Born Off Course

TamaraMorganby Tamara Morgan

To many of you, I can be referenced as the daughter of Judith Skutch Whitson. As “the ego lives by comparisons,” to some, I was born of a saint… Hail my Holy Mother who published and disseminated A Course in Miracles to the world! To others, it seems I am spawn of the devil, vociferated particularly online by some very strong perceptions and projections of course with intent to shed light. For myself, it has mostly been an absolute joy and blessing to have been born to this very human woman who was given the function of publishing A Course in Miracles forty years ago.

Personally, I was relieved that Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford were guided to my mother when I was in full-blown adolescence because it got her off my teenage back. Prior to their arrival, my mother’s interest was focused on parapsychology throughout which she engaged me in a series of parasensory investigations. Back then, the public opinion of psychic children was derived from popular films in which these children were able to induce cerebral brain hemorrhages in others, and The Exorcist helped promote memorable paranormal abilities such as 360 degree head rotation. For me, this meant that confessing to being a child psychic was akin to saying “I was a teenage werewolf.”

Personally, I was relieved that Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford were guided to my mother when I was in full-blown adolescence because it got her off my teenage back.”

So I socially and publically learned to keep as much of my “sight” and inner knowing to myself. I was particularly uncomfortable with interrogating “grown ups” wanting to know if I could read their minds—as if a teen would ever want to go there! Or researchers trying to scientifically “validate” whether or not my third eye sight was 20/20. For me, the psychic was no means to an end. Intuition was just a natural expression of a much deeper inner knowing, a way in which I’d always felt connected to a force greater than my smaller self, appearing as a mere five-foot-nothing.

My relief was immeasurable when the Course came into my mother’s life with its teaching that as a person’s “…awareness increases, he may well develop abilities that seem quite startling… Yet nothing he can do can compare even in the slightest with the glorious surprise of remembering Who he is.” I was thrilled that the focus shifted from scientific research to inner listening. Our household guests went from psychics, researchers, UFO exploration or people trying to psychokinetically bend spoons, to Helen Schucman, Bill Thetford, Kenneth Wapnick and my mother, studying and discussing A Course in Miracles. I watched my mother move deeply into that for which she had always really been searching. For me, the Course was not my way. It was actually my way out. I loved that my mother’s internal and external foundation transitioned from the Foundation for Parasensory Investigation into the Foundation for Inner Peace. But I was a teenager and needed to S-E-P-A-R-A-T-E. In this illusion, my “normal” teenage egoic development relied on it! So, I was a great “lesson” for my mother who, as she publicly and privately practiced the Course, I’d goad into getting angry. Just as I brought her to the precipice of losing her temper, I’d point out: “You’re not practicing the Course!!” I hope that none of you ever have a child like me, but if you do, know that it is a fantastic learning device as great as a knife sharpener, if you like a good cutting edge.

Our household guests went from psychics, researchers, UFO exploration or people trying to psychokinetically bend spoons, to Helen Schucman, Bill Thetford, Kenneth Wapnick, and my mother, studying and discussing the Course. I watched my mother move deeply into that for which she had always really been searching.”

In my late teens, I found myself in the audience of a public talk my mother was giving about the Course. At the end of her very loving communication, people cried, applauded and approached me, asking if they could touch me because I was related to my saintly mother. Witnessing my Jewish mother’s canonization appalled me. I was also shocked to see a woman drop one of the original three hardcover volumes of the Course, then frantically kiss the inanimate book as though she’d hurt it and was seeking Course forgiveness in a way that I judged absurd. When I met up with my mother, I expostulated: “What you’re perpetuating is insane! You’re deluding these people into thinking you’re a saint and that the physical books are sacrosanct! You aren’t letting these people see that you’re a human woman who has sex, eats, goes to the bathroom, and occasionally curses! How could you perpetuate such idolatry?” My mother patiently responded: “Okay. I hear you. Come to my talk this afternoon and watch me set the record straight.” Dubiously, I agreed. That afternoon, I watched my mother go to the podium where the mic had been set for a taller speaker. Instead of lowering it, my mother threw down the three volume Course set on the floor, stepped on the books and raised herself up to the mic. She interrupted the audience’s gasps by explaining that it wasn’t the physical books that were holy, and it wasn’t my mother who was their teacher because, in form, she was a mere mortal who has sex, eats, occasionally curses, and goes to the bathroom like everyone else. But that the only real Teacher is within, and we are all capable of learning to listen to, experience and live the principles of this Course. I was beaming with pride for her naked honesty. And then… I noticed the audience tearfully applauding and afterwards some approached me and asked to touch me because I was related to that “saint.” On that day, I got to experience the miracle of my own change of perception. I had a profound experience of acknowledging and accepting that we all see what we want, hear what we are able to hear, and that people come to the Course at a myriad of different levels of their own understanding and growth, all worthy and perfect. It was not for me to judge in anyway the perceptions of others. It was a first taste of seeking “not to change the world, but to change your (my) mind about the world.” But I also became aware of something else; I realized that, unlike my mother, I did not want to be up there doing that!

Over thirty years later, I have been drawn to assist my 84-year-old mother in administering to the Foundation for Inner Peace. Since my mother no longer travels, I was asked simply to deliver a slideshow presentation created by my mother for this upcoming celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the scribing of the Course. I figured, sure, I can do that. I mean, after all, a wise Voice whispered “If a brother asks a foolish thing of you to do it.”

The next thing I knew, Beverly set up for me (or set me up!) to give an hour presentation when my mother’s slide show will probably be only about ten minutes. Before my post traumatic stress had a chance to subside, Beverly additionally asked me to write around 1,000 words to introduce myself to your remarkable community. Of course, my body felt the only thing it was conditioned to feel under such circumstances—nausea. But I took a deep breath and acknowledged yet another miracle working its way into changing my perception from fear to love. It was long in coming but in a holy instant of my remembering who is really in charge, an old resistance began transforming into a new friend as I consciously accepted the invitation to show up, in love and friendship. And I suspect (with no guarantee) that I will speak of my own memories of the egos that were Helen, Bill, Ken, my mother and Bob Skutch from an adolescent’s viewpoint, living amidst them, knowing them and loving them as I did and still do. But I am going to do this as the 56-year-old woman who eats, goes to the bathroom, occasionally curses and hopefully has sex. Throughout this, I invite you to walk, even if a bit off course, down memory lane with me as “love is the way I walk in gratitude.” Whoever said that should be published. Like mother, maybe or maybe not like daughter. Of Course, it’s up to you.

Tamara is co-president of the Foundation for Inner Peace, appointed publisher of A Course in Miracles. She is also manager and keeper of its Archives.

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