There Are No Accidents

A Study on the Source of the Events of Our Lives According to A Course in Miracles
by Robert Perry

Where do the events of our lives come from? Based on the study which follows, the Course sees outer happenings as having three sources:

  1. We chose them.
  2. They are a reliving of the ancient instant that contained all events.
  3. The Holy Spirit planned them.

As you will see, all three of these are affirmed without equivocation. All three are seen as the explanation behind all happenings.

The question that this brings up, quite naturally, is how they go together. They are, after all, different explanations of the same thing. There are so different (especially 1 and 3) that they seem to be in conflict.

I won't speculate here how they go together, as that would be a very lengthy piece. The main thing I will say here is that I think we should honor each one, rather than using one to try to erase or minimize another. Each one has something to teach us, a contribution to make to us. So I would recommend that we try to accept that contribution first, and only after that worry about how the three contributions fit together.

First and foremost, I think, we should try to take in the central point of all three: There are no accidents. We constantly assume, either on an intellectual level or merely on an emotional level, that events that come our way are accidental, and as a result, do not really fit us, are not really appropriate for us. All three of the above explanations, however, unite in emphatically and repeatedly affirming that literally nothing happens that is accidental. In the following quotes, the first two are from the first explanation, the third is from the second explanation, and the rest are from the third explanation:

No accident nor chance is possible within the universe as God created it. (T-21.II.3:4)

Sickness is not an accident. (W-pI.136.2:1)

It appears to be quite arbitrary. Yet there is no step along the road that anyone takes but by chance. (W-pI.158.3:2-3)

There are no accidents in salvation. (M-3.1:6)

…a "chance" meeting of two apparent strangers in an elevator, a child who is not looking where he is going running into an adult "by chance," two students "happening" to walk home together. These are not chance encounters. (M-3.2:2-3)

As with the first level, these meetings are not accidental. (M-3.4:4)

Remember that no one is where he is by accident, and chance plays no part in God's plan. (M-9.1:3)

No one is sent by accident to anyone. Relationships are always purposeful. (P-3.III.6:2-3)

While reading the following, then, let us try to take in the idea that it is literally impossible for anything accidental to happen, and that therefore everything that happens is always perfectly appropriate for us at the time it happens, either because we chose it, or because it is a reliving of what happened at the beginning of time, or because it is the Holy Spirit's plan for us, or ideally, because of all three at once.

OVERALL THEMES

1. There are no accidents: What happens is what I have chosen

I choose everything that happens to me, because of my power as a Son of God. This includes emotional states, bodily conditions, and external events and circumstances. Accepting this allows me to reclaim my power—realize it's in me, not in outer circumstances—and use it on behalf of my awakening.

2.There are no accidents: What happens is a reliving of what happened in the ancient instant

What happens seems arbitrary, a product of chance. Yet all that happens is a reliving of the specific happenings that occurred in the ancient instant, when the entire journey through time and space was dreamt all at once. This means that the positive things I chose, learned, and experienced in that ancient instant will inevitably be mine again, and indeed are mine now.

3. There are no accidents: What happens is a result of the Holy Spirit's plan

Anything that happens, without exception, has been planned by the Holy Spirit, based on one guiding principle: It is conducive to my learning (and the learning of those who are with me). This is why I can trust the world and all that happens in it. I therefore shouldn't change my circumstances in the assumption that I'm in the wrong place. I am always in the right place at the right time—the place in which I can best learn how to claim God's gifts.

Even when circumstances are trying, those trials are lessons I failed to learn before, presented to me again so that I can undo the chains of my past failure. The plan may sometimes take external things away, but that is only to put me in a position where I must let go of the false value I put on them. In other words, painful events are there to put pressure on me to undo the thoughts in me that are the real cause of the pain.

The plan also arranges all encounters. Everyone I meet has been sent to me because the two of us have the potential to learn together. The reasons for which people are sent to me can be very specific. Therefore, I shouldn't turn anyone away in the belief that he or she has come to the wrong place. Relationships are always the potential temples of the Holy Spirit.

THEMES

There are no accidents: What happens is what I have chosen

  • Your mind establishes everything that happens to you. None of it is caused by factors outside yourself. Time, therefore, is solely at your disposal and must be used to regain eternity.
  • I ask for/choose everything that happens to me. My power of decision as a Son of God determines every situation in which I find myself.
  • No matter what anyone does to you, you are really doing it to yourself, because you are the dreamer of your dream. This is the secret of salvation.
  • Sickness is not accidental. It is intentionally chosen as a defense against truth.
  • Everything that happens to me (including death) comes from my decision, choice, wish, consent. The power of decision is my own.
  • Everything that happens to me is what I desire. Accepting this leads me to my omnipotent will in Heaven.

There are no accidents: What happens is a reliving of what happened in the ancient instant

  • No step along the road is arbitrary or by chance, for all have already been taken. I am merely reviewing mentally what has gone by.
  • What happens now-including my choices, my learning, my insights-seems to be new, but it's really the reliving of what happened in the ancient instant when time began. Thus, things I am trying to learn now-like the Course-I have already learned, and I can accept that learning any time I choose.
  • In the ancient instant, the pupil chose to meet his teacher and did meet him, and so in the present he relives that ancient event-he comes to the right place and time to meet his teacher

There are no accidents: What happens is a result of the Holy Spirit's plan

  • A trying situation is a lesson that's being presented again, because you failed to learn it before. This way, you can undo your past mistake and escape the pain it brought you.
  • Where you are is not random. You're always at the perfect place and time to receive God's gifts to you. This, in fact, is one of His gifts.
  • All events-past, present, and future-are planned by the Holy Spirit for your good. His plan does not offer you pain. Your defenses blinded you to the loving blessing He placed in every step you took. Thus, present trust in Him can be your guiding principle.
  • There is a plan for today, and everything we need to accomplish that plan is given us.
  • When we genuinely wish for peace, the lesson is given us, planned in such a way that we can't mistake it.
  • Everything that happens that seems to cause me pain is really a different form of the lesson to forgive. Unforgiveness is the real cause of the pain and forgiveness is what will relieve the pain.
  • The plan for salvation includes specific contacts for those who are ready for each other
  • "Chance" encounters are not chance at all. Each has been arranged due to the potential for teaching and learning that lies between those two people
  • The beginning of a relationship is not accidental, and the end is not a real end. "All who meet will some day meet again."
  • The fact that the Holy Spirit governs the happenings of the world is the basis for our ability to trust the world.
  • The plan will sometimes take external things away from us, to put us in a position where we must recognize their lack of value. These changes are always helpful.
  • All changes in our lives, and indeed all events and circumstances, are always helpful. After a change, we should make subsequent decisions on the basis of trying to increase the helpfulness contained in that change.
  • The time when everything comes is right. There are no mistaken events. Everything that happens benefits the world and the one it happens to. But this should not be an excuse to not reconsider past decisions that are causing others pain.
  • You are where you are not by accident or chance, but by God's plan. Don't change your circumstances under the assumption that you are in the wrong place.
  • For each day there are lessons planned, a role for you to play, and people sent to you who share that role and are meant to learn the lessons with you.
  • Whoever comes to you has been sent. Relationships, therefore, are purposeful, the potential temple of the Holy Spirit, not accidental. Don't turn away people who want your help just because they can't pay you.

PASSAGES

Your mind establishes everything that happens to
you. None of it is caused by factors outside yourself. Time,
therefore, is solely at your disposal and must be used to regain
eternity.

Time and eternity are both in your mind,
and will conflict until you perceive time solely as a means to
regain eternity. You cannot do this as long as you believe that
anything happening to you is caused by factors outside yourself. You
must learn that time is solely at your disposal, and that nothing in
the world can take this responsibility from you. You can violate
God's laws in your imagination, but you cannot escape from
them….

… Your holy mind establishes everything that happens to you. (T-10.In.1:2-5, 2:6)

I ask for/choose everything that happens to me. My power of decision as a Son of God determines every situation in which I find myself.

This is the only thing that you need do for vision, happiness, release from pain and the complete escape from sin, all to be given you. Say only this, but mean it with no reservations, for here the power of salvation lies:

I am responsible for what I see.
I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide upon the goal I would achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked.

Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you. Acknowledge but that you have been mistaken, and all effects of your mistakes will disappear.

It is impossible the Son of God be merely driven by events outside of him. It is impossible that happenings that come to him were not his choice. His power of decision is the determiner of every situation in which he seems to find himself by chance or accident. No accident nor chance is possible within the universe as God created it, outside of which is nothing. (T-21.II.2-3)

No matter what anyone does to you, you are really doing it to yourself, because you are the dreamer of your dream. This is the secret of salvation.

The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. No matter what the form of the attack, this still is true. Whoever takes the role of enemy and of attacker, still is this the truth. Whatever seems to be the cause of any pain and suffering you feel, this is still true. For you would not react at all to figures in a dream you knew that you were dreaming. Let them be as hateful and as vicious as they may, they could have no effect on you unless you failed to recognize it is your dream. (T-27.VIII.10)

Sickness is not accidental. It is intentionally chosen as a defense against truth.

Sickness is not an accident. Like all defenses, it is an insane device for self-deception. And like all the rest, its purpose is to hide reality, attack it, change it, render it inept, distort it, twist it, or reduce it to a little pile of unassembled parts. The aim of all defenses is to keep the truth from being whole. The parts are seen as if each one were whole within itself. (W-pI.136.2)

Everything that happens to me (including death) comes from my decision, choice, wish, consent. The power of decision is my own.

No one can suffer loss unless it be his own decision. No one suffers pain except his choice elects this state for him. No one can grieve nor fear nor think him sick unless these are the outcomes that he wants. And no one dies without his own consent. Nothing occurs but represents your wish, and nothing is omitted that you choose. Here is your world, complete in all details. Here is its whole reality for you. And it is only here salvation is. (W-pI.152.1)

Everything that happens to me is what I desire. Accepting this leads me to my omnipotent will in Heaven.

It is impossible that anything should come to me unbidden by myself. Even in this world, it is I who rule my destiny. What happens is what I desire. What does not occur is what I do not want to happen. This must I accept. For thus am I led past this world to my creations, children of my will, in Heaven where my holy Self abides with them and Him Who has created me. (W-pII.253.1)

No step along the road is arbitrary or by chance, for all have already been taken. I am merely reviewing mentally what has gone by.

The time is set already. It appears to be quite arbitrary. Yet there is no step along the road that anyone takes but by chance. It has already been taken by him, although he has not yet embarked on it. For time but seems to go in one direction. We but undertake a journey that is over. Yet it seems to have a future still unknown to us.

Time is a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast illusion in which figures come and go as if by magic. Yet there is a plan behind appearances that does not change. The script is written. When experience will come to end your doubting has been set. For we but see the journey from the point at which it ended, looking back on it, imagining we make it once again; reviewing mentally what has gone by. (W-pI.158.3-4)

What happens now—including my choices, my learning, my insights—seems to be new, but it's really the reliving of what happened in the ancient instant when time began. Thus, things I am trying to learn now—like the Course—I have already learned, and I can accept that learning any time I choose.

The world of time is the world of illusion. What happened long ago seems to be happening now. Choices made long since appear to be open; yet to be made. What has been learned and understood and long ago passed by is looked upon as a new thought, a fresh idea, a different approach. Because your will is free you can accept what has already happened at any time you choose, and only then will you realize that it was always there. As the course emphasizes, you are not free to choose the curriculum, or even the form in which you will learn it. You are free, however, to decide when you want to learn it. And as you accept it, it is already learned. (M-2.3)

In the ancient instant, the pupil chose to meet his teacher and did meet him, and so in the present he relives that ancient event—he comes to the right place and time to meet his teacher.

Time really, then, goes backward to an instant so ancient that it is beyond all memory, and past even the possibility of remembering. Yet because it is an instant that is relived again and again and still again, it seems to be now. And thus it is that pupil and teacher seem to come together in the present, finding each other as if they had not met before. The pupil comes at the right time to the right place. This is inevitable, because he made the right choice in that ancient instant which he now relives. So has the teacher, too, made an inevitable choice out of an ancient past. God's Will in everything but seems to take time in the working—out. What could delay the power of eternity? (M-2.4)

A trying situation is a lesson that's being presented again, because you failed to learn it before. This way, you can undo your past mistake and escape the pain it brought you.

Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, "My brother, choose again." (T-31.VIII.3:1-2)

Where you are is not random. You're always at the perfect place and time to receive God's gifts to you. This, in fact, is one of His gifts.

God is indeed your strength, and what He gives is truly given. This means that you can receive it any time and anywhere, wherever you are, and in whatever circumstance you find yourself. Your passage through time and space is not at random. You cannot but be in the right place at the right time. Such is the strength of God. Such are His gifts. (W-pI.42.2)

All events-past, present, and future-are planned by the Holy Spirit for your good. His plan does not offer you pain. Your defenses blinded you to the loving blessing He placed in every step you took. Thus, present trust in Him can be your guiding principle.

What could you not accept, if you but knew that everything that happens, all events, past, present and to come, are gently planned by One Whose only purpose is your good? Perhaps you have misunderstood His plan, for He would never offer pain to you. But your defenses did not let you see His loving blessing shine in every step you ever took. While you made plans for death, He led you gently to eternal life.

Your present trust in Him is the defense that promises a future undisturbed, without a trace of sorrow, and with joy that constantly increases, as this life becomes a holy instant, set in time, but heeding only immortality. (W-pI.135.18:1-19:1)

There is a plan for today, and everything we need to accomplish that plan is given us.

We will anticipate that time today with present confidence, for this is part of what was planned for us. We will be sure that everything we need is given us for our accomplishment of this today. We make no plans for how it will be done, but realize that our defenselessness is all that is required for the truth to dawn upon our minds with certainty. (W-pI.135.21)

When we genuinely wish for peace, the lesson is given us, planned in such a way that we can't mistake it.

And when the wish for peace is genuine, the means for finding it is given, in a form each mind that seeks for it in honesty can understand. Whatever form the lesson takes is planned for him in such a way that he can not mistake it, if his asking is sincere. But if he asks without sincerity, there is no form in which the lesson will meet with acceptance and be truly learned. (W-pI.185.6)

Everything that happens that seems to cause me pain is really a different form of the lesson to forgive. Unforgiveness is the real cause of the pain and forgiveness is what will relieve the pain.

Each lesson has a central thought, the same in all of them. The form alone is changed, with different circumstances and events; with different characters and different themes, apparent but not real. They are the same in fundamental content. It is this:

Forgive, and you will see this differently.

Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness. Yet that is the content underneath the form. It is this sameness which makes learning sure, because the lesson is so simple that it cannot be rejected in the end. (W-pI.193.3:3-4:3)

The plan for salvation includes specific contacts for those who are ready for each other.

However, from a practical point of view he cannot meet everyone, nor can everyone find him. Therefore, the plan includes very specific contacts to be made for each teacher of God. There are no accidents in salvation. Those who are to meet will meet, because together they have the potential for a holy relationship. They are ready for each other. (M-3.1)

"Chance" encounters are not chance at all. Each has been arranged due to the potential for teaching and learning that lies between those two people.

The simplest level of teaching appears to be quite superficial. It consists of what seem to be very casual encounters; a "chance" meeting of two apparent strangers in an elevator, a child who is not looking where he is going running into an adult "by chance," two students "happening" to walk home together. These are not chance encounters. Each of them has the potential for becoming a teaching-learning situation. Perhaps the seeming strangers in the elevator will smile to one another; perhaps the adult will not scold the child for bumping into him; perhaps the students will become friends. Even at the level of the most casual encounter, it is possible for two people to lose sight of separate interests, if only for a moment. That moment will be enough. Salvation has come. (M-3.2)

The beginning of a relationship is not accidental, and the end is not a real end. "All who meet will some day meet again."

Using the term in this way, the second level of teaching is a more sustained relationship, in which, for a time, two people enter into a fairly intense teaching-learning situation and then appear to separate. As with the first level, these meetings are not accidental, nor is what appears to be the end of the relationship a real end. Again, each has learned the most he can at the time. Yet all who meet will someday meet again, for it is the destiny of all relationships to become holy. God is not mistaken in His Son. (M-3.4)

The fact that the Holy Spirit governs the happenings of the world is the basis for our ability to trust the world.

The teachers of God have trust in the world, because they have learned it is not governed by the laws the world made up. It is governed by a power [originally "Power"] that is in them but not of them. (M-4.I.1:4-5)

The plan will sometimes take external things away us, to put us in a position where we must recognize their lack of value. These changes are always helpful.

It seems as if things are being taken away, and it is rarely understood initially that their lack of value is merely being recognized. How can lack of value be perceived unless the perceiver is in a position where he must see things in a different light? He is not yet at a point at which he can make the shift entirely internally. And so the plan will sometimes call for changes in what seem to be external circumstances. These changes are always helpful. When the teacher of God has learned that much, he goes on to the second stage. (M-4.I(A).3:3-3:8)

All changes in our lives, and indeed all events and circumstances, are always helpful. After a change, we should make subsequent decisions on the basis of trying to increase the helpfulness contained in that change.

Next, the teacher of God must go through "a period of sorting out." This is always somewhat difficult because, having learned that the changes in his life are always helpful, he must now decide all things on the basis of whether they increase the helpfulness or hamper it….It takes great learning to understand that all things, events, encounters and circumstances are helpful. (M-4.I(A).4:1-2, 4:5)

The time when everything comes is right. There are no mistaken events. Everything that happens benefits the world and the one it happens to. But this should not be an excuse to not reconsider past decisions that are causing others pain.

Patience is natural to the teacher of God. All he sees is certain outcome, at a time perhaps unknown to him as yet, but not in doubt. The time will be as right as is the answer. And this is true for everything that happens now or in the future. The past as well held no mistakes; nothing that did not serve to benefit the world, as well as him to whom it seemed to happen. Perhaps it was not understood at the time. Even so, the teacher of God is willing to reconsider all his past decisions, if they are causing pain to anyone. (M-4.VIII.1:2-8)

You are where you are not by accident or chance, but by God's plan. Don't change your circumstances under the assumption that you are in the wrong place.

Changes are required in the [minds] of God's teachers. This may or may not involve changes in the external situation. Remember that no one is where he is by accident, and chance plays no part in God's plan. It is most unlikely that changes in attitudes would not be the first step in the newly made teacher of God's training. There is, however, no set pattern, since training is always highly individualized. There are those who are called upon to change their life situation almost immediately, but these are generally special cases. By far the majority are given a slowly evolving training program, in which as many previous mistakes as possible are corrected. Relationships in particular must be properly perceived, and all dark cornerstones of unforgiveness removed. Otherwise the old thought system still has a basis for return. (M-9.1)

For each day there are lessons planned, a role for you to play, and people sent to you who share that role and are meant to learn the lessons with you.

To the advanced teacher of God this question ["How should the teacher of God spend his day?"] is meaningless. There is no program, for the lessons change each day. Yet the teacher of God is sure of but one thing; they do not change at random. Seeing this and understanding that it is true, he rests content. He will be told all that his role should be, this day and every day. And those who share that role with him will find him, so they can learn the lessons for the day together. Not one is absent whom he needs; not one is sent without a learning goal already set, and one which can be learned that very day. (M-16.1:1-7)

Whoever comes to you has been sent. Relationships, therefore, are purposeful, the potential temple of the Holy Spirit, not accidental. Don't turn away people who want your help just because they can't pay you.

One rule should always be observed: No one should be turned away because he cannot pay. No one is sent by accident to anyone. Relationships are always purposeful. Whatever their purpose may have been before the Holy Spirit entered them, they are always His potential temple; the resting place of Christ and home of God Himself. Whoever comes has been sent. Perhaps he was sent to give his brother the money he needed. Both will be blessed thereby. Perhaps he was sent to teach the therapist how much he needs forgiveness, and how valueless is money in comparison. Again will both be blessed. (P-3.III.6:1-9)

2 Comments

  1. Timothy
    Posted October 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for taking the time to compile this! There is so much in the Course that is intimately connected but it is spread out. It is great to have ideas gathered so we can understand or try to understand what the Course is saying.
    Thanks,
    Timothy

  2. John
    Posted October 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    And so it was no accident I "happened" to read this article and it was the PERFECT thing for me to hear. Like tumblers aligning to unlock my remembrance of how much I can trust the Holy Spirit and myself to learn exactly what I need, RIGHT NOW : )
    Thank you Robert for being faithful to your function.
    Best,
    John

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