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This course is 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 cannot 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.1
With these words, A Course in Miracles concludes its prescribed curriculum of 365 daily lessons, and it is with these words, too, that we begin our study.
A Course in Miracles (often called just “the Course”) is a self-study course for retraining the mind that is spiritual, rather than religious, in its perspective. Although it uses Christian terminology, it is ecumenical in its approach, and its underlying ontology is reminiscent of ancient refrains, echoing the world’s most hallowed traditions.
The Course is pragmatic in its method, and its aim is a peaceful mind: “Knowledge is not the motivation for learning this course. Peace is.”2 Nevertheless, the Course frequently emphasizes its simplicity.3
The story of the Course began when, in the midst of an environment of intense competition and negative attitudes, Columbia University clinical psychologist Dr. William T. Thetford decided he had had enough and declared to his colleague, Dr. Helen Schucman, “There must be a better way, and I’m determined to find it.” Dr. Schucman vowed to help him.
What ensued was a dramatic progression of waking dreams for Schucman, which culminated in October 1965 with her experience of a voice which spoke clearly in her mind, saying “This is a course in miracles. Please take notes.”
With Thetford’s support and assistance in transcribing her shorthand notes, Schucman took down some 1,500 typewritten pages of A Course in Miracles over a period of seven years.
Schucman did not claim to be the author of the material herself. As she often explained, she heard a kind of inner dictation and she felt compelled to write it down, even though at times she disagreed with the content and resisted the process. The voice which spoke through Helen clearly identifies himself as Jesus. Nonetheless, one need not be Christian nor accept Christianity’s traditional doctrines to benefit from the teachings of the Course. Indeed, traditional Christians will at first find many of the pronouncements contained in this work to be startling and perhaps unbelievable. Persistence and open-mindedness will nevertheless be rewarded.
The dictation of A Course in Miracles was completed in September 1972 and resulted in three volumes—the Text, the Workbook for Students, and the Manual for Teachers. As the development of the material progressed, Schucman and Thetford faced the formidable task of organizing the original typescript (often called the “Urtext”) into what would become A Course in Miracles. They divided the Text into chapters and sections and gave titles to each, and they removed a great deal of material from the early chapters, material they believed was meant for them personally, not for the Course. The edition that resulted from those efforts is the book you hold in your hands.
The Text volume of the Original Edition has undergone an evolutionary process since the 1972 manuscript of A Course in Miracles was discovered and released on the internet in late 1999. In early 2000 Course in Miracles Society (CIMS) printed the 1972 manuscript of the Text as Jesus’ Course in Miracles. Distribution of that book was suspended during the continuance of the copyright litigation, which was concluded in early 2006.
In November 2006 the initial printing of the Original Edition (referred to as the 2006 Printing), containing the Workbook for Students and Manual for Teachers in addition to the Text, was released. The 2006 Printing corrected numerous typographic errors, misspellings, and aberrant punctuation that had appeared in the original 1972 manuscript and which were reproduced in the Jesus’ Course in Miracles edition.
There was a second printing in 2009 (referred to as the 2009 Printing) which continued the process of correcting errors in the manuscript. In this undertaking the editors for the first time looked back to earlier manuscripts and restored material that appeared to have been inadvertently or mistakenly omitted in retyping. This process of restoration has continued through the 2012, 2017, and 2018 Printings, adhering always to the fundamental directive, “fidelity to Source.” Among the improvements, beginning in the 2012 Printing, was the updating of paragraph numbering in Chapters 2, 9, 26, and 27, necessitated mainly by the restoration of material from an earlier manuscript. Paragraph renumbering is described in footnotes where pertinent.
In its continuing evolution, this Original Edition faithfully reproduces the original transcript of the book that was the result of the collaboration between Schucman and Thetford, whom many believe were involved with each other in the “holy relationship” described in Chapters 17 through 22 of the Text. This edition preserves the original language of the dictation of those chapters, which were addressed to the two collaborators as they worked together to produce the manuscript. Later editing of the manuscript changed the focus of these important chapters and addresses them to a solitary reader, removing the mutuality that is explicit in the original dictation.
It seems clear that this Original Edition is what Schucman and Thetford originally intended to be A Course in Miracles. However, in 1973 Ken Wapnick, who had joined their small circle and received a copy of the 1972 manuscript, expressed his belief that additional editing was needed. Thetford withdrew from further detailed editing work, and Schucman and Wapnick resumed the editing process. Along with changes in paragraphing, punctuation, capitalization, and section titles, there was a great deal of line-by-line editing. In addition, about one-fifth of the material in the first five chapters was removed. Finally, a new section, the Clarification of Terms, was added. The resulting edition, published in 1975 by the Foundation for Inner Peace, became the Course with which the world would become familiar.
While we honor that edition of the Course, we believe that the additional editing resulted both in shifts of meaning and a change in the over-all tone of the work. When encountering Schucman and Thetford’s Original Edition, students often find fresh clarity as they read its wording or new understanding as they encounter passages that were not included in the later 1975 edition. In the case of editing, it seems to us that the “less-is-best” rule applies—the less tampering with the eloquent and carefully worded dictation that Schucman received, the better.
In this Original Edition, we have taken great care in dealing with the editorial issues presented by the original typed manuscript. Our focus has been upon reproducing as nearly as possible the content as it was originally given to Schucman and Thetford. It is to be noted, however, that there are a few occasions where we encountered material from the original dictation that appears to have been inadvertently or mistakenly dropped in the early retyping. In those instances, we have re-inserted the missing lines, noting our addition by placing the inserted material in square brackets. Otherwise, the only changes that have been made to the original manuscript of the Course as completed by Schucman and Thetford have been to correct obvious typographic errors and misspellings, to standardize punctuation and capitalization, and to format the material for print publication. Apart from the simple section and paragraph numbering which we include for ease of reference and navigation, nothing has been added to or omitted from the work.
We would be remiss were we to fail to acknowledge the selfless support provided to the Course in Miracles Society by its members and others. From its earliest days, the work of the Society has been enabled by tireless contributions of labor and generous financial support provided by many individuals whose only compensation has been the satisfaction of fostering the circulation of this sacred writing in the world. To those supporters and all of our members, we extend a sincere “thank you.” We are most grateful.
~Course in Miracles Society
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