The Fifty Miracle Principles of A Course in Miracles
by Kenneth Wapnick

Principle 5, part 1

Miracles are habits and should be involuntary. They should not be under conscious control. 
Consciously selected miracles can be misguided.

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 it is.

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.

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From The Fifty Miracle Principles of A Course in
Miracles, Third Edition, copyright 1992 by the Foundation for A Course in
Miracles and reproduced with the kind permission of Kenneth Wapnick
and the Foundation

 A Course in Miracles, copyright 1985, 1992, 1999
by the Foundation for A Course in Miracles