We have our own ideas of what miracles are, but chances are they do not include the concept that miracles are something in which you can take a course. A course, after all, is an educational program with a specific curriculum. It teaches something, and after having taken and passed it, the student has learned something new, which he or she can then apply to his or her life.
Surely miracles are not something that can be learned. How can there be a course in miracles? It may seem impossible for a course to teach miracles, yet this is exactly what A Course in Miracles does. Its goal is to teach us to recognize, accept, and perform miracles–and it tells us that this is our natural state, the purpose for which we are here.
Although this may not appear easy, it is really quite simple. All we are asked to do is to resign as our own
teacher (T-12.V.8:3) and unlearn what we have taught ourselves about the world, others, and ourselves! Question the idea that we are bodies separate from one another, that the world is a fearsome place, that we had better defend and protect ourselves, and that we are somehow lacking and unworthy. In exchange for all that, we are asked to learn the lessons offered by the Course, the lessons of love and forgiveness, the lessons of truth that pave the way to miraculous living.
According to the traditional dictionary definition, a miracle is “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world which surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.” A divine power seems to come in and break the laws of nature, giving us a glimpse of a greater reality.
Typically, when we ask for a miracle, we want some sort of change in our outer lives, our relationships, or in our physical well-being. In the Course’s view, a miracle may include extraordinary cures and changes in the physical realm but these are only possible by-products, of the real miracle, which is a healing of the mind, a reawakening of the mind to true reality. That reality is essentially that we are not limited to a physical body. We are all equally holy creations of a loving God, expressions of God’s love, beyond all time and space, unaffected by the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” Miracles occur naturally when we accept this truth.
In their book, The Answer Is a Miracle, Robert Perry and Allen Watson offer this Course definition of a miracle: “the activity of the Holy Spirit that shifts our perception from false to true and thereby grants us unconditional instantaneous and free deliverance from the imprisoning (yet illusory) problems of the world” (p.18).
Here’s how it happens. The cause of all our misery is our limited perception of ourselves and others as lacking, powerless, vulnerable, unloving, unworthy, guilty, a victim or attacker. It is only when our perception changes and we learn to see things differently that healing can come to us. So we decide that we want to see things differently. We want to see peace instead of conflict, love instead of fear, joy instead of pain. We decide to refrain from judging, to reach out instead of withdraw, to see others as holy guiltless creations with whom we are joined rather than separate. We become willing to let go of our limited and limiting perceptions and distorted concepts of a person, situation, or external event in our lives, and of ourselves, and look beyond them to the truth of our reality, the truth that joins us all. We ask the Holy Spirit to help us correct of our faulty thinking and stop seeing ourselves as victims and others as our enemies.
This is what the Course calls forgiveness, and it is forgiveness which paves the way to miracles. There is an instant–what the Course calls a holy instant–in which, as we let go of our grievances against others, we feel a melting away of our fear, anger, judgments, anxiety, and are filled with a sense of love, oneness, and freedom.
I had such an experience a few weeks ago when I was driving my husband James to work early in the morning. We were doing our Course spiritual practice as we went, mine being, “God is my Source. I cannot see apart from Him” (W-pI.43). As I was driving along, I decided to apply it to everyone and everything I looked upon; for instance, “I cannot see that person who just cut me off as apart from God.” With each successive application, I was flooded with emotion and my eyes filled with tears as I realized that since I was one with God, it was impossible for me to see apart from God. I could only see as God did, that is, with nothing but unconditional love and acceptance. I could only see everyone and everything in its true state of lovingness, despite appearances to the contrary. There was no separate them and me, only a joining in which we were one. In that holy instant, I was filled with love, peace, and joy, and felt at one with all of God’s creations.
That was the miracle, that sudden shift in my perception which allowed me to see truly. It healed my mind of my judgments, fears, anger, resentment, and impatience, reawakening me to the truth of which we all are a part. I am convinced that seeing everyone and everything in that healed perception had an effect on them as well as on me. It makes sense that loving thoughts would produce more loving thoughts, whereas unloving thoughts would produce more of the same. In my offering a miracle–a healed perception–to others, my own awareness of the truth was strengthened and reinforced, and I become more aware of the truth of my own being.
The power of reality came rushing into my illusory world of time and space, impatience with “bad” drivers, and resentment about too-early mornings after not enough sleep. It shone the illusions away and gave me a glimpse of eternity and infinity. In that instant I was free, full of love, and in touch with the truth, and I was immensely grateful. Everything looked different to me. I don’t know if my healed perception actually caused a change in the outer world, but that didn’t matter. The change in the inner world was miraculous enough for me!
The Course wants us to live miraculous lives in which we express love as our natural state. It teaches us how miracles can become as natural as breathing (T-21.V.3:4). We accept healing into our minds, extend it to others, and it is thus reinforced in us, strengthening our experience of God’s love and our resolve to be an expression of that love. This is the Course’s way of teaching–training–us to become miracle workers.
All miracles are the natural expressions of love, gifts of love from God. A goal of A Course in Miracles is to teach us to accept those gifts of love and offer them to everyone. Only that can bring us peace and freedom. As we practice accepting miracles into our own minds and offering them to others, we learn to become miracle workers and experience A Course in Miracles’ promise of “total, miraculous liberation from all chains. That is why it is a course in miracles” (Robert Perry, “Miracles as the Power of Reality“ www.circleofa.org/articles/MiraclesAsReality.php).
People like stories about miracles. Miracles seem to appeal to a deep yearning within us for a way out of our human condition and problematic circumstances, even for an instant. We long for peace, joy, and freedom, something to believe in a world of constant change and suffering. We take hope from stories of miracles and miracle workers, but we usually don’t see ourselves as either deserving of miracles or able to experience them, let alone perform them. This, however, is exactly what A Course in Miracles says that we can all experience and learn. The Course is here to help us learn how to do both, because that is precisely why we are here. It is up to us to decide whether or not we want to be â”loveless [or] miraculous channels of expression” (T-1.V.3). One keeps us in a hell of our own making, the other points the way to the return to Heaven.
First published in Tone magazine, September 2006.