History of the Manuscripts of A Course in Miracles

Kenneth Wapnick Ph.D.

History of the
Manuscripts of
A Course in Miracles

Kenneth Wapnick Ph.D.

How the Unpublished Material Became Public

Since Helen and Bill knew I would never violate their trust, they put me in charge of what we called the archives—the notebooks and all the subsequent typings—as Helen was always misplacing or losing things, and Bill was not very organized. Thus I became the archivist, and still have this material in my possession.

As I mentioned earlier, much of what I am saying now is in my book, Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of “A Course in Miracles.” I included there a good part of the Urtext material that was relevant to understanding Helen and Bill’s experience of the scribing. Since I was quoting this material, I felt I should copyright it, which in hindsight appears was a mistake, and indeed, my wise wife Gloria cautioned me against doing this. This was a herculean task. The Foundation staff made copies of all the material and these were sent to the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. What could be safer, I thought, than the Library of Congress?

While I had a copy of the Hugh Lynn Version of the Course—actually it was just the textbook—the original, as I stated earlier, was presented by Helen and Bill to Hugh Lynn Cayce, and was eventually put in the rare books section of the A.R.E. library at their headquarters in Virginia Beach. Many years later, when I was giving some lectures at the A.R.E., Charles Thomas Cayce, Hugh Lynn’s son and the grandson of Edgar Cayce, took Gloria and me into that locked room to show us the manuscript that had been given many years earlier to his father.

As is widely known, there was a court case involving infringement of the copyright by the Endeavor Academy in Wisconsin, an action brought about by the Foundation for Inner Peace, the publisher of the Course, and the Foundation for A Course in Miracles, its sister organization and copyright holder of the Course. This is not the place to discuss the details, except to say that they were doing inappropriate things with the Course and we were trying to stop them. As part of the proceedings, I was deposed by Endeavor’s attorney, who asked me, among other things, about the manuscripts. I mentioned that the Hugh Lynn Version, the one that Helen and I edited, was in the A.R.E. library. Armed with that information, some people subsequently and unlawfully removed the manuscript from the A.R.E., copied it, and then returned it to the library. It was later published under the name “Jesus’ Course in Miracles.” The contention was that I was the one who had changed Jesus’ Course, and that the authentic Course was the Hugh Lynn Version that “Bill” edited. I was thus viewed as an upstart who came along with his own ideas about what the Course said and convinced Helen to make changes; a belief hard to understand because nothing was changed in terms of meaning and, as I have indicated, almost all changes occurred at the beginning of the text. At any rate, the claim was that the Course published by the Foundation for Inner Peace was not the true Course.

Then something happened I never would have thought possible: Under false pretenses, the notebooks and Urtext were taken from the Library of Congress and copied, a violation of federal law. We talked to legal authorities at the Library, who were outraged. However, it was clear that this case was very small potatoes to them. The Library of Congress is under the Department of Justice, which has other things on its mind besides someone taking a manuscript that is of no importance to anyone outside of a very small group. So nothing was ever done about it. We were assured by Library officials that this would never happen again, but of course that was of no help in our situation. The people who were now in possession of the illegally obtained material—the notebooks, Urtext and Hugh Lynn Version—had it scanned or retyped, and have made it available on the internet and elsewhere for purchase.

That, then, is how all this material got out. The court case was concluded in 2004 and the copyright was declared invalid. This, however, did not apply to the Course’s Preface, the additional material added to the Second Edition, the Clarification of Terms, and the two pamphlets, Psychotherapy and The Song of Prayer. Moreover, the Foundation still owns the copyright to the notebooks, Urtext, and the Hugh Lynn Version. As a result, when you go now to amazon.com and call up A Course in Miracles, the chances are, if you are not aware of this background, that you may be selecting the Endeavor or some other version, which is being marketed as the original Course. The Endeavor group has also included Matthew’s gospel in the Course, because they have always held that the Course and the Bible are the same. Thus, in that version you are not going to get the true Course at all, not even the Urtext or Hugh Lynn version. There are at least two other versions being marketed as well. Thus people now can do just about anything they want with the Course.