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How are Healing and Atonement Related?

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: We’ve been talking about Atonement or the miracle and just seeing that the mind is completely causative; that there’s absolutely, positively nothing in time, matter, or space that’s causative at all. And out of everything that seems to come out of the mouth; that you’re just watching for content. I was just noticing when you were talking about the dog, the idea that if I lock the dog up she’ll feel deprived and then when I let her out she’ll be even more excited. Cause; the dog’s body being put behind there, effect; open the gate... You know, just about anything you can think of is so based on causation in the world.
So, to accept the Atonement and just hold to the fact that my mind is causative and there is absolutely nothing on the screen in the entire cosmos that has any kind of causation whatsoever— that’s healing. And that’s what this lesson is about; How are healing and Atonement related? “Healing and Atonement are not related; they are identical. There is no order of difficulty in miracles because there are no degrees of Atonement. It is the one complete concept possible in this world because it is the source of a wholly unified perception. Partial Atonement is a meaningless idea, just as special areas of hell in Heaven are inconceivable. Accept Atonement and you are healed. Atonement is the Word of God. Accept his Word and what remains to make sickness possible? Accept his Word and every miracle has been accomplished. To forgive is to heal. The teacher of God has taken accepting the Atonement for himself as his only function. Where is there then he cannot heal? What miracle can be withheld from him?”
The next one, here we go into self concept or transfer of training. What will I hold back from the Atonement?
“The progress of the teacher of God may be slow or rapid depending on whether he recognizes the Atonement’s inclusiveness or for a time excludes some problem areas from it. In some cases there is a sudden and complete awareness of the perfect applicability of the lesson of the Atonement to all situations but this is comparatively rare. The teacher of God may have accepted the function God has given him long before he has learned all that his acceptance holds out to him.”

Friend: If I knew what I had in store for me…

David: [laughing] Mother Theresa said something like, If I had known what was coming at the time when I was young, I would never have stepped into this. She was being slightly facetious.
“It is only the end that is certain. Anywhere along the way the necessary realization of inclusiveness may reach him. If the way seems long, let him be content. He has decided on the direction he wants to take. What more was asked of him? In having done what was required would God withhold the rest?”
I think of that, “If the way seems long let him be content.” It’s like, there’s the ladder. You can get a sense of how quickly you want to climb. You can’t really go to the next rung until you really get a good push off from the rung before. And it’s really the desire and the willingness is the only thing that determines whether it’s going to be a long ladder or…

Friend: But that feels reassuring to me. It’s like be content where you are. Don’t worry about if it seems like it’s taking long.
David: Don’t get into judging based on increments in the world, or comparisons.

Friend: Just be content and stay on the path.

David: “That forgiveness is healing needs to be understood if the teacher of God is to make progress.” Forgiveness being the reversal of the thoughts in the mind, all the backwards ones having been turned around. “The idea that a body can be sick is the central concept in the ego’s thought system.” That’s like the underlying assumption. I mean even when things are brought up, you know even when we saw the toe or the flu or the, whatever, the underlying assumption in the presenting problem is that okay I obviously have a sick body. “I feel it” or “I had experienced it” or “I have been through this.” And the idea that a body can be sick is the central concept in the ego’s thought system. As we’ll see as we go in this paragraph it’s very important for the ego to hold onto the idea that a body can be sick. That’s one of it’s strongest witnesses to the separation; that’s one of the aces in the hole.

Friend: It’s like our friend was describing, she was in so much pain she finally said, “Well I give in!” Or you get to a point where you just say Oh forget it. It’s like you try to keep your mind on the truth but after awhile you say Ah, I can’t do it. I can’t stop thinking about my toe or my flu or…

Friend: And the more you think of it the more power you give it.

David: Like focusing on pain. “This thought gives the body autonomy, separates it from the mind, and keeps the idea of attack inviolate.”

Friend: Like the body has power over my mind to keep me distracted from the truth.

David: And underneath it is I can’t change my mind. I mean that’s what I hear when people say...

Friend: “I’m in pain.”

David: Yeah, and I tried. I asked the Holy Spirit to see things differently. I want to not be in pain. I can’t do it. It’s got power over me. You know there’s something… it’s frustrating, it’s a feeling of helplessness of this and that. The mind has chosen it and then forgotten exactly what it chose in order that it seems that the body has power. And when we get into this deeper you see, it’s the whole thing of the mind wanting to hold onto the concept of itself as it perceives itself. It wants to hold on so dearly to the separation, to the small self. It’s so invested in holding onto that, it’s so terrified of letting that go and just going into that light that it seems like sickness is great, it’s a great device, it serves value. It clearly provides a witness.

Friend: It gets your attention.

David: Yeah, it draws my attention off my mind again back out there onto the body and the screen.

Friend: Instead of watching what you are thinking now, all you think about is, My toe hurts, or my elbow!

David: And then the next thought of course, when you get into the metaphysics more, is like our friend’s “I want to understand this thing I made myself sick.” Then the mind has taken responsibility for the attack thoughts and for what it perceives as sickness. So that’s where the guilt is coming in. The guilt is coming in from lining up with the wrong mind, from raising body thoughts to the level of mind. In other words, saying I am responsible for behavior, I am responsible for things that the body seems to do and has done and so on and so forth and if that’s true then sins are only in bodies but the mind has associated itself with the body and that’s where the guilt comes in.

Friend: What is the rest of that quote? Bringing body thoughts to the level of mind? Is that in level confusion?

David: Yes, it’s about level confusion. And really body thoughts are of the ego and not of the right mind. But saying that body thoughts are causative is really what to raise body thoughts to the level of mind means. It is simply to say that the body or something in matter is causative or creative. And you can see that’s where the level confusion occurs; the belief that bodies actually act. It seems in this world as if there are autonomous persons that act autonomously. It seems like, in the deceived state, like we each have different minds; one can decide to come or to stay, each of us can decide to do this or do that. It really seems that way. I mean it’s pretty accepted that we’re all persons. And part of being a person is to have a mind of your own. It’s still at the metaphor level because the deceived mind has assigned to the mind the properties of the body. The properties of the body are that we have four separate bodies sitting on the couch and that each of these minds is also separate. But really there’s just one mind and all the characters on the screen, all of them, are part of the playing out of a script that’s already been played out... it’s all been played out. So in other words when I say that the mind wrote the script: it hired the characters, it gave out the parts, and everything that’s said is its own invention. This one sleeping mind has invented and projected out all these other bodies and all these other minds and has given out all these parts and it’s done the whole thing. There is absolutely nothing to be upset about when somebody says or does something. When the dog, another dream figure, seems to do something and you feel upset; that’s part of the script. It’s apart from my mind though. If I’m a person and that’s a dog, it’s not a child, but just a dog, and I’m upset at the dog’s behavior or whatever, I’ve simply denied that that’s just a thought or an image in my own mind. I mean if it’s just another image what’s the big deal? You see when the meaning gets written I’m a person, this is my house, we have guests coming over, this is just a dog, the dog should not inhibit our social life, the dog should not be craving. You can see where all this stuff gets read on as meaning and then, by golly, before you know it you are upset at something that the dog has done. So you can see it from the perspective that bodies are not autonomous, they don’t act apart from your mind; they are thoughts in a concretized form acting out.

Friend: So I’m not responsible for the roles that I assign in a sense that I’m not responsible for what is said or what is done by the characters but I’m responsible for how I perceive that.

David: Yes.

Friend: ….for my reaction to it. That’s all it is really. Everything is how you feel; everything. It’s like when I walk along I kind of think well, I’ll see somebody to talk to and I know there will be somebody there and sure enough there she was and she shouted “Hello! Good morning! Where do you live?”

David: The only thing you want to do is always keep it in past tense because the miracle sees it as already happened. I put someone there to talk to and even I will put kind of has, in a sense, a linear kind of a sense or this or that.

Friend: That you started out on the walk and you think about putting somebody..?

David: Yes, literally, see we are getting back to this causation kind of a thing… for example, it really seems that at times where I think I’d like water and then pools show up. In Unity they talk about concepts like abundance, using your mind to attract things to you. But, the script is written. The only thing we really have a choice on is seeing it through the miracle, or being above the battlefield. Seeing that none of those images are true and none of it’s me. That’s where the peace comes from. It seems as if symbols are being brought forth. Like people use their minds to get cars and things and stuff and then they make an association: if my mind is powerful and creative… But you see it’s linked in with the form again. They don’t have that clarity that the Course is bringing of the levels. The right mind sees it all as false. The right mind is not full of images; it is above the images to look on all of them as equally false. It’s just really clear on causation and that all of these are unreal effects. And also if they’re unreal effects then their cause is unreal. I mean the Holy Spirit looks to the cause and knows that the cause of these effects is unreal. He has judged their cause and overlooked it. He does not look to the projections on the screen. He’s judged their cause and knows that it’s unreal and therefore knows that everything in the wrong mind is seen as false. So in that sense then defenselessness makes perfect sense. There would never be a reason to have any kind of care or worry or concern. “Can you imagine what it means to have no cares, no worries, no concerns but to be perfectly peaceful, happy, content all the time? Yet that is what time is for, to learn just that and nothing more.” That’s it, that’s the lesson. It doesn’t have to be striven for either.

Friend: Yes, that quote that I put up in my bathroom that really spoke to me where it says “You would not react at all to figures in a dream you knew that you were dreaming.” How could you react if you really knew that you were dreaming?

David: Yes.
“Awareness of dreaming is the real function of God’s teachers. They watch the dream figures come and go, shift and change, suffer and die, yet they are not deceived by what they see. They recognize that to behold a dream figure as sick and separate is no more real than to regard it as healthy and beautiful. Unity alone is not a thing of dreams and it is this God’s teachers acknowledge as behind the dream, beyond all seeming and yet surely theirs.”
I can hold onto that kind of a thought. So even though they seem to be sick and dying and everything, the mind sees it as impossible. It’s impossible for the body to be sick, it’s impossible to... really die. Death gets redefined psychologically as being whenever you’re upset in any way. That’s death and that’s a more helpful thing because that brings it back into the psychological or the mind realm and gets it away from the physical realm as if something happens when a body quits breathing. Transition? Transition into what? You have heard the expression they made their transition or passed on.
Friend: Yesterday my son came in wailing, not just crying. It was a great opportunity for me not to get tied into it, get stuck in it. What I noticed was that I just wanted to be loving but I didn’t know how to communicate without getting caught up in it. So I don’t know. I just held the intention of being loving and not getting caught up in it. But I felt like that wasn’t communicated. I didn’t know how to express being loving or comforting or whatever.

Friend: Yes, I know what you mean. Does it mean holding him and hugging him? He came to the door when I came home too and was on the verge of tears. He told me this had happened and the log had fallen on his hand.

David: Yes, I sat down with him, and he wanted to show me and I remember just holding my intention and in a matter of a few seconds, he quit talking about the hand and started talking about other things. When you don’t share it in mind then the attention shifted from the hand to just sitting there. There we were on the bed just talking for about 5 or 10 minutes, about other things. One of them was, “When will my mom be home?” and I said, “Oh she’s running some errands.” That’s part of the conditioning too of wanting to even look for someone that’s familiar and sympathetic or whatever, but once again, when it’s not shared… Like the example you always shared about going to the Christian Science when he had that scab I guess from falling down on his face…

David: Like the elephant man… except this was at Christian Science, the kids nor the teacher made a big deal about the scab. Nobody mentioned it even.

Friend: And it healed very quickly then, but for about a week everywhere we went people just, “Oh my gosh, what happened to you! Are you okay!?” People really made a big, big thing about it. So for me it was the contrast of going where it was never mentioned. So it was like, wow what a difference that makes.

David: Really put it into practice.

Friend: And my son didn’t feel the need to go in and say “Oh, by the way this isn’t how I usually look.” He didn’t explain it to anybody.

David: There was another woman in Christian Science, an elderly woman, who had all kinds of experiences like that in her whole life, like going to pick up her granddaughter at school and after she was being sent home by the school nurse and her daughter was just going on and on in a panic about “The nurse said this and it could be this and it could be that...” Just not giving attention to it at all, not lending her mind to share that perception. Just letting it diffuse automatically because the mind is literally calling out Teach me that this isn’t so.

Friend: One area that I feel I’m at a loss for is when the kids have felt sick and wanted to stay home and I’ve said, “Okay so stay home.” Then the school requires that you write a note and explain why they stayed home. It’s like I can’t write they were sick; it’s like I think well what do I say?

Friend: They needed to stay home today! [laughs]

David: Sickness, is in a sense the mind calling for help… it is a mind calling for help.

Friend: So, my daughter had a sick mind calling for help today. [group laughter]

David: In your mind you know it. The words can say one thing but you have to know the meaning. Jesus was so clever about saying the words and you can see his meaning from his perspective but someone could read an entirely different meaning into it.

Friend: So have you felt what I described of not knowing how to communicate it?

Friend: Yes, one day I went to wake my daughter up in the morning and she said, “Oh I have a stomachache, I don’t want to go to school.” What I usually do in that situation is say, “Get dressed and we’ll see how it goes.” I give her just one thing to do and don’t give it attention. But there are times when I’ll think if this is a call for love what is the most loving thing to do? Do I lay down in bed with her and hold her for a while? Is it that that she needs or wants? I try to just let it happen. I try to step back as much as I am able at the time and just let it happen. And sometimes I do feel like they need that being embraced and being safe or feeling… that does come at times I think in a physical way.

David: It’s like the behavioral component of the miracle but we’re back to what we were discussing last night that the important thing is I have to be in my right mind. Thus the behavior will feel automatic to whatever, it will be hugging and holding through me not by me.

Friend: A time probably that I felt that more was the other day when our friend walked in limping. It was real clear that she wasn’t walking like she usually does and I just said “Hi!” and didn’t saying anything about it. And then there was this feeling that I noticed thoughts coming in of Oh I hope she doesn’t think I don’t care about her, that she doesn’t misinterpret this, that I’m callous or something. That was something too when I was at Christian Science I just realized at that point, to even say to somebody, to acknowledge it in any way, to say Oh… even if I don’t mention Oh, what’s wrong with your foot? but just say Are you okay? But then there are times when that is most helpful. Like when you see somebody feeling real sad maybe in a group and standing off from the group or something and you feel drawn to go over and see if there’s something you can…

David: You have to be anchored at the point where you know everything’s okay. And then whatever the words, I mean the words may almost be like an ice breaker or a lead in to something. But the whole point of being anchored is that it’s just impossible to perceive sickness, it’s impossible that the Son of God would be sick. As you see your brother you see yourself. If your brother is a sick body then you can’t avoid seeing yourself in the same way; as a body. If you see your brother as a body; you see yourself as a body. If you think of your brother as a body; you think of yourself as a body. There’s no way you can un-mind, un-spirit your body. As you see him you will see yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this. For in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.

Friend: Even seeing our friend limping, I still see that, you know, I’m still just saying well I’m not going to talk about it. I see it but I’m not going to talk about it and that fixes it… and I see that that’s not the point either.

David: It’s an interpretation. Like with Bill Thetford; he was a psychologist and one time Jesus wanted him to go to a rehab conference and part of Bill Thetford’s resistance was he just could not stand to see broken bodies because it reminded him of what he thought was his own frailty. And literally that’s the thing when we start interpreting behaviors whether they’re limps or coughs or speckles in some of the aids patients that you saw. Whenever we start to make any interpretations then we’ve made the error real and then you ask what do I do now? And how do I put the pieces together? It’s a perceptual problem. The more you really get anchored into this thought system the unreality of sickness has to dawn on the mind. Or as I like to say, it’s absolutely arrogant. So in your mind really what you’re doing when you come to a brother is you’re constantly reminding them of their wholeness. The mind of the healer petitions the mind of the patient, so to speak. He says in here, there’s another way, God’s Son is whole and complete, and that’s at a mind level. Now that’s being anchored in seeing as whole and then whatever is most helpful at a behavioral level... Jesus is literally doing the miracle using the body. We can’t literally decide I should have done this, that’s where the doubt thoughts come in, should I have done this, should I have done that? Oh, you still think you can do directly! You don’t realize that it’s just a matter of aligning with the right mind or the wrong mind and the behavior automatically follows. You still think you could have done this, I could have done this; I should do this! Then you’re still playing God, you’re still trying to run the miracle yourself. And that means that you still believe what we’ve just read; that the body is autonomous; that you can control your behavior. There is a separate, individual person, the I, and I can….

Friend: In the example that you used with her son, is it like saying, instead of looking back and saying was I helpful to him or did I convey love to him, it’s just to look at how you felt and whether you were in your right mind?

David: Right, what was I thinking, mind wise?

Friend: And if there’s doubt then I guess you weren’t. I mean if there’s any doubt about doing it right or if I should have done more, then I guess it can’t be the right mind. So that’s all there is to know.

David: In this moment, you see we bring it back to this moment, that’s where that intention, that passion to get clear comes to. The only way that we will be free of doubt forever is to be absolutely clear of cause and effect, absolutely clear of those thoughts, having watched our minds so closely, I’ll let that one go, I’ll let that one go, to have really done that so consistently that our minds become anchored and certain that really love is all there is. At that point the stepping stone is you see everything is love or a call for love, but you realize that that has to fall away too.

Friend: So then, her son coming in and thinking that the log falling onto his hand caused it to get cut and to hurt him and to make him cry and if I see that it had nothing to do with the log, that wasn’t the cause of his upset. That it was something in his mind or something in my mind. Can you explain this?

David: Well, still in the analogy of his mind and my mind means that the mind believes that it’s guilty. My mind as a teacher of God is to be positive, absolutely certain that the mind is guiltless.

Friend: So he was calling forth the witness that he was guilty. And if I reinforce that then I’m reinforcing that he is in fact guilty.

David: In your own mind; if you go to that level of the metaphor.

Friend: So if I see him in pain then that’s the witness to my mind that pain is possible and real.

David: Yes. You’ve got to believe in pain before you can see it. Pain being a concept; you can’t see it in the world unless you believe it.

Friend: So there’s a way to have this scenario going on with the wailing and the cut in the skin without perceiving any pain?

Friend: Because if you dreamed that happened would there be anything to be upset about? Could your son be hurt?

David: That’s where the Oh comes in. Like Oh, I feel sorry or pity, I’ve been through that too. What I? Has Christ been through that? Has Christ been through pain, and can Christ identify with pain? No. It’s still the belief, I know that that really happens and I feel real bad that you’re going through it. It’s giving it a reality. It’s saying you know it’s real. Now I happen to not be experiencing it right now but you are and I feel for you. That thinking has to be given up. That’s not healing.

Friend: That’s the unhealed healer.

David: That’s definitely the unhealed healer. You can be light. Not in a sense of cracking jokes or making fun or this or that, but it should be a sense of lightness and joy, which the whole day should be; a sense of lightness and joy. Regardless of whether the sun’s shining and people are coming over saying Thank you for this and I’m so grateful for this and that or whether there seems to be wailing children or floods or…

Friend: …an annoying dog or…

David: …or hurricanes, or your house burning down. That was a good example of just watching this big mansion burn down in a real detached way and knowing it was purposeful—seeing there was a purpose there. For many that was an extreme example. Like, oh my gosh the ego says if that were my house… But when you’re the dreamer of the dream where’s the loss involved? Where is the hurt involved? And it’s not even a matter about going back and thinking well I blew it with my son. That’s the past too, it’s just a perception that you’re thinking, even to conjure up those thoughts. Well, what’s my purpose right now? It keeps coming back to what is my intent right now.

Friend: So then how do you use a situation like that?

David: Well, it’s being used. Talking about it the way it’s being talked about as symbols, being talked about and given a new purpose. The whole purpose is to give it a new purpose and when can that purpose be given? Right now is the only time it can ever be given. So words are just symbols.

Friend: I do find it helpful to use an example like that and run it through.

David: Yes, and you can see that you’re absolved now. That is what you finally come down to. Now is the only time you could be absolved or feel guilt. It is present moment decision. It takes away from this linear sense of Well…

Friend: … I could’ve done it better.

David: It’s that linear person too. Whenever you go back and feel personally responsible for what you did or what you failed to do, you’re still raising body thoughts up to the level of mind. Seeing yourself as a linear person, a linear person in time is guilt inducing. That is denying your capital Self. That is denying your spiritual Self. Even something like that, regardless of what was said or done, the miracle literally lifts the mind. The mind is watching the dream and that includes all perceptions of everything that the body ever seems to do or say or think. Even thinking of yourself as having judgment thoughts; I haven’t got it yet, I’ll never get this. Once you’re above it it’s like Ahhh, instant release. And if we go on here we’ll see that that’s the whole point. “The idea that a body can be sick is the central concept in the ego’s thought system. This thought gives the body autonomy,” There’s personhood. “…separates it from the mind and keeps the idea of attack inviolate. If the body could be sick Atonement would be impossible. A body that can order a mind to do as it sees fit would merely take the place of God and prove salvation is impossible. Because there’s the reversal of cause and effect, because if it would actually be possible for a body to order a mind to do anything then God is dead, as Nietzsche said, “God is dead,” God’s out of the picture. There is no God it says, and I’m helpless, I’m the victim of this dream now. It tells me what to do. I have to follow its laws and I’m a little dream figure that’s stuck and helpless. I can only do certain things to hold off the inevitable. When this world closes in on me and the breath goes out of the body…

Friend: What’s going to happen to me then? Am I going to hell or am I going to Heaven? How fearful.

Friend: Still, you can either be in your right mind or your wrong mind. [group laughter]

David: I think our friend being facetious that’s how the ego looks at it. That scariness is the ego. You have every right to be fearful; the way you perceive yourself.

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