Levitating Monkey: How did you first get interested in A Course in Miracles?
Jon Mundy: I was introduced to A Course in Miracles by its scribe Dr. Helen Schucman. I met Helen and her associate Dr. William Thetford in 1973 when they came to a lecture I was giving on Mysticism at a conference sponsored by Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship in Chicago, IL. A year later, Bill saw a letter I had published in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology in which I expressed interest in being in contact with anyone working in the field of Spirituality and Psychotherapy. Bill told Helen he thought my letter was a call for her to complete the scribing for Psychotherapy, Purpose, Process and Practice, a pamphlet which came from the same source as the Course. Helen agreed, finished the pamphlet and called me in April 1975 to say she had something for me. I had no idea what she was talking about, but I agreed to meet with her, Dr. Thetford and Dr. Ken Wapnick in Ken’s tiny little studio apartment on East 17th St, in NYC.
I went over the next Sunday evening. Helen sat on Ken’s daybed, told me about the Course, how it came into existence and how it affected the others who were there in the room. She then gave me the manuscript of the Psychotherapy Pamphlet. I walked home that evening with the pamphlet under my arm, thinking that probably the most important thing which had ever happened to me had just happened, yet I had no idea what it was. After that, Ken and I became friends and Helen became my informal therapist.
Levitating Monkey: Can you explain the essential teachings of ACIM (A Course in Miracles) to our readers?
Jon Mundy: There is nothing new in the Course. The fact that it is explained within the context of modern 20th and 21st Century psychology makes it sound new. Much of the same thing that is being said in the Course was already described in Eastern Philosophy, in a variety of esoteric and mystical philosophies, and by the works of by Dr. Sigmund Freud (1856-1949). Freud got it right. He figured out how the ego works. Problem was, Freud thought the ego was a real thing. If he had studied Eastern Philosophy, perhaps he would have realized that the ego is in fact a misnomer.
Imagine for just a moment that we are all possessed by something which has taken control of our minds. That “thing” is identified in the Course, in Eastern Philosophy and modern Psychology as the ego. The Course is trying to help us learn how to “dis-identify” with the ego and accept our true reality as Spirit, the only thing which is eternal and everlasting. As it is, the ego has a mighty hold on the psyche of mankind – just look around.
Levitating Monkey: In your book, Living A Course in Miracles, rather than teach the meaning of love, you focus on how we can remove the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, can you share a bit more about that and how it is far more important to work on the reasons that prevent us from experiencing this state in every moment?
Jon Mundy: The truth is and always has been available to everyone. As the Course expresses it, “Everyone already knows.” It’s not that we don’t know the truth; we don’t “experience” the truth because we are so deeply caught in ego thinking that the truth has been covered over by illusion. That lie (illusion) is that we are egos caught in bodies in space/time. Ultimately, you are not a body. All bodies die – disappear. Spirit cannot die or disappear though it can be temporarily forgotten by being caught in the egos “dreaming of the world.” The Course is a course in “mind training.” We are literally learning how to think in a wholly new way. We are learning how to think in like with the Mind of God. Here is the basic problem – we are projectors rather than receptors. We constantly make up the world we perceive by believing in it. Once we can stop projection, then we have an opportunity to see things the way they really are. The Course thus repeatedly talks about engaging in a “reversal in thinking” which gives us this new “sight.”
Levitating Monkey: In this work, you talk a great deal about the practice of forgiveness. We forgive because we know that the self and the other are both wholly innocent, and in so doing, we return to our true nature – which is unity and wholeness. Although this is understandable in theory, it’s hard to remain constant with the practice. Can you provide any pointers we can use in our daily lives to maintain an active practice of forgiveness?
Jon Mundy: It is hard to practice, which is why we need constant reminders of the truth. One of the things which make the Course unique as a teaching tool is the workbook with its 365 daily lessons. We do one lesson a day as a means of slowly turning our heads away from being projectors to being receptors for the Voice for God, identified in the Course as the Holy Spirit. Once I can do what the Holy Spirit is asking me to do, lots of things clear up along the way. I let other people be who they are (forgive them for what I think they did to me). By not projecting anything on to the world, lots of problems can clear up along the way.
Levitating Monkey: As an author of nine books, lecturer, and the publisher, what lead you to begin Interfaith Inc., in New York City in 1977, and co-founding the New Seminary for Interfaith Ministers in 1981?
Jon Mundy: I grew up on a farm in Missouri during the 1940’s and 50’s, an only son with a younger sister. I spent a lot of time alone as a kid hunting in the woods. One day while hunting I had a profound experience. There is something you do when you hunt which we called, “freezing.” You walk into the woods, stand very still (you freeze). One day while freezing, I decided to play a game. I pretended that I did not exist. There was no hunter hunting, there was no thinker thinking and then suddenly – I did not exist, yet “something” was having this experience. From then on I wanted to know what that “something” was. The only place talking about “the beyond” for a Missouri farm boy was the church, so I got involved and became a minister when I was very young. I completed my masters in theology in 1967 and came to NY to begin doctoral studies at the New School University.
I proposed a course to the New School on “Esoteric and Mystical Philosophies,” and they accepted my proposal. I then planned a class, which included a week on the Kabbalah. I knew nothing about the Kabbalah, but a friend knew of Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, an expert on the Kabbalah. I got the Rabbi, who later became something of my spiritual father – to come give a lecture to my class and Rabbi, in 1981, persuaded me to help him found the New Seminary for the training of Interfaith Ministers. It made ultimate sense and I was happy to help him. I stepped aside to concentrate on teaching the Course. When the Rabbi died in 2010, I was asked to come back as the director.
Levitating Monkey: In your book, Missouri Mystic, you write poetically, “The acceptance of death brings an incredible awareness. And…an unexpected manifestation of intense compassion. Tears come to my eyes and love in all its glory intoxicates my heart.” Truer words have never been spoken, although it is hard to maintain that awareness in our day-to-day, as we get caught up in maya and materialism. Can you provide any advice to those just beginning to actively embark on the journey of spiritualism and how we can continue to maintain that deep spiritual connection?
Jon Mundy: A, start and B, don’t stop. If you’re a sincere seeker – and we all are deep inside, an alchemical thing will happen inside – if you will feed it, a slow cooking kind of a thing, a turning over and over of thought and with that, there comes a kind of polishing, a burning off of the sloth of unconsciousness and an ever deeper growing awareness. Everything is about relationships and about being in love with everyone we meet along the path – that is who Jesus was and is.
Levitating Monkey: A Course in Miracles makes no claims to being the only form of truth, or that it is the only spiritual path. What it does focus on is a radical paradigm shift – not in how we live in the world, but in how we see the world. The content of the book focuses on the root cause of suffering – the illusory sense of separation from God. Can you describe this separation and the search for nonduality or advaita vedanta that spiritual seekers are on a quest for and how one goes about getting closer to this one Truth?
Jon Mundy: When you think about it, there can only be One God, One Truth, One Home, One Love.
At the same time, this world is filled with many different people with a tremendous range of temperaments and personalities. God knows that we are all his children and that we will all return home – actually we already have. That is why what is primarily called for is – Memory — Remembering or a word I like better is “Re-cognizing,” that is coming to know what we already know. Everyone knows the truth, we’re just hiding out behind a mask, (literally),and pretending that we don’t know. The mask, the persona, is not the truth and we all know it. God is the truth and we already know that as well – if we are willing to admit it. Admitting it means letting God have his way with us. Put simply: Your life is none of your business. Your Life is God’s Business. The sooner you turn it over the happier you will be.
Levitating Monkey: A Course in Miracles teaches that our relationships offer us unique and valuable opportunities for learning, awakening and healing. The Course offers a variety of approaches for forgiveness, of both ourselves, and of others. Forgiveness shows us only the extensions of love or the calls for love, not the attack or hate. By changing our perception in this way, we can remove the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which the Course says is our natural inheritance. Can you share a personal story of this dynamic in action?
Jon Mundy: I once counseled an unhappy, young woman who was having trouble forgiving a young man who had jilted her. In an attempt to comfort her, I reassured her that someday she would forgive him. I added that, if she wanted to, she could even forgive him now. Almost instantly, her face relaxed. She became pensive and calm. She realized that, indeed someday she would forgive him—so why not now? It is rare that you see a miracle happen so quickly! She left my office as a much happier young woman, saying that she did not need any more counseling. They never dated again. They each eventually married different people and they became lifelong friends.
Levitating Monkey: I have read that a goal of A Course in Miracles is to train us to hear God’s voice. We are guided to discover our own God-given function. As we are led from the world of the ego to the world of love, our perception of ourselves as separated persons is corrected, and we remember our higher, or true Self. Can you share with us how we go about maintaining that God-connection in our day to day, as it becomes hard at times to remember that unity?
Jon Mundy: Everybody, absolutely everybody is our brother and or sister. We very literally are one – not as bodies but as Mind. This idea is very scary to the ego and very liberating to Spirit. On eight different occasions the Course says, “Minds can join, bodies cannot.” Dr. Ken Wapnick, the first teacher of A Course in Miracles, and the most deeply spiritual and truly remarkable man I ever met died recently. Ken either reached perfection or got as close as anyone I ever met. He very literally loved everyone – even those who would have found fault with him.
At the same time that Ken taught the Course, he also grew in the Course. A friend once told me that when he started going to Alcoholics Anonymous, someone told him that the program would mess up his drinking big time. In other words, if he stuck with the program, he would stop drinking. Stick with the Course and it will mess up the ego big time. We are going for nothing less than enlightenment. The Course is designed to take us all the way home again to God. The Course says that, if you want to know the truth, teach the truth or “teach only love, for that is what you are.” The more we teach love, the more we find out that we are love.
Levitating Monkey: In closing, are there any parting words of wisdom you’d like to share with our readers as we get ready to embark on a new year?
Jon Mundy: No one has to do the Course, if you do decide to do it – do it all the way and you’ll find that it works. The Course is not for everyone but if you really do it, it will transform your life for better – for sure.
About Jon Mundy, Ph.D.
Jon Mundy is a former university professor, having taught courses in philosophy, religion and psychology at The New School University, Mercy College and Marist College in New York. He is the publisher of Miracles Magazine and the author of several books based on A Course in Miracles including Awaken to Your Own Call, Listening to Your Inner Guide and his latest, Living A Course in Miracles. Jon enjoyed a close relationship with Dr. Helen Schucman, scribe of A Course in Miracles, in the final years of her life.
For more information on A Course in Miracles as well as upcoming events, please visit Jon’s site at http://www.miraclesmagazine.org