A Course in Miracles - Original Edition

The Hidden Original Edition - A More Creative Approach


In my experience, the long hidden original edition of A Course in Miracles expresses a more creative, poetic, flowing, intuitive understanding of the struggles between ego and soul than the blue jacketed, edited version of ACIM that most of us are familiar with.


* A Course in Miracles-Original Edition - also referred to as ACIM OE, the Original Edition, was first published in 2006 by Course in Miracles Society - a non-profit organization, located in Omaha, Nebraska, which was established in 2000 for the sole purpose of publishing the Original Edition. The Original Edition presents "A Course In Miracles" as originally intended and edited by Helen Schucman and William Thetford, the originators.


The Original Edition is the edition that was produced by Bill Thetford and Helen Schucman after they went through the original typing (called the UrText) that Bill had produced from Helen's reading of her notes. Bill Thetford believed this edit of the Urtext, the now named Original Edition, to be the final edition. He also believed that his work with A Course In Miracles (ACIM) was completed. The original edition was sent to several people, and to Hugh Lynn Cayce at the Association For Research and Enlightenment (ARE) in Virginia. It was put into the ARE Library.


Some time later, Ken Wapnick was given a copy of this first edition. After Ken Wapnick read it, he convinced Bill and Helen that more editing was necessary. Bill did not take part in this subsequent editing. It was done solely by Helen and Ken. After this second editing, a commercially available version of ACIM was produced and began being sold in 1976 by the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP). This is the version that early students were exposed to, and for many years it was the only version most students knew of. In 1999 the FIP transfered ownership of the ACIM copyright to the Foundation for ACIM (FACIM) Ken Wapnick's organization.


In 1996, a copyright law suit ensued. During this time the earlier "original edition" was discovered at the ARE library. Contrary to a popular belief, this version proved to be quite different from the version most people knew of. However, shortly after the original edition was published the FIP/FACIM started legal action to block its distribution. After the copyright lawsuit was settled in 2003 the Original Course In Miracles was again distributed. A couple of years later the book was republished and this time named A Course In Miracles Original Edition.


The ACIM Original Edition contains much material that is not in the Foundation for Inner Peace/Ken Wapnick edition, and it is longer. There is extensive material relating to Freud. There are 53 Miracles Principles instead of 50. Its teaching on the world seems different. The distinction between "make" and "create" is not so pronounced and consistent. There is more mention of "the soul."


The Editing of the Original Edition


It seems clear that in pursuing a publisher, Schucman and Thetford originally intended the 1972 manuscript to be A Course in Miracles, which is known today as A Course in Miracles-Original Edition. However, in 1973 Ken Wapnick, a clinical psychologist who had joined their small circle and had only recently received a copy of the 1972 manuscript, expressed his belief that additional editing was needed. In the fall of 1973 Helen Schucman and Ken Wapnick began to edit the entire manuscript, line by line, word by word which took about one year. Thetford, who did not wish to be a part of this project, withdrew and moved to California.


Along with changes in paragraphing, punctuation, capitalization, and section titles, there was a great deal of line-by-line editing. In addition, about one-fifth of the material in the first five chapters was removed. Finally, a new section, the Clarification of Terms, was added. The resulting edition, published in 1975 by the Foundation for Inner Peace [FIP], became the only edition of A Course in Miracles that world would become familiar with for 24 years.


In contrast, A Course in Miracles – Original Edition is the manuscript that was given to Hugh Lynn Cayce and the A.R.E. by Helen and Bill before meeting Ken Wapnick and before further editing occurred. The existence of this manuscript was only discovered 24 years later, after the initial publication of the edited manuscript by FIP. The discovery of this earlier manuscript came to light inadvertently due to a 1996 copyright infringement court case brought by Foundation for Inner Peace, the copyright holder and Penguin Books, against a spiritual community.


One of the litigants in the court case mentioned having seen this manuscript in the A.R.E. library. The manuscript was located, copied, digitized and placed by anonymous parties onto the internet. It is often referred to as the HLC, for Hugh Lynn Cayce. [NOTE: This referral was also used by Helen, Bill and Ken, in the early years, referring to the manuscript given to Cayce and before this document was discovered in 1999.


This digitized document of the 1972 manuscript found in the A.R.E. library is known today as A Course in Miracles-Original Edition. The discovered manuscript, which only contained the Text, was published briefly by CIMS in 2000 before receiving a ‘Temporary Restraining Order”. It would take several years before the copyright infringement case were settled in 2004 and the copyright on all prior renditions of A Course in Miracles deemed null and void. After that time, CIMS was free to continue to publish A Course in Miracles – Original Edition.


The Original Manuscript


In its continuing evolution, A Course in Miracles-Original Edition faithfully reproduces the original transcript of the book that was the result of the collaboration between Schucman and Thetford, whom many believe were involved with each other in the “holy relationship” described in Chapters 17 through 22 of the Text. This edition preserves the original language of the dictation of those chapters, which were addressed to the two collaborators as they worked together to produce the manuscript. Later editing of the manuscript [removal of 25% of the first five chapters] changed the focus of these important chapters and addresses them to a solitary reader, removing the mutuality that is explicit in the original dictation.


The additional editing by Helen and Ken resulted both in shifts of meaning and a change in the over-all tone of the work. In contrast, when encountering Schucman and Thetford’s Original Edition, students often find fresh clarity as they read its wording or new understanding as they encounter passages that were not included in the later 1975 edition. In the case of editing, it seems that the “less-is-best” rule applies—the less tampering with the eloquent and carefully worded dictation that Schucman received, the better. In fact, from Chapter 27 in the Text onward, Helen Schucman's notes show the demarcation for iambic pentameter.  This cadence is also found in all of the lessons from Lesson 100 onward.


* Excepts above are from Wikipedia and the Community Miracles Center


Helen Schucman's Relationshop to ACIM


Excerpts from Absence From Felicity by Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.


It is difficult indeed to describe Helen's relationship with A Course in Miracles. That it aroused tremendous anxiety in her goes with saying, that she fought with it tooth and nail and determinedly chose, in the end, not to practice its teachings, was also, for her, painfully true. Nonetheless, there remained that part of Helen's mind that cared deeply about the Course and what happened to it.


There was thus a maternal aspect to Helen's relationship to the Course, wherein she watched over its birth and infancy with the same care and concern a mother has for her child. I remember one day, shortly after the Course's publication, we were discussing the inevitable process of popularization and distortion that was already beginning to occur. Helen lowered her face between her hands, plaintively whispering: "My poor course; my poor course."


Clearly admitting - to herself and to others - her inability to integrate the teachings into her own life, Helen's ego had little tolerance for hypocritical stance of others who believed that they had understood and mastered the Course's profound message, nor who presented its inspired teachings in a superficial manner. Believing that A Course in Miracles was for a very few who would be able really to understand its message and successfully integrate its teachings into their lives, Helen knew the great difficulty the material would present to the world.


It was clear to her that people's fearful egos would seek to prevent acceptance of the Course's radical message of forgiveness and truth. It therefore pained Helen in the very early years of publication to witness what was happening with the Course; however, she was not on the other hand, able to assume a role of spiritual leadership.


Yet despite the tremendous level of fear which led her to hold tenaciously on to the ego thought system, and her self-hatred over not being able to choose again--for God instead of the ego--Helen's underlying integrity allowed her to remain faithful to the course and her function, albeit in her own "lop-sided" way. Helen's ego was such that she always had to be center-stage. Her dominant and compelling personality made it practically impossible for people in her presence not to have a strong reaction to her, positively or negatively. She was not one that others could easily ignore.


Part of Helen's mind realized that such a situation regarding A Course in Miracles would have been a disaster, for it would have shifted people's focus from the inner Teacher to an external figure, a process of specialness directly antithetic to the Course's message of equality and unity. 


Thus, because it did not seem possible for her to remain involved with the Course without her ego, I believe that on another level she chose to get out of the Course's way, rather than "contaminate" it with her ego's need to dominate. Her eventual physical and emotional deterioration was the ultimate expression of this "getting out of its way." Therefore, to the end, as best she could, Helen demonstrated a remarkable integrity in preserving the purity of A Course in Miracles and her role with it.


Judith Skutch recalls a time when she was sitting with an unresponsive Helen who suddenly turned to Judy and said, “Do you know why I’m dying? … “it’s to get out of its way.”