Miracles are everyone's right, but
purification is necessary first.
"Purification" is not a word that is
frequently used in the Course. It is certainly a word that has more connotations
in Judaism and Christianity, which is why I think it appeared here. The
earliest sections and chapters in the Course, in particular, use biblical
references to a great extent because Helen knew the Bible rather well,
especially the New Testament, and it was a way of Jesus helping her bridge
a gap. What A Course in Miracles means by "purification" is nothing
that you do with the body.
Q: You say Helen
knew the Bible, especially the New Testament, because she studied it?
A: Why did she
know it? She liked reading it. She liked the way it was written. She always
had a wonderful sense of style and language. She had a love-hate relationship
with Christianity, and the Catholic Church especially, but there was a
part of her that was very much attracted to it, as well as to the New Testament.
She could quote whole passages. She was also very familiar with the dogmas,
doctrines, and teachings of the Catholic and mainstream Protestant Churches.
But she never formally studied the Bible.
"Purification," as the Course uses it,
has nothing to do with the body. You do not purify a body or deprive a
body, because the body is not impure. If the body is inherently an illusion,
as A Course in Miracles teaches, then there is nothing you have to do with
the body. What makes the body sinful, impure, or unholy, are our thoughts,
which means it is our thoughts that have to be purified, not the body.
That is why it would certainly not be the Course's method to do anything
with the body. Asceticism could not be the Course's form of spirituality,
for asceticism's purpose is to purify the body. The Course's idea is that
you purify the mind. As St. Augustine said, "Love and do what you will."
If love is in your heart and in your mind, then everything you do will
be an extension of that love. Therefore, you do not have to worry about
the body; that is worrying about the wrong thing. That is not where the
problem is. What you worry about are the thoughts in your mind. The one
thought that has to be healed is the thought of guilt; that is what has
to be purified. So, when the Course says that miracles are everyone's right
-- it is saying that miracles are for all of us.
Another important implication here is
that miracles are not things that certain people do. One of the big mistakes
that formal religions make is to ascribe certain spiritual powers or properties
to some people and not others. There are some people who can work miracles
and not others; these are the holy people. These are the people who have
been chosen by the various religious institutions as being able to do certain
things that everyone else cannot do. What the Course is saying here is
that miracles are something that we can do; in fact, we all should do.
A miracle is not parting the Red Sea or walking on water; the miracle is
shifting from the ego's perception to the Holy Spirit's. That is what the
miracle is; and this is everyone's right. This then means that any person
can be the instrument for the Holy Spirit or Jesus, extending Their Love
through him or her in whatever form is the most helpful and most loving.
Our focus, then, is not on the external miracle. Our focus is on purifying
the impediments to this miracle, on removing the obstacles to the awareness
of love's presence. What has to he purified are our thoughts of separation,
our thoughts of guilt. What purifies them for us is asking the Holy Spirit
to forgive through us.
Q: How would you
judge or measure progress in the Course?
A: I would not
try to measure anyone's progress except my own, and that progress would
just be the extent of peace I feel. Each of us would have within our own
lives a beautiful way of measuring that. In other words, if you are in
a situation that five weeks ago or five years ago drove you up a wall,
or you are in the presence of someone who filled you with instant hate
or instant fear, and suddenly you could be with that person and feel at
peace, that would be an indication that you are doing all right. It is
always a real mistake to try to judge another person. There is a line in
the text which says that what we judge to be our greatest successes have
been our greatest failures, and what we have judged to be our greatest
retreats have been our greatest advances (text, p. 357; T-18.V.1:6), which
is a nice, gentle way of Jesus telling us that we do not know what is going
on. And if we do not know what is going on in ourselves, how are we supposed
to know what is going on in anyone else?