A New Realities Interview with
Judith R. Skutch
Conducted by James Bolen in 1977
About this Interview
President of the Foundation for Inner Peace in New York, Judith Skutch has been called a "cosmic catalyst" in the field of consciousness exploration. Her studies and activities have helped in large measure to bring understanding and responsible communication to this enigmatic, challenging field. In this first-time, exclusive interview, Mrs. Skutch shares her powerful experiences and discoveries in consciousness exploration, as well as personally reveals how a new-age thought system (A Course in Miracles) has dramatically changed her life and the lives of others.
~By James Bolen
©1977, All Rights Reserved,
Used with Permission
NEW REALITIES: How did you become interested in the field of consciousness
SKUTCH: Initially through my own experience, particularly one
in childhood which was profoundly mystical. Years later, still remembering
its impact, I began to question the nature of reality as defined by
the physical world. My questioning took a more direct form as it became
apparent that my three-year-old daughter was displaying unique abilities
one could call parapsychological.
NEW REALITIES: Let's start with the mystical experience.
SKUTCH: It occurred when I was thirteen. I was in the state between
half asleep and half awake and started to slip into blackness. I struggled
with tremendous fear against losing myself. The emotional pain was
intense. Then the shape of a triangle seemed superimposed on my mind
and I felt my consciousness forced through the triangle's apex, which
I equated with death. Instead of annihilation I suddenly sensed myself
suspended in a unified field. There was no perception, just a feeling
of beautiful, distilled, absolute light.
NEW REALITIES: You could then see things?
SKUTCH: I was not a body. I was seeing without eyes. It was more
an awareness of a total reality that far transcends the senses.
It was the epitome of knowledge. It was atonement, it was joy,
it was peace. I remember so vividly feeling the thought, "At last I'm
home," and when that occurred to me there was an echoing voice
from within and all around me saying, "Now you know, now you
know, now you know. . ." I didn't know what I knew, but I knew
all. Does that make any sense?
NEW REALITIES: Sounds like a mystical paradox. . .
SKUTCH: William James wrote that such experiences are ineffable.
One cannot translate them; we just don't have the adequate language.
NEW REALITIES: What happened when you awakened?
SKUTCH: I tried to tell my mother about the "dream" but
couldn't convey its meaning. For quite a while afterwards I felt
euphoric, filled with wonder, happiness, and relief.
NEW REALITIES: So you acquired knowledge that death wasn't what you
SKUTCH: You can say I intuited immediately that my view of death
had been erroneous. Also, this has been substantiated by other experiences
– psychic in nature – such as a fall from a window when I was very
small, and how I watched my body fall from an out-of-the-body position.
Or the time I was ill and managed to put my fingers, so I thought,
through the bed.
NEW REALITIES: What about your daughter and her abilities?
I was not interested at all in what we call the psychic until
well after Tammy's birth. My educational background, both graduate
and undergraduate, was in journalism, This was put to use in the college
text department of a publishing firm in New York City, writing
advertising copy for book jackets. When my first child Jonathan was
born a neighbor and I began a small private business, which I conducted
at home. So I was very busy with pragmatic matters.
Tammy was very small she seemed to be attuned to the world around
her in a way that went beyond the five senses. Quite often she was
able to know what I was thinking and feeling, and to act upon this
knowledge. She also had precognitive dreams which accurately predicted
short-range future events. When one of her dreams disturbed her, I
would soothe her and remind her it was "only a dream." But she would insist it was real, and actually
called such dreams of the future "reals." I recalled some
of the reports I had heard about J.B. and Louisa Rhine's work
with ESP and card guessing, and was not too surprised to find
my daughter, at the age of 5 or 6, facile in this area, too.
NEW REALITIES: Did you connect your earlier experiences with your
SKUTCH: Not at first. But subconsciously I must have been receptive
to the idea. I certainly didn't feel threatened or think she was strange.
Not too long ago Tammy told me that it was my casual acceptance of
these incidents that allowed her the freedom to develop.
NEW REALITIES: When did you get more than vaguely interested in
SKUTCH: When I began to notice my daughter's growth; how she used
her ability in a natural, constructive way. How she wasn't fearful
of her talents; how comfortable she was with this higher sense
perception. The paranormal traits Tammy exhibited seemed to be
just an extension of her lovingness, and, because of this, phenomenology
somehow became equated in my belief system with minds joining
in a caring way. I began to feel that the study of the psychic
would lead to understanding of the soul. And it was this understanding
that would point me toward the Source, which was "home."
was in 1968, when I started to devour as much as I could in print
on ESP. Soon reading was not enough, and I attended lectures,
joined organizations such as the American Society for Psychical
Research and the Association for Research and Enlightenment. There
weren't many classes at the University level then, and I took
them all. By this time I was a partner in a manufacturing company
involved in interior design. But the more I explored parapsychology,
the more I was drawn to the subject. Very quickly this avocation
became my occupation. I met and developed close friendships with
many experimenters in the field. . . sort of an instant apprenticeship.
The group at Maimonides Dream Lab – Stanley Krippner, Montague
Ullman, and Charles Honorton and their staffs – did the first
formal study with my daughter. Ian Stevenson, Lawrence LeShan,
Karlis Osis . . . learning from them all catapulted me into a
commitment to psi research.
It was around this time in 1971 that my grandmother – who was a guiding influence in my life – became very ill and wasn't expected to live much longer. In trying to get over my fear of losing her, and to share something meaningful in her last months, I started to read to her from books on survival. "The Tibetan Book of the Dead," the Cayce material, reincarnation literature, anything I could get my hands on.
NEW REALITIES: Did
she come to believe in survival because of this?
SKUTCH: She remained rather ambivalent about it, but open. I had
many unanswered questions, but was willing to listen. In the ASPR
newsletter I came across Ian Stevenson's plea for subjects for
his combination padlock test for survival. My grandmother liked
the challenge, and following Dr. Stevenson's experimental design
she set a padlock, choosing an emotionally charged six-letter
word, known only to her, as its opening combination. But first
she translated the letters of the word into numbers. The hypothesis
was that a word which had strong meaning to the subject could
better be "remembered" through
the trauma of death than three sets of numbers. We mailed the
lock to the University of Virginia to Dr. Stevenson, where he
asked psychics to try to perceive clairvoyantly the combination
in advance of her death.
days after my grandmother died I was in her room sorting some
of her things when I heard what seemed to be an external voice, loud
and clear, ordering, "Go
see Ena Twigg." As I hadn't been interested in mediumship before this,
I didn't know Ena Twigg and I didn't know she lived in London. Dr. Stevenson
encouraged me to act upon the "command," in fact it was such a
strong experience that I just couldn't not do it. My husband Bob, and I
were completely unknown to Mrs. Twigg when we appeared on her doorstep with
our tape recorder as our "objective witness." That sitting
changed our lives. What was an intellectual pursuit became an
emotional certainty, as we heard fact after fact that could be
verified. Names, dates, places poured out of Mrs. Twigg, as well
as compelling unambiguous phrases which painted a perfect personality
picture of my grandmother. At one point Mrs. Twigg insisted that
there was a specific word she was trying to give, which was important
to us. The word finally did come through – a highly relevant
six-letter word. . . one that none of us ever would have guessed,
I might add. Unfortunately, however, it didn't open the lock.
NEW REALITIES: How did you feel then about survival?
SKUTCH: As I said, there was still an emotional certainty – so
we didn't give up. We had many more sittings with well recommended
mediums, until we had a body of cross-referenced material that
seemed to fit together like some cosmic jig-saw puzzle. The lock was
never opened, but that did not negate the impact of the whole experience.
We were definitely convinced that consciousness was not limited
to the parameters of the human body. But we still had a driving need
for objective evidence to share with others. And we felt the right
road to follow led to scientific investigation. So we decided
the best way to go about it was to start a private, non-profit foundation
that would be able to fund research projects in the areas in which
we were interested. And so the Foundation for ParaSensory Investigation
NEW REALITIES: What generally have you done through it?
SKUTCH: Our first major effort was helping to support experiments in altered states of consciousness at the Dream Lab at Maimonides Hospital in New York. We were drawn to this work primarily because we believed in the efforts of the people there who had become our good friends. When they thought a project was worth funding, we would try to raise the money that was needed. These were not large projects, but rather attempts to help get worthwhile research started with seed money. Then, if the work showed promise, we found that larger organizations were more inclined to offer help to continue the funding.
We were also enthusiastic about Larry LeShan's early work in paranormal
healing. Under Larry's guidance at one of his training seminars
at our home, my husband's deep interest in healing was awakened. It
was shortly after this that, at Larry's suggestion, we sponsored a
healing conference to bring much of the information on the subject
to the attention of the public. Our first healing conference was held
in 1973 at Lincoln Center in New York, and was attended by over 1100
people. At Stan Krippner's urging, we sponsored many other conferences
aimed at awakening the public's interest in psi. The most important
of these was the First and Second Western Hemisphere Conferences
on Accupunture, Kirlian Photography and the Human Aura, which led
to the publication of their proceedings. Besides disseminating a great
deal of information, our conferences also allowed us to meet and
know people such as Sister Justa Smith, Olga Worrall, Douglas Dean,
and medical doctors like Carl Simonton, Norman Shealy, and Jerome
NEW REALITIES: You also worked with people such as Uri Geller
and Ingo Swann, didn't you?
SKUTCH: That came a bit later. In 1973 the astronaut Edgar Mitchell,
who had just retired from the Navy, was publicly talking about
mystical experiences he had during his moonshot. He said he had an
overwhelming sense of planetary consciousness, and was eager to work
toward trying to achieve this vision. For many years he had been
interested in psi phenomena, and wanted to help promote scientific research in this field. We met and recognized that we shared the same goals. Ed formed The Institute of Noetic Sciences, and invited me to join his board of directors. It was Ed Mitchell who brought Uri Geller to my attention, which was quite a meeting. At a friend's home we witnessed enough dramatic psychokinesis to convince us that Uri had to be studied. Ed arranged to have Noetics sponsor the work at Stanford Research Institute, and our foundation funneled some of the funds. This led to a continuing study investigating remote viewing, and resulted in a paper which was published in the prestigious British journal "Nature," which also included work done with Ingo Swann and Patrick Price.
NEW REALITIES: What up to this time had made the greatest impression
SKUTCH: It's so hard to isolate a single factor. Certainly I could
name the people I was involved with. My whole life was centered
around them and their activities. I learned so much from them
and our enthusiasms were the same. But I guess the most striking
thing to me was the way I was continually groping for answers
that always seemed beyond my reach. I respected the scientific
approach, supported it, and believed that it was absolutely necessary,
but I also felt an intense impatience while waiting for the answers.
There seemed to be something more I had to do. I was aware of
a growing emptiness. The synchronicity of events leading me forward
had ceased to startle me, and an awareness of something I call "guidance" was
NEW REALITIES: It sounds like you began to experience a great
deal more than you bargained for.
SKUTCH: Did I ever! As I reviewed all my activities at the time
– teaching at New York University, fund raising for Noetics, traveling
and lecturing, radio and TV appearances, as well as beginning
my doctoral work at the Humanistic Psychology Institute – I kept
reassuring myself that I was having a happy and productive life.
My entire family was involved in the same interests. Why should
I feel so unfulfilled? I began to have dreams that were a continuation
of my earliest mystical experience. This time there seemed to
be a message in all of them, a message which – now this is going
to sound funny because it's archaic, but I have no better way
to express it – it was a message which "bespoke
NEW REALITIES: How so?
SKUTCH: An all-embracing, universal love that bordered on ecstasy.
For me it was far beyond human understanding, yet very real. In
fact, it was so real that in one of my dreams when I "lost" it
I kept looking for "my map home." Of course I recognized
that I seemed to be jogging an ancient memory. Anyway, I did something
totally out of character. I asked the universe for help.
NEW REALITIES: And did it answer?
SKUTCH: I've come to the conclusion that whenever anyone really
asks for help on matters such as these. . . one had better duck.
The answers come that fast. Mine came in 1500 pages of an unpublished
manuscript called A Course in Miracles, which I came across
in an amazing way.
NEW REALITIES: So what is it, and what was so amazing?
SKUTCH: Before I tell you, I'm going to have to explain why I
cannot name the two individuals involved in this "Course in Miracles." It
is at their request that they remain anonymous, as they feel the material
they "brought forth" does not need their identification
to make it valid. It speaks for itself. So I will refer to them
only as Dr. H. and Dr. B.
NEW REALITIES: Well, we don't as a policy like anonymity, but
since you've been kind enough to stick your neck out, tell us
SKUTCH: I was speaking at a research seminar at the New York Academy
of Medicine in 1975, where Douglas Dean was chairman. He introduced
me to a Professor who was a psychologist from a major Eastern
university affiliated with a medical school. The Professor, Dr.
B., invited both of us to lunch at the University to talk about
mutual interests related to healing. This delighted me because
I was trying hard to interest the orthodox medical community in
more holistic approaches to healing. I thought that perhaps we
could stimulate at least a few physicians to conduct some good
related research that would help lead us to a better understanding
of "new realities." In
this way, we might spark a new relationship between the professionals
in the field of medical healing and other people with healing
When we arrived for lunch that day we were met by Dr. B. and his colleague, Dr. H., a woman and research psychologist who was also a professor at the University. At lunch we mostly discussed research, but somehow I had a strong sense that there was another purpose for our being there. As Dr. H. and I were talking, I suddenly felt that she was attuned to something of far greater interest to me than the specifics of research design. At that point she and Dr. B. took us back to their office for a more private discussion. There, they began to share a story with us that was to be a turning point in my life, and I think in many other lives too. The story didn't seem bizarre to me after so many years of exposure to the different ways in which unusual information can be received. But to Dr. H. and Dr. B. it was apparently painful to discuss what had been a hidden secret for almost ten years. Their reluctance was certainly understandable in this orthodox, academic setting, where this sort of thing would really be unacceptable, to say the least.
They had been working together in a highly competitive
academic setting for many years, and had developed a close friendship
which was sometimes strained by the stress-filled environment.
One day Dr. B. unexpectedly announced that he was tired of the angry
and aggressive feelings their attitudes reflected, and concluded that "There must be another way." As if on cue,
Dr. H. agreed to help him find it. Apparently this Course ("A Course in
Miracles") is the "other way." Three startling months preceded
the actual writing, during which time Dr. B. suggested that she
write down the highly symbolic dreams and descriptions of the
unusual images that were coming to her. Remember, this was totally
foreign to her background and personality.
NEW REALITIES: What kind of dreams and images did she experience?
SKUTCH: In one of the earliest images which seemed to happen in
a waking dissociated state, Dr. H. saw herself in a boat moving
slowly along a very straight canal The sides of the canal were
lined with lovely old trees, green lawns, and banks of flowers.
She wondered if there was buried treasure there, and thought to
herself, dreamily, "I
shouldn't be surprised if there were." Then she noticed a long
pole, with a large hook on the end, lying on the bottom of the boat.
She lowered the pole into the water as far as she could. The hook
caught something heavy, and she raised it from the water. It was an
ancient treasure chest that was very worn from the water. The bottom
was covered with seaweed. She managed to get it into the boat, where
she opened it with great excitement. However, she was bitterly disappointed.
She expected to find some jewels or at least some rare coins, but
all she found in the chest was a large black book. The binding was
like the spring binders that are used for holding manuscripts or papers
together, and on the spine was written a single word in gold: "Aesculapius." The
word was familiar to her, but she could not remember what it meant.
She and Dr. B. tried to recall its meaning but couldn't. They looked
up "Aesculapius" and found it was the name of the Greek
god of healing. In a subsequent image "installment" Dr.
H. saw the book again. This time there was a string of pearls around
it. Neither of them had any idea what the symbols stood for until
years later, when the typed manuscript of A Course in Miracles was
put in black thesis binders for safekeeping – similar to what
she had seen earlier.
NEW REALITIES: How many of these experiences did Dr. H. have?
SKUTCH: Literally dozens. And as they told me about the more dramatic
ones, I began to recognize that this woman had compressed into
a three month span some of the most incredible psychic visions
I had ever heard. But what was even more potent was that they
had a definite purpose in their sequence, and led up to her readiness
to "scribe" the
NEW REALITIES: How so?
SKUTCH: Late one night Dr. H. heard what she described as an "inner
voice" that seemed to be urging her to take down what it would
be dictating. When it started she was very frightened, and called
Dr. B. on the phone to tell him what she had just heard. It was: "This
is a Course in Miracles, please take notes." She was panicky,
and asked what she should do. He suggested that she should just take
down whatever she heard, and they would look at it together in the
morning. The next morning they started a way of working together that
continued throughout the "scribing" of the Course.
Dr. H. would write down what she heard in a shorthand notebook, and
Dr. B. would type it unedited from her dictation. The writing itself
was always under her conscious control, and never automatic. She
could be interrupted at any time, and could just pick it up and
go on later from where she left off. The words came so rapidly
that she could hardly keep up with them even though she was proficient
NEW REALITIES: How long did this entire process take?
SKUTCH: It took six years, and what emerged were three
books. The first one is a text that lays the theoretical foundation
for the Course's belief system. The next one is a workbook
for students with a lesson a day for a year. The lessons are gently
graduated so that they correct the student's misperception of
reality, and bring him to an awareness of what he truly is. The third
book is a manual for teachers, which raises many specific questions
and answers them. It also has a glossary of special terms the Course uses.
When the dictation ended, there were some 1500 typewritten pages
of material, and probably about 500,000 words.
NEW REALITIES: What is its essence, and why did it have such an
impact upon you.
SKUTCH: When I was shown the material that day, I immediately
read the introductory paragraph:
is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time
you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can
establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what
you want to take at a given time. the Course does not aim
at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught.
It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of
love's presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite
of love is fear, but what is all- encompassing can have no opposite.
course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God."
Instantaneously I knew that this was my "map home."
NEW REALITIES: You read only that much and could come to that
SKUTCH: Yes. There was a sense of compelling recognition. It seemed
as if all the experiences I'd ever had prepared me for, and culminated
in, this moment.
NEW REALITIES: And the essence. . .
SKUTCH: Basically, the essence is spiritual truth – the same truth that has always been. But the Course expresses this truth in an inspired, poetic, and practical way that surpasses anything else I have seen. Spiritual and psychological themes are woven in a specific and organized way. Throughout our lives we are constantly reminded to "love thy neighbor;" this Course tells us how. I like to think of it as the definitive, spiritual "How to. . ." book. The primary emphasis is on how we can remove the blocks to our awareness of love's presence. It offers us a means to do this through showing us just how to forgive, and in doing this, to heal all our personal relationships. Shifting our perceptions away from ego identification, as the term is used in the Course, is the problem we all have to overcome. It is not easy! For the ego's idea is "here I am, alone, trying to fight my way through this." As long as we believe we are individual egos in competition with each other and with the universe, we cannot recognize that we have never been really separated from our Source or from each other. Through forgiving others we forgive ourselves, and so we gradually become aware of the one Self that we all share.
NEW REALITIES: Had Dr. H. been familiar with anything like this
or curious about it prior to its occurrence?
SKUTCH: No, not at all. Quite the contrary. She had struggled
with religion in her early life, gave it up, and had come to think
of herself as an atheist. She would even become annoyed when somebody
mentioned God. All this was the antithesis of what she wanted
to be; an orthodox research psychologist, with no time for nonprovable,
important for me that neither of these two people had the background
or interest in spiritual literature or psychical experiences that
might have prepared them for this. Yet the ideas are entirely
compatible with mystical tradition, presented in a form that makes
it particularly useful for our Western society today.
NEW REALITIES: In what way?
SKUTCH: Because the Course is Christian in
statement, and yet it deals with universal spiritual themes and not
with religious doctrines. Its purpose is to help us achieve a universal
spiritual experience. Whatever path we choose, the purpose is always
to help us reach a state where we recognize our oneness with the
All. The Course does not claim to be the only way of reaching
this. Actually, it combines a lot of Eastern approaches within
a more familiar Western framework. That's why Dr. B. sometimes
calls it the "Christian
NEW REALITIES: What's the workbook with a-Iesson-a-day like?
SKUTCH: It's designed to speed up a shifting in our attitudes
from fear to love. So it is change in the way we see ourselves
that we're after. Changing perception can, of course, be personally
very stressful at times. I think that the difficulty is due to
all the unfinished business in our lives that comes up for review
and for letting go. And if we want to lead loving, spiritual lives,
we must get through the unfinished business of our strained relationships
quickly. There is likely to be a lot of stress that can be temporarily
unsettling as we begin to face these unresolved problems. The
workbook is a tool to help speed up our recognition that we have
the ability to deal with these problems. For example, daily lessons
range from "I
am never upset for the reason I think," and "There is another
way of looking at the world," to "My mind is part of God's.
I am very holy," and "I trust my brothers, who are one with
me." Also, the Course stresses that it's an "unlearning
system" that helps us give up illusions and reach through to
the knowledge that we are created by God. And that as one with
God we can practice the kind of forgiveness that leads to a loving
recognition of this oneness. It is achievement of this state that
takes us to the threshold where God can take over for us. So we
are helped to work through our misperceptions about ourselves
and our fellow human beings and the whole world around us, and
can arrive at a total awareness of what we truly are – Spirit.
NEW REALITIES: What other basic teachings does the Course deal
SKUTCH: Well, the problem of guilt, which is central
to our mistaken perceptual belief system. Guilt necessarily reinforces
fear and whatever form fear may seem to take – hate, anger, depression,
and so on. The central conflict is always between fear and love.
Fear leads to anger and hate. If we did not experience fear how
could we ever be angry? It is dealing with the fear, learning
how to let it go that helps us relinquish our belief in the reality
of guilt. In the Course, we, the whole human race, are called "God's Son." And
God's Son is sinless. Because we are each His Son. His real Son
cannot sin, so there is no need for punishment. We certainly all
make lots of mistakes in our lives, but mistakes call for correction
instead of punishment. So here is a central shift in the usual
belief system. By not seeing anyone else as guilty, and by extending
love instead of fear, we can begin to recognize the truth about
our real identity as a sinless Son of God. It's both simple and
profound, and also hard to practice – to overcome our lifelong
conditioning and to accept our reality instead.
NEW REALITIES: Have you been able to apply any of these concepts
SKUTCH: Oh, yes. If the method didn't work for me I would have
thrown it out months ago. I can give you an example. One day not
too long ago, I had to take a trip in the New York City subway
system. That week a woman had been violently attacked on an almost
empty subway car, and I entered the train with uneasiness. And
it just happened that I too found myself seated alone except for
three rowdy youths across from me. I heard one of them remark
what an easy "rip
off" I would be, and they appeared to be under the influence
of drugs. There is no doubt I was fearful. And also angry. They appeared
very menacing. My workbook lesson for that day was "I trust my
brothers who are one with me." Practicing this required extending
my loving thoughts to anyone I perceived as attacking or threatening
me. Although I considered trying to summon a guard by pulling the
emergency cord, I forced myself to let go of my fear and ask my Higher
Self for help. I began to exchange my fears of these young men for
thoughts of compassion for their difficult lives and unmet needs.
Finally, the "miracle" occurred. An internal burst of light
transformed my vision of them into a totally different view. I actually
felt love for them pouring out of me, and as I responded to this in
wonder I smiled at my challengers. Something happened. They appeared
a bit surprised and smiled back. And when they were about to leave
the train, one of them gave a mock salute and said pleasantly, "Goodbye,
NEW REALITIES: Frequent expressions like "Son of God," "sin," "guilt" and
so on, give it the flavor of a new religion or cult borrowed from
the old. Is it a new religion?
SKUTCH: No, it isn't a religion, and shouldn't be confused
with theological systems. The distinction between truth and illusion
is a very major one in the Course, but it does not require
a commitment to religion. The Course is actually opposed to the idea
of introducing a new system, and just tries to encourage people to
work within whatever their present framework is, with this as an additional
dimension. There are no "gurus" and no "official establishment." The
emphasis is always on the Inner Teacher, speaking to each of us
according to our understanding and our needs.
NEW REALITIES: Why do you think the Course carries
a Christian theme, then – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – if you think
SKUTCH: It answers this question itself – because Christianity
is the predominant religion in the Western world, and its history
or some of its beliefs are not very Christian. The Course tries
to help us understand spiritual teachings without the distortions
involved in institutionalization. Some Biblical scholars, in fact,
have told us that the material seems to be very close to what
the early Christians probably believed. I think there comes a time
in everyone's spiritual life when symbols and forms no longer matter.
. . and when people are ready, they can feel the essence of a
teaching rather than be distracted by the words. I myself am Jewish,
but I was not the least bit threatened by the Christian terminology
because in my heart I recognized the truth of the Course's
teaching. My father has been prominent in Jewish communal life for
many years and is a recent past President of the World Council of
Synagogues, so I was exposed to a full range of Jewish tradition and
thought through my childhood. This also included extensive religious
education. In fact, Abraham Herschel, the late Professor of Jewish
Ethics and Mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary, was one of
my early idols. With these strong roots in Judaism, perhaps I have
been better able to appreciate the broad spectrum of the Judeo-Christian
NEW REALITIES: How do women react to the constant use of the masculine
SKUTCH: When I am asked that question, and of course I am, many
times, as I lecture around the country, I have to reiterate that
this Course aims at correcting many of our past misperceptions
and reinterprets word usage. So that "brother" refers to our oneness in relationships
and "son" is used because it is the Biblical term. I suspect
that when these terms bother people they are actually becoming
defensive. It would be pretty awkward to have to say "Son" or
"Daughter" as the case may be every time the term comes up. And
I'm sure that in the Kingdom of Heaven there are no gender identity
NEW REALITIES: Why do you suppose it was given the title, "A Course
in Miracles?" It seems like a rather provocative, presumptuous
SKUTCH: Maybe because the redefinition of miracles
that is given at the very beginning of the text really sums up the Course's
philosophy. (See miracles examples at end of interview.) It tells
what a miracle is and what it is not – its importance is not in
physical demonstrations, but the underlying love that unites us
all. Miracles merely correct the mistakes in thinking we have
made. They are natural, being inspired by love, and since love
is maximal, there are no large or small miracles. They come only
to point to their Source – to truth and ultimately to God. When
I showed the fifty principles of miracles, which are listed in
the first volume, to my friends in parapsychology, the general
reaction was, "Of
course. A perfect description of psychic phenomena."
NEW REALITIES: Is this why you've changed your foundation's name
from Foundation for ParaSensory Investigation to Foundation for
SKUTCH: When I was introduced to the material by Dr. H. and Dr.
B. they weren't surprised to see my affinity to it. The "inner
voice" had also predicted that "a woman would come along who would know
what to do with it," and they had been instructed to hand the
manuscript over to her. It had also indicated that that woman
was now ready for her own spiritual education, which, of course
was truth to my ears. My path was made clear. I just knew it was
my life's work. The change of the foundation's name was a reflection
of this realization.
NEW REALITIES: This has been a tremendous leap for you, from parapsychological
research to a spiritually oriented belief system. What do your
friends and colleagues think?
SKUTCH: First of all, it didn't seem like a leap to me, but only
a natural progression. We're each searching for the identical
solution, which I believe is within us all. Naturally, when I show
this material to my more academically minded friends and to people
in the medical community. I try to pick out those who already are
attuned to this way of thinking, and like me, are searching for a
suitable form. This one seems to have a great appeal to psychiatrists,
psychologists, hypnotherapists and other people who are concerned
with psychotherapy, since it has a direct application to their work.
In a sense, it is a psychotherapeutic system; it says that only the
mind can be sick or mistaken – and the body simply responds to the
errors of the mind in terms of physical illness.
the Course, I have gained a clearer sense of what healing
is all about, and how it can be applied by each of us, individually.
Sickness is incorrect thinking and can be healed by correct thinking.
It is a mistake that must be corrected at its source. Healing
is of the mind, since only the mind can make mistakes. I had to
use this myself, dramatically, to fully appreciate it. For years
I had bouts with stomach ulcers and soon after I began the Course,
I had a severe attack. I tried everything, orthodox medicine,
psychic healing, diet – to no avail. I was told I would need an
operation. One day in terrible pain, it just dawned on me that
I was using my illness to cry out for an immediate slow-down which,
according to my work ethic, I wouldn't allow myself to take. Something
clicked and I felt a draining of the tension, fear and anger that
had been lodged in a painful way in my midsection. I decided I
did not want or need this illness any longer. I could give myself
that rest guiltlessly. Within three days my X-rays were clear,
and I've never had an attack since.
NEW REALITIES: Sounds a little like Science of Mind. . .
SKUTCH: There are a number of similarities, although
these are only a small part of a much more comprehensive thought system
developed in the Course.
NEW REALITIES: What do you see as your next step in all of this
SKUTCH: It is still very important to me to support scientific
research in the field of consciousness exploration, and to encourage
investigation of those individuals with exceptional abilities
who seem to point toward higher human potential. I'll continue to
do this through the excellent work of the Institute of Noetic Sciences.
For now, I'm just beginning to learn to apply the principles of the Course. Although I know I will be sharing it with others, basically I do that to learn it better myself. In the last two years as I've addressed thousands of people on this subject, I realize there is an overwhelming hunger for spiritual truths. But it isn't in an intellectual way. That hunger is for the experience. I was most impressed with a recent survey conducted at the University of Chicago, National Opinion Research Center, by Andrew M. Greeley and William C. McCready. They reported their findings in an article in the New York Times Magazine Section, January 26, 1975. The article was entitled, "Are We a Nation of Mystics?" and it claimed that four out of ten Americans have experienced a mystical state. One of their conclusions was that these episodes are for most people positive, constructive and healthy, and that the profiles of those people pointed to mental health at a very high level.
I was amused at their observation that "if anything else but ‘ecstasy' were that good for you, it would sell as if it wouldn't be on the market next year." The Course states that a universal theology is impossible but that a universal experience is imperative. To me the greatest advantage of the Course is that it is so useful. It shows you how to shift your relationships in the direction of love, away from fear and attack and hate. The emphasis is always on forgiveness, sinlessness, guiltlessness, and letting go of all the obstacles to peace.
There's a quotation I've always liked, I think
Lincoln said it – "The best way to overcome your enemies is to make
them friends." Well, the Course goes even further. And
this is my goal, or as you asked, my next step. You can let the enemies
you thought you saw become your saviors. And in this is the universal
experience, the recognition of our Oneness with each other and so
with God. When we reach this stage in our learning, our Creator will
take the final step, and we will be "home."
Biography: Judith R. Skutch
As president of the Foundation for Inner Peace, Judith R. Skutch's life
in the 1970s can best be summarized as a typical day in her consciousness
exploratorium salon in the Skutch's large New York City apartment.
In one room a motion picture is being screened to a group interested
in biofeedback. In another are seekers deep in meditation training.
In still another room a medical research meeting is in progress.
herself seems to be in all places at once as she also juggles three telephones
connecting people in the consciousness field to each other. And at any given
moment, one might find an Edgar Mitchell, a Swami Muktananda or an Uri Geller
on hand, not to mention the usual assortment of mediums, mystics, and scientists
– or just friends of friends. To a first-time visitor, it seems a miracle
that such a petite lady can keep all of this going at once, in addition
to often serving her home-cooked dinners to those gathered.
surprise, but not to those who know her, Judy Skutch has been
described as "den mother to parapsychology," a "cosmic catalyst," and
a "Perle Mesta of Psi." Whatever, she is constantly being lauded
for the cross-fertilization of people and ideas at her salon, which has
also been labeled "a place of intellectual ferment."
in Brooklyn, New York, where she graduated from Midwood High School,
Skutch earned a degree in journalism from Hood College in Maryland,
and has done graduate work at Columbia. Periodically during her childhood,
she experienced various mystical and psychic experiences, yet did
not attempt to clarify or explore them – until later. The "later" came
when her daughter displayed psychic abilities such as telepathy, clairvoyance
and precognition which eventually got her into intensely studying
and actively participating in the consciousness field. One thing
led to another, and she wound up supporting the field by helping
raise research funds and bringing people together – along with starting
and heading a non-profit Foundation.
Skutch discovered and published a unique thought system called "A Course
in Miracles" which she has introduced to people and leaders in consciousness
exploration who have found it a shared focal point. "The way
I came in touch with the Course, as well as the people who
‘scribed' it, was totally serendipitous," she emphasizes. She was searching for a way of unifying
what seemed to be meaningful but fragmented data in parapsychology which
she could apply directly to her own experience. A "chance" meeting
with two psychologists in eminent positions in the medical school
of an eastern university and the unexpected occurred – Skutch
was presented with the Course. She now devotes the majority
of her time to the Course and its philosophy.
educator who crisscrosses the country lecturing and teaching on
university campuses, Judy Skutch is also a faculty member of New
York University, where she has been conducting courses in experimental
parapsychology and new dimensions in healing. She's also a voting
member of the American Society for Psychical Research and a member of the
Parapsychological Association. She has appeared on numerous radio and television
programs such as The Mike Douglas Show, the Barbara Walters Show, and Eyewitness
News. She has also been a consultant to many authors and film
producers involved in reporting new-age developments and is active as vice-chairman
of the board of The Institute of Noetic Sciences, founded by former
astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell. Judy Skutch and her husband Robert make the
family home for their four children in New York City.
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