A Course in Miracles Text Made Simple

To gain the most from A Course in Miracles Text Made Simple, we recommend that
you read the corresponding chapter and section in the Text of the Second or
Third Edition of A Course in Miracles published by the Foundation for Inner Peace.

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Chapter 1: The Meaning of Miracles

Section VII: Distortions of Miracle Impulses

Read Chapter 1, Section VII. (pages 15-16)

What covers up awareness of our reality as Love?

The first key idea that is introduced in this section is: Body perceptions cover up awareness of our reality as Love and make It almost impossible to recognize. When we believe what we see with the body’s eyes is real, the truth that we are still formless Love in the Mind of universal Love becomes covered up or hidden from our awareness. What we see through the body’s eyes is the total opposite of what our true Self knows as reality. The bodies senses can only perceive the ego’s world of separation because that is what it was made for. Our true reality as Spirit knows only equality and sameness. It knows that only Love’s oneness is real. With perception, we see duality in a world with ‘others’ who are outside of us and different from us. Spirit knows only oneness and sees no differences.

Here we can see that we are talking about two mutually exclusive thought systems — one true, the other false. We cannot continue to believe that differences are real and experience the oneness of Love. When we look out through the body’s eyes, which show us only separate forms, it is hard to fathom the reality of Love that knows no boundaries, no limits and no differences. But this is exactly what the Course is leading us to recognize.

What inspires miracle impulses and what motivates physical impulses?

The confusion of miracle impulses with physical impulses comes because we identify with being a separate body instead of universal Love. Miracle impulses are inspired by the oneness of Love. Physical impulses are motivated by belief in separation and uniqueness. When we think we are a body, we believe in our body’s senses which are limited to physical perception, excluding our eternal spiritual reality.

Miracle impulses come from the Love that we are as eternal Spirit. They may be expressed through the body, but they originate from the truth in our minds. However, when we confuse our identity with the body, we may distort the motivations that originate from Love. This leads us to act with the body in a way that does not clearly express the universal nature of Love. Instead of expressing Love in a way that recognizes our equality with everyone, we offer Love only selectively to “special” people. This expression excludes and therefore separates instead of extending the unity of Love.

What does it mean to distort Reality through fantasy?

Paragraph 3, sentences 1-8, talks about fantasy. Because only the oneness of universal Love is real, the entire physical world we perceive is a fantasy, a distortion of reality. It stems from our desire (false need) to be separate and have our own special identity. Since this is impossible in reality, we attempt to control reality through fantasy by making up a world that satisfies our desire for uniqueness. Believing in what we have made, this world of fantasy seems real to us.

How do we help our brother know himself as Love?

As we open our minds to miracle impulses that extend God’s universal Love, our belief in miracle impulses grows stronger. By holding the conviction that our brother is only Love, we help our brother know himself as Love. As we feel the joy that comes with extending the Love that we share with our brothers, we no longer feel a need to fantasize uniqueness and separation. We know we are one with our brother and our only goal is to offer the truth to everyone so that we return together to full awareness of our unity in Love.

Why do we need Holy Spirit’s mind training?

Paragraphs 4-5 emphasize the importance of having a good foundation of understanding to prepare us for direct communication with God. That is why it says, “This is a course in mind training.” (4:1) Without this foundation developed step by step, communication with God might be feared rather than welcomed. We might perceive it as requiring sacrifice and loss instead of seeing it as a gift of peace and joy.

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Chapter 1: The Meaning of Miracles

Section VI: The Illusion of Needs

Read Chapter 1, Section VI. (pages 13-15)

This section has some core ideas that are important for us to learn to apply in our lives. If we really want to awaken to the truth of our oneness in God, we need to fully understand and integrate these key ideas into the way we think and live our lives. An important idea Jesus states in this section is: “A sense of separation from God is the only lack you really need correct. This sense of separation would never have arisen if you had not distorted your perception of truth, and had thus perceived yourself as lacking.” (2:1-2)

What does Jesus mean by, “Belief produces the acceptance of existence.”?

It is important to realize that this is why we see the world we see. We see a world of separate bodies because we thought we would “be better off in a state somehow different from the one you are in.” (1:5) We wanted a world that was different from God’s oneness. We wanted to believe we were separate and could have something for ourselves alone. We wanted to experience a world of uniqueness that was separate from the unity of God. We wanted to put ourselves in God’s place and make a world of unique identities that we as individuals could control.

What causes our sense of lack, fear and conflict?

It is the belief that we are separate that creates the sense of lack in our lives because we do not feel one with God’s unified Love and strength. God is unified Love. In truth we also are unified Love. Believing we are separate from Love creates fear. As we are motivated to let go of this false sense of separation from God, our sense of lack will disappear. Fear will disappear from our experience. That is why letting go our our false beliefs (forgiving) is the only meaningful purpose for time.

Our belief in separation has given us the false impression that our Creator’s oneness has been destroyed and replaced with differences and individuality. Our belief in separation has given us the experience of a world of unique bodies which have separate wills of their own which are different from God’s unity. To reverse this false belief, we need to return the reality that we are still as God created us. As we return to the purity our true reality through the process of forgiveness, we return to a state of peace, which is our natural state.

Holding onto our belief in separation only produces the continued experience of stress, conflict and lack. This stressful state of mind is not our reality, but we will think it so as long as this belief remains in tact. That is why at the end of this section, Jesus uses the following logic to help us sort the real from the unreal as a way to resolve all belief in lack and fear: “Perfect love casts out fear. If fear exists, then there is not perfect love. But: Only perfect love exists. If there is fear, it produces a state that does not exist.” (5:4-8)

Why is it so important to recognize the illusory nature of our fears and beliefs?

Even though fear produces a state that does not exist, our belief makes fear seem real and justified to us. Just as Jesus’ logic leads us to the truth because it is based on truth, logic based on a false assumption leads to an erroneous conclusion. We conclude that fear is justified because it is based on the underlying false belief that separation is real.

As we let go of believing we are separate from unified Love, we will no longer see justification for fear. For example, in our past we may have been afraid of losing a loved one because we have carried the belief that they were their body and individual personality. Now we know that they are one with us as the same eternal Spirit of Love. This peaceful understanding of the truth releases us from the fear of loss because we now know that what is real is changeless and eternal and could never be lost. We feel safe at a deep level and know that in reality, loss of our true Identity as an extension of God’s Love is impossible. We know that the Love we feel is eternal and cannot be lost. We know that we were created as an extension of God’s Love and that can never change for ourselves or anyone in our dream of separation.

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Chapter 1: The Meaning of Miracles

Section V: Wholeness and Spirit

Read Chapter 1, Section V. (pages 12-13).

In the first paragraph, the miracle and the body are both described as learning aids, which are used only as long as they are needed. As we return to the awareness of our original state as Love, direct communication replaces the miracle and the body. Because we did not create ourselves, we cannot change our innate ability to create (which means extend Love) as our Creator does. We can imagine that we have destroyed our communication with our Source, but we cannot make it true.

In A Course in Miracles, what is the difference between between ‘make’ and ‘create’?

In the first paragraph of section V the Course introduces the distinction between “make” and “create.” Whenever the Course refers to creation, it is referring to God’s extension of Love. It is not referring to creativity as we commonly think of it in reference to artists, writers, inventors, etc. In the Workbook for Students section 11. titled, What is Creation? we are told, “Creation is the sum of all God’s Thoughts, in number infinite, and everywhere without all limit. Only Love creates, and only like Itself.” (W-pII.11.1:1-2)

The ego, on the other hand makes illusions. When it says, “You can make an empty shell, but you cannot express nothing at all,” (1:4 italics added) it means the ego can make the body, which is an empty shell, but this empty shell can still be used by the Holy Spirit as a medium of communication for teaching.

What does it mean to be miracle-minded and how does it help us in our life?

In the second paragraph of section V, a key idea is that, as we become miracle-minded (or open to the correction of our perception), we shorten the need for time. As we open to miracles, we remember our true Identity as an extension of God’s Love and become aware of the universal abundance of Love in everyone. We remember everyone is the same Love because God gives all Love to all equally.

What does it mean to be dependent on God?

An important concept in the third paragraph of section V is that we must remember our total dependence on God in order to know the power of “the Son in his true relationship with the Father.” (3:4) The truth is we come from God and are just like God. God’s strength is ours. If we try to be independent of God, we lose awareness of our God-given strength. The ego’s highest priority is independence, and the idea of being dependent is repulsive to the ego. Yet this very independence from God is what makes us feel weak and vulnerable because we have lost awareness of God’s strength in us. So, contrary to what the ego teaches, to acknowledge our dependence on God is to accept God’s strength as ours and know our perfect safety and invulnerability.

The truth is we cannot change God and we cannot change God’s eternal extension of Love, Which is called the Son of God or the Sonship. If we do not realize we have been given all of Love (God), our perception is distorted. Because the Sonship is one, if any part of the Sonship is asleep to the truth, it affects the whole. That is why the Course often tells us that we don’t go Home alone.

How does Jesus describe God’s extension?

The central theme in paragraph four of section V is that God’s extension is whole or one or holy. As we accept miracles, we are accepting our state of wholeness or our innate abundance because we recognize that All has All. We are affirming the truth about ourselves.

In paragraph five Jesus returns to what was discussed in paragraph three. We cannot change God’s Creation and we cannot change God. As we learn to accept Creation as It is and not try to change It, we release ourselves from the tyrannous and limiting control of the ego and we place our mind under God, or true Authority.

How do we return to the abundance awareness of the Christ Mind?

As we learn to step back and return to the abundance awareness of the Christ Mind, we let go of the false ideas of the ego, which is trying to replace God’s oneness with the individuality of separation. We let go of the idea that our safety lies in illusions of separate bodies. As we begin to recognize the illusions we have been believing in for what they are, it can seem quite disorienting. It is as though the foundation on which we have based our lives is crumbling.

Some react by defending their illusions more vigorously in an attempt to make them seem more real and thus hold on to them. But being illusions, they can never really provide a solid foundation. Beneath the bravado of defense, there is an underlying awareness that what we are defending is untrue. It is really upside down thinking, confusing illusion with truth. So we are seeing here that the disorientation and instability that seems to come with giving up the illusions that we had thought were true is to be expected. But it does not need to last. In exchange for giving up our belief in false ideas, the Holy Spirit offers us the rock solid, changeless strength of God. Nothing could be more stable.

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Chapter 1: The Meaning of Miracles

Section IV: The Escape from Darkness

Read Chapter 1, Section IV. (pages 11-12).

This section has only 4 paragraphs, but each paragraph says a lot. Let’s take it one paragraph at a time, beginning with paragraph one.

What is meant by escaping from darkness?

The escape from darkness is the escape from the belief that we separated from God — Universal Love. Believing we have separated from universal Love is the same as hiding from the awareness of Love’s oneness or denying that Love is all that is real. Inherent in Love is perfect, all encompassing oneness. In oneness there can be nothing to hide. All has all and knows all because all is joined in one, universal Mind. The experience of Love’s oneness brings with It the experience of Love’s innate peace and joy. When we remember that all is in communion, or one undivided whole, we know that all understands all because every part is the same as the whole.

In oneness, no part wants to hide or keep anything from the whole. The idea of trying to retain anything for one’s individual ‘self’ alone is what the darkness is. In this paragraph we are reminded that “darkness cannot hide.” (1:1) To this part that wants to separate, it is very fearful to learn that we cannot in truth have separate minds with private thoughts. We cannot be different or special. As we can let go of, or forgive, the idea of hiding anything from the whole, we escape from the belief in darkness (separation) and return to experiencing the peace and joy that comes with remembering our innate oneness.

The image we have of ourselves as separate individuals with separate minds contained in separate bodies is an illusion. It is a self deception because, in truth, the one Self is Love. Love is one and cannot be divided. So when we identify with an identity that thinks it is unique and separate, we are in darkness, because we are denying the oneness of Love that is our true Identity. This denial produces the experience of lack and lovelessness that comes when we think we can get something for ourselves alone.

How did we become unaware of God’s Love?

In truth we can never be without God’s Love because we are God’s Love. But we can deny the awareness of Love’s presence and thus we become unaware that we are God’s Love. When we deny God’s Love, we try to hide our true Identity in darkness. Yet the thing we are hiding from is the very thing that our heart yearns for because we yearn to be in our natural state of God’s Love as we were created.

The illusions of individuality we have of ourselves in this world hide this universal Self from our awareness. We cannot hang on to a separate, unique identity and know the oneness of the Love that we are. The miracle corrects the errors we hold about ourselves and in this way we come to realize that we no longer want to believe we are a separate self. No longer needing to protect a separate identity, we are released from the fear that comes with the belief in separation. We accept the unified Self we are instead of rejecting It.

What does holiness mean?

Let’s now move on to paragraph two. Another way to say the first sentence is: Oneness in Love, which is the same as wholeness or holiness, can never really be hidden in darkness (separation from Love), but we can believe in the illusion that we are separate. This illusion of separation from Love makes us very afraid, because in our hearts we know that it is not true even though we try very hard to make it appear to be real. When we open to a correction in our perception (the miracle), we open to Reality, which means we return to the awareness that we are one Spirit. Remembering we are one Spirit returns us to the awareness of our union with Love.

As we accept a correction in our perception, we join with the Holy Spirit’s goal of correcting all errors or belief in lack of Love. When we believe that there could be an opposite to Love, we are believing in nothing. We forget the truth that we are the one Spirit of Love. As we learn to serve only the Holy Spirit’s goal of remembering our oneness, we remember we are invulnerable. We remember that there is nothing to fear because nothing but Love exists.

What does Jesus mean when he refers to ‘sin’?

In paragraph 2, sentence 7, it says that the errors in the mind are merely lacks of Love, which is the same as saying lack of awareness of our one Identity. In paragraph 3, sentence 1 it says that sin is lack of love (or belief that we truly separated from Love). We now know that belief in sin is merely an error in our perception, and could never be true. Since miracles correct all errors in our mind, miracles bring release from belief in sin, or belief in a lack of love. Release from belief in sin (that we really separated from God) comes not from sacrifice or punishment, but from accepting the miracle, which is the same as letting the truth of our oneness with Love return to our conflicted mind.

What does Jesus mean by our innate abundance?

In paragraph 3, Jesus emphasizes that as we are willing to return to the truth that we are still Love as God created us, we are also returning to the awareness of our innate abundance in Love. Believing in separation from Love brings us the experience of lack of love or scarcity. Love is abundant because It is all encompassing. Because Love does not change, it is eternal. The Atonement merely returns our minds to the awareness that in Reality, we are abundant in God because we are still one with all Love. We will always have and be all Love, which we know we share with all Creation. Having all Love and being one with All That Is, we have no needs. This is what we realize when we return to awareness of the truth. This is why Jesus tells us, “Truth is always abundant. Those who perceive and acknowledge that they have everything have no needs of any kind.” (3:4)

How do we abandon the belief in deprivation?

In paragraph 4, we see that it is through forgiveness, or letting go of illusions of separation from Love, that we escape from the darkness of fear and the feeling of lack, depression and emptiness. We learn that the illusion of ‘life’ in a separate body that is born and eventually grows sick and dies is not true. Jesus demonstrated that death does not exist and he tells us that he will bring us this assurance if we are willing to listen. As we are willing to learn the truth from him, we will also strengthen the truth in ourselves and our brothers. We will teach abundance as we accept the truth that everyone is eternally abundant in God.

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Chapter 1: The Meaning of Miracles

Section III: Atonement and Miracles

Read Chapter 1, Section III. (pages 8-11).

What part does Jesus play in the Atonement?

The Course is written from the point of view that Jesus is the speaker. Because he has wholly aligned his thoughts with the Holy Spirit, he is the manifestation or expression of the Holy Spirit. So when he says, “I am in charge of the process of Atonement,” (1:1) we can think of it as the Holy Spirit speaking to us through the symbol that we call Jesus. It is not important that we believe that this is Jesus talking. The ego can easily get caught up in theological debates and try to keep our attention on ‘outer form’ rather than the truth of oneness. What is important is that we allow ourselves to experience and extend miracles (healed perception), which is the means to the Atonement.

What does Atonement mean?

Miracles principal #26 tells us that, ” ‘Atoning’ means ‘undoing.’ ” So the Atonement is the undoing of the mistaken ideas in our mind. We are thinking that separate bodies are real and this is not how God created us. The means for the Atonement is the acceptance of miracles, which is the correction of our perception. As we listen to the Voice for God (Holy Spirit), the errors in our mind are corrected. As we accept a correction in our perception, we just naturally join in the plan of the Atonement, because in truth, minds are joined.

In this section, Jesus is correcting our perception by bringing us to the remembrance of our true Identity. He tells us, “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.” (2:3-4) It is a very helpful practice to remind yourself often during the day that you are the work of God and that as God’s work (or extension), you are wholly lovable and wholly loving. Reminding yourself daily that you are Love’s extension helps you return to your true Identity. The more you identify yourself as being Love’s extension, the more you will just naturally extend the Love that you are.

The purpose of the Atonement is to undo all the errors in our mind. We have been thinking of ourselves as something other than Spirit and this is clearly mistaken thinking. Joining with mistaken thoughts is the source of all our fear. As we are willing to let all the errors in our minds be corrected, the Atonement uproots the source of fear. As we learn to accept the undoing of the dream of separation, we return to remembering that we are eternal Spirit. We gradually let go of believing in the ego’s laws of limitation and recognize that we are under no laws but God’s. We recognize that we are in a state of God’s grace forever.

What happens when we accept the Atonement?

As we accept the Atonement, or the undoing of the dream of separation, we recognize that we are united with all our brothers and we naturally join in releasing our brothers by focusing on their true reality as one with all Love. As we accept this change of mind for ourselves, we become miracle workers. Jesus tells us, “The miracle worker can only bless them [our brothers], and thus undoes their distortions and frees them from prison.” (5:11)

The goal of the miracle is to restore the awareness of reality. Jesus tells us, “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. (3:3-4)

Why was this world ‘made’ and what is the way out of the stress and ups and downs we experience so frequently?

This world was made up in our minds as a ‘place’ to serve the ego belief that separation is real. The way out of this stressful dream of separation is through shifting our allegiance from the ego’s way of seeing everything in this world to the Holy Spirit’s spiritual sight. We do this by letting the Holy Spirit decide for us what everything means, and not deciding anything on our own. The early lessons of the Workbook teach us that we do not know what anything means. This is an important step in learning to let the Holy Spirit be in charge of all our thoughts.

When we join in the one-mindedness of the Holy Spirit, we are uniting with Jesus and serving God’s plan of awakening. When we put the Holy Spirit in charge, He leads us to forgive the past, to forgive our brothers and therefore know we are forgiven. By releasing our brothers from all guilt, we are helping them release themselves from guilt by not sharing in their distorted ideas about themselves. We bless our brothers by seeing them truly, with the Holy Spirit’s help. We see that they are still as God created them. Perceiving correctly with the Holy Spirit, we are helpful in all our relationships with ‘others.’ The Holy Spirit helps us recognize our own holiness and we are then able to see the holiness in everyone equally.

What happens as we are able to see the holiness in everyone?

Jesus tells us that as we are released from the pain of believing in separate bodies, we just naturally join in releasing our brothers because we are seeing them truly. He tells us, “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.” (1:5-9)

What does Jesus say about applying the Golden Rule?

Jesus makes it very clear here how to correctly apply the Golden Rule. He tells us, “The Golden Rule asks you to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This means that the perception of both [you and others] 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.” (6:2-7)

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Chapter 1: The Meaning of Miracles

Section II. Revelation, Time and Miracles

Read Chapter 1, Section II. (pages 7-8).

What is our natural state of being?

We were created by Love as Love and continuous with Love. Love is always wholly united, with no distinction or division. Because Love is one, all Love is equal and the same. Love is eternally sharing Itself or extending Itself. Because Love is united and continuous, Love is always being extended to Itself. That is why in truth, giving and receiving are the same.  This ‘beingness’ in Love’s oneness is our natural state. We experience our natural state of being whenever we offer Love and peace to anyone equally.

What happens when we offer Love and peace to others?

When we offer Love’s gratitude, appreciation and oneness, we experience the Love we give. When we offer Love’s gentle peace, we experience the peace we extend. This experience of offering the truth that only Love is real is just a tiny taste of what it is like in our true and natural state of unity in Heaven.

As long as we believe we are separate individuals in separate bodies and limited to the experience of the body, the experience of the exquisite extension of Love that is Heaven is beyond our awareness. But this is only a temporary state. We can learn to let go of identification with the body and a separate identity. The function of our internal Teacher, the Holy Spirit, is to lead us back to our natural state — to Heaven, where we are in truth.

In section II of chapter 1, Jesus tells us, "Revelations are indirectly inspired by me because I am close to the Holy Spirit, and alert to the revelation-readiness of my brothers. I can thus bring down to them more than they can draw down to themselves. The Holy Spirit mediates higher to lower communication, keeping the direct channel from God to you open for revelation." (T-1.II.5:1-3) In this dream realm of time, the chief teaching aid the Holy Spirit uses is the miracle. It is the change in perception that comes with forgiveness.

What is the difference between miracles and forgiveness?

Forgiveness and miracles are intertwined and are always found together. "Forgiveness, salvation, Atonement, true perception, all are one. They are the one beginning with the end to lead to Oneness far beyond themselves." (C-4.3:6-7) Forgiveness, which is letting go of the past, or letting go of illusions of differences, opens our minds to a new perception of our brother that is free of guilt. When we forgive and see our brother has never changed and is forever innocent, we move a step closer to the awareness of our unity. Forgiveness unifies. Judgment divides.

What experience does forgiveness bring us?

In this false world of separate bodies, rarely is anyone capable of total, unequivocal forgiveness with no reservations. The willingness is not yet there.  The Holy Spirit has infinite patience and guides us gently and compassionately to forgive when the willingness is there. Each instant of forgiveness brings the experience of peace and unity that our hearts yearn to remember. It may be only experienced briefly, but the memory is retained and serves as a motivator to forgive more. It increases our willingness to be taught another way of seeing. We become open to the miracle of aligning our perceptions with truth as God created it.

Many who have gone through the Pathways of Light ministry training have expressed the experience of a sense of timelessness, sometimes described as the collapse of time. This is the feeling that occurs with accepting Holy Spirit’s change in perception that occurs when we bring our attention to our reality as eternal Spirit instead of the temporal activities of the body that we call daily living in a world of time and space.

We can learn to open our minds to these shifts in perception, daily, moment by moment. It comes with developing the practice of opening our minds to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. It comes with a willingness to recognize that on our own, we do not know what anything means. The ACIM workbook lessons help us develop this habit. They train us to keep our minds in a state of miracle readiness.

What is the difference between miracles and revelation?

In this section Jesus describes the difference between revelation and miracles. Revelation is outside the realm of time and space, or form, and miracles lie within the realm of form.

About 30 years ago I had a profound experience of unspeakable peace. After a while it seemed that I was brought back to my worldly experience. It was a such profound experience, I will never forget it. It motivated me to want to learn how to return to this profound feeling again. Returning to this experience became my deepest prayer. This intense desire led me on a 30 year journey that continues today. I know now that this lifelong journey is a journey of taking my perceptions, or the way I am seeing the world, to the Holy Spirit to be purified of all my false ideas.

During these past 30 years there have been many times that I felt confused and afraid. I yearned to experience the indescribable awareness of God’s peace and Love again. Over the years I have had many ups and downs. But gradually I was led, step by step, to strengthen the habit of bringing each perceived problem to the Holy Spirit for clarity and healing. I learned that my thoughts were the cause of my problems. I learned to quiet my mind and be open. I learned to step back and listen to the Source of Love within me That had the only meaningful answer.

Each time I practice this, it strengthens a new way of thinking about myself and those around me. I still experience moments of confusion, fear and guilt, but now I have an awareness of an inner Guidance that shines a Light on each situation so I can look at it differently. I believe that this is what Jesus is talking about when he talks about accepting miracles into our lives.

I relate the experience I had 30 years ago of unspeakable peace to what he calls revelation in this section. That experience has been a motivation for me to accept the miracles, or changes in perception, that come from the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit provides the bridge between illusions and the truth, miracles lie within the realm of time and space. Daily they are gradually leading me toward changing the way I think about myself and my brothers. At the end of Chapter 1 it says, "Revelation may occasionally reveal the end to you, but to reach it the means are needed." (T-1.VII.5:11)

Miracles shorten the need for time. Instead of learning through trial and error, which is the ego’s way, I am moving toward learning from the Holy Spirit, Who leads me out of belief in separation and guilt, time and space. The Holy Spirit leads me toward remembering equality, remembering oneness, remembering everyone’s innate innocence. As I am willing to receive a change of mind, the Holy Spirit leads me out of conflict and toward inner peace. "The miracle substitutes for learning that might have taken thousands of years. It does so by the underlying recognition of perfect equality of giver and receiver on which the miracle rests. The miracle shortens time by collapsing it, thus eliminating certain intervals within it." (T-1.II.6:7-9)

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Chapter 1: The Meaning of Miracles

Section I: Principles of Miracles

Read Chapter 1, Section I (pages 3-6).

How does the Course define a miracle?

In essence a miracle, as defined by A Course in Miracles, is a correction in our perception. A miracle is a gift of transformed perception from the Holy Spirit. When we are willing, the Holy Spirit brings us a change in the way we are thinking. The Holy Spirit helps us see beyond our false perceptions of separation to our eternal oneness with perfect Love, which is always our only Reality. The Holy Spirit helps us see beyond the guilt we see in others and ourselves to everyone’s innate innocence. As we are willing to still the ego mind and receive miracles — corrections in our perceptions — from the Holy Spirit, we are returned to the awareness of our eternal Reality.

The Holy Spirit knows that every perception held within the ego thought system of separation is equally untrue. That is why the first sentence in this section says, “There is no order of difficulty in miracles.” (1:1) The goal of the Course is to help us recognize the falsity of our perceptions of individuality, differences and change. The Course teaches us that there is no past. There is no future. There is only the eternal present in the one Mind of God. God is eternal and therefore does not change. Because we are God’s extension, we cannot change into something that God did not create.

We do not accept Holy Spirit’s transformed perception (or miracles) when we are still unwilling to acknowledge the falsity of what we perceive. We may still want our world of separate bodies to appear to be real. We may not want to accept that everything we perceive with the body’s senses is false. We may resist remembering that the body is simply a false idea made up by the ego thought system to make separation appear to be real.

A key objective of A Course in Miracles is to help us increase our willingness to let go of our false ideas that the separation really happened. With this increased willingness, miracles (or changes in the way we see the world) come naturally. That is why the book is called “A Course in Miracles” or a course in the correction of our false ideas of being separate and alone. As we allow our mind to be changed by the Holy Spirit, the way we perceive the world changes. The Course tells us many times that we are choosing either the thought system of the ego or the Holy Spirit and which we identify with determines our experience.

The following is an excerpt from Pathways of Light course 901: Introduction to Miracles Practice.

What are key themes found in miracles principles?
  1. Miracles are expressions of truth, or extensions of Love. (See principles 1, 3, 9, 11, 35 and 36.)
  3. Miracles free us from fear and restore us to the awareness of Reality. (See principles 4, 14, 26, 28, 36 and 42.)
  5. Miracles correct our perceptions and bring us what we need to heal our mind and restore sanity. (See principles 4, 7, 8, 17, 23, 29, 33, 34, 36, 37, 42 and 49)
  7. Miracles naturally belong to us because of What we are. (See principles 5, 6, 7, 24, 31, 33 and 35.)
  9. Miracles reverse physical laws and alter the need for time. (See principles 9, 13, 15, 19, 24, 25, 32, 45, 47 and 48.)
  11. Miracles make our perceptions holy and show us that, because we are joined, the giver and the receiver are the same. (See principles 9, 16, 18, 32, 40, 41 and 45.)
  13. Miracles are thoughts that are teaching devices which help reestablish our communication or communion with God. (See principles 11, 12, 16, 19 and 46.)
  15. Miracles undo false thinking, or illusions, by transcending the body and bringing us spiritual sight. (See principles 12, 13, 14, 17, 20, 22, 29, 30, 33, 34, 37, 41 and 43.)
  17. Through miracles, we learn to extend forgiveness. As we forgive, or see past our illusions of separation, we become aware of the truth of oneness. (See principles 21, 25, and 27.)
  19. Miracles come from the Holy Spirit, Who shows us the difference between truth and illusions, bringing us Christ’s vision. (See principles 38, 39, 44, 46 and 50.)
How do we apply miracles principles in our lives?

In miracles principle #4 we are told His voice (the Holy Spirit) will direct us very specifically and in #5 it says miracles should be involuntary. Here we are being taught that we need to learn to follow the direction of our inner Teacher if we are to experience miracles. When we identify with the ego, we don’t have the means to produce miracles because miracles are the undoing of the ego. Thus it is essential that we develop the habit of bringing all our thoughts of differences to the Holy Spirit and letting Him judge all things on our behalf.

Principle #7 says that “purification is necessary first.” This does not mean that we have to be totally free of all thoughts of separation. It does mean that we must be willing to relinquish our thoughts and turn them over to the Holy Spirit in order to open our minds to the miracle. We may be able to open our minds only briefly to the Holy Spirit’s interpretation, but in that moment, the miracle can occur. We may then revert to our habitual judgments, but the miracle is retained in our memory and we do not return completely to the old identification with the ego’s thought system of separation. Each time we allow a miracle, we loosen the chains of the ego with which we have bound ourselves.

The practice of accepting miracles is letting the Holy Spirit purify our thoughts. The following message from Pathways of Light course 901: Introduction to Miracles Practice expands on this important lesson in receiving a correction in what our physical senses report to us:

The Holy Spirit, which is the Voice for God, brings us a whole new way of seeing. Miracles practice is allowing ourselves to see through the Holy Spirit’s eyes. Seeing through the Holy Spirit’s eyes comes with willingness, intention and focus. The Holy Spirit sees the truth. The Holy Spirit sees perfection. The Holy Spirit sees past the form of individuality to the one Light that is present eternally.

As we learn to place our faith in the Holy Spirit and accept the miracles He gives, we see only Love. We feel only Love. We find only Love. This consistency with seeing that only Love is real comes with practice.

Allowing our false perceptions to be turned upside down takes a willingness to not decide what anything means on our own. If we think we know what anything means based on our experiences from the past, we will not be open to the practice of seeing through the Holy Spirit’s eyes. It is only through the Holy Spirit’s eyes that we can know the truth.

This is practice that takes a determination to commit to seeing only the Truth. It takes a decision to be consistent in handing over our perceptions to the Holy Spirit so they can be purified of believing in separation. With consistent practice, receiving miracles, or true perception, becomes an automatic habit. We free ourselves from the tangled web of the ego’s lies.

Separation was never real. Separation is hell. Only with the Holy Spirit — the Spirit of Wholeness — can we see clearly. Only our willingness to see through the Holy Spirit’s eyes can bring us the deep peace found in God’s Love. All is one. Nothing else is real. The practice of allowing the miracle of correction to occur in our mind helps us know that this is true.

For more information about course 901: Introduction to Miracles Practice, click here.

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Preface & Introduction

Text Introduction

Read Text “Introduction” (page 1).

What does, “It is a required course” mean?

The first few sentences of paragraph one can come across as saying that this book is the only way to God. It’s helpful to understand what is meant by “required course.” What is required is that we learn to forgive, or let go of illusions. It says in Workbook Lesson 256, paragraph one that forgiveness is the only way to God. It is important not to confuse the form with the content. A Course in Miracles is one form that teaches the required course of forgiveness. ACIM is not the only way to learn the required lessons of forgiving illusions.

What does Jesus mean by, “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.”

On page 283 of the Text it says that the curriculum is the release from guilt. (T-14.V.6:4) Release from guilt comes from forgiveness. Forgiveness comes from letting go of separation. As we let go of separation, we awaken to the certainty that we never left Heaven. We awaken to the fact that we are still Love, as God created us. That is why “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” When we realize that Love cannot be threatened, we are in peace. This recognition comes with our willingness to let go of what is not true. The curriculum of A Course in Miracles teaches us how to do this. With this comes the release from guilt.

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What It Says, Part 2

What is the difference between the thoughts of “little I” and the Thoughts of the Self that God created?

In paragraph 8 (top of page xii) Jesus describes very clearly the difference between the “little I” thoughts and the Thoughts of the one Self that is everyone’s true reality. This comparison is very useful to help us clearly see the differences between these two distinct thoughts systems so that when we recognize that we are joining with the “little I” thoughts, we will be willing to hand over these needy ideas to the Holy Spirit to be undone.

We have to recognize the ego thought system for what it is before we will be willing to let it go. We need to recognize when we are looking for external approval, external possessions and external love. If we don’t recognize these “little I” thoughts, we will continue to look for happiness in all the wrong places. We will continue trying to “get” from a world outside us rather than remember we share one Identity. We will continue to project guilt rather than extend the Love that we all are. We will feel vulnerable, weak and alone and think we are in an unsafe world that we believe is outside us. Much of the Course is written to help us learn to recognize the difference between the “little I” and the Self. The picture of the Self it paints is very different from what most of us believe ourselves to be. Our job is to open our minds to accept this Self as what we are. In truth we are “complete, safe, loved and loving.” Our lives would be truly peaceful and joyous if we would let go of our replacement and accepted this one Self as What we are.

What does the Course mean by the ‘special relationships’ of the world?

Paragraph 9 brings in the idea of special relationships. The understanding of special relationships is so important that much of 10 chapters is dedicated to helping us understand special relationships and how they affect our lives. Jesus shows us how to turn a relationship that has been used to emphasize separation and bring pain into a relationship that brings forgiveness and healing. The relationship then becomes the instrument of the Holy Spirit to help us awaken from the dream. Since forgiveness is the lesson we must all learn to become free of the limitations of separation, it makes sense that the Holy Spirit would use every relationship as a teaching aid for forgiveness and healing. The only requirement is that we invite the Holy Spirit into every relationship for Him to guide instead of the ego. This is how our relationships can become, “the holiest things on earth.”

What is the difference between perception and Christ’s vision?

Paragraphs 10-12 highlight the difference between perception through the body’s eyes and ears, and Christ’s vision and hearing the Voice for God. A key point here is that the body responds only to the direction given it by the mind. It is in our mind that the choice is made whether the body is used to reinforce the idea of separation or used as a communication device for forgiveness, healing and union. There are only two thoughts systems we have to choose between and we are choosing between them at all times.

Because we have identified so much with being a separated ego self, the Holy Spirit seems difficult to hear. A Course in Miracles is here to teach us how to choose the Holy Spirit as our Guide instead of the ego. The Holy Spirit will teach us how to loosen our identification with the body and become more identified with our Self, the loving creation of God that we truly are. Our choice is now between the illusion of separation and Christ’s vision. With Christ’s vision, the errors of perception are corrected and we see injustices as calls for help that are answered with gentleness and love. We see our brothers differently. We see them as partners in our journey back to God rather than adversaries. We do not go home alone because our brothers are one with us.

What is the role forgiveness plays in healing our mind?

In paragraphs 13-14 we learn that we make ourselves ready to return to God through forgiveness. We can either see our brothers as the ego sees them or we can join with Christ’s vision and see their innocence. Through forgiveness we acknowledge Christ in all our brothers. That is the way we undo our misperceptions and let go of the ego thought system. Instead of holding on to guilt by seeing it in our brother, we become willing to forgive, or see past the error to the true Self in everyone. There we see that we are united as one Self. We see that giving and receiving are the same. This is how we return to our natural state.

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What It Says, Part 1

Read “What It Says” paragraph’s 1-7. (pages x-xi)

Why is the opening statement of the Course so important?

The opening statement of A Course in Miracles, “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” can become a key idea we return to again and again to help us return to the Truth — especially as we realize that we are not in a peaceful state of mind.

It is particularly helpful to remember applying it when we read in the news about such fearful things as terrorist attacks. If there is anything that seems frightening to us, we can remember this opening statement and it can remind us again that we need not make illusions of attack and death real in our mind. We can return to the Truth. It is our choice. We need not make the sharp edged children’s toys of belief in separation real in our mind. We can ask the Holy Spirit for a different way to see what seems to be in front of us. The Holy Spirit reminds us that there is only Love or a call for Love. And no matter which it is, the appropriate response is Love.

Where does fear come from and how to we heal our fears?

If we experience fear, it is always coming from the ego mind. When we experience fear, it is the signal that we have joined with the ego thought system — which is to make separation real — and fear is the effect.

The way out of this is to take every fearful thought (which includes blame and anger, scarcity and lack, sickness and death) as it comes up to the Source of Love in our mind to be healed. Once we learn and understand the difference between the real and the unreal, we no longer feel a need to continue energizing these fearful thoughts. We can remember at any time that only Love is real, no matter what images appear to show up in our dream. We can consciously choose to return to the peace of God. We need not be frightened by dreams of attack and defend. With the Holy Spirit, we can learn to see them for what they are and gently let them go. Learning this and reinforcing this is why we need the mind training reinforcement that comes with studying this Course.

How do we determine whether what we are seeing is real or a dream?

Paragraphs 2-3 introduce some key ideas for recognizing the difference between what is real and what is unreal. It tells us that only God created what is real. His creation is under the law of Love because He is Love. What He creates is Truth, which is changeless, beyond time and has no opposite.

The world of perception is unreal, always changing, based on interpretation, not on facts. A fact must be based on reality and reality must be all inclusive because it was created by God. Since everything we perceive is based on selective perception that is not all inclusive, our interpretations are not based on fact and must be inaccurate. They are based on illusions that exclude what we do not want to be real. Thus we make real in our minds an illusory world that fits what we want to believe is real and denies what we do not want to be real. There are no facts in this world of perception. Its keynote is instability and change. The keynote of the world of Reality is certainty and changelessness.

We can use these attributes as a yard stick to determine whether whatever what we are perceiving is real or not. It tells us that everything we see when we look out through the body’s eyes cannot be real because there is not one thing my body’s eyes see that does not change. This is certainly a radically different view than what we have been taught about this world. It is why the Course says it is leading us to a complete thought reversal. This is so radically different that it is not something we can embrace all at once. The Course recognizes that changing our thinking is a process. It is why it gives us 365 lessons to facilitate that process and then tells us that is only the beginning. We will continue to be taught by our inner Teacher as we practice bringing all our ideas to Him for His interpretation.

What is the cause of the world we see?

In paragraph 4 Jesus is very clear how we learn to perceive a world of “opposites and separate wills, in perpetual conflict with each and with God.” He tells us we learn to perceive through what we choose to believe. What we want to see is what we will lend our belief to.

The thought system we choose to join with is the cause of the world we see. The thought system is based on separation from others and God is unreal, but we will see it as if it were real until we are willing to forgive, or let it go. In applying this to our own life, this tells us that what we are seeing with the body’s eyes is what we are wanting to see and nothing more. Wanting to see guilt outside us does not make it real. Seeing that we are separate from others and God does not make it real.

How do we let go of this false thought system?

In paragraph 5 it becomes clear that we cannot let go of this false thought system on our own. It is the very belief that we think we are on our own that is at the core of the problem. We need help from outside the box we have put ourselves into. We need help from the real part of our mind that does not believe in dreams of separation. This help comes from the Holy Spirit, Who is always there in our mind, waiting to reverse our thinking. The Holy Spirit has one goal, and that is to help us recognize that what we are seeing is just a dream of separation and that it could never be real in truth. As we make the decision to take all our perceptions to the Holy Spirit, He will help us to let go of all our false ideas so that we can be brought to the truth.

The mediation role of the Holy Spirit is described more in the Workbook, Part II, 7. What is the Holy Spirit on page 437. It is expanded on more in 6. The Holy Spirit on page 89 of the Clarification of Terms, found at the end of the Manual for Teachers.

What does “projection makes perception” mean and how does forgiveness help?

Paragraph 6 introduces the idea that projection makes perception. This idea is central to understanding how forgiveness frees us from the world of perception. Because our perception is a projection that coming from our own mind, we have complete control over what we perceive. We change what we perceive by changing our minds (forgiveness). The process of projection is concisely described in three sentences in Workbook Lesson 325.1:1-3. It goes on to describe what happens to our perception when we change our minds from the insane wishes of the ego to forgiveness, which sees a gentle world of mercy and kindness.

In paragraph 6 we also get a very clear description of how A Course in Miracles defines forgiveness. The following two sentences provide an important foundation for what the Course is all about and how we can free ourselves from the chains of false perception: “As we learn to recognize our perceptual errors, we also learn to look past them or ‘forgive.’ At the same time we are forgiving ourselves, looking past our distorted self-concept to the Self That God created in us and as us.” It is with the help of our inner Teacher, the Holy Spirit, that we learn to recognize our perceptual errors. ACIM is one teaching aid the Holy Spirit has made for us to use in this learning process.

In other places in the Course, Jesus describes forgiveness as seeing that what we made is not real, overlooking what never happened, and being willing to see past separation to oneness. An especially helpful definition of forgiveness is found in the Workbook, Lesson 122. In paragraph 3 it states, “Forgiveness lets the veil be lifted up that hides the face of Christ from those who look with unforgiving eyes upon the world. It lets you recognize the Son of God, and clears your memory of all dead thoughts so that remembrance of your Father can arise across the threshold of your mind.” It is also helpful to refer to, “What is forgiveness?” on page 401 of the Workbook (W-pII.1.)

How does the A Course in Miracles definition of ‘sin’ differ from traditional Christianity?

In paragraph 7 Jesus gives us an important new definition of “sin” that is totally different from what we learned as we were growing up. In most Christian religions, we were taught that we were born in sin (original sin) and that we are all sinners. We were also taught that Jesus saved us from the eternal fires of damnation by dying on the cross for our sins. In this crazy thought system, we made up a God that requires the sacrifice of His Son to atone for our sins. When we really look at it with clarity, it would be quite a wild and crazy God that would have such a requirement to be appeased.

It is such a blessing to learn that sin means simply, “lack of love” and is just a mistaken idea to be corrected. Jesus helps us understand that what we thought we did in our desire to be separated from Love, our Source, never happened in truth. He helps us understand that we are just dreaming of being in a world of separation. In truth, we are still Love, as Love created us. We may believe in sin or “lack of Love,” but we can never make it the truth.

Jesus also helps us understand why we so often feel weak, inadequate and unworthy. He helps us understand why we experience scarcity and lack in our ‘lives.’ He wants us to see that our experience of lack stems from the belief that we separated from Love, our Source. He helps us see that the world we are experiencing through our body’s senses is just the effect of our belief in being separate from Love. We could never separate from Love and therefore we could never sin. The ‘life’ we think we are living is just a myth. It never happened in truth, since nothing but our oneness in Love could ever be real. The idea of punishment only comes from the ego thought system. As we learn to forgive, or let go of the ego thought system, we awaken to the fact that the dream of separation never happened.

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Preface & Introduction

What It Is

Read Preface “What It Is,” paragraphs 1-2. (pages viii and ix)

Does it matter where we start with the Course?

The statement in paragraph one that the order in which we use the three books depends on our particular preferences is very helpful. The core content is the same in all three parts (Text, Workbook for Students and Manual for Teachers) but the formats are different for each one. Different people may find one form easier to assimilate than another. The Course makes it clear, however, that eventually we must study all three parts, for they each play an important role in helping us achieve the full thought reversal that the Course is offering.

Do we need to practice what the Course says to reap the benefits?

In paragraph two it emphasizes practicing what we are learning rather than debating about theological implications. This keeps it very simple. We are to practice it; do what it says; and we will see for ourselves that it works for us. The Holy Spirit is in everyone’s mind, waiting for a chance to help us turn our minds around.

The essence of the first two paragraphs tells us that A Course in Miracles is:

  • A curriculum of study and practice that leads to God.
  • The order in which we study the Text, Workbook and Manual for Teachers is up to our particular needs and preferences.
  • With this curriculum that leads to God, the emphasis is on application and experience rather than theory or theology.
  • This curriculum of study and practice is but one of many forms and its essence deals with “universal spiritual themes.” This means it focuses on the universal truth that we are all one in Spirit.

Read “What It Is,” paragraph 3. (page ix)

How does the Text help us and why the need to practice the Workbook’s lessons?

The Text gives us the foundation of the thought system of A Course in Miracles, which is the opposite of the way the world thinks. The ideas found in the Text contain the theoretical foundation for applying the Workbook’s lessons, making them easier to understand. Without applying the lessons, we will not achieve the goal of the Course, which is a complete reversal of what we think is true.

Read “What It Is,” paragraphs 4-6. (page ix)

When doing the Workbook lessons, what pace is best for us?

We are told that while the fact that there are 365 lessons implies that we do one a day, we may find it helpful to spend more time on a particular lesson that appeals to us. But we are warned against trying to go at a faster pace than one lesson a day. This implies that the lessons are carefully constructed and need to be given time to to have their mind healing effect.

When we go through the lessons from beginning to end in sequence, we can began to feel the full impact of the Course’s thought system in our life. Ideas in the Course that are confusing at first begin making sense. We begin to see how these ideas help us release thoughts of fear and guilt as they came up in our mind, which enables us to experience more peace in our life. What was just a collection of good ideas becomes woven together into the fabric of our thought system, which gives us a whole new perspective on life. The consistent daily practice of the lessons take our understanding and application of Course principles to a whole new level.

Jesus communicates that we are simply to practice applying the ideas. We are not asked to judge them or even accept them in the beginning. These ideas are the opposite of the way we think now. Of course we will experience resistance to ideas that contradict what we have always thought was true. Advertisers know that we need at least seven repetitions of a concept before we will consider accepting it. Jesus knows us very well. He knows that we will resist his ideas and reject them the first few times we hear them. He also knows that as we practice these new ideas, they will gradually be assimilated into our thinking and we will begin to experience their benefit. What we resisted before will in time seem very natural to us.

Read “What It Is,” paragraph 7. (page ix)

How is the Manual for Teachers helpful to new students of the Course?

Many students find the Manual for Teachers the easiest to understand at the beginning. Many have said that once they read the Manual for Teachers with the Clarification of Terms, the Text was easier to understand. It answers some of the questions that typically come up for new students of the Course. Its question and answer format seems to make it easier to digest and assimilate the seemingly complex thought system presented in the Text. The Manual for Teachers helps us understand the idea of non duality, which is the opposite of how we are used to thinking now.

Read “What It Is,” paragraph’s 8-9. (page ix-x)

Why are we consistently guided to follow the guidance of our inner Teacher?

Here again we are reminded that the purpose of A Course in Miracles is to get us in touch with our own internal Teacher. This thread of being open to the instruction of our internal Teacher is woven throughout the Course. As we learn to connect with and follow the guidance of this inner Teacher, we are led the rest of the way Home.

It is often said that this is a self study Course. This is because its intent is that we learn to follow our inner Teacher, not an external authority. The Holy Spirit, Who resides in our mind, knows our beliefs and experiences and works with us exactly where we are to lead us out of our mistaken ideas back to awareness of our Self as God created us.

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Reference Keys for
A Course in Miracles Quotes

How to Read References for Quotes from A Course in Miracles

Below are example references to specific sentences using the notation of the Second & Third Editions of A Course in Miracles published by the Foundation for Inner Peace:

T-26.IV.4:7 = Text, Chapt. 26, Section IV, paragraph 4, sentence 7.

W-pI.169.5:2 = Workbook, Part I, Lesson 169, paragraph 5, sentence 2.

M-13.3:2 = Manual for Teachers, Question 13, paragraph 3, sentence 2.

C-6.4:6 = Clarification of Terms, Term 6, paragraph 4, sentence 6

The above numbering system of the Second & Third Editions is © Copyright 1992, The Foundation for A Course in Miracles.

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