A Course in Miracles
|A Course in Miracles|
A Course in Miracles, Combined Volume, Third Edition as published by
Foundation for Inner Peace.
|Published||1976 (New York: Viking: The Foundation for Inner Peace)
2007 (The Foundation for Inner Peace, 3rd ed.)
|Media type||Softcover, Hardcover, Paperback MME, and Kindle, Sony & Mobipocket ebooks|
|ISBN||978-1-883360-24-5 Soft cover|
A Course in Miracles (also referred to as ACIM or the Course) is a self-study curriculum which aims to assist its readers in achieving spiritual transformation. The book describes a non-dualistic philosophy of forgiveness and includes what are meant to be practical lessons and applications for the practice of forgiveness in one's daily life. The introduction to the book contains the following summary: Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.
While there is no author clearly listed for the book, Helen Schucman (a psychologist) in fact wrote down the book with the help of William Thetford (also a psychologist), based on what Schucman called an "inner voice" which she identified as Jesus. The most popular edition, the 3rd Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) edition, is published by the organization chosen by Schucman for this purpose. Other partially abridged editions, which primarily derive from a few recently discovered copies of pre-publication manuscripts, are also available from other publishers. The full 3rd FIP edition consists of 5 sections, the Text, the Workbook for Students, the Manual for Teachers, the Clarification of Terms, and the Supplements. The first three sections account for approximately 95% of the material. The FIP reports that two million volumes of A Course in Miracles have been published and disseminated worldwide since it first became available for sale in 1976. Additionally, the FIP edition has been translated into nineteen different languages with eight new translations under way.
- 1 Origins
- 2 Editing
- 3 Publication
- 4 Structure of material
- 5 Reception
- 6 Footnoted references
- 7 General references
- 8 External links
A Course in Miracles was originally written as a collaborative venture between Schucman and Thetford. At the time, 1965, Thetford was director of the psychology department of Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City while at the same time holding a faculty appointment as Professor of Medical Psychology at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Schucman began her professional career at the Medical Center as Thetford's research associate, later also to become a tenured professor of psychology at Columbia University.
Their weekly office meetings had become contentious, and they had both expressed their dislike of these meetings, feeling uncomfortable and angry. Tired of the professional competitiveness and negativity that seemed to have arisen, on a certain afternoon in June 1965, Thetford delivered a speech to Schucman indicating that he felt they had been using the wrong approach. "There must be another way" he concluded.
Schucman felt that this speech had somehow acted as a sort of a stimulus, eventually triggering off a long series of inner experiences that could be categorized as visions, dreams, heightened imagery, along with a certain "inner voice" that began to make itself known. Finally on October 21, 1965 the "inner voice" asked of her: "This is a Course in Miracles, please take notes". This was the voice that had previously identified itself to her as the voice of Jesus. Schucman said that the writing made her very uncomfortable, though it never seriously occurred to her to stop.
The next day at work, with great trepidation, she explained the strange events of her "note taking" to Thetford. To her surprise, Thetford encouraged her to continue the process, offering that if the notes she had taken didn't make sense then, but only then, should she stop. He also offered to assist her in typing out her notes as she read them to him. Thetford found the notes to be making sense, and so this routine of note taking and typewriter transcription the next day repeated itself regularly for many years to come. Finally in 1972 the dictation of the first three sections was completed. Still, the dictation of the last two sections of Course material lasted until September, 1977.
Kenneth Wapnick was a clinical psychologist who directed a school for disturbed children and served as chief psychologist at Harlem Valley State Hospital from 1967 through 1972. In 1972, Wapnick left his Jewish faith and converted to Catholicism so he could become a monk.
Fr. Benedict Groeschel is a priest with a doctorate in psychology and a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin who studied under Thetford and worked with Schucman. Groeschel arranged an introduction of Wapnick to Schucman and Thetford in November 1972. Groeschel was given a copy of the ACIM manuscript in 1973 and testified that he was instructed by Schucman not to distribute the manuscript; however, with Schucman's permission, he made it available to Wapnick.
Wapnick reviewed the draft and discussed with Schucman further revisions that were needed to place the book in final form. Over the next thirteen months, Wapnick and Schucman edited the manuscript by deleting personal material intended only for Schucman and Thetford, creating chapter and section headings, and correcting various inconsistencies in paragraph structure, punctuation, and capitalization. This editing process was completed by approximately February 1975. Wapnick subsequently became a teacher of the Course, co-founder and president of the Foundation for A Course in Miracles (FACIM), and a director and executive committee member of the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP).
The Foundation for Inner Peace (or FIP) was originally called the Foundation for Para-Sensory Investigations, Inc. (FPI), and was founded on October 21, 1971 by Robert Skutch and Judith Skutch-Whitson as a non-profit organization. Robert Skutch was a businessman and writer, who for many years had been a writer of television plays and advertising copy. Skutch-Whitson was a teacher and lecturer at New York University on the science of the study of consciousness and parapsychology.
Douglas Dean was a physicist and engineer and also a friend of Skutch-Whitson. On May 29, 1975, Dean decided to introduce Skutch-Whitson to Schucman, Thetford, and Wapnick. Soon afterwards, the three of them decided to share the Course materials with Skutch-Whitson. Skutch-Whitson found herself to be quite favorably impressed with the Course manuscripts and materials that had been shared with her, and soon the four of them decided to begin meeting on a regular basis to study, discuss, and share their common enthusiasm for the "Course".
It had been Schucman's hope that a non-profit foundation could eventually be found that could publish the "Course" material, and so she found in the Skutchs' reconstituted non-profit FIP, with its previous related work, an organization that she felt would be suitable to shoulder the needed publication responsibilities.
In June 1976 the four of them authorized the publication of the first three sections of the Course in a set of three hardcover volumes in a 5,000 copy run, along with the publication of the supplemental Course booklet: "Psychology: Purpose, Process, Practice". The up-front printing costs for this edition were partially paid for with the help of a sizable donation from a wealthy philantropist, Reed Erickson.
In 1981 Schucman died of complications related to pancreatic cancer.
In 1983, control of the copyrights were transferred to the FACIM as headed by Wapnick.
In 1985, the FIP began publishing the three volumes in a more manageable, single soft-cover volume, but without any editorial content changes.
In 1988 Bill Thetford died in Tiburon, California.
In 1992, the FIP published a second hardcover edition, along with the supplemental Course booklet, "Song of Prayer". This second edition incorporated some minor changes within the first three sections including some editorial content additions and the addition of a verse-numbering system. Also the "Clarification of Terms" section was added.
In 1995, FIP entered a five-year printing and distribution agreement, which expired in December 2000, with Penguin Books for $2.5 million.
In 2004, due to the discovery by some Course students of a few pre-1976 versions of the manuscript, as well as their discovery of a limited 300 edition release of the first three sections of the book before the issuance of a copyright, copyright restrictions on the first three sections of the book were removed, however the copyright restrictions on the last two sections remained in place. "Public domain versions" of these earlier manuscript drafts remain available for study by Course students.
In 2007 FIP began publication of a combined edition, combining the two earlier booklets: "Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process, Practice" and "The Song of Prayer" as a new "supplemental" section in its third edition. The FIP also began publication of a discounted electronic Kindle edition of the "Course".
In 2010 the FIP authorized the release of the film A Course In Miracles- The Movie.
Structure of material
The Preface was written in 1977 and was subsequently added to the published volume. The first two sections--"How It Came" and "What It is"—were written by Helen Schucman. The last section, "What It Says", was written by the process as described by Schucman.
The Text contains the largest volume of material—containing 31 chapters—and discusses the theory upon which A Course in Miracles is based.
Workbook for Students
The Workbook contains 365 lessons, which are designed to help a student practice applying the principles set forth in the text.
Manual for Teachers
The Manual is presented with questions as the headings of each section followed by a discussion in answer format. The manual is based on the primary themes of 1) separate versus shared interests (shared interests is at the core of A Course in Miracles's concept of forgiveness); and 2) asking the Holy Spirit for help. The Manual also includes a section entitled "Clarification of Terms" and an epilogue.
Clarification of Terms
Additional clarification of various terms which are fundamental to the Course, such as: Jesus, Christ, forgiveness, etc. etc.
Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice
The psychotherapy pamphlet is an extension of the principles of A Course in Miracles and discusses the principle of healing within the context of a therapist-patient relationship.
The Song of Prayer: Prayer, Forgiveness, Healing
The song of prayer is another supplement and was written by the process as Schucman describes in the preface after there began to be among students a general misunderstanding of the practicing of the principles as the Course sets forth. This pamphlet introduces the ego concepts of asking-out-of-need, forgiveness-to-destroy and healing-to-separate, which are juxtaposed with the Holy Spirit's corrections for these concepts. The metaphor of a ladder of prayer is used to symbolize an evolving process of understanding and application.
Since it first became available for sale in 1976, over 2 million copies of A Course in Miracles have been sold worldwide and the text has been translated into twenty different languages. A Course In Miracles (ACIM) is widely distributed globally, forming the basis of a range of organised groups. The teachings of A Course in Miracles have been supported by commentators and authors such as Robert Schuller, Oprah Winfrey, and Eckhart Tolle. "A Course In Miracles" is also taught in many Unity churches.  However, due to ACIM's claims to "clarify" or even supersede some of the teachings of orthodox Christianity, the book has been judged negatively by some Christians.
Although a friend of Schucman, Thetford, and Wapnik, Benedict J. Groeschel has since criticized ACIM and the related organizations. Finding some elements of the Course to be what he called, "severe and potentially dangerous distortions of Christian theology", he wrote that the Course is “a good example of a false revelation” and that “it has . . . become a spiritual menace to many.”
Evangelical editor Elliot Miller says that Christian terminology employed in ACIM is "thoroughly redefined" to resemble New Age teachings. Other Christian critics say ACIM is "intensely anti-Biblical" and incompatible with Christianity, blurring the distinction between creator and created and forcefully supporting the occult and New Age world view.
Theologian Anton van Harskamp notes that the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles is inconsistent with that of Christianity in that its “story of creation is totally different from the Christian one.” Accordingly to van Harskamp, in looking at "the suffering in the world, 'the Course' says that this world cannot be created by a God.” In the Christian conception “creation is good” “but at the same time it is impossible to say this about everything that exists.” Significantly, even Course editor and promoter, psychologist Kenneth Wapnick, commented that “if the Bible were considered literally true, then the Course would have to be viewed as demonically inspired.”
Skeptic Robert T. Carroll criticizes ACIM as "a minor industry" that is overly commercialized and characterizes it as "Christianity improved", saying its teachings are not original and suggesting they are culled from "various sources, east and west".
Despite the high level of criticism that ACIM has received from many Christian theologians and authors, other theologians, both Catholics and Protestants, including Evangelicals, have given ACIM high marks and "glowing endorsements". In summary, ACIM's reception among Christian theologians has been quite mixed and has been by no means uniform or monolithic.
- Foundation for Inner Peace. (1996). A Course In Miracles. Foundation for Inner Peace. p. 1, Text. ISBN 0-9606388-8-1.
- "About the Scribes". Foundation for Inner Peace. Retrieved 2007-04-29.
- Foundation for Inner Peace. (1992). A Course In Miracles. Foundation for Inner Peace. pp. vii–viii. ISBN 0-9606388-9-X.
- "ACIM Volumes Published". Foundation for Inner Peace. Retrieved 2009-09-28.
- "ACIM Translation Program". Foundation for Inner Peace. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
- "Introduction to Forgiveness and Jesus". Ken Wapnick Web Site. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- Sweet, Robert W. "Opinion of Judge ROBERT W. SWEET, PENGUIN BOOKS U.S.A., INC., FOUNDATION FOR "A COURSE IN MIRACLES, INC.", and FOUNDATION FOR INNER PEACE, INC., Plaintiffs". Patent dispute, 96 Civ. 4126 (RWS) October 2003. U.S. District Court Southern District of New York. Retrieved 12 August 2011. "Father Benedict Groeschel ("Groeschel") is a former [sic] priest, then a member of a Franciscan order, who had a doctorate in psychology, had studied under Thetford, had worked with Schucman at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center Psychiatric Institute, and had an established interest in the relationship between mysticism or spirituality and psychology. He was given a copy of the Work in 1973. Groeschel testified that he was instructed by Schucman not to distribute the manuscript but with Schucman's permission, he made it available to Dr. Kenneth Wapnick. It was apparent to Groeschel that Schucman and Thetford did not desire that the manuscript be widely disseminated. He complied with their instructions not to give the manuscript to anyone else."
- "The Story of A Course In Miracles = Documentary where Bill Thetford, Helen Schucman, and Ken Wapnick talk about A Course In Miracles". Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- Kenneth Wapnick (1997). The Message of A Course in Miracles: Volume Two: Few Choose to Listen. Foundation for A Course in Miracles. p. 238. ISBN 0-933291-25-6.
- U.S. District Court Southern District Of New York (2003-10-24). "Opinion, Case: Civil 4126 (RWS) ruling (#03-08697) dismissing complaint and granting judgment" (PDF). Archived from the original on 3 July 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-06.
- IMDb Movie listing of A Course In Miracles- The Movie
- Wapnick, Kenneth (2007). Journey Through the Manual of A Course in Miracles, p. 3. Foundation for A Course in Miracles. ISBN 978-1-59142-207-5.
- Bradby, Ruth, "A course in miracles in Ireland". 147 - 162 in Olivia Cosgrove et al. (eds), Ireland's new religious movements. Cambridge Scholars, 2011
- A Course in Miracles taught at Schuller's church
- Oprah Winfrey's website section promoting A Course in Miracles
- "Ripples on the Surface of Being". EnlightenNext magazine. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- Unity website teachings on "A Course in Miracles"
- A Course In Miracles (2007) Text: Chapter 6.Part I:Par. 15 , FIP Edition, ISBN 9781883360252
- Groeschel, Benedict J., A Still Small Voice (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993) 80
- Groeschel, Benedict J., A Still Small Voice (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993) 82
- Newport, John P. (1998). The New Age movement and the biblical worldview: conflict and dialogue. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8028-4430-9.
- "A modern Miracle: Critical comment on the Course in Miracles". Bezinningscentrum.nl. Retrieved 2011-03-18.
- Dean C. Halverson, “Seeing Yourself as Sinless,” SCP Journal 7, no. 1 (l987): 23.
- Carroll, Robert Todd (2003). The skeptic's dictionary: a collection of strange beliefs, amusing deceptions, and dangerous delusions. John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-27242-7.
- "ACIM: Christian Glossed Hinduism for the Masses.". 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-04. The Christian Research Institute describing the reaction of some Christian theologians to ACIM.
- Foundation for Inner Peace (1996). A Course in Miracles (2d ed.). New York: Viking Penguin. ISBN 0-670-86975-9.
- Foundation for Inner Peace (1992). Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice (2d. ed.). Glen Ellen CA: Foundation for Inner Peace. ISBN 0-9606388-6-5.
- Foundation for Inner Peace (1992). The Song of Prayer: Prayer, Forgiveness, Healing (2d. ed.). Glen Ellen CA: Foundation for Inner Peace. ISBN 0-9606388-4-9.
- Miller, D. Patrick (2008). Understanding A Course in Miracles: The History, Message, and Legacy of a Spiritual Path for Today. Berkeley: Celestial Arts/Random House. ISBN 978-1-58761-312-8. A journalistic overview of the history, major principles, criticism, and cultural effects of ACIM.
- Skutch, Robert (1996). Journey Without Distance: The Story Behind A Course in Miracles. Mill Valley: Foundation for Inner Peace. ISBN 1-883360-02-1. Discusses the pre-publication history of ACIM.
- Vahle, Neal (2009). A Course in Miracles: The Lives of Helen Schucman and William Thetford. San Francisco: Open View Press. ISBN 978-1-61623-788-2. This book shows how Schucman and Thetford were affected by the teaching in ACIM.
- Wapnick, Kenneth (1999). Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of A Course in Miracles (2d ed.). New York: Foundation for A Course in Miracles. ISBN 0-933291-08-6. Discusses Helen Schucman and the pre-publication history of ACIM.
- Schucman, Helen (1989). The Gifts of God. Berkeley: Celestial Arts. ISBN 0-89087-585-5. (contains 114 poems that share the spiritual content of the Course as well as the prose poem "The Gifts of God," which summarizes the teachings of the Course)
- Williamson, Marianne (1996). A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-092748-8. Widely-read adaptation of ACIM principles.
- U.S. District Court Southern District Of New York (2003-10-24). "Opinion, Case: Civil 4126 (RWS) ruling (#03-08697) dismissing complaint and granting judgment" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-07-06.
- U.S. District Court Southern District Of New York (2000-07-21). "Opinion, Case: Civil 4126 (RWS) ruling (#00-07413) summary judgment denied" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-07-06.
- U.S. District Court Southern District Of New York (7 May 2003). "Opinion, Case: Civil 4126 (RWS) ruling (#03-04125) motion to admit evidence" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-07-06.
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- Foundation for Inner Peace: Publisher and Distributor of "A Course in Miracles"
- For a more comprehensive aggregated list of related links to ACIM, visit: A Course in Miracles at the Open Directory Project, a link aggregation project.