Reading A Course in Miracles: The Circle of Atonement

The circle of Atonement is the unified alignment of miracle workers whose shared goal of peace creates “interlocking chain of forgiveness” (T-1.I.25:1) that strengthens both those who are in the circle as well as those are perceived as external to it.

Miracles are shifts in thinking, away from fear and towards love. Collectively, these shifts in thought become the Atonement, which is is the undoing of fear and leaves in its wake only love (e.g., T-1.I.26:2-3). It is “the natural of profession of Children of God” (T-1.III.1:10) and is a “total commitment” (T-2.II.7:1).

Thus, those of us called to the particular form of the universal curriculum called A Course in Miracles, have as our “homework” a radical yet sustainable change of mind, which both arises from and reinforces our shared guiltlessness. Any suggestion to the contrary – that we are guilty, undeserving of love, deserving of condemnation, et cetera – we take as an invitation to further heal ourselves, others, and the world that together we bring forth.

“Heal” in this case simply means to give attention to our thinking, discern between unloving and loving thoughts, and accept only the latter as helpful.

As you share my unwillingness to accept error in yourself and others, you must join the great crusade to correct it; listen to my voice, learn to undo error and act to correct it. The power to work miracles belongs to you (T-1.III.1:6-7).

In this sense, A Course in Miracles contemplates an active student body who not only learn but bring their learning into application. Our “loving thoughts” reflect the voice of Christ, making space for them and following their directive becomes our operative understanding of healing. It is the Atonement, as A Course in Miracles defines it.

We are all joined in the Atonement here, and nothing else can unite us in this world. So will the world of separation slip away, and full communication be restored between the Father and the Son. The miracle acknowledges the guiltlessness that must been denied to produce the need of healing (T-15.V.5:1-3).

This work – discerning the loving from the unloving – is only complex, difficult, mysterious et cetera when we insist on conceptualizing miracles as having varying orders, which is to say, insisting that some apparent problems are bigger or more severe or harder to solve than others.

Seeing the world in this fractious and judgmental way appears natural to us – it’s just what brains do! – and so we tend to bring miracle-minded thinking to bear in inconsistent ways. When we are upset, or are aware that others are upset, we seek the corrective power of miracles. But no person, place, thing or situation is fundamentally different from another. To the miracle – and so to the miracle-minded – they are all the same.

When we accept this equality and consistency, then our struggles with A Course in Miracles easy considerably. We no longer have to judge and decide when and whether and how to work miracles; rather, we see that they apply to everything and everyone without discrimination. What could be easier than to always work 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 the direction of the error. This is its true indiscrimininateness (T-1.I.49:1-3).

Thus, our frustration with a flat tire, our sadness over a friend’s diagnosis of cancer, our anger over a recent spate of nationalist homicides and our joy with the luxury of a few spare hours to read Emily Dickinson poems are all the same. They seem to be of different orders (cancer vs. flat tire, say) and they seem to be of varying quality (homicide vs. poetry) but to the miracle, they are identical.

Thus, we give them all over to the light of miracles, which in each instance “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).

We don’t always recognize love, and some of what we call love is actually fear. This is why even what we call love must be subject to miracles. We inevitably learn that a great deal of our thinking is “upside-down,” including what we considered “right-side up.” It is a fact of studying A Course in Miracles that we should prepare to be surprised at what we learn.

Yet becoming happy learners in this way creates a “circle of Atonement without end” (T-14.V.7:6).

Peace, then, be unto everyone who becomes a teacher of peace. For peace is the acknowledgement of perfect purity, from which no one is excluded. Within its holy circle is everyone whom God created . . . Joy is its unifying attribute, with no one left outside to suffer guilt alone (T-14.V.8:1-4).

The circle of Atonement becomes a symbol then of how uncompromising miracle-minded thinking is. It reflects our “total commitment” (T-2.II.7:1). And it also becomes a shared foundation of our collective experience of working miracles, because it is itself an opportunity to expand the range of love.

Each one you see you place within the holy circle of Atonement or leave outside, judging him fit for crucifixion or redemption. If you bring him into the circle of purity, you will rest there with him. If you leave him without, you join him there (T-14.V.11:1-3).

The way we see our brother or sister is the way that we see our own self, and the way that we treat our brother or sister is the way that we treat our own self.

This is the secret to happiness; this is the key to salvation.

Refuse to accept anyone as with the blessing of Atonement, and bring into it by blessing him. Holiness must be shared, for there in lies everything that makes it holy. Come gladly to the holy circle, and look out in peace on all who think they are outside (T-14.V.11:5-7).

Thus, the circled of Atonement becomes a powerful teaching tool. We work together in order to heal our own self, and our togetherness allows healing to go beyond us. Our function is healing; our function is holiness. There is no other work but this.

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