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This is one of the strangest books you’ll ever read.
Not because “A Course in Miracles” is a curriculum for achieving spiritual transformation – which is strange in itself. But because its editors claim that it’s prepared by none other than Jesus Christ himself.
Stay with us and find out if that makes any sense.
Who Should Read “A Course in Miracles”? And Why?
We actually don’t know how to answer this question.
“A Course in Miracles” sharply divides the opinions of its readers, some of which consider it on par with the “New Testament,” while others describe it as its perversion.
However, it is certainly in the vein of few popular authors we know you like. If Eckart Tolle is one of them – and we know he is – then please don’t miss this book either, because he likes it very, very much (see the “Our Critical Review” section below).
After all, according to the first sentence of “A Course in Miracles,” “it is a required course.”
About Helen Schucman (…We Guess?)
Helen Cohn Schucman – born Helen Dora Cohn – was an American clinical and research psychologist.
In 1921, she had her first spiritual experience after visiting Lourdes, France; the next year she became a Baptist.
She received a B.A. from New York University in 1935, and, many years later, she returned there to complete her education which ended in 1957 when she obtained a Ph. D. Afterward, she worked as an Associate Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University.
Schucman, however, is most famous for “A Course in Miracles,” a strange little book she claims not to have written herself but merely scribed through a process of inner dictation. The notes were later transcribed by William Thetford, a tenured professor at Columbia Schucman first met in 1958.
The voice dictating the book to Schucman was, in her own words, “the voice of Jesus of Nazareth.”
So, we’re not exactly sure if we chose the right image here.
But we also don’t know how Jesus looked like, so…
“A Course in Miracles PDF Summary”
Imagine it’s October 21, 1965, and you’re Helen Cohn Schucman.
You’ve had recurring and unusually vivid dream sequences for the past four months, out of which you are capable of discerning a strange voice and a character resembling Jesus Christ.
And then, while you’re sitting alone (and awake) at home in the cold October night, that character suddenly speaks in your head with the very familiar voice of your dreams:
This is a course in miracles. Please take notes.
You will, won’t you?
And you’ll invite a colleague of yours to help you transcribe them all since you’re still not sure whether you’re going insane or you’ve just been visited by God with a message of utmost importance.
In the case of Shucman, this went on for about seven years.
And the result of it?
A 1000-page-long book titled, “A Course in Miracles,” a unique curriculum and a curiosity of a once-in-a-lifetime type.
If you want to learn more, please spend a few minutes with Marianne Williamson who basically made “A Course in Miracles” (or ACIM, for short) a worldwide bestselling phenomenon back in 1992, when she talked about it on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, a full decade and a half after ACIM was published:
So, what is the ACIM about?
The “Introduction” to the book sums it up quite neatly:
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.
This course can, therefore, be summed up very simply in this way:
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.
The book itself is divided into three section.
#1. The Textbook
This part presents the underlying philosophy of ACIM which, although it may seem complicated at first, is actually quite simple.
Basically, everything is an illusion.
The only exception is God – who is perfect and unchangeable and who exists in eternity, outside the confines of space and time.
Now, God has dreamt the unity of our whole existence in a dream which has already ended.
There’s no time in God’s world, so it’s difficult to discern between a beginning and an end. Also, there’s no space, so the life God has dreamt away – our life, our existence – is actually one whole.
However, there is both time and space in our world, which results in our distorted perception. In other words, we think that God’s dream still occurs in our reality and that we still perceive it.
And also, that we are many, even though we are God’s collective sonship.
In a nutshell, to quote Edgar Allan Poe, “all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream” – starting with reality and ending with our very existence.
There is no reality, no individuals.
Just one falsely lasting dream of God.
However, we can’t know that because we exist in the dream.
So, basically, ACIM is trying to make us lucid dreamers.
But there’s a problem: the illusion of the dream is fueled by the things which surround us: separation, judgment, attack.
And we are stuck in an SGF cycle, that is the Sin-Guilt-Fear loop:
Sinning: We rejected God and, thus, inadvertently threw ourselves within the time-space continuum (the Big Bang, anyone?)
Guilt: We are separated from eternity through the burden of our guilt.
Fear: We constantly fear God’s wrath and separate from the collectiveness even further.
So, as a consequence, we feel that we have nothing to live for but ourselves.
And that’s how our ego spawns into existence, which, as we have told you before, is our most serious enemy.
What we need to do in order to become one with God once again is to renounce the ego and make the fundamental shift from “condemnation-out-of-fear” (mindlessness) to “forgiveness-out-of-love” (mindfulness).
The “Workbook” is the more practical part of ACIM.
It is a collection of 365 lessons – obviously, one for each day of the year – which can help you make the fundamental shift described above.
And that shift is actually the miracle included in the title of the Course.
The core idea of the “Workbook” is, once again, very simple:
To move beyond the stage of “condemnation-out-of-fear,” it is necessary to start forgiving all living things, the way Coleridge’s Sailor does in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”
And what is there waiting at the end?
a beginning, not an end. Your Friend goes with you. You are not alone. No one who calls on Him can call in vain. Whatever troubles you, be certain that He has the answer, and will gladly give it to you, if you simply turn to Him and ask it of Him. He will not withhold all answers that you need for anything that seems to trouble you. He knows the way to solve all problems, and resolve all doubts. His certainty is yours. You need but ask it of Him, and it will be given you. You are as certain of arriving home as is the pathway of the sun laid down before it rises, after it has set, and in the half-lit hours in between. Indeed, your pathway is more certain still. For it can not be possible to change the course of those whom God has called to Him. Therefore obey your will, and follow Him Whom you accepted as your voice, to speak of what you really want and really need. His is the Voice for God and also yours. And thus He speaks of freedom and of truth. No more specific lessons are assigned, for there is no more need of them.
You do not walk alone” at this point, claims the ACIM. “God’s angels hover near and all about. His Love surrounds you, and of this be sure; that I will never leave you comfortless.
#3. Manual for Teachers
Modeled after the catechisms of yore, the third part of ACIM is basically its Q&A whose aim is to motivate the enlightened reader to share the word of ACIM forward.
Which is basically what any enlightened reader will do once he hears the voice of the Holy Spirit.
We didn’t get that part.
But it is, nevertheless, something supernatural.
Key Lessons from “A Course in Miracles”
1. Everything Is an Illusion
3. Burst Through the Illusion by Understanding the SGF Cycle
4. The Miracle: Forgivness Is the Way Out
Everything Is an Illusion
The only two things which actually exist are God and his dream.
The former exists in eternity, outside time and space, and his dream is both temporal and spatial.
It is within this dream that we, God’s collective sonship, are enslaved.
However, we have dreamily separated from the One, and we’ve become individuals – which we’re actually not in reality.
The goal of ACIM is to teach us how to transcend the dream.
Burst Through the Illusion by Understanding the SGF Cycle
The problem is that we’re stuck in a sin-guilt-fear cycle, which makes it all but impossible for us to exit the dream.
Once we sinned against God, time and space started (the Big Bang), and within time and space, we started feeling things such as guilt for our actions and fear of God’s wrath.
As a consequence, we extend the length of God’s dream and are separate from Him even more profoundly.
The Miracle: Forgiveness Is the Way Out
What we need now is a fundamental mind shift which will take us from the state of “condemnation-out-of-fear”(mindlessness) to the state of “forgiveness-out-of-love.”
And the name of the sought-after state is a giveaway:
We reach it by forgiving everything alive lovingly, which is basically nothing more but opting to remember only the good stuff.
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“A Course in Miracles Quotes”
Be not afraid. We only start again an ancient journey long ago begun that but seems new. We have begun again upon a road we traveled on before and lost our way a little while. And now we try again. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
According to American theologian Robert M. Price, “to compare the patronizing pedantry of ‘A Course in Miracles’ with any line or two from the New Testament gospels is like comparing a washing machine repair manual with Shakespeare.”
Uh – that’s a bit harsh there, Robbie!
But, he’s not the only one to think something of this sort: “A Course in Miracles” has been variously described as “New Age psychobabble” and “a Satanic seduction” by many others.
However, a second group claims that it’s nothing less than “The New Age Bible.”
And that’s what a few influential thinkers believe as well, among them none other than Eckhart Tolle, according to whom “A Course in Miracles” is an “extraordinary book.”
In his opinion, “only a small percentage of channeled writings go deeply,” but he feels that “ACIM is one of those.”
And he goes on: “some non-dual students may be put off by its old-fashioned Christian terminology, but if you can look beyond it and see what it points to – which has nothing to do with gender or Christianity – you will discover that it has many passages of great spiritual power and beauty.”
We don’t know if we agree.
But it’s difficult to disagree either.