Excerpts from the Workshop held at the
Foundation for A Course in Miracles
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
"The Cause of Sickness" (S-3.I) (cont.)
(2:1) The body's cause [the body is the effect] is unforgiveness of the Son of God.
Jesus is not even talking here about a diseased body, in the sense of what we usually label disease. The body itself is caused by unforgiveness of the Son of God. What is unforgiveness? Guilt and attack. I project my guilt and thereby withhold my forgiveness from every living thing. That's attack. And that is the cause of the body. Once again, ideas leave not their source. The body is the embodiment of a thought system of sin, guilt, and fear—the expression of the thought of separation. It has no existence outside that thought. The body is a shadow, and since shadows have no substance, it is a shadow of nothing.
Yet, little children can make shadows into something real. A little child in bed at night might hear the wind rustling in the trees, or see shadows caused by the branches of the tree waving in the wind. The child projects all its fear and guilt onto the shadows and then thinks there are robbers out there, or killers, or aliens. This is very, very real to the child. But shadows are not real. They are nothing, but onto that nothing we project something we think is real and has substance. We take the guilt in our mind that comes from the belief that we separated from God, and we project it into a body. So all of a sudden the body becomes the embodiment of the thought of separation. It is the thought of separation given form. And it is a thought of sin and guilt. So I take the sin and guilt in my mind that manifests itself in the shadow of my body and I quickly get rid of it by projecting it. That is why, when we made up our collective dream—which we all did as one Son—we made it so that there would be parents. (We won't deal with the other species or so-called forms of "life," nor with forms of "non-life." We will stay just with homo sapiens.) Why did we make up our dream with parents? It was our dream, so we did not have to have parents. But we made it up that way because we needed some bodies that we could project our guilt onto. So my body and its condition now become the effect of your guilt and sin, not my own. That is what Jesus is talking about here.
(2:2) It [the body] has not left its source [the unforgiveness, the guilt in the mind] and in its pain and aging and the mark of death upon it this is clearly shown.
Why do you think people want to get old? Why do you think people want to undo pain, aside from the obvious reason of not wanting to be in pain? It is to show that my body lives on; and if my body lives on and on, and I am free from pain, then I can show that there is no guilt. But all that I have done, since ideas leave not their source, is bury the guilt. I put another veil over the secret dream so I will never get anywhere near it. It is all part of the ego's strategy to keep the thought of separation intact but to give the guilt away so someone else will be held accountable and responsible for it, meaning someone else will be punished for my sin. What is so interesting when one looks at relationships in the world is to see that we all do the same thing with each other, desperately trying to pretend that we are not doing that at all. We are all trying to see ourselves as the innocent victims of other people's sin.
Thus, I keep my separated self, and I gladly suffer abuse and victimization so that I can point an accusing finger and say, "You did this to me." I do this to you, you do this to me, and that is the special relationship that Jesus talks so much about in the text. These types of relationships are not very nice, obviously. We try to dress them up with pretty ribbons and wrapping paper, but they are not very nice, because they are all about stealing, cannibalizing, and selfishly trying to extract from someone else the life we believe we lack. That is what we did originally with God, and that is what we do each and every time we meet another body. And part of our dream calls for microorganisms (viruses or bacteria) that we can blame for invading our space and cannibalizing our flesh.
Remember, this is all a dream, and Freud helped us to understand that dreams are purposive. They don't just happen. In the first part of Interpretation of Dreams, he gives an historical overview of how people have regarded dreams. He shows us that dreams fulfill a purpose. Expanding upon all of this on the macrocosmic level, we can see that the dream of the physical universe—the entire cosmos—serves a purpose. A Course in Miracles helps us understand, as no other spirituality has ever done, the purpose that the physical world serves, therefore the purpose that our individual birth and life in the physical world serves. It is not a very nice purpose. It is to keep what we stole, and have someone else be blamed for it and held accountable for it, and ultimately punished for it.
Another highly important ego principle that fits in with all this is that of one or the other. It is either God or me. If God lives, I do not, because in God I have no independent life. If all there is is God—Love and Oneness—then how could there be an individual, special, unique, autonomous, free, independent being? There cannot be. Therefore, if I am going to be this special, individual, unique, autonomous, free, and independent being, God's Oneness has to be sacrificed. It is one or the other. That is the basic principle and template upon which the entire world was formed. Our lives are based on one or the other. I want to survive, and that means it must be at your expense. If I am to keep my separation but be sinless, then you must be sinful. What I give you I no longer have; you have it. That is the nature of the world, and that is what Jesus is talking about here.
Again, "It [the body] has not left its source, and in its pain and aging and the mark of death upon it this is clearly shown." Jesus is saying not to make the body into something wonderful, glorious, and holy. It is not. God had nothing to do with it. The Holy Spirit uses the body to serve a holy purpose, but the body itself is nothing. It was made to be the home, in form, of evil, darkness, and sin (W-pI.93.1:1), and that is exactly what he is saying here. The body was made to be the final proof that the separation from God happened.
That is why no one really likes this course, despite what students say. How could you like a course that tells you that not only do you not exist, but in the feeble, fragile existence you think you have, you are a vicious, cannibalistic murderer? That does not make you a very nice person. How could you possibly like a course that tells you that? And you have to get through that part of the Course to get to the ultimate end, which is to realize, as workbook Lesson 93 says, "Light and joy and peace abide in me." You cannot get to light and peace and joy until you go through the evil, darkness, and sin. Then you will like this course. In fact, at that point you will not need the Course anymore.
(2:3) Fearful and frail it [the body] seems to be to those who think their life is tied to its command and linked to its unstable, tiny breath.
Despite what all the metaphysicians in the world of A Course in Miracles world think, what we really believe is that our lives are very much tied up with this body. Just see what would happen if your oxygen supply were turned off for a minute. All your spiritual ideas would go out the window very quickly. So what Jesus in effect is saying to us here, as in many other places in the Course, is that we should not pretend that we are not bodies: "Don't tell me you really believe what I am telling you. To truly believe it means you are at the end of the journey, at the top of the ladder. But for now you think you are a body; so let's treat you as if you are a body. Try not to deny what your body is."
(2:4-6) Death stares at them as every moment goes irrevocably past their grasping hands, which cannot hold them back. And they feel fear as bodies change and sicken. For they sense the heavy scent of death upon their hearts.
This is a literary way of saying what Freud and many other people have said: that from the moment we are born we are preparing for death. Later in life, Freud began to talk about a death instinct, because he recognized that there was something missing in his theory.
So what Jesus is doing here is helping us recognize what the body really is. As many of you know, The Song of Prayer was written after the Course was first published and was meant to be a correction for the egregious mistakes students were already making. The primary misunderstanding that this pamphlet was originally written to correct had to do with what it means to ask the Holy Spirit—what prayer really is. That is the focus of the first chapter. The second chapter deals with forgiveness and uncovers the ego's plan of forgiveness-to-destroy, which is spoken of throughout the Course, although that term is never used except in this pamphlet. He tries to help us realize what forgiveness really is and what it is not, and he does the same thing here in the third chapter on healing.
Many students in those early days asked, and students these days (which of course can still be thought of really as part of the early days of the Course) are still asking the Holy Spirit to heal them. Jesus is trying to explain: "Don't ask me to heal the body. How can I heal something that doesn't exist? Don't make me as insane as you. Ask me to help you heal your mind, because that is the problem." And don't try to deny the purpose for which the body was made. It came from a thought of death and therefore it is a thought of death: ideas leave not their source. Bodies change and they weaken, deteriorate, and die because they come from the thought of guilt. We believed we killed God and that He is going to punish us. It is that thought that has to be undone, not the body.