The Thirty-Ninth Principle of A Course in Miracles

The miracle dissolves error because the Holy Spirit identifies error as false or unreal. This is the same as saying that by perceiving light, darkness automatically disappears (T-1.I.39:1-2).

In A Course in Miracles, an error is a perception or belief that does not align with reality as God created it. We perceive fear instead of love, fragmentation instead of unity, and falsity instead of truth. These errors arise from a belief system grounded in separation and guilt. They distort our understanding of our true self and our real relationships with one another and with God. They make conflict; they do not create peace.

The correction of this error allows us to perceive love predicated on unity, and to feel the happy effects of that perception. This correction occurs in the context of separation.

Critically, this shift is under the direction of the Holy Spirit, who remembers Creation even as He also perceives the misguided world made by the ego’s lies and misdirection. What the Holy Spirit does is teach us the difference between the two ways of seeing – the one premised on love and union, and the other on fear and separation. He teaches us that the latter is an error, and can be gently laid aside. When we realize that our fear-based beliefs are not grounded in reality as God created it, they lose their power over us. We become open to a new way of seeing and living.

The Holy Spirit teaches us by showing us what we want – inner peace and happiness – and how to get it.

This principle relies on the metaphor of darkness and light, which is common across many religions, including Christianity. Darkness is error; truth is the light. When the light appears – a candle lit, a switch thrown, the sun rising over the eastern hills – then the darkness is undone. This natural feature of the external landscape is mirrored in our minds. As the light of truth dawns in our thinking, our mistaken beliefs are dissolved. We remember who we are and in the remembrance is a cause for joy. The Holy Spirit is our teacher and guide in this process; our role is to be devoted students.

Your only calling here is to devote yourself, with active willingness, to the denial of guilt in all its forms. To accuse is not to understand. The happy learners of the Atonment become the teachers of the innocence that is the right of all that God created (T-14.V.3:5-7).

The way that this principle is brought into application is through questioning every belief that we hold and refusing to decide in advance what the right or best answer will be. We let it all go. We hold onto nothing, which paradoxically is the way to acccept nothing less than happiness and inner peace. We cannot do this alone. We need Jesus and the Holy Spirit in very literal ways, and we need our brothers and sisters to share the learning experience with us. We need them to bolster our courage, let us lean on them as we go, and remind us that we are strong by asking us to help them. This is the way that fear and conflict – which are effects of our confusion about what we are – are corrected by giving everything to the Holy Spirit.

Forgiveness as A Course in Miracles reframes it is an ongoing process of releasing our grievances and judgments and being willing to perceive the world and all its inhabitants as God created them. This means that we don’t decide in advance what Creation looks like or feels like. We surrender all our preconceptions. We are “born again” as blank slates. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting. Our part is simply the “little willingness” upon which all salvation rests.

Thus, when we notice that we are experiencing fear (in any of its forms) – and doubling down on it through fear-based behavior (in any of its forms) – we can remember that miracles are natural and always accessible. We can ask the Holy Spirit to show us a different way of seeing, one that restores to our awareness the fundamental unity that governs Creation, including us.

The more “light” that we allow into our mind, the more the errors of perception – and their apparent effects – can be gently undone.

The Thirty-Eighth Principle of A Course in Miracles

The Holy Spirit is the mechanism of miracles. He recognizes both God’s creations and your illusions. He separates the true from the false by His ability to perceive totally rather than selectively (T-1.I.38:1-3).

A Course in Miracles characterizes the Holy Spirit as that part of our mind which knows both the world of illusion constructed by ego and the real world created by God in love. Because the Holy Spirit knows both, He can helpfully bridge the one to the other.

Miracles move us from fear to love, according to the Holy Spirit’s understanding of the gap between our illusions and the truth as God created it. All fear is the former, all love in the latter. In a sense, what the Holy Spirit does is open our mind to the light of truth, allowing it to shine away the shadows of fear perpetuated by ego. We experience this as discernment.

When we accept love in place of fear, our understanding of ourselves as limited and limiting is undone. We realize we are not alone in a world where our survival is uncertain, but rather one with God in a Creation where nothing real can be threatened and nothing unreal exists (T-in.2:2-3). And, critically, we share this reality with all our brothers and sisters.

On our own, we are not capable of actually effectively discerning between fear and love, between guilt and innocence. We might be able to do so one day but not another. Or do it a little but not a lot. The Holy Spirit always remembers the reality of love, unity, and perfection. He never falls for our illusions; He never buys into the mistaken perceptions that drive separation and its negative effects.

Because He can discern between the two, the Holy Spirit can teach us how to discern this way as well. Teaching us discernment in this way is his function.

The Holy Spirit “separates the true from the false by His ability to perceive totally rather than selectively” (T-1.I.38:3). When we listen to ego, our perceptions are selective and fragmented because we are operating from a separation, or scarcity, mindset. The body’s eyes see a part of the world, we evaluate it based on our appetites, and then either accept or reject it. And we think this is the law by which reality operates.

This is an obvious error that only yields misunderstanding and conflict which in turn reinforce the error.

On the other hand, the Holy Spirit does not accept the body – either its potential or its limitations – as our self. Because He perceives only lovingly, He naturally perceives only love, and thus knows the whole of God’s creation as God created it. In the perception of the Holy Spirit (which is naturally shared with us) that which appears separate to the body’s senses becomes a symbol of interconnectedness, attesting to the unity which underlies the cosmos, .

Because He can perceive in this way, the Holy Spirit can help us discern the true (the reality of unity and love) from the false (the unreality of separation and fear). He sees us the way God knows us.

It is God’s Will you share His Love for you, and look upon yourself as lovingly as He conceived of you before the world began, and as He knows you still. God changes not His Mind about His Son with passing circumstance which has no meaning in eternity where He abides, and you with Him (T-24.VI.3:4-5).

It takes time to learn how to learn from the Holy Spirit. And it takes time to learn that all we really want is to learn from the Holy Spirit. Before we know it as salvation, wholeness is frightening. Alignment with love is natural but we are accustomed to an upside-down view of the world, ourselves and everyone else. Miracles are gentle and reliable corrections, taking us precisely as far as we are able to go in a given moment and context.

Miracles induce gratitude, not discomfort. This is such an important idea! Miracles aren’t about pushing limits but rather forgiving limits, which usually means shrugging and saying, “there I go confusing myself for a body again.” Miracles affirm the Teacher whose only need is our own need to remember our Creator’s Love, which is limitless.

The Thirty-Seventh Principle of A Course in Miracles

A miracle is a correction introduced into false thinking by me. It acts as a catalyst, breaking up erroneous perception and reorganizing it properly. This places you under the Atonement principle, where perception is healed. Until this has occurred, knowledge of the Divine Order is impossible (T-1.I.37:1-4).

This principle illustrates the Course understanding that miracles reflect transformative changes in perception, initiated by Jesus. They correct false, or ego-based, thinking by realigning it with truth. In this way, miracles allow for a healed perception of reality, which A Course in Miracles refers to as the Atonement.

“False thinking” refers to thoughts which arise from the ego’s thought system, which is premised on separation, and the feelings of guilt and fear which are its emotional hallmarks. According to the ego’s view, the self is alone in the world, separated from every person, place and thing, and locked with them in a grim battle for survival. God is nowhere to be found. Hope is nowhere to be found.

It is a painful way to live.

The course describes this view of reality as false, or erroneous, because it misrepresents the true nature of our existence. In truth, we are aspects of the interconnected wholeness of Creation, in which it is not possible to be separate from God or anything God created. Creation is seamless; there are no parts.

Thus, we can think of the miracle as a formal spiritual intervention, which enables us to recognize our dysfunctional reliance on perception (i.e., ego’s insistence that perception is reality), and open to a new way of thinking (conforming to the Holy Spirit’s emphasis on honesty and willingness as the means of true forgiveness). Miracles are catalysts, causing the mind to shift from fear to love, and from conflict to peace. They respond creatively to our thoughts by teaching us to recognize the underlying belief system from which they arise. We no longer take seriously what God does not take seriously.

We learn how to disregard the ego’s emphasis on separation, and rely instead on the Holy Spirit’s gentle insistence that unity and oneness are God’s gifts to us, and can be recognized and accepted now.

To the extent we accept and participate in this realignment of perception, then we rest with one another under the Atonement principle. We acknowledge our true selves and refuse to deny our Creator. We recognize that fear and guilt arise in misperception, and are sustained by our unwillingness to correct that misperception. We see clearly that we are doing this to ourselves (T-27.VIII.10:1), and we are willing to do something different.

The Atonement principle is the recognition that separation is an illusion and that we are, in fact, eternally united with God and with each other, where “other” includes black bears, bumble bees and atoms. This is our reality and we can remember it – and live the effects of remembering it – now.

Healed perception allows us to attain “knowledge of the Divine Order.” This means we understand and experience reality as it is – an expression of God’s Will endlessly extending love. We perceive the world as a reflection of this endlessly extending love, and all our brothers and sisters share in that innocence with us.

Only the false thinking of the ego stands in the way of this understanding!

This principle of A Course in Miracles reinforces our understanding that miracles are shifts in perception from fear to love – from separation to unity – in accordance with what is divine. This shift heals our perception, aligns us with the reality of our shared oneness with God, and allows us to experience and understand the world as an expression of this divine unity.

Finally, Jesus clearly identifies himself as an intercessor in this principle. Ego is no joke; the work we undertake to undo it cannot be done alone. We need help. By reminding us of his presence, Jesus also reminds us that none of us take this course solo. The Atonement principle is not exclusive – it includes and gives welcome to all of us. Anything less would be just another instrument of the ego.

The Thirty-Sixth Principle of A Course in Miracles

Miracles are examples of right thinking, aligning your perceptions with truth as God created it (T-1.I.36:1).

Thinking can be given to the Holy Spirit or to the ego. Ego uses it to make and extend conflict, ever reinforcing the grounds for division and competition. The Holy Spirit uses it to emphasize unity and peace.

“Right” thinking is thinking that is guided by the Holy Spirit. It takes the world we perceive – the world brought forth by the body, its senses and appetites – and uses it to demonstrate that nothing real can be threatened and nothing unreal exists (T-in.2:2-3). This insight takes time to develop and integrate.

Ego-based thinking is rooted in fear, judgement and separation. We learn it early in our lives, before we have any say over it. It’s not designed to be questioned; it’s designed to disappear into the background. It’s designed to take us over – get us invested in taking sides, defending our side and attacking others. Egoic thinking hijacks the body, putting it instantly to the service of survival. This leads to sacrifice, famine and war.

There is – thank Christ there is – another way.

In contrast, Holy Spirit-based thinking is founded on love, forgiveness and oneness. It is easy to dismiss these as mere abstractions or spiritual ideals, but they have psychological and behavioral correlates. They take form in the world and yield effects, the same as egoic thinking.

Therefore, the guide for thought that we choose shapes our behavior and relationships, and – through the principle of recursion – also shapes our ongoing experience of both self and other.

As we have noted so many times, the miracle is the shift in our thinking away from fear and towards love. It arises from the decision to listen to the Holy Spirit rather than the ego. In concrete and context-specific ways, when we are aligned with love, we perceive our brothers and sisters as both loving and worthy of love. Regardless of their actions, individually or collectively, we know we are one with them. Their worthiness and our worthiness are not separate.

As every gift my brothers give is mine, so every gift I give belongs to me. Each one allows a past mistake to go, and leave no shadow on the holy mind my Father loves. His grace is given me in every gift a brother has received throughout all time, and past all time as well (W-pII.316.1:1-3).

The miracle always emphasizes interconnectedness and innocence. And that emphasis always yields nontrivial transformations of behavior – not because behavior is the site of healing, or the goal of our learning, but because of the underlying belief system upon which we are relying to guide our perception. We notice behavior. It is a symbol of our thinking, and we can “read” it to better align ourselves with love.

We can either perceive a world that is fragmented and violent – one in which only survival matters, and survival is always our responsibility – or we can perceive a world which God created, in which Love awaits our shared remembrance, and all things become symbols not of separation but the end of separation, the undoing of separation. The ego does not want us to remember our Creator, much less our place in Creation.

Aligning our perceptions with “truth as God created it” means embracing – and extending – our inherent nature as expressions of God’s Love.

The world itself is beyond change, being merely a momentary perception. In the final sense, this is the true cause for peace. But in the interim, miracles transform our experience of the world, allowing us to perceive a home in which there is no cause for fear, guilt and separation. We can live this way now.

Remembering what we are in truth means having our function to heal restored to our awareness. We reclaim our inheritance in Creation – not through fear but through Love.

The Forty-Third Principle of A Course in Miracles

Miracles arise from a miraculous state of mind, or a state of miracle-readiness (T-1.I.43:1).

The question is always what do we want? And how do we know we want it?

It is easy to say we want miracles, but it is hard to clear our mind of the conditioning of the brain – its distractions, biases and confusion – to make room for miracles. A Course in Miracles teaches us how to undo that which obstructs Love, but the necessary precedent is our willingness that it be done. Are we ready?

That is the question posed by this principle. Are we ready? But also, how do we know? Most of us will say we are ready. Most of us want to want miracles. But to really want them is to be clear what they will undo – they will undo what is personal, they will undo our sense of privileg, they will undo the illusion of privacy. For most of us, those things are not easy to give up! Miracles are not about what we get, but what we give up, in order to learn how create the way God creates. But at least at the beginning, miracle-mindedness appears difficult, even impossible.

We say we want the peace that surpasses understanding, and we say we are ready, but how do we know we are not lying to ourselves?

When we practice A Course in Miracles, in time, we learn that we do not know what we do not know. We realize there are depths to life of which we are as yet unaware, and this realization humbles us. It makes us realize that the utility of our thinking is always conditional because it’s always only partial. Therefore it is always prone to error. Therefore, we need correction at a very fundamental level. We need to reboot the self; we need to be born again.

To engage in self-deception is not a crime against God or nature but, because it will not make us truly happy, it is an opportunity to ask if there is another way, one that does not seek to know but rather to live peacefully and resonantly with not-knowing. This is the question the saints and the mystics resolve – not by finding an answer but rather by living lovingly without the answer.

And yes, paradoxically, no-answer is the answer. But it’s no good saying it. We have to come to the insight through application.

There is nothing we can do to generate the miraculous state of mind. Or rather, the only thing we can do is see that we do not presently have it, or that we have it but are unsure if we truly have it. When we are no longer willing to stunt like ACIM experts, what happens? We see that our will is not perfectly aligned with God’s Will, nor with Love, and so we ask for help. We become open. “Not my will Lord but yours be done.” We have to reach this juncture in an authentic way. We really have to become willing.

The power to work miracles belongs to you. I will provide the opportunities to do them, but you must be ready and willing (T-1.III.1:7-8).

To accept those words of Jesus and truly reach the state of readiness and willingness is a great grace. A lot of healing is accordingly engendered. It creates a state of conscious awareness – of intentionality – characterized by kindness, gentleness, mercy, curiosity and a willingness to see beyond the surface appearances to the divine truth of our shared unity and interconnectedness.

When we live this way, we are ready to see as the Holy Spirit sees instead of the way the ego sees. We can readily gaze past the fear-based illusion of separation, and see instead the love that underlies Creation and is Creation. We are no longer alone, because everything is given, and given equally.

We all have this capacity; it is inherent in us because of what we are. As we explore it – as we become willing to let go of anything that obstructs it, even a little – we begin to experience shifts in perception, moving us from fear to love, and into the bountiful peace and happiness that is both Love’s gift and effect.

The Forty-Second Principle of A Course in Miracles

A major contribution of miracles is their strength in releasing you from your false sense of isolation, deprivation and lack (T-1.I.42:1).

The human experience includes loneliness and frustration. We often feel deprived of love or companionship. Hardships abound – people go without food, are subjected to violence, suffer and die. We all know this; we all see this. If it is not our experience today, it might be tomorrow.

We live with uncertainty, and we fear what might happen to us and those we love, and our fear makes a world in which fear appears reasonable. It appears justified. We are, as A Course in Miracles makes clear over and over, doing this to ourselves (T-27.VII.10:1). But also as A Course in Miracles points out – echoing Bill Thetford’s inaugurating insight – there is another way.

Miracles teach us that the traditional understanding of ourselves and the world is upside-down. It’s a way of seeing that reflects confusion rather than clarity; it is a distortion of reality rather than a revelation of reality. By gently shifting us from fear-based to love-based modes of thinking, miracles enable us to align our perception of reality with reality as God creates it. We don’t have to accept poor translations or painful alternatives. We can have a direct encounter with love.

Miracles correct the error that we are incomplete. They undo the belief that God creates unequally. And they heal the mind that seeks to meet its own needs through competition and conflict rather than through communication, coordination and cooperation. In this way, miracles teach us that we are fundamentally worthy, and that our worth is reflected in all that we perceive. God doesn’t make mistakes.

These are actual felt experiences in our lives! A Course in Miracles appears in and functions in the context of separation. So we have these moments when we rise about petty grievances, or decline to indulge argument, or ask ourselves sincerely if there is another way to look at a situation that feels troubled or broken. We live our lives in a way that makes us happy and allows us to share our happiness with each other without a lot of drama or self-involvement. We want to help, and being helpful is not difficult, once we understand that it is helpfulness that makes us truly happy.

To heal is to make happy . . . The light that belongs to you is the light of show . . . Joy calls forth an integrated willingness to share it, and promotes the mind’s natural impulse to respond as one (, 4, 6).

Miracle-minded thinking often shows us that we are not alone but in relationship. We are not isolated but connected, joined at levels that bring forth life rather than death, and joy rather than sorrow. We are not problems in need of fixing, but perfect creations of a loving Creator who need only remember their perfection. Love holds everything.

A lot of us want bright light experiences. There’s a reason ascended master books sell the way they do. They reflect our desire for spiritual extravagances that befit our sense of specialness. This is not a crime against God or nature! But miracles do not work like that because God doesn’t work like that. All his creations have all his love, always (T-1.V.3:3).

Imagine that the world is hard to see. It is cloudy and dark; everything is blurred. You bump into things a lot; you miss opportunities to connect and join. A lot has to go undone. Over time, it gets worse.

This is a lonely and painful way to live.

The miracle gently points out that the problem is the lens we are using to view ourselves and our world. The world is not as it appears and so our reaction to it is not real either. It’s not properly calibrated and therefore not helpfully resposive. When we accept this, then we can accept a new lens. We can let some light in. That is what ACIM does for us – it offers us the Holy Spirit’s translation of our life in the world rather than ego’s. The Holy Spirit is the new lens. It’s the new lens and it’s also the last lens we’ll ever need.

This is why the miracle is more like switching a pair of broken glasses for a pair that works. It’s like updating our prescription from one that doesn’t work to one that does. And when we can see clearly, then our response to the world also clarifies. Miracles are ordinary; we work them every day. What the course does is allow us to do this more intentionally and more inclusively. We come to rely on our miracle-mindedness. We trust the Holy Spirit and, by extension, ourselves.

The move from fear to love corrects our misconception of reality by undoing the effects of fear. In the context of separation, it is given us to remember wholeness and to share the effects of that remembrance with all our brothers and sisters, and all of life.

What does this look like?

It’s closer to a party than a therapy session, and closer to a therapy session than surgery, and closer to surgery than suffering. Love holds everything; the miracle has no other lesson to teach us. And there is nothing else for us to learn.