What is Forgiveness

A Course in Miracles teaches us that forgiveness is a way of being present in our lives that does not accept the world’s judgment of our nature and function. Forgiveness does not see sins and then choose to overlook them in the Name of God or some other kind of moral superiority. Rather, it does not recognize sin at all.

Forgiveness recognizes that what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred. It does not pardon sins and make them real. It sees there was no sin (W-pII.1.1:1-3).

This is not just a way of relating to our brothers and sisters but also of relating to our own self. When we “forgive” the other in this way, we also forgive our own self (W-pII.1.1:1-3).

This is all orders of magnitude easier to say than to practice. Rumination is always easier than application. The body – and the brain activity arising in the body – judge so naturally that we don’t even recognize we are doing it. Even something as simple as making dinner involves countless little judgments, nearly all of which slip by unnoticed. And that process is going on all the time.

Decisions are continous. You do not always know when you are making them (T-30.I.1:1-2).

What, then, are we supposed to do in order to become forgiving in the radical way suggested by A Course in Miracles?

We have to learn to “see” – to understand, to know – in a new way. It is not actually new but it is so unfamiliar to us as to feel new. We have to actively seek a way of relating to the world and to our brothers and sisters that is grounded in a love that surpasses – that transcends and undoes – the world’s definition of love.

In the world, love is special. It’s conditional on attraction. It involves exchanges which require evaluation and thus judgment. It can be hidden by behavior and confused by price. It arises not from felt sense of our shared radical equality but from a private perception of inequality that inevitably works against us.

A Course in Miracles calls the new way of loving to which we are called “holy relationship.” Holy relationship is premised on a shared commitment to give more than gain, and to value the other’s happiness over our own. It is not possessive at all. Nor are these sacrifices! Imagine the peace and happiness that arises from the service inherent in a holy relationship. Imagine a world in which everybody just wants to serve everybody else.

Forgiveness is merciful because it emphasizes sharing and friendship over judgment and punishment.

True mercy – because it is grounded in sharing and friendship – raises to doubt all judgements (W-pII.1.2:2). It opens the mind in willingness and humility (W-pII.1.2:3). It refuses projection; it refuses to accept any personal perception of reality, and asks only to be shown the truth, which is the same for all of us – you, me, the sunflowers in my garden, the great white sharks off Cape Cod, and whatever else in this vast cosmos has a form.

What does this abstract concept look like in practice?

It looks like stillness and quiet (W-pII.1.4:1). It looks like doing nothing (W-pII.1.4:1).

[Forgiveness] offends no aspect of reality, nor seeks to twist it to appearances it likes. It merely looks, and waits, and judges not (W-pII.1.4:2-3).

There is a paradox here! We have to “judge” our failure to forgive in order to truly forgive. But recognizing that failure is a form of welcoming the truth as it is in this moment (W-pII.1.4:4-5). A Course in Miracles meets us where we are but in order for that to happen, we have to be honest about where we are.

This sequence of lessons is an invitation to become honest about our confusion and ignorance. It is an invitation to be honest about our unwillingness and stubbornness. We want to see clearly the specific ways in which we are doing this to ourselves and, in doing so, become open – even a little – to the possibility of the Thetfordian other way.

We reflect on the basic concept of forgiveness in ACIM, we make a simple verbal prayer, and then we become still and quiet and do nothing. We seek the confidence and rest that comes from trusting God rather than our own selves. We give our practice – half an hour, an hour, more even – to the Holy Spirit, who will teach us how to see the sinlessness of our brothers and sisters, and all of Creation (W-pII.1.5:3), and in that way remember our own perfect innocence.

Again, we will know that our prayerfulness is working if we feel both joy and rest. This is not an intellectual accomplishment, nor is it about proving our worthiness. It is about accepting the end of spiritual struggle and interior psychological strife. We give ourselves now to the end of suffering, and we accept God’s certainty that we will succeed.

Psilocybin, Healing and A Course in Miracles

Content Warning: This essay may be triggering for folks recovering from addiction. It may be triggering in other ways as well. I am bearing witness to my own study and practice here; I am not defending that study and practice and I am not advocating for it. Forgive me. And be kind to yourself as well.


Several years ago, in a state of spiritual crisis that was profoundly affecting my ability to function in the world, I grew and ate psilocybin mushrooms.

I was guided to do this. I asked the Holy Spirit should I do this and the Holy Spirit said yes, do this. But it was not easy. It did not feel natural or comfortable. There was a lot of resistance, a lot of internal argument. There was a lot of doubt and fear.

Even now I see the mushrooms as a dangerous exercise I do not recommend and will never try again but for which I am deeply, almost mystically, grateful.


I tripped a lot in my late teens and early twenties, a practice that ended around the same time I stopped drinking in 1990. I was an angry and self-destructive drunk from the get-go. Drinking was fun for about fifteen minutes and then it was submission to family demons who wished nobody well. I hated myself with every sip. The self-hate fueled more drinking, and the drinking fueled more self-hate. It was a vicious and escalating spiral with only one possible outcome. The question wasn’t would I die from drinking, it was how much damage would I do going down.

Oddly, in those years, psilocybin seemed to . . . confuse the anger? Pacify the demons? They didn’t dissolve the trauma and its emotional affect (much less undo the addiction) but they did seem to slow it all down. And in that slowed-downness, there was less harm both to me and to others. I was still crazy but I was way less agressive and for that I was – then and now – grateful.

For me, in those years, psilocybin was a form of brutal self-observation. I truly hated myself, believed that self-destruction was merited, even unto death, and felt more or less powerless over any of it. But I was also curious why I hated myself. When I drank that hatred turned to rage and self-harm but mushrooms held the inquiry in icy stillness. I could ask the question over and over, and I did.

It turned out there were answers to the question of why I hated myself. And when I did not flinch from those answers but accepted them, it was possible to hate myself a little less. I went toe-to-toe in those moments with an interior horror show I do not wish on anybody. Yet I was not destroyed by it, and because I was not, healing became a real possibility.

Self-hatred metasticized in my psyche as an effect of growing up with a devout but forbidding Catholicism practiced by a family in which violence and addiction was the secret nobody was allowed to name. No effort was made to emphasize that the devil was a metaphor, or suffering contrary to the nature of God. Satan was as real as Jesus, both of whom were fighting a war for my soul, the whole thing overseen by a God who was indifferent at best, and cruel at worst. My mind was depressingly fertile ground for the cultural demonology of the late sixties and early seventies. Movies and books like Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and The Omen seeped into my consciousness and convinced me that I was a lost cause in the conflict between good and evil, a conviction my parents and other adults seemed to actively encourage. It is hard to convey the anguish this caused. It is hard to describe the hurt and anger. I wanted to live but believed I did not deserve to live. In the end, I believed that everyone would be better off if I did not live. It was a terrible thing to inflict upon a child.

To the extent hallucinogenics were helpful with all that, it was mostly in how they sometimes exposed the fear and guilt that underlay the rage that drove my addiction to self-destruction by making clear the insanity of my religious upbringing (and rarer yet, making clear a cultural conflict that was bigger than just me and my family). They did not show me God so much as show me that I had not yet seen God. I did absolutely nothing with those insights except note – however faintly – that there might actually be a way out.

So in that sense, the first faint threads of healing – of remembering my inherent innocence and goodness (which I share with you and all Creation), of the promise of return to the human family, and of the possibility of real relationship – were revealed to me in the mid-to-late 1980s by the mushrooms.


Was I thinking of all that when I decided to try them again thirty-some odd years later? I don’t know. Certainly nothing else in my bag of tricks was working – therapy, twelve steps, prayer, A Course in Miracles. I was foundering in grim nihilism, increasingly unable to respond to even the most basic responsibilies.

Parenting, being a husband and householder, writing and teaching . . . I began to ghost all of it and as a consequence began to experience myself as a ghost. I was haunting life but rather than rank fear there was just uneasy boredom. Everything went gray and faded; I stopped feeling a part of anything, and I stopped caring one way or the other about it.

Or I stopped caring mostly. Now and then something would snap me back to the moment. I would notice a look on my wife’s face – a sadness, a loneliness – and I would feel . . . sad, too. Or I’d notice the kids weren’t including me in things like board games or discussions about books. In those moments I would wonder how it had come to this and, critically, was another way possible? Or had I fallen too far off the path?

That was the space in which the invitation to partake of a new mushroom experience was given. I was surprised I said yes but also, not surprised at all. What did I have to lose?


In the trip I am going to talk about here – because it was the one from which it seemed I would not return (and, in a sense, from which I did not return) – I had a vision.

I say “vision.” If you’ve ever eaten mushrooms, you know what I mean. It’s nothing supernatural; it’s nothing divine. It’s just a thing the mind does at the farthest (and most unfamiliar) reaches of consciousness. The closest analog is lucid dreaming, but (for me) the mushroom vision is to lucid dreaming as the ocean is to a koi pond in the mall.

I do not like to talk about mystical or supernatural experiences. They are just experiences that sometimes happen; they are neither better nor worse than any other experience. Writing and talking about them can too easily become a way of insisting that something special happened to me and as a result I have something – an insight, an understanding, a wisdom – that you do not. That is always a lie.

And yet, without this vision, the whole psilocybin experience would’ve been merely another exercise in self-destruction. And it wasn’t. It was more than that.

This trip (a so-called heroic dose, e.g., just over five grams) was mostly terrifying. My hands kept floating off my arms. I forgot to breathe and ended up gasping, chest pounding. Walls turned to stone, then dissolved into rainy forests I’d been lost in for a thousand years. I crawled on the floor through my own vomit. Aliens injected my blood with beads of amber; I spoke in tongues. The block universe became a rack on which I was ruthlessly stretched by invisible torturers. The pain was Godless and excruciating.

But in the middle of this – all at once, no warning – the agonizing phantasmagoria stopped, as if a switch had been thrown. The silence was funereal, the stillness made of marble.

All of creation arose is a vast and prismatic cascade before me. Quasars and galaxies, elephants and oceans, sex and war, cave art and crayons. All of it arose in a vivid towering plume and at its peak crashed down through itself into nothingness, from which it arose again, over and over and over.

This was the cycle of Creation and Destruction, Brahma and Shiva, Being and non-being, life and whatever life was not. The two flowed into and out of one another, without intention of any kind, endlessly neutral. Here was Everything collapsing into Nothing; here was Nothing erupting into Everything.

How long did I witness this? Five seconds? A million years? I have no idea. I blinked and came to in cool grass beneath a birch tree near the barn. Sunlight rested on nearby lilies; clouds floated through the sky. I lay there a long time before a single clear thought appeared: “I have a name.”

A few minutes later, I remembered what it was.


David Carse, whose book Perfect Brilliant Stillness helped precipitate the afore-mentioned spiritual and psychological crisis, makes the following observation:

It can be asked, What is prior to Being?
‘What’ lets Being be?
As it is prior to Being, this ‘what’ is not.
Here is Void, Nothingness, no-thing-ness.
Prior to Being, ‘it’ lets Being be:
That in which Being is,
Plenum, the fullness of no-thing-ness
out of which, in which, as which
Being (and hence all beingness) arises.

The paths of mysticism, bhakti and jnana
join here and end here.
All paths can lead this far and no further.

‘Being’and ‘Nothing’ are the last concepts,
and the last experiences, available to us (386).


When I say I remembered my name under the birch tree, what do you think I remembered?

Of his so-called awakening, Carse says, “who carse?”


When the first mushrooms were ready to harvest, I ate them right away, after everyone had gone to bed. I sat on a folded blanket out back near the horses.

I prayed before I ate them. Prayed as I chewed and swallowed, prayed as my stomach roiled digesting them. I prayed desperately and pathetically. In that moment, I wanted so badly to live and be happy, and was terrified I would never be again. I began sobbing.

I begged Jesus to join me, to help me, to grant me insight and knowledge, to not let me be hurt by the mushrooms, to help me re-earn the love of my family, to remember meaning and function again. It was self-centered and puerile but I didn’t care.

Fireflies filled the meadow. In those days the blind horse could still see. The only sound beside my bawling was the river humming in the distance.

A funny thing happened then. Without any reflection or intention, the prayer up-ended itself. I didn’t decide to change it; it just changed. It became about others. I suddenly knew that countless others were in pain like me – some in greater pain, some lesser – and all I wanted was for them to be healed.

And so I asked Jesus to heal them – to visit them instead of me, to bring peace to their hearts and to calm their minds, soothe their souls. “I’m okay,” I said aloud. “Help them. I’m okay.”

You have to understand that I was not okay. I was a mess. A mess. But for no reason I understood – because there is absolutely no virtue or logic in any of this – I no longer cared about being healed personally.

I only wanted you – whoever you were, wherever you were – to be healed.

This went on for an hour or so. Eventually my voice stopped working and the prayer faded. I sat quietly in starlit darkness. It wasn’t peaceful; it wasn’t blissful. It wasn’t productive. There was no insight or understanding. Everything was still and quiet. Hours passed.

Near dawn, I got up and walked past the barn to pee. Venus rested on the horizon. Standing there in exhaustion, I remembered whose light it was – Lucifer, the fallen one. The bad angel. The Destroyer of Worlds who was paradoxically also the Bringer of Light, the haunter of my childhood and author of my doom.

Briefly I saw him – the Beast slouching through the pasture towards me. His head hung like an anvil and his feet dragged. In his wake was pestilence, war and famine. Every hateful word ever uttered battered my ear drums; the sky ran with blood and smoke.

And yet, for the first time in my life – a life wracked with hurt and anger, destruction and violence, bitterness and cruelty – I was no longer afraid of the devil.

Instead, I saw my brother – self-sabotaged in Heaven, desperately missing his Creator, and stumbling accordingly. I recognized him, and my recognition was a form of love. I opened my arms to hold and console him.

Then there was only Venus again, diamantine and brilliant over the rocky New England hills.


James Hillman, a Jungian psychotherapist and writer, once said (here paraphrased), don’t interpret your dreams. Let your dreams interpret you.

He meant that the story we tell about the dream is removed from the dream and involves us in ways that can bias the dream’s healing clarity. He advised staying with the dream in non-linear ways – feeling its emotional tenor, witnessing its images, praising it in poetry. In that way, the dream could reach us in ways and at levels mere analysis could not.

Something similar applies here. This essay is an analysis written several years after the mushrooms, not to mention after the transformation that followed them.

In a sense, the transformation was simple. I stopped needing my life to be other than what it was. I made what was unwelcome welcome. I gave attention to what was given rather than my preferences. I submitted judgment to the grace of God and in that submission – which, yes, had to be learned and relearned, applied and re-applied – I remembered who and what I was in truth.

A Child of God is happy only when he knows he is with God. That is the only environment in which he will not experience strain, because that is where he belongs (T-7.XI.2:6-7).

The Kingdom of Heaven is the quiet, sustainable happiness that we do not create and yet were created to share. It is in us but not of us. Sharing it is creation. You need do nothing; there is nothing to do.

This is the state of true creation, found not within time, but in eternity. To no one here is this describable. Nor is there any way to learn what this condition means. Not till you go past learning to the Given; not till you make again a holy home for your creations is it understood (T-24.VII.6:7-10).

It’s true that the form of my life changed. I found new work and new writing practices. My marriage came back to life. My children recognized me again. I joined with fellow ACIM students to study and apply the lessons; I was led to a new and more helpful twelve-step program.

There were still challenges – some that were nontrivial – but they were seen and accepted as sites of learning. They were no longer seen as psychological conflagrations that needed to be attacked and defeated but rather as seeds of peace to be gently nurtured and allowed to blossom on terms set by God, which terms would be revealed to me as I consented to their revelation.

I wasn’t in charge any more and it was a vast relief. I could participate – could cooperate – with life rather than engage in endless conflicts, both minor and major. The self-sabotage ended; the loneliness ended, and I was no longer alien unto Creation. The divine family was everywhere, asking to be remembered, and it was given to me to remember it.

I asked you to do this work with me, and you said yes.

Being is known by sharing. Because God shared His Being with you, you can know Him. But you must also know all He created, to know what they have shared . . . Know then the Children of God, and you will know all Creation (T-7.XI.7:6-7, 11).

I am not saying that anybody needs to eat mushrooms. They took years off my life; I can’t imagine doing it again. But I am saying that if you are desperate, there is a way out, and the way out is to remember that the way is relationship. In relationship, you will be shown the unending cycle of creation and destruction which absolves you of any personal wrongdoing, and that in this revelation of your fundamental innocence you will realize that you have something to share with your brothers and sisters who are everywhere like you.

Service – action coming from love – is the answer. Nor is it difficult once the underlying relationship – the underlying oneness – is clear. Everything we do we do for our own Self, who is the Child of God in whom all Creation remembers itself as holy.

The mushrooms taught me that. Or, if you prefer, God taught me that, using the mushrooms as a teaching tool. The form of the learning doesn’t matter; only that we learn.

Mostly I want you to know that you are not alone. Not in the cosmic sense, because all creation lives in you and is your home, and not in the local personal sense either, because you are reading this, which means it was written for you, and so together – this very moment, which is all of time there is – we are together re-membering wholeness.

Trust yourself. And if you need a friend, I am here.


ACIM Miracle Principles: An Introduction

You can also skip to the full index.

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 form of 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 a 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 on 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.

The Fiftieth Principle of A Course in Miracles

The miracle compares what you have made with creation, accepting what is in accord with it as true, and rejecting what is out of accord as false (T-1.I.50:1).

This penultimate principle of miracles identifies us as creators, participants in God’s Kingdom, created to create as God creates. We do this when we think as God thinks which also means not thinking as God does not think. We are called to collaboration, not observation at a distance. God is not the steward of future graces nor the judge of when and where grace will be bestowed. Grace is here now, and is given to all.

The Holy Spirit is our help in this work. We turn our thinking over to the Holy Spirit and each thought is then compared to God and Creation. Thoughts which are “in accord” with Creation are accepted as true, and thus helpful, while those which are “out of accord” are rejected as false. We keep our true thoughts by extending them, and forget about false thoughts. Why waste time on what was never real?

We are not the arbiters of what is true and false. The Holy Spirit is. Our work is remember to ask Him, and not make any substitutes for the answers he gives us. We surrender our judgment; we bring our thinking to the altar of God and leave it there. Our thinking brought us to the grief and terror of separation; it made a world out of fear, substituted illusions for truth, and caused all our apparent suffering, ours and everyone else’s.

Given that, what grounds do we have for holding on to any personal prerogative? What possible benefit could it yield? Is now not the time to consider another way altogether?

This is the Thetfordian move that all ACIM students have to make at some juncture in their practice. We have to say – with and to another – there must be another way. And then work with them to learn what it is and bring it forth in our living.

All living is relationship. Krishnamurti, whose ideas and practice were so fundamental to Tara Singh, said this. Tara Singh did as well. We are not separate from the soil in which flowers and tomato plants grow; we rely on the same sun to energize us. If you look closely at Creation – with eyes willing to see, and ears willing to hear – you will see past the appearance of differences to what is seamless and whole.

In time, you will see that what you are in truth is what is seamless and whole. Ideas leave not their source (T-26.VII.13:2), and God leaves not His creations. The time for joy and peace is now.

Miracles undo incorrect ideas about Creation, including what we are and what our role in it is, and restore to our awareness the truth about Creation, which is that it is founded on and extends love. There is no conflict in Creation – only in our mistaken ideas about Creation. We take those ideas literally, effectively perceiving an image of Creation, rather than actual Creation. The miracle dissolves the image and leaves us with what is real. It is a process, not a one-and-done event.

This is another way of saying that to be be miracle-minded is to choose to perceive only through a lens of love – which is the Vision of Christ. Christ refuses ego by not seeing any cause for fear anywhere in the system. Seeing this way – which is intimately connected with deciding to see this way – opens our hearts and minds to God and Creation but eliding the distortions and confusion that we introduce.

The miracle is always the other way to which Bill Thetford alluded, inaugurating A Course in Miracles. In the present there is only the love that arises through our interconnectedness. Everything else is a bad dream we can release whenever we choose.

The Forty-Ninth Principle of A Course in Miracles

The miracle makes no distinction among degrees of misperception. It is a device for perception correction, effective quite apart from either the degree or direction of the error. This is its true indiscriminateness (T-1.I.49:1-3).

There is no order of difficulty in miracles (T-1.I.1:1). This is another way of saying that the miracle does not recognize what we bring to it or what we apply it to. The miracle does not judge; it simply functions. A drop of water moistens everything it touches without regard for what it touches.

In the same way, miracles just heal.

This contradicts our understanding of order in the world, which is premised on differences and, critically, the value of those differences. This is the belief system we call separation, and it is this that the “true indiscriminateness” of the miracle is given to heal.

In practice, this means that we do not need to concentrate on what we believe the miracle should address. Rather, we should focus on becoming miracle-minded; then the miracle will naturally heal whatever it reaches. In this way – by relinquishing our inclination to be in charge and in control – we collaborate with the Holy Spirit, who is the mechanism of miracles (T-1.I.38:1).

Collaboration means consent; it means cooperation. No matter how stuck we are in fear-based perception, no matter how impossible peace or grace appears, miracles are available to restore to awareness the power of Creation which only brings forth love and unity.

In the world, fear-based perception appears as our anger issues, our guilt over this or that mistake we made years ago, our health and career issues, our relationship issues. The ordinary problems of our living cry for the miracle. The miracle doesn’t undo the crisis at hand so much as it undoes the underlying psychological circumstances that gave rise to the crisis. This is another way of saying that miracles restore to awareness where the cause for happiness is – in the mind.

Thus, miracles remind us of our worthiness as God’s Children. They remind us of our interconnectedness with all of Creation, which reinforces that our worthiness is shared. Miracles restore to our awareness the truth that nothing real can be threatened and nothing unreal exists (T-in.2:2-3).

Imagine you are at a family reunion and are stuck in a corner with a difficult relative. They are arguing, they are drinking, they are trespassing boundaries. You become angry and resentful. You become defensive. These feelings are a problem, but we are confused when we think they are caused by the relative, i.e., an apparent outside source. These feelings arise from our mistaken belief that we are separate from our relative (and from anything else apparently external). This belief in separation is always the cause of conflict. There is nothing else for the miracle to undo.

Thus, the miracle is the remembrance that we are not separated. We begin to perceive the other not as an adversary but rather as a brother or sister who shares our confusion and hurt. We recognize that they, too, deserve freedom from fear and suffering. We realize that their release is our release.

I give you to the Holy Spirit as part of myself.
I know that you will be released, unless I want to use you to imprison myself.
In the name of my freedom I choose your release, because I recognize that we will be released together

This realization brings forth compassion. This brings forth true empathy. We are no longer at war with an enemy, rather we are working with our own self to reach equanimity and peace. This does mean that the challenges of the moment are instantly gone, but rather that we understand them and thus no longer fear them. We can respond with love; we can avail ourselves of the One who shows us how to respond with love.

Miracles function in all situations, regardless of how painful or difficult or mild they appear to us. Our judgment is always suspect anyway. The real work to learn how to be in relationship with the Holy Spirit so that we can learn how to live in love, rather than fear. Living in love means to be miracle-minded, a state that applies to all our living.

Our willingness to live and learn this way means we are open to the transformative power of love and unity, which are reflections of our oneness with God. The miracle works through us at the Holy Spirit’s direction, correcting misperceptions and reforming distorted beliefs so that we can live with greater ease and grace, giving greater and greater welcome to our identity as Children of the God of Love and Peace.

The Forty-Eighth Principle of A Course in Miracles

The miracle is the only device at your immediate disposal for controlling time. Only revelation transcends it, having nothing to do with time at all (T-1.I.48:1-2).

The forty-eighth miracle principle extends the previous one, by making clear that miracles are not in any way subject to the constraints of time. They are interventions in and on time, reflecting our nature as creative Children of God who are not bound by fear but rather are liberated by love. Time is in our hands (M-1.4:9).

The ego insists on time as a fundament of separation. The past is gone, which means its negative impact on the present cannot be undone. We are trapped. To the ego, the future is pure potential. So long as we study the past, and focus on improving our self, then the future might be the release we are looking for.

But on that view, the future never arrives. Release never happens. The brokenness of the past goes on eternally, forever keeping us from the peace of knowing ourselves as loving creators in Creation.

This is not salvation. It is hell.

Miracles are the means by which we see through this illusory trap and realize actual salvation. Miracles are shifts in perception from fear to love and restore to awareness our creativity, which only exists in the present moment. Thus, miracles are the only devices available to us for controlling – for not being trapped in – time.

The changes that the miracle brings forth are instantaneous. Our interior psychology moves instantly from a rigid belief system that insists we are bodies under constant threat and are solely responsible for our safety to one that understands nothing real can be threatened and nothing unreal exists (T-in.2:2-3). In this way, miracles collapse time. What might have taken decades to learn – centuries even – occurs in a moment. All that is required is our willingness to become responsible for healing.

The only thing that transcends the miracle is revelation, which the Course suggests is direct communication with God.

Revelation induces complete but temporary suspension of doubt and fear. It reflects the original form of communication between God and His creations, involving the extremely personal sense of creation sometimes sought in physical relationships (T-1.II.1:1-2).

Revelation unites us directly with God (T-1.II.1:5). But miracles “are genuinely interpersonal, and result in true closeness to others,” e.g., with our brothers and sisters (T-1.II.1:4, 6).

Salvation is about relationship; it is about connection. It is not about God or Love – they take care of themselves and are beyond either confusion or the undoing of confusion. Salvation is about about creating sites of learning with one another. Miracles facilitate this creation and this learning. They enable holy relationship.

Time often feels like a harsh master, a tyrant grinding down our days into a pointless journey to the grave. The miracle teaches us that we are wrong about this because we are confused about what we are in truth. Time is a tool that can be used for good or ill, according to the intention the mind sets for it. When we are willing to be in relationship with the Holy Spirit, then release from guilt is the intention we set for time. It exists to help us remember we are one with God.

When we remember our oneness with God – when we realize that that is our reality – then time naturally ends because learning is over. Miracles have no other function.