What is “the record”?

Q. What is the record? I have encountered this term in the Urtext and am wondering what it means. Is it like the Akashic records?

A. “The record” (or “the records”) is mentioned in six passages in the original dictation, and there is an additional passage that refers to Helen’s dream from years before, “The Recorder,” which clearly refers to the same concept. From all of those places, we get the following picture.

“The record” is a perfectly accurate list of all that we think and do, and all the effects our thoughts and deeds have on others. Helen’s dream “The Recorder” (which Jesus praises as “remarkably accurate in some ways because it came partly from ego-repressed knowledge”) provides us with a vivid picture of this. In this dream, the recorder is an old clerk who records each person’s actions on a page in his ledger. Then, he says, “Whenever someone dies, I draw a line under the last entry, add up the figures, and get a total. This total I pass on to the proper Authorities.”

As you might imagine, we have considerable fear about exactly what is in this record, and this fear leads us to perform dutiful sacrifices, in the hopes that we can thereby pay off the misdeeds recorded there. (“Sacrifice…arises solely from fear of the records.”)

The primary concern displayed in the passages about the record is improving or correcting it through miracles. Miracles, in this sense, are expressions of love to others, and the record records not only these acts of love, but all the effects they have on others, even people who are distant from us in space and time.

Whenever we offer a miracle to another, “This introduces a correction into the Record, which corrects retroactively as well as progressively.” The sense you get from this is that the miracle rolls back through the past, wiping away our loveless acts, and rolls forward into the future, setting us on a different track than we had previously been on.

The power of the miracle is such that one act can change the record entirely, altering our entire balance. In Helen’s dream, the recorder says, “Over and over I’ve seen a person suddenly decide to do something very unexpected,—something that changes the whole picture of his accounts. He’s quite likely to do it up until the very last minute.”

Our ability to improve our record is so great that “the permanent record” is only one of perfect accomplishment. Jesus at one point says that in the end we will pass the Course. “That,” he says, “is the final exam, which you will have no trouble in passing. Midterm marks are not entered in the permanent record.”

We may think this last comment is just a bit of educational terminology, not meant to be taken seriously as applying to “the record.” Yet the whole concept of the Last Judgment in the Course seems to be in which, in the end, we perfectly clean up our record: “Everyone will ultimately look upon his own creations [which here seems to refer primarily to his actions] and choose to preserve only what is good, just as God Himself looked upon what He had created and knew that it was good” (T-2.VIII.4:3).

The concept of the record, then, does seem to be the Course’s version of the Akashic Records—a record of all desires, actions, and experiences that take place in time. The Course’s particular emphasis, however, is on the malleability of this record—the fact that we can correct and improve our record through giving miracles to others, thus changing “the whole picture of [our] accounts.” The record is so responsive to this process of improvement that, in the end, our record will only retain “what is good.” At that point, all our “midterm marks” of partial success and temporary failure will be wiped away, leaving a record only of the perfect realization and extension of love.

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