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.
How Many Teachers of God Are Needed to Save the World? (M-12)
Let us turn now to the section in the manual that answers the question, "How Many Teachers of God Are Needed to Save the World?" (M-12). We are not going to address that question here, but we will skip to the fourth paragraph, where the section begins to speak of how the teacher of God looks at the body. Basically we will contrast the ego's use of the body—which is always to attack, to keep separate, and to reinforce the ego's thought system—with the Holy Spirit's use of the body as a classroom. The body in and of itself has no purpose or meaning, but it can serve the holy purpose the Holy Spirit gives to it—to be a classroom in which we learn our lessons of forgiveness so that the body can then become an instrument or puppet through which the Voice of Love speaks.
(4:1) Yet what makes God's teachers is their recognition of the proper purpose of the body.
This is really speaking about what establishes one as an advanced teacher of God.
(4:2) As they advance in their profession, they become more and more certain that the body's function is but to let God's Voice speak through it to human ears.
Thus I want to get my ego and my investment in the body out of the way, so that God's Love will speak through my body.
(4:3) And these ears will carry to the mind of the hearer messages that are not of this world, and the mind will understand because of their Source.
The messages will be expressed in the forms of the world, for otherwise they could not be understood here. But their Source is not of this world. They come from love rather than fear.
(4:4-5) From this understanding will come the recognition, in this new teacher of God, of what the body's purpose really is; the only use there really is for it. This lesson is enough to let the thought of unity come in, and what is one is recognized as one.
The thought of unity would be reflected in the recognition that everything in the world is seen as serving the same purpose. This is not to deny that this is a world of multiplicity, as the Hindus say, or that everyone is different and separate within the world of illusion, the world of form. But we are all joined in sharing a common purpose. That is the thought of unity. So although the bodies of the world would seem to witness to separation and separate interests, when given over to the Holy Spirit they serve as a classroom in which we learn that we are all really the same because we all share the same need to return home.
(4:6) The teachers of God appear to share the illusion of separation, but because of what they use the body for, they do not believe in the illusion despite appearances.
A teacher of God uses all the forms of the world, all the illusions of separation, but for a different purpose. Let me read something that I quoted earlier from Lesson 155 in the workbook:
"There is a way of living in the world that is not here, although it seems to be. You do not change appearance, though you smile more frequently. Your forehead is serene; your eyes are quiet. And the ones who walk the world as you do recognize their own. Yet those who have not yet perceived the way will recognize you also, and believe that you are like them, as you were before" (W-pI.155.1).
So as a teacher of God I still look like everyone else. The only difference is that I smile more and there is greater peace within me. And so I look like everyone else, do what everyone else does, and share in all the illusions of the world. I do not separate myself out from the illusions of the world. I join with them, operate within them, fulfill all the same roles that everyone else does. The difference is that I realize that they are only appearances, and we are sharing only an illusion. But while joining on the level of the illusion of the form, I give a different content—the content of forgiveness or love.
As we said at the beginning of this workshop, the goal is to be in the world and yet realize we are not of it. An advanced teacher of God feels thoroughly comfortable with the body and does not see it as an enemy or as a source of shame, embarrassment, or pleasure. He sees it simply as an inherently neutral instrument that can serve a holy purpose. The advanced teacher of God also feels thoroughly comfortable within the world and does not feel that it is hostile, evil, threatening, or imprisoning. Rather, the world is seen as a classroom.
Those who feel a discomfort in being in the world and in the body are still somewhat trapped, because they are making the world and the body real. As a teacher of God my goal is to be in this world and to be comfortable in it, but to be comfortable because I recognize that there is nothing in the world that I want or need or have to avoid. So I can walk this world in peace because I know that I am a child of peace, and that the Prince of Peace is walking with me. That is how the advanced teacher is different. But I would look like everyone else unless I am very specifically told that I should do something different. And that is relatively rare. Returning to the manual:
(5:1-3) The central lesson is always this; that what you use the body for it will become to you. Use it for sin or for attack [which, of course, is specialness], which is the same as sin, and you will see it as sinful. Because it is sinful it is weak, and being weak, it suffers and it dies.
This is the ego's use of the body. If I listen to the voice of my ego and use the body as a weapon, as a way of stealing from the world, then I am using it for the purposes of sin and attack, and consequently I will see the body as sinful. I must also see myself as sinful, because I am using my body for a sinful purpose. If the body is sinful it must be weak, because it is separated from God—sinfulness is really separation. And if I am separate from God, Who is my only strength, then I must be weak. And if the body is weak, it will suffer and die. Since I believe that my body is weak and sinful, I must believe that my body will suffer and die.
That is the illusion we all labor under. We are using the body to serve the ego's sinful purpose, and so the body becomes identified with that purpose. And, of course, since we identify ourselves with the body, then we also see ourselves as sinful, weak, and capable of suffering and of dying. But this really has nothing to do with the body. It has to do with the purpose we have given to the body.
And now we hear the Holy Spirit's use of the body:
(5:4) Use it to bring the Word of God to those who have it not, and the body becomes holy.
When the body is used as an instrument of salvation or forgiveness—that is the "Word of God"—then it becomes holy. Not because the body in and of itself is holy, but its purpose is now holy.
(5:5) Because it is holy it cannot be sick, nor can it die.
Remember again that the body does not get sick or die. The mind gives the body the orders. And if the only Voice in my mind giving orders to the body is that of holiness, then the body cannot be sick because sickness is an expression of guilt. If there is no guilt but only the holiness of the Holy Spirit in my mind, then my body cannot become an expression of guilt, which means it cannot be sick.
(5:6-7) When its usefulness is done it is laid by, and that is all. The mind makes this decision, as it makes all decisions that are responsible for the body's condition.
We see here again a very clear statement that the body does not do anything; it simply carries out the wishes of the mind. So death means only that the body's usefulness is completed. If I attend a classroom in a university, when I have passed the course, done all the lessons, learned all that the professor can give me, then I have completed the class and I am finished with it. That is what this is. The body is laid by once it has served its purpose as a classroom. That is all that death is.
(5:8-9) Yet the teacher of God does not make this decision alone. To do that would be to give the body another purpose from the one that keeps it holy.
The decision is made with the Holy Spirit. If I decide by myself, I am making the decision with my ego all over again. So I really cannot decide by myself, as the text explains (T-30.I.14). I decide with either the ego or the Holy Spirit. So to make the decision alone to lay my body down really means that I do it with my ego instead of with the Holy Spirit. And that, of course, is the original problem—we decided on our own and we separated ourselves from God. We in effect said to God, "I don't need You anymore." If I make the decision with my ego or, in other words, without the Holy Spirit, I am giving the body another purpose: to represent the ego's thought system of separation and attack.
(5:10-12) God's Voice will tell him when he has fulfilled his role, just as It tells him what his function is. He does not suffer either in going or remaining. Sickness is now impossible to him.
If my mind is joined in love with the Holy Spirit, I am guided either to stay in the body awhile longer or to leave it. I will feel no pain or suffering either way; it will make absolutely no difference. As I said earlier, it would have made no difference to Jesus on the day he was crucified whether he had been guided just to take a stroll instead. So we just do one thing or the other, and we do not experience any pain, suffering, or pleasure associated with either activity. The real pleasure comes from identifying with God's Will, and the real pain or suffering comes from dissociating myself from God's Will.
Now this does not mean that we can live eternally within the body. But anything less than eternity, in principle, would be possible. Once we can accept the underlying premise that the world is not here at all, and that the mind is not in the body but simply tells the body what to do, all these thoughts become very clear and logically follow from the original premises.
(6:1) Oneness and sickness cannot coexist.
This is an interesting choice of words, because sickness here obviously is being associated with the lack of oneness, or separation. This is another way of saying that I cannot listen to two voices simultaneously. If I do not want to hear the Holy Spirit's Voice, then I turn up the volume on the ego, which drowns out the Holy Spirit. Of course, the opposite is true as well.
(6:2-4) God's teachers choose to look on dreams a while. It is a conscious choice. For they have learned that all choices are made consciously, with full awareness of their consequences.
God's teachers consciously choose to live in the world of the body. Lesson 136, "Sickness is a defense against the truth," explicitly states that defenses—and sickness is seen as a defense—are chosen consciously. Then, just as quickly as they are chosen, the ego drops a veil of forgetfulness or denial and we forget that we have chosen them (W-pI.136.3-4). Similarly, when our ego mind made up this world, we then forgot that we made it. And then it appears as if I suddenly came into the world, which exists independently of my mind. It is the same with sickness—we forget that we have chosen to be sick, and then it appears as if the sickness has chosen us. So then I am sick because a germ or a virus is going around, but I am not responsible for it.
The teacher of God has learned that everything is a conscious choice. When we say something is out of awareness or unconscious, we are really talking about the effects of fear. The unconscious is not a place—it is a dynamic or a process. And it is a dynamic of fear. I have chosen to see, experience, or feel something. And then I become afraid of it and say I don't want to look at it. At that point I have denied it. We say that we have repressed it and it has gone into the unconscious, as if there were a cellar in our minds where thoughts are stored. In reality, all it is is fear. So an advanced teacher of God has no fear, and no unconscious. Someone like Jesus is totally aware of everything all the time.
(6:5) The dream says otherwise, but who would put his faith in dreams once they are recognized for what they are?
The dream, which is the ego's world, says otherwise: that choices are not made consciously and that, in fact, I do not make them at all. Things are done to me. I am a victim of things that happen outside of my control. And that is essential if the ego's plan is going to work, because I would not put my faith in the world if I remembered that I made it up. I can only put faith in the world—which my ego wants me to do as a defense against God—if I believe it is real. I can believe the world is real only by forgetting that I made it up and that it has no existence outside my mind.
So sickness is a defense against the truth, because it is a way of protecting myself against God and blaming you for my suffering and pain. The text explains in several places that sickness really is my way of attacking you (e.g., T-27.I.4). If I am going to use sickness as a defense, and use it successfully, I must believe my sickness is real. If I were to remember where the sickness came from, it could not help me anymore because I would realize that it is all made up, that the sickness is really in my mind. And if my attention is refocused back within my mind, at some point I am going to remember Who else is in my mind. And that is what my ego is so terrified of—the "Who else."
In order for sickness to be successful as a defense, it is imperative that I believe its source is outside my mind. That is what the line means, "The dream says otherwise, but who would put his faith in dreams once they are recognized for what they are?" What they really are are projections of what is within my mind.
(6:6) Awareness of dreaming is the real function of God's teachers.
This is the same, as we mentioned earlier, as becoming a lucid dreamer. When we sleep at night, it is possible to train our minds to become aware that we are dreaming—that is lucid dreaming. I am dreaming, but within the dream I know that I am dreaming. The purpose of the Course is to teach us to become lucid dreamers in the world, to be aware that all of this is a dream and nothing else.
(6:7-8) They watch the dream figures come and go, shift and change, suffer and die. Yet they are not deceived by what they see.
We do not deny all that happens in the world. We do not deny what appears to be suffering, dying, and all the other changes that occur in the world. But we are not deceived by them, because we realize that we are watching only dream figures.
(6:9) They recognize that to behold a dream figure as sick and separate is no more real than to regard it as healthy and beautiful.
There are some very clear statements in this passage. The joy is in knowing that nothing here is good; nothing here is bad. Nothing here is healthy; nothing here is sick. Nothing here is alive; nothing here is dead. As an advanced teacher of God, I live with these understandings. I live in the world, fully operating as a puppet with all the other puppets, doing what everyone else does. But I realize that it is all a dream and that it is all made up. And that makes my mind fully accessible to the Love of God within, which means everything I do will be loving and comforting. Not as the world judges it, because the world's love and comfort always has a hook—a price that has to be paid for it.
The love that comes from Jesus has no price or cost associated with it. So I can be fully present to all suffering and pain because I realize there is no suffering and pain, only a belief in it. The power of love in my mind then extends to the misbelief in your mind and heals it. I simply am a reminder of where the truth and the healing are.
(6:10-11) Unity alone is not a thing of dreams. And it is this [this unity which is God] God's teachers acknowledge as behind the dream, beyond all seeming and yet surely theirs.
Dreams produce a world of multiplicity, separation, and duality—not unity. So I live in the world, but I know that I am not of it. I know that I am of Heaven, of unity, and that I have never left my Father's house. And yet I still live within the world of dreams. That is the challenge—to be fully present to the world of dreams, but not to be taken in by anything that occurs here. Being joined with the Love of God in my mind allows me to do that.