What It Means to Be a Teacher of God
Excerpts from the workshop held at the
Foundation for A Course in Miracles
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
The Function of the Teacher of God (M-5.III)
Let us turn back now to the manual. We will start with the section called "The Function of the Teacher of God", which is the third subsection of "How Is Healing Accomplished?" (M-5). We will read only the second paragraph. This is probably the clearest statement of what we have been talking about. We will address it specifically in terms of the topic of healing in the context of being a teacher of God.
As we have seen repeatedly, a teacher of God does not do anything. If I do anything, if I believe there is a problem that has to be resolved, a sickness that has to be healed, then I become a part of the problem. All I must do is have my mind be healed and then trust that the Love of God will work through me. And it will be that Love that gives instructions to this puppet—my body. It is as if I now let the Holy Spirit be the puppeteer and let Him pull the strings of my body, so that the message given to my body is only one of love. Then whatever my body does or says or thinks will come from love.
So the focus is not on what my body does. The focus is merely on shifting my mind from choosing the ego as my puppeteer to choosing the Holy Spirit. The next reading, "How Many Teachers of God Are Needed to Save the World?" (M-12), addresses this. So when I am in the presence of someone in pain, my only function is to allow my mind to be healed so that the message that I will be giving is that the ego is wrong and the Holy Spirit is right, and that the Holy Spirit's presence of Love is alive and well. In essence, I will be telling the other person: you will remember that love in yourself because you will see it and experience it in me. That is my only purpose.
(M-5.III.2:1) To them God's teachers come, to represent another choice which they had forgotten.
The "them" would be those who believe that they are sick; and this refers not just to physical sickness. Anyone having a concern or problem is sick. Any belief that the ego is real is sickness. We have all forgotten the choice. We believe the choice for the ego that we originally made is irrevocable, and that there is no hope and no way out. This means we have forgotten there is another choice, another presence, another teacher in our minds. So, as one of God's teachers, we want to be the reminder that there really is another presence we can choose.
(2:2) The simple presence of a teacher of God is a reminder.
I do not have to say or do anything. I just have to be there.
(2:3) His thoughts ask for the right to question what the patient has accepted as true.
In other words, you have accepted as true that the ego's thought system is the only thought system. The peace and the love that I have chosen within myself that I am experiencing, and that you now are experiencing within me, is basically saying to you, "Maybe there is something else here. Maybe there is another way to look at this." In effect, it is an invitation to you to open up your mind to the possibility that there is another way of perceiving yourself and the situation.
(2:4-6) As God's messengers, His teachers are the symbols of salvation. They ask the patient for forgiveness for God's Son in his own Name. They stand for the Alternative.
Again, this has nothing to do with what I say or do. But the love that is coming through me is asking you to forgive yourself by not taking your ego thought system as seriously as you have, and by not making the error real. So I simply represent the presence of the Holy Spirit or Jesus.
(2:7) With God's Word in their minds they come in benediction, not to heal the sick but to remind them of the remedy God has already given them.
God's Word is the Atonement principle. And what I bring is my acceptance of what the Holy Spirit is saying: namely, that the separation from God has never happened, that only love is true, only love is real, and nothing else has affected it. That is extremely important. My job is not to heal you of your sickness, whatever its form, not to take away the problem or make it go away, not to make everything nice. That is not my function. My function is simply to be the reminder that there is a solution to your problem that is present within your mind. I do not have to solve the problem for you because the Love of God within your mind will do it. And if I try to do it for you—to take away your pain—I am putting myself in the Holy Spirit's place, usurping His function. And I am really teaching the exact opposite of what you want to learn. At that point I am teaching you that there is a substitute for God: me!
Let me comment a little further on this, because it is really a central idea. The temptation always is to try to make the situation better—always. If we could just keep this thought in mind: all I need to do is experience the remedy within myself, and then know and trust that that remedy is also within your mind. The Love of God is the remedy that will solve the problem. I do not have to solve it. If I try to solve it, I am really teaching the exact opposite. I am teaching that there is a substitute for God and that I will now represent God for you. I will magically heal your problem and take away the pain. I cannot take away the pain, Jesus cannot take away the pain, because you are the one who put the pain there. What Jesus does is simply shine his love in your mind and through that shining say, "My brother or my sister, choose again." That is all his love does. His love does not take away the pain unless and until we bring the pain to him. Then it is taken away.
The source of pain is the guilt and fear that I believe I have locked away in my mind. Jesus does not break through my defenses and shine the darkness away. He convinces me gently and lovingly that I will be happier if I open up my fist—if I let go of my resistance, if I let go of the need for a defense. His love is the reminder that I can let go, and his gentleness allows me over a period of time to do that. His love and his light shine away what was never there. But Jesus does not do this for me. I am the one who has to unlock or unclench my fist. I am the one who has to take the key: forgiveness, the shift in mind that opens up the locked vault. I do that holding his hand, which of course is the only way I can do it. Jesus cannot do it for me. I must do it. Pain and suffering are my responsibility because I chose them, but Jesus represents the other answer. He represents the alternative that says, "Don't be afraid. Open up your mind and let my love heal what is there because nothing is there." Basically, Jesus heals what does not exist.
It is essential in all this that I remember my purpose. My purpose is not to make the problems disappear. My purpose is to accept that my problems have disappeared because I have chosen God's Love instead of the ego's hate. And that is all I do. At that point, the forgiveness and the love in my mind are the beacon of light that reminds you that the same choice is open to you. I do not make the choice for you. I do not try to pressure you into making the choice. I simply stand as the reminder that you, too, can choose as I have.
(2:8-9) It is not their hands that heal. It is not their voice that speaks the Word of God.
These are just two of the thousands of different ways that people attempt to heal. People who lay on hands believe they have a special touch that heals, as if they have something others do not have, as if the power of God works through their bodies. It can't work through a body; it works through a mind. People may have "healing hands," in the sense that blasts of heat come from them—there is no question about that. But blasts of heat are simply different forms of physical energy, like electromagnetism, which can get very hot.
Spirit is not energy in the sense in which we think of energy. When spirit is equated with energy, we are making the body real. However, if you believe you can heal through your hands, and if I am sick and believe and have faith that you can heal me through your hands—"faith healing"—then you and your hands become a symbol through which the love in my mind will flow. But your hands do not heal. Only the Love of God heals.
This is essential to understand. If I believe I can heal only through my hands, I am limiting the Love of God. What happens if I am in an accident and lose my hands? If love is love and love heals, it must heal all of the time, because there is no time or place where love is not. Love is not in the body. However, if I can experience God's Love only through the limitation of my body—which is usually the case for us—then the body will appear as if it is doing the healing. In reality, the body is just a vehicle for seemingly joining on the physical level, but the real joining is on the level of the mind.
Likewise, believing that saying certain prayers will heal is the same attempt to limit God. Or if I believe healing comes only through a period of fasting—as the Bible sometimes describes—or that healing comes through surgery or other traditional or non-traditional medical means, I am saying that healing is of the body: the body heals and the body is healed. I am then substituting form for content. But it is the content that heals. Remember: healing does not do anything—it simply undoes what never was. We do that by bringing our ego thoughts to the Love of God in our minds. That is what healing is.
(2:10) They [the teachers of God] merely give what has been given them.
And, of course, the giving is not on the level of behavior. Giving is letting the Love of God that has been given me extend through me. It is very easy, very simple. Practicing psychotherapy, for example, then becomes very simple. I do not do anything except pay attention to the ego's doing in me, which I bring to the Holy Spirit. That is all I do. And it is the same for anything I do, any occupation or profession.
(2:11-12) Very gently they call to their brothers to turn away from death: "Behold, you Son of God, what life can offer you. Would you choose sickness in place of this?"
When A Course in Miracles says I call to my brothers, it does not mean verbally. The very presence of love in my mind is the call to you, because minds are joined. It is a way of saying, "choose again," as this line says. Most of the time we would not say words like these, although at times we might. The words are not important; but this is the thought. I do not even have to think this thought in my mind. I only have to be absolutely peaceful and feel the Love of God or the love of Jesus coming through me, from within me. That love then represents these words that you and I both have another choice.
Remember: The whole problem arose, going back to the original instant, when the ego said, "Choose me instead of the Holy Spirit. Don't listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to you. The separation really has happened." At that point I forgot that I had a choice because I chose the ego and I locked the Holy Spirit away in a box. And I have never thought about my choice again. Everything that has happened since has come from the belief that I chose once and for all, and that is it! Now I believe I have all these choices in the world, but they are really all expressions of the one choice that I have already made, which I swore to my ego I would never reconsider. I have turned God into a liar and the ego into truth. So I have to realize that I do indeed have a choice. And my choice is not between which doctor I should call or which form of help I should get. The choice is between listening to my ego and listening to the Holy Spirit. I do have a choice. And so as teachers of God we represent that choice: the choice for life instead of the choice for death.
This does not mean, however, that we should not go to a doctor when we are sick. We just do not want to confuse form with content, or magic with the miracle. Let me read something relevant to this from early in the text: "All material means that you accept as remedies for bodily ills are restatements of magic principles" (T-2.IV.4:1). This is referring to interventions such as taking medicine, going to a doctor, using what is considered New Age medicine like acupuncture, or dieting, taking vitamins, exercising, standing on your head, or whatever.
Jesus continues: "This is the first step in believing that the body makes its own illness. It is a second misstep to attempt to heal it through non-creative agents" (T-2.IV.4:2-3). The first mistake is believing that my body is sick and that my body, not my mind, made the sickness. Once I accept that, the second step automatically follows: if my body is sick then I must do something on the level of the body, on the physical level, to take care of the illness. This passage is saying it is a mistake to do that.
But then Jesus says, "It does not follow, however, that the use of such agents for corrective purposes is evil. Sometimes the illness has a sufficiently strong hold over the mind to render a person temporarily inaccessible to the Atonement" (T-2.IV.4:4-5). I think Jesus is being kind here—this is true for us most of the time. The ego has told us that if we accept the real healing—the acceptance of the Atonement—we will be destroyed. Accepting the Holy Spirit's Love and presence is the real healing. But I almost always am too afraid of that because the ego has told me that if I get too close to the Holy Spirit I will not be healed, I will be destroyed. A line in the workbook says, "You think you are destroyed, but you are saved" (W-pI.93.4:4).
But as long as that fear is within me—and I made up the sickness in the first place to keep the real source of the fear hidden from me—to be told it is all in my mind and I only have to change my mind will be very threatening. My ego tells me that if I go back into my mind, I will get back in touch with the part of my mind that chose to attack God, and God, Who is also there in my mind, will destroy me for that attack. That is my fear. So Jesus says, "In this case [as long as that fear is there], it may be wise to utilize a compromise approach to mind and body, in which something from the outside is temporarily given healing belief. This is because the last thing that can help the non-right-minded, or the sick, is an increase in fear" (T-2.IV.4:6-7).
So suppose I am sick and I know what the Course teaches—that all sickness is a form of unforgiveness. But I am not ready yet to forgive you truly, to change my mind about you. I know ultimately that is what I must do, but in the meantime I am still in a lot of pain. The most loving thing I can do for myself at that point then is to see a magician, whether it is a doctor, an acupuncturist, a healer, etc., who can alleviate my pain. Whatever I believe will help me is what will help me. Thus going to a doctor is a form of magic that will take away my pain. It will not take away my guilt or unforgiveness, but it will at least take away my physical pain. And going to the doctor can also be an expression of joining. Basically I am saying to the doctor, "The only help that I can accept from God, at this point, is through you." In turn, the doctor is saying to me, "The only help that I can give you from God, at this point, is through my magic." So we are both joining, sharing a common purpose of helping and being helped. And that is healing. But because I am too afraid of the healing, I believe that what helps me is the form of magic that the doctor is giving me.