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A Miracle Studies FAQ
A Miracle Studies Frequently Asked Questions
Friday Aug 18th 1995

From: Mark Jones, mtj@bu.edu (Boston University)

This version of the FAQ was edited and mainly written by Mark Jones. It contains generous contributions from Allen Watson, David Thomson and others.

Copyright remains with the authors. Copies may be distributed unaltered to others in a not-for-profit manner. Where we give the names of organizations, and the prices of books and magazines, we do so to help the reader, and not in the hope of financial gain.

The ideas represented herein are the personal interpretations and understandings of the authors and are not necessarily endorsed by "The Foundation for Inner Peace" (FIP), the copyright holder for "A Course in Miracles" (®). In accordance with the wishes of FIP, we have entitled this document "A Miracle Studies FAQ" rather than "A Course in Miracles FAQ", since it concerns itself with the general topic of studies relating to ACIM.

Contents


INTRODUCTION

First published in 1976, "A Course in Miracles" (ACIM) is a self-study course in spiritual awareness which teaches how to remove the blocks to the awareness of love's presence.

A non-dualistic reinterpretation of Christianity underlies the Course, which states that only Spirit, and not matter, really exists.

Nothing real can be threatened.

Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God. (T-Int.2:2-4)

ACIM consists of three books:

Book Title Pages Contents
---- -------------------- ----- ----
1 Preface 6

How It Came, What It Is,
Text 669 The Course Ideas

2 Workbook for Students 488

365 Daily Lessons,
applying the ideas

3 Manual for Teachers 77

Describes the Role of a Teacher of God

Clarification of Terms 15
----
1255 pages all together

The Workbook, in 365 daily lessons, one for each day of the year, trains the mind in how to think with true perception, that is, with an awareness of love's presence. Based on the Text, it emphasizes experience through application.

The Manual for Teachers gives instruction for anyone who, having adopted the ideas of the Course, wishes to extend them by sharing them with others.

The Foundation for Inner Peace, the copyright holder and publisher, has sold over one million copies of ACIM; most of these have been the combined volume, which contains all five parts in one volume. The five parts are also available in a three volume pack. None of these volumes can be purchased individually. The Workbook can also be purchased on cards.


FORM AND CONTENT OF THE BOOK

Q: How and when was ACIM written?

An inner Voice dictated all three books to Helen Schucman (1909-1981), a clinical psychologist, beginning on October 21st 1965 and ending around September 14th 1972. William Thetford (1919-1988), another clinical psychologist, assisted her with encouragement, typing and friendship.

The Voice dictated to Helen at free moments while she was at work, or on the subway, or at home in her sixteenth floor apartment overlooking New York City. She took down what it said in shorthand in her notebook. The next morning, Helen would meet Bill Thetford in his office and read the dictation back to him as he typed it up.

Bill was not interested in doing the final editing for the first edition; this was done by Helen and Ken Wapnick. Together, the two went over the text, making the punctuation consistent, removing strictly personal material, dividing it into sections, and adding section titles. Ken Wapnick alone edited the recent second edition.

Q: Why is it called "A Course in Miracles"?

The Voice chose the above title, and began the dictation with the words:

"This is a course in miracles, please take notes."

The Course is a teaching which lights *a* pathway for returning to God. It does not claim to be *the* pathway: there are other pathways for whatever place you are at in the world.

Q: What is a miracle?

In traditional usage, a miracle is a natural or supernatural event, in which one sees an act or revelation of God. In Course usage, a miracle is a healing mind event that results in a shift in perception.

For example, a miracle can move one away from being a person who sees faults in others to being a person who sees innocence in others. Or it can shift one away from being a person who sees faults in oneself and feels guilty to being a person who experiences their own innocence. A miracle removes a block to the awareness of love's presence. It is an expression of love, given freely to the recipient.

On page 463 of the Workbook, we find:

"A miracle is a correction. It does not create, nor really change at all. It merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false. It undoes the error, but does not attempt to go beyond perception, nor exceed the function of forgiveness. Thus it stays within time's limits. Yet it paves the way for the return of timelessness and love's awakening, for fear must slip away under the gentle remedy it brings."

Q: What does a miracle worker do?

A miracle worker is someone who allows the Holy Spirit to heal the minds of others through her. A miracle worker's sole responsibility is to accept her own healing. By being wholly without anger, she allows the Holy Spirit to speak through her of the reality of the Child of God.

Q: What is the purpose of A Course in Miracles?

The goal of A Course in Miracles is to help bring us peace of mind. By teaching us how to see past the illusion of the world to the underlying spiritual reality, we can unlearn our mistaken way of thinking and of perceiving the world, based on fear, and replace it with a new way, based on love. By undoing all our guilt, we regain complete peace of mind.

Q: What is the basis for claiming that Jesus is the author of the Course?

The Course is written in its own style. Although it contains a multitude of Biblical allusions, it does not use the language and idioms of the Jesus we encounter in New Testament. It cannot be claimed on stylistic grounds alone that Jesus is the author of the Course. Neither can the rich spiritual content of the Course *prove* that Jesus wrote it.

A number of first-person passages in which the author refers to his crucifixion, resurrection and disciples show that the Voice identified itself as Jesus. Helen was reticent in claiming that the Voice was Jesus, and in the 1976 talk said that it seemed to be Ken's role at talks to state that Jesus was the Voice. It is not necessary to accept this claim in order to benefit from the Course.

Q: Why is the book written in such poetic language?

Helen was a lover of literature, in particular of Shakespeare and iambic pentameter. Much of the Course is in blank verse. The text begins to break in and out of iambic pentameter around chapter 15, The last 6 chapters (Chapters 26-31) are entirely in iambic pentameter.

The Course was said by Helen's inner Voice to have taken the form of its language from both Helen and Bill. Bill was a lover of puns. For example, the second miracle principle, "Miracles as such do not matter" contains a pun on the word 'matter' which would reveal, through a shift in perception, that miracles are mind events and not material events.

At a talk in 1976, Helen Schucman answered a question by saying:

"I do agree with you that it is quite a literary thing and it does require a certain background, but, you know, people with literary backgrounds should have a break too. Let's not be prejudiced against them. There are many things that I have subsequently seen that say exactly the same thing in a much simpler way. I happen to like this stuff from a literary viewpoint. I'm kind of a snob, but there are many of us...You know, salvation shouldn't cut us out simply because we're snobs." (Helen Schucman, at a talk in December 1976, as quoted in Miracles Magazine, Summer 1992)

Q: Where are there feminine references in the Course?

The only feminine reference in the Course appears near the end in the Clarification of Terms:

"...the miracle corrects as gently as a loving mother sings her child to rest." (Manual, p78)

This was added, we are told, by Helen, when people began to point out to her the lack of feminine terms in the Course.


CHRISTIANITY AND THE COURSE

Q: How does the Course differ from traditional Christianity?

ACIM departs from accepted Christian doctrine in the following respects:

  1. God did not create the world. The physical world is the result of the ego's projection of the idea of separation and is illusory. All Christians believe that the world is real, and that God created the world. The Christian Creed begins with the words "I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Maker of heaven *AND EARTH*."

  2. Jesus is not the unique Son of God; in the Course the term "Son of God" includes all created beings. Jesus is not a deity to be worshipped, but an elder brother, differing from the rest of us only in time, in that he was the first to remember his true Identity as the Christ, an Identity shared by us all. In traditional Christianity, Jesus was "God's only begotten son", and the rest of us are "adopted sons." (Paul, Ga 4:5)

  3. The Course's thought system is monistic and not dualistic. That is, there is only one power, God, unopposed by any evil force such as a devil.

  4. In the Course there is no hell except that which is created by our own thoughts of self-punishment. The Course teaches that everyone will eventually remember God and return to Him, and that, in fact, no one has ever left Him except in their own imagination.

  5. The Course directly refutes the idea of substitutionary atonement or "vicarious salvation"; that is, the concept that when Jesus died upon the cross, God was punishing him for the sins of all mankind, so that he suffered death in our place in order for us to receive life. Christianity makes sin real, and sees Jesus as having paid the very real price of our sins. The Course sees sin as unreal, a mistake to be corrected rather than punished, and asserts that salvation has no cost. Atonement is not the price paid for sin, but simply the correction of our error in believing separation from God to be real.

  6. For fundamentalists, the Course is heretical in that it contradicts and corrects the Bible, which they view as inerrant.


THE PUBLICATION AND EDITING OF THE BOOK

Q: What is the Foundation for Inner Peace?

FIP published and holds the copyright to ACIM. It consists of Judy Skutch Whitson, who led the effort to publish the book, Robert Skutch, her former husband, and Kenneth Wapnick, who helped transcribe the Course. Bill Thetford, who typed most of the original course material and died in 1988 was, at his own wish, never a member of FIP, and neither was Helen.

The Foundation's address is: Foundation for Inner Peace, P.O. Box 598, Mill Valley, CA 94942. Tel: (415) 388-2060. Fax: (415) 388-9010.

Q: Where can I buy "A Course in Miracles"?

ACIM is available in most New Age type bookstores and many mainline bookstores. It is carried by most B. Dalton or Waldenbrooks stores.

It may be ordered by mail from FIP or MDC (addresses above). It is available in three formats:

A computer version of the book, costing $80, is published by Centerlink Information Services Inc. 3 Miller Road, Putnam Valley, NY 10579, (Tel: 914 528 7617). It takes up around 5 Megabytes of disk space, and is currently available only for PCs. A MacIntosh version is planned in 1995, and is currently in beta-test.

ACIM is available on audio tape for $140. Read by Kellie Love. Published by the Foundation for Inner Peace. Also available from Miracle Distribution Center and Interfaith Fellowship.

Helen Schucman also took down two shorter works dictated by her inner voice, both published by FIP:

The latter is almost a summary of the Course's principles.

A collection of Helen's poetry, "The Gifts of God", is available for $21.

Q: References to the book sometimes don't give a page number, but a letter followed by three of four numbers. What does this mean?

The second edition numbers all parts of the book. In the Text, numbering is applied to chapters, sections, paragraphs and sentences. For example, T-17.III.7:3 means:

Text, Chapter 17, Section III, paragraph 7, sentence 3

This refers to the sentence "Whom God has joined as one, the ego cannot put asunder" which can be found on page 332 of the Text in the first edition.

References are made in the following four ways:

Often, authors refer to "Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice" with a 'P', and to "The Song of Prayer" with an 'S'.

Q: Why has the FIP copyrighted the title "A Course in Miracles"?

The following is part of a statement from FIP, dated Wednesday, November 16, 1994:

In 1993, following thoughtful legal advice, we applied for and were granted a registration of the trademark, "A Course in Miracles." This was in direct response to the public's confusion between the material entrusted to us by Helen (which is published by the Foundation in its many forms) and the published and public works of OTHERS USING THE SAME TITLE. This momentum of confusion reached a critical mass and it was recommended to us that a trademark on the title, A Course in Miracles(tm), and an appropriate Logo on all our published materials be acquired.

At the same time, to alleviate this level of confusion, many productive conversations with fellow students who teach, speak, and write about the Course helped us recognize that an all-win solution to this problem would be to coin a generic term for the Course which would be used by individuals and groups equally as they pursued their desire to share their own observations about the Course with others. Thus, the name, A Course in Miracles (R) should identify only the original material.

The generic name, "Miracle Studies" seemed a good solution. Even the booksellers agreed that it would be helpful to label a section of a shelf, "Miracle Studies" in order to identify both the Course and the many published books about it. It would be gratifying to find the Course in a bookstore in its own category rather than under such diverse headings as "Self Help", " Religion" or "Metaphysics"! Since a million copies of the Course are now in print, you can well understand how there can be a proliferation of confusion about what exactly is the Course. The latest printing of the Course will have both its new Logo and the registration mark printed on it...

Q: In which languages is the book available?

In addition to English, the book has been translated into German (published in 1994), Portuguese (1994) , Spanish (1993), Italian and French (planned for 1995). Ken Wapnick is currently coordinating the translations into Russian, Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Danish, Czechoslovakian and Polish. Contact FIP for more details. Waiting for authorization are: Swedish, Korean, Hindi, Farci and Norwegian.


OTHER ORGANIZATIONS AND AUTHORS

Q: How can I best learn more about the Course?

This is literally a self-study course: it is learnt by studying oneself in conjunction with a study of the text. Other organizations and authors can merely facilitate this basic method.

The best introduction to the Course is the Preface. Although difficult to read, it contains an excellent synopsis.

There is no "easy" way to learn more about the Course. It is not possible to learn about the Course merely by doing the workbook since its lessons need to be grounded in the theoretical understanding provided by studying the text.

Q: What is "The Foundation for 'A Course in Miracles' (FACIM)" ?

FACIM was founded by Ken and Gloria Wapnick, and is a conference and retreat center. Its address is RR2 Box 71, NY 12776-5905, telephone (607)498-4116. Fax (607) 498-5325. FACIM has been acknowledged by FIP as its official teaching arm. It teaches the 'official' Course theology.

FACIM runs ACIM seminars throughout the year. Tapes of seminars and books are available. The Foundation also sends a free quarterly newsletter, "The Lighthouse", to all people on their mailing list.

Q: Why have FIP and FACIM decided to merge?

Ken Wapnick says that it was always Helen's intention for him to be the official teacher of the Course. This is why she helped him write "Christian Psychology in 'A Course in Miracles'." The recent merger has merely formalized this arrangement.

Q: How can I find an ACIM study group?

You may write to the Miracle Distribution Center, 1141 East Ash, Fullerton, CA 92631, enclosing $1, for a list of study groups in your state. MDC is a non-profit organization. It also publishes a free newsletter with a suggested $12 per annum subscription contribution fee. Their telephone number is 714-738-8380. Their newsletter also contains schedules of ACIM talks.

The Newsletter, "Insight", edited by Tom Gossett, lists Canadian Groups and Activities. It's address is PO Box 391 Ganges, British Columbia, Canada, VOS 1EO.

The number 1-800-791-ACIM, sponsored by a miracle group in California, opened in January 1995, and is trying to create a list of contact people for their area, as well as a list of meetings.

There are over 2,000 study groups in the United States; the average group size is nine, and the average age of group members is 50. Two thirds of attendees are female. Most all groups meet weekly.

Q: What is "On Course" magazine?

This is not a publication of FIP. It is an independent magazine, published 24 times a year, containing articles, book and tape reviews, study group listings, and announcements of Course-related events. The publishers are Interfaith Fellowship (Jon Mundy and Diane Berke, principals); see address below. Free samples sent on request.

Q: Which books written have been written about the Course by means of channeling?

We know of the following four books:

  1. Tom Carpenter, Dialogue on Awakening

  2. Marc Hammer, Journey of Awakening.

  3. Brent Haskell/Jeshua, Journey Beyond Words, a Companion to the Workbook of The Course. This book was channeled in 1990, and published in 1994 by DeVorss Publications, $19.95.

  4. John Mark Camry, (I don't know the title).

Q: Where can I hear Marianne Williamson lecture?

Marianne Williamson, a popularizer of ACIM, lectures regularly New York and Los Angeles. In CA, call 213-243-7643. In NY, call 212-678-0085.


THE INTERNET

Q: Where can I contact other ACIM people on the Internet?

A newsgroup, alt.religion.course-miracle, was formed in July 1995. If you cannot access it, ask your system administrator to add it to the list of newsgroups carried at your site. It may not appear at your site until you actually ask for it.

Due to distribution problems, a newer newsgroup was created called talk.religion.course-miracle. This group gets much wider distribution than the previous group.

There is a very active ACIM mailing list, which had 220 members at the beginning of July 1995. To subscribe or unsubscribe, send the message:

subscribe ACIM

or

unsubscribe ACIM

to listserv@latrobe.edu.au. Any "Subject:" line will do.

Please send these and other requests to the listserv address and NOT the mailing list, whose address is acim@latrobe.edu.au. Mail addressed to the mailing list goes to every list member. Often, people mistakenly send their list server requests to the mailing list.

Inquiries regarding this list should be directed to James Hale.

Allen Watson sends daily comments on the Workbook lessons to a mailing list, and members also dialogue about the lessons. To subscribe, send the message:

subscribe acimwkbk

to listserv@latrobe.edu.au. If you desire Allen's comments only, no dialogue, send a request to him personally at alwatson@sedona.net

There is also a Course in Miracles based BBS with limited access to the Internet. For more information send email to:

info@miranet.org

Perry Sills operates a mailing list. To join it, email him at:

perrys@spiritlead.EBay.Sun.COM

Perry discontinued the daily readings from the workbook at the end of 1994, shortly after he was informed that he was violating copyright rules by mailing out the text of the Workbook lessons.

An ACIM web page which gives a brief account of how the Course came to be, what it is, what its message is, and a list of books and tapes is to be found at the URL:

http://www.unc.edu/~lavender

The Foundation for Inner Peace

The Foundation for Inner Peace has also established a www site.

It lists FIP's publications and some background material as well as some information on the teaching arm "The Foundation for A Course In Miracles"

Q: What are the charter and guidelines for talk.religion.course-miracle, alt.religion.course-miracle and for the Latrobe mailing list?

The proposed charter for the newsgroups was:

talk.religion.course-miracle and alt.religion.course-miracle will be newsgroups for the open discussion of A Course in Miracles, its principles, and the practical application of its teachings. Acceptable discussions will include how A Course in Miracles affects our lives, our experiences in practicing the teachings, discussions and debates concerning our understanding of its teachings, personal insights in the form of poetry and essays, and other forms of relating to the teachings of A Course in Miracles.

This newsgroup will serve as a world-wide networking vehicle for A Course in Miracles and therefore acceptable posts will include notices of ACIM related events, notices of media coverage of A Course in Miracles, notices of publications related to A Course in Miracles, and any other news items concerning A Course in Miracles.

There are no official rules on posting to either group.

When posting, please be considerate of others and try to keep the signal to noise ratio on these groups as high as possible. One way of doing this is by replying to some messages privately instead of publicly. Another way is by consolidating several brief messages into one.

Discussion of issues (political or otherwise) not directly related to the content of A Course In Miracles is discouraged.

Campaigning for worldly causes is inappropriate, since The Course is about healing our minds and not about changing the world we perceive with our senses (the external world), for as we heal ourselves, we heal the world.

Proselytizing is discouraged. Proselytizing is an attempt by the ego to separate people into categories of "us and them". This activity is divisive and counter to the teachings of A Course In Miracles. Controversy is a delaying maneuver which defends us from our true selves. We are here to heal ourselves, and in so doing, we heal the world around us. Herein is where true miracles patiently wait to be acknowledged.

Spiritually, the newsgroup and the mailing list are merely learning devices. We learn what we teach. If we teach hate, then we learn separation; If we teach love, then we learn connection. "Teach only love for that is what you are."

Through our connections, special relationships will be formed which may in time become holy.

The special relationships of the world are destructive, selfish and childishly egocentric. Yet, if given to the Holy Spirit, these relationships can become the holiest things on earth--the miracles that point the way to the return to Heaven. The world uses its special relationships as a final weapon of exclusion and a demonstration of separateness. (Preface, New Text, xii, para. 2)


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Inclusion on this list of related books does not signify approval of any book by the authors of this FAQ, nor does exclusion reflect a judgment against a book. This list is simply provided to help you.

Diane Berke, "Love Always Answers: Walking the Path of 'Miracles'", $11.95 deluxe paper covers, Crossroad, NYC, 1994. Has a good discussion of special relationships. This book contains 18 essays which Diane first published in 'On Course' magazine. It is a sharing from the heart, and is not intended to be an overview of the Course.

Gerald Jampolsky, "Love is Letting Go of Fear", $7.95. Introduces some key Course principles in easy-to-understand language.

Jon Mundy, "Awakening To Your Own Call", $11.95 deluxe paper covers, Crossroad, NYC, 1994. Gives an overview of the Course in a down to earth style.

Jon Mundy and Diane Berke, "A Course in Miracles Directory Resource Guide Catalogue and Scrap Book", Vol 1, No 1, 1992, $7.95. This catalogue contains short articles by several authors, and listings of ACIM centers. Jon plans to update it in 1995.

Robert Perry, "An Introduction to A Course in Miracles", 1987, published by Miracle Distribution Center, 44 pages, $2. Robert has written many other articles about the Course, as well as the book "The Elder Brother: Jesus in ACIM".

Hugh Prather, "I Will Never Leave You", 1995. Hugh Prather considers ACIM to have been his spiritual path since 1980. His most famous book was "Notes to Myself", which was prior to ACIM. "Notes on How to Live in the World...and Still Be Happy", is probably the closest to ACIM, along with "There Is A Place Where You Are Not Alone". He only has one topic with varying themes when he talks and that is Oneness and the Peace of God.

Jerry Sears, "Career Miracles", 1995.

Tara Singh, "How to Learn from 'A Course in Miracles'". Singh, a former student of J. Krishnamurti, gives an "Eastern" flavor to the Course. He emphasizes silent meditation to a much greater degree than the Course itself does, and de-emphasizes the value of gaining an intellectual understanding of the Course.

Robert Skutch, "Journey Without Distance, the Story behind 'A Course in Miracles'". Bob Skutch was the husband of Judy, and this was the first book to give the story of how the Course was written.

Ken Wapnick, "Absence from Felicity, The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of A Course in Miracles", 1991. The large print gives a detailed account of how the Course was written. The small print gives quotes from Helen's notebooks, which contain messages not included in the Course itself.

Ken Wapnick, "A Talk Given On 'A Course in Miracles': An Introduction", $4.00 paperback, The Foundation for 'A Course in Miracles', Roscoe, NY. Gives an terse overview of the Course.

Ken Wapnick, "Forgiveness And Jesus", $16.00, 355 pages, paperback, 1983. Gives a thorough explanation of the Course's teaching on its central theme of forgiveness, and relates the Course to traditional Christian teaching and the Bible.

Gloria and Kenneth Wapnick, "The Most Commonly Asked Questions about 'A Course in Miracles'", 100 pages, $5.00, 1995.

Marianne Williamson, "A Return to Love, Reflections on the Principles of 'A Course in Miracles'", 1989. pub. Harper Collins. This national best seller explains and applies many of the Course concepts to real life situations. Marianne's talks and more recent books are less directly Course related.

A 2 1/4 hour video, "The Story of 'A Course In Miracles'", is published by FIP. The first half narrates Helen's story, with Glynis Johns, as Helen. The second half contains film of Bill Thetford.

These and other Course-related books and tapes can be obtained from either of the two mail-order sources listed below, as well as in many bookstores, particularly New Age or metaphysical bookstores.

Miracle Distribution Center, 1141 E. Ash Avenue, Fullerton, CA 92631. Telephone: 714-738-8380. Credit card orders: 1-800-359-ACIM. FAX orders: 1-714-441-0618. MDC also publishes a newsletter "The Holy Encounter", available on request, every two months

Interfaith Fellowship, 459 Carol Drive, Monroe, NY 10950. Credit card orders: 1-800-275-4809.

: Please do remember that channeling is a somewhat distorted way of conveying information. I myself am channeling a lot for people all the time, and sometimes, when I am tired or not quite alert; my ego inserts egocentric information containing fear, and are thereby coloring the message. —Without me being able to see what is what. So, please do not take this information too literally. It will happen; but the specific dates, and who it will happen to when, may be distorted information. You should take everything you read with a little humor. —It is too serious to be taken too literally; so use your feeling-sense to feel what is right for you!

This document was downloaded by from About A Course In Miracles on the 7th of July 1996. I've added this document to my homepage, due to requests from friends. If you want to find out more about the course, after you've read this document, you can try out these sites:

Brian Cordova & Jim Cunningham (with Beverly Hutchinson-McNeff of MDC)
Brian Cordova & Jim Cunningham
Rainbow Miracle Sharing Center of Dallas
(Fellow students of A Course In Miracles)

 

FACIM Publication:
ACIM

Miracles Center 1 — ACIM®* Home Page

ACIM: What It Says (Expanded)

ACIM

I am Love

How to get it

Norwegian edition

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