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The Scribing of A Course in Miracles  

Helen Schucman, Ph.D., was a clinical and research psychologist, who held the tenured position of Associate Professor of Medical Psychology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. 

"Курсу  Чудес" was "scribed" by Dr. Schucman between 1965 and 1972through a process of inner dictation. She experienced the process as one of a distinct and clear dictation from an inner voice, which earlier had identified itself to her as Jesus. Helen Schucman's scribing of A Course in Miracles began with these words: "this is a course in miracles, please take notes."


William Thetford, Ph.D., was atenured Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Director of the Psychology Department at the Presbyterian Hospital in New York City for whom Dr. Schucman worked. As her trusted friend and colleague also, Dr. Thetford assisted and supported Dr. Schucman throughout the Course's scribing, including the events that led up to it. A vital participant, Dr. Thetford acted as transcriber throughout the entire process by typing the material from the scribed notes that Dr. Schucman had taken down and would dictate to him almost daily.

Helen and Bill were an unlikely

team in scribing "Курсу Чудес"

As career-oriented psychologists

working closely together at the

Columbia-Presbyterian Medical

Center, they were attempting to

develop and strengthen the

Center's Psychology Department.

While their professional

interests and goals for the

department were compatible with

each other, their personalities

certainly were not. Helen's

overtly critical and judgmental

stance was juxtaposed with

Bill's quiet and more passively

aggressive personality, and they

clashed constantly.

It was therefore a rather

startling event when, in the

Spring of 1965, Bill delivered

an impassioned speech to Helen

in which he said that he was fed

up with the competition,

aggression, and anger which

permeated their professional

lives, extended into their

attitudes and relationships, and

pervaded the department. He

concluded and told her that

"there must be another way" of

living -- in harmony rather than

discord -- and that he was

determined to find it. Equally

startling, and to their mutual

surprise, Helen agreed with Bill

and enthusiastically volunteered

to join him in a collaborative

search to find this other and

better way.

It was as if Helen had waited

all her life for this particular

moment, which triggered a series

of internal experiences for her

that carried through the summer.

These included heightened dream

imagery, psychic episodes,

visions, and an experience of an

inner voice. The experiences

also became increasingly

religious, with the figure of

Jesus appearing more and more

frequently to her in both visual

and auditory expressions.

This period of preparation

culminated on the evening of

October 21, 1965, when the now

familiar voice of Jesus said to

Helen: "This is a course in

miracles, please take notes."

She called Bill immediately, and

he reassured her that she was

not going mad. He suggested she

write down what was being

dictated to her, and that he

would look at it with her early

the following morning at the

office. Helen did just that,

which is how the scribing of

"Курсу Чудес" began. As Helen

later described the experience:

"The Voice 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

obvious use of my


background, interests

and experience, but

that was in matters of

style rather than

content. Certainly the

subject matter itself

was the last thing I

would have expected to

write about."

The actual process of the

scribing was not difficult, and

for the most part flowed rather

smoothly. Helen would write down

Jesus' words in shorthand

notebooks, and whenever she and

Bill had time during a very busy

schedule, she would dictate to

Bill what had been dictated to

her. Bill would then type it

directly from Helen's dictation,

acting as transcriber. It was

truly a collaborative venture

between them. It also ensured

that the Course -- the answer to

their question to find "another

way" -- would be absolutely

faithful to the words and

message Helen received from

Jesus. The process took seven

years, and was completed in

October, 1972.

Although the scribing itself was

relatively effortless, it did

engender tremendous anxiety in

Helen, though less in Bill. As

Helen wrote:

"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

could neither account

for nor reconcile my

obviously inconsistent

attitudes. On the one

hand I still regarded

myself as officially

an agnostic, resented

the material I was

taking down, and was

strongly impelled to

attack it and prove it

wrong. On the other

hand I spent

considerable time in

taking it down and

later in dictating it

to Bill, so it was

apparent that I took

it quite seriously. I

actually came to refer

to it as my life's

work. As Bill pointed

out, I must believe in

it if only because I

argued with it so

much. While this was

true, it did not help

me. I was in the

impossible position of

not believing my own

life's work. The

situation was clearly

ridiculous as well as


And as Bill recalled:

"The material was

something that

transcended anything

that either of us

could possibly

conceive of. And since

the content was quite

alien to our

backgrounds, interests

and training, it was

obvious to me that it

came from an inspired

source. The quality of

the material was very

compelling, and its

poetic beauty added to

its impact."

As to the impact of "Курсу

Чудес" on Bill, he said:

"It changed my life

totally. I recall

typing the first fifty

principles on miracles

that came through

Helen in the Fall of

1965, and realized

that if this material

was true then

absolutely everything

I believed would have

to be challenged --

that I would have to

reconstruct my whole

belief system. At the

time, however, I

thought that would be

impossible; I didn't

know how I could do

it. Yet I felt that

was a requirement,

since the material

that came through

Helen in the beginning

phase seemed so

authentic and genuine.

I went into shock for

a brief period,

wondering how it would

be possible to make

such an abrupt change

in my perception of

life and the world.

Later I realized that

God is merciful, and

does not ask us to

make changes so

abruptly, that there

would be adequate time

to gradually begin to

shift my perception. I

think what was

important was my

willingness to change,

not mastery of the


When once asked his definition

of "Курсу Чудес", Bill replied:

"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


Helen chose to conceal her

spiritual journey from almost

all of her friends, and all

family members, except of course

from her husband Louis. They

would have been incredulous if

they had known of her hidden

life and scribing.

While generally ill at ease with

the Course, she wanted to

preserve her anonymity as scribe

of "Курсу Чудес", firmly

maintaining that it should stand

on its own, with the true

author, Jesus, remaining its

sole inspirational figure. She

knew that any public recognition

of her role would distract from

this focus.

Helen retired from

Columbia-Presbyterian Medical

Center in 1977, and died in New

York City on February 9, 1981.

Bill retired from the Center in

1980, and moved to Tiburon,

California and later La Jolla.

He died on July 4, 1988.

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