We have wandered a seemingly long way along the pathways of the world, looking for safety, peace, love, belonging, nurturing, acceptance, happiness, and love. It is all that we associate with home and happiness, as we long it to be. We have made many substitutes in this world for our true home, which is Heaven. We became disillusioned when we recognized that we do not have any control over the world we made. Things have not turned out as we had hoped. No matter how much we seek in the world, "Yet still you feel an alien here, from somewhere all unknown. Nothing so definite that you could say with certainty you are an exile here. Just a persistent feeling, sometimes not more than a tiny throb, at other times hardly remembered, actively dismissed, but surely to return to mind again." (W.182.1.4-6)
Who has not longed for the home of his childhood if indeed it was perceived as a place of refuge? "Perhaps you think it is your childhood home that you would find again. The childhood of your body, and its place of shelter, are a memory now so distorted that you merely hold a picture of a past that never happened. Yet there is a Child in you Who seeks His Father's house, and knows that He is alien here." (W.182.4.1-3) We eventually all come to this place where the things of the world can no longer cover over this deep call for home, which is in all of us.
"There is a risk of thinking death is peace, because the world equates the body with the Self which God created. Yet a thing can never be its opposite. And death is opposite to peace, because it is the opposite of life. And life is peace. Awaken and forget all thoughts of death, and you will find you have the peace of God."
(T.27.VII.10.2-6) (Not in ACIM OE)
Death is not what takes us home. Fear of death is one of our basic fears. Jesus puts these questions to us: "What would you see without the fear of death? What would you feel and think if death held no attraction for you?" (T.19.IV.D.1.1-2) (ACIM OE T.19.V.d.90) He is telling us that while we fear death, we have an attraction to it, which we see as a final solution. What we fear is also what we are attracted to; but, we cannot die. Our attraction to death comes from the belief that we have sinned. Sin requires punishment. The sentence of death becomes our final punishment as determined by the ego. It is what we deserve for what we have seemingly done to God. Death is the proof given by the ego that separation is real and that we are not eternal. It is a brilliant defense established by the ego to prove the existence of the separate self.
The truth is---we cannot die. We are eternal. There is no death. None of the ego's story is true. Now we can choose to dismiss it by accepting the truth of our reality. Our reality is not a body and the end of the body is not the end of what we are as the Son of God. Our reality is a mind and minds do not die. We were created eternal. Life does not end. When we make separation real, we also believe in the reality of the ego and of death. There is essentially only one death, and it is the death of the ego. Yet all that the ego is is fear and "Fear is really nothing and love is everything." (T.2.VII.5.3) (ACIM OE T.2.V.99)
See how the belief in death would seem to
you. For if this is gone, what can you fear but life? It is the attraction of death that makes life seem to be ugly, cruel and tyrannical. You are no more afraid of death than of the ego. These are your chosen friends. For in your secret alliance with them you have agreed never to let the fear of God be lifted, so you could look upon the face of Christ and join Him in His Father.
(T.19.IV.D.4.1-6) (ACIM OE T.V.d.93)
Every obstacle that peace must flow across is surmounted in just the same way; the fear that raised it yields to the love beneath, and so the fear is gone. And so it is with this.
(T.19.IV.D.5.1-2) (ACIM OE T.V.d.94)
In reality, we have never been able to accomplish separation from God or from our own reality as the eternal Son of God. There is no punishment. We are completely loved now and forever. So when the fear of God is gone, there is only life. Jesus says it is the attraction of death that makes life "seem to be ugly, cruel and tyrannical." (T.19.IV.D.4.3) (ACIM OE T.V.d.93)Certainly, it is what we experience, as all things here come to an end.
Our attraction to death is the attraction to our separate identity. Death is a defense against the truth, and as our defenses are slowly undone, we finally come to death as the final defense against the truth of who we are. We need to see the attraction to death that we hold so we can see it is what we are unconsciously choosing. When we see how it operates in our lives, we can choose life which has no opposite in death. Life has nothing to do with the body, which does not exist. The choice we make for life is a moment-by-moment decision. For example, this morning I woke up feeling discomforted and upset. These feelings maintain separation from love. They are a form of death, seemingly killing all feelings of joy, which is my natural state. Holding onto upsets is another way we hold onto death, but we have a choice we can make. We can inquire into these feelings that we are holding by looking at the thoughts and beliefs they cover over. Who is being blamed by how we are feeling? What do we believe we can get for being right? We can then take it a step further and look at our deepest desire. Do I desire separation, or to feel the joy and peace in me? Which is true? I choose to ask for help to release these feelings so the love I am is revealed to me. To indulge these feelings of distress is to keep choosing to align with the ego.
What takes us home is the desire to remember the truth about ourselves. Choosing this as the purpose of our lives makes our lives here meaningful. The purpose of the ego is to keep us invested in the dream. Its goal is to keep itself going and to kill us (the host) in the process. In other words, the ego is about the crucifixion of the Son of God. Our joy can only come with the resurrection. When we see what the ego is up to, we will naturally choose against it and align with the truth.
The world we see is not a place where we will ever feel at home or find the peace and joy we desperately long for; but when we change our purpose and use time for healing and forgiveness, we are released from the hell we have made, and we experience true joy, peace, and love, which is always there, waiting for us. As Jesus reminds us, "When anything threatens your peace of mind, ask yourself, 'Has God changed His Mind about me
(T.10.IN.3.9) (ACIM OE T.9.VIII.62) It is we who keep changing our minds about God. When we face challenges, losses, and sickness, we wonder how can God do this to us? Why would He allow this to happen? We lose trust and when we do, we tend to develop our own strategies to prevent the situation from ever occurring again. They are strategies to protect ourselves from pain, but these strategies can only have temporary effects. They will never work to undo the source of the problem. God's love is still there, although it cannot come through because we have chosen to align with the ego. Heaven can be ours this very instant when we turn toward the light and trust in His grace.
Jesus speaks of the resurrection as the awakening from the dream of death, a process that occurs in the mind, not the body, since it is the mind alone that sleeps. Jesus gives Helen an explanation of what happened in his resurrection in "Absence from Felicity," written by Ken Wapnick.
"This is the message of the crucifixion: There is no order of difficulty in miracles. This is the message of the resurrection: Illusions are illusions. Truth is true. Illusions vanish. Only truth remains. These lessons needed to be taught but once, for when the stone of death is rolled away, what can be seen except an empty tomb? And that is what you see who follow me into the sunlight and away from death, past all illusions, on to Heaven's gate, where God will come Himself to take you home." He reminds us that death is the last illusion to be overcome.
It is a poignant reminder that there is no death. Jesus asks us, "Is it not madness to think of life as being born, aging, losing vitality and dying in the end?" (Manual for Teachers.27.1.2) We do think this way about our lives here. It seems obvious, as it appears to be such a certainty in this world. Yet Jesus says that we need to consider this belief carefully and raise it to question. He tells us that this is not what a benign Creator has in store for us, or we would not be able to see Him as loving. If we thought that God decreed that "all things pass away, ending in dust and disappointment and despair," (M.27.2.2) indeed we would have grounds to fear Him. If indeed, "He holds your little life in his hand but by a thread, ready to break it off without regret or care," (M.27.2.8) we could not possibly love Him. Ultimately, "Where there is death is peace impossible." (M.27.2.8)
God did not create bodies. If he had, death would be real. He created us as a pure and loving Mind. The body is a projection of the mind that separated from God. "And the last to be overcome will be death." (M.27.6.1) Jesus demonstrated this in his own example of the crucifixion. "The inconsistencies, the compromises and the rituals the world fosters in its vain attempts to cling to death and yet to think love real are mindless magic, ineffectual and meaningless." (M.27.6.9) God created only the eternal. Yes, form does seem to change and people we love do seem to leave us, but it is only an aspect of this dream. When we wake up from this dream, we will know nothing happened. It was all a dream.
Our part is now to forgive our misperceptions. Our unforgiving thoughts reinforce the separation and feelings of aloneness in the world. By entering the present moment, the holy instant, we come to the presence of Love. Our Father awaits our return and welcomes us with open arms. We are like the Prodigal Son, who is afraid he will be punished for squandering his Father's treasure, but the Father assures him on his return that he has always been His treasure, and nothing he could ever do would change that.
"My home awaits me. I will hasten there."
(W.226) How quickly we return depends on how intensely we want to know who we are. It is about the power of our desire. It is how much attachment we still have when we give value to our goals and plans. In the movie, "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter," I was struck by the fact that even with the simplicity of life, with significantly few distractions, and few material possessions, the human struggle is still the same for all of us. We have longings, desires, wants, and wishes that we come into the world to experience. What we still attach value to will hold us to this illusion. We would not be here in this illusory world without this desire for experience. And we will do what we came here to do until we are at the end of our interest, have suffered enough pain, and have realized that we have been pursuing nothing of value.
Now it is all about our purpose of awakening from this dream. Today, we remind ourselves, "Father, my home awaits my glad return. Your Arms are open and I hear Your Voice. What need have I to linger in a place of vain desires and of shattered dreams, when Heaven can so easily be mine." (W.226.2.1-3) Heaven is not reached through death, but through the awareness of truth.