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Freedom is of the Mind, Not the Body
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.
“You still have too much faith in the body as a source of strength. What plans do you make that do not involve its comfort or protection or enjoyment in some way? This makes the body an end and not a means in your interpretation, and this always means you still find sin attractive. No one accepts Atonement for himself who still accepts sin as his goal.” T-18.VII.1
That’s almost like a companion paragraph to the one we just read. So it gets back to that interpretation thing: How am I perceiving the body? As long as I’m perceiving the body as the end, then I’m misperceiving it, and sin is still attractive. It can seem to be a pretty big stretch like Why is it that if I see my body as an end that I find sin attractive? How does that connect? Where does this stuff come in? There’s another paragraph that comes to mind that helps to start to bring that connection back. It’s way back in the back of the book, it’s on page 32 in The Manual for Teachers. So we’re trying to make the connection like What’s the big deal about making the body the end and still finding sin attractive; how is that sin? What he’s doing in a very specific way in this little section is he’s starting to point out all of the things (he gets pretty specific) of this world where the body is the focal point. The second paragraph starts out:
“It takes great learning both to realize and to accept the fact that the world has nothing to give. What can the sacrifice of nothing mean? It cannot mean that you have less because of it.” M-13.2
And here’s where he starts to zone in a bit:
“There is no sacrifice in the world's terms that does not involve the body. Think a while about what the world calls sacrifice. Power, fame, money, physical pleasure; who is the "hero" to whom all these things belong? Could they mean anything except to a body?” M-13.2
In a worldly sense, power, fame, money, and physical pleasure are all very rooted in the body. That’s what all the striving is about – trying to get ahead, trying to move up the totem pole, trying to get more than the next person. This term intelligence, you could throw this in too, in the sense that although being a mental kind of thing, it’s tied into that self image.
So that’s our key sentence right there. That’s why, by making the body an end sin is attractive. Once again, the natural condition of the mind and the true identity is pure Spirit, and it’s purely abstract. There’s no form connected with it at all. So once it starts associating with the body and with form and with the finite, then obviously it’s starting to seek outside of itself. Obviously it believes that it has thrown away its eternal home so to speak (or its eternal identity), and it's going to cling onto and attach onto what’s finite. Then the next sentence really gets at what happens:
“Once this confusion has occurred, it becomes impossible for the mind to understand that all the "pleasures" of the world are nothing. But what a sacrifice, – and it is sacrifice indeed! – all this entails. Now has the mind condemned itself to seek without finding; to be forever dissatisfied and discontented; to know not what it really wants to find.” M-13.3
Who has not experienced what he's talking about? That's been our whole lives! We've committed our whole lives to doing. Now he's telling us that it's backwards, but he's telling us that the Holy Spirit's in your mind and He has this great patience.
“Be not disturbed at all to think how He can change the role of means and end so easily in what God loves, and would have free forever. But be you rather grateful that you can be the means to serve His end. This is the only service that leads to freedom. To serve this end the body must be perceived as sinless, because the goal is Sinlessness. The lack of contradiction makes the soft transition from means to end as easy as is the shift from hate to gratitude before forgiving eyes. You will be sanctified by your brother, using your body only to serve the sinless. And it will be impossible for you to hate what serves whom you would heal.” T-22.VI.3
“In the holy instant, where the Great Rays replace the body in awareness, the recognition of relationships without limits is given you.”
That's what you're talking about – relationships without limits!
“But in order to see this, it is necessary to give up every use the ego has for the body, and to accept the fact that the ego has no purpose you would share with it. For the ego would limit everyone to a body for its own purposes, and while you think it has a purpose, you will choose to utilize the means by which it tries to turn its purpose into accomplishment. This will never be accomplished. Yet you have surely recognized that the ego, whose goals are altogether unattainable, will strive for them with all its might, and will do so with the strength that you have given it.” T-15.IX.3
It's just slowly getting more accustomed to that sense of mind, that abstractness. There's a part of a section in the Course called Beyond the Body which says:
“Everyone has experienced what he would call a sense of being transported beyond himself. This feeling of liberation far exceeds the dream of freedom sometimes hoped for in special relationships. It is a sense of actual escape from limitations. If you will consider what this ‘transportation’ really entails, you will realize that it is a sudden unawareness of the body, and a joining of yourself and something else in which your mind enlarges to encompass it. It becomes part of you, as you unite with it. And both become whole, as neither is perceived as separate. What really happens is that you have given up the illusion of a limited awareness, and lost your fear of union. The love that instantly replaces it extends to what has freed you, and unites with it. And while this lasts you are not uncertain of your Identity, and would not limit It. You have escaped from fear to peace, asking no questions of reality, but merely accepting it. You have accepted this instead of the body, and have let yourself be one with something beyond it, simply by not letting your mind be limited by it.” T-18.VI.11
Then when people are talking about near-death experiences, this paragraph always comes to mind:
“This can occur regardless of the physical distance that seems to be between you and what you join; of your respective positions in space; and of your differences in size and seeming quality. Time is not relevant; it can occur with something past, present or anticipated. The ‘something’ can be anything and anywhere; a sound, a sight, a thought, a memory, and even a general idea without specific reference. Yet in every case, you join it without reservation because you love it, and would be with it. And so you rush to meet it, letting your limits melt away, suspending all the ‘laws’ your body obeys and gently setting them aside.” T-18.VI.12
Then in the next paragraph it says: “You are not really 'lifted out' of it; it cannot contain you.” I think that's a great sentence because it gets away even from the sense of being lifted out of the body.
“Minds are joined; bodies are not. Only by assigning to the mind the properties of the body does separation seem to be possible.” T-18.VI.3 This is where that whole idea of separate minds (your mind, my mind) comes in. It's kind of like every person here in the room has their own private mind. That's what the ego says, and here comes the Course, and it's like, No way! “And it is mind that seems to be fragmented and private and alone. Its guilt, which keeps it separate, is projected to the body, which suffers and dies because it is attacked to hold the separation in the mind, and let it not know its Identity.” T-18.VI.3 This is where sickness comes from. Bodies can't be sick seems like a ludicrous idea in the world. We've got a lot of evidence, it seems, with the body's eyes that the body can be sick. But the mind is sick. The body is a neutral thing that is going to witness to the mind whatever it wants. As long as the body is seen as sick, you can get into level confusion and calling forth miracles to heal the body. And it's still like saying sickness is in the body and it's real, and Please, Holy Spirit, do something to heal this body. If the bodies could really be sick, really sick, what does this say about God? Where is this coming from?
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