Miracles are both beginnings and endings, and so they alter the teamporal order. They are always affirmations of rebirth, which seem to go back but really go forward. They unto the past in the present, and thus undo the future (T-1.I.13:1-3).
The 13th principle of miracles in A Course in Miracles is an early introduction to the holy instant, the Course’s life-altering perspective on the nature and purpose of both time and miracles. It makes clear that miracles – which are shifts in perception that create Love where formally there was only fear – literally alter the temporal order.
But how do they do this? And is this an example of symbolic language or are we meant to take the idea literally? Because if we are to take it literally, then aren’t we essentially granting miracles a supernatural quality we have already expressly denied they have?
Time is a perception of the body, much like a three-dimensional world, the invisibility of infrared and infraviolet, and the ability to hear sounds in a frequency range from approximately 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
Just like a butterfly perceives colors that we do not, and a dog hears sounds that we cannot, it is reasonable to expect that a tick or a sunflower, say, have a different experience of time than we do.
The question is not whether time is real – to the body it will always be real – but rather are we using time for atonement or for suffering? That is, are we accepting the ego’s use of time or the Holy Spirit’s?
The ego uses time to focus on death and nothingness, with hints of hell. We were bad in the past, which means we are guilty now, which means we will suffer in the future. This is bleak and offers no hope or respite. We hate it but we feel trapped by it because it seems so real.
The Holy Spirit gently insists that the present is all of time there is, and that the past and the future are illusions which cannot cause anything – neither joy nor pain – except in dreams that accept what is unreal as real.
We have been confused, says the Holy Spirit. But our confusion can be corrected.
What does this mean in practice?
In application, the 13th miracle principle allows us to revisit past experiences and emotions, recognize the lessons they hold, and integrate these insights into our present lives. By acknowledging and processing the past, we create the necessary conditions for healing and growth, effectively releasing the future from the shackles of our past limitations and traumas.
This is a form of forgiveness – which is simply right-mindedness, or right seeing. It does not deny that we have tied ourselves into metaphysical and psychological knots by accepting the ego’s interpretation of time. Rather, It uses that illusion to undo the suffering that interpretation causes.
Miracles are experiences of release from suffering because they demonstrate that the cause of suffering is an interpretation which can be changed. We are doing this to ourselves and, when we are ready, we can do something different.