A Course in Miracles
A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is a 1,250-page, three-volume book which combines spiritual teachings with far-reaching and practical psychological insights.
The Course aims to help us remove the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence and to start listening to the ‘Voice for God,’ our inner teacher.
The three volumes consist of:
- The Text, which provides the theoretical framework.
- The Workbook, which contains 365 daily lessons.
- The Manual for Teachers, which answers many common questions and includes an appendix called the Clarification of Terms.
Also available are two pamphlets, scribed from the same source: The Song of Prayer and Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice.
Since A Course in Miracles was first published in 1976, more than one million copies have been sold around the world. The Course has been translated into several languages. The first two translations were Spanish and Portuguese, followed by German and Hebrew. The most recently available translations, released in 1999, are Russian, Chinese, Dutch and Italian, with many other translations in progress.
To date, in excess of 700 books have been published which take the Course as their inspiration, and there are now as many as 2,000 study groups around the world.
Also refer to our What is ACIM? and What Does It Say? and Reviews pages.
The Miracle Network is a UK-based charity, formed in 1994, which acts as an umbrella organisation for all things ACIM; it also has some members overseas.
The Miracle Network is a support, contact and information service for 3,500 ACIM students.
The Miracle Network publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, Miracle Worker, as well as MiracleNet, this UK-based website for students of ACIM.
The Miracle Network organises ACIM-related events at both local and national level, in addition to providing a Mail-Order service offering the lowest UK prices on a large range of ACIM-related books, audio-tapes and computer software programs.
These services are provided on a voluntary basis, so the Miracle Network welcomes UK subscribers to ‘Miracle Worker,’ as well as donations, in order to maintain these services.
See also about Miracle Network.
If you would like to benefit yourself and others by joining the Miracle Network, please send in the Order Form or contact us at:
204 Holcroft Court
London W1W 5DJ
Tel/Fax: 020 7262 0209
In 1958, Dr Helen Schucman (left) accepted a job offer from Columbia University’s Medical Center in New York City, USA, to work with Dr William Thetford. This was the first important step towards the scribing of A Course in Miracles. As Helen met Bill for the first time, the thought came into her mind: “So this is the man I am supposed to help.”
Bill and Helen were research psychologists and Bill was head of the Psychology Department at the Medical Center. Helen had explored various religions throughout her life, and had arrived at a position she described as “militant atheism.” She had a highly analytical mind, which sought to dissect and prove or dismiss every statement or theory.
In spite of her ambivalence towards God, Helen had experienced many visions, which appeared to come from a higher part of her mind and which reminded her of profound spiritual truths.
Helen and Bill had frequent disagreements, and often blamed each other for problems in their working relationship. They also experienced ongoing conflict and competition in the department in which they both worked.
One day, in the spring of 1965, the normally quiet-spoken Bill made an impassioned speech to Helen, just before they set out for yet another difficult departmental meeting. “There must be another way,” he said. “Our attitudes are so negative that we cannot work anything out.” Bill had decided to approach things differently: instead of being defensive and remote, he would listen to others and try to see their points of view. To Bill’s surprise, Helen agreed without reservation to help him find “another way.”
What happened that day is a beautiful example of what the Course calls the ‘holy instant:’
“In the holy instant God is remembered, and the language of communication with all your brothers is remembered with Him.” (T-15.VI.8:1)
The meeting which they attended after Bill’s little speech was significantly different from the ones which had gone before. Staff were able to listen, without continually attacking each other or defending their own positions. The atmosphere in the department gradually improved as a result of this change in attitude. However, Helen and Bill’s relationship never became an easy one.
At this time, Helen was already hearing an inner Voice (Helen insisted on the use of a capital V with reference to this Voice), which explained visions she had received. Then, one day in October 1965, she heard the Voice say: “This is a course in miracles; please take notes.”
She promptly called Bill to tell him what had happened. Helen feared she was going mad, but Bill encouraged her to write down what the Voice said. Bill also suggested that they should look at the material together, before starting work the next morning. If it proved to be nonsense, Helen could tear up her notes and they would never mention them again.
It was immediately clear that the words which Helen had heard were not nonsense, although they filled her with fear. Bill and Helen quickly developed a routine, which they followed each morning before their regular work started. Helen reluctantly read out to Bill what she had written down, Bill typed it out and then he read back to Helen for any corrections. The whole process took seven years to complete.
Helen regularly resisted the time it took to write down the words which she heard. It was not an automatic process, and required her full co-operation. She could stop the writing to speak to her husband or answer the phone. When she sat down again with her notebook and pen, the Voice would continue where it had been interrupted, even in mid-sentence.
Helen never doubted the source of what she was hearing, or its wisdom and authority. Yet she frequently argued with the Voice, and sometimes even tried to change the words which she heard, only to be gently corrected later on.
The scribing of the Course was a joint effort by Helen and Bill. Without Bill, the Course would never have been completed. Even though Bill and Helen disagreed about many issues, they were always united in their desire to look after the Course, and not to change its message in any way. The Course makes it clear that we cannot find the way back on our own:
“No-one can enter Heaven by himself.” (W-lesson 134.17:6)
Initially, it appeared that the material was for the use of Bill and Helen only, especially since it contained many personal messages. As time went on, however, they realised that the Course was destined for a much wider audience. However, they were told not to concern themselves with that. Someone else would come along who would know what to do.
The scribing was completed in late 1972. Even at this stage, Helen and Bill kept the existence of the Course secret from everyone except a handful of close associates. One of those people was a Father Michael. The priest was introduced to a clinical psychologist, Dr Kenneth Wapnick, who had recently converted to Catholicism. Through Father Michael, Ken met Helen and Bill, who showed Ken the manuscript of the Course.
Although initially reluctant to look at the manuscripts, Ken soon developed a great interest. The Course had been dictated without any suggestions about chapter headings, page breaks or capitalisation, and required editing to make it more readable.
Therefore, with frequent consultations from Helen’s inner Voice, Ken and Helen edited the manuscript, and cross-checked every single word of Bill’s typed manuscript against Helen’s original notes. They also removed the personal comments which had appeared in the beginning, in what are now Chapters 1 through 5 of the Text.
Apart from that, the Course as you see it now is exactly as Helen took down the original dictation. Ken was never happy with the title, but was told very clearly by the Voice that this was not open to negotiation.
By early 1975, the process of editing and re-typing was finally completed. The Course was ready, but for whom –– and for what purpose? Then, in the spring of 1975, Judith Skutch was introduced to Helen and Bill during a lunch-time meeting, which had been arranged to discuss holistic healing.
Suddenly, Judith startled herself and Helen by asking Helen for confirmation that she was hearing an inner voice. In response to this question, Helen and Bill showed her the type-written manuals. Judith immediately felt that she had finally found her path in life.
Judith undertook to arrange the publishing of the Course. After more proof-reading and then typesetting by Saul Steinberg, a printer, the books were published in the now-familiar blue covers in 1976. The copyright of the Foundation for Inner Peace dates from 1975. In that year, only 300 photocopies of the Course were distributed.
Helen was never able to accept the teachings of the Course into her own personal life, even though she did not question the Source or its wisdom and compassion. She died in New York City in February 1981.
After his retirement from the medical centre, Bill moved to California where he joined a Course study group, but he always maintained a low profile. Bill died there in July 1988.
At their own request, neither Helen or Bill became involved in the running of The Foundation for Inner Peace.
Helen normally referred to the Voice with a capital ‘V.’ In this way she acknowledged the authority of the source of the material which was dictated to her. She was often deeply moved by the gentleness and patience of the Voice.
It was clear to those who knew her that, on one level, Helen had no doubt that Jesus was the author of the Course. Yet she also had a desire to deny this, which allowed her to dismiss the impact which the material could have had on her personal life.
It is quite possible to read A Course in Miracles without believing you are hearing Jesus speak, although this may involve some “mental gymnastics,” as Ken Wapnick calls them. The Manual for Teachers says:
“It is possible to read his words and benefit from them without accepting him into your life. Yet he would help you yet a little more if you will share your pains and joys with him, and leave them both to find the peace of God.” (C-5.6:6-7)
For the many students of the Course who came to these books from a Christian background, accepting Jesus as the author has been a major turning-point in their lives. Through the centuries, Jesus has been used by churches and individuals to serve their own means.
When reading his message in the Course, one is often deeply touched by the feeling of love for us which his words convey. This love is extended to all his brothers and sisters, not just the ‘chosen few.’ Accepting him as our older, wiser brother who will show us the way home, can give our spiritual life renewed hope and direction.
Doing the daily lessons then becomes a gift to ourselves, as well as to Jesus. The salvation of the world requires our full co-operation, and is an on-going process which has already begun. Jesus makes it clear that he needs us, just as much as we need him. He says in this moving quotation from the Workbook:
“For this alone I need; that you will hear the words I speak, and give them to the world. You are my voice, my eyes, my feet, my hands through which I save the world.” (W-Review V.9:2-3)
If we have difficulty believing that it is Jesus who speaks in the Course, it may be helpful to know that the Course itself considers Jesus to be a symbol of love. What matters is not whether this is the ‘historical Jesus’ but, more importantly, whether we can accept the message of love and forgiveness, which transcends all symbols, as well as any limitations of space and time.
o. The Course is a comprehensive thought system, which does not require any additions to set us on the way home. Yet the Course makes it abundantly clear that Jesus does not have a monopoly on the truth. Jesus is a manifestation of Christ, as many other world teachers were, and still are. We perceive these teachers as unique and separate human beings, until we have advanced enough to recognise that they are all one and that we are ready to join them in bringing about the salvation of the world.
We live in a world of many cultures, languages and other symbols. Through the centuries, God has not given us only one path back to Him:
“This is a manual for a special curriculum, intended for teachers of a special form of the universal course. There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome.” (M-1.4:1-2)
We should, therefore, be careful not to see A Course in Miracles as the only way (or even the best way) to salvation. This is an easy trap to fall into, especially for new students. Other paths may be equally valid, and it is not for us to judge whether someone else is making spiritual progress. Rather than by evangelising, you teach the Course by how you interact with those you meet, and by bringing peace to conflict.
At the same time, we may find it difficult to combine the approach of the Course with that of other religions or philosophies. Many concepts of the Course may conflict with other teachings, and to try to combine another distinct spiritual path with A Course in Miracles, could do a dis-service to both. This comment applies in particular to traditional Christianity and the Course: there are many fundamental differences which make it difficult to follow both paths simultaneously.
Both the Text and the Manual for Teachers give the theoretical foundation of A Course in Miracles. The Workbook provides daily lessons, guiding us in the practical application of these principles. Without practising the lessons, studying the Course could easily remain an intellectual exercise.
Likewise, avoiding the theoretical framework set out in the Text of the Course would make the practice of the lessons meaningless.
The Course is not meant to be a coffee-table book which you pick up once in a while with the intention of finding a good quote. The name implies that regular study is required to learn the thought system which A Course in Miracles sets forth. Attending a study group often proves a good support in this process.
The Course gives a number of guidelines concerning the Workbook practice. The main points are:
- to find a quiet time, preferably early in the morning, to read a lesson and meditate on it;
- the lessons should be studied in the order given;
- only one lesson per day should be undertaken;
- the ideas of the lesson of the day are to be applied to all situations which the student finds himself in;
- frequent reminders during the day reinforce the theme of the lesson.
Allen Watson, of the Circle of Atonement, publishes commentaries on the lessons, which are sent to subscribers of an electronic mailing and to the newsgroup: talk.religion.course-miracle (check with your Internet provider on how to access newsgroups).
In addition, Allen’s writings may be accessed on the Workbook commentaries archive, maintained by James Hale in Australia.
The Foundation for Inner Peace (“FIP”) is the publisher of A Course in Miracles. Based in California, USA, the members of the FIP board are: Judith Skutch-Whitson, Robert Skutch and Kenneth Wapnick.
The FIP has always existed purely to disseminate the Course material, rather than to engage in any form of active commercial promotion.
In the mid 1990s, the Foundation sold the publishing rights of the Course to Penguin USA and, in 1999, passed the copyright to the Foundation for A Course in Miracles.
The Foundation continues to supervise the translation of the Course into other languages. The first two translations published were Spanish and Portuguese, followed by German and Hebrew. The most recently available translations, released in 1999, are Russian, Chinese, Dutch and Italian. Many other translations are in progress, including French, Japanese, Greek, Danish, Czech, Finnish, Slovene, Serbo-Croat, Swedish, Norwegian, Romanian and Polish.
For information on how to support this wide-ranging programme of translations, please write to:
The Foundation for Inner Peace, Inc.
PO Box 598
Kenneth Wapnick and his wife, Gloria, founded The Foundation for A Course in Miracles, for many years based in the Catskills, in New York State.
The Foundation is the official teaching arm of The Foundation for Inner Peace and, since March 1999, the copyright holder of the Course.
The Foundation for A Course in Miracles publishes a wide range of audio and video tapes, as well as books written by Ken Wapnick. An extensive teaching programme is also offered.
In 2001, the Foundation moved to its new home in Temecula, Southern California.
The Lighthouse, a bi-monthly newsletter, gives details of events and includes articles written by Ken and Gloria. For further details, write to:
The Foundation for A Course in Miracles
41397 Bueckling Drive
The list below gives a number of books which provide a good introduction to the teachings of A Course in Miracles. All of these books (and many more, see the list of books and tapes) are available from the Miracle Network by Mail-Order at prices generally lower than in the shops.
Journey Without Distance:The Story Behind A Course in Miracles, by Robert Skutch. Published by Celestial Arts, USA, 1984. ISBN 0-89087-404-2. 142 pages.
Robert Skutch, co-founder of The Foundation of Inner Peace, tells the story of the scribing of A Course in Miracles. It is an interesting and very readable book, providing valuable insights into the struggles which Helen faced whilst listening to the Voice.
The Most Commonly Asked Questions About A Course in Miracles, by Kenneth and Gloria Wapnick. Published by The Foundation for A Course in Miracles®, USA, 1995. ISBN 0-933291-21-3. 133 pages.
In this book, Ken and Gloria deal with 72 questions which students regularly pose. Subjects range from the nature of reality to dealing with sickness, and having a partner who is not a Course student. This is a clear and helpful book which facilitates understanding of the Course, and is appropriate for use in study groups.
A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson. Published by Thorsons, an imprint of HarperCollins, 1992. ISBN 1-85538-257-1. 260 pages.
An easily readable and accessible book by this dynamic exponent of the Course. This book presents inspiring reflections on the principles of the Course, and has sold well over one million copies worldwide.
Path of Light, by Robert Perry. Published by Circle Publishing, USA, 2004. ISBN 1-886602-23-9. 266 pages.
An exceptionally clear and inspiring overview of A Course in Miracles. This book is destined to become one of the definitive guides to the Course by one of its most respected teachers. It covers both theory and detailed practice.
Forgiveness and Jesus, by Kenneth Wapnick. Published by The Foundation for A Course in Miracles, USA, 1983. ISBN 0-933291-13-2. 400 pages.
This book provides a thorough explanation of the principles of A Course in Miracles. Subjects discussed include: injustice, anger, sickness, sexuality and money. Ken Wapnick also looks at the Biblical teachings, and compares those with the Course. The book will appeal particularly to those students whose spiritual journey has incorporated traditional Christianity.
Healing the Cause, by Michael Dawson. Published by Findhorn Press, UK, 1994. ISBN 0-905249-91-7. 159 pages.
Sickness, healing, forgiveness and prayer are some of the topics discussed in this book. Michael Dawson illustrates his interpretations of the Course with practical examples and diagrams. This book provides an excellent introduction to the main teachings of the Course, and will be of value to both “new” and “old” students of A Course in Miracles.
What does A Course in Miracles say? Go to A Course in Miracles.
The quotations from the Course used in this section are referenced as follows (with chapter, section, paragraph and sentence numbers): T = Text; W = Workbook; M = Manual for Teachers; C = Clarification of Terms.
Extracts from A Course in Miracles reproduced by kind permission of:
The Foundation for Inner Peace, Inc.
PO Box 598
The ideas represented herein are the interpretations and understanding of the Miracle Network and are not necessarily endorsed by the publishers of A Course in Miracles.