Day 136 - A Course in Miracles
Chapter Twelve: The Problem of Guilt
IV. Healing and Time
23 And now the reason why you are afraid of this course should be apparent. For this is a course on love because it is about you. You have been told that your function in this world is healing, and your function in Heaven is creating. The ego teaches that your function on earth is destruction and that you have no function at all in Heaven. It would thus destroy you here and bury you here, leaving you no inheritance except the dust out of which it thinks you were made. As long as it is reasonably satisfied with you, as its reasoning goes, it offers you oblivion. When it becomes overtly savage, it offers you hell.
24 Yet neither oblivion nor hell is as unacceptable to you as Heaven. For your definition of Heaven is hell and oblivion, and the real Heaven is the greatest threat you think you could experience. For hell and oblivion are ideas which you made up, and you are bent on demonstrating their reality to establish yours. If their reality is questioned, you believe that yours is. For you believe that attack is your reality and that your destruction is the final proof that you were right.
25 Under the circumstances, would it not be more desirable to have been wrong, even apart from the fact that you were wrong? While it could perhaps be argued that death suggests there was life, no one would claim that it proves there is life. Even the past life which death might indicate could only have been futile if it must come to this and needs this to prove that it was. You question Heaven, but you do not question this. You could heal and be healed if you did question it. And even though you know not Heaven, might it not be more desirable than death? You have been as selective in your questioning as in your perception. An open mind is more honest than this.
26 The ego has a very strange notion of time, and it is with this notion that your questioning might well begin. The ego invests heavily in the past and in the end believes that the past is the only aspect of time that is meaningful. You will remember that we said its emphasis on guilt enables it to ensure its continuity by making the future like the past and thus avoiding the present. By the notion of paying for the past in the future, the past becomes thedeterminer of the future, making them continuous without an intervening present. For the ego uses the present onlyas a brief transition to the future, in which it brings the past to the future by interpreting the present in past terms.
27 Now has no meaning to the ego. The present merely reminds it of past hurts, and it reacts to the present as if it were the past. The ego cannot tolerate release from the past, and although the past is no more, the ego tries to preserve its image by responding as if it were present. Thus it dictates reactions to those you meet now from a pastreference point, obscuring their present reality. In effect, if you follow the ego's dictates, you will react to your brothers as though they were someone else, and this will surely prevent you from perceiving them as they are. And you will receive messages from them out of your own past because, by making it real in the present, you are forbidding yourself to let it go. You thus deny yourself the message of release that every brother offers you now.
28 The shadowy figures from the past are precisely what you must escape. For they are not real and have no hold over you unless you bring them with you. They carry the spots of pain in your minds, directing you to attack in the present in retaliation for a past that is no more. And this decision is one of future pain. Unless you learn that past pain is delusional, you are choosing a future of illusions and losing the endless opportunities which you could find for release in the present. The ego would preserve your nightmares and prevent you from awakening and understanding that they are past.
29 Would you recognize a holy encounter if you are merely perceiving it as a meeting with your own past? For you are meeting no one, and the sharing of salvation, which makes the encounter holy, is excluded from your sight. The Holy Spirit teaches that you always meet yourself and the encounter is holy because you are. The ego teaches that you always encounter your past, and because your dreams were not holy, the future cannot be, and the present is without meaning. It is evident that the Holy Spirit's perception of time is the exact opposite of the ego's. The reason is equally clear, for they perceive the goal of time as diametrically opposed.
30 The Holy Spirit interprets time's purpose as rendering the need for it unnecessary. Thus does He regard the function of time as temporary, serving only His teaching function, which is temporary by definition. His emphasis is therefore on the only aspect of time which can extend to the infinite, for now is the closest approximation of eternity which this world offers. It is in the reality of now, without past or future, that the beginning of the appreciation of eternity lies. For only now is here, and it presents the opportunities for the holy encounters in which salvation can be found.
31 The ego, on the other hand, regards the function of time as one of extending itself in place of eternity, for like the Holy Spirit, the ego interprets the goal of time as its own. The continuity of past and future under its direction is the only purpose the ego perceives in time, and it closes over the present so that no gap in its own continuity can occur. Its continuity, then, would keep you in time, while the Holy Spirit would release you from it. It is Hisinterpretation of the means of salvation which you must learn to accept if you would share His goal of salvation for you.
32 You too will interpret the function of time as you interpret yours. If you accept your function in the world of time as healing, you will emphasize only the aspect of time in which healing can occur. For healing cannot be accomplished in the past and must be accomplished in the present to release the future. This interpretation ties the future to the present and extends the present rather than the past. But if you interpret your function as destruction, you will lose sight of the present and hold on to the past to ensure a destructive future. And time will be as you interpret it, for of itself it is nothing.
Workbook - L e s s o n 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.
13Such 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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