ACIM Miracle Principles: An Introduction

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.

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.

The Forty-Seventh Principle of A Course in Miracles

The miracle is a learning device that lessens the need for time. It establishes an out-of-pattern time interval not under the usual laws of time. In this sense it is timeless (T-1.I.47:1-3).

In A Course in Miracles, time is a human construct the Holy Spirit uses to help us remember our identity in Creation. It is the means by which we perceive separation and are empowered to bring it to an end. We perceive a past in which we are separate, and from which – in the present – we can learn how not to be separate in the future by undoing past and future now.

Time is effectively the measure of the gap between fear and love, for those who are as yet unable to recognize that fear does not exist and only love is real. Miracles shorten the gap and thus decrease our need for time in order to learn. What would ordinarily take a thousand years can take an instant thanks to the miracle.

Time is your friend, if you leave it to the Holy Spirit to use. He needs but very little to restore God’s whole power to you. He Who transcends time for you understands what time is for. Holiness lies not in time but in eternity (T-15.I.15:1-4).

Our ideas about time are that it is clear and strict – a second is not a minute but a minute is comprised of sixty seconds, a minute is not an hour but an hour is comprised of sixty minutes, an hour is not a day, a day is not a month, et cetera. But that has to do with the measuring of time, not time itself. The Course suggests that time – because it is a thing we make – is much more malleable. And we can use it to good ends.

How long is an instant? As long as it takes to re-establish perfect sanity, perfect peace and perfect love for everyone, for God and for your self (T-15.I.14:1-2).

Gradually, as the gap between our self and God shrinks, we loosen our grip on the future and the past. We begin to see the illusory nature of time, and we don’t need the illuson of order it offers. The present moment expands; beginnings and endings cease to matter in the way that they once did.

Essentially, miracles allow us to perceive the world – and the relationships of which it is comprised – without the shadow of the past or the future upon them When we perform a miracle, when we are miracle-minded, we step outside the illusion of time and perceive truly, which is to say, lovingly.

There is no fear in the present, only the “crystal cleanness” of our release from guilt (T-15.I.13:7).

All of this is to say that miracles are not subject to the laws of time. They intervene in time and reveal both its illusory nature and the fact that we are the ones making it up. Miracles make clear that we are not subject to the laws of time, save by our decision to pretend otherwise. In this way, we become empowered. We see that separation is not being forced on us by external forces, but is rather an internal decision to accept a distorted and limited way of thinking.

What does this look like in practice?

Miracles are manifestations of love and unity in our living. Say that somebody is angry with us; rather than respond to their anger, we perceive the fear which underlies their anger, and we recognize that the fear is not their fear but our shared fear. Then we can respond to the fear rather than the anger. And the response to fear is always love.

This shortens the need for time because when anger is healed by the recognition that love holds everything, it does not need to return. It is undone forever; it is literally replaced by the knowledge of eternity. When Love is all that we perceive, then the need for time is undone.

The Forty-Sixth Principle of A Course in Miracles

The Holy Spirit is the highest communication medium. Miracles do not involve this type of communication, because they are temporary communication devices. When you return to your original form of communication with God by direct revelation, the need for miracles is over (T-1.I.46:1-3).

The Holy Spirit is in our mind in a real and practical way (T-5.I.3:3). He is our capacity to remember the wholeness of God and manifest holiness in our lives in the world. When we listen to the Holy Spirit, and align our living with His quiet guidance, then we are as near to God as it is possible to be in a lonely dream of the world as the site of God’s death.

The Holy Spirit bridges the gap between the ego’s construction of a false self and world, and the truth of Creation. When we listen to the Holy Spirit, we perceive the lies we tell ourselves – and the lies we sell to others – and become willing to learn what it means to live without falsehood of any kind.

This willingness is holiness, and it is the path to salvation, ours and the world’s.

Joy has no cost. It is your sacred right, and what you pay for is not happiness. Be speeded on your way by honesty, and let not your experiences here deceive in retrospect (T-30.V.9:9-11).

Miracles are effects of listening to – of learning from, of working with – the Holy Spirit. They are shifts in perception which reveal what is true and what is false and allow us to bridge the illusory gap between. In this way, we move from fear to love, and the separation and its effects are naturally undone.

In other words, miracles are the application of the Holy Spirit’s lessons, which are continuously offered. They help us to lean away from the ego’s distortions and misdirections which means we are leaning towards the Holy Spirit’s offering of purification and remembered innocence.

Miracles are temporary because they are fundamentally transitional. They are like waystations and walking sticks for our spiritual journey. Without them we could not travel as happily or readily. But they are not themselves our destination; they are not the summit of the mountain.

Importantly, when we reach the “end” of this journey, we will no longer need miracles. Nobody needs a map of the trail when they’ve reached their destination. When we are home with God, then there are no gaps, and our need for communication – as we understand and practice it in the context of separation – is over.

When the Atonement has been completed, all talents will be shared by all the Sons of God. God is not partial. All His children have His total Love, and all His gifts are freely given to everyone alike (T-1.V.3:1-3).

A Course in Miracles teaches us that knowing God means direct and unmediated connection with the divine. It is a deep and sustainable experiential knowing of our oneness with God and all of Creation. This knowing is not conceptual; it is not contingent on information and belief. When we are standing in a river, we know what flowing water feels like. Knowing the Love of God is like that. You don’t need language at all.

When we remember this form of communication – this direct knowing – then we are no longer in denial about our shared inherent divinity and unity with all of life. Given that, there is no longer any need for the corrective function of the miracle. We’ve left the misperceptions of the ego behind to be fully aligned with the truth as God knows it.

Thus, dialogue with the Holy Spirit and the miracles that arise from that dialogue are invaluable practical tools on our spiritual journey to remembering the oneness that is God’s Love. They help us let go of the ego’s distorted narrative and misguided directives. They remind us that our function is to remember our shared unity with all Creation; they help us manifest that remembrance until “everyone recognizes that he has everything” and “individual contributions to the Sonship” are no longer necessary (T-1.V.2:6).

But they are not themselves God; they are not themselves Love. When their work is over – like any scaffold – they are undone and exist no more. Only God remains.