[acimlessons_list] LESSON 356 - DECEMBER 22
sue at circleofa.org
Tue Dec 21 06:21:00 EST 2010
LESSON 356 - DECEMBER 22
"Sickness is but another name for sin.
Healing is but another name for God.
The miracle is thus a call to Him."
See complete instructions in separate document.
A short summary:
* Read the commentary paragraph slowly and personally.
* Pray the prayer, perhaps several times.
* Morning and evening: Repeat the idea and then spend time in Open Mind
* Hourly remembrance: Repeat the idea and then spend a quiet moment in
* Frequent reminders: Repeat the idea often within each hour.
* Response to temptation: Repeat the idea whenever upset, to restore peace.
* Read the "What Is" section slowly and thoughtfully once during the day.
Practice suggestion: I have found it helpful to reword the final line.
Instead of "The miracle is thus a call to Him," I say, "To heal is thus to
speak His Name."
It seems to me the Course is always equating things you don't expect to be
equated, like it does here: Sickness is another name for sin; healing is
another name for God. And toward the end of the lesson, "To call Your Name
is but to call his own" (1:6), that is, the Son's own name, or my own name.
The Course suggests that when we find God we will have found our Self, and
when we find our Self, we will have found God; we and God share the same
Name. It seems to be constantly saying that things we believe are quite
different are in reality the same. Its advice for a new year is "Make this
year different by making it all the same" (T-15.XI.10:11). The Course is
constantly boiling everything down to just one problem, the separation, and
one solution, the Atonement. And it tells us that complexity is of the ego;
therefore, simplicity is of God.
How are sickness and sin the same thing? First, dispense with what this does
<not> mean: that being sick is a sin. Anyone who has gone through the entire
Workbook and studied the Text cannot possibly hold that mistaken
understanding; that is most definitely not the meaning here. There is no
such thing as sin; we only imagine there is. This lesson is most
emphatically not saying that if you are sick it is because you are a sinful
person, or that being sick makes you a sinner. Being sick is nothing to be
guilty about! If you are sick, and anyone even suggests to you that "you
must be doing something wrong because spiritual people don't get sick," stop
listening to that person. The thoughts of our minds do indeed cause
sickness. "All sickness is mental illness" (P-2.IV.8:1), according to the
Psychotherapy supplement. But mistaken thoughts are not "sin"; they are
When the lesson says that sickness is another name for sin, it means that
the sickness of the body is a reflection or manifestation of the mind's
belief in the reality of sin. Sickness, says the Course, can be a kind of
self-punishment, in which we attack ourselves because of our guilt, hoping
thereby to avert the punishment of God we are expecting. "Sickness is anger
taken out upon the body, so that it will suffer pain" (T-28.VI.5:1).
I believe that when the Course uses the word sickness it is usually
referring to the thought of sickness and not to the physical symptoms.
("Sickness is of the mind, and has nothing to do with the body"
[M-5.II.3:2].) A crippled limb, for instance, can be used by the ego to
further thoughts of inadequacy, guilt, and separation, or it can be used by
the Holy Spirit to break a person's identification with the body and to turn
them to God. It is the thought, and only the thought, which is important.
Sickness is "a defense against the truth" (W-pI.136.Heading). We have to
remember that in the thought system of the Course everything, including
sickness, is a choice we have made, and that choices must have some purpose
behind them. The important thing is not the physical symptom. The important
thing is the choice, and the purpose behind it.
When we choose to be sick, at some level we are choosing to identify
ourselves as a body rather than a spirit or mind. The "truth" we are
defending against is that we are a spirit or mind. We are defending against
the realization that we are one with God and with everyone else, in God.
"The strange, haunting thought that [we] might be something beyond this
little pile of dust [is] silenced and stilled" (W-pI.136.8:4) when we are
sick. Sickness makes the body seem very real, the only real thing. It seeks
to let the illusion of the bodily identity take the place of the truth of
our mind, our spiritual identity.
How is that like sin? According to the Workbook, sin "is the means by which
the mind.seeks to let illusions take the place of truth" (W-pII.4.1:2). That
is exactly what sickness does! When I see "sin" in myself or in a brother,
it proves the "sinner" is evil, and therefore separate from God. When I see
"sickness" in myself or in another, it proves the body is real and therefore
separate from God.
Sin and sickness are the same in that both are means that the mind uses to
try to prove that the separation is real. They are not the same in form, but
they are identical in purpose. They are both the ego's attempt to prove that
I am what I am not. It is the thought of separation which the Course aims to
heal, not the physical symptom of sickness, and not the specific behavior of
a person. The Course is concerned with the cause and not the effect.
I do believe that if the mind is healed-if the person is healed on the level
of thought (which is the level of cause)-it will often result in changes in
the form of the person's life. Behavior will often change when thoughts
change; physical health will often improve when thoughts change. The change
on the level of the body, however, is never the concern of the Course. The
body is insignificant (M-5.II.3:12), which means it is without meaning. If
the body is insignificant, it means that the body signifies nothing. If our
thoughts align with God's Thought, the body will serve the purpose of the
Holy Spirit whatever its form. Even if the body dies. The Course is
concerned only with healing the mind because the body does not matter.
"Healing is but another name for God." To heal the mind, therefore, means to
recognize the identity of my mind and God's mind. To be healed is to
recognize that I share God's nature. When the Course talks of healing, it is
not talking about getting over the flu! It is talking about letting go of my
identification with this body that appears to be suffering chills and fever,
recognizing that the body is not my Self, but that I am the eternal Son of
God. It is speaking, as always, of a change of mind. When the identity of
myself and my body is broken, I will know that what happens to the body does
not affect who I really am; therefore, what happens to the body does not
matter to me. It may get well and it may not; if I am no longer identified
with it, I don't care which it is.
Sin and sickness are the same thing in the sense that both are
manifestations of our belief in separation and our resulting (but mistaken)
guilt. They are both healed through the miracle of forgiveness. Healing is a
return to wholeness, a return to our true Self, and since our Self is one
with God, all healing is a return to God. To offer a miracle of forgiveness
or healing is "thus a call to Him."
Another way of putting this is that all healing leads to God in the end,
even if we are not thinking of or believing in God as we experience it. If
it is healing, it is of God. The Psychotherapy supplement says, "The patient
need not think of truth as God in order to make progress in salvation"
(P-1.5:1). If there is healing, and if there is forgiveness instead of
condemnation, God is there, even if He is not named or acknowledged.
Everyone who learns to forgive will remember God.
It does not matter where he is, what seems to be his
problem, nor what he believes he has become. (1:2)
God answers when we call, even when we don't realize we are calling Him. He
answers even when we think we do not deserve an answer. I believe there are
hundreds of times we have called on God, and He has answered, and we never
made the connection. We failed to recognize Him even as we received His
help. Our very pain and fear, the Course says, is a call for help. Do you
imagine that if the Holy Spirit recognizes all calls for help as what they
are, that He does not answer every one of them?
He is Your Son, and You will answer him. (1:3)
He answers us with His Name, which is a shorthand way of saying His Being or
His Nature. We are answered by what God is, because what He is is what we as
His Son are. God is without sin, and so are we; without sin we cannot be
sick, because sickness comes from belief in sin. When I realize my total
innocence I "cannot suffer pain" (1:5). God's Name is what speaks to me of
that innocence and tells me it must be so. How could God's offspring be
Let me learn, then, to call on God (whether I use that word or not). Let me
open my heart to innocence, gentleness, and mercy. Let me make healing my
aim, for myself and for others. In every encounter today let me remember: I
am here to heal; I am here to offer miracles; I am here to release from
WHAT AM I?
Part 6: W-pII.14.3:5-7
Our function, then, is to bring salvation to the world. "We do not seek a
function that is past the gate of Heaven" (3:5). In other words, we do not
disdain this "lowly" calling of bringing healing to this world of form; we
do not try to claim that we are fulfilling our function of creating (which
is our function in Heaven), and cannot be bothered with the base forms
within the illusion. Doing that is what one of my old Christian teachers
used to call "being too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use."
Knowledge will return when we have done our part. (3:6)
"Knowledge" refers to the perfection of Heaven, to direct knowing of the
truth, rather than the lower avenue of perception of forms. "Our part" is to
purify our perception of forms. Our part is to work within the illusion, to
turn the nightmare into a happy dream; only when we have done this will
We are concerned only with giving welcome to the truth.
We are not trying to directly apprehend the truth. We are not focused on
having mystical experiences of God, on bypassing the world of form and
leaving it behind, although, to be sure, we do seek to enter the holy
instant frequently to renew our vision of Heaven. Our primary concern,
however, is on "giving welcome to the truth"; that is, preparing ourselves
for it, making things ready for it, educating ourselves to accept it. And
that is something that goes on within this world, within this illusion we
call physical life. Here, the many holy instants we experience (and which we
desire to experience above all things) lead to a result: the Holy Spirit
sends us out in "busy doing" here within the world, carrying with us the
quiet center we have found in the holy instant, and sharing it with the
world (see T-18.VII.8:1-5).
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