Healing the Dream of Sickness
Excerpts from the Workshop held at the
Foundation for A Course in Miracles
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
Let us look at an important passage from "The Definition of Healing" in the Psychotherapy pamphlet. This is another of those remarkable places in the material where Jesus summarizes everything in one or two sentences. In this section he has been talking about sickness, and he ends up saying that all sickness is a form of unforgiveness, and therefore that simply understanding where the sickness is coming from—what the symptom basically means—isn't going to get you anywhere. This is because what heals an unforgiveness is just one thing: forgiveness. Then he says:
(P-2.VI.6:1-3) This realization is the final goal of psychotherapy. How is it reached? The therapist sees in the patient all that he has not forgiven in himself, and is thus given another chance to look at it, open it to re-evaluation and forgive it.
That is healing. What is incredible about this statement is that it says absolutely nothing about the patient. It says nothing, absolutely nothing about the process of psychotherapy. Very simply, the way the goal of psychotherapy is reached and the way healing occurs is through the therapist forgiving himself. That is how you heal. That is how the dream of sickness ends. “The therapist sees in the patient all that he has not forgiven in himself.” This is a paradigm for what Jesus asks us to do all the time. I find myself in a situation or in a relationship in which I am angry, upset, guilty, depressed, fearful, or whatever. And of course I think it is all because of the situation or the relationship—the circumstances over which I have no control. Then, finally, I say to Jesus, "There must be another way of looking at this, because I have looked at this kind of thing all my life, I have dealt with it and coped with it all my life, and it has not made me happy. It might have made me rich, happy in terms of material things, and given me advancement, and other kinds of worldly things, but it has not really made me happy. Please help me."
Jesus does not help us by waving a magic wand to make the problem go away. He helps us by offering us his glasses so we can look at the situation his way. He helps us realize that what we are perceiving is "an outside picture of an inward condition" (T-21.in.1:5). Thus, the conflict is not between me and this other person, between me and my boss, or between me and my body. The conflict is between me and a nonexistent God—the ego's God. On the chart in the wrong-mind box you see the term battleground. I take an internal conflict between myself and this made-up insane God and I displace it onto my body, either making myself sick or making myself sick because of other people who are making me sick. In other words, I take the belief in my own sin over what I believe I have done to God and I project it out and see it in you. I am not a victim of what I have done; I am a victim of what God is about to do to me. And that punitive God is now emerging as you, whoever you are. In our early years, of course, it is our parents; and then it becomes any authority figure, anyone who has power over us, anyone who has something that we want and need: someone's love, attention, kindness, understanding, someone's appreciation of our intelligence, our work—whatever it is. That person is simply a figure or a symbol of a punitive God who is going to punish us because of our sin.
Whatever I am seeing in the situation that is making me unhappy is a projection of what I believe about myself, and that is what Jesus means in saying, "The therapist sees in the patient all that he has not forgiven in himself." The value of my patient, my friend, my spouse, my children, my parents, or anyone else is that they offer me the opportunity of seeing without what I have been so terrified to see within. They become the screen onto which I project what I have desperately tried to keep repressed in my own mind. The ego tells me that if I look within, my eyes will light on sin and God will strike me blind (T-21.IV.2:3). So I do not look within because the guilt is so horrific. Rather than look within, I look without and see the guilt in you. I am so perverse in my insanity that one of the ways I can demonstrate how guilty you are is to make myself sick because of you. I will gladly suffer just so I can say once again: Behold me, brother; at your hand I get sick. Behold me, brother; at your hand I die. Behold me, brother; at your hand I lose my job. Behold me, brother; at your hand I lose my family. Behold me, brother; at your hand I lose my health. Whatever it is.
Thus, I do not know what is inside, so I keep projecting it out until one day I say, "Please help. There has to be another way of looking." And this is Jesus' answer, which is why no one likes him. This is not the answer that we want. I am thus given another chance to look at whatever it is I have not forgiven in myself and open it to re-evaluation. The instant we chose the ego, our minds closed shut like a steel trap. A heavy gate fell, and we made a vow to the ego that we will never look again at our decision to be sinful, which means we have never had the opportunity ever since then to look at it and say perhaps it was the wrong choice and that perhaps what we chose is really nothing. We have never had the opportunity to re-evaluate it because the ego closed the book. Finished! And so now we are given another chance to look at it.
(P-2.VI.6:4) When this occurs, he [the therapist] sees his sins as gone into a past that is no longer here.
That is the bottom line, and that is what Jesus means when he speaks about gentle laughter. We are desperately holding onto something that not only is not here, but it never even happened. At the beginning of Chapter 28 he says:
“This world was over long ago. The thoughts that made it are no longer in the mind that thought of them and loved them for a little while” (T-28.I.1:6-7).
This entire world was built as a defense against something that does not exist. Now that is silly! You could not ask for anything more silly. We have literally built this entire massive defensive system to protect ourselves against an enemy that does not exist. That is why governments do such silly things—building up arms systems against enemies that do not exist. This whole course is about exposing the insanity and silliness of this. It does not make us sinful, but it certainly makes us very silly. We will defend this defense against anything. We will let no one take this world or this body away from us, not even Jesus. We will kill instead. We will destroy his message instead. But what we are holding onto is nothing. There is nothing there. That is what he is saying: "When this occurs, he sees his sins as gone into a past that is no longer here."
At the beginning of the paragraph Jesus says:
“The miracle does nothing. All it does is to undo. And thus it cancels out the interference to what has been done. It does not add, but merely takes away” (T-28.I.1:1-4).
The miracle takes away the thought system of the ego. To re-quote the line from the workbook, "It [the miracle] merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false" (W-pII.13.1:3). It is false because it is not there.
“And what it takes away is long since gone, but being kept in memory appears to have immediate effects. This world was over long ago. The thoughts that made it are no longer in the mind that thought of them and loved them but for a little while” (T-28.I.1:5-7).
So much for this great wonderful cosmos—this world that we think is so glorious. It is not here. The thoughts that made the world, the thoughts of guilt are no longer there. They are no longer there because they were never there. We just thought they were there; and then we had to build this massive defense against a thought that never existed. Is that smart? Not smart! Homo sapiens is an oxymoron, since it means "wise man."
Skip to paragraph 2.
“All the effects of guilt are here no more. [The effects of guilt is everything in the world.] For guilt is over. In its passing went its consequences, left without a cause” (T-28.I.2:1-3).
This is why the world was over long ago. There is no world! It is as if we are looking at an after-image. Sometimes you turn off a television set and there is still a little juice left, so there is a brief after-image until the image fades. This entire world is an after-image. There is no more juice in the system. The set is turned off, but we still think we see something, and we react to what we think we see.
“Why would you cling to it in memory if you did not desire its effects?” (T-28.I.2:4)
That is a very important line. Why would you still hold on to the cause—the guilt—unless you wanted the effects—the world? Why do we want the world? Because the world proves that guilt is real; guilt proves the separation is real; the separation proves that I am real. I want there to be a world because I want to keep my identity and blame everyone else for it. I need a world for that. "Hate is specific" (W-pI.161.7:1) There has to be someone I can hate, so I have to make him up. We speak of psychotic people as those who hallucinate and make up people that do not exist. The movie A Beautiful Mind is about a man who makes up a world that does not exist, and then he reacts to it as if it were real. We all do that. That is why Jesus says this entire world is an hallucination (T-20.VIII.7:3). We are all hallucinating; but we act as if the world were real. We actually think we see something on that screen in front of us. That is sickness; that is the disease. It does not matter whether you have a physical symptom or not; the fact that you believe there is a world, a body, and guilt is the disease; that is the sickness, which means that that is what has to be healed.
Going back now to the passage in the Psychotherapy pamphlet, the way you heal is you recognize that what you are perceiving outside in another person, a relationship, situation, or circumstance in your own body is a projection of what you have not forgiven in yourself. Again:
(P-2.VI.6:4-5) When this occurs, he sees his sins as gone into a past that is no longer here. Until he does this, he must think of evil as besetting him here and now.
I do not see the evil in me. I see it all around me. Everything and everyone is a potential pathogen, because they could all make me very dis-eased.
(P-2.VI.6:6) The patient is his screen for the projection of his sins, enabling him to let them go.
This is not just about psychotherapy. The same principle obviously applies to everything we do; to any person we are with, any person whom we are with in our minds because the person has died or is someone we are fantasizing about. Anything that we think about is a screen for us to project our sins onto. When we ask the right question of the right teacher, the world becomes—to use Freud's phrase—"the royal road" that leads us back inside so we can finally look at what is in our minds. Without these opportunities, without all these people in our lives, we would not have the chance of doing this, because our minds were sealed shut in that instant when the ego made guilt real. That motivated us to leave the guilt behind, vowing never to go back. This world, then, is the witness to that promise.
That is what Jesus means in the text when he says, "Swear not to die, you holy Son of God! You make a bargain that you cannot keep" (T-29.VI.2:1-2). We made a promise that we would die, because that is what the body does, and then we blame everything and everyone else for that death. But we cannot do it because it is all made up. We can think the ego is right, and we can think we can make up a world that proves the ego is right, but that does not make it real.