A Course in Miracles is not a handbook for a lifelong spiritual practice of nondual bliss. It is not a new age fantasy of oneness with the cosmos. Its lessons do not teach a post-Christian mysticism. It’s not a spiritual variation of “I’m okay, you’re okay.”
Or rather, it is all of those things, but none of those things are its main function. Those are just interpretations we conjure to cover up the real reasons we need the Course. It’s main function is to teach us how to be miracle-minded by teaching us how to work miracles.
A Course in Miracles is a year-long self-study course in which we become miracle workers, joining with Jesus in the cosmic application of forgiveness. “Miracles” facilitate self-transformation at the fertile crossroads of psychotherapy and spirituality. They’re about changing our mind. We aren’t learning how to walk on water; we are learning that we are not separate from God, and that the positive effects of this unity can be known right here, right now simply by sharing them. Sharing them is how we know them.
The way that A Course in Miracles teaches us how to be happy, creative and free is by teaching us how to recognize the Holy Spirit, which is the Voice for God and lives in our mind in a real way (T-5.I.3:3). The Holy Spirit is an internal Guide whose serenity and wisdom are constructive and actionable. Ask and ye shall be answered, on terms that you understand, with results you can believe.
The uniquely personal application and experience of the Holy Spirit is why we never say that the Course is right or wrong. We say that it’s helpful or unhelpful. Nothing else matters.
When we know that we are not separate from God, then the cause for guilt and fear is undone at the very level at which it was problematic. It takes with it the illusion of problems altogether (W-pI.79.1:4). We understand that nothing real can be threatened, and nothing unreal exists (T-in.2:2-3). The cause for conflict is undone, and with it goes any justification for fear.
When we practice communion rather than conflict, peace and creativity are revealed as aspects of what we are in truth. When we no longer insist on scarcity, competition and survival, then peace and creativity naturally appear. They are not one more valid choice among many valid choices. They are inherent in our shared being. They are a foundation laid for us by God. They are the way we remember we are one with God.
Reading through the miracle principles is a great way to remember that we are taking a course with the specific objective of removing all the blocks to our awareness of love as our inheritance (T-in.1:7). You wouldn’t walk into a class on Shakespeare and demand the professor teach Euclidean geometry. A Course in Miracles is about miracles; everything else is ancillary.
So what are miracles?
Miracles occur in the mind. They are shifts from fear to love. They correctly perceive the other as a friend, not an enemy. Because they may or may not have percievable effects, they are expressions of God’s unconditional love. Collectively they are known as forgiveness, which is the means of the Atonement.
The Atonment is the remembrance – and the willingness to not forget – that we are not guilty of crimes against God or nature, and therefore will not be punished. The death penalty under which we’ve been laboring is lifted. We are free, but not because a benevolent judge pardoned our sins. Rather, freedom is inherent in what we are. It is inherent in all God’s Creation. When we remember our freedom, we remember it for everyone, at all times and in all places. Miracles allow us to forgive all our brothers and sisters, extending to them the same grace that was extended to us through our relationship with the Holy Spirit.
This is why A Course in Miracles refers to miracles as “an interlocking chain of forgiveness” (T-1.I.25:1).
When we study and practice A Course in Miracles we become happier. Our focus shifts from excuse-making and blame to opportunites to serve and be helpful. We bring our will into alignment with God’s and let go of the personal. It doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong. Miracles transcend the level of opinion.
The fifty miracle principles are a quick read, but they contain within them the whole curriculum of A Course in Miracles. They contain all the healing the Course offers. Theoretically, if you understand them, then you do not need to read anything else or do any lessons. Attention given to them is never given in error, even if we only understand a sentence or two. Even that can be sufficient.
The suggestion is that we come back to them once in a while. Just re-read them as you work your way through the Text and Workbook, then through the Manual for Teachers. Let them become a mirror which naturally reflects your understanding which in turn directs your practice. Be taught by the principles what you are called to teach on God’s behalf, and then teach confidently because it is God’s behalf.
Those who understand that God is Love and who agree to live their lives in the light of this understanding are given a gift. The gift is Self-Knowledge and its effects are peace and happiness. But also, the gift confers a reponsibility: to teach those who remain lonely, fearful and tormented that what they are in truth renders fear and all its effects illusory. But remember: to teach is not to lecture but to demonstrate (M-in.2:1).
Miracles demonstrate to the mind in which they occur that God is real and nothing else is real. Therefore, there is nothing else the mind would extend except God’s Reality and Love. In the clearest and most helpful way possible, miracles restore to our awareness the truth that our identity is both totally innocent and totally shared. We want for nothing, literally.