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A Course in Miracles or in Brainwashing? 

By: Ali Sina

A Course in Miracles [ACIM] is a religious sect created by research psychologist Helen Schucman who claimed Jesus dictated A Course in Miracles ACIM to her. The essence ACIM is allegedly love and forgiveness. 

For some unexplained reason Jesus did not appear in person to give his message of love to everyone or at least to a group of people so everyone is confirmed that we are not dealing with an impostor but chose to dictate his Course in Miracles to just one individual, Helen Schucman who compiled ACIM  and made it available to mankind, leaving all of us in doubt of her credibility, honesty and truthfulness -- a terrible mistake on the part of Jesus, that can only lead to confusion.

This article is a study of "A Course in Miracles" and its evaluation in the light of reason.  Here is what Hellen Schucman the founder of the A Course in Miracles wrote: 

Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.
(T-Intro 2:1,2,3,4)  [1]
 

Let us test the claim of Schucman and ACIM by the litmus of reason. If it is real then nothing can threaten it.  

Critical thinking  

Humans are born free. The greatest freedom we have is the freedom of thought. Followers cannot be freethinkers. Only sheep need follow. Rational humans are supposed to think and make their choices independently. The choices that we make must be based on logics. We are free to believe in anything we want, but to be rational we have to be able to prove our beliefs. As humans we have to be rational thinkers because the antithesis to rational thinking is irrational thinking.  

Beliefs are either true or they are false. True beliefs can be defended with logics and as Schucman said nothing can threaten them. False beliefs cannot be defended logically. People who love the truth are not afraid of scrutiny of their beliefs. They care more about the truth and if they find what they believe is false they will abandon it. People with false beliefs are afraid to talk because they cannot defend them logically and hence avoid discussions. They are filled with fear and insecurity.  

One definition of critical thinking is as follow:

“Thinking critically – reflecting on the assumptions underlying our and others’ ideas and actions, and contemplating alternative ways of thinking and living – is one of the important ways in which we become adults. When we think critically, we come to our judgments, choices and decisions for ourselves, instead of letting others do this on our own behalf. We refuse to relinquish the responsibility for making the choices that determine our individual and collective futures to those who presume to know what is in our best interests. We become actively engaged in creating our personal and social worlds.” [2

Another definition is:

“Just what do we do when we're thinking critically? To think critically is to think clearly, accurately and fairly while evaluating the reasons for accepting some belief or taking some action. The goal of thinking critically is simple: to guarantee, as far as possible, that one's beliefs and actions are justifiable and can withstand the test of rational analysis. To achieve this goal one must rigorously scrutinize one's own beliefs and actions as well as the beliefs and actions of others.” [3

Let us evaluate and test with reason the claims of Hellen Schucman to see whether her claims about A Course in Miracles are true.

 

Feel Good Factor:

Before going into that let us talk about the “feel good factor”. The feel good factor is subjective and it must not be taken as a valid argument in defense of any belief. People who follow any cult or religion do so because it makes them feel good. They think they have found the truth and they are very happy with their findings. But of course some of those beliefs are very dangerous. The followers of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed mass suicide because they thought an extraterrestrial ship hiding in the tail of the comet Hailey is going to take them to Heaven. They murdered themselves happily. The followers of Aum sect poisoned people in the subways of Tokyo believing that this will liberate their victims from the painful cycle of birth and death and take them to their nirvana. They committed murder of innocent people happily and with clear conscience. The same is true in the case of the terrorists of the September 11. So the feel good factor must be discarded at once because it is extremely misleading. The fact that a belief makes you feel good is no proof that it is true. That feel good factor is subjective and could be false.   

 

How It All Started.

Now, let us take a quick look at the genesis of A Course in Miracles. Hellen Schucman was a research psychologist, an atheist and ethnically a Jew. She claimed receiving revelations from Jesus in the form of dictations. She wrote:  

“Although I had grown more accustomed to the unexpected by that time, I was still very surprised when I wrote, "This is a course in miracles." That was my introduction to the Voice. It made no sound, but seemed to be giving me a kind of rapid, inner dictation which I took down in a shorthand notebook.” [4]  

Did she give any proof for that claim?… Absolutely none. She expects people to believe in her claim and take her for her words. How could we know that she told the truth?  

Did she really hear voices? If so then could it be that she was schizophrenic? Schizophrenics hear voices in their heads and those voices are real to them. They also are obsessed with religion and God.   

Or perhaps all that started as an experiment. Think about it! Schucman was a research psychologist; she was into experiments on minds, she did not believe in God, therefore she did not have any qualms or fear of God for misleading people and lying about Him and she decided to test the gullibility of human beings. She invents a religion using Christian terminology to target the Christians, even though she did not believe in Christianity. Why Christians only? Aren’t the rest of people children of God too? 

 

The Jewish Influence:  

As I said Hellen Schucman was a Jew. Not surprisingly the religion that she invented reflects the Jewish concepts of Christianity. In A Course in Miracles Christ is not the Son of God but one of his many sons. Schucman denied the exclusive station that the Christians attribute to Jesus and claimed that he was an enlightened person and that all humans as sons of God who can reach the station of Christhood if they evolve or “mutate” spiritually. This concept of course is not Christian but Buddhist.  

George P. Walmsley, Jr. in the Miracles Study - An Introduction writes:  

The time was the fall of 1965; the place was New York City, and these words infiltrated the mind of a hard-nosed, Ph.D, research psychologist by the name of Helen Schucman. She would become the scribe of, "The Course", learning that the identity of the voice she was hearing was none-other than, Jesus, yet quite different from the one Christianity would exalt to the status of, "The Only Begotten Son of God." This time, Jesus would identify himself as our elder brother - identifying us all as Christ, and part of the same Sonship to which he belongs. It is this Jesus that is the author of, A Course in Miracles - the same Jesus Helen had a love/hate relationship with for a good part of her life. [5]  

In Chapter 3 of A Course in Miracles Schucman denied also the crucifixion. That is strange since the crucifixion is expressly stated in all the four books of the evangels. So why would Schucman deny it? The answer again is that she was a Jew. Jews deny the crucifixion. They never accepted the responsibility. Schucman grew up being influenced by Jewish propaganda. Even though later she became an atheist, Judaism was the foundation of her education. Therefore it was natural for her to implement her own beliefs into her self-made religion than accept what is written in the New Testament. A Course in Miracles states:  

“T-3.I.1.   A further point must be perfectly clear before any residual fear still associated with miracles can disappear. 2 The crucifixion did not establish the Atonement; the resurrection did. 3 Many sincere Christians have misunderstood this. 4 No one who is free of the belief in scarcity could possibly make this mistake. 5 If the crucifixion is seen from an upside-down point of view, it does appear as if God permitted and even encouraged one of His Sons to suffer because he was good. 6 This particularly unfortunate interpretation, which arose out of projection, has led many people to be bitterly afraid of God. 7 Such anti-religious concepts enter into many religions. 8 Yet the real Christian should pause and ask, "How could this be?" 9 Is it likely that God Himself would be capable of the kind of thinking which His Own words have clearly stated is unworthy of His Son?” [6]

 

Making Room For Non Christians  

Most people are gullible. Some started believing in her. As a matter of fact it makes no difference what you preach. There are always people who are credulous enough to believe in you. What started as an experiment, (assuming it was not schizophrenia) eventually took the shape of a religion when followers flocked in. At this point Schucman had the choice to come clean and say it was just a hoax folk, or continue. What would have happened if she had told the truth? She would have angered many people who had fallen for her lies. So she decided to continue and stir her foolhardy followers to what she thought would be the best. We should not overlook the ego factor either. As a human she must also have ravished in her newfound popularity and respect that she received from her followers. Power is ecstasy.   

The experiment worked. It always works. Bertrand Russell in "Marriage and Morals" observes:  

"The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible." 

Russell had it right. The majority of humanity is just silly. And silly people are easy to fleece. Now that she had the Christians hooked, she decided to accommodate others and make room for non-Christians as well.   

One of the most prominent figures in the Course is the ex singer Marianne Williamson. She authored a book called A Return To Love. In the page 41 of that book she wrote: "A Course In Miracles does not push Jesus. Although the books come from him, it is made very clear that you can be an advanced student of the Course and not relate personally to him at all."  

Now that is bizarre! How can one believe in a teaching while rejecting the teacher’s authority? This can only be interpreted as intellectual dishonesty and the desire to promote A Course in Miracles at any cost. 

 

The Doctrine of Illusion:  

A Course in Miracles sums up: 

 There is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven life is illusion. At best it seems like life; at worst, like death. (T-23.II.19:all) [7]

In other words what you and I experience here is noting but illusion. Living and dying, are just good and bad dreams.  

Among other absurd teachings of the Course we learn that “Real life is only Mind, but the body is a lifeless illusion and God did not make the body” 

“ The body neither lives nor dies, because it cannot contain you who are life. …God did not make the body, because it is destructible, and therefore not of the Kingdom. (T-6.V.A.1:all) & (T-6.V.A.2:1) [8]

So who made the body?  

Even if we believe in this absurdity, there is nothing new in that. This is the Berkley’s idealism. According to Berkeley's principal metaphysical position “nothing, including material objects, exists apart from perception; external objects are ultimately collections of ideas and sensations.” [9]  

As we see Schucman is preparing a cocktail of already existing ideas. Nothing taught in A Course in Miracles is new and therefore no revelation was needed to tell us humans what we already knew and some of which we already discarded as false.  

Further, on the subject of illusion Schucman writes:

"Once an individual has been caught in the world of perception he is caught in a dream. He cannot escape without help, because everything his senses show him merely witnesses to the reality of the dream" (A Course In Miracles: What Is It?, p. 7). [10]  

The reality compared to a “dream” is a borrowed concept from Daoism. The book of Zhuangzi narrates:  

“One day about sunset, Zhuangzi dozed off and dreamed that he turned into a butterfly. 
He flapped his wings and sure enough he was a butterfly.
What a joyful feeling as he fluttered about, he completely forgot that he was Zhuangzi. 

Soon though, he realized that that proud butterfly was really Zhuangzi who dreamed he was a butterfly, or was it a butterfly who dreamed he was Zhuangzi!

Maybe Zhuangzi was the butterfly, and maybe the butterfly was Zhungzi?”
 [11]

In this story, the Chinese philosopher is trying to say that the world is an illusion. The concept of the illusory world therefore predated the "revelation" of A Course in Miracles by at least 2500 years in China and even more in India. It was already thought by sages who were not prophets and did not claim to have received any revelations. Did God learn this concept from humans?   

The question arises, if the world is just a dream and every thing is just an illusion, what should we do to wake up.  

Kenneth Wapnick, one of the key players of A Course in Miracles explains:

"If we now attempt to follow the Holy Spirit's thinking, and we want to prove that the world is not real and that the sin of separation never happened, all that is needed is to prove that sin has no effect.

"If we could prove that the cause had no effect then the cause can no longer exist. If something is not a cause it is not real, because everything that is real must be a cause and thus have an effect. If we remove the effect we are also eliminating the cause.” [12]

The absurdity of these statements are self-evident. Wapnick is not suggesting to remove the sin but to pretend that sin has no effect. So if one is a victim of a crime all he has to do is to pretend that the crime never happened and therefore he cannot be harmed by it. What if the victim is dead? What if the victim loses a limb, an eye or becomes wheelchair bound? What about the survivors of the dead victim? Should they just pretend that the crime has never happened and their loved one is among them? Could they?  

 Wapnick continues:

"Now, if the greatest effect of sin in this world is death, demonstrating that death is an illusion simultaneously demonstrates that there is no sin.”  [13]

Shucman is dead. Is that our illusion or is it hers? Could we tell a mother who has lost a child, oh don’t cry you are just having an illusion? 

 

Heaven

Schucman makes startling statements such as: 

"There is no need for help to enter Heaven for you have never left. But there is need for help beyond yourself as you are circumscribed by false beliefs of your Identity, Which God alone established in reality.  (C-5.1:1-3)  [14]  

According to the above, Man is still in heaven. It is simply the illusion of sin and death that have caused false senses of reality.  Therefore all these wars, crimes, calamities, pains and sufferings are figments of our imagination and are not real.  

 

Evil  

A Course in Miracles also teaches that evil does not exist. It is an illusion that must be overcome by right thinking.  

"Innocence is wisdom because it is unaware of evil, and evil does not exist." [T33/38] [15]  

According to the Course pain and suffering are illusory. They are only in the imagination of the person who is suffering.

“YOU are the dreamer of the world. You, singularly and individually (but not personally as a separate entity, as that "you" is illusory), are dreaming the entire universe of pain and suffering, sickness and death." [16]

Is that true? If we stop “dreaming” about terrorism, wars or the natural disasters do they go away?  As I understand from this explanation, you are responsible for all the evil things going on in your world because you are dreaming them. So all you have to do is stop dreaming and your world will become a paradise. Looks like according to this doctrine each one of us is the writer and the director of this universe. A universe that exists nowhere but in our own minds. All we have to do is to change our dreams and the world will change accordingly.  

The more we read the more we realize A Course in Miracles is a course in stupidity, a course in absurdity, in brainwashing, in fantasies and in self-deceptions.  But the stupidity does not end there. 

 

On Sin  

A Course in Miracles states:

"4. No one is punished for sins, and the Sons of God are not sinners. 5. Any concept of punishment involves the projection of blame, and reinforces the idea that blame is justified. " [T-6.I.16] [17]

This is absurd. Sin means transgression of a divine law. Those who transgress are sinners. And if there is a divine justice the sinners and non-sinners cannot be treated both equally. Hitler cannot sit next to Gandhi and enjoy the same privileges or the divine Justice becomes meaningless. If we survive our deaths, as A Course in Miracles states, would it be just if a criminal is not blamed for his crimes? Are we humans not responsible for our actions?  

Another disturbing deduction of this philosophy is that since “Sons of God are not sinners” and pain and suffering are only illusions, a rapist is not guilty but his victim is. He is not to be blamed because as the son of God he can't commit sin, but she is guilty for imagining all that pain and suffering. The pain is not caused by the aggressor but is the cause of the separation of the victim from God. It boggles the mind to think that otherwise intelligent people would let themselves be fooled by this much asininity.  

 

A Loving Truth? 

A Course in Miracles teaches that there are no absolutes; truth is relative and is determined by one's experience. According to the Cyclopedia In A Course In Miracles, "only what is loving is true."  

This is yet another intellectual fallacy. Truth is the state of being factual. It is neither loving nor cruel. Truth is bereft of feelings. 2+2=4. This is a true statement. To be loving or not has no relevance on the outcome of truth. Truth must be factual. If it is not factual it is not true. Love is subjective. It has nothing to do with facts. One can love anther person believing him to be his father. That belief could be untrue but that love is real. What we are seeing here are vague talks that have no meaning whatsoever. Mixing love and truth together is like adding apples and crocodiles. 

 

The Sources of the Revelation: 

Much of what Hellen Schucman claimed to be revelations dictated to her by Jesus are actually taken from Eastern philosophies. “All ways lead to God” is a Hindu concept that is incorporated in the Course. Also Hinduism teaches that the world and all that is in it is Maya, or illusion. Looks like the Jesus that dictated to Schucman had a crash course on Hinduism and plagiarized many of their concepts.  

“Hinduism considers the world in which we live as a projection of God and unreal. It is unreal not because it does not exist, but because it is unstable, impermanent, unreliable and illusory.” [18]  

 

The Revelation’s Earlier Versions:  

Even though Schucman claimed that A Course in Miracles was dictated to her by Jesus, an unedited, earlier version of that book has surfaced – with a number of key differences between it and her final version. Some Internet sites have published that version and this has caused some legal fight between the Foundation for A Course In Miracles who claims to have the copyright to Schucman’s writings and the sites who say the words of Jesus are not copyrightable. [19]  

The point is who decided to revise and edit the words of Jesus?

Kenneth and Gloria Wapnick, the executive directors of the Foundation For A Course in Miracles [FACIM] of Roscoe, N.Y., which holds the book's copyright, say the early manuscript is nothing but a rough draft. On February 19, 2000, Ken told the Salt Lake Tribune

"A lot of changes had to be made because Helen's hearing was not all that good," he said. "The early material was not polished or well-written and had a number of inconsistencies." [20] 

But didn’t Helen Schucman say that the voice did not make any sound? In that case her hearing abilities are irrelevant. She heard those "internal dictations" in her head. She could have been deaf for that matter and hear the voice.  

Kenneth Wapnick wrote:  

“Helen took down her internal dictation in stenographic notebooks, using her own version of shorthand, and dictated these notes to Bill. Helen intentionally omitted some material while dictating to Bill, who typed Helen's dictation.” [21]

In her unpublished autobiography Hellen makes a startling statement that she wanted to change the whole manuscript:

"I wanted to change just about everything, but I knew  that Bill was right.  Any changes I made were always wrong in the long run, and had to be put back." [22]

Bill Thetford was an associate of Hellen Schucman who helped her in the compilation of A Course in Miracles. Weather she actually made the changes or not we don't know. Maybe she did and disclaimed it just to make appear that the script is authentic transcript of what the voice had dictated. However what is revealing is her admission that she wanted to change everything. Why would she want to change everything if the script was not hers but belonged to Jesus? The very fact that she had this itch to revise the early version makes us suspect that the book is entirely hers and just like any other writer she wanted to go back and do some editing. If she believed that those words were from Jesus, would she allow herself the thought to revise them? She could be a psychologist but still she made the same stupid mistakes that others make, which exposed her lies. Under this light I discard the hypothesis that Hellen Schucman was schizophrenic who really heard voices. It appears that she was a plain and simple charlatan who never received any dictations and knew perfectly that she is fooling the gullible.   

 

Brainwashing:

The course uses a standard technique of brainwashing, which is mindless parroting and repetition. The "Workbook for Students" consists of 365 lessons, an exercise for each day of the year. This one-year training program begins the process of changing the student's mind and perception. " (Preface: ix) [23]  

In the introduction to the course it states:   

“Some of the ideas the workbook presents you will find hard to believe, and others may seem to be quite startling. This does not matter. You are merely asked to apply the ideas as you are directed to do. You are not asked to judge them at all. You are asked only to use them. It is their use that will give them meaning to you, and will show you that they are true.  [24]

It would be foolhardy to deny that as a psychologist Schucman did not know this is the way to brainwash people. Using this method, you do not need to explain anything. People will eventually believe just by doing repetitive constant exercises. This is exactly the process children are indoctrinated by their parents. Children do not question the validity of the beliefs and practices of their parents. They simply emulate them and eventually those beliefs and customs become part of their own belief system. Schucman demands that you relinquish your rational thinking and submit to her like a sheep.  

A Course in Miracles continues: 

“Remember only this; you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. But do not allow yourself to make exceptions in applying the ideas the workbook contains, and whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them. Nothing more than that is required (Workbook, p. 2).” [25] 

These are nothing but established and proven techniques of mind control. It is saddening that otherwise intelligent people allow themselves consciously to be brainwashed.  

The Course claims to be the third book of the Bible. However there is nothing new in it. The book is a concoction of Eastern and Judeo-Christian philosophies. Most of the writings are senseless and tautological. It contains vague statements that give the impression of conveying the truth. The book however contains no truth unknown to the average man but it burdens him with a lot of nonsense.  

A Course in Miracles is an industry to make money. Some famous personages such as Oprah Winfrey may have possibly accepted this belief and hence it has become popular amongst some TV. Personages. Oprah in one of her shows bought 1000 copies of A Course in Miracles and gave it to her guests. However, Oprah cannot be ranked amongst the intellectuals of the society. I am not sure whether she has a college degree. Oprah is a good show woman, but not an intellectual. It is disappointing that people take movie stars, singers and showmen as their source of guidance and not the philosophers, and thinkers.   

A Course in Miracles is a hoax. It teaches no new wisdom unknown to man. It is just an industry to sell books and make money. It is absurd to think God would communicate with humans in this way. Again as Bertrand Russell stated: "It is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatsoever for supposing it to be true." And there is absolutely no ground whatsoever to believe in the proposition that Hellen Schucman heard the voice of a man who died 2000 years earlier.  

Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R. is a psychologist who was an acquaintance of Hellen Schucman.  He gave a eulogy at her funeral. Fr. Groeschel wrote: 

"This woman who had written so eloquently that suffering really did not exist spent the last two years of her life in the blackest psychotic depression I have ever witnessed."  [26]  

Who knows! Maybe that psychotic depression was the result of her awareness of being a hoax and her pang of conscience for  defrauding people. Something she could not easily get out or. 

A related article

 

Related Link: http://skepdic.com/cim.html


References: 

[1]  http://a-course-in-miracles.cc/

[2] (S.D.Brookfield. (1987). Developing Critical Thinkers, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass) 

[3] http://skepdic.com/ch1samp.html

[4] http://a-course-in-miracles.cc/

[5] http://www.alphaxomega.com/Miracles/ACIMINTR.htm

[6]  http://www.unitedbeings.com/acim/Chapter%203.htm

[7]  http://www.pyramus.com/acim/WcompanionL8.htm

[8] ibid

[9] http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/b/berkeley.htm

[10] http://www.forthrt.com/~chronicl/archdec9/review.htm

[11] http://www.chinapage.com/chungtz2.html

[12]  http://www.letusreason.org/BookR3.htm

[13]  ibid

[14]  http://www.unitedbeings.com/acim/Clarification%20of%20terms.htm

[15] http://www.miracles.org.nz/zing09.htm

[16]  www.miracles.org.nz/simple.htm

[17] http://www.unitedbeings.com/acim/Chapter%206.htm

[18] http://hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/h_maya.htm

[19]  http://www.apologeticsindex.org/news/an200219.html#19

[20]  http://www.neirr.org/cimnews.htm

[21] http://www.miraclestudies.net/HLV.html

[22]  www.jcim.net/Dthompson_faq.htm

[23] www.acim.org/about_acim_section/intro_to_acim.html

[24]  http://64.77.6.149/about_acim_section/what_it_is.html

[25] ibid

[26] (Page 79 of, "A Still, Small Voice, A Practical Guide On Reported Revelations", by Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R., Ignatius Press 1993) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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