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Reading A Course in Miracles: Distortions of Miracle Impulses

One of the things that close readings of A Course in Miracles will do is gently reveal some of the material’s more radical ideas. We discover new ways that the course wants to teach us to serve our brothers and sisters in love, in order that we might all wake up to our unified presence in communion with Jesus and God.

A miracle is a shift in mind, away from fear and guilt and towards love. Miracles are not causes but effects. To be miracle-minded is to be receptive to love with the whole of one’s being, and attentive to that which brings forth love in your living.

However, it is essential that we not confuse miracles with external effects. Doing so distorts the underlying natural inclination to relate to our brothers and sisters in love. We are confused when we think we can relate in terms of sex, food, politics, work, art, et cetera. As the course says, “Do not deceive yourself into believing that you can relate in peace to God or to your brothers with anything external” (T-I. VII.1:7).

That is clear and unequivocal.

A miracle may have observable effects in what we call our bodies and the world. But they are not obligated to have those effects. Importantly, miracles are not caused by what is external, and they do not exist in order to rearrange external conditions and circumstances according to our personal preference. We are learning to shift our thinking, not our apparent world.

Physical impulses are misdirected miracle impulses. All real pleasure comes from doing God’s Will. This is because not doing it is a denial of Self (T-1.VII.1:3-5).

Thus, in order to work miracles, our focus needs to be on our mind. If our focus in on externals, then we cannot give full attention to our capacity for love. And the miracle needs our full attention in order to function, which is to say, to bring forth our creations in love.

Genuine and sustainable peace and pleasure are part of the experience of doing God’s will, rather than attending to our own. We are called not to be servants of the body but of the spirit, and by extension, our brothers and sisters.

Child of God, you were created to create the good, the beautiful and the holy. Do not forget this (T-1.VII.2:1-2).

Those are comforting and inspiring words. To create “the good, the beautiful and the holy” – as opposed to making the good enough, the generally pleasing and the something-less-than-sacred-but-not-profane – is to do God’s will. To hear his voice and be directed specifically.

However, it is equally important not to deny our bodies or their appetites, impulses, biases, et cetera. Indeed, the body is neither positive nor negative; it is wholly neutral. The highest use to which it can be put is to learning how to do miracles, which is to say, how to shift from fear to love. And, for a while longer, it is in bodies that the love of God will appear to be expressed (T-1.VII.2:3).

It is not a mistake for us to give attention on this shift in thinking.

This is a course in mind training. All learning involves attention and study at some level (T-1.VII.4:1-2).

This can be a comforting idea. Our job is not to fix our body or make it more lovable. We are not called to an ascetic renunciation of physical experience. We are simply asked to bring our concentration and focus to recalling our union with God. That act of recollection is really itself sacred – as we recall God, we are recalled by God. And our capacity to extend miracles expands accordingly.

We are natural miracle workers. Our minds naturally align with love, when they are attuned not to ego but to the Holy Spirit, which is to say, our “right” mind. When we talk about miracles, we are not talking about fantasies, extravagances or spectacles.

Rather, we are talking about a fundamentally natural inclination that inheres in our being. We are talking about common sense and the ordinary expression of love and kindness to and with one another. This inclination to love can be blocked, denied, confused and ignored but it cannot be destroyed. That is, we can distort our miracle impulse but we cannot lose it.

It is in working miracles that our belief in their efficacy is established. We don’t wait for faith to act miraculously; we act, observe the results, and realize that confidence is merited (T-1.VII.3:9). In a sense, we are asked to leap and to trust that God – or Jesus, if you prefer – will catch us and gently set us on firm ground.  It is in this way that we become active followers of Jesus and his ACIM program.

This section restates the fundamental ACIM principle that we are all – even unto Jesus – equal brothers and sisters. We are all gifted in identical measure because we are all the unified Creation of God. The illusion of differences – this person is smarter, that one is more successful but luckily I’m better-looking than both – are the world’s foundation of conflict and pain. Indeed, if Jesus – of all people, of all teachers – repeats that awe is an inappropriate response to him (T-1.VII.5:6), then how can we possibly justify anything but the most perfect love of which we are capable for one another?

Thus, A Course in Miracles is always teaching us to remember – and in remembering to extend – our self as love.

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