[acimlessons_list] Lesson 199 - July 18
sue at circleofa.org
Thu Jul 17 05:56:59 EDT 2008
Lesson 199 - July 18
I am not a body. I am free
PURPOSE: To go past your identification with the body, to experience the
freedom of abiding in the boundlessness of God. To free your mind from
bodily limits and give it to the Holy Spirit's use, that He may use your
body to carry the message of freedom to those who still think they are
imprisoned in a body.
MORNING/EVENING QUIET TIME: At least five minutes; ideally, thirty or more.
As is usual by now, we are left on our own to decide how to spend our longer
Choose some form of practice that reflects today's goal. The goal is to
realize that you are not a mind imprisoned within a body, but rather that
you are a <mind within the Holy Spirit> (6:6), a mind that <rests in God>
(2:3). Your mind, then, is inherently free, <unlimited forever> (2:1), and
your body is gone from your self-concept. The body, then, rather than the
slave master, becomes <a worthy servant> (6:6) of the Holy Spirit's plan to
extend forgiveness to every mind. It will then return to mind whenever it is
needed to communicate forgiveness.
I would suggest a meditation in which you try to feel your mind surrounded
by the Holy Spirit, resting in God, unbound by any limits whatsoever. Sink
into the feeling that this is your home, not the body, so that the body
vanishes from your picture of yourself.
HOURLY REMEMBRANCE: One or two minutes as the hour strikes (reduce if
circumstances do not permit).
Search your mind for the events of the past hour that are still compromising
your peace. Noticehow each one has something to do with the body how your
body was treated by another's body, what your body said or did, how it
feels, how well it is functioning, how it looks, etc. Then free yourself of
these bodily limits by repeating, <I am not a body. I am free. I hear the
Voice that God has given me, and it is only This my mind obeys.> This means
that your mind does not obey the body, it only obeys the Voice of freedom.
RESPONSE TO TEMPTATION: (Suggestion) when tempted to engage in any thoughts
which reinforce a bodily identity.
Repeat, <I am not a body. I am free. I hear the Voice that God has given me,
and it is only This [rather than the body] my mind obeys.>
OVERALL COMMENTS: This is a hugely important idea. To make progress on this
path, we are told, we must accept this idea and even <hold it very dear>
(3:1). We are encouraged to use it in all of our practice periods, even
beyond today, for it will boost the power of each lesson we combine it with
(5:3). Indeed, in a couple of days, we will be instructed to use it
precisely in this way for twenty straight days.
To the ego, today's idea is <quite insane> (3:2). Yet it is one of the basic
principles the Course uses to free us from our bondage. The lesson attaches
a great deal of importance to it, more than to most ideas the Course
presents. We are told to <cherish> it and <practice it today and every day>
(5:1). And evidently Jesus expects us to integrate the idea that <I am not a
body> into every practice period from now on! (5:2).
Let's face it: Before we encountered the Course, the body was something we
took for granted. If we knew anything, we thought, we knew we were a body.
Our bodies held a very different place in our lives from every other
physical object. If someone stepped on a CD we owned, we might say, <Hey!
You're breaking my CD.> But if they stepped on our toe (part of our body),
we would say, <Hey! You're stepping on me!> It is part of our consciousness.
<I> am where my body is. We say, <I am eating. I was asleep. I am in my car.
I am sick.> And all of those <I's> refer to the body. Even if we have been
Course students for ten or fifteen years, we are probably still saying those
same things, and still, out of habit, thinking of the body as our self.
The ego has expended millennia of effort at mentally programming into the
mind the identity of <me> and the body. It isn't something the mind will let
go of easily; it is a habit of thought that will take a great deal of
counterprogramming to unlearn. That is why we are urged to make it a part of
daily practice. The body-as-self identity will not be broken by a few simple
repetitions. We all still believe in it. As Ken Wapnick has said, if you
doubt that you still believe in the identity of body and self, just try
holding your breath for ten minutes.
What are we to do with our awareness that we hold this false belief about
ourselves? The lesson tells us, <Be not concerned> (3:2). Like a runner
practicing to break the four-minute mile, we need not be concerned that we
haven't done so yet. We just need to keep on practicing, doing what needs to
be done to achieve that goal. Our goal is to realize we are a <mind [that]
no longer sees itself as in a body, firmly tied to it and sheltered by its
presence> (1:4). That is the state of mind in which total freedom is found.
When we have entered that state of mind, we will be right-minded, and in the
real world. Our only concern now is to move in that direction.
The holy instant offers us foretastes of that state of mind. The body
recedes from awareness in the holy instant, and what we are aware of is
oneness, something so vast no body or collection of bodies could ever
contain it. As we experience this state more and more it will come to
dominate our consciousness. We still have a body, but we realize we are not
bound to it. It becomes simply
[a] useful form for what the mind must do. It thus becomes a
vehicle which helps forgiveness be extended to the all-inclusive
goal that it must reach, according to God's plan. (4:4 5)
Ironically, the more we detach our mind from our body, the more perfect the
body becomes. <It becomes perfect in the ability to serve an undivided goal>
(6:4). If perfecting the body is the goal, we will never achieve it; the
body will find wholeness only when our goal becomes unified with the Holy
Spirit in seeking to extend forgiveness to everyone and everything, which
places the body in its proper place. Trying to hold on to the body destroys
it; letting it go brings it health.
The body is not the home of the mind; the Holy Spirit is (6:1). Our aim in
practicing, in each holy instant we take, is to free our mind from its
connection to the body, and to give our mind to the Holy Spirit for His
purposes. Our energy then is not directed at acquiring food or clothing, or
housing, or physical well being, but at bringing forgiveness to the world.
If we do this, the Holy Spirit promises that He will take care of all the
rest. As Jesus put it in the Bible: <Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and
his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you> (Mt 6:33).
Or, as the Course puts it: <Once you accept His plan as the one function
that you would fulfill, there will be nothing else the Holy Spirit will not
arrange for you without your effort> (T-20.IV.8:4).
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