A Course in Miracles
A Course in Miracles (ACIM), published in 1975, emerged as
the most successful channeled work to be produced in the English-speaking
world in the last half of the twentieth century.
By the end of the twentieth century, more than a million copies
had been published. The material in ACIM was received quietly
over eight years (19651973) by Dr. Helen Schucman
(19101981), the assistant to the head of the Department of
Psychology at Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, and an
associate professor of psychology at Columbia Universitys College
of Physicians and Surgeons.
In spite of having adopted a secular atheist perspective earlier
in her life, Schucman began to have visionary experiences
and to hear an inner voice. Then one day, the voice said, This
is a course in miracles. Please take notes. She confided this experience
with a colleague, William N. Tetford, and he encouraged
her to follow her inner instructions. She began to take
notes in shorthand. That very evening she began receiving
what was to become a 622-page textbook, the heart of the
Course. Over the next seven years she also received the material
for a 478-page Workbook and 88-page teachers Manual.
The atheist Schucman continued to have intellectual problems
with her channeling activity, problems complicated by the
apparent source of the material she was receivingthe biblical
Jesus Christ. The Course was published without her name, and
her identity was kept confidential by the small inner circle of
people who initially read the manuscript and assisted in the
publication. Prominent among these was Judith Skutch. Once
published in 1975, however, it quickly found an audience, especially
in New Thought churches with whose perspective the
ACIM largely agreed. The Foundation for Inner Peace was
created to hold the copyrights of ACIM and to keep it in publication.
However, the foundation made no attempt to control
the efforts of people to form groups to study and disseminate
the teachings. Numerous study groups were founded across
North America and increasingly through the 1980s around the
world. A new generation of teachers, including Marianne Williamson,
Tara Singh, Dr. Gerald Jampolsky, and most prominently,
Kenneth and Gloria Wapnick, emerged as leaders in
the loosely organized movement.
In the vacuum left by the Foundation for Inner Peace, different
organizations emerged to perform various functions.
Saul Steinberg, owner of Coleman Graphics, which originally
published A Course in Miracles, founded Miracle Life, Inc. (now
Miracle Experiences, Inc.), to publish Course-related materials
and promote conferences and workshops. Miracle Distribution
Center has become the nexus of an international network of
study groups. A center in San Francisco became the first group
to evolve into a church and offer ministerial training and ordinations.
Jampolskys Center for Attitudinal Healing was the
first organization to promote the use of the Course in the healing
of psychological problems.
The thrust of the teachings received by Schucman concerned
miracles as shifts in perception that move the individual
from perceptions based on guilt to perceptions based on love,
from perceptions based on ego to those based on God. The
commonly held illusions lead to the disastrous belief that humanity
is separated from God and deserving of punishment.
The illusion of separation has itself created a separation that
needs to be healed. However, we tend to deny the problem and
suppress feelings of guilt, shame, and self-hate as well as the accompanying
irrational projection of such feelings on others,
both individuals and groups.
The Course teaches that humans have the ability to choose
not to live with guilt, but must learn to see the real world and
get themselves free of the harmful illusions. Forgiveness is the
key to breaking the cycle of self-hate. Through forgiving others,
people come to see hostile behavior patterns as a product
of self-condemnation. Ultimately, salvation is a relational reality,
and is found in a forgiving community. Such relationships
make visible the tendency to project.
The Course also emphasizes that people generally need help
from outside themselves to gain the new perspective they need.
It teaches that humans have forgotten their divine nature and
need to be awakened by God to the nature of the hell they have
created for themselves. Sin, toward God, is an illusion. Thus individuals
need to be awakened to their nature as Gods children
and from that point, learn to forgive.
The Foundation for Inner Peace is currently located at P. O.
Box 798, Mill Valley, CA 94942-0598. It has a webpage at
httpwww.acim.org. The foundation is leading the effort to
translate ACIM, and German, French, and Spanish editions
have already been published. The Miracle Distribution Center
is located at 1141 East Ash Ave., Fullerton, CA 92831. Its Internet
site is at httpwww.miraclecenter.org. The center publishes
a list of ACIM study centers around the world.
A Course in Miracles. 3 vols. New York Foundation for Inner
Koggend, John. The Gospel According to Helen. Psychology
Today 14 (September 1980) 7478.
The Count Ken Fan Club Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology 5th Ed.
Miller, D. Patrick. The Complete Story of the Course The History,
the People and the Controversies Behind A Course in Miracles. Berkeley,
Calif. Fearless Books, 1997.
Singh, Tara. How to Learn from A Course in Miracles. Los Angeles
Life Action Press, 1988.
Wapnick, Kenneth. Absence of Felicity The Story of Helen
Schucman and Her Scribing of A Course in Miracles. Roscoe, N.Y.
Foundation for A Course in Miracles, 1991
A Course in Miracles