A Course in Miracles/Text/Chapter 8

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A Course in Miracles: Text by Helen Schucman
The Journey Back


I. The Direction of the Curriculum[edit]

Knowledge is not the motivation for learning this course. Peace is. This is the prerequisite for knowledge only because those who are in conflict are not peaceful, and peace is the condition of knowledge because it is the condition of the Kingdom. Knowledge can be restored only when you meet its conditions. This is not a bargain made by God, Who makes no bargains. It is merely the result of your misuse of His laws on behalf of an imaginary will that is not His. Knowledge is His Will. If you are opposing His Will, how can you have knowledge? I have told you what knowledge offers you, but perhaps you do not yet regard this as wholly desirable. If you did you would not be so ready to throw it away when the ego asks for your allegiance.

The distractions of the ego may seem to interfere with your learning, but the ego has no power to distract you unless you give it the power to do so. The ego's voice is an hallucination. You cannot expect it to say "I am not real." Yet you are not asked to dispel your hallucinations alone. You are merely asked to evaluate them in terms of their results to you. If you do not want them on the basis of loss of peace, they will be removed from your mind for you.

Every response to the ego is a call to war, and war does deprive you of peace. Yet in this war there is no opponent. This is the reinterpretation of reality that you must make to secure peace, and the only one you need ever make. Those whom you perceive as opponents are part of your peace, which you are giving up by attacking them. How can you have what you give up? You share to have, but you do not give it up yourself. When you give up peace, you are excluding yourself from it. This is a condition so alien to the Kingdom that you cannot understand the state that prevails within it.

Your past learning must have taught you the wrong things, simply because it has not made you happy. On this basis alone its value should be questioned. If learning aims at change, and that is always its purpose, are you satisfied with the changes your learning has brought you? Dissatisfaction with learning outcomes is a sign of learning failure, since it means that you did not get what you wanted.

The curriculum of the Atonement is the opposite of the curriculum you have established for yourself, but so is its outcome. If the outcome of yours has made you unhappy, and if you want a different one, a change in the curriculum is obviously necessary. The first change to be introduced is a change in direction. A meaningful curriculum cannot be inconsistent. If it is planned by two teachers, each believing in diametrically opposed ideas, it cannot be integrated. If it is carried out by these two teachers simultaneously, each one merely interferes with the other. This leads to fluctuation, but not to change. The volatile have no direction. They cannot choose one because they cannot relinquish the other, even if it does not exist. Their conflicted curriculum teaches them that all directions exist, and gives them no rationale for choice.

The total senselessness of such a curriculum must be fully recognized before a real change in direction becomes possible. You cannot learn simultaneously from two teachers who are in total disagreement about everything. Their joint curriculum presents an impossible learning task. They are teaching you entirely different things in entirely different ways, which might be possible except that both are teaching you about yourself. Your reality is unaffected by both, but if you listen to both, your mind will be split about what your reality is.

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II. The Difference between Imprisonment and Freedom[edit]

There is a rationale for choice. Only one Teacher knows what your reality is. If learning to remove the obstacles to that knowledge is the purpose of the curriculum, you must learn it of Him. The ego does not know what it is trying to teach. It is trying to teach you what you are without knowing what you are. It is expert only in confusion. It does not understand anything else. As a teacher, then, the ego is totally confused and totally confusing. Even if you could disregard the Holy Spirit entirely, which is impossible, you could still learn nothing from the ego, because the ego knows nothing.

Is there any possible reason for choosing a teacher such as this? Does the total disregard of anything it teaches make anything but sense? Is this the teacher to whom a Son of God should turn to find himself? The ego has never given you a sensible answer to anything. Simply on the grounds of your own experience with its teaching, should not this alone disqualify it as your future teacher? Yet the ego has done more harm to your learning than this alone. Learning is joyful if it leads you along your natural path, and facilitates the development of what you have. When you are taught against your nature, however, you will lose by your learning because your learning will imprison you. Your will is in your nature, and therefore cannot go against it.

The ego cannot teach you anything as long as your will is free, because you will not listen to it. It is not your will to be imprisoned because your will is free. That is why the ego is the denial of free will. It is never God Who coerces you, because He shares His Will with you. His Voice teaches only in accordance with His Will, but that is not the Holy Spirit's lesson because that is what you are. The lesson is that your will and God's cannot be out of accord because they are one. This is the undoing of everything the ego tries to teach. It is not, then, only the direction of the curriculum that must be unconflicted, but also the content.

The ego tries to teach that you want to oppose God's Will. This unnatural lesson cannot be learned, and the attempt to learn it is a violation of your own freedom, making you afraid of your will because it is free. The Holy Spirit opposes any imprisoning of the will of a Son of God, knowing that the will of the Son is the Father's. The Holy Spirit leads you steadily along the path of freedom, teaching you how to disregard or look beyond everything that would hold you back.

We have said that the Holy Spirit teaches you the difference between pain and joy. That is the same as saying He teaches you the difference between imprisonment and freedom. You cannot make this distinction without Him because you have taught yourself that imprisonment is freedom. Believing them to be the same, how can you tell them apart? Can you ask the part of your mind that taught you to believe they are the same, to teach you how they are different?

The Holy Spirit's teaching takes only one direction and has only one goal. His direction is freedom and His goal is God. Yet He cannot conceive of God without you, because it is not God's Will to be without you. When you have learned that your will is God's, you could no more will to be without Him than He could will to be without you. This is freedom and this is joy. Deny yourself this and you are denying God His Kingdom, because He created you for this.

When I said, "All power and glory are yours because the Kingdom is His," this is what I meant: The Will of God is without limit, and all power and glory lie within it. It is boundless in strength and in love and in peace. It has no boundaries because it created all things. By creating all things, it made them part of itself. You are the Will of God because that is how you were created. Because your Creator creates only like Himself, you are like Him. You are part of Him Who is all power and glory, and are therefore as unlimited as He is.

To what else except all power and glory can the Holy Spirit appeal to restore God's Kingdom? His appeal, then, is merely to what the Kingdom is, and for its own acknowledgment of what it is. When you acknowledge this you bring the acknowledgment automatically to everyone, because you have acknowledged everyone. By your recognition you awaken theirs, and through theirs yours is extended. Awakening runs easily and gladly through the Kingdom, in answer to the Call for God. This is the natural response of every Son of God to the Voice for his Creator, because It is the Voice for his creations and for his own extension.

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III. The Holy Encounter[edit]

Glory to God in the highest, and to you because He has so willed it. Ask and it shall be given you, because it has already been given. Ask for light and learn that you are light. If you want understanding and enlightenment you will learn it, because your decision to learn it is the decision to listen to the Teacher Who knows of light, and can therefore teach it to you. There is no limit on your learning because there is no limit on your mind. There is no limit on his teaching because He was created to teach. Understanding His function perfectly He fulfills it perfectly, because that is His joy and yours.

To fulfill the Will of God perfectly is the only joy and peace that can be fully known, because it is the only function that can be fully experienced. When this is accomplished, then, there is no other experience. Yet the wish for other experience will block its accomplishment, because God's Will cannot be forced upon you, being an experience of total willingness. The Holy Spirit understands how to teach this, but you do not. That is why you need Him, and why God gave Him to you. Only His teaching will release your will to God's, uniting it with His power and glory and establishing them as yours. You share them as God shares them, because this is the natural outcome of their being.

The Will of the Father and of the Son are one, by their extension. Their extension is the result of Their Oneness, holding Their unity together by extending Their joint Will. This is perfect creation by the perfectly created, in union with the Perfect Creator. The Father must give fatherhood to His Son, because His Own Fatherhood must be extended outward. You who belong in God have the holy function of extending His Fatherhood by placing no limits upon it. Let the Holy Spirit teach you how to do this, for you can know what it means only of God Himself.

When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself. Whenever two Sons of God meet, they are given another chance at salvation. Do not leave anyone without giving salvation to him and receiving it yourself. For I am always there with you, in remembrance of you.

The goal of the curriculum, regardless of the teacher you choose, is "Know thyself." There is nothing else to seek. Everyone is looking for himself and for the power and glory he thinks he has lost. Whenever you are with anyone, you have another opportunity to find them. Your power and glory are in him because they are yours. The ego tries to find them in yourself alone, because it does not know where to look. The Holy Spirit teaches you that if you look only at yourself you cannot find yourself, because that is not what you are. Whenever you are with a brother, you are learning what you are because you are teaching what you are. He will respond either with pain or with joy, depending on which teacher you are following. He will be imprisoned or released according to your decision, and so will you. Never forget your responsibility to him, because it is your responsibility to yourself. Give him his place in the Kingdom and you will have yours.

The Kingdom cannot be found alone, and you who are the Kingdom cannot find yourself alone. To achieve the goal of the curriculum, then, you cannot listen to the ego, whose purpose is to defeat its own goal. The ego does not know this, because it does not know anything. But you can know it, and you will know it if you are willing to look at what the ego would make of you. This is your responsibility, because once you have really looked at it you will accept the Atonement for yourself. What other choice could you make? Having made this choice you will understand why you once believed that, when you met someone else, you thought he was someone else. And every holy encounter in which you enter fully will teach you this is not so.

You can encounter only part of yourself because you are part of God, Who is everything. His power and glory are everywhere, and you cannot be excluded from them. The ego teaches that your strength is in you alone. The Holy Spirit teaches that all strength is in God and therefore in you. God wills no one suffer. He does not will anyone to suffer for a wrong decision, including you. That is why He has given you the means for undoing it. Through His power and glory all your wrong decisions are undone completely, releasing you and your brother from every imprisoning thought any part of the Sonship holds. Wrong decisions have no power, because they are not true. The imprisonment they seem to produce is no more true than they are.

Power and glory belong to God alone. So do you. God gives whatever belongs to Him because He gives of Himself, and everything belongs to Him. Giving of yourself is the function He gave you. Fulfilling it perfectly will let you remember what you have of Him, and by this you will remember also what you are in Him. You cannot be powerless to do this, because this is your power. Glory is God's gift to you, because that is what He is. See this glory everywhere to remember what you are.

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IV. The Gift of Freedom[edit]

If God's Will for you is complete peace and joy, unless you experience only this you must be refusing to acknowledge His Will. His Will does not vacillate, being changeless forever. When you are not at peace it can only be because you do not believe you are in Him. Yet He is All in all. His peace is complete, and you must be included in it. His laws govern you because they govern everything. You cannot exempt yourself from His laws, although you can disobey them. Yet if you do, and only if you do, you will feel lonely and helpless, because you are denying yourself everything.

I am come as a light into a world that does deny itself everything. It does this simply by dissociating itself from everything. It is therefore an illusion of isolation, maintained by fear of the same loneliness that is its illusion. I said that I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. That is why I am the light of the world. If I am with you in the loneliness of the world, the loneliness is gone. You cannot maintain the illusion of loneliness if you are not alone. My purpose, then, is still to overcome the world. I do not attack it, but my light must dispel it because of what it is. Light does not attack darkness, but it does shine it away. If my light goes with you everywhere, you shine it away with me. The light becomes ours, and you cannot abide in darkness any more than darkness can abide wherever you go. The remembrance of me is the remembrance of yourself, and of Him Who sent me to you.

You were in darkness until God's Will was done completely by any part of the Sonship. When this was done, it was perfectly accomplished by all. How else could it be perfectly accomplished? My mission was simply to unite the will of the Sonship with the Will of the Father by being aware of the Father's Will myself. This is the awareness I came to give you, and your problem in accepting it is the problem of this world. The world must therefore despise and reject me, because the world is the belief that love is impossible. If you will accept the fact that I am with you, you are denying the world and accepting God. My will is His, and your decision to hear me is the decision to hear His Voice and abide in His Will. As God sent me to you so will I send you to others. And I will go to them with you, so we can teach them peace and union.

Do you not think the world needs peace as much as you do? Do you not want to give it to the world as much as you want to receive it? For unless you do, you will not receive it. If you want to have it of me, you must give it. Healing does not come from anyone else. You must accept guidance from within. The guidance must be what you want, or it will be meaningless to you. That is why healing is a collaborative venture. I can tell you what to do, but you must collaborate by believing that I know what you should do. Only then will your mind choose to follow me. Without this choice you could not be healed because you would have decided against healing, and this rejection of my decision for you makes healing impossible.

Healing reflects our joint will. This is obvious when you consider what healing is for. Healing is the way in which the separation is overcome. Separation is overcome by union. It cannot be overcome by separating. The decision to unite must be unequivocal, or the mind itself is divided and not whole. Your mind is the means by which you determine your own condition, because mind is the mechanism of decision. It is the power by which you separate or join, and experience pain or joy accordingly. My decision cannot overcome yours, because yours is as powerful as mine. If it were not so the Sons of God would be unequal. All things are possible through our joint decision, but mine alone cannot help you. Your will is as free as mine, and God Himself would not go against it. I cannot will what God does not will. I can offer my strength to make yours invincible, but I cannot oppose your decision without competing with it and thereby violating God's Will for you.

Nothing God created can oppose your decision, as nothing God created can oppose His Will. God gave your will its power, which I can only acknowledge in honor of His. If you want to be like me I will help you, knowing that we are alike. If you want to be different, I will wait until you change your mind. I can teach you, but only you can choose to listen to my teaching. How else can it be, if God's Kingdom is freedom? Freedom cannot be learned by tyranny of any kind, and the perfect equality of all God's Sons cannot be recognized through the dominion of one mind over another. God's Sons are equal in will, all being the Will of their Father. This is the only lesson I came to teach.

If your will were not mine it would not be our Father's. This would mean you have imprisoned yours, and have not let it be free. Of yourself you can do nothing, because of yourself you are nothing. I am nothing without the Father and you are nothing without me, because by denying the Father you deny yourself. I will always remember you, and in my remembrance of you lies your remembrance of yourself. In our remembrance of each other lies our remembrance of God. And in this remembrance lies your freedom because your freedom is in Him. Join, then, with me in praise of Him and you whom He created. This is our gift of gratitude to Him, which He will share with all His creations, to whom He gives equally whatever is acceptable to Him. Because it is acceptable to Him it is the gift of freedom, which is His Will for all His Sons. By offering freedom you will be free.

Freedom is the only gift you can offer to God's Sons, being an acknowledgment of what they are and what He is. Freedom is creation, because it is love. Whom you seek to imprison you do not love. Therefore, when you seek to imprison anyone, including yourself, you do not love him and you cannot identify with him. When you imprison yourself you are losing sight of your true identification with me and with the Father. Your identification is with the Father and with the Son. It cannot be with one and not the other. If you are part of one you must be part of the other, because they are one. The Holy Trinity is holy because It is One. If you exclude yourself from this union, you are perceiving the Holy Trinity as separated. You must be included in It, because It is everything. Unless you take your place in It and fulfill your function as part of It, the Holy Trinity is as bereft as you are. No part of It can be imprisoned if Its truth is to be known.

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V. The Undivided Will of the Sonship[edit]

Can you be separated from your identification and be at peace? Dissociation is not a solution; it is a delusion. The delusional believe that truth will assail them, and they do not recognize it because they prefer the delusion. Judging truth as something they do not want, they perceive their illusions which block knowledge. Help them by offering them your unified mind on their behalf, as I am offering you mine on behalf of yours. Alone we can do nothing, but together our minds fuse into something whose power is far beyond the power of its separate parts. By not being separate, the Mind of God is established in ours and as ours. This Mind is invincible because it is undivided.

The undivided will of the Sonship is the perfect creator, being wholly in the likeness of God, Whose Will it is. You cannot be exempt from it if you are to understand what it is and what you are. By the belief that your will is separate from mine, you are exempting yourself from the Will of God which is yourself. Yet to heal is still to make whole. Therefore, to heal is to unite with those who are like you, because perceiving this likeness is to recognize the Father. If your perfection is in Him and only in Him, how can you know it without recognizing Him? The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself. There is no separation of God and His creation. You will realize this when you understand that there is no separation between your will and mine. Let the Love of God shine upon you by your acceptance of me. My reality is yours and His. By joining your mind with mine you are signifying your awareness that the Will of God is one.

God's Oneness and ours are not separate, because His Oneness encompasses ours. To join with me is to restore His power to you because we are sharing it. I offer you only the recognition of His power in you, but in that lies all truth. As we unite, we unite with Him. Glory be to the union of God and His holy Sons! All glory lies in them because they are united. The miracles we do bear witness to the Will of the Father for His Son, and to our joy in uniting with His Will for us.

When you unite with me you are uniting without the ego, because I have renounced the ego in myself and therefore cannot unite with yours. Our union is therefore the way to renounce the ego in you. The truth in both of us is beyond the ego. Our success in transcending the ego is guaranteed by God, and I share this confidence for both of us and all of us. I bring God's peace back to all His children because I received it of Him for us all. Nothing can prevail against our united wills because nothing can prevail against God's.

Would you know the Will of God for you? Ask it of me who know it for you and you will find it. I will deny you nothing, as God denies me nothing. Ours is simply the journey back to God Who is our home. Whenever fear intrudes anywhere along the road to peace, it is because the ego has attempted to join the journey with us and cannot do so. Sensing defeat and angered by it, the ego regards itself as rejected and becomes retaliative. You are invulnerable to its retaliation because I am with you. On this journey you have chosen me as your companion instead of the ego. Do not attempt to hold on to both, or you will try to go in different directions and will lose the way.

The ego's way is not mine, but it is also not yours. The Holy Spirit has one direction for all minds, and the one He taught me is yours. Let us not lose sight of His direction through illusions, for only illusions of another direction can obscure the one for which God's Voice speaks in all of us. Never accord the ego the power to interfere with the journey. It has none, because the journey is the way to what is true. Leave all illusions behind, and reach beyond all attempts of the ego to hold you back. I go before you because I am beyond the ego. Reach, therefore, for my hand because you want to transcend the ego. My strength will never be wanting, and if you choose to share it you will do so. I give it willingly and gladly, because I need you as much as you need me.

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VI. The Treasure of God[edit]

We are the joint will of the Sonship, whose Wholeness is for all. We begin the journey back by setting out together, and gather in our brothers as we continue together. Every gain in our strength is offered for all, so they too can lay aside their weakness and add their strength to us. God's welcome waits for us all, and He will welcome us as I am welcoming you. Forget not the Kingdom of God for anything the world has to offer.

The world can add nothing to the power and the glory of God and His holy Sons, but it can blind the Sons to the Father if they behold it. You cannot behold the world and know God. Only one is true. I am come to tell you that the choice of which is true is not yours to make. If it were, you would have destroyed yourself. Yet God did not will the destruction of His creations, having created them for eternity. His Will has saved you, not from yourself but from your illusion of yourself. He has saved you for yourself.

Let us glorify Him Whom the world denies, for over His Kingdom the world has no power. No one created by God can find joy in anything except the eternal; not because he is deprived of anything else, but because nothing else is worthy of him. What God and His Sons create is eternal, and in this and this only is their joy.

Listen to the story of the prodigal son, and learn what God's treasure is and yours: This son of a loving father left his home and thought he had squandered everything for nothing of any value, although he had not understood its worthlessness at the time. He was ashamed to return to his father, because he thought he had hurt him. Yet when he came home the father welcomed him with joy, because the son himself was his father's treasure. He wanted nothing else.

God wants only His Son because His Son is His only treasure. You want your creations as He wants His. Your creations are your gift to the Holy Trinity, created in gratitude for your creation. They do not leave you any more than you left your Creator, but they extend your creation as God extended Himself to you. Can the creations of God Himself take joy in what is not real? And what is real except the creations of God and those that are created like His? Your creations love you as you love your Father for the gift of creation. There is no other gift that is eternal, and therefore there is no other gift that is true. How, then, can you accept anything else or give anything else, and expect joy in return? And what else but joy would you want? You made neither yourself nor your function. You made only the decision to be unworthy of both. Yet you cannot make yourself unworthy because you are the treasure of God, and what He values is valuable. There can be no question of its worth, because its value lies in God's sharing Himself with it and establishing its value forever.

Your function is to add to God's treasure by creating yours. His Will to you is His Will for you. He would not withhold creation from you because His joy is in it. You cannot find joy except as God does. His joy lay in creating you, and He extends His Fatherhood to you so that you can extend yourself as He did. You do not understand this because you do not understand Him. No one who does not accept his function can understand what it is, and no one can accept his function unless he knows what he is. Creation is the Will of God. His Will created you to create. Your will was not created separate from His, and so you must will as He wills.

An "unwilling will" does not mean anything, being a contradiction in terms that actually means nothing. When you think you are unwilling to will with God, you are not thinking. God's Will is Thought. It cannot be contradicted by thought. God does not contradict Himself, and His Sons, who are like Him, cannot contradict themselves or Him. Yet their thought is so powerful that they can even imprison the mind of God's Son, if they so choose. This choice does make the Son's function unknown to him, but never to his Creator. And because it is not unknown to his Creator, it is forever knowable to him.

There is no question but one you should ever ask of yourself; -- "Do I want to know my Father's Will for me?" He will not hide it. He has revealed it to me because I asked it of Him, and learned of what He had already given. Our function is to work together, because apart from each other we cannot function at all. The whole power of God's Son lies in all of us, but not in any of us alone. God would not have us be alone because He does not will to be alone. That is why He created His Son, and gave him the power to create with Him. Our creations are as holy as we are, and we are the Sons of God Himself, as holy as He is. Through our creations we extend our love, and thus increase the joy of the Holy Trinity. You do not understand this, because you who are God's Own treasure do not regard yourself as valuable. Given this belief, you cannot understand anything.

I share with God the knowledge of the value He puts upon you. My devotion to you is of Him, being born of my knowledge of myself and Him. We cannot be separated. Whom God has joined cannot be separated, and God has joined all His Sons with Himself. Can you be separated from your life and your being? The journey to God is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always, and what you are forever. It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed. Truth can only be experienced. It cannot be described and it cannot be explained. I can make you aware of the conditions of truth, but the experience is of God. Together we can meet its conditions, but truth will dawn upon you of itself.

What God has willed for you is yours. He has given His Will to His treasure, whose treasure it is. Your heart lies where your treasure is, as His does. You who are beloved of God are wholly blessed. Learn this of me, and free the holy will of all those who are as blessed as you are.

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VII. The Body as a Means of Communication[edit]

Attack is always physical. When attack in any form enters your mind you are equating yourself with a body, since this is the ego's interpretation of the body. You do not have to attack physically to accept this interpretation. You are accepting it simply by the belief that attack can get you something you want. If you did not believe this, the idea of attack would have no appeal for you. When you equate yourself with a body you will always experience depression. When a child of God thinks of himself in this way he is belittling himself, and seeing his brothers as similarly belittled. Since he can find himself only in them, he has cut himself off from salvation.

Remember that the Holy Spirit interprets the body only as a means of communication. Being the communication link between God and His separated Sons, the Holy Spirit interprets everything you have made in the light of what He is. The ego separates through the body. The Holy Spirit reaches through it to others. You do not perceive your brothers as the Holy Spirit does, because you do not regard bodies solely as a means of joining minds and uniting them with yours and mine. This interpretation of the body will change your mind entirely about its value. Of itself it has none.

If you use the body for attack, it is harmful to you. If you use it only to reach the minds of those who believe they are bodies, and teach them through the body that this is not so, you will understand the power of the mind that is in you. If you use the body for this and only for this, you cannot use it for attack. In the service of uniting it becomes a beautiful lesson in communion, which has value until communion is. This is God's way of making unlimited what you have limited. The Holy Spirit does not see the body as you do, because He knows the only reality of anything is the service it renders God on behalf of the function He gives it.

Communication ends separation. Attack promotes it. The body is beautiful or ugly, peaceful or savage, helpful or harmful, according to the use to which it is put. And in the body of another you will see the use to which you have put yours. If the body becomes a means you give to the Holy Spirit to use on behalf of union of the Sonship, you will not see anything physical except as what it is. Use it for truth and you will see it truly. Misuse it and you will misunderstand it, because you have already done so by misusing it. Interpret anything apart from the Holy Spirit and you will mistrust it. This will lead you to hatred and attack and loss of peace.

Yet all loss comes only from your own misunderstanding. Loss of any kind is impossible. But when you look upon a brother as a physical entity, his power and glory are "lost" to you and so are yours. You have attacked him, but you must have attacked yourself first. Do not see him this way for your own salvation, which must bring him his. Do not allow him to belittle himself in your mind, but give him freedom from his belief in littleness, and thus escape from yours. As part of you, he is holy. As part of me, you are. To communicate with part of God Himself is to reach beyond the Kingdom to its Creator, through His Voice Which He has established as part of you.

Rejoice, then, that of yourself you can do nothing. You are not of yourself. He of Whom you are has willed your power and glory for you, with which you can perfectly accomplish His holy Will for you when you accept it for yourself. He has not withdrawn His gifts from you, but you believe you have withdrawn them from Him. Let no Son of God remain hidden for His Name's sake, because His Name is yours.

The Bible says, "The word (or thought) was made flesh." Strictly speaking this is impossible, since it seems to involve the translation of one order of reality into another. Different orders of reality merely appear to exist, just as different orders of miracles do. Thought cannot be made into flesh except by belief, since thought is not physical. Yet thought is communication, for which the body can be used. This is the only natural use to which it can be put. To use the body unnaturally is to lose the Holy Spirit's purpose, and thus to confuse the goal of His curriculum.

There is nothing so frustrating to a learner as a curriculum he cannot learn. His sense of adequacy suffers, and he must become depressed. Being faced with an impossible learning situation is the most depressing thing in the world. In fact, it is ultimately why the world itself is depressing. The Holy Spirit's curriculum is never depressing, because it is a curriculum of joy. Whenever the reaction to learning is depression, it is because the true goal of the curriculum has been lost sight of.

In this world, not even the body is perceived as whole. Its purpose is seen as fragmented into many functions with little or no relationship to each other, so that it appears to be ruled by chaos. Guided by the ego, it is. Guided by the Holy Spirit, it is not. It becomes a means by which the part of the mind you tried to separate from spirit can reach beyond its distortions and return to spirit. The ego's temple thus becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, where devotion to Him replaces devotion to the ego. In this sense the body does become a temple to God; His Voice abides in it by directing the use to which it is put.

Healing is the result of using the body solely for communication. Since this is natural it heals by making whole, which is also natural. All mind is whole, and the belief that part of it is physical, or not mind, is a fragmented or sick interpretation. Mind cannot be made physical, but it can be made manifest through the physical if it uses the body to go beyond itself. By reaching out, the mind extends itself. It does not stop at the body, for if it does it is blocked in its purpose. A mind that has been blocked has allowed itself to be vulnerable to attack, because it has turned against itself.

The removal of blocks, then, is the only way to guarantee help and healing. Help and healing are the normal expressions of a mind that is working through the body, but not in it. If the mind believes the body is its goal it will distort its perception of the body, and by blocking its own extension beyond it, will induce illness by fostering separation. Perceiving the body as a separate entity cannot but foster illness, because it is not true. A medium of communication loses its usefulness if it is used for anything else. To use a medium of communication as a medium of attack is an obvious confusion in purpose.

To communicate is to join and to attack is to separate. How can you do both simultaneously with the same thing and not suffer? Perception of the body can be unified only by one purpose. This releases the mind from the temptation to see the body in many lights, and gives it over entirely to the One Light in Which it can be really understood. To confuse a learning device with a curriculum goal is a fundamental confusion that blocks the understanding of both. Learning must lead beyond the body to the re-establishment of the power of the mind in it. This can be accomplished only if the mind extends to other minds, and does not arrest itself in its extension. This arrest is the cause of all illness, because only extension is the mind's function.

The opposite of joy is depression. When your learning promotes depression instead of joy, you cannot be listening to God's joyous Teacher and learning His lessons. To see a body as anything except a means of communication is to limit your mind and to hurt yourself. Health is therefore nothing more than united purpose. If the body is brought under the purpose of the mind, it becomes whole because the mind's purpose is one. Attack can only be an assumed purpose of the body, because apart from the mind the body has no purpose at all.

You are not limited by the body, and thought cannot be made flesh. Yet mind can be manifested through the body if it goes beyond it and does not interpret it as limitation. Whenever you see another as limited to or by the body, you are imposing this limit on yourself. Are you willing to accept this, when your whole purpose for learning should be to escape from limitations? To conceive of the body as a means of attack and to believe that joy could possibly result, is a clear-cut indication of a poor learner. He has accepted a learning goal in obvious contradiction to the unified purpose of the curriculum, and one that is interfering with his ability to accept its purpose as his own.

Joy is unified purpose, and unified purpose is only God's. When yours is unified it is His. Believe you can interfere with His purpose, and you need salvation. You have condemned yourself, but condemnation is not of God. Therefore it is not true. No more are any of its seeming results. When you see a brother as a body, you are condemning him because you have condemned yourself. Yet if all condemnation is unreal, and it must be unreal since it is a form of attack, then it can have no results.

Do not allow yourself to suffer from imagined results of what is not true. Free your mind from the belief that this is possible. In its complete impossibility lies your only hope for release. But what other hope would you want? Freedom from illusions lies only in not believing them. There is no attack, but there is unlimited communication and therefore unlimited power and wholeness. The power of wholeness is extension. Do not arrest your thought in this world, and you will open your mind to creation in God.

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VIII. The Body as Means or End[edit]

Attitudes toward the body are attitudes toward attack. To the ego the body is to attack with. Equating you with the body, it teaches that you are to attack with. The body, then, is not the source of its own health. The body's condition lies solely in your interpretation of its function. Functions are part of being since they arise from it, but the relationship is not reciprocal. The whole does define the part, but the part does not define the whole. Yet to know in part is to know entirely because of the fundamental difference between knowledge and perception. In perception the whole is built up of parts that can separate and reassemble in different constellations. But knowledge never changes, so its constellation is permanent. The idea of part-whole relationships has meaning only at the level of perception, where change is possible. Otherwise, there is no difference between the part and whole.

The body exists in a world that seems to contain two voices fighting for its possession. In this perceived constellation the body is seen as capable of shifting its allegiance from one to the other, making the concepts of both health and sickness meaningful. The ego makes a fundamental confusion between means and end as it always does. Regarding the body as an end, the ego has no real use for it because it is not an end. You must have noticed an outstanding characteristic of every end that the ego has accepted as its own. When you have achieved it, it has not satisfied you. This is why the ego is forced to shift ceaselessly from one goal to another, so that you will continue to hope it can yet offer you something.

It has been particularly difficult to overcome the ego's belief in the body as an end, because it is synonymous with the belief in attack as an end. The ego has a profound investment in sickness. If you are sick, how can you object to the ego's firm belief that you are not invulnerable? This is an appealing argument from the ego's point of view, because it obscures the obvious attack that underlies the sickness. If you recognized this and also decided against attack, you could not give this false witness to the ego's stand.

It is hard to perceive sickness as a false witness, because you do not realize that it is entirely out of keeping with what you want. This witness, then, appears to be innocent and trustworthy because you have not seriously cross-examined him. If you had, you would not consider sickness such a strong witness on behalf of the ego's views. A more honest statement would be that those who want the ego are predisposed to defend it. Therefore, their choice of witnesses should be suspect from the beginning. The ego does not call upon witnesses who would disagree with its case, nor does the Holy Spirit. I have said that judgment is the function of the Holy Spirit, and one He is perfectly equipped to fulfill. The ego as a judge gives anything but an impartial judgment. When the ego calls on a witness, it has already made the witness an ally.

It is still true that the body has no function of itself, because it is not an end. The ego, however, establishes it as an end because, as such, its true function is obscured. This is the purpose of everything the ego does. Its sole aim is to lose sight of the function of everything. A sick body does not make any sense. It could not make sense because sickness is not what the body is for. Sickness is meaningful only if the two basic premises on which the ego's interpretation of the body rests are true; that the body is for attack, and that you are a body. Without these premises sickness is inconceivable.

Sickness is a way of demonstrating that you can be hurt. It is a witness to your frailty, your vulnerability, and your extreme need to depend on external guidance. The ego uses this as its best argument for your need for its guidance. It dictates endless prescriptions for avoiding catastrophic outcomes. The Holy Spirit, perfectly aware of the same situation, does not bother to analyze it at all. If data are meaningless there is no point in analyzing them. The function of truth is to collect information that is true. Any way you handle error results in nothing. The more complicated the results become the harder it may be to recognize their nothingness, but it is not necessary to examine all possible outcomes to which premises give rise in order to judge them truly.

A learning device is not a teacher. It cannot tell you how you feel. You do not know how you feel because you have accepted the ego's confusion, and you therefore believe that a learning device can tell you how you feel. Sickness is merely another example of your insistence on asking guidance of a teacher who does not know the answer. The ego is incapable of knowing how you feel. When I said that the ego does not know anything, I said the one thing about the ego that is wholly true. But there is a corollary; if only knowledge has being and the ego has no knowledge, then the ego has no being.

You might well ask how the voice of something that does not exist can be so insistent. Have you thought about the distorting power of something you want, even if it is not real? There are many instances of how what you want distorts perception. No one can doubt the ego's skill in building up false cases. Nor can anyone doubt your willingness to listen until you choose not to accept anything except truth. When you lay the ego aside, it will be gone. The Holy Spirit's Voice is as loud as your willingness to listen. It cannot be louder without violating your freedom of choice, which the Holy Spirit seeks to restore, never to undermine.

The Holy Spirit teaches you to use your body only to reach your brothers, so He can teach His message through you. This will heal them and therefore heal you. Everything used in accordance with its function as the Holy Spirit sees it cannot be sick. Everything used otherwise is. Do not allow the body to be a mirror of a split mind. Do not let it be an image of your own perception of littleness. Do not let it reflect your decision to attack. Health is seen as the natural state of everything when interpretation is left to the Holy Spirit, Who perceives no attack on anything. Health is the result of relinquishing all attempts to use the body lovelessly. Health is the beginning of the proper perspective on life under the guidance of the one Teacher Who knows what life is, being the Voice for Life Itself.

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IX. Healing as Corrected Perception[edit]

I said before that the Holy Spirit is the Answer. He is the Answer to everything, because He knows what the answer to everything is. The ego does not know what a real question is, although it asks an endless number. Yet you can learn this as you learn to question the value of the ego, and thus establish your ability to evaluate its questions. When the ego tempts you to sickness do not ask the Holy Spirit to heal the body, for this would merely be to accept the ego's belief that the body is the proper aim of healing. Ask, rather, that the Holy Spirit teach you the right perception of the body, for perception alone can be distorted. Only perception can be sick, because only perception can be wrong.

Wrong perception is the wish that things be as they are not. The reality of everything is totally harmless, because total harmlessness is the condition of its reality. It is also the condition of your awareness of its reality. You do not have to seek reality. It will seek you and find you when you meet its conditions. Its conditions are part of what it is. And this part only is up to you. The rest is of itself. You need do so little because your little part is so powerful that it will bring the whole to you. Accept, then, your little part, and let the whole be yours.

Wholeness heals because it is of the mind. All forms of sickness, even unto death, are physical expressions of the fear of awakening. They are attempts to reinforce sleeping out of fear of waking. This is a pathetic way of trying not to see by rendering the faculties for seeing ineffectual. "Rest in peace" is a blessing for the living, not the dead, because rest comes from waking, not from sleeping. Sleep is withdrawing; waking is joining. Dreams are illusions of joining, because they reflect the ego's distorted notions about what joining is. Yet the Holy Spirit, too, has use for sleep, and can use dreams on behalf of waking if you will let Him.

How you wake is the sign of how you have used sleep. To whom did you give it? Under which teacher did you place it? Whenever you wake dispiritedly, it was not given to the Holy Spirit. Only when you awaken joyously have you utilized sleep according to His purpose. You can indeed be "drugged" by sleep, if you have misused it on behalf of sickness. Sleep is no more a form of death than death is a form of unconsciousness. Complete unconsciousness is impossible. You can rest in peace only because you are awake.

Healing is release from the fear of waking and the substitution of the decision to wake. The decision to wake is the reflection of the will to love, since all healing involves replacing fear with love. The Holy Spirit cannot distinguish among degrees of error, for if He taught that one form of sickness is more serious than another, He would be teaching that one error can be more real than another. His function is to distinguish only between the false and the true, replacing the false with the true.

The ego, which always wants to weaken the mind, tries to separate it from the body in an attempt to destroy it. Yet the ego actually believes that it is protecting it. This is because the ego believes that mind is dangerous, and that to make mindless is to heal. But to make mindless is impossible, since it would mean to make nothing out of what God created. The ego despises weakness, even though it makes every effort to induce it. The ego wants only what it hates. To the ego this is perfectly sensible. Believing in the power of attack, the ego wants attack.

The Bible enjoins you to be perfect, to heal all errors, to take no thought of the body as separate and to accomplish all things in my name. This is not my name alone, for ours is a shared identification. The Name of God's Son is one, and you are enjoined to do the works of love because we share this oneness. Our minds are whole because they are one. If you are sick you are withdrawing from me. Yet you cannot withdraw from me alone. You can only withdraw from yourself and me.

You have surely begun to realize that this is a very practical course, and one that means exactly what it says. I would not ask you to do things you cannot do, and it is impossible that I could do things you cannot do. Given this, and given this quite literally, nothing can prevent you from doing exactly what I ask, and everything argues for your doing it. I give you no limits because God lays none upon you. When you limit yourself we are not of one mind, and that is sickness. Yet sickness is not of the body, but of the mind. All forms of sickness are signs that the mind is split, and does not accept a unified purpose.

The unification of purpose, then, is the Holy Spirit's only way of healing. This is because it is the only level at which healing means anything. The re-establishing of meaning in a chaotic thought system is the way to heal it. Your task is only to meet the conditions for meaning, since meaning itself is of God. Yet your return to meaning is essential to His, because your meaning is part of His. Your healing, then, is part of His health, since it is part of His Wholeness. He cannot lose this, but you can not know it. Yet it is still His Will for you, and His Will must stand forever and in all things.