"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
Herein Lies the peace of God."
Course in Miracles
The Journey Back
VIII. The Body As Means or End
Attitudes toward the body are attitudes toward
. The ego's definitions of
are childish and always based on what it believes a thing is
. This is because it is incapable of true generalizations and equates what it sees with the function
ascribes to it. It does
equate it with what it
. To the ego, the body is to
with the body, it teaches that
are to attack with, because this is what it believes. The body, then, is not the source of its own health. The body's condition lies solely in your interpretation of its function.
The reason why definitions in terms of function are inferior is that they may well be inaccurate. Functions are part of being since they arise from it, but the relationship is not reciprocal. The whole
define the part, but the part does
define the whole. This is as true of knowledge as it is of perception. The reason to
in part is to know
is because of the fundamental
between knowledge and perception. In perception the whole is built up of parts, which
separate and reassemble in different constellations. Knowledge never changes, so
constellation is permanent. The only areas in which part-whole relationships have
meaning are those in which change is possible. There
no difference between the whole and the part where change is impossible.
The body exists in a world which
to contain two voices which are fighting for its possession. In this perceived constellation, the body is regarded as capable of shifting its control from one to the other, making the concept of both health
sickness possible. The ego makes a fundamental confusion between means and ends, as it always does. Regarding the body as an end, the ego has no
use for it because it is
an end. You must have noticed an outstanding characteristic of every end that the ego has accepted as its own. When you have achieved it,
it has not satisfied you
. This is why the ego is forced to shift from one end to another without ceasing, so that
will continue to hope that it can yet offer you something.
It has been particularly difficult to overcome the ego's belief in the body as an end, because this is synonymous with the belief in
as an end. The ego has a real
in sickness. If you are sick, how can you
to the ego's firm belief that you are
invulnerable? This is a particularly appealing argument from the ego's point of view because it obscures the obvious
which underlies the sickness. If you accepted
and also decided
attack, you could not give this false witness to the ego's stand.
It is hard to perceive sickness
a false witness because you do not realize that it
entirely out of keeping with what you want. This witness, then,
to be innocent and trustworthy because you have not seriously cross-examined him. If you did, you would not consider sickness such a strong witness on behalf of the ego's views.
A more honest statement would be as follows: Those who
the ego are predisposed to defend it. Therefore, their choice of witnesses should be suspect from the beginning. The ego does not call upon witnesses who would disagree with its case,
nor does the Holy Spirit
. We have said that judgment
the function of the Holy Spirit and one which He is perfectly equipped to fulfill. The ego as a judge gives anything
an impartial judgment. When the ego calls on a witness, it has
made the witness an ally.
It is still true that the body has no function of itself, because it is
an end. The ego, however, establishes it
an end because as such it will lose its
function. This is the purpose of
the ego does. Its sole aim is to lose sight of the function of everything. A sick body does not make any
not make sense, because sickness is not what the body is
. Sickness is meaningful only if the two basic premises on which the ego's interpretation of the body rests are true. Specifically, these are that the body is for attack and that you
a body. Without these premises, sickness is completely inconceivable.
Sickness is a way of demonstrating that
you can be hurt
. It is a witness to your frailty, your vulnerability, and your extreme need to depend on
guidance. The ego uses this as its best argument for your need for
guidance. It dictates endless prescriptions for
catastrophic outcomes. The Holy Spirit, perfectly aware of the same data, does not bother to analyze them at all. If the data are meaningless, there is no point in considering them. The function of truth is to collect data which are
. There is no point in trying to make sense out of meaningless data.
way you handle them results in nothing. The more complicated the results become, the harder it may be to recognize their nothingness, but it is not necessary to examine
possible outcomes to which premises give rise to judge them truly.
A learning device is
cannot tell you how
do not know how you feel because you have
the ego's confusion, and
think that a learning device
tell you how you feel. Sickness is merely another example of your insistence on asking the guidance of a teacher
who does not know the answer
. The ego is
of knowing how you feel. When we said that the ego does not know
, we said the one thing about the ego that
wholly true. But there
a corollary; if knowledge is being and the ego has no knowledge, then the ego has no
You might well ask how the voice of something which does not exist can be so insistent. Have you seriously considered the distorting power of something you
, even if it is
true? You have had many instances of how what you want can distort what you see and hear. No one can doubt the ego's skill in building up false cases. Nor can anyone doubt your willingness to listen until
will not to tolerate anything
lay the ego aside, it will be gone. The Holy Spirit's Voice is as loud as your willingness to listen. It cannot be louder without violating your will, which the Holy Spirit seeks to free but
The Holy Spirit teaches you to use your body
to reach your brothers, so He can teach His message
you. This will heal them and
. Everything used in accordance with its function as the Holy Spirit sees it
be sick. Everything used otherwise
Do not allow the body to be a mirror of a split mind. Do not let it be an image of your own perception of littleness. Do not let it reflect your will to attack. Health is the natural state of anything whose interpretation is left to the Holy Spirit, Who perceives no attack on anything. Health is the result of relinquishing
attempts to use the body lovelessly. Health is the beginning of the proper perspective on life under the guidance of the one Teacher Who knows what life
, being the Voice for Life Itself.
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A Course in Miracles
I am One Self, united with my Creator.
Today's idea accurately describes you as God created you. You are one within yourself and one with Him. Yours is the unity of all creation. Your perfect unity makes change in you impossible. You do not accept this and you fail to realize it must be so, only because you believe that you have changed yourself already. You see yourself as a ridiculous parody on God's creation—weak, vicious, ugly and sinful, miserable and beset with pain.
Such is your version of yourself—a self divided into many warring parts, separate from God, and tenuously held together by its erratic and capricious maker, to which you pray. It does not hear your prayers, for it is deaf. It does not see the oneness in you, for it is blind. It does not understand you are the Son of God, for it is senseless and understands nothing.
We will attempt today to be aware of only what can hear and see and what makes perfect sense. We will again direct our exercises towards reaching your One Self, which is united with its Creator. In patience and in hope we try again today.
The use of the first five minutes of every waking hour for practicing the idea for the day has special advantages at the stage of learning in which you are at present. It is difficult at this point not to allow your mind to wander if it undertakes extended attempts. You have surely realized this by now. You have seen the extent of your lack of mental discipline and of your need for mind training. It is necessary that you be aware of this, for it is indeed a hindrance to your advance.
Frequent but shorter practice periods have other advantages for you at this time. In addition to recognizing your difficulties with sustained attention, you must also have noticed that, unless you are reminded of your purpose frequently, you tend to forget about it for long periods of time. You often fail to remember the short applications of the idea for the day, and you have not yet formed the habit of using it as an automatic response to temptation.
Structure, then, is necessary for you at this time, planned to include frequent reminders of your goal and regular attempts to reach it. Regularity in terms of time is not the ideal requirement for the most beneficial form of practice in salvation. It is advantageous, however, for those whose motivation is inconsistent and who remain heavily defended against learning.
We will therefore keep to the five minutes an hour practice periods for a while and urge you to omit as few as possible. Using the first five minutes of the hour will be particularly helpful since it imposes firmer structure. Do not, however, use your lapses from this schedule as an excuse not to return to it again as soon as you can.
There may well be a temptation to regard the day as lost because you have already failed to do what is required. This should, however, merely be recognized as what it is—a refusal to let your mistakes be corrected and an unwillingness to try again.
The Holy Spirit is not delayed in His teaching by your mistakes. He can be held back only by your unwillingness to let them go. Let us therefore be determined, particularly for the next week or so, to be willing to forgive ourselves for our lapses in diligence and our failures to follow the instructions for practicing the day's idea.
This tolerance for weakness will enable us to overlook it, rather than give it power to delay our learning. If we give it power to do this, we are regarding it as strength and are confusing strength with weakness. When you fail to comply with the requirements of this course, you have merely made a mistake. This calls for correction and for nothing else.
To allow a mistake to continue is to make additional mistakes based on the first and reinforcing it. It is this process that must be laid aside, for it is but another way in which you would defend illusions against the truth. Let all these errors go by recognizing them for what they are. They are attempts to keep you unaware you are One Self, united with your Creator, at one with every aspect of creation, and limitless in power and in peace.
This is the truth, and nothing else is true. Today we will affirm this truth again and try to reach the place in you in which there is no doubt that only this is true. Begin the practice periods today with this assurance, given to your mind with all the certainty that you can give:
I am One Self, united with my Creator, At one with every aspect of creation, And limitless in power and in peace.
Then close your eyes and tell yourself again, slowly and thoughtfully, attempting to allow the meaning of the words to sink into your mind, replacing false ideas:
I am One Self.
Repeat this several times, and then attempt to feel the meaning which the words convey. You are One Self, united and secure in light and joy and peace. You are God's Son, One Self with one Creator and one goal—to bring awareness of this oneness to all minds, that true creation may extend the Allness and the Unity of God.
You are One Self, complete and healed and whole, with power to lift the veil of darkness from the world and let the light in you come through to teach the world the truth about itself. You are One Self, in perfect harmony with all there is and all that there will be. You are One Self, the holy Son of God, united with your brothers in this Self, united with your Father in His Will.
Feel this One Self in you, and let it shine away all your illusions and your doubts. This is your Self, the Son of God Himself, sinless as its Creator, with His strength within you and His Love forever yours. You are One Self, and it is given you to feel this Self within you and to cast all your illusions out of the one Mind which is this Self, the holy truth in you.
Do not forget today. We need your help, your little part in bringing happiness to all the world. And Heaven looks to you in confidence that you will try today. Share, then, its surety, for it is yours. Be vigilant. Do not forget today.
Throughout the day do not forget your goal. Repeat today's idea as frequently as possible and understand each time you do so, someone hears the voice of hope, the stirring of the truth within his mind, the gentle rustling of the wings of peace. Your own acknowledgment you are One Self, united with your Father, is a call to all the world to be at one with you. To everyone you meet today be sure to give the promise of today's idea and tell him this:
You are One Self with me, United with our Creator in this Self. I honor you because of what I am,
And what He is, Who loves us both as one.
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I am One Self, united with my Creator.
In the Lesson yesterday, the practice consisted of five minutes of every hour, preferably on the hour. Jesus starts off discussing this practice and tells us that there are distinct advantages to holding to this discipline
". . . at the stage of learning in which you are at present."
(W.95.4.1) You will need to determine at what stage of learning you are, but for many of us, it is clear that our mind training or mind discipline is still not such that this thought system is a habit as yet. If it were a habit at this stage, the first response to every difficult situation in our lives would be to apply the Lesson. For most of us, I suspect, the habitual response is a grievance or judgment and only later do we reflect on the forgiveness opportunity. In order to make the Lessons habitual in responding to the temptation to get upset, Jesus offers us a disciplined approach as part of our mind training. He had previously introduced longer meditations, which helped us to see for ourselves how much our mind wanders in our meditation practice. He acknowledges that he understands this perfectly by saying,
"You have surely realized this [your mind wandering] by now. You have seen the extent of your lack of mental discipline, and of your need for mind training."
(W.95.4.3-4) Yes, it is clear this is the case for most of us.
In this Lesson, Jesus addresses what we should do when we forget to do the practice as outlined. Clearly, he knows we will lapse from the schedule, but the question is that when we do lapse, will we use this as an excuse not to return to the Lesson as soon as we have noticed we have lapsed? He says that we will be inclined to feel guilty about our lapse, rather than correct the mistake, and in fact, we will use this lapse as an excuse to regard the day as lost. Yet he does not want us to feel guilty. That is what the ego would have us do. Instead, he wants us to see it for what it is;
"a refusal to let your mistake be corrected, and an unwillingness to try again."
He knows that we will be forgetful. If we did not need this mind training and this kind of discipline, we would not need the Course. Beating up on ourselves is to fall for the ego's game. The ego makes sure that we forget to do the practice and then says we should feel guilty for forgetting. It gets us coming and going. To berate ourselves for being bad Course students while feeling discouraged and angry with ourselves is never helpful. Jesus thus encourages us to see our mistake and try again.
The problem is not really our lack of mental discipline as much as the guilt we take on when we judge our lack of discipline. When you allow the guilt to be brought to awareness, you can give it over for healing. We can see its unreality by looking at the guilt from outside of the dream as long as we look at it without judging ourselves. Jesus invites us to sit with him and watch our mistakes with quiet amusement or, at a minimum, with gentleness.
"The Holy Spirit is not delayed in His teaching by your mistakes. He can be held back only by your unwillingness to let them go. Let us therefore be determined, particularly for the next week or so, to be willing to forgive ourselves for our lapses in diligence, and our failures to follow the instructions for practicing the day's idea."
(W.95.8.1-3) If we don't forgive ourselves, we are
the instant when we made the original mistake in the separation and chose to forget about God and made up an identity separate from Him. Now, we are just
this mistake and continuing to feel guilty about our decision instead of being willing to have this mistake corrected.
"Let all these errors go by recognizing them for what they are. They are attempts to keep you unaware you are One Self, united with your Creator, at one with every aspect of creation, and limitless in power and in peace."
(W.95.10.1-2) It is this that keeps the ego going. We want to prove that our separate self is the truth about us. What holds it in place is guilt. Guilt is the superglue of the ego. We hold onto the guilt in order to reaffirm our individual, separate self, which keeps us invested in the illusion and unaware of the truth of our reality as God created us.
Jesus is telling us that repetition is necessary at this stage because of our undisciplined minds. Again, this rings true for most of us, doesn't it? The practice may still feel like a chore much of the time because our minds are still in resistance. If we schedule these frequent practice periods throughout the day, we will be less likely to forget the Lesson for long periods of time. This establishes a priority in our day to do the practice. By scheduling time for the Lesson, we affirm our purpose. We are here to wake up from this dream and to remember who we are. If this is important to us, the practice and application of the Lesson will be given prominence in our day.
I was listening to a near-death experience reported by Thomas Mellon Benedict, who said when we leave the body, it is in our interest to be at a high level of consciousness. When our lives are used to raise our consciousness, they are being used for a mighty purpose. We are asleep in this dream, believing we are something we are not. Jesus tells us it is tragic to use time for any purpose other than to awaken.
"Delay does not matter in eternity, but it is tragic in time."
(T.5.VI.1.3) (ACIM OE T.5.VIII.71) We are basically living in a state of fear, chasing after things that will never bring us any joy. That is why we are urged to remember our purpose, which can only be achieved with a highly disciplined mind.
When we see that the mind is not as disciplined as it needs to be, we should not beat up on ourselves. We just need to recognize that we are pushing God away because of our fear of Him. We fear our Self and the love we are because, in the face of that love, our specialness, uniqueness, and individuality are threatened. We want to keep our investment in the individual self. This investment in the separate self is the reason for our wandering thoughts and our forgetting to do the Lesson. Recognize that this is the case. You are not guilty because you forgot. Just recognize your fear of giving up your individuality, be willing to take note of the fear, and ask for help.
While Jesus asks us to set up a structure of regularity in terms of time, he acknowledges that this is not ideal, but it is necessary at our stage of practice. What would be ideal is when the motivation for practice comes from within. As long as it is still not there, we are encouraged to set up a practice schedule on the hour until our motivation is consistent. When we forget to keep to this schedule, it is our resistance and fear that are showing up. When this happens, forgive yourself and always be willing to start again.
Three things are proposed here for our practice: 1) a shorter amount of time of five minutes 2) more repetitions with the first five minutes of practice on the hour and briefly repeating the Lesson throughout the day as much as possible and 3) regularity by structuring our day for practice on the hour. For some, it may include post-it notes, setting the computer with an alarm, carrying a vibrating timer set to go off every hour, or whatever might work for them. While Jesus is introducing the value of structure, he knows that it is difficult for us and that we will forget. Using these aids can be helpful, but it is also important that we don't consistently rely on them. If we get too dependent on these kinds of reminders, it may be more helpful just to watch how the day goes without them. For me, the aids have been more irritating than helpful, so I don't use them, as my resistance seems to increase with their use. Do what is helpful to you. Despite your best efforts, you will probably still lapse, but he says not to worry if you do, and don't chastise yourself. The real problem is guilt and taking on more of it is definitely not helpful and not something Jesus wants for us.
Personally, I have resistance to the aides, as I put value on "being spontaneous." When I look at this more closely, I can see that it is actually my resistance to being told what to do. It is my resistance to structure. I know how much I have given value to going with the flow, being open to whatever shows up, and resisting control. After all, that is what the 60's were about for me. This is what we called freedom. Yet Jesus gently reminds us that our own will is never free. Our only freedom lies in knowing our true reality, and the way to awaken from this dream is through 24/7 mind training. If we truly want to know who we are, to experience joy, and to know true peace, he will show us the way. The question is, how willing are we to follow him instead of our own will?
Now, here are a few words about today's Lesson since all the commentary so far has been about the importance of practice. In this Lesson, he tells us, rather than experiencing ourselves as One Self, we feel that we have many warring parts in us. Certainly, that is not hard to see even though we may defend against concepts of ourselves as
"weak, vicious, ugly, and sinful, miserable, and beset with pain."
(W.95.2.1) Certainly, if we look honestly, we have felt our own weakness, seen ourselves as ugly, experienced our viciousness and sinfulness, and felt misery and pain. Who of us has escaped such experiences? But this is saying more than that. This is saying it is our current state no matter how much we cover it up with an inflated sense of self.
What the inflated ego does is cover up the deeply held negative beliefs about ourselves that we defend so vociferously.
"Such is your version of yourself; a self divided into many warring parts, separate from God, and tenuously held together by its erratic and capricious maker, to which you pray."
(W.95.2.2) Jesus says it is the ego to whom we look for help. It offers us some kind of identity, but it is a shifting, changing identity, depending on circumstances outside of us that can trigger all these fearful feelings and beliefs within ourselves. Yes, it is capricious, uncertain, confused, and tenuous. Only the Self we are, behind this parody, is the truth; but the ego cannot see what we are because it is blind to the truth.
"It does not understand you are the Son of God, for it is senseless and understands nothing."
We are trying to reach that Self through our five-minute practices. We do it by being willing to look at the ego and bring our wrong-minded perceptions to the light of truth. We are trying to experience the united, secure, joyful, and peaceful Self. This is the One Mind we all are---the complete, healed and whole Self and the One in perfect harmony with all there is and all there will be.
"Feel this one Self, and let IT shine away all your illusions and your doubts."
(W.95.13.3) This innocent Self is the truth about you.
The illusory self is the one who plays various roles in the world, thinks it is good or bad, depending on the situation, and has built a concept of itself in the world as a conqueror as well as a victim. It is the self who is a player in the illusionary world and believes this illusion is real, when in fact it is just a dream state, a movie, and a cast of characters made up by this player (ourselves). Now we can see where we have given power away to outside circumstances and to others in the dream. Now we have an opportunity to take responsibility for everything we feel and experience and bring it all to the light.
Today, Jesus urges us to remember how important this practice is to our happiness. Let us use every opportunity today for the purpose of undoing the ego's misperceptions so we can remember who we are.
Love and blessings, Sarah
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