About eight years before I started studying A Course in Miracles and truly recognized it as my path home a close friend and fellow spiritual seeker gave me the big blue book. Someone had passed it on to her and although she recognized on some level that it held great wisdom, she just couldn’t get through it. “Read this,” she said. “Maybe you’ll get it.”

Skipping the introduction and preface in my typical rush to ascend I opened it to the first page of the text and read: “There is no order of difficulty in miracles. One is not ‘harder’ or ‘bigger’ than another. They are all the same. All expressions of love are maximal.”

My heart raced. This gigantic tome was talking about miracles, defined by Webster’s as “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” As someone actively striving for years to seduce the divine into intervening in human affairs I was thrilled. How many times had I sensed a benign presence guiding my steps? Just as I had always suspected experiencing miracles, regardless of size, was a piece of cake once you got the hang of it. This book would teach me how to cultivate that boundless power; enable me to summon it on command. My fingers itched as if clutching a magic wand.

I continued to read the Principles of Miracles in Chapter 1 but my mind soon glazed over. Undeterred (after all, that first paragraph appeared to say it all) I decided to come back to it later and skipped ahead to the workbook. It offered 365 lessons, one for each day of the year. I could do this, I told myself, already crafting a “to do” list of manifestations and transformations I planned to accomplish on a micro and macro level. Harnessing the power of the universe to intercede on my behalf and on behalf of those I loved; creating a kind of heaven on earth right here and now on the streets of Denver, Colorado.

Oh, the folly of youth. About a third of the way through Part I of the workbook my enthusiasm waned. Try as I might; I couldn’t seem to discern the instructions for miracle making. Instead the lessons focused on enticing me to question all I believed about the external world and my relationships. Although they contained many promising statements such as “God goes with me wherever I go,” “My mind is a part of God’s. I am very holy,” and “I am the light of the world,” they also seemed preoccupied with the meaninglessness of my experience and overlooking the bad behavior of others; advice that smacked of denial, a habit I was trying to break. Then again the constant use of the “G” word rankled. I preferred names unlike the unstable divinity that had so terrified me in the Catholic Church, monikers such as “universe” or even, in a pinch, “love.”

Ultimately, the first time around, I just couldn’t seem to connect questioning the nature of my relationships and external experience as the workbook recommended with the happiness that had seemed so elusive in my daily life. With the deep sigh I had become famous for among those who knew me best, I placed the book back on the shelf in my office beside other metaphysical publications also destined to fail me, my burgeoning library of spiritual disillusionment.

Years of seeking passed. I mastered the principle of the law of attraction enough to manifest moments of happiness and success but always the long awaited arrival of what I thought I wanted delivered only the most fleeing pleasure. Literally within minutes of receiving a desired external result I found myself craving the next accomplishment or resolution. Hooked on solving the next problem in a relationship caused, of course, by someone else.

Manifesting soon lost its luster. I couldn’t seem to stay focused. I longed for something else I couldn’t name, a longing I began to admit I had always carried and seemed to have come in with. A longing that nothing external—not romance, success, money, adventure, parenting, or creating—had ever fully satisfied. The well of deep loneliness at my core I had covered up for so long suddenly revealed itself. A person could drown there. Terrified I called out again for help from the universe, love, whatever. That mysterious presence I had been missing so deeply as long as I could remember.

Through a series of coincidences the answer came this time in the form of that same big blue book collecting dust on my shelf for so long. Now I was ready to really listen, to admit I did not know; that nothing I had tried had worked. I found a Course study group. I started reading the text and doing the workbook again. I still craved miracles in form but eventually, admitting again and again that I did not know and asking for help, I became aware of the critical ego in my head raging 24/7 against everyone and thing seemingly responsible for disrupting my peace of mind.

That painful awareness motivated me to begin to accept the one problem the Course identifies as the cause of all human suffering: the belief that we have separated from God/the one eternal love and wholeness we forever are in truth. And to gradually accept the one solution, turning our mistaken perception over to our whole mind. The part of our one mind that followed us into the dream of uniqueness and competing interests but knows the separation never happened and simply smiles at our mistaken perception. The Course calls this process of withdrawing the repressed guilt we project onto others with help from the memory of wholeness in our one mind forgiveness. Over time, tempted again and again to perceive myself unfairly treated, I asked again and again for help; this time to truly understand forgiveness. To learn to apply it in all my relationships; to harness its extraordinary power in an ordinary life.

Today, six years later in a class I am teaching about forgiveness I find myself considering workbook lesson 89 in the review sections I also used to skip in my rush to ascend. “I am entitled to miracles,” I read, grateful for the understanding that I am entitled (with help from my inner teacher) to change my mind about all I believe is happening to me. Forgiving has given me a better grasp on the Course’s definition of a miracle which has nothing to do with milking gifts from the universe or coercing a dualistic God or his emissaries to intervene in our behalf.

Why did that symbol of the awakened mind represented in Jesus choose to call this A Course in Miracles? Maybe because no one would read it if he called it A Course in undoing the ego thought system by changing your mind. Or maybe because he knew the word “miracle” is like catnip to those of us who seek, a way to coax us in the door that we might stay long enough to let him teach us what we really want.

Defined in Dr. Kenneth Wapnick’s glossary as “the change of mind that shifts our perception from the ego’s world of sin, guilt, and fear, to the Holy Spirit’s world of forgiveness;” the miracle occurs when I catch myself following the ego’s plan for salvation. Holding someone or thing seemingly “out there” responsible for disrupting or enhancing my peace of mind to keep me from returning to our one mind and choosing again for truth.

The one problem and the one solution lie side by side. When I remember I am entitled to change my mind, and with our right mind’s help, actually do it, I receive a glimpse of the real world beyond the clouds of guilt and judgment obscuring true vision. In that moment of perfect union and completeness all longing ceases, ancient hatreds fall away, the heavy burden of this unique existence lifts, and a peace beyond all understanding–the peace of our one, true nature–returns to my mind. And in ways I still cannot comprehend but am beginning through daily experience to trust and welcome anyway, to all minds.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Dugan is a writer and an A Course in Miracles student and teacher living in Denver, Colorado. To find out more about her journey practicing extraordinary forgivness in an ordinary life, visit her blog at: http://www.sudugan.wordpress.com