A Course in Miracles says it is a "required course", that you do not have any option on whether or not to take it, and that only the time that you take it is voluntary. It says there is a curriculum which you must follow which you do not have any say in defining, meaning there are no other curriculums.
This is a point of much controversy and misunderstanding. But Jesus is telling the truth.
The "Course", if you will, the actual Course that Jesus is referring to in the book "A Course in Miracles", is not a Course that exists AS the book, but the book is REFERRING to the Course.
The Course, the one curriculum, is referring to every metaphysical truth and every metaphysical step which must at some point be taken in order to return to God. This applies to everyone, everywhere, all the time. There are no exceptions or options. It doesn't matter who you are, what religion you belong to, what you believe, you do NOT have a say in determining what the metaphysics of existence is, how it operates, what the laws are, or how you are meant to function.
There IS only one truth. And from that One Truth, following the separation, extends all of the metaphysical levels and layers and facts, which are on an absolutely colossal scale in the trans-personal, trans-temporal mind of the One Son of God. The structural composition of the levels of mind, the stages of separation, the steps that you have to go through in order to fall asleep, the things you MUST experience if you take those steps, are all absolutely irrefutable FACTS. There is a "WAY", there is only ONE way, and it is this one way that Jesus has labelled "A Course in Miracles".
Stop right there before you associate the book form with what the Course is. Jesus, outside of the book, is referring to the metaphysical structure of reality and the illusion and everything that can possibly take place in it, the "true nature" of existence, and in His book titled "A Course in Miracles" He has chosen to NAME that experiential metaphysical structure "the curriculum." There is no room for bending the rules or breaking the laws of the curriculum.
As a result of choosing separation, certain things came into existence which have a certain structure, a certain behavior, a certain inter-relationship with each other, and it is all entirely based on metaphysical facts. Everything that seemed to happen after the separation happened according to completely clear-cut causes and effects. Basically, by choosing ego, you MUST experience very exact "effects", and it is only by reversing those exact effects that you can be free of the ego. You took 3 steps forward, you MUST take 3 steps back.
Therefore there IS only one real curriculum. Either you are moving away from God or toward God. Movements toward God are the curriculum. This applies to everyone in all walks of life regardless of whether they heard of "A Course in Miracles" or not. In a way, though, Jesus has associated the term with the curriculum, because at the beginning He says:
"This is a Course in Miracles. It is a required Course."
Therefore Jesus is really referring to the one universal curriculum, the one universal metaphysics, and the steps required in order to follow the curriculum, as "A Course in Miracles". Not the book per se. The metaphysical structure of the dream and all of its levels and layers and facts and side-effects is all what defines the fixed curriculum, and taking a "course" in that, is the "Course in Miracles".
It is called a Course in MIRACLES because if you take an actual step in following the curriculum, making actual metaphysical progress in awakening, no matter what belief system you are surrounding those steps with, you are performing miracles. Corrections of mind.
It must be true that you are ALWAYS inside of the curriculum, you are always taking the curriculum, and you are alway bound by its rules. However, the option you have is whether or not to LEARN, i.e. take the curriculum, and so you are free to choose WHEN to learn it, i.e. when to take the next steps toward God. You do not get to choose what those steps are because they are based on the metaphysics. You can continue to be in DENIAL of this truth, which is an attempt to not take the curriculum, but you cannot CHANGE this truth, and sooner or later you MUST take it.
The curriculum therefore exists outside of the "book" of the Course, and applies in ALL belief systems at all times. There is only one "real" path to God. There are corrections necessary in order to awaken to the one truth. Whatever so-called path you are using, even if you never heard of A Course in Miracles, it MUST contain at least some metaphysical truth IF it is going to WORK at all. If it is not in alignment with the metaphysical truth and if it does not advance you along the ONE curriculum, then it CANNOT work.
Also different belief systems and religions either make the metaphysical truth clear, or obscure it, to varying degrees. Some belief systems obscure more than others and may obscure heavily. For example, satanism most likely is going to be very effective at denying the curriculum and electing "not to take it yet". Similarly there are many other delaying maneuvers.
However, what we see as the BOOK, "A Course in Miracles", the FORMAT it takes, and the way it describes the metaphysical truth, is perhaps one of, if not THE, most effective, clear, inspired, ACCURATE, least obscuring, and maximally EFFICIENT formats on the planet today. It can save significant time, because it very closely aligns to the one curriculum, and very effectively teaches about what the metaphysical truth is.
The BOOK, "A Course in Miracles", is piggybacking, or describing, the "real course", which is the curriculum, which is experiential and applies to everyone at all times. The book itself is not necessarily "required" to be read or followed in order to awaken. HOWEVER, whatever FORM of a path you choose, whatever the belief system, whatever theology, it MUST, *ABSOLUTELY MUST* correspond to the metaphysical truth taught in A Course in Miracles if it is going to WORK at all, and if it does not, it will NOT work and will only delay your awakening by producing more delusions.
You can wake up to the ONE TRUTH, through many many many paths. In fact, "all paths lead to God" is true because even the most obscure, highly delaying, extremely denying paths still have at least some amount of the curriculum applying to them, still present lessons, still offers the truth in some small way, and is still governed by the same ONE metaphysical system.
For example, Christianity's interpretation of the metaphysics is correct in some areas and a little off in others. It is correct that there is One God, and that Christ is God's One Son. It is also true that as Jesus (as Christ) said, He is THE way, THE truth, and THE light. Not one of many. THE ONLY ONE. And it is also true that no-one can come to the father but by Him. HOWEVER, Christianity is mistaken in its claim that this means you are forever separate and non-equal with Christ, that other FORMS of paths to God are wrong, that the Christian religion is the only "way" to God, and that all other paths are evil. That's not true.
Christianity CAN be an effective path to awakening and to becoming equal with Christ, but in many many of its flavors and interpretations, it is riddled with a heavy weight of delusion, illusion, confusion, and deception, which masquerade as truth but actually are part of the delaying maneuvers which attempt to PUT OFF the true curriculum. The only way Christianity can WORK is when it is in correct alignment with the truth that has been described in the book "A Course in Miracles", and is following the ONE CURRICULUM which Jesus has basically named "A Course in Miracles" (beyond the book).
Effectively that means that anyone who takes the Christian path (or any other religion or system), CAN ONLY wake up to the truth IF they have actually either inadvertently or on purpose taken the One Curriculum, which IS actually A Course in Miracles. Remember that Jesus begins the Course with "This is a course in miracles. It is a required Course." He goes on to say this is the only curriculum and that you do not have an option about what the curriculum entails. That means, if you woke up "through" Christianity, you actually DID take A Course in Miracles - the metaphysical, experiential, spiritually corrective path back to God, which is present in EVERYONE's mind and MUST be followed in order to return to God.
In this respect, A Course in Miracles, the one true curriculum, IS the only way to God, it IS the way that Jesus is referring to that HE woke up to being Christ, it IS the way that Buddha woke up, it IS the way that any other ascended master woke up, and It MUST be the way that everyone wakes up.
All of the rest of the descriptions and forms and formats and supposed ILLUSIONS of separate paths that people seem to be taking, where they might claim "I am not doing A Course in Miracles", or that they don't believe in it, or that they aren't taking the One Curriculum, are heavily clad in ILLUSIONS that make it seem like they are not taking the One Curriculum, BUT THEY ARE.
*cue meme with "there is no escape" and evil laugh*
Either you are taking A Course in Miracles and learning the metaphysical truth and following the one curriculum and are waking up to God, which is THE ONLY WAY, which does not necessarily have to entail having anything to do with the book whatsoever,
You are delaying the one curriculum, are attempting not to take the "Course", and are in denial.
THAT is the true nature of A Course in Miracles. It is not just a Course that you are only taking IF you are doing your forgiveness or IF you own the book of IF the book is in your hands with you studying it. It is ALWAYS the course, whether you like it or not, and you are always taking it, whether you like it or not!
It is not just a book. It is not just a bunch of text and a set of lessons and a manual. That's just one format. One expression of ACIM. It's one way of explaining what the Course is, one way of TEACHING what the Course is. The Course is the one metaphysical curriculum for awakening which applies to everyone at all times. There are many ways to teach it. The BOOK "A Course in Miracles" is Jesus's way of teaching it, and is a very accurate way. There are an unlimited number of ways of teaching it. Some will appear to be extremely close to the true nature of the one curriculum, and some will seem to be so far removed that you would not say it is the one curriculum at all. But there is no escaping the one curriculum.
This is the metaphysical nature of A Course in Miracles. And this is why it is REQUIRED, and this is why Jesus said it is required. He is not lying. You just have to get your definition of what the "Course" is correct so that it makes sense.
If Christians are making ANY headway towards God, they are taking A Course in Miracles. If Muslims are making ANY headway toward God, they are taking A Course in Miracles. If Hindu's are making headway toward God, they are taking A Course in Miracles. What Jesus has described AS A Course in Miracles is the one, the only, the profound metaphysical teaching, which is completely factual and 100% FIXED and cannot be changed and has no exceptions. That's what He has revealed to us and has attempted to outline and teach in the book. Whether you opt to use the book or not, you are still bound by the curriculum and you still cannot take any other curriculum that works without it being a curriculum in miracles.