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Going Deeper part 20 

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.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14
Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20 | Part 21 | Part 22 | Part 23 | Part 24 | Part 25 | Part 26

Life as a Choice and the Final Illusion: The Belief in Death

Speaker: At any instant Life is available as a choice. Even at an instant of seeming death of the body the mind can make a choice for Life.

Participant: So the death of the body as such doesn’t automatically imply that there’s going to be eternal life, awakening, heaven, etc?

Speaker: Yes. It’s still an interpretation, a construct to attempt to explain things. In other words, it’s believed that birth is real, that life is in the world and constitutes growing and aging and having experiences and there’s a linear life that one can look back on and even look forward to, and that death of the body is the end of a span of life. Believing this the mind tries to make up something to reassure itself, like, “Even though this wasn’t the most wonderful experience here on earth, God is waiting and as soon as I die I’ll go to heaven immediately”. Some believe that everyone goes to heaven and some would say that everyone is judged and that some go to hell and some go to heaven. There are all kinds of explanations; reincarnation; keep evolving until you make it back to the Source, and so on. Lifetimes are still seen as lifetimes of the body. But ultimately those ideas are like a justification for a mind that doesn’t have a clue of what’s going on. It would like to believe that that’s how the dilemma of conflict gets resolved; you simply die; the body dies, and then the conflict is resolved. But when you really follow that line of thinking, if it was something that had a resonance and a truth to it, then why live in this world? Why continue on, why not put the body to death as soon as possible, if heaven waits with the death of the body? It’s kind of a circular reasoning that if you really start to look at it, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s just an attempt to explain things. Just as mythologies throughout the ages in all cultures have attempted to explain the world and make some meaning out of the world.

We have myths of gods and goddesses of Greek mythology and we have myths of multiple gods in Hinduism and even in the Bible, the Adam and Eve story, is an attempt to explain what happened. That Eve took a bite out of an apple of the tree of good and evil and Adam and Eve were supposedly thrown out of the garden for disobeying God and that was described as the fall of man and so on and so forth. And all of these myths and systems have been attempts to explain and give some meaning to this world. The metaphysics we’re talking about is looking into the mind and looking at the beliefs that made up the illusion of the world, without trying to find a source or a meaning in the world. Scientists looking with their electronic, super, long range, long distance telescopes, for evidence of the Big Bang are still, from the scientific mythology so to speak, looking out in the world for the beginning. And there is no beginning.

Participant: It’s still a looking to the unexplainable in order to explain it.

Speaker: Yes and obviously there’s a belief in the reality of it. That’s why there is a search for or an attempt to explain it. It appears to be real. The world appears to be real because the five senses witness to the reality of it to a mind that wishes it to be real, that wishes it to have a reality and a life of its own.

Participant: So the fear we heard expressed recently through a friend that thought, perhaps his body would be dying soon, before he had the chance to really follow this path of ACIM out and awaken. It just doesn’t hold any water in this context because the awakening has no relationship to the life or death of the body as it’s defined.

Speaker: At some level, even at an unconscious level, that’s where fear comes in because there is a belief in the body. And then, believing that the body is “me” or is where “I” am abiding or in some way associated with “Who I am”, then death of the body which seems to be an ending or a termination, is a very fearful idea, because it seems to be a termination of “me”.

There are also the more sophisticated metaphysical systems that believe there’s something that survives the death of the body, for instance a soul that goes on. When you really start to look at those ideas very closely, it still comes back to the question what is the source of this thing that dies. And why does one part stay and another part split off and go on to something else. There’s a sense of splitting, a sense of duality. Even a deeper reincarnation perspective isn’t metaphysically correct; it can be a stepping stone to think that everyone continues to go through “lifetimes” or opportunities to learn lessons, and that in the end everyone returns to the source. That can be a very comforting kind of thought, but the deeper one goes one sees the falsity even of that. These lifetimes do have a lot of aggravation and suffering and turmoil in them. And the question would then come up; what kind of God holds out the prize at the end of this long journey of perhaps many lifetimes? Kind of holding out the prize or the carrot at the end and say “You’ve got to go through this pain and suffering before you can come and reach me” and saying, “You’ve got to go through a lot of painful learning before you wake up”. This still connects God with the perceptual world. You still have a God who in some way is connected to this world and is in some way connected to the pain and suffering. If He even, in a sense, knows about it, (the perceptual world) and is deciding to stay aloof or stay apart until this and that happens, we get back to this idea of an all powerful, all knowing, all loving God, who is not tinkering and tampering with the suffering of his children.

Participant: Not very loving then.

Speaker: Yes, the all loving, kind of goes out.

Participant: Or if he’s all loving but doesn’t have power to do that and it’s out of His control.

Speaker: Yes. Omnipotence kind of disappears as an attribute at that point. So with the Course we have a metaphor of the Holy Spirit who sees the illusions in the mind but knows they are not real. But the Holy Spirit is simply metaphorically God’s representative or the remembrance of God. That God knows not form and in that sense God knows not about suffering. God knows what He Created and only what He Created and that is Spirit; Love.

As a closing of our discussion of death, we will read a couple of sentences from page 67 in the Manual for Teachers that are really helpful. We’ll start with the second to last paragraph: "And the last to be overcome will be death."“ Of course! Without the idea of death there is no world. All dreams will end with this one. This is salvations final goal; the end of all illusions” (M-27.6). And from the bottom of the last paragraph: “And what is the end of death? Nothing but this; the realization that the Son of God is guiltless now and forever. Nothing but this. But do not let yourself forget it is not less than this” (M-27.7).

Participant: Then we’re back to the resurrection, which is the next topic in the Teachers manual. Let’s start by addressing the resurrection of Jesus, which is what usually comes to mind when speaking of resurrection.

Speaker: Ok, as we began our discussion with death saying that the common usage of the word death involved death of the body, the resurrection of Jesus, or the resurrection of Lazarus, another famous one where it’s still talking about, in a sense, a body coming back to life, and we’ve just gone through that the body doesn’t have birth, isn’t born, doesn’t die, doesn’t get sick, doesn’t get well. Appearances to the contrary. To the mind that believes in this, these things all seem possible and that they do happen. They seem more than just a screen when believing in the appearances. But with the resurrection of Jesus, this once again was a tremendous teaching example, that taken in the context of his life, his teachings like; “On the third day I will build the temple again; it will be torn down and built up again” and just telling his apostles and some of his followers exactly what would happen and then going through crucifixion, being defenseless, completely demonstrating everything that he taught in his life.

Participant: So Jesus really had no belief in death of the body.

Speaker: Yes, He knew that he was Spirit. He was at the mind level and he knew he was Spirit and that death of the body was literally nothing; that it was completely insignificant. And basically our story of crucifixion and resurrection is a great teaching example of the insignificance of the body and the power of the mind, in a sense, a mind that’s well aligned with the Father; knows Life and is the Manifestation of Life.

Participant: And really the power of that example that Jesus left through his bodily death and resurrection has the power it does, because he did not have any belief in death of the body.

Speaker: Yes, it was just a demonstration to the world. And obviously the world and the deceived mind believe very strongly in the world as being life. Birth is described as the regeneration of life and it’s not seen as just a projection. There is no life in the world or of the world; it’s only the mind which is choosing with the Holy Spirit, or the mind that’s lined up with the Right Mind that experiences Life.

So what we can do is we can shift it back to the mind level again as we did with the idea of death. The first paragraph on page 68 in the Manual for Teachers on the topic, “What is the Resurrection” goes as follows: “Very simply, the resurrection is the overcoming or surmounting of death. It is a reawakening or a rebirth; a change of mind about the meaning of the world. It is the acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the world’s purpose; the acceptance of the atonement for oneself. It is the end of dreams of misery, and the glad awareness of the Holy Spirit’s final dream. It is the recognition of the gifts of God. It is the dream in which the body functions perfectly, having no function except communication. It is the lesson in which learning ends, for it is consummated and surpassed with this. It is the invitation to God to take His final step”.

And probably most importantly: “It is the relinquishment of all other purposes, all other interests, all other wishes and all other concerns. It is the single desire of the Son for the Father” (M-28.1). The reason I say most importantly is that this is the giving up of the belief in the world; the beliefs; the purposes, all the goals and aims that the mind attempts to pursue here that literally keep Life blocked from awareness in the mind. So they go hand in hand. You can’t simultaneously fulfill your One Function here and have other functions. Those other functions must be laid aside to take up or to live out your One Function as an expression of God. So, we bring it back to changing the mind about the meaning of the world. To the ego, the world was made as an attack on God and it uses the screen, the world it sees, to keep the mind distracted from looking at these beliefs in the mind.

Continue to Part 21

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