ACIM Text Reading for January 7
A Course in Miracles
Text – Chapter 1
The Meaning of Miracles
III. Atonement and Miracles
I am in charge of the process of Atonement, which I undertook to begin. When you offer a miracle to any of my brothers, you do it to yourself and me. The reason you come before me is that I do not need miracles for my own Atonement, but I stand at the end in case you fail temporarily. My part in the Atonement is the canceling out of all errors that you could not otherwise correct. When you have been restored to the recognition of your original state, you naturally become part of the Atonement yourself. As you share my unwillingness to accept error in yourself and others, you must join the great crusade to correct it; listen to my voice, learn to undo error and act to correct it. The power to work miracles belongs to you. I will provide the opportunities to do them, but you must be ready and willing. Doing them will bring conviction in the ability, because conviction comes through accomplishment. The ability is the potential, the achievement is its expression, and the Atonement, which is the natural profession of the children of God, is the purpose.
“Heaven and earth shall pass away” means that they will not continue to exist as separate states. My word, which is the resurrection and the life, shall not pass away because life is eternal. You are the work of God, and his work is wholly lovable and wholly loving. This is how a man must think of himself in his heart, because this is what he is.
The forgiven are the means of the Atonement. Being filled with spirit, they forgive in return. Those who are released must join in releasing their brothers, for this is the plan of the Atonement. Miracles are the way in which minds that serve the Holy Spirit unite with me for the salvation or release of all of God’s creations.
I am the only one who can perform miracles indiscriminately, because I am the Atonement. You have a role in the Atonement which I will dictate to you. Ask me which miracles you should perform. This spares you needless effort, because you will be acting under direct communication. The impersonal nature of the miracle is an essential ingredient, because it enables me to direct its application, and under my guidance miracles lead to the highly personal experience of revelation. A guide does not control but he does direct, leaving it up to you to follow. “Lead us not into temptation” means “Recognize your errors and choose to abandon them by following my guidance. ”
Error cannot really threaten truth, which can always withstand it. Only the error is actually vulnerable. You are free to establish your kingdom where you see fit, but the right choice is inevitable if you remember this:
Spirit is in a state of grace forever.
Your reality is only spirit.
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever.
Atonement undoes all errors in this respect, and thus uproots the source of fear. Whenever you experience God’s reassurances as threat, it is always because you are defending misplaced or misdirected loyalty. When you project this to others you imprison them, but only to the extent to which you reinforce errors they have already made. This makes them vulnerable to the distortions of others, since their own perception of themselves is distorted. The miracle worker can only bless them, and this undoes their distortions and frees them from prison.
You respond to what you perceive, and as you perceive so shall you behave. The Golden Rule asks you to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This means that the perception of both must be accurate. The Golden Rule is the rule for appropriate behavior. You cannot behave appropriately unless you perceive correctly. Since you and your neighbor are equal members of one family, as you perceive both so you will do to both. You should look out from the perception of your own holiness to the holiness of others.
Miracles arise from a mind that is ready for them. By being united this mind goes out to everyone, even without the awareness of the miracle worker himself. The impersonal nature of miracles is because the Atonement itself is one, uniting all creations with their Creator. As an expression of what you truly are, the miracle places the mind in a state of grace. The mind then naturally welcomes the host within and the stranger without. When you bring in the stranger, he becomes your brother.
That the miracle may have effects on your brothers that you may not recognize is not your concern. The miracle will always bless you. Miracles you are not asked to perform have not lost their value. They are still expressions of your own state of grace, but the action aspect of the miracle should be controlled by me because of my complete awareness of the whole plan. The impersonal nature of miracle-mindedness ensures your grace, but only I am in a position to know where they can be bestowed.
Miracles are selective only in the sense that they are directed towards those who can use them for themselves. Since this makes it inevitable that they will extend them to others, a strong chain of Atonement is welded. However, this selectivity takes no account of the magnitude of the miracle itself, because the concept of size exists on a plane that is itself unreal. Since the miracle aims at restoring the awareness of reality, it would not be useful if it were bound by laws that govern the error it aims to correct.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 7
I see only the past.
This idea is particularly difficult to believe at first. Yet it is the rationale for all of the preceding ones.
It is the reason why nothing that you see means anything.
It is the reason why you have given everything you see all the meaning that it has for you.
It is the reason why you do not understand anything you see.
It is the reason why your thoughts do not mean anything, and why they are like the things you see.
It is the reason why you are never upset for the reason you think.
It is the reason why you are upset because you see something that is not there.
Old ideas about time are very difficult to change, because everything you believe is rooted in time, and depends on your not learning these new ideas about it. Yet that is precisely why you need new ideas about time. This first time idea is not really so strange as it may sound at first.
Look at a cup, for example. Do you see a cup, or are you merely reviewing your past experiences of picking up a cup, being thirsty, drinking from a cup, feeling the rim of a cup against your lips, having breakfast and so on? Are not your aesthetic reactions to the cup, too, based on past experiences? How else would you know whether or not this kind of cup will break if you drop it? What do you know about this cup except what you learned in the past? You would have no idea what this cup is, except for your past learning. Do you, then, really see it?
Look about you. This is equally true of whatever you look at. Acknowledge this by applying the idea for today indiscriminately to whatever catches your eye. For example:
I see only the past in this pencil.
I see only the past in this shoe.
I see only the past in this hand.
I see only the past in that body.
I see only the past in that face.
Do not linger over any one thing in particular, but remember to omit nothing specifically. Glance briefly at each subject, and then move on to the next. Three or four practice periods, each to last a minute or so, will be enough.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #958: In what way does studying and applying A Course in Miracles save us time? Will it cause us to live fewer lives? Does this idea imply a belief in, or recognition of, the phenomenon of reincarnation on the part of Jesus? Doesn’t the Course also say that we could be with Jesus now , if we only saw (as in vision)? Does this mean that there is no shortcut to enlightenment? No direct access to God?
Also, what is the ultimate definition of miracle in the Course? I know that there are 50 miracle principles, and the term miracle is used frequently in the text. But I find that these are just hints pointing to the real meaning of miracle . The Course doesn’t seem to be referring to what we usually describe as a miracle.
A: Jesus tells us in the Course that “The miracle substitutes for learning that might have taken thousands of years” (T.1.2.6:7) . So let us start by examining what he means by miracle . He means a shift of internal teachers in our mind. It is a choice to listen to the Holy Spirit’s or Jesus’ guidance (which will always lead us to extend love) rather than to the ego’s raucous shrieking (which will always compel us to project guilt). Notice that the miracle is not the extension of love — the extension is a reflection of the miracle that occurred in the mind, and it can take many different forms. The miracle, as defined by Jesus in the Course, has nothing to do with bodies, physical phenomena, or anything in the world. It is solely a shift in thinking. However, it is a shift so profound that it automatically transforms us from a mindset of trying to get our perceived needs met at any cost, to one of knowing that our only real need is to remember God’s Love — a need we share with everyone else who believes that they are here. As a result, in the moment when we truly experience the miracle, there is no way we could say, do, or think anything that is not motivated by love. The aim of the Course is to help us set up the conditions in our mind to experience the miracle more and more.
One of the ways Jesus motivates us to listen to his message is by promising to save us time. And it is true that doing what he asks of us will seem to save us time. Using this world as a classroom in forgiveness will gradually decrease our compulsion to repeat painful and destructive patterns in our lives. So, for example, rather than spending an entire life unconsciously drawing experiences to us in which we feel like victims, Jesus or the Holy Spirit will help us remove (through forgiveness) the ontological guilt from our mind that compelled us to use victimization as a defense against God’s Love. In this way, we can actually use our time here to get closer to awakening to our true home in Heaven rather than as an indefinite prison sentence.
This does not mean, however, that Jesus believes in time. He tells us that “time but lasted an instant in your mind, with no effect upon eternity” (T.26.3:3) and that truth is “far beyond time” (T.15.II.1:9). Thus, it is clear that he speaks about time in the Course only because he knows we believe in it. It is one of the symbols in our dream that Jesus must use in order to motivate us and help us grasp what he is talking about.
In keeping with his knowledge of the unreality of time, Jesus tells us, “In the ultimate sense, reincarnation is impossible. There is no past or future, and the idea of birth into a body has no meaning either once or many times. Reincarnation cannot, then, be true in any real sense” (M.24.1:1,2,3). But he also says that ” the way to salvation can be found by those who believe in reincarnation and by those who do not” (M.24.2:8) , and that “There is always some good in any thought which strengthens the idea that life and the body are not the same” (M.24.2:8). There are passages in the Course in which Jesus seems to imply that reincarnation is a real phenomenon. But that would make it real only in that it happens within the dream. Jesus’ primary message is that nothing that happens within this dream is real. And so, ultimately, Jesus and his course are not concerned with reincarnation or anything involving bodies. Like the concept of time, if reincarnation is a meaningful concept to us , Jesus is happy to work with it. But he does so only as part of his strategy for helping us move beyond all concepts that obscure our reality as the one changeless Son of God.
Finally, about your question of being with Jesus now , direct access to God, and a shortcut to enlightenment: The Course states, “Sometimes a teacher of God may have a brief experience of direct union with God. In this world, it is almost impossible that this endure. It can, perhaps, be won after much devotion and dedication, and then be maintained for much of the time on earth. But this is so rare that it cannot be considered a realistic goal. If it happens, so be it. If it does not happen, so be it as well. All worldly states must be illusory. If God were reached directly in sustained awareness, the body would not be long maintained” (M.26.3:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8). We must read this passage with awareness that (despite its frequent use of anthropomorphic language to describe Him) the God the Course refers to is not a being but a state. It is “a Oneness which unites all things within Itself” (T.25.I.7:2) . Were we to fully understand what this means and achieve sustained awareness of it, we would not be here long because we would have awakened to the fact that we are not here. Knowing that we are safely at home in Heaven, most of us would no longer have any purpose for continuing this dream. But that is the end of the journey the Course takes us on. As such, it is really not our concern.
Far more helpful to us at this point, is to focus on the Course’s emphasis that Jesus, as a teacher, is in our mind, and that if we choose to listen to him now , we will experience the Love of God, which is also in our mind now . Therefore, we already have direct access to everything we need for enlightenment — the Course’s curriculum for embracing it is the shortcut.
For related discussion of miracles see Questions #288 and #559. For more about reincarnation, see Question #24. And for more about direct access to God, please see Question #101.
Q #327: I would appreciate some clarification of the concept of oneness and the following excerpt from the text of A Course in Miracles: “God, Who encompasses all being, created beings who have everything individually” (W.4.VII.5:1).
A: Jesus is simply using the words of our symbolic, dualistic thought system to reassure us that releasing our investment and identification with the ego will not result in any real or meaningful loss. The concept of a hologram can be helpful here, for Jesus in essence is saying that the whole is contained in every part. In reality, any experience of oneness must be beyond all concepts we may employ to attempt to describe it. It is simply an experience of total love that knows no limits, no differences, no perception of an other. That it does not encompass individuality in any real sense becomes clear in Jesus’ words later in the Course:
“Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say “God is,” and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is” (W.pI.169.5).
But Jesus is also aware of our desperate desire to cling to a sense of a separate identity, and so he reassures us, “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality” (T.16.VI.8:1). In other words, any shift towards releasing the ego is completely our choice. If it were not, we would be a victims of forces beyond our control, a situation totally antithetical to the Course’s gentle teachings on forgiveness.
See Question #17 for a related discussion on releasing our sense of individuality.