Healing the Dream of Sickness
Excerpts from the Workshop held at the
Foundation for A Course in Miracles
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
"The Cause of Sickness" (S-3.I) (conclusion)
(3:1) The body can be healed as an effect of true forgiveness.
Now Jesus is not talking about the physical body here. In other words, the symptoms will disappear when the guilt goes; but it is possible in principle for the guilt to go and yet still have physical symptoms present. However, they are no longer "sickness," because the symptoms now will serve a different purpose, whatever that purpose would be. Don't define sickness by the symptom. What you want to focus on is not the amelioration of your symptom as proof that this course works. What you want to focus on is the amelioration of your guilt, which could happen only when you recognize that guilt is your choice and understand why you chose it, so you can then make a more balanced choice—against the guilt and for the Atonement. The body is healed when you no longer project your guilt onto it.
(3:2-4) Only that can give rememberance of immortality ["rememberance" is spelled with an extra e because Helen needed it for the meter. That's poetic license. Shakespeare "cheated," too], which is the gift of holiness and love. Forgiveness must be given by a mind which understands that it must overlook all shadows on the holy face of Christ, among which sickness should be seen as one. Nothing but that [don't see sickness as anything other than a shadow]; the sign of judgment made by brother upon brother, and the Son of God upon himself.
I first place judgment on myself. I judge myself as guilty because of what I have done to God. I then project that guilt out and now I judge you and blame you for what I cannot accept responsibility for in myself, which is the decision to be separate.
(3:5) For he has damned his body as his prison, and forgot that it is he who gave this role to it.
This is a very, very important line. The "he who gave this role to it" is not the "I" that I think I am. It is what we refer to as the decision maker. It is the decision-making part of my mind that chose to believe in the ego's interpretation of separation instead of the Holy Spirit's; and then what followed step by step is that everything the ego told us we accepted as gospel truth: Not only did I separate, but I sinned; not only did I sin, but I should feel guilty; not only am I guilty, but I should be punished for my sin. And to escape that punishment, the ego says quickly: "Leave the mind, project the guilt out, make up a world and a body; keep your separation, forget where it came from and give the guilt to everyone else." And then I forget that I did that. That is why we talk about that veil of forgetfulness. I now believe I am caught in this body as a prison. I am trapped here. And if I believe I am trapped in my body, I will believe that release and freedom will come when I leave the body. That is why there is that very, very important line, also in Chapter 27: "There is a risk of thinking death is peace" (T-27.VII.10:2). People think, "When I am free from my body when I die, then I am free, I am liberated." Well you are no such thing. You are in the same prison of guilt you were in before you "died." Or sometimes it takes the other form: "Yes my body is a prison, but I could dress it up nicely. I could put flowers on it and paint the bars and make all kinds of nice things, and I could turn this prison into something wonderful—so wonderful that I never want to leave it." All this is simply an attempt to cover over the guilt in my mind so I never go back within and uncover it.
Asking Jesus for help is asking him to look at the guilt in you, not in someone else where you placed it. Bring the guilt back into your own mind; recognize finally that you have a mind; understand the purpose the split mind serves; understand the purpose that guilt serves; understand the purpose your world serves. Only then will you be able to change the purpose from guilt to holiness, from sin to salvation, from hate to love, from the ego to God, from the world to Heaven, from the body to spirit—all different terms for describing the same process.
And going back to the third sentence: "Forgiveness must be given by a mind which understands that it must overlook all shadows on the holy face of Christ, among which sickness should be seen as one." That forgiveness can only occur through my understanding the purpose that unforgiveness served in my life, both in keeping the separation thought real, as well as in protecting it from any undoing by projecting it onto other people.
The world is literally a shadow of the thought of guilt in our minds. Our individual bodies are literally shadows of the thought of guilt in our minds. It is not the shadow that has to be healed. It is not the shadow that has to be changed. It certainly is not the shadow that has to be attacked. It is the guilt that has to be addressed in our minds. The only value that the world and our life in a body serve is the value of recalling our attention back within. So again, we recognize that the world is an outside picture of an inward condition (T-21.in.1:5). I need the world because I don't know that there is an inward condition. I need the world as the only vehicle I have—what Freud referred to in terms of the sleeping dream as "the royal road." He said the dream is "the royal road to understanding the activities of the unconscious mind." Jesus would say the same thing. The dream that is the world, the dream that is the body, is "the royal road" to understanding the activities of the unconscious mind. And what are those activities? They are the ongoing decisions for separation and guilt.
So by my coming to understand how I am separating myself from you—I am using my sickness to fulfill the secondary gain of making you responsible for me, of manipulating you to take care of me and feel sorry for me, to feel guilty—by understanding all the purposes I have used the body for, and specifically used sickness for, I could then recognize that all of these were the projections of an inner purpose: the inner need to see myself as separated. That is the original sickness, but I want to blame everyone else for it.
So when you begin to address sickness either in yourself or other people, you want to see it within the greater context of the ego's purpose for dreams of victimization. We made the body to fail, just as manufacturers build cars to fail so you always have to bring them in to be serviced. If we can put a man on the moon, you would think that we could make a car that doesn't have to be serviced, but we don't. So, we made the body to fail. And it is obvious the body fails if you don't feed it, give it water, clothe it, recreate it, etc., etc. Why did we make a body that way? It is a dream. You can make a dream any way you want—we do it every night. We made our dream that way because we want the body to be the instrument of victimization at the hands of someone or something else—the aforementioned powers and forces beyond our control.
You must understand your life in a body, and specifically the sickness of your body, in the context of this larger metaphysical perspective that helps us understand purpose: the purpose that the world serves, and the purpose that the body serves as well as everything that goes on with the body. To state it another way, sickness—physical or psychological symptoms—represent special relationships. I have a very special relationship with my sick body and with my sick psyche. I love them because they enable me to get what I want. I use my special relationship with my body to further my special relationships with other bodies. I use my body to make other bodies feel guilty so I get them to do what I want.
Every kid knows the secondary gain of getting sick: you miss school; you get a lot of attention; sometimes mommy will stay home with you if she is not home otherwise. As an adult, if you don't like your job at work, get sick. If you feel you need a day off, but you want to be paid for it, get sick. There is tremendous secondary gain in getting sick. If you want people to feel sorry for you, get sick, get hurt, do what the world calls an heroic act, and everyone will say: "You poor, poor thing; look how you suffered; you lost your limb, but look at the wonderful thing you did." We make heroes out of martyrs. We make heroes out of victims. There is tremendous secondary gain.
There is a reason for what happens to the body. Nothing happens accidentally. It is our dream. We made the body to fail, to be victimized by powers and forces beyond our control. That the body is that way is not an accident. You must get from the effect, which is the sick body, to the cause, which is the sick mind, and you will understand the cause by understanding purpose. We want to keep the separation we stole from God, but we want to give the sin and guilt away, and one of the nicer ways of giving sin and guilt away is to get sick: "There is this virus that attacked me, and that is why I am sick."
Now this does not mean that within the level of the world you deny that there are viruses and bacteria. There certainly are, but they are there by design. They are part of the same sick Sonship we all are a part of. We all take the role of victims because we are all secretly victimizers. We all take the role of victimizers because we are all secretly victims. It works both ways. We are all victimizers, but someone made us this way, therefore we are the victim of someone else's victimization, and on and on it goes.
. . . . . . .
Q: I want to leave here today with some new realities and I feel that will happen, but I am just thinking how about lightening up about the failure of the body—not making a big deal about it.
A: One of the reasons I think it is important to be a little serious—why it is important to talk about the body that way—is that most people don't like to talk about it that way. And I think that Jesus takes the gloves off in this course and tells it as it is because there is such a strong tendency in the world not to understand the ego. And he really wants us to understand it, because otherwise we won't be able to make a meaningful choice against it. Now the body in the end is nothing. That is the "lightening up" of it: the body is really nothing. But we have made it into something awful because we first made ourselves to be something awful, and we cannot understand that the awfulness we made is nothing until we first look at the awfulness of what we thought. The Course says that you must look at the hate. Jesus says that in a number of places. You must look at the hate before you can look at the love. You must look at the hate not because the hate is real, but because you have made it real; and then you made the hate so hateful and so fearful that you don't want to look at it. Then the world and the body become a defense against looking.