Regarding the voice you heard in scribing, A Course in Miracles, does it come from outside or from within?
There's nothing that I would call ordinary audition about this at all. It doesn't really.. It's a curious thing, it will be very difficult to explain. Somebody asked me, "Was it as though your hand was moving? No, I wrote perfectly voluntarily, in response to.. I call it a voice, but a voice has sounds or sounds as though it has something to do with hearing. I didn't hear anything. I think it's a sort of hearing that you can't really describe. It doesn't have anything to do with ears. Or waves hitting a drum. Or anything on that order. I don't really know, I think maybe I'm using the wrong word when I say "hear." I sort of recognized it. It was very rapid. I could even --if I didn't catch a phrase-- I could sort of say, "Would you mind doing that again?", you know..
This was in your mind?
This is strictly mental. Otherwise, I would consider it hallucinatory activity. I don't feel it was that.
Is it comparable to anything in terms of how we hear ourselves talk, or like you talk to yourself?
It wasn't my voice. It couldn't have been because it talked about a whole area with which I'm entirely unfamiliar.
What about subvocalizing? When you're subvocalizing, you're, you're hearing the words, you're actually hearing them.
I know, there's no vocalization. It's a process like I really would find impossible to explain. It never happened to me before. I don't have any knowledge of the area, so that I wouldn't be able to say like x or whatever it is, because I wouldn't know what x did.
You could hear the words clearly in your mind, even though you didn't hear a sound?
I knew that was the word. I think "knew" maybe a better word than "heard." I did not know consciously at the beginning of a sentence how it was going to end. And that puts me under a further handicap in terms of ordinary language. Because ordinarily, I think if you're going to say a sentence, you know what it's going to be, sort of get the gestalt immediately. But I didn't. And it came very easily, very rapidly, very smoothly. I guess even painlessly, except that it annoyed me to death. But that's irrelevant. I guess "hear" isn't the right word. I could stop anytime or pick it up anytime. And I did it in cabs and in subways, and anything. Or sort of between telephone calls. But you're raising a question I don't think I can answer. I really am trying.
So a certain mechanism went on there. Because you heard something, translated into the shorthand style..
Yes but I'm used to shorthand, I use it for group therapy sessions. So that shorthand is quite familiar to me. You know it's really a matter of speed. I couldn't have kept up with ordinary writing.
Oh you couldn't.
Oh, no, it's very rapid. I needed the shorthand.
What about automatic writing? The thing when pen takes over and writes for the person? The person doesn't have any control. Is that similar to what you're describing?
No, that didn't happen at all, I could have stopped at any time. And I frequently did. And I was very frequently interrupted, so that I would have to stop. I didn't lose awareness of where I was or what I was doing. My interns kept barging in for therapy sessions. Now Bill always says, well I'm just naturally dissociated, which I never take as a compliment. But maybe it's that. And I think, in a sense, it must be. Because I haven't caught up with it yet. And I don't understand it. And I still feel very baffled by it. And I'm also still just a little uncomfortable with the material, but I'm getting used to it now. And I'm also getting used to a feeling that it was the right thing to have done. The only curious thing that I do know and this is curious. I am used to doing pretty much what I want to, and I do make my own decisions. But for some reason or other, it never occurred to me not to do this. I thought that this should be done. I made every effort to keep it without me. I did not want to intrude on it. And I felt that it was a matter of personal integrity not to. I really did not interfere with it. I think the thing that I found upsetting about it was it went against everything I believe, which is very hard to do. But I felt it was much more important. I know what I believe, but I didn't know what this was going to do next. And I was very pleased with its coherence. And with its being very consistent, which is something that I would regard as a mandatory criteria. It read very well. And I know the pain with which I manage to get something to read halfway as well as that, which is very agonizing. And this came out very quickly, talked about a system I don't know anything about, and confused me to no end. I'm still cross-eyed. That's all I can really say about it.
You tried to edit it at times, didn't you?
Yes, I did. It would bother me. And I would never forget what it was originally, and I would feel kind of uneasy about it.. But since I do so much editing, I figured, "Well, I'm improving this, you know, and that's it." But then later, when it would pick it up again and refer back to that, then it would be inconsistent, because it would use the original word. So then I very quickly learned, Don't do that, because you will interfere with the internal consistency. So then I stopped doing that. Very quickly, I learned that that was a very bad mistake. So we went back and we changed all the words back into its original form.
Did you remember the word? Or did you have to go back and just ask at the time?
I used to tell Bill, "That used to be, you know, whatever it was." But sometimes, I wouldn't say more than two or three times, I didn't know. But I was aware that there was a goof off in through there. And I would feel the goof off more than the right answer. And then I would sort of look at a blackboard in my head and see it written. The word it should have been. And I would ask, "Can I see it on the blackboard?"
You would ask and also see it?
Yes, if I was undecided. I'd forgotten to mention that.
Would there also be that knowingness that accompanies it like..
No, then I would be reading it, because on the blackboard I would see it in letters..
Then it was a very visual thing in your mind.
Then it was visual. Ordinarily it isn't. But I think that that modality had to come in where I had kind of lost my way, again and I really didn't know what the word should be.
Could you close this off anytime you didn't want to hear or do it?
In other words, it was strictly your option.
Oh, very much. Except that it kind of nudges me if I don't.. If I didn't do it when I, when I was sort of supposed to, sometimes I couldn't sleep. And then I would become very restless.. and at one point I didn't do it for about three weeks. I felt quite pushed around by this and "Enough is enough." It was kind of a rough, rough three weeks. But I did know when it was finished. And I did know when I was supposed to stop. The Course came first. Well, the text is is what what we originally had called "the Course." The text is the right word. That came first and 'that was through, I think there was something like a three month hiatus.
You had no urge to write then?
A while before I started in again, I said to Bill and also to Jonathan, "I have a horrible feeling there's a workbook that goes with this. But maybe it's just, you know, maybe I'm going to be let off on this one." But I did know it. And it became increasingly clear that that was it, and I knew at that time there will also be a teacher's manual, because that's obviously what professors have to teach with. And I did feel that it was going to organize itself in that way. And it did.
Do you feel that it's over now?
I think so. I think so. The only thing that I might be able to do, although I would hesitate to do it because I feel very strongly that my commitment included having nothing to do with anything psychic. I feel that very strongly. I think that I told you the story of the original commitment in that line. If I didn't, it's in my autobiography, and you'll see it. I think it's true. I do think.. and under certain circumstances, I might be able to do this, and might want to, if it were very helpful to somebody. I think there are questions I could probably write an answer to, but I think I would really want to do that not as a major part of anything, because I don't think it's very important. But if someone were in trouble, and it would be helpful, I might try to do it. I haven't had any occasion yet.
So you continue to hear the voice?
Oh no, I could ask what to do about something, particularly the three of us put together. And we would ask and we would get an answer, we generally get the same answer. If we don't, we'll sort of feel somebody's off a little bit. And we'll try again. But we generally do. According to the Course we should, and everyone could, ask about anything and get an answer. Sometimes it's very surprising to me. And one of the things that I think we mistakenly do is to figure, "Oh, well this is unimportant, or this is, you know, this is ought to cut out certain areas from the process of asking," which I'm sure is a mistake, because I don't think we should evaluate. I think we can ask anything. And I would doubt very much if anything is likely to happen to me, that wouldn't happen to anybody else. If he wanted it to. I mean, or if he felt this was the way he wanted to go. I can't imagine that. In fact, I'm sure it isn't true. The Course is rather explicit on that.
So you do hear now and then.
I hear whenever I ask.
In other words, at this point, now it's really a matter of asking.
Well, now it's a little more a question of personal guidance as to what to do. We didn't know whether we were supposed to come here, for example. We asked about that, and we all three thought we should come to California. This was not where we intended to go. And we did feel that Judy, sort of came, you know, at a particular time we felt very much that she was an integral part of this. But we asked for this, because I've been very, very careful about this. I am a very careless person in some ways, I lose everything. But I never lost anything of this Course. People would stop me in the subway and say, "Miss you forgot your something or other" and hand it back to me. Taxis would honk their horns, you know, and say, "You left something in the backseat." My secretary would say, "Are you sure this belongs in this case report? It doesn't sound right." And it was impossible to lose this Course. And I tried. But it sort of kind of followed me around and in an odd kind of way. People would send it back to me -- anything you know, and I always got it back. And we never lost anything, which is incredible. You have to know me because I really do lose anything. We once went to a game thing you know where you had to guess from a one sentence thing, who it was. And somebody said, "My God, where is it?" and the whole faculty said, "That's Helen Schucman!" They recognized it immediately. I'm better now.