The use of miracles as spectacles to induce belief is a misunderstanding of their purpose (T-I.10:1).
There are really two aspects to this principle, both of which are given to help us be in right relation both with the world and our body, and with the mind which is confused about world and body and thus needs to be healed.
This principle also addresses a popular misconception with respect to the gospel miracles of Jesus. Often, those miracles are interpreted as reasons (because they are spectacles) to believe in him and, by extension, the religious hierarchy that arose in his wake. The implicit logic is that a man who walks on water is obviously favored of God so of course you should follow him, obey him, et cetera. And if he chose Peter to be the founder of his church, then you follow Peter, too.
In A Course in Miracles, we reframe that perspective. Miracles are given to heal. They are not given to establish a new world order. Religion means nothing to them. They reveal a Heaven premised on radical equality, not rigorously-enforced leadership pyramids, akin to corporate hierarchies. The emphasis is not on individual performance but on shared accomplishment. What the miracle does is more important than who does it.
Miracles alway heal. They induce not awe but gratitude (e.g., T-1.II.3:1). Simplicity is the soul of their effectiveness.
Nor are miracles conditional upon obedience or belief. They are gifts, freely given. We can deny they are given, and in this way deny ourselves their endless potential for grace, but we cannot “un-give” them. That’s not how God or the Holy Spirit work.
Miracles are inherent in us, because love is our inheritance, albeit forgotten (T-in.1:7). Miracles restore awareness of love to the mind which has forgotten it. When we remember who and what we are in truth, then miracles are no longer necessary. Until then, they are the means by which our spiritual identity crisis is resolved.
Miracles in the mode of ACIM are not spectacular – indeed, they are often quite subtle, to the point of being nearly unnoticeable. Given the range of our consciousness, and how much goes on outside our awareness, it is often the case that the deepest healing offered by miracles barely registers with us. Or else we notice the effects later – I’m happier, less likely to lose my temper, no longer jealous, et cetera. When did that happen?
When we insist that miracles have recognizable effects – when we place conditions on them – we are refusing the healing the miracle offers. Miracles are not about rearranging the natural world to better accommodate egoic fantasies of wellnesss. They are given to heal the mind that is divided against itself, accepting guilt in place of innocence, and thus falling prey to fear-driven fantasies rather than love.
If we are waiting on miracles to “fix” our lives in the world, then we are going to be disappointed. They may or may not have observable effects in the material world; but they will always have effects in the mind that believes it is a body in the world. A healed mind means letting go of outcomes in the world for their own sake; a healed mind remembers without effort that the outside world is the picture of an inside condition (T-21.in.1:5).
We might think of this principle as laying the groundwork for right relationship with God. Miracles are given freely to all; they are not conditional in any way. Belief is not a pre-requisite for healing. Indeed, since “healing” in A Course in Miracles means remembering that the separation never occurred, and thus has no effects, we are already healed.
The miracle simply reminds us of what is already true.
This is the situation of the world. The problem of separation, which is really the only problem, has already been solved (W-pI.79.1:3-4).
Similarly, our expectations for the miracle often function as rejections of miracles. We want a better parking place, not a mind that isn’t concerned about parking places because it knows they’re not real. This isn’t a spiritual crisis or a crime against God or nature. It’s simply a distraction from the peace and joy that available to us now.
For all the drama inherent in the Course’s creation – it was dictated by Jesus! Helen was a former disciple! Light shows and ascended masters for some students but not all! – the material is very much about dialing the drama down. We are called to give attention to our lives as they are given to us – we need add or subtract nothing. We simply need to be present with a little willingness. The rest is done for us.
In the end, the miracle allows us to notice life as it is, without anything extra. It heals the mind that believes there is more to add or something to take away, and lets it rest in reality. This rest allows the mind to empty and clarify, becoming kin to a prism through which the light of love passes, healing everything it touches by teaching it how to heal itself.