What is A Course in Miracles?
A modern spiritual classic, A Course in Miracles is an immensely practical and complete spiritual path that shares basic themes with Christianity, Eastern mysticism, and modern psychology. It provides a roadmap for the journey to God, offering not only radical transformative teachings, but also concrete step-by-step ways to apply those teachings in order to actually meet the goal of the spiritual journey: inner peace and union with God. The purpose of its teachings is to help us “remove the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence” (T-In.1:7) in our lives by letting go of fear, anger, judgement, and guilt, and choosing to forgive. The Course is an educational program in learning how to accept and extend the healed perception that reawakens us to God and our oneness with God.
A Course in Miracles has inspired books by people such as, Marianne Williamson and Kenneth Wapnick, as well as Robert Perry and Allen Watson of the Circle of Atonement. It is also mentioned by many other authors including, David Hawkins, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, and Eckhart Tolle. Gerald Jampolsky wrote about it in Love is Letting Go of Fear, and founded Attitudinal Healing based on its principles.
Since its publication in 1976, the Course has demonstrated a remarkable ability to speak to people’s hearts and transform their minds. As a result, it has sold over a million and a half copies and has been translated into several languages. Tens of thousands have embraced it as their spiritual path, and groups all over the world meet to study it. It has led to the establishment of organizations—such as the Circle of Atonement and Course Oasis—that are dedicated to sharing its teachings.
Where did it come from?
Starting in 1965 and continuing for several years, A Course in Miracles was received via inner dictation and taken down, or “scribed,” by Helen Schucman, a research psychologist at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. Bill Thetford, Director of the Psychology Department at the Medical Center, assisted in the process. (The inner voice identified itself and speaks as Jesus, although believing that is not necessary to reaping the immense benefits offered by the teachings.) The Course arose out of Helen and Bill’s decision to find “another way,” a “better way,” of working together and being in relationship, and it can be said that the whole of the Course is really all about helping us find that way.
What does it teach?
A Course in Miracles conveys a profound message of love, healing, and inner peace through forgiveness, which is its central teaching. It teaches that the way we can heal all pain and experience infinite peace and joy is by forgiving the people in our lives. Forgiveness, according to the Course, is looking past their actions in order to see the truth that lies within them, as within us. It is letting go of our false perceptions and the image of ourselves as victims of others or of the circumstances of the world, and recognizing that who we truly are cannot be hurt. According to the Course, the divine healing of our minds through a change in our perception, and the extension of that healing to others, is what reawakens us to God and our true Self–and forgiveness is the key to that.
How is it a course in “miracles”?
The healing of our minds and the extension of our healed perception to another person is what the Course calls a “miracle.” We accept miracles of healing into our minds and extend them to others through forgiveness, thereby healing their minds. Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. They can result in a healing of the body, but that is only a by-product of the healing of the mind, the source of all healing. A Course in Miracles is a complete course in how to extend miracles of love and forgiveness to others, and thus heal our pain and experience the peace and joy that we all seek. Its ultimate goal is to teach us to be miracle workers!
How do you “take” the Course?
Rather than a course that one takes and completes, A Course in Miracles is a lifelong spiritual path. It is laid out in three volumes: the Text, the Workbook for Students, and the Manual for Teachers. Integral to following this path are:
- Studying the teachings, not merely as an intellectual exercise, but as a means of transforming your perception of others, yourself, and the world. This is the foundation for all that follows. Study is represented by the first volume of the Course, the Text.
- Practicing the ideas you have studied through daily lessons, which include practical exercises, meditation, visualization, prayer, and seeking guidance. Through practice you learn to apply the ideas to everything in your inner and outer world, and thus they become an increasingly deep-rooted and natural part of your thinking and being. The second volume of the Course, the Workbook for Students, represents this aspect.
- Extending and demonstrating to others the miracles of love and forgiveness that you have experienced through your study and practice. As you act in truly helpful and loving ways, the healing of your mind is reinforced and brings healing to others. The Manual for Teachers is the third volume of the Course. It is a handbook designed to answer the questions of those who have received the training offered in the Text and Workbook and now ready to embrace their function of miracle worker, or teacher of God, which it considers to be our true purpose here.
Teach only love, for that is what you are. (T-6.I.13:2)
Who teaches it?
A Course in Miracles says that we all have an Inner Teacher, which it calls the Holy Spirit, the Voice for God. The Holy Spirit is always with us, always ready to guide us along the path, and always ready to correct our faulty perceptions and replace them with true perception. You can choose to study the Course on your own, but the Course itself speaks of studying it through a human teacher, a more experienced student who acts as a mentor or guide, helping you walk the spiritual path of the Course. In this, it is similar to many other spiritual traditions. A major purpose of the Manual for Teachers is to provide instruction in how to fulfill the role of teacher.
What are its benefits?
The Course promises many benefits to those who walk its “path of light” (W-pI.rV.In.5:4). Some of these are:
- Deep peace of mind
- Happiness and joy in your daily life
- Living in love instead of fear, peace instead of conflict, and joy instead of pain
- Harmonious and loving relationships
- The experience of God’s presence
- Release of a sense of loss and deprivation
- Learning to access inner guidance
- Discovery of your life’s purpose
- Becoming truly helpful to others
It promises that, as we progress, we will develop the characteristics of truly good people We will become: trusting, honest, tolerant, gentle, joyful, defenseless, generous, patient, faithful, and open-minded.
It promises that in the end we will experience the pinnacle of the spiritual journey: perfect union with God and all our brothers and sisters, in an eternal Heaven of pure love and everlasting peace.