What needs to be purified?

Question What exactly needs to be "purified" first before we can claim our right to miracles?

Miracle Principle #7: "Miracles are everyone's right, but purification is necessary first" (T-1.I.7:1).

Short answer: This is how I read Miracle Principle #7: "Miracles are everyone's right, but the purification of the miracle worker's thoughts is necessary before he can extend miracles to others."

I think in order to understand the fifty miracle principles that begin A Course in Miracles, it is necessary to keep in mind the Course's main definition of what a miracle is. A miracle is not just the healing of an individual's mind by the Holy Spirit, though the miracle process certainly begins with that. Rather, the main definition of a miracle in the Course is the extension of healing from the mind of a miracle worker to the mind of a miracle receiver. As Miracle Principle #8 says, "[Miracles] are performed by those who temporarily have more for those who temporarily have less" (T-1.I.8:1). This is the context in which I understand Miracle Principle #7.

What then, given this context, needs to be purified? The miracle worker's thoughts. "Purification" here does not refer to the purification of the body, as is done in certain yoga practices and alternative therapies. Nor does it refer to the purification of a corrupted soul, as in the traditional Christian doctrine of Jesus washing away our sins with his sacrificial death. In the Course's system, our body needs no purification because it is an illusion; our "soul" (our true Self) needs no purification because it is forever pure. Rather, the miracle worker's thoughts must undergo a process of purification by the Holy Spirit, as described in this passage:

[The Holy Spirit] sorts out the true from the false in your mind, and teaches you to judge every thought you allow to enter it in the light of what God put there. Whatever is in accord with this light He retains, to strengthen the Kingdom in you. What is partly in accord with it He accepts and purifies. But what is out of accord entirely He rejects by judging against (T-6.V(C).1:2-5).

Why must the miracle worker's thoughts be purified? So that he can extend miracles (healed perception, purified thoughts) to others. The following passage suggests this, particularly in the sentence I have italicized, and adds that the very decision to share with others is an essential aspect of the purification process:

You can share only the thoughts that are of God and that He keeps for you. And of such is the Kingdom of Heaven. The rest [thoughts that are not of God] remains with you until the Holy Spirit has reinterpreted them in the light of the Kingdom, making them, too, worthy of being shared. When they have been sufficiently purified He lets you give them away. The decision to share them is their purification (T-5.IV.3:8-12, italics in Sentence 11 mine).

So, the miracle worker's thoughts have to be purified before he can extend miracles to others. I think this idea is important, because it resolves a question that may come up when reading Miracle Principle #7: Do our thoughts have to be purified before we can receive a miracle? My answer, based in part on the following passage, is no:

I have already said that miracles are expressions of miracle-mindedness, and miracle-mindedness means right-mindedness….However, as a correction, the miracle need not await the right-mindedness of the receiver. In fact, its purpose is to restore him to his right mind. It is essential, however, that the miracle worker be in his right mind, however briefly, or he will be unable to re-establish right-mindedness in someone else (T-2.V.3:3-5).

This passage tells me two things. First, it says unequivocally that one's mind does not have to be pure (in a right-minded state) in order to receive a miracle. If this were true, then we'd need to have right-mindedness before receiving the very thing that we need to restore our right-mindedness. We'd be sunk. We can't purify ourselves to prepare for a miracle; purification is the miracle's job, God's job: "Would you first make a miracle yourself, and then expect one to be made for you?….Purification is of God alone, and therefore for you" (T-18.IV.4:10,5:7).

Second, it says that even the miracle worker doesn't have to have a totally purified mind in order to extend miracles; his mind only has to be pure, or right-minded, temporarily. This is very reassuring to me. I don't have to be totally perfected in order to extend miracles. In fact, as one of the passages quoted above suggests, the decision to become a miracle worker, the decision to share purified thoughts or healed perception, is itself an aspect of the ongoing purification process.

So, my take on Miracle Principle #7 is that miracles are indeed everyone's right. They are unconditional gifts of God's love, gifts of healed perception offered by the Holy Spirit to all who ask for them. But in order for a miracle worker to assume his function of extending those gifts to others, his thoughts must be purified, at least to a certain extent; he must receive miracles himself, and allow them to purify his mind so that the Holy Spirit can extend miracles through him to others. This purification is the necessary prerequisite to miracle working. "Your ministry begins as all your thoughts are purified" (W-pI.151.15:2).

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