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Body Life Death Mind
Editor's note: This transcript has
been lightly edited to bring clarification to certain points of the
dialogue and for easier readability. For this reason, it does not match
the corresponding audio mp3 word-for-word. However, the overall content
and the expressed ideas remain unchanged.
Around page 52-53 in the Course (1st edition, see 2nd ed. Manual for Teachers 5-II.1) it starts talking about instincts, which I had learned in my physiology classes were in the body; for warmth, sex, food and the reflex instincts when you get a whack on the knee. But basically Jesus says no, instincts are not in the body. The mind makes the decision and then the ego wants to gratify itself through the body. The body is just this kind of neutral learning instrument. That was another big one. I thought my body was learning things. When I played tennis over the years and I would hit hundreds of back hand cross court strokes it seemed like I learned as a person or a body, how to hit a back hand cross court. It seemed like unconscious and like second nature, but then I got to the Course where Jesus says that the body doesn’t learn. That the body is a learning device and that the mind learns. The mind has learned this world and it’s got to unlearn it.
So, then I got to page 97 (2nd ed. T-6.V.A, page 105) where he spells it out; Jesus talks about what the ego uses the body for and what the Holy Spirit uses it for. I need to know that. If the ego has the purpose in my mind to use the body and the world to reinforce guilt and to keep me asleep I want to wake up. I want to know the difference between the ego’s use of the body and the Holy Spirit’s. So, on page 97 he says, “The Holy Spirit uses the body solely as a means of communication." Period. "The ego uses the body for pride, for pleasure and for attack.” Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. If this imposter in my mind is using the body and using the world for these purposes and it’s keeping me asleep then that’s helpful to know.
So, then I went a little bit further in the Course and it was the same kind of thing. There was one part that was about the special love relationship and it basically said that all guilt in the special relationship comes from the use of the body. There was a sentence in there and that helps me too. It’s not because of the person that I’m dating or the person I’m with a lot has inherently anything good or bad about them, but it’s about if I’m going to give my mind to the ego to use or am I going give it to the Holy Spirit.
There are other passages like around page 300 or 301
(T-16.VI.4) where it talks about the “Great Rays” which
is just this brilliant light in our mind and the remembrance of God
and he said in order to really approach or to understand the Great Rays
you have to give up all the uses that the ego has for the body in the
world. It makes perfect sense that if there’s this imposter in
the mind and if you give your mind to the purposes of it, then you stay
in guilt and fear.
So, the deeper you go into these things, those sections are very deep sections, and the mind can get very resistant to some of the stuff on special relationships. But, it’s good because the more we can get clear on these things, the more you can just see the imposter for what it is and then you can withdraw your investment from it. So, you see how important that is. If we all really want to wake up, if we all really want to be committed to this then the more we can be clear on the egos tricks and the more we can see past them, then we’re free. There’s nothing that can keep us from being in Peace of Mind.
Participant 1: There’s one thing that you said that really helped me a lot. You said the whole purpose of the body is communication. I forgot where I’ve heard it but it said the sole purpose of the body is for communicating love, and that really seemed meaningful and that made sense.
Speaker: It just throws it into a different context. I think most of us when we think of death - I was looking through the Course on death the other day - and most of us have a sense of death equated with the death of the body or death of bodies, whether in the animal kingdom or whatever, or just the death of relatives and friends. I went back to the workbook and the lessons 163 and 167 in the Course where he started describing death and I think I’ll just pop to one of those because it was like his definitions of death were not what you would think of them.
Participant 2: Not Webster’s.
Speaker: Yeah, Webster's... And Jesus has some interesting ones. The very first paragraph of lesson 163 when he starts talking about death he starts out with a beautiful idea: There is no death. The Son of God is free. And then he goes: Death is a thought that takes on many forms, often unrecognized. It may appear as sadness, fear, anxiety or doubt; as anger, faithlessness and lack of trust, concern for bodies; that one got me. A lot of times you’ll say to somebody, "Have a safe trip! I’ll call you when you get to the other end because I’m concerned that you’ll make it alright." It was kind of like concern for bodies: death. I didn’t think that was death, you know! [laughter]
Participant 2: I thought that was love!
Speaker: I thought that was love, not death. "Envy, and all forms in which the wish to be as you are not may come to tempt you." And then a few pages later, in lesson 167, he gives a few more. He says: "In this world, there appears to be a state that is life's opposite. You call it death. Yet we have learned that the idea of death takes many forms. It is the one idea which underlies all feelings that are not supremely happy." And then here he goes on with another sentence: "All sorrow, loss, anxiety and suffering and pain, even a little sigh of weariness, a slight discomfort or the merest frown, acknowledge death." Well, we’ve got a little bit different definition than I’ve been used to: a frown, a sigh of weariness! How many times have you come home from work and gone, [sigh] boy, am I tired! So he’s slowly starting to teach our minds that there aren’t any small upsets. There is a thing called supreme happiness or joy or peace and that’s our natural condition and anything that’s a deviation from it is death. So, you can see that we really need to get clear on these beliefs and everything before we can be totally free of death. It takes it out of the context of all those questions of where am I going to go when I die etc, which is presuming that there is life in the body somehow when this body dies, there’s an afterlife.
If people ask if there is life on other planets, we'll say: there is no life on this planet! That seems to be such a mind bender but when you think about if life is our Will lined up with God and the Holy Spirit then it starts to make sense. Our true life is in our mind. Then you think, oh yeah but it sure seems to be real kind of a flip from a lot of things that we believe.
On a late part of the Course Jesus says don’t inappropriately try to deny the body. It’s such a deeply rooted thing that it would be denial – like an ostrich with its head in the sand – to say “you didn’t hit me” or “you’re not here, we’re not here, I’m not here, we’re not having this conversation”. That’s a denial of what’s on the screen. But, Jesus does say deny: the belief that error can hurt you. You always have the power when we get back to the interpretation level, to really look at your interpretation and to start to really see that this is a belief. There are a lot of beliefs that have to be looked at before experientially you can see that. Companionship and loss seem real as long as there’s still an investment.
Participant 3: I was aware though, it was a funeral within the last few years, that I don’t have the anxiety level. I don’t have that. I’m just ok about being there because I’m aware that there’s sadness and grief and so on. I just don’t have any investment in it like I did which has really helped me to take care of my father who’s 91. I can do that in a very loving way now without feeling this overwhelming sadness and grief. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just sort of different.
Speaker: Yes. That’s why it’s so important to go deep because a lot of times people can have catch-words or phrases like “ok Jesus I want to take your hand” or “Holy Spirit help me see this differently” but until we start to really get at the ego thought system and really start to see it for what it is then the mind can still try tricks where it can try to say the right word. Ok, 1, 2, 3, here the magic word “help me see this differently”. And then “Why am I still feeling so upset?” That’s why it’s so important to really get into looking at what the ego’s system is because until you really see it for what it is there’s a part of the mind that believes that the ego offers something.
Participant 3: You know that line about seeing the Christ in your brother. So, what do you stand and you stare at him? I remember that was the hardest thing for me. I remember going in a restaurant one time and in came this woman in a wheel chair. I could feel the anxiety. I let my thoughts come to the surface of my mind. I took a look at the thoughts as they paraded across the screen of my mind which was, “oh God that could happen to me one day. I want to see the Christ in her. I don’t want to see this crippled woman.” And part of my mind screamed “But, all I can see is this crippled woman!” So, somewhere in all this mishmash role of trying to see the Christ, somewhere in the Course it did say just be aware that there is something beyond the appearance. You don’t have to figure it out. Just know. It was kind of a little bit easier that way.
Speaker: It’s a relief that it is not necessary to seek for what is true but it is necessary to seek for what is false. How many of us have gone “alright I’m on this passionate quest for truth. I’m going to find it.” Then it gets down to that subtraction thing we were just talking about. What is false is what needs to be subtracted away. The truth is just right there under your nose all the time. It’s not like it’s somewhere way out there. The Presence is always here but it’s about starting to see that.
Participant 4: Wapnick says the mind is not in the body but I always thought that the mind was in the body for some reason.
Speaker: The mind in the deceived state can be equated with the brain, which is of course in the body. But, once again the brain is on the screen just like the bodies are on the screen. Remember what we're talking about: that the screen comes about from projection of thoughts that are in the mind. So, the brain is just a projection, just like the body, of a thought in the mind. Now that’s an important distinction to make because otherwise when you start to go to Course groups people will say, “I kind of get this thing about self responsibility and choosing and this and that”, but then they’ll get into this thing about babies born with spine deffects, children that are abused or raped or whatever. There are things that go on where it’s like: Well, I don’t know what the Course could mean... The belief is that the child is helpless and they talk about that it doesn’t even have a fully developed brain, or how could a child make decisions. The only way to really get clear on that is what you were just saying, that the mind is not in the body. A guilty mind believes it’s guilty and will call forth witnesses on the screen to reinforce to it that it’s guilty. As soon as the mind is able to transcend or to let go of these false beliefs that really are inducing the guilt then witnesses automatically will be in the world that will show that.
Participant: Back to the manifestation thing again. It keeps coming back to that. Ugly out here is ugly in here. It manifests in waves that is consistent with what’s going on…
Speaker: But it starts in the mind.
Participant: Right. I’m not trying to fix what’s out here. I’m just saying that if I notice that this out here is not fixed, then I know that this in here is not fixed.
Speaker: A happy world or happy dream is what you’re talking about where the mind is so healed and corrected that it will be a happy dream.
Participant: Could you repeat that again about the mind and the brain and the body? I kind of got lost.
Speaker: The Mind is very expansive. The Mind is very
powerful. The Mind is not contained. There’s one point where Jesus
says, you are in the Mind of God and God is in your Mind. So, Mind doesn’t
follow the laws of this world. We think of things in terms of scales.
Well, what contains what? Is my Mind in God’s Mind or is God’s
Mind in my Mind. Jesus says it’s both ways.
Speaker: Yes, it’s literally One Mind.
Participant: It’s talking about big ‘M’ as opposed to little ‘m’.
Speaker: Right, that’s the split mind; the small ‘m’.
Participant: But, the split mind is still outside the body?
Speaker: Cause and effect are simultaneous. The split mind is an optical illusion that ideas can leave they’re source and it seems to see a world that has left its source. When Jesus says within he’s talking about abstractness. In other words, another way of thinking about it would be that there’s a screen out here. You were saying: Where is the mind? But place is a concept that’s in the mind. The mind can believe in concepts such as time, place and space. That turns it around in the sense that place is just a concept that’s in the mind. Jesus is teaching in the Course that the brain doesn’t think and that it doesn’t have thoughts. The brain is a thought. It’s a projection of a thought. My thoughts are images I have made. The body, the world and the brain would all be just a projection of a thought. So, that kind of takes it out of the context. Once again, all the neurology and the medical model will look for are different disorders of the brain. There are certain lobes that you can activate and everything. It’s still, in a subtle way, looking for the cause of things in the brain. Basically, the Course takes it metaphysically back to the mind where the thoughts are. That’s why it’s important. Other than that, you could fall into traps about, well, somebody’s in a coma or unconscious. It seems like that at times, cuts off all communication. We’re so used to communication being through the senses. Here comes the Course and its saying communication is at a thought level or a Mind level.
Participant: But, we’re using our brains to get in touch with the mind. Otherwise, aren’t we getting in touch with the Holy Spirit? How do we get in touch with the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, how are we using the body as communication?
Speaker: Well, once again the brain is just neutral to the Holy Spirit. A lot of times you hear things in a lot of the new age literature about right brain/left brain. Sometimes right brain is more intuitive, left brain is more analytical. What the Course does is it takes it out of right brain/left brain and lifts it out of the context of talking about brains, and Jesus talks about right mind and wrong mind. Literally, that’s where we really can come to the release, because the wrong mind is all backwards. That’s what we were talking about earlier. It believes that the screen is the cause and that the state of mind is the effect. The right mind sees that everything is just a decision of the mind. In that sense, it’s just important to really get clear on the right mind and the wrong mind and then you can let go of the wrong mind because once you can see it for what it is you let go of it.
Remember at the beginning we were talking about decision and where decision is. Remember the discussion about the blue shirt and the green shirt? It certainly does seem as if there are persons and we’re making decisions every day and not between just shirts but lots of things.
Participant: You’re saying that’s all in the script.
Speaker: Yes, and basically you were saying “but what do I really have a choice on?” Remember we addressed that as well. But, ultimately if you really follow the Course in and you really train your mind, beneath all the beliefs it comes back to I’m a mind and I’m making a choice between the Holy Spirit or the ego. I’m making that choice every second but it doesn’t seem that way. Sometimes it seems like our emotions all of a sudden get stirred up and we don’t even know what happened. We can’t even think of the trigger event. We just feel a melancholy. There are all these beliefs in the mind that have to be looked at because the decision is being made at a very deep level at the basement and then it’s filtering up. We were using one example of: here it is I make the decision for the Holy Spirit or the ego. It comes up…time, space, bodies: I’m a man, I’m Cincinnatian but I’m over in Indianapolis now speaking at a Unity, at a Course in Miracles meeting. And it comes out on the surface like that. But, basically the decision is being made at a very deep level.
Participant: Doesn’t the Course also say you can make the decision in a split second or maybe even less and then immediately your mind forgets that it made it and so therefore you see it as you had no power in the decision, it happened to me.
Speaker: Yes, that’s in lesson 136: Sickness is a Defense against the Truth. Literally, it’s like the mind waves the wand and then it quickly disassociates and forgets what it did.
Participant: Ken Wapnick says: why would anyone want to be here? We’re all going to get sick unless some of us progress to where we can just leave the world without getting sick. 99.999% of us get sick and leave this world, right?
Speaker: It still assumes that we came into the world. But, there are lessons that are really high in the workbook that says when I’m healed, I am not healed alone. There is still a pervading belief that’s in the mind that somehow says: "Alright I’m taking the Course. There are all these other people that are out there that are doing the best that they can. But, I’m working on this path. Eventually, if I really continue with this and follow it all the way and accept the Atonement then I’ll leave the world. But there will still be this world going on back there that’s still twisted but I’ll be out of it." What the Course is saying is that the world is the hallucination. When you accept the Atonement for yourself then it will get really bright in the sense that your perception will be healed. True perception of the real world, and then the world will fade and disappear. You see how different that is then a sense of coming into the world as a soul or a person to the sense that it’s my hallucination. Hey, that makes it simple. When I accept the correction and the healing then the hallucination will be over. The thing that’s so difficult is that the deceived mind believes that there really is an objective world, a real objective world that 'I' came into and now I’m going to go out of, and then it’s like it’s going to continue on. But, Jesus is saying there is no world apart from your own mind.
Participant: Well, my husband says, Ok so there’s no world and it’s all a big dream so what does it matter what you do anyway then? That always leaves me stuck and I say things like, well it’s because you have some lessons to learn, and he says, no, no you say this is a dream. I don’t have to worry about what I do. It’s all a big dream and no matter what I do when that body goes I’m at home anyway and I never know what to say.
Participant: Christ answers that really clearly. He says we’re here to love God and love each other as we love him. That’s pretty clear.
Participant: And if you don’t you will still get back to the dream.
Speaker: Remember how we talked about the two levels? It’s so common to say ‘what should I do or what shouldn’t I do’ but that’s still at the behavioral level. Whereas Jesus says that the whole point of the Course is to start to think like God which would be the Holy Spirit’s thought system. And he says think like me. Use me as your model for learning. But, it takes it away from why do we do anything? From the do-question to ‘well, all I know is that I’m trying to align my mind with my Father’s Will for I’m trying to think only the thoughts that I think with God’. A lot of the metaphysical systems and new age systems that you’ll see in a lot of the magazines say: create your own reality. In the one sense, Jesus talks about the law of the Kingdom, which is; what you extend you are. And what happens when it comes through the ego’s lens and gets twisted into this realm is instead; what you project you will believe. So, in other words if you have an attack thought in your mind; “I can’t stand to have that in my mind. It’s too intolerable so I’ll project it out onto the screen.”
The big difference between the Course and a lot of things is level confusion. This is very subtle. Take the idea “I create my own reality”. If you mean by reality in terms of the script then there is a level confusion because the Course says that all creation is entirely Spirit. In other words, we talked about the Father creates the Son, creates creation. The guilt comes in when I say “I create my own reality”, that’s where the new age thoughts will come in, like, I created my own sickness. Lesson #2 of the Course: I have given everything I see all the meaning that it has for me. There is no objective world out there which it sure seems like, in which events cause us to feel certain ways, but it’s all our beliefs and our expectations and our meanings that we read into them. As soon as you can start to grasp that principle just in the slightest, then you can start to see that: this is my way to empowerment. If all my upset comes from a misperception and Jesus can help me get clear and heal the perception and get in touch with these false ideas and beliefs that I have then that’s my point of power. I can actually reach a place where I won’t be upset by anything.
There’s a part in the Course where Jesus talks about questions and he says that there are these things called double questions which really is a statement because it asks and answers. It’s got the answer already built in the question. You’re always asking one of two questions. One of them might be do I want to know God’s Will for me? which is a real open ended question to receive the Spirit’s guidance. The other one is which of these illusions will fill my lack? Whenever we start striving for things in this world that’s where all the outcomes come in. That’s when expectations come in. Really, under this question, deeper in the mind is the presumption of lack and then on top of that is the question which of these illusions, which of these idols, will fill my lack? Whenever we go through a day and we get in an upset mood that’s the question we’re asking in our mind. Let’s say I’m working on a project and I get half way through it and I don’t have the tools that I need so I get upset. Instead of asking what is God’s Will for me in this? The question somewhere in the mind is I’ve already decided that I need to finish my project for a happy day and therefore, and part of the illusion is that what I need to be happy is getting the project finished, and therefore I’m going to perceive not having the right tool as an obstruction to my happiness, and you can see where it all comes back to the question that I’m asking in my mind. Slowly as we let go of the cravings and desires for things of this world that we believe will bring us happiness, we’re freed of expectations. Therefore, you can more and more appreciate that all things work together for good. Maybe I’ve got a big investment in things having to go in a certain way. For example, if I’m driving along and I’m trying to go to a business meeting and a train comes along, the train just is and I see it coming and it just is, in the sense that trains just come and they go. But, if I perceive myself as losing my job because I’ll be late for work because of this darn train and on and on, you can see where the thoughts, if you can get into it from that misperception, I could really work myself into a good upset. When I start doing that and I have all these outcomes and goals and self concept things, then I can’t see the divine order in that train because that train is perceived as an obstacle to something that I want more than the Peace of God. That’s pretty heavy duty, but when you start to see that with everything pretty soon it’s like…
Participant: Those things have the key of your Peace. This thing has the key to my peace and then you also can blame that thing for not giving me Peace when the truth is Peace is at hand.
Speaker: A lot of times when people get into this they will think, wait a minute now - if the world is an illusion - I like birds chirping and I like sunsets with all these pastels and colors and everything. Sometimes people have a little bit of a difficulty with: I want God to be in that sunset, darn it! I like that sunset. And what the Course is saying is that you really have to bring it back to a question of Purpose, because if we literally said that God’s in nature and God’s in sunsets and God’s in quiet rivers and blowing trees or whatever, and then we said, well maybe he’s not quite so apparent in concentration camps and in ghetto’s and in man-made concrete structures, like down town buildings. You see how we would be caught again because we would be limiting our Peace of mind to those nice scenic areas. Jesus wants us to literally have such a change of purpose that we can feel the presence of God in the middle of a concrete city or out there rowing down a river in the stream or looking at a beautiful sunset or walking by and hearing an air hammer going. To literally be able to so train our mind that we can be so tuned in that there wouldn’t be a difference between the air hammer and riding down a stream. You can see where this is leading. It’s about really really changing the purpose of your mind to such an extreme that you’re not dependant on anything external for your Peace. Remember that nature as well as everything else is a backdrop and the purpose, of holding the Holy Spirit’s purpose, is where my Peace of mind will come from.
Participant: So, you look at nature and what do you see? You’re looking for the purpose God gives to…
Speaker: Let’s take that as a specific example. There’s a point in the Course where Jesus says that you could receive salvation from a table. You’re reading meaning into that table, the texture of the table, the size of the table maybe, what it’s made out of… All these things are ego meanings that are read onto the table, but he says that the table shares the purpose of the universe. In other words, the actual table or the cup shares that purpose, or the birds chirping or the sunset or whatever. That’s where it comes down to letting go of all my preconceived notions of what the table is or what a cup is or what a sunset is or a chirping bird. Now, that’s like a starting point. We can actually practice with that.
Where the ego really comes up is in relationships. It’s kind of like with every person that we seem to meet, the ego has a computer file on them and it’s all based on the past and all our past encounters and exchanges. You see somebody and maybe there’s a little bit of ambivalence because maybe the last time you got together you didn’t part on friendly terms and that’s in the computer and the ego’s going eh, you’re still not connected with this person. The Course is literally helping us to start to raise the computer up and start to say this past is preventing me from seeing my brother as he truly is right now in the present.
In the deceived state, the mind has to be trained to hold on to Peace as a goal. Now this is interesting because for me, when I was working with the Course, I was working with the steps of forgiveness for a long time and then there came a point where I read the Setting the goal section, where he talked about holding the goal out front. This seems like a real benefit that it’s easier to hold peace out in front, to carry peace as your goal out in front when you’re going to work or you’re going to meet somebody. If you really hold it out in front, like a torch in your mind, and say whatever happens, no matter what is said or done I want peace more than anything, then it’s amazing how it works! You can use this in a grocery store, a Laundromat or whatever. You can start to practice holding peace out front and just watch how the interactions change, like you were saying with your boss, just holding those thoughts, you could just see how powerful the changes were. So, actually I see that as almost an expedient. Because the other way would be to say, oh, well I’ll just get busy and caught in the rat race and then as you kind of get busy and caught in the rat race you start to feel a little annoyed and you’re not even aware of it. You start to feel a little more annoyed and before you know it you’re in a fit of rage and you don’t feel like turning to God, that’s the last thing you feel like doing. You don’t even want to see the Course at that point. It’s much more difficult to work the mind back from that place then to simply just say, Ok, I don’t know what anything is for today and I’m just going to hold the abstract idea of Peace of mind. You will then perceive everybody as trying to help you achieve your goal, if you hold on to that goal. You will be looking for witnesses to peace if you really are anchored in it.
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