The Thirty-Fifth Principle of A Course in Miracles

Miracles are expressions of love, but they may not always have observable effects (T-1.I.35:1).

Most Christian traditional understandings of miracles imply observable effects that appear supernatural. Or at least spectacular enough that nobody could ever call them ordinary. Jesus walking on water, say, or turning water into wine. Closer to home, we win the lottery or the cancer goes into remission.

A Course in Miracles takes a different approach.

The course teaches us that miracles are shifts in perception away from fear and towards love. This perceptual shift shifts our psychological stance away from isolation and dishonesty and towards integrity and self-reliance. We glimpse our true self, the one that God created as an extension of His innocence and perfection. We are literally the site of infinity and eternity remembering themselves.

However, this transformative shift does not always mean that we can “see” it or otherwise take note of it with the body’s senses. Its effects may fall well outside the body’s capacity for attention and awareness. Love is not merely an emotion – much less a prescribed ritual of behavior – but is rather the very ground of our identity and being. How do you “see” seeing? Can you point to attention?

The changes induced by the miracle occur at the level of the mind. While they may have effects in the external world, those effects might be judged negligible. They might even not appear, at least to us. For example, say we have a friend we have long considered too greedy or aggressive. Maybe we see ourselves as victims of his behavior. We did nothing wrong but it always seemed that we ended up hurt. We mean well but the truth is, guilt and fear are the authors of the relationship.

The miracle intervenes on this by allowing us to see clearly our role in the relationship. It allows us to become responsible without feeling guilty. We stop blaming the other and turn the situation over to the Holy Spirit. It’s not a performance for anyone, like a priest or a therapist. ACIM forgiveness liberates our friend from our judgment – because, having taken responsibility for our interior state, we no longer need to project the guilt and fear we find there onto him. We simply give it to the Holy Spirit.

In this way we remember peace.

Nothing has necessarily changed externally but internally everything has changed. We aren’t angry anymore. We aren’t hurt. We aren’t running away from anything. We stop attacking our friend with our fantasies of his guilt.

The change is meaningful in our experience – it makes us happy because we have remembered to decide for peace – but this does not automatically mean that it will lead to observable changes in our external situation or in our relationship with our friend. The gift is, we don’t need the external to change. We practice forgiveness and we allow the situation to evolve as it evolves. We let God’s Will be done rather than insisting we want it to be different.

Happy dreams come true, not because they are dreams, but because they are happy. And so they must be loving. Their message is “Thy will be done,” and not “I want it otherwise” (T-18.V.4:1-3).

The course’s emphasis on internal change reflects its overall teaching that the external world is simply a reflection of our internal state. Therefore, our primary goal is not to change the world, but to change our perception of it. And that, as they say, is an inside job. It is also why miracles can be effective even though they do not appear to change the observable world in any way.

A true miracle transforms perception, which is what forgiveness is, and thus leads to our increased awareness of the Cause for peace and happiness. Our lifelong resistance to this Cause dissolves, even if only a little. Our practice is devoted to this change of mind, independent of the world “out there.” That world shifts and changes all the time and its changes always add up to nothing. All that truly matters is the shift in our mind away from fear and towards love.

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