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“It is the Word of God, to be kept holy forever…”
“This time there will be no failure, no loss of truth, no misunderstanding and no misrepresentation I will direct its growth as it reaches from the paper on which it was written into the hearts for which it was intended.”
(Special Message 12/31/75)
As preface to this edition of A Course In Miracles, we acknowledge our realization of the truth of the words spoken to us through Helen Schucman as those of Jesus, “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
To you and all our brothers, we offer this edition of his A Course In Miracles.
The task of editing, deciding which material would be excluded from the original dictation and that to be included in the published version, was entrusted to William Thetford. The edit of the Text used herein is Bill’s, as he was directed by Jesus. The Workbook and Manual are as close to the un-edited generation of “scribed” dictation from Jesus to Helen as is available to us at this time.
Similarly, the CAPITALIZATION and hyphenation of some of the words, along with the use of parenthesis and punctuation, remain consistent with the style of the “scribes” used in the source material.
We recognize and honor the original intent of our Savior Jesus to be known as author with Helen as a “just” scribe whose name is not to be associated with authorship, but with the willingness to hear his voice and take notes.
“Do not attempt to break God’s copyright, because His Authorship alone can copy right.” ~UR Text, 12/11/65
May this be to you, as it is NOW for us, the opening of your mind and heart to the Love of God. It is with His love and our gratitude that we offer thanks to all who have played their part in making this edition of A Course In Miracles available.
And now our thanks to all. May you realize the Peace of God as eternally yours, abiding in you now, and in this realization may you recognize the Kingdom of Heaven wherein you have always been at home.
God bless us everyone!
In the months from September to the beginning of December 1975, reportedly Helen scribed the section of A Course In Miracles which has been known up till now as the Clarification of Terms and was considered as an “appendix.”
For this presentation of Jesus’ masterpiece, it has been placed as PREFACE and is simply titled THE USE OF TERMS which is consistent with the original heading of the dictation and retains the style of its scribing.
If you find our placement of THE USE OF TERMS inappropriate we ask your forgiveness, yet having been guided in this, we pray that your exposure to and application of this “required course” allows an understanding for this seeming liberty.
You will read in the section entitled The Use Of Terms a reference declaring that “SOUL” had been excluded due to the controversial nature of the term itself. In this edition of A Course In Miracles you will notice restoration of the “SOUL” to the prominent position it originally occupied within the lexicon of understanding the Course was initially given to Helen and Bill to aid them by Jesus Himself. As you read this masterpiece, you will come to understand that the SOUL is not controversial to Jesus at all, it is actually infinitely abundant, eternally vital and wholly complete. The seeming controversy caused by the use of the term “SOUL” could only be within a mind divided against itself unaware of its REALITY.
This is not a course in theoretical philosophy, nor is it concerned with precise terminology in connection with origins. It is concerned only with Atonement, or the correction of perception. The means of the Atonement is forgiveness. The structure of “individual consciousness” is essentially irrelevant, because it is a concept representing the “original error” or the “original sin.”To study the error itself does not lead to correction, if you are indeed to succeed in overlooking the error. And it is just this process of overlooking at which the course aims.
All terms are potentially controversial, and those who seek controversy will find it. Yet those who seek clarification will find it as well. They must, however, be willing to overlook controversy, recognizing that it is a defense against truth in the form of a delaying maneuver. Theological considerations as such are necessarily controversial, since they depend on belief and can therefore be accepted or rejected. A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary. It is this experience toward which the course is directed. Here alone consistency becomes possible, because here alone uncertainty ends.
This course remains within the ego framework, where it is needed. It is not concerned with what is beyond all error because it is planned only to set the direction towards it. Therefore it uses words, which are symbolic, and cannot express what lies beyond symbols. It is always the ego that questions because it is only the ego that doubts. The course merely gives another Answer, once a question has been raised. However, this Answer does not attempt to resort to inventiveness or ingenuity. These are attributes of the ego. The course is simple. It has one function and one goal. Only in that does it remain wholly consistent because only that can be consistent.
The ego will demand many answers this course does not give. It does not recognize as questions the mere form of a question to which an answer is impossible. The ego may ask,“How did the impossible occur?”,“to what did the impossible happen?”, and may ask in many forms. Yet there is no answer; only an experience. Seek only this, and do not let theology delay you.
You will notice that the emphasis on structural issues in the course is brief and early. Afterwards and soon it drops away to make way for the central teaching. Since you have asked for clarification, however, these are some of the terms that are used:
The term “mind” is used to represent the activating agent of spirit, supplying its creative energy. When the term is capitalized it refers to God or Christ (i. e. the Mind of God or the Mind of Christ).
Spirit is the Thought of God Which He created like Himself. The unified Spirit is God’s one Son, or Christ. In this world, because the mind is split, the Sons of God appear to be separate. Nor do their minds seem to be joined. In this illusory state the concept of an “individual mind” seems to be meaningful. It is therefore described in the course as if it has two parts; spirit and ego. Spirit is the part that is still in contact with God through the Holy Spirit, Who abides in this part but sees the other part as well. The term “soul” is not used except in direct Biblical quotations because of its highly controversial nature. It would, however, be an equivalent of “spirit,” with the understanding that being of God it is eternal and was never born.
The other part of the mind is entirely illusory and makes only illusions. Spirit retains the potential for creating, but its Will which is God’s, seems to be imprisoned while the mind is not unified. Creation continues unabated because that is the Will of God. This Will is always unified, and therefore has no meaning in this world. It has no opposite and no degrees.
The mind can be right or wrong, depending on the voice to which it listens.“Right-mindedness” listens to the Holy Spirit, forgives the world, and through Christ’s vision sees the real world in its place. This is the final vision, the last perception, the condition in which God takes the final step Himself. Here time and illusions end together. “Wrong-mindedness” listens to the ego and makes illusions; perceiving sin and justifying anger, and seeing guilt, disease and death as real. Both this world and the real world are illusions, because right-mindedness merely overlooks, or forgives what never happened. Therefore it is not the “One-mindedness” of the Christ Mind,Whose Will is one with God’s.
In this world the only remaining freedom is the freedom of choice; always between two choices or two voices. Will is not involved in perception at any level and has nothing to do with choice. Consciousness is the receptive mechanism, receiving messages from above or below; from the Holy Spirit or the ego. Consciousness has levels and awareness can shift quite dramatically, but it cannot transcend the perceptual realm. At its highest it becomes aware of the real world, and can be trained to do so increasingly. Yet the very fact that it has levels and can be trained demonstrates that consciousness cannot reach knowledge.
Illusions will not last. Their death is sure, and this alone is certain in their world. It is the ego’s world because of this. What is the ego? But a dream of what you really are. A thought you are apart from your Creator and a wish to be what He created not. It is a thing of madness, not reality at all. A name for namelessness is all it is. A symbol of impossibility; a choice for options that do not exist. We call it that to help us understand that it is nothing but an ancient thought that what is made has immortality. But what could come of this except a dream which like all dreams could only die?
What is the ego? Nothingness, but in a form that seems like something. In a world of form the ego cannot be denied, for it alone seems real. How could God’s Son as He created him abide in form or in a world of form? Who asks you to define the ego and explain how it arose can be but he who thinks it real, and seeks by definition to ensure that its illusive nature is concealed behind the words that seem to make it so. There is no definition for a lie that serves to make it true. Nor can there be a truth that lies conceal effectively.
The ego’s unreality is not denied by words nor is its meaning clear because its nature seems to have a form. Who can define the undefinable? And yet there is an answer even here. We cannot really make a definition for what the ego is, but we can say what it is not. And this is shown to us with perfect clarity. It is from this that we deduce all that the ego is. Look at its opposite and you can see the only answer that is meaningful.
The ego’s opposite in every way, – in origin, effect and consequence – we call a miracle. And here we find all that is not the ego in the world. Here is the ego’s opposite and here alone we look on what the ego was. For here we see all that it seemed to do, and cause and its effects must still be one. Where there was darkness now we see the light. What was the ego? What the darkness was. Where was the ego? Where the darkness was.
What is it now and where can it be found? Nothing and nowhere. Now the light has come. Its opposite has gone without a trace. Where evil was there now is holiness. What is the ego? What the evil was. Where is the ego? In an evil dream that but seemed real while you were dreaming it. Where there was crucifixion stands God’s Son. What is the ego? Who has need to ask? Where is the ego? Who has need to seek for an illusion now the dreams are gone?
What is a miracle? A dream as well. But look at all the aspects of this dream, and you will never question any more. Look at the kindly world you see stretch forth before you as you walk in gentleness. Look at the helpers all along the way you travel, happy in the hope of Heaven and the certainty of peace. And look an instant, too, on what you left behind at last and finally passed by. This was the ego – all the cruel hate, the need for vengeance and the cries of pain, the fear of dying and the urge to kill, the brotherless illusion and the self that seemed alone in all the universe.
This terrible mistake about yourself the miracle corrects as gently as a loving mother sings her child to rest. Is not a song like this what you would hear? Would it not answer all you thought to ask, and even make the question meaningless? Your questions have no answer, being made to still God’s Voice,Which asks of everyone one question only: “Are you ready yet to help Me save the world?” Ask this instead of what the ego is, and you will see a sudden brightness cover up the world the ego made. No miracle is now withheld from anyone. The world is saved from what you thought it was. And what it is, is wholly uncondemned and wholly pure.
The miracle forgives; the ego damns. Neither need be defined except by this. Yet could a definition be more sure, or more in line with what salvation asks? Problem and answer lie together here, and having met at last the choice is clear. Who chooses hell when it is recognized? And who would not go on a little while when it is given him to understand the way is short and Heaven is his goal?
Forgiveness is for God and toward God but not of Him. It is impossible to think of anything He created that could need forgiveness. Forgiveness, then, is an illusion, but because of its purpose, which is the Holy Spirit’s, it has one difference. Unlike all other illusions, it leads away from error and not towards it. Forgiveness might be called a kind of happy fiction; a way in which the unknowing can bridge the gap between their perception and the truth. They cannot go directly from perception to knowledge because they do not think it is their will to do so. This makes God appear to be an enemy instead of what He really is. And it is just this insane perception that makes them unwilling merely to rise up and to return to Him in peace.
And so they need an illusion of Help because they are helpless; a Thought of peace because they are in conflict. God knows what His Son needs before he asks. He is not at all concerned with form, but having given the content it is His Will that it be understood. And that suffices. The form adapts itself to need; the content is unchanging, as eternal as its Creator.
The Face of Christ has to be seen before the memory of God can return. The reason is obvious. Seeing the Face of Christ is perception. No one can look on knowledge. But the Face of Christ is the great symbol of forgiveness. It is salvation. It is the symbol of the real world. Whoever looks on this no longer sees the world. He is as near to Heaven as possible outside the gate. Yet from this gate it is no more than just a step inside. It is the final step. And this we leave to God. It is a symbol, too, but as the symbol of His Will alone it cannot be divided. And so the Unity that it reflects becomes His Will. It is the only thing still in the world in part, and yet the bridge to Heaven.
God’s Will is all there is. We can but go from nothingness to everything; from hell to Heaven. Is this a journey? No, not in truth, for truth goes nowhere. But illusions shift from place to place; from time to time. The final step is also but a shift. As a perception it is partly unreal. And yet this part will vanish. What remains is peace eternal and the Will of God. There are no wishes now, for wishes change. Even the wished-for can become unwelcome. That must be so, because the ego cannot be at peace. But Will is constant, as the gift of God. And what He gives is always like Himself.
This is the purpose of the Face of Christ. It is the gift of God to save His Son. But look on this and you have been forgiven. How lovely does the world become in just that single instant when you see the truth about yourself reflected there. Now you are sinless and behold your sinlessness. Now you are holy and perceive it so. And now the mind returns to its Creator; the joining of the Father and the Son; the Unity of unities that stands behind all joining but still beyond them all. God is not seen but only understood. His Son is not attacked but recognized.
The world you see is an illusion of a world. God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself. Yet there is nothing in the world you see that will endure forever. Some things will last in time a little while longer than others. But the time will come when all things visible will have an end. The body’s eyes are therefore not the means by which the real world can be seen, for the illusions that they look upon must lead to more illusions (of reality). And so they do. For everything they see not only will not last but lends itself to thoughts of sin and guilt. While everything that God created is forever without sin and therefore is forever without guilt.
Knowledge is not the remedy for false perception since, being another level, they can never meet. The one correction possible for false perception must be true perception. It will not endure. But for the time it lasts, it comes to heal. For true perception is a remedy with many names. Forgiveness, salvation, Atonement, true perception, all are one. They are as one beginning with the end to lead to Oneness far beyond themselves. True perception is the means by which the world is saved from sin, for sin does not exist. And it is this that true perception sees.
The world stands like a block before Christ’s face. But true perception looks on it as nothing more than just a fragile veil, so easily dispelled that it can last no longer than an instant. It is seen at last for only what it is. And now it cannot fail to disappear, for now there is an empty place made clean and ready. Where destruction was perceived the face of Christ appears, and in that instant is the world forgot, with time forever ended as the world spins into nothingness from where it came.
A world forgiven cannot last. It was the home of bodies. But forgiveness looks past bodies. This is its holiness; this is how it heals. The world of bodies is the world of sin, for only if there is a body is sin possible. From sin comes guilt as surely as forgiveness takes all guilt away. And once all guilt is gone what more remains to keep a separated world in place? For place has gone as well along with time. Only the body makes the world seem real, for being separate it could not remain where separation is impossible. Forgiveness proves it is impossible because it sees it not. And what you then will overlook will not be understandable to you, just as its opposite was once your certainty; just as its presence once had been your certainty.
This is the shift that true perception brings: what was projected out is seen within and there forgiveness lets it disappear. For there the altar to the Son is set, and there his Father is remembered. Here are all illusions brought to truth and laid upon the altar. What is seen outside must lie beyond forgiveness, for it seems to be forever sinful. Where is hope while sin is seen as outside? What remedy can guilt expect? But seen within your mind, guilt and forgiveness for an instant lie together, side by side, upon one altar. There at last are sickness and its single remedy joined in one healing brightness. God has come to claim His Own. Forgiveness is complete.
And now God’s knowledge, changeless, certain, pure and wholly understandable, enters its Kingdom. Gone is perception, false and true alike. Gone is forgiveness, for its task is done. And gone are bodies in the blazing light upon the altar to the Son of God. God knows it is His Own as it is his. And here They join, for here the face of Christ has shone away time’s final instant, and now is the last perception of the world without a purpose and without a cause. For where God’s memory has come at last there is no journey, no belief in sin, no walls, no bodies, and the grim appeal of guilt and death is there snuffed out forever.
O my brothers, if you only knew the peace that will envelop you and hold you safe and pure and lovely in the Mind of God, you could but rush to meet Him where His altar is. Hallowed your Name and His, for they are joined here in this holy place. Here He leans down to lift you back to Him, out of illusions into holiness; out of the world and into eternity; out of all fear and given back to Love.
There is no need for help to enter Heaven, for you never left. But there is need for help beyond yourself as you (are) circumscribed by false beliefs of your Identity,Which God alone established in reality. Helpers are given you in many forms, although upon the altar They are one. Beyond each one, there is a Thought of God, and this will never change. But they have names which differ for a time, for time needs symbols, being itself unreal. Their names are legion, but we will not go beyond the names the course itself employs. God does not help because He knows no need. But He creates all Helpers of His Son while he believes his fantasies are true. Thank God for them, for they will lead you home.
The Name of Jesus is the name of one who was a man, but saw the face of Christ in all his brothers and remembered God. So he became identified with Christ, a man no longer but at one with God. The man was an illusion, for he seemed to be a separate being, walking by himself, within a body that appeared to hold his self from Self, as all illusions do. Yet who can save unless he sees illusions, and then identifies them as what they are? Jesus remains a Savior because he saw the false without accepting it as true. And Christ needed his form that He might appear to men and save them from their own illusions.
In his complete identification with the Christ, the perfect Son of God, His one creation and His happiness, forever like Himself and one with Him — Jesus became what all of us must be. He led the way for us to follow him. He leads us back to God because he saw the road before him, and he followed it. He made a clean distinction, still obscure to us, between the false and true. He offered us all a final demonstration it is impossible to kill God’s Son; nor can his life in any way be changed by sin and evil, malice, fear or death. And therefore all your sins have been forgiven you because they carried no effects at all. And so they were but dreams. Arise with him who showed you this because you owe him this who shared your dreams that they might be dispelled. And shares them still to be at one with you.
Is he the Christ? O yes, along with you. His little life on earth was not enough to teach the mighty lesson that he learned for all of us. He will remain with you to lead you from the hell you made to God. And when you join your will with his your sight will be his vision for the eyes of Christ are shared. Walking with him is just as natural as walking with a brother whom you knew since you were born, for such indeed he is. Some bitter idols have been made of him who would be only brother to the world. Forgive him your illusions and behold how dear a brother he would be to you. For he will set your mind at rest at last and carry it with you unto your God.
Is he God’s only Helper? No indeed. For Christ takes many forms with different names until their oneness can be recognized. But Jesus is for you the bearer of Christ’s single message of the Love of God. You need no other. It is possible to read his words and benefit from them without accepting him into your life. Yet he would help you yet a little more if you will share your pains and joys with him, and leave them both to find the peace of God. Yet still it is his lesson most of all that he would have you learn, and it is this:
“There is no death because the Son of God is like his Father. Nothing you can do can change Eternal Love. Forget your dreams of sin and guilt, and come with me instead to share the resurrection of God’s Son. And bring with you all those whom He has sent to you to care for as I care for you.”
Jesus is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, Whom he called down upon the earth after he ascended into Heaven, or became completely identified with the Christ, the Son of God as He created him. The Holy Spirit, being a creation of the One Creator, creating with him and in His likeness or Spirit, is eternal and has never changed. He was “called down upon the earth” in the sense that it was now possible to accept Him and to hear His Voice. His is the Voice for God, and has therefore taken form. This form is not his reality Which God alone knows along with Christ, His real Son,Who is part of Him.
The Holy Spirit is described throughout the course as giving us the answer to the separation and bringing the plan of the Atonement to us, establishing our particular part in it, and showing us exactly what it is. He has established Jesus as the leader in carrying out this plan, since he was the first to complete his own part perfectly. All power in Heaven and earth is therefore given him, and he will share it with you when you have completed yours. The Atonement principle was given to the Holy Spirit long before Jesus set it in motion.
The Holy Spirit is described as the remaining communication link between God and His separated sons. In order to fulfill this special function the Holy Spirit has assumed a dual function; He knows because He is part of God. He perceives because He was sent to save humanity. He is the great correction principle; the bringer of true perception, the inherent power of the vision of Christ. He is the light in which the forgiven world is perceived; in which the face of Christ alone is seen. He never forgets the Creator or His Creation. He never forgets the Son of God. He never forgets you. And He brings the Love of your Father to you in an eternal shining that will never be obliterated because God has put it there.
The Holy Spirit abides in the part of your mind that is part of the Christ Mind. He represents your Self and your Creator, Who are One. He speaks for God and also for you, being joined with both. And therefore it is He Who proves them one. He seems to be a Voice, for in that form He speaks God’s Word to you. He seems to be a Guide through a far country, for you need that form of help. He seems to be whatever meets the needs you think you have. But He is not deceived when you perceive your self entrapped in needs you do not have. It is from these He would deliver you. It is from these that He would make you safe.
You are His manifestation in this world. Your Brother calls to you to be His Voice along with him. Alone he cannot be the Helper of God’s Son, for he alone is functionless. But joined with you he is the shining savior of the world, whose part in its redemption you have made complete. He offers thanks to you as well as him, for you arose with him when he began to save the world. And you will be with him when time is over, and no trace remains of dreams of spite in which you dance to death’s thin melody. For in its place the hymn to God is heard a little while. And then the voice is gone, no longer to take form but to return to the eternal formlessness of God.