New Realities Magazine, July-August 1984
by James Bolen
A Course in Miracles was originally transcribed between 1965 and 1973 by Helen Schucman, Ph.D., a research psychologist. Dr. Schucman, who at the time held an atheistic outlook on life, was assisted in “scribing” the Course by William Thetford, Ph.D., also a psychologist and a professor of medical psychology. Dr. Schucman experienced the process as one of distinct and clear dictation from an “inner voice.” Following a series of vivid spiritual, mental images, the inner voice began its dictation with: “This is a course in miracles, please take notes.”
The abstractions of philosophies that came over the next seven-and-a-half years were eventually published in a 622-page Text, a 478-page Workbook with practical lessons for students, and an 88-page Manual for Teachers with clarification of terms and ideas.
Like many spiritual teachings, the Course posits that all of us are fundamentally joined beings who share a oneness of inexorable love and an inherent but obscured capacity for compassion, forgiveness, and peace. That all emotions, problems, decisions inevitably come down to the choice between love and fear. You either love, forgive, and unite or you fear, resent, and separate. The Course also emphasizes that it is but one version that deals with universal spiritual themes; that there are many other versions, this one differing only in form.
The goal of the Course is to help the student make a total shift in perception, from the finite world of fear and illusion we are mistakenly caught up in, to the infinite world of love and truth, which Is our natural state. The means for attaining this perceptual shift is offered In the Course‘s unique “how to” Workbook, composed of 365 lessons – one for each day of the year. The lessons help one retrain the mind to operate in accordance with its natural state and function in extending God’s Will, Perfection, and Love. Unconditional forgiveness, love, and the recognition of our shared oneness or “At-one-ment” are also some of the concepts which students are encouraged to demonstrate In their own lives, rather than to merely believe. And miracles are defined as shifts in perception that remove the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence.
Above all, the Course instructs students in the discovery of their own inner guidance, the revelation of a spiritual voice of truth that counsels one in all situations. The Voice for God, as It is called, dwells within and is accessible to each of us. It offers everything from directions for making decisions on business, career and life purpose, to ways in which we can heal our relationships and find inner peace through forgiveness.
The Course positions itself as a reteaching of eternal truths presented as a self-study course for personal transformation; that it is a spiritual teaching, not a religion. And although it uses Christian terminology, it is decidedly ecumenical in nature stating that its form is only one approach to a universal curriculum. Its emphasis is on the experimental rather than the theoretical, stating that: “A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary.” (C-In.2:5)
The first public presentation of A Course in Miracles appeared in New Realities’ first issue in mid-1977 (Vol. I, No. 1), as an exclusive article titled “Simple, Dumb, Boring Truths and A Course in Miracles” by Brian Van der Horst. A subsequent exclusive update by Van der Horst appeared in these pages two years later (Vol. III, No. 1).
This article by Robert Skutch – a first-time, firsthand detailed account of the story behind the Course – is one of a two-part series excerpted and edited from his book Journey Without Distance (The Story Behind A Course in Miracles). It is here presented in the same spirit the Inner Voice conveyed to Dr. Schucman in response to her question of what the Course was for and why it was coming through her.
“The world situation is worsening to an alarming degree. People all over the world are being called on to help, and are making their individual contributions as part of an overall prearranged plan. … Because of the acute emergency however, the usual slow, evolutionary process is being bypassed in what might best be described as a ‘celestial speed-up.”
Because Dr. Schucman sensed and heeded the urgency that lay behind this explanation that time was running out, even though she personally “rejected” the content of A Course in Miracles at the time, she nevertheless continued for seven-and-a-half years in scribing it in making her individual contribution.
– James Bolen, Editor
New Realities Magazine
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