"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
Herein Lies the peace of God."
A Course in Miracles
TEXT

CHAPTER 12
The Problem of Guilt

I. Introduction

1 The ultimate purpose of projection, as the ego uses it, is always to get rid of guilt. Yet, characteristically, the ego attempts to get rid of guilt from its viewpoint only, for much as the ego wants to retain guilt, you find it intolerable, since guilt stands in the way of your remembering God, Whose pull is so strong that you cannot resist it. On this issue, then, the deepest split of all occurs, for if you are to retain guilt, as the ego insists, you cannot be you . Only by persuading you that it is you could the ego possibly induce you to project guilt and thereby keep it in your mind.

2 Yet consider how strange a solution the ego's arrangement is. You project guilt to get rid of it, but you are actually merely concealing it. You do experience guilt feelings, but you have no idea why. On the contrary, you associate them with a weird assortment of ego ideals which the ego claims you have failed. Yet you have no idea that you are failing the Son of God by seeing him as guilty. Believing you are no longer you, you do not realize that you are failing yourself .

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TEXT

CHAPTER 12
The Problem of Guilt

II. Crucifixion by Guilt

3 The darkest of your hidden cornerstones holds your belief in guilt from your awareness. For in that dark and secret place is the realization that you have betrayed God's Son by condemning him to death. You do not even suspect this murderous but insane idea lies hidden there, for the ego's destructive urge is so intense that nothing short of the crucifixion of God's Son can ultimately satisfy it. It does not know who the Son of God is because it is blind. Yet let it perceive guiltlessness anywhere, and it will try to destroy it because it is afraid.

4 Much of the ego's strange behavior is directly attributable to its definition of guilt. To the ego, the guiltless are guilty . Those who do not attack are its "enemies" because, by not valuing its interpretation of salvation, they are in an excellent position to let it go . They have approached the darkest and deepest cornerstone in the ego's foundation, and while the ego can withstand your raising all else to question, it guards this one secret with its life, for its existence does depend on keeping this secret. So it is this secret that we must look upon calmly, for the ego cannot protect you against truth, and in its presence the ego is dispelled.

5 In the calm light of truth, let us recognize that you believe you have crucified God's Son. You have not admitted to this "terrible" secret because you still wish to crucify him if you could find him. Yet the wish has hidden him from you because it is very fearful, and you are afraid to find him. You have handled this wish to kill yourself by not knowing who you are and identifying with something else . You have projected guilt blindly and indiscriminately, but you have not uncovered its source. For the ego does want to kill you, and if you identify with it, you must believe its goal is yours.

6 We once said that the crucifixion is the symbol of the ego. When it was confronted with the real guiltlessness of God's Son, it did attempt to kill him, and the reason it gave was that guiltlessness is blasphemous to God. To the ego the ego is god, and guiltlessness must be interpreted as the final guilt which fully justifies murder. You do not yet understand that all your fear of this course stems ultimately from this interpretation, but if you will consider your reactions to it, you will become increasingly convinced that this is so.

7 This course has explicitly stated that its goal for you is happiness and peace. Yet you are afraid of it. You have been told again and again that it will make you free, yet you react as if it is trying to imprison you. Most of the time you dismiss it, but you do not dismiss the ego's thought system. You have seen its results and you still lack faith in it. You must , then, believe that by not learning the course, you are protecting yourself. And you do not realize that it is only your guiltlessness which can protect you.

8 The Atonement has always been interpreted as the release from guilt, and this is correct if it is understood. Yet even when I have interpreted it for you, you have rejected it and have not accepted it for yourself. You have recognized the futility of the ego and its offerings, but though you do not want the ego, you do not look upon the alternative with gladness. You are afraid of redemption, and you believe it will kill you. Make no mistake about the depth of your fear. For you believe that in the presence of truth you will turn on yourself and destroy yourself.

9 Little children, this is not so. Your "guilty secret" is nothing, and if you will but bring it to the light, the light will dispel it. And then no dark cloud will remain between you and the remembrance of your Father, for you will remember His guiltless Son, who did not die, because he is immortal. And you will see that you were redeemed with him and have never been separated from him. In this understanding lies your remembering, for it is the recognition of love without fear. There will be great joy in Heaven on your homecoming, and the joy will be yours . For the redeemed son of man is the guiltless Son of God, and to recognize him is your redemption.

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WORKBOOK

Lesson 136
Sickness is a defense against the truth.

1 No one can heal unless he understands what purpose sickness seems to serve. For then he understands as well its purpose has no meaning. Being causeless and without a meaningful intent of any kind, it cannot be at all. When this is seen, healing is automatic. It dispels this meaningless illusion by the same approach that carries all of them to truth and merely leaves them there to disappear.

2 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.

3 Defenses are not unintentional nor are they made without awareness. They are secret magic wands you wave when truth appears to threaten what you would believe. They seem to be unconscious but because of the rapidity with which you choose to use them. In that second, even less, in which the choice is made, you recognize exactly what you would attempt to do and then proceed to think that it is done.

4 Who but yourself evaluates a threat, decides escape is necessary, and sets up a series of defenses to reduce the threat that has been judged as real? All this cannot be done unconsciously. But afterwards your plan requires that you must forget you made it, so it seems to be external to your own intent-a happening beyond your state of mind, an outcome with a real effect on you instead of one effected by your self.

5 It is this quick forgetting of the part you play in making your "reality" which makes defenses seem to be beyond your own control. But what you have forgot can be remembered, given willingness to reconsider the decision which is doubly shielded by oblivion. Your not remembering is but the sign that this decision still remains in force as far as your desires are concerned.

6 Mistake this not for fact. Defenses must make facts unrecognizable. They aim at doing this, and this they seem to do. Every defense takes fragments of the whole, assembles them without regard to all their true relationships, and thus constructs illusions of a whole which is not there. It is this process which imposes threat, and not whatever outcome may result.

7 When parts are wrested from the whole and seen as separate and wholes within themselves, they become symbols standing for attack upon the whole, successful in effect, and never to be seen as whole again. And yet you have forgotten that they stand but for your own decision of what should be real, to take the place of what is real.

8 Sickness is a decision. It is not a thing that happens to you quite unsought, which makes you weak and brings you suffering. It is a choice you make, a plan you lay when for an instant truth arises in your own deluded mind and all your world appears to totter and prepare to fall. Now are you sick that truth may go away and threaten your establishments no more.

9 How do you think that sickness can succeed in shielding you from truth? Because it proves the body is not separate from you, and so you must be separate from the truth. You suffer pain because the body does, and in this pain are you made one with it. Thus is your "true" identity preserved and the strange, haunting thought that you might be something beyond this little pile of dust silenced and stilled. For see, this dust can make you suffer, twist your limbs, and stop your heart, commanding you to die and cease to be.

10 Thus is the body stronger than the truth, which asks you live but cannot overcome your choice to die. And so the body is more powerful than everlasting life, Heaven more frail than hell, and God's design for the salvation of His Son opposed by a decision stronger than His Will. His Son is dust, the Father incomplete, and chaos sits in triumph on His throne.

11 Such is your planning for your own defense. And you believe that Heaven quails before such mad attacks as these, with God made blind by your illusions, truth turned into lies, and all the universe made slave to laws which your defenses would impose on it. Yet who believes illusions but the one who made them up? Who else can see them and react to them as if they were the truth?

12 God knows not of your plans to change His Will. The universe remains unheeding of the laws by which you thought to govern it. And Heaven has not bowed to hell, nor life to death. You can but choose to think you die or suffer sickness or distort the truth in any way. What is created is apart from all of this. Defenses are plans to defeat what cannot be attacked. What is unalterable cannot change. And what is wholly sinless cannot sin.

13 Such is the simple truth. It does not make appeal to might nor triumph. It does not command obedience nor seek to prove how pitiful and futile are your attempts to plan defenses which would alter it. It merely wants to give you happiness, for such its purpose is. Perhaps it sighs a little when you throw away its gifts, and yet it knows with perfect certainty that what God wills for you must be received.

14 It is this fact which demonstrates that time is an illusion. For it lets you think what God has given you is not the truth right now, as it must be. The Thoughts of God are quite apart from time. For time is but another meaningless defense you made against the truth. Yet what God wills is here, and you remain as He created you.

15 Truth has a power far beyond defense, for no illusions can remain where it has been allowed to enter. And it comes to any mind that would lay down its arms and cease to play with folly. It is found at any time-today, if you will choose to practice giving welcome to the truth. This is our aim today. And we will give a quarter of an hour twice to ask the truth to come to us and set us free.

16 And truth will come, for it has never been apart from us. It merely waits for just this invitation which we give today. We introduce it with a healing prayer to help us rise above defensiveness and let truth be as it has always been:

17 Sickness is a defense against the truth. I will accept the truth of what I am and let my mind be wholly healed today.

18 Healing will flash across your open mind as peace and truth arise to take the place of war and vain imaginings. There will be no dark corners sickness can conceal and keep defended from the light of truth. There will be no dim figures from your dreams nor their obscure and meaningless pursuits with double purposes insanely sought, remaining in your mind. It will be healed of all the sickly wishes that it tried to authorize the body to obey.

19 Now is the body healed because the source of sickness has been opened to relief. And you will recognize you practiced well by this-the body should not feel at all. If you have been successful, there will be no sense of feeling ill or feeling well, of pain or pleasure. No response at all is in the mind to what the body does. Its usefulness remains and nothing more.

20 Perhaps you do not realize that this removes the limits you had placed upon the body by the purposes you gave to it. As these are laid aside, the strength the body has will always be enough to serve all truly useful purposes. The body's health is fully guaranteed because it is not limited by time, by weather or fatigue, by food and drink, or any laws you made it serve before. You need do nothing now to make it well, for sickness has become impossible.

21 Yet this protection needs to be preserved by careful watching. If you let your mind harbor attack thoughts, yield to judgment, or make plans against uncertainties to come, you have again misplaced yourself, and made a bodily identity which will attack the body, for the mind is sick. Give instant remedy should this occur by not allowing your defensiveness to hurt you longer. Do not be confused about what must be healed, but tell yourself:

22 I have forgotten what I really am, for I mistook my body for myself. Sickness is a defense against the truth, but I am not a body. And my mind cannot attack. So I can not be sick.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 136
Sickness is a defense against the truth.

Following yesterday's Lesson about the way we defend ourselves against future possibilities through our planning, we are told in this Lesson that we also defend ourselves against the truth by being sick. The purpose of sickness is to hide the truth, attack and distort reality, (W.136.2.3) and prove that we are actually bodies. "You suffer pain because the body does, and in this pain are you made one with it." (W.136.8.3) As more truth dawns on our mind, the ego becomes more threatened. This is again a very long Lesson and very important but can be difficult to understand. Each year that I study the Course, more glimmers of understanding come through; although sometimes, it is still a struggle. It does not qualify as easy reading! What has been helpful for me in getting this Lesson is to see that anything in the illusion that I still have an investment in is a defense against the truth.
 
So, yes, while sickness is a defense, so is judgment, anger, jealousy, perfectionism, withdrawal, arrogance, specialness, depression, victimhood, and on and on. In other words, whenever we engage in anything in the illusion, believing in its reality, we are keeping love at bay. We are saying that what is real is whatever we are holding in our thoughts and thus God's Love can't be real. This is because these states are mutually exclusive. We are either choosing Heaven or hell, a grievance or forgiveness. The ego is all about keeping us invested in the illusion. Sickness is a way to do just that. I know that when I am sick, the body is very much at the forefront of my focus. I identify with my sick body as what I am. A sick body is a demonstration of our vulnerability. In fact, Jesus tells us, "It is a witness to your frailty, your vulnerability, and your extreme need to depend on external guidance." (T.8.VIII.6.2) (ACIM OE T.8.VIII.76) We certainly experience this to be the case when we are sick and seek outside ourselves for respite.
 
This is the purpose sickness seems to serve, but it is a purpose that has no meaning because Jesus tells us that sickness is causeless. "For then he understands as well its purpose has no meaning. Being causeless and without a meaningful intent of any kind, it cannot be at all." (W.136.1.2-3) If the sin in the mind can be said to be the cause of sickness, and sin has no reality, then the effect (sickness) can't have any reality. It must be an illusion. Sickness can't be real since it is caused by a false belief in the mind. Another way to look at this is: Because the separation from God never happened, everything, including sickness, is an illusion. "When this is seen, healing is automatic ." (W.136.1.4) This tells us that healing is not of the body. Only the mind's false belief in sin and guilt is what needs to be healed.
 
Guilt is projected onto the body, and the body becomes sick. Now we believe that there is a problem in the body. This is why Jesus says, "Like all defenses, it is an insane device for self-deception ." (W.136.2.2) We are deceived into believing that sickness is in the body and not the mind. We are further deceived into believing we are a body. Thus, it works effectively as a defense against the truth and hides and distorts reality. "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." (W.136.2.1-3)
 
We believe that there are things that happen to us in the world over which we have no control. We look for the cause outside ourselves. Jesus says, "Sickness is a decision. It is not a thing that happens to you, quite unsought, which makes you weak and brings you suffering." (W.136.7.1-2) It does not seem to us that we have made a decision to be sick. Apparently, this decision is made so quickly that we don't even notice how and when it was made. It is a decision to turn to the ego to protect us from the truth because truth threatens the beliefs that we hold about ourselves.
 
You may actually notice that, as you get closer to the truth, you experience more headaches, drowsiness, hunger, asthma attacks, stomach pains, back aches, nausea, or other kinds of bodily distress. You may also experience some kind of accident or financial setback. The ego will set up all kinds of defenses to protect itself against the truth. It is threatened by truth and wants to remind us that we are bodies. The purpose of the ego is to constantly keep us rooted in the body, which the ego sees as its home. As long as we are identified with the body, we are aligned with the ego.
 
We can get quite distraught, if not outraged, to be told that to be sick is a choice we make. It is disconcerting to be told sickness is not something that happens to us but a decision we have made. "Now are you sick, that truth may go away and threaten your establishments no more." (W.136.7.4) Did I choose this sickness, suffering, and pain? Isn't my body just making me suffer? We think that the cause is outside the mind and that we are just the effect of it. Why is it hard to believe that I could be sick by my own choice? As this Lesson tells us, the reason is that our decision is ". . . doubly shielded by oblivion ." (W.136.5.2)
 
While defenses seem to be unconscious, they are actually made with our awareness. "Defenses are not unintentional, nor are they made without awareness. They are secret, magic wands you wave when truth appears to threaten what you would believe. They seem to be unconscious but because of the rapidity with which you choose to use them." (W.136.3.1-3) This happens so quickly that we forget. Our forgetting is the first shield of oblivion. Then we forget that we chose to forget, which is the second shield. So you can see how well-protected this defense is, and why, after all this forgetting, we believe sickness is something that just happens to us and is beyond our control. "It is this quick forgetting of the part you play in making your 'reality' that makes defenses seem to be beyond your own control." (W.136.5.1) Through our forgetting, we are protecting our individuality and seeing the problem outside of us.
 
In order to change this, we need to be willing to reconsider the decision to be sick. "But what you forgot can be remembered, given willingness to reconsider the decision which is doubly shielded by oblivion." (W.136.5.2) We can't reconsider the decision if we don't know we made it. We deny our part in making this decision to prove: we are bodies, we are separate from the truth, and we can defeat God by saying that we exist, and He does not. While we believe in what we made, it does not change our reality as God's Son. We are still as we were created. Our identity as a separate individual can't be the truth about us.
 
I remember, as a very young child in Sweden, living in a refugee camp and feeling vulnerable and unprotected. I made a deliberate choice to always and only rely on myself. I did not realize this until my adult years when I recognized, through meditation, what I had done. I had actually made a conscious decision to push God out and rely solely on myself, but then I forgot this decision, though it ruled my life. I decided that the adults in my life were unreliable and undependable. In my judgment, they could not be trusted. It was what prompted my decision to move God off His throne and take authority over my own life. We have all made these kinds of decisions, albeit we have not always recalled them. The fact is that we have all made the decision for our separation from God. My recollection of this decision as a child was just a replay of the original decision. We still make this same decision over and over every time we choose to side with the separate self that seems to be independent of God.
 
However, our decisions do not change the truth about ourselves or about God. "What is unalterable cannot change. And what is wholly sinless cannot sin ." (W.136.11.7-8) "Such is the simple truth. It does not make appeal to might nor triumph. It does not command obedience, nor seek to prove how pitiful and futile your attempts to plan defenses that would alter it." (W.136.12.1-3) The Holy Spirit is the symbol of the love of God in our right minds and is always shining His light. He never demands anything from us nor diminishes us in any way, waiting only for our decision to accept the truth about ourselves. All "Truth merely wants to give you happiness, for such its purpose is." (W.136.12.4) When we see our way is not the way to happiness, we will want to do what is required on behalf of our own happiness. "Defenses are plans to defeat what cannot be attacked." (W.136.11.6) It is a futile plan to defeat God. Yes, we can choose to think that we suffer and die, but it is not God’s Will, and "God knows not of your plans to change His Will." (136.11.1)
 
God does not fight our decisions but simply waits for us to change our minds. It is interesting to read that God sighs at the futility of our efforts to struggle on our own. Of course, this is just a metaphor, as God does not sigh, but it is a statement of the futility of the struggle that we seem to need to go through. We think that we can be sick and that we can die, but it isn't the truth. Yes, we can believe it, but it makes no difference to our reality. Our attempts at throwing away our gifts are really futile because Heaven will wait patiently for us to awaken to the truth, knowing ". . . with perfect certainty, that what God wills for you must be received," (W.136.12.5) and we will awaken because ". . . what He wills is here, and you remain as He created you." (W.136.13.5) It is reassuring to know that what God wills for us must be received, as we are part of Him. We are a Thought in the mind of God, outside of time. There is nothing we need do to earn our way back to God because nothing has come between us and our Source. We are at home in God now. We just don't know it.
 
Our part is to watch our thoughts and bring our illusions to the truth. We can only be victims of attacks on ourselves by our own mistaken decisions. The purpose of the body is to keep us invested in thinking that we are this limited self, but we can make another choice. To do so, we must be vigilant in watching how the thoughts of sin, guilt, and fear are showing up in our lives. All our beliefs and values must be questioned. All our defenses must be brought to light. Jesus tells us, "And you will recognize you practiced well by this: The body should not feel at all. If you have been successful, there will be no sense of feeling ill or feeling well, of pain or pleasure. No response at all is in the mind to what the body does. Its usefulness remains and nothing more." (W.136.17.2-5) This is a state of recognizing the Self as unlimited. We are not the body at all. There is no body in the experience of the holy instant. The body only exists in the past and the future. When we join with the love in our minds and guilt is released, there is no awareness of the body. "At no single instant does the body exist at all . It is always remembered or anticipated, but never experienced just now ." (T.18.VII.3.1) (ACIM OE T.18.VIII.65) It is an instant of experiencing only love and peace, rather than the demands of the body.
 
Jesus is saying that when sin, fear, and guilt have been removed from the mind, there is nothing to project except the love and innocence within. There is then only the love of God in our minds, outside the dream. The body is a figure in the dream and actually does not exist except as a projection of the mind. Until we know our reality outside this dream, the body can be a classroom in which we can always be reminded of where the real pain is and of where the real joy is---in our minds. When we no longer identify with the body as the limited self, the body ' s health is assured. Though there may still be the appearance of sickness, it does not affect the peace in the mind.
 
However, it is important to remember not to punish and attack ourselves if we do get sick. In fact, it may be a sign that we are making progress on this path and getting closer to truth, which is anathema to the ego. Or we may be experiencing stress and frustration in our lives and then sickness shows up. Staying vigilant about noticing thoughts of anger, despair, discouragement, jealousies, specialness, comparison, or whatever else shows up, is important so we can put these thoughts and feelings on the inner altar to be healed. Our part is not to deny what we are feeling, but when we become aware of a disturbance in the mind, we simply bring it to the truth. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. Do not listen to the ego that tells you to deny or repress your feelings or to try to fix your thinking. The ego knows nothing. Always remember to turn to the Holy Spirit and leave the healing to Him.
 
Separation was the way down the ladder into the darkness of this world and miracles are the way back. Jesus reassures us that once we start on this path, the way is made simple and serene. The only thing that maintains the dream is our choice for the ego as our teacher. It will never show us the way to happiness. And yes, it will get more vicious as we get closer to the truth because its existence depends on our allegiance to its thought system.
 
Truth will never be thrust on us but only waits on our welcome. Isn't that beautiful? There is no coercion. Power does not need to be coercive. We are called to be a demonstration of the truth, without proselytizing it to anyone. It is all for our own awakening, based on our own Call. Everyone will eventually arrive at this place when they are ready. When life becomes sufficiently painful, everyone becomes more motivated to join the great crusade. Everyone will eventually come to this decision.
 
Ask the truth to come to you and set you free today, and truth will come for it has never been apart from you. Start with the healing prayer, "Sickness is a defense against the truth. I will accept the truth of what I am, and let my mind be wholly healed today ." (W.136.15.6‑7)
 
"Yet this protection needs to be preserved by careful watching. If you let your mind harbor attack thoughts, yield to judgment or make plans against uncertainties to come, you have again misplaced yourself, and made a bodily identity which will attack the body, for the mind is sick." (W.136.19.1-2) This is our function in healing our minds, which is to watch our thoughts of separation and to take notice of our defenses. Ask for help to let these thoughts go so you won't keep hurting yourself with thoughts of self-attack. If thoughts are to be healed, we must become aware of them. Keeping them in the dark keeps our defenses intact. "Defenses are not unintentional, nor are they made without awareness. They are secret, magic wands you wave when truth appears to threaten what you would believe. They seem to be unconscious, but because of the rapidity with which you choose to use them." (W.136.3.1-3)
 
"Do not be confused about what must be healed , [which is the mind's decision for the ego] but tell yourself:
 
" I have forgotten what I really am, for I mistook my body for myself. Sickness is a defense against the truth. But I am not a body. And my mind cannot attack. So I cannot be sick ." (W.136.20.2-7)
 
Love and Blessings, Sarah

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