a course in miracles is a set of self-study materials published by the Foundation for Inner Peace. The book’s content is metaphysical, and explains forgiveness as applied to daily life. Curiously, nowhere does the book have an author (and it is so listed without an author’s name by the U.S. Library of Congress). However, the text was written by Helen Schucman (deceased) and William Thetford; Schucman has related that the book’s material is based on communications to her from an “inner voice” she claimed was Jesus. The original version of the book was published in 1976, with a revised edition published in 1996. Part of the content is a teaching manual, and a student workbook. Since the first edition, the book has sold several million copies, with translations into nearly two-dozen languages.
The book’s origins can be traced back to the early 1970s; Helen Schucman first experiences with the “inner voice” led to her then supervisor, William Thetford, to contact Hugh Cayce at the Association for Research and Enlightenment. In turn, an introduction to Kenneth Wapnick (later the book’s editor) occurred. At the time of the introduction, Wapnick was clinical psychologist. After meeting, Schucman and Wapnik spent over a year editing and revising the material. Another introduction, this time of Schucman, Wapnik, and Thetford to Robert Skutch and Judith Skutch Whitson, of the Foundation for Inner Peace. The first printings of the book for distribution were in 1975. Since then, copyright litigation by the Foundation for Inner Peace, and Penguin Books, has established that the content of the first edition is in the public domain.
A Course in Miracles is a teaching device; the course has 3 books, a 622-page text, a 478-page student workbook, and an 88-page teachers manual. The materials can be studied in the order chosen by readers. The content of A Course in Miracles addresses both the theoretical and the practical, although application of the book’s material is emphasized.
The text is mostly theoretical, and is a basis for the workbook’s lessons, which are practical applications. The workbook has 365 lessons, one for each day of the year, though they don’t have to be done at a pace of one lesson per day. Perhaps most like the workbooks that are familiar to the average reader from previous experience, you are asked to use the material as directed. However, in a departure from the “normal”, the reader is not required to believe what is in the workbook, or even accept it. Neither the workbook nor the Course in Miracles is intended to complete the reader’s learning; simply, the materials are a start.
A Course in Miracles distinguishes between knowledge and perception; truth is unalterable and eternal, while perception is the world of time, change, and interpretation. The world of perception reinforces the dominant ideas in our minds, and keeps us separate from the truth, and separate from God. Perception is limited by the body’s limitations in the physical world, thus limiting awareness. Much of the experience of the world reinforces the ego, and the individual’s separation from God. But, by accepting the vision of Christ, and the voice of the Holy Spirit, one learns forgiveness, both for oneself and others.