December 2010 – “I am not a body. I am free.”

“Freedom must be impossible as long as you perceive a body as yourself. The body is a limit. Who would seek for freedom in a body looks for it where it can not be found. The mind can be made free when it no longer sees itself as in a body…” Workbook page 382, Lesson 199.

“I am not a body. I am free” is a statement that occurs several times in A Course in Miracles. This is, most probably, because it is a fundamental belief. We are not bodies because God did not create us in physical form; He created us as an extension of Himself. So, we are eternal spirit, one with God and with each other. The problem is that we believe we are a body because we can see, feel and touch it. In reality, the body is just an image — a mental projection created by the ego. And as it was created or “miscreated” by the ego, it has none of the characteristics of eternal spirit. Therefore, the body is subject to growth, ill health, decay and death. How could a loving God have created us in this manner?

In Lesson 199 Jesus tells us: “It is essential for your progress in this course that you accept today’s idea, and hold it very dear. Be not concerned that to the ego it is quite insane. The ego holds the body dear because it dwells in it, and lives united with the home that it has made. It is a part of the illusion that has sheltered it from being found illusory itself.” The ego cannot possibly believe the statement: I am not a body. I am free, because it identifies with the body and it wants us to believe we are bodies to ensure its own survival.

There is a very important section in Chapter 18 of the Text entitled I Need Do Nothing. This statement can be interpreted in a number of ways. One obvious interpretation is that Jesus is asking us not to rely on ourselves but to ask for the help of the Holy Spirit. Although, of course, in the illusory world there are many things we have to do every day of our lives, when it comes to important issues like responding to someone who has upset us, or dealing with a problem or making an important decision, Jesus is asking us to hand the problem over to the Holy Spirit and not rely on the ego or wrong mind for guidance.

Another way of looking at the statement I need do nothing is to realise that the body does not have a role in the salvation or enlightenment process. It is our minds (right minds) that will lead us out of the illusory world, not our bodies. The body is simply a tool that can be used to help us awaken just as it can be used to keep us trapped in the world of the ego.

“You still have too much faith in the body as a source of strength. What plans do you make that do not involve its comfort or protection or enjoyment in some way?” Note 1 This is such a true statement because every single day we focus on our bodies: we feed ourselves, take exercise, wash ourselves, beautify ourselves, protect ourselves in our homes at night, etc., etc. Of course, within the dream we do have to do these things, but it doesn’t hurt to totally forget the body from time to time. When, for example, one wanders through a beautiful forest, it is possible to forget the body. Similarly, when listening to a beautiful piece of music or when gazing at a lovely sunset we can transcend our bodies momentarily. During deep meditation the body is also out of one’s mind; one actually feels as though there is no body there at all. In these instances it is easy to understand the sentence I need do nothing, i.e., the body does not need to do anything.

So why is it important to forget the body? Because when we do so we are more likely to be able to let the Holy Spirit into our minds. Also, there is no point in focusing on our bodies because they do not exist. “There is one thing that you have never done; you have not utterly forgotten the body. It has perhaps faded at times from your sight, but it has not yet completely disappeared. You are not asked to let this happen for more than an instant, yet it is in this instant that the miracle of Atonement happens.” The miracle of Atonement is one of the goals of the Course; unless we can experience the Atonement for ourselves (whereby we recognise that the separation from God never happened) we will not be able to awaken from the ego’s dream.

Further on in Chapter 18 we read: “To do anything involves the body. And if you recognize you need do nothing, you have withdrawn the body’s value from your mind. Here is the quick and open door through which you slip past centuries of effort, and escape from time….To do nothing is to rest, and make a place within you where the activity of the body ceases to demand attention. Into this place the Holy Spirit comes, and there abides. He will remain when you forget, and the body’s activities return to occupy your conscious mind.” Note 2 This is a very encouraging passage as it shows us that by not focusing on the body we can escape from time — which is another ego trap — and invite the Holy Spirit in to guide us. Jesus realises that the body will have to resume its mundane, daily activities but he tells us that the Holy Spirit will still be with us when this happens, provided we have invited Him by calling upon him and by ignoring the activity of the body for a while.

ACIM teaches us that we are really still in Heaven but because of the ego’s tiny, mad idea that it could live an autonomous life outside Heaven, we believe that we are actually living in a physical body in this world, far away from Heaven. “There is nothing outside you. That is what you must ultimately learn, for it is the realization that the Kingdom of Heaven is restored to you. For God created only this, and He did not depart from it nor leave it separate from Himself…Heaven is not a place nor a condition. It is merely an awareness of perfect Oneness, and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this Oneness, and nothing else within.” Note 3 That has to be the best definition of Heaven ever!

Despite the need to forget about the body, it is reassuring to learn that it can be put to good use by serving the Holy Spirit. In Lesson 199 it is explained that when we refuse to cherish the body we will set ourselves free. “…Declare your innocence and you are free. The body disappears, because you have no need of it except the need the Holy Spirit sees. For this, the body will appear as useful form for what the mind must do. It thus becomes a vehicle which helps forgiveness be extended to the all-inclusive goal that it must reach, according to God’s plan.”

Thus, the body has no real meaning and no important function other than enabling the mind to learn its forgiveness lessons and become free of the ego. When the wrong mind completely overcomes guilt, fear, anger, judgement and all grievances it becomes whole again instead of being split into wrong and right portions. A whole mind is a healed mind; when that happens we will realise that we have been in Heaven all along.

It’s the mind that will set us free, not the body.

ACIM, T388
ACIM, T390
ACIM, T384

Comments are closed.

Archives: Lessons

Social Networks