Did Jesus really dictate A Course in Miracles to Helen?

Question: In the last chapter of Ken Wapnick's Absence from Felicity, he says that A Course in Miracles didn't really come from Jesus dictating his words to Helen. Rather, it came from a part of Helen's own mind that was connected with the "abstract love" of Jesus. He just provided the content; she herself provided the specific words. What is your view?

Answer: My short answer is that the Course material itself clearly claims that Jesus is the source of its words, and I see nothing in the Course that supports Wapnick's alternative theory. Of course, we can never prove that Jesus really dictated the Course to Helen. What we can say, though, is that when the Course makes this claim, there is no reason to doubt that it means what it says quite literally.

There is no doubt that the Course material claims to be dictated by Jesus. In the Urtext, the author of the Course refers to Helen's scribing as "taking dictation" from him. In a Manual section about Jesus we are told plainly, "This course has come from him" (M-23.7:1). Elsewhere in the Course, Jesus refers to its words as "my words" (T-31.VIII.8:1) and "the words I speak" (W-pI.RV.In.9:2); in fact, he stresses that he has "made every effort to use words that are almost impossible to distort" (T-3.I.3:11). There is no hint anywhere that the Course's words came from anyone but Jesus.

Wapnick acknowledges that Jesus is the identified author of the Course: "Almost the entire text of A Course in Miracles is written in the first person, where the 'I' is clearly identified throughout as Jesus" (The Most Commonly Asked Questions about 'A Course in Miracles,' p. 97). He simply believes that this claim shouldn't be taken literally. Here is his theory of what really happened when the Course came through Helen:

While [Helen's] experience most definitely was of Jesus—a person outside herself—relating to her and dictating to her, in truth the reality was much different. Helen was able to return her mind to that memory of God's Love—her true Identity—symbolized by her as Jesus. By uniting with him, she united with love. That union has no form or specifics, for love, as we have seen, is abstract and beyond all divisions of the ego. This love, of which Jesus was the manifestation, flowed through the separated mind we know as Helen (the water taking shape in the glass) and came out to the world as the three books we know as A Course in Miracles. Thus, it was Helen's mind that gave the Course its form; the content came from outside her ego mind, from a love that is nonetheless within her mind, as indeed it is in all of us. (Absence from Felicity, 1st ed., p. 480)

As he sums up his theory on the next page: "Helen was responsible for the Course's specific form; the abstract love of Jesus—the source—for its content." The abstract love of Jesus was like water; Helen's mind was the glass that gave that water its form.

On what basis does Wapnick believe this? In general terms, this theory stems from his view of Course metaphysics (see our article entitled The Relationship Between the Circle's Teachings and the Teachings of Ken Wapnick for Wapnick quotes that express the views in this paragraph). In that view, God doesn't even know we are here, for if He did know, that would make the separation real. Since He doesn't know we are here, He doesn't really do anything to help us. This means that He didn't really create the Holy Spirit to help us, nor does Jesus help us. Both the Holy Spirit and Jesus are illusions, symbols of God's Love within the dream, generated by our own minds. Therefore, these "Helpers" cannot give us specifics of any kind, including the specific words of the Course. All specific forms are supplied by our own minds, even specific forms that reflect Heaven; only the content of God's Love comes from Heaven, and even that isn't actively contributed by Him. How could it be when He doesn't even know we're here?

However, I see nothing in the Course that supports Wapnick's metaphysics. The Course tells us clearly that God does know we're here (see T-4.VII.6 and T-6.V.1). It tells us that the Holy Spirit is a "creation of the one Creator" (C-6.1:2), created in loving response to the separation to show us the way back home. It portrays Jesus as a real Son of God (like the rest of us) who has awakened completely to God, yet who still "has remained with [us] " (M-23.5:9) in order "to lead [us] from the hell [we] made to God" (C-5.5:4). Both the Holy Spirit and Jesus are thus real beings who actively help us return to God. They not only give us the mental content of healed perception, but also "answer every specific problem" (T-11.VIII.5:5) we have, and give us all the specific forms we need to fulfill our function in God's plan for salvation: "In time, [the Holy Spirit] gives you all the things that you need have, and will renew them as long as you have need of them" (T-13.VII.12:4). Giving us the things we need to serve God's plan for salvation would naturally include giving us the words of the Course, words Jesus calls "the thoughts I brought to you from Him Who sees your bitter need, and knows the answer God has given Him" (W-pI.RV.In.8:1).

In that discussion from Absence, Wapnick uses a "special message" to Helen and the Song of Prayer supplement to support his view. Both of these sources present the same basic message. In essence, they tell us that as we progress on the path, we will have less and less need to ask for specifics, as we learn that the only thing we really want is God Himself. Both encourage us to move in this direction of asking for God Himself rather than specifics. However, neither says that God and His Helpers don't provide specifics. This is especially evident in the Song of Prayer:

You have been told to ask the Holy Spirit for the answer to any specific problem, and that you will receive a specific answer if such is your need. You have also been told that there is only one problem and one answer. In prayer this is not contradictory. There are decisions to make here, and they must be made whether they be illusions or not. You cannot be asked to accept answers which are beyond the level of need that you can recognize. Therefore, it is not the form of the question that matters, nor how it is asked. The form of the answer, if given by God, will suit your need as you see it. This is merely an echo of the reply of His Voice. The real sound is always a song of thanksgiving and of Love.

You cannot, then, ask for the echo. It is the song that is the gift. Along with it come the overtones, the harmonics, the echoes, but these are secondary. In true prayer you hear only the song. All the rest is merely added. You have sought first the Kingdom of Heaven, and all else has indeed been given you. (S-1.I.2:1-3:6)

I see two ideas in this passage that are relevant to our discussion. First, when we pray, God answers. This goes against Wapnick's view that God doesn't even know we are here; how could He answer the prayers we make here if this were the case? Second, even though the content of His answer is (metaphorically speaking) "a song of thanksgiving and of Love," notice that specifics—"the overtones, the harmonics, the echoes," the answers to specific problems—come along with the song. Wapnick seems to see a contradiction between God (or Jesus) providing the content of "abstract love" and God (or Jesus) providing specific forms, but here we are told that "in prayer this is not contradictory": the two come together. As a later passage in the Song of Prayer puts it: "God answers only for eternity. But still all little answers are contained in this" (S-1.I.4:7-8).

Thus, this passage in no way suggests that God, the Holy Spirit, or Jesus do not provide specifics. On the contrary, we "have been told to ask the Holy Spirit for the answer to any specific problem" and are assured that we will receive a specific answer "if such is your need." (True, it could be argued that our minds mold God's content into specific forms that suit our needs, but there is no evidence in the Course to support this—it consistently depicts the Holy Spirit and Jesus as actively helping us.) Why, then, could Jesus not have given us the specific words of the Course as a powerful and much-needed "echo" of the song of God's Love?

To conclude: Everything in the Course material itself claims that Jesus dictated its words to Helen, and nothing in the Course material asserts either that this either didn't happen or couldn't happen. Of course, it's always possible that Wapnick's theory could be correct, but I think the burden of proof is on him, and he has not met that burden. Therefore, I see no reason to believe that the Course material doesn't mean exactly what it says when it claims to be dictated by Jesus. Whether that claim is really true is another matter, but there is no question that is the claim being made.

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