The Fifth Principle of A Course in Miracles

Miracles are habits, and should be involuntary. They should not be under conscious control. Consciously selected miracles can be misguided (T-1.I.5:1-3).

Since miracles are expressions of Love, which does not admit distinctions, they are not personal. Any attempt to make them into a thing that we do or that somebody else does reinforces the very confusion in identity that miracles are given to correct. The miracle is a way of being in the world with all our brothers and sisters that is premised on service, which is an action coming from love that seeks only to reestablish our sameness, which reflects our underlying equality which – in the world – is a living symbol of oneness.

Thus, miracles have no “goals” other than reestablishing our identity in and as extensions of Love. When we commandeer them for our own interests – to win the lottery, rehab our spouse into a more ideal partner, write the perfect poem, whatever – we obscure their healing potential because in truth we have no personal interests. We have no needs. Only ego subscribes to the illusion of needs; therefore, only ego could need a miracle to be personal.

Here is what A Course in Miracles has to say about our habit of taking everything personally (which always produces goals for us, in which someone has to lose or sacrifice, rather than shared goals for all, in which nobody loses and everybody gains).

Another way of describing the goals you now perceive is to say that they are all concerned with “personal” interests. Since you have no personal interests, your goals are really concerned with nothing. In cherishing them, therefore, you have no goals at all. And thus you do not know what anything is for (W-pI.25.3:1-4).

Choice and decision – or any form of conscious direction – have no place in the application of miracles. Miracles are natural and involuntary, like sneezing or blinking. We don’t resolve to do these things; they simply happen. We don’t study or practice them. Indeed, we barely notice them.

Can we see the miracle in a similar light?

The fifth miracle principle suggests that the extension – which includes the reception – of miracles should be exactly that habitual. When we forget the body and its illusion of separate interests and simply adhere to Love’s non-dramatic nudges, then miracles are the natural result. And they always facilitate a condition in which additional miracle-minded thinking becomes more fluid and effective. Everybody wins and nobody loses. There are no separate interests. The miracle both reveals and reinforces this understanding.

In a sense, this principle recognizes the ego’s objective of making everything about itself. Ego loves the idea of miracles so long as they reinforce the separation from God upon which its existence depends. Ego recognizes scarcity – whether it takes the form of relationships that treat us poorly or the inability to find a parking space – and is happy to apply miracles as potential “solutions” to those problems. Many Course students cling to this conception of miracles, however subtly, for a long time.

But miracles are not given to amend or improve upon the ego’s illusory world. They may appear to have affects there (and they may not) but improving on illusions is not their function. They are not given to solve our so-called problems. They are given to make clear the impossibility of separate interests and in that way to unite us more surely with our brothers and sisters in love.

Thus, when we consciously choose the circumstances under which we want to give or receive a miracle, the risk (perhaps even the likelihood) is that we are heeding ego rather than spirit. We are almost certainly overthinking the situation. And remember: ego is happy to be subtle. It has no aversion to our being “spiritual” so long as the fundamental goals of the spiritual practice do not threaten its existence.

Expressions of love are natural. They don’t need to be forced. They don’t need to be found, taken hold of, and then applied. They aren’t “chosen.” Or rather, they were already chosen, but by God in Creation, and for all of God’s children (broadly defined to include snails, quasars and ravens). Miracles mean life, not death. They mean possibility and inclusion, not exclusion and limitation. They are co-creations, not singular constructions.

All any miracle can do is remind us over and over that we remain as God created us, are capable only of extending love, and – as an effect of the first conditions – are worthy of receiving nothing less.


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