History of A Course in Miracles

The following is an elaboration of ideas found in our ACIM Question and Answer #1. What is ACIM? For a more basic overview, start there.


A Course in Miracles is a self-study spiritual teaching and program with the aim of bringing the learner to Self-realization as eternal spirit – the fundamental goal of all spiritual paths. This teaching is a proven method of restoring personal communication directly with the One Source of all that ever is, was, and will be. It provides a theoretical framework as well as a 365-day mind training program to guide learners in attaining this goal.

The content of A Course in Miracles is presented in the three sections:

  • Textbook
  • Workbook
  • Manual for Teachers

See What ACIM Teaches for a deeper look.

adapted from Wikipedia

Early History

A Course in Miracles began with the sudden decision of two people to join in a common goal. Their names were Helen Schucman and William Thetford, Professors of Medical Psychology at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. They were anything but spiritual. Their relationship with each other was difficult and often strained, and they were concerned with personal and professional acceptance and status. In general, they had considerable investment in the values of the world. Their lives were hardly in accord with anything that the Course advocates. Helen, the one who received the material, describes herself:

Psychologist, educator, conservative in theory and atheistic in belief, I was working in a prestigious and highly academic setting. And then something happened that triggered a chain of events I could never have predicted. The head of my department unexpectedly announced that he was tired of the angry and aggressive feelings our attitudes reflected, and concluded that, "there must be another way." As if on cue I agreed to help him find it. Apparently this Course is the other way.

Three startling months preceded the actual writing, during which time Bill suggested that I write down the highly symbolic dreams and descriptions of the strange images that were coming to me. 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. The writing was never automatic. It could be interrupted at any time and later picked up again. It made me very uncomfortable, but it never seriously occurred to me to stop. It seemed to be a special assignment I had somehow, somewhere agreed to complete. It represented a truly collaborative venture between Bill and myself, and much of its significance, I am sure, lies in that. I would take down what the Voice "said" and read it to him the next day, and he typed it from my dictation. I expect he had his special assignment, too. Without his encouragement and support I would never have been able to fulfill mine. The whole process took about seven years. The Text came first, then the Workbook for Students, and finally the Manual for Teachers.

The names of the collaborators in the recording of the Course do not appear on the cover because the Course can and should stand on its own. It is not intended to become the basis for another cult. Its only purpose is to provide a way in which some people will be able to find their own Internal Teacher.

An account from "What is ACIM?" by Foundation of Inner Peace