Dare to Be Happy
By Daniel Tipton*

The Transformation of a Student of ACIM

Section 4 of A Course in Miracles ~ Manual for Teachers describes the characteristics of God's teachers - that is, who we all inevitably become with the study of ACIM. The first characteristic is Trust. Under this sub-heading, a process is described that struck me because it seemed quite familiar to my own path. Since I've begun this study, I have realized a personal undoing and unfolding. I will relate what is said to my own experience.

Stage 1: "a period of undoing"

"First, they must go through what might be called 'a period of undoing.' This need not be painful, but it usually is so experienced. It seems as if things are being taken away, and it is rarely understood initially that their lack of value is merely being recognized." ACIM OrEd.Mn.4.5*


Prior to starting my study of ACIM, I had been in a not so healthy relationship for nearly five years. I knew it was not right for me yet I was too afraid to get out. I give ACIM credit for helping me have the courage to seriously question what I was doing. Three months into my study, I had a break-down one day. Things with my ex were really starting to bother me and I was literally on my knees at one point desperately asking God "what is going on?" and saying "this does not seem right but I don't know what to do." A week later, something drove me, as if I were being pushed, but I wasn't in fear, to tell her that we needed to end the relationship. It seemed fairly easy at first yet what followed was a period of painful, yet eye-opening self reflection.


What ACIM helped me with here was the realization that I don't perceive my own best interests. It taught me that I must come from a place of questioning and not knowing. Furthermore, it helped we realize the powerful enchanting ability of my own ego. Something from my early study gave me a knowing of what had to be done. It was what I needed in order to finally have the courage to undo a major part of my life. There have been other parts of my life that I've been undoing, but this was one of the first and perhaps the most significant to this point.


Stage 2: "a period of sorting out"

"Next, the teacher of God must go through a 'period of sorting-out.' This is always somewhat difficult because, having learned that the changes in his life are always helpful, he must now decide all things on the basis of whether they increase the helpfulness or hamper it." ACIM OrEd.Mn.4.6


This is certainly familiar to me. Over the last few years I've been trying to sort out what I would call the "big three": my relationship with my parents, my approach to relationships in general, and my occupation. ACIM has encouraged me to look hard at all of these and ask, "What is my purpose here?" or "What would God have me do here?" In the process, I've gained a lot of clarity on what I'm looking for in relationships and I'm starting to find the things in people that bring about holy relationships.   


I've also quit my career in food manufacturing and started one in Counseling. I believe Counseling will allow me to be maximally helpful while providing an income and fulfillment. My relationship with my parents has been tricky, but as I look back, I am not in nearly as much fear as I once was. I feel I'm at least following guidance a bit more. Change has definitely been the theme.

Stage 3: “a period of relinquishment”

“The third stage through which the teachers of God must go can be called a ‘period of relinquishment.’ If this is interpreted as giving up the desirable, it will engender enormous conflict. Few teachers of God escape this distress entirely. There is, however, no point in sorting out the valuable from the valueless unless the next obvious step is taken. The third step is rarely if ever begun until the second is complete. Therefore, the period of overlap is apt to be one in which the teacher of God feels called upon to sacrifice his own best interests on behalf of truth. He has not realized as yet how wholly impossible such a demand would be. He can learn this only as he actually does give up the valueless. Through this he learns that where he anticipated grief, he finds a happy light-heartedness instead; where he thought something was asked of him, he finds a gift bestowed on him.” ACIM OrEd.Mn.4.7

I relate to this as a stage of establishing discipline. While I have become more disciplined in my spiritual practice (meditation, doing the lessons), I sometimes still perceive it as a burden. At times, I have experienced the benefits of diligent practice, yet I still allow myself to fall into periods of laziness or ego-driven thoughts and actions. We all give in to the ego but most of the time I am aware of it. The thing is, if I'm aware of it, why don't I stop myself? That is the big question. It is because I perceive this relinquishment as a conflict or a sacrifice. Even, when I know the truth, I still allow myself to give in to insane thoughts. This is something that requires trust. Trust is what I must seek to grow.

Stage 4: “a period of settling down”

“Now comes a "period of settling down." This is a quiet time in which the teacher of God rests a while in reasonable peace. Now he consolidates his learning. Now he begins to see the transfer value of what he has learned. Its potential is literally staggering, and the teacher of God is now at the point in his progress at which he sees in it his whole way out.” ACIM OrEd.Mn.4.8

I'm not sure if I'm quite there yet. I don't feel very settled sometimes. I feel like I'm just starting over but I can envision myself in a state of relative peace as my work comes a little more into fruition. I think I'm beginning to consolidate my learning. Early in my study, my “ah-hah” moments were occurring all of the time. The shifts in thinking were indeed staggering. I called that period the honeymoon and now I'm in a stage that a good friend called “deciding who takes out the trash.” I feel I am still settling down. The life changes I have made have allowed me some necessary peace of mind, but this does feel like a time of reflection.

Stage 5: “a period of unsettling”

“And now he must attain a state that may remain impossible for a long, long time. He must learn to lay all judgment aside and ask only what he really wants in every circumstance. Were not each step in this direction so heavily reinforced, it would be hard indeed!” ACIM OrEd.Mn.4.9

The path is now laid before me and I can begin a new journey. Perhaps this means that after a period of undoing and rest I can finally start the real experience since my mind has been cleared of a bunch of accumulated junk. I believe ACIM is refocusing and purifying our minds so that we can recognize what we really want as we advance down a new path. To attain this “state”, it certainly makes sense that I would first need to clean house. I hope that my life takes me to the place where I can walk this path to a state that hopefully in not too much of a “long, long” ways off.

Stage 6: “a period of achievement”

“And finally, there is a "period of achievement." It is here that learning is consolidated. Now what was seen as merely shadows before becomes solid gains, to be counted on in all "emergencies" as well as tranquil times. Indeed, the tranquility is their result—the outcome of honest learning, consistency of thought, and full transfer. This is the stage of real peace, for here is Heaven's state fully reflected. From here the way to Heaven is open and easy. In fact, it is here. Who would "go" anywhere if peace of mind is already complete? And who would seek to change tranquility for something more desirable? What could be more desirable than this?” ACIM OrEd.Mn.4.10

There is not much I can say here. It sounds quite lovely, doesn't it? Indeed, what could be more desirable than this? This is what I seek. This is all I need to motivate me to continue my study every day.



ACIM Original Edition NOTATION:

OrEd.Tx.6.24 – Original Edition, Text, Chapter 6, paragraph 24

OrEd.WkBk.186.4 – Original Edition, Workbook, Lesson 186, paragraph 4

OrEd.Mn.13.7 Original Edition, Manual, Section 13, paragraph 7

*Daniel Tipton resides in Omaha, NE and is a member of the Course in Miracles Society. He is in his second year of the 2 year ACIM Ministerial Program offered by the Community Miracles Center and he is one of the founding members of the new Miracle Cell Men's Team. Daniel
attended theDaniel Tipton 2011 Annual ACIM Conference in San Francisco and is currently working on a masters degree in Counseling at UNO. He will be assisting at the 2013 ACIM Conference which will be held in Chicago. More Conference Information here

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