The year 1910 saw the death of several luminous spiritual thinkers. It also brought to prominence Edgar Cayce. He had begun a body of religious readings that incorporated occult concepts like karma, reincarnation, and Hermetic ideas of the universe as a school for human evolution.
Helen was a lover of the English language. One finds a lot of archaicisms in A Course in Miracles, including blank verse and unrhymed poetry. She was also very logical.
What is A Course in Miracles?
The Course in Miracles is a text that offers spiritual and psychological teachings, as well as meditation exercises. It helps the reader to wake up to an experience of perfect love, peace, and joy – and to be one with God.
It also encourages forgiveness and releases one from the grip of guilt and fear. The book is not a religion, nor does it impose any dogma. It is based on a non-dualistic understanding of God and the universe, as opposed to the dualistic worldview that pervades western culture.
The author of a course in miracles is credited to “the voice” that dictated the material. It is said that this is Jesus’ voice. Many writers have devoted their lives to studying the life and work of Edgar Cayce. Journalist Sidney D. Kirkpatrick wrote a landmark biography of the psychic in 2000. Scholars such as religionist Harmon Bro, who studied with Cayce for nine months toward the end of his life, produced insightful studies.
In the 1920s, Cayce’s trance readings expanded beyond medicine to include life readings, in which he would explore the inner conflicts and needs of a person. The sessions could cover any aspect of a person’s life, such as their career, marriage, or health.
Often, in the trance states, Cayce would give advice that seemed remarkably specific and pertinent to the individual at hand. He would give esoteric details about the soul, such as references to astrology, karma, and reincarnation. Other times he would discuss global prophecies and the lost history of mythical cultures, such as Atlantis and Lemuria.
During the scribing of the Course, Helen was still heavily influenced by her relationship with Cayce and the ideas that were coming to her through him. It is clear from the Urtext that Helen often interjected her own beliefs and values into the dictation. For example, there is an early passage in the Course about sex that clearly reflects Helen’s own beliefs. This is not the case with later dictations. However, it is worth noting that a significant portion of the early transcripts were not included in the final edition of the book published in 1976.
What is a Miracle?
Many scholars and writers on religion, parapsychology, and the occult have struggled with the concept of miracles. The definition used most often today, coined by William James and popularized by philosopher John Polkinghorne, is that a miracle is an occurrence which is at once above and beyond natural law and human knowledge. It is an event that cannot be explained in terms of purely mechanical, physical or biological laws, and is attributed to the interposition of an intelligent agent above or beyond human understanding (Mackie 1962: 194).
This definition is problematic in several respects, as it presupposes a particular notion of natural law and of what constitutes a miracle. In addition, it entails the assumption that the natural laws to which one refers are, in fact, universal and unchanging; that they are logically, empirically, and morally consistent, and that all experiences are governed by them. Moreover, this definition has been criticized by both secular and religious thinkers for its inability to accommodate a wide range of events that might be described as miraculous, and for its failure to distinguish between an actual event and a statement about such an event (Brown 1822: 219-33; Beard 1845: 35; Lias 1890: 5-7).
For example, a man who falls into a pond and drowns can be considered a miracle because it is inexplicable in the simplest mechanical sense, but one could also argue that he fell into the pond because he was chasing a squirrel and stumbled into it.
Sugrue viewed Cayce as a figure of deep Christian faith struggling to come to terms with the occult concepts that ran through his readings beginning in the early 1920s, including numerology, astrology, crystal gazing, modern prophecies, reincarnation, and the story of mythical civilizations such as Atlantis and ancient Egypt.
Other scholars and journalists — such as the pioneering female journalist Margueritte Williams who brought Edgar Cayce national attention in a 1943 profile in Coronet magazine, and intrepid scholar of religion Harmon Bro, who spent nine months in Cayce’s company toward the end of his life and produced insightful studies of the psychic’s work—have traced the development of these esoteric ideas.
What is a Miracle in A Course in Miracles?
A miracle is any change in perception that shifts one’s mind from the ego’s false beliefs and perceptions to God’s truth. The Course defines it as “an inner experience of peace, love and joy that replaces fear, anger, guilt and anxiety.” It also describes a miracle as the choice to see differently from what the ego tells you about yourself and the world, and instead accept the truth.
A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is a self-study system of spiritual psychology that has changed the lives of millions of people worldwide. It is a profound teaching that combines spiritual wisdom with psychological insight. It has become a modern spiritual classic, and its principles have been embraced by a growing number of people who consider themselves to be “spiritual but not religious.” It is often called the Bible of the SBNR movement.
While ACIM uses Christian terminology and symbols, it is not a religion and does not teach that any particular path is the only way to God. It teaches that there are thousands of spiritual paths, and that each one leads to God in its own unique way.
The Course consists of three books: the Text, which lays out its thought system; the Workbook for Students, which provides 365 daily lessons that emphasize experience rather than belief in a theology; and the Manual for Teachers, which offers answers to questions commonly asked by students. Its poetic language and blank verse have led many to compare it to some of the world’s greatest literature. The language is intellectually sophisticated and combines spiritual inspiration with deep psychological understanding of phenomena such as belief systems, defense mechanisms and identification.
Because of its vast scope and deep impact, it can be challenging to grasp the full meaning of A Course in Miracles. However, it is essential to read the material at least once and try to live its teachings in every area of one’s life. The daily lessons of the Workbook offer a step-by-step approach to applying the Course’s principles and practicing its spiritual discipline. This process is an ongoing journey toward waking up to the truth of who you really are.
What is a Miracle in Cayce’s Writings?
In the early 1920s, Cayce’s trance readings extended far beyond medicine (though this still remained at the core of his work). The occult concepts of astrology, crystal gazing, number symbolism, karma and reincarnation; the lost history of mythical civilizations such as Atlantis and Lemuria; and global prophecies and climate or geological change—all were present in the readings.
Cayce’s Christian faith made him uncomfortable with much of this esoteric material. But his followers, including Helen, often felt that the “insights” they received at their psychic readings were part of a divine revelation.
The readings also offered a number of practical suggestions. In the health readings, for example, Cayce recommended diet, exercise, meditation and light therapy. He also prescribed specific herbal remedies and a series of exercises that he called the “Etheric Body,” designed to promote healing and balance.
As the Course grew, its teachings became more focused on healing and forgiveness. But its spirituality and its emphasis on God as the source of all healing remained consistent with the themes of the Cayce readings. There was, therefore, a consistency in tone and values that drew devotees of both the Course and the Cayce readings together.
As the Course evolved, Helen was able to distinguish what she felt was true from her own ego influences, and she began to weed out some of the earlier, more controversial material. This included passages that discussed sex, which seemed to contradict the teaching of the Urtext about Christ’s non-sexual teachings. It also included some material on Freudian psychology, though the Course does not follow Freud in all of its details. And there were a few statements about reincarnation, which were not compatible with the orthodox Christian views of Jesus as a reincarnation of a Jewish prophet. Those who read the Course as a spiritual text, rather than as a book on psychology or theology, are best served by eliminating this material. Nevertheless, the lessons of the Course are universal and timeless, and it has proved extraordinarily enduring. The material that is left behind in the Course reflects what has been deemed truly significant by the Higher Self of those who are attracted to it.