The story starts in the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Columbia University in New York City with two individuals, Bill Thetford and Helen Schucman.
Bill was Professor
of Medical Psychology at Columbia, and Helen worked as a psychologist in the
department. The time was the mid 1960. Things were pretty tough at the time in
the university, and in the lives of both individuals. Then, long story short,
very short, one day Helen was 'told' to take down dictation, more or less.
The 'Voice' relayed to her
“This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love. For that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.”
The Course opens with:
Nothing real can be threatened,
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.
And so this continued for some eight years until the Course as we know it today was finished. Helen only confided in two people about this unusual experience, her husband and Bill Thetford. Despite his logical and analytical mind Bill encouraged her from the start. He was also instrumental in having the material printed and eventually published. The Course was published in its three constituent parts in the 1970s.
There is no doubt to anyone who’s read the Course that it comes from a source beyond this world, from a higher-logical level than even the most intelligent or inspired works we are familiar with.
It is not specifically Christian in orientation, nor does it call on anyone to adopt any particular form of belief.
The first thing that struck me when I (eventually!) read it was how it didn’t have to make anyone else wrong in order to get its message across, in other words, to make itself right. Most great works will ‘argue against’ something. Indeed this is how academia sets out to establish an argument or position.
The Course is free of all that. It is truly script-free. There are no ‘thou shalts’, or ‘thou shalt nots’ in it. True freedom, true enlightenment is always in your hands.
Some may be put off by the language of the Course, which is quasi Biblical, as I was in the beginning, but in some ways its message is more Buddhist than Christian.
As I said it seems to come from an authority, from an intelligence, way beyond what we know. Whether you accept the authorship as Jesus or not, is, strangely enough, not that important. The Course speaks to everyone, of whatever creed, belief or persuasion.
If it’s possible to summarise the Course, it’s this:
There is only God, and you are part of God and in fact have never left God. But you believe, erroneously, that you are separate from God. Everything else you see is an illusion, merely a dream. You are as God created you, and cannot be otherwise. Therefore what we see as sin and evil is merely our own false perception and not true seeing.
“You are as God created you, and so is every living thing you look upon, regardless of the images you see. What you behold as sickness and as pain, as weakness and as suffering and loss, is but temptation to perceive yourself defenseless and in hell. Yield not to this, and you will see all pain, in every form, wherever it occurs, but disappear as mists before the sun.”
The way out of this illusion is through forgiveness. But the Course does not teach forgiveness in the traditional way. If we really think about it, to forgive someone is to hold power over them. This was what I always found so repugnant about Christianity. Instead the Course teaches,
“Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred. It does not pardon sins and make them real. It sees there was no sin. And in that view are all your sins forgiven. What is sin except a false idea about God’s Son? Forgiveness merely sees its falsity, and therefore lets it go. What then is free to take its place is now the Will of God.”
It also speaks about the ‘special relationship’, which confuses some people. This doesn't mean we shouldn't have friends or lovers, but that if we make some"special" then we risk limiting our love.
The Course puts relationships into two categories, the unholy relationship and the holy one.
An unholy relationship is based on differences where each one thinks the other has what they have not. They remain together until they think that there is nothing left to steal, and then move on.
A holy relationship starts from a different premise. Each one has looked within and seen no lack. Accepting their completion, they would extend it by joining with another, whole as themselves (like two cups overflowing).
While A Course in Miracles is one of the dominant influences in my life, thinking, and writing, don’t assume from that that everything written in the unscripted self is directly or indirectly a teaching from it.
Other factors feed into my musings as well.
I just think it would be doing a disservice to the Course to leave that unsaid, and thereby have it falsely insinuated.
See also A Course in Miracles (where I discuss my personal journey with the Course)
There is a voice that doesn’t use words - listen!
Reality is merely an illusion - albeit a persistent one.