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A Course in Miracles is a set of three books, sold only as a set. The volumes may be separate but are usually bound into a single book. The Course was first published in 1976. The three volumes are titled Text, Workbook for Students, and Manual for Teachers.
The Course as a whole sets forth a curriculum for mind training. It emphasizes application rather than theory. Its preface states, "Although Christian in statement, the Course deals with universal spiritual themes." It presents a carefully planned spiritual training program, intended to help us remember our true Identity as God's perfect creation, through the means of forgiveness practiced in our daily relationships. Some have called it a course in spiritual psychology, since the Course makes free use of many psychological concepts and terms such as denial, projection, and dissociation.
The Text is largely theoretical, and presents the thought system on which the Course is based. It is meant to be read in the order given, as it presents a reasoned argument for the thoughts it sets forth.
The Workbook includes 365 lessons, one for each day of the year, which are meant to be done no more than one per day, although you may want to spend more than just one day on some of the lessons. It provides the practical basis of the Course. The theoretical material of the Text is essential to make the Workbook lessons meaningful; but without the practice of the Workbook lessons, it is not possible to achieve the goals the Course sets forth.
This is the smallest volume. The Manual's main purpose is to provide help to those who, having completed the Text and the Workbook, wish to fulfill their function as teachers of God (miracle workers) by sharing the Course's thought system of love with others. The Manual also provides answers to several questions likely to arise to students of the Course, and clarifies and defines some of the terms used in the Course.
The Course makes no claim to uniqueness; it refers to itself as one form of the universal course, and states, "There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome" (Manual, 1.4:2). It does imply, however, that its serious students will concentrate on the Course, rather than mixing it with other paths.
The Course calls itself a course in mind training. It is indeed that. One of its primary emphases is training you to think in an entirely different way. It teaches that we make our experience, even our world, by our thoughts, and that by changing our way of thinking we can change the world.
As the Course states in the introduction to the Text,
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 Course is one example of what has been called channelled material. Helen Schucman, who wrote down the Course, did not claim to be the author herself. She heard what she called a kind of inner dictation, and she felt impelled to write it down, even though at times she disagreed with it and resisted the process. The voice speaking through Helen Schucman clearly identifies himself as Jesus, and says he is speaking again to correct some misconceptions we have had about what he taught and what he did on earth. The Course itself states, however, that it is not necessary to accept Jesus as your teacher: "It is possible to read his words and benefit from them without accepting him into your life" (Manual, Clarification of Terms, 5.6:6).