A Course in Miracles

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A Course in Miracles

'The Course' is a complete self-study spiritual thought system. As a three-volume curriculum consisting of a Text, Workbook for Students, and Manual for Teachers, it teaches that the way to universal love and peace—or remembering God—is by undoing guilt through forgiving others. The Course thus focuses on the healing of relationships and making them holy. A Course in Miracles also emphasizes that it is but one version of the universal curriculum, of which there are "many thousands." Consequently, even though the language of the Course is that of traditional Christianity, it expresses a non-sectarian, non-denominational spirituality. A Course in Miracles therefore is a universal spiritual teaching, not a religion.

The "Text" presents the theory of the Course and has built into its study the development of the experience of forgiveness that is the Course's goal for the student. In this regard, A Course in Miracles states that "its goal for you is happiness and peace." (Text, p. 241) (T-13.II.7:1) The Text also explains the basis for fear and guilt, and how they can be overcome through miracles, which are defined as maximal "expressions of love." The miracle is defined as the shift in perception from fear to love.

The "Workbook for Students" consists of 365 lessons, an exercise for each day of the year. This one-year training program begins the process of changing the student's mind and perception, though it is not intended to bring one's learning to completion. As stated in the Preface to the Course, "At the end, the reader is left in the hands of his or her own Internal Teacher, Who will direct all subsequent learning as He sees fit." (Preface: ix)

The "Manual for Teachers" is written in question-and-answer form and provides answers to some of the more likely questions a student might ask. It also includes clarification of a number of terms the Course uses, explaining them within the theoretical framework of the Text and for their practical application through the Workbook.

For contents of A Course in Miracles follow this link.
For lessons on the topic of ACIM, follow this link.

The Course

Often referred to as ACIM or "the Course", it is a book considered by its students to be their "spiritual path". According to Helen Schucman and the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP), Helen Schucman and William Thetford "scribed" the book by means of a process coming from a divine source through a form of Channelling which Schucman referred to as "inner dictation".[1]

A COURSE IN MIRACLES with JUDITH SKUTCH WHITSON, The Intuition Network,[2], Journey Without Distance - The story behind A Course in Miracles, ISBN 1-58761-108-7 New Age Encyclopedia, 1st ed., Gale Research, Inc.

Schucman described the divine source of her channeling as none other than the person of Jesus Christ. ISBN 0-7914-3854-6, New Age Religion and Western Culture, State University of New York Press

The teachings of the Course have been compared to the fundamental premises of Eastern religion, it utilizes, however, a traditional Christian terminology. J. Gordon Melton notes that it has been most popular among those who have been disillusioned by organized Christianity. Melton and Wouter Hanegraaff have called it the most obvious choice for the single text that is "sacred scripture" in the New Age movement. Since it first became available for sale in 1976, over 1.5 million copies have sold worldwide in sixteen different languages.[3], Michael Braunstein, How Jesus Got His Copyright Back,[4]

Some consider the philosophy of the Course to be monistic. It uses terminology and theological elements also found in traditional Christianity, except that it redefines them. However, scholar, editor and long time teacher of ACIM, Kenneth Wapnick, (Foundation for a Course in Miracles, Temecula, California) http://www.facim.org/about.htm About our Foundation, retrieved 2007-07-23 characterizes the metaphysics of the Course as nondualism and states “the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles is non-dualistic, as it expresses one pre-separation state: God. In fact, the Course can be said to represent what we may call a perfect or pure nondualism. This form of non-dualism holds not only that God is truth, and all else illusory, but that God is in no way involved in the illusory and unreal world of perception.”; Wapnick, Kenneth, The Message of ‘A Course in Miracles’: All Are Called, Few Choose to Listen, Vol. 1, Foundation for a Course in Miracles, ISBN-10: 0933291256; ISBN-13: 978-0933291256

ACIM also contains concepts from Eastern religions, mysticism, psychology, and Platonism, not to mention a lot of Shakesperean inspiration. It is monistic in its position that ultimate reality consists of nothing more than God's love. ACIM asserts that the world is an effect of projection in the mind, which is thus causally responsible for everything that appears to us as the physical world.

ACIM teaches an inner awakening to "the awareness of love's presence" in both self and others. ISBN 0-9606388-9-X, A Course In Miracles, Foundation for Inner Peace

ACIM is a 'received' spiritual teaching, and in this sense it is similar to various sections of the Bible that were 'received' through various types of visions.ISBN 0-8340-0346-5, Bible- KJV- Oxford University Press, Is-1:1,Ez-1:1

Schucman and Thetford "scribed" the Course in the first person of Jesus Christ, speaking of his birth, miracles, apostles, experience in Gethsemane, crucifixion, resurrection, portrayal in the New Testament, and the way he has been characterized by Christianity. Believers in the Course consider it an inspired scripture using Biblical terminology, but possessing a greater coherence by dint of its consistent source. It demonstrates this in over eight hundred biblical allusions in which its author feels no compunction about selectively affirming certain biblical themes while freely correcting others.

The Course teaches 'forgiveness' as the one practice that will lead to spiritual awakening. The workbook stimulates the practice of various aspects of forgiveness with daily lessons. It teaches that it is a student's responsibility to correct his or her understanding or perception of his or her fellows, so that a student might correctly perceive the truly holy nature of everyone he or she meets. Once correctly perceived, this frees a student from his or her mistaken belief in victimhood. How can one be a victim when one no longer perceives victimization? The Course teaches that 'Correct perception of your brother is necessary (to correct a student's misperception of his or her separation from God. http://www.unitedbeings.com/acim/Chapter%2003.htm, "THE INNOCENT PERCEPTION", Foundation for Inner Peace

The Course combines Freudian and Jungian psychology with traditional Christian faith. The Course representation of the 'Holy Spirit' bears some similarities with the Jungian concept of the collective unconscious, and also with the Freudian representation of the subconscious mind in that all three concepts point to the striking subconscious commonalities of the human psyche that may come from a common source. The Course also acknowledges the human tendency to develop defense mechanisms, such as denial/projection and attack/defend, to keep from the awareness that which is feared. After first laying out a system of inner dynamics that has much in common with traditional Freudian psychology, The Course then claims to offer a certain means of reconciling this system of inner tensions that typically arises from inner conflicts between conscious and subconscious goals. The Course proposes to accomplish this by fundamentally redirecting the energies of the mind towards reconciliation with one's fellows, with one's self, and with one's God via the art of forgiveness and the consequent relinquishment of guilt.

ACIM has been considered the single text qualifying as "sacred scripture" in the New Age movement, yet author Hugh Prather says it is atypical in What is the Course? Will it exist in the 21st Century?, http://www.nhne.com/misc/food0001.html.

The Course has been characterized as a Christianized version of non-dualistic Vedanta where the physical world is just an illusory chimera that can only offer violence, sorrow and pain. However the unreal "physical" world of separate perceptions is to be differentiated from the "real world," which is seen devoid of dreams of revenge, hatred and attack. Students of the Course seek the ultimate goal of existence in a radically different mode of being than that found in this world. This mode of being is attained by unified vision with the Holy Spirit, or that part of the mind that sees all actions as rooted in love, or calls for love (fear).

Overview of origins

The Course was originally scribed in a collaborative venture by Schcman and Thetford. In the early form of ACIM (commonly known as the "Urtext"), the "Voice" described them as scribes taking down the words of Jesus. According to Kenneth Wapnick, Jesus was a symbol of God's love and not the historical Jesus of Nazareth". [5] |author=U.S. District Court Southern District Of New York, Opinion, Case: Civil 4126 (RWS) ruling (#00-07413) summary judgment denied.

In 1976, the Course was distributed as a three volume set, 'Disappearance' Appears Big Time, Publisher's Weekly, [6] which had evolved from the original notes and comprised of the three sections of the Course: the Text, Workbook, and Manual.

For the first 19 years of its circulation the book was published, printed and distributed directly by the students of the work. In 1995, the printing and distribution of the work was licensed to Penguin Books for five years.[7], U.S. District Court Southern District Of New York, Opinion, Case: Civil 4126 (RWS) ruling (#03-08697) dismissing complaint and granting judgment.

The teachings of the book have been supported by such mainstream commentators as Oprah Winfrey in her interviews with author Marianne Williamson, and are supported by some "new age" churches such as the Association of Unity Church.[8], [9], and [10]

Drafting the Course

In 1965, Helen Schucman, an associate professor of medical psychology appointed to the faculty of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, experienced a series of particularly vivid dreams. Soon thereafter, she began to hear a "Voice" she identified as Jesus. http://www.nysd.uscourts.gov/courtweb/pdf/D02NYSC/03-04125.PDF which would speak to her whenever she was prepared to listen. Schucman reported that she heard from the Voice the words, "This is a course in miracles. Please take notes." Schucman then began to write down what she described as a form of "rapid inner dictation."

Between 1965 and 1972, Schucman filled nearly thirty stenographic notebooks with words she received from the Voice. The collaborative venture between Helen Schucman and William Thetford would ultimately evolve into the the Course. Eventually the manuscript totaled 1,500 pages and was placed into black thesis binders. Schucman and Thetford did not want their co-workers, professors in the psychology department at Columbia University Medical Center, to know about the existence of the Course. They were embarrassed and considered it their "guilty secret." This process was a collaborative venture between Schucman and William Thetford, a psychology faculty member at Columbia University who was her superior and colleague. Schucman and Thetford worked together in private offices in "an air of secrecy," as they both believed that their professional reputations at Columbia would be adversely affected if their professional peers found out about the Course. Thetford was encouraging, and in their spare time at work, Thetford typed as Schucman dictated aloud from her notes as well as directly. Revisions were made including, for example, the omission of various references to their personal lives. The manuscript went through two additional drafts, one edited by Schucman alone, and the subsequent one edited by both of them. In the third draft, the manuscript was split into chapters and sections, to which they added titles and headings. This material eventually became the Text.

Editors

When Schucman experienced some personal difficulties and hesitance after hearing the "inner voice," Thetford, her work supervisor and friend, contacted Hugh Lynn Cayce at his Association for Research and Enlightenment in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to seek his advice and counsel, and Schucman met with Cayce before she began to record the Course.

The earliest known draft of the original manuscript reads more as a journal than as a study guide and contains material related to the personal lives of Schucman and Thetford (as in the authors' application of the abstract principles to concrete events in their lives) that was later edited out prior to the work's initial publication. Some of the material edited out appears to have been some extraneous theories about sex which may have been edited out in the hope of maintaining a greater focus on the primary aim of the material (forgiveness) in the published edition. One such section of the Urtext states that "...[a] miracle worker MUST understand (the proper use of sex)." [11], Schucman, ACIM Urtext: 2003 UPE-Ready edition. (The earliest known draft of the work is commonly referred to as the "Urtext"). A copy of the third draft was given to Cayce in 1970, along with a draft of most of the Workbook. This more "polished" copy of the manuscript is commonly referred to either as the HLC (after Hugh Lynn Cayce) or the JCIM edition and in 2000 it was published under the title, "Jesus' Course in Miracles".

Father Benedict Groeschel, who studied under Thetford and worked with Schucman, arranged an introduction of Wapnick to Schucman and Thetford in November 1972. In 1973, Schucman and Thetford presented the third draft of the complete manuscript to Wapnick and Groeschel. Wapnick subsequently became a teacher of the Course, co-founder and president of the Foundation for A Course in Miracles (FACIM), and a director and executive committee member of the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP).

Wapnick was a clinical psychologist, who between 1967 and 1972, directed a school for disturbed children and served as chief psychologist at Harlem Valley State Hospital. In 1972, Wapnick abandoned his Jewish faith and sought to convert to Catholicism so he could become a monk. Groeschel, a former priest, then a member of a Franciscan order, and who also had a doctorate in psychology, heard of Wapnick's intended conversion, which interested him, and so they met.

Wapnick reviewed the draft and discussed with Schucman further revisions that were needed to place the book in final form. Over the next thirteen months, Wapnick and Schucman edited the manuscript again, substantially rearranging and deleting material, altering chapter and section headings, and correcting various inconsistencies in paragraph structure, punctuation, and capitalization. This editing process was completed in approximately February 1975.

Distribution

The Foundation for Inner Peace (or FIP), was originally called the Foundation for Para-Sensory Investigations, Inc. (FPI)., and was founded on October 21, 1971, by Robert Skutch, and Judith Skutch Whitson. Robert Skutch and Judith Skutch Whitson were married at the time of its inception, and have since become directors. Robert Skutch was a businessman and writer, who had been a writer for many years of television plays and advertising copy. Judith Skutch Whitson was a teacher and lecturer at New York University on the science of the study of consciousness and parapsychology. On May 29, 1975, Douglas Dean, a physicist engineer, introduced Schucman, Thetford and Wapnick to Judith Skutch Whitson. Soon thereafter, they introduced her to the Course and the four of them met regularly to study, discuss, and share their common enthusiasm for it. At some point in 1975, Schucman appears to have authorized Skutch Whitson and Ken Wapnick to initiate the process of copyrighting ACIM and to assume responsibility themselves for the resulting copyright.

In mid-July 1975, Skutch Whitson met briefly with her doctoral adviser, Eleanor Criswell, who had a small printing company called Freeperson's Press. Criswell advised Skutch Whitson that she would be willing to assist in having the manuscript published, took responsibility for the manuscript pages and in August 1975, they were taken to a Kopy Kat copy center in Berkeley, CA to be reproduced. In August 1975, Skutch Whitson organized a reception at 2000 Broadway, San Francisco, California, where Schucman and Thetford were introduced to a number of people. During this time period, a number of copies were distributed, hundreds according to Skutch Whitson and Skutch. The first edition of 100 copies of the Criswell edition was bound with a yellow cover and a copyright notice. Robert Skutch filed the copyright for ACIM for FIP on November 24, 1975, swearing to a date of first publication as October 6, 1975 in the form of the Freeperson Press edition. Zelda Suplee, director of the Erickson Educational Foundation, [12], Reed Erickson (1912-1992): How One Transsexed Man Supported ONE.Devor, Aaron H., Ph.D., Univerisy of Victoria, BCA a friend of Skutch Whitson, was given a copy of the uncopyrighted manuscript by Skutch Whitson, prior to the publication of the Criswell edition. In 1976, Reed Erickson, a wealthy transsexual philanthropist,[13] Reed Erickson and The Erickson Educational Foundation, Devor, Aaron H., Ph.D., University of Victoria, BCA received a copy of the manuscript which he used as a basis for study by a group in Mexico. Erickson was the primary financial backer of the first hard bound edition of the Course donating $440,000 for this printing. Later that year the FIP began to publish the Course in a set of three hardcover volumes. Five years later, in 1981, Schucman died of complications related to pancreatic cancer.

In 1983, control of the copyright was transferred to the FACIM as headed by Wapnick.

In 1985, the FIP began publishing the three volumes in a more manageable single soft-cover volume, but without any editorial content changes.

In 1992, the FIP published a second hardcover edition which contained some editorial content additions and minor changes. Amongst these changes were the addition of a verse numbering system and also the addition of a "Clarification of Terms" section which had been written earlier by Schucman. It was Schucman's desire that a non-profit foundation publish the work.[14], Copyright Case: A Course In Miracles, Ellie Anderson, The Miracle Times

In 1995, FIP entered a five year printing and distribution agreement with Penguin Books for $2.5 million which expired in December of 2000. Currently some copies of some of the earlier draft versions of the book are available both online and through private publishers.

Litigation

Due to a suit by Penguin Books and FIP, brought against the Church of the Full Endeavor for their limited independent publication of selected portions of The Course, it was found that the contents of the FIP first edition, published from 1976 through 1992, as well as the contents of all earlier draft copies, are public domain. The evidence in this case turned on the discovery of an early recorded statement by Judith Skutch Whitson that, "(Prior to 1976) we printed hundreds of copies of (the Criswell edition of ACIM on a Xerox machine). (The Urtext draft of the Course is now available online. See below.) However, those parts of the FIP second edition which were added in the second hard-bound edition remain under copyright. Items still under copyright include the verse numbering system and the Clarification of Terms section. Also, as a result of the earlier litigation, later in 2005, the United States Patent and Trademark Office canceled both the Servicemark on "A Course in Miracles" and the Trademark on the acronym, "ACIM"., [15], U.S. District Court Southern District Of New York, Judgment, Case: Civil 4126 (RWS) ruling (#04-03256) final judgment.

Terminology

A notable feature of The Course is its unique choice of language. Author Robert Perry explains: "the meaning that we assign to words grows out of the meaning we see in life--in ourselves, in others, [and] in the world," but the Course is designed to transform the student's thought system, and the lexicon it utilizes is aimed specifically toward this end. Perry, Robert, A Course Glossary, The Circle of Atonement http://www.circleofa.org/ ISBN 1-886602-06-9 }} "A student of the Course must relearn language," Perry says, and "eventually, all the words treated by the Course trigger and reinforce the Course's perspective in the student" Some notable examples are listed below:

"Atonement"

Atonement, as used in the Course, is not related to punishment in any way. Rather, it is the undoing of errors (along with their results), errors being those human beliefs which are opposed to God's real thoughts.

"Fantasy" and "ego"

The Course broadens the application of the word, "fantasy" from a psychological process of imaginary scenarios to one responsible for existence itself: thoughts, behavior, and even the entire world. The end result is that the ego is removed from the student's understanding of language. In the Course, the ego is a false "insane" belief in a false identity; a separate mind living in a separate body. The Course considers the ego in complete opposition to God, fearing its individuality will disappear into God's Love and Oneness, therefore the ego's goal is to conquer and kill God by persuading one to constantly attack. (see also Psychological egoism)

"Miracle impulse"

A "'miracle impulse" is a naturally occurring creative impulse originating in spirit, as described in The Course. Miracle impulses are experienced in the mind and manifest in phenomenal reality as expressions of love and creativity.

Criticism

Some Doctrinal Christian apologists have considered it heretical or counterfeit. ISBN 0-9656809-0-8, Complete Story of the Course, Miller, D. Patrick, FEARLESS BOOKS Author and Yogi, Joel Kramer, states that the Course could be considered a classic Authoritarian example of programming thought to change beliefs. The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power, North Atlantic Books, http://www.amazon.com/dp/1883319005/, ISBN 1-883319-00-5. Anton van Harskamp, a Dutch scholar of religion, says that the Course contains, "...endless variation on some universally meant insights in life..." that, "...brings readers of the book, [or] in any case this reader, [to] a mood in which bewilderment and boredom take turns".[16], A Modern Miracle, Bezinningscentrum Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Long time teacher of the Course, Hugh Prather, notes that some of the ACIM students that he knew personally had become, "far more separate and egocentric," with some of them, "[losing] the ability to carry on a simple conversation". He admits that he and his wife Gayle, "...had ended up less flexible, less forgiving, and less generous than we were when we first started our path!" However, he attributes these behavioral shortcomings to the ego, not to the ACIM philosophy. Throughout the cited article Prather expresses admiration of the tenets of ACIM. His conclusion of the article contains the following statement "A Course in Miracles can survive in the 21st century, in fact it can transform the 21st century, if those who see the Reality it points to choose to extend themselves beyond their ego boundaries and make the interests of another their own".

See also

External links