January 2013 – “My body is a wholly neutral thing.”

“I am a Son of God. And can I be another thing as well? Did God create the mortal and corruptible? What use has God’s beloved Son for what must die?” ACIM, Workbook page 445, Lesson 294.

This important lesson asks us to overlook the body precisely because it was not created by God. The body is the ego’s tool, which it uses to reinforce the separation. “The body is the symbol of the ego and the ego is the symbol of separation. And both are nothing more than attempts to limit communication, and thereby to make it impossible…” T322. It is mentioned earlier in the Text that the separation was the way we broke off our communication with God, and the ego is keen to ensure that we don’t restore this link. If we regard ourselves merely as bodies, we will not be able to communicate with Holy Spirit because communication with Him takes place at the level of the higher mind. But if we want to know the truth then we have to be open to hearing His Voice because he is the Voice for God. We must, therefore, be aware that we cannot communicate with Him through the body.

“When the body ceases to attract you, and when you place no value on it as a means of getting anything, then there will be no interference in communication and your thoughts will be as free as God’s As you let the Holy Spirit teach you how to use the body only for purposes of communication, and renounce its use for separation and attack which the ego sees in it, you will learn you have no need of a body at all…” T324.

Not only is the body the tool of the ego, it is also the ego’s idol and it actually keeps us prisoners here in the dream. “The body is the ego’s idol; the belief in sin made flesh and then projected outward. This produces what seems to be a wall of flesh around the mind, keeping it prisoner in a tiny spot of space and time, beholden unto death, and given but an instant in which to sigh and grieve and die in honor of its master…” T438. This rather dismal passage should serve as a reminder that we are much more than our bodies, which have to die eventually. We are unlimited spirit, holy sons of God and able to communicate with His Voice provided we can turn our attention away from the body and regard the body as a “wholly neutral thing.”

The prayer in Lesson 294 points out, “My body, Father, cannot be your Son. And what is not created cannot be sinful nor sinless; neither good nor bad…” W445. Being neither good nor bad, the body is simply neutral and under the control of the mind. If we acquire the habit of using our “right minds”, where the Holy Spirit dwells, we will use our bodies to practice forgiveness, to extend love to others and to be a channel for God. But until we have mastered the art of meditation or, at least, of slowing down the thoughts that stream through the lower mind, it will not be easy to hear His Voice.

An interesting passage in Chapter 18 explains how the body keeps us separated from each other and from God. “The body is outside you, and but seems to surround you, shutting you off from others and keeping you apart from them, and them from you. It is not there. There is no barrier between God and His Son, nor can His Son be separated from Himself except in illusions…” T386. We need to remind ourselves that the body “is not there.” This isn’t easy because if we look in the mirror, we see the body; if we have a headache, we feel the pain in our heads; if we smell a rose, it smells lovely; if we hear a piece of beautiful music, it sounds wonderful. Yet, it’s time for us to stop being deluded by the ego into believing that all the things we perceive with our senses are actually real. They are all part of the dream. And, as it says in the prayer in Lesson 294, “Let me, then, use this dream to help Your plan that we awaken from all dreams we made.” W445.

A passage in Chapter 19 underpins the idea of the neutrality of the body. “Why should the body be anything to you? Certainly what it is made of is not precious. And just as certainly it has no feeling. It transmits to you the feelings that you want. Like any communication medium the body receives and sends the messages that it is given. It has no feeling for them. All of the feeling with which they are invested is given by the sender and the receiver…” T415. It is explained that our egos use the body to project messages of attack and guilt so that others will suffer instead of us. But the Holy Spirit uses the body to send messages from God to us and to others. If we are serious about awakening, we need to remember that, “The ego is the symbol of separation, just as the Holy Spirit is the symbol of peace.” T80. Do we want to remain separated or do we want the peace of God?

If we feel tempted to regard ourselves as bodies, this passage reminds us that the body cannot give us anything. “The body can bring you neither peace nor turmoil; neither joy nor pain. It is a means, and not an end. It has no purpose of itself, but only what is given to it…Only the mind can set a purpose…” T414. If we are consciously on a path back Home, it makes sense to make the purpose of the body something that will speed us up on the journey. We have, most probably, used the body in the pursuit of pleasure during numerous lifetimes. If this is the lifetime in which we want to awaken, then we have to change our minds about the purpose of the body and use it to help us get Home. The way to do that is to extend love and forgiveness to everyone we meet.

It is worth reading Section VII in Chapter 8 entitled, “The Body as a Means of Communication” as it provides some valuable insights into the purpose of the body. Basically, the body’s only role is as a means of communication so that it can reach out to others by spreading the Holy Spirit’s message of love and forgiveness. If we use the body in this way we can actually think of it as a temple to God although it was created to be the ego’s temple. “Guided by the Holy Spirit…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.” T153.

If we perceive the body to be a temple to God, then we need to take care of it to the best of our ability because now it has an important function.

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