What Is the Sound of Two Hands Clapping?


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Timothy and I, Jan, have found that living with other Course students can enrich and enliven one’s experience of the Course in very powerful ways. As Thomas Huebl notes, “Conscious communities are actually invitations to grow.” I  would like to share some of what we have learned, with the intention to inspire some of you to experiment with a similar form of Course immersion. 


Everything starts with its purpose, doesn’t it? What is it for? Why would two or three or more Course students choose to make a home together? Jesus says repeatedly that our only goal as miracle workers is to accept Atonement for ourselves, and notes that the interpersonal work of forgiveness and healing are synonyms for Atonement. Yet our habitual ways of dealing with our “stuff” is often to project, defend, and isolate. 

In 2000 I got Guidance to purchase a big house in Sedona, Arizona to be a home for Course students to live and study together. (Timothy was one of the first residents; Poppy came much later.)  A prominent blue and gold plaque in its foyer announced the purpose of Course Community House:


This community is dedicated
to the study and practice of

A Course in Miracles,
and to the extension of forgiveness.” 

Though no longer in existence, Course Community House served for 15 years as an accelerator for hundreds of Course students with daily classes and a family-style living experience under the care of the new owners, Karen Waymire and Gil Phillips. Some residents stayed for years, others for a month or two, and still others came for weeks or weekends of personal retreat. Many reported that the experience was profoundly life-changing. Here are a few comments people have made about living the Course there:


        “As long-time students of A Course in Miracles, being in Sedona and communing with the Course Community House family reawakened our hearts and our commitment to the Course.”                                                                                                                                                                                            —Julie and Michael 


      “My year as a resident at CCH was the most powerful thing I have ever done for myself. I could not leave my room feeling like a victim without giving up the ‘story’ and having an encounter with sanity.”                                                                                                                                                                —Jean 


       "There are doorways here from old worlds to new worlds.  People here communicate openly and have amazing insights. I am learning to release old circling patterns of thoughts and feelings that have hidden my open-hearted connection to our larger, truer universe."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                —Nancy 

Our current Course house, The Little Garden, is a much smaller 4-bedroom single-family house in a quiet neighborhood. It is a scaled-down, more intimate version of Course Community House, with the same purpose and results.


I have lived in and learned from a whole range of consciously formed communities, including a loosely organized interfaith one (Heartspace in Yonkers, NY) , a co-housing community based on cooperative ecological living and decision by consensus (Stone Curves in Tucson, AZ), and several smaller homes that Timothy and I have shared with other Course students.


Of all of these, we find that the model developed by Course Community House residents and adapted to our average-sized home, best suits our lifestyle with the ACIM book at its center.  We sit down together and study almost every day, and our relaxed and informal interactions in the kitchen, the backyard, on the trails — in fact everywhere we are together— are grounded in Course. We naturally talk about it a lot. Both idols and grievances show up only to be dispelled, making way for fun, laughter and most of all, happiness for no reason. 


When we let go of the conflict between “my” way and “your” way, we feel each others’ beautiful innocence. This holy instant of release is given in the holy relationship in which two people see each other’s interests as their own. In any conflict or friction, we both want peace. We both want the safety and happiness that comes from acknowledging our true Self, the Self we share. 


Here we experience what we have been reading about: barriers drop, and peace and love expand. Together we bring the workbook’s lessons to life in everyday situations as old wounds and shadow figures come up to be recognized and healed. This strongly reinforced application of the Course's lessons to life situations serves as a huge accelerator on our journey.  And that goes for Timothy and me as well.


The famous Zen koan, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” is answered by this Course student with another question, “What is the sound of two hands clapping?” Without two, there IS no sound! Just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to really get the feeling of the Course. The holy relationship is the sound that two hands clapping make together, and cannot make alone. It is the applause you get when you complete another link in the chain of the Atonement!


The “two” of the holy relationship does not refer to exclusivity or romantic love, but to the specificity of one-on-one relationships. It is the same specificity that the workbook emphasizes is necessary before generalization can happen by itself. You can’t love humanity in general if you don’t like individuals! 

One take-away message from this article is that it does not take anything more than Guided intention to make Course immersion happen for yourself, wherever you are. We are now using a single-family home, but joining with one or more other Course students as an intentional Course-based community can be done in a rental apartment, a condo, even an RV! You can do it! 


If you want to experience a community intentionally based on the Course, but are not called to put it together yourself at this time, we invite you to apply to stay with us awhile at The Little Garden. Here is a safe, harmonious and beautiful environment where you can learn and grow in an atmosphere of acceptance. 


We are interested in helping Course-based communities thrive at the grass-roots level. If you would like to learn more about living in a purposeful spiritual family,  call Jan at (928)821-0300 or email jan@thelittlegarden.org