Miracles are habits and should
be involuntary. They should not be under conscious control.
Consciously selected miracles can
Basically, this means that the purpose
of A Course in Miracles is to have us continually move away from
our way of problem solving. One of the things we do is attack a problem;
we define something a certain way and then we have answers for it. We are
always working at it. The whole purpose of the Course is to train us to
look at problems in a totally different way, and to help us have this become
our immediate reaction more and more. In other words, for example, if we
are in a situation and someone does something and we suddenly find ourselves
getting upset or angry, more and more it should become a habit that we
quickly turn within and ask for help to shift our perception of this person
or situation. That is what is meant when the Course says that the miracle
should be "involuntary," that we are not the ones who do it. One of the
key ideas in A Course in Miracles which distinguished it from many
New Age systems that have a lot of similar ideas, is that the Course makes
it very clear that we cannot do this on our own. We choose the miracles,
but we are not the ones who do them. They cannot be done without the Holy
Spirit's help. That is the meaning of "involuntary" and of "[miracles]
should not be under conscious control." In Chapter 2 of the text, Jesus
talks about the difference between his guidance and his control (text,
p. 26; T-2.VI.1:3-8; 2:7-10). He says that we should turn over to him all
of our thoughts of fear, our thoughts of separation, so that he can control
them for us; then he can guide us. But, again, we should not try to do
this on our own. We are not in charge -- he is. It is our goal to become
sufficiently healed so that Jesus thinks, speaks, and acts through us.
Also, the Course does not mean that
we will not have problems in the world, or what we think of as problems.
What it does mean is that we will be able to look at them differently.
Our habitual response should be: What can I learn from this? What happens
over time is that our reaction-time becomes shorter and shorter in terms
of how long it takes us to correct our perception about what we believed
was upsetting us.
Q: Can we use the
word "alignment" with Jesus?
A: If you want
to use the word "alignment," it would be in the sense that we align our
thoughts with his, so that we begin to think like him. The whole Course
is a training program, as it says at the end of the first chapter (text,
p. 13; T-I.VII.4:1). It is a mind-training course, a way of training us
to think absolutely differently from everything else. This is a very radical
thought system. It teaches absolutely the opposite of everything the world
believes, and it teaches the opposite of what many religious or spiritual
systems believe, too. Let me mention, if I have not already, that A
Course in Miracles makes it very clear that it is not the only path,
that it is not the only form of truth. It just says that it is a path.
The Course says of itself that it is one form among many thousands (manual,
p.3; M-1.4:1-2). But it is a specific path, which means that you really
cannot combine it with anything else because it will not fit. The more
that we explore what it is saying, the more we will recognize how radical
What this principle is saying is that
we should not trust our own perceptions and, therefore, that we should
not choose how we should react to what we perceive. That is also what is
meant by "consciously selected miracles can be misguided." Here it is using
the word "miracle" in the popular sense of miracles being things that we
do. It is saying, again, that we should not be the ones who choose what
we do. We could be in the presence of someone who was suffering, and we
might almost instinctively rush to do something to heal or take away that
person's suffering, and that may not ultimately be the most loving thing
to do. It may be coming out of pity; it may be coming out of guilt; it
may be coming out of our own suffering; it may not be coming out of love.
And so what Jesus is saying here is: "Do not consciously select what the
loving act will be. Let me do that for you." This is a very clear point,
and very important. A temptation that many people who work with the Course
as well as people in other spiritual paths can fall into, is to be a kind
of spiritual do-gooder, For example: you are going to bring peace to the
world; you are going to bring people to the truth; you are going to help
take away people's suffering, etc. All that you are really doing is making
the suffering real because you are perceiving the suffering as outside.
You also are not realizing that if you are seeing it outside, it must be
only because you are seeing it within yourself. If you are perceiving someone
else in pain, and you are identifying with that pain, it could only be
because you are seeing it in yourself. It might be an example of reaction
formation: I feel I am terrible and, therefore, I psychologically defend
against my guilt by trying to help everyone else, atoning for my sin after
having made my sin real.
This does not mean you deny what you
see. If someone has broken his arm and he is screaming out in pain, it
does not mean you deny that the person is feeling pain and turn your back
on him. What it does mean is that you change how you look at that pain.
You realize that the real pain is not from the body; the real pain is from
the belief in separation in the mind. If you really want to be an instrument
of healing, then you join with that person, which means, perhaps, that
you rush the person to the hospital. But what you are really doing through
the form of your behavior is joining with that person, and realizing that
you are being healed as much as that person is.
The issue here is that this is not a
decision we should make on our own. Very often when we try to help, we
are really trying to do something else, which often is an extension of
our own guilt. Pity is not a loving response. Sympathy is not a loving
response. It sees you as different from the other person. In Chapter 16,
the Course makes a distinction between false empathy and true empathy (text,
p. 307; T-16.1). False empathy is identifying or empathizing with the person's
body -- whether we are talking about the physical body or psychological
body -- which means you are making the person weak by making the body real.
True empathy is identifying with the strength of Christ in the person,
realizing that this person's call for help is your call for help and, therefore,
you are both joined beyond the body.
Remember, the key problem to watch out
for is anything that reinforces separation. That is why the Course's view
of healing is so different from what other paths call healing. Healing
is not something that someone does. True healing, as A Course in Miracles
sees it, does not come from saying a certain prayer, or by the laying on
of hands, or by giving some people energy, or anything like that. If it
did, you would be making something of the body real and saying you have
a gift someone else does not have. That is not healing. This does not mean
that these approaches cannot be helpful, nor does it mean that you should
not use them. It just means that you should not call them healing, because
then you would be reinforcing separation. Very subtly you would be making
the body real.
The only real energy that is in this
world is the Holy Spirit. Anything else in this world is a false energy,
and is really of the ego, the body. The "healing energy of the world" is
forgiveness, which comes from the Holy Spirit inside our minds. Any other
form of energy may have relevance, existence, and reality within the world
of the body, but that world of the body is inherently illusory. That is
not what the Course is talking about in terms of healing. It is talking
only about joining with the Holy Spirit in your mind by sharing His perception,
thereby joining with other people.
Again, we are not the ones who can choose
what it is we should do or what it is that we should not do. He is the
one who chooses the expression of the miracle for us. Then He extends that
miracle through us. Later on, the text amplifies this point, and says that
our one concern is to bring our egos to the Holy Spirit; the extension
of forgiveness is not our responsibility (text, p. 449; T-22.VI.9:2-5).
That is where we get tripped up. We try to extend the miracle ourselves,
which just seems to be the loving or the holy thing. What we are very subtly
doing is letting the arrogance of the ego take upon itself the role of
God. Our responsibility is simply to ask for help to see something the
way Jesus sees it rather than the way the ego sees it. That is our only
responsibility. That is what the miracle is. Then he extends that miracle
through us and specifically tells us what we should do or not do.
This is why there is often so much judgment
and intolerance among religious and spiritual paths. Guilt was never truly
forgiven, but was simply repressed and then projected out in the form of
religious self-righteousness. I remember an example of this many years
ago, shortly after A Course in Miracles was published. We met a
man who had prepared a long chart of the Course's corrections of the Bible
which he was about to present to several ministers he knew, showing them
what Jesus really taught. Basically, what he was doing was hitting the
traditional churches over the head with the Course, just as he believed
he had been hit over the head with the Bible. Fortunately, we were able
to stop him in time. The whole point is that we should be sensitive to
what is going on inside our own minds, be aware of anything in our thinking
that would cause us to be separate from others, recognizing that this must
be our ego. We should always be cautious of judging according to form,
which, of course, is the ego's only way of judging. Yet, it is nonetheless
true that within the illusory world some people are more advanced than
others -- Jesus being the extreme example -- however, we must always be
careful of judging.