The Twelfth Principle of A Course in Miracles

Miracles are thoughts. Thoughts can represent the lower or bodily level of experience, or the higher or spiritual level of experience. One makes the physical, and the other creates the spiritual (T-1.I.12:1-3).

The twelfth miracle principle emphasizes that miracles are not external events that “get” us something, but rather shifts in perception that bring our will into alignment with God’s Will. On this view, miracles are corrections in our thinking that enable us to know our brothers and sisters as God knows them and thus – by extension – to know our own self as God knows us. Miracles induce a way of relating to life that is not predicated on illusions perpetuated by ego.

The ego makes and promotes separation, by teaching us how to judge appearances from the perspective of a vulnerable body. The Holy Spirit gently observes that all is one, and therefore nothing real can be threatened. Bodies do what bodies do and it’s no big deal. The Holy Spirit sees beyond all that.

Ego’s lessons begets sorrow; the Holy Spirit’s, joy and peace, and thus the end of suffering.

The fundamental premise of A Course in Miracles it that when we shift our thoughts from fear to love – through the practice of forgiveness – we create a space in which miracles occur naturally and thus heal the mind in which they appear. This shift in our thoughts is what allows us to perceive the world and ourselves in a new light, and it is this shift that brings about the healing effect of the miracle.

This principle also speaks to the idea that thoughts can represent either the “lower or bodily level of experience or the higher or spiritual level of experience” (T-1.I.12:1:2). The lower level of experience refers to the physical world and the experiences that we have through and as bodies, such as pleasure, pain, and other sensory perceptions.

This “lower” level of experience is the ego’s playground because all our experience of it is rooted in – is contingent upon – interpretation. We do not know what any of it means, and we have to be taught. The Course suggests that the ego is a poor teacher because it emphasizes the fickle nature of perception, effectively arguing that we have to choose – and defend – an interpretation. Conflict becomes the only reliable outcome of our living, and survival the only meaningful goal.

This is not a recipe for happiness.

By way of contrast, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the outside world is the projected picture of an inside condition (, and that this is not a crisis but rather an invitation to recognize both our need for healing, and the specific means by which that healing can be accomplished.

To heal in this way is to partake of the “higher or spiritual level of experience” (T-1.I.12:2), by realizing that it reflects our true identity in ways that bodily experience simply can’t.

This higher or spiritual level of experience cannot be contained by – and does not depend on – the physical realm. At the level of spirit, all experience is rooted in love or the cry for love – both of which elicit the same response – and thus naturally focuses on the interconnectedness of all things, regardless of how they appear. It is at this level that we recognize our oneness with God and with all of Creation.

This oneness can be reflected at the level of the body and it can be intellectually understood there, but the only meaningful experience of it is at the spiritual level.

The twelfth principle also suggests that one level of thought makes the physical world while the other creates the spiritual world. The distinction between “making” and “creating” is important in A Course in Miracles. To “make” is to attempt to do something productive without acknowledging our reliance on God. Anything “made” in this way is shallow and ineffectual because it does not reflect God’s Will.

Another way of saying this is that what we “make” is unreal and thus illusory.

On the other hand, to “create” is to recognize with all our heart and mind our dependence on God and to accept this dependence joyfully. At this level, we are not really involved in what is brought forth, other than in our willingness to allow it to be brought forth in us by God. We become channels, and our willingness is the whole of our contribution as co-creators with God.

On the lower level of experience, our thoughts are largely focused on the physical world and the material things that we desire – often understood as what we need to survive. This can lead to two effects of varying degrees – we might get more of what we are focused on and we might get less. But the value given to the more or less is the problem! It symbolizes our belief that what is external is what is real and that our happiness or lack thereof is contingent on what we get or don’t get.

This is a clear error.

On the higher level of experience, our thoughts are focused on God’s Will and the Teacher who speaks for that Will and thus teaches us that Love holds everything. When we give attention to this Love, this Love is brought forth in our living and extends to all Creation through us. This Love heals us as it heals our brothers and sisters, and it makes us happy in ways that are not conditional or contingent upon what appears to happen or not happen.

By shifting our focus away from the external – without denying or denigrating it – we gently bring our thinking into alignment with the Thoughts of God. This is the peace that surpasses understanding. This is the happiness that does not come and go.

All [ego] can offer is a sense of temporary existence, which begins with its own beginning and ends with its own ending . . . Against this sense of temporary existence spirit offers you the knowledge of permanence and unshakable being (T-4.III.3:4, 6).

The twelfth miracle principle of A Course in Miracles emphasizes that miracles are not external events or actions, but rather shifts in our thinking that produce meaningful results in our living. We learn that our thoughts can represent either the physical level of experience or the spiritual level, and that peace and happiness are real only at the spiritual level. Anything else is an illusion.

Thus, this principle attests to the power of our thoughts to shape our experience of the world and emphasizes the importance of focusing our thoughts on love and forgiveness in order to create the conditions for miracles to occur. We do this through practicing the daily lesson, praying and communing with the Holy Spirit, and giving attention to our relationships with all our brothers and sisters.

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