A Course in Miracles

Chapter 19 - Beyond The Body

Healing and the Mind

We said before that when a situation has been dedicated wholly to truth, peace is inevitable.

Its attainment is the criterion by which the wholeness of the dedication can be safely assumed. Yet we also said that peace without faith will never be attained, for what is wholly dedicated to truth as its only goal is brought to truth by faith. This faith encompasses everyone involved, for only thus the situation is perceived as meaningful and as a whole. And everyone must be involved in it, or else your faith is limited and your dedication incomplete.

Every situation properly perceived becomes an opportunity to heal the Son of God.

And he is healed because you offered faith to him, giving him to the Holy Spirit and releasing him from every demand your ego would make of him. Thus do you see him free, and in this vision does the Holy Spirit share. And since He shares it, He has given it, and so He heals through you. It is this joining Him in a united purpose which makes this purpose real because you make it whole. And this is healing. The body is healed because you came without it and joined the Mind in which all healing rests.

The body cannot heal because it cannot make itself sick. It needs no healing.

Its health or sickness depends entirely on how the mind perceives it and the purpose which the mind would use it for. And it is obvious that a segment of the mind can see itself as separated from the Universal Purpose. When this occurs, the body becomes its weapon used against this Purpose to demonstrate the "fact" that separation has occurred. The body thus becomes the instrument of illusion, acting accordingly; seeing what is not there, hearing what truth has never said, and behaving insanely, being imprisoned by insanity.

Do not overlook our earlier statement that faithlessness leads straight to illusions. For faithlessness is the perception of a brother as a body, and the body cannot be used for purposes of union. If, then, you see your brother as a body, you have established a condition in which uniting with him becomes impossible.

Your faithlessness to him has separated you from him and kept you both apart from being healed. Your faithlessness has thus opposed the Holy Spirit's purpose and brought illusions centered on the body to stand between you. And the body will seem to be sick, for you have made of it an "enemy" of healing and the opposite of truth.

It cannot be difficult to realize that faith must be the opposite of faithlessness. Yet the difference in how they operate is less apparent, though it follows directly from the fundamental difference in what they are.

Faithlessness would always limit and attack; faith would remove all limitations and make whole.

[Faithlessness would destroy and separate; faith would unite and heal.]

Faithlessness would interpose illusions between the Son of God and his Creator; faith would remove all obstacles that seem to rise between them.

Faithlessness is wholly dedicated to illusions; faith wholly to truth. Partial dedication is impossible. Truth is the absence of illusion; illusion the absence of truth.

Both cannot be together nor perceived in the same place. To dedicate yourself to both is to set up a goal forever impossible to attain, for part of it is sought through the body, thought of as a means for seeking out reality through attack, while the other part would heal and therefore calls upon the mind and not the body. The inevitable compromise is the belief that the body must be healed, and not the mind. For this divided goal has given both an equal reality, which could be possible only if the mind is limited to the body and divided into little parts of seeming wholeness but without connection. This will not harm the body, but it will keep the delusional thought system in the mind.

Here then is healing needed. And it is here that healing is. For God gave healing not apart from sickness, nor established remedy where sickness cannot be. They are together, and when they are seen together, all attempts to keep both truth and illusion in the mind, where both must be, are recognized as dedication to illusion and given up when brought to truth and seen as totally irreconcilable with truth in any respect or in any way.

Truth and illusion have no connection.

This will remain forever true, however much you seek to connect them. But illusions are always connected, as is truth. Each is united, a complete thought system, but totally disconnected to each other. Where there is no overlap, there separation must be complete. And to perceive this is to recognize where separation is and where it must be healed. The result of an idea is never separate from its source. The idea of separation produced the body and remains connected to it, making it sick because of its identification with it. You think you are protecting the body by hiding this connection, for this concealment seems to keep your identification safe from the "attack" of truth.

If you but understood how much this strange concealment has hurt your mind and how confused your own identification has become because of it! You do not see how great the devastation wrought by your faithlessness. For faithlessness is an attack which seems to be justified by its results. For by withholding faith, you see what is unworthy of it and cannot look beyond the barrier to what is joined with you.

To have faith is to heal. It is the sign that you have accepted the Atonement for yourself and would therefore share it.

By faith you offer the gift of freedom from the past, which you received. You do not use anything your brother has done before to condemn him now. You freely choose to overlook his errors, looking past all barriers between your self and his and seeing them as one. And in that one you see your faith is fully justified.

There is no justification for faithlessness, but faith is always justified.

Faith is the opposite of fear, as much a part of love as fear is of attack. Faith is the acknowledgment of union. It is the gracious acknowledgment of everyone as a Son of your most loving Father, loved by Him like you and therefore loved by you as yourself. It is His love that joins you, and for His love you would keep no one separate from yours. Each one appears just as he is perceived in the holy instant, united in your purpose to be released from guilt. You saw the Christ in him, and he was healed because you looked on what makes faith forever justified in everyone.

Faith is the gift of God, through Him Whom God has given you. Faithlessness looks upon the Son of God and judges him unworthy of forgiveness. But through the eyes of faith, the Son of God is seen already forgiven, free of all the guilt he laid upon himself. Faith sees him only now because it looks not to the past to judge him, but would see in him only what it would see in you. It sees not through the body's eyes nor looks to bodies for its justification. It is the messenger of the new perception sent forth to gather witnesses unto its coming and to return their messages to you.

Faith is as easily exchanged for knowledge (of what you are) as is the real world. For faith arises from the Holy Spirit's perception and is the sign you share it with Him. Faith is a gift you offer to the Son of God through Him, and wholly acceptable to his Father as to him. And therefore offered you.

Your holy relationship, with its new purpose, offers you faith to give unto each other. Your faithlessness had driven you apart, and so you did not recognize salvation in each other. Yet faith unites you in the holiness you see, not through the body's eyes but in the sight of Him Who joined you and in Whom you are united.

Grace is not given to a body, but to a mind.

And the mind that receives it looks instantly beyond the body and sees the holy place where it was healed. There is the altar where the grace was given, in which it stands. Do you, then, offer grace and blessing to each other, for you stand at the same altar where grace was laid for both of you. And be you healed by grace together, that you may heal through faith.

In the holy instant, you stand before the altar God has raised unto Himself and both of you. Lay faithlessness aside and come to it together. There will you see the miracle of your relationship as it was made again through faith. And there it is that you will realize that there is nothing faith cannot forgive. No error interferes with its calm sight, which brings the miracle of healing with equal ease to all of them. For what the messengers of love are sent to do they do, returning the glad tidings that it was done to you who stand together before the altar from which they were sent forth.

As faithlessness will keep your little kingdoms barren and separate, so will faith help the Holy Spirit prepare the ground for the most holy garden which He would make of it. For faith brings peace, and so it calls on truth to enter and make lovely what has already been prepared for loveliness. Truth follows faith and peace, completing the process of making lovely which they begin. For faith is still a learning goal, no longer needed when the lesson has been learned. Yet truth will stay forever.

Let then your dedication be to the eternal and learn how not to interfere with it and make it slave to time. For what you think you do to the eternal you do to you. Whom God created as His Son is slave to nothing, being lord of all along with his Creator. You can enslave a body, but an idea is free, incapable of being kept in prison or limited in any way except by the mind that thought it. For it remains joined to its source, which is its jailor or its liberator, according to which it chooses as its purpose for itself.

 

 

 

A Course in Miracles

Chapter 19 - Beyond The Body

Sin Versus Error

It is essential that error be not confused with "sin," and it is this distinction which makes salvation possible.

For error can be corrected, and the wrong made right. But sin, were it possible, would be irreversible. The belief in sin is necessarily based on the firm conviction that minds, not bodies, can attack. And thus the mind is guilty and will forever so remain unless a mind not part of it can give it absolution. Sin calls for punishment as error for correction, and the belief that punishment is correction is clearly insane.

Sin is not an error, for sin entails an arrogance which the idea of error lacks.

To sin would be to violate reality and to succeed. Sin is the proclamation that attack is real and guilt is justified.

It assumes the Son of God is guilty and has thus succeeded in losing his innocence and making himself what God created not. Thus is creation seen as not eternal, and the Will of God open to opposition and defeat. Sin is the "grand illusion" underlying all the ego's grandiosity. For by it, God Himself is changed and rendered incomplete.

The Son of God can be mistaken; he can deceive himself; he can even turn the power of his mind against himself. But he cannot sin.

There is nothing he can do that would really change his reality in any way nor make him really guilty.

That is what sin would do, for such is its purpose. Yet for all the wild insanity inherent in the whole idea of sin, it is impossible. For the wages of sin is death, and how can the immortal die?

A major tenet in the ego's insane religion is that sin is not error but truth, and it is innocence that would deceive. Purity is seen as arrogance, and the acceptance of the self as sinful is perceived as holiness. And it is this doctrine which replaces the reality of the Son of God as his Father created him and willed that he be forever. Is this humility? Or is it, rather, an attempt to wrest creation away from truth and keep it separate?

Any attempt to reinterpret sin as error is always indefensible to the ego. The idea of sin is wholly sacrosanct to its thought system and quite unapproachable except through reverence and awe. It is the most "holy" concept in the ego's system-lovely and powerful, wholly true, and necessarily protected with every defense at its disposal. For here lies its "best" defense which all the others serve. Here is its armor, its protection, and the fundamental purpose of the special relationship in its interpretation.

It can indeed be said the ego made its world on sin.

Only in such a world could everything be upside-down. This is the strange illusion which makes the clouds of guilt seem heavy and impenetrable. The solidness this world's foundation seems to have is found in this. For sin has changed creation from an Idea of God to an ideal the ego wants; a world it rules, made up of bodies, mindless and capable of complete corruption and decay. If this is a mistake, it can be undone easily by truth. Any mistake can be corrected, if truth be left to judge it. But if the mistake is given the status of truth, to what can it be brought? The "holiness" of sin is kept in place by just this strange device. As truth it is inviolate, and everything is brought to it for judgment. As a mistake, it must be brought to truth. It is impossible to have faith in sin, for sin is faithlessness. Yet it is possible to have faith that a mistake can be corrected.

There is no stone in all the ego's embattled citadel more heavily defended than the idea that sin is real--the natural expression of what the Son of God has made himself to be and what he is. To the ego, this is no mistake. For this is its reality; this is the "truth" from which escape will always be impossible. This is his past, his present, and his future. For he has somehow managed to corrupt his Father and changed His Mind completely. Mourn, then, the death of God, Whom sin has killed! And this would be the ego's wish, which in its madness it thinks it has accomplished.

Would you not rather that all this be nothing more than a mistake, entirely correctable, and so easily escaped from that its whole correction is like walking through a mist into the sun? For that is all it is. Perhaps you would be tempted to agree with the ego that it is far better to be sinful than mistaken. Yet think you carefully before you allow yourself to make this choice. Approach it not lightly, for it is the choice of hell or Heaven.

 

 

A Course in Miracles

Chapter 19 - Beyond The Body

The Unreality of Sin

The attraction of guilt is found in sin, not error. Sin will be repeated because of this attraction. Fear can become so acute that the sin is denied the acting out, but while the guilt remains attractive the mind will suffer and not let go of the idea of sin. For guilt still calls to it, and the mind hears it and yearns for it, making itself a willing captive to its sick appeal.

Sin is an idea of evil that cannot be corrected and will be forever desirable.

As an essential part of what the ego thinks you are, you will always want it. And only an avenger with a mind unlike your own could stamp it out through fear.

The ego does not think it possible that love, not fear, is really called upon by sin and always answers. For the ego brings sin to fear, demanding punishment. Yet punishment is but another form of guilt's protection, for what is deserving punishment must have been really done. Punishment is always the great preserver of sin, treating it with respect and honoring its enormity. [What must be punished must be true. And what is true must be eternal and will be repeated endlessly.] For what you think is real you want and will not let it go. An error, on the other hand, is not attractive. What you see clearly as a mistake you want corrected.

Sometimes a sin can be repeated over and over with obviously distressing results but without the loss of its appeal. And suddenly you change its status from a sin to a mistake. Now you will not repeat it; you will merely stop and let it go unless the guilt remains. For then you will but change the form of sin, granting that it was an error but keeping it uncorrectable. This is not really a change in your perception, for it is sin that calls for punishment, not error. The Holy Spirit cannot punish sin. Mistakes He recognizes and would correct them all as God entrusted Him to do. But sin He knows not, nor can He recognize mistakes which cannot be corrected. For a mistake which cannot be corrected is meaningless to Him.

Mistakes are for correction, and they call for nothing else.

What calls for punishment must call for nothing. Every mistake must be a call for love. What, then, is sin? What could it be but a mistake you would keep hidden-a call for help that you would keep unheard and thus unanswered? In time the Holy Spirit clearly sees the Son of God can make mistakes. On this you share His vision. Yet you do not share His recognition of the difference between time and eternity. And when correction is completed, time is eternity.

Time is like a downward spiral which seems to travel down from a long, unbroken line along another plane but which in no way breaks the line or interferes with its smooth continuousness. Along the spiral, it seems as if the line must have been broken. Yet at the line, its wholeness is apparent. Everything seen from the spiral is misperceived, but as you approach the line, you realize that it was not affected by the drop into another plane at all. Yet from the plane, the line seems discontinuous. And this is but an error in perception which can be easily corrected in the mind, although the body's eyes will see no change. The eyes see many things the mind corrects, and you respond, not to the eyes' illusions, but to the mind's corrections.

You see the line as broken, and as you shift to different aspects of the spiral, the line looks different. Yet in your mind is One Who knows it is unbroken and forever changeless. This One can teach you how to look on time differently and see beyond it, but not while you believe in sin. In error, yes; for this can be corrected by the mind. But sin is the belief that your perception is unchangeable and that the mind must accept as true what it is told through it. If it does not obey, the mind is judged insane. The only power which could change perception is thus kept impotent, held to the body by the fear of changed perception which its teacher, who is one with it, would bring.

When you are tempted to believe that sin is real, remember this: If sin is real, both God and you are not.

If creation is extension, the Creator must have extended Himself, and it is impossible that what is part of Him is totally unlike the rest. If sin is real, God must be at war with Himself. He must be split and torn between good and evil-partly sane and partially insane. For He must have created what wills to destroy Him and has the power to do so. Is it not easier to believe that you have been mistaken than to believe in this?

While you believe that your reality or your brother's is bounded by a body, you will believe in sin.

While you believe that bodies can unite, you will find guilt attractive and believe that sin is precious. For the belief that bodies limit mind leads to a perception of the world in which the proof of separation seems to be everywhere. And God and His creations seem to be split apart and overthrown. For sin would prove what God created holy could not prevail against it nor remain itself before the power of sin. Sin is perceived as mightier than God, before which God Himself must bow and offer His creation to its conqueror. Is this humility or madness?

If sin were real, it would forever be beyond the hope of healing.

For there would be a power beyond God's, capable of making another will which could attack His Will and overcome it and give His Son a will apart from His and stronger. And each part of God's fragmented creation would have a different will, opposed to His and in eternal opposition to Him and to each other. Your holy relationship has as its purpose now the goal of proving this is impossible. Heaven has smiled upon it, and the belief in sin has been uprooted in its smile of love. You see it still because you do not realize that its foundation has gone. Its source has been removed, and so it can be cherished but a little while before it vanishes. Only the habit of looking for it still remains.

And yet you look with Heaven's smile upon your lips and Heaven's blessing on your sight. You will not see it long. For in the new perception, the mind corrects it when it seems to be seen, and it becomes invisible. And errors are quickly recognized and quickly given to correction to be healed, not hidden. You will be healed of sin and all its ravages the instant that you give it no power over each other. And you will help each other overcome mistakes by joyously releasing one another from the belief in sin.

In the holy instant, you will see the smile of heaven shining on both of you.

And you will shine upon each other in glad acknowledgment of the grace that has been given you. For sin will not prevail against a union Heaven has smiled upon. Your perception was healed in the holy instant Heaven gave you. Forget what you have seen and raise your eyes in faith to what you now can see. The barriers to heaven will disappear before your holy sight, for you who were sightless have been given vision, and you can see. Look not for what has been removed but for the glory that has been restored for you to see.

Look upon your Redeemer and behold what He would show you in each other, and let not sin arise again to blind your eyes. For sin would keep you separate, but your Redeemer would have you look upon each other as yourself. Your relationship is now a temple of healing-a place where all the weary ones can come and find rest. Here is the rest that waits for all after the journey. And it is brought nearer to all by your relationship.

As this peace extends from deep inside yourselves to embrace all the Sonship and give it rest, it will encounter many obstacles. Some of them you will try to impose. Others will seem to arise from elsewhere-from your brothers and from various aspects of the world outside. Yet peace will gently cover them, extending past completely unhindered. The extension of the Holy Spirit's purpose from your relationship to others to bring them gently in [has already begun. This is the way in which He will bring means and goal in line. The peace He laid deep within both of you] will quietly extend to every aspect of your lives, surrounding both of you with glowing happiness and the calm awareness of complete protection. And you will carry its message of love and safety and freedom to everyone who draws nigh unto your temple, where healing waits for him.

You will not wait to give him this, for you will call to him and he will answer you, recognizing in your call the Call of God. And you will draw him in and give him rest, as it was given you. All this will you do. Yet the peace which already lies deeply within must first expand and flow across the obstacles you placed before it. This will you do, for nothing undertaken with the Holy Spirit remains unfinished. You can indeed be sure of nothing you see outside you, but of this you can be sure: the Holy Spirit asks that you offer Him a resting-place where you will rest in Him. He answered you and entered your relationship. Would you not now return His graciousness and enter into a relationship with Him? For it is He Who offered your relationship the gift of holiness, without which it would have been forever impossible to appreciate each other.

The gratitude you owe to Him He asks but that you receive for Him. And when you look with gentle graciousness upon each other, you are beholding Him. For you are looking where He is and not apart from Him. You cannot see the Holy Spirit, but you can see your brothers truly. And the light in them will show you all that you need to see. When the peace in you has been extended to encompass everyone, the Holy Spirit's function here will be accomplished. What need is there for seeing then? When God has taken the last step Himself, the Holy Spirit will gather all your thanks and gratitude which you have offered Him and lay them gently before His Creator in the name of His most holy Son. And the Father will accept them in His Name. What need is there of seeing in the presence of His gratitude?

 

 
 

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