ACIM Healing as Release from Fear. A major step in the Atonement plan is to undo error at all levels.
ACIM Healing as Release from Fear P 2, 3, 4
IV. Healing as Release from Fear P 2
2 A major step in the Atonement plan is to undo error at all levels. Sickness or “not-right-mindedness” is the result of level confusion, because it always entails the belief that what is amiss on one level can adversely affect another. We have referred to miracles as the means of correcting level confusion, for all mistakes must be corrected at the level on which they occur. Only the mind is capable of error. The body can act wrongly only when it is responding to misthought. The body cannot create, and the belief that it can, a fundamental error, produces all physical symptoms. Physical illness represents a belief in magic. The whole distortion that made magic rests on the belief that there is a creative ability in matter which the mind cannot control. This error can take two forms; it can be believed that the mind can miscreate in the body, or that the body can miscreate in the mind. When it is understood that the mind, the only level of creation, cannot create beyond itself, neither type of confusion need occur.
Pain as an Error
There is only one way to undo error at all levels, and that is to accept that the error originated in the mind and went no further. I was confused about this in the past, thinking that the error was in something I did. Or something I failed to do in the world to the body or in defense of the body. However, that cannot be right since there is no body and there is no world. Both are merely ideas in the mind that thought them and do not leave their source.
What, then, is this pain I feel in my feet and other parts of my body? It is magic. It is the magical solution to a magical problem. I want to be in a body, separate from my Source, from Life Itself, and so I magically produce a body for that purpose. The magical problem is how do I keep the truth from dawning on my mind? I give this body intense sensations like pain and, thus, keep it distracted from the truth.
This is seldom an idea that anyone wants to hear, which is probably why I have deliberately misread this paragraph in the past. But suddenly, it makes sense to me. Actually, I have been moving in this direction for a while now, but without fully accepting it. The ego is very clever at keeping the mind focused on the magic rather than the truth.
What Does Jesus Say About Pain?
I look at the idea of pain itself. Here is what Jesus tells us.
Pain is a wrong perspective. ²When it is experienced in any form, it is a proof of self-deception. ³It is not a fact at all. ⁴There is no form it takes that will not disappear if seen aright. (ACIM, W-190.1:1-4) And this: ³If God is real, there is no pain. ⁴If pain is real, there is no God. (ACIM, W-190.3:3-4)
But This Is My Experience. What Now?
What does this mean for the perceived pain in my imagined body? I do in the world what needs to be done here. I ask the Holy Spirit for guidance as to what that is. In the Song of Prayer, it says this.
You have been told to ask the Holy Spirit for the answer to any specific problem, and that you will receive a specific answer if such is your need. ²You have also been told that there is only one problem and one answer. ³In prayer this is not contradictory. ⁴There are decisions to make here, and they must be made whether they be illusions or not. (ACIM, S-1.I.2:1-4)
So, I rest my mind in God and allow myself to be guided in all things knowing that the guidance is God’s Love taking the form most needed at the moment. This knowing is the source of the peace that is nearly consistent in my life nowadays. I take medicine if I need it. Go to a doctor if I need to. But what I always do is remind myself that this is all part of the illusion and that illusions change nothing. I remain as God created me.
I Choose Peace
Always, no matter what happens in this story, I remind myself of what I am. My holy brother, think of this awhile: The world you see does nothing. ²It has no effects at all. ³It merely represents your thoughts. ⁴And it will change entirely as you elect to change your mind, and choose the joy of God as what you really want. (ACIM, W-190.6:1-4) It is not what I do to the body that changes it. It is what I accept as the truth that changes the story of a body. And no matter what happens with the body, I choose to be at peace because the peace of God is truly all that I desire.
IV. Healing as Release from Fear P 3
3 Only the mind can create because spirit has already been created, and the body is a learning device of the mind. Learning devices are not lessons in themselves. Their purpose is merely to facilitate learning. The worst a faulty use of a learning device can do is to fail to facilitate learning. It has no power in itself to introduce actual learning errors. The body, if properly understood, shares the invulnerability of the Atonement to two-edged application. This is not because the body is a miracle, but because it is not inherently open to misinterpretation. The body is merely part of your experience in the physical world. Its abilities can be and frequently are over-evaluated. However, it is almost impossible to deny its existence in this world. Those who do so are engaging in a particularly unworthy form of denial. The term “unworthy” here implies only that it is not necessary to protect the mind by denying the unmindful. If one denies this unfortunate aspect of the mind’s power, one is also denying the power itself.
Before I started studying the Course, I thought of the body as me, just as most people do. I could not envision myself without a body. Even when I imagined I was in Heaven, it would be with a body, different maybe, better, but still a body. The church I attended believed that cremation was wrong because you needed the body when you got to Heaven. I must have had a glimmer of something else, though, because when I thought about it, I questioned how this could be true. What if a person burned to death? Did this mean he couldn’t go to Heaven? No answer from the church folks for that.
From A Course in Miracles, I learned that I am not my body. I think in my enthusiasm to embrace this more sensible belief, I went overboard. In so doing, I made the error that Jesus speaks of here. I denied the body. I felt like it was wrong to give the body any attention whatsoever. It was very confusing because I had to find a way to reconcile passages in the Course that speak of sickness and healing with the idea that I am not a body, so why would I care about healing the body? It further confused the issue because, of course, I wanted to be healthy and pain-free.
How We Are to See the Body
Right here, at the beginning of the Course, Jesus makes it clear how we are to see the body. The body is a tool we use while in this experience of separation. It is part of our experience. The body has no power to act independently and only responds to the mind. It has no power to create. So the body cannot get sick, and if it seems to be sick, it is because it is responding to the beliefs in the mind.
Obviously, then, when we see the body as sick, when that is our experience, it is not the body that needs healing, but the mind. And if it is an error in the mind, a wrong-minded belief, that caused the illness to appear in the body, then a healed mind will facilitate the healing of the body. However, that does not always appear to be so. I think there might be more to it than that.
The Body As Classroom
I think in the real world, there is no sickness. The real world symbolizes our illusion completely corrected, seen without any of the fear and guilt we experience now. It is the last step of undoing before we merge with God. We have not reached that point yet, and so there is still a need for the lessons the body can facilitate.
I think of my body as part of my classroom, and I have learned many things with its help. The thing is, I didn’t know what needed to be learned until I learned it. I don’t judge myself according to what is happening to my body, I just appreciate the opportunity to further heal my mind.
An Interesting Experience
I am reminded of something that happened to me one morning while writing in my journal. I was studying one of the lessons that say that I am not a body when I suddenly got it on a much deeper level. It was a revelatory moment, and the absolute knowing of something I had only previously understood as a concept stunned me.
Suddenly I got very sick. I had a fever and was throwing up. It was weird because the moment before, I was fine. My first thought was that I had caught a virus from my granddaughter, who had just recovered from one. Then I realized that the sickness was in response to the revelation I had just experienced. The ego part of the mind was terrified of the idea that I should actually know that I am not a body.
There was still a belief in my mind that I must protect the idea of being a body, and so that belief was reflected in the body. A way for me to understand this is to think of it this way: The body did not make itself sick by getting a virus or something, as I would have thought in the past. Instead, the ego mind projected onto the body sickness to reassure itself that its home still existed.
As soon as I understood what had happened, I started laughing. If anyone had seen me, they would have thought I was nuts because I was throwing up and laughing. The fever and the stomach upset disappeared very quickly. It was the shortest “virus” in history, lasting only minutes. One thing that was made clear to me is that the body is not the source of disease.
It is the mind that is the cause, and so it is the mind toward which healing should be directed. I had believed that I needed the body to be sick, and it was. Then I realized I did not need the body to be sick, and the sickness disappeared. It would be a while longer before I was willing to accept the full implications of this experience, but it definitely was a defining moment for me. It was a necessary step that made it possible for me to later accept this truth more completely.
IV. Healing as Release from Fear P 4
4 All material means that you accept as remedies for bodily ills are restatements of magic principles. This is the first step in believing that the body makes its own illness. It is a second misstep to heal it through non-creative agents. It does not follow, however, that the use of such agents for corrective purposes is evil. Sometimes the illness has a sufficiently strong hold over the mind to render a person temporarily inaccessible to the Atonement. In this case it may be wise to utilize a compromise approach to mind and body, in which something from the outside is temporarily given healing belief. This is because the last thing that can help the non-right-minded, or the sick, is an increase in fear. They are already in a fear-weakened state. If they are prematurely exposed to a miracle, they may be precipitated into panic. This is likely to occur when upside-down perception has induced the belief that miracles are frightening.
Jesus Is so Gentle
I love how gentle Jesus is in this course of his. He knows that we have a lot of fear, and he goes out of his way to be sure we don’t use the Course to increase that fear. Here is what I noticed when I read this part about maybe being in a fear-weakened state and so taking medicine for now. The ego wants to take that as a challenge. Or sometimes, it wants to use it as a sign that I am guilty of not being better than that. But these kinds of ego ploys don’t work on me anymore. They are just thoughts passing through and finding no hook in me; they don’t stay.
At one time, Jesus began to very gently guide me to let go of certain magic remedies. It was time for this because I no longer believed that I was a victim of pain and sickness, and I was comfortable accepting responsibility. I knew by then that the body is an image projected from my mind, and I knew that pain and sickness are simply more images projected from a sick mind.
This idea was not uncomfortable for me at all and just awakened in me a strong desire to heal the mind. So now was a good time for me to start letting go of some of my crutches. I did not go at this with a vengeance. I just followed guidance one moment at a time. And when I returned to magic solutions, I did so without guilt or concern.
Taking medicine or not taking it is not cause for judgment. The ego, of course, wanted to set me up for failure as soon as I heard the guidance. It said that if I didn’t need one form of magic, I didn’t need any, and I should stop everything. I let that thought sit momentarily because I wasn’t sure where it came from. But then I felt fear, small and mostly hidden, I knew the idea came from my ego, so I ignored it.
At one time, this process would have been miserable and would have raised a lot of fear and guilt. That is why it is best not to try to take charge of my awakening but to allow it to unfold gently.
Then one day, I got a new thought related to this. I have been a real germophobe. I have always feared germs and go to extremes to avoid contact. My kids share food from the same plate and even the same spoon and roll their eyes at me because I am aghast. If they thoughtlessly dip their spoon in my food, I just give it to them. They kindly try to remember not to do that.
When I go into a public restroom, I carefully avoid touching anything and then wash my hands as if I have been rolling in germs. I carry disinfectant with me to hotels. I know all kinds of facts about germs and how long they live on surfaces. I’m not OCD about it, but I am pretty neurotic. Anyway, one day, I was washing up in a public restroom and carefully avoiding touching the faucet with my clean hands when I was given the thought to forgive this.
I was not given the thought to be careless or to stop acting like I must avoid germs. This would have definitely been too big of a step for me. I was told to simply forgive it. So, every time now when I have a thought about germs, I remind myself that germs are just an image I have projected onto the world that I have also projected. This is the step I am to take. A tiny step forward, a gentle awakening to the truth.
I am so grateful to God. He loves me so much.
5 IV. Healing as Release from Fear P 5
5. The value of the Atonement does not lie in the manner in which it is expressed. ²In fact, if it is used truly, it will inevitably be expressed in whatever way is most helpful to the receiver. ³This means that a miracle, to attain its full efficacy, must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear. ⁴This does not necessarily mean that this is the highest level of communication of which he is capable. ⁵It does mean, however, that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable now. ⁶The whole aim of the miracle is to raise the level of communication, not to lower it by increasing fear.
Originally, I missed this paragraph, but it is perfect that I discovered my error now. I talked to someone yesterday who is very religious. She has a strong belief in the devil but also has a deep love for God. She was talking about how she suffers from migraines and since I used to have the same problem, I wanted to share with her how I was healed. But I never know how to do that when talking to a non-Course student.
Being a Channel
The thought to share kept coming, though, so I just put Jesus in charge and told her my story. I focused on faith and paying attention to our thoughts, such as judgment, which I knew she could relate to. I avoided the devil issue and any ideas that would be too foreign to her. It was easy since I had opened myself to being a channel for Jesus to come through.
This morning I was wondering if I could talk about the devil with her at a different time, maybe move her off that idea and toward ego instead. I was going over in my mind the advantage of taking responsibility for our thoughts rather than seeing the devil as having dominion over us in any way. Jesus pointed out to me that they were the same except in that one way. For instance, she always calls the devil a liar, and Jesus refers to the ego as a deceiver.
We may one day have a conversation about this, but I won’t be doing it alone. I will wait until guided, and I will follow that guidance because I have no desire to cause her fear. Questioning her beliefs before she is ready to expand them would only scare her. I know this because I have experienced it myself. I don’t need to convince anyone that my way is the right way. My only desire is to be truly helpful.
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