"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
Herein Lies the peace of God."
Course in Miracles
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The Body and the Dream
VIII. The Illusion of Suffering
Suffering is an emphasis upon all that the world has done to injure you. Here is the world's demented version of salvation clearly shown. Like to a dream of punishment in which the dreamer is unconscious of what brought on the attack against himself, he sees himself attacked unjustly and by something not himself. He is the victim of this "something else," a thing outside himself for which he has no reason to be held responsible. He must be innocent because he knows not what he does, but what is done to him. Yet is his own attack upon himself apparent still, for it is he who bears the suffering. And he cannot escape because its source is seen outside himself.
Now you are being shown you
escape. All that is needed is you look upon the problem as it
and not the way that you have set it up. How could there be another way to solve a problem which is very simple but has been obscured by heavy clouds of complication which were made to
the problem unresolved? Without the clouds, the problem will emerge in all its primitive simplicity. The choice will not be difficult, because the problem is absurd when clearly seen. No one has difficulty making up his mind to let a simple problem be resolved if it is
as hurting him and also very easily removed.
The "reasoning" by which the world is made, on which it rests, by which it is maintained, is simply this: "
are the cause of what I do. Your presence
my wrath, and you exist and think
from me. While you attack, I must be innocent. And what I suffer from is your attack." No one who looks upon this "reasoning" exactly as it is could fail to see it does not follow, and it makes no sense. Yet it seems sensible because it
as if the world were hurting you. And so it seems as if there is no need to go beyond the obvious in terms of cause.
a need. The world's escape from condemnation is a need which those within the world are joined in sharing. Yet they do not recognize their common need. For each one thinks that if he does his part, the condemnation of the world will rest on him. And it is this that he perceives to
his part in its deliverance. Vengeance must have a focus. Otherwise is the avenger's knife in his own hand and pointed to himself. And he must see it in another's hand if he would be a victim of attack he did not choose. And thus he suffers from the wounds a knife he does not hold has made upon himself. This is the
of the world he sees. And looked at thus, the world provides the means by which this purpose seems to be fulfilled.
the purpose but are not themselves a cause. Nor will the cause be changed by seeing it apart from its effects. The cause
the effects which then bear witness to the cause and not themselves. Look, then, beyond effects. It is not here the cause of suffering and sin must lie. And dwell not on the suffering and sin, for they are but reflections of their cause.
The part you play in salvaging the world from condemnation is your
escape. Forget not that the witness to the world of evil cannot speak except for what has seen a need for evil in the world. And this is where your guilt was first beheld. In separation from your brother was the first attack upon yourself begun. And it is this the world bears witness to. Seek not another cause nor look among the mighty legions of its witnesses for its undoing. They
its claim on your allegiance. What conceals the truth is not where you should look to
the truth. The witnesses to sin all stand within one little space. And it is
you find the cause of your perspective on the world.
Once you were unaware of what the cause of everything the world appeared to thrust upon you, uninvited and unasked, must really be. Of one thing you were sure—of all the many causes you perceived as bringing pain and suffering to you, your guilt was not among them. Nor did you in any way request them for yourself. This is how
illusions come about. The one who makes them does not see himself as making them, and their reality does not depend on him. Whatever cause they have is something quite apart from him, and what he sees is
from his mind. He cannot doubt his dreams' reality because he does not see the part he plays in making them and making them seem real.
No one can waken from a dream the world is dreaming
him. He becomes a part of someone else's dream. He cannot choose to waken from a dream he did not make. Helpless he stands, a victim to a dream conceived and cherished by a separate mind. Careless indeed of him this mind must be, as thoughtless of his peace and happiness as is the weather or the time of day. It loves him not but casts him as it will in any role that satisfies its dream. So little is his worth that he is but a dancing shadow, leaping up and down according to a senseless plot conceived within the idle dreaming of the world.
This is the only picture you can see, the one alternative that you can choose, the other possibility of cause if you be
the dreamer of your dreams. And this is what you choose, if you deny the cause of suffering is in
mind. Be glad indeed it is, for thus are you the
decider of your destiny in time. The choice is yours to make between a sleeping death and dreams of evil or a happy wakening and joy of life. What could you choose between
life or death, waking or sleeping, peace or war, your dreams or your reality? Yet if the choice is really given you, then you must see the causes of the things you choose between exactly
they are and
they are. What choices can be made between two states, but one of which is clearly recognized? Who could be free to choose between effects when only one is seen as up to him?
An honest choice could never be perceived as one in which the choice is split between a tiny you and an enormous world, with different dreams about the truth in you. The gap between reality and dreams lies not between the dreaming of the world and what you dream in secret.
are one. The dreaming of the world is but a part of your own dream you gave away and saw as if it were its start and ending both. Yet was it started by
secret dream, which you do not perceive, although it caused the part you see and do not doubt is real. How could you doubt it while you lie asleep and dream in secret that its cause is real?
A brother separated from yourself, an ancient enemy, a murderer who stalks you in the night and plots your death, yet plans that it be lingering and slow—of this you dream. Yet underneath this dream is yet another in which you become the murderer, the secret enemy, the scavenger and the destroyer of your brother and the world alike. Here is the
of suffering, the space between your dreams and your reality. The little gap you do not even see, the birthplace of illusions and of fear, the time of terror and of ancient hate, the instant of disaster, all are here. Here is the
of unreality. And it is here that it will be undone.
are the dreamer of the world of dreams. No other cause it has, nor ever will. Nothing more fearful than an idle dream has terrified God's Son and made him think that he has lost his innocence, denied his Father, and made war upon himself. So fearful is the dream, so seeming real, he could not waken to reality without the sweat of terror and a scream of mortal fear unless a gentler dream preceded his awaking and allowed his calmer mind to welcome, not to fear, the Voice that calls with love to waken him. [A gentler dream, in which his suffering was healed and where his brother was his friend.] God willed he waken gently and with joy. And gave him means to waken without fear. Accept the dream He gave instead of yours. It is not difficult to change a dream when once the dreamer has been recognized.
Rest in the Holy Spirit and allow His gentle dreams to take the place of those you dreamed in terror and in fear of death. He brings forgiving dreams in which the choice is not who is the murderer and who shall be the victim. In the dreams He brings, there
no murder and there
no death. The dream of guilt is fading from your sight, although your eyes are closed. A smile has come to lighten up your sleeping face. The sleep is peaceful now, for these are happy dreams.
Dream softly of your sinless brother, who unites with you in holy innocence. And from this dream, the Lord of Heaven will Himself awaken His beloved Son. Dream of your brother's kindnesses instead of dwelling in your dreams on his mistakes. Select his thoughtfulness to dream about instead of counting up the hurts he gave. Forgive him his illusions and give thanks to him for all the helpfulness he gave. And do not brush aside his many gifts because he is not perfect in your dreams.
He represents his Father, Whom you see as offering both life and death to you. Brother, He gives but life. Yet what you see as gifts your brother offers represent the gifts you dream your Father gives to you. Let all your brother's gifts be seen in light of charity and kindness offered you. And let no pain disturb your dream of deep appreciation for his gifts to you.
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A Course in Miracles
What is the Real World?
The real world is a symbol like the rest of what perception offers. Yet it stands for what is opposite to what you made. Your world is seen through eyes of fear and brings the witnesses of terror to your mind. The real world cannot be perceived except through eyes forgiveness blesses, so they see a world where terror is impossible and witnesses to fear can not be found.
The real world holds a counterpart for each unhappy thought reflected in your world, a sure correction for the sights of fear and sounds of battle which your world contains. The real world shows a world seen differently, through quiet eyes and with a mind at peace. Nothing but rest is there. There are no cries of pain and sorrow heard, for nothing here remains outside forgiveness. And the sights are gentle. Only happy sights and sounds can reach the mind that has forgiven itself.
What need has such a mind for thoughts of death, attack, and murder? What can it perceive surrounding it but safety, love, and joy? What is there it would choose to be condemned, and what is there that it would judge against? The world it sees arises from a mind at peace within itself. No danger lurks in anything it sees, for it is kind and only kindness does it look upon.
The real world is the symbol that the dream of sin and guilt is over and God's Son no longer sleeps. His waking eyes perceive the sure reflection of his Father's Love, the certain promise that he is redeemed. The real world signifies the end of time, for its perception makes time purposeless.
The Holy Spirit has no need of time when it has served His purpose. Now He waits but that one instant more for God to take His final step, and time has disappeared, taking perception with it as it goes and leaving but the Truth to be Itself. That instant is our goal, for it contains the memory of God. And as we look upon a world forgiven, it is He Who calls to us and comes to take us home, reminding us of our Identity which our forgiveness has restored to us.
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A Course in Miracles
My body is a wholly neutral thing.
I am a Son of God. And can I be another thing as well? Did God create the mortal and corruptible? What use has God's beloved Son for what must die? And yet a neutral thing does not see death, for thoughts of fear are not invested there, nor is a mockery of love bestowed upon it. Its neutrality protects it while it has a use. And afterwards, without a purpose, it is laid aside. It is not sick or old or hurt. It is but functionless, unneeded and cast off. Let me not see it more than this today—of service for a while and fit to serve, to keep its usefulness while it can serve, and then to be replaced for greater good.
My body, Father, cannot be Your Son. And what is not created cannot be sinful or sinless, neither good nor bad. Let me, then, use this dream to help Your plan that we awaken from all dreams we made.
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My body is a wholly neutral thing.
Most of us have a relationship with our body of either loving it or hating it or loving and hating parts of it. Yet Jesus says that the body is neither good nor bad. (W.294.2.2) In fact, it is just an instrument---a communication device---and like everything else in our world, it can be put to a useful purpose. What is it for? What use might we put it to? Will it be given to the ego for its use or used for a holy purpose by the Holy Spirit?
This Lesson says that God did not create what is mortal and corruptible, which tells us that He did not create the body. Yet the body can serve the purpose of supporting our awakening. And when we awaken, its usefulness is over, and it can simply be laid down. Thus, it can be of service for a while and
"then to be replaced for greater good."
The important thing is to come to the recognition that the body is not what we are. It was not created by God,
"And what is not created cannot be sinful nor sinless; neither good nor bad."
(W.294.2.2) It is simply a useful tool for a while.
We are, however, urged to
"use this dream
to help Your plan
[the plan of the Holy Spirit]
that we awaken from all dreams we made."
(W.294.2.3) The body is useful as a vehicle to extend the message of love to our brothers and sisters. When in the service of the Holy Spirit, the body becomes a means and not an end in itself. It is also a useful indicator as a witness to what is in the mind as it can inform us in ways that our thinking mind cannot. As such, it is not helpful to deny what we are seeing or what we are feeling. Without this witness, we would not see what is in our minds to be forgiven.
As we commit to forgiveness, we increasingly recognize that our reality is a mind and with it, our identification with the body is loosened. When our main focus is the body, we remain vigilant of its care and protection, and we fear what can go wrong with it. When we mistakenly think that the body is what we are, we become very concerned about its well-being. This is not to say we should not pay attention to taking care of the body, as to do our function requires that we keep it serviceable. We can take care of the body and still keep God in the forefront of our minds. For me, being in the shower, for example, is a wonderful place to allow the mind to be washed of any concerns and to set the direction for the day. It is not important what the body is doing, but it is important where the mind is in the doing.
"And yet a neutral thing does not see death, for thoughts of fear are not invested there, nor is a mockery of love bestowed upon it."
(W.294.1.5) This is an interesting thought, which basically says that guilt and fear, projected on the body, bring the experience of sickness and death. Without guilt, we would not fear death. Yes, the body would die and decay, but it would not be experienced as punishment. It would be simply laid down when our journey of forgiveness is complete.
"This is what death should be; a quiet choice, made joyfully and with a sense of peace, because the body has been kindly used to help the Son of God along the way he goes to God. We thank the body, then, for all the service it has given us."
(Song Of Prayer.3.II.2)
We may love the body because it is working well for us. We may like its appearance and what and who it attracts into our lives. We dress it up and we love aspects of it. It may be particularly strong or healthy, and we may find the body functions well for us so we think it is pretty good, but it is still a mockery of who we are as pure love. It is symbolic of the sin that has been accepted into the mind, although buried in the unconscious, and now seen all around us.
"The mind that thinks it is a sin has but one purpose; that the body be the source of sin, to keep it in the prison house it chose and guards and holds itself at bay, a sleeping prisoner to the snarling dogs of hate and evil, sickness and attack; of pain and age, of grief and suffering."
(T.31.III.5.1) (ACIM OE T.31.III.30)
"My body, Father, cannot be Your Son. And what is not created cannot be sinful nor sinless; neither good nor bad."
(W.294.2.1-2) We are being asked to recognize that, although the body is corruptible, it is not who we are. We are eternal.
"And afterwards, without a purpose, it is laid aside."
There are several passages in the Course that speak of our hatred for the body when it is not used as a tool for purposes of awakening. We are right to question why a loving Father would create that which is corruptible and has a short lifespan with intervening years of suffering and pain. This is simply not consistent with Who our Father is. If He has the power to create only what is perfect, why would His power not be used for only that? To create such corruptibility, as bodies in a decaying, destructible world, cannot be conceived as coming from a loving Creator. Thus, it is not possible that God could be the source of our bodies and this world. The image of a god made by the ego is the source of all this.
In the experience of the real world, we know ourselves as eternal. Our Identity is restored to us through forgiveness. Forgiveness is the means by which we cross the bridge from this world to the real world. Jesus reminds us,
"Temptation has one lesson it would teach, in all its forms, wherever it occurs. It would persuade the holy Son of God he is a body, born in what must die, unable to escape its frailty, and bound by what it orders him to feel. It sets the limits on what he can do; Its power is the only strength he has; his grasp cannot exceed its tiny reach. Would you be this, if Christ appeared to you in all His glory, asking you but this:
Choose again if you would take your place among the saviors of the world, or would remain in hell, and hold your brothers there.
come, and He
(T.31.VIII.1.1-6) (ACIM OE T.31.VIII.83)
He tells us not to fear temptation but to see it as an opportunity to choose again. In every difficulty, Christ calls to us to make this choice. It is just another chance to remember who we are. When we make this choice, the Holy Spirit does all the heavy lifting for us. Trying to do anything on our own to change ourselves is not helpful. In fact, it is just an intrusion on His role. Let His strength prevail. Let His Will be done.
Tomorrow morning, as I go to have my shower, wash my body, dress it up, paint the lips, and highlight the hair, I will remember that the body's urges, its requirements, its demands for food, pleasure, and rest can all be seen as just tuning up an instrument to be neither loved nor hated but used for His purposes. In that is its perfect protection. Jesus asks for our hands, our eyes, and our feet to be used in his service of being truly helpful. As the prayer in Chapter 2 reminds us, in each and every encounter:
"I am here only to be truly helpful
I am here to represent Him who sent me.
I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do,
because He Who sent me will direct me.
I am content to be wherever He wishes, knowing
He goes there with me.
I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal."
(T.2.V.A.18.2-6) (ACIM OE T.4.IX.106)
It is interesting that Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford, who brought the Course into the world, both left their bodies not long after the Course was published. Helen wrote down the Course starting in 1965 and finished it in 1972. She died in 1981, while Bill continued on with the teaching and then left his body in 1988. Helen was 72 and Bill 65 at the time of their deaths. It seems that when our function is completed here on earth, there is no reason to continue on. Of course, we don't know the state of their minds at death, but the day before he died, Bill Thetford said that he felt his function was finished and that he had forgiven everyone. The next day he left his body.
While the body is not made by love, it can be lovingly used as an instrument for healing. It is not to be denied while we still believe in its reality. It is still a useful witness to our state of mind. The people that trigger us are the gifts that help us return to the holy Self we are.
Love and blessings, Sarah
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