ContentsAcknowledgementsWhat Is A Course in Miracles?The Issue of AuthorshipIntroduction to the Complete and Annotated Edition
A Course in MiraclesIntroductionVOLUME I: TEXTCHAPTER 1 Principles of Miracles
CHAPTER 2 Right Defense and Release from Fear I. The Real Meaning of Possession II. The Cause of the Separation III. The Proper Use of Denial IV. The Reinterpretation of Defenses V. The Atonement as Defense VI. The Restoration of the Altar VII. The Miracle as the Means of Healing VIII. The Sole Responsibility of the Miracle Worker IX. The Correction of Fear X. The Real Power of the Mind XI. The Basic Conflict XII. The Mastery of Love XIII. The Real Meaning of the Last Judgment
CHAPTER 3 Sane Perception I. The Need to Study II. Special Principles for Miracle Workers III. Atonement without Sacrifice IV. Innocent Perception V. Perception versus Knowledge VI. The Divided Mind VII. Beyond Perception VIII. The Essential Goal of Therapy IX. The Fear of Teaching X. Judgment and the Authority Problem XI. The Unshakable Foundation
CHAPTER 4 The Ego’s Struggle to Preserve Itself I. The Last Foolish Journey II. The Devoted Teacher III. The Making of the Ego IV. The Ego’s Need to Confirm Itself V. The Calm Being of God’s Kingdom VI. This Need Not Be VII. The Real Question VIII. The Rewards of God IX. Asking and Following X. Complete and Direct Communication XI. Being Truly Helpful CHAPTER 5 The Holy Spirit I. Being Wholly Joyous II. The Spirit of Joy III. The Voice for God IV. Sharing the Holy Spirit V. The Foundation for Real Sharing VI. The Ego’s Use of Guilt VII. The Question of Karma VIII. God’s Higher Court IX. The Eternal Fixation X. The Decision for God CHAPTER 6 The Lessons of Love I. The Message of the Crucifixion II. Projection and Separation III. Everything Meets in God IV. Teach Only Love V. The Answer to All Questions VI. The Call to Awake VII. The Lessons of the Holy Spirit A. To Have, Give All to All B. To Have Peace, Teach Peace and Therefore Learn It C. Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom VIII. The Last Step CHAPTER 7 The Extension of the Kingdom I. The Law of the Kingdom II. The Unification of Abilities III. Healing as a Way of Remembering IV. Healing and the Changelessness of Mind V. The Denial of Power VI. Extending the Gift of Life VII. The Ego’s Use of Projection VIII. Your Boundless Self-fullness IX. The Confusion of Pain and Joy X. The State of Grace CHAPTER 8 The Undivided Will to Heal I. The Unconflicted Curriculum II. The Holy Encounter III. Freedom of Will IV. The Undivided Will of the Sonship V. The Treasure of God VI. Using the Body Solely for Communication VII. Sickness as a False Witness VIII. Healing as the Will to Awaken CHAPTER 9 The Plan of Forgiveness I. Asking for What You Want II. Hearing God’s Answer in Everyone III. The Correction of Error IV. Looking beyond Error V. The Unhealed Healer VI. The Witnesses to Your Reality VII. The Two Evaluations VIII. Grandeur versus Grandiosity CHAPTER 10 The Religion of the Ego I. Waking to the Eternal II. The Will to Remember God III. The God of Sickness IV. No Other Laws but God’s V. The Denial of God CHAPTER 11 God or the Ego I. Your Place in God’s Mind II. Healing as the Recognition of Your Will III. The Dark Companions IV. God’s Blameless Son V. The Dynamicsof the Ego VI. Selecting Perception’s Witnesses VII. Believing in the Resurrection VIII. The Real World IX. Asking for God’s Answer CHAPTER 12 The Sanity of Love I. Interpreting the Motives of Others II. Fear as a Call for Love III. Looking at the Cause of Fear IV. Answering OutrageousRequests V. The OutsideWorld VI. Seeking and Finding VII. A Special Curriculum VIII. The Investment in the Real World IX. The Manifestations of the Holy Spirit X. The Visible and the Invisible CHAPTER 13 Release from Guilt I. The World of Guilt II. Looking upon the Guilty Secret III. The Fear of Redemption IV. The Function of Time V. The Two Emotions VI. The Continuous Present VII. The World That Shines with Love VIII. Leaving Your Needs to Him IX. Golden Aspects of Reality X. Laying Guilt upon Your Brother XI. Guilt and Real Relationships XII. The Certainty of Heaven CHAPTER 14 The Light of Guiltlessness I. The Logic of Blessedness II. The Happy Learner III. Guiltlessness and Invulnerability IV. Guiltless Decision Making V. Loving in a Loveless Place VI. The Condition for Knowing God VII. The Circle of Atonement VIII. The Sentinels of Darkness IX. Bringing Your Darkness to Him X. The Reflection of Holiness XI. The Equal Blessing of the Miracle XII. The Test of Perfect Peace CHAPTER 15 The Holy Instant and Special Relationships I. The Two Uses of Time II. Giving the Instant of Release III. Littleness versus Magnitude IV. Practicing the Holy Instant V. The Meaning of Love VI. In the Holy Instant VII. The Basis of the Special Relationship VIII. The Escape from Loneliness IX. Relationships without Limits X. The Demand for Sacrifice XI. Release from Sacrifice CHAPTER 16 Looking at the Special Relationship I. True Empathy II. The Power of Holiness III. The Joy of Teaching IV. Abandoning the Illusion of Love V. The Ritual of the Death of God VI. Across the Bridge VII. The Escape from Vengeance CHAPTER 17 The Holy Relationship I. Bringing Fantasy to Truth II. The Beauty of the Real World III. Shadow Figures IV. The Two Pictures V. The Beginning of the Holy Relationship VI. Setting the Goal VII. All-Inclusive Faith VIII. The Strain of Refusing Faith IX. The Branch in the Road CHAPTER 18 The Blessing of the Holy Relationship I. The Original Error II. Dreams as Protest against Reality III. The Advance to Truth IV. The Little Willingness V. The Ladder to Heaven VI. Beyond the Body VII. The Little Garden VIII. The Clouds of Guilt CHAPTER 19 From Sin to Peace I. Healing through Faith II. Sin versus Error III. The Unreality of Sin IV. The Obstacles to Peace A. The First Obstacle: The Desire to Get Rid of It B. The Second Obstacle: The Belief the Body Is Valuable for What It Offers C. The Third Obstacle: The Attraction of Death D. The Fourth Obstacle: The Fear of God CHAPTER 20 The Vision of Your Brother I. Holy Week II. The Gift of Lilies III. The Insanity of Adjustment IV. Entering the Ark V. Heralds of Eternity VI. The Temple of the Holy Spirit VII. Aligning Means and End VIII. The Vision of Sinlessness CHAPTER 21 Desiring a Sinless World I. The Forgotten Song II. The Power of Decision III. Faith, Belief, and Vision IV. The Fear to Look Within V. Reason as the Undoing of Insanity VI. What Reason Tells You VII. The Last Unanswered Question CHAPTER 22 The Function of the Holy Relationship I. The Undoing of Differences II. Christ Reborn into His Ancient Home III. The Escape from Misery IV. Seeing Past the Form of Error V. Beyond the Veil VI. The Need to Defend VII. I Need Do Nothing VIII. Becoming the Means to His End IX. Only the Different Can Attack CHAPTER 23 The Escape from Conflict I. Walk You in Glory II. The War against Yourself III. The Laws of Chaos IV. Above the Battleground CHAPTER 24 The Dream of Specialness I. The Hidden Belief in Specialness II. The Treachery of Specialness III. Forgiveness as the End of Specialness IV. The Shift in Purpose V. The Christ in You VI. Your Brother’s Holiness VII. Your Own Beloved Son CHAPTER 25 The Holy Spirit’s Justice I. Framed in Holiness II. God’s Masterpiece III. The Two Makers of the World IV. The Light You Bring V. Christ Stands before You VI. The Special Function VII. God Is Not Insane VIII. Justice Returned to Love IX. A Witness to Sinlessness X. The Justice of Miracles CHAPTER 26 Holy Ground I. The Sacrifice of Oneness II. Release from Every Problem III. The Borderland IV. Where Sin Once Was V. The Little Hindrance VI. Your Only Friend VII. A Review of the Laws of Healing VIII. The Immediacy of Salvation IX. For They Have Come X. Realizing Their Presence CHAPTER 27 Healing the Ancient Dream I. The Picture of Crucifixion II. Proof of Innocence III. Leaving Correction to Him IV. Power Unopposed V. The Quiet Answer VI. The Transfer of Your Healing VII. Sin’s Witnesses VIII. The Cause of Suffering IX. The Dreamer of the Dream X. Laughing Away the Tiny, Mad Idea XI. The Secret of Salvation CHAPTER 28 The Little Gap I. Remembering the Present II. Reversing Effect and Cause III. The Feast of Plenty IV. Separating the Dreamer from the Dream V. Share Not Evil Dreams VI. The Secret Vow VII. The Ark of Safety CHAPTER 29 The Worship of Idols I. The Cautious Friendship II. The Coming of the Guest III. The Body’s Nothingness IV. The Spark That Shines within the Dream V. Dream Roles VI. The Changeless Dwelling Place VII. Swear Not to Die VIII. Seek Not Outside Yourself IX. What Is an Idol? X. The Dream of Judgment CHAPTER 30 The New Beginning I. Rules for Decision II. Your Boundless Will III. The Search for Completion IV. The Thought God Holds of You V. The Toys of Fear VI. The Cost of Idols VII. Forgiveness Is Always Justified VIII. One Changeless Meaning IX. Changeless Reality CHAPTER 31 The Final Vision I. The Simplicity of Salvation II. The Passing of an Ancient Learning III. The Sleeping Prisoner IV. The Real Alternative V. The Concept of the Self VI. Recognizing the Spirit VII. Focusing on the Good VIII. The Savior’s Vision IX. Choose Once Again
1 Nothing I see…means anything
2 I have given everything…all the meaning that it has for me 3 I do not understand anything I see 4 These thoughts do not mean anything 5 I am never upset for the reason I think. 6 I am upset because I see something that is not there. 7 I see only the past. 8 My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts9 I see nothing as it is now.10 My thoughts do not mean anything
11 My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world. 12 I am upset because I see a meaningless world. 13 A meaningless world engenders fear. 14 God did not create a meaningless world. 15 My thoughts are images that I have made. 16 I have no neutral thoughts. 17 I see no neutral things. 18 I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing. 19 I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts. 20 I am determined to see. 21 I am determined to see things differently. 22 What I see is a form of vengeance. 23 I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts 24 I do not perceive my own best interests. 25 I do not know what anything is for. 26 My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability. 27 Above all else I want to see. 28 Above all else I want to see things differently. 29 God is in everything I see. 30 God is in everything I see because God is in my mind. 31 I am not the victim of the world I see. 32 I have invented the world I see. 33 There is another way of looking at the world. 34 I could see peace instead of this. 35 My mind is part of God’s. I am very holy. 36 My holiness envelops everything I see. 37 My holiness blesses the world. 38 There is nothing my holiness cannot do. 39 My holiness is my salvation. 40 I am blessed as a Son of God. 41 God goes with me wherever I go. 42 God is my strength. Vision is His gift. 43 God is my Source. I cannot see apart from Him. 44 God is the light in which I see. 45 God is the Mind with which I think. 46 God is the love in which I forgive. 47 God is the strength in which I trust. 48 There is nothing to fear. 49 God’s Voice speaks to me all through the day. 50 I am sustained by the love of God. REVIEW 1 Introduction 51 (1–5) 52 (6–10) 53 (11–15) 54 (16–20) 55 (21–25) 56 (26–30) 57 (31–35) 58 (36–40) 59 (41–45) 60 (46–50) 61 I am the light of the world. 62 Forgiveness is my function as the light of the world. 63 The light of the world brings peace to every mind through my forgiveness. 64 Let me not forget my function. 65 My only function is the one God gave me. 66 My happiness and my function are one. 67 Love created me like Itself. 68 Love holds no grievances. 69 My grievances hide the light of the world in me. 70 My salvation comes from me. 71 Only God’s plan for salvation will work. 72 Holding grievances is an attack on God’s plan for salvation. 73 I will there be light. 74 There is no will but God’s. 75 The light has come. 76 I am under no laws but God’s. 77 I am entitled to miracles. 78 Let miracles replace all grievances. 79 Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved. 80 Let me recognize my problems have been solved. REVIEW 2 Introduction 81 (61–62) 82 (63–64) 83 (65–66) 84 (67–68) 85 (69–70) 86 (71–72) 87 (73–74) 88 (75–76) 89 (77–78) 90 (79–80) 91 Miracles are seen in light. 92 Miracles are seen in light, and light and strength are one. 93 Light and joy and peace abide in me. 94 I am as God created me. 95 I am one Self, united with my Creator. 96 Salvation comes from my one Self. 97 I am spirit. 98 I will accept my part in God’s plan for salvation. 99 Salvation is my only function here. 100 My part is essential to God’s plan for salvation. 101 God’s will for me is perfect happiness. 102 I share God’s will for happiness for me. 103 God, being love, is also happiness. 104 I seek but what belongs to me in truth. 105 God’s peace and joy are mine. 106 Let me be still and listen to the truth. 107 Truth will correct all errors in my mind. 108 To give and to receive are one in truth. 109 I rest in God. 110 I am as God created me. REVIEW 3 Introduction 111 (91–92) 112 (93–94) 113 (95–96) 114 (97–98) 115 (99–100) 116 (101–102) 117 (103–104) 118 (105–106) 119 (107–108) 120 (109–110) 121 Forgiveness is the key to happiness. 122 Forgiveness offers everything I want. 123 I thank my Father for His gifts to me. 124 Let me remember I am one with God. 125 In quiet I receive God’s Word today. 126 All that I give is given to myself. 127 There is no love but God’s. 128 The world I see has nothing that I want. 129 Beyond this world there is a world I want. 130 It is impossible to see two worlds. 131 No one can fail who asks to reach the truth. 132 I loose the world from all I thought it was. 133 I will not value what is valueless. 134 Let me perceive forgiveness as it is. 135 If I defend myself I am attacked. 136 Sickness is a defense against the truth. 137 As I am healed I am not healed alone. 138 Heaven is the decision I must make. 139 I will accept Atonement for myself. 140 Only salvation can be said to cure. REVIEW 4 Introduction 141 (121–122) 142 (123–124) 143 (125–126) 144 (127–128) 145 (129–130) 146 (131–132) 147 (133–134) 148 (135–136) 149 (137–138) 150 (139–140) 151 All things are echoes of the Voice of God. 152 The power of decision is my own. 153 In my defenselessness my safety lies. 154 I am among the ministers of God. 155 I will step back and let Him lead the way. 156 I walk with God in perfect holiness. 157 Into His presence would I enter now. 158 Today I learn to give as I receive. 159 I give the miracles I have received. 160 I am at home. Fear is the stranger here. 161 Give me your blessing, holy Son of God. 162 I am as God created me. 163 There is no death. The Son of God is free. 164 Now are we one with Him Who is our Source. 165 Let not my mind deny the thought of God. 166 I am entrusted with the gifts of God. 167 There is one life, and that I share with God. 168 Your grace is given me. I claim it now. 169 By grace I live. By grace I am released. 170 There is no cruelty in God and none in me. REVIEW 5 Introduction 171 (151–152) 172 (153–154) 173 (155–156) 174 (157–158) 175 (159–160) 176 (161–162) 177 (163–164) 178 (165–166) 179 (167–168) 180 (169–170) Introduction to Lessons 181-200 181 I trust my brothers, who are one with me. 182 I will be still a moment and go home. 183 I call upon God’s Name and on my own. 184 The Name of God is my inheritance. 185 I want the peace of God. 186 Salvation of the world depends on me. 187 I bless the world because I bless myself. 188 The peace of God is shining in me now. 189 I feel the love of God within me now. 190 I choose the joy of God instead of pain. 191 I am the holy Son of God Himself. 192 I have a function God would have me fill. 193 All things are lessons God would have me learn. 194 I place the future in the hands of God. 195 Love is the way I walk in gratitude. 196 It can be but myself I crucify. 197 It can be but my gratitude I earn. 198 Only my condemnation injures me. 199 I am not a body. I am free. 200 There is no peace except the peace of God. REVIEW 6 Introduction 201 (181) 202 (182) 203 (183) 204 (184) 205 (185) 206 (186) 207 (187) 208 (188) 209 (189) 210 (190) 211 (191) 212 (192) 213 (193) 214 (194) 215 (195) 216 (196) 217 (197) 218 (198) 219 (199) 220 (200) Part II Introduction 1. What Is Forgiveness? 221 Peace to my mind. Let all my thoughts be still. 222 God is with me. I live and breathe in Him. 223 God is my life. I have no life but Him. 224 God is my Father, and He loves His Son. 225 God is my Father, and His Son loves Him. 226 My home awaits me. I will hasten there. 227 This is my holy instant of release. 228 God has condemned me not. No more do I. 229 Love, which created me, is what I am. 230 Now will I seek and find the peace of God. 2. What Is Salvation? 231 Father, I will but to remember You. 232 Be in my mind, my Father, through the day. 233 I give my life to God to run today. 234 Father, today I am Your Son again. 235 God in His mercy wills that I be saved. 236 I rule my mind, which I alone must rule. 237 Now would I be as God created me. 238 On my decision all salvation rests. 239 The glory of my Father is my own. 240 Fear is not justified in any form. 3. What Is the World? 241 This holy instant is salvation come. 242 This day is God’s. It is my gift to Him. 243 Today I will judge nothing that occurs. 244 I am in danger nowhere in the world. 245 Your peace is with me, Father. I am safe. 246 To love my Father is to love His Son. 247 Without forgiveness I will still be blind. 248 Whatever suffers is not part of me. 249 Forgiveness ends all suffering and loss. 250 Let me not see myself as limited. 4. What Is Sin? 251 I am in need of nothing but the truth. 252 The Son of God is my identity. 253 Let every voice but God’s be still in me. 254 Let every voice but God’s be still in me. 255 This day I choose to spend in perfect peace. 256 God is the only goal I have today. 257 Let me remember what my purpose is. 258 Let me remember that my goal is God. 259 Let me remember that there is no sin. 260 Let me remember God created me. 5. What Is the Body? 261 God is my refuge and security. 262 Let me perceive no differences today. 263 My holy vision sees all things as pure. 264 I am surrounded by the love of God. 265 Creation’s gentleness is all I see. 266 My holy Self abides in you, God’s Son. 267 My heart is beating in the peace of God. 268 Let all things be exactly as they are. 269 My sight goes forth to look upon Christ’s face. 270 I will not use the body’s eyes today. 6. What Is the Christ? 271 Christ’s is the vision I will use today. 272 How can illusions satisfy God’s Son? 273 The stillness of the peace of God is mine. 274 Today belongs to love. Let me not fear. 275 God’s healing Voice protects all things today. 276 The Word of God is given me to speak. 277 Let me not bind Your Son with laws I made. 278 If I am bound, my Father is not free. 279 Creation’s freedom promises my own. 280 What limits can I lay upon God’s Son? 7. What Is the Holy Spirit? 281 I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts. 282 I will not be afraid of love today. 283 My true identity abides in You. 284 I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt. 285 My holiness shines bright and clear today. 286 The hush of Heaven holds my heart today. 287 You are my goal, my Father. Only You. 288 Let me forget my brother’s past today. 289 The past is over. It can touch me not. 290 My present happiness is all I see. 8. What Is the Real World? 291 This is a day of stillness and of peace. 292 A happy outcome to all things is sure. 293 All fear is past and only love is here. 294 My body is a wholly neutral thing. 295 The Holy Spirit looks through me today. 296 The Holy Spirit speaks through me today. 297 Forgiveness is the only gift I give. 298 I love You, Father, and I love Your Son. 299 Eternal holiness abides in me. 300 Only an instant does this world endure. 9. What Is the Second Coming? 301 And God Himself shall wipe away all tears. 302 Where darkness was I look upon the light. 303 The holy Christ is born in me today. 304 Let not my world obscure the sight of Christ. 305 There is a peace that Christ bestows on us. 306 The gift of Christ is all I seek today. 307 Conflicting wishes cannot be my will. 308 This instant is the only time there is. 309 I will not fear to look within today. 310 In fearlessness and love I spend today. 10. What Is the Last Judgment? 311 I judge all things as I would have them be. 312 I see all things as I would have them be. 313 Now let a new perception come to me. 314 I seek a future different from the past. 315 All gifts my brothers give belong to me. 316 All gifts I give my brothers are my own. 317 I follow in the way appointed me. 318 In me salvation’s means and end are one. 319 I came for the salvation of the world. 320 My Father gives all power unto me. 11. What Is Creation? 321 Father, my freedom is in You alone. 322 I can give up but what was never real. 323 I gladly make the sacrificeof fear. 324 I merely follow, for I would not lead. 325 All things I think I see reflect ideas. 326 I am forever an effect of God. 327 I need but call and You will answer me. 328 I choose the second place to gain the first. 329 I have already chosen what You will. 330 I will not hurt myself again today. 12. What Is the Ego? 331 There is no conflict, for my will is Yours. 332 Fear binds the world. Forgiveness sets it free. 333 Forgiveness ends the dream of conflict here. 334 Today I claim the gifts forgiveness gives. 335 I choose to see my brother’s sinlessness. 336 Forgiveness ends the dream of conflict here. 337 Today I claim the gifts forgiveness gives. 338 I am affected only by my thoughts. 339 I will receive whatever I request. 340 I can be free of suffering today. 13. What Is a Miracle? 341 I can attack but my own sinlessness,and it is only that which keeps me safe. 342 I let forgiveness rest upon all things,for thus forgiveness will be given me. 343 I am not asked to make a sacrificeto find the mercy and the peace of God. 344 Today I learn the law of love: that what I give my brother is my gift to me. 345 I offer only miracles today, for I would have them be returned to me. 346 Today the peace of God envelops me, and I forget all things except His love. 347 Anger must come from judgment. Judgment is the weapon I would use against myself to keep the miracle away from me. 348 I have no cause for anger or for fear, for You surround me. And in every need that I perceive Your grace suffices me. 349 Today I let Christ’s vision look upon all things for me and judge them not, but give each one a miracle of love instead. 350 Miracles mirror God’s eternal love. To offer them is to remember Him, and through His memory to save the world. 14. What Am I? 351 My sinless brother is my guide to peace. My sinful brother is my guide to pain.And which I choose to see I will behold. 352 Judgment and love are opposites. From one come all the sorrows of the world. But from the other comes the peace of God Himself. 353 My eyes, my tongue, my hands, my feet today have but one purpose: to be given Christ to use to bless the world with miracles. 354 We stand together, Christ and I, in peace and certainty of purpose. And in Him is His Creator, as He is in me. 355 There is no end to all the peace and joy, and all the miracles that I will give, when I accept God’s Word. Why not today? 356 Sickness is but another name for sin. Healing is but another name for God. The miracle is thus a call to Him. 357 Truth answers every call we make to God, responding first with miracles, and then returning unto us to be itself. 358 No call to God can be unheard or left unanswered. And of this I can be sure: His answer is the one I really want. 359 God’s answer is some form of peace. All pain is healed; all misery replaced with joy. All prison doors are opened. And all sin is understood as merely a mistake. 360 Peace be to me, the holy Son of God. Peace to my brother, who is one with me. Let all the world be blessed with peace through us. FINAL LESSONS Introduction 361- This holy instant would I give to You. 365 Be You in charge. For I would follow You, certain that Your direction brings me peace. Epilogue VOLUME III: MANUAL FOR TEACHERS Introduction 1. Who Are God’s Teachers? 2. Who Are Their Pupils? 3. What Are the Levels of Teaching? 4. What Are the Characteristics of God’s Teachers? I. Trust II. Honesty III. Tolerance IV. Gentleness V. Joy VI. Defenselessness VII. Generosity VIII. Patience IX. Faithfulness X. Open-Mindedness 5. How Is Healing Accomplished? I. The Perceived Purpose of Sickness II. The Shift in Perception III. The Function of the Teacher of God 6. Is Healing Certain? 7. Should Healing Work Be Repeated? 8. How Can the Perception of Orders of Difficulty in Healing Be Avoided? 9. Are Changes Required in the Life Situation of God’s Teachers? 10. How Is Judgment Relinquished? 11. How Is Peace Possible in This World? 12. How Many Teachers of God Are Needed to Save the World? 13. What Is the Real Meaning of Sacrifice? 14. How Will the World End? 15. Is Each One to Be Judged in the End? 16. How Should the Teacher of God Spend His Day? 17. How Do God’s Teachers Deal with Their Pupils’ Thoughts of Magic? 18. How Is Correction Made? 19 What Is Justice? 20. What Is the Peace of God? 21. What Is the Role of Words in Healing? 22. How Are Healing and Atonement Related? 23. Does Jesus Have a Special Place in Healing? 24. Is Reincarnation True? 25. Are “Psychic” Powers Desirable? 26. Can God Be Reached Directly? 27. What Is Death? 28. What Is the Resurrection? 29. As for the Rest CLARIFICATION OF TERMS Introduction 1. Mind – Spirit 2. Forgiveness – the Face of Christ 3. True Perception – Knowledge 4. Jesus – Christ 5. The Holy Spirit 6. The Ego – the Miracle EpilogueAppendices
APPENDIX I: Cameo essays1 “This Is Not a Selfish Gift"
2 “My Strength Will Support You” 3 “You Must Love the Children and Help Them” 4 “An Example of the Shock Effect” 5 The Shield Report 6 Letting Him Take Charge of Minutiae 7 An Experience of Revelation 8 The Mother of the Children 9 Mrs. Albert, Miracle Worker 10 “Under Instruction” 11 The Notes on Sex 12 “Defenses Are Now Being Used Much Better” 13 “God Created Time”? 14 The Chain of Miscreation 15 Edgar Cayce 16 Helen’s Extra Mile 17 Bill’s Class 18 Meditation and Guidance 19 The Editing of the Notes 20 The Undivided Mind 21 “You Do Not Realize How Much You Hate Each Other” 22 “The Return of His Will” 23 “The Savage Problem of Personal Rejection” 24 Mike 25 The Course’s Version of the Lord’s Prayer 26 Helen and Bill’s Holy Relationship 27 “I Need Do Nothing” 28 The Blue-Gray Bird 29 Iambic Pentameter 30 “As You See Him You Will See Yourself” 31 The Priestess 32 “God Is” 33 Was There a Physical Resurrection? APPENDIX II: The need for this edition and how it was made The Need for This Edition and How It Was Made APPENDIX III: Glossary of Course terms Glossary of Course Terms
There are so many people to thank for their contributions to this book. Without their help, hard work, and thoughtful feedback, the project simply could not have happened. Many of the people below have given years of their lives to this project, out of a deep sense of inner calling. Our deepest gratitude goes to the following people:
Mary Anne Buchowski, for her years of tireless help with nearly every aspect of the project, including cover-to-cover detailed editorial feedback and advice, and extensive transcription checking. Amy Speach, for years of incredible work in transcribing the Notes for the Text and part of the Workbook, and also for invaluable editorial feedback, and transcription checking. Mike Tolley, for happily and with great fortitude doing everything we could throw at him for years, including checking all of the editing notes for accuracy and completeness, transcription checking, and editorial feedback. Suzanne Gallogly, for the vast task of checking the accuracy of the entire transcription. Ellen Frisch, for her dedicated and precise work in transcribing the Notes for most of the Workbook and also the Manual for Teachers. Pat Beals, for heroic efforts with a variety of different checking projects. Nicola Perry, for her devotion and meticulous care in overseeing the book’s design and production, and also for editorial feedback. And Thor Griffin and John Griffin, for their unconditionally loving support of this project.
We are immensely grateful to all who checked the accuracy of our transcription of the Notes: Suzanne Gallogly, Mary Anne Buchowski, James Gregory, Amy Speach, Nicola Perry, Pat Beals, Mike Tolley, Ellen Frisch, Lindsay Kozel (who also transcribed the Clarification of Terms), Julie Glynn-Dailly, Linda Snow, Rick Baker, and Judy Robb.
Another huge thank you goes to all who offered various kinds of feedback and/or helped with checking for errors: Mary Anne Buchowski, Amy Speach, Nicola Perry, Mike Tolley, Pat Beals, James Gregory, Rev. Jerry Cusimano, Judy Robb, Veronica Vaughan, Thomas Dunn, Nancy Pickard, Martha Fitzgerald, Christien Snelders, Kathy Chomitz, Barb Hembling, Ken Froessel, Andre Gendron, Steve Clarke, Darcy Polito, Simon Joseph, Suzanne Gallogly, Rick Baker, Christian Salamon, Ellen Frisch, Lindsay Kozel, Allen Watson, Gill Brisk, Phil Brisk, Patricia Zamudio, Don De Lene, Brenda De Lene, Julie Glynn-Dailly, Doug Fogle, Justin Chin, Angela Skene, Linda Snow, Sue Bouse, Janet Chandler, Dennis Chandler, Bob Turrou, George Porter, Victor Guraieb, and Joseph Baker.
Our gratitude goes to those who contributed their professional expertise: Jane Perini, for her stunning design of the cover and interior. Ramesh Kumar Pitchai, for his industrious and energetic work with the typesetting. Adam Perry, for his technical wizardry in creating the computer macro that numbered the paragraphs and sentences. And Corey Field, our outside legal counsel, for his truly expert guidance.
We are deeply grateful to Judith Skutch-Whitson and the Board of the Foundation for Inner Peace for graciously granting us permission to use the Clarification of Terms and to quote from Helen Schucman’s autobiography.
Finally, our unbounded gratitude goes to Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford for bringing A Course in Miracles into the world.
What Is A Course in Miracles?
A Course in Miracles is a path of spiritual development that takes the form of an educational course consisting of a Text, a Workbook for Students, and a Manual for Teachers. Its aim is to reeducate our basic perception of reality and teach us to extend this new perception to others, so that we can both give happiness and find happiness.
The Course has no human author in the conventional sense, but was authored through a process of inner dictation. Helen Schucman (1909-1981) and William Thetford (1923-1988) were respected psychologists at the top of their field working at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. In the summer of 1965, after years of conflict with each other and within their department, Bill made an impassioned speech to Helen in which he said, “There must be another way”—a way in which people could cooperate rather than compete. Helen surprised him by saying she would join him in this new approach. It was a rare moment of joining for them, which they knew was significant at the time, but which had repercussions far beyond what they could have imagined.
Helen, a self-professed “militant atheist,” soon began having a series of inner visions, heightened dreams, and psychic experiences. These culminated in the fall of 1965, when she heard an inner voice say to her “This is a course in miracles, please take notes.” This same voice told her that she had agreed to take down A Course in Miracles as her contribution to a larger plan to restore humanity’s forward spiritual progress.
Thus began seven years of “scribing” A Course in Miracles. Helen would write down the words of the inner voice in shorthand notebooks and would later dictate what she had written to Bill, who would type it up. She sometimes resisted taking dictation and often argued with the Course’s teaching, yet she did her utmost to faithfully record what she was hearing. Despite her skepticism, the Course clearly commanded great respect from her. In her autobiography she wrote of “the particular combination of certainty, wisdom, gentleness, clarity and patience that characterized the Voice.”1 She and Bill considered the Course a sacred trust that they had been charged with, and Helen ultimately came to refer to it as her life’s work.
Once A Course in Miracles was published in 1976, it had a similar effect on readers. They, like Helen, often argued with it, yet at the same time granted it tremendous authority, and many devoted their lives to it. In the time since it was published, the Course has sold nearly three million copies. It has become a modern spiritual classic, acquiring a scriptural status in the eyes of readers around the world.
First and foremost, A Course in Miracles is a course, an educational program. It is designed to take its students through a process of internalizing its thought system. In this process, we learn to accept into our minds and extend to others what the Course calls miracles, which heal the perception of the one receiving them. Each of the Course’s three volumes signifies a different phase in this overall process. (The volumes need not be done in order, but they are arranged in a logical sequence that reflects the overall progression the Course seems to expect students to pass through.)
The Text is the first, longest, and most important volume. It provides the “theoretical foundation”2 of the Course. The Text is a masterpiece of spiritual thought. As it guides us through hundreds of topics, the meanings we have assigned the world begin to fall away, revealing a new meaning in everything. This happens even on the level of language. The Course uses familiar terms, but fills them with new meaning, making each term a microcosm of its thought system. As a result, the Text is not an easy read. To reap its rewards, we have to truly engage with it. The Course asks us to read its words slowly and carefully, thinking about what they mean. It asks us to take them personally and treat them as practical, as more than an intellectual game. If we will do this with the Text, we will experience our old worldview being slowly dismantled and a new worldview arising in its place.
Study of the Text is the first phase of the Course’s program. It is here that the Course’s thought system initially enters our minds. This is only the beginning of the process, yet it is the foundation for all that follows.
The second volume, the Workbook, contains 365 lessons, one for each day of the year. In each lesson (with the exception of review lessons), we take a single Course idea and practice it in specified ways throughout the day. As we apply it to ourselves, to others, and to our daily situations and events, our perception shifts and we see with new eyes. We feel peace where before we felt anxiety and agitation. We ultimately learn to enfold each day in peace, so that we begin the day in a state of peace, renew that peace throughout the day, recover it when it is shaken, and end the day resting in that same peace. In service of this goal, the Workbook teaches us a variety of different practices, including its own methods of meditation and prayer. The Workbook, then, is really a training program in the Course’s system of spiritual practice. Even though it is designed as a one-year program, it is meant to ground in us a lifelong habit of spiritual practice, to usher us into a new internal way of life.
Practice of the Workbook is the second phase in the Course’s curriculum. Through practice, the same ideas that we learned in the Text become more deeply internalized. They increasingly become the lens through which we see and the source of what we feel. The Manual for Teachers, while it can be read by any student, is written to those who have completed the Text and Workbook and will now extend the Course’s thought system to others. The Manual focuses on two forms of this extension. The first form is that of the teacher of pupils, in which a more experienced student of the Course plays the role of mentor, skillfully guiding a pupil along the path of the Course. This is apparently the Course’s preferred method for teaching and learning its curriculum. The other form is that of a healer who goes to those with health issues and shines the healing power of forgiveness into their minds. Extending to others can take many forms in addition to these, but its essence is simply the giving of love, usually in very ordinary ways.
Extension is the third and final phase in the Course’s program. Here, we take the same thought system we studied in the Text and practiced in the Workbook and extend it to others in the form of expressions of love. This benefits us as well as them, for when we give away an idea (like love), we strengthen its presence in our own minds. As the Course says, “Everything you teach you are learning. Teach only love, and learn that love is yours and you are love.”3 Through our extension, the Course’s thought system receives its final reinforcement in us, so that it at last commands our total belief. The new world of meaning that we first encountered in the Text has now become the only meaning that we see in ourselves and in all things.
A Course in Miracles offers a unique perspective on reality, the human condition, and the path to happiness. What follows is an attempt to condense its grand symphony of ideas into a brief summary.
The foundation for everything in the Course is its concept of an unconditionally loving God. Though God is genderless, the Course describes God as being like the perfect father—purely loving, without the slightest trace of anger—only expanded to infinity. Before time began, this loving Father created us as His beloved Sons. He poured all of His attributes, all of His being, into us, so that we were exactly like Him—egoless, limitless, and filled with an impartial, all-encompassing love. He created us without bodies, without any boundaries to wall us off from Him. We thus existed in boundless oneness with God and with each other, basking in a love from Him that exceeds our current comprehension. As the Course says about this love, “There is nothing on earth with which it can be compared, and nothing you have ever felt apart from Him that resembles it ever so faintly.”4 We lived in a timeless Heaven in a state of happiness so expansive that taking our greatest moment of earthly happiness and multiplying it ten thousand times only begins to hint at it.5 Such a Heaven may sound alien to us now, yet this, says the Course, is our natural environment. This is home.
What, then, happened? “Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea at which the Son of God remembered not [i.e., forgot] to laugh.”6 We had a thought that we could go our own way, that we could be above the other Sons and even above God. This was impossible, for all of reality is changelessly held within the power of God’s authorship. And so we withdrew into a dream of separation. We collectively dreamt an entire universe in which everyone was separate, selfishly contending with each other and locked inside vulnerable bodies that aged and died. The Course teaches that the world of time and space was not created by God: “He is not mad. Yet only madness makes a world like this.”7 It also teaches that however solid this world may seem to be, it is not truly real.
This might initially sound disheartening, yet it is actually wonderful news, for it means that Heaven remains the only reality and that this world of pain never really happened. From an ultimate standpoint, it is laughable to think that we could truly leave God and make a world apart from Him. We therefore have a rational basis for feeling free from all that we have done and all that has been done to us, for we are free of it.
We, however, believe this world is real, and so all of our efforts go towards rearranging its circumstances. We chase after possessions and money and power. We search for that special person who will make us happy. We lavish attention on our body—its appearance, its pleasure, its comfort, and its safety. Yet none of it really works. It all just perpetuates the real problem, which remains unaddressed.
The real problem is not in the world; it is in our mind. The problem is what the Course calls the ego. The ego is nothing more than a false belief about our identity. It is the belief that we are separate, alone, and on our own. The ego is egocentric. Its basic mode is attack, both in the form of attack thoughts (e.g., judgment and condemnation) and attacking behavior. We try to cover up our attacks with smiles, but their basic intent is still to take from others—their self-respect, their possessions, their status, their innocence—for the sake of our own gain. All we really receive, however, is a crushing burden of guilt. Over time our “sins” accumulate, so that we end up dragging our past misdeeds behind us like heavy chains. Deep in our unconscious, we believe that we have hopelessly defiled our original innocence, that we “have made a devil of God’s Son.”8 This belief is the hidden cause of all our suffering, for it is a constant affirmation that we deserve to suffer, as punishment for what we’ve done. The Course puts it bluntly: “Guilt is…the sole cause of pain in any form.”9
In a desperate attempt to get rid of this guilt, we project it outward. Now the guilt that we see inside appears to be outside of us, lurking in everyone we meet. And now the pain that is actually caused from within (by guilt) seems to come at us from without, from a series of callous people and calamitous events. Through projection, we see ourselves as a good person surrounded by a cruel world, a world bristling with potential threats. We therefore live in a state of fear, wondering where the next attack will come from. What we don’t realize is that the real source of our fear is our own guilt. We are afraid that our sins will eventually catch up with us.
As hopeless as this scenario sounds, the Course teaches that there is a way out of the ego and all the suffering it brings. This way involves a transformation of our thinking, a transformation that mainly takes the form of a sea change in our perception of others. We begin by realizing that our current view of others, far from being objective truth, is the product of hidden dynamics in our own minds. Other people are radically different from the beings we perceive them to be. We see them as sinners who have stolen our happiness, but that is only because we have projected onto them the sense of sinfulness within us that has really robbed us of happiness. We see them as tiny bodies containing petty personalities, but in truth they are something infinitely greater. They are the limitless Sons of God, who are still as pure and holy as they were in the instant God created them. If we can just withdraw our projections and see past outer appearances, we will see in others, as the Course puts it, a “beauty that will enchant you, and will never cease to cause you wonderment at its perfection.”10 And the beauty we see in them we will then recognize in ourselves.
This shift in perception is called forgiveness, but it is a very different kind of forgiveness than what we are used to. In the Course, we do not first assume that another person really deserves our anger but then go ahead and “forgive” her anyway. Rather, we realize that our anger is based on a mistaken perception of her, and so we let that perception go. We forgive, in other words, by realizing “that there is nothing to forgive.”11 This kind of forgiveness is so egoless that, in our ego-bound state, we need the help of the Holy Spirit, God’s Voice in the dream, to complete it. It is He Who, in a holy instant, accomplishes the miracle of forgiveness within us. Yet because this forgiveness is egoless, choosing it teaches us that we are egoless. If to err is human and to forgive divine, then our forgiveness shows us that we are divine.
Through forgiveness we begin to relate to others in a new way. Rather than taking from them to meet our needs, we extend help and healing to them for the sake of their needs. We take the love that arises in us through forgiveness and express it in a helpful way. This, in fact, is the main meaning of the word “miracle” in the Course: an expression of love that heals the perception of another—which is what love always does. As our love deepens, giving miracles becomes our whole function, our life purpose. “I am the light of the world,” the Workbook has us say. “That is my only function. That is why I am here.”12 In this function we rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, trusting Him to tell us who needs our help and how they can best receive it. Rather than this being a noble sacrifice, it fills us with joy, for the more we give the more we ourselves receive. As the Course assures us many times, “giving and receiving are the same.”13
Our practice of forgiveness and our extension to others eventually allow the eyes of Christ to open within us. These are spiritual eyes in us that see with true vision. Seeing past bodies, they look upon the holiness in others just as plainly as our body’s eyes look on physical forms. Through the eyes of Christ we will at last see the real world, a world of light composed of the radiant holiness in everyone and everything. The body of another will now seem increasingly irrelevant “and will at length be seen as little more than just a shadow circling round the good.”14 No longer will we see a world of enemies poised to attack. Although the forms of the world will still behave much as before, we will see beneath the surface to a world that could not be more opposite: “Everyone and everything I see will lean toward me to bless me. I will recognize in everyone my dearest friend.”15 And we in turn will love everyone, with a divine love that completely ignores all differences between people, including differences in how they treat us.
The real world is ultimately an illusion, yet it is a pristine reflection of reality. And so when we have fully entered the real world, we are just a step away from Heaven. Our love and forgiveness have taught us that we are not the guilty ego we had believed ourselves to be. Did we really think we had the power to change the purity God gave us? “We lay aside the arrogance which says that we are sinners, guilty and afraid, ashamed of what we are, and lift our hearts in true humility instead to Him Who has created us immaculate, like to Himself in power and in love.”16 Our own efforts are now done. All barriers to the awareness of our true identity are past. We are finally ready to be in our Father’s love again. Now God Himself leans down to us “and takes us in His arms and sweeps away the cobwebs of our sleep.”17 Now He lifts us back into our waking state of oneness with Him. Now at last we can say to Him, in the words of the closing line of the Text, “And we are home, where You would have us be.”18
1. Helen Cohn Schucman, Ph.D., Autobiography (Temecula, CA: Foundation for A Course in Miracles, 1990, 2009), p. 44.
4. T-14.VI.2:4. 5. W-107.2:1-6.
10. T-17.II.2:6. 11. T-15.VIII.5:7.
13. T-25.X.9:6; T-26.I.3:4, W-108.6:1; W-121.9:1; W-225.1:1; M-2.5:5.
The Issue of Authorship
When encountering A Course in Miracles, it is impossible to avoid the question of authorship. No author is listed on the cover because the book was not authored in the conventional manner. Helen Schucman thought of herself not as the author but as the “scribe.” According to her, she was merely writing down the words spoken to her by a voice in her mind.
The claimed identity of this voice is not hard to discern. The author refers to his birth as the event we celebrate at Christmas, his teachings and miracles as recorded in the New Testament, his disciples (including Judas and Peter), the biblical titles given him (like Lamb of God and Prince of Peace), his crucifixion, his resurrection, his post-resurrection appearances, his ascension, his sending of the Holy Spirit, and his current-day followers. The author clearly talks about himself as Jesus.
People have been uncomfortable with this claim from the beginning. Helen would write about the author euphemistically as “the Voice” and in public gatherings would have someone else respond to the inevitable question as to the identity of this voice. Helen’s “co-scribe,” Bill Thetford, also shied away from identifying the source of the material as Jesus, seeming to point instead to a spiritual influence “beyond conceptualization.”19 Even today, while Course students seem to generally accept Jesus as the author, this “Jesus” seems largely dissociated from the man who walked the earth two thousand years ago.
What do we do about a modern-day book that claims to be authored by the most revered religious figure in human history? How do we evaluate a claim like that? One place to begin is by acknowledging that, as outlandish as the claim may initially seem, for perhaps most of us such a thing is at least theoretically possible. For Christians, Jesus is still present and able to communicate with us. And for those who believe in life after death (a majority worldwide, according to polls), Jesus, like everyone else, would have survived his death and therefore could in theory make contact with us.
Obviously, however, it’s not enough for it to be theoretically possible that Jesus authored A Course in Miracles. We need specific reasons for believing that he did. And here we run up against what looks like an insurmountable barrier: the Jesus of A Course in Miracles is a very different figure than the Jesus of traditional Christianity. He does not see himself, for instance, as the only begotten Son of God. Likewise, he does not see salvation as hinging on faith in him. And he emphatically rejects the idea that he died for our sins.
This would seem to put to rest the Course’s authorship claim, except for one thing: Two centuries of historical scholarship have established that the real Jesus of Nazareth also did not fit the image of the traditional Jesus. Indeed, there are tantalizing parallels between the historical Jesus as revealed by scholarship and the author of A Course in Miracles. These parallels become especially interesting when we look at a body of sayings found in both Matthew and Luke that most scholars believe came from an earlier sayings gospel. This earlier gospel is called “Q” by scholars and it is widely regarded as our earliest and best source for the original teachings of Jesus.20
To see these parallels, we must first try to flesh out the historical Jesus. By leaning on the work of modern scholarship and by examining the most well-attested sayings in the gospels, with special weight given to material regarded as coming from the Sayings Gospel Q, we can construct the following portrait of Jesus of Nazareth and his teachings.21
A portrait of the historical Jesus and his teachings
Jesus primarily presented himself not as a dying and rising savior, but as a teacher. Further, his teaching was not mainly about himself. Instead, he was a teacher of wisdom, which means his teaching was about how to live in this world, not how to attain a blessed state in the next.
The wisdom he taught was not a conventional wisdom that set forth bland moral precepts. Rather, it was a subversive wisdom that overturned his audience’s most basic assumptions about life and beckoned them to enter into a radically new perception of reality. Renowned Jesus scholar Marcus Borg offered this summary of the consensus of the field:
Rather strikingly, the most certain thing we know about Jesus according to the current scholarly consensus is that he was a teller of stories and a speaker of great one-liners whose purpose was the transformation of perception. At the center of his message was an invitation to see differently.22
Like many other sages, Jesus lays before his audience two pathways. The first is the way of the world. One might assume that, being a religious teacher, he would see the way to be avoided as consisting of sinful disobedience to God’s laws. However, for him the problem lies in conventional life itself, the life that we all are leading, which he portrays in surprisingly realistic terms. The characters in his sayings are trying to make their way in a harsh world. Guided by the usual self-interest and egotism, they are filled with anxiety and self-concern as they contemplate what they are up against. They are anxious about money, about food and clothing. They are beset by enemies, poverty, disease, and death. They are trying to climb the social ladder, or are being stepped on at the bottom of it. They are desperately trying to win at a game in which, strangely, even the winners end up losing. They are, in short, a lot like us.
In the midst of our losing battle, Jesus offers us a way out. Rather than being at the mercy of a hostile world, we can place ourselves in the care of a loving Father. Jesus’ view of God is a bold departure from tradition. We are accustomed to thinking of God as the righteous judge who sorts people into their appropriate categories, punishing the wicked and rewarding the good. But in saying after saying, Jesus reveals a God of “indiscriminate generosity,”23 as one scholar put it, a God who lavishes His care equally on sinner and saint. “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good,” Jesus says, “and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”24
Jesus then calls us to imitate God’s unconditional love in our own relationships. Just as God does not sort people into those He draws near and those He casts out, so Jesus calls us to follow suit, to stop restricting our love to our inner circle: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?”25 He calls us to love the destitute, the hated foreigner, our oppressor, and even our enemy with the same wholehearted love we currently reserve for our closest companions. This involves rising above our stingy habit of reciprocity, of treating others as they treat us. Thus, if someone wrongs us five hundred times, we still continue to forgive.26 If we know that a borrower won’t be able to pay us back, we lend to him anyway.27 If someone assaults us and tries to forcibly take something from us, we turn it into an opportunity to give, and then generously give him twice what he is trying to take.28
Jesus’ aim is to persuade us to make the leap from the world’s way into his way. He is trying to talk us into a seismic inner shift—in our values, our sense of identity, and our perception of the world. It may seem impossible for such a profound change to be induced simply through talk, yet Jesus is a master of words. Perhaps we picture him using words to simply proclaim the truth based on scriptural authority or his own personal authority, but instead he reasons with us. He appeals to our own ability to see. He begins with a realistic story, an observation of nature, or a commonsense principle, and from that familiar starting point he leads us to a different world. He uses ordinary persuasion to bring us to an extraordinary conclusion.
This conclusion is that the only logical choice is to embrace his way and enter what he calls the kingdom of God—which scholars agree was his central theme. We tend to think of the kingdom as being synonymous with Heaven, or as being a new world that descends to earth in fire and judgment. But many of Jesus’ sayings depict the kingdom as something that individuals can enter now, something that “is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it.”29 In this view, to enter the kingdom is to perceive reality so differently that we in effect live in a different world. In this world, the unconditional care of God becomes our experiential reality, and the worldly threats and assaults that once terrified us fade into insignificance. We are released from the crippling self-concern that plagued us before. Anxiety has been replaced by celebration. Now we are carefree, knowing we are cared for.
And once we enter the kingdom, we have the power to bring it to others. Our forgiveness can liberate them from disease. Our prayers can cleanse them of inner demons. Our kindness can lift them out of their own self-concern. We can perform miracles, and each one of them is a little advent of the kingdom: “And cure the sick there, and say to them: The kingdom of God has reached unto you.”30 This is how the kingdom comes—in the loosing of chains that seemed unbreakable. And as the kingdom comes to more and more people, they too can become its messengers, so that God’s kingdom continues to spread out, until one day it will come to the earth as a whole; until, in the words of Isaiah, “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”31
Implications for A Course in Miracles
To the extent that the foregoing portrait is accurate, then Jesus of Nazareth was clearly not the figure that tradition has made him out to be. Instead, he turns out to be a figure that is strikingly parallel to the author of A Course in Miracles. For a student of the Course, these parallels can be astonishing. Jesus was a teacher “whose purpose was the transformation of perception”? How can the conclusions of historians (who typically know little or nothing about A Course in Miracles) sound so much like descriptions of the Course?
Almost everything in the above picture of the historical Jesus echoes central elements in the Course. Jesus as a teacher of wisdom, his aim of a transformation of perception, his radical reversal of conventional assumptions, the contrast between two opposing ways, the problem as conventional life, the emphasis on an attacking world, the vision of God as unconditionally loving, the call to unconditionally love and forgive others, the attempt to reason us into a profound change of mind, the goal of a liberated state of mind, and the imperative to extend this state to others in the form of miracles—all of these are key aspects of A Course in Miracles. Even Jesus’ concept of entering the “kingdom of God” is paralleled by the Course’s concept of reaching the “real world.”
These parallels are not so general as to be vacuous. The vision of Jesus as outlined above is highly distinctive; there is nothing quite like it in the history of religion. Yet much of its distinctive essence is shared by the Course. All in all, it is surprisingly easy to see A Course in Miracles as a twentieth-century version of the first-century message of Jesus.
And yet, such comparisons, as suggestive as they are, are not enough. It obviously takes more than intellectual considerations like these to really arrive at the conviction that the author of the Course is Jesus. It takes the development of an implicit trust in him. It takes a sense that the stature of the Course’s author really justifies our identifying him with the most towering figure in history. It takes an indefinable recognition, one that is impossible to quantify and that develops in its own time—often through personal experiences of his presence.
What these parallels can do is make the notion of Jesus being the author of the Course a reasonable option. They mean that one can believe in his authorship not out of foolish gullibility or a desperate need to believe, but as a result of sober reflection on the evidence. They mean that it is premature to reject the idea out of hand, that at the very least we ought to open our minds to the possibility.
And just think for a moment about that possibility. The appearance of Jesus two thousand years ago changed the world forever. He was a little-known teacher who briefly walked the countryside, preaching to rural villagers before being executed as a criminal, yet he possessed a singular quality that made his influence unstoppable. From the humblest of beginnings his impact fanned out irresistibly, to the point where it shaped our subsequent civilization. Today his followers constitute almost a third of the world’s population. Though we only have fragments of his teachings, those fragments have echoed down the centuries and become woven into the fabric of our culture: “Turn the other cheek,” “Go the extra mile,” “Do unto others.”
What if this same person has now authored a book for our modern age, and in this book he lays out, with equal eloquence, the same essential vision as before, only now he presents it in far greater depth and detail, and with extensive practical instruction? What if that lovely figure that humanity has been waiting for centuries to see again has in some sense already returned? What would that mean for our world? And for ourselves?
To be a student of A Course in Miracles, you do not have to believe it was written by Jesus. You simply have to seek to understand and practice the teachings. Yet accepting that these teachings come from Jesus can be a tremendous aid in that process, because of the authority it grants them and because you will then be likely to call on Jesus’ help in walking this path—help that the Course repeatedly promises is available.
Although the identity of the voice that authored the Course cannot be proven, we do have to call him (or it) something. Throughout the Complete and Annotated Edition, we will call him by the name Jesus, not as a statement of established fact, not as something you are required to believe, but merely because this is the name the author gives himself and because we ourselves accept that claim.
19. William Newton Thetford, Ph.D., Life Story (Mill Valley, CA: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1983, 2009), p. 47.
20. Although no copy of Q has yet been found, the parallels between the sayings in Matthew and Luke, in both wording and order, are so strong that the vast majority of scholars accept both the existence of Q and its central importance in understanding what Jesus really taught. See Simon J. Joseph, The Nonviolent Messiah: Jesus, Q, and the Enochic Tradition (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2014), p. 7: “Since the mid-1980s historical Jesus scholars have increasingly been basing their research on Q, the so-called Synoptic ‘Sayings Source’ or ‘Gospel.’ Q is the single most important source for reconstructing the teachings of the historical Jesus.”
21. The following portrait is not presented as the consensus of the field of Jesus scholarship, which has not arrived at a consensus portrait of Jesus. Rather, that portrait is that of the editor of this edition of A Course in Miracles, Robert Perry, based on many years of study, writing, and teaching about the historical Jesus. If you wish to learn more about contemporary Jesus scholarship, an excellent place to begin is with Marcus J. Borg, Jesus: A New Vision (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFranciso, 1987).
22. Marcus J. Borg, Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1994), 172.
23. Roy W. Hoover, “The Jesus of History: A Vision of the Good Life,” in Profiles of Jesus, ed. Roy W. Hoover (Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge Press, 2002), 44.
24. Matthew 5:45 (RSV).
25. Luke 6:32 (RSV).
26. Matthew 18:22.
27. Gospel of Thomas 95.
28. Matthew 5:39-41.
29. Gospel of Thomas 113, Thomas O. Lambdin translation. See also Luke 17:21.
30. Q 10:9. James M. Robinson, Paul Hoffman, John S. Kloppenborg, The Critical Edition of Q (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000).
31. Isaiah 11:9 (RSV).
Introduction to the Complete and Annotated Edition
A Course in Miracles
has become a contemporary spiritual classic. It stands by itself, not part of any larger tradition and with no centralized movement behind it. The strength of its popularity can in large part be attributed to one reason: the power, beauty, and wisdom of its words. Since it was originally published in 1976, readers have recognized in those words truths that they had never heard before, yet somewhere inside seemed to have always known. As a result, those words have inspired profound and lifelong devotion in thousands of students around the world.
At the heart of that devotion is the belief that those words came from beyond the human level, that rather than being conceived by Helen Schucman, they were received
by her, perhaps from the very place they claimed to have come—from the mind of Jesus.
What students did not know for many years, however, is how much human input went into the published work. The original dictation that Helen took down was run through a lengthy editing process that produced a new version with each editing pass, and during each new editing pass, the editors apparently consulted only the most recent version, rather than going back to the original. By the end of this process, roughly forty-five thousand words had been edited out, mostly from the first seven chapters of the Text, and the wording of the first four chapters had been edited to the point where only about a fifth of their sentences retained their original wording.
Some of this editing of the early Text chapters was genuinely needed, given that some of the early material was too personal for a published edition. Indeed, Helen Schucman received general guidelines (and, in regard to some passages, specific instructions) for how the editing was to be done. Yet the editing appears to have gone beyond what was instructed. As a result, the author’s attempts to clarify his new ideas with illustrations, analogies, real-life examples, and comparisons to existing ideas were largely edited out. And so, a vital bridge into his new and unfamiliar world of thought was essentially removed.
As the earlier versions of A Course in Miracles
came to light in the beginning years of the twenty-first century, it became clear to us that there was a need for a new edition—an edition created by going back to Helen’s shorthand notebooks and then editing afresh, retaining the original words to the maximum degree possible.
The Complete and Annotated Edition, then, is based directly on Helen’s original handwritten Notes. By going back to the words that Helen Schucman heard in her mind and wrote down in her notebooks, it attempts to bring the reader into a more direct encounter with the power of those words. It includes, either in its main body or in appendices, the approximately forty-five thousand words that had been removed in the original published edition.
As the basis for this edition, we have carefully transcribed Helen’s Notes, which were written in a combination of shorthand and handwriting that can be difficult to read. Our transcription involved producing a key
of her shorthand symbols, figuring out unclear words, and reading beneath strikethroughs (to detect original wording, which is sometimes preferable). Starting with an accurate transcription of her Notes, we then re-edited A Course in Miracles
from the beginning.
Our focus on inclusion of all material has resulted in a work with a number of key features:
- The first four chapters of the Text are roughly twice as long as they are in the familiar Foundation for Inner Peace edition.
- Material whose meaning had been changed by editing is now presented in its original form. For instance, we have restored the original statement “Prepare you not for the undoing of what never was,” which had been changed in the FIP edition to “Prepare you now for the undoing of what never was.”
- Material that had been rearranged and placed in a different order by editing has, in almost all cases, been restored to its original order.
- Extensive footnotes have been included to clarify difficult passages, identify unclear pronouns, define psychological terms, point out allusions to things in the general culture, and list Course references and Bible references.
- Thirty-three cameo essays have been written, and are included in Appendix I. These essays comment on personal guidance given by the source of the material to the scribes (Helen Schucman and William Thetford). This guidance, while too personal for the Course proper, clarifies the application of Course principles to the lives of the scribes, and by extension, to the lives of all students.
- Material that never made it out of Helen’s notebooks is included, such as this passage: “Love him steadily, whatever he does, whatever he says, and he will see the miracle of God and you will learn of salvation. If this seems hard to do, remember it is what you want of me.”
- Dictation that is too personal for the Course proper but too short to be the subject of a cameo essay is commented on in the Editing Notes. (These can be found online at http://www.acim.circleofa.org/editing-notes/.)
- All original emphasis of words is retained (either as italics or as gray underlines), as this helps illuminate the meaning.
- Most of the Text section titles and many of the Text section divisions are new.
- Documentation (and often explanation) of editing changes is included. (Again, these are online at http://www.acim.circleofa.org/editing-notes/.)
The teaching in this edition does not contradict the teaching found in other editions of A Course in Miracles
. However, we believe that this edition, through its inclusion of additional teaching and restoration of original wording and order, will allow the Course’s true meaning and character to shine through a little more clearly. And we hope that this will enable students to better see the Course for what it is, relate to it as it is, and apply its profound truths to their lives.
(If you wish to know more about why and how this edition was made, please read Appendix II: “The Need for This Edition and How It Was Made.”)
Key to References in the Complete and Annotated Edition.
The Complete and Annotated Edition of A Course in Miracles uses a numbering system for references within the work. This numbering system is as follows:
In = Introduction to A Course in Miracles
Example: In.2:3 = Introduction, paragraph 2, sentence 3
“In” is also used for the introductions to the Workbook (W-In), Manual (M-In), and Clarification of Terms (C-In).
T = Text
Example: T-14.VI.5:4 = Text, Chapter 14, section VI, paragraph 5, sentence 4
W = Workbook
Example: W-243.1:6 = Workbook, Lesson 243, paragraph 1, sentence 6
W-Re = Review introductions (following Lessons 50, 80, 110, 140, 170, 200)
Example: W-Re.3.In.4:5 = Workbook, Review 3, Introduction, paragraph 4, sentence 5
W-PtII = Part II introduction (following Lesson 220)
Example: W-PtII.In.8:7 = Workbook, Part II, Introduction, paragraph 8, sentence 7
W-WI = “What Is” sections (preceding each group of ten lessons in Part II)
Example: W-WI.7.5:1 = Workbook, “What Is” Section 7, paragraph 5, sentence 1
W-FL = final lessons introduction (preceding Lessons 361-365)
Example: W-FL.In.4:2 = Workbook, Introduction to final lessons, paragraph 4, sentence 2
W-Ep = Epilogue Example: W-Ep.5:5 = Workbook, Epilogue, paragraph 5, sentence 5
M = Manual
Example: M-8.5:9 = Manual, Section 8, paragraph 5, sentence 9
C = Clarification of Terms
Example: C-2.6:7 = Clarification of Terms, Section 2, paragraph 6, sentence 7
C-Ep = Epilogue
Example: C-Ep.2:4 = Clarification of Terms, Epilogue, paragraph 2, sentence 4
This is a course in miracles. 2It is a required course. 3Only the time you take it is voluntary. 4Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. 5It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time.1 6The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught.2 7It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance. 8The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.2
This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:
2Nothing real can be threatened.
3Nothing unreal exists.
4Herein lies the peace of God.
1. The Manual for Teachers later clarifies these opening sentences, saying, “As the course emphasizes, you are not free to choose the curriculum or even the form in which you will learn it. You are free, however, to decide when you want to learn it” (M-2.3:6-7). The “curriculum” in this line refers to the “universal curriculum” (M-2.1:2), which has “many thousands” of forms (M-1.4:2), A Course in Miracles simply being one of them. The point being made, it seems, is that what is “required” is the universal course, and that any particular form of it (such as A Course in Miracles) is required only for those to whom that form is assigned.
2. In the Course’s teaching, we cannot be taught the meaning of love because as long as we are learning, we are in the state of perception, and in this state we cannot know what love really means—what love really is. We view it as something selective, partial, and changing, which it is not. However, once we remove our blocks to love (see next sentence above), we pass beyond perception to what the Course calls knowledge, where we are one with the Mind of God. The Course says, “And it is only there that love has meaning, and only there can it be understood” (T-15.V.11:8).
Chapter 1 - Principles of Miracles
Principles of Miracles
You will see miracles through your hands through me.1
1. The first principle of miracles is that there is no order of difficulty among them. 2One is not “harder” or “bigger” than another. 3They are all the same.
2. Miracles in themselves do not matter; they are quite unimportant.
3. Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. 2The real miracle is the love that inspires them. 3In this sense, everything that comes from love is a miracle.
2 This explains their lack of order. 2All expressions of love are maximal. 3This also explains why miracles in themselves do not matter. 4The only thing that matters is the source,2 and this is far beyond human evaluation.3
3 Please read these three principles as often as you can today, as if there were going to be a quiz this evening. 2This is merely to introduce structure, if it is needed. 3It is not to frighten you. 4Do not feel guilty if you are doubting these principles. 5Just reread them and their truth will come to you. 6My strength will support you, so don’t worry and leave the rest to me.
4 All miracles mean life, and God is the giver of life. 2He will direct you very specifically. 3“Plan ahead” is good advice in this world, where you should and must control and direct where you have accepted responsibility. 4But the universal plan is in more appropriate hands. 5You will know all you need to know. 6Make no attempts to plan ahead in this respect.
4. Miracles are habits and should be involuntary. 2Otherwise they may become undemocratic.4 3Selective miracles are dangerous, and may destroy the talent. 5. Miracles are natural. 2When they do not occur, something has gone wrong. 6. Miracles are everyone’s right, but purification is necessary first.5 7. Miracles are a form of healing. 2They supply a lack, and are performed by those who have more for those who have less. 8. Miracles are a kind of exchange. 2Like all expressions of love, which are always miraculous in the true sense, the exchange reverses physical laws. 9. A miracle is a reversal of the physical order because it brings more love to the giver and the receiver. 10. The use of miracles as spectacles to induce belief is wrong. 2They are really used for and by believers. 3A miracle is misunderstood when it is regarded as a spectacle. 11. Prayer is the medium of miracles. 2Prayer is the natural communication between the created and the Creator. 3Through prayer love is received, and through miracles love is expressed. 12. Miracles are the effects of thought. 2Thought can make the lower order or create the higher order. 3This is the basic distinction between intellectualizing and true thinking.6 4One makes the physical, and the other creates the spiritual. 5And we believe in what we make or create. 13. A miracle is a beginning and an ending. 2It thus abolishes time. 3It is always an affirmation of rebirth, which seems to go back but really goes forward. 4It undoes the past in the present, and thus releases the future. 2 Yet there may still be one more thing: your fear of punishment for what is done now. 2Everybody makes mistakes. 3These errors are completely trivial. 4When the past has been forgiven, these minor infractions are very easily altered. 14. All miracles attest to truth. 2They are convincing because they arise from conviction. 3Without conviction, they deteriorate into magic, which is mindless and therefore destructive, or rather, the uncreative use of mind. 15. Each day should be devoted to miracles. 2Time was made so you could use it creatively, and convince yourself of your own ability to create.7 3Time is a teaching device, and a means to an end. 4It will cease when it is no longer useful in facilitating learning. 2 Have a good day. 2Since only eternity is real, why not use the illusion of time constructively? 3You might remember that “underneath are the everlasting arms.”8 4You should begin each day with the prayer “Help me to perform whatever miracles you want of me today.” 3 Notes on this course should be read only under good learning conditions. 2They should also be reviewed, with the same rule applying to review periods. 3I’ll tell you when, but remember to ask. 16. Miracles are teaching devices for demonstrating that it is as blessed to give as to receive.9 2They simultaneously increase the reserve of strength in the giver and supply the lack of strength in the receiver.10 2 I have forgiven you and that means all hurt and hate you have ever expressed is canceled. 2I need the children of light now. 3You who live so close to God must not give way to guilt. 4The karmic law demands abandonment for abandoning, but you have received mercy, not “justice.” 5Help the children because you love them and love God. 6Remember, a miracle is a spark of life. 7It shines through the darkness and brings in the light.11 8You must begin to forget and remember. 17. Miracles are the absence of the body. 2They are sudden shifts into invisibility, away from the physical level. 3That is why they heal. 18. A miracle is a service. 2It is the maximal service one person can render another. 3It is thus a way of loving your neighbor as yourself.12 4The doer recognizes his own and his neighbor’s inestimable value simultaneously. 2 This is why you cannot keep anything you hold against another. 2If you do, your own value is no longer inestimable, because you are estimating it as infinity minus that amount.13 3 On sexuality: Homosexuality is lacking in love only to the extent it is based on the principle of exclusion. 2Everybody should love everybody. 3It is wrong to deny the beauty of some souls because of body structures of which you are afraid. 4This is essentially an unhealthy attempt to limit fear, but fear cannot be limited, just as love cannot have limits. 4 Heterosexual attitudes can be similarly distorted, but do contain a more natural potential. 2Sex relations are intended for having children. 3You have misunderstood sex, because you regard it as a way of establishing human contact for yourself. 4This has led to body-image problems.14 5Children are miracles in their own right. 6They already have the gift of life, and their parents provide them with the opportunity to express it. 5 Nothing physical, mental, or spiritual should be used selfishly. 2The pleasure from using anything should come from utilizing it for God’s will. 3You should live so that God is free to arrange temporary human constellations as He sees fit. 4If you have not had children, do not interpret this in terms of guilt. 5Many children who are already here need spiritual parents. 6The poor are always with us, and many who are born have not been reborn.15 6 Human birth, maturation, and development is a microcosmic representation of a much larger process of creation and development of abilities. 2It is subject to error as long as the real purpose of free will is misunderstood and misdirected. 3The real function of parents is to be wiser than their children in this respect, and to teach them accordingly. 19. Miracles make minds one in Christ. 2They are a corporate necessity. 3Industry depends on cooperation, and cooperation depends on miracles. 2 “Corporate” refers to the body of Christ, which is a way of referring to the church.16 2But the church of God is merely the sum of the minds He created. 3This is the corporate body of Christ. 20. Miracles rest on the law and order of eternity, not the arch of time.17 21. A miracle reawakens the awareness that the spirit, and not the body, is the altar of truth. 2This is the recognition that leads to the healing power of the miracle. 2 Your abilities will be very useful when they come under involuntary control rather than involuntary lack of control. 2Following the right involuntary Guide will enable you to recognize both physical and spiritual dangers, and will provide the means for avoiding each of them in the most efficient way. 3This is a case in which the end does justify the means.18 3 It is only when means and ends are not of the same order of reality that there is fear. 2This fear arises out of the inescapable awareness, which you were given by God for all time, that only the appropriate means can work for the different kinds of ends you must accomplish before you can achieve your one end. 3This awareness is a built-in check which was necessary if you were to use the temporary expedient of time usefully. 4While there is time, communion and bread are both necessary. 5Without either, you feel deprived, and you cannot escape this by confusing the two. 6All depression and all fear and embarrassment ultimately stem from this confusion.19 22. Miracles are natural expressions of total forgiveness. 2Through miracles, you affirm your acceptance of God’s forgiveness by extending it to others. 2 The second step is inherent in the first, because light cannot tolerate darkness.20 2Light, by definition, dispels darkness automatically. 3 Miracles are associated with fear only because of the fallacy that darkness can hide. 2People believe that what they cannot see does not exist, and their physical eyes cannot see in the dark. 3This is a very primitive solution, and has led to a denial of the spiritual eye, which always depends on light.21 4However, remember the biblical statement “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”22 4 There are two stages, one lower and one higher, which are involved in the escape from darkness. 2The first is the recognition that darkness cannot hide. 3This usually does entail fear. 4The second is that there is nothing you want to hide, even if you could. 5This brings escape from fear. 5 As soon as you have completely entered the second phase you will be not only willing to enter into communion, but will also understand peace and joy. 2Your commitment is not yet total. 3That is why you still have more to learn than to teach. 4When your equilibrium stabilizes, you can teach as much as you learn. 5This will give you the proper sense of balance. 6Meanwhile, remember that no effort is wasted.23 7Unless you remember this, you cannot avail yourself of my efforts, which are limitless. 6 The biblical teaching that if you are ashamed of me before men I will be ashamed of you before God is interpreted as a threat only as long as you remain at the first stage.24 2What it really means is that if you are ashamed of me (or embarrassed by love), you will project and therefore make it impossible for me to reach you.25 3Make every effort you can not to do this. 4I will help you as much as you will let me. 23. Miracles make time and tide wait for all men.26 2They can heal the sick and raise the dead, because you yourself made death and taxes, and can abolish both.27 3(Note that “tax” also means “strain.”) 2 You are a miracle. 2God creates only “that which or one who is of surpassing excellence or merit” (a dictionary definition of miracles). 3You are capable of this kind of creation too, being in the image and likeness of your own Creator.28 4Anything else is only your own nightmare and does not exist. 5Only the creations of light are real. 6You are wholly lovely, a perfect shaft of pure light. 7Before your loveliness the stars stand transfixed, and bow to the power of your will. 8What do children know of their creation except what their Creator tells them? 9You were created above the angels, because your role involves creation as well as protection.29 10You who are in the image of the Father need bow only to Him, before Whom I kneel with you.
A theoretical foundation such as the text is necessary as a background to make the exercises in this workbook meaningful. 2Yet it is the exercises that will make the goal of the course possible. 3An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. 4It is the purpose of these exercises to train the mind to think along the lines the course sets forth. 2 The exercises are very simple. 2They do not require a great deal of time, and it does not matter where you do them. 3They need no preparation. They are numbered, running from 1 to 365. 4The training period is one year. 5Do not undertake more than one lesson a day. 3 The purpose of the workbook is to train the mind in a systematic way to a different perception of everything in the world. 2The workbook is divided into two sections, the first dealing with the undoing of the way you see now, and the second with the restoration of sight. 4 Each day’s exercises are planned around one central idea, which is stated first. 2This is followed by a description of the specific procedures by which the idea for the day is to be applied. 3Many of the earlier exercises should be practiced with eyes open, to emphasize that the aim is to learn how to see. 4Also, unless you are instructed otherwise, it is recommended that each exercise be repeated several or even many times a day, preferably in a different place each time, and if possible in every situation in which you spend any long period of time.1 5The purpose is to train the mind to generalize the lessons, so that you will understand that each of them is as applicable to one situation as it is to another. 5 The only rules that should be followed throughout are these: First, to practice the exercises with great specificity. 2Each one applies to every situation in which you find yourself, and to everything you see in it. 3Second, be sure that you do not decide that there are some things to which the idea for the day is inapplicable. 4The aim of the exercises will always be to increase the application of the idea to everything.2 5This will require no effort on your part. 6The exercises themselves meet the conditions necessary for this kind of transfer. 7Only be sure that you make no exceptions in applying the idea. 8This will interfere with transfer of training.3 6 Transfer of training in true perception does not proceed as does transfer of the training of the world. 2If true perception has been achieved in connection with any person, situation, or event, total transfer to everyone and everything is certain. 3On the other hand, one exception held apart from true perception makes its accomplishment anywhere impossible. 4The very nature of true perception is that it has no limits. 5It is the opposite of the way you see now. 7 Some of the ideas you will find difficult to believe, and others will seem quite startling. 2It does not matter. 3You are merely asked to apply them as you are directed to do. 4You are not asked to judge them or even to believe them. 5You are merely asked to use them. 6It is their use that will give them meaning to you, and show you they are true. 8 Remember only this: You need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not welcome them. 2Some of them you may actively resist. 3None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. 4But allow yourself to make no exceptions in applying the ideas the exercises contain. 5Whatever your reaction to the ideas may be, use them. 6Nothing more than this is required. 1 . This instruction to practice the idea “in a different place each time” probably applies mainly to the early exercises in which you are applying the idea to your visual field. However, practicing in a variety of places and situations is a good practice throughout, as it will aid in generalizing the lessons. 2 . This likely means that the exercises aim at increasing our ability to realize that the ideas apply not just to those subjects we use in our practice periods, but to everything. 3 . In psychology, transfer of learning concerns the ability to transfer something originally learned in one context to additional contexts. It is the same concept that is mentioned at the end of the previous paragraph: “to generalize the lessons, so that you will understand that each of them is as applicable to one situation as it is to another.”
I see nothing as it is now.
This idea obviously follows from the two preceding ones. 2But while you may be able to accept it intellectually, it is unlikely that it will really mean anything to you as yet. 3However, understanding is not necessary at this point. 4In fact, the recognition that you do not understand is a prerequisite for undoing your false ideas. 5These exercises are concerned with practice, not with understanding. 6You do not need to practice what you really understand. 7It would indeed be circular to aim at understanding and assume that you have it already.
2 It is difficult for the untrained mind to believe that what seems to be pictured before it is not there. 2This idea can be quite disturbing, and may meet with active resistance in any number of forms. 3Yet that does not preclude applying it. 4No more than that is required for these or any other exercises. 5Each little step will clear a little of the darkness away, and understanding will finally come to lighten every corner of the mind that has been cleared of the debris that darkens it.
3 These exercises, for which three or four practice periods are sufficient, involve looking about you and applying the idea for the day to whatever you see, remembering the need for its indiscriminate application and the essential rule of excluding nothing. 2For example:
3I do not see this typewriter as it is now.8
4I do not see this key as it is now.
5I do not see this telephone as it is now.
6Begin with things that are nearest you, and then extend the range:
7I do not see that coat rack as it is now.
8I do not see that face as it is now.
9I do not see that door as it is now.
4 It is emphasized again that while complete inclusion should not be attempted, specific exclusion must be avoided.9 2Be sure you are honest with yourself in making this distinction. 3You may be tempted to obscure it.
8 . Typewriters, of course, were quite common when this was dictated in 1969.
9 . W-2.2:5: “Make no attempt to include anything particular, but be sure that nothing is specifically excluded.”
My thoughts do not mean anything.
This idea applies to all the thoughts of which you are aware, or of which you become aware in the practice periods. 2The reason the idea is applicable to all of them is that they are not your real thoughts. 3We have made this distinction before,10 and will again. 4You have no basis for comparison as yet. 5When you do, you will have no doubt that what you once believed were your thoughts did not mean anything.
2 This is the second time we have used this kind of idea.
11 2The form is only slightly different. 3This time the idea is introduced with “My thoughts” instead of “These thoughts,” and no link is made overtly with the things around you. 4The emphasis is now on the lack of reality of what you think you think.
3 This aspect of the correction process began with the idea that the thoughts of which you are aware are meaningless, outside rather than within; and then stressed their past rather than present status.
12 2Now we are emphasizing that the presence of these thoughts means that you are not thinking. 3This is merely another way of repeating our earlier statement that your mind is really a blank.
13 4To recognize this is to recognize nothingness when you think you see it. 5As such, it is the prerequisite for vision.
4 Close your eyes for these exercises, and introduce them by repeating the idea for today quite slowly to yourself. 2Then add:
3This idea will help to release me from all that I now believe.
4The exercises consist, as before, in searching your mind for all the thoughts which are available to you, without selection or judgment. 5Try to avoid classification of any kind. 6In fact, if you find it helpful to do so, you might even imagine that you are watching an oddly assorted procession going by, which has little if any personal meaning to you. 7As each one crosses your mind, say:
8This thought about ____ does not mean anything.
9That thought about ____ does not mean anything.
5 Today’s idea can obviously serve for any thought that distresses you at any time. 2In addition, five practice periods are recommended, each involving no more than a minute or so of mind searching. 3It is not recommended that this time period be extended, and it should be reduced to half a minute or even less if you experience discomfort. 4Remember, however, to repeat the idea slowly before applying it specifically, and also to add:
5This idea will help to release me from all that I now believe.
10. W-4.2:3: “None of them are your real thoughts, which are being covered up by them.”
11. The first time was Lesson 4: “These thoughts do not mean anything. They are like the things I see in this room (on this street, from this window, in this place).”
12. “The idea that the thoughts of which you are aware are meaningless” is a reference to Lesson 4: “These thoughts do not mean anything. They are like the things I see in this room (on this street, from this window, in this place).” “Outside rather than within” is a reference to Lesson 4’s statement that it “is a first attempt in the long-range purpose of learning to see the meaningless as outside you and the meaningful within” (W-4.3:3). “Stressed their past rather than present status” is a reference to Lesson 8: “My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.”
13. W-8.2:4: “The mind is actually blank when it does this, because it is not really thinking about anything.”
“This Is Not a Selfish Gift”
In June of 1965, after years of conflict in their professional lives, Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford joined in the goal of demonstrating “another way,” which they hoped would transform their working relationships. This triggered in Helen that summer a series of startling inner visions and paranormal experiences.
Then, apparently toward the end of that summer, she made what turned out to be a prescient announcement: One day during that same summer, I told Bill I was about to do something very unexpected. I had no idea what it was, but I knew it was going to happen soon. At Bill’s urging I had been keeping a sort of diary since our visit to Virginia Beach. Now Bill suggested that if I wrote down whatever occurred to me in connection with the “unexpected something,” I might find out what it was (41)
1 Therefore, sometime around October 18 or 19, Helen began writing down anything that seemed relevant. She said in her autobiography, “Nothing much came of my attempts at first, and I was on the point of giving them up” (41). But actually, these early writings clearly reveal a spiritual impulse that was trying to emerge into consciousness, like a new shoot just starting to push through the soil.
She records spiritual reflections that do not at all sound like the musings of a self-professed “militant atheist”:
I think under the projection and all that stuff is a hidden nostalgia for the soul. We want it back so we can identify with it because that is what we are really and somewhere we know it.2
This AM it occurred to me that I had no right to waste anything—money, clothes, or my own life, because thus everything has to be used right. It all has a place in the Plan. And you must not throw gifts away.
It seems clear that these thoughts are coming from somewhere beyond Helen’s conscious mind. Indeed, an insight she writes down regarding her tendency to forget names (“It may be more a fear of involvement or interaction”) is later identified by the Course’s author as coming from him (“I emphasize again that your tendency to forget names is not hostility but a fear of involvement or recognition”).3
She records dreams with obvious spiritual content. In one account she says:
The crucifixion was a total rejection of the body by others (projection) and its “destruction” which was really a purification. As a result, the soul could enter entirely into the temple, heal it, and use it only constructively.
She also records prayers, including a long, impassioned prayer for Dave Diamond, a friend who is dying from brain cancer. This prayer is infused with ideas that will later appear in the Course, as we can see in these excerpts:
Dave, don’t give in—you have a real mission—don’t lose your chance—miracles are the natural law. Then I asked Christ to help Dave know He was there and to see Him and know the truth so he could be free....
Your spirit and mine can unite and then two of us have come together in Christ’s name. Jesus promised to be there, Dave. Your brain does not matter, if you will understand life as Jesus did.
Finally, sprinkled throughout these writings, she records statements from a voice that speaks as if it is Jesus and that Helen calls “Christ”:
I was really quite depressed this AM, which is now very unusual (I used to [be] all the time) but He says “Be of good cheer—I have overcome the world” [John 16:33].
Then on October 20, everything changed. The voice—which we will call by the name that it later gave itself: Jesus4—went from showing up in occasional brief statements to delivering a more extended discourse. And this discourse, which was specifically about Bill receiving guidance and Helen asking on his behalf, became the jumping-off point for the dictation of A Course in Miracles.
Earlier, Helen had written down the following items:
1) Ask what is interfering with Bill’s meditation and how to overcome this.
2) Bill’s list.
Now, on the day before the Course would begin coming through, Helen returns to these two items, the first of which is specifically about Bill’s ability to hear guidance in meditation. He has apparently been wondering how he can access a gift like the one that Helen has stumbled upon. Here is the question that she asks of her guidance:
I said He promised to come when He was called on and Bill asks [for guidance] and does not receive and has really tried to knock and it has not been opened to him. I think the door is ajar a bit, but I really wouldn’t call it very open. Is it all right if I ask you for him since he wants me to?
Before recording this question, Helen had actually already started to write down Jesus’ answer. She wrote, “1) If you do not get an answer it is always because you ask amiss,” but then crossed this out. Now she writes his answer down in full:
I can’t answer when he asks amiss. When he asks right I have answered. He has a tendency to get part of an answer and decide himself when to disconnect. He should ask if that’s all.
Since I don’t know when he’s going to ring off I have to be very short and even cryptic. It chops messages up too much.
The main problem, then, is that Bill is too quick to hang up the phone, so to speak. Now Jesus elaborates on further areas of “interference”:
There is also interference from three major areas [the first three items on the numbered list that follows]:
1. He doesn’t have much real confidence that I will get through. He never just claims his rights. He should begin with much more confidence. I’ll keep my promises, [the writing now apparently switches to Helen speaking to Bill] but you do not act as if you really expect him to.
This attitude of asking with confidence, as if claiming a birthright, is the same attitude encouraged in the Workbook’s instructions for listening for guidance. For example: “There is a message waiting for you. Be confident that you will receive it. Remember that it belongs to you” (W-Re.2.In.3:1-3).
2. There is another kind of related error which is illustrated by his question about “when are you going to call the hospital?” It’s not right to interfere just to check. It’s selfish, but more than that it makes things too personal, which always implies doubt.
Without knowing what the call to the hospital is about, it’s hard to be sure what this means. Jesus mentions this situation later, saying, “Remember your slip about the effect on Neurological Institute, and his [Bill’s] asking when you were going to call up.” Whatever the details, Bill is being interfering and even selfish, due to his own lack of trust. The implication may be that Bill’s asking for inner guidance at times has this same quality. This might be a clarification of the earlier idea that Bill sometimes “asks amiss.”
3. He has to learn better concentration. His mind flits about too much for good communication. Suggest a very short phrase, like “Here I am, Lord” and [now addressing Bill directly] don’t think of anything else. Just pull in your mind slowly from everywhere else and center it on these four words.
Here, Jesus gives Bill a meditation technique, which involves putting all of his attention on being fully present to God, and on nothing else. The idea is that this kind of concentrated focus on God will help Bill hear guidance. This, too, is a foreshadowing of the Workbook. It anticipates the Workbook’s meditation instructions, which sometimes involve making oneself fully present to God (see Lesson 183, for example), and it anticipates the Workbook’s training in stilling one’s mind in order to hear guidance: “His Voice awaits your silence, for His Word cannot be heard unless your mind is quiet for a while, and meaningless desires have been stilled” (W-125.6:2).
4. Tell him to be sure not to mistake your role. If he overreacts to or overevaluates you as a person, both of you will be in danger.
Bill already feels that he lacks his own access to God. If he puts Helen on a pedestal as a spiritual idol, he will further denigrate himself and dangerously inflate her.
5. He should try to get his own list. (Armstrong) may just mean his own one [own arm?] is strong.
The nature of Bill’s list is not specified, but from what little we know, it seems very similar to Helen’s list, which is discussed in the notes just days later.5 Her list is a list of people, selected by guidance, who have thrown away their chalice of Atonement—their reconciliation with God—and who need Helen’s help to get it back. She has been assigned, in other words, to “hand them back their own chalice.” Like Helen’s list, Bill’s list is also apparently a list of people, in that someone named Joe Armstrong is twice mentioned in connection with it. And like Helen’s, it seems to be a list revealed by guidance, in that Helen appears to be asking Jesus who is on Bill’s list.
However, rather than hearing the names of those on Bill’s list, Helen gets a very different message: “He should try to get his own list.” The name “Armstrong” is then apparently turned into a pun, in which Bill’s “arm” is “strong” enough for him to get his own guidance. When it comes to guidance, in other words, Bill can rely on his own strength. He shouldn’t be leaning so heavily on Helen. This somewhat curt guidance may sound quite definite, but it will soon be reversed.
Jesus’ discourse on Bill’s hearing ends at this point and things take a dramatic turn. It’s as if during this guidance something has been building in the background, and it is now ready to break through. But before it can do so, Jesus needs to explain to Helen the bigger picture:
He [Jesus] thinks it’s time for some explanations which we’re probably ready for. There are always risks in speed-ups. The whole thing was undertaken because things were getting behind schedule because so many people persistently lost more than they gained.
Helen later, in her autobiography, fleshed out the thoughts that rapidly entered her mind at this point:
I was given a sort of mental “explanation,” though, in the form of a series of related thoughts that crossed my mind in rapid succession and made a reasonably coherent whole. According to this “information” the world situation was worsening to an alarming degree. People all over the world were being called on to help, and were making their individual contributions as part of an overall, prearranged plan. I had apparently agreed to take down A Course in Miracles as it would be given me. The Voice was fulfilling its part in the agreement, as I would fulfill mine. I would be using abilities I had developed very long ago, and which I was not really ready to use again. Because of the acute emergency, however, the usual slow, evolutionary process was being by-passed in what might be described as a “celestial speed-up.” I could sense the urgency that lay behind this “explanation,” whatever I might think about its content. The feeling was conveyed to me that time was running out. (41)
Finally, it is clear what has been happening to Helen. Before her birth, she had agreed to enter this life in order to play her part in a global plan to restore humanity’s forward progress. And this agreement, after slumbering for decades, has at last stirred to life. Receiving this information is a turning point, but instead of the process now rolling forward, things come to a grinding halt. Helen now writes this message from Jesus in large letters in the center of the page:
Clearly, something has temporarily gone wrong. This leads Helen to offer to tear it all up:
[Helen:] I’ll tear it up if you want.
[Jesus:] No—maybe tomorrow. Now just write this:
Remember your slip about the effect on Neurological Institute, and his [Bill’s] asking when you were going to call up.
Without more context, this is a very opaque comment. It is obviously another reference to Bill’s question “when are you going to call the hospital?” But more than that we cannot say.
Now Helen writes an even more emphatic message from Jesus:
We can tell this caution comes from Jesus, since he repeats it in his next comments (the reference to “Jonathan” is to Helen’s husband, Louis, whom she often called “Jonathan” in the Notes):
Also, tell Bill about Jonathan’s remark “I do not like you all sweetness and light—I like you a little sharp if you get what I mean.” And again be very careful.
Something is clearly wrong. Helen has been told with great emphasis to “Stop” and “Be Careful,” and then to “again be very careful.” Helen even offers to “tear it up if you want.” The overall implication seems to be that Helen is in danger of proceeding inappropriately. But in what way?
To understand this, we have to look at the major temptation Helen had faced up to this point. In the summer, she had discovered that she had psychic abilities. About this, she reported, “I was actually becoming rather proud of the acquisition of such dramatic abilities, and I even caught brief glimpses of fantasies of power and prestige crossing the back of my mind” (36). This was the major obstacle she had faced in the run-up to the Course: her ego being inflated by her newfound abilities.
This obstacle was shifted by two pivotal experiences, both of which Helen marked as crucial turning points in accepting her function. In the first, she had a psychic vision of a church she was sure she and Bill would see when visiting the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. This, however, turned out to be a useless application of her abilities, as Bill discovered that the church existed but had been razed long ago to make way for the clinic itself.
The true use of her abilities came out on the way home, when she was able to intuitively “feel waves and waves of misery” going through a young woman in the airport (38). This far more practical use of Helen’s psychic abilities enabled her and Bill to render critical service to this woman at a turning point in her life.
The Mayo Clinic experience was followed by, and apparently led to, an inner vision in which she discovered an ancient scroll on the floor of a cave.6 As she unrolled the scroll, she saw that the center panel said simply “God is.” Opening the scroll further, she saw tiny letters begin to emerge on the right and left panels. She was told that on the left side she could read all of the past and on the right side all of the future. Helen, however, chose to reject the reading of past and future and stick with just the center panel. This represented a key decision to use her abilities only for God, not for psychic feats. Helen seems to have believed that this was where she really accepted her function as scribe of the Course.
The road to accepting her function, then, had been one of repeatedly refusing to use her unusual abilities to fuel her ego and instead giving them to God to use to help others. Returning to our account of the late October dictation: It is probable, then, that as she stands on the brink of actually beginning her function, she is facing some version of this same choice again.
The particular way in which her ego wants to control her abilities becomes clear in what she writes the next morning, the morning of October 21:
AM—It crossed my mind last night that something very wrong had happened. I got mad because I thought I shouldn’t be asked to ask for you [Bill], and it was a form of exploitation that was very dangerous for me, and represented an avoidance technique for you.
I thought the whole thing was so dangerous that I had to tell you not to do it again. Briefly it crossed my mind (but with no emotional impact at all which is always suspicious) that I might just resent asking for someone else because I prefer the “exclusive” idea.
Here it is. Helen now identifies what had gone so “wrong” last night. Her suspicion that it was dangerously unhealthy for Bill to ask her for guidance was actually the voice of her ego, wanting her to keep this gift as her own private treasure, as a spring that only she could drink from. As the dictation proceeds, Jesus now elaborates on this:
Christ says I can tell something is wrong whenever I get a “snappy” answer. He wouldn’t say “Tell him to get his own list” that way. The tone is wrong.
So that fifth point, that Bill “should try to get his own list,” was in fact in error. It was a distortion introduced by “the ‘exclusive’ idea.” Helen’s urge to keep her gift to herself is warping her hearing, turning Jesus’ voice into something “snappy” and even (as he will later say) “mean.” This seems to solve the puzzle of why Jesus told her to “Stop” and “Be Careful.” He can hardly proceed to dictate the Course to her if her ego is taking control of her gift and distorting his voice.
This morning it was very clear to me that in connection with you [Bill] I have not been right since I asked you what you wanted so I could really be asking for you. This was essential and except for the list, where I slipped, the answer should be respected.
Instead of asking on Bill’s behalf being “very dangerous” and “an avoidance technique,” it is in fact “essential.” And except for that point about Bill’s list, what she heard was indeed accurate and “should be respected.”
You have every right, in fact, you should, ask me to ask for you. This is not a selfish gift, and it is a real one (this upsets me, too). It has to be used for others, and particularly you.
[Jesus:] Ask Bill please to help you get over being mean about it fast.
(Note: At the moment I have serious doubts about everything. This is holding everything up.)
Here on the cusp of the Course dictation actually beginning, Helen seems to have faced another version of the choice she made in the Mayo Clinic experience and in her scroll cave vision. In the face of the temptation to keep this gift exclusively for herself, she apparently decides with Jesus that “This is not a selfish gift.” She decides to use it “for others,” and particularly for Bill. She decides to fulfill her agreement to help “the world situation.”
With this key decision made, it’s as if the final barrier has been swept aside. Helen now writes this message from Jesus:
You will see miracles through your hands through Me.
This is the first line of what would become the miracle principles. The dictation of A Course in Miracles has begun.
1. All quotations with page number references in this cameo are from Helen Cohn Schucman, Ph.D., Autobiography (Temecula, CA: Foundation for A Course in Miracles, 1990, 2009).
2. All quotations without page numbers in this cameo are from Helen’s Notes. Throughout these cameo essays, we have corrected spelling errors in the Notes for ease in reading.
3. See our discussion of this in Cameo 9.
4. See “The Issue of Authorship” (xliii) for more about this.
5. See Cameo 3.
6. See Cameo 32.