WHAT IS A COURSE IN MIRACLES?
It is a practical, self-study spiritual curriculum designed to lead us out of a thought system based on fear and guilt in favor of one based on love and truth thus leading to peace and happiness.
The great classic work, A Course in Miracles, is devoted to teachings about who we are, our relationships to God and with each other, and the actually mental nature of our bodies and the world. There are three constituent parts to the Course: The Text, a Workbook for Students, and the Manual for Teachers. The Text lays out the theoretical foundation for the metaphysical system of the Course. The Workbook contains a series of 365 Lessons to be practiced daily for the purpose of retraining the mind and healing our perception. Finally, the Manual contains information for and about advanced teachers of God. The Course is also about miracles, which students understand to be, in part, a shift in perception to healed vision. But miracles are more than a shift in perception, because the shift has consequences in the world as we see it. The Course is a self study educational program for retraining the mind that is spiritual, rather than religious, in its perspective. Although the Course uses Christian terminology, it expresses a universal experience, and its underlying ontology is reminiscent of ancient refrains, echoing the world’s most hallowed traditions.
How It Came
A Course in Miracles began when two people joined in a common goal. They were both professors of Medical Psychology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. The Course came as a kind of rapid, inner dictation which Helen Schucman took down in shorthand notebooks and later read to William Thetford, who then typed the original manuscripts. This inner dictation came from a “Voice” which identified itself as Jesus. Many students of A Course in Miracles believe that the Course stands on the merit of its contents and not by the claim of its authorship.
The Course provides a way in which some people will be able to find their own Internal Teacher, The Holy Spirit. There are both similarities and differences between the teachings of A Course in Miracles and the teachings of the Bible. The differences include the teaching of A Course in Miracles that we are not guilty or sinful before God, and that God requires no sacrifice or punishment in order for us to be united with Him. While we acknowledge these and other differences, we also acknowledge our respect for the Bible and encourage the study of it.
What It Is
First published in 1976, the Course is arranged throughout as a teaching device. It consists of three books: a 669-page Text, a 488-page Workbook for Students, and a 92-page Manual for Teachers. The curriculum is carefully conceived and is explained step-by-step at both the theoretical and practical levels. It emphasizes application rather than theory, and experience rather than theology.
Although Christian terms are used, the Course deals with universal spiritual themes. It embraces much of eastern philosophical thought combined with western modern psychology. It emphasizes that it is but one of the many paths which all lead to God in the end. The Course makes no claim to finality and at the end, the reader is given into the hands of his or her own Internal Teacher, Who will direct all subsequent learning.
What It Says
Nothing real can be threatened
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.
This is how A Course in Miracles begins. It makes a fundamental distinction between the real and the unreal, between knowledge and perception. Knowledge is truth, under one law, the law of Love or God. Truth is unalterable, eternal and unambiguous. It can be unrecognized, but it cannot be changed. It applies to everything that God created, and only what He created is real. It has no opposite, no beginning and no end. It merely is.
The world of perception, on the other hand, is the world of time, of change, of beginnings and endings. It is based on interpretation, not on facts. It is founded on the belief in scarcity, loss, separation and death. It is learned rather than given, selective in its perceptual emphases, unstable in its functioning, and inaccurate in its interpretations.
From Knowledge and perception respectively, two distinct thought systems arise which are opposite in every respect. The thought system based on knowledge, love and truth, leads to peace. The thought system based on perception is made by the belief in opposites and separate wills, in perpetual conflict with each other and with God.
Every step in the Course is designed to enable the student to gradually shift from seeing the world through eyes of fear to seeing the world through eyes of love. The Course has its own definitions for many terms. “Sin” is defined as lack of love. “Forgive” means to recognize our perceptual errors and to look past our distorted self-concepts to the Self that God created in us and as us. Through a process of “forgiveness” as taught in the Course, we learn to accept our brothers and at last to forgive ourselves. Similarly, old words such as God, Christ, Holy Spirit, Heaven, Atonement, and others, are defined differently than we learned in the past.
About A Course in Miracles
A Course in Miracles is a complete self-study spiritual thought system. As a three-volume curriculum consisting of a Text, Workbook for Students, and Manual for Teachers. It teaches that the way to universal love and peace is by undoing guilt through forgiveness. The Course focuses on the healing of relationships. It says it is but one version of the universal curriculum, of which there are “many thousands.” The Course represents a non-sectarian, non-denominational spirituality. It is a universal spiritual teaching, not a religion.
A Course in Miracles states that “its goal for you is happiness and peace.” (T-13.II.7:1) The Text explains the basis for fear and guilt, and how they can be overcome. Miracles are a shift in perception from fear to love.
The “Workbook for Students” consists of 365 lessons, an exercise for each day of the year. The “Manual for Teachers” is written in question-and-answer form and provides answers to some of the more likely questions a student might ask.
A Course in Miracles was “scribed” by Dr. Helen Schucman through a process of inner dictation she identified as coming from Jesus. A clinical and research psychologist and Professor of Medical Psychology, she was assisted by Dr. William Thetford, her department head, at Columbia University School of Medicine in New York City.
The summary introduction for A Course in Miracles appears in its Text.
“This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite. This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way: Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.
Some quotations from A Course in Miracles
There is no order of difficulty in miracles.
I seek a future different from the past.
If you bring the past to the present you make a future like the past.
This day I choose to spend in peace.
This is a course in how to know yourself.
Can you imagine what it means to have no cares, no worries, no anxieties, but merely to be perfectly calm and quiet all the time?
I could see peace instead of this.
Knowledge is not the motivation for learning this course. Peace is.
Seek only this and do not let theology delay you.
You are the work of God, and His work is wholly lovable and wholly loving.
[Excerpted from http://www.miraclescenter.com/WhatIsACIM.htm]
A Course in Miracles is not affiliated with any church.
The following is excerpted from Ken Wapnick's tape entitled "An Overview of A Course in Miracles."
There is an important line in the text that says: "Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh." This tiny mad idea was the belief the Son of God, could be separate from his Creator and Source. In reality again, this never happened. There is a line in the Manual that speaks of the separation and says: "In time this happened long ago, in reality it never happened at all." It just seemed to have happened. And what seemed to have happened was that the Son of God, basically said to his Father: "What you have given me is not enough, I want something more. I want something more than everything. Your love is not enough because your love does not recognize me as an individual. I want to be recognized. I want to be paid attention to. I want you to notice me, because in a non-dualistic world of spirit, there is no notice." As the workbook says: "There is no place where the Father ends and the Son begins as something apart from Him.
But the tiny mad idea would strongly suggest that indeed there is a separation now. The Son now can observe himself in relation to his Creator, and basically say: "I am not satisfied." This is obviously absurd and it's impossible, but the tragedy of it all is, that we believe that it happened. Because it's that belief that sets into motion, the entire basic myth that the Course gives us of how the thought system of the ego evolved. And how the physical universe was made.
So the Son of God now has this tiny mad idea that he could be separate from his Creator and Source. And the Course explains this is basically the beginning of the dream. The Son falls asleep, and has this dream in which this voice speaks to him of being separate from God.
Now what happens at the same moment, is when the Son of God falls asleep, he carries with him into the dream, a memory of who he really is, as Christ. As Spirit. That memory that he takes with him into the dream, the Course calls the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a Thought. The Holy Spirit is a memory. There is a very important section in the text, called: “The Present Memory.” And the Holy Spirit is basically that memory. The Holy Spirit is that Thought in our sleeping mind, calling to us in the dream, that says, you never left home. There is a line in the Course that says: “We are at home in God, dreaming of exile.” So all this, is a dream.
And so what now happened, and it should be obvious as I am going through this, that I am really constructing for you a myth that is based on all the teachings in the Course. So it is really an attempt to put into mythological terms – with figures and ideas and with events, something that really can’t be understood in any other way. And beyond that, never actually happened.
But as our myth begins to unfold, we find that within the dream the Son of God now hears two voices. The voice of the ego that says: “You are separate from God. You have pulled off the impossible. You basically told God that what He gave you was not enough, and so your going to make a self that you like. Your going to become self created, rather than God created. Your going to make a kingdom that you like, in which you exist as an individual. The Course make a distinction between the words “existence” and “being.” Being, is what we all share in Heaven as spirit. Existence, is what we think we have, once we separate.
And then there is the other Voice. The Voice of the Holy Spirit, that says: “You have only fallen asleep. This is a dream. And this never happened because this could not happen. Perfect Love cannot be separated from. Perfect wholeness cannot be divided. Oneness cannot be made divisible.” And the Course gives a world for all of this. And this is the word, “Atonement.”
And the Atonement principle in the Course is the principle that says, the separation from God never happened. It is an important word that the Course uses deliberately, because for about 2500 years of Judaism and Christianity the word atonement, is used as part of God’s plan to cause His children to suffer and sacrifice, to pay Him back for what they did to Him. And by suffering and sacrifice, both in Judaism, as well as Christianity, hopefully God will be appeased. He will change His Mind about His vengeful retribution and will forgive us.
So atonement in both Judaism and Christianity — and certainly as seen in Christianity, in the atoning death of Jesus. Sin is made real. God is upset and angry. Has a response to our sin. And that response is that we have to suffer, and sacrifice the way Jesus did. Or, the suffering servant did, in the book of Isaiah. So God will feel that He is paid back and therefore will forgive us.
In the Course, the world Atonement is used to say the very opposite. Atonement in the Course, corrects our belief in sin, by showing us that it never happened. Again, in Christianity, sin actually happened and then you have to do something about it. And God is the agent of the doing. Or the author of the plan of the doing. In the Course the Atonement is simply the understanding and the recognition that nothing happened. So we could say the Course teaches us, that we basically forgive, for what has not happened. Not, for what has happened.
So you have these two conflicting, mutually exclusive voices speaking of the reality of the separation. The one voice speaking of the reality of the separation. And the other Voice saying; “There is no separation.” And the Son then has to choose between these two mutually exclusive, contradictory voices. He cannot choose both of them because they say different things. Both cannot be true.
And in weighing the voices, and what the voices say, the Son, as is evidenced by the fact that we all are here, or think we are here — the Son chooses the ego. And he chose the ego for a very good reason. He (and basically the Son, at this point is all of us) because we are a collective Son at this point. We all felt that we liked the idea of being on our own. We liked the idea of being an individual. Of being free. Of being autonomous. Of being independent. That was a very appealing thought.
We didn’t like the idea of being a non-entity. A nothing. Because in Heaven, there is no individuality. There is only God. There is only Love. And we wanted to be an individual. We wanted to be paid attention to. To use a very important word, in the Course, we wanted to be special. And so if we choose the Holy Spirit’s Atonement Thought (the separation never happened) we would be right back in God. And we (as an individual we would no longer exist.) And we liked the idea that we were beginning to develop an identity.
So we all chose, as one Son, to go with the ego. And we could say, in a sense, at that moment, when we chose the ego, the ego was born. Because the ego is not an entity. It’s not a thing. It’s not the devil. The ego is really a part of us, that likes the idea of being <us.> That is what the ego is. It is just the part of us that likes being <me.> There is no “I” in Heaven.
So we chose against the Holy Spirit, Who at that point <seems> to disappear into our minds. And we give a name to that part of our minds, that chooses either the ego or the Holy Spirit. And this is a term that the Course doesn’t usually use, except once in a different context, but certainly it is a concept that is implied all the way through. And so the word that we use to denote that part of the mind that chooses or decides between the ego and the Holy Spirit, is the decision maker. It is the part of the mind that chooses between the ego and the Holy Spirit. That is the crucial part of our mind. And in a sense, that is the seat of our destiny. That is where the mistake happened. That is where the mistake is undone.
In that sense, the Courses theory becomes very very simple. The problem is that we chose the ego. The solution is that we undo the mistaken choice, and now choose the Holy Spirit.