You can't just read the books. You have to attend the sessions. Or at least that's HOW IT WAS back in the day, late 1970's.

As part of an amicable divorce settlement from my second husband, who volunteered at The Institute for Psycho-Something (can't use the real name as certain parties later got into nasty legal disputes), the ex thought I would benefit from "the experience", paying 300 dollars for me to attend, plus I got the books. I WOULD LATER REGRET THIS GENEROSITY.

Perusing the books prior to the intro meeting, I felt they were hogwash, so I hid them in my mother's garage, behind the lawn mower, in winter. At the first meeting there were approximately 250 other participants in a large empty room. Sitting on an uncomfortable floor, somehow we all were lulled into a strange, calm sense of buying what they were selling. The two speakers were both Jewish psychologists, had the same first names, charismatic in a good cop/bad cop way. Looking back, I'm certain they both were highly skilled in mass hypnosis, though I recall the focus being more on right brain and left brain stuff, nothing about Jesus, or Jesus relaying the message to the writer of A Course in Miracles. Perhaps they put a spin on it for their own SINISTER PURPOSES.

In any event, we all signed on for the two weekends, plus one midweek night session, like naive sheep. The remainder of the meetings were held at a literally Godforsaken old monastery with no heat. Our bags were searched upon arrival; anything deemed inappropriate like medications, chewing gum, make-up, snacks, jewelry, etc. was confiscated. I SHOULD HAVE LEFT THEN.

We were instructed to go to the big room in comfortable clothes, but not to wear socks or shoes. Once there, we were told there would be no food breaks and no bathroom breaks for an indeterminate amount of time. They also confiscated watches and no clock was on the wall. CELL PHONES DIDN'T EXIST or they would have been taken as well, I have no doubt.

Suddenly, I was thinking I don't chew gum or wear make-up, so no problem there. But no socks in a room of 500 other feet that could possibly have some foot fungus or disease, plus not being able to use the bathroom or eat whenever I needed, MAJOR PROBLEM with those rules.
But I chose not to rock the boat.

Recounting ALL THAT TRANSPIRED would be exhausting, unbelievable and frankly too personal, so I'll skip to what I remember getting from A Course in Miracles:

blue, hardcover with gold writing on the cover books that years later my sister found, proclaiming them "WORKS OF THE DEVIL",

my "buddy" for the sessions turned out to be a dentist from Lebanon with a great sense of humor, who became my dentist, for years never charging me and my young daughter,

a memory of lying on the floor, lights darkened, hearing a woman sobbing from the depths of her being;
later when asking my new dentist friend if he heard the woman, he looked at me oddly, then said, "that was you",

another memory of being handed an orange and thinking it was JUST AN ORANGE. No more, no less.

*special thanks to iceowl, whose writeup triggered lost memories and created new neural pathways*

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