WILLIAM THETFORD, Ph.D.: 
FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE OF HELEN SCHUCMAN
IN THE SCRIBING OF

A COURSE IN MIRACLES

INTERVIEW, PART 3

 

NR:   There has been some speculation that you and Helen edited the Course.  Did you?

THETFORD:   No.  Bear in mind that at the beginning we didnít know exactly what was happening.  So we asked questions of a personal nature and recorded the answers that Helen would receive.  I would type these answers as part of the continuous process, no distinguishing them from the inner dictation that Helen was recording in her shorthand notebook.  Later, when we realized that this material was obviously not a part of the Course itself, we did, indeed, delete it.  It is true there has been editing of capitalization, punctuation, paragraphing and section titles in the Text.  However, these changes were minor and the Workbook and the Manual for Teachers also appear exactly as they were taken down by Helen.

NR:   Could you give an example of the personal material you deleted?

THETFORD:   Oh, there were questions like, ďIs there anything that we should be doing that would increase our ability to meditate better?Ē  There was also some commentary on psychological theories that got introduced as an intellectual digression at the beginning, which had nothing to do with the Course itself.

NR:   Briefly, what do you think the Courseís purpose is?

THETFORD:   To help us change our minds about who we are and what God is, and to help us let go, through forgiveness, our belief in the reality of our separation from God.  Learning how to forgive ourselves and others is really the fundamental teaching of the Course.  The Course teaches us how to know ourselves and how to unlearn all of those things which interfere with our recognition of who we are and always have been.

NR:  Why do you think it was named "A Course in Miracles"?  Why not a Course in Love or Forgiveness or Truth?

THETFORD:   For good reason, we realized later.  I do remember, however, when Helen called me that memorable night and said an inner voice was dictating to her which kept repeating, ďThis is a course in miracles, please take notes.Ē  At the time, I certainly didnít respond positively to that title.  However, when you get into the Course and then into the definition of what a miracle is, it does make sense.  In fact, itís the only appropriate name for the Course.

NR:  And a miracle is . . .

THETFORD:  I think a miracle is the love that sustains the universe.  Itís the shift in perception that removes the barriers or obstacles to our awareness of loveís presence in our lives.

The Course also tells us that there is no order of difficulty in miracles - one is not more difficult than another, since the expression of love is always maximal.

NR:  What was your reaction as a psychologist when the Course presented you with the concept that there are only two emotions: love and fear?

THETFORD:  I remember very distinctly typing that section, where it says, ďYou have but two emotions, fear and love, one you made and one was given you.Ē  And I remember thinking that concept really takes care of the whole psychological problem of different emotional states.  And itís true, for example, that anger is imply an expression of fear in action.  I canít get angry unless I first feel threatened in some way, which means Iím afraid.  Love is really the only other emotion that exists, and it simplified things greatly to recognize this as a fact.

NR:   And what is love by your definition, the kind of love being referred to here?

THETFORD:   Very simply, love is the absence of fear.  You might also say that fear is the absence of love.  Love and fear cannot co-exist at the same time, although most of us try to live as if they can.  We try to balance a little fear with a little love, and hope that we can know the difference.  Yet when we let go of fear for an instant, love is automatically there.   It isnít something we have to figure out or look for, love simply is.

Itís very much like the sun which is hidden by clouds on a foggy day.  Although we canít see the sun, we know it is there.  The moment the fog lifts we can see it.  Such is the case for us, too, the moment we can stop our fearful thoughts we can accept the love and light which is always there.

NR:   That pretty much entails trust itís there always, yet it seems weíre often brought to a place, almost a precipice, and asked to step out, with faith itís still there.  Thatís real hard to do, or to muster up the trust to do.

THETFORD:  I frequently refer to that in my own life as ďcelestial brinkmanshipĒ - when weíre out there walking the plank, not knowing whatís going to happen next.  But how else can we increase our awareness of our God given potential if we donít take the plunge into the unknown?

I think all of us have to be at least partially willing to try to find out if there is a different and better way to live, otherwise we will simply persevere in the same old patterns of our lives.

NR:  The Course also distinguishes between the ego and the Self in other than conventional terms.  What was your reaction to this as a psychologist?

THETFORD:   The term ďegoĒ as used in the Course refers to our surface or false self, which identifies with the body as its outward form of expression. This ego-body identification is the self we made as contrasted with the spiritual Self which God shares with us.  The ego is really our belief in a self separate from God.  The projection of this thought of separateness gives rise to a world of form.  The ego believes that this phenomenal world exists independently, although it has not existence apart from the split mind that projected it.

NR:   One of the most provocative concepts the Course presents is that this world is illusory, not real, and that God is really not invested in it.  That God is only invested and concerned for us, not our things, and itís we who value them, not God.  Thatís a very difficult concept to grasp and deal with, isnít it?

THETFORD: Yes indeed.  Itís a challenge and problem for all of us.  But as you know, many twentieth century physicists have written extensively on the implications of quantum mechanics for mysticism and mystical thought.

Ken Wilber has recently edited a book entitled, Quantum Questions which deals with the issue of physical reality and mystical experiences in the writings of Einstein, Heisenburg, Edington, Schroedinger and a number of Nobel Prize-winning physicists.  Wilber points out that all of these remarkable scientists developed a transcendental or mystical view of the world.  While modern physics does not prove that mysticism is true, it does remove any major theoretical blocks to the possibility of spiritual reality.  In effect, the solid material universe has dissolved into a series of abstract mathematical equations.

The point here is that many physicists view the material world in the same was that the Course does; that this world is illusory since physical matter is no longer understandable in terms of our sensory awareness.  Somehow we are perceiving something that isnít there, and it is our perception of it which gives it reality.  The question then becomes what is the nature of the sustaining power which lies behind all forms?

The Courseís emphasis on changing or shifting perception applies to everything in our lives, not simply the external universe, and most particularly to our relationships - the way we look at ourselves and others.  As we shift this perception, or rather as we shift our attitudes from fear to love, from guilt to total acceptance, then what we see as the limited, bounded universe also shifts.

Anything that is perishable is seen as an illusion, and anything that is eternal is true knowledge and comes from God.  The Courseís goal, then, is to enable us to shift our perception to the point where God can take us to the realm of knowledge.  Its immediate purpose is to help us remove the obstacles to our awareness of loveís presence in our daily lives, which is what the miracle is all about.  When we begin to recognize and accept the presence of Godís love in our lives, many of these other questions that we raise simply disappear.  They no longer seem relevant, because theyíre questions the ego asks based upon the perception of a limited, bounded universe.


INTERVIEW WITH THETFORD, Part 4 =>
 

Also Read about Dr. William Thetford and the CIA
 
 


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