What Are The Different Versions of ACIM People Study?

Background On The Versions – What Was Edited Out?

Five Different ACIM BooksThere are four major, different, versions of A Course In Miracles that people study. I’ve listed them below in the order that they were created. The earlier the edition, the less it was edited. Much of the editing removed material considered, for many reasons, to not be appropriate for the final version of ACIM. Some think that it was Helen Schucman, herself, that did the bulk of the editing. This is educated speculation and not proven fact. This editing has been the topic of much discussion for ACIM students and scholars. Here is a list of the main things that were edited out:

1) Personal Material: There is personal material in the original channeling that directly related to the personal lives of Helen Schucman, Bill Thetford, their intimates, friends, colleagues, and other associates. While many feel the personal material should be eliminated, there is a lot of profound teaching woven within the personal material. During the editing, some of this profound material was extracted and worked back into the Course that did end up being published. However, the results are not always smooth and the profound material makes a lot more sense in the context of the personal material it was originally in.

2) Psychological Material: There is a lot of material about Freud and other important historical figures in the field of psychology. Also there are frequent references to professional psychological terms and jargon.

3) Sexual Material: There is a lot of material about sex and sexual behavior in the early material, that was edited out. This removal is especially controversial, because the material itself says that this teaching on sex is important and must be understood.

4) The Soul: There are many references to the soul that were edited out or changed.

5) The World: There are many passages that teach there is something about the world that is real or that is recognized by God. Not all of these references were edited out, but with many more of them in the earlier material it becomes hard to ignore the few that remain and to interpret them away. The usage of the word “world” is broader and more encompassing in the earlier material. Without this broader usage, the more edited later versions have a confused teaching about the world.

6) Make & Create: There is not a clear distinction between “make” and “create,” and sometimes the words are used interchangeably.

7) Extension/Extend & Projection/Project: There is not a clear distinction between “extension/extend” and “projection/project,” and sometimes the words are used interchangeably. Project has a much broader, general meaning in the early material than it ended up having in the later published Foundation for Inner Peace*1 (FIP) version in 1976.

8) Active Doing / Being A Miracle Worker: There is an emphasis on active doing in the world and a teaching that miracles are doings in the world. There is more of an emphasis on being a miracle worker. The first words actually given to Helen Schucman are “You will see miracles through your hands through Me.” Only after that sentence, did the dictation of the more well known introduction come. At the end of the short introduction is this teaching which repeats the opening line, “You will see miracles through your hands through me. You should begin each day with the prayer ‘Help me to perform whatever miracles you want of me today.’”

The Urtext Text contains 337,372 words. The Hugh Lynn Cayce (HLC) Text contains 299,189 words or 38,184 words fewer than the Urtext. The Foundation for Inner Peace ACIM Text version contains 288,968 words or 48,405 fewer words than the Urtext (10,221 words less that the HLC). This means that over 14% of the words dictated to Helen Schucman by “the Voice” never made it into the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) version. Seventy-nine percent of the words removed were removed when the Urtext was edited to create the Hugh Lynn Cayce. This lends weight to the idea that it was Helen Schucman herself, or Helen Schucman and William Thetford, that eliminated the vast majority of the words from the final 1976 version of A Course In Miracles published by FIP.  [These figures are taken from Doug Thompson’s calculations published in *A Course In Miracles The Hugh Lynn Cayce Manuscript* by Miracles In Action Press*2 (MIAP).


The Four Major Versions

1) The Shorthand Notes / The Notes: These are the actual notes that Helen Schucman wrote, mostly on steno pads, of what “the Voice” (Jesus?) was revealing to her. She received the material for A Course In Miracles (ACIM) between 1965 and 1972. The Notes are in a type of personal shorthand, but when looked at they are moderately readable. Helen Schucman never expected anyone to read these, other than herself, so we certainly can not blame her for the fact that it takes effort to read The Notes as they were written. She read these to her partner in the process, Bill Thetford, and he would type them up during their daily private times in their academic office, usually in the morning. Doug Thompson, an ACIM scholar, has gone through these and typed them into a computer so it is now possible to actually read them, not just from photocopies of the steno pads, but as computer text files. They are not yet printed on paper and can not be purchased as a book yet. There is a .pdf of the typed Notes on the MIAP web site, so they can be downloaded and printed for personal use. MIAP is working on making available a printed copy of the text of The Notes. The photocopies of the written steno pads are available in The Scholars’ Toolbox which is a DVD produced by MIAP. Currently, on the MIAP web site, you can view all the typed text files of The Notes. Doug Thompson is associated with MIAP, and he is largely to be credited for this important, scholarly endeavor.

Pros: If you want to know what Helen Schucman “heard” from “the Voice” this is as close to the source as you will get. Helen did some editing of The Notes when she read them to Bill. There is more personal material in The Notes that never made it to the typed Urtext. This was the very first editing, so the true unedited version of ACIM is The Notes and not the Urtext.

Cons: Reading the photocopies from the steno pads is very difficult, and time consuming. There is no published, printed on paper version of the text files yet, although there will probably be one soon. These are unedited first writings. They are rather crude in many places. There are no chapter titles or section headings. Grammar is not always accurate. Also, in a few places, apparently Helen dictated channeling to Bill that was not written down in The Notes, but that she was receiving in the moment. The Notes does not contain this information.

2) The Urtext Manuscripts / The Urtext: This is currently the only copy the public has of the original typing of the Course. What is unknown is if this is the first typing done by Bill Thetford, while listening to Helen Schucman, or was this a retyping done by Helen Schucman and/or Bill Thetford later. Evidence seems to point to it being a later retyping. It might actually be a combination of both. Whichever it is, this is the first typed draft of A Course In Miracles we have. There is a professionally typeset edition, published by MIAP originally in 2009. This version contains many footnotes, and appendices written by Doug Thompson. Photocopies of the original typed pages can also be downloaded from the internet.

Pros: This contains most the material and is the first easily readable copy we have. It does contain the material directly channeled by Helen, as she was reading to Bill, that was never written in The Notes. (However it does not contain the material, much of it personal material, that Helen edited out while reading to Bill.) The printed version is very readable, so this is the earliest, readable version most students would have now. Most the material about sex and psychology is here (but not all of it).

Cons: This is still an unfinished draft and there are inconsistencies. Grammar, punctuation, and capitalization are inconsistent and sometimes inaccurate. There is personal material relevant to just Helen and Bill which is included. The printed version would be superior to the photocopies, but if one wanted to see what the typed pages actually looked like they are there. There are cross outs and corrections in the typed copies.

3) Various Hugh Lynn Cayce Versions / The Original Edition / The “Sparkly” Book: Helen and Bill both knew their original efforts, the Urtext, would need to be edited and refined. Helen was concerned about all the personal material and how to decide what needed to be taken out. “The Voice” told Helen not to worry about this, because Bill was to be responsible for what to leave in and what to leave out. "Ask him [Bill] later if this should be included in the written part of the course at all, or whether you should keep these notes separately. He is in charge of these decisions." (Ur.T.1.B.25.i) Helen and Bill then edited and retyped the Urtext and sent a copy of this edit to Hugh Lynn Cayce who put it into the Association of Research and Enlightenment (ARE) library in 1972. Whether this editing and retyping was done by Helen and Bill working together, or possibly just one of them, maybe Helen, working alone has been questioned. The copy in the ARE library is frequently referred to as the Hugh Lynn Cayce version (HLC). In 1999, during the copyright litigation (1996 to 2003), this version surfaced and caused a lot of interest. It was so different from the version students had been aware of, the only one there was published, the edition by the FIP originally in 1976. Only the Text was found in the ARE library. At least one source says that the Workbook and Manual were originally there. If this is true, the Workbook and Manual have yet to be found. Some people speculate that possibly the Workbook and Manual were never there and that Helen and Bill only sent Hugh Lynn Cayce a copy of the Text.

An organization formed named Course In Miracles Society (CIMS)*3 and CIMS published the HLC and titled it Jesus’ Course In Miracles (JCIM) in 2000. The words “A Course In Miracles” were controlled as a legal service mark at that time, so they couldn’t be used. Tom Whitmore is the president of CIMS, and one of its founders.  CIMS was legally blocked from distributing the book shortly after it was released, but they eventually were able to legally distribute after FIP lost the primary copyright by a decision of the United States District Court in 2003 by Judge Sweet. The official court order, declaring the original copyright null and void, happened in 2004 and CIMS started redistributing JCIM shortly after in 2004. When CIMS published again in 2006, it added a Workbook and a Manual it took from the Urtext version to it’s JCIM and titled the new edition, A Course In Miracles Original Edition. (CIMS could now use the name “A Course In Miracles” because in 2004 the service marks held by FIP were declared null and void.) CIMS continues to edit and refine its book with subsequent printings. CIMS corrects for grammar and sometimes it adds passages back from the Urtext CIMS feels were taken out in error. The Original Edition is the most widely distributed and easily available ACIM edition that is derived from the HLC.

Ted Poppe, an ACIM teacher and activist, published a version of ACIM using the HLC and an added Workbook and Manual taken from the Urtext while he was temporarily living and teaching in Australia in 2001. This was during the time when CIMS was blocked from publishing and distributing in the U.S. Ted Poppe’s version is called the Sparkly, the Sparkle, or the Thetford/Sparkle edition, because the cover is filled with bright sparkly reflections of the sun on water. Ted Poppe eventually moved back to the United States, and he is currently publishing the Sparkly book in the U.S. under his company Diamond Clear Vision*4.

In 2006 MIAP also published a version of the HLC titled A Course In Miracles The Hugh Lynn Cayce Manuscript. It is the Text found in the ARE library. It does not have a Workbook or a Manual, and it contains scholarly annotations and appendices by Doug Thompson.

Pros: “The Voice” was clear that Bill Thetford was to be in charge of what to leave in and what to leave out. The HLC is the only edit that Bill played an active role in, so many believe this is what we should be studying. Since it is edited, it is very readable. The personal material has been removed. The sexual material was taken out. This material can be very controversial, so many think it is a good thing that it is not in the book. CIMS has kept editing the Original Edition. The current printing, and future printings, are and will be better edited. They will be more understandable, and more complete, since key Urtext passages have been added back that scholars perceive were left out only by error and not design.

Cons: If a student is reading a pure HLC, the editing done by Bill and Helen is not at a professional level. There are many, many inconsistencies in grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and other issues. The material about sex is not there and many consider this to be a negative, especially since “the Voice” itself said how important it was for the student to understand this material.

4) The FIP or The FIP/FACIM Version: This is the version that was originally published by the FIP in 1976 and the only version students knew until 1999. This version has had several different editions itself, but it is still primarily the same as originally published in 1976. After the HLC version was complete, Ken Wapnick convinced Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford in 1973 that another edit was needed. Bill Thetford did not want anything to do with another edit, and it is reported that Bill did not want to work closely with Ken Wapnick and Helen Schucman, because there were personality problems. (Read *The mirs Of Helen Schucman and William Thetford* by Neal Vahle.) During this second edit many more important deletions and changes were made to the HLC. All the references to Freud and other psychologist were removed. There is more consistency about make and create, about project and extend. Most of the references to soul have been changed, and other changes were made as talked about in the first portion of this article. Eventually FIP transferred the existing copyrights to Ken Wapnick’s organization The Foundation for ACIM (FACIM)*5, so this book is now frequently spoken of as the FIP/FACIM edition, although in the book itself it still says it is published by FIP. FIP calls FACIM its “Sister” organization, although this title has no legal distinction. FIP and FACIM are two totally different organizations, two distinct non-profit corporations.

Pros: This is the most widely used book. A majority of ACIM groups use this book. It is tightly edited. Since it was the only book available for many years, much has been written about this book and the teaching that this book may contain. FIP and FACIM state that this was the only version “authorized” by the Scribe, Helen Schucman.

Cons: So much material has been taken out and so much material was edited and changed. As previously stated there are 48,405 fewer words in this book than in the Urtext. Since Bill Thetford was supposed to be in charge of what to leave in and what to leave out, all that was taken out was not done by Bill Thetford and many believe that this was not the book “the Voice” wanted students to be reading.

*1 Foundation For Inner Peace (FIP): – http://acim.org
*2 Miracles In Action Press (MIAP): – http://www.miraclesinactionpress.com
*3 Course In Miracles Society (CIMS): – http://jcim.net
*4 Diamond Clear Vision: – http://www.diamondclearvision.com
*5 Foundation for A Course In Miracles (FACIM): – http://www.facim.org

(This article is open to corrections and changes as new material comes to light. It represents the authors best knowledge of situations and events but the author might be incorrect about some things and reserves the right to change information as different information gets presented to him.)


Please help support the healing work of the Community Miracles Center by becoming a Supporting Member. Our members receive many ongoing benefits that help them grow into a full realization of the A Course In Miracles philosophy guiding their mirs. Together this ministry is bringing the Real World into manifestation.

To become a CMC Supporting Member click here: CMC Supporting Members.

You can also make a one time donation to the CMC here: One Time Donation.
You can also call during regular business hours: (415)621-2556.

© copyright 2012, Community Miracles Center, San Francisco, CA. All rights reserved.