the information here: www.miraclecenter.org/events.html Thank you so much, Jeanine, for your work and for allowing me to share with you and your readers. (Post Script: The conference this year is in Irvine, CA August 11 & 12.)
JA: Thank you so much for sharing with us and taking the time to be apart of this newsletter. I know some of our readers will recognize you from The Alma Answers: 21 Sacred Soul Steps to Divine Solutions. Thank you for being such a source of inspiration to me and all who come into contact with you.
Beverly Hutchinson McNeff is an international lecturer and author on A Course in Miracles. A student of the Course since 1977, she founded Miracle Distribution Center (MDC) in 1978. Next to the Course’s publisher, MDC is the longest running organization based on the Course.