Frequently Asked Questions — by Topic
What is A Course in Miracles?
Q: What, exactly, is A Course in Miracles?
A Course in Miracles is a spiritual path in the form of a book. Its purpose is to train us to work miracles—to accept and extend to others the healed perception that awakens us to God. The Course consists of three volumes (usually bound together in one book), which follow the model of a college course. The three volumes are the Text, the Workbook, and the Manual for Teachers.
The Text gives the theoretical foundation of the Course's thought system, which is essential to make the exercises of the Workbook meaningful. The Workbook, in 365 daily lessons, trains the mind in how to think along the lines the Text sets forth. Based on the Text, it emphasizes experience through practical application. The Manual for Teachers gives instruction for those who have studied the Text and completed the Workbook and are ready to deepen their learning by extending it to others—in other words, those who are ready to become full-fledged miracle workers. While this extension can take many forms, the Manual discusses two forms in particular: 1) a teacher of the Course who extends the Course to pupils through his or her thoughts, words, and example (a kind of Course mentor), and 2) a Course-based healer who extends healing to patients.
For more on this question, see the page on this website entitled What Is A Course in Miracles? If you would like to order a copy of A Course in Miracles, there are four formats to choose from: the original edition hardcover, softcover, or the mass market paperback version.
Q: What is a miracle?
In traditional usage, the term "miracle" refers to a divine healing of the physical world or the body, in which the normal physical laws are momentarily suspended. In Course usage, the term "miracle" refers to a divine healing of human perception, in which the "laws" that normally govern ego-based thinking are momentarily suspended. This healing shifts our perception from the view that others are attackers who deserve condemnation to the view that others are holy children of God who deserve love. This healing is of the mind, but can also lead to healing of the physical world and the body. The primary definition of "miracle" in the Course is the extension of healed perception from one mind to another.
For more information, see the entry for "miracle" in Robert Perry's ACIM Glossary. If you want to learn more about miracles, you may also want to order Robert Perry and Allen Watson's book entitled The Answer Is a Miracle
Q: Why is it called "A Course in Miracles"?
In short, because it is a course whose purpose is to train us to be miracle workers. The author chose the title, and began with these words: "This is a course in miracles, please take notes."
The individual words of the title are significant:
A The Course presents a teaching which lights a pathway for returning to God. It does not claim to be the only pathway. Other spiritual paths, in the view of the Course, all lead to the same goal of awakening to God, each in their own unique way. "All such attempts will ultimately succeed because of their purpose" (T-18.VII.5:9).
Course The course presents a course of study, practice, and extension designed to enable its students to work miracles. As a course it is meant to be "taken" in a rigorous and committed manner, just as one would take any course one wants to pass. Another term for "course" is "path"; this course presents a path to God.
in Miracles As mentioned in the answer to the previous question, the primary definition of "miracle" in the Course is the extension of healed perception from one mind to another. This is a course that teaches us how to work such miracles: to be miracle workers who extend healed perception to miracle receivers.
Q: What are the benefits of taking the Course?
The Course promises that countless benefits will result from walking its path, benefits it often portrays as gifts from God's infinite treasure house. Among those gifts are the following:
- The gift of a deep and profound sense of inner peace
- The gift of releasing our grievances through forgiveness
- The gift of relationships transformed from contentious war zones into truly holy relationships
- The gift of frequent holy instants, spiritual experiences in which we temporarily enter a boundless realm of peace, joy, and love
- The gift of receiving guidance from the Holy Spirit for all the decisions of our lives
- The gift of finding our special function, the particular role God has for us in the world
- The gift of giving to others, of being truly helpful to other people
- The gift of days filled with happiness.
- Finally, the indescribable gift of awakening fully to the awareness of God and our true home in Heaven
One of the benefits in the above list is the holy instant. The following is a description of a holy instant that one Course student had in an encounter with a woman whom, under normal circumstances, he held unkind judgments against. (It is excerpted from Robert Perry's book Path of Light: Stepping into Peace with A Course in Miracles.
The thing that struck me right away is that I felt more love/joy in being in [her] presence than I have ever felt before….It was an experience of pure absolute bliss in coming into contact with someone….I felt a love, a sense of love, that surpassed any concept of love that I have experienced on a conscious level. I have been in love, I've had many male/female relationships, and in looking back it was no comparison, because it was so much greater than anything that I had ever experienced. And I said, "this is love."
Q: What is the goal of the Course?
The goal of the Course can be expressed in a number of different ways. The Course's ultimate goal for us is full awakening to the awareness of God. To pave the way to this ultimate goal, the actual learning goal of the Course is the attainment of true perception through forgiveness: the perception of everyone and everything as pure, holy, innocent children of God. One could also say that the goal of the Course is to bless us with gifts of God like those listed in the previous question.
Finally, one could say that the goal of the Course is to produce a particular kind of person: a person whom it calls an "advanced teacher of God" (see Section 4 of the Manual for Teachers). This is someone who has so fully accepted the gifts of God that he or she embodies the character traits of trust, honesty, tolerance, gentleness, joy, defenselessness, generosity, patience, faithfulness, and open-mindedness. In other words, the person the Course aims to produce is a person who is pure goodness, a person who in any time or place would be considered a saint.
The Origin of A Course in Miracles
Q: How and when was the Course written?
An inner Voice, identified as Jesus, dictated all three volumes to Helen Schucman (1909-1981), a Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. The dictation began on October 21, 1965 and ended around September 14, 1972. William ("Bill") Thetford (1919-1988), another Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia, assisted Helen with encouragement, typing, and friendship. The Course came in response to an agreement Helen had made with Bill several months earlier: to help him find "another way" in which to conduct their personal and professional relationships.
The Course was first published (in notebook form) in 1975; the first printed edition appeared in June 1976. The Second Edition was published in 1992.
For a longer version of the story of the scribing of the Course, see Allen Watson's article The Story of the Course.
Q: What is the basis for claiming that Jesus is the author of the Course?
The many first-person passages referring to the teaching and life of Jesus clearly identify him as the purported author, and one passage flatly states that this course came from him (M-23.7:1). Robert Perry has identified a number of similarities between the Jesus of history and the author of the Course, similarities which lend support to the claim that the Course's author is Jesus. However, it is not necessary to accept this claim in order to benefit from the Course. "It is possible to read his words and benefit from them without accepting him into your life" (C-5.6:6).
For more on this topic, see two articles in which Robert discusses parallels between the Jesus of history and the author of the Course. One is entitled Who Was the Jesus of History and Did He Write A Course in Miracles? The other is condensed from that article, and is entitled A Joint Portrait of Jesus.
Q: What other writings came from the same source as the Course?
In the years after the Course was scribed by Helen Schucman, several other writings were scribed in the same manner:
- Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process, and Practice (1973-75): This supplement to the Course applies the principles of the Course to the practice of psychotherapy.
- "Clarification of Terms" (1975): This is now in the back of the Course, after the Manual for Teachers. It came as a result of a request from Helen, Ken Wapnick, and Judy Skutch for a glossary that would define some of the terms used in the Course.
- The Song of Prayer: Prayer, Forgiveness, Healing (1977): This supplement to the Course presents a Course perspective on three topics associated with traditional religion: prayer, forgiveness, and healing.
- "The Gifts of God" (1978): This currently appears at the end of Helen's book of poetry, also entitled The Gifts of God. It is Helen's last scribing, and came in response to a fearful situation she was facing in her life. Its main theme is the contrast between the deceptive "gifts" of fear and the glorious gifts of God.
For more information, consult the following teaching materials based on these works: For the Psychotherapy supplement, see Robert Perry's article A Basic Outline of Course-Based Psychotherapy.
The Teaching of A Course in Miracles
Q: In a nutshell, what does the Course teach?
The Course's central teaching is forgiveness. Its message is that the source of our suffering is not the world's mistreatment of us, but rather our attacking thoughts about the world. This attack convinces us that we have defiled our nature beyond repair, that we are irredeemably guilty. Yet the Course says true reality—including our own reality—cannot be defiled; it is a realm of pure, changeless, unified spirit. This realization allows us to forgive the world's apparent mistreatment of us by recognizing that it was not real, that it did not actually occur. And as we see this forgiveness come forth from us—as we see that we are capable of something genuinely loving and egoless—we gradually realize that we never defiled ourselves. Thus we awaken to the untouched innocence of our true nature. We awaken to the awareness of our oneness with God and all His creation.
This, of course, is only a very short summary of what the Course teaches. This entire website has a wealth of materials that explore the Course's teachings in depth. For some longer answers to the basic question of what the Course teaches, go to the page on this website entitled What Does A Course in Miracles Teach? For a good summary of what the Course teaches (including material on the Course as a spiritual path), you may want to order Robert Perry's book Path of Light: Stepping into Peace with A Course in Miracles.
Q: How does the Course define "forgiveness"?
The Course's central teaching is forgiveness, yet it defines "forgiveness" in an unconventional way. The two ways of looking at forgiveness—conventional forgiveness and Course-based forgiveness—could be briefly summed up as follows:
- Conventional forgiveness: To forgive means that I let go of my resentment towards you, even though I keep the perception that you sinned against me and that I am justified in resenting you. In short, to forgive is to give up the resentment.
- Course-based forgiveness: To forgive means that I let go of my false perception that you sinned against me and that I am justified in resenting you. Releasing this perception automatically releases my resentment. In short, to forgive is to give up the perception that causes the resentment.
For more information on this topic, see Robert Perry's definition of "forgiveness" in his Course Glossary. Also search for articles using the ter "Forgiveness".
The Spiritual Path of A Course in Miracles
The Course is a full-fledged spiritual path. It provides not only a teaching, but also "an organized, well-structured and carefully planned program" (T-12.II.10:1) to help us practically apply that teaching to our own lives. This program can be broadly summarized in three steps, each represented by a particular volume of the Course (these steps and the volumes that represent them overlap, of course; this is simply a broad outline):
The Text = Study
The Text presents the thought system of the Course; the rest of the Course is based upon and assumes the Text. Through study, the ideas that will eventually become our new thought system enter our awareness and are considered for the first time.
The Workbook = Practice
The Workbook is a training manual in the Course's method of spiritual practice, the exact same method of practice as recommended in the Text. Through practice, the ideas that we first encountered in the Text sink more deeply into our minds and become more fully our own.
The Manual for Teachers = Extension
The Manual for Teachers is intended primarily for experienced students who have gone through the Text and Workbook and are ready now for the final aspect of the Course's program: extension to others (working miracles). We extend to others through communicating—by thought, word, and deed—the healed perceptions we have allowed into our minds. Through extension, the ideas that entered our minds in the Text and that were reinforced by Workbook practice are further reinforced; it is by extending them that they become fully our own.
So, the simple answer to the question of how to make the Course practical is: Follow the Course's own program.
This website contains a wealth of articles on every aspect of the program, and Circle Publishing also has books and workshops that cover each aspect. Visit our bookstore for more information.
Q: Is the Course a self-study course?
The short answer, in our opinion, is no. Though the Course is often depicted as a "self-study" course by its students, the author of the Course never described it that way himself. He did, however, indicate in the pages of the Course itself how he intended it to be studied. Based on a careful examination of the Manual for Teachers, we believe that A Course in Miracles, rather than a self-study course, is intended to be a path one receives from one's teacher
We believe that the teacher-pupil relationship described in the Manual is the answer to the myriad problems Course students face in making sense of this massive, sophisticated, challenging book—problems that have been exacerbated by the idea that A Course in Miracles is a self-study Course. And so we believe it is time to seriously reconsider this idea.
Q: Who teaches the Course?
The Course describes a hierarchy of three teachers who work together. They are listed here in the order of the level of direct access the pupil has to them:
- The human teacher: This is a more mature student of the Course who plays the role of mentor to newer Course students. This person could be described as a "student-teacher" who is meant to work under the tutelage of the other two teachers.
- Jesus: He is the purported author of the Course. He assumes the role of teacher in several ways. First, he is the one who designed this course and authored all of its instructional materials. Second, he promises that he can instruct every student personally, from inside the student's mind. Finally, he can teach us through the example of his life two thousand years ago. He could be described as the "professor" who teaches this course.
- The Holy Spirit: He is Jesus' Teacher, and He also serves as each student's internal Teacher and Guide. He could be described as the "dean," the Head of the entire education system.
All of these teachers have an important role to play in the educational program. The Course envisions a flow of teaching issuing from the Holy Spirit, flowing through Jesus, through the human teacher, and finally illuminating the student with its guidance and wisdom. The higher the teacher is on this hierarchy, the closer he is to the Source of perfect knowledge. The lower he is, the more direct access that teacher has to the student. If all the levels are in place, therefore, a high level of wisdom can shine down and reach the student through physical interaction with his teacher.
Q: Should the Course be done in combination with other spiritual paths, or by itself?
The answer here depends largely on the answer to this question: Has the Holy Spirit chosen the Course for you as your sole spiritual path? If the answer is no (or if you are still in the process of finding the answer), then it is perfectly appropriate to combine it with other paths. But if the answer is yes, then our view is that it is best to do the Course by itself.
There are many reasons for this view, but they could be boiled down to two:
- Our experience is that trying to combine the Course with other paths inevitably introduces conflict and dilutes the Course.
- The Course itself suggests the value of following its path alone, and claims that we need nothing else: "You are studying a unified thought system in which nothing is lacking that is needed, and nothing is included that is contradictory or irrelevant" (W-pI.42.7:2).
Doing the Course alone does not mean looking down upon other paths, nor does it mean that you are forbidden to learn more about and gain inspiration from other paths. It simply means that, though you honor other paths as valid ways to God and gain inspiration from those paths, the Course is the particular path you walk. Commitment to the Course frees you from conflict and allows you tosingle-mindedly follow its path with every ounce of our being.
Christianity and A Course in Miracles
Q: Why is the universal message of the Course delivered in Christian language?
Though the Course's message certainly is universal, we believe it uses Christian language because its main target audience is a group whom well-known author John Shelby Spong has called "the church alumni association": people who have a history with Christianity and still find aspects of it attractive, yet who have become disillusioned with traditional Christian teachings and churches. Course scribe Helen Schucman herself, while ethnically Jewish and a self-professed atheist, had a lifelong fascination with Christianity. During her childhood, she explored Catholicism and the Baptist church, and embarked on a "failed" quest for God that actually led to her later profession of atheism. In retrospect, her "militant atheism" seems more like anger at God than actual belief that there is no God.
Therefore, a major task of the Course's author—who claimed to be Jesus—was to help Helen see God, Jesus, and Christianity in a whole new way. And we at the Circle believe that a major purpose of the Course is to reinterpret Christianity for everyone—to present Jesus' message once again, stripped of the distortions that have been added to it by Christian tradition, yet retaining the positive aspects and emotional resonance of that tradition. So, in the Course, Jesus uses the old Christian terms, but imbues them with radical new meanings. For instance, the term "hell," which Christian tradition has used to refer to an abode of eternal damnation for unbelievers, is reinterpreted in the Course to mean our current condition of illusory separation from God. No one is damned, and we can undo the illusory condition of hell simply by changing our minds. By reinterpreting Christian terms, Jesus hopes to heal our wounds associated with those terms and help us to see them in a fresh new way.
For more on this topic, you may want to order Allen Watson's book Seeing the Bible Differently: How 'A Course in Miracles' Views the Bible.
Q: What are the similarities and differences between the Course and traditional Christianity?
There are both similarities and differences between the two paths. The following lists are not exhaustive, but include some of the more significant examples of each category. (Note: We are certainly aware of the great diversity within the Christian tradition; when we speak of "traditional Christianity," we are speaking of beliefs that have been widely held by Christians throughout history, even if not held by everyone):
- Both teach that God is love.
- Both see God as a Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- Both are historical, in the sense that they see time having a definite beginning and end, rather than being a repeating cycle.
- Both teach that some sort of "fall" or separation from God happened, a "fall" which brought about the current condition of our world.
- Both depict God as a loving father eagerly waiting for his prodigal son to return home.
- Both see forgiveness as crucial to salvation.
- Both see Jesus as a central figure.
- Both see the guidance of the Holy Spirit as important.
- Both see the ultimate goal as reunion with God.
- Traditional Christianity says that God created the world. The Course says that the world is a product of the ego, an illusory consequence of the illusory "fall" from awareness of God.
- Traditional Christianity sees Jesus as the unique, "only begotten" Son of God, and the rest of us as, at best, adopted sons. It sees Jesus as a deity to be worshipped. The Course uses the term "Son of God" to refer to all created beings. Jesus is not a deity to be worshipped, but an elder brother, differing from the rest of us only in time, in that he was the first to remember his true Identity as the Christ, an Identity shared by us all.
- Traditional Christianity depicts two powers at war with one another: good and evil, God and the devil. The Course depicts only one power, God, unopposed by any real evil force. The only opposition to God in the Course is the ego, which is an illusion with no real power.
- Traditional Christianity has usually seen hell as a real abode where unbelievers will suffer eternal damnation. The Course sees "hell" as a current state of mind that is caused by our thoughts of self-punishment. The Course teaches that no one is damned; everyone will eventually remember God and return to Him, because in fact no one has ever left Him except in his or her own imagination.
- Traditional Christianity teaches the idea of substitutionary atonement or "vicarious salvation"; that is, the concept that when Jesus died upon the cross, God was punishing him for the sins of all mankind, so that he suffered death in our place in order for us to receive life. The Course directly refutes this idea. It sees sin as unreal, a mistake to be corrected rather than punished, and asserts that salvation has no cost. Atonement is not the price paid for sin, but simply the correction of our error in believing separation from God to be real.
The Language of A Course in Miracles
Q: Why is the Course written in such poetic language?
The Course was said by Helen's inner Voice to have taken the form of its language from both Helen and Bill. Helen was a lover of literature, in particular of Shakespeare and iambic pentameter. Much of the Course is in blank verse. Beginning in Chapter 24, the Text is written in iambic pentameter, although it is fairly rough for a chapter or two. Beginning in Lesson 98, the Workbook is written in perfect iambic pentameter. Many have voiced the opinion that the rich language of the Course permits it to carry much deeper, multileveled meanings.
At a talk in 1976, Helen Schucman answered a similar question by saying:
I do agree with you that it is quite a literary thing and it does require a certain background, but, you know, people with literary backgrounds should have a break too. Let's not be prejudiced against them. There are many things that I have subsequently seen that say exactly the same thing in a much simpler way. I happen to like this stuff from a literary viewpoint. I'm kind of a snob, but there are many of us...You know, salvation shouldn't cut us out simply because we're snobs. (quoted in Miracles Magazine, Summer 1992)
In our opinion, a major reason for the Course's poetic style is that the author intended it to be not only a course of instruction, but also a great work of art. He imbued it with the power not just to inform us through teaching intellectual concepts, but to transform us through touching our hearts with depth and beauty as only a great work of art can.
Q: How can I make sense of the Course's impenetrable language?
Our experience at the Circle is that the Course is actually crystal clear, once it is understood that the Course is written in a unique, transformative style. Once you learn how to read this unique style, the Course will come to life for you. This is how to make sense of the Course's seemingly impenetrable language.
This style can be broadly summed up as follows:
- It is symphonic and holographic rather than linear.
- It is designed to transform rather than merely inform.
- It is characterized by filling familiar terms with new meaning.
All three of these characteristics reflect a single intent: The Course wants to change our minds at the deepest level. Because this intent is embodied in the Course's style of writing, just reading the Course is transformative. And if one reads it in a way that is in harmony with its style, the Course will become crystal clear, fulfilling Jesus' promise that his words are "almost impossible to distort" (T-3.I.3:11)
For a wealth of practical instruction in how to study the Course, you may want to order the book Bringing the Course to Life: How to Unlock the Meaning of A Course in Miracles for Yourself, by Robert Perry and Allen Watson.
Q: Why does the Course use exclusively masculine terms?
First off, it is important to note that the masculine terminology does not indicate that God and His creations are literally male. In the Course, the body is said to be a fabrication of the ego, a purely illusory symbol of separation. Gender is purely a body thing. Therefore it has no application either to God or to His creations.
Why, then, is masculine terminology used? We believe this usage is deliberate. It is a prime example of the Course's author filling old terms with new meaning, as mentioned in the previous question. His goal is to evacuate the masculine terms—especially those associated with Christianity, like "Father" or "brother"—of their gender connotation by using them in a non-gender-specific manner. By using only one set of words that apply equally to men and women, he minimizes sexual difference rather than emphasizing it. (There is, however, one feminine reference in the Course: In the Clarification of Terms, we read that "the miracle corrects as gently as a loving mother sings her child to rest" [C-2.8:2].)
One specific example of how this use of language works: The phrase "Son of God" has traditionally been used to refer to Jesus, and only Jesus, as the "only begotten Son of God." It was, and still is, a phrase that emphasizes the uniqueness of Jesus. The Course, in using this phrase to refer to all of us, infuses it with an entirely new meaning that undoes the mistaken historical meaning. If the words were replaced with "daughter of God" or "child of God," that entire corrective aspect would be lost.
Q: What foreign language translations of the Course are currently available?
The Course is currently available in the following languages: Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Slovene, and Swedish.
The Versions of A Course in Miracles
Q: What are the differences between the First and Second Editions?
The Second Edition of A Course in Miracles appeared in 1992. It differs from the First Edition primarily in these ways:
- The presence of reference numbering for every section, paragraph, and sentence
- The addition of a small amount of accidentally omitted material
- Changes in a few phrases (for instance, the plural "you" was often changed to "you and your brother"), and in some capitalizations
- Different page numbering as a result of the added material and slightly larger type
- Section titles have been added at the top of every page.
Q: References to the Second Edition of the Course give a letter followed by three of four numbers. What does this mean?
In the Second Edition, first published in 1992, all parts of the book are numbered. In the Text, numbering is applied to chapters, sections, paragraphs, and sentences. For example, T-17.III.7:3 means:
Text, Chapter 17, section III, paragraph 7, sentence 3
This refers to the sentence "Whom God has joined as one, the ego cannot put asunder" which can be found on page 332 of the Text in the First Edition.
References are made in the following ways:
Workbook: W-Part (I or II).Lesson.Paragraph:Sentence
Manual for Teachers: M-Section.Paragraph:Sentence
Clarification of Terms: C-Section.Paragraph:Sentence
Psychotherapy supplement P-Chapter.Section.Paragraph:Sentence
Song of Prayer supplement: S-Chapter.Section.Paragraph:Sentence
A few sections of the Course necessitate subsection letters as reference, e.g., T-6.V(A).1:1.
Q: What are the earlier versions of the Course that have emerged recently?
A couple of earlier versions of the Course have emerged recently:
- The Hugh Lynn Cayce Version: This version was an attempt by Helen and Bill to turn the very rough original dictation of the Urtext (see below) into a clean and readable manuscript. It is called the "Hugh Lynn Cayce Version" because it was the version sent to Hugh Lynn Cayce, the son of famed psychic Edgar Cayce. It is also known by the name "Jesus' Course in Miracles."
- The Urtext: This is an earlier version than the Hugh Lynn Cayce Version. It was Bill's original typing from Helen's shorthand notebooks. The word urtext means "original text," and is often used to refer to the original manuscript of a musical score or literary work.
The main difference between these versions and the standard version published by the Foundation for Inner Peace is that they have less editing (fewer word changes, less rearranging of material, etc.) and more material in the early chapters of the Text (including personal material for Helen and Bill, and material discussing a wide variety of topics, including sex, psychology, possession, Edgar Cayce, the structure of the mind, etc.). Many people have gotten a lot out of reading these earlier versions--especially the additional material in the early chapters, in which Jesus speaks in a very down-to-earth way about specific issues.
There is currently a debate in the Course community about which of the versions of the Course is closest to what Jesus intended to have published. Our position at the Circle is that none of the versions is the "perfect" version, but all are helpful aids in gaining a deeper understanding of Jesus' message. We would like to see a new edit of the Course, one which is designed to be useful for the student, and which hews as closely as possible to the editing instructions Jesus actually gave Helen and Bill.
For a detailed discussion of the earlier versions and how they came about, see Robert Perry's article The Earlier Versions and the Editing of A Course in Miracles.
The World of A Course in Miracles
Q: How is the Course community organized? Is it a church?
A Course in Miracles is not a church; it is simply a book that lays out a spiritual path. There is a publisher (the Foundation for Inner Peace), but no central organization or heirarchy. However, there are a number of independent organizations, such as the Circle of Atonement, who are dedicated to teaching and disseminating the Course and its message. There are some independent Course churches, such as the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco and A Place for Miracles in Las Vegas. There are a number of Course-based Internet discussion groups, chat rooms, and websites (click here for a selection of websites). And perhaps the most most prevalent way of teaching and disseminating the Course is study groups: groups of people who meet informally to discuss the Course together, with or without a facilitator or teacher.
There is some discussion in the Course community about whether the phenomenon of Course churches is a good thing. For Robert Perry's perspective on this issue, see his article entitled Should There Be Course Churches?
Q: How can I find an ACIM study group?
The Miracle Distribution Center has a large listing of study groups. See their website for study group information. The Community Miracles Center also maintains an on-line listing of study groups which, although less complete than the MDC listing, is very quickly available.
Q: What happened in the controversy surrounding the Course's copyright?
To make a very long story short: Beginning in the early 1990's, the enforcement of the copyright of A Course in Miracles grew increasingly restrictive. This led to a number of lawsuits. One of these lawsuits was filed in 1996 by the copyright holders of A Course in Miracles (the Foundation for Inner Peace, the Foundation for A Course in Miracles, and Penguin) against the First Christian Church of Full Endeavor (also known as Endeavor Academy). The plaintiffs contended that Endeavor had violated their copyright on the Course by publishing large portions of it without their consent; the defendants claimed that the copyright for A Course in Miracles was invalid.
After seven years, a verdict was rendered by Judge Robert Sweet of the Southern District Court of New York. On October 24, 2003, he ruled that the copyright of the First Edition of A Course in Miracles was invalid. The copyright holders were given a time period in which to appeal the decision if they wished, but they chose not to appeal. Finally, on May 28, 2004, the appeal period expired, and the copyright of the First Edition of A Course in Miracles was officially revoked for good. (The copyrights for the Second Edition and the "Clarification of Terms" remain legally valid.)
This account of what happened is, of course, only the barest of bare bones accounts. For more details about how the copyright controversy unfolded, read Rev. Tony Ponticello's article on this website entitled The Copyright Infrastructure. For Robert Perry's commentary on what the final verdict means for the future of the Course, read his article entitled And Now It Belongs to the World.
Q: What are the similarities and differences between the teachings of Ken Wapnick and those of the Circle of Atonement?
We were asked this question so frequently that we finally decided to publish a book about it. For a short account of the the similarities and differences between Wapnick's and the Circle's perspectives, read the article by Robert Perry, Greg Mackie, and Allen Watson entitled The Relationship between the Circle's Teachings and the Teachings of Ken Wapnick. For a longer treatment, you may want to order the book, which is entitled One Course, Two Visions: A Comparison of the Teachings of the Circle of Atonement and Ken Wapnick on A Course in Miracles.
Inclusion on this list of related books does not signify approval of any book by the authors of this FAQ (except those of Robert Perry Allen Watson, and Greg Mackie which, needless to say, we highly recommend), nor does exclusion reflect a judgment against a book. This list is simply provided to help you find more information about the Course.
Path of Light: Stepping into Peace with A Course in Miracles by Robert Perry, If you want an accessible introduction to the Course, this is the first book to get after the Course itself. Author Richard Smoley calls Path of Light "a superb introduction to the beautiful and enigmatic work that is A Course in Miracles. Highly recommended both for beginners and for old hands at the Course."
Other books by Robert Perry, Allen Watson, and Greg Mackie: Go to our bookstore for full information about all of the Circle of Atonement's Course study materials.
D. Patrick Miller, The Complete Story of the Course: The History, the People, the Controversies behind 'A Course in Miracles.' Available from Fearless Books. An excellent overview of the phenomenon that is A Course in Miracles.
Robert Skutch, Journey without Distance: The Story behind 'A Course in Miracles.' Available from the Foundation for Inner Peace. Bob Skutch was the husband of Judy, and this was the first book to give the story of how the Course was written.
Ken Wapnick, Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of 'A Course in Miracles.' Available from the Foundation for A Course in Miracles. The phrase "absence from felicity" alludes to Hamlet; the theme of the book is Helen's inner struggles in transcribing the Course and trying to live by its teachings. This book gives a detailed account of how the Course was written, and contains a wealth of material from Jesus scribed by Helen that is not included in the Course itself.
A 2 1/4 hour video, The Story of 'A Course In Miracles,' is available from the Foundation for Inner Peace. The first half narrates the story of Helen and the Course's scribing, with Glynis Johns as Helen. The second half includes a number of commentators discussing the Course and its impact on their lives.