What does it mean to be a miracle worker? This theme is so central to A Course in Miracles that its first two chapters are devoted to laying it out. The picture painted by these chapters portrays a vision of a very different life, yet it is a vision that could be carried out in the midst of any life.
In this article, I want to briefly communicate my sense of that vision. To do so, I’ll also draw on material that Helen Schucman took down that was originally edited out of the published Course, but that we have restored in the Complete and Annotated Edition. Most of what I’ll be drawing from is now in the Course itself and some of it is in the cameo essays in the back.
First of all, you should know that in this early material, the miracle is almost exclusively something that passes from me to another person, healing the mind of that other person. Five times in this material miracles are called “expressions of love,” a phrase that needs no explanation—we all know what an expression of love is. It also explains why miracles heal; love always has a healing effect on its recipient.
At this point, then, the idea of a miracle as a healing of my own mind, so important in the Workbook, is hardly present at all. As a result, being a miracle worker quite plainly means giving miracles to others. In fact, do you want to know what the very first words of A Course in Miracles were? These came before “This is a course in miracles. Please take notes.” The first words that Helen took down for what would become A Course in Miracles were, “You will see miracles through your hands through Me.” That is how Jesus portrayed the miracle early on.
The sense I get from this material is that giving miracles is my real job, the real reason I am here, and I am meant to be on the job all the time, every minute. I clock in the moment I get up, and I never clock out. I thus start each day with the prayer, “Help me to perform whatever miracles you want of me today” (T-1.15.2:4). And I see each day as being about giving miracles. That’s what miracle principle 15 means when it says, “Each day should be devoted to miracles.”
To do this, I have to keep myself in a right-minded state. If “miracles are expressions of love” (T‑1.35.5:3), then I can’t do them unless I have love in me to express. If “the miracle is an expression of miracle-mindedness” (T-2.VIII.1:1), then I can’t do them unless I have miracle-mindedness in me to express. And this means guarding my thoughts, protecting my state of mind from wrong-minded thoughts. Jesus wants me to guard my thoughts all the time, so that I will always be ready to give miracles on his behalf:
Human beings are not used to miraculous thinking, but they can be trained to think that way.
All miracle workers have to be trained that way. I have to be able to count on them. This means that I cannot allow them to leave their minds unguarded, or they will not be able to help me. (T 2.X.9:3-10:3)
The flip side of guarding my thoughts is placing them under the guidance of Jesus. At first, this is something we will do consciously and occasionally, but eventually it will become habit, as Jesus says here:
It is possible to reach a state in which you bring your will under my guidance without much conscious effort, but this implies the kind of habit pattern which you have not developed dependably as yet. (T 2.IX.8:4)
My goal in all of this will be to keep my mind in a state of love rather than a state of fear, so that I have love to give. Thus, instead of trying to master fear—feel it but control it—my goal will be to master love. That’s what Jesus says here: “We began this section with an attempt to correct the fundamental human error that fear can be mastered. The correction was that only love can be mastered” (T‑2.XII.10:1‑2). What a beautiful idea! Imagine mastering love the same way one, for instance, would master the game of chess. Imagine becoming a master of love.
The point of all of this is that I am always holding myself ready to give miracles, ready for any opportunity that may arise, as this passage so clearly explains:
The distinction has also been made here between “miracle-mindedness” as a state and “miracle doing” as its expression. The former needs your careful protection, because it is a state of miracle readiness. This is what the Bible means in the references to “Hold yourself ready” and other similar injunctions.
Readiness here means keeping your perception right-side up, so you will always be ready, willing, and able [to give miracles]. (T-1.46.10:3-11:1)
So at all times, I am meant to hold myself ready, by carefully protecting my miracle-mindedness, always keeping my perception right-side up.
What I am holding myself ready for is the opportunity to do miracles. Jesus is busy arranging such opportunities and sending them my way: “I will arrange the right opportunities for you to do them. But you must be ready and willing to do them, since you are already able to” (T-1.26.7:2-3).
How do I spot these opportunities? I think there are two components. First, there is some need on the outside and some impulse to respond to it on the inside. Regarding that second item, this early material places great importance on what it calls “miracle impulses.” These are impulses that bubble up from the “miracle level” of the unconscious-spontaneous impulses to reach out and heal and join.
Our problem is that we often notice the need and feel the impulse, but then ignore it. For instance, Jesus talks about how Bill responded to the sight of those who need rehabilitation. He said they reminded Bill that he could find himself where they were, and this frightened him. “That is really why,” Jesus said to Bill, “you recoil from the demands of the dependent and from the sight of a broken body. Your ego is threatened, and blocks your natural impulse to help” (T-4.XI.5:1-2). That “natural impulse to help” is the miracle impulse.
So I need to always stand ready, watching for that need on the outside and that miracle impulse on the inside. The needs on the outside are remarkably ordinary and everyday. I’ve catalogued thirteen events in the early dictation that Jesus calls miracles, and the most striking thing about them is just how ordinary they are. Here are some of the needs that were responded to in these miracles:
- A friend needing to get over uncharitable perceptions of another friend
- A badly-written report that could have jeopardized funding for helping retarded children
- Bill wondering what to do about getting a flu shot
- A dying friend who needed prayers
- A mother in-law who needed visiting
As you can see, these are the kinds of needs that we are faced with all the time. The opportunities for miracles, then, do not come along only every now and then. They come along so frequently that each day can be devoted to miracles.
However, before I express the miracle impulse I am feeling (so as to meet the need I am seeing), there is one last step. I need to check with Jesus and make sure it is an impulse he wants expressed. He is actually quite concerned about what he calls “indiscriminate miracles.”
The problem with expressing miracle impulses indiscriminately is that I will end up giving miracles where there really isn’t an openness to them, and as a result my efforts will be wasted and I will end up exhausted. In fact, Jesus attributes the relatively early death of Edgar Cayce at age 67 to this very process. In the early 1940’s, Cayce was deluged with requests for readings. He couldn’t stop himself from doing more than his health could tolerate, and he subsequently died. Jesus comments:
While what he did came from Me, he could not be induced to ask Me each time whether I wanted him to perform this particular miracle. If he had, he would not have performed any miracles that could not get through constructively, and would thus have saved himself unnecessary strain.
He burned himself out with indiscriminate miracles, and to this extent did not fulfill his own full purpose. (original Notes for T-1.35.4:2-4)
“The answer,” Jesus concludes, “is to never perform a miracle without asking me if you should. This spares you from exhaustion” (T-1.35.5:1-2). He selects which miracles are appropriate to give based on his awareness of which individuals are likely to let the miracle in and then pass it on to others. “Christ-controlled miracles are selective only in that they are directed toward those who can use them for themselves. Since this makes it inevitable that they will extend them to others, a very strong chain of Atonement is welded” (T-1.49.2:1-2).
Once we get the green light from Jesus, what does the miracle look like? Again, it looks quite ordinary.
- Helen made “a maximal effort” to help the one friend get over his misperceptions of the other friend, despite the fact that Helen had an intense dislike of the second friend.
- Helen anonymously rewrote the badly-written report and secured the funding.
- Helen managed to find herself on a call with the chairman of the flu board, and by being patient and cooperative, was able to elicit expert advice on Bill’s behalf.
- Helen prayed for her dying friend, as per Jesus’ instructions (she prayed “that he would be able to love everybody in return”).
- And Helen visited her mother in-law. At first she resented this, as she wanted to spend the time washing her hair, but then she decided she was happy to give the miracle.
These were all labeled “miracles” by Jesus. Expressions of love like these are what, in Jesus’ eyes, our days and our lives are really about.
Finally, these expressions of love will return to bless me. The Course will later make clear that this blessing takes the form of wiping away my sense of guilt and awakening me to my real Identity. However, from the real-life examples in the early dictation, we can see that this blessing can take very concrete, and unexpected, forms (as we also see in Lesson 345, fourth sentence).
For instance, at one point both Helen and Bill forgot to ask if it was time to transcribe her notes from Jesus. Helen would normally be prone to blaming Bill for this (though she had forgotten as well). But this time she didn’t. Jesus called this “blessing him with a miracle instead of cursing him with projection.” And he said it allowed him to give her a “special revelation,” a soaring praise of the loftiness of her true nature as “a perfect shaft of pure light” that was “created above the angels” (T-1.23.2:6,9).
In another example, Bill didn’t offer to let a woman he’d had some friction with share his cab, because he wanted to get home quicker. But Jesus said that if he had offered, she would have taken it as a gesture of forgiveness. This miracle would have then called upon “the time-saving device of the miracle” and summoned a cab far more quickly than the one that eventually came. Ironically, according to Jesus, “He would have gotten home much quicker if he had taken time to use time properly” (Cameo 14).
Finally, Helen’s prayers for her dying friend came back to her in the form of this friend, once on the other side, helping her with her day. She got a bit spooked by this, and so Jesus, after refusing to explain the details, simply said, “It’s just an example of how no miracle is ever lost, and always blesses the doer.”
This, then, is a brief snapshot of what the Course’s foundational chapters see as the job of the miracle worker. We start the day by devoting it to our job of giving miracles. We hold our mind in a right-minded state all day long, so we are always ready for the opportunities that are sent our way. We then express the miracle impulses that Jesus tells us to express, thus bringing healing love to those who need it and are open to it. And we receive the blessings that will then return to us, since, as he promises, “The miracle will also always bless you” (T-1.46.2:2). If this is the life you want to lead, I’ve got a course you may want to take.