The Chain of Miscreation

What we’re going to look at this morning is a very long account of a day that went wrong. It is the only time that Jesus stopped to examine, with Helen and Bill, a clear example of what not to do. As such, this is a unique piece of teaching in the curriculum of the Course.

Jesus has just given Helen and Bill an assignment to review “the earlier part” of the Course—the notes Helen has scribed up to this point—as preparation for “the next part.” However, it seems that on the day in question, the planned study period did not happen. Instead, little bits of resentment and conflict added up over the course of the day and led to wasted time and the two of them probably ending the day upset with each other. 

So Jesus decides to give them a lengthy discourse on how this happened, how their errors had ultimately interfered with their review period. As Helen then dictated this material into the Urtext, it was filled out with more material, including this one-paragraph introduction:

The following is the only detailed description which need be written down as to how error interferes with preparation. The events specifically referred to here could be any events, nor does their particular influence matter. It is the process which is to be noted here, and not its results. The kind of beliefs, and the fallacious premises involved in misthought are as well exemplified here as elsewhere. There is nothing of special interest about the events described below, except their typical nature. If this is a true course in mind-training, then the whole value of this section rests only in showing you what not to do. The more constructive emphasis is, of course, on the positive approach [what to do]. Mind-watching would have prevented any of this from occurring, and will do so any time you permit it to.

This introduction carefully frames the following discourse as being not about these particular events and their dire results, but only about the entirely typical process they represent. The discourse’s focus on what not to do is less constructive than a more positive emphasis (on mind-watching), and as a result, Jesus says that this is the only time he is going to do this. 

What strikes me here is that Jesus’ concern is focused on “how error interferes with preparation.” He is speaking of the preparation they were supposed to undertake, reviewing the earlier part of the Course in order to prepare themselves for “the next part,” the rest of the Course. It isn’t about, “You failed, you blew it.” It isn’t about apportioning blame to them for their mistakes. The concern at hand is that what they did interfered with their study of the Course!! Ultimately, the Course is meant to transform Helen and Bill (and us as well) into miracle workers, so one way of looking at this is that Jesus is trying to prevent any waste of time in our preparation to become miracle workers.

The positive side of things, that which would have prevented the loss of time, is mind-watching. We know from other parts of the Course what he means by mind-watching:

"Watch your mind for the scraps of fear, or you will be unable to ask me to [step around the walls you have made to block the light]" (T-4.III.7:5).

"Watch your mind for the temptations of the ego, and do not be deceived by it. It offers you nothing. When you have given up this voluntary dis-spiriting, you will see how your mind can focus and rise above fatigue and heal. Yet you are not sufficiently vigilant against the demands of the ego to disengage yourself" (T-4.IV.6:1-4).

"You are much too tolerant of mind wandering, and are passively condoning your mind's miscreations. The particular result does not matter, but the fundamental error does. The correction is always the same. Before you choose to do anything, ask me if your choice is in accord with mine. If you are sure that it is, there will be no fear" (T-2.VI.4:6-10).

Mind-watching is being conscious of the thoughts in our minds, and being alert for fear-based thoughts that are the temptations of the ego. It means not allowing our minds to wander. There is a powerful passage from the Urtext which shows just how important mind-watching is:

You persist in believing that when you do not consciously watch your mind, it is unmindful.

It is time to consider the whole world of the unconscious, or unwatched mind. This will frighten you, because it is the source of fright.…

The unwatched mind is responsible for the whole content of the unconscious, which lies above the miracle-level.

This makes it clear that we need to “consciously watch” our minds. When we do not watch our minds and allow them to wander, what passes through them goes into our unconscious. It gets buried out of awareness, yet it continues to exert a powerful effect on our thinking and our feelings. That on-going, subconscious effect is evident in the story that we’re about to read.

So, in the incident that follows, what we are going to observe is a failure to watch the mind.

The review of the day begins as follows:

Tell Bill that the reason why he was so strained yesterday is because he allowed himself a number of fear-producing attitudes. They were fleeting enough to be more will-o’-wisps than serious will-errors [a pun, probably to reassure Bill], but unless he watches this kind of thing, he will find the notes fearful, and, knowing him well, will mis-distantiate. His unprovoked irritation was unpardonable except by himself, and he did not choose to pardon it. You did, but I’m afraid you were under some strain in doing so. This was unfortunate, and weakened your own ability to behave healingly toward Louis, who did act stupidly [Ur: healingly toward Bill at the time, and later also toward Louis, both of whom did act stupidly]. But one stupidity at a time is usually enough. [Ur: You are getting too close to the misuse of mental retardation when stupidity sets in all around.]

Here we see the beginning of what Jesus will later call “the chain of miscreation,” in which an initial error leads to a whole chain of further errors. The fear-producing attitudes Bill entertains cause him strain. If unchecked, this kind of thing will lead him to fear the Course and therefore wrongly distance himself from it (“misdistantiate”). Apparently, his strain also contributes to “unprovoked irritation.” Bill could have pardoned himself for this “unpardonable” offense, but he didn’t. Helen did, but only under strain, which then made her too weak to respond kindly to Louis’ “stupidity” (and Bill’s, too), which she thereby compounded with her own. (In using the word “stupid,” Jesus may simply be referencing Helen’s thoughts, just as he is almost certainly doing with the word “unpardonable.” That Jesus doesn’t really mean “unpardonable” is shown by the fact that Bill was supposed to have pardoned his error and Helen rightly did.) 

Let’s look at the chain of events here, and see how one thing led to another:

1. Bill entertains fear-producing attitudes. This causes him strain.

2. The strain leads to unprovoked irritation (not clear toward what or whom)

3. Bill fails to forgive himself for this.

4. Helen manages to forgive Bill, but not without strain for herself.

5. Her strain weakens her ability to respond to Bill’s and Louis’ “stupidity” in a healing way.

6. Helen therefore responds “stupidly” to Louis.

It all started with Bill’s failure to watch his mind. The chain of miscreation then  continues:

Bill, having already weakened himself, was very un-miracle-minded first by not asking Dora if she wanted a lift [Ur: in the cab, which was going her way]. Even if she didn’t [Ur: want it], she would have been able to use the thought well. There is probably no human error that is more fear-producing (in the will/behavior conflict sense) than countering any form of error with error. The result can be highly inflammable. [Ur: By reacting to Dora’s stupidity with his own, all of the elements which are virtually certain to engender fear have been provided.]

Bill should note that this is one of the few times he had to wait for a cab. He thought he took care of it by holding the door of a cab which did come for that lady, but he was misguided in this belief. (Beliefs are thoughts, and thus come under Christ-guidance, not control). [Ur: Actually, by giving this cab to her, he was very unkind to you. It was quite apparent that you were extremely cold, and also very late. The idea that giving her the cab would atone for his previous errors was singularly out of place, and well calculated to lead to further error. If, instead of attempting to atone on his own, he had asked for guidance, there would have been no difficulty whatever in the cab situation. It was not necessary that anyone wait at all.]

His original slight to Dora, because of his own needs as he perceived them [Ur: his own need to get home as he perceived it], stopped him from benefiting from the time-saving device of the miracle. He would have gotten home much quicker if he had taken time to use time properly. 

This incident follows on the first: “Bill, having already weakened himself”; this refers to his fear-producing attitude that led to his unprovoked irritation, which he was unable to forgive in himself. As a result of this, he reacts poorly to someone named Dora.

To reconstruct the above, Dora did something “stupid.” Bill then responds to her error with an error of his own: He doesn’t offer to let Dora share his and Helen’s cab, because of his need to get home quicker. But countering her error with his own leads to the exact opposite result: he had to wait for a cab an unusually long time. Had he offered her a lift, he would have given her a miracle, a kindness which would have canceled out her earlier error. This would then have invoked the time-saving property of miracles, which would have summoned a cab quickly. Sensing his mistake, he tried to “atone on his own” by graciously giving away to another woman the cab that did come. But this was simultaneously a “well-calculated” unkindness to Helen—meaning that Bill knew very well he was being unkind to Helen, apparently acting out of some repressed anger towards her—, who was clearly “extremely cold, and also very late.” Here, then, we have another chain of errors, starting with Dora and leading to Bill, from whence it traveled back to Dora and forward to Helen.

Let’s notice in passing that if not asking Dora to share the cab was “un-miracle-minded,” we can infer that to have asked her to share the cab would have been miracle-minded. In other words, common kindness and courtesy are evidence of miracle-mindedness. Even if she turned down the cab ride, the thought of kindness on Bill’s part “she would have been able to use...well”. Interesting how the thought behind the action can have beneficent effects even if nothing shows up in actual form.

There is another thing implied here that I find particularly interesting. It says that if Bill “had asked for guidance, there would have been no difficulty whatever in the cab situation.” You might think that means that they call could have ridden in the first cab, but there was that other “lady” to whom Bill gave away the cab, so that interpretation won’t quite work. It seems to imply that, somehow, another cab would have showed up sooner. And that implies that our thoughts can actually have visible and immediate effects on the physical environment. In fact, at one point Jesus says that this is one of the purposes of physical healing:

"If the mind can heal the body, but the body cannot heal the mind, then the mind must be stronger than the body. Every miracle demonstrates this" (T-6.V.2:6-7).

That fits well with everything the Course teaches about the nature of the universe. It says that the world is nothing more than “a witness to your state of mind, an outside picture of an inward condition” (T-21.In.1:5). Maybe we really can manifest better parking spaces! Seriously, though, it’s clear that the real goal here wasn’t just getting home more quickly or avoiding the cold, it was extending love, manifesting acts of kindness and courtesy, and thus extending miracle-minded thoughts from one mind to another.

You were still suffering from strain (see above), and got quite irritated at the girl who stood next to the door on the side which blocked its opening. [Ur: Her presence there made it necessary each time the door was opened to hold it for a much longer time than was necessary, and you were angry because this made you cold. Actually, the girl was taking care of the younger child who was standing outside, and both of them were really mentally retarded. If you will remember, the older girl asked you very uncertainly about the bus, and you were well aware at the time of her extreme uncertainty. It would have been much wiser had you built up her confidence, instead of associating with her stupidity.] 

First, we saw the continuing effect on Bill and Dora of Bill’s original failure to watch his mind. Now we see the continuing domino effect on Helen of Bill’s mistake. She experienced strain in forgiving Bill. That...

Helen’s lingering strain from forgiving Bill now spills over into irritation at a girl whose position near the door requires it to be held open a long time, making Helen cold. However, Helen noticed how extremely uncertain the girl was, and being a specialist in mental retardation in children, she should have put two and two together and realized the girl was “really mentally retarded.” Then she could have given her a miracle by building up her confidence. Instead, through Helen’s surprisingly dense irritation, she joined the girl in retardation.

This reduced your own efficiency, and the only thing that saved you then was that you did remember [Ur:, in the cab,] to ask me about the notes [Ur:, instead of assuming that you were necessarily to arrange to meet the next day and go over them]. Bill had already become so unguided that it did not occur to him that his own will (which he justified by the contents of the recent notes— a misuse of truth only seemingly on its own behalf) might be questionable. (You took poor notes yourself here, because you got mad at him [Ur: on remembering this]. You did try to will right in the cab, but did not quite succeed. The error is showing up now.) 

This paragraph is a bit confusing; clearly, it would have been easily understood by Helen, but it assumes a familiarity with the situation we don’t have. One thing we can see clearly is that Helen’s irritation with Bill interfered with her taking notes from Jesus’ dictation, and muddled the content—Jesus says “You took poor, because you got mad at him.” Another thing that is interesting is that, although Helen “did try to will right” she “did not quite succeed.” She was still off-kilter from the earlier strain. The domino effect continues.

Bill thus placed himself in an a excellent condition to experience a fear rather than a love reaction. (You are right about the misuse of “excellent” here, and please do cross it out. You are still angry. [Ur: An excellent position for miscreation is not a meaningful approach to the problem.]). It was indeed discourteous (“indeed” is not necessary — [Ur: it was] your own error [Ur: here]; I am not saying this with any harsh overtones at all. I am just trying to create better learning conditions for the study periods. We want as little interference as possible, for very good reasons.)

It’s getting down to the nitty-gritty here. We can see Helen’s irritation with Bill flaring up and causing her to insert words such as “excellent” and “indeed”, in a subtle attempt to verbally attack Bill. Once again Jesus emphasizes that the purpose of all this analysis is “to create better learning conditions for the study periods.”

Now, to go back to Bill—he was discourteous to you, when he told you that he wanted to keep the original [Ur: copy of the notes], having decided to have it Xeroxed on his own will, and then justifying it by a very slight misinterpretation of what I said about “useful for others.” In fact, if he will reread the actual quote, he will see that it really means “useful for him.” You had interpreted it that way, and frankly this was pretty clear to me at the time. But this sort of thing happens all the time. [Ur: It should, be noted, however, that the result was not only considerable and totally unnecessary planning on Bill’s part, but also a failure to utilize what was intended for him as a help for himself.] And before you get too self-satisfied, I would remind you that you do it [Ur: all the time] too. 

Bill acted inappropriately toward you by saying that he wanted to be sure the original was not lost or dirtied. [Ur: It is noticeable that, having already decided what he wanted to do,] It never occurred to him that it is possible that he might lose or dirty them himself [Ur: especially as he had not entrusted them to me. This is] a form of arrogance that he would be [Ur: much] happier without. He should also note that this would probably not have occurred had he not been already literally “off the beam.” Be sure to tell him that this pun is to reassure him that I am not angry. If he does not get it, or doesn’t like it, I know it’s not very good. The reason is that he put me in a position where I can [Ur: really] give him very little at the moment. 

But I want him to know that I am very well aware of the exceedingly few times he now makes errors of this kind. He has come a very long way in this respect. It seems a shame that he should allow himself even this much discomfort from it. 

The issue here is handling Helen’s recent notes from Jesus in a guided way. Helen has been impaired by her strain in forgiving Bill and her irritation toward the girl. But she partly rescues her state of mind by asking Jesus if she and Bill should “meet the next day and go over” the notes, rather than assuming they should. Bill does not fare quite so well. In his current unguided state, he assumes that he should keep the original copy of Helen’s notes, for two reasons: first, so that he could photocopy them; second, so that they would not get lost or dirtied. 

He justifies photocopying the notes by misinterpreting a statement from Jesus that the notes would “useful for others.” (“What you wrote can be useful to miracle-workers other than yourself.”) Jesus says, however, that this really referred to Bill, which Bill will see “if he will reread the actual quote.” The result of this misinterpretation is a mess: “not only considerable and totally unnecessary planning on Bill’s part, but also a failure to utilize what was intended for him as a help for himself.” But before Helen can smugly look down on Bill for this, Jesus says that she too misinterprets his words in service of her agendas. Indeed, we all do. “This sort of thing happens all the time,” he says. You can probably think of some instances where you, or someone you know, has misused some words from the Course to further the ego’s agenda. I had two friends, a couple, who were Course students. Every now and then, they’d get into some kind of dispute. One of them would say something like, “It hurts when you say things like that!” and the other would reply, misusing the Course, “That’s just your perception; you are doing it to yourself.” The second person was trying to further his own ego agenda by misunderstanding the Course.

Bill’s second reason for keeping the notes—to keep them from being lost or dirtied—is likewise riddled with problems. First, it is discourteous to Helen, for it carries the message that the notes could well get lost or dirtied if left in Helen’s hands. Second, it is arrogant, as it doesn’t occur to him “that he might lose or dirty them himself, especially as he had not entrusted them to me.”

As Jesus is being quite critical of Bill, he takes great care to communicate love rather than anger. This takes at least three forms. First, he is careful to speak without “any harsh overtones at all.” Second, he gives Bill a pun (the meaning of which we cannot ascertain), “to reassure him that I am not angry.” Third, he praises Bill’s overall progress: “He has come a very long way in this respect.”

However, he is having difficulty getting his loving tone across, in that he has to communicate it through Helen, and her lingering resentment toward Bill is causing her to distort Jesus’ words, particularly by adding emphatic words, like “indeed” and “excellent,” that make his tone sound harsher. Jesus is resolute, however, in correcting these distortions. 

I suggest to you that we pray for him, and I pray for your full cooperation [Ur: in this]. This will correct your errors, and help him react better to the work on the bookcase, which may otherwise lend itself for misuse by mis-projection. [Ur: There would have been no problem at all about the bookcase, and perhaps even no bookcase, if the solution of the storage problem had been left to me. I have promised to guide you out of problems, and will certainly not create them for you. But this means that you do not undertake to solve them yourselves. A storage problem is hardly more difficult for me to solve than a space problem, (see comments under special principles for miracle workers.)]

Here we can see the many different kind of details that Jesus wants to supervise in our lives. It includes things like building bookcases and solving storage problems. In the reference to special principles, Jesus says, “When YOU perform a miracle, I will arrange both time and space to adjust to it.” He also says, “Kolb’s space problem is not mine.” I have not been able to ascertain what “Kolb’s space problem” refers to, although I suspect it is some psychological problem Helen and Bill were familiar with, and one that was either very far-reaching or particularly difficult to solve. Jesus was basically saying here that if he could solve the grand scale “space problem” he certainly could find space for their books!

The suggestion that Helen pray with Jesus for Bill is expertly designed to correct both Bill’s state of mind and her resentment toward Bill. Bill’s state of mind at this point seems especially prone to trying to handle problems himself, without asking for guidance, the bookcase being a case in point. 

Trying to handle things by ourselves, without asking for guidance, seems to be the nub of the problem. Elsewhere in the Text we read:

"Whenever you choose to make decisions for yourself you are thinking destructively, and the decision will be wrong. It will hurt you because of the concept of decision that led to it. It is not true that you can make decisions by yourself or for yourself alone" (T-14.III.9:1-3).

And, when advising us of “the rules for decision” and how to start the day, he says:

"The outlook starts with this: 

Today I will make no decisions by myself. 

 This means that you are choosing not to be the judge of what to do. But it must also mean you will not judge the situations where you will be called upon to make response" (T-30.I.2:1-4).

In the Workbook, talking about planning, he tells us:

"A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to Wisdom that is not its own. It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it. It does not depend upon itself for anything except its adequacy to fulfill the plans assigned to it. It is secure in certainty that obstacles can not impede its progress to accomplishment of any goal that serves the greater plan established for the good of everyone" (W-pI.135.11:1-5).

You started well [Ur: in your attempt to pray with me for Bill], but ended badly. This is because you had already made a number of earlier errors. You were wrong to be pleased with Bill F’s criticism of Rose, and should not have enjoyed Bill’s [Ur: Bill F’s] description of Zanvell’s caricaturing of her. You could have laughed with Bill, but not at Rose. Real courtesy never does this. You should know that all God’s children are fully worthy of complete courtesy. You should never join with one at the expense of another. 

These next paragraphs contain a striking picture of moving through the smallest interactions with courtesy, respect, and graciousness. First, Helen’s efforts to pray for Bill “ended badly” because her mind was under the weight of earlier errors. Specifically, she had relished and laughed at Bill F.’s criticism and caricature of Rose. In other words, she had joined “with one at the expense of another.” By  doing so, Helen treated Rose with discourtesy, even though Rose was apparently not present. Yet “all God’s children are fully worthy of complete courtesy.”

These personal accounts emphasize courtesy and kindness much more emphatically than the published Text; I really appreciate these notes for that reason. Notice, too, that these mistakes were the result of “a number of earlier errors.” If Helen had not made those earlier errors, she probably would not have displayed pleasure and laughter with Bill F.’s criticism of Rose.

When you called Bill about joining you [Ur:, Gene, and Ann] at lunch, you should have waited to ask me. In fact, you should not even have told Ann you would call. Then you could have asked him first if he would want to come, and called Ann back. It is true that it was better that he came, but this has nothing to do with the real issue. There are ways of treating others in which only consistent courtesy, even in very little things, is offered. It is a very healing  habit to acquire. 

Helen was also discourteous to Bill by telling Ann that she was going to invite Bill to join their lunch. This put Bill on the spot—now, if he refused the invitation, Ann would know. This approach seemed fine to Helen, Jesus implies, because she believed that Bill should come. She was actually correct about this, but that is beside the point. She should have instead asked for guidance from Jesus, who would have told her to first call Bill (without telling Ann she was going to) and then call Ann back. This sort of courtesy even in little matters is the “very healing habit” that Jesus wants her to develop.

Again I want to point out the detailed guidance Jesus is offering. How often, when you have been considering inviting someone to lunch, have you prayed for guidance about it? Would it ever cross your mind to do so? I have to confess I don’t think I’ve ever done so, and no doubt, I should. That, I think, is the message here for all of us: We need to be more vigilant for God and His Kingdom; we need to watch our minds more closely, and ask for guidance more often.

I do believe that if her mind had not been off-kilter to begin with, Helen would have made the right choice here; she might have heard the Voice for God within her even without specific asking about the phone call. I think very often, if we are in a miracle-minded state of mind, we spontaneously hear the right guidance. That’s just my opinion...

Bill’s answer [Ur: to your call] was a clear statement of his own sadly conflicted state. He said, “I don’t want to [Ur: join you], but that’s ungracious, so I’ll go.” Whenever any invitation to join others in a gracious way is offered, it should always be met with respect, although it need not always be accepted. However, if it is met ungraciously, the resulting feeling may well be one of coercion. This is always a split-will reaction. 

Bill did not solve this by acting graciously. The lunch need not have entailed either mental or physical strain for him, and no “need to escape” should have arisen. This was a regression of the unprofitable kind. [Ur: Bill will continue to experience this need from time to time, until he is willing to realize that there is nothing he needs or wants to escape from.]

Bill’s response to the lunch invitation is a model of inner conflict. He doesn’t want to go, but he also doesn’t want to be ungracious. His will is split. So he decides to solve the split by acting gracious, even if he doesn’t feel that way. (Of course, none of us have ever done anything like that—right?) He says, “I don’t want to join you, but that’s ungracious, so I’ll go.” However, responding to the invitation in this way is itself ungracious. Further, by identifying with the one side of his will—the desire not to go—he sees the impetus for going as coming from outside of him. He therefore feels like he is going under coercion, rather than of his own accord. While at the lunch, he is still chafing from his hidden desire to not be there, and as a result experiences strain and a persistent “need to escape.” This represents the very sort of withdrawal from others that, with Jesus’ help, he has been overcoming (hence, Jesus calling the episode a “regression”). In sum, he didn’t solve anything by acting on one side of his will while secretly retaining the other, for that other side continued to cry out for satisfaction and consequently undermined things at every step of the way.

“So,” we might ask, “what should he have done?” The final statements that “there is nothing he needs or wants to escape from,” to me imply that, were his mind sufficiently healed, Bill would not have resisted going; he would have wanted to go. But the reality of it was, he didn’t want to go. I think he should have been honest, and graciously declined, perhaps saying something like, “Thanks for inviting me, but I’d prefer not to come this time.” But [DISCUSSION] What do you think?


It is very hard to get out of the chain of miscreation which can arise out of even the simplest misthought. To borrow one of your own phrases, “This kind of human tragedy is far easier to avert than to undo.” You must both learn not to let this kind of chain reaction start. You will not be able to control it once it’s started, because everything and everyone can [Ur: will] be pulled into the mis-projection, and misinterpreted accordingly. Nothing is lovely to the unloving. This is because they are creating ugliness. 

To me, this paragraph is priceless. What a mess their day was! What’s the answer? “It is far easier to avert than to undo.” In other words, don’t let it get started. Once it gets started “you will not be able to control it.” Everything and everyone will get “pulled in.” This is why it is so crucial to start each day with a Quiet Time, in which you set your mind on the right track. “I give my life to God to guide today.”

You, Helen, were definitely not acting right-mindedly by writing these notes right in front of Jonathan. (Note that you wrote [Ur: his name as] “Jonathan” this time, although previously [Ur: in these same notes] you referred to him as “Louis,” intentionally using his real name. Actually, of course, it does not matter what you call him, but note that you felt free at that time to choose the name you preferred. This time, you were forced to call him “Jonathan” because you were attacking him when you took the notes in front of him, and now you are falling back on the magical device of “protecting his name.” 

Once again, the theme of courtesy in small matters comes through. Helen shouldn’t be taking dictation from Jesus right in front of Louis, as she knows the whole thing makes him uncomfortable. Helen is well aware, then, that this is an attack on him. As a result, she feels compelled to call him “Jonathan”—magically hoping that if she puts the wrong name on her attack thoughts they will not find their target. 

(I have been considering calling Bill rather ambivalently, and just got up to do so, but remembered to ask. The Answer was to call [Ur: him] at 8:30. [Jesus now speaking:] It would be better if he called, but he may decide not to. [Ur: If he does not,] You should try to get through, and if he has decided not to be there, [Ur: just] leave a message that it is not important. This is still a kindly gesture [Ur: and the message should be put in a gentle way].) [Ur: (Bill did call Helen)] 

Notice, too, how respectful are her instructions about calling Bill (possibly to patch things up after their tense day). Since it’s best if he calls, she should give him time to do that. If he doesn’t by 8:30, she should then try to reach him. If he has decided to make himself unavailable for her call, she should leave a gentle message, saying that what she was calling about is not important. The kindness in all this is unmistakable.

Here you have Helen literally stopping before she makes a phone call to ask if she should make it, and being told to wait. Again, I suggest we think about applying this to ourselves. Would it be so hard, when we are about to pick up the phone, to pray first? It only has to take a few seconds. Perhaps you are concerned that you don’t know how to hear the answer to such a prayer. Here’s my suggestion: After you’ve asked whether or not to call, picture yourself making the call, and notice how you feel. Then, picture yourself not calling, and see how that feels. In my experience, usually, one option just feels right and the other does not. I believe that, since you have asked to be guided, you should trust that you are being guided, and interpret that “feels right” as your guidance.

The same thing, I’m sure, applies to sending an email message or a text message!

[Ur: Without going into further elaboration, and we could devote many hours to this, let’s consider] Now consider all the time we had to waste today. And all the notes that could have been devoted to a better purpose [Ur: than undoing the waste, and thus creating further waste]. There is a better purpose [Ur: a better use for time], too. I would like to spend some time on corrections of past notes, as an important step before reviewing [Ur: them]. A major point of clarification is necessary in connection with “replacing hatred (or fear) with love.” (No, Helen, do not check this against what Bill typed [Ur: against the prayer that Bill very kindly typed] on the card. That was a gracious offering [Ur: on his part], and you also accepted it with grace [Ur: at the time]. Why refer corrections first to him [Ur: Why should you deprive yourself of the value of the offering by referring this correction first to him]?) 

[Ur: (These notes did not continue at this time, due to the obvious fact that Helen was still clearly not in her right mind. However, Bill later suggested that “correct” or “correct for” should be used instead of “replace.” At the time, he was quite sure about this, and he was perfectly right. The reason why it was essential that he make this correction was that the word “replace” was his choice originally, and reflected a temporary misunderstanding of his own. It was, however, both courteous and necessary that he change this himself, both as a sign of his own better understanding, and of an avoidance of correction by someone else, which would have been discourteous.)]

When Jesus talks about “all the notes that could have been devoted to a better purpose,” he is referring to the very notes we’ve been reading. It took time for Helen to write all this down. His point is that if they had not screwed up, none of this would have been necessary, and Helen could have been taking down more positive instruction.

Lastly, Jesus wants to correct a scribal error in Helen’s notes that speaks of “replacing hatred (or fear) with love.” This probably refers to this line: “Turn immediately to me by denying the power of the fear, and ask me to help you replace it with love.” Apparently, Bill had “very kindly” typed up a prayer on a card for Helen to use, perhaps based on this line. Upon hearing that Jesus wants to make a correction, Helen’s first impulse was to check what Bill had typed on the card and see if it needed correcting. Jesus, however, asks her not to, saying this discourtesy clashed with the graciousness of Bill’s gift. Later (presumably upon hearing that it needed correcting), Bill has the feeling that the line should read “correct hatred (or fear) with love.” Jesus says he is right, and also says that the original error was actually Bill’s—apparently implying that Bill’s thoughts, just like Helen’s, could distort Helen’s dictation. Therefore, it is courteous that Bill corrects the error himself, since it relieves someone else (Helen) of the discourtesy of having to correct his mistake.

The fastidious character of this instruction, the careful attention to detail, the extreme care not to step on Bill’s toes but to allow him to discover and to correct his own mistake, is striking. 

Jesus’ immediate reason for this whole discourse was “to create better learning conditions for the study periods” he has just assigned them. Yet in the process, he also provides an in-depth look into how we typically live our days and how he wants us to live them. 

The typical day he sketches here is governed by “the chain of miscreation,” by errors that beget long chains of additional errors. In this day, our attack thoughts cause internal strain and fear, making us vulnerable to yet more attack thoughts. And the resulting unkind behavior infects others, leaving them struggling with the same emotions we are. We try to fix the situation. We behave graciously despite feeling ungracious, yet our secret displeasure still leaks out. We make magnanimous sacrifices designed to atone for our attacks, but these cause new messes and often carry their own hidden poison. We even make attempts at forgiveness, yet often do so under strain, leaving us weakened and prone to more resentment. A big part of the problem is that we are trying to handle situations on our own, without guidance, and so our “solutions” tend to cause new problems, which in turn eat up our time. We seem to be caught in an unbreakable chain. Our perception of everyone and everything gets pulled into this chain, making the whole world look ugly.

In the day Jesus wants us to have, we are minutely on top of each moment of time, carefully watching our minds for unloving thoughts and letting each one go before it can start a chain. And we are frequently asking for direction, so that our solutions, coming from a larger Mind, are real solutions. This combination of mind-watching and guided decision-making has a very concrete outcome. It results in a continual stream of loving, conscientious behavior in all the small interactions of the day. Our day is full of little gracious offerings and kindly gestures (phrases from this discourse). We offer “consistent courtesy, even in very little things.” The people around us are blessed by our graciousness, and they naturally pass this blessing on to others. We have replaced “the chain of miscreation” with “an interlocking chain” of miracles.


I give my life to God to guide today.

1.  1 <Father, I give You all my thoughts today. 2 I would have none of mine. 3 In place of them, give me Your Own. 4 I give You all my acts as well, that I may do Your Will instead of seeking goals which cannot be obtained, and wasting time in vain imaginings. 5 Today I come to You. 6 I will step back and merely follow You. 7 Be You the Guide, and I the follower who questions not the wisdom of the Infinite, nor Love whose tenderness I cannot comprehend, but which is yet Your perfect gift to me.>

2.  1 Today we have one Guide to lead us on. 2 And as we walk together, we will give this day to Him with no reserve at all. 3 This is His day. 4 And so it is a day of countless gifts and mercies unto us.

Day in the Life of a Miracle Worker 4/17/11

Session 2—The Chain of Miscreation—Allen Watson

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