The Fifty Miracle Principles of A Course in Miracles
by Kenneth Wapnick
Introduction - Part 1
The workshop began with a meditation, with Gloria reading "What is a Miracle?":
---------------From ACIM W-pII.13------------------
"A miracle is a correction. It does not create, nor really change at all. It merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false. It undoes error, but does not attempt to go beyond perception, nor exceed the function of forgiveness. Thus it stays within time's limits. Yet it paves the way for the return of timelessness and love's awakening, for fear must slip away under the gentle remedy it brings.
A month or two ago when Gloria and I were first talking about what we should do in this workshop, Gloria suggested the idea of our doing these miracle principles. This is not my favorite part in the text, but then I was reminded of the statement in Alice in Wonderland where the King says that you begin at the beginning, then you go until the end, and then you stop. Since this is the way A Course in Miracles begins, it seems like a logical place for us to begin, too.
What we will do after I make some introductory comments is go through these fifty principles line by line. You will see that this first section starts almost like an operatic overture, in that it contains most of the major themes that are found fully developed later in the text; and, like many operatic overtures, I do not think it is as good as the actual opera or book.
I thought I would spend the first part of this workshop explaining how I see these fifty principles and also trying to account for what seem to be inconsistencies in some of them as they are compared to statements found later on in the text. I think people who read this opening section carefully, as well as the first four or five chapters, would find that there are certain things there that do not quite seem to fit with what comes later. And, certainly, the style of the writing is not on the same level. There are reasons for this which I would like to share.
Most of you, I am sure, are familiar with the story of how A Course in Miracles came to be written. Helen Schucman, a psychologist, heard Jesus' voice speak to her, and he dictated these three volumes. When the process first began in October of 1965, for the first four weeks or so, Helen found herself in a very anxiety-producing situation. While this did not interfere with the basic content of what she heard, it certainly did interfere, I think, with the clarity with which she heard.
Helen had intimations that she had long ago developed this scribal ability, misused it, and left it dormant for quite some time. If you have a faucet that has not been used for some time, and you suddenly turn an the water, you would have a lot of rust. The water comes through, but at the beginning you have a lot of discoloration. I think that is what you find here: the material itself is consistent with the basic teaching of the Course, but the mode of expression is not consistent.
Very often Helen would write down something and the following day Jesus would say to her, in effect, "This is what you wrote down yesterday; this is what it should be," and would correct a lot of the stylistic inconsistencies as well as some of the awkwardness of the language. So I think it is even more important to understand how these early chapters were written. Beginning with Chapter 6, you can almost feel the text moving into a higher gear in terms of its language and clarity of expression.
The important point is that right at the beginning, it was not really straight dictation. It was as if Jesus were having an ongoing conversation with Helen, where he would say things and Helen would ask him questions or he would anticipate questions in her mind. A lot of the earlier conversations had to do with helping Helen and Bill integrate this material with their own professional backgrounds as well as their personal lives.
As all of us know, we talk one way when we are having an informal conversation, and express ourselves quite another way when we write things down. I know from my own experience, when I talk to people informally or in my office I will talk one way, and not pay too much attention to what I am saying -- whether the words are consistent with other things I have said. When I am writing a book or an article, it is much different. Then I am much more careful. I think that this is exactly the situation that occurred in those early weeks, as can be seen especially in the first four chapters. This explains, I think, why there are certain inconsistencies in how the text expresses itself in the beginning chapters, and why much of the writing seems awkward and surely not on the same high literary level as the rest of the material. Certainly, also, a lot of the personal material which Helen had written down was not meant for the general public and had to be taken out. It was really meant only for her and for Bill. So, again, this would explain why there is a certain awkwardness in the writing.
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