Reading A Course in Miracles: Cause and Effect

A Course in Miracles asserts that the law of cause-and-effect is “the most fundamental law there is” (T-2.VII.1:4). A is responsible for B, and B is dependent on A (and B may in turn become responsible for C, which will then be dependent on D, and so forth). Cause-and-effect is implicit in creativity; without it, creation as such is not possible.

In this section of the text, Jesus notes that thoughts are causes which yield observable effects. Thus, mind is creative. Yet it is capable of miscreation (T-2.VII.2:2). The purpose of A Course in Miracles is to train us in miracle-minded thinking, which is essentially full respect for the creative power of thought, which enables it to create lovingly.

Thus, in the course, Jesus does not simply eradicate fear. Rather, he teaches us to see clearly how our experience of fear comes into existence (we did it). This clear seeing is what undoes fear, because it reveals that fear is not fundamentally real. It’s a miscreation of a mind that was insufficiently attentive to its own creative power.

This can seem a bit mean-spirited. Why doesn’t Jesus, given his uninhibited communication with God as Love, and power to control both space and time (T-2.VII.7:9) just relieve us of fear? Declining to tamper with it on grounds that the law of cause-and-effect is fundamental can seem overly legalistic, almost as if Jesus were hiding behind a lawyer.

Yet the position taken by Jesus in this section of A Course in Miracles is deeply helpful in at least two ways. First, it places significant emphasis on the power of our thought, and second, it intimates what a helpful and creative relationship with Jesus looks like.

Let’s look at the last point first. In many Christian traditions, the power of Jesus is paramount. He can do what you and I cannot. Nor are there limitations on his power.

In this sense, as a sort of favored child of God, Jesus is superior to other human beings.

A Course in Miracles revises that standard. At best, Jesus is an older brother entitled to our respect and devotion because of his care for and attention to us (T-1.II.3:7). But he is not superior. As miracle workers, we are called not to worship Jesus but to collaborate with him. However, in order to be effective collaborators, we must appreciate the full range of our creative power. We have to bring into alignment with God’s creative powers; we have to “think with His mind” (W-pI.43.3:2).

Thus, when Jesus declines to interfere with what we make with our thought – in this case fear – he is effectively accepting and honoring us as equals in Creation. He is testifying that God does not have favorite children or special children; all God’s children are equal, and their equality and collectivity is what makes them children of God (T-2.VII.6:3). Our holiness arises as a condition of our equality.

Reciprocity at this stage of learning does not mean that we create perfectly lovingly, as Jesus does, but rather that we are willing to grow into the potential Jesus already sees in us. A Course in Miracles exists – we created it – in order to train our minds to create love rather than to miscreate – to make – fear.

This addresses the first point mentioned above: that the course is a curriculum in which we learn to value and to thus correctly apply the power of our thinking. We can choose to miscreate, but we can also choose to create (T-2.VII.3:2). All fear is inherent in the former, and all love in the latter (T-2.VII.3:14). Thus, the basic conflict is between fear and love (T-2.VII.3:15). A Course in Miracles is a means by which to learn how to differentiate between the two and make a better decision as to the one we want to bring forth.

Thus, we are not trying to master or control fear (or hate or jealousy or guilt et cetera). To do that simply reinforces the underlying error that fear is actually real (T-2.VII.4:2). The true resolution of the conflict between fear and love rests on “mastery through love” (T-2.VII.4:4).

That appears to be easier said than done, of course. While we’re here – while eternity is still an idea rather than an experience – we do experience conflict. One way to respond to this is to recognize that conflict – and the pain and discomfort it arouses – are simply signals that we need correction. The solution to fear and discomfort is perfect love which is the atonement. Accepting the atonement in this way is the fundamental correction to all our problems. There is no other solution.

Fear is really nothing and love is everything. Whenever light enters darkness, the darkness is abolished . . . The initial corrective procedure is to recognize temporarily that there is a problem, but only as an indication that immediate correction is needed. This establishes a state of mind in which the Atonement can be accepted without delay (T-2.VII.5:3-4, 8-9).

Thus, mastery through love starts with the simple awareness of our own need for love, right here in the very lives we are living. Whenever we are in pain of any kind, the only answer is love; whenever someone near us is pain, the only answer is love. The more often and consistently we remember this, the more helpful we are to our brothers and sisters, and the more we will experience love, which is the absence of guilt and fear.

Thus, a miracle worker lives in a state of readiness – an ongoing openness to Atonement, to accepting love instead of fear, and thus extending love instead of fear.

It is imperative to remember that this reflects a change in thinking, which is internal. In terms of cause and effect, it means giving attention to thought as cause. Yet note that we do did not create ourselves (T-1.V.1:8). Thus, our thought – which is causative – has its own cause, which is God, or love. Thus, to become miracle-minded is to think with God the thoughts that God would have us think, because to think them is to be with God.

Actually, “Cause” is a term properly belonging to God, and His “Effect” is His Son. This entails a set of Cause and Effect relationships totally different from those you introduce in miscreation (T-2.VII.3:11-12).

Rethinking cause and effect along these lines can facilitate the change of mind that is the miracle.

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