A Course in Miracles: What is the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is a way of thinking that A Course in Miracles posits as both the ego’s opposite and the ego’s undoing.

Like ego, the Holy Spirit is experienced as a voice which both interprets experience and makes suggestions about how to respond to experience. However, listening to it rather than to ego produces experience that is gentler and happier and more coherent with respect to the world and our brothers and sisters.

In essence, ego obstructs our spiritual growth, but the Holy Spirit supports and guides our spiritual transformation from fear to Love, which is simply the remembrance of the truth of our divine nature.

The Holy Spirit makes us happy always, and always in quiet and sustainable ways. Ego makes us happy sometimes, but always conditionally.

The Holy Spirit’s voice is quiet and still. It does not argue. It does not make demands. It does not speculate. The Holy Spirit knows wholeness and peace but it also recognizes our mistaken belief in separation. Knowing separation is not real, the Holy Spirit gently teaches us how to align our will with God’s Will in order to remember that only truth is true, thus undoing separation and its effects.

In practice, the Holy Spirit helps us correct perceptions, by helping us shift from fear-based thinking to love-based thinking. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to communicate with God, essentially mediating between our egoic mind and our God-lit mind, thus accessing deeper levels of truth, which naturally bring forth more stillness and joy.

Thus, the Holy Spirit is essential to our practice of forgiveness. We cannot see rightly with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, where “see” does not refer merely to the physical sensation that produce a world, but rather to how we understand and value that world.

The Holy Spirit is in our mind – it is, in a nontrivial sense, our healed mind – and brings us effortlessly to the grace of our shared responsibility for Creation. In sharing this answer with us, the Holy Spirit reminds us that we both have and are the answer to the illusory problem of separation.

This understanding of the Holy Spirit runs counter to more traditional Christian understandings in the sense that the Holy Spirit is characterized as a Teacher who corrects perception in order to facilitate forgiveness. This focus on inner transformation at the level of the mind does not align with much of Christianity, where the focus is on behavior.

Both A Course in Miracles and many branches of traditional Christianity identify the Holy Spirit as a divine presence, intimately connected to God. However, ACIM places greater emphasis on the Holy Spirit’s role in facilitating our spiritual growth by helping us correct our perceptions, practice forgiveness, and experience miracles.

As a kind of side note, this focus on personal transformation is largely responsible for the Course’s connection to New Age traditions which emphasize personal growth and abundance and so forth, often at the expense of the collective. Whether ACIM is a New Age phenomenon or not, its understanding of the Holy Spirit is not about advancing personal interests and gain but rather undoing them and recognizing instead our shared interest in salvation.

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