The Rhythm and Reason of Reality

Steve Russell



Foreword from the publisher


The origins of this remarkable collection of Iambic Pentameter material are not entirely known to us.  About all we know for sure is that the name “Steve Russell” is attached to it, and we’re not currently able to locate him.  We’re working on that.  The earliest filedate in the collection we found on the net is 1997.  This rather confirms other clues in the material which suggest the author was unaware that the FIP Edition he was working on was highly abridged and in many places substantially different than the original dictation.  Had he been working with earlier and more complete versions of ACIM he would have found more IP and he’d also have found abbreviations used to achieve it.  The references to text locations, where provided, are of Course FIP references to the Second Edition and won’t always work for the more complete earlier versions.


We do hope to be able to update this material in the near future.  However, despite being somewhat incomplete and dated, the material is of such value we feel it appropriate to include it.


The basic structure of these documents is to set the lines where poetry is detected with line breaks every ten beats, and to do that in two-column format.  This makes it easy for the reader to recognize what is “iambic pentameter” and what is not.








The Rhythm and Reason of Reality





Thanks to Marty Preston and Judy Blue Eyes for encouraging me in this project, and to all who sat with me in the library while I pondered metric irregularities and replaced spaces with carriage returns.













Facing Your Dilemma


Remember that human conceptual consciousness is explicitly formulated in a self-perpetuating structure of thought that denies singularity.



"This course has come from him because his words

have reached you in a language you can love

and understand."  (Manual For Teachers)






You may remember reading, amongst the literature concerning the scribing of A Course In Miracles, references to the use of the poetic form called iambic pentameter.  Most of you won’t know exactly what this means, and of those who do, most will not be able to easily discern the poetic form within the prosaic layout of the Course. 


The purpose of this volume is to present the poetry of the Course in a totally accessible manner.  You need know nothing about poetic forms and meters to begin enjoying it immediately.  You may, however, wish to read this introduction, since the search to ascertain the extent of the poetic form within the Course has revealed another astounding dimension in its structural integrity.


Definitions: Iambic pentameter is usually described as "lines consisting of five iambs", which in turn are described as "metric feet of two syllables each, the second syllable being the stronger".  Such a description is useful to few.  Put simply, a line of iambic pentameter feels like this:


                   Da-dum  da-dum  da-dum  da-dum  da-dum.


(This form is also called “blank verse”, a more general term denoting even rhythm without rhyming.)


Because the Course is published entirely as prose, the extent to which iambic pentameter is used is a surprising and exciting discovery.  It divides the Text of A Course In Miracles into three distinct parts, two of twelve chapters each, and the last of seven chapters.  Within this structure, a gradual transition is made from prose to iambic pentameter.


Normal spoken English and prose is arhythmic, having sometimes one, sometimes two syllables between accents, with no discernable pattern.  The first twelve chapters of the Course are written in such prose, and the portrait of the human condition given is prosaic indeed.  The very last sentence of the section is the first instance (that this reader found) of the poetic form: “Your Father could not cease to love His Son.”


The second part, Chapters 13 to 24, is mostly iambic but not pentametric - there is one syllable between accents, but the pairs of unaccented and accented syllables are not arranged in groups of five.  This iambic characteristic is phased in over the first six sections of Chapter 13.  In section seven, “The Attainment of the Real World,” each paragraph contains on average only three or four irregularities.  However the second part of the Course is not without any instance of iambic pentameter.  Frequently, paragraphs begin with emphatic statements given in iambic pentameter.  “There is a light that this world cannot give;” is the first such occurrence.  “You do not really want the world you see;” “We cannot sing redemption’s hymn alone;” “Your faith in nothing is deceiving you.”  These powerful statements are each elucidated conceptually in the paragraphs that follow from them, however the receptive mind may find further reading unnecessary or even quite impossible for some time.  A collection of these opening sentences is given at the end of this introduction, containing every instance that this reader could identify.


Deeper into the second part, increasingly strong “insertions” of iambic pentameter occur - longer passages that persist further into the paragraphs. For instance, in Chapter 21:


          Thus they define their life and where they live,

          adjusting to it as they think they must,

          afraid to lose the little that they have.

          And so it is with all who see the body

          as all they have and all their brothers have.

          They try to reach each other, and they fail,

          and fail again.


Coincident with the approach of total iambic pentameter, Jesus makes this statement (in Chapter 22): “This is a crucial period in this course, for here the separation of you and the ego must be made complete.”  And this:


          This course will be believed entirely

          or not at all.

          For it is wholly true or wholly false,

          and cannot be but partially believed.


Chapter 25 is the beginning of the final part.  In Chapters 25 and 26 the final transition is made into seamless iambic pentameter, making feasible its presentation as poetry in the same manner as the works of Shakespeare are presented, with two columns of the short blank verse lines to a page.  It is at this last part that this volume takes up the Text.


Some parts of these two chapters are still not regular enough to allow breakdown into lines, and so are presented as prose.  Also, the regular iambic pentameter in these two chapters, and early in Chapter 27, often contains lines that have one extra syllable, or short lines of only four or six syllables.  I make no claim to correct division of lines in these circumstances, although in most instances the short line quite obviously emphasizes a point.


In the remaining chapters of the Text, the iambic pentameter is perfect.  Jesus never abbreviates words to achieve this, but does make use of words with an adaptable syllable count: Heaven as one or two syllables, idea as two or three.  Occasional occurrences of one extra syllable at the end of a line fall within the accepted parameters of the form.  Maintenance of the meter accounts for what frequently seemed to be unusual syntax when read as prose - but which now makes perfect sense as poetry.


A transition from prose to poetry also occurs in the Workbook, but it is much simpler, and quicker.  The first ninety lessons are plain prose, with the exception of Lesson 78, which is totally poetic.  The transition occurs entirely within seven lessons.  Lesson 91 is prose.  The following lessons have increasing percentages of verse, but the distinction is kept very clear.  Each paragraph is either entirely prose, or entirely poetry, and within the poetry there are very few uneven or short lines.  Lesson 98 is pure poetry, and it is astonishing to discover that everything in the Workbook from Lesson 98 on is in iambic pentameter ~ the introductions to Reviews and the Reviews themselves, the “instructions on themes of special relevance,” (such as What is Forgiveness?) the prayers and the Epilogue.


The Manual for Teachers and Clarification of Terms often refer to Jesus in the third person, possibly indicating different or collaborative authorship.  They contain very few but very beautiful poetic passages, and these are also included here, as is a collection of iambic pentameter "zingers" from within the second section of the text.


Attempts to read the poetic form directly from the original prose layout often result in diminished comprehension – one is so busy holding on to the form that the meaning is lost.   Conversely, the presentation as blank verse guarantees placing correct emphasis for understanding (though not understanding itself,) and the elegance and eloquence of Jesus’ poetry, and the regular rhythmic lope, offer an expanded experience of the Course to the musical mind.


The magnitude and beauty of the Course, simply as a work of literature and without regard to its miraculous content, adequately belie any notion of its human authorship.  To those who wonder why Jesus chose to use this form, I can only say that it is clear from the content of A Course In Miracles that healing is its only purpose, and so this poetry must also serve that purpose.


~ Steve Russell

Portals to Rhythmic Reality

Iambic pentameter lead sentences from Chapters 13 thru 24



Your Father could not cease to love His Son.

            (Ch12.VIII) T XI I 8 (306)


There is a light that this world cannot give.



Awaking unto Christ is following

the laws of love of your free will, and out

of quiet recognition of the truth

in them.



You do not really want the world you see…



Christ is still there, although you know Him not.



We cannot sing redemption's hymn alone.



Determine, then, to be not as you were.



Now it is given you to heal and teach



Release from guilt as you would be released.



Your  faith in nothing is deceiving you.



The Holy Spirit asks of you but this…



There is no substitute for truth. And truth

will make this plain to you as you are brought

into the place where you must meet with truth.


You have one test, as sure as God, by which

to recognize if what you learned is true.



You cannot be your guide to miracles,

for it is you who made them necessary.



Can you imagine what it means to have

no cares, no worries, no anxieties,

but merely to be perfectly calm

and quiet all the time?



Think you that you can judge the Self of God?



The Holy Spirit cannot teach through fear.

And how can He communicate with you,

while you believe that to communicate

is to make yourself alone?



We who are one cannot give separately.



Fear not to recognize the whole idea

of sacrifice as solely of your making.



This is a course in how to know yourself.



Your bridge is builded stronger than you think…



Across the bridge it is so different            (Ch16.VI)

As God ascends into His rightful place

and you to yours, you will experience

again the meaning of relationship

and know it to be true. Let us ascend

in peace together to the Father,

by giving Him ascendance in our minds.



To substitute is to accept instead.



Let not the dream take hold to close your eyes.



What could God give but knowledge of Himself?



What would you see without the fear of death?



The holy do not interfere with truth.



The blind become accustomed to their world

by their adjustments to it.

They think they know their way about in it.



Thus they define their life and where they live,

adjusting to it as they think they must,

afraid to lose the little that they have.

And so it is with all who see the body

as all they have and all their brothers have.

They try to reach each other, and they fail,

and fail again.



I am responsible for what I see.

I choose the feelings I experience,

and I decide upon the goal I would achieve.

And everything that seems to happen to me

I ask for, and receive as I have asked.


Begrudge not then this little offering.



Faith and belief and vision are the means

by which the goal of holiness is reached.



Where would the answer be but in the Source?



You are your brother's savior. He is yours.

Reason speaks happily indeed of this.

This gracious plan was given love by Love.

And what Love plans is like Itself in this:

Being united, It would have you learn

what you must be. And being one with It,

 it must be given you

to give what It has given, and gives still.

Spend but an instant in the glad acceptance

of what is given you to give your brother,

and learn with him

what has been given both of you.

To give is no more blessed than to receive.

But neither is it less.



The Son of God is always blessed as one.



Take pity on yourself, so long enslaved.



This is a crucial period in this course,

(for here the separation of you and the ego must be made complete.)



This course will be believed entirely

or not at all.

For it is wholly true or wholly false,

and cannot be but partially believed.


The ego's whole continuance depends

on its belief you cannot learn this course.



These eyes, made not to see, will never see.



If you were one with God and recognized

this oneness, you would know His power is yours.

But you will not remember this while you

believe attack of any kind means anything.



Nothing around you but is part of you.



Be certain that it is impossible

God and the ego, or yourself and it,

will ever meet.

You seem to meet,

and make your strange alliances on grounds

that have no meaning.

For your beliefs converge upon the body,

the ego's chosen home, which you believe

is yours.



What you remember is a part of you.

For you must be as God created you.

Truth does not fight against illusions,

nor do illusions fight against the truth.

Illusions battle only with themselves.

Being fragmented, they fragment. But truth

is indivisible, and far beyond

their little reach. You will remember what

you know when you have learned you cannot be

in conflict. One illusion about yourself

can battle with another, yet the war

of two illusions is a state

where nothing happens. There is

no victor and there is no victory.

And truth stands radiant, apart from conflict,

untouched and quiet in the peace of God.


The "laws" of chaos can be brought to light,

though never understood. Chaotic laws

are hardly meaningful, and therefore out

of reason's sphere. Yet they appear to be

an obstacle to reason and to truth.



How can some forms of murder not mean death?

Can an attack in any form be love?

What form of condemnation is a blessing?

Who makes his savior powerless

and finds salvation?



Where God created life, there life must be.



To learn this course requires willingness

to question every value that you hold.

Not one can be kept hidden and obscure

but it will jeopardize your learning.

No belief is neutral.



You have come far along the way of truth;

too far to falter now.  Just one step more,

and every vestige of the fear of God

will melt away in love.



Here is your savior from your specialness.

He is in need of your acceptance of

himself as part of you, as you for his.



Forgiveness is the end of specialness.



Without foundation nothing is secure.



Forgive the great Creator of the universe,

the Source of life, of love and holiness,

the perfect Father of a perfect Son,

for your illusions of your specialness.



The slaves of specialness will yet be free.

Such is the Will of God and of His Son.



Rejoice you have no eyes with which to see;

no ears to listen, and no hands to hold

nor feet to guide. Be glad that only Christ

can lend you His, while you have need of them.



The Father keeps what He created safe.