The (Eventually) Happy Learner

(Here’s another excerpt from my most recent collection of acim forgiveness essays, Forgiveness: the Key to Happiness—hope you enjoy!)

The proverbial battlefield still smoldered above strewn, severed limbs as tangled as a Picasso painting, the sun a distant orb obscured by the bitter ash of betrayal. I lay writhing in pain in the middle of it all, apparently with just enough Hollywood strength left to wrest myself free from the bloodied, muddied carnage, grab a tattered, still mostly white cloth, and wave it in the air. The score rose in a final, Rococo crescendo as I staggered to my feet, coughing, the camera slowly panning out, house lights rising to reveal a lone robed and bearded figure seated out there in the viewing room, bringing his palms together in polite applause.

It took me a moment or two to fully grasp once more that it was only a movie I’d gotten lost in again, but another DVD excavated from my cavernous library of morality plays. This one, like all the others, designed in one way or another to prove Susan the victim of circumstances beyond her control. Beleaguered survivor in a field of devastation, the dubious story that I exist apart from uninterrupted wholeness but it’s not my fault, it’s theirs. You know, the ones who’d so cruelly thwarted me, the ones I’d made pay so dearly for it. Only the taste of victory was no longer even remotely sweet.

Consumed with horror, guilt, and downright shock that I had this much wrath still left in me after so many hours in the forgiveness classroom, I sighed, again disgusted with my little s self. This was getting really exhausting. As the credits rolled, I stumbled back out into the theatre still wagging that soiled white flag, dropped to the floor into devotional pose, and lay the emblem of my surrender at his sandaled feet.

“Hey,” I said, forehead still pressed against the carpet to the unmistakable tune of his gentle laughter.

I could hear him clearing his throat, the familiar sound of him trying to act serious, to meet me in the condition I think I’m in, so to speak, no small feat.

“Popcorn?” he said, brightly, tapping me on the shoulder and offering me a half-eaten bucket. Or was it half full?

I got up, dusted myself off, and slipped back into the chair beside him where I belonged.

“I know what you’re thinking,” I said.

“You always do.”


He smiled. “Eventually, at least,” he said.

He had a point, he always did. “‘You who are steadfastly devoted to misery must first recognize that you are miserable and not happy,’” I said, quoting from the first paragraph of The Happy Learner in A Course in Miracles Chapter 14. “‘The Holy Spirit cannot teach without this contrast for you believe that misery is happiness.’”

“Couldn’t have said it better myself,” he said.

“Ha! The thing is; I thought I passed that test a long time ago, right? Look it up in your records.  I know misery when I feel it. I’ve tasted the real happiness of your way of seeing. I can tell the difference. I really do know that choosing you as my inner teacher brings peace and choosing that other smarmy bastard brings pain. But there still doesn’t always seem to be a choice, you know what I’m saying? I mean, Jesus, it happens so freaking quickly.”

“Go on,” he said.

But where to begin? In the past week, a series of (in retrospect really quite minor) dramas with a couple of other costars in seeming, rapid, mind-boggling succession appeared to have rocked my world to the point that I found myself once more in full fight-or-flight mode, completely rooted in the fox hole of a primal brain, unable to resist feeling justified in defending myself based on the overwhelming conviction that I was right and had every right to prove it.

Not even the déjà vu-like awareness that I had played this role with these same costars one too many times with the same tragic, guilt-nourishing results could stop me from rushing out onto the battlefield in an effort to establish my territory once and for all. Only this time, as soon as the explosion of anger dissipated, it immediately gave way to a guilt more seemingly bottomless than anything I had heretofore experienced (which is saying quite a lot!), without so much  as a pause in between  in which to savor a nanosecond of self-congratulatory triumph.

“So what you’re really saying is I must exhaust my belief in the possibility that identifying with, let alone defending, any personal interest however seemingly justified will bring me anything but excruciating pain? And that my only choice when I catch myself doing so is to forgive myself. Recognizing that although I have made some real progress in at least associating the cause of my suffering or happiness with my choice of inner teacher, my mind is still split. My decision-making mind is still terrified of returning to the seeming cause of the split, the belief that the “tiny, mad idea” of separation from seamless union with our one and only source had real effects. While still captivated by the possibility that the self I still see in the mirror has anything to win or lose from anyone or anything else seemingly ‘out there’ in the many movies of my own making. It’s like you say later in that same paragraph:

‘Have faith in nothing and you will find the “treasure” that you seek. … A little piece of glass, a speck of dust, a body or a war are one to you. For if you value one thing made of nothing, you have believed that nothing can be precious, and that you can learn how to make the untrue true.’

I’ve just been making a big to do about nothing again, is what you’re really saying. Not because I’m daft, just because I’m so afraid of giving up on finding love within the nothingness of my dream of exile, and looking for it where it can be found in you. I just need to stop beating myself up about the ultimate nothingness of still having an ego, and bring even my most shameful ego attacks to you to be unlearned together.”

He nodded.

“So the way to become a happy learner is to look with you at how much a part of me still doesn’t want to learn this Course, at least not in every circumstance, at least not with those that most push my buttons. To see the part of me that wants to be an unhappy learner and forgive it. To catch without judgment my mistaking the role I’m playing on the screen for reality again, and drag myself back to this seat to watch the movie I made with you.”

He just continued to smile.

“Well, I guess that’s a wrap, then,” I said. “I’m so glad we had this little talk.”

“Always a pleasure.”

I grabbed the popcorn. “I am so going to ace this Course!”

His brows shot up and down the way they do.

“Eventually, at least.”

He threw back his head and laughed.

I had to laugh, too.

“… Learn to be a happy learner. You will never learn how to make nothing everything. Yet see that this has been your goal, and recognize how foolish it has been. Be glad it is undone, for when you look at it in simple honestly, it is undone. I said before, ‘Be not content with nothing,’ for you have believed that nothing could content you. It is not so.

If you would be a happy learner, you must get everything you have learned to the Holy Spirit to be unlearned for you. And then begin to learn the joyous lessons that come quickly on the firm foundation that truth is true. …” (From paragraphs 5 and 6)

Foundation for A Course in Miracles Announcements

Latest Book

A Symphony of Love is an compilation of selected writings of Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, including autobiographies, poetry, short stories, and articles. 

Programs through December 2017

Please view our latest Temecula Schedule page   to see the Seminars and Academy classes, including Live Streaming of the classes, currently scheduled through December 2017.

(You can register for upcoming live and streamed classes taught by the amazingly gifted Foundation for A Course in Miracles teaching staff; who continue to communicate Ken’s work with such clarity and grace, here: I really can’t recommend these classes more highly! Rosemarie LoSasso and Jeff Seibert continue to gently encourage us to bring the darkness of all we’ve dreamt up to hurt us (whenever we’re choosing to feel victimized and justified in victimizing others) to the light of the part of every mind that knows only our shared innocence and need to find our way home. Their classes offer us a safe, non-judgmental “space” above the battleground in which to allow the healing of our frightened minds. (And often laugh a lot, too! 🙂 Check out my recent interviews with facim teachers Rosemarie LoSasso and Jeff Seibert

New Audio Release

The Foundation is pleased to offer a previously unreleased audio title by Dr. Kenneth Wapnick. This five-CD set entitled “There is a Light in You the World Can Not Perceive,” which was recorded in 2010, is also available as an MP3 Download.

MP3-CDs To Be Discontinued

The Foundation is discontinuing production of audio titles in MP3 CD format. The seventh grouping of MP3 CD titles, which is available through June 4, 2017 only, can be viewed here. These titles are also available at a 40% discount. Please note that all orders containing MP3-CDS will be shipped the first week of June.

We are continuing to clear out the warehouse of all printed books as we make the transition to electronic books. After the current supply of books is sold, the books will not be reprinted, and will be available only in digital download format.

You may view all of the books currently on sale here. Please note that some orders may take up to two weeks to ship after the order is received.

­­­The Message of A Course in Miracles—Volume 1: All Are Called; Volume 2: Few Choose to Listen, Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
ON SALE: Regular price: $25.00  Sale Price: $8.00 (contains two separate paperback books)


The Message of A Course in Miracles is a two-part work, the purpose of which is to provide a comprehensive overview of the teachings of A Course in Miracles, with discussion and guidelines on how to avoid some common misconceptions of these teachings. Volume One, All Are Called, could indeed carry the subtitle, “What A Course in Miracles Says,” while Volume Two, Few Choose to Listen, could be subtitled “What A Course in Miracles Does Not Say.” The focus of the first volume is therefore on what the Course actually teaches, while the sequel focuses on the ways in which students have misunderstood A Course in Miracles, not only believing it is teaching something it is not, but also denying what its message truly is.

The first book provides students somewhat acquainted with the teachings of A Course in Miracles with a summary which will help meet their needs for an in-depth presentation of the Course’s principles, including a discussion of the practical implications of these principles with regard to religious and spiritual practice, and ethical, moral, and behavioral issues.

The purpose of Few Choose to Listen, as stated in the Introduction is “to guide students in how to avoid certain potential mistakes or confusions as they read, study, and implement into their daily lives the teachings of A Course in Miracles. Such sidestepping of errors will, it is hoped, be of help in clearing the way for the student to be more accessible to the Holy Spirit’s ‘particular care and guidance’ (M-29.2:6).”

Last month the Foundation announced publication of a previously unreleased audio title by Dr. Kenneth Wapnick. This three-CD set recorded in 2012 is entitled “Future loss is not your fear. But present joining is your dread.” and is also available as an MP3 Download.


The Interviews page on my forays website been revised to make it easier to find and access interviews with Ken Wapnick and others including Gloria Wapnick, and FACIM staff teachers. These interviews provide a wealth of practical information about learning to live a truly forgiving life, as well as some history of the Foundation for A Course in Miracles.

In this RECENT VIDEO, my friend and fellow Course student Danielle Scruton and I discuss how to weather the ego’s “backlash.” 

In this RECENT VIDEO, my friend and fellow Course student Danielle Scruton and I discuss changing the purpose of romantic partnerships/marriage from specialness bargains to classrooms for learning to accept the atonement for ourselves

In this RECENT VIDEO, my friend and fellow Course student Danielle Scruton and I discuss how recognizing our neediness in our relationships can help us learn to become needless and discover our only real purpose and need.

In this RECENT VIDEO, friend and fellow Course student and teacher Bruce Rawles and I discuss what it means to “accept the atonement for myself,” as talked about in A Course in Miracles Chapter 2 and workbook lesson 139.

In this RECENT VIDEO, Bruce Rawles and I talk about the challenges of trying to practice A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 330: “I will not hurt myself again today.”

In this NEW AUDIO CA Brooks, 12Radio, and I discuss workbook lesson 2:

  In this RECENT AUDIO CA Brooks, 12Radio, and I discuss A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 41: “God goes with me wherever I go,” and why this is a good thing! 🙂

In this RECENT AUDIO, CA Brooks, 12Radio, and I talk about A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 186: “Salvation of the world depends on me.” (And thank God it’s not the “me” we think it is! :))

RECENT AUDIO, CA Brooks, 12Radio, and I discuss A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 190: “I choose the joy of God instead of pain.”

In this RECENT AUDIO recording of a show I did with CA Brooks, 12Radio, we review the practice of forgiveness through A Course in Miracles workbook lessons 5 and 34

MY LATEST BOOK, FORGIVENESS: THE KEY TO HAPPINESS,, along with my second book in the forgiveness essay collection series, FORGIVENESS OFFERS EVERYTHING I WANT:  are currently DISCOUNTED on Amazon.

Schedule individual MENTORING sessions with Susan Dugan here:  Although A Course in Miracles is clearly a self-study program and the one relationship we are truly cultivating is with our eternally sane and loving right mind, mentoring can help remind Course students having trouble applying its unique forgiveness in the classroom of their lives that the problem and the solution never lie in the difficult relationship, situation, behavior, health issue, etc., but in the decision-making mind. In every circumstance, without exception, we can choose to experience inner peace and kindness toward all, unaffected by the seemingly random strife of a world designed to prove otherwise. By choosing to look at our lives as a classroom in which we bring all our painful illusions to the inner teacher of forgiveness who knows only our shared innocence beyond all its deceptive disguises, we learn to identify and transcend the ego’s resistance, hold others and even ourselves harmless, and gently allow our split mind to heal. 

Susan’s mentoring sessions provide valuable support in our forgiveness practice from a Course student and teacher deeply committed to awakening through learning and living true forgiveness. While keenly aware of our resistance to Jesus’ loving message from first-hand experience, she remains faithful to opening her heart to the Course’s universal answer for all frightened hearts and to sharing her ongoing learning and growing trust with kindred faithful, but sometimes frightened and confused, fellow students.

Sessions are conducted via traditional phone or Skype (your choice). Please contact me to find out if mentoring is right for you before submitting a payment. (No one is ever turned away for lack of ability to pay!)


Here’s a recording I did with CA Brooks, 12Radio, in which we talk about the importance of catching our unkind thoughts and judgments and looking at them with the part of our mind that sees no differences and makes no comparisons … even while watching the news!

A recording on Changing the Purpose of the Body from Prison to Classroom:, and another on what it means to go “above the battleground” (ACIM Text 23, Section IV)

And a recording in which we talk about ACIM workbook lesson 101: “God’s will for me is perfect happiness” and 102: “I share God’s will for happiness for me.”  You’d think we’d like to hear that God’s will for us is perfect happiness, but we can’t possibly believe that and also believe we attacked God and threw his love away.  Following our inner Teacher’s path of true forgiveness begins to dissolve the guilt in our mind, teaching us that it was just silly to believe we could oppose God’s will and create a separate one. Allowing us to gradually accept that we deserve the happiness we share within God’s presence and could never really destroy.


Here’s a video I did with Bruce Rawles on sharing perception with the Holy Spirit:

Here’s a talk I did with Bruce Rawles on Section 16 of The Manual for Teachers: “How Should the Teacher of God Spend His Day.”

In this VIDEO, Bruce Rawles and I discuss A Course in Miracles lesson 190: “I choose the joy of God instead of pain.”


The Denver-based School for A Course in Miracles (formerly the School of Reason), an A Course-in-Miracles offers great new and ongoing classes based on Ken Wapnick’s teachings.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Center for A Course in Miracles, is an educational Center whose focus is to teach what A Course in Miracles says, address common misunderstandings, and help students develop a relationship with their internal Teacher, inspired and guided by the teachings of the late Dr. Kenneth Wapnick.

In this video Bruce Rawles and I discuss themes from my most recent book, Forgiveness: The Key to Happiness: 

My good friend and fellow Course student, teacher, and author Bruce Rawles frequently invites me to chat with him on YouTube about the Course and Ken Wapnick’s teachings. He continues to compile lots of great ACIM information well worth checking out at

My good friend and gifted A Course in Miracles teacher and writer Bernard Groom has been posting beautifully written, heartfelt essays about living A Course in Miracles for years at Bernard lives and teaches in France with his dear wife Patricia. You’ll find a wealth of information in French on his website including recorded talks available for purchase or free download.


  1. Another excellent essay! Thank you very much for sharing.

  2. Thanks so much, David!

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