Helen Schucmann Turn Against A Course in Miracles?
From Felicity by Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
is interesting that people have used Helen's
personal life and struggles with the Course
as witnesses for and against its authenticity.
The positive view was that Helen's ego was
so dominant that in no way could she herself
have written A Course in Miracles, and so
Someone else must have. On the other side,
often coming from a more transitional Christian
view, others would argue that If Helen's experiences
of Jesus were indeed valid, her life would
surely have changed. The fact that it did
not, therefore, invalidated the experiences.
is difficult indeed to describe Helen's relationship
with A Course in Miracles. That it aroused
tremendous anxiety in her goes with saying,
that she fought with it tooth and nail and
determinedly chose, in the end, not to practice
its teachings, was also, for her, painfully
true. Nonetheless, there remained that part
of Helen's mind that cared deeply about the
Course and what happened to it.
was thus a maternal aspect to Helen's relationship
to the Course, wherein she watched over its birth
and infancy with the same care and concern a mother
has for her child. I remember one day, shortly after
the Course's publication, we were discussing the
inevitable process of popularization and distortion
that was already beginning to occur. Helen lowered
her face between her hands, plaintively whispering:
"My poor course; my poor course."
admitting--to herself and to others--her inability
to integrate the teachings into her own life, Helen's
ego had little tolerance for hypocritical stance
of others who believed that they had understood
and mastered the Course's profound message, nor
who presented its inspired teachings in a superficial
manner. Believing that A Course in Miracles was
for a very few who would be able really to understand
its message and successfully integrate its teachings
into their lives, Helen knew the great difficulty
the material would present to the world.
was clear to her that people's fearful egos would
seek to prevent acceptance of the Course's radical
message of forgiveness and truth. It therefore pained
Helen in the very early years of publication to
witness what was happening with the Course; however,
she was not on the other hand, able to assume a
role of spiritual leadership.
despite the tremendous level of fear which led her
to hold tenaciously on to the ego thought system,
and her self-hatred over not being able to choose
again--for God instead of the ego--Helen's underlying
integrity allowed her to remain faithful to the
course and her function, albeit in her own "lop-sided"
way. Helen's ego was such that she always had to
be center-stage. Her dominant and compelling personality
made it practically impossible for people in her
presence not to have a strong reaction to her, positively
or negatively. She was not one that others cold
easily ignore. Part of Helen's mind realized that
such a situation regarding A Course in Miracles
would have been a disaster, for it would have shifted
people's focus from the inner Teacher to an external
figure, a process of specialness directly antithetic
to the Course's message of equality and unity. She
was always clear that the central figure in the
Course was Jesus (or the Holy Spirit), and both
she and Bill were faithful to the positron of not
assuming a guru role. On one level I believe that
they knew they were setting an example for others
who would inevitably follow.
because it did not seem possible for her to remain
involved with the Course without her ego, I believe
that on another level she chose to get out of the
Course's way, rather than "contaminate"
it with her ego's need to dominate. Her eventual
physical and emotional deterioration was the ultimate
expression of this "getting out of its way."
Therefore, to the end, as best she could, Helen
demonstrated a remarkable integrity in preserving
the purity of A Course in Miracles and her role
Skutch recalls a time when she was sitting
with an unresponsive Helen who suddenly
turned to Judy and said, “Do you know
why I’m dying? … “it’s
to get out of its way.”
Schucman's Final Days
her final months in 1980 and 1981, Helen never left
her apartment, except to go to the doctor or hospital.
We did not know it until much later, but she was
already experiencing the emotional and physical
effects of pancreatic cancer, which was likely the
cause of her depression. Her worsening condition
succeeded in isolating her from practically all
of her friends. The discrepancy between the Helen
we knew--impeccably groomed and socially appropriate,
wise and helpful--and the Helen then--physically
disheveled, preoccupied with her own disturbing
thoughts, and totally unresponsive to anyone beside
her herself--was so glaring as to be disturbing,
painful, and even frightening.
Schucman died of complications due to pancreatic
cancer on February 8, 1981 at the age of 71. As
Ken Wapnick descibes,
had a remarkably quiet expression of peace, so different
from the tortured disquiet we had grown so accustomed
to … I suddenly recalled what Helen had shared
with me on several occasions… Jesus had told
her that when she died, he would come for her personally…”
Wapnick delivered the eulogy two days later on February
11, 1981 at a traditional Jewish funeral.
Willis W. Harman Ph.D
"Helen hardly seemed to embody the inner
peace that the Course puts forth as its goal.
She found much to complain about.
once asked her how it happened that this remarkable
document she had been responsible for had brought
wisdom and peace to so many, and yet it was
seemingly ineffective for her. I will never
forget her reply “I know the Course is
true, Bill,” she said—and then after
a pause, “but I don’t believe it.”
Thetford said of Helen's split mind: "The
same process of dissociation that enable Helen
to take down the Course, also made it virtually
impossible for her to learn it."
For Students Special Topics - Part 2