Healing the Dream of Sickness
Excerpts from the Workshop held at the
Foundation for A Course in Miracles
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
In the first two paragraphs of "The 'Dynamics' of the Ego," Jesus explains the same idea, that healing involves looking. We will just go over the second paragraph.
(T-11.V.2:1) What is healing but the removal of all that stands in the way of knowledge?
Nothing about laying on hands; nothing about saying prayers; nothing about mantras, standing on your head, or reciting A Course in Miracles lessons. Healing is "the removal of all that stands in the way of knowledge." How?
(2:2-3,8-9) And how else can one dispel illusions except by looking at them directly, without protecting them? Be not afraid, therefore, for what you will be looking at is the source of fear, and you are beginning to learn that fear is not real. . . . Do not be afraid, then, to look upon fear, for it cannot be seen. Clarity undoes confusion by definition, and to look upon darkness through light must dispel it.
This is what healing is. No different from what the miracle is, what salvation is, or what forgiveness and the Atonement are. Guilt, holding onto grievances, and sickness are all the same problem. Looking is the way we remove all that stands in the way of knowledge and everything that keeps us from remembering our Creator's Love and Who we are as God's true Son: "And how else can one dispel illusions except by looking at them directly, without protecting them?" The world is the protection.
These ideas are present throughout this material: the two pamphlets and the three books of the Course itself. Don't protect the illusion in your mind by insisting there is no mind, and that there is only a body and a world; there are people out there; there are sicknesses and relationships out there. That is exactly what the ego wants you to do. Looking at the illusion in your mind without protecting it through your special relationships is another way of saying the same thing. Jesus tells us not to be afraid because we are afraid. He knows whom he is dealing with. We are terrified. That is why he calls us "little children." We are terrified of the dark; we are terrified of the monsters we think are lurking in the closet, outside the bedroom window, and under the bed. We are like terrified little children. But he is telling us that there is nothing to be afraid of and to let him help us look. Jesus is saying that when you look at the source of fear, which is the belief that you attacked God and God will attack you in return, you will realize there is nothing to fear, because there was no attack. He is saying not to be afraid to look upon fear, because you cannot see fear—it is not there. There are no monsters hiding under your bed or in your closet. It is only your fear that puts them there.
We are no different from the little boy or little girl that has those fears and nightmares. That is what sickness is. Sickness is believing something is there that is not there. Healing is looking and realizing there is nothing there. But you must look upon the darkness and past it to the light, otherwise you will not dispel it. That is why this is a course in darkness. Jesus tells us right at the beginning in the Introduction: "The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence, which is your natural inheritance" (T-in.1:6-7). That is what this is about. It is about blocks and obstacles. He is exposing the ego thought system. That is what healing is, and sickness is fighting against that. Sickness is excluding Jesus or the Holy Spirit so that you do not let in Their wisdom, vision, and love. And you do not let that in, not because you are a bad person but because you are terrified.
Again, the rock-bottom fear is: Who would I be without me? And we define ourselves by all kinds of things—usually by our victimization, our abuse, and our terrible stories. Everyone has terrible stories. There is no hierarchy of terrible stories—and there is no dearth of them either. We all have them, and we have them all the time. They differ in form, but the content is the same. The content is always some version of: I didn't do it; it is not my fault. It is not my fault that I was not loved. It was not my fault that I was rejected. It was not my fault that I did not have what every other child had. It is not my fault that I had no friends. It is not my fault that I was born ugly. And on and on and on. That is the mantra: It is not my fault.
That is why the ego wrote sickness into its dream, and why, when it assembled the cast of characters for its epic, by far the greater casting was done for microorganisms, viruses, and bacteria—much more plentiful than animals and human beings. Why? Because they are the "heroes." They are the ones that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is not our fault. We need microorganisms. We need pathogens. Anything will do as long as it is not guilt. Recall this important line from Chapter 27: "Of all the many causes you perceived as bringing pain and suffering to you, your guilt was not among them" (T-27.VII.7:4). Sickness is believing "it is not my fault."
Look now at the beginning of Chapter 10:
(T-10.in.1:1-2) Nothing beyond yourself can make you fearful or loving, because nothing is beyond you. Time and eternity are both in your mind, and will conflict until you perceive time solely as a means to regain eternity.
Time is in our wrong minds because that is where sin, guilt, and fear gave birth to time. Eternity is in our right minds through the Atonement principle that says nothing happened and the separation never occurred.
You will believe that God and your ego are at war with each other. That is what Jesus means by time and eternity. Time represents the ego, and eternity represents the Holy Spirit or God. And they will be conflict in your mind (obviously not in God's Mind, Who does not even know about time) until you see time as not existing in itself, as not being real, as not having any impact on you, but only as a learning device and a classroom in which you can learn the lessons that will free you from time entirely. Remember, since ideas leave not their source, time is connected to sin, guilt, and fear in our minds. Without sin, guilt, and fear, there would be no time. Projected out, our sins become the past, guilt becomes the present, and the future becomes the fear of God's retaliation. I sinned in the past, I am guilty in the present, and I am afraid of the punishment forthcoming in the future.
Until I recognize that you and I do not have separate interests, I will continue to believe in separation, which means that I will continue to believe in sin, guilt, and fear, which in turn means that I will continue to believe that I am a victim of the world of time. As I begin to undo that and learn that you and I are not separate—we share the same insanity, the same need, and the same goal of awakening from this insanity—then I am undoing the belief in separation. Without separation there is no sin, no guilt, no fear, and no time.
We thus see our experiences within the world of time simply as a learning instrument that Jesus uses to teach us that the problem is not outside, it is inside; and that the problem inside in the mind is one that we chose. Moreover, we can begin to understand that just as easily as we chose it, we can now choose against it.
(1:3-4) You cannot do this as long as you believe that anything happening to you is caused by factors outside yourself. You must learn that time is solely at your disposal, and that nothing in the world can take this responsibility from you.
This is not the only place where Jesus says this. We must learn that anything happening to us is not caused by factors outside us. That is very difficult, because our brains are programmed by the mind to believe just the opposite—that everything that happens to us is caused by factors outside ourselves. That is why we were born.
Don't forget about the idea of purpose. There is a purpose behind our being born. We were born so that we would learn that we are not responsible. Thus, I keep my separate identity and someone or something else gets punished for it. I am not responsible. Nothing in this world can take from me the responsibility for how I use time. It is my choice. Do I use time as a way of keeping me in the ego's world of hate, or do I use time as an instrument to help me remember what love is, by looking at the hate and then going beyond it? This course teaches that you cannot get to the light until you go through the darkness. Jesus asks us in a number of places to take his hand and then he will walk through the clouds of guilt with us. Specifically in Lesson 70 in the workbook he says, "If it helps you, think of me holding your hand and leading you. And I assure you this will be no idle fantasy" (W-pI.70.9:3-4). The clouds are the clouds of guilt—storm clouds, fierce-looking clouds, terrifying clouds—but they are nothing. We cannot walk through them by ourselves, but we can walk through them with a loving, kind, and gentle hand holding ours. We must be willing to go through them, which means there must be at least a part of us that is willing to say, "Nothing here works, and I want something that will really bring me happiness and peace." But we must be motivated by the desire to leave this dream. Once that motivation is present, we then begin the long journey; and it is a journey through the darkness, which gradually becomes lighter and lighter. That is what Jesus means when he talks about the happy dreams.