Even more important than learning on the Way is unlearning, which precedes it and makes the "soil" fertile for the growth of new ideas. So, most must begin by unlearning.
This is because there are a plethora of false and illusory paths in spirituality-- systems of illusion made more complex by intellect.
Usually, upon discovering the Power of Mind, one labors under the misconception that she has made a "brand new" and very exciting discovery! She is often unaware that this path, which teaches that the conscious mind can do anything, has been suggested thousands of times, and deeply and thoroughly explored. It has been embraced and practiced, often to the very end, when people discovered-- always to their amazement and astonishment-- that it did not work; in the end, it is a "fairy-tale" of desperately "wishful thinking." These schools of metaphysics have been around since the time of ancient India.
Many of these systems rely on the claim to literal historicity of the Gospels. If Jesus performed those wonderful "tricks," it must have been because he had found some kind of "secret," as in a special affirmation. But if these are allegorical or symbolic tales, then the actions of Jesus, within them, were also symbolic.
This is the case with several "godmen" stories from ancient times. In fact, Christianity is unique in that, in its fundy forms, at least, it insists that the Gospels are literal histories. This is very popular, and is how the tales are presented, for example, in popular theater and popular literature. But today, many educated scholars agree with the famous Dr. Carl Jung (died 1961), who thought all the Gospel accounts to be allegorical. (This means that they represented events within every spiritual life, including yours.)
Historically, a number of cults have arisen based on the idea that the Gospels were literal history. These include, famously, the Christian Science cult and its "spinoffs," including the modern cult based upon A Course in Miracles. (Btw, this book is dramatically over-named, guilty of false advertising. It is NOT a "course in miracles," as that word is generally understood in popular usage.)
Happily, a "cult" is a fairly clearly defined nomenclature among sociologists. It is a cohesive social group, large or small, in which beliefs and actions of members are controlled strictly by a book, or a leader, or both. The right to independent thinking is taken away, and the dogma of the leader/book replaces it. The book/leader is regarded as infallible, unquestionable, and inerrant. No one who has followed the sociology of recent religion can possibly deny that some ACIM groups do
fall within this definition. People often balk at the word "cult," but it is not necessarily an "attack-word," but rather a convenient sociological term, no more.
Agreed that it is better to avoid cults or cultlike groups, and turn our attention to the "tried and true" megasystems that have proved themselves over millennia! We of the Love-tradition are deeply rooted in such venerable traditions as Taoism, Zen, Buddhism, Christianity, and others. You cannot go far wrong when studying and following the spiritual "giants" of history.
You are not alone in discovering that the cosmos will "force" all of us, however gently, into a position of absolute trust (faith). Faith is not a state that we are capable of generating ourselves. If a mad murderer said that he was going to shoot you in the head if you did not believe that the moon was made of green cheese, no matter how desperately you wanted to believe, you could not force "faith" in the ludicrous statement. Instead, faith must grow, gradually through knowledge, experience, and wisdom. People who "grunt and groan," trying to force faith to grow in themselves, through suggestion or autohypnosis, are destined to disappointment. In the end, faith is not something that we can "get" or "create," but is the gift of Love (grace, God).
There is a dangerous, and antispiritual, tendency for people to stop cold with intellectual development. They are often paralyzed or petrified at the stage of "right belief." They actually think that their conscious belief-pattern makes them "spiritual" or "enlightened."
But enlightenment is a matter of the Way that you behave, how you live, not just how you think or believe.
Love is a matter of "right action," not just "right" beliefs.
Earthlife passes rather quickly; and as we move even closer to our higher Selves, which are by nature timeless, the measurement of time becomes less and less relevant. For the higher Self (Soul) and highest Self (Spirit) operate outside of time altogether.
The only "plan" that can be discerned, in this or any other life, is education in Love. Each and every exam or challenge keeps bringing us back to the question, "Was maximum Love reflected in that interaction?" And when the answer is no, we get to take the exam again.
Please do not misunderstand these words. Your "defense" of ACIM implies that you felt that it was being "attacked." It was not; as noted honestly and clearly, the book contains some good and useful thought, although it likely contains nothing really "new." It is a book that collects some of the best ideas from twelve-step and other, related, programs of recovery. But it is galaxies away from being "a new revelation of God."
It is spiritually perilous to seek "new bibles" on our spiritual journey. For, as independent spiritual beings, we are not to look to books to somehow replace our interior growth into understanding. This invalid "short cut" is enormously popular, and has been for centuries. It is just so much easier: Let others make the interior voyage; I don't have to do it myself; I can just read about them." But it simply doesn't work that way; there can be no "vicarious enlightenment."
I have also carefully read ACIM, every word. But unlike others, I did not have the "golly, gee whiz!" response. I was not dazzled. It was not a breathless experience. It was not even exciting. I found the presentation and style rather ordinary. Fire-works did not explode in the Soul or heart. Of course, this is simply a matter of personal choice and response. The fact that the book is quite ordinary does NOT imply that it is "wrong," or "uninspired." (Your words imply that you might have made this "leap," which, I hasten to assure you, is unjustified!)
You rather seriously misunderstood another statement of my email: When discussing the joining of the sperm to the ovum, the implication was that our present conscious mind did not exercise any control over the process. Of course, we designed the process at the Soul-level of Mind. And of course, we participated in the dna-selection and design of our present physical form. Yes, "separation," as has been stated again and again, is the primal illusion that stands at the root of all others.