The actual process of the scribing was not difficult, and for the most part flowed rather smoothly. Helen would write down words dictated by the “Voice” in shorthand notebooks, and whenever she and Bill had time during a very busy schedule, she would dictate to Bill what had been dictated to her. Bill would then type it directly from Helen’s dictation, acting as transcriber. It was truly a collaborative venture between them. It also ensured that the Course—the answer to their question to find “another way”—would be absolutely faithful to the words and message Helen received from the “Voice” she identified as Jesus. The process took seven years, and was completed in October, 1972.
Although the scribing itself was relatively effortless, it did engender tremendous anxiety in Helen, though less in Bill. As Helen wrote:
“It made me very uncomfortable, but it never seriously occurred to me to stop. It seemed to be a special assignment I had somehow, somewhere agreed to complete. It represented a truly collaborative venture between Bill and myself, and much of its significance, I am sure, lies in that. I could neither account for nor reconcile my obviously inconsistent attitudes. On the one hand I still regarded myself as officially an agnostic, resented the material I was taking down, and was strongly impelled to attack it and prove it wrong. On the other hand I spent considerable time in taking it down and later in dictating it to Bill, so it was apparent that I took it quite seriously. I actually came to refer to it as my life’s work. As Bill pointed out, I must believe in it if only because I argued with it so much. While this was true, it did not help me. I was in the impossible position of not believing my own life’s work. The situation was clearly ridiculous as well as painful.”
And as Bill recalled:
“The material was something that transcended anything that either of us could possibly conceive of. And since the content was quite alien to our backgrounds, interests and training, it was obvious to me that it came from an inspired source. The quality of the material was very compelling, and its poetic beauty added to its impact.”
As to the impact of A Course in Miracles on Bill, he said:
“It changed my life totally. I recall typing the first fifty principles on miracles that came through Helen in the Fall of 1965, and realized that if this material was true then absolutely everything I believed would have to be challenged—that I would have to reconstruct my whole belief system. At the time, however, I thought that would be impossible; I didn’t know how I could do it. Yet I felt that was a requirement, since the material that came through Helen in the beginning phase seemed so authentic and genuine. I went into shock for a brief period, wondering how it would be possible to make such an abrupt change in my perception of life and the world. Later I realized that God is merciful, and does not ask us to make changes so abruptly, that there would be adequate time to gradually begin to shift my perception. I think what was important was my willingness to change, not mastery of the material.”
When once asked his definition of A Course in Miracles, Bill replied:
“To help us change our minds about who we are and what God is, and to help us let go, through forgiveness, our belief in the reality of our separation from God. Learning how to forgive ourselves and others is really the fundamental teaching of the Course. The Course teaches us how to know ourselves and how to unlearn all of those things which interfere with our recognition of who we are and always have been.”
Helen chose to conceal her spiritual journey from almost all of her friends, and all family members, except of course from her husband Louis. They would have been incredulous if they had known of her hidden life and scribing, which also included two pamphlets—“Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice” and “The Song of Prayer: Prayer, Forgiveness, Healing”—that were dictated to her after A Course in Miracles was completed. Helen also took down well over a hundred poems, published posthumously in 1982 as The Gifts of God by the Foundation for Inner Peace.
While generally ill at ease with the Course, Helen was more uncomfortable with the poetry, which at times reflects a closer and more personal relationship with Jesus. Because the poems gave her secret away, she did not wish them to be published during her lifetime. In addition, she wanted to preserve her anonymity as scribe of A Course in Miracles, firmly maintaining that it should stand on its own, with the true author, Jesus, remaining its sole inspirational figure. She knew that any public recognition of her role would distract from this focus.