There are many amazing resources available to help us wake up, grow in awareness, expand our consciousness, and liberate ourselves from illusory paradigms and false beliefs. Each resource will touch the lives of seekers in some unique way, but every so often there comes a resource that touches the lives of millions of people in the most transformational of ways. One such resource is A Course in Miracles.
Helen Schucman and William Thetford are known for bringing forth the work known as A Course in Miracles. This is a book that has been healing and changing people’s lives since the 1970s. Even though Helen and William are not the actual authors of this work, had it not been for their cooperation, dedication, patience, and surrender, this work would not have been produced.
The Origins of “A Course in Miracles”
A Course in Miracles is a book that came about from the joint efforts of Dr. Helen Schucman and William Thetford. They were both Professors of Medical Psychology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. Although the names Helen Schucman or William Thetford may not sound too familiar to most of us – the work that these two brought together definitely will. It is through the cooperation, dedication, and efforts of Helen and William, that today many in the world can be transformed and healed by the work they put together in A Course in Miracles. This work was not officially written by Helen Schucman or William Thetford, but transcribed and put together by them. The events that lead up to this work began when these two personalities were working together as Professors of Medical Psychology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City during the 1960s.
Schucman and Thetford were regarded as highly academic people who were anything but spiritual. Their relationship with each other was difficult and often strained, and they were concerned with personal and professional acceptance and status. This all makes the events that led to A Course in Miracles that much more extraordinary. It all began with Helen having strangely vivid dreams, which then resulted in her hearing an internal voice that began to speak to her. This spiritual personality introduced itself as Jesus Christ. From then on, for 7 years, from 1965 through 1972 during various sequences, Helen began to take down the notes in shorthand as the voice spoke to her and instructed. Today we would understand this as channeling.
During the process, Schucman claimed to have the mental equivalent of a tape recorder in her thoughts, which she described as being able to turn on and off at will, at her convenience, so that she might be able to transcribe into shorthand notes, what she was internally hearing. She felt she had a “special assignment” and as uncomfortable as it sometimes made her, she was motivated to fulfill it. Helen began to share her experiences with her co-worker William and eventually each day she would read back her notes to him. William would then type out the notes while Helen read them to him. After all the ACIM material had been initially transcribed it was then edited for publication by Dr. Schucman herself, along with William Thetford and Kenneth Wapnick.
To date, almost 2 million copies of ACIM have been sold in various editions with the first one being published in 1975.
In September of 2008, a documentary entitled A Course in Miracles Unleashed was released. It interviews and highlights the stories of many people who have been healed by the teachings of ACIM, which would not have been possible if it was not for the joint efforts of Helen and William.
Learning From Helen Schucman and William Thetford
Thanks to the work of these two, we can walk away enlightened in many ways. From Helen we can learn that any of us can be messengers of God, we only have to be open and receptive to God’s call. Helen and her experience teach us, that often we do not understand the bigger picture of creation. Sometimes we face situations in our life that we would rather avoid or that do not make us feel comfortable. However, at the same time, these situations can bring great lessons and transformations on not just a personal level but also on a global scale. Hence, one should not necessarily shy away from a new opportunity, as one may not know the greatness or the impact of it on this world.
From William, we can learn about the value of cooperation, compassion, and nonjudgment. William could have refused to help Helen. In fact, William could have ridiculed her and her experience altogether, but even despite the fact that they had a strained relationship as colleagues, William saw Helen’s humanity above anything else and decided to support and help his colleague. I think this speaks volumes about compassion, as many people in this world would ridicule their friends if they had an out-of-the-ordinary experience, such as claiming that Jesus was speaking to them, never mind people they do not particularly like or get along with.
Finally, both of them teach us the true value of humility and being humble. Although what Helen and William helped to bring out had the power to be perhaps some lucrative material where their finances were concerned – neither of them was doing it for fame or fortune. In fact, both of them, but especially Helen, did not want any special recognition or fame for this material. They brought the material out through joint efforts and at all times Helen made it clear that she was simply the scribe. Hence to this date, ACIM has no official author accredited to it.
Content of “A Course in Miracles”
This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary.
The Course is a complete self-study spiritual thought system and is arranged as a teaching device. It consists of 3 books: the Text, the Workbook for Students, and the Manual for Teachers. There is no requirement to read the books in any particular order.
The text is largely theoretical and sets forth the concepts that the Course is based on. The workbook is composed of 365 lessons, one for each day of the year, where one can begin to put the theory into practice. The lessons of course can be done at any pace one chooses. The manual for teachers is written in question and answer format and contains additional clarification.
A Course in Miracles states that its goal for you is happiness and peace. (Text, p. 241) (T-13.II.7:1)
Although Christian in nature, the Course deals with universal spiritual themes and is in no way intended to become the extension of, or the basis for, a new or already existing religion.
It examines, explains, and most importantly redefines topics such as God, the Holy Spirit, miracles, time, ego, soul, sin, forgiveness, salvation, judgment, sacrifice, fear, conflict, and love, for application at both theoretical and practical levels.
The world we see merely reflects our own internal frame of reference – the dominant ideas, wishes, and emotions in our minds.
Over the years since the Course came out, there have been countless accounts of people waking up and transcending their physical, mental, and/or emotional pain. One of the most profound teachers of the Course, for whom it started just like that, is the now-famous author, Marianne Williamson. Over the past few decades, she has dedicated herself to learning and teaching the Course and has accordingly published many books that put the concepts of the Course into even more practical terms and applications.
The Value of “A Course in Miracles”
As for A Course in Miracles itself, there are so many life-changing and enlightening messages in it, that it is hard to know where to begin sharing the abundant wisdom it provides. The greatest lesson I have learned from ACIM is how to see Christianity or any religion for that matter in a new light. Once we go past the labels, the rules, and the man-made traditions, there are great Universal truths that are common at any level of spirituality and this is what ACIM focuses on the most. ACIM strips away all superficiality and focuses on the core of human existence, our being, and our purpose for life.
Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.
A Course In Miracles
ACIM has also allowed me to see the personality known as Jesus in a new light. Many religions out there today claim many things about Jesus, as to his true purpose for being here on Earth and his message. In ACIM, Jesus speaks to each of us again – in this new time and age and simply says “You got me all wrong”.
Could it be true? Well to many extremists and fundamentalists, the answer is absolutely not. However, if one examines all the facts on a deeper level and sees human action in play for the past 2000 years it is very and I mean very easy to see how this could have happened. ACIM thus brings forth a deeper and greater message from Jesus for all of us and one that if applied allows one to live a life rooted in love, compassion, unity, and forgiveness for themselves, others, and this world, with unconditional love and no judgment.
I particularly loved how the topic of forgiveness is described in ACIM. It is so empowering, loving, real, and practical. I know a lot of people think out there today that by “forgiving” someone, they are doing it for that someone and thus it leaves a lot of people feeling resentful and dis-empowered. ACIM explains beautifully how true forgiveness, is done for oneself and looks beyond what is because what is, is not the ultimate truth – it is not the ultimate reality – it is not that person at their truest essence. It is thus not only empowering but very loving in that no grudges are held and no such things as “sins” are counted as “strikes” against you.
ACIM also beautifully explains and has taught me the meaning of “true miracles”. So many of us go around today thinking miracles are some big events that no longer happen or that no current Earthly soul today is capable of. ACIM explains that nothing could be further from the truth – miracles are indeed happening all around us, every day, and in fact EACH ONE of US is capable of performing miracles. Also, there is no such thing as a bigger or smaller, more important or less important, harder or easier to do a miracle. Miracles are all one and they all stem out of love.
Finally, throughout the entire text, the message of love is iterated beautifully into every lesson. There truly is nothing else at the essence of our being but that. There is nothing more solid, more real, or more encompassing and uniting, both in life and death as is love.
A Course in Miracles states that it is a required course, only the time at which you take it, is voluntary. Upon reading this book and digesting all of the material, one can quickly see why this book has changed and will continue to heal and change the lives of many.
Documentary Film: “A Course in Miracles Unleashed”
Alongside the texts, those interested in ACIM can now also take advantage of a documentary that was put together to share the stories of change and awakening from people who have benefitted from the material of ACIM. A Course in Miracles Unleashed was released in the fall of 2008.
If you have read and are familiar with A Course in Miracles, this film can help you hear from other people and learn about their experiences, and perhaps also be inspired to share about it with others. Perhaps connect with an ACIM group in your area, or start your own.
If you are new to A Course in Miracles, it is best to read the book and do the course first, as otherwise, the film may not make as much sense as it would with the right background. However, it can provide a simple introduction to the concepts outlined in ACIM and compel you to explore it further.
A Course in Miracles can serve as an excellent stepping stone or transition onto the path of spiritual evolution and enlightenment, especially for those who live a life based on fear, guilt, shame and based on traditions and obligations.
It allows one to widen the gap and their perspective on what is real and what isn’t, what matters and what is futile, what is permanent and what is transitory, and most importantly begin to taste freedom and live out their fullest potential.
It is as if Jesus were coming back to say: “You misunderstood, you got me all wrong.” I know that for many conservative Christians that is as heretical as it gets, but it still does not negate the truth of what is. As with all enlightened work, no one is forced to do or believe anything. It is only when we are ready and open to hearing the inner truth that has been within us all along that we can move to the next level of awareness. That is actually one of the best aspects of the course, as it moves us to understand that there is really nothing to learn, there is just to remember – remember who you really are and what the essence and point of it all are.
A Course in Miracles has already transformed millions of lives and will continue to transform many more. As the age of awakening continues to inspire people to live their life based on consciousness and love, we will each be examples of our own miracles.