Questions Regarding the
Teachings of ACIM


QUESTION: Is there a citation system (or notation system) for references to specific passages in the ACIM Original Edition (OE)?

ANSWER:  Yes there is!  It was developed as a collaborative venture at the Community Miracles Center's "On-Line ACIM Discussion Group" during the period from September 4, 2011 to September 29, 2011.  The discussions that lead to the notation system can be read at the CMC's online discussion group.  The posts may not be in order due to the fact that they were moved from one thread to another.  To see them, first go to the discussion group at http://www.miracles-course.org/cgi-bin/discus/discus.cgi/.  Then select "Member Chosen Discussions", and then select "Notation for Original Edition".  As far as I can tell from the record, Tony Ponticello and I were the only ones who contributed during that time.  The notation system may evolve further over time.  Two minor changes were made earlier this year based on suggestions by Maz Weber-Caspers.

Our intention was to make a system that would be 1) both comprehensive and rational enough to be adopted as a universal system by writers, and 2) clear and intuitive enough to be understandable to all readers of ACIM.  I think I can speak for Tony when I say that we felt that a system that could be used by everyone would facilitate our learning and the spread of ACIM.

As an example of the notation system, a quote from the Text might look like this:

"I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal."  OrEd.Tx.4.106.

There are two basic principles of the notation system that can be illustrated by this example.

The first basic principle we can see here is that periods separate major organizational levels, with the higher levels on the left and the lower levels on the right.  When a student reads a quotation from ACIM, the first thing that he needs to know is what version of ACIM is being quoted.  Is it the CIMS Original Edition?  The FIP/FACIM version?  The MIAP Urtext Manuscripts?  The "Sparkly" version?  One of the others?  "OrEd" at the far left designates the highest organizational level:  the version of the book that is being quoted is the CIMS "Original Edition".  Our notation system was intended only for the Original Edition, so we did not attempt to make up acronyms to name any of the other versions.

The next highest organizational level is the volume.  In this case "Tx" is used to indicate the Text, and there is a period between "OrEd" and "Tx".  We settled upon "WkBk" for the second volume and "Mn" for the third volume.  It's worth noting that there are other bodies of apparently channeled material that do not fall into any of the three main volumes and therefore are on the same organizational level as the three volumes.  These include the Clarification of Terms (or Use of Terms), the "pamphlets" Song of Prayer and Psychotherapy, and Gifts of God.  All of these are much shorter than the three main volumes.  These works are not found in the Original Edition, so we did not make any notation for these works.

In the Text the organizational level below volume is the chapter.  In the example above the quote comes from Chapter 4, so there is a period between "Tx" and "4".  Finally, the quote is from paragraph 106 of chapter 4, so there is a period between "4" and "106".

The second basic principle that we can see from the example above is that three things are missing.  To start with, there is no page number in this system.  Page numbers are not helpful because any given passage will be found at different pages of different printings, and the online version has no page numbers at all.  For example, the passage above might be found at different pages in the first (2006) printing, the second (2009) printing, and the large type version.  Equally important, when ACIM is translated into other languages, the page numbers will be radically different, but no matter what printing or language a reader goes to, he will still find the quote at the 106th paragraph of the 4th chapter of the Text.

We can also see that the section number is missing.  The quote above comes from section IX of Chapter Four.  However, we do not put "IX" between "4" and "106".  The reason for this is that since the paragraphs are numbered by chapter instead of by section, adding the section number would be superfluous.  If the paragraph numbering started over again at the beginning of each section, as it does in the FIP/FACIM version, then the use of the section number would be necessary.  However, we do use the section number when referring to an entire section.  The reader will see this in the complete notation system shown below.

The other thing that is missing is the sentence number.  In the example above the sentence which is quoted is the fifth sentence of paragraph 106.  However, there is no "5" after "106".  This is because the CIMS version does not have sentence numbers printed in the book.  CIMS chose not to number the sentences, partly because for some readers the sentence numbers are a distraction that interrupts the natural flow of the content.  Another reason that CIMS chose the current numbering system is because it enables us to use only two numbers to immediately point to any passage in the Text.  This is an advantage for students who feel that the FIP numbering system, which uses four numbers to point to a passage in the Text, is unnecessarily complicated.  So far I have not seen any cases where the lack of sentence numbers caused a problem for anyone.  I will mention that for clarity in my personal notes sometimes I use a colon and then the sentence number, but of course I have to count the sentences by hand in order to do this.

Here's an example of how we refer to material from the Workbook lessons:

"You will begin to understand it when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now. That is the beginning of real vision. You can be certain that real vision will come quickly when this has occurred."  OrEd.WkBk.15.2

"WkBk" is shorthand for "Workbook".  In this case, the quote is from the second paragraph of the fifteenth lesson of the Workbook.

We can observe that although Lesson 15 is in Part I of the Workbook, there is no reference to Part I in the example above.  The reason is that the lessons are numbered for the volume as a whole and the lesson numbers do not start over again with a Lesson 1 at the start of Part II; therefore, including the "part" in the notation system would be superfluous.  This is analogous to the fact that we do not use section numbers when referring to the Text.

Here's an example of how we refer to material from the Manual for Teachers sections:

"There is no challenge to a teacher of God."  OrEd.Mn.4.12

"Mn" is shorthand for Manual for Teachers, and the quote is from the 12th paragraph of the 4th section of the Manual.

At this point we can see more basic principles that guided the development of our notation system.  One of these basic principles is that although a scholar in an ivory tower might want the least number of characters, we did NOT use the least possible number of characters.  For example:

instead of OrEd.Tx.4.106 we could have written OE.T.4.106

instead of OrEd.WkBk.15.2 we could have written OE.W.15.2

instead of OrEd.Mn.4.12 we could have written OE.M.4.12

We chose to use more characters in order to create clarity and immediate intuitive recognition for everyone, especially new students.  Tony had realized from decades of teaching hundreds of students that there is a tendency for confusion to arise, and he gets credit for the idea of using a few extra characters in order to maximize clarity.

When we reached this point we had covered the great majority of the material in the book, and looking at our progress so far we observed two patterns.  The first was that all the letters were in pairs.  The second was that that we never used any vowels except initial vowels.  For example, two letters for "Manual" could have been "Ma", but "Mn" seemed more natural, and two letters for "Text" could have been "Te", but "Tx" seemed more natural.  As we finished the our project we used these principles to guide the rest of the work.

Most of the material in ACIM is found in the Text chapters, the Workbook lessons, and the Manual sections, but there are in fact twenty-seven more sections of channeled material in the Original Edition:  one in the Text, twenty-five in the Workbook, and one in the Manual.  We expanded our notation system to cover all of these sections using the same principles that we had used for the major sections.  As I mentioned before, we have left the door open for further evolution, but at the current time the entire notation system is as follows:

Basic notation:

OrEd.Tx.6.24 – Original Edition, Text, Chapter 6, paragraph 24

---- "You cannot love what you do not appreciate ..."

OrEd.WkBk.186.4 – Original Edition, Workbook, Lesson 186, paragraph 4

---- "All false humility we lay aside today ..."

OrEd.Mn.13.7 – Original Edition, Manual, Section 13, paragraph 7

---- "Do not forget that sacrifice is total."

Introduction to the Text:

OrEd.Tx.In.5 – Original Edition, Text, Introduction, paragraph 5

---- "Herein lies the peace of God."

Referring to an entire section of the Text or to the title of a section:

OrEd.Tx.25.X – Original Edition, Text, Chapter 25, Section X

Introduction to the Workbook:

OrEd.WkBk.In.2 – Original Edition, Workbook, Introduction, paragraph 2

---- "The exercises are very simple."

Referring to an entire lesson of the Workbook or to the title of a lesson:

OrEd.WkBk.106 – Original Edition, Workbook, Lesson 106

---- "Let me be still and listen to the truth."

Introductions to the Workbook review sections:

OrEd.WkBk.RvIV.11 – Original Edition, Workbook, Review IV, paragraph 11

---- "Each hour of the day bring to your mind ..."

Introduction to Lessons 181-200:

OrEd.WkBk.In181.2 – Original Edition, Workbook, Introduction to Lessons 181-200, paragraph 2

---- "Our lessons now are geared ..."

Introduction to Part II:

OrEd.WkBk.Pt2In.1 – Original Edition, Workbook, Part 2 Introduction, paragraph 1

---- "Words will mean little now."

The "Special Topics":

OrEd.WkBk.SpTp231.5 – Original Edition, Workbook, Special Topic before Lesson 231, paragraph 5

---- "From here we give salvation to the world."

"Our Final Lessons":

OrEd.WkBk.FnLs.2 – Original Edition, Workbook, Our Final Lessons, paragraph 2

---- "His is the only way to find ..."

Epilogue of the Workbook:

OrEd.WkBk.Ep.4 – Original Edition, Workbook, Epilogue, paragraph 4

---- "And now I place you in His hands ..."

Introduction to the Manual for Teachers:

OrEd.Mn.In.3 – Original Edition, Manual, Introduction, paragraph 3

---- "The curriculum that you set up ..."

As I mentioned above, we are allowing for the possibility of continued evolution of the notation system.  Personally I don't think there will be much more and that if there is more it will be minor.  The format shown above is current as of February 29, 2012.  Since the notation system was made as a joint project of members of the Community Miracles Center, the current format at any given point in time is displayed at the CMC's website, http://www.miracles-course.org/.  Look for "Orig. Edit. Notation" near the center-top of the page.

Bart Bacon

* Bart Bacon received a BA in Physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania. He served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps and was the founder and president of a money management firm. He has studied the ancient teachings of Jesus sinceBart at Estes Cone his youth. He first encountered ACIM in 1977 as a freshman in college when a friend loaned him the Manual for Teachers and has studied the course continuously since 1985. He has been an active participant in and supporter of the ACIM movement with particular emphasis on supporting translation of ACIM into other languages.

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