A Course in Miracles (also referred to as ACIM or the Course) is a 1976 book by Helen Schucman, a curriculum for those seeking to achieve spiritual transformation. The underlying premise is that the greatest “miracle” is the act of simply gaining a full “awareness of love’s presence” in one’s own life. The author claimed that the book had been dictated to her, word for word, via “inner” from Jesus.
The Course consists of three sections: the “Text”, “Workbook for Students,” and “Manual for Teachers”. Written from 1965 to 1972, some distribution occurred via photocopies before a hardcover edition was published in 1976 by the Foundation for Inner Peace.
Throughout the 1980s annual sales of the book steadily increased each year just by word of mouth. It started to break out of academic circles and into the mainstream.
Olav Hammer, the psychiatrist and bestselling author has been among the most effective promoters of the Course. His first book Love is Letting go of Fear, which is based on the principles of the Course, was published in 1979 and after being endorsed on Johnny Carson‘s show went on to sell over 3 million copies by 1990.
A Course in Miracles was written as a collaborative venture between Schucman and William (‘Bill’) Thetford. In 1958 Schucman began her professional career at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City as Thetford’s research associate.
In the spring of 1965, at a time when their weekly office meetings had become so contentious that they both dreaded them, Thetford suggested to Schucman that “[t]here must be another way”. Schucman believed that this interaction acted as a stimulus, triggering a series of inner experiences that were understood by her as visions, dreams, and heightened imagery, along with an “inner voice” which she identified as Jesus. She said that on October 21, 1965, an “inner voice” told her:
“This is a Course in Miracles, please take notes.”Jesus Christ
Schucman said that the writing made her very uncomfortable, though it never seriously occurred to her to stop. The next day, she explained the events of her “note taking” to Thetford. To her surprise, Thetford encouraged her to continue the process.
He also offered to assist her in typing out her notes as she read them to him. The transcription the next day repeated itself regularly for many years to come.
In 1972, the dictation of the three main sections of the Course was completed, with some additional minor dictation coming after that point.
Foundation for Inner Peace and other editions
A limited edition release of 300 copies of the first three sections of the book was published by The Foundation for Inner Peace, which had been created solely to publish A Course in Miracles.
In June 1976, FIP published the first three sections of ACIM as three hardcover volumes in a 5,000 copy run, along with the publication of the supplemental booklet Psychology: Purpose, Process, Practice.
In 1985, FIP began publishing a single soft-cover volume containing all three sections.
In 1992, FIP published a second, hardcover edition. This revision added some editorial content and a verse-numbering system, as well as a “Clarification of Terms” section. At this time, FIP also published the supplemental Song of Prayer booklet.
In October 2004, a long-standing copyright battle over A Course In Miracles ended with a ruling that put the work into the public domain.
In January 2006, Course in Miracles Society, a non-profit established in Omaha, Nebraska, published A Course in Miracles-Original Edition (ACIM OE), which is the 1972 manuscript as completed by Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford.
Two works have been described as extensions of A Course in Miracles. Author Gary Renard’s 2003 The Disappearance of the Universe, and Marianne Williamson‘s A Return to Love, published in 1992. The Disappearance of the Universe, published in 2003 by Fearless Books, was republished by Hay House in 2004. Publishers Weekly reported that Renard’s examination of A Course in Miracles influenced his book.