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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.

David: The Light of the Holy Relationship
“Do you want freedom of the body or of the mind? For both you cannot have. Which do you value? Which is your goal? For one you see as means; the other, end. And one must serve the other and lead to its predominance, increasing its importance by diminishing its own. Means serve the end, and as the end is reached the value of the means decreases, eclipsed entirely when they are recognized as functionless. No one but yearns for freedom and tries to find it. Yet he will seek for it where he believes it is and can be found. He will believe it possible of mind or body, and he will make the other serve his choice as means to find it.” T-22.VI.1
When I first read that I thought Oh, now it’s getting clearer and simpler. Because this fits in for me with the whole metaphysics of the Course; that the whole purpose that the world was made up was for the mind to run away from the pure abstract light, that abstract Oneness, and run into the concrete, into the specifics and become identified with form. To forget, dissociate from the light, and even forget about the mind. I know when I was growing up you could talk about brains, and you could talk about bodies, and you could talk about the concrete and the form; but there wasn’t a lot of discussion of mind, or it was one of those really hazy, vague kind of things to even talk about mind or thoughts or anything like this. This paragraph begins to start to put this into this perspective: Which do you value, and where do you want your freedom? Do you want freedom of the body or freedom of the mind? They are mutually exclusive in that whichever one you decide on is going to be your value, and it’s going to be your freedom. Whichever one you decide where the freedom is, then you will automatically pursue that as your end, and you’ll just use the other one as a means to reach the end. So I look at my whole life, and in a sense, that’s what I was doing—sleeping— in the sense of all the years spent in college, all the education we do, all of the skills and abilities we learn with our mind, intelligence and everything, and if that’s seen as the means, then the end is the body. To buy bigger, better things for it; to shelter it in better ways; to provide more conveniences for it; more comfort – da-da, da-da, da-da, then obviously the mind is like the means that's being worked, and the end is the body. What this paragraph is starting to say is Which to you want? Do you want to be in a free and open mind? To do so, you’ve got to let the body be the means. The I Need Do Nothing section says in the first paragraph:

“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.
Friend: …or violinists strutting around and trying to figure out who’s better.
David: There’s lots of things. In a sense he’s using this to get at the meaning of sacrifice. I remember last year before the elections when they had the Democratic National Convention, with lots of speeches, and there was a lot of “We must sacrifice for our children and for future generations.” In many ways it’s just noticing all the ways that sacrifice comes in, in the belief that somehow there’s a good benefit to sacrifice. When I listened to the speeches, it still had to do with better money, better jobs, better living quarters and everything. And here’s the key point: “Could they mean anything except to a body? Yet a body cannot evaluate.” M-13.2 So right away he’s ruling out the body and the brain because basically the body in the world is like a learning device. All it does is just respond to the intentions of the mind. Bodies don’t judge; bodies don’t evaluate; bodies don’t even learn. They don’t even react, they are just told to react. It’s kind of like a robot or a puppet that just responds to the intentions of the mind. Now we’re shifting to the mind part, though:
“By seeking after such things the mind associates itself with the body, obscuring its Identity and losing sight of what it really is.” M-13.2

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
In this profound confusion the mind is completely turned around and twisted, because it's identifying with something that it's not. In doing so it's completely throwing away all remembrance of its natural state.
“Where freedom of the body has been chosen, the mind is used as means whose value lies in its ability to contrive ways to achieve the body's freedom. Yet freedom of the body has no meaning, and so the mind is dedicated to serve illusions. This is a situation so contradictory and so impossible that anyone who chooses this has no idea of what is valuable. Yet even in this confusion, so profound it cannot be described, the Holy Spirit waits in gentle patience, as certain of the outcome as He is sure of His Creator's Love. He knows this mad decision was made by one as dear to His Creator as love is to itself.” T-22.VI.2

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
What's valuable to me about the Course is that it teaches that there are many forms of attack that are not seen as forms of attack. The mind in its deceived state doesn't even know what the forms of attack are. What the Course starts to do through the Special Love Relationship sections and various different sections here is start to say you don't know all the forms of attack, but if you can get clear on that, you can withdraw your mind from that. As our friend was saying, you can stop attacking yourself.
Friend: How about this? “When the body ceases to attract you, and when you place no value on it as a means of getting anything, then there will be no interference in communication and your thoughts will be as free as God's.” T-15.IX.7
David: Three paragraphs before that it begins with:

“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.
Friend: There is no out-of-body experience. There is no in-the-body experience.
David: Jesus asks a question for us all tonight: “Which do you want – freedom of the mind or freedom of the body? For both you cannot have.” We went through three paragraphs where he was kind of saying You'll use one as means and one as end. Whichever one you pick as the answer to this question, you'll use the other one as means. That's what we've done in our so-called lives in this world. We've picked the body as the end, and used our minds as the means to serve the body. Now the Holy Spirit is saying OK now, we'll turn it around. You wanted to have a free mind didn't you? Let me use your body to express miracles.
The beginning of the section we just read is one of the clearest statements in the Course about mind/bodies. It's got that famous line: “Minds are joined; bodies are not.” It's also got the idea we were talking about tonight which is so basic to the whole Course, and he repeats it over and over in the Text and the Workbook too: “Mind cannot attack.” He says it twice in there. If minds could really attack, then guilt would be real and justified, yet the deceived mind is SO convinced that minds can attack; it's SO convinced that it's guilty. This section goes on about what it tries to do to displace or to get rid of this guilt which it believes is absolutely real. It's positively sure that it is guilty. It's convinced, like locked in, split and fighting itself. To me, this is one of the best sections of the Course for getting into these two levels—minds are joined and bodies are not.
The second paragraph in Beyond the Body which begins: “What could God give but knowledge of Himself?” really gets into what the deceived mind is trying to do to hold onto the guilt. “The belief that you could give and get something else (other than the knowledge of God), something outside yourself, has cost you the awareness of Heaven and of your Identity.” T-18.VI.2 Now he gets into the main thing that's going on with the deception: “And you have done a stranger thing than you yet realize. You have displaced your guilt to your body from your mind.” See, the mind is so convinced that it is guilty it's not going to try to mince words with God on this. It's so convinced that it is guilty and it displaces this guilt onto the body. “Yet a body cannot be guilty, for it can do nothing of itself. You who think you hate your body deceive yourself. You hate your mind.” This is getting to the heart of it! A lot of times you hear people saying: Oh, I'm too fat, or I'm too thin, My body is breaking down, I turned 40, I turned 50, I turned 70, I'm getting old, I'm getting wrinkly—this sense of I hate my body. The Course is saying that's just trying to dump it. You hate your mind! But as soon as we can start to see how deep this hatred is in our mind, then we can start to change our mind because we know where the problem is. The body's got nothing to do with it. “You hate your mind, for guilt has entered into it, and it would remain separate from your brother's which it cannot do.” T-18.VI.2

“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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